Tuesday, April 30, 2013

May Goals

May is on the 'morrow!!

I seriously cannot believe it.  How is this year racing by so fast?  The days and weeks seem long, but the months seem short.  I guess everyone was right when they said the years go faster the older you get.  

Anyhow, in order to celebrate the start of May, I am linking up with Jess from I {heart} Recess to set some goals for the month.

Personal: If you look back at my New Year's Resolutions this year, you will see that I kept saying that I needed to find balance in my life and to rest in Christ.  That continues to be my goal.  Throughout these first few months of 2013, God has been doing some major work in my life.  It's been both exciting and scary, since feeling conviction is always hard, but discovering that Christ loves me and everyone even though we are far from perfect is amazing!  That being said, I am happy to say, I am giving up perfectionism.  Of course, I still want to strive to do my best, but my attitude, mood, and identity will not be determined by whether or not I do things "perfectly."  I am loved, forgiven, and free in Christ!

Health: Along with needing continual spiritual rest, I also need more physical rest.  I keep meaning to go to bed early, but then I decide to start just one more project and that ends up taking me way longer than I expected.  As a result, I have not been getting to bed at a good hour lately.  I really need to work on this because when I'm under-rested, it's much easier for Cranky Miss Hoffman to come out and that's no fun.

Blogging: I am so close to 100.  I would love to get there this month.  I definitely plan to have a great 100 follower giveaway when the time comes.  Thanks to all who currently follow me.  I am honored that so many people take the time to read what I write.

School: Right now, I am in the thick of teaching 2-digit addition and subtraction with and without regrouping. It's intense.  It's complicated.  It's chaotic.  There are manipulatives all over the floor every day.  Math is getting longer.  Writing is getting shorter.  

Thankfully, my efforts are not in vain.  So far my kiddos are catching on to both forms of addition and subtraction without regrouping, but tomorrow brings with it subtraction with regrouping.  That's going to be a toughie. 

Fun: I had such a blast in NYC on Saturday.  I would love to go again soon.  Anyone want to go with me?  Hehehehe.

So, those are my goals for the month.  I really hope I achieve them.  

P.S. My second blogging goal is to have a successful linky party.  Jessica and I would love to have you join Tricks of the Trade Thursday starting this Thursday, May 2.  Be thinking about your tips and tricks for bulletin board creation.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Social Studies Mentor Text and a May Freebie

It's Monday again.  How did that happen?  

I had a good time with the kiddos, but my day started on a melancholy note.  I had to say goodbye to my mom after spending a fantastically fun weekend with her.  We had so much fun hanging out, talking walks, going for a hike, eating out, and spending a wonderful day in NYC.

I don't know about you, but I LOVE NYC!!  I get energized by the sights, sounds, and people.  It's so exciting to see all the diverse people, to hear the music in the subway, and to dodge in and out of the crowds.

My mom, Jessica, and Jessica's mom spent most of they day shopping.  I got some super cheap, but really pretty jewelry to wear to my sister's wedding and some AWESOME new books for my classroom.  If you haven't been to The Strand or The Scholastic Store, you are missing out.  The Strand has gazillions of books at really good prices.  The Scholastic Store has all of the best Scholastic books, plus teacher resources.  Best of all everything is 25-50% off if you show your teacher ID!

After we were all shopped out, we had a delicious and decadent feast at Max Brenner, a restaurant known for it's amazing chocolate.  I ate thoroughly too much, but enjoyed every bite!  Finally, we ended the adventure with a trip to see Cinderella on Broadway.  It was FANTASTIC!!  The set and costumes were magical.  We really could not figure out how some of the transformations took place.  Laura Osnes (Cinderella) was incredible.  Her singing, dancing, and acting were all superb.  It was one of the best shows I've ever seen.

It was such a great day and a great weekend.

However, now it's time for more fun with the kiddos.  It's starting to be that time of year when the calendar gets booked with extra events like field day, field trips, and so much more.  I am really looking forward to the fun, but afraid that I am not going to have time to get all the work done.  It's going to be a wild ride to the end of the year.

