Navigating Nonfiction and Budding Blogger Showcase!

I've had Nonfiction on my mind a lot lately.  I teach sixth grade to some serious smarties, and with the changes in the Common Core Standards this year I've had to revamp a little of my Language Arts program.  I was reading a lot of novels before, and using Writer's Worksop.  As much as I <Puffy Heart LOVE> the novels I read like Hatchet, and Chasing Vermeer, I've found I need to spend more time on nonfiction text features and structures.

Nagivating Nonfiction was born from that.  I didn't want to do just one single unit on nonfiction.  So much of what is read today comes from this category, I felt I could find a way to infuse it into more of my ELA daily/weekily routines and units.

I introduced Nonfiction by teaching my students about Text Features and we practiced this using Time for Kids Magazine which my class subscribes to.  As the year went on, I began focusing on the structure of the text.  This was MUCH MUCH harder for them to do.  They got stuck on sequences and cause and effect.. even as sixth graders. I had to back up a few times and use easier text.
Finally with almost half the school year gone we are hitting our stride.  We are getting better at recognizing cause and effect and compare/contrast in text, and I have added narrative expository stories as examples.  We are consistant with the task rotation cards I've created for structures and features, and I'm adding more challenging text every week.
Now, I'll begin pulling my Writer's Workshop back in with expository text.  We've done a ton of summary writing and now I'll be getting into biographies.

Meanwhile, my next reading goal is to find meaningful nonfiction text that supports themes, ideas and issues from my novel units of study.  My expectation is that by the end of the school year, our last novel, (Chasing Vermeer) will incorporate not only critical reading skills for fiction, but also articles on art, biography and history.  Do you have a resource you can share with me?  I would LOVE to hear it!

If you are interested in having the nonfiction task cards, posters, writer's notebook bookmarks, etc at your finger tips for easy use, visit my TpT store {here.}
and Last, but NOT least.. Thank you to Amanda at Teaching Maddeness-- I am her BUDDING BLOGGER profile today!  Amanda is FAB-U-LOUS!  She has really helped me out a lot and is quickly becoming one of my good blogging buddies!
Please check out her blog if you have a chance!


Interactive Notebooks: Integers and Coordinate Grid

My smarties have been plowing through a short unit on Integers and the Coordinate Grid.  I have approached this unit as a little review because they have already been introduced to Integers, Ordered Pairs and the Coordinate Grid in 5th grade with the overlap/transition of the Common Core.
I made a few foldables to help them out with vocabulary because I am really trying to stress using "Math Speak" in math class.
I wanted them to concentrate on using the vocabulary in discussion in class, and have something to take with them to WRITE about.  My homework has been a little different because I am asking them to write more using a focus question.

For example, while teaching the lesson on the coordinate grid, we created a foldable that looked like this:

I tried to teach a little memory strategy with this as well for my visual learners.  Notice I had them color the x- axis box red, and the y - axis box yellow.  I then had them color the ordered pair ORANGE to associate that the x and y axis are used to create the ordered pair.
I also gave them a foldable that looks like the one below where we practiced plotting points and naming quadrants.

When we got to homework practice, I did the usual, plotting and recognizing points, but I also asked them to write about this:
How is number line related to a coordinate grid?  How are integers used within the coordinate plane?
I think it is really vital that my kids get that "Math Speak" down.

How do you help your students learn and use the vocabulary?

If you want to make your life a little easier when it comes to teaching the vocabulary for integers and the coordinate grid, you can go {HERE} and pick up my 3 foldies!
Enjoy your week!


Staying Organized with a Blog Planner

Today I was  sitting at my computer, wrapping my hands around a very LARGE 'cuppa coffee and trying to keep warm, since I seem to be living in the frozen tundra and my fingers feel like they may fall off.....and I was thinking about the organization of being a blogger.
I consider myself a fairly organized person.  Some weeks I'm better at it than others, but overall, no one is going to enter me into an episode of HOARDERS any time soon.

