Sunday, October 20, 2013

It's Been A While...

Yikes, time certainly flies by when you are busy with the beginning of the year.  I made up for all the lost time this weekend with three, yep three, new products.  I finally finished two products that I had started and made a new math game to practice missing number in multiplication sentences.

ARRGH!! Multiplication and Division Fact Game is similar to the game crash.  The cards can be used for multiple games and purposes (flashcards, concentration).
HOW TO PLAY: (2 or more players, best with 4-6)
Laminate the cards, cut out, and place in a can or basket. I use a clean coffee can.  Students sit in a circle.  Without looking in the can )or basket), player one pulls 1 card out. He/she must say the fact with the product within 5 seconds. He/She must say the complete equation (2 x 4 =8). If he/she is correct, he/she holds onto the card. If he/she is unable to say the correct equation, the card goes back into the can. The can is passed to the next player.
If a player pulls an ARRGH! Card, he/she must put ALL his/her cards back into the can and his/her turn is over. (I tell the students they must say ARRGH! like a pirate would. The player with the most cards at the end is the “winner.”

It is organized in the order my district has us teach the facts. The order is 2, 10, 5, 0, 1, 3, 4, 8, 6, 9, 7. It is color-coded by the quarter we teach it in. Both division facts are included. eg., 10/2 and 10/5.

Want it?  Get it at my TPT or TN store!

I also finally finished CCSS RI1-RI0 Key Ideas and Details Mustache Questions.  It includes 60 questions for Informational Text based on Common Core State Standards!
24 question cards for RI1, RI2, and RI3; 20 question cards for RI4, RI5, and RI6; 16 question cards for RI7, RI8, and RI9

My kiddos love all things with mustaches on them so this is quite a hit!  Makes answering text-dependent questions much more interesting. :)

Like 'em?  Get it at my TPT or TN store!

Lastly, I made a math game to practice missing number in multiplication equations. What's Your Number? is  a partner game to practice multiplication facts and missing number. (3.OA.4 and 3.OA.7)
The kiddos always love sticking things to their forehead so why not let them!
Without looking, player 1 picks a card and holds the card up on his/her forehead. Player 2 spins the spinner, multiples the player 1’s number by the number the spinner lands on, and says the product. Player 1 must tell Player 2 what number is on his/her card based on the product and what was spun.  9 spinners with different factors. digit cards color-coded for each board are included as well as black and white versions for those wishing to save ink. :)

Want it?  Get it at my TPT or TN store!

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Writing Workshop

I LOVE teaching Writing Workshop.  A few years ago, I was lucky enough to have a fabulous special ed teacher co-teaching in my room.  I was teaching first grade that year and she mentioned that she wanted to do Writing Workshop in my room.  My reaction was sure, sounds great but I was thinking that it would be hard to do in September with first graders.  Getting them to write complete sentences could be a struggle and she was talking about having them write stories.  And going through the entire writing process.

Thankfully, I was wrong.  It was fabulous.  We started with teaching the kids all about apples for two weeks.  Every read aloud had something to do with apples.  We learned about different varieties, where they grew, the life cycle, etc.  Then we started the writing process.  Since we were able to co-teach we modeled prewriting by making a web of apple facts.  Then the kids had to do a pre-write.  They could write an apple fact book, write about their favorite apple foods,  or make up a story about something to do with apples.

Next we modeled using the pre-write to write a draft.  It worked really well since one of us could write and one could do the think aloud, talking about what the other was doing.  We went through the whole process, including conferencing, revising, and editing, each time having the kiddos work on their own story.
Our Writing Process: Pre-writing, drafting, conference with the teacher (discuss revising only), revise, quick conference with teacher (editing), edit, peer edit, proofread (with teacher), publish, share.

After the apple story, we allowed the kiddos to write about whatever topics they wanted.  By December, the kids would complain on days Writing Workshop wasn't on the schedule.  It was wonderful to have a class full of first graders who loved to write.

Every year since, I have done writing workshop.  It hasn't always been easy since I have not had co-teachers each year, but I have had some wonderful parent volunteers who I have "trained".  I make sure no adult is changing the kiddos work.  We simply ask guiding questions and try to give them ideas to make the writing piece better.  We do not fix spelling, the kids use the dictionary.  It's amazing to see.

