Letters to Inanimate Objects

Why not?

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Dear Bamboo Plant,
     I love you so much!  You are so independent and, most importantly, still alive.  You aren’t like other plants that throw hissy fits and die when I go on vacation for two weeks, leaving no water. And even though I am gone again, I know that I will come home to find you alive and well.  Thank you.
                                  With gratitude,
                                   Jennie

Dear Tractor, 
     I am sure that it is a spactacular feat to pull those weights all that way, the stands are full after all.  However, I just don’t understand.  I don’t understand what is so fascinating  about watching you pull stuff in a straight line down a track.  Not to mention the noise! Jeez it’s deafening.   I wish you lots of luck in your future endeavours,  but I hope that I only have to be witness to it once a year. 
                                    Sincerely,
                                    Jennifer

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Dear Pretzel Wagon Pretzel,
      It has been years since we last met. I have missed you and was ecstatic that we met again at the Elkhart County Fair this year.  The fair may not be my favorite place, but you make it worth the crowds.  You are so sweet and soft, covered in melted butter and salt.  I shall see you again my friend. Same time, same place next summer. 
                                     With love,
                                     Jennie

My son and his father think I am insane right now for writing to a pretzel, but it was fun. Thanks for the letter writing idea Michelle!

Sleepless nights begin…

The sleepless nights have come early this back to school season.  (You have those the week or so before school starts too, right?)  Why so early you ask?  It is still July you say?  Well, it could be the cup of coffee I drank around five o’clock.  However, I think it is because I will be speaking at my district’s board meeting tomorrow tonight.  My son is in a dual language program (English/ Spanish) in his school district and I will be speaking during the open forum part about my experience as a parent.  I love what my son is getting from dual language and I would love other kids to benefit from a similar experience as well, but I absolutely, positively, HATE public speaking.  Give me a room full of kids – no problem.  Add one adult, the stress sweat begins.  A full room full of adults? No sleep, lots of stress sweat, butterflies, panic, anxiety…  I love my job because I get to spend the day with kids and, for the most part, do not need to speak in front of rooms full of adults.

Back to School DIY Begins…

I just realized I use the … a lot…

Last year we went with the Hollywood theme.  We wanted to change it up for the new year, but had to figure out how to keep our awesome classroom library. So….Superheroes!  There are ton of superhero movies after all and we are going to be VERY boy heavy this year.

I found this perfect fabric for a bulletin board…Score!

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The first DIY I finished is for the birthdays.  Each kid will have a star with their name and birthday.  The star will be hot glued under the month they were born.  I did this last year too (A Star is Born), not an original idea.   I found it somewhere online.

20140722_181920Second, I painted new Popsicle sticks. (Also not an original idea!)  These are much better than the traditional Popsicle sticks.  We used these last year for our morning meeting and they worked great when we remembered what color we were picking.  🙂  During the days that we do an open share for morning meeting, we pick a stick and then turn it to the other color.  This way we can make sure everyone gets a turn over the course of the week.

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I’m also working on the fairy throne/garden that I wrote about here.  What next?  Hmmm…..

 

Monitoring Understanding

I think that one of the most common reading struggles that third graders have is monitoring their understanding.  Although the students can read the words and comprehend the words, they don’t stop to make sure that they are comprehending. (Which is the whole purpose for reading!)  Sometimes A lot of times the kids just keep on reading and reading without paying attention to the fact they have no idea what they are reading!

How can we help kids monitor their understanding?

  • Teach kids to ask themselves these questions:  Do I know what I read?  What do I not understand?  How do I figure out what it means?
  • Think aloud:  We need to model reading, asking ourselves questions, and applying strategies when we don’t understand.
  • Stop and Jot:  Teach kids to stop every so often (each page, each chapter) and jot something down about what they read.
  • Notice and Note is a great resource for teaching students to monitor their understanding of narrative texts.17188285
  • Post-its!  They are fun for the kids and a great way to record thinking.  And check out what I found at Barnes and Noble for $1.95.

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If I could take my students anywhere…

Today’s topic for Big Time Literacy’s July Blogging Challenge is….If money were no object, what experiences would you give your students?

When Michelle first showed me the topics, this one immediately became my favorite!

This last year we studied many different continents and countries in Social Studies.  We started with a study of Canada.  The kids were so interested in this country that was so close, yet they knew almost nothing about.  One of their favorite parts was Niagara Falls.  One girls asked me if I would take them to Niagra Falls for a field trip.  I said, “If I ever win the lottery, I will take the whole class!”  And that became the question…

We were studying Mexico…  “Ms. Bless, if you win the lottery, will you take us on a field trip to Mexico?”

Studying U.S.A… “Ms. Bless, if you win the lottery, will you take us on a field trip to the Grand Canyon?”

Studying South America…”Ms. Bless, if you win the lottery, will you take us on a field trip to the Galapagos Islands?”

With this post I have to decide where I would want decide to take the kids if this day every really came.  After my family’s road trip this summer, I would have to say it would definitely be a road trip  across our beautiful country.

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I would rent a bus and take them west through Wyoming, Montana, and South Dakota. We would be able to learn about landforms, plants, history, and more!  We would visit Mount Rushmore, the Crazy Horse Memorial, do some hiking, see some animals up close…

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FYI I do not know the lady that got out of her car and way to close to this elk!

I really need to start playing the lottery!

Día de los Muertos

Today’s topic for Big Time Literacy’s July Blogging challenge: What is your favorite holiday to celebrate with your students?

This last year we studied Día de los Muertos in Social Studies.   Then, after the school wide Halloween parade we created an altar.  A few parents came to help and many sent in supplies. We made marigolds, Papel Picado (the flags), and skulls.  One mom even sent in fresh pan de muertos!  Students brought in pictures of family members who have passed away to add to the altar.  It turned out fabulous!  By far my favorite holiday with them because the students learned so much about the Mexican culture.  I can’t wait for this October!

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Road Trip Reading

In our family, a road trip doesn’t mean a lull in reading.   My brother is reading the first Harry Potter and my son is reading the Lego Movie junior novel. I have finished multiple books including Sure Signs of Crazy. 

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I won this book with Two Writing Teachers March SOL Challenge, but I haven’t had time to read it until now.  It was a great YA read.  The narrator is going through all of the normal chaos of growing up with the added concern that she may be crazy like her mother.  The book takes you through the summer leading up to her seventh grade year with an entertaining and relatable voice – perfect for middle school girls.

When I saw this book in the gift shop I had to get it.

It is a collection of stories and we have been reading it around the campfire and  in the tent before going to bed.  As my brother says, “These stories aren’t scary, they are just interesting.” He is disappointed, but this means no nightmares for my eight year old!  The stories contain historical facts of Yellowstone that relate to ghosts or spirits.  Perfect family read for our trip! 

I also found two books that I HAVE to buy for our classroom library.

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