I am linking up with The Teacher's Cauldron for her New Year's Linky Party!!
Well it is that dreaded awesome time of year again...time for new beginnings and resolutions to do better this year. I have to begin by saying that last year was a GREAT YEAR! I actually did follow-through on a few of my goals...kinda sorta. The best part of 2012 has been (finally after two years) feeling comfortable in my new role as third grade teacher (I taught first grade for 17+) years and moving up was a big, huge step! I am really loving it now. The other best part of 2012 has been starting my blog and discovering Teachers Pay Teachers. I only started in November and I am hooked. It is so awesome linking up with teachers around the country and across the globe. I also think it is amazing that other teachers are willing to pay me for the resources I create and use in my very own classroom. The best thing about TPT, however, is being able to instantly find the very thing I need for a lesson, at a moment's notice (So far, I spend WAY more than I make on TpT)!!
Any hoo....so for my resolutions (Can you tell I was stalling?)...
My personal resolution would be...uh...hmmmmm...this is so hard....there are so many directions I could go here. I want to work on being a well-rounded, balanced person. I tend to get overly-focused on one thing and become obsessed with that ONE thing for a while, usually at the expense of everything else. This summer I was on a fitness kick....right now its my new blog and my TpT products (I really need to leave this chair and reintroduce myself to my family). So, I am saying it outloud for the world to hear....I need to create balance and prioritize the really important things in my life. Wish me luck.
I am still very new to blogging but I'd really like to do a better job of articulating who I am as a teacher. That is the beauty of blogging...it is a journey of self-discovery, I think. Holly over at Criss Cross Applesauce in First Grade said that she wants to blog more about the day-to-day stuff in her classroom. I love that idea. I think that is where we can learn the most of ourselves and each other...by the things we do every day within those four walls of our classroom. I hope to post at least twice a week in 2013 and I would love to do a weekly repeating thing (like the Friday Freebie...I think from the 3AM Teacher).
So that's about it for my resolutions...whatchya think??
On to the GIVEAWAY!! This is a first for me and I really don't know what I'm doing, but I'm going to give this rafflechopper thingie a try. I hope you enter...the prize is any one thing from my TpT store...your choice!
I have had the privilege to work with an excellent literacy coach this year. I asked her to help me to refine my conferring skills during writer's workshop, which I have struggled with for several years. I yearn to give students the appropriate feedback to move them forward in their writing, but I sometimes get stuck on exactly what to say to them....or to ask them.
After a few sessions work with this amazing teacher and coach, I noticed that she had a special way of listening to kids talk about their writing. She kept saying a few magic words that really got the kids thinking and talking about their writing:
And a few questions kept popping up....
What were you thinking?
What were you feeling?
What is the heart of your story?
(Why was this idea SO important that you chose to WRITE about it?)
I really started thinking about what makes a piece of writing really compelling to read...and realized that the best writing answers the above questions really well. It seems too easy, doesn't it? But, I am finding that as I mimic these questions the way she did, in an "I'm wondering...." sort of way, the conferences that I am having with my students are much more productive and they build their confidence as writers. The magic happens when students do the thinking on their own and answer these questions themselves, rather than me saying things like, "You need to add more details."
I am so excited about the work I am doing with my young writers this year!
Please enjoy this FREEBIE....a set of posters to help get your students thinking about their narrative writing! (You can download them HERE)
I have started using a "check for understanding" strategy this year called, "Fist Five." When I first heard it, I thought, "My, that sounds kind of violent!" Then I tried it in my classroom and ding, ding, ding, ding!!! The lightbulbs went right on!! You mean, I'm supposed to ASK my students if they understand?! Duh! I usually look for a confused look....like a furrowed brow, or a puzzled expression. I always hope to see an "Aha!" expression on most faces, finger up in the air!! "WE GOT IT, MRS. O!!" But we all know, that we walk around and around our classrooms looking for clues of misunderstanding, which is sometimes apparent and sometimes not. Now I ask my students to give me a "Fist Four" to show if they understand. Four fingers to your chest means "I got it and can teach others!" Three fingers means "I got it!" Two means "I think I got it, but still need some help." One means...."Don't got it...please help!" So simple...so brilliant!! I use this strategy every day, several times a day. My kiddos love it and so do I! I made a poster for my classroom and some bookmarks for the kids...you can get those at my tpt store.
That common core....its so great....but so scary too! It is really nice to have a common path for all teachers to follow, but "Wow" have you seen the stuff they want our kids to know?!Wowwwwweeeee! Things have sure changed since I was a kid. I mean, when I was 8 years old, my parents and teachers were happy if was reading regularly. Nobody expected me to make cross-text connections and support my predictions with evidence from the text. I know our kids can rise to this challenge and they will be better readers, writers and learners as a result of the common core. I am doing my best to keep up with it all and not let my students down. In the spirit of getting to know these standards "like the back of my hand" as suggested by the common core gurus in my district...I created some child-friendly Common Core ELA posters for my classroom (truth is...they're teacher-friendly too). I've only completed the Language Arts version...but I'm working on math next. If you teach third grade and would like these (very cute) posters...visit my tpt store.