I usually do a mini-lesson every two weeks based on what I see in the kids work.  I usually do "sparkle" words early on to help them add descriptive words.  Other mini-lessons include stretching sentences, combining sentences, topic sentences, concluding sentences, sentence order, sentence fluency, and peer editing.

We also make sure to share our writing.  The books do not go home.  We have a special bin in the class so we can read each others' books.  Every couple of weeks we have sharing time.  2-3 kids get to sit in the rocking chair and read their books.  Then they get to call on 4 students for compliments.  Then a few kids can share ideas on what they could work on (in positive ways).  Usually it is ideas for another book or other details that could have been added.

I updated all of the papers I use and it's available at my TpT store!  I also have a conference form that I copy back to back with the rubric so when I conference with each student we can look at the rubric to see what can be added. However, that is not in the pack. (Someone else created it).

What is included:

  • 5 different pre-write papers 
  • 2 versions of draft paper
    • I have the students skip lines when they are revising they have space to write more details above what already is written. (nothing can be erased)
    • one version has pencils on every other line
    • the other has blank spaces between the handwriting lines for revisions
  • Rubric for grading; 9 expectations are on the rubric 
  • Variety of final copy paper (some have different size lines and placement of illustration box)
  • About the Author Page
  • Title Page
I cut manila file folders in half to use as book covers.

If you have any questions, please ask!  also, if you do Writing Workshop, I'd love to hear how it works in your classroom.


Sunday, August 25, 2013

Bucket Fillers

Yikes, it's been a loonng time since I posted anything.  I was busy with some summer jobs and didn't get all that I wanted to do done this summer.  Isn't that always the case?  Summer is never long enough.

So the kiddos first day is tomorrow.  I'm as ready as I can be and this year is a group of kids I taught as first graders, so it will be nice to see how much they have changed and get to teach some of the kids I don't know very well.

The first week, I spend a lot of time building the classroom community and setting the tone for the year.  I love reading, Have You Filled a Bucket Today? by Carol McCloud.  It is a great story about how everyone has an invisible bucket and how our actions can fill someone's bucket or take away from someone's bucket.  I just made a follow-up  for it.  Students will draw and label three ways to fill someone else's bucket and three ways someone can fill their bucket.  Hope you can use it!   You can grab it (for FREE) at my TpT store!

Sunday, July 28, 2013

New Product :) and Going to the Ocean!

I have been super busy doing curriculum writing this summer.  I had such high hopes of making tons of products and decorations for my room and it just hasn't happened yet.  Not that summer is over, but the start of the new year is creeping closer and closer.

Tomorrow I am heading to the ocean for a few days.  It's my first Monday not having to set an alarm since July 1st.  I am soooo excited!  I can't wait to sit in the sand, reading a book and listening to the sounds of the waves crashing.

Onto my latest product....ARRGHH! An Addition and Subtraction Fact Game.  I had a request for it after someone saw my ARRGHH! Multiply and Dividing by 2, 5, 10 and 1 game on my TPT store.  It is very cute!   I printed it out to make for the beginning of the year since my third graders will still need to practice.  It is organized the way my county suggests teaching the facts.
Each set is color-coded.

  •  +/-0, +/-1 together, 
  • +/-2, 
  • +/-10
  • doubles
  • make ten
  • near doubles
  • 10 and some more (+/-9 & +/-8)
  • helping facts (all the rest)

Hope you can use it!  It is available at my TpT and TN stores.  The complete set of facts for multiplication and division should be finished this week.  

Hope you are have a wonderful summer!

Friday, July 19, 2013

It's hot....

Wow, it's been hot and humid here.  It's 93 but feels like 100.  Based on the Today Show, it sounds like it's probably hot where you are too.  When it's this hot, I get lazy.  Good days to catch up on reading and tv. So I haven't being keeping up with all the things I want to make before I head back to work next month.  That is creeping up wayyy to quickly!

Anyways, here is my latest product.  And it's free!  My team will be piloting NGSS units this school year.  For one of the units, the students need to plan and conduct an investigation.  So I created some posters to help them remember all the things they need to consider.  I have materials and data collection on the same page because I think they need to consider what they will observe and what the variables at the same step.  I plan on breaking it into 4 steps:  ask a question and make a hypothesis, materials and data collection, write the procedure, and finally, results and conclusion.   Check it out at my TpT store or TN store!

Hope you are staying cool!

