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Sales Abound...TPT and TN!!

Head on over to Teacher's Notebook.....November 30-December 2.  All of my products will be 30% off.   They also will be offering their "Build-a-Bundle" savings, which is awesome!!  Become a TN Follower while you are there!!

 Also....don't forget the TPT Cyber Monday (and Tuesday) sale, December 2-3.  All of my products will be 28% off!!

Thanks to Mrs. Leeby for the great link up and thumbnail!!

One last student teacher (who is amazing) has a great product for sale.  She is teaching this unit with our class and the kids love it!!  Check it out.....

Also a great freebie for you.....

 Love and Peace,


A Cutie, a Cocktail and A Freebie!!

I just love these Ryan Gosling "Hey Girl" thingies.  They just crack me up!!  In the spirit of the upcoming holiday and a two-day work week, I have a very fun post for you!  Enjoy!!

Here is your CUTIE....
 This one is perfect for today....even thought it IS only a two day week for me!!  Ha ha!


 My favorite holiday adult beverage....

Mix 1 cup sugar, 1 cup water and 1/2 cup fresh cranberries.
Bring to a boil on stove, then reduce to a simmer.
Simmer until sugar dissolves and syrup becomes a deep red color.
Remove the cranberries.  Refrigerate the simple syrup until ready to use.

In a shaker place 1 cup ice, 2 parts cranberry simple syrup and 2 parts citron vodka.
(Alternative:  2 parts SS to 1 part orange liquer to 1 part citron vodka).
Shake, strain and enjoy....yum!!
(You only need one of these!)

The above is honor of a freebie just for you!!  Enjoy and have a wonderful Thanksgiving!!  Stay tuned for a post this weekend about writing!!


Love and peace,

Crayfish Day and A Thanksgiving Writing Freebie

Saturday.....YES!!!   Next week I have a 2-day week and then a well-deserved Thanksgiving break....YES!!!  The school year is just flying by already! 

I cannot believe that my blog will soon be celebrating a one-year anniversary!!   Can you say, "GIVEAWAY?"!!  "I've got a pretty cozy group of followers that I would love to shower with gifts to celebrate my first year as a blogger...stay tuned for that.

This week in Room 19 was....CRAYFISH WEEK!  As part of our science unit on Structures of Life (A Foss Kit), we learn all about the structures of the crayfish.  Of course, we have some live crayfish that spend the entire semester "vacationing" in our classroom....lovely!  (We also enjoy a family of Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches.....more lovely!).  The highlight of our unit is the much anticipated, Crayfish Project.  Students demonstrate their understanding of crayfish structures by making a 3-dimensional model of a crayfish that includes all of the proper structures.  They also have to add elements to the crayfish that tell something personal about themselves.  For example, if you love soccer you might make a soccer-playing crayfish.  The students even give their crayfish names.  On Monday, all of our thirdies brought in their crayfish creations and presented them to the class.  Here are a few of my favorites (I actually love them ALL).

 Art Crayfish (BTW...his name is "Art)

 Racing Crayfish

 Baseball Crayfish

 Blue Ninja Crayfish

Reading Crayfish

I am so intrigued by all of the Thanksgiving projects that teacher's do with their class.  When I taught first grade, I used to have my students make a turkey out of construction paper and then hang them in the hallway and call it "Mrs. Olenczuk's Turkey Farm."  I would even add a portrait of myself wearing a farmer's hat.  Ahhh...the good ol' days!!  Nowadays, as a third grade teacher, I try to find fun ways to get my students writing, especially on special days of the year.   I love the idea of writing a story about how the turkey gets away on Thanksgiving.  I have seen this activity done in many different ways by teacher friends over the years, including having students create a "turkey in disguise" where the students make a turkey and then disguise him in silly ways.  GOOD, CLEAN FUN!!

Here is a fun freebie to get your students writing next week....enjoy!  Have a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend!!

Love and Peace,

Engage the Brain -- 20 strategies!!

I had a rejuvenating Friday!!  I was fortunate enough to attend an all day conference with Marcia Tate....educator extraordinaire and author of Worksheets Don't Grow Dendrites:  20 Instructional Strategies that Engage the Brain.

Marcia is an AMAZING speaker and I drove home filled with inspiration and excitement about using her 20 strategies with my students (my brain continued to process the information as I slept last night...just like Marcia said it would....interesting dreams)

I also learned tons about my own brain, and the "secret" to longevity.  Marcia said to only share it with people that you truly I am going to share it with all of you!!  Here it is....

I know, right?!!  Simply perfect words of advice!

