Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Our week on the moon and Earth

We teach thematically in our K-2 bilingual classrooms at our school.  I used to think thematic units were for pre-kinder and kindergarten, but with the success of last year I am sold!  That being said we are smack dab in the middle of our solar system unit.  The week before spring break we studied the sun, stars, and constellations in Spanish (we are continuing our studies of those topics in English this week).  The following week in Spanish we studied the moon and Earth.

Last week we started off Monday with an anticipatory sort with las fases de la luna (the phases of the moon) to see where the students were at in their knowledge of the moon phases.
Listening to the students work with their learning buddies was quite interesting.  The students all had a reason behind what they thought the moon phases should look like (putting like shapes together; starting off with a full moon and then it 'melts' away to nothing...), but none of them quite got it.


The point of the days activity wasn't to actually teach the moon phases, but an introduction to the idea.  Also, I wanted them to problem solve and figure out the pattern.  We had a lot of good discussions and I think from that point forward, I had them hooked!

 We continued with many more activities throughout our different subjects. Our dictado for the week included a bunch of our vocabulary words (along with our phonics skill - suffixes).  In writing we watched a video on Brainpop Español about la luna and we started writing our textos informativos (informative texts) with the information they we learned.




We did our texto informativo about the moon whole group, but next week they will be writing about the Earth on their own. We started adding their background knowledge for the writing by reading this book from Reading A-Z during Reading Workshop:

 (if you have an account, you can download for free!)

It was a really good, "funny," factual book.  The kids were so amazed by what they had learned and were spouting off facts to me all day:  "Teacher did you know that..."  {Um, yes, I was there.  I read the book.} Haha, no...  I was very enthusiastic with every fact they brought me.  Their excitement was contagious!  


Like I mentioned before we have a set of vocabulary that we learn with each week.  My poster isn't pretty, but it gets the job done.  The kids have their own versions in their notebooks. Next week we will bridge the vocabulary into English on the same page (different color).

I really like seeing the kids use the new vocabulary in their writing, so I had them write about what they learned about the moon and the Earth at the end of the week.  I was so surprised at the writing I got!  I challenged them to use as many vocabulary words that they got.   Probably one of my best pieces of the day came from one of my struggling readers...  I was such a proud teacher mama!

I will be honest though, it wasn't all Pulitzer Prize writing -- I had a couple who showed me, La luna es un planeta (The moon is a planet).  And that is fine -- they were showing me what they 'knew.'  It was a great time to have some mini-discussions and redirect their thoughts.  I really like teaching moments like those!


So that was our week in a shell.  This week we are moving on to the planets and astronauts, but we had a field trip on Monday and a half day on Friday - so this is going to be a tight squeeze!

What are you learning about this week!?


Friday, April 4, 2014

Five for Friday (Linky Party - April 4th)



I am happy to be linking back with Doodlebugs Teaching for Five for Friday this week...it has been awhile!

Probably one of my biggest excitements...  I got a new phone!  It is an LG2 and I feel like I am finally in the 21st century.  I had a great phone before and I accidentally put it in the wash pretty much when I got it...  That meant I had to deal with a very old school phone (or pay lots of money for a new one) until my contract was up.  No more yellow pictures (think Instagram antiquing without actually wanting that filter)...no more 10 minutes to upload one picture to my email and then another 10 minutes for another picture.  Now, I plug my phone into my computer and bam!  100 pictures ready in less than 3 minutes...

Ay!  You all are probably thinking, um, yeah, so my phone does that already...  I know, I am catching up with the rest of the world!

The best thing about this is that it means more blogging!  It was such a hassle to upload pics before (and who wants to read a blog without pictures?  Visual learner, much?)  and I was so embarrassed to post my yellow-tinted pictures, but now...  Watch out world!


Tpt Logo

I am all signed up for the Teacher's Pay Teachers conference in Las Vegas!  I am so excited! I can't believe I am actually going!  I hope I don't get too star-struck with all the teacher celebrities!

I am excited because well, first off we (hubby is coming too -- well at least to Las Vegas) don't do stuff like this...we talk and talk, but never actually do it.  This will be our first time on airplane together in nine years -- and his first time in Vegas.

Then!  Think about all that I am going to learn!  I am obsessed with making things for my classroom and my friends' classrooms and I am just excited about learning how to do more.  

Are you going to the conference, too?



April Fools in Second Grade -- Some years I am creative and others...actually most...I am not.  The thing is, these kids just love anything different, so they think I went all out.  I turned all of their desks backwards and put their chairs back up.  They were so cute when they took their chairs down, "The teacher pranked us!  Look, she pranked us!"

I also gave out April Fool's Day mats that I got through Really Good Stuff on clearance one year...I have had small classes for the last couple of years, so these have lasted a while.  Thing is, a lot of the mat had things that native English speakers would take a second to understand...like, "Very Punny," the students don't understand what a pun is -- explain that, then they made pun into an adjective, that sounds like funny, but it's not...  And they just look at you like, huh?  

