Sunday, August 20, 2017

What I Do on Day Two: Back to School Plans

I have finally gotten into my classroom and am working on setting up! At the same time, I am getting materials ready for the first week of school. After posting about Day One, I have gotten questions about what I do one day two so I'm back to share some of those activities.
 You will see that Day 2 is all about organization and routines. The activities I choose for day two are still very directed and I am doing a lot of monitoring and will continue to recognize and record examples of students being respectful, responsible and productive. I will begin releasing control and allowing them to work in stations later in week one. I do this very gradually, giving myself time to explicitly demonstrate and reinforce good behaviors in whole group situations first. 
I think it is still key to allow lots of movement and variation on day two.  I try to keep my kids moving from  seat activities to ones on the floor and from whole group to partner or individual activities. 
Here is what I have planned: 

When they first come in, they will pick up the cover of their writing folder. We are the Wildcats so we will call this our "Roaring Good Writing Folder".  They will draw and color a self portrait. 
We will be using this page later in the morning when we get our writing folders and start working in them. This morning activity is one that everyone can do without help from me. Third graders love drawing so it should occupy them as I am taking care of all the paper work that will come in on day two.  If students finish this early, I will have a word find with everyone's name hidden in the puzzle. They will circle the names as they find them.
If you are interested in looking at the writing folder materials. You can click this link: 

We will break after morning work for a quick Morning Meeting.  I do a brief morning and afternoon meeting. It is a way to set the tone and then debrief each day.  We will do a quick greeting, review PBIS vocabulary and read the morning message. 
Then it will be back to our seats for a minilesson using one of my favorite back to school poems: 
"What's in My Desk?" by Bruce Lansky.

Before I introduce the poem, we will talk about how good readers use strategies to help them read and understand stories and books. I will tell them that we will be learning lots of skills and strategies to help us become even better readers and that we will keep track of what we learn on the CAFE board and in our reader's journals.  Students will set up their journals by placing a sticker on the front and gluing two dividers inside. Half of their journal will be for their reading notes and the other half is reserved for reading responses. 

Here is what our CAFE board looks like at about midyear. In the beginning, there is nothing posted except for the letters C-A-F-E.  As new strategies are introduced, a card gets placed under one of the letters. 
I have these cards available for a free download here: 

Now we will learn our first good reader strategy which is to PREDICT. I will have the cafe card in my reading apron along with a prop that goes with it. The prop is a plastic crystal ball that went with a fortune teller's Halloween costume. We will discuss how predicting is telling what we think will happen. Good readers look for clues to help them make smart predictions. 
We will glue our first notesheet into our reading journals. These are sheets that students simply slice and stick (cut and glue). They get glued side by side in their reading journal. 

We will fill out the note sheet and then do the practice side together. 
. I will give each of my students a dry erase paddle and marker and we will go over the rules in using them. Then it's time to introduce the poem on the smartboard. 
I will start by just showing the title and allow students to make predictions just on those words. 
Then I will display a couple of lines at a time. Some of the words will be covered up. Students will use context clues to help them figure out what the missing word might be. They will write their word on their paddle and hold it up.  We will practice inserting the words they write on their paddles to see if they make sense in the poem. I will teach them how to CROSS CHECK words. We ask: Does it look right, sound right and make sense?  I will uncover the word and then go to the next couple of lines. Students love playing "Guess the Missing Word".
This poem is actually found in my graphing set. Later in the week, we will reread this poem for fluency practice and then graph what is found in our own desks. 

Students will get the poem to glue into their poetry journals tomorrow when we practice rereading it. 
Now it's time to clean and organize our desks so they don't end up looking like the one in the poem. 
We go over desk responsibilities and I show them a desk map. They follow the map to organize their desks. We talk about how keeping a neat desk will help them be a responsible and productive student. 

Next I will give each student a writing folder. It has been set up for them with some ready to go pages  in the front that we will fill out as we go through the year and some lined paper to write or glue notes on. We will talk about how writing is just like talking without speaking. I KNOW my kids always have lots to say and's where they get to do it. 
To help give my writers topics to share about in their writing, we will all fill out this About the Author page which will become a list of writing suggestions. When my writer's say, I don't know what to write about, I can direct them to this page. They can write about a favorite place or person, sad or happy time.  No excuses! Having them complete this page will also give me valuable information about my kids. What is important to them needs to become important to me. 
I have to be able to relate to my students if I am to reach them. 

We will share some of our ideas and then we get to reading on in our book, Stuart Goes to School. 
Before reading Chapter 2, I will reread the last paragraph in chapter one and show them some items from our story souvenir suitcase that relate to something that will happen next. Students will make predictions. 

