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Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Tried It Tuesday {Book Flix and True Flix}

Brrr!!!  I cannot believe this cold, crazy winter weather we have had this season!  We have had FOUR snow/cold days so far and that hasn't happened in my 14 years of teaching!  As I sit here writing this, temperatures are projected at -25 tomorrow with wind chill, and I am actually hoping that we DON'T get another snow day!  Schools are already closing for tomorrow (Tuesday).

I feel like I haven't gotten back in my "post holiday groove" yet and it is getting more and more difficult.  Thank you for all the condolences last week after the passing of my father-in-law.  It was an exhausting week for our family and we are all ready to get back to a normal schedule.  With that said...
It's time for another Tried It Tuesday! :)
What have you tried recently at school or home?
My Tried It:
Book Flix and True Flix
My daughter is in 1st grade and her school has subscribed to both Book Flix and True Flix by Scholastic.  She LOVES Book Flix!  These are paid subscription sites but you can try a free trial and maybe there is someone that can requisition it for your students!  I know our requisitions are due soon for next year.
Book Flix is geared for the lower grades (K-3) but there are still many books that would be interesting for my 4th graders, especially for my lower level students.
I clicked on "Animals and Nature" and there are 42 pages with four pairings on each page.  

This is a "Antarctic Antics" video with a nonfiction pairing of a text about Antarctica.

 This is what the students say when they read the book.  The "Read Along" button at the bottom can be on or off.
 Here is a screenshot of the video that is paired with the book above.
 Here are a couple more pairings of choices for books.

 This is True Flix and is based on all nonfiction material.  The reading level is grades 3-5.

 Here are the choices when I clicked on "U.S. Government".
Again, there is a pair with a story to watch and a text to read.

 Both sites also have lesson plans for each book/video pairing.  Here are screenshots of the Constitution Lesson Plan.

Both of these sites would be great to use at centers, with small groups, or even as a whole group!  After checking them out using my daughter's subscription, I am anxious to see if our school can requisition them for next year.  If you use these sites, I would love to hear your thoughts and what has worked!

Friday, January 24, 2014

A Day Our Way: Classroom Schedule Linky Party!

I am WAY late to the party but am finally linking up with my girl, Amelia, at Where the Wild Things Learn for her "A Day Our Way" classroom schedule linky party!
Here is a brief look at my typical daily schedule:
Students Arrive/Morning Work
Students arrive from 7:40-7:55. Since we are departmentalized with three teachers (I teach ELA, one teaches math, and one teaches SS/Science), we split the morning work into ELA and math days. ELA morning work is Tuesday and Friday and math morning work is Monday and Wednesday. On Thursday we have chorus from 8:00-8:30, so we don’t give morning work for Thursday.

For ELA morning work, I give the students a packet of various reading response worksheets and they must complete one of their choice every two weeks based on a book they are reading independently.

ELA Blocks
We divided our day into three 80 minute blocks (block 3 is only 75 minutes which bothers me because this is my “slowest” group). The one downfall of this is that 80 minutes is definitely not enough time for ELA when I incorporate reading, writing, grammar, vocabulary, and spelling into this time. My saving grace is that the SS/Science teacher incorporates a ton of reading and writing into these subjects during her block. She also has 80 minutes each day for SS/Science and we have NEVER had that much time for these subjects before. Since we rotate the students, all the blocks had to be the same amount of time. Our NYS module topics for ELA are all SS/Science related and she also incorporates the modules into her SS/Science classes. We are “adapting” the modules and she has selected various parts of the modules to work on. Right now, the students are working on simple machines in science with these kits:
The ELA module she is incorporating right now happens to be simple machines too! While the modules have some valuable activities, I really can’t imagine ONLY using the ELA modules for my ELA instruction. This is the module assessment at the end of the 7-8 week unit on simple machines. I don’t think it has enough “meat” compared to what they will be expected to do on the NYS assessment in April. 

