Schoolroom Swag

Elementary Teacher

Having fun in the classroom and "balancing" life!

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Fact Family Freebie!

I'm teaching fact families this week. I've been leading into it with related facts. Last week was monster week, and I have awesome Frankenstein plates that we wrote related facts on. Now this week we're using The Fact Family. They have four kids: Addition Abby, Addition Annie, Subtraction Seth and Subtraction Steve. They live in many different houses and each house has its own "address". And the Fact Family kids each have their own ipad so my students can write the number sentences that go with them onto the ipad.


This little unit is a freebie at TPT and TN. Stop by and pick it up! It comes with directions for how I plan to use it in my small group, and has 2 different worksheets to use. Have a great week!

 Glitter Words
[ - *Glitter Words*]

Friday, October 11, 2013

Journal writing and grammar

Do you get alot of journal writing that looks like this:  "I like my Mom."? I do.

And how do you teach grammar? We use the Shurley method at our school and it has some great qualities. But the assignments and the way it's "supposed" to be taught really leave alot to be desired. You have to dig deep to "fun it up". It's great to get them to learn the parts of speech, though. But  I really wonder if the kids are actually learning what the parts of speech are, or if they're just memorizing what the worksheets look like.

So this year I'm trying something different. In Shurley english, the kids learn patterns of sentence structure. In first grade, they only learn pattern one. The sentences take on this structure:
A - adj- sn- v- adv- p-A- op
(article- adjective- subject noun- verb-adverb- preposition- article- object of the preposition)
You can add adjectives or adverbs to that, but that's basically it. 

They learn those parts of speech, and also to classify (diagram) that sentence. They also practice writing sentences using that format. So to incorporate that learning with their writing, I started making them use it for their journals. Here's how it's going:
It's impossible to see- sorry! It says "Hard candy corn crunches loudly." 

"Pine trees sway softly"
"The Holy Bible teaches smartly."  Smartly????!!!! They're 6.
 ARGH!! These pictures are so hard to see.  I'm sorry.

It's tough. They want to revert back to their "I like my Mom" writing. And it's tough to get them to restructure their thinking to make a sentence fit a format. Journal writing time just went from 10 minutes to a half hour. But I really do think it will help them to understand what the parts of speech are and how they're used. Plus we are forced to do some thinking to find adjectives and adverbs to make the sentences more exciting. After we're done writing, they switch journals and peer edit. Then they get their own book back and have to classify the sentence by writing the labels on top of the words. Is their journal a mess? Yes. Does it take a ton of time? Yes. And patience? Yes. Do I hear some whining? Yes.  But so far I'm thinkin' it'll be worth it. After a few weeks of writing journals this way I plan to give them a day to write whatever or however they want. I think that will be a good test of whether they've learned correct sentence structures or not. Will they go right back to "I like my dog"? I'm afraid to find out.
Have a great long weekend!
 Glitter Words
[ - *Glitter Words*]

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Victor verb, Nancy Noun and Growing up to be a Pirate

My class is SO cute and funny this year. They say the most hilarious stuff. And they are so excited to share their new learning. Last week I was introducing a big book "10 Dogs in the Window" (which is really cute) so I was "selling" it, and telling them how great all the first grade classes think it is. One little girl got SO excited, she put her hands up to her mouth and started, like, thrashing around and said in this little "Despicable Me" voice "I just love school! I can't wait to see what we learn today!!!!" And she wasn't trying to be goofy or make everyone laugh. She was totally sincere. It was AWESOME.

So here was our week:
Nancy noun and Victor Verb: Victor only eats vegetables and Nancy only eats Nachos. We "fed" Victor and Nancy with paper chips and paper carrots, depending on the word they drew. I wrote nouns and verbs on cards, and they drew them from the deck, then had to decide who to feed. Of course we ate  the real thing later. They were AS excited to eat the carrots as the Doritos. Seriously. I have dream children. And no allergies this year- thank you, Jesus!

Making short vowel words. I have these fun, and funky letters that I got online somewhere. I wish I could remember where and share it, cuz they were only like 6 bucks! But I can't remember. And these two cuties are the funniest!! That little boy at lunchtime once said, "When I grow up I'm going to be a pirate." He was TOTALLY serious. And then she said "You can't be a pirate anymore once you have a wife." Again- deadpan serious. So HE says, "Yes, I can. I'll just go out and get treasures on Thursdays." I think I'm gonna make that into a sign and hang it in my house.

Ladybug subitzing. Look at the dots on one side of  the ladybug and write the number on the other side. We practiced "look, write, count" to get used to looking and writing and then counting if we needed to double check.  We then made ladybug books with dots on each side to make a number sentence. I took pictures but think I deleted them. Maybe next time. It was a good hands-on activity using subitizing, missing addends, and adding. Plus fine motor skills and will look cute at open house! A win-win-win!

