July 18, 2014

Anyone Interested?

I recently received this book in the mail
I read the introduction and fell in love! The author shares how he used his dad's forward thinking about solving problems and the concerns of his colleagues to help him change how he graded and assessed in his classroom. He briefly discusses his process and its effect on his students. 

I would love to host a book study for this book! If you are interested in hosting a chapter or two, please click HERE to fill out the survey :)

July 16, 2014

Departmentalizing Advice Needed :)

     Currently, my assignment for next year is to teach 4th grade English Language Arts (reading, writing, and word study). I'm still an ICT room, meaning my homeroom will have me (as the general education teacher) and my co-teacher (as the special ed. teacher). After an allotted time, my co-teacher will go with our homeroom class to the math teacher and I'll get another set of kids from the math teacher. (I'm not sure the make-up of the other class--it's either ELLs {english language learners}or the general ed.)

I'm not sure how I feel about this...I honestly go back and forth about the pros and cons.

I enjoy teaching reading and writing and the actual preparation of the lessons (materials,charts, plan book) seems streamlined. Reflections of the lessons can be immediately adapted for the next group and I can become an expert in one field instead of trying to become an expert in everything.

On the other hand, as one of the ELA teachers, there is substantially more work to be done than the math teachers. From a planning perspective, we are writing our first unit (reading, writing, and word study) from scratch using a mentor text. Once we're done teaching that first unit, we're getting a new program {Core Knowledge}. Unpacking that is going to be interesting! And grading is a whole other story!

I'm curious about how departmentalizing looks in other schools--
     **What does your schedule look like? Do you use a rotation schedule?
     **How do you fit it all in (especially since there really isn't any carry over time)?
     **How do you manage all the grading?
     **What does your homework look like? Do you give daily or weekly homework? How do you check it?
     **How do you fit in stations or center time?

 I really appreciate any advice :) Thanks in advance!

June 4, 2014

Book Study...Chapter 4


I'm linking up with Beth at Thinking of Teaching to talk about Reading Responses. 

Here's a quick low-down on the chapter...
       Reading Responses can add an element of accountability, especially after guided reading. The students can respond to the guided reading text. 

       The biggest challenge is assessing during independent reading. We are able to observe students' reading behaviors, but accessing and assessing student thinking is not easily seen. There are many reading response tasks that students can use to show us their thinking.

      Lisa has found that using different tools, prompts, and response modes are the most effective in showing student thinking. By varying these modes of responses, the students stay engaged and by allowing student choice, the students are given a variety of ways to share their thinking.

     The goal is to have students practice a new strategy that was taught, consolidate their learning, and apply the skills on their own. This is the gradual release of responsibility. (During my second year of teaching, my literacy coach was teaching the staff about the gradual release of responsibility during reader's workshop, which was also the around the time when I first learned about balanced literacy. The whole staff was learning about balanced literacy--we were slowly getting rid of the basals and adding authentic literature into our classrooms. My coach described the gradual release of responsibility as teaching the children to ride a bike--at first while you are teaching, you are holding onto the bike as they get used to pedaling. As you move into the active engagement, you are coaching them as they become more confident on the bike, but you are still holding the seat. During independent work, the students are trying their new skills on their own--they are actually riding the bike themselves!)

    Before students can independently work on these tasks, Lisa recommends modeling the reading response task using a few simple steps--share the task with the students and read aloud the text. Think aloud as you're reading keeping the task in mind. On chart paper or under the document camera, fill out the task template (in the book, on pages 61-68, there are task cards for word skills, visualizing, determining importance, questioning, connecting, inferences, synthesizing, and HOT. There are four per page!)

     Lisa suggests having a pocket where each pocket is labeled with a skill. Students are able to select the tasks that they need additional practice with or skills to help them meet their goals. (Hello Highly Effective according to the Danielson Rubric! Sorry...I couldn't resist :)
**the idea that students don't have to respond to everything they read--the key is flexibility 

**allowing students choice within the tasks, as well as with the selection of the tasks

**I want to try a variety of mediums for responding. I love the idea of a reading response notebook--there is just something about words on a page that I can't get over. Lisa mentioned incorporating a response journal in a digital format, which made me think about how I can incorporate Google Docs or a classroom blog.

**I love the idea of students selecting the tasks and incorporating the response after guided reading. It's a great way to continue their learning and an easy way for me to keep track of their responses since I already know the text they read in guided reading.

**Once the students create their responses, I'm going to grade them using my state's testing rubric. Using the results of the rubric and my observations, I can analyze the trends in the class and pull strategy groups to help further their response writing. This can be one of my two groups.

You can check out Chapter 3 Reading Around the Literacy Block with Kelly from An Apple for the Teacher

Check out Chapter 5 Writing Around the Literacy Block with Melissa from Dilly Dabbles on June 9th.

April 1, 2014


I know...I know...it's been forever since I last blogged!

 I have a good excuse though...
my sweet little boy was born on February 14th at 9:22 pm! 

Since then I've been on maternity leaving juggling twin 3 year olds and a newborn. Needless to say, life has been busy!

I'm hoping to get myself on some sort of schedule and start blogging more frequently...until then, here's my currently for April! (baby steps haha!)

January 3, 2014

Snow Day Fun Freebie

I have to tell you...I am loving that today is a snow day! Just the fact that I didn't have to travel in the blizzard like conditions this morning made me so happy! Sleeping in was a nice perk too :)

On a side note...my co-teacher and I have been navigating through two new curriculums...EngageNY for math and ReadyGen for reading. I don't mind EngageNY so much...the lessons are long and difficult, but doable with a lot of scaffolded support. I won't even talk about ReadyGen in this post...that will be for another day!

