Saturday, March 31, 2012

Survey Freebie and Facebook page

I’m currently finishing up my first product that I actually hope to sell on TpT.  I’ve made a few freebies, but I am really hopeful that teachers will see my products and think they are worth purchasing too…we’ll see. My goal is to have it listed this weekend.  (The anticipation is going to be killer, right?!)
What I’m working on is meant to fit well into any school week, but is especially good for the spring, or Cinco de Mayo.  If you’re looking for some fun writing, literacy and math activities that cross cultures, and spice up your classroom – this will be perfect for you!
In order to give people a taste of what’s coming in this SUPER AMAZING new product, I put together a little freebie.  **Please keep in mind this freebie is part of a whole.**  It is designed to accompany the reading of The Three Little Tamales and The Three Little Pigs.  I’ll be coming up with another freebie or two this week, but this is the first.
Have you read The Three Little Tamales?  If not, you should! Your students will love it!  It’s another Eric A. Kimmel take on a traditional story.  Slide1
I wanted to get my ELLs talking, in general and specifically about the book and related topics.  So, I’ve created a survey.  You can download it at my TpT store by clicking here, or by clicking any of the images below.
So that’s the first freebie to come of this product.  As I said above I hope to share some more later this week.  Be on the look out!
In other news, I’ve also finally put a Facebook Button on my blog! I created the FB page a while ago, but have been moving rather slowly.  Please take a moment and visit the page, right now it’s not too exciting, but I do hope to add more to it shortly.  Your support is SO appreciated!  You can click the big F on the right, or the image below.  GRACIAS!
That’s all for today.  Spring Break is almost over and I can hardly stand it!  It flew by!  For those of you who have just started their break, ENJOY! 
Mrs. Castro Pin It

Friday, March 30, 2012

Lunchbox Linky and some giveaways

I’ve seen a bunch of people join this lunchbox linky.  Tara from 4th Grade Frolics is hosting it and so far I've noticed lots of people have very cute lunch bags.  I’m not one of them.  I usually just use a plastic bag from the grocery store.  It’s a less than appealing presentation but it’s quick and easy…and forgettable!

Because this week is my spring break I actually haven’t packed a lunch.  In general I’m a frozen meal kind of girl.  It’s easy and I usually remember it.  However, I do at least once a week leave my house with no lunch, not because I’m planning on going out, but because I just plain forgot!  It probably has to do with the unappealing presentation and the blah food choices. 

I see all these other teachers packing super healthy lunches, and feel I should probably do a better job about packing healthy lunches…it’s so much work and planning.  Maybe if I win this lunch giveaway I’ll stop forgetting my lunch!  I wish I had something more fun to add to this linky, but there you have it.
lunchbox linky
I also wanted to metion some great giveways that are happening right now.  These are giveways that I desperately want to win, maybe this will be the end of my losing streak.  Think positive, right?!

Krista from Second Grade Superkids and Casey from Second Grade Math Maniacs have joined together to offer a double giveaway.  There are some great resources here, so check it out!
double giveaway

Also, DeAnne from First Grade and Fabulous is also hosting a giveaway and has also teamed up with other bloggers so there are all sorts of fabulous resources here too!firstgradefabulousbuttonThat’s all for today, can you tell I am in spring break mode.  I am just reading as much as I can and refusing to think about being productive. 

Off to eat scones, drink tea and read! 
Mrs. Castro Pin It

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Survey Says...

I found this fun Linky at Jill's blog, Marvelous Multiagers - it's like she has a 6th sense for finding fun linkys.  I always seem 12 steps behind, but I'm actually an early joiner to this one...there's a first for everything!

This linky was created by 5th Grade Rocks, 5th Grade Rules.  She's created a fun survey for teacher here we go.

1.  Are you married, do you have a bf, or are you flying free as a single lady/man?
Married to an amazing guy who truly has the WORST names for English, Oscar Ariel, so basically he's the grouch or he's the mermaid.  In Spanish these names just aren't so bad, but he refuses to take on a nickname so he will continue to be the grouchy mermaid.
2.  Where did you grow up?

I was born in Colrado, lived in California but mostly grew up in the Chicago suburbs...where you can still find me.

3.  Do you have any pets?  If so, what kind and what is his/her name?
Oh yes, Max and Ellie - two cats who appear frequently on my blog.  

