Monday, September 29, 2014

Click, Clack, Boo! FREEBIE

If you are looking for a cute book to read on Halloween, I have a few suggestions and a freebie for you! I got the Scholastic Book Club flyer in my mailbox at school last week. They are now offering Click, Clack, Boo! by Doreen Cronin in paperback. I LOVE Click, Clack, Moo: Cows That Type. So, I ordered a copy. It is a great way to revisit Farmer Brown's farm and see the Halloween party that the farm animals put together. I made this comprehension scoot activity for my kiddos to do on Halloween. I am thinking that I may post the cards around the room, turn out the lights, and have a flashlight hunt for the questions. THANK GOODNESS HALLOWEEN IS ON FRIDAY THIS YEAR!  Can I get an amen?!?  Click HERE or on the picture below to snag your freebie. Feedback is always appreciated!
Here is a cute read aloud of the book if you haven't heard the story before.

I have two other favorites to read the week leading up to Halloween. The first one is  The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything by Linda Williams. I love the repetitive, rhythmic text. The kids always enjoy it, too.
My other favorite is one that is older, but I had never heard of it until last year. How I missed this book by two of my favorite author/illustrators I do not know! It is an amazing way to introduce point of view. The narrator tells of the scary sounds and sights on Halloween night, but the illustrations look totally harmless. It isn't until you reach the end of the book that you realize that the narrator has been a mother cat hiding with her kittens under the front porch. They were scared by the trick or treaters coming to their house to get candy. 
I have book studies available for both of these titles available for purchase in TPT shop. You can view them by clicking on the pictures. 

Have you read all of these? What are your favorite books to read at the end of October?

Head on over to Mrs. Jump's blog for more book chat recommendations!

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Prepping for a Week in Advance

I posted this picture on Instagram on Friday. I asked if I was the only one who had to have everything prepped for the next week before leaving school. Some of you are just as weird as I am about having absolutely everything ready to roll. :) Others asked me how this could possibly be accomplished. So, since you asked, I will tell you how I prep for a week in advance. I have used this same system for years. I will tell you that the only thing I ever bring home is laminating to be cut out, new activities I want to make, and some last minute papers to grade on Friday nights. 

Monday: On Mondays, I check out any books or materials I will need from the media center next week. I also pull masters or files for things I know I need: the next week's morning work, Saxon phonics folders, or SRA reading lessons. 

Tuesday:  I start doing a rough sketch of the coming week's math plans. I pull my files, shop around on TPT, and see which interactive notebooking lessons I want to copy for the next week. 

Wednesday:  I finalize my math plans, make any copies that I need, and laminate any new centers I will be using. I also pull any manipulatives I will need. If time allows, I start sketching out my ELA plans for the next week. 

Thursday:  I finish the sketch for ELA and copy/laminate any needed materials.

Friday: I type up and email out my plans to admin/2nd grade team. When I had my own room, I also made sure that Monday's newsletter was ready to roll. Then, before I leave, I use my plans to sort everything into its bin. These Lakeshore bins have been with me for a long time! I love being able to just grab that day's items and go!

This also comes in handy when you have to be out unexpectedly. It was always so nice to be able to call my teacher buddy across the hall and say, "My schedule is posted. The bin is ready to go!" 

Here is a little peek at my week's plans. I have heard that some of you have to write plans that are PAGES long! Bless your hearts! We do have some incredible units that our grade level wrote and use. Admin gives the support staff a lot of leeway in what we teach and how we plan. This rough sketch works for me.

So, how do you plan for the days ahead? I would love to hear from you! 

Monday, September 22, 2014

Behavior Management Tips {Freebie}

So, I went to a Professional Learning course last week and actually picked up a few new strategies to add to my bag of tricks. I also wanted to share my new small groups engagement strategy with you all. It is working out so well! 

