Friday, October 24, 2014

Five fo' Friday!!

I'm finally home, enjoying a glass of overdue wine and thanking the Lord I made it through this long week. Before I even begin to think of the crazy that will come with next week, I'm sitting down to share 5 things from this past week with Doodlebugs!!

Click the pic above to be taken to my profile!
Have you heard of this new social media option? I was browsing through my blog lovin' feed when I saw Blair's post and it intrigued me. I've been contemplating starting a facebook page for this blog and then this popped up. I'm going to give it a try- although it's a little lonely only having one follower (thanks Blair). See her post to learn more about it! It is invite only (makes it seem exclusive huh?) so you can use my invitation code below. I'm hoping to play around with it this weekend!

Want to try tsu (pronounced "sue")? Grab my invite code:

I had my first observation of my ever-important-tenure year a week and half ago and had my post-observation meeting this past week. I am in a unique position as each year now, I've had a different principal. Our current principal went into early labor with her twins so her interim had to step in. Needless to say, I'm lucky to have both of these women that I get to work with (both my current and interim principal) as they really do seem to care and recognize me for what I do. And for that I'm thankful. Plus the fact that my first observation went really well. Two more to go baby!

This little chart has been so helpful! We started it for our writing unit and it really helped with students when writing their own complete stories. And now, it's useful for our reading unit. And the sad thing- I didn't even plan that to happen! I'll be sharing more about it later this weekend with a freebie too! Check it out later!


This was an impromptu graph. We were reflecting on our book logs and one thing we looked at was how many books we finished. As kids counted them up, I laid down a piece of duct tape and labeled numbers 0-13+ on the tape. Then students wrote the # of books they finished on a post-it and placed the number on their post-it on the same number on our tape. It was a nice quick lesson on graphing! Then, it was super easy for us to add how many total books we read this past unit... a whopping 200 books! I've got a group that loves to read.

This has been a very difficult week. Really, it's been a difficult year. Which is weird, because my students this year are really great- they are enthusiastic, they try hard, they apply what they learn, they take risks, they follow directions... but even with that, it's been a lot of long hours and it's been very draining. I had to make myself a little motivation wall for my classroom to remind myself that I am capable and to remember what is important. I don't know who said all of these phrases, but I complied them into this poster for my room.

I'm off to play around with this Tsu website now!

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Shades of Meaning: Vocab Reference Sheets

If you haven't heard, half of my class are ELs (English Learners). And I love them dearly. I want to help them succeed so bad. And I just don't feel like I am right now because of our RW and WW model. So I've put some major work in over our EM break (we were supposed to go to the big Ed. MN conferences, but I spent my time working on RW stuff... so that still counts right??) to help refocus myself and really try to bring the best instruction I can for my students (not just my ELs but ALL of them).

I made this document to share with my team and I'm so excited about it!

Because it is based on Teacher's College, I can't share it, but I totally feel much more prepared to teach this next unit. Google Docs worked perfect for us to share and collaborate (although only one of my teammates has so far). Have you used Google Docs when planning with your team? I love how in the "comment" view you can see everyone's contributions- nothing can be erased (only marked up/crossed out, but as the creator, I can always erase them later). It allows us to do some planning on our own and share it easily so when we meet, we can discuss other things. This is the first time I tried it and I'll definitely be doing it again.

So now that we have a basic direction on where we are going with this unit, I always dread the "trait work" portion. I have a few plans in place to help all my students pick very specific words to describe their characters based on their actions/feelings/blah blah blah. However, I find it hard for students to know which words to pick. They often pick a word we've been using, but the evidence doesn't support it. So I put together these "Shades of Meaning" pages to not only help with trait work but also for other avenues (plus it's in the "common core" for our grade).

I have organized them so that hopefully they can find the word they know well (the white shaded boxes). Then they can look at 3 other words that mean "about" the same thing. The darker the box, the more "advanced." I'll obviously teach into these reference pages when I see fit. We'll start with the feelings page first when we start talking about how the character is feeling, and then we'll move into the traits. I created 3 other pages for their writing as well that we'll intro in our next poetry unit. I'm so excited for these references pages... and it's the first resource I've made in a while that I can share on TpT so for the next 24 hours.... it's a freebie (just click on the image above)! I just ask you leave some love! I hope you can find some use for them!

Friday, October 17, 2014

More than "One" Lesson Learned


Remember me?

I've got so many things to share but these little things called "time" and "teaching" and not really fitting together really well right now. So I have a super weak goal of blogging once a week. I hope that changes soon, because I really do find a lot of joy in it.



I'm sure you've heard of the book One by Kathryn Otoshi. If not- go buy it now (click the pic below, buy it... and then come back). It is a priceless book all about the importance of standing up for yourself and others. The beautiful message that it only takes "one" to stand up and make a difference is woven so perfectly in this story. Kathryn Otoshi also released the book Zero which is also fabulous (and great for when teaching place value) and her new book titled Two was just released. My kids can't get enough of these so I'm sure I'll be tracking that one down also. But this post is all about "one" book that helped me teach a couple things.

So we read this book during one of our Olweus lessons. The kids picked up on the message right away. And because of our past work in Olweus, this group knew that many of these characters were bystanders and they needed to do something to help Blue out. We ended our discussion and went to specialists and then I got this idea for our first Classroom Community Display. I grabbed my lid that I almost threw out (from a pretzel tub) and a permanent marker and I made a little "1"decal thingy template and ran it down to our lovely copy lady. When the kids came back, I told them, "Today, we'll get to explore water colors while we go from bystanders to upstanders."

Oh boy were they excited. And maybe I was a little too. And I was a little crazy. I decided to do a guided discovery of water colors, while we also explored the concept of being an upstander.

First, we brainstormed different things you could do or say to help someone who is being bullied. Students then picked 3 and wrote them in the gaps of their "1" decal thingy I made. We just used black ball point pens. Then, we returned to the carpet so I could model how to use our paints, paintbrushes, water, and paper towels. It was then their turn to explore... and they were so ready. I braced myself.

Students practiced first on a blank square of construction paper (I didn't have water color paper in this impromptu plan and it worked just fine). They tried out the colors... tried to make them light and dark. And I was SO impressed with how well they did with the management. Mind you, this was within the first 2 weeks of school. This group is definitely a keeper.
Then it was time to add watercolor to their "1" decal thingy. We went with watercolors to match Kathryn Otoshi's style in her book.

They were so quite and focused during this! I was expecting a bit of chaos but there was none to be seen.

Once they were done, we let them dry over lunch, cut them out and assembled them into this mural:

Here are a few of their colored "1" decal thingys up close. They wrote their names inside the number 1 also, but I tried to blur those out for privacy.

I got to do a little watercolor also while they worked by creating this little sign that went in the middle of our display that is right outside our door.

Not only did they learn about how to use watercolors (and we will definitely do it again now) but we also learned the power of 1 person standing up and making a change.

I made the template with a sharpie marker, but I tried to recreate it on my computer to share. It's not perfect, but there it is for your use if you want to try it also. I put 2 on a page (that's the size mine were) but I also have 1 large one if you want them to be bigger. Click on the image to download both options.