Thursday, November 1, 2012

Quick Talk, Book Recs

Just a quick post about a way to share books in your classroom. I have been reading "The Book Whisperer" and wanted to find a way for my kiddos to share book recommendations with one another. I have tried bulletin boards with the recommendations... but that never seems to get far. It is more of a requirement than an actual tool they used. I wanted them talking about their books and sharing titles.

I just opened it up to my class for ideas on how we could do this. By combining a few ideas, this is what we came up with:

Quick Talk, Book Recs
A "Quick Talk, Book Rec" is simply a fast-paced book chat. Students wander around the room while I play some music. When the music stops, they find a friend near them to partner up with. Once partnered, they share what book they are currently reading, (I make my students carry the book with them) tell a little bit about the book, and why or why not they would recommend it to someone else. The other person in the partnership then does the same. I give them 45-60 seconds to do this. When I start the music again, they meander around the room again and start all over. We do this 3-4 times each session. I try to do it every few days... but it just depends on time. The kids love it, and hopefully they are picking up on some new books to read! 

Tuesday, October 30, 2012


Today I introduced my students to Pilgrims, Thanksgiving, Wampanoags, and the Plymouth colony. We started the lesson with reading "The Pilgrims' First Thanksgiving" by Ann McGovern. It is a great intro book that covers the basics of what occured and what led to the first Thanksgiving.

Picture courtesy of

We then went back in time to 1620, aboard the Mayflower. I showed my students the electronic field trips from the Plimoth Planation website. Here is the link. These 2 field trips show them what life was like for the Pilgrims, as well as the Indians. While watching the field trips, my students munched on Hardtack, ship's biscuits that I made them. You can Google to find many recipes... essentially they are dry, hard biscuits that have no flavor! My kiddos didn't enjoy them much! Haha.

It was a fun, quick lesson that introduced them to Plymouth.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Native American Dioramas

My class created diorama projects last week. I wanted to share with you how awesome that they turned out! We have been learning about the native people of America.

I split the class into five groups. Each group then drew a geographical region out of a hat to create a diorama on. The five groups that I used were: Northeastern Woodlands, Southeastern Woodlands, Pacific Northwest, and Western Great Plains.

The students were responsible for creating a diorama that depicted the type of house they would have lived in, as well as the surrounding land and culture that would have been seen in that region.

As well as the diorama, they created a folder with a map showing where their area was located and a couple of paragraphs telling some more facts and details about the specific tribes that lived there as well.

Here is the rubric that I used to grade their projects with:

I made the rubric using the rubric website, It is a great website for making individualized rubrics for a variety of activities!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Daily 5 and Cafe and Storytown

Well the school year is well under way! I am now 4 weeks in! I have to say that my class is the best I have ever had! They are very sweet and hard workers. It doesn't hurt any that I only have 20 kiddos (last year I had 28!)

Anyway, we have been practicing our Daily 5 procedures and they love it! We have covered Read to Self, Work on Writing, Read to Someone and Work on Writing. We are adding Listen to Reading next week! I have been trying and retrying a few different schedule approaches. I thought that I would share my current plan for all of the upper elementary teachers out there trying to figure this out like me!

I have decided to use my basal reader a little bit this year. I have not used it much in the past and decided to give it a try this year. One of my teammates has been using hers and has so many great ideas to go with it! I am excited to use her great activities in my room as well. Our school has the Harcourt "Storytown" series. So, I have been trying to figure out how to use Daily 5, Cafe, Storytown, and all of the cutesy lessons that I find online.

My Cafe board and meeting area!

Here is my plan as of today:

(I have an hour and 50 minutes for reading time.)

15 minutes: Teacher Read-Aloud (usually a historical fiction novel to go with our current Social Studies curriculum.)

10 minutes: Mini Lesson on our focus reading skill of the week (example: conflict/resolution)

20 minutes: Read to Self (I make my class all do Read to Self at the same time so that the room is silent.)

