Tuesday, September 27, 2011


One of my goals this year is to have the children work on "activating schema" more.  It has been a buzz word in our classroom for a while now.

Just last week I started a great read aloud.

I realized that this would be the perfect book to help the children learn to examine their schema a little more closely, especially since Gooney Bird constantly forces you to change it.  I highly suggest this book for your own classroom.

I found this great anchor chart on Pinterest to help discuss the topic.

We will be finishing the book up tomorrow.  I plan on using this activity I made to map how their schema changed as we read the book.

(Click on the picture for a copy.)

Sunday, September 25, 2011


I did it!  I finally read Daily 5!  It has been sitting on my nightstand for almost a month now and I have been dying to read it.  However, finding the time(or energy) is the trick.  Well, I found a 2 hour window yesterday(i.e. naptime) and I couldn't put it down.

I gained some great tips and ideas from the book.  I love that I am doing many components of the Daily 5 already.  They're just called different things.  That means this will be easy to implement. 

I am going to launch Read to Self tomorrow.  Here are labels I just made to create a poster about "How to Read a Story."
Click on the picture for a copy.
(The picture doesn't show it, but there is another page in the document.)

For parents that follow my blog, I hope the kids will be sharing some of this with you throughout the next few weeks. :)

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Testing, Testing, 1, 2, 26?

It is that time of year again. 
Time to give our fall reading assesment in our county. 

Our principal is nice enough to give us a substitute for a day so we can work on assessing our class.  I was able to get through about 19 of them, but have a few more to go.

While administering, scoring, and inputting information on the computer can be long and tedious, these assessments do give you valuable information.   Plus, it is a nice opportunity to have some one-on-one time with the children at the beginning of the year without any interruptions.

Thursday and Friday's goal?
Getting the last 7 complete.

To my fellow county colleagues and any other teachers out there giving a similar fall assessment, I wish you all luck!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

I Know My Address

In years past, it was interesting to find that some of my second graders were not able to tell me their phone number or address.  So one of the assignments I give my students at the beginning of the year is to memorize these. 

At the end of the week, I "quiz" them to see if they are able to retell both.  I also tell the children that if they want extra credit, they can memorize their parent's cell number(s) too.

I am happy to say that every child was able to recite all or most of their address and phone number.  Yay!

Here is the page I send home.

Click on the picture if you would like a copy.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

I Love Facebook (Linky Party)

Lesson Plan Diva is hosting a Linky Party about Facebook and I just had to join in.
I don't know how many Facebook addicts are out there, but I am here to admit that I am on a few times a day. 
Maybe more than a few. 

But seriously, Facebook has been such an amazing tool for getting in touch with long lost friends, family, as well as keeping tabs on everyone from day to day.

I recently started a facebook page for my blog.  You are welcome to "like" my page to the right or just go on over and visit it HERE.

One of my newer addicitons has been Pinterest.  I was turned onto this ingenius site over the summer and haven't looked back.  Since I am a visual person, it is the perfect way to keep track of the ideas I find on the internet using picture icons. 

Why is this great?  Because half of the links in my Internet Explorer favorites folder go unused because I don't see a picture and can't remember why I even have the link.  Pinterest has been the perfect solution.

I am on there daily, so feel free to check out my "pins" using the link on the sidebar or become a follower HERE. :)  Oh and many of my pins are not just school related, so there is something on there for everyone. 

I hope you enjoy the finds!!!

Doodle a Story

Doodle a Story is something I use in the classroom to help children learn about identifying important details in a story.

As I read a story, I stop at certain points and have the children "doodle" what is happening at that moment.  By the end of the story, they have a retelling right in front of them.  I then have them break into partner groups to retell the story using their own pictures.

Click on the picture below if you would like a copy.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Monarch Watch (cont'd)

Phew, after 4 days, we finally have the internet fixed at home.  That was a rough couple days!

While I have been away, we have been continuing to monitor our Monarch caterpillars.
We were able to see one of our big guys go from the "J" stage move into it's chrysalis.

While searching for milkweed one day I found a little surprise!

This one is just about to do his "walk about" and head into the "J" stage.

As for the babies Gabbie helped find? 
We shared them with other classes.
We did keep one and he/she is at the 3rd instar stage and munching away.

