Sunday, August 10, 2014

Beginning of Year Forms and Poetry Folder Updated!

Hello Everyone!
First of all, thank you for all the sweet comments on my last post.  We are slowly but surely getting everything fixed and back together!!  Feeling blessed!!
Well, school starts in just 2 weeks! (Here in Texas, anyway) Some of you may have already started!  If you have, I hope you're off to a smooth start!! 
This is the time of year when I update all my old documents/printables. I've gotten several e-mails asking to update the Poetry folder student cover with this year's date, so I've got that ready for you! I also made some minor changes on my Beginning of the Year Quick Forms.  They have a cleaner look.  I now have those ready for you! Here are a few pics and then the links to the free downloads. Enjoy!!

Student poetry folder title page

Sample of the kinds of poems you'll find in this unit!

If you would like this free unit (almost 100 pages) You simply need to CLICK HERE!

I think I'm finally getting into "new school year" mode.  It has taken me a while this year.  Can't wait to go in tomorrow to meet a new team mate and get the cobwebs off the books!! Here we go!!! 
As always, thanks for stopping by for a peek. Don't forget to leave a comment.  If, for some reason, you are unable to download any of my documents, please e-mail me and I can send them to you via e-mail. Google docs is going through some transitions and I'm not always sure things are linked the way I want them.  Let me know! (
Till next time, have a great week!

Monday, August 4, 2014

Lightning Does Strike Twice!

Hello Everyone!
I'm going to start of today with a little picture.

This is one of the chimneys on my house!  Last week we got struck by lightning in the middle of the night!! It totally fried most of our electronics, pool equipment, garage door opener, one of the air conditioners, and probably more, let alone it scared the jeepers out of us!!!  We are still discovering things that don't work.  But!!!   No fire! The house is still standing! Praise the Lord, we are all safe.  It could have been pretty bad.  You had better believe we are counting our blessings!!! The crazy thing is, this will be the third time we will be replacing a chimney due to weather!  WOW!!! Lightning does strike twice!!!
Needless to say, it has taken some patience as we get everything up and running again.  I have the hardest working "do it yourselfer" type hubby!!  He has been at it for days!!! First up, was the all important computer network.  Took some doin, but he did it!!!  Thanking God for my sweetie!!!
All this got me to thinking about some of my school units. I decided that I needed to "strike again" with my beginning of the year unit on "Me and My School." It included some downloads using "David Goes to School."  That is still one of my favs to start the year. I also love "Chrysanthemum" and "Stand Tall Molly Lou Melon." So... I went ahead and cleaned up and combined the three books into one unit.

The unit is about 55 pages long with poems, chants, reader's response, hands on visual, posters, bubblemaps, and puzzles. These ideas were successful the first couple times around, so, let's strike again!!
You can get your download if you STRIKE HERE!!! :) 

OOPS! Gotta go! The air conditioner guy is here!  YAY!!
It's all good!! 
Thanks for stopping by!! Don't forget to leave a comment and let me know if you can use this unit, or if you need anything else.  Up next? Sight Words, I Can's, and a few more things!!


Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Interactive Math Notebook

Hello Everyone!
My apologies for not posting lately.  We had to drive to Chicago to help my widowed father in law move 53 years of "family" to a new apartment. Going through that many years' worth of "family accumulations" was both wonderful and emotional.  My husband got to bring home so much of his childhood that we had to rent a U Haul!  We were able to settle dad into a great little apartment with incredible "senior" amenities.  Feeling pretty blessed! 
Anyway, I was totally "unplugged" all week and it actually felt pretty good! But now, I'm in catch-up mode! So today I'm sharing my new and improved Interactive Math Notebook.  We have had such amazing results from using the math notebook approach to support our math program, but I wanted to make it even more interactive. If you have used this before, please download again.  I've added about 9 different number of the day pages depending on your kids' level and readiness.  I've also added about 10 pages of manipulatives for kids to make and store in a bag or envelope, and keep in their notebooks. That's what makes the notebook so interactive!! Here are a couple of pics.

beginning of the year number of the day page
End of the year number of the day page

sample of manipulatives included

I am very excited to help kids be the best they can be at thinking mathematically!  Using a notebook like this will boost that success and promote independence at the same time.  

