Wednesday, December 12, 2012

More Christmas literature

Hi all, just thought I would recap a quick Christmas themed lesson that I conducted with my 3rd grade English learner this afternoon.  She is at the early production level.  I used the book, Noni, the Christms Reindeer.  She isn't strong enough to help pull Santa's sleigh, but she sure is good at filling it. 

Santa uses many synonyms in this book to describe the toys Noni brings back. 


Some of these vary in intensity, according to how excited one is becoming.  We started the lesson sharing ideas about these words and talking about their similarities.  I asked my student to think of things she liked, and then to think of things that she really, really liked!  We used these words and demonstrated the facial expressions that may accompany them.   Then, we began to read the book together, as shared reading.  In addition to talking about how Noni must feel at different points in the story, we made predictions and kept looking out for the above synonyms. 

I also wanted to share one other Christmas book I discovered.  This one is told from a mouse family's perspective, observing all of the goings-on in the human family with which they live.  I think this book is great for English learners, because it introduces them to many common holiday words and concepts.  You might have to help them over words like "Mistletoe".  If you have some real  mistletoe to bring in, you could show them how it is hung. 

Enjoy, and hope this helps.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The Cat that Climbed the Christmas Tree

Hi all, I am sharing my very first freebies with you all.  This is the first one of these that I've ever created in Word, and my first time trying to convert to Google Docs without losing anything.  So, please bear with me, and definitely let me know if something's not working, or needs to be changed.  Any tips about this stuff are much appreciated. 

The Cat That Climbed The Christmas Tree is one of my favorite holiday books.  It's a whimsical, dreamy account of a cat bringing everything on the tree to life!  I usually use it with more proficient readers because the sentences can be just a little long, and it has some advanced vocabulary.  It would make a great read-aloud at any level though. 

There are a lot of homophones associated with Christmas...  rain, rein, reign, deer, dear...  It's an excellent time to highlight these if students are ready.  That's why I've created a holiday homophones sheet.  I usually do a guided, small-group lesson with homophones and use this for independent practice afterward. 

Here is a vocabulary practice sheet for the book.

And here is the Holiday Homophones sheet.
Enjoy, and Happy Holidays!!

P. S.  I have no idea why the conversion keeps removing or misalligning my clip art.  I've about had it for tonight, will try again tomorrow.  If anyone has any ideas, please enlighten me. ;)

Sunday, December 2, 2012

December currently

Well folks, it's that time again, time for Farley's wonderful linky party.  Through it, I've found so many wonderful blogs.  If you're not already familiar with it, I would totally suggest checking it out.  So here's my Currently: 

So I have my Christmas tree, I wanted to get one before they got too picked over, but it's sitting out in the back yard in a bucket of water.  I just am not ready to put it up yet.  It is taking me longer this year to get into that special holiday mood.  I'm just so tired of all the commercialism and all that jazz.  I promise, I'll try to post more this month.  My schedule is just so crazy lately... 
Happy teaching!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

My first blog award!

Well, I didn’t go shopping on Black Friday or Cyber Monday.  Our family is just so over trying to guess what the other wants.  We just bake, and spend time together.  However, I found a HUGE Cyber Monday treat in my inbox this evening!  Bailey Sturdy has nominated me for a liebster blog award!!!  I am so honored and most appreciative.  Now, I just have to live up to it by posting more regularly, and by coming up with more original ideas to share. 

Here are the rules for the Liebster award:
1. You must post 11 random things about yourself.
2. Answer the questions that the nominator set for you.
3. Create 11 questions for the people you nominate.
4. Choose 11 other blogs with fewer than 200 followers to nominate and link them in your post.
5. You cannot “tag back” the other blog, but leave a comment on this post with the URL of your Liebster post so I can learn more about you & see who you nominate.

But, I think I will reverse the order just a bit.  First, here are the answers to Bailey’s questions for me. 

