Now find the theme and central idea, find the theme, theme, and central idea (find it)!

Oh, sorry. I was just singing our song for theme...

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Teaching theme? Need some fun, engaging ways to incorporate music into your lessons? I've got you covered!

I always start this unit with reviewing what theme is and how you find it. Then, we delve into how there are a variety of details that you could identify to help you determine the theme. Here is a sample of a few:

In the pack that I've created, I've given you a recording page that can be used with any text. The students will read the text or story and identify these details. From these details, they will then determine the theme. After they try this a few times, then I let them try it with songs. I have never seen students so engaged!! 

First, model the whole process with a song you choose. I have found that this helps set the expectations and clarify any misconceptions. Then, use your data from pre-assessments to determine groups. When I completed this activity, I chose six songs and divided the students into six groups based off of their needs. Then, they worked on this together and turned in for a grade. (a rubric is included) 

Gingerbread Man Thematic Unit

When I taught primary grades (1st, 2nd, and 3rd), I could hardly wait for the holidays because of this gingerbread man unit. Not only did I love these books and activities, but my students could hardly wait to see what was next.

Why I love this unit is simple: it teaches reading skills through an engaging, exciting way.

What do you need to do to set up this unit?

Head to your local library and check out all the books. Who knew that there were so many versions of the Gingerbread Man stories? My personal favorite is, "Stop that Pickle!"

After you grab all the books, just print and go! I have made this new unit to fit the needs of primary classrooms. In the example below, you can see that I have accommodated the activities by having documents that have dotted lines for writing or similar pages that have smaller spaces and regular lines. This allows the teacher to choose which page fits the needs of their learners.

A variety of reading skills are covered in this thematic unit: story elements, cause and effect, problem and solution, comparing and contrasting, and much more! These stories are so exciting, that I know the students will love these review pages!

The fun will continue with a family project: disguise a gingerbread man!

In class, the students will create trading cards or spin to make sentences:

Need some color by sight words or odd and even numbers? I've got you covered there, too! These coloring pages will be a great way for students to practice a skill in a fun way.

Get your students moving with this unit! I've included ten cards for them to find and write the room. The students can also practice counting from 1-20 by writing the room and counting these fun images related to the stories.

Still curious about this thematic unit? Check out this freebie! It includes 6 pages that review adjectives. (Click here)

Thank you all for your continued support! I am wishing you a very happy holiday season!


Teaching Writing

Happy Fall! Happy New School Year!

I am three weeks into yet another school year, and yet another new role. This year, I've moved to teaching both fourth and fifth grade reading, writing, and language arts. I have been thrilled to focus on these core subjects, but along with that, comes a lot of organization and new planning!

If you follow me on Instagram, I've been posting a lot about what I'm doing with writing. It all started this summer when I read this book:

The book is organized in such a clear, simplistic way. It walks the reader through 46 moves that help young writers elaborate. In the back, it is organized in a way to help you see which moves fit with the write traits and even different genres. When I read this part, I knew I needed to start choosing different lessons to fit with my grade levels. I quickly made a plan... (stay tuned for that part)

In addition to a plan, I quickly developed a way to organize our notebooks. I decided to create tabs and heading for the writing notebook. This has been my best decision ever! It has set clear expectations for the students, while keeping them very organized. (click here to get them for free)

After creating these tabs, I developed a plan on how I would launch writing. I created a 22 day plan for teaching the write traits to both my fourth and fifth graders, by choosing lessons that fit with each. I knew I wanted to incorporate pictures books into these lessons, too, so started looking for books that fit. (the students LOVE having picture books incorporated)

My writing lessons follow this format:

1. Introduce the enduring standard at the top of the page. (Active writers...)
2. Show an example of how the move is used in writing. (these are given in the book)
3. Describe when and how the students would use the move, and discuss how it fits with the trait.
4. Complete a mini practice together as a group and share. (usually includes a picture book)
5. The students practice the skill on their own.
6. End with a Kagan structure to share out.

I keep things very consistent in my classroom, so this format works well for us. Check out some of the work we have done thus far in the notebook!

Showing the students under the document camera how to set up their page. 

Such a cute book for modeling how to catch vocabulary! 

This book was by far my favorite for how to develop ideas and care for them!

A student independently reading, while also catching new vocabulary to use in their own writing! 

For each lesson, I create slides to teach the skill. 

