Wednesday, August 2, 2017

A Day in the Life of a 3rd Grade Classroom!


Many times I get asked how I structure my day in third grade! Today I am going to go through a quick overview of how our day is structured!

A quick note: Our day does not go perfect everyday, but we work hard to keep this schedule each day!
Students start arriving at 8:50. They come in the classroom, put away all their supplies, put their notes in the turn in, mark their lunch on the smart board, and then they start their morning tubs. The Brown Bag Teacher talks about her morning tubs here. I have used this idea, but made it a little more in depth for 3rd grade. The students need to build something that solves a problem each day with the supplies provided (math supplies, popsicle sticks, spaghetti, etc). They then have to explain to the class the problem it solves. I also will put math flash cards, games, or task cards in the tubs when we are working on certain standards. I change out my morning tubs every two weeks. I have 8 tubs so each group of students should be able to visit each tub in the two week period.
In our morning meeting we start by going over the schedule for the day and week. My kiddos thrive on knowing what is going on. I love to put surprises throughout the week, but I also make sure to tell them each morning everything they need to know. We then either play a game or do a question. This switches everyday. On the question days someone asks a question and then everyone in the class gets a chance to answer. We play so many different games. Many of the games I found for free here!
I LOVE doing my writing in the morning. Students are so focused and relaxed right away in the morning. Usually on Monday I do a whole group lesson with a mentor text. We read the book and talk about the writing structure. Then, throughout the week we go through the writing process or just do creative writing. During this time, I pull kids to my desk to work on their writing one on one or in a small group! You can find my writing with mentor text lessons here!
I usually have one focus standard I work on a week, even though we teach many other standards during the week as well. On Monday, we typically do a reading skill lesson. This teaches the kids the standard in a real life context. It is hands-on and engaging and allows students to work with the difficult terms and skills in a real life applicable way. You can find all my lessons here! Then, Tuesdays we typically read our mentor text and do a whole class lesson. Wednesday and Thursdays usually revolve around group work related to the mentor text and standard. On Thursday or Friday we also do a independent activity with the standard! Although my reading block changes regularly I try to stick to this weekly schedule when planning.
Planning time for me!! Everyday during planning I have a plan on what I will be doing that day. (get it planning=plan)
Monday- I sit down and plan all of my reading plans for the following week. Sometimes I will be a few weeks ahead, but no matter where I am at I plan for a whole week on Monday. If I get extra time I will copy as well!
Tuesday- I sit down and plan all of my math plans just like I did my reading!
Wednesday- On Wednesday I plan all of my interventions, this includes small group and individual. I copy and prepare everything that I need for these interventions and I update all the files for the kiddos that I have on intervention. If I need to do anything for parent volunteers I do that here too!
Thursday- On Thursday I copy anything that needs copied and I grade anything that needs graded.
Friday- I prepare everything for the following week. This includes changing center rotations, creating anchor charts, and changing decor.
We do one 30 minute daily 5 rotation a day. I have found in my third grade classroom my students worked better doing each rotation once a week, but for an extended time. This is just what works for my classroom! So, I have five groups and I meet with them once a week! My students also do Listening to Reading, Word Work, Work on Writing, and a choice station once a week! During Teacher Time we are typically reading a novel. We will typically spend 10 minutes reading, 10 minutes working on the comprehension skill, and 10 minutes working on word work or other skills needed. Then, I assign them reading and sometimes an assignment for the next week!
Another planning time for me!
12:40-1:00- Reading & Individual RTI
I have found that after recess my students love settling down and reading a book! Each day my students come in from recess, grab the book they are reading, and cuddle up in a comfy place in the room! I grab an one student at a time during this time for a quick intervention! You can see how I structure my one on one interventions here! My students really do love this time and it is a perfect time for them to get calm after recess while reading any book that they love!
1:00-1:20- RTI small group/Enrichment
I pull my RTI group at this time. (we switch between math and reading)! This is also the time that groups would be pulled with other teachers around the school. Any student who is not being pulled at this time will work on enrichment projects!
We do math rotations for the rest of the day. I have found that my students are never at the same place when it comes to math, so I teach everything in small group. I typically will teach 20 minute rotations, but some of my lower groups will use up more time! We all will end up testing on the same unit at the same time, but my higher groups get done faster and get to move onto enrichment lessons during this time! My rotations stand for:
M- Math Facts- This is where my students get on the computer. They use Splash Math, Prodigy, or Xtra Math to practice their facts and old skills.
A- At Your Seat- This is where your typical worksheet or workbook activity would go!
T- Teacher Time- This is where the group is at my table getting their lesson for the day.
H- Hands-On- This is where students play games or work with manipulatives.
S- Spiral- I put games or activities from old chapters during this time so they continually practice skills!
We end the day with read aloud and it is the best! Students pack up and instead of acting crazy (you know it happens) they just sit quietly and listen to our read aloud while waiting for the bell. I switch with another teacher every other day. So, every other day during this time I can meet with students to catch them up on anything they need caught up on! You can find my favorite read aloud books here!
We do not do math on Friday, instead we do content rotations. We have five teachers on our team, so every five weeks we each get a new standard. We mix up all our kids and they stay in a group for five weeks. During that time, they go through all five teachers and get a lesson on five different standards. Then, on the sixth week they take an assessment on all those standards. We do six week rotations all year long and get every standard done! It simply is the best!

