Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Super Helpers!

To go along with our theme of being "Superkids", each month my students take part in a service project. I share with them (and their parents at the beginning of the year), that just like super heroes it is our job as superkids to help better the lives of those around us in our classroom, community, and world.

We completed our February service activity this week. As ISATs (our state's standardized test) are coming up next week, we thought it would be a great way to show our support of our upper grade level peers and work to boost their morale by making them a few "super"cards to share how we feel about them!

The students each made 4 cards- (80 in all) that will be distributed to the boys and girls in the 3rd-5th grade dual language classrooms.

I would encourage everyone to include a service learning component in your classroom! I have found it so incredible to see kids at such a young age (still in that egocentric phase you know...) truly learn the meaning of giving and being compassionate to others. Because this is one of my favorite things to do with my students throughout the year, I'd thought I'd share with you some other projects we have done this year if you are ever searching for any ideas!

- We wrote letters to our Veterans.
- We collected cans as a class before Thanksgiving, and donated them to a local food pantry. (This also turned into a great math graphing activity.)
- We donated our spare changes (mostly pennies- boy do those add up) during December to raise money to fund the education of a child who could not afford to go to school for Christmas through World Vision. This was a great lesson in learning how fortunate we all are to have the right to go to school! Also, I bought one of those money counting jars (you know the one where you put in the coin and it adds it up for you). Wow, did they ever love watching their total go up and what a great way to practice counting coins!
- I went to Honduras this past summer as a translator for my mother who is an oncology nurse. She was going to train nurses in the hospitals. I visited the children's cancer hospital (which was hard to see...) and got contact information for the on site teacher. So this year, we made get-to-know-you cards and drawings, in Spanish which was perfect, and sent them to the kids in the hospital to brighten their day.  (Once again...good tie in to letter writing.) You could do this with any hospital or nursing home even too!
-Last month (this was one of my favorites) we took a morning to chat about all of the great things our custodians do for us as at school. I don't know about you all...but our custodians rock and help me with just about everything! After brainstorming, we created a giant "Thank You" poster in which the students wrote one way they help them, and then I printed out their photos and we created "Super Custodians" to hang in their doorway to remind them how "super" we think they are. So cute.

These are just some of the things we have done so far this year! To wrap up, I wanted to share a quick story with you all that has inspired me more than anything to ensure that service learning is a part of my classroom. Two years ago, when the huge earthquake in Haiti hit, I was teaching 1st grade dual. I had done similar service projects with my students that year, and we had just finished donating our spare change to World Vision in December. When I heard about the earthquake, I knew I had to at least share with my kids what was going on (in kid friendly terms of course). The day after it happened during our morning meeting I asked any of them if they had heard about it, knew what an earthquake was etc. After this, I told them that I just wanted them to think good thoughts for the people of Haiti, but that we would not be collecting money because we had just done so in Dec. and I knew their piggy banks were empty.

The next day to my surprise, I had several students come in the morning with spare change, dollars, etc. telling me that they wanted me to give it to Haiti. I had goosebumps and nearly teared up that they had come up with this all on their own, and clearly wanted to make a difference in their own little way! At our morning meeting that morning, I spoke with them again about what was going on and they reiterated to me that they really wanted to help! I could not resist of course and thus began the "Lend a Hand to Haiti" compaign. I got in contact with our local Red Cross and got canisters for not only our classroom, but all of the rooms in the school. My students brought them to all of the rooms, and collected them at the end of the two-week campaign. They made posters sharing how you could help to hang around the school, wrote and brought in news articles about what had happened to share with others, and we took some of our science time to study earth quakes and how/why they occur. In the end of it all, the director of our Red Cross came to present a giant check to us at an all school assembly thanking all of the students for their hard work. I cannot express how elated my students felt, in knowing that they did something so wonderful for another. I encourage you to take those little teachable moments any chance you can get, because for my kids it turned into a life changing experience and I can honestly tell you they will never forget what an earthquake is or where the little country of Haiti is located.

I actually had the opportunity to go to Haiti with my church the following summer. I must say it was so it was so near and dear to my heart after all that we had worked to do.

Tell me this shirt doesn't crack you up?

Does anyone do any service learning in your classroom. I am always looking for new ideas so please share! I would be so very appreciative :)

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Super Sunday!

If you haven't already figured it out....the theme in my classroom is "We are Superkids!" (I know it was a difficult one to guess. ;)).

