Sunday, June 30, 2013


I'm moving myself to a new apartment about 20 minutes away this week-so posts will be sparse. Happy July!

Smiles and Sunshine,

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Throwback Thursday: Interesting Interviews

Happy Thursday!

I really should be packing (I move into my new apartment next week!! :), but am procrastinating by looking at blogs and hooking (not on the corner ;).

Joining with Cara at the First Grade Parade for Throwback Thursday

This is one of my first posts from June 8, 2012:

This Monday we had a Reading/Math Share for our staff meeting (with prizes!). We were instructed to come with an activity/something to do to show and explain to our peers. 1st, 3rd and 5th were sitting at tables while 2nd and 4th walked around to 'see' all of the ideas. After about 15-20 minutes, we switched.

I wanted to share with y'all what I shared with my co-workers (we're all peers, right?). The 3rd and 5th grade teachers were really excited about my idea, and asked for the template so they could use it in their classrooms! (Which makes me feel really good since this was my first and last year at this school, and makes me feel better about myself as a teacher)

What I shared was a way to do character interviews. It's a really good way for students to think about character traits, summarizing, inferencing. The finished product looks like this:

What you do is read a story (or have the kids read a story) (this is the one I read for the's a very cute story!)

Have the students pick a character from their story. They are to 'interview' their character, asking them questions about their feelings, experiences, etc. They then have to answer the questions the way they think the character will answer the questions based on the meaning they gain from the story. Here's the kicker...they only have 4 questions!
They make a foldable and they have 4 panels to ask and answer their questions. The questions go on the outside of each flap, and the answers go on the inside of each flap.

In the center of the foldable (the part they glue down to the back paper) they draw a picture of the character they interviewed.
The kids really enjoy doing this because it is like an arts-n-crafts activity, but they still get to show their learning. You might have to be careful though...some kids get really involved with the drawing and forget about the 'interviewing'!

We did this after we finished our fairy tale unit, and I had the kids pick their favorite fairy tale character. They did such an excellent job on them and some of their questions were really creative and in-depth.

I got this idea from this book, which I HIGHLY recommend for any and all teachers. Mine in the 4-6 version, but they also have a 2-3 version as well.
This was one of my first purchases after finding out I was teaching 4th grade (most of my experience and books are in the K-1 grades), and well worth the price ($18.99 through Amazon, and I think that you get also get it through Teacher's Express (watch for their Dollar Deals!)).  The book also has some recommendations how on to use this foldable in different content areas as well. I hope you found this helpful!

I hope you enjoyed it!

Smiles and Sunshine,

Word Nerds 3


I'm hosting Chapter 3 of Word Nerds along with

Joy in the Journey
Thanks to Sabra for coming up with an awesome book choice! (Where you can link up your post)
Teaching with a Touch of Twang

 Our chapter is Making Introductions
~Words from previous weeks should remain up 
~Word Predictions:
       -Use cloze activities (what word is missing)
       -Introduce the word, then chant it. Break it into syllable parts. Have the students follow along (making sure they can see the spelling of the word)-due multiple times
       -Have the students predict what they think the word means 
       -Tell the part of speech as well-contexts it can be used in
       -Setting this up will take more time in the beginning, but it is important for students to start thinking about and connection words
~Trying Out Words:
      -Cloze activities can help with test taking skills-you use a bunch of strategies to help figure out the right word
     -The sentences need to have enough information for the students to be able to figure out the words
     -Reread sentences once you've made a guess (a good tool for everything!)
     -Use thumbs up/thumbs down for a quick assessment (can guide your teaching for the next day!)
     -Have the students try all the may fit in a few places-but we want the best choice (I hate it when they do that!)
~Primary Vocabulary Journals
     -Students add a new words to their journals
     -Use a graphic organizer that has them think about the words in many different ways (i.e Frayer Model)
                -I use Laura Candler's Vocabulary Foldable (scroll down on link!) for my kids-they like it! 
     -Model how to fill out and make good choices-will eventually become an independent task
~You can use the same steps above to introduce words in the upper grades as well-but add in sentence prediction
      - You start by reading the sentences and having the students figure out what word will go there before you introduce it.
      - This allows the students to use what they already know, and make predictions and inferences based on what they know about the topic
     -Then go into the Word Prediction, Trying Out Words and Vocab Journals
~ELL/ESL Students - have them make a connection to the word in their native language
~This will take longer at the beginning of the year, but it is an important step to building a student's vocabulary and understanding of words.

