Sunday, April 30, 2017

Three Easy Steps to Showcase Student Achievement During Open House

Open House has always been about the students showcasing their work. Still, when parents enter they classroom, they would look to me for a mini-conference about how their child is doing. In a desire get students at center stage presenting their work, I created an Open House Scavenger Hunt.
 It worked brilliantly! Now, after hosting 35 Open Houses, I can say, that Open House is truly all about the student's progress, because the students explain how they are doing, what they have learned, and how that will make them better students.

When I created the Scavenger Hunt, I had three goals in mind for my students. Here are those three goals.

This is really the introduction. I wanted students to show their work. They have been collecting projects in their suitcases throughout the year. They also have interactive journals, and a "Trout In the Classroom" Notebook.

 Each student explained what they learn and how. They also explained what they put in each colony. This student included grain and livestalk as well as the factories.
 This student showcased the farming conditions of grain, but added the factories for textiles and shipbuilding.
This student focused on the livestalk.

 This year it was all about the technology. Students chose of one of the favorite math websites to demonstrate.

Students love using the above websites. I have links on my webpage. Just click on the picture to get to the links.

I am so excited about my scavenger hunt that I would like to make it available free for teachers now through teacher appreciation week. Just click on the picture below for your free Open House Scavenger Hunt

Friday, April 21, 2017

Dollar Day Deals for Earth Day Starts Today

I began thinking about Earth Day and realized that I actually have quite a few products that are related to our amazing planet Earth, so I decided it would be fun to have a "Dollar Days" celebration.

I decided to begin with one of my all-time favorite California beaches, Pfeiffer Beach. This beach actually has purple sand. When I discovered that there was such a thing as real purple sand and that it was only four hours from where I live, I had to go and see it. 

After visiting the beach, I had to create a close-reading of it. To find out more about Pfeiffer Beach click on the product or the link HERE.

Are you thinking about a theme for the next school year? As a sand collector, I could resist doing a beach theme. Here are a couple of products you might be interested in:

Teaching responsibility by promoting leadership is such an important skill that helps students get ready for their lives as adults.

I am a huge proponent of setting goals, and I have students set reading goals each month. My school uses Accelerated Reader which makes setting reading goals easily measured.

My Oceans of Good Reading Chart is the chart that I use most often.  Since I began using this chart to keep tract of AR reading points, my students read more, get more points, and show more growth on their assessments.

Need a classroom library system? Here is my set up. 

Newest Products

Since it is Earth Day on Saturday, I'm going to offer my newest Earth Day product for just $1.00.

If you haven't already, don't forget to grab by Earth Day Freebie.


Since I didn't get my new Easter project out until after Easter, I thought I'd offer it as part of my Dollar Day Deals
I have to say that my Easter Science is going to be a favorite of mine because the little experiements are easy enough for kids to do on their own, and they make a super fun Easter Basket. This project was a total hit with my class.

Here is a STEM activity for students to discover how craters are formed. The crater pictured is the Arizon crater. This is an activity that can be used when teaching about space.

This is a quick and easy experiment. Students just need a jar with a lid.

Here is another Freebie!

Study about the World

I love studying about other cultures and the world around us. A friend sent me a sample of sand from Pitcairn Island, so I made a close reading activity out of it. 

I couldn't resist.  I had to add this fun research project.

I thought I would end with a WOW! That is, word of the week. This little beauty can be used with any subject. It represents your big idea for the week or word of the week.

Happy Earth Day,

Monday, April 17, 2017

Free Earth Day Teacher Tools

I can't help myself! I love freebies and I love to share. I want to start with my giveaway. I have joined with other teachers to giveaway a $25 TeachersPayTeachers giftcard. 

I decided that it was time for me to do some research into the History of Earth Day and create a Free Product. Here is what I came up with.
 My goal was to get my students to reflect on what they do now that is good for the Earth, and for them to consider what else they can do as students. I found that Scholastic had a really good source that explained what other students have been doing.

If you would like to know about other resources I use for Earth Day, check out my website under the "Spring Section" of the "Holidays and Special Days" Tab.
Additionally, I am always on the lookout for some really good freebies. Here is what I have found in the last few days:
Many of you may have guessed that I love clip art. To tell the truth, I purchase a lot of it, and so when I come across cute clip art for free, I am very quick to download it. P 4 Clips Trioriginals by Patti Fortune is rather new to me, and I am so pleased to have discovered her work. Remember click on the picture to get the clip art and her name to go to her store on Teachers Pay Teachers.

Artifex is offering these adorable clips of students planting trees.

Do you like poetry? How about Haiku? 
This product has been out awhile, but it is new to me. So is the author, Teaching East of the Middle.

Here is a Doodle Poster by Tied 2 Teaching.
If you would like to use this as a collaborative project, Tied 2 Teaching has that project for sale in her store.
Stephanie, from Primary Theme Park has this adorable freebie.