How do I structure my 80 minute ELA block? 
During the first part of class, we complete any spelling or grammar activities. The time spent on this varies from 5 minutes to 20 minutes. 
Spelling: I don’t give a spelling list every week, but they have a list about 75% of the time. There is not much actual class time spent on spelling. On Mondays, students take a pretest and write the words missed 5x each for homework. We use the spelling books from the MacMillan McGraw Hill Treasures series. On Wednesdays, students write their spelling words in sentences using context clues. They can use two spelling words per sentence, their sentences must have AT LEAST seven words, and now they are writing at least two sentences using quotations. There are twenty spelling words, so they will have at least 10 sentences to write. 
Sentence with NO Context Clues: “I will screech when I see a shrimp,” said Jane. 
(Notice how screech can be just about any verb and shrimp can be just about any noun?) 
Sentence with Context Clues: “I can’t believe I tried to eat a shrimp that was still moving!” screeched Jane. 
(With this sentence, I can tell that shrimp is something you eat that is an animal and screech is how someone talks when they are scared). 

On Friday, we have our spelling test and everyone takes the test. The first two sentences are dictation sentences and are graded on proper use of CUPS (capitalization, usage, punctuation, spelling). 
Spelling City is an option during Word Work on the iPads during the week. 

Mentor Sentences: 
I follow the schedule for Jivey’s mentor sentences with the exception of shorter weeks. See my post here for more information about how I use this amazing product in my classroom! I will never go back to teaching grammar the old way again! 

Mini Lessons:
Next, I spend about 20-30 minutes on some mini lesson that usually involves some type of work with our writer’s notebook, partner/group activity, and review of that skill.

Daily 5: I use Daily 4 in my classroom (Listen to Reading is left out). We spend about 25 minutes on Daily 4 centers and this year I do not let the students have the choice of which center they will be at. Although, they do have the choice about what “work on writing” or “word work” activity they will choose and what books they will read at “read to self” and “read to someone”. In the past I have allowed students choice over which Daily 4 choice they would choose but my classes this year haven’t demonstrated overall that they can have that independence. I am thinking about allowing some students who could handle this choice be given a chance with it though.  This is what my SMART board looks like right now for Word Work and Work on Writing choices.  They are changing often:
The colors correspond to the color of the drawer the activity is in.  The black one is not in a drawer.
During this Daily 4 time, a reading specialist pushes in my room and we usually conference with the students. These conferences are so valuable and we keep notes about our conferences for each student on a clipboard. I have found it is easier than having a binder and we can each take a few sheets easily off the clipboard. Then, we move freely around the room with our own clipboards conferencing mostly about writing with students.  
 Sorry, this picture is not updated. 
Yesterday, we gave each student their STAR reading report and conferenced with them about their test results (they have been tested 5x or 1x a month). We showed each student their “goal line” and discussed how they are progressing and why they are there at this point. Most of my students are crushing their goals, but there are a couple students that haven’t showed growth at all since September according to their STAR report. For example, one of my students began the year at a 6.1 GE and his test in January still shows a 6.1 GE. We discussed how all the books he has been reading this year independently are below the 4th grade level (Magic Tree House, Big Nate, etc.). He expressed interest in Rick Riordan last week and I gave him The Lost Hero (4.5 GE). Yesterday, he said he thought it was “too difficult”. It is a much longer book than he is used to, but I had him read two pages to me. He didn’t miss a word and read with no problems. I think this surprised him because he hadn’t really tried reading it at home.

We have a special from 9:26-10:06 on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday (library, art, and computer). On Thursday, we have chorus 8:00-8:30 and no special at 9:26-10:06, so I just extend Block 1 on Thursdays until 10:06. On Friday, there is no special 9:26-10:06, so some of my students have an extra pull-out for reading intervention, some students have extra guidance time, and once a month, my whole class goes to guidance. The students who are left in the room on the other three weeks have time to work on late work or work on some extra center activities (this is when I pull out my math centers that I LOVE because I miss teaching math!!).
Every day we have a special 10:09-10:49 (Gym is 3x a week and music 2x a week).

Since our lunch is so late, we have snack time every day. We rotate the students and every student takes a turn bringing in a snack for the class for one week at a time. They will have to do this 2x during the year. No one gives us a problem about the snack that is brought in and it ensures that we have a healthy snack, teachers can monitor the snacks for students with allergies, and every one has a snack every day. I was skeptical at first that the students would be “picky” but we talk about it at the beginning of the year and really have very few problems. If students can’t provide the class with a snack for a week, the teacher will provide it.

