Saturday, September 1, 2012

Two Sisters' Workshop- CAFE

It's been FOREVER since I've been on here. I worked so much throughout the summer that I had no time to think about school. Now that I'm back in school I hope to blog more frequently. 

So for all those who have read "The Daily Five" and "Cafe" I know you would be as excited as I was to go to one of their workshops. I decided only to go to the Cafe workshop because I thought that would be more beneficial. My principal would only pay for one of them. It was one of the best workshops I've ever been to. If you are a teacher/literacy coach/ principal you should definitely go to one of their workshops. I learned so much about how to implement "Cafe" and how to teach reading. I read the book before I went to the workshop but was very nervous about using it in my class. But after the workshop it seemed like perfect sense to make this work in my class. They provided many research based reasons explaining why "Cafe" works. 

If you aren't familiar with "Cafe" it stands for Comprehension, Accuracy, Fluency, and Expanding Vocabulary. You would teach the students specific strategies and practice them as a group. Then you assess all of your students to see what kind of instruction they need. Afterwards you and your students discuss their assessment results and have students pick a "Cafe" strategy to work on during independent reading time and practicing it until they have mastered the skill. The sisters did a wonderful job explaining touch points. Touch points are what they use to assess each conference they have with a child. There are four levels: 1-below standard, 2-approaching standard, 3- meets standard, and 4- exceeds standard. If a child gets 3s or 4s for five or more conferences then they are ready to add a new goal to work on. This method really works because teachers are catering their instruction to each individual student based on their needs. I could go on and on about why I love their ideas! So if you have any questions please feel free to ask. :)

Another wonderful thing about the workshop is you get tons of free stuff. BOOKS, classroom materials, and a year subscription to their website which is super useful!

Keep a look out for my next post which will be about my first week of using Daily 5 and CAFE. :)

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Camp Learn A Lot

Hello All! There are 8 more days of school left for me and boy am I ready for the last day! As much as I love my group of students this year, I really need a vacation!!!!!!

For the past couple of days and the last 8 days of school I've been using this great resource I found on Its called Camp Learn A Lot.

It has activities for five days for all subject areas (reading, writing, math, social studies, and science). It could be applied to any 2nd - 5th grade classroom. My class divided up into different "cabins" and created posters with their cabin names. My students have had a blast practicing the Reader's Theater and making props for the script. They will be performing the play later on in the week! There are also lots of different experiments for the week. Today we tried the Airplane Experiment. For this experiment students took straws and added paper loops to the straw to make a glider. This ties in really well with our study of the Wright Bros. that we did a few weeks ago. Students have also made book recommendations and commercials so that the rising 3rd graders will have a good idea of some books to read. Plus that's something I can hang up at the beginning of the year which is always great!

Next week we are going to bring our sleeping bags and pillows in and watch a movie just as if we were at a real camp. What a fun and EASY way to end the year! :))))

What are some different ways you have ended the year?

Sunday, May 20, 2012

The Book Whisperer

My book FINALLY came in the mail about two weeks ago and I'm soooooooo excited about reading this book. I have read the first 30 pages or so. I've been so busy with school and after school activities that I haven't had much time to really sink my teeth into this book. But everything I've read so far makes me very excited to keep reading. I have loved reading about Miller's first few years of teaching and how she wanted her students to be passionate about reading. I love that she started searching for the best ways to teach reading. I love reading about her first book frenzy. I love how knowledgeable about books she is. I feel like I relate so well to her! I just want my students to love to read and learn! :)

My reading research journey all started about half way through the year. I began using Pinterest and I kept seeing all these pins about the Daily Five and The Book Whisperer. I instantly was intrigued and started looking at all the blogs I could find to learn more about these books. I finally broke down and bought them. It also got me thinking that maybe I'm not teaching reading the best way. We use the Reading Street Series at my school and while I think it touches on lots of skills, I feel like I am not meeting the needs of my students. I also found that hardly any of my students wanted to read. So I started to provide independent reading time to my schedule. We always have this time in the day no matter what. Now that it is the end of the year I can already see a difference in my students. They beg me to read everyday. They want more than the twenty minutes given. My students are finishing books left and right.

I plan on finishing this book soon and will provide updates for those who haven't read the book. I can tell that the way I teach reading next year will be totally different than the last two years. I'm so excited to make these changes!

If anyone has any similar experiences I'd love to hear about them! :)

Testing Week is Here!