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Liebster Award Nomination

I am soo excited that Sara of Dare to Be Different- Teach nominated me for a Liebster Award!  So much fun!

To accept the nomination there are a few things I have to do:
1.  Link back to the blog that nominated me
2.  Nominate 5-11 blogs with fewer than 200 followers
3. Answer the questions posted by my nominator
4.  Share 11 random facts about myself
5.  Create 11 questions for my nominees
6.  Contact my nominees to let them know I nominated them

I am choosing to nominate the following blogs that I have recently started following:

Mrs. Johnson's Little Prowlers
Down the Hall in Third
Thinking in Third
Life, Love, Literacy
Write in the Middle
Third Grade And Lovin It

Questions I was asked:
1.  What is your favorite subject to teach?
Reading!  I love teaching math but reading my favorite!  I love when it clicks and you can see the excitement and love of reading.  The book talks and conversations are so much fun and I feel that is when I get to know my kids the most.  And you can integrate so many things into reading.

2.  Do you collect anything & what?
I don't collect anything on purpose but a few years ago when I had an intern (students teacher), we realized that I have a ridiculous amount of scissors.  Like over 5 pairs.  And I have no idea where/how I got them.

3.  Do/Have you played am instrument?
I played the clarinet in middle school.  I wasn't very good.

4.  What is the last book you read?
It's sad how long it took me to think about this.  Last year I started a lot of books that I didn't finish because they didn't "hook" me.  The last book I finished reading was Another Piece of My Heart by Jane Green.   I'm about to start Gone Girl,  I've heard it is a great book.

5.  What is your favorite genre of music?
Top 40/Pop.  Love Dave Matthews Band, Maroon 5, Coldplay, Justin Timberlake.  Current favorite song is Blurred Lines.  I love music that makes me want to sing and/or dance.

6.  Why did you become a teacher?
In high school I got an after school job working at a daycare center.  I enjoyed it and decided I wanted to be a teacher.  My grandmother was a teacher and principal. :)

7.  What do you think about year-round school?
Mixed feelings.  I can see pros and cons.  I usually work over the summer to keep somewhat busy and to earn a little extra.  It 's also much easier to take classes over the summer than during the school year when we are already so busy.  And I love having a summer.  But I do wonder if it would be better to do year-round since so many kids don't read, write, and practice math over the summer.

8.  Do you consider yourself organized?
Yes and No.  I am very organized when it comes to planning and doing work.  My files and desk are a mess.  And it drives me crazy but I never have them time to go through them and organize.  It would take weeks.

9.  Are you a sweet or salty snacker?
Salty.  I like a crunch when I snack.

10.  What is your favorite season of the year?
Fall.  MD can be so hot & humid that I love when the humidity is gone and there is a chill in the air.  The newness of the school year.   I love the smells, crunching leaves, pumpkin spice lattes, apple picking.  And the excitement for the Holidays.  And I like my fall/winter clothes better.   Spring is a close second since it starts warming up after the cold of winter and it means the end of the school year is nearing.

11.  What is your favorite candle scent?
Yankee-Candle Gingerbread.

Random Facts All about ME!

  • I want to live in Hawaii or Ireland.
  • I rescued a dog who is afraid of most people, has horrible allergies and just started prozac.  He is truly a mess but I love him.
  • I am a gluten-free pesctarian...a "vegetarian" who eats seafood.
  • I have not taught the same thing for more than 3 years in a row.  I like to change things up, helps me grow as a teacher.
  • I love Thanksgiving because it means Black Friday Shopping!  I could care less about the food.
  • I don't read as much as I should.  I used to read all the time and now I hardly ever pick up a book during the school year.
  • I am the only one in my family who was not born in the MD/DC area.
  • I would love to spend summers at the beach.
  • I am a huge Ravens fan.  The superbowl was a big deal in my classroom this year. :) 
  • I ran the Baltimore Half-Marathon twice.  I do not particularly like running but I did it.
  • I watch way too many reality shows...after a long day, I like watching shows that you don't need to focus too much.

Now my questions for my nominees:

  1.  What is the best thing about being a teacher?
  2. If you could choose to any two consecutive months as "summer" break, which months would you choose?
  3. What is your favorite vacation spot?
  4. What is your favorite beverage?
  5. What was the last song you listened to?
  6. What is your favorite tv show?
  7. Mac or PC?
  8. If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you live?
  9. What is your favorite meal to eat?
  10. What is your favorite grade to teach?
  11. What are you reading this summer?

