Must Read Mentor Text: Back-to-School Ideas!

Happy Sunday, bloggy friends!
Today's "Must-Read Mentor Text" linky theme is...
Back to School!
Welcome Back to School
It's crazy - I just finished my first week of summer vacation and so many teachers are already preparing for the beginning of a new school year. We don't go back until after Labor Day.
School Kids at School
But, for those of you with "Back-to-School" on the brain,
here are a couple of my favorite books:
Splat the Cat
Amazon Blurb: It's Splat's first day of school and he's worried. What if he doesn't make any new friends? Just in case, Splat decides to bring along his pet mouse, Seymour, and hides him in his lunchbox. The teacher, Mrs. Wimpydimple, introduces Splat to the class and he soon starts learning all his important cat lessons. But when Seymour escapes and the cats do what cats do (they chase mice!), Splat's worried again. Maybe now he'll lose all his friends, old and new! Just in time, wise Mrs. Wimpydimple takes charge and teaches everyone an important new lesson. Maybe Cat School is going to be okay after all!
Here's a packet I have created to accompany
this great back-to-school book:
Amazon blurb: She was a perfect baby, and she had a perfect name. Chrysanthemum. When she was old enough to appreciate it, Chrysanthemum loved her name. And then she started school. "I'm named after my grandmother," said Victoria. "You're named after a flower." Chrysanthemum wilted. Life at school didn't improve. In fact, it got worse. Then the students were introduced to their music teacher, Mrs. Twinkle. Mrs. Delphinium Twinkle. And suddenly, Chrysanthemum blossomed....
Click HERE to read a blog post chock-full of ideas to use with this great book about the power of words and the lasting effect they have on people
 To go along with our Back-to-School theme, here is a fun 
Student Information and Interest Survey
I use to get my know my students the first week:

This week's Tricks of the Trade topic will be...
How do you keep your desk organized?
What do you use to organize supplies? Papers?
Or have you traded in your teacher desk for something else?
Link up your Tricks of the Trade on Thursday!

Currently JULY!

Happy July! (Well...almost!)
July Dragonfly
Here's what I'm CURRENTLY up to...
I am a HUGE Pride & Prejudice fan -
and I have been since I was born :)
It's always been a tradition for the women of my family
to watch the BBC version (6 hours!) each Christmas
I love the characters, the language, and the subtle romance.
I'm a sucker for anything Jane Austen!
As we're packing up everything we own, it's the perfect opportunity to clean, organize, and PURGE! We've only been married and living in our apartment for 2 years, but it's amazing to see the amount of stuff we have accumulated. I have filled half a dozen boxes to take to GoodWill.
CLICK HERE to read about the incredible circumstances surrounding my exciting and unexpected journey to Seattle, Washington in only 2 weeks!
I'll be changing my blogger status very soon!
Any other Washington bloggers out there?!?
It is sooo hot and a dip in the pool sounds so good!
Girl Wearing Sunglasses
Moving clear across the country is tricky.
And expensive.
And daunting.
Our big decisions have been made: moving truck called, cars shipped, and apartment leased.
Now all we need to do is pack.
and pack.
and pack some more.
Oh yeah - and then make sure it all fits in the truck!
Pray for us next Sunday as we load it all up and send it off! :)
Tips or Tricks:
I had heard of bloggers and TpT sellers creating on PowerPoint, but I was skeptical about how it would work and if I would really find it that much easier than Microsoft Word.
Well, let me tell you...
PowerPoint is the most incredible creation tool!
4th Gr Flipper
has an awesome tutorial on creating worksheets
and products using PowerPoint

Looking for more TRICKS?
Check out my weekly linky, Tricks of the Trade Thursdays!
This week's topic will be...
How do you keep your desk organized?
What do you use to organize supplies? Papers?
Or have you traded in your teacher desk for something else?
Link up your Tricks of the Trade on Thursday!
What are you CURRENTLY doing?
Oh' boy fourth grade
Join the fun and link up with Farley!

Five for Friday: A Life-Changing Week!

In the past eight days, my life changed.
As many of you know, my hubby got his Masters from NYU in May and we were on the hunt...for anyone who would pay him to do what he loves :)
Which is archiving, or preserving, arranging, digitizing, and organizing documents and artifacts.

