Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Interactive Read Alouds

One of the most important parts of teaching kids to read is reading aloud to them. Everyday (well most days... we do what we can!) I read aloud a book to my students. 

When you do a read aloud, it is important that it is interactive. This is your time to stop and model the many strategies that you are teaching your students. 

I like to read aloud the type of book that we are learning. For example, right now we are learning biography, so I am reading Who Was Paul Revere? (Which I LOVE and I am learning so much... great series for students-- and adults). As I am reading aloud, not only are the students listening to my expression and fluency, but I also stop to model strategies by "thinking aloud." 

I always have the students bring their notebooks and pencils, so if I find a spot where they can "stop and jot," they are ready. Occasionally, I will just say "stop and jot" after a powerful scene. They usually stare at me for a second in confusion, but I just look at my book and repeat "stop and jot." They always come up with great reflections and usually hit the same thought that I did. 

Interactive read alouds are also perfect for teaching the strategies that your students might have missed in earlier years, and it is not in your curriculum. It is the perfect time to fill in those gaps!

Do you have any read alouds that you love?? Let me know!

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Using QR Codes in the Classroom

Engagement, engagement, engagement... that was recently the big movement in my school. Everyone was searching for ways to engage the students. That is when I discovered QR CODES! Honestly, they were like the light at the end of the tunnel. Kids LOVE QR codes. When I say we are going to do QR Task Cards there is literally a gasp that goes throughout the classroom.

QR Codes are for EVERYONE! New and experienced, young and old, outgoing and shy, boy and girl!

I implore you to try them. 

Not sure how? 

It is SO easy... too easy. 

First, you have to buy or get something that has QR codes on it (obviously). TPT has a ton of task cards...check out my store ;) that have these codes. Have your students use any device. My students use chromebooks, but ipads, ipods, cell phones, computers or any device with a little camera on top will work. Either download a QR Reader App or go to any QR Reader Website. My favorite is https://www.the-qrcode-generator.com/scan. It is so easy to use. The kids simply hold the QR Code up to their camera and BAM! the answer appears!

The kids literally think its magic. 

I use QR Code Task Cards as a center because it's perfect for self monitoring. The kids are able to check their own answers. Sometimes, they'll even make it a game. I always tell them they can run the center however they want... man can they get creative!

This is my new set of Main Idea and Details Task Cards with QR Codes. 

Still scared? 

Just try it! Trust me... the kids will figure it out in 2 seconds and you can just pretend you know what they're doing... 

Comment and let me know how it goes!

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Reading Comprehension and Skills

I know I talked about this in an earlier post, but at my school we use Reader's and Writer's Workshop. I really do like it (I really do). However, I am still finding big gaps! One of those gaps is the students ability to read and dissect from short stories/paragraphs. In reader's workshop, the students are always reading novels (which is awesome), but when it comes time for their standardized testing, they are lost when they need to read and respond to short text. 

So, I decided to make a pack of 10 Non-Fiction and 10 Fiction passages. I followed the common core standards to come up with questions, skill work for the students to complete. 

                                                    Click here to try them in your class!

I made these quick sheets so that I can assign them as homework. I usually don't give my students homework besides reading because I feel like it is usually "busy work." However, these sheets really focus on a variety of skills that act as a review! When they come in the next day, I have them go over it with their groups and then we quickly review as a class. 

What do you use in your classroom? Let me know!

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Snow and Flexibility

Well we had our first Snow Day yesterday... and a delayed opening this morning! I'm not going to complain about that! However, this does make me think... how am I going to going to squeeze everything in that I was planning this week? The answer is... I'm not!

One tip that has gotten me through the past five years is being flexible! I had planned to finish reading poetry this week (check out Rockin Resources for some awesome poetry stuff..some of it is free too!) so we could start writing poems next week. Well, it's not going to happen... and that's ok! When I talk to first year teacher's I always hear, "But what about your lesson plan. What are you going to write? Are you going to change them..." and my answer is, "It's ok. It was a plan and my plans changed!"

Instead of worrying about what my plans say, I am going to look at them and see, is there anything in here that I can shorten or take out? Maybe something I can have them work on with a partner instead of by themselves to move it along. If there is a chance for that then great! I'll try it. If not, well then my plans are already written for next week (yay!).

So while I sit here and enjoy my delay, I am also updating some old products (and watching Friends and sipping my coffee). Check them out!


Monday, January 23, 2017

Teacher Life

Teaching has always been a part of my life. I come from a long line of teachers! My grandmother taught English, my father teaches Art, my mother teaches Special Education, my sister teaches History, my other sister teaches 5th grade, and my husband teaches STEM. Basically... I'm surrounded. 

If you listen to our dinner conversations, they pretty much always start with someone saying, "so today my one student..." or "you'll never guess what this one teacher put in the teacher's room..." It's pretty much all we talk about. I think that's actually why my husband became a teacher... so he could fit in. 

Being a part of a family of teachers is very interesting because I think we are wired to do things a certain way. One thing especially is, we just get things done! As a new teacher, I got in the routine quite quickly and didn't feel as stressed as many do. 

As my dad says, "do whatever the administration wants you to do." This doesn't mean just do whatever and don't care about it. It means embrace all of the new things that are happening and try it out! If your school decides to pick up a new reading program... you can complain about it for the entire year or you can dive in and take it on full force (even if you know in the back of your mind the school will probably be changing to something new in a few years anyway). 

My school has been changing things around quite a bit lately and I don't know if its the innate teacher in me or not, but I seem to enjoy the change and trying out something new. Otherwise, I get bored (and lazy and we can't get lazy when we are trying to keep our minds and bodies active!). 

So, I encourage you to try something new! ...and "do whatever they tell you to do." Otherwise you're just going to stress yourself out... and that's good for no one!

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Sunday Sunday

Sunday is my favorite day to relax, recoup, and RECREATE (football and chili is also in the mix). I like to take the time on Sundays to look through some of my products that I have made and make them better. It is so important to continue to improve on things.

I have found one of the best ways to find things to improve on is to test my products on my students! They are the perfect critics. If I hear them say things like, "this is too easy!" I know I need to either make the product more challenging or lower it down a grade or two. If I hear them say, "I don't get it! What do we do?" Well then I know I need a clearer instructions component. 

On the other hand, one product that I recently posted about I tried in my classroom and I found that it was extremely successful! However, that does not mean that I am going to leave it alone today! Instead, I am spending time adding to it and making it even more extensive. I have decided to make my common core worksheets a GROWING pack. I have never done this before, but I am excited to see how it goes! 

So as you have the football game on and the chili cooking today, I encourage you to try and improve a product! Let me know how it goes!

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Actively Teaching

One of my favorite things that I got this year was my fitbit! It is AMAZING to see how many steps you can get in a day. Many people in my school also got one and we have challenges throughout the building. 

Being active during the school day has really upped my teaching and my mood. A friend and I also go out and walk for 30-40 minutes on our lunch. When we get back in, I am ready to go! 

Our school started something called "Workout Wednesdays" where students and staff wear workout clothes and incorporate fitness somewhere into our day. It has completely changed the culture of our school! 

A great website for students is www.gonoodle.com. They have the best quick workouts! 

Do you have any good sites or activities to get kids (and staff) moving? Comment below!