Wednesday, December 31, 2014

New Year, New Goals

Looking back on the year that has just passed is always an interesting activity. Quite a lot has changed in my life during 2014.

First of all, I had a second daughter at the end of 2013 and so our entire year was filled with baby things, milestones and learning to be a family of 4.

I participated in two great book studies this year that have really helped me redefine the type of classroom I want. Leading the book study for 100 Minutes and posting about Guided Math for the second time have made me into a workshop teacher and centred my instruction around the needs of my students. 

One of the most amazing, and unexpected things that came out of the 100 Minutes book study was that I "met" Erin from A Piece of the Apple and we became instant BFF's. After the book study ended Erin invited me to be a part of a FB Challenge Group for health and fitness. I've been eating clean(er) for a few years now and and working towards getting fit but a few things like getting pregnant and being on mat leave with a demanding baby seemed to be getting in the way! I lost all of the baby weight (and more) after I gave birth to my first daughter so I knew I could do it again. Erin's challenge group was just going to be an extra little push. 

Here we are 6 months later and the ladies in that challenge group are some of my closest friends…even though we have never met!

Getting into fitness and clean eating has changed my life, so much so that I became a Beachbody Coach in the summer. One of my resolutions for 2015 is to re-dedicate myself to my own fitness and nutrition as well as work hard to help others reach their goals too.

I am excited about this coming year. Very excited.

Here are the goals I have set for myself.

 Hoping you have a wonderful New Years!
See you in 2015.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Holiday Writing Prompts- FREEBIE

Have you seen the ridiculously cute Christmas clipart that Krista Wallden from Creative Clips is offering for FREE in her store?

It's amazing, gorgeous and so cuuuuute!!

Just looking at it inspired me to create this quick freebie for you all to enjoy.

I'm also working on a fun new product for symmetry and the properties of 2D shapes…I'm hoping it'll be up in the next few days.

One week left till the holidays friends….we can do this!!

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

I had...

I had a great blog post planned….

I had a great lesson idea…

I had a great TPT product idea…

I have 2 kids with the flu…. 


Flu season is here.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Layering my Classroom (And the Cybersale!!)

I think my love of 100 Minutes has been well documented since I started reading it this past summer…but today I want to talk about how I think it has helped me build in my classroom routines in my language program and add layers to my teaching.

Side note: 
This is a wordy and lengthy post…I apologize! But if you hang in there I have a whole list of must-have products from TPT sellers towards the end. 

I have already struggled with wanting to start EVERYTHING all at the same time and have my full program up and running. Lisa Donohue talked a lot about the importance of deepening your routines and taking students farther by adding on to previously existing structures and routines. I have found that thinking about my program in this way has really helped me to find the perfect time add a new layer to our existing literacy routines and provide my students opportunities to deepen their understanding of the concepts we are studying. 

Adding layers has been an especially important part to my class' success this year has I have a VERY wide range of abilities and quite a few ELL's and students working below grade level. Building in layers of routines to help deepen my program has really helped me to differentiate and work towards meeting all my students needs. It has been especially helpful as 6 students from my class receive ESL support three out of 5 days…that's a 1/3 of my class!! Then I have 3 other students who receive Spec Ed support everyday and 1 student who goes to a math group twice a week. 

My room is a constant revolving door. 

This has made scheduling guided lessons somewhat difficult but not impossible. Lisa Donohue wrote about intentional sequencing in her book 100 Minutes and it made so much sense to me…it was definitely the missing piece to the puzzle of my literacy program. 

It isn't perfect yet (and probably won't be) but it has helped me to see how to schedule our literacy block and why I should be putting  rotations in a certain order. 

So this is how I plan for guided reading and our literacy rotations. As you can see some of the boxes have X's in them. This is when my ELL's are receiving support and are not in the class with us. As  I said it isn't perfect yet. We have yet to build in Reading Response as a rotation (the goal for next week!) and I haven't yet met with groups for a Writing Conference. 
Always so much to do. 

This is our rotation board. Since it's new to me this year it's work in progress. 
If you like it you can find it here in my TPT store. 

Right now I have been using post-it notes to provide instructions to my students for each of their rotations. I am lucky this year that I have a full time educational assistant in my room to work with one of my students who needs 1:1 support. She has wonderfully taken the initiative to also work with three other students who need 1:1 support for most of their work. I often assign that group extra guided reading with her so that they are being taught in a guided group everyday…plus the time they are being pulled for ELL or Spec Ed support. 

Sometimes the scheduling makes my head spin. 

Here's a closer look at my Guided Reading Literacy Group Labels.

