Tuesday, April 1, 2014

April Currently!


I have been doing small chores around the house all morning and watching the 4 episodes of Parenthood that I'm behind on. Can I just say that this is maybe one of the worst shows for a hormonal pregnant lady to watch?? I've already yelled at Sarah for dumping Hot Africa Doctor and I can NOT believe Camille still wants to sell the house. Poor Zeek. :(


Spring Break. 10 glorious days all to myself. We are staying put for the week and starting on some big projects we need to finish before baby boy gets here in September. We've already made one trip to Goodwill and when I finish here I'm diving into our closets to sort out our clothes. 


There are 2 loads of laundry waiting to be folded, and two more sitting in machines downstairs. They can wait. Or, if I keep folding then I can keep watching Parenthood. Right?! :)


Anyone have a magical organizing fairy I can borrow? I am overwhelmed with all of the things we need to do before baby boy gets here. There is seriously an entire room full of stuff waiting to go to a yard sale, or Goodwill, or the dump. UGH.


Whoever said that the second trimester was a big burst of amazing energy is a big, fat, smelly LIAR. For real. I took two naps on Saturday, Sunday, and yesterday. I haven't taken any naps today, but the day is still young! :)

Hours and Last Day:

The kids can come in at 7:15 and our day starts at 7:50. Our day ends at 2:10, but with 2 loads of buses we still have kids until the teacher day ends at 2:45. I love that I can leave at 2:45 (as long as my kids are gone) but let's be honest - my tail is still there until 4:30 most days. I know things will change next year, so I'm working on coming in earlier so I can leave at a decent time. :) Are you more productive in the morning or in the afternoon??

The kids' last day is May 21st, but the teachers' last day is May 27th. Before you go getting jealous, remember that we will head back to work on July 28th. The kids come back on August 4th. Double UGH.

I'm off to hop around to some of the other Currently posts. Make sure you hop over to Farley's blog to link up.

Hope your April is off to a great start!


Monday, March 31, 2014

A Sweet Excuse!

I feel like my blog has fallen off the face of the earth. The last few months have been overwhelming and awesome. I am happily soaking in my first day of Spring Break and looking forward to having the time (and energy) to spend working on some new projects and sharing some ideas with you!

In the meantime, I think lots of you will understand my lack of blogging and creating. At least I've been told that this is pretty typical for a teacher-blogger in my "condition"...

Baby BOY Spann will arrive in early September. I'm pretty relieved that I get to start a new year with my class in August and get them into our routine before I head out on maternity leave. My inner control freak *might* have breathed a huge sigh of relief when my doctor calculated my due date. :) 

On a side note, I had to take down all of my Leader in Me stuff from TpT a few weeks ago. I'm trying to determine the best way to share the freebies with you all because I know Pinterest is leading you all to broken links. :( In the meantime, send an email my way and I will do my best to send you the freebies you are looking for! thirdgradebookworm@gmail.com


Sunday, March 9, 2014

Bright Ideas Blog Hop: Grading and Grouping

It's that time again!

I know I have been MIA lately, but I hopefully I can get back in business in the next few weeks. :) In the meantime, my blogging buds and I have gotten together to bring you the best and brightest ideas from our classrooms, so let's get started!

This month, I wanted to share the tricks my teaching partner and I use to grade papers and create flexible groups for monitoring and working with our students. It's made grading papers a little less stressful, and I'm able to keep see who is struggling with a new skill in a format that works for me.

I want to start by saying that this is another trick I snagged from my fabulous teaching partner, M. She started doing this last year and I hopped on this bandwagon not too long ago. :)

First, we start by creating a document that lets us place all 40+ students on one page. We use a set of 3 columns to sort the kids into 3 different groups: kids that typically "get it" every time, kids that will probably get it, and kids who tend to struggle with new concepts.