4. What is a favorite tv show you are embarrassed to admit to watching?
Jersey many bad decisions in such a short period of time, there's something hypnotizing about it

5.  Are you a saver or a spender?
I'm a saver...spending makes me anxious!  Just ask the grouchy mermaid!

6.  What is your favorite children's book?
A Wrinkle in Time, I can still read this over and over!

7.  Were you the class clown, teacher's pet, or neither?
Generally the teacher's pet, but only if the teacher was worth it.  If the teacher was lame, I didn't pay much attention...should I admit that now?

8.  Who is your favorite athletic team?
La seleccion argentina - the Argentine national soccer team.  They're the best!

9.  Where did you go on your last REALLY fun vacation?
Buenos Aires, Argentina.  We were there for Christmas break this year to visit you know who's family, it was nice since it's summer down there at that time of year!

10.  Who is your favorite actor?  Actress?
I really like Liam Neeson.  He just seems like he would be a very nice, but slightly intimidating person in real life.

11.  Tell about the last time you cried because you were happy.
I came close when our Square Cat buttons arrived and one of my little guys wanted so badly to write his thank you was so amazing to see him so excited about reading!

12.  What is your favorite season?
Fall it's beautiful outside, and perfect weather for enjoying a good book!
13.  What is your biggest regret?

I think it would just be not staying in shape.  I played soccer for years and now can barely run 2 minutes without cramping up.  (Now I'm feeling frustrated with myself!)

BUT I LIKED THE ORIGINAL, so I kept that here, so I can do this and not regret it!

That I didn't start taking care of my body years ago!  Oh, and that I didn't start a 403B when I first started teaching.  ***Take note all of you spring chickens!

14.  What food do you just NOT like at all?
Sauerkraut - I can't even be in the same room as that stinky stuff!

15. Who was your most memorable teacher, and why?
My most memorable teacher has to be my Spanish teacher from high school, Mrs. Gullickson. She was truly an inspiration.  If it weren't for her I'm not sure I would have continued studying Spanish, studied abroad and met my husband.  She helped inspire me in general and truly changed the course my life took!

We're suppose to think of another question - but my brain is not up for that, I'm on spring break, no excess thining is allowed!

There you have it!  
Mrs. Castro Pin It

Monday, March 26, 2012

Compare and Contrast with The Runaway Tortilla...Freebie!

I love traditional literature...but I especially love traditional literature that has been revamped with some Latino flavours!  Enter, Eric A. Kimmel.  Mr. Kimmel has written several of my classroom read aloud favorites including, The Runaway Tortilla.  

As I've already mentioned for some reason the group of kids I have is obsessed with The Gingerbread Man...they can't get enough.  Every time we go to the library they are on the hunt for some version of this story.  This is why I decided to introduce comparing and contrasting using their favorite The Gingerbread Man and a spicier version, The Runaway Tortilla.   I've actually created a whole mini-unit to go along with this read aloud and strategy.  If you click the picture below you'll go to my TpT store and can download the mini-unit for free.  To see more of what we did continue reading.  BUT keep in mind, there are more activities in the mini-unit then you'll see here on my blog.

The Runaway Tortilla has a lot of similarities - there is a sassy main character, only this time it's a girl tortilla.  There are a man and woman involved in it's making - Tio Jose and Tia Lupe...and their are a host of characters that chase the tortilla - but this time they're all desert dwellers.  There is even a tricky character at the end, only this time it is a coyote instead of a fox.  It's a great way to introduce compare and contrast...

Here is our less than fancy Venn Diagram.  
After reading the story my second graders partnered with the first graders to fill out post its on differences.  They really have begun to make a huge shift to favoring The Runaway Tortilla...check out all those post its!  The teachers did what they both have in common but the kiddos read the post its aloud and had to decide what the post it meant...they did great!  

The next day we wrote the main differences very big on the sides of the Venn Diagram, for them to refer to for their writing project.  They wrote about similiarities and differences, with some cloze sentences.  They're getting so good at this, and almost all of my kids prefer to write in English now!

Then they wrote a fancy final draft, "decorated" a gingerbread man and a paper plate (a.k.a. Tortilla) and the whole project came together.  

 Gingerbread Men

  Doesn't this tortilla show disdain well?  He really captured her general attitude towards everyone...

