Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Made it....Monday? I Pick Poster Set

Today I'm linking up with Tara over at 4th Grade Frolics for her weekly Made It Monday!

(I'm only a teensy bit late - isn't it still Monday somewhere? Maybe Guam???)
Last week as I've been completing my Daily 5  Book Study, I was really inspired by the I PICK acronym for selecting "Good Fit" Books. I want to make sure that my students will remember it, so I created this Power Point slide show / poster set for our Daily 5 bulletin board.  Of course, I wanted it to go with my new classroom theme - so I added some safari / animal print touches. However - if you decide to download it - I've left it in Power Point form so you can adjust it anyway you like.  :-)

Just click on the picture above to download it for free from my TpT store.


Monday, July 30, 2012

Giveaway WINNER!!

 I cannot believe that I've reached 100 followers in just one week......so this has ended up being a dual 50/100 Follower Giveway! Thanks again to Amanda & Barret for generously donating one of their signs!
the WINNER of a Simply Spelled Sign......
AND a gift card from either Target or Starbucks
a Rafflecopter giveaway
You'll be hearing from me soon to get your contact information and choices.  I can't wait to see what you decide!! Thanks so much to everyone who stopped by to enter - I've gotten to know some great new blogging friends. :-)

Friday, July 27, 2012

7 Key Concepts & Routines for the Daily 5 (Chapter 3)

 This section focuses on seven key concepts, routines and materials you should include to be successful with the Daily 5.  They are:
  1. Establishing a Gathering Place
  2. Selecting "Good Fit" Books
  3. Book Boxes
  4. Anchor Charts
  5. Short Intervals of Repeated Practice
  6. Signals & Checking In
  7. Correct Modeling / Incorrect Modeling
Gathering Place
The sisters recommend an open space where the whole class can meet together on the rug - even the upper grades. Ideally, this will limit distractions, and students can easily turn to talk with each other. Coming from 6th grade at a middle school, I was initially a bit hesitant about this, but then I saw a picture posted by Jana at Thinking Out Loud that helped me envision what an upper grades space might look like.  My new room currently has no carpet, but maybe I can scrounge something up.....

Good Fit Books
Investing some time up front teaching your students how to select books that are a good fit for them is a skill that will (hopefully!) carry them through the rest of the year. I love the I PICK Strategy:
I - I Choose a Book
P - Purpose (Why do I want to read it?)
I - Interest (Does it interest me?)
C - Comprehend (Do I understand what I'm reading?)
K - Know (Do I know most of the words?)
 - Jackie from An Up Hill Journey created this cute poster.

Book Boxes
Once your students have picked out their books,  they'll need a personal & portable spot to keep them-Book Boxes! These could take a few different forms from plastic tubs or large Ziploc bags, but I think plastic magazine files will work well for my students this year. Durable and reusable is good. I just added these to my budget - crossing my fingers they arrive in time!

Anchor Charts
These are large charts posted in the room that you create with your students to reinforce the ideas and routines of the Daily 5 - and make their thinking permanent and visible in the class. Here is great example from Mrs. Maiolo's Learning Site:
I wonder if we could create these together on our Promethean Board, and I could format and fine-tune it to create and order a poster.  Wall space is pretty limited where I am.....

Short Intervals of Repeated Practice
The key here seems to be starting with just a few minutes and then building up slowly over time - adding a minute or two every day. And stopping as soon as you see one student off task.  When the time is up or that "barometer student" is off task, stop the whole class and gather back together. The idea is to never let any student practice the "wrong" way. This reminds of the phrase, "Practice does not make perfect - practice makes permanent."  I'm going to have to change my ways with this one! Normally I'd just address the student individually, but I guess then they are not practicing independence....

Signals & Check-in
You'll need a calm signal for students to stop. And then once you gather together, students will self-assess how they did with a thumbs up or thumbs sideways as you go over each criteria previously posted on your Anchor Chart. (The Sisters don't recommend thumbs down since it is negative and some students thrive on that negative attention - also it is rare that they didn't do anything correctly.)  I'm realizing that I need to get some new chimes.  Here is what I had used (Tibetan chimes), but they are really LOUD.
 Any suggestions for a quieter, softer sounding chime?

Correct Model/Incorrect Model
Another concept of the Daily 5 is having students model behaviors. First, the class discusses what the correct behavior should look like (such as Read to Self), and then you'll select a student to model that correct behavior while you mention all the items done well. This next part is what I really like....    Then select a challenging student to model the incorrect way BUT then ask that child to demonstrate to the class the correct way. That might seem counter-intuitive at first, but actually makes a lot of sense.  That child craves that negative attention - so you give them a structured and purposeful way to get it, but when they model it correctly they gain some positive attention, which hopefully they'll eventually like better. It also shows that student (and everyone else) that they CAN be successful at the task. Brilliant!

