Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Spelling City Guest Post on Multiple Meaning Words

Sunny Days in SecondI'm thrilled to welcome Denise from Sunny Days in Second Grade!  If you've never been to her blog before, you're truly in for a treat!  Today she has some ideas for using Spelling City!

Denise here from Sunny Days in Second Grade.  Thanks so much to my blog buddy Sally for allowing me to guest post today. I've been working closely with Spelling City over the last few months to explore the wealth of resources available to teachers and students. I've been so impressed with everything I've found and I'm thrilled to be able to share some with you today!

Let's focus on raising student's critical thinking and vocabulary by exploring multiple meaning words. Here's a little picture tutorial that will guide you through the free content available to you!

Be sure to check out all of the other great content waiting for you at Spelling City and if you ever have any questions, I'd be happy to help the best I can. Enjoy, my friends!

Thanks to Denise from Sunny Days for sharing these great ideas!  Spelling City can be used many ways, and this is one that is useful for many, many kids at many grade levels! Of course, brain research tells us that if we add fun, the children will be more likely to learn.  Spelling City definitely adds the fun!  Thanks Denise for sharing these ideas!

Tomorrow is the Product Swap!  You may not know what "Product Swap" means right now, but by tomorrow at this time, you'll be busy enjoying ideas of loads of different, quality Teacher Products!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Common Core Standards and Some Resources

My district, like many others, will be starting to implement the Common Core Standards this year.  I've started to explore them.  I'm realizing we won't be able to follow our reading or our math programs quite as much as we used to.  Personally, that makes me quite happy, as I wasn't thrilled with either program.  I see strengths to the programs, but I also see the weaknesses.

I have been searching the web this summer, exploring all the Common Core materials I could find.  I bought the book Common Core Curriculum Maps for English Language Arts, which some bloggers of us will be studying in August.

I recently found THIS from Have Fun Teaching.  There are page sized posters for every standard, both English and Math, for K - 5.  Check it out!

If you're a Pinterest fan, I have a Common Core Pinterest board.

I'm also on a few cooperative boards including:

The latter board is connect to these blogs. (of which I am a contributor)  Be sure to check them out!

Common Core Classrooms

Common Core Kids

And, of course, there's the official Common Core website!  

I'll keep looking for more Common Core resources and sharing them.  Do you know of any good resources for the Common Core Standards?

Tell Me More, Tell Me More

Step into 2nd Grade with Mrs. Lemons is having a linky party.  You might have noticed I'm a sucker for a good linky party.  This particular one is asking bloggers to tell more about themselves.  It caught my attention because the name of it sounds like the beginning of that song from Grease!  (I'm a big fan of musical theatre!)

So, here are some things about me.
I'm not just a fan of musical theatre, but I'm an experienced actress!  I've been in close to 100 different productions, and had some amazing roles.  My first big role was Nellie Forbush in South Pacific. (It was also my first stage kiss!)  I've also played Connie in A Chorus Line, Lucy in You're a Good Man Charlie Brown, Lady Thiang in The King and I, Golde in Fiddler on the Roof, and Sister Amnesia in Nunsense.

Here's a video from when I was in You're a Good Man Charlie Brown.  (I'm Lucy in the blue dress... sorry, the sound quality is terrible, but it was a super fun show!)

And from the same show, our finale... this is a great song!

Here are a couple of pictures.. this is my character Sister Mary Amnesia from Nunsense, singing a "duet" with "Sister Mary Annette" called  So You Want to be a Nun?  This show was particularly funny for me, since I went to Catholic school many years ago.  It was very special to me since it was an ensemble cast... only 5 women, and one of them was my daughter.  (She played Sister Leo, the novice who wanted to be the first nun-ballerina.)  Shows with ensemble casts have always been my favorite, since everyone matters, there are no egos.  These casts tend to be particularly close, which makes it even more rewarding.

This last one actually appeared in a blog post not that long ago.  This is Golde from Fiddler on the Roof.  My character had just found out that Yente the matchmaker found a match for my oldest of 5 daughters.  Again, this one is special, since my daughter was in it with me.  She played Hodel, the second daughter who sang the heart wrenching song Far From the Home I Love.
Something else about me:  I was a single mom for 16 of my daughter's 19 years.  This certainly wasn't by choice, but when I look back, there were a lot of advantages to being a single mom of one.  For one thing, it was easy to be involved in theatre, since she loved it too.  Another great thing was that it was easy to travel.  We took a few trips together, but the best were the semi-annual trips we took to Disney. Our first trip was right before she turned 3. (right after her father left)  Then we went again when she was 5.  When her dance troupe went to Disney at age 7, we realized we'd started a tradition.  Now that she's in college, the tradition is broken because we no longer have the same vacations, but we have some fantastic memories. On our last visit, she was old enough to take the "backstage tour", which was awesome.  She also was in "The American Idol Experience", which was also awesome. 