An oldie but a goodie. Nothing fancy. Just a spelling hunt. Having fun letter stickers makes all the difference. Maybe next time I'll call it "The Spelling Hunt" game just to jazz it up. And find some good hunting music. They'd eat it up.

By the way, if you're looking for a good fall candle- B&B Works has their candles on sale 2 for $20. And they're decent sized. Their new fall scents are awesome. "Pumpkin Caramel Latte"-it's a keeper. My daughter (7 year old) said "Mom, I wanna eat that candle."

 Glitter Words
[ - *Glitter Words*]

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Pumpkin song and video- pin it for a freebie!

Need something pumpkin related? Here's a cute little video from YouTube. I've been looking for some pumpkin related music that isn't scary or too Halloween-ish.  This is unique and cute- kind of... Indie-alternative meets the Monkeys. I'm putting it in my pumpkin unit that I spend a week on every year. It's Pumpkinpalooza!

Anyone who pins this and comments below telling me that you did, I'll give you a copy. It's geared toward ages k-2, mainly first grade. Remember to leave me your email address so I can send it to you!

 Do you use You Tube for anything? Join in this linky and tell us how you use it! It's a great tool, but has so much stuff to wade through, it's nice to make it easy for all of us to know what to look for!
Thanks for reading!
 Glitter Words
[ - *Glitter Words*]

Monday, September 9, 2013

10 Weeks Worth of Morning Work giveaway!

In the past, morning work has been the BANE of my existence. During my first year back in first grade 4 years ago (I shudder to think of it- forgive me, parents and students of that year) I think it took me about 3 months before I even gave them morning work, just because my head was up my...sleeve. Each year I got progressively better, and then after thinking all summer long about possibly doing a morning work cutesy theme, I came upon this post from Nancy at First Grade Wow. Sold. Count me in. Yes, please. Each day has a "theme" for lack of a better word. And it's FUN STUFF! Nancy gives her Thursday morning work away for free at her blog, but no other days, so I was sadly on my own to figure those out. Crap- I had to have an original thought.

So I've been working for a few weeks now, and here's what I've come up with:

So I'm organized, themed and ready to go for the next 10 weeks. Woohoo!!!And so far, I love it! It is SO NICE having mornings all ready to go.

For the next 24 hours, it's only $1 at TPT. And at TN, my whole store is 20% off. And enter to win it! It's my first rafflecopter. I hope I'm doing it right!

a Rafflecopter giveaway Thanks for entering and for reading!
  Glitter Words
 [ - *Glitter Words*]

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Tips for teaching writing and free posters

I'm redecorating my husband's classroom. I posted about it here on my other blog. Oh, by the way, I started a new blog. It's about classroom decorating, which is probably one of my favorite parts about teaching. 

Anyway, my husband had some little posters hanging up that listed the 6 traits of writing with a description. They had some graphics on them, but were plain white, and hung all haphazard, making them more of a distraction than an anchor chart. They're hard to see, but they're on the cabinets in the back. So I cleaned them up and gave them some graphics that matched his classroom decor. I didn't make the original poster, and it is not my original wording. It comes from 

This website is great! It has so much useful information and ideas for teaching writing. The teacher is now a high school teacher, but used to teach elementary or middle, so I think I'll be able to tweak alot of the stuff for the lower grades. Check it out if you need a few tips for teaching writing!


So here are my posters- they're free at TPT and TN.

 And by the way,if you become a follower of my Schoolroom Swag blog, leave me a comment with your email address and I'll send you something from my store for free!

Thanks for reading!
. Glitter Words
[ - *Glitter Words*]

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

A David idea for PBL and higher level thinking

Check out that David! Is he awesome or what!? A gift from a parent last year who made and painted him.

David's thinking "Let's go outside!"

David is thinking "This is awesome"! Pretty perceptive- he probably would think that!

I've seen so many cute projects with David. Which is understandable because who doesn't love David? He's the good and bad in all of us. Don't you just want to meet the real David Shannon? I bet he's super fun to hang out with. And maybe he's been to the dentist since he was little. Sorry. But the teeth...I know, I know...they're part of what makes him so lovable. 

So my twist on the David projects:
1. We had already read and brainstormed our classroom rules after reading David Goes to School.
2. Discuss the question (A little problem based learning for some upper level thinking!) "What would our classroom be like without rules"?
3. Organize thoughts based on what our classroom would 1)look like  2)smell like  3)sound like  4)feel like -the atmosphere
4. In one sentence (or more for those who are able) describe what our classroom would be like without rules
5. In a second sentence (or more), tell whether or not you would like to be in a classroom without rules, and why.
6. Make David's head
7. In the thought bubble, Write what DAVID would think about being in a classroom without rules. More upper level thinking! Yay!
I didn't give the kids any direction on how to make David, other than giving them paper to use for eyes and nose and mouth. They could also draw them on if they wanted. I think they would've looked more like David if I had, but I let them create him all on their own. I wanted it to be a little more student-directed. I got my templates for David's head and speech bubble from First Grade Wow. She does her project a little differently, but as always, it's awesome.
Thanks for reading!

