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Sunday, December 28, 2014

How To Teach How To Writing

Every year, my sixth graders complete a Language Arts unit on writing instructions.  I always enjoy this unit because at the end each student gives a demonstration on their instructions.  I love watching them gather the courage to stand up in front of the class and explain to others how to do something. {I am not sure that they enjoy the unit as much as I do though!}

The unit does have its challenges though.  Writing instructions is very different from writing a narrative or report.  Every step of the process must be made clear enough that another person can follow that step.  Adding enough details seems to be a problem for the majority of my students.
One of my students demonstrated how to make candy trail mix!

I like to start the unit with a fun activity that shows them the importance of details, specifically spatial words and phrases {another focus of the unit}.  I choose one student to come to the board.  I then give them very vague instructions to draw a snowman.  I say things like "draw a circle. Now draw another circle.  Draw two sticks." I include all of the snowman parts without telling where they should go.  At the end, I usually ask, "What did you draw?" Of course, it is usually unrecognizable.  Then, I tell them that they drew a snowman and talk about the importance of giving clear directions.  Next, I discuss what spatial words and phrases are {words that tell where}.  Finally, I let another student come to the board.  This time I give clear instructions to draw a snowman pointing out the spatial words I use as they draw.
Another student taught us how to build a fort out of blocks.
The kids love drawing on the board, and the simple activity really seems to show them how important the details are when writing instructions. From there we work through each step of the writing process until each student has completed a neat final copy!

Friday, December 26, 2014

New Goals for a New Year

I cannot believe that it is almost 2015!  The older I get, the more time seems to fly by in a flash.  Life has been busy this year.  I started blogging and creating for TeachersPayTeachers.  I changed the entire way I teach reading this year to put more book choices in the hands of the students.  I started using Interactive Notebooks in some of my classes.  All of this meant more work crammed into each day {although it is fun work}.

One of the best ways to succeed is to write down your goals. Just this simple action can help you focus your energy to get more done. So I am linking up with Stephanie at Mrs. D's Corner to list some of my goals for 2015.

Personal:  I tend to get caught up in watching t.v. shows on Netflix during my free time in the evening.  While there is nothing wrong with this, there are probably better ways that I could spend my time.  I plan to still watch t.v.  However, I want to watch less and read more instead.

Professional:  I have just started blogging and selling products on TPT.  I am going to set monthly goals for uploading products to my TPT store.  I am also making it a goal to blog at least 3 times a week.

Planning:  My planning goal goes right along with my professional goal.  I tend to plan out blog posts on my calendar and then forget to actually write them.  My goal is to spend a little time each Sunday planning my blogs for the week and then remember to write and post them on the correct day as well.

Organization:  While I am very good at keeping my classroom neat and organized, I can't always say the same about my house.  There are certain rooms that tend to collect stray items.  I want to organize those certain rooms.  {Hopefully, if I get the rooms organized, I can keep them that way.}

Students:  Teaching my students to love reading was one of my goals at the beginning of the year, and I want to keep that goal fresh in my mind.  I believe that all children can enjoy reading if given the right book.  I want to help my students find their right books so they read because they want to not because I make them.

Motto:  Matthew 19:26 says, "With God all things are possible."  This is a verse that I need to remember every day.  Whether the day has gone great or it was horrible, during stressful days and relaxing ones, I want to remind myself that God makes all things possible.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry Christmas Everyone!

I hope everyone is having a wonderful day with family and friends.  I wanted to share my favorite gifts from today.  Of course, Christmas isn't just about the gifts.  We ate breakfast as a family and read the Christmas account from Luke 2 before opening gifts.  But these three gifts are especially exciting to me!

I have been waiting for a while to read The Daily 5 by Gail Boushey and Joan Moser.  I have already started reading it and underlining and taking notes in it!!  I love the thought of having a classroom where children are actually reading and writing independently every day.

The Lesson Planning Handbook by Peter Brunn is a book that I didn't know I wanted, but I can't wait to read it.  

And I am super excited about my large world map!  It is laminated so once I hang it, I can have students circle where the countries are that we talk about in class, draw arrows for troop movements during wars, and so many other fun activities. 

I hope each one of you had a fun-filled day.  I am off to enjoy spending more time with my family.  {And probably read more of The Daily 5!}

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Our Christmas Festivities

Christmas Break has finally arrived!!  
I am not going to lie to you.  I am pretty excited to have a couple weeks off.  And I think the kids all need a break too.  We have been doing some fun Christmas activities over the past few days though.  


We wrote cute Christmas tree shape poems to hang on my bulletin board.  This was an easy project, and the poems came out great!

We decorated our classroom complete with Christmas lights.  {And sometimes we even worked with the lights off!}

We gave presents from our elementary students to all of the volunteers that help out in our room.  The kids loved signing all the cards to put in the presents.

And we had our annual Christmas program on Thursday night.  My kids did amazingly well.  We have so many practices. {And this year, I did not feel like the practices went very well}  But they pulled off an awesome performance!
I was so proud of them all!

And of course, we had our Christmas party on Friday morning.

