Sunday, April 26, 2015

It's a New Georgia Blog with FREEBIES!

I am so excited to be part of a new adventure!  I am joining about 30 other Georgia  Elementary School bloggers to create an exclusive, collaborative blog chock FULL of tips and treats JUST for Georgia teachers!!! I'd like for you to meet...



For the first blog post we are doing a blog hop full of FREEBIES!  And not just any freebie, a freebie that is tailored for the end of the year.  The kids are wild, the weather is warm, and we are all holding on for dear life.  Can I get an "Amen, sista?" Each blogger has created an exclusive, end of the year freebie, just for you!

But first, let us introduce ourselves.


My name is Mandy Gregory!  I am the author of this blog as well as the website Mandy's Tips for Teachers.  I have taught 2nd, 3rd, and 4th grade in a variety of settings from gen ed, gifted clusters, ESOL clusters, as well as inclusion. I love 'em all!  I am a firm believer in a hands-on, gamed-based learning environment.  Let's make learning fun! Currently, I am a stay at home mom with two beautiful little girls.  Kinley is four and Maddie will be two in June.  We are VERY busy! So busy, the most recent family picture I have is from this past Halloween.  Squint a little and ignore the cat ears, and we look exactly the same ;).



I have a special little sweet treat, that was written specifically for second grade teachers.  In May, we still had tons of things to cover, but we also had to continuously review for the benchmarks...and they seemed to always come so early! I created this little freebie to help review!  It is a pack with 18 mixed review math questions, with geometry, word problems, place value, addition, subtraction, and more.  Really, just a little bit of everything.  It is in black and white to save your ink and I made it easy cut out for you! Students can use the questions to play either the included board game or tic-tac-toe game!



Click on the picture below to snag your copy!!




Want to win to win one of FOUR TPT gift certificates?  There will be one GRAND PRIZE of a $50 TPT gift certificate and three other lucky winners will each win a $25 TpT gift certificate!  Make sure to check out the Rafflecopter giveaway on the Primary Peach and follow along! Click on the picture below!


Want to meet the next Primary Peach blogger, Theresa, and collect another freebie?  Click below!!!


Sunday, April 19, 2015

Informational Writing with Jimmy Carter (FREEBIE)


I don't know about you guys, but somewhere around this time of year I fell apart.  I always got sick, was tired, and struggled to come up with engaging and fun lessons.  I felt like the wheels just came off!  

This was a short, guided writing activity that took about a week. While it didn't have tons of bells and whistles, my kids still enjoyed it.  It was short, to the point, and everyone was successful.

In second grade, we study famous Georgia historical figures. The last nine weeks was also review pretty much all of the standards.   I wanted to combine social studies, writing, and  grammar in context to get the most bang for my buck.   So, this writing activity was born!

My classroom was a co-taught classroom.  We had a variety of students with different needs: speech and language, ESOL, learning disabilities, and general ed.  So, we did a lot of guided practice.  We wrote a shared piece about Jimmy Carter.  Then, students wrote an informational paragraph about Jimmy Carter. We had just finished studying him, so he was a familiar topics and kids had lots of knowledge about him.


To start with, we described the writing task to students.  We were writing an informational piece about Jimmy Carter describing why he is remembered today.  Then, as a whole group we brainstormed a topic sentence. I purposely created it as a sentence frame for students to complete. 


Next, students went to their seats and wrote the topic sentence and completed their sentence frame. Students could use the topic sentence we brainstormed (and fill in the blank) or could create their own.  Honestly, all of that took about a day.  Just to set it all up and get everyone started.


The next day we did a shared writing activity with details about Jimmy Carter.  We create a web first, but I forgot to take a photo.  Here is a similar photo of a web we created about Jackie Robinson. 


Students then went to their seats and worked on a web about Jimmy Carter. You can get your copy of the web (and a blank version, too!) here.


After we created the web, I modeled writing the details in paragraph form. I also color coded the shared writing so students could see exactly what we were working on AND the parts of an informational paragraph. I only have a photo of the finished paragraph (sorry!), but the details are in red!!!


This took about two to three days for us to model and the kids to complete the web and details.

Then, we did the same activity with brainstorming a closing sentence (in blue).  We brainstormed the closing sentence as a sentence frame and students filled in the blank.


When it was time to model revising, I really wanted to focus on students choosing and using adjectives and adverbs.  We created a chart (I just did this quickly on the white board) of adjectives  that described Jimmy Carter using the word "because." We created a chart full.


