Tuesday, April 30, 2013

African Violet

Linking up today with Literate & Stylish and The Modern Austen for their Patone Color Challenge!

literate & stylish

Today's color was African Violet...one of my favorite colors!

Tank & Sweater: Target
Pants: NY & Co
Shoes: Payless

Smiles and Sunshine,

Monday, April 29, 2013


Linking up today with Literate & Stylish and The Modern Austen for their Patone Color Challenge!

literate & stylish
Today's color: Emerald!

Grey Sweater & Pants: JCP
Sweater: Maurices
Tank: Target
Shoes: DSW

Smiles and Sunshine,

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Workshop Wednesday: Card Games

Time for another Workshop Wednesday with Jivey!
Today's Topic: Math Card Games!

There are two different games that I have taught my students that they love.

The first one: Addition War!

It's play like regular war. Two (or three!) students slap down cards, and the first one to add them up (correctly!) gets to keep the cards. It's a good way to get aromaticity with their addition facts (and yes, we still need to practice that in 4th grade.).

The second one is Multiplication War!

It's played just like addition war, but they multiply the numbers instead.

For both of these games, I tell the kids that all of the face cards are worth 11.

My kids LOVE it when I put this into their center for math rotations (usually when I don't have another center prepared I think they need a refresher on their facts).

They love it so much, that sometimes I need to take it away because they get so excited and noisy that it makes the group working with me not concentrate on me!

Quick, easy, low-prep yet fun...what more could you ask from a center?!

What are some of you favorite card games to do with kids?

Smiles and Sunshine,

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Sharing is Caring

I hope y'all are enjoying your week! I'm definitely enjoying sleeping late each day :)

I wanted to share with you an awesome giveaway that is going on.

Have y'all heard of Terri at The Creative Apple?

She makes the most AWESOME math centers-all aligned to the 4th grade CC. (Very helpful!)

Right now, she is holding a giveaway for her Operations and Algebraic Thinking Pack, as well as an accompanying Choice Board. Go over to check it out...there's not much time left!

While you're there, be sure to scroll back through old posts-she has super ideas on Math organization and assessment...as well as much more!

Smiles and Sunshine,

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Fourth Grade Common Core Resources

Hi Peeps!

While I'm basking away at vacation (I'm really just sleeping late every day :), (those of you who are jealous...our last day of school is June 21st...39 Days left!), I thought I would share with you a cool new resource that I found to teach to the Common Core.

The Fourth Grade Common Core Workbook is out!  You can find it at “Fourth Grade Common Core Resources”.


This baby is packed with posters, center, worksheet...all with some very cute clipart! Just looking at the preview made me want to pull out my cardstock and start making centers! Even better, it is all organized by standard-so you don't have to try and figure out which standard your worksheets follow! The worksheets have the standard on the bottom...easy to figure out which standard, and which students is struggling with what!

So, hurry up and pick this baby up-it will be super useful!

Smiles and Sunshine,

Friday, April 19, 2013

Fun Friday

Happy Friday!

And for some of my other friends (especially my staties) Happy Vacation!! :)

Since we will not be in school for Earth Day, I wanted to do a little something for the class, but was still educational at the same time.

So I read them one of my favorite books. :)

Do you know what it is?

Some of the kids were able to guess!

It's The Lorax!

I read the book to the kids, and then explained to them what I wanted them to do.

They needed to pick 3 sentences, one from the beginning, one from the middle and one from the end and illustrate them.

They were to (hopefully) focus on how the setting changed throughout the story, and recreate with their own illustrations.

They also had their pick of Reader Response (I had three different ones to choose from), as well as filling out a making connections sheet.

All of these cool ideas came from the Lorax Mini Unit I got from Amanda Nickerson at One Extra Degree (before the Seuss fiasco).

I only had two copies of the books, so the kids had to share the book and pick out their own sentences.

 They did pretty well doing that!  (They rotated between doing the Reader Response, Making Connections and doing their sentences)

Here are some of their pictures (not the best ones mind you, they are still working on those...these are the friends who think that this is 4th grade work, even after I encouraged them to add more detail.)
Another Fun Friday lesson that keeps them working in interesting ways, using picture books to teach!

