Tuesday, November 25, 2014

MENU Board for Reading Comprehension

If you've been following me for a while, you may remember once upon a time during my Classroom Tour, a picture of our class MENU Board:


This board lives at the front of our class and was originally created out of necessity, but now that we're a third of the way through the year, I am happy to report it's doing its job very well!

What is the MENU Board? Think a mix between CAFE and CRAFT-- it's a place for us to record our reading strategies in a central location that we can refer back to throughout the year.

Why not use CAFE or CRAFT? Well, originally I was. I loved CAFE from the 2 Sisters until my friend Kristen at Ladybug's Teacher Files came up with CRAFT, which I *adored*!! She incorporated the "Response to Text" column which was so important for my third graders. I loved being able to delve into the "craft" of their written responses and have these strategies prominently displayed on our bulletin board.

My Dilemma? This year, I am job sharing, so my bulletin boards needed to be split so we could each have our space. No problem, but the board in the front couldn't support CRAFT. I was so bummed, but I had to think of a new acronym, since I didn't feel going back to CAFE would adequately address the needs of my third graders.

MENU Board


I came up with MENU and have been able to somewhat effectively move and categorize the top strategies I loved from CRAFT and CAFE to work in this new format.

M: Meaningful Reading 
(a lot of my Accuracy and Fluency strategies go in here, along with "What good readers do" types of things)
E: Explain in Writing 
(this is the "Response to Text" that I loved and adored)
N: New Words & Vocabulary 
(here's where the decoding, reference, and even grammar skills come in)
U: Understand the Text 
(basically all comprehension strategies, both for fiction and nonfiction)

Although this isn't as comprehensive as CRAFT, it is more grade-level based than CAFE was for us, and I am thrilled that I am still able to incorporate this strategy board in our classroom.

How do I use our MENU Board? I will typically begin the year with my Fiction Reading Strategies Posters and Brochures. I will use the posters in my Teacher Time, but will put the general strategy on our MENU Board to refer back to later. As we talk about any new skill or strategy related to reading, even if we make a separate Anchor Chart or have posters displayed, I will write a short sentence to add to the Board. Because classroom displays change all of the time, and because they may not always have the posters in close proximity, I want this board to be able to jog their memory and hopefully help them during their reading.

Having Students Keep Track: This next part was new to me, but I tried it out due to space constraints. As we continue to add to the board, I anticipate running out of room. Also, as kids work with me in small group or a partner, or even independently, they may not be able to see the board quickly. My solution was to enlarge the MENU Board on an 11x17" paper and have kids copy down the strategy every time we add it to the board. Obviously, an added benefit is they are writing it down, so it's getting into their brains in another way, but for me it was originally just to have quick access to the Board no matter where they were.



We'll continue to add to this as we go through the year and this stays in the "Teacher Time" part of their Reader's Workshop folder.

If you're interested in picking up the title cards, lined paper, and the Student MENU Board, they are available as a freebie on Google Docs HERE.

Biggest Bonus? We use my Reading Response Menus for weekly homework, so the "MENU" theme really gets supported! Sidenote: I always thought that if I wasn't a teacher, I'd love to be a cook, so maybe it's all coming together in this random way instead ;) The added good news is that a lot of these strategies are reinforced in their Response Menu homework, so they can think "MENU" while working on their Menu!

Let me know any questions you have and I am happy to do more follow-up posts as the year progresses and our Board grows!


Sunday, November 23, 2014

Growth Mindset Resource Round-Up

We have been working with weekly goal setting and it has been a wonderful lesson for my kids so far. Each Friday, they work to develop SMART Goals and check in with their Goals Partners to reflect on last week's goal or progress toward the goal.

To see my previous posts on SMART Goals, click HERE.

To see our class goal reflection sheet, with info about Goals Partners, click HERE.

One thing I want to come of all of this is for kids to have a Growth Mindset. I know that my kids will often feel that if they didn't reach their goal, there is a black mark on their record, which is of course not the case!


