Sunday, September 23, 2012

Fall Blog Hop - Firefly Wondering Project

Happy Sunday and Second Day of Fall,

TeachingMy3 is hosting a seasonal blog hop, and I'm wondering if my firefly project is appropriate?  Hope so!  I'll be back later in the week with some other Autumn related activities going on in my classroom. 

I had a week filled with meetings (like you, I'm sure) and spent some after-hours doing planning but it seemed to be worth it. 

We are just about finished with our launch lessons for Readers Workshop, and one of the last lessons in this module was to set expectations for book discussions.  I had made speech bubbles to go with my Packer player heads.  These are posted so students can refer to them as they develop book discussions.  Someone at my school commented that these are especially great for autistic students to refer to.
Here is a close up of the poster I made with a blank Vista Print board I had.  I guess we're not supposed to call them Literature Circles any more - too old school or something. 

 We also discussed questioning and wondering while reading, and I read this book about Fireflies as a mentor text.
Then, as one of their small group stations during our RTI time. which we call WIN (what I need), the third graders did this firefly project.
This project was adapted from one I saw in a Mailbox craft book.
I supplied a 2 X 7 inch piece of green for the body, 2 1/2 X 3 1/2 inch pieces of yellow for the wings, and the same size of wax paper for the top layer of wings.  The students rounded the corners, and used a marker to separate the head, thorax, and abdomen.  I supplied sequins (from JoAnn Fabrics for 99 cents a bag) for the "lights" on the abddomen.  Then the students had to write wondering questions about fireflies.  Non-fiction firefly books were also placed at the station.
These students had studied insects in second grade so the body parts would not have been new to them.
I have a fun insect unit on sale at my TPT store here.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Tell Me Something Good Linky

Isn't there a kind of old bluesy song that starts out - "Tell me something good" - followed by a guitar rift?  Anyway - it's always time for good news, so I'm joining Rowdy in First Grade for just that.
My school district has overwhelmed us with a literal flood of new initiatives, and everyone is pretty stressed, but we've also worked to help each other out.  We have to benchmark every student twice, so for me that means doing 54 benchmarks since I have 27 third graders.  Luckily the music teacher, gym teacher, literacy coach, and G/T teacher have come in to do an extra lesson in my room so I could work on benchmarks while they are teaching. Do you have to do benchmarks, and if  so, how many, and how do you get them done while teaching everyday?

We were also asked to post about something good that's happening at home.  Hmmm....we have a book club coming up on Thursday night that is at a friend's house.  It's a fun group so I'm looking forward to kicking back, having a drink, and chatting and laughing with my girls.

Also, I wanted to share the family letter I send home about our book exchange so you might try one in your classroom, too.  You can find it here on Scribd.

Monday, September 10, 2012

September 11 Book and Video Suggestion

Hi All-

Will you be remembering the events of September 11, 2001, in your class tomorrow or this week? We always watch the Reading Rainbow video called "The Tin Forest".  It is available through Safari - we have Safari on our school district's home page.  Safari is an online warehouse for videos.  Anyway, "The Tin Forest" episode is a very touching story of students whose school was affected by the tragic events on September 11.  The students had to attend a different school for months, and after returning to their own school they create a music video to thank those in their neighborhood who helped in the aftermath.  Keep the kleenexes handy - this video gets to me everytime.

Also, when I visited the 9/11 Memorial this summer in NYC I saw a great book in the gift shop.  It is called The Little Chapel That Stood.  I did not purchase it and am now wishing I would have.  This book tells the story of the chapel across the street from the towers that remains standing after the collapse of the buildings.  The chapel became a resting spot for all of the volunteers.  They were renovating it when I was in NYC but I had been inside it before.  It is a wonderful, emotional place to visit.  After doing a search I found there are very few books available because of a variety of factors.  I found one at Barnes & Noble online and it was over $100!   But never fear, I found a copy of the book online, and you can access it here
There is also a teacher's guide that goes with this book that can found here.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

TBA Freebie Friday - Book Exchange and Response Journal Labels

I'm a day late but still wanted to hook up with TBA for Freebie Friday!  In my back to school letter to my students I asked them to bring in up to 3 books for a class book exchange.  I have done this in the past at the beginning of the school year, and it's always been a success.  A new twist to the book exchange this year was that I asked my third graders to put together a short commercial about one of the books they were donating.  The book commercial direction sheet can was based on suggestions from Beth Newingham on book commercials.

The students started bringing in their books on Open House night over a week ago, and we started school this past Tuesday.  In prepping for the book commercials I explained the process, and also showed a clip from the end of a Reading Rainbow episode where the kids recommend books.  The book commercials were shared on Friday.
These are the books we had received by Thursday afternoon. I also added some "well-used" books from the classroom.
I could tell the third graders were nervous as they shared the book commercials, but they really did an awesome job.  While they were sharing I listed the books on my Interwrite Board, and the students wrote down the name of their favorites on a page in their Reading Response Journals entitled "Books I Want to Read".  Afterwards they got to pick 2 books from the activity to add to their book boxes.  I did have 2 people who were not prepared (even after talking about it all week), and someone who was upset that they didn't get the book they really wanted, but overall it was a very positive reading activity. 

You can find my Reading Response Journal labels here for free, too!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Math Bulletin Board - TBA Open House Week

While blog stalking this evening I came across the Open House Week linky that is being hosted at TBA.  Today's topic is bulletin boards, and I thought it was the perfect time to share some photos from my third grade classroom.
We just started school last Tuesday, and I was detailing my boards until the day before, so just wasn't ready to show anything til now.  I really like the way my math board/area turned out.
Last school year I saw a suggestion for using flash cards as border for the math wall.  We're starting with multiplication by 5s so those were the cards I used.  I did put them in an order, and the students noticed right away. I ran out of 5s so added some by 2s for the bottom area.  I plan to change the flash cards as we study other count bys.
So far I've added the coin amounts in decimals to the board, and a clock to review time.  We are also writing a number in standard form, expanded form, word form, Roman Numerals, and less than and greater than amounts.  That is the chart under the clock and the orange sentences about multiplying. 
To the right of my math board is my poetry area.  I change the poems every week, and on Fridays we add a paper copy to our poem notebooks.  Here is another view:

Monday, September 3, 2012

Currently - September

Whoa - is it really September?  Yes - it is (sigh), but it does mean it's time for another edition of Farley's Currently.
My favorite things are very current ones!  On Friday I got an e-mail message from a parent of a student I had 3 years ago.  We ran into each other at a restaurant last week.  Anyway, he said how nice it was to see us, and thanked me for being a teacher, and said that I had made a difference in his daughter's life.  Awww...loved that.

I got my new Erin Condren planner in the mail on Friday - yay!  I immediately used the pens that came with it to fill in my plans, etc.  I feel so organized.

I had such an awesome summer - lots of great adventures.  I really need to make a photo book or something so I can relive all the fun.  Here is one picture from the trip to NYC.

My niece and I at Live with Kelly.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

New Blog Design


You may have noticed that I have a new look for my blog!  I am so happy to have found Honey Bunch Blog Designs!
My goal was to have a new professionally-made design before school started, and the girls at Honey Bunch were awesome to work with.  I selected one of their pre-made designs, but it is a one-of-a-kind.  Erika was so patient and helpful, responding promptly to any questions and requests that I had.  I would highly recommend working with Erika and team if you are looking for a blog design.

Check out their site here.  Thanks to Erika and everyone at Honey Bunch for their help!