Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Book Shopping

I love Daily 5!! Today was my second day introducing D5 and it went amazingly well today too. My scholars have built their stamina to seven minutes and are begging for more reading time. I'm loving it. Tomorrow I will introduce the cafe lesson tune into interesting words and my scholars will be able to pick their own spot to read to self. I am extremely excited to see how that goes.

I also taught my scholars how to use ourclassroom library. We discussed the various sections, the importance of keeping it neat and organized, how to check out and return books, and our one weekly shopping day. After this discussion, my scholars were super excited to "shop" for books. Even my most challenging students were eager to pick out books to fill their baskets. Check out the picture of the full book baskets.

You can also see the check out cards in that picture. As they shop for books, scholars will write the book title and bin/shelf number where they got the book from. This will make returning book easier because they wrote down exactly where each book belongs. Here is a better pic.

(Please ignore the handwriting.)

I wish I had remembered to take pictures of my scholars actually shopping for books, but I forgot. I hope this excitement about books and reading lasts all year!!

How do you have students check out books from the classroom library?

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Daily 5 Day 1!!

14? 14? Really only 14 students. 7 students did not show up. I thought for sure I would have more students enroll today but I was wrong. I still have only 14 students. I guess they will wait until after Labor Day to start.

Anyway I still had to go on with my plans for the week which included starting Daily 5 today, which was day 2 for students. When I read Daily 5 and The Cafe Book this summer, I was a little confused as to how to begin them both simultaneously, but one of my collegues found a Daily 5 for Dummies and shared it with me. If I knew the link I would share it. I think she just Googled it and found it. I definitely recommend using it. It is helping me see how they flow together.

Even though I knew that I wanted to implement D5 and cafe, I was nervous to start because it was different than anything I had ever done. But it was a huge success. We started by creating an anchor chart for how to come and sit on the carpet, (our mini lesson location). The students modeled the right and wrong way to do it. They got a big kick out of doing it the wrong way.

Then I introduced read to self and we created the i-chart for that. My scholars did a great job of telling what they should do, but struggled with what I should be doing. They truly thought that I should be using the computer or grading papers. (This makes me wonder what other teachers do in their classrooms.) After I got them away from those ideas, we eventually came up with some much better choices. We modeled the right and wrong way to read to self and referee back to the i-chart.

It was then time for the class to practice. I followed the sister's advice and placed students around the room and I I'm glad I did. This allowed me to show my scholars exactly the places in the room they were allowed to sit. After 3 minutes, we stopped, returned to the carpet and discussed how we did, referring back to the i-chart. My scholars were not satisfied with 3 minutes and wanted to read more. (I have never had students beg to read.) I loved it. We practiced for another 3 minutes and reviewed what we did. Marvelous!!

According to the D5 for Dummies I should have also introduced Check for Understanding from the Cafe Book, but I didn't have enough time so I will start my literacy block tomorrow with that and review read to self.

If D5 goes this well the rest of the year, I know I will have a lot of time to work with my scholars in small groups and individually which means they will show a large amount of growth. I am so excited!!

Are you using Daily 5 this school year? How did your first lesson go?

Monday, August 27, 2012

I Survived!!

Today marked my 10th first day as a teacher and I survived. Time really flies. I can't believe that I've been out of college for almost 10 years.

No matter how many times I've done this, I never feel fully prepared and today was no different. I started feeling sick during open house on Friday and despite sleeping for almost 15 hours Saturday night/half the day Sunday and doing all I could to get rid of my cold, I still felt awful today. So my philosophy was "Fake it, til I make it." To be completely honest, I wasn't super excited about today, but I made it through, I survived.

Today was actually a pretty good day. It went really smoothly. I had actually over planned so there was no lapse in time. I did however lose track of time at the end of the day and had to rush my students to get packed up on time. But I am almost always running late so that wasn't too out of the ordinary.

The only downfall of the day was that I only had 14 of the 21 students on my roster show up. I work at a very transient school so missing 7 students on the first day is always possible. I would usually be happy about having only 14 but all of my teammates had at least 18 of their students show up which means that every new fifth grader that gets enrolled will be assigned to my room so I will be constantly reintroducing rules and procedures, which I hate. I will just have to see how the next few days go.

