Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Upper Elementary Blog Post

I am so excited to be a part of the wonderful group of teachers called Upper Elementary Snapshots! I would love for you to visit and check out my post "8 Reasons to Use Flipbooks in Your Classroom."

To celebrate, I have several of my October themed TpT items on sale! Visit my store for some huge savings!
Candy Corn Clipart by Kelly B.
Halloween Themed Graphic Organizers
October Writing Prompts, Graphic Organizers, Papers, and Posters
Pumpkin Possessives Plural Possessive Nouns
"Owl" About My Halloween Poster

Fall Things Clipart by Kelly B.

Have a blessed day!

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Cause and Effect and Free Graphic Organizer

In my last post I shared a list of picture books that are perfect for teaching cause and effect.  Today, I want to share with you the books that I chose to use with my class.  I used Spiders by Seymour Simon to model locating cause and effect in the text.

This is a perfect nonfiction book to find several excellent examples of cause and effect situations. As we discussed the cause and effect situations from this nonfiction text,  I wrote them on this anchor chart that I created.

For another activity to help scaffold the instruction, I chose Dav Pilkey's book Dog Breath. This is such a fun and funny book that students just love! I am a sucker for authors who are also illustrators, and Dav Pilkey's illustrations help tell this hilarious story and add even more humor to the book.

As I read this book, students listened for and jotted down cause and effect situations.  I stopped every few pages to discuss with the whole group or have students discuss the cause and effect situations that they found with their partners. Once the book was complete, I gave students a copy of this graphic organizer to complete. They simply used the notes that they had taken as I read the book.

I then instructed the students to write the cause and effect situations into a paragraph.  I also drew by hand my own version of Haley, the dog, for the students to color.  They mounted all of this on a bright yellow piece of construction paper which made this cute and colorful display for our hallway.

If you would like your own copy of the graphic organizer for FREE, simply click here!  

Have a blessed day!

Friday, October 10, 2014

Using Picture Books to Teach Cause and Effect

Hey ya'll! I know I have been away from this blog for way too long. I feel that I have lived away from home for the past two months.  We have been so busy with school, volleyball practice, volleyball games, and cow shows! In fact, my family is currently away at our state capital enjoying a fun filled two days of cattle shows.  I thought I'd pop in and share with you some things that have been going on in my classroom.

Cause and Effect

I absolutely love using picture books to teach reading strategies and skills to my students, and one reason is because the students love this as well.  We have been studying cause and effect.  There are so many choices for picture books to help model this strategy with your students.  I wanted to share a few of my favorites with you.  

The Memory String by Eve Bunting is one of my favorite books.  It is such a sweet story of a young girl's loss, the memories of her mother, and the new memories that she will make.  This book is an contains many situations of cause and effect that are perfect for discussion or to chart.

Pinduli by Janell Cannon is a great story for introducing cause and effect.  This story is also a wonderful tool to help students realize that saying unkind things can be very hurtful to others.

The House on Dirty-Third Street by Jo S. Kittinger is a new discovery for me.  I absolutely fell in love with the message of this book, and I thought this story was sweetly told.  This is a story of a young girl and her mother who must move into a house with an overwhelming amount of repairs.  After reaching out to the local church, people in the community come together to help this family fulfill their dreams of a home.  This book shows the best of a community and how we can greatly affect people's lives when we reach out to others. My students and I enjoyed this book very much.  In fact, it was one of my students who recommended it to me. Once again, this book is perfect for cause and effect.

Someday a Tree is one of my absolute favorite picture books ever. I read this to my students every year whether it is to review cause and effect or perhaps to just enjoy the beautifully written story.

I am not a big Madonna fan even though I grew up in the eighties, but I have to admit that I enjoy her book, Mr. Peabody's Apples. It teaches a wonderful lesson of the power of negative words and of how gossip can hurt other people.  There are many excellent situations of cause and effect that can be charted in this book.  By creating of chart of this story and leaving it up in your classroom, you not only have a wonderful reminder of cause and effect, but you also have a wonderful reminder of how negative words can hurt others; win-win.

