Sunday, September 9, 2012

Better Late Than Never...September Currently

Wow, I can't believe how busy these past two weeks have been! I just wanted to do a quick post for Farley's September Currently. I always love doing these! Although, I posted this one a little bit later than I normally do. The first two weeks of school have been so busy! I'm really excited for my next couple of blog posts and can't wait to share what I have been doing so far with my little kiddos! We have been doing a lot of community building, schema, vocabulary, and science activities. I'll be posting more next week sharing the first couple of weeks activities.

Now, on to the fun stuff. Here is my linky with Farley's Currently.

Now, I'm off to bed. I have a VERY busy day tomorrow! Happy Teaching everyone!

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Classroom Tour

Wow, it has been almost a month since I have updated my blog. This last month I have been trying to finishing up my long-term planning and working on setting up my classroom. I had to re-do all of my walls this year--and it was a lot more work than I thought it would be!

This summer, we had technology updates in our classroom, so we had to pack up EVERYTHING! When I first got into my classroom about two weeks ago, it took me about a day to unpack everything. Thank goodness I had the help of my boyfriend to help me with all the unpacking.

Once I had everything unpacked, I could start working on my little projects, organizing my class, and do my focus walls. So, here is how my classroom turned out:

This is probably my favorite focus wall in the whole classroom! This is my CAFE, phonics, and grammar wall. I also have my small group area right there, so it works perfect.

Here is my small group area. I have word work games and materials. I'm still working on adding a few more activities. But, this is what I have so far.

This is my Tree-mendous Behavior Chart. I really liked how it turned out :) For the clothes pins, I used file folder labels to write their names. That way, at the end of each year instead of buying new clothes pins, I can just peal off the label and put on a new one!

Here is my voice level chart that I found from Totally Terrific in Texas. I LOVE this because it teaches students what their voice level can be during each activity.

This was my first wall that I did this summer--My beautiful word wall. They are just basic third grade sight words. I might add more as the year goes on. This is my first year using a word wall--and so far, my little kiddos have been using it!

This is my science board that I made. Since I have SO many windows in my classroom, I had to use some of them for my focus walls. I had to get creative.

This is my Classroom Tree and 7 Habits area. I LOVE this part of my classroom! I did a similar tree activity during my student teaching. Then, when I got my job last year, I started doing these activities that go with the tree in the beginning of the year. I'll be doing another post next week about how I do it. But, I absolutely love me tree because it ties in with 7 Habits and my Tree-mendous Behavior chart.

Here is my Math-tastic focus wall. Thank you to my boyfriend for coming up with such a creative heading.

Here is my writing focus wall where I display all of the students' writing work. This one was probably the HARDEST and LONGEST focus wall to put together. It took me about 5 times until I got it perfect. I am NEVER taking this focus wall down! But, in the end. I am so happy with how it turned out.

So, this is what has been keeping me from blogging this past month! It took a lot of time and effort, but I am so happy with how it turned out. It took a little longer than I would have liked it to be. Mostly because I was sick with an awful cold last week, so setting up my classroom was more difficult. Thank goodness for my family for helping me unpack and set up some of my focus walls! I'll be doing another post next week about the activities I did the first week of school. I'm really excited for this year and can't wait to show what my students have been working on!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

August Currently

It's time to link up with Farley from Oh' Boy 4th Grade for the August Currently. I always look forward to doing this each month.

I talked a little bit in my Currently about implementing CAFE into my classroom this year. I've been researching this summer about CAFE and how it helps students with comprehension. Now, I need to connect it with my school's ELA curriculum, which is a little challenging. I started planning the comprehension, now I need to work on accuracy, fluency and expanding vocabulary. I LOVE teaching vocabulary and my students did an amazing job last year with my GLAD vocabulary charts. We also did a lot of fluency by doing 1 minute daily fluency practices. What I need to do is connect the CAFE strategies to the various comprehension, vocabulary, and fluency activities in my class. I'm going into my classroom next week, and I think that once I put it all together and start using the CAFE strategies with the curriculum, it will be a lot easier.I'll do a post as soon as I get my focus walls up! This will be my first year using CAFE, so I will be blogging about my first year Daily CAFE journey :)

Now, for the B2S essentials! I REALLY need more storage containers for my math and ELA activities. Amanda Nickerson did a post about how she organized her classroom activities and supplies. This gave me a lot of ideas about how I need to organize a lot of my activities. Over the past year, I have collected a lot of supplemental activities for teaching ELA and math. I want a better way to keep the activities organized.

Also, with my apple and tree theme for my class, I need to work on my classroom decor!

Lastly, I need a paper cutter for my classroom. I was fortunate enough to be working next to Dani from It's Grow Time. With her now back in Southern Cali, I need to invest in buying my own.