Art with Jenny K has tied in the Parts of Speech with Earth Day Pop Art Here is Jenny's freebie.

Products for Purchase

I absolutely love Jenny K's work so I purchased her Earth Day Agamographs.
These are very easy to do because Jenny K provides video instructions for your students.

I have made an interactive tabbed booklet for my students to record what they learn about Earth Day. There are four sections:
  1. The History of Earth Day: Here I use my free product that my students read as well as two videos. Students will fill in a timeline and write a summary explaining the history of Earth Day.
  2. Reflection: Students will reflect on what they already do to help the environment at home, in their neighborhoods, in the classroom and on the playground. This section came about because so many kids throw paper on the ground outside without even thinking about it. I want them to become aware of what they are doing (I also raise trout in the classroom to help students learn about their environment. Click HERE to find out more about the trout unit).
  3. Goals: Students are expected to create a new goal to take care of Earth at home, in their neighborhood, in the classroom and on the playground.
  4. Research: Students will choose an Earth Day topic to research, take notes, and then show what they learned in either a powerpoint, speech, poster, model or foldable booklet. (Foldables are included)
To find out more about this Earth Day Project, click HERE.


For an amazing Earth Day STEM Project check out this video clip that explains how to create a solar oven to roast Smores (Yum!)

You can also do a STEM project on Ocean Trash. Check out this video clip

I found both of these amazing videos at Beyond Traditional Math. The author of this website has done both of these STEM projects and has provided pictures of students working on the projects, so you will definitely want to check them out. I hope to do both projects this year.

Don't forget to sign up for the giveaway below. It only takes a couple of minutes and you'll discover some really amazing teachers in the process, and you might win $25 dollars to spend. 

Prize: $25 Teachers Pay Teachers Gift Card
Giveaway Organized by: Kelly Malloy (An Apple for the Teacher)
Rules: Use the Rafflecopter to enter. Giveaway ends 4/10/17 and is open worldwide.
Are you a Teacher Blogger or Teachers pay Teachers seller who wants to participate in giveaways like these to grow your store and social media?  Click here to find out how you can join our totally awesome group of bloggers!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, April 14, 2017

Three Hundred Writing Strategies

I signed up to do this book study on Writing Strategies, by Jennifer Serravallo,  because I need to do a better job at teaching writing. 
The coolest part of this book study is that I am doing it with other teachers. Kelly Malloy, from An Apple for the Teacher is heading it up. 

I have jumped in and now I know a little about the book. I began with "Getting Started".

For once I am glad that I didn't just jump into chapter one like I was inclined to do. I actually read the introduction, and I found three main things. 

1. Navigating the Book

This first section explains how to navigate the book quickly and efficiently. It also gave a breif overview of the 10 goals, which Kelly Malloy goes into detail in her blog post. The 10 goals are:

I love that the goals are set up in picture form, because it makes it so much easier to understand. I also love that the first goal is Composing with Pictures. I can't wait to dig into the chapter.

2. Setting up the Classroom to Support Independence 

I thought I'd show you a glimpse of my note-taking so far: 

I am already getting some really good tips and I'm not even into the book yet. I need to do four things:

➧ Make Goals Visible: This doesn't mean you have to plaster your walls with goals. It would be as easy as having a special book mark that students add their goals to. (Cool and simple- that's what I like).

➧ Feedback:  
  • Point out the student's strengths
  • Provide next steps
  • Show example of authors' work
➧ Writing Centers: Students don't work at the writing center, this is where they go to get materials they may need. Here is one example:
If you already have a writing center you are way ahead of me. I just figured out what one is, and my brain is actively planning what will go in it and what it will look like. Since I am a beginner at this, I would love to hear about your writing centers.

Mentor Texts:  I am a beginner at this when it comes to writing. My school has just begun using Lucy Calkins' writing program so I have a few resources, but I need to beef this area up quite a bit. 

3. How the Strategies in this Book Might Fit Into Your Classroom

Jennifer Serraballo used my favorite word, "balance" when she stated that the strategies fit best in a balanced literacy framework. I think balance is key to running an effective educational program.

Jennifer also maps out how to plan a unit of study. She also jumps right into managing writing conferences and small group instruction. This is my real reason for jumping into this study. I want to learn how to effectively manage both individual writing conferences with students and small group instruction, while the other students are writing.
Here is one last diagram from the "getting started" section that I want to share. It is the writing process. I love how the prewriting from the old charts has been cut up into four parts. This makes so much more sense to me, because it take of lot of prewriting activities to get most kids really writing.  

If you would like to purchase The Writing Strategies Book by Jennifer Serravallo, you can get it on Amazon. It got mine in one day. I ordered it at 11:00 on Sunday and had it by 7:00 the same day. Remember, the book is an investment with 300 strategies. 

To get started on Goal 1: visit Kelly Malloy at An Apple for the Teacher.

Jen, from Teaching, Life, and Everything in Between, has posted her thoughts on Goal 2