Friday, December 12, 2014

Five for Friday Link-Up, holiday style!

This week has been insane. I think I've overestimated how much I can fit into a day. Apparently, it's only about 16 hours worth of stuff, not the 28 hours I'm trying to squeeze in. It turns out, I am an ordinary human, like you. I'm not Wonder Woman. I'm kind of depressed to find this out.

Anyway, these pictures represent some of the things I've actually managed to accomplish this week. As you can see, Christmas is kind of a big priority.

This is our little library book tree! My librarian buddy and I made it out of boring reference books :)

And these are our Poet-Trees! We typed up poems on ornaments and copies them onto construction paper. Then we decorated each ornament with glitter paint and hung it out the tree. We made three trees: Grades 3 - 5, English for grades K - 2, and Spanish for grades K - 2. When the kids come to the library, they can choose a poem from the tree and keep it!

On Wednesday I met with my Harry Potter book club. We meet once a week to read Harry Potter and do some fun stuff. This week, we finished our bookmarks with glitter paint!

This is our little book tree in the library! 
 Each year, my school has a family night for the faculty. My dad has played Santa for the last two years - he greets the kids, does some ho-ho-ho-ing, and hands out the gifts the parents have brought for their kids. I always get my little brother a gift from Santa. He's 18 years old, and he's about 9 inches taller than our dad. So this, to me, is hilarious.

My hunnybun is a photographer, and he needed some holiday photos for backgrounds. So he took pictures of our Christmas tree! I love our tree. It's blue and silver and old-fashioned-y.

 Head over to DoodleBugs to check out the other Five for Friday posts or to link up yourself!
Pin It

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Fa La La La Link Up: Holiday Freebies

It's the most wonderful time of the year! I'm not being sarcastic. I know you are tearing your hair out with kids who are hopped up on sugarplums and candycanes. They're chanting, "Presents, presents, presents!" They're declaring in a shrieky voice, "IT'S CHRISTMAS!" and demanding elves that wreak havoc in the classroom. 
But I LOVE it! It's also the time of hot chocolate with marshmallows, baking up a storm and family (like little baby nieces coming to visit me). 

To help you with your crazy holiday-ness, I'm linking up with Primary Powers to offer a fun Christmas freebie! 
Deck the Halls: long vowel/short vowel sort.
 I hope it makes the last days of school a little merrier, a little brighter, and a little more manageable! Check back at Primary Powers to grab all the other fun holiday freebies!
Pin It

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Cyber Monday Blog Hop Stop # 8


I'm so excited to be part of Primary Powers Cyber Monday Blog Hop! This hop will illustrate some great ways you can use GoNoodle in your own school! You've started at stop # 8, but if you'd rather go back to the beginning, you can click here!
At my school, I am responsible for giving professional development on a regular basis. Our teachers are a fun, engaged faculty who approach learning with a positive attitude (as teachers should!) But sometimes, we've got a lot of content to learn and it can be a little less than exciting.

To spice it up, we try to include engaging strategies and fun team-builders. We've done several different things to build team; scavenger hunts and puzzles, games and challenges. But the easiest way to get our teachers to have a little fun, get moving, and get their brains working during several hours of hardcore learning has been GoNoodle

And that's why Primary Powers is hosting their GoNoodle event! We want to share the benefits of using GoNoodle with other teachers so they can see the impact it can have on their classrooms.

I had heard about GoNoodle for a couple of years, but I finally got to experience it in Vegas at the GoNoodle booth at the TPT conference. GoNoodle, in case you haven't seen it, is available for free. It is a set of brain breaks to help kids wake up, maintain focus, and get engaged in what's going on in the classroom! 
Cheryl and I GoNoodled and it was actually pretty fun!

So when I got back to school, I wanted to share it with my teachers! I signed up for my free account and chose a fun GoNoodle that I thought teachers might enjoy. During our back to school inservice - a full day of heavy duty learning - we projected the video on the big screen and danced with our teachers. 

We did one of the Zumba kids videos - it was pretty hilarious. We thought we looked like this:

But we really looked like this:
It provided a nice break and some laughs for our teachers, to help them focus on the next round of training! The next week, one of the teachers asked if I could help her set up a GoNoodle brain break for her kids as a reward for working so hard during the day! What a great way to turn the learning into a tool for the classroom!
Starting on Cyber Monday, GoNoodle is also offering all Primary Powers readers 30% purchases from the GoNoodle Shop through December 8! Use the code POWERS30 at checkout to receive the discount PLUS a special gift from GoNoodle and Primary Powers. In addition to new t-shirts, tumblers, and other goodies for GoNoodling teachers, you can purchase affordable, pre-wrapped gift packs for students to bring a little GoNoodle love to your classroom this holiday.

