Monday, December 17, 2012

Mystery Guest

The results are in and 298 students earned the first Hit the Books reward, a "Mystery Guest" assembly!  Our school challenges to students to read nightly for a specific number of minutes. Students who participate and return their signed reading logs each month earn privileges and rewards at school.  If you missed my post about Hit the Books, you can read it here.  To earn the privilege of attending the assembly, students had to complete the reading challenge for the past two months.  

The assembly began with the introduction of our mystery guest, *insert drumroll here*...Rascal from the Harrisburg Senators!

Rascal quizzed students on Senators trivia and fun facts (and they did surprisingly well).  Next we played a friendly game of "Minute To Win It" where teachers competed against randomly selected students.  Rascal cheered for students and even competed with them in a challenge.

A teacher and a student complete in the "Elephant March" challenge by knocking over
water bottles with a trunk-like contraption pulled over their heads.

What assembly would be complete without a prize drawing? Several students were chosen by raffle to select a prize from a table filled with books, posters, cool school supplies, and tickets for bowling.  The grand prize was donated by Rascal himself...four tickets to attend a Senators baseball game. 

When the assembly concluded, Rascal met children at the exit doors to give them high-fives and hugs to express his pride in them.  The kiddos were over the moon!

Students are currently working to earn an invitation to our Bingo Bash where they could win books and posters.  

What does your school do to motivate readers?  I'd love to hear your great ideas!

Friday, December 14, 2012

Prayers for CT Community

God bless and care for the families who lost loved ones in today's tragic events.  Praying for peace.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Holiday Read-Alouds

I'm linking up with The Hands-On Teacher for a Holiday Linky Party to share some of my favorite holiday and winter read-alouds.

You can take a peek at a few of my favorite Thanksgiving books here.  Today, I'd like to share my all-time favorite winter books...

The Mitten and The Hat are two of my favorite Jan Brett books.  I'm in love with the beautiful illustrations!  I could list so many of her books as favorites.


If you haven't read Trouble with Trolls, hurry out and get yourself a copy right away!  This book is so clever; your students will just love it!

The Polar Express is a timeless classic.  On the day our kindergarten teachers read this book, they sneak a little jingle bell into the pocket of each student's jacket.  This book is simply adorable!

Imogene takes it all in stride when she wakes up one morning to find that she has sprouted antlers.  Imogene's Antlers will have your students laughing out loud.

It's Christmas by Jack Prelutsky is a great introductions to poetry for young readers.

I'm sure you have a few favorite winter read-louds and activities of your go link-up!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Thanksgiving Turkey Panini

I'm linking up with First Grade and Fabulous for a Holiday Recipe Linky Party.  

Thanksgiving Turkey Panini

When turkey dinner is over, do you find yourself asking, "What should I do with all these leftovers?"  Voila!  Turkey Panini-Thanksgiving Style. 

I am actually looking forward to the panini more than the turkey dinner itself. :) It's a family favorite, inspired by a William Sonoma recipe.

1/2 cup turkey gravy (warmed)
8 slices bread, 1/2 inch thick (I use sour dough, sweet batard, or whatever is in the pantry)
Butter for brushing
1/2 cup cranberry sauce
4 slices provolone cheese
Roast turkey meat
1 1/3 cups cooked stuffing

In a small saucepan, warm the turkey gravy and reserve for later.  Brush one side of each bread slice with butter.  Place four slices, buttered side down, on a clean work surface.  Spread 1 Tbs. cranberry sauce on each slice. Place one slice of cheese on each of four bread slices.  Top with the turkey and stuffing, dividing evenly.  Cover each with one of the remaining bread slices, buttered side up.

Place two sandwiches on a panini press or George Foreman grill.  Close the lid and cook until the bread is golden brown and crisp and the cheese is melted.  Repeat with the remaining two sandwiches.  Carefully open the sandwiches and spoon on the warm gravy.  Close the sandwiches, cut in half and serve immediately.  Enjoy!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Motivating Readers

How does your school motivate students to read?  Many schools have a program in place to encourage students to read independently on a regular basis.  We have a small committee of teachers who plan a school-wide reading incentive program each year.  This year our baseball theme, Hit the Books!, has generated so much enthusiasm.