How do you introduce vocab?

Smiles and Sunshine,

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Word Nerds 1-2

I'm a little late to the party (what else is new?!) but I thought I would share my thoughts on Words Nerds, which is put together by the awesome Sabra at

Teaching with a Touch of Twang

Chapter 1-What's the Big Deal About Vocabulary Instruction
~We can't use the words correctly unless we understand it
~Words have many meanings-we need to know which meaning they're talking about
~Some meanings have many words-which one fits best/is appropriate?
~It's all through the CC (what isn't?)
~Just looking the words up in the dictionary won't help them remember
~It also doesn't reflect a true understanding of what the word means or how to use it
~Some words are more important than other to know-divided into 3 tiers-with Tier 1 being the most common and Tier 3 being subject-specific (Science/Social Studies)
~Students need to travel the step of a ladder (from having no knowledge, to having heard it, understanding meaning, etc) for each new word they learn
~Words need to be experienced multiple times
~Looking up a word doesn't help them learn it
~Students build word schema...just add it to the filing cabinet!
~Readers usually have more words/meanings than nonreaders
~They can learn new words through conversation
~Words can be learned through play-as well as direct instruction
~Most students need strateiges to help them learn new words while reading

Chapter 2-Classrooms That Foster Confidence
~Routine, Routine, Routine
~Vocabulary should be directly taught-but as a part of a whole group lesson
~Words should come from reading-Shared Reading, Small Group Reading, Text Books-and they should be encouraged to use the words in their writing
~Choose words from your Reading Program (or use the words your Reading Program tells you-like me!), as well as content area words that are important for students to know (i.e. I taught my students what siege meant while studying the American Revolution...and it turned up in our reading a few days later!)
~Have a routine to teach words, so students become familiar with the predictable rhythm and can focus on the words and their meanings

Smiles and Sunshine,

Monday, June 24, 2013

Monday Made It

Happy Monday!

It's time for Monday Made it with Tara

First off- I made it through the school year! (and getting a renewal contract-I loved not having to worry about looking for a job or packing up my room!)

Although my room looks sad now : (

So clean and empty!

I was also a busy bee this weekend as well:

That's 1 dishcloth, 7 flower coasters (one not's the same as the multi-blue/purple but with a bigger hook), and 1 star coaster.

Let's take a closer look, shall we? :)

I got the pattern for the dishcloth from this pin...It's my first hexagon! It'll probably be a gift for my sister-she's moving into a self-contained dorm (almost like an apartment) in fall with some of her friends...she'll need it!

These are for me! I'm moving into a better/nicer apartment, and I'm 'nesting'-although I haven't moved yet! The pattern can be found from this pin

These are the same as above-but with using some of my scrap yarn! It also sparked an idea for a blanket...

This is my first star! It's a little wonky-but at least it's recognizable!

Thursday's Outfit

Shirt: Burlington Coat Factory
Shorts: LOFT Outlet
Shoes: DSW

Friday's Outfit

Shirt: Maurices
Skirt: Old Navy (I found this is the store and loved it-but not in my size. A few weeks later, I found it at the Old Navy outlet in the clearance section and snapped it up!)
Shoes: Famous Footwear

Outfits will be a little more sporadic this summer...there are only so many ways I can style t-shirt and shorts! When I have something I think is cute, I'll share!

Yay summer! (Although I go back in 2 weeks for PEP camp-though it's only 3 days a week for 4 weeks!)

Smiles and Sunshine,

Friday, June 21, 2013

Building Mathmatical Comprehension 3

Welcome to Chapter 3!