Because my classroom is stocked full of "super" themed items. I thought it would be fun to share some of them with all of you. Thus- welcome to the first "Super Sunday". Each Sunday, from here on out, I intend to share something "super" themed in my classroom that I hope you can possibly use or tweak to use in your own!

I am starting off with one of my very favorite "super" activities!

This is our "Superkid of the Week" bulletin board. (Don't mind the fact that everything is bare. This is from the very beginning of the school year!)

At the beginning of the year, I present a poster introducing myself to my students as the "Super Teacher" and I read them my favorite story. That day I share with them that they will each have a week to present to the class and read their favorite book as well so that we can learn more about one another. A schedule is sent home to parents so that they are aware of when their students' scheduled week will be along with a brief explanation of the activity.

Then on the Friday, before the students scheduled week, I send them home with a posterboard as well as the sheet below outlining the project responsibilities. Click on the image to download the activity sheet in English and Spanish.

Border by "Graphics by the Pond" and clipart by Scrappin Doodles.

After presenting their poster and reading their story (they can make the choice if they would like to read it or if they would prefer that I do), the class has an opportunity to ask the student questions. As time has gone on my students have come up with some really creative questions! This past week one of them asked "What is your favorite cognate?" (For those that don't know, a cognate is a word that sounds similar and has a similar meaning in two languages.) Love that they are including content vocab in their questions!

After presenting, the students poster is displayed on our bulletin board for the rest of the week for the students to review. And that's "Superkid of the Week"!

Do you do something similiar to "Superkid of the Week" in your classroom? I would love to hear your ideas as well!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Simple Friday Fun

I stayed after school for a bit today to prep my classroom for this upcoming month of March. I must say that it is one of my favorite month's of the year, namely because it is Dr. Seuss' birthday, but also because I enjoy doing the little Irish jig I attempt to teach my student's each year on St. Patty's (more to come later ;)).

Here was my decorating highlight if I do say so myself:

(Yes, this is a giant sock monkey completely decked out for the upcoming occasions!)

I also wanted to share these amazing little hats I found at the Dollar Tree the other day, while I am on my March celebration kick. A pack of 5 for $1. Perfect to set out on their tables for when the arrive in the morning on St. Patty's!

Finally, I wanted to stick in one more plug for my linky party! I am beginning to think you guys don't celebrate birthdays ;). Click on the cake and it will take you to the original post if you would still like to link up!


Thursday, February 23, 2012

Kids Say the Darndest Things!

Hooking up with a quick and easy linky party over at Kindergarten Lifestyle entitled "Kids Say the Darndest Things!". Seeing as all of my kids are language learners, either English or Spanish, you can believe I have a few great (and adorable) ones to choose from!

I have lunch once a week with some of my students as a reward for doing something helpful in the classroom. During one of these lunches, I was chatting with one of my little ELLs about her recent trip to Disney. I'll let you read the rest's one of my favorites!

I would have to agree- ALLIGATORS can be kind of scary ;). Especially if you fall into one!

Never a dull moment! 

Don't forget to link up to my BIRTHDAY CELEBRATION linky party as well and share with me how you like to celebrate in your classroom! Click on the link below to take you to the original post! 

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Happy Birthday George Washington!

Oh yes...those are boxes of girl scout cookies. Does anyone else look forward to the delivery of these boxes of deliciousness every year! Got my first batch today! What a great start to a day...and addition to my lunch ;).

This morning during our intervention block, we did a read aloud about George Washington as a tie-in to his birthday and President's Day! My group is working on math extended responses. Thus, I decided to go along with our Washington theme to create a lovely little story for our lesson. This freebie is in Spanish only, however, if you would like it in English let me know, and it won't take me too long to whip up!
Click here to download this George Washington number story freebie!
(Border by "Graphics by the Pond")

Also, don't forget to link up to my "Birthday Linky Party" (post below) and share with us about how you celebrate your students special days! I would really love more ideas, not to mention, this is my first linky party and I would appreciate your support in making it a success!

Happy hump day :)

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

It's my Birthday!

So today is my 26th birthday! Whoo...savoring those last moments of my "mid" 20's!

I got to school today and was showered with a variety of gifts and cards. One student even brought me donuts for breakfast! So sweet how they remember these occasions, and I was so grateful for each and every present, note, and well wish!

Today was also "Fat Tuesday"! I had a substitute teacher this afternoon as I was in a committee meeting. But I made sure the students had the opportunity to celebrate a bit and that she snapped a photo for me! They read a story about Mardi Gras, wrote a "super" paragraph to relay what they learned using the nifty paper freebie I have posted below, and then made Mardi Gras masks to culminate the festivities.

