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It's Time to Let Go of Summer, But Hooray for Autumn!

Summer ends Thursday at 10:21 AM Eastern Daylight Time. I hate to let go of summer, but...
It's time to let go of summer, but hooray for Autumn: It's a great time of year! Here are some freebies, book ideas, and resources to help your students enjoy the season!

Hooray for Autumn!

Don't you love this time of year? The kids are settled into their classroom routines and are really in "learning mode!"

The weather is perfect: cool nights for sleeping, warm days for playing outside. Perfect for football, apple picking, carving pumpkins, and jumping into those beautiful leaves!

I'll be focusing on the change of seasons in my classroom this week.

This will be our writing focus this week:

Click the image or click HERE for this freebie!

This freebie is part of my Fall Printables Collection, which I'll be using a lot these next couple of weeks!

Click the image or click HERE for more information about this collection of fall printables!

I will be reading a couple of my favorite books for the season:


Aren't books a great way to bring out science and social studies concepts? 
What are your favorite fall books for kids?
What will you be doing to celebrate autumn?

A Quick Exit Slip Procedure

My students have Independent Reading time daily. I try to make it a special time for the kiddos by letting them choose a cozy spot and giving them a comfy pillow. I also make sure I have plenty of fun books. It is often their favorite time of the day!
Looking for a quick way to assess what the children are reading? This post suggests a very simple exit slip procedure using post its!

But reading really is pretty important, and I have a fun, quick way for the children respond to their books. Are you ready for a bright idea? 

Looking for a quick way to assess what the children are reading? This post suggests a very simple exit slip procedure using post its!

Although I have several strategies for checking for understanding in response to Independent Reading time, this is a quick one I use often. It doesn't replace the need for deep book conversations or detailed Book Reviews. It's just a quick response.

It starts with a Post It.
Looking for a quick way to assess what the children are reading? This post suggests a very simple exit slip procedure using post its!

My kiddos each have a Post it pad in their book boxes just for this purpose! Many kids struggle using Post its, so I make it as easy as possible for them.
Looking for a quick way to assess what the children are reading? This post suggests a very simple exit slip procedure using post its!

I replace the backing with a red square as a reminder: don't use that side. (It also helps them find their own!)

I have them write on the Post it while it's still on the pad. (To avoid them writing on the sticky side!)

What they write depends on the prompt. I'll ask them a variety of questions, depending on what we're studying. 

  • They might draw the setting. 
  • They might write 3 adjectives to describe the main character. 
  • They might write a general statement about the story. 
  • They could be asked about the Author's purpose. 

I'm sure you can think of many more responses that would fit on a Post it!

Sometimes I tell them the topic before we read. 
Sometimes I don't tell them until after we read. 

Here comes the really easy part:
Looking for a quick way to assess what the children are reading? This post suggests a very simple exit slip procedure using post its!
They just put the post it on their class number!

That's it! I've had these same charts for years, and I just keep using them for exit slips! It's easy to see who wrote what, and who hasn't responded yet!

Looking for a quick way to assess what the children are reading? This post suggests a very simple exit slip procedure using post its!

Sometimes I have the children share with the whole class what they wrote. Sometimes I have them share with a small group, and sometimes they don't share at all!

It's quick and easy, and there are plenty of possibilities.

If you enjoyed this bright idea, you can find me on social media HERE.

How do you assess Independent Reading?

Looking for a quick way to assess what the children are reading? This post suggests a very simple exit slip procedure using post its!

Five for Friday

It's time for Five for Friday with Doodle Bugs Teaching! Boy, am I glad it's Friday!  Here's a peek at my week:

The Good: I got to sing with my singing group! 
The Bad: it was a memorial service for one of our members who recently died in a plane crash. 

It was an amazing service, and I am even more in awe of this great man than I was before. The world has definitely lost someone very special. 

I did get to sing with some friends I hadn't seen in ages. I just wish it were under better circumstances.

I can't even begin to tell you how glad I am that these are done!  I haven't actually done all the paperwork, but I've done taking up class time with Running Records. Now I'm REALLY ready to teach!

