Monday, July 14, 2014

Student Reflection Turn-In Bins for Monday Made-It

I've spent the last few days foraging through Pinterest in hopes to find some unique ways to help my classroom to become more organized and for my students to become more self-reflective, independent, and accountable for their learning.

One of the amazing pins I stumbled across was from A Classy Collaboration's blog.  Ciera mentions the struggle of knowing (while grading papers at home) whether or not students did not try their hardest, or truly didn't understand the concepts taught.  It is important to provide students with opportunities to reflect upon their work before turning it in.

I really liked her "reflection station" and wanted to create one of my own.  So, here are my Student Reflection Turn-In Bins and Poster.

Want a copy for yourself?  Snag a free copy here in my Teachers Pay Teachers Store.

Check out all the other creative projects on Tara's blog 4th Grade Frolics.

Happy Monday!

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Reading in the Wild - Chapter 2

Today I'm linking up with Catherine, The Brown Bag Teacher, for her Reading in the Wild book study.

This week's focus is chapter 2.

Chapter 2 emphasizes that we need to improve student ability to self-select books with positive reading experiences and frequent opportunities to preview, share, and discuss books.

On a side note, the adorable tiger clip above is from the creative Krista Wallden.

We can improve student ability to self-select books through . . .

1 - Read Alouds

Last summer, our principal sent out post-cards for each teacher to fill out with a message about what they read over the summer.  The post-cards were hung in the hallway for the first day of school.  Students were eager to see which read alouds their teacher selected.

I like to start each school year by having students share their favorite read alouds.  This helps me begin to gauge student reading interests and abilities right on day one.

Throughout the school year we invite mystery readers to pop-in to our classroom.  We've had other teachers, parents, and community members volunteer to read aloud to students.

A few years ago I kept a timeline of books that we read.  I posted a picture of the cover page of each book read so that we could easily refer back to them throughout the school year.  Although time consuming, it served as an amazing resource throughout the school year.

2 - Creating Book Buzz

I order many books through Scholastic's Book Order with bonus points.  Many students do not order their own personal books.  However, they are still eager for our book order to arrive knowing that there will be new books for our class included.  Book raffles were mentioned in chapter 2.  I think this is a great idea.  I often have more than one student who would like to read one of our new books, this would be a fun way to organize it.

On our last day of school we had a book exchange.  Students brought in used, age-appropriate books, that they no longer wanted and we lined them up throughout the classroom.  I provided students with bags and a few  new Scholastic books to start with and then they lined up and browsed all the titles.  When they found books they liked they filled their bags.  This served as a great way to build up their summer reading collection and to spark their interest to read.

3 - Reflecting on Reading Choices

It is important throughout the school year to pause and find time to conference with students about their book selections.  No time?  Try out a survey or self-reflection worksheet.  I like to meet with students 1:1 during independent reading.  I have 2 students that I plan to meet with individually each day before I start pulling small groups for guided reading.

4 - Creating Preview Stacks

Often students struggle to find a good book on their own.  This is when it is a good time to create preview stacks. These are stacks of a variety of books that you think the student might enjoy based on information you have gathered about him or her through surveys, reflection sheets, conferences, or your own observations.  Students borrow this stack and look through each book in hopes to find a keeper.

5 - Keeping Track of Your Reading Life

This is definitely one area I hope to improve.  I always start the year off strong with book graphs and logs.  Then, as the school year speeds up and free time seems to disappear, we start to ease up a little on the paperwork that follows our independent reading.  I hope to find a way to better track reading without adding on any extra tedious paperwork.

6 - Engaging Classroom Libraries

Here is an old photograph of my classroom library.

Our classroom library holds over 2,000 books.  The books are organized by genre and guided reading level.  I store books in plastic shoe boxes that I got for $1 at Walmart.  They have held up very well over the years and I haven't had to replace any yet.

I have students browse the classroom library in the morning when they arrive.  Students store the books they are currently reading in book bins.  They can store 2-3 books in their book bin at a time.

How do you promote self-selection of reading material in your classroom?

Check out all the other posts about chapter 2 and link up with your ideas.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Stitch Fix Review 1 - July 2014

I received my 1st Fix today . . . Stitch Fix that is.  I loved the experience of receiving my own personalized Fix so much that I wanted to share it with you.  Stitch Fix did not ask me to review their product, I just wanted to pass the experience along to you!

