Sunday, January 26, 2014

Snowmen....or lack there of!

So, I feel like I've been lacking in the blogging world.  I've had my hands tied in three different house projects that I'm trying to finish within the next 30 days!  Not to mention I'm still finding Christmas decorations throughout my house.  I think Elfie may have come out of hiding and is starting to play tricks one ME!  **Speaking of Christmas decor, Ballard Designs has allllll of their Christmas goodies on sale!  Like REALLY on sale! So, if you have any room left in your attic for storage, I suggest you hop on over there before I take it all for myself!

This past week has been totally cray with No school for Martin Luther King Jr. day Monday, and a 2 hour delay Tuesday, my little ones have been off their rocker this week!  So, we did some fun snowman activities to chill them out {no pun intended}. However, one thing that has been lacking is some beautiful, white, crisp and clean snow. :(  I'm still hopeful it will make an appearance before the month is over.

One of my favorite {series} of books are the Snowmen at -- books! They are so cute and I just "melt" over the illustrations {ha}. We've read most of the Snowmen books so far, so this time around was Snowmen All Year.  To get our brains warmed up, we discussed the different things you do for fun {depending on the season} by brainstorming our ideas on a post it.

I guess everyone has summer on the brain...including me #wishfulthinking

As we read, we checked for understanding based on what we brainstormed at the beginning of the lesson, and of course added some more ideas once we finished reading.  Students were then given the task of writing a PERFECT PARAGRAPH with a topic sentence, three details, and an ending.  If they were successful in their task, they were able to make the snowman/girl they wrote about out of shaving cream and liquid glue during one of our Fun Friday centers! Let me just say, I've never seen them work so hard! Sometimes you have to dangle the carrot....nose :) {I do apologize for all the puns, but they just keep coming to me!}

I'm not sure where I first read about the shaving cream and glue theory, but it was waaaaaay before the days of Pinterest!  I want to give credit to one of my Teacher Created Resources book, but could very well have been mailbox too.  Whoever came up with this is brilliant and I would love to hear how it first came about.

Do you wanna build a snowmaaaaaaan? Oh yes, it feels like GOO! #LoveFrozen
I'm not sure of the exact ratio--I usually just start pouring until it looks nice and sticky :)

I first had my kiddos draw their background and any other "accessories" they wanted their snow person to have.  The key is to accessorize while he/she is still wet.  I also let them dry over the weekend before displaying them.  Didn't want to have our snowmen running away on us!

The kids loved making them and they keep asking me when they're going to get to take them home!  For an extra added bonus, it was a great states of matter discussion, which we will be turning into an opinion writing piece next week. Boo-ya!

We also read a super cute book called, "Snow Globe Family", which is a newbie I added to our winter theme book collection this year.  I've done the "If I were trapped in a snow globe" writing and cute little craft to accompany it for a few years, but this time I wanted to do something just a little bit different.  Second graders sometimes have difficulty understanding Point-of-View, especially when writing, so you know the old saying, "Practice Makes Permanent!"  Students first decided what character they wished to be {from the story} and wrote from the POV of that character welcoming others to their snow globe life!  Sloppy copies were finished Friday, so we will be editing, revising, and publishing next week.

We also starting learning all about data and graphing last week, so of course we had to incorporate some Munchie Math to add to the chaos.  This was an individual yet, partner activity.  Each student was given one package of fun sized Skittles. Side Note: This is the first year I've used the fun sized bags (I had some left over from Halloween) rather than buying in bulk and making up zip lock baggies myself to try and save two dollars.  SOOOOOO NOT WORTH IT! #lessonlearned

Students completed the top part of the graph on their own, then swapped papers and answered questions based on their friend's data.  They could not eat their candies until AFTER I had checked their paper to make sure their answers were correct.

Grab your free download HERE!

We also started working on a MLK mosaic, which are not yet finished BUT if you haven't heard of or watched "Our Friend, Martin," with your kiddos you must!  It's a great story {cartoon} of MLK's accomplishments and what the world would be like if he didn't pursue his dreams.  You can buy the video HERE or watch it on Youtube HERE.  I will say for some reason the audio cuts out on the Youtube link during his speech--not sure why, but you can always show the actual speech to make up for it!

We are starting our Penguin Unit next week to conclude our "winter theme" lessons.  During one rotation of Daily 5, students will be doing some Penguin research in groups using our Nonfiction Research Pack {they have used this before which means no wasted time since they already know the format and how to complete it! Yay for no headache research!}  Thursday is also the 100th day of school! However, this is school picture day, soooo we will be celebrating the 101st day on Friday! Time to break out the glue gun to update my 100th day T-shirt...

It's then off to Once Upon a Time time! I can't wait for Fables & Fairy Tales month!  I guess that means it's going to be all "Happily Ever Afters," everyday right? ;-) A Dream is a Wish, You're Heart Makes!!! <3

Monday, January 13, 2014

Stickin' It to the New Year {with Sticky Notes & Inferencing}

Well, the new year is here along with many pros and cons to start off 2014. This is how my back to school year began...