I'm co-hosting with:

Teaching with a Touch of Twang
Miss Nguyen's Class

We are discussing: Making Mathematical Connections

My thoughts:

~We need to provide opportunities that "continually build upon and refine their existing background knowledge" (85)
~When we finish a 'unit', we move onto a new topic...which usually doesn't relate to the previous topic we've taught-makes it a little hard to have a good foundation and build steady bricks upon it!
~We must explicity teach how to recognize connections and how to make them-not everyone has the same prior knowledge

(SOAPBOX: here is my reading background-Background knowledge is what they know about a topic that is always correct; Prior knowledge is anything that they know about a topic(schema) it can be incorrect. Sorry if I sound preachy, but it was drilled into my head while getting my Master's and became a pet peeve when they're confused :) (END)

~We need to create lessons that are rich in Making Connections-ways for us to model as well as guided and individual practice
~We need to provide opportunities to add files to our schema filing cabinet (Thanks Debbie Miller!) and link it with previous folders
~We need to change student's negative attitudes about Math: have a discussion about it-why do they feel this way-how could we make it easier?
~Show them all the ways that we use math-you'll be surprised how much math is around us!
~Relate new knowledge to old-enhances understanding. They need to 'hook' new learning onto old-otherwise it's hard for them to construct meaning
~Really cool charts that compare strategies with good readers and good mathematicians :)
~Different kinds of math connections:
                Math to Self: when they notice connections between their life experiences and math
                Math to Math: when they link present concepts and procedures to past concepts and procedures
                Math to World: when you see math out in the world- it's EVERYWHERE! :) (very valuable  in helping recognize big ideas and themes)
~Connections are like spider-webs- "few of us notice or appreciate the beauty of spider webs. They tend to be ignored or brushed away until someone stops and points them out" (95)--i.e. in the rush to learn new material, many students forget to appreciate the beauty of what they know already.

How can we help?
~Modeling and Think-Alouds
       ~Plan properly-no more winging it! (darn ;)
       ~Relate it to your experiences/real life
       ~Use precise language
~Schema Roller-Math specific
~1-Minute Schema Determiner-Create a T-Chart
        -Left side: well-known concept
        -Right side: unfamiliar concepts
~Math Stretches
~Math Current Events
~Anchor Charts
~Use Children's Literature
~Meaningful Connections v. Distracting Connections
       (My dog needs 3 lbs of food but I only have an ounce cup v. I have a dog)

So, in a summary, use how you teach reading to help you teach math. A lot of these ideas/structures are drilled into our heads on how to teach reading...but not as much with math. By helping the students make connections between math and life, they are more likely to be invested and lose the negative attitudes that are usually associated with math.
Use the organizer above to help your students track their connections! Just click on the picture to download. :)

Smiles and Sunshine,

get the InLinkz code

Thursday, June 20, 2013


I'm linking up with Joy in the Journey and Compassionate Teacher for their Tricks on a Thursday  Linky.

Today's Topic: Manipulatives!

I previously blogged about my manipulatives here

But as a refresher...

This is what my storage looks like right now:
I group like things together.

Now that I know that I will be here for at least another year (hoping it's more!), I am reorganizing everything (prepare for a very different class organization system next year!).

First stop: Dollar Store!

I picked up some cute baskets/storage in my colors, and have been slowly going through my manipulatives-getting rid of what I didn't use, what I have doubles of and what I don't think I need.

The baskets:
They go well with my book luggage (look behind!) as well as the baskets I already have from Really Good Stuff (Large Rectangular Book) and my semi-Under the Sea theme.

They hold a good amount too...I was able to fit 15 flats in there, 11+ decks of cards, and all my pattern blocks (after I got rid of the ones that were icky). Plus, I can stack them on top of one another and fit 4 in a small space.

Next year, all the math manipulatives will be stored on one section of the shelves. I've already started:
It's a work-in-progress!

Wednesday's Outfit:

Shirt: Old Navy
Skirt/Tank: Target
Shoes: Zappos

 Saw a very nice apartment yesterday...definitely applied-just waiting for a call of yay or nay! I hope I get it...I think it would be perfect!

UPDATE: I got the apartment!!! I sign the lease on Tuesday, and can start moving in July 1st. I'll probably take my time moving (meaning I'll pay 2 rents in July), since my lease isn't up until the end of the month, and I'll want to do most of it on  my own. Now, I just need to find some boxes :)

Smiles and Sunshine,

Some cool giveaways:

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Building Mathematical Comprehension 1-2

Happy Reading Bloggy Buds!

I'm a part of the Building Mathematical Comprehension Book Study (by Laney Sammons) and my chapter is coming up!

I thought I would share my thoughts on the first two chapters.

