Wordless Wednesday-Character Analysis!

I'm linking up with the always inspiring Miss DeCarbo at Second Grade Sugar and Spice for a little Wordless Wednesday fun today!  If you've been reading my blog for a little while now you may have figured out that I'm a huge fan of Lucy Calkins and Teacher's College Reading and Writing Workshop!  I'm lucky enough this year to be a part of a Teacher Leader group with a staff developer from TC.  Yesterday, we had another training and I just fell in love with this simple graphic organizer to use with students to help delve deeper into character analysis!

As students progress with their comprehension, they're not just reciting character emotions and feelings when describing characters in the text.  We want to move them away from describing characters as happy, sad, mad, or funny.  In order to assist students in doing this difficult work, we need to teach them how to look at the character's actions, thoughts, and words in the text to help support how they feel.  This graphic organizer, that can be a simple drawing on a post-it for a reader to fill out, will help them find these three elements in a text.  Once they jot down what a character thinks, what they say, and what they are doing, they will be better equipped to prove how a character feels.  SO simple yet SO effective!  Students can whip this up on their own or you can provide them with a blank template that's laminated so students can easily reuse them!

I feel like I always hit the jackpot for reading and writing ideas when I meet with these amazing team of teachers.  

So my question for you today is, what is your go-to tool or graphic organizer to help your students analyze characters?

I hope you're having a great week!  Don't forget to link back to Miss DeCarbo's site to see more teacher's posts!


Five for Friday!

Hi there!  Thanks for stopping by!  I feel like I have been go, go, going these last few weeks so I am very excited to be wrapping up this week with Doodle Bugs' Five for Friday and heading into a weekend of absolutely nothing!  The only things on the agenda are sleeping, drinking LOTS of coffee on my couch, creating, and catching up on some very neglected TV shows.  I know, I live on the wild side!  But, after three weekends in a row of jam packed activities, this teacher needs a break.   Before I sign off for the weekend, let's recap this great week of learning.

Last week, I debuted my V.I.P. supply baskets to two very well deserved first graders.  They LOVED it!  The supply baskets sat on their desks all day while they worked and even traveled with them to some different specials.  My V.I.P. students are able to enjoy using special supplies like twistable crayons, dot markers, stickers, and glitter glue to complete work the day that they are the designated V.I.Ps.

My students have been so excited each morning to come into the class and see who earned V.I.P. status for the day!  This behavior incentive has been a great motivator to battle spring fever and end of the year craziness.  Anytime my students are acting out or not showing respectful behavior, I remind them how V.I.P. status is earned.  My students light up when they walk into the classroom and find that they are V.I.P. for the day!

Since it's been so successful I compiled materials that have helped make this successful for me in a freebie in my TpT store!

Included in this packet you will find  V.I.P. basket signs, desk signs, a colored certificate for rockstar behavior, and a black and white version.  You will also find brag tags for students to add to their display to celebrate!

Find all this and more in my store here!

With the end of school nearing, the need to spice up my Daily 5 routine was so necessary!  I was inspired by Firstie Favorites' idea of stringing letter beads onto pipe cleaners for students to practice spelling words.  My firsties ate this activity up!  It was super simple to prep and my students were engaged throughout the whole word work round!  Thanks Nicole!  

The only thing you need to prep are cut small pieces of pipe cleaners and set them in a box with different sized letter beads for the students to use.  I provided my students with a recording sheet from Seusstastic Classroom Inspiration and their differentiated spelling lists and they were off!  Every once and a while you need to switch things up.  I'm so happy that my students are enjoying their work during word work again.

Thursday was an interesting day!  It was Take Your Child to Work Day in NJ and my littles were lucky enough that most were able to go with their parents to work with them!  As great of an experience as that is for my students, it left my classroom very empty of willing learners!  I had a total of 11 students absent and with the nature of my class and their pull out schedules, I only had 7 students to work with most of the day.  So, what do you do when more than half of your class is out?!  You create your own costumes and put on a reader's theatre of course!  