We launched the program the first school day in September by holding a big assembly.  We all came dressed in our baseball jerseys and caps.  After explaining the program to students, we showed a baseball themed Jib-Jab video.  One teacher from each grade level was represented in the video.  Students were laughing and cheering!

To participate, students must read a designated number of minutes at home each night and return a signed reading log at the end of each month.

Readers can look forward to special celebrations in recognition of their hard work. These celebrations include activities like Mystery Guest assemblies, Minute-toWin-It challenges,  free books, prizes, and baseball tickets.  

Does your school have a reading incentive program?  I'd love to hear about the great ideas you are using to motivate your students to read.  Please share!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Thanksgiving Read-Alouds and a Turkey Dinner

Are you wondering what to read this week?  Here are a few of my favorite Thanksgiving read-alouds.

Thanksgiving on Thursday by Mary Pope Osborne  (73 pages)
This is a short chapter book with a great message.  In the story, Jack and Annie take a trip back to the first Thanksgiving Day.  They are asked to pitch in and help prepare for the big meal.  Despite the many obstacles they encounter, Jack and Annie learn what it means to be truly thankful.

Thanksgiving at the Tappletons by Eileen Spinelli (32 pages)
This book is hilarious and heart-warming...Kids love it!  The entire Tappleton family prepares a Thanksgiving feast for their relatives.  However, nothing turns out as expected.  Grandmother reminds everyone that there's more to Thanksgiving than a turkey and trimmings.

Sarah Morton's Day: A Day in the Life of a Pilgrim Girl 
Samuel Eaton's Day: A Day in the Life of a Pilgrim Boy 
by Kate Waters (32 pages each)
These books are authentic, informative accounts of the challenges and pride felt by two Pilgrim children.  Sarah and Samuel describe their daily lives from clothing to chores and more.  Students can compare a day in their own lives to that of these two Pilgrims. 

Just for fun, I thought I'd share a Thanksgiving culminating activity from my days as a first grade teacher.  My colleague and I teamed up to have Thanksgiving with our students.  I cooked the turkey; she brought homemade applesauce.  Parents supplied the rest.  Our principal even came to carve the turkey. Our two classes came together year after year to share this special meal. 

I just love their hats!

We served dinner for 43 children!  :)

I'd love to hear about your favorite Thanksgiving read-alouds and activities. Leave me a comment!  

I hope you have a relaxing, refreshing Thanksgiving holiday filled with friends and family!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

H is for Honor

Yesterday I had the privilege of being a guest reader in a fourth grade classroom.  Many of my intervention students are in this classroom, so I love opportunities to see them in their classroom setting.  We discussed what it means to be a Veteran and read the book H is for Honor: A Military Family Alphabet by Devin Scillian.  

This is a fun picture book to read, especially for intermediate students.  You can read the book two ways.  Each page has a short rhyme to introduce the word and give an explanation of its significance.  But then, in the side bars, there is more factual information to take students deeper.  Aren't the illustrations great?  I love this book! 

After reading the book we did a little acrostic activity using this theme paper I found on TPT by Alissa Manning-Telisak.  It's adorable (and free, too)!
Veteran's are brave
Every Veteran is fearless
Returns home
Attitude is right
Navy, Army, Military are important

Elite forces
Rescue help
All together
Never give up

 Thank you to the military men and women whose service protects our freedom and keeps us safe.  Happy Veteran's Day!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Bedtime Storybook Night

Over the summer, we invited all incoming first graders and their parents to attend Bedtime Storybook Night.  Children were asked to wear their pajamas and bring their favorite stuffed animal.

As the night began, we introduced the families to the first grade teaching team.  Then children were invited to sit up on the stage for a read aloud.

Before reading the book, I shared a little secret with the kiddos..."Teachers love books.  All kinds of books.  Sometimes they love a book so much they read it twice.  Sometimes they love a book so much they read it over and over again."

I shard one of my favorite books, Ira Sleeps Over.  We stopped to make predictions and discuss what Ira should do about his big decision as we read the story.

After the story wrapped up, we had a special gift to share with our new firsties.  (Teachers began to pass out a gift-wrapped present to each child.)  We counted backwards from 10... 9... 8... 7... 6... 5... 4... 3... 2... 1... Unwrap!  Surprise!  Students unwrapped their very own hard back copy of Mrs. Brooks Loves Books (and I Don't).

I hope that they love this book as much as I did...I hope they read it over and over again!

