Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Summer Reading

I am linking up with the Clutter Free Classroom.

My summer reading list keeps growing.  I don’t know much about Daily 5 so I kind of want to check out Daily 5 and Cafe.  I listed out a lot of the books I wanted to read this summer for Jessica Stanford’s linky party.

My ongoing read that has been so rewarding is 1000 Gifts by Ann Voskamp.  Her blog is amazing!  The insight and photography she shares daily always lift my spirits and often bring tears to my eyes. The book is about finding joy in the midst of despair and in everyday life.  She shares that joy is found through expressing gratitude to God by counting the gifts in our lives.  So I am working on my gratitude list while reading the book.  I am reading it very slowly because I find something transforming and life altering in every chapter (if not every page). I have always struggled with negativity, stress, and being a worrier, so finding my way back to joy through focusing on heavenly things and gratitude to Christ has been so transforming the last few months!

The other main books I want to finish this summer are The Children’s Civil War and Dance with Dragons.  I tend to prefer fiction to nonfiction, so I have been trying to really spend some time with the Children’s Civil War for months.  I actually am very interested in studying different periods of American history from how they affected children. Dance with Dragons is Book 5 in Song of Ice and Fire.  Anyone been watching Game of Thrones on HBO?  This is the series the show is based on.  When I got married 8 years ago, my husband introduced me to SciFi/Fantasy.  I definitely prefer Fantasy novels to SciFi.  I have read many genres of fiction over the years, but most important is finding an author who develops good plots, characters, and writes well. 

With all the controversy over 50 Shades of Grey, I am a little curious about it but have heard it is very poorly written.  I enjoy Fantasy and Paranormal Romance books because there is a lot more to the plot like crime fighting, magic, or intrigue.  I am suspicious that with 50 Shades there will not be enough to the plot to keep my interest.  I have read a lot of Laurell K. Hamilton’s books, but I lost interest when they became too focused on the dirty stuff and her writing is not that great anyway.
With trying to be more heavenly focused, 50 Shades probably wouldn’t be the best read for me right now anyway.

Authors worth reading:

For Fantasy: The Song of Ice of Fires series by George R. R. Martin is worth reading. I also enjoy the authors Anne Bishop and Jacqueline Carey.  The Kushiel series by Jacqueline Carey is amazing!  I enjoy it every time I read it!  They are a little darker, but she writes beautifully and the plot is always intriguing and complicated.

For classic literature, I love Jane Austen.  The list of classics I would like to read though is huge.  I need to sit down and find the time make the time. 

For Christian authors, I love Francine Rivers, Lori Wick, and Karen Kingsbury.

For regency Romance novels, I enjoy Stephanie Laurens and Johanna Lindsey.  (They might be formulaic, but they write much better than most Romance novelists).

My favorite Young Adult authors are Ann Rinaldi, Libba Bray, and Sharon Creech.  For Juvenile novels, I enjoy Andrew Clements, Louis Sachar, Scott O’Dell, Blue Balliett, and most Newberry Award winners.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Rockin' Resources Linky Party

I am linking up with Kelley at Teacher Idea Factory (who has a super cute blog design by the way) for a Rockin' Resources Linky Party.

There were a few resources I could not live without as a teacher.

1. Edhelper

When I first started teaching I had become certified through Alternative Certification, so a lot of my learning about teaching has been through books, the web, and trial and error.  Edhelper gave me a place to get started for extra resources.  I started teaching at a small private school where I taught 3 different grades.  Edhelper's literature units and History printables allowed me quick access when I had so many things to plan for. They also have great resources for Seasonal activities, word wall printables, Spelling, writing prompts, Math worksheets and all sorts of stuff.  It is only about $20 a year and well worth it!

2. Scholastic

Scholastic was the first place I started building my classroom library, and I love the dollar deals.

3. Vera Bradley

I love colorful totes!  I have to carry everything, and I misplace things.  So I finally just kept the necessary things in a giant tote and it became a portable desk I kept with me always.  It helped me cut down on losing things because it stayed in my tote instead of buried on my desk.

4. My craft apron

Since I am like my Dad and I lose things, I had this genius idea to find a craft apron.  I thought about making it, but decided it was more fun to buy it already made off of Etsy.  So I bought a craft apron so I always had giant pockets to put my keys, pens, markers, post-its, stickers - all those things I would get distracted and put down somewhere never to find again.

