Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Wordless Wednesday: My Date With Lifetime - December 17th



Christmas break is three days away.
Can you tell what I'm planning on doing for the first couple days of break?
I'm not ashamed to admit I have eight Lifetime Christmas movies on our DVR right now.
#ican'twait

Do you have a lazy day (or two) planned for your winter break?
Leave me a comment below and let me know what your lazy day plans are! 
:)

Link up with me below or have fun browsing through everyone else's Wordless Wednesday pictures this week! 

Monday, December 15, 2014

Take A Closer Look: Winter Text Evidence FREEBIES!

Hi everyone!
I am teaming up with some great teacher bloggers to bring you another Take a Closer Look blog hop featuring one of our favorite Winter Themed products!  We want to give you a closer look and a FREEBIE from the product to try out with your students.

This month, I want to give you a closer look at my Winter Text Evidence Reading Passages.
This winter version is packed with 44 paired passages. Each of the 22 relevant social studies and science topics comes with both a fiction passage and an informational text.  
Students read the passage three times for fluency and color a snowflake each time they read. There are three text dependent questions and students use crayons, colored pencils, or markers to go back into the text and find the answer.  Each passage also comes with a Common Core based written response comprehension question. The written response questions cover a wide variety of skills for both literacy and informational text. 



These passages are PERFECT to use for reading centers, partner work, independent literacy centers, guided reading, close reading, homework, and sooo much more! 


Did you know all of my reading products in my TpT store have free samples in the preview downloads? You can snag two freebie passages from this pack by clicking HERE to download it from Google Docs.  (You can also get it from my TpT store by downloading the preview download HERE.)



Like it? Love it?
Gotta have it?


This pack is 20% off today and tomorrow!
Click HERE or click the picture below to grab the pack in my TpT store!

And now, I'm sending you off to another amazing freebie!
Hop on over to my my friend Becca's blog from Teaching First by clicking HERE or on the picture below!

Thanks for taking a Closer Look with us this month!
Happy Monday and of course...

Saturday, December 13, 2014

My Week in Pictures: Understanding Schema, Life Decisions, and SDE!

Happy Saturday! Is anyone else exhausted or is it just me?  The two weeks leading up to Christmas break are always so tiring! I find myself jam-packing my lessons in order to keep a routine with my kids but also needing to add in all of the fun and exciting Christmas activities that I want to share with them.

Here's our week in pictures, sprinkled with randomness and ideas for helping your students understand and activate schema while they read!

We used a lint roller to illustrate what happens in our brain when we use what we already know as we read new books.  I explained that everything we already know is stuck in our brains, just like things stick to a lint roller.  As we learn new information and/or have new experiences in life, our new learning sticks in our brain as well.  Our schema continues to grow throughout our lives and we use everything we already know to help us understand what we read!  

The lint roller ideas comes from the amazing Tanny McGregor's book, Comprehension Connections.  Do you have this book? If you don't, it's a MUST. It's filled with fabulous ideas that make reading strategies come to life for our kids. 

Find it here:

To really illustrate the concept of schema to my students, I wanted to choose a book they could easily relate to in order to help them activate their schema.  I thought the book, Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day would be perfect!

We used our schema to make some inferences about how Alexendar was feeling throughout the book.  My students did a great job with backing up the feeling with evidence from the text because they had lots of schema about the things Alexander was going through. Many of them knew what it felt like to fight with a sibling, step in gum, etc.

As we read through the book, we activated our schema before we made an inference. We wrote down experiences we have had on little strips of paper, and we stuck them to the lint roller.   

We also made our own Schema Posters to hang in our hallway.  This really helped to illustrate that everyone's schema is different.  The students drew pictures of things they already knew a lot about.  We all shared three things we drew on the poster to help students recognize that everyone brings their own unique experiences, memories, and feelings into a book. 


