August 2013 - Ideas By Jivey: For the Classroom
Happy Saturday! I hope you are enjoying the first day of your 3-day-weekend if you live in the US! :o)
My BBB Joanne at Head Over Heels for Teaching hosts this fabulous linky every Saturday! Today, I want to share about a great way to keep kids motivated in Math Workshop: Math Games! My kids get so excited when I tell them I'm going to teach them a new game. Little do they know, they are practicing math while they play! Muahahahaha! :-P Most games I teach them need very little prep- some don't even need a gameboard! If you've got some dice and some playing cards, you're set.
I have quite a few games for free in my TPT store, and even more offered in my Common Core Aligned Math Units! As always, I would appreciate feedback if you download the freebies! :o)

And if you need a little bit of spark for yourself this weekend, boy do I have something exciting to share! Diane from Fifth in the Middle and Amelia from Where the Wild Things Learn are celebrating some huge milestones in blogging and EVERYONE WINS! Visit either of their blogs today to send them your email address and receive a freebie from ME (of course) and all these other fabulous bloggers:
Happy Wednesday!! You know what Wednesday means over on THIS blog......
I hope you'll link up!

Remember, since everyone's start dates are so different, the topic for August AND September will be Getting Workshop Started in the Classroom. Please write about only one workshop in your post so that you can link it up accordingly below, and then please come back each week to share! (In other words, if you use Reading, Writing, and Math Workshop and you want to share about all three, please link up in three different weeks-or more if you'd like!!)

Today, I'm going to share how we get our Writing Workshop started in my room.
I shared with you back in June one of my favorite things to do to start off Writing Workshop and getting seed ideas with the book, If You Find a Rock. We create memory jars as a keepsake for their seed ideas and writing. If you missed that post, click here.

My students had a blast creating their memory jars! We collected lots of seed ideas first (you can check out a few ways I had them gather seed ideas here and here) and they had to choose three to write on their memory rocks.
The students choose 3 rocks to write their memories on, as well as a piece of fabric to decorate the lid of the jar.
Students have to write just a few words to help them remember a memory since they don't have much room on the rock!
Here is a finished product! The students have kept these on their desks since we created them last week, and they love to show them off to visitors when they come in the room!
Students are writing their first narrative piece now using one of their memory rocks. They are totally motivated to do it because they can't wait to take home their jars with their stories to show off to their parents!
Students are using their yellow notepad to write their first drafts! You can see a few other jars in this picture, too. :)
I can't wait to see what you all have to share this week! Don't forget to check out some of the link-ups from the last couple of weeks, too, because there are some really great ideas being shared! :o)

Hi friends!! I am so excited to link up with my girl Holly for another Tried It Tuesday!
This week, I wanted to share a lesson with you that I'm doing for the first time in THIS way. It's with the book, Knots on a Counting Rope, which I absolutely adore and read to my class every year.
It's a REALLY great book to use to teach inferring- the boy is blind, but there are only "clues" given along the way that he is... it's also filled with figurative language. How I haven't created a for-real unit for this yet, I don't know! (Sounds like a TPT product in the works, huh?)

So this year, after buying Nicole Shelby's 4th Grade Reading Interactive Notebook, I am using her pieces to start off my mini-lessons.
And I love her ideas...... but let me just say, this year, I am STRUGGLING with keeping my kids on track during cutting and gluing time. I am using interactive notes in all my subjects this year.... and I have NEVER had this problem before, but y'all, it takes 30 minutes sometimes just to get this daggum stuff cut out!

I'm dying.

Anyway, back to the lesson. So, today, we read the first half of Knots on a Counting Rope after we talked about what makes an inference= text + schema using Nicole's awesome visuals. Then we created a chart on the left to track what the text says, and what our schema says. Of course, all of this is being modeled right now as I read the book, but they seem to be getting it and doing a great job of keeping up in their notebook! (Now if we can just work on the cutting and gluing. I digress.)
I know it's hard to see in this picture, so let me tell you what she has in her notes:

Text: The boy knows the story by heart.
Schema: He heard the story a lot.