One thing about EngageNY is that it is very verbose...especially the word problems that they have the students practice. It is tough to get the students to see that there's more than one part to each problem...for some reason they just stop reading!

Teaching this program is very dry...the structure is bland, it's not differentiated, and there's nothing to keep the kids engaged...well...unless I do cartwheels and stand on my head! ;) haha

To add a little...(dare I say it...FUN!)... I created this project for my class...
There are 5 multi-step word problems focusing on place value, rounding numbers in thousands period (to the nearest thousand and ten thousand), and adding multi-digit whole numbers.

These are the low problems:


 There are also pages with lines for the students to explain their thinking in words.

I've uploaded this pack as a FREEBIE in my TpT Store and my Teachers Notebook Store!

I hope you enjoy!


December 31, 2013

Happy New Year and a sale :)

I can't believe 2013 is already ending...

          to celebrate I'm throwing a sale at Teachers pay Teachers and Teachers Notebook!

Everything is 20% from today December 31st through January 2nd.

Here's to a happy, healthy, and prosperous 2014 :)

December 24, 2013

Blogging Hiatus...

I honestly can't believe that my last post was from summer vacation! Here we are quickly approaching the holiday season...I promise I have a very good reason for not blogging as often as I would like...


hubby and I are expecting #3 :) It is a very exciting time in our house...getting ready for another little boy (due in February), potty training two 3 year-olds, and preparing for Christmas! Busy, busy, busy!

And to make this time of year even more exciting...
Wow! Over 500 followers :) I am so humbled by each and every one of you and as a thank you for sticking with me and this lil ole blog...I'm going to have a giveaway! (Expect to see it once the holidays are over :)

I do need a little bit of help...as one of the prizes I want to offer a gift card...let me know out of my three favorites which one is most appealing to you...
        **Erin Condren
        **Teacher Pay Teachers

Leave me a comment letting me know which gift card you'd like the best :)

Merry Christmas from my family to yours :)

July 24, 2013

The Best Pencil Sharpener Ever...Product Review

I've purchased many electrical pencil sharpeners with the hopes of them lasting the entire year. And each year I'm continuously disappointed. The electric sharpeners are noisy and distracting and are easily over-heated leaving many students without their much needed sharpened pencils. Not to mention, when the motor dies, so does the pencil sharpener.

When I heard about this pencil sharpener from Classroom Friendly Supplies, I knew I had to try it! The owner, Troy Decoff, whom is also a classroom teacher, sent one out within days!

When I brought this new pencil sharpener into the room, I had to model how to use it since my students had zero idea how such a device worked!

In this case, I sharpened a Smencil (pencils made from recycled newspaper). This sharpener can sharpen colored pencils as well without a problem!

My students love the ease at which they can sharpen their pencils and I love that it is so quiet! There are times where pencil points get stuck in the blade (especially with colored pencils).  This is a simple fix because the sharpener is very easy to open allowing you to remove the blade. (There are Photos and How To Videos on their website to help you!) 

I also love that the blade is replaceable! You can buy replacement blades at the site--that way you don't have to buy another whole sharpener!

To end this review, I thought it might be nice to hear from the ones who use the sharpeners the most...
"These pencil sharpeners are amazing. They're very quiet unlike electric sharpeners and they stop so you know the pencil is done and when the pencil is very sharp and this sharpener doesn't use plugs so you can save electricity. They have big containers and they won't cause a fire."

"I think the sharpeners are awesome. When I sharpen my pencil it doesn't take it 1 million times. It only takes 1 time to make it sharp. There is also really quiet which makes it really good when you're taking a test." ~~~~~~~~~~~"The sharpener is easy to sharpen with. It is adjustable to small pencils. It is easy to take the shreds out." 

"I think that the pencil sharpeners are helpful because they make less noise than mechanical sharpeners. Your pencil gets sharpened in 3 turns and the tip is really sharp and if the sharpener is broken, there's a way to fix it. But if it was a different sharpener it will not fix and if it can it will be a lot of work."

What do you look for in a pencil sharpener? I'd love to hear your thoughts :)

July 18, 2013

Word Nerds Chapter 6

I'm linking up with Sabra from Teaching with a Touch of Twang for a book study on Word Nerds!

Teaching with a Touch of Twang

I am absolutely LOVING this book and all the amazing ideas for helping our students appreciate words!!  Check out the link ups for the other chapters if you haven't yet:

I am posting about Chapter Six: Celebrate to Validate today. Chapter six is filled with fun and interactive ways to celebrate the learning of new words!

The celebrations take place at the end of the vocabulary cycle--as a means of honoring learning. The authors warn us that the celebrations look a lot like the vocabulary practice, but there is one big difference. The celebrations show students confidently using their new words as way to review and apply across different contexts.

The best part of these celebrations is that they act as a review before the actual assessment! 

I compiled some of the main ways the authors celebrate--I am so excited to try some of these out in my room! I think the students will have so much fun :)

Click Here to access your own copy :)

How do you review in your room? Is there one type of celebration you really want to try?

July 6, 2013

Summer Planning Giveaway Stop C-6

Thanks for stopping by on the scavenger hunt! Grab my secret word above and be sure to follow my blog with Bloglovin' by clicking Follow my blog with Bloglovin. If you're just starting the Summer Planning Scavenger Hunt, start at I'm Lovin Lit. Here is the item I've donated to the giveaway:

You can use this pack to create a fun and interactive way to help students make real life connections to math.

You might also be interested in my {Owl Themed} Parent/Teacher Conference Pack, which you can purchase in my TpT store for only $5!

 Good luck planning for your school year and thanks for stopping by!