Monday, November 28, 2011

In November... FREEBIES!

This last week of November, I am going to start something new in writing – we are going to work on poetry! To lay a foundation for the kinds of language kids need to be using for poetry, we are going to read In November by Cynthia Rylant.

I have the text typed up and I’m going to give a copy of the text to each kid. I don’t want them to see the pictures yet. Then we’re going to sort some of the lines of imagery from the book onto this chart.

After that, we’re going to illustrate a class book. Each kid will get one page to illustrate using the details from the text and we’ll compile them into a book! This is what some of our pages look like so far.

LOL Love the scarf.
This bear cracks me up.

This text prompted a LOOOONG
conversation about the meaning of
the word 'beneath'.

Next, I want to start working on using the kinds of language we found in In November to help us create some of our own beautiful language. I’m going to divide the class into teams and give each team a picture of a December-like scene. They’re going to record the details they can observe with their five senses on this chart.

Then we’re going to practice using the details to write some beautiful lines, using language like Rylant does in In November.

This is all just prewriting to get the kids thinking about the kinds of language and details they’ll include in their poem.

Once we’ve practiced writing beautiful lines, we’re going to plan out our poems using this graphic organizer (based on the main ideas from In November, but simplified). 

Then, after we revise, and edit, we will publish on some pretty paper.

I want to do some kind of cute project-y thing with it. I need some ideas! :)

ALSO! I heart teaching elementary is having a great giveaway of the book Awakened: Change Your Mindset to Transform Your Teaching. Visit here to enter!

*Fonts from, clipart from Scrappindoodles.

Thursday, November 24, 2011


Thanksgiving is here! Thanksgiving is here! Is it bad that, in my mind, the word Thanksgiving rhymes with the word pie? Yesterday my mother and I baked fifteen pies. Fifteen. Today, I plan to eat most of them.
One more pie was still in the oven!
This morning, I woke up thinking about turkey. OK, you probably did too, but these are the two ways I was thinking about turkey today:

1. I had a dream that my mother told my boyfriend he had to eat a plateful of spaghetti before Thanksgiving dinner was served so he wouldn't eat so much turkey. Because on my brother's birthday, my boyfriend at all the guacamole & tostadas. (This second part actually happened.)

2. A memory of a Tense Turkey day in my classroom floated to the top of my brain. This is the memory.

Several years ago, my formal observation fell on the week before Thanksgiving. My kids and I were writing pieces about turkeys - "The Adventures of the Turkey," and my kids were definitely in turkey mode. I had a little girl, Sally (name changed), who had some special needs and didn't understand lots of social norms. She had spent all day acting as a turkey, gobbling and chomping her beak. She was in character.

My assistant principal came in (loudly) and proceeded to watch the lesson (with only minimal interfering). Having been formally evaluated, I am sure you know the range of emotions racing through my teacher brain - oh my God what is Jamie doing - that answer didn't even make sense - what do you mean you don't remember - sit down - sit down - sit down - no you can't have any water right now -you're making me look bad - look smarter - sound smarter - be smarter!

After an uneventful forty-five minutes (during which time, my AP was undoubtedly was able to uncover every aspect of my teaching) she rose and walked towards the back of the classroom. I began to breathe again and started to think maybe everything was going to be ok. Then...

As she passed Sally, Sally turned, and almost in slow motion, I saw her reach out and grab her leg firmly (grabbed the leg of my assistant principal - the leg which was clad in a pastel green polyester suit) and cheerfully shouted, "Turkey Leg! Chomp! Chomp!"

The class froze. I froze. My AP froze. Sally stared at her happily.

"More like a chicken leg with these skinny legs!" my AP shouted back. Everyone laughed uncomfortably until my AP left the room. Sally continued to chomp happily, unaware that she had just caused me to wet my pants. Lord. Children make me crazy.

That's the only observation I've ever had that went a little weird. Anyone else have any observation stories?

Also, Thanksgiving bonus! Here's a little number line game with an ornament theme to use in your classroom.

Grab it here.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Water, water everywhere

By the time the kids get to third grade, they usually have  a LOT of background knowledge from the investigations they've done in changes in states of matter, and from second and first grade.

That also means that they might have a LOT of misinformation filed away in their brains.

It's really important to access their background knowledge to make sure you clarify any misconceptions that they have.

There are a few ways to see what kids "know" about the water cycle - read about them below!

Step One

So first, we did a graffiti gallery walk to activate background knowledge.

I put four charts around the room with four different pictures, but no labels: a cloud with raindrops, arrows pointing towards a forming cloud, a water running down a hill into a lake, and a sun shining down on water with arrows pointing up.

The kids moved in groups throughout the room, writing what they saw and knew about the pictures. They already knew a lot!

Step Two

Next, we watched a Brainpop jr. about the water cycle.

Step Three

Then, we made these foldables!

I heart foldables :)

Step Four

This was an easy activity to do that you could use as a pre-assesment, a regular assignment, or a quiz to see if students are understanding the basic processes of the water cycle. 