My firsties were so excited to design their own costumes for our play, The Tale of Bird and Butterfly.  They designed wings, beaks, feathers, and one student even created a proboscis for his butterfly!  It was priceless!  I couldn't miss out on all of the fun so I put on my beak and stepped up to the stage.  As stressful as this time of year can be for teachers and our students, it's important to take a break every once in awhile from the usual routine and inspire some creativity!  I really got to see some of my students shine as performers who are usually shy or timid.  I'm so thankful for this crazy day!

We began our new unit on time this week and I have been loving this inspiration I've seen floating around on Pinterest to create human clocks.  I took advantage of my small class size on Thursday and we began practicing telling time to the hour with our bodies!  I had my students create their own clocks so they had an understanding of where the numbers on the face go and their locations.  Then, I put their clocks into a clear plastic sleeve so we could use our white board markers to write on them.  My students were asked one by one to get onto the human clock and pick a time to the hour that they would display.  My other students sat around the clock and had to draw and write the time that the student was showing.  

Not only did this give us a chance to have some fun with time but it was a great way for my kinesthetic learners to learn this skill!  It was so simple and effective.  My students were easily able to see that when telling time to the hour the minute hand ALWAYS stays on the 12.  We made a lot of great connections and had in depth discussions after every student had their chance to model a time on the clock.  Did I mention that we had fun too?! 

We had a great time this week celebrating Earth Day in our classroom.  There was a lot of discussion about taking care of the Earth and what we can do in school to keep Earth beautiful.  I tapped into some of my favorite resources to help bring this topic home for my students.  We watched BrainPop Jr.s video on Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, read a great article from Scholastic News, and followed up with awesome activities from Kelley Dolling's Earth Day Packet!  My favorite activity was by far her I Love My Earth craft!

We had our students pose for a picture pretending to hold something heavy above their heads.  We didn't tell them what it was for and surprisingly not many questions were asked!  I must make some pretty interesting requests if my firsties no longer question all of my motives ha.  The next day we started putting this fun activity together.  I love how they came out!  Some of my firsties faces really show the struggle of holding something heavy and add so much fun to our hallways!  They took the writing portion very seriously and had a great time brainstorming what they could do to help keep the Earth clean and healthy!

Happy Friday everyone!  I hope you are all gearing up for a great weekend spent with loved ones and lots of "me" time.  I've already stocked up on Saturday morning breakfast materials and am looking forward to cooking brunch at home =).  It's really the small things in life sometimes!  

Have a great one!

Enchanted Kinder Garden's Blogiversary Scavenger Hunt

 Hi all!  Thank you so much for stopping by!  Keri from Enchanted Kinder Garden is celebrating her 3rd Blogiversary! We're having a scavenger hunt on our blogs in celebration.

Ready to play? Here's how this works:
All you have to do is be a super detective, find the letters, and unscramble the words. Enter the words in the rafflecopter below to enter for extra entries. You may also enter by following our pages. There will be THREE winners. Up for grabs is a $50 TPT gift certificate, a $25 TPT gift certificate, and a $10 TPT gift certificate. We've all got hidden clues (letters) hiding on our blogs. You can find the clues over at Enchanted Kinder Garden.  After you've found the first set of clues, unscramble them and enter it into the rafflecopter below. Then, start on the next set of clues for your next chance to win! There are three hunts that you can find. The scavenger hunt gives you MORE entries for more chances to win! HAPPY HUNTING!

You're looking for letters like this:

Here's my clue! Letter A - I love using interactive phonics activities in my classroom. You will find the letter on my blog. 

Get started at Enchanted Kinder Garden 

Wordless Wednesday!

I am so excited  that Miss DeCarbo's Wordless Wednesday linky party is back!  It's so much fun to showcase a quick snapshot from your week and see what others are sharing!  Here's my picture for this week...

I know I'm not the only one who has started counting down until summer.  When the summer countdown begins I can't help but daydream and imagine things for next year, especially how I want to design my classroom.  I'm at the point where I just want to tear everything off of my walls and start fresh! I LOVE these new collections from School Girl Style!  Aren't they gorgeous?!  If you're not familiar with Melanie at School Girl Style do yourself and your classroom a favor and check her out here!