An example of a student taking quality notes. We spend a lot of time talking about what this should look like. 

Love this book! "If You Want to Bring an Alligator to School, Don't!" to teach the idea lessons, "Stating the Obvious" and "But, Why?" (Both lessons are in the book)

More quality notes! 

Ending with a Kagan Structure to share out our writing. 


Songs in the Classroom

Are you ready to rock in your classroom, but scared, nervous, or hesitant to try this? Trust me, I get it. When I saw the teachers at RCA implementing this in their room, I thought, "this is amazing, but how can I do this?" I thought about what would work in my classroom and then decided to jump in head first. If you are feeling this way about incorporating songs into your room, check out these tips to help you get started!

Before starting this in my classroom, I tuned in on songs that were popular in today's culture. What are the kids listening to? What would be catchy and engaging for them? Choose a song that they will enjoy and WANT to participate in. When I wrote the analyzing text structure song, I even gave them a choice! One day during class, I told them that I had two songs that my lyrics could fit with and then we took a vote. (of course they voted on the one that I wasn't leaning towards, but it turned out GREAT!) This gives them a sense of involvement in their own learning! Not only will they be excited to learn a skill in a new way, but with it being a song they enjoy, it will stick with them. I had so many students tell me that this helped them learn and they referred back to it often! #success

This is the biggest part of making this work in your room. We had to discuss clear expectations for when it was time to learn and sing. I would give you these tips for setting expectations:

1. This is a time to LEARN in a FUN way.

2. The students must sing YOUR lyrics, not the original song. The purpose of this is to learn a skill, so they need to focus on that.

3. Are you going to let them get up and dance, stand on chairs, move around the room? This is a personal preference depending on your class. During some of my songs, the students would start a conga line. Fun? For sure! However, it started to take away from the purpose. We had to make a rule that there was only "breaking it down" during the chorus. Students were NOT expected to sing, but they did need to participate in some way. I had one student who would just clap! That's OK! Figure out what works best for your class.

4. What will it look like when the song is over? We practiced this a few times! As soon as the music ended, my students IMMEDIATELY sat at their seats and got ready for the next lesson. There was no wiggle room for misbehavior or goofiness. Set this expectation and practice, practice, practice. When we are done, we are done. If that doesn't happen, we don't do it.

5. Model what you WANT it to look like vs. what is SHOULDN'T look like. Be clear and consistent.

1. I had a student who tapped the SmartBoard when it was time move slides, so I could monitor the room. (oh and dance... duh!)

2. I had another student stand by the door in case anyone needed to come in. We always had the door closed to not interrupt other rooms with our loud music.

3. Let them help you with the lyrics! I had a few girls that LOVED knowing our standard and then writing it! In fact, one of the songs, they wrote almost the whole thing! They love it!

4. The students love to video themselves. Sometimes, I would give my phone to a responsible student to video our performance/learning!

This. Is. A. Long. Process.

Honestly, give yourself time to get the ball rolling. If you have the scope and sequence of your year, I would give yourself a month to 3 weeks to write the song. This is such a valuable way to learn that you don't want to rush through it. Take your time to make it the best it can be.

You'll be singing it your sleep, in the car, in the shower, etc. However, it's WORTH it!

I love kicking off my units with the song, so make sure you have it ready and engage your learners!

I hope that these tips have helped you! If you have any questions, feel free to email me. Click on the image below to grab the songs!


Teacher Appreciation Week

Happy Teacher Appreciation Week!

Some wonderful teacher bloggers have teamed up to share some fun giveaways with you this week! We appreciate all of you so, so much, that we wanted to share some of our favorite things with you.

Before I get to the goodies, remember this...

As you go through the rest of the school year (exhausted, overwhelmed, and dreaming of summer) remind yourself of your purpose. You chose this incredible profession because you are a special individual that has a desire to extend grace to others. Be mindful of this choice and fulfilled as you conclude your year. Because you made the decision to serve our children, I appreciate YOU! Thank you so much for all you do!

Without further ado... you have got to check out our awesome giveaways! I have partnered up with Emily, from Third in Hollywood! We are giving away flair pens, astro bright paper, and a Plum Paper teacher planner!

