Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Yoobi Classroom Pack

Yesterday I went to Kids in Need. For those that don't know, Kids in Need is a foundation that donates classroom supplies to teachers at extremely low income schools. You go into a warehouse and have 30 minutes to shop. They give you a piece of paper with all of the items they have in stock at the time, and the maximum amount you can take. Basically, you fill a TARGET buggy with FREE supplies. My cart at the end weighed 109 pounds! 
109 pounds of free school supplies for my students. 

I should've taken a picture of my buggy, but I completely forgot! Off the top of my head, I do know that I got 15 packs of notebook paper, 6 boxes of 24 crayons, 20 spiral notebooks, 2 binders, 6 packs of pens, 6 packs of pencils, 2 reams of copy paper, and so much more. I mean 109 pounds of supplies!

At the end if you were K-3 you were given a Yoobi box for your classroom. FOR FREE. I was super stoked the entire time I was shopping, but I had no idea what was going to be inside the box. 

Inside the box was:
90 3-pack of No. 2 pencils
60 glue sticks
30 erasers
30 pencil sharpeners
30 rules
30 folders
30 liquid glue bottles
30 pencil cases
30 5-pack of crayons
30 5-pack of colored pencils
30 5-pack of markers
5 scissors (for the class to share)
30 Yoobi Stickers

I am so excited to give these pencil pouches filled with supplies to my students. Please ignore the poor picture quality below. I was Netflixing on the couch while I was stuffing the pouches. 

Monday, June 6, 2016

Homework: Aint nobody got time for dat!

This is a tough topic. I hate giving homework. 

 I use to give a LOT of homework. Like a LOT.  For example:

Read 20 minutes
Reading log (which was about a 3 sentence summary)
Math page (maybe Kathy Spruiell spiral homework)
Spelling homework
Occasional grammar homework

But then I realized that I was stressing myself out trying to check all of this daily. Then when I didn't check it the kids would be confused why they were doing it when Ms. V always forgot. My best friend, who also teaches with me, is a mom of fourth grade twins and to hear her horror stories from the nightmare of homework each night made me realize that I was giving too much! 

So here's my question: What do you do for homework? Do you check it every day? Or just on Friday? 

Friday, June 3, 2016

Mentor Sentences

This will be long, but it will be worth your time. I PROMISE!

Mentor Sentences are all the rage now. They are used to show your students what their writing should look like, opposed to how it was when we were in school where we had to fix the incorrect sentence. It is required at many schools for teachers to implement these into their lessons. Ideas By Jivey is a huge role model for me in the classroom. Last year I signed up for her Mentor Sentence Workshop and I was blown away by everything I learned. 

First off: I am NOT a pro at this. I can only speak from experience and I promise I will be 100% completely honest with this post. 

Secondly: I teach third grade at a Title 1 school. Many of my students come to me working at a level that is two or three below where they should be. I have used all of the excuses before that my kids couldn't do this, but I can now say they CAN DO IT!

Lastly: I'm not being paid for this post. It's not an ad. This post is completely made of my thoughts from the experiences I have had the past three years. 

So here are my thoughts: 

During my first year of teaching I bought unit 1 from Jivey. I didn't know how to implement this into my classroom and I nearly fell apart trying to teach this. I watched the video that she posted showing how she used mentor sentences in her classroom. I immediately thought 'this is not possible' and 'my students come to me so low that we can't label parts of speech like that' and 'how in the world do I only spend 10-15 minutes on this daily?' So I gave up. [bad idea]

But I'm here to tell you that YOU CAN DO IT! I did mentor sentences almost every week this past school year and I saw how much it helped my students' writing progress. If I skipped a week it was because of testing and my kids would always ask why we weren't doing them. I saw a student who at the beginning of the year couldn't write a complete sentence correctly and by the end of the year he was writing three paragraph papers. ON. HIS. OWN. Friends this is real life. 

At Jivey's mentor sentence workshop, SIGN UP if you haven't already, she takes you step by step on how to implement her mentor sentences into your classroom. My biggest take aways from her workshop were: 

  2. You have to let the kids do it. (I will explain later)
  3. Consistency is key! Consistency is key! Say it again: Consistency is key!

Below are examples of how I implemented this into my schedule. I used mentor sentences during my grammar/word study block. That was when I had my ESOL support push in and I thought this would be a great time for that extra support. 

This block in my day was from 12:35-1:15. Mentor Sentences were taught for the first 15 minutes, NO LONGER. Mondays and Tuesdays took us longer (hence why we used the whole 15 minutes, versus the 10ish on other days).