I'm feeling a little better tonight and hopefully I'll feel even better tomorrow. 1 day down, 179 to go.

How was your first day of school?

Friday, August 24, 2012

School Starts Monday!!! Classroom pictutes

The time has finally come. After 7 days of trainings, meetings, and working in my room, we had open house today and school officially starts on Monday! I must say that I am extremely excited for this school year. I have been to more professional development sessions and read more professional books this summer than ever. I have also spent countless hours on pinterest an reading blogs. Because of all of this, I know that I will be a much better teacher this year.

But best of all, my room is finally finished. Here it is.

Let's start with pictures of the entire classroom.

Add caption

View from my desk area looking toward back of room.

View from back door looking toward front of room.

View from door looking across back of room.

Now some close up pics.

Smartboard and white board - I love my smartboard. I don't know what I would do without it.

Storage cabinets under back counter. Book recommendations and pocket charts for word work activities

Computer and file cabinet in back right corner of room

Second student computer and book baskets

More cabinets under back counter, sink, cubbies will hold paper products

Art cart with student center - 3 hole punch, stapler, paper clips, tape, homework trays

Behind door - reminders board, job assignments pockets, where are you going dry erase board

Shelves above back counter - dictionaries, encyclopedias, reading materials, data binders

Math shelf

Classroom library - I have already written a post about my classroom library.

You can see the bottom of the Reading Cafe and Writing Voices boards. I forgot to get pictures of those.

Accelerated Reader Goal Chart - students will set a point goal and move along based on the percentage toward their goal

Check out this other post about the Nifty Thrifty Fifty chart.

Well that's my room. My scholars start on Monday. I can't wait to get this year started.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Classroom Library

I attended several professional development workshops and read several books over the summer and heard about the importance of having a well organized classroom library. My library has always been organized, but it has always been by level; either according to AR level or by Fountas and Pinnell guided reading level. But, after all the pd I received this summer, I knew I needed to do more.

Therefore, my goal when heading to school on Wednesday was to completely reorganize all if my books. I was kidding myself because I thought I would be able to finish the whole project in a few hours.

Here are a couple of before pictures. I obviously had a lot of work to do.

After sorting through my books, I came up with the following categories:

* Genres - general fiction, realistic fiction, historical fiction, folktales, fairy tales, legends, tall tales, poetry, biographies, mysteries, science content, social studies content, math content
* Author studies
* Novel sets
* Leveled Library

Here is the final product. (I included a lot of pictures.)

Entire library

Novel Sets

Content Area books - science, social studies, math

Leveled Library

Genres and Author Studies

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Nifty Thrifty Fifty

Today was my first official day back to work, but I've been working on my room for about a week. I thought I'd be finished by now, but additional things keep popping up that are extremely distracting. I also took on the task of reorganizing my classroom library, which is taking forever. It is almost finished, however I need shelves. (I was delivered a book case with no shelves today.) SO FRUSTRATING!!!

Anyway, I wanted to share something that I have completed before my big reveal next week.

Nifty Thrifty Fifty

I read about this amazing concept this summer in this book that I received at a Balanced Literacy workshop.

The purpose is to teach various roots, affixes, and spelling patterns. These fifty words contain most of the most common roots, affixes, and spelling patterns that kids will encounter while reading and writing. Patricia Cunningham suggests that five words are introduced and posted each week so that around the end of first quarter the students have learned all of them. They will then be left up the rest of the year so that students can use them to reference. So if a student asks how to spell a word, you could tell them to refer to a specific word on the list for assistance.

For example: One of the words is underweight. You could have the following teaching points:
1. The prefix under meaning below
2. The long a spelling - eigh
3. The r enforced vowel - /er/
4. The base word weigh

That's four teaching points in one word. Amazing!

The picture above shows the completed chart. I have taken all the cards down to prepare for the beginning of the year.

If you would like a copy of the list of words and teaching points for each, follow my blog and leave a comment below with your email address and I will be happy to share.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Bulletin Board and Classroom Door

I was able to spend about 6 more hours in my room today. But there is so much that I still need to do. I did accomplished a lot today and I will give a full class tour when I'm completely finished, but I do want to share a few things tonight.

First, the outside of my room. My big idea this year is for my students to view themselves as scholars and start thinking about what it takes to go to college and have a successful career. My scholars will be introduced to this idea before they walk in the room.

