Personal Essays (Part 2)

I'm back from a little break from blogging! I forced myself to take a much needed break from everything teaching related so I could spend more time with family and check some things off my wedding planning list! I'm happy to say I was productive so now I'm back!

I wanted to share more on my previous Personal Essay post that I started HERE. My students were able to finish publishing these before our winter break started and I'm happy to say that it is still their favorite unit!

So after we organized our thesis statements and reasons onto the blue organizational folders which I explained in the previous post, we took out the evidence we had collected in each folder. We decided which pieces of evidence to keep and which were not needed. We pasted them onto the now open blue folders into an order that made sense. Here is a rough draft…

This is an example of a rough draft that we started editing but of course this isn't the published piece. You can see we turned our boxes and bullets into topic sentences.

We did this for each blue folder and ended up with a long strip which included our intro, three reason paragraphs, and our conclusion.

This made it very easy to revise, edit, and publish our final draft!

Here's an example of a published essay..

Now that we've completed this unit, the students are very familiar with the structure of a five paragraph essay! This will make starting our response to literature unit when we get back SO much easier!

I have a personal essay rubric posted in my store here for $1.00 if you are interested in this unit! I'd love to hear from you if you've done this or something similar!

Personal Essays

We are in the middle of our personal essay unit right now so I thought I'd share what we have been working on. Teaching a unit on personal essays is a fun way to teach students the structure of a five paragraph essay. They write about a topic that they already know about so no extra research is involved. We spent some time collecting ideas for what we could use as our thesis. We spent about a week in the "collecting" phase. This was all done in our writer's notebooks. Once students have their idea/thesis, they come up with three reasons to support it.

A neat way to organize their "evidence" for each of their ideas is by using folders. I give each student  colored folders, one for each of their reasons.

We spend one day collecting evidence on each of these reasons. The evidence is collected on lined paper, cut, and placed into the appropriate folder. Once they have a good amount of evidence, I spend a day on the introduction and another on the conclusion. The students have their folders next to them as they are writing these so it is very easy for them to restate their thesis and reasons in each.

This is where we are so far in our unit! Our next phase will be determining what evidence we should use and pasting it on the outside of the appropriate folder. Our finished product in our planning phase ends up looking like a long strip of folders, but with each of the five paragraphs organized in order. 

So far my students LOVE this unit! Their thesis statements are hilarious! I'm seeing everything from "Dogs make great pets" to "Siblings can be annoying". As long as they can come up with their three supporting reasons, it is an acceptable thesis!

Does anyone else use the personal essay unit to teach essay structure? I'd love to hear about it if you do! I will post more once we complete the unit!

A Giveaway!

I can't believe I've reached over 50 followers! I began blogging not knowing where it would take me and I'm absolutely thrilled I did! I've become a better teacher and I love all of the feedback and comments from all of my wonderful followers!

As a thank you, I'm having a giveaway! The first two followers to comment can choose anything they'd like from my store! Just be sure to tell me what you'd like and send me your email!

If you are still looking for some fun holiday activities, you might be interested in my holiday centers.

My math centers that include 60 task cards are appropriate for grades 4-5.

My holiday writing center pack is appropriate for grades 3-5.

I've also bundled these together though (for a cheaper price) in my store too!

Feel free though to choose ANY item from my store for the giveaway!

Thanks again for helping me reach 50 followers!!!

Have a great weekend!

December Currently

I was just saying yesterday that I can't believe December is here! I guess it's official now that I've done Farley's December Currently…

My goal was to be super productive today. I'm clearly procrastinating by watching TV and blogging. 

December sure snuck up on me! I need to get back into my regular gym routine since these engagement photos are happening soon and I'm so not ready! (By the way, thanks to all my sweet blog followers for all of the wedding wishes you've left me! I appreciate all of your kind words! :) ) Today was day one of my new plan…and I made it to the gym this morning. I'm hoping I can keep this going. I probably shouldn't have set that goal the week before parent conferences.

I'm loving my new holiday scented candle from Bath and Body Works. I went a little crazy there on Black Friday but I ended up finding some deals on gifts there for my wonderful parent volunteers. Does anyone else give their volunteers gifts at the holidays? If so, what have you given? Sometimes I get creative and find cute little mugs to fill with goodies but this year I'm taking the easy route!

