Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Understanding September 11th

In a few short days, Americans across the United States and individuals all over the world will be remembering September 11th and the horrific events that occurred on that tragic day. I was in 6th grade during 1st period when my teacher got a call to turn on the TV. It took me a while to understand what was going on. I knew that it was bad, but I specifically remember not knowing and comprehending anything about terrorism, terrorists, or tragedy on such a large scale. 

Even now, I find myself thinking about to how I felt on that day. It is hard for us to relay what deep emotions are found within us when we reflect on 9/11. It is even more difficult for us to share and teach those feelings to young children who should not be exposed to such raw tragedy. Eventually the events of this world will catch up with our youth, but for now they are very much naive and unable to make connections to such a heavy day. 

However, I feel that it is still important for us to share certain aspects of 9/11 with our youth. They need to begin to build a foundation of understanding, and it is quite possible that some know a little bit about the day of remembrance. 

In order to help my students, I wrote a short passage about September 11th. I tried to keep it simple yet truthful. Our Wonders Reading skill this week is 2.RI.1(Asking and Answering Questions) so I wanted to connect that with the Reading passage as well. Giving students the opportunity to create their own questions can also provide the teacher with a direction in which to take the conversation.

Please feel free to download from my TPT store or click on the picture above to use in your own classroom. Let me know if you have feedback or suggestions. 

Do you discuss September 11th with your students? If so, how?

*Never Forget*

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Vocabulary Lanyards

I got really excited last night when I was typing this post that I put "publish" instead of "schedule" so you are getting some Monday Made It a little early! Thanks to Tara for the link up!

I am a data fanatic. Data reports can help me create a pretty good picture of what type of learning and teaching needs to occur in my classroom. Last year, our SAT10 results showed that my students needed to be more proficient in vocabulary. So, I began to research and did you know that research shows that students who have a rich and expansive vocabulary are better, stronger readers? Not only do they read more fluently, but they actually better comprehend the text that they are reading. 

So guess what is going to be a much larger focus in my classroom curriculum this year? Yup! You guessed it! Vocabulary!

Vocabulary is essentially the knowledge of words and their definitions. However, student understanding of vocabulary should go beyond just knowing what a word means. Students should have such a deep understanding of vocabulary that they can use those higher level words in context.

One of the things that I love most about our new Wonders Reading series is the rigorous level of vocabulary words that are targeted each week. The vocabulary words can be found in multiple curriculum tools across the series(levels readers, anthologies, and reading workshop stories). 

So take all of that information I have just thrown at you and combine it with the knowledge of activities that are growing into my head thanks to the book Word Nerds that I am reading right now coupled with my love for GoNoodle and their awesome new classroom freebies. 

What do you get?

Vocabulary lanyards GoNoodle style!

 Following one of the activities found in Word Nerds, my students get to "wear and share" vocabulary lanyards each week. I introduced the concept to the class two weeks ago and asked other teachers and staff in my building to stop and have vocabulary conversations with the students wearing lanyards. It has been working out great, but my handwriting is horrible and the handwritten word cards were boring. 

Thanks to GoNoodle and their new supply labels(which you can find free here), I spiced up our vocabulary lanyards, and now my students are wearing them proudly. 

Friday, September 5, 2014

Our "Champtastic" Week with GoNoodle

If you follow me on IG or Facebook then you know that my teaching world has been all things GoNoodle for the last several weeks. #sorrynotsorry GoNoodle has changed my classroom for the better, and I just can't stop bragging about this awesome group!

I have been desperately patiently waiting to share with you about all of the neat GoNoodle inspired opportunities that have happened in our classroom the last week. My students and I have been very grateful for the opportunity to share and grow together while spreading the knowledge of GoNoodle to other classrooms.

