Monday, June 30, 2014

Monday Made It: Week 5

Time for another Monday Made It with Mrs. Tara from 4th Grade Frolics! We're all moved in to our new house, so I now officially have my own craft room!

Here's a rough picture of it:
This is before I organized it and made it look pretty - now it's BEAUTIFUL! And I am in love.

Regardless, in the room, I have not only my desk BUT I also have that table over there in the right of the picture. I needed something to sit on at both my desk and the table… something that was fun and allowed me to sit up high.

On my Instagram account, I gave this sneak peek:
Can ya guess what I might have done?!
Cue my first Monday Made It: the Fabric Covered Stool! :)
This stool was pretty easy to make. The pictures below will describe the supplies needed & the process to go through in order to make your own!
The beautiful thing about this chair is that it could go in the classroom, too! The bright, fun colors make it perfect for an author chair or a share chair! I am in LOVE with it!!

Head over and link your Monday Made It up with Tara at 4th Grade Frolics!!

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Organizing The Paper Trail: A Bright Idea

Time for the next monthly installment of the BRIGHT IDEAS Blog Hop!

I'm SO excited to be sharing this bright idea with you. I hope that it can be of some use for you in your classroom!

Do you always have a paper monster chasing you with those master copies? Not quite sure how to store them?
Have no fear, binders are here!!

I purchased 4 packs of these binders on sale at OfficeMax for $12 - that's $1 per binder!!! And, they're pretty dang sturdy binders.

EASIEST method I could come up with to store the items was to buy a pack of sleeve protectors to place in the binder, and then place the papers inside. It was cheap, and it looks clean when I pull the pages out and there aren't ripping holes in them!
This BRIGHT IDEA has saved me a ton of trouble on trying to find that "just right" activity in any subject possible.
If you liked this bright idea, feel free to follow me on Pinterest where I post a bajillion great ideas… but not just for your classroom!! I pin lots of food.. and desserts.. and home stuff.. and desserts… I think you get the idea :)

And if you liked this post, then you'll surely like these other 100 Bright Ideas posts! Please freel free to browse through the link up below. Each title has grade level specifics attached, so hop around OR go through each bright idea anyways. I know I've found ideas for older kiddos that could be used for younger kiddos with some adaptations, too!

Friday, June 20, 2014

Not Just Your Average Document Camera Stand

So about a month and a half ago (slacker, I know), I received a DEWEY document camera stand from the company known as Copernicus Educational Products.
In my classroom, I had a SMARTBoard and I had an iPad. But, when I wanted to project things onto the board, I had to grab a helper to hold the iPad in the air so that it would mirror onto the SMARTBoard.

Not only did that take time to do that, but it also took the hands-on learning time away from the student holding the iPad. I had had ENOUGH.

I had to get ahold of a reputable company and well, Copernicus was it!

They sent me this FANTASTIC product called the DEWEY. It's a document camera stand that you can put your own iPad into and it helps make it project objects up onto the board using your Camera app or whatever app you want.
I do have to say that I am in LOVE with my stand. My students are also in love. They love being able to manipulate it and actually USE it. It's that hands-on aspect that I think they love so much.

So, to show a little bit more of how much I enjoy the document camera stand, I made a video expressing my love!! Watch below :)

This little contraption is going to be a huge hit in EVERY single classroom from here on out. It's a great piece of technology and I thoroughly enjoy it.

The ONE negative that I've experienced is that it gets a little bit wobbly. But, if that's the only negative than I could not be MORE thrilled to have such a great product in my classroom to use with my students.

Check out the product by clicking either picture above and maybe you'll fall just as in love with the Dewey as I did!!

All opinions expressed on this post are of my own. Copernicus Educational Products supplied me with free product, but opinions are 100% my own.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Reading in the Wild Book Study: Chapter 1

IT'S HERE!!!!! It's time to start our book study on Reading in the Wild by Donalyn Miller. This week, our two hosts are Misty from Think, Wonder, & Teach AND Abby from Third Grade Bookworm.
Think, Wonder, & Teach 
So, read on through my notes, ideas, and thoughts below - then, link up your own posts OR comment below and we'll chit chat about our ideas! At the end of each chapter, I'm going to include TWO goals that I am setting for myself. These goals can be personal goals or goals in relation to my professional world - teaching!
Chapter 1: Wild Readers Dedicate Time to Read

From page 3 (just after the introduction), I loved what Donalyn Miller said about what wild reading is.
"Wild reading is readers who incorporate reading into their personal identities to the degree that it weaves into their lives along with everything else that interests them."

This quote hit a home run for me. I believe that wild readers are those that read just simply because they want to! They read on the way to school, at lunch, at recess, on the way home, with their friends, before dinner, after dinner, before bed, and any other available time.

