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Sunday, June 30, 2013

Mentor Text Back to School Theme!

It is Sunday and I am just in time to link up with my BBB's at Collaboration Cuties for their Mentor Text linky!!  
This week's topic is back to school mentor texts!
Last year I used the book Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes for the first time when working on building writing stamina at the beginning of the year.  The students really got into it because what nine year old doesn't like to talk about their name?

Amazon.com review:  Until Chrysanthemum started kindergarten, she believed her parents when they said her name was perfect. But on the first day of school, Chrysanthemum begins to suspect that her name is far less than perfect, especially when her class dissolves into giggles upon hearing her name read aloud. That evening, Chrysanthemum's parents try to piece her self-esteem back together again with comfort food and a night filled "with hugs, kisses, and Parcheesi." But the next day Victoria, a particularly observant and mean-spirited classmate, announces that Chrysanthemum's name takes up 13 letters. "That's half the letters in the alphabet!" she adds. Chrysanthemum wilts. Pretty soon the girls are making playground threats to "pluck" Chrysanthemum and "smell her."
Kevin Henkes has great compassion for the victims of childhood teasing and cruelties--using fresh language, endearing pen-and-ink mouse characters, and realistic dialogue to portray real-life vulnerability. He also has great compassion for parents, offering several adult-humor jokes for anxious mommies and daddies. On the surface, the finale is overly tidy and the coincidences unbelievable. But in the end, what sustains Chrysanthemum, as well as this story, is the steadfast love and support of her family. And because of this, the closure is ultimately convincing and utterly comforting. ALA Notable Book, School Library Journal Best Book of the Year, Horn Book Fanfare Honor List. (Ages 4 to 8) --Gail Hudson
In addition to the writing stamina activity that I used last year (discussed below), this book would be great for the beginning of the year when discussing classroom expectations and  how we treat our classmates!

I read about using this mentor in the Notebook Know-How by Aimee Buckner (pgs. 15-16).  

I downloaded these handouts to use with the writing about your name strategy from Super Pig and Tyrant King.  Click here to get her handouts.

My experience last fall using this activity:  First, I had students complete the first worksheet in class.  Then, I assigned the "Investigating My Name Interview" for homework to interview a parent/guardian.  The next day, without discussing the "Work on Writing" rules, I had students free write for a few minutes about their name in their first journal entry.  I told them that they could write anything.  Ready, set, go!  I was curious how the students would handle work on writing.  I have the top third of the 4th graders in my class.  So, the first student raised their hand immediately.  I walked over to this bright student and he asked me, "What am I supposed to write about my name?".  I replied, "Anything you want.  You have a lot of information."
Next, a student raised his hand and said, "I'm done."  This was after writing two sentences.  

This was a great learning experience for me to see where the students are in their writing stamina.  We have already began Read to Self and made an anchor chart, modeled the correct/incorrect behaviors and have been working on stamina (they only lasted 2 min. 30 sec. the first time we tried it...and these are the top readers in the grade!).  

We discussed the percentage of time spent working on reading vs. working on writing since they were young.  Most students agreed that it was about 80% reading and 20% writing.  They really have had very little practice writing about a topic freely.  Their name (how they got it, how they feel about it, etc.) is something they should be able to write about for 5 minutes, especially after interviewing their parents the night before!  I mean, they had the worksheets right on their desk and students were "done" without including any of the information they learned about their name!

After discussing the Work on Writing expectations and why we need to practice writing freely, the students did a much better job the next time with their stamina and there were no more hands in the air.  They wrote for an additional 10 minutes about their name.   

The most difficult part for me has been to just let them write without butting in over their shoulder.  I really want them to get comfortable writing without worrying that they are doing it "wrong".

Looking back at this journal entry from September now really is encouraging!  The students grew so much as writers throughout the year.  Wow!!  Back to school will be coming quickly and we will all have another set of kiddos to transform in about 9 months:)  Are teachers amazing or what?!?  :)

Be sure to check back at Collaboration Cuties for all the other back to school mentor text ideas!

July Currently!! My favorite month of the year!