Have you heard of Stitch Fix?  Stitch Fix is an fabulous fashion retail company that assigns you a personal stylist who handpicks you a "Fix" of 5 clothing items and accessories (based on your style profile) and delivers them right to your front door.  Each Fix is customized to your unique taste, budget, and lifestyle.

You are not obligated to purchase anything, shipping is FREE, and the initial $20 you pay when you schedule your first fix is deducted from the price of any items you purchase.

No time to shop?  No problem!  Schedule your Fix and 5 amazing pieces, picked just for you, will arrive at your door for you to try on in the convenience of your own home. 

My box arrived beautifully wrapped and I had a personalized letter addressed to me from my new personal stylist.  Here is the letter I received from the magnificent Megumi.  I love how she mentioned specifics from my Pinterest page and my style profile!

When I scheduled my Fix I mentioned the following:
  1. I want fun, yet conservative and comfortable outfits that I can wear to school since I am a 4th grade teacher.
  2. I do not wear high heels or earrings....sorry!
  3. I would love dresses or skirts but they need to have pockets so that I can keep my continuous glucose monitor close since I have Type 1 Diabetes.

Here is what I got:

Al Linen Wide Leg Pants by Sanctuary - $128

I absolutely LOVE these pants.  The fabric is extremely comfortable and the pockets are nice and deep.  The drawstring is perfect in case I finally loose a few more pounds of post-baby weight.  Just tie it tight and you'll be alright.  I want to keep these very badly.  However, they are about 4 inches too long and I only wear flats.  I tried them on with a pair of my old high school bulky heels just to check the length and they were still dragging on the floor.  If I kept these I would definitely have to hem them shorter and I'm just not willing to do that for the price.  I would love to purchase a pair of these exact same pants....only shorter!

Final verdict - Sent back!

Ivy Crochet Back Tab-Sleeve Blouse by Market and Spruce - $68

My initial thought upon pulling this little gem out of the box was, "Wow, this shade of turquoise is amazing and the details on the back are very unique."  The color definitely pops and my pale skin looks much better with a little (or a lot) of color.  The back of the shirt has a floral, see-through pattern so you definitely have to wear a tank top under this shirt.  I love the 3/4 sleeves, even though they don't stay up very well.  I could unbutton the sleeves and wear this as a long sleeve shirt.  The fabric on the front of the shirt is a little too sheer and was not very forgiving of my post-baby belly.  Maybe after I complete the Insanity Workout Challenge it will look a little better.  It is definitely my style.  What do you think?

Final Verdict - Still undecided!

Aleah V-Neck Solid Doman Sleeve Shirt from Pomelo - $48

I loved the fit of this shirt.  It's baggy on top and then form fitting around my waist.  The sleeves are 3/4 length which is perfect for hiding my Omnipod Insulin Pump when I wear it on my arm.  The neckline was the perfect size and not too revealing.  My only issue is the color.  I wish that it was blue, green, or burgundy.  I'm just not digging the off-white.  Hello armpit stains....yuck!

Final verdict - Sent back!

Trixie Dot Print Pants by Sweet Rain - $28

I'm not going to lie, I giggled a little upon pulling these out of the box.  I've never seen a pair of pants quite like these.  The fabric reminded me of pajama pants.  They were comfy, however, I can't picture myself wearing these anywhere except to bed and I don't really care to be fashionable there.  My biggest problem was that they were tight around my ankles.  I like pants with wider legs or a little flare.

I don't know, maybe they aren't so bad....just not my style.

Final Verdict - Sent back!

Jeana 3/4 Sleeve Surplice Front Geo Dress by 41Hawthorn - $78

Ahhhh....I have saved my FAVORITE for last.  This is a pattern that I would never have picked out in the store.  It makes me dizzy just looking at it on the computer screen.  However, as soon as I tried it on it won my heart.

First off, it not only has a string around the waist, but it also has pockets.  That's right, a dress with pockets.  Finally a place to store my meter.
 Plus, with 3/4 sleeves and a fun, darker pattern how could I resist?

Final verdict - KEPT!!!

So, how did I do?  Do you agree with what I kept and with what I sent back?

Stitch Fix

Want to snag your own Stitch Fix?  Use my referral link here.  By going through this link you will help me feed my next Fix!

....and while you are at it, check out some other Stitch Fix Reviews at A Whimsicle Life.