Diane at Fifth in the Middle has created this Blog by State link up! How fun!! Click on the button and link up!  Find other bloggers in your state and see where your bloggy buddies are from!!

Head on over to Amelia at Where the Wild Things Learn! She has a fantastic giveaway going on, not to mention a cute blog!

I had some blog issues today and I want to thank the girls at Honey Bunch Blog Design. They were right on this issue and it was fixed in NO time!! I'm so happy I'm all back to normal!!
Happy Friday!

I know things aren't looking good right now on my blog! I have figured out the issue now trying to resolve. If you have these fun boxes on your blog read this article:


Hopefully I'll be back to normal soon!!
For the past 3 years, I have had the privilege of being part of the Teaching American History Grant. My county applied and received close to a $1,000,000 grant. My role as a participant has been to attend  monthly Saturday workshops and  PLC meetings, attend summer institutes, create lesson plans, study history,  and receive awesome materials! The group has gone on three trips. I only attended the trip to St. Augustine. Not only did I get to learn about teaching history, but I got paid along the way!! Our study has taken us from the Revolutionary War and will end around WW II. It has been an incredible experience. During the Saturday workshops and summer institutes, we have been instructed by authors, professors, and even first person interpreters like Thomas Jefferson, Dolly Madison, and Pocahontas. They were all outstanding!

Last Saturday a wonderful author presented to us for the second time, Elvira Woodruff. She is a writer of historical fiction. Here are just a few of her books:

(I'm so mad that I forget to bring my author's chair! I do have a few signed books though!YEAH!)

Here is Elvira signing my copy of The Memory Coat. Can't wait to share this story with students!

Elvira started the workshop with this quote, "The Day is a Morsel". It simply means that each day is a small piece out of life. It's a bite. We should be making the most of every day. Nice, right?

Most of her presentation centered around her books The Orphan of Ellis Island, The Memory Coat, and Small Beauties. Her presentation is leading us into our study of immigration and her books are perfect! She described how she came up with the ideas and spent months researching the topics. If you are studying immigration with your class you must check out her books. She also suggested downloading photos from the Ellis Island site or you can Goggle~photos of immigrants arriving at Ellis Island. Have your students study the photo to come up with a story about the people in it. Here are some questions kids could answer about a photo like the one below (we did this as a group and it was fun!):

*What is your name?
*Where did you come from?
*How will you support yourself?
*What did you leave behind?
*Do you speak English?
*How will you help your family?
*Who will meet you?
*What did you carry with you?

We had to use a lot of inferencing skills and creative thinking! Try it!

The last part of her presentation was a quick overview of what she talks to students about during school visits. (She is so worth a school visit. Look into it especially if you are in the northeast. She lives in Pennsylvania.)

Here are some wonderful tips she shares with our youngest authors:
*write in the quietest room
*research your topic
*notice the details around you
*writer's use their memories
*keep journals
*use good and not so good memories for stories
*look out windows and see stories
*no TV-she says it's the biggest killer of creativity (I agree!)
*ask family for story starters
*first time you do something is a great story starter
*let people you know be characters for your stories
*work on a book with a friend especially if one is good at writing and one is good at drawing!
*everything you do can be a story starter

Authors are so inspirational! I know the students always enjoy meeting them and so do I. We have had several visit our school, including Henry Cole who was one of my favorites! Have you had any author visits? Who were your favorites? Any one you wish could visit your school? (I want to meet JK Rowling!)
Please share!

I love to see what other classroom arrangements look like. Whenever I go into another teacher's room I always check out the layout in case I need to switch things up (which I do quite often). I'm so happy that Denise chose room design for this week's Show and Tell topic. Link up and share yours! I would love to see it!

Here is the view from my desk which is in the front to the side. The large blue carpet is where we meet for whole group instruction. I use my Promethean board for every thing. The white board has my agenda, homework, and CAFE board. My room is like a square. It's not very big. I do have a big storage closet and bathroom. You can see the adjoining door that leads to the hubby's room! FUN!! I'm not sure what you call the arrangement of my desks. They are not quite in a U or an E. Somewhere in between. I don't seat my kids in groups. If they need to work in groups they move around the room.

Here is the view from the opposite corner of the room from my desk. I'm so happy I'm in a room with windows! I hate not being able to see outside! Even at my house I always open blinds! I love the sunshine!!

My kids spend very little time at their desks. I try to arrange the desks so we can move easily around the room and have ample floor space. They read and write around the room, sitting in bean bags (shhhh! Don't tell the fire marshall!), my rocking chair, my author's chair, or on the blue carpet. I have a couple of big pillows. Some like to sit in the rolling chair at my computer table. If they choose they can sit at their desk and some do. Depending on the assignment, I give them a choice if they want to work alone or with 1 or 2 friends. I also use Clock Partners or sometimes we just count off depending on the number in a group. I have two libraries as you can see in these two photos. They are in different places because that is the only place I can fit them. I would love (and need) more book shelves, but there is not a place for anymore! UGHH! I need to think of something!

