Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Retell the Story with Post-Its

A while ago I found a cool story map on Pinterest that uses Post-Its. I used the idea to make my own large story map to use with post-its for whole group mini-lessons. It is perfect for practicing retelling the story.
After we read a story as a whole class, the students retell parts of the story and I record their answers on the stickies. I usually keep up those stickies for the rest of the day or longer.
Note: I often don't record connections on stickies when we do it as a whole group as this could take forever. I let as many people as I can share their connections verbally making sure to say if it is a Text to Self or Text to Text connection first.

We have talked about how what you write doesn't need to be in complete sentences and how it doesn't have to be fancy, but you should be able to expand on your thoughts when you talk about the story.

After modeling and practicing using the story map many times during mini-lessons I gave the kids their own story map to use during Read to Self or Read to Someone. I also use the student sized version during my Retell the Story strategy group. The kids keep their story map in a clear sheet protector in their Daily 5 folders. I also gave each student their own pad of Post-Its!!! It was like Christmas, hehe. We did have a nice chat about using Post-Its for reading and to become better readers, not to pass notes to a friend. As I have walked around the room lately during Daily 5 I've noticed many of them with their folders out using their stickies to retell the story. Yes!!

Monday, August 29, 2011

ipad2, what would I do without you?

Sorry for the lame poem, but I'm finding that I don't know how I ever taught or lived without my ipad2. My school has bought several for teachers to use and after filling out an application I got one to use for the year! It even came with a pretty pink case!

I promptly brought it home, charged it, and began buying apps. What a dangerous thing that app store is! One of my coworkers and I joke that our lunches are
getting too expensive as we like to share apps with each other and then go buy them. Thankfully I have some AMAZING parents this year that donated i-tunes gift cards so that we could buy apps. My mentor also gave me a gift card as well. I am one spoiled teacher!

My kids love the ipad and I love that they love it! It combines learning with interactive fun. We use it in small groups, during conferring or strategy groups in Daily 5, to show the weather in the morning, for our vocabulary word of the day, to tweet, and as a reward. As soon as I pull out that thing I become extremely popular! Kids now BEG to meet with me during Daily 5 or be in a strategy group because they know they might get to use the ipad.

I recently put together a list of our favorite apps to share with parents and other teachers. I thought I would share it here as well. If you have a question about an app feel free to ask me!

Favorite ipad Apps (opens in google docs)

I have to note that one of MY favorite apps is teuxdeux. It's a productivity app that lets you make a web based to-do list that you can access from any compu
ter, smartphone, ipad, etc. I love it! Gone are the days of writing lists in notebooks that I can't find or putting stickies all over my desk.

The other day during parent conference the parent asked me if I would do something. I started to write a post-it but then pulled out the ipad and put it into teuxdeux. They immediately asked me what the app is! I love checking things off of my list. I even put simple things like attendance in it so that I get that feeling of accomplishment when it's done!

Happy app finding!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Awesome Read Alouds

Recently as we began to study Making Connections as a reading strategy I came across some super fun read-alouds that lend themselves to endless connections.
The first is Children Make Terrible Pets by Peter Brown. I saw this at Barnes & Noble, browsed through it, and was immediately hooked. I knew that my kids would think it was hilarious! When I saw it in our school library I checked it out pronto. The whole premise is about a bear who wants a child for a pet. The kids loved the funny plot and were giggling the whole time.

Then we read Not Norman: A Goldfish Story by Kelly Bennett. The little boy wanted any pet except Norman. Norman didn't do anything like all of his friends cool pets. What a sweet, yet fun story about pets. The text was predictable and I found the kids reading along at the end of every page with the "Not Norman" part.

Last we read Lulu and the Brontosaurus by Judith Viorst. Oh my goodness, I'm in love with this one. Lulu is a spoiled, rotten brat. She absolutely wanted a brontosaurus as a pet. She even sings a song about it. As I read it aloud in a sing song voice the kids cringed at Lulu's antics and tantrums. They laughed at her crazy adventure in the woods and the way the author talked to the reader in the middle of the book. What a fun read! The kids couldn't wait for me to read a couple chapters each day to them!
As we read all 3 of these, we practiced making text-to-self and text-to-text connections. Most of the kids had connections to wanting their own pet or something their pet could do. They also made connections between the 3 books.