So we had been searching.
And applying.
And applying some more.

And then last Thursday, he received a call.
Then he had an interview.
Then the next day he got a call
asking if he would be willing to fly out.
So we hopped on a plane.
He had the second interview...
and was offered the job on the spot!
We spent the day exploring and apartment hunting.

So, the next stop in our joy-filled journey will be....
Seattle, Washington!

In a little over 2 weeks, I will officially be...
Any other Washington bloggers out there?

We couldn't be more thrilled!
And nervous.
And excited. 
And sad.

it gets better...
Not only did hubby get a job...
but I did too! 

I inquired about a school on Saturday morning.
Monday afternoon I got a call asking if I could come in
immediately for an interview.
Tuesday I filled out the application.
Wednesday I was notified that I was chosen!
Christian school.
5th grade.
No joke.
God is so faithful!

So in less than a week, we found both had jobs across the country.
Oh, and we leased an apartment in our spare time.

The rest of my week has been filled with...
Endless Phone Calls
Moving Details/Research
Well that's my Five for Friday!
Stay tuned for further news of our adventures in Seattle!

Tricks of the Trade Thursdays: Centers Organization

Hello blogging friends!
Phew! I am back from a whirlwind adventure to...
You'll have to check back tomorrow to hear some 

For now, I'm much too busy because it's another exciting episode of...
Today's topic is..

Here are some of my 
Tricks of the Trade: 
I create my groups by ability. At the beginning of each school year, I have my students take a couple of informal assessments that lets me know where they are in terms of some basic skills. Then, I pull each student one by one for a formal reading comprehension and fluency test. This really drives my assessment and helps me form my reading groups.

This past year I had three groups:
Motorcycles (Low)
Cars (On-Level)
Helicopters (High, needing enrichment)
Each day we do reading groups, I fill in my schedule for the group rotations:
I have glued down library pockets and then just change out the activity (written on an index card). The first column represents the activities for the first rotation, the second column is the second rotation, and the third is the third. (obviously). My group cut-outs are attached with sticky tack, so I can move them around. (I often meet with my lowest group first, but occasionally I will switch it around) and sticky tack gives me the flexibility to do so.
Types of Activities
One of the rotations is almost always meet with the teacher and we usually work on skill-building activities (story elements, re-telling, fluency checks, TONS of reading comprehension work, etc.).  I take anecdotal notes on their progress during these sessions. When assessing their oral reading, I usually tell them what specific skill I will be checking for - expression, volume, pacing, word accuracy, etc.

The other two rotations change all of the time. Frequently the kiddos do:
  • Word Work center (focusing on spelling or vocabulary)
  • Curriculum focus: usually Social Studies or Science - I usually use it to get in more non-fiction practice!
  • Writing center (usually prompted - I have made TONS of writing center activities)
Click the pictures to see some of my
most popular writing center activities:
 I have also gotten a ton of these take-it-to-your seat center books from Mailbox and Scholastic. Each one is organized in a folder with a laminated game board or mat, the individual pieces in a labeled envelope (with the number of prices written on it), student sheet in a sheet protector (so they can write on it with a dry erase marker and then wipe clean when they're done), and answer key.
I keep the reading and grammar centers organized by topic in cardboard boxes from the DollarSpot. The hanging folders hold my math, science, and social studies centers.
When I'm with a reading group, I want to focus on these kiddos - and only these kiddos. I try to plan activities that require little instruction or explanation, but occasionally I will have students who come across a problem. 
To avoid (most of the) constant interruptions from students who are (supposedly) working independently, I have implemented the "Ask 3...Then Me" rule when I'm working with a small group or conferencing with an individual. It's simple: The phrase “Ask 3…Then Me” instructs my students to ask three classmates a question about the activity before coming and interrupting my small group. 

^My kids laugh because this teacher looks just like me,
right down to the purple earrings! 
(I've included several different "teacher" options in the packet.)
Here are some lovely ideas I would like to
implement next year:
Classroom Freebies Too: How to make learning centers simple and meaningful Teachers Notebook math centers
Literacy 'Centers'Center Organizations
Center Organization chart Center organization
 How do you organize and run centers in your classroom?
Link up below!

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