Sunday, September 28, 2014

A {Last} Peek at My Week {9-28-14}

Happy Sunday everyone!  Welcome to another Peek at My Week.  I hope you will share your plans for the upcoming week.
The beginning of the year has been crazy and I am just now been feeling like I am starting to catch up.  Do you know that feeling?  This is what my life has felt like lately...
But I guess that's what weekends were made for...

So you may have noticed that I labeled this post my {last} Peek at My Week.  Yes, it is true, this will be the final edition of this linky party.  There are lots of other great things I'd like to do with this blog and I just feel it's time for a change.  I thank all of you who have linked up in the past.  I have learned so much from you.  On the bright side, Positive Thinking Thursday will continue!  I hope to see your link ups there!

Now on with my plans for this week...

I'm excited to announce that our Chromebooks have arrived and we are now a 1:1 classroom!  They were delivered on Friday and the kids couldn't wait to use them.  They are even touchscreen!

This is perfect timing because I am beginning my guided reading groups this week.  One of the activities the students will be required to do is to visit the Wonderopolis website.

Because our tech has been limited up until the arrival of the Chromebooks, we have only been able to explore this website one time a week which we called Wonder Wednesdays.

In Science, we are also beginning a new unit on the Human Body Systems.  This is one of my favorite units to teach and the kids love it too.  One of their favorite activities is showing how the stomach turns food into a soupy mix by putting a saltine cracker into a sandwich baggie with a couple teaspoons of water and then massaging the bag until the cracker is mush.  It looks pretty gross but it gets the point across.

An InLinkz Link-up

Have a great week!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Positive Thinking Thursday {9-25-14}

Welcome to Positive Thinking Thursday!  I'm glad you are here.  I hope you will visit the bloggers who link up to share a positive thought for today or perhaps link up yourself!  Everyone is welcome here.

The beginning of the year can be a trying time.  There is so much to teach, so much to learn about your students, that trying to fit it all in can sometimes feel overwhelming.

So go slowly....

But just go.
"It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop." -Confucius

Have an amazing day!

Saturday, September 20, 2014

A Peek at My Week {9-21-14}

Welcome to A Peek at My Week!  Thanks for visiting.  I hope you will link up and share your plans for this upcoming week.
Here we go with week 4....

In writing, we have been using this resource that I found online from Portland Public Schools.  (Have you seen it??? Simply amazing!)  We have been exploring ways writers get their ideas, the habits of good writers, and doing lots of quick writes. This week, students will choose one of their quick writes and turn it into a published piece of writing for their Treasure Chest.  (This is what we call their portfolio.)  I am so thrilled with my students enthusiasm for writing!

We also have our next round of MAP testing, this time for math.  Last week was reading and let me just tell you....I have work to do.  There was a 50 point range in my scores (about five grade levels).  Can you say.... 'differentiation?'

(c)DearTeacherLT (You may use the image if you link back to this blog.)
We have also been chugging along improving our vocabulary by learning five new Greek or Latin word parts each week using my product, Word Parts We Know. The students were excited to see some of these word parts show up on their MAP test....I am excited to see that they are recognizing new words and figuring out their meanings in their independent reading.
Finally, this week we will also write our first letters to our pen pals in Ohio in Mary from Fit to Be Fourth's class.  On Friday, we spied on their school using Google Earth.  :)  We are excited to begin this new relationship with other fourth graders!
Fit to Be Fourth

Oh...and one more thing.  Rosie the Puggle turns 5 on Thursday!  :)

I hope you have an amazing week!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Positive Thinking Thursday {9-18-14}

Welcome to Positive Thinking Thursday!  How is your week going?
The beginning of the school year can be an overwhelming time -- lessons to plan, assessments to give, data to analyze.  Some days it can seem like too much.

This year, I am really focusing on slowing down and being mindful.  This quote really spoke to me:

Wishing you an amazing day!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Where Do Writers Get Their Ideas?

The first four weeks of school in our writing block are dedicated to launching our writers' workshop.  Many students have experienced the workshop model before, but some haven't.  For others, those summer months helped them forget what workshop was all about.

One of the main selling points of the writers' workshop is CHOICE.  Students choose what their writing topics will be.  For some, this is incredibly motivating.  Again for others, pure panic.

If you run a workshop model in your writing classroom, surely you have seen students who just sit there because they can't think of anything to write.  To help avoid this, there are some fun writing activities that you can do to get those writing motors running:

1.  Write from a memory:  I can remember the time my babysitter's pet duck, Grover, chased me around the yard, nipping at my heels.  My students thought this was a hilarious story {it is!} so I turned it into a journal entry.

2.  Write from a picture:  I like to collect funny pictures from magazines.  I glue them to construction paper, laminate them, and have instant writing inspiration!  Pictures that students bring in from home spark great writing as well.

3.  Write the stories from the places you love:  Give students a blank piece of paper and have them draw a detailed map of somewhere they love -- their bedroom, backyard, neighborhood, favorite park, etc.  As they are drawing, the stories will surface.

After we have spent several days practicing different ways to gather writing ideas, we created this anchor chart to hang in our room.
What other ways do you help your students generated ideas for writing?  Please share!

