When I was in Second Grade.... and Award x6 and GIVEAWAY!

Kate at Second Grade Sparkle is having a super fun linky party, "When I was in _____ Grade." 

I searched high and low for my second grade school picture, but I couldn't find it. I remember the photo so well. I was wearing my favorite outfit: a hot pink dress/leggings one-piece number with black polka dots and fake suspenders. Boy was I COOL! And BEAUTIFUL!! At least I thought so... I bet my mom still has that photo framed in her living room, next to all the other family photos. It sure was a winner! *sigh*

Instead you'll have to settle with my third grade class picture...

Oh jeez.... My mom made a lot of my clothes growing up, and she made me this lovely frock. Thanks Mom...

One thing I do remember about second grade (besides the fact that I LOVED my teacher, Mrs. Schultz), was that on May 10th, we had this crazy snow storm and got like 8 inches of snow! I live in Wisconsin, so we usually have a snow day or two every year, but in May?!?!? On May 10th every year, I always tell this story to my second grade class, and they get such a kick out of it!
That's me in my snow fort!
I wish I could say I was cuter in my tween/teen years, but no. Not at all, actually. Ahhh.. the awkward phase, complete with braces for FOUR years. Yeah, I'll spare you those pictures. Instead, here's me now with my first birthday princess:

OK, I really have to get crackin' on my school work. The trimester is over on Friday and I have a TON of assessments to grade so I can finish up my report cards... which go out a week from today! YIKES!! 


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Interactive Notebook Update & Random Funny

I realized the other day that I haven't updated with how our Interactive Notebooks in science have been going. Sooo.... it's actually been going really well! The first few days were pretty hairy, as students were getting into the routine of writing in their notebooks, but now whenever I tell them to get ready for science, the first thing they all do (seriously, ALL of them!) is get out their notebook and pencil, and wait for me to post the goal of the lesson. I am so surprised and impressed by how well my students are taking to their Interactive Notebooks! I guess I shouldn't have expected anything less! Here are a few pages of what we've been working on.

This was the first day. I gave them a picture of the MyPlate diagram, they colored, and then listed at the bottom two foods for each group.

The next day, we talked about eating a balanced diet. On the My Thinking side, I first asked them to write down what they had for breakfast. Then towards the end of the lesson, they went back and wrote what they could do better for tomorrow to ensure that their meal included more of the food groups. LOVE what this bunny wrote about his Pop Tart! :)

I also tied some of our Health Curriculum in, as we talked about rules for taking medicine. We made a list of medicine rules on the Information side and on the My Thinking side, students wrote ways to get healthy without taking medicine.

Then at the end of every lesson, they go to their Table of Contents page at the beginning of the unit and write the goal again. They write the page number in the left-hand margin and then rate their understanding in the right-hand margin. 1 means "I understand and could explain it to a friend." 2 means "I kind of understand." 3 means "I don't understand and I need more practice." I like this reflection piece. 

We're learning about the digestive system this week, so I'll be back this weekend to show off more pics. Those will be more interesting I think, as they will have more diagrams and pictures of the organs and such!

OK, so this is completely unrelated to Interactive Notebooks... but I was cleaning off my reading table at the end of the day today and I spotted this no-name story. I snapped the photo with my phone, but trust me, it's worth the extra effort to try to read it:
HILARIOUS! I especially love the part about Sammie the dog. I have no idea why this was written or who wrote it, but I don't care because it made me smile. Although, the minutes don't quite add up, so this bunny will have to check his/her math tomorrow... Hey, at least s/he remembered to ask the question at the end!

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Opinion Writing FREEBIE

Hi everyone! I hope you had a happy, happy Thanksgiving! Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. I like to eat and I like to sleep. Win win! I'm enjoying these extra days off of school spending time with the fam, shopping, and of course, creating new things for my classroom! Here's what we'll be doing next week in writing.

One of the Common Core standards requires students to write an opinion piece. I've never really taught opinion pieces... I've done persuasive pieces in the past, but not opinion, so this is new for me. I decided that the bunnies will be writing about their favorite winter activity. So first things first is to create a graphic organizer to help them organize their thinking. I actually created two: one for my on-demand prompt and a blank one, should students decide to write opinion pieces in the future.
UPDATE: The "Favorite Winter Activity" graphic organizer is no longer available, as I feel as though it isn't my best work. However, I have updated the file to include SEVEN graphic organizers that span a variety of genres, including opinion writing, all for FREE! Click HERE to download.

