Using Google Forms as a Reading Log Alternative

So, this school year happened, hasn't it?

Switching grade levels has really put a hold on any blogging I've done, but I have this awesome idea to share with you all that I'm making time to blog!

A couple of factors have changed since moving up to fourth grade... obviously my students have a completely different set of needs than my second graders did.  Learning to readjust my thinking and make things more relevant and engaging for my students has become a focus for me.

Veterans Day Activities FREEBIE

Veterans Day is November 11th, 2016.  One of my favorite ways to honor our military families is during my Language Arts block with activities that celebrate veterans' dedication to our country.  Read on to check out my Veterans Day Unit Lessons FREEBIE!


Veterans Day activities for Language Arts.  Veterans Day activities for Reading and Writing.





We start the activities by drawing a graphic organizer in our writing notebooks.


Veterans Day activities for Language Arts.  Veterans Day activities for Reading and Writing.



Next, we read the following mentor texts.  Students collect words and phrases that help them fill in the graphic organizer.


Veterans Day activities for Language Arts.  Veterans Day activities for Reading and Writing.



Veterans Day activities for Language Arts.  Veterans Day activities for Reading and Writing.



Veterans Day activities for Language Arts.  Veterans Day activities for Reading and Writing.


After we've collected filled out our organizers, I hand out a writing rubric and we discuss the expectations for the paragraph(s) students will write.




I then meet with small writing groups to:
•Complete the graphic organizer
•Write 1-2 paragraphs
•Edit/Revise the paragraph according to the rubric criteria

Challenge for early finishers:
•Type  the paragraph(s) and print.
•Write a friendly letter to a veteran using the example letter included in the packet.





If you'd like to pick up a FREE copy, click here.


How do you celebrate Veterans Day?  I'd love to hear about it!







Teaching Math Equality to Primary Children

My first graders are working on our equality unit this week. This is one unit that makes me cringe just a little bit because of the challenge of it, especially being at the beginning of the school year. Here's some of the things we have been learning:

We sorted subtraction (seen here) and addition (not pictured) sentences for different ways to equal a difference or a sum.

Alphabet Journals...4 Steps for Journal Writing

First grade teachers work hard every year to send independent readers and writers to second grade.  But every first grade teacher forgets what September means in first grade...it means they are still kindergartners.  The re-post can be a good idea for journals at the beginning of first grade.

What can I write about?

UGH!  This is one way to curb the "I don't know what to write about blues."  These alphabet journals combine decoding, illustrating and writing in a way that can be completely individualized.
Writing can be challenging at the beginning of first grade. These journals can help students decode, create, and illustrate.
I have always suggested teachers use the sound chart as a topic chart for writing, but whe I sat down to make a journal for that, I decided I could make the journal decodable.

4 Easy Steps

Writing can be challenging at the beginning of first grade. These journals can help students decode, create, and illustrate.

1.  Decode.

Each page has a decodable picture.  MOST pages are cvc words (dig for d, log for l, pan for p).  The highlighted initial letter keeps the journal is alphabetical order.  Of course, the vowels were tricky.  I have 2 options for each of the vowels.  Option #1 has a cvc word with the vowel highlighted in the middle.  Option #2 is a two-letter or three-letter word starting with the vowel (ant for a and up for you).
Writing can be challenging at the beginning of first grade. These journals can help students decode, create, and illustrate.

2. Illustrate.

If you want a good story, give your students time to make a good illustration.  Each page includes a clip art picture for the decodable word.  Students will complete the picture.  The picture above shows a boy digging on a construction site.  Another student used the same picture to draw a garden scene and a third student drew a the boy digging with a pirate flag in the picture.
Writing can be challenging at the beginning of first grade. These journals can help students decode, create, and illustrate.

3.  Write.

Of course, this is the goal.  Students have to write about their picture.  The more detail in the picture, the more detail in the writing.  "The gum is in the gum shop. The gum is mine.  The gum is different colors. The gum comes out."
Writing can be challenging at the beginning of first grade. These journals can help students decode, create, and illustrate.

