Tuesday, December 11, 2012

The Homeless Christmas Tree

I wanted to share a lesson with you all that I have done with my class for the past several years. We use the book The Homeless Christmas Tree by Leslie M. Gordon. It is actually based on a tree here in Fort Worth, which is pretty cool and makes a great 'text to world' connection for my students.

Here is the lesson plan...

book - The Homeless Christmas Tree
Power point with verbs from book.
little pebbles and big rocks
construction paper
colored paper

This is a two day activity.

1. Remind students what a vivid verb is.... A verb is an action word and a vivid verb is where you can actually 'see' the action in your head. The students will whisper to shoulder buddy first!

2. Use power point projector to act out vivid verbs from the book. Ask students if they 'see' them in their head. Celebrate students who demonstrate for class.

3. Talk about the weight that a vivid verb holds in your paper. If have even just one it makes your paper so much better. Put scale out and show students that blah verbs like jump, run, sit, talk, etc. These are like pebbles. They don't weigh a whole lot at all. Vivid verbs represent the large rocks. Even if you only have one vivid verb, it has a whole lot more 'weight' than the blah verbs. Show on scale with one vivid verb. Give each student a rock and tell them to put a vivid verb on it. Have them put it in a jar and display the jar for the rest of the year so it is a visual representation of what a vivid verb is....

4. Read The Homeless Christmas Tree explaining that this is about a tree in Fort Worth. The author and illustrator all are from FW. Point out the vivid verbs in the story and ask how they paint a picture in your mind. The students must give you a thumbs up every time they hear a vivid verb in the story

5. Students will write a paragraph answering the questions- Pretend you had the chance to decorate the homeless Christmas tree for any holiday you want (it doesn't have to be a calendar holiday, you can even make it up!), what would it be and why?- from the overhead. Tell students that they need to focus on vivid verbs and having really excellent verbs in their papers that describe the tree.

6. After they revise and edit their rough copy, they will write a final draft onto paper.

7. Students will draw and decorate their own tree on half of a piece of paper. Glue onto large construction paper. Share if time.

Here are some pictures from our trees...


Have a wonderful day!!


Thursday, December 6, 2012

Just thought I would share my class website with you all in case you would like to get any ideas for your own website! It is www.tinyurl.com/missradka

Enjoy and let me know what you think!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

A few of my classroom favorites...

Here are a few of my classroom decor favorites! My absolute favorite is the 'today we celebrate' sign.. At the end of every day we write down a few things that we should celebrate from the day. I love this because it ends the day on a positive note and it is a great 'come together' activity for the end of the school day.

We also have made the song 'I was here' by Lady Antebellum our 4th grade theme this year. We are trying to incorporate this in everything we do and we talk about the importance of 'leaving our mark' on the world.

My student teacher did such a fabulous job on our door! So impressive! :-)

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

My 4th grade classroom!

After a small stint in 3rd grade last year, I've moved back up to 4th grade with my class of 3rd graders!! What a wonderful experience I'm getting! Since I had to experience my 4th move in 4 years, I thought I might post some pictures of my new classroom... Enjoy!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

3rd grade wonder

OK, so I know that it has been a ridiculously long time since I last posted. I apologize. Now that we are on Christmas break I decided that I needed to update the blogging world on the school happenings this year. First things first, I am now teaching 3rd grade. Same school, new grade. Actually, about 10 teachers ended up switching grade levels. This was a much needed shake up for our school and I feel that although, it has been tough for all at some point, it has been so great at bringing us closer as a staff. 

Second thing, I am now teaching all subjects. Before, I was just the English Language Arts junkie (I love reading so much that I can definitely call myself a junkie) but now, I am trying to be ELA, SS, Science, AND Math junkie. Challenging to say the least, my brain has a hard time thinking mathematically so it has required much reading, researching, and looking at my fellow bloggers ideas to finally feel comfortable with it. 