5. Papermate Flair Marker Pens
I love these things!  They made grading way more fun!  (if grading can be fun...)

6. Laura Candler's Filing Cabinet

Laura Candler's website is where I first learned about Reading and Writing Workshop.  It gave me a place to get started.  Her facebook page led me to the world of teacher bloggers.  So I will always love her website and amazing resources!
I look forward to checking out all the other rockin' resources!

Monday, May 28, 2012

Memorial Day Ideas and Writing Inspiration

I have been trying to finish this post for like 3 days.  So finally in time: Happy Memorial Day!

Times like Memorial Day, Veteran's Day, and 9/11 are great opportunities with your students to discuss everyday heroes. Last year for 9/11 we talked about heroes and created quilt squares to remember 9/11. This was an activity from Scholastic. After the students designed their quilt squares, I glued them all to construction paper and laminated them.  There are a couple pictures below to show you some of them.  The students really enjoyed seeing their quilt squares displayed in the hallway. I have made a Memorial Day quilt square freebie that you can download at my TpT store.

If you are still in school and need some other Memorial Day ideas, here are some great ideas I found on different websites:

You can find all sorts of links and printables at Apples for the Teacher.

There are tons of great ideas at Education World: lesson plan ideas and activities like making a Memorial Day book, windsock, and internet scavenger hunt.

Here is a list of Memorial Day books for kids at Apples 4 the Teacher.

Here is a list of Patriotic themes and activities at Scholastic.

Here is an article on Memorial Day from Time for Kids.

Lots of printables at Teacher Vision.

Now Writing Inspiration for Memorial Day

To go with the writing inspiration this week, I have made a Hero Writing Packet that is on sale at my TpT store as part of the Memorial Day "Sale"abration.  It includes the quotes, the poem, questions on the poem, a paper to think what it means to be a hero, a prewriting graphic organizer, and lined paper for students to write about their personal hero. There is lined paper for young students and older students.

Picture: Graves at Arlington Cemetary (Source is Wikipedia)

Discuss why it is important to remember the fallen.  What did they die to protect?  I think it is important for students to remember these holidays are about more than parades, flags, sunny days, and cookouts.

Poem: "The Heroes We Never Name" by M. Lucille Ford
I think this is a really great poem to prompt discussion about everyday heroes and what makes a hero.

Quotes:  Heroes
I found several really great quotes for Memorial Day and to think about what it is to be a hero. 

(The quotes are framed by frames from the 3am Teacher)

Blessings and Happy Memorial Day!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Finish Strong and a Summer Reading Tic-Tac-Toe Board

For this week's writing inspiration, I chose finishing strong.

Poem: "See It Through" by Edgar Albert Guest

This poem is about finishing strong and seeing things through even when it seems too difficult.  This does not directly apply to the end of the school year, but you could discuss struggles you have faced as a class this year and how you overcame them.  This would be a great poem to discuss imagery.  Maybe have students write their own poems about their struggles this year and what they overcame.

Quote: “There is no real ending. It’s just the place where you stop the story.” - Frank Herbert

I chose this quote because I liked the idea that the end of the year is not really an ending, but a pause in the story.

 Picture:  Summer is here

I thought this picture was cute.  Sometimes the reason to finish strong is the reward in sight.

Source: Pinterest

Here is a freebie for summer and Manic Mondays at Classroom Freebies. It is a tic-tac-toe Reading menu/board that could be sent home for a summer activity.  It includes summer themed reading activities differentiated by multiple intelligences.

Enjoy the last week or so of school! 

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Good Reads

I am linking up with Mrs. Stanford for her Good Reads linky party.  I think I am just as addicted to linky parties as teaching blogs.  They are so much fun! 

Hmmm...what do I plan on reading this summer?  Well, my grandmom always says there should be two books on your nightstand: one for fun and one to learn.

To Learn:
I want to reread some education books I read awhile ago.  Someone told me about Everyday Editing at a workshop, so I bought it.  I only glanced through it.  I never really digested it.  This summer I want to work on creating some good upper elementary grammar practice materials.

Practice with Purpose always gives me ideas when I read through it.