4. Repeat.

Students can use this journal to create a book of stories.  

If you'd like a FREEBIE sample of this set, feel free to click on the picture below or CLICK HERE
If you would like to visit my TPT store and check out Alphabet Journals, click the picture below or CLICK HERE.  There is also Set 2, 3, and 4.

Constitution Day Activities

Are you searching for meaningful activities for Constitution Day?  Would you like to be able to conduct your Constitution Day activities during multiple core subjects?  If you said yes, then this post is for you!






I always like to try to combine my social studies curriculum with my language arts, and Constitution Day is no exception. Combining my Constitution activities during both subjects means I'm not confined to a single subject or block of time.

First, I like to make an anchor chart as a class of freedoms at home and school.  I keep it up for reference during the Constitution Day activities.  More on that later!

After making the anchor chart, we read a book I LOVE, We the Kids, to teach the preamble!  It's great for read-aloud or you can assign parts of it to older students to explore.


We the Kids book to introduce the Preamble to the Constitution.


Flipped Classroom idea:  There's also plenty of videos on YouTube of people reading the book.  You could assign the video for homework the night/days before Constitution Day.  Then, students can come in and be ready to talk about it without a read-aloud.

After reading the book and/or watching the video, we revisit our anchor chart and put stars beside the freedoms that were also mentioned in the Preamble  

Next, I like to explore the vocabulary of the Preamble because it is so challenging robust.  I love the language used, but most students don't have any background knowledge of words like "posterity".  To do this, I use a graphic organizer.


The first version of the organizer provides support with pictures and synonyms for the meaning of the Preamble vocabulary.


Constitution Day activities.  Vocabulary graphic organizer for the Preamble to the Constitution.


The second organizer is a "challenge" for students who are ready to tackle synonyms and vocabulary independently.


Constitution Day activities.  Vocabulary graphic organizer for the Preamble to the Constitution.


If you'd like to pick up a copy, click here.


Do you have Constitution Day activities or materials that make the day fun?  I'd love to hear about them!


Constitution Day activities that can be done in Language Arts and Social Studies or Civics class.   Vocabulary graphic organizer for the Preamble to the Constitution.


Where to Find Free Resources for Your Classroom

In this post, you will find a list of sites and places you can visit to get free resources for your classroom!
Good afternoon!  This is Meghan from 'Vestal's 21st Century Classroom' and today I want to share information about one of the most important things to any teacher... how to get free stuff for your classroom!  According to researchers, the average teacher spends between $500-$600 out of pocket each school year.  Personally, I have always thought this number seemed a little low but, either way, that's a lot of money!  In recent years, more sites and stores have begun offering ways for teachers to get free resources.  You just have to know where to go and what to ask for.  Here is a list I have compiled of some of the best places to find free resources for your classroom:
In this post, you will find a list of sites and places you can visit to get free resources for your classroom!
Donors Choose is one of absolute favorite teacher sites and has been a huge blessing to my classroom!  This site operates as a crowd funding site for teachers.  Post a project and then anyone who logs onto the site can donate money towards the project.  The nice thing is donors get to select how much they want to give towards the project.  It can be as little as $5 or more than $1,000.  I have been given games, books, basic supplies, and even a white board through Donors Choose.  Donors Choose is also backed by several legitimate sources including the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, CNN, and the Wall Street Journal.  Keep it mind, if you use Donors Choose, it does require some work.  In addition to writing the initial project summary, you also have to send your donors pictures and thank you notes from the students.
In this post, you will find a list of sites and places you can visit to get free resources for your classroom!
With Adopt a Classroom, donors are able to adopt a classroom for a year or give a one time gift.  If they choose to adopt a classroom for a year, the donors agree to give a set amount of money to the classroom each month.  The nice thing about Adopt a Classroom is that you do not have to keep posting new projects, like with Donors Choose.  Rather, you can put the money that is donated each month to whatever supplies you need that month.  The downside to Adopt a Classroom is that it is not as well known as Donors Choose.  Since fewer people are aware of it, I have found it more challenging to gain support.
In this post, you will find a list of sites and places you can visit to get free resources for your classroom!
I just learned about From One Hand to Another and am very excited about it because it primarily benefits Virginia classrooms!  From One Hand to Another was founded in 2008 by music superstar and Virginia native, Pharell Williams.  This organization is guaranteed to leaving Virginia teachers feeling "happy."  Each year From Hand to Another hosts a huge back to school donation program.  If you are in need of classroom supplies, be sure to reach out to the organization soon to see if you can take part.  Also, if you register on the From One Hand to Another website, elementary and middle school classrooms can gain access to free content and lessons.  Finally, if you live in the Virginia Beach area, be sure to look into the From One Hand to Another summer camp.  Each summer more than 500 students are treated to this free camp.
In this post, you will find a list of sites and places you can visit to get free resources for your classroom!
Over the years, one thing I have learned is communities want to help students and schools.  Sometimes you just have to be willing to ask for help.  I have received classroom donations from McDonald's, local bookstores, doctor offices, markets, Amazon, and movie theaters.  To do this, I just draft a simple letter that explains what my students need and how the donation will benefit my students.  The important part of writing donation letters is to deliver the letter in person and ask to speak a manager.  This option does take some time but it also gets the community involved in your classroom.
In this post, you will find a list of sites and places you can visit to get free resources for your classroom!
Teachers Pay Teachers should be saved in every teachers 'favorites' folder.  While most products on Teachers Pay Teachers are paid resources, there are also thousands of free lesson plans and activities.  Sellers post free products as a way to generate interest in their stores.  So, if you download free content, be sure to follow the seller's store and/or leave feedback.

