Sunday, April 26, 2015

A "Thank You" Freebie

I logged in to Blogger to see this today:

Whether you are a follower who reads every post or a visitor who found me via Pinterest, I thank you for stopping by. This statistic may seem small to some of the more popular bloggers, but to me, it means the world.

As a thank you, I'd like to share a freebie. As we all know, a big part of close reading is annotating text. In my class, I call it "leaving tracks."

When first introducing annotation, I ask my students to close their eyes and imagine themselves in a snowy forest. I ask them to imagine a deer passing in front of them. The deer quietly walks off in to the distance. We talk about what the deer leaves behind. The answer is tracks. Just like an animal leaves tracks as proof of where it has been, good readers leave tracks in order to prove they/ve read a text closely and understand (or do not understand) it.

At the beginning of the year, I print and laminate these bookmarks. They look bright and beautiful when printed in color, but they also look nice when printed in black/white on bright paper.

I give my students many different tracks that they can use, and I encourage them to create their own if they'd like. These are just a few of the "tracks" I encourage my students to leave, sort of a jumping off point. Others include LOL for something funny, a heart for something they love, a happy or sad face for something they liked or did not like, etc. (If you can't tell, my symbol for a connection is the infinity symbol.)

Click the image below if you'd like to download the freebie in Google Docs. Please comment if it is something you'll use in your classroom. =)

close reading annotation bookmark

Thank you again to my followers and visitors!

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Updated Research Writing Freebie

Almost three years ago (YIKES, I've been blogging a long time!), I posted about my research writing endeavors. Writing can be tricky to teach, but I've always looked forward to showing my students research techniques!

That post is one of my most popular posts! Back then, when I had no idea what I was doing, I posted a freebie used Scribd. Whaaaat? So at the request of a commenter, I updated the post so that you can download the freebie in Google Docs. I gave it a facelift, as well. =)




I'm actually about to begin this project in my classroom this year. My kids have learned to research using both print and digital sources, and we are finishing up our career research projects. The animal research project (and craft!) is one they will do with less guidance.

Visit the old post HERE to read more about the project details and download the freebie. =)

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Let's Talk About: Schedules

Hey everyone! Like many of you, I am currently on Spring Break! Luckily, we didn't lose any days due to snow, so I'm off 4/3 through 4/12. It has been great so far. Definitely the recharge I need! While I have time, I thought I'd link up with Schroeder Shenanigans to talk about my daily schedule. It has been really interesting to see how others put together their day and how much time is allocated for certain things.

I don't have much say in my schedule. My day is structured by our administration, and we must stick to it. A lot of that is because we have scheduled RTI times (for both reading and math) where we have paraprofessionals and our special teachers (art, music, etc.) take groups. They are usually given the on/above level groups, and we are expected to prepare materials and lessons for them to present. I'm very thankful that we have push in help. It helps in differentiation and in meeting time requirements for RTI.

I was also taken back by how many of you do not have a planning period daily. On weeks we have PLC (which is most weeks), we have planning four of the five days. But even on that one day, I still have recess free. I already stay at work for an extra hour and half every day. If I didn't have planning, I would need to live there. I feel for you guys.

Anyway, here's my schedule with some elaboration afterward.

Our doors open at 8 am. Students may either come right down to the classroom or visit the cafeteria for free breakfast. During this time, some third grade students are hallway monitors and kindergarten volunteers. Morning work is completed as well. I have my students complete spelling activities (in leu of spelling homework). Students are marked late if they have not arrived by 8:25. Morning routine is finished up with announcements that are video streamed live.

Next is our main reading block. This time is spent working on our current skill in a variety of different ways. We do not have a reading series, so this looks different on any given day. Sometimes we are working in our INBs or using Storyworks for high interest text. It might be whole group instruction or working in partners. Just depends. Each day, I try to allocate at least 10 minutes for students to drop everything and read (DEAR) with a book on their level. Sometimes they get more or less. Again, it just depends. =)

For both Math and Reading RTI, I have a two session rotation. I posted about my math rotations HERE, although that was a couple years ago so it has changed a little. Now, I do rotations all five days and changed some things, but that post can paint a general picture. My two reading rotations are back to back, but my math rotations are split by lunch.

Brain Break=Go Noodle=My kids are obsessed. My school has a grant that allows us to get fresh fruits and veggies a few days a week. If there is a delivery that day, we enjoy our snack at this time.

My writing block involves explicit instruction on various types of writing and taking writing pieces through the writing process. We did mentor sentences for the first half of the year, and my kids loooved it. However, since Christmas, this block has been spent doing SBAC test prep. No comment. But I have been doing performance task prep, so at least writing is being integrated.

Whole group math involves a lot of notebooking, manipulatives, anchor charts, and partner work. Math instruction is my fave! Again, we don't have a series, so this block looks different depending on the day and the concept.

I have duty-free lunch every day. I have recess duty every third week. My teammates and I are on a rotating schedule, so it is nice to get a little extra time to get things done every now and then.

For science and social studies, I typically teach a half of a marking period of science, then switch to social studies for the remainder. Not ideal. I integrate both into reading as much as possible.

From there, my students go to special, and I've made it to my planning period! Whoooop! Like I said, I have planning four out of five days of the week. Having planning at the end of the day has its pros and cons. It makes for a looooong day, but it also allows me to get started cleaning up the chaos from the past day and prepping for the day ahead!

Well, there it is! Looking forward to hear more about your schedules, too!