Friday, March 29, 2013

Nonfiction Reading Response Packet Finally Posted!

Yeah! I'm Finally Done with My Nonfiction Reading Response Packet!!!!
After 4 months of working on it when I had time (between raising 3 young boys, teaching, keeping the house semi-clean and sharing our computer with my hubby), it's FINALLY done!!! I finished it about 2 hours ago. This is a huge packet (almost 40 pages) that includes a wide variety of nonfiction reading responses to be used all year in grades 1-3. They cover just about every Common Core Standard for Reading Information. Also included are several parent tip sheets that can be sent home to communicate with parents about the reading skills being taught in the classroom/ways to help their children. I use these responses in my first grade classroom, and my students have had a lot of success. In celebration of me finishing this project before I turned completely gray, I've included 2 responses as a FREEBIE. Just click below. 

Today, my husband took my older boys on a camping/fishing trip, so I had some time with just the baby. We had a great time, and I don't think the house was ever this quiet...that is until I screamed when I saw mouse droppings all over our Easter decorations. I had time (yes 2 days before Easter) to go down to the basement and get some decorations out. When I looked on the Easter shelf I just about died (GROSS)!!! I have to go back down there to get the laundry, and I am SCARED!!!! I also yelled at our inside/outside cat for not doing his job. He's always killing animals outside, why not kill them inside??? Ahhhhhhh!!!!!! Never a dull moment.

Happy Easter!!! 

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Hello! Hello! Is "Anybunny" Listening?

Do you find your little bunnies' listening skills could use a refresher course this time of year?

It seems like every year, around this time, MY students' listening skills can use a boost. I ran into some excellent books about listening that are both kid-friendly and age-appropriate, on this very topic. Check them out...


My friend introduced me to this hilarious, yet very effective book. It's about a little boy who blurts out whatever he wants, whenever he wants. He "thinks" he can't control his "eruptions", but he eventually learns how to keep his words to himself until it's time to talk. I read it on Monday, and I've been telling my students, "Watch your eruptions." They really connected to this fun and timely book.

This is another book from the same author. It's about a little boy who, bet you can guess, doesn't listen. He has the "worst day ever". Many unwanted things happen to him during a day, and he becomes upset. His mom teaches him how to listen AND how to follow instructions. Again, a great book that my students connected to.

Since Easter is right around the corner, I tied in two books with bunnies as their main characters. Of course, these characters have trouble with listening too.

I adore books written by Helen Lester, but it wasn't until last year when my colleague introduced me to this story. I have no clue why I never read this before! It is about a bunny named Buddy, and he gets in all kinds of trouble because he doesn't know how to listen. But, by the end, he learns how.

This book arrived yesterday, with my latest Scholastic Book Order. Howard B. Wigglebottom is the main character in a series of books. Each book focuses on a different social skill. This one depicts Howard getting hurt and in trouble with friends and adults because he doesn't listen. Like all of these books, he eventually learns exactly how to listen. I love the discussion questions and the  steps on how to listen included in the back. 

I can't take credit for this idea, as this comes from one of my colleagues, but here is cute craft that ties into listening. Type a list of ways to listen (ideas found in all the above books). Students make a set of bunny ears and attach it to a sentence strip or paper headband. They cut the listening steps out and glue to the band. They can write "I am a super listener."

What books do you use this time of year? 

Friday, March 8, 2013

Calling All Pennsylvania Bloggers...

I saw this great linky idea on my friend's blog ( What a great way to meet other bloggers in your state (or maybe even in your own backyard)! Check out Fifth in the Middle to see this Blog by States linky. 

Thanks for stopping by! 

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Yeah, I Have Time to Blog Again plus Farley's March Currently and a FREEBIE!

Let the Sharing Begin! 

Let's just say I am over the moon with excitement. Although I loved every minute of the Daily 5/Cafe grad class, I am glad it's over. The last eight weeks have been a challenge, and my husband started to question if I knew who he was. I signed up for this online course because I needed 3 more credits to move up on the pay scale, and this class looked amazing. Before taking this course, I had never taken an online course. I thought it would be, should I say...easy? Um....I was kinda wrong! Even though it was a lot of work (along with raising 3 young boys, finding time for my husband, working full-time and somehow exercising and cleaning the house-somewhat), I learned SO much. This course literally transformed my teaching. I highly recommend it! Check out the DailyCafe site here. You will find class information on the site. 

My TPT Store is doing well, and I have a huge project in the works. Check out my new March Writing Prompt Menu Freebie (follow the link to my store). My students love these!

Let's Talk About Brain Research...

Every week, we had to read a journaled article and respond to it. In addition, we also had to collaborate and respond to at least two other classmates' responses. One of the main reasons I started to blog is to share ideas, get ideas and collaborate, so this was right up my alley! I love talking with other teachers.

The first part of the course was about Daily 5. I read a few articles (one for this course) and a few others about brain-based learning. Years ago, I was part of a building-wide study on this topic, but it has been years since I read anything about it. For the past few years, I found myself wondering why my students  had such a hard time paying attention. It seemed like they would get so antsy (and so fast). Comparing current students to students I taught 17 years ago, students "nowadays" seemed to have no attention span. I started to think it was me (and in a way it was due to me), but I also found solid research that confirmed children's brains are actually wired differently due to all the technology they are exposed to. Now, this is not a bad thing, but I needed to learn what I could do as a teacher to make sure I am doing everything I can possibly do to make sure my students would pay attention. I learned that students can pay attention for as many years old they are (ex: a 7 year-old student can pay attention to instruction for about a 7-minute duration). WOW!!! I had some changes to make!!!

As I studied my teaching, and timed my lessons (especially my read alouds and shared reading lessons), I found I was teaching/talking for an average of 20+ minutes per lesson!!! Yowza!!! Not good!!! I shared my learning with my students, and they were interested. I told them I wanted to try something stop teaching after about 7 minutes (I teach first grade) and take a Brain Break before continuing. So, from the first week of my class, I have been doing this. Of course, my knowledge and my teaching kept evolving, but this was a start. I will definitely continue to share my learning and my journey of teaching with you. 

Brain Breaks
As many of you know (and already use), brain breaks are very short breaks taken by the students after they've been sitting for a while. They get the blood and oxygen moving, they change the "scene"/switch things up, while offering additional learning. I've used them for many years, but now I use them every day, several times a day. Here are some examples of reading brain breaks. I'll share more on my next post. I'd love to hear some of your ideas!!! Please share!!!

A Sampling of Reading Brain Breaks:
1. Cheer/Chant Sight Words: Either a student-leader or I stand in front of the word wall or word board. All students stand too. The leader says, "Give me a _.", The students make a fist and pump it up while saying the letter. This continues until the word is spelled. At the end of the word, the leader asks, "What does this spell?" The students cheer out the word. This can be used with sounds as well. 
2. Cross-Lateral Movements: Cross-lateral movements are said to stimulate both sides of the brain. Have you ever noticed the students who are lower achieving have difficulty with this? I have (many times). Students can do cross-lateral movements as they recite the alphabet or sounds (or words).
3. I Have/Who Has?: I'm sure many of you use these as well. These can be adapted for ANY skill. My kids LOVE these, and they beg for more. The first time takes a little while, but by the end of the week, they fly through them. I currently use many of the Common Core RF skills. 

I've included my most recent set here for FREE! It's not fancy, but it works. Click the link below to get it.

I Have/Who Has

Now, onto Farley's Currently:

You can tell I haven't blogged in a while because this has turned into a novel! That's it for now. Check back soon!
*Font for my free I Have/Who Has and the March Currently is from Jen Jones at Hello Literacy (