Needless to say, the Monarch area of the classroom has been a hot spot lately.

Favorite Teachable Moment of the week:
I took the children down to our outdoor classroom to look for milkweed and hunt for signs of monarch caterpillars.  While there, we found a freshly emerged Monarch Butterfly!  It was amazing. 

We didn't see any caterpillars on this trip, but the fact that I could show the children the difference between a male and female as well as show them a Monarch in the wild was priceless. 

Yay science!
Oh and a special thank you to my class for sharing one caterpillar with Gabbie.   She was so excited to have one of the caterpillars come back home. 

She is taking special care of it.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

9/11...10 Years but will NEVER forget

On 9/11/01, I was just 1 week into teaching my first year of second grade in Northern Virginia.  Being from Long Island, I was still learning the lay of the land and getting to know the people down here.

I was in computer lab with my students when the librarian told me to come over and check something out.  I saw the trade center with smoke billowing out.  I immediately thought, "Oh great another terrorist bombing.  Will they ever stop?"  I had no idea at the time that it was a plane that had created the smoke. 

I went back to my class to finish up the lab and back to teaching the rest of the morning.

It was finally lunch time so I dropped my kids off and headed to the lounge.  I took a shortcut by my principal's office and it was then that I saw the raw emotion of what was about to unfold in front of me.  In my principal's office, I found an extremely strong woman, my principal, brought to her knees sobbing. 

I didn't want to stare so I headed on to the lounge.  The TV was on and everyone was standing around.  It was then that they replayed everything that I had missed since seeing the smoke earlier that morning. 
I was numb. 
I had no words. 
I immediately sat down as I watched it happen over and over again.

The room was silent.  A thing that did not happen often in that lounge.

It took me all day to allow everything sink in...
- Planes crashed into the twin towers and then collapsed.  They were gone, forever.
The same towers where my dad worked for AT&T years prior and I visited many times with him. 
The same towers that were my welcome home sign when coming back from college. 
The same towers that on a clear day, I could see from my home on Long Island.

- All of those people lost inside and on the planes.

- The reason my principal was brought to her knees? It was because her 26 year old son was in those towers. (He had just started a new job there.)

- The Pentagon was also attacked.  Parents trickled in(many who worked there) to take their children out.

- My sister and father were supposed to meet near the trade center that day.  It took me forever to find out that they had called it off before any of this had happened.

- My mom, a nurse on LI, was on rainbow alert at her hospital waiting to be called into the city if need be.

- There was a fourth plane that had crashed in PA, which was said to have been heading to the Capitol Building or White House.

After gathering this information, it took me the rest of the day to allow my emotions to catch up.
It also took me all evening to get through to my sister who lived in the city and my family out on Long Island.  Thankfully everyone was ok. 

We ended up having the day off the next day, and were on a modified lockdown with indoor recess for the upcoming weeks.

When we were back in school, it was extremely difficult to keep a happy face in front of all of the young children.  Some knew what had happened and some did not.  The children had questions and many of us didn't have answers for them. 

It had been an emotional few days but what truly brought me to tears was when the children said the pledge for the first time since we had been back.  I was never more proud to be an American than at that moment.

Our assistant principal took over as acting principal as our principal tried to come to grips with the fact that they had no word on whether her son was alive or not.  She later found out that he had perished and a piece of her had died that day.

As the months wore on, the list of casualties grew longer, including a distant family member and a number of people from my hometown.

Now, here we are 10 years later, and I still can remember the events as clearly as if it happened yesterday.  The emotions, though pushed away at times, come flooding back when watching any special on 9/11.

9/11 symbolizes so many things and I promised myself 10 years ago that I would NEVER forget what they are.  I still have not forgotten....

To those innocent victims involved in the attacks as well as their family and friends affected forever.
To those heroes that stepped up that day as well as the weeks and months following.
I will never forget you and am eternally grateful.

Forever in our hearts....

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Rain, Rain, GO AWAY!!!

It has rained every day this week AND it is expected to rain all day tomorrow as well.

What does this mean in the land of second grade?  Week long indoor recess for a bunch of 7 and 8 year olds.  These poor kids (and their teacher) have been cooped up all week and desperately need to be outside expending their first week of school energy.