 I don't know how I'm going to choose between these two but I can't wait to start planning!

So I have to ask you this week, what classroom theme are you hoping to use for next year?  If you don't have an idea yet, what is your classroom theme this year?  

I hope you all have a great rest of your week!  Thanks for stopping by!

Liebster Award!

Hi all!  I am so honored that my blog has been nominated for the Liebster Award by the very sweet Jackie from Neat Sweet and Hard to Beat!  I have been loving the opportunity to share my classroom happenings with so many and connect with other educators that I find so inspiring!  This nomination means so much to me, my heart is full!

If you're not familiar with the Liebster Award, it's given to bloggers with growing audiences to help acknowledge up and coming blogs!  It's a fantastic way for bloggers to recognize other bloggers and spread the word about new voices in our community.  I know I put my heart into each post and it's a wonderful feeling to be appreciated and recognized.  

Along with the nomination, each blogger has to answer 11 questions about themselves to help their readers get to know them a little better and introduce themselves to new followers as well!  

Here comes my favorite part!  After I answer the questions below, I get to nominate 11 blogs for this award.  I love the chance to pay it forward. 

I can't wait to continue on this blogging journey where I get to teach my students, talk about my passion, and inspire others!

Here are the questions I have to answer to accept the award!  Here goes nothing ;)

1.  Why and how long ago did you start blogging?  

I started blogging three months ago as a New Years resolution.  I have been teaching now for four years and fell in love with following and reading teacher blogs since my days of student teaching.  I was constantly inspired by the blogs that I read and continued to use their ideas to inspire my own teaching practices.  Fast forward four years in my own classroom and I found myself constantly reinventing the wheel and supplementing my curriculum, researching ideas to make my teaching better, and trying new things on a daily basis.  I wanted to be able to share my (sometimes crazy) ideas with other teachers and continue to learn from those who inspired me most.  So far, so good.  I can't imagine not being a part of this amazing teaching blog community!

2.  What one word sums up the heart of your blog and why?  

Collaborative!  When I'm planning lessons and creating activities for my students I want them to work collaboratively by interacting with each other and our classroom.  I am often "that" teacher whose classroom is the loud room, where the kids are never in their seats!  I LOVE it that way!  My students are always up and moving, having conversations with each other, and learning from their peers.  I wanted that to shine through in my blog.  Each activity that I share is one where my students are working on skills in our curriculum but they're also learning to work together as well.  

That's one of the major reasons why I've enjoyed my blogging experience so much thus far.  The collaboration that takes place with other teachers, bloggers, and readers has been amazing.  I have been given so many wonderful opportunities to work with other bloggers in this community and I have loved every minute of it.  I have yet to meet a blogger that won't answer a question I have, is willing to share their experience, or celebrates a special moment with me.  Collaboration is definitely at the heart of my blog and blogging experience.  

3.  Is there something you learned late in your blogging journey you wished you knew before?  

I wish I knew to interact with other bloggers!  Don't be afraid to ask questions, comment on posts, and interact on other forms of social media.  I have learned some about blogging and navigating this community on my own but I have learned SO much more from others!  The willingness to share ideas and collaborate is truly amazing.  Don't be afraid to put yourself out there!

I also received a wonderful piece of advice from my friend Julie at A First for Everything.  She said at the beginning of my blogging experience, not to compare your beginning to someone else's middle.  I think this is so true for beginning bloggers and TpT sellers!  It's so easy to compare ourselves with other people who have been doing this longer and are so successful.  It's more important to enjoy the journey than rush to the finish line!  Sometimes easier said than done, but I'm working on it!

4.  What is your favorite pastime other than blogging?  

My husband would say at the moment there's not much I'd rather do BUT I love spending time with family, traveling and experiencing new places, reading, reality TV, and watching cheesy chick flicks and quoting their lines with my sister!

5.  How many hours per week do you dedicate to your blog/TPT? 

 Oh boy, that's a difficult question. About every free minute I have I spend on TPT products and blogging!  I am NOT a morning person and I'm training myself to get up earlier to spend a few extra hours of quiet time to plan blog posts and create new activities. I would have to say that I spend about two hours every day during the school week and then more on the weekends.  I'm always working on something with the tv on in the background! I probably spend an average of 10-15 hours a week on it.  Whether that's researching, planning, reading, writing, or creating.  

6.  What category of blog posts do you enjoy the most? 

 I love all things teaching blogs!  I enjoy seeing posts about classroom management and interactive activities where students were working together to complete a project. I love to hear success stories from other classrooms to inspire me in mine. I also love to read about people's favorite pins and Pinterest project recommendations.  I'm not a crafty person but I would love to spend time over the summer revamping my classroom and trying to create new things for my small home that I've seen on the site!

7.  Where does your blog inspiration come from?  

My blog inspiration comes from my students and other teachers that I work with.  I sometimes treat my students as guinea pigs (oops) to test out a crazy idea I may have for an activity but am not ready to share with the world yet.  Seeing their enthusiasm while completing activities that I create is priceless.  I also love talking and brainstorming with other teachers that I work with.  We all share similar philosophies and I love having time in the morning before the kids come in or after school to chat about things we wish we were doing, or saw somewhere online, or would love to try.  They give me ideas to create things for our team and I love the chance to see our ideas become reality!

8.  Which post that you've written are you most proud of?  
That's a really tough question!  I think I'm most proud of my Interactive Phonics Fun post because it was a reflection of my favorite kind of day in the classroom.  It was an activity that came to me at the most random times, was completely interactive, student-centered, and fun!  I loved seeing how engaged my students were and sharing this idea with the teaching community.

9.  Is there any post you have been planning to do, but have been postponing it for a while now? 

I have been meaning to write a post about my classroom management strategies and the ways that I build character and community in the classroom.  This year is my first as an inclusion teacher and my cooperating teacher and I are constantly changing things up to make it work for our diverse learners.  I have recently introduced brag tags and a VIP supply basket to encourage respect and kind character.  I'm so impressed by how my students are responding to our classroom management plan and how we are encouraging kindness and respect.  I hope to have this up and ready for everyone to read soon!

10.  What is your favorite aspect of blogging?   

I know I have said this already, but I am just so enamored with this blogging community and the opportunity to share ideas with other educators around the world.  I love the ability to connect and work together on blog hops, linky parties, and instagram giveaways!  It has been so rewarding already!  I also love that my blog provides me with a tool to reflect with.  I can see what has worked in my classroom by reading previous posts and I can go back and read things that were successful and will continue to help me grow as a teacher.

11.  Which idea from a blog would you like to try yourself?    

Oh my there are so many, I don't know how I can choose just one!  I am gearing up for Mother's Day and deciding what gift I want my students to make for the lovely ladies in their lives.  I have seen the "Mommy Spa," idea floating around on Pinterest and I think Fluttering Through First Grade's E-Spa-Cially for Mom's craft is ADORABLE!  

Now for the most difficult part!  There are so may blogs that I wish I could acknowledge but these are just a few up and coming bloggers who I really enjoy following!  I can't wait for you to get to know some of these fantastic bloggers! 

I would like to nominate these fabulous teachers and friends for the Liebster Award:

1.  Diana at My Day in K
2.  Nicole at Why Pencils Have Erasers
3.  Jennifer at A Dab of Glue Will Do
4.  Elsa at The Whole Wheat Class
6.  Melissa at Mrs. Dailey's Classroom
7.  Andrea at Always Kindergarten
8.  Suzanne at Kindergarten Planet
9.  Laura at Luv My Kinders
10.  Yukari at A Pinch of Kinder
11.  Nicole at Firstie Favorites

The rules for receiving this award are to:

1. Link back to the blog that nominated you.
2. Answer the 11 questions posted by the nominator. 
3. Nominated 5-11 people (blogs with less than 200 followers) and link them in your post.
4. Contact the nominees and let them know that they have been nominated on your blog.