This a picture of the bulletin board outside my room. The cut outs say _________ is a scholar. I will fill in their names right before school starts. On the first day of school we will discuss what it means to be a scholar. After the discussion, my scholars will write a few sentences explaining how they will be scholars this school year. These sentences will go under the flap with their name along with their picture.

The next two pictures are of my door.

In my district, we are asked to emphasize the expectation of our students to graduate from high school so at my school we place their graduation year outside our doors. My students will be graduating in 2020. (I feel so old.)

To go along with my scholars theme, I placed this on my door. I got the general idea from pinterest. I just adapted it so that it fit the scholars theme.

That's it for my sneak peek for tonight. My next big task is my class library. This is how it looks now. I have a lot of sorting to do and I'm not looking forward to it.

My question is...

How is your classroom library organized?

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Educational Time Fillers

Today I'm linking up with Christie from 3-6 Free Resources for her Educational Time Fillers Linky Party.

My favorite time filler are Wrap Around Games, also known as I Have, Who Has. Basically I pass out all the cards. Each student gets at least 1 and depending on the amount of cards you may have students with more than one. Usually, the first card says "I have the first card, who has __________?" The student holding this card starts. The game continues with the student who is holding the answer to the first card. Continuing until you "wrap around" the entire class.

I have sets of these cards for reading, math, science, and following directions (my favorite). These are a great time filler because you are also reviewing vocabulary, practicing fluency, math facts, listening skills, and keeping students engaged.

You can also make it a competition by timing them the first time, redistributing the cards and see if they can beat their previous time.

My scholars love wrap arounds.

I tried to upload pictures of the books that I have, but for some reason I can't so here are some links of where you can find them.

Really Good Stuff

Just search for I Have, Who Has or wrap around games and you will find them for all grade levels and subject areas.

What are your go to time fillers? I look forward to seeing what everyone else does to keep their students engaged every minute of the day.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Advice for New Teachers

I am joining a linky party for the first time by linking up with Linda at Tales of a Fifth Grade Teacher for her Advice for New Teachers linky party.

I will be a mentor for the first time this year and I've been thinking of what advice I would have wanted when I was a first year teacher. Here it is.

1. Listen - The veteran teachers around you have a lot of advice. Soak in everything you can. Everything that is happening to you has happened before and they can help you through almost every situation.

2. Ask questions - If you have a question ask it immediately. Let people know when you are confused about something. Most people in your school building will be happy to help. Understand that you are not alone.

3. Generate a list of class procedures you want to implement. Write down every step of each procedure do that when you are ready to teach them, you know exactly what you are going to say/model and you appear confident in front of you students. Be consistent with the procedures and know that it will take lots of practice for students to get all procedures correct. Therefore you will most likely need to model them multiple times.

4. Set classroom behavior expectations and stick to them. Be consistent with them from day 1. It is much easier start out being strict and then lighten up than the opposite.

5. KISS - Keep It Super Simple. Don't try to do everything that the other teachers on your grade level are doing. Pick a few things and master them, then add a few more things to your teacher toolkit. It is better to do a few things extremely well than to do a bunch of things half way. Understand that you most likely won't be able to manage everything your teammates are doing. They have much more experience and were once where you are now.

6. Avoid the teachers lounge as much as possible. This is where much of the gossip occurs and you don't have time to deal with that. Teaching your students is much more important.

7. Don't plaster your classroom walls with store bought posters before school starts. Your walls should show what you are currently teaching or have already taught. You should be making anchor charts while you are teaching and hanging those on the walls for students to reference while they are practicing the skills and strategies. If you hang posters all over your room prior to teaching anything, those posters become decorations and will not be used by students. It is ok for your room to be relatively bare at the beginning of the year.

8. The most important thing to know on the first day of school is HOW IS EACH CHILD GETTING HOME? And then to get them to the proper location at the end of the day.

I hope this advice is helpful.

Friday, August 10, 2012

English Language Learners Day 2

Today was the second half of the English Language Learners Workshop. See Teaching English Language Learners for information on the first day.

Today our focus was writing. We did several activities.