Alright, I'm off to snag some Black Friday deals. Good luck to all my fellow Black Friday shoppers!! :)

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I Have Who Has? Telling Time: Differentiated!

So if you haven't figured it out, I'm a little a lotta obsessed with "I Have, Who Has?" games. I just LOVE how the game is quick and easy, educational, and FUN! So I was perusing TPT the other day, checking out my options, and I wanted to download a telling time version, except... everything that was out there was all hour, all half-hour, all 5 minutes, etc... I don't know about your class, but I have a wide range of abilities in mine, and there is NO WAY I can keep EVERYONE engaged when all of the cards are the same.

One of my teaching mantras is "Differentiation is the name of my game." Why can't there be an "I Have, Who Has?" with differentiated cards? Some cards are on the easy side, some are average, and some are more challenging for the smarties. Sounds like a good idea, hey? So I did it!
(Click on the pic to go to my TPT store)

I am seriously SO excited about this! I color coded the cards based on their level of difficulty:
Red cards: times to the hour
Orange cards: times to the half-hour
Green cards: times to the quarter-hour
Blue cards: times to 5 minutes
Purple cards: times to 5 minutes also, but they are more difficult due to the placement of the hour hand ( ex. 10:55, 6:50)

Now, everyone can play the same game, no matter what their ability, AND no one has to know that the cards have varying degrees of difficulty! WOO!!!

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Why I Started This Blog... INTERACTIVE NOTEBOOKS!

When I started this blog back in June, I thought I needed a focus. Just one topic (OK, maybe two) to write about, and I would only write about that topic. Well that quickly changed, as I started following other blogs and seeing that, hey, I can write about whatever I want!

I haven't actually written much on my blog about that topic. Mostly because I'm dragging my feet. I started this blog so I could document my journey of implementing interactive notebooks in a second grade classroom. I attended a district sponsored conference on Interactive Notebooks and the Nine Thinking Strategies (from the book Classroom Instruction that Works) this past summer, and I was asked to pilot the IN9 (a term my district is using, referring to the using the 9 strategies in an Interactive Notebook. Make sense?) in a second grade classroom. I've never done anything like this before. And I'm nervous. Scared. FREAKING OUT!! And to make things worse, there really isn't a whole lot out there on Interactive Notebooks at the primary level.

TOMORROW we will be starting our very first science unit of the year (I alternate teaching science and social studies units). I chose to do an IN9 in science for a few reasons:
  1. I start with social studies, and I didn't want to start a brand new notebook routine along with all of our beginning of the year class routines.
  2. I only teach 5 science units
  3. My science units are VERY high interest
  4. I thought it would be the easiest thing to do.
My first unit is Health and Human Body. This unit is a hodge-podge of health-related learning goals: nutrition, exercise, medicine/drugs, teeth, digestive system, and skeletal system. To be honest, it's my least favorite unit to teach because it's kind of random. Oh well. Today we started by getting our notebooks ready. I was so, so, SOOO nervous because there were a bazillion directions that needed to be given.

Page 1: We skipped it. We will use that page later on as a title page for the entire notebook. I'm envisioning the bunnies writing "Science" in big letters and then decorating the page with science drawings.

Page 2: Table of Contents. The bunnies cut and glued a "Table of Contents" label in the top margin. Here students will list each unit we will be learning about, as well as what color the tab is.

Page 3: Skipped that one too. We will be using that page similar to the first page, except it will be the title page for our Health and Human Body unit. One thing we did do to the page was make a tab on a sticky note. Each student wrote the name of the unit on the sticky note, and then I had a parent helper use packaging tape to tape it down. This will keep it in place, as well as "laminate" the sticky note.

Page 4: Table of Contents for the unit. On this page, we will write the goal from the lesson and what page it is on. We will also be using this page as the closure to the lesson, where students will rate their understanding of the goal using a 1-3 system, 1 being the best. Again, students cut and glued the label in the top margin. 
Page 5+: This is where we will take notes. Students' interactions and thinking will take place on the left side, and the information will be on the right. I made the "My Thinking" label red (actually it's a cherry pink) because I want students to STOP and think. The "Information" label is green, keeping with the stoplight theme, because we will go, go, GO when taking notes. Students put these labels on the next five pages so that we would be ready for the upcoming lessons. We ran out of time, but I would also have had students number the pages, 1-10 in the top margin as well.

