What I'm Thankful For...

I"m joining Rachelle over at What the Teacher Wants AND Farley at Oh Boy! 4th Grade for their I'm Thankful... linky parties!

1.  What are you thankful for in your classroom?

I have been especially thankful for the Donors Choose materials that arrived last month. I have been using our new sight word games and word work materials in my strategy groups. I'm looking forward to introducing Word Work when we get back from break so the kids can work with them more often.

2. What person are you most thankful for?

My mom... hands down. She is the strongest, funniest, most thoughtful person I know. Our family would fall to pieces without her.

3. What 3 blogs are you most thankful for?

Angelia @ Extra Special Teaching is one of the most giving teacher-bloggers out there. If you haven't seen the games she makes to help her students with spelling patterns and sight words, you need to get there... NOW! I have used so many of the materials she has created.

A Teeny Tiny Teacher

Kristin @ A Teeny Tiny Teacher. She's just plain funny. I always come away from her blog with a smile.

My longtime friend, Kari, writes about her adventures as a new mom and her walk with Him. I miss her more than I could possibly say, but I am thankful I can keep up with her (almost) daily posts about life in Senegal. 

4. What guilty pleasure are you most thankful for?

Ice cream. Lots of it. Especially lately.

And Hoarders. It always makes me feel like my house is in waaay better shape.  

5. What are you most thankful for?

God's never-ending grace. His voice in my head, in my heart, reminding me that I am still His child. I am thankful that His love is boundless and that He is in control of every worry I have. Even the dumb ones.

I hope you all have a marvelous break. I hope you know how much I love being a part of such an incredible network of teachers.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Christmas Read Aloud Linky Party

I was trolling/stalking/looking on Amazon last night for some new Christmas read-alouds when I realized my BEST resource would be YOU wonderful people.

So, I decided to try this linky party thing again.

I'll start by sharing one of my favorite Christmas Read-Alouds:

This has been one of my favorite books since I was... in third grade of course!

 My third graders have always been on the cusp of reality and tradition. (Is that pretty typical?) This book helps to keep the belief in Santa alive! :) I have traditionally used it with story maps, but I'm working on a couple of different ideas that I can't wait to share with you!

What is your favorite Christmas read-aloud? Join in with the link below!


Writing About Our Reading

So we've been working on responding to literature using Lucy's Calkins' Units of Study. I was absolutely in love with what my children were learning, and then it happened again.

I hit a WALL.

I feel like I've smacked into that wall several times this year in my Writer's Workshop. Which, let me tell you people, is not an easy thing to admit. I've been teaching for 10 years. I am not used to hitting THE WALL.

When I was finally tired of pulling my hair out, I went to my sweet friend Marnia. She also happens to be our literacy coach. (People, she is f-a-b-u-l-o-u-s.) Do you want to know what happened next?

We hit the wall together. :)

It gave me so much comfort. I was starting to feel like something was wrong with me, like I couldn't see what my kids needed. So we sat and talked it out together. Again. And we came up with an even better lesson.

Some background...

We've been reading short stories from Cynthia Rylant's Every Living Thing. 

Some of our favorites are:
  • Spaghetti
  • Slower Than the Rest
  • Boar Out There
We also used Donald Crews' Shortcut and Pat Hutchins' Happy Birthday, Sam. All of these were "mentor texts" in our room. Each child chose a story they wanted to write about. Marnia and I typed up the text of each story. (Can't share those, peeps. Copyrights. Bummer.)

Earlier in the week, we talked about visualizing. One of my kiddos started to call it "movie-lizing." So we went with that. :)

Back to the present...

We went through this chart and I modeled the journal page below:

Visualizing Journal

One of the things that helped them to be successful was pasting the moment they found to be the "most important" on the journal. I also reminded them that everyone's moment could be different - just like the stories they chose to write about. But, by pasting their moment on the page, we could easily check to see if their writing was connected to the moment they chose.  

I was truly amazed at what they came up with! I'm not saying that this lesson will be just as successful in your room, but I wanted to share it with you. If you liked this, I'll be happy to share what we work through in the weeks ahead!


We've been struggling with dialogue. And quotation marks.

And when I say struggling, I mean FALLING FLAT ON OUR FACES.

So, I did what any good blogger-friendly teacher would do. I turned to Google Reader. Thank goodness for Google Reader.

I found 2 things that were REALLY helpful:
This post by Dots-N-Spots.

Dots-N-Spots' original display

It reminded me of the perfect book for that transition time between Halloween and Thanksgiving.

So we read The Ugly Pumpkin. (If you don't have, you seriously need to add it to your classroom library.) Every time I get to the line "Oh my GOSH, I'm a SQUASH!" I die laughing. I giggled just now thinking about it. :)

The 2nd thing I found was a set of thinking "cues" for their writing. And, for the life of me I cannot find the post. So if this is your idea and I didn't give you credit, I'm sorry and thank you. It worked.

The prompt is to ask the kids 2 questions: WHO said it? WHAT did they say?

If the student can identify those two parts, then they know where to put the quotation marks.

So here is our GOURD-geous garden. They are pretty durn cute squash if you ask me. :)

We had so much fun making these! The kids have been rereading The Ugly Pumpkin over and over during their Read to Self time.... We just started Daily 5, BTW.

Holy Moses. That's a whole post all in itself. :)