Jun 30, 2013

Ah....A Beautiful Collection of Words {Mentor Text Suggestion & a Freebie}

Doesn't the thought of a collector of words make you smile? :)  I like to use The Boy Who Loved Words at the beginning of each year to demonstrate that we will approach words as beautiful things to collect all year long.  I'm linking up with Collaboration Cuties today to talk about Back to School books.

Now, if you've read about our Word Attack Notebooks, you might think that words aren't actually safe in our classroom. :)  (evil laugh...)  :)  We do treasure them.  We may attack them first, but then they are treasured forever. ;)

I first read about this nice little word collector at Always Write.  If you aren't familiar with this site, please check it out!  It is a wonderful resource with lots of fabulous lessons.

The Boy Who Loved Words is about a little fellow who collects so many words that it initially causes problems for him.  He eventually solves this problem by finding the most wonderful uses for all of his words.

Not only is this a great book to show the importance of beautiful words, it is a great book to teach vocabulary.  Where else will you find a better collection of words to explore, than a book written for the purpose of collecting beautiful words?  This is a Word Work Station waiting to happen!

 Any word exploration strategies or task cards would work effectively with this book.  If you are interested, here's a strategy that I like to use from time to time.  Feel free to grab it here if you like. :)  I have several copies printed in color on task cards and laminated.  I leave the task card, along with a few books with vivid vocabulary on a table.  They duplicate the circle map in their notebooks for a bit of word exploration.  Yes, they only gain one word with this strategy...but they GAIN one word in a big way, and it sticks! :)  This is a great book to pin point a few FABULOUS WORDS that you want to stick for a very long time.  :)

Two little reminders before you go!
 Jivey from Ideas by Jivey along with Amanda and Stacia from Collaboration Cuties are organizing a MEET-UP for the Southeastern Bloggers!  I'm very excited and I am trying to help spread the word.  Visit either of the blogs listed above for more information.  :)

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Please CLICK above to follow on Bloglovin, and THEN click HERE to find a gift card GIVEAWAY to TARGET, everybody loves TARGET!
Have a FABULOUS day! :)

Jun 29, 2013

I am {CURRENTLY} setting some GOALS for July! :)

So today, I am finding it much easier to blog about my GOALS rather than to simply attack them!  How about you on this beautiful day?

TIP # 1 
I am lovin' BLOGLOVIN'!  Have you tried setting up groups?  I love that I can group the blogs I follow in any way that makes reading easier for me.  I CURRENTLY have my groups set up by upper and lower grades, but I see myself getting much more creative with this later. ;)

TIP # 2
I wasn't lovin' BLOGLOVIN' on my iPhone or my iPad, but I've found a solution.  My initial problem was that I would have to send a post to Safari or Chrome before I could comment, and I was a bit frustrated.  Anyone else having that problem?  Then, by chance, I realized that instead of sending the posts to Safari or Chrome, why not just start there on the BLOGLOVIN' site?  I have to say...I may have been the last one to figure this out, but it works beautifully this way!

If you haven't set up an account yet, you should definitely check it out!
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Please CLICK above to follow on Bloglovin, and THEN click here to find directions to register to win a gift card from TARGET! 2 DAYS LEFT! Who doesn't love TARGET, right?

Now, on to some  GOAL SETTING with I {heart} Recess!
Seems as though there is always so much to do!  Keeps us young and alive! :) I can't wait to meet some of my Southeastern Blogging Buddies this month, and maybe even find a few new ones to follow!  

Enjoy your weekend Teacher Friends!

Jun 28, 2013

In Lieu of a Table of Contents...{Interactive Notebooks}

Happy Friday Teacher Friends!  Today I'm joining 4umlaFun
to talk about Interactive Notebooks.  Click below to find a party with lots of LINKS to TIPS AND SUGGESTIONS for Notebooking. :)
Over the years, I've tried many different methods of organization for the notebooks in my classroom.  It is inevitable that I will need more pages for something in each section, or worse, decide that a particular section isn't effective, and then not use it.  I sure hate to see blank pages in a notebook.  Grrr....

