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Monday, September 26, 2011

Wow! Two awards!

Thanks to the Teacher's Chatterbox for this award.  I am very flattered.

This is what the award is all about:
I Heart Your Blog Award: (so sweet I had to share)
A dear friend of mine taught me a profound lesson several years ago when she shared her personal mantra,
"There Is Only Love". Since then, I have realized that by adopting this mantra in my own life, I have changed my whole approach to everything I experience. That being said, as a total newbie to the teacher's blogging world, I discovered this gold mine of amazingly creative and talented teachers out here in cyber space. There are so many of you spreading the teaching Love around the globe by sharing your ideas and experiences. I just had to create a blog award to celebrate those of you who have touched my heart and inspired me, increasing my LOVE of teaching.
Thank you for sharing your talent with the world!
(OK, I keep finding soooo many of you to love!!!)
1. Give the "I Heart Your Blog "Award to your favorite Top 10 Blogs that have touched your heart and inspired your teaching by listing them on your blog.
2. Contact that person and let them know of their heartfelt award.
3. When you receive the award,
copy and paste the graphic onto your
blog and give a shout out to the person who nominated you. 4. Spread the LOVE by passing the "Heart Your Blog" Award on your Top 10. MY TOP TEN:

My top ten (in no particular order):


Lutton 519


Blog button


I am also pleased to receive the Versatile Blogger award from Pitner's Potpourri.  Thank you so much!  In addition, I am supposed to tell you seven things about myself, and award the Versatile Blogger award to 15 other blogs.  I will do the seven and make another post for the fifteen later.

1.  I am the middle of seven children, and I am the stereotypical middle child.  I love my brothers and sisters very much, and we have a lot of fun when we are together.

2.  I used to be a volleyball coach!  When I began teaching, I coached high school and junior high volleyball.  I even coached through two of my four pregnancies!  (Those two boys are very energetic, too!)

3.  I have a hard time saying no.  I like to be involved, and I spend a lot of my free time helping out at different places.  I wish I were as thin as I am spread.  :)

4.  My husband is a former school administrator.  Thankfully, he was never MY administrator.  lol

5.  I love history.  I store silly facts in my brain that I really have little use for.  I love going to historic places and visiting places where famous people have been or lived.

6.  Abraham Lincoln is one of my favorites.  Being from Illinois, that only makes sense!  We have been to all of the historic sights that we can find that deal with Honest Abe.  I got shivers when I climbed the stairs at his house in Springfield and thought my hand was touching the same handrail that his had touched!

7.  I have four sons who help me to see four VERY DIFFERENT learning styles.  It is hard to believe they all came from the same womb.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Follow on Facebook!

Would love to have you follow me on Facebook!  The Lesson Plan Diva is having a Linky party so that you can find other bloggers on Facebook.  She even has everything organized by grade level (making your stalking even easier...)

I have gained so much from blogging, and  I am sure you do, too! Get involved with this great linky party to grow even more!

To follow this blog on Facebook, click here.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

I was reintroduced to this website,,  this week, and I can't wait to put it to use!  It has so many tools that a teacher can customize as well as templates that students can use to demonstrate their own learning!

A couple that really got my attention were LightsOut! and Twister.  LightsOut allows the teacher to have an image which he/she displays in only small sections as a light is shone on it.  Twister mimics aTwitter account--students speak in someone else's voice in 140 characters or less.  How cool when studying famous people from all walks of life. 

Besides the tools, the website also has demonstration videos and sample uses to help beginning users.  I think it will be a great hit with my students!  I hope it is a hit with you, too!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

A Great Start to growing readers and writers!

   I am so pleased with the way our literacy block is working!  These kids are doing a GREAT job!  I have my own little version of the Daily 5, and I continue to tweak it each year to make it stronger.  Students get two 20-25 minutes block per day where they can choose to read to self, write, or work with words.  The rest of our literacy time is used for student sharing, minilesson, Superspeed 100 (a word fluency program), partner reading,  and a group choral reading.  I have students listen to me read at another time of the day, and I do my writing mini-lesson at another time as well.

   In their Daily 5 binders, they mark down their choices for their independent work time.  They are all picking up on the routine of it all very well.  This is the second week that we have really been doing it, and it amazes me each day how well they are doing!  It is so exciting.

   I am also using some ideas I got from The Book Whisperer and Igniting a Passion for Reading, books that I read this summer.  When someone comes in my room to ask a question or some other interruption occurs, my students pick up their books and read.  I am also finding students filling in book recommendation slips to hang on our bulletin board. 

   I am excited about our little reading community, and I am looking forward to its growing stronger.  I am done Fountas and Pinnelling for the 1st Benchmark (We only have to level those who are below level on our screener, but I had 10 who were low or concerned me in other ways.), so now I really get to conference with my students and begin my small groups in earnest.  It is great.  It makes me wish I had even more than my 90 minute block. 