We have one “work room” each day for recess for students who owe work and the other two teachers (we rotate days) take the students for recess. We keep track of who owes work on our “Homework Stars” bulletin board in the hallway since we are departmentalized. For recess, we go outside in the warmer months to play on the playground or go for a quick walk. During the long winter months, we go to the gym, go for walks in the school, or stay in the classroom to listen to music, socialize or play some quick games.

Whew! Well, that was probably more than you wanted to know but I was on a roll! :)  Check out Amelia's linky to check out other schedules!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Tried It Tuesday {New Year's Resolutions}

I always love having an extra day off and, after a difficult weekend for our family, the time was much appreciated.  My father-in-law lost his battle to cancer Saturday night.  He was only 59 years young and this has been a trying time for the family.  Thankfully, we only live about 40 miles from the in-laws.  This will be a difficult week but we are blessed to have the love and support of our family and friends.  Moving on to happier topics...
It's time for another Tried It Tuesday! :)
What have you tried recently at school or home?
My Tried It:
Class New Year's Resolutions
Last week I was finally able to try out this Happy New Year Pack by my BBB, Joanne at Head Over Heels for Teaching!  With the three snow days, we had only been "back in school" for six days, so although it is now January 21st, it is not too late to have your class make some New Year's Resolutions too!
Since my schedule is pretty tight with teaching three different classes of ELA each day, I don't get much down time with my homeroom.  I had a chance to spend some extra time with my homeroom when they missed their whole class guidance time due to our guidance counselor being out for the day. This was perfect because Joanne's New Year's Resolution activities incorporated character education in a fun, engaging way!  The students LOVED coming up with their resolutions, talking to me about them, and sharing them with the class!

 "My New Year's Resolution is to start a You-Tube Channel.  I would entertain people with my videos!"
"My New Year's Resolution is to get better at swim and dive. I can help my mom do chores and clean the windows.  I also want to get better at basketball."
"My New Year's Resolution is to not always have fights with my brother."
"I want to do more activities outdoors with my friends, instead of staying inside watching T.V."
 "My New Year's Resolution is to not call my sister names and be nice to her."

 I don't typically make New Year's Resolutions myself, but I am always setting new goals throughout the year.  I did post about some blogging resolutions here.  If you follow my blog, you'll know that I have talked about my kickboxing and karate classes that I LOVE.  It is rough on my body at times and I endured this injury to my pinky toe on Saturday morning. :(  It caught the mat just right when we were working on grappling moves.  I have been following R.I.C.E. as much as possible!
I am not sure if it is broken but I haven't worn "real" shoes yet.  It will be an interesting task figuring our what to wear to work on my feet.  Flip flops would be okay if I didn't have to walk in the snow.  Haha!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Workshop Wednesday and Freebies on the 15th!!

Workshop Wednesday is back with the amazing Jivey at Ideas by Jivey!  This week's topic is seasonal writing activities.  Jivey has a super cute snow globe activity posted here that you have to check out if you haven't yet!  My seasonal writing activity is not nearly as fun, but I thought I would post about it anyway since someone might find it useful. :)
We have been working on responding to the text by stating "claims" followed by TWO text details to support our claims.  This is a very important skill that will be assessed on our state test in April.  Last year, this method of response was new to the assessment and it was evident at regional scoring that teachers overall had not prepared students to answer questions in this manner (me included!).  Many students would answer the questions (claim) and then provide one text detail when the question called for two detail.  They had counted the "claim" as one text detail.  Who knew?  So, on a two point short response question, the majority of the students were scoring 0's and 1's!  I decided that this year we needed to start practicing this skill, however, there are not many practice materials available.  
So, I created this winter themed writing response using claims and text details.  I also included some multiple choice practice aligned to the CCSS.  
We get quite a bit of snow here in WNY, so my students have a bit of background knowledge of this topic!  The text is quite rigorous at a 1000+ Lexile level but many of the passages on "the test" are rigorous too at up to two or three grade levels above their current grade level.  

Even though Christmas is over, you could try this free Christmas themed writing response using claims and text details. There are also CCSS aligned multiple choice questions included.  It's not too late to read about the history of the Christmas tree tradition!
I also use these winter story starters as a work on writing center.  They are a freebie in my TPT store.  
I'm linking up these freebies on the 15th with Molly at Lucky To Be in First.  It may not be a new freebies, but I have many followers now that I didn't have a year ago!