The way I've resolved this problem for myself is to set up the format, or table of contents so to speak, at the beginning of each unit rather than at the beginning of the notebook.  We still have organization, and they can still find everything they need, but I still have the freedom to change things up on a smaller scale and more frequently, as I monitor and adjust what is needed each week for my particular students' needs.
We use a newsletter as a cover page for each unit.  The newsletter must be signed by the parents so that they know what to expect and can participate when appropriate.  We tab the top of each newsletter so that it can be found easily for reference.  I display a table of contents model on the board, like you see in the pic above, and they mark their pages for the unit in their personal notebooks.  Each unit typically takes about 25 pages before we are done, and has an abbreviation written with the page number, to further organize and separate each unit from the others.  As we start a new unit, we start over with page one and a new abbreviation.  In the example above GNS stands for GRAPHIC NOVEL STUDY.  If you are interested, you can read a bit about our GNS in a previous post. :)


I have joined with a LARGE group of bloggers to help everyone get started with Bloglovin'!  If you haven't set up an account- it is free, and it is FABULOUS!  You don't have to be a blogger to join, and there's a great app available once you set up an account.  It's a great way to keep track of all the blogs you like to read, and have the newest posts available to you in an organized fashion.

Follow on Bloglovin

Please CLICK above to follow on Bloglovin, and THEN click here to find directions to register to win a gift card from TARGET!  Who doesn't love TARGET, right?

You can find the rest of the GIVEAWAYS here

Jun 27, 2013

Integrating Technology into Reading Classrooms {Linky Party with Lots of Ideas}

Ahhhh....A Linky made in heaven for ME!  I love reading and I love technology.  Click over and visit iTeach 1:1 and Learning to the Core to see who's at the party!  Now let's see, where shall I start?

We use several apps to manage our Literacy Workshop time.  You can read about those here and here.

A while back I wrote a post about WONDEROPOLIS!  We often use WODEROPOLIS in our informational text station.  You can read more about how we use it in this post. If you aren't familiar with this site, you should check it out.  There is a very user-friendly app available as well.  

I've also blogged a bit about using EDMODO for BOOK TALKS.  We set up a private group during the last month of school, and so far, my students are still reading and posting even though school's out for SUMMER!  I know...it makes me smile too! :)  You can read more about our Summer Book Talks with EDMODO on this post.

We did a QR Scavenger Hunt to reflect on some of the read-alouds we shared together during the year.  Each clue was a hint about a certain book and a clue as to where they could find that book hidden.  They had to remember the book, find the secret location, and then open the book to find their next clue!  FUN, FUN, FUN!  You can read about it in #3 here.  :)  I created the QR HUNT using a free app called RED LASER, and then my kiddos used Red Laser on our iPods to scan the codes to find the clues.

Since reading and writing go hand in hand, I have what I think is a very useful tip for integrating technology into writing.  You can find my tutorial for setting this up here, but the basic concept is simple.  I love to for my students to run readability tests on their writing.  They love to watch their score increase, I love to teach them the revising skills that send that score high above their grade level.  Sentence structure, vocabulary, correct spelling and punctuation, details, etc., in writing, all increase readability scores. I have found  that this is a great way to get students to see the importance of using revision skills.  When they see it in action, they start to look for these elements in their novels, and begin to read more critically.  Reading and writing go hand in hand. :)

As you can tell from all the previous posts, I love to integrate TECHNOLOGY into my READING CLASSROOM.

I have one last integration to share with you.  GOOGLE!  I know...Everybody uses GOOGLE in their classrooms, but I couldn't post about integration without mentioning the value of simply having the technology available.  I LOVE BOOKS, don't get me wrong, but if I hand my students an iPod and ask them to research a topic and write down a few facts, I will get way more reading, writing, and information from them with an iPod than if I had simply asked them to look it up in a book, much less a textbook.  I'm just saying...GOOGLE wins over a TEXTBOOK every time!


