A Nine Day Weekend

That's right. I had ZERO days of school last week. Now I love a good snow day as much as the next girl, but things have gotten a little excessive here in northern Virginia. I learned the hard way that my district administrators know what they are doing though! I decided to brave the ice on Friday and go into work, and slid right off the road. I am thankful to God, because if it had happened a few feet ahead or behind the spot it did, I would have run right into a deep DEEP ditch!

Anywho, I haven't had the chance to share what we've been up to lately (gosh, I can barely even remember).

We are studying penguins! With an emphasis on Emperor Penguins. We have added so much to our schemas since starting this unit.
This nonfiction book report is from my Comprehension Graphic Organizers pack on Teachers Pay Teachers. Click here to access this page for free!
I found this little Tacky the Penguin Freebie here on Teachers Pay Teachers!

Gotta do the weekly hand print craft--I love them because they are cute, parents cherish them, and I can have a parent volunteer do them in a short amount of time! At the end of the school year, I will bind the labeled hand print crafts from A-Z and it becomes a great keepsake for the students.
 We are also learning about fractions and retelling stories using story elements. I Looooove Pam Allyn's book, The Complete Year in Reading and Writing. It has become a great resource for me. I will be back soon to share some of our lessons from the week!

SMARTboard fun!

I have a love-hate relationship with my SMARTboard. I love it for the interaction and motivation-factor, but I've had my share of technical problems too. I've had my SMARTboard for several years now, and I am finally getting comfortable with creating my own activities. I've been more into "putting together" activities vs. creating them in the past. The SMART exchange website is great for pulling resources, but it definitely has its shortcomings too. So, I've taken the plunge.
I love this little game, and I just wanted to share it. The students simply build the words on the "cord" using the magnificent letter beads from Glitter Meets Glue Designs. Then, they click on the picture by the wonderful Teacher Laura, and the picture fades away, revealing the correct spelling of the word so that students can self-check. The "Yayyyyy" sound throughout my classroom when the word comes up is absolutely priceless. I am kicking myself for not making this game sooner!
Here is a picture of it in action. I promised myself no more crappy iPhone pictures this year, but oh, well! :)
You can get it here if you'd like to try it with your class. I really just wanted to share my excitement about it!

Organization 2014

Thank you, Blog Hoppin' for this fun linky party! Today it's all about organization.

I LOVE to be organized! There is nothing like a freshly organized cabinet or shelf. So inviting! Being organized does my heart good...except that keeping everything organized seems like it is virtually impossible sometimes. I am convinced that this is not solely because of my organizational habits (which admittedly need improvement), but partly due to us teachers having SO MUCH to manage at any given time.

Here are the books about organization on my kindle:

Yep... I had an "I've had it!" moment a couple of years ago (DROWNING in paperwork) and it prompted me to buy these three books. They've each been helpful in their own way and I must say I am better with organizing paperwork than I used to be! BUT... I need to go back and read through them again, because I know that there are some practices I've let go of (I just can't remember what they are lol). I do have a post here from the tips and tricks linky that shows you my "action vs. mail" boxes and my running to-do list that I keep at all times, both from one of these books. 

So here are a couple resolutions, because these are two areas of my classroom that need some desperate help: 

1. Craft Supply Cabinets
-Clear everything out
-Put items into appropriately-sized containers
-Label everything

2. The "Scary Drawer"
Am I the only one with a scary drawer? That drawer you stick things in you have no idea what to do with, but that you need out of your sight immediately? 
-Clear everything out
-PURGE whatever possible
-Make more pretty looking with colorful file folders
-Label the file folders

I will take pictures of the before and after! What do you need to reorganize in 2014?

Professional Goals Linky 2014

Hi everyone! It's Day 2 of the resolution linky with Blog Hoppin'!... OK, it's actually day 4, but better late than never! :) Today it's all about professional goals.
My school district actually requires us to create a professional goal each year. For the last few years, my goal has been related to guided reading instruction. See this post about using Jan Richardson's plan from her book The Next Step in Guided Reading. It took several years for me to really know her book inside and out. It has truly taken the stress and guesswork out of guided reading for me, and I just can't say enough about it. This is off topic, but... Jan Richardson is coming to my school district to do professional development this month!!! So my not-so-professional goal is to make the most of my time having her in person, ask well-thought out questions, and not droll too much like a pre-teen over a boy-band idol.

Now, onto math. Honestly, I used to hate teaching math. Looking back, I now know it's because I wasn't going deep enough with my mathematics instruction. This year, everything is different (it's been a slow process over a couple of years, but this is the first year I'm feeling pretty-darn-OK about math and actually LIKE it.)

2 books that have made the difference:

I took a course on Number Talks early in the year and it has made all the difference. My students are excited about math! I hear them playing and doing number talks on their own during station time! I have a way to go until I'm super confident, but I plan to do some posting about what my math instruction looks like in the coming months. I also have a few more books on teaching math that I plan to finish.

Goal: Finish at least one book on math instruction and attend some sort of professional development on teaching math.

What books on teaching math have helped your instruction?
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