Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Flip Camera Fluency Fun & a FREEBIE!

Last year I had several parents donate $ to purchase flip cameras for my classroom through Digital Wish.  Be sure to check it out if you have never been to their site.  It is a great way to gain more technology for your classroom.  Back to the flip cameras:)  I have been working hard this year to meet all of the areas of fluency in my guided reading groups and in centers.  I have a fluency center in my classroom where students can go to practice quick reads, record their reading, practice chunking phrases, and also punctuation reads.

This week my students are loving my Flip Camera Fluency Read center.  I simply photo copied pages from our story last week.  Daisy Comes Home by Jan Brett. It is part of my Chinese New Year unit.   I purposely chose pages with lots of punctuation and dialog.

My students worked in partners to read the passages and then record themselves.  Check out the photos below.  After the reading the students then listened and watched their reads.  Focusing on their fluency.  They loved it.  Plus their readings were so cute.  I loved listening to them show expression in their reads!

Below you can download my Fluency Center poster and also the directions for the flip camera.  While you are their please Like my TPT store so that you can be first to learn about my new products! 

I would so appreciate a PIN on Pinterest if you are a Pin Junkie like me!

Monday, January 30, 2012

Now I love a game of TAG so I am joining in on Bloggy TAG!     Thank you Kara Treadwell  for inviting me to play tag :)  She has a fun blog over at Treadwell's Math Adventures!

Here are the rules:
1.  Post the rules
2.  Post 12 fun facts about yourself on the blog post.
3.  Answer the questions the tagger set for you in their post, and then create 12 new questions for the people you tagged.
4.  Tag 12 people and link them in your post.
5.  Let them know that they have been tagged.

Here are the answers to my questions:
1.  If you're a "pinner", what's your favorite item you've pinned?
Listen there is NO Way I can pick a favorite pin so I will answer with a category.  My recipes...I love having them at my fingertips in the grocery store & my family loves trying all of the new recipes.
2.  Who is your favorite children's author or book in general?
Hands down Patricia Polacco
3.  What is your favorite dessert?
Cheesecake...chocolate chip~really any kind!
4.  What is your most memorable school moment?
Getting glasses in the 4th grade and finally being able to see the spelling words.  No wonder I was failing every test!
5.  Any advice you would give to a new blogger (like myself)?
Keep at it!  I have been blogging for around a year and still have not figured it all out.  Leave comments and support other bloggers.  (Like you just did!)  Blogging is like a family...once you are in you are in!
6.  What's your favorite TV show?
Mike and Molly~So cute and funny.  Plus we love some Animal Planet at my house!
7.  How did you learn the tricks of blogging?
Charity Preston Teaching Blog Traffic School was a big help! 
8.  What is your favorite math game?
I love a game of Top It!  You can use it in so many ways.  An oldie but a goodie!
9.  What is your guilty pleasure?
Let's be realistic!  Chardonnay...I have been teaching for 11 years and have 2 kiddos of my own:)
10.  What is your favorite band/song right now?
Anything by Zac Brown!
11.  Do you sew?  Would you recommend buying a sewing machine?
I am a wanna be sewer.  I have a machine and I have used it 2 or 3 times.  Maybe someday!  Heck Yeah!  Buy one, maybe someday you will have the time to learn and you can teach me:)
12.  Favorite place to buy teacher things?
$ Store & Amazon.  I love getting packages shipped to my house.  Its like Christmas all year round!
OK I did it!  I answered all 12!  Now for 12 of my own:)

Here are my 12 interesting Facts:
1. I am the oldest of 10 kiddos. (No wonder I am a teacher!)
2. I love tomato & onion sandwiches
3. I have naturally curly hair that I straighten EVERY day!
4. My toe nails are always painted!
5. I love old fashion chalk and chalkboards
6. I used to pitch fast pitch softball
7. I can say my ABCs backwards
8. I sleep with at least 3 pillows
9. My favorite food as a toddler was pork and beans
10. I want to be a food network star
11. I still have my first baby doll named Queenie...so what if my daughter is scared of her.
12. I sleep with my chocolate lab Lila every night or until Mr. Schroeder comes to bed!

Here are my Questions for my Bloggy Friends!
1. What inspired you to become a teacher?
2. What was the best day EVER in your classroom?
3.  Tell us about your sure fire behavior MGT trick.
4. What is in your lunch box today for school?
5. Do you have a class pet? Or If you don't what would be the ultimate?
6. How do you unwind after school?
7. Are you an exerciser?
8. Coffee or Tea?
9. What is your best beauty secret?
10. What has been your favorite grade to teach?
11. What is your top activity for the month of February?
12. If you could be any blogger who would it be and why?