I've been so busy these last couple of weeks that I haven't had a chance to blog. :(  But I got a new puppy this week. :) He is a long hair dachshund. He has kept me so busy that I haven't been as stressed as usual.

After these long weeks of school the BIG week is finally here! We have been doing lots of practice passages, math problems, and test prep rotations to prepare for the BIG day. Boy am I tired of reviewing and I'm sure my students are too. But all their hard work is going to pay off. I have some fun plans for the day before the EOGs. We are going to play EOG millionaire during reading. This is a great way to review test taking strategies and what to do the night before the big day. In math we are going to play a Jeopardy review game. We are also going to talk about all our test anxiety to get it out of our system. I thought I would be cool to do some yoga to get them nice and relaxed. Then to finish off the day our school is having an EOG Awards Show to get the students pumped about the big day! I'm excited to see my students shine this week and show everything they have learned this year! Cross your fingers for my students and pray that they do a GREAT JOB!!! :) :)

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Biltmore Field Trip

At the end of April my class went to the Biltmore House! This was a wonderful trip. In the past we had always went to the state capital, Raleigh. We would go to the Legislative Building, Capitol Building, History Museum, and Science Museum. We thought we would try out the Biltmore House this year and it was a great experience. We took a one and a half hour long guided tour of the house itself. The kids loved learning about all the history of each room. This house was very elegant and it was hard to believe that people once lived there. Then we went to the farm for an hour and a half tour. We went around in rotations and saw five different areas of the farm. The students got to churn butter, pet the animals, and watch a blacksmith and wood worker. This was an amazing opportunity for my students. Some of them will never get to go to the house again. I would suggest this field trip for anyone who lives around the area. I had never been to the Biltmore House either and I was just as excited as my students. :)

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Linky Party

So I'm a little late to jump on this Linky party but I thought I still would anyways! I am a new teacher and I just started blogging like two weeks ago! I'm super excited to get out there and share some of my ideas and findings on the web!

If you are interested in looked at other 3rd-5th grade teacher blogs then this is the place to look! There are tons of teachers linked up to the Fabulous 4th Grade Froggies website! Just click on the picture and it will take you straight to her website!

Happy Blogging! :)

Saturday, May 5, 2012

May Currently

May Linky Party from Oh' Boy 4th Grade
You should link up too! 

Love Her Site!

Safari Themed Classroom

So anybody who knows me knows that I LOVE giraffes! I think they are the sweetest, best animals out there! So naturally when I started teaching I had to have a Safari themed room. I have made my room into an inviting, bright, and comfortable place to learn! Here are some pictures to help anybody else who loves the safari theme just like I do. :)

Word Wall/ Homework Board

Teacher's Corner/Reading Strategies Wall

Student Work Display Board

Reading Hut

Next year I'm thinking about switching it up and using some Dr. Seuss theme stuff! :)

Donors Choose

Donors Choose is a great website to get classroom donations! It's super easy and lots of people like to support the teaching profession. I've already got one project funded! :) YAY for Ms. Gibson's class. I requested a classroom rug with a map. Ask and you will receive is always a good motto to live by. 

Here is the wonderful rug!

I have recently created a new project to get some nonfiction books for my classroom library. North Carolina has adopted the Common Core standards which has a big push towards nonfiction. I thought these nonfiction sets would be perfect for the common core and daily five/cafe instruction I plan on implementing next year! 

Click the picture if you would like to donate to my classroom :)

Mayday Giveaway

There is a MEGA giveaway happening over at 3-6 Free Resources! This is something you don't want to miss! There are tons of prizes and only one person gets it! Head over to their site now to enter for a chance to win! The deadline for entries is May 7th! 

Teacher Appreciation Week

In honor of Teacher Appreciation Week, Teacher's Notebook is having a sweepstakes. There will be one winner a day and each winner gets $100 worth of items on teacher's notebook. You can enter once a day! Click the link below to check it out!

It's Official!

Aahhhhhh! I finally booked a workshop in Atlanta, GA to see the "2 Sisters". I'm planning on going to the Cafe workshop in August. I am beyond excited! After reading about the "2 Sisters" for awhile now I finally get to meet them in person!  It will be a couple of weeks before school starts back so I'll be in school mode and ready to learn more about this amazing way of teaching.

Today I also found many cute things on Pinterest that will be very helpful when I start the Daily 5/Cafe in my classroom next year. Here are a few that I really love!