1. Got to spend some much needed time with my parents and sisters.  Santa brought us an Uh-maze-ing gift we'll get to enjoy this coming August: #omgPRO!

2. Formal Observation first thing Monday morning after not being in the routine of school for a total of 16 days: #areyoukiddingmeCON {or at least for now until after I have my post conference... hopefully I can change this to a 'PRO'}.

3. Had my VERY FIRST 2-Hour Delay since moving to North Carolina: #snoozePRO!

4. Entire smart board calendar crashed and burned, leaving me with nothing but page clipart, no links, no text...nada.  It like, physically hurt: #noIdidn'tbackupCON

5. Scored a new desk chair for my office at 40% off: #couponqueenPRO!

6. The Golden Globes are on Sunday: #glamorousPRO!

7. There is someone or something living in the ceiling of my bedroom.  The boys and I woke up to some sort of scratching sound Saturday morning, and I have not been upstairs since.   A professional will be coming next week to assess the situation.  In the meantime, I'll be sleeping with one eye open: #mega,scary,creepy,crawly, CON.

8. Updated and REORGANIZED all the apps on our class iPads: #ittookforeverPRO

Find how you can do the same to yours HERE

9. Found this snazzy little magazine holder at TJ for $20!  I, of course, had to jazz it up with some scrapbook paper and Mod Podge.  :)  Finally, my home inspirations are not taking over every table in every room of my home: #organizedyetcraftyPRO

10. I've been trying to savor devouring these mint chocolate chip cookies from Fresh Market for the past three days.  They are one of the best and most addicting cookies I've ever eaten: #numnumnumnumPRO  #nextbiggestlosercontestantCON

2014 is to turning out to be the year to keep me on my toes.  Let's hope the coming weeks have more PROS than CONS.  With National  Board Certification coming up, I need all the PROS I can get!!!

Aside from the above CONS, the first week back to school was fun and pretty stress free.  My little ones adjusted back better than I expected, and we were able to get the ball rolling with ease.

Something we did to review by myself reading, was "Posting our Thinking."  Sometimes when students read, they tend to not use their full thinking abilities and drift off into fantasy daydreaming land.  It happens to the best of us, but with our Middle of the Year Reading MCLASS assessments coming up next week, I wanted to refresh and get students back into the reading groove. {Cue: Justin Timberlake's 'Let the Groove Get In'!}

There are many things that can get students excited about silent reading, but one of the simplest and "no planning" things is a POST IT!  We use this poster/ anchor chart in our classroom to help us make connections and build comprehension during read to self time. Students also have this same poster inside of the Daily 5 folder so they can refer to it whenever possible.  It's kid friendly and they love writing and responding to other sticky notes they come across while reading.  We did this as a review in small group and I loved reading what the kids jotted down as part of their thinking.

You can find this resource here!

We of course made some new years resolutions to kick off 2014.  With the Olympics coming up, I thought it would be fun to relate resolutions to being an Olympic athlete.  We discussed the origins of the Olympic Games and the difference between the summer and winter events.  

We developed our own resolutions we had for school, home, and the world.  Students created themselves as an Olympian and wrote their goals on three gold medals.  **When we do this again, I think I'll change the medals to  gold, silver, and bronze, and have the students order their goals according to the medal colors of what they wish to accomplish first, second, and third.  Literally had this thought in the shower Friday night at midnight.  My brain needs an "off" button ASAP...

Our Olympians:

Our jerseys contained Last Name, Second Grade, School
We revisited inferencing this week and started off with Shel Silverstein's Poem, "Snowball!"  Oh boy is it a cutie.  I had the students analyze this poem with a partner and illustrate each stanza modeling their inferences {one square = one stanza}.  I could hear them LOLing from across the room!  Listening to their discussions of "what he really means is..." was fantastic, especially after being away from school for two+ weeks!  Ok, add this to the PRO list.

Poem Illustrations:

Even though we have yet to experience a snow DAY first hand, we read about some people who had.  "Snow Day," was so cute and the kids looooooved it--the story was so fun and the illustrations were even cuter!  There was a little terrier in it, so of course I'm going to feel strongly about it... :)

Before we read, we brainstormed some things we could do in the snow.  We made a little diagram to show what we could do ONLY when there was snow present, and things that are good for a snow day, but could also be done at other times (example: playing cards, drinking hot chocolate, etc.)  We checked for understanding by crossing off  the activities as we read.  

To practice inferencing, we revisited our CASE FILE envelopes we used during our Author's Purpose Unit.  Students analyzed pieces of evidence from the character's snow day {that wasn't included in the story}, and inferred what they did based on those pieces of evidence.  Students also had to give a time in which that activity could be done.  On the back, groups made a timeline of the activities according to AM and PM times.  I loved hearing them discuss the difference between AM and PM and what you would be doing 12 hours from then (someone said they could bake cookies at 3AM and an uproar came from their group mates about being asleep at 3AM--up-roaring is ok as long as it has a purpose :)). 

Next Week is Snowman Week! Woo-hoo!!!  Let's hope all of our snow talk ignites some snow showers here, too :)  Bring on the Polar "Snow" Vortex!!