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Sunday, December 13, 2015

December's What Are You Reading?

I am linking up with Focused on Fifth to bring you the December What Are You Reading linky. Today I am sharing a professional book that I use all the time for mini-lessons during writer's workshop. 

Crafting Nonfiction by Linda Hoyt is available for grades 3-5 in the intermediate edition and for grades K-2 in a primary edition. I've used both of them and they are absolutely fabulous. Some of their highlights include easy to implement mini-lessons in a variety of topics, teacher friendly prep, and engaging lessons that are right on grade level. Each book is divided by topics and even though they are focused on nonfiction, I use lessons from these books when my students are writing in all genres. So helpful and they complement any writing program you are using. Whether you use the K-2 or the 3-5 book, you'll find great mini-lessons for your writing block.

 I am a book fiend, so I always love to hear what others are reading. You can head on over to Focused on Fifth and link up with us to share what you are reading or you can leave me a comment with a book you would like to share. Happy Reading!

A Few of My Favorite Things

Favorite Things Graphic

I am joining up with a great team of teacher bloggers to bring you some of our favorite school things.


Favorite Classroom App

It's hard to pick a favorite app. It's even more difficult to even keep up with all of the new apps that are out there.
Click on this picture to go to the app online.

This app is great for all grades from first to fifth and it covers all operations. Operation Math Code Squad is perfect for grades 1-5. Students play against each other with the operations and difficulty level that you choose. What I love most is that it is a multi-player app for up to 4 students who all play at the same time. No down time while you wait for your turn. It's great practice with basic facts at all grades.


Favorite Classroom Organization Strategy

This year I changed the way I have parent helpers sign up and it is SO EASY. I created a calendar on Google slides for each month.  Then as it gets close to the beginning of each month, I go through and mark the times that I can use parent helpers.

Then I send grab the link to allow others with the link to edit the document. Make sure you allow them to edit, not just view the document. I send it out to all of the parents in my classroom and they can add their names to the slots where they want to help. It is so easy for me. I've gotten in the habit each morning when I open my email to check for the parent helpers who are coming in for the day. I wish I had thought of this years ago! 


Favorite Classroom Read Aloud

I love to read aloud to my students. Picture books, chapter books, poetry, all of it. My newest favorite read aloud is Wonder by R.J. Palacio.  My class is begging for more each day. August Pullman is heading to school for the first time ever and he's going into fifth grade. This book is about getting to know others, accepting people who are different, and treating others kindly. It will pull at your heartstrings and make you beg for more. Perfect for grades 5 and above.

Clicking on the cover will take you to Amazon.

Now how about a chance to win some great prizes? These are some of the favorites from teachers who are participating the 2nd Annual Favorite Things Hop and Giveaway. You can enter the Rafflecopter below.






You can enter the Rafflecopter to win these prizes!!!

For more great favorites, hop on over to these blogs too!

Friday, December 11, 2015

'Tis the Season for Giving: Holiday Gift Ideas for the Classroom

Today is the twelfth and final day of the Unwrapping Holiday Classroom Ideas event with Focused on Fifth. This has been such a great event, filled with so many ideas. But I have to admit I'm going to take a week or two off of blogging after this!

I am also blogging on Focused on Fifth today, where I talked about gifts for parent helpers and coworkers. But what about all those gifts you receive? After 18 years of teaching, I have plenty of apple things. Apple mugs, apple signs, glass apples, apple pictures...need I go on? Unless it's a homemade caramel apple, I've probably got enough apple stuff. So how about making it easy for your students to buy something you need for the classroom? Each year we put a small tree outside of each classroom door. Then the teacher lists items that are needed for the classroom and students can take the ones they would like to donate.

Somehow I missed out on the snowflake sticky notes, so my tree just got bright colored square ones. My students didn't care, they have taken most of the notes already.

I try to list things that I can't get from our supply room such as:

  • Highlighters-perfect for marking parts in reader's theaters
  • Clorox wipes - keep those winter germs from spreading
  • Hand sanitizer - get a squirt before you go to lunch
  • Diaper wipes- perfect for erasing your writing on lamination and for students to clean off their desks after writing on them with dry erase markers
  • Paper goods- plates, napkins, cups, bowls, real paper towels....I can go through a lot of these each year
  • Ziploc bags- it seems like I use them in all sizes from 2-gallon to snack size
  • Febreze- it sure helps the smell of the coatroom in the winter time when it never seems to dry out and there's lots of boots and shoes to stink it up
  • A bag of potting soil - just thinking ahead to spring planting
  • Hairspray and liquid starch - for art projects
I also put up gift cards to Amazon, Barnes and Noble, iTunes, Walmart, and Target. Then I can pick up what we need in the classroom and they can choose any amount. Another thing that people like to get are books. But if you are like me, I already have loads of books. So I pick out some of the books from my wishlist and write them down. That way we get books that I want to use in my teaching and I don't get duplicates.  Most parents love knowing what we need in the classroom and those who want to do something else, don't have to take anything off the tree. Plus it really saves me time and money when I have all of these supplies on hand.