If you would like to do this activity and more in you class you can download the whole mini-unit for FREE at my TpT store by clicking here.  Please do leave feedback if you use this product - it usually makes my day!!!

I hope this unit is as fun for your class as it was for ours!

Mrs. Castro

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Saturday, March 24, 2012

Square Cat revisited = MOST SPECIAL DAY EVER!

So I believe last week I posted about Square Cat this super cute book about Eula the Square Cat and her struggles with being square.  My class did a writing activity based on Eula and I posted it here.  What made this project unforgettable was the fact that Elizabeth Schoonmaker - the author...a REAL PUBLISHED author of a book I'VE READ - found my blog!  How, I have no idea, I'm still a small fish in a big blogging sea, but somehow she found it.
She left a cute comment on the original post as if she were Eula.  She emailed me kind words and shared information I could share with my kids.  She even mailed us Square Cat pins.  I cannot put in words how gratifying it was to have Elizabeth (we're on a first name basis now) see our projects and think they were worthy of comment and praise.  She even posted some pics of our projects on her own Square Cat blog, check it out here.  

If you want to see our original project click here.

I kept all of this a secret from my kids until we got the pins.  Then we revisited Eula and her story, discussed the author and her ideas...and then I shared that she had seen their projects.  It was amazing to see how their faces glowed from the information.  We got online and I explained the whole chain of events...(so they saw my blog, which previously I had not shared), they saw Eula's blog, and they saw Elizabeth's email with some of her pictures.  They couldn't believe it...They feel famous, and big time.  They gained some swagger (as my Special K box says) when using their pins.  It was one of my most memorable and special teaching mornings, EVER!

One of my little boys is a struggling reader, and a previous cat-hater.  He's made some big strides this year, in terms of reading and in terms of cats.  He now asks after Max and Ellie on a regular basis.  The story Square Cat really struck this student.  After reading the story he used his indoor recess time to draw Eula and asked to have her taped to his take-home folder.  Check it out!

He regularly refers to himself as a book nerd now, something he wouldn't have done before...and basically he's amazing.  But yesterday, he was in intervention while I was presenting some of the information about the blogs, and the author.  When he came back I pulled him aside and showed him everything...he was astonished by the whole chain of events, and I could just see his little heart expanding with wonder at the whole thing.  Afterwards we had to continue finishing up our tortilla projects before writing thank you notes to Elizabeth and Eula...this little guy asked me over and over when he could write his note, he so wanted to write his note and thank Eula and Elizabeth for his pin.  

It was just wonderful!  Here is a picture of my class with our pins...a couple of students were out sick which is sad, but these kids had an unforgettable day!

Can you tell by my long rambling message above how thrilled and humbled I am by this whole Square Cat experience.  I never imagined blogging would lead to such special moments like this one and that it could help inspire my kids as well...

I was going to write about our Tortilla project but I think I'll save it for tomorrow...

Spring break has officially started for me! Yippee!  And with spring break the beautiful summer weather we were having in Illinois has been replaced by cool rainy spring weather - doesn't it just figure!  

Happy Saturday!
Mrs. Castro Pin It

Thursday, March 22, 2012

A little of this and a little of…going multiage next year!?

So this week is a trying week – just in sight is spring break…and I am so looking forward to it…the weather in Illinois has been unusually HOT and our school has not switched from heat to A/C so we are literally melting.   I’m looking forward to enjoying the weather rather than roasting indoors!

First things first, it has been announced that ALL 1st and 2nd grade bilingual classrooms will be going multiage next school year.  My initial reaction is EXCITEMENT!  Our school only has one bilingual section at each primary grade so we end up being islands with no team.  Now, I will be part of a team of…two!  My future teammate is truly amazing.  We’ve been doing some activities together this year already and now we’ll be a real team!  I feel so lucky to get to work with such an experienced and successful teacher.  It’s going to be great!

Second reaction – HOLY GOD!  First graders kind of scare me.  They’re so little when they first start!  They are so needy in the beginning.  Plus I’ll be teaching the kiddos how to read in Spanish – I’m not a native Spanish speaker so I didn’t learn Spanish the way they’ll be learning…I have so much to learn!!!!!!!  So I’m overwhelmed and anxious for all of the challenges that this change means. 

