5 for Friday: Mentor Text

My first Five for Friday of the new school year and I'm a day late!
I've been so busy this week settling into the routine of school that I neglected to take pictures of what we have been working on to share with you. So I thought I would give you a glimpse at the mentor texts that has been guiding our reading and writing lessons. We start the year learning about story elements in reading and in writing, the students are generating ideas and starting personal narratives. These are some books I can not live without at the start of the school year.

Saturdays and Tea Cakes by Lester Laminack is a sweet story about a boy who visits his grandmother every Saturday. They work in the yard together, eat lunch, and bake teacakes. For writing, this book is the perfect text for generating ideas. Use it as a springboard to discuss people and places that matter. Students write lists of people that matter and small moments with those people. Do the same with places, but students can sketch a map of the place marking where the stories took place. 

Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge by Mem Fox is a story that I think I will use as long as I'm a teacher. There isn't a book that works more perfectly to open up the discussion of memories. Memories can make you laugh or cry. Memories can be warm or from long ago. Students keep a list of these in their notebooks to draw on when they need something to write about.

Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney is a true story of the author's Great-Aunt-Alice. She has dreams of seeing the world, but also of making the world a more beautiful place. Another book to open up a discussion of people in our lives that matter and just a wonderful story.

The Relatives Came by Cynthia Rylant is just so fun and simple. It's the story of a family who drives from Virginia to visit their relatives. They hug and eat and spend time together.

Use this story to introduce great leads, too. I love the start of this book. 

Amos &Boris by William Steig is a story I use to teach story elements. Characters, setting, plot, and theme and vocabulary can all be explicitly taught through this story. If I plan on using a picture book like this, or others listed here, I read the book one day as the class read aloud. We just enjoy the story. The following days I can refer back to the book to show characters or discuss lessons or themes. I always plan ahead to be sure I mark pages or passages I want to use. I have a class set of this book and students use sticky notes to mark text. They love this book!

(I had to add in a sixth book to my list of 5)

Nothing Ever Happens On 90th Street by Roni Schotter is PERFECT for introducing your writer's workshop. The story is about  Eva who is given an assignment to write in her notebook, but she is stuck for a story. As she meets up with different neighbors on her street, they give her suggestions of what she can write. One tells her to observe the details. One says to see the poetry in her writing. As we work on generating ideas in our notebooks,  I give a homework assignment to observe what is happening on their street. They title the page "Nothing Ever Happens on ____________". I encourage them to see if they can notice something on their own street they haven't before. They are always surprised that they DO find something they had noticed before.

Hope you found a new book here or maybe you were reminded of an old favorite! There is no better way to teach reading and writing then from the experts!

Room 851: #BeTheDifference

Well...things are finally settling down in my classroom. We are into our daily routine and curriculum is well under way. I was able to put together some photos of my classroom and the beautiful decor courtesy of Schoolgirl Style! I am just loving the calm colors and warm feel it gives the room. Let me walk you through room 851...

Bin and paint can labels make everything look coordinated.
(The stand holding the iPads is a teal chevron file stand from Office Depot. It is perfect for my 3 little iPads!)

I wanted to keep the Focus Wall and CAFE board neat and simple! (I've added standards since taking the picture.) Coniglio's Captains are my weekly helpers. I pick 3 students that help with everything. No more job board. The kids are really liking this and it's neat to watch how the three divide up tasks like line leader, door holder, lights, homework checker, etc. (Thanks to my BFF Denise over at Sunny Days for the idea.)

Room arrangement before...


This is the view from the door. There is lots of natural light from the 4 big windows.

This is another view from the door. The room is not very big at all but it works for my 18 third graders. I changed to tables at the end of last year and so far so good!
(Spray painted rocker adds a pop of color.)

Teacher desk view! I haven't been able to give up my desk...I know lots of teachers have, but I like my personal space and my "things". The white metal pencil holders are from Office Depot and the teal bins are from Target. I'm much more color coordinated than I was last year!
Personal items.
 Family photos are a MUST for me! The students like to see that we are "real" people. I do share my photos when I'm introducing myself to the class.
(Saw the Sharpie cookie jar idea on Pinterest. Had to do it!)

I think my most favorite new addition is my framed rules! I bought the collage frame at Walmart ($10) and created the rules using clipart from Educlips and Melonheadz. My goal was to create a cute simple display for the rules that wouldn't take up too much space. I only have 4 bulletin boards and I like to use those for student work.

Hope you enjoyed your tour of room 851!

Now on to a fun little giveaway from Mailbox Magazine. I was contacted this summer to take part in their #BeTheDifference movement. Of course, I did not hesitate to say YES!! I received this cute box filled with some goodies and ideas to start the year. 
During our Drop-In Day, I had each student take a selfie with an iPad. I used those photos (and mine, too) to tape on to the beach ball. I started by picking a student closest to my right thumb on the ball and asking a question. I tossed the ball, they answered, and then did the same to the next student. They had fun coming up with questions and finding out about each other. Activities like these allow students to find out what they have in common with their classmates.
We can use this ball all year for a variety of quick assessments like math facts. I think they will love that!

Creating a classroom environment that makes your students feel warm and safe, promotes a sense of security and calm and invites learning. Your classroom space should be free of clutter and distractions. Don't let your room get too busy. 
Being prepared for the day, keeping your classroom well-organized, and designing a room that is welcoming can #BeTheDifference in academics and behavior. 

How can you #BeTheDifference this year? Go to Mailbox on Facebook and share your own photo and story. You will be entered into their amazing giveaway, too!!

