Sunday, March 29, 2015

Spring Ideas: Craftivity, Organizers, Free Bulletin Board

Spring is here...especially in Florida! I like to cheer up our learning with bright colors and theme related topics/decorations.
Even if you add the cuteness factor, you still need rigor! There's no reason not to have both! :) Check out these student theme samples from my Spring & Summer Reading Graphic Organizers pack.

I love their thinking! It's also interesting to me how almost all of my students compared the theme from Red Kite, Blue Kite to a different book we've shared. (Another great reason to have those Theme Boards to refer to!)
Want to try this Theme Takes the Cake in your classroom? Click the button below to download. If you like it, there's 27 more graphic organizers to enjoy!

My students complete their spring wreaths before the break using a fiction book (Somebody Loves You Mr. Hatch). We will complete the Easter ones this week using non-fiction text.
I've had my students complete them on books read independently and whole class read alouds. My students really have to think to complete these adorable wreaths!

Pick up all 8 wreaths in a bundle for a huge savings.
Click the button below.
Finally, is a SPRING Into Reading Bulletin Board! Brighten up your classroom or hallway with this easy display. Each student completes a flower after reading and voila...instant bulletin board! A board of full of flowery book recommendations!
Are you wondering about the flowers in the corners of the bulletin board??! Of course you are! They're plates from Dollar Tree...aren't they darling?

Print flowers on bright colored paper for a "pop" on your display. Cut flowers and staple onto board!
Easy peasy! :)

Go grab your FREE instant bulletin board! As always, kind feedback is greatly appreciated! xoxo

Hope you found some helpful ideas that will brighten your classroom or motivate your kiddos during Spring Fever! Have a super week! We start our state testing this week!

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Spark Student Motivation: Testing Goodies

My Spring Break is coming to a close ...{insert sad face}.
Although I'm SUPER excited to see my students on Monday, we come back to take our brand new state test this week ...{insert teacher shaking at the knees}! In order to calm my fears and my students' fears, we will get MOTIVATED about testing!

We start out getting in the "testing mode thinking" about 15 days before testing when we start our COUNTDOWN! Each day we flip the page over to keep track of how many days we have left until the big day! (Only 3 days once we get back!!)

We also have a class discussion about the importance of testing. This test represents so much: how much they learned this year, their teacher, our class, our school, and their parents. I try to take a different spin and tell them it's their time to SHOW OFF! "Go ahead, brag about how much you learned and know on that test!"
As a class, we sign a pledge to al our try our very best and display it as a reminder of our commitment.

It's our chance to SHINE & SPARKLE (you know how I feel about sparkle!)
I love sparkle so much, I created an acronym for great test taking strategies for my students to remember. :) Great visual and tool for my students to reference.

I'm getting my parents involved too! I send home tips for my parents to help their child with testing along with notecards to make for their child the day of the test. Of course, they will need door hangers so their parents can't make them do chores on testing nights! LOL! They race home to put these on their bedroom door!

I work very hard all year long to build community in my classroom and during testing season is no different. I have my student write positive notes of encouragement to each other to "cheer" each on for testing days. They love reading these sweet notes from their friends.

 Another way to relax them or ease their fears is by sharing these two picture books about testing. Cute messages and perfect time to have a class discussion about fears and answer any questions about testing. I have to remember these kids are 9 and 10 and they get nervous, so I want to do as much as possible to make them feel comfortable.

I like to give my students little treats-I know it gets them excited and makes them look forward to the following testing days as well. Think about we like attending a faculty meeting or training where chocolate is on the table or they feed us??!! Of course, we do! I know we have a better attitude about a long training if we get a snack or treat, same goes for kids. I got these ready this week on my spring break-ready for all four days of testing!

 All of these resources are available in my Testing Goodies Pack in my TPT store.
Click HERE to check it out.
I hope you had a wonderful week! Please link up any lessons, ideas, tips, tricks, incentives, ANYTHING you do get your students motivated or excited!
Don't forget to grab my button and link back to this post!
Check out all the wonderful ideas from my friends who link up and don't forget to leave some love by commenting....we LOVE comments!
***Please include the topic in the link up with your blog name.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Theme: Boards, Organizers & Anchor Charts