After winning the GoNoodle contest, we were given $1,000 to spend on classroom items, a visit from Holly and Taylor, and a concert from Koo Koo Kangaroo(Seriously y'all- these guys are the best). Since movement, being active and engaged learners, and bringing in more "student choice" chances are all a huge focus in my classroom this year; I wanted to use the prize money to help purchase items for the classroom that embraced our new classroom vision.

After a week of speedy shipping(because I couldn't wait!), the new items made it to my classroom! I purchased 4 Hokki stools, 2 yoga balls, 4 yoga mats, a new couch, a saucer chair, and new nonfiction reading materials for my students.

*New chair that converts into a couch! 

The students love having new seating options for individual work time. It has taken some time getting use to the students spread out all of the room-out of their seats, laying on the floor, rocking on stools, and bouncing up and down on the exercise balls. However, the students are engaged and focused so I consider that a win-win!

Taylor and Holly SPOILED my kiddos, folks. They were given fabulous goodie bags packed to the bring with GoNoodle swag. My students now bring their headbands with them daily, have converted their shoelaces over, and are decked out in Champ tattoos.

Taylor and Holly also stayed that afternoon and decorated my room with some adorable GoNoodle freebies and gear from their blog and store. These ladies were adorable! I hate that the picture is blurry, but this is a snapshot of the ladies creating their first EVER bulletin board. I think they are pros. Ladies..you can come back and do more whenever you want!

I LOVE this "Where Are We Sign?" that the lovely ladies made me. Our classroom special areas reporter is now in charge of selecting our location when we leave or return to our classroom. 

You can read Holly's blog post about her visit to my school here or by clicking on the picture. There are some great classroom photos and GoNoodle decor ideas in the post. 

We continued our "Champtastic" GoNoodle week by having my students and school featured on the front page of the local newspaper and on our local radio station. My students now think that they are famous since everyone considers them the "GoNoodle Kids"!

Today, our students had the opportunity to video tape a segment of us sharing our favorite GoNoodle brain breaks. Our district Coordinated Health director is going to be putting together a commercial for our county. We had the best time, and I cannot wait to see how it turned out. 

Now my students, our school, and the amazing FMES staff are eagerly awaiting our concert from Koo Koo Kangaroo. It is going to be epic.

Shew...what a busy week!

Monday, September 1, 2014

September Currently 2014

I still can't wrap my mind around the fact that it is now September. That means fall is right around the corner, and I am just not ready to let go of summer yet. Check out the last sunset of August! It was beautiful! 

I am linking up with Farley and her Currently post to share what is going on in the life of A Rocky Top Teacher at the moment. 

Listening- I have been grading papers and working on lessons plans for most of the morning. I find that listening to some Adele and Norah always help create a calm and positive mood!

Loving- It's the truth! I love my new class. We have been together for 16 days now. They work really well together, are eager to learn, and are full of lots of energy. I can't wait to see where this school year takes us. I know that we are going to accomplish BIG, AMAZING things together!

Thinking- My second grade team will be presenting at our district's professional development session tomorrow. We are sharing our best practices for word study skills because our grade level did really well on our assessments in the category. I LOVE presenting, and it is even more fun when you get to do it with your colleagues. 

Wanting- I really want to take my dog, Hero, for a run. It has been almost an entire week since I have gotten in my workouts. It has been way to warm to hit the pavement at my usual time after school, and last week's CRAZY schedule made me miss my kickboxing classes. I am thinking that Hero needs to get out of the house, too. Maybe we will sneak in a trip to the dog park today!

Needing- I woke up pretty early today to start working on the to-do list that got a little out of control last week. I have been checking off lots of items so hopefully that will get finished today!

3 Trips- I have never been to Italy. The fiancĂ©' and I are thinking about making that our honeymoon destination. New Orleans is a U.S. city that I haven't made it to yet, and I am obsessed with British history so I would LOVE to make a trip to England. 

Have you linked up yet? I am taking my lesson planning break and heading over to check out some of the other posts! Thanks, again Farley for hosting such a fun linky!