Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Liebster Award

I know I haven't been blogging lately, but I have been so busy both in my class and at home. I am moving into a new school and had to go  through an entire classroom full of lots of STUFF! I had to throw away tons of ancient materials and recycle what I felt others could use. It has taken forever, but I have made profess. In the midst of all this I have had to get my first daughter, Francesca, ready for college. It was a whirlwind of emotions. I am so happy for this milestone in her life, but at the same time sad that she won't be around as usual. The dynamics of your family quickly changes. She is only 2 1/2 hours away, so I know visiting will be easy. This week I officially start back at school for a teacher work week and students come next Monday.

With everything that has gone on,  I was was thrilled when Stephanie from Forever in Fifth nominated my blog for the Liebster Award! This award is for new blogs with less than 200 followers. It is a great feeling for someone to recognize your efforts. I still feel very new to this, but when I look back to where I started I can definitely see progress. I keep reminding myself to be patient. I am so thankful for all those amazing bloggers that leave tutorials and those that are always willing to help. It truly shows that teaching is a profession of service because everyone is always so willing to help.

To accept the Liebster nomination I must do the following:

1. Link back to the blog that nominated me.
2. Nominate 5 -11 blogs with fewer than 200 followers.
3. Answer the questions posted by my nominator.
4. Answer 11 random facts about myself.
5. Create 11 questions for my nominees.
6. Contact my nominees to let them know I nominated them. 

Let me answer Stephanie's questions:

1. What is the best book you read this summer?
It is always so hard for me to answer this question. I love to read books. Professional and Children's books seem to be what I read the most this summer. My favorite children's books where Because of Mr. Terupt by Rob Buyea and Laugh with the Moon  by Shana Burg. My favorite professional read was Notebook Know-How Strategies for Writer's Notebook by Aimee Buckner and Ralph Fletcher.

2. What is your hardest food to resist?
I love french fries!

3. What is the best thing about the grade level you teach?
This will be my first year in fifth, so I'm going to say probably that they can work independently.

4. If you had to move to a different grade level, what would it be, and why?
I would move to 3rd grade because I taught this grade for several years and love that the students get excited about everything and they love their teacher!

5. What is your favorite vacation destination?
My favorite vacation destination is New York City and the Florida beaches (my hometown).

6. What is your favorite thing to do unrelated to school?
I love to spend time with my family. I have 4 kids and the older they get the harder it is to spend time together. I cherish those moments.

7. If I could meet any celebrity who would it be?
This is tough because I'm not a celebrity kind of person, but if I had to pick one it would be Pope Francis. He is not really a celebrity in the eyes of many, but someone I admire and would love to meet.

8. If you weren't a teacher, what would you be?
I would be a nurse.

9. What is your favorite all time read aloud?
This is tough there are so many! I am going to go with one of the last one I read Wonder by R.J. Palacio.

10. Are you a dog person or a cat person?
Definitely a dog person

11. What would you tell a college student considering being a teacher?
I would tell them it is not any easy job, but it is rewarding if you are passionate about learning. Many people go into teaching because they have summers off, little do they know you need those summers to prepare for the coming year. Patience and a passion for learning is key!

That was harder than I thought!

11 random facts about me...

1. I love gummy bears!
2. I am a Miami Hurricanes Fan.
3. I love to read.
4. My favorite food is Thai food.
5. I love children's books.
6. I love living on the coast.
7. I have 4 beautiful kids and love being a Mom!
8. If I could have 1 wish it would be to rich, so that I could help others.
9. I wish I could work in a children's hospital as a teacher.
10. I love sharing and collaborating with teachers.
11. I love dogs.

 My nominees for Liebster:

1. Vanessa at Kinder Loves
2. Leslie Ann at Life in Fifth Grade
4. Cindy at Teacher Blog Stalker
5. Ms. K at Teacher Blog Spot

Here you go:

1. What made you decide to go into teaching?
2. What is your favorite things to do to get ready for school?
3. Tell about your favorite school memory.
4. What is the best thing about the school you teach at?
5. Who inspires you?
6. Any advice for new teachers?
7. What's your favorite subject?
8. Do you use technology in your classroom? If so, what?
9. What is the last book you read?
10. If you could do anything, what would it be?
11. What is your favorite quote?

