Sunday, January 20, 2019

FBI Academy

Welcome to the FBI Academy!!

The past two days in my classroom have been filled with SUPER engaging and high energy activities. What started as a simple need (students needing to learn how to highlight) simply got larger and larger and larger! Eventually, I ended up with a full classroom transformation that really wasn't too complicated. 

Step 1: Use black butcher paper to darken my windows. 

Step 2: Spread black lights throughout the room. My room is pretty large and I kept getting worried that I didn't have enough lights! I ended up using 4 lights. 

American Dj Black 48 Blb 4Ft Blacklight Tube And Fixture

I used 2 of the 24 inch lights and 1 of the 48 inch lights. 

This one was perfect for a spotlight on the back corner!

Step 3: Find a teacher friend who isn't afraid of heights to help you string yarn throughout your classroom. I only did the "spy lasers" in the back corner of my classroom. 

**If I were to do this again, I would honestly skip this step. It was exciting for my students, but I didn't really want them playing back there and we didn't have enough time for everyone to get to sit and work in the spy corner.**

That's it! It was definitely the easiest set-up and tear down of a room transformation that I've done yet!


We have an amazing secretary. I had her call down to my classroom with an important message. I wish I had taken a video, butttttt her message essentially said "Ummm 3 men in dark suits and sunglasses just dropped off an envelope and asked for ______ and ______ to come get it from the front office."

The envelope was addressed to our classroom and had a return address that said FBI Headquarters Quantico, VA. The two boys that had been sent RAN all the way back to our classroom and yelled when they got in that the FBI had sent us a package!

Inside the large manila envelope, each student had their own envelope with this message.
This was great! They were all so excited and SO many came in black or dark grey the next day!!

So, how does this connect to curriculum?? Well I noticed that my students did not know what to do with highlighters and were RARELY going back into texts to find answers. This became the basis of the room transformation "finding evidence."

Reading A-Z has great Close Reading passages that are short texts paired with questions that progress from basic to higher order. I took the activity and glued it onto anchor chart paper so that students could complete it in their groups of 3. 

In math, we are preparing to begin our fractions unit. I always do a few days of 3rd and 4th grade fractions review before digging in. This year's fraction review came in the form of a real-life breakout. 

When we went to get our Chromebooks on Thursday, the students were greeted with this sign. 

Students then worked through different activities that included finding equivalent fractions, simplifying fractions, converting mixed numbers and improper fractions, and adding/subtracting fractions. Each activity gave them a different clue which led to them realizing that our principal had "stolen" our Chromebooks! 

You guys! The cheers that erupted when they finally figured it out after day 2 of hard work made it all worth it!

In the end, this was one of the easier room transformations that I have done. The lights were the only expenses, and though they were more than I would have liked to spend, I know I will use them in the future!

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Sunday, January 14, 2018

Beach Teach, Where Have You Been and What are You Doing?

What a great question! Since the last time I blogged, I have moved from my apartment to a townhouse in the city (still close enough to the beach), taken on two new subjects, and started a Beach Teach Instagram!

I am still at my same school and I'm still teaching 5th grade. However, this year I took a leap and am teaching Reading, Math, Science, and Social Studies. While I'm not fully self-contained, I mostly keep the same kids all day, every day. I LOVE IT!!!

I love being with the same kids all day long. I pride myself on the relationships that I have with my students and this year they seem even stronger! With more time together early in the year, gaining their trust and learning each of their interests and quirks was a faster and easier process. It's been rainbows and butterflies in room 508!

Don't get me wrong, it was definitely overwhelming at first. I've had to refresh my memory on Math and Social Studies and have had to do a lot of reflecting early on this year. Now, in January, I feel like I'm in a good place. My class is in the groove, I'm in the lesson planning groove, my students' parents know what to expect, we're flowing! Therefore, it's time for me to start blogging again!!! I'm back at it with plenty of fresh ideas coming to you in 2018.

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Be sure to click follow over there to see posts about collecting data, how I'm structuring my math groups, why I got rid of stations and what I'm doing instead, how I organize our Science notebooks, and much, much more!

