Monday, January 26, 2015

Organizing My Pins On Pinterest

Those 2 a.m. feedings became a great time to plan.  I know it sounds crazy, but it helped me relax because I could either sit there and worry about how unprepared I was or actually get myself prepared.  It also helped me stay awake while I was nursing The Little Man so that I didn't fall asleep and drop him or something crazy like that.  

I had boards that looked like this:

But with over 5,000 pins on my boards, they were not very helpful.  So then, I did this:

I created a board for each standard!  It has made things so much easier.  When I am typing up my plans for the week, I pull up Pinterest and away I go.  What did we do before Pinterest?

Monday, January 19, 2015

How I Plan A Unit

My biggest challenge with starting a new grade level at a new school was not having a plan!  I hate not being prepared well in advance.  Before I left my old school, I had already made all of my copies for the upcoming year so that all I had to do was show up and teach and do a little grading now and then.  I didn't want to waste valuable hours standing in front of a copier when I could be at home snuggling The Little Man.  So, when I accepted this new position I started asking a LOT of questions.  I'm sure I annoyed my teammates, but a girl has got to have a plan.

First, I made a calendar for the school year with all of our days off blacked out.  Then I started plugging in all of my information.  This is what I call a "living document".  I am constantly tweaking it here and there.  (Like when I found out we had guidance one day a week and gifted and talented one day a week, so I could only teach writing three days a week.  Then fast forward to the second semester when I found out guidance was only for the first semester and now I can teach writing four days a week.)  But seriously, it helps my brain.  It makes my brain happy to know what is coming up.  I created a row for each subject that I teach and only plug the subjects into the days that I teach them.  (Science and social studies don't happen on Mondays and Wednesdays because we have computer lab.)  I also included the standard number for math and reading because we only teach one objective a week.  (Oklahoma doesn't do Common Core.)

Here is a close up:

I then plan out my unit.  I count up how many days I am going to teach a unit and start numbering a sheet of paper.  I start at the bottom and work my way up.  I want to focus on my end result and then break it down into each step.  It looks something like this:

For the record, I only typed it for this blog post.  Normally, I grab a piece of paper out of my printer, fold it in half, and start scribbling.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Reading and Thinking

We have a little LOT of trouble remembering what we read.  We tend to recite the words on a page and not bother to process anything.  When the questioning standard came around I scoured Pinterest to find an activity to hold my kids accountable.  We focus on each standard for a week (and then review in small groups of course).  This week, I chose a book for each day and traced these giant thought bubbles onto butcher paper.  I asked my kiddos to come up with a question either before, during, or after reading.  They got so excited when they realized I was writing it on the thought bubble.  They were proud of their questions, and showed ownership.  They were finally listening and thinking!  We put them up in the hall for a while and they had fun pointing out their questions to their friends in other classrooms.  I know it's simple, but it was worth it!  They woke up and realized what it truly means to read.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Picture Book Countdown

Gotta love Pinterest!  I found this cute idea for The Little Man's first Christmas.  She wrapped 24 books and they opened one each night and read them.  Thanks to Scholastic's Reading Club, I got my books for free!  It was so fun to watch The Little Man open a book each night.  I think we might do it for his birthday month too.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Descriptive Writing...and a Freebie!

Our Writing of The Month topic for December was descriptive.  It is so important for kiddos to be able to enhance their writing with powerful descriptive adjectives.  As you know, accomplishing much of anything in December is rather challenging.  I found this cute idea on TPT:

So we created our own For Sale ads for gingerbread houses.  We prefaced the unit with talks and books about adjectives:

Then we got to the fun part...talking about candy!  The kiddos had to write descriptive words about candy in each of the boxes on this graphic organizer.

 Then, they could decide what was special about their gingerbread house.  We shared a few ideas to help the kiddos who were stuck.  

After creating a rough draft and editing, we published our work on this cute paper and got to work creating our gingerbread houses with the template from Keeping Life Creative.  I even went as far as creating chocolate bar doors and Oreo windows (using clip art) for my kiddos who got especially creative.

The best part is free for you because you're so wonderful!  Enjoy!

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Predictable Sentence Pack!

It is finally done!  I started working on this project in June!  I thought it would never be done!  I am so excited with how it turned out!  I will make you a deal...I will give it to you for free if you blog about it before January 31st!
1)  Blog about it and include a link to it in my TPT shop
2)  Comment below with the link to your blog post and your email address
3)  I will email it you!

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Writing About Our Opinion

Our school has implemented a "Writing Of The Month".  Each month a type of writing is chosen and focused on by the entire school (even Pre-K).  They haven't had a strong focus on writing in the past, so I have decided to have fun with it.  I try to incorporate a project with each writing piece so that the kiddos have something else to look forward to.  Boy do I have some writers in my room!  November's topic was opinion or persuasive.  

We read the following books:

I then had my kiddos choose what animals they wanted to write about and copied the book pages for them.  They had to find at least three reasons they wanted that hair or those teeth.  They had so much fun!  Then we made this cute little craftivity to go along with it, thanks to a couple other teacher bloggers.

This one comes out in February 2015!  Mark your calendars!