Happy Friday, pretty people! I don't know about you, but I'm exhausted! This week simultaneously went fast AND took forever!!

This week we've been working on the reading comprehension strategy, Visualizing. Visualizing is when the reader creates a picture/movie in his/her mind in order to better understand the story. I love teaching visualizing because we get to draw pictures!

First we read the book Do Not Open.
Visualize this: There is an old lady who lives by the ocean, and after a storm she likes to go out and collect the things that wash up on the beach and put them in her wheelbarrow. One day after a big storm, she finds a beautiful, purple glass bottle. Etched on the side of the bottle are the words: Do Not Open. A childlike voice asks, "What do you want more than anything in the world?" The old lady realizes the voice is coming from inside the bottle, and she can't bear to hear a child so sad. Should she open it? (This is when I stop showing the illustrations) Well she does, and out billows a black smoke and a scary, scary monster. 
Scary, right? I stopped reading the story before the monster turns into a mouse, and sent the students off to draw what they visualized. Later I reread the story and showed the pictures, and it was so cute to hear the bunnies compare their drawing to the illustrations.

So the next day we read The Napping House.

Who doesn't love this book? This time I showed no pictures and stopped just before the everyone started waking up. Here are a few drawings:

So cute!

Next week we'll wrap up visualizing. I don't spend a ton of time on this strategy because they hit it hard in Kindergarten and first grade. We'll watch the Into the Book video for this strategy.

I LOVE Into the Book! I love it so much I secretly want to be Mrs. Pingel. Oops. Not a secret anymore... And her Wisconsin accent is AWESOME! The kids love her too. They even sing along with the theme song... so cute! There is a fantastic FREE student section of the Into the Book website!!

Well, that's all folks! Happy weekend! :)


Expanding Vocabulary: Up, Up, and AWAY! {and a giveaway!}

The "E" on the CAFE board stands for Expanding Vocabulary, and I always feel like this is the area where I struggle the most. It's just easier to focus on comprehension and accuracy. Today's strategy was "Tune into Interesting Words," so here's what I did.

I got a balloon.
I said, "My baby girl is almost one year old. She can say three words: Mama, hi and her name. She doesn't have a big vocabulary because she's just learning how to talk. Her vocabulary is like this balloon. Empty."

Then I blew one breath of air into the balloon.
I said, "My son is three years old. He has a bigger vocabulary than the baby. His vocabulary has expanded as he's gotten older."

Then I blew another breath into the balloon.
"This balloon is like you. You have an even larger vocabulary than a three year old. Do you think you can expand it even more?"

I blew another breath into the balloon.
"Raise your hand if you have an older brother or sister. I bet they have an even larger vocabulary than you do. As you get older, your vocabulary grows and grows."

I blew a few more breaths into the balloon so it was all blown up.
"This balloon is like a grown up's vocabulary. Your goal is to expand your vocabulary so that your balloon is blown all the way up like this one, or even bigger, like a hot air balloon! How do you think you can expand your vocabulary?"

By reading books of course! I shared the first few pages of the book Tulip Sees America.
It's a cute book about a man and his dog, Tulip, who travel across the US. I usually use this book during Writer's Workshop to illustrate zooming in on a single idea, but it also has great word choice! As I read the book, I told my students to put two hands on their head when they heard a new and interesting word. Two words we found were homebody and serene. Awesome words, right?

OK, so now it was the kids' turns. During Read to Self, their job was to tune into new and interesting words. I gave each of them 3-4 sticky notes, and they wrote down words that they found. When Read to Self was over, I collected everyone's sticky notes and picked out a few words that I thought the kids would enjoy: levees, siesta, loon, and panoramic. Of course, some of the words I got weren't new or interesting, so I was able to sift those out. In keeping with the balloon theme, I made paper hot air balloons to write the new words we find in our reading. We will add more balloons as the year goes on.
I can't take credit for the balloon analogy at all... My awesome teammate Megan came up with this fab idea and shared it with me. I'm trying to convince her to write some posts for my blog, but she keeps dragging her feet. If you could leave her some words of encouragement in the comments section, that would be great. Because I KNOW YOU'RE READING THIS, MEGAN!! :)


