Monday, August 20, 2012

It’s Monday What Are You Reading?

I’m linking up for the first time with a great reading linky, It’s Monday What Are You Reading, hosted by Shelia at Book Journey and Jen and Kellee at Teach Mentor Texts.

The reason I decided to move from 2nd to 5th was ultimately decided by books.  As I thought about how big 5th graders are compared to 2nd graders…and all the attitude they might bring in their bigger selves…I suddenly had an epiphany…with bigger bodies comes bigger reading skills – well maybe that’s not a hard fast rule, but in elementary school I think it makes sense!

Reading...essentially my favorite sport!  Don’t get me wrong some of my little second graders were great readers.  But no matter what kind of reader you are as a second grader, well…you’re no fifth grader.  So, my love of reading and desire to teach rich literature at a higher level I accepted the position! 

I’ve since checked out about 40+ books from the library.  I’ve always read a lot of YA literature.  But, I haven’t been keeping up.  Plus, a lot of the YA literature I read is geared more towards high school or middle school readers…so I’ve been reading.
Here are some pictures of this – you can’t read all the titles but you can get a sense of “she’s compulsively checking books out of the library…and may not be in complete control”.


I try to get the same amount of books in English and in Spanish because I will need to make sure to read and provide my students with equal opportunities to read authentic literature in both languages – no easy task my friends!

Here is what I’ve officially read or am reading most recently:
Igniting a Passion for Reading: Successful Strategies for Building Lifetime Readers Que Locura Por La Lectura / Wild About Books
Shipwreck (Island, #1)FrindleInside Out & Back Again
The Immortal Rules (Blood of Eden, #1)The Dreamer

1.  Steven Layne’s “Igniting a Passion for Reading”.  This is not a book I will be reading to my students, rather it’s a professional development read.  I am halfway through and am convinced Steven Layne and I are teaching soul mates.  Everything he says or recommends I’ve either done in one – but less purposefully, or have contemplated.  One thing he recommends is for teachers to focus their “personal for pleasure” reading on books that fit the age group they are teaching.  I haven’t been doing very good at this…so teacher vow: “I solemnly swear to read MOSTLY YA lit this year” (except for during my commute when I listen to books).  I highly recommend this book if you are looking for ideas for reading or are looking to be inspired! 

2.  Judy Sierra’s “Que locura por la lectura” which also comes in English “Crazy About Reading”.  This is a book that is great for almost any grade level.  It’s well written and clever.  Older kids will appreciate they lyricism and wit of the text.  I’m looking forward to using this to set the tone in my classroom – Reading is AMAZING!

3.  Gordon Zorman’s “The Island”.  This was my first read by this prolific author.  It was a little slow to start but I’m a sucker for anything that is a series!  I love following characters indefinitely.  I think this will be a great read for 5th graders – they will have to “freshen up” on their nautical vocabulary though!

4. Andrew Clements’ Frindle.  I LOVED this book.  The characters were all likable and the school setting didn’t feel contrived at completely out of touch the way some do.  This is another read I hope to share with my students this year.

5.  Thanhha Lai’s “Inside Out & Back Again”.  I’m about a quarter through this book.  This is an interesting read about a young girl in Vietnam during the Vietnam War.  It is written from her perspective in verse.  This isn’t a book I would normally pick up, as I prefer prose, but it is well done.  I’m amazed at how much of her spirit, wit and will come through this writing style – more so than in your average novel!

6.  Julie Kagawa’s “The Immortal Rules”.  The first in a trilogy – which means it leaves the reader desperate for the second book.  Typical!  After Twilight I haven’t really read any vampire books, but this one was more “The Passage” meets “Hunger Games”.  I enjoyed it, and found the writing to be well done and the characters interesting.  I’m curious to see how the story continues.  I do not think I’ll be sharing this one with my fifth graders.  :)

7.  Pam Muñoz Ryan’s “The Dreamer”.  I’m actually reading the Spanish version “El soñador”.  A good friend of mine did not enjoy the English version, but so far I’m enjoying the Spanish version.  This story is about Pablo Neruda a famous Chilean poet.  I’m only part way through but is following him through his childhood.  The books is written in a mixture of prose, verse and stream of consciousness all from Neruda’s p.o.v.  I do not know that this would be a great read aloud as a whole, but there are many brilliant sections with beautiful language for teaching visualizations, sensory language and figurative language.  Also, if you ever want a peek into the mind of someone who is brilliant/incredibly easily distracted this book does it! Anything by Pam Muñoz Ryan is bound to be good in my opinion.

Do you have any recommendations for 5th grade?  I’m making near daily library trips, so recommendations are BIENVENIDOS!

