Thursday, August 28, 2014

Arizona Diversity

As I travel around Arizona, so many sites capture my eye.  The landscape is extremely diverse and showcases amazing scenery and western history.


Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Animal Structures 2nd Grade Style!

We spent some time this past week studying about animals and their body part structures.  We also discussed adaptations an animal must make to survive in their environment.  To close our lessons out this week, I placed a choice menu on the Interactive Smart Board and let the students choose a way to show their learning.  They chose some interesting ways to present their knowledge about an animal of their choice.  I had drawings, and books, and Venn diagrams... OH MY!

This photo is showing that a student chose to have a dialogue between two desert animals; a turtle and a fox.  They were questioning each other about their body parts.  He was not finished when I snapped this photo.  He then had dialogue on the other side of the paper between two other animals.  Fun!

These students are both working hard on their project.  As you can see, there was some pre-planning in their writing notebooks before they could begin the final project.  (The crayon boxes I found are awesome!  I have never had such organized crayon boxes before in my classroom.)

I had two students who needed to research their animals and were watching videos on National Geographic for Kids and reading facts on various kids' sites.  I had another student later in the class period need more information, so he also used the technology to do some research; about rattlesnakes and their bites!  Eeeeeks!

I LOVE this photo as it shows five students all working on their own projects, which are all completely different from each other.  One used a chameleon as her animal and used our reading story, The Mixed-Up Chameleon as a resource.  Others were creating books and drawing photos with their writing explanation on the back.

This student was busy drawing his chameleon before he wrote his facts on the back.

These two students are busy, busy, busy creating their projects...each of them different.  I really like their pre-planning notebook sitting next to them for a reference as they work.

This was a GREAT start to a new school year! Only three weeks have passed since we've started school and the students are jumping deep into a mini-PBL (project-based learning) with enthusiasm.  This is how we do it 2nd grade style!!

Saturday, August 23, 2014

See What I See

I LOVE to look around at the world and see things from a different perspective.  One thing about taking photographs is the ability to look at everyday common objects and capturing them how I seem them.  It's fun!  If you click on each photo, it will take you to my photography page so that you can see the photos without the watermarks on them.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Place Value

We are busy, busy, busy learning about Place Value this week in class.  We have looked at all different ways to make a number; standard form, written form, expanded form, and the value of digits.  We have been using this fantastic worksheet to practice writing our numbers that we generate with number cards (playing cards).  I do not know who created the worksheet, but if you are the author, please let me know so that I can give you credit for creating a fabulous math tool. 



We have started to read about Chameleons in class.  As we ended the day yesterday, I wanted to see what the students learned about chameleons, so I had them draw a picture showing a chameleon in its environment.  Some of the chameleons you will see are red, as we saw a video that showed how male chameleons will change color as they become aggressive toward each other.  Quite fascinating!  The kids LOVED when the two male chameleons challenged each other on a branch; one chameleon was red and one was orange.

Below is some of our artwork... see if you can spot the chameleon!  :)

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Finding Time to Read

We have been in school for a week and are getting into a routine!  We are beginning to learn how to do our classroom center time rotations.  We found a bit of time to read during this time of learning.  It is going to be GREAT! The students can grab a towel from my laundry basket and sit somewhere in the room to read.  They were able on this day to sit with a friend, but normally we will sit by ourselves and read silently.  The kids LOVE the towels and all the bright colors.  First come first serve as to which colors they use. 

Sunday, August 10, 2014

A Few Summer Photos

Finally, I have found some time to process and upload some of my photos that I took this summer while visiting family in New Hampshire.  I take photos of images that truly make me feel happy and joyful.  When I get a good feeling, then I try to capture the image as I see it and share it with you.  I do not spend any amount of time post processing my photos.  I want you to see what I saw the first time.  I try to set my camera in manual mode to capture the image the first time.  I have added a bit of contrast to some photos, but have not delved into any Photoshop programs at this point.  Some day I may change my mind, but right now I like what I see and have captured.