Bloggers Beware!
Tag You are IT
Mrs. Miner at Mrs. Miners Monkey Business
Michelle Oakes over at Fabulous in First
Sally at Elementary Matters
Lori at Bee the Change
Amanda Myers at A Special Kind of Class
Mrs. Durning Second Grade is Splendid
Kristen at First Grade Teaching
Liz & Beth at Mad in the Shade in 2nd Grade
Fran Kramer at Kindergarten Crayons
Dana at Third Grade Gridion
Kathy at First Grade a la Cart
Mrs Carico at Fourth Grade Fanatics
Dang...I am tired now!  

Sunday, January 29, 2012

How much wood can a woodchuck chuck in 2nd grade?

Friends...can you all believe that it is almost February?  I have been gearing up for this month because I have a special surprise for my class planned.  We have been prepping for it all month and they have NO idea.  So that means I can't tell you either:(  I promise a blog post in your future about it!

Don't worry~I still have lots to share!  First, I just had the most beautiful weekend ever in the mountains near Boone, NC.  My hubby rented a cabin for the family to celebrate my birthday.  I can tell you this, it was really hard to leave that beautiful view this morning. Check out my kiddos below!

Can they be any sweeter?  I love the hiking, snuggling, and the hours in the hot tub with these cuties!  They both wanted to hunt for BIG Foot so of course we did that too.  Good News!  We didn't find him!

While we were out on the hunt we did stumble upon some animal tracks.  I grabbed a couple shots for the animal track activity I have been putting together. 

You can find out more about the animal tracks activity in my Happy Groundhog Day activity Pack!
The unit combines both fiction and nonfiction books about groundhogs & response sheets.  There is a shadow science lesson and also the animal tracks activity.  This unit is a great way to start off the month of February!  
I also have a Valentine's Day Freebie over at Teacher's Pay Teachers.  Come on over and grab yourself a copy of Tick-Tock~Clock a Heart!  It goes beautifully with any math lesson on telling time.  While you are there I would love it if you would become a follower of my TPT store! 
Have a wonderful Monday! 

Friday, January 27, 2012

The Great Clock Race!

Happy Friday Friends!
I am just getting my centers finished while my kiddos are in specials and I just had to stop for a second and show you the results of our Great Clock Race!
We have been working on telling time this month.  My class was really struggling so I was racking my brain to find a way to help them.  So that is when I decided to motivate them a bit by combining our past graphing unit with a telling time activity.  I searched the web and found some clock practice sheets for telling time to the hour, half, and quarter hour.  I then placed a sheet each day on my student's desks.  The were required to work on the practice sheets and turn them in before my mini lesson.  The next day they would get their clocks back graded.  I had them cut out their clocks and we built the graph below!
Immediately,  I started to notice a difference in their attending in class.  They were paying more attention during lessons, bringing me sheets from home showing that they were practicing, & working with the hands on clocks too.  They were excited!

Today, however, was the end of the race.  We have moved into double digit addition.  We completed one more practice sheet and I send a plastic clock home for them to practice with earlier in the week.  This morning we headed to the hall and added our final clocks.  We had a very close race!  I had 2 students with 24 and my friend Logan ended with 25!  His mom is allowing me to share his photo below!

 Here is his fun prize!  Now he can practice all of the time!
Congratulations LOGAN and the Rest of my Math CLUB!


Wednesday, January 25, 2012

No SNOW...SO WHAT! 2nd Grade is having Polar Bear FUN!

Last week we had the very best time learning about Polar Bears!  My class loved the unit about this cold weather animal.  (They were secretly hoping for the 4 letter word~SNOW!)  They just don't know that I am still hoping we don't get it!  Non the less we enjoyed some fun learning about these furry creatures.  Take a peek below and check out our wintry activities.

You can find all of these activities and much, much more in my All About Polar Bear Unit!  Just click the image below!

We started with an anticipation guide for Polar Bears by Gail Gibbons.  I love Gail because she does a wonderful job expressing nonfiction facts through her narrative writings.  

This is a page that we found incredible.  Polar Bear paws are 12 inches across and 18 inches tall.  We had to make paws of course!  We measured paper and tore it into a polar bear paw.  We labeled the parts and added sandpaper as the pads.
They turned out so cute.  I posted them up and down the wall outside our classroom!
We also measured how tall a Polar Bear is using 2nd graders.  For us...around two and a half!
The big hit to the day was THE BLUBBER GLOVE!