Just have the kids cut out the labels for each stage in the water cycle and glue them on where they belong. Using this as a teaching moment? Have kids place them where they think they go. Then check it together so they can move them to the right spot if they need to!

This water cycle cut and paste is actually part of the free download on TpT!

In our ensuing conversations, I was enlightened about what my kids do outside when it rains.

"What's precipitation?" one of the kids asked.

"It's any form of water falling from the clouds to the earth, like rain, sleet, snow, or hail," I said.

"What's hail?" one of the other kids asked.

"It's like a ball of ice."

"Yeah," one of the kids said, "and it's a choking hazard." Dead. Serious. What the WHAT?!

I expected the other kids to laugh, but they mostly just nodded. I chuckled and asked, "A choking hazard?"

"Yup." Apparently, when it's raining my students stand outside, staring up at the sky with their mouths wide open, in danger of choking on hail.

My job is awesome.

For this folded flapbook and so many more cool activities for teaching the water cycle and weather, check out my Water, Water Everywhere Unit on TPT!

Friday, November 18, 2011


Today was turkey-licious! We spent the morning working with our second grade buddies to make these Synonym Turkeys.

My neighbor down the hall did Turkeys in Disguise. 
There were all different kinds, but these were some of our favorite.
Lady Gaga

Ben Roethlisberger

The King!
But I think this one is my favorite.
The biggest turkey I know! Our principal! 

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Turkey Day! (and tiny marshmallow dumbells)

I was going to call this post "Edible Turkey Day," until I thought about it and realized...Duh. Turkeys are already edible.

Every year, my school holds two holiday luncheons. One is for Christmas and the other is for Thanksgiving. For Thanksgiving this year, the kids in odd numbered grades (1,3,5) have to make decorations and they can invite their parents to come have lunch with them. For Christmas, we'll switch. Usually, I end up doing wall decorations - this is easy! They can make a wreath or color something. But this year, I ended up with table decorations. I wanted something 3-D that the kids could take home with them and put on their own table, so I decided to have the kids make the same turkey I used to make when I was in school. Apparently, only a couple of them had ever done it before! So I went off to Wal-Mart and bought apples, marshmallows, toothpicks, paper plates, and gumdrops.

First, the kids colored some leaves and cut them out. They glued them to cover the bottom of a plate. Then they took an apple and made it into a turkey. Super simple, but Kids. Love. Marshmallows. In the middle of the toothpick-marshmallow madness, from the other end of the room, I heard one of the kids grunting, as in 'lifting a heavy box' grunting, or 'struggling to change a tire' grunting. Glancing over, I saw Abraham (name changed) straining and groaning to lift...

his tiny toothpick-marshmallow dumbell. Lord. Maybe it's the long hours, but I started to giggle. And once I started I couldn't stop! I think I laughed about that little dumbell for about twenty minutes. Not normal.

So anyway, this is how the turkeys turned out.

 The kids were super excited and I think I answered the question, "Can we eat it?" about fifty times. I also averted two turkey mohawk disasters and caught one little guy licking, "But I'm not eating it!" a marshmallow. (I think my favorite part is the little feet we had to add on so they would balance upright. They look like they're wearing little turkey shoes! :)

Also, guess what?! The 5Ws cube I uploaded the other day wasn't quite square on each side! I tried it out myself today and was a little disappointed with the dimensions. I uploaded the new and improved file and everything should be better now. In case you'd like it, here it is.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Reading: Character Study & Guided Reading Freebies

So, I've been a little (lot) nutty today and I spend a little (ton of) time updating some of my files and making them more interesting to look at. This one is a character study organizer that can be used when you're looking to identify character change caused by a turning point event. Take it if you want it! Please just comment to let me know. :)

My character study strategy minipack is available on TPT - full of tools for teaching students to analyze characters! Download the preview for two printable anchor charts and to see what's included in the product!

Also, here's my guided reading chart - I got the idea from my friend Judy who has kids color in their reading levels as they reach in another level, and I just typed it up. It's a nice motivator and a way for kids to be accountable for their effort and growth during guided reading. (Based on DRA reading levels)

Guided Reading Freebie Pack
This tracker is part of the freebie! Check it out on TPT!

Reading Stations

I have never done stations before, because I taught fourth grade and I used the reader's workshop independent time to build stamina and strategy in their independent reading. But this year, with third graders(!) I have had to change things up! I have initiated eight stations. Please look at them, take what you want, and give me suggestions! Soon, I'll add pictures of the stations so you can see what they look like in the classroom!

You are welcome to any files linked here, but please oh please comment and tell me what you like and what you've downloaded! I would LOVE to know they have helped someone in their classroom!

I have two classroom computers. On the computers, kids listen to a fiction story from Storyline Online. Then, they fill out a graphic organizer (such as the one below) about the fiction story. These are all organizers we have used before. Sometimes I will use different maps or organizers to reinforce a concept we have learned during our shared reading, such as the Character Study Map from a previous post.

