Monday, August 22, 2016

Rockin' Songs Grades 3-5

I love incorporating music into any lesson.  My kids love it too - it adds so much and the songs help them remember the material as well.

We add it to the beginning as an introduction, in the middle to review, or right before the test to help us remember!  Songs are an integral part of our learning.  I wanted to share some of my favorites from this year.  I'd love to hear what your favorites  are too!

We love this one to study the rock cycle!

Another Great Rock Cycle one!

Hands down the best States and Capitals song out there! This is forever on repeat during those in between times since 4th grade is the crucial year for studying those in our state.

Here's one that I wrote for our Circuit Study and we used this in an ad for Circuit Day.  We LOVE country and my kids were just wow'd by it!

I wish I could show you their video - we had sunglasses, special effects and everything.

Here is the audio from the video that might help if you don't know the song. 

Image result for flocabulary

Flocabulary is another great video resource.  It is priced (some videos are FREE) but so worth it! 

We use this for reading skills, science, and social studies.  As a teacher you get lyrics students can fill in, quizzes, and activities that go with that topic. It is well worth it.  So many videos I just love!! The fact that they are so catchy is only good!

Some of my absolute favs are: 

Point of View
Context Clues
Plot Elements
The Water Cycle

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Top 3 - A First Day of School Post for Upper Elementary

How to have the best first day and set the tone for the rest of the year!

Obviously setting clear expectations from the start is essential!  I have an awesome 3rd grade teacher (I jokingly call her my job security) because the students really are beautiful when they get to me. Yes I teach in a school with only 1 section per grade...

I want to set a fun but somewhat serious tone our first day. They were all pretty confused by our raft.  I had on a life jacket and went through a short presentation I prepared about how our class works which leads into our rules.
I had notes that went with each slide that related to this metaphor.  We can refer to this throughout the year and use our cheap (>$20 raft) as a great reading spot)

I also wanted to have clear signals and LESS downtime in between transitions! I have been stalking the Amazing Elizabeth Raff  and even used Whole Brain Teaching to model expectations for different parts of school! Really loving it so far!  If you click the videos at the top there are some great ones to watch! It only takes a little practice to get kids started!

I have some new awesome ways we are building our community from the start!

1.  We did a teamwork challenge which you can read the details about here - it involves hidden scratch off letters and solving a puzzle!!

We also already starting handing out Positive Notes at our Morning Meetings!!

You can find these in my store by clicking the picture below!

They fit perfectly in the adhesive pockets from Target and are already being displayed on student desk!!!! Makes my teacher heart happy!!

Because parents are an ESSENTIAL part of our community too. I made sure to start sending home positive emails from Day 2!  I've heard back from them all and it truly is one of the best things ever!  Credit: thehungryteacher5th (below!!!)

The third and maybe most important goal I have for the first day is to orient students with our classroom library. Some might not have read over summer and are anxious to get back in the swing of things.  I heard Colby Sharp talk this summer and made a big deal about how much I love to read just like he does the first day of school.

We had these packages awaiting us:

A photo posted by Amber Nicole (@sssteaching) on

We were too busy to take any pictures of opening but they were new books! I explained different genres (briefly) to students and split them into groups to help shelve books.  They used our color coded labels and we reorganized the library (to be honest - this took until day 2)

The thrill of NEW BOOKS and excitement really overwhelmed the room!!   I quickly previewed each one before they set to work.

They worked together, talking about books, discussing characteristics, ID'ing genres, and organizing.  The best part was the ownership! They knew where almost all the books were from day 1 - ones they want to read or want to find later.

EVERYONE went home with a book on day 1 - and they were so excited to read! I'll show more of how I'm keeping track of their reading with a new system later.

Reflecting back on the day - it truly was magical! 4th year in and this might be my best first day!

BEST FIRST Day Activity! Teamwork!

I wanted something engaging and exciting the first day of school!  We really emphasize working together and supporting all of our class so an activity that showed that the first day was ideal.

I briefly saw the scratch off technique while browsing through Pinterest and I've used it before on cards I've made and such but not in school.  My next step was to create a banner - I just used triangle shapes and circles then kept copying and pasting in Powerpoint to make it.

1.  Banner printed.  I made a phrase that has 22 letters for how many students I have this year.
2. put a piece of clear tape over each letter
3. mix paint (any color): 2 parts paint, 1 part dish soap and paint on 
4.  I really only needed 2 coats and some touch up to fully cover the letters
5.  Hide around room or tape under chairs.

Here are some pictures of the steps I took along the way - from my Insta story - @sssteaching

**sidenote** I planned to put a little dot on the letters of first words to help out since I didn't really want this taking a LONG time and since the whole class would be working together, but I forgot. On the banner I wrote how many letters were in each word (hangman style) so hopefully that helps them solve it faster)

The poem below was what I had displayed on the board after explaining class rules and how our class works.  Since teamwork is a major part of any classroom community I asked if they were ready for their first teamwork challenge?!

I read the poem once and under their seats took no time at all!

Scratching off the letters took no time at all!

Putting together the puzzle was the trickiest part.  I labeled the black paper to show how many letters were in each word and it proved to be the perfect clue!

