Sunday, March 16, 2014

Mercy Watson Chapter Book Love

You know that time of year when things slow down and you can almost see the warmer weather just within your reach? The time when you can breathe a little.

Well, I think that time is finally here for me.  All year it's been a race to keep my head above water.  It's not so much the actual teaching, just everything that goes along with it.  Paperwork, parents, PEP's, IEP's the list goes on...

My point, is that I've been B.U.S.Y but now I'm not.  I have more time to think, share, PIN, create, and reflect on what worked and what didn't.  I plan to share those tidbits with you! 

First, let me introduce you to a character I just fell in love with.  I happened to also make 17 out of 18 little 2nd graders fall in love with him too. His name is Mercy Watson. 


Kate DiCamillo is the author of the series that features this cutie above.  Mercy gets into hilarious scenarios that are interpreted by the humans in her life in hilarious ways. 
My favorite part is that the books are chapter books but they have words that are easy enough for almost all of my second graders yet there are parts that lead to really great vocabulary discussions.  I've used this series in my reading groups. My higher groups look up the vocabulary in the dictionary and use it in their writing and book reports. Whereas, my lower groups are able to still follow along and really dive into character traits, problem & solution,  text complexity and many other skills.  Basically, I'm finding there's something for everyone!


The first book we read was Mercy Watson Goes for a Ride.  We all completed the same class book report on this book (here). It allowed me to really see what areas the students struggled with. 

Peek inside the text...

Mercy's world revolves around hot buttered toast...and since those are adjectives...I'm all for it! 

Remember I said I was able to get 17/18 students to love Mercy...?
Well, one section of the book reports ask "Did you like this book?" and "Would you recommend this book to a friend?"  - My one little boy answered "No".  When asked why, he informed me that he didn't really like pigs because that's what his brother calls him! 

If you're looking for a new easy to understand and read chapter book series, this is definitely one that I recommend! 
  

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Teaching Key Words in Math

THANKS for hopping over to my little corner of the world to get another BRIGHT idea. 
If you're anything like me, as I surf through the bright ideas hop, I am having a lot of "Why didn't I think of that?" and "Duh!" moments.  I hope to provide for you another one of those moments.

One of the most effective things I do this year is my math number line with key words for word problems.  
Teaching Math Story Problems
1) Read the problem. Read it again.  
2)Circle the numbers in the problem.
3) Circle the key words. 
4)Find your key word and decide what to do.
5)Solve.

As you know, teaching what to do with a word problem sounds easy enough but it isn't.   

With this system I am able to help struggling students easily. The addition key words are to the far right...students know that those key words mean add and then they begin to know that means their number will get "bigger". The subtraction words are on the far left.  The numbers are "smaller" and students know things are being "taken away".  Notice that they are also color coded.  This allows me to have conversations that get them thinking. Conversations where I don't give them the answer. Conversations like this

"What is your key word?" - (sum)
"Did you find your word on the number line?" - (yes)
"What color is it?" - (green)

Pause here while you give the teacher stare......

"So......what do you do?" - (add???)

"YES!" 

All you need is colored paper or sentence strips.  Write them down and add them to the wall as they come up in lessons


Here is a cheat sheet for you. Of course there will be those few problems which break the rules but for the most part the student will be successful using the common key words. 



For more fantastic teaching ideas, hop on over to Michelle at Well, Michelle? to learn about classroom engagement ideas. 



Friday, March 7, 2014

Book Report Booklet


What do we do in 2nd grade? 
We write.

 We read and then we write about what we read.  Then we do it again and again and again.   

No worries, we do fundamental subjects like math, science, and social studies too.  

THEN, we write about it.  

Thankfully, I understand that better writers make better readers and these are really important amazing skills we're learning over in Room 4.  However, I also realize it can get old too.  In NC, we use MCLASS testing for our students to determine their reading levels (TRC). With this testing, there is a heavy emphasis on the written comprehension component.  In order for a student to pass the test at their reading level they must answer 5 oral questions and 2 written questions.  Then the computer does it's magic trick with the scores and out pops a reading level.  The big thing to know is that the written component carries a lot of weight for this testing.  This is why we write about what we read ALL. OF. THE. TIME.  I recently created 
Book Report Booklets as my newest way to build some excitement.  My kiddos don't seem as bored when I ask them to answer the same text questions over and over again so long as I do it in a few different ways. Hopefully these can help you out in your classroom too! 



Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Shop 'til you drop!

If you're like me, you're behind on everything from all of the snow around the country.  

I have good news for you! Teachers Pay Teachers is having one of their mega sales THIS WEEK! Yep.  A little out of the blue right?  Where was the Super Bowl sale? What about a LOOOOVE sale for Valentine's day? Nope.  They must think outside of the retail box.  Lucky for me at least, I have some time to shop 'til I drip since the sale falls on a Thursday and Friday.  Those are prime planning days in my world.  Soooo.....make sure to stop by and pick up some resources for your K-2 classroom from my Teachers Pay Teachers store.  
Use PROMO CODE: TPT3 to get 28% off February 27 and 28.  





Monday, February 17, 2014

Must Read Monday


As most of the world can relate to, I've been stuck in a snowpocalypse rut. I think there is an unsaid rule somewhere that snow days = lazy days. So today,when I saw Amanda's post about "Must Read Monday" I knew this was a great place to jump in and get blogging again. One of my all time favorite books to read is Katie Loves the Kittens by John Himmelman. The story line is touching, compassionate, and relatable. The main character (dog) in the story Katie has 3 new kittens who have come to live with her. She looooves the kittens so much that she just can't control herself. Her overwhelming love makes her bark and chase the kittens. She simply can't help it...she is bursting with love for the kittens!


I've used this book over the years for many different lessons. It's excellent for book reports because it has all the elements needed to explain the different components. I've used it for cause and effect. It's also interesting to read and have discussions about. I explain how sometimes we have great intentions, we don't mean to say or do something hurtful, but sometimes, despite our best efforts we do. This book is a great example of how sometimes things just come across wrong when you don't mean them too. Whatever you decide to use it for, I believe it would be a great addition to your elementary classroom. Check back next Monday for another book recommendation!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

My Wedding Day

On October 12, 2013, I married the most amazing person I've ever known.  It was an emotion filled day with lots of love and laughter. 

I started out with plans for a nice size wedding complete with a Pinterest board to lead the way.  About 3 months into the planning part, we called off the large wedding and decided that we only wanted a small ceremony with only the people closest to us.  Let me say that this was the BEST decision we've ever made. As soon as the decision was final, I felt like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders.  My fiance and I never looked back.

After a proposal in May in the pouring rain, I knew without a doubt that the wedding day would bring rain as well. It rained and it was perfect.  What may be even more perfect is someone told me that 
-"A wet knot doesn't come undone.".
I had never heard this before and I think it's precious. I would like to share with you some pictures of my perfect day that my talented photographer and friend captured.







































 

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