Monday, January 28, 2013

The Week in Review (January Something?)

Greetings, Earthlings!

Usually I give you a heads up as to what activities I will be doing with my students, but I thought it was time for a little recap.

I'm not even going to go into the havoc that holidays, teacher workdays, snow days, rain days, delayed openings, off-site swimming lessons and assemblies have caused with my schedule.  Some classes I have not seen in literally a month (never fear...they can come in and out of the library to check out, I just haven't had my "quality time" with them).

What do you do when this happens?  Do you try to get all the classes on the same  page, so to speak?  I've found that some classes, in the same grade, are just going to have to miss out on a project or two.

Soooo...LAST WEEK:

Kindergarten - We read our Caldecott nominees over the past few weeks.  Two of my classes were able to vote before today's announcement, so that's a little messed up (today was a snow day)...however, THANKS BE to the lesson plan Gods, we read two books that received Caldecott honors, so they will be happy about that!  Phew!

Firsties - Oh, we read the sooo sweet HOW TO TEACH A SLUG TO READ.  Before I read them the book, I asked them how they would teach a slug to read.  Their answers brought a tear to my eye, literally.  They mentioned rhyming words, repetition, stretching out the word like a rubber band, and teaching the slug the sounds that letters make.  I would have one request from the publisher...please create a .pdf of the slug so that I can print out slugs for them to read to ... HINT HINT.

Multiage - I used this a printout similar to this one (can't find the original!) and had my first and second graders visualize the illustration for Shel Silverstein's SHAPES (from the anthology A LIGHT IN THE ATTIC).  The kiddos had a great time - some of the illustrations were quite detailed.  I will reveal the "real" illustration this week, weather permitting.

Second - After all the hulla-ballo about Dewey at the ALA Midwinter conference, I was proud to say that my second graders Dig Dewey!  I introduced them to Dewey using this fantastic Dewey Wordle posters (scroll down) by this former (I'm assuming) library school student!  Thank you, Sue Bailey, where ever you are!!

Third - Now this is where we are so out of whack, I can't even deal...  I'm just going to forge ahead with this group and give a thesaurus lesson post-assessment next week to the whole lot of 'em.  I will post the assessment next week for you to steal.

Fourth - Oy.  Another grade that has suffered at the hands of all of the above.  Some were in the middle of book talks...some were done...some were learning about note-taking....  I'll need to reassess this mess.

Fifth - Oh. My. Gosh.  Did I tell you yet about our blog?  The fifth grade students are ON FIRE with this!  I am so proud of them!!  I also started a super adorable dictionary skills project with them that I learned about from...yes, Pinterest.  I'll post the "results" next week.

How are your classes effected by half-days, full-days or no-days?


Saturday, January 12, 2013

The Week in Pre-View 1/14

Whoa.  That's all I have to say.

If any of you follow me on twittter at @classicsixbooks , you'll know that I was suffering from Who Knows What and was down and out for four days last week.  The best laid schemes...

My Students With Autism Class - We are writing poems for the school poetry journal.  First we did some PebbleGo research and they selected the animals that were of most interest to them.  Their picks were panda, bulldog, and pug!  I created a SmartBoard lesson where they could fill in some of the words with photographs from a picture bank.  Our first poem was finished on Friday:  I Love Pandas!  If you want me to email the Notebook file to you, please email me at classic6books at (While you're on the subject, is anyone having a problem with their Notebook software crashing?!)

We March
Written and Illustrated by Shane Evans

Kindergarten - We are hoping that We March by Shane Evans scoops up some Caldecott love!  If you would like the worksheet I created to go along with the book, please let me know as well!

First - Ever notice that the word BEST is in the word DUMBEST?  I thought I had the DUMBEST idea for my firsties and it turned out to be the BEST!  I had all the letters of the alphabet cut out on little squares, took out the number of letter to get to the number of students (so for my class of 20, I removed 6 squares), called those my "mystery letters", handed out the rest of the letters to my students and had them line up alphabetically.  When we got to a missing letter, I checked (very dramatically) to see if it was one of the "mystery letters" I had in my pocket.  They LOVED it!   Love when last minute planning turns out to be such a success!

Mixed First/Second - We'll be using the fabulous site this week!  There's a great game where you try to guess the last line of a Silverstein poem.  Great for teaching kiddos how to look for patterns in rhyme or wordplay!

