Sunday, February 12, 2017

Valentine's Day Poem and Homework Pass FREEBIE

Hello Fellow Procrastinators, 
 Anyone out there? I know lots of my teacher friends have their Valentine's Day preparations all wrapped up and perhaps have for some time now.   Me...not so much. 
With two days to go, I am just now digging around and have found a 
file that included a poem and follow up. Perfect for our "Read with Partner" Station Round .

 Then it got even better when I found an old Homework Pass to give to my sweeties. No need for a goody bag, I'll tape a new Vday pencil to it and I'll be set! 

 I thought maybe there would be one or two last minute planners out there so I thought I'd share out. 
You can find this set in my TPT Store. Click the link below. 

Saturday, January 28, 2017

It's Winter! Let's Write a SNOW Poem!

Still no snow in Virginia, but that didn't stop us from writing about it!
Last week we spent our writer's workshop time having fun playing with words as we composed acrostic poems about snow. 


At home, when we try new dinner recipes, we tell whether we think it should be a "Do Over"...whether we should cook that meal again or not.  Do you do that with the lessons you develop and teach? I do...some flop and will not get repeated-ever. Other lessons work so well, you know you'll add it to your line up again the next year. I'd say this acrostic poem idea is a "Do Over". It worked super well, it was quick and easy but allowed me to hit
SO many important reading and writing skills. All kids were successful with it and enjoyed the process. 
Here's how it ran. 
On Day One, I introduced the acrostic poem. You can probably find acrostic poem books in your school library.  We have this one: 

I gave my students an acrostic poem on WINTER to glue in their poetry journals. 
We spent day one analyzing this poem. We talked about the different kinds of words authors use. 
This led to a review of parts of speech. We circled each word that began the lines of the poem. We saw that the author began the lines with nouns or adjectives that described the nouns and noticed that the lines were all complete sentences with subjects and predicates.  We talked about the "Targets" the author hit in writing the poem - targets like "Word Choice". We found some pizzazzy words. We talked about the meaning of "eager", "stiff" and "steep" and added them to our word wall. 
We loved the descriptive language like the "trees wearing coats of snow" and "icicles sparkling like jewels".  Finally, we talked about how poetry is meant to be read aloud. We recited multiple times,sneaking in fluency practice while enjoying the sound of the words coming off the page. 

After Day One, we were primed and eager to begin writing our own poem on the topic of SNOW. 
We spent day two brainstorming possible words to use to begin each sentence. 
We took out our dictionaries for this. We were lucky enough to have the Rotary Club in our area donate a dictionary to each child earlier in the year!
This writing project gave us an opportunity to crack them open. We went to the S section of the dictionary and began our search for possible words that could start our first line. We wrote them down on the top portion of our writing sheet. 

We spent time "playing around" with different "S" words to see how they might work. We orally rehearsed  different sentences using different words from our brainstorming. 
This gave us time to experiment and play with words. I find this "rehearsal" stage is so important. I always get a better end product when my students are allowed an opportunity to talk it out first.

That brought us to Day Three. On Day Three we were ready to actually compose our lines. We talked about our writing targets first. We wanted our lines to include adjectives and descriptive language like the mentor text poem. 
Students put pencils to paper and began crafting lines. 
We will stop occasionally during the drafting stage to share a few lines. I think that gives writers inspiration. They learn so much from each other! Students listened to each other's lines and celebrated when the writer hit the "Word Choice" target.
 In this child's poem, kids appreciated words like: scraping, purchased and gliding. 

With poems composed, Day Four was spent revising and editing. We began by reviewing our Writing Targets. Then students met with their writing partners. They took turns reading their drafts out loud. 
The listener must give: Positive Praise - tell what they liked or point out what targets the writer hit. Then they give:  Friendly Feedback - give advice or suggestion on how the writing can be improved. Students revise in green pen. That way I can tell if they made improvements. 
I like to reserve a little time at the end of Writing Partner time to have students share their
"Writing Make Overs". We call it the Befores and Afters. I want kids to see that the revising stage shouldn't be neglected...we can always improve our work. 
This is a mindset message we've been working on!

Kids were proud of their poems and were ready to share them out. I had them rewrite their final drafts onto this fun hat paper. Then they got to spend time on an art project. 