Third reaction – this is such a great opportunity to gain experience as a teacher.  I will learn so much and the challenges will be worth it. 

So, if you’ve taught multiage and specifically 1/2 let me know if you have any tips, I’ll take all the advice I can get!!!

My next super exciting thing to share is I’ve received the absolute nicest feedback on my TpT store!  I checked today to see if I had any because officially I have three freebies in my store.  I know with freebies there isn’t the same incentive to leave feedback, but somebody left me the nicest feedback today.  It made me smile, hold my hands to my heart, glow a bit and just generally feel amazing.  I’m so thankful to the lady who left the feedback and wish she had a blog so I could find her, but alas she’s not a blogger yet.  I’m going to just quote one sentence of her review because it’s so nice: “OH - MY - GOSH! Where have you been all my life?!?”.


Tomorrow I’ll be sharing some of the work we’ve done this week with a very cute story.  I’m sure your kids like The Gingerbread Man…mine are obsessed.  Whenever we go to the library at least 5 kids are on the hunt for this book.  Eric A. Kimmel is the author of some very creative versions of classic stories like The Gingerbread Man.  He spices these familiar stories up by giving them some Latino flavor!  The story we did this week was The Runaway Tortilla.  The kids love this story and it lends itself so well to working with comparing and contrasting.
runaway tortilla

Tomorrow I’ll post some images of what we did and their final writing/craft activity.  I wasn’t there for the final bit, so fingers crossed they turned out well! 
Happy almost Friday!
Mrs. Castro Pin It

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Anchor Chart Linky Party

I am definitely a newbie to anchor charts.  I've found so many good anchor chart ideas on Pinterest and other blogs, but I definitely feel new to creating my own anchor charts.  As a resource teacher I didn't use chart paper as freely and meaningfully as I do now.  That wasn't because I was a resource was because I was in a daze from literally stumbling into teaching. 

But Ms. M. at Ms. M's Blog has thrown an anchor chart linky party.  I think this is a great linky party!  I will be able to steal put to use so many wonderful ideas from fellow bloggers!  ;) 

However, I do feel the need to contribute.  So, I looked around my classroom and I tried to find something that was aesthetically pleasing and that was 100% my idea.  I looked hard...I found NADA.

So, I'm partaking of this linky party with some hesitation.  The item I'm most proud of right now in my room isn't technically a chart.  But it is located on a pocket chart...which is close enough for me!

After scouring the internet, blogs and Pinterest I really hadn't found a Daily 5 management tool that could help both my students and me know what was going on during guided reading.  I have a whole Pinterest board dedicated to this search, but nothing seemed right for my class and our needs.

In comes the pocket chart...see below.

On the left hand side are the groups, they are color-coded.  Station rotations read from left to right.

I have a card for:
  • Read to Self
  • Read to Someone
  • Listen to Reading
  • Work on Writing
  • Word Work
  • Puss In Boots - kids know that means they meet with me, since I'm the cat lady.
  • Underdog - kids know that means they meet with my assistant, since she has dogs.
(My colleague tied hers to her university theme.)

This pocket chart has revolutionized my guided reading/daily 5 block.  While previously I struggled to find a clear way of communicating the rotations, now my students know what group they're in and know where they need to go without ever asking me!  With a quick glance I know where students should be and who I need to meet with. 

One of my most favorite co-workers (and best teachers I know!) has stolen used this idea and had so much success - she feels much more able to manage a block of time that was previously hard to manage/wrap one's head around.  When being observed by my school principal she was very impressed with this visual tool as it helped every single person in the classroom - including her - know with ease what was going on.

I switch the cards around each day, but nothing too drastic.  Generally, the slots with me and my assistant do not change much throughout the week, rather their Daily 5 rotation changes.  I have a general daily schedule that I use to help guide me each day...but it becomes very second-nature. 

This is my contribution to the Anchor Chart Linky Party – I hope it is as helpful to someone else as it has been to me!