Today's Outfit

Sweaters: Maurices
Tank: Target
Jeans: JCP
Shoes: Kohls

It turned out to be pretty muggy today-so the pink sweater came off pretty quickly. It also made me wish that I had worn a skirt!

Have a great weekend (or vacation!)

Smiles and Sunshine,

Thursday, April 18, 2013


Linking up with Mix and Match Fashion What I Wore to Work!

Sweater & Shirt: NY & Co
Pants: Kohls
Tank & Shoes: Target

We did a density lab (layer different liquids), so a little more casual than normal...just in case I spilled! ( I didn't! :)

Shirt: Burlington Coat Factory
Tank: Target
Pants: NY & Co
Shoes: Payless

So glad spring is here!

Smiles and Sunshine,

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Workshop Wednesday-Writing

Happy Wednesday!

I've started to look forward to Wednesdays (besides being the halfway mark of the week), so see all the wonderful ideas from Jivey's Workshop Wednesday linkys.

Today's topic is our favorite writing mini-lesson. Well, my favorite things to teach in writing is....


I love how creative the kids can be-and although it's important that they have all those lessons on mechanics and how to write certain pieces-I love teaching them the freedom of poetry.

One of my favorite lessons this year was teaching them how to write haikus.

I downloaded some lessons from the SMART Exchange to get started. I emphasized that haikus were usually about nature, and that they have a very specific 5 syllable, 7 syllable, 5 syllable structure.

Then, we brainstorm ideas/words that would help us write our own haikus (We did this when winter was hanging on-so we brainstormed Spring words in hopes that it would be here soon!)

I asked them what words (1-2) that they thought of when I said the word "Spring".

They were then sent off to write their own! I told them that they didn't have to use the words on the board, that was just to get them started.

They wrote on about spring (my requirement) and then I had them write another about anything they wanted.

Here are my favorites on Spring:

Ignore the desk disaster :)

What's your favorite writing topic to teach?

Smiles and Sunshine,

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Social Studies Foldables

Lately in Social Studies, we have been learning about our state and how it was settled. It has slowly moved into learning about Colonial Life...which will transition into the American Revolution (SO excited!).

Here are some of the foldables we've been working on.

This one has some of the first settlements

We did do a few more, but I either totally forgot to take pictures, or they disappeared somewhere.

Yesterday's Outfit

Top & Pants: Kohls
Shoes: Burlington Coat Factory

Yesterday was Oobleck Day in 4th grade, to introduce States of Matter. Some of them had some really good insights on Oobleck's behavior. It was messy...but fun!

Today's Outfit

Sweater: Target
Shirt: Maurices
Pants: JCP
Shoes: Famous Footwear

Smiles and Sunshine,

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Motivate That Child!

Happy Saturday Peeps!

I'm linking up today with Joanne from Head Over Heels For Teaching for her Spark Student Motivation Saturdays.

So I have this one, difficult-to-get-know, doesn't-do-the-homework, doesn't-participate, turns-in-crappy-work student.

It's been a struggle to get this student to take his time and do 4th grade work and participate.

But we've turned a corner.

He is slowly turning in more thoughtful work.

He is slowly raising his hand more often. (and the whole class applauds him when he does)

And I (GASP!) even got a homework paper from him this week!

What did I do.... (and some of you will probably not approve)


Yep, I'm bribing this student to do his work correctly and to take his time.

See, he LOVES to read. If he has a really good day, he can take one of my books home for the night (something that no one else is allowed to do).

I even took it a step further. I hand him a book club catalog, tell him to pick anything under $6, and he is consistently has good days and turns in quality work, he will earn the book he picked out.

(I buy the book and hold onto it, so he can see it-which motivates him to do better).

So, I'm bribing this kid to do his work, which is awful-but it's the only thing I've found. He didn't want anything else-talks don't work, extra recess doesn't work, computer time doesn't work.

I recommend, as a last resort...bribery.

But hey, this kid is managing to show proof of learning (and I kind of think that to him-this whole thing is some kind of game...but he is super hard to read and get to know), and he will manage to pass 4th grade-despite his efforts not to turn in any work.

So what works for you?

Go link up!