Party snacks were first, and then the kids got to open presents.  The students each bought a present for another student, and then we teachers all chipped in to get a present for each student as well.
{We got each student a book at their reading level, a word search book, and two pencils.}

The kids were super excited about every present that was opened.  It was so fun to watch!
We teachers had fun, and I know the students had fun too!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Wordless Wednesday

My kids have been working hard practicing for our Christmas program tomorrow night.  They are singing several songs and reading speaking parts. 
 Does your school do a Holiday program?  
What parts do your students have in it?  
I would love to hear about your upcoming programs!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Rainy Days = Indoor Recess

We have had rain and cold temperatures for the past few days up here in the Northeast.  Which means that my kids have been stuck inside for too long.  One of the downsides of living where it is cold is the fact that we spend many recesses indoors.  Most of the time, we try to encourage the students to find calm things to to during indoor recess.  And sometimes that's successful.

There are some days however, when we just know that the kids need to get some energy out - even if they are inside.  One fun activity that the students always enjoy is making and flying paper airplanes.  So that's what we did today!  I pulled out lots of colored paper and my Big Big Book of Paper Airplanes so the students could make their airplanes.

Then the chaos began!  Planes were flying everywhere.  Kids were chasing each other, throwing planes at each other, and have airplane races.  By the end of recess, the kids were worn out and ready to go back to sitting still and learning. {And I had only gotten hit once!}

If you need something to keep your kids busy at home on a cold, rainy day, then airplanes is the way to go.  You can find instructions online for all different styles of planes. even has downloadable patterns for you to use!  What a fun way to spend a rainy afternoon!

Friday, December 5, 2014

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas...

My room is finally {somewhat} decorated for Christmas!
So I am linking up with Step Into Second Grade with Mrs. Lemons
for her fun Deck the Classroom link-up.

I don't do much, but I do put up Christmas bulletin boards, and this year I put Christmas lights around my white board.  It looks so pretty.  In fact, today the kids talked me into letting them work with the overhead lights off for part of the morning!  Anyway, I wanted to show you some pictures of my festive room.

My small bulletin board
Christmas lights around my white board
My door decoration
I snapped some pictures of several of the other elementary classrooms too.
They look even better than mine!

The younger students drew Christmas pictures to hang up.
Don't you love all the ornaments the kids made for this tree?
My favorite board for sure is my large bulletin board.  I started with just a caption and some blank pieces of construction paper.

Each of the students then worked through the steps of my Christmas Tree Shape Poem Project.  They were able to do most of the work on their own, and the poems came out great!

 Then I hung the finished poems on the construction paper displays.  The kids were excited to read their friends' shape poems once they were posted.  If you want to read the students' poems, I put close ups on my facebook page.  {I love the way the finished board looks.}

{I'm saving some of the spots for the sense poems we are working on next.}

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Art Class: Focus on Color

It's the 1st Thursday of the month again, so we had a special art class today.  The kids love having Mr. Halferty come in, and they are learning so much more about art than I could ever teach them.  So far, he has taught them about how artists tell a story with their art and about the different types of lines that artists use.  
 Today, we focused on color in art.  His presentation showed them how colors can be mixed to form new colors.  Then he discussed three aspects of color: color, hue, and intensity.  The students then drew and painted a colorful bunch of balloons to practicing working with color.

First, they had to draw the balloons with a pencil.

The next step was using watercolor paints to add color to their balloons.

It is always amazing to see how each child draws and paints the same objects differently.
Some students focus on the color of the balloons.
Other students focus on drawing each individual balloon.

And other students include every detail around the balloons as well.

Whatever details they choose to add, I am always pleasantly surprised by how well their pictures turn out!

Monday, December 1, 2014

Currently December

December is finally here. 
 I am thankful that the weather has not been that cold lately. 
 Today was so warm that the students were all taking their jackets off at recess!

I am linking up with Farley over at Oh Boy Fourth Grade for Currently December.

Listening:  I am loving Pandora's Christmas music stations.  My favorite so far is the Josh Groban holiday station.

Loving:  We put up Christmas decorations over the weekend.  We don't do too much because we go to my in-laws house in North Carolina for Christmas, but we put up a small tree in my son's room.  He gets to decorate it himself.  He loves having a tree in his room and is so proud of how it turns out every year!

Thinking:  I don't usually put up Christmas lights in my classroom, but I am thinking about hanging some this year.  I guess I will have to see if I have any strands that all work before I decide.

Wanting:  Don't get me wrong - I love going back to school after a break.  The kids were great today, and we got lots done.  However, I am always so tired after the first day back that I wish we had tomorrow off to recuperate!

 Needing:  I have been putting off renewing my license for weeks now.  And now it expires on Saturday so I really need to get that done one afternoon this week.

Giving:  As a teacher, I give small gifts to my students, fellow teachers, and some of our staff and volunteers.  I try to keep an eye out all through the year for sale items to put in the gifts.  I already have most of the gifts bought.  Now I just have lots of wrapping and gift bagging to do!

You can use the link at the top of the post 
to head over to Farley's page 
and find out what other teachers are currently up to!