Sunday, September 14, 2014

Nothing Ever Happens at Southside

Hello, hello my sweet friends. I have hijacked my hubbies hot spot to finally get on and get another post out there.

Our internet is still spotty at best, and posting from my phone is pretty challenging...I gave it a shot...I bravely typed away for a bit, then went back to read what my clumsy thumbs left behind. Oh my....

So here I am playing a little bit of catch up to share the some of the awesome happenings in our classroom.

As many of you know, launching writing workshop is one of my most favorite parts of the year. I love to immerse the kiddos in as many great little picture books as I can! Many of them are my go-to favorites, but every year I try to add new ones to our collection.

I started last week with Nothing Ever Happens on 90th Street by Roni Schotter. This seems to be a go-to for most teachers, and no wonder as it is jam packed with amazing language and great advice to new writers. It is a bit on the wordy side, so this year I broke up the lesson over two days. After reading the first half of the book, we took a tour of Southside to see if..."Nothing Ever Happens at Southside."



 




As we walked around the school, kiddos wrote down everything they saw or heard.

 

After day two, we came in and started writing our own stories.

 





We then shared our stories. The kiddos got a kick out of seeing all the different ways to write about the same ideas.



Our morning meetings have been a blast! These kiddos have been in a Responsive Classroom building for quite a few years now, so every morning comes easy to them. We have greeted each other in many ways already this year, but our Snowball Fight is by far their favorite greeting. We each wrote our name on a piece of paper and wadded it up to become our snowball. When I called go, snowballs went flying amid gales of laughter. When I called stop, kiddos picked up the closest snowball and greeted the owner of the snowball. 





I know this post is short and sweet, but I want to get a bit out while I can. Hopefully more posts will follow this week!

Happy Reading, friends!





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Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Falling into the groove

Oh my...I have been fighting a bitter battle with my internet provider to get this post published...and as the battle continues this evening, I have retreated to my phone. Our service has not been the same since our latest tornado,  but in the rare moments that frustration sets in, I remind myself how blessed we were when others lost so much. Please bear with me here and there as some posts may take longer to publish than others.

We have had a very successful second week of school.  Routines and expectations are becoming familiar and comfortable. We have been crazy, busy...but all that productive busy~ness is falling into a comfortable groove for the kiddos.

Honestly, I am not even sure where to begin with our week...I guess I will start with how the kiddos are loving book nooks. :) The always fall in love with the novelty of sitting where you want to read what you want. It takes a bit of structured practice to get them doing it productively. Well...maybe not just a bit, more like A LOT! But we practice and practice and practice some more until finally we can sit just about anywhere and actively read and respond to our reading. It may not look pretty at first, but we get there eventually.

 

In writing workshop, we have remained focused on where writers get their ideas, and we have used our writer's notebook to capture all those amazing ideas. 

We created our "Writer's Eye."  I shared my own example of my "Writer's Eye" (I) as explained by Jeff Anderson in Mechanically Inclined. (I have also seen it on Julie Ballew's amazing website A Literate Life.) This will be one more resource for the kiddos to use as they begin working towards completing their narratives. Using our writer's eye to look closely at ourselves is a perfect way to gather the ideas that just may lead to the perfect story.





Those of you that follow me and know me well just  happen to know that this is the week that I celebrate turning 29 again. ;) It's only the 14th anniversary of being 29, but who's counting? 

My sweet hubbie made a surprise visit to drop off a delicious treat for the big day. That wasn't disruptive at all. ;) Hehe...ahhhh well....the kiddos all got a kick out of seeing him, and my team and I sure enjoyed the yummies for lunch.

Sweet surprise! 
And sweet card made by one of my kiddos....love it!




In all of our hard work, we even made some time for fun outside. It was difficult to find a moment that wasn't too terribly hot for the kiddos. It seems like we spent much of the week inside, so stretching our legs outside was a treat. I must say that I did get a bit of a kick watching some of my girls give my boys a schooling on how to play some football! So funny!


 



Just hanging out with friends!
I love this picture...it says so much about this sweet group!




My amazing team took me out on the town to celebrate that anniversary of some certain birthday that I might have mentioned... they totally outdid themselves and I have some wonderful (and quite hysterical) memories! Thanks for the fun times, sweet friends!