1. What is your favorite dessert?  Gosh, this is a tough one!  I’ll enjoy just about ANY dessert, but my favorite probably has to be a toss-up between French silk pie and moose tracks ice cream. 
2. Beach or mountains?  Beach!  I like to swim, and walk on the beach. 
3. If you could travel anywhere you want, where would you go?  Back to Spain, where I spent a month studying Spanish as a high school sophomore with my classmates.
4. What was the last dream you had?  I dreamed I was staying overnight at my school for some bizarre reason, and then felt afraid that I’d set off the security system if I went in or out of the building in the dead of night! 
5. What is your favorite grade to teach?  K – 1.  The sooner we catch the ones that lag & get ‘em up to speed, the better.
6. If you could go back to any time in your life, what would it be?  Actually, I don’t think I would.  I’m pretty contented these days. ;)
7. What color are your eyes?  blue
8. Do you have any pets?  Not now, but I used to have a few chickens.  They lay the best eggs.  And, I used to have a gray cockatiel too.
9. Are you a night owl or early bird?  I’m a semi early bird.  I like getting up between 7:30 and 8 when I have a choice.  I’m quite a party pooper though, I tucker out between 10:30 and 11:00. 
10. Does your classroom have a theme? If so, what is it?  No, unfortunately. It seems all I can do to keep it together sometimes. ;)
11. What is your favorite movie?  Oh gosh, can I pick 2?  The Little Mermaid and Mary Poppins.  I LOVE musicals! 

Now, here’s 11 random things about me: 
1.  I’m a native Florida girl, born & raised in St. Petersburg.
2.  I used to have hair down to my waist, but I had it cut to my shoulders last year. 
3.  I teach a few random different things:  I tutor elementary schoolers, I teach typing to adults, and I teach music to toddlers through pre-K. 
4.  I started graduate school specializing in ESOL last September, and I look forward to   posting about it.
5.  I play the pipe organ as well as the piano.
6.  I also like to bake cakes and cookies.  I especially like decorating sugar cookies. 
7.  I can be moderately crafty at times when I’m feeling creative.
8.  I’ve been working on a simple rhyming children’s book called Duck in a Truck, and drawing the pictures.  I love to draw, but I’m really terrible at it. ;)
9.  I love listening to a wide variety of music including classical, jazz, blues, country, rock & roll and even some contemporary stuff on the charts today.
10.  I like scented candles and nice, hot baths. 
11.  I have a slight vision impairment that can’t be corrected with glasses, which prevents me from driving.  I’m always relying on others for rides. ;(  And I go through life using magnifiers for anything and everything, which is okay.

And now, DRUM ROLL PLEASE…..  Here are my nominees: 

1.   It’s Elementary music
4.  5th Grade Chalk Talk
5. Shoot for the moon
6.  Miss Math dork
7.  K & C Love Grade 3
8.  Surviving the First Year
10.  Another Step to Take

Here are my questions for them: 
1.  How long ago did you start blogging? 
2.  What is the most important thing you’ve learned from blogging? 
3.  What is your favorite holiday? 
4.  Do you relax on vacations, or do you like to fit in many activities? 
5.  What’s your favorite recipe?
6.  What’s your favorite dessert?
7.  What advice do you have for new teachers?
8.  What’s your absolute favorite classroom resource? 
9.  If you could meet anyone, who would it be?
10.  What is your favorite artist or genre of music? 
11.  Do you like flavored coffee? 

Congratulations to all of the nominees.  Hope you all enjoy the award as much as I do.

Happy blogging, everyone, and happy teaching!

Saturday, November 3, 2012

November Currently

Geez Louise!!  Where has the time gone!  I can't believe it's November already.  Whew!  I survived Halloween!  I always hate it when Halloween or Valentines' Day fall in the middle of the week.  They create absolute mayham.  But, they do provide fun opportunities to plan creative activities.  I wasn't as creative this year as I would have liked, but I did manage to tie in the Halloween candy bar fractions lesson I cited earlier, along with some spooky stories and persuasive writing for my elementary schoolers.  My early childhood music class had fun with many different Halloween-themed songs and chants.  I'm thrilled beyond thrilled that the election is almost over, and soon, all of the nasty advertizing and annoying phone calls will stop!!  I'm looking forward to reading other posts, finding new blogs and to joining this little monthly linky party. 

