Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Leveling Your Classroom Library

     I will be teaching 2nd grade ELA and Social Studies this school year. I'm excited for the change and new challenge after teaching math and/or science for the last three years. I loved teaching math and especially science, but reading has always been my first love.

     When I agreed to teach 2nd grade ELA, I found out that the school doesn't have any 2nd grade level guided reading books. We only have guided reading books for kindergarten and first grade. I had a little panic attack! How in the world am I going to get these babies reading where they are suppose to if I don't have any guided reading books?! After my mini panic attack, I realized I needed to figure out the reading levels of the hundreds of pictures books I have.

     I went looking for a way to level my books and found the Level It! app for my iPhone. *Disclaimer, I pulled this picture from their webpage, http://levelitbooks.com.

     I was able to scan the barcode of the majority of my books, and it brought up the book along with the reading level. Then the book was added to my classroom library. I have between 300 and 400 hundred books, and it took me less than an hour and half to get them all scanned and entered. That time included restroom breaks and getting up to take care of things for my boys. Once the books are scanned into your library, you can sort by title, author, GR level, DRA level, GLE level or Lexile level. You can also search by key words, title, or author.

     If you scan the book and it doesn't show up, there's a way to manually type the book into the app so you can add it your library. The majority of my books had some type of reading level. We use the DRA assessment, so the DRA level is the level I use. The app includes a chart so you can find the equivalent between the different reading level systems. I used the chart to look up what the DRA equivalent was if they only gave a GR or Lexile level.

     There is also a feature where you can check books out to students and then check them back in when they are returned. You add a roster and then individual students. You can even add a photo and reading level to their profile. You scan the barcode and choose the student to check it out to. Then you can check books in two ways. First you can choose check in and scan the book, or you can go to the individual student profile, select the books they want to return, and then choose check in and it will check in the selected books. I plan on trying out the check in/check out feature with my students. I'll let you know how it goes.

     I was hoping I would have enough second grade reading level books because the majority of these books I bought for read aloud when I taught kindergarten. Fortunately most of my books are late first grade, second grade, or early third grade reading level, and I have plenty of books for each of the second grade DRA levels. I feel much better knowing I have enough quality literature for Reader's Workshop. I do have basal readers which I'm not super thrilled about but will do for guided reading groups until we can get some guided reading books ordered.

     The Level It! app is $3.99 on iTunes, and I feel like it was worth the money I spent. An Android version is also available.

*Disclaimer: All opinions are my own. I am not being paid to share this app or my opinions. I just found the app to be useful and wanted to share in case the information was helpful to others.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

School is Cool! Literacy Stations

     I am so excited about these literacy workstations. I have been working on them for about a month now. There are a total of seven stations:

  • Complete or Incomplete Sentences?
  • Back to School Blends-th, cr, gl
  • Ouch! Sight Word Game-review of first grade word list, includes two ways to play
  • Nouns at School
  • Easy as A-B-C-abc order
  • School Routines-sequencing three events
  • Packin' My Bag-spelling

     The sentences station has a color and a black and white version. All of the other stations have a full color, a partial color, and a black and white version. An answer key is included for each station so students can check their work when completed. There is also a recording sheet for each station. I'm going to print two or three copies of each recording sheet, laminate, and put in the station with a dry erase marker or crayon. I'll have students show me or their partner their work before they erase it. 
If you use the black and white version, I suggest printing them off on bright colored paper. 

     Now I just need my Mister to buy some printer ink, so I can get busy prepping these. School is Cool! Literacy Stations is on sale until July 1st. 

Thursday, June 25, 2015

TpT Seller Challenger: Dare to Dream

     I really had a hard time deciding what my dreams are in regards to my TpT store. When I originally started my store a couple of years ago, it was to help out other teachers and try to make a little money back on the time I spent prepping materials for my classroom.

     I realize that while my original intentions have remained; my motivation has grown.

     Three years ago, I left my full time kindergarten teaching job for a part time first grade science and fourth grade math job. I have loved working two days a week. I want to ensure that I will continue to have the ability to teach part time.

     Growing up my family was not able to take many vacations, and I want to be able to travel with my boys and give them first hand experiences I never had.

     This morning we went out to leave for Vacation Bible School, and I had a flat tire. Thankfully my husband was closing tonight, so he had not left for work yet. While I drop Grammie and the boys off at church, Joshua took care of the tire. I wasn't sure if we had a spare for my car, or if we would have the money to fix it until he was paid. (We bought the car used a couple of years ago, which is why I wasn't sure about the spare.) I was immediately stressed and worried. I would love to not stress when these unexpected expenses arise.

     You can visit Sparkling in Second to read about other TpT sellers'  big dreams or to link up and share your own.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Target Dollar Spot Finds

     Last Friday, I posted this picture on Instagram.

     The magnetic letters are for word work. I use to have a ton, but many have been lost or broken over the years. I have taught math and science for the last three years, so I gave away the other letters I had. I will be teaching ELA and social studies this year. Last year, one of Logan's teachers requested magnetic letters for her classroom, and I had the hardest time finding them. I ended up buying a Melissa and Doug set which was more money than I wanted to spend, but couldn't find any cheaper alternatives. Needless to say, I was extremely happy to see these in the Dollar Spot. 

     I love these dice for two reasons. First, they are big and will not easily be lost or disappear. Ahem. Second, they are foam so they are quiet. They will go perfect with this Roll a Spelling activity I found on Pinterest the other day. You can download it for free here. It includes a couple of Roll a language arts activity in the packet. 