Happy December everyone! Time for me to get back to that list!

Holiday Math Task Cards

I'm still in shock that I had to change my classroom calendar to December for Monday! Where does the time go? This year needs to slow down! My to do list is wayyy too long right now! Well in order to get ready for the holidays, I've added and uploaded a new version of my math task cards to my store. Since my kids had so much fun with the Turkey Task Cards, I uploaded a holiday version of these! Just click below to check it out!

There are 60 task cards that cover a variety of concepts such as:

  • Expanded form
  • Rounding
  • Finding the sum
  • Subtraction with regrouping
  • Simplifying expressions
  • Finding the difference
  • Division with remainders
  • Evaluating expressions with variables
  • Finding the product
These were a great activity for review for my 4th graders during my math centers! All of my groups were able to rotate in a week, although I probably could have made it last two weeks! These would also be great for low 5th grade students or a great challenge for your high 3rd graders! 

Answer keys are included as well as a student recording sheet! The table of contents also aligns each section to the Common Core Standards for you.

Please keep in mind that that if you purchased the Turkey Task Cards, these are the same, just a holiday version! I'll be uploading additional math concepts soon!

I'd love to hear about the holiday lessons, centers, or activities you are doing with your class! On our last day before our winter break we will be making gingerbread houses with our kindergarten buddies! I'm still planning my other activities for that day so I'd love to hear what everyone else has planned! 

Have a great weekend!

Cyber Sale…of course!

I'm so excited for the Cyber Sale tomorrow! I have tons of stuff that has been on my wish list all week by so many creative teachers out there on TPT! I can't wait to pick up all of these good finds! I have a lot of upper grade goodies from Ashleigh and Miss Nannini on my wish list that I'm really excited about! Of course I'll be joining in the fun and running a sale in my store too on all of my items!

Thanks to The School Supply Addict for the super cute button. 

In case you want to check some of my items out, here are a few of my top items…

A pack of word study sort ideas, organization tips, activities, and game ideas for Words Their Way ...(Grades 3-5).

A bundle of all of my personal narrative writing unit files, including 2 rubrics...

and my figurative language posters…

I hope everyone enjoys their Cyber Monday & Tuesday!

Liebster Awards

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving! After stuffing my face with two delicious Thanksgiving dinners and then doing some Black Friday shopping, I finally got around to checking my email and realized I was nominated by three lovely bloggers for the Liebster Award! What a nice surprise! Thanks so much to Nicki at Mrs. Thigpen's Kindergarten, Jayme at Trendy in Third, and to Covered in Glitter and Glue!

The Liebster Award is an award given to up and coming bloggers who have less than 200 followers. It is to show they're appreciated and to help spread the word about new blogs. 

I'm not sure what happens when you are nominated several times so I'll just answer the first set of questions I received.

The rules:
- You must post 11 random things about yourself.
- Answer the questions that the nominator set for you.
- Create 11 questions for the people you nominate.
- Choose 11 blogs you love (with less than 200 followers) and link them in your post.
- No tag back (but please leave me a comment on this post with the URL to your Liebster post so I can learn more about you)!

11 Things about Me:
1. I have a younger brother but will soon have 3 new sister in laws!
2. I have lived in California my whole life.
3. I'm in the process of planning my wedding! I'm sure many of you know how difficult this is while teaching! It's so hard to find the time!
4. I LOVE chai lattes.
5. I'm a scrapbooker. 
6. I'm super OCD when it comes to organizing. I'm sure I drive some people nuts.
7. I'm allergic to dogs. 
8. I'm learning to love football thanks to my fiance.
9. I live near the beach and couldn't see myself anywhere else!
10. I watch an interesting mix of shows…Grey's Anatomy, Walking Dead, Modern Family, and American Horror Story.
11. I'm addicted to shopping and Pinteresting.