Before I get to work on the pile of things I have to do, I want to highlight one of my new books for Collaboration Cuties' Mentor Text linky.

The Bat Boy and His Violin is the sweet story of a little boy and his dad who is a baseball coach for a team in the Negro leagues.  The story takes place right in 1948, the year after Jackie Robinson debuted in the Major League.  In the story, the boy is a talented and dedicated violin player who is not understood by his father.  When his dad makes him become a bat boy for the Dukes, the boy tries his best, but ends up complicating things.  Finally, his dad tells him just to sit on the bench and play his violin.  Well it turns out that's the best thing he could have done.  The boy's playing encourages the defeated team and they end up winning game after game after game.  Even though they lose the championship, the dad has learned to love his son and is quite proud of the boy's violin playing.  It is such a sweet story.  I almost teared up reading it.

This story could be used to spark so many great conversations about family relationships and/or Black History, since the events take place at such a pivotal time of change in our country.  I am really looking forward to reading and discussing this book with my class.
Two more quick things before I go.  Stick with me cause one's a freebie!  

If you haven't heard yet, Jessica from Joy in the Journey and I are launching a new linky party this Thursday! 
Tricks of the Trade Thursday is going to be a way for us all to share the tips and tricks that help keep our classrooms running smoothly.  Each week, we will have a different topic of focus.  This week, our theme will be Bulletin Board Creation.  We would love to have you link up to share your tricks of the trade!
If you are still here, thanks for sticking with me.  You are really building your stamina!  Hehehe.  You deserve a freebie.

Since May is almost here, it's time for my monthly What I Learned Sheet.  If you are looking for a way to help your kiddos remember what they learned each day, look no further.  :-)  
PDF File
Editable Word Document
Hope you enjoy!

Friday, April 26, 2013

A Fantastic Five for Friday!

It's time for Five for Friday! 

Characters' Changing Feelings
This week, we talked a lot about how characters feelings change based on the problem, events, and solution.  We read Lilly's Purple Plastic Purse and identified Lilly's feelings at the beginning, middle, and end of the story.  I am really working to guide the kids away from using only "happy" and "sad" to using more meaningful words with different shades of meaning.  After we recorded Lilly's feelings, we discussed them in relation to the plot.  The kids realized that before the problem occurred, Lilly was having positive feelings, but afterwards, she was feeling negative emotions.  Then, when the problem was solved, she felt better.  It was a great discussion.  What was even better though, was that when I conferred with the students during independent reading, they were applying what they learned to their different books.  Almost everyone was able to discuss how their characters' feelings changed and why.
Please excuse the handwriting.  I did this in front of the kids,
so I didn't have time to be OCD about it.
Earth Day
For Earth Day, I made use of a FABULOUS resource from Katie Knight (Teacher to the Core).  I won her Ecology pack just in time to for the holiday.  Although, I didn't have time to plan and use everything in the pack, I LOVED the parts of it I did use including the mini book and the Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle graphic organizer.  The mini book was super fun for the kids because it was interactive.  In addition to reading the pages, they had to complete a little activity on each page.  I liked the clear explanations of key vocabulary.  I would definitely recommend checking out Katie's Earth Day ideas here.  

My Birthday!
Wednesday was my Golden Birthday!!  24 on the 24th!!  
Unfortunately, but fortunately, I was out for math training on the actual day of my birthday.  It was nice to get out early, but my class was disappointed even though I made them cookies on Tuesday to celebrate.
When I got back on Thursday, they showered me with cards and the parents surprised me with an AWESOME cake and beautiful flowers.  I was so surprised and touched.  I couldn't stop smiling.

Guest Readers
My students had the pleasure of listening to read alouds by not one, but two special guests this week!  Since she was on spring break, Jessica came to visit my classroom to have lunch with me.  Then, she stayed to read Stay The True Story of Ten Dogs (awesome book) to my class.  My kiddos were excited to see her and enraptured by the book.  In true teacher form, she asked plenty of good questions while reading and read with great expression.  

