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ROLL OUT THE CARPET FOR REALISTIC FICTION

My thirdies finally, finally finished personal narrative writing....and I have to say I am really proud of those buggers.  They produced some great stuff!!  We are celebrating on Monday by sharing our stories while we sip cider and nibble cookies. 

The kids cannot wait to begin our next unit....Fiction!!  I know they are picturing aliens, spaceships, dragons and other creations from their imaginations....but we will be going with the flow and writing REALISTIC FICTION.  My lessons will be based upon the Lucy Calkin's units, and we will be reading Amelia's Road by Linda Jacobs Altman as a mentor text (along with a few other morsels of reading goodness....such as Polacco's Junkyard Wonders).

We use a writing folder to collect our drafts and revisions as we progress through the unit (rather than a writer's notebook).  I just find this easier, especially when I have to lug them home over the weekend.  I also find that my kiddos need a little more than just paper...sometimes they need the extra support of a visual worksheet or a graphic organzier to work on a writing strategy.  I have put together a collection of writing worksheets and graphic organizers to go along with this unit and I am so excited to start using them during this unit!!

 


 



 



If you are interested in seeing more....check out my TpT store!! 



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THE Best Read-Alouds

I LOVE reading to kids.  It is the highlight of my day, every day!!  The bonus of reading aloud to my class is that they really benefit from it.  It is the number one way to get kids excited about reading.  Many kids don't "get" how awesome reading is....until you read them that one, really great book that "hooks" them!! 

When I was in third grade, I had an amazing teacher, Mrs. Stubie.  I LOVED, LOVED, LOVED Mrs. Stubie.  She was one of the great ones.  The best thing about Mrs. Stubie was that she read to us...every day.  It was the first teacher that I ever had that read to her students.  She read us the best, best books too....The Mouse and the Motorcycle, James and the Giant Peach, Ramona, and the list goes on.  It was because of Mrs. Stubie that I fell in love with reading.  I was hooked forever.

In addition to getting kids to love reading, reading to them shows my fledgling readers "HOW" to do it right.  It's the best modeling you can do for your kids.  Thinking outloud as you read outloud demonstrates to them exactly what readers do.

Finally, when you read a great book to your whole class, it generates the most amazing conversations and creates the most wonderful sense of excitement among your community of learners.  We get to know the characters together, laugh with them, cry with them and we get to know each other better too, through our conversations and we grow closer as a group. 

Here are a few of my favorite read alouds:


I love Kate DiCamillo....she knows how to draw the reader in and weave a great story.
Roald Dahl....he knows kids and what they like!!



I love Beverly Cleary...fond memories from my younger reading life.  Socks is such a heartwarming story.


If you haven't yet discovered Goony Bird Greene....you're in for a treat!

This is a very funny and heartwarming story.
This week we started the book Shiloh in my classroom.  I know it will spark some interesting dialogue among my students.  I found an amazing resource on TpT by Rachael Parletton (fellow blogger from The Classroom Game Nook) and I am looking forward to using it with my kiddos.  Click the link if you are interested:
Shiloh Novel Unit (Aligned with Common Core Standards)
What are your favorite, most beloved stories that you read to your students?  Please, please leave a comment to share....I am always on the lookout for "book candy."
Love and Peace,


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Liebster Award

I am beyond thrilled to have received a Liebster Award from Kim Z. at Literacy Sundae.  Thank you so much!!





The Liebster Blog Award is given to up and coming bloggers by established bloggers (less than 200 followers), in order to recognize them, let them know that they are appreciated, and to spread the word about new blogs. The rules are:
  • You must post 11 random things about yourself.
  • Answer the questions that the nominators set for you.
  • Create 11 questions for the people you nominate.
  • Choose 11 blogs you love (with less than 200 followers) and link them in your post.
  • No tag back, (but please leave me a comment on this post with the URL to your Liebster post so that I can learn more about you!) 
So here goes:

Eleven Random Things About ME

1.   I taught first grade for 17 years before moving up to third, where I've been for 3.
2.   I was a secretary before becoming a teacher 20 years ago.  I can type over 100 WPM!!
3.   I have two dogs, Penny (a beagle) & Gizmo (a lhasa)
4.   I love everything 80s...music, movies, clothes, etc.
5.   My favorite snack foods are chips with dip and popcorn with M&Ms.
6.   I love to walk...nothing feels better than my Ipod blaring and a very long walk on a nice day.
7.   I was Teacher of the Year in my county, several years ago.
8.   One of my students and I were on an episode of The View a few years ago...a back-to-school  fashion episode!
9.   I have a fifteen year old daughter and a twelve year old son...I am a truly proud mama!
10. I love to play Norah Jones during our Writer's Workshop.
11. I married my best friend in Maui, almost 18 years ago!


