Monday, June 25, 2012

HTML Threaded Comments Nightmare and an Award

This post is kind of ironic. You see, last night I spent 3 hours (yes, you read that right) 3 hours trying to figure out how to add threaded comments/ replies to my blog. First, I need to preface with the fact that I know almost nothing about html, which probably explains the nightmare part. While I have added things to my blog before using html but all I had to do was delete one part of a code and copy and paste a new part to add. Simple, right? Well, I began this process and read article after article explaining how easy it was to do it. The instructions seemed so easy and I feel like I was following them correctly but it was just not working for me, no matter what I tried. Eventually, after almost chucking my computer across the room, I decided to revert the widget templates to default. I knew this was one option to make it work from the beginning but I was too scared to try it because I thought it would take away all the design work that I had someone set up for me. At this point, though, I had had enough of trying and re-trying to make it work so I took the plunge. And... it worked! BUT... half of my design was gone! :-( Well, as you can now see, everything is back to normal AND I have the threaded comments on my blog but boy was that a nightmare! 

Here are a couple of articles that might be a help to you if you haven’t added or been able to add this feature yet.

Here comes the irony. In the midst of me being so fed up with my blog and ready to give up on the entire thing, 2 people gave me "One Lovely Blog Award!" This was the motivation I needed to keep trying and to figure it out, so thank you Jodi, the Southern Sweetie in Second and Christa from the Sweet Life of Second Grade. Please stop by their adorable 2nd grade blogs! Thanks ladies for the motivation and encouragement!

Here's the deal. To accept this award, there are 3 rules to follow:
1. Follow the person who gave you the award.
2. Link back to the person who gave you the award.
3. Share the love! Pass the word along to 15 new bloggers.

Check out the blogs I am giving this award to... 

Thanks for being an inspiration!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Read Alouds and a Freebie

This past year in one of our morning staff meetings, I had to present an education related article to share and discuss with my fellow teachers. Having taken so many speech classes and also being an elementary teacher, of course, I had to come up with an engaging intro before letting the group read the article I brought for them to read. Since the article that I shared was all about reading and specifically reading strategies, I decided to poll the group and see what their own personal feelings were on reading. This group consisted of administrators, high school, elementary, and preschool teachers and I was quite surprised with the results. About half of the teachers shared that they did not enjoy reading! (GASP!!!) A few of them told the group they read only when they have to because they are not very strong readers and others said that they only like to read books on specific topics  like sports, for example. This got me thinking, how many of the kids in our classrooms actually like reading? And… how can we get them to like reading?
Since I began teaching 3 years ago, I feel like my biggest aim or goal as a teacher is to “make” my kids love to learn and to enjoy reading and so here are a couple of ideas that I have used (some I’ve come up with, others I learned about in school or have “borrowed” from others) that have had some success. I jokingly tell parents that I try to “trick” kids into thinking that all we do at school is play, when really, they are discovering and learning just in “un-traditional” ways. Sometime I’ll share some of the games we do that my kiddos have enjoyed but for now, I’ll address a few ways that I use (to attempt) to get kids to enjoy reading.
1.    1.   Let the kids read books they enjoy. In 2nd grade we do monthly book reports and I always let the kids choose what book they want to read. I give them a minimum page requirement and sometimes I give them a specific genre that I want them to read, but other than that, the kids (and parents, too) get to read what they want to read. I’ll share in another post some ideas about how I attempt to make book reports more fun for the kids, too.
2.     2.  Make in class reading time fun and enjoyable. I think reading groups/ reading circles/ guided reading time in smaller groups (or whatever you want to call it!) can be a very fun way to do reading class. Each group chooses the name of the group—this year we had the Boston Bruins, the Jaguars, and the D-Backs—and we gather on the rug with pillows and carpet squares and get comfy and read together. This relaxed environment definitely takes away some of the pressure of reading orally in front of others, gets kids out of their seats, and is just fun! I try to choose stories that they’ll like and have discussions that engage the kids and let them share personal experiences that go along with the story. I also like to have candy or stickers for rewards for good reading, good behavior during reading time, and good answers to comprehension questions. While I’m meeting with groups one at a time, I give the students seatwork to do which involves silent reading, a phonics practice page, and then some sort of fun academic or seasonal page like a word search or a coloring page. After that, they decide what they want to do—read, draw, color, or play with something quietly at their desks. My plan for next year is to incorporate learning centers during this “free time” so that one group is reading, one is doing seatwork, while the other are doing center activities.  Another summer project. J
3.     3.  Read fun stories TO the kids. I think that this is the time to expose the students to quality literature that they might not pick out on their own to read for a book report. I love to use picture books to incorporate into lessons for different subjects but my classes especially love when I pick chapter books to read to them. I just LOVE to leave them hanging at the end of the chapter, making them beg and thirst for more. I LOVE talking with them about what we just read and then asking them to predict what they think will happen next. I LOVE when they ask me to borrow the book when we’re finished reading it, so they can read it themselves. Can you tell I just LOVE reading to my kiddos??
Well, because of all this, one of my summer projects I want to work on is building up my classroom library and finding more awesome read aloud books to share with my class. Here’s a couple of my favorite read alouds that I already use in my class that have been a hit.

