home home meet the teacher classroom shop freebie library

Currently: September

Another new month is upon us and that means Farley has a new Currently.  I really like this one!  The graphics are so cute!!  Thanks for doing this month after month Farley!

Most of my Currently is fairly self explanatory this month.  Here's a few points about each:

Listening: The window is open (see my Loving) and it's a bit windy outside.  The breeze is rustling the leaves.  I don't hear much else.  It's quite relaxing!
Loving: At this time of year, the weather could go either way for us.  It's still decently warm during the day, about 17 degrees.
Thinking: Ryan's birthday is Tuesday.  He will be 31! He doesn't like big celebrations.  I have a few ideas for what to get him and do, but haven't fully decided.  I need to get on it.
Wanting: We've had some serious let downs with contract negotiations this weekend.  I really just want to get back to school, but I'm highly doubting it will be happening Tuesday when it's supposed to, and honestly, probably not any time this week.
Needing: Nothing, really.  I'm quite blessed.
3 Trips: These were easy to pick!  There's so many more I could have added also.

That's all!

Have you linked up yet?

post signature

Journal Writing 2: Group Journals

Today I'm talking about journals with a twist - group journals.  Lots of people also refer to them as shared journals or whole class journals.  I've used them in my class once before and they worked great!  I don't mark these journals at all, they are just for the love of writing and sharing that with others in the class.  

I find that group journals are an excellent way for students to be inspired by classmates.  The entire journal is filled with others stories about the same topic, so the ideas are endless.  It's great because they have a built in word bank in others' stories.

 Before you can introduce group journals to your class, you need to create some. These are the journal covers I will be using next year.  I like these, because they are cute (which, clearly is a priority!) and the file is editable.

There are 10 themes in this package, so you would have enough for 10 students to be writing at once with no duplicates.  I use group journals during my stations time.  I try to not have more than 6 kids per group in my stations.  This means I have enough for everyone, and some choice.  They can also do group journals 10 times without any repeated topics.

Introducing the journals is next.  Like I said above, I used group journals during my stations time.  If you do Daily 5, use them during "Work on Writing".  If you don't do small groups, well, make enough for everyone to have one and do them whole class.  They are really adaptable.

I set some limitations on reading time.  The focus is writing, after all.  I do let the students read one or two previous entries before they write, but they need to be writing after the first five minutes or so.  To remedy this, I allow students to read group journals during quiet reading time.  That way, they have plenty of time to read the work of others!

As for specific criteria, it is similar to my independent journals, and I'll be writing about that in my next (and last) journal post.  You can read about that there, or use what you're already comfortable with.

Step three is writing!   Enjoy the detailed and descriptive stories your children will share!

As always, if you have questions - let me know in the comments! 

Be sure to read these posts as well!

Pin this post.

Five for Friday

It's Friday again!  And, the last one of August...  Here's my big 5 things of the week courtesy of Doodle Bugs Teaching.

Have you seen this yet?   Some awesome Canadian TpT sellers have been busy these last few weeks getting ready to go back to school! To help you get started or add to your planned classroom resources, we have created a collaborative eBook full of great teaching tips, products and freebies.  You can find me on page 37.

 Canadian Back To School eBook

Have you noticed my new blog design?  I know, I just did one myself not that long ago.... I liked it, but didn't love it.  This one I love!!!  I'm so grateful to Tricia Nae for her talents.  Check her out guys! 

I'm really thrilled to tell you that I'm going to be doing a 7 week book study in the near future.  At this point, it looks like there will be 6 of us sharing our thoughts chapter by chapter for "The Book Whisperer" by Donalyn Miller.  I'm about half way through the book and really enjoying it.  I've had a few "aha" moments for sure.

Look for this series to be coming mid-September!

I was able to tick two things of my To-Do list this week!  My black vinyl arrived in the mail and I cut out everything I need.  I also finished my mudroom sign!

I painted a canvas blue.... the rest is paper and chipboard.  I love how it turned out!  The rubber boots are so cute!

Last but not least, don't forget to enter Mrs. Beattie's giveaways!

Displaying ~Prize Pack #3.jpg

You can enter to win this bundle right here (it's the exact same link as the one on her blog) or go to Erin's blog and enter them all.  Good luck!

Journal Writing 1: Prompts

Do your students have a journal?  Mine do!  It's such a great tool and can be used in so many ways.  We might be journaling about a specific topic (a prompt, which I'm focusing this post on, or an integration with Science or Social Studies) or a free write (which are always so fun to read).  Sometimes we correct the work, sometimes we don't. Students are building both their focus and skill when writing in journals.   We don't write in them every day, but at least weekly.