Linky Party: Halloween Books

Linking up with Chrissy at First Grade Found Me to share some of my favorite Halloween-ish books:
Several years ago I had a student who didn't celebrate Halloween. We also don't do a Halloween dress up day at my school anymore, and ever since then, I've kinda shied away from Halloween books. I guess I just don't want to offend anyone. I decided to link up anyway, because one of my all-time favorite books is Halloween-ish:
This book is about three friends who make pumpkin soup together, and each has a special job for making the soup... until one day Duck decides he wants to stir the soup instead of Squirrel. Cat and Squirrel tell him no, and he becomes upset and leaves the house. Cat and Squirrel soon find out that they need Duck to help make the soup and want him to come back. It's a good story that teaches friendship, working together, compromise, and sharing. And the illustrations are super cute too!

Who doesn't love the Old Lady?

A classic!

And one more for ya!
My 3 year old son L.O.V.E.S this book!!! A little young for second graders, but we read this book at home all. the. time! Even in April...

What are some of your favorite Halloween books?


Organizing Student Work

Confession Time: I'm not really the most organized person. Remember those Beginning of the Year Photos I posted here? Pretty sure my room will NEVER look like that again. Well, at least until next August. Disclaimer: I do know where everything is though! Anyway, when I first started at  my school, one of the supplies I was given was a wire basket. I decided to use it as a place for students to turn in their work. It soon turned into this:

It was awful. At the time I was doing centers during my guided reading block, so I would get at least one worksheet from each student every day, plus various other worksheets, tests, stories for conferences, published stories and more. I didn't always check in center work every day, so it would pile up, and when I wanted to grade spelling tests (for example), I had to dig through all the other stuff to find what I needed. I am also the type who gets intimidated by lots of papers to grade/check off, so as the basket got fuller and fuller, my motivation to empty it got smaller and smaller...

Enter the 4 compartment paper sorter. I seriously love this thing. I love it so much that I bought two! LOL! I use one for organizing student work and one for organizing homework. Here's a a picture of my student work sorter:
My compartments are labeled Math, Spelling, Reading Stations, and Stories for Conference. Now when I want to grade spelling tests (yes I know I haven't graded last week's yet, but cut me some slack!), I can just grab those and leave the Word Work worksheet my students did in there and check them off when I can get to it. I still use the basket (it's on top of the sorter). It's the catch-all when something doesn't fall into one of the cubby categories, or if something is too big to fit into the cubby. I also have my kids sort their homework which is SO NICE! Now I don't have to separate the reading calendars from the Home Links from the spelling contracts. And it's really not that hard or time consuming for the students to do either.

How do you organize student work?


Writer's Workshop: Week 1 +FREEBIE!

Well, we are 14 days in, and I FINALLY started Writer's Workshop on Wednesday. I kinda feel like a slacker, because usually by this point, we have gone over all the steps of the writing process and we are mostly independent. Not this year...

This year, I just didn't feel like they were ready. I can't really put my finger on why I felt this way, but I envisioned Writer's Workshop being a disaster of epic proportions. I couldn't wait forever though. First I set up their writing folders. Here are a few of the inserts I put in:
 Every time I have a conference with a student, I fill out this form. It's hard to see, but there's a box for the date and title of the writing piece, then I write one positive thing and one thing they can work on for next time.

 A couple graphic organizers I use for keeping track of ideas to write about. See below for a better copy and link to pick up your own copy!

 The steps of the writing process.

 A few reminders for when it's time to edit.

 I found these online several years ago, and I don't remember where they're from :( There's one for each of the 6 Traits in their folders.

I decided to start with two days of idea generation. I do NOT want to hear the classic line, "I don't know what to write about!" We talked about how good writers look into a watermelon story and pick out the seeds. Here's a graphic organizer I made to help students take a big topic and zoom in. Click on the pic to snag your own FREE copy!