Part of the bundle package, which you can buy on TpT or at her workshop, she has examples of what she does and a schedule. We called the schedule "The Mentor Sentence Menu"  This was glued into the back of their word study notebook so that they could always flip back to it if they needed. *see below* (also each week has a teacher answer key....hallelujah)

"The Mentor Sentence Menu" as we called it

On Mondays I had the kids glue the sentence into their notebook. They read the sentence silently, then I read the sentence, then they whisper read it with a partner. According to the "menu" you are suppose to write everything you notice about the sentence. Here is that 100% honesty I promised you: At the beginning of the year they were noticing things like: there is a period at the end and a capital letter at the beginning. This made my little teacher heart sad. I wanted to help them and give them clues about what else they were seeing, but I knew I couldn't. By the end of the year they were noticing things like: declarative sentence, third person point of view, past tense, simple sentence, italics shows emphasis and many more. This is what you want. You want them to be able to grow on their sentences and become better writers. 

Tuesdays were a bit harder for them. They labeled parts of speech. This was a very difficult task at first. Earlier I mentioned that one of the things I learned at her workshop was --Let them do it. I NEVER gave them answers. They labeled what they could do, then we did it whole group and that was that. If they missed that cat is a noun, then we moved on. At the beginning of the year they struggled and almost begged me to give them clues, but as the year went on they were able to label more words and it made them feel so happy! [proud teacher moment].

Wednesdays were for revising. I sometimes would just tell them different things I wanted them to revise based on what was our grammar focus for the week; nouns, verbs, change the subject, change the point of view, etc. Later in the year they revised it how they wanted. [Again these are just my thoughts and what worked and didn't work for me and my kiddos]

[At some point in the middle of the week I would surprise read our mentor sentence book to the class. When they heard the mentor sentence in the story they were overjoyed. "Did you hear that? That's our sentence!!!" "Guys stop and listen, she said our sentence!"]

Thursdays were their FAVORITE days. After math I would say, "Alright mentor sentence time. Today is Thursday and we..... " and before I could finish my sentence you would hear "YEAHHH!!! IT'S THURSDAY!!!!!" They loved it. As you can see below in the pictures, Thursday really allowed them to be creative. Another incentive was I walked around and picked three or four of my favorite imitations and they would get to write it with markers on computer paper and it would be placed on the outside of our door. [*see below*]

On Fridays they did an Invitation to Edit that is in the bundle from Jivey. This was used to review the sentence and grammar lessons from that week. Some weeks I skipped over this, and other weeks I used it as an assessment grade or as a classwork grade. [I wasn't skipping the Friday task because something was wrong with it, I mainly skipped because of there being a time crunch; schedule changes, school programs and events, etc]

First Mentor Sentence of the year
The image to the left and directly below are from the same student. Take a look at the progress that was made from the first mentor sentence to the last that we completed!

Would you look at that imitation on Thursday? 
This student won me over when she integrated our science content into her Thursday imitation sentence!
As you can see some weeks they weren't able to label every word on Tuesday. And that is okay!

How awesome is this!

If you still aren't sure about buying the mentor sentence package then take a look at her freebies. Owl Moon or The Widow's Broom  or The Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree. How about Diary of a Worm or When Lightning Comes in a Jar. My kids loved: Come On, Rain! and Stand Tall, Molly Lou Melon and The Wretched Stone.

Mentor Sentences have changed my teaching and changed my students' writing for the better! Try them!

Monday, May 16, 2016

7 more wake ups

That's it! Seven more wake ups with children and two after that without children. This year has been extremely difficult; physically, mentally, and emotionally. 

Summer, where are you?

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Saying Goodbye

One of the hardest parts about teaching is telling the students goodbye. At the end of the year you expect it to happen. But on a random Wednesday when you are out at recess after a morning of testing, it hits you like a ton of bricks. 

Every teacher has that one student that is there when you need them. That student for me withdrew today because of a family emergency. She was the one that always offered to help me with things. She wanted to file and grade papers, she wanted to wipe desks, clean my table, organize the books, run errands for me....everything. She had made so much progress this year and it broke my heart to see her leave. 

Moments like today made me stop and realize that these students are just simple kids. They are use to their schedule everyday. The classroom is their second home, their second family. And when one student unexpectedly leaves they are numb. When I made the announcement to my kids at the end of the day they were silent. No one said anything for a solid two minutes (which is a long time for 8 and 9 year olds). 

