Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Mentor Sentences Workshops at Gwinnett Tech!

I'm so excited to bring you summer workshops on using Mentor Sentences in the classroom for grades 1-5!
You will, of course, learn how to get mentor sentences going in the classroom, but we will also discuss how to integrate science and social studies content across the subjects, and how using mentor texts helps maximize your time. AND *dun dun dun* there will be two raffles at each workshop for a starter pack of mentor texts for grades 1-2 and grades 3-5!

Want to come? Click the register button below, or click here!
You can choose between two dates: June 19 or July 17.
Both of these workshops are located in classroom 106 at Gwinnett Tech in the 100 Building. We will meet from 9:30 AM-1:00 PM (lunch not provided, but please feel free to bring snacks!) and there will be books and digital units at a DISCOUNTED price for you to purchase! If you already know you will want to buy these awesome discounted items, you can get them when you purchase your tickets to save money on your entry to the workshop! You can buy them as a digital bundle or printed book bundle. Don't worry- if you aren't sure now about buying, you will still have the option at the workshop to get the items at a discount if you'd like!

**Prices will go up June 5,
so register soon to get the early bird discount!** :)

I know that this might be too far of a drive for many of you that would love to attend. I'm hoping that I can branch out and offer these workshops in other states as well! Until then, you can also have your school or district contact me for professional development opportunities. :)

Hope to see you there!

Monday, May 25, 2015

Jigsaw Puzzle Day!

You might recall from my previous post that I do an ABC Countdown at the end of the year. Even if you don't do a countdown, you can easily incorporate many of these "days" into your end of the year! One of the days my kids loved was Jigsaw Puzzle Day. We put puzzles together and made our own puzzles, too!

I have a cabinet full of puzzles I've acquired from places like the Dollar Tree that my kids like to put together sometimes when we have indoor recess. It's amazing how many of them don't even have puzzles at home! We work on puzzles throughout the day on Jigsaw Puzzle Day.
We also make two fun displays. Both are freebies on TPT!

First, my kids thought of their FAVORITE thing we did this year in 4th grade. They decorated a puzzle piece and we made a quick door display! (As you can imagine, I got a lot of "winter party" pieces, but there is some content in there, too!)
Here's a close up:
You can find this puzzle piece to download for free here!

We also made puzzles all about 4th grade. This was during Teacher Appreciation Week, so you'll also see all of my gorgeous flowers they got me! :o) The finished puzzles are something fun and colorful for the wall- and my kids loved looking at everyone else's when there was some free time.
You can download this freebie here!

Don't teach 4th? Here is a puzzle template freebie!
If you want to make a smaller puzzle, Krista has some free puzzle piece clip art you can download!
I hope this will be a fun way for your kiddos to reflect back on the year! I know mine sure enjoyed it! :o)

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Bright Idea: Creating Maps to Review

This time of the year, we need some serious bright ideas to finish out the year, don't we?
I'm here to bring you an idea that my kids absolutely loved!! And the best part- it took them about two hours to do! ;-)

If your social studies curriculum is anything like mine, there is a ton that can be shown on a map! Locations, events, landforms, tribes... the list goes on and on. I printed a map of the Unites States and blew it up on our poster maker at school. I split my class into groups and gave each group a poster map, then I told them we were having a contest to see who could put the most of what we learned this year on a map. (Contests always make kids work harder, don't they?)
I allowed students to use their resources to help them. My kids were so excited and worked so hard to complete their maps!

Of course, I could not choose a winner because they all worked so hard and did such a great job, so I rewarded them all. :o)

If you enjoyed this bright idea, please consider joining me on FacebookInstagram, or my TPT Store for more great ideas.

For more bright ideas from other bloggers, please browse through the link-up below and choose a topic/grade level that interests you. Thanks for visiting!

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Ecosystems, Food Webs, and Owl Pellets

We have had so much fun in Science the last few weeks! My kiddos have loved learning about ecosystems and food webs. I wanted to give my kids a chance to put together food webs before creating their own, so I made this Interactive Ecosystems Unit:
Since several of my students don't have a lot of background information about what animals eat (other than the ones that live in our ecosystem), I gave them the passages from the unit that give information about all of the ecosystems and the animals that live in them. I allowed my students to work on these in partner sets and groups, which really made them use the evidence from the passages to prove their thinking with each other. Their conversations were really awesome!
The last activity in the unit allows them to figure out how to place the organisms so that they can create a food web. 
Instead of printing the freshwater organisms page full size and giving them the large-sized construction paper, I printed two sets on one page and didn't give them the arrows. It fit perfectly on a sheet of copy paper, and the students drew in their own arrows instead of trying to make them fit in between the animals. 
To wrap up our unit, I had the students create their own food webs!
And then, of course, we had to get our hands a little dirty! We dissected owl pellets!
My kids love doing this every year, and even the ones who act like they think it's so gross and don't want to touch it end up being the most excited! :o)

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Stitch Fix #16!!