Come “friend” me on Goodreads if you’re a YA reader too!
my read shelf:
Laura's book recommendations, liked quotes, book clubs, book trivia, book lists (read shelf)
Happy Reading!
Mrs. Castro Pin It

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Sneak-a-Peek Linky Party

I've been a terrible blogger lately.  Between summer school, changing jobs and going on vacation I haven’t been responding to emails or comments lately.  I will do better…starting NOW!
While on vacation I made sure to head over to a café for some internet action – since our little cabin was internet free.  Oh boy, I didn’t realize just how addicted I was to constant internet connection.  It was like detoxing, it wasn't pretty!

BUT, I was able to buy some things…I wish I had been more prepared and put intermediate things in my wish list!  Live and learn!

1.  Natalie from What the Teacher Wants had this amazing set!  I need all the help I can get since I’m coming from primary.  I’m so glad to have something to help me stay aware of the common core!

2. Kristen from The Ladybug’s Teacher Files cursive alphabet!  The one that was in my classroom was ancient and awful in every way!  This will be great…I just have to figure out where to print it.  Any suggestions for what you do for color printing?

3.  I teach math in Spanish.  But I wanted something to help me keep track of data, and expectations in the 5th grade.  So I purchased Jennifer Findley from Teaching to Inspire in 5th’s Math Common Core Assessments and Data Collection.  I’m sure I’ll be doing some translating, but that’s the life of a dual language teacher!  After a brief perusal I’m really impressed!

4.  Tracee Orman’s Creative Activities & Project Ideas for Any Book.  I thought this looked interesting, and it’s from Tracee Orman who is the queen of upper grades on TpT.  Again a lot of translating will be needed, but I think it’s a great guide!

5.  I’m not sure if I’ll be able to use this or not.  But since I love words and love to see how they are all related I thought this was pretty AMAZING!  Plus, there are so many of the cognates between English and Spanish stem from these root words so I think I’ll find away to use this.  This came from Stephanie at Teaching in Room 6.

7.  Also from Stephanie at Teaching in Room 6 is this calendar math for the upper grades.  Remember how I teach math in Spanish…well I know I’ll need to translate and tweak this for my classroom, but she had such a cool system that I had to get this!  You can see more about her upper grades calendar math at her blog post by clicking HERE.

8.  So this was an impulse buy.  I did not do the guided math book study and I don’t know if I’ll be ready for guided math this year because I’m:
*Changing grades
*Changing curriculums (Houghton Mifflin to Everyday Math)
*Channing instructional languages
But I know guided math is the way to go!  So I got this kit by Clutterfree Classroom, to help set it up…again, I’ll have to translate it and tweak it but how could I not get it!?

So those are my purchases for this big sale.  I’m excited to start using them…but next time I’ll be more prepared!

Mrs. Castro

P.S. New blog look coming soon! Pin It

Monday, August 13, 2012

Monday Made it #3 For Me!

Project #1:

This Monday Made It, is rather disappointing.  I had hoped to make my own vinyl.  I found a blog on Pinterest that explained how to make homemade vinyl.
I thought, “that sounds AMAZING!”  I keep looking at all these different vinyl stores online, but can’t make up my mind.  I’m not a great decision maker when it comes to these sorts of things, and I just flip from shop to shop and never buy a thing.  If I could make my own vinyl, having chosen the paper and colors in person– well that would solve my problems!
So I tried it.  It wasn’t easy.  Contact paper is a difficult medium!  I don’t have enough hands to keep it flat…seriously I was using my chin at one point.  But eventually I was able to sort of work it out, and I anxiously awaited 12 pieces of homemade vinyl.

Well…as the cardstock dried…it became very loosely stuck to the contact paper.  Should I have used more mod podge?  Something heavier?  I put a heavy binder on them as they dried. 

Then, when I tried using my Silhouette on them, it failed.  The letters were cut but the cardstock separated from the contact paper.  Needless to say I’m disappointed and back to square 1 when it comes to vinyl.

Project #2:

I still was able to make my Bienvenidos Banner using my cameo.  I just used a touch of hot glue to attach the letters instead of homemade vinyl. The Silhouette cut the pennants (including circles for ribbon) and the letters.  It was super easy!

I chose my color scheme with Kristen’s flipped signs in mind…I love everything she does, so this seemed like a safe plan.


Project #3:

This week I also made these fun duct tape flower pens.  (Once I have vinyl I want to add some grass to the tin).  I also need to add a bit of foam to the bottom of my recycled Tazo Tea tins, because they are too deep for everything I make.  I was thinking they could be some sort of incentive for the kids – after so many pieces of bling you get to use the flower pen…I could have sold that with second graders, but I’m thinking fifth graders won’t buy into it…they’re still cute though!
I used this tutorial that I found on Pinterest. 

