Sunday, November 27, 2011

Sunshine Award Makes My Month!

It has been "one of those" months weekends. I feel like I can't catch up at school or home...eeek...and the holiday month of madness hasn't even begun! Wah wah me :)
Blogging and Pinterest have been my ultimate downtime de-stressor. I love reading about the things people are doing and have implemented many ideas in my own classroom (more to follow, I promise). That said, waking up to the Sunshine Award has been the highlight of my month.
Thank you so much to Deb at Simply the Classroom for the honour-I am absolutely thrilled.

The Sunshine Award rules are:
1. Thank the person who gave this award and write a post about it.
2. Answer the following questions below.
3. And pass the award to 10~12 fabulous bloggers, link their blogs and let them know you awarded them.

* Favorite Color? 
My favourite colour is blue. I also like pink and orange if they are light (pastel?)

* Favorite Animal?
We have two dogs; Genie, a Golden Lab and Rascal, a Shih Tzu-Poodle, so I guess dogs are my favourite animal. Although I really like cats. My husband is allergic to them, though, so I can't get one.

* Favorite Number? 
My favourite number is 4...always has been....always will be (to quote Bridget)

* Favorite Drink? 
Tims' large double double

* Facebook or Twitter?
Facebook as I don't know how to Tweet.

* Your Passion? 
My passion has to be teaching/learning...especially researching strategies and theories. I love learning and have been involved in three action research projects (two math, one emotional literacy). I also LOVE cooking. I just don't seem to have the time to devote to it that I'd like to.

* Giving or Getting Presents?
Hmmm...tough one....Probably giving presents. It's fun to think about and then find the perfect gift. I love watching my family open their gifts.

* Favorite day? 
My most favourite day of the year is Christmas.

* Favorite flowers? 
I am trying really hard to be a gardener. This summer, I planted a perennial bed :)...every summer I plant annuals and enjoy creating pretty flower beds. My fave flower (which I have planted but hasn't bloomed yet) is the PEONY.

Choosing my favourite blogs was difficult...I love so many and get inspiration from them all! Here are some:

Blogs I Adore

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Fave Christmas Read Aloud Linky Party

I am linking up with Abby at Third Grade Bookworm for a very merry linky party.
I love, love, love Christmas! It's my most favourite holiday and time of the year. Everything about this festive time (except my Visa bill) makes me happy...even the commercials-I kid you not.
There are a number of books that I read to the kids during December, but one that I especially love is The Jolly Christmas Postman by Allan Ahlberg.
The story is about a postman who delivers gifts and packages to nursery rhyme characters. It is one of a series of Jolly Postman books, all of which are fun, whimsical and enjoyable. Of course, this one has a Christmas theme and is full of lift-the-flaps that hold the little gifts and letters for each character. So cute!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011


If you haven't yet discovered ClassDojo, I strongly recommend that you give it a try. It's easy to set up and easy to use. I set it all up last night and then used it I am not YET an expert on it but I am cautiously optimistic.
In a nutshell: 1) each student is given a cute, cartoon avatar; 2) throughout the day, "points" can be given to individual students for positive behaviours; 3) points can be taken away for "negative" behaviours; 4) as often as you want, a report card is generated that outlines how well each student has done.
The kids...EVERY one of them...thought it was super cool and are excited, engaged and eager to be rewarded. Personally, I haven't set up, and don't plan on using, the negative consequence option but that is just me. I plan on using the points as individual minutes for free time on Friday afternoon...we'll see how it goes  :-)

click picture to go to the site
Did I mention that it is FREE??

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Summarizing Penguins-Nonfiction

Kids love animals. So, as we plug away with our "Summarizing" pathway, I decided to use an article that I "found" about a penguin that washed ashore in New Zealand. This poor Emperor Penguin mistook sand for snow and ended up getting quite sick.

Please click the link to go to the article. It is from a website that offers articles for kids in grades 1-8. It is the bomb-diggidey!
So, before reading the article together on the Smart board, I activated prior knowledge by using a circle map. It was fun, different and very interesting for the kids to use.

Click the picture for the document.

