March 2013 - Ideas By Jivey: For the Classroom
I have a problem slight obsession with books. I LOVE reading to my kiddos, and I love for my kiddos to WANT to get books from my class library to read. 2 years ago, I did a class library inventory and put them into an Excel spreadsheet with location (if it was on my shelf or their shelf- I still have some that are "mine") and reading level. My intention was to add to it everytime I got new books, and I did for a while... but I haven't kept up with it... and the thought of going through all my books again to figure out which ones aren't in the spreadsheet makes me break out in hives. There are 977 listed on the spreadsheet, but I've gotten many more since then through book orders and book fairs and Amazon orders... 

The books that are "mine" are the ones I use for lessons. I like to use books as mentor texts- books I can refer to for many lessons over a period of time. Sometimes, I read the book more than once, but usually, I read it once and then can just refer to a few pages later since the students are already familiar with it. This saves on time and keeps my lessons true "mini-lessons."

I say all this because I'm linking up with Collaboration Cuties today to share how I use Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs in my classroom as a mentor text.


This is such a fun book and YES it can be used in upper grades!!

I use it for a week in Reading, Writing, and Grammar using the skills listed above. I have a unit in my TPT store you should check out if you are interested in using it, too!

One thing that is not included in the unit is how I use this book during grammar time (although there is an activity in the unit identifying parts of speech). I don't teach grammar explicity very often. I use Jeff Anderson's method of Mentor Sentences. (Have you ever seen him speak? Oh my gosh, he is hysterical and so full of information!!) I lift a sentence from my mentor text and I use it as an example of whatever skill I want them to focus on that week. The idea is that the students are seeing excellent sentences instead of sentences full of mistakes trying to figure out what's wrong, which hopefully will transfer to their writing, as well. I HAVE seen my students imitate the authors in their own writing, which makes me so happy!

For this book, I chose a complex sentence (the book is full of them!) for the students to study.

"By the time they woke up in the morning, breakfast was coming down."

On the first day with the sentence, the students try to figure out why I've chosen this sentence in particular. They might notice (among other things) that the sentence is in past tense, there are prepositional phrases, and hopefully, that it is a complex sentence!

We focus on the fact that it's a complex sentence all week and they look for sentences in their own reading that has the same style, and during "grammar time," we also work to notice parts of speech in the sentence (like adverbs: up and down; prepositions: by, in; verbs: woke, was coming; etc), we revise the sentence one day (they have to figure out how to make the sentence EVEN better- usually by adding adjectives or changing verbs), and they also try to imitate the sentence (in this case, they write their own complex sentence with the subordinating conjunction coming at the beginning of the sentence so that there is a comma separating the two clauses, and they also try to incorporate adverbs and prepositional phrases since the author did). At the end of the week, there is a quiz over what we worked on all week.

Click here or on either of the images below to download for free and try mentor sentences in your own class! The first page is so they can glue the sentence into their journals- they fill up that page over the course of the week with the work we do with that sentence.
I hope this is helpful to you! I've said I was going to share how I use mentor sentences in my room, and something else always comes up. I plan on doing another post this week (FOR REAL!) with a new mentor sentence showing actual student work so you can really see how it happens in my room! :)

If you want even more IN-DEPTH step-by-step help with implementing mentor sentences, check out my courses!

It's another Workshop Wednesday! Today: Tell us all about your favorite mentor texts you use to teach author's craft!
Make sure to grab the button when you link up!

Ok, seriously. I think I may have to do this linky topic again, and again, and again, because there are just TOO many books I could rant and rave about, so I know you feel the same!! I'm going to try to share some of the "not so obvious" ones that people may not already use in hopes that you can get some new ideas from this post! :)

Today, I'm going to focus on books I use to teach WORD CHOICE. There are so many of course, but here are a couple of my favorites:
Click on the book to visit Amazon!
I think I've probably shared this one with you before... maybe? It is one of my all time favorites. The story is about a little girl living in a city in the summer, totally hot and dried out, begging for rain. It describes those moments before rain-you know them, where it starts to cool, the wind picks up, and the smell of rain is in the air. There is soooo much you can use this book for. I actually use it during reading and writing for a whole week! For teaching word choice in writing though, I like to use this book for figurative language, awesome adjectives, and vivid verbs. Here are some example sentences from the book that I make sure to focus on:

I am sizzling like a hot potato.
The smell of hot tar and garbage bullies the air as I climb the steps to Jackie-Joyce's porch.
Everyone, everywhere, everything is misty limbs, springing back to life.

Want my unit for this book? :) Click here or on the preview to get it from my TPT store!

This next book, I'm actually using this week. I am in love. The fabulous Amanda at Collaboration Cuties found this book last year and realized how amazingly perfect it was for our Westward Expansion Unit. It's called Dandelions. 
Click on the book to visit Amazon!
The story is about a family moving to the Nebraska Territory in a covered wagon. Mama's emotions make it very apparent that she is not happy about leaving her former home to live in a soddie (a dirt home), pregnant, away from all her friends and other family, although this is definitely an inference. She is lonely, but these feelings remain unspoken while the author describes her actions. The illustrations are absolutely gorgeous, too!