Mrs. Castro Pin It

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Top 10 Award and Spanish stuff

I hope you all have been having an amazing weekend!  Here in the Chicago area the weather has truly been amazing.  We were able to grill for the first time this year.  Since my husband is an Argie and Argentina takes grilling very seriously, like religious means I ate enough for about 3 was worth it!  So anyways, I hope your weekend has been as sun-filled and gluttonous as mine!  :)

Something else exciting this weekend is that I was nominated for a blog award!  I am so flattered that Stacy at 2nd Grade Paradise thought my blog was worth mentioning!  Thank you Stacy for stopping by.  I recently discovered her blog and it really is a great source of wonderful ideas and inspiration.  
I want to share this special blog award with 5 blogs that I've discovered during my hours of blog stalking.  These are wonderful blogs definitely worth visiting for ideas and inspiration!  Plus these ladies have been very supportive of my blog, which I remember and appreciate!

Corinna at Surfin' Through Second Grade
Holly at Crisscross Applesauce
Jill at Mrs. T's First Grade Class
Lori at Teaching with Love and Laughter
Hayley at Following Optimism 

You ladies to click here for more information on the award and to get the button.  

One more thing I wanted to share today was what I do the third Sunday of the month.  I'm the interpreter for our church.  I do live interpretation of an English message to Spanish.  This is a super rewarding way to serve, but it is high pressure.  Spanish is my second language, and while I speak Spanish at home  and at work, there are definitely gaps in my vocabulary and I do have true "brain farts".  Every once in a while I'll make a BIG mistake.

For example one doozy was when I forgot how to say nun in Spanish...a monk is monje and for some reason I kept saying mona...which is girl monkey when I should have said mojna.  Not my brightest moment.  The other challenge I face is having lived in Argentina my Spanish is definitely different from most of the Spanish speaking population in America.  So now I tend to spontaneously switch between Argie Spanish and Mexican Spanish, this is completely unconscious and I don't really know what to do about it...luckily my Spanish ministry friends are very forgiving and generally entertained.

Here am I am in the interpretation room getting ready for today's interpretation.  Note the high tech equipment that I have not damaged at all!  Even my students will tell you I'm clumsy, but somehow I've managed to not destroy anything after nearly three years!  
Happy Sunday, enjoy the last few hours of the weekend!
Mrs. Castro

P.S. I'm so excited because Elizabeth Schoonmaker the author of Square Cat somehow found my blog and left a comment on my post about the book!  I am giddy excited! Pin It

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Square Cat Writing Project - Freebie

So far this morning has been glorious!  A cup of tea, playful cats a good book.  I'm currently reading Pandemonum the sequel to Delrious.  I was loving it until I got to a part that I just can't deal with...I needed a break, I don't want any disappointment or sadness to creep into this perfect morning, so I'll blog instead!

A few weeks ago, Jill at Marvelous Multiagers posted a book on Goodreads (my favorite website).  She marked as to-read Square Cat.  Basically, in my classroom if there is a cat involved we're all over it.  So I checked the book out from the library, and LOVED it!  It's a great read aloud for being unique, being a good friend, accepting who you are, etc.
Basically it's a book about a cat who is square shaped and sad about it.  If the cat, Eula, falls down she can't get up, she can't wear the clothing styles it wants, etc.  She has some great friends that try to help, but in the end just wear boxes to make Eula feel's super cute!

In my classroom we needed a new narrative writing prompt and it was born from this story.  Prompt: One day I woke up and I was a square.  Or for my few students who still prefer to write in Spanish: Un dia me desperte y tenia la forma de un cuadrado.  (I don't know how to do accents on blogger.)  Students has to think of two bad things that happened to them because they were a square and one good thing about being a square.  You can imagine the ending for 90% of my students - it was all a dream!  Either way they had a good time writing this, and they had to get creative.  

After that did a craftivity...we made ourselves with square heads, bodies, hands, legs, etc.  I'll be honest, I really don't think most of my class is gifted in the one artist was out sick, so I can't show off the one super amazing one...even mine was lame.

Still the kids had a good time making themselves as squares.  These are posted in our doorway, and look very cute!  I had forgotten to take my real camera so the picture quality isn't as good since the pics are taken with my camera phone, but you'll get the idea.  Take a look and if you would like to do this in your class head on over to my TpT store and get the 4-squares, patterns, final draft paper, etc., for free!  If you do, please leave feedback, it will make my day/week/blogging experience...  :)

Note, the peace silly band and attempt at high heels!  I swear this student oozes cuteness!
  This little boy really does have a bit of an Afro, hence his block of hair.  :)

So there you have our big writing project of the week.  