Now...onto some GROWN-UP technology.  :)  WOW!  I bet the BLOGLOVIN' people were blown away yesterday!  I am sure some records were broken for them thanks to the huge GIVEAWAY that's going on!

I have joined with a LARGE group of bloggers to help everyone get started with Bloglovin'!  If you haven't set up an account- it is free, and it is FABULOUS!  You don't have to be a blogger to join, and there's a great app available once you set up an account.  It's a great way to keep track of all the blogs you like to read, and have the newest posts available in an organized fashion.

Follow on Bloglovin

Please CLICK above to follow on Bloglovin, and THEN click here to find directions to register to win a gift card from TARGET!  Who doesn't love TARGET, right?

You can find the linky party with lots of GIVEAWAYS here

Jun 26, 2013

Show us some BLOGLOVIN'!

Hi fabulous followers!!
(As said by my cutie friends over at Collaboration Cuties!)
I've decided to jump on their Bloglovin' Wagon for a GIVEAWAY and a little LINKY FUN as we say Good-bye to Google Reader.  See post below and then click away as you SHOW US SOME BLOGLOVIN'!  Good LUCK! :)

You have probably heard by now that Google Reader is going away on July 1st.  Well, Google Reader may be going away, but we don't want YOU to go away, so we hope that you will consider following our blog through bloglovin!  We know that change is hard...so we thought we might sweeten it up for you a little bit!

We are doing a giveaway for all of our fabulous followers that take the leap and switch over to bloglovin.  You may have already switched over!  In that case, this will be an easy entry!

If you have not yet switched or are not following our blog through bloglovin, then there are a few easy steps to follow.  You can go to our sidebar (that's the column on the right over there that shows our followers) and you can click the button that says Follow this Blog with bloglovin.  Or, you can go into the Rafflecopter below and click the link in the first entry, and that will take you to our blog on bloglovin.

You will need to set up an account with bloglovin so that you can follow us.  Please be sure to leave your bloglovin username in the Rafflecopter entry.  Then, go to this post on bloglovin and "like" it.

If you want to go ahead and move all of the blogs you follow from Google over, you can go to this link and it will take you through the super easy steps.  BUT, please go to our bloglovin link and make sure that you are following us through bloglovin.  To be sure, make sure that the blue button at the top of our bloglovin page has been clicked (it should be gray with the word following- if it's blue, please click it to follow!)

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So, if you follow by BLOGLOVIN', please enter our giveaway!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway Good luck!

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Jun 25, 2013

Free Write Journals ~You just have to turn on the FOUNTAIN! {Tried It Tuesday}

Confession time-I've never been much of a writer!  I tend to put a lot of pressure on myself! (SURPRISE)

This pressure was holding me back! Once I gave myself the freedom to simply get my thoughts on paper, without the stress, I became a FREE FLOWING FOUNTAIN OF WORDS!  Who knew??  Granted, I would not have tried journaling this summer if a professor had not required it.  Which leads me to my "TRIED IT TUESDAY" with Fourth Grade Flipper.  I apologize in advance for the long post...Apparently I have turned on the fountain again! ;)

{Tried It Tuesday} Free Write Journals
Turn on the FOUNTAIN and let the words flow!

I am currently in the middle of NWP. (National Writing Project Summer Institute)  We begin each class with journal time.

Here's what I have learned about myself:
  • I actually do like to write.  Again, who knew?
  • Getting started is the hardest part.
  • Once the flood gates are open, writing flows very freely on most topics.
  • Talking a lot DOES translate into writing a lot if you have freedom to choose your topics!  (Tells you a little about me, doesn't it?) :)
  • Some days I just need to write what I'm feeling on that particular day and have the freedom to keep it to myself.
  • And believe it or not, it is okay if I don't want to finish it the next day. 

