.... from a small rural school in Elbert, Colorado.

A good teacher is surrounded by MANY great teachers! Thank you to the great teachers at my school and out in blogland!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Let the Third Grade Adventures Begin!

It's done! Students will be walking in tomorrow and beginning a year full of fun and learning. I'm getting excited now, but also a bit nervous with all the new changes this year. We are new to standards based 

learning and will have to post our objectives for the first year. We are not following text books but rather designing our own lessons. I'm beginning to use Whole Brain Teaching and therefore will be watching a few more videos today to prepare for teaching the class rules. I know this will be fun. 

Book boxes for Daily Five an Math Tool Boxes
 I just don't know how you all out in blog land keep up with everything.  I went missing for a couple weeks with school meetings and working on this room.  My goal will be to keep posting throughout the school year and to continue following all of the other wonderful blogs out there.  As I create new things I'll be sharing those too.  I just wanted everyone interested to see the final pictures.  I set up for 12 students and have 11 on my list so far. 
Math Station and clay drawers for Davis Learning Strategies
If you read an earlier post you know that I was worried about only having 6 - 8 students so 11 is great!  YEA!

Let the Third Grade Adventures begin!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Classroom Pictures, Freebie, and Award

Wow!  It has been a busy couple of weeks.  My room is almost done.  YEA!  I took a few pictures, but will have the final ones up on my next post.  I still need to finish some labels, bulletin boards, student desks, and my desk.  I am doing an Adventure/Travel theme.  Hopefully you can see that from the photos.

Do you see the liscense plates and suitcases hanging?
 Look at the cupboards and you can see my different colored circular labels.

My daughter made the hot-air balloon for me with extra fabric.
 The colored bins you see are for book boxes and math toolboxes. 

This is my beautiful library that my mom keeps organized with AR labels and pockets for check out.

This is to the left of my front door - my meeting area.  When I take this picture next time you
 will see my CAFE board and Math stations organization.

Front of the room (to the right of the door).  I am making a Math Power Pix board (blue) and
objectives chart (red).  I only have 10 students so I have extra room for the center table.

Grab it at TpT by clicking on the picture
I am giving away a Math Station organization using the letters - MATH for 1. math facts, 2. at your seat, 3. teacher's choice, and 4. hands on.   I got the idea from pinterest of course which you can find here.  (  I just wanted something small and simple so I will use mine in a pocket chart and move the names next to the letter of where they begin that day.  Then they will rotate.  (I'll take some pictures of this on Friday and put it on my next post).

Grab labels at TpT by clicking on the picture
I also made different colored circular labels for my cupboards, different stations, and math tubs that I'll put for free in my TpT store that can be edited for your use, if you'd like them.  There are big ones and little ones for tubs.  (There is one picture above but I'll add some more pictures on my next post).

Oh, One more thing.  I was awarded "The Versatile Blogger" award.  Thank you to "The Bender Bunch". 

The rules of the award are:1. Thank the blogger that nominated you and link to their blog.
2. Include the award image in your post.
3. Give 7 random facts about yourself.
4. Pass the award on to 15 other bloggers & include a link to their blog.
5. Let bloggers know they have been nominated.

Here are 7 random facts about me: 
1. I LOVE God, my family, my country house, and my job.
2. I have a handsome husband and 2 beautiful daughters.
3. I do not like to cook.
4. I have 3 German Shepherds with 1 more on the way (next week - YEA!)
5.  I want to adopt more children.
6. I love living in the country with the closest store being 25 min. away.
7. I was born in Minnesota, but lived in Wisconsin, California, and Colorado.
I'll be stalking lots of blogs on the newbie blog hop looking for my favorites to pass the award on to, over the next week.  So fun!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Newbie Blog Hop

Grade Three is the Place for Me!

 Janis at "Third Grade is the Place for Me" started this great blog hop for people like me that are new to blogging.  What a great idea.

 The only rules are to tell a little about yourself and then add your blog to the list. Easy enough, I can do that. Here are the prompts:

1. what state you are in
2. your current teaching position
3. your teaching experience
4. when you started blogging
5. share a blogging tip / blogging resource
#1 I am in Colorado.
#2 I am teaching third grade for my 7th year.
#3 I have been teaching for 21 years now in K-3rd grades.
#4 I started blogging in May, 2012.
#5 Give things away on your blog, don't just tell about what you are doing.

