Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Just the Facts, Ma'am?

Imagine yourself curled up in your favorite blanket, a warm fire crackling beside you, a cup of coffee in one hand and a long detailed police report in the other - wait - that's not right!  We don't want to curl up and get cozy with a police report.  We want to be whisked away to a foreign land, doubled over laughing at your I-can-so-relate-to-that-blunder, or reaching for a tissue to wipe away the evidence of words that have tugged at our heart.  This can't happen with "just the facts."  We must elaborate!  We want all the JUICY details!

I can't think of anything better than a warm chocolate chip cookie to get the creative juices flowing.  I mean really, can you ever say too much about chocolate?   

Didn't think so. 

It seems like pulling teeth to get some kids to add details to their writing, but pop a roll of cookie dough in the oven and trust me, they'll talk.    

With the smell of chocolaty goodness wafting through the air I guide my kiddos in using their five senses to add juicy words and elaborative details to writing.  Together, we fill out the chart below as we partake of our delectable goodie.  
I model how to turn the juicy words we come up with into elaborative details for our descriptive writing.  I L.O.V.E. the Desktop Sentence Starters from Empowering Writers.  We use these to keep our papers from just becoming a "grocery list".  This is important because if I buy the cookie dough, figure out how to get down to the kitchen to bake the cookies, and have to deal with sugared up kids that ate the cookies, I.better.have.good.sentences. It looked round, it felt soft, it smelt good will not cut it. You know what I'm sayin'.  Together we discuss and draft a piece of writing that will have you running for a glass of milk.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Hamburger Helper

It's time to fire up the grill and get cookin'... and I don't mean steaks.  I'm talking about some stories piled high with juicy details.  Stories you can really sink your teeth into!

I love using literature to launch my writing lessons.  Here are a few of my favorites for introducing Writer's Workshop.  

After reading about what an author does, I love to show my class that kids are authors too!  I have several books from Scholastic that are written and illustrated by kids.  You can find a list of  these books here.  Then I pull out a surprise from my book bag... a book I wrote in 5th grade.  That's right - I have the my-mom-was-so-proud-she-got-it-bound-into-a-hardback-book-version of my very own story!  The kids get such a kick out of this!  

We read, read, read, and we talk, talk, talk about the process an author goes through when writing a story (back to the hamburger).  I use this anchor chart to list the steps of the writing process as we discuss them.

To review the steps my kids play Build-A-Burger.  They can play with a partner or alone.  Click the picture to download.

Here's whats on the menu for the rest of the week...super juicy words, Editing Ed, and how to hook your reader!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Got a "Go-To Book"?

Stephanie over at Teaching in Room 6 is having a Go-To Book linky party and I'm sooo glad I was invited!  Thanks to her, my Amazon wishlist is growing by leaps and bounds.  I mean, can you ever have too many books?  I didn't think so.

It's hard for me to narrow down my list to one...really hard.  There are so many great books out there that have influenced my teaching over the years, but today I'm going to go with a book on writing.  This book has helped me guide my students in so many ways.

I used to sit at my desk with writing notebooks piled around me filled with lots of writing, but not good writing.  During writing conferences with my students, I could identify the problem, but struggled with how to give them concrete strategies for fixing the problems.  Their stories had ho-hum beginnings, lacked interesting details, and were filled with dialogue that was hard to follow and quite frankly, boring. Then I read The Most Wonderful Writing Lessons Ever.  This book was easy to read and offered solutions to all my writing woes.  The author emphasizes the connection between reading and writing and teaching the kids to read with an "author's eye." You can find more resources that go along with this book at the Empowering Writers website.  I love these writing lessons and now I love reading my students stories!  I feel like my mini-lessons are effective and my students are equipped.

Since we are on the topic of writing...I'll be posting about some of my favorite writing lessons later this week so stop back by!

What's your Go-To Book?  Link up and let us know!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

It's a bird...it's a plane...it's Captain Capital!

I love it when I have a "teacher moment."  

You know the moments I'm talking about, when you get a glimpse into how your hard work and long hours might be making a difference.  Those times when you are blessed with a little peek into how a lesson you taught ignited an interest that didn't evaporate with the mention of recess.  

That is exactly how I felt when one of my kids told me what happened when he took home  his...pencil.  His pencil?  That's right...his pencil.

He excitedly relayed that when his older sister saw him doing his homework with his special super-powered pencil, she ran to her room. Moments later, she reappeared with her very own pencil from years ago.  It seems the pencil was so special, that it had found a treasured spot amongst her keepsakes.  Even better, when it resurfaced, the rules for capitalization were recited with great eloquence. *sigh*  I love it when that happens.  

You're probably wondering what kind of special pencil could earn such an honor.  To answer your question...it's a pencil of heroic proportions.  

 The story started with me, a pencil, a piece of felt, and a late night date with the glue gun.

After a few snips and a glue gun induced encounter with some aloe vera, I had everything loaded in my teacher tote.  I was ready for my lesson on capitalization.  

At school, I introduced capital letters by reading The Mega-Delux Capitalization Machine.  When we were done, I told the class we had a special letter from a mischievous villain named...lowercase larry {GASP}.  We looked at the letter and knew right away something was not right.

The kiddos pointed out all the words that should have been capitalized and I told them just how upsetting this was in my I'm-not-at-all-an-overdramitic-teacher-way and they were in total agreement...WE.HAD.A.PROBLEM!  

