Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Sprinkle Inspiration

I love the fact that I've had this blog for a few years now, and 90% of my posts have been written in the months of June, July, and August! What does that tell you about how busy we are as teachers?! Summer break is surely a well-deserved gift that bestows upon us the 3 Rs: relaxation, refreshment, and reflection. (I disregarded "rest" because I have a 2 year old son, and like many other teacher-moms, that "R" has been R-emoved from my life for now and the foreseeable future!) Anyway, as I spend some time reflecting this summer, it becomes clearer and clearer to me how ALL children, regardless of their home/family life, could benefit from more personal guidance and character education. Sometimes I have to think back to myself as a fourth grader to truly remember just how impressionable, yet insightful, they are at that age. They also thrive so much on structure and appreciate little classroom traditions that their teacher has in place just for them. I thought a sweet way to address both needs would be to post a different "Quote of the Week" in the same spot in my classroom this year. As I change it out each Monday morning, I want the words of someone else other than just me to motivate them. I want my students to do some reflecting of their own by simply looking in the same spot each Monday for a new, positive, thought-provoking message and be able to chew on it throughout the week and (hopefully) beyond. As I assembled my collection of quotes, I was sure to work in the ones that have always resonated with me, like my favorite teaching mantra:


...as well as a few words of wisdom that were quoted by current, recognizable-to-anyone role models. I even worked in Taylor Swift! Michael Jordan, Maya Angelou, Mother Teresa, Nelson Mandela, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Abraham Lincoln are just a few of the greats that are included. Of course, I also had to throw in a quote that inspires the art of WRITING!

So, whether it's a "Quote of the Week," a set of writing nudges, decor for a peaceful classroom environment, or just a pick-me-up for you to keep at your own desk, I hope that you can use these posters, too, to sprinkle some inspiration into your classroom in the upcoming school year. Just be sure to get in your 3 Rs (or if you're lucky, all 4) first!


CLICK HERE to download all 28 posters!

If you've made it all the way to the end of this post, please build on the inspiration by leaving a comment with YOUR favorite quote! Spread joy!



Saturday, March 19, 2016

Writing at Home

I'm very blessed to teach at a school where I get asked by parents, "What can I do to help him/her at home?" In regards to writing, this question is not always easy to answer. There are so many areas under the writing "umbrella" that it can get overwhelming thinking of just one place to start. Spelling? Grammar? Test practice? Starting sentences that don't begin with the word 'I'?" Parents don't need as much guidance from teachers on how to assist their children with more concrete concepts (math problem solving, memorizing, classifying, etc.) Writing is so much more broad and intricate. However, it is our responsibility to be able to answer questions such as these and provide a little inspiration!

Over the years, I've heard positive feedback on a handful of specific, effective activities that parents can do with their fourth graders (or any intermediate-grade child, really) at home. It was difficult to be concise enough to fit all my favorites onto one page, but I managed to do it!


CLICK HERE for the FREEBIE!

The most important thing to tell parents is that children should have daily opportunities to write, and writing should not stop when the school day stops. Now with this list in hand, we can give them a starting point to make that happen! Enjoy!



Thursday, July 30, 2015

TpT Sale-ing

How is August only two days away?! In the spirit of back-to-school, of course I had to join in the upcoming Teachers Pay Teachers sitewide sale!


CLICK HERE to see my whole store for 20% off August 3-4!

To sweeten the deal, once I the blog reaches 300 followers, I think it's time for some FREEBIES! Happy (almost) August!








Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Word Choice Rejoice!

Word choice is a delicate, yet important thing in any piece of writing. It makes our writing colorful! I've gone on about "shades of meaning" in a previous post. I've found that my students are eager to use "razzle dazzle words" in their writing, but they need to actually understand the new words they choose to use before using them! Fourth graders also tend to focus more on sounding "fancy" than specific, and this is one of the habits I hope to change in my incoming group of fourth graders. With these goals in mind, I created a new tool for my writing traits toolbox:


CLICK HERE to download it from my TpT Store!

I hope this little activity will encourage our budding writers to build vocabulary, consider shades of meaning, and ultimately enhance word choice in their own writing! 


Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Transitions Are Like Traffic Signals

You know how ideas just come to you sometimes? This is one of the most exciting things that can happen inside a "teacher brain," and I imagine it's not much different for our students! The other day, I was reflecting on one of the most challenging writing objectives that my students struggle with year after year: transition words! (The proof is in the pudding, as you can see a prior blogpost!) I was trying to think of a good metaphor for transitions; one that my students could relate to. 

Transitions are like... dogs? 
No. 

Rainstorms? 
No.

Hitting your head against the wall repeatedly?
Although some might feel differently, no.

Then it hit me: "Transitions words are like traffic signals; they are essential to keeping a smooth 'flow!' Without appropriate transitions, the reader may get lost, lose interest, or simply CRASH into confusion before reaching their destination (the end of the story)!"

I envisioned reenacting this comparison with some of my son's toy cars to my class, a new anchor chart, and of course, new activities! Of course, I had to spread the wealth.


CLICK HERE to download it on TpT!

In addition to building my students' confidence with using natural transitions in their own writing, I know these task cards will also serve for great test prep! I hope this activity also helps YOUR students write stories that their readers can "navigate" through easily! Just watch out for those speed bumps! (I haven't yet figured out how to work that one into the metaphor...)



Monday, June 29, 2015

Back to School Bundle!

In addition to the few beginning-of-year resources I have in my TpT Store, I needed to make a few more things for this upcoming year. I thought, "Why not roll everything into one back-to-school 'bundle' so other teachers can load up?" (Somehow I keep seeing and hearing the word "bundle" everywhere... why is it such a buzzword right now?) So, that's exactly what I did!


CLICK HERE to check it out!

In addition to the tried-and-true icebreaker activities, the bundle includes a couple forms to help get you organized at the start of the year. (If you're like me, the beginning of the year is when you are MOST organized! It's a great feeling that may not last too long!) One of those forms is my "Parent Contact Quick Sheet."



I know there are a lot of these parent contact sheets already out there, but I wanted mine to include the parents' preferred method of contact. Are they married to their email? Are they always on-the-go and attached to their cell phone? Or is the home phone number a sure way to get in touch? One of my goals this year is to communicate with parents in a manner that is most convenient for them. Of course, sometimes a mid-day call on the cell phone is necessary, but how nice would it be to follow an "at-a-glance" guide reminding me how each parent prefers to hear from me? This will be a great start to building a positive rapport. 


Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Talk About 'Em Tuesday!

I'm linking up with Little Lovely Leaders to celebrate and promote fantastic small businesses!



I dedicate this "Talk About 'Em Tuesday" to a very special fourth grade teacher! After harassing asking her to start putting her (good as gold) resources on Teachers Pay Teachers, my good friend, Elissa, has finally launched her own TpT Store:


Elissa has activities for all subjects; ranging from themed print-outs ("Franken-fractions," colorful birthday certificates, etc.) to hard-to-find fourth grade reading resources (1st vs. 3rd person narrator, anyone?) Although she is super creative in making all of her products beautiful, you will find that the content and "meat" of all her instructional materials is truly the best part! She has several freebies, and everything else is priced very reasonably! I hope you keep Feeling Fab in Fourth in mind as you stock up on teaching goodies this summer!