Once the hustle and bustle of dismissal slowed down the realization that today was her last day hit my sweet girl and she broke down. Friends.... this broke my heart into a million pieces (she actually asked me to message her mom on Class Dojo because she didn't believe me). 

After I walked her to her bus and gave her one last hug and pep talk I had to walk away. Teachers have tough jobs. Not only do we have to teach the kids the curriculum, but we have to love them, even on the hard days. 

Teachers: Tomorrow hug your kids. 

Monday, March 28, 2016

Measurement in Third Grade

Measurement is difficult for kids, especially when the fractions unit goes slower and is more stressful than anticipated. This year I had to reconsider all of my resources for fractions (another post for another day) and measurement and start fresh. I found an AMAZING unit on TpT by True Life I'm a Teacher

This is 100% my complete honest opinion of the Line Plot Mini-Unit. This mini-unit was amazing. My kids loved collecting the data and creating the line plots. It's been a tough year for my class and math, but this unit had them cheering for math class. [every teacher's dream, right?]

Below are pictures of the kids measuring 5 different crayons. They were so interested and focusing so hard on measuring their crayons. Students that have struggled all year in math and were feeling defeated were asking me if they could measure more crayons. :) 

There are plenty of other fun activities in this mini-unit, but this one was my students favorite!

If you haven't taught measurement or need something for next year, I suggest you take a look at Line Plot Mini-Unit

Sunday, February 28, 2016

"Student Teachers"

-------Ever start a post and never click publish? Here's something from a couple weeks ago-------

In math we have spent the past two or three weeks working on area and perimeter and then area of an irregular figure. This was very difficult for my kids. 

I had them take a quiz on Wednesday and after grading them I felt so mixed and confused. The scores were all over the place. I decided to give some that did every well the chance to become the teacher. I paired them up with a friend that needed a little more help. They became the "student teacher." 

While they helped the other friend I worked one on one with a low baby on something else. I was listening to my "student teachers" and hearing the vocabulary they used and the math strategies they were reminding their partner of and it made my teacher heart so happy. 

But then I heard one of them reteaching the entire unit in Spanish to a student. This "student teacher" wanted to teach him in a way that he could get. This made me so happy. I stopped what I was doing and for the longest time just listened. 

After a very rough week I was reminded that this is why I do what I do. 

Friday, February 5, 2016


Linking up with Farley
It's already February! I can't believe it! This is going to be a short post. I'm exhausted!

Who else needs a personal grocery shopper? I will give you my list and the money, I just need someone to go, bring the groceries in and put them away. Any takers? 

Also getting gifted endorsed at the same time as teaching during a very difficult school year is draining me! 

Happy Friday!

Friday, January 22, 2016

100th Day of School

Today I challenged my students to read 100 books AND take the AR tests. They thought I was crazy. After about 30 minutes I posted that we had taken 33 tests. They were so excited. I have never seen them so excited to meet a goal. (They didn't even realize they were reading and building their vocabulary). 

They did it! They read 115 books today and took 115 AR tests!

It was awesome sending the parents this message on Class Dojo!

Monday, January 11, 2016

Currently January 2016

Linking up with Farley for this currently post!

How adorable is this currently post? I'm loving this silver and gold we have going on.  :)

Listening: I got back into About a Boy since I was home sick last week. I love this show. It's hilarious and I now find myself talking in a British accent, thanks to Toni Collette. 

Loving: UMM.... what teacher doesn't love pens? I thought nothing could top my Flair pens, but goodness gracious! These bad boys are my absolute favorite. I haven't mustered up the courage to take them to work yet, I don't want them lost or stolen! 

Thinking: I have always thought there was too much testing, but tonight while grading writing assessments from December I wanted to cry. 

Wanting: ....is it spring break yet? 

Needing: Doc said I was on the verge of laryngitis.... 

One little word: listen. I'm focusing on just listening to my kids talk. Even if it's about some weird story about why they must take home their leftover celery for their pet guinea pig. 

Happy almost Tuesday friends!

Thursday, January 7, 2016

New Year's Resolutions

On our first day back we created three resolutions for the rest of the school year. I allowed the students to pick out their index card color. After they wrote their three resolutions I collected and taped it to their desk. I wanted this to be a constant reminder for them. 

This is mine. I'll be honest doing reading groups every day is going to be a huge challenge for me. But I'm going to try!

"Do not make Ms. Vaughn mad." HA! 

Mastering Math Facts is a huge goal for my class!

Love this!

How awesome is this kid!

Happy New Year to you and your class!