Monday, August 31, 2015

September A Poem Each Week

 Click to Access this FREE September A Poem Each Week resource. 

Don't leave, we have moved but you can still get this free download!  Just hop on over to my new site. You will find plenty of free lessons and ideas on poetry, classroom management, and more!

Monday, August 17, 2015

Language Tool: Poetry Throughout the Year

This week I am linking up with #Teachermom for another week of the Building Back to School Link-Up.  This week I am sharing with you ways that poetry can enhance your language curriculum.  

Poetry is such a great teaching tool and I have found it being the thing that is last on the list when teaching literature.  There are so many wonderful ways to use poetry.

1. Running Records
2. Teaching Fluency
3. Read Alouds (especially on the days when time is tight)
4. Teaching ELA Standards
5. Inferencing
6. Parts of Speech

The list could go on and on.  One the newest ways I have used poetry is in my Literacy Center.  I have been able to incorporate many of the common core standards in this center.  I wrote each poem used in the center so it would address the standards and skills I feel the students need at that time.  I have used both an activity board where every student does each assignment and as a choice board.

I love that poetry allows students to ability to really dissect the word choice and look at the different parts of speech.  I have found that most students, especially students with reading difficulty, love poetry.  It is shorter, and therefore brings less stress.  Students can quickly see the beginning and end.

With these centers I have also been able to incorporate math, science, and social studies.  I created a What Is Poetry Book to accompany the August/September Center (on SALE now).  This book teaches the poetry vocabulary and types of poetry that will be used throughout the school year.

Below you will find all of the topics used throughout the school year in the Poetry Literacy Centers for the Year

You can access my FREE Groundhog Day Poetry Literacy Center here

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Saturday, August 15, 2015

A Poem Each Week - Introduction

A Poem Each Week is a free program designed to get students reading and talking about poetry. Each week students/classes will read one poem.  The list of poems (you can find in school and local libraries and many are available online) and free discussion starters and activities will be available on my blog Notes from the Portable ( before the beginning of each month.   

Poetry is a great way to get students reading for many reasons.

  1. It isn’t long and intimidating.
  2. There are many types of poems that reach a variety of kids.
  3. They are great for transformations where students can write poems similar to a great author.
  4. They use excellent word choice.  

We want to encourage students to discuss the poems. Some great ways to get them talking:
  1. Print out the discuss cards and have a leader at each lunch table ask the questions as a talking point for students.  Then after lunch have a whole class share about what was discussed at lunch.
  2. Have students share their thoughts and reflections through various forms of social media - twitter (I will host a twitter chat twice a week to discuss the poems), Facebook (You can post on your own sites or I will have a post for students to comment on my page as well), edmodo, kidblog, class webpages, etc.  Use what tools work for you and your classroom.  If you don’t have class time to discuss in class encourage students to do this outside of school.  It ‘s a great way to gets families reading together and the parents can see the online discussions.  If you do share please use either the # for the program (#apoemeachweek15-16, or the # for each poem - see the one issued for each poem here or in the discussion starter handout)
  3. Have a graffiti wall in the classroom where students can write responses and thoughts for the poem of the week.  

September Poems:
Week 1 - Sarah Cynthia Sylvia Stout - Shel Silverstein
Week 2 - Bed In Summer by Robert Louis Stevenson
Week 3 - Mine by Lillian Moore
Week 4 - Fog by Carl Sandburg
Additional information and ideas will be available on August 24, 2015.  

Please remember to follow copyright laws when using these published poems.  All of these poems can be found in school and public libraries for you to check out for your class.  Also, many of these can be found on websites you can access that have permission to publish the poems.  Please don’t share photos of the poems you read.  

Want additional resources to help you teach poetry?  Check out:

Monday, August 10, 2015

Classroom Tools: Assessing Students Throughout the Year

I am linking up again this week with #Teacher Mom for the second week of Building Back to School. This week we will be discussing Classroom Tools. 

One thing I always wanted for my classroom was a daily assessment where I could get accurate data on what the students know.  I also wanted data on my science and social studies.  It was important for me to see what my students could do on their own.  I had found many homework packets or assignments that could be used for morning work, but they didn't fit my need.  Homework never gave me a true picture of what my students could do and most of the morning work assignments had too many questions.

I decided to make a daily assessment for myself.  My goal was to introduce ELA and math topics and then gradually give students more to do on their own each day.

With the science and social studies I wanted them to reflect research in the real world.  If the students don't know the answers to the science and social studies questions then they should be able to use the key words to research and find the answer.  One of the main goals of 21st Century Learners is that students are able to find and use information.

The other goal of this daily assessment is that it could be completed rather quickly.  This would help keep up with all students completing the assignment each day regardless of their arrival time.  It could also be an easy assignment for students to work on when they finish other subjects early.  And if a student was absent several days it would be easy make-up work.

So with all of those goals in mind I began my 3rd grade Daily Assessment.  You can access the first quarter daily assessment here.   The description tells all of the topics covered in the quarter for all subjects.  The Combo Pack link is available here.  The third grade pack for the entire year (180 days) will be completed in the next month and the fourth grade pack is in the works.

Enter the giveaway below to win the 3rd Grade Daily Assessment - Quarter 1.  Also check out the other bloggers in this link up for additional classroom tools to build your school year.