10 minutes: Mini Lesson on one of our Cafe strategies (example: choosing "good fit" books)

20 minutes: Choice of Read to Someone, Listen to Reading, or Word Work

10 Minutes: Mini Lesson on our Writing Skill of the week (example: subject/predicate)

20 minutes: Work on Writing (I make my class all do Work on Writing at the same time, once again, so it is quiet.)

5 minutes: Share time (my class this year LOVES to share their writing.)

Just a few other details- my class is sooo good at Read to Self! I even had a teacher that stopped me today and said that he saw through my window that my class was reading silently, and they were actually reading! He said, "They were actually reading and seemed to be enjoying it! What's the secret?" He wanted to know how he could do it too! They slowly built up their stamina and it has paid off greatly!

As far as incorporating my Storytown series:We will review vocabulary during the second mini-lesson on Mondays and then I will read aloud the story to them. I plan on reading the story of the week on during the choice time. They can then use the same story during Read to Someone on one of the other days of the week. I also will use the Storytown assessment on Friday during Read to Self, so that when they are done with the test they can go straight into reading their own book. I think that this layout will allow me some structure on my skill of the week as well as give some solid assessment data to base their Cafe goals off of. 

Does anyone else use all 3? I would love to hear how others use them.

Hope you have a great weekend!

Saturday, August 11, 2012

George Washington Teacher Institute

I had the privilege to attend the George Washington Teacher Institute this summer at Mount Vernon. It a week-long program in which you stay on the grounds at Mount Vernon and learn about all things George Washington. We did all sorts of fun things like tour the mansion, meet Mrs. Washington, travel to the gristmill and distillery, as well as, walk around the grounds to see everything they have to offer there. If you have never been, I highly recommend it! It is such a neat experience, especially the teacher institute. I even got up early enough to see the sunrise over the Potomac River.

I tried to choose 5 things that I learned about that I would want to share with my colleagues and class. So, here they are:

1. George Washington had so many different jobs! He was a surveyor, farmer, president, general, owned a distillery and gristmill, as well as cared for his family and country!

2. He was quite the inventor! He constructed a 16-sided barn to aid in the process of threshing grain. It is a sight to see for sure!

3. Anyone who knows me, knows that I LOVE all things chocolate. Well, chocolate was apart of the Washington's life as well. We learned the process of how chocolate was made then, as well as having a taste test. (It was prepared much differently then.) I think I will turn this into a chocolate unit with my kids this year! Anyone have any great chocolate lessons? I think I will include a chocolate tasting party with a variety of different chocolates.

4. Math! Math is everywhere at Mount Vernon! I can tie in the 16-sided barn, the layout of the mansion, the fact that he was a surveyor, the crop rotation schedule, etc.

5. Martha Washington! She is one of my favorite women of history. She played such a role in the formation of our country. I want to bring her alive to my students! I especially respect all of the hardships that she lived through including the death of all of her children, as well as her husband.

So, as you can see, Mount Vernon has so much to offer! I just loved my time spent there.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Classroom Progress in Pictures

I have been working on my room for a couple of weeks now. We start school a week from today! Summer goes by way too fast. Here are some pictures of my progress. I still have a few finishing touches to do.

Here is the view from my door:

I have student desks placed in groups of 7-8. This is my favorite desk arrangement. It makes my room feel like we have more space than when they are all spread out or in small groups of 4-5.

I also added bulletin boards (outlines anyway) on the back wall for each subject area to put my anchor charts on.

Here is my take on the Boggle board I have seen all over Pinterest:

I used the "Dots on Turquoise" line of letters and shapes. I got the printable alphabet from: Mrs. Rojas Teaches.

Here is picture of my whiteboard I added a pennant banner to, my "Brownie Points" pan (I found here), and a first day of 5th grade frame the kids are going to hold for a picture I take of them.

This is just a cart that another teacher was throwing out. I put some scrapbook paper on top and in the drawers to pretty it up a bit. I will use it to store the Boggle letters, brownie pieces, notebooks and such. (Please excuse the trash.)

Classroom Library and Cafe bulletin board:

Another library picture:

 You can read more about my classroom library here.

Here you can see my library, storage, station materials, word wall, and construction paper.