This is the first of three blog posts about journals and it's all about writing prompts.  Check the bottom of this post for links to the other two.

Step 1: Connecting to Prior Knowledge

When I give my class a writing prompt, there is a structure typical of the lesson.  First, I have them do some sort of connecting to what they already know.  This could be asking a question, reading a picture book, "think of a time" activity.... there are so many options.  The point is a quick (5ish minutes) activity that gets their minds going in the right direction.

Step 2: Reveal the Prompt

Next, I will reveal the writing prompt.  If it's a picture, like I'm talking about today, I'll project it nice and large under the document camera.  I give my students some talking time with a partner or in small groups.  This is the time where anything goes and I want a free share of ideas.  There are so many possibilities for each picture prompt!

 Step 3: Draw and Talk Time

If my prompt is a word, or a question, I'll write it on the board and do the same thing.  However, I'll try to add in a bit more time so students have an opportunity to draw (quick sketch) out their visualizations.  Giving talking and drawing time helps students process their thoughts before they write, which tends to lead to more organized writing.

Before we write, I ask the class to brainstorm any words they think they might use.  I ask students to give the words to me "Popcorn Style", which is where they can shout out, but need to still be respectful of others talking.  So, I don't call on raised hands, but it's not a chaos of voices either.  I add them to the whiteboard as quickly as they can throw them out.  We now have a personalized word wall for the topic.

Step 4: Brain Break!

We do a quick brain break to get the jitters out.  You want those kids focused on their writing, not the fact that their bum is falling asleep in those terrible school chairs!

Step 5: Independent Writing

Writing time is silent in my room.  We have done our sharing and talking, now I'm interested in just their thoughts, on their page.  Just like building reading stamina, you need to build writing stamina.  At the beginning of the year, a journal write may be 10 or 15 minutes.  By the end of the year, it could be nearly 45 minutes before someone says anything.  Also, you can always tell how interesting the topic is by how long they stay silent!

Here are a few writing prompt pictures I've used in the past. 

Okay, so you are now ready to give your students a journal writing task!  Questions?  Feel free to ask in the comments. 

Be sure to read these posts as well!
Journal Writing: Group Journals
Journal Writing: Editing and Criteria

Pin this post.

Wordless Wednesday: Hatchet


I'm linking up to Wordless Wednesday with a picture of a pretty classic kids book.  I hadn't ever read it before, and so glad I did!  It is such a great book!  I know many of my boy students will love it, but I'm sure the girls will too.

What classic kids books do you think I should read?

What I Love to Teach

Hi everyone!  I'm piggy backing the linky parties today!  It's the last day of the Back to School blog hop, and of course, it's Friday which means a Five for Friday post.

Today is all about what I love to teach, so here are my top 5 favourite subjects, starting with my most favourite!



I love, love, LOVE to teach science.  I actually have a BSc in Biology and was planning on going into fisheries and wildlife research, but changed my mind.  The lab work was just too lonesome.  I have a tonne of science knowledge and love sharing it with my kids. 

We do all sorts of fun science things together.  I try and include something hands on in nearly every lesson.  

I really push my kids hard when it comes to science fair.  Grade 4 is the year where children start doing projects in my district.  The concept is brand new to them.  I do guide them through the entire process, and believe in the majority of the work being completed at school.  I love the end result when they are so proud of what they have learned and presented.  It's really the biggest task of the year.

I'm adding links to two of my must-have science files.  The Scientific Process posters are great for students at any age doing a science fair project, while the Golden Rules are better suited for students in grade 6 +.




Math is another fun one for me.  It's closely related to science, and I integrate a lot.  There's so many things you can do in math with manipulatives, stations, and games that it keeps it really fresh for the kids too.

This was the first year that I added guided math to my classroom.  I will not be going back!  I admit, it does take some more time to plan and prep.  However, the benefits of working with children at their level of math skill, it's truly amazing.  The conversations you have with them in small groups, especially from those lower students who usually keep their mouths shut, are amazing.

Here is a shot of my math station organization that I shared in Wednesday's "Why" post.

Language Arts
The reading and writing process can be so difficult for some.  I mean, can you blame them?  The English language is bizarre at best.  Words with rules, some that don't follow and other words you just need to know.  Uh, ok.  

