September 30, 2015

Homework Folders

We had a true "First Six Weeks of School" followed by Fall Break. Now that we are back, my students are embarking on their first weeks of 2nd grade homework.

I've always felt good about the homework I assign. Parents seem happy, it's not too much of a headache for me to grade, and it gives students good practice. I've never let myself fret too much over homework and I don't intend to start anytime soon.

Being at a new school this year, though, caused me to reevaluate and reorganize my homework. For one thing, my students don't have agendas and agenda notebooks to keep their things in. Another difference is that we don't have Spelling homework here. In addition, we have a very strict homework policy by grade level.

So it basically took me this entire first six weeks to figure out what exactly I was going to do. But now I have, and let me just say: I LOVE my new system! 

To introduce it to my students and parents, I created a video and uploaded it to YouTube. The video held my students' attentions and parents have let me know that they appreciated it as well. I sent the video out the week before homework would begin.

The Gist:
Students have a homework folder that is due on Fridays. Their homework includes:
1. A short skill review. I'll create this weekly to target things we have studied and need to work on. This can also be a way for me to circle back around to old concepts as the year goes on. The page will get changed out weekly.
2. Reading homework. I expect them to read at least 20 minutes a night. I have them track some of their reading on a Book BINGO card. The card gets changed out monthly. I use differentiated boards based on reading grade levels. You can read more about my Book BINGOs and my reasons for using it in the post linked above.
3. Math Facts practice. Students have flashcards, game ideas (including one game I teach them in class), and internet links to bring home to practice our current skill. Most games can be played with a deck of cards. We will work on most skills for two weeks at a time. After two weeks, they will be assessed with a quick Mad Minute that can be found by clicking on my flashcards link above. No, I do not differentiate this. I've tried. It was more trouble than it was worth for me. In addition, we learn skills through cooperative games and number talks, which means I am supporting a specific skill in class, so it makes sense that they are working on a particular skill at home (for example, Near Doubles).

September 29, 2015

Gooney Bird Greene

Calling all 2nd grade teachers: if you have never read Gooney Bird Greene by Lois Lowry, do yourself a favor and go check it out right now!
Image result for gooney bird greene

Gooney Bird is a precocious and unique 2nd grader with a knack for telling stories about her life. All of her outrageous (at first) stories are filled with suspense and include a surprise ending (which turns the outrageous sounding story into a perfectly reasonable one).

During my first year of teaching, a friend of mine told me about this wonderful book. My second year, I kicked off narrative writing with this wonderful text and have not looked back since!

Today, my class finished up publishing their first big narrative piece.

I'm so proud of their work! They spent time revising, drafting, crafting, and self assessing this one piece. We finished up the book weeks ago, but Gooney Bird has continued to be a mentor to the class as writers. 

The checklist we built and revised together. 
A simple anchor chart to help us remember how to zoom in.

I created a unit of ideas and resources to use this book in your own narrative writing unit, and I have it on sale in my Teachers Pay Teachers store right now! It includes a read aloud guide, rubrics, writing paper, crafting aids, skills practice, possible NB entries, and a game. I try to keep things pretty open ended by offering a variety of ways to approach the different skills that are gleaned from this mentor text. I also include different types of writing paper and levels of rubrics.

I really hope you'll check out this book and find a way to use it in your classroom! Have a great week!


September 18, 2015

Five For Friday

started working at a new school...
And it's the beginning of the school year...
I'm planning a wedding...
I bought a new place and am moving for the second time in 4 months...

Ok, now that my excuses for disappearing from blog land are out of the way, here is my 5 for Friday!

Last Saturday, my sister hosted a fun lingerie shower and bachelorette outing in downtown Athens! I enjoyed getting to spend the weekend with my sister and I enjoyed every part of sharing my last few weeks of being a single lady with my friends!

Since Cora needed her Mommy for nourishment, she got to come party, too! It was a girls weekend and I got lots of smiles and baby cuddles.

Did I mention we are moving? We bought a loft style condo in a fabulous Atlanta neighborhood. We had floors refinished and are now ready to move into our "work in progress". We can't seem to stop dreaming about our plans to make this place a home, and as a result, my architect fiancé has spent way too much time sketching furniture ideas to suit my every whim. And he never complained! love him.

Folks, this is what happens when you decide to go on a little run with your unprotected iPhone. It goes flying out of your hand mid stride, and you stomp on it. This is not the first time I've broken an iPhone screen, so I should really know better. But at least it still works! 

Did I mention it's my fall break? Yep, we are already six whole weeks into school, which means it's break time already! This is new to me, but I kinda like it. On Thursday, I travelled with my sister and her toddler and baby from Atlanta to Savannah! What a trip! We all survived, but somehow it seemed to take forever to get here! 

Enjoy your weekend!