Friday, February 27, 2015

Five for Friday

Happy Friday!

This week is all about my vacation :) February vacation is all about the errands and appointments for me...getting stuff done that I don't normally do on a regular day.


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First, I made sure everything was ready when I left school last week-espcially since I have a workshop day the first Monday back!

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I had my car looked at-oil change, tire rotation and fluid top off and checks.
One does not simply travel anywhere without a Kindle/book :)
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I got a hair appointment-it was time! I hadn't cut it since August!

A photo posted by Smiles & Sunshine (@smilesandsunshineteacher) on

I also posted it on Facebook-and then my family proceeded to corrupt the post with arguing over who would get the 5 inches (the males have some baldness issues). Only my family...

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I also started on my next garland for my classroom-here is a sneak peek!

A photo posted by Smiles & Sunshine (@smilesandsunshineteacher) on

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Tomorrow, I'll be hauling my tush to Providence for the New England Blogger Meetup!
I'm nervous and excited all in one! It'll be a couple hours drive (if I don't get lost :P ), so I'll have some time to look forward to it!

Smiles and Sunshine,

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

My Teacher Hero

Happy Wednesday!

I'm linking up with
Luckeyfrog's Lilypad
for her My Teacher Hero linky.
my teacher hero logo
My first teacher hero is my 2nd grade teacher, Mrs. Carr (who is still going strong!) She made learning seem like so much fun, that I knew I wanted to be a teacher. I actually got to work with her (and a few other teachers I had had) my 2nd year out of school-I taught part-time Kindergarten (covering a year long maternity leave) for a year. It was fun, but a little weird (for both me and them!)!

My second teacher hero is Mr. Tiano, who was my 5th grade teacher (and first male teacher!). He's the one who did the Explorer game that I know do with my kids. It was pretty impressionable that I remember all these years later-something that I hope I'm doing for my kids!

And lastly, (but certainly not least!), all the teachers in the blogging world that have inspired me to try new things, to recognize that I do know what's best for my kids, and introduced my to new ideas, thoughts, and products! Thank you! :)

Who are your teacher heroes?

Smiles and Sunshine,

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

NonFiction Text Features

I like to teach NonFiction Text Structures and NonFiction Text Features fairly close together-we spend a lot of time talking about nonfiction when I do! (Although my Guided Reading groups do get into it a little earlier-well, a lot-I talk about it with them in September! :)

Since we had just finished up talking about text structures, I thought it would be a perfect time to introduce them to text features.

This is a chart from a few years ago. But I folded it up and revealed them one by one to talk about it. I don't save many charts-but this one took a TON of time to do. Plus, my kids really surprised me with their knowledge of the text features!
After discussing it, I gave them a Scholastic News-which is perfect for short, nonfiction text.

I had them label all the text features that they noticed.
And then, to tie it into the text structures, I had them write me a paragraph for each 'article' saying what they thought the text structure was and why.
The next day, we added in the text features entries to our notebooks (we use Nicole Shelby's stuff).

I made some modifications to have my students get a little more information out of it, and have their notebooks as a better resource.
After spending some more time with some visual reminders, I decided on a fun way to assess them-as well as sneak in some information writing!

While the kids were at special, I created an example to show them what I wanted them to do.
I had italicized, glossary, sidebar, heading, picture and caption

They were to create their own informational paragraph, and showcase at least 5 different text features. I told them they could do 5-6 different ones and showed them the examples on mine.

I had pulled some quick read science books (easy reads for most of my kids).

They each picked a book and got right to work (and OMG, they were so quite and on task (for the most part :) for almost an hour!)

Some friends (who are not 'idea' writers) needed some help with their paragraph planning, so I had them tell me what they wanted to include, and I wrote notes for them.
I starred the ones for this friend that needed to be done first
This way, they had a plan of what they wanted to include written down, but they still needed to write out their sentences and add in their text features. It worked pretty well! (For those who wanted help...I had some who could have used my help but chose not to take it :( )

These turned out pretty well! I love how each example is a reflection of the student. :)

This is definitely something I'll do to brainstorm other ways to do similar things... ;)

Smiles and Sunshine,

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

The Real Teachers of Blog County

I'm joining with:

For the
This month is teacher supply hoarding.

My favorite teacher supply item that I hoard (besides books ...we won't even go there!)


I use post-its a TON with my class.

We use them to take quick formative assessments,
mark our reading, write little notes, keep track of our assignments and more!