We don't do this after the first day or the first week. I didn't even start this until a few weeks ago - and I wish I'd done it sooner! M does this after about a month with the kids so she has time to get to know them, their strengths, and their weaknesses. One of my favorite "teacher nerd" moments is when we look at our lists together. It's really eye opening to see which kids excel (or struggle) in both math and language arts. Even more interesting, it can be a big indicator for which kids we need to target with RTI strategies if we suspect a learning disability. Often times, those children will show a discrepancy in strength between math and language arts!

I also love that I can see all of my students at once on a single page. This is a sample of their grades from an adverb activity we did last week. As I grade, I have room on the whole group page to make notes and identify problems or trends that I notice happening. Clearly, we needed to go back and review verbs before trying to introduce adverbs. Sigh. :)

Another reason I LOVE this sheet is that it makes transferring grades into my grade book SO much easier! I know it's a weird thing to get excited about, but I hate flipping pages over to find the grade and log it. If I can get the majority of my papers graded at school, I can bring just the whole group grade sheets home with my grade book. Having all 40+ grades on one sheet is absolutely beautiful. For me, at least. :)

We also use a "shrunken" version of the lists as a way for students to turn in their papers. Students find their name under the group, and turn it in accordingly on the tray. We both have a set of 3 trays in our rooms, so this makes it easier for the kids to turn it in.

Also, we tend to pull the papers from the stacks as we grade. This makes it really easy to see who forgot to put their name on their paper! If I have 6 papers in a group, and only one of them is missing a name I know it automatically belongs to ______ because she's the only kiddo I haven't scored yet from that group.

Using a Word document or Power Point to make the lists also makes it easy to move kids between groups as the year progresses. M also likes to shrink a single page to get two days worth of grades on a single sheet. When she's introducing new concepts in math, it makes it easier for her to see which kids are really struggling and who is starting to make progress with the new skill.

I hope this is something you've found helpful! I can't wait for you to hop over to my friend Cyndie's blog at Chalk One Up For the Teacher to check out some fabulous ideas you can use this month for Read Across America! She will have your classroom cute and stylin'. Your kids will love it!!


For more incredibly bright ideas from the rest of my blogging buds, check out the link up below. I know what I'm doing for the rest of the morning!


Sunday, February 2, 2014

Bright Ideas Blog Hop: Small Group Writing Conferences

I'm so excited to link up with Shelley for the Bright Ideas Blog Hop! I cannot wait to start checking out all of the classroom tips and tricks my blogging buds are posting about today!

I've been tinkering with my Writer's Workshop for a little while and wanted to share a new conferencing strategy with you - small group writing conferences!

Admittedly, this is not my idea. I first read about it in the new Lucy Calkins materials our school purchased this year. I will, however, be the first to admit that I don't do things "Lucy's way." As teachers, we have to put our own spin on things to feel comfortable and confident trying something new, and I would definitely encourage you to do the same after reading this. :)

Here goes!

Our Writer's Workshop is a bit compacted because we departmentalize. On most days we have about 45-50 minutes and it looks a bit like this:

It's pretty jam-packed, but it works for us!

I don't pull small group conferences every day, but I do use them 3 or 4 times a week to reinforce skills I notice are missing in my students' writing. I'll also invite students to come to a small group if I'm teaching a new or particularly tricky skill.

Here are a couple of key "tips" that have made small group conferences work well for me:

After a couple of initially frustrating small group conferences I used some words of wisdom from my incredibly talented teaching partner, M:

 "If you don't have anything on your paper, I don't know how to help you."

I had several students consistently coming back to the carpet with nothing on their paper and the same complaint, "I don't know what to write." UGH. To alleviate this, I started giving kids 5 minutes of Get Started time. During the first five minutes of independent writing, that's exactly the expectation. I walk around, get my conferring materials together, and look to see who might want to come with me for a refresh. It worked like a charm. My kids know that they have to have something to work with in small group, so if they don't have anything on paper then small group is not an option for them yet.