Sunday, July 7, 2013

3 Teacher Chicks Bloglovin' Giveaway (and freebie!!!)

Want a chance to win an awesome giveaway from 3 Teacher Chicks?
You can win a $10 Target gift card and any product from Amy's story.  Trust me, her products/units are fantastic! I bought her Multiplication Boot Camp and the kids loved the games!  They were so engaged and loved the boot camp theme.  I didn't have time to do the drills and have the kids practice how she did, but I am using those this year.

Here's her pic of her units so you can see some of your options. Click the link below to go to 3 Teacher Chicks' to read how to enter!  And you can download a great freebie too!  :)

~Colleen ❤

"Mustache" Questions

I have a love hate relationship with my newest product, "Mustache" Questions: Reading Literature Key Ideas and Details.  I love it because I'm excited to use it next year and it has mustaches, which my kids found hysterical last year.  I hate it because I have changed it multiple times and ending up putting two versions together because I couldn't decide how I wanted it.  And I still want to make it for Craft and Structure and Integration of Knowledge.

For those of you not familiar with the ELA CCSS, the Standards for Reading are broken into 3 clusters:

  • Key Ideas and Details (RL1, RL2, RL3)
  • Craft & Structure (RL4, RL5, RL6)
  • Integration of Knowledge (RL7, RL8, RL9)
*RL10 (Range of Reading and Level of Text Complexity) is part of all the clusters.

Soooo, my goal was to make a product to add some fun to text dependent questions.  Being new to third last year and it being the first year 3rd taught the CC Reading Standards, I did not have "fun" ways to teach answering the deeper level questions.  The kiddos were kinda scared of them.  I think so many had heard about BCRs and MSA that they immediately thought the questions were too hard.  I wanted to make them easier and not so scary.

I started with teaching about evidence and finding evidence in the text.  We used small  magnifying glasses when we "hunted" for clues and evidence in the text.  We also played with legos and talked about how the evidence has to connect to the question and explain our answer.  We did most of this in small groups and I modeled how to write the answers.  Then I had the kids begin to write.  Our first goal was to answer the question correctly and tell orally me the evidence/text support.  Once they were doing pretty well, I had them begin to write the support in their answers.

Much of it became all the vocabulary to make sure the kids knew what the questions were asking and what was expected (meaning: when to include details from the text). We learned there are two types of questions.
1.  skinny/thin questions that ask what, who, when, and where questions.
2.  fat/thick question are two-part questions, ask how or why, ask for evidence/details, or ask you to explain or support your answer.
I did not always add the statement telling them to support your answer with details from the text because I noticed they only did it if that was part of the question.  They need to learn to just do it.

All year I wanted to make cards of questions.  There are so many different ways to word questions and unfortunately that alone could trick some of my kiddos.  So first I thought it would be fun to put all the questions on mini-mustaches, glue them to sticks or straws and have them in a cup in group.  I was thinking that whoever was helping to answer the question would get to hold the mustache and "wear it" as they share.  Once we learn how to answer each question, I  would put it in the reader's response corner that I'm planning for this year.  That way the students could answer those questions about their independent reading. But as I made it, I changed my mind.  I wanted the questions on cards that I could easily file them but still have them handy for reading.  But then I'd lose the question on the mustache.  Well, I made both.  Not sure exactly  how I'll use this.  I think I'll teach the questions using both but then put the mustaches in the reading response area and keep the cards for reading group and whole group lessons.

Here it is...."Mustache Questions": 3rd Grade Common Core State Standards, Key Ideas and Details.
It has 30 questions in all, 5 are RL1 and/or general reader response questions, 13 questions for RL2, 12 questions for RL3 and blank pages to write more.  It also has 3 pages of the questions on mustaches that can be cut out, laminated, and glued to craft sticks or straws.

click here to get it at my new TN Store or  my TpT store

I'd love to hear ideas on how you could use these in your classroom and how you teach deep-thinking comprehension questions.
~Colleen  ❤ 

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Pirate Math Games

Ahoy Mateys! I'm in the middle of making some pirate themed math games.  The kids love pirates and they're allowed to talk like a pirate whilst they play this game.