Then, I gave the kids a chance to share. I have been REALLY working on this-it always seems to be the step that gets left out...
After kids shared their schema, they were given a copy of the article and another chart. We had used S-W-B-S-T for fiction, but the kids didn't think this would work so well for nonfiction. Hence, the next graphic organizer...which you can click here to access.
This was done over a few days. We have also talked about the fact that a summary shouldn't include your opinion, and that it is really important to know the author's purpose before deciding how to go about writing a summary. 
As a link to IR, I gave each students a sticky note and asked them to write down what the author's purpose was, whether the text was fiction or nonfiction, and which go chart they would  use to  help organize their thinking...

Friday, November 18, 2011

Currently I Am...

This is so fun! Okay, here is my Currently list for November...

Thanks to Farley at Oh Boy Fourth Grade for another super fun linky party...

Thursday, November 17, 2011

I LOVE My New Design!

Just a quick post to say that I am ABSOLUTELY in love with my new blog design. Mckenna at Project 3 Designs has created a beautiful, fun and perfect blog for me.
Thank you x 1 000 000, Mckenna!

Friday, November 04, 2011

Adding by Grouping Friendly Numbers

So I've signed up to be part of a project for Math. This time, unlike the TLT that I did a few years ago, I am the test subject. Yup, forty teachers across primary, junior and intermediate grades are coming together to see how we can improve our math teaching abilities.
Hmmmmm....I forsee Math on the Brain. 24-7.
I used this Stuart J Murphy book this week to help introduce the concept of double digit addition with regrouping. It is another great math book by Murphy and the kids LOVED it. After we read it, I displayed one of the pages on my SmartBoard and we discussed math involved in the adding. The next day, I broke the kids into like-ability pairs and gave them a problem like in the book. This way, I could differentiate the difficulty of the question, and help the kids who are struggling in reading to read the question. Wow! What a fun, engaging activity.
I asked kids to pair up with another group to explain to them how they got their answer. This worked really well and gave the kids a chance to talk about their learning.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Odds & Evens

For whatever reason, my class has had a difficult time with odd and even numbers. So, I rolled up my invisible sleeves (it has been HOT here: ergo t-shirts) and got Pinning. I tried poems (which they loved), our colour coded number lines (hmmm), and cooperative games but there were still a large number of kids who were confused. I noticed a lot of teachers use the book Odd Todd and Even Steven, which looked great. No luck finding it in our school library :(  Argh!
As a last resort, I raided my own Stuart J Murphy read alouds. I bought several of his books from Book Closeouts, for a fraction of their list price, a few years ago. Cue dramatic music-I found a perfect book! Imagine my very own collection. {head smack and sigh}

A little ironic to be reading it in capris and sandals, but the kids LOVED it. In a nutshell, it's about a farmer who is looking for his missing mitten. As he goes around the barnyard, he notices that many of the animals are also missing a mitten. The story goes through even and odd all the way up to ten. It is a predictable pattern book, both in the pictures and text. After discussing the book, I called up two kids and asked them to make a pair. Then did the same with three kids. Right away, the class wanted to make a group of three, but I explained that there can only be two in a pair. We did this all the way up to six kids, with the class deciding which numbers were odd and which even. We then made an anchor chart with the definition for odd and even. Which is at school on my blackboard. I forgot to take a picture of it on Friday. Basically, even numbers can be made into pairs with zero left over. Odd numbers can be made into pairs with one left over.

Next lesson, kids were given a sticky note with a number (1-21) on it. They had to show whether the number was odd or even using our anchor chart rule. I handed out the numbers so I could control who got which  one.

click the picture to get the page

I gave each child an enlarged sheet (11 x 17) and a sheet of mittens to decorate, cut out and use to model whether their number was odd or even. I got the mittens from Giving Up On a Clean House (wonderful blog) 

click the mittens to go to the page

...which I shrank on the photocopier so that I could include more on a page. This was a really fun, interactive lesson that incorporated lots of different ideas, inspirations and learning styles. We are making our Odds and Evens sheets into a class book for the kids to refer to as we have the numbers 1-21.
Whew! Hope this made sense.

Saturday, October 08, 2011

Currently Linky Party

I am linking up with Farley at Oh Boy Fourth Grade for her Currently Linky Party...

The Pioneer Woman is a seriously funny blog about all sorts of daily-life-on-a-ranch sorta things. I love so much about it; recipes, clothes, family stories, cowboys...

I had to chose Pinterest for my other stalking obsession because I can't choose just one blog. Kinda like I can't choose one favourite child (although sometimes teen daughters make it a little easier through process of elimination/temper tantrums).