Smiles and Sunshine,

Oh, and Jivey is having an awesome 300 follower giveaway...go check her out!

Friday, April 12, 2013

: D

So this happened...

I have my contract for next year!!  For the FIRST TIME, I will be in the same place in the same grade (more than likely the same grade). That contract has already been signed and sent back in-I'm not taking any chances!

I also had an informal observation today (we need to have 3 informal and 1 formal....and totally was not prepared for him to come in today!)

When my principal came in, I was reading this to the kids:
One of my favorites! I picked this book because I had read it to them before, and I thought it was perfect for the skill I wanted them to work on....

Writing a good Reader Response!

I've noticed lately that their reader responses where really kind of sucky (I think....because.... done!), so I wanted to model how to do a good one, and strategies that they could use to help them.

After I finished reading, I modeled the process of doing a reader response (with some help from them!)

The question we had to answer was: Do you think SkippyJon Jones is imaginative?

I first modeled how to write part of the question as my first part of my answer (I think SkippyJon Jones is very imaginative...).

Then I modeled (and asked) the kids some details on how to support the answer. We looked back in the book, did some inferencing, used the book to help us with our spelling. We even talked a little about using quotation marks when we used the author's words in the response!

When we finished our response, it was time for them to practice. Yesterday, I sat down with a stack of picture books and came up some questions for each book.

I typed them up and cut them into little strips. Then I put the little strips into individual envelopes and matched then with their book.

All set up and ready to go after recess!
Each book had at least 2 responses (with the exception of It's Mine!), and some had 3 or 4.

I spread these out on the floor, with the different questions above each book. I only made 5 of each question, so once the envelope is empty, they can't use that question (or book) anymore.

They take the questions and glue it into the organizer I made up:

There are also two boxes and paragraphs on the back-for a total of 4.

I sent them on their way after explaining the directions (and then my principal left), and went to work with one of my LD friends-I read the story to him so he could focus on the details. We then worked out his response (with some prompting!).

I like having the 4 spaces for questions- I can differentiate the amount of questions each friend gets (Lightbulb moment in the middle of the practice time!!).

As students finish their responses, I check them over, and we talk about what they wrote, if they could add anything-like details, concluding sentence, checking spelling, etc.

They go onto the next book or question (I told them that they could use 2 questions for 1 book-or choose 4 different books).

They really loved it and I saw a nice improvement in their responses...we'll see if it lasts!

Books I used:
Swimmy; A Color of His Own; A Chair For My Mother

Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs; Spinky Sulks; It's Mine!

Strega Nona; Brave Irene; Doctor De Soto

Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile; Officer Buckle and Gloria; Shrek!

The Hello, Goodbye Window

Onto the : D part of the lesson....I was standing in the copy room making copies for Monday when the principal came and told me what a GREAT lesson it was!

He said it was close to perfection-the kids were engaged and we were obviously working on a  skill that they needed. I had been a little worried because it wasn't 'fidelity to the program'-although they will use what they learned while doing the program.

(I should mention that I came up with this idea yesterday afternoon-about 1/2 hour before school ended. I came up with all the questions (after reading each book, of course! :) and made everything last night. I didn't mention this to my principal...let him bask in my brilliance love the lesson unaware ;)

Since this has been such an awesome week, I'm giving you the questions and the response sheet for free! (and since you read such a long post!)

Today's Outfit:

Sweater & Jeans: JCP
Shoes: Payless

I wanted to wear this sweater once more before the weather turned too warm...well, it was a good thing I did because it snowed today! (less than an inch-but it's all rainy, sleety and icy). Our principal actually told us to go home as soon as possible because it's yucky out (that's when he told me about my lesson).

Have an awesome weekend! I'll be working on report cards. : /

Smiles and Sunshine,

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Choosing a Math Program

As we move toward full implementation of the Common Core, my district has started looking at new math programs for us to pilot (since our current program isn't made anymore, doesn't align anywhere and is basically awful)

I'm on the math committee to help choose a new program (SO excited!), and yesterday we had our first meeting.  We split into two groups, one group to focus on the goals of what we want (for our district and CC), and my group focused on creating a rubric for us to use to evaluate the program.

