Monday, August 4, 2014

Animal Wax Museum Recap & Freebie

Here is my first look-back from my classroom this spring! 

Every year in second grade we complete Animal Research Projects.  Ever since I created my Animal Wax Museum Pack this is a breeze for my coworkers and I!

Our students researched, created dioramas, and made their costumes at home with their parents.  In school they wrote their final copies, created their posters, buttons, and animal crossing signs.

Let’s take a look!

wax final blog

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The great thing to remember is that this pack can easily be used for students in grades K-4.  The expectations and support would be different for each grade level but the resources from the pack could be used for all of those grade levels!   I have found some great examples on Instagram of friends using my pack!  I love to see how other teachers use the resources in their rooms Smile 

These are Caitlin’s pictures from Kindergarten Smiles.  She had her students work in groups!

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These are pictures from two second grade classrooms!  Excelling in Second used them for student-led conferences. 

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Here is a freebie to pair with my Animal Wax Museum Pack!


Included in this freebie is the final report pages with primary and regular lines & the animal fact book my students used as they walked around and learned about each others’ animals!  To download click on the picture or words below! 

animal  wax freebie

 Animal Wax Museum FREEBIE

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Life Update {Where I’ve Been, What I’m Doing, & Where I’m Going}

life updates

As I began writing this post I was in shock to see the date of my last post….

March 4th…. WOWZERS!

Where does the time go??

In March, I had just began two new projects (still in the works now) and came to the conclusion that I was spending way too much of my life blogging, creating, promoting, etc.

It literally was


I actually would feel guilty anytime I wasn’t working. 

I love sharing my ideas- things that I found to work and not work in the classroom. 

I love sharing my students’ successes. 

I love sharing my creations.

And I love that I am able to not only be a part of the learning in my classroom but also hundreds of classrooms around the world.

But I realized I needed to live my life too. 

We only have one and we need to make it a great one!

So this spring and summer I’ve done just that.  I have taken a break from creating and blogging to spend time with my family and friends.  I have taken three wonderful vacations--- Jamaica, Bethany Beach, & Costa Rica!

jamaica final

bethany beach final

costa rica final

I say wonderful time minus fracturing my nose in two places while surfing in Costa Rica!


I have read more books in the past month then I have probably read in

the past 5 years!

I was able to have my first bloggy meet-up with Jen from Teacher by the Beach.  She is such a sweetheart by the way!


While doing all of this, I have realized that I missed this part of my life too. 

Everything in moderation, right?

So in order to help myself get back on track and keep a balance--

I’ve made a tentative schedule so that I don’t give too much time to any one thing.

With all that I have shared so far, I also wanted to tell you all about my new position at my school.  I will be a .5 3rd grade math pullout teacher and a .5 STAT teacher.  In my county, a STAT teacher provides job-embedded professional development, instructional coaching, and any other support to help make teachers and students successful.  I am so excited about this new experience!

So, in the coming weeks expect to see me catching up by sharing some experiences from the past few months of school as well as some new products in the works Smile 

Keep an eye out!

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Organizing Reading Groups

This school year my school & entire county made major changes to our reading block.  In the past, we had homogenous classes and taught reading and writing as a whole group for the entire block.  But this year, we have heterogeneous classes and are expected to teach a short shared reading lesson and then pull small homogenous groups.

I have fallen in LOVE with teaching in small groups!

I know my students so much better in terms of their individual strengths and weaknesses.  Small groups allow me to meet the students’ needs much quicker and more thorough then ever before. 

While I pull small groups, my other students do Daily 5 rotations.  I do not run Daily 5 exactly how the sisters explain it in their book.  I had to make some changes to work for my class and my county’s curriculum. 
(A blog post will be coming soon on Daily 5 in my room!)

I have a horseshoe table that my school purchased for me this year.  This summer Lyndsey from A Year of Many FIrsts took a trip to Ikea, where we purchased the stools purchased below.  We don’t just use them at our small group table but around the room as well!


Pictured below are my small group signs.  These are always posted and help the kiddos keep track of which group they are in.

I used the full-page group signs for keeping track of my reading, phonics, and fluency groups. First, I print and laminate the signs. Since groups are flexible, I need to be able to adjust them frequently. I use dry erase markers to write on them! Three signs are for reading groups (in the first picture), one sign for my fluency group (in the second picture), and one sign for my phonics group(in the second picture). I use magnetic clips to keep them up and use clothespins to attach them to each other. I didn’t want to permanently attach them incase the number of groups I use changes.


Just about everyday I pull each of my small groups, typically for about 20-25 minutes.  Sometimes the times fluctuate depending on what the group is working on, if any students are absent, or if students are pulled by the speech teacher, special education teacher, occupational therapist, or ESOL teacher.  Below are my fluency and phonics groups.  These groups change often based on the skills being focused on or observations made. 

