22 December 2012

Snowflakes for Sandy Hook

We did not really have a discussion of the sad events in Connecticut at my school this past week.  Luckily my students came in on Monday morning in a twitter about Sunday's exciting Atlanta Falcons game rather than discussing any other current events. 

And although we did not talk about what had occurred, I knew my students knew.  They did not need to ask why we now had a new uniformed police officer patrolling inside and outside the school building.  They wanted more hugs, and I was eager to give them.  They mentioned Connecticut or a shooting, and all I could say was it was very sad, but we are safe.  I also kind of knew that my kind and sweet class wanted to do more.

So on Wednesday morning, during my morning lollygag time where I check Faceboook while I get ready for school, I was so grateful to see a message amidst the prayers and pictures about a little something that we could do.  I did quick research to verify and found out about Snowflakes for Sandy Hook.

Snowflakes for Sandy Hook is a project being put together by the Connecticut PTSA.  Since students will be returning a new school and not to Sandy Hook Elementary in January, they wanted create a happier atmosphere for these student who have been through so much by creating a Winter Wonderland at their new school.  And they need snowflakes...oodles and oodles of paper snowflakes.

Since Wednesday was our last day before our Winter Break, I knew this would be a perfect activity for my students to complete.  I also knew others at my school would want to help as well, so I spread the word.

I set out a 24 inch by 18 inch by 10 inch box outside my classroom door to collect the snowflakes.  Snowflakes came from all over the school...kindergarten through fifth grade and even our office staff had created beautiful snowflakes.  By the end of the day, the box was overflowing!  After some quick rearranging, I was able to get the box shut but not before adding a short message of love and prayer from our school.
If you want to help, there is still plenty of time to make and send your snowflakes.  Please go to the Connecticut PTSA website for more information and other ideas of how you can help.

20 December 2012

The Joy of Giving

I love giving gifts!  The joy of finding just the right gift for the people on my list has got to be my favorite part of this time of year.  So let me share with you about my two big gift-ing opportunities...

I enjoy giving my students treats!  And Christmas time is no exception!  Thank goodness for Scholastic Book Clubs and bonus points...I was able to find two activity books...a Kakooma puzzle book and a Mad Libs book.  Then I had enough bonus points left (don't worry I earned all the bonus points buying books myself...not parent orders!) to also get each child a free book pick gift certificate!

Then I also ordered my students personalized pencils from For Teachers Only.  These are a fantasic deal...99 cents for a set of three personalized pencils!  My students with less traditional names that have difficulty finding their name on pre-printed items LOVE these!

As you can see, I wrap each child's gifts.  Presentation is a big part of gift giving for me...and what child doesn't enjoy tearing into wrapping paper!  My sweet peas were so grateful for their gifts, and I got lots of big "thank you" hugs!
I also recently had my grade level gift exchange.  The tradition in 4th grade at my school for many years has been a Favorite Things exchange.  The idea has spread to other grade levels at my school too.  
Here is how it works...You know Oprah's Favorite Things???  Well, pretty much the same concept!  Except no one is giving away new cars!  Each teacher brings a $5-$10 item that they enjoy.  Last year, I gave a Tervis Tumbler with our school mascot on it.  The year before I gave personalized note cards from my favorite stationary site, A Touch of Whimsy.  The year before an ornament decorated with the recipient's first initial and polka dots.
This year I had an awful time trying to decide on what my Favorite Thing would be!  Luckily my mom gave me some inspiration...and luckily I had enough time to get it all together and ready!
So after school, we met up at Olive Garden for dinner.  After a very yummy meal, we each presented our favorite things...
  • an adorable scarf with tiny pompoms in our school colors
  • gift cards to Starbucks (great minds think a like!)
  • inspirational saying note cards and EOS Lip Balm (now my new fav!)
  • adorable Christmas plates from Crate and Barrell
  • a straw tumbler with our initials
  • a big bottle of Bath and Body Work hand sanitizer (We just recently survived a flu epidemic...only hit 4th grade!)
  • a warm, fleece Christmas blanket
  • and from me...
a big magnetic calendar.
I designed the "4th Grade Teachers Rock!" graphic and uploaded it to VistaPrint as a poster calendar.  Then I had it printed on magnetic paper.  They turned out really cute!  And my grade level buddies loved them!
Share with me your school gift giving ideas!   Do you give your students a Christmas gift?  Do you have an exchange on your grade level?