Yes that's right... I've done this sixteen times!!!! Stitch Fix is just so much fun, I don't want to cancel it! And I had to share this box with you because it was so wonderful and summery! I am keeping everything, although one of my items didn't fit, but I'm giving it to my mom. It was the cutest navy and white polka dot skirt - totally my style but ran a little small I think... It's actually cheaper for me to keep all five items anyway than to send only one back because of the 25% discount you get to keep the whole box!

So... here are my adorable pieces!I wore this Austin Polka Dot and Striped Mixed Material Shirt to school today! I loved the back!!
How adorable is this Bastille Tulip Sleeve Blouse AND this Lex Textured Floral Knit Fit and Flare Dress? I love them both!
And then this Gwen Crochet Detail Top has the perfect name, because the detail is what hooked me! Not sure if you can see the design going down the sides as well, but it is a gorgeous top!

I also love the style cards they send for all of the pieces to give you ideas of how to wear your items. Here is the one for the skirt I'm giving to my mom. Isn't she so lucky??
I love not having to go to the mall to shop, and getting items that you don't really find many places when you do go shopping! Of course, being able to try it on whenever I want (though it's usually as soon as I rip open the box) is awesome. And whatever I don't want, I can send back for free, and I'm not charged for it!

Do you want to try Stitch Fix? Click here to check it out!! :o)

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Teachers Helping Teachers!

I am so lucky to have met so many friends through blogging and TPT. There are several of us that have become very close, and we call each other our BBBs-best blogging buddies! It was super hard to choose just one that I wanted to highlight for being a support system and an inspiration to me, because they are all so wonderful!! But since I was lucky enough to just recently visit Boston on a short trip and got to meet Theresa from Pinkadots Elementary, I chose to pay it forward to her!

She is one of the most positive, energetic, creative people I know! I love to see what is going on in her classroom, and get her feedback on how things are going in mine. She is a great listener and just an all around fabulous BBB! She also got me hooked on Cheryl's cookies. If you have never heard of this company, oh my gosh. RUN. They are fabulous!
She will be receiving a surprise in the mail very soon this week from Cheryl's! :o)

If you want to celebrate a teacher that has impacted you, head over to Layla's blog and link up! We'd love to see you pay it forward, too! :o)

Monday, May 4, 2015

What Works: Teacher Appreciation Linky

Happy Teacher Appreciation Week! As a teacher, I know how under-appreciated we often are... so I was SO excited to be able to be a part of this fabulous link up to help spread the love! Over fifty teachers are sharing with you "what works" in their classroom in hopes we can make your life easier! I am sharing how I use mentor texts and mentor sentences to save precious time in my classroom, as well as help my students become awesome authors! 
If you are like most teachers, you LOVE to read to your class! There are so many great lessons you can do with so many fabulous books- but if you read a book before every lesson, you wouldn't have time for half of what you'd need to get done, right? Mentor texts are books that can be used for several lessons, and often in several subjects. You read it one time, then refer back to parts, only re-reading what you need to for your lesson that day. Luckily, these books are usually your favorite books that you already read! I like to find books that have a theme or topic that I'm teaching in science, social studies, and even math and then turn on my "language arts brain" to see how I could integrate it into other areas of my day. Take the book, Henry's Freedom Box, for example!
This book is wonderful if you are studying about the Underground Railroad, so I read it during social studies time... but it is also fabulous for several reading skills like vocabulary, interpreting meaning, theme, and using evidence! I love to use Head Over Heels For Teaching's awesome unit for this book during my Reading Workshop!
This way, I am covering some social studies content WHILE we are practicing our reading skills!

But wait... I'm not done with this book yet! Check out the next secret...
Students need to SEE good writing to become good writers. It only makes sense, right? So why do so many programs only show them sentences filled with mistakes?? For the last six years, I have been using mentor sentences in my classroom, and I've never looked back at DOL and DGP! With mentor sentences, students are seeing an awesome sentence from the mentor text you are also using in your other subjects. Over the course of the week, they really dig into this ONE sentence. They figure out what makes it awesome, and they also see how the parts of speech (grammar) work together to make it such a great sentence. They revise the sentence to try to make it better than it already is. (Yes, even a published sentence could be better! This helps them see that they are NEVER done when they are writing their own stories...) Then, they imitate the sentence - they keep the structure the same. This DOES carry over into their own writing! My students become such brilliant authors every year, and they learn to LOVE writing! 
If you'd like to read even more about mentor sentences in upper elementary grades, you can read here!
Oh, but wait! First, second, and even third grade teachers, I can't leave you out! Mentor sentences work in ALL grades! You can do all of those same skills the upper grades teachers are doing to help your students learn how to write good complete sentences and spice up their writing, too!
Marissa from Inspired Owl's Corner uses mentor sentences in her class and agrees that the more the students are exposed to good sentences, the more will "stick" with them and transfer to their own writing! Check out these awesome imitations!
If you'd like to read more about how to use mentor sentences in lower grades, click here to read!

You won't want to miss out on all the other great secrets being shared by successful teachers! Be sure to check out all the other great posts below.