Thursday, August 18, 2016

Creating Close Reading Kits for Your Students


As teachers we must make sure that students are using Close Reading skills so that we can enhance their comprehension.

In order to teach them how to close read we have to make sure that they have the appropriate tools. 
Enter: Close Reading Kits

Understanding what you are reading is an important part of ensuring that students can read. Students need to understand how to pay close attention to details. Close Reading Kits give students the tools to aid them in being able to take notes and respond while they are reading. This will help them to be able to better comprehend.

Here is a look at what I have included in my the close reading kits that my students use. They have a pencil, a highlighter, an eraser, Post-it Notes, and a Bookmark giving them reminders of what to put down and questions to answer as they read (find these in the freebie below).

Pencils are used first and foremost for writing our name on our paper! Then they can also use it to start by chunking their text summarizing their text in the margins or on paper. Of course they can also use a pencil to write on their sticky notes.

Highlighters: My students use highlighters to highlight Bold and underlined words, the title, footnotes, and captions. They also use them to highlight their answers to any questions and their evidence. 

Eraser: My students tend to erase a lot especially as they are writing their summaries, so I have included the eraser to help them out!

Post-Its: These are used to take notes on or to hold the students place in the passage or book if necessary.

Bookmarks: I included the bookmarks to give my students a reminder of what symbols they could use as they are doing their close reads. On the other sides of the bookmarks I provided them with questions they can answer as they are reading.

There are many great ways to store the materials in your kits. Photo boxes from your local craft store have plenty of room for all of your materials. The ones in the picture above came from Michaels! I always need a little color in my life! You can also use Ziploc Bags like in the other picture above. The reminder of the tools fits right in front and the tools sit behind it. Pencil Pouches and Pencil Boxes also make great storage solutions.

Student Numbers/ Names: Managing the kits does not have to be a hassle!  I know how my angels are so to help them, I have put their Student Numbers on each one of their kits and the supplies that are inside the kit in the event that one of my babies gets sticky fingers.  If your students don't have numbers you could label them with the student names

Kit Monitors: Make this a job in your classroom. You can give this job to just one responsible student or maybe you have team leaders in your workstation groups and that person can be responsible for handing out the kits as needed. 

Easy Access: Make sure that your kits are in a place where students can reach them. It would be so annoying for 20 students to come to you at one time looking for their kit.

Don't forget to teach your students how to use the kits before giving them out. Go over each of the symbols and go through a few texts with them before letting them go out on their own! 

Be sure to click on the image below to pick up your freebie with all of the print-outs that I have put in my close reading kits!

What else would you include in your kits?

Monday, August 15, 2016

Summer STEM Recap

This summer my district decided that all students should be involved in some type of STEM program! #Winning... It was a fun and engaging time for each of the kids to be able to take a break from there regularly scheduled summer school program and to get down and dirty with Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. 

I was one of the three teachers at my school that got the chance to participate and let me tell you it was FUN! It was almost more fun for me than the kids. 

The Program that they used, Camp Invention, was awesome because they sent all of the kids T-Shirts and they sent all of the Supplies that students would need for each STEM project. As broke  teachers you know it can be hard to find all of the materials to have have such a program,

Check out the kids below as we build critical thinking skills and teamwork. Then click on the image at the bottom for a Free STEM Questionnaire. 

 Here students are playing outdoor games as we work on team building.

 Students are working on filling out their STEM Questionnaire so we can see what they already know about STEM.
Students are working together to build a dancing "spider".

 Students are working together to build a dancing "spider".
 Students are using a catapult to try and get a cotton ball to the squishy stuff. They had to get it at just the right angle.
Students had to find a way for a cricket to get across a puddle. This group build a bridge for their cricket.

 This group wanted to start with their cricket going down a slide. Students had to write a plan and draw their design before they could actually build it.

This group started off building a bridge. But they wanted to incorporate a sling shot too!

We did many other fun projects in our 5 weeks this summer! We had a blast! Now grab this STEM questionnaire to use in your classroom by clicking on the image below!

Do you do STEM projects in your classroom. Leave a comment and tell me about one of your favorites!

Monday, July 18, 2016

GRWM: Word Study Part 1

HI suck at doing word study... and that's only because I usually forget to go find the Words Their Way Book , make copies of the pages, and cut out a copy to have ready for my kids to complete together when I introduce it. 

I am using the time I have this summer to make sure that I am organized and ready to go with my word study materials so that I don't have this problem again! Come along and get word study ready with me!

I am dedicating part one to organizing those sorts you will need to introduce each sort. It will be uber easy if you start now and have those ready to go when school starts. 

My school requires us to use Words Their Way... If you have something better it will still be easy if you organize your materials now!

Supplies... If you are using Words Their Way then of course you use one of these books..
Of course if you are using Words Their Way then you want to start with the different Words Their Way Books... Which ever books fit your grade level... If you don't want to buy the books you may even be able to Google "Words Their Way" and find something useful.

This is a bead organizer... You will need several of these. I am using this to store each sort in.  I started by putting a number in the bottom of each compartment to represent the sort number. 

Colored paper is a must! Astrobrights makes primary cardstock as well which you use to copy your sorts onto. The sorts that I am making for myself are printed on the color of paper that matches the book. 

