Friday, August 30, 2013

Back to School Preparations

Wow, what a crazy, busy week it has been.  I worked a full five days and there is still more to do. 
I got to meet my new third graders today during our Back to School morning. Students came to see the classroom and drop off supplies.  One of my teammates shared this idea for a Back to School Treat bag. I am offering the tag free on TPT.  
Head here to get your download:
 I set up a "Wonder Wall" for students and parents to post questions about this new grade level. I also like to use a wonder wall whenever I begin a new unit.  I simply change out the topic.  This gives me a chance to gauge students' prior knowledge and gives them a focus as we search for answers to their questions.  My new third graders have lots of questions about recess and lunch.  One sweet child wonders if she will be nervous on the first day.  We can learn a lot about our students when we give them a chance to question before learning!
 I also ran my first estimation station.  Parents and students estimated how many starbursts were in the jar. This is also an ongoing routine in my classroom. I try to change out  this station weekly to give students practice in estimating with many different units. We estimate weight, length, time, temperature, etc., etc.  It is a great way to connect math with other areas of the curriculum too.
Although I am exhausted by the work it takes getting ready for a brand new school year, I am super excited about the possibilities and the chance to get to work with these children this year. Thank goodness we have a long weekend to recharge and reenergize for our first week with students. 
So how about you?  Would love to hear about your plans for the new year. 

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Sunday's Words for the Week

The final week of summer vacation has come and gone. We start back tomorrow for a work week before students arrive after Labor Day.  Are you ready to face the challenge of a new school year? 

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Writer's Workshop: The Writing Cross Check

I love this quote about writing from Maya Angelou.
Third grade is an exciting year to teach writing.  Kids are just starting to get a sense of how powerful their writing can be. If we allow them the opportunity,  their deepest thoughts, feelings, dreams and fears will come spilling out onto the paper. I  remember standing behind a student writer whose mother had died a few years earlier.  Students were given the task of writing about their most prized possessions. Kids around him were writing about stuffed animals, video games and footballs. This little boy wrote about a box his mother had given him before she died. Oh my goodness, I still hurt for him and the tears still well up in my eyes today. Powerful stuff for the writer and the reader.  I don't think there is any part of our school day that allows students to be as expressive and as creative as time devoted to writing.
If we set up the right atmosphere for writing, students will very willingly write VOLUMES.
So early in the first weeks of school we set up and go over how to use our writing office.
We create a special folder to store our writing.
We go through the traits of writing and what a writing rubric is.

We also go over the writing cross check.  We do many shared writing pieces during the early weeks of school.  After each one I will model the cross check and we will analyze the writing together using this approach.  I want to get them to the point where I will just say or ask....Cross Check  and they will know what that entails. I wanted to add this to my writing folder so I made up a document and am offering it free at my TPT store. 
Click the link below if you are interested in a free download:

How do you foster independence in the writing process?  I would love to hear!  Please share!

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Sunday's Words for the Week

                              The perfect to-do list for the final weeks of summer break.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Sunday's Words for the Week

I had to deal with a bit of turmoil in my life this week. 
I was led once again to this solution...

The simple one word answer to all the hard questions and problems in my life.
Let me remember this.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Revised First Day of School Activity for Fourth Grade

Sorry, fourth grade friends! After hearing from some of you,  I got to work on adding a fourth grade page to the file I shared on the last post. I've revised the file so head back to my TPT store to get your free download.
Click the link below.