One thing that I have been working on lately is trying to figure out how to keep my blogging organized.  I think of ideas and jot them on post its.. or scraps... or in my phone.. and then I never get them in one place.  As I was blog stalking  ...reading some of my favorite blogs, I came across a post by Kim at Joy in 6th about a Blog Planner.
Isn't this so CuTe!

She found it at Confessions of a Home Schooler.  You can click on the picture or the link to take you to the site.  Erica is an amazing blogger, and looks so fun and SUPER Organized.
I downloaded it and had it printed and bound at Staples.  I <puffy heart> LOVE it.  It really keeps me organized.  It has a calendar for listing your blogging topics, opposite a page where you can list the giveaways you have created or agreed to be a part of,  post idea space and a monthly stats section.  The inner Math GEeK in me is going WILD over keeping my Stats in one place.

So stop by these two lovely ladies blogs and check them out.. and leave them a little love if you like what you read,
Leave me some love too if it suites you... I'd like to hear how you keep yourself organized in the blogging world!


Can I gEt a WoOt wOoT for MLKjr, TeCHnoLogy and HoOps!

Happy Martin Luther King, Jr. Day! 
 I hope that you are all enjoying a relaxing day off today.  And if you are working, I hope that you had a great day with your smarties at school. I'll be finishing up my MLK story this week at school and then begin an expository writing unit on people who exhibit the same character traits.  My smarties are reflecting using quotes in their writing journals...they are the last part of the Salt in My Shoes focus.  

I have the day off here in the frozen tundra..  errr I mean the Northern United States.
I had to take a moment and blog about something I figured out this morning.  I am NOT a tech savy person. It takes me forever to figure out a new program, and I'm sure that when I am making things for my classroom there is probably a much faster way to complete them.
This morning I was on Pinterest and taking a look at what Lori from Teaching with Love and Laughter

had pinned.  She had found  post about how to add a Pinterest button to hover over your pictures on your blog.  Ok... Ok... I KNOW everyone but me has already probably done this, but like I said.. not so tech savy.  I had time this morning so I tried it.  The pin sent me to BlogSentral which has a  FABULOUS tutorial about how to add this hovering pin.  You can go {HERE} to check it out yourself.  I DID IT!  I DID IT!! IN ONE TRY!!! I did IT!!!!
so please... can I get a WoOt WOoT!

In other WoOt WoOt worthy news.. my Syracuse Orange beat Louisville over the weekend... THAT is Awesome basketball fans! and the GATORS beat Mizz.. fabulous weekend of college hoops!
Have a wonderful day!!

Happy Friday... errr I mean SATurDaY!

This week just totally got away from me!  I wanted to finish and get this post out last night, but it just wasn't going to happen.
I'm linking up with Amanda at Teaching Maddenss for her Friday Flashback and also with Doodle Bugs for Five for Friday... If only my act was together enough to PUBLISH the post when needed!

#1.. This week was LOOOOONGG... I even had a staff development workshop on Wednesday and it still felt long.  A rep from Harcourt was supposed to come and give us some training on small group reading.  I teach in a middle school and some of my colleagues have never done small group work with students.  It is a struggle because we only have the students for 82 minutes where we need to get a block of reading and writing in.  Long story short we had a little bad weather south of where I live, and SHE CANCELLED!  I can't blame her. I wouldn 't have wanted to drive.  The PROBLEM was, she didn't call until about 45 minutes before we all were supposed to be at the workshop, so they couldn't contact us and cancel.  17 of us showed up with no presenter!  Even though they gave us the morning to talk and work with our TREASURES series, we had to go back to our classrooms in the afternoon.  As much as I love being with my smarties.. my MIND was set for staff developement not being in my room.

#2..My smarites were winter benchmarked last week, and on Friday we went to a team meeting and were given the results.  HUGE disappointment for me.  My smarties improved in many areas.. but not in MATH, and that was upsetting.  They take a test on Concepts and Applications and actually, they did well in that category, but went DOWN in Computation... COMPUTATION!!! I can't belive it.  Now I will have to start back into giving them computation progress monitoring every 2 weeks.  BUMMER!

