Diary of a Not So Wimpy Teacher: January 2014

Are you ready for some football??!!!

I am so excited! The week before the Super Bowl is my favorite week in my classroom!

You can read a couple posts about my party last year HERE and HERE. It was so fun that I plan to keep most of it the same this year. I am just adding a few new things!

First of all, I wanted to give my students a chance to read informational text about super bowls. They will be reading THESE close read passages every morning.


I think that the kids will love the passages so much that they won't even realize they are learning and practicing their informational text comprehension!

I am also adding a couple new math games to our party.

They will be practicing their division facts with THIS fun football game.


And we can always use some more practice with our multiplication facts. We will be using the football roll and cover from THIS sports bundle.


I can't wait to start my Super Bowl of reading tomorrow! That is my favorite activity!

I will post some pics during the week of our fun!

Reading Groups and Literacy Centers and a FREEBIE

If you follow me on FACEBOOK (which of course you do!) then you know that recently redid my reading groups and literacy centers.

Last quarter I was team teaching during reading groups. I was working with the enrich and on-level students. I had great reading passages to work with and groups were pretty simple and functional. I had taught procedures and routines so my students knew exactly what to expect which made my groups run smoothly. The plan was to continue these groups this quarter. In fact, I had three weeks of reading groups planned and prepped! I was feeling very accomplished! Two days before reading groups were scheduled to start back up, I found out that I would no longer be team teaching. BUMMER! So I got a bit angry. Then that turned to sadness. And FINALLY it turned into determination to create something new and better! And sometime around 4 AM, I think I figured out how to make it all happen!!!

We are two days in to our new routines, but it looks so smooth that you would think the students had been doing this all year. And I am SOOO much happier! I thought I would share our new plan.

First, I went from three reading groups to four. I have wanted to all year and I finally got the ok to do so! Now my intervention group only has 5 students! YES! I can better differentiate!



I made some cute signs to match my sports themed room. SCORE!

I only have one hour to meet with my reading groups. And 15 minutes never seems like enough time to go deep into text while still reviewing phonograms and sight words. So I decided to meet with only 2 groups per day. Since I have reading groups 4 days per week, I will meet with each group twice per week for a total of one hour. I LOVE this schedule!

Monday and Wednesday: Meet with my top two reading groups
Tuesday and Thursday: Meet with my bottom 2 reading groups

The students have three other centers to work on: Language, Technology and Read to Self

On the days that they meet with me, they also do their language centers. I am SOOO excited to finally have more grammar practice in my daily schedule. I used these centers last year, but never could find time for them this year.

I have 12 shoe box tubs that are labeled with numbers.


The students all have a monthly workbook...

And on the back of the notebook, they have a list of the center topics. The numbers correlate with the numbers on the tubs. As they complete a center, they hole punch the button above the number. So they have choice about the order!

Inside each bin in a baggie with a cover sheet taped to the front.

Inside they find cards to do sorts with. They record the answer in their workbook.

My kids love these centers and I love that they are simple enough for them to complete independently.

On days that they don't meet with me they are doing technology and read to self.

Our technology center consists of using chromebooks and working on our i-Ready lessons.


The read to self center changed a little. I thought that reading for 30 minutes straight might be challenging for some of my kiddos. And I really wanted them to show me they were really reading! So the new plan is that they read for the first 20 minutes (I set a timer). Then the last ten minutes they spend writing about what they read in their reading response journal. They use THESE great reading menus to guide their writing. The kids LOVE it!



The best part for me is that I have more time to work with each reading group when they come to meet with me!

For my intervention group, we go over phonogram cards every time. We also use THIS game to practice sight words.



Then we still have time to read passages together!

For my enrich groups, I trained them to come back and begin reading whatever I left on the table with their accountability partner. And to make things fun, I created THIS fun table of how they will read with their partner. They love it! And you can grab it for FREE!



After they read, we still have lots of time to practice skills and fill out graphic organizers together!

After a week of running centers this way I am on cloud nine! Everyone is getting more of what they need! I only wish I had started this sooner!

Feel free to leave a comment about your reading groups!


Book Clubs

I love book clubs! I decided this year that I wanted ALL of my students to get to participate in a book club. Often times, just the enrich groups get the opportunity.

