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Sunday, March 31, 2013

Mentor Text Linky (The Hurricane) and FREEBIE!

Happy Easter everyone!  
I hope you are spending some quality time with your loved ones today to celebrate.  
I am writing this on Saturday to have it all ready to link up with some of my best blogging buddies, Collaboration Cuties (they really are amazing!).  Today, they are starting this awesome new linky full of mentor texts!  You have to check out their plan for linking up every Sunday.  I know that I need some help when it comes to good literature (I taught 6th grade math for my first 8 years and did not really use too many mentor texts!).  This linky will be so helpful for organizing all the great texts out there!  
I love the blogging world and all the knowledge that everyone has to share:)

From Publisher's Weekly:  "A boy and his family witness an awe-inspiring storm in this exhilarating picture book account...Based on London's (The Candystore Man, reviewed above) recollection of a childhood experience, this suspenseful tale has a ""you are there"" immediacy. Poetic descriptions of hammering winds, crashing waves and lightning which ""scribbled on the dark clouds"" eloquently capture the beauty and violence of severe weather. Sorensen's (I Love You as Much) slightly hazy oil paintings move suddenly from sunny island blues and greens to chillingly dark grays." 

Go to this link to read the entire Publisher's Weekly Review.

During my natural disasters unit, there are many examples of informational literature, but this is a wonderful historical fiction story.  As the publisher's weekly review states, the book has so many poetic descriptions which makes it ideal for teaching visualization and word choice.  The book also lends itself to prediction and plot/sequence activities.  I used these short and extended response questions to accompany the book as a listening activity.  Updated for TPT and added as a freebie, you can download it here.
Here is a preview:

If you are interested in a culminating activity I use for the Natural Disaster unit, you can find it here on TPT.  Sale ends tonight at midnight EST:)
Be sure to check back for the other link ups at Collaboration Cuties!

Friday, March 29, 2013

March High and Low Linky!!

I am linking up with amazing Katie from Teacher to the Core for my high and low of the month.
Check out her super cute blog by clicking the link above!

My high of the month...
This goes along with my 2 Truths and a Lie post here.
I have always wanted to go to Disney.
I have never been.
I knew that one day I would take my two children when they were old enough.
Next year they will be 4 and 6 at the time of a week off in February.
But, it is SO expensive and money is super tight:(
My husband and I are hard workers by nature.
We both paid for entire cost of college on our own (after any scholarships and yep, we are still paying those loans after being graduated for 13 years!).
So, we thought we could just charge the trip to our credit cards.
We don't hoard our money and have the philosophy that we have the rest of our lives to make money but our kids are only going to be with us to go on vacation for a short time!

I really didn't know if we could stay in a one room hotel room for a week with little kids.
We stayed three days in a one room hotel last spring in the Outer Banks and I couldn't wait to get out of there!  
To save money, we went to the grocery store and ate some meals in the room.  
Here is a picture of my youngest eating pudding in his seat in the hotel in the Outer Banks:
Actually, TODAY we were talking about staying one night in a hotel next week at Splash Lagoon (I am on a 2 week spring break...don't be a hater!).
Charlie looks at me and says, "I want to eat pudding in there!"
It must have made a lasting impression:)
So, what is the HIGH??
My hubby's aunt and uncle said that we could use their timeshare points to stay at a resort!
What?!?  Seriously, my hubby and I never seem to get any break like this!
It is a two bedroom unit with a kitchen and everything:)
The Fountains Resort in Orlando. Anyone ever stay there?

