Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Picture Day

I can't believe that tomorrow is September.  School has been going on since Aug. 17!!  The class is beginning to realize there's a rhyme and reason for all the procedures...although I do think some behaviors will be impossible to break.

Today was picture day.  WOW! that must mean we're really in school.   Do you get your photos free?  I get 4 small pics and one 5x7.  This year it won't be enough to share with grandkids...but I guess I could copy (shhh-don't tell anyone).

It's been in the high 90's this week and uncomfortable, if you're not in a classroom (only the rooms are air conditioned)...come on 80's.

I'm having a hard time fitting any read aloud time into my day.  I guess it might have to come at the end of the day.


Sunday, August 28, 2011

Free Choice Writing

I've made composition notebooks into various topic...Fun in the Rain...Summer Fun...Best Day Ever...My Family.  (Thank you blogger friends for this idea)

In order to keep my 4th graders on task there is a checklist on the inside to help make this a pleasant experience for them and me.

Not only is there the checklist...there is also the rules for Work with Writing from The Daily Five.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Just Right Book choice

I know there's a lot of pros and cons for accelerated reader and the quizzes, but I've found their STAR reading assessment helps students find their independent reading level and helps  curb a constant trip to the library (& wasting time precious reading time).  We've been in school 7 days, so after administering the new STAR reading test , I've come up with the picture, to the right, to help students when they head to the library.  If they know their reading level, the 'I know all the words', portion of 'I PICK' should be met.

What do other teachers do when attempting to help students who always want to read books that are too hard?

Sorry I can't remember which blogger had the 'read to self' poster as a freebie...but THANKS, I love the polka-dots!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011


I'm wondering if there are any 4th grade teachers who group their students into different spelling lists?  I just completed an elementary upper level spelling inventory and out of 25 words...22 was the most spelled correctly and least was 5.  Quite a wide gap.  If you do group...what words do you use?

Saturday, August 20, 2011

First Week

I don't consider the first days (Wednesday-Friday) as the first week...these are just the first days!  What do you do to start your first week?  I'm not ready to start full-throttle with the assigned curriculum, so I'm sharing the site I love for text that's best for the beginning of the year before everyone is assessed and assigned...

I realize this is a subscription site, but for me it's well worth it.  There nonfiction selection has a wealth of choices.  I uses many of their stories for my 5th grade social studies units (we study American History).

I hope everyone's school year is off to a great start.  This year I have permission from EVERYONE to use their pictures and watch out...

Thursday, August 18, 2011

First Read-Aloud

What do you do when your new best buddy has been designated a scourge by the community and marked for imminent extermination? Just ask Kenny Rabbit. When the simple folks in the sleepy little village of Roundbrook catch wind that there's a dragon running loose in the countryside, they get the wrong idea and the stage is set for a fight to the death. So it's up to Kenny to give his neighbors front-row seats to one of the best-known battles in history -- the legendary showdown between St. George and the dragon -- without losing a friend in the fray.(from Amazon)

This is a golden sower nominee for 2011-2012 school year.

Rules & Contracts

First full day of school in the books.  Our school is a PBSI school so there are a few specific rules for the building...but I choose just to have 5 rules.  I'm not sure where I 'borrowed' these rules, but they work for me.  The contract is signed by the students when they draw their faces and attach it near the rules that are posted in the hall. 

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Lunch Time

Here's a question for all my blogger friends...
1.  How long do your students have for lunch...some days my students will have as long a 40 minutes...yikes!
2.  How many of you rotate noon recess supervision?  In my 20+ years of teaching this is the first year I've had the extra assignment of noon recess supervision. 

This lovely bombshell was presented to us today...1 day before students arrive.  For some reason the aides,that usually cover noon recess, are now in charge of the salad bar in the cafeteria and checking names for least I don't have to eat with my this may be a good trade-off.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Teacher Day--First Day

Some teachers are ready and excited about the beginning of school...others...need I say more? I ran across this poster and thought I need to post it in our teachers' lounge.  If you'd like a copy it's from:

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Why I Love Blogging

Background...I've been teaching for 20+ ( I could probably tell you exactly, but I don't want you to think I'm old!).  I've always taught in a district where I'm the only grade level teacher.  Having been in this situation I've become very self-sufficient.  But along comes's like having a grade level teacher to bounce ideas, besides soaking up & using ideas.

Blogging teachers are willing to share not only their creations (& I know this takes a lot of time-I've tried) but resources.

Thank You blogging friends.  My only hope is that I have the 'stamina' (first vocabulary word 4th graders will encounter on Wednesday-1st day of school) to keep all my followers following.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Narrative Format

In Nebraska, the 4th grade writing assessment is narrative.  I have as yet to find a 'program' that addresses the needs of my students.  So in my years of teaching I've come upon the following format, which lucky for me, Really Good Stuff now has posters that I use for the majority of teaching. 

I start the year out by reading narratives...being sure to point out that narratives are in first person.  We make anchor charts of such characteristics...AND in Nebraska, using dialogue is a biggy along with 'bold beginnings'.

Books I read at the beginning of the year:
Enemy Pie
Red Light, Green Light
Many Cynthia Rylant books...
and there are more, but I'm at home and my books are at school.

Hope this post is helpful.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Fancy File

Accordion Files (8 pockets) are on sale at Hobby Lobby ( $7.99 now $4.79).  I plan on using mine to story lettering for bulletin boards.  Seems I spend more time sorting and looking when I do decide to use letters for a bulletin board.  I have been known to quickly print a title... Also, paper packs are 1/2 price.  I'm working on a READ sign...will post when done.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

New Teacher

This year there is just one new teacher in my building.  In the past I've given baskets with markers, post-it notes, etc.  BUT the other day I was in the local Hallmark store and ran across this cute polka dot bag  plus a note pad & post-it notes.  I also decided to throw in a bag of misc. jelly-belly beans.  I think a little 'welcome' gift is always a nice and considerate thought. When I saw the polka dots, I thought of my blogging friends who are creative and colorful!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Supplies checkin list

On the first day of school I have a check-off list to see who needs supplies from the office.  Here's a screen shot of the list.  7 days and students.  My room is ready but the rest of the week I need to think about first day procedures, etc.  this year we're just starting with a 1/2 day, and then two full days. 

Calling all 4th Grade Teachers

Educational Leadership has a wonderful article about teaching 4th grade.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Ready or not

Here's my imovie of my room this morning...the countdown in on...6 days & counting....

permission to publish

I think it best to get permission to publish pictures, names, and projects of my students.  Here's a very simple permission sheet that I use.  Sorry it's in pdf and not changeable.  It was easy to create and hopefully will help.  This is one sheet the students bring back to me before they can work in the computer lab.

Sunday, August 7, 2011


I have a site that lists a few webquests I've found over the years.  Is there anyone who uses this for classroom learning?  A couple years ago I took a class where we had to made one.  Mine is the Langston Hughes webquest.  At that time we had a basal story about him. The only problem I see is keeping the pages and links current.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

First Day Powerpoint Here's what I show my students on the first day of school.  It gives the schedule, some expectations, and supplies.  I usually copy it and send home. I have another one for the next day that lists some of the procedures.

Does anyone else do something similar?

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Unlucky Arithmetic

I like to send home communication on the importance of various topics I think are important...and here's a great one Unlucky Arithmetic.  It boils down to why parents need to encourage their children to read.  If the link doesn't work...let me know.  I'm still experimenting with google docs.

Monday, August 1, 2011

New Assessment

Anyone in blogging cyperspace use this instead of achievement testing?  

I'd be interested in your thoughts, comments, good or bad.  We have an all school training on the first teacher day back.



Measures of Academic Progress®

Understanding each student’s academic level gives teachers the power to help them excel. MAP computerized adaptive assessments are the tools that make it possible – providing educators with the detailed information they need to build curriculum and meet their students’ needs, one child at a time.