Resources we LOVE!

Saturday, February 11, 2017
I am so excited to be teaming up with some amazing teachers to share our 
most treasured resources that we could not live without during our day! 
Special thanks to and for organizing this event!

Nothing helps this panicked teacher more than having a central location for all of my JUNK that I need to survive the day!  Honestly, I get so engrossed in what I am teaching/doing, that I tend to leave things around the room and before you know it I am constantly looking for EVERYTHING! 

In order to solve this problem, I have created a teacher SURVIVAL tote. My rule? Anything I take out must IMMEDIATELY be put back when I am finished with it. This has been a complete LIFE SAVER for me! As long as I can find my tote, I can find the supplies that I need. 

The good news? I am giving away the exact survival tote you see below, INCLUDING all of the goodies that go along with it! If you are the winner, I will ship this bag to you! :)

Take a look at the teacher tote that I am loving! (Thanks to my hub for taking the pic) ;)

This craft tote has loads of pockets, perfect to lug supplies around my room!
And, some people have asked me about what I put in my teacher survival tote…my must have contents are listed below! These will all be included to the winner of my Teacher Survival Tote.

LOVE these Paper Mate Ink Joys for writing notes to students and parents.
Jumbo Glue Sticks because you can never have enough glue. 
These Crayola markers are the BEST for making anchor charts!
Since my school only supplies red, blue, green, and black the multicolored pack is a MUST!
These markers make my hand hurt less while grading….they write like BUTTER! :)
Highlighting for days with these markers!
Gotta have colored pencils for shading in examples and drawings.
Am I the only one who can never find the tape in the classroom??? 
Everyone needs pink scissors.
I can not live without these mechanical pencils.
I never have a sharp pencil lying around so these make my heart happy!

AND, for those Target lovers out there, we are giving away a $100 Target gift card so you can pick up even more goodies for your classroom! Enter that giveaway below.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Hop to the next blog, Teach at the Beach, to find out about the awesome game she is giving away!

Good luck on all of these amazing giveaways! 
What is your favorite must have for your classroom?

Literacy Rotations in the Upper Grades

Saturday, January 21, 2017
One of my New Year's Resolutions was to differentiate more in my classroom with the use of literacy rotations. Let's face it, organizing small groups in a way that works can be a rather daunting task, especially in the upper grades. If you are like me, you may face challenges such as limited space, large class size (34 to be exact!), lack of materials or just deciding which materials to use, and finally LETTING GO (for my fellow control freaks!) Due to these challenges, it has always been hard to wrap my head around how to organize everything, but I finally laid out a plan that has been working for me (and hopefully for you as well!)

The first I did was find time in my schedule.  Over the break, I revamped my entire day so that I was going to teach the things that I seemed to have trouble fitting in FIRST. My morning schedule looks like this.
Morning Schedule (Language Arts)
8:15 Homework/Morning Warm Up
8:30 Read Aloud
8:45 Writing
9:45 Literacy Rotations
10:15 Recess
10:35 Rotations Continued
10:50 Close Reading/Book Groups

Choosing Groups
The first thing I did was decide that I wanted to have heterogeneous groups mixing up the ability levels of my students so that they could help each other when they were in different rotations without me.  Since I have a group of focus students in my class that I target through their previous year's test score data, I spread these students out.   

My target students are chosen for different reasons.  
#1) Students who are close to benchmark (proficient) 
#2) Students who just barely met benchmark and are at risk of falling behind
#3)Students who are far below proficient
I spread these students out so I have only 2-3 focus students in a group of 7.

Setting the Stage
Before starting rotations, I have students move ALL of their pencil boxes to a storage location so that their desktops are completely clear.  This allows for the students to completely move around and we are ready to set up the centers. I meet with the students prior to centers beginning to let them know where they will be going/doing using the following cookie sheet. I love using this since I have limited space in my classroom and it is extremely portable.  

Click on the picture below to grab the labels for the pockets and the title card!
Portable Rotations
Since I have limited space, I need PORTABLE centers. A basket that the students can take with them to set up.  I can dream about having enough space for permanent centers, but that is definitely not my reality! I usually choose a CENTER CAPTAIN that is in charge of getting the center tote and setting up, which is a great chance to give students leadership roles. I found awesome totes, seen in the pictures below at JoAnnes for 19.99, but I found them 40% off and I used an additional coupon! I LOVE them because they are canvas and have handles so the students can easily grab and take. 