As for word choice, this book is FULL of language and imagery that provide the students with opportunities to visualize. In fact, when I read it to my kiddos for the first time yesterday, I did NOT show them the pictures. Instead, I had them write down everything they could vizualize using their five senses. This helps them to "show, not tell" in their own writing. Some of the sentences that are excellent examples to focus on from this book are:

Then, on a morning when the roar of the grass seemed quieter, Papa jumped from the wagon and shouted, "We’re here!"
The town was lifting itself as if by magic out of the distance.
The sky was a burning blue and the grass seemed tinged with red fire.

Want an amazing unit aligned for reading and writing skills for this book? Check it out here at Collaboration Cuties TPT store or by clicking on the title page below

I can't wait to see the awesome books you all link up!! Make sure to grab the button from the top to include in your post, link back to blog posts only please, and kindly follow the rule of 3! :) 

I am so excited to be linking up with Holly's FIRST EVER Tried It Tuesday Linky!!

This is one I'll definitely be consistently linking up to! :) The rules are to write about anything you have tried and describe what worked (and maybe what didn't).

This week, we are wrapping up area and perimeter, so I used Blair Turner's Dream House Project for a culminating activity! It's a freebie she shared with us on All Things Upper Elementary!
The students designed their dream home by drawing the floor plan. They had to label and color each room, then find the area of each room. Once they found the area of all of their rooms, they added them together to find the total area of their house! Because I wanted my kiddos to get some practice with perimeter, too, I added an extra "direction" to it. They had to find the total perimeter of their house as well. They had such a great time designing, and then sharing, their houses! They certainly got creative!! Check some of them out below.

He has a Basketball room, an XBox, PS3, Wii room, and a Candy room!!

She has a pool, cat house, dog house, AND a backyard in the middle of her house! :-P

The only thing I might do differently is to limit the number of rooms they can have. It took me quite a while to actually go through and check them. (Am I admitting that I'm a lazy teacher??)

Don't forget to come back tomorrow to link up with Workshop Wednesday!! Tell us all about your favorite mentor texts you use to teach author's craft!

Hey friends! I wanted to share with you the home project that I'm giving my kids during our Westward Expansion Unit. This could be done in class, too, if you wanted. It could even be made into a class book by giving one letter to each student, or several letters to a group of students to work together.
Click the picture or click here to download for free!

We will also be writing "Pioneer Journals," and following the Oregon Trail on a map as we learn about some of the important landmarks along the way! Because we don't have much time before THE TEST, I teach the major "stuff" that they need to know now and then we go back and cover it in more detail afterwards. Last year, I did some really fun inquiry circles where they got to choose their topic, research, and present in any way that they chose as well. They wrote songs, made plays, made powerpoints, or played "school" (they were the teachers and we were all the students).  The kids had so much fun with it last year... I imagine I'll be doing it again this year. :)

This Wednesday, our Workshop Wednesday linky will be Mentor Texts in Writer's Workshop. What books do you love to use to teach author's craft?
I am SOOOO excited to read your posts about this! I think we all agree that it will be hard to narrow down because there are so many awesome books out there! Make sure when you come back to link up on Wednesday that you include the book, lesson ideas, and links to any products you might have to go with it! :)


Hello my BBBs! (That's Best Bloggy Buddies, of course!)

You are gonna feel some SERIOUS love in this Friday post. Watch out! ;-)

1) Ok, clearly we all have bad days and need to whine a little. I have really tried to keep all my blog posts positive because I know we don't all want to hear complaining all the time. But yesterday, I had a little pity party, and I was overwhelmed by the amount of love and support I received from you all, my BBBs!!! It makes me so glad to be a blogger- this really is such a special community we form here in bloggy land. You people are awesome. :) Thank you so much to Julie, Jessica, Tamra and Sarah, Christy, Elizabeth, Amy, Molly, Theresa, Jess, Ashley, Angie, Melissa, and Caralee for really lifting my spirits yesterday!! :)  (Sorry for not linking, Angie- if you read this and you have a blog, shoot me your link so I can make sure I'm following you!)

2) I interviewed yesterday for literacy coach here at my school. Sorry for the vagueness yesterday- I was back and forth on whether to announce it, but I decided it would be ok. :) I REEEEEEEALLY am hoping and praying I get the job because it has been a dream of mine since I became a teacher. Fingers and toes crossed!! Thanks so much to those of you who have also been saying some prayers with me! :) Again, BBBs!!! :) :)

3) Three women we learn about in 4th grade are Harriet Tubman, Sojourner Truth, and Elizabeth Cady Stanton. SADLY, they are at the end of our year because we go through our Social Studies chronologically, so we don't have enough time to really get excited about them before THE TEST! But this year, I changed that. I decided for our biography unit, we would read about these fabulous women, research about them, and write about them! We started off reading about them on PebbleGo.

If you haven't checked out this amazing site- DO IT! It is fabulous at giving "basic important information" just right for elementary schoolers AND it reads it to them if they need that accommodation (my ESOL kids and lower readers used this feature).

