Friday Freebie: Behavior Think Sheet

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and you're enjoying your winter break!

One skill that's super tough for kids (and even some grown ups...) is recognizing and dealing with their emotions. I have a space in my classroom where students can go if they need time to calm down, process, and reflect on their behavior. Typically, students will place themselves in my Take a Break spot, but sometimes I might ask students to take a few minutes to collect themselves. While a student is in this spot in my classroom, they complete one of these Think Sheets:
After the student is calm, focused, and ready to learn, the student can rejoin the class. Then I will wait until a break in class (usually recess time) to reflect again with the student about what happened.

There is a boy and a girl version in both color and black and white. Click on any of the images above to download a copy.

Friday Freebie: Thank-You Notes


I don't know how, but we did. I think this photo sums it all up...
We actually didn't have school today due to icy road conditions. Of all the days to have a "Snow Day;" I have 8 pounds of frosting in my fridge and a table full of graham crackers and candy, waiting to be turned into gingerbread houses. Not sure what I'm going to do... Gingerbread houses in January?

Anyway, every year I am so amazed by the gifts my students give me for Christmas. I always tell them that the best gift they can give me is their hard work, listening ears, and kindness they show to their classmates. But that doesn't stop many of them from getting me a little something. Look what I got last week:
OMG! The BEST PRESENT (for me) EVER!!!

Of course I write thank-you notes to the bunnies who give me presents, but I always have a hard time finding cards that I like. Everything that is Christmas/winter themed is usually geared more towards adults. Always in cursive and not cute at all. And the "cute" ones, in my opinion, are a little on the tacky side. So this year I decided to make my own thank-you notes! The first two pages would be folding cards; the last page would be if you wanted to do post card notes.

Click any of the images to download a copy.

I write my thank-you notes over Winter Break and then mail them to the kids. That way I know they make it home :) And what kid doesn't love getting mail?

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays! Enjoy your winter break!!


Friday Freebie: Letters to Santa

This month we've been focusing on letter writing. We are doing our own version of the Flat Stanley Project to practice letter writing and to support our geography unit in Social Studies.

We sing a song to help us remember the parts of a letter. I stole this song from my teammate, who I think found it somewhere on the Internet:
(sung to the tune of the Addams Family)

There are five parts to a letter
They're easy to remember:
Heading, Greeting, Body
Closing, Signature!
Parts of a letter!
(clap clap)
Parts of a letter!
(clap clap)
Parts of a letter,
Parts of a letter,
Parts of a letter!
(clap clap)

There are also hand motions we do with the song :)

Next week, to continue our letter writing extravaganza, here is a template to write a letter to Santa. "Santa?! I KNOW HIM!!!" I am super excited to be able to use some of the loot I picked up at the TPT Cyber Monday & Tuesday sale as well! Anyway, the template comes in color and black and white. Click on any image to download.



It's my blog, and I'll post twice in one day if I want to... :)

Wowsers! I can't believe it's December already!! What's freaking me out even more is that there are only 3 weeks until Winter Break! So much to do at school, so little time... We were pretty wired up for Thanksgiving, so I'm a little nervous about the Big Guy coming to town in 24 days. I may have to break down and get an Elf on the Shelf for my classroom.

Anyhoo... here's my Currently. Thanks to Farley for hosting every month :)
Listening: No Packers today (and no, I don't want to talk about the embarrassing game on Thanksgiving...), so the hubs is watching other teams today. I just found out it's the Bears vs. the Vikings. Do I have to cheer for a team? Can't I just cheer for the apocalypse?

Loving: I've been a little non-existent on the blog, but you can find me most days on Instagram. I LOVE all the support and encouraging words from my IG buddies! If you're on Instagram, you might want to follow me. Lots of people (including me) have been advertising flash freebies on IG only. Check it out!

Thinking: Who's pumped for the TPT sale tomorrow?? I just checked. I have 15 items in my cart, with about another 40 on my wish list. Oopsies...

Wanting: One more day off. Please? We had school Monday-Wednesday last week, so needless to say, I am a bit jealous of those of you who had the entire week off. 3 more weeks until Winter Break!!

Needing: To finish my report cards. They will go out to parents on Thursday. I am close to having all the grades put in, and then I get to do the comments. Oh joy... I know I write too much with comments, and I just can't bring myself to do canned comments. Yes I know I do this to myself. But as a parent, I want specific comments, so that's why I spend so much time on my students.

Christmas Tradition: We are usually all over the place from December 21-December 25th. Both sides of our family have extensive traditions that we must be a part of. But I staked my claim on Christmas morning for my own little family. We are home Christmas Eve night. My kids wake up in their own house and race downstairs to see what Santa brings! I make a special breakfast (usually baked french toast of some kind), and we hang out just the 4 of us. My kids are up at 6:00AM, so we can usually get to my parents' house by 10:00, which works out because my brother is usually still sleeping anyway!

OK, that's enough procrastination. Back to the report cards...