If you have not done this it is a MUST!  We discussed the fact that Polar Bears have blubber that is around 3 inches thick.  We also talked about the word insulated and how the blubber keeps the polar bears warm in the cold snowy climate.
You will need the following items to complete this experiment: A bucket of ice and water   A thermometer to check the water temperature.   A tub of Crisco and  2 large gallon bags.
It is really easy to prep for.  While my students worked on their paws I pulled them as tables over to try on the BLUBBER GLOVE.

Add Crisco to a gallon bag and then place and empty bag inside it.  You will need to smash the Crisco around your hand.  Then call the students to place their hand in the empty bag that should now be surrounded by Crisco.  Have them place one hand in the ice water without the bag and the other will be in the bag.  While both hands are in the ice water talk about which hand is getting colder. I also like to check the water temperature.   We then discuss how the BLUBBER is insulating the hand and keeping it warm.  So many wonderful discussions came from this activity.  We even had a student days later come in with an article that told about how walruses have blubber and use it in the same way as Polar Bears.  What a GREAT connection!

If you liked this post I would love it if you would give it a Pin so others can check it out!  Also, I would be honored if you would become a follower of my page:)


Thursday, January 19, 2012

Why my class LOVES Spelling Homework!

Bright lights, Spelling City!  Oops the song says Big city!  In my classroom, we sing Spelling City!  It is this incredible interactive website for students to practice their spelling and vocabulary words.  Plus tons more!  I have been using Spelling City for around 4 years now and I love it:)  Spelling homework can be a no fun zone for many students and I have always been a firm believer that if you make the work meaningful and fun you will get better results.
Spelling City does just that.  The technology + game feel makes it an easy sell for students as homework.  Each school year, I send home list of hands on activities to get my parents started with making spelling fun.  I suggest things like: making words in playdough
                                       writing words in shaving cream on the counter
                                       tickle spelling
                                       tracing words in cornmeal
                                       & SPELLING CITY!
Each Friday, I assign our weekly words and the students then take them home in a composition book.  They are to practice their words 4 times each week.  We have our Whiz Quiz on Friday! Some students need to write the words, so they do.  Others need more hands on so the parent writes how the words were practiced and initials.  Spelling City is always one of the top repeated activities. 

Watch this quick video and see just how easy it is!

There are so many different options with Spelling City.  One being the free program, teachers can save spelling lists on their home page and students can access the lists by searching their teacher's name.  There are several games that students can play and also take practice tests with.  Below is some information from the site just for teachers. 
I asked a parent to load all of my lists on to my page at the beginning of the year and it has worked perfectly ever since.  Students can even add the words themselves.  Just don't tell them that it is extra practice!
Out of all of the games Hang Mouse, Unscramble, & Letter Fall are some of my students favorites.  
Along with games students can practice sentence writing, paragraph writing, and vocabulary.  This is so great for my ESL learners!   Above you see some of my sweet kiddos playing Letter Drop and searching through all of the fantastic games. 
Below is a preview of the Basic and Premium memberships.  I started with the basic but just recently moved to the Premium.  The premium allows me to better track my students progress, create assignments, give students logins, & tons more games!

I highly encourage you to check out this site and give the basic membership a try!  You won't be disappointed. 
If you don't believe me listen to my friend below...she is a SPELLING CITY fan!


Sunday, January 15, 2012

Behind the Scenes...January!

I am so excited to report that January is finally filled with excitement in 2nd grade.  It is my birthday month but I lacked in a great theme to focus on.  We have always celebrated Black history & Famous Americans but I needed more to jazz the COLD month up.  Well, finally Chinese New Year has done just that.  I loved teaching about the history of the major leaders in our country's past.  By adding in Chinese New Year and more customs blended the two together beautifully. 
Behind the Scenes in January...
Martin Luther King, Jr. celebration
We do an activity with Tootsie Pops.  I have the students choose a Tootsie Pop out of a brown bag.  I want their colors to be random and they need to be the one to pick it.  They each have a sheet of directions to follow which includes making groups based on their color.  They group together based on color and begin to enjoy their treat.  Stopping when they get to the center and then putting their sticks and the center back in their paper wrapper.
I then show them a page on our smartboard that shows what each color gets to do during our literacy time.  
     The orange group is always a bit upset...I get all no nonsense and send them off to work.  After about 15 minutes we regroup and talk about our activities.  The orange group is always overly upset about how unfair it was.  We then go back and examine the centers of our Tootsie Pops.  They are all the SAME no matter what color it started as.  We then read a Martin, Luther King, Jr. book and I wait for the connections to begin.  We discuss that it was not fair to be treated differently based on the color of our skin.  Just like it was not fair to be made to write spelling words based on the color of our Tootsie POP!  Like the Tootsie Pops, we don't pick our colors but deep down we are all the same.  Like the Tootsie roll in the center of our POP. 
     I just love seeing the connections during this activity.  It really hits home with the younger grades.  Enjoy!
Chinese New Year!
     I also put together 2 fun Chinese New Year Centers to help connect our celebration at the end of the week.  We spend the rest of the week learning about China and the Chinese New Year.  You can find more in my Chinese New Year Unit. 