Sunday, October 02, 2011


I have been honoured with The Versatile Blogger award...WOWZA! Made my month...Thank you so much to Mrs Geary at Light a Candle. Here are the rules:

  • Thank the person who gave you the award and link back to them in your post.
  • Share 7 things about yourself
  • Pass this award along to 15 recently discovered blogs. 
7 Things About Myself:

1. I love reality TV shows. It's kinda like my guilty secret...Roseanne's Nuts is my newest fave (f.u.n.n.y) ...the judge shows also fit into my reality love affair. Especially Judge Judy-she says the things everyone is thinking.

2. I am slightly addicted to online shopping. EBay & Amazon to be exact...I have bought most of my teaching materials/resources from these two stores. I have also saved a mint buying Christmas gifts through Amazon.

3. I think Adam Lambert should have won American Idol. He's just so darn talented and cute. Even with black eyeliner...which suits him. So I like it, too.

4. I enjoy doing housework on Saturday mornings while listening to 80s power ballads. Yes, I sing along...I have been known to dance along. I also love disco, soft rock, pop...pretty much anything.

5. My 8 year old son plays safety in football. I am his biggest fan but don't understand a thing that is happening.

6. I LOVE writing essays (English major) the most of any form of writing. I am hopeless when it comes to writing narratives...they seem to go on and on and on...

7. I have a fairly new obsession with nonfiction and fiction books that are about the Tudor period. I also like to share the facts I read about with anyone who will listen. Whether they want to know or not. Even if they run away.

Here are some blogs that I have newly discovered:

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Hit the Ground RUNNING

Hello blogging world!
I spent the summer blogging, pinning and I am implementing the wonderful ideas I have been so lucky to read and see.
I will take pictures of my classroom and show you everything asap. The beginning of the year is so extremely busy-no news to anyone out there.
Here is a quick little list of the ideas I  have used compliments of the blogosphere:

  • Bucket Filling (using library pockets)
  • Author of the Month 
  • Picture Prompts for Oral Language
  • Word Work in File Folders
  • Calendar Math
  • Class Events/Math Bulletin Board
  • Back-to-School Necklace Glyph
  • Back-to-School Brochure
Hmmm...there is more but I will leave you in suspense! lol

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Pattern Blocks, Site Words, and Pinterest

While pinning, I saw an idea for practicing sight words using pattern block pictures at First Grade Sweet Life.
My classroom contains hundreds of these pattern blocks, so as soon as I saw this idea I thought to myself  "This is going to work like a charm for both Math and Literacy...YAHOO!"

I am going to print on cardstock (Micheals has a big sale on right now!), laminate and add to our Word Work Station.

 I have searched and searched for printable pictures. VOILA-here is an amazing resource to use. PreKinders has asked that her designs are not shown directly on other blogs/websites. Instead, she has asked that a link to her site be provided and HERE.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Meet the Teacher Monday

I am linking up to the Blog Hoppin' party! This post is a day late, so I may have two posts in one day (to catch up)...

Tell us a little something about you...
I am thirty-something and have been married for fifteen years. We have three wonderful, bright, happy kids; Elizabeth (15), Abbigayle (13) and Logan (8).  We live in rural NorthWestern Ontario (nowhere near Toronto) and love it. Yup, I am CANADIAN! Our nearest neighbour is 1/2 km away and happens to be my brother and his family. I have five nephews and zero nieces. We don't travel but someday I hope we will...this summer we are going to Minneapolis (which is only a 6 hour drive south). 

How long have you been teaching?
I graduated in 2002, supply taught for one year and was hired permanent full time in 2003. I feel very blessed to have been hired so quickly-some teachers wait years before they get perm. f/t in our area. I have taught grades 2, 5, 6/7, 8 rotary and 2/3. Most of our classes in our board are split. I have been teaching 2/3 for the past three years and am staying put because I love it!

 You might not know...
Hmmm....I have a smallish (lol) addiction to online shopping :)  I love (not .ca) (not .ca), Tpt, Kijiji, and now Etsy. I think it drives my husband a little crazy, but I have saved lots of money this way. I also have many, many projects on-the-go...and plan on finishing them up soon.

