July Currently

Once again, I am joining Farley's Oh' Boy 4th Grade's Currently Linky. I love reading everyone's Currently! It is a new addiction! :)

Listening: I am listening to my wonderful husband mowing the lawn. The outside of the house is his baby. In fact, one day I even asked him if I could help him out by mowing, and he quickly looked at me, smiled, and said, "No." I appreciate him for keeping our lawn looking great!

Loving: I am loving that today is overcast and the clouds have smothered the scorching hot temperatures we have been feeling lately. 

Thinking: I really need to get the room ready for my new office. I have been using the sunroom for my creating, blogging, and planning, but I have over-grown the space. My husband said it was time to upgrade to a bigger space, so now I just need to get the other room ready. Oh boy! That is going to be a lot of work, but I promise to post pics of the progress. 

Wanting: Each summer, I promise myself that I am going to find new recipes to cook. I like good, quick, healthy recipes. So, if you know of any, please help me out. 

Needing: I need to get motivated! I have a to-do list a mile long, and I have managed to accomplish Z.E.R.O. Tomorrow is a new day, right!

Tips, Tricks, or Hints: This tip if for creating new products. I also think of my students and their engagement level when creating new products. If your students will be successful doing it and love it at the same time, then go with it!

ELA Summer Book Club- Chapter 3

Reading Standards for Informational Text

This chapter offered a plethora of information on reading informational texts. It stated, “Many teachers and school districts have built their reading instruction with fiction as the center, giving informational reading short shrift.” How true is this for classrooms across the United States? Across the world?

The standards for informational text reading are broken into four groups:

1. Key Ideas and Details
2. Craft and Structure
3. Integration of Knowledge and Ideas
4. Range of Reading and Level of Text Complexity

According to the reading in Chapter 3, there are four guidelines that can help when designing the instruction for creating competent reading of informational text. One is to “always use more than a single text with students.” You can provide supplemental informational readings in addition to your novel or textbook story. This allows the students to examine the various texts and come up with similarities and differences in the texts.

 A second guideline is to “help students identify some of the most commonly used text organizational patterns in informational materials.” For this guideline, one word resonates in my head: MODEL. It is imperative that teachers model for the students what their expectations are. If we do not model for them, then they have no idea of how to find what is needed. Opportunities for looking at different organizational patterns in text are needed for students to become deeper thinkers while reading. Encouraging teachers provide these opportunities and the support needed to help students reach their potential. 

Here is an example given in the text of the progression of skills for grades 3 through 5 for RI.3.5, RI.4.5, and RI.5.5 (Craft and Structure):

3rd Grade: Use text features and search tools (e.g., key words, sidebars, hyperlinks) to locate information relevant to a given topic efficiently
4th Grade: Describe the overall structure (e.g., chronology, comparison, cause/effect, problem/solution) of events, ideas, concepts, or information in a text or part of a text
5th Grade: Describe the overall structure (e.g., chronology, comparison, cause/effect, problem/solution) of events, ideas, concepts, or information in a text or part of a text

A third guideline is “students need to take an active role in thinking about the text ideas as they read.” For classrooms that have not incorporated a lot of informational texts, this may take a little longer to master. Students need to be taught how to ask and answer questions to demonstrate their understanding of a text. Thinking deeply about texts is a must in CCSS classrooms. 

A fourth guideline is “when reading informational texts, remember that these are authored just as pieces of fiction are, and attention to the author and the quality of the written text can help students understand the role of authorship and writing across genres.”

Using the CCSS throughout the school day will be easier for teachers who have developed units using themes from science and social studies. I love the example the author gives of Ms. Scalin's classroom integrated unit on butterflies. When you read how someone else has been successful in the classroom, it generates more ideas to use and gives examples of how to design your own units. Because science and social studies lends themselves to informational reading, it makes sense to build units around topics that fit into your grade level. 

I have included three discussion questions in the comments section below. Please add your thoughts to the questions. If you have other questions, please feel free to add them as a separate comment. 

If you missed Chapter 1, CLICK HERE. If you missed the post about Chapter 2, CLICK HERE

I wish I may, I wish I might...

Lately, I have been doing a lot of "wishing" on Teachers Pay Teachers. My list keeps growing and growing. When I saw Classroom Confections Wish List Linky, I knew I just had to join in on the fun. I have linked the  most wishlisted item in my store to the linky. Go and check out all of the great products that others are wanting, too!

My friend over at The Peanut Gallery is hosting a One-Year Anniversary Giveaway. You do not want to miss the opportunity to win this prize pack! Head on over to the giveaway and enter to win. 