Now I'll be busy checking out all the new blogs.  I'll have some pictures of my new classroom soon with some freebies.  I've been working on all of our new curriculum and setting up my room with Whole Brain Teaching.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Curriculum Maps and a Freebie

Okay - I know I've been gone for awhile. Since my last post; my youngest daughter turned 15 (party time), my husband turned ??? (another party), my oldest daughter had a 4th of July party for a bunch of teenagers, I celebrated my 21st wedding anniversary, I presold 6 puppies that I’m still cleaning up after every day, we bought an old garage in town that we are remodeling for our church, and on and on and on.  I think things are slowing down a bit now.

Our school adopted a curriculum map, and is converting to standard based instruction.  All of us are asked to use the textbooks as a resource only and to find resources online and elsewhere to create curriculum to match the maps.  This has been a challenge to say the least.  I’ve been working on it for 3 weeks now and have not even completed the 2 weeks that we will be in school in August. 

Adapted from WBT - Chris Biffle

 I’m including, as a freebie, one ELA standard (CCSS:RF3.4.a or CAS:2.3.b.i *- "Read grade level text with purpose and understanding") I’ve completed so far to give you an idea of what it looks like and maybe even for you to use. I will be using "The Daily Five" and "Whole Brain Teaching" this year so I'm aligning everything to these models as you will see if you download it through TpT You can click on "freebie", "TpT" or the pictures to download it.  I’m really hoping to find someone else out there who is or has had to do the same thing. I’ve found lots of ideas in blog-land and pinterest and the internet but I’m nowhere close to being ready for the new year to begin.  I can’t take a month to plan for a month.  I really need to get this figured out, so if anyone has any ideas please share.  I need help.  Thanks!

*CAS = Colorado academic standards
CCSS = Common core state standards

Monday, July 2, 2012

Thank You!

I am so excited!  I just received the "One Lovely Blog Award" from Mrs. Wilson's 4th Graders Are on the Road to Success.  Thank you!

Once you receive the award, you have to pass it on to others! Here are the 3 rules to follow:
1. Follow the person who gave you the award.
2. Link back to the person who gave you the award.
3. Pass the award on to 15 new bloggers.

Now I'm in search of 15 new bloggers that don't yet have this great award. This might take me a little while so I'll add to it as I go.  Here they are:


Third Grade Theatrics

Mrs. Ward's Teaching Journal

The best thing is I found some new friends and followed a bunch more blogs.  YEA!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

I'm Celebrating!

I'm celebrating with a freebie from my TpT store.  On June 6th I said that I would pick someone to get my 15 day read aloud study - "The World According to Humphrey" free when I reach 15 followers.  Well today is the day!  YEA!  I finally have 15 followers and I decided that instead of 1, I would pick all 15.  My product is free for a short time just for you (or anyone else that decides to download it).  Just click on one of the pictures or "TpT" above and that will take you to it.  I am working on lesson plans for quite a few read alouds right now including: "The Cricket in Times Square" (almost done), "Sarah Plain and Tall", "How to Eat Fried Worms", and "The Secret School." My favorite part of these lesson plans is the legal size vocabulary books with vocabulary written in context.  I feel like I can do so much more with my read alouds when I'm prepared.  These plans will help me know exactly what words are coming up and give me a way to use the words throughout the year.  I also love the character studies.  My students love being involved when I'm reading and these give them the opportunity to really pay attention to details.  With preplanning there are also some fun activities thrown in that will engage my students and create a love for reading.  Of course I haven't left out the standards.  Anyway, thanks for hanging out with me in blogland for the past month.  I'm so excited to be on this journey with all of you amazing teachers.

Friday, June 22, 2012

A Little Late to the Party!

Okay - so I'm a little late. I missed "The Daily Five" book study yesterday and today's almost over, too. I read at least 20 different blogs and lots of questions and now here I am. I decided that I would just share a few personal thoughts, since I agree with all the thinking out there on the importance of community, trust, etc. and you don't need to hear it again.

