Wednesday, December 16, 2015

{Secret Santa Blog Hop} with The Elementary Entourage


Well hey there, y'all! Thanks for stopping by today. I absolutely love blog hops...especially with my Elementary Entourage crew! This time we are sharing what we received from our Secret Santas within the group. I was lucky enough to get a box from our very own Stephany Dillon from Primary Possibilities. All I can say is that we all know each other very well at Elementary Entourage. Let's take a look at my box of goodies from my friend, Stephany.





First of all....wow! Can you believe all of this incredibly thoughtful stuff?! I felt so so spoiled when I opened this box. My kiddos were even jumping up and down when I opened the box. {If you look closely you can even see my daughter's cute little polka dotted socks in the picture.} As I started making my way through all of these awesome goodies, I realized that Stephany really did her homework. Every one of her items had some serious thought involved.

I am off season from competition training right now, so those sweets...yes please! Everyone knows I am a lover of coffee, too. That size mug is perfect for the zombie like state I am in when I wake up...less trips to the coffee pot! My EE team was there for me every step of the way during my first competition. The cup and the journal Stephany found really touched my heart. It took a lot for me to venture out in the fitness world, and one of my favorite things to say is Dream, Believe, Achieve! PERFECTION! Thank you so much Stephany...tears!!!

And now for you I have a cute little freebie. This fits perfectly into Christmas activities this week, especially if you are having a class Grinch Day like we are! I hope you enjoy this product!

{Click on the image above to be taken to my store and download your freebie}
Make sure you check out all of our blogs today and snag some goodies for yourself. Don't forget to show each of us love on Pinterest, TPT, Instagram, and our blogs. Thank you for being a devoted follower.



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Friday, October 16, 2015

{Tricks & Treats} BLOG HOP with The Elementary Entourage!




Welcome to the Elementary Entourage's Tricks & Treats Blog Hop. I hope you are enjoying yourself this Friday!! Thank you so much for stopping by to check out some of my Tricks and Treats here at The Sunny Side of Second Grade.

For those of you who are new, welcome! For those of you who have been faithful followers, thank you so much for sticking with me. I hope everyone is enjoying the cooler weather as we enter into fall, a favorite season for most of us! I know I am enjoying the cooler weather because it means scarves, boots, and a real excuse for me to drink coffee ALL DAY LONG...

Most of you already know that I teach second grade at a year round school. We started our year in July and just finished our first week back with students after our Fall Intersession. I have found that I am already having to reach into my bag of tricks to maintain my sanity! Don't worry traditional calendar teachers, if you aren't there now .... you will be soon.

One of my all time favorite tricks of the trade to maintain sanity during the beginning of the sugar rush season is Go Noodle.


So many new and experienced teachers have chosen to become a Go Noodle classroom, and if you haven't yet, please check them out. This website provides brain breaks for students. It is a well-known fact that students need periods of rest in between stretches of learning. This website allows them to actively rest through dance, song, and relaxation.

Each week, I set up my SMART Notebook file for my classroom. After I segment the week into daily sections for the content I intend to teach {please note the word intend there...you know}, I place pages along the way where I believe students will need a brain break. You should hear the excitement when the SMART notebook page flips and Go Noodle shows. It is an instant reward!


I have found that if I schedule them throughout the day, then we do them more. Go Noodle makes me happy and we all know Happy teacher = happy students!
Now what are some tricks of the trade without a treat to go with it. I have designed a product just for this blog hop, and my first ever Halloween themed product. If you need some math review in your classroom, then this just might be the product for you. I think this would work nicely as independent work, morning work, in centers, you name it! Click on the image below to snag your freebie from my store, and please don't forget to leave some love! :) A follow here, there, and everywhere is always a plus! Happy Haunting!





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Saturday, October 10, 2015

{Data Tracking}




Hey y'all! Head on over to The Elementary Entourage to see my post on how to track student data and set goals. You will see some of my favorite tracking pieces as a freebie in my store. I am sure you will love this series with our group over there!