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Thursday, August 6, 2015

3 Ways to Effectively Communicate with Parents

I am linking up again with Erin Shurbutt from Snazzy In Second for the final week of our Back 2 School link-up. This week we are discussing effective ways to communicate with parents.  Here are 3 easy ways.

1. Student Weekly Self-Assessment:
I used to spend a great deal of my week preparing behavior checklists to go home with students each week.  I never felt this was very effective or a good use of my time.  I began handing that responsibility over to the students.  I created a weekly self-assessment that students used to assess their week.  You can read more about this and get freebies here.

I found that this opened up more communication with parents and the students. The results were much more authentic since it came from the students.

2. Weekly Newsletter:
Google Docs makes it so easy to share materials with students.  When I began teaching I felt that it was the responsibility of my students to communicate the events with parents, but now that I have my own kids who come home and tell me "I don't know,"  I realized that parents need a window into the classroom.  This newsletter doesn't have to be anything elaborate, just get out the important information and dates.  Having it online saves paper, but it is easy to make copies for those parents who prefer a hard copy.  Keep old copies and add the newest one to the front.  Then you have documentation of communication throughout the year.

3. Remind App:
This app is a great tool to use with students and parents.  With the age of technology most families have a phone with texting capabilities.  Learn more about this app at

Monday, August 3, 2015

Teacher Tools to Help Organize Your Year

For the entire month of August I am linking up with #Teacher Mom for Building Back to School. This first week we will be discussing Teacher Tools.  One of my favorite teacher tools was an inspiration that came after mentoring several new teachers.  I realized that many of the necessary things teachers need on the first day of school hadn't been taught to them in college courses and many times they do student teaching in the spring and their cooperating teachers have already taught the students how to meet their expectations.  

I joined forces with one of my favorite people, Erin from Snazzy in Second and we created a list of all the items we thought new teachers need to have covered before the students darken the doors.  We sat and discussed the various ways we have taught or carried out our procedures over the years. Some things we were super organized with and others were "organized chaos."  For each policy we listed "The Super Organized Teacher" and "The Organized Chaos Teacher" way.  We also provided editable versions so each teacher could edit the policy to fit their classroom needs.

We began by looking at our classroom policies (pencils, snacks, water, tissues, supplies, computers, parent communication and student behavior).  These were the simple things that are part of every day.  You can read more about this section and download great freebies here.

Classroom Policies
We then focused on moving about the room and school. It is critical that students know your expectations for moving throughout the building with you and without you.  In this section we provide solutions for entering the classroom, lining up and walking in the hallway, going to the bathroom, student errands, packing up, field trips, and dismissal.  The end of the school day is such a crazy time with all of the after school activities it is important that students know where they are heading each day.  I have some great ideas and freebies available here to help ensure that your students know what you expect!

Great ways to keep up with the classroom comings and goings. 

Organization of paperwork and materials came next.  This section focuses on classroom libraries, turning in classwork, homework, morning work, and notes from home.  We also suggest student jobs that will help you get everything completed each day.  And suggestions for using parent volunteers is provided.
Great tools to help organize parent and student volunteers
and all of that paperwork! 
The last area we looked at was lesson procedures. We focused on answering these questions:
1. What to do with early finishers?
2. How to establish your classroom rules and expectations?
3. How should students answer questions?
4. What is expected with student group work?
5. How do I carry out a successful independent reading block?

This teacher tool is on sale here until August 9th.  Go check it out!

What other procedures do you feel need to be provided to help new teachers reduce that beginning of the school year stress?  You can find more ideas in the links below.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Notes to My Children - #1

I have never been great about documenting the lives of my children.  I tried to be one of those on top of it moms who had monthly photos of my kids, but after month 3 time got away from me.  With my second kid he got photos on my phone but nothing with a monthly sticker on his chest.  Heck, the only reason he has a photo up in the house is that his preschool made me a framed picture for Mother's Day.  I don't have height charts, or files of artwork, and I definitely don't have monthly pregnancy pictures.  That, however, doesn't mean I don't love my children.

At night when everyone is asleep I lay in bed thinking of all of the things I should tell my children. The words I should say during the day, but get lost in the busy shuffle of the day.  And at 18 months, and 3 years, they might not sit to hear or understand them all.  I decided to write them monthly notes so they know all of the things I want for them.  Here is the first installment of Notes to My Children.

Dear G and Beni,

The most important thing you need to know is that you are loved.  You are loved through the temper tantrums and the early morning wake-ups.  You are loved while you refuse to eat, or get dressed, or go to the potty.  You are loved in every second of the day.

From the moment I held you both, you were loved fiercely.  Each of you have your own story.  G girl you decided to arrive 2 weeks early. Being early has been the theme to your first 3 years of life.  You were early to walk, to climb, to swing upside down on the bars, to sing your favorite songs, and to question the ways of the world.  Beni, you came on the day we chose, New Year's Eve.  You have spent your 18 months doing everything as planned.  As long as you are "up" you are content with the ways of the world.

Your hugs, kisses, snuggles, and words motivate me to be the best mother I can be.  I am blessed to have two wonderful people enter my world.   You amaze me day in and day out with your love for others, your passion for learning, and your zest for life.

Always know that you are loved.