Monday, July 29, 2013

Georgia Children's Book Award Nominee

 Last week was very hectic because I was on the Diocesan Committee that is working on the math curriculum for our diocese. It was hard work, but a step forward for our diocese. 

Although I was very busy working on math, I managed to get one of the books read from the Georgia Children's Book Award List. This year I plan to get my students involved in reading the books that are up for awards in our state. Then we will be able to vote on our favorites.  I like to read the books myself before I recommend them, just in case I come across something that might be inappropriate at my grade level. I read Because Of Mr. Terupt by Rob Buyea. I picked it up on Monday and could not put it down. It was a great read in the evenings after working all day on curriculum development. 

Mr. Terupt is a young teacher who inspires his students and wants them to think for themselves. He reaches out to his students and wants them to appreciate their differences. It is a wonderful book for any kind of reader. The chapters are short and the characters are easy to follow. The book was both funny and sad. I had a hard time putting it down even when I was tired. As a teacher, it inspired me to do some of things he did. When I read the book I had no idea that there was already a sequel. From the reviews that I have read some topics discussed are a bit much for the students I teach. 

Because of Mr.Terupt is a must read!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

New Classroom

I finally was able to get in to see my new classroom. It is huge! Now I can begin to plan what it will look like. I am a bit overwhelmed because I won't be able to start setting up until next week. At least I now have a visual to work with.

Here are some pictures of my class. You know what I will be doing the next couple of days... 

This is the view looking in.
I'm thinking maybe some curtains to cover  the storage space.

One side of the room. Yes that is an old chalkboard.
Can you believe it?

Front of the room.
2 whiteboards and a SMARTBOARD. That podium looks kind of like a pulpit. 

There's a close view of the storage.
 No kidney table just the long banquet style table with the bench. I might need to dress that table up.

I forgot to take a picture of the back wall. You can see it slightly in the first picture. It has windows with old bookshelves and a table with 2 computers. 

I will post part 2 of the finished product once I finish.

If you have any great ideas, please share.

During my some of my blog hoppin' I came across Mr. Smith at Teacher Tipster he has a song for everything and so many wonderful ideas. If you haven't seen his videos they are worth watching. 

Books I''ve Read

Tuesday I went on vacation to visit my family in Miami, FL. My sister gave birth to TWIN GIRLS! They are precious.  It was a nice surprise because she was not due to have them until Aug. 5. It was so wonderful to get to see these precious little babies. It brings back so many memories of my own when they were that age. It makes me realize how time flies. With that said, where is summer going? This week I have to attend a 3 day Diocesan Institute for Math and then school will begin in about 2 weeks.

Caitlynn and Daniela

I haven't had a chance to get into my classroom, so I do not know what is there or even how I will set things up. I'm a little anxious. Today I will go take pictures and try to figure a plan for my classroom.

Since I will be teaching 5th grade, I have been reading several books to be able to recommend to my students. Here are the last 3 I read. Also, with the completion of my Writing Institute I made a book trailer. This is part of my implementation plan. My son was very helpful. I used an iMovie template because I have an iPad. It is very easy if you know what you are doing and even if you don't know, it is easy to figure it out. The first time you do anything it takes a little time before you get comfortable. I now know what strategies to teach my kids and if they have any problems, I can help.

I had no idea when I was reading this book that it was inspired by a true story. It is about a gorilla that lives a simple, sad life with a couple of friends, including Bob (a stray dog) and Stella ( an elephant). He lives behind a glass wall at a Mall with an Arcade. He is unaware of his misery until a baby elephant named Ruby comes to live with him. The chapters are short an easy to read. It is a story about friendship, hope, and love.

I read this book because Aimee Buckner the author of Notebook Know-How and Notebook Connections. She talks about using this book as a read aloud. It is definitely a good book to read to students. It has the perfect mix of "scary" and funny to keep the kid's interest. If you are teaching the genre of fantasy this is a good example. While reading out loud you can use different voices for the goblins. Each chapter leaves you with suspense which makes you want to keep reading. Bruce Coville has several good books. This book introduced me to a new author.