The Back Cover: I actually had my parent helper do this. She taped a piece of yarn to the back cover. Students will be using the yarn as a book mark to keep track of what page they're on. She also taped in an envelope to keep any small pieces. For example, there are extra "My Thinking" and "Information" labels in the envelope right now. Being that this is our first unit, we will be doing a lot of cutting and gluing until students get the hang of note taking.

I was SOOO impressed by how well my students did when we were setting up our notebooks! I hardly had to repeat steps/directions; they were so ON today! It was very reassuring to see this, and also to see their excitement about writing in a notebook. I don't know what it is, but primary kiddos LOVE notebooks LOL! I think this might actually work! I'll be updating our progress with the notebook as we add more to it.


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What's the Scoop? Current Events *FREEBIE*

When we updated our Social Studies curriculum a few years ago, a new requirement was to incorporate current events into the classroom year-round. I wasn't sure how I was going to do this, as current events really don't fit with the rest of my units. I was feeling a little hungry that day, so I created "What's the Scoop?"!

"What's the Scoop?" is an EASY way to incorporate current events and public speaking in your classroom! Every week, a student is the Class Reporter. This is actually one of my classroom jobs. The student receives three ice cream scoops on Monday to work on at home. S/he watches the news or reads news on the Internet or newspaper to find three headlines from the week to write in his/her own words. On Friday, the student brings the scoops back (hopefully cut out!) and shares them with the class. Here's what the bulletin board looks like:
So what do you have to do to set this up? Not much! I cut a triangle out of brown construction paper and then drew criss-cross lines on it with a brown marker, then laminated it. This cone is actually four years old and still looks GREAT! No fading!! Then just make three copies of the ice cream scoop. I do one white (vanilla), one pink (strawberry), and one yellow (chocolate? LOL!). I attach the direction sheet to the top of the scoops so the parents know what to do. Then, just send it home Monday and wait for it to come back on Friday! You'll need 5-10 minutes for the reporter to share, but you don't really have to do anything; maybe just clarify or give more info if necessary. I'm telling you, SO EASY!!! You can pick up a FREE copy at my TpT store by clicking on the picture below.
Have a great night!!


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The Good Behavior Game

I love my class this year, but like all years, we always have something we could work on. I noticed that some of my bunnies were having a hard time paying attention during learning time, and after trying lots of different ideas, I discovered the Good Behavior Game. My school psych first told me about it, I saw it in action by one of our *amazing* third grade teachers, and I was SOLD! Here's the link if you want to know the Official Rules... Read what I did below, but keep in mind I always tweak and modify to make things work for me! :)

To play this game, you pick one thing that your kiddos need to work on. Yes I know that can be hard sometimes, but seriously, just ONE thing! Then you pick ONE place/time (on the carpet, at their desks, centers/stations, etc.). I chose "Being a good listener while sitting at your desk." I had a hard time narrowing it down, but then I saw this poster my class worked together to create during the first days of school:
The poster hangs next to my SMARTBoard in the front of the room and has gone unnoticed over the past few weeks. Not only does this sum up many of things we needed to work on, but "Good Listener" had already been defined. Now I don't need to spend time brainstorming and explaining what I was looking for. AWESOME!

Next you divide the class into two teams: Team 1 and Team 2. I just split the desks down the middle. Then it's time to play! Basically any time you see a person not doing the behavior goal, their team gets a point. The team with the fewest point by the end of the lesson gets a prize. I'll talk more about the prizes I've been using later in this post. When you catch someone not doing the goal, you're actually supposed to call them out on it. "Oops, Johnny. Good listeners are not chatting with their neighbor." (Teacher adds tally mark to Johnny's teams) At first I felt really terrible for singling the offenders out, but how else are you supposed to let them know that what they're doing is not OK? You can't just add tally marks to the team's score without saying anything, or else the team won't know how the points got there. I think as long as you have an "oops, sorry" approach and don't go on and on and on about the offense, you shouldn't worry too much about hurting someone's feelings. You know who your super-sensitive kids are and which ones can accept the constructive criticism in front of their peers.