We have all been hanging in there, including the third graders who have trudged through the rain while coming in and out of the trailers out back. 

Today's rain, however, takes the cake.  Roads around the school were shut down, buses could not get to the school, which led to a very interesting dismissal.  I am pretty impressed at how smoothly it went considering the road closures.

As I drove home, trying to make it to my own kid's school and daycare, I found that the whole area was greatly affected by this crazy flooding(and still is).   After navigating through random closed roads, picking up both kids on opposite ends of the town, we made it home just as it started downpouring again. 

Here is picture taken of a parking lot just a few towns away from where I am...

Crazy right?

I can only imagine what tomorrow's rain will bring.
I just hope our school doesn't float away like some of these cars!

Update:  We ended up having the day off Friday because many roads were still closed.   My heart and prayers go out to the family of a 12 year old boy who died in a flash flood in our town.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

2 Days Down

It is good to be back in the classroom.  I am loving my class, but boy am I exhausted when I get home!  At least I have been sleeping beautifully these past few nights. :)

I have a few ideas that are in the works which I will share soon.  In the meantime, here are a few more pics of my room...

Here is my outside display.
The student's names are on the shirts, but I have blurred them out.
Note: I can't take credit for those amazing drawings. 
An extremely talented friend of mine drew these.
I did help paint my face though. :)

Our classroom library

The Share Shelf
I use this shelf to display our content area, holiday, and/or read aloud books.
I don't put these in the classroom library though.
This allows me to provide new books for the children to read every few weeks.
Making Words Pocket Chart
I use this when we make words.  
There are enough letters for every student to have a set and then can be neatly stored for later use.  I love this!

Well, that's it for tonight.  This tired lady is going to spend the rest of the evening watching mindless TV, while grading some papers.

Monday, September 5, 2011

A Hunting We Will Go and....

Gabbie and I went back out to look for caterpillars and eggs today.

No such luck, but we did grab a bunch of milkweed in case our eggs hatched at home.
(Don't you love my beautiful "hunting" outfit?)

When we got back, we went over to check on the eggs.
What did we find?
Two little caterpillars that had just emerged and were beginning to munch on their eggs!

Since then, all four have hatched.
I'm so happy Gabbie had a chance to see the 1st instar.
Luckily these little guys won't grow too much by tomorrow so I can show the students on our first day of school!

Saturday, September 3, 2011


I went to find some monarch caterpillars in our school's milkweed patches with no luck.  I decided to take Gabbie this weekend and search a trail near my house to see if we might have better luck there.

On our walk we found a good patch.  We didn't find caterpillars but we were able to collect 4 eggs, which is better than nothing. (I do give credit to my 4 year old for finding the first egg.  My budding entomologist!) 

These little guys are no bigger than a pin head.

Amazing, right?

We'll probably go for another search tomorrow.  I'm hoping we find a few caterpillars as well.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Say Hello to My Little Friend

Here is our class pet Geico:

He is a leopard gecko.
I have had him for about 8 years now, but we think he is almost 10.

Since leopard geckos are nocturnal, there isn't much activity going on in the day.
My students love having him in the room, but don't get a chance to see him too often.

Well, this past summer I found this awesome magnetic rock.

Now the children can see him anytime during the day.

We are obviously going to have to set guidelines though.
I'm sure Geico wouldn't appreciate an "Open House" being scheduled every 5 mintues. :)

Before and After Shots

We had our Open House today where we were able to meet the students and parents.  I always love seeing everyone right before school starts.  It gets me so excited for a new school year!

I had already shared a few sneak peaks, but as promised, here are my before and after shots.  It feels so good to finally have the room complete.  Although as I type this, I am remembering a few other things I still need to do. :)
Before (right side)
Before (left side)
My daughter working hard on her own job chart...
while I finished up our job chart. :)
And of course, our wonderful Monarch section of the classroom.
I can't wait to gather more caterpillars for the children to watch grow!

So that's my room for now.  I'll share more pics as my room becomes "busier."
For the time being, I'm so happy to finally be able to join the TBA's classroom linky party! :)

Happy Labor Day Weekend everyone!