Happy teaching!

Friday, November 2, 2012

Some ESOL Strategies I'm using

This week, my 3rd grade ELL and I studied a book called Did You Hear Something, perfect for Halloween. 

We created a plot wallet for this book, an idea I stole from Mandy's Tips for Teachers.  This mini-lesson activity was helpful in demonstrating the importance of re-reading in order to decide which ideas were really the most important to include in a summary. 
The week before, we were working on academic vocabulary related to the solar system and space.  Some concepts just lend themselves well to being acted out in order to support understanding.  In order to demonstrate an orbit, I placed a chair in the middle of the room.  We walked around and around the chair, holding onto it with one hand.  It is easy to drop something to demonstrate gravity, but slightly harder to demonstrate that this same force maintains the orbits of the planets and their satellites.  Finally, after some more discussion, and re-reading of a text that the student had read in class, we played a charades game.  Each of us took turns acting out a word, which the other tried t identify or explain. Movement and interaction are a great means to support the acquisition of academic language.  This would have been even more effective if I were working with a small group instead of just one student. 

Happy Teaching!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Cyber Monday: Open Access Week

Hello again,  I wanted to share an extra special resource this time around.  I am a member of the Early Childhood Music and Movement Association, which provides professional development and  advocates for quality programs.  Usually, the professional journal is for members only.  However, a handful of quality blogs open to everyone can provide a peak into the work of the organization.

This week, the ECMMA is providing free access to the professional journal  to EVERYONE during open access week!!  You can visit the site at to check it out.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

I Won A Prize... YAY!!

Hi folks, I'm so excited to share with you that I won my first blog give-away prize, given by Julie at Primary Pointe.  You can find the original post here.  It is the CD called Shake, Rattle & Read by one of my favorite children's music artists, Jack Hartmann.  I also won a large alphabet chart to go with it! 

Many musical styles are represented on this playful album, from rock 'n' roll to blues and even disco!  In the coming weeks, I'm planning to use this album with my preschool music class of 4s and 5s.  I would highly recommend the Shake, Rattle & Read album to any preschool, kindergarten or even first grade teacher.  It is chock full of emergent or pre-reading activities set to music.  My favorite is "special soup", where the class is invited to concoct an imaginary soup where all of the ingredients have the same beginning sound, and then to revel in the yucky combination. ;) 

Learning really rocks at Jack Hartmann's website, and I know you'll want to check it out at  His label, Hop To It music produces a variety of other educational resources including math, character education and holiday themed albums.  You can even purchase MP3 downloads of his songs. 

Here's a video of his song, "Popcorn Words." 


I want to send a special thank you out to Jack Hartmann for offering this CD / Poster give-away prize, and another special thanks to Julie for hosting the give-away, and selecting me as the oh-so-lucky winner! 

Happy teaching!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

My math group is in the groove

At long last, I have settled into a routine with regard to my elementary school interventions, and finally have a few minutes where I’m not feeling overwhelmed.  Since this is only my second year in this capacity, I still have so much to learn.  In particular, I’ve been planning for next week’s small group of fifth graders needing extra help in math.  The stated goal is to get them up to speed with measurement, converting units and data graphing.  However, I’m finding that they are also in need of extra instruction regarding fractions and number sense.  Last year, we’d spend our whole hour covering one topic together, strictly following the curriculum book and adding nothing creative.  I wanted to do something different this year. 
Two weeks ago, I thought, naively that I could cover three short mini lessons in the hour that I am with them twice a week.  But I failed to realize how much time the guided practice and scaffolding would take.  I now feel quite comfortable dividing our hour together by only two ways. 
The first half hour will focus on some concept of number sense.  This could include multiplication, divisibility rules, fractions,etc.  The second half will focus on some other data concept such as measuring, graphing, estimating or geometry.  This year, I’ve ben feeling much more confident about supplementing the provided curriculum book with extended, hands-on activities.  In two weeks, I’m going to be using Julie’s Hershey’s Hershey's Fraction Bar Activity.  One of my students is still a little foggy about rounding, so I used this freebie from The Math Coach’s Corner.  Most important, however, is that I want to facilitate meaningful discussions with students instead of just feeding them algorithms.  I must say that I’m not always so successful with this.  I only hope I can improve with practice.  If anyone has thoughts or suggestions, would love to hear them.  
Happy teaching.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Cyber Monday