When I taught first grade I would play sight words CRASH with my students. We'd start with the first 25 words, printed on cardstock and placed in a big, clean coffee can.  Also in the can were  a few "CRASH" cards.  We would sit in a circle or around the table and one at a time, each student would pick a card out of the can.  He/she would have 3-5 seconds to read the card.  If he/she read the word correctly, the card was his/hers to hold onto; if he/she was unable to read the word, it went back into the can.  If a student pulled a "CRASH" card, all his/her cards went back into the can and his/her turn was over. The kids loved the game and other reading groups always wanted to play when they saw another group playing.

Well, in thinking about ways to spice up games for 3.OA.7 (Fluently multiply and divide within 100), I thought of CRASH.  But cars were not appealing as a theme for a cute new game.  And then the lightbulb turned on.....ARRGH!  I didn't have time to make nice ARRGH cards last year, I quickly printed fact cards, wrote ARRGH on blank cards, and put them in my trusty CRASH coffee can.   I started with 2. 5, and 10 since those are easier strategies if the kiddos can skip-count.  Then I added 1 and 0. (I was surprised that a handful of kids struggled with the concept of x1 and x0)

How to Play ARRGH!:
At least 2 kids need to play.  It's best with 4-6 but it depends on how many cards you put in the can.  I started with 2, 5, and 10.  Then I added 1 and 0.  
Players sit in a circle. Without looking in the can (or basket), one student pulls 1 card out.  He/she must say the fact with the product within 5 seconds. I have them say the complete equation (2 x5 = 10.) If he/she is correct, he/she holds onto the card. If he/she is unable to give the correct equation, the card goes back into the can.
The can is passed to the next person. If a player pulls the ARRGH! card, he/she must put ALL his/her cards back into the can and his/her turn is over. (I tell the students they must say ARRGH! like a pirate).
The player with the most cards at the end is the “winner”.

My first new product is  ARRGH!! Multiplying & Dividing by 2, 5, 10 and 1 (CCSS 3.OA.7).  I am in the process of making 0, 3, 9, 6, 4, 8, 7, but I am so excited about how cute it turned out that I had to post it!

And I posted a freebie: ARRGH!! Multiplying & Dividing by 2.  You can grab it here!

Enjoy!  I <3 comments and feedback!
~Colleen ❤

Loving Bloglovin'

I  used Google Reader for years. I loved that I could log into one place and see new posts from blogs and other websites I followed.  Once I started following so many teacher/education blogs, it was so nice to be able to go to one place to see all the new posts.

But one day I logged in and saw the dreadful news.....Google Reader was going away on July 1st.  Oh no!  What is a blog-addicted teacher to do?!?!  How would I follow all my blogs?  I would miss so many great teaching and organizing ideas.   I was so sad :(  It would take FOREVER to check each and every blog. I follow over 200 blogs! (I know that is a lot, I need to go through and see which ones are no longer kept up or have moved.).  I started bookmarking blogs as I visited them so I at least wouldn't lose them but I knew that was not a long-term solution.  I also started a board on pinterest of my favorite blogs but it was taking a lot of time since I often got distracted reading the blogs :) And pinterest didn't tell me when there was a new blog post.

I have no clue where I first saw bloglovin' but sometime in May I clicked a link and I made an account. Upon logging in I saw the wonderful import from google reader option. Yay!! I wouldn't need to hunt down all my favorite blogs!

As soon as I started on bloglovin' I realized it was so much better than google reader!  I was able to follow all the blogs I have liked in blogger and it was quick and easy to import all my google reader feeds.  But the best part is the daily email I get.  I am able to see new posts right in my email!!!  I ended up saying so long, bye, bye to google reader within a week on being on bloglovin'.

Ready to join bloglovin'?  If you want to follow Tales From 3rd Grade click below.  I'm a new to the blogwriting world  but I am posting lots of ideas, new products,  and freebies!

Follow on Bloglovin

Then find more blogs to follow on the Blog Hunt!  Click on the image below!



Sunday, June 30, 2013

Diary of a Pack!

I just posted an updated Diary of a Pack! To read about how I use Diary of a Frog, check out my Frog Life Cycle post.
The pack includes:
  • Diary of a Frog
  • Diary of a Chick
  • Diary of a Butterfly (3, each with a different graphic)
  • Diary of a Ladybug (2, each with a different graphics)
  • Diary of a Hamster (included because someone asked for it :))
  • Diary of a _________
And for Narrative Writing:
  • Diary of a 1st Grader
  • Diary of a 2nd Grader
  • Diary of a 3rd Grader
  • Diary of a 4th Grader
  • Diary of a 5th Grader
There are two of each.  I made them with different lines for the older students who may not need handwriting lines.  