If you have any more questions on how I structure my day please feel free to comment below or email me at!

Thursday, April 13, 2017

How to Use Google Forms in the Classroom

I love Google! We have Google Chrome Books in our classroom and we LOVE it! One of my favorite ways is to use Google Quizzes which is a step off of  Google Forms. It is great because not only do you take the quiz on the computer so you don't have to  copy, but it will grade it all for you and then give it the results right back to the student! It is such an amazing way to assess that truly is more engaging to students. 

Google Forms does all my assessment work for me! Google forms is a Google tool that allows you to quickly make an assessment, send it to your students, and look at their responses one by one! There is no paper, the kids enjoy it more, and it is quick and easy. The students don't even have to have google accounts to do the forms!! They just need a computer and your link!

Here are some examples of what your kiddos will see once you put the form together. They fill it out and it is quick and painless! Plus, there are so many designs you can also make it CUTE! 
Yes, I just said it that it is painless and cute!!!! 

I love to use this for discussion questions for book clubs. The students will read their assigned chapters for the week and then when they are done they will go quick and answer the questions on the form. They bring the form to their next meeting for quick and easy discussion points!

Another way we use Google Forms is for Quizzes. The students will take the quiz online after they are done with their assigned reading for our whole class novel studies. It will grade it and I will record the grade and print it for their parents, if needed. If you read the Lemonade War or Stone Fox I already have all the quizzes made for you! Check it out by clicking the link here!

I am going to run your through very quickly how you set up a form! Then, you are going to go out right now and make a million assessments and never go to the copier again, sound good? :) 

First, you go to Google Forms and create a new form!
If you want a quiz instead of a form then you are going to hit the setting circle at the top and click quizzes. From there you will hit make it a quiz. You can assign point values and create an answer key!

When you choose your style you add a title and start adding questions! There are so many question choices.  You can make them type or just do all multiple choice, it's your call!

On the side there are lots of options. The plus sign is what you click to add a new question. You can download picture or videos to add to your question. Sometimes, I have my kiddos watch a video and then respond to what they thought of it!! You can do your own pictures and videos or add them right off of google! That last button on the sides lets you add different sections if you want to! The possibilities are endless!

Up at the top you can change the theme! They have tons and tons of fun and cute themes or you can add pictures that you have on your computer! It takes 2.2 seconds and it is adorable. (unless you are like me and will spend an hour scrolling through the screen to find the perfect one that your kids won't care about anyways)! Click the eyeball to preview the document and the send button to send it!
You can share it with your students if they have google accounts or when you hit send it will give you a link that you just give to your students! They even let you shorten the link. EASY! The students click the link, take the quiz, and hit send!

After your students have taken the quiz you will receive their responses. You can look at their responses individually or as a summary! If you want, you can download it into an excel sheet for easy grading! I find it easiest to just look at kids one by one and add their grade to the grade book! SO SIMPLE! The only downfall is giving them feedback! I typically will call them up while I am grading if we need to discuss or send them a chat box on Google!
Do you see my kids restating of questions?!?!? Yes, child you get an A+ and you will be my favorite forever! ;)

I know, that this was a ton of information, but let me tell you it is oh so worth it! It is the quickest, easiest, and most engaging way to assess!! Look at my kiddos LOVING their google forms!

You can even have them create their own quiz on what they read and then give it to another student. They LOVE it!

The possibilities are endless! You can give exit tickets, worksheets, videos, pictures, and the list goes on and on! Turn anything into this paperless Google Form!

Friday, March 10, 2017

The Power of a Friendly Read

I love book clubs and I love when students are reading the same book. But we do not have the time to do book clubs all the time and plus I know kids get tired of having an assigned reading. Due to both of these things I decided to start friendly reads! 

So, what is a friendly read?

Friendly Reads are the new type of book club. They are a book club that will motivate even your most reluctant readers to want to read new novels.

Students are externally motivated by their friends and their peers. We all know this because us adults are too! So, as teachers we need to use that motivation to help our students want to read more interesting novels. Friendly reads can do just that!

For a friendly read I find two best friends or two students that have very similar interests. If I am not sure of two students that are best friends or have similar interests I will pull up a student to my desk. This student is typically a reluctant reader or a reader who I really want reading a new novel. I will ask them about some people in the class who have similar interests as them or ask them about someone they would love to read a book with. This conversation can help lead to the group.

Then, I pair two students together. You can pair two or three students together, but never go past three because if you go past three students you have changed from a friendly read to a book club! :)

The two students meet me back where I house my book club books. I ask them both the following questions:
1. What type of books are your favorite?
2. What series of books have you enjoyed in the past?
3. What is something that you are both interested in?
4. If you had to pick a favorite genre what would it be and why?