Using picture books as a starting point, you can really make the connections from for students.  Last year, I made a goal I will continue with this year, and that is to go deeper with the Smart Learning process.  This process was developed by Susan Close and she describes it as: 
The SmartLearning approach provides learners of all ages with a research-proven framework and a host of SmartThinking Tools that motivate deep comprehension and higher levels of achievement. Through work with the SmartLearning framework learners: activate and build background knowledge, set stretch-goals in relation to criteria established for tasks at hand, use multiple ways to process information, monitor and regulate learning as it progresses, transform learning into personalized demonstrations of understanding, and reflect on personal learning as the learning unfolds. Reflection includes finding evidence of meeting goals, noticing and regulating brain activity to support goal attainment, noticing strengths in learning, and setting new goals based on a growing understanding of personal need. 
Susan should be putting out a book very shortly on the topic and I can't wait.  Her strategies are so amazing and it will be nice to have them in a place for everyone to access.

Visual Art

Fine Arts is considered a group of 4 strands here in B.C. - visual art, dance, music and drama.  I do enjoy teaching them all (with music being my least favourite, simply because I am least knowledgeable there).  Visual art (painting, drawing, sculpting, sketching....) is my favourite.  Why? Here's why:

1. I'm crafty - I like to be crafty with my kids.  There's nothing like getting messy with chalk pastels or paint or a bottle of mist.
2. We use the real deal - because I am crafty, I insist on us using proper products.  I just know the results will be so much better and it's my job to make a positive experience for the kids.  They love using "real" artist supplies too.
3. Their personal expression comes alive - you can give a task to them all, and end up with 30 unique projects.  How cool is that?
4. It's a bonding time - art is more relaxed, you can chat and socialize a bit.  Sometimes we put on music too. 


I'm really learning to love gym.  As a student myself, I HATED gym.  I was the girl who had a random illness or would be flitting off in the corner with her girl friends.  As an adult, I am learning the value of a healthy lifestyle and really want to promote that with my kids.  I try to participate with them whenever it is safe to do so, and they really appreciate that.  My focus is on building skills, with games days on Friday.  I think at my new school I will likely have gym as a prep subject and I'm actually a bit sad about that.

Thanks for reading my post!  You have two options today for going on to read more. 



When I Plan

Today is day four of the Back to School 2014 blog hop. We're talking today about when - I think the intention is to talk about your year plan, but as I'm not back in school yet, don't totally know my grade and don't know when things like gym and library will be, I'm going to talk to you about when I plan and prepare.  Sorry about the lack of images in this post, I just didn't think I had anything relevant.

I'm still in vacation mode, so I'm going to explain what a typical week day looks like instead.

5:30 - 6:00 am

This is when I wake up.  My internal clock/my dogs don't let me sleep any later.  Usually I wake up, and catch up on some social media on my phone in bed.

6:00 - 6:30 am

I like to shower right away.  It wakes me up.

6:30 - 7:00 am

I eat breakfast next.  Usually egg whites, oatmeal and a cup of tea.
While I eat, I tend to read my Bloglovin' feed.

7:30 - 8:00 am

Last year, I taught 30 minutes out of town.  This was driving time.  I'm excited to have this time available this year!  I am hoping that this will become TpT/blogging time.  I will probably be going into school earlier than usual for the first bit anyhow.

8:00 - 8:45 

This is the time I spend in my room getting ready for the day.  Photocopying, pulling stations materials, putting out morning work... Sometimes I am feeling extra-ready, so I sit in the staff room and have tea and chat with colleagues.  Those are the best days.

8:45 - 2:45

Working away with my kiddies!

2:45 - 3:30

Usually, I spend this much time in my classroom after school planning for the next day and tidying up the day we just had.

3:30 - 10:00

This is a huge chunk of time.  I couldn't narrow it down any more.  Here are some things I do in that time:
- visit friends
- walk the dogs
- go to the gym
- watch Netflix
- make/eat supper
- visit with Ryan
- read blogs
- plan/write blog posts
- work on TpT items/reply to feedback
- mark
- prep/plan even more

How does this compare to your day?  Do you have specific days for TpT, blogging, the gym, etc.... Do you save marking until the weekends? Let me know in the comments!

Why it Works: Classroom Organization

Welcome to day 3 of the Blog Hoppin' Back to School 2014 Linky.  Today we are sharing about one of my most favourite classroom elements - organization.