Teacher Toolbox Trio

I hope everyone's Saturday is off to a wonderful start. My day so far has consisted of eating, shopping, and now blogging. I think that is a pretty good day. :) 

Here are the rules of the trio:
1. Share a product that you've made that you couldn't live without.
2. Share a product that you've purchased that you love.
3. Share something from your wish list that you're hoping to get for next year.

# 1 Something that I have made that I couldn't live without. This is a toss-up. I have two items that I have made that are a vital part of my classroom curriculum. I just cannot imagine class without them! The Write with Me Journal is a take-home journal the students use as an interactive writing tool with a parent or guardian. It reinforces writing in a fun, engaging way. The ELA Task Card Bundle is comprised of 12 task card sets that I use all year long. The students love them! The task card sets are aligned to the Common Core Standards. 

#2 For this one, something that I have purchased and used that I absolutely L.O.V.E. would be clip art. I have many clip art artists that I use, but two of my all-time favorites are Glitter Meets Glue Designs and Graphics from the Pond. Both of these stores have clip art for anything you can think of. And if you happen to want something they don't have, then simply ask them, and they will design it for you. 

#3 One item on my wishlist is...Blair Turner's cute Teacher Binder. It  is so adorable, and I cannot wait to purchase it. She has several other designs in her store, but this is my favorite one! (I apologize for the blurry pic of it.) 

I hope you will check out the linky. I am sure you will find some fabulous resources to use in your classroom!

Happy Saturday!

Rockin' Read Alouds

Who doesn't love a rockin', good book to read aloud to your students? As a language arts teacher, I love reading books aloud to my students. I think the students enjoy the read aloud time just as much as I do. Each summer, I look for new books to introduce into my classroom. I have more time to read books that I think my students will enjoy, create something to go along with the books, and then get ready to hook my readers with a captivating book. 

Generally, I teach three language arts classes per day. We always begin our day with our daily grammar practice to get their minds in ELA mode. As soon as we have completed this activity, we transition into our read aloud time. Here are some of my favorite read aloud books that I use in my classroom. 

1. The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton

This is one of my all-time favorite books! Although it is a book that has been circulated throughout classrooms for a while now, it is still a book that students absolutely L.O.V.E.! I remember reading it as a middle school student, so I was more than excited to be able to use it as one of my first read aloud novels my first year as a classroom teacher. Now, 11 years later, I still love teaching it just as much as the first time. The students love the adventure and realness of the book. It portrays two social classes who do not get along too well, but as the book unfolds, they begin to realize how many things they actually have in common. The students can relate to this because of the cliques formed in school. If you have not used this book as a class read aloud, I would highly recommend it for sixth and/or seventh grades.  I have created a Novel Study for The Outsiders that I use in my classroom whenever I use this novel. 

2. Follow the Drinking Gourd by Jeanette Winter
This is an excellent picture book to read aloud to students in third and fourth grade. It fits in with a study on the American Civil War, so if you teach a Civil War Unit, incorporating this book adds so many dimensions. Originally a folk song sung by slaves, Follow the Drinking Gourd provided a map for those slaves wanting to escape to freedom. In this book, the author cites one family’s journey along the Underground Railroad, using illustrations to go along with the words of the folk song. Students love this book because it helps them understand the process easier.  Click HERE to be directed to a unit that goes along with this wonderful read aloud. 

3. Lawn Boy by Gary Paulsen
In this short novel, students learn how investing money can pay off big in the long run. Gary Paulsen is a favorite author of many of my male students, so I love to use his work anytime I get the opportunity. This short novel can be used in any classroom when an Economics Unit on supply and demand is being taught. After reading the book, many students try to imagine what they could do to turn a little bit of income into a huge sum of money, based off of a simple summer job. I have created a Novel Study to use with this thrilling book. 

4. Glory Be by Augusta Scattergood
I read this novel last summer because I picked it up from our school book sale at the end of the year. Being a newly written novel, I was excited because I would get to share it with my students and it would be a fresh, new book that many had not read. It is set during the time of the Civil Rights Movement in Mississippi. It draws on real-life events that create a novel about family, friendship, and making choices that are not always easy to make. My students loved reading this novel because I think they could envision some of the emotions Glory, the main character, had to go through the summer she turned 12. Click HERE for a novel unit to help you introduce this novel to your students. 

5. Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli
Different. Weird. Out of the box. Suspenseful. Funny. Irrational. Triumphant. Love. These are all words that help describe my students’ thoughts about this novel. Being different does not have to be a bad thing. When Stargirl Carraway walks into Mica Area High School one day, their worlds would be changed forever. My students would laugh out loud at some of Stargirl’s antics. Other times, they would become so infuriated with some of the characters in the book. This is a book that brings out emotions in my students and helps them understand how sometimes being an outsider can be a truly scary thing. I created a PowerPoint Presentation to go along with this novel to access their comprehension as we were reading this novel.