What would a bedtime story be without the snack?  We concluded our evening with milk and cookies.  It was a great first night with our new first graders!

This event was held as part of a school wide program to promote summer reading summer, reduce "summer slide", and build a sense of classroom community.  To learn more about this project, read my post,  One School, One Book.  

Are you a 5 Star Blogger?  Visit The Organized Classroom Blog and take Charity's 5 Star Challenge.  

Saturday, October 20, 2012

One School, One Book

Does your school participate in One School, One Book?

Imagine your entire school community (teachers, staff, students, and families) all reading the same book at the same time. That’s what One School, One Book is all about.  The program was originally designed to promote reading in elementary schools, but the concept caught on quickly, and now many middle and high schools are also participating in One School, One Book initiatives.

Here's how it works... Schools choose a book that will appeal to their student population. Every student in the school is given a copy of the book to read. (Our PTO funded the program.) Next, students read the book at home over a designated period of time. They are encouraged to share the experience with their families by reading the book together. Then, back at school teachers organize activities to promote and enrich the shared reading experience.

My school is participating in *a slightly altered version of* the program. Our teachers decided to choose one book for each grade level. The change was made so that students would have a book that was more closely matched to their reading ability, in hopes that students would do more of the actual reading themselves. We held a special "Oprah's Big Giveaway" style assembly last spring to reveal this summer reading challenge and hand out the gift-wrapped books. Students were bubbling over with enthusiasm!

Now that the school year is underway, teachers are using the book and the coordinating activities to build a sense of community within their classrooms.

Books we chose:

First Grade - Miss Brooks Loves Books! (and I don't)

Second Grade - A Weekend with Wendell

Third Grade - Donavan's Word Jar

Fourth Grade - Frindle

Fifth Grade - Powerless

I'll keep you posted on the progress of this initiative throughout the school year, so check back frequently. :)

For more information about the One School, One Book program, visit the Read to Them website. Read to Them is a nonprofit organization dedicated to encouraging parents to read to their children.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Anchor Charts and Beanies

It's time to share what we've been learning...Comprehension Strategies with Beanie Babies!
My posters were purchased from Froggie Went a Teachin' on TPT.

At the beginning of the year I introduce each of the comprehension strategies and the corresponding Beanie Baby animals.  We create anchor charts for each strategy and practice using the skills.  The children make a mini book of strategies that they will keep with them throughout the year. 
Students are so excited to see which Beanie Baby animal and strategy will be introduced next.  They practically beg me to tell them. :)  And sadly, *tears* they are even disappointed once the last strategy/animal has been revealed.
The program that we use for reading intervention spirals back to each of the skills multiple times throughout the year.  We refer to the anchor charts, Beanie Babies, and mini-books often.  Here's a little look at a few of the anchor charts we made this year.

We use the "Click, Click, Clunk" method for self-monitoring.

Students used the clues from the photographs and their schema to make an inference about what is happening in the photo.  This was a great way to introduce the concept and grasp before applying it to text.

I read a excerpt from Charlotte's Web describing the barn, and students drew what they were visualizing.


I'll be back soon to share more about each strategy.  I'd love to hear some of your great ideas for introducing and teaching the reading strategies.  Leave a comment!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Classroom Tour

Welcome to "Camp Read S'more!"  I'm (finally) posting pictures of my camping themed classroom.  September flew by in a whirlwind.  We've completed our initial benchmark testing, and my intervention groups are up and running.  My fourth and fifth grade students have been reviewing comprehension strategies.  Soon the walls will display the anchor charts we've created.  Although the room still feels like a work in progress,  I decided to snap a few photos to share.
Camp Read S'more
Small Group Instruction Area
There is another similar small group area (not pictured) at the other end of the classroom for my instructional assistant.
Yes, two groups of students meet in this room simultaneously.  The room is large, so it works out perfectly!

"Read to Someone" Area
Classroom Library (book basket labels are coming soon)
Partners can read together in this area.
 "Read to Self" Tent

Computers for Read Live

Beanie Baby Comprehension Strategies
Cafe Board
I ordered these adorable woodland animal decals for the walls.
The animals pictured are my favorites, but a fox, a deer, and a raccoon were also included in the kit.  

Thanks for taking the classroom tour.  :)  I'll be posting pictures of the comprehension anchor charts we created soon.  Stop back to see them!