I've been working on a few alphabet sets. I am obsessed with polka dots, so I started with a dark pink bubble set. These are individual graphics that you can use for your classroom printables, bulletin boards, or commercial products too. They're free in my TpT store and you can look for more soon. The graphics and blog designs I'm doing are such a great creative outlet for me. I'm also have a flash 10% sale on TpT for 24 hours only to celebrate the start of the long weekend. If you have something on your wish list, now's the time to grab it. =)
We're working our way through our launching reading workshop unit and my third graders are having a lot of trouble identifying the different genres. I have posters in the room and they have a reference sheet in their reader's notebooks, but it's still difficult for them.
I like to play educational games in class so I made up Genre Twist a few years ago when my students were having trouble remembering the different genres. I
pick a genre and start telling a story. After a few sentences, I pass
the story to my neighbor and she has to pick up where I left off. I say
"Switch" every few sentences and assign a new genre. The next student
has to continue the SAME story, but pick it up in a different genre. Our
stories are always really fun as princesses, aliens, and talking
animals end up riding in covered wagons. =) Unfortunately, this year's group of students doesn't yet have a solid enough understanding of the genres to play.
We've been wrapping up reading workshop by sharing our independent books and attempting to sort them by genres, but that's still not doing the job. I tried highlighting a genre of the day... nope! still not enough. *Finally* a set of game cards seems to be doing the trick.
I whipped them up on the fly in class, so ours are hand-written. I like this because the students actually have to copy the work themselves, but it did take a bit of time (two different minilessons). I started with eight basic genres, but plan to slowly introduce more. We folded two sheets of computer paper into eighths and wrote the genre on one card and its definition on another. Then we cut them out and tried to play a matching game (like memory) with them. We used our posters and notebook reference sheet to check our answers. I still found that my students were making incorrect matches though (and not realizing it!). So we went back and added little pictures to each set (like a magic wand for fantasy or a magnifying glass for general nonfiction). Don't judge my sketches, but here's mine.
My students are really starting to make progress with the genres now, which makes our classroom discussions and minilessons so much better. I decided to make a typed set for my centers though because the students are having trouble reading each others' cards when they play partner games (memory, go fish).
I uploaded them as a freebie in my TpT store. If you like them, please take a second to leave positive feedback. I appreciate it!
Thanks for hopping through on the Back to School Blog Hunt. Be sure to check out all the other great posts. Jana at Thinking Out Loud is up tomorrow!
I've tried several different lunch and attendance systems over the years, but I think I've found my permanent solution. I've used it for a week now and LOVE it! Step One: Buy 92 cent Wal-Mart cookie sheet.
Step Two: Use painter's tape to layout your design with enough categories for all your lunch options, plus a "home" for resetting the board.
Step Three: Lay out your magnets to make sure you've left yourself enough room. I bought the magnets at Wal-Mart too and they have foam adhesive on one side. I thought this would help with the next step.
Step Four: Replace ugly painting tape with cute 88 cent decorative tape from Wal-Mart's back to school section now that you're sure the layout works. If you're like me, you'll also decide that you want the magnets to move from left to right like reading a book and flip your entire tray around. ;)
Step Five: Peel off the adhesive backing and add colorful sticker labels (you know, the yard sale kind) to your magnets. Number them for each student.
Step Six: Use a marker to label the sections with your lunch choices. I used a dry erase marker so I could change them later if I needed to, but it kept wiping off so I switched to permanent marker.
Optional Step Seven: Make one for the really awesome new teacher down the hall who said she wanted one too, but we all know new teachers have enough other things to do. =) She has a rock star themed room, so I used tape that matched her colors. It was also 88 cents at Wal-Mart.
I was able to make both boards for less than $5. Money well spent!
I know many of us read First Day Jitters by Julie Danneberg with our students during the beginning of the year. If you aren't familiar with it I won't give away the ending, but let me tell you... it's adorable! If you don't already have it, you'll want to grab it. Trust me. =)
This year, I tried something new with the story and am sharing the ZAP! game cards I made for the story with you. They're great for whole class games, partner games, and centers. I haven't used centers a ton in third grade, but I'm mixing it up this year and plan to make all new centers for reading workshop. I'm starting by slowly introducing the activities in whole class minilessons and then pushing them out to my centers after students are familiar with them.
You can grab your free set of cards in my store. Please take a second to leave feedback if you like them. I appreciate it hearing what you have to say and it motivates me to make more. =)
Not that anyone is already thinking about the end of the year, but these are the companion books you might want to buy to take advantage of the buy 3, get 1 free offer Amazon has in their 4-for-3 promotion. The Big Test is all about the class getting ready for their state test (I think we can all relate to that one!) and Last Day Blues shows the students preparing to say goodbye.
If you need a good recommendation for your fourth book, I recommend How to be Cool in the Third Grade by Betsy Duffey. It's my first whole class read aloud just about every year. It not only has a good lesson, but it's packed with lots of laughs too.
What are some of your favorite books for the first week of school?
We survived our first week of school! I've been busy bonding with my class and helping everyone settle into our third grade routines. My group is super chatty, but very sweet. Several of my kiddos from last year have already stopped by to see me too. Love that!
I shared these on Facebook earlier this week, but I wanted to make sure everyone had a chance to grab them. They're the desk nametags I'm using this year. They just look so bright and cheerful on our desks. I used the polka dots for girls and stripes for boys. I promise to be back with more ideas for you after I climb out from under the schoolwork I brought home for the weekend. =)
I squeezed in time for one last craft of the summer. I'm not sure this one really counts because it was ridiculously easy. I did opt to sew them instead of using hot glue because that's how much of a perfectionist I am, but check this out. Ribbon and button paperclip bookmarks! They'll look so cute in my lesson plan book. That's it for the leisurely days of summer crafting because tomorrow is the first day of school! The teachers go back today for meetings and a little bit of prep time, plus we have our open house from 5:00-6:30 after school. I don't know about you, but going back the very first day after summer break for twelve.whole.hours is going to be enough to wipe me out for the week. =)
I'm really excited to meet this year's group of students though. Our classroom is ready, the students desks are so neat, and Pebbles (our class hamster) is ready to make new friends. Getting back into the routine isn't easy, but luckily that doesn't last too long. I can't be the only teacher who hates early mornings, right?
July was a busy month for Design by Christi!
As summer comes to a close, I'm also reducing the number of blog designs I can make each week. I've been proud of my fast turn around times this summer, but I just can't keep up that rate during the year. I'm a full time teacher first and we all know how much work teaching is! If you're thinking about a new design, be sure to shoot me an email so I can get you on my list.