Sunday, November 27, 2016

Cyber Sale Wishlist

Tomorrow the big TPT sale launches and I don't know about you, but my Wishlist has gotten a work out.  I am ready to move tons of the product into my cart.

I will be discounting my entire store by 20% and with the code CYBER2016 you get an additional 8% off.  I wanted to share the top 3 wish listed items from my store.




You can grab these items and my newest series during the sale for an amazing price!  Also, be sure to check out all of the other bloggers participating in tomorrow's amazing sale!

Happy TPTing!

Monday, November 21, 2016

I Am Thankful For You!

I am so grateful for this amazing community!  I wanted to say Thank You, by sharing one of my all time favorite craftivities; The THANKFUL Book!

For the last, well more years than I can count, I have been guiding my students through this awesome project.  This puzzle book shows different components of the earth that we are grateful for.  We work page by page so that everyone's book ends up in the correct order.
I have learned that starting with the last page and working backwards is the most successful.

I love how these pages create such a beautiful scene.

The front cover is tricky.  I used to cut out the circle for my students, but now I just make a slit for each one.  I make sure that students know to stay inside the circle and they seem to get it.
This craftivity is all about gross motor and scissor use, but there is also a writing component.

Students are able to reflect on two people, things, places, whatever it is that they are thankful for.  The final book is the perfect gift for kiddos to share with their families.
Please let me know if you end up trying this project with your students or children.  If you are on Instagram, please tag me (@searching4tchrbalance) so that I can see your creations!

Thank you, again, for your amazingness!!!

Sunday, November 6, 2016

It's Time for a Review: Buddy Reading

There is something about November that causes wacky behavior and a need for review in my classroom.  This past week, we focused in on partner reading expectations.

We played "Who Wants To Be The Best Reading Buddy?"  It was my take on role playing No Way, Not Quite, and Just Right partner behavior.  I had three students come up to the front to be contestants.  I then jumped into the role of their reading buddy.
With the first contestant, I was a disaster of a partner.  I didn't look at the book, I kept saying, "This is boring", and at one point I threw the book.  The judges (the rest of the students) tried buzzing me out many times.  We then talked about everything that went wrong.
As the reading buddy to the second contestant, I actually looked at the book, but I kept telling the buddy all the words.  I interrupted her a million times, and didn't give her a chance to share.  Again, the judges made their buzzing sound and reprimanded me for being a crumby partner.
After reviewing everything I needed to change as a reading buddy, I was the perfect buddy with the last contestant.  The judges were very happy and I was impressed with their attention throughout the activity.

We created this poster as a reminder of all the expectations that we need to remember for Buddy Reading time.   You can grab a copy of this poster by clicking this link, or the picture.
Remember that it is easy to print this as a larger poster.  Just click on "Poster" on the print page, and increase the scale to 150%.  It will print onto 4 pages and you just have to tape or glue them together.


What is one Buddy Reading expectation in your classroom?

Saturday, November 5, 2016

November Literacy Fun with The Ugly Pumpkin

I LOVE the fall!  I love the change of colors here in the Pacific Northwest.  I love the crisp air.  I also love reading The Ugly Pumpkin, by Dave Horowitz.  It is an adorable tale about a pumpkin that can't understand why no one will choose him to be their Halloween Jack O' Lantern.  It isn't until he stumbles upon a group of squash that he realizes who he truly is...a SQUASH.
My students always get a kick out of this squash, and love the happy ending.  I created several activities that accompany this book years ago.
I finally gave my companion pack to this book a huge overhaul!  


This pack contains:
Pumpkin and Squash facts
Pumpkin and Squash photographs
Pumpkin Versus Squash Venn Diagram
The Ugly Pumpkin rhyming activity
The Ugly Pumpkin Figurative Language Matching activity
The Ugly Pumpkin Story Maps
2 templatespicture option
answer keys provided for all activities
Ugly Pumpkin Craftivities






Head over to my TeachersPayTeachers store to grab a copy of this fun filled pack!

What is your favorite things about this time of year?  What is your favorite fall picture book?











*this post contains Amazon affiliate links *

Friday, November 4, 2016

Student Vacations...What Do You Do?

We don't have a fall or mid-winter break.  Boo Hoo!  Because of this, I feel like parents try and take full advantage of the long holiday weekends in November and January.  Each year, I have students that vacation with their families and end up missing several days of school.  It seems harsh to send classroom, but sending nothing seems crazy to me, too.
That's why I send a vacation journal.  I have several bags prepped and ready to go.  Each bag has a journal, pencils, eraser, sharpener, and colored pencils.


I also have a note on the inside of each journal explaining the purpose of the journal.

The journal is meant to be a way for the student to create learning opportunities, while recording memories.  I always allow kiddos to share their journal when they get back.  It is so fun to hear about their favorite part of each day.

Grab this journal cover and letter here or by clicking on the above picture.

What do you do for kiddos that are going to miss school days for vacations?

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Driving into Word Study

Word Study is one of my favorite times of the day.  It is that beautiful point in the day when I get to watch my students learn new words right in front of my eyes.  My kiddos are excellent at using their Good Reading Habits to work through new words, but explicit teaching of new vocabulary, on my part, is still extremely important.
I have love taking my kiddos' leveled readers and pulling specific vocabulary to not only support that current book, but to support their develop of background knowledge.  Hameray Publishing came to the rescue yet again, with their amazing books.  Big Wheels at Work has been the perfect addition to my readers' book bags.


During our sneak peek of the book, we explored the tricky words.  Throughout our small group, kiddos matched the "stretched out sounds" (word attack strategy) of each word to the correct spelling of the word.  They placed the cards in the different parking spots as they matched the up.  This activity allowed my students to use the visual representation of the sounds to practice each word.


