Friday, April 17, 2015

Five for Friday

Who's excited for Friday?? We just finished state testing today, so I definitely am! I cannot wait to be back to our normal routine next week. Here's 5 things from my week!
I started counting calories and watching what I eat last Saturday and have not cheated once! To celebrate this accomplishment, I purchased these pretties. :) Summer, here I come!

I am SOOO excited about this collaboration, y'all! I will be at Target as soon as they open Sunday!


Let me tell you. At first, I was a Go Noodle skeptic. I thought, "oh, that's just for younger grades. My fifth graders would think that's silly. Nope. They L.O.V.E. it! We are obsessed with Pop See Ko and I assure you, it will be stuck in your head  We did the calming, relaxation videos before tests and  they loved it! 


I finished this amazing book today. Go to your local bookstore and purchase it. I promise you'll be sucked in!

We had state testing this week and next week is already jam packed, but I'm trying to squeeze in some poetry before April is over with. I ordered this book from Scholastic and I love it! 

Link up with Doodle Bugs!

Thursday, April 16, 2015

New Novel Study! The Westing Game

Hey y'all! I just wanted to quickly share our new novel study in case you don't follow me on Instagram (msleslieann01). We are SO excited to dig into the mystery genre with this Newbery Winner. Be sure and check back for lots of fun activities! This might just be my kids' favorite novel so far!

Happy Thursday, friends! :)

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Book Share: A New Series

Happy Wednesday, y'all! I'm excited to announce a new weekly series on the blog called "Book Share". Each week, I'll post a few books that are current hits in my classroom. Sometimes there will be a theme among the books such as award winners, poetry books, "sporty" books, etc. And then sometimes (like today!) it'll be random titles that are popular among my kids.  If you have any requests on certain types of books, email me ( 
I LOVE to see other teacher's recommendations and what their kids are reading, so I thought this would be a good feature on the blog. You can link up below and share too! :)

Let's jump right in, shall we? Here are a few of the most popular books in my classroom right now. You can click the link below each book to find out more about the book. 

Hands down, the current hit right now in my room is The Crossover. After introducing this book to the class as my top favorite book of 2015 so far, it has been in high demand. There is a wait list a mile long and I cannot keep it on the shelf. I've had 3 boys go out and buy it on their own. This is a hardback book, therefore it's a little on the expensive side. For 3 boys to go out on their own and ask their parents to get the book is a huge deal in my classroom. That never happens! This book has motivated all my kids to get excited about reading, especially the boys! There's a reason why this book is the 2015 Newbery winner people. If it isn't in your classroom library, make it happen today! :) 

When I started talking about The One and Only Ivan, I was worried the size of the book would scare some of my kids away. My reluctant readers are always searching for the shortest book that would still be considered a chapter book. The One and Only Ivan is such an easy to read book though and the story is so great! Several kids have come to me when they finish it and are so mad that I didn't warn them about how sad it was! :) 

I started pushing Flora and Ulysses as soon as I finished it and didn't have any luck selling my kids on it. They were intrgued, but not enough to pick up the book and read it for themselves... until one of my very animated girls did a quick book share on it (let me know if you want me to post about quick shares....they are making all the difference in my classroom!). She completely sold the class on this extraordinary book. When she describe how Flora had to perform CPR on the squirrel, hands shot in the air requesting a copy. Love this funny story!

I'm sure your kids are fans of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid books. When the new one came out in November, we were so excited! Then we read it and needed something else similar to it to occupy our time until the next one is released. I introduced them to the Middle School series by James Patterson and they are hooked! Again, these are great for those reluctant boy readers. 

                                                     Middle School: Get Me out of Here!

James Patterson also wrote the I Funny series, which is my favorite by him. This book has great current references like Daniel Radcliffe appearing on Jimmy Kimmel. One of my kids pointed this out to me after we had watched this video when discussing alliteration. The books are a hit with my kids who like humorous fiction. 
I Funny: A Middle School Story

I have several kids that LOVE graphic novels. I'm not a huge fan of graphic novels, but I am a huge fan of any book that gets the kids excited about reading, so I'm loving the Nathan Hale Hazardous Tales series. I bought the Donor Party one and my homeroom is obsessed with it. We are super excited about this one that is about to be released. These are great books for your history peeps!
Nathan Hale's Hazardous Tales: Donner Dinner Party

I would love to know what books are popular in your classroom right now! Link up below and simply comment! :)

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Keeping Students on Task- Agenda Board

Hi friends! I wanted to share an idea that has worked REALLY well in my classroom this semester. It has made staying on task (for both me and my kids!) a whole lot easier. 
When you go to certain types of events like workshops, trainings, banquets, etc, you are sometimes given a program that has a list of what will take place. If you're like me, you constantly refer back to that list and mentally prepare for what's next and check off each thing. Or am I the only one who does that? ;) 

I put myself in my kids' shoes one day and thought, "I bet they are wondering what all we are going to do today." In fact, that was usually the first thing the kids asked me when they got to my room.