 :  :

They really made them look like themselves!
Check out how this child actually braided the construction paper hair. 
Kids were ooohing and aaahhhing about that one!

 :  :

Here are the finished products! We hung them out for others to read. 


If you are interested in trying this project with your young writer, you can head to my TPT Store. 
Just click the link below to check it out: 

I LOVE connecting with other teachers!
Questions? Comments?  
Email at 
or comment below.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Groundhog's Day: Poetry, Reader's Response Booklet, Math and More!

Can you believe it is nearly the end of January??  This season is flying by. Unfortunately, it doesn't feel much like January. Temperatures reached 60's last week and should again this next week! 
I am missing winter and awaiting our first big snowfall, but am feeling doubtful that we will get it.
Maybe Punxsutawney Phyllis knows!

Image result for punxsutawney phyllis
Do you know this character? She is a spunky little groundhog who is bound and determined to take over for her uncle Punxsutawney Phil. No one believes she can do it...after all, she's a girl!
Love this little story and I know my third graders will too. 
This picture book will give us ample opportunities to work on practicing many of our third grade reading strategies. 
I've introduced a bunch of reading skills/strategies already this year. We add notes to our reading journals as we learn them. 





These sheets are so easy to use. We just slice and stick them into our journal. On one side is an explanation of the reading skill or strategy with fill in the blank notes. On the other side is a short text that students can practice applying the strategy. Sweet and simple. These printables are part of my "Cooking with Comprehension" set. You can check it out here: 

Since Groundhog's Day is right around the corner, I created a Punxsutawney Phyllis reading response booklet. 
Students will record their thinking about this book as they predict, use context clues, summarize and analyze characters. 
This along with poetry, math activities and a writing prompt sheet are all included in a Groundhog's Day bundle that I have added to my TPT store. 

                                               Click the link below to check it out...

How about you? Have you gotten some real winter weather yet? If so, I'm jealous but still 
would love to hear!
Comment below or email at

Saturday, December 31, 2016

New Years Day: Free Poetry, Writing, Math Printables

Image result for my wish for a new year

Ha...Are you all making New Year's Resolutions? I totally believe in self improvement and growth. I believe that true fulfillment and happiness in life comes from striving and stretching and growing. What I don't believe is that anyone can achieve complete perfection. I am striving to live a gentle life of  serenity, balance and contentment.  Here are a few of my favorite words for 2017:
One of the first things I have my third graders do when they return from winter break is make a personal goal that they can work towards in the new year. 
Here is some of what my students last year came up with: 
Last year I connected our study of Ancient Rome with the New Year's celebration. 
We learned that the month January comes from the ancient Roman god: Janus. 
He was depicted with two looking forwards to the future and one looking backwards to the past. 

My students then spent some time reflecting on what they wanted to focus on in the New Year. 

Students wrote and drew pictures. It was interesting hearing what they came up with. 

Here are the printables that we used for this activity. 
I am sharing them free on my TPT store. 
Just click the link below: 

Here is another New Year's bundle that includes poetry, math and more. 
I am also sharing this FREE.
Click the link below

Are you making a resolution for the new year? 
Would love to hear!
Email @ youngdor8@gmail. com
or comment below. 
Have a happy New Year!

Thursday, December 29, 2016

A Pack of Poems: Winter and Snow Poetry

We have been filling our wall with words.  Students make these posters to remind themselves of the different kinds of words we have worked with this year. It is one step in helping them become more accountable for their learning. Now instead of coming to me when they forget a spelling rule, they go to the reference wall. I love that it makes them more self reliant and independent workers and learners. 

Here is the poster we reference A LOT! Those tricky plural noun spellings. I have even taken a photograph of this one and have sent it home for parents to use when students are doing their writing
One way we review our word study patterns and rules is by playing games. Here my students
create a "board game" out of word cards and a "start" and "finish" card. Partners are given a set of word cards that they make their game with. Players role the dice and move that many spaces. The word caller lifts up the word card and calls out the word for the speller to spell on a white board. If the speller is correct, they can stay on the space. If incorrect, the caller "coaches" them on the correct spelling and the speller moves back the number of spaces rolled.

