Monday, December 30, 2013

Going Paleo!

This Teacher-Mom is officially F-A-T and is going Paleo in 2014!  All this research counts as teacher prep now that health has been added to our plates, right?

After a quick trip to Barnes and Noble (did you know you can use your teacher discount on cookbooks? I didn't until today!) I'm devouring Well Fed 2, by Melissa Joulwaa. I love her down to earth advice and sense of humor! The recipes look awesome too :-). Check out her blog:  The Clothes Make the Girl.

While at B &N, I also picked up Paleo Slow Cooking, by Chrissy Gowe...  because, well, it's more realistic than me dancing home, full of energy, and doing any "real" cooking!

I'm super determined to get some of this weight off and improve my overall eating habits. To jump start my diet I also registered for a New Year Nutritional e-Cleanse.  My brother and sister-in-law had great success with it last year!

Please feel free to share what workout and diet tricks are working for you!

Happy New Year!!!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Jingles the Elf

We have a visitor in our classroom again this year!  After much deliberation, our class finally voted on Jingles for our elf's name.  With Butterball and Rudolph as close runners up :-)  Mrs. H's class named their elf Ginger Sparkleton (perhaps Ginger had a previous, less respectable, career in the past?) Ha ha!

Jingles was up to no good last night...

It's taking much more planning with my 6 year old daughter here before and after school this year!  I have to get her out of my classroom before we go home to make all this happen!  But, we're all having fun!!!

Friday, November 15, 2013

Hedgehog Facts, Comprehension, and Salt Dough Art

I've been M.I.A. for about a year now!  I'm going to make a concerted effort to start posting regularly again!

We are at the end of our trimester and are a bit off of our regular schedule, so we dragged our basal story out for two weeks allowing us to do a bit extra.

We've been reading Hedgehog Bakes a Cake by Maryann Macdonald.  Yesterday we made little hedgehogs out of salt dough.  I took them home and baked them last night and today we painted them.  I got the idea and instructions here.  I used more of a skin tone color for the face, dark brown for the body, and gold for the tips of the spines.  Instead of using black pepper peas for the eyes and nose, we made them out of little dough balls and painted them black.  Here are some pictures:

Overall, I think they came out pretty cute.  A few looked more like hippos or other animals, but the kids had fun making them!

In addition to making the salt dough hedgehogs, we read about hedgehogs and worked on some non-fiction reading and comprehension strategies.  Click here for a copy of the reading passage and comprehension questions I created.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Rate Your Writing

As the end of the year is rolling around, I'm identifying areas that I need to emphasize more next year.  One of those areas is writing.  I don't feel like I've focused on it enough this year, so I intend to make it a BIG focus this last trimester and approach it differently next year!

Here is a picture of my writing focus board.

As we are addressing common core this year, there has been a big emphasis on math.  One of the ideas we've talked about a lot is showing examples of student work and talking as a class about strengths and weaknesses.  I see this as a need in writing as well.

I got this "Rate Your Writing" idea from Pinterest, and changed it so that it was more appropriate for second grade.  Click here for the first grade version I stole from :-) This gives students specific examples to compare their work to.  We went over them as a class and talked about adding more detail, staying on topic, etc.  Now as students bring their rough drafts to me I can explain ok, that's a 1 right now, go look at the Rate chart and see if you can add more detail to your writing.

This is a way for students to rate their own writing.  We grade on a 1, 2, 3, 4 scale, but I chose not to use 4 (I used super star instead) because 4's are very difficult to get.  

Here are some close ups.  The first picture -from bottom to top- shows examples of a grade of 1 and 2, and the second is the 3 and Super Star.

In addition, students have writing folders that include a writing dictionary, where we can write words they commonly misspell, and a laminated writer's checklist, so they can edit some on their own.  We are working on peer editing as well.
If you would like a pdf of the Rate Your Writing, pls. leave me a comment with your email and I will send it to you!


Monday, February 25, 2013

Lesson Planning Website

Lesson planning has to be one of my least favorite things to do!  I already have a plan in my head and it's a big pain to formally write them out.  My principal the last few years has required us to turn them in each week, which since I avoided doing them until the last minute, was always a mad rush!  This year I'm lucky and don't have the pressure of having to turn them in, however, we do still have to do them. 