TV. If kids are entertained by two letters, imagine the fun they'll have with twenty-six. Open your child's imagination. Open a book. ~ Author unknown

As we dive into Chapter 1 itself, there are quite a few points that I loved.
On page 8, Miller listed some responses from Wild Readers on a survey they had taken. The responses indicated the various "excuses" as to why people couldn't read. I connected with one of them on a level that was TOO comfortable: "I spend too much time online." Just today, I calculated that I spend anywhere from 8-10 hours online EVERYDAY throughout the summer. Why? I have no clue!

There was another responses I connected with: "I feel guilty that I should be doing something else--playing with the kids, housework, etc." I am not kidding you… I just said this exact same sentence to my husband the other day. I want to read SO badly, but I feel that I should be doing something more productive. I feel like I should be cleaning, working on teaching stuff, etc. But, reading is NOT considered a luxury that's out of my reach… I can do it and I AM doing it daily from now on!
Then, on page 10, Miller said, "Too often reading intervention specialists pull students who require additional reading support out of class during independent reading time. Disregarding the effect of independent reading time on students' reading achievement undermines our intervention efforts over the long haul." Then, below that, the sentence, "Developing readers need more reading, not less." struck home, too.

Too many times, my students this past year were pulled out of the classroom at the most inopportune times, especially during our DEAR time. DEAR time was our Drop Everything And Read time, otherwise known as independent reading time. I NEVER got to see my students that were pulled out complete independent reading. It was very difficult on their self-esteem, too. They were not able to establish that rapport with their classmates where they could discuss books to read, books not to read, and so forth. It was aggravating to me! This will be something I'm going to work heavily on next year to change.
On page 11, there's a point Miller makes towards the end of the page that says, "Life is full of wasted moments in between our daily commitments."

This could NOT be more true. There is so much wasted time throughout the day - transition periods, walking to and from places, etc. This time could be spent READING! I think that this year I worked real well with my students on trying to have very minimal wasted time. During our restroom breaks, they read. During transitions, they read. During downtime, they read (this all ties in really well with the uninterrupted conversation Miller had with her student Tristen on page 13 - PERFECT!). Many LOVED this time because they were able to get back into their groove, but at the same time, others didn't like it because our transition times or restroom break times were not as long as they liked, so they didn't feel as though they needed to read. We'll make sure next year that my feelings of "you can read anytime, anywhere" is definitely conveyed!
Fake reading and reading avoidance. I saw this with several students this year and it broke my heart. But, I'll admit, I was that teacher that called across the room multiple times to say, "HEY! You're not reading! You better start reading!" Instead of correcting the problem, I added to it. I still held a very good relationship with my students, but it just wasn't the best tactic to use to correct the behavior.

Miller talks about on page 27 the warning signs of a student that's not really reading. How many of you have seen students that finish books quicker than you can say "yup?" How many of you have seen kiddos finish only 2 books in 6 months? What about if a student is CONSTANTLY up getting a new book? What about those personal errands (Mrs. V, I have to go to the bathroom - daily during DEAR time)? Finally, what about those kiddos that decide independent reading time is also code word for "talk to the teacher and everyone else around me??"

Oh ya, I had a few of them and they stick out like sore thumbs. But, again, I didn't do anything to solve it. Miller talks about how you should politely and delicately approach your students to talk about their fake reading behaviors. While some students will come back saying they truly are reading, others might also say they don't care too much for reading. RED FLAGS.

I had one student this past year who told me he wanted to read a book, but there was no way he would finish it by the following weekend - it was just too long. So, he put it back. I stopped dead in my tracks and told him to pick the book back up. He picked it up and we talked about how many pages were in the book. This child is not a top reader, but he's by no means at all a low reader. The book was 120 pages long. We talked about goals and setting them for ourselves. He decided, with my help, that he was going to read 20 pages a night and that would have him finishing the book in 6 days. The fact that he was able to consider that goal and THEN go for it, it made my heart melt! Just like the boy Nathan that Miller wrote about on pages 31-32.
Overall, I think this chapter provided some GREAT conversation starters. I think that TIME is my big issue, personally, when it comes to reading. But, as the chapter title says… wild readers dedicate time to reading! This time can be found anywhere, at any time. Binge reading, emergency reading, etc. - all a GREAT time to find a few minutes here and there to read for pure enjoyment.
1.) Make plenty of time throughout the day, no matter where I can fit it in, for my students to read independently. This includes restroom breaks, hallway breaks, lunch room, etc.

2.) Encourage those who are not the best readers to find a book that will be challenging, yet readable, to them. This will make them strive to want to become better readers simply because they're enjoying the story because it's interesting, readable, AND challenges their thinking in comparison to old books they had read before.