Text: The wind was whipping up sand and crying.
Schema: When the wind blows hard, there is usually a storm.

Text: The boy was born with a dark curtain over his eyes.
Schema: A curtain over your eyes keeps you from seeing.

We practiced just saying what the text says, what we know, and then making our inference today using the prompt on the right side of the page. Tomorrow, I will have them make a new chart with three columns to show what the text says, what they think, and then their inference, so they can practice writing it.

Sooooooo... I shared with you two Fridays ago how I had been nominated to be in the running for Teacher of the Year at my school. There was a pretty lengthy application, and quite a few candidates, so I was honestly just honored to even be nominated. WELLLLLLL today, I found out I'm one of the three finalists!! :o)
I am so excited to have even made it this far! Honestly, the other finalists are outstanding, and I feel honored to even be considered in the same category as them! It is super exciting though, and I have had a cheesy grin on my face all afternoon! I've said it before, and I'll say it again- the blogging community makes me strive to be a better teacher every day! :o) Thank you all so much for following, reading, commenting, and supporting me, and of course, to my fellow bloggy friends, thank you for sharing all your great ideas because I definitely borrow and steal from you! I cannot take all of the credit, for sure. My teammates and my bloggy friends totally rock! :o)

Hope to see you tomorrow linking up to Workshop Wednesday! I know LOTS of you have started back to school now and we want to hear how you set up Workshops with your class! :o)

I am linking up with the Collaboration Cuties to tell you about a new-to-me book that I'll be using next week! I got this book in the mail from my bestest bloggy buddy, Joanne from Head Over Heels for Teaching! She saw it, thought of me, and mailed it to sweet is that?? Just one more reason why the blogging community rocks! :o)
This book, Buffalo Hunt, is written on a much higher level than what most of my kids could read by themselves, and it's a pretty long book so I won't read it all, but there are definitely some parts of it I am going to read aloud and they are going to LOVE it. Every year when we talk about the Plains Indians, we talk about how they hunted buffalo (of course) and how they didn't waste any part of the buffalo. They always want to know details- what does that mean? What did they use everything for?? Welllllll, this book tells you! My kids are gonna freak! As I read, I'm going to give them this graphic:
I got this graphic from the Idea Book found here (in case you want to use it, too!) - I'll have my students highlight anything they hear me talk about as I read. The book goes into more details- including the uses for the insides, too. My boys are going to think I'm the coolest. Ha!

Since I'll be using this book next week, I want to also link this up with Mrs. Laffin's Laughings- today is the first day of her new linky party! :)

I hope you all have an excellent week! :o)

Good morning! Are you as happy as I am that it's Saturday?? I love my job and my class, but I sure do love my downtime on the weekends, too! I'm linking up with my BBB Joanne to share a way I am going to Spark Student Motivation this year! :)

I used to LOVE field trips when I was in school. It seemed like we took so many! Unfortunately, now, my kids don't get to take as many as I remember, mostly due to their financial situation (we just don't get enough money in when we ask for it). It's also because we can only be gone for a few hours because our school buses have to be back by a certain time to pick up the high schoolers, and can't leave until after they drop off all the middle schoolers. We take a couple each year, but nothing super extravagant.

This year, we are going to go on some virtual field trips! I found a great website: that enables students to "visit" places virtually- most of my students would never get the opportunity to see these places in real life, so I think they will love it!

A Teacher's Ultimate Destination for Virtual Field Trips
Teachers can take their students on field trips across the country and around the world. They can explore the Library of Congress or Lincoln Memorial through interactive tours. A baby panda, mysterious octopus and curious orangutan are just a mouse click away by way of zoo and aquarium web cams like the AnimalCams at the National Zoological Park. Tech Robotics, the Paleontology Portal and Amusement Park Physics are just a few of the virtual science adventures that can spark the imagination of young minds. Virtual field trips open up the world and the universe to students and their teachers. Whether it's a teacher-guided group field trip or individual student projects, the wide array of virtual tours freely available online can add an exciting dimension to the classroom.