I always start the year with Peter Pan by J. M. Barrie, because it’s my absolute favorite story ever and surprisingly, a lot of kids have not even seen the Disney version of this story. Plus, for those who have seen the movie, it’s neat to discuss how the movie is the same and how it’s different from the book.  

The next book I like to read to them is a more modern story, one that works for older kids and younger kids too. It’s by one of my favorite authors for children’s books and it’s called Frindle by Andrew Clement. The kids totally eat this one up!

The Adventure of Tom Sawyer is another great one that my class has enjoyed. They love to hear about all his adventures and makes for great discussion about the wisdom in the choices he makes. It’s a little more suspenseful but the kids really like to tell me how “not scared” they are!
Last year, after reading Tom Sawyer to my class, I had a boy ask if we could read The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn since he had it at his house. Naturally, I told him we didn’t have time. Totally kidding! J I had him bring it to school and the kids enjoyed it just as much or even more than Tom Sawyer. When we finished, we were able to compare and contrast the two boys, talking about their personalities and their character and then we voted which book they liked better. Really. Fun. stuff.

These are a couple of my favorites but I’m curious, what read alouds do you use in your class? Any books you think should ABSOLUTELY be in a classroom library?

Thanks for reading!! Here's a freebie for you from my TpT store: Puppy Pronouns! This adorable clip art was purchased from Scrappin Doodles. Follow the link to download for free!


Tuesday, June 5, 2012

A Sweet Theme Decision and My First Currently!

Over the past couple weeks, my mind has been swirling with ideas for next year. I do a different classroom theme every year (I know, crazy, right?!) but I think I would get tired of seeing the same theme year after year. The way I figure it is, new class-- new theme. I initially wanted to do a puppy theme but then decided against it because well, I was having a major creativity block. I had a bunch of ideas for a crayon/ color theme which I would totally do if I was a kindergarten or 1st grade teacher but I felt like it was slightly too "little kid-ish" for my grown up second graders! I was thinking of some bulletin board titles like, " 'Orange' you glad math is fun?" "Look what we've 'Red'!" and "Let Jesus color your life!" for a fruit of the Spirit bulletin board. I scrapped the puppy and crayons (at least for this year). I already have done ice cream, monkeys, and western. Well, after not being able to fall asleep two or three nights in a row because I couldn't get my crazy brain to stop thinking about school stuff, I have finally decided to do... a... <drum roll, please!> CANDY theme. What really led me to this decision was  Reagan Tunstall's Candy Student Awards, which I bought for my kiddos for awards day this last school year, and thinking about the verse, "O taste and see that the Lord is good..." Psalm 34:8. Oh, and I also found some really adorable clip art to make labels and posters for next year.

Two words. Super. Excited.

 Here's just some of the stuff I've been working on!

All of this adorable clip art came from Dreamlike Magic and the frame on the student label was a freebie from The 3AM Teacher.


Ok, this is my first time attempting this but I'm linking up with a new blog I discovered: Oh' Boy 4th Grade.
I haven't figured out how to add the button and link to this blog though. Sorry! I'm still new at this!

Just in case you're interested, here is what's CURRENTLY going on in my life!

Right now, I am desperately wishing to go to DisneyWorld. Anyone who knows me knows that I LOVE DISNEY!! I've been to Disneyland many times but have never gotten to experience the wonders of Disney World and all its other parks. (Sigh) Maybe someday.
During Spring Break a couple months ago, my hubby and I had the opportunity to go to D.C. for a week and NYC for a day! It was such an adventure relying completely on public transportation to get us around. After getting on the wrong bus and ending up on the wrong side of town with all our luggage, trying to navigate the subways to get to our hotel at sundown, we decided that although New York City is definitely an experience, it's not something we want to experience again unless we're with someone who knows where they're going. Coolest thing (I thought) about the trip was getting to go to Carlo's Bakery (TLC's Cake Boss)!

This summer, I want to go anywhere to get out of this oven I call home-- Phoenix, Arizona! I think it's supposed to get up to 110 this week and it's only June. A little girl at the summer day camp that I work at asked me what season it was the other day. I told her that it's technically still spring based on the calendar but in Arizona, it's definitely summer!

Stay cool and stay inspired!