Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Book Share Wednesday: The Hundred Dresses

Today is the very first Book Share Wednesday link up!! I'm so excited to have a place for you to come together and share the great books you use in your classroom in any way.  Today I'm sharing about the book I like to use as my first read aloud.  Yesterday was my first day with my new class of students.  It was a great day and I'm so excited for this group.  Based on first impresssions, we have a great dynamic and we're going to have a lot of fun.  I started reading aloud to them the book The Hundred Dresses.  It's one of my favorites that really illustrates the need to be kind and aware of others.  It's a great medium through which to have some conversations about how your class should build a community that is caring and supportive of all class members.  I highly recommend reading this one if you haven't.  I've used this book in all three levels that I've taught, first grade, third grade and fifth grade.  Every class has been attentive and had good conversation about the story and relating it to us.  It's also a bit of a classic, so it's not expensive at all.

Now it's your turn!  Once a month on the third Wednesday, I open up my Book Share post to all of you to link up to.  If you have a blog, feel free to link up your post about a book below.  It can be a novel, picture book, professional development book, etc.  If you'd rather, you're also always welcome to respond to my post or share your book in the comments section below.  Happy reading!!

The link will be open for one week. 

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Bright Idea: Taming Cords

No tangled cords, everything has a place, all devices can charge.

I am so excited this year to have 7 Chromebooks to use in my classroom (waiting for the 7th to arrive that was recently funded through Donors Choose).  Having at least a small group set will mean that we'll be able to use them throughout the day.  I wanted them to be set up in a specific location and have the cords at hand so they can be always charging or, if they need to be moved, plugged in as soon as they are returned to their spot.  There are many great ideas around for taming all your cords for classroom devices.  This is what I came up with that is going to work great for me and my classroom set up.

Place adhesive velcro to the cord box. 

Take the paper backing off the opposite velcro and attach to the base so that they are lined up. My shapes didn't match, I just used what I had left over from other projects.  It worked just fine. 

Place the box to the underside of the table where you desire. 

Do the same process with a power strip.  It will need a bit more velcro. 

The view from under the table with attached cords. You could certainly pull up all the hanging cords with some twist-ties or zip ties to tidy it all up a bit more. 

Thanks to Shelley for organizing this monthly link up.  Be sure to check out the many other Bright Ideas by clicking the links below. 

If you liked this idea, ensure that you don't miss any other post by following me at any of the social media links the top of the blog. 

Friday, August 15, 2014

Avery Binders and Divider Tabs

Just in time for back to school, I received some Avery brand products to review from Shoplet.  Here's how I put them to use.  

I'm going to give "Genius Projects" a try this year.  I had a great discussion with a sixth grade teacher yesterday about how we might implement it in our classes this year.  I set up the binder with a tab for each student.  I'm still working on the tracking sheets that will go inside; I'll post about them as soon as I get them done.  I plan to include a record sheet behind each students' tab to help me keep track of their projects and how they're doing and what support they need.  I'll also put in a copy of their proposals. 

I have always appreciated the quality of Avery products.  The view binder with one-touch EZD rings is super easy to open.  The one pull tab on the bottomhas a rubber surface for easy and comfortable grip.  You really can open it with just one hand pulling on the tab (You'll need your other hand to hold the binder in place as you pull.)  The two pockets mean that you can be more organized and hold more papers in the front and back cover of the binder.  The pockets are clear so you can easily see what you've put inside of them.

The Index Maker Clear Dividers with Color Tabs and with White Tabs are durable, professional looking dividers.  The thick paper the tabs are on will help them stand up to a lot of flipping in your binder.  The tabs come with labels that can be printed on for an even more professional and organized look.  Both the Easy Apply labels and the traditional formatted labels were included in the box. The Easy Apply labels are designed to be applied to all the tabs at once for ease and time saving.  I was skeptical at first, but I actually really liked how easy and well they worked. I loved that I easily downloaded the template from the website included on the label sheet and easily named and printed the labels all at once. 

 You can view a great tutorial video on the dividers below:

Do you do "Genius Hour" or "Genius Projects"? How do you make it work well in your classroom? 

I received the Avery products as a courtesy from Shoplet in exchange for my review.  All opinions are my own from my experience with the products. 

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Draw-a-Saurus: Book Share Wednesday

Welcome to Book Share Wednesday, a weekly post that I introduced last week.  Each Wednesday, I'll share with you a book, most likely new to the market.  It could be a picture book, novel, or professional development book.  Besides learning about a new book each week, you can join the fun in sharing a book on the third Wednesday of each month when my post will be a linky that you can link up to.  That's next week, if you're wondering, so be sure to plan a post and link up next Wednesday beginning at 5:00 am MST.

Today's book is a fun how-to book.

Draw-a-Saurus will be released on Septebmer 9.  I really appreciate the front matter in this book that is humorous and gives the reader some background information about dinosaurs and drawing tools and techniques.  The reader really gets a lot of information before the drawing lessons even officially start. 

Then, you are taken through step-by-step lessons in drawing several different dinosaurs or groups of related dinosaurs.  Along with the drawing steps, the author includes information about each of the dinosaurs through each step of the drawing.  Students will have fun drawing and learning about these mysterious creatures. 

I think this would be a great book to add to your classroom library.  It would be especially appealing to your science kiddos, and likely your reluctant readers.  There's so much text and information along with the drawing that reluctant readers will be sucked right into reading about the dinosaurs as they draw. 

It is a jam-packed book at 160 pages.  I was able to take a look and read through the Kindle version of the book.  I would highly recommend getting the paper copy of the book.  The Kindle version would do, but I have a feeling that the paper version would be easier to navigate and more user friendly for the type of book it is.  