To make these posters, we used Krista Wallden's Character Doodles.  I simply printed them out and let the kids decorate the faces.  Then, they cut the top of the heads so that we could "see" what they already knew inside their brains. :) Easy, effective, and fun!

In other news this week, I had a BIG day on Monday! I presented my very first session for SDE!  I was so proud to put on my purple Practitioner ribbon and give this new experience a try. I had so much fun and LOVED every single minute of it!! I got to spend some time with the amazing Kathy Griffin and my sweet friend Amanda Nickerson, who both presented as well!  I'm so, so thankful for such a wonderful experience.  It made me SO excited to present for them this summer in Vegas! Yayy!!

Last night was our staff Christmas party.  It is always a white elephant gift and no one ever buys anything for it. We find random things from around the house or make something. Here's a picture of the white elephant gift I brought to the party: Life Decisions Kit (rock, paper, scissors)!  My sweet principal was the one who ended up taking it home! 

Want to make your own Life Decisions Kit? Grab a glass jar, some ribbon to decorate the top of it, and drop some paper, a rock, and a small pair of scissors into it. 

You can grab the label I used on my jar by clicking HERE.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Describe, Draw, Write! Oral Language Writing Game (freebie!)

Happy Monday, friends!   I get to spend the day hanging out with new friends at the Ohio K-3 Literacy Conference! It's my very first time presenting for SDE and let's just say.... I'm a little super nervous! If you've followed me on my blog or on Instagram for awhile, you know oral language development is something I have become SO passionate about, so I'm really excited to get to share tons of ideas and activities with teachers today! I hope I can effectively share the value of explicit oral language activities in the classroom and how it has improved my students as writers. :)

I also hope...
1) I don't forget what to say
2) I don't throw up from being so nervous
3) my students are listening to directions for my sub, so they don't cause her to want to pick up a big bottle of red wine by the end of the day.
4) our Elf on the Shelf did not fall from the whiteboard while I am away, which would ultimately cause my kids to go wild, and without doubt, cause the sub to want to pick up TWO big bottles of red wine by the end of the day.

Here's a picture of my slideshow that was set up in my living room a few nights ago!
Can you spot Weston in the background thinking, "Why is my mommy talking to a wall?!?"

Here is a picture of what my SUPER SWEET husband did for me the other night! He labeled all of my technology so that I could hook everything up on my own. Awwwwww!

My presentation can only be 75 minutes long and well...if you know me - you know I LOVE to talk to teachers!! It was so hard to fit everything in, so I decided to share an activity on my blog for all of the participants and for everyone at home! :) Here we go!

I'm calling this activity: Describe, Draw, Write! This is a partner game, but you could certainly model it in a whole class activity, too. It's a great idea to talk about adjectives and describing words prior to this activity, because you can use this game to really encourage descriptive language!

Here's how you play:
Partner A is the describer and Partner B is the illustrator.  Partner A holds a picture in his hand and does NOT show it to his partner. He must describe everything he can about the picture using COMPLETE SENTENCES.  Partner B can ask any questions she wants to try to find out more about the picture.  As Partner A is describing the photograph, Partner B illustrates and draws the picture, trying to get as close as she can to what the picture might actually look like. When the time is up (The time is up when the queen or king of the classroom - aka YOU - says "Time Up!"), Partner A shows the picture to the illustrator.
Then, the kids switch roles with a NEW picture to describe and draw. 

Get ready for laughter and squeals - they LOVE to see how their illustration compares to the real photograph!! This activity has been a HUGE hit in my classroom and it has really developed conversation between my students, as well as questioning skills and descriptive language. It's also eye-opening to identify the students who need more practice asking specific questions and understanding your students' descriptive vocabulary.


After the students have played both the "illustrator" and the "describer" role, they glue their real photographs beside their drawing.  Now, students head back to their desks and it is time to WRITE about their picture!  I had my students write informative pieces about their picture, since that is our focus this quarter. However, you could have them write descriptive pieces, narratives - the possibilities are endless!!  The students LOVE to go back and write about their picture because they feel a true sense of ownership to the photo after being engaged in the partner activity.

