Monday, August 19, 2013

Orange You Glad to be in {1st/2nd/3rd/4th/5th/6th} Grade!

I made this banner for my classroom and haven't been able to get a decent photo of it. Trust me, it looks great in person. This is a perfect end-to-summer and back-to-school welcome banner for your new class. As a bonus, it's 20% off (and another 10% off with code: BTS13) today only.

And, a bonus, bonus! I included citrusy nameplates to match!

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Reading Workshop - the first four weeks

The past four weeks of school have gone by in the blink of an eye. I've had hardly a moment to even think about taking photos for a blog post. But, I did want to make a quick post about my first experiences with Reading Workshop. I'm using a variety of resources to help me get started from Fountas & Pinnell to Pinterest. The only other teacher I know using it is at another school, so I am lucky to have her as a resource, although I wish we were closer.

So, what have we accomplished in four weeks?
* We built up stamina and we are now reading for 30-40 minutes!
* I have a student who is below a 3rd grade reading level but insists on reading above grade level material. I was able to hook him with with the Fabelhaven audiobook and he is now reading the entire time and is comprehending what he is reading.
* The first week I made some brief observations while the students were reading.
* It took me nearly two weeks but I interviewed each student about their reading. I loved these first conferences and getting to chat with my students.
* I was debating whether or not to complete a BRI assessment or just use the data from their AIMS tests. I decided more data and getting a chance to actually hear their fluency was the best way to go, so I started those last week.
* I'm hoping to get those assessments finished this week and begin small group/guided reading.
* We've completed a variety of mini-lessons with anchor charts and are already becoming better readers!
* We've reflected on our growth and areas for improvement.
* We've read A LOT!

What do I think of Reading Workshop so far?
I absolutely LOVE it! I wish I had learned about this sooner! I'm excited about the growth my students are going to make this year!

On Friday my students wrote me a quick letter about Reading Workshop and I had to share a few of my favorite. It really gives you an idea of how much the students are getting out of it already!

I wrote back to every single student and, although exhausting, I know the students will be appreciative and it will continue to support their growth in reading.

There were a couple of people asking me about the reading interviews that I completed with each student. The point of this is to actually connect with the students as a sort of first or pre-conference and show interest in each of them as a reader. This is not to be handed out for the students to fill out, but for the teacher to actually interview everyone. My Reading Workshop binder is filling up with data, observations, and their interview notes. The interview questions I adapted from Day-to-Day Assessment in the Reading Workshop: Making Informed Instructional Decisions in Grades 3-6 by Sibberson and Szymusiak. You can get the copy I whipped up, for free, from my Facebook Fan Freebie page! 

Since I am still feeling my way around Reading Workshop I'd love more ideas/resources/links. Send them my way please!

And, I've already purchased some goodies from the HUGE Back-to-School TpT sale. Don't forget it is today and tomorrow only. All items in my store are 20%, plus use the code BTS13 for an extra 10% off!

Saturday, August 17, 2013

2013 Back-to-School Sale!

Every time I think about the TpT BTS Sale this August 18 - 19 (for some of you it's already started!) I get a bit giggly. It's hilarious to me to think that we have been back in school for a whole four weeks and many of you teachers have just started or still have some of your sweet vacation left. Regardless, a TpT sale is a big deal! Sunday and Monday you get 20% off my TpT store, and many other stores, plus you get an additional 10% off by using code BTS13.

(Thank you Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah for this gorgeous banner!)

Some bloggers put together this excellent link up to share some wish list items.