Over and over I would say, "You'll find out!" I noticed this was quickly becoming a problem and I set out to come up with a way to solve it. I noticed that I would make lists of things we had to do each day. Since we start out by emailing the Status of the Class, followed by a quick Book Share, I would jot down on a sticky note what we were doing after that. This helped make sure I didn't try and cram in too much or not have enough to stay busy. I realized by sharing this info with the kids, it would allow them to be in the know and I could map out our day! It has worked extremely well! The kids immediately look at it when they arrive in my class and get busy. I don't have to say anything!

Usually we check off each task as we complete them!

Happy Tuesday, y'all! 

Saturday, April 11, 2015

#wecantputbooksdown Instagram Giveaway!

I never thought I could meet anyone who loved books more than I do. Luckily, I have! In fact, I have met 8 other amazing teachers who have that real innate love for children's literature. It is goosebumps amazing. Every time I go onto instagram and see they have posted another book I jump for joy. I want you to feel that same JUMP for JOY feeling. We have teamed up to bring you AMAZING, PAGING TURNING ideas. 

Want to follow us, we will be using the hashtag #wecantputbooksdown 

 Are we friends on instagram? If not, you are missing out! Come find me at @msleslieann01

Are you ready to JUMP for JOY!??!?! "We" as in the group #wecantputbooksdown have decided to share our love of reading with all of our instagram followers. We are giving away a $115 BARNES and NOBLE gift card for you to spend on children's literature books for your classroom or home library. It gets better, starting TODAY thru April 18th, teachers get 25% off of all books at Barnes and Noble

In order to win, please do the following ON INSTAGRAM:
1. Follow All 9 of us @ramonarecommends @literacyforbigkids @brownbagteacher @nmotting @miss_griggs @smriggss @msleslieann01 @msaplusteacher @fourthnten
2. Like This Post
3. Comment below with your favorite read aloud
4. Winner will be announced on Monday, April 13th after 5pm PST. 

 Download this cute #wecantputbooksdown club poster. Mine going up on the wall, YESTERDAY! lol Comes in 4 different cuties :)

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Tracking AR (Accerlated Reader) Progress

I've been meaning to share this idea for ages and it's been sitting in iPhoto just patiently waiting on me. Do you have AR at your school? I've heard good and bad things about it, but I've always had it in my classroom. I mostly love it, but there are a few not so great side effects. It is a great motivator for some kids, while others are discouraged about a certain amount of points a book has. We've really concentrated on meeting our goals each nine weeks and we use this board (which is really the back of my door) to chart our progress. It might not be the "neatest" board in our classroom ( I should have created a cute title!), but it's one of the most interactive! I used Teacher Created Resources new Chalkboard Brights Collection to design the board and I'm loving it! :)

The program calculates each students' goal based on their STAR Reading score, so everyone's goal is different, but by using this method everyone is "equal". We track our goal percentage. You get on the board when you reach 50% (halfway) of your goal. We call this getting into the 50 Club! I announce goal percentages every other day and we move/add post its accordingly. Since I have 3 different classes, each class has a different color post it. We have a class competition to see which one has the most people in the 100% club, meaning they've met their goal. 
This method has worked REALLY well in my class and I love that it allows the kids to see their progress and motivate others. It's also a great way to keep them on track. It's easy to see that when progress reports go out they SHOULD be at least to 50% of their goal. 
Do you use AR at your school? I'd love to hear your thoughts on it and other ways to track students' progress! :)

Monday, April 6, 2015

Spring Break Challenge Recap

Hi friends! 
I posted this photo on Instagram two weeks ago before we got out for Spring Break last week. 
I wanted to wait to share until I got them back today. This is NOT my brilliant idea! It was 100% inspired by the incredibly talented Catherine from The Brown Bag Teacher. She created The Winter Break Challenge, which I discovered AFTER our break. I was so bummed that we weren't able to do it, so I made a Spring Break version. 

So what is it? Basically it's a series of fun "tasks" that require the kids to read each day. Tasks like reading with a flashlight and to a family member. Some require students to write something while others are simply reading. 

So how do you know they actually did it? Parents must sign off before the kids turn it in. 
So what are the prizes? Catherine had a great idea about creating Scholastic Gift Cards using your bonus points. I also gave away 2 small gift cards to Mcdonald's. 

My FAVORITE activity was writing to your favorite author. I'm in the process of mailing these now and I ended up having to email one and she's already emailed back!!! I cannot wait to share with the student tomorrow. BTW if Always, Abigail  and This Journal Belongs to Ratchet are popular in your classroom, the author is fabulous about quickly responding! :)

Out of 73 kids, I had 40 accept the challenge- I presented this challenge as optional. In fact, I went around to each child and asked them if they accepted the challenge. Around 45 accepted the challenge and today I had 23 turned in and several turning theirs in tomorrow. I consider that a win seeing how 23 eleven year olds made a conscious effort to read while on a break from school! :)