Saturday, December 31, 2016

New Years Day: Free Poetry, Writing, Math Printables

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!

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

A Holiday Pack of Christmas Poems

Is there anything more festive than a Christmas tree? I got this one up in my classroom and must say it was as much for me as it was for my kids. I spend most of my waking hours in these four walls, I want it to feel bright and happy. We are working on ornaments to dress up this tree. I will show those to you in a later post. I think they will turn cute! : \
I am also managing to squeeze in some holiday reading and just got a set of holiday poems written up and posted in just the knick of time. 

We worked on one about a child who became overzealous in making a gingerbread house.
I liked using this one because it hit so many of our current reading targets. 
Here is my CAFE board.  I use this space to record our reading round targets. 
We used the poem in our "Read with Partner" round. 

Some of my students need fluency work in a huge way. They will read this poem multiple times, but have fun doing it. 

Before reading, we worked on using our reading buddies to help us decode some multisyllabic words. 
Third graders need lots of work with this. 


We pulled "Eagle Eyes" and "Chunky Monkey" off the board to help us decode these two words. 
Eagle Eye helps remind us to "look closely" inside a word for familiar word parts. 
Chunky Monkey helps to remind us to break long words in pieces to help us decode or sound it out. 


After reading it with a partner, they will add it to their poetry journals. Collecting poems in a journal allows them lots of opportunities to read and reread poems again and again. 


Students are getting better at monitoring for meaning. My third graders are understanding that making a visualization or mind movie is a powerful comprehension strategy. 
Here they had to sequence the making of the gingerbread house and show how it looked in the end. They had to read closely and carefully to catch the details.


This poem told a story with a problem and solution. Students recorded their understanding of 
the story elements in their pictures. 


The next day, the students work on answering the poetry follow up. This includes comprehension questions and some word work activities. 

I love integrating math and reading, so I had my kids work on some math thinking connected to our poem. We are constantly reviewing past skills...they can't do it enough!


I have shared this set of holiday poems and math/language follow ups on my Teachers Pay Teachers store. You can check it out here: 

How are you celebrating the season with your students? 
Would love to hear!
Email me at
or comment below!

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Teaching World Geography: New VA Standards

Hello All! 
Another Thanksgiving has come and gone. What a great one it was! I've got my sights on Christmas next and am itching to start decorating. But, I'm so behind on my posting and have tons of pics to share so first things first.  
This year I have been a bit consumed with this: 

VA teachers know what this is and what I'm talking about. These are part of our new social studies standard of learning objectives. We have had a major overhaul to what we teach in the area of social studies. We no longer teach the explorers or famous Americans...all gone.  Instead our focus is on the Ancient Civilizations. 
My team decided it would make sense to begin with our geography standard. In this one students need to be able to identify the major land and water features of 5 of the 7 continents. 
We have no resources to teach these standards with, so here is what I managed to put together:  :
I decided to combine my language arts standards with this new one and have my students make a third grade atlas. We began by studying ones I got from our library and students went on an Atlas hunt during their reading station rounds. This helped me hit the language arts standard: 3.7 Students will demonstrate comprehension of information using a variety of print and electronic resources. 
From there we began looking at each of the continents and adding maps into our own atlases. 

Students used a map key to color code each feature and then cut and glue words on as well. 


Here are the landforms and water features found in the United States that our VA third graders need to know.

We took a look at photographs of these different areas around the world and then drew our own representations of them in our atlas. Students recorded key information about each one. 

Here is our European page: 

More essential knowledge: 


We use Benchmark Literacy in our county. We pulled any and all resources we could find to help support and extend learning. We didn't want kids to just memorize facts that they would later forget. 
This Benchmark Literacy book contained information about the different regions in South America and the animals that live there. I love it when I can integrate!

I got my kids on computers to research one of these physical features and collect information. 
This helped us hit our main idea and details target in reading. Students worked on asking and answering questions using nonfiction text. We have access to the Kids World Book through our library system. SO good! It gives students the ability to research all kinds of topics using kid friendly text. There is even a function that reads the text aloud to students. 

The students used a four square organizer to answer questions and then reported on their findings using this sheet: 

Each student became the expert in one of these physical features. 

We posted it here to share and for everyone to read. 


Students compared and contrasted the different landforms and shared their opinions using this "Would You Rather" writing idea. They had to justify their answer using the information they read. 

Their atlases make a great study guide and then will become a resource we go to when we work through our Ancient Civilization units.  

I've got this posted to my Teacher Pay Teacher store if interested. Check it out here:

I'd love to hear from my Virginia friends! 
Have you found good resources to support the teaching of our new curriculum pieces?
Please share! Email me at or comment below.