Today's Cyber Monday link is to Choice Literacy, an archive of articles, videos, book lists and other resources for reading teachers at all levels.  A paid membership (which I don't presently have), allows full access to the archive.  However, the free newsletter, The Big Fresh includes many articles and links of interest to us all. 

I'd just like to send out a very special thank you to my 10 new followers of my brand new little blog!  I'm so pleased that you've decided to stick with me.  Hope that you all have a great week ahead.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

October Currently

Okay, so here's my humble Currently for this month.  I'm still learning to use GIMP.

I've just learned that for my interventions, I'm going to have mostly 5th graders, a few fourth graders, and one third grader.  I'm still completing assessments and formulating the schedule.

Happy teaching!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Why music?

Here's a quick follow-up to Monday's post about the song anchor charts.  Since nearly a third of my professional time is given to music at the earliest levels, I wanted to just share a little blurb that I wrote for my parents a while back, expressing the need for such instruction.  Really, I think that each of our specialties are inter-related, and the more we collaborate, the more easily our students can connect what they receive from each of us. 

Music is an important part of early childhood interactions and play.  It is one of the art forms which serve to make us human.  This means that we reflect on the world around us, and express our feelings about it through the arts.  If children receive early experiences with music, it will likely provide them with a lifelong means with which to create, explore and enjoy the world in which they live.  The aim is not to one day make our students professional musicians, but rather, we hope that our students will become thoughtful, expressive, creative people. 

In addition to being an aim unto itself, music education for young children can serve to enhance and strengthen other learning goals as well.  In the preschool years through informal exposure and play, concepts of opposites are reinforced such as fast and slow, loud and soft, and high and low.  Since children should be permitted to move to music, motor skills and body awareness are reinforced.  Many children’s books involve a musical element, creating a thread between music and literacy development.  Songs, chants and nursery rhymes aid in language development as well.  Words set to usic also heightens the level of context for English language learners.  These are just a few of the many reasons why music is an indespensible part of early childhood education, as well as education at every level. 

Happy teaching!

Monday, October 1, 2012

My FIRST Monday Made-It!

Hello all, since I do interventions and tutoring for elementary schoolers, I haven't received my new students yet, but at least, I have an idea what they may need.  So, preparing for them has been a little nutty lately ;)  I'll be posting soon about my plans and goals for them, and hopefully, reflecting on how they went. 

Meanwhile, I'm linking up with 4th Grade Frolics for my first EVER Monthly Monday Made-It!! 

 wanted to share some song lyrics anchor charts that I've made for my toddler music class.  I generally don't use these for active movement activities.  However, for calmer, quieter songs and fingerplays, I like to give the parents something to look at, so that they feel more confident participating, as well as provide a print-rich environment for the kiddos. 

Sorry for the bad pictures.  I generally don't consider myself that crafty, but I must say, I've been inspired by some of the neat things I've been seeing in the Monday Made-It posts.  I usually draw and paste these together on 11 X 17 copy paper, and then mount them on cardboard cut to size.  I don't really have a good way to display them, other than leaning them up against something, or just holding them up.  If I make these sort of things for my elementary reading / math students, how can I better display charts?  Is there some kind of small, portable easel?  Also, how do you manage to print chart or bulletin board ideas that one downloads as a PDF file on 11 X 17 or larger?  Oh, I know, so many newby questions...