If you aren't familiar with Dr. Carol Dweck, here is a great video to quickly explain the differences between a Fixed and Growth Mindset:



I know you've heard some examples of the Fixed Mindset from your kiddos, as I have with mine. Nothing is sadder than hearing my thirdsters say they are bad at math, they can't read well, they will never be able to memorize their times tables, etc. I'm hoping that by helping them learn about the Fixed vs. Growth Mindset, we can change their perspective to remove these limiting beliefs and help their goals become even more attainable and rewarding.

Since we're now off for Thanksgiving, I'm spending this time collecting some resources to share with my students to help them wrap their minds around the Growth Mindset. I want to pass them along to those of you who have undertaken this goals exercise in your classrooms as well. If you know of any I haven't mentioned here that have worked well in your classrooms, please leave them in the comments below. I also highly suggest pinning from the link I provide so you can get to the original source.

The Force Growth Mindset


Pin It: http://www.pinterest.com/pin/124552745920100081/

This poster is ideal for many of my kids who are Star Wars fanatics. I'm also a huge fan myself (examples in my TpT Store to support this!), so I know this will be making a frequent appearance in our room. I mean, whatever has Yoda has to be wise, right?

What Can I Say to Myself? Chart


Pin It: http://www.pinterest.com/pin/124552745918842226/

This Anchor Chart has made the rounds on social media for a while now, but it's always worth revisiting throughout the year. I think it's important to make this with your students as you talk about the choices they make in the way they speak to themselves. We stress using kind words with others so much, but oftentimes kids (and adults!) are much harder on themselves than they are on other people. The power of positive self-talk and reaching goals is an important connection to make and this chart is an ideal way to give concrete examples of what to say.

Growth Mindset Video



Pin It: http://www.pinterest.com/pin/124552745920100012/

I love showing these kinds of videos with the writing hand and cartoon-ish graphics. Is there a name for this style? Anything with a Sharpie always gets my vote, and I think this is a useful way to introduce the concept of Growth Mindsets to your students in an engaging way. I love how it mentions Steve Jobs and that your brain is a muscle that needs to be used to get bigger.... perfect!

The Dot


Pin It: http://www.pinterest.com/pin/124552745920100176/

One of my most favorite picture book is The Dot, by Peter H. Reynolds. If you look this up on Pinterest, you will find hundreds of wonderful activities and even an International Dot Day in September! Whether you choose to do a lot or just a little, I think using this book to talk about Growth Mindsets is a great tool. I think kids at every age level can relate to the main character at the beginning and watching the transformation throughout the book is both powerful and inspiring. Use this video if you can't find the book, but I have found my kids going back to this book over and over again, so I highly recommend the hard copy for your classroom :)

Mountain Climbers Formative Assessment Posters



Being surrounded my mountains in Colorado, we use these guys all.of.the.time. The metaphor of climbing a mountain to achieve a goal is a very concrete way for kids to conceptualize their "journey". I have them use these terms with their Goals Partners as well as with me when we check-in throughout the week. These posters come with and without numbers, so you can have them use the wording or just the number to keep it quick. I love this system since it refers to the effort needed to reach a goal and that even at the top, there is work to be done in teaching and helping others (another great lesson from The Dot!).

These are available in my TpT Store HERE.

I hope these resources come in handy and can help support your goals work in your classroom. Please let me know of any other helpful tools in the comments-- there are lots more out there and I'd love to know what has worked in your class!



Saturday, November 22, 2014

Operation Underdog

As teachers, we naturally have very giving hearts.  We always want to help, expecting nothing in return.  Well, today, I'm going to invite you to something really special that I am happy to be a part of.  My teaching heart jumped at the chance to contribute to a really wonderful cause, and I hope that your teaching heart jumps at the chance to support it, as well!

