Saturday, December 28, 2013

Get Geared Up for January!

I suppose it's time to start thinking about January and going back to school.  Hey, it's gotta happen sometime!  So, I'm going to throw a few fun and easy ideas out there for ya, if you're looking to get started preparing and prepping.  For me, I don't go back until January 6, so I'm not quite to the preparing and prepping stage - shame on me!  :)

One of my favorite resources I have created are my Monthly Common Core Writing Activities.  They have done WONDERS for my classroom and for my students' growth in writing.  One of my favorite pieces that we write each year is the one featured below.  It is the Opinion Piece from my January Common Core Writing Activities.  You can see a close-up of it below.  This prompt asks students if schools should be closed due to inclement weather (ice, snow, etc.).  They must write a letter to the principal or school board stating their opinion.  This is a hot topic in my district, so my kids were loving it!  I also think this could work even if you are not in an area with snow/ice.  It's a great authentic piece of writing for students to think about.

To prepare for writing this piece, we did do a little bit of research so that we could support our opinion with clear facts.  We went to our school district's website and researched how many students drivers there are in our district, how many teachers, staff, support workers drive to school each day, and how many buses transport students to school each day and how many students are bus riders.  This REALLY helped some of my students see the need for our county to close schools for inclement weather.  However, there were a few differing opinions last year.  "My mom can't get off work, so we shouldn't close school, because it makes it hard for Mom to find someone to watch me and it's just a big ole mess!"  This kiddo cracked me right up!  This student's opinion was clear and she wrote about it with passion! :)  There were others: "What about spending time with your family and playing in the snow?!  I have never been sledding and if there is enough snow on the ground to go sledding, I definitely don't want to be in school!"  Very matter-of-fact!  :)  This piece is always TONS of fun!

The other types of Common Core Writing can be found in the entire pack seen below or click {HERE} to see them on TPT.

Another favorite are my Common Core Winter ELA Printables.  These are a new monthly addition to my store.  I have so many seasonal books that I just love to read aloud to my kiddos, but I'm always looking for some kind of Common Core-Aligned graphic organizer or response sheet to assess their comprehension of the story and take it to a deeper level.  So, I decided to create themed ELA printables that can be used for just that and the best part is they are 100% aligned to the Common Core Standards which is a requirement in my classroom.

See below for a sneak peek of two of the printables included in this pack.  You can see that the first one shown is a graphic organizer that can be used to assess the students' understanding of the who, what, when, where, and how of the story (RL.1.1, RL.2.1, RL.3.1).  The second one shows how I ask my kiddos to take it to a higher level of thinking with the text.  The students must create a NEW setting for the story and then analyze the new setting and how it would change the plot of the story (RL.1.7, RL.2.7, RL.3.7).  The kiddos are really required to think deeply about the story, but are having fun using their imagination.  They have no idea they're thinking on a higher level - I love it!

You can find the rest of my Winter ELA Printables in the preview pic below.

And finally, if you're prepping for centers, early finisher activities, math tubs, challenge work, extra practice, etc. you will want to snatch up my Winter Themed Math and Literacy Centers.  They are aligned to the Common Core and are a great way to practice important skills and concepts in the Common Core with a fun game-like, hands-on approach.  There are 5 math and 5 literacy centers each with a task card, all materials needed, and a recording sheet.  The standards are also listed on the Table of Contents so that you will know exactly what CCSS you are assessing with each particular center.

You can see preview of the entire pack below or find more information about them {HERE}.

One last thing and I promise, I'm done.  If you are really interested in my Common Core Monthly Writing Packs, it is a really good time to get my Common Core Writing Bundle #2 (January-July) for 20% off.  You get all the months included and it's much cheaper than buying them monthly.  Click {HERE} or the picture below to check it out.

Have questions regarding how I use the Common Core Monthly Writing units?  Check out the Q&A blog post found {HERE}.  Also, don't forget to snatch up my FREE Common Core Writing Rubrics found {HERE} to accompany the writing units.

So there you have it, I promise to get myself into school-mode in the next few days....or week.  :)  Hope this helps some of you that are already planning and prepping!  Thanks for stopping by!

Friday, December 27, 2013

A Peek Into This Past Week in Pictures

Well if you're anything like me, you haven't thought a thing about school in about a week!  I'm okay with that and think we all deserve some time to sit back, relax, enjoy time with our families, and soak up some down time!

I usually don't share much of my personal life on my blog, but I thought I'd share a little about what I've been up to in the past week in pictures.  You will have to excuse the iPhone pics.  I'm just not a fancy camera kinda gal.  So, let's begin.  On Saturday of last week, this happened....

We had some crazy weird weather!  Upper 60's in Kentucky in December is unheard of and this was the aftermath.  We had some wind damage on our farm, but everyone was safe and no one was hurt, so we're all good.  Now to re-build the building...

So after that we got our Christmas on and spent time with family and friends.  Some of my favorite moments can be seen below.  We love some Christmas Vacation and Elf - staples in our home every year!

That was quickly followed by the TV getting completely taken over by my 8-year-old who got a Wii U for Christmas.  So then it looked more like this...

...which forced me to look a little bit like this.

This was a FUN and complete surprise gift from my sweet Mom.  If you've been following my blog for a while, you know that I am addicted to reading books on my iPad - no more paper books for me.  I like to be able to read wherever I go.  Well, last summer I ran into major problems!  Glare on the iPad while trying to read in the sun - NOT OK!  So on our beach vacation, I found a lady who was reading on a tablet and I quickly (somewhat like a stalker, but hopefully not) approached her and said, "Ma'am, may I ask what you're reading on?  I can't for the life of me see to read on my iPad and I'm having withdrawals!"  She laughed and said she completely understood and told me to get the ORIGINAL, nothing major, no fancy schmancy-ness, plain and simple Kindle.  I must have mentioned it to my mom at some point, because she remembered and surprised me with it as one of my Christmas gifts.  Now I have realized how lightweight it is and it's even easier to read on it than on my iPad in OR out of the sun!  Did you know this thing weighs less than 6 ounces?!  OK, commercial is over - CUT!  Anywho, with Super Mario Bros U in the background, I read the first book in the Divergent series in two days....not bad, but I didn't get out of my PJs either.  :)

So these are the books I am reading next.  And I also downloaded Defending Jacob by William Landay and The Book Thief by Markus Zusak after taking this snapshot.  Both were recommended by some blogger friends of mine.  My mom also gave me $100 in Amazon Kindle Gift Cards, so please let me know of your favorites in the comments and I'll be sure to download and get my read on!

So my husband and I decided to have what we call "Friday Night Date Night" tonight.  It's nothing major.  We just take our kiddo to my Mom and Dad's house and then go enjoy a nice dinner out and relax and enjoy each other's company.  After we left the restaurant, we went to the mall and this happened....

If you follow me on Instagram, you have already seen the above picture and the culprits.  My friends Alisha over at The Bubbly Blonde and Stephanie at Falling Into First made me do it!!  So, I splurged a little on a Michael Kors bag.  Yes, I did.  I admit it.  And it felt soooo good - Merry Christmas to me!  No regrets!  :)

If you follow me on Pinterest, you also know that I've been pinning some non-teacher related pins too!  Like I said, we all need to relax our teacher brains every now and then.  There's time to panic next week!  :)

So, here I am on a Friday night at 11:30 pm, recapping my week for you all.  Like I said, I usually don't get personal on my blog and try to keep it teacher-focused, but everyone needs a little time to unwind.  So I hope you got to know me a little better by reading and viewing some of my crazy life that I love.  I'll post again in the next couple of days with some fun products to help you get your January teacher groove on!  Thanks for stopping by friends and enjoy your weekend!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Blogging Over at Owl-ways Be Inspired Today!

Today I'm blogging over at our collaborative blog, Owl-ways Be Inspired.  It is a blog specifically for 2nd/3rd grade teachers and has some amazing authors.  If you haven't checked it out before, go check it out now!

Over at Owl-ways Be Inspired, I am sharing how I use these in my classroom:

...and I'm also sharing a couple of different ways to incorporate some Christmas fun with engaging reading and writing activities like these:

I am also sharing a fun FREEBIE from a friend over there!  Click {HERE} or on the blog button below to head on over and read all about it.  You don't want to miss out!  Happy Holidays!