Okee Dokee. Time to get my own house back in order after being gone.  I hope you're having a great week! 
Thanks for stopping by and don't forget to leave a comment. OH! I almost forgot.  If you've e-mailed me recently and requested materials, I'll get those sent this afternoon. I did not even check mail while we were gone!! Thanks for your patience!! 
I'm getting ready to post an updated poetry folder unit and a few more things!
Till then, keep lookin up! 

Monday, July 21, 2014

Writing- It's a Visual Thing!

Hello Everyone!!
Happy Monday!! I picked up a random book at Half Price Books the other day,  Visual Tools by Roger Essley, a diagnosed dyslexic.  The title caught my eye because I am such a visual learner. As I read through this book, I have to tell you, I almost cried.  This approach to teaching writing for a differentiated classroom has become my Ahhhh Hahhhhh for the summer.The author suggests that kids need to draw out their stories before they even begin writing anything.  Then they need to talk about their drawings, make adjustments, additions, etc, and then begin writing.  I have always had my kids draw before they write, but not even close to the extent that Mr. Essley suggests.  He calls it Storyboarding.  The process really helps kids organize visually what they want to say in their stories. Stick figures and labeling to help others understand are acceptable.  He tells many stories of kids with learning challenges who became writers because of this method.  (You've probably been doing this all along.  Sometimes I'm a little slower to get there!) 
While reading this, I couldn't help but be reminded of the struggle my oldest son had with writing. In fourth grade he was the only student in the school to get a "1" on his state writing exam. (4 being the best) :(  We were all devastated and mortified- mostly because he is a bright kid, in the gifted and talented class. We came to realize that he is intensely visual, and this was affecting his writing!  He has since graduated from the MIZZOU School of Journalism and is now an award winning broadcast journalist for ABC. He needs to see his stories!! This makes total sense to me now! If he would have been able to begin writing projects with a storyboard, I think he would have had more success in school.  
So now, how do I help my littles gain confidence in writing their stories?---through storyboarding!  I like to think of it as a kind of comic strip.  Kids draw their stories in little boxes with minimal words at first.  They verbalize all their ideas through their storyboard, gain insights from the class, and then create a "dummy" book from the boxes, adding text.  The dummy goes through editing, and then we are ready for publishing. Here are a few pics of a model I tried. 
Brainstorm ideas, and then draw ideas on paper. 
 This is a class sized model.

This is a kid sized version they can do on a plastic sheet in their writing notebooks. Attach cards with stickers helps with easy rearrangement.

Keep sheet in notebook

An envelope can be used to store cards

Make a "dummy" Attach cards to one side, add another card for text.

Add text

Keep adding storyboard cards, text.  Then revise and edit some more.
Finally, publish in whatever way you want.

I am so excited to use this visual tool with my new group of firsties.  I wish I could have my old classes back!  I just know it is going to be beneficial to so many. 
There is no way I can explain everything Roger Essley conveys in his book, but I will try to snap some pics when we get underway in the fall. 
I added this new tool to my Writer's toolbox unit, along with a ton more stuff. Just about everything you need to get ready for great writing!!



Sample of target skills

 Three different storyboard templates

6 different styles of draft book paper

the unit is now about 60 pages!  You can get it free if you CLICK HERE!!!

Einstein said, "If I can't picture it, I can't understand it." That is so true for my son, and for so many of our kids.
And Aristotle said, "It is impossible even to think without a mental picture."  Let's give our kids another tool to visualize, organize, and gain in confidence when dealing with text!  

On a side note: The storyboard tool is not just for writing!!  Use it in all the other curric. areas! 

Thanks for sticking with me through this long post!  If you have any other questions (because I know I didn't explain everything!), please don't hesitate to ask!! We're all in this together!!
Until then, have a great rest of the day!!