Our fee for the week? $250 for the booking of the timeshare!
We are SO excited!!!
I can't stop looking for ideas to plan our vacation coming Feb. 2014:)

This one is a no brainer, unfortunately.
Our beloved pug, Asia is no longer with us.
She was 15 years old.
Here she is with our other dog, Aussie (shih tzu).
I don't have any puppy pictures because that was before we had digital cameras.
She was the most adorable puppy ever!.
She entered our family officially in 2003 when my husband and I bought a house.
First, she was my little sister's puppy while I was in college.
Then, my sister went to college and my hubby and I "adopted" her.
She was the most loving dog and always was great with both our children (they were born in 2007 and 2010).  She is a part of our family history.
Knowing that she lived a good life makes it a little better...but not much.
Her last days were sad.  She had been deaf for about two years but her mind was great.
Then, her back legs gave out and we started having to carry her everywhere.
She couldn't hold up herself to eat or go potty.
We knew we were prolonging the inevitable.
The last straw was when she just sat in her little bed and was shaking all day.
I am so proud of my hubby for being the one to take her to the vet.  
I couldn't do it.
He called me and told me what I knew the vet would say.
There wasn't much they could do and we would be back.
We made the toughest choice to put her down:(
It happened last Saturday and I didn't know if I could blog about it.
I am sitting here now crying like a baby.

 Our Christmas card photo before kids was with the dogs!

She could twirl like this over and over...so strong!
Aussie is nine years old and still very healthy. 
She spent every waking moment of the last nine years with Asia by her side.
It is not surprising that she is so depressed.
When I came home today, she was howling like I have never heard her howl before:(
I guess that is one way she can show us her grief.

(SIGH)...On a happy note...I am throwing a sale at TPT and TN:)
Adorable button by Tonya at Tonya's Treats for Teachers!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Workshop Wednesday (mentor texts) and Spring Sale!

After the first Tried It Tuesday linky yesterday, my brain is just swimming with tons of ideas!  I read all your posts and am so excited that I had link ups!!  I was reading, commenting, pinning, bookmarking, and taking notes until well past midnight (hey, I'm on spring break!).  
The blogging world is just wonderful!  I love reading accounts of things real teachers have tried and then when I have a question, I can just ask!  
Everyone is SO helpful.  Thank you, thank you!

Today, I am super excited to link up with a bloggy bestie, Jivey, from Ideas by Jivey for her Workshop Wednesday!  
This week's topic is mentor texts to teach author's craft. 
 There are so many choices but I decided to highlight a two that I have used recently.  
My class read Can't You Make Them Behave, King George before break and I love this book for teaching point of view.
Using this guide, we made a diagram of the Point of view comparing and contrasting King George III, the American Patriots, and Jean Fritz (author of the book). 
We also took notes on different types of point of view.  
I used these point of view notes as a a guide that I found here:

We read various sections of the text from Can't You Make them Behave, King George (3rd person point of view) and then I had the students work in pairs and read a page in 1st person and a page in 2nd person.  They changed the pronouns as they read.  
It is very challenging but good practice and it seems to "stick" with them.  

I used this resource for a point of view project last year.  They loved it!  This year, my students will work on this after spring break and I will take pictures to share with you. 

Each student is assigned a Loyalist or Patriot personality from the Revolutionary War to research and create a character role based on the facts and inferences students make.  They write their character role in 2nd person (using "you").  When the character roles are finished, I assign put the students in groups of 4 or 5 and give them a character role (one that they did not write).  I try to have a mix of Loyalists and Patriots in the group.  Next, the group creates a role play based on their group's characters' beliefs.  They practice and then perform their skits.  The rest of the class must determine if each group member is a Loyalist or Patriot based on their dialogue.  I want to work on a better assessment tool this year and have students more of a part of the process.  I just attended a writing module training for the Common Core and having students involved in the assessment criteria was discussed at the training.  This type of assignment was highly recommended for addressing the Common Core and that made me feel like I am doing something right (once in awhile, anyway:).

Here are some snapshots of the assignment (not full pages):

Sample character roles written in 2nd person:
Here are some more point of view activities on Read Works.  
I haven't used them yet but want to incorporate them after break.
A 4th grade unit is here and a 3rd grade unit is here.

I also wanted to share with you a great picture book that can be used to teach so many aspects of author's craft!  It is the book, Encounter by Jane Yolen.  Bookmark this for next year during your European Explorer's unit!
I used this awesome pack from Collaboration Cuties to accompany this book!  
(Sorry the picture is so blurry.)

