Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Grades 1-3 Opinion Writing!

Hello everyone!  I know it's been a little while since our last post but I just got back from sunny Florida (although we saw mostly rain and clouds-haha) As soon as I returned I've been busy finishing up my latest unit. As Jayme promised in her last post here is a sneak peak of our opinion writing pack.... 
This 39 page unit is a jam-packed resource with what you'll need to encourage your students to be opinionated writers! You can check it out at our TPT store.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Schedule Spotlight Series- Writing

We're linking up with Kelli from Castles and Crayons for another week of her Schedule Spotlight Series!

This week's topic is writing and I will admit, I have never seemed to find any one thing that works for me. I have changed how I have taught writing every year that I have been teaching. This year is no different. With writing being a 'big push' in Common Core, I sat down to brainstorm how I would tackle writing this year. Below I will explain what I came up with. But please keep in mind....I haven't even tried this yet! It could be a huge disaster or a huge success but I won't even know until late September if I like how it is working or not. So here it goes:

Last week I wrote that I incorporate my writer's workshop into Daily 5. I will be doing the same this year. However, I am not leaving one of my mini-lessons for writing. I am leaving a 30 minute block that will include a whole-group lesson, modeling, and independent practice for my kiddos.  
This year our grade level decided to focus on 1 specific writing type per quarter- 
Quarter 1: Narrative Writing
Quarter 2: Opinion Writing
Quarter 3: Informative Writing
Quarter 4: Review, Shared Research Writing

So, while we may only be working on 1 piece of writing a quarter, I will be incorporating focus lessons on the 6 + 1 traits as well. I am hoping it will look something like this:

We spend the first few weeks each quarter learning about the writing type, brainstorming ideas and beginning our writing pieces. Then, the next week I might focus on how to add voice to our writing. We will then go back and visit what we had previously written to revise and edit for voice. The following week we may discuss organization. Again, we will go back into the same writing piece and revise and edit for organization. I hope that by the end of each quarter, each student will have a strong piece of writing to reflect each writing type. 

This WILL NOT be the only writing they do! During work on writing, I am planning to give them smaller story prompts to work on. I will be able to see if they are able to apply our whole group lessons to their work independently. This will vary, as some weeks they will be able to have 'free writing' in their journals. 

My fingers are crossed that this will work! I guess I will need to follow-up to this post in a few months! Below I thought I would leave you with all of the writing resources I have gathered and collected to use this year (Thank you TpT!) Maybe you will find them useful in your classroom as well.

To set up work on writing in Daily 5:

To set up the foundation of Writer's Workshop (my 30 minute instructional block):

Common Core aligned teaching packs for each writing type:

Common Core Informational Text Writing (Grades 1-3)

Common Core Opinion Writing (Grades 1-3) &
Common Core Narrative Writing (Grades 1-3).....Coming soon!

Mini-Lessons for teaching writing traits:

Product Details

Be sure to link up and let us know how you teach writing in your classroom!

Thursday, July 11, 2013


It makes for a happy Tuesday when you sit down to do some blogging and notice you have been nominated for an award! Thanks to Regina from Keepin' It Krazy for sending the Leibster Award our way.

So in order to accept, we need to follow the 'rules' for the nomination:
1. Link back to the blog that nominated you.
2. Nominate 5-11 blogs with fewer than 250 followers.
3. Answer questions posted for you by your nominator.
4. Share 11 random facts about yourself......(is it me or does that seem like alot?!)
5. Create 11 questions for your nominees.
6. Contact your nominees either through their blog or by email.

Here are the questions that were sent our way:
1. How long have you been teaching?
Val is heading into her 6th year of teaching and I'm headed into my 5th year. 
2. What grades have you taught and which one is your favorite?
We have both only taught 2nd.....pretty easy to say which one we love the best!
3. Do you prefer to go into school early or stay late?
Early for sure. I love getting there when the halls are quiet and I don't have to wait in line for the copy machine! 
4. What are your hobbies?
Aside from teaching, blogging and creating? Working out, reading, pinning lots of pins that I think I will actually try and of course, hanging with the hubs!
5. If you could travel anywhere, where would it be?
Honestly? I would love to go to Europe and spend weeks traveling through all of the different countries. I'm hoping to have enough saved by the time I retire ;)
6. When did you decide to be a teacher?
I was in 2nd grade myself. I had the most fabulous teacher and I wanted to be just like her. 
7. How many siblings do you have?
3- 1 little sister and 2 little brothers (who are not so little any more.....)
8. What is your favorite subject to teach and why?
Depends on the day, depends on the lesson. I like all of them the best at one time or another.
9. What is your favorite food?
Mashed potatoes.....seriously
10. What is your favorite type of movie?
Either a good love story or a good comedy....depends on my mood.
11. What is your favorite part about blogging?
Getting so many great ideas from other wonderful teachers.