16 December 2012

Silence for Sandy Hook Elementary

15 December 2012

A Short Thought on the CT Tragegy

I didn't hear of the happenings in Connecticut yesterday until well after my students were gone for the day.  My heart has ached since as I watch the coverage and see the postings on Facebook...the families of all affected are in my prayers as they grieve and try to find a way to heal from this tragedy.

I have never been so eager for a Monday to come, so I can hug each of my precious students.

11 December 2012

A "Miraculous" New Book...and a Giveaway!

I was recently asked to read an exciting, new book,
The Miracle Dogs of Portugal by Tracy Aiello.

The Miracle Dogs of Portugal is an almost-true story of Henry the Navigator and the history of the Portuguese Water Dog.  Never heard of Henry the Navigator?  Well, he was a prince of Portugal in the 1400's who established a navigation school that brought about many new technologies in navigation.
This story tells about Prince Henry's love for the sea.

It also tells a little history about the Portugese Water Dog and how they helped fisherman.  What else is special about this breed of dog?  Well, first dog Beau Obama is a Portugese Water Dog!

This book has a little of everything for all students to enjoy.  There is the story of friendship.  There is action and adventure.  There is a smart and brave dog.

I wish I had this book earlier as an introduction to our study of explorers and Prince Henry the Navigator!  It would be wonderful to integrate social studies into my Reading Workshop.
My students did enjoyed hearing this book even if it wasn't at exactly the right time.
(See the little nose in the top corner?  Can you tell my dog, Digger,  enjoyed The Miracle Dogs of Portugal  as well!)
I can't wait for the other books in the series to come out...Tracy Aiello is planning a series of books...coming soon is The Miracles Dogs of Missouri about Seaman, the dog that accompanied Lewis and Clark.
Guess what the best part is...because I agree to review this book I have a fantastic bit of good news!  The author, Tracy Aiello is going to donate books to the Hurricane Sandy Relief Fund, Tunnel to Towers, to give kids hit hardest by the storm a little holiday cheer. 
Check out more about The Miracle Dogs of Portugal by clicking on the picture below.
Oh wait!!! More good news!  Tracy Aiello also gave me 5 copies of this book to giveaway to five of you!  How cool is that???  Enter in to win your copy using the Rafflecopter below!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Want to help out with Hurricane Relief?  Check out information from TunnelToTowers below!

01 December 2012

Currently...where has the time gone!

I can't believe it is already the beginning of another month.  So now to join up with Currently from...
So here goes my Currently for the month...

 As I write this, there is a fabulous game going on...SEC Championship...Georgia vs. Alabama...
I tend to get a little physical during a football game if I don't have papers to grade while I'm watching...my laptop has gotten thrown to the side once for some celebration.

My principal came into observe me this week.  It is so funny how the demeanor of students change when the principal walks in the room.  My students sat up straighter and got quieter...but were so on their game!  We showed off using our Mimeo Board and totally impressed her by finding equivalent fractions by multiplying.  It was a short observation but all in all a fabulous observation!

My Random Act of Kindness this week was for one of my students.  End of the month can be tight for some of my families.  This month was particularly tight for one student...he had many charges on his lunch account...no breakfast...snack of a long pretzel stick from me...but still hungry.  I asked if he had anything from lunch he could nibble...he said he had a doughnut...but come to find out that one doughnut was his WHOLE lunch!  No way could I let that be his lunch...so I went to my purse where I happened to have two dollar bills (a rarity!) and slipped it to him.  He got to have a full lunch and was a much happier camper for the rest of the day.