Fiction Story Map

Fiction Story Map - directions

Word Study
In the word study station, kids engage in different kinds of word work. So far, they have worked on identifying VC, CVC, CVCC, anc CCVC patterns in words they find in their independent reading book. I recently added a file folder game about R-controlled syllables, and next, I am going to add word ladders from Timothy Rasinski. We have practiced them as a whole class and students are excited to be able to manipulate words on their own in the stations.

Daily Word Ladders by Tim Rasinski

Sentence Building (Writing)
As a class, we have practiced using different parts of speech to create a basic sentence structure. We made a couple of foldables to practice these sentence structures (pictures to follow soon!). In the sentence building station, students practice creating a sentence using different parts of speech. There is a basket of bags. Each bag has a different part of speech in it (Nouns, Verbs, Adjectives, Articles, Adverbs, and Prepositions). Most of the cards I purchased from the Dollar Tree on little sentence strips. Students combine the cards (and fill in endings with a marker) to create a sentence. When they're done, they add the sentences in their Language Study Notebooks. Then they can make a foldable we have practiced.

Students have weekly spelling words that follow several different patterns, as well as a few sight words they need to learn. For example, last week, patterns included -an, -am, -ance, and -ant. At the spelling station, students sort the words into patterns and then build the words with magnetic letters on the metal side of my teacher desk. If time permits, they then quiz each other on the words on dry erase boards.

Fiction Response
In the fiction response station, students read a fiction book together. I try to make sure the genre of the fiction book is the same as the one we are reading in our shared reading so students can connect to the structure and elements. After they are done reading, they discuss with a buddy about the questions on these cards.

Fiction Response Cards
Nonfiction Response
At the nonfiction station, kids preview, predict, and read an article together. Then they record information they learned on this organizer. I have been working on encouraging kids to use nonfiction features (captions, maps, diagrams, etc.) to learn information, so I included the "I learned this from..." line so they can indicate what feature they learned the fact from.

For the past couple weeks, we have been practicing identifying the 5Ws in nonfiction. To reinforce this in the station, I am adding this 5Ws cube (Idea from Amy Lemons: Step into Second Grade! I just modified the sides of the cube to include the cues we have talked about to remind us of the meaning of each 'W') Kids can roll the cube and answer the questions. To build the cube, leave tabs on the sides to glue together.

5Ws Cube

Poem (Fluency)
As a class, we have a poem that we read for fluency. (In the past, it's been a weekly poem, but it's stretching out to a couple of weeks this year.)We identify language conventions used in the poem and mark them in our language study notebooks. We practice these skills daily (including grammar, capitalization, punctuation, spelling patterns, etc.). At the poem station, I have a poster-sized laminated copy of the poem. Students read the poem with their partner with fluency. Then, using vis-a-vis, students mark nouns, verbs, words following syllable patterns we have learned, and interesting punctuation marks. Then students mark the same noticings on the copy of the poem in their language study notebooks.

School Library
Self-explanatory! Kids grab their library card and go to the library! They are reminded to use their three-finger rule to choose "just right" books.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Math Stations Freebies!

Well, the luster of my first post has worn off, and I have spent all early afternoon playing with my header image and customizing fonts and colors (as I mentioned previously, due to my addictive personality). I am clearly going to cause myself issues because of this.

So I have the Real Housewives playing in the background (something that requires no attention at all), and I am preparing myself to post about content. After viewing everyone's super cute stuff, I took my boring-looking math stations (only three at this point) and made them cuter! All of my stuff is bee themed, because bees are my favorite. So I bee-d them up a little and am sharing them with you now!

I use them in Smart Pals (they're clear pockets - you can place a paper inside and write on them with dry erase markers) but you can just have multiple copies. The Comparing Numbers station requires dice, the Addition station requires cards with single digit numbers on them, and the Subtraction station requires large and small number cards (included in the printable station).

If you download them, please leave me a comment! Thanks! :)


I am so excited! I have never blogged before! I am trying to get started and my boyfriend is sitting next to me, watching Fringe. Instead of being supportive, he is chuckling madly, asking, "You named it Buzzing with Ms. B? Really?" I calmly informed him that I was SUPER excited to start blogging after addictively browsing through other teacher blogs for the past couple weeks. "Yes," he said, "But why 'Buzzing with Ms. B?'" "Because bees are cute and they're my favorite," I responded. "Because my classroom is full of bees and I keep looking for more ideas to make it more full of bees!" "Because you're crazy," he said. 

This, unfortunately, is not contestable. I probably am crazy. Why, when I am already staying at school every day until 5:30 or 6:00...or 6:30 (when I'm feeling extra crazy), would I decide to add more responsibility for myself and start a blog? Because it's so darn cute! Because I've been glued to Amy Lemons' blog for a few weeks since my second-grade friend introduced me to it, and because now all I want to do ever is look at cute teacher stuff! So now I'm stuck. I'm blogging, or trying to, anyway, and we'll just see how it goes.

This is Fernie and I at our district's 50s themed Teacher of the Year banquet in May of 2011.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...