Twenty-One Elephants and Still Standing by April Jones Prince is a wonderful story of the Brooklyn Bridge and how P.T. Barnum helped dismiss rumors that the bridge would not be safe.  This is another great choice for teaching cause and effect. 

What are some of your favorite picture book recommendations for teaching cause and effect?

Have a blessed day!

Saturday, September 27, 2014

New Blog Kickoff and Giveaway!

I am thrilled and excited to be a part of a new collaboration group for upper elementary! I have been invited to join eleven fabulous bloggers and TpT'ers to bring you "snapshots" into our classrooms! Take a look at Upper Elementary Snapshots, and you may find some fabulous ideas and resources for your own classroom!

Upper Elementary Snapshots is the name of our new blog.   
Fabulous ideas will be posted every week!
Visit the "Meet the Collaborators" page to get to know a little bit about us.
Check out the "Freebies" page for fabulous items for your classroom!
Be sure to follow so you won't miss any of the wonderful ideas and freebies that we will be sharing!

don't miss out on the fabulous giveaway! 
Win $120 worth of wonderful TpT
items from 12 top TpT sellers!
Your choice from each
of their stores!

Have a blessed day!

Saturday, September 13, 2014

A No Prep Lesson: Making Teaching Easier, Not Harder

My school year is now rolling full speed ahead! I always look forward to the feeling that I have when it seems that the students and I are in a routine:  beginning of the year routines are established, the kiddos know and understand my expectations, and daily routines are in place.  Well, I think we have made it there! Yay! 

Now; however, we are busy, busy, busy! Not only am I busy with school stuff, but my life at home is busy, too! My youngest daughter has volleyball games or practice every afternoon.  Both of my girls are showing cattle again, and those shows are scattered throughout our schedules. Sundays for us is church day. Life is busy, but good.  With so much going on, it is hard to find time to create beautiful, showy lessons.  You know the ones I'm talking about.  Those "Pinterest" worthy lessons that are so cute and colorful and take hours of cutting, planning, and preparing.  Well, I want to share how I created a very good lesson that took very little prep. Yes, it is not showy and pretty, but I think it met the needs of my students.

Several years ago, we went through strategic reading training that focused on "before, during, and after" reading strategies.  Unfortunately, last year, we adopted a new reading series, and once again, all of the teaching strategies that we had worked hard to established were thrown out the window.  (You know what I mean.  It seems as educators, we are told and trained to use one technique, but when we finally establish using it, we are told to abandon it, and use something completely different.) This year, however,  I am trying to work to incorporate those reading strategies back into my lessons.  This week we read a nonfiction text (from our reader) about earthquakes.  So, for my "before" reading strategy, I used an A,B, C brainstorm.  You are probably familiar with this.  Usually, the teacher gives the students a handout with the alphabet listed in columns.  The students simply brainstorm and use their prior knowledge to write words or phrases (beginning with each letter) that are related to the reading topic.  For example:  A:  a type of natural disaster   B:  below earth's surface   C:  crisis can be created   D:  destroys, etc.
(A,B,C Brainstorm.  Very creative spellings!)

Unfortunately,  to complete an entire alphabet can take twenty to thirty minutes, so I simply had my students to write only the letters A through J (you could do any amount or set of letters you want such as L through P). They wrote this in their reading journals, and I gave them five minutes to brainstorm.  When time was up, my students turned and talked to their reading partners to share their thoughts.  This is mainly to build an interest and help them recall background knowledge about the subject.  Did you notice that this took absolutely no prep for me?  Nothing to cut out, run off, or laminate!

As we read the text, I simply used the reading strategy, "think, pair, share."  I love this strategy and use it almost everyday. (This was the one strategy that I did not abandon last year.)  I often simply call it "turn and talk."  As we read the text, I occasionally stopped and asked an important question.  Students would look back at the text and "think."  Then they would "share" with their partner (that they were already paired with).  I established partners at the beginning of the year, so my students know who they are working with.  This strategy gets everyone thinking about their reading and discussing.  Once again, very little prep.  I just chose questions that were in my teacher's manual. Very easy!