#3.. In ELA I am splitting my class period between reading novels and reading a short story.  I have a reading teacher that pushes into my classroom, so on those days we focus on novels and literature circles.  Currently, we are reading novels that are set in the Middle Ages because my smarties just finished that unit with the social studies teacher.  This week we focused on SETTING, and specifically how the author uses MOOD and TONE to help create the setting.
Have you seen these two videos?  THEY ARE PERFECT for this!!  The first is the original trailer.. happy go lucky.. Mary Poppins.  The second is called SCARY MARY.  It uses clips from the movie but projects a completely different MOOD and TONE about the story.  It really hit home with my smarties.

#4.. My Little Man scored 3 goals in his soccer game this week!  HAT TRICK!  Woot Woot!
#5..My smarties worked really hard on their goal writing which I based off of a book we read called Salt in His Shoes.. 
I blogged about it {HERE} if you are interested.  I love this book.  Next week we push into our expository writing piece.  First biography style, and then more informative.  Lots of planning to do this weekend!
Thanks for hanging in there with me!  Don't forget to join Amanda or Doodle Bugs Teaching and let everyone know how your week went.  


Build it With a Buddy- Standard Math Practice

Happy Wednesday!
As I had posted at the end of last week, my Smarties were busy getting January Benchmark testing in Math and ELA.  I needed to continue with our curriculum if I even want to have a prayer of getting all of the standards in before our state test in April, so I sandwiched in a little group play between our computation and concepts testing.
We played Build it with a Buddy.

This is a REALLY simple game which basically practices adding, subtracting, multiplying and dividing numbers.  The smarties played in groups of 3 or 4.  You make four sets of cards numbered 0-9.  The group takes turns pulling a card and placing it wherever they feel is best on their worksheet.  The object of the game is to create the greatest sum, difference, product or quotient.  I added a twist to my sheets because we are working through a decimals unit, so my smartie's sheets had decimal points in various places in the game.
It was  great way for them to socialize.. as sixth grade smarties need to do.. they get wiggly after all that test taking, practice basic computation and standard (traditional) multiplication and division.  Our benchmarks seem to indicate students need to be fluent in the standard algorithms which to our department means traditional multiplication and division.  NO MORE lattice and partial product.  We have had to break a lot of those habits this year.  I am curious to know if your department has interpreted standard algorithms the same way?  Leave me a comment and let me know!

If your interested in Build it with a Buddy.. which is great to throw into a sub tub.. flu season is upon us!.. or use it as a center and differentiate as needed, you can pick up a copy by clicking the Build it with a Buddy picture above.


Squared Away on a Sunday: Winter Thaw.. Link Up!

I've been thinking a lot about goals, probably because my class is talking about them at school.  We read a story this past week about Michael Jordan working on his goals, and this coming week we are going to read a story about Martin Luther King, Jr. being a Drum Major for Justice.   I wrote in my Currently a few weeks ago about wanting to make a healthy start, but once school got back into the swing of things I haven't done much about it.

So... long story short, I want to start blogging on Sundays about what else is going on beyond my classroom.  I'm going to call it SQUARED away on a Sunday.. Of course I had to get a little math pun in there somewhere... <hee hee>  I'm going to use it as a place to talk about what else is going on in my life, the world, and my accountability toward my goals for the year.

So this week was incredibly exciting in my household, my beautiful daughter, "24" made the modified basketball team.  She is a busy, busy little one this year. She made first chair in Junior High All County too.  My family LOVES basketball, so it will be exciting to see her games.

My son, "Little Man," scored 3 goals in his soccer game yesterday... HAT TRICK.  He is a pretty happy little man as well.

Mater, our Bernese Mountain dog, has been CRAZY with the winter thaw we've had.  I can't keep him inside which means I'm cleaning a LOT of muddy paws!

I'm off to spend the rest of the afternoon working on some lesson plans for the week.  We are beginning a new unit on integers, so I'm working on my vocabulary foldie for my Math Notebook.  My goal is to get the unit done this week, AND to run or exercise 3 times!

