Sunday, July 9, 2017

Fun With PicMonkey

I'm playing around with PicMonkey today; so fun! My classroom theme is "Go For The Gold" and this will be a new sign for my door. 

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Teacher Supply SALE!

Shop Best Sellers
Sale on teacher supplies through July 5th! 
Really Good Stuff Teacher Supplies
I love this online teacher supply store. They have items for classroom organization, decor and bulletin boards, learning resources, games, furniture, and much more! I have made several purchases from them, but I especially love their assortment of colored baskets and trays. I use them for student paper organization and for sorting my classroom library books by genre. Great variety of good quality teacher resources!

Monday, July 3, 2017

It's July 4th!

I hope everyone has a glorious day ahead as we celebrate our nation's freedom and democracy. I read that more hot dogs are consumed on this day than any other day during the year! Wow! I'm planning to feast on barbecued chicken, corn-on-the-cob, potato salad, and homemade apple pie with my family and of course watch the fireworks at a local park. The fireworks are my favorite part! 🌟🌟🌟

In honor of our country's birthday, I've created a "National Symbol" matching activity to use when I want students to find a partner to work with. You can find it in my TPT store by clicking on this link: 

                                          National Symbol Match-Up 

I have made flashcards with ten different national symbol names, a picture of each one, and a brief description of them. After copying them on card-stock for durability, I will cut them out into small cards. If I want kids to find one partner, I can use the picture and the matching definition cards. After passing out one to each student, they are asked to find their match and they will become partners. For younger kids, you could just use the picture and the name of the symbol to make matching easier. Here's a quick view: 

National Symbol Match-UpNational Symbol Match-Up
If you happen to teach about National Symbols (CA second grade teachers), then you could use these as part of your instruction or review. Many different options! 

"The American, by nature, is optimistic. He is experimental, an inventor, and a builder who builds best when called upon to build greatly."
.....John F. Kennedy, 35th president of the United States


Sunday, July 2, 2017

My Favorite Read-Alouds


    Summer is a great time to catch up on the vast array of children's books that my students are reading in class. I love to be able to have a discussion with kids about books they've chosen for Independent Reading time that I've actually read! (It certainly feels a little more authentic.)  🙂📚 Of course it's impossible to read everything, but I try to stay current with the popular literature trends.This is also true of books that I'm thinking about reading aloud to my class. I think it's important to read it on my own first, as not all books work well as a read-aloud. 

     Reading experts continue to stress the importance of reading aloud to kids. When we as teachers read stories to our students, we are modeling expert fluency and expressive reading. It also exposes them to more vocabulary (often higher level) and provides an excellent opportunity to discuss plot, theme, genre, and other literary devices in a relaxed atmosphere; the students get to enjoy the story without any pressure of being assessed. We can model the joy of reading for pleasure! 

Here is a list of some of my current favorites:

1. The Most Magnificent Thing by: Ashley Spires 
I absolutely love this newer picture book! I read it at the beginning of the school year to "set the stage" for Growth Mindset and perseverance in problem-solving. It's about a girl who attempts to create inventions with the help of her dog and goes through trial after trial to "get it right." 

2. Be a Perfect Person in Just Three Days by: Steven Manes 
This is an old one; a short chapter book that can be read in a couple of days. It focuses on a boy, Milo, who accidentally finds a how-to book in the library about becoming perfect. He decides to follow the instructions step-by-step only to realize in the end that perfection doesn't really exist and is not necessary to a happy and successful life. It's very funny and a great story to read in the beginning of the year before doing goal setting. 

3. The One and Only Ivan by: Katherine Applegate
This is a fictional story based on the real gorilla Ivan who lived in a mall cage for 27 years before being adopted by the Atlanta Zoo. The story is told in first-person from the point of view of Ivan the gorilla who makes artwork in his cage.  Also with him are Stella, an aging elephant, and Bob a stray dog who is brought to the mall enclosure. Ivan realizes that his life is not what he wants it to be and with the help of George, the mall custodian, and his daughter Julie, they work to get the Big Top Mall closed down and Ivan and the other animals moved to a zoo. The students really love this story!

