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 They have the best quick workouts! 

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

Friday, January 20, 2017

Common Core

Well it's officially the time of year where I start to see what I have taught my students and what we still need to hit. We use Lucy Calkin's Reading and Writing Workshop. I love the workshop format, but there are definitely some gaps when looking at the Common Core standards!

Every year, I print out the standards and highlight what I still need to get to. I always seem to have the most highlights in the "Language" section. Giving students the freedom to choose what they want to read just does not cover those grammar and language standards! 

I decided to create a pack that covered the standards that I think my students are lacking the most within that standard! I plan to use this pack as morning and warm up work for a quick 5-10 minutes a day.

            Click here to try the pack in your class!

I created these sheets to go quickly (there just isn't enough time!) I have the students try the sheet on their own and then use the "going over" time to teach a QUICK but effective lesson on that skill. 

I am going to try and do just one skill a day for the next few days. Hopefully, the students will start to apply these skills in their writing, spelling, and reading! 

If you have any tricks for squeezing in these skills, let me know!

Check out other common core products below!

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Incorporating Social Studies into ELA

I always like to incorporate the upcoming holidays/events into my classroom. With the inauguration tomorrow and President's Day in a few weeks, I found the perfect opportunity to use my President's Day themed task cards!

These fit perfect into my ELA centers and tied everything together. In Social Studies, we watched a video and discussed the formalities of a presidential inauguration. The students are always interested when you incorporate real life current events!

There are also some great articles on These were perfect for combining Social Studies with ELA reading comprehension! I usually bring my students to the rug and start by going over any vocabulary words I think they may need help with. We then read the article together and discuss it. I send the students off with a partner to read and answer the questions. The students use highlighters to find their answer in the text. 

*Depending on the difficulty of text, I've also done this in groups where the higher group reads independently, the middle group works with a partner or two, and the lower group stays with me.

If you would like to live stream the inauguration tomorrow you can watch it at

If you try house the task cards, let me know how your kids liked them!

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Using Text Evidence

So one thing my students struggle with every year is using text evidence. They seem to have the hardest time finding something from the text to support there answer. I also usually get "I know this because in the text it says it" (one of my biggest pet peeves!"). I couldn't really find any worksheets that walk students through supporting from the text using the steps:

1. Answer the question
2. Support with a quote from the text
3. Defend your support (this shows, this proves)

So I created my own worksheets!

I tried them out in my class today... what a success! I actually felt like for the first time my students understood what I was talking about (yay!).

I'm going to do one sheet a day for five days as warm up work and then have them do a "readworks" passage (an awesome site! If you haven't used their FREE texts, try them out.) and see if they can apply what we've learned to the open ended questions.

              Click here to get your own sheets!

If you try them out in your own class, please comment and let me know how they worked! I'd love to hear from you.

Main Idea and Details

My students recently started non-fiction reading. One thing that I wanted to make sure they understood was locating the main idea and details. I had a hard time finding any materials that would be engaging for them. So, I created my own! 

I tried out this Main Idea and Details Sort with QR Codes and the students LOVED them! I threw these into my center time. The kids take one set and have to decide which card is the main idea and two supporting details. I also have one card that has extra information. The kids used their chromebook to scan the QR Codes so they can check if they are right. 

For my higher students, I created these main idea and detail task cards. This allows the students to read a full paragraph and identify the main idea and details. This was great for a little extra challenge!

I think my students are really starting to understand it!

Welcome to my class!

My name is Melanie and I have been teaching for five years. I currently teach in the fourth grade. My main focus is Language Arts, but you will also find me talking about some math and Spanish ideas, as well! You can visit my Teachers Pay Teachers store here! Follow me to see my newest freebies and products.