During the month of November, TpT is helping to support a fundraiser for Operation Underdog.  Operation Underdog was brought to my attention by Joey Udovich of Creating, Teaching, and Sharing.  Her childhood friend is the co-founder of this amazing animal rescue that is in need of some monetary support.  In an attempt to help, Joey invited 30 top TpT sellers to contribute to some pretty amazing resource bundles that are now being sold at OVER 1/2 off!  The proceeds from this shop go directly to Operation Underdog's medical funds for adequate vetting, transportation services for animals in need, and basic supplies, such as food.

Here is what we are HAPPILY offering you!
To visit these bundles, please click on the pictures below.

THIS BUNDLE IS VALUED AT OVER $70!!
YOU CAN PURCHASE IT FOR $30!!
♥ Deanna Jump - Need for Speed Addition and Subtraction Fluency Practice
♥ Deedee Wills - Fall Roll, Say, Keep-Editable Sight Word and ABC Game
♥ Cara Carrol -  Do You Hear What I Hear? {The Ultimate CVCE Practice Packet!}
♥ Babbling Abby - Spelling for All Seasons {Part One}
Spelling for All Seasons {Part Two}
 Simply Skilled in Second - Writing Templates for Writing Centers and Interactive Notebooks
♥ Erica Bohrer - Classroom Pets
♥ Karen Jones - Word Family Sliders {with 39 short and long vowel word families}
 Susan Jones-TGIF - Phonics Poetry for Grades K-2
♥ Reagan Tunstell - Sight Word Stick Centers

****************************************************************************


THIS BUNDLE IS VALUED AT OVER $60!!
YOU CAN PURCHASE IT FOR $25!!
♥ Teaching With A Mountain View - Money Task Cards { Coins & Dollars }
 Shelley Gray - Get Up and Move! {A Basic Operations Gallery Walk COMBO PACK}
♥ Amy Lemons - Workin' On Word Problems
♥ Lory Evans - Math Assessment - Money - How Much Is That Doggy In The Window?
♥ Deb Hanson - Main Idea & Details craftivity for lower grades (matching main idea & details)
♥ Ashleigh - Common Core Informational Writing - A Complete Writing Unit
 Flapjack Educational Resources - QR Code Math Fun Bundle (2nd-3rd Grade)
♥ Third Grade Thoughts - Revised Bloom's Taxonomy Bundle {Posters + Fiction Brochures}
 Tessa Maguire - Open Ended Passages and Questions for 2nd Grade
♥ Common Core and So Much More - 3rd Grade - 30 Reading Fluency and Comprehension Passages - Fiction & Nonfiction

****************************************************************************


THIS BUNDLE IS VALUED AT OVER $80!!
YOU CAN PURCHASE IT FOR $35!!
♥ Runde's Room - Writing Revision Activity Bundle
♥ Nicole Shelby - Flippin' Through the CCSS: Flip Flaps for Reading Notebooks-Grades 3-5
♥ Kristine Nannini - Analyzing Characters Pack {Common Core Aligned}
♥ Blair Turner - Independent Reading Resource Pack
♥ Rachel Lynette - Informational Text Task Card Bundle: 3 Task Card Sets CCSS Aligned
♥ Joey Udovich - Fix It! Sentence Rings
♥ Jennifer Findley - Constructed Response Practice and Assessment CCSS Aligned {Paired Passages Set}
 Teaching In Room 6 - Character Traits in 5 Days: Lessons to Teach Character Traits
♥ The Science Penguin - Life Science Informational Text Cards
♥ Christi Fultz - Math Board Games with Task Cards Solve N Slide BUNDLE
♥ Ladybug’s Teacher Files - Editable for Numbering Genre Library Labels (Consistent Colors)
♥ Laura Candler - Math Stations for Grades 3 - 8

****************************************************************************
Operation Underdog is a NON-PROFIT ORGANIZATION.  That means that 100% of their operating costs are paid through private donations and fundraising efforts.  The women that proudly established this rescue, have also been known to use their own money to save the animals in their care.  

"We help animals that have been dealt a cruel hand in addition to the unfavorable circumstance of already being a stray or a shelter animal. It is our goal to help those most in need. This includes animals with all manners of injuries and illnesses who might not receive help elsewhere. In order to commit to animals experiencing medical emergencies or those in need of surgical procedures, we need to first be sure that we have ample funds to cover the needs of the animals that are already with our organization."