It's almost July!!  You know how after your first week of vacation it feels like you have been on vacation much longer?  Or the opposite, after your first week back at work, it feels like you never left?  Well, I am in that happy place where my vacation has just started and it is not even July yet:)  Sometimes the calendar falls so that the first week of vacation is the week of July 4th but this year we were out June 21st and had all last week off before the week of the 4th this year!!!  I wonder if that means we have a whole extra week of summer vacation?  Wahoo!

Today I am linking up with the fabulous, my blog crush, Farley from Oh 'Boy Fourth Grade (see, she even teaches the same GRADE as me!) for the Currently monthly party!  July is my favorite month of the year because summer has just started for me and it is the month of my birthday and wedding anniversary (and, since last year, blogiversary!).  The only thing I don't like about July is the humidity here in New York.  Here is my currently:

Listening:  House Hunters is my show of choice at night when I just want some background noise. I started this post last night and was too exhausted to finish.  Speaking of House Hunters, my little sister and her hubs just bought their first house!  I spent all day Friday "skimming" with joint compound two walls in their kitchen that were not very appealing.  I also taped and mudded a huge crack that went all the way across the ceiling.  Then, I cut in and painted what I could of the rest of the kitchen and helped my mom paint a spare bedroom.  I started at 10:30 am and left at 10:00 pm.  On Saturday, the whole family went up and while my nephew watched the kids, my hubs (Paul) helped them move furniture in and I sanded the walls and ceiling (if you have ever worked with joint compound, you KNOW what a mess that is!).  Then, I finished painting the kitchen. It looks fabulous!  Next...we took off to meet our new puppy for the first time!  Which brings me (out of order) to...

Wanting:  We can't wait to bring little Porter home in two weeks.  He is such a happy little guy and his tail was just wag wagging as fast as that little thing could move. I could just snuggle with that little tiny face for hours.  The hubs was pleased with himself because he got the first little kiss from Porter. :)  Here is the little guy:
Loving:  Yep, finally took the plunge and got an iPhone 4.  People told me that I wouldn't know how I could have lived without it.  They were right! LOVE!!

Thinking:  My iPhone was my "Happy Birthday to Me!" present.  Since my birthday is next week, followed by my One Year Blogiversary on July 9th (Yay!), I am thinking of a little somethin' somethin'  to celebrate!!  I appreciate the blogging world SO much and it will be my way of saying thank you to all of you!!!  I'm not sure of the details yet but stay tuned!

Needing:  It needs to be done.  This Wednesday I am going in.  Wish me luck.

Tips, Tricks, or Hints:  Don't take it personally.  This is the mantra that I live by (although I have to remind myself of it often!).  Whether it is blogging or TPT or life in general, when something doesn't happen the way you envisioned, don't take it personal.  
Share your ideas and stories and feel good about it.  
You can't please everyone but the positive BY FAR outweighs any negative.  
We all know we can have hurt feelings in this blogging/TPT world (i.e...Hey! No one commented on my blog post!  or That comment on TPT is really irritating!).  
But at the end of the day, you are sharing your passion for teaching and learning with (mostly) strangers and building awesome relationships.  
Don't let the little stuff wear you down.  
Also, take breaks from blogging and don't let it consume you (thanks, Farley!).  
Look around at your family and friends and take the time to enjoy what you have been blessed with.

Okay, I will get off my soap box!  Don't forget to stop by and enter ALL the Show Us Some Bloglovin giveaways!!  The prizes are pretty amazing and there are so many to enter!  I am giving away items from my TPT store and mailing a big box of my favorite things to one lucky winner!  How fun!!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, June 28, 2013

Five for Friday (A lot of GOOD news!)

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It’s Five for Friday and I am on time to the party this week!! It is amazing how much more time I can devote to my blog when I am not...working full-time! Haha!!