I do put them on the supply list for the kids to get.

But since they usually run out about halfway through the year, I have my own stash for them.
I also have quite the stash, placed randomly around them room.
This is on top of my desk-and yes, the ladybugs are post-its too...bad ones that don't stick very well, but cute!

This is in one of my bigger desk drawers

This is in my little desk drawer

This is by my guided reading table.
I have another desk drawer full of cute post- that don't stick well, and...

I also have a pad (or two!) by the mailboxes-which is by the phone and where I take attendance, as well as by my computer.

Clearly there are issues there :)

What teacher supply do you hoard?

Smiles and Sunshine,

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Equivalent Fractions

Although we had a snow day and TWO delays last week-which led me to only teaching math TWICE, we did get in some fun with equivalent fractions. (And we're getting awfully close to a repeat this week...)
I started off by dividing the kids into 5 groups and handing them a stack of fraction cards. I told them to order the fractions from greatest to least and just had them go at it. (For more info, see The Teacher Studio-this came from her fraction pack).

I didn't give them any more direction than that, I wanted to see what they would do.

Now, my kids do know about equivalent fractions, we've talked about it as part of our daily calendar, so they knew they were likely to come across a few.

It was so interesting to watch their process and hear their discussions! I just wandered around, taking pictures and listening in :)
This group was trying to organize by sorting out the pieces into groups of fractions...

This group worked together wonderfully! They started by pulling out the halves, wholes and then tried to find more equivalent fractions by drawing models. They didn't finish, but their math talk and collaboration was amazing!

This group just worked one card at a time from the stack, reorganizing as needed.
OK-some long and boring background before the fun stuff.

My math block was also split this day-the first Friday of the month we have a school wide assemblies, so our specials are earlier and shorter. We did a little bit of writing in the first 10 minutes, and then did the centers after special-for an hour. Some of the kids finished everything and some could have used more time.

I will say that I had intended this to be a two day activity with more centers, but with all our snow days and delays (and the need to get into the math book-MiF starts them off with adding and subtracting fractions with unlike denominators!), I cut it down to one.
Our math notebooks were going to be one center, and we set it up the day before. We also did a little bit of math writing in the margins-I showed them the equation for creating equivalent fractions. The math notebooks came from Mrs. C's Classroom

Now onto fun stuff!

The next day, we did a round of centers that all had to do with equivalent fractions.

I set up three centers. Math Notebooks (we had glued in the entries the day before so they could work in them), Fraction Bars, and Pattern Blocks.

I set up the directions on the SMART Board.
Our first center was Math Notebooks.

I had pulled three entries for the kids to work on .
Modeling with bars

Modeling with circles

This one was fun-they had to find the equivalent fractions and slip them in the pockets.
Most of the kids were able to do this fairly self-sufficiently. The one they needed help on was the sorting one. We did go over the answers at the end :)

I also had the kids working with pattern blocks to find equivalents.

And using some fraction bars as well-it was fun seeing how they organized this!
Some of them just went for it, and some of them took the time to organize them into the wholes and work from there.

I had them record all answers in their math books-which I checked during work time, and which will also be a notebook grade at the end of the trimester.

They did very nicely! Like always, some needed more direction than others, some took off with it and challenged themselves, and some just did the minimum.

The very best part (to me), is that while they were 'playing' with the materials, they were creating equivalent fractions and talking about it. Hopefully, this will help them remember better!

After all, when we finally get into the math book, we'll be adding and subtraction with unlike denominators-they'll need their equivalent fractions then! (Really, Math in Focus? Really? You couldn't just stick to the CC?)

Smiles and Sunshine,

Monday, February 9, 2015

Monday Made It

Happy Monday! I have yet another long weekend, due to the buckets of snow currently falling on New England...

I've been making good progress on my coworker's blanket-I'm almost halfway done! 

I had to change my door decor as well-I think I jinxed us by making so many snowflakes! :P

I made this one a little more seasonal. :)

You could see the progress of this fun project on Instagram.
Plus, Penguin has something to say...

I've also been spending some time working on some additions to my Explorer Articles- worksheets and organizers to go with them!

It's keeping the kids a little more focused on the main points, and will hopefully make it easier for them to remember and succeed on the test!
Since we are having yet another winter storm (#4 in 2 1/2 weeks!), I decided to make a sweet treat (plus, I had to use up my eggs before they went bad :)
Here's to no more snow!

Smiles and Sunshine,