Friday, April 27, 2012

New Blog Design

I've been playing around with the look of my blog for the last week, trying to figure out the ins and outs of blog design. I finally figured out how to make tabs, and to create some features that I've seen on other blogs.
Now, my blog has my two favorite things: ladybugs and polka dots :)

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Funny things happening in 4th grade ...

Sometimes my kids just do things that make me want to laugh uncontrollably. Of course I hold it in, but it would be fun, just once, to burst out...
I digress my kiddos did some funny things this week. In social studies, we are learning the states and capitals. Earlier in the week they were taking a quiz on the northeast states. See if you can pick out the imposter state in this picture:

Yep, apparently New Hampshire is now being referred to as New Hampster ...

In writing, we are also focusing on our states. Each of my students is researching one of the 50 states and writing an informational essay. Now, our big focus this year has been on banning boring words. We make a huge joke of it. So, of course the thesaurus is one of our best friends. I tried to explain to them that you can't pick every word listed under a list word. They don't all translate into the exact meaning you want. The picture below proves my point very well:

He wanted to say, that if you go to New Jersey in the winter or fall, you should pack warm clothing. Well, in the thesaurus he found sultry, and there you have his new sentence.  
By definition, sultry means hot and humid, or hot with passion. Imagine trying to explain to a ten year old why this word does not quite mean the warm he was looking for ... 

I think that is one thing I love about my job. There is never a dull moment in the life of an educator! What is your funniest classroom moment?

Wednesday, April 25, 2012


I'm so excited! Thanks to Ladyug's Teacher Files I now know how to link my documents directly to open as a PDF. No more google doc or links to my TpT.
AND I even figured out how to make tabs on my blog! I started making resource pages for some documents that may be helpful to other intermediate level teachers. It took me a while last night, but I was able to get some reading resources, and two writing resources uploaded.
Let me know what you think! Do you prefer having links that go directly to PDFs, or Google Doc/TpT?

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Strategies that Work!

I really just love this book by Stephanie Harvey and Anne Goudvis! If you've never read it and are an intermediate teacher, I highly recommend it. These lovely ladies lay out strategies that good readers do, along with activities to accompany them.
Over the past week, my readers have been working on the monitor/clarify strategy. Previously, we've focused on stopping when we don't understand something. I've used this template:
You can download this for free in my TPT store. Click here!
Now that we are reaching the end of the year, I am trying to stretch the learning of my soon to be 5th graders. On page 81 of their book, Harvey and Goudvis lay out a new way of looking at monitoring. They talk about "Noticing and Exploring New Thinking". This means that readers make sure they are THINKING as they read. Imagine that!

Here is a link to the google ebook of Strategies that Work.  The link should take you to the top of page 81. Just scroll down a bit to get the section titled, "Noticing and Exploring New Thinking".
They suggested the book, "Little Mama Forgets" by Robin Cruise. My kiddos, however, are WAY OVER me reading fiction to them (And what is with that? Perhaps they are just tired of my voice, but maybe I am not tired of reading to them!) Anyway, I decided to throw more nonfiction into the mix as it is really great to get them practicing reading nonfiction with strategies.
Our school invested in Write Time For Kids. I think the theory behind this was to get us to use articles as mentor texts for writing. While I have done this, I love them even more for reading. Since we are learning about the Regions of the US, I picked an article based in the states. (You could pick any nonfiction article).

The article, "Who Own the Land?" talks about a Native American Tribe that is fighting to keep their land. During the lesson, I read the article without talking myself (sooo hard!), or letting the kids interject. At the end, I gave them time to write down ANYTHING they were thinking ABOUT THE ARTICLE. They could writing questions that made them wonder, things that made them happy, things that made them angry, etc. Then we paired, and shared as a group. They can up with some AMAZING thoughts.
The next day I gave out two different articles (unkownn to the kids, they were on two different levels to differentiate for my lower readers) for kids to read in partners. They read together and jotted down ideas. Then, I split the class into two groups depending on what article they read, and they shared out their thoughts. As each child shared, one to two children had the opportunity to respond to that child's thinking. We are working really hard on having good, meaningful conversations about text. I could not have been happier at the result. My students blew me out of their water with their meaningful thoughts and idea. This is definitely an activity I will do again in the following years.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

I really haven't fallen off the face of the Earth ...

Ok, so I've been super busy. Like, the kind of busy that can make you go crazy. Between field trips (2 in one week), state testing, and meetings out the wazoo, I haven't had a minute to breath. But, now I need to play some catch up.

Stacey from 3rd Grade Times gave my the Lovely Blog Award!

I'm so appreciative! According to the rules, I need to pass this on to some other lovely bloggers. So, here is who I think has a "Lovely Blog":
Josh from
Mr. B's Beach Brains

Courtney from Teaching in Paradise
Amber from Adventures of a 3rd Grade Teacher
Christi from Ms. Fultz's Corner
Laura from Love to Teach
Lorraine from Fabulous 4th Grade Froggies
Mandy at Mandy's Tips for Teachers

Ok, I know I'm supposed to do 15, but I'm oh so beat. .. forgive me please :)

Monday, April 9, 2012

New Button!

I think I'm getting the hang of this stuff :)
Here's my new button:

Tagged ...

Well, it took me a little while, but I'm finally getting around to "being it". I had a 4 day weekend and decided to relax and go computer free. Alas, it's back to school tomorrow, and here I am back on my trusty mac.

So, Christi at Mrs. Fultz's corner tagged me it for a blogger interview. Here are the rules:

* Post these rules.
* Answer the 10 questions that the tagger posted for you.
* Create 10 questions of your own to ask the people that you're about to tag.