I meet with these groups in addition to small groups.  Not every day but when it fits in.  Sometimes these groups are given something specific to work on during a Daily 5 rotation.


When reading groups are not in session, this is what the ledge behind the horseshoe table looks like.  Pictured are my three reading group baskets, my notes binder, timer, and to the left my Buddy Binders which I frequently get the kiddos started on as they leave small group.  (This is an activity they can do during Daily 5.)


I used half-page group signs that I created.  I backed them on construction paper, laminated them, punched two holes, and used O-rings to attach to the baskets. 

While reading groups are in session, this is what the ledge behind the horseshoe table looks like.


I use the reading group baskets to organizing materials I will be using with each group in the next few days.  These help keep me sane and organized! 

Here’s a peek:

Currently my Turtles are using my Donavan’s Word Jar Book Companion Pack

They work on the comprehension questions & extension activities in this pack while applying skills & strategies.


Currently my Frogs are also using my Donavan’s Word Jar Book Companion Pack

They primarily work on the comprehension questions in this pack while applying skills & strategies.


Currently my Dragonflies are using my Print & Teach Pack.

This pack includes passages at three different levels- approaching, on-grade, and beyond.  My Dragonflies are currently working in the approaching level text.  This pack has been a huge help in my room since it includes all of the of the common core standards for informational text.  My Frogs and Turtles haven’t began to use this yet, but when they finish Donavan this is what we are moving into! 


The picture below shows the shelf underneath the ledge behind my horseshoe table.  This is where I store some of my go-to materials I use on a daily basis. 


The light blue bin is pictured below.  I use the markers and scissors when we build vocabulary on the sentence strips in the picture above.  The index cards I keep on hand incase I need to add any word cards to student’s rings of words to practice.  The red pens and erasable pens are for “special” days in small group.  They are a big deal for my kiddos so we use them sparingly as a motivator! The dry erase markers and erasers are used occasionally on laminated passages and frequently on white boards.


Below are the student supply bins on the shelf behind the horseshoe table.  Students know that these are their bins to go in whenever they need supplies in small group if I don’t put them out for them.



During small group I take frequent notes on the students’ strengths and weaknesses in fluency, applying strategies, word attack skills, writing, and following directions. 


I use quarter-page group signs for organizing independent work for my three reading groups. By having the groups turn in their work in separate bins, grading is much easier! I can grab a stack from a basket and have all of the same activity together. This makes it so convenient!


In small groups this year I have found myself using some packs I have previously created and also felt the need to create more to work on specific skills.  Pictured below are the resources I have used or have ready to use this year. 

resources i use

To download my reading group signs and for more information on how I use these in my room and resources I use in small groups,

Click here to download the freebie pack from my TPT Shop!

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Resources That Keep Us Afloat

I am linking up with my favorite girls from the collaborative blog,
Owl-ways Be Inspired to share with you the resources that keep us
sane in the classroom!  (We are doing this just in the nick of time
since the big 2 day sale is Thursday and Friday of this week!)
My brand new Print & Teach pack and has been so helpful in my classroom—almost on a daily basis!

This pack includes 6 leveled passages (approaching, on-grade level, beyond) with activities that provide practice for all 2nd and 3rd grade Common Core Standards. 
So far, I have been using these resources with my approaching kiddos while my other kiddos are working on some novel studies.  (They will be getting into this pack soon!)
Here are some action shots!
one tracy
two tracy
three tracy
five tracy
six tracy
So now I have to tell you about some other resources that literally keep me afloat in my classroom!
Have I told you that…
love steph 2
Her resources are seriously AMAZING!  They are used all of the time in my room.  My kiddos know that Stephanie is one smart lady!
Her Common Core passages packs leave me speechless! 
I use them for morning work very often!  I like to copy the passages and questions into packs.  The students keep them in a bag in their desk.  They work at their “own pace” based on my expectations.  By no means does that mean they sit there and doodle.  But every kiddo is so different!
I also use Stephanie’s fluency packs during Daily 5.  Certain kiddos know they need to go there each day for 5-10 minutes to practice with a buddy.  These are great!!

Have I told you that…
Her reading comprehension packs are FANTASTIC!!!
I use these for homework, morning work, whole group, and assessment.

Have I told you that…
Her Busy Teacher packs are great and quick!!!
Her newest creation I am psyched about!
I am getting ready to use this with my kiddos!
It is just what I need to review and provide extra practice for my kids!  It has all of the good stuff and no fluff!!
Make sure you get in all of your shopping this week because….
tpt salee
Rachel from The Tattooed Teaching made this CUTE button!
Here is a special treat! 
Leave a comment below with your email for a chance to win any product from my TPT shop! Every blogger in this linky is giving away a product too!
Use the links below to see what resources keep the other owls afloat!! There are some FABULOUS recommendations!