Polka dot border compliments of "Graphics from the Pond".

Click here to download this writing paper.

 Today being my birthday, I thought it would also be the perfect occasion to share how I celebrate my students' birthdays as well as get different ideas from you all as to how you celebrate students' special day.

As the theme in my classroom is "Superkids", the students in my classroom have the honor of wearing the "Super Birthday Cape" throughout the day.

They also sport these sweet star glitter glasses (because it is their day to shine!) (I forgot to snap a photo of them today so I found one on the web. They are identical though, I promise!
Of course we also sing- in English and Spanish :), and I give each of the students a birthday bookmark that I sign to celebrate their special day!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Making "deep" connections

Happy President's Day!

We actually had the day off, and I say that lightly, because I ended up spending the whole day working in my classroom anyway. Ahh..the joys of teacherhood.

I finally had the chance to go through and take a few pictures of some of the activities my students did this week focused on the reading strategy - "making connections".

To preface these ideas, it would be beneficial for all of you to know the anchor lesson that lead into them. This was another great lesson I picked up in my district class based on Tanny McGregor's, "Comprehension Connections". All you need is a glass of water and a golf ball that sinks, and one that floats (use a kids play set one or even a ping pong ball). Share with the students as you place the first ball that floats into the water that some connections are "surface" connections. This type of connection does not help us to better understand the story and sits on the surface of the text. Then, put in the real golf ball, and relay to them that this ball represents "deep" connections. These are the type we want to make as they help us to connect to the story and the author's message to better our understanding of it.

This week we focused on deciphering between the two. Here are two quick activities we did in order to practice this:

1. We read the story of Ruby Bridges to tie in to our Black History unit. I gave each of the students two post-its and told them to label one CP (Conexión profunda/Deep Connection) and one CS (Conexión superficial/Surface Connection). They had to write down an example of each as I read the story. After reading, they stuck them to this activity sheet and then had to reflect upon why the deep connection helped them to better understand the story, and why the surface one did not.


Click here to download this activity in English/Spanish.
2. On Friday, I gave each of the students a pair of the cards below (one "superficial/surface", one "profunda/deep"). As I read a story, I shared my connections and they held up the card reflecting type of connection they believed I was sharing. They did a really great job with this, and it was a wonderful quick assessment too to see who was getting it!

Click here to download the cards (available in English and Spanish).

Before I sign off I also want to give a quick shout out to Candis over at iteachduallanguage. She is having a giveaway which some of you dual/bilingual folk may be interested in, in which you can win a copy of the item below: 

Looks like a great resource, so be sure to check it out!

Tomorrow is Mardis Gras, and it is my 26th birthday! So be sure to check out my post as I will have pictures from the day as well as even may attempt to try out this linky party deal to celebrate!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Bilingual Teacher Clubhouse

Hey all-

I am thrilled to announce that I am the newest author over at the Bilingual Teacher Clubhouse! This blog was created as a place to share Spanish teaching resources. If you are a bilingual or dual teacher like me, you feel my pain in how difficult it can be at times to find Spanish resources and/or how time consuming it can be to translate the wonderful English ones you find! If this is something you face, then I think this could be a great blog for you to check out! Spanish resources, by wonderful teachers, all pooled together in one space! Who could ask for anything more, right?

Click on the button to check it out (and hopefully make your life a little easier)!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

"El dictado" Freebie and a Giveaway!

Happy Saturday morning- gosh was I ready for the weekend! 3 days off = much needed (for me and my kids I think!).

Wanted to start off with a quick freebie-

As part of our spelling/word work each week my kids are exposed to a dictation sentence. I introduce the dictation sentence to them at the beginning of the week and we use it in a variety of ways. First, it is a great way (since my kids are all language learners especially) for them to see words that contain the pattern we are studying in context. It provides them with a way of making sense of them, rather than just seeing them in a list format. Second, I can use it to teach sight words, language structure, punctuation, you name it! Each day, I start my word work lesson with a mini-lesson corresponding to an aspect of the dictation sentence, and then we go on to do an activity related to the focus letter pattern of the week. Then on Friday, instead of being tested over a list of spelling words, I dictate our "dictation sentence" to the students as a quick assessment of what was covered throughout the week. (Note: I alternate the language of word work each week - thus I will do English one week, Spanish the next, and so on.)