I also made a SMARTBoard lesson for this. Can I upload SMARTBoard lessons into Google Docs or TpT? I don't know! If you want it, leave me a comment with your email address and I'll send it to you :)

OK, so the next day we did more brainstorming. I downloaded Sara's AWESOME "What Do I Write About" graphic organizers found here:

Next was the scary part... actually writing a story. This year instead of giving the bunnies blank pieces of writing paper, I decided to try out Stop Light Writing. I cut out green and yellow strips of paper, and modeled how to write a story. Instead of doing a red strip for the last sentence, I did another green to reinforce that the ending sentence is just restating the topic sentence. I put a checkered flag at the end and said it was a "race to the finish!" When they were done writing, I gave them a piece of white construction paper to glue the strips on, and they could draw a picture on whatever white space was left. Added Bonus: They could rearrange their sentences! We're still working on them, but here are a couple:

I HAD to share the one about the student going to the Admirals game (a minor league hockey team in Milwaukee) even though it's not done. It made me smile.

I am loving the Stop Light Writing, and we'll do it a few more times before I give them the actual writing paper. I've also seen it where students write the sentences with a green, yellow, or red marker, but then what do you do if they need to erase? Colored pencils maybe?

Anyone else out there do Stop Light Writing? Tell me your tips and tricks!


Building Stamina

We're 8 days in and up to 10 minutes for Read to Self. Being that this is my fourth year using Daily 5/Cafe in my classroom (as well as K-6 school-wide), this is par for the course. I don't have to spend a ton of time going over expectations for Read to Self because they've done it the past two years, which is SO nice!

This year I did something different though. My class this year is very visual, more so than in years past. They also seem to be a competitive bunch... liking to be "challenged" to do something. My lesson on stamina was always a one-and-done, but with a group that needs frequent reminders and practice, I knew that wouldn't cut it. I was inspired by this and this to create these:
I wish I could do more than 15 minutes for Read to Self, but I only have 75 minutes for Daily 5. Once we have Word Work and Listening down pat, I plan on introducing a new way to do Writing. I am super pumped about that, but it will cut into my time even more. However, seeing and discussing these anchor charts on a daily basis is really motivating and keeping the bunnies focused. I'm going to keep riding this wave as long as I can!

Oh, and I'm TOTALLY changing my lesson plans and doing THIS tomorrow! I seriously love you bloggy world! What would I do without you guys???


The 5 Color Rule

Quality, not quantity.

Raise your hand if you have ever had a kiddo rush through a coloring project. It seems like it's getting worse and worse every year, doesn't it? Especially now with Common Core, we hardly do any cutesy art projects anymore. So when I give you the chance to color... BUNNIES, SEIZE THE OPPORTUNITY!! Instead they scribble on the paper a few times and announce, "I'm done!" Ummm... no you're not. OK, hands down now.

Enter The 5 Color Rule. 

The 5 Color Rule states that students must use at least five colors in all their drawings. The purpose is not so that drawings are pretty and colorful (although they do end up this way). I want my students to take their time and produce quality work. Nothing is more disheartening to me when a student sloppily scribbles on something that I intended to be a keepsake for another student or themselves. An added benefit is students understanding the term "at least." I can usually take a quick glance at a drawing to see if the kiddo has used at least 5 colors. Now I see more pride when students show me their work before turning it in. I love it too when they point out and count the colors. Sometimes a kiddo will come up to me and say, "Look! I used NINE colors!" YAY YOU!! :)

My poster is super simple to make. I took one sheet of every color card stock I could find (thanks, teammie Megan!), die cut circles and randomly glued them on. This poster hangs on my front board. While I still have a few who race to be the first one finished, The 5 Color Rule is definitely helping my students slow down and take more care when coloring something.

Narrative Writing FREEBIE!

Next week I'll be starting my Writer's Workshop! We start by going step-by-step through the writing process. My students begin with the narrative genre, and I love using this graphic organizer to help them plan out their stories!
This is actually part of my Writing Graphic Organizers freebie pack in my TpT shop. Check it out HERE

Enjoy the rest of the weekend! I don't know about you, but I plan on planting myself on the couch and watching some football! Lesson plans done, dinner's in the crock pot (thanks Pinterest!)... life is good! GO PACK GO!! :)

Student Goal Setting + GIVEAWAY!!

Most of my bulletin boards aren't quite done yet... I put up anchor charts and other visuals that my students and I create together, so they're still a work-in-progress. One of my whiteboards is 2/3 CAFE menu and 1/3 was empty. I wasn't sure what to do with the empty space. Until now.

My school does components of Responsive Classroom (The Morning Meeting Book and The First Six Weeks of School), and one of the activities in The First Six Weeks of School is to have the kids write down their hopes and dreams for the school year. I've always done it, but I never liked how they were called "hopes and dreams." For my friends who grew up in the late 80s/early 90s like me, the words "hopes and dreams" always make me think of that episode of Saved by the Bell where they were playing basketball and Mr. Belding yells, "Shoot your hopes and dreams!" and they lose the game! LOL!

I always state, write on the board, and interact with the goal(s) of my lesson, so I knew the term "goal" would be familiar to my students. Let's call them goals instead, shall we? When I think about goals, I think about hockey. Have I mentioned that I am an ice hockey player? Well I am. So I made a giant hockey net and used pre-cut letters to spell the word "GOOOAL" on top. We read a super cute book called Paulie Pastrami Achieves World Peace (thanks Megan and Carmen for the hook up!), and then talked about how Paulie set a goal and worked to achieve it. He was a hockey player in the book too, so that was a great segue into the next activity. We brainstormed a list of learning goals and behavior/friendship goals for second grade. Each student got two hockey pucks, and they needed to set one learning goal and one behavior/friendship goal. If I had more space, I probably would have separated the behavior/friendship goal. Here's how it turned out!
I am seriously LOVING this!! I wish I could have somehow made a net in the background... if you have any suggestions, leave me a comment! If you're not a crazy hockey fan like me, you could do soccer instead? My teammates did the same activity but used cupcakes (also in the book). Then they watched the Will.I.Am Sesame Street song and said it was a great way to conclude the lesson. I didn't have time today, but I think I'm going to show it tomorrow.

Tomorrow's Friday! YAY!! I am so exhausted!!

Amazing Giveaway!

Head on over to Tori's Teacher Tips for her awesome 400-follower giveaway!

I hope I win! And if I don't, then I hope you win :)



Today was the first day of school and I. Am. EXHAUSTED! I have 21 little bunnies this year, and I already know they will be a great group! Don't get me wrong; I think I already figured out who is going to push the boundaries and who is going to need a little extra TLC from me, but deep down, I can tell that every single one of them has a good heart. And that always makes a world of difference. I'll take the challenging student with a good heart any day over the good one with an "I don't care" attitude.

Anyway. Have you ever taught a lesson where you can totally feel that Teachable Moment taking over and really hitting home? I'm sure you all have. That happened to me today. And when my principal was in the room! BONUS!!

I wanted to read the book Chrysanthemum. I'm pretty sure everyone and their uncle reads this book in the first week of school. Or at least in my school we do! Knowing that my students have probably heard the book before, I wanted to add a little something to the lesson. I found this on Pinterest a few weeks ago and decided to merge the two.

I used the die cut machine to cut out a bunch of paper hearts and gave each student a heart. Before I read the book, we talked about being kind (one of our classroom/school rules), and how mean words and name calling hurts people's hearts. I said that for every time they heard somebody saying or doing something mean to Chrysanthemum, they need to add a wrinkle or a tear to the heart. 