Write Around - Students work in cooperative groups of 4. Each student gets a piece of paper and they are given the beginning of a topic sentence. Our sentence starter today was Humans are a major cause of global warming due to ____________. Each student is asked to complete the sentence starter. When finished with the first sentence they pass the paper to the next person in the group. Each student reads what was previously written and adds another sentence on that paper, then passes the paper. This continues for a given amount of time. Once you signal them to stop, the read each of the compositions and select the best in the group. You can then use that composition to practice editing and revising.

This activity should be done after reading a text and the topic should be text related so that the students can use what they read to help generate ideas. It helps ELLs because they are able to see the flow of writing from their peers and are encouraged to use the tier 2 and tier 3 vocabulary words they learned from the text. (See day 1 for information on tiered vocabulary words.)

Tear Up - Tear Up was my favorite activity of the day. Students are given pieces of constuction paper and tear it up into pictures/symbols. They can be given a specific topic, be based on a text, or be of their choosing. It all depends on what the purpose of the lesson is. After they create the pictures, they glue them down and write their own story about the pictures. They are once again required to use the learned tiered vocabulary.

Here are the criteria we were given.
- Narrative writing
- Conflict about rules at school
- Must include dialogue
- Must include at least 5 of the given tier 2 and 3 words

Here is what we came up with. There were 5 groups. (Sorry if the some of them are difficult to read.)

I really enjoyed the workshop these last two days and look forward to using these activities this school year.

If you want more information about Margarita Calderon click on the link.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Teaching English Language Learners

About 50% of my school population are students who are learning English as their second language. Many of them started at the school with little or no English proficiency. Therefore we have to not only focus on teaching the academic content, but also the basics of the English language. This is a huge focus at my school, which is why we are extremely fortunate to have an on-site training by an expert on the topic. Margarita Calderon is presenting a workshop on strategies we can use to help our ELLs acquire English while still focusing on academic content. Her book is pictured below.

A major focus is vocabulary acquisition. She discusses the three different tiers of words.

Tier 1 - basic words, usually words that you can associate with a picture, i.e. book, school, teacher
Tier 2 - everyday words and phrases, homophones, homonyms, idioms, metaphors, transitional phrases, multiple meaning words, etc.
Tier 3 - content specific vocabulary

It is crucial that we teach all 3 tiers of words, but focus on tiers 2 and 3. By explicitly teaching vocabulary we are giving students the words that will help them learn the language as well as the content.

All of the strategies that we learned/practiced today gives the learners several opportunities to interact with the text as well as with their classmates. It is also very important that students, especially ELLs, are given the opportunity to practice using the language so we were given several examples of sentence frames that we could use in our classrooms. I have used sentence frames in my classroom before, but I will make sure I use them more often.

Today was a learning experience. Tomorrow is day 2 and the focus will be writing. I am looking forward to tomorrow. I will be back tomorrow to discuss how it goes.

If you have ELLs in your classroom, I highly recommend you read Margarita Calderon's book. There are a lot of good strategies to use that will benefit all learners.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012


After several emails to my principal, she finally sent out a welcome back email to the staff yesterday saying that we could come work in our rooms today fro 8-1. I have been waiting for this email for over a week. I was so excited to finally get back in and do some work.

I got to school at about ten after 8 and this is what I found. That's right my door was blocked by three shelves. I had to squeeze into my room.

Here are some more before pictures.

These are the student cabinets and cubbies. Right now they are jammed pack with all my stuff. Wow!! I have a lot of stuff on top. Unfortunately that's only half of it.

Back counter and shelves. More of my stuff.

Another view of my door. You can get a better view of the shelves blocking the door. Also my closet is in this picture. Having that closet is amazing. It's a great place to hide stuff. You can also see the other half of my back counter and sink.

Front of room. White board, smart board (still covered), and desk.

Front left corner of room. This is where my library will be.

My goal today was to get my bulletin board paper and border up and arrange most of my furniture. I covered all 4 boards. (3 inside the room, and 1 in the hall). I hate doing bulletin boards so I always do those first. Then I arranged my furniture, set up my computers and hot glued up some pocket charts.

I am happy with the start I got today, but I wish I could have gotten a little more done. I helped a couple of brand new teachers do a couple of things so that slowed me down a little.

I have workshops the rest of the week so I can't work on my room again until Monday. I will post after pictures when I'm closer to being finished.