Here are the 11 questions Kim asked me:

1. Do you have a hobby? If so, what is it?
My newest hobby is BLOGGING!!  It is addicting!!  I also love walking and cooking.

2. What is one item that you could not live without?
I could not live without my cast iron dutch oven...I cook a lot of one pot dinners.

3. What is your favorite teaching resource or tool?
I love my classroom audio system.  It makes it so much easier to communicate with a loud and raucous bunch of third graders!! 


4. When did you start blogging?
I have followed blogs for about a year now...but I only just started my own...two weeks ago!

5. What is your favorite TV show? 
Dexter and Grey's Anatomy are my favorites.  I am also a sucker for X-Factor and Idol.

6. What is your favorite Holiday to celebrate in the classroom?
I just love the traditions of Valentine's Day...all of those cute little cards make me so happy!

7. How long have you been teaching? What grades have you taught?
I have taught Pre-K, Kindergarten, First Grade and Third Grade.

8. What is your best teaching memory?
That is a tough one..there are so many!!  Last year one of my students made me the cutest most heartfelt "sympathy" card when Swimmy, our goldfish died.

9. What is your favorite holiday dish?
My grandma used to always make a pistachio-flavored green cake.  Since she's passed, I continue to make it.  It is delicious and reminds me of grams.

10. What is your favorite thing about being a teacher?
Even though it can be exhausting, I just love being around children all day.  They make me laugh!

11. What is your favorite sport or team?
DETROIT TIGERS!!  I love baseball!


11 Questions for the 11 Blogs that I Nominated.

1.  What is a recipe that you are famous for making.
2.  Why did you start a blog?
3.  What is your favorite subject to teach?
4.  What is a favorite website that you use with your students?
5.  What is the hardest thing about teaching?
6.  If you could go anywhere, where would you go?
7.  Describe in a sentence or two, your ideal classroom.
8.  What is a favorite teaching theme or bulletin board idea that you've used?
9.  Who is your favorite music artist?
10. What is your morning poison? (i.e., coffee, tea, sugar, etc.).
11.  If money were no object, what one thing would you buy for yourself?  For your classroom?

Here are the blogs that I nominated:


Thanks again, Kim!!




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COOL CATS, BUSY BEAVERS AND MORE!

Homework isn't usually very fun, but it IS a necessary evil.  But, how do we get our cherubs excited about doing homework?   In my classroom I use HOMEWORK PUNCH CARDS!!  You know...like when you go to your favorite coffee shop and they give you a "punch" for each cup of coffee you buy and then when you fill it up...FREE COFFEE!!  My kiddos get so excited to get their homework cards punched every week.  They get a hole punch for their math packet and another one for completing their reading log.  In a matter of weeks, they fill the thing up and receive a prize from the treasure box!!  They store their cards in a pouch inside their BEE Books (Bring Everything Everyday Binder) so they are ready to use them when needed.  It is super easy for me to whip out my hole puncher and punch away each of the cards.

The best part is that it really motivates my students to bring their homework on time every week.  If you are interested in trying this out, KEEP READING!!

I am so excited to promote my first real TpT product!!

My brand new Homework Incentives Pack includes everything you need to motivate your students to do their homework every week:  Punch Cards, Record Keeping Form, Reward Certificates, and a Hall of Fame poster to post the names of students who fill up each card.  Included in the pack are four designs:  Cool Cat, Busy Beaver, Homework Hound, and Go Bananas.  Here is a peek at my Cool Cat Design:






Here is a preview of the whole pack.  CLICK IT if you want to get started on this program RIGHT NOW!!







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WALT WILF AND TIB

Looking for an efficient and fun way to post your learning objectives?  I created a 3-slide powerpoint that I use as a template (objectives shown are just an example).  It is super easy to type in the objectives for each lesson (even on the run).  I then run the slide show on my computer, which streams to my classroom television (a cable is connected).  Voila!!  It work perfectly on your Smartboard too!! It's much easier than having to constantly write it out on the board!! 

I like to switch it up by changing up my template...it keeps my kiddos interested:)  You can download these cuties on my TPT site for FREE!! (Clipart and backgrounds by www.mycutegraphics.com).