Well, that is all I have done so far. I hope that the kids like it. I just love this part of back-to-school! I have really enjoyed seeing everyone else's photos on their blogs of their classrooms. I always get great ideas!

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Guess Who! American History

Wow! Is tomorrow already August? Time has flown by this summer! I have been gone the majority of the summer, hence the lack in posts... but I am back now! I have a lengthy list of things to blog about from my summer adventures! To begin with, here is one of my crafty Pinterest projects that I have completed (here is the link to the original idea):

Colonial America/Revolutionary War Guess Who!

I have been wanting to do this project for a while now and finally made the time this last month. It took me some time to put it all together! The old-fashioned Guess Who game is hard to come by! They have made it all fancy now, which is not what I wanted! I scoured garage sales and thrift stores until I found one! Here are my directions:

1. Find an old Guess Who game and take out the cards (you might already have one in your game cabinet.)
2. Select people from history, family, students, etc. to turn into a game. 
3. Measure the game cards in your Guess Who game. (Mine were 1.75" x 1.12")
4. Using your favorite document maker, (I used Power Point) create boxes that are the measurements of your cards. 
5. Find pictures of your people you want to use either on the Internet or photos you have taken.
6. Insert the photos into your document, sizing them to fit inside the boxes.
7. Insert a text box at the bottom of your boxes and type the person's name.
8. Print, laminate, cut, insert, and play! (Make sure you print an extra set to draw from.)

Rules of play: 
1. Open the trays by turning them upside down.
2. Each player draws a card that their opponent will be trying to guess.
3. Ask "yes" or "no" questions to narrow down the suspects. (You can ask if they are bald, wearing a hat, male, or even about something they did in history like did this person fight in a war?)
4. Narrow down the selection until you think you know who your opponent has for you. Make your guess on your next turn to see if you are correct!
Bonus: If you want it to be more of a challenge, pull 2 cards to guess. Then, you can ask questions like: Is either person involved in the Revolutionary War? or Are both people female?

I hope you will create your own Guess Who game now! I would love to sell my cards that I have made, but I just got the images from Google, so that wouldn't be legal. However, it really didn't take long to make. Make sure you link up pictures of yours if you make one!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Summer Bucket List

Hadar, April and Teri are hosting a linky party that I just couldn't resist jumping on! Here is my summer bucket list:

I have a really busy summer ahead, filled with lots of trips!!

1. Go on a cruise to fantastic beaches in the Caribbean!!


2. Go to Williamsburg Teacher Institute as a Peer Faciliator. Last year, I went to Williamsburg as a peer and this year I get to go back! I am so excited (and a little nervous) as well!

3. Go to Mount Vernon Teacher Institute. This is a first for me and I soooo excited!! Anyone have any advice on this trip?


4. Go back to Williamsburg to help them write curriculum. This is a first for me as well! Anyone ever done this before?

5. Read! I love to read but rarely make the time for it. Here are a few books on my list for this summer:

6. Craft and bake a little. Here are some of my fav's from Pinterest.



7. Last, but certainly not least, work on stuff for my classroom! Here are my main focuses:


Re-do the way I do my math stations:

Convert everything to Common Core

So what do you have planned for the summer??

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Blog Awards

Hello bloggy friends!

I have been given the "Lovely Blog" award and now need to pass it on! 

I have found 15 great new blogs to which I have given the award!

Once you've received the award you must:

1- Follow the blog who passed on the award to you
2- Mention the blogger who has given it to you in a blog post

3- Pass on the award to 15 new blogs

Congrats to those chosen! Please go check them out!

Dandelions and Dragonflies:
Teaching with a touch of Twang:
The Science Penguin:
Guided-Math:http: //
Technology Rocks Seriously:
Glitter, Glue and Teaching Too:
The Diary of A Not So Wimpy Teacher:
Mandy's Tips for Teachers:

Blog Award

I am so excited that Miss Sara over at Miss Elementary has given my blog the "One Lovely Blog" award! I now get to pass it on to 15 other blogs! I will be on the lookout for who to give them to! Thank you again Miss Sara! I am new to this blogging world, but am totally obsessed!