Not really me, but related to me:  My brother David Bondelevitch, also a blogger, recently won his second Emmy!  He won for Sound Designer for the documentary Above the Ashes.  David is an Assistant Professor at the University of Colorado. (Teaching runs in the family, my parents were both educators, and my sister teaches Family and Consumer Science at a high school!)   David's blog includes loads of topics, but the main focus is film, of course.  (If you ever want to know what movies to see, read his reviews HERE.) Interesting that he and I both lean toward the arts, while our dad was a Phys. Ed. director!  (My sister got the athletic genes!) 
One more thing about me:  I've been dating a man that I've known for over 50 years.  Apparently we took the same carpool to Kindergarten. (He does have far more memories about Catholic School than I have!)  We knew each other through high school, but not well.  He did play football for my father, which is very cool.  (My dad was my hero, and there aren't many people still around that knew him!)  We ran into each other a couple of years ago, and the rest is history.  We're both single parents with kids in college.  I was divorced for a very long time before I could trust a man again.  It's nice to be with someone again, and this guy is a gem!  

Well, this is more about me than anyone would ever want to know!   Hopefully I haven't scared you away!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Christmas in July!

I've realized tomorrow is Christmas in July!

Back in my younger days, I used to have a traditional Christmas in July party.  I would put up Christmas decorations, have people bring a gift and have a Yankee Swap!  (If you've never had a Yankee Swap, you're in for some fun!)  Back in those days, my theatre friends would get into character and show up at my door in their winter coats, talk about how cold it was outside, and we would wear our holiday sweaters and sweat shirts!  

These days, I just sponsor a linky party and have a sale!  I know, I should have planned this a week ago, but that's the way things are!  Unfortunately for those late night (early morning?) shoppers, Teachers Pay Teachers will be down from midnight to 8 am for maintenance, but the Christmas in July sale will start as soon as the site is back up!  Feel free to join the linky below if you're interested in joining the Christmas in July fun!  (Reminder, be sure to link up with your store, not your blog site!)

Heres a link to my TpT store!  Here's a link to more stores having Christmas in July sales!

Monday, July 23, 2012

The Everything Tool Kit

I always like to start the year with lots of learning tools for my students.  I've always bought those fancy name tags for the children's desks that have extra pictures and tools for the children to use.  I keep looking for the perfect name tags, and I can't find them.  Last year I made name tags with plenty of tools. It was kind of a pain, but I made all the parts and cut them all out and put them on the name tags.  
I've always given the children a 4 1/2 by 8 1/2 card with the Handwriting Without Tears alphabet on one side, and a number grid from 0 - 120 on the other side.  Those cards were incredibly handy! I'll make those cards again, but I have also made the ultimate tool kit with just about everything I could think of!  

I started with math.  I made a color coded number grid from 0 to 120.  I also made a even/ odd number line as well as a count by tens number line.  I made a place value grid, a money table, a clock, an addition and a subtraction table, a ten frame, and a shapes reference.

For writing, there's a short vowel chart, a long vowel chart, a word bank made from Dolch words and common words for this age, and a list of writing traits.

For reading, there are lists of fiction and non fiction genres, suggestions on choosing books, qualities of fluent readers, and a list of reading strategies and reading skills they'll be working on this year.

For Social Studies, there's a map of North America along with directions and a compass rose, names of the 4 oceans and the seven continents, and a reminder for left and right. 

For Science, there's a list of vocabulary words, planets, the 5 senses, the science process skills, and a list of healthy habits.

I've put together a sampling of these materials as a freebie.You can download this freebie (as shown above) by clicking THIS LINK and downloading the Preview.

It took forever to complete all these parts, but it's going to be soooooo worth it! I'm going to have the children cut out the parts and paste them onto individual folders, one for each subject, then I'll laminate them so they can use these tools all year.  I want the children to put them together themselves so they'll be more familiar with the materials and will have some ownership on how they are designed.  I'm thinking I'll color code the folders, so it will be easy to find the tool they need.  For example, when they're working on writing, they'll pull out the red folder.  

I hope you're as excited about these tools as I am.  If you're interested in the full set, Click HERE or click the image to the left.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Daily 5 Book Study Chapter 6

We're getting close to the end of our Daily 5 Book Study!  I've been enjoying the pace:  one chapter a week. 