After explaining the directions, we first tried it during math. Team 1 did pretty well. They only got 4 points. Team 2? Yeah.... 11 points. Yikes. Everyone on Team 1 got a prize. We started over when we switched to Social Studies. This time, Team 1 got one point and Team 2 got three points. YEAH!! I was proud of Team 2 for getting it together, so everyone got the prize. We also played the game in the afternoon during Writer's Workshop. I don't remember the score, but I do remember that Team 1 won.

The next day (Friday) we tried it again in math. Team 1 got 2 points and Team 2 got 7 points. Are you seeing a trend here? I sure am! The next step is to pick out your biggest point-getters and put them on their own team. Team 3 was created, and here was the ending score after social studies:
(Sorry, I snapped this pic with my phone...)

Since Team 1 and Team 2 did so well, they each got the prize. Sorry, Team 3. It was nice to see the good listeners on Team 2 getting rewarded this time. Here's the cool thing: We did some review work in their packet, I taught the new info, and then they did another page in their packet. Normally, I would've had bunnies doodling all over their packet during the lesson, but before I started teaching, I said, "Now remember, good listeners have their pencils down and they're not drawing pictures on their packet." I'm not even joking: I caught just one student doodling! ONE!! WOW, this is really working!! I also had the school psych in my classroom during this time and he said to me after school that he noticed whenever I pointed out the bad behavior, that student immediately stopped and didn't start back up again. YESSSS!! I was pleasantly surprised that the kiddos picked up right where they left off today! :)

Prizes:
For the winning team, I was giving out Gotcha Stickers. The Gotcha program something we use in K-2 at my school. Gotcha stickers are little smiley face stickers that we give to kiddos when we "Gotcha being good," and when they fill up their Gotcha chart (12 stickers), they can go to the Gotcha store and get a little prize/trinket. They also get their names read during announcements. But if your class/school doesn't do incentives like that, there are lots of free prizes you could do: line up first, go to lunch/recess/dismissal a minute early, show-and-tell, switch desks with a friend, eat lunch in the classroom, stay in at recess and play a game, do a special job for the teacher, .... so many possibilities! {Disclaimer: I can't take credit for most of these. That awesome 3rd grade teacher I was telling you about above came up with these ideas!}

Of course you'll have a few kinks. I did have one instance where one student went too far, and was being pretty mean to another who had earned a point for the team. I pulled that student aside and said that sometimes people make bad choices, and that he needs to do HIS job; not worry about what others are doing. That team ended up being the winning team, and I gave everyone a gotcha, except for my friend who was being mean to his teammate. Sorry, but if you're going to be a poor sport, you're not going to get a gotcha. I learned that if I use the game with future classes, I will have to explain ahead of time that we need to build up our teammates, not put them down.

After your students are successful with one behavior goal, you can always switch it to something else. It could be lining up quietly, walking through the halls appropriately, listening on the carpet, working quietly during independent time... basically whatever your kiddos are struggling with could be your Good Behavior Game goal. I think switching it up will keep the kiddos motivated to keep up their good behavior. I know I'm only three days in, but I'm so happy with the success we've had so far!

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Keeping Up with the Joneses

Hi everyone. Sorry about the hiatus.

I'm going to be honest. Aside from being crazy busy at school, I've kind of been in a teacher-blogging-funk. I log into Blogger every day, see all of the other wonderful blogs that I follow, and I'm feeling a little intimidated. It seems as though most of them are promoting some kind of unit they've made for TpT or a TpT sale or a fill-in-the-blank follower giveaway, and I'm not really doing any of that. I have a teeny, tiny TpT store, but my creations aren't nearly as cute or put-together as everyone else's. I'm not really looking for pity or sympathy; I'm just being honest. I know I'm a great teacher and I work hard, so it's not a self confidence issue (clearly, LOL). I'm just feeling all this pressure to "keep up with the Joneses," but that's really not my style. I just hope that I'm giving back to the teaching community as much as everyone else is giving to me.

What I have been working on (after all my school work and house work, and spending time with my family...you know, all that free time we teachers have) is a little hat making business for kids. I love to crochet and I first got into hat making last spring. I had several friends ask me to make them hats, and with lots of encouragement from the hubs, I started up Baby Ella Millinery.
I'd love for you to visit my FB page HERE

And I promise to get back into the school blogging business soon! Have a great night!
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