Wiping the sweat off my brow, I told them we had a special guest who was there to save the day.  Enter...Captain Capital!  He swooped down and in no time he had all the letters that should have been capitalized edited and ready for correction.  After his work was done he left a whole set of his friends behind and the kids were SUPER excited about capitalization.  They couldn't wait to get to work.  Seriously.  Who can resist a super hero?

Here's how you can turn your students' pencils into this helpful super hero.  Pencils will be "flying" all over your room as your students eagerly add capital letters to any proper noun that stands in their way.

Use the patterns to trace and cut the felt.  You will need some super powers of your own to get a class set cut out...push through the hand cramps...it will be worth it.

Glue your cape to the pencil.  This is very important.  If you skip this part your pencil won't be able to fly.

Attach the body by glueing it to each side of the cape near the top  Be sure to leave the silver top and eraser exposed.

Add the emblem and eraser head and your ready to conquer capital letters!
I bought these cute eraser heads here but you can use plain ones and make your own face.

I know, I know, it seems like a lot of work but having a "teacher moment" makes it all worth it.  
Maybe, just maybe, a pencil or two will end up with a crumpled cape in the bottom of a middle schoolers closet...one can only hope.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Word Work Wednesday

Some days you just need a little chocolate...and it never hurts to add a few marshmallows.  Just in case you are having one of those days here's a couple warm and delicious word work activities.  

Have your kiddos read and sort their word cards onto the correct mug.  If you are really feeling crazy you can throw some real marshmallows in the mix!  If you do that, have them read the word and add a real marshmallow to the matching mug.  

If there is a word sort you'd like that's not here leave me a comment and let me know what you need.  Maybe I can whip it up for you!

I'm headed to find a mug, some marshmallows, and a nice warm fire to sit by!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Be My Valentine

I am feelin' the love over here!

I sent off my goodies today for the Love to Joplin linky.  I'm so glad that Mrs. Wills came up with this great way for us to encourage the teachers in Joplin affected by the tornado!

Now it's time to start thinking of a sweet treat to send to my bloggy valentine!  You don't want to miss this Valentine Exchange hosted by Caitlin and Sarah.  Click on the button below to see all the details and get your stamps licked and ready to send someone a sweet surprise!

Be My Valentine

Since love is in the air... I thought I'd share the valentine I'm going to give my kiddos this year.  It was designed by - you guessed it - Mr. Bubblegum!  I thought it turned out really cute and I bribed him with chocolate chip cookies convinced him to let me make it a freebie!  I'll try and upload a picture of the final product.  I'm attaching this tag to a cellophane bag filled with gummy worms.  Click on the picture to download the printable and make your own!

Here's the finished Valentine and I love how it turned out.  
So easy and cute and I  {wormy heart } easy and cute!

If you're feelin' creative and want to design your own love bug valentine click on the image below to check out Mr. Bubblegum's newest clipart pack on Teacher's Notebook.

Sending out some love

Mrs. Wills is hosting a linky party to help out some teachers from Joplin MO that were affected by an F5 tornado 8 months ago.  As you can imagine it has been a challenging year for those teachers and we would like to encourage them with some free TPT and Teacher's Notebook items.  Mr. Bubblegum and I are gathering some goodies to send.  I can't think of a better reason to have a party so won't you join us?  Click on the heart for more details, but hurry your items need to be sent today!

1.  Send your TpT product or Teacher's Notebook to Erica
2. Then link up here

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Marshmallows, mugs, and math oh my!

Okay, I like the warm, mild weather of the south but it's January and I should at least have to wear a jacket!  I'm not asking for three feet of snow or even a few snow flurries, but I would like to be able to sit by the fire and sip some hot chocolate without breaking sweat!  So...even though I might have to wear my sunglasses and shorts, it is winter (according to the calendar) and that means it's time for some marshmallows and hot cocoa.  I created a fun marshmallow math activity using clip art from this shop

You really need to check out the clipart from this shop.  There are some super cute penguins that I really need to figure out how to use!  Mr. Bubblegum is uber talented and I promise I'm not just saying that because Mr. Bubblegum is related to The Bubblegum Tree.  Mr. Bubblegum is the hubs!  Yes, that's right, I have my own personal clip art creator in the house.  I am one lucky girl!  And as you can imagine, he is always more than willing to jump out of bed at 1:00 am when I have had a midnight brainstorm about an activity I just have to do for school the next day.  Well...I might be exaggerating just a little bit, but he is the reason I can add super cute characters to my pages!

Here's our latest collaborative freebie.  Click on either picture to download.  I found the colored marshmallows at Walmart and mixed the white ones in.  Enjoy!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Drum roll please...

I'm so excited!  I just received a blog award from Sandy at Soaring Through Second (Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!)  I'm loving all the new teacher friends I am meeting in the bloggy world.  
They are so encouraging and full of great ideas!

Here are the rules of the award: 

1. Show your appreciation to the blogger who nominated you by linking back to their blog. 
Thanks Sandy!  You made my day : )
Click on the button below to check out her blog, it's super cute!

2. Nominate five happy little blogs (200 followers or less) by posting a comment.
Check out the links below!  

3. Post the award on your blog. 

4. Make sure to check out what these up-and-coming blogs have to offer! 

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