Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Teaching Persuasive Writing with a Mentor Text

I absolutely love teaching persuasive writing, and I love using mentor texts even more. This year, I used the picture book, I Wanna New Room. This read aloud follows the same format of I Wanna Iguana with letters back and forth from the child to the parents.

My main focus for this lesson was on choosing a main point and providing valid resources to support that point. I also wanted to focus on how details are needed to support each reason given. After the read and enjoyed the book once, we created this anchor chart, using the examples from the text.

After discussing the book, we were able to come up with three reasons with each reason having two details to support it. This was a great starting point for the students to come up with 3 reasons with supporting details for their own persuasive texts. I refer to this anchor chart often to remind the students that a good persuasive text has a clear main point, three reasons, and supporting details to support the reasons.

What are your favorite mentor texts to teach persuasive writing?

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Common Core Gradebook {Free!}

Grading, grading, and more grading! Honestly, that may be the thing I like the least about teaching. Which is odd because that is what I did the most when I played school as a child. I am not missing the irony there! 

Last year, I created a CCSS aligned grade book in an attempt to simplify the process of recording and accessing grades. After using it all year, I decided to offer it as a free download for anyone else who wants to try it.

Basically each section is the same. The names run vertical and the standards across the top. I would jot down a quick note under the standard of the assignment, and record the date. Then I would record the score. Here is an example using a 1-4 scale.

And here is an example from my grade book last year. We use a 1-3 scale at my school. The R was for a gifted student who received Math instruction from another teacher whose last name started with an R. :D

As you can see on this full page image, it is perfect for an at a glance look at a standard or even how a student is doing across a few related standards.

This grade book includes all subjects (Math, Reading, Language, and Writing). Each section is separated by a title page that indicates the domain or subject area.

Grab your free copy of this grade book by clicking here or the image below!

Monday, September 8, 2014

Organizing Papers to Grade

This year, I picked up the most useful organizational folder from Amazon. com. I really needed a better way to keep the papers organized that I was bringing home to grade. I had used an accordion folder before, but I really wanted something less bulky. So I bought this Oxford Poly 8-Pocket Folder for $7.65 from Amazon.

I paperclip the the papers together and place them in the folders. Sometimes I place one class set of assignments in one pocket. I also place multiple assignments in there, and it holds them just as easily. Take a look!


I am a month into school and still loving using this folder. I would love to hear how you organize papers that need to be graded. Let's hear your ideas in the comments!

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Show the LOVE {Help Your Students Soar with Word Problems}

Word problems were always a struggle for my students. It was like pulling teeth to get them to write more than just the answer. Almost three years ago, I created this acronym to help my students show all of the work on their word problems. The students love it, and I never have any problems getting the students to show their work and their thinking. And if I do have any problems, I just say "Show the Love!" or "Where is the Love?"

I always begin teaching this strategy by creating a class anchor chart with a word problem. Here is the anchor chart I used last year.

Then I give the students a smaller poster that details out the strategy for their interactive notebooks. The students glue the problem and then record the example problem in their notebooks, with all the LOVE shown. Here are some pictures from this year's lesson.

From this lesson on, the students are required to Show the Love on every word problem they complete, from homework to classwork to assessments. We use my Interactive Math Notebooks: Word Problems Resource weekly and this gives the students much needed practice with showing the love. Here are some images from this year:

Click here to see my Interactive Math Notebook: Word Problems for 4th Grade and 5th Grade!
Click here or on the image above to try out some Interactive Math Notebook: Word Problems for free!

Click the image above or click here to download your copy of the poster.

How do you get your students to show all of their work on their Math Word Problems?

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

School Store and a Freebie! {Math is Real LIfe}

It's the first Wednesday of September which means it's time for our monthly linky - Math IS Real Life!!  If you want to see how the linky works, or just want other real world math ideas, check out our Pinterest Board of all the posts so that you can look back and find some great ideas and REAL pictures to use in your classroom!  
If you are linking up, please include the below picture AND a link back to all four of our blogs - feel free to use the 2nd image and the links listed below!

A monthly REAL WORLD math blog link-up hosted by


If you are following my Instagram, then you got to see this awesome cart that was painted by the school art teacher. We are using this cart to house our school store items. This is the first year having a school store, and I volunteered to run it. I love all things school supplies so I knew this would be right up my alley! 

Here is an inside shot of the items we have available.

As I am sure you can imagine, choosing items to sell, deciding on sale prices, and calculating profits involved some Math. I try to make a 30% to 50% profit on items. I chose items that were easy profit items but also popular with the students.

Here are just a few of the items we sell. I store them in craft boxes to keep them organized.

I created a little freebie that mirrors the math I used when choosing items for the school store. Use this freebie (Click on the image to download) with a school supply catalog or even an Oriental Trading Catalog. I think your students will love planning out their own school store! I know I can't wait to use this myself once we get to Decimal Operations!

Do you have a school store at your school? What items sell the most?


Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Controlling Excessive Talking in the Classroom

Whew, I can't believe I haven't blogged since school started back. I have several blog posts and ideas that I can't wait to share with you in the coming months. For today, I wanted to share a simple strategy that I have been using successfully for four years to control excessive talking.

I call this easy to implement strategy, "Thumbs Up!" Here is how it works:

  • The students are allowed to talk about the work or directions, BUT one of the students talking must have his or her thumb up. It is that simple!!!
Here is why I think this works:
  • Students know they have some freedom to talk about the work, however they have to do a little work to be able to do it (putting their thumbs up). This curbs off task talking. They do not want to waste their energy with their thumb up to talk about something off topic.
  • It is super easy to remind the students of this procedure. When I hear talking with no thumbs up, I simply say, "I hear talking, but I don't see any thumbs up." This is a quick and easy reminder that is not nagging or annoying to the students.

I use this strategy during the morning, during independent work, and during dismissal. I DO NOT use this during turn and talk times or group work because talking is expected. I also do not implement this during times when talking is not acceptable (taking a test, lining up, etc).

Trust me, it works like a charm! If you want to try it out, you can download some posters to hang in your room, by clicking on the images below!

If you try it, I would love to know how it works for you! Also, let me know your simple strategies for curbing those talkers by commenting below. I would love to hear your ideas!

Friday, August 8, 2014

5th Grade Back to School Blog Hop {Freebies}

Happy August! I’m so excited to join in with other amazing 5th grade teachers to offer this Back to School Blog Hop!

I wanted to post a few pictures from my classroom and share a few freebies with you! This first image is of my behavior board that I use in conjunction with Class Dojo. It is very simple, but also visual. I like the simplicity of it, but it is still age appropriate.

All of the kid's names are on the blurred cards. I put magnets on the back of their name cards. I can move the cards up to Warning, Five Minutes of Recess, 10 Minutes of Recess, All Recess, and Call Home.

You can grab a FREE editable powerpoint to create your own behavior board by clicking here.

I also have another decor freebie appropriate for Upper Elementary. These are circle words that add a little inspiration to any wall space. Click here to download them.

You can see more great Back to School tips by clicking here to hop to the next blogger, Kristen at Teaching Trio!

To Teach is to Inspire...