Sunday, September 22, 2013

A Peek at the Week Linky Party

Well everyone it is finally the first day of FALL! If you have read some of posts you will find that I love fall! Pumpkin Spice sure is in the air at my house. How about yours?

Here's to another Peek at the Week with Mrs. Laffin!

1) I have a celebration from last week that I would like to share before I start with this week's activities. If you read last week's post you know that I tried the first signpost from the book "Notice and Note". Well I have to say that it was a total success in my class. Students were find the contrasts and contradictions in the excerpts I gave them like pros. Then when they asked themselves the anchor question "Why is the character acting this way?" they made wonderful inferences about the character! Go Mrs. Shepherd's Class! :)

2) We will be begin to learn about character traits and how to analyze the character this week. I have chosen to use the book "Black Cowboy, Wild Horses" by Julius Lester. This book is about a man named Bob Lemmons and he is  "famous for his ability to track wild horses. He rides his horse, Warrior, picks up the trail of mustangs, then runs with them day and night until they accept his presence"(Scholastic). It has a great story line, examples of splendid figurative language, excellent sentence structure, and beautiful pictures. We are going to use the text to analyze the character. Students will create a T-Chart in their reader's notebook. On one side they will put the text and on the other they will write the character trait they inferred from the text. In addition to using this for reading, I am also going to use this book during writer's workshop. I plan on taking one of the sentences from the book and using it as a mentor sentence. I am going to model my lesson after the ladies over at Dandelions and Dragonflies. When I read about mentor sentences I knew it was something that I wanted to try.

3)The last plan for the week is to recover from this awful cold I've had all last week and to get all my graduate school readings done!!!!

Thanks for stopping by! I do love comments and new followers! :)

Sunday, September 15, 2013

A Peek at the Week Linky Party

# 1: I'm finally going to try the first signpost from the book "Notice and Note: Strategies for Close Reading". The first signpost is called "Contrasts and Contradictions". Students will read and as they read if they notice the character is doing something that is different from how they normally act or different from how they expect them to act, then they will stop and ask themselves the signpost question(every signpost has a question to help the students think) which is "Why is the character doing that?".

I am going to use the sample lesson from the book which uses the book "Thank You Ma'am". As a follow up we will read an excerpt from "The Watson's are Going to Birmingham." I'll blog on how it goes. I think it will be something totally different than what my students are used to but I think it's going to get them critically thinking! Wish me good luck.

I made these anchor charts to go along with the signposts! They are super cute! I can't wait to use them. Click the photo to take you to the product!

# 2: I received a grant last year for Social Studies Weekly. I got them in over the summer and have been dying to use them. Since the 4th grade social studies standards focus on North Carolina we really only have the text book to teach with but I'm not a fan of the text book. So we started the first newspaper last Thursday and the kids really seemed to like them. I think this will make learning about North Carolina more exciting. They have one main story in the middle and lots of little side articles. We are gonna try to get through the rest of week 1 and week 2 this week!

# 3: I plan on continuing my first "Word Nerd" vocabulary cycle this week. We are going to practice our words using a vocabulary rap, a counting dude/bragging dude activity, and we are going to look deep into our crystal ball to predict the meaning of our crystal ball words. Also we will be using our vocabulary lanyards all day, every day to practice our words!!! :) I love being a Word Nerd!! I will add pictures to show you all these activities! 

Hope everyone else has a fantastic week! 

I love comments and new bloggy friends! :)

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Five for Friday Linky Party

I know it's saturday but that's ok! I still want to share about my week with you. 

# 1

Graduate School is taking over my life and I haven't had time to blog in the last two weeks which is why I'm blogging twice today! But I will say that I have been learning so much and I get so excited every week when I am reading and learning. I also getting super pumped to try new ideas with my students. 

# 2

I officially started my 1st vocabulary cycle with my students this week. I read the book "Word Nerds: Teaching All Students to Learn and Love Vocabulary" this past summer and got my inspiration from it. I absolutely love this book and approach to vocabulary. So far my students seem very engaged in the vocabulary activities. It has taken much longer than I anticipated to introduce the words but I think once the students get used to it things will go quicker. If you want more information on this book, this blogger had a book study on it this summer. 

# 3
I started my own TPT store two weeks ago and just made another product. Come check out my new product and store! I am pumped to use these task cards with my math group. I have been trying out Daily Math this year and plan on using them during my "Math with Someone" time. I love Daily Math as much as I love Daily 5. So if you have been nervous to jump into Daily Math just take a leap of faith and try it. You will get great results. I don't know how I managed to get by before without it!