I am linking up with Doodle Bugs Teaching to share lots of exciting news!
First, if you are looking for something a little more "educational" to read, hop on over to Tina's blog at Crofts' Classroom!  I guest blogged there today about Chapter One of Guided Math: A Framework for Mathematics Instruction.  There will be a chapter reviewed each Friday this summer.  I am so excited about reading this book and how it will transform my math instruction!
STOP THE PRESSES!!!  My wonderful friend and colleague started her own blog yesterday!!  I can hardly believe that I will have a "real life" friend who also has a teaching blog!  She just finished her first year of teaching special education in our district and she is simply FABULOUS!!  I have learned so much from her and she has a wealth of knowledge from her prior teaching job.  I hope to someday work very closely with her (hint, hint, Emily;).
Her blog, Style Closet to Classroom was designed by Christi Fultz and is so cute, right?!?
I told Emily that I have "met" the best blogging buddies and I know that you will welcome her and give her lots of love!!  Head on over to Emily's blog and check it out:)
I am super excited because tomorrow we are going to MEET the newest addition to our family!!
He can't come home with us yet (that will be July14th) but at least we finally get to snuggle with him.  His name is Porter:
We talked about names for a LONG time...my husband was a Debbie Downer for just about every name I suggested.  We like to have pet names as names of "places" and I thought of Cascade and Porter because they were the first high peaks we hiked in the Adirondacks.  I loved the sound of Porter and the breeder said he is the chunkiest of the bunch (Porter sounds like "Porker!").  When I mentioned the name Porter to my husband, this was his reaction:

Husband: "Porter?  Yeah!  Like a good Porter beer!"
Me:  I forgot that there is a beer called Porter.
Husband (even more enthusiastically): "Oh, and he is tan colored like a BLACK AND TAN PORTER!  Porter it is!"

So, the name stuck but I think it is cute:)  Can't wait to meet him and our other Shih Tzu has been so lonely since her long time companion of 9 years passed.  This will be a welcome addition to our family!

A HUGE change in my life this week has been the addition of this birthday gift to me!!
Well, my birthday is actually July 2nd but that is pretty close, right?

I FINALLY GOT A SMART PHONE (iPhone 4...didn't want to splurge too much for the 5).
I can barely believe that I lived without a Smart Phone for this long.  I am a little resistant to change though so that explains a lot:)  I also ordered this otter box coveroo:)  It hasn't arrived yet but should be here sometime today!

There has been so much activity this week among bloggers with the Google Reader changing on July 1st.

Don't forget to check out this awesome giveaway linky for changing over to Bloglovin' followers!  I am giving away items from my TPT store to 3 Winners and ONE winner will win a BIG BOX of my favorite things delivered to their doorstep!!
Thank you to Collaboration Cuties for organizing the linky and making the cute button!!
I have a favor to ask!  Please, please make sure you are following with Bloglovin' (that is, if you want to follow me! :)  I think something got messed up because I accidentally had TWO Bloglovin accounts!  Two people have already contacted me that they followed me on Google but it didn't transfer to Bloglovin!  
Hit the button for Bloglovin' on the top of the right sidebar right under the social media buttons to double check if you follow.  Thank you fabulous followers!!!

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Tune Into Technology Linky (Reading)!!

Kristin at iTeach 1:1 and Aylin at Learning to the Core are hosting this fabulous new linky called "Tune Into Technology" on Thursdays!
This week's theme is "Integrating Technology into Reading."
Here are a few ways I use technology during my reading block that I have previously blogged about...
Work On Writing:
My favorite activity (and the students' favorite also!) to use that incorporates technology for work on writing time is Kidblog.  I blogged about using Kidblog in depth here and here.

Read to Self:
I am slowly building my classroom library and tweaking my system for keeping track of my supply of books.  The last couple months of the year I started using Classroom Booksource.  I really like it so far and am looking forward to using this technology from the start of the school year next year.  You can read more about my experience with Classroom Booksource here.

Word Work:
I have maintained a Quia website for about ten years now.  I keep a link of many websites where the students investigate a topic that correlates to our reading material.  I feel it is important for students to learn how to navigate websites to find the information they need.  This is one of my word work centers even though it may not technically be "word work" but they usually do learn new vocabulary!  I wrote a post with a sample page of an investigation I use with the mentor text "The Raft" here.

I have so many other ideas for iPad apps that I want to try next year!  They are sitting waiting in my pins to be explored:)

Don't forget to check out this awesome giveaway linky for Bloglovin' followers!
Thank you to Collaboration Cuties for organizing and the cute button!!
I have a favor to ask!  Please, please make sure you are following with Bloglovin' (if you want to follow me! :)  I think something got messed up because I accidentally had TWO Bloglovin accounts!  Two people have already contacted me that they followed me on Google but it didn't transfer to Bloglovin!  
Hit the button for Bloglovin' on the top of the right sidebar right under the social media buttons to double check if you follow.  Thank you fabulous followers!!!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Show Us Some Bloglovin!! A Giveaway for Bloglovin Followers!