Next are some more "fun" places to sit in the room. The rocking chair, the orange cushion for the floor, and the tall bar stool are all used. You can also see an edge of a green dining chair in the first photo. My sister's neighbor was throwing them out, so she grabbed them for us! They were in perfect shape!! 
If I had a choice I would want tables and no desks. My school just didn't have enough for me to use this year and I could not live with having all different tables! YUCK! 

Check out those nifty chair pouches on each students' chair. My parents bought them for me a few years back as a Christmas gift. They were actually designed by a parent at my school. They are called Chair Monkeys. Sadly, she is out of business now, so if I ever need more I'm out of luck. (boo hoo!) They just keep folders and their pencil cases in them, nothing too heavy. I'm a neat freak so keeping desks and chair pouches organized is a MUST!

I hope you enjoyed my little tour! I can not wait to see your rooms!

For my 5 for Friday I wanted to pose 5 questions. These are topics that have come up and I have been thinking about and/or discussing with my colleagues over the last week. I would love to hear your response, thoughts, ideas, etc! I have included some of my random thoughts, too! I think it's so important to collaborate and I love the idea of hearing what is going on in other schools around the country.

#1: What does your school do to address the issue of bullying?
I think my kids are almost desensitized to the word. My 3rd graders think anytime someone is "mean" to them or they don't want to play, they call it bullying. We have wonderful anti-bullying programs in place. We provide our kids with the tools to defend against bullying, but is it all enough? What about the consequences for the bully?? I've had two personal experiences where the child who was bullied was punished for standing up for himself against the bully. I'm just not sure that is the way to handle this problem.

#2: How do you think students should be graded if they are in danger of failing the grade level? In other words, should they make As and Bs on a report card or do you give all Cs? Or lower?  (I'm not talking about ESE kids)
I think it is confusing to the parent to see As and Bs on a report card, yet they are told their child is in danger of failing.

#3: How many grades do you take per subject area? Does your school require a specific amount?
I have taught for over 20 years. I learned long ago that giving 9-15 grades per quarter was more than enough for elementary students. One grade per week per subject has been my rule of thumb. We do not have a set rule or specific amount. It's left to the teacher's discretion.

#4: What kinds of assignments do you grade? Do you grade homework?
I only grade work I consider an assessment. I do not grade homework. I always check homework with my students, which provides immediate feedback for them and me. I can walk around while we grade and see quickly if there are any problems that need review.

#5: Have you found a way to reduce the number of papers you grade?
Using response journals, reader's notebook, and conferencing with my kids, has reduced the number of copies I make and therefore the number I grade.  Our math book and science and social studies books are consumable which cuts back on copies. For the most part, I do not bring papers home too often. If I do they don't seem to get graded anyway. I have learned to utilize my planning time and before and after school to get that work done. I do spend time at home planning, creating activities, and reading professional resources. I think that is a better use of my time.

I appreciate your comments! Agree or disagree! It's all a part of the learning process!! Do you have any burning questions? Looking forward to hearing from you!
Link up with Doodle Bugs and share 5 random things from your week!

Check out this great giveaway at Mrs. Russell's Class blog! 

Abe Lincoln said, "The things I want to know are in books; my best friend is a man who'll get me a book I ain't read".  My favorite quote by my favorite president! AND my favorite topic today: books! I LOVE books! There is not a lesson that goes by that I don't have a book or at least find a book to share!  I read books to introduce new concepts and ideas.  I read books to model what good readers do. I read books just for fun. I use books as mentor texts for writing. Authors are my rock stars! I will attend local book signings, or better yet reading conferences where tons of authors roam! Here is one of my most favorite things in my classroom:
My author's chair...it's been signed by the best of them! Jeff Kinney, Lois Lowry, Patricia Polacco, Ralph Fletcher, Walter Dean Myers, Sharon Creech, Jane O'Connor, Lester Laminack, Gordon Korman. The list goes on. I also keep an album of photos of authors I have met. The kids love to see those and they can't wait to read a book in the chair! Get yourself a director's chair and a good Sharpie and be ready when an author comes to your town!

On to the linky....I'm going to share books for President's Day. Here are some of the many I own:

To introduce Lincoln today, I asked the kids to think of characteristics of a notable person. First, we had to figure out what notable meant. They did pretty good, though at first they thought it was someone who takes good notes! LOL! They then came up with the list in green. I read aloud
A. Lincoln and Me and we filled in the chart at the bottom based on the book. After that we went back to the list of characteristics and discussed the ones that we think describe Lincoln. I put a little blue star next to those. We also discussed how people thought Lincoln was ugly and strange looking, yet we know he accomplished great things! So sometimes you can't judge a book by it's cover! It was a good little opener.

Here are a bunch of books I own and just ♥♥♥:

I can't let President's Day go by and not mention George Washington. I ♥ him, too (even though Abe is my first love!)

Here are some president books I'm dreamin' of:

We will be working on research papers about presidents over the next couple of weeks. I created two freebies for President's Day. You can find them in my TpT store ✯here✯ and ✯here✯. We will be using my "All About" Presidents poster to display our research. I also created this President Pack with some creative alternatives to "traditional" research papers. The kids can make a Facebook like page, write Tweets, or a create a blog page for the president they are researching. My "All About" poster is included in this pack, too!

Link up with Denise at Sunny Days and share your favorite books!!

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