A Little More of Chewandswallow {Severe Weather Alert!!!!}

Next week is our last week in our weather unit. I am a little sad! The kids have done an excellent job over the past few weeks and are now some pretty awesome meteorologist.

This week, we have been spending time observing and checking our weather tools. We have been recording our findings in our science journal each day. Fortunately {Praise the Lord} we have had quite  a bit of rain. It was so cute...on our first day of "true rain" and I mean it RAINED...the kids just knew that our rain gauge would be overflowing. The rain let up long enough for us to make a quick run for it and check on our gauge. Much to their surprise, we had only collected about an inch of rain. This was a great lesson for them and something that could only be taught through this experiment. Although it appeared that we had a tremendous amount of rain all around {what they thought would be inches and inches}, in each little area, we had only accumulated about an inch. Here they are checking out our rain gauge! 

Now, we are beginning to realize that our water is...wait for it...DISAPPEARING! Who tipped over our rain gauge?!? :) As we transition into learning about clouds, this has been a perfect time to observe evaporation at it's finest! 

While keeping a close eye on our weather tools, we have also been researching severe weather. After being assigned a "specialty area" which was located on their meteorlogist badge, the students spent several days researching in our school library and then summarized and recorded their findings. I had created topics that outlined the research that I wanted them to include. They recorded their information in the "research boxes." They were glued to the screen and I am pretty sure they could have sat there for hours! {That is in between running to me to share new findings!} 

After the research was ready to go, the students spent a day creating their group poster and preparing their "informational speech"! Here are some of the students hard at work. Is it just me or are they not the cutest things working together?!? Love moments like these!

  They began their presentations today and I forgot to take pictures of the finished posters {something to add to the "to do" list for Friday}. At the conclusion of each presentation, the audience worked on asking thick questions. I was amazed by their detailed responses. The students were so proud of all of their hard work.  Next week, we will be focusing on clouds and we will also be creating our very own class weather forecast...that will be GOING LIVE...for our classroom at least!!! :)

In other news...Can someone please explain why Disney's A Christmas Carol is on tonight!!!! WHAT?!?!?

Happy ALMOST Friday Everyone!!!  

Reader's Response and Think Clouds

We have been working up a storm in my second grade classroom to become more comprehensive thinkers as we read. Overall, my students are excellent readers. Their ability levels definitely keep me challenged to continue thinking of strategies and literature that takes them to a deeper level in their thought process and comprehension. My kiddos also LOVE to read...by this I mean they even ask if they can read at recess {What????}! I definitely want to keep all of those positive thoughts flowing for a VERY long time!

Last week, we began reading Mr. Popper's Penguins during our shared reading timeI am sad to say that up until this point, I have never actually read this book and/or seen the movie! Boy...was I missing out! My students have absolutely fallen head over heels for Captain Cook {the penguin} and the whole Popper family. This book is a scream...from the Poppers turning their refrigerator into the proper habitat for this tuxedo wearing creature to Captain Cook building his rookery from daily household objects!

Each day, I read a new chapter from Mr. Popper's Penguins. While reading, I have a student recording "important words" on sticky notes. These are words that we stop to discuss or words that our recorder thinks we may want to remember. This books has a wonderful selection of words to really build a student's vocabulary. After we read the chapter, we discuss our words and add them to our sweet little version of Captain Cook! This book has really been providing those "teachable moments" that we all know and love! We have learned all about prefixes, suffixes, dialogue, adverbs...and the list goes on! Have I mentioned...I LOVE this book????  

Each day, we dive into another chapter. I have almost decided to move shared reading to the very beginning of our day because my kids enter the door asking about our dear Popper family. After reading and some class discussion, each child responds to a writing prompt from the chapter.  Click on the cute little penguin below to take a look at those journal prompts.

 Each student has their own written response journal that they use when responding to prompts. I tried using their writing journals but everything began getting all jumbled up, so separate journals were the ticket.

I have been so impressed with the progress that the students have made in such a short time. They are now responding with two paragraphs for each prompt. {definitely something we had to work towards} One paragraph identifies details that happen from the story and one paragraph is used to make text-to-self connections with the events that occurred during that chapter. Not only has this improved my students comprehension skills but MY OH MY how their writing has improved all around! Again, the kids are just so into the story they can hardly wait to get into their journals. One of my boys who once despised writing is now writing up a storm. It's all about tapping into their interest!?! Right??? Right!

Prior to beginning this little unit of study, we really spent time exploring written response, reading examples and creating a rubric to identify the things that we thought we would need to include to have a powerful response. Here is what we came up with...
You can click here for an example Reader's Response Rubric from ReadWriteThink!

I just can't wait to find out what happens in this story! I may have to read ahead! :)

Random Alert:
On a little random note, I saw the amazing little invention of the "think clouds" on pinterest and had to create some to include some of the skills that we have been working on. {author's purpose, fix-up strategies, predicting, etc.} As the students independently read during guided reading groups, they can grab a think cloud when they would like to share a strategy that they used while reading. For example, if a student made a connection while reading, they would grab the "Make Connections" think cloud. After reading, I allow each student to quickly share the strategy that they used while reading. This really makes the discussion meaningful for each student. You can click on the picture below to download the think clouds if you would like! :)

Happy Wednesday Friends!


Just wanted to extend a big thank you to all of you who have left such sweet comments and those of you who have awarded my little ol' blog the Versatile Blogger Award! Stop by and check these sweet ladies out!