I want to close by showing off how hard the kiddos are working on making good book recommendations. I have quite a few of my own I would love to share, but since it has now taken me three days to battle my way through poor internet connections to bring you this riviting post, I shall wait for another time. ;)

Just know that your kiddos are working hard and reading much for me! But don't let them fool you...they MUST read at home as well!

Be on the look out for kiddo book recommendations on this very blog in the very near future!

Thanks again for your patience, and most of all....thank you for sharing your most prized possession with me every day! I know how much you love them!

Happy Reading, friends!



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Sunday, August 24, 2014

Our First Week is in the Books!

Yes...summer is over. Not only do I have to remember the day of the week, but oh my...I have to wake up to an alarm! Those that know me well know that this is certainly something that is NOT in my wheelhouse. Goodness...there were a couple of pretty violent snooze punches this week. 

Ah well... early or not, I have genuinely enjoyed our first week back! Every year I think that it is just not possible for me to love what I do any more than I do, and every year I am proved wrong. This new round of kiddos has me excited for all the possibilities. It is going to be an awesome year, and we have certainly started off productively!

As always, we launched our Reading Workshop with a huge, and frankly quite messy, book frenzy! Stacks of books were given to each kiddo - this is when I love my huge library. Each stack contains books just below, comfortably within, and just above their reading levels and lots of their favorite genres, subjects, and authors. Watching them make their final selections and conferencing with them clues me in to just how well each kiddo is at making appropriate book choices.

Garrett checking out blurbs to create his
"to read" pile in his cubby

Stacks of "to read" piles in cubbies...as we conference and work
together on reading, adjustments will be made to help kiddos
continue growing and motivated in their independent reading
Of course, my ultimate goal is to get them reading and responding to the books they love as quickly as possible.... AND to do as much of that as possible WITHOUT unnecessary interruption from me.

 

 

I am a big believer that kiddos DO NOT get nearly enough uninterrupted independent reading throughout the day. So I definitely try to give them as much as possible in my room. It is always my goal to guide each student as unobtrusively as possible, but we do need time to talk about our reading as well. 

A quick round of Mix-Pair-Share to discuss
our book choices :)

I certainly couldn't launch a crazy book frenzy
without my awesome new librarians...
not sure if they know the enormity of the task
they have agreed to take on :)


Our writing workshop is launched right along side reading workshop... getting the kiddos comfortable and established in the routines and procedures of writing workshop can be challenging, but we are on our way to some fun writing!

We created our writer's notebooks!

  

Some of my favorite personal notebooks


And our heart maps...

 

 



Of course I had to read some of my favorite picture books....

   

This year's kiddos were overwhelmingly impressed with the engravings of Barry Moser in What You Know First. Such a beautiful book!


We had a surprise visitor in our first week back....my new Marine stopped by to say hello! He took a few minutes to talk to the kiddos and answer questions. So proud of him!  They seemed to get a kick out of it, and they had some great questions for him. 

 

He stopped by after visiting another teacher at our local high school... this sweet, sweet lady had the opportunity to visit the MCRD in San Diego and small worlds of small worlds, she was able to meet and eat lunch with Justin. After not hearing from him for months, she called and delivered precious news about how he was doing in bootcamp. I will forever be grateful to her for such a simple act of kindness. :)




I also had a couple of former (and present lol) kiddos come back to visit me after school. They were totting little sister around with them as they visited teachers. The expression on his face is cracking me up, and that is not even HIS little sister...she belongs to the boy on the left....haha. 




I am sure you will all be surprised, but I made a stop by my fave book store this weekend. Whoop whoop! Ah... the feeling of peace that comes from walking into a good book store! It's like coming home!

Well...even more surprising... I found a new favorite picture book.

Little tidbit here...I am a sucker for a picture book that started as a song... I have quite a few, and I just can't help myself when I find a new one. 

Jon J Muth did an AMAZING job painting this beautiful song by Bob Dylan. LOVE! LOVE! LOVE! Oh...and it has a CD... happy dance! I cannot wait to share this one!


I also finished reading the sweetest and most skillfully written little book. Sheila Turnage has such a beautiful way with words, and more than once I caught myself stopping and rereading a certain part just to wallow in the magic of it. It is no wonder that it was a Newberry Honor Book, and I cannot wait to read it to my kiddos. I am in love with Mo Lebeau and all of her southern stubbornness! Such an unforgettable character!


I guess that's it for now, my blogging peeps. I will say goodnight until next time.

Happy Reading, friends!


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