My baby was in the hospital! After a gazillion tests and long waits, it was determined that the pain in her abdomen wasn't appendicitis, it was a ruptured ovarian cyst. Oh yes, she has strept, too. Poor kid was really in a lot of pain. I went down to Boston to see her right after school on Tuesday, and ended up spending the night in the hospital, and bringing her back to her apartment on Wednesday. Her boyfriend was right by her side the whole time. 

She's still not feeling a whole lot better, which has me worried. Between the memorial service and the hospital, this was a tough week. I wish life would slow down.

During a writing share this week, I had the kids choose one sentence from their work to read to the class. It came to my conclusion that we needed to work on what a basic sentence is!

So we did some oral writing!  We talked about the subject and the predicate of a sentence, and the kiddos created complete sentences to share orally with the students. We had some fun!

Of course, at the end of every sentence is punctuation! We show the period orally by holding out a hand that says "stop", along with "screech" sound effects. The kids caught right on, and had some fun with oral writing sentences with punctuation!

Sunday Scoop

I'm linking up again on the Sunday Scoop Linky at Teaching Trio!

Here's my Scoop for the week!

My 3 Have tos:  

1. I HAVE to finish my running records. Boy, is this time consuming! I hope it goes faster when I get the hang of it!

2. I just got my FUNdations materials Friday afternoon. I had a busy weekend, so I didn't bring the manual home with me. I had a day of training in August, but I haven't thought about it since! I haven't had the materials in front of me, so I've lost most of what I was taught! (A lesson for teachers: don't teach something, then ignore it for the next month!)  I'm anxious to get to know the FUNdations program and work with the kids with the program. I hear wonderful things about it!

3. I'm looking forward to getting into my Communities Social Studies unit with the kids. We've just barely started, but the kids are excited and interested. Teaching Social Studies is one of my favorite things to do!

My Hope tos:
1. I'm so excited to start working with this: 

This is the Fact Fluency system that I developed and tested out last year. It worked so well, I can't wait to do it again! I'm extra excited because during the summer, I added brain breaks to this set! Now it has everything it could possibly need! We start on Tuesday with the first pattern: +1 families! (Click the image for the link!)

2. My second "hope to" hasn't changed from last week: finish testing and start teaching. It's killing me that this testing is dragging on so long, I want to teach!

My Happy to...

Yes, I'm anxious to get going with the consequences. Why? Well, we've been practicing the rules and procedures for a week, and it's time to start the "real thing". I have a feeling there are a couple of little ones that need to know there will really be consequences and they will buckle down to business. I hate to be an old grumpy pants, but they need the boundaries.  They really are a great bunch of kids, so once we're rolling, they'll be fine! I suspect they'll be far more than fine!

Sometimes You Just Have to Cry

My typical style is to turn the title of my post into something funny, but I'm actually serious, sometimes you really just have to cry!

I guess it's been since my divorce, but sometimes I have a hard time crying. I suspect it comes from trying so hard to be strong all the time. I have a hard time letting go.

But crying can be good. It's cleansing. 
It helps to get the bad feelings out. 

It doesn't make things better, but sometimes it's part of healing.

A couple of weeks ago, I lost a friend, suddenly, in a plane crash. He was a member of my singing group. I've known him for close to 20 years.

I didn't cry.

I found myself thinking I was a horrible person. 
Why wouldn't I cry?

I think part of it was that I was still in shock. 

My singing group will be singing at his memorial service tomorrow. 

When I heard the music we'd be singing, then the floods started. 

You can listen to recordings of these songs HERE and HERE.

The second one is the killer... if you need a good cry, that should do it!

If that doesn't do it, this is a you tube video of our third song.

Throughout my life, whenever I needed that beautiful release that only a "good cry" will bring, this is the song I'd listen to: 

As I've mentioned here on my blog, I'm a huge theatre fan!

That's Lea Salonga in Miss Saigon. I saw this show in London (starring Lea Salonga) in 1990. before it came to the U.S. 