  The little things like this are what remind me of why I became a teacher.  I hope the rest of the year keeps going so smoothly!


Saturday, September 17, 2011 you tried it yet?

Recently, Thoughts of A Third Grade Teacher had a post about a new website she had found,  I went to this free site and was quite impressed.  It not only gives student fun practice with math concepts, but it also gives students feedback about their progress.  In addition, teachers can find out about student progress!  I love it and so do my students!

Teachers can set challenges for their students.  Students can play in real time with other students throughout the world or play against the computer.

As most of my students have internet access, I plan on giving a night on this as homework sometimes.  I'll be able to go online and check to be sure they actually practiced.

Best of all, did I say that it is FREE?!  Teachers can pay to get access to more detailed reports, but there is a lot of data one can access without an account.

Go check it out!

Monday, September 12, 2011

My continuing journey with Words Their Way

Last week, I gave my first spelling test with my students' Words Their Way lists.  It went remarkably well.  Over half of the students received perfect scores on spelling and conventions, and a half dozen more spelled all of their words from their list correctly.  (Just a reminder, I give dictation sentences as my spelling tests.  Students are given five sentences to copy down.  Each sentence contains about two of the students' spelling words.  They receive a spelling grade, and a grade for correct capitalization and punctuation.)

I have four different developmental lists.  I have two groups in the Within Words  stage, one in the Affixes group, and one group in Derviational Relations.

I have a word work taskboard that students use as a basis for word work.  (Thanks to my friend, Christa.  I tweaked hers.) They have also been doing sorts and playing games from the Words Their Way book.  As we begin to move into our more regular schedule for Daily Five (although mine is Dailya Three), they are given a word work task or tasks to complete each week.  They also have another list of word activities that they can choose from if they finish the one that is assigned for the week.  I am anxious to see how they do with the independence required to work on these.  I am hoping that it goes well.

With each of my groups, we meet at least once during the two week time period so that I can check their understanding of the rule associated with their words.  We work with the words for two weeks before we do the dictation assessment.  I send home little/no spelling homework. 

I hope that not only do they do well on next week's spelling tests, but that they begin to learn the rules and have some carryover into their daily writing.  That is my main goal in using this format!

How many of you are using Words Their Way?  What are you doing with it in your classroom?

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Remembering 9/11 with students who weren't even alive yet...

     Since July, I have been thinking about how to mark the 10th anniversary of 9/11 with my students.  They are only 8 years old, and they have not idea of the way the world stopped that day for so many of us.  Besides that, they are still too young to be exposed to many of the details of the day.  However, for myself, I knew I couldn't just ignore the day.

     Last weekend, I was reading an article in the paper that mentioned the total number of people lost that day.  I thought that that was what I wanted to have my kids realize--the number of people lost that day.  So...after a great brainstorming session with my fellow 3rd grade teachers, we made a plan of how to show our students the nearly 3000 people lost that day.

    What we did was this...We divided the number of people who died that day by our students and teachers.  Each student would then be responsible for coming up with a set number of positive, patriotic words.  (For our students, it was 25 a piece.)  We helped the students generate their lists by listening to patriotic music, reading patriotic books, watching the Brainpop 9/11 video, books about 9/11 like The Little Chapel that Stood...

     Finally, we had the students write their words onto two tall "towers" of roll paper.  Kids were assigned a color to write in, and we had a key to show that the colors helped to show the number who died in NYC, the Pentagon, Shanksville, and Emergency Personnel.  The towers were filled with patriotic words (brave, liberty, freedom, heroes were commonly used). 

     Our fabulous PE teachers let us hang these huge papers in the gym so that all kids would be able to see them.  Our custodian helped us to hang them because they were so big.  It was unbelievable even to us teachers as to how full these towers were with words.  We hope that our kids have a better understanding of the impact that this event had on our country, and how the events of that day united us as Americans.

     I have pictures of our towers, but they are at school.  I will post them later.  I think they were a very appropriate way for us to present this event to our young students, and I hope that it made an impact on them.  It certainly made an impact on me.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Kinesthetic Spelling

For a number of years, I have used this idea to practice our spelling words.  I use it sometimes in stations, or I have an individual at the SMARTBoard and one on the mat to practice the same word.

I have a couple of them, and they were so easy and cheap to make!  I used plastic tablecloths from the party store and then wrote the alphabet on them.  When the word is said, the children say the letters in the word aloud and move to it on the mat.

I made similar ones for multiplication facts.  They are set up differently as the numbers are randomly placed on the mat.  I have the kids go against each other in this format.  It is more like Twister.

It is a great way to help some of the kids get some extra movement in! 

Monday, September 5, 2011

My Top Ten

Thanks so much for Thinking of Teaching for naming me one of her top ten blogs!  Hers is certainly a blog I love to follow!    If you don't follow this blog, click below to check it out!


Now, I am going to post my top ten...




These are just ten of the blogs I follow...however, they are ten good ones!  Please check them out!