Enjoy!!






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STAYING CONSCIOUS

Happy Thanksgiving Friends!!  As I'm struggling to stay conscious after a long week of trying to teach with bronchitis, I thought I'd chat about Conscious Discipline!  Ha Ha!  (not really funny...I know!)

After reading the book by Dr. Becky Bailey this summer, I began the first leg of my CD journey this school year.  I was totally absorbed by the book all summer long and it was really an "awakening" for me.  So, if you haven't read this book, I highly recommend that you do...and soon!  It really is "Discipline for the 21st Century."  The book really caused me to reflect on how I respond to "behavior problems" in my classroom and to think about more brain friendly ways to help students to successfully cope with the daily stresses of life, so that they can move on to accomplishing greatness in the classroom.
I was thrilled to find out that Dr. Bailey has also come out with a "sequel" to the original book that has more of the "nuts and bolts" of how to implement CD in your classroom...right now


Most of you are probably familiar with the ideas in the book, so I really wanted to talk today about some of the little ways I have begun to use CD in my third grade class this year.

SAFE KEEPING

The first week of school we all made "mini-me" necklaces. 




We put these on each morning as we come into the classroom. As we gather for our morning meeting, students place their necklace into our Safekeeper Box. 


If any students are absent, we hang their necklace on the Friends and Family Tree and together we wish them well.  I then "tuck everyone in" and close the lid on the box and proclaim, "My job is to keep you safe, and your job is"....and they then chime in "to help keep it safe!!!"  Wash, rinse and repeat every morning!!

FRIENDS AND FAMILY TREE

The students can bring pictures of their loved ones from home and this is where they are displayed all year:



OUR SAFE PLACE

This is a quiet place in the classroom where any student can go when they need a place to calm down and gather their thoughts.  I simply used a privacy screen and placed it on a table in the back of the room.  On it I have displayed picture cards for some of the CD strategies that are taught early in the school year, such as S.T.A.R. breathing and other relaxation techniques (the balloon, the pretzel).  I also have the VERY IMPORTANT "Cranky Cream", which is just hand lotion.  My kiddos LOVE this.  Honestly, they use it all the time...not just when they are cranky.  I like that our Safe Place is portable and can be moved to different locations as needed.




CONSCIOUS CLASSROOM JOBS

I have a job for every student and we change them out every week.  In addition to the usual jobs you might find in a third grade, we've added the Healthcare Worker (retrieves band-aids and takes sick friends to the office), Heartcare Worker (cheers up a student who needs cheering up), We Care Chairman (in charge of making cards for celebrations and special events such as birthdays, sick/absent students, or a student who is leaving us), and The Noticer (he/she is on the look-out for random acts of kindness and adds a bead to a jar every time they "notice"), and The Greeter (gives friendly greetings to students as they enter the classroom in the morning and greets visitors).




OUR SCHOOL FAMILY

We declared ourselves a "School Family" the very first week of school and created our own motto:




We also made a list of classroom committments that we read outloud each and every day:



I am loving Conscious Discipline so far and I know my students really appreciate having a calm, and composed teacher (who takes a lot of deep breaths throughout the day).  I also have every hair on my head still intact....very impressive for November, I think!! 

What are your favorite Conscious Discipline ideas???




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SPELLING

I have been thinking a lot about spelling lately.  You wouldn't think so, but it is a very controversial topic.  So, I thought I would throw the topic out to my friends in blog-world.

The parents of the students that I teach are so very passionate about the topic of spelling.   As a matter of fact, it seems to be a favorite topic of conversation among some of them.  "When are you going to teach spelling?" is often the first question a parent will ask at our curriculum night.  They can't wait for those lists of words to start coming home so that they can drill their children.

I struggle with this for a few reasons.  First, I have never believed that memorizing a list of random words has resulted in better spelling in the context of actual writing.  It seems that, most often, the kids do great on the spelling test (after being drilled on them all week), but then continue to spell the words wrong in their writing.  It seems like such a waste of precious instructional time.  Also, spelling tests can become a real source of angst with some of the kiddos.  Those little ones that aren't your naturally good spellers...it's so painful for them...and not helpful (I feel).  Finally, I believe that good writing doesn't have anything to do with good spelling, but when we dwell on it by giving lists and tests, it stifles our fledgling writers...just a little bit.