But wait! There's more! (Don't you love it when infomercials say that? You know there's not really that much more. But in this case, there is.)
To celebrate our Primary Powers & GoNoodle partnership, we're giving away some cool GoNoodle swag! My giveaway item is a classroom set of GoNoodle tattoos! How fun is that?!
  Enter the giveaway! Be sure to leave your email address so we can notify you if you win!
a Rafflecopter giveaway  

And now...let's keep hoping! Each blog will have some more swag you can win, and at the end you can enter to win a year's subscription to GoNoodle Plus!! :) Head over to Stop 9 at First Grade Smiles to see how she uses GoNoodle and enter to win some fun swag!
Pin It

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Movie Themed Bulletin Boards and Displays!

I love a good theme, don't you? Two years ago, my school did a camping theme for our Camp Read-A-Lot Family Night. Last year, we extended our theme - Reading is Our Super Power - into bulletin boards, our Family Night, and our 25 Book Campaign. This year, we're having a BLAST with our latest theme! Movies! 
Now Showing: Featured Favorites

To start our year off right, I made this display in our glass display case in the front of the school. I took pictures of the teachers with their favorite books and asked them to write about why that book was their favorite. I added the little stars and copies of the books to the inside of the display.

Pop Into the Library and Read a Good Book

My librarian buddy and I made this book recommendation board outside the library. We added covers of books that have been made into movies!
Lights, Camera, Read!

This Book of the Month board is a simple display that I update each month to feature our new schoolwide book of the month! It's hard to read the letters in this picture - they read "Book of the Month."
Meet the Reading Stars of the 25 Book Campaign

Here's our 25 Book Campaign Wall! We recognize the students who participate in the 25 Book Campaign each month!
Roll Out the Red Carpet for Literacy Night

And this display features the student products and pictures from our Fun Family Literacy Night: Roll Out the Red Carpet for Literacy Night.

Pin It

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Roll Out the Red Carpet for Literacy Night, Movie Style!

It's Saturday morning and I am absolutely beat. I've fitted my tush into the grooves in the couch and already zoned out to two episodes of LAw and Order SVU (both equally traumatizing). I'm on cup of coffee number one, about half-coffee and half-cinnabon flavored creamer. The season is changing into the time of year where I will eat anything with a Halloween/turkey/Christmas wrapper, anything cinnamon, anything brown sugar, anything apple or pumpkin. 
I plan to spend the next three months being incredibly nostalgic.
One school event we host every fall is our schoolwide Literacy Night. 
I LOVE Literacy Night. In the week leading up to it, I am a psychotic nutjob, creating, copying, 
cutting, stuffing, stacking, and shopping. 

The day of I compulsively organize and tape, set up, and assign. And the day after I want to crawl into a little hole and sleep for a month. 
This is what we did for our Literacy Night this year, which was movie themed. 
The day of Literacy Night, some of my awesome teachers helped me hang up butcher paper "curtains" and roll out a "red carpet" of butcher paper and black masking tape. We decorated the doorway to the gym and the doorway to the cafeteria; both of these locations were hosting events.

When kids arrived at the front doors with their parents, they received a bag with a bookmark with reading tips, their reading pledges, and a ticket with the time marked on it "movie showing" in the cafeteria. Each student received a free book, too! 

Every single person also received a ticket for a free bag of popcorn! Our lovely office ladies popped and bagged 400 bags of popcorn earlier in the day!

After they collected their popcorn, our guests could move through seven different and fun stations to practice important literacy skills in speaking, listening, reading, and writing!
Puppet Buddies

In our puppet buddies station, kids and parents listened to Curious George Goes to the Movies read aloud and created puppets of George and the man in the yellow hat to retell the story.
Actin' It Up

I wrote a couple short Reader's Theater scripts for two parts. One of them (for the big kids) was Red Riding Hood and the Wolf, and the other was a little story of a mother duck and her baby duckling. The kids and parents got to make a little headband with their character on the front, and then they read the play with the two parts.
Sight Word Pop

This one is a classic! Like the Bang Bag activity for sight words, families made a paper bag full of sight words and cards that said, "Pop!" They took turns drawing cards from the bag and reading the sight words. If they drew a card that said, "Pop!", they had to put all their cards back.
Concession Stand Creations

This station was made into a contest. Students received a piece of white cardstock and used it to create a candy bar wrapper of their own creation. Then they wrote their name and grade on it and put it in a stack with other wrappers from their grade level. 

The next day, we judged the entries, chose a first place winner from each grade, and gave them a fun popcorn tub full of snacks, a book, and a deck of cards for a family night!
Lights, Camera, Read!

This is the easiest station! Our stage had been decorated with stars and gold fringe for an awards celebration we'd had the week before, so we didn't have to decorate! We just set up cozy furniture, rugs, and lamps, and let kids and parents choose books and read together!


At this station, teachers read aloud the story, Amelia Makes a Movie. Then the students used a cute storyboard format to "make" their own movie!

