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Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Awesome Chapter Book

Last year I was moved from first to second grade and searched all over for interesting 2nd grade chapter books.  The only books I fell in love with that I knew would hook both boys and girls were the Franny K. Stein books by Jim Benton.
These chapter books are perfect for second grade because the chapters are short, there are pictures on every page and the vocabulary is fantastic!  It is the perfect first chapter book to hook your class into loving reading. I chose to use this book as a read aloud and modeled how to think while reading.  My class begged me to read the other books in the series and I did read two more.  The librarian of our local library called me and asked what's going on in your classroom?  I have had more requests for Franny K. books than any other books in the library and all the kids are from your class!!  Best phone call all year.
The very first book of the series, Franny K. Stein Mad Scientis Lunch Walks Among Us is about friendship and accepting those who are different. So it is perfect for September or anytime you want to teach about the author's message.  This year I made a product to go with this fabulous book. Below is the craft that is included.
 The product is designed to be used as a packet but the pages can be handed out after you read each chapter.  The skill being modeled and taught through each chapter is "how to think".  Most second graders can read but do they know how to think about the words?  Below is the cover to the listen and respond packet.
To check out my latest creation head on over to my TPT store  .  Since I am so excited about this book I am giving this packet away to the first two people who leave a comment!  Don't forget to leave your email address.
Happy Teaching,

Sunday, July 21, 2013

R.I.P. Reading

It is with a heavy heart that I announce the death of Reading. Reading was murdered in a small suburban town earlier this week. Teachers on the scene tried their best to save Reading but their cries for help and efforts were unsuccessful.  The police are currently questioning two suspects; the Basal Reader and the Common Core. 

Reading lived a long life and its passing has left many saddened. "But I loved reading novels and having my teacher read novels to me.  It makes me very sad that others won't be able to experience that joy and will only read crummy textbook stories and nonfiction articles," stated Thomas, a ten year old boy. Reading faced many great obstacles in its life, beginning with its birth and the idea that only the wealthy needed to learn to live with Reading. In the past few years Reading hit an all time high with the birth of the Harry Potter series. Every child in the world was enthralled in the magic of Reading and for the first time in years, Reading was popular among children and adults. The world celebrated Reading. 

With the introduction of the Common Core Reading began to worry and become ill.  "Will there be time for me in a normal school day?" He often lamented.  Teachers shared these concerns and vowed to make time for Reading for the sake of their students. Both parties became increasingly concerned when talk of Basal Readers increased and the need for them to replace REAL Reading in order to pass high stakes tests. Many people attempted to provide the life support measures that Reading required but were unsuccessful in doing so. Reading will be sorely missed. 

Services for Reading will be held in classrooms across the nation this coming September.  

*This entry was born from a night out with a few teacher friends as our district begins to implement portions of a basal reading program. It certainly meets my bizarre sense of humor, and hopefully yours. 

The Reading Buddies 

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Summer Teaching, Having a Blast!

Okay, maybe not a blast-but I don't want to claw my eyes out-yet!

My district runs a summer program both for enrichment and for remedial students. The remedial program runs for 2 hours four days a week. Then students, anyone in the district, has the opportunity to attend an hour and a half enrichment program. I am teaching both and have been for about four years-eventually you lose count. 

I spend my days teaching two sessions of remedial classes (one fourth grade class of 12 and one fifth grade class of 7).  I am sharing a class with one of my teacher BFFs and the gal responsible for my entire Math philosophy. She is a math wizard and the greatest Math teacher I have ever met. Needless to say, she is teaching Math while I am teaching Reading. The class is full of struggling students, but with the small group it's not so bad. The early mornings, after late summer evenings on the other hand are not so grand!  

From remedial reading, I have a different enrichment for a different grade level each week. Week #1 had me teaching Writing through Picture Books to first graders. I only had 8 kids in the class and loved the change of teaching the little guys. We did a theme end activity and writing each day. 