Then, today, my kiddos got the treat of meeting my mom and hearing her read aloud, Now One Foot, Now the Other by Tomie dePaola.  Since my mom loves caring for the elderly, it was especially meaningful for her to read that book.  It's such a sweet story.  I wish you could see how serious my kids faces were.  They all found the story sad, but hopeful and shared lots of meaningful connections.

Having guest readers was not only fun for me, but it was also quite helpful since my voice was shot from allergies.  I could barely muster up a strong whisper today.  Losing my voice all the time is SO annoying.  I lose it every time I get a cold, allergies, or another illness.  Also, if I am extra loud or enthusiastic at school or with friends or talk on the phone too much, my voice says "Sayonara!" and I'm raspy for the next few days.

Does anyone else lose their voice a lot from teaching or other things?  Do you have any tips or tricks to prevent this? 

Speaking of tips and tricks...
Tricks of the Trade Linky
I am excited to let you all know that starting next week, my best bud Jessica from Joy in the Journey and I will be hosting our very own linky party called Tricks of the Trade Thursday!  
Our goal is to provide a way for teachers to share their well-known tips and best kept secrets that make their lives and their classrooms run as smoothly as possible.  Each Thursday, there will be a theme (such as homework collection and management, manipulative storage, transition motivators, incentive systems, desk organization, filing systems, etc.).  You are invited to link up your tricks of the trade, or any idea, systems, Pinspirations, strategies etc. that keep your classroom running smoothly.

We will be kicking off this party next Thursday, May 2, with the theme of Bulletin Board Creation!

So, start thinking...
  • What tools do you use to create bulletin boards?
  • How often do you change them?
  • Do you have boards that stay up all year?
  • What types of materials do you put on them?
I can't wait to hear your tricks of the trade!

Please join us next Thursday!

Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

States of Matter Mentor Text

To all you who suffer with allergies, I can now officially empathize with you.  The pollen count must be off the charts because I almost never get spring allergies, but I have been hit hard with them for several days now.  I love spring flowers, but this is no fun.

Enough complaining though.  I really don't have it that badly compared to some people and even so, there is so much to enjoy about spring that I should focus on, rather than feeling sorry for myself.  For example, I love how long it stays light.  I love taking walks in the evening when the sun is just starting to go down.  It's so bright and beautiful.

Since I have conquered the majority of my lesson plans for next week, I decided what better thing to do than blog?

I am happy to have time to link up with Amanda and Stacia for their Mentor Text linky.  This week's theme is science.

One of my favorite units to teach in science is about states of matter.  The kids love all the different experiments and explorations we do including melting an ice cube, making juice pops etc.

In addition to doing lots of experiments with matter, I like to use the book What is the World Made Of?  It's part of the Let's Read and Find Out About Science series, which has lots of great books to use to teach all kinds of science concepts.  This book is great because it addresses the most important vocabulary and concepts about matter in a really easy-to-understand way.  Key vocabulary is bold and colorful.  The pictures are useful and cute.  Speech bubbles add humor and fun on many pages.  Also, the book gives tons of examples of the different states of matter and some ideas for home or school experiments that would be fun for the kids to try.  Overall, the book gives a lot of information in a way that is enjoyable for many ages of kids.

How's that for a one word description?  

For anyone who couldn't tell, I might possibly have made it up...*

I couldn't think of any other way to describe such a fun and informational book, so FUNformational was the best I could do.  Hehehe.

*REVISION: Apparently great minds think alike and I did not make this word up.  I went to visit Hippo Hooray for Second Grade and discovered that Angela has already coined the word Funformational!  How cool is that?  I'm thinking we should launch a real-life version of Frindle.  Who's with me?

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Let's Get Acquainted with My Classroom

Happy Sunny Sunday Everyone!

At least I hope it's sunny for you.  It is a chilly, but beautiful day here.  My weekend has been spent baking cookies, getting a few things organized, and just relaxing.  Yesterday, I actually watched a TV show without doing anything else.  It felt so strange, but nice.  