Here is how I did book clubs this year:
I split my class into four groups and assigned them a book based on their ability level. I assigned a certain number of chapters to read each night. This was different for each group since I wanted them to finish the book at the same time and they were all reading different books. I also assigned a writing assignment for each week. This assignment is done in a composition book that is due once a week. I told the students that they could do the reading and the writing during their read to self center if they chose. Otherwise, they needed to do it for homework. I also gave the groups time to meet each week and discuss what they read and wrote. This helped with my speaking and listening standards! And at the end of the book, we did a project IN CLASS. No parent homework! This made my parents very happy and more willing to make sure their student turned in their weekly assignment. Students who did not complete their weekly assignment on time were assigned a traditional report that they had to complete at home. I had a few who chose this route. :-(

Last quater we were working on informational text. So I assigned each of my book clubs books on a state. At the end of the quarter they made state parade floats. WHOA! I was shocked by the facts they had retained! They had a blast making their floats and parents loved that they didn't have to do it at home!






All of these projects were done by students! Yay!

I just posted a brand new product that I plan to use with me book clubs. It is a game that really encourages students to talk about what they are reading. Check it out HERE.

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My kids are going to have a blast with this! And shouldn't reading be fun?!!

How do you organize book clubs?

Celebrating Writers

Last year I really struggled with teaching writing. The hour seemed so LONG! And many of my kids seemed unmotivated. This year, I vowed to work on making writing more meaningful and engaging. I only made some small changes, but I think they made a BIG impact!

One thing I knew I needed to do was to find ways to celebrate my writers. I was hoping to increase motivation and I think that is exactly what it did! I keep a published writing binder displayed on a shelf in my classroom. Of course I had to have something to match my sports theme...


After the kids conference with me and make any needed changes, they can publish their writing on this fun colored lined paper!

I found the paper at Wal-Mart and Staples.

The kids can't wait to use the colored paper so they work really hard on their revisions! SCORE!

AND to make it even more fun, I allow students to read their published piece to the class using a megaphone! Perfect for our class theme!

How do you celebrate your students writing?

Teachers Have Heart!

A dear teacher at my school was in a serious car accident. Even more than two months after the accident, she is struggling with her health. In addition to her own medical struggles, her son is very ill. He has recently undergone surgery and the results were not what everyone had hoped and prayed for. Even so, this teacher has remained positive and optimistic through all of these trials. As you can imagine, the medical bills are steep. I wanted to do something to help.

I was overwhelmed by the generosity of my TpT family. Talented sellers donated EIGHTEEN different products to help teachers plan for January and February!!! Every cent made from this product will be donated to the family for their health expenses.


The unit can be purchased HERE.


In this unit you will find:
Super Bowl Close Read Passages
Valentine's Day No Prep Centers
ABC Order by the Second Letter- Winter Theme
Addition Center- Adding 2 Three-Digit Numbers
Odd or Even Center- Winter Theme
Capitalization Center- Winter Theme
Fact of Opinion Task Cards: American Symbols
My School Adjectives
Number Puzzles
New Year's: A Booklet of Fun & Facts
Chevron Hearts Clip Art
Colorful Cupcakes Clip Art
My Writing Checklist Bundle
Singular Sentences: Winter Edition
Snowball Addition
Create a Snowman Addition Center
Sports Bundle: Roll, Add and Color
Word Race

This is a ton of product for a very small price!!! Please check it out and feel free to share and pin so we can get the word out! The unit will only be available for the month of January. Act quick!

Common Core Math Journal Make-Over and SALE!

So last night I was so super proud as I wrote a blog post about how it was only the second day of the year and I was already blogging. I put photos and links in my post and clicked on "publish." And that is when I got an error message!!! My blog post was gone! I was too bummed to rewrite my post last night. So instead, it is the third day of the year and I am still proud of myself for blogging! The goal this year is to blog at least once per week. I am much better with updating my Facebook page. And I also do quite a few flash freebies on there. So follow me! :-)

Now on to my exciting news... my best selling product is my Third Grade Common Core Math Journal. It has 100 math prompts that ask students to provide evidence, examples or explain the steps they took to solve a problem. There are multiple prompts for every single Third Grade Common Core Standard! I use these journals in my classroom. I would show you a picture, but I dropped my phone in the toilet and lost my pictures. :-) ANYWHO-- I gave this awesome project a make-over! I changed out all the clip art to be super cute line-art from Mealonheadz so that it will print and copy nicer!


Since the prompts address each of the standards, I have been using them for assessments on my standards based report card!
 I also added some sentence starters to help your students learn to write about math.
 There are 100 math prompts with the standard clearly labeled at the top!
AND since I am so excited about the new look- I put my journal on sale! But the sale only goes until 10 o'clock MST tonight!

Want to try before you buy??? Download the preview to get 5 FREE prompts from the unit! I promise you will love them!

Have a happy Friday! I know I will be doing lots of relaxing during my last three days of break! (And some more creating too!)