It was really easy to follow.  I felt like my fingerprints had been ripped off after so much duct tape use, but apparently not since they scanned properly for my background check for my new employer.

Project #4:

I also had ordered these posters from Vistaprint, and had the dry mounted at Hobby Lobby.  They were too flimsy and I was afraid they would get destroyed in my classroom.  The dry mounting cost $9.00 a piece, but if you consider I got them for free at the clearance sale, I think it’s a good deal!

Krista @ The Second Grade Super Kids made something earlier this summer with the quote from Gandhi – and I loved her idea!  Be the change you want to se in the world.  These will look great in my classroom and are perfect for dual language!

Find more great ideas at 4th Grade Frolics:

That’s it for this week! 
Happy creating!
Mrs. Castro Pin It

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Back to School Sale

No doubt you’re all thinking about the beginning of the school year and adding things to your TpT wishlist like a madwoman!  (I can’t be the only one!)

I’m happy to announce that I’m here to help!  My entire store will be on sale August 12-13th (Sunday and Monday).  You can get up to 28% off all my products.  AMAZING!

Every product will be on 20% off.  Make sure to use the coupon code - BTS12 to get an extra 10%off!

BTS 12 250x125

Here are some of the things you can find and wishlist until the sale!

Back to school packets
sale for blog1

You can also find my Splat packets which come in English only and bilingual forms
Splat Writing Craftivity - Bilingual CoverSplish Splash Splat - English - CoverSplish Splash Splat - Bilingual

You’ll find other items there too!  Click the green sign (green means go... so go!)
green TPT.png
I know I have a bunch of things on my wish list I’ll be purchasing.
Happy back to school shopping!  

Mrs. Castro Pin It

Friday, August 10, 2012

Blogging changes lives…really!

Blogging has changed my life.  Literally.  And in a BIG way!  I’m excited to share some news with you.  I am making a change…well, lots of changes really.

*I’m changing districts.
*I’m changing grade.
*I’m changing program model.

Here’s the info…since I started to blog, I almost immediately started following the blog of a 2nd grade dual language teacher.  I bet you follow her blog too!  Krista @ The Second Grade Super Kids.  Well it was exciting when I realized she was practically a neighbor of mine, and is also from the Chicago area.
We were able to meet during the summer and…

#1 – she’s amazing!
#2 – she’s inspiring! 

After talking with Krista I found myself wishing more than anything that I was part of a dual language program.  For those of you in the bilingual education know – I was teaching in a transitional program.  But dual language was calling my name!

So, I decided to see if the perfect position would present itself.  I wouldn’t change for anything but the perfect position!  I had such a wonderful teammate, and support system at my school.  These were the people who helped me figure out how to teach!  It’s hard to leave them behind and venture into the unknown!

BUT, the perfect position did present itself as a 5th grade dual language position.  Even better, I’m going to be working at a school with a staff that believes in dual language and has an established methodology and vision.  (EXCITING!)  To top it all off, I’ll be working at the same school as Krista.  She’s no longer just a bloggy friend, she’s a colleague and a friend. 

So from bilingual 2nd grade to 5th grade dual language I go!

See!  Blogging changes lives!  There is no doubt if I hadn’t started blogging I wouldn’t have been on the path that led me to this opportunity. 

Here are some pics of my new classroom as I found it:
from the doorwayfrom the back cornerfrom the back wallfrom opposite wall
from my deskfrom my desk1
from the front
All these pics mean I’m linking up to Miss Nelson’s linky – Before & After!   Isn't that a good idea.  I've always loved before & after pics...and as a teacher nothing beats classroom before & afters!

Today I had to empty out my old classroom.  I think today might have been the second day in the ENTIRE summer that it actually rained, and all day!  BUT after a few trips I was able to move all of my things to my garage.  You’ll remember I spent a lot of time this summer organizing my classroom library – well all those books and fancy labels are in my garage until further notice. 

Remember my back to school packets?  I thought I was being smart, creating a product and getting myself set for the beginning of the school year.  Well, feedback has been great, I’m really proud of them and was looking forward to using one in my classroom…but all that’s out the window too now!  Fifth grade teachers how do you start the school year?!

It’s worth it though!  I’m excited to read real literature with my 5th graders.  I’ve already picked up these book from the library and have 12 more on hold!  Can you tell I’m excited about reading some “real” books!!?!  I’m so looking forward to the conversations my students and I will share in Spanish and English! (HUGE GRIN!)
What this all really means though, is that my blog is going to have to change its look again!  I have to think of a clever name…any suggestions? 