After reading we will place some "pizzazzy words" from this book onto our word wall. 
Words like "anxious" "glum" and "cheerful" describe how Stuart was feeling in this story.
These are the types of words I like to put on our chart. They are synonyms for simple words we use everyday and will go a long way in expanding students' writing and speaking vocabularies. 

After the read aloud it will be time for a lunch and recess break. 
Afternoon is spent on social studies and math. 
We will work on our unit about citizenship. Next week we will move to learning about government, but we start with a look at our school community and what it means to be a good classroom citizen. 
We will talk about what it would be like if there were no rules at school. 
This poem has lots of examples of why we need rules in schools. 
I'll reinforce the word "consequence" that was introduced in day one and we will model this word using a gesture. 
Then I'll have my students work on pulling out causes and effects from this poem and writing them on a flow chart. 

Next it's math time. 
Our first math unit is on graphing and data collection. This works perfectly for the beginning of the year.  We will conduct lots of surveys and create all kinds of  "favorite" graphs. This will help us get to know each other at the same time students will get tons of practice in making and analyzing picture and bar graphs. 
But first we need to set up a math journal. Students will split it in half like the reading journal. They will create a notes section and problem solving section. 
We always begin our math time with a problem of the day.  Students will get paired with their problem solving partner and will work on a problem about Stuart from the book we read earlier. 
Since this is our first try at Problem Solving Partners, we will discuss how to be responsible, respectful and productive during this period of time and create a chart for it. 
I will cut these problems out and students will glue just the first one into their math journals and into the math problem solving section. We will do another one from this sheet tomorrow. Students will meet with their partner and work on solving it together. 
Afterwards I will allow for math talk time and students will share their strategies for solving.
We will soon learn that there is more than one way to figure it out!
Our main math lesson is focused on creating and analyzing picture graphs. 
We will glue this note sheet into our math journals and fill out the information. 
Students have worked on picture graphs as second graders so this should be review for them. 

I'll hand out the picture frames that they illustrated yesterday and we'll create a class picture graph on how we felt on our first day of third grade. Here I will review those pizzazzy words from earlier today and use them on this graph. We will create this graph as a class and then analyze it and write sentences to tell what we can conclude from the data. 
Far Out Facts: Addition Strategies and Cards

I will reserve part a short amount of my time to fact fluency. Having automatic recall of the basic facts will help free up my students' minds so they can focus on the hard work of problem solving.
I will quickly review the double facts and we will play a game focused on just those facts.
I keep all my games in these drawers according to the math strand.
I have these drawer signs available as a FREE resource. Just click the link below.

Math Tub Signs

We will end our day with our first BAM time. This stands for Books and Me.
Today I will go over how to pick a good fit book. 
We will sit by our classroom library where I have this display posted: 
I will have a snack to offer them today: apples. I'll show them their reading treat and I will tell them that when I went to the store there were lots of apples to pick from. Some were green, others yellow and red. The signs in the store described them. If I wanted to bake with them then Granny Smith would be a good option. But if I wanted a sweet one to eat, Red Delicious would be a better choice.  We will relate this to the picking of books. We'll talk about the different types or genres of books in our library. Then we will go through the keys to choosing a good fit book.  I will show them how our library is organized and we will discuss book expectations. 

I will give students this bookmark to color while I call table teams over to the library to find a good fit book. 
Click the link for a free download of these bookmarks.

Finally, we will end with our Time to Go Home Huddle. 
So that's what I do on Day 2. 
How about you? 

Monday, August 14, 2017

First Day of Third Grade: Lesson Plan and Resources

I've gotten many questions about what I do on the very first day of third grade. I believe the first day should be focused on just two things: relationship/community building and teaching routines and explaining expectations. It is such a shock for our kids to go from the lazy, unstructured days of summer to a day in the classroom.  I try to ease the students and myself into the year.  I want the first day of third grade to feel as relaxed and pleasant as possible.
Here's the plan:
When students arrive, they will find a piece of playdoh on their desk. They can play and model things with it....anything they want for awhile. Like a stress ball, I'm hoping it will calm their nerves and occupy them while I tend to all the clerical issues that come in that first half hour of school.  Then they will be directed to model it into something that tells something about them. I will have my example on display. I will make mine into a shoe that represents that I like to go hiking. We'll see what they come up with. They will use the recording sheet to draw a picture and then write a sentence or two about it. 
Afterwards, we will share what we made. 

Then it will be time for our first morning meeting. We will talk about our meeting time and what the expectations are and we will record them. Then it's time for our greeting. I think we will do the "KNOCK-KNOCK" greeting. Here's an example of how that goes: "Knock-Knock", "Who's There?" "Todd" "Todd Who?" "Todd Smith"  "Welcome, Todd Smith".  This will help us to learn each others' names.  
Then I will go over our PBIS system and words: Respectful, Responsible, Productive. 
I will have those  words on cards and we will do word cheers for them, define them and learn gestures for them. 
I will introduce our mascot....our stuffed Wildcat. I will tell them that he and I are on PAW Patrol and are watching to catch students who are being Respectful, Responsible and Productive. They will get stickers to put on their conduct cards.  We are a PBIS school so most students are familiar with this procedure. 