Main Idea/Details

Making Inferences (there are so many examples!)
 I love this page on reviewing figurative language also.  We are going to complete this as a review of similes, metaphors, and personification after spring break before the big test!

What are a few mentor texts that you use in your classroom?  
Link up with Jivey or go back and check out what others have linked up!

Also, I am joining some blogging friends to have a spring sale starting tomorrow at my TPT and TN stores!  Don't you love the cute graphic by Tonya at Tonya's Treats for Teachers?

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

The FIRST Tried It Tuesday Linky!!

The results are in...Design #2 it is!! 
The button was designed by the fabulous Michelle at 3AM Teacher!  Isn't she so super talented?!?  Check out her store by clicking on the picture below.  
She also updated my comment and reply section:)  I LOVE the way it looks now!
Thank you so much for all your comments and support.  It really means a lot as I "attempt" my first linky party (which I hope will continue for many Tuesdays!).  You also made my decision so much easier on which linky button to use.  
So, I hope you will grab the cute button and link up today or anytime this week!

What is 'Tried It Tuesday'?
1.  Write a post about any"thing" you have...TRIED!
2.  Describe what worked and maybe what didn't work.
3.  Keep it simple and focus on one general topic. 
You can link another idea next week:)
4.  Link your post back to this post.
I originally thought this linky could be something you "recently" tried.  However, that might be silly because some of the "things" that teachers have "tried" could be strategies or tools that they have been using for a LONG time!  
Many readers would love to see how it works (or doesn't work) for YOU!!  One thing I have learned from blogging is that there are so many ideas out there and the possibilities are endless! Don't assume that everyone knows about what you do 
or that everyone must already use it.  That is not the case!

"Tried It" Ideas....
  • instructional strategy
  • teaching product/resource
  • management strategy
  • technology tool
  • recipe at home
  • personal interest/hobby
  • website 

I thought this linky would go well with my "Flipper" theme since teaching (well, life!) is all about trying out "things" all the time...borrowing and tweaking them to your style. 
Sometimes it works out and other times it doesn't! 
Posts about things we "tried" in our personal lives are fun to read about too!

My Tried It Tuesday:
I was super excited to use kidblog this year in my classroom!  See my post original post here.
There was a lot of buzz about this in the blogging world last summer.
I am STILL excited about using this tool in my classroom...
It is an amazing (FREE) site and the students do LOVE it!
My problem is that I haven't used it since January.
Every year after Christmas, the panic sets in.  The test is only a few months away!
Do students get to type on the test?
Did Kidblog take a big chunk of time when we used it?
Yes, definitely at the beginning.  The students want to add an avatar and make their page customized.  They want to comment on their classmates blogs.  Who cares if what they write is meaningful? hmmm...It was like a chat room and that was not how I envisioned it!
 Part of me was so excited that they were excited and another part of me was thinking, this is taking forever!  Only a couple students were tech savvy enough to do make an avatar on their own (without asking me first!) and then everyone wanted an avatar.  So, being the nice teacher I am and not wanting to squash their excitement, I walked them through going to photoshop to make an avatar.  
Well, we were in the lab, and if you have ever taught in a computer lab while the students are on the computer, it is quite a challenge when you are not used to it!
Anyway, one tweak I made to Kidblog (when we were using it) is this post to my students:
As I sit here on a lovely Sunday afternoon watching a Bills game and reading your progress on the November Book Reviews, I am compelled to write about a few issues I have seen occurring on our blog.

1.  Please do not use neon yellowblue, or green for colors when writing your posts or comments.  It is too difficult to read on the monitors.
2.  You must write using CUPS as you would on paper.  The computer alerts you when a word is misspelled by underlining it in red.  So, why am I seeing so many spelling errors?
3.  Using proper CUPS means that we do not use 5 exclamation points or 3 question marks instead of one on your posts.  
4.  Don't forget that you will be graded on your book review and this includes proper use of CUPS.  There is a time and place to use texting shortcuts but our blog for ELA is not one of them.
5.  I will be developing a rubric to grade your use of kidblog over the course of a semester (starting this 2nd quarter since the 1st quarter is over).  If you stick to clean, meaningful comments and posts using proper CUPS, then you will receive an A for this writing grade. 