Click here to see my Instagram, or find me @beachteach5. Be sure to say hi!

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Monday, August 1, 2016

Best Year Sale

It's that time of year again! Time to stock up on all of those products we've been pinning all summer! We've got to get ready for the Best. Year. Ever!

The site-wide sale runs from August 1-2. Most individual stores are on sale for 20% off. BUT use the code BestYear and you get an extra 8% off! What could be better than 28% off?

Clear out those Wish Lists and get busy!

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Sunday, August 2, 2015

August 2015 Currently

AUGUST?! When did August sneak up on us!? The countdown for school has begun! T-16 days for teacher workdays and T-23 days for students to start. Minor panic attack happening now!

Instead of preparing, I'm going to participate in Farley's August Currently!

Listening: Is there any show better than Gilmore Girls? I love watching this show over and over again.

Loving: Back to School Sale! On August 3rd and 4th use the code BTS15 and save up to 28%! My cart has 4 items in it right now waiting for tomorrow to be purchased! 

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Thinking: I got back from my trip to Maryland/Delaware yesterday and made my list of things to do before school starts. I only had 20 things on it. TWENTY! I'm ready to get to school this week in order to cross some things off of the list.
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Does this list make sense to anyone else?

Wanting: COFFEE. I need coffee! Someone bring me coffee!

Needing: Someone send me some motivation please! I might be heading to the beach instead :)Image result for workout meme

B2SRAK: Sometimes all others need is a smile. I can't wait to be back with my teacher friends!

Coming soon to the blog: A peek in my classroom. Stay tuned!

Sunday, July 26, 2015

A Few of My Favorite Pins

I spent the past week waking up to drinking coffee on a porch with this view:
We had PERFECT weather on Fenwick Island, DE and spent every day in the sand and sun. I love being with my family and escaping from the everyday routine. I'm not quite ready to be back in Carolina yet, so I'm spending another week in Maryland with my family. Summer vacation is a BEAUTIFUL thing.
How to completely waste your time in PD sessions--blog post. Hilarious!
I fully believe in the statement above. I love, love, love Pinterest and all of you teachers who share your innovative ideas with others. This week, I thought that I would share some of my favorite pins with you!
The Classroom Key: Taking the Rocket Science out of Close Reading
I am amazed with how simple and easy to us this Close Reading Planning Sheet is. I can't wait to use it to streamline my small group lessons and goals for when we practice close reading. Best Part? Hannah at The Classroom Key has it listed as a Freebie!
Have a bucket of "Reading Buddies" for silent reading time. :)
Reading Buckets from Teacher by the Beach: 5th graders like to pretend like they're too cool for things they loved when they were smaller. They can't fool me though, I know that sometimes they just want to regress and become little kids again. Because of this, I'm thinking that they might love a stuffed animal to sit with when doing their independent reading. Also, this bucket is perfect for it. My only question/concern - lice?! I'm terrified of those little critters and don't want any part of them. Does anyone have any tricks/tips to prevent lice from jumping from random heads to these animals?
strengthen, build, change/fix schema
Schema File Interactive Anchor Chart: We talk about activating our schema a lot with both fiction and non-fiction, especially when making inferences. I tend to have students make many KWL charts, because they easily allow me to see their prior knowledge and get them thinking about the topic of a passage. I like this chart as an alternative. We know our students a filled with minor and major misconceptions. By including this category, we challenge our readers to analyze their prior knowledge.
What a great activity to add to during a Science or Social Studies unit!
Google "Keyboard Template" and print on colored paper, laminate and you've got Word Work for a day!
Keyboards for word work! At my school, we have very limited access to technology. So, our fifth graders are VERY slow when they type. I'm willing to bet that they would buy into spelling and vocabulary practice if they get to "type" out their words. We also love to use Quizlet so this can be an easy alternative once computers run out.
When my high school students ask a question no one in the class knows (including myself), they can put it up on the Google Board. Students can bring back a written answer to one of the questions of their choice each week for extra credit, or whatever incentive you choose. They get really excited when a question comes up that they can put on the board and find out the answer to later...
Google Board: My students tend to ask the craziest questions that I never have the answer to. My typical response is, "find out the answer tonight, share with us tomorrow, and you will get________________." Only rarely do the students and I remember the next day what our question was the day before. I like that this board can serve as an anchor to our challenging questions.
I'm super excited to implement these next year! What have you been pinning on Pinterest?

