Cause & Effect & A Freebie

Hi teacher friends, Linda here from Around the Kampfire!
I'm headed into week 7 (almost to the end of the first quarter!)
and I promised myself I would stay ahead of the game this year 
(even if it's only by the skin of my teeth!).  I've been planning 
and pulling read alouds and thought I'd share a little 
cause and effect activity I'll be using soon with Alexander and 
the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.

Last year while teaching my kiddos about cause & effect we read 
all about poor Alexander's terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day! 

I made a variation of a multi-flow map to show the cause and effect 
relationships in the story. I have several copies of the book so I 
modeled some first then had groups of three locate and write causes and 
effects on sticky notes to add to our chart.

Students then wrote in more detail and illustrated them on this little 
freebie I used from my friend Courtney at Swimming Into Second.

This year, I'm thinking I'll teach this during my small groups and have 
my kiddos use this student version. If you'd like to use it too you can! 

If you follow me at Around the Kampfire you know how much I love 
Tomie dePaola books! So many of his Strega Nona books are 
perfect for teaching about cause and effect!  
Every year we do a Tomie dePaola author study and I like to use 
Big Anthony: His Story to focus on this because Big Anthony is, 
simply put, a walking disaster of cause and effect!

These are Big Anthony brochures we made during last year's study.  
You can see more of  how we worked with characters, story structure, 
and lots of comprehension and writing activities 
in my 4-part series Teaching With Tomie dePaola Books. 
You might also enjoy my Tomie dePaola board on Pinterest!

I hope your year is off to a good start!

Celebrating Birthdays at School

Hi!  I am Michelle from Teach123.  I am excited to be a new member of this blog.

In the summer, do you reflect over your school year?  Do you look for new ideas and tweak things a little?  That is what I have recently done with my blogging journey.  I was on some collaborative blogs when I first began, but I got overwhelmed and quit them when I had trouble keeping up with all of the commitments.  

Those of you who follow my blog know that my friend, Fern and I do some fun stuff together.  I have to confess that she is the more social one of our partnership.  She is always joining a new Facebook group or collaborative blog or another this or that.  Meanwhile I just plug along doing my thing. All along Fern has been telling me that I needed join this blog.  She loved working with this group of teacher bloggers.  I can't wait to see what all we will be doing this year!

Celebrating birthdays is something that each school seems to do a little different.  I was teaching in Texas when the Foods of Minimal Nutritional Value policy began.    My policy up until then was:
  • Parents can send in a snack to celebrate their child's birthday.  The snack needed to be single serving size (not a cake).  It needed to be ready to serve (pre-cut).
  • Parents need to send in all serving utensils, napkins, plates, or other supplies needed.
  • No drinks.
  • No gifts or balloons.
  • Snack needed to be dropped off in the office by 9 a.m.
  • If birthday invitations are passed at out school, all the girls, all the boys, or the entire class must be invited so we can avoid hurt feelings.
After the new policy was put into place, I had to do some brainstorming.  Cupcakes, cookies, and brownies were the staple of how my students celebrated their birthday at school.  I think at that point I had taught almost ten years so I was kind of set in my ways for how to celebrate birthdays at school.

I made goodie bags for my students and hung them on a clothesline.  This is an easy way to add color to your classroom.  

If you have a theme, you can find thematic bags, too!

I used a variety of things in my treat bags through the years.  Sometimes it was simple things and other times they were pretty snazzy.  It depended on what I found on sale.

I also like to do an activity called Birthday Star.  I send home a note to the parent asking the parent to send their child's favorite book and other favorites to school. 

The Birthday Star has a mini-Show 'n Tell on his or her birthday.  Then the class makes a book about the Birthday Star.  

The Birthday Star decorates the front cover.

You can download the Birthday Star Book HERE free.

Sources to make my blog post graphics can be found HERE. Click HERE to read my blog's disclosure statement.

Digital Documentation

Every year I get completely overwhelmed with the shear amount of paperwork I'm expected to keep on my students, especially those in RTI or who are receiving extra services. Even though I consider myself an organized person, I find myself falling behind on documenting and filing, and it can be so difficult for me to what what I'm looking for. That's why I completely fell in love with Blair Turner's, One Lesson at a Time, idea to document digitally. I started the school year with this new strategy, and it's working better than I expected!

We're expected to document any failed assignment and to keep paperwork on all of our RTI students' progress monitoring assessments. This year, rather than making a paper copy of each item, I am making a digital copy that is saved as a PDF. I have everything saved in a secured dropbox account, and I can access the paperwork anytime, anywhere.

I bought Scan Pro on itunes for $6.99. I bought the paid version, because of one awesome feature...
I can sync the app with my dropbox account! I use my ipad to take a picture of the assignment. Once I save the picture, I'm allowed to crop and edit before it scans and saves the document. After the document is saved, I can then use the drop down menu to have the file sent to my dropbox account.

In my dropbox account, I can access completed copies of all of my students' work. I've also started keeping a copy of my faculty meeting notes, so I can have a hard copy to refer to all year, without creating more desk clutter. I can access this from any computer as long as I have my username and password.
I now have a PDF copy of my students' work that I can easily access.  This is so nice for RTI meetings, parent conferences, and digital portfolios. Once I before more efficient with this system, I'd love to try giving my students more ownership over the whole process and allowing them to create their own digital portfolio.
Now, if I can just find something to grade and record those grades for me!