I have been using "The Daily Five" for 3 years now and plan on using it for the rest of my teaching career, no matter what grade I'm in. I love it! I'll tell you why, just commenting on chapter 2, so as not to get ahead here. There is nothing like building STAMINA in your students. It is empowering. They love it and feel like they can take on the world. For most of them they didn't think they could do it without us (teachers), but if you do it like the book says later on, you'll see, it works. Don't go faster than the book says, even though you're going to want to. (I know from experience but it pays off to listen to “the sisters”).  STAYING OUT OF THE WAY is the right way to do it. They don't need us if they have stamina and therefore we can do some real teaching with those that need it. BUILDING A SENSE OF URGENCY gives the students the reasons they need for why. This really helps those challenging students because they always need to know - why. Of course CHOICE is motivating and the whole structure leads to choice, not just letting the students choose when they do each “daily”. I've done it both ways (because I had to with aides) and choice is still ingrained in the program. Teachers don't create cute little centers but let the students do real reading and writing. Therefore it doesn't matter how many students choose to do what at what time. In fact, as you'll see in the book, the choice in what daily to do at what time doesn't even come into effect until a couple months through. Also it still works if you can only do four and call it "Daily Four." I like to read aloud picture and chapter books throughout the year teaching vocabulary and therefore don't do "listening to reading" since I only have time for four 35 minute sessions. I do a 10 minute mini lesson, 20 minute "daily" - reading to self, writing, word work, or reading to someone, with 5 minutes to stretch and share. All of this leads to TRUST. It just works. The students feel more grown-up and they love it. So - keep it simple - it's as easy as it sounds!  Keep reading because it will all make sense soon.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Whole Brain Teaching???

I probably haven’t been this excited about something new since “The Daily Five,” 3 years ago.  What do you know about “Whole Brain Teaching?”   I follow Third Grade Thoughts and have learned just enough to make me interested.  Last night I downloaded all kinds of FREE e-books and can’t wait to get started.  I watched some videos a week or two ago and I can’t believe I haven’t heard about this before.  What do you think?  Do any of you use “Whole Brain Teaching” in your classrooms?  I’m not so sure about the “scoreboard” but I love “class, yes,” “teach, okay,” and the Power Pix.  I even think the class rules are pretty cool.  With the new way our school district/state is going with standards led rather than text-book led classrooms, I can see this as such a benefit.  We are supposed to do LOTS and LOTS of mini lessons followed by “Demonstrations of Learning” in our district.  We even have all of our curriculum maps that tell us the most important learning objectives to teach.  I can see how “Whole Brain Teaching” will help me get to the necessary learning quickly and in a FUN way. 

Just in case you are new to "Whole Brain Teaching" I included a couple videos from Youtube but there are many more.  I just typed in Chris Biffle and found so many that I'll be busy for awhile.
You can sign up for free like I did at  Once you become a member you can download lots of resources.  The best part is - it's free.  They have one requirement.  If you use something in your classroom, you will need to email 10 other educators about the program to spread the word.  Isn't that easy.  I'll be sending my emails out soon, because I'm sure I'll be using it.  My whole school will know about it soon. 

Friday, June 15, 2012

Giveaways - YEA!

There are some great giveaways out in blog land today. 
All teachers love Amazon or Target.  Go visit Tori at Tori's Teacher Tips.  She is a great 2nd grade teacher with fun ideas.

Visit 4th Grade Frolics for a fun birthday party with lots of prizes.  There are so many prizes that I can't list them all here.  Tara has hooked up with lots of her blogging friends to help with the party.  Let's celebrate!!!

Fun in Room 4B
Elizabeth over at Fun in Room 4B is also giving away a Target or Amazon card because of her 400 followers.  You'll find great ideas while visiting there.

Jackie over at 3rd Grade's a Charm has a few more that you can enter if you're interested.  Have a fun day and hopefully one of us wins the prizes. 

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Daily Five Linky Party

Okay - I couldn't resist!  I love The Daily Five so I might as well join in on the fun.   I've read the book at least 3 times already and used "The Daily Five" structure for the past 3 years.  Each year I do it a little different to make it work with my schedule and class, and already have some changes in mind for this year. I can't say that I've done it perfectly, but I keep trying.  I'll be sharing some of my challenges and things that have worked along the way, and I'll also be checking in on all of the other blogs in hopes to learn a lot during this study.  I am excited and looking forward to a great upcoming year doing "The Daily Five."

 The following are a few questions that are going around blogger land so I'll add my answers to them as well, therefore keeping focused on chapter one.

1. On pages 4-6, the authors present two different pictures of their classrooms. In thinking about and reflecting on your own practice, how would you characterize your literacy block? Does it look more like the first or second scenario, or is it somewhere in between? How will you change it?

Since I've been doing "The Daily Five" for the past few years in third grade my literacy block looks more like the second.  My students are doing authentic reading and writing activities very independently.  I work with students one-on-one the whole time without interruptions.  It's great - it truly works. 

 2. The typical teacher is very busy having students do lots of different activities. How is what you are having students do now in your classroom creating quality readers and writers?