In the spirit of CONFESSIONS, these reflections on myself as a writer, sure are going to be GAME-CHANGERS for my classroom!  As a teacher, I have tried to use my classroom as a place to create lifelong readers and writers, and in turn lifelong learners.  I don't feel that my top priority needs to be feeding prescribed information to them, rather I would like to think that I have tried to inspire them to gain knowledge for themselves.   BOY HAVE I MISSED THE BOAT WITH CLASSROOM JOURNALS!  Sure, we had them.  From time to time my students wrote in them if they finished their work early. (Sigh....)

These confessions have led me to my PINTEREST FILES where I have discovered a few posts from my blogging buddies on journal writing.  Collaboration Cuties has a great post here and Magic Mistakes and Meyham's post can be found here.  I am sure there are lots of fabulous resources out there, and I am certainly going to look for them this summer, as I begin totally revamping my journal writing plans.

For now, here are my thoughts.
  • PERCEPTION IS EVERYTHING!  If I present this time as a gift that I am giving them and sneaking for myself, eventually they will buy in! (This is how I approach reading, why not writing?)
  • At registration, I will explain my plan for this treasured journal time, and suggest parents encourage this by helping their child select a journal that will be special to them. (I will make sure every child has this opportunity if their parents do not.)   
  • I will find at least 10 minutes a day everyday, with a plan to INCREASE time as students increase stamina, that my students AND I will write about whatever we want on that given day.  Slowly but surely, the stories will get longer and more in depth.
  • I will have a daily topic, in case someone has writer's block.  Sometimes I will choose random topics to encourage and increase writing STAMINA...thanks Collaboration Cuties!
  • I will NOT hold them to this topic.  If they are in the mood to write about the moon, they can GO FOR IT!  I just want them to write.  There will be time for required topics during our Workshop.  This is totally free write time.  No grades, no corrections, no rewrites unless they want to, no pressure at all!
  • In time, they will begin to apply writing skills they have gained from our Workshop time to their journals without me pointing it out for them.  APPLICATION of skills is powerful stuff!
  • Just as reading makes you a better reader, writing makes you a better writer!  I am convinced that as students increase stamina, they will be self motivated to become better writers.  Day in and day out, they will begin to give in and just write!  And when they do, they will begin to pre-plan what they might want to write about, and critical thinking will be happening about their writing without them even realizing it. :)
  • I will change the lighting for comfort, but also to signal a change in mood and to mark the importance of this time.
  • I will play quiet music to solidify that this is not a time for conversation with each other or with me.  I WILL BE WRITING AS WELL. :)
  • At the end of the week, I will ask them to flag one item that I can read and respond to with the promise that I will not criticize, correct, or disrespect their journals in any way.

Don't misunderstand me, I will enforce PENCIL TO PAPER, so to speak.  Technology counts too when available.  They WILL be writing...but what they write, and how they write, will be totally up to them. (We have an overarching rule in our classroom that everything must be school and age appropriate.)  

What do you think?  I would love suggestions.  I truly want to mark this as a celebrated time of freedom and choice. We can all find 10 minutes in our day if we truly think it is important.  I will share my personal writing experiences from this summer with my students on the first day of our journal writing time.   I will also share my metaphor of a "free flowing fountain of words" as our mantra for the experience, and I hope it sticks.  :)

How do you use journal time in your classrooms?  Do you have any special strategies for marking this as a special time of day?  All suggestions and ideas are welcome!  Also, if you have written a post related to this topic, feel free to leave a link in the comments in case others might want to read your post as well.

I've tried out lots of new readers lately, and BLOGLOVIN'  seems to be my fav!  If you don't use a reader to follow blogs, it is a very simple way to make sure you don't miss any posts by your blogging buddies.  You don't have to be a blogger to set up a FREE account!  :)  
Try out it...it might just be your new favorite addiction professional development tool! ;)
Keep in touch and enjoy your day!