Sunday Morning Mussings

Hi everyone! Hope you had a happy Thanksgiving!

Just wanted to check in to share a few random nuggets :)

Remember that Mighty Math blog giveaway?
Your sweet comments really made my heart sing! The giveaway ended on Thanksgiving, so you're probably wondering who the winners are...

Drum roll please.....

Congrats to....

Chelsea and Samantha!!!!!!

I emailed you ladies last night :)

I also want to say thanks to all of you who read and follow my blog. I feel like I've let you down these past few months, but I promise that I will get back into the swing of things in December. Because not everyone could win the Mighty Math pack, I made this little ditty to share:
Click on it! IT'S FREE!!
We were learning about contractions last week, and the kiddos LOVE Scoot! It has a snowman theme because there's a really awesome Contractions video on Brain Pop Jr. Do you or your school have a subscription to Brain Pop Jr.? My kiddos LOVE Annie and Moby!!!

Soooo.... maybe you've heard that there's a little sale going on tomorrow and Tuesday at TPT? Well guess who has two thumbs and is participating? THIS GIRL!
Is your cart ready??? My cart overflow-eth. Shhh... don't tell the hubs :)

FINALLY DONE! Mighty Math for the WHOLE YEAR!!!

Stick a fork in me, I'M DONE! I feel this saying is especially fitting with Thanksgiving right around the corner! :)
If you're new to Mighty Math, click here or here to read more about it!

I have a love-hate relationship with Mighty Math.

Everything! It's a quick snapshot of every single 2nd grade CCSS. Most of my kids can whip these out in 15 minutes! Then I pull groups of kids for reteaching and extra practice for those who need it. I can catch mistakes along the way, rather than finding out at the end of the grading period that Johnny has no idea how to tell time. Here's a few pictures of my grade book... don't mind my chicken scratchings :)
I put a star in the box if they got it right and a check in the box if it's wrong. Usually I'll write a quick note about what the problem was or what went wrong. This Little Love clearly will need extra help when we get to our measuring unit. In the meantime, I am meeting with him (and others who struggle with this strand) for reteaching and practice.
With this grading sheet, I can easily tell where we need extra practice: time, money and graphing, anyone?
The cloud over my head to get these all done. I literally spent 12 hours yesterday (10AM-10PM) working on these to finish them up. My poor children... I even took the laptop with me to work in the car on the way to dinner!


Want to win the WHOLE SET?! I'll be giving away two!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Now that I'm done with these assessments, I'm not quite sure what to do with myself... LOL! Onto the next project, whatever it might be!


Interactive Notebooks: Literacy Edition... PART 1

It's a little known fact (I'm probably the only one who knows this) that I started this blog over a year ago to share my experiences with interactive notebooks. Last year I just used them in science, but this year, my team and I have expanded to social studies, reading, writing, and math. Yes, we went from one notebook to FIVE because they are just that engaging!

Just so we're all on the same page... 
My Definition of an Interactive Notebook:
A place where students can take information from the teacher and merge it with their own thinking. Most of my training has come from Jane Pollock, who has written many books, including the infamous Classroom Strategies that Work (yes friends, Marzano had help!) There are many ways to set up the notebooks. In my notebooks, I divide it into left side and right side. The left side is the "student side" and the right side is the "teacher side." On the right side, the students take down the new information they've received from the teacher, whether it be plain old notes or a handout, graphic organizer, foldable, etc. that are glued right into the notebook. On the left side is where the students use thinking strategies to "interact" with the new information. They record their thoughts about the information to demonstrate their understanding of what was learned.

I've been seeing a lot of interactive notebook products pop up on TPT lately, and they're not cheap. I'm sure they all have good points; but honestly, I really don't think you need a flashy song and dance to do interactive notebooks effectively. The key word is INTERACTIVE, and many of these products appear to be craftivities or cutesy art projects. Now, I have not purchased these products, so again, maybe there is some rigor and validity here, but from the previews and photos I've seen, I haven't seen much application of the content. I'm not trying to make sellers mad or take sales away from anyone. It's true that these products can be time savers, but I'm just trying to say that anyone can do this with some research and innovation.
Climbing off of Soap Box...

Today I want to share my literacy notebooks. I'll be honest; this notebook scared me the most. I think it's because there we have SO many literacy standards and objectives. How do you organize it all???

I use the Daily 5/CAFE programs in my classroom, so my first thought was to get a 3-subject notebook.  I came up with this plan last spring: the first subject would be an interactive notebook for CAFE strategies. Then the second subject we would use for Write about your Reading (instead of Work on Writing... long story. I'll explain in another post), and the third subject for Word Work.

I was all set to go with my *genius* plan, and then my teammie came up with an even better idea! We have 3 curriculum frameworks in my district: reading, writing, and phonics. Literally the day before I was set to start, she said, "What about giving each framework one of the sections in the notebook?" I was on board in a heartbeat! Now we kinda wish we would've asked the kids to bring a 5 subject notebook... Oh well. Next year!