A colleague shared this website at a staff meeting the other day and I am so excited about it!  You can do the free version or it's $25/year (which gives you more features) - there is a free 14 day trial period also.  The best part about this, is that it has a quick search to find your standards and it inserts it into your lesson plans - AWESOME.  You can also turn them into your principal with the push of a button.  I saved mine as a PDF, emailed them to myself, and then opened it in my Kindle app on my iPad... which means no printing.  I don't know if your copy budgets are being cracked down on as hard a ours are - but I feel guilty even being seen in our copy room!

Check this site out by clicking on picture below.  I'm confident you will LOVE it!  Super easy and efficient!


Saturday, February 2, 2013

MLK Wall Mural and Book Talks

For MLK Jr. Day this year, I teamed up with another teacher and we created this amazing wall mural of MLK!  The template came from Art Projects for Kids and was $5. - totally worth it.  Each student in the two classes used oil pastels to color one 8 1/2 x 11 piece of paper.  Then we put it all together and created a huge wall mural. 

I can't take too much credit for the idea, because my co-worker, the amazing and talented Mrs. H came up with the idea. I then begged her to let me include my class :-)  Here is the final product!

How are you addressing this standard? 

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.2.4 Tell a story or recount an experience with appropriate facts and relevant, descriptive details, speaking audibly in coherent sentences.

I am having my students do book talks.  I have them complete these at home and then present them at school.  So far, they have NOT gone well - uggghhh! 

I tried giving them a form to fill out that included title, author, genre, etc.  Then I had a beginning, middle, and end area to help them with their summaries.  What I ended up getting back was, "In the beginning he went to the store, in the middle their was a dog, and at the end he found what he was looking for..." 

So basically, they totally missed the point! It was torturous to listen to the presentations and the kids were completely restless and uninterested!

Luckily, I was browsing through Pinterest, and came across an interesting idea!  I had to modify it big time because it was for the upper grades, but I think the kiddos will have more fun.  Basically, I sent home brown paper bags, a paper (copied on construction paper) that they will complete, cut out and put in the bag, and use as index cards when they present.  On the front of the paper bag, they will illustrate an original picture that captures the main idea of the story. Then they will have the cards and the bag to help them present.

In addition, I have been modeling and showing them video clips of other students giving book talks to help them get a better idea of what kind of summary I am looking for.

I also posted video examples of students giving book talks on my classroom blog for parents to view.  You can check it out at  There is a link at the top of this blog to my classroom site as well!

I am hoping that this will drastically improve the quality of talks and interest in presenting and listening to presentations!  I'll let you know how it goes.  I should mention that I work in a Title I school, so at-home projects can be difficult for some students!

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Winter Blahs and Student Restlessness!

The weather in our area has been terrible the last few weeks! We have had unusually cold temps, snow, and ice storms! So, we have had indoor recess for weeks now! The kiddos are tired of being cooped up inside and are having a hard time concentrating throughout the day!

Out of sheer desperation, I have been trying everything I can think of to get my students to concentrate for more than 30 seconds at a time!  Here are some fun ideas that are working and the kids love!

1) You Tube (my savior!) has some great short (2-3 min.) dance videos. Some just for fun, some with actual educational value - woo hoo! These are a few of my favorites:

Gummy Bear Dance

Shake Your Groove Thing

What Makes Ten

Count to 100 Macarena

If you search Just Dance For Kids, there are tons of fun dances!

2) Acting Time!  Have students get up and act out vocabulary words or act out parts of a story for comprehension. This gets them up and moving and very involved! For math, have them model problems - we are working on the make ten strategy for solving addition problems, so they can get up and move around to make ten frames using themselves as the markers!

3) Lay on floor and visualize for writing. Our last writing assignment I showed students a painting by Georges Seurat, then had them pretend they were in the painting. We laid down on the floor and pictured where we were in the painting, what we saw, felt, heard, etc. 

What are you doing to fight the winter restlessness? I would love more ideas! We are getting up and moving between just about every activity!