You can also enter here for a chance to win a Gold Membership to Mailbox Magazine! (Watch this video to learn more about it.) I will be picking TEN (yes 10) winners at the end of the day on Saturday, August 30th. All you have to do is enter! No jumping through hoops for this one! Just enter! Good luck and #BeTheDifference!!

First Week & a Educents 3-5 Pack!

I made it through the first week back! My kiddos are adorable and sweet. They LOVE to read which makes my job a thousand times easier and makes me SUPER happy! The first days back were filled with establishing routines and procedures, get-to-know-you activities, and paperwork! Starting Monday we will be fully immersed into our daily schedule and curriculum.

Here is a rundown of some of what we accomplished this past week:
*Beginning of the year math test
*Oral reading fluency tests
*Goal setting activity
*Set up reader's notebooks
*Practiced Read to Self (I was SO impressed with their stamina)
*Introduced Check for Understanding on the CAFE board
*Started our read aloud Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library
*Survived the first fire drill
*Got up and moved with Back to School Scoot. Playing this game was good practice for the other scoot games we will play throughout the year.

*Another fun BTS activity was this gallery walk. I placed chart paper around the room with various questions/surveys on them. (Favorite Snack. Favorite Subject. Why is school important? How do you feel about 3rd grade? Do you bring lunch or buy lunch?) The students walked around and, using Post-Its or stickers, answered the questions. We talked about how we are alike and different in so many ways. This activity got them up out of their seats and gave them a chance to get to know one another as the walked around the room.

*Started chapter 1 in math
*Decorated writer's notebooks (homework) and social studies/science notebooks. They cut up science and social studies books from our old series to create a collage on their notebooks. Then I cover them with clear packing tape. 

*Introduced Whole Brain Teaching  techniques: Class/Yes and Mirror, Hands & Eyes and Teach/Ok (loving these...A LOT!!!)

Whew!!! What a week! I think this week's activities were a great investment of time for a smooth school year. 

Planning ahead is, of course, key to a successful year, too. Having resources at your fingertips can be a huge help!
Educents is offering this AMAZING pack of resources to get you started this year!

My product included in this set, President Pack, will enhance your study of the leaders of our country. Here are the activities you will find in my pack that will get your kids thinking creatively:

But that's not all... the bundle covers the following topics that you will need to teach this year:
Multiplication and division
Explorers & Scientists
Grammar including:  Common Nouns, Verb Tenses, 
Graphic Organizer
Informational Text
Full Grade Level Math Assessments for 3rd, 4th, & 5th
Full Grade Level Personal Word Walls for 3rd, 4th, & 5th
Math Problem of the Week
A couple activities for Fall including Candy Corn Science & Turkey Writing & Craft

For a limited time it is $24.99 from Educents which is about 78% off!  33 products for  literacy, math, and science - resources that will stretch you long into your year.  And over 705 pages of materials ready for you to use - there is sure to be tons you will love!

Don't miss out on this pack! It's only available for a limited time!!

A Second Chance

The students are baaaaccckkk! I LOVE my little cuties already (I mean that sincerely!) There are some personalities in room 851 this year! They are super sweet and eager to learn. I'll be posting classroom photos and first week activities in a few days. (I'm STILL making finishing touches on my new decor!)

In case you haven't heard...TpT is hosting a Second Chance ONE DAY BTS to sale. My store will be marked down the full 20% and be sure to use the code BOOST for the extra 10% from TpT. Don't forget to leave feedback for items already purchased and earn FREE MONEY!

Meet the Teacher Linky

It's back to school time!!! Teachers started back today and the first day for kids is August 18th. On Friday, my new kiddos will be dropping in to meet me and see the room they will spend the next 10 months. I love meeting my new class and I hope they are excited to meet me.

To kick off the new year, I'm linking up with Stephanie over at Falling into First for this fun get-to-know-you linky. 

Well, here I am taking a selfie in Central Park this summer...I LOVE NYC!!
If you don't know, my name is Gina. I live in South Florida. I'm going into my 26th year of teaching (WHAT???). I can barely believe it! How can this be? Approximately 700 students have passed through my classroom. WOW!! What kind of impact have I made on those kids? Where are they now? It's mind boggling!

I've been married for 16 years. My hubby is a teacher, too. We have taught in the same school for many years so we drive to work together. He drives and I take selfies! We have 2 of the BEST kids in the world. Sometimes I wonder how we got SO very lucky! Our son is turning 14 and our daughter will be 12 very soon.

Here we are after Lily's dance recital. I took part in a special "mom dance". I had a blast performing!


Family. Friends. Traveling. Starbucks. Disney. Teaching. My rescue pups. The ocean. The color blue. Movies. Sharpies. 

a chef. I'm not even a great cook, but it's something I wish I could be!

Humble. Funny. Intuitive.

I love this one!

Walt Disney, for sure!! I would love to meet the man behind the magic!

A Sunshiny Day

I want to be a super chef...the power to cook and bake ANYTHING...and to have my kids eat it ALL!

Just ONE of many favorites

This is a hard one...but if I had to pick right now then it would be "Say Something" by Great Big World. Love that song!

MORNING for sure. I don't have time for sleep!

One of my favorites is a new product
Students will act out their responses to reading. I think it's such a different addition to reading time and it gives kids a chance to stretch their creative thinking muscles. Something they need to do more of!

I'm learning how to tap dance. It's a lot of fun and I get to hang out with my "dance mom" friends. My daughter takes the adult tap class, too. I enjoy our mommy/daughter time. (She's quite the tapper!!)

So that's it for me! Head on over to the linky to meet other bloggers and/or link up yourself! 
Have a great week!!

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