Here are her questions:

1. What's your most loved classroom read aloud?
It's probably quite cliche, but I love to read Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing to my kiddos. I absolutely LOVE Judy Blume, and this book is no exception. This book is hilarious and the kids can't wait to hear more.

2. If you weren't teaching, what would you be doing instead?
Don't tease me! Haha, just kidding. Actually, I feel like there are a million things that I would LOVE to do. I would love to do interior design. I think it would be so fun to spend my days shopping with other people's money to make their house/space look amazing.

3. What are you most looking forward to during summer break?
Sleeping, relaxing, and catching up with friends. I don't know about the rest of your, but school sucks up a ridiculous amount of my time during the school year. In the summer, I just can't wait to have time to "smell the roses" and enjoy a bit of free time :) How many more months?

4. Can you think of your favorite teaching moment?
I'm not sure about favorite, but I can think of my funniest. Last year when I still taught science, I was teaching my class about static electricity. We were learning about opposites attract, so I used to balloons to show them. I drew faces on them, then rubbed one with plastic wrap and the other with wool. They attracted right away, and the kids could not contain their giggles (after all kissing balloons are hilarious). The best part, though, was when I was having trouble separtating the balloons and one of my little girls (who happens to be autistic) said, "Hey, I think they want more". I had to cover my face, because of course it went right over the heads of each and every one of my 4th graders.

5. If money wasn't a factor, what one item would you buy for your classroom?
Man, that's a tough question. I guess I've never thought lavishly as money isn't exactly falling from trees here in PA. But, I think it would be amazing to have a laptop for every kid in my classroom. In my school, we do our best to get as much computer time for our kids as possible, but sharing with 7 other teachers makes it challenging. We all want our computer time! So, it would be great to have it at my disposal all the time :)

6. Why did you start blogging?
I began "blog stalking" earlier this school year. The more I used the ideas of others, the more it weighed on me to start sharing myself. Then, one day I was at a meeting for PLP (Powerful Learning Practice) and was talking with my colleagues about blogging. They encouraged me to start one of my own, and here I am. Though the first few months I thought it was a mistakes because I was writing to myself (the only reader was me. ..). But, now it's nice to actually be sharing ideas and have people read them!

7. What is your favorite non-school related thing to do?
I absolutely LOVE watching movies. I don't know what it is about losing yourself in a movie for 90 minutes, but I just love it.

8. What advice would you give to a new teacher in your building?
You know have to be perfect.  There's a lot to know and learn, but it's best to just take it one day at a time.

9. Do you prefer real books or e-readers like Kindles?
I just love reading, so any format works for me. Usually I just read which ever version is cheaper. AND on my iPad I downloaded a library ap called Overdrive Media. If you have a local library card you can link up with your local branch and download electronic versions of your favorite books. The only downside is that sometimes you have to wait your turn to "borrow" the book.
10. You know it's been a good day when...
When I am singing along with the radio on the way home. When it's been a long day, I'm usually comatose on the way home.

Ok, now it's my turn to tag people "it"! Here are some of my faves!

Fun in Room 4B

FultzCorner Button

 Here are my questions:
1. What is your funniest memory while teaching?
2. Are you teaching your favorite grade? If not, what would it be?
3. What did you want to be when you were a kid? Was it always a teacher?
4. What is your favorite book (for adults)?
5. What is your favorite part about teaching?
6. If you were give a free vacation to anywhere in the world, where would you go?
7. What do you love to do with your class the first week of school?
8. What is your favorite part about blogging?
9. When do you start counting down for summer vacation?
10. When and why did you start blogging?

Can't wait to read the responses!

Now onto my next project ... new blog button! It's really hard to read the name of my blog, so I think I'll give it another go :)

Monday, April 2, 2012

I WON!! and a Visualizing Activity :)

Ok, first I won the giveaway from Fun in 4B!! I can't believe it. This is my first giveaway win, and I am walking on cloud 9! It was definitely a needed pick-me-up after the crazy week I had last week. Plus, everyone is gloriously enjoying their spring break ... and I just get Friday off. So, think of me while you're lounging in whatever relaxing place you've decided to spend your free time!

Anyway, last week I was working on visualizing with my kiddos. They are great at using the strategy with fiction text, but I wanted to take it to the next level and show them how to visualize with nonfiction.
I began by asking the kids if they knew anything about dinosaurs, especially the T-Rex. Most kids knew basic facts, so I asked them if they knew how large the tooth of a T-Rex is. I got all kinds of answers from 1 inch - 20 inches. I read them a passage from an article that explain that the tooth of a T-Rex is about the size of a banana. I posed the question, "Does this help you visualize better?" Here is the picture I drew on the board to show them what that fact made me visualize:
Check out my AMAZING artistic ability ... lol! 

Then I had my kiddos read about different animals in a book called The Unhuggables

The book is published by the National Wildlife Federation and is full of interesting articles about "unhuggable" animals/insects. My kids LOVED reading these high interest articles. I just picked a few and split them into groups. They read about the octopus, alligator, cockroach, black bear, and vampire bat. Here are some of their drawings: 

 The article about cockroaches explained how cockroaches can live anywhere in the world. So, here is a visual of cockroaches cover the world ... ew! 

The article on the Octopus explained how the tentacle can taste bitter, sweet, and sour.

My favorite picture, which of course I don't have a picture of is of the octopus. The article explained that when the octopus bites the crab, it turns its flesh to liquid. One of my boys drew a picture of the octopus drinking up the crab with a straw! I just thought it was so creative.
Here is the form I used for them to draw their picture: 
I'd love to hear how you get your students to visualize what they read!