Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Graphic Organizers for the Common Core

Graphic Organizers for Reading Book Cover
I don't know about you...but I am always looking for a GREAT resource.  I have found it!  Laura Candler's new book  Graphic Organizers for Reading.  This books is amazing!  Here are a few of my favorite parts of the book:

First - Most graphic organizer books just give you the worksheets.  Not this one...she explains HOW to use them using the "I do....We do...You do..." teaching method.  She explains how to model correct usuage of the worksheet with sample lessons - all aligned to the Common Core standards for grades 2-6.

Another feature that I LOVE is that the graphic organizers are divided into two main sections:  Multi-purpose and Information Text & Literature. 

Wth the Multi-Purpose section she includes HOW to teach kids to choose the BEST graphic organizer, ways to introduce them in "FUN" catchy ways, sample lessons and sample sheets to see how kids might fill them in. 

In the Informational Text and Literature section she suggests texts that would work well with the organizer, gives step-by-step techniques for teaching as well as the targeted reading strategies.

Finally...(I saved the best for last) are Laura's Tips.  One of the reasons I love all of Laura Candler's products is because they are VERY TEACHER FRIENDLY.  You can tell she is not just a researcher, but one who works with kids.  Her tips are always spot on and just what you need to get you through a lesson.

The price is reasonable (under $25) and well worth it.  There are enough graphic organizers to keep you busy all year!  To learn more about it I recommend you go to this website to see more.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Home organization system....

Summer time is here...I am all packed up and ready to, really I am!  But before I can relax, I need to regroup.  Just take a look at my home office!  What a disaster!

I must admit I have let this area in my home GO....and it needs some attention!  First thing I did was go through and throw away the trash. Why, why, we keep so many papers?

Second thing I am working on is creating my three crates: 

I looked through all the "stuff" I have collected in my study and categorized it into research, binders and projects.

1.  Research will hold all the professional books and notebooks of ideas that I have hopes of reading this summer.

2. Binders will hold all the papers that I need to go through and put into binders (another organizational tool!)

3.  Projects  includes my craft sticks for games, star sticks, etc..., index cards, and other goodies I am hoping to create this summer. 

I will keep you up to date as to whether this works or not!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

How do you keep kids engaged at the end of the year?

That's right...the last week of school!  Testing is done...let's face it, instruction is done....what is left to do?
Enrichment day!

Once again my school planned an enrichment day where the staff offered courses and the students signed up for classes they were interested in.  In our K-1 classrooms, the children rotated through classes such as puzzles, play dough, and other developmentally appropriate tasks.  In 2-5 they had broader choices, in categories such as Science and Math, Sports, Art and Games & Activities.  I would love to tell you the whole system, but I didn't create it and wouldn't want to step on any one's toes.

Basically the kids were given a Sign Up sheet with the choices on them.  Then teachers went through and put the top five choices of the students on a spread sheet.  Next, the teachers were given a spread sheet with the class and their assignments for each one.  On the day of the enrichment day, every child wore a sticker telling where they would go for all four sessions.  It was seamless organization put forth by a very detail oriented 5th grade teacher and her collaborative team of teachers (one from each grade level and specialists).

Some choices were:
Roller Coasters
Egg Drop
24 Tournament
Frisbee Golf
Duct Tape Art
Cross stitch
Bottle Cap Art
Turtle races
Card Games
Board Games
Double Dutch

It was a great way to end the year...engaged learners!  

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Writing a book???

My good friend and fellow science nerd, Sherrie, and I are seriously considering writing a book this summer.  Our idea is based on this blog - we want to provide a framework for managing a creative and engaging classroom for the Upper Grades.  Of couse we want it to follow our kid-centered and inquiry based philosophy.  We are working on our ideas now, but are thinking about these general topics:

Relationship Building
Class Management
Engaging Activities to motivate our preteens
Cross Curriculum ideas and strategies
Notebooking in all subjects

We envision a VERY teacher friendly book - complete with resources.  What are some topics you think are important for the Upper Grades???

We would love some suggestions to get our brains going...

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Repost....thinking about boys!

I am a mother of two very active, very awesome BOYS... Having grown up surrounded by sisters, I was at a loss of how to be a mother to first. I used to be a little bit prissy girly when I was in my twenties and was expecting a life of tea parties and cute bows. Guess what?Didn't happen. Instead I have had a life full of batman, star wars, legos, soccer, football, basketball and really bad tv shows! And I wouldn't trade it for the world....

My sons have taught me a lot about how to work with the boys in my classroom...especially as they grow older.  As the school year winds down and we prepare for the summer it is good to reflect on what we can improve on. Recently I came across an article that I use to reflect and ensure that I am actively reaching my boys in class. So I'd like to share from.....

10 Essential Strategies for Teaching Boys Effectively
by Michael Gurian and Kathy Stevens

I made a page that you can down load and clip into your plan book that highlights the eight strategies that you can implement in your classroom. The other two strategies include providing mentors for our boys in schools and having counselors provide social skills training for sensitive boys as well as special education students.
To get your free copy click here .