Time for some spring cleaning, it's a desperate situation...the cats are shedding out of hair tumbleweeds must be taken care of!

Have a wonderful weekend!
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Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Words Their Way, Shout Out and a Linky!

I wanted to share that another wonderful teacher is sharing her Words Their Way resources and is having a giveaway...check her out, she's done a lot with Words Their Way and I'm excited to hear more about how she runs it.  Check out Tammy's blog, 1...2...3...Teach With Me.  

As I mentioned before Words Their Way offers a wonderful easy way to differentiate word work and spelling. The spelling inventory provides a wealth of data you can present to your RTI team...I've used it and it's powerful data!

At the beginning of the year I had 4 different Words Their Way (*which from here on out will be called WTW).  I had a long vowel, blends, short vowel, and digraphs group.  Since reassessing in the winter it became clear that my students were struggling with vowels - this isn't hard to belive.  English vowels are the WORST for Spanish speakers.  Honestly, they seem so random after learning Spanish.  With Spanish what you see is what you get, and English is more into sending mixed messages.

Here are some magnetic pocket charts that I use in my classroom.  Unfortunately, I didn't take a picture of them with a sort, but you get the idea.  When I had 4 groups, students knew their group color and would know on Monday we would do the sort together as an introduction and we'd sort it in their pocket chart.  This was a great way to sort together and a reference for them.

Since giving the reassessing my students I have 2 groups - a short vowel and long vowel group.  The problem is WTW zooms through short vowels assuming the student is a native English speaker.  For my students the few weeks spent on short vowels was not enough.  So, I was lucky to discuss this with a colleague who happened to have a wonderful book...All Sorts of Sorts.  This book provides sooooo many sorts to supplement WTW.  This has been a lifesaver!  Currently, I'm using All Sorts of Sorts much more than the WTW books.  Check this book out if you find WTW zooming through a concept that your kids need more time on.

Ok, that's all for now on WTW.  

I also wanted to metnion a fellow bilingual teacher...Krista at The Second Grade Super Kids, is having a 50 followers giveaway!  You could win a Barnes  & Nobles gift card and a great superhero read aloud.  Check her out!  She has some great ideas to share!  

I'm also linking to a wonderful link party that is meant for K-2 teacher blogs.  Jeannie of Kindergarten Lifestyle has hosted this linky so that primary teachers can find each other.  She'll be creating a Pinterest board so that it will be easy to find primary blogs!  What a great idea!

Head over if you're a primary blog and want to participate!

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Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Spelling with Words Their Way and a new student

I don't know how it's done in other districts but in my district it seems that spelling programs aren't dictated by district or school, but grade levels or teachers can choose their program.  Many teachers use the Harcourt spelling lists that accompany the week's studies.  This just doesn't meet the needs of my ELLs, so I was thrilled when working as resource teacher with a wonderful third grade team they piloted Words Their Way.  

Words Their Way is a spelling program that is based on the development of each student in terms of letter/word/pattern awareness.  I really love this program!  It provides automatic differntiation.  Students are all assessed and then grouped according to their performance.  The general assessment assesses their spelling of beginning and ending sounds, short vowels, blends, long vowel patterns, etc..

At the beginning of the year I looked all over the internet for Words Their Way resources.  I found one great website that helped with the general setup of the words their way materials and routine.  Check it out!  It suggested that each student have their own folder, notebook, envelope.  Here is what ours looks like:

Messy bin with folders that are color coded for groups
 Each folder has a number on it that corresponds to the numbers my students are assigned at the beginning of the year, this is more for me since the kids remember their color easily.
 Inside the folder is a notebook and envelope where keep their cut up words for their sort.
I should keep a crayon in here to for students to color the back of their sort before cutting it, this helps in case a student misplaces one of their words...happens way too often!
Here is an example of one of our weekly routines.  Students write the sort in their notebook and write sentences to go with their words.

Here is a look at our routine (on a good week)
Monday: Introduce new sort, cut and practice.
Tuesday: Sort and write in notebook (see above)
Wednesday: Blind sort - work with partner and one partner says words while the other without seeing the words identifies which category the word belongs in.
Thursday: Students work in groups of 2-3.  Students take turns choosing a word and saying the word in a sentence of at least 5 words.  This is great practice for my ELLs to use the words in context and they get super excited when they can say sentences of more than 5 words.
Friday: Practice with partner before taking the test.