 I'm off to watch two guilty pleasures..
The Real Housewives of New Jersey and Big Brother. Happy Sunday!
~Colleen ❤

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Pre-Reading Scavenger Hunt

After Spring Break I did novels with my third graders.  It was my first time doing novels, and the kiddos loved it.   I gave them a few choices of novels to give the kids a chance to work with different kids. Since I had a wide range of readers (F&P levels L-T), I had to make sure some didn't pick a novel that was too hard or too easy.  My L-N readers who doing LLI so they didn't get to do the novels, but we did read a Cam Jansen chapter book.  I allowed my two higher groups to pick from the same three novels: The Get-Rich Quick Club, Frindle, and Granny Torelli Makes Soup.
I loved seeing some readers working with a higher-level text and  doing a great job with them.  It was a great way to enrich.
Each student time to look at the novels and do a scavenger hunt to decide which book he/she wanted to read.  So they would  pay attention, I made a scavenger hunt for them to complete.  They hunted through all the books but I had them only fill out the paper on the book they chose.  It also helped my know who picked which book.  Some looked at the cover and immediately knew which book he/she wanted to read but I did have them at least read the blurb on the back before deciding.  It gave they students a chance to really browse the books and take time to decide.  And because of the way I called them to group that day (not by reading group), not many of them picked a book just because their friends were reading it.  :)

They had to draw the cover firat and then find: the title, author, illustrator (if there is one), blurb on back, other books by author, dedication, copyright date, # of chapters, and chapter titles.  They also had to tell if they thought the book would be interesting based ont he blurb on the back and make a  detailed prediction
Next year I'm going to modify how I did novels and Literature Circles but I definitely will use the scavenger hunt to for the kids to pick.

Hope you can use this! 

Team Gifts: M&M Rx

As a team leader, I like to do something special at the beginning of the year for my team.  My very first year as team leader I found an idea on online for a M&M Prescription (no idea where, I wish I could give credit).

I went to CVS, told them I was a teacher, asked if I could have 8 prescription bottles, and the VERY nice staff gave me them!  (I know someone who was able to get some from Walmart)

I filled each prescription bottle that folks at CVS gave me with M&Ms.  I typed the following directions and taped it as the label for the bottle.  I've seen the directions glued to construction paper and tied to the bottle with a ribbon.  (You could also type them on a large label and stick it to the bottle.)

My team loved getting a little something on the first day back to work and in December, some of them still had a few M&Ms left!

Last year I moved to third grade as team leader and wished I had started off the year with something but didn't get around to ever making anything.  This year I will be in third again, but other than our para-educator, I will have all new people on my team so I'm on the lookout for fun, inexpensive, gifts to make it start this year off.  Do you have anything you give to your teammates or that you have been given that you LOVED?  Please share!!

~Colleen ❤

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Tackle It Tuesday: CCSS Math Relating Multiplication and Division

I just posted a new product on my TpT store.  My kiddos really needed help relating multiplication and division.  They could tell me how they are related; but they weren't  able to apply it to knowing facts and learning the division facts.  I loved triangle flashcards for helping them with this skill so I made some!  (bright and striped, the colors always makes the kids more interested)

I included greyscale version of the triangle flashcards as well.  I'm in the middle of making a few games to play using the cards.  Look for those to be posted in the next few weeks :)

~Colleen ❤

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

How-to Writing

One of the writing units we did this year was procedural writing.  I kept it simple and had the kids writing How-to "books."  We discussed what helps readers understand how-to books and one of the recurring ideas was illustrations/pictures so students had to include a picture of each step, with labels or captions.

A cute,  funny story to read to the kids is How to Babysit a Grandpa by Jean Reagan.  While it isn't a nonfiction "how-to,"  it tells how to hide and be quiet when grandpa rings the doorbell,  how to eat snack with a grandpa, and how to play with a grandpa.