I don't create reading and writing games or activities and my students still LOVE IT! They love that they can do what they love - read and write - like a big kid, without all of the busy work.  My mini lessons give the students a challenge to work on and they are up for it.  It might just be a new reading strategy or the next thing to work on in their writing, but they give it a try and can't wait to share it.  I love that I don't have to grade busy work, but can teach my students what they need in their reading and writing.  This is the perfect structure for differentiation since I work with them one-on-one, the students are always working at their level.  Therefore, they feel successful and continue to grow.  I see huge, noticeable growth in reading and writing throughout the year.

3. What sets the Daily 5 structure apart from what you are doing in your classroom?

It's definitely different from what I used to do. I used to have interruptions and now I have NONE!  It's true.  I followed the book to a T - at the beginning of the year - building stamina just a few minutes at a time.  The students all know what is expected and love it.  They can get their work done and feel successful. 

Visit Teaching with Style and Seusstastic Classroom Inspirations and from there you can go all over blog land.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

What Are Your Favorite Read-aloud Stories?

Do your students love read-aloud stories like mine do?  I actually remember being in 4th grade and story time was my favorite.  I fell in love with authors like Beverly Cleary and Judy Bloom.  Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing and Henry and Beezus will never be forgotten.  I became a reader that year.  I was hooked, reading every book in the series.  After that I haven’t been without a book.  I love them.
I have done many read-aloud books in third grade over the past 6 years.  Among my favorites are Magic Tree House, Little House on the Prairie, Charlotte’s Web, A-Z Mysteries, The Mouse and the Motorcycle, The Secret School, Beezus and Ramona, How to Eat Fried Worms, and The World According to Humphrey.  My students remind me of myself when I was little.  They are getting hooked every year and I’m so excited.
You can get a copy of this Word Doc free at TpT
Our school also has “Accelerated Reading” which has been a great success.  The students can choose any book in their range and test on it.  I love doing independent reading this way.  I work with the students one-on-one and the proof of their comprehension is in their AR tests.  I teach the Daily Five’s “picking a good-fit book” and from that and the AR range the students do pretty well on every book.  Once in awhile I have to discuss with a kiddo that a book may need to be abandoned for the time being.  My students fill out a reading log in class daily and meet with me according to their needs.  Some students meet with every day and others once or twice a week.  I keep a chart documenting every monthly STAR (Accelerated Reading) test result along with “Scantron” test results and notes taken on the reading logs.  I move students up and down on the chart every week based on who needs to read with me the most on the top to those students that can work more independently on the bottom. This year it worked perfectly since I did it every week and was able to catch those students that were getting hung up on something.  The growth in reading was amazing.

This summer I am creating lesson plans for every one of my read-aloud books, since we have to have everything aligned to the Colorado standards (which include the CCSS).  I just finished my first one on “The World According to Humphrey” which will be my first read-aloud.  I’m very excited and can’t wait to read it to the class.  I’m looking forward to all of the vocabulary work, character posters, and fun activities.  My students will have no problem remembering this story – probably for life.  Anyway, it is for sale in my TpT store if you want to check it out.  You can download the free preview (8 pages and 4 different days) and see what you think.
I’m also hoping to get more followers.  I have 5 now – THANKS!  As soon as I get to 15 I’ll pick someone randomly to receive a free copy of the lesson plan.  YEA!  Please leave me a comment on your favorite read-aloud book while you’re here.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Another Giveaway - YEA!

Head on over to "Thoughts of a Third Grade Teacher" to check out her great site and enter a drawing for a Learning Resources recorder called the HearAll Assessment Recorder.

Friday, June 1, 2012

No Monkey Business

Go visit a third grade teacher at No Monkey Business.  She is giving away 10 free items from her TpT store to 2 lucky winners.  She has great ideas, too.

Do You Have a Class Pet?

If you do … you have to read the book, “The World According to Humphrey” by Betty Birney.  I heard about it last year and since I have class pets I thought it would be a great read-aloud. It was a hit. My students talked about this hamster named Humphrey all year. 

The book became a class favorite quickly.  It is about a hamster, named Humphrey, which lives in a room 26 and has many adventures in the classroom and on his weekend trips to the students’ houses.  He gets into some trouble and is worried about the teacher, but everyone who spends some time with him is changed.  Since my students loved it the librarian ordered the whole series for the library and a few parents and grandparents ordered them for Christmas presents. 

 “The World According to Humphrey” will be my first read-aloud this coming school year because I plan on doing it before bringing in our class rats and guppies. 

