Spring Cleaning

Have you ever had the itch to just clean out and get rid of stuff you don't need or clean up to stay focused on what really matters?  Well, that's where I am in my life.  I want to be able to spend more time with the kids, less time doing house chores, and less time doing work outside the classroom.  So, what better way to do this than to clean up my Teachers Pay Teachers Wish List and hone in on the items I think would benefit my kiddos the most.  Here is a step by step for my computer and TPT Spring Cleaning:

1-Comment on all of my purchases I have made in TPT.  I am always so excited to have the new purchase that I forget to go back and comment and rate the seller.  YOU KNOW YOU GET CREDIT POINTS FOR DOING THIS???  I just think that is sooo cool!  

2-Open my wish list and add the items to my cart that I just cant live without any more.  

3-I'm going to purchase these items after, and only after, I have all my credits towards future purchases (remember-I'm a cheapskate and love a sale).  

4-I'm going to shop at this wonderful Spring Cleaning Sale my favorite shops have going on this weekend.  

Here are two of my "can't live without" items that I use in my classroom (and my best sellers in my little TpT shop!)  Click on the pictures for a closer look!


Let's pick up our virtual brooms and clean up our wish lists during this awesome sale!  Here's a link to Georgia Grown Kiddo's to see who else is at this little Spring Sale party!!

Guest Blogging on Minds in Bloom!

Well, it's 6 AM on Monday, March 17th...yep, it's St. Patrick's Day!  Today, I'm not going to talk about things that are green, or how many times I'm going to have to correct my kids and remind them that they're not allowed to pinch one another, even on St. Patrick's Day! Nope. Today I'm going to simply share. :)  I am SUPER excited to announce that I am today's guest blogger on Rachel Lynette's "Minds in Bloom" website!  Yah!!  I am talking about the ways that teachers can simply incorporate no stress test-prep strategies (say that five times fast!) into their classrooms throughout the school year.  I know, I know...you DON'T want to talk about standardized testing.  Well folks, even though most of us feel that we should kick it to the curb, that's not going to happen anytime soon, so let's make the best of it shall we??  I think you'll like my picture-filled post and perhaps find some inspiration along the way.  Simply click on the picture below and you'll be redirected to "Minds in Bloom."  I would love to hear what you have to say, so feel free to comment either on here or on Rachel's site.  Happy St. Patrick's Day to all!!

PS: Keep an eye on my shop this week, I will be posting at least 3 new products that you DON'T want to miss!!

Studio Talk and Giveaway!

Hello there!  I am so grateful to be guest blogging on my friend Joey's wonderful blog!  For those of you who don't know me, I'm Meg from The Teacher Studio! Today I want to share a little bit about some of the work we have been doing in fourth grade in my neck of the woods!

One thing I have noticed about my students is that they LOVE to listen to me read aloud and are getting better and better about picking just right books and reading with amazing stamina.  What we really need work on (and I bet I am not alone in this!) is thinking deeply and writing about our reading.  

We've worked on a number of things like summarizing, looking for key events, making predictions, and trying to master the difference between writing about a TEXT and writing our THOUGHTS about a text.  This seemed to be a confusing concept for students, so I started working on double entry journals with the students.  Are you familiar with this?  Check out the anchor chart I use...it has really helped me incorporate some better language into my discussions and modeling.  This was particularly true as I read the book "Eight Keys" as our read aloud.  I would stop and we would have discussions about features we noticed in a text.  We pointed out interesting language.  We looked for key events.  We identified problems.

What I noticed is that often the discussion would stop there!  I had to really probe with the students...so WHY do you think the author did that?  Did it REMIND you of anything?  What is your OPINION about that?  Over time, more and more students began piggybacking off comments made about our books--and more and more students began having "reactions" to the text as opposed to simply identifying key features of the text.

As I noticed students getting better at this, I asked them to reflect back on the text and to think of one event that they believed to be a "turning point" in the book--an event SO important that the outcome of the book would have been changed had that event not happened.  I asked students to write summaries of that event ("from the text"), create illustrations (we've been talking about seeing books like movies and snapshots in our minds), and then explain WHY they felt the events were, indeed, turning points (their "thinking" about a text).  They had a ball and they turned out pretty cute!  We don't do too many projects anymore, but I do believe it is important to provide students with opportunities to practice high quality work and to create something display-worthy once in a while.

We hung them outside our lockers and there are tons of students stopping daily to check them out!  So after we finished identifying this idea of a "turning point", I wanted to get a sense for how students were able to write about a character.  I asked them to write to me about one of the main characters in "Eight Keys" and to really focus on what they knew about the character.   This is where I would love to report to you that all our work on thinking deeper, thinking beyond the text, and reacting to a text paid off.  This is where I show you amazing samples of profound things my students said about Elise and Franklin and Caroline.  This is not the case.

The horror of it all.  The writing was atrocious.  I shuddered.  I stewed.  I grumped.  Finally, I took responsibility.  I realized I had really spent NO time modeling for them what I expected in a response.  I did something thinking and made a chart to help us start to dig a little deeper about characters.  We talked as a group about all the ways authors help us get to know the characters in their books, and we came up with THIS!
I asked them if using this chart might help them when writing about characters and they emphatically agreed.  They then looked back at their previous writing and realized that, for the most part, they didn't tackle ANY of the items on the chart--with a few exceptions...namely "actions".  I quickly typed up the chart and made 1/2 sheet versions of it for them to glue right into their notebooks as a reference.  I hung the blue chart on our "digging deeper" board and crossed my fingers that their next response to reading would be more in depth and thoughtful.  To be continued!

By the way...for those of you who love a good giveaway, hop over to my blog and celebrate with me!  I recently reached 2,000 followers on TpT and I am having a little fun over on my blog.  Click the logo to check it out if you want to join in!  

Thanks to Joey for inviting me over to play...she'll have to come over and blog for me next time!  
Have a wonderful week everyone.  Spring is right around the corner.  RIGHT?

World Read Aloud Day With a Guest Blogger!

Hi everyone! I'm Jennifer from Teaching with Grace.

Teaching with Grace

I'm so excited to be guest blogging today for Joey! She is awesome and I always love to stop by here to grab great ideas! I'm really excited to add to those ideas!

Did you know that yesterday was World Read Aloud Day? I swear I had never heard of it before either. But our Media Center specialist (featured in TPT's blog last week!) had an awesome day planned for us. She had 10-12 classes team up and Skype with other schools across the country!

We are in Gwinnett County, Georgia and we had the closest 'visit' with a school in Forsyth County, Georgia. It was a blast! Their librarian read to us, ours read to them, and then they read together! (How is that possible? Elephant and Piggy by Mo Willems!)

Did your school celebrate? What did y'all do?

Ah...why not?!

"The sale's over?  Man, I missed it!"

Not at my store!!! Woo hoo!!

If you missed the sale over the last couple of days, it's not too late to save a couple of bucks on some great products for you and your classroom.  My entire store will be 15% off through Saturday!