Oh well, they were thrilled to work on their mats and that their teacher 'pranked' them.  I had to remind them that students don't prank teachers though...  Haha, I am no fun, but no wonder what they would have come up with!


Today is School Librarian Day...  did you know that?  I didn't either until Mailbox magazine came up in my Facebook thread this morning, announcing it was School Librarian Day!  I had to Google it real quick to see if it was a real thing (or just something Mailbox magazine made up) and it was!  We love our school librarian...we really, really do...  So we had to whip something up for her to show our love this morning.  I thought it was would be a quick 20 minute activity...75 minutes later....



Ha, ha!  She was worth it -- the kids were really proud of their work!



Phew!  This has been a long Five For Friday -- maybe I should blog more often so I don't have so much to say in one post!  Okay, my last thing...  New Products!  My close friends know I am a product hoarder...  I make all of these products with the intent of sharing them on Teachers Pay Teachers and then I just leave them in my Dropbox.  I don't know the explanation behind it...

But!  I have been getting a lot of messages asking for more syllables packs for Kinder, so I made another set... and here she is!  (Hmm, "she"...  Don't know why I feel that my packet is a girl...).  In this pack there are activities for d, j, r, and v syllables: depending on your needs you can buy the mega pack or the individual packs (links below each picture).  










Thanks for sticking around until the end!  Now to get off the computer and do some family time with this cutie!






Thursday, April 3, 2014

Spanish Phonics

In our bilingual classroom we don't "do" spelling tests.  There has been a lot of studies done that say that Spanish phonics skills are best learned through authentic writing activities, so even though we do a lot of isolated phonics practice throughout the week, we end the week with a final dictado for assessment.

This week the kids are learning about suffixes in Spanish (sufijos).  We have learned about different suffixes before this week, so I consider my kiddos experts (proud teacher mama, anyone?).  After the introduction to -able and -ible the kids did an entry in their interactive word work notebooks.  We always start off with a "title" to explain what the topic is about.  This time I left blanks for the students to show their learning.  

They know p-p-prefijos are at the p-p-principio so that means sufijos must be at the end.  Then we talked about how these suffixes can go at the end of a noun or verb to make a new word (an adjective).


They then put their page together.  They really are so good at following directions with their interactive notebooks.  They cut in the right places and glue in the right places...and believe me, it wasn't always like that, but I love that I can hand out the pieces to their notebooks and they are off and learning!

This time I provided the kids with a list of words to sort on their own.  Sometimes we do it whole group and I orally give them the words and sometimes they work on their own.  When they were done, they had to go back and highlight the sufijos in every word.


At this point of the year I still have kids who are at all different speeds of cutting...Some kids are wham and done and others, I look at the clock, and really?  15 minutes of just cutting?  So I had to come up with an activity for my early finishers.  I pulled out my sufijos center for next week.

A quick note on that.  As a school we had been seeing that these kids rock the phonics skill the week it is being taught, but then the benchmark test five weeks later, they are forgetting the skill.  So I decided to extend the lessons and the phonics center the following week reviews the skill.  That way we have all had a week practicing the skill and an extra week reinforces the skill.  So even though this is a literacy center the students will be doing next week in their small groups, they loved playing it early.


Tuesday is when I reveal the week's dictado.  I want to get more into what our dictados consist of in another post, but all of the markings on our SmartBoard are the students' observations.  So we definitely reinforce our phonics skill by finding the words in our dictado and we practice writing it in different ways throughout the week.


So that is Spanish fonética in a nutshell in our second grade bilingual classroom.  What do you do in your classroom?  I would love to hear some new ideas to use with my kiddos!





Sunday, January 5, 2014

Snowpocalypse 2014

It is official!  No school tomorrow, it's...


I saw this on Ms. Fultz's Facebook Page and I had to use it!  I love it..."because Christmas break wasn't long enough."  And yes, I miss my kiddos, but I have been loving all the time with Grace at home, so I am happy to have another day with her.  We just got hit with tons of snow in Northern Illinois and temperatures are supposed to be 15 below and up to 50 below for windchill tomorrow, so we are technically having a cold day tomorrow!

I just posted a new freebie in my Teachers Pay Teacher store (Gracieface Learning).  I originally saw this one made by Aimee Vanmiddlesworth (click here to get her English version for FREE!) and I really wanted to do this with my students our first day back, but alas it was only in English.  


So I had to make my own Spanish version (click here to get it!)....I tried to make it work for all of my students' levels.  I think they are all going to start off with the picture page and for those who can finish that, they are going to use their picture page as a brainstorming page to help them write a paragraph about their winter break.




I hope you can use this whenever you go back - either tomorrow or Tuesday...or Wednesday?!!?  :)



Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Fun and Family in 2014!

Day one of 2014 and I am back!  One of my goals of this year is to be more consistent with my blogging and the people at Blog Hoppin' have made it easy by doing this fun little linky about New Year's Resolutions.  So this week will be a lot about myself and goals, but I hope to offer some cool things (read freebies and awesome products) along the way.