Don't forget to enter Jivey's amazing One Year Blogiversary Giveaway that ends tomorrow!

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Tried It Tuesday {Norwex}

As I started writing this post on Monday night, I realized that my post from the last day of the giveaway was still in "draft" form and never published!  Oops! Here is part of what I wanted to say on Sunday! :)
 Congratulations to Gabrielle F.!! 
She won Sunday's Rafflecopter of products!
Congratulations to Christina and Elizabeth.!! 
Christina won a $50 Amazon Gift Card and Elizabeth won a Classroom Friendly Supplies Pencil Sharpener!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
We are so grateful for the friendships we’ve formed and the collaborative community to which we belong! Our blogging buddies are a wonderful support group that are always there for us! We also appreciate our readers, followers, your comments, TPT supporters, and FB fans-you motivate us to create and share new ideas! It’s such a wonderful feeling to share inspiration and passion with others.
Thank you for sharing this journey with us!

Now, it's time for another Tried It Tuesday! :)
My Tried It:
Have you heard of Norwex?  It is a company that began in Norway and primarily sells products to clean your home.  Their mission is to "improve quality of life by radically reducing the use of chemicals in personal care and cleaning".
Let me just say that Norwex did NOT contact me to review their product, I don't sell Norwex, and they certainly don't know that I am writing about their product.  I just really LOVE the few things that I bought and was skeptical at first how well I could really clean areas of my house using water and a cloth.  Teachers are busy professionals who work many hours inside and outside of school, and that leaves less time for things like cleaning!  We are multi-taskers and, I don't know about you, but I struggle to keep up with the day-to-day responsibilities of my job and household.  I keep saying that I should hire a cleaner every other week and I still might do that...

Anyway, I recently attended two Norwex parties.  They have consultants who sell their products.  What intrigued me the most were these microfiber cloths that are used to clean just about anything using only the cloth and water!  I was like, "What?"  When wet, the cloths are self purifying and sanitize your surfaces!  I don't really know too much of the science behind it, but there are these silver particles that make the cloths self purifying.  You hang them to dry after rinsing and they self purify, ready to clean again next time!  These cloths are super.  I cleaned all the bathroom fixtures like the toilet paper holder and towel racks (shiny nickel) with this cloth and all that sticky grime from hairspray build up literally came right off!  My fixtures have little grooves in them and I always struggle with cleaning those areas and this cloth just lifted off that build up so easily.  What a time saver!
Here is a link to an online catalog.
My absolute favorite purchase was the "purple window cloth".  I could not even believe my eyes when I used it!  Cleaning windows has always been frustrating for me because I had never found a way to clean them without leaving a little lint or streaks behind, no matter what I used (paper towels, newspaper, coffee filters, various brands of window cleaner...).  When I got this window cloth last month, I went around and cleaned the insides of most of the windows in my house and all the mirrors.  All I had to do was spray WATER on the glass surface and wipe it with this cloth.  Voila!  The glass was clean with NO lint and NO streaks!  Amazing!
I purchased these dryer balls too.  I never really thought before about the build up that dryer sheets can cause in your dryer.  This is a great solution and they work just as great, if not better, at reducing static.
Here is a little more about Norwex from their website if you are interested:
Our Global Challenge
We realized early on that household pollutants negatively impact our health and our environment. Most of the chemicals in cleaning and personal care products that people are exposed to every day have never been assessed for their impact on human health. Indoor air pollution is one of the top five highest ranking environmental health problems in America with chemical levels up to 70 times higher than outside. Research and information on the health effects of manufactured chemicals has not kept pace with their development and use.
  • In the last 50 years, the global production and use of manufactured chemicals has increased substantially. More than 80,000 new chemicals have been created.
  • Indoor air pollution is one of the top five highest-ranking environmental health problems in America.
  • Evidence shows homes have chemical levels up to 70 times higher than outside.
  • Most of the chemicals that people are exposed to every day have never been assessed for their impact on human health.
  • Parabens utilized in personal care for decades have been shown to have potential harmful effects.
What we do know is the harm chemicals have on humans is extensive. Most concerning are the growing links to chemicals that surround us in everyday life. They are linked to serious diseases such as birth defects, cancer and psychological abnormalities. Many today believe the extensive use of chemicals indoors contributes to many of our ‘modern’ diseases such as allergies and asthma.
Our mission at Norwex is to improve quality of life by radically reducing the use of chemicals in personal care and cleaning. In addition, the Norwex products make cleaning faster and more cost effective than traditional cleaning products.