Oh, BTW, here's a paper-crafted greeting card I made for a friend. 

I'm looking forward to looking at all of the crafty ideas posted this month.  Head on over to 4th Grade Frolics   and link up!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Cyber Mondays: Puzzle Maker

Hello all, since there are so many wonderful resources on the web, I thought I'd start this series, and maybe someday make it a linky party, if I ever learn how. ;)  First, let me just say that the graphic above was my very first semi-successful GIMP project.  I'm still brand new to the whole computer graphics thing.  My first sessions trying to use this program left me absolutely livid with frustration because I just couldn't seem to make it do what I wanted.  When reading the online users' guide, I could only understand half of the language in it ;)  But now, slowly but surely, I'm beginning to get hip to its little quirks and idiosynchrocies.  What I love is that it's free, and it's built on a community of users and developers who built it for the benefit of everyone involved.  So, if there are any GIMPers out there, I'd love some tips or advice. 

So, now on to what's really important.  I wanted to begin this series with something I used last year with my students.  It's an interactive web tool that makes crossword puzzles.  In a classroom with a computer lab, you could have students create and trade puzzles, especially if you have different groups working on different sets of vocabulary words.  Since I don't have internet access when I'm working with students, I bring a puzzle already printed for them.  Another from the Thinkfinity community is this biography cube maker.  Any time they can cut and paste and put something together, I'd like to think the learning will stick more firmly.  Enjoy!

Friday, September 21, 2012

My First Post... YAY!

Well, hello to the cute, creative and wonderful teaching blogosphere!!!!  After reading many blogs for the past year or so, and thinking about starting one all summer, I finally felt that this would be the right time.  I like to muse over fresh starts.  I find them not only at the start of a new year, but on my birthdays, and at the beginning of a new school year.  I dream of the possibilities, make resolutions and try to imagine doing things just a little differently, instead of slipping back into the same old worn-out routines. 

My name is Jessica, and I have my hands full with several varied things at the moment.  I work one on one with elementary school students who struggle with reading and mathematics.  It’s only my second year of service, and so I often wrack my brain to find just the right solutions for a particular need that my students may have.  (This is where you all have been so helpful).  I’m also passionate about music education.  I teach early childhood music classes at a local dance studio, so I may talk about that from time to time.  I also teach touch-typing and keyboarding skills to blind and visually impaired adults as a prerequisite to further assistive technology computer training.  I’m also in my first semester of grad school, trying to take only one or two online classes at a time so things don’t get too nutty ;)  I want to specialize in urban education and ESOL.  I just feel unsure much of the time what to do with my professional “coat of many colors” if you will.  It just seems like the things I’m involved with don’t really go together.  But, hopefully, I’ll figure it out one of these days soon. ;)  I have many wonderful friends that inspire me too, with whom I love sharing quality time. 

I remember being in first grade, having this whole unit at the beginning of the year all about insects and especially butterflies.  I’m still amazed at how dramatically they transform in the process of metamorphosis.  In a way, I feel this is what we help our students to achieve, at any level.  We set up the right conditions and they become confident, capable and self-assured.  For education to really be effective, it has to change something inside of us; the way we think, or the way we perceive the world around us, hence my title.  What’s up with the chicks, you might ask?  Well, as I grew up, we always had three or four pet chickens in our medium-sized suburban yard.  We thought they made great pets, and the eggs were great too.  I got to see the baby chicks creep out of their cardboard box onto the grass, discovering the world outside for the first time.  As our students master one small concept at a time, they too discover the world, in a way.  They come to own their knowledge, and survey the vastness of what is possible. 

I just want to give a quick shout-out to the Honey Bunch Blog Design!  Thank you ladies for coming up with such a cute design for me!  So, I look forward to sharing ideas with all of you, and hope I don’t ramble on too long, as I am prone to do. 

Thursday, September 20, 2012


Just testing to make sure everything is working properly.