I have other Random Acts of Kindness planned...and I can't wait to see what the other Currently linkers have planned too!

20 November 2012


Happy Thanksgiving!

I have so much to be thankful for this year especially in the blogging world.  I am so amazed to have readers to share my teaching ideas with, and I am especially grateful to those who are following me, downloading my freebies, and buying items from my store.  

To show you I am thankful for all of you out there...
If you are a Teacher's Notebook shopper, there will be additional discounts on Saturday and Sunday...30% off!

I hope you have a blessed and peaceful holiday...and don't spend too much time working on school! :)

11 November 2012

A Little Prize for You

I didn't realize it, but it has been a little while since I posted.  I have honestly been working on a couple of projects (one I hope to get up in my stores today...plus this evil time change thing always throws me for a loop!  So, as my hair dresser would say, I wanted to give you a little prize to apologize...

We have been working on possessives in my classroom...specifically plural possessives.  Oh these can be so difficult!  I created a little sort to provide some practice for my students of distinguishing plural nouns, possessive nouns, and plural possessive nouns.

Click on the picture above to get your own copy!
Graphics by KPMDoodles
Fonts by HelloLiteracy
Have a fab week!

03 November 2012

It's November!!!

It is November, so it is time to link up with Farley and 
for another round of... 
now to break it all down...
Listening--why must movies mess with books so much???  I LUV the book by Sophie Kinsella (the epitome of British Chick Lit!) and the rest in the series.  The Confessions of a Shopaholic movie totally different than the book...but it is great for background noise while writing your Currently!
Thinking--I'm not sure when I started doing this, but I grade while watching during Georgia football games (of course, not in the stadium...on tv, silly!).  Grading during the game keeps me from getting too emotional about the playing on the screen...have literally scared one of my dogs yelling at the players before!
Wanting--For Christmas, my grade level does a favorite things gift swap.  We purchase something that is our favorite for each person on the grade level...I can't decide what I want to do, but as I type this I may have just gotten some inspiration!!! (I'll update later!!!)
Needing--I have been continuing Random Acts of Kindness in my room...and it has turned into a monthly project.  In October, we wrote letters to soldiers as part of a local radio station's letter collection.
I haven't thought of an idea for this month...but this is kind of what I'm thinking...using these the thankful notes here...
I am open to more ideas!
Music--I know I'm late on this...but I just discovered Pandora!  I have been using it this week...it is a fabulous to create the mood that I want...Need to calm the students down?  Lullaby station.  Need some Halloween music?  Kidz Halloween station!  Wowee!
Loving--Early voting is fabulous!  Luckily I timed my voyage to the early voting establishment just right to wait only an about hour rather than the several hours...and I left this section last because I have a bit of a soap box to stand on...(sorry to get a little political here!)
The big item on the ballot here in Georgia is not the presidential election (do not get me wrong voting for the president is still incredibly important to me), but a new AMENDMENT regarding charter schools!  This amendment would created an appointed commission to approve charter schools...not the local or state school board.  Funding for these new schools would come out of the already dwindling state budget meaning even larger class-sizes, more furlough days, and less funding for needed resources.
Now I have absolutely no problem with charter schools and having choice but when the push for this Amendment comes from foundations and for-profit corporations outside our state, there is a HUGE problem!  Plus the wording on the ballot is just plain confusing and does not address the real issue being proposed!
So I say all that to ask Georgia readers (who have not already voted) please vote NO! on Amendment 1!

28 October 2012

Giveaway Reminder

Don't forget...
Click on the picture above to go to the giveaway!

Unraveling the Elements of Plot

We have learned about characters, setting, and conflict, what is the next natural thing to study?  Plot!  So that is where our learning adventure took us next!

