Saturday, January 26, 2013

Cooperative Learning & a Giveaway

My school has been taking part in Classroom Instruction that Works for professional development.  I feel that even before we received this training, most if not all teachers incorporated this into their classrooms to some extent, so it has not been a huge change.  One thing that it includes is a lot of cooperative learning!  I use this so that there is not any arguing about who is working with who, and also to encourage kids to work with students that they may not otherwise work with.  Since I have a sports themed classroom (and have had a ocean themed classroom in the past), I am willing to give away either my sports or my ocean themed partner/group matching cards (your choice) to the first two people who comment with their e-mail address below.  I am linking to them both in my TPT store, so that you can see what I am talking about.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013


I am joining Queen of the First Grade Jungle's linky party!

In case you don't know about this wonderful and FREE site, I would like to let you know about it!  ScootPad is an individualized and trackable website to aid in the teaching of math and language instruction.
Once you set your classroom up, it teaches students based on a given set of skills that you are working on (it has a default or you can customize it to match what you are working on).  They work on these skills until they master them.  Each day my students work on it for about 8-10 minutes each for reading and math and they seem to like it as much as me:)  At the end of each session, it shows students which questions they got correct and incorrect.  In addition, it shows the students what is the correct answer to help them to learn from their mistakes.  When the student masters a set of skills (you can decide what % correct determines mastery), they move onto the next unit (at their own pace).  They can practice at home as well:)

It will send you daily reports to your e-mail letting you know how they are doing.  You can easily see which skills individual students as well as the class are struggling with.  I have found this site to be extremely beneficial to my students reading and math time!

I hope that sharing this helps someone out there!  I give Scootpad two thumbs up!

Reader's Theater

Our classroom genre of the month is "drama."  So, after the kids being off yesterday (and me at professional development), today we started to do reader's theater.  This week is perfect I figure as the kids will also be off on Friday due to it being a records day for teachers. 

I got this book with my Scholastic book order points a couple of months back, and have been looking forward to using it:)
I chose the plays based on the number of students that I had/the number of parts, and then I put them into multi-leveled groups so that they would all be able to help each other.  Then, I gave the students some time to practice their plays.  My plan is to have them draw pictures of their characters for when they perform the skits for each other.  I am thinking of having the kids perform them for their K reading buddies as I am sure that they would really enjoy that:)

Anyone have any reader's theater tips out there?  I have done it a few times before, but am always looking at how to improve things:)

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Back in the Classroom, and a freebie:)

I was so excited to be back with my students today after working with the Michigan Department of Education the last 3 days on the social studies interim assessment!  It was really interesting to see what goes into making a standardized test.  If you ever get the chance to work on such a project, I would highly recommend it as it is a very interesting experience!  I learned a lot, plus they gave me a great breakfast, lunch, afternoon snack, and unlimited bathroom break:)  LOL!  My return today was crazy as I found out the other day I would have professional development in the morning so the kids had another sub today for the morning, and I did not have my prep time either as it was in the morning.  I did really enjoy having my kids this afternoon though!  And, I finished DIBELING for the winter.  Now, I just have to score them...  My goal for tomorrow is to just get ready for Tuesday as we have all day professional development on Monday:) 

So, I really feel like I need to work more on improving my writing instruction.  I dabbled in "Paragraph of the Week" when I taught 3rd grade about 6 years ago.  Now that I am with 1st and 2nd grade, I think that it is still usable after being tweaked.  The only "Paragraph Of the Week" I found that was ready made, was on TPT, but was aimed at the higher grades and would be over the heads of most of my students.  It did look wonderful, but it was not going to meet the needs of my class.  So tonight I wrote my own version.  I am including a few pictures here.  I am willing to send it to free to the first 3 people who comment with their e-mail, as long as they are willing to give me a little feedback in return.  :)  Just to explain, "teacher's choice" could be whatever skill that you are working on such as adding strong verbs.

Has anyone else ever done "Paragraph of the Week" with 1st and 2nd graders?  I am curious to see if/how other people use it.  My plan is to continue their morning journals every other week as of right now, and work on these on the opposing weeks.  I am open for any feedback about both the product, as well as using it in the classroom.

Happy writing!

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Magical Product Swap!