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Beach Teach Goes to the Beach

I'm on the road again! I'm heading from my beautiful North Carolina beaches to the slightly further north beaches of Delaware with the family.
In celebration of my escape, I'm throwing a sale on TeachersPayTeachers!
From July 20-July23, my entire store will be on sale. Be sure to check out some of my newest products:
Root Words and Affixes Word Wall
5th Grade ELA Common Core Vocabulary Word Wall
5th Grade Common Core Exit Slips Assessment Bundle - ALL S
5th Grade Common Core Exit Slips Assessment 5.NF
5th Grade Common Core Exit Slips Assessment 5.MD
5th Grade Common Core Exit Slips Assessment 5.G
5th Grade Common Core Exit Slips Assessment 5.OA
Is anyone else traveling this week? Where are you heading?

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Summer Reading: Jan Richardson's "The Next Step in Guided Reading"

I am loving this summer! On top of my traveling, I've had the chance to catch up on many of the books that have been on my list for the past year. One of those books is Jan Richardson's "The Next Step in Guided Reading." It was recommended to me by our curriculum coach early this year, but I just never found the time to read it during the school year.

First, a little background:
- Last year was my first year teaching Reading. Our school departmentalizes, so for my first two years I taught Math and Science. Last year, I took on Reading (one of my classes being AIG) and kept Science. I LOVE teaching Reading.
- Because we departmentalize, we have a 90 minute literacy block. 90 minutes for reading, writing, and grammar. In order to try to fit everything in, I ran literacy stations last year. Each student went through 4 stations each day - Writing, Vocabulary/Grammar, Reading/Reading Response, and Teacher Time. I was able to meet with each group every day. However, I think that my students felt overwhelmed.
- I didn't do nearly enough modeling, because with literacy stations, I had a strict schedule to keep to and often set students free before they were ready.

So, I made time to read what was suggested to me. It really was an easy, practical read.

Realization #1: I didn't do nearly enough assessment/progress monitoring. 

5th grade in NC only mClass tests our bottom 20% of students. For me, that was 8 students. Those students were progress monitored consistently and I really kept up with their data (because I had to). For the other 32 students, I relied on iReady (online program) and district benchmarks. I knew that I should be doing more - but WHEN!?

Jan Richardson suggests different assessments depending on your students' general levels. She gives instructions on how to administer and score the assessments. Next year, I WILL be doing running records with retell/comprehension check for all of my students. I also will do a word study inventory - reading aloud a list of words to determine phonics skills that students need.

Realization #2: Some of my kiddos still need phonics and other basic decoding strategies.

When a 5th grader is reading on a 1st grade level, I need to dig into the 1st grade toolkit to help those students. 

Richardson's book has 4 different models for guided reading lessons - Emergent (pre-A -C), Early Guided Reading (D-I), Transitional Guided Reading (J-P), and Fluent Guided Reading. Next year, I'll write each groups' plans following the models.

Realization #3: I don't have to meet with every group every day.
This took me a minute to wrap my head around. I still had literacy stations in my mind. If I don't meet with every student every day, then students will not get to each station and that's just not fair if I'm giving grades. So, I'm throwing my literacy stations out the window next year. Instead I'm going to steal those creative teachers' ideas of Must do/May do assignments. My plan for now is to have students in partners as they work through activities.

Blog: A Day in the Life of a Classroom Teacher
Realization #4: While I need students to write in response to their reading, I also need to have as much of a separate writing workshop as possible.
Right now here is my thinking for scheduling:

So, there it is. My plan for mastering the 90 minute literacy block. Anyone else out there who has a 90 minute literacy block? Anyone read Jan Richardson's book before? Any suggestions?