The next day we created a similar chart using adverbs.


First, we brainstormed verbs of things Jimmy Carter did and wrote them in a sentence. After we created the sentences with the verbs, we brainstormed adverbs to describe HOW Jimmy Carter did the verb.  This was much more difficult for our students than the adjectives brainstorming activity.


Students can fill out the charts above to create sentences with adjectives and adverbs. Click here to get the charts!


Then, I modeled how to  choose one of the sentences with adverbs or an adjective and add it in an appropriate place in the paragraph (the purple marker). Students then edited and wrote a final copy of the paragraph. 

The whole process took about a week from start to finish.  It hit a BUNCH of standards.


Since the Jimmy Carter paragraph was so guided, students could then choose another Georgia figure (Martin Luther King, Mary Musgrove, James Olgethorpe. etc) and write their own paragraph using the same process!  Boom!  What a great grade for adjectives, adverbs, and informational writing!!!

If you are looking for more Jimmy Carter activities, I have this pack full of stuff!  He can be a bit hard to find grade appropriate materials on!



Monday, April 13, 2015

Earth Day Fun!

Earth Day is coming up!  In Georgia, it fits perfectly in third grade. There is actually science standard in the Frameworks for Pollution and Conservation.

"S3L2. Students will recognize the effects of pollution and humans on the environment.
a. Explain the effects of pollution (such as littering) to the habitats of plants and animals.
b. Identify ways to protect the environment.
             Conservation of resources  Recycling of materials"

However, it is great to touch on in the lower grades, too.  It is important for kids to see they can make a difference.  It is easy to incorporate Earth Day into ELA.

Here are a few picture books that are perfect to celebrate Earth Day.


I have gathered some activities and freebies I have found all over the internet.  Some of these are SO CUTE- and grade appropriate!


I LOVE this Lift the Flap freebie from The Primary Theme Park! I like that it can be used so many different ways- for several different age groups.  And really, I never thought of doing lift the flap this way- really clever!


This coffee Filter Earth craft from Katie's Crochet Goodies and Crafts is a classic.  I have even done it with my four year old when we studied the letter "E." It doesn't take long or require elaborate materials.  It would be a fun, quick craft if you are pressed for time. 


The Earth craft would be cute paired with this writing prompt freebie by Teaching Little Learners. It would be super simple to mount the Earth craft and prompt on construction paper and display!

The Lorax by Dr. Seuss is a CLASSIC for teaching conservation and pollution. You could literally spend all of Earth Day just on this one book.


I love this story map from Fun in First Grade!  You could make it as elaborate or simple as needed.


This cause and effect chart from is also Mrs. Richardson's Class is also super cute. While your anchor chart doesn't have to be this elaborate, I thought this book was perfect for teaching cause and effect!


You could use this adorable Lorax craft freebie from the Teaching Bug a million different ways.  He is such a sweet little peek-over!

In my store I have 



The 54 page pack includes:
Included in this pack:
• A circle map to activate prior knowledge
• 3 vocabulary cards, with photographs
• Informational article in color
• Informational article in black and white
• Main idea questions and answer key
• Main idea graphic organizer and answer key (each heading)
• Main idea graphic organizer and answer key (entire article)
• Article for scavenger hunt
• Text Feature Book with cut and paste definitions for all features in this article
• Two sets of questions, a higher and lower level, about the text features with recording sheet and answer key.
• Recyclable Materials sort with recording sheet and answer key

The text features included in this article:
• Photograph
• Heading
• Chart
• Bold, underlined print (types of print)
• Caption
• Side Bar
• Glossary

And I also have a FREEBIE for you!  It is the sorting activity from the pack!  Click on the picture below to snag it!


Have a wonderful Earth Day!

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Close Reading: Tips for Your Classroom (Part 4)

Well, I may be a bit late to the party, but least I arrived, right???



In the last few posts I really focused on Close Reading and what some of the research says.  I do encourage you to continue to research, because you can't really rely on just a few pieces to build your entire belief system or approach.



We looked at what Close Reading was and wasn't and some of the debate surrounding Close Reading.  You can read all the previous posts here:

Part Three

We know that is is just one of many practices we need implement.



So now, how DO you do Close Reading in your classroom?  After all the debate how can you take this and use it to help your readers? Before you can even BEGIN to implement Close Reading, you have to find the text.