Students then drove their monster trucks into the parking spots of each tricky word found throughout the book.  They loved being able to "drive" into each word thus practicing each word again.  

video


As you can see, I love working on words with my kiddos.  Do you love working on words with your students?  What is your favorite time of day teaching your students?



Sunday, October 23, 2016

One Step Toward Solving The Chatties

I don't know what the deal is, but this year's class is CHATTY!  I am not joking, they love to talk.  It is hard to hold that against them; they are 6 and learning their social register.   But, I needed to curb their chattiness during group lessons, on the carpet.  I love the idea of SitSpots, but I can't justify another big purchase in my classroom.
I tested out a few ideas, and the bulk velcro from JoAnn Fabric and this amazing pen (Amazon link provided) have helped organize the talking a ton.




I used a small piece of the rough side and wrote each student's name on the back of it.  The rough velcro sticks perfectly to my classroom carpet. 
I assigned each kiddo a carpet spot and set the expectation that their back pockets are to remain on the their name spot at all times.  I made sure that each student was sitting next to their reading buddy, thus eliminating Pair Share troubles.  The velcro has made it so convenient to move kiddos around as need be.  




What do you do to help eliminate and organize your chatty kiddos?  

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Game Time with Blends


Word Study is one of my favorite times of the day.  I love listening to my kiddos practicing and learning new words.  It is one of the times throughout the day that I feel like light bulbs are lighting up all over the place.  One of our favorite games during Word Study is Roll Read (Color/Write).   See it in action below...  






My kiddos get so excited when we study new words because they know they will get to play Roll Read.  I have short and long vowels, as well as blends in my TPT store.  You can grab all three in a bundle for a fabulously discounted price.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Using GoNoodle to Support the Workshop Model

There is no doubt about it, the workshop model is a form of best practice that many of us educators practice.  What is the workshop model you ask?  The workshop model is a teaching structure that allows students to take charge or their own learning.  This structure is composed of three parts: Mini lesson, Work time, and Reflection/Debrief.  Through this structure students learn to have a growth mindset and to be responsible for their own learning.  As the teacher, we are able to work with students individually and in small groups in order to provide learning at each student's zone of proximal development.
So how do you keep students on task and using their growth mindset during reading, math, and writers' workshop?  Well, engaging lessons for one thing.  Choices during work time for another, but the one thing that supports not only the students' attentiveness, but also the teacher's is GoNoodle.
Over the years, as I have developed a stronger workshop model in my classroom, I have learned that GoNoodle is the piece that holds it all together.  Let's walk through the three components so that I can explain which videos I use and why...shall we?!?

Mini lesson

My goal with my mini lessons is to hook my students, but keep them working toward the lesson outcome...enter Maximo and Think About It.  These two channels are packed with videos to keep my kiddos engaged in my mini lesson.  I love that both channels also allow us to set an intention.  I often use the language used in the Think About It videos throughout the day to remind my students of their learning potential.

Work Time

As we transition from the mini lesson to work time, I make sure to do two brain breaks, one to get the wiggles out and the second to calm the students back to a focused learning state.  My go to for wiggle release is Koo Koo Kanga Roo, and lately, the Trolls Can't Stop this Feeling.
Right before starting my conferences and small group instruction, we typically use the YouTube channel.  I have been able to add content specific songs and dances that connect directly to our learning targets.  There are tons of fabulous math videos that reinforce counting, numbers pairs, place value, and so much more.
Did you know that you can add your own videos to GoNoodle?  Just head to the YouTube channel, click on the top left box, and add the YouTube URL from the video of your choosing.
As students work, and I meet with students, I am able to monitor their noise and frustration level and determine if we need another GoNoodle break.  I love using Dance Party as a quick way to refocus the whole group, and I love getting up and dancing, too.  Plus, who doesn't love seeing their champ pop into the dance party?!?!  I even added my son's champ to my class's Dance Party for this reason.

Reflection/Debrief 

The reflection can often be forgotten in lessons, but I have learned that it holds just as much value as the other two pieces of the workshop model.  The reflection allows students to have a sense of closure from the lesson, and it allows the teacher to formally and informally observe where the next lesson is going to go.  As a class, we rewatch our Think About It from our mini lesson and reflect on the intention that we initially set.   This has taught my class that there is a purpose to our brain breaks.  We don't just do them to do them.

I am so grateful for the sanity that GoNoodle brings to my classroom on a daily basis!  Do you teach using the Workshop Model?  What are your go to GoNoodle channels and videos?  You can also head over to the GoNoodle Community page, on Facebook and share your ideas there.


Sunday, October 9, 2016

Music to Your Ears {Giveaway Time}

I still remember songs that I learned in grade school.  There is one about energy conservation that plays in my head every time I forget to turn off the water while I brush my teeth.  Obviously if I remember a song a gazillion years later it not only made an impact on my learning, but it really got locked in my memory bank.  That is what music does for most learners.  My thoughts are...I need to take full advantage of this learning.  Enter...Flocabulary.  
I was introduced to this amazing resource last year.  You can check out my post here.


This year, we can't get enough of the math videos.  They have been the perfect addition to our math workshop.  Right now, we are working on counting, recognizing numbers, and finding addends.  There is a whole video series that supports these math concepts.  The songs are catchy and are packed with relevant content. 


The only thing better than listening to the songs with my students is catching them singing them together while they work!  Now that is awesome, right?!?!

If you haven't signed up for Flocabulary yet, follow this link to sign up for a free 45 day trial.  Even better than that, 3 of you will win a year's subscription!  You have until October 16, 2016 to enter!!!  Winners will be announced on October 18th, and all trials will be sent out the same week.

I would love to know your favorite Flocabulary songs.  Leave me a comment below.  I am always looking for new ones to listen to with my kiddos.