In my next posts I'll share more about homework, supplemental resources and tools.  If your team is thinking about using Words Their Way, I highly recommend it!!!!

Onto other news...I've been sooooo lucky this year because my class has not changed once since we started the school year.  No students left and no students moved in.  This is unheard of in our school, but somehow I got lucky!  Our first grade bilingual teacher has had more move-ins and move outs ever, it's OUT OF CONTROL!  But Monday marked the end of my change-free year.  

My new student is straight from Mexico and speaks NO English.  This is a good challenge for me, because I know this won't be the last time I find myself in this situation.  However, it is a challenge because all of my students are English dominant at this point in the year and we're really working hard so they'll be confident English readers and writers.  My new student needs very intense ESL instruction, he needs basic English vocabulary that my other students have already mastered.  

So, I'm looking for a solution.  He will be in an English classroom next year so I need to get him ready.  I think I'll have him on Rosetta Stone, taking home Reading A-Z books in English and Spanish, buddying up with someone, and I'm going to investigate the Words Their Way ESL component as well.  

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Saturday, March 10, 2012

Grumpy Cat, writing activities and a quote

This week was another whirlwind and I hardly got a chance to post anything!  I wanted to take a moment and share a couple things we've been doing this week.

BUT first, my younger cousin came to visit our classroom yesterday.  She volunteered for one week during our summer school program so about half of my students already knew her.  Which means she's become famous in my classroom.  When my students came in and saw her there, all of my students began whispering..."Jackie, it's Jackie"...if you watched the show Lost it was sort of like when they would whisper "the others", it was really cute.  So needless to say they were thrilled that she came to visit again.

The cutest moment was when one of my students asked her where she was staying, and she responds, with Mrs. Castro...they looked at each other like, they couldn't believe it...his next question was the cutest though..."do you know Max and Ellie?!", he asked in a whisper.  When she responded that yes she knew them and in fact they pestered her all night, she moved up into the super hero category for some of my students...

I told you Max and Ellie are famous in my classroom.

Here are our Grumpy Cat writing projects.  I got this idea on anther blog, as usual.  We found it at Mrs. T's First Grade Class...  Looking back at her blog, hers are amazingly well done...ours are a bit more...interpretive, or avant-garde.  We buddied up with the bilingual 1st graders to do this.  The kids love buddying up!  Second graders feel like big kids for beings so knowledgeable, and the first graders are excited to work with the bigger kids.  They all loved the Grumpy Cat story and could make great connections...we all have grumpy moment, right?!

This was a good experience for me too, because I got the chance to get to know the kids who are coming up to me next year.  It's a big group, and a bit infamous.  But getting a chance to work with them made me less intimidated by this group.  

We also spent a some time doing the super cute St. Patrick's day freebie you can find at The Teacher Wife. The kids really enjoyed this project and I needed something to make my room at least slightly in tune with the season.  They turned out very nice.

Also, I switched out a bulletin board.  I'm not a big bulletin board changer-upper, so this is kind of a big deal.  I originally made this a soccer bulletin board, painted the field on the paper and everything!  (Very proud of myself!)  BUT I've run out of room on my classroom walls and bulletin boards so I had to use this one outside of my classroom to display more student work.
Original board:

New bulletin board displaying a writing project that took us forever to get finish.  Sometimes I struggle to work up the fortitude needed to finish these larger writing projects.  But we finally got to it.
The students wrote about what they want to be when they grow up and why.  They then created collages representing what they wanted to be.  This was my first collage experience and HOLY MOLY was it stressful.  Students didn't really have strategy for spelling out their selected vocation....which means they'd look through an entire magazine for a "P" and then start all over to look for an "O"...

Note to self, next time teach collage strategies before doing this!!!!

They did turn out quite cute.  Her are a couple examples:

 Police Officer
Mesero  - Waiter...this is one of my kids who isn't ready to begin writing in English.  

That's it for today.  I want to post soon about the spelling program I've been using - Words Their Way.  I'm so happy with this program and how it provides automatic differentiation and a deeper understanding of where my students lie in terms of English development.

Quote of the day:
Is that the movie with whats-her-name?  Yes.
The one who's in whatch-ma-call-it?  Yes.

My sister speaks my language.
Cheers,Mrs. Castro

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