Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Directed Drawings Are the Jam!

Over the next few posts, I am going to be sharing pictures and short explanations about what are some of our favorite things to do during the holidays in 5th grade! During the season, my goal as an educator is to help provide fun yet purposeful activities for the kiddos to do! And, the season may be over but these are great to save for next year! 

Everyone is an artist in their own way. And, kiddos LOVE to draw. A couple of years ago I stumbled across the YouTube account called Art Hub for Kids. The account is run by a father who draws with his kids and shares the step by step videos that they make of their drawings. Since then, I try to bring in directed drawings opportunities as much as possible.

This year, we made reindeers using ARTventurous' directed drawing steps. I LOVE how they turned out! 

For this specific activity, we drew the reindeer with our pencils then traced over with black and brown markers. Then the kiddos completed their artwork with water color!

Watercolor is a form of paint that kiddos are not getting a lot of exposure to nowadays. I always start off our watercolor events with a brief tutorial on how to use the watercolors to get the most out of our art!

They were so focused and creative with their art!

I was so impressed with the finished projects!

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Grinch Day in 5th Grade!

I LOVE the holiday season in the classroom. It is hands down one of my favorite times of the year. There is so much excitement and joy to be found by watching and experiencing the holiday cheer through the eyes of children. 

Over the next few posts, I am going to be sharing pictures and short explanations about what are some of our favorite things to do during the holidays in 5th grade! During the season, my goal as an educator is to help provide fun yet purposeful activities for the kiddos to do! And, the season may be over but these are great to save for next year! 

I love Grinch day, and 5th graders love Grinch Day, too! Every year I try to do different things in the classroom so I switch things up a lot! This year we dressed up in green, read the story, watched the old animated film, and did a Readers' Theater which the students LOVED. They did such a great job with it. I am constantly so impressed with how much students embrace amazing opportunities to showcase their talents. The key is making sure you provide them as much opportunity to do so in an environment where they feel safe and respected!

I snagged this big book version at a conference a few years back for FREE, and it is one of my favorite holiday books! 

I also am a firm believer of providing healthy holiday snacks as much as possible! This was my first year trying out the Grinch hats, and they were a huge hit! We also had some Grinch punch. You can check out the recipes and directions here (punch) and here (hats). 

It was so easy to put together, and I did go ahead and make them the night before. I had several teachers ask me on my IG account how they held up, and they did great! I did sprinkle a little Fruit Fresh on it to help the fruit keep their color until the next day. 

Next year, I think I am going to let the kiddos make the snack on their own! I will give them the tools and fruit then encourage them to make a Grinch hat out of it(without seeing a picture). It would be a great writing/brainstorming extension for the holiday season. 

Our Grinch Readers Theater was my favorite part of the day. You can find the script by Katie Rink here.  The kiddos got to pick the roles, they read through the script together, we put on our hats, and read the play! They cracked up, smiled, and had a blast. For the hats, we used sentence strips and printouts of Whos from Whoville and one of the Grinch.

There are so many great ways to pull in resources that enhance your classroom learning experiences during the holiday! 

Monday, November 28, 2016

Classroom Teachers vs. School Teachers

Over the last few months, I have had the extreme pleasure of working with some amazing educators in our district. We are beginning a new PLC journey in our schools so we have been collaborating on the best way to transition to truly effective PLCs.

During one of the sessions that we had, I brought up the difference between a classroom teacher and a school teacher and what these teaching differences can mean to a PLC, our schools, district, and most importantly--our students. I had first run across the comparison when reading The Innovator's Mindset by George Couros (You need this book if you have not read it yet--like Amazon it ASAP!)

Looking at the differences between classroom teachers and school teachers is meant to help teachers realize the power of collaboration. The teaching community should be just that...a community! Just think of how much stronger the learning experiences that we strive to create for our kiddos could be if we would be more mindful of creating opportunities where we are sharing, respecting, and trusting one another. 

So, my challenge for you today is to check out the graphic below and think about your role in your teaching journey. Are you a classroom teacher or a school teacher? 

Ever since I came across this portion of Mr. Couros' book, I have found myself using this frame of thinking constantly. I encourage all of us to think about how we can push even further than the "school" teacher mindset. Why not think about being a district teacher, a state teacher, a "WORLD" teacher?  At the end of the day, we are in this profession to help our kiddos be the BEST that they can be. We strive to create learning experiences and journeys for them that are centered around their success. How powerful would it be if we had the mindset that we were helping raise all the kiddos of the world together? ALL of our kiddos. Not YOUR Kiddos, not MY kiddos or THEIR kiddos----OUR KIDDOS. 

That word OUR is just so powerful. 

Teaching can be hard. It is not always easy, but it's worth it.  We are all in this together. 
#bestjobever #teachertribe #happyclassrooms 

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Do You Flocabulary?

This time last year, I was a fifth year teacher who had just moved from second grade to fifth grade. Everything, from the content to the new age of my students, made me feel like a brand-new, first year teacher all over again.

I was clinging to the advice of my colleagues and social media teacher connections to help me get my feet set on the ground in my new role as a 5th grade ELA and Social Studies teacher. One night, I was participating in a Twitter chat when someone shared about a cool technology tool that they were using in their classroom to help share content in an interesting way. The amazing tech tool was Flocabulary.