Then, I use the answers to those questions to find similar interests. I will hand them at least two books to try. You want to give them some sort of options because it makes them have ownership of what they are reading. They will do a book walk and discussion and decide if one of those books are a good fit for the two of them. If not, I will hand them more books till they find a book that works for both students.Then, you give them both a copy of the same book to read. They each need to have their own copy if you want to run these correctly.

There are some rules that go along with these friendly reads, but I try to not put too many  stipulations on the read. One thing I find is that students need to just read for enjoyment and not because they have to read the assigned pages or because they have to fill out the graphic organizer when they get done. The point of the friendly read is to just  get a student reading and motivate them to want to finish their novel, not to force them to read.

When they start the friendly read I tell them the following things:
1. You want to stay close to the same spot in your books, so when you are talking about the book no one is giving away important parts. I suggest that when we have silent reading you sit near each other to make sure that you are reading around the same pace. If one of you are reading ahead of the other one, stop and read a different book to let your friend catch up.
2. You may discuss your book immediately following silent reading each day for 5 minutes. This is not a structured discussion because I just want you to talk to your friend about what you are reading, but you have to talk about the novel the entire time.
3. When you have completed the novel, I will give you some enjoyable online assignments to fill out to show me you know what you read! Then, you can complete a book project together on the novel.

The students then go on to read the book, discuss the book and complete the final project. They are motivated to read and understand what they are reading because their best friend is doing it too. They also love the idea that they will get to complete a project together when they are done! You will watch your most reluctant readers finish whole novels because they are motivated by their best friend completing the novel too. The power of peer motivation will be amazing in your classroom!

When the students are done I will give them one or two graphic organizers to fill out. These will just show me that they understand key reading terms that we are working on related to their novel. I put these on Google Drive to make it more engaging to the students. You can find those here! 

When they are done they get to look through my book club project binder. They pick one project that they want to complete and then they get to work on going through all of the steps. You can find all twenty book club projects here! 

I can't wait to see how friendly reads change your classroom reading program!

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Sunday, February 19, 2017

10 Memorable Read Aloud Novels

We LOVE read aloud in third grade! I love reading aloud just for enjoyment and I also love completing novel studies with my students.

So, what is the difference of a plain read aloud and a novel studies?

Well, we do a read aloud every single day. For a read aloud I read to the students and ask questions for discussion throughout the book. But we do nothing with the book. No graphic organizers, no tests, no nothing! We just read for enjoyment and discussion.

For a novel study, we all have a copy of the book. We read it together and complete discussions, quizzes, projects and work on skills for each chapter. When we are in a novel study it is my main teaching source during that time. I am not reading other books or working on anything else. We just are working on all skills throughout the entire novel.

Many people ask me all the time what my favorite novels are for third grade. So, this is a round up post of my favorites. If you click on any of the books it will take you right to the novel on Amazon. (these are affiliate links)

Third Grade Angels
This is a great read aloud to start out third grade. It teaches students all about kindness and rules in third grade. If you have a VIP program it is also a great introduction into the program. It is all about a kid working very hard in third grade to be the first "Angel" of the class, but in the end it shows that kindness is more important then anything else.

This is a great book about a giant and a little girl that teaches the students so many life lessons. It is also very entertaining and engaging.

The Lemonade War
This is a great book to teach during your economics unit. This teaches the students so many economics skills, plus it is very relatable and engaging. We complete this novel study with the book and this economics unit when we are done!

This is a classic book that students LOVE every year. Every student loves a good dog story and it is great for them to compare life today to life back then. We complete this novel study with the book!

Stone Fox
This is my favorite novel study of the year. The students always LOVE this book. Plus, it ties great into the Iditarod, which we study each year. Read how we focus on the Iditarod here!

Magic Tree House- Fact Trackers
These are the best nonfiction novels I have ever found for read aloud. They are engaging and entertaining to the kiddos, but they also offer lots of facts. The best part is each fact finder goes with a fiction book. So, after you read the nonfiction book you can have the students read the fiction book to compare and contrast the two!

Cam Jansen
These are GREAT books to introduce the mystery genre to your students. They are easy to read and understand so every reader can comprehend the book, but they are engaging to even your highest reader. I suggest Cam Jansen and the Mystery of the Stolen Diamonds!

The Secret Zoo
My students LOVE the Secret Zoo series. It is all about a group of kids that get trapped inside a zoo where the animals talk. It is a zoo behind the real zoo. It is very engaging and after you read the first one your kids will want to read the rest!

Story Thieves
These books are all about students who find themselves trapped in different novels. You will get your students to love this series, but you will also introduce them to so many books that the characters jump into!

The Adventures of Humphrey
All my students love the Humphrey novels. They are all about a class pet hamster. It is written in the point of view of the hamster and the students find it HILARIOUS! When they are done reading one of the books they will want to read the whole series!

I hope you can pull some of these books into your read aloud or novel studies. Each book (besides Shiloh and Stone Fox) are apart of a larger series. So, after you read one of the books to your students they will be begging you to read the rest or just begging to get to read the rest!