I don't remember where I got this book recommendation, but I am so glad I read it. This was the book I also did my book trailer on. Again this was a book inspired by the author's visit to Africa. She works with Save the Children. It is about a thirteen year old girl named Clare who has suffered the loss of her mother. Her father is a missionary doctor and they go to Malawi for several months where he will work in a rural hospital and she will attend the local village school. She is so angry with her dad that when they arrive she gives him the silent treatment. This story not only engages the reader, but teaches lessons about life and gives the reader an insight to what conditions in Africa are like. A MUST READ for any student.

This is my first attempt to making my own book trailer and also loading a video. YEAH!

What books have you read? Do you have any tips for using book trailers with 5th grade?

Monday, July 15, 2013

Advanced Writing Institute

It has been a week since I have been able to post, but I was busy with the Advanced Writing Institute.  Two summers ago I was fortunate to be a part of the Coastal Savannah Writing Project. It was an amazing experience and this year I was able to be a part of the Advanced Writing Institute. It was an advance course for previous participants incorporating a digital technology to our writing. The opportunity to collaborate with other teachers who have the same passion was worth all the hard work. Each teacher shared a piece of technology they had used in their classroom and we turned one of our writings into a digital piece. Some ideas I was familiar with while others were new. These were some of the ideas teachers shared.

  • Piclits.com - PicLits.com is a creative writing site that matches beautiful images with carefully selected keywords in order to inspire you. The object is to put the right words in the right place and the right order to capture the essence, story, and meaning of the picture.
  • Blabberize.com - On this site you can make a picture talk by recording sound. (I did a previous post on this)
  • iBooks - This is an amazing app that allows anyone to create any kind of book- for iPad. You can create it on a Mac and preview on an iPad.
  • iMovie - Allows you to create your own movies. This is great for book trailers.
  • Animoto- This is another site that allows you to create and share videos. Also great for Book trailers.
  • comiclife.com - Lets you create comic.
  • docsteach.org - This is a wonderful site where you can create lessons using historical documents. It has a bunch of resources for teachers.
  • Photo Story 3 - Photo presentation for Windows. Another good site for book trailers if you do not have a Mac.
  • Goanimate.com- You can create animated lessons for your class or a viral video.
One of the biggest things that I have learned from my experience at the Institute is that as a teacher of writing, I consider writing to be one of the most important things I can do with them. I need to put myself in their place on a continual basis so that I more fully understand what I am asking them to do.

This is very important in all that we plan for them to do. Create your teacher model. How can I know what difficulties they face if I don't face them, too? How will I know what strategies to suggest if I have not tried them first? How will I know the joy that they experience when they are genuinely pleased if I have not felt the same joy?

Professional Development is so important in being the best that we can be no matter how many years experience we have. Whether you attend a workshop, conference,  institute, or read professionally it helps in energizing your profession. We all need to be energized!

What Professional Development have you enjoyed?

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Language Arts Mentor Text

Someday by Eileen Spinelli is a precious mentor text to use for language arts. I came across this book at a Scholastic Book Fair and immediately I could see a writing lesson.

It is a simple book written in free verse poetry. This book could be used at any grade level. It depends on where you want to go with it. I used it with 4th grade and 3rd graders in my school used it as well. This book makes you feel great about the possibilities about growing up.  But most importantly, it leaves you glad about what you are doing right now. We all have dreams about what we will be doing someday no matter what age we are.

Someday would also make a great book to use for a community unit. This book has endless possibilities if it speaks to you. I think it is key that a book speaks to you in someway and then you are able to pass it along to you students.

We wrote books and used Student Treasures to publish them. They were a wonderful company to work with.  A student of mine used Someday as her inspiration. It was precious and her voice was all through it. The quality is not great because I scanned it, but you can get the idea.

Isn't it precious! The 3rd grade class did a class book and each student had 1 page with their dream. Sorry I don't have any samples of those, but it was an adorable class book .
I'm attaching some documents for you to use if you'd like.  A comparing and contrasting graphic organizer, a search for adjectives and verbs, and an organizer to write their own poem. You can create what fits for your classroom. The possibilities are endless!