     I bought the little box of stamps for the sign and return stamp. Ten years ago, when I started teaching I paid $5 for a sign and return stamp at the teacher store. When I left the school I was at before this one, I lost that stamp. It hurt. I mean I know I got my $5 worth in seven years, but still it was $5! 

     Now if I could just get my hands on those book bins someone posted a picture of the other day. 

Friday, June 19, 2015

Makeover Madness: Science Learning Fun

     I'm excited to be joining in the TpT Seller Challenge! I updated my Science Learning Fun unit.

      I had updated the class book covers when I used them this past year. I had also created a couple of more measurement activities I needed to add to the unit.  I also updated the product cover and my preview to include every page of the unit.

     This unit will be on sale through Monday, June 22nd.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Mental Images with Ronald McDonald

  Yesterday we went to the library after lunch to get new books, and it also happened to be story time. Ronald McDonald was there. Honestly, it was Ronald McDonald. I was expecting some magic tricks and come eat at McDonald's kids. But I was pleasantly surprised with the program. He came to share four things with kids. 

1. Visit the library often. 
2. Read with excitement and picture what you read. (I LOVED this part of the program!!!!)
3. Read every day. 
4. Take care of books. 

      During the read with excitement and picture what you read part, Ronald modeled what boring and exciting reading sounded like so the kids could tell the difference. 

      Then he read a story about a rainstorm and had half the kids be the wind, half be the rain and thunder, and the adults be the lightning. He pointed to each group as their part came up in the story. I thought it was a great concrete way to introduce visualizing what you read. 

     My boys loved the program as much I did. They loved the read with excitement and picture what you read part too! Ronald was available for pictures afterward, but the boys didn't really want to get close to him. When I asked if they wanted a picture with Ronald, Lucas gave this look and said, "Seriously?!". 

      Gotta love that boy! 

     Who knew Ronald McDonald would inspire a new way to introduce mental images?

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Classroom Rules Pack

     I just added my Classroom Rules Pack to my Teachers Pay Teachers store. Included in the pack are full and half page size rules poster as well as all the rules on one page.

     There are two different rule situation sorts. The first sort requires students to identify if students are following the rules. The second sort has students identify which of the class rules the situation card is describing.

     There is also a classroom rules book for students to make. The older student version includes a fill in the missing word with space to draw and write about the rule. The younger student version includes the rule and space for students to draw the rule.

     Also included is a fill in the blank worksheet that I use as an assessment at the end of the week, plus a contract to send home for students to review the rules with their parent. The contract has space to be signed by the student, parent, and teacher.

     You can purchase my Classroom Rules Pack here. It is on sale until tomorrow night at 8:00.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Summer Bucket List Linky

 I'm linking up with Natalie from What The Teacher Wants! to share my summer bucket list!

For School:

     I want to get my scope and sequence for the year mapped out so I can begin writing lesson plans. The state assessment in Texas is the STAAR test. I am the district/campus testing coordinator for my charter school, so I need to get ahead on my lesson planning so all I have to do is prep for my classes in the spring when STAAR testing is in full swing. Last year I had my lesson plans for the year done in December and it was a huge life saver once STAAR rolled around. I do tweak and make changes before I teach my lessons, but it's so helpful to have the bulk of the planning done. The other thing I'm beginning to work on is getting my teacher binder organized and ready to go. I bought the Happy Rainbow planner from April at A Modern Teacher, and I can't wait to use it.


     My personal goal this summer is to get in a healthy eating and exercise routine. I'm finishing up week three of  this goal. I'm starting out slower this time. I started with choosing more fresh fruits and veggies. This week I'm going to begin calorie counting.  I do 20-30 minutes of cardio three times a week and then 10-15 minutes of calisthenics three times a week. I use Sunday as my rest day. I hate the exercise part the most, so I've started with walking for my cardio, and found a couple of beginner body weight routines online that I felt I could be successful at to start with. I get up and do my exercise first thing after my Bible study time, so I don't make excuses later in the day and rationalize skipping it.

For Fun:

    I just want to rest, relax, and most importantly enjoy my boys. We just finished up a week of Backyard Bible club at a park near our church. We've rode bikes and went on walks. We've spent a lot of time reading for the summer reading program at our local library. They have almost filled up their first log to turn in for prizes. We may take a trip later in the summer. As long I get to spend as much time as possible with my boys, it'll be a successful summer.

     You can link up with What The Teacher Wants! and share your summer bucket list too. Natalie has a link to get the summer bucket list graphic above in her post.

Happy Summer!!!!

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Pirates Go To School Literacy Unit

     We have been out of school for two weeks, and I'm already working on projects for next school year. After teaching science or math/science for three years, I'll now be teaching ELA and social studies. I've been working on my first week plans, and put together a unit to go with the book Pirates Go To School by Corinne Demas.

     There are reading lessons, anchor chart labels, and student response sheets for character traits, characters and settings, and character feelings. There are suggested stop to model points for character traits and feelings.

     There are word work lessons for syllable sorting and abc order. These activities can be done whole group, and then moved into a workstation.

     Finally there are writing plans for the prompt, If pirates were in my class. There are graphic organizers for prewriting and drafting, and example pages for the modeling I do. There are two different writing pages included as well.

     You can purchase my unit here in my Teachers Pay Teachers store. It will be on sale through tomorrow night.


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