So, my goals for the remainder of the summer: complete my long-term planning for ELA and math, set up classroom jobs, plan my focus walls, and finish connecting CAFE to the ELA curriculum. There are 3 weeks left! I think I can do it :)

Monday, July 30, 2012

Monday Made It & Some Words of Wisdom

I'm so excited to be part of Tara from 4th Grade Frolics Monday Made It! This is my VERY first Monday Made It, and I'm excited to be doing it about how I will be doing CAFE in my classroom. Last year, I started doing Daily 5, but felt like my kids needed more practice with comprehension skills. So, I will be doing both Daily 5 and CAFE in my class this year. I have been doing a lot of research this summer and have found some valuable tools and resources that I can use to launch CAFE in my classroom. I still have not been able to get into my classroom, so I do not have a lot of pictures of how it looks in my class.

I'm going to start with my most recent project, my Pensieve. I have been re-reading the Harry Potter books, so I am really excited to incorporate my Harry Potter nerdiness into my classroom.

Now, I have 5 different sections in my Pensieve:

1. Keeping Track-
In this section, it helps you keep track of your conferences. I have a Keeping Track form that has all of my students name. Once I have a conference with them, I write the date. This allows me to keep track of students who need to be met with every day, the students who might be falling though the cracks, and students who have a lot of conferences.

You also have a calendar in this section to help you keep tack of your reading groups and conferences.

2. Focus Groups-
In this section you have the names of each of your groups and their goals and your strategies. You also include the date that you met with them and your observations. This will be very helpful for me because I do a TON of guided reading groups in my class.

3. Data-
This is where you keep all of the data you have for your students. You include their reading levels and benchmark assessments. This helps you monitor their progress and plan your guided reading groups. I had something very similar to this last year. I had my assessment color coded--green (proficient), yellow (basic), and red (below basic). Since I am a very visual person, this really helps me visualize where my students are at and what I need to focus on more.

4. Students-
For this section, each student has a tab where you keep reading and writing conference sheets. This is also where you keep their individual conference forms and keep track of their goals and strengths, and you can keep track of what strategy you will use and observations. This is going to REALLY help me next year because I would always just write down quick notes of each student where ever I could find space on my planner. However, this really helps me keep track of each individual students strengths, and what they need to improve in.

5. Resources-
This is where I keep all of my Daily 5 and CAFE resources. I have the CAFE Menu linked to 3rd grade common core standards, The CAFE Menu, StoryTown CAFE Menu, teaching and coaching cheat sheet, Books to Share with CAFE Strategies, and the lessons I teach for each CAFE strategy.

So, I'm still putting together the binder, and it's hard to show a finished product right now because I do not have my class yet! But, once I get it up and running, I will show pictures of what it looks like. The Daily Cafe has some great resources! I'll be doing more posts about the lessons I use and strategies I incorporate for each CAFE strategy.

Here is how my binder looks so far:
(I know it doesn't look like much; but I've been gathering resources and putting them inside the binder)

I was reading Amanda Nickerson's post about balance. She had some great words of wisdom that really got me thinking about how important balance is when you're a teacher. I'm going to be honest, this year has been a transition year for me. I moved out of my parents house, got a full-time job, moved in with my boyfriend of almost 3 years, and became part of a performance dance company. I've been working a lot this summer to try and prepare for the next year. I also just got done doing a performance last weekend with my company. However, I feel like I am not making enough time for the other important things in my life. With about a month left of summer vacation, my goal is to still prepare for next year, but to also learn how to find a balance with school, dance, friends, and my boyfriend. I need to learn when to put the computer away and watch a movie with my boyfriend. I need to learn to get some work done when my boyfriend is at the gym and at work, so we can spend time together in the evening. When I was doing my student teaching, my master teacher told me that "it doesn't have to be done tonight." Meaning, that some things do not have to be DONE right this second, that it can wait.

Mondays and Fridays are dedicated to my dance team. However, those other 5 days in the week will be dedicated to finding balance in my life. My boyfriend understands how important dance is to me, and encourages me to keep performing. You know that you have found an amazing man when he helps you grade papers, buys things for your classroom, and supports you in everything you do. The least I can do is find a little balance in my life :)

Here are some pictures from my Saturday night performance:
This dance was inspired by Boy Bands. I'm the one on the left. I love this picture because it is a great action shot :)

One of the groups I dance with.

This is the other group I dance with. Our performance was to the song "Rumor Has It" by Adele

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Word Work and an Award!

This summer, I've been working really hard to revamp my Daily 5 block. With regards to Word Work, my students did an excellent job learning the phonetic spelling patterns and sounds. At my school district, we use Excursions Storytown and the phonics are more focused on sounds then patterns. I noticed that while many of my students were understanding the patterns, they were still struggling with correctly spelling the words. So, I have been doing a lot of research on various Daily 5 Word Work activities for my little third graders next year.