Then of course you will want to laminate them for durability.
And then finally I am using these little baggies to put each sort in.

So I started putting each sort on the color of paper that corresponds to the book.

And then laminate each sort.

I then numbered the insides  of the different sections of the organizer with the same number of each sort.

Next up I cut out the sorts and stored them in the small baggies. I folded them the best I could to sit inside of each section in the bead organizer.

And now I am all done and my Words Their Way Sort sit nicely on a shelf so I just have to pull them out when it is time to start a sort with a group!

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

My Summer Reading List

 At 3:45 today it will be officially summer for me! YAY! I've been watching so many people.. jealous... they have been on summer break for A LONG TIME!!! I can't kid myself... I have summer school orientation tomorrow and Friday so there is no real break... but its all good.

With the start of summer... comes my summer reading list! For the last two summers I have really focused on the math content, so this summer all of the professional books that I read will be geared toward reading. I'm not really a "reading" person, so Im trying to find as much joy in that as I have in math. My enthusiasm in Math has attacked my students so I need that to happen in reading too!

So here is my summer reading list... Its a long one! One book a week is the goal!

First I'll start with the books I'm reading for personal gain and enjoyment. I absolutely love Priscilla Shirer so I want to read more of her books as I try to gain a closer relationship with GOD.

 Also  after reading the movie Roots... i decided to read the book since I haven't done that yet!

Now for the professional books...
I read the The Next Step in Guided Reading Every Summer just refresh on Guided Reading.

So as you can see I will be focusing mainly on Language Arts Block this summer!

Have you read any of these? What other book recommendations do you have for me? Leave your suggestions in the comments!

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Year 6... Reflections

All Praises to God... Year number 6 is over. Well I have 3 more teacher days,but I am done with my angels.

This year was particularly interesting with all sorts of new types of responsibilities. All of a sudden I was in my third year of third grade, I was grade level chair and inclusion teacher. 

By now with it being my third year in third grade, i had a good idea about the curriculum, so that wasn't a major issue. My kids were good for the most part until February when I got a boy that was very "spirited" and couldn't read. He hid behind those three letters... IEP.. and for some reason we just kept pushing him along.

Now I was happy to take the lead a grade level chair, but I was working with a whole new team. I was the only experienced member of the team. Everybody else was BRAND NEW. One teacher was even brand new to the school. Let me say, Working in an inner city school is not for everybody. And unfortunately it wasn't for her. So she struggled, the kids struggled, and that impacted the rest of the team. But I digress. I worked on a team, where not all of my teammates were open to my suggestions. Not only that, but some even came a little cliquey.. And I hate that, only because the main reason any of should have been there was for the benefit of the children. I say all that to say that team leader was not a responsibility that I took lightly, but at the same time it was hard. I need everybody to be on the same page. Not for me, but for the success of the students. 

Inclusion was interesting this year... but a good interesting. I enjoyed it. We didn't have many third graders with IEPs so I did not have the inclusion experience with another teacher, but instead I had the most amazing assistant. I'm crazy... she was crazy so we worked very well together. She is applying for teaching positions for the fall so I won't get to work with her again, but she picked up on the curriculum very fast and was so eager to provide the students with what they needed.

Overall it was a good year, my students succeeded. I achieved my goal of having the majority of them like math... lol.. and now they do... No really.. 93% of my students listed math as their favorite subject and I didn't even have to bribe them! Thats 13 out of 14 students. LOL.. That makes me feel great as I embark upon this mathematical leadership degree.

I can't wait for some relaxation this summer and to see what the next school year has in store for me!

How was your school year?

Thursday, April 21, 2016



So of course... if you didn't know

I'm a Teacher... and I go to school everyday... No really everyday

and whats funny to me is that other people always have something to say 

about what goes on in my classroom, But...

I need them to know their opinions are in the way.

I mean really... What I do

Has no major impact on you


Unless you are one of the 20 faces that smiles at me every morning.

Unless you are learning how to multiply or divide from me,

Unless I teach you your ABCs or how to read

Unless I sail the 5 oceans blue with you

Unless we travel from Africa, to Asia, and Europe too

Unless I share with you my love for all things math

Unless I'm preparing you to go down a fullfilling path

Unless you entrust me with your most precious gift

Unless I am helping you to make an shift.

Don't get my wrong

Teamwork is a good song

But not if you have something negative to say

because I'm the one in the classroom with my kids from day to day

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Making Map Skills

It's no secret learning map skills really isn't that fun.. 

We started out by adding a map to our interactive notebooks, labeling it with the continents, making sure we include the prime meridian and the equator and idenitfying the four hemispeheres. 

We then went on to add the map mini book to our interactive notebooks as well so that we could dig in a little bit deeper into the shape of each continent.

Finally, before assessing we played one of my favorite games, Geography Swat. You can read all about that here

It was finally time to assess and what better way to assess kids and their map skills than actually constructing a map. 

Giving kids the continents and having them decide the approximate location of where the continents and oceans are is one way to check for understanding! 

In our district we also have to be able to identify the Equator and the Prime Meridian and then the 4 hemispheres. So you see that added as well!