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Sunday, April 28, 2013

Instagram- #TeacherTalkTuesday

We are joining the party!

The Instagram party....

We (and by we I mean me b/c I'm not sure Kelly knows what Instagram is) are VERY new to this but we never want to miss a party. 

Here's our Instagram info below and we can't wait to Tuesday to share more!

Follow us using the username TheReadingBuddies

Here's our first post (is it called a post?) of our Earth Day activity. 
We look forward to sharing a glimpse of what's going on on Tuesday.



Saturday, April 27, 2013

Administrative Professional's Day

Hello all-

I was inspired to create this card for our school secretaries when I saw they on Pinterest.

All you need is some fun color post-it's and a file folder. Each student took a post-it and wrote a personalized note to each secretary. Using post-it's allowed each student to haw time to write something personal-instead of rushing to sign the card. (It also stopped us from making 20 separate cards). Best of all, it didn't take forever to complete.

The post-it's and file folder seemed appropriate for the secretaries. I added a cute saying (or cheesy pun depending on your viewpoint) and we were good to go.

Best kid post-it: "going to the office is usually a pleasant experience, thanks for that". Love it!

Check out the pictures below.


Sunday, April 21, 2013

Earth Day with the Lorax

This year, Kelly and I had to celebrate Earth Day a little bit early due to a poorly timed PD workshop for me.  

Our inspiration for this year's festivities came from two locations 
1. What we did last year
2. The fact that we had a scheduled early dismissal day

That meant scaling down a little bit, which is something that we don't do well.  Take a look at what we did last year here Earth Day-Last Year.

We started with a digital reading of The Lorax found on

Everyone was very engaged and could see the pictures when we project
the story on the SMART Board.

This was on Youtube and was a pretty good reading. 

After that we had our students work with their buddies to discuss what they thought happened after the little boy was given the final truffula seed.  After some pair and share time they shared their predictions with the whole group.  We then discussed that Universal Studios created a movie version of The Lorax and they had to ask themselves the same question.  We then watched the ending song of The Lorax the movie "Let it Grow" and talked about whether we agreed with the studio execs or not.  This video was also found on You can find it here Let it Grow-The Lorax the Movie.  It's really cute and very catchy! (read-it's still stuck in my head).

This is a picture of the SMART Board file we used for our next activity.  We had previously gotten together for Grinch Day in December and discussed all things The Grinch. (Check out previous Grinch Day post here: Grinch Day 2012)  The kids were given a graphic organizer where they were to discuss who they thought was the worse villain and provide support.  

We had some great answers such as:
-The Grinch because he did it on purpose where the Once-ler's actions were accidental. 
-The Once-ler because he can't fix what he did and the Grinch did.

My personal favorite from an adorable shaggy-haired second grader:
-The Once-ler because you can live without Christmas presents but you can not live without oxygen from the trees.  (LOVE HIM!)

This was a print out of the SMART Board file graphic organizer
If you looked at last year's Earth Day post you saw the Land of the Lorax that we made.  Adorable right!  Well this year Kelly saw an idea on Pinterest about make truffula tress out of pencils and we added that this year and it made a world of a difference!  They are SOOOOO much brighter and visually appealing than the colored version we made last year.
Working on decorating our cups

Prior to planting


How adorable are these.  The tissue paper truffula trees are absolutely adorable and add sooo much to the project.  The kids used markers to create the zig-zags around the pencil and crumpled tissue paper to make the tufts.  The cups were decorated with tissue paper in Earth colors and glue.  We planted grass seed and they now line the windowsill in my room and look FANTASTIC!  Everyone who walks into the room is absolutely in love with them.  

I am the Lorax, I speak for the trees!
Have a FANTASTIC Earth Day, buddies.
Damien and Kelly

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Literature Love Letters- An ELA Activity and a FREEBIE

Hello friends!

My kiddos and I have been working hard on analyzing characters. We have been using some GREAT novels for the skill:

-Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone: (this is our core novel-tier 1 that I use to model the skills to my kids)
-Holes: my mid level guided reading novel
-George Washington's Socks: low level guided reading novel
-Among the Hidden Series: challenge level guided reading novel

We have broken down character traits into three parts: 
1. Physical appearance 
2. Character traits
3. Background information

We have spent a great deal of time digging deeper in order to understand all our Hogwarts characters. One of the projects I did in class to give my students the opportunity to practice their skills, and prove mastery, is Literature Love Letters.

I introduce the project telling the students that we will be writing love letters. They groan and I love it. I tell them their love letters will have to include all of the character traits of the person they are writing to and provide some examples. (Think-Anthony, I love your long brown curls; Kaitlin I love how kind you are; etc). Then, because I have a certain flair for the dramatic, I tell the gang they will be writing letters to each other. They groan again and I love it more! I let this go one for a bit and then I tell them that they will be writing to any characters from the novels they are reading or have read this year. Now the excitement, and relief, kicks in.

Here is a sample of the product available on my TPT store

The activity I am sharing today includes brainstorming pages, heart shape paper for your final copy, and a VERY simple template to trace the shoulders and head of the character. The students will write a love letter to their chosen character expressing all their character traits. They have fun choosing evil characters and writing about how they LOVE their evil ways. I also encourage the kids to sign the love letters "yours truly" or "your secret admirer" so that they feel comfortable writing to whomever and whatever they want.

Here are some of this years Literature Love Letters:
Letter in progress...
A love letter to Voldemort and Hermione

Dumbledore, King Flint Sky God (From The Well of Sacrifice), and Stanley Yelnats (from Holes)

Peeves, Voldemort, and Hermione from the Harry Potter Series
The Warden (of Holes fame)
Ron Weasley and Prof. Flitwick
The display outside the classroom

Check out my project at my TPT store HERE. I will happily send a freebie to the first three followers who comment below telling me who they would write their literature love letter to. Don't forget to include your email in the post so I can send the file to you.

Your buddy,

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

England Update

Hello friends. As I write this post I am on the 6th hour of my flight home from a FANTASTIC Spring Break in England full of Windsor Castle, Harry Potter Studios, punting on the River Cam, and so much more! Hour 6 of my 8 hour plane ride. So far I have already watched:

The Quartet (cute and starring my favorite Hogwarts professor Maggie Smith AND Michael Gambon aka Dumbledore),

The Perks of Being a Wallflower (dark but good and in HP news starring Emma Watson aka Hermione),

And am now on the second hour of Les Miserables (good and worth watching as I love the songs and story...and Anne Hathaway. Coincidentally starring another HP favorite- the very evil Bellatrix LeStrange aka Helena Bonham Carter).


Now, when traveling time zones can be tricky. When I booked my excursion we had Monday, the 1st off for Spring Break, then Hurricane Sandy hit. We lost that Monday to make up a day we lost due to the weather and lack of power. I will be landing in good ole NJ at 9:30 which doesn't sound bad when you think of the time through customs and travel from the airport I should be home and in bed at 11:00. Except it will be 4:00 AM London time-which is where I woke up this morning at 9:30 and have been up since. It also doesn't help that England experienced daylight savings time yesterday while I was there (another lost hour beyond the hour lost in "The States"). All of this basically means...

I have NO IDEA how I am going to feel tomorrow at 8:45AM when my lovelies, having returned from break a day earlier and had a sub, are waiting for me to "do my thing". Add to the that the fact that I have a 2 hour meeting after school for a Math Pilot Committee Meeting (my co-teacher and I will be piloting a new Math program next year).

All and all I envision a rough week ahead but the vacation was SOOOOOOOOO worth it!

Hope your week is off to a good start!
Your buddy,