# 4
We started to work on making observations in writer's workshop on Friday and my students were really getting into it. They were walking around the room smelling, touching, and listening to objects and people all around the room. I loved seeing them working with their partner to describe things around the room. I got this idea from the book "Notebook Know-How" by Aimee Buckner. It's great for setting up writer's notebooks and getting students interested in writing. Another book I'm beginning to pull lessons from is called "Study Driven". I have to read it for grad school and it is changing the way I look at writing. It says you should teach writing from an inquiry stance. And so far I am trying to do that with my students and implement what I'm reading into my classroom. For example: for students to be able to revise a paper they first need a vision. But they can't have a vision without good intentions and passion! Wow that's deep! If only I knew this when I was in school! Maybe I would have liked writing more!

# 5
Lastly, I did this AMAZING activity on the first day of school. But I have just now added the pictures to my computer. We had a "Book Tasting"!!!!!!! It was so much fun! We asked our media coordinator to help us out and she went over and beyond what we expected. She got table cloths, genre signs, cookies, and hot chocolate. The kids spent about 3-4 minutes at each table to "taste" a book. It really exposed them to all the different genres and gave them an idea of what books they want to read this year. I would strongly suggest doing this to introduce the different genres. My students loved it!

I hope everyone enjoys the rest of their weekend!

Thanks for tuning in this week! I love comments and new followers!!

Classroom Reveal 2013-2014 (Safari Theme)

So I am just now posting these pictures and we have been in school for three weeks now. But running behind seems to be my life story lately. I have just started graduate school and it is definitely taking a toll on me.

I still have my safari theme this year but I have made quite a few things using powerpoint over the summer. I felt like my class needed a face lift. Also I decided to take the big leap and get rid of my teacher desk AND my students' desks. It has been the greatest decision I have made. I love not having my desk. I have so much more room for my students to read around the room. It has also made me stay organized.

Now, for the kids. I LOVE not having paper falling out of desks. I LOVE the desks not getting separated and turning a different way than I originally put them. Plus I feel like my students are very organized because of this big move. They have a cubby and their book baskets to store their work. I tell them exactly where to put everything and they don't have a desk to shove papers into so they don't do it. Ahhhhh! It's just so wonderful!!!!
Here's my room when you walk in the door! I love the lanterns and parasols. 

This is my standards, math rotations, and homework board.
Here is the link to the daily math signs freebie!!!!

These are my students' cubbies and student supplies.

This is my "Have you Filled a Bucket Today?" display! My kids love it!

Here's my transportation clip chart. I also keep my class rams tickets here. It's part of PBIS.

Here is my NEW bulletin board. I love my CAFE and Vocabulary board! 

This is where I have my safari helper display, my behavior clip chart, and where students keep their rams tickets.

This is part of my library. 
This is my "Show What You Know" board. I use this frequently to assess students.

This is one place I keep my anchor charts. 

Thanks for stopping by! I love comments and new followers!

Monday, September 2, 2013

September Currently

Here's my September Currently from Farley at Oh Boy 4th Grade. Click on the picture below to go to her blog! 

I have been obsessed with watching Grey's Anatomy over the last week! I've started from Season one. How many of you like Grey's?

I have throughly enjoyed my long weekend especially since we went back to school on a Monday last week. Man it was a long week!

This new class seems like a pretty neat group! I went from having 19 students in my class last year to 25 students this year. So that is change that I'm adjusting to. I kept looking at my line last week thinking.......Man this line is so LONG! Also, I have lots of diversity in this group so I hope to learn a great deal from them this year. 

Fall is my favorite season by far! I love the changing of the leaves, pumpkins, corn mazes, pumpkin scented items, the cool autumn air, and Halloween!

I need to get to work on my lesson plans but I think I'm still in summer mode because I'm waiting until the last minute to get them done! Imagine that! Plus I need to do some work around the house today. Who knows if that will get done.

Now for my monthly goals.........I need to start exercising more so I can get my endorphins flowing. I also need to be consistent with my blogging. Lastly, my husband has a second job and I am in graduate school so we really need to spent all extra time with each other!


Sunday, September 1, 2013

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Now that I'm back in the blog world...... I figured I should join Bloglovin so that I could follow all my favorite bloggers out there. Here's the link to follow my blog as well!

On to Five for Friday...... I know I am a couple days late but I figured better late than never! 

1. I have been having a very crafty sunday and am super ready for fall! It's my FAVORITE season! So I decided I would try to make a wreath for our front door. I feel pretty good about it. What do you think? 