Who doesn't love a flair pen and bright paper?! These two items could brighten up your classroom, your focus walls, your planners, your students' papers, etc. I use my Plum Paper teacher planner for everything! It's simplistic style and easy organization, helps me plan for my lessons, and keep a monthly calendar of what is going on. Not to mention it's durability is outstanding! Another aspect of these planners that I love is that they are affordable! I was even able to add a few sections to mine for blogging and personal things, and it was still within my budget.

Enter to win these items here:

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Also ... you could have the chance to win $100 to Teachers Pay Teachers!! Follow the steps below to enter!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Thank you again for entering! We appreciate you and hope you have a great week!


Singing in the Classroom

I love to sing. I love to dance. 

Since visiting the Ron Clark Academy, I knew the one thing I had to implement immediately was creating songs that tie to my curriculum. 

It's HARD to write these songs. 

It takes me weeks.

I have started asking the students to help me with lyrics, and they love this! Since I began implementing this to my classroom, I have seen a change in the climate of the room. The students want to sing the songs every. single. day. Check out my top three reasons why singing in the classroom has helped my instruction! 

Engagement is my top reason why I incorporate singing into my classroom. I teach reading, writing, and social studies to 5th graders. Let's be honest: this could get really boring. When I saw how songs were implemented at the Ron Clark Academy, I knew I could do it in my room, too. I told my students we would be singing songs to go with our curriculum and they got so excited. I make an effort to choose songs that are popular to them and that they will like. I have noticed that ALL students, even the quietest ones in the room, sing, dance, clap, etc. This makes my heart soar!! If you tap in to all types of learning, you are bound to see success.

Raise your hand if you can sing every word to a particular song, even from years ago? We ALL can! Singing is a great way to retain information because it's catchy! I have found myself singing the lyrics I HAVE CREATED when these songs come on the radio. The PE teacher at my school told me just last night, that when she did the "Whip and Nae Nae" with the kids, they sang my version about theme and central idea! Songs help kiddos retain valuable information!

Singing in the classroom is a great way to promote classroom participation. I know that not everyone is a good singer, but we all have something we can do during the song. For example, I have a little boy who claps the WHOLE way through our current song. He doesn't sing, but he gets up and claps the beat. I don't even care that he isn't singing the lyrics because maybe this doesn't fit his learning style. However, the idea of him standing and clapping the beat means he is participating and listening. I also have a student who never really speaks. But guess what? When we sing our songs, guess who is up and singing? You've got it... this student. I literally almost cried when I saw him singing.

I promise that this will change your teaching and students will be thrilled to sing popular songs in the classroom. I'm in the process of putting together my lyrics to have in my store as a free product. I want to share the love of singing in the classroom! Let me know if you have any questions!


Five for Friday

Happy weekend, everyone! Time for a little Five for Friday love! I'm bringing to you a variety of recaps... from school, to faith, to personal life. Enjoy and hope everyone is doing well!

If you don't follow Proverbs 31 on Facebook, you need to. This was posted a few weeks ago, and spoke volumes to me. We are all trying to make changes, do a gazillion things at once, etc. This is profound because we need to remember to start small. Take small steps to get where you are going. You can't and won't do it all at once.

Get on up and DANCE!! I'm telling you... dancing on your table is liberating and fun! How could you make this happen in your classroom? Not only do I dance on the table, but I stand on them to give the students directions, teach, and get their attention. They love it! They also seem to listen more when I'm standing on the table or chair. Like it said above, start small. Maybe you're not ready to get up on the table, so try a chair!

Standing on a chair does wonders... for this lesson, I was able to see what all groups were doing from this point of view. It really was helpful and the kiddos love it. Have you tried Kahoot yet? If you haven't, you need to do it right away!! It is free and super easy to use.

In 5th grade, we have been spending a lot of time working on our annotations. Earlier this week, we started reading Arachne. First, we did our annotations. We went through the first page together to ensure that the students could see what this should look like. I modeled my thinking while reading, to show them how I stopped after every few sentences to annotate. From there, they worked with partners to annotate the rest. Next, we will move into "Texting the Plot" and determining the different components of plot from this story.

California, you may have my heart. 

I hadn't been there in years, and was reminded why I loved it so much.  My girlfriends and I took a trip to visit a friend, and while there, we ran a half marathon. It was such a wonderful weekend full of food, laughing, hiking, relaxing, and more dancing! We took over 400 pictures of the beautiful scenery and can't stop talking about our time there. I can't wait to get back there...

As you enter this weekend, take some time for you and enjoy the scenery.