Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Fall Fest and Halloween: Last minute details!

 My school participates in a Fall Festival the Friday before Halloween.  We celebrated with pumpkin races, a hay ride, and a harvest party like no other!  This was the first year of implementing my new "healthy choices" menu.  

The kids LOVED eating the Jack-o-Lantern sticks and dip!

How cute are the "nanner ghosts!"

We had a constant line at the veggie tray buffet!

I found some great freebies from TpT for Pumpkin Fun!  We weighed pumpkins and other harvest veggies.  We experimented with sink or float using the different vegetables.  There was even time for a Making Words activity!  Our work on writing included making books on how a pumpkin grows.

This making words activity is a wonderful freebie by Anna Bradley!  She is AWESOME!

Pumpkins, Pumpkins, and MORE Pumpkins!
Grab the writing activity for free over at Mrs. Reddick's TPT.

Candy Corn Estimation Bags

Estimation Fun

So now that Halloween is tomorrow, what are we planning?
Let's see...  How about some-

Perfect story for introducing our next pair of homophones!

Found this great anchor chart on Pinterest.  Thank you for sharing this great idea!

I created this additional anchor chart to map out a new non-fiction text.
We will use the purple stems first to record our prior knowledge on Halloween customs and symbols.
After reading our informational text, we will then add new learning on the green stems.

Hopefully we will have time to squeeze in a few more read-alouds too!

Signed just last week by none other than DENISE BRENNAN-NELSON herself!

This is my NEW Halloween FAVORITE!

Need more inspiration?  Check out my Pinterest board labeled "Halloween".  

Happy Halloween Everyone! Have a SpOoKtAcUlAr day!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

400 students + one celebrity = Fall Festival Fun!

This year, I have the honor of being President of the Toledo Area Council of the International Reading Association.  The Toledo Area Council of the International Reading Association or (TACIRA) is a non-profit, professional organization whose members are dedicated to improving reading instruction, promoting literacy, and encouraging life-long reading habits. We are affiliated with the Ohio Council of the International Reading Association (OCIRA) and the International Reading Association (IRA).

One tenacious duty of my presidency thus far: organize, plan, and host a celebrity author visit for students and teachers from local school districts.  I started this enormous task in early July.  Four months of rigorous planning and hard work finally paid off!  Today, with gorgeous blue skies and 75 degrees on a sunny, picture-perfect fall day, the TACIRA's Fall Festival welcomed national award-winning, best-selling author, Denise Brennan-Nelson!  I had butterflies all day!  I have adored her books, especially "Willow" and "Buzzy the Bumblebee".  Meeting Denise was truly an honor!

Spending the day with a famous children's author---What could be better than that?  Well something even more amazing was happening all around me.  "Standing room only" and children, children, everywhere!  Somehow I managed to invite 400 students accompanied by teachers, family, and friends that came out to support our LOVE of reading!  Being President of the best literacy organization in town sure is fun!

This was our first session of upper grade students!  Packed house indeed!

This was our second session of primary students and proud teachers!

Denise shared these story board illustrations from her first published book, "Buzzy the Bumblebee".

Denise talked about process and form with illustrations.

Denise used her arm BEE puppet to tell the story of Buzzy!

Look at these precious faces!  They love the BEE puppet!

Denise invited teachers to use 5 yellow and black pipe cleaners to design their very own Bumble Bee finger puppet!  These were GREAT and I can't wait to try this with the kids!

Here is Denise reading aloud "Buzzy the Bumblebee" to the audience!

Denise has a whopping 14 books published!  
Coming Soon:  "He's Been a Monster All Day"

My FAVORITE PICKS by Mrs. Nelson:





Denise also presented to a group of teachers later in the day and she had a very powerful tool with her... Perhaps her secret weapon to her success and motivation.  Take a look down below.  All of those journals belong to Denise.  Her lifetime collection of memories.  Her favorite is the old & delicate green journal on top, wrapped neatly in a polka-dot ribbon.  This journal belonged to her grandmother and was started in the 1930's.  

 I could feel my heart begin to swell as I made an instant connection with Denise's message.  Time may fade away, but the power of our written words last forever!  Reading and writing are gifts to us all
Denise went on to say that we can't expect our students to understand the  "Why do I really have to write this?"  until we, as parents & teachers, give them the motivation and inspiration that only comes from picking up a pen ourselves and modeling each and every day with a tone of excitement, anticipation, and suspense that lingers through the pages of our written words.  

As I drove home from the festival, I thought about my journals from my childhood days.  I thought about my poetry. I thought about my unfinished draft of a children's book that "Someday" I would love to finish.  Tonight, I am inspired to write.  Perhaps 2 or 3 lines, of anything that was sweet in my day or happy in my heart.  My ambition is to follow Denise's heartfelt advice and write a little, each night, so that someday I too can leave my mark somewhere on the pages of the story that is my life.

How do you intend to leave your mark?

International Reading Association - Newark, DE
Please join your local IRA organization and support teachers just like me!
 Often times we cannot always give from our wallets, but we can give our most precious gifts:
 volunteering our time and our talents to promote literacy in local communities!  

Saturday, October 13, 2012

A Moonlit Hallow's Eve

Did you notice the moods this week were, how shall I say, "spirited?"  I was also being attacked by this luring spirit, so what does a teacher do to get back on track?
One word: ART
Roll out the butcher paper and roll up them sleeves. 

Time to release those spooky behaviors into a Halloween abstract painting that is sure to catch your eye!  I remembered seeing a beautiful Halloween project over at Sandra's Savvy Teaching Tips..