We were doing word work in Spanish this week and our focus spelling pattern were the suffixes "-ón/ona, oso/a". For those of you who are unfamiliar with these suffixes in Spanish, when one adds "ón/ona" to the end of a word it changes its meaning to mean "bigger" or "having much of". When one adds "oso/a" it changes a words meaning to mean "full of". Our dictation sentence this week was "El gigante barrigón que vive el la casa espantosa, se toma un tazón de sopa deliciosa." Which translates to- The big bellied giant who lives in a haunted house, has a bowl of delicious soup (eh...doesn't sound quite a nice in English, it actually rhymes in Spanish!). Anyways, one of the activities I have my students do it write their dictation, underline the words that contain our spelling patterns or study, and then illustrate the sentence to demonstrate their understanding. Here are the pictures from some of my students (I think they are hilarious.):

With this dictation throughout the week, I was also able to review the difference between "hard G"/"soft G", with the word "gigante" as well as do a little focus on grammar and conjugating verbs using the word "vive" as our example. There are so many things that you can touch on with just a simple sentence! I love it!

Click here for the freebie in Spanish and English if you are interested.

Ps. This adorable border is compliments of Graphics by the Pond! 


Also, just wanted to put in a word about a giveaway that is going on over at Smiling in Second Grade for an adorable 31 tote! It looks like a perfect one to cart back and forth to school, so head on over and check it out (and her adorable blog as well!)! (But be quick, because the giveaway closes tonight at midnight!)

You want it, right?

Happy (relaxing, I hope) Saturday!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Guided Reading "Gotta Have Em's"

Since all of the holiday and celebration hubbub has simmered down, I thought it would be fun to share with you a bit today about what a more "typical"day in my classroom actually looks like. One of my favorite parts of my day is facilitating guided reading groups with my students. Nothing like jumping in to a good book, and I love the small group time with them! Thus, I thought I would bestow upon you some of my guided reading "gotta have ems", (aka things I find super useful and effective) in my classroom!

1. Witch's fingers (so not just for Halloween). I usually bust these out at Halloween each year and give each of my kids one to read with that day. However, I also keep a stash for myself to use in guided reading group. Now lets be clear, I do not generally endorse monitoring reading anymore with the finger at a second grade level. But, they work so well for those kids that chop endings and don't monitor words well still all the way through. Those crazy long red nails just work wonders! Try it!

2. I got this next magical little idea from a class I took through our district based on Tanny McGregor's "Comprehension Connections". If you have never seen any of her stuff, I would highly recommend it. Her ideas are so engaging and innovative!

One of the very first lessons focuses on metacognition and how to be a "real" reader. The focus is on teaching the kids that in order to be "real" readers they have to be thinking while they are reading. In the book she suggests going to a paint or hardware store and picking up paint strips in order to make these adorable metacognition strips to help the students with monitoring their comprehension and thinking while they are reading. 

I ended up having to cut up a few paint strips to put these together. But they were super simple to make- and free! The three sections represent the kids possible levels of understanding. I have my students start with their fingers on white when we begin reading. When the students are on white it signals that "Everything is clear! (¡Todo esta bien claro!)" and they are understanding well what they are reading. If the student begins to get hung up they may move their finger as they read to grey, "It's a little cloudy. (Esta un poquito nublado.)", or if they are really lost to black, "I'm in the dark! (¡Estoy en la oscuridad!)".  We discuss in group different strategies we could use if we notice ourselves moving into grey or black to move back into the white zone. My students can also use these during their independent reading time to help ensure they are selecting a "good fit" book. We discuss how not only do we have to be able to read the words, but also understand them. If they find themselves moving to black on their strips, they they probably need to select a better fit book for their level. It is a great self-monitoring tool, and helpful as a quick assessment for me too. If I notice one of the kids move their finger to grey during our group, I can check in with them to see what strategies they are using to get those clouds outta there!

3. Stop and Use a Post-it!

I must go through a million post-its each year. They are so versatile! While, I do indeed use them while doing my actual guided reading groups for a variety of things, this purpose for them I am about to share involves all of those students who are supposed to be busily doing centers while I am doing my guided reading groups! 

You will see my lovely stop sign above. I use this to remind my students that unless there is "blood or flood", they cannot interrupt this special time for their peers! They are pretty good anymore, but if there is even an attempt at a minor interruption- I just look (with those crazy teacher eyes) at my beloved sign.