* Update: I just found this great Blog Hop to help you find some great blogs to "follow" if you've decided Bloglovin' is the reader for you!  Hop on over and find a few new friends! :)

Jun 23, 2013

Social Studies Mentor Text with an added ELA TWIST :)

Hello teacher friends!  As we close in on the final week of GOOGLE READER, I still haven't decided whether to use FEEDLY or BLOGLOVIN' as my new reader of choice.  I'm looking for some guidance from the experts.  What reader are you using, and have you imported your lists into the new reader?  Which do you prefer, are there others that you like, and why?
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Now, on to the reason we read blogs in the first place!  My number one reason for reading blogs is to learn about books and creative ways to use them in the classroom.  My number one reason for blogging is that I can't seem to stop talking about books and this is my outlet for sharing them. :) Today I'm linking up with COLLABORATION CUTIES to talk about Social Studies Mentor Texts.
After reading this book, I must admit that I realized I hadn't really thought about what it must have been like for people under Communist rule. I was aware of the details, but was missing the empathy. THE WALL gives you a taste of what it must have been like to live behind the Iron Curtain and to be denied art, music, and books.  This book gives you the empathy.  With empathy kids gain interest, and when they have interest, they are ready to learn!  I was a young child during the latter part of these years, and I knew Communists were bad, but I never really "felt" it. What an eye opener this book was for me!

The bottom lines read, " Things got worse...and worse."
Imagine the lessons on tone and mood.  Frankly those lines alone give me chills.  Notice the small yet prominent pops of red in the illustrations.  

As an added bonus, while researching text for the COLD WAR, I stumbled across a lesson comparing Uri Shulevitz's SNOW to the COLD WAR, saying that the reviewer couldn't help but think the author of SNOW was trying to create a metaphor through his dull, gray illustrations for how Russians must have felt during those times. I plan to use these two books together just as the reviewer suggested.  What a fabulous way to bring metaphors to life in Social Studies!  I see some very interesting critical thinking and writing happening through the use of these two books!

Keep in touch and stay connected as we move into the next phase Google Technology...where ever it may lead us!
 photo google_zps90ec475d.png

If you haven't already, click over and visit Collaboration Cuties and read about other books you can use in your classrooms.  This linky is guaranteed to add to your shopping list!
Have a wonderful Sunday and a wonderful week!

Jun 19, 2013

Dr. Seuss in fifth grade? I think YES!

In researching, okay begging, tweeting, blogging, etc. to ask for suggestions of books to use as I begin to integrate SOCIAL STUDIES into the informational text part of my literacy workshop, The Butter Battle Book kept coming up.  Now I love anything that will catch my students off guard.  With fifth graders, if you can find the unexpected, that's when you'll find you have their full attention!

I began researching my old friend from childhood, and discovered there is so much more to him than meets the eye!  I've always loved his books, and found many of his quotes inspirational and worth some discussion, but who knew?  That's when I was hooked and I am certain my students will be too!

Mr. Theodor Seuss Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss, was quite the political guy.  You can read more about this in a great article written by Everyday Citizen, which I will be using as informational text in my lesson next Spring!  I will be celebrating Dr. Seuss' birthday with a whole new level of enthusiasm this coming year with an entire unit focused on an old friend!

Let's take a more critical look at the author from our childhood shall we...

I think the study of Seuss offers several valuable lessons:

~First of course, is the unexpected and intriguing introduction to many Social Studies topics where we can use related informational text with much more enthusiasm.

But secondly, imagine the critical reading discussions (and writing opportunities connected to informational text) that will be opened up by noticing the hidden stories that have been in our beloved favorites all these years!  Our students may never look at a children's book in the same way ever again!  Hooray...for CRITICAL READERS! :)

And, if these questionable quotes from his children's books aren't enough to convince you, two books have been compiled using his political cartoons.  Google our dear old friend and see what you find!

Thanks for reading!  I would love to hear other suggestions or interpretations you might have about our old friend!

Now as we say Goodbye to Google Reader, I leave you with one final quote...
"Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened." ~ Dr. Seuss

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Have a great week!