Questions Asked By Nicki...
1. How long have you been teaching?
I've been teaching for 6 years, all at the same school.
2. What is your favorite holiday?
I love Christmas! Pulling out the decorations is on my to do list for today!
3. Do you have any siblings?
I have one younger brother.
4. If you weren't teaching, what would you do instead?
If I weren't teaching I would probably own a scrapbook store or be some kind of professional organizer.
5. Do you have a favorite sport to watch or play?
I love playing softball! I've played on some coed teams with my fiance and they are so fun! I also love watching baseball. Go Dodgers!
6. What do you do in your spare time?
Spare time? What's that? I enjoy reading and going to the gym, however right now wedding planning seems to be taking up all of my free time.
7. Where is the farthest place you have traveled?
The Caribbean.
8. What is your favorite movie?
Hmm, so many! Right now I'll take anything with Ryan Gosling.
9. How long have you been blogging?
I just started blogging in August and it's amazing how much it has changed my teaching! I also can't believe how friendly the blogging community is and how welcoming everyone is to new bloggers!
10. What made you begin blogging?
I started blogging after being inspired by many of the wonderful bloggers out there! Just reading the blogs had an immediate impact on my teaching so I knew blogging myself could only continue that.
11. Favorite food?
PF Changs. I could there every day and never get sick of it.

Questions for my nominees…
1. How long have you been blogging?
2. What is your favorite type of music?
3. Where would you go on your dream vacation?
4. What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
5. Do you have any siblings?
6. What's your favorite type of dessert?
7. What would you do if you won a million dollars?
8. What is your favorite color?
9. Coffee or tea?
10. What is the last book you read?
11. What is your most embarrassing moment teaching?

Here are the blogs that I'm nominating…
1. Lattes and Laughter 
2. Learning in Bliss
3. Life's a Beach in 1st Grade
4. Little Miss Organized
5. Smiles and Sunshine
6. Stimulating Science Simulations
7. Teach On
8. The Babbling Box
9. The First Grade Derby
10. The Real Teachers of Orange County
11. Teaching Fourth

I'm sure some of you might have already been nominated! If so, don't worry about answering my questions too! Let me know once  you've answered by leaving a comment below! I'd love to hear your answers!

Thanks again to the wonderful bloggers who nominated me!

Turkey Task Cards

It's almost time for Thanksgiving so I thought I'd share an activity I did with my fourth graders this past week! Between the craziness of report card assessments, I threw in some Turkey Task Cards for math! I set up math centers which each covered a different concept that we've learned so far this year, such as expanded form, rounding, addition, subtraction, multiplication, division with remainders, solving equations, and simplifying expressions.

I gave each student a recording sheet with the directions for each center. Here's what page one looks like…

Students continued to rotate to each center for the different task cards. I created 60 task cards so we didn't even get through all of them, but it was great review for my students!

Here's an example of some of the task cards for simplifying expressions…

Our Thanksgiving break has already started but I thought I'd share this file for those of you who still might have a couple days left next week! Click below if you'd like to check it out! I hope all of you have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Teaching Time

I know everyone can probably agree that there just isn't enough time in the year to teach everything we are required to teach. Does anyone have weeks though where other activities just seem to take over your teaching time?

For example, let me share my "extra activities" that have been scheduled for my class this week….

Tuesday-Music with the music teacher for 45 minutes, science with a roving science teacher for 1 hour, and a 30 minute garden lesson with a garden docent.
Wednesday-Hands on Art for an hour and a half with the parent docent.
Thursday-30 minute P.E. lesson with the roving teacher and a 30 minute health lesson with our school counselor.
Friday-1 hour long Hands on Science with the parent docent.

WOW!!! I'm exhausted just reading this schedule! This is definitely not a typical week for my class, but it sure is affecting the amount of time I have left to assess my kiddos before I have to complete their report cards! Does anyone else ever have this much added to their week??? Thanks for reading this little rant. I'd love to hear if anyone else is struggling to squeeze things in their schedule! 2 days left until our break! I hope everyone is having a wonderful, less stressful week!

Owl Pellets

This week we did one of my favorite science experiments, owl pellets! We have been studying food chains and other important concepts such as predators, prey, herbivores, omnivores, and carnivores! The students were so excited to dissect the pellets! Here are some pictures of what they found…

They were able to identify different bone types and even piece many together to form the animal. This year we ordered the pellets from a different company and the quality was so much better for some reason! I'm definitely ordering again next year! This experiment really got many of my students excited about science! They were talking about it all day! 

I had students use the scientific method during this experiment so I made a worksheet to help them with the process. I've uploaded it for free to my TPT store. If you'd like to use it, click below. Enjoy!

