Monday, July 27, 2015

Preparing for the first week of 5th grade

Summer is almost over. What?!?! I got out in mid May and go back next Thursday, so I know for some of you summer is very much still happening, but for me it is coming to an end! I'm starting to think about how the first week of 5th grade is going to look in my class. The kids come back on a Wednesday, so I'll only have 3 days to plan out. The next week we start our first novel and regular week. 
Like I've said before, I use my planner from April to roughly map out the school year. 
Anytime the kids aren't going to be there, I highlight in green. This way I can see exactly how much time I have to teach things before we assess them. I also use this planner to roughly plan out what is being taught on what days. This is NOT my lesson planner. I use another planner for that. I also write in major testing windows like the STAR test. 

So, what does those first three days look like? 
My biggest tip (and I'm by no means perfect at this!) is to not over plan! I have a few back up activities that are good for pulling out if needed, but I try not to plan too many must do activities because the schedule is always changing those first few days (or at least this has been my experience the past two years). This is really different from when I taught first grade. I remember the first few days of school in 1st... I was always running out of things for the kids to do while we were doing sight word testing and other benchmark assessments. Having the kids for only a certain amount of time means you can get off track quickly! I'm going to try really hard this time to keep all of my classes on the same page for the first week. That's easier when our actual routine begins, but the first week is difficult not to have some classes ahead or behind of the others. 

Let's talk each individual day! I LOVE starting back right in the middle of the week. If we start back on Monday, I feel like we have too much time to do beginning of the year activities, but not enough time to begin a full, regular weekly routine. What day of the week do you start back on?

Day One

So the first day is busy, busy, busy! The very first thing we do is go over the class syllabus so the kids (and parents!) know what is expected of them. I have the kids take this home and get their parents to sign it. The kids keep it in their binder for the entire year. If you want to see my syllabus, let me know!

The first 'activity' we do is my Faces of Fifth self portrait activity. I remember worrying about if this was too young for fifth graders because I LOVED doing it with first graders. It's one of my favorite activities. And guess what? It's not!! Fifth graders are still kids too and they love to do fun things like this! You can grab a free copy of the template here

Next we begin our student interest survey. I love these because I get to see what kind of reader each kid is and more about their personality. It has questions like what kinds of books they like to read, their favorite hobby, tv shows, etc. I ask them to be completely honest and tell me if they don't like reading. I got this idea from the absolutely life changing book The Book Whisperer. You can grab a free copy of mine here

Day Two

This is where I've made the mistake the past two years of planning too much. A few are done with the self portrait and interest survey on the first day, but the majority aren't. In the past, I've gone ahead and introduced a new activity when we weren't ready. This year, the plan is to finish any work from the previous day. Those who have finished will go ahead and visit our classroom library for the first time and pick out a book! Then, as others finish, they can choose their first book too.

We have weekly library visits where the kids get two books, usually a picture book and a chapter book. I teach in the building that is the farthest away from the library (and everything!), so having a good classroom library is a must! If I didn't, the kids would finish their book and not have anything else to read for the rest of the week. That just couldn't happen, so I focused the majority of my classroom money towards purchasing books for the library. I let students have a lot of say about the books I purchase. When I give out Scholastic book orders, I have the students create a wish list and then I find books that many students request and try and use bonus points to get those. On my end of the year reflection survey last year, one of my sweet girls wrote that our classroom library helped her discover that she loved reading. I'd call that money well spent! 

Now, here's where I know this plan won't stay exactly how I've got it laid out. During the second half of the school year last year, our district's 5th grade began a program where all students received their own Chromebook (kinda like a laptop) that traveled with them from class to class.  This, of course, took some getting use to and we had to allot time to go over rules and how to use these devices. I'm not sure how much time will be needed to do that at the beginning of the year, so I don't want to over plan. I'll just try and fit it in when needed and move some other stuff around. #itsallgood 

Day Three

I'm *hoping* that Chromebooks will be up and running smoothly by day 3 and we can start practicing the basic such as emailing since that's how we start each day. You can read more about that here
Since hopefully everyone will have their independent reading book by day 3, we will start going over how to write their Status of the Class. 
Every Friday, my kids will write a Reading Response Letter. In this letter, they will write a letter to me about their current book. The letters must be a page in length. They will tell me their thoughts and opinions on the book. I have created a 'book' for each of my students where they will write their letter to me each Friday. There are pages for every Friday throughout the school year, so there are 40 writing templates. I've done this for the past two years and I have decided on a book format this year for several reasons:
*It will help get them in the habit on writing this after the tests. They can just go and grab their's from the shelf and get comfy and write!
*It's more organized! They usually just cram their letter back in their binder when I hand it back. Now it will be in their 'book'.
* They (and I! and their parents!) can see their writing improvement throughout the year. <------THE BEST PART!!!
* Their own book makes it a little more "fun"
* They can reread past letters and reflect back on their thinking and their experience with that particular book. 
Let me know if you would like to see this in my TpT store! The binding machine is my new best friend! You can get yours here!

I love that this planner has this section for notes. I write what needs printing/copying here. The "color by PS" is my Color by Parts of Speech. That's an extra in case there's extra time that needs filling. 