Here are some of my ideas:

1. Stamps- The students will stamp the word, write it, and then use it in a sentence.

2. Scrabble- The students will use scrabble tiles to spell the words, then write the value of each word.

3. Stephanie from 3rd Grade Thoughts has a Word Work Trio Pack that includes scrabble tiles, how much is your money worth, and place value words.

4. Personal Dictionary- Students will have a personal dictionary and include words that they have trouble spelling. Not all students will need a personal dictionary. Just students who have trouble with spelling.

5. White boards- I recommend the white boards that have the handwriting lines. I had students that needed extra practice with handwriting and spelling. One strategy that I want to try is for the students to write it, check it, re-write it. When the students check their spelling on their own, they can understand why they misspelled the word.

6. Rainbow letters- Students can write their words using rainbow letters.

7. Word Pyramid- Students write their spelling word to look like a pyramid.
For example:

7. Magnet Letters- Students will spell the words on a cookie sheet using magnet letters. I will have the students use the magnet letters on the cookie sheet; and then have a recording sheet to write the word and use it in a sentence.

These are just some ideas I have for now. I will be doing more posts on the organization of it once I get into my classroom. I really like how Tara from 4th Grade Frolics by including a folder, instructions, and recording sheet for each word work activity. I that is my next project to tackle!

Another important point to consider is that word work activities is only for students who are struggling with spelling. It does not need to be used for all students. You can learn more about Word Work and other Daily 5 activities by going to the 2 Sisters website The Daily Cafe.

Now, for the fun stuff :) Elizabeth from Mrs. Hodge and Her Kindergarten Kids nominated me for the One Lovely Blog Award! I am so excited to have been nominated for this award.

Here are the rules
1. Follow the person who gave me the award.
2. Link back to the person that gave me the award.
3. Pass to 5 new bloggers and then let them know they have received the award.

The 5 new bloggers I nominate are:
1. Mrs. Wood's Class
2. Teaching Third
3. Grade 3 is the Place for Me
4. Teaching Little Apples
5. 3rd Grade Sprinkles

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Tell Me More Linky

I have linked up with Step Into Second Grade with Amy Lemons to tell you a little bit more about me :)

1. I have been dancing since I was 3. This is a picture of my VERY first tap dance.

2. I'm a part of a performance dance company. We do annual performances and charity events. Here is a picture of one of the groups I dance with.

3. The first year my boyfriend and I were dating, he took me to Disneyland! I've been to Disneyland almost 10 time and I never get tired of it! I asked my boyfriend if we could go to Disneyland again this year, and he said "Again?!"

4. My grandma died of stomach cancer when my dad was 15. I have never met her--but I look JUST like her :) Even though she is not around anymore, I still feel a connection with her and I know that she is looking down and smiling at me.

5. My best friend and I have known each other since we were 3. We both went to the same daycare and we grew-up together. This picture is taken at the zoo, a place we used to always go as a kid together :)

6. I'm allergic to shellfish. I can't even go to PF Changs. Even the SMELL of shellfish causes me to have an allergic reaction. Sometimes, it can be a hassle going to restaurants.

7. I love animals, especially rescuing them! I rescued a little kitten and my boyfriend rescued a German Shepard. Because of our small apartment, we had to give them to a new home :( My boyfriend and I have a bird, lizard, and hamster together. We are very serious, we have our fur/feather/scale babies to think of :)
^^ Mack when he was just a little guy

8. I love baking cupcakes!! I've only just startedThis is from The Cupcakery in Orange County. They won Cupcake Wars!

9. I am the godmother of my wonderful nephew, Austin. I love this little boy more than life itself.

10. I am a sister of Alpha Phi International Fraternity. We are called a fraternity because we have been around since the word sorority was even created!

I hope you learned a little bit about me in this post. I try to keep myself busy with other little hobbies to keep me a well-rounded person. I tell everyone that I am more than just Ms. L :)

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Read-to-Self Accountability and Reader's Response Notebooks

Last year was my first year using Daily 5 and boy, did I learn a lot. I think that my biggest struggle was making sure that my kids were understanding what they were reading, and not just look at the word and pictures the whole time. Especially in third grade when comprehension is such a HUGE part. So, this year I was doing some research and looking for different ways to ensure my students are accountable for the reading during read-to-self. This is especially important because I am starting CAFE next year and while some students are doing Read-to-Self, I will be doing guided reading groups and doing assessments.

I have decided to give my students a Reader's Response Notebook to help them stay accountable during Read-to-Self. 2nd Grade Shenanigan did a post about reader response and think clouds. I really like what she did here because she had different prompts with comprehension questions that focus on different skills such as author's purpose, visualize, making a connection, and summarize. I also liked how she also included a rubric so the students know what they are expected to do! Also, Amanda Nickerson's Cultivating Strategic Readers has amazing questions that are called "Chat and Go" questions. I used them last year with my reading intervention students. This year, I'm going to have my students respond to them in their Reader's Response Notebooks.

Reader's Response Notebooks:

The rubric so students know their expectations of the Reader's Response Notebooks:

Here are the think clouds for readers response:

My goal is to give the students a comprehension question that is connected to the skill that they are learning that week. Another lesson that I learned from last year is that I did not have enough emphasis in reading comprehension. We practiced a lot in reading fluency. But, not enough of reading comprehension and strategic thinking.

I'm hoping that by using a Reader's Response Notebook, think clouds, and chat and go questions; my students will benefit in understanding what they are reading more. It also keeps them more accountable for what they are reading during Read-to-Self while I am meeting with other students for conferences.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

An Award and Newbie Blog Hop

I have been given another award from Lacy at Lacy's Letters. I'm so happy to have received the Versatile Blogger Award!

Here are the rules for the award:

1. Thank the blogger who nominated you and include a link to their site.
2. Include the award image in your post.
3. Give seven random facts about yourself.
4. Nominate 15 other bloggers for the award and include a link to their site.
5. Let bloggers know they've been nominated.

Here are some Random Facts about myself:-
1. I have been dancing since I was three years old! I have done tap, jazz, ballet, and pointe.
2. I have tried out to be a cheerleader for an NFL team (twice).
3. Disneyland is my most favorite place in the world.
4. My boyfriend and I have been together for 3 years.
5. I have 3 pets in my apartment: a hamster named Rosie, a peach-face lovebird named Keen, and a bearded dragon named Spike.
6. I love chocolate :)
7. I love baking cupcakes with my mom.
8. Pinterest is my secret addiction.
9. I struggle a lot with technology (can you tell).
10. I am a huge sucker for animals! Especially dogs.
11. My family is spread across 5 different states--but we are extremely close.
12. I look EXACTLY like my grandmother and great-grandmother.
13. I hate living in apartments.

Now for the nominations:
1. It's Grow Time
2. Second Grade Silliness
3. The Hands-On Teacher
4. Heather's Heart
5. A Cupcake for the Teacher
6. Teach on a Limb
7. The Meek Moose
8. T.G.I.F
9. Learning is Something to Treasure
10. The Picture Book Teacher's Edition
11. Third Grade All Stars
12. Grade Three is the Place for Me
13. Our Future is Bright
14. I Live 2 Learn. I Live 2 Grow
15. Second Grade Sunshine

Now for the Newbie Blog Hop...

Thank you to Janis from Grade Three is the Place for Me! for putting together this great newbie blog hop.

When you join, make sure you share:

1. what state you are in
2. your current teaching position
3. your teaching experience
4. when you started blogging
5. share a blogging tip / blogging resource

1. I teach in sunny California.
2. I am currently teaching third grade.
3. This will be my second (official year) in third grade. I did a lot of volunteer work and my student teaching in third grade. I also have spent some time working and volunteering in kindergarten, 4th, and high school (long-term sub job).
4. I started blogging about less than a month ago.
5. My tip is to do any linky parties that other blogs host! It is a great way to get your new blog some exposure :)

Monday, July 16, 2012

Must Have Picture Books Linky

I linked up with Lindsey from The Teacher Wife and sharing some of my favorite picture books! Here is a list of some of my favorite picture books.
1. The Giving Tree (my ALL time favorite): I always begin and end the year with this story. It has always been my favorite picture book and has inspired the Tree Theme in my class (I'll do a post about that soon!)
2. A Tree Named Steve (catching on to the tree theme): This is a darling story to teach kids about sequence of events. I also used it for a water color lesson :) The illustrations are AMAZING!
3. Roxaboxen: This is such an amazing story to help teach adjectives, descriptive writing, and imagination. I also used this story for a schema lesson and helping my students understand meaningful connections.
4. Wemberly Worried: This is a great story for schema lessons in the beginning of the year when students are worried about starting a new school year :) It is such a precious story!
5. The Best Story: My student LOVED this story. I read it last school year when my students were writing their own stories. It really helped them generate ideas for their stories and where they can find inspiration.
6. Cherries and Cherry Pits: This story is PERFECT for teaching students the "seed idea" part of Writer's Workshop. When I first explained seed ideas to my students, all I saw were blank faces and was hearing crickets chirp. However, after reading this story, my students really started to understand seed ideas. "Cherries and Cherry Pits" is a great mentor text.
7. How I Became a Pirate: This story is not only entertaining the little kiddos, but it also a fun story to introduce "How To" Writing :) All of these stories not only are important mentor texts to help my instruction, but they are also stories that hold a special place in my heart :)