Chapter 1:

~The strategies we use for teaching reading should apply to ALL subjects-especially Math
~Good readers can be good mathematicians-they use the same skills
~We should be teaching Math the same way we teach Reading...the skills/strategies for learning are mirrored
~Need to explicitly model each new skill-going through the steps of introducing, explanation, practicing together and independent practice-just like reading
~Comprehension strategies for reading should be thought of as thinking strategies, as they apply to all learning and content areas
~Just like reading, they are thinking strategies that are good for before, during and after when doing Math
~Use the 4 C's - Conception, Connection, Construction, Comprehension

Chapter 2:

~Vocab instruction is just as important in Math as it is in Reading
~Teach Math Vocab just as you would teach Reading Vocab
~Choosing which words to teach/know is important-there are 3 types: Words already in oral language vocab; Words not in oral language vocab-but are labels for concepts they know; Words not in oral language that are new concepts
~Make it fun!
~Journal writing helps reinforce vocab learning-as well as helping synthesize/retain info
~Word Walls are note just for Math!
~Graphic Organizers are not just for Reading!
~Games are great tools for learning/reviewing (can I just say: duh!)

Chapter 3 soon to come!

Smiles and Sunshine,

Workshop Wednesday: Pinterest Writing

Time for another Workshop Wednesday: Pinterest Edition!
This week I'm going to focus on Writing.

Sooooo want to make this for next'll go along well with my pencil and VOICES board (providing I update my VOICES board next year...oops!)
It totally does not look this neat now...ahh, the joys of Teaching :)

I really want to add a free choice writing center for some early finishers...this would be perfect for one of the choices!

Same with these...part of a free choice

I already have the 1st one (2nd is on the wishlist!) and put into a cute binder. Don't know where I'll find the time...but time will be found!!!

Oh look! What my VOICES board should have looked like! ;)

What are some of your ideas for next year?

Monday's Outfit:

Sweater/Shirt: Maurices
Shorts: LOFT Outlet
Shoes: Payless

Went to see an apartment's on a definitely maybe list! It'll be a little cozy with all my things ~ but it should fit all 7 of my bookcases (yes, yes, I know...I have an issue -  which is why I now have a Kindle!)

 I'm seeing another one this afternoon-a little bigger. We'll see how it goes before I decide, but right now I'm leaning towards the one today (1bdrm (M) v 2 bdrm (today)).

Tuesday's Outfit:
Sweater/Skirt: Fashion Bug
Shirt: Kohls
Shoes: Amazon

Smiles and Sunshine,

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

After Field Day

Hi Bloggy Buds! Long time, no write! :)

Things have been a teensy bit hectic with the end of the year coming (Friday!!!!), as well as searching for an apartment and doing end of year paper work.

I wanted to share with you what I did on Field Day- ours is a 1/2 day, so we still have the afternoon.

Except this field day got cut short because of rain...which screwed everything up. No biggies....I brought up a couple of Scholastic Virtual Field Trips and waited until things got back to normal :)

When we got back to our regularly scheduled program, I had some fun activities planned.

(FYI-our field day was last Thursday...I had just finished a 'theme' and didn't want to start a new one with 6 days left~so this was the introduction to what we would do for the rest of the year)

I started out by introducing Greek Myths. I have both units from Nicole Shelby, and we started out with a PowerPoint that she has for free through her blog.

OMG! The kids loved this. I then handed out the packet of stories I got from this unit:

Each day, the kids read one or two stories and do the activities that go along with it.They are loving it and starting to make such great connections. :)

Next, I introduced this project:

We are doing this one together, and I'm reading the book to them every day.  They love the fact I'm reading to them...(something I don't usually do-time constraints :( They're having a lot of fun with this too.

There you go...two fun activities that keeps them learning until the end of the year, but are different than what we've done before. Go check these out!

Before/During Field Day:

Shirt: Old Navy
Tank: Target
Capris: Kohls
Sneakers: ?

I also threw on our school shirt (everyone got one...they're so cute!) over this.

Immediately After (as soon as I could change!!)
Jeans: JCP
Shoes: Target

Have I ever mentioned that I hate sneakers? Therefore, as soon as I could, I changed into jeans (glad I did-it was cold and icky that day!) and switched into flats (now my feet can breathe!). I'm much happier with this outfit than the one above :)

Friday's Outfit:
Another cool day (June-what's your problem?!)

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

Don't forget that Google Reader is going away (how could you it's everywhere!)- So I've added a BlogLovin Button (unless you're like me and click on each blog from Dashboard)

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Smiles and Sunshine,