***************************************************************************


"By purchasing one or more of these bundles, you will be aiding in our vet bills, the cost of transportation, and supplies that are needed by SO many animals.  You are TRULY making a direct impact on the lives of many animals.  Operation Underdog is a nonprofit organization, so we rely solely on fundraising, events, and the charity of people simply wanting to help."

If you're interesting in adopting one of these cuties, email Operation Underdog at


Please visit Operation Underdog on Facebook by clicking the link below.  "Like" their page to bring more awareness to animals in need.  Remember, WE can make a difference!

To learn even more about this fundraiser, or to read up on the animals above, along with a few more of their friends, visit Joey's blog!

From the absolute bottom of our hearts, we THANK YOU for helping these animals.  The next time you need a furry friend, please consider getting one from your local shelter or rescue.  



Sunday, November 16, 2014

Teachers Thanking Teachers

I am so excited for today and tomorrow! I am teaming up with some of my most favorite intermediate bloggers and TpT Authors to bring you two days of Teachers Thanking Teachers!


We are so grateful for you and want you to know by sharing some of our newest products with you all. I'm sharing my newest and most seasonally-appropriate resource: Wintertime Brain Breaks


It's been freezing and snowy here in Colorado this past week, so these have been a lifesaver after three days straight of indoor recess.


These set of ten unique Brain Breaks are quick and easy to implement and need no additional resources or prep time at all. They can be used for transitions, to break up long periods of worktime or sitting, or just to have fun at the beginning or end of class.

To read more about Brain Breaks, check out my previous posts HERE and HERE.

To find out how to assemble these and any of my other Brain Break sets, click HERE.

Pick up my newest Wintertime Brain Breaks in my TpT Store HERE.


I've also *BUNDLED* all of these wonderful Brain Breaks together in two choices: Holiday & Complete.

The Holiday Bundle consists of:


- Spelling & Word Work: http://3rd.gr/Spelling_BB
- Halloween: http://3rd.gr/Hallow_BB
- Thanksgiving: http://3rd.gr/Thxgiving_BB
- Wintertime: http://3rd.gr/Winter_BB
- Christmas: http://3rd.gr/Christmas_BB
- St. Patrick's Day: http://3rd.gr/StPats_BB
- Earth Day: http://3rd.gr/EarthDay_BB

Pick up the Holiday Bundle in my TpT Store HERE.

The Complete Bundle consists of:


- Best-Selling Brain Breaks for the Classroom: http://3rd.gr/brain_breaks
- Spelling & Word Work: http://3rd.gr/Spelling_BB
- Halloween: http://3rd.gr/Hallow_BB
- Thanksgiving: http://3rd.gr/Thxgiving_BB
- Wintertime: http://3rd.gr/Winter_BB
- Christmas: http://3rd.gr/Christmas_BB
- St. Patrick's Day: http://3rd.gr/StPats_BB
- Earth Day: http://3rd.gr/EarthDay_BB

Pick up the Complete Bundle in my TpT Store HERE.

Thank you again for your continued support! Your impact in my life has been something so special and I am forever grateful for your comments, messages, and feedback. I am extremely thankful for each and every one of you and hope you enjoy this upcoming Thanksgiving season surrounded by loved ones and lots of well-deserved R&R.



Friday, November 14, 2014

Reflecting on Our Weekly SMART Goals

Every Friday, we are setting aside time to reflect on our goals for the week and continue them or create new ones. This practice fits in beautifully with our Leader In Me program and helps to cultivate student responsibility, especially in the areas of homework and classroom behavior.

If you haven't checked out my previous post on creating SMART Goals and our classroom board, be sure to read that HERE.