Third, I am training our entire staff in Write from the Beginning this year. Have you heard of it? It is part of thinking maps. You can go to it here: http://www.thinkingmaps.com/.


It is an AMAZING writing program. I have written about it in previous posts but oh man, I have seen such a difference in our kids writings. It is a vertically aligned writing program that goes from K-8 and then it could potentially go all the way to 12th grade. I started using it with my kiddos two and a half years ago and I am seeing such wonderful results from those kids and from my kids now.  Now that I am training our whole school in it, students will come to me ready to keep building on what they already know. This summer, I had a chance to go the training of trainers for the second time to hear Jane Buckner, the author of Write from the Beginning (WFTB) do the training in Colorado. (They do the trainings all over, I just wanted to go the Denver). She really put it in perspective about how kids can organize their thoughts so much better using thinking maps, how the mini lessons make writing fun and interesting, and how you can incorporate everything spectacular writing lesson that you are already doing with WFTB. In addition, it is great because it can be modified for whatever writing level your students are at. I know that this is a big year in Texas because of the new STARR test. Our 4th grade students are going to be expected to write 2 essays- one narrative and one expository. Other states already do this but it is a difficult transition when you are so used to narrative writing only. This is going to get our students so ready to make 4s on BOTH essays. There is a school in the district I teach in that uses WFTB religiously. A few years ago, they made the highest number of 4s in the entire state of Texas. And no, I am not getting paid to say all this, I just know it works. haha. This is a sample of the process that I expected of my 3rd grade students in October for a Writing Benchmark. 

This is an example of a 2nd/3rd grade writing model that I did with my class. 

 Sorry, it got a little messed up... it is a 3 day modeling process and this is just what happens on Day 3 of being on the board... :-)

We still had to work on conclusions... obviously.... and this was my rough draft BUT, the final process of my kiddos was very similar. ALL our hard work up to this point is paying off. Gotta keep trucking! Look in to Write from the Beginning though. You won't regret it...

Lastly, I have been busy just loving on my 3rd graders. I have the BEST class this year. Oh my goodness, I adore them. They are SO interested in everything that we are doing in our class. They set their own goals and meet them, they are self-motivated, they give the best hugs, and they make coming to school everyday such a privilege. 

What a wonderful year, thus far. I will work very hard to post some of the other things that we are doing this year. Hope your advent season has been joyous! Merry Christmas!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Hey all! I'm sorry I have been so busy lately and I haven't been blogging... A few things have been happening...

First of all, I was chosen as a new Great Expectations Instructor Intern... so, if I make it through this week then I will be chosen as a new GE instructor. I went to my first training day yesterday and it was so exciting. This year the theme is "Children of Poverty" and we got to hear the wonderful speaker, Dr. George Henderson. It was very eye opening. One of my favorite quotes that he said was, "Find the gems in your class, dust them off with a great education, and allow them to shine!" He also said that there are many gems that never get dusted off and we as teachers are responsible for dusting them off.

Secondly, my district has been going through major changes and there were quite a few teachers who last their job on Friday. Yes, there is a chance that they could get re-hired back but it is just scary. I was blessed enough to have taken my ESL certification test right after spring break and that is what saved me. Keep praying for the teachers in Texas, especially those of us on probationary contracts.

Lastly, TAKS is coming up and we have been busy preparing for it.

SO, No worries, life will get a little less crazy in about 3 weeks.... I will be busy updating stuff from my classroom then...

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Show not Tells!

I wanted to share with you one of our descriptive language mini lessons. Using show not tell is an excellent way to be descriptive without actually saying the feeling word. We talked about how to show an emotion without saying it... I modeled being angry, sad, excited, etc. etc. then we described it without saying that word. Next, the students partner modeled to each other these feelings. Then, each student was assigned a word and they had to draw that feeling and write a few sentences about it without saying that word. Finally, I put them on a tree map on my wall to remind us to use show not tells. This was the end project... 

Some of my favorites....

Have a wonderful evening! Peace, love, and teaching!