Want to try it out in your own classroom?!

Click HERE for enough pictures to do this activity three times with your class!
I've also included two different versions of the writing template that I used with this oral language and writing game.


I hope you enjoy this oral language and writing activity!

If you came to my session today, THANK YOU sooo much!!! I truly, truly appreciate you!!

Have a wonderful week!  

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Dendrites, Thinking, and Learning Seeds!

Our brains have been SO busy this week! We've been studying metacognition and learning how important it is to think about what we read and write. Here are a few highlights from our week:


First, we broke out our big thinking cloud and used it it to make our thinking concrete! My kiddos loved "showing" the class what they were thinking!

We spent a few days reading the book, What Would You Do With a Tail Like This?
We had to think about what animals were on the page and what they would use their various body parts for.  We learned so many interesting facts along the way!
When we were talking about our brains, one of my little sweeties had an AMAZING connection!  He told me that thinking was kind of like a flower seed. A seed makes a flower grow, and thinking makes your brain grow! Why didn't I think of that?!
So I wrote this little song for my kids to help them remember that thinking makes their brains grow!


You can grab your own copy of this song/poem by clicking HERE to download it from Google Docs.  Enjoy!

Yesterday, we drew pictures of what we thought our brain looked like while we were thinking! Take a look at my kiddos' amazing illustrations! 



I had so much fun listening to my first graders explain to me what was going on in their little brains while they were thinking!

Take a look:

I hope you enjoyed our metacognition activities!

Thank you so much for stopping by!  The hubby and I are headed to dinner this evening and then I am spending the night getting my things packed and ready for my first SDE session on Monday! Yay!! I am so excited to share some oral language and writing activities with some new friends. :) 

 I'll be back Monday with a post about some bonus ideas and activities that I wasn't able to fit into my session for Monday! :) Stop and visit to pick up some new oral language ideas for your classroom.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Wordless Wednesday: It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas!


I'm breaking my own rule today! I'm sharing three Christmas pictures with you. 
They are also repeats of Instagram pictures.  I'm hoping you won't mind since they are fun - and they make me smile! :)

This is a picture of my husband and I.  He's on the right and I'm on the left. Doesn't it look like us?! We're always on our phones.  We couldn't pass up adding this little cutie to our tree! :)

It's Christmas time at our house! We had so much fun decorating last week. Weston's new hobby is sleeping under the tree...UNDER the tree skirt. #mydogisstrange #ilovehimanyways

My super sweet friend Caity at school is helping me with our elf on a shelf extravaganza.  Tomorrow, Christopher the Elf is having a campfire and roasting marshmallows with the Headsprout bee from Learning A-Z!  
(Yes, I stabbed the toothpick into his hand.  I couldn't figure out how else to get it to stay haha!! Poor little bumblebee.)

You get your choice of three questions today! 1) What is your favorite ornament? 2) Did you decorate for Christmas yet? 3) Are you doing Elf on a Shelf with your class?


I'd love to know!! :) Link up with me below or visit the next blog! Please don't forget to link back to my blog post so others can find your blog. :) Grab the image at the top of this post.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Last Call! What's In Your Cart?

There are only a few hours left for the Teachers Pay Teachers Cyber Monday & Tuesday Sale! Have you shopped yet?!  I'm ready to check out for the second time! :) 

EVERYTHING in my store is 20% off and an extra 10% off when you use to code TPTCYBER!

Here are some of my favorite resources lately that I am using in my classroom.
Click on each cover to check out the product in my store!
Happy Shopping!











Stop by my store by clicking on the button below. :) 


My friends and I over at The Primary Chalkboard are also hosting a fun Christmas Advent event! Every day, one of us will be hosting a FREE or 50% off item over at the site! Stop by every day during the month of December for a fun holiday treat!! 
Click HERE or click below to head over