We also read these books:

This way, I'm able to integrate all that Social Studies content into my Language Arts time, and not ever have to physically teach it in isolation during "Social Studies!" I love doing that- especially now with Common Core and the huge push for nonfiction- integration is HUGE! Elizabeth Leads the Way is a GREAT book to use to teach strong leads. Moses is wonderful for context clues and imagery. Step-Stomp Stride is awesome for teaching vivid/powerful language. So as we learn the information taught through the biographies, we are learning reading and writing skills, too!

4) I'm so excited to say that the Workshop Wednesday Linky is successful! 17 AWESOME bloggers linked up this week!! Check them out by clicking the button below if you haven't already! There were some GREAT resources shared!
(And don't forget, you can always link up late- the linky stays open until the next Wednesday!) So I'm going to go ahead and get a paid subscription to inlinkz so we can have our cute thumbnails on the linky each week. I will post the week's topic on Sunday and/or Monday so you can be prepared if you want to join in!

5) You know I can't leave a Friday post freebie-less.
So here's a cute one I hope you will find useful! :) Enjoy! Graphics are from Ashley Hughes!

Today's topic: Graphic Organizers in Reader's Workshop! What do you use to help your kiddos get their thoughts out on paper? Feel free to share a freebie for us to download, or a link to your store through your post! (Please, do not directly link to your store in the linky party!) Be sure to share in your post about how the graphic organizer is used!

Don't you just love the graphic organizers that are out there? There are some super cute and creative ones, for sure! I've come across some great organizers thanks to TPT. I've been using some great response organizers from Krista Wallden that are super adorable and just what I need for my kiddos when they are independently reading. 

I made this organizer last year for my kiddos to use during Guided Reading or Partner Reading- it's a freebie you can download from TPT if you'd like! They write down words that amuse, amaze, or puzzle them to share with the group. We take time to discuss the words that puzzle them. I love allowing students to draw something that will help them remember what happened (a symbol or a quick illustration) because for some kiddos (especially my ESOL)- this is a better memory clue for them. Finally they summarize the chapter in one or two sentences. Click the picture below to download this free organizer, or click here!
But then, I decided it was about time I created some more to use during my Guided Reading groups- some that are short and to the point like this one (because Lord knows, we don't have all day in groups!!), but that are aligned more with Common Core. There are so many things we are trying to do in groups- assess fluency, comprehension, word accuracy... I do NOT have time for the kiddos to fill out a giant organizer, too. These organizers help give me a snapshot of their comprehension, or provide a TRUE mini-lesson guided page. And even better, these will save paper, too! :) They will be on sale through Saturday, 20% off, so grab them up while they are super cheap!
Click the preview picture above to download, or click here!
Now it's your turn!! Grab the button below and make sure to link back to this post from your blog! And as a bonus, when you link up to your blog post, you will get these organizers emailed directly to you for free! :)
Linking up...


Here we go!!

1) We had a great week! First, Joanne at Head over Heels for Teaching posted her amazing bulletin board last week and I HAD to copy it. :) Check hers out here.
Here's mine!!
I had them choose a "food" figurative language phrase to "show" (not tell!) the meaning through their writing. They drew the food from their figurative language phrase:
And inside their "napkin" they wrote their paragraph to show the meaning:
My kids had so much fun with it!! The list they picked from can be downloaded as a freebie below or here. We talked about the meanings of course, before they chose. Then they are keeping this in their writing folders to use later in their writing!

2) Yesterday, we did another bloggy inspired display on the door. Amanda over at Collaboration Cuties posted a great self-esteem and community-building activity with a St. Pat's theme. Check hers out here! It seems this time of year, the kiddos always start getting a little aggravated with each other and get what I call "sibling syndrome." So I gave all my kiddos this list of positive character traits - which was GREAT because we talked about the words they didn't know the meaning of and they wrote the synonyms for them... hoping this list helps add to their vocabulary!! Then we did a form of "SCOOT" -they went around with their list to every student's desk and wrote a trait on their coin. You should have seen their faces as they read their own coins when they made it back! You could tell this really made them feel good. :) I posted them on the door...
...and at the end of the month I'm going to tape them on their desk to help give them a boost when they need it. :)

3) Today officially started my birthday celebration weekend!! We have birthday recognitions on our morning news show, so I went up to get mine! :)
4) The kids had a blast playing our St. Patrick's Day games/activities during language arts time! In fact, so much that we didn't get through all the rotations today, so we'll finish on Monday. They didn't want to stop so I gave them more time than I anticipated.

Figurative Language Memory Game from My Life as a Third Grade Teacher

Simple and Compound Subjects from 3rd Grade Grapevine

Erin Go Bragh Editing from My Life as a Third Grade Teacher

Parts of Speech Coins from Collaboration Cuties
5) Don't forget to enter my 200 follower giveaway! It's hard to believe I'm over 250 now!! The giveaway will end Sat night and winners will be announced on Sunday!!
Happy Friday! Enjoy your weekend! I know I will! :) :) :)

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