Tuesday, July 29, 2014

A Little Meet Up

One of my favorite events during the summer is the blogger meet-up.  I look forward to seeing my blogging buddies in person and catching up with them.

Graphics by Creative Clips and I'm Lovin' Lit
This year we met at Houlihan's in Hershey, PA, on a perfectly sunny, breezy day.

We shared teaching stories and blogging tips and had a truly wonderful afternoon.  Here are a few pictures of our little patio party.

Meet Andrew from Mr. First Grade and his adorable wife.  
They've spent the summer traveling to England and California.
When they aren't vacationing, they give trolley tours through Hershey.

Meet Catherine from ABC 123 Is 4 Me.  
This was her first time joining us, and I just loved her.  :)
She spent her vacation in Cancun and is heading to Alaska this week.
She traveled the farthest to meet with us, and I am so glad she did.

Meet Angie from Rulin' the Roost.  She brought her two beautiful boys.  
They visited Zoo America and Chocolate world while they were in town.  
Angie has lots of exciting changes happening in her life right now...  
a grade level switch this school year and a NEW BABY on the way!  

Love these bloggers...what a phenomenal day!

I hope you'll stop back and visit us on August 10th for a Back-to-School Blog Hop.  We'll be joining our other PA blogging buddies to share Back-to-School tips and tricks.  We've each prepared a special treat just for you.  :)

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Currently July

It's July?!

I'm joining Farley to share what's happening with me, currently.

Listening:  It's morning.  It's quiet.  And peaceful.

Loving:  I'm loving my morning cup of Cinnabon coffee.  Seriously loving it.  I'm also just tad bit infatuated with my funky new running shoes. 

Thinking:  Our school is growing.  I'm changing rooms next year.  I'm wondering how everything will fit into my teeny tiny new room.  It's time to start unpacking...and purging.

My tiny new classroom.
What's not shown are the piles of boxes waiting to be unpacked.

Wanting:  I'd love a little trip to the beach.  My toes miss the warm sand.  I miss the sunshine and ocean air.

Needing: We are heading to Maryland for a lacrosse tournament.  Our son made the All American team for Pennsylvania.  His team will play Connecticut, New York, Washington DC,  and Minnesota this week. Can't wait to cheer them on, but first I need to pack my bags.

That's our boy...Lucky #7

4th Plans:  Looking forward to a low key family BBQ.

So what are you doing, currently? Hurry on over to link up with Farley and share your Currently.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

That's a Wrap

Ahhh, sweet summer!  We wrapped up our school year much later than usual due to some nasty winter weather.

I'm so pleased with the progress my students made; they worked their tails off and grew by leaps and bounds.

One of the challenges my students face is keeping that momentum going during the summer months. The "Summer Slide" seems to have a greater impact on developing readers.  In an effort to prevent that,  I made sure I sent students off with summer reading material.  I assembled a reading packet for each student based on their individual interests.

First, I printed several Reading A-Z books.  I attached a Post-It note to each book and spread the books out on the tables in my classroom.  As students came into class, they were asked to "place an order" for their summer reading bags.  They chose the books that they were interested in reading by adding their name to the Post-It note.

Then, I submitted copy requests for each book from our district copy center.  The books were copied, stapled, folded, and returned to me in about three days.  I separated the books into piles for each student. Each pile of books was different, since students chose their own books.

Next, I found a simple reading log, offered as a freebie from Ashley Reed, and printed a copy for every student.  Each year I try to create a fun, fresh summer reading incentive program.  Ashley's reading log was perfect for this purpose.

What I loved about Ashley's reading log was that it came with a sweet letter to students and it wasn't complicated or expensive to implement.

What my students loved was that they received stickers to apply to their calendars for each day that they read.

The Goal: Read for 15 minutes to earn one sticker on the calendar.  Use every sticker provided.  (There are 96 stickers which equals 24 hours of summer reading.)

The Incentive:  Students who complete the challenge will get to brainstorm and vote on the prize of their choice.  (I suggested - reading in the park, picnic lunch, pizza party, or VIP seating at an assembly - but ultimately students will choose.)

Finally, I put all the components together.  Viola!  An easy-to-manage summer reading incentive packet kids are sure to love.

How do you encourage summer reading with your students?  Please share your ideas in the comments.  :)

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Teacher Appreciation Blog Hop Giveaway #2

Happy Teacher Appreciation Week!  Let's celebrate with a gift card giveaway.  :)

A few of my closest blogging buddies and I have joined together to share a few of our favorite teaching things...

Do you have a few items that you just can't live without?  Of course, the obvious answer for me would be BOOKS...I'm a reading teacher.  :)  

But aside from books I have a few other teacher must-haves...

Black erase boards, neon wipe-off paddles,
and story map white boards

To keep lessons exciting and fresh, I like to use a variety of dry erase response boards and fun markers that students may not have an opportunity to use in their regular classrooms.  

Super fun sticky notes and Sharpies

I invest in tons of sticky notes.  Students use them to interact with the text they are reading.  The speech bubble stickies are great for inferring what a character might think or feel.  We use the iPhone stickies to 'text' a response about their book.  Sharpies are perfect for recording our thinking on chart paper.