I have chosen three of my photos to put on this blog post, but you can see more of them by clicking on this link.

Lily Garden
Luna Moth

The View Out


Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Classroom... Just About Ready!!

I am making some headway in my classroom and am almost ready for 23 (that many as of today) students to walk through my doors.  I want to share my before and after classroom photos with you as I organized and re-organized this week. 
I was hired late into the school year, last year, so didn't take the time to clean out cupboards and put things on my wall in a rush.  This time around, I was able to clean all my cupboards and cabinets out, rearrange furniture, remove what wouldn't work in my room with my plans, and create sections and stations in the classroom that will work with Daily 5 structure.

I am SUPER excited about my classroom arrangement and it will continue to evolve and change as I build up my center rotations.
First, I would like to share my cabinet I bought at Goodwill on Teacher Discount Day.  For $29.00, I found this gem of a cabinet and my husband helped cut the top off it and get a plywood top put on it.  Then, I spray painted the cabinet (not the best paint job, but it works!).  The cabinet is incredibly heavy, with some great old wood.  It will not be moved too many times!  I am currently using it to hold many, many games.

My classroom when I walked in near the end of July.... YIKES!

After a lot of work and many, many days of arranging and re-arranging, purging and throwing of things (donated to Goodwill that which I couldn't use), here's what I finally have settled on for classroom organization... for now.
My workspace


The front of the room with the student tables.

Word Wall with Daily 5 Word Work tubs below, along with a few other things.  The top of the shelves are empty... amazing!... but will surely gain some items shortly.
New to my classroom this year.. a writing center.  I had to sacrifice some furniture to make it work, but I think it is GREAT and can't wait to see students busy, busy, busy at the table there.

My one section that is still being organized.. my reading area.  I have these wonderful baskets to hold the books for the students when they work on Reading to Self during their Daily 5 rotation.  I am just waiting for a finalized list of students to finish the baskets.  You can also see my library books that need to go on shelving in the space behind them.  I have yet to get any shelving.... must do that this weekend and get my corner organized!

There are other pieces and parts to my classroom I didn't share, but am just as pleased with what I have accomplished so far.  Let the school year begin!


Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Summer Reading

I LOVE to read!  During the summer I read quite a few books, but two of them were my absolute favorite. 
The first book, to further aid me in my classroom and literacy for the students, is the Daily 5, The (Second Edition): Fostering Literacy in the Elementary Grades by Gail Boushey and Joan Moser.  Let the literacy learning begin!
The other book, just for my pleasure, is Written in My Own Heart's Blood by Diana Gabaldon.  This book has 848 pages... GASP!  Lots and lots of Revolutionary War history woven into the story... captivating!
What book did you read this summer that was your most favorite? 

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Language Arts Graphic Organizers

It's summer!  That means swimming, sunscreen, watermelon, and hot dogs.  Yet, I still find myself entrenched into teaching mode, and I am preparing worksheets for next school year.  I really want to have some worksheets, not only created by me, but ones that will be FABULOUS to look at and EASY to use for the kids.

So, I started to create worksheets for reading.  I have only created two so far, but will continue to add to them as the summer progresses.

I am really super-excited about this vocabulary worksheet!

My students really struggle with reading comprehension (as many are well-below the 2nd grade level).  I want to help them make the text-to-self connection in a simple, straightforward way.

2nd grade students must be able to ask and answer questions about the 5 W's (Who, What, Where, When, and Why and How) in order to demonstrate meaning of a text.  I created this worksheet to help them with that task.   I am LOVING the thought bubbles!!


My students must also be able to describe the structure of a story through the progression of Beginning, Middle, and End.  I created this organizer to help them with this task.  Still using the thought bubbles, which they will use to draw their thoughts.

I wanted a quick Book Response the students could do on their own and have them accountable for the AR book they are reading.  I had created this response sheet a while ago and found it in my files.


I really wanted to have an alphabetical order and dictionary worksheet that most students could complete on their own during their ELA center time.  I revamped some old worksheets I had quickly created to make them more functional and a bit more appealing to the eye.