Happy Monday All!!
Woke up thinking "What the heck...it's the end of April!" Time just goes by so fast. I'm really wishing it would slow down!

Mother's Day is right around the corner. Every year for the past few years, I have had my kids write "How To Be" poems. I love these gifts from the heart! I've had many a mom tell me this was the best gift they ever received. When the poems are written and ready, the kids create a book with illustrations and all. (I will post those when they are done.) My sister has her students bring in a frame for their poems. Either way it's the message that counts.

First, as a whole group, we write a How to be a Dog poem. I ask kids to tell me what we would have to do to be a dog. I write what they say even though the format may not be correct at first.  (The first draft is in black.) After we finish, I asked the kids what they notice. Hopefully, they say the action verbs at the start of each line. LOL! I underlined those in green. We then revised some lines (blue). I talked about adding a last line that will make your reader say AWWWW! They came up with the line in bright green.

 I then instruct the kids to write the same type poem about their mom, about 8-10 lines. I explain that they need to dig deep into their heart and write what makes their mom THEIR mom. I tell them to pretend they are telling me what I would have to do to be their mom. I tell them NOT to write just basic things like "cook for me" or "buy me things". I explain that those phrases are ok if mom cooks something special for you or mom has bought you something extra special. I want this to be from the heart. I try not to give too many examples or they will write what you say. As they started writing today, I noticed they were struggling with the verbs, so we did a quick brainstorm of action verbs they could use for mom. I will keep adding to this as we think of more.

My kids only wrote for about 20 minutes today, so these are very rough drafts. We have not revised or edited yet. I think so far very cute!!
These will take time to revise and edit and then publish into their books. Start early if you do this project! I always tell them they can write to a grandma, aunt, sister, or any special woman in their life. Can't wait to show you the finished products!

I found this fabulously fashionable linky and two new adorable blogs today! Keepin' it Kool in Kindergarten and Closing the Gap...in a Cute Outfit.
So I had my 10 year old daughter snap a photo of me after school today. It was like a photo shoot! I had to put my hands on my hips and "pop a knee"...those were my directions! She was cracking me up. Here is me and my Monday outfit....
Fashionistas everywhere...link up too! Let's see what you're wearin'!
Social Studies is one of my favorite subjects to teach, especially the history part. In our third grade curriculum there isn't too much history, so when I can, I fit it in. I'm excited to read and learn some new books in this Mentor Linky from Collaboration Cuties!

This year I came across these books from Scholastic. They are from the series called A True Book. They are available in a wide range of historical topics, places, and people. The readability is fairly easy (not sure of the level) and they are jam packed with text features. I used The Pony Express book when we were studying text features earlier this year. I only own these three right now, but my dream is to collect a class set on a variety of topics.
Here are some pictures from Amazon (sorry that I forgot to take pics of the pages in the books I have).

Like I said, every book is full of text features...captions, bold words, primary sources, maps, charts, etc. Additional resources (books and websites) are listed in the back along with a glossary. They are short paperback books which makes them perfect to use as a mentor text. It took about 3 days to read through the Pony Express and discuss the features. I used them to model other nonfiction reading strategies, like asking questions. I can see myself getting a lot of use out of a class set.  If you can't get a class set then have a couple on hand for your classroom library and as mentor text for modeling the reading of nonfiction.

Here are some other books in this series:

When testing ends and the year is coming to a close, I always feel like there is SO much to do. The engines get revved and we MOVE! We accomplished so much this week...finishing projects, writing poetry, continuing our folk tale study, and a little Earth Day in between.

#1: We started our week with Earth Day and we signed up for to participate in school wide clean up.  WELL...I guess a little nature got in the way. A family of raccoons have been making their appearance on our campus lately. They come out during the day and hang around. Some were trapped and taken away to a safer home, but others continue to show up. So...our clean up was postponed until Tuesday. 

When we finally were allowed outside we took our trash bags and gloves and started collecting. We picked up about 8 pounds of  trash! EWWW!  In total, the school collected over 140 pounds! WOW....we had a lot of trash around the school! (Littering is one of my pet peeves!)

#2: The kids are enjoying our poetry writing and they are producing some AMAZING pieces!! I'm so pleased! So far we have written bio poems, color poems, and cinquains. 

#3: We just finished our U.S. regions projects and presentations. They floored me again with their hard work and effort. I think their posters turned out beautifully and their presentations were fun. Some put the information in a song, some turned it into poetry, and another group created a documentary. So creative!

#4: Before testing I had started a study of folktales. We were only able to study fairy tales, but now we are back on track. YEAH! This week I reviewed the elements of legends, myths, fables, and tall tales. I collected books for each genre (some from my collection and some from the library). Over the next week or so, reading buddies will read a book from each genre and complete a traditional literature graphic organizer. These will go into their reader's notebooks when they finish as part of their last quarter grade. They were very engaged in the books and the activity. It's fun to hear them discussing and getting excited about the stories they are reading. For some, it may be the first time they have read one of these genres. 

I set out the books and organizers. The book American Tall Tales by Mary Pope Osborne is a wonderful anthology. My kids are loving it!

#5: If you are a Florida blogger then you might be as excited as I am to see the new Sunshine State Young Reader's list for 2013-2014! (I get very nerdy about this stuff). There are some fantastic books on the list. I am SO happy to see that The One and Only Ivan made it onto the list! 

I finished reading this to my class and let me tell you...you could have heard a pin drop. The last page really chocked us up. I could barely read it through! PLEASE read this book! (Lately, I have found that I enjoy children's/young adult books more than adult novels and this was one of those times!)
Since my class is knee deep into poetry writing, I wanted to tie Ivan into it. The story is written from the perspective of this mighty Silverback. You really get an emotional attachment to Ivan and the other animals, too. I decided that we would write an animal point of view poem. I created this brainstorm/fact collecting sheet.

 Next week I will have my kids collect information about a wild animal then put that information into a poem told from the animals point of view. Again, they will have a choice as to the form the poem takes, but I do like them to think it out first. You can certainly try this even if you haven't read Ivan. Grab a copy *HERE*!

Even if you are not a Florida teacher, check out the lists for middle and elementary *HERE*. These lists are compiled by media specialists all over Florida (mine happens to be on the committee!). Many states have similar awards. Does yours? At my school, reading these books is a BIG deal. Students have to read at least 3 of the 15 to vote on their favorite and to attend an ice cream social. The number of books they read determines the number of toppings they can put on their ice cream. YUM! If the kids read all 15, they participate in Battle of the Books.

Here are some of the books from both lists that I know and recommend:

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