Chinese New Year is celebrated on January 23rd so we are going to be having a parade with Lucky Dragons on Friday.  Check out the photos below!
In this center, centers students will use the pictured charts hung on the wall to learn how to use chopsticks.  They will then choose items from the tub and estimate how many tries it will take them to pick up the object with their chopsticks.  (Sorry the pictures on the wall are not showing.)  They then record the number of times.  I am using notebook paper for a recording sheet because it saves on copies.  It is also good for them to get used to recording data for 3rd grade.  I am also planning on having them take their chopsticks to lunch to practice:)

In May I Take Your Order, student use menus from local Chinese Restaurants to take the order of 3 students in the classroom.  

    I also headed over to Activity Village and found some great resources for Chinese New Year.  You can see in the video above my Secret Code center where children will use Chinese symbols to write sentences. 
Be sure the check out how I use Talk Point recorders in my classroom.  

I loved that the recorders went right along with the colors of my centers!  Better yet,   I have found a way to combine traditional exploration centers and The Daily Five using these recorders.  More to come on that:)  I am off to make homemade donuts with my sweet kiddos and my neighbors!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

A Dying Art...The Friendly Letter!

Friends~My Writing Center is booming this year!  My crew are writing letters like crazy!  Boxes of envelopes are always welcome.  It is so sweet to see my little friends communicating with each other...the old fashion way.  The only problem is I have not really taught them how to write a letter and I cringe every time I see one of their letters.  Not because they are not working hard but because they don't understand the basics of The Friendly Letter.  I have been working so hard trying to cover all of my writing goals that I too let this Art slide under the rug.

I know, I know, they will be using email & texting in the future.  I just can't shake the idea of my little ones walking out of 2nd grade not know how to put a personal greeting together for their family and friends.

Well, today marked the day that I brought all of this to light in class.  Mini Lesson time to the rescue!  We spent some time this afternoon and learned the basics of a Friendly Letter.  I kept it very simple because I didn't want to make it seem like more work and stop them from choosing to write during center time.

Check out this video that I made to help my students set up letters on notebook paper.  While stationery and cards are fun they are costly.  We talked about using notebook paper and then decorating it to make our own stationery!
I also put together a Smartboard lesson for them to interact with during our lessons.  I felt so much better as I watched them still head into The Writing Center and grab envelopes.  Their letters looked great and I could see the pride in their eyes as they shared with each other.  


Tuesday, January 3, 2012

We Made it SNOW & my newest Sponsor Worth Avenue Group!

Today was a magical day in 2nd grade.  It was chilly outside and that is always a must for SNOW!  We however are in North Carolina so snow is usually not on the menu.  Today I took matters into my own hands and bought Instant Snow!
Now I was a but disappointed when I got the container because it was pretty small. Once I got to school and put a small scoop into a bowl & added water we had a BIG surprise!  Insta Snow makes tons of fluffy snow that is cold and wet.  My class loved it!  We studied snowflakes today and met Wilson Bentley.  You can read more about what we did in class in my...
We also took our new knowledge about snowflakes and created our own!  Check out our bulletin board display below!
After having such a fantastic day in class I was also surprised to find that my friends at Worth Avenue Group have decided to sponsor The Schroeder Page!  They are an amazing company that supports technology in the schools.   They are also offering some incredible prizes in their Honor America's Greatest Teacher EVENT.  Click the image below to fine out more information!
 You can vote for your favorite teacher NOW!

Worth Avenue Group delivers convenient, affordable insurance coverage to help individuals, students and businesses protect their valuable, portable electronics. Whether it’s a new iPhone, laptop, tablet, gaming system, e-reader or digital camera, Worth Ave. Group specializes in giving customers a cost-effective solution that provides a sense of security should something unexpected happen to their electronics.  Worth Ave. Group works closely with countless schools who have implemented a one to one laptop program. With a good amount of business dedicated specifically to education, Worth Ave. Group strives to give back to education as often as possible. Technology in Education is the future. Worth Ave. Group strives to help schools see that future. 

Be sure to pass this great opportunity on to your staff!  We are slowly moving away from paper and pencils.  Insuring that out technology tools are protected by a company like Worth Avenue gives us all a piece of mind.  
A special thanks goes out to Ken & Gretchen 
for bringing The Schroeder Page and Worth Avenue together!