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Tuesday, September 1, 2015

{Back to School Bash! 9/1/15}



Welcome back, y'all! Can you believe it is September already? For most of you, school has been in session for at least one week. For me, I am going on week 7...that's right! In order to help you ease back into the swing of things, my friends at the Elementary Entourage and I have put together a Back to School Bash for you. What does that mean? That means you can visit us today for some amazing lessons, tips, ideas, and freebies...yes I said freebies!!


The number one tip I have for you is to get organized as quickly as possible. I picked up a planning set from A Modern Teacher this year instead of purchasing another EC Planner. While I loved my EC planner dearly, I needed more flexibility with my planning. With the new planner, I can pick and choose the sections I need for my binder in addition to creating multiple binders.




While this planner comes with editable templates for the inside, I have always designed my own. I love me a two page spread with plenty of room for notes throughout the week. :)





Build relationships with your students quickly. All too often we are the only ones in our students' life that shows them the compassion they so deserve. While setting your classroom expectations high at the beginning of the year, do not forget to leave room for lovin'. Yes, I am a very nurturing teacher. Yes, I tell my students I love them. Yes, I hug and tickle them when they need it. The feeling is mutual and I would not have it any other way.




Listen. Listen to your students. Listen to your team. Being a good listener means you take the time to hear what others have to say and consider their thoughts and feelings. The benefits of listening before acting are endless. Listen to your students ... they will reveal their inner most needs and wants.




Tip #4 includes a freebie! Please please please foster good reading habits from Day one. If you haven't done so already, start planning to meet with your little ones to read as much as possible. Create bags of books, and make your classroom library accessible to your students. The only way to create a literate generation is to allow them to read whenever possible. These bookmarks can be used in guided reading or during independent reading. The space is large enough to display two-three lines of text to encourage students to look ahead during their reading. Click on the image below to snag your freebie. :)




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Monday, August 10, 2015

A Free Blogger Tee? Yes, Please!


Hey y'all!

I know I wasn't able to go to the TPT conference in Vegas this year, but I participated in all that I could...including designing my very own blogger tee.

Thanks to A+ Images, I was able to design my own blogger tee for free. This was incredible generous for the company to do for teacher bloggers and authors alike. I wear my new shirt to school and even out and about in town. Thank you so much, A+ Images. I'll be a loyal customer for years to come.

{Click on my image above to be taken to A+ Images and order your own custom tee}


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Friday, July 17, 2015

Reading Workshop: Unit 8 {Readers CanRead About Science & Become Experts}




Welcome back for our last installment in our summer reading series: Reading Workshop? No Problem! I hope you have enjoyed this book study as much as I have!! We have seen a barrage of strategies presented on my friends' pages. I highly recommend you purchase the book from our study, or read it for yourself using the LiveBinder site I posted at the beginning of this book study {link the the first post at the bottom of this post}. We really have only skimmed the surface on each of the topics presented in this study. Remember, the ideas presented in this study are designed to work with your current curriculum plan or designed to help you plan out a curriculum plan from scratch. You can navigate through the book study on your own as a quick reference or a go to for strategies throughout your teaching year. The possibilities are endless! Enough chat...on to our last unit. I know you will love it as much as me!


One of my biggest struggles as an educator is teaching students how to read informational text. Since reading and writing go hand in hand, it only makes sense that I also struggle with teaching students how to write expository/informational pieces. It can be difficult to see the importance of writing about the nonfiction texts we are reading, or writing using similar structures found in informational texts. One thing I learned in order to bridge the gap between writing and reading nonfiction, specifically science related, is to make the work collaborative.



We have all heard the saying: Teamwork is the Dreamwork. The same applies and is even more true when it comes to teaching our young ones to become science experts. It has been my experience that students at this level have an innate desire to help others. Calkins stresses the importance of collaboration throughout this unit. She suggest using book clubs in order to reinforce the concepts learned in this unit.