Front Row: Easy Math Differentiation

I originally heard about Front Row after Erin from Kleinspiration did a post about it.  Within the first few times of using it I was in love with it!  The best part about it is that my kids love it too.  We use it during our math block every. single. day.  It's a center and it allows kids to work on the math strand we're working on, but at their level.  Essentially, it allows me to give kids 20-30 minutes of differentiated practice at their level, and it takes virtually no additional work on my end.  That's every teacher's dream.  You can work directly on the website or they have an app available in the Apple store if you're lucky enough to have iPads at your disposal.  

It's a quick and painless process to register yourself and your students for your class.  They do now have a subscription schoolwide program as an option, as well.  Your students log in using their first and last names as well as the class code that you see on your teacher dashboard.

Once students are signed in, you direct students to which domain you'd like them to practice in.  You can have students practice in the strand you're currently working on, a strand you want to keep fresh in their minds, or a skill you're going to be working on soon and you want to get their background knowledge into their short-term memory.  For younger students, the domains available are Counting & Cardinality, Numbers & Operations in Base 10, Measurement and Data, Geometry, and Fractions.  

The first time students works in a domain they take the diagnostic test.  This assesses where each student's instructional level is. It finds out where they are, and works on those specific standards and skills, no matter the grade level the student is in. The program also has a writing space and manipulatives built into the program.  This allows students to work out the program as they would in the classroom.

Another awesome tool is the video.  If a student is struggling or not understanding a specific concept, they can click on the little "play" button on the left toolbar and a quick teaching video pops up to explain the concept.  Amazing.  On-level instruction with relevant on-the-spot intervention.  Have I mentioned how much I love this program? 

If I haven't convinced you to try Front Row out yet, here are a few things I like from the Teacher Dashboard that will seal the deal for you.

In the Analysis section, you choose a standard within the domain you're working on and it shows your students' performance on that standard.  After you select the standard it goes back to kindergarten, so don't be alarmed if you notice that on the dashboard.  It's still showing you your student performance on that standard.

Another helpful feature is the Report Card.  Here, you select the grade level's standards that you want to see and everything on the screen is sorted by student.  You can see how each student is performing on each standard for the grade level (or not working on it yet at all).

One last awesome feature is that each week you get an email with information on how your students did that week.  It lays out which students are struggling the most and which students are performing the highest within each strand.  I use this as a quick and easy way to recognize some of my high achievers.  They appreciate the simple recognition and pat on the back.

I truly, truly love this program and love how easy it allows me to differentiate for my kids!  I hope you enjoy using it with your students!

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Exciting Books for Opinion Writing!

Looking for exciting ideas for opinion writing?!  

Try this set from Scholastic:
I ordered the set after seeing it in the September book club catalog.  The books are written by the fabulous Jerry Pallotta.  When I saw them, I knew I had to have them!

If you haven't seen of the books, they feature two living things and ask, "Who would win?"  Different facts and details are mentioned throughout the book.  As you read, the kids will start to make a decision as to which thing would win.  The last 2-3 pages discuss what would happen when the two things meet and who would actually win.  

I would stop short of the last 2-3 pages and have the students write an opinion piece about who they think would win.  It's the perfect opportunity for the kids to express their opinion and give reasons to back it up.  After the kids are done with their writing, I would share the conclusion to the book.

Try it out and let us know how it goes!

Small Groups: Making Every Minute Count

Hi everyone! It's Megan from I Teach. What's Your Super Power?

There has been a huge focus in the last few years on what kids are doing during small group time when they're not working with the teacher.  This hit me like a lightning bolt after reading the Daily 5 about eight years ago.  BUT . . .

What about those little people sitting in front of us?  One of my favorite resources for answering that question is this book by Debbie Diller:
This book is chock full of resources to help you wrap your head around small group planning.  It helped me plan my lessons more thoughtfully.  Most importantly, it's a practical book.  It's full of lists and not theories, lessons instead of philosophies.  I know we need theories and philosophies, but we also need real life resources for the little humans that are sitting in front of us.

Here are SOME of the lists and charts in this book:

When I say the book is full of resources, I'm not lying.

She does include lesson plan templates, but you know how teachers are-I had to make my own.  First, I made a master list of the concepts and areas of focus.  It helped me to see a big picture of all all the things good readers do.  I used that list to plan my lessons for the week.  You can grab my list here.
Here's a picture of one of my lesson plans from when I taught second grade.  This would have been from the very beginning of the year.

Basically, you need to get on Amazon and order this book.  This year I will be working only with small groups for reading and math and will be planning my reading groups this way.  I wish there was a matching math small group book!

Introducing Science (freebie)

Hey y'all! It's Rachel from the tattooed teacher! and this week we are focusing on PRE-science class!
It may sound strange, but I spend a week "introducing" science class to my second graders! Yes, science is one of their favorite subjects (my favorite to teach), however, do they communicate about it effectively? No!
At my school we are SO LUCKY to have a science kit for most units. But before we delve into our first unit this year, we learn all about Process Skills!
There are tons of great ways to teach and practice these essential skills!
I wanted to share one of my favorite lessons that I actually found in an ancient science workbook my first year teaching!
I still use it every year!
I call it Stinky Feet Science!
I love this lesson because 1.I do not have to buy a thing-we all have shoes on
and 2. shoes stink and that makes kids laugh and enjoy this activity even more!

So here is how I introduce classifying to my students using their shoes...

aren't they funny!

you can download this freebie here!

and if you're interested in what else we do...check out Teaching Process Skills to Wee Scientists! 

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