Mrs. Geary at Light a Candle

Amanda Plum over at PLUMDOODLES

Kristin at A Teeny Tiny Teacher

Jill at Marvelous Multiagers

Ms. Alley from Ms. Alley's Class

Hillary from Rockin' Teacher Materials

Victoria from The Wise and Witty Teacher

Thanks again ladies!

Keep an eye out for my next two units! I am FINALLY home this weekend {a.k.a. we do not have a cross country meet!!!!!} and can hopefully put the finishing touches on both of these fun little units for you!

Trick or Treat...Writing is Sweet
A pinch of science, a dash of projects, a handful of writings and a WHOLE LOT OF FUN! I love this time of year!

The Land of Chewandswallow {Weather Unit}
We are finishing up weather in the next two weeks. I want to make sure that I have everything included for you! We have had a blast learning about weather in second grade.

I hope that you are all having a great start to another fabulous week! Take a step back this week and remember how blessed you are to work everyday and change the lives of such precious children! Happy Tuesday! :)

Spooktacular Math Centers

Get ready…get set…for the easiest math centers you have ever laid your eyes on! Plus...the Halloween theme just adds that little fun factor! I am excited about these centers for three reasons:

1. There is little preparation invovled!
2. The students can complete the activities as many times as they want/need because each time they will be creating and manipulating new numbers!
3. These centers can last the entire month of October!
{What on earth will I do with all of my free time?!?}

As a teacher, I try very hard to create meaningful centers that require my students to apply new skills all while participating in fun and engaging activities. Independent centers are a great way to see a student’s application of skills.  Centers are GREAT! The preparation, however sends me right into fright! I love the thought of engaging math centers, but I do not love the thought of all of the preparation {even though they are so stinkin' adorable when you finish!!!} I had to find a way to have the best of both worlds. {the cuteness and the academics} Here is what I came up with...Spooktacular Halloween Math Centers! This unit includes 8 math centers that will have your students practicing basic skills such as addition, subtraction, place value and much more! The best part…the only preparation needed - cut out your students’ number cards {which could technically be cut by the students - depending on how type A you are} ;). I like to create the cards ahead of time, laminate them, and keep them from year to year! Seriously...that is all there is to it! The students use their cards for every center in this unit. In addition to all of that craziness, they can complete each activity as many times at the want/need because each time they will be creating new numbers! How much better can life get at the moment??? Ha! Sorry...I just love when I save myself time! Just in case all of my blabbering confused you...here is the prep. work one more time for all of you visual people! {Don't worry...I am one of you too!}

Here is a little glimpse of the eight centers included:

And the playing cards (large for teacher, small for students)

Annndd...a quick peek at a few of the response sheets.

Directions for each activity are located on the response sheets. During each activity, the students will be using their number cards to create and manipulate numbers. This means that the level of difficulty all depends on the student. They can create one, two, three or four digit numbers. Students can work in partners or independently to complete their centers. You can have 1-2 centers per week or introduce them all and allow students to choose which center they complete each day.These centers can easily last an entire month and are a great little change for the “spooky” month of October! I have added this little unit to my TPT store! You can stop by and pick it up as you wish!

Happy Fall Y'all! I am just lovin' this time of year!

A Little Math Pick Me Up

I generally enjoy teaching math {yes...I am secretively a math nerd}. I think it is just way too much when students explore and manipulate numbers and then have those huge Ah-ha moments! HOWEVER...and this is a BIG HOWEVER...there are two words that make my skin crawl {just a bit}! Dare I say it...problem solving! Why?!? Well...because that my friends requires some SERIOUS thinking!!!! Not that I mind thinking, but when you are trying to teach students how to think...sometimes things just get all jumbled up and I am about 99.9999% sure that my students are convinced that I am speaking Chinese...French... or some language other than their own! Maybe it is just me, but those baffled looks seem to say it all! Well...even though the job of teaching "strategies" to solve problems is a dangerous one...it MUST be done!

The other day, I was talking to one of my sweet teacher buddies {she taught second last year and has now moved to first...so basically we have switched positions...which means at this moment...she is my lifeline!} She shared a nice little strategy with me that she called P.S.A. She has been so gracious to allow me to share it with all of you!  The concept is oh so very simple and the kids are really loving it. Each letter stands for a step in the problem solving process: P = Identify the problem, S = Identify a strategy and solve, A = Answer and check. I loved the idea so I took it and ran as fast as I could back to my room to implement this ASAP! I was desperate...what can I say? Here is what I came up with!
A Problem Solving Bulletin Board
{That I reference a zillion times during math instruction}
I also added place value...the other deadly killer! :)

Annnnddd...a few keywords here and there!

If only that nice little bulletin board would solve all of the world's problems! Of course it has to be taken one little step further. Along with the zillion times that I reference and remind and reference and remind, my sweet friend also shared an idea that allows the students to apply their knowledge and really attack word problems.

I call them Work It Out Problem Solving Folders:
I glued the three strategies to a file folder. After laminating the folder for durability, I cut it into three sections. Now...watch how it all goes down!  It is all about the step by step!
P = problem
Read and identify important information and keywords! Highlight the problem and decide what the word problem is asking you to find.

S = Identify the strategy that you will use to solve the problem. Write an equation and solve!
A = Answer and Check!
During this addition problem, the students used rounding to check and get a "ballpark" figure! {Sorry there is no picture! My camera died on me right as I was about to finish! I will add one later! You get the idea!}

We have been working it out now for three weeks! Their improvement has been remarkable! This strategy truly makes problem solving concrete and gives them specific steps to follow during each problem. It also shows them how much thought it takes to solve these problems {which is not always easy for these little people to grasp...bless their hearts} :). This unit is up at my TPT store and you can check it all out HERE!

Here is a little preview: