Tuesday, December 1, 2015

December Activities and a {FREEBIE}

Hello friends,
I hope you're starting to get into the holiday spirit! With today being the first day of December, I thought I would share with you a few of the activities that I plan on doing in the next 3 weeks before break. Today I'll focus on Writing, Math, and a little Reading.

We have been using my Original Perfect Paragraphs One Step at a Time to really focus on writing a good quality paragraph before we move into bigger pieces of writing. Now that I'm teaching 3rd grade I needed a little something more for my on-level and above-level writers. This is why I created the ADVANCED Perfect Paragraphs One Step at a Time. The good thing is that I can use both the Original Perfect Paragraphs and the ADVANCED Perfect Paragraphs to differentiate in my 3rd grade classroom.

First, we will be writing a narrative paragraph about a shopping trip. The stories I hear students tell me about Black Friday shopping with their parents are simply hilarious which is what gave me the idea to create this writing prompt! However, it can be about any shopping trip, not just Black Friday shopping. We brainstorm together to think of other shopping times!

Like I mentioned above, I use the Original Perfect Paragraphs for my lower level kiddos or struggling writers. Since they look basically the same, the kids never know that they have a different version! This is from my December Edition. The students are writing a 5-sentence paragraph.

Then I used the ADVANCED Perfect Paragraphs for my on-level students and advanced writers. You can see the similarities and differences by comparing the pictures above and below. This is from my ADVANCED December Edition. As you can tell, these students are including an example with every detail creating 8-sentence paragraphs, rather than 5-sentence paragraphs as above.

We will also be doing another Perfect Paragraph (not holiday-themed) this month. This is always a fun one! The students come up with some great arguments for this one!! Should Students Wear School Uniforms? You can see the two different versions below.

Original Perfect Paragraphs (5 sentences: Intro, 3 Reasons, Concluding Statement) Found in my December Edition.

ADVANCED Perfect Paragraphs (8 sentences: Intro, 3 Reasons with 3 Examples to Support, and Concluding Statement). This is found in my December Edition.

Each year, we adopt one of our less fortunate families from our very own school to help out through the holidays. Our class brings in items that are on the family's list and then at our Holiday Party on the last day of school, we present the gifts to our Family Resource Coordinator, and she then presents the gifts to the anonymous family after school hours. It's a wonderful way to teach the students about how giving is more important than receiving and that the holidays aren't always a special time for everyone, especially the less fortunate. 

Since this is very near and dear to our hearts, I like to incorporate a little authentic writing into this idea. We brainstorm ways in which we could help and then the students write a letter to their parents persuading them to send in money and/or donations for our family in need. This letter takes the place of a letter written by me and the students know that, so they take this writing piece VERY seriously! I love it! Each year it makes my heart very warm when we do this. This can be found in my December Common Core Writing Activities pack.

In the next three weeks we will be finishing up our Intro to Multiplication/Division unit in math. Along with finishing out with the lessons, I will be using some quick, formative assessments to make sure my students have mastered each standard covered on the test. This will give me an idea of how to carry on with my instruction over the next three weeks and what I really need to focus on. These are from my Common Core-Aligned Quick Math Assessments: 3rd Grade. I also have these for 1st Grade and 2nd Grade.

I have also fallen in love with this little gem that I found from Lauren Bell at One Bright Classroom. I plan to use this during our Enrichment Math time and I'm so excited about it!!

Y'all this is a really, really awesome cross-curricular unit that includes math, writing, and reading with a REAL LIFE, authentic task - Holiday Shopping! It's perfect for 2nd, 3rd, or even 4th graders, because some of the pieces of this unit have been left open-ended to allow for differentiation of different ability levels even within the same classroom. Below are just a few of the pages included in this awesome unit!

Below you can see the task that the students are given, a brainstorming sheet to list gift ideas for up to 6 different people, a budget and requirements (budget can be modifed for differentiation purposes), and a sheet to record students' findings of their favorite items in store advertisements or online advertisements.

Also in the unit are planning sheets for each person where the students will list the items found in the advertisement, the prices, and the stores where the items were found. There's also a sheet for comparing prices found in two different advertisements for the same item. This is for the student to decide which is the best deal. They can also cut out the advertisement and glue it to a sheet to show which were the best deals.

Included is a sheet where the students will list their final decisions on the 6 gifts for the 6 people using their money in the smartest way possible. There's a sheet for analyzing the students' spending. I like this sheet because they can find which stores had the best deals overall. She even includes inferencing cards where the students can list 3 clues and have their classmates try to infer the product the student is going to buy. Finally, there's a reflection writing activity where the students can reflect on what they learned about spending money and why it's important to spend money wisely.
There are even more writing prompts included and a couple of other sheets! This unit is GREAT! It's written in kid-friendly language and will really help the kids to use math, reading, and writing in an authentic way. I LOVE this unit!! You can check out Lauren's unit by clicking any of the pictures above or by clicking {HERE}.

I don't teach reading anymore (math only this year), but I do have two separate 10-minute time frames in my schedule that allow me some good read-aloud time. This is where I squeeze in my favorite picture books or my favorite novels - which means HOLIDAY-themed books!!!! So one of my favorites is The Polar Express. I will read it during these two little 10-minute times and then have the students complete the two graphic organizers you see below. These are from my Christmas ELA Printables pack where you can find many more!

If you're still with me, you're in luck because I DO have a FREEBIE for you! This is an oldie, but a goodie. This is perfect for morning work or to leave with a sub. You can download this cut-and-paste freebie by clicking the picture below or clicking {HERE}. Please be super duper kind and leave some sweet feedback for the freebie! :)

I hope you guys have a great start to the month of December!

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Product Launch for ADVANCED Writers!

Hey there, my friends! I have been working hard to get you an ADVANCED version of my Perfect Paragraphs One Step at a Time series! The original series has been a huge hit and have really helped many students to become successful writers. I was looking for a way to differentiate and offer a more ADVANCED approach to the Perfect Paragraphs and I have finally worked out all the little details! Let me explain...

What's the difference between the original Perfect Paragraphs One Step at a Time and the ADVANCED Perfect Paragraphs series? 

First, the topics/prompts are all the exact same as my original Perfect Paragraphs series. I did this for a specific reason. I wanted the ADVANCED Perfect Paragraphs to be a source of differentiation in your classroom. I was finding that my struggling writers and average writers were doing a fantastic job with the original format. However, my advanced writers could use a little more challenge! So I created the ADVANCED Perfect Paragraphs One Step at a Time!

Second, the original Perfect Paragraphs series taught students using a step-by-step approach to writing a 5 sentence paragraph: an introduction sentence, three details or reasons, and a concluding statement. The ADVANCED Perfect Paragraphs series will use the same step-by-step approach, but the students will be writing an 8 sentence paragraph: an introduction sentence, three details or reasons, three examples to support those details or reasons, and a concluding statement.

I am beyond thrilled with how these turned out and I can't wait to use BOTH as a source of differentiation in my classroom. Every student will be writing about the same thing, but on their own level. Some students will be writing 5 sentence paragraphs, while others will be writing 8 sentence paragraphs. Easy Peasy!

I created the infographic above to help you see the difference between the two series. Feel free to PIN this image or any other images included in this post! I hope you find the ADVANCED Perfect Paragraphs useful! October Edition is finished and uploaded and November is coming soon!

You can check out the original Perfect Paragraphs by clicking {HERE} or on the image below:

The first product in the new series: ADVANCED Perfect Paragraphs One Step at a Time: October Edition! You can check it out by clicking {HERE} or on the images below.

You can also grab both versions for easy differentiation in your classroom!


Happy Writing! :)

Monday, August 17, 2015

A Peek at My Week: The First Days of School {FREEBIE}

Whew! The first week of school is in the books and this teacher is STILL exhausted even after a weekend to try to catch up! But I did want to share with you some of my favorite activities we did from the first week of school! Take a peek below into our first week of fun!

Even in the 3rd grade, we are all still a little nervous. In our school, the K-2 are on one side of the building and 3-6 are on the complete opposite side of the building. We call it the "Big Kids" side and the kiddos get a little intimidated in the transition over to this side of the building. So I began the day by reading First Day Jitters. This is a familiar book that they have all read before, but it's just so cute! I use it to ease their minds and let them know that even I, the teacher, has the first day jitters! We all get a good laugh and relax a little bit after the story. I use that time to introduce myself and then for the students to spend some time introducing themselves using the two activities above from my Back to School Activities Pack!