This is also the first year that I have been happy with how my guided reading program is running and I must admit guided reading has been a necessity in my class. I am VERY much behind in my literacy teaching due to the fact that some many of my students have so many different needs. Guided reading has been the key to this problem as I now teach all the components of my reading program in small groups. 

We save whole group time for interactive read alouds, chapter books, building on our routines and scaffolding our writing instruction. In the past I have focused most of my writing instruction on the text forms but this year it just wasn't feeling right so instead I have switched to a much freer writing approach, allowing my students to choose the majority of their own writing topics and forms. We are focusing on the writing process and how to edit and revise. 

Isn't it amazing how much your writing can change from year to year?

So now on to the good stuff…! 

What are some TPT products that I just can't live without?

Well, I'm glad you asked, especially since the Cybersale is on tomorrow. 

This amazing writing prompt product from Irene Hines has been the cornerstone for my weekly journal writing program. 

I just love it.

The Fluency Strip pack from The Moffat Girls has really helped my students who are ELL's and working below grade level to build on their fluency skills AND they love tracking their progress through the sets. 

I can not even tell you how much I LOVE The Weekly Word Wizard sets from SunnyDays. Since Grade 3 is a testing year in Ontario this product provides my students with constant practice of valuable grammar and vocabulary skills. 
I am loving it!!
The next few sets are already in my cart for tomorrow.

This next product is a MUST HAVE for anyone doing guided reading in their class. It has saved me sooooo much time when creating my guided lessons and helps to provide a consistent checking system of the skills we have already covered and need to review. Head over to Angeline Stewart's store to check it out. 

So there you have it…

My literacy program in a nutshell. I hope you get some good deals tomorrow and I'd love to hear about any suggestions you have for literacy products from your own TPT store or others that you think might benefit my students. 

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Literacy Workshop…Revisiting 100 Minutes

In the past few years a few things have 
totally changed the way I teach. 
Have changed the teacher I am.
Have changed the way I view my profession.

The first was switching from teaching Grades 7 & 8 rotary to teaching Grades 3 and 4 core.
I used to teach two classes English, History and Geography on a rotary schedule where my students switched classes every 40 minutes.

I now teach one class of students everything and at most they only leave the room for 40 minutes a day. 
And it's so much better. 
I know my students better.
I integrate my content more effectively.
I like it better.

The second major shift was when I read Guided Math by Laney Sammons for an online book study with Brenda from Primary Inspired

Thinking about how to differentiate my teaching and teach in a guided setting really helped me to understand how I could help each of my students to achieve success. 

Then this past summer I read 100 Minutes by Lisa Donohue…and wow, did that ever change my teaching. Coming from the intermediate grades I really had no idea about guided reading. How to do it, what it was, how to plan for it, etc. I read The Daily 5 that first summer in an attempt to be ready to teach Grade 4 and have a guided reading program. 
However, I can't say that it really helped me that much. 
It was just too much to wrap my head around.
Too many rotations.
Too many options and choices.

A few years later I read Guiding Readers by Lori Jameson-Rog and lead a book study here on my blog and it really helped me to understand what guided reading was and how it could be used to help work with my students at their instructional reading level. But a few maternity leaves have popped up in the meantime and I just wasn't able to get a successful program up and running.

Until now!

I am pretty proud of my guided reading program even though it is still in the early stages I can see where I am heading with it and I know that it is going to be very beneficial to the students in my class. Especially since this year the reading levels of my students range from D to U!
Yes, in one Grade 3 class. 

The biggest takeaway from 100 Minutes for me was the idea of "intentional sequencing". It just made so much sense and really made all the difference for me with having a literacy workshop program that was up and running the way I wanted it for me.

That doesn't mean it's all gone smoothly by any means…
In my class there are 6 students who receive ESL support 3 days a week during my literacy block so that has made scheduling my guided reading and writing groups somewhat tricky. 

I would recommend 100 Minutes to anyone that is interested in having a workshop style program for their literacy classroom and is unsure of how they might go about organizing the time.

Click here to see how 100 Minutes has helped me layer my classroom and my MUST HAVE products from TPT for my literacy program. 

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Remembrance Day Freebie

I think that Remembrance Day is one of the most important topics we have the opportunity to talk to our students about. 

So much of our life is possible because of the sacrifices of the past.
So much needs to be remembered so that the past will not be repeated.

Every year I dedicate a big chunk of time talking about the sacrifices made by the soldiers in our armed forces, the meaning of the poppy, reading picture books and watching videos. I want my students to understand how much they have to be thankful for because of those who dedicated their life to serving our country.

In the past my students have written letters to veterans thanking them for their service and have spent time talking with members of the armed forces to learn more about their careers.

To help with the reflections I want my students to participate in I have create a few worksheets/printables that can be used in any class for a variety of settings. 

