Saturday, May 31, 2014

Ramona Recommends Book Club - The Year of Billy Miller

I love a great book recommendation and Courtney from Ramona Recommends totally nailed it with this month's book club pick.
Kevin Henkes is one of my favorite picture book authors and I was so excited to crack open this chapter book.  I love how he divided the books into specific character interactions for Billy.  This format allowed for the reader to truly see how Billy Miller evolved over the year.
I plan on using this book as an end of the year read aloud with my firsties next year, since Billy is a second grader.  It would obviously be a great beginning of the year read aloud of second grade.
On a random note...just as exciting as reading the book is my new bookmark obsession.  How great is this one?!?
More to come on this new book accessory love...

Happy Reading!

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

PYP Part 4 - Applying What We Learned

Once students had read, experimented, discussed, watched, listened, and created it was time to apply.  The final piece of our How the World Works unit was for students to create their own nonfiction penguin book.  My team and I used Matt Glover's writing approach for book creation with the help of several TPT products (image links will take you to the products).
Students began the process by reading and discussing many different penguin books.  Throughout their reading and being read to, they completed a Penguin A-Z book and an All About Penguin book.

Once students had read, recorded, and conferenced they used their new resources to write their own All About ____ Penguin Book.

The final books were magnificent.  Students used several nonfiction text features throughout their books, as well as the knowledge they gained throughout the unit.  Overall, I am very happy with the final products of our first PYP unit.

Check out some of the other penguin fun we had during our unit:
My student made shape penguins.  They turned out so cute and were the perfect way to kick off our shape unit in math.

I created these life size examples of the little blue and emperor penguins to give the students the realia they needed to make connections.

Students also worked together to compare their height to that of the little blue and emperor penguin.  I love when they work together and discuss their learning!!

Happy Learning!

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

PYP Part 3 - More on Animal Adaptations

The plethora of rich text available to students is wonderful!  One of the books we used during our How the World Works unit was What If You Had Animal Hair?, by Sandra Markle.
This is an marvelous book that uses facts about animal hair in relation to kids being able to have the same adaptations as the animals in the book.  It was the perfect follow up to our discussion on animal habitats and why specific animals live where they do.
Each student got to choose which animal's hair they would want to have and create an artistic representation, with a reason why.  I was blown away by the creativity of my class.

How incredible are those?

Have you used this book in your classroom?  I would love to read about your thoughts!

Don't forget to head over to Instagram for a chance to win my favorite things giveaway!

Monday, May 19, 2014

Must Read Monday - Mooseriffic

Must-Read Monday Linky
If you don't already know it...I LOVE moose!  There is something majestic about the animal that I cannot get over.  You can only image how I reacted when I heard about this book...

This is a Moose is about...well...a...moose.  He is no ordinary moose, he wants to be an astronaut.  
There is no one better to teach him to follow his dreams than his lacrosse playing grandmother.  Throughout the story, the moose does not give up on his dream even though the director (narrator) keeps insisting that he needs an animal to "act like it is supposed to."  I love that no matter how upset the director gets the moose follows his dreams, with the help of his friends and family.
We can all learn something from this moose!  Follow your dreams no matter who tries to hold you back.
My kiddos loved this book, but I think that I will use it at the beginning of next school year while we build a classroom community.

Happy Reading!

Don't forget to head over to Instagram for a chance to win my favorite things giveaway!

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Sparking Student Motivation with QR Codes

While many teacher have been using QR codes for awhile now, I was hesitant to jump on the bandwagon.  I was fearful that they wouldn't work, cause more of a problem than be helpful, and take away from the learning itself.  I don't know what changed my mind, but I am grateful for it.
QR codes have transformed both literacy and math centers in my classroom.
 Students use codes during their listening center.  Each code links to a different story that is read to them via YouTube with Safe Share.  I purchased these amazing book codes from Lawen Christianson.

 Students also use QR codes to self check some of their centers.  Here students worked on determining if numbers were in the correct order.  They recorded their answers and then checked their work using the QR codes.
Here is another literacy center where students used picture cards to determine which short vowel category each picture fit in.  They recorded each word in the proper group.  Last, they checked their answers using the short vowel QR code.

I am amazed by how engaged my kiddos are.  Of course there were a couple of hiccups, one of the iPads kept dropping off the WiFi, a couple students needed a bit more guidance, but overall the outcome has been AMAZING!  If you have the technology available, I highly recommend using QR codes in your classroom.

How do/would you use QR codes with your students?

Be sure to swing over to Head Over Heals for Teaching to see what other teachers are doing to Spark Student Motivation.

Don't forget to head over to Instagram for a chance to win my favorite things giveaway!

Friday, May 16, 2014

GoNoOdle Goals - Making Cross-Curricular Connections

I truly believe in cross-curricular connections.  In my mind, education and learning need to be real and not cut-and-dry.  I do my best to embrace teachable moments and on-the-spot learning opportunities.  It can be tricky to bring the entire class back from some of these "detours," but there are ways; GoNoOdle being one of them.
If you are not familiar with GoNoOdle, it is a free site filled with brain breaks to use with your students.  There are a variety of energizing and calming activities to do with your kiddos.
GoNoOdle has become and integral part of my day, so I knew I needed to start creating more connections to it.  Since this year's focus is strongly on math, I decided to make GoNoOdle a part of our daily math meeting.  At the beginning of each day, my students and I meet to create our goal for the day; this is the total minutes we believe the entire class will/can brain break for.  
 As we complete brain breaks, we round the time to the nearest minute and record the rounded time on our total log.  The times are continuously added together creating our total for the day.
 My firsties LOVE beating their daily goals!  I LOVE connecting number sense, estimating, time reading, rounding, and addition skills into these amazing brain breaks!

Click on the pictures below to grab a copy of the goal sheet and total time poster for your class.

Do you GoNoOdle?  How do you connect GoNoOdle to learning throughout the day?  I would love to hear about your brain break experiences.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

This Week's Centers

What a week and it's not even over yet!  Even with the warm weather we have been having, my kiddos have kept it together and kicked their centers in the butt.

This week's Literacy Centers:
Listening center with QR codes.

Corrections Around the Campfire Writing Center

Long i word sort from Erica Bohrer

Magnify Tiny Words by Erica Bohrer

Sounds of y from Mr. Y Sneaky Guy
This week's Math Centers:
Problem solving with Cloudy with a Chance of Word Problems


Skip counting using rules

What is one center your kiddos are working on this week?

Don't forget to head over to Instagram for a chance to win my favorite things giveaway!