Movie Night
This was the biggest challenge to set up. 
The week before Literacy Night, I stuffed little zip plastic bags with food that has holes in it! Fruit Loops, pretzels, lifesavers, and a cookie with a hole in the middle. Each student received one bag and a length of yarn that the kids could make into a "Movie Snack Necklace." How fun is that? 

My wonderful hunny, who does video and photo for events, helped me create a fun movie with previews to watch. I used book trailers I found on youtube and he created a cute screen before each one that said, "This book preview has been approved for all audiences. You can check these books out from your school library!" After three or four book trailers, we showed our "feature presentation". It was this video of Strega Nona, read by Tomie DePaola.

These are some of the great book trailers I found on Youtube:

And these are some of the great books read aloud I found on Youtube:

Skippyjon Jones: Class Action -
Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs

We had almost 200 kids and 400 people attend our Literacy Night! We had a blast, and even though we were exhausted afterward, it's worth it to get kids and families talking about reading!
Want to host a fun Red Carpet Literacy Night event yourself? You can get the materials to host a fun movie themed Literacy Night at your own school at TPT!
 Pin It

Monday, November 17, 2014

Reader's Theater Scripts: Thanksgiving Partner Plays! *Reader's Theater Freebie!

I LOOOOOOOVE Reader's Theater scripts. They were a staple in my classroom, and I always found a way to integrate them into at least a few units throughout the year.

1. Building fluency and expression
This one's obvious. Repeated readings build fluency because our decoding becomes more automatic and we can think about expression, intonation, and phrasing!
2. Integrating content I want students to learn and recall
I love to use Reader's Theaters to build up content in math, science, or social studies! I do this by writing my own scripts that include the information that students need to learn in a story format. 
One easy way to develop your own reader's theater scripts is to adapt books. I have adapted several Magic Schoolbus books into scripts by assigning roles to each character, adding in a narrator for the backstory, or assigning the backstory to a character. It's easy to do and really helps make the content engaging and suitable for rereading!
Inspired by my students, I wrote these math Reader's Theaters: Goldilocks and the Three Angles, and Parallela and Her Wicked Stepsisters. We had a blast with them, reviewing lines and angles in a fun story!

3. Engaging students in enjoyable reading

This one's kind of DUH! We want reading to be enjoyable and reader's theater is a great way to do that! Look at how engaged these readers are!

4. Encouraging students to create and perform using their own unique skills
The first three reasons are pretty academic, but the fourth, bringing out what students have inside, is probably the most important. This story shows one of the many reasons why I love Reader's Theater scripts:
One year, I had a student who struggled to control his behavior. Let's be honest - it wasn't just one year. But that's the one I'm writing about today! He had anger issues and had seen a lot of violence in his home. He had a severe stutter, especially when he was agitated, and it was very hard to reach him. He had his positive moments, but on average, it was a struggle. Let's call him Philip.
That year, I had my students practice a Reader's Theater script I wrote for the book The Giving Tree. I love Reader's Theater scripts and frequently wrote them and used them in my classroom. I divided up the parts by difficulty and then "randomly" distributed them - it was still pretty much random, except for a handful of more simple parts that I reserved for my kids who needed something more simple to read.
Well, you may guess where this is going. When I handed out the parts, I - completely honestly randomly- handed Philip the part of the tree. Oh, my Lord. The tree. The one who keeps giving. The one who says, "Here, boy, come and play on my branches." The one who loooooves the boy so much.
So I wasn't so sure if this was a good idea. For one, he didn't seem that excited about it. I pretended like I didn't see what was wrong with it, and I said, "You're going to do a great job! Just practice, and think about what voice the tree would use!"

He did. He practiced, and practiced, and he learned those lines. And on the day we performed, after the narrators had introduced the plot, Philip opened his mouth, and in a high, loving, woman's voice, said, "Come, Boy, come and climb up my trunk and swing from my branches and eat apples and play in my shade and be happy."

No one dared laugh. The other kids looked at me, wide-eyed and wondering. We all kind of sat there, stunned, for a second, until the next reader realized is was his part to read. It was incredible. I almost cried (and I almost laughed). This script brought something out in Philip that I would never have seen otherwise. He continued the voice throughout the whole play.

So that's why I love reader's theater scripts.

This Thanksgiving, I decided to create some Reader's Theater scripts for two readers. They're suitable for partner time, such as Buddy Reading or Read to Someone. They're written specifically in two parts!
One of my good friends took the scripts and laminated them. They're each two pages long, so she used a large piece of construction paper and put the pages side by side. Each student receives a copy. 

Then she put the scripts in her Read to Someone station. Are these readers adorable or what? 

 You can grab my Thanksgiving Partner Plays at TPT.

And now, I even have Christmas Partner Plays at TPT, too! I got a little excited - love the holidays!

And if you're ready to use Reader's Theater in your own classroom, you can check out my Reader's Theater freebie! The First Thanksgiving Reader's Theater: a play for nine readers. (I used to pair up my kids or make a group of three for each part.)
Pin It