2. I bought the book "Have You Filled a Bucket Today?" this summer and wanted to try it out with my students. It went very well this past week. The students were all giving each other compliments and filling each others buckets. This is my bulletin board where students can actually "fill" their bucket.

3. Let me start off by saying that this year I am teaching the "low" math group in 4th grade. Boy, it is quite a difficult class. There are 14 students in this class but 9 of them are E.C. I do get the E.C. teacher for an hour and our fourth grade assistant but it is still a challenging adventure. So far they seem like very sweet kids and I'm excited to work with them.With that said, I found this resource on TPT and laminated it. I am going to use these next week to practice writing numbers in different forms. This group needs lots of repetition and this is just the activity for them! 

4. I have started my own TPT store this weekend! I'm super pumped! I have already put up four products this weekend. I hope to continue to make some throughout the year. Come on over and check them out. 
Here are some samples of the resources I have made!

If you have any tips for me, I would greatly appreciate it! :)

5. On Friday, I introduced my class to "Fluency Friday". What is Fluency Friday? you ask. Well every Friday I break my students up into groups and we work on reader's theaters. We practice every Friday for the whole month. Then on the last Friday of the month we perform the play. I have four rotations so that I can work with each group. 
~Read to Self
~Work on Writing
~Making Words
~Teacher Time

This week during Work on Writing I had my students write a story about the picture below. 
I can't wait to read what they came up with. Normally I would let them share but we were running short on time.

Well that's all I have for now! Catch ya on the flip side :)

Saturday, August 31, 2013

New School Year.......New Kiddos :)

Well fellow bloggers I just finished my first week of my fourth year of teaching and my first year of grad school. Woooooo! it was quite exhausting but I am absolutely loving my classes and the fabulous teachers I have meet. My class is also pretty great! :)

Well I'm trying some new stuff in my room this year and I'm pretty pumped about them!

One of the amazing things I am trying out this year is called "Whole Brain Teaching". If you haven't heard of this before you need head on over to their website and start reading up.

Here are five reasons I LOVE using WBT in my room.
1. The kids are super engaged.
2. No more trying lots of different attention getters. Class?Yes! is the best!
3. The students love teaching each other.
4. I love using all the gestures and expression when teaching!
5. The scoreboard is my new best friend!

This is a video I found on Youtube that gives a perfect example of why WBT is so AH-mazing!

The second thing I am trying this year is incorporating the Notice and Note Signposts into my Daily 5 lessons. Another teacher on my grade level and I spent the summer reading the book and adding the signposts to our curriculum map. We tried to think which reading strategies we already taught would be good to introduce with each of the signposts. We plan on introducing the "Contrasts and Contradictions" signpost with character traits and story elements. We can't wait to try this out and have our students thinking deeply about what they are reading! I'll let you know how it goes when we try it. If you haven't read this book and are looking for a professional book, I would recommend this one!

Well that's all for now. I'm going to make it a personal goal to blog at least once a week this year! So tune it for more from Adventures in 4th grade.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

April currently :)

Now onto what's going on in Ms. G's class this month.

April is a busy, busy month!

#1 Free Verse poetry writing for National Poetry Month. I am hoping to have a poetry slam day at the end of the month. The students have been writing up a storm and are loving poetry. They are so eager to share their poems everyday. Students are going to start editing and typing up their poems on the "Notebook +" app on the iPads. Then they will create their very own poetry anthology. I've gotten all my inspiration and lesson ideas from the infamous Regie Routman.  Check out her book.

#2 Country Research for International Day on April 25th. Students have been working for the last three weeks researching a country of their choice in preparation for a presentation on International Day. I got the project guidelines from teacherspayteachers. The project has students pretend like they are going on a vacation to their chosen country. The kids write about the country like they are actually there. The students have had to broaden their thinking and get creative. As a final project the students will then create a Prezi or powerpoint on their country and bring in a "suitcase full of souvenirs" from their travels.

#3 Starting next week I will begin the dreaded test prep. AAAHHH!!!! But as a fun way to review for the BIG TEST I'm going to have the students participate in test prep rotations. 
      1. Teacher Time- I plan on using these resources during time with me. I plan on reviewing test taking strategies and how questions are worded because my students struggle with the format in which questions are asked on the State tests. 
CCSS TDQ Text Evidence April Close Reading Comp Pack
      2. Independent Time- I plan on using the following pack because it does a good job of reviewing comprehension, vocabulary, grammar, and writing all on one page!
Common Core ELA Fourth Grade Test Prep
      3. Vocabulary Games from Florida Reading Research Center as well as some TPT resources.

