Monday, August 31, 2015

One Big Party, sort of...

Our second week was one big party! I am more than sure your kiddos told you all about my birthday. That is because I have teammates that totally spoil me, and every year they spoil me MORE! And this year, the kiddos were pulled into all the fun.

The day started with balloons and doughnuts. Sarah even remembered my favorite and picked up a couple of blueberry cake doughnuts! Whoo hoo! Diet was out the window this day, but I am pretty sure that it is a rule that on your birthday you are NOT allowed to count calories. There were flowers and cards, too. I will overlook the glitter on the card because there was so little of it, Sandy. ;)

Before I knew it, we had more flowers and gifts! What girl doesn't love gifts, right! But not only did I get gifts...a special parent brought birthday goodies for both classes. I would love to share pics but in the madness that ensued...I didn't get any. However, every kiddo received a cupcake, a few laughs, and more fun outside for about 10 extra minutes of recess. 

Now I don't want you to get the idea that we were all play and no work....nope, not this room! We have been trucking right along. I mean just look at my beautiful bookshelves... all covered in anchors. Yes...yes... I know my anchor charts are important to the kiddos, and we refer back to them so often. However... every year I miss looking at that beautiful shelf with all those amazing books ready to be in the hands of my voracious readers!

But what do you have to do with limited wall space for all those anchors we work so diligently to create together each day?...Well you use what you have and for me, that is book shelves. *sad sigh....

You might have noticed a few furniture changes between the two pictures. After our first week, we could definitely see things that needed to be changed and rearranged. A few pieces were taken out, and others put to use in different places to make for a smoother running space. 

Goodness.... I digress....

As I started saying, we have been trucking right along, and I am more than proud of our accomplishments thus far. 

I think we are off to an amazing start in our shared reading.  This is a small thing I do each day with the kiddos...about 15 minutes...and it gives me so much! I have promised my students that if they work really hard during our shared reading and participate by SHARING their THINKING, then they will more than likely never get reading homework from me. Of course other than reading a book! 
I mean no more worksheet-homework, YUCK. I have found that I can get more from this 15 minutes a day than I ever could from all the time it took me to track down the homework that was more than likely slapped on the paper during the bus ride to school the next morning...IF they remembered to do it at all. So for now....they are working their tushes off to give me what I am looking for...because no one WANTS to do a reading worksheet if they don't have to... :) If you know my former students, please do NOT tell them about this because there might be a riot if you do. I haven't always been this nice about homework. I am pretty sure I once heard a kiddo say that they really wanted to be in my class but they hoped not to get me because they heard through the school grapevine that I was the homework queen.YIKES!

Now a little handwriting/ word-study practice is all that they will get from me. Of course other than reading a book! They must always read a book, or two, or three! Not all in one day of course. ;)

With our shared reading, we have created a glossary in the back of our reader's notebooks. Each day as we share and discuss the week's passage, we take note of any new or important vocabulary. We add these words along with their definitions to the correct page of our glossary, and then we create a sentence using that word. When possible, I will allow the kiddos to sketch their ideas or visualization of each word. 

I will then post the vocabulary word on an anchor titled, Our Glossary. This way students can always monitor themselves to make sure they have all needed vocabulary.


We have also had tons of fun with our morning meetings! Love, love, love that we have a Responsive Classroom! We have become a family and gotten to know each other so much more quickly with our morning meetings.

I Mustache You is one of my most favorite shares. 

Brain breaks are just as important as our morning meeting shares and activities. :) Sometimes you just need to get up and move and maybe even giggle a little! This is quick idea that I actually stole from one of our back-to-school meetings in the beginning of the year. Yes... I have played this game too, and let me just say my kiddos are far better than I am. Ha!

Below is a picture of our weekly journals. These are journals that we write in each week as a reflection of our learning and accomplishments. I wish I could take credit for this insanely brilliant idea, but if you know me, well then you know I probably haven't had an original idea in years. I get all of my magic from the wonderful teachers around me, and this beauty came from my friend, Dawn from Teach to Each

At the time she was teaching first, so I had to tweak it a little for fourth. Let me tell you though ...this has quickly worked its way to becoming one of my most favorite learning tools. We do this from the first week of school to the last week, and watching the growth in writing is so fun! 

Each week as we cover new skills, students are expected to use those skills in their letters. This week we discovered how to correctly use a semicolon, so the kiddos had to use a semicolon correctly as they wrote to their families. Such a quick assessment and parent communication all in one!

I try to include pictures throughout the year, a few every couple of weeks. Again, watching my students grow not only academically but emotionally and physically as well is so fun and enlightening. Man the growth spurts in fourth grade... you don't even realize it until you compare those pics. So crazy!

I am not the only one that gets to enjoy this...the parents and family members that invest in this two-way conversation each week have such an amazing keepsake at the end of the year. A complete journal of their fourth grade year, written in their own sweet little voices! LOVE, LOVE, LOVE it! And I love that I work with such talented teachers that share their inspiring ideas!

I will share more examples and photos here as we continue journaling away!

I came up over the weekend and spent a good amount of time working around my room and on bulletin boards or displays in the hallway. I am so excited about these. These are more magic from Donalyn Miller, the Book Whisperer! Have I mentioned how much I love her ideas? I can't wait to see this grow!

I am still giving it my best to stay on it my best to become healthier step by step. My most favorite walks always include Josh or Katiebyrd. Katie and her fiance came and walked with me the night before my birthday. Nothing better than spending time with my own kiddos. Now that they are all going off in their own directions, anytime I get with them at all is so special.  I now have a new favorite picture of Katiebyrd and Joshua...look at those cuties!

Speaking of Katibyrd...have I told you? She is engaged! She will be getting married in June, and she could NOT be more excited. Here she is after having just decided on her venue. She will be getting married at St. John's Chapel by the Creek, and I cannot wait to see what an amazingly beautiful bride she will be! I know... I know.... right now you are thinking that I couldn't possibly be old enough to have a daughter getting boggles the mind doesn't it! ;)

So much happening in such a short time! I am so blessed to have such sweet and hard working kiddos and just as blessed to work with such an amazing group of teachers and parents that I call friends.... and that spoil me so!

Happy Reading, friends!

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