Data, Standards, Assessment, Oh My!

Is your "To Do" list longer than your arm now?  Have the school nightmares begun?  We all need to do what we can to find some easy solutions for those little annoying things that we know we have to do, but just isn't fun.

How does your Data Notebook look?  Mine is an old binder with a bunch of boring, ugly sheets stuffed in.

That is all about to change...click on over to Primary Graffiti and check out her Data Notebook packet.  It will be posted on TpT tonight, and I can't wait.  Here is my theory--if it's pretty, I will use it.  We'll see how that goes!  In the meantime, check this out at Primary Graffiti and don't forget to visit her TpT store!


Creating a Thought Journal

One of the first mini-lessons I teach in Writer's Workshop is creating and using a Thought Journal.  Some might call it a Writer's Notebook, Journal or Reflection Notebook.  In my classroom the Thought Journal is a place where students can play with writing. They use the Thought Journal to try out new techniques in Writer's Workshop, keep lists of ideas to write about and reflect on their reading. 

This book by Ralph Fletcher is a wonderful companion for older students (4th - 8th) about how to use their Writer's Notebook. 

Younger students need more hands-on instruction with lots of modeling to use their Thought Journal. 

I teach the first lesson during the first few days of school. I show the students my own Thought Journal and spend a great deal of time telling them about the different parts and what all the pictures mean to me. 

That evening I send them home with an assignment to start collecting pictures.  I also post my samples on my class blog so parents know where we are headed. 

The next day I demonstrate Wordle for the kids and we make Wordle clouds for any topic we are learning that day.  I show them my the Wordle cloud on my Thought Journal and get them excited about creating their own.  I send home a blank composition book and directions for Wordle and give the kids a long weekend to complete their Thought Journal at home.  I wish I had taken pictures!  One was cuter than the next!  Stay tuned for directions on how to use Wordle!


My Not Weird School

I mentioned yesterday that Dan Gutman will be coming to our school for our Young Author's Day.  Usually our author comes in the spring, but Dan was available in early October so we jumped at the chance.  The downside is that everyone will be crazy busy with back-to-school.  But I have a few tricks up my sleeve:
  • I have encouraged everyone to make their back-to-school bulletin board do double duty as their author bulletin board.  To emulate Gutman's My Weird School series teachers can create a board rhyming their name.   So if your name is Mrs. Fry your board might say:  Mrs. Fry's Class is Soaring High....and you might have a hot air balloon with the name of each student. 
  • We always create a board in our lobby with pictures of the entire staff to help new families on back-to school-night.  Title of this board?  The Not Weird Teachers of (Insert school name here).
  • In honor of Gutman's Million Dollar series I'm thinking of labeling The Million Dollar Office, The Million Dollar Water Fountain or The Million Dollar Lunch Room.
Do your students love The Weird School Series?  Listed below is a pdf Teacher's Guide. 

You can find this and other fun things at Dan Gutman's website.

What types of activities have you done for Young Author's Day or Author's Visit.  Let me know!

Death of the Bookstore

Borders, is closing.  Believe me when I tell you that I have done more than my share of trying to keep it alive.  I have the shelves of books and Mastercard bill to prove it!

Borders was my go to place when I needed to get away from everyone for a bit.  I would announce, "I'm going to the bookstore, anyone need anything?" and then zip out before they roused from their baseball watching, video game playing coma.  Whenever I walk into a bookstore I get a smile on my face. 

I love the way bookstores are laid out!
 Here is what I love about bookstores:
  • They are grouped by topics or genres. 
  • The displays call out to me, "Pick me, pick me."
  • I can order a latte, grab a pile of books and sip and browse.
  • They have cutesy book-themed items to go with the books, which is why I have Mo Willems' pigeon, Laura Numeroff's mouse and many Dr. Seuss plush toys!
  • The books smell new and you get to keep them (assuming you buy them which I always do).
Don't you wish libraries would become more like a bookstore?  If I were in charge of the world, I would put a cafe in the public library and dump Dewey and set up my library like a bookstore.  Sigh!

My good friend told me that Borders was having their closing sale, and at first I couldn't bring myself to going, but I convinced myself that they were going to go out of business whether I liked or not, so I might as well pick up a bargain or two.

How sad.
I headed for the magazine rack and picked up a few titles that I would never pay full price for but don't mind 40% off.

Next, it was on to the children's books.  The day I went they were only 10% off, but people were stuffing their carts like crazy.  Just to be polite, I picked up a few myself. 

My Weird School #20: Mr. Louie Is Screwy!Nightmare at the Book Fair

Please note:  Dan Gutman is coming to our school for an author visit in October, so the above books were in the name of research.

How do you feel about this behemoth store closing?  Has the Kindle and Nook replaced our bookstores?  Tell me what you think!

Cutest. Thing. Ever.