After we spent a couple of days learning about the elements of plot and completed guided practice of identifying plot elements within a book, it was time to put our knowledge into practice.  I gathered some of my favorite books of varying complexity that also have a good plot structure.  Then I matched the books with pairs of students.  While students were finishing reading their books, I gave them the plot diagram below...

This was a rough draft of an bigger version that would come later.  Students worked again with their partner to identify the exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, and resolution in their text.  I love hearing them discuss and being able to base their ideas on evidence from the text!

When they were finished, I conferenced with the partners about their diagram.  For some we had to make a few tiny adjustments, and others were sent back to give more than one event in the rising or falling action.  But once all parties were satisfied with their diagram, I gave the group a large piece of chart paper to create a large illustrated version of their diagram.  And boy did they have fun and get creative...

I was impressed with their work and better yet they learned a lot too!  Success!
Below are the items that I use to teach the elements of plot.  If you would like to get them for yourself...simply click on the button of the store of your choosing!



23 October 2012

Update - The Gift of Literature and Giveaway

I was contacted by
to review one of their new personalized children's books.
After browsing the items on their website, I jumped at the chance!  They have an amazing selection for a wide variety of ages and a variety of occasions!  Not only do they have personalized children's books, but they also have other personalized gifts: placements, coloring books, and even puzzles!
I was sent a copy of this title personalized for my nephew.
There is SO much detail that goes into the creation of the book!  Not only do they include the child's name, but they also consider if the book is for a girl or a boy, and where the child lives.  You are also able to add your own personalization inside the front cover...creating a book that a child can treasure for years!
Look at how adorable the pictures are!  And the text reminds me of Dr. Seuss.
Although my nephew just turned a year old...I can't wait to give him his book for Christmas.
Speaking of Christmas, you can also get books personalized for the holidays!  Their personalized coloring books and placemats would make great stocking stuffers.  Have more than one child in your life to buy for?  You can receive discounts on the personalized placemats for multiple purchases...
This definitely makes gift buying easier for purchasing gifts for grandchildren, nieces, nephews, cousins, and all your friends' children!
Check out more information about ISeeMe! and their books...
 or click here to check how to get your  My Very Own Name Personalized Storybook.
Guess what!  Now only did I get a personalized book for my nephew, but I got a personalized book for you too!  Check out the Rafflecopter below to enter:
Congratulations Susan Fletcher! 
You will be receiving an email very soon about your book!

20 October 2012

Working with Fiction Text Elements

During the past few weeks we have doing a LOT of work with elements of fiction texts.  You know, setting, characters, conflict, plot, and theme...whew!  My class loves to discuss and debate, so we had a lot of good discussion surrounding how these elements affect the text we are reading.  I wanted to share with you two resources I used to help me out with my lessons...

Have you heard of ReadWorks.org???  Oh My Goodness!  What an awesome resource this is...especially for a teacher implementing her first year of Common Core like me!  
There are lesson plans on ReadWorks.org for every grade level...with the graphic organizers (which I sometimes had to make cuter, of course!) and even a graphic organizer filled out for the teacher, if needed.  They also provide you with extra passages for practice or assessment.
And want to know the best part about this resource...it is TOTALLY FREE!  WOWEEE!  (You do have to complete a free register to use some of the resources...)
I created some resources of my own...
As we learned and discussed each element of fiction, I had an anchor chart to accompany it.  For example, here is my anchor chart for characters...
So my students always have a record of this information at hand, we recorded the definition and other information in a flipbook stored in our reading notebook...

These helped my students, when we read a text, to be able to take part in a higher level of discussion involving characters, setting, themes, conflicts, etc.
If you are interested in getting your own copies of the resources I created, simply click on the links for the store of your choosing. 
You can get just the anchor charts...
Or you can get only the flipbook... 
Or maybe you would like to get them both!

More fun Elements of Fiction Texts to come...I will share with you in the future how we tackled just plot in the near future!


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