I admit, I did cry through a good portion of the show, but this song in particular had a strong connection for me.
 It's interesting. This was years before I had a child, but I knew even then how much I would love that child. 

Music is magical. What songs make you cry?

Five Fabulous Feats!

It's been quite a week in my second grade classroom! We're really settling in, and getting established as an important second grade class! Here are a few things we did this week:

We chose our class tree! We are lucky enough to have this beautiful maple tree right outside our classroom! The purpose of  having a class tree is to observe it and sketch it all year. Right now, it's green, but some very observant children noticed a few of the leaves were "yellowish". I think changes are coming soon!

As observant scientists, it's our job to keep records of any changes that happen to our class tree. This week we went out and recorded our first sketches of the class tree. (How lucky to have PERFECT New England weather for sketching!) I was totally amazed at how observant these children were, getting plenty of details about the tree, and putting those details into their sketchbooks! They were careful scientists, going up to the tree to get a closer look, looking at the tree from different angles, and discussing what they noticed. It was a fabulous experience!

Although we are really still in "teaching procedures" and "assessment" mode, I want them to be building their skill, so I've pulled out my Fry Word Phrase game.  They're doing a great job practicing their phrases! I'm introducing the game's Brain Breaks to the whole class, then they'll be ready to play the game with the brain breaks without my help! This was a huge hit with last year's class, and I suspect it's going to be with this one, too. Those built in Brain Breaks are a huge motivator!  See HERE to see the set I'm using with my second graders.

Today at lunch, we were chatting with the brand new third grade teacher. She's feeling a bit overwhelmed, as most new teachers do at this time of year. I mentioned I'd been teaching at that school for 30 years now, and still feel that way sometimes. She said, "It seems like you still love it."  

Why yes, I still love it, but I was really glad to see that it shows! I loved hearing that!
We always reflect on our day, and many children say their favorite time of day is independent reading! Nothing could make me happier than hearing that! 

Why do they like it? 

Well, good books is one reason! But I think another reason is that it is cozy! I have plenty of comfy pillows, and independent reading time is the only time I take them out. 

What could be better than getting cozy with a book?

Check out Doodle Bugs Teachingfor more Five for Friday!

Back to School Success!

Several ideas and resources are suggested for back to school success.

We've been in school for 6 days, and we're settling in! Luckily, I spent some time this past summer preparing some materials, and I'm glad I did!

I'm so glad I have the Back to School Brain Breaks! Those first few days are so tough, and the kiddos need to move! This set has 12 different brain breaks with a "Back to School" Theme. The kids LOVE them! Click HERE for this freebie!

Giving the kids a chance to get to know each other is needed at the beginning of the year. Since game-playing is an important part of my classroom, I combined "getting to know you" with practicing game-playing skills: taking turns, keeping track of your partner, playing fairly, complimenting your partner, and what to do if there's a disagreement. Back to School Get to Know You Game (With Brain Breaks) is perfect for teaching these skills. It includes the same 12 Back to School Brain Breaks, which makes the kids want to play even more! It also includes a game board and lots of fun questions to answer! You can find the game HERE.

We've spent a few days discussing what would be appropriate rules, rewards, and consequences. We've read a couple of books, done a lot of brainstorming and recorded our ideas. 

They did a great job of brainstorming and sharing ideas, then writing their favorite ideas on their papers. Here are some of their ideas!

Have you noticed several mentions of beanie babies? They love those beanie babies! A big reward in my class for years has been getting to keep a beanie baby on a desk for the day. Pretty much every kid had that on their list! Isn't it amazing something so simple can be so motivating? You can get my Developing Class Rules as a Community freebie HERE.

Although we are still doing beginning of the year, I'm trying to squeeze in some skills. Luckily, I made these printables last summer based on end-of-first-grade skills, and I'm so glad I did! We have had some fun reviewing math, reading, writing, and phonics skills, and will be ready to do some serious second grade work as soon as that testing is done! You can find Back to School No Prep Printables HERE!

How is Back to School going for you?

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