Don't believe me?  Then look here. 

This amazing bracelet, and other book-themed bracelets can be found at Sophie's Beads on Etsy.  They have Chronicles of Narnia, Junie B. Jones, and the Hunger Games to name a few.  Here is the best news. You can "WIN" that bracelet.  I probably should not tell you how, because I REALLY WANT THAT BRACELET, but since I'm in a good mood, I'll tell you.  That and because in order to enter another entry in the contest, I have to tell you.  But really, I would tell you anyway. Maybe.

Hop Frolic on over to the cutest blog ever  4th Grade Frolics and take a look at the contest rules.  But hurry!  The contest ends on Wednesday, July 27 at 11:59 EST.  That is today people!  Unless of course you are reading this in 2012, in which case it is too late to enter.  Hopefully, you will see a follow up post that I have won! 

Now I am off to figure out how to "grab" a button, add it to a post and all the other cute things people do with their posts.  Sigh!  Baby steps.

A Teacher with No Class

I have no classroom.  I have often moaned that the worst part of teaching is keeping up with the real estate so I should be thrilled. I am.  Really.  Okay, maybe thrilled is a strong word.  I'll say that I am optimistic, yet guarded.

My move to the Teacher of Writing has required me to downsize from a classroom (with nine years of stuff) to a desk and a cart.  To be fair, my desk comes with a filing cabinet and rather large bookshelf. 

My "classroom" will be a little red wagon similar to this. But not all decked out with side pockets.  I'll post a picture when I go back to school. Within the wagon I will have all the materials I need as I go from classroom to classroom providing Academic Support Services. 

The good news is I downsized from classroom to cart pretty well.  The bad news is my dining room has become my classroom library.

Does anyone else have a dining room that looks like this?  Bins hold paperbacks.  Grocery bags hold picture books. 

How full is my bucket?  Pretty darn full of books!

Three more bins.
 On the left are bins that are stacked in the garage for now but need to come inside.

The three bins tucked into this closet were from last year when I went from second grade to third.

 This is the office table with a few bins.
So my job this week is to get all my books organized, placed in bins and stored in one place. Finding that one place is the trick.  Suggestions from husband: 
  • Basement     (Sometimes it gets musty, I don't want musty books)
  • Garage         (Temperature change not good)
  • Attic             (Who is going to carry all the bins up the ladder into the attic?)
  • Landfill         (Not funny)
My plan is to keep the books in my tiny office, neatly stacked in bins.  They are close enough in case I need them AND they will start to annoy me after a year.  If after one year (maybe two) I haven't gone back to the classroom, I'll send these books to a good home.

Anyone else storing their classroom in their house?  Any good tips?

Give Me a Quack

Rebecca at Create*Teach*Share is hosting a Linky Party about the use of Post-its in the classroom.  She is giving away a boat-load of Post-its, and who doesn't need Post-its?

Win this!!

I wanted to create an authentic purpose and audience for my second grade beginning writers.  I had spent the summer learning about Twitter and Facebook and thought it would be neat if the kids could have some way to express themselves and have others react but I knew we didn't have the technology or permission to put our kiddos on Twitter. Hence...Quacker was born  hatched.

I created an interactive board outside of my classroom door attaching paper and border using a hot glue gun.  :$ 

I slipped a Post-it pad on the top and Velcroed a marker to the wall.  I wrote the first post to get everyone started and sent an email to the staff encouraging them and their kids to leave us a note.

I also posted a reminder to encourage more participation.

My second grade students loved returning from lunch and special each day to read the quacks. Our principal and our superintendent left a Quack and the kids felt like they were famous!
It was a wonderful springboard for Writer's Workshop.  I encouraged my reluctant writers to "Quack."  Once their Quack was on the board I would have a staff member or former student respond to their Quack with a question or comment.  Soon, they had a mini conversation that very easily turned into a personal narrative. 

Low tech, low budget, but high on function.  Have you Quacked today?


Welcome to my blog. My name is Kitty and I am a certified, elementary education teacher with a Master's in Instruction and Curriculum.  September 2011 will be the start of my tenth year of teaching.  I taught second grade for eight years and moved into third grade last year!  Now...I am moving into a new position as The Teacher of Writing for my building!

Teacher of Writing.  I have always thought that was a funny title.  Why not Teacher of Math, or Teacher of Social Studies?  In previous years our district had a specialist for reading, writing and math in every building.  Somewhere along the way, the powers-that-be decided they could not call the writing person a "specialist" since there is not a specific certificate issued by our state. A few more years down the road...different powers-that-be joined forces with the National Writing Project and offered a graduate level, non-degree program in the Teaching of Writing. Although I have always enjoyed writing, initially I took the courses to gain graduate hours. I fell in love with the program and when the position became available in my school, I jumped at the chance!  Join me on the adventure.
Back to Top