Today, I have a free afternoon before I head to a friend's birthday party/jewelry show for E & Company.  I am excited to see some of the new necklaces in the spring line.  I may just have to buy one...or two...or five...

I don't mind spending the money on such beautiful necklaces, especially since the proceeds go to help orphans and widows in India.

Anyhoo, now it's time to link up with Latoya for Let's Get Acquainted.  Of all the themes so far, I am most excited about this one because it gives me a chance to take a peek at all of your classrooms and to show some of mine.

Without further ado...here are my three favorite areas in my classroom:

Calendar Board/Carpet
Please excuse my finger in the picture.  :-)  My calendar board is very full, but still functional.  I love using Calendar Time to review a lot of different skills.  The right side of the board is for the calendar, which we use to practice the days of the week, patterns, skip counting, counting on and back by days and weeks etc.  We also talk about the different holidays.  As you can see, this picture is not for the current month.  I promise it says April right now.  ;-)

The left side of the calendar has a lot of different sections.  I numbered the picture below, so you can clearly see what I am talking about.

1. Season/Weather-  The weather helper changes this to reflect the current weather.

2. Temperature Graph- The weather helper graphs the current day's temperature.  We have a thermometer poster that has different color-coded zones that we use to decide what color to use on the graph, e.g. 40-60 degrees is in the green zone, 61-80 is in the yellow zone etc.  The outdoor thermometer is in a nearby window.  Both the thermometer and the graph count by 2's, which is a challenge at times for the kids, but helps them practice this skill.

3. Weather Graph- The weather helper colors a box and draws a tally to show the weather.  Options are Sunny, Cloudy, Rainy, or Snowy.

4. Problem of the Day Board- I use this blank space to write a problem or number of the day.  This gives the students practice with solving word problems.  I must confess that I have not been as consistent about using it as I should be.  I want to work on using it daily in the future.

5. Days of School Count- Pretty self explanatory.  We count the days of school with straws and bundle groups of ten.  We also write even or odd. 

6. Days of School in Money- At the time this picture was taken, we were drawing the pennies and dimes for the days of school.  Now, we are actually sticking on plastic coins using poster tack, so that kids can better recognize the different coins.  Also, I used a push pin to attach a fake dollar bill when we got to 100 and we have started using nickels and quarters too.

7. Tens Frame Monthly Days of School- My days of school helper draws a shape in the tens frame each day.  We try to use seasonal pictures like snowflakes in December, shamrocks in March etc.  

8. Days of School in a Month- At the end of each month, we record the total number in the tens frame to see how many days we were in school that month.  Then, we record the total in the monthly box, so we can compare the different totals.

Classroom Library
My prediction is that many teachers will say that they love their classroom libraries cause what teacher doesn't love books?  I know I do.

My library has grown exponentially since I started out last year with just a few books from Goodwill.  I am so thankful for Scholastic Book Clubs and my principal who ordered more books for the new teachers last year.

Here's a before and after from the beginning of last year to now.
September 2011-last year
 The shelf along the left wall is full of fiction books organized by author and/or genre.  The shelf with the green baskets on the far right is for nonfiction books and magazines.  The top of it also is home to the kid's individual bags of books that they shop for each week.  The blue bins on the middle shelf are my leveled library.  The labels have both the GRL and the DRA level on them for easy reference.  They also have a color coded sticker on them.  Each book in the bin has a matching sticker in the top left corner, so the students can always pick out books at the right level and put them away easily.

Initially I used tape to stick on the basket labels, but they kept falling off, so I decided to tie them on with string.  All I had to do was loop the string through the holes in the basket and two hole-punched holes in the label.  Voila!  Problem solved.

Word Wall and Word Work Area

I've already posted about how I use this area and how I renovated it this year.  You can read more about it here.  Basically, it is super functional for both the kids and me.

That was so much fun!  I really do love my classroom and have fixed a lot of last year's problems, so it was great getting to show you my favorite areas.

Be sure to link up with Latoya to show off your room.  I can't wait to see it!