There is so much information in each chapter, I appreciate taking in only one chapter at a time, and giving it time to process before I dig into more! The chapters are short, and I could have probably read several chapters in a day, but this Book Study has forced me to slow down and take one at a time.

Chapter 6 is about the last 2 of the "five":  Work on Writing and Word Work.

I have had extensive training in Writer's Workshop.  My school district goes way back to the days of Donald Graves and his work at the University of New Hampshire with the Writing Process way back in the early 1980s.  Teachers in my district were mentored by Donald Graves, and children in my district were lucky to have him model lessons in classrooms.  

Fast forward 30 years.  Now one of his mentees, Mary Ellen Giacobbe is training teachers in Writer's Workshop.  She has come to our school for all day trainings.  My students have been blessed by having Mrs. Giacobbe model writing lessons with them.  This woman is absolutely amazing!  She truly enjoys working with the children, and inspires them to want to be the best writers they can be.  Besides being in awe of her knowledge of children and Writer's Workshop, her book is one of the best I've found in the area of teaching writing.

Last year, my district was blessed by another mentor in Writing Workshop:  Ralph Fletcher.  He worked mostly with the upper grades, since Mary Ellen Giacobbe had already worked mostly with the primary grades, but he is truly a fascinating person, and it was an inspiring experience to work with him.

As you can see, my district is very much committed to the Writing Process for children.  I can see that my assigned writing time can be a part of my Daily 5, but I'm not so sure I'll be able to separate it as a Daily 5 choice for the children.  I will, however, commit to launching Work on Writing as detailed in the Daily 5 book, with some variations based on my Writing Process background.

Although I've never done Daily 5 before, I've most certainly had my students work on word work independently as well as with partners.  I do include work work as part of my guided reading, which is a great opportunity to introduce new materials and procedures which will later be used as independent word work.  By the time you get to the fifth step of the Daily 5, introducing Word Work to the children, they are quite familiar with the process, the I charts, what it looks like, what it doesn't look like, and building stamina.  Hopefully this step will be the easiest because of all the hard work that came ahead of this.

I've been enjoying reading about the Daily 5 and relating it to my own classroom.  Be sure to check out what these other teachers have had to say about the Daily 5!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Happy Birthday to Me, and a Freebie for You!!

Well, my birthday is just about here.  I was born the day after Disneyland (in California) opened.  (If you look it up, you can figure out my age.)  Trust me, it was a very long time ago.

Today I went to the Apple store at the mall, and bought myself a birthday present... my very own ipad!!  I bought an ipad 3 in black.  It's beautiful!!  I'm still working on how to use it.  I think it will take a while before I'm really handy with it.

I'm definitely open for suggestions on ways to use it in the classroom.

Of course, this all got me thinking about birthdays and my students.  As a second grade teacher, birthdays are pretty important to my students!  I have a little tradition that I've had for years in my classroom.

Rather than giving each student a book for their birthday, I have the children choose a book to give to the class library.  The child gets to bring the book home to share it, and brings the book back when he/she is done to be put into the class collection of books.  The child's name will always live inside the cover of the book, so in a way, the child will always be "a part of my classroom", even long after they're gone.

Trust me, they remember this, and come back to my classroom years later, still remembering the book that is in their honor. As I sort my class library year to year, I peek inside the covers to remember those special people who are still a part of my life.

If you click HERE (or the image), you can download the materials I use for my birthday tradition!

I give them a pencil and a book mark, too.  They get to keep those

Monday, July 16, 2012

A Few Things Going On!

I have a birthday coming up on Wednesday!  I'm long past the days of celebrating, but I think I'm important enough to treat myself, so I'm buying myself an ipad!  Yes, I know, everyone else has one already, but I'm getting one for myself!

How do you use yours?  Do you have any recommendations for aps?  Should I get black or white?  Can you tell I'm excited?

Another piece of news... even though I don't want to think about getting older, I want to share my "special day" with folks, so I have a few things going on.

My Teachers Pay Teachers site has tons of Literacy activities on sale at half price until Wednesday.  My Teachers Notebook site also has a bunch of Literacy activities on sale at half price until Wednesday.  I wish those ipads were half price, but hopefully I won't be shopping alone!

A few more things you might like:

Is this little guy the cutest?  My blogger friend Hadar at Miss Kindergarten created this, and you can find more about it on her blog or at her TpT store!

Here's another very cute "Back to School" activity by my friend Heidi from My (Not So) Elementary Life.  Go to her TpT page to see her Beach Ball Craftivity!

Melissa from Dilly Dabbles is posting a series of "Back to School" posts, including freebies and linky parties!  Her freebie today is adorable, so be sure to hop on over and check it out!