Here is a sample book review from Jackson that is a great model for what I expect.
Title: The Sea of Monsters
Author: Rick Riordan
Genre: fantasy
What is this book about?  The book is about Percy Jackson who goes on a quest to save his best friend Grover. Grover is trapped on an island that is home to a cyclops. Percy also has to go to the island to get a golden fleece to save Camp Half-Blood.
What is my favorite part?  My favorite part is when Percy finds out that he has a half brother that is also a cyclops. He found he was a cyclops in the second chapter of the book. His name is Tyson.
What is my overall recommendation and why?  My overall recommendation is that it is a great book and read it if you like fantasy stories or Greek Mythology.

We discussed my post above in great detail as a class using the SMART board.  
BUT, I still get students who like to test me (as if I won't see it eventually...the teacher has to approve all comments before they are visible).  
These comments are waiting to be approved:  
That might be REALLY flattering (THE BEST YEAR EVER....), but it goes against my rules!  I also love how they capitalized "LARGE" but not "john".  Yep, that has to go!
I am not "trashing" the comments yet because when we go back to the lab, I will bring this screen up and give the students a friendly reminder of what NOT to do:)  
It just bothers me because in the time it takes them to write the obnoxious amounts of characters, they could be doing something more educational.  I know kids will be kids...

The last post I had the students write about was their New Year's Resolutions.  They all worked on them at different times during Work on Writing (I have four computers in my classroom).  They had to write about two resolutions, one for home and one for their writing.
The students have done a nice job overall and I may finally get around to grading all of the entries over my spring break:)  It takes hours to go through each assignment, make comments, and approve comments from other students.  It is worth it though.  The students love to see the notes from the teacher and their classmates!
And another...same student who didn't follow the rules about the exclamation points is writing in neon green...a no, no in my rules:)  Again, spending too much time on making the text look like a rainbow instead of proofreading.
So, the bottom line is I love kidblog, the students are excited to use it, but its management and the pressure of the state test has taken away some of the time I could devote to it.  
However, when and if the PARCC tests roll out, they are "supposed" to be all digital.  
I can feel confident that using Kidblog in writing IS helping students prepare for the assessment expectations.

What do you think?  Be sure to check back and see the other link ups!

TBA's Ultimate Linky Party

Sunday, March 24, 2013

In Need of Opinions! Hosting My First Linky Party Tuesday!!

 I am TRYING IT!  My first linky party!!  Yay! 

                       Design #1                  Design #2
Originally, I was planning on hosting the linky on Thursdays, but then the AMAZING, TALENTED Michelle from 3AM Teacher started working on the buttons above for me!  I just LOVE them and thought maybe the linky SHOULD be on Tuesday!  Michelle agreed since there are a lot of end of the week linky parties already.  Tuesdays it is!
Click on the link above to take you to 3AM Teacher's blog store!  Her work is truly inspiring and she works so fast (I guess that is how she got the name "The 3AM Teacher"!).  She also updated my comments section and I finally have the "reply" button...yay!  
If you like the comment set-up, check out this service by Michelle here!

I need your help!!  Being the amazing designer she is, Michelle sent me OPTIONS of buttons to choose from (actually four different ones!).  How can I decide? I narrowed it down to these two and they are BOTH wonderful!  So, I thought I would see what my followers think.  Design #1 is easier on the eyes and not "so loud" but, at the same time, I like the colorfulness of Design #2.  What do you think??  Please leave me a comment and help me make up my mind!  If the vote seems to be split, I could always offer your choice of which button to link up...Is that taking the easy way out?  

I hope you will stop back this Tuesday and link up for the first "Tried It Tuesday!"  
You might be wondering, "What is Tried It Tuesday?"
My idea is that you can do a quick link up (I am all about quick link ups in the middle of the week) of anything you have "tried" and tell everyone how you LOVED it...or maybe how it was an EPIC FAILURE...haha!  Anything goes!