To see the schedule of all twelve days or to get directions for linking up yourself, click on the Focused on Fifth blog button. Missed a day? Links to each day are on the schedule.
Hop on over to these blogs for more great classroom gift ideas.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Seasonal Stories: Books Your Students Will Love

Welcome to the tenth day of Christmas. I am linking up here to talk about holiday chapter books for your students and at Focused on Fifth I'm blogging about picture books for the holiday. So you'll want to check out both blogs today.

My students are so excited about Christmas and this is a place in my bookshelf where I wish I had more books for my students to be reading. But here are a few of the holiday chapter books that my students are grabbing up.

1. Christmas on Mill Street by Joseph Walker 
Messages of love, friendship, acceptance and Christmas ring out in this book about a young boy and a sled in this 1962 Christmas story.

2. The True Gift by Patricia MacLachlan
The joys of family, community, and true giving are explored thanks to a white cow alone in a meadow in this Christmas story.

3. A Dog Named Christmas by Greg Kincaid
One dog changes the lives of of his adoptive family and the entire town.

4. The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson
The most unlikely family takes over the annual Christmas pageant.

5. Kringle by Tony Abbot
This is not your normal origins of Santa story. This fantasy includes goblins, elves, and flying reindeer in the making of Kris Kringle.

6.  Santa Paws by Nicholas Edwards
An orphaned puppy earns the name Santa Paws for his daring rescues and brave acts.

7. Christmas with Tucker by Greg Kincaid
A coming of age story about Christmas and love for his dog, his family and the farm.

Click on the Focused on Fifth blog button to see a schedule for all 12 days of Christmas with links and to find out how to link up your books ideas with us.
And for more books your students will love, hop on over to these posts too.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Holiday Jingles: Poetry, Songs, and Musical Activities

Welcome to the ninth day of Christmas. Today everyone is blogging about poetry, songs, and musical activities for December.

I have to say that one thing I loved about teaching first grade was their enthusiasm for singing. I was a little bummed to miss out on that this year now that I've moved up to fifth grade. But when I started going through my holiday books, I picked up The Roof Top Hop and knew my fifth graders would have a ball with it too.

Clicking the cover will take you to Amazon.

I had it wrapped with all of our other Christmas books and when someone opened it up we pushed our desks to the side and threw the DVD in to teach us the dance moves. After we went through the dance moves once, we went straight on to the dancing. They thought it was such a ball. In the past I have taught it to the entire grade level, which was a lot of fun too. It might also be fun to let the students work together to make up their own dance.

Click on the Focused on Fifth button below to see our schedule of themes for the 12 days of Christmas. You can also find directions for linking up with us there.
For more ideas on today's Holiday Jingles theme, click on these great blogs:

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Teacher's Little Helpers: Holiday Products

Welcome to day six of the Unwrapping Holiday Classroom Ideas hosted by Focused on Fifth. Today we are sharing some of our favorite holiday products.

This is my newest math creation that I just completed over the Thanksgiving break. I just finished teaching addition, subtraction, and multiplication of decimals and I wanted to give my students a chance to practice what they've learned with a holiday task. I made this task generic for whichever holiday I happen to want it for next year. So Thanksgiving or Christmas will work. This year I used it for Christmas.

Clicking on this cover will take you to TpT.

The Task: 
Right before the holidays, your parents had to leave town for a few days to help your grandparents. They promised to be home before the holiday meal, but it's up to you to plan everything.

1. Look through Mom's cookbook and plan your meal. What will you serve? Prime rib or turkey?
2. Create a shopping list that includes the amount of each item that you will need to buy.
3. Calculate what this will cost. Mom forgot to leave you a credit card, so you have to make sure you have enough cash to pay for everything.
4. Everyone is coming at 5:00 p.m. Plan out a schedule to make sure that the feast is ready on time.

And don't forget to take into account all of the texts Mom keeps sending to clarify what should be done. It's a big mathematical task....but your students can do it!

I thought we would be able to finish this task in two math blocks, but it took us 3 days.  However, it was three days of hard work. I couldn't believe how many comments I heard such as, "This is so hard" and "This is why my husband will do the shopping." It was definitely a challenging task. For some students just learning to read a recipe and figure out how many batches they will need to make was a chore.  Everyone spent all three days fully engaged and working can't ask for much more in a mathematical task. You can find this task at TpT.

To see a schedule of all 12 days, click on the Focused on Fifth button.You will also find links to any of the days you might have missed.

For more products to get your through the month, visit these blog posts: