...sharing strategies for teaching second graders...

Monday, April 30, 2012

We're going on a trip!

YIPPEEE!! We won! We won!! What? You ask what we won? IES collected cell phones and used electronic equipment in competition for a trip to the Atlanta Zoo! Yep, our entire school has won a field trip to the zoo! Sooo exciting, and just a little hectic to fit it in within the next 17 days! ;)  The trip will be broken into two days. the K-3 Field Day is one day followed by the 4-5 Field Day the next. So, the day that our fourth and fifth graders have their Field Day, we'll be at the zoo. They go to the zoo the day we have Field Day. We are so very excited!


Saturday, April 28, 2012

Word Wall Linky Party

     Jen over at The Teacher's Cauldron is having a Word Wall Linky. I have a "Chunk Word Wall" where we post words with a "chunk" underlined so the children can refer to it when writing.
     My students have Poetry Notebook to help build fluency and comprehension. In each poem, we focus on three to five "chunks" or sounds that are commonly spelled.

     An example: the first poem we used one year was "I Have a Little Turtle" which goes "I had a little turtle, he lived in a box, he swam in the puddle, he climbed on the rocks. He snapped at a mosquito, he snapped at a flea. He snapped at a fly, and he snapped at me. He caught the mosquito, he caught the flea. He caught the fly, but he didn't catch me!" We "choose" five word chunks from this poem to focus on for the first week and two days of school because we usually start on a Thursday (go figure!). One chunk is -ap from snapped. We discuss the double consonant and why we need it when adding the suffix -ed. We make words with ap during stations. Another chunk we add to our chunk word wall is -le from little. We find words that have -le at the end that say /l/ like little and puddle. We use -ock from rock, -y from fly, and -aught from caught. We talk about -aught sounding like it should have a short o. This is just a good time to discuss our Southern drawl and remind students that caught really doesn't sound like cawt. ;)

     Using this activity at the beginning of the year is a way I review short and long vowel sounds. I have a, e, i, o, u, y, and other as labels on my chunk wall. We talk about y saying long i at the end of a one-syllable word and long e at the end of a two syllable word most of the time. We look for patterns in our speech, reading, and writing using the chunk wall. I told my students that ey at the end of a word says long e, and I couldn't think of any other ways to use y. One of my students came to me a few days later with gym, where y says short i. :) I was thrilled that she noticed. Now, I do the same every year at first to see how many words they can bring with different sounds. I challenge them to find ways to use chunks that I have forgotten. ;)

     I don't have a picture because we took everything down for testing, but my "Chunk Wall" is a basic, yellow 5 ft. (I think) pocket chart with the letters spread out in two rows. We add words in columns and usually don't fill the pocket chart completely. After the first few weeks of school, fewer words are added because we have examples of lots of chunks there. Our Poetry Folder gets fatter with fewer "chunks" that we haven't already added. Occasionally someone will bring a word they've found, we'll discuss it as a class as to whether we need to add it, and we do or don't-according to vote (with a little encouragement whichever way from me).

     I'd also read in Janiel Wagstaff's book Phonics That Work! New Strategies for the Reading and Writing Classroom about a word wall that you add 1,000 frequently used words to a few at a time until it is full. Students are held accountable for the words that have been added because this word wall stays in one place, has the same words all year (as they are added, students work with the words and are then accountable for them). 

     If you haven't read that book and teach second grade, you'll love it! :) I got it in 1994 when it was published.


Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Another Silly Sentence

    Most of my students remember that the answer to an addition problem is a sum. Most of them even remember that the answer to a subtraction problem is the difference. Not all of them remember that the answer to a multiplication problem is the product. They certainly don't remember that the answer to a division problem is the quotient because we just started multiplication (and in so doing, have begun division when writing the "fact family").

So today I typed the four answer vocabulary words with simple phrases for our Math journals. Then underneath I wrote S + D - P x Q / (couldn't type the division sign with a hypen and two dots), made a silly sentence, and highlighted the letters and corresponding words to reinforce my silliness. I am not sure if this will help all my students remember, but some of them seemed to get it.

I had written Sam + Duke - play times = quirky dogs, but my teamie said, "Why not quacking ducks? If my bunch doesn't get recess, they sure do "quack" about it!" I loved it, her students will remember that, and I changed it for my students, explaining to them about my teamie's "quacking ducks."  
Get my vocabulary page here... nothing fancy, just something to put up for the students to copy into their journals. Comments, please! Does this even make sense? ;)

PS: I found this and like how it seperates the concepts into smaller bites Now my students have two choices...

 A Skunk Smells Daily. (Add-Sum, Subtract-Difference)
My Penguin Doesn't Quack. (Multiply-Product, Divide-

Sunday, April 15, 2012

How to Remember Gallon, Quart, Pint, Cup

This post is random, but may help someone...

I was just roaming around Wednesday afternoon, when I walked into a class on my hall where the teacher was tutoring fifth graders in preparation for the CRCT. One of the girls was having a problem remembering liquid measurements. I'm sure you've all seen the large, capital G with four Qs inside, two Ps inside the Qs, and 2 Cs inside the Ps to help students remember the equivalent measures. If you haven't seen it, e-mail me and I'll send you a copy when I finish one.

The student who was having trouble remembering this information had not been shown that, so I showed her and had her do each letter/letter set in a different color marker so it would stand out to her and help her remember the sequence for the test.

She still seemed a little hesitant, so I thought..."Well, acronyms work. Why not try a silly sentence!" Here it is... "Go quietly, pretty cat!" Her teacher said that worked wonderfully for her because she actually has a cat and talks/writes about it frequently.

Doesn't God work in mysterious ways!? :D She got it with the silly sentence. I thought maybe this would help someone else, so I'm sharing. Happy Sunday!


Sunday, April 8, 2012

Happy Easter! I woke up this morning to find out that I've been tagged by Miss Nelson at Run! Miss Nelson's Got the Camera! How fun!
  Here are her 10 questions with my answers in pink and the rules to the game:

1. You must post the rules.
2. Answer the 10 questions for the tagger who posted for you.
3. Create 10 questions of your own to ask the people you're tagging.
4. Tag 10 people and link the with your post. Don't forget to let them know they've been tagged!
1.       Which do you prefer teaching Reading or Math? Math...I am an avid reader, but it puts me to sleep listening to someone else read...even my students. :*(
2.       What’s your favorite place for clip art? I love clip art on my newsletter and recording sheets that I make for games.
3.       Do you count spelling tests as a reading or writing grade? Reading.
4.       Favorite website for your students? I love SumDog! is good, too.
5.       Point and shoot camera  or DSLR? DSLR with point and shoot option for those times...
6.       Do you arrive to school early or stay late? I do both. Mostly, though, I love to arrive early. I get my lamps on, everything set, and then I just spend time meditating on the day...asking the Lord's blessing. :)
7.       Coke or  Pepsi? Cherry Coke! ;)
8.       Michael’s or Hobby Lobby? Hobby Lobby because it's here.
9.     What is your favorite read aloud? A better question would be what do I not like to read aloud. I love Kevin Henkes for the beginning of the year. I love Henry & Mudge books. There are so many books I enjoy sharing...right now, I'm reading the series that begins with Among the Hidden to my students. They love, love, love them!
10.   Winter Break or Spring Break? I love them both! Winter Break for Christmas to celebrate Jesus's birth. Spring Break to celebrate His Resurrection and our salvation! :)

My ten questions:

1. How many grades have you taught during your career?
2. Are you where you'd like to stay until retirement?
3. What do you think about the new Common Core Curriculum?
4. How many students do you have in your class this year?
5. Has the number of students grown in the past couple of years?
6. What is your favorite lesson/subject to teach?
7. What is your favorite classroom management strategy?
8. How many teachers at your grade level in your school?
9. How many students in the school where you teach?
10. Do you teach in a public or private school?

I'm tagging...
(I never found where I've been! ;)

Happy Resurrection Sunday!


Saturday, April 7, 2012

Birthday Cheer, Retirement Cheer

Has anyone seen the Birthday Cheer on Pinterest?
Check it out here. 

I typed it four to a page so I could hand out copies for my dad's birthday Monday. ;) If you'd like a copy, click here. 

     Well, one of our teachers is considering retiring this year. She has 28 years and just hasn't quite decided for sure. It hit me the other day when I saw the Birthday Cheer again that we haven't even thought about what to do if she does retire. The way our school handles retirement is to let the retiring teacher's team do something to begin the party like get up and talk about the teacher, do a skit, or something...we get to decide what. I had a revelation! God just gives me these ideas, ya know?

Yep, you already guessed, didn't you? I wrote a Retirement Cheer to begin the party for her...if she decides she's really going to retire. At least I'm trying to be "on it" for the end of the school year. My buddy and I have talked about having everything done early (even if it means a couple of Saturdays working) so that by the end of the last week of school, we'll be done with our chores.

That means I have a list's going to be a busy time for the next seven weeks. Seven weeks! Can you believe that we'll be out of school in seven weeks? The children get out on Wednesday and we have two days postplanning. So, please pray for me that by the end of the day May 25, 2012, I'll be walking out of my classroom for the summer. I do intend to work on lessons and units for CCGPS this summer and be ahead, but I can do that right here at home. :)

     I have many plans for this summer and I'm going to handle them the way I did the summer after we first moved into our house (2000). List everything, prioritize, and get up by 7:00 (or earlier) each morning to complete at least 7 items on my list. I love getting up early in the summer, listening to the Purple Martins chirping and our chickens clucking while drinking a cup of coffee on the back deck (before it gets too hot to enjoy coffee). My habit each morning will be devotional time, followed by exercise! When I finish the seven chores on my list, I'll start the fun stuff...sunbathing for a while, then working on my units and plans for 2012-2013. Ah...the plans I have. :) Spring Break has been a taste of the relaxing days of summer. I can't wait! 

    That doesn't mean I won't enjoy these next 7 weeks, because I will. The last month or so of school is always bittersweet to me. These children have grown so much since the beginning of the year! They are not only taller and heavier, but smarter and even have more personality. Well, most of them. I think my Joshua's personality was already established. He's a hoot! Smart as a whip and just busy!

We'll talk about all we've done this year, finish up projects, hatch baby chicks, grow plants in shoeboxes (check out that idea here), and write all about everything we've done for our Second Grade books. I'm so excited...ready to finish out the 2011-2012 school year with a bang for my children so they'll have fond memories of second grade. It's funny! I've had several groups of students from my second and third graders in previous years come back to ask me if we could have a class reunion. I think that is an excellent idea. I wish they'd invite me to their class reunions after they graduate. :) I'd love to see them all and hear about their lives.

OOPS! Did I let my age show? ;)


PS: If you have someone retiring and you'd like to see my attempt at a Retirement Cheer to begin your own, just comment or drop me an e-mail at and I'll inbox you a copy. I don't want to give away the surprise here. I don't think my buddy follows my blog, but just in case... ;)

Monday, April 2, 2012

Currently April


I love the sound of the Purple Martins on Spring days, especially first thing in the morning. We have 96 Martin gourds and a Martin hotel that will accommodate 24 couples, so we have room for 120 pairs of Purple Martins. Last year we had approximately 650-700 Martins here in late July for about a week or ten days, roosting on the crossbars of the gourd supports. It was an amazing sight to watch them all come to roost in the evenings. About a month ago, my darling hubby added the Martin hotel to the top of the Martin gourd pole farthest away from our front porch.

It's soothing to hear them out building their nests, chirping away. :)

My darling hubby became an unemployed welder in March 2009 and now works 10-12 hours weekly @ Publix. He prefers to do things around our home and take care of his mom and my parents. I love it that he can and does! We have chickens and raise eggs for our own consumption and for hatching each Spring with my students. I am trying to get him to add various chickens to raise and sell. I'd also like to sell produce. My dad has quite the garden each year, and I think hubby and I should pitch in, increase the size of the garden, and make it a family venture.

I love doing Candy Bar awards each year for my students. I am working on finding just the right award for each student. It's easy with some students, harder with others...takes lots of thought for me.

A teacher in my building has inspired me! I want Insanity because I am going to take care of business before I turn 50 in April 2013. I have been fighting off allergies since elementary school, so I want the Health Master because I believe fresh veggies and fruits will solve some of this problem. I have many toxins to rid myself in order to be healthy! :)

I feel the need to praise the Lord in all things, especially lately. Of course we need to pray without ceasing, but we must remember, too, that He inhabits the praises of His people...of which I am one! I hope you are one of His, too!

For the Super Power, the diarrhea button cracked me up! It would definitely be a way to change people's attitudes! I'd like my Super Power to be a LOVE button. The philos kind of love...brotherly love. I'd like to be able to push a button that would allow people to see into others' hearts and realize the struggles they are going through so they could empathize and sympathize with them. I need that LOVE button most of all! Impatience, be gone!! ;)