And for the random facts......
1. I have always lived in Ohio.
2. I did gymnastics for 18 years.
3. I'm born on the 4th of July....and I love it!
5. I have never broken a bone. (Knock on wood!)
6. I love my orange juice with lots of pulp. (I know, that usually grosses everyone out)
7. I didn't become a dog lover until the hubs and I got one back in college.  
8. My first time leaving the country was on my honeymoon.
9. Some people are terrified of driving over bridges....I'm terrified of driving over train tracks. 
10. I love thunderstorms!

Here are the questions for our nominees:
1. What grade do you teach?
2. What grade is your favorite to teach?
3. How long have you been blogging?
4. Do you have any pets?
5. Where was the last placed you vacationed?
6. Chocolate or vanilla?
7. What is your favorite season?
8. Have you always wanted to be a teacher?
9. What college did you graduate from?
10. If you could meet anyone famous, who would it be?
11. What is your favorite children's book?

And our nominees are....

Be sure to head over to their blogs and check them out!

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Schedule Spotlight Series- Daily 5

It's that time of the week again.....we're linking up with Kelli from Castles and Crayons for her Schedule Spotlight Series

When it comes to Daily 5 I feel like there is not much to say. Then again, I feel like I have too much to say!

We get back from lunch at 12:20 and take a quick restroom break. By 12:30, we are in the room and ready to go. The intervention specialist comes to work with some kiddos from 12:40-1:20, so I had to re-arrange my schedule just a bit to make sure she could  meet with as many small groups as possible!

12:30-12:45-- Mini-Lesson
12:45-1:00-- Round #1
1:00-1:15-- Round #2
1:15-1:30-- Mini-Lesson
1:30-1:45- Round #3
1:45-2:00-- Mini Lesson

ROUNDS: Each morning the kiddos come in and make 3 choices. I keep all 4 choices (read to self, read to someone, work on writing and word work) in little tins. If they have meet with teacher or listening to reading, I make that choice for them. So, sometimes they come in and only need to make 1 or 2 choices. The order of their choices is the 'round' in which they will go to that choice. I have a rule that only 6 people can do read to someone each round. While announcements are on, I quickly run down each round and make sure there are an even number (and less than 6!) of students who have chosen read to someone.

The kids have a Daily 5 contract that they fill out each week too. (Thanks to Christina over at Sugar and Spice, who made it a few years back)
Every morning they have to mark off their choices. They have a certain number of time they can visit one station before they are done for the week. (We all know those kids who have their favorite station....) I also give them an assignment or two to complete during a station. I just type it on their contract and that is their reminder they have work to do for me before they can do the other choices (write in their journal, letter tiles, etc.) I collect all work and contracts on Friday. This is the easiest way to make sure every kiddo is getting to every station and they have an entire week to get their work done, which leaves them the choice about when to do it!
When it is time to break for rounds, I just call each station one at a time and the kids who are headed there get started. The kiddos who are meeting with me, head to our table and they are ready to go by the time I finish dismissing the rest of the class!

MINI-LESSONS: I am re-arranging my mini-lesson schedule this year. But I will share what worked for me last year. This schedule was set up because we used Reading Street. However, we are not using any basal this year, so I have some revamping to do! I also had to move my writing block to this time, so you will notice that one mini-lesson each day was devoted to my writing lessons. 

Monday: #1- Listen to Story
#2- Grammar 
#3- Writing

Tuesday: #1- Comprehension Skill
#2- Vocabulary (my kiddos loved using Teaching Vocabulary with Picture Books from Melissa McMurray!)
#3- Writing

Wednesday: #1- Listen to Story
#2- Grammar
#3- Writing

Thursday: #1- Comprehension Skill
#2- Cafe Strategy
#3- Writing

I kept the same schedule each week. Then, depending on what skill or strategy we were working on, I just stuck those activities in at the correct time each week. It made it so much easier to plan.

I love Daily 5 because I think it can be used and interpreted in so many ways. Be sure to link up and share what Daily 5 looks like in your classroom!

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

It's the Fourth of July!

To celebrate the holiday, our TpT store is having a 20% off sale on Wednesday and Thursday. Interested in the sale too? Head over to Flying into First Grade to join in!

Monday, July 1, 2013

July Currently

Apparently I am late to this party! Wow, so many bloggers have already linked up with Farley for her monthly linky party. 

Listening: Pandora. It is so quiet around here during the day....just me and the dogs (who have no interest in getting out of bed!) I need to hear something in the background.

Loving: Hoping that this rain goes away so we can spend my birthday at the lake. I still have a few days to decide where to head to dinner too. Hmm....

Thinking: Let me tell you that we moved my 'office' into our guest room about 3 months ago. Actually, it was more like dumped everything from one room on top of the stuff in the other room. And it stayed that way. For 3 months. Now I no longer have a path to my computer....I have a completely organized room. Truly, there is nothing like an organized office space!

Wanting: To start getting started on my BTS list. It just keeps growing. And I don't seem to be doing anything about it. But I seriously feel like I just packed it all up! 

Needing: Sunshine. Although, a gloomy rainy day may help me get focused on heading into school to get some things done.

Tips: There are SO, SO many bloggers out there. It is easy to get caught up in comparing yourself to others. Just remember to do it for yourself and it will be more enjoyable!

Happy July!