This time last year, I had never heard of Flocabulary and now I don’t know what I would do without it! If you are not familiar with what Flocabulary is, you can check out a post here.

I am just so excited about how this amazing resource has transformed our classroom, and I want to share these ideas and information with you.


Flocabulary has over 750 videos. Folks, that is a lot of amazing content that can cover pretty much any topic you can think of! We use the videos to work on Point of View, Main Idea, Complex Sentences, The Civil War, The Gilded Age, Weekly Current Events…..and so, so much more.

We like to put movements to the videos to help us attach even more meaning to the videos and the educational content found within the raps. Here is a quick clip of our Point of View rap. I LOVE how students remember the lyrics and are able to apply the information gained from these videos!

One of our favorite lessons this year was when my students used the Flocabulary Lyric Lab to help them write their own rap about pronouns. The students were AMAZING and truly created the rap on their own! I was such a proud teacher. Here is a quick clip of one of my kiddos performing the rap. 

I love that I can take what we have learned in class and extend that learning with the resources provided in the Flocabulary resources tab. They also have an amazing Pinterest page where teachers can find amazing ideas on how to implement Flocabulary into the classroom.


They have a Lesson Resources page for implementation ideas per subject and ideas on Pinterest ( elementary and middle and high school)!

Interested in some of the features that I just mentioned? Check out more information below by clicking on the link. 

Still looking for more information on how to start your Flocabulary journey? Their "How To" page is a great starting place! It includes a self-guided training presentation as well as a short tutorial video about getting started with Flocabulary.

SO, ready for an amazing giveaway?  Just fill out the form below and 3 amazing teachers will win a year subscription to Flocabulary. EVERYONE that enters will win a 45 day free trial!

Here are some important giveaway details:

    • Please enter each field in the form to be eligible (it should only take them a minute!)
    • Everyone that enters the giveaway will receive an email for an extended 45-day school-wide trial of Flocabulary.
    • Winners will be drawn at random.
    • You must must enter by October 16th at 11:59ET.
    • Flocabulary will announce the three winners from each blog on October 18th.
    • That week, they will also email all entrants your access to the special 45-day school-wide free trials to Flocabulary.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Part 1- Unique Picture Books for Social Studies

As a Social Studies and Reading teacher(who also happens to be an AVID book lover), I am always on the hunt for picture books that I can use to help teach content topics, introduce important people and events, and bring some joy and excitement to learning. 

That is why I am so excited about the following 4 books. I learned about most of these titles while I was at Nerd Camp this past summer and knew that they would be valuable stories for me to share with my students. 

The first is Unspoken by Henry Cole. Three major things make this book a must have. 

1) The book has no words. The story is told strictly through the remarkable black and white illustrations. This also means that the students are encouraged to really pay attention to the details of the pictures and the sequencing of the illustrations in order to piece together the storyline.

2) The story offers a unique twist on the Underground Railroad. Instead of telling the story through the eyes of a runaway slave or even a sympathizer, the story is told through the eyes of a young girl who notices a slave hiding in her family's shed. Instead of telling her family, she keeps it a secret and brings the slave food. Confederate troops visit the home, scouts are sent to look for slaves, and yet the girl still helps the slave and remains silent. There is a sweet end to the story that my 5th graders really enjoyed. 

3) Like many of my favorite teaching books, this one allows me to bring in multiple teaching points at once. We can discuss sequencing, summarizing, conventions of standard English,writing crafts,  and Social Studies topics surrounding the Pre/Civil War....just to name a few!

The second book is Two Friends: Susan B. Anthony & Frederick Douglass by Dean Robbins.  I love that this author takes two individuals, from different, important eras, whose paths overlap because they believe in rights and equality for all. 

The two individuals meet over a cup of tea. Susan highlights the rights that women did not have and the things that they could not do. She knew she wanted more and was ready to fight for more rights. Frederick shares important parts about his life as well. He was a slave, but he yearned for more so he secretly learned to read and write. He too believed in rights for all. 

Together, Frederick Douglas and Susan B. Anthony meet and talk about their plans for changing the future. 

Westward Expansion and the Reconstruction were two of my students' favorite time periods last year. I have a feeling that a lot of it had to do with the Social Studies simulations that we did, but I think an exciting reading passage about the outlaws, crime, gold, and new beginnings was also what made it such a big hit. So, when I stumbled across Bad News for Outlaws: The Remarkable Life of Bass Reeves, Deputy U.S. Marshall by Vaunda Micheasux Nelson, I grabbed it for my readers!

This book follows the life of Bass Reeves. Reeves was a slave from Texas with a lot of promise. A life changing event caused Reeves to escape to Indian Territory. He lived with Indians until the end of the war and eventually became a Deputy Marshall for Oklahoma. 

The illustrations are engaging, the text is interesting, and the historical events shared throughout the story help readers better understand the time period.  This book would be great for middle school students and mature readers. 

I can't quit sharing this book. The Tree is the Courtyard:Looking Through Anne Frank's Window by Jeff Gottesfeld gives me goosebumps every time I read it. 