...you tried a new lesson plan or teaching strategy
...you tried a new teaching product (you can promote your product or another's!)
...you tried a new management strategy
...you tried a new technology tool
...you tried a new recipe at home
...you tried out a new website 

I thought this linky would go well with my "Flipper" theme since teaching is all about trying new strategies and ideas all the time...borrowing and tweaking them to your style. 
Sometimes they work out and other times they don't.  
Also, we all have things we "try out" in our personal lives and those are fun to read about too!

So, which link up button do you prefer??

Friday, March 22, 2013

Lie Revealed and Friday Flashback!

Before I start my Friday Flashback and link up with the amazing Amanda from Teaching Maddeness, I wanted to reveal my LIE!  I was giggling reading the comments about which one my blogging buddies thought was the lie...hehe!
Again, here were three things about me (two truths and one lie)...post with pics is here

1.  My favorite vacation destination of all time is Walt Disney World in Orlando, FL!  
I first made the trip with my parents when I was 5 and my sister was 7 (my youngest sister wasn't born yet).  Since then, I have been back 8 times and always have a great time, no matter my age!  Right now, we are planning to take our own kids next year at ages 4 and 6.  
I can't wait!

2.  I worked at McDonald's for 5.5 years throughout high school and college.  I went back and forth working at my home time store and college store.  The time always went by fast and I love how busy it was.  During college I worked the 4:30 am to 1:00 pm shift on the weekends.  Try that schedule with a roommate who partied until 3:00 am!  Oh... the fire alarms in the middle of the night that happened frequently were great too:)  My husband and I even met working at McDonald's when I was 16 and he was 17!  

3.  Speaking of my husband, here we are at our wedding:)  He is my best friend and ONLY boyfriend I ever had in my life!  We started dating the summer after I graduated high school and dated all through college while attending colleges 100 miles away from each other.  
We never broke up and I have never had another boyfriend!

The lie was....#1!  Sadly, I have NEVER been to Disney! This is not really by choice but I have never had the chance to go:(  It was on my mind because I knew I wanted to take my two kids as soon as I felt they were old enough.  Well, next February they will be 4 and 6.  We just booked a one week trip to Disney for Feb. 2014!  Yay!!!  I am beyond excited for my little family:)  I will be emailing anyone who chose #1 to choose an item from my TPT store!

Now marching on....my Friday Flashback!  This week was like a blur.  It was the last week before a two week spring break in which the state tests are the second week we come back (ELA followed by math).  I was torn all week between my students, my own health, and my daughter's health.  

This was the day after St. Patrick's Day and I just had to make some "positive character trait gold coins" like the ones I read about here on Ideas by Jivey.  She has quickly become one of my favorite bloggers!  Check her out:)  Mine are on basic yellow construction paper but I did laminate them since taking the picture and plan on putting them on the side of each student's desk.  They just loved playing scoot (I played with them!) and writing a positive character trait on each coin.  
There was a buzz of excitement when they were back at their desk and read their coin!  
 On the back of each coin, we glued this quote:
Wealth stays with us a little moment if at all,
Only our characters are steadfast, not our gold.

I had an all day writing workshop on the modules for the Common Core.  I had to leave at the half day point to go home to my sick, feverish daughter:(  The workshop was great and I have a couple things I would like to share with everyone after I try them out.

Daughter still has the fever...hubbie stayed home.  This was 5th grade science fair week at our school.  The other grades always place science related projects in the hallway.  We still have our natural disasters projects (you can read about those here) on display and added the fourth graders "reuse projects" to the tables.  The students bring recyclables from home and repurpose them for another use.  It is wonderful to see their creativity!

Daughter still has the fever (over 104 at night) and she went to grandma's....crying all morning for me to stay home.  It is so tough being a working mommy sometimes:( So torn!
We played King's M & M's to demonstrate the Stamp Act before the American Revolution.  I actually used skittles this year due to a peanut allergy in my room:)  I found this link to the directions.  When we play, the students who lose their M & M's (skittles) never get them back and I do not give them more candy.  We discuss this before beginning and I think it makes it more meaningful to have them feel a little hurt when their candy is taken away, knowing they won't get it back.  I tell them that they didn't "earn" the skittles, so it is not nearly as bad as the colonists losing money that they earned and need for their livelihood!  A student said to me this year, "I would rather lose money than skittles!" Haha!!