Thanks for stopping by! I hope you have a wonderful week!

Five for Friday!

First week back after Spring Break almost complete!  It was a jam packed week of learning, interactive activities, and some outdoor fun!  I can't wait to recap everything with my favorite linky party, Doodle Bugs Teaching's Five for Friday!

We didn't waste anytime with our first day back!  We jumped right into studying our new spelling pattern, double o /oo/ like in book.  I knew while I was planning over break that I would need something interactive and fun to hook my sweet little friends and get them to buy into our phonics instruction this week.  I found Smitten with First's Looking For Words Activity packet on TpT and knew it was the perfect way to introduce our sound!  

First up, we were introduced to Lookie the Explorer, a precious little girl who is "looking," for words.  We helped brainstorm some oo words for her as a whole class and then we were gifted some explorer hats to join Lookie on a hunt!  We started off right away on our hunt for /oo/ words around the classroom!  My students loved the extra oomph the hats and Lookie gave to our word hunt.  They have been so excited about the sound ever since!

We continued working on our /oo/ with more activities from this great pack like the Buried Word sort.  My littles acted as true explorers and used shovels to dig up word cards.  If we found an /oo/ word my teacher's assistant (a behavior reward, more on this later ;)) added the word to our chart.  If we dug up a non /oo/ word, we buried it back into the dirt!

I can't say enough great things about Michelle's packet of activities!  Check them out in her TpT store here!

We have been doing an excellent job becoming master measurement magicians in class!  But, on Tuesday we were having a beautiful day in NJ and I knew my littles deserved a little outdoor action!  We took advantage of our school's new outdoor classroom and made our OWN outdoor scavenger hunts to measure objects outside.  If you want to read more about how my firsties created hunts to meaure outdoor objects to trade with another student, read my previous blog post here!  It was such a successful student-centered activity!  I'm so proud of these measurement magicians!

We were reviewing cause and effect again this week in reading and my firsties have been doing an awesome job practicing this skill with a lot of hands-on practice.  I wanted to bring cause and effect to life in the classroom again before we tackled it in our reading for the week.  I read a post from the fabulous Miss Decarbo at Second Grade Sugar and Spice and knew her cause and effect scavenger hunt in the classroom was the perfect activity for us!

I wrote on index cards (nothing fancy for last minute ideas) clues and placed them around the room for my students to find.  After reading each clue, my students discussed with a partner what the effect or cause of the clue might be and shared with the group.  Once we agreed, we followed the clue to our next destination!  My students did an awesome job using their background knowledge about cause and effect to solve the clues completely without teacher support!  Get up and move? Check.  Work cooperatively?  Check!  Thank you Miss DeCarbo!  To check out her original post please visit her amazing blog here!

I am seriously in awe of this teacher blogger community, I knew I have said it before but I have to say it again.  The excitement everyone has and the willingness to share ideas about what works in their classroom is so amazing!  I have seen ideas for a V.I.P. table from Mrs. Lambs Class and I loved the idea!  Unfortunately, I don't have any extra tables and space is very limited in my classroom.  So I have been unable to find a way to celebrate student behavior with a full V.I.P. area and I was super disappointed about it.  UNTIL I found Primarily Speaking's idea about using a V.I.P. supply bucket to travel to different students' desks!

I knew that would be such a special treat for my firsties so I went to Michael's and picked up a few (or a ton of!) special supplies for two rockstar students who have been displaying respectful behavior throughout the last few days.  The plan is to place the supply bucket secretly on two students desks in the morning before the kids come in.  When they enter the room they will see who our Rockstar Students are for the day!  Those two students will have the opportunity to use all of the special supplies in the bucket throughout the day!  Inside the V.I.P. supply bucket you will find glitter glue, twistable crayons, a huge pen, mechanical pencils, dot paint, stickers, sunglasses, and a fun sticker book. I can't wait to share how this goes.  I think my students are going to FLIP!  

I didn't think it was possible but Go Noodle has outdone itself AGAIN!  My firsties flipped for the new Pop See Ko 2.0 video!  We loved popping with all of our favorite Go Noodle characters!  Our favorite might have to be Cat Man.  We think he's just crazy!