Students will practice PRRing with Pride as they go on a Classroom Scavenger Hunt with a partner. 
Students will search around the room for the  places marked on their recording sheet. They will have to read the question, discuss their answer with their partner and write it down before looking for the next place.  During this time, I will be watching my students interacting with each other and will hand out stickers for students who earn them. Afterwards we will talk about how the activity went. I will share examples of the positive behaviors that I saw and write them on the "PAW PATROL" chart. 
This will lead to our next activity. 

I will show a YouTube video that shows the book"What If Everybody Did That?"
I will introduce the word: consequence and we will discuss how our actions lead to either positive or negative consequences. Then students will get partnered again (different person). We will prepare for our first lunch time together by discussing the scenarios on our dialog cards. Students will talk with each other first and then we will share with the whole class. 
Students will write an anchor chart called: Lunchroom Lessons: Do's and Don'ts. 
Then we will go to the lunchroom and practice these behaviors as we eat our lunch together for the first time. 
After lunch, it is time for recess. The students will be ready to run and play!
After getting the wiggles out, we'll settle down for a read aloud. 
I'll introduce reading expectations and students will come to the floor with a discussion partner. 
I'll have my Story Souvenir Suitcase prepped with the book inside and items that relate to the story. We will talk about how good readers make predictions. Students will predict what each item has to do with the story. I'll read aloud and students will listen and make mind movies. 

We will read how Stuart was really anxious and worried to go to school. 
We'll make story connections and students will get a picture frame paper to draw a picture of themselves and how they felt coming to school on their first day.  We will save these pictures for tomorrow when we will create our first picture graph with them. While they draw, students can snack on some minimuffins....a food mentioned in this book. 

Finally, we will end the day playing a third grade math game- The Game of Three.

This is a super easy card game so it is perfect for the very first day of school  Students deal out an entire deck of cards.  Players will keep their pile face down in front of them and flip over two cards. The partners announce the two numbers and add them together.  The person with the greater sum takes all four cards which makes pile one. Play continues until one person has three winning piles. Then that round is over and they play again. I'll be walking around watching them add numbers to see what kind of addition strategies they use. 
We will end our day with our "Time to Go Home Huddle".   
This is our daily debrief. We will share our "roses" what we liked  and "thorns" what we didn't like about our first day. I'll give them a sneak peek into tomorrow. We'll make sure everyone knows how to get home and call it a day. 
Day Two is the day we start organizing materials and setting up journals. We get much more into the academics and work through our daily schedule. 

If you are interested in using any of the materials I use for Day One, head to my TPT store.
These materials are posted and are available: 

Let me know if you you want me if you are interested in the Model Me or Classroom Scavenger Hunt page and I will add them too!

How do you spend your first day of third grade?
Would love to hear!

I have since updated this post to let you all know that I have combined the Modeling Me, Classroom Scavenger Hunt and Dialog Bubbles into one file and have added it to my TPT store as a FREE set.
You can find it here:

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Vocabulary Journal Materials and Words for the Year

It's hard to believe, but I've been teaching young kids how to read for about 20 years! In that time I've watched my struggling readers working so hard to get the words off the page only to then look at me with confused little faces.  I can get them to decode the words but if they don't know what those  words mean, it does them no good. 
We use the word "Click" to mean that things are clicking in our brains and we are "getting the text" we are understanding what we read. 

The word "Clunk" means the mind movies are not working. Something is getting in the way of our understanding.  When I investigate further and I begin talking about the text, it becomes clear that often the stumbling block has to do with word meanings. 

For that reason,  I've come to the realization that vocabulary instruction matters in a BIG way.

Implementing a solid vocabulary routine can help give our readers exposure to words they don't always pay attention to in conversation.   Tier two word knowledge is essential if they are to have success reading and understanding third grade text. After all, reading is thinking!

 I will be using a vocabulary plan to aid me in helping my students to expand their limited vocabularies. Without a spare second in the day, I'm working on making this a manageable and workable routine.  We will again refer to these words as our "Word Wiz" words and we will spend time working on these tier two words each week. 

We will record the words, meanings, illustrations, synonyms, antonyms and sentences in our word journals. 

We will add them to lanyards so we can wear our words and interact with them during meaningful and playful practice sessions. 

We'll add words to our Word Wall so that we can refer to them and use them in our speech and writing ALL year long!
I've offered separate sets of the Word Wiz Journal and Resource Set in monthly packs in my TPT store. I've added the last set I use to my TPT store this summer. 
Here is the March set.  I stop after March due to the need to focus on review. 
Click this link to access the final set:

I've also now bundled them ALL and am offering them in one set at a discounted price. 
You can check below for the link.  