Sunday, September 14, 2014

A Peek at My Week {9-14-14}

Thank you for stopping by A Peek at My Week.  I hope you are having a great weekend!
We are beginning our third week of school and things are going well!  My group is a little chatty this year, but we are working on that.  They are eager, sweet learners and I know we will do great things this year!

On Tuesday, we will take our reading MAP test.  I have been working to gather lots of data on my students (reading conferences, reading reflections, Star Reader, etc.) so the MAP test will add one more data point for me to use.

In math, we have been reviewing  place value and thanks to the amazing third grade teachers, most of my students "get it."  Last year, we began using Expressions math which really stresses the conceptual understanding of what students are learning.  This week, we will begin reviewing adding larger numbers.  Did you know there are FOUR different methods to add larger numbers?  I'm used to the "carry the one" method so this should be fun!

I'm excited to begin our first novel study in reading class, Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing.  We will be using this awesome product from Lightbulb Minds.  (LOVE their products!)

Wishing you an amazing week!

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Formative Assessment Strategies in My Classroom

Formative assessment has been a buzz word in education for the past several years.  Basically, formative assessment is a check for understanding and provides important feedback to the teacher about what students know and what they don't know.  Sometimes this is written assessment and sometimes it isn't.

I have been working hard to try to incorporate more formative assessment in my classroom and wanted to share some of the strategies that have worked for me.

First is the thumbs assessment.  After teaching a concept and before students begin to work independently, I will ask them to give me a

Thumbs Up (I get it!), 

Thumbs Down (I'm totally lost), 

or a Thumbs to the Side (I think I get it, but I may need help). 

A quick glance around the room at the thumbs and I know which students I need to check in with to possibly reteach.

Similar to the Thumbs assessment is the 0 to 3 quick check:
Love this idea for quick formative assessment of learning! Helps determine which kids may need more structured intruction

Another quick formative assessment I use that gives me a little more insight into my students' thinking is the Learning Journal.  At the end of the day, I will give a writing prompt based on what we learned today:
  • Model 3,274 
  • Write one thick and one thin question about what we read in science
  • List two adjectives to describe our main character and explain your thinking
  • Show two different ways to add 32,448 and 51,486
A quick walk around the room at the end of the day shows me what students have learned and again, who needs another review.
If you are looking for some formative assessment ideas, I encourage you to check out this website and view the Google Slideshow. 
What are your favorite formative assessments that you use to check for understanding?  Please share!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Positive Thinking Thursday {9-11-14}

Welcome to Positive Thinking Thursday!
These past two weeks, my students and I have spent a lot of time talking about effort and why it's important to give things a try.  Some of us are so afraid of making a mistake or not doing something perfectly that we are reluctant to try new things.  This causes a lot of missed opportunities, wouldn't you say?

In our classroom this year, we are trying to celebrate mistakes.  Why?  Because that's one way we learn!
Great thought to keep in mind and an awesome collection of tips for making your website better!
Imagine how much learning we could all do if we were just willing to give it a try!  Celebrate mistakes today and see what happens.

Have an amazing day full of lots of new learning and perseverance!

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Peek at My Week {9-07-14}

I'm not sure where the past week has gone, but here it is Sunday again which means it's time for another Peek at My Week!
Last week was our first week of school so we spent it learning routines, building community, and getting to know each other.  This week, we will be getting down to business.

I'm really looking forward to writing this year.  Several students have mentioned to me how much they love to write and are eager to begin.  This week, we will begin learning about workshop routines and what it means to be a writer.  I found a great resource online that includes a scope and sequence for the year of writing from Portland Schools.  It is amazing!!  If you do not have a writing curriculum and feel like you need some guidance in teaching writing, this is a must see resource!
Learn to write and write to learn. "Learning to write is learning to think. You don't know anything clearly unless you can state it in writing." - S.I. Hayakawa
Reading workshop will begin this week as well.  We will be reading lots of picture books to review the comprehension strategies and begin working on writing response.  It's always good to have mentor texts to demonstrate what is expected and I plan on using snippets from Spaghetti Book Club and This Kid Reviews Books. These two websites are book reviews written by kids, for kids.  Check them out!

We will also begin using my Word Parts We Know program this week to learn new prefix and suffix word parts.  Each week, students learn five new word parts, working to build their vocabulary up in a slow, but steady way.  I have had HUGE success with this program in the past.  Students vocabularies explode as they are able to decode and understand longer and more difficult words.  This has also helped on assessments such as the MAP test where many of these word parts appear.  I am excited to begin!

Wishing you a wonderful week!

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Positive Thinking Thursday {9-04-14}

It's Thursday, which means it's time for some positive thinking!  Thank you for joining me this week for Positive Thinking Thursday.
By now, schools across the US are all back in session.  Many of us have been back for weeks now, while for some of us (like me), it has been only a few days.

The beginning of the year is an exciting time! It is the time that we start planning for all of the great things that will develop in time.  Students who will learn to read, conquer a difficult math problem, or learn how to speak in front of others.

So this week's positive thought is so perfect for the beginning of the year...

Here's to all of your small beginnings that will lead to great things!

Wishing you an amazing day!