These are by no means the only read aloud books that I use in my classroom. These are some of the read alouds that capture my students’ attentions and engage their minds. These novels lend themselves to great discussions and learning/teachable moments.

This summer, I am linking up with An Educator's Life. Mr. Hughes has provided a linky for anyone to share their favorite read aloud books. To be directed straight to the linky, click HERE

I hope you have a rockin' good time perusing some read aloud books to use in your classroom. 

Calling All Summer Book Club Readers

Summer is officially here for many teachers. Some blogging friends and I decided to have a summer book club to get in some professional development and to look for innovative ways to improve instruction in our classrooms. Mr. Hughes from An Educator's Life blog is our book club leader. He found this awesome book for us to read and study this summer. It is going to be super!

I hope that you will join us in this summer book club. We will read Teaching with the Common Core Standards (Grades 3-5), and a different blogger will lead the discussion each week. We will read a chapter per week and comment on the weekly host blogger's post with our thoughts and comments. It is not too late to grab the book and come read with us. Even if you decided you cannot buy the book and read it right now, we would LOVE for you to join in each week to read the discussions and comment if you have thoughts and ideas. 

Mr. Hughes will host the first chapter and the post will go live on June 10th. Please join us as we build blocks of understanding and really dive into Common Core Standards for grades 3-5. Come on, we need you! 

The following is our blog post schedule:

Chapter 1: June 10 by An Educator's Life
Chapter 2: June 17 by Teaching to Inspire in 5th
Chapter 3: June 24 by Right Down the Middle
Chapter 4: July 1 by Little Red Schoolhouse
Chapter 5: July 8 by Teaching to Inspire in 5th
Chapter 6: July 15 by An Educator's Life
Chapter 7: July 22 by 2 Brainy Apples
Chapter 8: July 29 by Little Red Schoolhouse
Chapter 9: August 5 by 2 Brainy Apples
Chapter 10: August 12 by Out of This World Literacy

If you are interested in joining us, leave a comment so we know who might be reading with us. 

Welcome June

June has arrived, and it is already H.O.T. in south Georgia! I have been out of school for a week now. It feels good to be able to sleep in, but that has not really happened yet because my body is still using its school-year alarm clock to wake me up every morning. I must figure out a way to fix this...soon! 

Oh' Boy 4th Grade Blog is hosting the monthly Currently Linky party. If you have not joined in this linky party, you need to head over there and see what it is all about. It is so much fun, and you get to meet a lot of new bloggers!

Welcome June! 

Listening: I am listening to complete silence. I am the only one awake in our house (didn't I just tell you my internal alarm is not on summer mode yet). The house is so quiet...no television turned on, footsteps running on the hardwood floors, someone going in and out of the house...stillness- I love it! It gives me time to collect my thoughts before the day really starts. 

Loving: Today is my daughter's fifth birthday. My how time has flown! She is such a blessing and we love watching her learn and grow every day. We are having a family birthday party for her this year. We started out with a party for her friends (she began planning it a year ago). I was all onboard with it, except the list of invites continued to grow. She wanted to invite her school friends (all 22 of them), her dance friends (all 9 of them), her twirling friends (all 6 of them), her church friends (all 6 of them), and even some of my middle school students that she sees in the mornings and afternoons coming in and out of my classroom. I decided I needed to take control...fast! She did not want to leave anyone out, so we made a compromise. We told her that we could not have a party that big this year and asked her if she would like to go on a trip instead. She quickly shouted "to the beach" and that was it. I booked us a place for last weekend, and we enjoyed every minute of it. I will save her BIG party for when she is a little older. That many five year old children running around in one place scares me! :)

Thinking: Week One of summer is gone for me. I have not completed anything on my summer to-do list. And if feels good, but I need to begin working on it next week if I am going to get anything checked off of it. 

Wanting: I would like the summer to slow down and go by at snail pace. It seems like every summer, time flies by too quickly. I want to enjoy every minute of it so I can re-charge my brain and focus for next school year. 

Needing: Omgoodness! My car is a disaster area. I am changing classrooms at school, so I packed up my classroom. There were some things that I didn't want to leave at school without them being locked in a cabinet, so where did I put them...in my car! I have to clean it out asap. It also needs a good washing. Maybe I will leave this post up on the computer and my husband can read it...hint, hint!

3 Vacy Essentials: 
1. Sunscreen- It is a must! Coat yourself down and reapply!
2. A good book- There is nothing like reading a good book on vacation. I read educational materials all school year, so I look forward to reading a good book on vacation. I still read ed books through the summer, but I make sure they are not read all summer. 
3. My camera- I take it with me everywhere I go! My daughter has started giving me that "put that camera down" look lately. Well, she will just have to endure because I love capturing moments! And she will appreciate it one day. 

I hope everyone has a wonderful day!