My favorite types of bulletin boards are the ones that stay up all year, but remain interactive with students' thoughts, progress, and reflection ALL YEAR!
These types of bulletin boards serve not only as classroom d├ęcor, but a visual tool to reference daily.
Let's talk about THEME-one of my favorite topics to provoke student discussion, but also a difficult concept for kids to understand sometimes.
Theme is an important skill that most standards cover, whether you follow the common core standards or state standards. It's important for students to read a story and find the "secret message" from the author. Very rarely are themes explicitly stated, but must be inferred. I tell my students the author would be disappointed if we didn't figure out what he/she was trying to convey in their story, so we have to use our mad inferencing skills to determine the theme! 
To ensure I'm always COVERING & DISCUSSING theme, we keep track of all the books we read on our Theme Boards. I first read about theme boards in Strategies That Work and then later from Beth Newingham. I've been using these boards for about twelve years and would NEVER not have them as a part of my classroom.
Let me tell you all the benefits of Theme Boards:
  • The visual of all the books read throughout the year makes you and your students proud!
  • Students can make connections to books and themes all year.
  • Thinking of theme while reading all books becomes automatic for students.
  • Promotes GREAT discussion between students and offers opportunities for debates and proving their thinking by finding evidence in the text.
  • Can be incorporated easily into every lesson and every literature book (weekly story, chapter book, mentor text).
  • You can use less than 5 minutes to discuss the theme of a new book or have students use an organizer and construct a written response that could take 30 minutes...either way, it always fits in my schedule!

This is actually a "theme" for our classroom. I found the quote on a fashion blog and have used it as our class motto for the past few years. Nobody should ever let anyone dull their sparkle!

(The lighting wasn't very good in my classroom-it kept bounces off of the lamination).
As you can see from our theme boards this year, we've read over 60 books! See? Proud teacher! It's also impressive to visitors of our classroom! My students are constantly referring to our past readings and reference them in current discussions and written responses.
Many people ask me about the vibrant colors on my posters and if I use a lot of ink...the answer is no. I print very little at home, especially color. There are places everywhere (my favorite is Office Depot) that make color copies for $0.29-$0.39 each and they usually have laser printers which makes the color so bright and crisp. (Plus, I like a lot of black backgrounds so it would eat up all my ink.) After I laminate them I will use them for years, so it's worth it to me.
There's a little time involved when you first make pictures of all your books, but again, after you laminate them, you'll have them forever! Now, I'm very fortunate and have a huge classroom library, so I made most of them during a summer break and now I just add them as needed. I keep them alphabetized in one of those accordion style organizers. My students all ask to get the picture after we read a new book...instant classroom job!! LOL!

I look up the title of the book online, click images, save the picture, then insert the picture in Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, or any program you use to insert pictures, and size accordingly.

 I also made several organizers to help my students practice writing about theme and justifying their ideas. (We can never get enough practice!) There are so many opportunities to teach theme and incorporate it easily into our lessons, and this is one of my FAVORITES! Because we practice and discuss theme almost on a daily basis, my students are pretty good at identifying the theme and justifying their thinking.
I'm so excited to share a new product with you! :)

DEAL OF THE DAY!! If you purchase my new Theme Pack on TPT and leave feedback, you will receive my companion product Theme Posters (Student Created) FREE! This offer will be good until Sunday, 3/29. Just email me your TPT user name after you leave feedback and I'll send you the freebie!

I'd love to hear what you think and any ideas you want to share about theme! 

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Spark Student Motivation: Special Delivery

Happy Saturday Friends! I will be on Spring Break the following week so this linky will be open for two weeks. I'd love for you to link up once or twice!
 I know not everyone is going to agree with today's way of motivating my students, but I will do anything to make sure my students are successful and happy in my class...including SPECIAL DELIVERIES to their homes!

At the beginning of the year I got this young man hooked on the Maximum Ride series and nothing could stop him, not even a weekend! Yes, I went to his house to deliver a book on a Saturday, but it was worth it! He finished that big book and took a Reading Counts test on it that Monday! He motivated me and I motivated him! :)
 This student "thought" he could leave his homework on his desk one day...ummm, no! I dropped it off at his house so he would have a SURPRISE when he got home! LOL! (I texted his mom to tell her I had save the day! haha)

This avid reader was dying to get her hands on this book, so when it came in the mail I delivered it to her after school. As you can see, she didn't waste any time-she literally met me at my car door!

This responsible student called me at school to tell me she forgot her project paper in her desk. She was stressed out because it was due the next day...I just dropped it off on my way home-problem solved!