Day #1:

We read The Ice Cream King and wrote about our love of ice cream and who we like to share it with. Then we used water color paint swirls as our ice cream scoops and made some cones. I ended with a Brainpop Jr video on how heat melts things like ice cream. 

Day #2:

We read one of my favorite picture books When a Dragon Moves In. We made our own creatures who moved into our own sandcastle. Think mermaids, dinosaurs, monster, etc.  The kids drew and colored their character and we made our own paper sand castles and mounted them on our water color beach. The writing task included what we would do with our new friend when it moved in.  The kids LOVED painting with the water colors so I made sure to incorporate that into each day. OOPS! didn't take any pictures that day....

Day #3:

Or third day was inspired by my buddy Kelly.  We read a nonfiction book about sea turtles and wrote a nonfiction essay about the sea creature. We used paper plates painted with water colors as the shells and used a stencil to create the rest of the turtles. A little nonfiction goes a long way.  

All our nonfiction data

Day #4:

We read the greatest new picture book I've ever found. The Day the Crayons Quit is hysterical. It had my younger brother and I literally laughing out old in Barnes and Nobles. With this book we examined the components of a friendly letter and wrote letters to ourselves from one of our crayons. These letter were hysterical!  Then, because they were dying to paint again I had them paint pictures using only the color crayon that they chose. These were funny and again, me with no camera!

Overall it was a good week. Week #2 has me teaching my remedial classes and Math through Games to first graders. 

Stay tuned for the next episode of Adventures of a Summer School Teacher. 

The enemy has arrived...

And thy name is Journeys!


Monday, July 15, 2013

Harry Potter Day-AKA The Last Days of School part 2

On the last day of school, quite an emotional one for me, I decided we would spend the day having some fun and saving the tears for the end of the day. 

I saw a great idea on Pinterest about a mother who made her own Harry Potter robes for her son's birthday party using men's extra large t-shirts that she spliced up the front. Simple! Easy! Adorable! Perfect! 

Wands at the ready in our Hogwarts robes
I made the robes for my class (after their parents sent in the shirts) and a Harry Potter day was born. I made buttons for the students to wear denoting their assigned houses. Add the wands that they had earned from their magical behavior and we certainly looked the part, now what to do?  

We started the day by watching an interview with the HeadMistress JK Rowling herself. She is one of my top three ALL TIME idols. She is truly amazing and the video was GREAT!  The kids loved it as well totally drinking the JK Rowling Kool-aid. 

Then we held and Harry Potter Jeopardy game. I have a template to make my SMARTBoard look like the Jeopardy board and loaded it with questions about the two Potter novels we read this year-Sorcerer's Stone and Chamber of Secrets. It was quite a competition and a really enjoyable activity.  

Lastly, we made our own Golden Snitches (and frazzled-last day of school me didn't take any pictures).  

It was the perfect last day of school. We just had fun being together as we had all year long. This was a good year and I will definitely miss this group. 


Saturday, July 13, 2013

The Last Days of School part 1

In reviewing our blog today I noticed that our last post declares only two days of school left...and that was almost a month ago!  Oops!

Maybe Kelly and I dove into summer quickly since it took us so long to get there (school lasted two and a half weeks longer than last year due to Superstorm Sandy and a new superintendent). 

Let's wrap some things up shall we...

Kelly and I held our first ever Reading Buddy Scavenger Hunt. I'll be honest with my blog buddies-it wasn't well planned and we cancelled it twice. Then, the day before, we decided to go with it. We raided the gym and found loads of equipment the play with. We organized twelve different tasks that our kids would participate in with their buddy. Although it was a stressful set-up and required me to arrive at school earlier than I desire (so not a morning person) it was soooooo worth it. 

Our tasks included:
-an obstacle course
-basketball shots
-a chalk mural
-an art station
-writing adjectives to describe their teachers
-teacher hug or high five station

.....and a few more. It was really a great day.  Check out the pictures below. 

Gathering our materials in the early dawn.