You can preorder Draw-A-Saurus: Everything You Need to Know to Draw Your Favorite Dinosaurs now and have it delivered either to your Kindle or to your door on September 9, 2014.  Be sure to come back next Wednesday and link up your Book Share posts. 

What are some of the books you find that your reluctant readers or "science smart" kiddos enjoy?

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Loved That Lesson: Introducing my Class Theme of the Year

I'm so excited for the first day of school, just so I can introduce the theme for our classroom this year:

"be the change"

It all started when I watched a music video by Alex Boye and then a viral video about some German students who stop to support a homeless man on the street.  It all just seemed meant to be, so I decided my theme for the year would focus on being the change based on this quote from Mahatma Gandhi:

So, on the first day of school, I'm going to introduce our classroom theme.  I"ve planned three lessons that introduce and explain the theme to students and lead us to the ultimate end of having students set goals on a regular basis throughout the year to make change in themselves, thus influence those around them.  Below, I've outlined the first lesson.  You can get the full three day outline along with the student goal sheets in my full mini-unit set linked at the end of this post as well as a link to get posters of each quote for free. 

Start by sharing the Mahatma Gandhi quote with students, “Be the change that you wish to see in the world”.  Hang up the poster of the quote.  Ask students what they think this means and support students in a discussion without giving your opinion or steering students toward a “right” answer. 

Then, show this video about three German students who stop to help a homeless man.  Ask students to think about how the quote relates to this video.     

Then, have groups of students write their thoughts on some post-it notes. Have some chart paper or your whiteboard ready for students to stick their notes.  You can label sections with the reflection questions or just have a parking lot area ready for students to place their notes.

Some reflection or guiding questions might be: 
·        What were some correlations with the quote and video?
·        What strengths/skills did these people bring to the    situation? 
·        What was the outcome of the collaboration? 
·        What strengths can you offer to help make change? 

As students are writing notes and posting them, wander among the groups and take note of some of their ideas to ready yourself for a class discussion following the group brainstorm.

Bring the students back together and hi-light some of the recurring ideas or those that especially stand out as ideas to share and discuss.  Lead your discussion to the conclusion that we have the power within ourselves to make change that then affects others.  Hopefully, we use that power to effect positive change.  

I'm so excited for this to be my theme and to come back to it frequently throughout the year.  I'll also be relating it to my introduction of the 7 habits for effective students that I introduce the first week or so of school.  We're not a Leader in Me school, but we introduce and refer to the habits as a grade level team throughout the year.

If you'd like the posters of the quotes that I made you can get the set here. There's a quote and video for each lesson.  You can get the second two lesson plans and goal planning sheets for the entire school year in this set.  

Be sure to click below to see many other great lesson ideas and link up your own great lesson idea as well!

Friday, August 8, 2014

Back to School Blog Hop

I'm happy to be collaborating with several other 5th grade teachers to bring you some back to school tips and a giveaway!  

My tip is to not be afraid to let students know about you.  On the first day, share with them about some of your hobbies, what you did over the summer and about your family.  When students feel like they can connect with you, they are more likely to trust you and to be open to receive information and advice from you.  

I'll be sharing a PowerPoint slide show with my class on the first day filled with pictures of my summer and family.  I'll also be sharing my "3 about me bag" with the students.  It will serve as an example for students as they will each be asked to bring a bag containing three items that represent them in some way to share with the class.  I'll assign ten students per day to bring in their bags for the 2-4 days of school as a way to help us get to know each other and start to get comfortable in front of the class.  

Be sure to hop through all of us to get all of the tips.  You can enter to win some amazing prizes below or at any of the other blogs along the hop.  You'll find the next tip from Nicole at  

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Book Share: The Fourteenth Goldfish

I am so excited to introduce to you a new weekly post.  Book Share Wednesday!  I'll post a book review or a lesson idea correlated with a specific book each Wednesday.  Some of the books will even be for newly or pre-published books!  Even better, on the third Wednesday of each month, Book Share Wednesday will be an open linky for anyone to link up their posts about a book or lesson idea for a book.  You can share picture books, novels or even professional development books.  

This first Book Share Wednesday post is all about a book that will be released on August 26, 2014.  It's one of the books for the Global Read Aloud this fall.  You can get more information about the Global Read Aloud here.  

The Fourteenth Goldfish by Jennifer L. Holm is a light-hearted novel about discovering that anything is possible.  As Ellie works through the changes that come with moving from being a child to a teen, she realizes the joy in discovery and the possibility that lies within trying.  

The book has several themes and a couple of story lines that weave between each other.  It is very thought provoking and leaves the reader wondering a bit as Ellie thinks about the damaging side of some inventions that have changed our world for the better.  

The Fourteenth Goldfish will be a great independent, group or class read for grades 4-6 and some third grade students.  It would be a great teacher read aloud and lend to some good conversation.  I appreciated that I didn't have to worry about questionable language, themes, or scenes at any point in this novel.  It reflects reality with an element of fantasy that many students will be able to relate to without a depressive nature.  

I'll be reading this book to my 5th grade class starting October 6th during the Global Read Aloud and would love for any of you to join us.  Pre-order your copy now by clicking the book cover above.  We will be chatting about the book on twitter using #GRA14 from the @dillydabbles twitter account.  My class will also be blogging about classroom happenings from the same account using #sierrabonita5, we'd love to connect and join with you in sharing classroom experiences!

Please join us each Wednesday for a new book share, especially on Wednesday, August 20 for the inaugural monthly Book Share link-up.


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