Next up - the Daily 5 in Action - Launching Read to Self!
Also - don't forget to enter my 50 Follower Giveaway! You have until this Sunday, July 29th. Good luck and "may the odds be ever in your favor"!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

50 Follower Giveaway!!

I am so excited to have reached the 50 follower milestone in just a few short weeks!  I want to thank everyone for hanging with me through design changes, name changes, and a few rambles.....
So.......now it's time to celebrate with a Giveaway!
To complement your classroom or your cozy spaces where you relax at home.....
Created just for you by Amanda & Barret at
Aren't those just gorgeous?! I immediately fell in love.....
The block art is printed on premium cardstock paper and affixed directly to your choice of Reclaimed Barnwood or Painted Wood. The size varies according to length of word spelled. Typically, they measure 12 inches in length and 5-6 inches in width.
(A $35.95 value including shipping.)
For further details, just click on the links above each picture!

PLUS: I'll send you a $15 Gift Card to Target or Starbucks - your choice!
This giveaway will run through next Sunday, July 29th
and the winner will be announced on Monday, July 30th. 
Please use the Rafflecopter below to enter!
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Thanks for following me and good luck!!

Friday, July 20, 2012

Guilty Pleasures Linky Party!

Time to fess up!  I'm linking up with Ashley from  The Resource Room Teacher for her Guilty Pleasures Linky. 
Blog Title
 1. Ben & Jerry's Phish Food - Or pretty much any ice cream!  A friend of mine at school calls these "Single Serving" Cartons.  Sometimes.....yep!
2. Mad Men - Especially Joan Harris....just love her style, her hair, and her necklace pen.  Sometimes I wish we still wore outfits like that, but then I catch a glimpse of a girdle in an episode and change my mind pretty quickly!
3. True Blood - Pure, silly paranormal escapism, but I love the sense of fun.  And Eric is pretty nice to look at, too.  ;-)

4. McDonald's Mocha Frappes - These are just TOO good! Don't tell anyone, but I went through two of their promotional punch cards last summer.
5. Dancing With the Stars - My two daughters and I really enjoy watching this every season. The judges can be a bit over the top, but the dancing is amazing and now my girls can spell V-O-T-E from texting in their choices every Monday night.  ;-)
Okay...I've fessed up!  Your turn!  Head on over to The Resource Room Teacher and link up!
Also....I just noticed I hit 50 FOLLOWERS today. Woo-hoo!! I've got a great Giveaway planned, so stop back this weekend to check it out!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The Six Foundations of the Daily 5 (Book Study: Chapter 2)

Overview & Thoughts
 Chapter 2 delves into the six core foundational beliefs that are essential when implementing the Daily 5.
  1. Trust
  2. Choice
  3. Community
  4. Sense of Urgency
  5. Stamina
  6. Staying Out of the Way
According to the authors (Gail Boushey & Joan Moser), putting more trust in students is key to developing respect and positive relationships between the students and the teacher, but also between the students themselves. However, as they stress, it is vital to show them correct models of what behaviors you want them to do and give them short, repeated opportunities to practice those behaviors.  With some practice, they should be able to develop the independence they need to continue working even when they are not being actively "managed". Now, wouldn't that be great?!

Thoughts & Ideas: This year I'm truly going to embrace this and start guiding students toward more responsibilities and trust. #1 - I'm going to develop a list of classroom jobs that students can apply for. (Misty at Think, Wonder, & Teach has a great post about that here.)  #2 - I'm going to stop the intensive book check-out system for our classroom library. (I could never find time to keep up with it anyway....)  #3 - Instead of raising their hand to ask permission to use the restroom, I'm going to let them just sign out. 

Within the Daily 5, this involves selecting the order in which students complete their tasks, what they read, who they choose to read with, and what goals they'd like to focus on.  Having a choice about things within the reliable structure of the day can be highly motivating.

Thoughts & Ideas: I've always been a huge supporter of giving as much choice as possible, and I think this will appeal to my students. I also think including some magazines and other non-book reading material in their Book Boxes will work as well.

This section focused on developing a positive classroom culture where all the students know and support each other - all pulling together to help achieve their goals.

Thoughts & Ideas: Lots of ice breakers and getting-to-know-you activities at the start of the school year are great, but I also think it's important to continue those team building activities throughout the year. Last year my 6th grade team scheduled a weekly team meeting where students shared their personal successes and we gave 3-5 students awards. If you're looking for team-building ideas, I highly recommend the book Moving Beyond Icebreakers: An Innovative Approach to Group Facilitation, Learning, and Action. It's a terrific resource and has dozens and dozens of great activities for any group size and any amount of time. 