I am SOOOO EXCITED to take part in Mrs. Stanford's Class product swap!  This is my first time participating in a product swap and my class and I both found it to be great fun!  :)  For those of you wondering what a product swap was (as I was), it is when teachers volunteer to be paired up and swap TPT products, try them out, and review them. I had a wonderful partner in Samantha from!  In addition to being teachers, be both share the love of dogs:)  I have a lot to learn from her both about teaching and about blogging:)
In addition to reviewing her product, I have also found some great ideas to use from her blog, including learning more about writing during math time!

I reviewed her product "Word Work Choice - To Use with ANY Words!" from her Teachers Pay Teachers Store.
As I used an individualized spelling program in my classroom, I found this to be the perfect addition to my word work center as the kids were all able to use their own personal spelling words!  Even if you did a whole class list though, this product would still be helpful because you can use any group of words with it!    I did not get through as many activities this week as I would have liked (we just came back from break on Monday).  But plan on working my way through the rest of them soon!

I didn't take pictures of me prepping as it did not require any prep outside of copying them, and cutting up the directions.  As much as I love my copier at school (as I am sure many of you do;), it was not my best friend this week. we are now on a paper allowance, I really was not happy when it kept "misbehaving" this week:)  This product is very easy to set up even if you are short on time!
Each activity includes a 1/2 page of easy to follow directions for students

The first activity that the kids did was to use "rainbow words."  They did this with a sub this week.  She said that they seemed to enjoy this activity.  I like how they are both practicing their spelling words, as well as their writing skills.  For as many times as I ask them how to start a sentence (cap. letters), and end it (punctuation) they seem to forget...LOL:) 

Next, the students were "Storytellers" and wrote stories using their spelling words.  In looking at their work on this activity, I have some teaching to do...  They get the concept of using spelling words in a sentence, and also writing stories.  I need to work on integrating their understanding of doing both of those things together.

Last, today the students were "Word Detectives."  My class highly enjoyed this activity!  Students chose 3 of their words and had to think of clues to write about each word.  They gave clues such as: rhymes with, # of letters, it would make sense in this sentence "I like to ____."  They did a really nice job and were very engaged with this activity, and I think that it will be a great one to repeat on a regular basis!
Here are some of my students being "word detectives" as they try to figure out their partner's word:)

I would recommend purchasing this product if you are looking to enhance your spelling program!

Thank you to Mrs. Stanford's Class for setting up this product swap!

Friday, January 11, 2013

Little House in the Big Woods

We have been reading Little House in the Big Woods for the past few weeks and my students have really been enjoying it!
So today as part of centers, I had my students work on building what they visualized the house to look like out of Lincoln Logs.  They really did have a lot of fun I think!  Due to the balmy 60 degrees and rain in Michigan today, they had inside recess for lunch and many of them worked on building once again as they were somewhat limited in time during literacy centers.  Here are some of their creations:)

 Does anyone else out there have any great ideas to use with your favorite read alouds?  I like to do lapbooks sometimes (see previous blogs), but am always looking for new ideas!  :)

Thursday, January 10, 2013

I am excited to be participating in Rockin' Teacher Materials flash give-away!  I am signed up for the 2nd grade give-away, but you can access them all K-5 here.

 You can sign up there for the grade(s) that you teach for the change to win up to 50 products (depending on your grade)!  You must sign up by January 13th.  My donation is I "Snow" Math: Snow Themed Games, Activities, and Skills Sheets from my TPT store.

Feel free to "pin" this (and anything else on my sight:) and to pass on to any teachers that you know!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Comparing and Contrasting Writing Unit

I am at home today due to a doctor's appointment.  Am I spending the rest of the day relaxing?  No...I just finished a new writing unit:)

Yesterday I was in two meetings at my school (part of being a split grade teacher), to discuss our district wide informational writing prompt.  One thing that was clear was that I really need to work on teaching my students how to compare and contrast while writing.  I looked on TPT, but did not find what I wanted, so I designed a writing unit:)  You can buy the unit here as well.  :)  If you can think of anything that I should add to improve the unit, please let me know!

I am offering to give this 62 page unit away for free to the first two people who comment:)  I just recently learned that my comment settings were not the way that they should have been, making it very difficult to comment.  But...I recently fixed it:)  So, if you tried to comment to my blog in the past, I hope that you try again in the future (it has already worked successfully for multiple people)!  I am including the table of contents below.

