Friday, October 24, 2014

Teachers Helping Teachers: Adoption Bundle

Being a teacher is an amazing profession.  We face cultural, social and economic challenges every day.  We counsel, doctor, mentor and teach our students while wading through pounds of paperwork, answering emails, copying, cutting, laminating, grading and assessing them.  I know I could not do all of what I do without a supportive family.  This family is not just made up of my husband and children, but it is the support system that I have gained through blogging and TpT.  I was so thrilled to hear that one of my extendend family of BBBs, Nick, from Sweet Rhyme and Pure Reason is in the process of adopting a child.  YAY!  Another member to add to my extended family!  I am so excited to be part of this AMAZING bundle that we have put together to help Nick and his family with the cost.
Check out what this product has to offer:
You get over 300+ pages of activities, 19 PRODUCTS!!  Including ELA, MATH, and SCIENCE for only $25.00.  Most of these products you can not individually purchase, but they make a great bundle!
The diversity and ability to differentiate within these is fabulous.  Even though I teach 6th grade, I am still using a ton of these products in centers as review.  I especially like the math task cards.  I can put some of them in a math center rotation a week or two before beginning my decimals unit, and it really helps to refresh my students thinking about the basics.
I included a set of 30 task cards to practice Number Sense using a Hundreds Chart.  These are 4-5 step riddles that help students practice basic operations phrases and computation skills.  There are three different levels so you are able to differentiate.  Plus.. don't even get me started on the ELA goodies!  Seriously!  You know your kids have different interests, let alone reading levels.  These products make my job SO... MUCH.. EASIER! 
How can you beat getting to spend a little more weekend time with your family because we have made easy planning for you ON TOP OF supporting a fellow teacher.  Go {HERE} to check out this amazing product.
Have a great weekend!

Monday, October 20, 2014

Narrative Leads, Transitions, and the Echo Conclusion


Recently we have been focusing on Narrative Writing.  I always try to do a short unit on Narrative Writing after we finish basic paragraph writing and learning to cite evidence.  I like our narrative unit to fall during October.  My students LOVE to tell spooky, scary stories this month, and it is a perfect time to get them writing longer pieces.  We have been building up our stamina through Communication Journals, and we are just about ready to scream and shout.
This past week we worked on Narrative Leads.  I like to use The Storyteller from Saki as a basis for this so I can tie in a reading element.  The Storyteller has a plot twist, and my Smarties are all about the plot twist.  I got these initial lessons from Erin at Lovin Lit and her Interactive Writer's Notebook.  After we get the basics of leads down, I have them write 5 leads for a Halloween story.  THEY GO CRAZY.. trying to make the scariest, or silliest, or creepiest hook imaginable.
We posted these up on our side wall so others could get a few good ideas as well.

Next, I talk about Conclusions.  Basically, I teach them about the Echo conclusion, because it is an easy way to for them to grasp the concept.  I use The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton for this lesson.  You can go {HERE} and read more specifically about this.  After using our notebooks and getting the foundation,  I pass out Halloween story starters that were written by Bruce Coville.  He is an amazing author, writing such favorites as My Teacher Is An Alien and The Dragon Slayers.  He has also recenlty written a new Amber Brown book.   This series was originally created by Paula Danzinger, another amazing children's author, who passed away too early!  She and Coville were friends, and he recently collaborated with another author to write an Amber Brown book.
But.. back to Halloween narratives..
For several years he created a story starter for Halloween that was published in the local Syracuse newspaper.  Students could write the conclusion to the stories, and the best were published in the paper around Halloween as winners of the contest.  These stories are SO GOOD!  My Smarties ate them up.  Even though he does not write the story starters anymore, I saved several from past years, and I allowed my students to choose one that they loved and practice writing the conclusion..
THEY GO CRAZY for this.. I don't think my classroom is ever this quiet.. EVER...
Until they finish of course!  Then they want to read.. read... read.. everyone's.  They want to share, and critque, and just discuss WRITING.  I'm in teacher Heaven when this happens!

This year, I borrowed a little trick from one of my BBBs Joanne at Head Over Heels for Teacher, and I found finger lights.  I let the kids use them to sit in groups to share their stories.  Even "Big Kids" need a little "light" fun!
I'd love to know what you do to teach or review narratives.  We really have to move on to the meat and potatoes writing of arguments, explanatory, and research of sixth grade, but I love letting them have these moments as well!