Next, we get up and moving around the room! I like to incorporate quite a few bodily-kinesthetic activities in the first week just in case any of the kiddos have the wiggles! We did two more activities from my Back to School Activities Pack where the students get to know their friends and the classroom environment.

Next, we start talking about our school-wide expectations! We begin with responsibility by reading Just a Little Homework. The kids can all relate to getting a little distracted and making excuses as he does in the book. We also tie this into the 7 Habits - Put First Things First.

We learned about obeying expectations by reading Miss Nelson is Missing. This is always a class favorite! We then talked about the playground rules and why they're important before we went outside for recess. We created a brochure for the Kindergarteners at our school to help them learn the playground rules as well! Authentic writing! You can find this writing activity in my August/Back to School Common Core Writing Activities

We spend a great deal of time talking about cooperation, because we spend a great majority of our school day working with partners and in groups. We read the story Swimmy and then the students completed the What Should We Do? activity from my Back to School Activities Pack. This activity encourages the students to really cooperate and synergize (7 Habits vocabulary) to compromise on a decision.

Continuing on with cooperation, we completed this activity that I saw posted on 4th Grade Frolics. Thanks for sharing, Tara! The students must "Save Fred"! Fred is the gummy worm and the cup is the boat. Fred is in the ocean and the students must rescue him by getting the gummy lifesaver around Fred and getting Fred back in the boat all without using their hands! They do have tools to use though - paperclips only! The students worked in groups of four to try to "Save Fred" and then we talked about how we had to cooperate in order to make it work!

Next we talked about keeping a positive attitude by reading Pete the Cat. Even though this is a very early elementary book, I just love the way that Pete has such a positive attitude and I love the message at the end! After we read, we worked with partners and toothpaste! The only directions I gave was to squirt all the toothpaste out of the tube and onto the plate with the help of their partners. The kiddos didn't have a problem with that at all - ha! Next, I looked at them and said, "OK, friends, now please put the toothpaste back into your tubes. Go!" *insert confused looks from all my kiddos here* They were all like "Mrs. Rector, that's impossible! We can't do that!" I look confused as well - hee hee! The takeaway from this activity: Choose your words wisely, because once they come out of your mouth, you can't put them back in! I do explain that you can clean up the mess and apologize (we threw the toothpaste away to symbolize this), but you can never put the toothpaste back in the tube. This led into a meaningful conversation about using kind words, having positive attitudes, and respect towards others. NAILED IT!

We ended our fun after the toothpaste activity with Lilly's Purple Plastic Purse where we had more discussion about respect towards your peers and your teacher. This type of conversation is what creates our family-like atmosphere in our classroom and I think it's KEY to having a smooth operating learning environment with mutual respect among teacher and students. 

We also talked about friendships and what it means to be a good friend. One of the stories, among many, that we read through the week was Rainbow Fish. I love the lesson learned in this story and it's just a great book that the kids really like! We followed that up with my FREEBIE Back to School Common Core Writing Activity about friendship! I use this piece of writing as a quick little assessment of their writing skills in the first few days. Click the link or the picture below to download for FREE!

Towards the end of the week, we needed to get some structure and routine happening so we began using my Perfect Paragraphs One Step at a Time: Back to School Edition to write about our favorite summer memory! The kiddos are doing great with this and the step-by-step approach is perfect! You can save over 20% by grabbing Perfect Paragraphs: THE ENTIRE BUNDLE! This product will absolutely change the way your students write paragraphs! It's been an amazing tool!

Finally, we used Blair Turner's Back to School Interactive Notebooks to get acquainted with our interactive notebooks: cutting quickly and efficiently, using glue without using a TON of glue, and placing the interactive pieces in our notebooks correctly! This was a fun little intro to so much more interactive notebooking to come!

So there you have it! Our first week is done, blogged about, and in the books! I am SO excited to continue on and make even more awesome memories with this great group of kiddos! Here's to a great school year, my friends!

Sunday, August 2, 2015

2015-2016 Classroom Reveal

Whew! It's been a week and a half of long nights setting up my classroom! I may or may not have stayed at school one night until 3:15 am - whoops! I like to go work in my classroom at night after my son and husband go to bed, because I feel like it's less time away from my family that way. I would rather lose sleep than lose family time, so it has been worth it! My classroom setup pictures have gotten a lot of interest and questions on my Instagram account, so I wanted to share my complete classroom reveal as promised! So here goes.... prepare yourselves for picture overload! :)

I will share broad view pictures first, then close-ups of everything with details and more information, so keep scrolling!

This is the view when you walk into my classroom and my favorite part of the room:

The front of my room:

The back wall and student desks:

The entire side wall:

Looking back at my entry door, hallway window, and computer table:

Now for details and close-ups!

The "Reach for the Stars" headline was made from a font by Kimberly Geswein called KG Geronimo Blocks. It's a free download for personal use {HERE}. The incentive charts are from Teacher Created Resources. This will be used as my student data board.

Close-up of the incentive charts - love them! The border is from Creative Teaching Press.

My small book baskets are from The Dollar Tree, the larger picture book baskets are from Big Lots and the paper baskets on top are from The Dollar Tree. The polka-dot lamp came from Dollar General. The black bookshelf is an OLD worn-out bookshelf belonging to my school that I painted black a few years ago.

My picture book display case needs a serious paint job (I soooo need it to be black and probably will end up painting it before school starts Aug. 11th), but it's loaded with Back to School books for the first few weeks of school. I change these out monthly.

This is my teacher area. I keep my desk up against the wall, because who has time to sit down at their desk during the day anyway?! It saves space in the classroom and is only needed during planning and before/after school anyway. The ROCKS poster was created by me and printed by our sweet librarian. It displays our school-wide expectations. To the right of that are whole-brain teaching cues from First Grade Fever, a FREE download found {HERE}.

The rest of my teacher stuff is kept in the bookcase beside my desk. The drawer labels with subjects are an editable file that I purchased from Learning in Wonderland {HERE}. The Monday-Friday labels are a FREEBIE from Ladybug Teacher Files {HERE}. The binders are in desperate need of spine labels - EEK! *Added to my to-do list.*

I've had a HUGE request for close-ups of these paper storage baskets and the labels on each. I have an entire blog post about how I organize my paper clutter using these baskets {HERE}. The labels are a FREE download from my sweet friend at Ladybug Teacher Files {HERE}. The baskets came from Really Good Stuff. The baskets are labeled Notes from Home, Papers to Pass out, Paperwork to Sort, Papers for Next Week, Extra Class Sets, and Extra Papers. You can read more about what actually goes in those baskets in the blog post linked above or {HERE}. The lime green and pink bins store my math manipulatives and came from Target several years ago. The buckets came from The Dollar Tree and the big storage container in the bottom right came from Big Lots. The calendar, birthday chart, and classroom jobs displays are from Creative Teaching Press.

This area is to the right of my bulletin board. The metal buckets hold supplies and the inspirational quotes came from my friend Hope King at Elementary Shenanigans in her Desire to Inspire pack found {HERE}. The curtains are from Target. The other small bookshelf will also hold other supplies and all of those containers also came from The Dollar Tree.

This is my small reading/relaxing area. All of the pillows came from Wal-Mart. The chalkboard posters came from Creative Teaching Press. The R.E.A.D. letters came from Hobby Lobby. Finally the smaller posters above with leadership quotes came from Lauren Bright at One Bright Classroom {HERE}.

Again, the chalkboard posters are from Creative Teaching Press, orange pocket charts came from Target Dollar Spot, Math Centers header made from the KG font I linked to above, and the leadership quotes are from One Bright Classroom also linked to above. {All links above}.

A close-up of my iPad and iPod storage system. Labels for the drawers are again from Learning in Wonderland {HERE}.

The black pocket chart is from Scholastic and will be used as my attendance and lunch count with student numbers. More leadership quotes from One Bright Classroom {link above} and our Behavior Clip Chart found in my Creating Superstars in the Classroom: A Tool to Promote Leadership pack found {HERE}.

Last, but not least, this is what you will see on the outside of my classroom door. I used a chalkboard poster and added one of Hope King's Desire to Inspire posters {link is above} to make a bold statement the moment you enter my classroom: "In this classroom you are important, loved, respected. You are part of a team. You are valuable, listened to, successful." Love it!

So there you have it, my friends! Many hours of hard work and still a little bit to do before school starts, but all in all, I'm pleased with how my classroom has come together. New classroom, new grade level, and new year - how exciting! Feel free to PIN anything you like from above! Wishing you all the best this school year!