16 September 2012

Vowels, vowels, vowels!

That seems to be the theme in my class this past week and coming week. Strangely enough, I have 8 kiddos this year who are having trouble even telling me which letters are vowels, much less their sounds. Makes for an interesting phonics time in the classroom. I have some kids who are definitely ready for more rigorous work, so I'm attempting something new tomorrow. Mondays are our short days since the kids get out at 1:40pm, so my reading block is somewhat short. After our phonics warm-up tomorrow, the kids will break into groups: one intensive group with me and 2 other leveled groups at their desks. I am going to have all the kids work on the same skills, but at varying levels. I should add that the standard is to distinguish between words with long vowel sounds and words with short vowel sounds.

Group 1: (Intensive) Nonsense CVC words to work on vowel sounds. I'm also going to try to add in the silent e, since that was our phonics skills from last week.

Group 2: (Grade-Level) Long and short vowel sound word sort. They have to read the word and code it to what vowel sound they hear. So, if the word was club, they would write s (for short) and u (for the short sound u). Then they write it in the correct box. Click HERE to download a copy.

Group 3: (Above Grade Level) This group is interesting because it involves some behavior issues. So, I have to make the activity exciting and interesting to them but have it remain purposeful. I have narrowed it down to 2 activities: They are reading a Magic Tree House book, so I'm thinking about letting them scour their book for words with long and short vowels. The other activity would be a walk-around the room, where they find specific words using text we have on the walls. The only problem with this is that it distracts those working with me and those sitting at their desks. Hmmm...I might have to make my mind up in the morning when I see what kind of moods they all come in with! Regardless, they will simply fold a sheet of paper in half to sort the words they find.

I'm working on a center for them to use this week that is specific to what I need them to practice, so hopefully that will be done by tomorrow and I can share it with all of you! I see all these great things on TpT and I want to contribute, too!

Oh-and speaking of my centers, I rearranged my room to better accommodate a space for them. I'm actually adding 2 more centers this week: Pen Pals and a second one for comprehension. Here's a picture of what it looks like now. They're kind of blurry!

Have a great week!

09 September 2012

Exhausted, Sequential Order, and Fry Words...

That's the only word I can think of right now to describe how I feel after last week. Out of 23 kids in my class, eight of them are being put through RtI. While I know it is extremely beneficial for them, it is so much paperwork and documentation for one kiddo, let alone eight of them. The really hard part is that they are all over the place in their needs. I run out of time teaching every day, so I have no idea how I will squeeze in one-on-one time or more small groups. To top it all off, I had a parent beat on my outside door Friday afternoon after the bell rang. Dismissal is at 3:10pm, and it was 3:12pm and I hadn't opened the door yet. They must have had some serious plans they didn't want to be late for! ;)

But on to other things. We have been working on organizing our writing in sequential order this week in preparation to explain a process. I made some sentence strips that including the topic and conclusion sentences, three details, and transitions. The groups had to work together to organize the strips and then decide if it made sense. The kids really liked it and it allowed them to practice their reading skills and teamwork skills.

In preparations for our upcoming assessments, I made a PowerPoint to help the kids identify their high-frequency words. They are given a word verbally, and then they have to identify it from a given set of words. The PowerPoint can be used multiple times. All the words listed are from the third 100, so you can change the word you are looking for at any time. I tried to put words together that made sense, but...I was watching The Hunger Games at the same time, so hopefully there are not any mistakes! This is what the slides look like. Click on the slide to download a copy from Google Docs. 

Well, I'm off to start another week. Baby E is looking good and I'm looking at starting my maternity leave on October 15th. Wish me luck!

04 September 2012

Open House Week: Classroom Pictures

Today was a pretty fantastic day. The kiddos were really great and the day flew by. My feet are swelling like crazy, but the doctor said not to worry. Even my new-fat swollen pregnant work shoes-wouldn't work out today, so it was another flip flop day for me!