November Currently

I can't believe it's already November! Last month flew by! I'm linking up with Oh' Boy 4th Grade …

What a crazy, busy month! I finally feel like the wedding planning is coming along! Venue, date, photographer, and the dress are now all checked off my to do list! What a great feeling! 

I was loving the cool weather we had all week until today! What's going on?! I would love any good book recommendations for when the cool weather comes back! Nothing sounds better than a good book and some tea!!

I could really use some patience! The high class size is really starting to take it's toll on me! Maybe I just need to go get a massage!

I LOVE country music! I can't wait for Stagecoach in April! Toby Keith, Dierks Bentley, Zac Brown Band, Thompson Square, Darius Rucker….Do I need to say more? Counting down the days!

I hope everyone has a wonderful November!

Football Math!

Every Sunday, Monday, and Thursday, football is all I hear in my house, and not necessarily by choice. :) My students are also obsessed and it is all the boys talk about! I've finally come to the point where I've embraced it and it has now become a way to connect with my students and make math fun! I've created games and task cards, common core aligned, and all centered around FOOTBALL! I've uploaded my games and task cards which include…

  • 3 concentration/matching games, one page each (one for each CA team: 49ers, Chargers, and Raiders). For a challenge, students can mix all three for a larger game or you can use these questions as additional task cards for more questions.
  • 12 task cards-I use these during math centers and occasionally as a fun warm up placed under my document camera!
  • A create your own football word problem sheet for students. After solving the task cards and playing the games, my students were so excited to create their own problems!
All of these can be used as task cards or any other game of your choice! My students just love seeing anything football related!

This packet is of course for California teams (since I live here), however, it is very easy for me to edit so if you'd like to request a pack for another state's teams, just send me a message and I'd be happy to upload it for any of my wonderful blog followers! I've posted the pack to both of my stores for $3.50. Click below to check it out!  

Happy Monday Night Football! 

Freebie Friday!

I'm linking up with Teaching Blog Addict for Freebie Friday!

Freebie Fridays

Over the summer I attempted the near impossible task of organizing my files. It took a lot of patience and tons of coffee but I was able to do it! I used to organize many of my files and units in simple file folders which started off fine and ended up looking like this sloppy mess...

It made it impossible to find what I was looking for and just really started to bother the OCD teacher in me! So, I created a separate binder for each of my writing units, added dividers, and now my teaching partners make fun of my ridiculously organized units. But it was so worth it! 


In case the picture is hard to see, I made tabs for mentor texts, work samples, rubrics, student handouts, and writing celebration ideas.

Now for the freebie….

I made binder covers for each of the writing units I organized. Click on the picture below to head to the freebie! I'm sure most of you are already this organized, but if you are just attempting this task like I did over the summer, I hope this can be useful!


So I've been Boo'd by two wonderful bloggers…Marcia from Learning in Bliss and Nicki from Mrs. Thigpen's Kindergarten! I'm finally in the Halloween mood and ready to "Boo" back! I've seen a couple versions of this fun game but here's one…

The rules are: Choose a fellow blogger that has MORE followers, another that has about the SAME number of followers, and last, someone that has LESS followers.

Highlight their blogs with links to encourage others to check them out.  Don't forget to let your fellow bloggers know that you shared about them.

A blogger with more followers is Jessica from Glitzy in First Grade.

She's a dual language teacher with some great resources!

A blogger with about the about the same (ok more)  followers is Mrs. Cockrell from Teach On. Check out her blog!

And finally, check out Kandi's blog at The Fit Teacher Reads!

I don't have any Halloween items in my store to share, however I'll share a little about some of the Halloween activities I do with my class! I LOVE making caramel apples with my class! I have parent volunteers sign up to donate apples, caramel, toppings, basically the works! It is a hit every year and apples are healthy, right? 

Another activity the kids love is making a skeleton (on construction paper) out of pasta! They choose the hard pieces of pasta that resemble each bone of the skeleton. 

Another Halloween "center" is my estimating jar of candy corn. Of course, the winner gets the jar! 

Cookie decorating is also fun! I love getting round sugar cookies, icing, red decorating gel, and Hershey kisses to make eyeballs! 

Tons of fun! I can't wait! I'd love to hear some of your favorite activities!