What is comparing and Contrasting? (Page 3)
What do compare and contrast mean? (Page 4)
Why do I need to learn how to compare and contrast? (Page 5)
What is important to think about when comparing and contrasting? (Page 6)
Comparing things (Page 7)
Contrasting things (Page 8)
When do I compare and contrast? (Page 9)
Two ways to compare and contrast (Page 10)
Block Arrangement (Page 11)
Point-by-Point Arrangement (Page 12)
Comparing and Contrasting Writing Tool: Venn Diagram (Page 13)
Venn Diagram (Page 14)
Comparing and Contrasting Planning Tool: Outline (Page 15)
Transitional Words and Phrases (Page 16)
Comparing Words (Page 17)
Contrasting Words (Page 18)
Comparing and Contrasting Writing Practice Table of Contents (Page 19)
Comparing and Contrasting Writing Practice (Pages 20-55)
Block Arrangement blank (can be used with anything) (Pages 56-57)
Point-by-Point blank (can be used with anything) (Page 58-59)
Student Writing Sheet (transition words & writing checklist) (Page 61)
Comparing and Contrasting Writing Checklist (Page 62)

Now that I am done I can get back to laundry and cleaning:) 

Saturday, January 5, 2013

What did they say Wednesday?

A Turn to Learn is hosting this "What did they Say Wednesday?" linky party.  This is for teachers to share the funny things that kids say. You can join by visiting her site above too:)

I could not pass this linky party up as I find that kids really do say the funniest things.  This is one of the things that I love about my job...I never know what the kids are going to say/do each day:)

These 2 stories are several years old, to be honest one is more than 10 years old.  But I remember both to this day:)

Story #1: I was subbing in a kindergarten classroom.  They had computers at the beginning of that day after attendance, etc.  The kids were supposed to do this math program to practice their addition skills.  The computer would ask them a question, and give them several choices.  This little girl had her headphones on, and probably had no clue that I could hear her.  Well, the computer asked her something like, "What is 4+4?" and she counted on her fingers and got the wrong answer.  Well, the computer must have said something about it being incorrect.  So she said aloud, "I guess my fingers aren't awake yet this morning."  It was so cute:)

Story #2: This was just a couple of years ago.  I was teaching a 1st/2nd split (and it was my first time teaching 1st grade outside of student teaching).    It was about a week into the new school year and a little girl from my class came up to me and said, "Miss C., 1st grade is soooo much better than kindergarten."  Hearing this, I really wondered what I was doing as she had an awesome K teacher.  So, I asked her why.  Her response, "I got paper cuts in kindergarten but I don't get them in 1st grade."  She was so cute:)  I doubt that she would have said that to me later in the year...LOL:)


So I have seen this "Currently" thing going around for a while now, and always thought that it was cute but did not know how to participate.  Well, I finally figured it out:)  You go to: to get the template, and can answer yours as well as interact with other teachers.  Although I got the "techie of the month" award for my district, I don't feel that I deserve it LOL.  :)  What I ended up doing was copying it into MS Power Point, adding text boxes, and then saving as an jpg.  Is there an easier way out there?  If so, please let me know:)  Anyway, so here is my "Currently" for January:)

A New Year, new things, a SALE, and a FREEBIE:) New Year's resolution is to be a better blogger!  I'd like to think that I do some pretty cool things in my classroom, but I am not very good about taking pictures and blogging about it.  So, my goal is to post at least once a week:)

I am lucky in that I am finishing up my winter break!  The downside is that my district does not give us a week long break in February like most districts in the area have.  At least we get a long weekend:)

Can't say that I have done much that is teaching related the past 2 weeks, but I did do a little today:)  I will be throwing a sale at my TPT store with everything 20% off in honor of the New Year, and me going back to school.  This sale is good from Sunday through Tuesday (1/8).  I will also be offering a free snow/winter themed item from my store (you pick) to the first person who comments on this entry.   I also worked on making sports themed addition puzzles for my classroom. 

I am excited to be going back!  Although I will miss sleeping in, I really love my class and do miss them.  I do have something else to look forward to...going to join the state department of education to work on social studies assessment!  I will be gone for 3 days from my class, but I think that it will be a great experience for me.  Has anyone else ever done something like this?

In addition, I will be participating in the product swap at: which I have never done before, but am excited about!  I will be reviewing a product from and I can't wait to print it out and use it with my class when we return this week!  :)