Second - Total steal from The Centered School Library website!  Creating snowflakes from...snowflake making materials (I didn't have the heart to tell them they were just coffee filters!).

Third - We read Wabi Sabi last week and this week we are creating our own haikus about our favorite books!  I LOVE this haiku organizer from ReadWriteThink - I use it every year.

Fourth - We are continuing our Smartboard lessons on Notetaking!  I think I actually have their attention!

Fifth - More to come, but we have been blogging and commenting up a storm on our book recommendation site.  We are co-blogging with another elementary school in the county and it is totally fabulous.  More later, as that could be an entire blog post in itself.

And also...remember how I told you I abandoned my MG novel?  Well I think the muses were sending me a sign because I dusted off my YA WIP from last year's NaNoWriMo is all just falling into place.  I'm up to 32,000 and I'm just loving it!  It's a joy to write it!  Imagine that!  The working title (a title!) is OTHERWISE OCCUPIED.  How's your writing going?

As one of my tweeps said, you don't realize how good you feel until you're not feeling well.  Enjoy your health while you have it for, as the poet Jane Kenyon wrote, one day it will be otherwise.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

A Happy Goodbye

Last night I bid a happy goodbye to my middle grade novel.

It's one of two fiction projects I've been working on in fits and starts for almost two years.

I love my main character.  She's got fire.  She's got moxie.  She's got, well, character.  And chutzpah.

But I realized last night that she doesn't really have a story.  At least not a compelling one.

She's a character in search of a plot.

And so, despite all her escapades and nosiness and dreams, I must bid her adieu.  For now.

I've taken out a fresh composition notebook, some colored Sharpies and am brainstorming a fresh start.

Clear the decks!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

The Week in Pre-View 1/3 to... 1/4!

Happy 2013!!

Oh I just love a Winter Break.  Here's why:

i ) No evening rush to get homework done, dinner on the table, baths, books, bed

ii ) Time to watch mindless tv and let the kiddos play not-so-mindless video games

iii)  Time to read to self, read to others

iv) Pajamas 'til...

v) Time to think

Come to think of it, just vi) time in general with the family

But alas, all good things must come to an end.  Fortunately we have a VERY short week to ease us back into the routine.

Here's my brief week in pre-view:

My Friends with Autism Class:  We will be doing some poetry writing over the next several weeks, concentrating on animals.  I'm not sure exactly what I'll be doing but it will probably involve the use of the Smartboard which they love!!  I'll be sure to share what I create.

Kindergarten - This week we examine another Caldecott possibility entitled Step Gently Out.  After I read this book to them, they will create a drawing of something very close up.  I really hope that at least ONE of the books I've selected wins the Caldecott or an Honor.  Those Kinders will be very disappointed in me if I mess this up! : )

First - I, er, uh, don't actually have a plan for my firsties yet.  I do, however, have a MEGA cart filled with new books.  My teacher work day will include selecting varies book talk titles.  I love seeing their faces when I introduce new just right books for them to pick!

First/Second - My mixed grade will be beginning their study of poetry, as are several other of the grades.  I just LOVE introducing students to poetry.  It's funny because until poetry and books of poems are introduced to them, my poetry books are largely ignored.  But once I work my librarian magic:  zounds!  Bare shelves!  Have any super suggestions for this age group?

Example of a Jake Maddox book.  EEEK!
Second - I am SO SUPER EXCITED to introduce my second graders to about fifty new book I received last week.  They are all from the Jake Maddox sports series!!!!  I heard about this series via twitter of course and I just think my students, especially my boy readers, are going to go absolutely ga-ga over them.  EEEEK!

Third - My third graders are also starting their poetry study.  I'll be concentrating on the Haiku form with them over the next several weeks, so I will begin with the book Wabi Sabi by Mark Reibstein, illustrated by Ed Young.
Wabi Sabi by Mark Reibstein, Art by Ed Young
Fourth - I really have absolutely no reason to show this video recommended by @kdmiller4  But I MUST!  In fact, it will be a nice little tie-in to a reading of Snowflake Bentley.  So there.

Fifth - Fifth grade will be continuing their blogging project by commenting on book recommendations made by students at another school in our county.  That is...if I can manage to swindle my way into the computer lab this short week!

What does your week look like?
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