This looks like an efficient way to keep up with who is going to what station! I think I just might have to try this next year! I'm not sure who to give credit to because when I clicked on the link to the page it came up to the page not found message! Thanks to whoever's cute idea this was! :)
Daily Five! alexjaffee

This looks like a must have item to teach some of the Cafe strategies! You can find this on Teacher's Notebook for a few dollars! Thanks Cupcakesncuties!

This looks like a great idea! This comes from Go Fourth with Mrs. Owens Class! This comes from "The Book Whisperer". I plan on reading that this summer!

Well that's all for now! I'm off to be productive today! Check back for more adventures in 4th Grade soon!


Wednesday, May 2, 2012

To Daily Five or Not Daily Five

So I've been reading the Daily Five and Cafe books over the last few weeks and would love to implement these ideas into my classroom next year. From all the blogs, proteacher posts, and pinterest pins on the daily five/cafe I truly feel like this would be a wonderful way to teach reading in my class. But I feel a little scared to take the leap because I'm a second year teacher and I've only used the basal. Most of the teachers at my school use the basal. I don't think there is anything wrong with the basal if it works for some people but I have found that I don't particularly like using it. I don't feel like I'm reaching all my students or that I'm being effective. I have talked to several of my team members about this idea and they seem open to trying it. There is only one other teacher that uses it in the school and she loves it. I have been talking about it so much that I am hoping the idea sticks and people will want to try it. From everything I've read it teaches the students to become motivated, independent, and engaged in their reading. When I was in college this was exactly how I pictured my classroom. I love teaching so far and I want to be the best teacher I can be. I want to be effective in my teaching and keep my students wanting to come to class to read and learn. I want my students to be life long learners like I am.  If anyone out there could shed some light with personal experiences/advice I would greatly appreciate it.



Tuesday, April 24, 2012

NC Culture and Folktales

This week my class has been learning about North Carolina Culture. We have been reading the textbook to learn background information. I have also found a unit on Connecting Folktales and NC Culture on that we are completing during our reading time. Each group has a different folktale such as "The Three Little Pigs", "Cinderella",  "Beauty and the Beast", etc. The groups have read many different versions of these classic tales and compared and contrasted them using Venn diagrams.While comparing them the students have been talking about how culture has affected each version. As a final task the students are starting to write their own folktales using the information we have learned about NC culture. So far my students are in the planning phase of their folktales but have been very creative and used several examples of NC culture. I'm eager to see the final product and will post more when they have more done.

Reading Marathon

I recently had a Read-a-thon in my class. I got the idea from the  fabulous in fourth blog. I thought it looked cute and fun so I tried it. I even encouraged one of my team members to try it and she did. The reading marathon is where students spend 110 minutes reading. But it isn't your normal silent reading time. The marathon has ten minute rounds. 

Round 1- Create a new book cover.
Round 2- Read
Round 3- Tell three details about your favorite character then draw a picture of the character.
Round 4- Read
Round 5- Summarize what you have read.
Round 6- Read
Round 7- Draw a visualization.
Round 8- Read
Round 9- Write three questions or I Wonders....
Round 10- Read
Round 11- Write a connection and/or theme from the book.

My students had a wonderful time completing this activity. They have been begging me to do it again soon. I would highly suggest trying this activity if you can fit it into your schedule. It incorporated many different skills and it is something your students will enjoy.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Day One of Blogging

So here I am after months and months of reading other teachers' blogs I have decided to start my own! I have become very addicted to blogging for several different reasons. I find myself becoming inspired by all the wonderful teachers in the world and finding lots of amazing ideas floating out in cyberspace. One of my favorite things that I've recently become obsessed with is the Daily Five/ Cafe. Since its coming to the end of the year I can't start using it yet but boy am I dying to next year. Although this is only my 2nd year teaching I can already tell that I don't particularly like using the basal. I feel like I'm not reaching all my children. So I stumbled upon the Daily Five and this seems like the perfect idea to get me started in the right direction next year. Some of my favorite blogs to read out there are Shepherd's Shining Stars and 4th Grade Frolics. They have some wonderful ideas and I love reading about the awesome lessons they are doing in their classrooms. I have already tried many ideas from the blog world in my classroom and my students have loved everyone of them. Hopefully I will be able to post some about some of them this weekend. For now it's time for American Idol!