Use those marker boards (or shower boards if you're a Home Depot fan like me)! You and I both know how much our kids love dry erase markers. When we're working on a skill (like quotation marks in the picture above), I have the students copy a sentence they already have in their notebook. Then a simple swipe or carat can help them to add or remove what they need. When I've checked their work, they have a convenient model to look at when they make corrections in their notebook.

I might call specific students back if I'm reviewing a skill I know they need to work on (capitalizing proper nouns, end punctuation, etc.). However, many times I'll announce what I'm going to work on in small group that day and invite kids to come back if they want extra help. You'd be surprised at how many of your kiddos will be honest with themselves (and you!) when help is offered instead of enforced. :)

Now, I do get the occasional "Needy Nancy" who only wants a bit of affirmation that they are doing the right thing. But it doesn't take long to glance at their board, give them a thumbs up, and send them back to their seat.

I usually see anywhere from 5-8 kids in a small group. We meet back on the carpet in a circle so that I can see everyone at once. I usually model and reinforce for 1-2 minutes. Then I give them a short a simple task:

"Find a sentence in your story that you think contains dialogue. Copy it and hold it up when you are finished."

I look to check their work so far. As they finish, I give them the next step:

"Add in quotation marks. Don't forget to include a comma and end punctuation where you need it."

Breaking the steps down this way makes it much more manageable for them! It also gives me time to work with kids as they finish, whether they are working quickly or not. After we're finished, I almost always have time to work in 2 or 3 more individual conferences. The key to conferring is to keep it focused and short. Don't try to attack everything at once. Focus on one issue at a time - you'll meet with more kids this way!

This is probably my favorite thing about small group writing conferences. I have seen my kids' confidence as writers grow so much! They are working and sharing in a small group with other friends who need the same kind of help they do. It helps them to see, "I'm not alone. There are other kids who need a little more help too." What makes my heart burst is when one of my kiddos from small group brings their notebook to our closing circle to show off what they worked on that day. Being able to fix your mistakes is a celebration on its own. Holding up your notebook and saying, "Look what I learned today!" is worthy of medals and song in Room 3! :)

I hope I've shed some light on small group writing conferences today! Don't forget to keep hopping through.

Shelley at The Perks of Teaching Primary has some more bright ideas for building vocabulary waiting for you!



Monday, January 20, 2014

How Do You Check for Comprehension? {FREEBIE!}

Hello Bookworms! 

I'm so so so so so excited to share this new FREEBIE with you! I have been using the heck out of it in my own classroom and I'm pretty sure you are going to love it as much as I do!

Do you see those cards? They are magic!
So let me explain how I've been using them...

Every time my kids are working independently, they know to pull these out. 

Yes. EVERY time. It took lots of reminders when we first introduced them, but now it's more of a habit. :) We keep them in our table caddies and there are always enough for every child at the table to have their own set.

There are three cards for each student:

1. Green  = I understand the task.
2. Yellow =Please check on me in a minute. I want to try it on my own first. 
3. Red = Help! I am confused! 

When I asked my kids what they liked best about our comprehension cards, they said, "Our arms don't get tired anymore!" Ha!! I hated looking up from my small group table or turning around after I'd finished working with a student one-on-one to see 3 more kids trying desperately to keep their aching arms in the air. I felt terrible! 

Now I can give them about 2 minutes to get started, walk around, and then call the students who need me the most back to our group meeting area for a quick boost. 

They also hang brilliantly from our book totes! 

I created these for a painfully shy kiddo who was struggling to ask for help as an RTI strategy. More of my kids began asking for them, so I ended up making a whole class set. We keep them together using tiny binder rings, but other teachers on my team have tied them together with string. I laminated mine before I hole punched + bound them so they will probably last throughout this year and next! :)

If you think this is something you'd like to try in your classroom, make sure you click the picture below to grab them from TpT! If you love them, I'd love YOU if you left some feedback while you were there!

Click Me!
I'm also linking up with Fern at TBA's Freebie Friday, so click on over and check out the amazing resources there as well!


Thursday, January 2, 2014

Currently + OLW 2014

Hey Bookworms!