Sorry the post ran a little long!
If you have any questions, just leave a comment and I'll reply! :) :)

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Target Haul: Back to School Edition

Who doesn't love Target? I mean, seriously. This store has everything! And that Dollar Spot?!? Oh my goodness, y'all! I am *obsessed* with the Dollar Spot stationary line. They have the CUTEST designs! Love!!
This is NOT a sponsored post, although it sounds like it! haha! I just really love this store! 

Today I thought I'd do something a little different. I usually do haul posts on my Life+Style blog, Southern Belle Inspired, but since everything I got this time was for school, I thought I'd do the post on Life in Fifth Grade. I purchased these products yesterday, so most Targets should have these items. 
Let's get started! 

How gorgeous are these school supplies?? The gold is a pocket folder and the pink leopard is a notebook. And that Washi tape that matches??? Shut up! I cannot wait to use this in a weekly spread in my ECLP. 

If you have never tried these pens, go get some NOW! These are the BEST pens I've ever used. EVER! I have the regular pack, but I just had to have the neon ones. 

I love to use agendas as lesson planners and this one has been calling my name!! Let me know if you want to see how I use this as a lesson planner. :)

How adorable is this binder? My binders at school need spicing up. This one will do the trick! 

$1 dividers in gorgeous colors? Yes, please!

I always stock up on these sentence strips in the Back to School Dollar Spot. I love the colors!

$1 gold Washi tape is a must. This tape in the Dollar Spot is a great quality!  

The Dollar Spot pens are also great! And they come in such pretty colors! :)

I am obsessed with that To Do sticky note! 

I've never tried these gel pens, but for $1 how can you go wrong? Have y'all tried them? 

I want to hear about your favorite Target finds! What do I need that I didn't get?? I'd hate to have a reason to go back to Target! ;) ;) ;)

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Classroom Decorating: Day 6

Happy weekend, y'all! This week has been crazy busy! My grandmother had surgery on Monday and finally came home from the hospital yesterday, so posting has been difficult this week and I ended up skipping yesterday, but it's all good! :) I worked in my classroom until around 9:30 last night and it's finnnalllly starting to come together. There's still a million and one things to do, but I'm starting to see some of the projects complete! 
Here's day 6!
I finally got all those books placed on the shelf. It's on my list to organize them, but that hasn't happened yet. I'm just proud to have them on shelves at this point! I'm not leaving those on the top...I just have to rearrange! 

I love the idea of using book covers to decorate boards. I'm always trying to come up with ways to make my kids love to read and get excited about books! Plus, book covers are so pretty, so it's a win win!

I'm starting to see the end of the small group table! Yay!

I walked into my classroom one day and found 5 boxes piled high atop a group of desks. I got those unpacked last night and now they are messing up my VIP area! I feel like I'm just moving junk around until it's all placed somewhere. Do y'all ever feel like that? #teacherproblems

I haven't added the title of this board, but it will display all our skills and strategies posters for the first grading period, which I still have to make! At least the first two are up! 

Yep, this area still looks bad, but look at that clean board! All ready for boarder now! :)

My classroom instantly felt cozier when I got the books out. These were some of last year's favorites. I can't read to share these with my new kids! :)

Evidence board is halfway complete! Evidence term posters are a freebie here!

I was so excited to get this board done, but when I went to put up the title, I realized I had made it way too small. So I'm going to have to recreate one that is bigger. It happens sometimes! You can read about how I make my titles here. :)

Still so much to do, but it's starting to come together! :) 

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Word Nerds Book Study: Chapter 7

It's time for Chapter 7 of Word Nerds, y'all! Be sure and check out Heather's thoughts! 
Don't have this amazing book? Go order it now! 
Chapter 7 is called "Spreading Vocabulary Wings" and I took away two things from it: a couple of new ideas and a lot of good book recommendations! I'm sharing what stuck out with me today!

Crystal Ball Words
This is a great activity to use to teach Greek and Latin Roots (which I always find SO hard to teach!). The book includes a graphic organizer to use with this activity. Students identify the prefix, suffix, and root word and determine the definition of each of those to discover the meaning of the word. Love!

Pirate Talk
This activity uses the book Pirate Pete's Talk Like a Pirate. One of the teachers read the book to her class and came up with an activity using 'pirate talk' in which the kids 'translate' the sentences that are written in pirate language using their vocabulary words. I LOVE this idea! How fun would it be to do on National Talk Like A Pirate Day! :) :)

My favorite part of this chapter was all the book recommendations they gave and how it was good to use for vocabulary instruction. Below are some of my favorite picks that are currently on my Amazon wish list!

This is the book that goes along with the pirate vocabulary above. :)

I am so excited about this one! My kids and I are big fans of Lemony Snicket and this one looks fabulous. There's even a book trailer that would be fun to show the kids prior to reading. I've included it below!

This one is great to use for teaching context clues!

I do this one as a read aloud throughout the year and we create our own word jars. This is a great one!! :)

David Wiesner...need I say more? 

This one reminds me of The Boy Who Loved Words, which is one of my favs! 

                                                                   The Odious Ogre
I'm also really excited about this one! I love books that include rich adjectives, because my kids often are lacking in vocabulary! This makes it easy to expose them to more words in a fun way.

Missed a chapter? Check it out below!
Intro and Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5
Chapter 6

I'll be back with my thoughts on the final chapter on Sunday!
Happy Friday Eve! :) :)