Sunday, February 24, 2013

Summer in the City Book Tour

Click HERE for a complete list of tour dates

I’m so excited to tell you about a new picture book, Summer  In the City by Kathleen Wainwright. But first I want to give you a little background on the author Kathleen. Kathleen is my blogging buddy. We started our blogs around the same time, and we hit it off immediately.  I consider her a dear friend, and I’m so honored to be asked to host one of the stops on the Virtual Book Tour. She is an amazing person with many accomplishments including being a National Board Certified teacher. I’m so proud of her latest accomplishment as a children’s book author.
Now to the book review. Summer in the City is a captivating picture book based on author Kathleen Wainwright’s childhood growing up in the city. She brings back memories of a simpler time before Wiis and IPhones. A time when kids had to invent their own entertainment. Kids and adults alike will be able to make text to self connections with this beloved picture book. The teaching possibilities for this book are endless.  Check out the book trailer. and I know you will fall in love with this book, just as I did.
You will recognize the name of the illustrator, Nancy Devard. She is the illustrator of the Coretta Scott King award winning book, The Secret Olivia Told.  Summer in the City is one of the most beautifully illustrated books I’ve seen in a long time. The illustrations will take your breath away.
There are two ways to purchase this book, and personally I want both. First, the hardback version which includes a pair of jacks and jump rope, when purchased directly from her site. Or the e-book version from TpT which includes a Teacher’s Reading Companion and Comprehension Kit. 
Kathleen is making it so easy for teachers to incorporate this book into their lesson plans.  And just for my readers she has made this great Bio Poem freebie. As a teacher herself, she knows what a teacher wants!
She is generously donating 10 copies of her book in a giveaway. To enter you need to like  the SITC Facebook page. You don’t want to miss out on this giveaway!
Kathleen is going to be Skyping with my class in a few weeks. I’m SO excited! My students don’t get many opportunities to meet real authors. If you order a minimum of 12 paperbacks, you too can have a free Skype visit with your class! Just visit her contact page to request information. 

Tomorrow Rachel Reyna will be sharing a reading comprehension resource that she designed for Summer in the City. This is a test prep resource that can be used all year round.

Be sure to enter the giveaway for your chance to win!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Kathleen Wainwright is a dedicated teacher in the School District of Philadelphia. She received her bachelor’s of Science degree in education from Temple University in Philadelphia, PA, and her master’s in education with a focus in literacy, from West Chester University, in West Chester, PA. Kathleen also teaches literacy courses to aspiring teachers at Temple University and developmental reading courses to incoming freshman at Delaware County Community College. “This story captures a typical summer’s day for me and my friends growing up in the 80’s! Every time I read it I travel back to some of my favorite childhood memories.” Kathleen recently earned National Board Certification in Literacy: Reading-Language Arts (Early and Middle Childhood). She enjoys sharing her personal teaching experiences and educational resources in her blog, The Diary of a Not So Wimpy Teacher (

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Teaching Figurative Language with Commercials

I don't think advertisement creators know what a blessing they are to teachers. I love the La Quinta and  GEICO commercials. This commercials are PERFECT for teaching figurative language. I've created a freebie for you to go along with the commercials. The Kicking Butt and Taking Note's commercial is not included in my printable because I teach 4th grade, and  the Boss Man would not let me use that one in the classroom. If you teach older students, use it as a model for how to complete the printable. I know the kids would find it hilarious. 

This is how I would use these in the classroom.
Day 1: Idioms
1. Discuss what an idiom is.
2. Write an example on the board. (Draw picture of the literal and write the actual meaning like in the printable.)
3. Show the commercials and have students complete the printable.
4. Go over the answers to the printable.

Day 2: Similes
1. Discuss what makes a smile.
2. Show several GEICO Happier Than commercials. (Will need to change it to Happy As)
3. Assign the Happy As Commercial Challenge
4. Let students share their commercials.
Don't have access to YouTube at school??? NO PROBLEM!!! Drum roll please...... The wonderful amazing Nicole from Teaching With Style has a fantastic tutorial for saving YouTube videos to your flashdrive. Click HERE for the tutorial and be sure to follow that gal because she has some great techie tips for you, and this one is super easy. Thanks Nicole! . I know your students are going to love these figurative language lessons! If your students need more help with figurative language, check out my Writing Aerobics a Yearlong Spiraling Figurative Language Writing Program. Boy, that's a mouth full, but this little gem will have your students begging for figurative language practice. It takes less than 5 minutes a day, and I play a game with it. The kids love it! Ive been using this for more than 5 years in my classroom, and it really works. If you want to grab a copy from my store, just click on the picture.
Let me know what your favorite lesson is for teaching figurative language! Good luck creating magic in your classroom!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Geometry Magic!

My Fraction Fest was such a success, I decided to have a Geometry Fest, too. The had a great time going through each of the stations. All the hands-on activities were aligned to Common Core Standards. A couple were a review of  3rd grade CCS, but the rest were 4th grade CCS. There are only three geometry standards for 4th grade and this packet has an activity for each of them.

Here are some more pictures of the Fest. The boys loved playing Vocabulary Football. They created some great Symmetry Super Heroes, too. If you'd like to check out the product, you can click HERE.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Don't Let Them Push Your Buttons

Let's face it, most teachers have one thing that just pushes their button. Personally, pencils are it for me. A student not having a pencil or needing to sharpen a pencil in the middle of my lesson drives me a little crazy. A student has to have a sharpened pencil, so what's a teacher to do? My solution was a classroom economy.  I've used many different types of classroom economies over the years. All of them were great but some a little too complicated to maintain.I couldn't juggle the ones that required me to write out checks, cash them, and deduct taxes. Don't get me wrong, if you can do all that, I applaud you. I just personally can't do it. I've finally created the perfect classroom economy for the busy teacher and one that will eliminate the button pushing. Drum roll please..... Introducing the Easy Classroom Economy! (Click on the picture for your free copy)  I give the students $10 every Friday afternoon. Every Wednesday I charge $5 for desk rent. If a student doesn't have enough money to pay for their rent, they have to do math facts sheets instead of participating in extra recess. (I love having this extra 15 minutes a week for motivating students, but I know many teachers wouldn't be allowed to give an extra recess. You could use their regular recess time instead. Another option is to have learning games time as the extra "recess".) On Friday afternoons, before I pass out the money for the next week, I open my store for students to spend their money. I have three baskets with small toys and cards with things like chew gum in class, homework coupon, free time on the computer,  etc. The baskets are priced at $5, $15, and $25. Very simple and easy to maintain.
The best part of the system is that I use it as my behavior plan, too. I have a list of Fines and Fees that students must use their economy bucks on. This is where you stop letting them push your buttons. I made a list of all the things that drive me crazy and put a fine to the offense. My students are allowed to freely sharpen their pencil before 8:15 a.m. but after that it's going to cost them a $1. Just like magic, no one EVER asks to sharpen their pencil anymore. Really!!! Rarely do I have to supply a child with a pencil either because they now cost $2. No name on paper.......$1. Repeating directions.....$1.  Going to the bathroom outside of bathroom breaks...........$1. Whining.......$2. Tattling for the pure pleasure of getting another student in trouble..........$2. Having a happy non-stressed out teacher...........Priceless!
Homework has its own separate reward and consequence. The one I use is very similar to the one Laura Candler recently blogged about.  It's a great post that you must check out. Click HERE to read it.
The bottom line is I try not take a student's misbehavior or missing assignments personally. I charge them economy bucks for misbehavior and put them in study hall for missing assignments. Of course, there will be students that are not motivated by either of these methods, but it will work for most students. I'd love to hear what works for you in your classroom.