In our class, we spent some time exploring the differences between praise and encouragement. Praise is vague and non-specific. "This looks great!", "You did that so well!", and "I love your work!" are all examples of praise. We often interject our own feelings into praise statements. If you have students who are in a power struggle with you, praise is likely to backfire. Encouragement,  however, is extremely effective. It describes the student's efforts. For example, "You finished the whole paper!", "You stayed in your seat all during math today!", or ""You scored 8 out of ten correct. You are really improving!". So, I am working on being more specific in my comments to my students. 

A very wise teacher once advised me to incorporate as much choice and chance as possible into my instruction. Kids LOVE choice or chance! For example, I might say to a student, "Drew, your finger and eyes never left the page as we were reading. I appreciate your attention. You may choose the highlighter color for the group today." Kids also love it when their choice impacts others. I may also say, "We are going to read both of these passages this week, but today, Sarah is going to roll this die. If it lands on an even number, we will read the one about apples today. If it lands on an odd number, we will read the one about Johnny Appleseed first."

We are also implementing a new behavior management tool during our RtI reading sessions. I am really pleased with how it is going so far. Very often, these struggling students also have behavior related issues, too. They can be inattentive, overactive, withdrawn, or argumentative. I needed something that would work for specific behavior goals. I don't expect my students to be perfect right off the bat. We are still getting to know each other. I do, however, expect them to work hard and be respectful to me and the other students in our group. So, I am targeting key behaviors with them using a punch card system. I bought these sets from Pink Cat Studio. You can check them out {HERE} in her store.

The very first thing I do during our small group time is distribute their punch cards. They keep them right at the top of their work space.  They know their target behaviors. If Harry starts getting up out of his seat, I just put my finger on his card, and he sits back down. If I have not gotten much voluntary participation out of Carrie today, I may scoot her card towards her and say, "The next question is for you, sweet one. Go ahead and read it now and be thinking about your answer."  If they met our expectations and goals for that session, they earn one punch. 10 sessions should equal 10 punches. 

This little darling is on her way to cashing in her punch card tomorrow!

We decided to come up with some incentives that were quick, easy, and free/inexpensive. I have seen treats like these on other blogs and on Pinterest, but I only have my reading students for 40 minutes. I needed something that I could use just during that time and still get their group work for the day accomplished. I think that the kids will enjoy spending their tickets on a treat! I am planning to staple their punch card and ticket to their work so that they can share it with their classroom teacher and family. If you would like to use these blackline masters for treats for your kiddos, you can download them by clicking {HERE} or on the picture below. 

I would love to hear any ideas you have for other free rewards! 

Thursday, September 18, 2014


I thoroughly enjoyed researching this product. Owls are completely fascinating to me! Their silent flight, incredible senses, and unique calls intrigue me. I hope that your class might enjoy learning more about some different species of owls, too. There are so many ways to use the book (color or black/white version) that comes with this unit. You could bind it for your classroom library, project each page onto your interactive whiteboard, or use a page a day during close reading. There are several graphic organizers included along with clickable links to audio recordings of calls, webcams, and interesting videos. Two assessment options are also in this product. Click {HERE} or on the picture below to find out more. 

During my research, I found some awesome videos. The one below is included in the section on the great grey owl. This clip from the BBC is riveting. I think your kiddos would love to watch it, too!

This link is not all that educational and is not in the product, but it was too precious not to share here on the blog. I dare you to watch it and not feel a burning desire to pet a northern saw whet owl! :)

I also found a fascinating site for bird research. It is called . It is run by the Cornell Lab. You can research almost any bird and listen to audio recordings of their calls. Click {HERE} or on the picture below to listen to the northern saw whet owl's various calls.

If you like this series, please check out more of my nonfiction titles in my store. Thanks so much!

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Doubles Facts Freebie

We are kicking off our study of addition fact strategies this week! I am using this little poem/chant to help my RtI students remember their doubles facts. I made this anchor chart to display in class as we recite the poem together. We are going to add in hand motions for each fact, too. The more visual and hands-on I can make their math instruction, the better, right? :)

We will also add this printable copy to our interactive notebook. This freebie includes a color and b/w version. I hope it will be helpful to your sweeties, too. Click {HERE} to download your copy.

Hope your year is off to a great start!