I am working on lesson plans for it in my daily read-aloud time including extensions for my gifted students using other books in the series. There are 7 books in the Humphrey series with a couple more coming this summer.  The books are between the Accelerated reading levels 4.0- 4.4, which is perfect for my above average readers.  In "The World According to Humphrey" plan  I will include vocabulary study, geography, role-play, creative writing, research, and more.  I also plan on including some hands-on work with our own class pets. The author’s website,, is great and I plan on leading students there, too. 

Please let me know if you have class pets and how you handle them in your classroom.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

My Blog's 1 Week Anniversary

I wanted to share a couple of my favorite ORGANIZATION ideas. 
#1  I learned something 6 years ago - my first year in 3rd grade.  If you don't have it in writing, the students will forget every single day what to do when they get there in the morning, and you will have to repeat yourself for 180 days or so.  And of course, you couldn't just say it once, because everyone isn't ready to hear it at the same time.  Over and over again I had to repeat it, "Did you turn your folder in?, Did you do attendance?, Did you count your money?"  After that year and much thinking I came up with the MORNING BOARD and AFTERNOON BOARD.  These boards say exactly what to do and are put up when needed and then taken down, so they don't take up prominent space in the classroom.  Better than that, each step is numbered, and now when a kid seems lost, I just ask, "What number are you on?"  That redirects them and I'm free to deal with all the notes, homework, attendance, helping to count money, etc.  After about a month of school when a student doesn't use the board and therefore skips something, he/she is charged 10 cents (classroom money - see below).  If a student leaves the room at the end of the day and I can see that something was missed like "afternoon job" or "putting up chair", I write on the board - "You owe me 10 cents."

 I just use poster boards and write what needs to be done each morning and afternoon.  I decorate them to match our theme.

I couldn't live without these!  They're perfect for a sub day, too.  The students know where they are and hook them on the wall and take them down when they're not needed.  I no longer have to write everything down for the sub or show up to school, sick, in order to write it all down on the board for the students to follow. 

#2 I use MONEY.  Third graders need lots of practice with money all year and this is a great way to do it.  I have a classroom store.  I use a lot of Beth's ideas so check out her website at but I'm going to tell you a few of my own.  The Spanish teacher at our school gave me a tin can full of foreign coins that are out of circulation.  (You could surely use anything from marbles to metal washers). They are all different sizes and weights, so they are fun for the students to earn in their tin pails.  I have a little pail on each group of tables or some years each student's desk.  They earn these coins, that make a great "tinging noise" when dropped in their pail, for answering questions, working hard, or whatever else I can think of to encourage others to follow.  At the end of the day, the students count the coins by ones (they are not American money so we have a good talk at the beginning of the year that their exchange value is 1 cent) and come to me for a sticky note receipt (one per table group).   I always have the group earn the money together to work on collaborative learning, even if they have separate pails they dump them together to count.  I have also determined I would never take a coin out of their pails since they are working as a group.  If a student does need to pay money for bad behavior or whatever, he/she takes it from his/her personal money - play money in his wallet.
 "Counting coins in your pails" is written on the AFTERNOON board so I don't have to remind them everyday.  They do it quickly and easily, usually even grabbing the sticky note pad and pen for me.  I use to have them exchange it for class money (plastic play money) at the bank immediately after, but have found that it works better to have them go to the bank in the morning because of time, when they are doing their exchanges and counting the class money in their wallets anyway. 
In the morning the students count their 3rd grade class money (play money) in their plastic bags and record it everyday on a checkbook register.  (Most banks will happily give out old checkbooks for schools - mine came from Air Academy Federal Credit Union).  The students love it because they feel really grown-up.  Since every kiddo has a checkbook, my students even do deposits, so they can write checks at our class store.  I make a rule about how much they have to have before depositing (usually $1.00) or some students would do it everyday.  I record it on the deposit record in their book and then on the last page in my record book so it is safe (like a real bank I say).  We have lots of economy lessons so this doesn't all happen the first day of school.  However, beginning day one, they do get their tin pails and coins dropped in.  Day two they get their checkbooks and plastic bag (wallet).  They learn how to go to the bank with their receipt and then count their plastic money and record it.  We go very slow and take lots of time for the first two weeks, but after that it is easy for most of them.  I do go around and sign next to the date on the checkbook register after checking that the money in their wallets matches what they've written down and that it is written correctly.  Later in the year I only do it a couple of times a week, just to make sure everyone is on target (an no stealing).  Of course there are kids that will have to be checked or helped everyday, but that's okay because learning is happening.

Hopefully you can use an idea or two.  Let me know.  I'll have more to come.