A room mother dropped off these darling Easter containers filled with jelly beans.  She works with adults with disabilities and they made these for us!  The bottles are recycled little water bottles and the color around the bottles is decorative duct tape.  Then there are white little paws over the duct tape.  Those are muffin cups for the tops with ears laminated and stapled to the cups.  Aren't they cute?  They made the little "goodie" bags I made them for Easter seem pretty lame.  I won't show you a picture of those!

Daughter STILL has the fever and we had to cancel her tonsillectomy that was scheduled for today.  I stayed home with her since I already had taken a sick day for the surgery.  My two week break started today and I was so pleased that we could have her surgery and I wouldn't have to worry about taking so much time off of work.  
Well, you know what they say about the best laid plans...
I have also been so sick this week and it was by the pure grace of God that I made it to Friday.  Finally, today I was able to go back to the doctor and got a stronger antibiotic this time to get rid of this sinus infection.  Better days are ahead:)

So, there is my week in a nutshell!  
I can't wait to knock some items off the to-do list over break:)
I started working on a little something today with the help of the super talented Michelle from 3am Teacher.  With her help, I should have a reply option soon in my comments I NOW have a reply option in my comments!  Yippee!!
Check out the 3am Teacher's post here about this add on!

I also have Michelle working on a linky button for my very first linky that I hope to start next Thursday!  I am planning a weekly Thursday linky...light and fun!  It is pretty nerve racking because I keep thinking that nobody will link up, but then I just decided to go for it.  What's the worst that can happen?  I hope you will stop back and see what I have planned:)

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Get Acquainted Linky-2 Truths and a LIE:)

Latoya at Flying Into First Grade is having a super fun weekly linky party!
This week's topic is 2 truths and a lie!  
See if you can comment and guess which of these claims about me is a lie.  
Check back at the end of the week to see if you were right in another post.  
How fun!  Now, let's see if I can you a little about myself...

1.  My favorite vacation destination of all time is Walt Disney World in Orlando, FL!  
I first made the trip with my parents when I was 5 and my sister was 7 (my youngest sister wasn't born yet).  Since then, I have been back 8 times and always have a great time, no matter my age!  Right now, we are planning to take our own kids next year at ages 4 and 6.  
I can't wait!

2.  I worked at McDonald's for 5.5 years throughout high school and college.  I went back and forth working at my home time store and college store.  The time always went by fast and I love how busy it was.  During college I worked the 4:30 am to 1:00 pm shift on the weekends.  Try that schedule with a roommate who partied until 3:00 am!  Oh... the fire alarms in the middle of the night that happened frequently were great too:)  My husband and I even met working at McDonald's when I was 16 and he was 17!  

3.  Speaking of my husband, here we are at our wedding:)  He is my best friend and ONLY boyfriend I ever had in my life!  We started dating the summer after I graduated high school and dated all through college while attending colleges 100 miles away from each other.  
We never broke up and I have never had another boyfriend!

Now, which ONE of these three would you say is a LIE?  I will choose a random correct responder to win one item from my TPT store
Be sure to leave your email if you are a "noreplycomment" blogger!
Check back to the other "2 Truths and a Lie" posts here!

Sunday, March 17, 2013

St. Patrick's Day Sale!!

Happy St. Patrick's Day everyone!  
I am going to check out all the amazing TPT products on sale today.  
Check out Mrs. Wheeler's First Grade Tidbits linky party and everyone hosting a sale today!

Here are some products that I have on sale in my TPT store:)

I am off to take a little nap on a lazy Sunday:) 
 TPT shopping later tonight!  
What can I stock up on for the spring?
This is the forecast for the upcoming week.  Spring can't come soon enough!