What have you "Squared Away" for the week?  I can't promise I'll post about it every week, but let's blog together about what else is important, and support each other in achieving goals! Thank you to AMANDA at Teaching Maddeness, she's really been helping me out with a few things lately.  Check out her blog by clicking the link above.  She sometimes writes about her Sunday's in the South.

 Just copy the button at the top of this post and let me know what you have set up or Squared Away for the week!!

Salt in His Shoes- A Reading and Writing Activity and a FrEeBiE!

This has been a SUPER busy week for me!
My Smarties have been going through some Progress Monitoring this week, so I wanted to do some ELA activities that were fun and easy for my struggling readers. I have a lot of boys this year who are REALLY into sports, so I'm always looking for picture books to teach minilessons that have that element.
I found this book:  Salt in His Shoes by Deloris Jordan.  It is a story about Michael Jordan when he was a young boy, and how he learned that practice, determination, and perseverance help him to reach his goals.

This book is written on a third grade level, and even though I teach sixth grade, it was perfect for my lower readers to do in a guided reading group, and I could leave the materials as an independent group activity for on-level readers.
We have been practicing citing text based evidence with both fiction and nonficiton material, so my students are getting much better about giving SOLID evidence.

Next, we took the evidence in the book and discussed key words we could use as character traits.  We came up with PRACTICE, DETERMINATION, and PERSEVERANCE.  I immediately applied this to my classroom and made a quick anchor chart for it.

My students applied those words to their own goals, and wrote text to self connections.   Finally, they wrote reflective pieces using quotes about motivation and dreams to put on our work wall.

Next week, I'll be reading a story about Martin Luther King, Jr. called Drum Major for Justice, which is MUCH more of a sixth or even seventh grade piece, but I think this Jordan piece is a perfect stepping stone for my lower level readers to make the connections to King using the class words we came up with.  I can't wait to see that scaffolding happen!

Anyhow.. if you are interested in a lesson using this book as a companion to Martin Luther King, Jr., 
or Black History Month, (or heck basketball is big for MARCH MADNESS) you can find the lesson plans and activity sheets here.
If you download the PREVIEW you can get this graphic organizer for use with the book FREE.

Be sure to stop back and let me know how your class enjoyed the book!


Vistaprint Groupon!

Morning everyone!
I noticed this morning that Vistaprint has a Groupon out for $70 worth of product for $17.  I wanted to pass it along in case anyone needed any goodies for their classrooms.  I need a tshirt to wear for an upcoming project, and who can pass up such a great deal.  I found this one through the ORLANDO Groupon.  Pass it forward if you are interested!

I'm working on a neat little lesson plan for Reading and Writing with my smarties.  It focuses on goals, and following your dreams.  I'm going to tie it into a short piece on Martin Luther King, Jr.  I'll share a little more later.. right now I'm off to school.

Have a great day!


Blog Hopping with Primary Possibilities! Meet Mercedes from Surfing to Success

I'm linking up with some "loverly" ladies at Primary Possibilities for a super fun blog hop.  So Mercedes is here at Coffee Cups as my Guest blogger:

Hi!  My name is Mercedes Hutchens.  I have a blog called Surfing to Success. 

I’m excited Michele gave me this opportunity to be a guest blogger on Coffee Cups and Lesson Plans.

I am currently teaching 5th grade.  I work with a wonderful team of teachers and have the opportunity to departmentalize so I get to teach math three times a day.  (I also have my homeroom and teach ELD.)  This is a new experience for me. I’ve been teaching 15 years but most of those were in 1st and 2nd grade.  I am loving teaching mostly math.  It is so wonderful to have the ability to really focus on one subject.

That said, can you guess what I want to talk to you about today?  Yep, Math.  But, if you stick around there is a freebie at the end that can actually be used in almost every grade.

I’m in California.  I’m feeling a bit like I’m playing catch up with the rest of the country when it comes to the Common Core.  We in California are still being tested on the California State Standards this year.  My district isn’t completely sure what we’ll be tested on next year but we will definitely be tested on the Common Core the following year.  I feel like that puts me in this weird transitional period.  In the years to come, my students will be learning Common Core standards.  I feel I need to prepare them not only for this years test, but also for the years to come.  Ever feel like you’re being pulled in so many directions you might as well stand still?  Well, I can’t let myself do that so this is where the Common Core Mathematical Practices come in.