I hope you have discovered some new ways to get resources for your classroom this school year.  If you know of any places or sites (that are not listed here) that offer free teacher resources, be sure to leave a comment.  
In this post, you will find a list of sites and places you can visit to get free resources for your classroom!


Your Local Reading Council

Hi! This is Heather from Campfire Curriculum with Helpful Heather.  Would you like to have personalized assistance with your professional development?  Do you wish that there were community events that were free for families of your students?  Teachers are always looking for ways to expand their own knowledge and help their school/students!  This post will open your eyes to all of the wonderful things that your local reading council offers and give you assistance and excitement for the new school year!


Would you like to have personalized assistance with your professional development?  Do you wish that there were community events that were free for families of your students?  Teachers are always looking for ways to expand their own knowledge and help their school/students!  This post will open your eyes to all of the wonderful things that your local reading council offers and give you assistance and excitement for the new school year!


Your Local Reading Council

An Overview

 Certain communities are fortunate enough to have a local reading council.  I am a proud member of the Chesapeake Reading Council (CRC).  The mission of CRC is to "promote literacy throughout our city".  The Virginia State Reading Association (VSRA) is a professional organization that has the same mission for the entire state of Virginia.  Our state association falls under the International Literacy Association (ILA), formerly known as the International Reading Association.  With membership to my local reading council I automatically become a member of the VSRA.  I am also a member of the ILA.  I urge you all to join your city, state, and international association....... read to find out why!
Would you like to have personalized assistance with your professional development?  Do you wish that there were community events that were free for families of your students?  Teachers are always looking for ways to expand their own knowledge and help their school/students!  This post will open your eyes to all of the wonderful things that your local reading council offers and give you assistance and excitement for the new school year!


A Partnership With Your Public School System

Chesapeake Public Schools has been an amazing supporter of CRC!  Before the official school year starts, our Superintendent, Dr. Roberts meets with our Executive Board.  The Board shares their ideas for the year and shares the new calendar of events.  Dr. Roberts shares his ideas and assists in making CRC a strong partner of Chesapeake Public Schools.  Dr. Roberts is always one of the first official members every year!
Would you like to have personalized assistance with your professional development?  Do you wish that there were community events that were free for families of your students?  Teachers are always looking for ways to expand their own knowledge and help their school/students!  This post will open your eyes to all of the wonderful things that your local reading council offers and give you assistance and excitement for the new school year!
Dr. Roberts with the 2016-17 CRC Executive Board