What are the students doing?
Figuring out what the students will be doing is the most important task. I change the activities on a weekly basis, but the premise of the center stays the same.  The centers are broken down into:
Rotation #1) Word Work
Last week, students worked with the root word SUB. The students filled out the template seen below with their group researching along the way with the help of our classroom chrome books, iPad, and dictionaries.  The students LOVED making NONSENSE words on this organizer! They got pretty creative here!
Rotation #2) Read to Self
Last week for the READ to SELF rotation, my students worked on BOOK TASTING.  Students grab the portable basket seen below (from JoAnne's) filled with books that I have picked up with my Scholastic points.  Instead of putting them in my classroom library right away, I like to put them in the BOOK TASTING basket! The timer is set in 5 minute increments, at the end of each 5 minute block, students are able to decide if the book leaves a GOOD taste in their mouth. If so, they continue reading. If not, they are able to make a new choice!
Students used the BOOK TASTING template seen below to keep track of their work. 

Rotation #3) Comprehension
Since I taught the lower grades for many years , I have tons of picture books. Last week, I threw a bunch of picture books into a basket. Students chose a picture book. After, students explored the "theme" of the picture book with the template you see here. Grab the template seen below by clicking on the link. 
Rotation #4) Non Fiction
I receive TIME for KIDS every week. To be completely honest, it was getting pretty overwhelming trying to fit them into my daily schedule, but I think I have found the answer. Last week, students browsed through the TIME for KIDS and chose one article that interested them.  After reading the article, they wrote a NEWS BROADCAST using the template seen below.  After completing the template, students practiced their broadcast for their group.  Eventually, students will record their broadcast into their GOOGLE CLASSROOM account so that they have a record of their performance!
Rotation #5) Teacher Time
After guided reading, last week we focused on COMPOUND sentences and used the following template to discuss the purpose for each coordinating conjunction. This was truly eye opening since students tend to get confused when to use each conjunction.

Here is the template and other organizational tools I use for Literacy Rotations!
Stay tuned to see how my literacy rotations go next week! 
How do you organize your Literacy Rotations?

6 Mini-Lesson Ideas for Teaching Effective Dialogue

Thursday, November 10, 2016
The past couple of weeks I have incorporated 5 different mini-lessons that 
taught my students to effectively add dialogue to their writing. Hopefully! ;)
Mini-Lesson #1: Dialogue Models
I used the form seen below to introduce basic dialogue models to the students.  Under each individual model, the students wrote their own example.  Students also looked through the novel they are currently independently reading and hunted examples of each model.  
dialogue models, upper grade writing, dialogue lesson, 5th grade writing
Mini-Lesson #2: Color Coding Models
In the next mini-lesson, I gave each student 4 different colored index cards which they cut apart and arranged into the different models.  This provided a good visual as long as they stayed with a consistent color pattern.  The pattern we used was:

ORANGE: subject or speaker
PINK: speaker tag (how the speaker spoke)
YELLOW: what was spoken by the character
GREEN: quotation marks and commas

Students are keeping this in their writing folder so they can pull it 
out throughout the year when needed!
speaker tag lesson, dialogue lesson, color coding dialogue
Mini-Lesson #3) Speaker Tags
Students brainstormed different ways to say more basic types of speaker tags like the ones seen below.  After students independently researched these speaker tags using the chrome books, we made a classroom anchor chart where students came up and added one word to each square.  This created a good discussion tool as some of the words were great examples or synonyms for more common speaker tags, and how others were not very good examples or wouldn't make sense. 
synonyms for said
Mini Lesson #4) SAID is not DEAD!
As teachers we often use the expression SAID is DEAD! when teaching dialogue. However, said can actually be a very powerful word when it is paired with a prepositional phrase. As we were looking through novels that the students were reading and finding examples of dialogue, we noticed that many authors used long phrases to explain how a character sounded or looked when they were speaking.  Since we had been previously studying prepositional phrases, students were able to incorporate this into their writing.
"Watch out! The bowl is going to tip over!" My mom said.
"Watch out! The bowl is going to tip over!" My mom said with a distraught look on her face.
Mini Lesson #5) Writing Dialogue with Comics
Students were so excited when I pulled out this comic of Charlie Brown talking to Linus. The students rewrote the comic using dialogue models.  This allowed the students a lot of practice with writing speaker tags to create the appropriate mood and tone as well as changing speakers. They loved it!
comic strips in the classroom, comic strip mini-lesson
Here is another example! We talked about how important it is the vary your dialogue models so that there is variety in your conversations.
5th grade, writing mini-lesson, narrative writing with dialogue
Mini-Lesson #6) Students Create Comics 
Finally, it was time for students to create a comic based on their narrative draft that we had been writing.  The students read over their narratives and pinpointed a place where they would want to add dialogue.  They used the template seen below to draw the comic. 
After students drew the comic, they wrote the conversation below and finally added it to their narratives! She was able to add this conversation to her narrative and it really took her writing to the next level! 
writing, 5th grade, panicked teacher
Click on the image below to get this free template!
Other templates seen in this blog post can be found in my narrative writing unit! 
Click on the link below to be taken there!
Please share your tips or tricks for adding dialogue!

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