Still more!  My bloggy friend Tessa from Tales from Outside the Classroom has posted a new It's About Time clock game on her TpT page!

Heidi from Grade School Giggles has a new blog post showing her new Beach and Owl themed Classroom Packs along with some editable Substitute binders as a freebie!

Jen from The Teacher's Cauldron has a Land of Goldilocks Unit hot off the press!  It's adorable, go check it out!

Michelle from Apples and ABC's Adventures has 3 new Sight Word Packets!

Corinna from Surfin Through Second has brand new Differentiated Spelling Lists!

Caitlin from Kindergarten Smiles has a new Monsters Back to School Activity Pack.  Again, another adorable product!

Wow, I'm realizing all my blogging friends have been very busy getting ready to go back to school, but I only got out a month ago, so I'm going to bask in the joy of my new ipad.  Of course, I suspect I'll be using that ipad to make back to school stuff very soon!

Don't forget my 50% off "Happy Birthday to Me" Sale at Teachers PayTeachers and Teachers Notebook until Wednesday!

Learning About Learning from Teaching Golf

As I mentioned in this post, I'm helped out my gentleman friend with his golf camp this week.  Yes, that really says golf camp, but don't faint, I  didn't actually teaching golf.  I know better than that!  
I really don't know anything about golf.  I've always been terrible at sports, and really don't have any desire to go there.  But I enjoyed watching my guy in action, and it got me thinking about teaching and learning.  

In a way, I'm envious.  What he teaches is far less complicated than what I teach.  He has far less students, and only has to teach a few different skills, that just keep getting practiced for the rest of the week.  I'm also a bit envious because the kids that are learning golf have far greater attention spans than the kids I work with!  These kids are ages 9 - 16.  My second graders are 7.

I found myself comparing my job to his job.  I guess teachers always make those connections, it's who we are!

These are some things I noticed happening at golf camp, that also happen in the classroom:
  1. Feedback is essential.  In golf, the ball gives the feedback.  If it goes where you wanted it to, you're doing it right.  If it doesn't go where you want it, you need to adjust.
  2. There is a lot of repetition on important points.  These guys worked all week on the basic strokes, and they often were quizzed... "How is chipping different from pitching?"
  3. The vocabulary is used over and over until it flows naturally.  Yes, I really do know what chipping and pitching are!
  4. Even golfers need a break to let their learning settle before they hear something new.  
  5. It's important to practice correctly.  Practicing incorrectly could create a bad habit.  Those bad habits are harder to correct than learning to do it right to begin with!  (Accuracy trumps speed in reading!)
  6. Talking about it helps!  Those conversations about what you're learning helps you understand what you're learning.
  7. Movement helps the learning. In golf, that's easy!  Once they get the feel for each stroke, they can focus on the details, it's all about moving.  It's not so easy to include movement in the teaching of reading, but it helps!
  8. Making connections helps the brain remember information.  When the golfers were taught each stroke, they heard connections to other sports and other movements, particularly when it came to the "follow through" of each stroke.  Readers make connections to the books they read.  The brain needs these connections!
  9. The use of humor is necessary and appreciated.  Brain research tells us that emotions help the learning stick.  My guy tends to slip jokes into his demonstrations, even though a few of them were over the heads of the kids.  I admit, I tend to do that too.  If they kids aren't entertained, at least I am! 
  10. Even golfers have assessments!  On the last day, the boys were asked to "teach" something they had learned to the others.  It was very impressive!  They were a little quiet about it, but they used the right vocabulary, and described the details of the different strokes!  My gentleman friend got the feedback he needed on his teaching skills.

Interestingly enough, most of the above items go right along with what brain research has taught us about how the brain learns!  Isn't it amazing how much teaching golf has to do with teaching reading?  or math?  or social studies?  or science?

The other day I was inspired to make this "Par 3" math game.

It was so well received, that I was inspired to make another golf themed game!  I made this phonics game.  It also works like a Bingo game, and works with dice.  There are enough game boards so it can be played with a whole reading group.   

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Daily 5 Book Study Chapter 5

It's time for the Daily 5 Book study for Chapter 5!

It's all about these 2 of the "five"... Read to Someone and Listening to Reading.  These are two great parts of the Daily 5, and favorites of the kids as well.

It didn't take me long to discover that when children are reading to friends, they are practicing many skills including reading as well as social skills.  A partner can give them that important immediate feedback they need when they read a word they're not sure of. A partner can get them thinking about the story they're reading.   A partner can get them thinking about the possibilities of a story: the "what ifs" and the "how comes"!