 So, today's topic is Fun and Family and I tried to narrow it down to three goals in this area:


I love making lessons and creating stuff for my students, but that means me with my laptop on the couch, making stuff....with daughter playing in her playroom or handing me food that she made while I type.  I want to make time for my Gracie girl. She is growing up so fast and I want to treasure all the time that I have with her.

We went outside and played in the snow for two hours today.  No laptop, no cell phone -- just played.  And she CRIED when we had to come in.  I want that awesome quality time with her because she is just that awesome.  So even though I want to continue being the best teacher for my students, I need to carve time out for Grace and if that means I don't touch my laptop until she goes to sleep...fine.  I am literally lying next to her while she sleeps as I type this:  I will make the most out of nap times!

If you follow me on Pinterest, you will know I am constantly pinning activities for her, I want to start trying some of them out!


Electronics come into play here, too.  Hubby and I need to put down our devices and really focus on the three of us (and the two of us!).  Every summer I make a bucket list of things I want to do as a family and believe it or not, it keeps us busy.  That doesn't say much for the other seasons.  I want to go and do more...and sometimes money is an issue, but with our new focus on spending (do I dare say, budget?), we should be able to do some cool family stuff together.

We have a membership to the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago, I want to visit there more often and just do little getaways to Galena and Lake Geneva.  I also, I want to go on some good family vacations this summer.  Grace is just a sponge and I joke when we are out about giving her background knowledge (I am such a teacher), but it is true.


I debated putting this one on the list, but I'm doing it... These are pictures from 3 years ago...is it creepy that I am putting them on here?  I am so NOT pregnant right now -- that baby bump is courtesy of Gracie circa 2011, but I think 2014 is the year to get preggers again (even if the baby is born in 2015).  Grace needs a sibling and I think it is time for it.  Last year it was our plan, but I wanted to make sure my mama was doing good and healthy and it seems that all is well...  Now, this is the year for baby #2.

So..what are your Fun and Family goals for 2014?  Leave them in the comments or if you have a blog, link up!  Come back by tomorrow!

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Candy Corn Commotion!

I told my students that there is a rule in my classroom:  we can't talk about Halloween until October 1st.  So after many weeks of the kids asking me how many days it was until Halloween in September and my response being, it's still September, I am not talking about Halloween yet...they walked in October 1st, a student saw the date and they all started asking me, How many days until Halloween?!

Bless their little hearts. I know they are just really excited, but 31 days of asking how many days it is until Halloween.  I just direct them to the calendar now...count the days! :)

So I have the decorations up in the classroom and I have been gradually putting Halloween centers in the mix for Literacy and Math.  After seeing the following pin on Pinterest, I decided I was going to throw some candy corn into the mix for math this week.

This pin has just been pinned 194 times from my board, but I know it is super popular!  It got me thinking...


I decided that I would use the fact family candy corns as an art project, but I want to give the students some practice first.  So I made these Candy Corn Fact Family dry erase centers:


I made 15 of these candy corns and while we are doing Guided Math groups this week, the kids will work on practicing fact families with their partners during their games rotation.  There is just something fun about doing fact families on candy corns instead of fact triangles.  If you are interested in them, I put them in my Teachers Pay Teachers shop for only $3 these next two weeks!


Then I think at the end of the week we will make the candy corn craftivity.  I used the cute black and white template from the clipart set that I used for the math center candy corns and this is what the kiddos are going to make:

I think they will love them!  I put them as a freebie in my store if you are interested in them...



They are bilingual in the sense that one says "name" and one says "nombre," but use them how you want.  We are studying nouns right now and I thought it would be cool to do noun candy corns where the students have to write a person, a place, and a thing.  There are a lot of ideas!

I hope to link up later this week and report back on how it all went.  I hope to have some pictures of the kids in action for you all!  

Have a great week!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

What in the What?

It has been over a month since I posted.  I am rectifying that situation right now.  I started thinking that no one was missing this little side project of mine and literally in the last week, I have had five friends at school ask me why I haven't blogged and a few new followers on Facebook.  

So I am back!  I have a goal to try to post at least twice a week and I really hope everyone can give me feedback of what they would like to hear about.

In our district we have been very slow to get to Common Core.  We are all at different stages of the game, but at least at my building I can say that we are very dedicated to really learn it and to learn how it can reach our students.  Last Friday we had an in-service and learned a lot about reading for information (yea Abbie).  

I know that we are supposed to be pairing nonfiction and fiction texts each week.  So in honor of our new theme, I tried to do just that.


This is just the start of our new thematic unit (plants and life cycles) so I hope to find authentic literature to pair with our non-fiction text book.

Since this is our real first taste of non-fiction I wanted to teach the elements of non-fictional texts.  So not to overwhelm my kiddos, I am going to stick with a couple of elements everyday for this week and next week.




I am pretty proud of the kids - especially when my favorite part of teaching happens...wait for it.  The connection!  This was the mini-lesson for our reading workshop time today, so after we learned about these elements the students set off to read their own self-selected texts.  The students were so excited to find labels (rótulas) in their non-fiction books!!  I love it!

Do you have any cool ideas to help the kids get into non-fiction or exploring informational texts?  I really want to know!!!