Thursday, August 30, 2012

We've Got Big Plans!

Today was the fourth day of school, and I feel like we're off to a great start! One of my favorite activities we did as a homeroom class was determine our "big plans" for fourth grade, the rest of our school careers, and adulthood. First, we read Big Plans by Bob Shea. The story itself is a fast read, but it's full of subtle humor, silly scenarios, and unique illustrations that the students loved. Although the book is all about how a young boy rises to power because of his "big plans," the conclusion is open-ended; the author never reveals what the his "big plans" actually are!

After the read aloud, I asked my students what their "big plans" are. It must have been a long summer because it took a while for even one hand to go up! Once one or two students finally chimed in with what they want to be when they grow up, the others were eager to share. We then discussed our goals for fourth grade and how reaching them will eventually help us achieve our goals for adulthood. It was the perfect time to get our "big plans" down on paper! Here's a look at the foldables we created:

  We made big plans for fourth grade, our school career, and adulthood!

Curious to see what some of the "big plans" were?

These will mean more than just a hallway display. On the last week of school, the students will get their foldables back. I'll have them reflect on their fourth grade year and ask themselves if their "big plans" are being executed. Now if only I can file them away in a spot where they won't get lost in the abyss... staying organized is one of my "big plans!"

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Room 314 is Ready to Rock!

It's back to school time for teachers! (I'm sure you've noticed.) This past week, we had our staff retreat. It was truly a blast. It's always exciting to see all my coworkers again after a long break. Everyone looked so refreshed and relaxed, and the day was filled with laughs. Here is my favorite photo from the retreat:

Random and strange... just how I like it. When I wasn't busy taking photos of chicken, I worked tirelessly in my room. I can proudly say that it's ready! The only things missing now are the fourth graders! I probably could have finished up the room in 2 days, but it took me 5 days total since I love to socialize and spend way too much time on things that should take 5 minutes. I'm linking up with Beg, Borrow, Steal to share pics!

Front of the room

The bulletin board version of my Revising vs. Editing Venn Diagram

Read-aloud spot & writing process wall

After taking this picture, I labeled each notebook paper as a different step in the writing process (Step 1: Plan, Step 2: Draft, etc.)

Writer of the Week! Thanks, Pinterest!

Objectives, spelling words chart, & "razzle dazzle" word wall

I'm hoping the red X over each worn out word will send a strong message!

Rules, rewards, and consequences... what the first days of school are all about!

I hope everyone has a fabulous first week of school! For those of you who have already started, I hope it's going well and you still have your voice!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Back to School Bucket Filling

Even though our fourth graders switch classes and have four different teachers, our team likes to spend the first couple days of school with our homerooms. It gives us time to teach rules and procedures, help get them organized, build a classroom community, and motivate them to be the best student they can be! Last year, I found my absolute favorite book to read on the first day of school: Have You Filled a Bucket Today? by Carol McCloud. It will be my favorite for years and years to come. I love it because it's a simple concept with a really deep meaning and a lifelong lesson!

This book is wildly popular with elementary school teachers, but I've had a tricky time finding bucket filling-themed activities that are more appropriate for the upper grades. So, I created a few! My favorite part about these 3 activities (besides encouraging bucket filling, of course) is that they all entail WRITING! Who would have guessed it?

The first activity in the 3-pack, "Ways I Can Be a Bucket Filler," can also turn into a small group activity. Last year, I had my students write their best bucket filling ideas on star die-cuts, and we made a really fun hallway display...

I am so giddy all of a sudden... it's almost time to meet a brand new group of fourth graders! I sincerely hope that other teachers out there can benefit from these activities to start the school year off right. Bucket fillers unite! What is your favorite back to school read-aloud?

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Linky & Printables

I love Oh Boy 4th Grade so much that I don't even mind, as Farley puts it, "the lack of sentence structure!" I read her blog tonight and felt compelled to join the "Currently" linky party:

I also want to share some back-to-school printables for all you hardworking writing teachers out there! They've been uploaded to my TpT Store, but I have yet to post them to the blog!

I'm proud of this one: Revising vs. Editing. I've learned that acknowledging them as two different steps of the writing process really is important if you want your students' writing to grow. Revising is typically more challenging for young writers since it can be so vague at first, but it's so worth all the hard work! I will board that soapbox another day. Anyway, we have a couple chants that go along with this printable:

Teacher: "Revising is..."
Students: "...making it SOUND better!" *make a hearing gesture*


Teacher: "Editing is..."
Students: "Making it LOOK better!" *make hand binoculars*

Then, I'll throw examples at them. I'll ask, "If I read my first draft aloud to you, would you be able to hear that the word "august" needs to be capitalized?" etc. The possibilities are endless...

My other printable is a FREEBIE that will help ease the pain when your students hear the tragic news: "Said is DEAD!"  We had so much fun with this motto/theme last year, and I can't wait to do it all over again with our new group!

I hope I've given you a little inspiration for a brand new school year! May your workroom be stocked and your coffee be caffeinated!