We started with a how-to wash your hands as a shared writing.  In the past I've always read Germs Make Me Sick by by Melvin Berger and then the kids wrote How to Keep Germs Away or How to Stay Healthy. It isn't a true how-to but it is a good practice one.  Most of the kids wrote a list of all things to do to Keep Germs away.  When I did it with first grade I got a lot of what I told them all the time:  cough and sneeze into you elbow; wash your hands with soap and water; blow and throw instead of keeping a tissue on your desk or in your pencil box; don't chew on your hair, nails, fingers, clothes, pencils, etc.  Occasionally I'd get something random like don't chew gum you pulled off your shoe.  (eww! Really?)   I'd pull out a big box of scraps and have them make a germ to glue as a topper to their paragraph/how-to.   This year I didn't have time for this part :(

We were in the middle of a Trash to Treasure project, which required the kids to use three or more recyclable materials to create a new "treasure" that had a purpose.  To tie it all together the kids had to then write a how-to make whatever treasure they made.  It turned out fabulous!  The kids were very creative.  Some of the treasures: robots, airplanes, organizers, jewelry boxes, masks, planters, bird feeders, and even a track for a ball toss game!

Here is the final copy paper and rubric I used.  I also included some variations if you don't need/want it  to be a numbered list.
topics/ideas to have the kids write:

  • how to wash your hands
  • how to stay healthy
  • how to be (mostly) germ-free
  • how to survive _____ grade
  • how to keep Earth clean/healthy(green school idea: recycle, reuse, etc.)
  • how to grow a plant

The ideas are countless!  Please post any ideas you have !  Hopefully I can post pictures of the treasure the kids created once I can get into school. (It's being tiled so it's a construction site right now) :)

I'd love to hear feedback on how you use it!
~ Colleen ❤

Summer! Time to Make Stuff

Summer vacation started this week and I am so happy.  I loved my first year in third grade and I will miss my class but I am  ready to lounge at the pool, workout, and make some things for my classroom!  I'm also writing curriculum this year so I'll be making lots of math resources and some science resources.
First on my list was a plan book.  I had a co-worker who used an excel plan book and I thought I'd give it a try next year.  I like that it's one less thing to be carrying home and that I can link to documents, websites, and products I've bought on TpT instead of having to write it all done.
This morning I created a planbook and I've already went through it for next year and marked off all the days off and our special days like field trips, STEM days,  and celebrations.    But before I did that I made a general one that is editable and for sale at my TpT store.  And if you aren't comfortable editing it, I can edit it. :)  Click here to see it at my store. 

If you aren't on break yet, enjoy the rest of the school year.  If you are....have a GREAT summer!! 
~Colleen =>

Sunday, May 5, 2013

CCSS: Opinion Writing: Squish the Ant?

My students still need to work on opinion writing.  They get the idea that you write your opinion but some still struggle with writing enough details that support your opinion.  There are only some many times I can read an article or book  with them, discuss it, and have them write about their opinion. Luckily, I was looking for fun read alouds in my classroom and found my copy of Hey, Little Ant, which reminded me of an idea I saw on pinterest from Peace, Love, and Kindergarten.

Hey, Little Ant by Phillip M. Hoose is a wonderful picture book. A boy is about to step on
an ant when the ant starts talking to him to try to convince him not to squish him.  The book ends asking if you think the boy will squish the ant and we never know if the boy does.
After listening to it, we talked about whether we thought the boy did and if he should.  We made a list of reasons to and not to squish the ant.  Then they had to write an paragraph stating
their opinion: should the boy squish the ant? They needed to state their opinion in the first
sentence, include 3 or more reasons that support their opinion, and then restate their
opinion in the closing sentence.  Most of my students wrote that the boy should not squish the ant but I did tell them that it is their opinion, so it can’t be wrong as long as they can support it.  And since they love crafty stuff, I cut paper and made a sample with a head and glasses as a topper (idea from Peace, Love, and Kindergarten).  Not surprisingly, my kids came up with other ideas (I love that they have such great ideas and are willing to ask if they can do something a bit differently.=>)  Some made a giant shoe about to squish the paper and a few others made a giant ant.  I'll post pictures once they are finished.  I made two writing papers.  If you don't want to make the paragraph topper, there is one with a box for an illustration.  I also made a rubric for easy grading.  Students want to get as close to a 4.0 as possible.  I've used rubrics like this all year so the kids know that they want as many 4s as possible. :)

                                                Click here to grab it for free from my TpT store. 

Enjoy and I'll love to hear feedback if you use it!  Happy Teacher Appreciation Week!
~Colleen =>