Beautiful Globe (Earth) resting on a vibrant green leafThe Norwex Solution

  • With Norwex Microfiber System, you will not breathe, touch or ingest chemicals – you simply create a cleaner, healthier indoor environment.
  • Norwex Marine Organics and Naturally Timeless personal care products offer cutting-edge technology coupled with organic and natural ingredients – without harmful parabens or preservatives.
  • SAVE Time – the Norwex Cleaning System decreases cleaning time by 75% or more.
  • SAVE Money - An average household spends $600-$800 a year on chemical cleaning products and supplies. By using Norwex products you can realize up to a 90% savings!
  • Norwex helps make cleaning fun, fast and easy and teaches your family how to improve their health and environment!
At Norwex, our Purpose is simple but powerful: The idea that working together, with trust, integrity and honesty as our core values and radically reducing chemicals in our homes as our mission, we can improve the world around us. The Norwex Purpose touches many facets of life with the end result being the ability to collectively make a powerful and positive difference in the world we live in and the lives we touch.

So, if you are invited to a "Norwex" party, I recommend just going to see what it is all about.  From one busy teacher to another, you'll be happy you checked it out!  They have the products on hand and do demonstrations in the host's house.  I am having an "Open House" style party this Saturday (I don't do parties very often!) but the consultant said to leave areas dirty for demonstration.  No problem! Haha!  If you are interested in ordering something and want to go through my consultant, just shoot me an email at lillycharlie2915@gmail.com.  If you have a favorite product from Norwex, let me know what it is!  I am curious about what else they offer and how it works!

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Day 10 Giveaway and Spark Student Motivation {PBIS}!!!

Last day to win our favorite friends' products! And, it's another amazing day! Wait 'til you see what you can win!!!
Congratulations to Kelli O.!! 
She won yesterday's Rafflecopter of products!

Be sure to check out these blogs to learn more about how they use these products in their classrooms!

Jivey from Ideas by Jivey is donating her Let It Snow! Math Activities for Upper Elementary Kids-super fun math games/activities-so perfect for the season!!

Amelia (the one who designed our amazing giveaway button) from Where the Wild Things Learn is donating her Jump Start January ELA Centers-wouldn't these be engaging at center time??!!

Mary from Fit to be Fourth is donating her Winter Word Work Resource-build your students' vocabulary with this adorable set!!

 Tara from 4th Grade Frolics is donating her Love Letter Math Centers your students will "LOVE" these activities!
AND, she's donating her Take a Ticket-You've Earned It-a motivational reward system for your kiddos!

Last day to enter for the $50 Amazon Gift Card and Classroom Friendly Pencil Sharpener is tomorrow! Good Luck!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Since it's Saturday, I'm linking up with my giveaway partner and BBB for her weekly Spark Student Motivation linky!  Each week there are so many motivating strategies for students shared on Joanne's blog.  Be sure to go back and check it out!

How many districts out there are implementing PBIS (positive behavioral interventions & supports)?  Our district really started using this framework last year and the PBIS team has implemented various behavioral modification incentives in our elementary school.

From the PBIS Website:

What is School-Wide Positive Behavioral Interventions & Supports?

1. “What is School-Wide PBIS?”
Improving student academic and behavior outcomes is about ensuring all students have access to the most effective and accurately implemented instructional and behavioral practices and interventions possible. SWPBS provides an operational framework for achieving these outcomes. More importantly, SWPBS is NOT a curriculum, intervention, or practice, but IS a decision making framework that guides selection, integration, and implementation of the best evidence-based academic and behavioral practices for improving important academic and behavior outcomes for all students.
2. “What Does School-Wide PBIS Emphasize?”
In general, SWPBS emphasizes four integrated elements: (a) data for decision making, (b) measurable outcomes supported and evaluated by data, (c) practices with evidence that these outcomes are achievable, and (d) systems that efficiently and effectively support implementation of these practices.

