Monday, July 27, 2015

Made It Monday - July 27th

Like so many others I have so many things I want to accomplish this summer. So far I have started many but have finished few. I am linking up with Tara from 4th Grade Frolics in the hopes that it will help me get motivated to finish my many projects.

I made these adorable bookmarks for my students. I am going to send them out this week with a letter reminding them to do their summer reading. I am also going to encourage their parents to join Bloomz before the school year starts so we can work out any issues before September. You can get these cute bookmarks here for free from Catherine Reed.

Next, I finally finished my Back to School Color by Numbers Activity. I can't wait to use it with my students in September. 

You can enter for a chance to win this product by going here.

Now head back to Tara's blog and see what everyone else has been making.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

New Back to School Product and A Giveaway!

My students absolutely love color by number math activities. I have created a few over the years. You can see them here.

For a while I have wanted to create a set of place value color by numbers. I always start off the year teaching/reviewing place value. This set is a way to ease the students back into school work while keeping it fun.
click the picture to go to product

This set contains 6 color by number worksheets. 3 of the pages concentrate on whole numbers while the other 3 focus on decimals.
Would you like to win a copy? Enter below. One lucky person will be picked on Thursday.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Readicide: Ending Readicide (week 5)

It's the final week of Focused on Fifth's book study, blog hop. If this is your first visit, you can get started here with chapter 1.

If you are an ELA teacher and haven't read Readicide by Kelly Gallagher, I can't recommend it enough. For me it has validated everything I was thinking and feeling about my current ELA instruction. I was trying to be a good teacher.  I was doing what was expected of me and what everyone else was doing. However, I was having a hard time following through. So much of the curriculum seemed pointless and just a bunch of busy work. There wasn't enough substance to the excerpts of novels in our anthology to develop a meaningful conversation. I wasn't sure what I needed to do to change that but I knew what I was doing wasn't working. I was contributing to Readicide.
Now let's take a look at the final chapter of Readicide.

My big take away from this last chapter - high stakes testing and narrow instruction is killing creativity. The can-do/risk taking spirit of Americans is becoming something of the past.

It amazes me with education being so "data driven" these days that we are not looking at countries like Finland (that top the world in math, science and reading) for ways to improve.

"How did the Finns build the best readers in the world? By eliminating standardized testing and emphasizing the importance of reading and critical thinking, by nurturing deeper thinking and creativity, and by leading their students away from the drill-and-kill instructional approach that is currently permeating American schools." Readicide (p.116)

One of the many things I love about this book is that it does not just tell you what is wrong, it gives you legitimate strategies to fix it.

In chapter 5, page 117, Gallagher gives I list of key elements of his 50/50 approach. This is a page I will be referring back to many times during this next year as I begin my personal war against Readicide in my classroom. I have chosen three elements to focus on in the coming school year.

1. Never lose sight that our highest priority is to raise students who become lifelong readers.

2. Understand that recreational reading actually is test preparation. When students read books recreationally they are building valuable knowledge capital that will help them in the future.

3. Recognize that "facts" change. Instead of memorizing them, teachers should spend more time teaching students how to think. Students need to do much more analysis, synthesis, and evaluation.

I am excited to have a new focus for the upcoming school year. Reading Readicide is just what I needed to give me the motivation to re-vamp my ELA instruction. I am looking forward to all the possibilities. 

It's been so much fun collaborating with the lovely ladies from Focused on Fifth and getting to know them better through their posts. I'm a little sad that this blog hop is coming to an end but I know there will be lots of collaboration in our future......stay tuned!

Now hop on over to Erin's blog, Learning to be Awesome, and see her final words on Readicide.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Readicide: Finding the "Sweet Spot" of Instruction (week 4)

Happy Tuesday! It's time for week 4 of our book study, blog hop of Readicide with the collaborators of Focused on Fifth. 

Chapter 4 - Finding the "Sweet Spot" of Instruction

My two big "take aways" from this chapter

1.  The not so new idea that it is all a balancing act
2. So much of students learning depends on background knowledge. 

Gallagher suggests using the Big Chunk/Little Chunk philosophy when teaching a novel. Gallagher has warned in previous chapters not to cut a novel into so many piece that the students lose interest. At the same time he realizes that we do need to teach close reading. Students need to be taught how to make connections, analyze a character's actions, identify foreshadowing, etc. What I personally need to do is not try to cram everything I need to teach into one novel. As a teacher, I need to figure out which standards would best go along with a particular novel.

Another thing I will work on this year is giving my struggling readers exposer to as many kinds of text as possible. Building their background knowledge is just as important as building their reading skills.

What will you do to prevent Readicide?

Keep hopping and head over to Erin's blog to see her thoughts on chapter 4.

Then be sure to come back next week when we discuss the final chapter of Readicide.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Pick 3: July Pinterest Linky

It's that time again! I am thrilled to be joining PAWSitively Teaching  and and Inspired Owl's Corner for their Pick 3 Linky.

It feel amazing to FINALLY be on summer vacation. It is day 4 for me. It was a LONG winter to say the least. I am ready to jump into summer mode and start doing all those things us teachers put on our "I'll do that in the summer" list.
Every year my parents host a 4th of July party and every year my mom comments on the cute 4th of July t-shirts I get for my children. She always says that she wishes they made them in adult sizes. Well, this year my children and I will be making her one of these. 
click photo to go to original pin
As well as adding some "fireworks" to the back like this.

click photo to go to original pin
We might just have to make these for the entire family - depending how motived we get.
The kids and I made these last 4th of July. It was a fun kids cocktail to make for Independence Day.
click photo to go to original pin

We took this idea and changed it a bit. Instead of bowling we created a ring toss game. Forming the rest of the glow sticks into rings, we placed the bottles on the stairs of our deck. The bottles on the higher steps were worth more points than the lower ones. The kids had a blast.

click photo to go to original pin
If you like these ideas, you can follow my "Summer Fun" board here.

Be sure to check out the other Pinterest ideas below.

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