Hi fabulous followers!!

The wonderful sister pair, Amanda and Stacia, at Collaboration Cuties have set up this Giveaway linky to jump start the change from google reader to Bloglovin!!  Be sure to scroll down to the very bottom of this post and click on the different blogs to enter ALL the rafflecopter giveaways!  Winners will be chosen separately from each rafflecopter so you have many chances to win:)
You have probably heard by now that Google Reader is going away on July 1st.  Well, Google Reader may be going away, but we don't want YOU to go away, so we hope that you will consider following blogs through bloglovin!  We know that change is hard...so we thought we might sweeten it up for you a little bit!

We are doing a giveaway for all of our fabulous followers that take the leap and switch over to bloglovin.  You may have already switched over!  In that case, this will be an easy entry!

If you have not yet switched or are not following our blog through bloglovin, then there are a few easy steps to follow.  You can go to my sidebar (that's the column on the right over there that shows our followers) and you can click the button that says Follow this Blog with bloglovin.  Or, you can go into the Rafflecopter below and click the link in the first entry, and that will take you to my blog on bloglovin.

You will need to set up an account with bloglovin so that you can follow me.  Please be sure to leave your bloglovin username in the Rafflecopter entry.

If you want to go ahead and move all of the blogs you follow from Google over, you can go to this link and it will take you through the super easy steps.  BUT, please go to my bloglovin link and make sure that you are following me through bloglovin.  To be sure, make sure that the blue button at the top of our bloglovin page has been clicked (it should be gray with the word following- if it's blue, please click it to follow!)

So, if you follow me with Bloglovin', please enter my giveaway!!  I will be picking 3 WINNERS- there will be one GRAND PRIZE winner who receives HOLLY'S BIG BOX OF FREE STUFF (thanks to Jivey for this idea!) plus their choice of ANY TWO ITEM FROM MY TPT STORE! What's in the box?? You'll have to wait and see! But I can promise you, it's some of my favorite things! The other two winners will get to choose ANY TWO ITEMS FROM MY TPT STORE!

a Rafflecopter giveaway get the InLinkz code

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Tried It Tuesday (Mod Podge mistake!)

Wahoo!!  Now that I am officially on summer vacation, I am getting to work on my summer to-do list!  Of course, I am relaxing a little more and my to-do items are mostly "fun" anyway:)
For my Tried It Tuesday, I want to share with you a project I tried last summer using
Mod Podge.    It is on my to-do list to "fix" and I hope you don't make the same mistake I did!

If you are new to Tried It Tuesday, read more about it here.

My Tried It:
Mod Podge Stool Project
Here is part of my original post from last summer:
So, I am extremely embarrassed to say that this is what my stool looked like for 12 years:

I started with my supplies (scrapbook paper, acrylic paint, mod podge, spray glitter, and foam brushes):
First, I lightly sanded the stool with 220 sandpaper.  Then, I painted the stool's legs and seat.  The legs took FOUR coats.  I didn't prime first though and I hope that doesn't come back to haunt me.
I used my Cricut Expression to cut a scalloped circled for the stool top, a center circle in a coordinating paper, and a black monogram "S".  My last name begins with S but I am also going to call this the Sharing Stool where students can share book reviews and adventures with Lilly, the classroom pet.  
I glue the S on the red circle and then mod podged each piece in place.  I mod podged the whole seat and as other people had stated in directions I read, the mod podge dries clear!  I had never used mod podge before and this stuff is amazing!
I sprayed the legs with glitter and then starting cutting scrapbook paper to wrap around the 8 rungs on the sides.  I made sure the seam was on the under side and held each piece in place tightly for 20-40 seconds.  It held firm!  Then I mod podged the whole stool 2x and the seat a total of 4x.  I also bought a clear varnish because I thought the mod podge might be tacky, but it really isn't!  I may still add it anyway.  Here is the finished project:

I love how the one piece of scrapbook paper says, "4th Grade". It makes me happy.  Can you see the glitter on the legs?