Any tips for 5th grade?  I will take all tips and advice!  Behavior management suggestions?  Does the clip chart work?  Incentives for 5th graders.  I’m not sure bling will be as tempting as it was for my little guys. 

Last thing in this l-o-n-g post.  This Saturday is my husband's and my 5th anniversary!  CRAZY!  We’ll be going on vacation to northern Minnesota (exciting, I know!) for a week – just in time for me to be freaking out about not being in my classroom…but I’m going to try and keep it together and remember that no matter how much preparing I do, I’ll feel unprepared on the first day of school this year…at least I’ll keep telling myself that.

Mrs. Castro Pin It

Monday, August 6, 2012

Product Swap–Product Review–FINALLY!

When I first signed up to be a part of the product swap hosted by Jessica Stanford at Mrs. Stanford's class, I wasn’t really sure what to expect.  I’m so glad I decided to participate though!  I was matched with the lovely, Lori Wolfe.  I couldn’t have been more lucky!  Lori has tons of experience teaching ELLs and has already created so many products – published products.  As it turned out I actually already owned one of her math books! 

I’ve been working on improving my math work stations, so I chose Lori’s “Place Value with 2 Digit Numbers – Math Games and Lesson Plans”.  (Lori generously sent me her 3 Digit Numbers pack as well!) 
These packs sell for $5.95 and includes 5 different place value games.   DUAL AND BILINGUAL TEACHERS this is available in Spanish too!!!
 Valor Posicional Con Numeros de 2 Digitos-Math Games & Le
These packs come in black and white.  I LOVE this!  I personally don’t own a colored printer.  The colored printer at work is notoriously out of ink and this is the sort of resource I would rather color code myself with different paper than have colored graphics.  Here you can see how Lori has hers in fun colors:

Here you can see I color coded my games.  Each game is a different color – makes it so easy to keep all the pieces separate!  Unfortunately the colors I chose are semi-similar and it’s hard to tell.  I have a teal, light blue, turquoise and purple. 

I also used my handy-dandy Scotch laminator to make sure these games really lasted!  Everything turned out so sturdy and EXPO marker friendly! I’ve even laminated the recording sheets – that way they can be reused again and again!

There are two things that really impressed me about this product…

1.  The layout.  The directions are very easy to follow.  I was absent when they taught “following directions” and “reading for detail” at school…so I usually struggle putting things together, and there are lots of wasted paper and mistakes.  BUT, this product is laid out in such a way that I had no problems putting the games together.  Everything is concise and labeled!  I put them together in no time!  See...easy to read set up!

2.  The games are simple and yet incredibly meaningful!  I do not expect it to be difficult to teach these games to my students.  And yet, the games will challenge the students to develop place value strategies in order to beat their partner.

1s & 10s Greatest Number.  
3 players.

Students each have a 2 digit place value game board.
Students draw a number and must place the card in either the ones or tens place.  Their goal is to get the greatest number.  Students must come up with a strategy for determining when to place a number in the ones vs. tens…how will they determine it?
The learning is extended as the students then have to write the numbers on the recording sheet from greatest to least.  COOL RIGHT!?

Odd or Even? 
2+ players
I played this by myself to make sure I could explain it.  This is a challenging game if you wan to win!  Each student has a 2 digit place value game board.  Each student draws a number and must decide to place it in the tens or ones place – the goal is make the largest ODD number.  So not only do students need to understand even and odd, they must also determine how to make the biggest number possible. 
Students record the results on a sheet to see who gets the most “greatest odd numbers”.

3 In A Row - 2+ players
This game is great because it adds a twist.  Students must be the first to fill their board.  BUT, the number cards are labeled with tens or ones…so when a student draws a card they must put it in the right place value slot.

Go Fish Even – uses the same materials but students try to fill their boards with even numbers ONLY.  I like that this is interactive because my students will be forced to talk and use math language!

Lori also has a place value game that uses base 10 block cards!

I anticipate this packet becoming an essential resource for place value in my work station rotations.  They are simple, straight-forward, easy to assemble but pack an instructional punch!  I know my students will have fun playing these games and won’t even realize how much they are learning and reinforcing their learning while they play!  Isn’t that what we’re always looking for as teacher?  A way to make learning engaging and meaningful!  Lori has managed! 

Lori’s TpT store is FULL of amazing products for regular ed. teachers and bilingual teachers.  She has products in English and Spanish.  AND she has products across the content areas – Language Arts, Math, and more.  Check it out here:
Welcome to the ESL ELD blog!
Here is the link to Lori’s blog!
ELL blog
Lori has a FB account too!

I feel very fortunate to have been matched to Lori Wolfe.  Check out all of her wonderful products and ideas!

Mrs. Castro Pin It