January 31, 2016

Discovering the Main Idea and Details

One of the biggest struggles across our 3rd grade classrooms this year is 3.RI.1.2 or Common Core Standard RI.3.2- Determining the Main Idea and Retelling key details found in the text. Knowing this is a big struggle, our team decided to start here with our reteaching. I went straight to work, looking for the best ways to bring in main idea and details while keeping the students engaged and increase their mastery of this standard. Here is a look at the last several days in our classroom, becoming Main Idea Masters....

Introduction/Review- What is Main Idea?

I used a small paragraph about new puppies to model how to find the main idea. First, I have my students identify and box the topic: What is a word or phrase that sums up what we just read? In our case it was PUPPIES. Then, I have them think about a few things. What information is presented? Why did the author write this? What's the point? The so what about our topic. We then take that information and write a sentence about what we just read. If we write a good main idea sentence, we should be able to chose almost any detail in the text to support it. However, we talk about the difference between details and KEY supporting details (We use the ever popular table analogy because it works so well). Details are the legs that hold up the table top- main idea. You want to make sure your details are strong and supportive, other wise your table might not be able to hold weight that you put on it.

Students worked in small groups with short paragraphs to practice what I just modeled. They loved getting to use our anchor chart paper to record their thinking. Above is a photo from a small group identifying the topic, main idea, and a key supporting detail. 

Continuing Practice: Practice Makes Perfect 

Over the next several days we read stories from our Journey's book (Young Thomas Edison) and Read Works' passages to continue practicing identifying the main idea and details. We learned all sorts of new tricks. Some of my struggling readers have difficulties nailing down the topic and main idea, so we use highlighters and look for repeated words or phrases and examine text features. Other strategies we learned were jotting down summarizing notes after sections in a longer passage or text. 

Of course we created anchor charts! I loved this tool from The Applicious Teacher. This interactive anchor chart freebie is a great resource. We used it throughout the week and just removed the post it notes when we were ready for the next one. 

After we finished Young Thomas Edison, students worked with their partner of the week to create a main idea web that identifies not only the main idea but also three key details that they feel best support the main idea. Partners then traded their main idea webs and critiqued each other's work. They used the "I noticed and I wondered.." strategy. Its important for students to learn from each other. This is a great way to make it happen! 

Integrating Technology

Lastly, we used computer time and small group to continue to weave in our main idea practice. In honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day this month, students read a Read Work's passage and used Poplet (a SERIOUSLY wonderful app) to create main idea and detail webs. This is the third time we have used these in my classroom and my students LOVE them! They are a great and engaging way for students to create thinking maps about their reading or learning. 

I am happy to say that we took our 3.RI.1.2 (Main Idea and Details) assessment on Friday and 94% of my students passed with an 80% or above! My proud teacher heart couldn't have been happier as I was grading and saw all their annotations and strategies on their tests! Success

January 23, 2016

Five for Friday

Another wonderful week over here in Florida. Weather has finally cooled down and I am loving it! This week was also our 1st week in the 3rd Quarter- which means the year is officially over half way done! So I'm linking up with Doodle Bugs Teaching for another Five for Friday!

Many of you already know that my husband is also a teacher. Life in our house is crazy busy all the time. Especially since until recently we were both also full time graduate students. So for Christmas I gave hubby the coolest gift, a year full (1 per month) of dates. Time together is the best present! Well hilariously enough, he was feeling the same way because he did the same thing for me. He planned out 6 wonderful dates that we can go on throughout the year to spend more time together. So 2016 is going to be full of amazing experiences for us! Anyways.... Our first date was something we were both really excited about. It's called a Do Good Date Night. It's something recently started by Orlando Date Night Guide. The first part of your date is volunteering and the second is fun and food. Our event was perfect for our teaching sides because we were sorting books to be given to at risk youth and then we played (and DOMINATED) trivia! It was nice to give back, meet some great people, and the cherry on top was a gift card for $50 for restaurants in the area. So another date night!!!! 