You probably already use many of her suggested 20 strategies....and you will find nothing new about any of them.  However.....just because I know the right "moves" as a teacher, doesn't mean that I consistently use them.  Marcia Tate's workshop was a "punch in the face" reminder for me that if my students are not learning the way I teach...then I need to teach the way that they learn!  Here are Marcia Tate's 20 strategies for engaging the brain:
Marcia outlines these strategies in her many books, if you'd like more detailed information about each. She asked our group to choose two of the strategies that we would like to really focus on over the next 28 days (that's how many times you need to do something before it becomes a habit).  I have chosen Music and Movement.  Marcia told us that when we learn things with music and movement, the learning becomes embedded into the long-term memory.  That is so TRUE!!  I can remember the details from certain movies because of the music that was playing in the background (Think about Titanic)!!  When I taught first grade, I used music and movement ALL THE TIME, because my firsties DEMANDED it!!  However, I will admit that I use these two strategies a lot less now that I teach third grade.....ridiculous, I know!!  So, I am committed to finding ways to integrate music and movement into my lessons over the next 28 days!!  I am very excited about it.  I would LOVE to hear your great do you integrate music and movement into your lessons?

I learned about an app that can actually turn your words into a song.  What?!!  Yep....its true.  The app is called Songify, and you just talk into it and then choose a "beat".  It turns your words into a really fun song.  You already know where I'm going with this, don't you?  Think of the possibilities of using this in the classroom:  multiplication facts, main idea/details of a story, classroom transitions, characteristics of quadrilaterals....the possibilities are really endless!! 
We are currently learning about polygons and quadrilaterals in our class.  I am already thinking of ways that students can use their own body movements along with music to remember all of that vocabulary (parallel, congruent, perpendicular.....)!  

 I created some great visuals (another brain compatible strategy) to use with our unit....check it out:

Love and peace,

Reading Response

Not quite a month since my last post....ugh!  I really feel like I'm neglecting my blog.  I was so darn excited about this blog when I started it, not quite one year ago...and now it is collecting dust.  Hmmmm, reminds me of my treadmill (that thing is really neglected lately).

Well...I am setting a goal right this very minute to blog once each week!  It is something I really enjoy, and it makes me a better I am going to carve out a bit more time to give to this guilty little pleasure of mine!!

Recently, my third graders have begun working on responding to their reading by writing a bit about their thinking.  Reading response is a very important component of reader's workshop for several reasons.  First, it gives me a peek into the brains of my students, letting me know if my students are thinking about their reading and if so, what is the depth of their thinking.  Second, when readers stop to think periodically as they read, and then jot their thoughts down on a sticky note, it automatically slows down the thinking process, allowing the reader to really reflect on the text in a more meaningful way.  Finally, if you follow a reader's workshop model in your classroom, your students are meeting regularly at the end of workshop to "buzz" with a partner about their reading.  When students stop, think and write as they are reading, they will have "talking points" all ready to go when they meet with their partner, which makes for a much more meaningful discussion.

The trick to reading response to get your students started on it....and keep them going throughout the school year.  I have found that the key is loads and loads of modeling!!  When I read aloud to the kids (almost every day), I try to do what I want them to do:  STOP, THINK AND JOT.  Whether it's a picture book or a chapter book, I stop periodically, think outloud, and sometimes write down my thought on a sticky note.  I think aloud about why I stopped where I did and what I am going to write down.  Those are the things that they get stuck on:  When, why and what to write on that sticky note.   Modeling gives them a road map.

I love the book Notice and Note by Kylene Beers.  Her "Reading Signposts" are great tools for helping kids to know when to stop, think and jot!  I made some FREE posters that provide a great visual reference for students:

I also give my students "When to Write a Sticky Note" page to keep in their reader's notebook.  They use it a lot at first, but eventually get a feel for when to stop and jot without it!

Sticky-noting plays an important role in responding to our reading....but the thinking and writing doesn't stop there.  What to do with all of those sticky notes?  My students save their sticky notes on a sticky note tracker (Thank you Beth Newingham!), but that's not the end either!  They keep their sticky note sheets in their reader's notebooks and at least once each week, they choose one of their sticky notes as a starting point for "stretching their thinking" even further.  Aimee Buckner, in her book Notebook Connections, uses a strategy called "Finding the Spark" to help students to choose a sticky note that is worthy of stretching into a full-blown response.  Once they choose this sticky note, they attach it to a piece of notebook paper (or into their response journal if they have one) and then write more about their thought.  This process really pushes students to do all of the things we want them to do as readers:  reflect on their reading and their thinking!!  It is amazing to see their thinking path as they complete this type of can see it develop onto the page!! 

My students turn-in their responses each week and I do my best to read all of them and write a short response.  They love getting a personalized note from their teacher, and it motivates them to keep up with their responses, knowing that someone is actually reading what they wrote.  They also share these responses with their reading partners when they meet, which we try to make time for almost every day.

As we work on specific reading comprehension strategies, I will give students open-ended questions and/or prompts to guide their responses.  I also frequently give students a response sheet or a thinkmark to fill-out and hand in.  These are much more structured than the sticky note responses and offer a bit more accountability.  They also give me convenient way to evaluate students on their reading comprehension skills and give them feedback for setting goals.  Here are some response tools that I've recently created for guiding students in their responses (All three are common-core aligned).
Great for fiction and non-fiction responses!  Also have a rubric for giving feedback.

I would love to hear about how you use reading response in your classroom!!  Thanks for popping in!!  

Love and peace,