I want to study different periods of American History by how it affected children.  I am starting with the Civil War.  I skimmed both of these 2 summers ago, but this summer I want to really read them.

I have always heard how good the Book Whisperer is, so I would like to read it.

Heather at Heather's Heart has been blogging about Conscious Discipline so I might look into that.
For Fun:

I picked up these two at the library.  They looked interesting.  I always have to keep up with juvenile and young adult novels.

One of these days I would like to get around to reading Gregor the Overlander by Suzanne Collins.

My husband will give me a hard time if I don't read these two and keep with the series. 

After skimming everyone's reading choices for the summer via the linky party, I now also have added Mosaic of Thought (which was given to me and I never read).  I am considering Fifty Shades of Grey (I am curious to see what all the controversy is.  Although, some have indicated it is not very well-written, so I may not get very far.)

Let's see if I can read all this in one summer!  I tend to hardly read at all for months and then consume books for awhile. I also am continuously working on 1000 Gifts by Ann Voskamp and my own gratitude list.  I also am trying to read and study the Bible more.

On a side note, if you are looking for some Reading Resources for your classroom,  I made some common core aligned Reading Graphic Organizers for 3rd grade and 5th grade. I am currently working on 4th grade.

Here is a summer reading log freebie for you.  I made this in case you wanted something simple to send home for accountability, but with minimal copying.
Happy reading!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

A School Year Survival Guide

I had this idea to create a School Year Survival Guide.  In the last few days, I have noticed lots of teachers creating really cute products for memory books or advice to next year's students.

Ashleigh at Ashleigh's Education Journey has a super cute memory book freebie.

Rachel at Sub Hub has an End of the Year Advice Book.

Stephanie at Teaching in Room 6 has a Word of Advice foldable.

Tara at Fourth Grade Frolics has a "My Memories and Me" activities.

Panicked Teacher has memory books on TpT for many differnet grades.

I created a School Year Survival Guide.  Students can make it into a little book to give to next year's students on the first day of school or as a keepsake of the year.  You can purchase it at my TpT store for $2.50. 

Monday, May 14, 2012

Laughter as Inspiration and Read Alouds

Weekly Writing Inspiration: Laughter

For the weekly writing inspiration this week, I wanted to focus on laughter and happy thoughts.  I have been keeping my own gratitude list and it has been amazing.  I wrote a post about how my mom gifted me with the joy of laughter at my personal blog for Mother's Day.

To continue the theme, Laura Candler had a happy thoughts journal post recently.  Check it out.  I think using gratitude journals in the classroom would be awesome!  Why not make an end of the year list of all the things to be thankful for?

Poem:  "The Teachers Jumped Out of the Windows" by Ken Nesbitt

This is a cute poem that is sure to get your students laughing.  It has about how all of the staff ran out of the school on the last day of school.  This might spark some interesting class discussion.  It might even be fun to write your own funny class poem about how the teachers at your school will act on the last day.

Quote:  "A good laugh is sunshine in the house."

Click on the quote for a printable copy of the quote.

Picture: Laughter at the Beach

Well, I finally am branching out and trying to use Pinterest.  I found this picture on Pinterest and thought it was wildly appropriate for the topic of laughter and summer both.  Have your students consider why is the baby dressed as a shark.  What is making him laugh?  What might the baby be seeing?  How does this picture make the students feel?

All Time Favorite Read Alouds

I am linking up with Miss Nelson to mention my all time favorite read alouds. I never realized how much older students still love being read to until my 3rd year of teaching. 

It makes sense, though; I firmly believe my love of reading was fostered by my dad reading to me and my grandmother mailing me books.  My mom wouldn't touch a book, but she could drop me off at B Dalton at the mall for hours and I was good to go!

My Favorite Read Alouds:

1) Junkyard Wonders by Patricia Polacco
I love this story.  I can't get through it without tearing up, though.

2) No Talking by Andrew Clements
Such a great story.  It is great for when the boys and girls aren't getting along.

3)  Loser by Jerry Spinelli
Zinkoff is one of the best characters I have ever met!

4) Sideways Stories from Wayside School
Check out my post on fun activities to go with this book.

Pictures of the books from Pinterest.

Laughs and blessings,
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