Behavioral Expectations
The primary prevention of positive behavioral interventions and supports (PBIS) consists of rules, routines, and physical arrangements that are developed and taught by school staff to prevent initial occurrences of behavior the school would like to target for change.  For example, a school team may determine that disrespect for self, others, and property is a set of behaviors they would like to target for change.  They may choose the positive reframing of that behavior and make that one of their behavioral expectations.  Respect Yourself, Others, and Property would be one of their behavioral expectations.  Research indicates that 3-5 behavioral expectations that are positively stated, easy to remember, and significant to the climate are best. At the end of the year, a researcher should be able to walk into the school and ask ten random students to name the behavioral expectations and 80% or better of the students should be able to tell the researcher what they are and give examples of what they look like in action.
Core Principles of PBIS
  1. We can effectively teach appropriate behavior to all children.  All PBIS practices are founded on the assumption and belief that all children can exhibit appropriate behavior.  As a result, it is our responsibility to identify the contextual setting events and environmental conditions that enable exhibition of appropriate behavior.  We then must determine the means and systems to provide those resources.
  2. Intervene early.  It is best practices to intervene before targeted behaviors occur.  If we intervene before problematic behaviors escalate, the interventions are much more manageable.  Highly effective universal interventions in the early stages of implementation which are informed by time sensitive continuous progress monitoring, enjoy strong empirical support for their effectiveness with at-risk students.
  3. Use of a multi-tier model of service delivery.  PBIS uses an efficient, needs-driven resource deployment system to match behavioral resources with student need.  To achieve high rates of student success for all students, instruction in the schools must be differentiated in both nature and intensity.  To efficiently differentiate behavioral instruction for all students.  PBIS uses tiered models of service delivery.
  4. Use research-based, scientifically validated interventions to the extent available. No Child Left Behind requires the use of scientifically based curricula and interventions.  The purpose of this requirement is to ensure that students are exposed to curriculum and teaching that has demonstrated effectiveness for the type of student and the setting.  Research-based, scientifically validated interventions provide our best opportunity at implementing strategies that will be effective for a large majority of students.
  5. Monitor student progress to inform interventions.  The only method to determine if a student is improving is to monitor the student's progress.  The use of assessments that can be collected frequently and that are sensitive to small changes in student behavior is recommended.  Determining the effectiveness (or lack of) an intervention early is important to maximize the impact of that intervention for the student.
  6. Use data to make decisions.  A data-based decision regarding student response to the interventions is central to PBIS practices.  Decisions in PBIS practices are based on professional judgment informed directly by student office discipline referral data and performance data.  This principle requires that ongoing data collection systems are in place and that resulting data are used to make informed behavioral intervention planning decisions.
  7. Use assessment for three different purposes.  In PBIS, three types of assessments are used: 1) screening of data comparison per day per month for total office discipline referrals, 2) diagnostic determination of data by time of day, problem behavior, and location and 3) progress monitoring to determine if the behavioral interventions are producing the desired effects.
One behavioral incentive our elementary school has implemented recently with the assistance of the PBIS team is what I call the "fuzzies incentives" (sorry, I forgot to take pictures of my fuzzies!).

  Each teacher has a container in their room to keep "fuzzies" collected by students for following one of the three PBIS traits:
1.  Be Responsible
2. Be Respectful
3. Be Safe
Any teacher can give out a fuzzy to an individual student, class, or groups of students when they witness these behaviors but students can never "ask" for a fuzzy.  The students put any fuzzies back in their homeroom containers.  We are using 2 liter pop bottles with the tops cut off.  Then, every week or so, the teachers dump their fuzzies into a big "Culligan" water jug in the main hall by the atrium.  
Grades 3-4 have a combined jug.  Grades 5-6 and grades 1-2 also have combined jugs.  We are waiting to see who can collect the most fuzzies and watch the jugs fill up.  On Monday, we had an assembly to review the PBIS character traits and students demonstrated different positive behaviors on stage.  I think the students are really taking it in and I noticed some great efforts in positive behaviors this week!
I would love to hear about your school district's PBIS incentives if you use this framework!