This super simple game can be played with any set of word cards and helps students get in the spelling practice that they need.

Another way that we review our word study is by Search and Find or word hunting activities. Here students are looking for examples of other words that fit a particular pattern or spelling rule. I like using our Poetry Journals for word hunts. It gives them another opportunity to read and develop that all important fluency. It also allows us to share our finds as a whole class since everyone has these poems in their anthologies 

Here students were reviewing different ways of spelling long vowels. These were the words they found in their poems. 


I have just written and uploaded a winter set of poetry to my Teacher Pay Teacher Store. 
This set includes poetry, a comprehension and word work follow up page, and poetry related math problem solving and graphing sheets. 
Click the link below to check it out. 

A Pack of Winter Poems

This set includes snow day poems. Check back for a February Edition that will include Groundhog's Day, Valentine's Day  and President's Day.
Are there other topics of poems you need or want?
Contact me @ or comment below!

Monday, December 26, 2016

Word Walls and January Vocabulary Word Wiz

Hello Friends!
We have been blessed with two full weeks off from school this holiday break. It has been truly wonderful! I spent our first week enjoying all that this season has to offer. 
Along with the fun, I have been able to find some time to finally get some of my school files organized. 
I have a wide range of readers this year, but keeping the focus on learning and applying good reader skills and strategies works for everyone no matter what level reader they are. 

All my readers seem to need more practice with monitoring for meaning. 
Do you have the kids who are great at word calling but are struggling to comprehend any of what they read? 
We call that reader a "Word Plower" in my class. Word Plowers can be deceiving. They are capable word solvers and fluent readers but they are not keeping the focus on the meaning. 

I want my readers to be more intentional thinkers. We say we want to be 3 C Readers. The 3 C's stand for "Close, Careful and Critical". Critical readers think within, about and beyond the text as they read. They give their minds time to process the words they are reading. They don't just plow through the reading. We have begun using "Think Marks" in my class to annotate text as we read. 

We are just starting with two simple ones: a checkmark for paragraphs that we are 'clicking' on. Clicking for us means that we "get it" and are understanding what we read.
If we say we are clicking, then we should be able to verbalize our understanding by answering "who" and "what" about the text
Students may also annotate the text by putting a question mark beside confusing lines or sentences. 
Students are learning that when they clunk, they need to do something about it. We are working on rereading the text more slowly, looking for meaning clues and using background knowledge. Sometimes by doing this, students can change their question marks to check marks and go from clunking to clicking. YAY! We celebrate when that happens!

We have lots of comprehension conversations at our guided reading table. It is so interesting to see what is causing my third grade readers to clunk. MANY times it is confusion over words. Their vocabularies are limited and it can cause major comprehension problems. 
I continue to focus on the intentional teaching of words during a part of my reading block. 
Here is our word wiz pocket chart where I post words, definitions and sentences.

Students record these words in their vocabulary journals.

Here are our vocabulary lanyards. We wear our words as we practice using them in meaningful ways.

Here a student showed the meaning of the word "sway" by writing the word with branches that are "swaying" in the wind. Love the way they think!

The book, Word Nerds is one of the best resources I have found that has helped me put together a fun, meaningful way to add vocabulary instruction to my language arts block. 
It is a must read!
Image result for word nerds

We are working on growing our vocabularies and are posting "pizzazzy words" on our word wall. It is filling up with words that we can use when we read, write and speak. 
This word wall makes a great reference tool for students to use. 


I have gotten questions about this word wall so let me fill you in. I used washi tape to make the grid. Super easy since you can move the tape around to get it how you want it.The banner below the board was one I found in the dollar spot at Target back in September. I glued on the letters to spell: WORDS.  I don't think you can find it there anymore, but keep checking...sometimes they add cute teacher resources in January too. 
I have added a FREE file of these oval letters along with other styles of letters to my TPT store if you are interested in using them. You can click the link below to download a set. 

 I also have uploaded the next set of vocabulary words onto TPT. You can check it out here:
Note: The words used in this set are not seasonal and do not need to be taught in January. They would work at any point of the year. They just happen to be the ones I am focusing on this month!

Questions? Comments? 
Email me @ or comment below!