Head on over to see Collaboration Cuties they have wonderful posts and link ups to several great mentor texts. You will enjoy all they have to offer!

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

More Summer Reading

I just listed 3 professional books I recently read. Now this is my current children's books.

My Children's Book Stack

I wasn't so sure about this book, but once I started it was hard to put down. I loved the suspense and it is a great book to use to teach inferencing about characters. I chose this book because I read Steven Layne's book Igniting a Passion for Reading another must read (for teachers) and thought I would give it a try. I admire an author that can write for teachers as well as students.

This book was on the 5th grade reading list for one of my neighbors. I loved it and Dan Gutman has several great books. What kid wouldn't love to have a homework machine! There are some funny parts. The way it is written is perfect for reluctant readers because it is broken up into different personal narratives about each character and their involvement with the homework machine. Also it is the perfect springboard to talk about friendships and how many times we judge a book by its cover (a person) and friendships are about getting to know the person. Sometimes what we perceive on the outside is not what is on the inside.

Summer Reading

I am one of those teachers that LOVES to READ! I read a lot of professional books and magazines, but   I enjoy children's literature the most. It's not to say that I don't read adult books, but because of time I read mostly kids. I do this because I love to be able to talk about books with my students and I also want to be able to recommend books to my students. Since I am moving to 5th grade next year it seems like I have had to make a small leap. Thanks to the world of blogging I've been able to get some good recommendations. Also the kids in the neighborhood are a great resource as well. Here are a few books I have finished.

My Professional Book Stack

This book encompasses the Reading Workshop Approach. Many books are filled with only theory and that is great, but I am often left with O.K. what do I do in my class now? This book not only gives you information on comprehension theory and instruction, it also gives detailed steps to help acquire the strategies to help with comprehension. There are also mini-lessons provided to help integrate comprehension instruction into your everyday reading lessons.

This book has great ideas in setting up your writer's notebook. Aimee is a 4th grade teacher and it is wonderful to have the perspective of someone who is in the classroom. I enjoyed this one so much that I also read this book.

Monday, July 1, 2013

New Design

Summer gives me a chance to catch up on so many things I have wanted to do all year long. This summer I'm working on getting a little more savvy with technology,  blogging, preparing for a new school, a new grade, and sending my first born to college. The world of blogging is amazing and the people you meet along the way are incredible and so willing to help. I am enjoying this! Thanks to my new blogging friend Vanessa from Kinder Loves Graphic Studio I have this new blog design. I just love it! She was amazing and so helpful in my journey as a teacher blogger. Vanessa is so talented and helpful.  She would ask questions and because I'm a newbie (at blogging) my answer was usually "I don't know" or "I'm not sure how I got that there". She was so patient and I'm so appreciative of her help. I have a whole new appreciation for my students and how they feel when they are faced with new challenges.  It can be scary. I'm hoping to do my first link up soon and I promise to try something new or write a post at least once  a week!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Library Thing

I came across this website www.librarything.com. LibraryThing is an online service to help people catalog their books easily. It is great. I have so many books and each year I struggle with how to keep track of my books. This is a great place for me. It is free for the first 200 books that you catalog. After that there are different membership options. I like that I am able to locate just about any book I have. I haven't quite figured how I will use it in my classroom, but it certainly allows me to keep track of my books. It is also a great way to read book reviews and review books for authors.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Wonder by R.J. Palacio

      I was in Sam's Club and this book caught my eye. Being that I am moving to 5th grade next year, I figured this would be a good book to read in hopes that I could recommend it to my students. I had no idea it was a New York Times best seller.  Well, it turned out to be a GREAT book in so many ways. Not only was the book heartwarming it was filled with many teachable moments. It address such issues as identity, appearance, acceptance and bullying. This is a great book to use to follow characters into meaning. It will allow students to go into a deeper comprehension by inferring and analyzing the different characters and how they react to the main character, Auggie. There are several resources out there and I would suggest to read the book and then find or create resources that you could use in your class.
     My son is in 6th grade and I encouraged him to read it. He read it in 2 days and commented that he would never look at people and the world in the same way.
     How have you used this book in your class?