**Warning- Soapbox Moment-  There are a million products on TpT .  Okay, maybe bot a million- just 5200 hits when I searched it.  For realz.  Now, many people like to use passages for Close Reading.  But let's think about this, can a worksheet really provide, "a text must be of the highest quality, with a richness and depth that supports and deserves deep analysis?" Maybe some can.  But I doubt all 5,200 can.  I would STRONGLY encourage you to find authentic text for kids to read. Because do you really want them to analytic readers of short passages on worksheets or analytic readers of the books that are actually in their hands?  Just a thought.  Rant over.**


 Here is what some of the research said...





I love that the article cited the "attributes" of close reading, rather than a step by step process. Because it will (and should ) vary for each text.

I know you are thinking, "This is all great, woman, but my admin wants me to start doing Close Reading as of yesterday. Just tell me what to do!!!"


I love how Shanahan just breaks it down. That is a great way to look at it when you are planning your lessons.






Still want more? Now you have the knowledge, let's see how we can use it!

I am no expert, so I turned to my good friend Pinterest to look for some resources.  I am always in awe of my colleagues.

I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this lesson on teaching students to be more critical when reading.  We all know kids want to avoid rereading like the plague. This is a concrete demonstration for why it is needed.


and this is a concrete example shared by Stuckey in Second.


I love this anchor chart for guided questions by Julie Ballew.


If you are looking for concert models of how to do this in your classroom, I found this lesson for  third grade. It uses this book.


I also found this video shared by Lisa Gray of a teacher modeling using the book mentioned in previous posts, Note and Notice! Love it!!!!!!


If you are looking for books to use for Close  Reading, I did manage to find this one list





I love this quote to wrap up this series.


Isn't that really why we do, what we do each and every day?



Friday, April 10, 2015

April is National Poetry Month!

We usually did our testing at the beginning of April, after Spring Break.  The kids were burned out, I was burned out, but I still had to teach.  I always saved poetry for this time because you can do SO MUCH with it.  You can also incorporate LOTS of art into poetry.  And I loves me some art!



Are you looking for some poetry stuff?  I thought I would do a collection of poetry resources from my website and past blog posts.

Teaching kids to write poetry is always fun.  Especially when they realize it doesn't all rhyme- there is more to poetry than cats and hats!


This poetry writing activity is not my original creation.  I learned it from a master teacher that I worked with many years ago.  I STILL want to be just like her!  In this activity, students use the poem If I Were in Charge of the World by Judith Viorst as a model and write their own version.


In my blog post I included some materials that make writing the poem easier.  I have done this many times, over many years.


I learned this at a workshop many years ago and thought it was so clever.  Yet again, it is not my original idea, but I tweaked it many times over the years  I did it with students.


You can get the printables I created to help students plan their poems here. After students wrote the poems, we created these really cool line art thingies, using the letters in their names.  You can see examples and read about how to do that in this post.


I wrote this FOREVER ago on my website.  Yet again, the idea was shared from an amazing colleague and it is NOT my original idea.  It is a mini unit with five days of writing lessons on how to incorporate similes in writing.  I used to do this in the fall with fall objects. You could easily change the season, with new objects.


To publish it, students typed their poems.  Then, we traced leaves on card stock and colored them with pastels.

If you are having a hard time finding the lessons, they are on on my website by the red arrow- the site needs some help because it is just too big and hard to navigate now!




I know this might surprise you, but I also learned this from a colleague. Seeing a theme here? We are only as great as the colleges we work with!  This is the same lady that shared the If I Were in Charge of the World poem writing activity. It is pretty much a Close Reading of the poem Grandmother's Brook. We did Close Reading before Close Reading was cool!



We carefully read the poem and discussed what we visualized.  We read over it several times and focuses on the word "brook," a relatively unused word here in the south.  Students are more like to call it a "creek." After we visualized the poem, we drew a picture of our visualizations over the poem and water color painted them.  Kids loved it.  Click here to get your copy of the poem!


This is yet another oldie, but goodie from my website.  I was inspired by some fellow teachers from the internet to create a fluency reading homework project.  My kids ADORED it. You can read more about it and get several months worth of poems, printed and ready to go here. These would also be great to use as reader's theaters for fluency practice.


Last, but not least we used poetry to infer.  I found some fantastic poems on the web that all all about inferring the topic of the poem. I didn't create or write the poems. I just put them in a booklet format.



The writer was a genius!!!  I made three different formats- from easy to most difficult.  You can get your copies, and read how I used them here.


I hope this gives you a few ideas of how to celebrate poetry month!!!