Friday, October 7, 2016

Fall Mentor Text-Pumpkin Town!

Happy Fall!  Fall is my absolute favorite season!  I love everything about it....the cool Ohio temperature, the various fall smells that range from apple pie to pumpkin spice lattes at Starbucks.  I love driving around to see the yellow, orange, and red leaves....and don't forget about all the PUMPKINS! There is nothing better than heading out to the pumpkin patch with your family and searching for the plumpest, most colorful pumpkins for the front porch.

Speaking of pumpkins....have you ever read the book about a small town that was overtaken by an abundance of pumpkins?  One of my favorite books in my fall collection is called Pumpkin Town! which is written by Katie McKy.  Pumpkin Town! is about a few brothers that accidentally scatter pumpkin seeds over a small town.  In turn, the small town is filled with pumpkins of all sizes.  The brothers secretly make their wrong right and is then rewarded in return.  I love that this book teaches about taking responsibility and having a strong worth ethic.  This is a great message for kids of all ages!

Pumpkin Town! can be used for so many activities when it comes to reading and writing. It is also perfect to discuss adjectives.  Especially comparative and superlative adjectives.  Before reading this book, I have found it helpful to review adjectives.  Review what an adjective is, what it does, and how it can enhance your writing.  There are so many awesome adjective activities out there.  My students created an adjective flip chart to add to their writer's notebooks.  This flip chart is a tool that the students can use any time during the year when they need to make their writing more descriptive.  The activity has helped the students compile a sea of adjectives that they will be able to refer back to throughout the year.  And of course, it's always helpful to watch quick videos to review adjectives (BrainPop Jr. and Flocabulary).  Here is an example of the flip chart I created for my students.

First, I read the book Pumpkin Town! to my students for enjoyment.  The students thought the story was really funny.  Of course, after the text, we discussed the message and a few character traits we
could give the characters in the text.  Next, I read through the text a second time with the purpose of students listening for adjectives.  Students would stop me when they would hear a describing word. My students came up with the idea of telling me where the adjective would go on our flip book.   So, I quickly made an anchor chart so that we could make a list throughout the story.  The students had their flip books out on their desks as well.  This was a good time for to me to observe who had an understanding for adjectives and who still needed more time.

Once the students found some adjectives in Pumpkin Town!, I thought it would be helpful to dig a little deeper into the language standard. A Common Core standard for third grade is for students to form and use comparative and superlative adjectives; and to choose between them depending on what is to be modified.  I have included a freebie of an adjective flip book that introduces and teaches comparative and superlative adjectives.  My students enjoyed completing this flip book.  We glued it down into our writer's notebooks so we can refer back to it when needed.  

I hope you enjoy this book as much as my students did!  Enter the giveaway below and good luck!

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Sunday, October 2, 2016

Let's Be Stress-Free! (or at least try

Wow, it has definitely been awhile since I last wrote a post.....In fact, it's been 3 months.  3 months?!?!  What have I been doing?   Did I go vacation all summer?  Was I ill?  Was I moving across the country?  The answer to all these questions  I really don't have much to say about what I have been doing the past 3 months.  I spent about a week out of town in August, but that's it.  So, why did I not write a post the past few months?  Honestly, I think it all has to do with one thing:  stress.

I ended the last school year exhausted.  It was a very, trying group of students last year.  Plus a lot of other factors took place last year that were pretty stressful.  I needed the summer desperately to relax, regroup, and re-energize.

But honestly, my summer wasn't exactly the most relaxing of summers.  My daughter ended up with head lice from a helmet while playing softball a few weeks into summer (I'm so embarrassed to even say she had it).  I learned that my 4 year old son is extremely allergic to all kinds of bug bites which resulted in some infections.  Plus, I went on a 10 hour car ride with my in-laws.  It wasn't what I would call a summer of re-energizing.  By the time mid-August came around, I was ready to get back into the grind of the school year.

Within a week into school, a rainstorm hit the town I teach in and my school was flooded.  Luckily, we were only out of school for 2 days while several teachers and community members helped clean up the damage.  And by the second week of school, I was diagnosed with shingles.  Yep.....shingles.  Seriously?!?!  I thought I was too young for this!  Have you ever had shingles?  This was my first (and hopefully my last) time with shingles.  So....P.A.I.N.F.U.L!

Now that I have recovered from my shingles,  I have thought a lot about how to lower the stress in my life.  The school year can be super hectic between lesson plans, grading, my children's homework, and after-school extracurricular activities.....and I didn't even mention making dinner, laundry, and maintaining a clean household.  So, what can I do to reduce my stress and keep my body healthy?  I have come up with a plan to reduce my stress in the classroom and hopefully these ideas can help you too.

 Tip 1: Learn to say no
I definitely have a very bad habit of saying yes to everyone and everything.  I am a people-pleaser. I want everyone around me to be happy and I will do whatever is asked of me in order to be helpful.  But there is a difference between being helpful and saying yes to everything.   People come to me at school for things because they know I will help and put their needs first.  I need to realize that I have a choice and that I can say no.  People aren't going to view me as lazy or selfish by saying no sometimes.

Tip 2:  Make time for myself
I don't know about you, but I don't feel like I find time to even sit or use the restroom during the school day.  I decided that I need to make time for myself during the school day.  Sounds crazy, right?!?  But for the past week, I have been spending my lunch break at school in my classroom with a book.  My feet are propped on a chair, my sandwich in one hand, while my book is in the other.  And no....not a "teacher book."  A book that is meant for enjoyment.

Tip 3:  Let things go
There are so many things in the education world that are out of our control. As much as we would like to change certain things in education for the better, we can't.  I've noticed that I tend to dwell and complain about the crazy things we encounter during a school year that are completely out of our control.  Some are not even worth wasting the energy on because they can't be changed.  I need to let things go.  Just keep doing my best, love my students, and let the things out of my control go.

Tip 4:  Drink a lot of water
Have you ever dismissed your kids at the end of the day and notice that you hardly took a drink of water all day long?  This has happened to me a lot, which then results in a horrible headache.  Last week, I bought myself a large, insulated traveling cup with a straw.  This past week, I drank 32 oz of water by the end of the day.  That is really good for me considering I was drinking hardly anything by the end of the day. PLUS, I didn't leave school with a headache!

Tip 5: Go to bed no matter what
Sleep is super important.  I love my sleep.  I have a son that doesn't sleep through the night due to insomnia so I need as much sleep as I can get.  I am setting a bedtime and sticking to it, no matter what.  If I am not done grading papers by 9:00, then oh well.

Tip 6: Smile more
A smile can go a long way.  A teacher in my building at the beginning of the year asked me what was wrong one day.  I told her nothing and was slightly confused by her question as we passed each other in the hallway.  She quickly said that I looked really sad or upset.  Honestly, nothing was wrong, but my facial expression said the opposite.  A smile can go a long way and I need to work on just smiling for no reason.  Smiling can make me happy and it can be pretty contagious.  So what am I waiting for?!?

I am 34 years old and just started my 11th year of teaching.  These tips seem simple and easy.  I'm sure all of you reading this probably already do these simple things.  I am way too young to be stressed out and suffering through the pain of shingles.  I am taking a vow to do my best this year and to keep myself happy, healthy, and stress-free.  I'm sure there will be times that I need a reminder of these simple one is perfect, but I sure will try!