You can read my first two posts by clicking the links below:
Day 1: Who
Day 2: Where


If you know me personally, you know I am excessively organized.  It's a strength and a weakness wrapped into one.  I try to have every aspect of my classroom organized.  Why? So that not only can I work with my supplies easily, but so can the students and any other teacher who may be in my room while I'm away.  I feel that an organized classroom is more calming and visually appealing for students.  An organized classroom is also more welcoming to me.

Because I am a relatively new teacher, I decided on a colour scheme and stuck with it for all my purchases.  My classroom is sky blue with accents of lime green and black.  It's going to be an expensive day if I ever get bored of my colours.

My students coat hooks are always labeled from the first day.  It helps gives them a bit of ownership to the room, a space to call their own.  I don't know about you, but I always seem to never have enough coat hook room.  Especially in the winter when they have large coats, snow pants, mitts, toques.... I constantly hear the "her stuff is on top of mine" complaint.  Staggering the hooks and spacing them out as best I can helps some.

You'll notice my students have bins above.  They are labeled with the exact same owl as their coat hook.  These bins originally came into play when I had a lice epidemic (it was bad news) in my classroom.  They were a method of separating toques and mitts.  Bundling things into plastic bags wasn't working - they weren't doing it, the bags were ripping.... It was a good try anyhow.  With the bins, kids stuff is separate.  I'm finding it cuts down on the "who does this glove belong to" business.  Some kids like to pull their lunch kit out in the morning and keep it in their bin.  Others store their agenda there.  At the end of the day, their inside shoes go in the bin.  The custodians LOVE it.  So much easier for them to clean.

This is a picture of my class library last year.  I have a lot of books.  I'm thinking I will put out less this year and rotate the bins.  I will have more cupboard storage in my new classroom.  Again, the bins are all the same colour.  When I took this photo, I hadn't yet labeled a few of them.  They are all labeled by genre or author or series if I had a lot of them.  The white bin on top is full of picture books that don't fit down below.  The ones on display are from the school library.  I tend to take out books that match what we are learning at the time.  

Labeling the library helps kids know where they got the books from.  I rarely find a book out of place.  If I do, it's not hard to fix.  You do fit less books on the shelf using the bins, but I think it's less overwhelming for a child to pull a bin out, sit on the floor and rifle through.  An entire shelf of books is difficult to focus on.

Lastly, here is a shot of some digital organizing.  I have so many math centres, it was tricky to remember what I had, what level it was etc... I ended up making a huge table to organize it all.  It has the strand, learning outcomes, ability level (low, on, high) and anything additional it requires.  This keeps me on track to make sure I use them all, that I'm differentiating, and that I don't forget to set anything out!

The actual stations are all stored in matching plastic folders.  Each folder is labeled with the same information.  The folders are stored in holders that are labeled by strand.  I do have a separate holder for Roll and Cover games.  I have so many of them because I have all the lovely seasonal ones from Fourth and Ten.

That's just 3 ways I organize my classroom.  I hope it was helpful!  Feel free to leave me any questions you might have in the comments.  Come back tomorrow to read about when I plan and prep.


28% off Sale!

Click to Shop

I'm excited to tell you that everything in my TpT store is 20% off all day tomorrow - August 20!  Every single thing!  The best part is that if you enter the code "boost" when you check out, TpT will add additional savings to your order for a total of 28%  The catch is that it's on sale for one day only.  So you need to act quickly.  You can click on the picture above to go directly to my store, or use some of these links to go to my favourite products.



Where I Teach

Thanks for coming back for day two of Blog Hoppin's Back to School 2014 linky.  Or, if you missed yesterday's post you can read it here.

Today's post is all about where you teach.

I really, REALLY wish I could show you were I teach.  Unfortunately, I can't.  Well, not really.  I can give you this:

and this:

You see, I'm moving to a new school.  In Canada, we start school on September 2 so I still have a few more weeks of summer left.  So I'm not back to school yet.  I'm also not entirely sure I have a complete classroom yet.  They are converting the computer lab into my classroom - it needed everything!  Sink, cupboard, coathooks..... everything.  I don't know where along the process they are.  I hope finished!  We also aren't allowed back into the school until Monday, August 25. AND even if I could get in, I can't, because we are sadly still on strike.  


It stinks doesn't it!

While everyone is revealing their beautiful classrooms I am just dreaming about what mine COULD look like..... I can't even picture the layout because it doesn't exist yet.  Eek!

I promise you, the best classroom reveal I can possibly give when I'm finally back in and all set up.  Cross my heart.

Come back tomorrow, and I'll be sharing why my organization works.

Thanks for reading!