Click on the image above to go to my TPT store and grab a copy. 

As we read through the publications sent to us by Veteran's Affairs my students took the time to create a thought page of all the words, ideas and questions that came to mind as they read. Each time we watched a video or read a picture book over the past few days they added more ideas to their thought page.

On Monday and Tuesday (Remembrance Day here in Canada) I will have my students complete a reflection that explains why they wear a poppy and a recipe for peace. I'm hoping that they are able to grasp the complex nature of this topic and understand the importance of giving thanks to our service men and women.

Looking to the future I am hoping that once again my class will be interested in writing letters to the veterans in order to fully express their thanks.

I'd love for you to head over to my TPT store and grab a copy if you think it would be useful in your class. 

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Balancing Teaching and Being a Mom

The end of October marks two full months that I have been back to work full time since having my second child one year ago. My baby girl will be one year old in a few weeks and it's hard to remember life without her.

There have been a lot of challenges in going back to work with two kids and I can honestly say it's been stressful at times.

My house is always a mess.

I don't always cook the way I want to.

My pile of marking grows daily…and I rarely make it a priority.

There are days when I am planning my lessons period to period.

Workouts have dropped from 7 days a week to maybe 4 days a week…if I am lucky.

I can't remember the last time I got my hair cut.

Thank god for coffee. 


I wouldn't change a thing. I know I am a better mom when I am back to work. I love teaching. I love my class. I love constantly learning about teaching.

I am also a better teacher because I am a mom. I have more patience. I think more about how I would want my child to be treated. I am more fun and less focused on just the curriculum

It'll get easier. 
This I know. 

But right now?

Wow, finding balance is tricky. 

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Skip Counting Task Cards- A New Product!

This year I have Guided Math fully up and running in my class and I must say that I am loving it. In the past I tried to jump in too fast and then it all fell apart but not this year, we have been going slow. Mixing in whole class lessons, math journal work, and the three-part lesson.

Right now we are working on skip counting and data management...I like to do two strands of math at the same time. It helps the students connect patterns between the types of math.
But anyway...I offered a skip counting freebie last week as part of the Halloween Blog Hop I participated in and now I have the full product for you.

I think if you liked the freebie than you are going to LOVE these skip counting task cards.

This pack contains 65 task cards that can be used in a variety of ways in your math class.
I plan to use them as Must Do's during my Guided Math rotations and for assessment during Math Conferences.

I have included a recording sheet so your students can track the numbers they are counting with and begin to see patterns in their skip counting.

Communication in math is one of my favourite things to teach so I have also created 2 different reflection sheets that students can use to help explain their understanding and thinking about skip counting. 

I hope you find these useful in your class.
If there is a number that your curriculum dictates that you teach for skip counting and it's not included in the package, please email me and we can see if we can work something out!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Happy Halloween - Blog Hop!!

I love fall!
The leaves change colour. The air gets crisp.
It's Thanksgiving (for us Canadians) and Halloween all in the same month.

I've gotten together with some Canadian blogging friends to celebrate Halloween by having a blog hop and giveaway. Each blog is posting about their favourite way to celebrate Halloween in their class, sharing some freebies and we've gotten together to offer you the chance to win a TPT gift card.

How happy of a Halloween is that?
Pretty awesome.

To be honest, I can't say that I have a favourite way to celebrate Halloween but in the past I have done haunted house glyphs, watch a spooky movie, and done other art activities.

This year my class is reading Bunnicula leading up to Halloween and I am hoping to get some small pumpkins we can paint closer to the holiday. 
Fingers crossed.

As for my freebie, I'd love for you to head over to my TPT store to check out my Skip Counting by 5's Task Card FREEBIE.

I'm planning on extending this freebie into a full product with a variety of skip counting task look for that soon in my TPT store. 

Happy Halloween!!

P.S. The blog hop doesn't officially start until Oct 17th...I just wanted to share with you all a little early. So come back on the 17th to check out the other blogs and grab some great freebies. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Saturday, October 11, 2014

It's a SALE! It's a SALE!

Happy Thanksgiving!!
Yes, that's right here in Canada we celebrate Thanksgiving in October.

Crazy Canadians.

Since we wanted to invite all our American and world-wide teacher friends to celebrate with us I have joined up with OVER 30 Canadian blogger/TPT sellers to throw a Thanksgiving sale.

That's right. 
A sale.
Who doesn't love a sale?

If you head on over to my store you will find everything listed for 20% off, including my newest product- Guided Math Group Labels and Famous Mathematician Class Book, on Sunday, October 12th and Monday, October 13th.

Click on the buttons below to check out all the other Canadian sellers that will be hosting a sale as well. 

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