Monday, October 16, 2017

Series Book Reports

I love my librarian...I mean seriously LOVE her. I don't know how my class or even our school would function without her. I can send her an e-mail first thing in the morning requesting books and she will have a cart (yes a whole cart) of books pulled for me on a specific topic by that afternoon. If she doesn't have the books in our library she requests them from other schools and is always willing to do this.

So, now that I have professed my love for our school librarian I want to share a book report that she so graciously helped the 3rd grade teachers come up with last year. Last year was my first year in 3rd grade and coming from 5th grade I was used to book reports. When I brought this idea up to my team to use with 3rd grade they were happy to give it a try. The only bad thing was we had to come up with all new book reports (I couldn't steal from 5th grade) and make sure they were age appropriate. Now this is where my amazing librarian comes in. She expressed an interest in helping us come up with ideas, teach lessons, and help out in any way possible. After a few conversations and a little time to think on it she came to me with a fabulous idea...reading a book in a series. There are seriously a million different series books (and with a wide range of reading abilities) and she thought if we could get the kids interested in a specific series it would get them to read more of those books and possibly share their favorites with their classmates. I of course LOVED the idea...especially being an avid fan of series books myself.

We have done this project for the last 2 years and it has been very successful. The kids love reading the books and I always have a handful of kids who "can't wait" to read the rest of the books in the series!!

The first thing we have the kids do is read their book at home. After reading the book they write a letter to our librarian. (And here we insert our friendly letter lesson) In the letter they write 3 paragraphs. Paragraph 1 is a summary of their book (again...summary lesson inserted here) paragraph 2 is their opinion of the book, whether they liked it or not and specific reasons why, and finally paragraph 3 they have to tell the librarian whether or not they think she should order more books in this series. (one of the lessons she does with the kids teaches them to search for books in that series on our library catalog...and then she teaches them to look up all the books that are in the series on THIS webpage)

This book report is done MOSTLY at school (since we do it at the beginning of the year it gives us a chance to set expectations and see their abilities), however they do one part at home. I send home a book cover (printed on cardstock) where they redesign the cover of the book. On the cover of the book I ask them to include a quote that summarizes their book or makes others want to read the book. These book covers then become our big bulletin board display for conference week.

I have included some examples of the covers my kids did this year:

This one has my favorite quote...and it totally fits the kiddo who did it:
Here is our third grade bulletin board display:
If you would like a copy of the rubric/directions and book cover template I use you can get them here:

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Fact Fluency: Multiplication

In my 9 years of teaching I have taught 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade...and every year my kids seem to struggle with the same things...their multiplication facts.

Never mind you that they learn them in 3rd grade and they are DRILLED into their heads...when they come to 4th grade it's like they have never seen them before. So, in 4th grade...we review them, drill them, and use them constantly...but then what happens when they get to 5th grade you ask? 


Now, I don't want to generalize too much, because like usual there are always exceptions...those kids that learn them in 3rd grade and are multiplication masters for the rest of their schooling. The biggest difference between those multiplication masters and the ones that forget is that the multiplication masters continue to practice and keep those facts fresh in their mind.

Unfortunately, you can only encourage kids to practice over the summer. I do this by giving my kids tons of fun websites that they can use to practice...because computers/iPads > all other school work :)

A few of my favorites are:

And since it's inevitable that kids aren't going to practice over the summer I also created several fun little multiplication fact practice activities that can easily be used in math centers/small groups or as a whole class for review. 

If you would like a copy of all 5 activities click on the image below and check it out at my TPT store. For the next 4 days you can get the Multiplication Fun bundle for 20% off!

You can use these games at the beginning of the year to review...or send some of them home and cross your fingers the kids practice them-The Math Sticks game is really you never know :) 

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

End of the Year {FREEBIE}

Since I have been on maternity leave, my "vacation" technically started on March all my non-teacher friends have been extra jealous...except for when they hear about how much sleep I am getting #OrNotGetting #TeamNoSleep

Since little man was born so close to the end of the year I not only get to stay home with him for the 7 weeks that I took leave, but I get all of my summer about perfect timing! 

While I am so grateful to get 19 weeks with my little guy, I was sad that I missed out on all the fun end of the year activities...and while the end of the year is always CRAZY.CRAZY.CRAZY...there is just something so special about those last few days with the people you have spent a large part of each day with for the last 9 months. 

Although fun, the end of the year can be EXHAUSTING! There is always so much going on, so many projects being wrapped up, and lots of little chunks of time that you aren't sure what to do with. 

Well you are in luck...a few years ago I was in that "what do I do with these people?!" I created a quick and easy writing project that would allow my kids the opportunity to reflect on their school year and get them (and me!) a much needed brain break (is coloring a brain break for anyone else?)

I am offering this item up FO FREE in my TPT store! If you are counting down the days until the end of the school year and need a quick and easy filler activity this is the perfect solution...and if you are already on summer break grab this while it's free and use it next year!

It's really a no lose situation because it's free...

Did I mention that it's free? ;)
Click on the picture to download

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Where do I begin?

When one starts a blog I think the hardest part is figuring out where to begin.

What do you write? How do you create a post that is meaningful enough to be the FIRST post...the post that is welcoming you to the wonderful world of blogging.

The least in my you don't.

You see, I have been blogging for years...6 to be exact, and I often find myself paralyzed and unable to write...or in the worst case scenarios writing a whole post and then deleting it because "it sounds stupid" or "it's not good enough"

And I am here to tell you...that will not be the case this time around for me. This time around blogging is not going to be about creating's about creating a space that inspires me (and hopefully others) to be the best teacher I can be. 

You see...I had a baby 8 weeks ago and life has changed completely. I have been living in the bliss that is maternity leave, and the the thought of returning to the classroom this fall and leaving my sweet boy is tearing me apart. I have cried at least a dozen times and I still have over 2 months left before I have to go back. #DramaQueen

I have spent the last 8 weeks trying to figure out how to make the transition to working mom and easier one...and I think this blog is exactly what I need. 

I'm not exactly sure where this blog will take me...I'm going into it with no expectations or plans. The only thing I know is I want to inspire and be inspired...and what better place to do that than the teacher blogging community :) 

**Also, I think it's important that you know I really wanted to delete this post and start again...but the new and improved me is forcing myself to keep it. It's not perfect...but neither am I...nor do I want to be. I have a sweet little boy who is about to wake up from his nap and instead of stressing over the "perfect" blog post I am going to hit publish and walk away and enjoy some snuggles!