What are some of your favorite books for teaching connections?

I'm linking up to the Favorite Read Alouds Linky Party at Swimming Into Second. Go check it out!

Expanding Vocabulary - Word of the Day

You'll quickly learn that I love the Daily 5 for Literacy! Our 2nd grade team pioneered the Daily 5 last year and since then we are singing it's praises. We have even led 2 rounds of workshops for the rest of our staff to get them into the Daily 5 as well. Last year I learned so much about literacy and reading and getting kids motivated to read! This year I am trying to hone in on what I am teaching and figure out the best practices to teach each strategy or skill.
One area of Daily 5 that I really wanted to improve
on was "Expand Vocabulary". I started by doing a Vocabulary Word of the Day. I use my ipad2 (another love) for one of my mini-lessons to introduce a new word each day. I use Vocabulary Builder, Grade 1 and Grade 2. It's an awesome app.

After I show the kids the word and explain it's definition they share sample sentences or meanings at the carpet. Then I have them go to their seats and write the word in the Wonderful Words Book (more on that later). They can also draw a picture next to the word.
I needed somewhere to display the word of the day so that the kids could see it and hopefully use it. As wall space is short I decided to make a word of the day display on the cabinets above my sink. I really like how it turned out.

The kids have a lot of fun with the word of the day. I find them using it often during the day and week and also finding it in their reading!

One of the most fun things we do with our word of the day is post in on twitter. The leader of the day gets to come up with a sentence that uses the word of the day which I then publish on twitter, along with the meaning of the word. I have encouraged the parents that follow us on twitter to reply to the word of the day tweet and use the word in their own sentence. The kids love seeing what their parents say! A recent example for "hustle" was "Second graders often do not like to hustle when they get up in the morning."

So far I'm loving the word of the day. It's helping my students tune into those interesting words as they become better writers and readers!

How do you help your students tune into interesting words and expand their vocabulary?

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Teaching, Second Grade Style!

Welcome to Second Grade Style! After following so many awesome teaching blogs I've decided to start my own. I love finding ideas from other people to use in my own classroom. The creative teacher in me realized it would be fun to share some of my own ideas! As a getting started introduction I thought I would share a little about my favorite things about teaching:

1. I truly love my job! Not many people can say that. While sometimes the days are long, I really feel blessed to do what I do!

2. I teach year round, which means I teach for 9 weeks and am then on vacation for 3 weeks. I absolutely LOVE my schedule! I get a vacation each season and I'm always so much more refreshed than my traditional friends!

3. Smiles and Laughs. The silly things that happen in a Second Grade classroom are endless and they almost always make me smile.

4. Technology. Oh my dear sweet friend Technology. I've always been interested in all things tech and seem to "figure out" technology things. I'm no expert but I tell my coworkers that I'll give it a try. I really enjoy using technology with my kiddos. It's so engaging, makes my life easier, and most of all makes learning fun and relevant. This year I'm totally enjoying using my brand new ipad2 that my school gave me! Yeah!

5. People. The people I work with are fantastic! I could NEVER have a cubicle job where I have zero interaction with people. I'm a social butterfly and I love working with a team.

6. Success Stories. Seeing kids grow academically and personally. What a treat it is to see a "non-reader" become a bonified, 100% enthusiastic reader! Even the littlest of victories is exactly why I became a teacher.

7. Imagination. Where else but school can you read stories using crazy voices? Where else could you play games, act out scientific processes, sing songs, and basically have a blast?? Teaching is full of creativity and imagination.

8. Design. I'm kind of a nerd when it comes to design and wanting things to look a "certain" way. Call me a perfectionist but I enjoy labeling and making things for my classroom.

9. Learning. I would never have imagined in college how much I would love teaching, and most of all how much I would learn as a teacher. Every day I learn at least one new thing!

10. Kiddos. I became a teacher because of the kids, not the assessments or objectives or my passion for a certain subject. The kids make my day and they are the reason I became a teacher!

- Julie