I was honestly surprised to see how many people have wish listed some of my items. I'm both flattered an humbled. What wasn't surprising was the top wish listed items, they also happen to be my top sellers. 
My #1 wish listed item is The American Revolution Lapbook/Interactive Notebook. I absolutely love putting together foldables with my students and I started getting into lapbooks a couple of years ago. Last year this was my big project and I hope to put together a few more this year. Perhaps on explorers, the 13 colonies, westward expansion, and maybe even the civil war. 
The second most wish listed item is Calendar Math for Upper Grades. When I moved down to 5th grade last year I left a somewhat departmentalized 6th grade and I hadn't taught math in years. I knew that I wanted some kind of spiral review for my students and I know that calendar math in the lower grades really helps students see patterns in math, so I developed this for my intervention class. My kiddos work on this with one of our intervention aids and she does a fabulous job. 
This product has 4 different sheets of math intended to be two back-to-back worksheets and was intended to be used for the first semester. Because my intervention kiddos needed even more practice with these skills they weren't ready for a new sheet and this took them through the whole year. I do intend on making a second semester though I'd love some feedback and ideas for what to include!

Although I made a set of Common Core posters last year I absolutely fell in love with Jason's Online Classroom's poster set. These include "I can..." statements but the selling point is the example! Wow, what a great thing to include for both students AND teachers! 

What's on your wish list???

Friday, August 9, 2013

Fabulous Feedback Linky

Oh my goodness! I can't believe we just finished our third (yes, THIRD) week of school! We've been working working working non-stop and I haven't even had time to take photos or blog much. Being team leader this year doesn't help carve out any extra time.

The beginning of school in brief:

  • I'm loving reading workshop so far. My kids have awesome independent reading stamina, we just need to work on our sit at the carpet for a mini-lesson stamina! Most of my kids have finished at least one book so far and I am finishing up my reading interest interviews. I'm learning so much about their feelings about reading as well as their likes and dislikes.
  • We are in the midst of our JA BizTown lessons. Our BizTown simulation is set for mid-September so we need to cram in all the lessons ASAP. This being the second time doing BizTown I am able to better adjust the lessons to help my students get the most out of them in preparation.
  • Class Dojo is a hit with my new class. It has really helped me highlight the positive behaviors and acknowledge the kids when they are being rock stars! I especially love "catching" positive behaviors in the students that struggle to make good choices and hearing the affirming ding from Class Dojo.
  • I did a major overhaul to my classroom economy system. So far it is much smoother/easier, and the kids are enjoying it. 

My goal for next week is to take some photos for a proper blog post. Today I am excited to join in with Bunting, Books, and Bainbridge's Fabulous Feedback Linky!

When I've been using my phone for Class Dojo this year I've had to make sure I fully mute it, because the notification vibration was distracting. Most of those notifications were TpT feedback. I've had a flurry of great comments in the past few weeks! I appreciate all of them but wanted to share two of my favorite.

maestraw left this very kind feedback for the American Revolution Lapbook.  I'm so glad his/her class was able to enjoy making their lapbooks and, maestraw, I'd love to offer you a freebie...anything in my store. Just contact me and let me know what you'd like! Thank you for your kind kind words.

Jeanette Rivera left the following sweet feedback for my Healthy Testing Treat Labels. Thanks Jeanette, let me know what you would like from my store! Your feedback is oh so appreciated!

And thank you to all of the wonderful TpTers who have left feedback for me. Don't forget to leave feedback for sellers products and freebies! It helps us to provide helpful resources and to improve them!

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Facebook Fan Only Freebies

I have just added a Fan Freebie section to my Facebook page! After about an hour of fiddling with the Static HTML app I think I've managed to get it set up and added my first freebie!

Last year I created a classbook bulletin board in my classroom. Some of you were interested in purchasing this for your own classroom and I finally put together the files.

If you'd like to purchase it, I just added it to the store. But...if you'd like it for free just head over to the Upper Grades are Awesome Facebook page, click the "like" button, and you'll be see the Fan Freebie link which will take you to the free download! It seems fitting that my first Facebook Fan Freebie is for the Classbook bulletin board!

Please let me know if you have trouble downloading the file from Facebook, but when I tested it out it went smoothly! Enjoy, and thanks for being a fabulous follower!