Your turn! Link up or comment below with your thoughts, ideas, questions, etc. I cannot WAIT to see what y'all think of this chapter!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Reading in the Wild Book Study Schedule (#wildreading14)

Are you ready for #wildreading14!?
We have some AMAZING bloggers and non-bloggers joining us over the next 7 weeks to discuss this book, and I cannot wait! If you're a blogger, awesome! Join us each week by linking up your posts/ideas/thoughts/pictures. If you're not a blogger, that's great, too! You can read/follow along and then comment. We want to hear your advice, thoughts, and ideas for the classroom, too! The more teachers we have joining, the more amazing our classrooms will be this fall!

ALSO - remember if you're joining via social media (Instagram, FB, Twitter, etc), we're using the hashtag of #wildreading14. Hashtags are a GREAT way to connect to fellow peers that are discussing similar ideas.

Check out the hosts for each of the chapters/sections and make sure to follow them, so you don't miss anything. :)

Chapter 1: Wild Readers Dedicate Time to Read (June 19th)
Chapter 1: Creating a Workshop Schedule (June 26th) *This is a SUPER short section (only 4 pages), but a great chance to share/showcase your workshop schedule and sneek a peek at classrooms all over the world!*
Chapter 2: Wild Readers Self-Select Reading Material (July 3rd)
Chapter 2: Curating a Classroom Library (July 10th)
Chapter 3: Wild Readers Share Books and Reading with Others & Conferring: What's the Point? (July 17th)
Chapter 4: Wild Readers Have Reading Plans (July 24th)
Chapter 5: Wild Readers Show Reading Preference (July 31st)
Aren't you excited, friends?!?! It's going to be a great few weeks this summer! I'll see you back here on Thursday morning with your ideas, thoughts, comments, and questions! Cannot wait to work together with y'all to figure out the best way to use reading in the classroom… or in the wild :)

Monday, June 16, 2014

Monday Made It: Week 3

Time to join Mrs. Tara from 4th Grade Frolics for the Monday Made It linky! 

I participated this last summer and absolutely loved how motivated it made me. I got things done that I never thought I would!

This summer I needed to do quite a bit of work organizing the files on my computer AND organizing the files in my "real life." So, I'm starting this week and hope it'll continue into the rest of the summer.
My first Monday Made It is my Font & Clipart Binder. There are quite a few people out there that have done something like this (Sara from Smiling in Second Grade and Katie from Teacher to the Core are just a few) and I REALLY needed a way to organize my files on my computer, so I did something very similar!
This is my cover. I used some of my clipart & fonts I had to make it! Cool, huh?? :)
Fonts are arranged by creator & then each font name is typed in THAT font. For example, the font Elephants in Cherry Trees is typed in that font face. It makes it easy to flip through and find the fonts that I'm looking for!
Then, my clipart is arranged by artist. The name is on the left side of the page and then I have 6 sets listed on each page. It printed a bit bigger than I thought it would, but it makes seeing the clipart that much easier!
Some artists, I have clipart that is individual and NOT part of sets. So, those I put the "stock" picture of it and then labeled it below - just like I did with Jessica Weible above! 
I also, for each artist that I have clipart from, printed out the digital paper pages. This makes it MUCH easier when looking for the perfect paper for a project that I work on!
I printed EVERY single artist's/creator's things I have on my computer and it's all in this one binder! It's got a spine that matches the cover so when it's sitting on a shelf in my craft room, I can reach over, flip to the page I need, and then put it right back.

It's BEAUTIFUL and I am in love with it! How do you keep your files straight??
Number two is a PDF file I created of a multiplication activity for sale on TPT. I am in LOVE with the clipart used... thanks to the beautiful creation by Krista Wallden (Creative Clips)!
This baby was a labor of my love (oh man, was I OCD about the watermelon seeds!!) and I am SO happy with how it turned out. My students continuously needed help with multiplication, so what better way to incorporate multiplication with some delicious watermelon!
The pack comes with student directions AND teacher directions. This is to help when you put this activity in a math center or have it as a group activity! 
The cards are very simple and easy to read - count the seeds on the left and multiply by the seeds on the right. The answer key coordinates right alongside the cards. There's a full sheet answer key and half sheet (pictured above) to help save on paper if you'd like.

This pack also makes a fun "write the room" activity, which is how we used it in our classroom. I hung up the cards throughout the room and students walked from spot to spot trying to find the cards in order. Working on those numerical order skills, too! :)

That's all I've got for ya this week! Next week, it's going to be tough since we're in the midst of a move - we move into our new house on Sunday and I have NOTHING packed!! But, I'll try my best to bring you some goodies :) if not, check out Tara's linky anyway!!

See y'all soon!
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