I am so excited to have 54 followers!! I am loving the blogging world and have already made a few blog friends (frogs?)!
My school district is very diverse, so it's not really appropriate to do Christmas activities. However, we all enjoy some snowman luv! I have whipped up a Freebie for you in celebration of winter and my 50+ followers! I hope you enjoy it:
CLICK HERE TO GET IT!!
Do your students love getting on the computer to visit a new website? Do they also love some sweet competition among their pals? Here are two websites that your students will LOVE LOVE LOVE!! Mine can't seem to get enough of the friendly competition offered by these two sites.
This is the ultimate FREE math website for kids. It is really too good to be true!! It offers math practice on the COMMON CORE standards for grade levels K-8. The games are super fun and even addictive!! You can set up lessons for your whole class or individual students. The best part is that you can set up class competitions that last for any timeframe that you'd like to set up. For example, I like to set up weekend competitions. Since the kids can access the site from home, this works great! On Monday, we come in and I put the leaderboard up on the projector to see who won!! You can set up teams to compete or the kids can compete as individuals. Students are rewarded with cyber treats like clothing and accessories for their personalized avatar. To find out more, just go to their site and fool around. Its even fun for grown-up teacher-types:)
CLICK HERE TO FIND OUT MORE
This site is the ultimate reading motivator for your students, and it is also completely FREE! Your kids read and then go on this site to take a comprehension quiz. They have thousands of quizzes for almost every book you can imagine. As your students pass those quizzes, they earn points that can be traded for actual prizes, many of which are downloadable goodies. You can also set it up with your own prizes. The site can also generate book lists to accommodate your students' interests and reading levels. Their newest feature is that you can now set up class competitions, just like Sumdog. If you want to see your kiddos read alot (say...over the winter break?)...you've got to check out this site.
I don't know what it's like where you are....but here in Michigan it is getting c- c- c- c- cold!! My students are also getting tired of their bland daily bellwork. I created these Winter Math Warm-Ups to perk them up a bit. You can find them at my TpT store.
I can honestly say that one of my top ten reasons for starting a blog was so that I could participate in Farley's "Currently." I have been counting the days until December....so here goes!!
Okay...so I just came back from a HUGE lunch at Buffalo Wildwings. One of my favorite things in da world is spending a Saturday afternoon with a half-dozen Salt 'n Vinegar wings, an order of potato wedges (with sour cream) and a foamy adult beverage. Oh yeah...and my hubby and kids!! I can even tolerate some drama (eye-rolling; sighing) from the teens when a greasy wing is in-hand! I may have overdone it today...tummy is talking back.
I have an amazing group of children this year. They are smart, sweet, kind to each other, and just a lot of fun to be around! They make me laugh every single day!
I can be quite the procrastinator when it comes to holiday decorations. When I was a kid, I was the number one "Elf". I loved the holidays and couldn't wait to decorate every wall and surface in the house with holiday cheer. Nowadays....I just dread it. All I can think about is....in a few weeks I'm gonna have to take all this stuff down and put it away. Quite the Grinch...I know!
This is a crazy time of year. Our report cards go out in a week. Assessments need to be done. Classroom observations....ugh. Not to mention all the stuff associated with Christmas...shopping, shopping, shopping!! I just need 1 more hour in the day to get it all done!!
I haven't even started my report cards...I can't talk about it...too depressing.
Finally...my RAK: Holly from Criss Cross Applesauce in First Grade is a teacher at my school. We started working together a couple years ago, and I don't really know her that well. I do know that she is an awesome teacher (I mean, I get her kiddos after she has them...so I know!). She is also a blogger extraordinaire. She doesn't like to "advertise" her greatness...so I thought that I would, while thanking her at the same time!! Her bloggy greatness was another one of the reasons I began my blog...she inspired me with her super fun, super cute, super wonderful and helpful little blog. Okay...I was a little jealous (still am), but sometimes that's what I need to get going on something I've always wanted to do. Holly also supported me by featuring me on her blog my very first week up...which sent many, many followers my way. She definitely didn't have to do that, but I'm so glad she did. Holly really represents the spirit of professional teaching blogs...she shares openly and honestly and welcomes and encourages newbies like me with open arms. So, for my RAK...I am thanking you Ms. Wazy-loo!! Also, don't be surprised if a little something wonderful appears in your mailbox on Monday (okay....maybe Tuesday...I told you that I am a procrastinator)!! If you haven't visited Holly's blog....you really should...its well worth the visit...I promise!!
Hello there! Thank you for popping in to my blog. I've been doing the teacher-thing for over 25 years now and I'm still hangin in there! I love teaching but it can be a tough job, which is why I am always looking for ways to make things just a little easier. I follow many different teaching blogs and they have truly inspired me. I really hope to pay it forward with Third Grade Doodles! I love to collaborate with other educators, so please feel free to add your two cents in the comment section!