Sunday, September 9, 2012

A Whirlwind Week, a Freebie, and Hair Therapy!

The first few weeks of school have blown through my life... uprooted my sleep cycle... and left me slightly discombobulated. {Can I celebrate the fact that I correctly spelled the word discombobulated without the aid of a dictionary... even in my state of over-stimulation?!}  In other news, the first few weeks have also been invigorating and exciting.  I really enjoy cultivating new relationships with my students, and I have had a lot of fun with 59 new kiddos!  Here's a little recap of what I managed to photograph!

We had our first word of the week! The chalkboard sign is from my Literacy Aficionados pack! 


We also started Boom Town officially.  I am loving having all of the essential questions posted! 


I am also loving the little mini journal templates that tie into each question of the day!  I used the Smarboard to model how to RTQ (rephrase the question).  Then, we created a list of student-generated responses before merging them together for a quality answer.  I plan on modeling this for a few stories before letting them do this with less support! This activity led to GREAT discussions, and it was nice to be able to type everything out and easily erase rather than writing on the whiteboard.  



I pulled out my old Realism/Fantasy chart as a discussion point.  I usually make my charts WITH my kiddos... but instead... I decided to reveal one line at a time and talk about it.  Instead of using color-coded stickies like I did last year... I just gave them the same color.  I had my kiddos take it with them when they read independently, and then I had them add it to the board on either side when they were done with their name and the title listed.


We also talked about that really LONG word: metacognition.  I used "Saturdays & Teacakes" to teach them about the "Real Reading Salad."  ( I like to write the word metacognition on a sentence strip to really play up what a BIG word it is and how smart they will sound when they learn it.


We used Abby's sweet crayon template to practice our spelling words, and I think they turned out super cute! :)  I cut everything myself... for the sake of time.  I probably will not do this again considering that I have two classes (59 kiddos) and my knuckle literally bruised and blistered.  I don't recommend doing THAT much cutting in a 24 hour period anyway.  I will probably trace them and have the kiddos cut them out during their morning work block instead.  Believe it or not, I've never had volunteers.  I had ONE for a short time during my first year.  I'd love to be able to utilize parents better.  Maybe this is the year!!! :)  Anyway, I try to make sure that we don't do a lot of cutting in class, because it takes forever, and third grade is jam-packed as it is!  I also try to always have a sample hanging in the front of the room for a point of reference!  I think their little crayons look ADORABLE with their little mustaches and eyelashes!  SO precious!





We created an anchor chart to launch our economics study.  I color-coded the responses by class to distinguish between them and save paper.  I clearly have some mini-adults in my class this year!


We also started digging back in to Brain & Book this week.  Our school has a simple process of using brain and book to help students identify whether their answers come from the text or thinking! It's a great way to get students to go back into the text to find evidence.  We have them box in the title and activate their prior knowledge or make predictions.  Then they box and number each paragraph.  They answer each comprehension question and write whether their answers came from their brain or from their book.  If it's from the book or text, they have to give a paragraph number.  I didn't come up with this idea, but I wish I would have.  It's fabulous! Since my kiddos were exposed to it last year, I want to spend some time reviewing it!  I've revised my brain and book file to share with you!  This weekend, I added cards to laminate and glue to popsicle sticks.  I want my students to hold up brain or book when we are working on comprehension passages together, at least initially!  Help yourself!





Okay, and let's talk a moment about how much I've fallen in love with my SMARTboard this year.  Last year was the first year I had access to one on a regular basis, and I admit that I didn't use it as much as I should have until mid-year.  This year, it is one of my favorite things in the world.  I especially love it for taking attendance!  I grabbed this file for free from TpT!  Love it! I especially love that I can play on the word "goals" throughout the year, because truthfully, I don't like taking the extra time to do this for every single month.  Honesty! :) Gotta love it!


I also love the SMARTboard for dismissal purposes!  My partner plopped a school bus into a template... added a few text boxes... and viola!  Now we have a really simple way to track which buses have been called!  I put kiddos in charge of this at the end of the day.  So far... so good!


Now, I have to take a moment to acknowledge a few blogging pals who have SAVED my life this week.  I have a kiddo who doesn't know sight words, letter-sound correspondence, or how to articulate a few letter sounds.  It has been a great learning experience... and I've had to really rethink how differentiation looks in my classroom and what I pin on Pinterest!  I spent a TON of money on ink and paper this week to reach ONE kiddo... but this is exactly why I went in to teaching in the first place.  I love being able to help kiddos... especially the ones who need it most.   Thank goodness for blogging and TpT though... especially since a day is only 24 hours long!!!  I was able to quickly find and print out resources to use with my little buddy quickly!  So... thank you to Deedee Wills, Deanna Jump, Michelle Oakes, Leslie Ann, Erica Bohrer, Donna GlynnKim Adsit, Kathleen Pederson, and Rachelle Smith!  Ladies, you helped me through the week!   Thank you!


Finally, I wanted to share a picture of from my latest trip to the salon!  I've always been a strawberry blonde, but I've played with my hair color a lot to emphasize the blonde or red hues.  All the while, I've wistfully toyed with the idea of going totally BLONDE.  Maybe it's because I wanted to do something for MYSELF... maybe I needed a change... maybe it was hair therapy... whatever  you want to call it... I LOVE IT! :)  My stylist tagged me in this photograph today, and I couldn't resist sharing it with all of you!  (Isn't this the face of sheer exhaustion!?!  Ha!)