After a much needed Christmas hiatus, I'm excited to kick off 2014 with you! 

Let's get started with Farley's Currently party...


Listening - It is raining again here in Georgia. I am so tired of the rain. I know it is needed in other parts of our world (and I would certainly send it to you if I could!) but GOOD GRAVY. We have had enough. I am drowning out the rain with a little David Crowder Band and the snoring cat behind me. 

Loving - I miss feeling like a normal person. I love the time we get off to recharge our batteries and live like regular humans. You know -  the kind of people who cook for their families, go to the gym, get the laundry done, and keep their houses from looking like a hovel. Those people.

Seriously, I have really enjoyed trying out new things from my Pinterest recipe boards. Most recently, I made A Night Owl's easy enchilada casserole with Becoming Betty's Calabacitas. Both dishes were Mr. Bookworm Approved.

picture via

picture via

Thinking - My winter break is coming to a close way too quickly. I know some of you went back to work today, and I'm sorry. Really. BUT you are probably the people who will be getting plenty of what I want in the weeks to come. :)

Wanting - We are in Georgia. There is hardly ever even a teensy bit of snow. Is it too much to ask that we have one or two snow days this year? Just one or two...

Needing - Holy hot mess. I cannot focus to save my life. I have about 3 different things to share with you but I cannot seem to make myself put the finishing touches on any of it. UGH. Maybe today will prove to be a little more productive.

Memory/Tradition - For the last two years, I've been a part of the sweetest tradition with some of the teachers at my school. We've "adopted" one of the larger families at school who can't afford to bring Christmas to their children. Last year there were 6 kids, and this year we sponsored 7. Every child gets a stocking, 1-2 toys, a new outfit, jacket, shoes, and pajamas. This year we gathered everything together at my house and celebrated with some breakfast treats. It was a fun way to love on my friends and I'm hoping it will be a part of our Christmas season for many years to come. 

I also wanted to share my One Little Word with you for 2014, so I'm also linking up with Denise over at Sunny Days in Second Grade. Here it is!


It's pretty simple. I just want to grow... as a wife, a teacher, a friend, a daughter, a sister, in my relationship with Christ. I want to be the best possible version of myself every day.

I'm off to click around and check out everyone else's Currently or OLW. Can't wait!


Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Deck the Halls with Dockers!

I was really REALLY excited when I had the opportunity to order an extra Christmas surprise for Mr. Bookworm! He is impossible to shop for because he is always telling me he doesn't need anything. But then, Santa whispered a little secret in my ear... Dockers® recently came out with an entire line of Game Day Khakis!

Be still my Bulldog heart!!


Dockers® currently has 10 different college partners for this line including Louisiana State University, University of Minnesota, Oregon State University, Texas A&M University, University of Georgia, University of Illinois, University of Kentucky, University of Michigan, University of Missouri and Washington State University.

Can I mention that Dockers® obviously knows how big football and tailgating are in the SEC? 5 out of their 10 school come from my favorite conference! 



How much do you love the rally cry on the inseam!?


And, if your man's heart belongs to school with a better basketball program, then these are just in time for you! (Ahem, Kentucky!)


All 10 schools are available in the traditional Khaki pant and in the school's official color for a bolder look.


How good is Mr. Bookworm going to look for the Gator Bowl?! We won't talk about how horrible our season was. We are going to be thankful for hot Mr. Bookworm pants and a bowl game to wear them to.

I love that he can wear the traditional Khakis to work and also have a pair for tailgating. I would be lying if I said I hadn't thought about giving the red pair to him early so he could wear them to a couple of parties we're going to this weekend. ;-)

Now I ordered Mr. Bookworm's pants online at Dockers.com, but I also saw them this week at Macy's when I was doing some Christmas shopping. Right now, Dockers® is having a sale for 30% off with the code GIFT30. They are also offering free shipping on all orders until December 19th.

I've got one more surprise to order for him tomorrow, but I'm curious - What are you getting for your significant other this Christmas??

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