Friday, April 19, 2013

Five for Friday and a Bulletin Board Freebies


Let me just say, my kids new it was Friday!  However, it was hard to be frustrated with them because they looked so darn cute.  Today was Fancy Dress Up day so many of my girls were in adorable dresses and my boys were wearing dress shirts and ties.

It's been a few weeks since I've made it to Doodle Bugs' Five for Friday, so I am excited to be able to link up today.  However, in the midst of the busyness of the week, I didn't get to take many pictures, so I am taking advantage of Google Images.  I hope I'm not breaking the rules too much ;-)

1. 2-Digit Addition- This week I faced the challenge of introducing 2-digit addition to 40.  Believe me, I was nervous.  Last year, with Everyday Math, I never went beyond basic facts, so taking on 2-digit addition and subtraction was a daunting task.  All week, I had the kids working with manipulatives on place value charts building the numbers with their choice of manipulatives (base 10 blocks, cubes, bean sticks, popsicle sticks, straws).  Letting them choose manipulatives has been really beneficial, so that they learn to see tens and ones in different ways and really understand the concepts.  Plus, they like being able to choose.

By having the kids build the numbers and then add to them, they really began to understand how/why to add the one first, then the tens.  This helped them really get how to solve vertical addition sentences.

2. Making Bargains- As part of our persuasive writing unit, we talked about making bargains this week.  This came naturally to the kids since they probably use this tactic with their parents on a daily basis.  All I had to say was, "have you ever said, if you let me...I will..." and they started shouting out hundreds of examples of what they say!  It was so funny.

After discussion some examples in I Wanna Iguana, e.g. "I will clean his cage," I sent the kids off to write a letter to convince me to give them extra recess on Friday.  They had to try to include a bargain that would mean something to me.  

They came up with the funniest ideas!  Some were more realistic and persuasive, others were just cute.  Here are some of my favorites (sorry I don't have pictures): 

If you give us extra recess...
  • You can give me 10 pieces of homework.
  • I will earn my sticker all week.
  • You can empty the class marble jar.
  • I will stay after school to clean the classroom.
  • I will give you the biggest goody bag at my birthday party.
Since they worked really hard and a few of them did drive a hard bargain, I gave everyone a few minutes of extra recess today.  I wanted them to realize their words do have the power to change people's minds.

3. Character Connections- Today, we talked about how good readers think about the character's feelings and ask themselves: "Have I felt that way before?  How would I feel if that happened to me?"  This helps them not only understand, but also enjoy what they are reading.  

For my mini-lesson, I read aloud Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.  I modeled how to think about Alexander's feelings and how to connect them to my experiences.  It didn't take long for the kids to start enthusiastically sharing about times they have felt so frustrated or made that they wanted to "tear apart metal!"  One kid actually said that.  Yikes.  I certainly don't want to make him mad.  

After the kids talked with their partners about their connections and feelings, they wrote about them in their journals.  Then, they practiced again with their own just right books.  

4. and 5. Spring Bulletin Boards- I am cheating again and combining 4 and 5 together, since they are both bulletin boards.  I finally got both my boards changed for April.  
Please Take Care of Our Earth
The kids all wrote persuasive letters to people to convince them to either take care of the earth or to stop doing things that harm the earth.  You can pick up the Earth Day letter templates free here.

I wish I could have thought of a catchier title for the board, but I just couldn't come up with one.  If you have any ideas, I will gladly take suggestions.

Math Blooms All Around Us

Since our school focus this year is Math in Our World, a lot of teachers have been doing Math All About Me's to help the kids see that math is all around them.  I decided to do a spring themed one using flowers.  The kids drew a picture of themselves in the center and then wrote math related things about themselves in each of the petals.  I think they turned out super cute!

So, those are my five things.  I will try to remember to take more pictures next week.

Before I go, you can pick up the bulletin board title posters for free by clicking the picture below.  Again, if you have a good idea for a title for either board, let me know and I will change the freebies.  Thanks!

Hope you enjoy!  Have a great weekend everyone!