Ahh, teacher love! 

This is my all-time favorite classroom purchase EVER.  It's a Literacy Teacher's Trolley.  I can't tell you how much I love this easel!  The magnetic white board is designed to sit high enough to use at the guided reading table. It has pockets and bins for supplies and large storage tubs for hanging file folders and/or white boards.  Did you notice the wheels?  It travels anywhere you need it.

Wanna know what else I love?  AMAZON!  Today we're giving away an Amazon gift certificate to celebrate you, our readers.  Enter the raffle below.  I have my fingers crossed for you! :)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

What are your teacher must-haves?  Please share your ideas in the comments below.  Then hop on over to visit Deniece.  She has a brand new blog design to show off, and she'll be sharing her teacher must-haves at This Little Piggy Reads.

The HTML for the Linky:

Monday, May 5, 2014

Teacher Appreciation Blog Hop Giveaway #1

It's Teacher Appreciation Week, a time to honor all those hardworking, dedicated teachers in our lives.

A few of my close blogging buddies and I have joined together to share our favorite school memories and celebrate Teacher Appreciation Week with a gift card giveaway.

One of my fondest memories is of my first grade teacher, Sister Barbara.  She was soft-spoken and nurturing.  I loved going to school because of her.

First Grade, St. Joseph's Academy, 1976
What is in my hair?

During our first handwriting lesson, we learned to print letter i.  I was so proud of my paper filled with perfectly formed letters.  

Sister Barbara collected and saved our first handwriting samples.  On the last day of school, she returned them to us.  I was so anxious to get my *perfectly printed* paper back... and super surprised to see that my letters actually looked more like lollipops.  :/

Now it's time to celebrate teachers everywhere.  And what would a teacher love more than a gift card to purchase more teacher-y things? Enter below to win a Teachers Pay Teachers gift card.  I have my fingers crossed for you! :)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Be sure to hop on over to Andrea's blog, where she will share her favorite teacher story.

Stop back on Wednesday to see my favorite teacher tools and enter for a chance to win an Amazon gift card.  

Sunday, April 27, 2014

The New Daily Five: Chapter 4

What do you need to begin the Daily 5?

You may be wondering what items you would need in order to implement The Daily 5 in your classroom.  Chapter 4 lists the "must-haves."

Really Good Stuff

The Quiet Signal

During The Daily 5, there are several opportunities to check-in with your students.  At these check-in points, students will need to meet back at the gathering place.  A familiar signal for quieting students is an important element of The Daily 5.  You may want to choose wind chimes as suggested by Boushey and Moser. A rain stick or a music box may work as well.

The Sisters suggest the "Above-Pause-Whisper" method.  Use an above signal, pause until you have students' attention, and then whisper the directions.  

Chart Rack or Interactive Whiteboard

A chart stand or an interactive white board will be needed in order to create I-Charts.  These anchor charts will be displayed and referred to often, so consider which method will be most effective for you.

Personally, I prefer the physical charts over the digital ones.  I like to be able to direct students to the chart stand and have them read over a chart.  This is a little more difficult if you have to access them from a digital file.  

Tools, Not Toys

You may want to gather some tools (like joke books, I Spy Books, or fun reading manipulatives) to put into a bin to support the children who have difficulty building stamina.  Another great idea is to tape off work space areas so that children can see the boundaries of the area, thus preventing them from wandering around the classroom during an independent work time.  I've used the boundary idea with students and it was very effective. 

Steps to Literacy

Book Boxes

Students need to have access to books for independent reading time. The Sisters suggest that students have their own browsing boxes where they can store "just right" books.  Primary classrooms should have at least 700 titles with a good mix of fiction and non-fiction.

A Gathering Place and Focus Lessons 

You will need to create a space for large group instruction.  In this space, students will meet for mini-lessons and check-ins.  You may want this spot to be located near your interactive white board; you might want to keep your chart stand there as well. This is area is where your class anchor charts will be created.

Meeting in a large group instruction area has advantages: close proximity, fewer distractions, and the opportunity for partner discussions.  

Our principal was sweet enough to purchase carpets for all the primary classrooms.  I love the grouping possibilities they provide.  Students can meet with a partner who is seated in a square beside them or with a partner of an assigned color. Students can also sit on an alphabet letter around the outside edge. 


During the lessons,  I-Charts are created and displayed as a reference for students use access as needed.  A chart stand can be used to store the charts.  Some teachers prefer to use a Smart board and save the charts digitally.  

Classroom Design 

Does your classroom provide comfortable, cozy spots to promote reading?  You may want to consider adding a few bean bag chairs, rocking chairs, or carpeted areas with study pillows.  Some specialty items that teachers have used and students love - a reading tent, claw-foot bath tub, blow up pool, or large tractor tire with pillows inside.

Do you have a special spot where students can cuddle up with their books?  Please share your book nook idea in the comments.  The hop on over to That First Grade Blog for Jen's thoughts on the book.  :)

Thursday, April 24, 2014

A Poet-Tree Post

April is National Poetry Month.  Are you looking for an awesome mentor text to launch your poetry unit or a clever way to display published pieces?

Join me today at Adventures in Literacy Land for a Poet-Tree post.

Adventures in Literacy Land