After reading, I used stick notes for "jot notes."  Our focus during this lesson was comparing and contrasting.  For example, we used the text to compare and contrast tsunamis and hurricanes. Now, I could have taken the time to create a nice and colorful anchor chart, but remember, my theme today is no prep. I chose, instead, to use a pdf version of a Venn diagram to project onto my Smartboard.  The one I used was part of my reading series, but here is a free one that I found online.  I simply projected the Venn diagram.  I gave one set of students "tsunamis", another set "hurricanes", and the final set of students "both".  Each student looked back and read closely in the text to find the information and write it on the sticky note. We then went around the classroom and shared, and students put the sticky note in the correct circle on the board.  This was also a great way for me to assess who needed more instruction with comparing and contrasting. Once again, no prep! Super easy, but very effective!  I must say that I think this lesson was a huge success!  Every lesson does not have to be hard for the teacher.  Sometimes the simplest lessons turn out to be some of the best.

(Instead of making an anchor chart, simply project a pdf of a Venn diagram to make an easy, no prep lesson.)

We have also been learning about compound sentences this week.  I love graphic organizers, so I decided to create a graphic organizer for compound sentences. I chose to use this as a formal assessment following lessons on compound sentences. Not only did this serve as an assessment for me to evaluate my students' understanding, but these graphic organizers turned out very cute once my students colored them, and they will look great displayed on the bulletin board. Now for the best part, I am giving this to you for free!  I hope you enjoy this little freebie! Click on the picture below to download from my TpT store, or simply click here to download the pdf.
Compound Sentences Graphic Organizer

Be blessed!

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Bulletin Boards Around My School

I love a cute bulletin board!  It can add so much color, creativity, and interest to a hallway or a classroom!  This year at my school, one of my teacher friends has really outdone herself on her bulleting boards!  The has created some super cute bulletin boards inspired by Pinterest (of course), and she is letting me share them with you!  I just love her bright colors and creative designs!

Paint you own future! I love the little 3D butterflies on this colorful bulletin board! This board really brightens up our main hallway!

You are responsible for yourself.  I love the black silhouettes on this bulletin board.  They really pop against the bright green background.  I also like the message of this bulletin board.

Leadership comes in cans!  Isn't this bulletin board just darling?  As you can see, I work with some very talented teachers! 
Be blessed!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Back to School! First Day Activities

Well, I have now been in school one week, and I must admit, it s going great!  I am totally exhausted, but it is a good tired because I am enjoying teaching so much!  I still get so nervous on the first day of school, but if I can just get through the first week or two, I feel like I am back into a comfortable pair of shoes! 
As you well know, the first day of school can be so hectic:  with paperwork, new students coming in, unexpected interruptions, trying to get to know the students, establishing routines, and so on...  It can also be filled with fun. I want to share with you a few of the activities that I chose to use with my students.

First, I used a fun activity calls 4-Corners Icebreakers from One Extra Degree.  This fun activity helps you to learn about your students and how they enjoy learning while letting them get up and move around.  The great thing about these posters is that I plan to keep them up to use them throughout the year. I plan to use them with questions related to what we are studying.  Oh, yes! I forgot the best part.  This item is FREE!
This activity actually came from one of the first packets that I ever purchased on TpT.  When I purchased this packet, it was called Back to School Bash.  Unfortunately, it is no longer available, but I LOVED this activity.  There are 3 posters labeled "Teacher," "Student," and "Both."  I read scenarios from cards, and students decided whose "job" it was:  the teacher's, the student's or both.  This was a fabulous first day activity!
This page is a fun activity that I used from Beginning of the Year Team Building Activities from Kristine Nannini.  This is another great get-to-know- you activity! No prep is involved for this easy activity.
Finally, here is my version of "A Great Classmate" anchor chart. You have probably seen the original  version floating around Pinterest. This is one of my favorite ways to establish classroom expectations.  I have used this for the past two years, and have been so pleased with the results.  This is definitely a first day activity that I plan to continue to use in the years to come. 
Have a blessed day!