The Common Core Standards for Mathematical Practices are a part of the Common Core Standards for K-12.  It’s nice to have something in common with other grade levels.  I love to collaborate with the math teachers in the grades above and below me and plan on ways to give the students some consistency from grade to grade and now we have these eight math practices in common.

Attending to precision or persevering in solving problems will be drastically different in Kindergarten then it is in high school, but it is wonderful to know that over their school career the students will have a common language from year to year that will help them become amazing mathematicians.

I’ll be honest.  I’m just getting started.  I’m not exactly sure how I’m going to make the leap from the California Standards to the Common Core standards but I do know that I’m going to start by using these practices to bridge the gap.

For now, I’ve created a foldable.  I plan to have them glue it into our math journals.  As we learn and use a practice, we will open up to our foldable and take notes and probably put an example. 

Have you introduced the Common Core Standards Mathematical Practices to your students?  Do you have tips for me?

I’d love for you to hop over to my blog and consider following me.  Maybe you can be part on this journey into the Common Core. I like to give away freebies.  Some are math and some are backgrounds and clipart.  Stop by and say hi.

Thanks for listening.  If you’ve lasted this long you can download a PDF with everything pictured today including the foldable.  Just go to this link:

Isn't Mercedes great!  So many of these bloggers on this Blog Hop have fabulous ideas!


Foldie for LCM and GCF

Over the past few days I've had several emails and comments about my post on my foldie for Least Common Multiple and Greatest Common Factor.  I finished up this unit in late November, and was planning to tweak the foldie a little bit, then of course I got a little busy with the holidays...
Finally I've had a little bit more time to get the lesson explanation altogether and set.
If you are interested, I have posted it on TpT.  The pack includes an interactive lesson on finding prime numbers to 100, and lessons using the prime ladder method for prime factorization, LCM and GCF.  My smarties really loved this foldie.  It was really helpful to add to that vocabulary to the Interactive Notebook.  Click below and check it out. Let me know what you think!


New Year.. New Blog Design! and CuRreNtLy!

I hope 2013 brings everyone every joy they have ever imagined.
I am SOOOO excited for 2013 to begin.  It is amazing that those LOVELY LADIES at The Honey Bunch Design finished my new blog design and installed it on New Years Day!
I <super puffy heart> LOVE it!
I Love the color orange, I love pie.. I mean pi.. I love basketball.. everything about it!
Thank you ladies!!

To Celebrate I'm linking up with Farley with her January Currently..

ok.. I'll admit, I'm not a Georgia fan.. not after the trouncing they gave my Gators this year, BUT I'll take an SEC win any day!  I can't wait for the SUGAR BOWL tomorrow.. hoping to see my hubs on the tv!

Can I say AGAIN and AGAIN and AGAIN how much I LOVE this blog design.  Misty and Erika are so awesome to work with.  They are patient, and kind and do such an awesome job.  They even just finished Deanna Jump's new blog.. fabulous people to work with!  Check them out at The Honey Bunch.

I have to go back to school bright eyed and busytailed tomorrow... ut oh... I'm not sure what I'm doing in ELA yet.  I could go with the standard introuction to the new reading skill, but I'm thinking I need to do a little goal setting.. if I ever stop procrastinating!

SNow.. can you say SNOW!  Yes.. I live in the crazy snow area.. I'm tired of it already and it will be hanging around for at least 3 more months..blech.. it can go away now.

Needing to get back into my running routine. I used to be sooo good about least 3-4 times per week... that has been long gone from my schedule for awhile... I need a littl motivation.  I keep saying I run purely on DUNKIN..

 and as much as I LOVE Coffee, I have to run off all that energy! Anyone willing to keep me accountable?  email me!  I'd love to gain some running buddies along with blogging buddies!

Lastly.. One Little Word:  OPTIMISTIC.. that's not exactly a little word, but for me it's how I feel right now, and that along with STAMINA are my new fav's




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