 Dr. Roberts also invites CRC to the yearly Administrator's Back-To-School General Conference.  The President of CRC addresses all of the administrators in the city.  The administrators lend their support by becoming members, choosing CRC building representatives, and participating in the CRC activities throughout the school year.
Would you like to have personalized assistance with your professional development?  Do you wish that there were community events that were free for families of your students?  Teachers are always looking for ways to expand their own knowledge and help their school/students!  This post will open your eyes to all of the wonderful things that your local reading council offers and give you assistance and excitement for the new school year!
Dr. Roberts with the CRC 2014-15 Executive Board at the Administrator's Back-To-School General Conference.  Our first official t-shirts were being revealed that morning "Keep Calm and Read On!" 

 

Fun and Free Literacy-Based Nights For Your Students

Would you like to have personalized assistance with your professional development?  Do you wish that there were community events that were free for families of your students?  Teachers are always looking for ways to expand their own knowledge and help their school/students!  This post will open your eyes to all of the wonderful things that your local reading council offers and give you assistance and excitement for the new school year! 
CRC hosts fun literacy nights every year!  The students that come are treated to swag, literacy based activities, treats, and most important a great book!  For the last few years (including this up and coming year) Cathy Collier (ILA Board Member, a Past President of VSRA and CRC) comes to read one of her favorite books to our local students.  Families can enjoy a fun night out for free!  The parents and children love these nights out together and look forward to them year after year!

 

Activities Through the School...... and More!

Would you like to have personalized assistance with your professional development?  Do you wish that there were community events that were free for families of your students?  Teachers are always looking for ways to expand their own knowledge and help their school/students!  This post will open your eyes to all of the wonderful things that your local reading council offers and give you assistance and excitement for the new school year! 
CRC holds certain city wide school events!  The elementary aged students participate in the Young Writers' Event (top right).  Students become authors of their own book or a class book.  Those books are displayed the night of the event and the authors receive a _______.  The middle and high school students can participate in the Literacy Jam (left).  Students who participate in the Literacy Jam can win awards and be able to read their submissions to the audience.  Every year we also host extra other events that are free to the community.  One year we were fortunate enough to have Steve Somers Amazing Teacher magic show Fizz Boom Read.  Those who came out to the event were treated to a fantastic magic show based around literacy (bottom right)!!!

 

Honoring Those Who Make Epic Strides for Literacy City Wide!

Would you like to have personalized assistance with your professional development?  Do you wish that there were community events that were free for families of your students?  Teachers are always looking for ways to expand their own knowledge and help their school/students!  This post will open your eyes to all of the wonderful things that your local reading council offers and give you assistance and excitement for the new school year!
James D. Mullins Leadership Award 2014-15 was Kim Pinello, Principal from Hickory Elementary School (Left).  James D. Mullins Leadership Award 2015-16 was Sonya Beasley, Principal from Southwestern Elementary School (Center).  Reading Teacher of the Year for Chesapeake and Virginia State, Laurie Lees (Reading Specialist at Hickory Elementary School).
Each year CRC celebrates amazing dedication to literacy through numerous awards.  Each school chooses a Reading Teacher of the Year.  From those teachers a Reading Teacher is chosen to represent the entire city.  This past year Chesapeake's Reading Teacher of the Year went on to become the Reading Teacher for the state of Virginia!  Administrators are also able to win the prestigious James D. Mullins Leadership Award.


Community Outreach

Would you like to have personalized assistance with your professional development?  Do you wish that there were community events that were free for families of your students?  Teachers are always looking for ways to expand their own knowledge and help their school/students!  This post will open your eyes to all of the wonderful things that your local reading council offers and give you assistance and excitement for the new school year!
Chesapeake Reading Council has a huge heart!  Every year they participate in community outreach events in their own community and beyond.  CRC participates in the Chesapeake Regional Hospital's Baby Fair.  Books, literacy based toys, and literature on "how to help your child read" have been given away to hundreds of expectant and new mothers over the years (left).  Workshops were led by CRC Board Members at the Chesapeake R U Ready Family night to help students with comprehension skills this past year (top right).  Once a year CRC reaches beyond their local boarders and supports literacy in other countries.  This past year students in Haiti were given books to support their library.  In the 2014-15 school year CRC gave backpacks and books to students in China (bottom right). 