 Glitter Words
[ - *Glitter Words*]

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Higher Level Thinking Questions and a freebie

Last year at my evaluation, my principal scored me a lower score on asking higher level questions. What???!!! Everything I do is not perfect all the time???!!!   I didn't necessarily agree (of course!) but what are you gonna do? Maybe he's even right!!! So I came up with the a way to help myself remember to ask those higher level questions. Here it is:

These are verbs used from Cognitive Rigor, a program that combines Bloom's Taxornomy with Webb's Depth of Knowledge. A matrix for Cognitive Rigor was created by Karin Hess and the phrase was coined by The Standards Company.

These are verbs I use from Bloom's taxonomy. Each level has it's own corresponding color.

 I laminated these cards (there's 4 to a page) and put them on a ring. I hang them from my teaching areas in the room so that I have easy access to the verbage and questions I need. I prettied them up with paisleys, but there is a black and white version included in my packet, as well.

They aren't free, only because it was a very slow and tedious process to find and type all of it. But they're only $2 at TPT and make my life so much easier, while making sure I am trying to elevate my teaching. Right now they're on sale for $1. I'll send a free one to the first two people to make a comment and pin it!

 Have a great weekend!
.. Glitter Words
[ - *Glitter Words*]

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Enchanted forest classroom tour


I decided to jump into this blog hop after reading some of the other's posts. I'm a day late to the party, but here are some pictures from my classroom. I decided to do an enchanted forest theme. I chose blue, green and purple for my main three colors. I think it turned out really good- full of detail but calming. I know that teaching in a private school gives me allowances that many of you are not able to partake in, but I really will be using everything in my classroom for a reason. I LOVE decorations, but I try really hard to make everything purposeful- not just decorations for decorations sake. So are some pictures. I'll let you be the judge!

The view from the back door. I was set up for Back to school night, so that table is starting to fill up with school supplies.

Looking toward the front of the room. I put out the green buckets for school supplies. Everything is labeled, and it all gets put away in a snap on the first day of school! I made myself a little "closet" in the upper left hand corner. I LOVE it. It doesn't look great, but much better than the mess of keeping it all open.
The clip chart- everybody got to choose which clip they wanted. Dollar store bugs and stickers jazzed up the clips! This is a link to the decoration unit at my store if you are interested.
A view from one of my doors. Makes my classroom look HUGE. My room is big, and I appreciate that. Although, I'm not sure if it's as big as it looks here. (:
This is the view from the front of the room looking toward the back.
We have dark brown curtains in our room for light and security. They're not hideous, but are a little obtrusive, so I tied them with ribbon and added some dollar store vine and butterflies.

The first day- we all went around and touched whatever we wanted!

The library- the tree will be full of leaves with author and book names. The mushroom spots will have our spelling words on them. I put packaging tape on the mushroom and then taped the white paper spots onto the packaging tape so that the paper doesn't rip, and the words can be taken off and on.

This is a cottage behind my small group area. A little sad, but I think you can pretty much tell it's a cottage. That white stuff is smoke coming out of the chimney. This was taken a few weeks before school started, so the rest of the room is pretty much a mess, as you can tell.

word wall- can you tell I love clothespins? They make everything easier! Our words are also written on leaves and will be clipped on.

This area I use for Social studies, Science, and Bible classes- also morning meeting.

Dollar store leaves and flowers! The "grass" metallic border is wrapping paper from of course, the Dollar store! Do you see the red ant? My daughters helped me glitter up the bugs this summer.

This is next to the tree by the library. It will be our anchor chart. We will use the cloud to record why we read to self, and each child will get a bird to write how they will behave during read to self. The owl is for me, the teacher, and will say what the teacher will be doing during read to self time.

Hobby Lobby clearance basket. I LOVE those baskets. Perfect timing in finding them. About 3 bucks a piece. I have only 3 tables full of kids this year, so the baskets hold markers and crayons for now. Glue and scissors are separate.

Also another anchor chart area. Same idea as Read to Self with the birds, but this time we will use frogs to write on.

Looking at the top of my door.

Inside a cubby!

Thank you for putting up with all my pictures and touring my classroom. To me, it really feels calm and full of detail. I hope you feel like your time was well spent checking it out! If you're interested in any of the paper products (nameplates, clip chart, calendar stuff, etc), my decoration unit is on TPT for $4.
 Glitter Words
[ - *Glitter Words*]