I could not find the crafty little haunted houses to go with the project, but after all was said and done, I think the paintings express EXACTLY what the kids were feeling at that time...  Take a peek at our debut of "A Moonlit Hallow's Eve".  On exhibit now, at a hallway near you!  

PS~ The kids would tell you that our inspiration was Eric Carle and Van Gogh. Can you spot both techniques?

tempera paint
8 x 14 white construction paper
Black poster-size construction paper for backing
Black Sharpies for spooky figure silhouettes 
Gold Sharpies for the little artist signatures

Saturday, October 6, 2012

My CAFE Pensieve (Linky Party)

Did someone say....CAFE?
Well Hot**Diggity**Dog!

I think Jennifer O.over at Seriously Primary is pulling on my heartstrings because I LOVE ME some CAFE!  
 Ms. Oyler is hosting this lovely linky party with a focus on the CAFE Pensieve.  I was thrilled about that because I just put the  final touches on my Pensieve this week!  YIPPEE! So what are we waiting for! Let's get started. (Oh, by the way, I am, by no means, an expert.  We will leave that to the Sisters!)  

First, some background information:
This is my third year using Daily 5 and second year using CAFE.  Our district has adopted the Sisters' Framework and the CAFE! How cool is that!  Now all of our primary & intermediate teachers are getting on board with the best literacy framework...EVER!

My district also mandates the STAR online assessments for Early Literacy during the first few weeks of school.  This computer-based assessment, along with teacher observations and DRA's, allows me to get a head start on "book levels" for Daily 5 book tubs.  The STAR data also helps me to plan my focus lessons on those early literacy skills that need remediation.  After 11 years of teaching first grade and having a class-size of 26 students, I know I can't be Wonder Woman all the time! (Although I do have those bangled silver bracelets on my wish list for Christmas!!)
  For the first 5-6 weeks of school, I am the POST-IT queen!  I jot down quick notes on how Johnny is "Checking for Understanding" the wrong way or how Susie is "making predictions" independently.  
I log all my post-its inside the front cover of my Pensieve for safe-keeping.
Ah, Yes.   My dear sweet Pensieve. 

 She guards my secrets and holds onto those post-its well into first quarter.  I will break her in officially once my first quarter DRA's are completed.  Now I love the data that a DRA can give me on a child's reading habits.  Extremely informative.  Extremely LONG!  Since it's just me, I average 1-3 students a day.  I do the DRA during Rounds of Daily 5.  Since we are at the start of the year, that is less than 20 minutes per round so I really have to hustle!   Currently, I am half way through them.  I know.  SLOW going.  But did I mention I am the LONE Ranger! (wink, wink!)  Fast forward another week into October and that Pensieve is ready to Rock and Roll!  The Daily 5 Rounds will be in full swing and hopefully I can squeeze 20-25 minutes per round--3 Rounds total. 
During Round 1:  
Teacher Target Goal: One-on-One's with four to five students.
Round 2: 
 Teacher Target Goal: 2 Strategy Groups (12 minutes each)
Round 3:
 Teacher Target Goal: 2 Strategy Groups (12 minutes each)

It's at this point where I christen the Pensieve and start my official documentation on the recording sheets.

Can I get a DRUM ROLL please!
The sneak peek inside my beloved.....
Inside Tabs :
Calendar, Strategy Groups, Critter Cafe Menu, Blooming Orange, DRA Levels, RTI Menu, RTI Protocol, CAFE CODES
The numbered tabs 1-26 are for my students data and documentation.  This saves me from having to retype and re-label tabs with students names each year.  Assigning a number works so much better!
I have monthly appointment schedule to record my one-on-one's and strategy groups each week.  This was a free download on one of the many links provided on the Sisters website.
Available from the Sisters website!  Strategy Groups and Instruction Planning Sheet-
This is a copy of my Critter CAFE menu which I aligned to the Sisters framework for the Litercy CAFE. 
 On my menu, I have the Critter name, I can strategy statement, and CCSS.  I use this to guide conferring lessons and  plan my strategy groups.   (This adjusted menu is for my classroom use only and respectively cannot be shared in light of their copyright.)
Found this online and LOVE it!  Quick and Easy reference to get a conversation and dialogue started during conferring !
This is like your American Express card: Never leave home without it!
The new Fountas and Pinnell Leveling System!  OOLALA!  Free download at their website.
Jen Jones makes me HAPPY!
She has given teachers an amazing FREE RTI reference Menu that you can download from TPT!
This is my District's graphic organizer of the RTI process at a glance, over one school year.  And yes, it's folded in half.  SORRY!
 If your like me, I use codes for everything!  That's why I am secret spy!  HAHA!  (Don't I wish!)
I found this TOTALLY Awesome Code Sheet from Trish Prentice at the Literacy Cafe website.  This was a free download but cannot link due to website restrictions.  Go grab this fabulous freebie!

Now for a look inside the Student Section!  
Here is what I keep records on for each student:

How awesome is this!  The next 3 photos are from a fantastic freebie I found  searching Google!
Not sure about the copyright so here is the link you can search:
The Daily 5 mini-launching pack for reading workshop
by Ms. Thelen, 2012
Thank you Ms. Thelen for your talent and time with these amazing assessment tools!

This is my Writing Data Sheet for the 6 Traits.  Copied it right from the book.  I left it at school so I will add the link on Monday!
This is my favorite!  Probably because I made it for the Critter Cafe!  It is my CAFE tracking sheet.
I will keep track of student growth for each reading strategy by highlighting using  the following code:
Blue = Emerging
Yellow = Progressing
Pink = Mastery
The students can help with the highlighting to feel that sense of ownership in their learning!
Well there she is....My Pensieve from cover to cover!  I hope I was able to help you get organized.  


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