Here's the notebook from the outside:
I know. Boring, right? You're supposed to have the kids decorate the cover so that they "buy into" the notebook. We just haven't gotten to that step yet.

Each subject of the notebook is labeled on the side. Read HERE about how I made my tabs durable :)

Subject 1: Reading
As I said above, we use CAFE to teach reading strategies. So on the first four pages, we're going to list the strategies as we learn them:
Haven't learned any Fluency strategies yet...
Or Expanding Vocabulary...
Then the rest of this section of the notebook is going to be a mish-mash of strategies. I was trying to figure out if I could group all of the comprehension strategies, accuracy strategies, etc., but the problem is that I don't know how many pages I will need for each strategy. So we will just put them in as we learn them. Here's the first one... well actually two: Check for Understanding and Back Up and Reread. I put them on the same page because they kind of go hand-in hand.

For these pages, we wrote the definitions of the strategies and then students drew pictures to help them remember what they mean. On the top, the girl is stopping {stop sign} and checking {check marks} for understanding, and at the bottom, the car is backing up. Imagine my whole class saying, "Beep! Beep! Beep!" like they're a truck backing up!

Next we learned about visualizing. I LOVE these pages!!

Let's take a closer look! Here's the info side:
I think most of it's self-explanatory, but I must tell you about the light bulb! They are sticky notes I bought from the dollar spot at Target this summer. I wasn't sure how I was going to use them, but then I came up with this. We will write the "big ideas" that I want students to remember about each strategy on the light bulb sticky notes.

Here's the right side... the application/thinking side:
On this side, we practiced visualizing. On to top, I reread a chapter from our read aloud book, The World According to Humphrey, when the dog comes after Humphrey the hamster. Then at the bottom we read Do Not Open and students visualized what the monster looked like to them. I did this last year {read about it HERE}, but I love how we can now do these activities in our notebooks and refer back to them.

We are currently learning about literary texts, story elements, and retelling; however, I forgot to snap pics of those pages. I'll add those later this weekend :)

Wow this post is getting long! I think I'll stop here and pop back in next week with the phonics and writing sections of my literacy notebook. Stay tuned!


Surviving Show and Tell

I loathe Show and Tell. Mostly because it goes something like this:

Johnny: This is my Lego rocket ship I built...
(Every single hand goes up)
Bobby: I have that rocket ship too!
Billy: So do I!
Katie: My rocket ship is bigger. It has 1,000 pieces!
Tommy: Well, mine has 3,000 pieces!!!
Sarah: I have a Lego doll house!!


I get that the audience is excited and they all have connections about the item(s) being shared, but come on! This isn't about you, bunnies! Here's my solution to this problem.

The sharer can take 3 questions or comments. The questions or comments must be related to the sharer and his/her item. So, let's go back to the rocket ship that Johnny shared. Kids could ask questions like, "How long did it take you to build it?" or "How many pieces does it have?" They can make comments, such as, "That's really cool!" or "I can tell you worked hard to build that." 

Now what about those kids who are just dying to tell about their rocket ship? They do this:
This is actually my 4-year-old li'l guy. I wasn't about to recreate Show and Tell just so I could snap a pic for you all LOL!
They take their thumbs and point to themselves. That signals to me that they have a connection to the item being shared, without saying a word. I will smile and nod at those kids, acknowledging that I now know they have a really cool rocket ship at home as well. I'm telling you, this works like a dream!!! This way the focus stays on the sharer, but the other kids don't feel "silenced" either.


FIVE for Friday!

I can't believe it's been this long since I've linked up. Going on two whole months!

This week I'm sharing five things that happened today... ON FRIDAY! :)

Blah. I am not a fan of Show and Tell. But our class earned 25 points for good behavior, and when that happens, they can choose a special reward. They chose Show and Tell.... cringe... I suppose it could've been worse (like when I was 38 weeks pregnant and the bunnies wanted to have a Hershey Kiss Hunt in the classroom, where I had to crawl around the room and hide Hershey Kisses. But I digress.).

Here are some of the highlights
A giant puffer fish.
No Show and Tell is complete without an American Girl doll.
This helicopter had a spinning propellor, lit up, and made noises! SO COOL!
And to round things off, we had some deer antlers. Lovely...
We go to the library every Friday for a check out. We could stay all day, I swear!
These boys were going crazy over this dinosaur book!
This little love was searching for a book on Sacagawea (sp?)
Doesn't she look so comfy??? I asked her if they made this dress in big girl sizes for me :)

On every early release day, the staff at my school have some sort of group lunch. Whether it's a pot-luck or we order out, it's always a great time! This time, we got Chinese. Here's my fortune:
I'm not quite sure what this fortune means, but it's kind of exciting!
My team and I all ordered these shirts! Here's 2/3 of our team. The other girl's doesn't fit anymore because she's preggo, so we made her our photographer. We'll try again for a full team photo in March :)
Pay NO attention to my awful hair. I don't even try to make it look pretty when the humidity is so high!


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