Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Snow Day and Mentor Texts!

Guess what? We actually did have a snow day today! It's April-freakin-9th...yet I got to stay home all day today.

"How much snow did you get?" I can hear you asking...so let me show you.

From my bedroom window...
Notice how you can still see the street? And the grass? And the neighbor's driveway? We really didn't get that much snow. But I'm not complaining! A snow day is always appreciated.

But it's back to the real world tomorrow. So, since I am back on the work train tomorrow, I want to link up with Amanda and Stacia for the Must Read Mentor Text linky!

This week's theme is Language Arts!

Our district has really been highlighting mentor texts in many of our PDs about writing. In fact, they highly encourage us to use mentor texts at the beginning of each writing unit we start. When I started teaching, that wasn't something I had ever thought of.

But when I learned about mentor texts and how to use them, it made perfect sense! So now we start out each unit learning from published authors about how to write...

We usually start with an anchor chart like this:

This is our anchor chart for Slice of Life writing - we also call it Personal Narrative. The 3 texts I like to use for mentor texts are:

by Jane Yolen
by Julie Brinckloe
by Patricia Polacco

I love all three of these books because they are great examples of Slice of Life writing - they tell a small story with lots of detail and amazing descriptions. Each one is a memory (or memory-like) from the author's childhood. I usually do this in the beginning of the year...and the kids are riveted to the stories because they are so well-written.

Plus, the kids get a great example of how their Slice of Life writing will look when they are done. :-) It really helps them to write with a product in mind and to have a great example to learn from!

Make sure you head over to share your top picks for mentor texts!

Monday, April 8, 2013

Yay for You! A Winner!

While I am sitting here waiting on the *possibility* of a snow day tomorrow, I picked a winner for my little giveaway!

Drumroll please!!! And the winner is....

Ofelia P!

I will be sending you some emails with your Starbucks and TPT giftcards!

Thank you so much to everyone who entered!

Keep your fingers crossed for my first (and hopefully only) snow day of the year!

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Quadrilateral Fun!

This is one of my favorite geometry activities! I look forward to using it every year. I have used this activity (or one like it) to introduce quadrilaterals to my class and help them to start determining the attributes of certain quadrilaterals.

First, I hand each team of a two a bag with the shape cards in it. I tell them to sort the shapes in some way that makes sense to both of them. (I cut them apart ahead of time.)

They could sort in any way they wanted, as long as they could explain it to me. Except a category that was "shapes with 4 sides." Because they all had 4 sides. But you know I still had to say that to several teams..."A group won't work if ALL the shapes are in it, right?" Anyway...I digress.

They sorted their shapes and then recorded them on this graphic organizer.

(This pic is old. The new graphic organizer has much more room!)

Most of the categories focused on names of the shapes that they knew, like rectangles and squares. But some teams dug a little deeper and found shapes with parallel sides, different types of angles and some started looking for shapes with sides that were all the same length, all different lengths and some sides the same.

This was a great way to assess what they already knew, and helped me to plan for next steps in my instruction on quadrilaterals.

If teaching quadrilaterals is coming up on your calendar, you might find this resource useful! You can pick it up at my Teachers Pay Teachers store. It includes several pages of quadrilateral shape cards, the graphic organizer above AND a graphic organizer to sort by shape name, and two different Venn diagrams for comparing quadrilateral attributes. It has recently been updated to include a reference page for students to keep track of their learning and a quiz to assess their understanding! (I have also added answer keys.) Included in this product are several ideas for use in the classroom and references to the Common Core standards addresses. Click the picture below or right {here} to grab yourself a copy!

If you are studying triangles, then you could use the Triangles Sort in the same way! Click the picture or {here} to check it out.

AND if you manage to squeeze both quadrilaterals and triangles in, you can save some money and grab both in the Shape Sort Bundle!

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Some News...With a Giveaway

As you may have guessed from my post title, I have some interesting news to share!

Our school found out this week that we will be the recipient of Title 1 funds starting next school year. We have hovered around the "magic" number of percentage of free lunch for years and this year we finally bumped up enough to receive Title funds. As you can imagine, this news is exciting, but also kind of stressful when we all think about what we need to get done and in place for next year! Hopefully, we will be hiring some teachers in the near future to alleviate some teachers having split grade levels next year. (I taught a 4/5 last year, and it nearly killed me folks!)

Along with the news of Title 1 came our assignments for next year. My principal has decided to move me to 3rd grade next year...which was not my first choice but I am trying to come to terms with it. I have always taught 4th or 5th, so I suppose it's about time for a change. I am lucky enough to be teaching with an amazing colleague next year and that's the silver lining that I will need to be positive and make it work!


I was having a major pity party earlier in the day people. MAJOR. While I was putting in my latest order to Scholastic, it hit me. My classroom library is an intermediate library. Almost everything I have in my room is intermediate oriented. I think I'll even need smaller chairs! Not to mention that I have been teaching in our little intermediate wing of the building for 9 years...these folks are like my family and when I have to move rooms they will be across the world! (Or so it seems...)

In the midst of my GINORMOUS pity party, I hopped on my computer and started looking at blogs. And I was instantly reminded that no matter what I am teaching, I have a whole network of amazing educators at my fingertips to help me! Blog-stalking re-energized my teaching this year, and I can only imagine the awesome things I will find to give me a boost next year.

I know that my summer is going to be spent blog stalking away for all your fabulous ideas to make my 3rd grade classroom an amazing place to grow and learn!

So to say thank you (in advance!), I'm having a quick little giveaway! You can enter until tomorrow night at midnight to win a $15 TPT gift certificate and a $10 Starbucks card. Just follow the blog and leave a comment telling me your favorite grade to teach and why!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, April 1, 2013

Currently...I'm Getting Back on The Blog!

Ok folks. I know it's been a ridiculously long time since I've posted anything. 2 months? OY! 

So I figure...what better way to jump back on the bandwagon than Farley's Currently? Hopefully, I can keep up blogging the rest of the week and fill everyone in on some of the craziness that has been my life, but for now, Currently is the way to go!

Listening: I just discovered "How I Met Your Mother," and I'm a little addicted! Luckily, they have 7 seasons on Netflix so I can get all caught up...

Loving: The weather here can be pretty volatile during the beginning parts of spring, but this week has been particularly wonderful in terms of weather....who knows if it will continue to be nice, but I'm loving it while it lasts!

Thinking: The week after Spring Break (which starts tomorrow at my school) tends to be pretty productive and focused for some reason. I'm working on ways to capitalize on that!

Wanting: I think some flip-flops and dressier sandals are calling my name!

Needing: Maybe I watched too much HIMYM over Spring Break? Because my house still looks like a tornado hit my living room....and kitchen...and sewing room...and... ok you get the picture. My house is a wreck!

Advice: I was really nervous to start blogging and I spent a lot of time trying to write the perfect blog post. Even though quality is important, getting started is even more important! If you don't start, no one will benefit from the great ideas you have to share. Once you get started, (or restarted in my case), it's easier to get into a rhythm and you will love your blog more and more. In fact, you will start to miss it when it has been too long...ahem...I'm looking in my own direction here.

There it is folks...I'm jumping back into the blogging world! Enjoy Currently and don't forget to go link up.