Calkins recommends beginning the unit with Forces of Motion to allow for a range of learners to become involved. Collecting small text sets of books on each topic and categorizing them by both level of difficulty and subtopics will help keep your unit organized and help keep students interested. Remember, reading informational texts is different and has varied text organization across the genre; therefore, students will need help pulling apart important information and applying their knowledge with hands-on activities. This is where you want students to explore and show what they know through experimentation, questioning, and research.



Children naturally want to explore and try new things...test the waters if you will. As children explore science topics in your unit, encourage them to collect materials through their research. Calkins reminds us that our whole group read alouds in this unit need to teach the big concepts and specific vocabulary in order to set the stage for individual inquiry. You must lay that foundation in order for your students to branch out on their own! Lessons in this unit should be as interactive as possible in order to hold interest. Use video clips, YouTube, and BrainPop to support your lessons and incorporate those technology standards!! When using videos, don't forget to pause just like you would in a text to reflect, talk, draw diagrams, retell, etc.

In Part One of the unit, Calkins reminds us of the importance of building base knowledge. Do this by reviewing nonfiction reading strategies, text structure, and how to research a topic. Model how to chunk text and use subheadings in order to determine the main idea and what the author is trying to teach the reader. Calkins mentions more than once the importance of our students sounding like experts. This is done through teaching appropriate vocabulary! Break out those word books, construct a word wall, design some word chains...whatever works! No more word substitutions...students need to use content and academic vocabulary in their everyday conversations. They need to look and sound like science experts.

Part Two of the unit focuses on how to compare and contrast texts on the same science topic. Calkins suggests placing books side by side and allowing your little experts to discuss the similarities and differences between the covers, illustrations, and overall text structure. How are the main topics the same and different? How did the author organize this text? How does is help you better understand how a pulley works (for example)?

In Part Three, Calkins examines the importance of students to learn by asking questions. This is where you teach the scientific method and how to increase wonder through questioning. Use post-its to jot down wonder statements and reflect on reading. Providing students with sentence starters for creating a  hypothesis will help them grow as science experts in their reading. In addition, reading historical fiction will demonstrate how famous scientists questioned and created hypotheses.



When you read this book, you get an abundance of reading and teaching strategies to help your teaching and your little learners. At the end of each unit, Lucy provides us with teaching points, including some dialogue we could have with our students. I recommend printing these out and keeping them handy. They really are a great synopsis of the main points in each unit.

I really hope you enjoyed our summer book study! Please remember to leave some love on our blogs and refer back to these posts as you need some help or reminders.


Use the links below to catch-up on our book study:


Click here to be taken back to the first post in our series.
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Monday, June 22, 2015

Reading Workshop: Overview & Unit One {Taking Charge of Reading}


{Click on the image above to be taken to the first post in the book study}
Hey y'all! Welcome to the first installment of Mrs. Felts & Friends' Reading Workshop? No Problem! Summer Book Study! Like many teachers out there, I struggle the most with making my reading block run effectively and efficiently. I want my little sweeties to get the most out of their time just like I want to get the most out of mine. As a year round school teacher, I am pressed for time, especially in the summer. All these great ideas and changes for the better for next year are always put into hyper speed as I plan for students on July 20th. Therefore, I thought the best thing I could do is to read up on a text that goes right along with my district's writing curriculum. I am sure you have heard of it: Lucy Calkins' Units of Study. The book we will be talking about over the next few weeks is entitled A Curricular Plan for The Reading Workshop: Grade 2. You can follow along by downloading a copy from this LiveBinder. A few things first:


  1. This book study will be fast! We will have two posts per week and cover this book at lightning speed that way everyone can take advantage of all the tips and tricks for the new year. This is especially useful for those teachers heading back early August, or even in July like me.
  2. You can always click on the header image above on any of the participating blogger teachers' pages to be taken back to this first post in the series.
  3. A button linking to the next post will be placed at the bottom of each post and will be captioned with a date on when that post will come available.
  4. All comments are welcomed and encouraged!
  5. We may offer products or links to ideas along the way, so definitely read the whole post each time!
Here is our schedule for this book study so you do not miss a thing:
  1. 6/22 - Overview & Unit One
  2. 6/26 - Unit 2
  3. 6/29 - Unit 3
  4. 7/3 - Unit 4
  5. 7/6 - Unit 5
  6. 7/10 - Unit 6
  7. 7/13 - Unit 7
  8. 7/17 - Unit 8 & Conclusion
If you are planning a vacation, no worries! We will be right here when you get back. Now for the stuff you've been waiting for:




What an easy and enjoyable read! The overview began with an outline of how to roll out the units in your classroom. This was especially helpful for me, even though I had to modify it to meet the needs of a year round schedule. As you can see below, this makes tackling the units and integrating the ideas into your pacing guide so much easier! And did I mention this book is aligned to the CCSS? Oh yeah! [insert fist pump!]


The overview gives some much needed background information about why we do Reading Workshop. To say we do it for the students is simply brushing the surface. Calkins reminds us the importance of collecting data on our students as soon as possible and how it is not uncommon for one teacher to juggle first, second, and third grade curriculum simultaneously in their reading instruction. The goal explicitly expressed in the overview is to come away with a curricular calendar of your own at the end of the book. We will make sure you see some of our calendars at the end of this book study.

The overview further goes on to explain the importance of the minilesson as part of the reading workshop. "Students should be taught all about ways of working with partners, how to organize a reading life, tackling tricky words, monitoring for sense, using fix-up strategies when sense falls apart, jotting in response to reading, and so forth." The minilesson is designed to set the stage for the day, focusing on a given skill - not a set of work assignments that changes daily. We all know that stamina is difficult to achieve, but by the time we get our second graders, they should be able to read independently for at least 30 minutes. If not, Calkins stresses the importance of building and tracking that stamina daily. SET GOALS!

The overview closes out with an explanation of balanced literacy and what that should look like in a given classroom. "One cannot stress enough the importance of reading aloud," Calkins explains. This sounds like a no-brainer, but would you believe that some individuals think it is not as crucial? The read aloud is a time for students to hear correct fluency, phrasing, and intonation {and so much more}. The read aloud paired with shared reading, word study, small group instruction, and assessment make for balanced literacy instruction.

Unit One is all about independence and getting books in those hands as fast as possible. It is easy to get caught up in the classroom management side of things at the beginning of the year. One of the most important things I took away from this unit was to look at students' previous data and have book bags or bins ready for them on DAY ONE! This is something totally doable. Ideally, you want students to read during the summer with some paper books sent home on their independent reading level from first grade. With PLCs in place across many states, bags of books should be easily accomplished when planning with other grade levels.

Students need to be reminded to make smart choices with their reading when they enter your classroom that first week. Teach them how to use sticky notes to mark important parts, funny parts, questions they may have during reading. Comprehension that Sticks is a great pack to help with this. Understanding how long it should take a student to read a book can give you a good idea on your class' stamina at the beginning of the year, and help gauge what type of just-right books they should have in their hands.

One of the biggest Ah-Ha moments I had while reading this unit was when Calkins said "remind children not to point at each word as they read." I will be the first to admit I tell students to read out loud and point to each word. DOH! It is my mission to rectify this for next year, and I may use some of these to help students track....or make my own. ;)



Unit One goes on to explain the importance of reading as thinkers by asking questions before, during, and after. This is something students can forget easily, and we need to help them remember its importance as soon as possible. As students grow that first week with you, allow them to read with partners and discuss text openly in whole group, small group, and partnered settings. Allow them time to write down their questions and observations when reading and listening to reading. Develop or remind them of the excitement found in a book and how rewarding reading really is.

I hope you enjoyed reading this section of the book. I cannot wait to begin the next section. Read up and check out Lupe at Kindergarten Common Core on Friday for Unit 2 in our series.
http://kmath-lupe.blogspot.com/2015/06/unit-2-tackling-trouble-assessment.html
{Click on Lupe's button to be taken to Unit 2 in the book study}




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