I hope you all enjoyed some time off! I will probably be blogging once a week now that school is back in session, unless something comes up and I just can't resist.  I have a lot of projects that I'm working on for grad school, and I'm trying to find more time for myself and my hubs.  :)  Balance isn't always my forte... but I'm working on it!  Until next week...

37 comments:

  1. I love love love reading your blog and your hair is simply adorable!! Hope your year has started off great sweet friend!!
    Rebecca
    darlininfirst.blogspot.com

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    1. Thanks, Rebecca! Hoping to meet up soon-ish! :)

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  2. WOw!!! Your hair looks great, Amanda! Good for you. Have a fantastic week!

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    1. Thanks, Eileen! Hope you have a fantastic week too! :)

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  3. Your hair looks awesome!:) Great post filled when wonderful ideas.

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  4. Love the hair. We teach using Treasures and do Boom Town. I always know we are near summer break when I open my TE to it. I think doing it at this time of year would really mess me up now. Best of luck in finding that "balance." Teaching is a hard job to do that with because it's just not a job you "leave at the office." Take Care, Jodi

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    1. Thanks, Jodi. :) I've been trying to find balance for seven years. We'll see if this is the year or not! Ha!

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  5. Love your hair! Thanks for sharing all the fun things you did this week. I'm really diggin' the Word of the Week board! I do something similar in my room, but like your way of presenting the word better.


    The REAL Teachers of Orange County

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  6. LOVE the hair!!! What a stylish glamorous chic color/cut! *whistle, whistle*

    Thanks for the SMART board freebie. I've seen attendance file that change monthly or for the season. Cut, but a lot of work for me to reconfigure. Or maybe I just need to learn a faster way. But like you, I think I would prefer one that can be used for a longer stretch--like the whole year!

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    1. Why thank you! :) Yes, I'm lazy. If I can use something all year and get away with it, I will.

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  7. I love the hair!! I just chopped all of mine off, so I know how you feel. Change is good!

    I also have many students this year well below grade level and have had to really change the modifications and differentiation I do in my classroom also. You have SUCH wonderful ideas, thank you for sharing!!

    YoungTeacherLove 5th Grade Blog

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    1. Thanks! :) Congratulations on all of your success on TpT. :)

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  8. LOVE the brain question and book question printable! I'm printing it right now. Our kids have SO much trouble with that.

    Don't Let The Teacher Stay Up Late

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    1. Yay! I hope it works well for you! :)

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  9. I teach kindergarten and I truly enjoy seeing/reading what is happening in your classes! Now I'm wondering how to simplify the brain&book idea :-)!

    Your hair looks terrific! Love the cut, too.
    ReadWriteSing

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    1. Thank you so much for your kind words. :) You could probably start with the book part... when you're retelling and whatnot... then slowly work in the brain part once you move past the more literal stuff! Just a thought. I'm not a K teacher. :)

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  10. Holy Jalapeno! Your classroom looks like a busy and exciting place. Props to you. :)

    Casey
    Second Grade Math Maniac: Pencil Sharpener Giveaway!

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    1. I certainly HOPE it's an exciting place... because YES... it's B-U-S-Y! :) Thanks a lot...

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    1. Thanks m'am! Hope your school year is off to a great start!

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  12. Love your ideas and your hair! It is oh so cute!

    Terri

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  13. Your hair is absolutely gorgeous!!! :) :)

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    1. Aww, thanks, Leslie! I'm trying to see if blondes have more fun. ;)

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  14. Looks like your kids have been busy busy busy!!! Love the hair!

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    1. Thanks, Kelley!!! They've been busy little bees!

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  15. Amanda,

    Where did you get the Stretchy the Word Snake and the Sight Word Detectives activities ? I could use them for a few of my students.

    Thanks !
    Wendy

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    1. The Stretchy the Word Snake file was from Deanna Jump. It's free: http://mrsjumpsclass.blogspot.com/2010/11/i-use-stretchy-word-snake-mat-during-my.html. The sight word detectives activities are part of Michelle Oakes' sight word pack: http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Super-Sight-Words-Pack

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  16. Love the new hair! I also wanted to let you know how much I love and appreciate your blog. You have given me so many wonderful tools to use in the classroom and I love reading about your love and enthusiasm for our profession! Have a great week!

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    1. Aww, thanks so much! :) It really means a lot when I read messages like this. Blogging can be time-consuming, but it's worth it when I know that my ideas are being used with other kiddos by other teachers. Thanks again!

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  17. Your hair is so pretty!! I'm a blonde too, we really do have more fun ;)

    Lauren C
    www.kinder-friends.blogspot.com

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    1. Ha! :) Thanks Lauren!!! I've always been a strawberry blonde... so I've always been in between blonde and red. It was time to take the plunge!

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  19. EVERYTHING about this post is amazing, including your hair! :D
    Your lessons look so amazingly engaging and effective. LOVE LOVE LOVE the Brain/Book items.
    ❤Dragonflies in First ❤

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    1. Thank you so much, Traci! :) You are so sweet! Hope you can use the Brain/Book items with your kiddos!

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