4. Buddy by M.H. Herlong
The story is set in New Orleans during the time of Hurricane Katrina in 2005. A boy adopts a stray dog and quickly grows attached to his new companion. However, when the family must evacuate their home before Katrina hits, the dog is left behind. After the storm, the boy embarks on a journey to find his missing dog, unsure if he is still alive or not. It is heart-warming, emotional, and filled with life lessons. My students the past four years have ranked this book in their top ten. 

5. Swindle by: Gordon Korman
I just love this first book in the series about 6th grader Griffin Bing and his gang of crafty and skilled friends. In this story, Griffin and his friend Ben find a rare Babe Ruth baseball card and take it to get it appraised, but they're told it is a fake. After finding out it was really worth close to a million dollars, Griffin comes up with a plan to steal it back and enlists the help of his friends, each of whom possesses a special skill which will help make the plan work. 

6. Fish in a Tree by: Lynda Mullaly Hunt
I just discovered this amazing novel last summer and read it in a day and a half! It's about Ally, a trouble-maker in school who struggles academically. However, with one special teacher's help, she discovers her problems stem from Dyslexia. She learns ways to overcome her disability and her teacher helps her to see that she is smarter than she thought she was. 

7. Rain, Reign by: Ann Martin
Rose is the main character in this story and she has high-functioning autism. She sees the world in a different way from those around her. One of her obsessions is with homonyms and she is fascinated that her name is one. When she finds a dog abandoned in the rain, she naturally names him "Rain" which has a homonym as well (Reign). She finds comfort in repetition and routine, but when her dog disappears after a bad storm, she goes out of her "comfort zone" to go look for him. This story lends itself to some great discussions about differences in people (especially with the current autism rate being 1 in 68 and chances are you probably have at least one student on the spectrum in your classroom each year.) 

8. Back of The Bus by: Aaron Reynolds
This is a powerful historical fiction picture book about a boy and his mother who are riding on a bus in Montgomery, Alabama in 1955 when something big happens; Rosa Parks refuses to move to the back of the bus and police move in to arrest her. GREAT book! 

9. Enemy Pie by: Derek Munson
This is another picture book with a great message: treat others the way you would want to be treated, and don't judge people before you get to know them. The main character's dad helps him find a way to deal with the new boy on the street who is thought to be a bully (there's a plot twist at the end which is so fun for the kids). 

10. James and The Giant Peach by: Roald Dahl
In my opinion, Roald Dahl is the king of funny kid-centered fiction and I had to include one of my favorites here. Even though this book has been around for a long time, most of my students the past 6 or 7 years have been unfamiliar with it, and so it's been super fun to read aloud. The main character, James, loses his parents (they're run over by a rhinoceros) and he is forced to go live with his crazy aunts: Aunt Sponge and Aunt Spiker. He accidentally drops some magic crystals near a peach tree in the backyard and an adventure ensues. It's fun  fantasy-fiction that the kids love and will laugh out loud when you read it!! 

What are some of your favorite read-aloud books that I could add to my list for next year? 📖 Please share in the comments below! 

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Preposition House Project

Last week I shared my lesson idea for teaching prepositions and prepositional phrases. The follow up lesson is what I call the "Preposition House Project." 

Each child folds a piece of 8 1/2  x 11" paper to make an origami house (picture directions below). I ask them to decorate the inside as their bedroom or another favorite room of their house. Then, they write a paragraph describing where everything is in their room using prepositions and prepositional phrases. I have them underline the prepositional phrases in their final paragraph which is typed. 
Here are pictures of how to fold the paper:

We usually share the final paragraphs in small writing groups of four to five students. (It helps to make copies of their writing beforehand so each person in the group has a copy to look at the while the "author" reads it aloud.) I have made a list of sentence stems to help them with making good comments about their classmates' writing pieces. I have it as a free download in my TPT store.

