Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Another Giveaway!

There are so many great math items...definitely worth trying!

Monday, April 29, 2013

Saturday, April 27, 2013

A Little Piece of Magic in an Ordinary Writing Workshop

As I was looking around the classroom yesterday, I saw such an amazing site-- students actively writing without reminders! A writing workshop from my dreams :)

It was the most beautiful thing I have ever seen and I had to blog about it.

We love to begin the year with mini lessons about how to read the rubric. After that, we have lengthy units of study looking critically at how writers write opinion pieces, poetry, nonfiction, and narrative pieces. Everything! Writing was like pulling teeth for some kids back in September.  Now, in late April, we are reviewing these mini lessons but this time we are looking critically at the advanced column and writing it in kid friendly language. For their final piece, students get to choose everything...the topic, the style, the organization, everything. Here is an image from our mini lesson:

Like always, we move from our mini lesson and begin our rotations. We use this chart to guide us and at this time of year, the kids have it down!

The first rotation I work with is the small group rotation. The kids love this and can almost guide themselves. It was so fun to watch them interacting about writing and I hardly had to facilitate a thing.

While this group was finishing their game, I began to look around the room and this is what I saw...

One boy is researching harp seals for his non-fiction piece while another is engaged in his choice writing.

This young lady is publishing her piece on the computer. My students regularly publish on Voicethread, Vocaroo, PowerPoint, Microsoft Word, and Mixbook is a class favorite this year! Please by sure to check out my guest post about other ways to offer an authentic audience to students on Rachel Lynette's Minds in Bloom.

This young man is revising his work using our revision cans. It amazes me how this simple tool can get even the most reluctant writer to revise!

Click below to set up these rotations in your classroom and watch the magic for yourself. You can also download my complete writing workshop management plan for the 21st century.

What are some amazing things you do to keep writing engaging throughout the year?

Classroom Freebies Manic Monday

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Five Ways to Make Your Last Week of School Memorable

It's hard to believe that we are already planning for the end of the year.  Four weeks left!  Four. Weeks.  That's only 20 days...but who's counting?

I love to make sure the last few weeks of school are memorable for students, especially the last day.  Here are a few things I love to do...

1.  Have each student create a memory book about the year.  It is a great keepsake for them and their parents love it!

2.  Give each child a special award recognizing their accomplishments.  This year, I plan to go big and roll out the red carpet (aka red butcher paper) during this celebration.

3.  Have each student complete a "top ten things about third grade."  This is great feedback to know which projects were the most memorable and it's a great thing to hang in the hallway for back to school night next fall.

4.  Show each kid how to make a tie-dye t-shirt and get signatures from their classmates.  It's the easiest thing in the world and I see kids wearing them for years afterward.

5.  Write a special note to parents thanking them for their support this year.

Here is a freebie you might like for your end of year celebrations.  I have created a t-shirt themed end of year pack and a super hero themed end of year pack.  If you like these ideas, check it out.  It's only $3.00.  

What great things do you do on your last day of school?

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Self Assessment and Tracking Scores

There is so much research to show the connection between student achievement and tracking goals. In our classroom, we work with our students to assess themselves regularly. Sometimes it's just holding up a simple 1,2,3, or 4 fingers to show understanding and sometimes it's a written reflection. Having the same language is critical to understanding so we find these posters to be helpful.

We also work to have students track their goals.  I just created this sheet as a way for students to track their progress on assessments.  This is totally aligned to the standards and I am excited to start this with my class next year!  Just click on the images to print these freebies for your classroom!

A quick shout out to The Primary Playground for the ice cream clipart and  Miss N for the cute bubble frame!

 How do you encourage self-assessment and reflection in your classroom?

Classroom Freebies Manic Monday

Monday, April 8, 2013


What a great opportunity! Just click on the image below...

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Reading Clubs in the Elementary Classroom

Spring is the best time of year to start reading clubs during our reading workshop time.  By now, our students understand how to pick just right books, how to monitor their comprehension, how to analyze text, and it's time to talk about books!

This style is very different from traditional literature circles.  While I love literature circles and see many benefits of them, this style offers much more student choice and authentic discussion. 

To begin, you need three things...
1.  A classroom commuity of readers
2.  Book sets
3.  Materials to use in book discussions like spinners, dice, and even the silly beach balls

The next part is simple!  Follow these guidelines.
1. The group leader must get the book approved by the teacher first.
A student acts as a group leader by asking to start a book club.  He or she selects a book set that offers multiple copies and that is of high interest.  It's easy to approve, just make sure it is a just right book for that reader.  I find that most kids know what is in their realm of reading and try not to choose books that are too hard. 

2.  The group sign-up sheet must be posted on the reading workshop board for three days and must be open to any students.
The group leader creates a sign up sheet using notebook paper.  It should include the title and the number of participants.  The number of participants should be the same as the number of books available.  Easy-peesy.

3.  The group must hold their first meeting with the teacher.
During this meeting, it is important to sit down with the whole group to establish expectations.  Since this is supposed to be student driven, the kids should come up with them as much as possible.  They usually come up with things that are far beyond anything I would come up with!  They might decide on which chapters to read and when, write this down on a calendar (we just use our class calendar so it's easy to keep track of) and when the group will meet to discuss this book.  They also usually decide which days they can buddy read and which days they read alone.  I have even had kids make worksheets about the book for their group! 

4. If buddy reading, the group must stay focused and on-task.  This should happen after group members have completed their rotation.
Book clubs do not take place of our reading workshop approach, they enhance it it and provide some excitement to reading in the spring.  Not to mention, we can get kids to practice fluency skills by quietly buddy reading...they don't even realize it!

5. During group time, the leader can facilitate the discussion using book club materials.  
Things like spinners, dice, question cards, even literature circle job cards are all easy ways to get kids talking about books in a meaningful way.

6. The group must share a presentation about the book upon completion.
This is the ultimate in accountability and group work.  Kids might make a game to discuss comprehension, a poster about the book...any fun reading project to demonstrate comprehension.   

If you are interested in starting book clubs in your classroom this spring, download the free poster blow.

Classroom Freebies Manic Monday

What other ideas do you have to keep reading fresh during these high energy months after spring break?

Monday, April 1, 2013

New Facebook Page!

I am excited announce the launch of our Facebook page.  Please take a moment and "like" us for quick tips, freebies, and resources for your classroom!