However, I do know that sometimes issues come up in centers. The mini-stapler is out of staples again,  more writing paper is needed, something needs fixing, etc., and I do want to know about these day-to-day issues! -------> Post-its to the rescue! I simply leave a pad of post-its on my desk and my students know they can walk over there and jot down a quick note for me about the issue and I will get to it as soon as I can. I love this for two reasons- 1. They feel that their voice was heard. 2. Now I have a note reminding me what I have to do. 

What are some of your guided reading "gotta have ems"? I would love to add some to my list!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Love is in the air...

Alright so I have a lot to squeeze in today- a few photos and freebies from the classroom, spreading the love with an AWARD for some fellow bloggers, and a little linky party action. So here goes...

First, I just have to show you all my favorite Valentine's Day shirt (as I feel that I can only bust it out one day a year).

Cute right? 

This afternoon was jam packed with festivities. I must say after 100th Day on Friday and Valentine's today...I am ready for a few normal days! This afternoon we wrote friendly Valentine's letters to our friends or members of our family. I found Spanish conversation hearts (Brachs) at Target! Thus, we used them in the place of a few written words here and there in our letters. Here are a few examples as well as the freebie (I apologize it's only in Spanish this time- but at least you can get the idea :)).

Click here to download the "Love Bug Note". 

Now for the AWARD! Ms.T at Second Grade Math Maniac has awarded me with the Liebster Blog Award! (Which I want to thank her for again! I am oober grateful and excited!) This is an award given to up and coming blogs with 200 followers or less of whom one believes deserves some (love) and recognition. Thus, in the spirit of spreading the love, I would like to present this award to the following enlightening blogs:

1. Candis @ iteachduallanguage
2. Jessica @ Glitzy in First Grade

I have already gotten some great ideas from these fine ladies and their wonderful blogs, so please hop on over and check them out :)

FINALLY- Ms. B over at Buzzing with Ms. B is having a fun-filled, Valentine's Inspired Linky Party entitled......

Because I think my hunny is quite stellar if I do say so myself- I just had to participate. 

So how did we meet? The story actually isn't that exciting. We met through friends. We just kind of kept running into one another and the rest is history! I always tell him that he won me over with his dorkish charm. He didn't ever use a pick up line....just shared random trivia facts (I swear he could win Jeopardy if he ever tried) and showed me what a smart and wonderful man he was and I was sold. 

Here is a picture of the two of us!

Felíz Día de San Valentín
(Happy Valentine's Day)

Monday, February 13, 2012

100th Day of School

Okay- so here it is a compilation of our activities from our 100th day of school! (Did I mention how much fun this day is!)

We started out our morning reading one of my all time favorite 100th Day books, "Centipede's 100 Shoes (if anyone ever finds this in Spanish, please let me know- I would be forever grateful!).

In the past, I have had my students each color four legs to create a giant class centipede bulletin board, and then write a short piece relaying what life would be like if they had one-hundred legs. Here is a picture of my bulletin board from last year just in case you are interested in that option:

This year I opted to have each student make a page for a class book entitled "Si tuviera 100 pies..." (If I had 100 feet...). Below are a few photos of what my students came up with as well as the document in Spanish and English if you are interested.          


Click here to download this book page (in Spanish and English). 

For snack time we made a 100's Day "Trail Mix". The kids' homework the night before was to select a healthy snack food that they could add to the mix. They had to count out exactly 100 of the item and bring it in a plastic baggie. This activity had a perfect math tie in as we practiced counting by 100's as we added in the different foods. Here is a picture of our trail mix, along with the fun 100's day glasses we made in the morning to sport throughout the day!

During math time, we practiced our estimation skills by completing the activity "¿Qué puedo hacer en 100 segundos?" (What can I do in 100 seconds?). This was an activity I found on Pinterest in English and translated for my students. I must say not only was it a blast- but great exercise too!

Click here to download this activity page in Spanish. (With the font I chose to use I did have to add a few accents here or there in black marker before making copies- just a heads up!). 
Click here to visit "Mrs. T's First Grade Class", which is where my pinned picture lead me for the English version of the document if you have no clue what the one above says ;)!

During our Writer's Workshop time, we created the good ole' "If I were 100 years old.." pictures. I got this wonderful activity idea from Hope King over at "2nd Grade Shenanigans". We used the kids pictures I had taken at the beginning of year, cotton balls, and construction paper to make these adorable creations. 

Happy 101st Day- Gosh the year flies by!