If you are interested in reading about a few more books, click over and visit Reading Towards the Stars and see what some other teacher bloggers have been reading this week. :)

Jun 18, 2013

Reading Strategy Boxes {Tried It Tuesday}

Happy Tuesday!  Have you tried anything new in your classroom lately?  I have found that the last month of school is a perfect time to try out NEW strategies and techniques.  You are gearing up for the coming year and your kids are ready for something new anyway! ;)  Plus, you know your audience and know whether or not you can trust their opinions.;)  They love thinking that they are helping you get things set for the new guys, so they'll want to show off, and you'll get great results.:)  I posted this as a motivational strategy in a previous post. {How Can We Keep Our Students Reading, Writing, and Thinking as the End of the Year Approaches? I've Got a Trick!}

Here's a reading response strategy that I  let my kiddos demo using any book that they would like.  Some used their Book Talk books that they were currently reading. Others chose picture books and started from scratch.  This one was a winner with my little focus group! :)

They all agreed that they enjoyed creating "models" of this response option for my upcoming fifth graders, and I got some fabulous and thoughtful work from them.  They love thinking that they are "modeling" for the new guys and I love that they are showing me what they can really do!  I think this strategy is a winner and have added it to my arsenal for next year. Of course it is probably for later on in the year for you as well, but it never hurts to have some different response options to offer.  You can add it to your collection  too if you like.  Grab it here from my Google Drive or click on the snapshot. :)

What have you tried lately?  Hop over and visit Holly and some other bloggers and see what they have tried for TRIED IT TUESDAY!

With all the talk about GOOGLE READER'S  unwelcomed demise, I want to make sure I don't loose track of my BLOGGING BUDDIES!
If these aren't your favorites, you can find other options in the right sidebar.  These buttons can be also be found in the top right corner at a later time. 

Follow however you like, but let's keep in touch!
Have a great week teacher friends!

Jun 16, 2013

Look to the Stars {Mentor Text Suggestion}

I'm excited to link up with Collaboration Cuties to share a mentor text suggestion today!  I rarely get the opportunity to link up about science books because I don't teach a lot of science. Another reason that I'm excited is because I HAVE PICTURES OF MY CHILDREN WITH BUZZ ALDRIN that I get to show you in my post!

The book that I want to share with you today is LOOK TO THE STARS by BUZZ ALDRIN.  

This book is a wonderful text to introduce SPACE EXPLORATION but it has much more to offer than you might originally expect.    The structure of the text allows it to be a wonderful resource book for the history of FLIGHT, the SPACE RACE, and of course, the history of SPACE EXPLORATION itself.

A closer look at LOOK TO THE STARS offers motivational quotes along the bottom of each page from prominent names in flight and space history.

"Research is creating new knowledge." ~Neil Armstrong (Look to the Stars page 13)

And if science and social studies content, along with motivational quotes from history aren't enough to convince you that you need this book, then you simply need to look at the illustrations!  The reading teacher in me loves how this book draws you in with the vivid colors but it easily holds your attention because of how well the information is organized and presented.

A MUST READ FOR KIDS AND ADULTS interested in new knowledge! :)

Now, for my personal connection to this book! :)

In 2009, my family and I just happened to be vacationing near the Kennedy Space Center when I found out that Buzz Aldrin would be there to celebrate the 40th Anniversary of the APOLLO 11 MISSION.  Long story short, many long lines later, we were able to see a shuttle launch and were able to get Mr. Aldrin's autograph.  While being fed through the autograph line, you know how that is, my boys were able to shake his hand briefly and I was able to snap pictures from behind.  A sweet lady that was in line just in front of my youngest son, turned around quickly and grabbed some pictures from her angle.  She waited for me outside, asked for my email address, and shared her pictures with me so that I could have both angles of my boys with BUZZ ALDRIN!  Here's a few of our scrapbook pages from our SPACE WEEKEND! :)

Click over and visit Collaboration Cuties to see some fabulous SCIENCE MENTOR TEXTS that are being celebrated today!
 Thanks for reading.  :)

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