Monday, March 23, 2015

Out with the old... In with the new

Well, I met my goal partially this weekend. I wanted to do a little 'spring cleaning' in my TpT store and it was cutting it close to accomplishing this task with my other busy must-do plans this week. These things almost got in the way of me cleaning:

Fraction circles. These buggers were a pain... and I didn't even cut the out, a parent volunteer did (and I am so grateful for that). But I had to separate them all into 16 different sets and sort them into these folders. And my husband did a lot of the grunt work too with assembling the pocket folders. So I just try to image how worse it would have been if I didn't have all that awesome help. But anywho, we are starting our unit on fractions and we are using the Rational Number Project as our curriculum as a pilot this year. We did our first lesson today and the kids loved the hands on part- I loved the student centered exploration. We'll see how the rest of this unit plays out! This was my Saturday.

Then my Sunday rolled around and I had to get ready to play in my first ever hockey game! Let me say, I've never played hockey in my life. I had never even put on pads before. Or held a hockey stick. But I bought a bunch of gear (and had some donated to me, again- thankful for the awesome help) and tested the waters in a league my teammate dragged encouraged me to do with her. It was supposed to be Hockey 101- it was a bit more advanced than we thought, but I was able to manage. This will be every Sunday for the next 8 weeks or so. I'll report back if I still have all my teeth.

Click on this button to go to my store.

So Saturday and Sunday morning, I was working like a mad dog trying to get some of my old products updated and add some of new ones. Here's what I accomplished:

My Mental and Emotional Health Resource got a face lift plus add ons! I added interactive options for the previous pack (those are still there too if you want a quick reflection page) plus a teacher's guide on how I used them in my room. I changed to the interactive this year and really liked it (my kids seemed to enjoy it too).

Another resources I cleaned up was my Superfudge Student book. The book didn't change, but I added graphic organizers to go with it was all was some end of book written response.

 And then there are my new resources. Last week, we had some extension lessons for place value up to the hundred thousands place. So I made this game that included all the skills we were doing with those big numbers: reading and writing numbers, rounding, and comparing in one easy-prep game! I added other game boards that have smaller place values too to use next year at the beginning.

I'm starting to create some things for my classroom next year. I redid these conflict resolution posters that I already had posted in my store. Same content- just different look.

And to go more with my 'theme' and colors next year, I made some new reading comprehension posters for my small group instruction. I love a good anchor chart, but sometimes I don't have the space. So I tried to add as much onto these as possible (without them feeling crowded). These posters include text structures and comp strategies.

Well, that's what I accomplished and cleaned! You can get all of these resources 20% off through Wednesday!

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Preparing for the Spring Cleaning Sale

I've got so many updates that I've been working on for some of the resources in my TpT store. I change things and test them out in my class each year and always intend to update, but never find time! To help motivate me, I created a lil' spring cleaning sale to get my butt movin' and to celebrate the wonderful arrival of SPRING!

I'll be sprucing up some of my older products- adding resources to products already created, changing up the looks a bit, and trying to make them even more user friendly to you! I've learned a lot in my first year of selling on TpT so it's time to go back and give some of those first items some lovin.'

I've also got some new resources that I've created this year and just haven't posted yet. Those will be introduced just in time for the sale as well!

Both the new resources and updated ones will be 20% off in my store for 3-days for you to snag and and enjoy and kick-off spring!

Do you need some motivation too to give your store a little spring cleaning? Grab the image below, add in your own details and spread the news. Besides- doesn't it feel good to reap the benefits after a good cleaning? Or is that just me when it comes to my apartment...

Happy Cleaning!
("Copy image" and "Paste" into an editing program to create your own button to announce a Spring Cleaning Sale!)

Tuesday, March 17, 2015


I'd like to think I've been doing meaningful reading work the whole year and that it will shine on our state standardized test next month. The reality- some of the expectations and processes expected of my third graders don't always seem to properly translate over on a test (or any standardized test for that matter). So, we use the 3 weeks before the test to hone our skills and learn some testing strategies to try to make our skills radiate! I'm already so proud of my kiddos trying so hard to prove their learning and growth... and I hope they know that.

Anyways, I'm getting off track. Back to the post!

So! To help my students be careful readers, we've really been focused on the QAR strategy, or the Question Answer Relationship strategy. This is something I would start at the beginning next year, because like a lot of the skills we teach during our test prep, this skill is a great one we can use anytime reading for school and preparing to share about our books.

Click here to download these bookmarks!

To make a long post short, we use this strategy after we are done reading. We look at the written questions at the end of the passage or on our Reading A-Z quizzes and we pick them apart, looking for key words that give us clues as to what type of question it is. We created this chart today to help us figure out the different types of questions:

"Go" questions are right there questions, meaning, we can go right in the text to figure them out. We discovered that typically, the 5 W's are these types of questions. "Slow Down" questions are think and search questions, meaning, the answer is over a few parts of our reading and we are searching for connections. We discovered a lot of event type questions, cause and effect, compare and contrast, and problem/solution questions fall in this category. Lastly is the "Stop" questions, which are author and you questions, meaning, we create an idea using our knowledge and we stop to find evidence from the text to support it. We discovered these are our letatoes (inferences- see the post here on how they got their name) and main idea and detail questions. We later added some other post-its after looking at sample questions: word meaning questions are often right there in the text (meaning- they have to go find the word in the text and use it in context) and when it asks us to judge or evaluate something as the "most important" or "best" types of questions.

Once we discussed the different things we answer questions about, we tested out our new skills with some sample questions from an old test. (These are screenshots of some of our SMARTboard slides which is why the format looks a little funky.)

Step1: We read the question and highlighted key words that ground our focus.
Step 2: We then discussed these words and what type of signal it might show us for the type of answer that is related to it. We wrote them next to the stop light to help us visualize.

We noticed that in this question, all of our keywords are pretty much "right there" signal words. Thus, this question is one we can go back and find the answer right in the test (that is tomorrow's job- today was strictly identifying and categorizing the words).

Some had a few words in more than one category. We then discussed what type of question this is to help us. We realized that this question is asking about cause and effect as well sequencing, which means we need to go search.

For this last one, I had them pick the key words on their own and categorized them to determine the type of question. Then we reviewed it together at the end of Reader's Workshop. Many were confused on the "most important" words and what type of signal they give us. We realized that these words are making us, the reader, make a decision based on the text. So, this question is an author and you even though some of the other words fit in the other categories.

By no means did I execute this perfectly, but we came back to our chart to fill in the blank at the bottom and the biggest take-away I wanted them to realize: you HAVE to support your answer by going into the text. We'll see if that translates into tomorrow's work when we predict the answers before looking at them, go find our evidence, then make a choice! I'll keep ya posted! :)