Today, we began by jotting down some thoughts and reflections on our Weekly Goals Reflection Sheet:

We went through an example goal together and worked on explaining why a goal was or was not accomplished this week. This provided some *fantastic* discussion about learning from "failures"-- and my kids really got the chance to understand that not achieving your weekly goal was more about a learning experience than just a perceived black mark on their week. We also looked back at the SMART Goal sheet from last week and many could see why they did not achieve their goal based on one or more parts of that acronym (mainly, Attainable).


I had them attach their sticky note goal to the blank square and then judge themselves on their effort put forth to achieve this goal. This was to reinforce that even if you didn't hit the goal, the energy and effort you put into it matters. My kids were surprisingly honest with this and even those who did achieve their goal gave themselves straight or frown faces because they felt their goal wasn't challenging enough.... perfect feedback to consider when making next week's goals!



The last section is all about "Next Steps" they will take with the upcoming week's goal. Will it be a continuation? Will it build on last week's goal or be something new altogether? Why? I wasn't too stirct with this last section since I wanted them to brainstorm some ideas for their new sticky note.

The last thing I had them do was to find a Goals Partner. I let them choose the person they wanted to work with because I wanted it to be a friend that they felt comfortable sharing with as well as someone they actually wanted to check in with throughout the next week. They shared their reflection sheet from last week together and chatted about next steps for a few minutes. I had them jot down their partner because I plan on using this system frequently and build upon what a good Goals Partner does (and does not do, ha!) to help their friend reach their goal.



I am fortunate to have a friend (and Goals Partner, I suppose!) who always encourages me to write WOW Goals, or Within One Week Goals. This was the perfect acronym for my students and fit in with our goals timeline, so today we adjusted the first sentence to read, "Within one week, I will... I'll know I've made this goal because..." and we hung this wording right below our SMART Goals chart.


Although this is only Week 2 of our SMART Goals work, I am already seeing some improvement with their wording and especially the Attainable goals they are writing. I have seen quite a few kids stay on the same path, but others hop around, and many are creating goals for themselves that I would have never thought to include. I love how they've grasped the structure this provides and I'm hoping with the incorporation of Goals Partners, next week's reflections will be even stronger and their goals even more successful.

If you're interested in the Weekly Class Goal Reflection, it's available as a freebie in my TpT Store HERE.

Now, to think of my own WOW Goal for next week...

Friday, November 7, 2014

Working on Weekly Class SMART Goals

Are you required to create SMART Goals for yourself as a teacher?

We've had this acronym around for a while and I decided to try it out with my class this week as our goal-setting was feeling too broad and unfocused.

If you haven't heard, SMART Goals stand for:

I've seen "R" stand for "Relevant", "Realistic", "Recorded,", "Results-Oriented", "Rewarding", and more!! Choose what fits your class best :)

Several of these words weren't easy for the kids to understand, so we spent some of the morning talking through each point and giving some examples and non-examples of each.

We came up with this mini-anchor chart that's now hanging in the back of our class:


I gave them the direction of "weekly"-- I want them to start small and we can work out from there. Plus, our Friday mornings have this perfect chunk of time for reflection, so I'm hoping this short time period will help kids reach some manageable goals and be able to feel a sense of accomplishment at the end of each week.

Every student then received a sticky note. I had them put their name on the back and I gave them two sentence starters for the front:

  • In one week, I will....
  • I know I've made my goal when...

This was the first week we've done this work, so I wasn't expecting perfection, but I was pleasantly surprised with how many kids could now generate some legitimate goals for their week ahead. Several revolved around homework, some dealt with classroom behavior, and others with academics.



As they finished, I had them place their notes on a large piece of chart paper I had laminated and titled, "Our Class Goals":


We are a "Leader in Me" School, so these goals worked perfectly with Habit #2: Begin with the end in mind.

This chart is now hanging in the back of the classroom with their stickies in their Class Number spots and will be clearly visible to them throughout the week. It will become a focus piece during our Morning Meeting and I am excited to reflect on these each week to see how well we did. I will share our reflections (as well as "Rewarding" ideas) in a later post, but in the meantime, I hope this gave you some ideas for how you can set up goals in your own classroom this year!

Happy Friday!