Open House Week

Since it's Open House Week, I wanted to post some pictures of my classroom, but since I posted some a while back (and in an attempt to go to bed), you can click on the picture below to see that post that includes all the pictures!

If you would like to link up, click on the Open House Week picture and join in! The schedule is as follows:

Monday: Meet the Teacher- tell us all about you and your teaching style!
Tuesday: Classroom Photos
Wednesday: Handouts for Parents
Thursday: Bulletin Board Photos

Have a great week!

03 September 2012

Currently and Open House Week!

I have made myself focus on my school work for the past few hours, but now it's time to have some real fun! First up is linking up with Farley over at Oh Boy Fourth Grade for this month's Currently!

Just remember the rule of 3 when linking up:
Go 2 behind your link and leave a comment and go 1 ahead of yours and comment. What a great way to meet people and find amazing new blogs and resources! Head over and link up now!

Moving on to...
Open House Week

This week Teaching Blog Addict is hosting Open House Week. The schedule is as follows:

Monday: Meet the Teacher- tell us all about you and your teaching style!
Tuesday: Classroom Photos
Wednesday: Handouts for Parents
Thursday: Bulletin Board Photos

So let me introduce myself. My name is Lori and this is my third year teaching second grade. Actually, I've only taught second grade! I'm 33, so you can tell I kind of got a late start. I always wanted to be a teacher, but I got married to a soldier when I was 20 and made the transition to Army wife and mommy. We decided that when our youngest son was about 3 that I would finish college. I started back in the fall of 2006. That November my husband was killed in Iraq. I always think it was good that I was in college because between that and my boys, I didn't really have time on my hands to be dragged down with grief. I had also already registered for the spring semester and it was such a pain to dis-enroll, so I kept going. Sure enough, in the spring of 2010, I graduated cumma-sum-laude with a degree in English and Elementary Education. I was placed at an elementary school in Colorado through an early recruitment program that also paid for my last three semesters in college.

So here I still am, 6 years after that life-changing event, with a job I love, 2 sweet boys that are thriving, a new husband and a baby girl due in 7 weeks!

I'll admit...there have been times when working in a Title I school with a high ELL population, low parent involvement, and behavior issues has made me want to throw in the towel. But each day I am thankful that I have this amazing job where I can change the paths of children. I come home completely exhausted, but I still find myself surfing on my iPad into the wee hours of morning for great resources and fun things to do with my class. I honestly love what I do.

My teaching style is very hands-on. I really believe in the idea of concrete learning whenever possible. I think kids learn better when they are able to actually experience a concept. It's easier to do this in math and writing, but we make it happen in reading as much as possible. I also like to make learning fun! You know you're doing it right when kids are learning and having fun at the same time. To be honest, it's even better when they don't even realize they are learning! (I hope that makes sense.)

I've included an example of how I get the kids involved in their learning. In writing, we use expanding cubes to help expand our sentences and make them better. I have three different levels of cubes. This is what they look like:

The higher level ones include complex sentences. The kids start with a base sentence and then roll the cube. They then add on whatever the cube tells them to add on. This is way more fun than a worksheet and it forces the kids to use their own thinking to come up with the sentence expanders. Click here to download the cubes. 

Well-I hope you've learned a little bit about me and my teaching style. Hope to see you again tomorrow!

02 September 2012

$5 in Free Books from Scholastic and Kellogg's

While standing in line at Walmart tonight a 3-pack of Kellogg's Frosted Flakes caught my eye. I had just bought a box for $2.98 at Target a couple of nights before, and this 3-pack was only $5! I grabbed it because I was convinced this was the deal of a lifetime on Frosted Flakes!

Imagine my surprise when I saw on the packaging that when I purchased this 3-pack I also received $5 in free books from Scholastic! I thought I would have to jump through hoops to get the free books, but all I had to do was register for the Kellogg's Family Rewards program, enter the code from the inside of the packaging and voila! There was an email waiting for me with my $5 coupon for Scholastic!

So, if you're at Walmart this week, see if you can find this deal!