What are you looking most forward to this school year?
I cannot wait to try out the wonderful ideas that I have hijacked from the wonderful worlds of Pinterest and teacher blogs. I am getting a little overwhelmed and really need to sit down and figure out when to introduce what, but I am excited. I am going to try the Butterfly Project that my awesome Aunt Allyson (k teacher in BC) has told me about and am looking forward to it.

What do you need to improve?
First, organization. I am kinda all over the place. I really need to work on that...
Secondly, not taking on too much. I have been lucky to be part of three action research projects and on different school committees, but am looking forward to concentrating on my class this year by taking a step back...

What teaching supplies can you *not* live without?
Markers, binder clips, clear packing tape and a colour printer. I love markers-they are wonderful and make charts look so pretty. My kidlettes use EXPO markers for whiteboard work-which they love. 
Binder clips. Love them. I use them for Agendas, keeping work together, student boards, to hang sentence strips...I have the black ones and fancy ones from the dollar store. 
I use clear packing tape to cover Journal covers etc...kinda like cheap laminating. It has worked wonderfully well. I also use it to tape down nameplates and number lines.
My colour printer. I discovered an uber cheap seller on eBay who sells 4 cartridges (2 black, 2 colour) for $20 including shipping to my home. Can't beat that.
Don't know if it's a teaching supply, but can't live without my Smartboard. Enough said.

Thanks for reading...I hope I wasn't too rambly...loved linking up to this party.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Welcome Back Prezi

Here is a short (but sweet) Prezi welcoming the kids back to school. It didn't take too long and Prezi has improved some of their features. For example, you can search for an image directly from the Prezi site instead of opening a new window and doing it through Google images.
I plan on showing this on my Smartboard and letting the kids ask questions as we go. Last year, I didn't teach them how to make a Prezi, but I may this year.


Saturday, August 20, 2011

Spell with Flickr-FUN with Names

Spell with Flickr is an ultra cool site that Ms Jones from Hello Literacy (100% recommend checking it out) has bookmarked. What a fun idea! All you have to do is type in a word and the site "finds" the letters. The word can then either be saved as a jpg or the html code can be embedded into a blog, website etc.  So many creative possibilities for the classroom...try it out...
 letter K    letter E    letter L    L    letter Y


My example was embedded into this post  : -)

Monday, August 15, 2011

Cranium Club Challenge

Awhile back I blogged about my new initiative, Mrs Kelly's Cranium Club, based on Jack of all Trades Brainiac Club. In a nutshell, Mrs Renz, a fourth grade teacher, created a Mastery Club for her class for all of the early finishers and kids who need that extra challenge. She made 84 questions in different categories including Math, Literacy, Science and Social Studies. She also invited teachers to make their own clubs and now has a few thousand links. So, I decided to give it a try...especially after being inspired by Jack of all Trades.
I used the questions that other teachers posed as a starting point but changed them so that they reflect Ontario curriculum expectations and Canada (ie provinces instead of states, some spelling).
I plan on printing my Cranium Club Challenges on cardstock, which I purchased from Michaels at 3/$10 (cannot beat that) and posting them by my computer station. Kidlettes can complete the challenges on their free time or at home but MUST be able to recite the answers without reading them out of their Cranium Club Notebook. I am using Hilroy notebooks (the uber cheap 4/25 cents ones) for the answers and am in the process of designing a cute front cover. I am also going to shrink the challenges and glue them into the books so that the kids can have the questions with them at home, in the library etc. I haven't included links to sites on the cards because many kids in my class don't have computers, are on dial-up or aren't allowed to use them at home. I plan on showing the kids how to research using the computer lab at the school and will keep a list of links available in the classroom as we "find" them together. I think that showing them how to research is extremely important.
So, a huge THANK YOU to all who have inspired me to do on the picture to go to the document.
Grid to keep track of progress...a sticker or stamp will be added to corresponding challenge as it is successfully completed.
My Math Challenges
The person who started it all, Mrs Renz.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Pinterest Linky Party

I have been pinning away and neglecting my blog :) So much to do so little time. We go back to school on September 7 so I figure that I have pin. lol
I am joining up with Amanda from Plumdoodles (love the name)  Pinterest Linky Party. She is asking that we reflect/share some of our favourite pins, boards, ideas etc. Here are some of the pins that I have made over the past month or so...