Do you see the part where I said, "I may want to add the varnish anyway?"
Yep, you definitely want to add the varnish!!
I don't know where I missed that little piece of advice when researching how to make the stool but the mod podge is so amazing that it seems you don't need the varnish when it is finished.  WRONG!

I had added a couple coats to the seats and some on the rungs with the paper last summer anyway though.  However, I didn't add any to the four main legs and the mod podge is starting to peel!  I need to lightly sand the legs and varnish them this summer.
Otherwise, the stool has held up beautifully where I applied the varnish.
The students absolutely LOVED the stool and it was a favorite spot in the room!  I had to limit when they would use it though because some would try to sit on the stool while working with a partner who was sitting in a chair and that did not work!
I used varnish like this from the craft store:

Reminder:  There is only ONE Tried It Tuesday for July!!  It is the second Tuesday of the month on July 9th.  In August, it will go back to weekly Tried Its!  Thanks:)

Monday, June 24, 2013

Monday Made It (end of year buckets and clipboard gift!)

I am excited to link up with the amazing Tara at 4th Grade Frolics for her Monday Made-It summer series!    
I was a busy bee last week finishing up the school year.  Of course, I procrastinated and was working until the last minute getting some end of the year gifts made for my students 
(inspired by the blogging world, of course!).  

Made It #1
I used this AMAZING resource to create end of year buckets from the Teacher's Clubhouse!
This package comes with more than just the bucket goodies too!
My buckets don't include nearly as much loot as the buckets by Amanda at Teaching Maddeness did, but I love how they turned out and will definitely use them again!

1.  In the buckets, I included the "Stay Cool Kid" tags with two freezer pops:
2.  "You'll Blow Everyone Away in 5th Grade" wrapped around a package of gum:
3.  25 "Things To Do This Summer" besides TV/Video games handout (orange paper)

4.  Smile File by 3rd Grade Thoughts filled with Cards:
5.  iMovie of the year burned to a DVD for each student

I love how the letters turned out for the names on the buckets!
I bought adhesive backed vinyl paper for cutters to use in my Cricut to cut the names!
The paper with adhesive backing worked better than I thought it would.
The paper came in half sheets and I placed it on my Cricut mat to cut.  I used Ashlyn's Alphabet for the girls' names and Plantin Schoolbook for the boys' names.

 The paper peeled off usually with the letters still on the mat. The "H" in this picture didn't stay on the mat, but it peels out easily from the paper and then the backing comes off just like the others.
I used my Cricut spatula to peel the letters off the white paper to place on the buckets.


Made It #2
 Customized Clipboards!  I just love how these turned out for gifts!  
I was originally inspired by this pin:
I gathered my supplies.  
Scrapbook paper
Mod Podge
Foam Brush
Cutting tools
Corner Rounder
Cricut to cut out the names
Inking "cat eyes" for letters and edges of paper
Here is some of the paper I used.  My daughter's teacher LOVES the beach and used to live in Florida, so I chose a beach theme for her.

 I trimmed paper and used a corner rounder on the edges.  The picture shows the paper on the back of the clipboard with me using the corner rounder from Creative Memories.
I inked the edges of the paper in a brown ink.
Then, I mod podged the clipboard and adhered the trimmed paper to the clipboard.
 I cut an accent paper strip to the clipboard and mod podged that.
Letters and the heart were cut using the Cricut and I inked those in a darker pink before mod podging.

I applied two coats of mod podge over the entire clipboard except under the actual clip.  
I was afraid that it would stick to the clip.
 Here are pictures of the backs of the clipboards:
 Close up of tag on the back:
 I used this Varnish to seal the mod podge after it dried.  
I have learned from past practice that the mod podge will eventually peel if you don't apply a clear coat of a varnish over it.
Two of the items I used in these projects are absolute Must-Haves for me so I am linking those up with the sweet Sabra at Teaching With a Touch of Twang.
My two Must Haves are my Cricut and Creative Memories trimmer.
They both are so convenient and save me SO much time!!

See you tomorrow for the last Tried It Tuesday of June:)