I did give them the first letter of first word and told them when they got it right - from then on .... it was all them! It only took about 5 min and they worked great together.  Next year - I might do 2 puzzles (color coded) just so each person can help more since 21 working together is a little bit tricky.

Our finished product - we received Tootsie pops to eat while we discussed books from our summer and moved on to other first day activities!  It went so well.  The scratch off letters were a great pay off!

I love their personalities already! Can't wait to learn and grow with this group, this year!

We began a little work on our Emoji Intros which will finish up by tomorrow! You can click on the picture to learn more about it.

Monday, August 8, 2016

FREE NO PREP - Morning Work - ANY GRADE!

Here's a great tip for any classroom!

I hate Hate HATE copying morning work! I hate the paper wasted and wish that there was a way around it.  Some years I did various activities but I always found that morning work was needed.  This site is such a lifesaver! You could even use it as a sub!




I have a student that pulls this up everyday ( I have it saved as an icon on my computer) and my kids do their morning work in the back of a notebook - they work backwards from their writing notebook since that is the one that often has pages left at the end of the year.  They can fit about 1 weeks just on one side of a page and that goes a long way toward the whole year.

My students respond to reading when they finish the language arts and math questions.

Other reasons to love it: 

- no copying (praise the Lord - I hate how morning work is needed but wastes so much paper)

- no answer keys - it's right there.  We have a student lead the checking!

- you can pick your grade level

- you can go back if you don't get to checking it that day (we do this frequently but easy to do)

- aligned with CCSS with no worry!

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Emoji Intro Back to School!

Are you looking for a unique easy back to school project to get to know your students - look no further!

This Emoji Intro is great for grades 1-6!

Easy to prep - students cut out emojis, fold in half, and answer the question!

We mount on colored paper for some POP! My students LOVE anything tech related so this already puts them at ease and gets students interacting with each other!

The questions are engaging and little humorous to break the ice those first couple days!  

We display these on the sides of our desks and share with the class when finished to get to know each other better!

Click on any of the pictures to find out more information.  If you hurry- you can still catch this on the sale happening now for an extra 28% off make sure to use code: BESTYEAR

With 20 different questions it is sure to be different and exciting for each student.  After they are cut up, my students have to pick their 5 randomly and answer before displaying!

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Point of View in the Elementary Classroom

Below are some of my favorite books to teach Point of View! Don't have them in your library? Listen to them on Youtube as read alouds.  Still great opportunity for modeling and stopping and taking notes.  We does this a couple times a week to focus on a skill or these are also available in a listening center 

Two Bad Ants is a great and funny story following 2 ants and some trouble they get into. Written from the ants' perspective it is great to introduce this concept!

I, Doko is a beautifully written story with a simple and thoughtful message.  This book is timeless and really hits the heart of readers.  It adds a great cultural perspective for students as well and can bring up many discussions.

The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs is quickly becoming a classic.  This fractured fairy tale sheds light on the wolf's feelings in the story.  Such a unique story really easily helps identify point of view.

 A. Lincoln and Me is a great story that touches on historical notes while focusing on point of view.  The main character recounts similarities between himself and Lincoln.  Learning facts and searching for clues through this historical context is a great addition to a point of view study.

I love a 2nd person POV book and not many for upper elementary exist.  This book definitely fits the bill.  It engages students and gets the point across.  The tone (no matter who is reading) helps students realize 2nd person POV.  Such a fun read aloud to incorporate!

I love the Flocabulary Point of View song and using pictures to help determine and write our own point of views as well. Below is a link to the listening center with focused point of view questions for the stories above.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Inferring in the Elementary Classroom

 The Sweetest Fig is about a man who makes an unwise choice not to believe in the special figs.  This book leaves you to make inferences until the very last page.  It makes a great inferencing book because so much is left up to the reader to put together.

Teammates is an awesome historical book about a rough time in American history. I love that this book appeals to the boys in my class as well.
This provides a perfect example of how to make inferences about characters in the book and proving them with details.

How Many Days to America is another great historical tale that leads readers to put the whole picture together. A family's journey to a new land is the perfect background for students to infer about characters, setting, and plot.

Fireflies is such a descriptive book.  It leaves the reader deciding important information about the boy's decision and what will happen in the future. I think the illustrations really give this book a leg up and help the reader understand better the story.

You could apply so many skills to this amazing traditional tale. Theme is extremely important but is easily tied in with the plot where the reader must infer what happened to the people.  Although this book appears to be less "modern" I do think it has great value especially in lessons for bigger kids - upper elementary.
All 5 of these stories are in a Inferring QR Listening Center pack in my store or you can read on Youtube.  They come with rigorous test prep questions. 

I love to start the year with inferring as we need this skill with every book we read on our own or with the class.  Knowing what this big word means also helps students feel more confident when it comes to testing time.

I also have a Drawing Conclusions Listening Center available.  All the research I found showed that inferencing and drawing conclusions were very similar both not proved in text but what a reader decides.   I do believe the language of "what conclusion can you draw?" or "What conclusion can be made?" are important for students to be exposed to as well.  I use them almost interchangeably because of how close they are and students only need them to help break apart questions.