As teachers we go out of our way ALL the time, but this is one way I actually enjoy doing for my students! I don't want you to think I make a habit of "delivering" homework and books everyday. I've made about 8 deliveries since the beginning of the year, but it doesn't go unappreciated by my students or parents. It's another way to show I care about them and their success in my classroom. (Plus, you know how excited kids get when they see their teacher out of school!) I know it's not for everyone, but I wanted to share another way I motivate my students! :)

I hope you had a wonderful week! Please link up any lessons, ideas, tips, tricks, incentives, ANYTHING you do get your students motivated or excited!
Don't forget to grab my button and link back to this post!
Check out all the wonderful ideas from my friends who link up and don't forget to leave some love by commenting....we LOVE comments!
***Please include the topic in the link up with your blog name.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Tried It Tuesday-Anchor Chart Storage

I want to share a little something that has helped organize classroom this year!
So excited to link up my idea with one of my favorite people, Holly from Fourth Grade Flipper for her Tried It Tuesday party!
I love modeling my thinking and creating anchor charts with my students to hold our thinking, but we have very limited wall space in our classroom to "hold" these charts. So many charts are able to be referred to all year, so I hate throwing them away or storing them away in a drawer where they'll be forgotten. Well, guess what? I found the PERFECT storage solution...

I found this magnetic drapery rod at Walmart this summer and it's been a perfect space saver for my anchor charts! Yes, you read that correctly, it's magnetic so it's portable! No hooks or hanging on walls or pocket chart holders...just sticks to your erase board or chalkboard. I hole punch my anchor charts and feed them onto book rings that are attached to the rod. I can easily flip the charts back and forth to refer back to past learning and thinking.

 I have about 12 anchor charts currently hanging on this rod and there's plenty of room for more! I don't save EVERY anchor chart, just the ones I think they may need a "refresher" lesson on or charts that won't change from lesson to lesson (definitions or examples of reading strategies/skills).

 I hope this is a solution to your anchor chart storage problem, if you have one. It's one of the best classroom organizational pieces I've purchased! Great $12 investment! :)
Love to hear what you think about this magnetic rod or how you store your anchor charts!

If you missed my post from Saturday (click here), I just listed this fun creation!!
Book Character Awards {Character Traits}

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Spark Student Motivation: Book Character Awards


 I present to you...Book Character Awards! This was definitely a super fun red carpet event in our classroom! We wanted to recognize all the book characters we've met this year and celebrate their strengths and weaknesses. (Perfect timing for all of the awards shows!)
Here's a video of a few of our book character winners. They all wanted to WALK the red carpet!
Check out their excitement!

Had to have some upbeat music for our awards show! :) Aren't they cute? I couldn't upload a larger video to show the rest, but there was a range of characters awarded from chapter books to picture books. Many students made two awards because they just HAD to recognize someone else we met that was deserving of an award! {insert super happy teacher face!}

 Each student selected a character trait or character and looked back at our student tracking sheets for all the characters we've met this year to determine who was the MOST (eager, evil, determined, tenacious, courageous, etc.). They had to support their selection with evidence from the text.
**We based our awards only on books that our entire class read/shared for this ceremony.
 We created an instant bulletin board with our winning characters!

I purchased the red carpet at Party City {click here}. It's 15 feet and cost $6.99 (a must have!). It comes with adhesive tape on one side to use for a more permanent ceremony, but I want to reuse it so I just roll it back up and it's perfect! Well worth the 7  bucks to have my students squeal with delight to "roll out the red carpet" for our book characters!

****These awards are the perfect companion to my Interactive Character Analysis Posters, that share the same character traits.
 This is definitely one of my favorite creations because it's engaging and holds students accountable for their thinking. It's a great way to make connections and remember all the characters we've come encountered with this year. The conversations and debates about which characters deserved which award were priceless! Some characters get "swept under the carpet" during the school year, never to be talked about it again, this is the perfect opportunity to "reintroduce" them! (Students have tracking sheets in their binders of all the character traits to keep track of characters and their traits as we "meet" them). We will hold a second ceremony at the end of the year.

Check out this new product here!

LIMITED TIME ONLY!!!  BUY ONE GET ONE FREE! For the first ten people to purchase and leave feedback, you will receive the companion Interactive Character Analysis Posters free ($6.50 value)! Just email me after you leave feedback with your TPT user name and I'll send you the freebie! Your students will LOVE honoring their favorite characters! Great to make connections, character traits, persuasive writing, speaking and listening, so many skills!
I hope you had a wonderful week! Please link up any lessons, ideas, tips, tricks, incentives, ANYTHING you do get your students motivated or excited!
Don't forget to grab my button and link back to this post!
Check out all the wonderful ideas from my friends who link up and don't forget to leave some love by commenting....we LOVE comments!
***Please include the topic in the link up with your blog name.

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