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Sunday Scoop 10/4

Happy Fall 'Yall!  We have finally had some cool weather down here in the South.  I've been missing the cool evenings of fall, and last night was beautiful!
Today I'm linking up with the Teaching Trio for Sunday Scoop!

This is going to be a busy week at home and at school.  Softball meetings, band rehearsals, orchestra practice, school bowling, PD, and football PHEW~
I'm going to need a couple of extra cups of coffee in the mornings to get me through the week!
I'm hoping to get a ton of work done early today so I can relax this afternoon, read abook and watch some football!  Have a great day everyone!

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

So Long September!

WoW!  I can't believe that this is the last day of September.  This month has completely FLOWN by.  There are still so many things I am adjusting to, that this little 'ole blog has just completely been ignored.  I'm so sorry about that!  I'm going to make a much better effort to blog a little more regularly!  Stick with me. :)
Here is a quick recap of my September:
My Little Man and I both celebrated birthdays in September:
I love the card my hubby found for him.  It contained a tattoo that says I <Heart> My Parents.  I tried to get him to wear it to the first football game but he refused.  Such is the life of a 12 year old!
Speaking of football:
We celebrated my husband's new job this month by attending our first football game as USA Jaguars. 
At school we celebrated September 11th, and reviewed Story Elements and really got into Figurative Languge and Inferences with Chirs Van Allsburg's books.  The Stranger is one of my favorite stories to read for inferences.  We also worked on inferences with The Widow's Broom.  It was a great introduction to personification as well.  <Books below are linked to Amazon>
The Widow's Broom is a perfect way to end September and flow into October.  My kids LOVE to ready creepy stories this time of year, and this just got them right in the groove!
In Math we worked our way through Numeric and Algebraic Expressions.  As many of you know I use interactive notebooks, so I tried out a few new items including this expressions sort.  
I'm fixing a few things, but I'm hoping have them up in my store soon.  There will be three new foldables for expressions including order of operations, numeric and algebraic expressions.
They will also be part  of my Algebraic Expressions and Equations Bundle.  If you buy this product now, you get all of the future downloads for free.  Go {HERE} to check it out, and I will notify you when the new foldables are added.
Thanks for stopping by and visiting me, and letting me catch up on this crazy month!

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Sparking Student Thinking with an Index Card Challenge

Happy Saturday!

 Today is my handome Little Man's Birthday!! and my South Alabama Jaguars take on the Mississippi State Bulldogs in a little college football action.  This will be our family's first game at the stadium, and we are super excited to see what this team, and more importantly, the marching band can do!
Before I head out to the game I wanted to link up with one of my BBBs, Joanne, over at Head Over Heels for Teaching for a little Sparking Student Motivation.
Recently, my students completed the index card challenge.  Have you challenged your students with this yet?  It's fun, and easy to organize.  All you need is a piece of paper and scissors.  The orginal experiment says to use an index card, and this does work, but even with sixth graders we needed something a little more pliable.. you know.. those pesky fine motor skills and all...even with 11 year olds!
Basically, I gave my students a piece of paper and scissors and challenged them to figure out a way to cut the paper so I could fit through it.  THEY WENT CRAZY trying to figure this out.  I think I went through a ream of paper! 
I did gain a lot of insight into how my class thinks, who jumps in feet first, who is a quiet leader, and who is a good listener.  This is a great challenge to complete at the beginning of the year to find out a little bit about our students!
If you would like directions, you can go {HERE} to download the ones I typed for my students.  You can also go {HERE} and watch a Youtube video about the process.  The directions are a little different, but you get the idea.
How can you resist these smiles!
Don't forget to visit Joanne and see a few other ways to motivate your students!

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Celebrating Grandparents Day!

We celebrated Grandparents Day at my school on Friday.
This is my grandpa.   He just turned 89.
Honestly, this was new for me.  I've been teaching sixth grade for more than 15 years, but it has always been in a middle school.  In middle school we don't celebrate with parties, Halloween, Christmas, or Grandparents, so this year having a sixth grade class in an elementary building will be full of new experiences for me.  The grandparents were invited into our classrooms for about an hour.  While there they visited with their grandchildren and their friends, helped them practice for our Mentor Sentences test, and read books together.  I was nervous about them coming, and not knowing what to do, but things went very smoothly.  These ladies and gentlemen were amazing to speak to, and their grandkids were so PROUD!

 Before our celebration day I was wrecking my brain about what we could do to celebrate these special people in our lives.  I wanted to have my students write about their grandparents, but I wanted to keep it within our currciulum, and make something that where we could practice a skill.  I was pressed for time because we had Monday off from Labor Day, and our computers were being rolled out so I didn't always have an entire class during the week.  We had computer orientation, and various other bits and bobs.  The week ended up being pretty choppy, so I decided a fun way to celebrate the amazing grandparents of my students was to write similes about them.  I modeled the activity after an I Am poem, similar to Eric Carle's Quiet as a Cricket.

My kiddoes loved the project, and their grandparents loved the writing.  They were laughing when reading what they were compared to.. oxes, beavers, snow globes, a monkey!  The kids were pretty creative.  I also wanted to have my students practice following directions.  This is a big issue in my room at the moment, so I created a glyph to color as part of the activity.

Overall, the hour was a great success.  If you need something quick to celebrate your grandparents you can find the activity that I made {HERE}.
Do you celebrate Grandparents Day at your school in September?  I would love to hear about the activities that your school does or that you do in your classroom!

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Five for "Fraterday": Pickle Pops and ALS challenge

I guess showing up late to the party is better than not showing up at all!  Happy LONG weekend my friends!  We've been in school for two weeks, but I'm thinking of my Yankee friends this weekend who are just getting ready to go back to school!  I can't wait to see all those beautiful classrooms!
I'm linking up with Doodle Bugs, for a little rewind of my week as I try to get back into the blogging swing of things:

1)  How can you beat this beautiful sunrise that I get to experience every day on my way to work!  I have to drive over the causeway and across the bay, and I have found that I am really enjoying the quiet.
I like listening to audiobooks, so in the morning I try to listen to something that is educational or motivating.  Right now I'm listening to Ron Clark's book:  The End of Molasses Classes.  In the afternoon, I like listening something non educational..LOL so it's George Martin's A Feast for Crows (Game of Thrones).  If you have any suggestions for future audiobooks, leave me a comment, I'm almost done with both of these!

2:  I am loving my class!   This is the 16th year I will be teaching sixth grade, but the first time I have been in a self-contained classroom.  My class is coming together and I think it will be a great year.  They have never worked with interactive notebooks before, so I'm loving introducing them to this new experience and teaching them how to use the notebooks to study.

3.  We are still adjusting to all things new in the South.  My daughter found a travel softball team to continue playing in, and we recently had our first tournament.. the average temperature was 105 degrees!  YIKES!  We played four games that day!  This was new to us.  Usually if the heat index is above 90 things are cancelled.
I can't wait for her to get her"24" jersey numbers, but I am not looking forward to scrubbing the red clay dirt out of those white pants!  We also learned about these beauties... do you know what this is?
It's called a Pickle Pop, and it's frozen pickle juice.. I'm totally thinking YUCK YUCK YUCK!
I guess they are pretty popular down here at tournaments.  The concession stands sell the big dill pickles and then freeze and sell the juice.  Apparently they help to prevent stomach and leg cramps from the heat.  I'm not sure if I'll be able to get my rock star catcher to try one, but we'll see.

4.  I rounded out the school week with a school ALS challenge.  

Our school was challenged by another elementary  school in the area to raise money and face the ice bucket. Of course I chided my class that they could not raise enough $$ to put us in the top three.  And of course, like every good sixth grader, they met the challenge.  We came in second and brought in almost $75.00 which is a lot for my little community.  I faced the ice on Friday afternoon.  

5.  Last, but certainly not LEAST, my Little Man made the Mobile Youth Symphony Orchestra!  This group is based on audition and they usually take students in grades 8-12.  Being a seventh grader we weren't sure, but wanted to give him the opportunity to try because his school doesn't have an orchestra and he has to play bass within his school band.  HE MADE IT!  WOOT WOOT!  I'm so proud of him! (He's the bass player in yellow)

Did you have an awesome week?  Are you ready to go back to school?  Enjoy the last weekend of summer!

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