How do you handle vocabulary instruction in your classroom? 
Would love to hear!!

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Big Thanks and Classroom Decor Give Away!

Hello to all the hardworking classroom decorating divas out there!
I have seen SO many posts of creative, fun and inviting classrooms being put together
You all have inspired me so I'm headed in  to get a start on mine.   

I also appreciate the loyalty and love you all show to this little blog.
Third Grade Thinkers was voted as one of the top 100 Educational Blogs on the web.
How exciting!
As a Thank You I am partnering with Kristen and Jen from the Etsy Shop: Taking it Personally to  host a Back to School Decorating Give Away!

Kristen and Jen, both former teachers themselves, have made the decision to stay home with their young children and open an Etsy shop.  Taking it Personally caters to the needs and wants of teachers. Check out some of their products: 
Personalized Teacher "It Takes Heart" tumbler and clipboard SET

Classroom Table Dry Erase Whiteboard Circles SET OF 6 - Vinyl

Every Child Is An Artist Wall Vinyl

They specialize in super cute personalized products like these reusable Starbucks cups: 

Personalized Starbucks Reusable Cup

My favorite product that they sell are their door decals.  How awesome are these??

Classroom Door Teacher Name Vinyl

Classroom Door Welcome Vinyl

Our giveaway is this adorable "WELCOME" Door Vinyl Decal and quote.  

Entering to win this for your classroom door is super easy. 
Use the Rafflecopter below to enter. 
All you have to do is follow my Teacher Pay Teacher Store (link is below)
Teachers Pay Teachers

That's it! You are entered!  

We will randomly select one lucky winner one week from today.
The contest will close on August 17. 

In the meantime, check out Kristen and Jen's shop. 
Use the code THINK10 for 10% off with no minimum purchase.
You can also click the link below:

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Poetry in Third Grade: Poems and Questions

Happy Monday!
I have another new picture book to share today.
This one is called, Daniel Finds a Poem by Micha Archer. 

I LOVE using poetry in my classroom. I use poetry across the curriculum in science, social studies and even math. My students keep a poetry journal that they glue all our poems in and they create "mind movie" illustrations or visualizations of the poems. We generally will glue a poem or two into our journals each week so by the end of the year they leave with their own illustrated poetry anthology.

So I was super excited to find a book to help me introduce the poetry genre to my third graders this September.  In this book, a character named Daniel goes to the park and finds this sign: 

He wonders what a poem is and walks around asking the animals in the park.  
They each give their response.

The artwork is also done by Micha Archer. Just beautiful!

At the end, Daniel goes to "Poetry in the Park Day" and recites the poem he put together using all the responses of the animals he asked. 

How fantastic!  
I love that this book hits home the idea that good writers are mindful of their surroundings. These days, kids and adults too, are so distracted....too plugged into devices of all kinds that they miss all that is happening around them. Good writers slow down and pay attention to sights, sounds and feelings. After reading this story, I'm planning on taking my students outdoors to write "Poetry in the Playground".  We'll take our writer's notebooks with us to record short lines that tell what we see,  hear and feel in our school's playground. We'll come back into the classroom to share and compile our lines to write our first class poem together.  
I can't wait to hear what they come up with!
I will definitely type it out and give it to them to put into their poetry journals. 
We do a lot of shared writing in my classroom. I feel it really helps my young writers develop their skill in brainstorming, composing, editing and revising. 

I created two poetry related pages to go along with this book.  
This first one is an eye spy page. We will search and find different types of words within this poem. 
This will help my new third graders review past learning and show them how writers use a wide variety of words. 

This page can be used with any poem at all. I will keep copies of it so my students can use it for a "Wise Choice" job or for a reading center or station along with a fun selection of poetry books. 
Here's another page that I will use when we have our "Poetry in the Playground" Day. 

You can find these two forms FREE on my TPT store. 
Click the link below:

I'm also super excited to say that I've added a new "Pack of Poems" to my store. This one is the fall edition. It contains autumn themed poems and questions. Virginia teachers know how important it is to expose students to poetry throughout the year. It is included in our reading standards and is assessed on the end of the year SOL tests. I have modeled questions to align with those found on these SOL assessments. 
You can check it out by clicking the link below: 

I've also bundled ALL my poetry packs and am offering them at a super discounted price!
This set includes over 35 poems and question sets.  It is a compilation of all my seasonal poetry packs.

Check it out by clicking the link below: 

How do you use poetry in your classroom? 
I would love to hear!  Email me at or comment below. 

I am utilizing Instagram to share ideas and would love to connect with you there!
Please click the link below!