      4. iPads- I will be having the kids using the following website to review reading strategies learned throughout the year. I like the lesson, practice, and "quiz" format.
New York Elementary Test Prep

Well that's all for now! :)

Monday, March 4, 2013

March Currently :)

I've been out of the blogging world for a few months now so I thought I'd link up. Well here it link up head on over to Oh' Boy 4th Grade. Oh! Spring Break is in the near future. Only four more weeks!!!!! YAY!!!!

Close Reading

After reading several blogs and attending some professional development workshops, I have realized that we should be teaching students how to read the text closely a.k.a "Close Reading". For the first half of the year I primarily spent time during my focus lessons teaching grammar, comprehension strategies, and accuracy strategies. I use Fridays to work on fluency. I call this time "Fluency Friday". Students practice their reader's theater every week with guidance from me. Then the fourth Friday of the month they perform their play. But I eventually realized that even though we were collecting words on our word collector that it wasn't enough. I needed to choose mentor text to read and teach vocabulary words. I stumbled upon this blog called Hello Literacy. I read her post about Marzano's Vocabulary and decided to use this in my classroom. Free feel to hop on over and check it out on her blog.

Marzano's Six Steps to Vocabulary Instruction

Then I read some more and realized I could reach all of my reading needs by doing what is called "Close Reading" (which is what common core wants us to be doing). My co-team member and I decided that we would sit down and create our first close reading lesson.

We chose to complete this reading with the book "Molly Bannaky". First, we had students read the text by themselves(We made copies of the first few pages of the text so they could make notes. This is totally legal if you only copy 10% of the book). They underlined information they felt was important and circled any word they thought was interesting or they didn't know. Next, we scanned the first few pages onto the Smart Board and wrote text dependent questions and syntax that we thought would be difficult for students. Then we used the think, pair, and share strategy to go through the questions we asked. We had students check for understanding, make predictions/inferences, and form their own opinion about what was going on in the story.
All in all, I think our first try at close reading was a success.

One last note:
This book below is one we are currently reading as professional development with some of our other team members. So far it is great and they have lessons in the book that are ready to apply in your classroom. Apparently, there are six signposts in the book that students should notice then students will make notes about what they noticed in the text. The first lesson is called "Contrasts and Contradictions".  I plan on trying the first lesson out in the next couple of weeks. I'll post to let everyone know how it went!!! :)

Updated Safari Themed Classroom

 Here is my front wall with my new cafe board and anchor chart space!!

 Here is my word wall area and my teacher's corner!

 Here is my reading area. The bench is a pinterest inspired idea. I'm going to have my students write book reviews when they finish a book and post them on the wall.

This is my new behavior clip chart! So far it has been working wonders!

Daily Cafe

So it's been a while since I've posted. This first half of the year has been very busy(common core, daily five, CAFE, crazy kids, reading, RTI! etc.). I have absolutely loved implementing the Daily Cafe with my co-team member Mrs. Wyatt. I feel so connected to my students this year and they are becoming such amazing readers. They constantly come up to me and are like "Ms. Gibson I'm inferring this....." Or "look at this word I found, can we put it on our word collector?".  In addition to the Daily Cafe we have started book clubs in January. The clubs meet twice a week and when they are meeting, the students complete read to self with their books. Students select the book they want to read with their group. The children have gotten extremely good at summarizing, questioning, picking out parts from the text and analyzing them, and reflecting on their meetings.

With that being said here are positives about the Daily Cafe:

Students are becoming more fluent readers, more, accurate, and thinking critically.
Students love picking their own books to read.
They love the different rounds.
Their writing has become deep and thought provoking.
They are learning lots of new words.
The variety of genres being read have increased.
It has been amazing having flexible strategy groups and being able to confer one on one.
Students have grow close with their elbow buddy and most pairs work really well together.

Here are some of the negatives:
There isn't always time to fit in all the rounds.
Currently, I'm only doing three rounds a day for about 15-20 for a round.
Sometimes my mini lessons last longer than the 7-10 minutes the sisters usually do.

But obviously those who have started the Daily Cafe in their classroom can agree that the positives outweigh the negatives tremendously.

One last plus, our school just got 30 iPads!!!!!!!!!!!! So Mrs. Wyatt and I are slowly implementing them into our rounds. We have used the StoryKit app during Work on Writing time. They are creating stories with their elbow buddy.