This story is written from the point of view of a tree sitting outside the annex of Anne Frank's father's factory. The tree watches Anne and her family. The tree watches her writing in her journal. She sees the family suffering, but does not understand why. The tree loves Anne.

The story changes when the tree watches Anne and her family being taken away, and she is there watching when only Anne's father returns. 

The author of this story has taken events from Anne's published journal and woven them into this story. 

The afterword at the end of the book shares information about the actual tree and informs readers that seedlings from the tree have actually been planted around the world. One is planted at the National September 11 Memorial and Museum in New York. Beautiful story!

So, there are a few picture books that we have really enjoyed adding to our classroom. 

Unspoken and The Tree in the Courtyard and two of my favorites right now! Check back soon as I share some more of my favorites with you!

Sunday, September 11, 2016

You Matter Postcards

After reading the book Kids Deserve It!  by Todd Nelsoney and Adam Welcome, I was eager to find ways to reach out to students in our school because they deserved to be recognized and celebrated! I often wonder how often students, who we love and adore, don’t know that we feel that way about them. Do students realize that we see all of the amazing accomplishments that they are making? Do they know that we notice their hard work and effort? Do they realize that we are celebrating all of their moments with them-both big and small? 

One of my favorite phrases/chapters from the book is YOU MATTER. Those two words are so powerful to me. They mean that we see you. We know that you are working hard. We know that you are giving us everything you have. We know that your story is important and that your struggles do not define who you are. 

This postcard is something that I created for our school to send home to students to let them know that they matter. We leave little notes to them, sign it with love then send it to them through the mail. Students are always excited to get mail at their homes that is addressed to them. 

The postcards in this file are actually a little larger than the standard USPS postcard size. We needed more space to send love and encouragement to our kiddos so the extra money it costs to send these is worth every penny to us. 

I hope this download is something that you and your school can use! Just click on the image to access the Google Drive folder or click here. Please let me know if you have any questions!

Sunday, August 21, 2016

4 Back to School Picture Books-For All Grades!

There is no denying that I LOVE picture books. I am obsessed with reading them, talking about them, and using them to help share important life lessons with my kiddos. So, I wanted to share with you 4 of my favorite back to school picture books that you may not already be using in your classroom. 

Each of these books play an extremely important role in the first few days of school for my class!
 Looking for it on Amazon? Find it here

  Looking for it on Amazon? Find it here

  Looking for it on Amazon? Find it here!

  Looking for it on Amazon? Find it here!

Already back to school? No problem! These amazing picture books are great to implement at any time during the school year! <3 

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Back to School BASH 2016- InstaHOP

The Back to School Bash 2016 has been so much fun! Thank you to everyone who has joined us this year.'s not over yet! We have one final chance for you to win! When we say win, we mean WIN BIG! Anyone needing some updated technology for your classroom? I give you the B2S Bash Grand Prize...

Yes! This is real life!
Yes! This could be in your classroom very soon! 

But you have to enter first! Here's how you do it: 

1) Begin the insta hop by locating @stepintosecondgrade on instagram. You will want to begin with Amy so that you collect the letter tiles in order. Each blogger will link to another letter. Click on the letter and hop to the next location. As you hop...

a) follow each blogger 
b)  collect each letter

The letter tiles look like this....

2. The letters will reveal a question. (Don't worry...the letters go in order so you don't have to unscramble a thing!) 

3. Once you have figured out the question, hop on over to any of our blogs to enter the Rafflecopter to win! You will be asked to answer the instaHOP question! 

You only have 24 hours to enter, so go get your hop on! ;) 

 Yep! That simple! So have you finished your hop? 

Enter below: 

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Back to School Bash

Happy Back to School season!!! It is here and it is going to be THE BEST YEAR YET!!! And, Back to School means that it's time for the annual and much anticipated Back to School blogger bash! There are so many amazing prizes up for grabs this year by some of my favorite bloggers. It is an honor to join in with my favorite peeps this year. 

Here's how it works...  You'll have a couple of days to hop around blogs and enter the giveaways using a Rafflecopter.  At the bottom of each post there will be a button that will lead you to the next giveaway!  The more blogs you enter on, the better your chances are of winning :)))

Check out my Bash Basket. My basket is.......

1) An Amazon Kindle!!!!!!! I am so stoked about this. I use my Kindle all the time. There are just way too many good books out there to read and my #tbrlist is a little out of control at the moment. Pretty sure my FAVORITE thing about the Kindle is the fact that I can take it anywhere that I go. I toss it in my bag when I head to the airport and LOVE that I can read it outside with no glare. 

2) An Amazon giftcard so that you can buy new books to read on your new device! 

And, while you are thinking about all things are a few of my book recommendations! 

Enter using the Rafflecopter below!  You have until the end of Tuesday!

Now, head over to the sweetest lady in the WORLD, Amy Lemons!!

***We also have another BIG giveaway on Wednesday through IG so be sure to check out INSTAGRAM on Wednesday for the GRAND PRIZE announcement and how to enter!  You definitely won't want to miss out!!! It is going to be amazing!