Having a SMART Board will really come in handy for these, too! I've already checked out a couple that I want to do this year. Some are actual tours or trips- some are just really neat clips or pictures that you can get through in a couple minutes.

Here are a few I'm definitely going to do this year:

Have you ever done any "virtual trips" in your room? Any other resources I should check out? Please share with us in the comments below!

Aaaaaaand here comes (and goes) another Friday!! It's crazy how fast the weeks go by at the beginning of the year. Raise your hand if you feel like there is not enough time in the day to teach everything you need to teach...........

Ironically, to have so much going on in the classroom, my post today will be a lot of non-school-related stuff. So there's your disclaimer........ ;-) If you want some good meaty posts, check out my stuff from earlier this week: here for Interactive Notes and here for Reading with Sticky Notes. :o)
This is going to be my new sectional!!!! I am soooo excited. I've had the same couch since forever, and it was given to me by my dad after he bought a new living room set, soooooo it's old. Sagging cushions and all... I decided this was a NEED and I went for it. It won't be delivered until next weekend though. :o(  But I'll have it to enjoy for Labor Day! 
I went to the Bruno Mars concert last night and had a BLAST!!! The show was amazing. I sang along to EVERY word- even the 90's mash-up he did (because I realized he and I are about the same age- well, actually he's 3 years younger, but close enough... so yes, those were all the fun songs when "we" were in high school - hee hee!) - I wish I had better pictures of the show, because I swear our seats were way better than they look. It's like my iPhone zooms OUT. I don't even want to see Amanda's pictures (from Teaching Madeness) - I know she went to the show too, and she always has amaaaaazing pictures at my favorite shows. :-P
Saw this someecard and had to share.........
My poor kids are going to be in for a rude awakening. I can tell they just are NOT studying based on what they can (not) recall of our Social Studies unit on Native Americans. It usually only takes one test for most of them to "crack down" and do what they need to do. I hope that's all it takes this year!
I brought this home to grade this weekend........

I will make time to do it..... I will make time to do it........ I will make time........
But first, I had to go enjoy some "frozen lemonade" with co-workers. Gary (aka Scrappy Guy) and I shared one after we decided we shouldn't have a whole 'nuther one. ;-) Ya know, because of the brain freeze action and all........ ;-)
Welcome to Workshop Wednesday!!
Remember, since everyone's start dates are so different, the topic for August AND September will be Getting Workshop Started in the Classroom. Please write about only one workshop in your post so that you can link it up accordingly below, and then please come back each week to share! (In other words, if you use Reading, Writing, and Math Workshop and you want to share about all three, please link up in three different weeks-or more if you'd like!!)

Today I want to share with you how I start using sticky notes in the classroom.

I talked about them not too long ago at the END of my school year last year here, but I can finally show you how I start using them in this post! I also teased you in my Five For Friday last week when I shared about reading The Raft.
It took me two days to read the book because I was showing them how to write their thinking on sticky notes by modeling and doing think-alouds. Most important, I showed them how we don't need a sticky on EVERY page- only when my thinking is truly important to understanding the book... that good deep thinking.

Most of them are doing a really good job with it already! I gave them their bookmarks (which you can still grab here if you want!) to help prompt their thinking.....
At the end of each day, they need to take their sticky notes out of their book (to keep them from "forgetting" where they are) and put them in their reading notebook. They write the title at the top of the page, and stick all their notes on the page, staggering them so they can flip through them easier:
Once a week, they need to write a response. They should use their sticky notes to find a common theme- maybe about characters, or maybe it's about events leading to a problem... there are lots of options. They should use those sticky notes to help them write their response in their second paragraph. I stress to them, they are not writing all of their sticky notes in their paragraph! Their first paragraph will always be a summary of what they have read.
This student chose to write about the character's feelings in the book, and give evidence to support the feelings! :o) I was one proud teacher!

I will be introducing my BBB Joanne's awesome reading response menus very soon to help them write their responses!
How do you have your students show their thinking in reading? I hope you'll link up! I'm always eager to see and hear other ideas! If you're not ready to share for Reading, you can link for Writing or Math, too! :o)

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