Sense of Urgency
Explaining the reasoning behind activities - the "why" - establishes an atmosphere where every moment counts and being efficient and productive with classroom time matters. By teaching students the purpose of their goals, they'll be motivated to begin right away and not let distractions disturb them.

Thoughts & Ideas: This seems rather tricky to me. Some of my 6th grade students in the past were masters at "dilly-dallying" (sauntering to find a book, get a drink, sharpen a pencil....). Perhaps with repeated practice, they'll get good at it.  I'm hoping!! 

Building students' stamina to read and work independently is a huge aspect of the Daily 5. By starting with just 3-5 minutes at first and building up over periods of practice, you should be able to guide your class toward working on their own for longer and longer amounts of time.

Thoughts & Ideas: I thought the sports analogy really hit the nail on the head - would you ever see a 7 minute soccer practice? NO! Just like any other skill, reading takes focused practice that builds over time. I've been taking my 5 year old daughter to swimming lessons during the past few weeks and I can see this in action. The first day she could float on her back for only a second with assistance, but within a week she's made it up to 5 seconds totally on her own.

Stay Out of the Way
Essentially - this means let your students build up their stamina on their own and without positive reinforcements from the teacher so that they become truly independent.  No circling around to improve behavior by proximity....no supportive feedback.....no hovering.......  Just sit and observe from the location where you will be meeting with students later on.

Thoughts & Ideas: Yikes! This does make sense, but it's also a bit scary....   Since our observations with the principal are going to increase this year with the new APPR system in New York State, I can only hope that she'll understand what I am doing!

If anyone has some great team-builders or ways to improve students' sense of urgency, I'd love to hear your recommendations!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Daily 5 Book Study: Chapter 1 (Introduction)

I'm joining in the Daily 5 /CAFE Book Study hosted by We Read, We Blog, We Teach - and just a little tardy!

 Essentially, the Daily 5 is a classroom routine developed by the "two sisters" - Gail Boushey & Joan Moser - designed to help students develop independence and lifelong literacy skills as they focus on the following five activities:
  1. Read to Self
  2. Read to Someone Else
  3. Work on Writing
  4. Listen to Reading
  5. Word Work / Spelling
I attended very brief workshop on the Daily 5 last spring and left so psyched to get started this upcoming year- and glad to finally have some back-up for what I've really wanted to do all along - LET THEM READ! I like that the Daily 5 focuses on helping students develop their own independence. Often when I did reading groups and writing conferences, I sometimes felt like I was just half-listening as I scanned the room to check on off-task students. (It seems like this is more of a problem every year, but then I may have become more lax in establishing our routines and expectations as well.)
  • Call it the "Fab Five" instead since I'm not sure I can reasonably expect students to get to all five each day within our schedule. I've also seen a few teachers do a "Daily 3" instead.
  • Include science and social studies vocabulary as part of Word Work to get more bang for my buck and be able to do another rotation sometimes during the week.
1. How will I incorporate the 3 required novels I need to teach?
2. How long will it take before I can start conferencing with individual students and small groups?
3. If students are pulled out for services during this time, how will their routine need to adjust?

Also - I'm a really visual person and like to see examples of things, so I have subscribed to the 2Sisters' site - TheDailyCafe.com.  Three months is $39 or you can do a year for $69.  Since I was new to the Daily 5 and didn't know anyone else who was doing it, I thought it was a reasonable price to get some information, and I think the videos on there are really helpful. Less expensive than a workshop for sure, and I can watch late at night in my jammies.  :-)

If anyone out there has experience with Daily 5 or CAFE, I'd love to hear what you think!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

My Old {Catholic} School

This summer, as I've contemplated my oldest daughter starting Kindergarten and my own move to teach in the elementary school, I decided to take a walk down memory lane and visit some of my old schools. First up:
St. John the Baptist - Kindergarten and First Grade

Favorite Memories:
  • Swinging on the chain-link swagged fence with my friends as I waited for school to start (as you can see....they are no longer there.)
  • The smell of the hallways - dusty wood, lemon polish, and disinfectant
  • Wearing my plaid uniform, white knee highs, and saddle shoes
  • Those giant blue pencils!
Least Favorite Memories:
  • The day our teacher told us that one of our classmates burned down their house because they were playing with matches.  (Thankfully everyone was okay.....)
  • Leaving my friends when my family moved. I was so afraid I'd forget them, I wrote their names in my new bedroom closet.
Here is the courtyard where we used to play hopscotch, four square, and feed the neighbor's dogs our lunches through the fence.  (Shhh...don't tell my Mom!) You can also see the cool little walkway bridge from the school to the administration building.  I ALWAYS wanted to go through it, but the rumor was that it was haunted.  (Ha!) It made me a little sad to see how run down it all was now that it's been closed. I think all but one of the Catholic schools in our area are now shut down.