It was so cute to hear all the crinkles and ripping sounds while I was reading... and to hear some kids following along when they heard their classmates. Guess who the kiddos were that had the super wrinkled/torn hearts? Yep, the ones who needed this lesson the most! Here's how some of their hearts turned out:

So after we read the story, we talked about how they all became friends in the end... except, look at your heart. "It's still wrinkly and torn, isn't it? OK, now I need you to fix it. Make it look exactly like new." They just stared at me like I was crazy. "Umm... Mrs. Nerby? It's ripped. I can't fix it." Some asked for staples and tape. I said no. The new one didn't have staples or tape; theirs can't either. Then we had a great discussion about how, even though everyone made up and they're all friends again, Chrysanthemum still has wrinkles in her heart. How words leave long-lasting impressions. This activity was super easy, and the visual of the wrinkled heart made an abstract concept more concrete. I am going to make a giant heart and write the poem from the pin and use it as a follow up lesson tomorrow.

OK Pretty People... I am ONE follower away from 50! And I have an awesome giveaway in mind! So help me out with that last person and MAKE IT HAPPEN!! Have a great night! :)


Classroom Reveal... FINALLY!!

Seriously. Took me FOREVER to finish my classroom. And if I went back tomorrow, I could still find something to work on. Let's go on a little tour, shall we?

WARNING: Picture overload!
Welcome to my classroom! This was the inspiration for the name of my blog :)
Here is the mailbox area, paper storage, and where kids turn in their homework.
 Horse shoe table with all of my guided reading and running records supplies close at hand.
 File cabinets. I store copies above. I also am putting the big pillows over here this year. I love how they're out of the way!
 This will be the Word Work table. My birthday board is above, and in the space where the phone should be (I need to find a smaller cord so I can attach it back to the wall...), I will hang my Parts of Speech posters once I teach them.
The big hippos supervise from above the wardrobe cabinet :)
 I have one student computer in my classroom for kiddos who need a little more supervision. There are 25 others in the break out, right outside my classroom.
 Cafe Board, more pillow storage, clipboards, and vocab binders.
 Word Wall, work tables, job chart, and an open space for the Morning Message
Carpet area. I LOVE my "Big Brown Chair." Got it at Good Will for $10 (my mom talked them down LOL). I love how low it is to the ground. I feel like I'm still at the kiddos' level, even though I'm sitting in a chair. It can be a little tricky to get out of though...
Calendar and Morning Meeting area
 Leveled book bins. Notice the empty shelves. This is where I store students' Book Boxes for Read to Self. Where are the book boxes, you ask? I have no clue!! I ordered new ones with school money, but the order never came! I'm kind of freaking out!!
 Books arranged by genre, topic, theme, series... This is also where most of my hippo collection resides. I was working on new hippo book basket labels for an hour and then Word totally froze up and I lost it all :( I'll get back on that when I stop feeling sorry for myself.
 My new bookshelf, argyled of course! This shelf has mostly chapter book series.
 Sink and pencil sharpening area. My mom made the curtain for me 8 years ago, which hides all the tissue boxes and plastic storage bags. I want to find some hippo fabric and redo it.
My desk. I am a firm believer in not having a huge desk area. More space for the kiddos. I got rid of my huge teacher desk 4 years ago because it was just a dumping ground for me.
My hippo figurines on my desk :)
Math manipulative storage in the bins, extra coloring supplies, scissors, glue, whiteboards on top. This table is used mostly during writing time for kids to have peer conferences.
 This cart has student paper in it... writing paper, recycled paper for drawings, graphic organizers for writer's workshop, spelling test/pretest papers... On top is where students turn in their work. They sort it for me, which I LOVE!
SMARTBoard.... squeee!!!!!
 Front board, all ready for Tuesday! Normally I list goals for each subject area, but it will be a day or two until that since we'll be establishing routines for most of the first week.

You probably noticed that the walls are very bare. That's because I like to hang up anchor charts once we've learned about the topic/skill. I learned that trick from going to a Sisters workshop a few years ago. I find it's more meaningful when you create it together and then hang it up.

Ready or not, here they come! GAME ON!

Check out Swimming into Second for more classroom inspiration!

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