Peer Sharing Sentence Starters

Hopefully this is a useful and successful lesson for your class too! 

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Great Online Boutique For Teachers

I recently discovered a great online clothing site called Goodnight Macaroon. They carry a lot of cute, trendy, stylish, and unique items at reasonable prices. Perfect for the "stylish teacher." :)  I  highly recommend checking them out by following the link below.

Some of my favorites on the website right now: 

Goodnight Macaroon 'Fedora' Cross Cross SweaterGoodnight Macaroon 'Courtney' Floral Midi Skirt

Almond White'Catriona' Red Gingham Scarf'Mariana' Turtleneck Heather Gray Asymmetrical Sweater'You Got This' Pineapple iPhone case

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Grammar Worksheets Don't Make Kids Better Writers

We've all done it; run off a zillion copies of those handy grammar worksheets in the hopes that our students will grasp the concept and apply it to their writing. Our students will become prolific writers with interesting ideas and no grammar or spelling errors to get in the way of their great ideas. Yeah, right. "My name is Mrs. Jacques and I admit I've been a worksheet grammar teacher," (hand raised, eyes down 😉). Even though I have known it since I began teaching, there are just those times when we need the convenience and ease of a worksheet, right?  And let's face it, there's always a few students who love those fill-in-the-blank pages! Ha! (Honestly there are some!) 
However, most research shows, as well as my own experience as a classroom teacher for 27 years, that there is very little carry-over to their actual writing. We still have to go through their papers and help them edit for grammar mistakes that we have already taught them and then we get frustrated that they aren't supposedly "learning."  In Jeff Anderson's book, Everyday Editing, he discusses this in the Introduction. He says that if the teacher is correcting every single grammar and spelling mistake it sends the message that they don't need to really concern themselves with the editing because the teacher will mark it up with his/her red pen anyway. I agree 100%. They mentally tune out the mistakes. 
When a Writing Workshop approach is used, grammar lessons become short, focused mini-lessons centered around real authors (including student authors from your own class). My students love when I post some of their own sentences on the board for us to read or analyze. And it becomes more motivating for them to apply the correct grammar rules as well as use more interesting sentence variety that is being taught because they want to impress their audience. Jeff Anderson says, "I want students to think, write, read, discuss, notice, question, and discover writing - even during editing instruction." I share that goal for my 4th graders. 

This week I'm planning to teach our 4th grade CCSS for Language
L.4.1e: "Students form and use prepositional phrases."

 I usually begin by writing a sentence or two from our latest read aloud or a current text they're familiar with which contains prepositions. I direct their attention to the sentences as I read them aloud. My next question is one I use every day in my classroom in all subject areas (and I borrowed it from Jeff Anderson): "What do you notice?" (about these sentences). 

 I accept any and all responses and record them on a chart. If not a single student has noticed that both sentences contain words that give "more information" or "some direction" then I will ask guiding questions  or give hints to help them get there. I might even post a list of prepositions without telling them what they are called and ask if they see any of these words in the sentences. 

I will then pass out a page of sentences with parts missing to small groups of 4-5 students. 

These are sentences from real authors. I also have some prepositional phrases that I've written on small index cards and put in a Ziploc which I give to each group. 

Working together, they will complete the sentences with the missing prepositional phrases so that they make sense. 

Afterwards, I will pass out a sentence strip and a marker and have each small group compose and write a sentence using a prepositional phrase and we do a share-out to the whole class and post the sentence strips in a pocket chart or on the wall. 

The next lesson is a fun one; the students will make a one-dimensional origami house out of paper and decorate the inside to look like a room in their house. They then label the room using sentences with prepositional phrases. I will post student samples of those this week. :) 

Have a blessed week! 🌟

You can download the above resources for free at my TPT store