Thanks so much for stopping by and recapping my week with me!  What was your favorite moment this week?  I'd love to hear from you!

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend!

Exploring Measurement Outside of the Classroom

Happy hump day teacher friends!  I hope everyone is having a great week.  My first week back from break has been an interesting one.  I'm finding what's working one minute for my kids might not keep my sweet littles engaged the next. As teachers we have to learn to adapt and roll with the punches and focus on what's best for our students in that moment.  

Driving to work this morning, I was so excited to see the sun out and hoped that the weather would stay warm and inviting.  You can't help but be in a better mood when the sun is shining and I was instantly excited to find a way to get my kids outside for some hands-on practice. I had read previously in Marcia Tate's book, Worksheets Don't Grow Dendrites, about the positive effects of learning outside and letting students explore.  I kew today would be a perfect day to put these words and theories into action!

Our current focus is measurement and while it's been great being magicians of measurement, I wanted to encourage my students to take charge of their learning and take their exploration outside in the real world.  I swear some of my best teaching ideas come to me during my long morning commute, it's a blessing in disguise!  I decided we were going to go on a student created measurement scavenger hunt...outside!

Over the winter, my school designed a beautiful outdoor classroom space for the students to use.  This was the perfect location for our measurement scavenger hunt intro.  We brought some simple supplies outside with us: 
1. Our binders for us to lean on while we investigate
2.  Pencils
3.  Plain construction paper (nothing fancy here folks for last minute lessons!)
4.  Our math tool kits that house our math manipulatives like connecting cubes

Once we were all gathered, I explain how this was going to work.  We would pair up with our "ketchup and mustard," math partners and explore our outside classroom.  I told them we would take about five minutes to sketch and label eight things they found outside that could be measured.  They were asked to create their own scavenger hunt recording sheet.  But, there would be a catch!  They weren't going to measure their OWN objects!  After we created our hunts, the partners were going to switch papers with a different pair and measure objects on THEIR recording sheets!  

They were so excited when they realized that they were going to be creating scavenger hunts for their unknown participants.  The partner groups walked around outside and created their scavenger hunts.  My firsties were very creative!  They wanted their classmates to measure someone's foot, a brick along the school, the stone steps, leaves they found, rocks, plants, twigs, a door frame, and a door handle!

After our initial planning and sketching out our recording sheets, we had pairs team up and switch sheets.  Then, it was time to get to work!  One partner (mustard) was asked to estimate how many cubes long they thought the object on their scavenger hunt would be.  Then the second partner (ketchup) would get out their cubes and measure the object.  Both partners recorded their measurements and switched roles at the next object.

My math partners work together every day so they have a solid understanding of how to work together cooperatively and switch roles when it's time.  

My students did an AWESOME job hunting around outside and using their scavenger hunt pictures to estimate and measure objects found outside.  They worked so nicely together and were excited from the moment we began!

I love the student created drawings and labels.  It shows that my students not only were engaged in their learning but took ownership of their own experience!

I couldn't say no to helping out with some of my students' scavenger hunts!  My foot was a popular destination to get measured!

One of my favorite moments came when these two sweeties were trying to measure the length of the door frame for their recording sheet.  A few of my littles decided to assist them without being asked and it turned into a group project!  I loved seeing them naturally work together for a common goal without any teacher support or encouragement.  They really shined!

Was the math class chaotic?  Absolutely.  Were my kids loud?  You bet.  But the authentic learning that took place was worth every loud crazy moment!  One of my sweet boys actually said, "Mrs. Yannuzzi this is more fun than recess!!"  I don't know how you can compete with recess but I'll take it!

This was such a simple, low-prep, high engagement activity that I hope to replicate with different concepts in the future.  Math is not a worksheet and any opportunity I can find to give my students real-life experience out in the world to apply their skills I will gladly take on!

I hope after reading this you're encouraged to get your kids outside and give them some real-life experiences with their learning!  I hope you all have a great rest of the week, thanks for stopping by!