Friday, June 7, 2013

End of Year

"Trust in what you love, continue to do it, and it will take you where you need to go." 
 - Natalie Goldberg 

      My dream has always been to be a teacher and for the past 18 years I have been one. As each year passes I reflect on the things my students have taught me. This is the amazing thing about teaching. You end up learning just as much about yourself and life as the students you teach. This gives me the ability to continue to grow in my profession. I am incredibly grateful to the students, families, and staff at Blessed Sacrament School. You have left your footprints in my heart.
     I will be making a change to my parish school next year. I will continue my vocation in Catholic Education. I will be teaching 5th grade and have a new challenge ahead of me. My passion is in reading and writing, so this summer I will be reading books for 5th graders and I will also be attending the Advance Writing Institute with the Coastal Savannah Writing Project. I hope to post book reviews and anything new I can share with the teaching community.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Blabberize Poems

My students loved this project. They picked their favorite poem or wrote their own poem and illustrated it. Then I scanned their pictures and uploaded the pictures to www.blabberize.com (it's free) and recorded them reading their poem. Check it out! They were so proud and I love hearing their sweet voices.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Teacher Moment

This year I implemented Reading Workshop and my students have so enjoyed reading. They are inspired to read and love sharing books with me and each other. I had a student who always had trouble finding the right book. Well, now he finds his own books as well as recommends books to everyone. He ALWAYS wants to share what he reads. At the end of a crazy day, this is what I found on my desk. He usually reads chapter books, but now he enjoys reading whatever he can get his hands on. This is an AHA moment for a teacher. It brought a smile to my face!

Published Books by Students

My student's books came in and their excitement was incredible. I think they could actually see themselves as writers. A little over a month ago, my students started to write their own books. Some students (mostly boys) wrote ABC book, others used mentor texts as inspiration, and some just had an idea they ran with. We used Student Treasures to create the books and their success was by far worth all the work. My students received their original hardbound for free and if they wanted to purchase a copy it was $19.95. The catch was that we needed as a school to have at least 80 participate. 6 classes did class books and the fourth grade students did individual books. I will definitely continue to do this project. After doing it once, I learned ways to make it better next time.

Student sharing with her classmates

Authors with their books!

Monday, April 29, 2013

I Wish Poems

What a crazy time of year! I haven't been good about keeping up with this blog, but I'm going to try to be better. April is poetry month and my students have been writing some great poems. The wish poem idea came from pinterest. (What did we do without this years ago?) Some students made a list of wishes, while others took one wish and expanded on it.  Here are a few. I even had one of our former teachers and sub do we she enjoyed it just as much as the kids.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Biography Wax Museum

I'm so sorry it has been so long since my last post. We had testing, conferences and in between we are getting ready for an Accreditation visit. We managed to have our Biography Wax Museum and what a success! The students loved coming to life and the parents were so impressed with how much the students learned. This project took well over a month, but the students really learned how to keep organized and were so prepared in the end. Here are a few photos of some of the famous people present.

Claude Monet

J.K. Rowling

Lucille Ball

Albert Einstein

Anne Frank

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Diocesan Institute Conference

This past week we spent three days in Columbus, GA with teachers from the Diocese of Savannah. It was a fantastic way to get recharged. The conference was filled with breakout sessions that inspired you to continue something that you are doing or to inform you about the new demands of education. Our keynote speaker was Mary McDonald she was amazing. She did a fabulous job in reminding us that we are the 'Hands of Christ' and to continue in our mission as Catholic educators. Her stories were inspiring and her message up lifting.  Just what was need to get through testing the next couple of weeks and to finish out another school year with continued enthusiasm.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Valentine's Day

Yesterday for Valentine's Day we used Laura Chandler's fraction math. The kids were very excited, so it was the perfect way to still do math and enjoy the holiday. We made compliment Valentine's Day bags and it was special to see how sweet they were to each other and to me. Unfortunately, I was not able to find white bags, so we used brown but the idea was priceless. It was a great day for all of us.

We put our Valentine's in these.