1. German Pancakes
These. look. delicious.  My kids looooove pancakes, strawberries and sugar. This recipe reminds me of my Yorkshire pudding recipe so I am extra excited to see how they turn out. I am thinking the first day of school?  Admittedly, I am more of a bleary eyed, Eggo and orange juice mom in the morning BUT I have the best intentions. Perhaps breakfast-for-dinner on the first day of school is a more attainable dream.

2. Magic Playdoh
Well, first off  it's MAGIC. What more can I ask for? Like many of you, I give the kids a little welcome back package on the first day of school. Usually, it consists of  a poem and matching items (choc. kisses, eraser, Smarties, etc). This year, I was looking for something different (new provincial guidelines=no treats). When I saw this idea, I just KNEW I'd have to try it out. I make the playdoh, add a dash of food colouring to the middle of each small individual ball, put them in baggies and attach the poem. Let the fun begin!!

3. Bulletin Board Showcasing Each Student
I am definitely not a good bulletin board person. I find them quite challenging and spend loads of time stalking blogs looking for ideas. When I saw this idea, I thought BRILLIANT-I may have even shouted it out. I have lots and lots of borders, free bristol board and two teens to be bribed help me. My plan is to make one for each kid, which will include their name and photo. We have a laminator at our board office so I can laminate them in Sept. I also have a big bb in the hallway that I plan on hanging these on for the school year to showcase each piece of work. YAHOO!

Btw, I 100% encourage you to check out her blog by clicking on the picture-Victoria has sooooooo many awesome ideas!

4. Last One...
I would like this bedroom. We are in the process of redoing our bedroom and I would like it to turn out like this one. On a budget. With no time to spend on it. Tomorrow.


Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Listen to Reading Solution

Last year, while implementing The Daily 5, I had to rethink my Listen to Reading rotation.  I have a standard 6 person listening centre, but really wanted something more portable for the kids to use. MP3 players to the rescue! I bid on 4 Mickey Mouse MP3 players on Ebay and got all of them for $40 including shipping/handling. 
Brand new MP3 players!

Next, I had to figure out how to get more books on cd so that they could be added to the MP3 players. Hmmm...Scholastic Book Clubs. Each month, they offer at least one book for between $1-$2 so I ordered the specials for a few months. Perfect, now I had books.

My next task was to record someone reading the books so that they could then be put on the MP3 players. Audacity is a free, highly recommended program that can be used for recording. It even includes special features (which I didn't use).  I bought a $12 microphone from Staples and was ready to go.

Lastly, and key to the whole process, the kids were asked to practice one of our new books so that they could record it onto Audacity. This worked really well. Kids practiced until their reading was perfect. We then recorded it, changed the recording into a MP3 format (super easy) and then put 5 books on each MP3 player. Each MP3 player was numbered 1-4. Books that went with the player were given matching numbers and then each set was put in a sturdy Ziploc bag. 

The kids absolutely loved this whole process. I ended up buying cheap headphones for the kids so that each of them had their own.  We also used Leap Pads, computers and 3 Discman's that I purchased from Kijiji for $10/each. This year, I plan on having my fellow teachers read poems into audacity to then burn to cd or put on my MP3 players. The poems will be kept together in books that I bind myself using my binding machine.

What do you do for Listen to Reading in your class?

Monday, August 08, 2011


Top 3 Things Linky Party

Becca at Simply 2nd Resources is having a Top 3 Things linky party. So, what three things am I going to concentrate on this year?

1. Math
Our school board has been concentrating on Literacy for the past five years or so. Our Literacy scores have increased significantly and now I feel that Math needs some TLC. I've noticed that many teachers have been blogging about Debbie Diller's new book, and I am going to buy it! I am also going to go through the new resources that have been purchased by our board (ie read alouds) to supplement.

2. Poetry
I've had an incredibly hard time teaching poetry. I admit that it is one thing I REALLY have to work on this year. I have purchased a Unit from TPT on poetry and am looking forward to using it. I also have to find more poetry browsing books and am on a mission.

3. Start a Book Club
I have been inspired by the online book club for "The Book Whisperer" that has been going on this summer in Blog Land. Therefore, I am starting a book club at my school with my coworkers. Yes, you guessed it, the first book we are going to read is "The Book Whisperer." I hope to do one evening every couple of weeks and take turns hosting the club meeting. It will be a chance to get together, eat appetizers, and chat while reading a wonderful book. SO EXCITED!

It's going to be a very busy year! What are you going to work on? Link up and share.