The sisters go into a great deal of detail on how to introduce, and model procedures for Read to Someone.  One of the things I love about this book is how it gives lists, charts, and reminders on all the part that we need to remember.  For example:  Figure 5-1 on page 62 gives the time sequence for rolling out Read to Someone, and figure 5-4 on page 66 shows the parts needed for the Read to Someone I-Chart.  I'm going to need to go back and review these before I teach this set of lessons!  Here are the 6 focus lessons for Read to Someone:
Click here to see more
about this book.

  1. EEKK, Voice, Check
  2. I Read, You Read
  3. How to Choose Books
  4. Choosing Your Own Classroom Spot
  5. How to Choose a Partner
  6. Coaching or Time?
Listen to Reading is also discussed in this chapter.  As I think back on my teaching career, I have had many listening centers in most of the grades I've taught.  I think way back to when I started teaching and had stories on 45 records.  Yes, vinyl records!  Then when tapes became popular, I taped all the records.  (Boy, I wish I'd saved all those vinyl records!)  Then came CDs.  Nowadays, it's easy to find stories on the computer, and children can bring in their own earphones inexpensively.  (They probably all have them to go with their ipods!) As children are fairly familiar with computers, it should be no problem giving them opportunities to log into to the computers and have selections available for the children for listening.  

Wow, we're only 3/5 through the Daily 5, and we've covered about 3 weeks of introductions.  I can see there would be temptation to shorten these introductions, but we all know, it's worth spending the extra time at the beginning of the year, so these important habits are part of the children for the rest of the year.

Be sure to check the links below and see what other teachers had to say about Daily 5 Chapter 5!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Inspired by Golf!

If you read Elementary Matters regularly, you'll know that I've been helping out my gentleman friend with his golf camp this week!  It's been a very interesting experience, without a doubt!  I have learned a few things about golf, and I've had some fun!

Plus, I was inspired by golf to make this freebie!  I'll bet people know golf terms better than I did before this week, but just in case:

"Par 3" is a golf term to describe how many strokes it should take to get the ball in the hole from the starting point.  We won't get into what a "birdie" or an "eagle" is  (since I can't remember which is which) but the term "par 3" got me thinking about 3 addends and 3 dice.

I confess, it's summer vacation and I should be thinking about things that have NOTHING to do with school, but it's in my blood... everything turns into an educational experience!  I'm thinking about how I can make a "Par 3" game to go with reading skills!

Click the image or click HERE to download your freebie!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Looking for Some Health Benefits?

I happened to hear something interesting on the radio on the way to golf camp the other day.  

They said that kissing was good for your health!  

  • One thing they said was that kissing helps to fight bacteria, because it produces saliva which helps fight the bacteria in your mouth. (It even helps prevent tooth decay!)
  • They also mentioned that kissing is great for stress relief!  When I think about it, I rarely feel stressed while kissing!
  • It also burns calories!

So, when I got home, I looked it up and found an article which gave me more information about The Health Benefits of Kissing.  I found out a few more things:

  1. Kissing is good for your self esteem.
  2. If you kiss your partner goodbye in the morning, you'll live 5 years longer than those who don't.
  3. Kissing releases endorphins that are 200 times more powerful than morpheme.
  4. It also tones the muscles in your face, preventing aging!
Be sure to click the link and read more.  I realize this has absolutely nothing to do with reading, mathematics, teaching, learning, or even the brain, but I thought it was interesting enough to share!

And if you really, really try, you can sort of see a connection to the brain!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

The Olympics Are Coming!

If you've been following my blog for a while, you know I'm a huge fan of the Olympics!  I used an Olympic theme at the end of the school year as a culminating activity.  I wrote this post and this post.  The first post was my initial thought process about the whole idea. and the second post was a description of how the first day went.  Although it was hectic and exhausting, I'm not sure who had more fun, myself of the children!  It was indeed, a spectacular way to end the school year!

As I see the ads for the upcoming Olympics in London, I've been thinking that this would also be a great way to start the year.  There's something about a little competition that builds team spirit and helps kids get to know and accept each other.

Last spring I made an Academic Olympic Freebie.

I've taken that freebie and developed it into a beginning of the year Academic Olympic Team Building Unit.  I've included lots of ideas and suggestions, and lots of activity sheets as well!  You can find my new unit here.

I honestly think the best part of the Academic Olympics were the rituals:  Opening Ceremony, Closing Ceremony, and the Medal Ceremonies.   If you want to do it right, you might need something like this! (You can find flags and CD at Amazon.com, just click the image!)   Enjoy!
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