All that said.....I want my students to be good spellers.  Of course I do!!  I secretly cringe when I see the same child spell the word "thay" instead of "they" over and over again.  I also sometimes secretly curse my seventh grade son's teachers when he spells "there", "their", and "they're" wrong.  I mean, c'mon...shouldn't he know that by seventh grade?!

I have tried a variety of ways to address spelling in my classroom and haven't really landed on one that pleases me completely.  Here's some that I have tried:

WORDS THEIR WAY

A great program that teaches kids the most common spelling patterns and their exceptions.  It is also differentiated, which is important for spelling instruction.  But....I found it really difficult to find the time to manage all of the different groups, and with every kid doing a different sort, it can be tricky to keep track of it all.  Not to mention, for WTW to be effective, students need time every day to practice the pattern...not just sorting, but all the other activities....games, word hunts, etc.  I know there is a way to manage this program effectively...but I haven't figured it out yet.  Oh, and parents reluctantly accept this spelling program, because the word sort is somewhat similar to that list of words they like so much and there is a "test" every week.

SPELLING IN THE CONTEXT OF WRITING

This is probably one of my favorite ways to teach spelling.  As I confer with students, we circle words that they are very close to spelling correctly.  Then we make a list of 5-10 misspelled words in a steno notebook.  The list is copied onto both sides of the line in the notebook and then half is ripped out for me to keep with my conferring notes.  The student works on those words all week (they can make flashcards, or they can write them over and over again onto register tape).  The next week, when I confer with them, I give them a quickie informal quiz on the words.  If they get them correct, they are crossed off the list.  If not, they go onto next week's list.  I love this way of teaching spelling because the words students are learning to spell come directly from their own writing, and usually are words that the student cares about spelling.  Thus, they are more invested and are more successful at learning the words.  However....parents hate this.  No list to memorize...no real test.  Parents also feel they aren't learning "the rules" of spelling with this method and will never learn to spell bigger and more important words if they are only learning to spell words from their own writing.

 

BETH NEWINGHAM'S WAY


This is what I'm trying out this year.  Third grade guru Beth Newingham has struggled with finding the right way to teach spelling and has come up with what might be a happy, "middle of the road" place to teach spelling.  She basically quizzes the kids at the beginning of the year on basic sight words (from a list of 1200 most common words).  The students highlight the ones they spell correctly on a grid. Students will then receive five of these words each week to learn and be quizzed on.  I think this is reasonable...and after all, students SHOULD be able to spell these common words correctly....kind of like "no excuses" words.



Inventory Highlighting

In addition to the five high frequency words, once each week she teaches her students a word pattern (like in Words Their Way).  This is done as a whole class, but she differentiates by giving a pre-test and any kids who pass that with only 1 or 2 errors, receive a list of challenge words instead of the regular list (see below).  You can find a much more detailed description of this method by visiting Beth Newingham's Scholastic page (or click on her name above).

Pretests

Teacher Chick has put together a more formalized version of Beth Newingham's spelling program, complete with all of the word lists for every week of the school year:  Spelling Lists Words Study Unit (available on Teachers Pay Teachers). I love when someone does all the work for me:  Thanks Teacher Chick!!

So, that is my spelling journey, in a nutshell.  We'll see how this latest pans out.  I would love to hear about your spelling program....so let's chat friends!



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GOOSIES

Well, this is the very first post of my very first professional blog.  I don't think I have been this excited about anything for a really long time!  I am hoping that I have enough to "doodle" about to make my blog interesting to other teachers.  Now stop that!! Where is my confidence?  Did you notice how adorably cute my blog design is?  I mean, who wouldn't want to at least pop in here for a minute, right?  (BTW...thanks to the girls at Honey Bunches Blog Designs...they are awesome).

I've been teaching for awhile and I know that the key to any successful teacher is effective collaboration with other passionate educators.  That is why I am so intrigued by professional teaching blogs.  It is an exciting time in education....there has never been more communication and sharing among teachers and that is such a wonderful and amazing thing.  Yes, it creates the possibility for all of us to land "on the same page" which can only benefit our students, but when teachers reach out to other teachers, it illustrates all of the different routes we can take to make learning accessible to all of our kiddos.

I am so inspired by the Jessica Meachams and the Beth Newinghams of the teaching world and their willingness to take a risk and share what they do so the rest of us can benefit.  I pale in comparison to those "superheros" but am hoping to give back a little bit to a profession that has given me so much over the years (yeah, yeah...it's sucked a bit out of me at times too!).  So, welcome to Third Grade Doodles!!  Let's do this....(ooooh, I just got goosies)!!

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