Here is a picture of me in Kindergarten.  (No plaid dress this time apparently!)

And here are a couple things I found while rummaging through the school stuff my mother saved for me. I guess I was just "ok" at tracing! 
But....a good listener!  How much do you think this Award template would go for on TpT?  ;-)

Have you ever gone back and visited your old schools?

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Lovely and Versatile?!

Thank you so much to all the terrific bloggers who have honored me with The Versatile Blogger and One Lovely Blog awards during the last week!

Thank you to....
Stephanie from  Fifth Grade Dugout
Hilary from Fifth Grade Fancy
Teri from 5th Grade Tomfoolery
Jessica from The Polka-Dotted Teacher 
Mrs. G from Mrs. G in Grade 3

The Versatile Blogger: Rules
1. Thank the blogger who nominated you.
2. Include a link to their site.
3. Include the award image in your post.
4. Give 7 random facts about yourself.
5. Nominate 15 other bloggers for the award.
6. When nominating, include a link to their site.
7. Let other bloggers know they've been nominated.

One Lovely Blog Rules
1. Follow the person that gave you the award.
2. Link back to the person that gave you the award.
3. Pass the award on to 15 new bloggers.

Here are my 7 RANDOM FACTS!
1. I'm an avid Scrabble player - it's my favorite App on my new phone. (Username callen610 if you want to play!)
2. My two favorite movies are The Princess Bride & Moonstruck and I can quote just about every line. (But I'll refrain because that can get uber annoying quickly.)
3. I can't throw a frisbee to save my life. Seriously - it just snags on my fingers and goes flying in the exact opposite direction I intended. I almost took out my brother playing Kan Jam last summer.
4. I've never been west of Buffalo, but I've been to England & Scotland. My favorite places were The Tower of London, Stonehenge, and Hampton Court.
5. I like to create mosaics, but they take me forever to complete.
6. My parents named me after the Bob Dylan song, "Corrina, Corrina" - and almost had it be my first and middle name to honor the song. (Thank you Grandma for talking my Mom out of that one!)
7. I love podcasts! My top three are: RadioLab, Stuff You Should Know (Chuck & Josh ROCK!), and A Way With Words. I have a little voice crush on Grant Barrett. :-) 

So...although many of these blogs have already been honored by these awards, I'd still like to pay it forward and pass along a few of my favorites that I keep coming back to.
1. Runde's Room
2. Ramblings of a 5th Grade Teacher
3. Think, Wonder & Teach
4.{6th Grade} All-Stars
5. 3rd Grade Thoughts
6. Finding Joy in 6th Grade
7. Classroom DIY
8. Superlative Six
9. The Teaching Thief
10. Ms. Fultz's Corner
11. Stellar Students
12. Thinking Out Loud
13. Tales from Outside the Classroom
14. A Teacher's Treasure
15. Making It As A Middle School Teacher

Thanks for stopping by and hope you get a chance to check out some of these terrific blogs!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Animal/Safari Classroom Theme!

Linking up for Show Me Sunday: Classroom Themes and Surfin' Through Second's Classroom Themes Linky!
Since I saw my new 5th grade room last month I have been SUPER excited to add my own personal touch and create a warm and inviting learning environment for both my students and myself.  (Hey - I spend lots of time at school - I need to like it, too!) So I needed some feng shui for my 5th grade space. Since my room is mainly white and I like an "earthy" feel, I decided to go with an Animal/Safari theme! Here are a few highlights.....

My bulletin boards will have fadeless black paper with animal print trim. I like these because they look like real fur instead of just drawings.

And then I discovered a dangerous place.............Hobby Lobby!
And I walked away with these.......
(Yes - I paid for them first! LOL!)
A little touch of zebra for my desk. And a dry-erase calendar with a bit of animal print at the top..........and some stickers, post-its, binder clips, and a pair of scissors.
I also found some little bins in that other dangerous spot - the Target dollar isle.
I already have A TON of greenery from my Greek Mythapalooza days when I taught 6th grade, so I might repurpose some it as some jungle-ish accents. (The green lava lamp I've had since I was 16 and no matter what theme I have, it will always have a place in my room!)
Of course, I needed a spiffy new classroom blog design to go with my new grade and new theme, so again Misty & Erika at Honey Bunch Blog Design helped me out:

So what are your plans to feng shui your space this year?