Our Curriculum Director has found a few programs for us to look at, but he is open to more suggestions if we here of some.

Our list so far is:

Go Math!
Math in Focus
Math Stepping Stones

Questions for you...

Have you used any of these? What do you think of it?
Any suggestions for other programs?

We're going to get a 1st and 4th grade set to evaluate for each of the programs, and then narrow it down to two for us to pilot.

Wednesday's Outfit (a warmer day!)

Sweater and Shirt: Maurices
Pants: JCP
Shoes: Zappos/Endless (one of those two!)

Today's Outfit (not so warm :(

Sweater: NY & Co
Shirt: Maurices
Pants: Kohls
Shoes: Endless


Smiles and Sunshine,

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Workshop Wednesday: Guided Reading Groups

Time for Workshop Wednesday with Jivey!
Today's topic is Guided Reading Groups.

To organize myself, I have a binder (I'm a binder-ho....are you surprised? ;) :
See more about my binder here
The binder is tabbed for different sections.

When I made the binder, I thought I would have 4 groups, but I really only have 2...so two tabs go unused.

Behind the tabs, I have their anecdotal recording sheets for each student in the group.
These hold the small post-its...I got it from Guided Reading:Making It Work

One child's sheet:

I tend to write in cursive (I'm faster this way), as well as dating each note. I tend to write my observations, how their tone is, expression, if they're running through periods, etc.  We're focusing more on reading with fluency and expression, so I take notes on those things.

Since I only have two groups, I alternate days when I see them (I spend the first 1/2 of their 'free choice' going through the grade level material with my LD kids-helping them with the reading so they can focus on the strategy of the week).

Right now, we are both finishing up chapter books, so they had some extra time to read the chapters I assigned, as well as answering the comprehension questions. Sooooo, I kind of play it by ear and don't plan see what each group needs to focus on that day.

We formed our groups by using their MAP scores at the beginning of the year. LBD (Literacy By Design...our reading series), has benchmark books-but only one per level.

I benchmark my students at least once a quarter, more if I think they are ready to move.

I have their names on little stickies (a little post-it cut in half), they I move through my folder
Idea from The Teaching Thief

This way, I have a simple, easy to carry folder that lets me know where my kids are at a glance. I have another binder (surprise! ;) that holds their benchmark tests, end of unit tests and MAP graphs.

I tend to leave everything I need stacked together on the back table (where I meet with my groups...no fun horseshoe table for me....of course, I can just swivel my chair around and 'walk' it backward to the table :)

My stack...all ready to go!

How go do Guided Reading?  Link up with Jivey!!

Monday's Outfit
Sweater & Pants: JCP
Shirt: NY & Co
Tank: Target
Shoes: DSW

Tuesday's Outfit

Sweater & Tank: Target
Shirt: Kohls
Pants: NY & Co
Shoes: Payless

It's starting to warm up...thank you Spring!!

Smiles and Sunshine,

Monday, April 8, 2013

Monday Made It

Happy Monday!

We only have one more Monday left before it's April Vacation! (and I'll be apartment hunting! :)

Time for Tara's Monday Made It

School Made Its:

My anchor charts needed some sprucing up- and a way to stay up easier and a way for me to quickly add to it. Enter....Glitter Clips!
So pretty!

Close up view...it's actually purple and pink

In use!

 First, I hot glued a tack to the back of the clothespin. Then, I used my finger to smear white glue all over the clothespin. After that, I dragged it through the glitter pile I had on a piece of paper. A few days after they were complete dry, I sprayed it with a finishing spray so glitter wouldn't come off.

I've loved using them so far...it's much easier to add anchor charts now!

I also made Center cards for the whiteboard, so I don't have to continue to write the center names on the board. Now, I just have to write the number of the task card!

 The icons on the center cards match the icons that are on the task cards (as does the font :)

Home Made It:

 I also have something that I've been working on for about a month and a half. You've seen the baby blankets that I've made for some co-workers...well, I decided it was time for me to make one that was for me!

It's still a work in progress, and it's about halfway done. It's so nice, cozy and warm that I love working on it.

Close up View
 I hope you enjoyed my Monday Made Its!

Smiles and Sunshine,