End of the Year Celebrations!

Would you like to have personalized assistance with your professional development?  Do you wish that there were community events that were free for families of your students?  Teachers are always looking for ways to expand their own knowledge and help their school/students!  This post will open your eyes to all of the wonderful things that your local reading council offers and give you assistance and excitement for the new school year!
Chesapeake Reading Council also celebrates the great things that happen throughout the year!  Every year the Reading Teachers of the Year (RTOY)  are celebrated.  This year a local author (Jen Milius) and a speaker were invited to the event.  RTOYs also shared their great ideas, were invited to participate in a book exchange, and had yummy food in their honor!  We also have a yearly banquet where RTOYS and Building Representatives (among others) are thanked and celebrated!

 

Chesapeake Reading Council's Great Year Ahead!


Would you like to have personalized assistance with your professional development?  Do you wish that there were community events that were free for families of your students?  Teachers are always looking for ways to expand their own knowledge and help their school/students!  This post will open your eyes to all of the wonderful things that your local reading council offers and give you assistance and excitement for the new school year!Would you like to have personalized assistance with your professional development?  Do you wish that there were community events that were free for families of your students?  Teachers are always looking for ways to expand their own knowledge and help their school/students!  This post will open your eyes to all of the wonderful things that your local reading council offers and give you assistance and excitement for the new school year!Would you like to have personalized assistance with your professional development?  Do you wish that there were community events that were free for families of your students?  Teachers are always looking for ways to expand their own knowledge and help their school/students!  This post will open your eyes to all of the wonderful things that your local reading council offers and give you assistance and excitement for the new school year!

Our new shirts are ready!!!  They are inspired by the VSRA theme for the 2016-17 year "Literacy:  The Root Of All Learning".  I'm so excited to be able to wear my shirt proudly!

So much happens due to the hard work and dedication of the CRC Executive Board, Committee Members, and volunteers!  Take a look at the Calendar of Events for this coming year!  I'm so excited to participate in every single event.

 

Would you like to have personalized assistance with your professional development?  Do you wish that there were community events that were free for families of your students?  Teachers are always looking for ways to expand their own knowledge and help their school/students!  This post will open your eyes to all of the wonderful things that your local reading council offers and give you assistance and excitement for the new school year!

 

In this post I have listed a few things that make CRC great but I couldn't list them all.  Please take a look at the Benefits of Membership (below) to see the extent of what is available to CRC members. 

Would you like to have personalized assistance with your professional development?  Do you wish that there were community events that were free for families of your students?  Teachers are always looking for ways to expand their own knowledge and help their school/students!  This post will open your eyes to all of the wonderful things that your local reading council offers and give you assistance and excitement for the new school year!

 

What Will Make YOUR Reading Council Great This Year?

Tell me about your reading council!  Are you already a member?  What activities are your favorite?  What events are up and coming?  Do you have questions?  I know that many of blog followers and post readers are already involved..... so share some ideas or events so that we can all support them!  Thank you!  I can't wait to hear from you all!!!

 

 

 

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Would you like to have personalized assistance with your professional development?  Do you wish that there were community events that were free for families of your students?  Teachers are always looking for ways to expand their own knowledge and help their school/students!  This post will open your eyes to all of the wonderful things that your local reading council offers and give you assistance and excitement for the new school year!

Classroom Communication: Bloomz Review

Classroom Communication: Using the Bloomz App
*I have not received anything in return for this review from Bloomz.*

It's like finding the match to the glass slipper in Cinderella - the perfect classroom communication tool.  Some parents don't check email. Some parents prefer text messages.  Some parents like Facebook or Instagram.  What's a girl to do?  Communicating from the classroom isn't my forte - and it's usually the thing that gets put on the back burner when I'm swamped.  I'm hoping free App and website Bloomz the answer!