Can't have a post with out these two! They are The Elementary Journey mascots! Due to the colder and rainier weather, there sad faces have been extra mopey and cuddly this week. I don't mind the cuddly part! They came into the classroom with me during teacher workday to help me get some office organization and filing done. 


My husband, besides being a teacher, is also a kick ass furniture builder. Seriously though, he has some mad carpentry skills! He built my table and bench for me and it's finally done and it he house. I LOVE it.... {OBSESSED} Of course it didn't stay cleaned off and pretty for long, it took about 4 hours before it was covered in teaching and planning materials! 

We kicked off the 3rd quarter reviewing main idea and key details. Check back tomorrow for a post on how we mastered this standard this week in 3rd grade! 

The Brown Bag Teacher blogger Catherine Reed shared a post a few weeks ago on a quick and awesome reflection tool she uses at the end of the day. To ensure students were starting off the 2nd half of the year ready to rock and roll (and to combat all the crazy from indoor recess and PE) we tried it out and it was great! Click here to read more

January 9, 2016

Five for Friday

Linking up again today with Five for Friday to share all about what's happening this week in 3rd grade and in my crazy life....

My kiddos came back from break ready to rock and roll this week! Which is good because we had a hard topic to tackle in math... Fractions on number lines YIKES! I came prepared with awesome activities for centers and extra hands on practice for small group... and guess what? They did GREAT! 

This awesome free printable came from Mr. Elementary Math! Check it out here!

These kiddos are loving number line bingo from Blair Turner. Check them out here

On Thursday I gave a presentation to fellow teachers and leadership, all about how we make learning fun in my classroom. The picture is horrible but it was awesome. Great to keep building these experiences to make sure I'm ready! #literacycoachinthemaking 

Given it's also a new year. I have been part of a 21 day fix group trying to make healthier choices. Oh goodness is it tough! But thanks to my new Michigan cup, water is a breeze. #GoBLUE 

Going back after breaks = leaving my boys = SUPER HARD 
No joke. Really hard. For everyone involved. 
But lots of extra morning and evening snuggles help ease the pain (even if only a little)

Now that I no longer have masters work and teaching to focus on at the same time.... I am loving all the extra time I get to spend with my husband. I am so grateful that I had the chance to pursue my dreams and accomplish a higher degree.... but boy was it exhausting. And it really did take a lot from my own personal life and marriage! 

Here's to another successful week in a wonderful new year! 

January 2, 2016

Plans & Goals for 2016

Linking up with Schroeder's Shenanigans & Lucky Little Learners for #2getherwearebetter to share my huge plans and goals for 2016

My #onelittlewordfor2016 is READY coming from this wonderful quote I stumbled upon a few weeks ago that really resounded with me...

"If we wait until we are ready, we'll be waiting for the rest of our lives." - Lemony Snicket -

Since graduating and starting my teaching career in 2011 I have lived my life waiting... waiting to live.... waiting to be happy.... waiting to be awesome. No more waiting, I am READY! So here is how my #olw2016 will apply to my personal life and teaching career. 

After many years bouncing around schools and grade levels (due to several different life circumstances and situations) I am absolutely LOVING 3rd grade. Like {giant puffy heart} love what I teach each and every day. I am READY to step up my game and give 110% to my students and beyond excited at the thought of being a permanent 3rd grade teacher. 
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I have been given different tasks and roles that will help shape new and struggling teachers and I am READY to be an amazing mentor and give these teachers whatever I need to get them moving. Over the past few days I have been reading Ron Clark's Move Your Bus and am so pleased with how much that book has really opened my eyes already. 
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Now that my masters is out of the picture, I am READY to really dive into creating my brand name (not that one exists yet :) ) and focus a little more on my blogging, building relationships with amazing blogging teachers, and creating more products for TPT and my classroom. 
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Professional development and life shaping experiences are on my list for 2016. I am finally READY to stop letting my anxiety and excuses stop me. I want to step into RCA and experience all that it has to offer. I want to go to vegas instead of pouring through instagram photos and periscopes wishing I was there. I am READY

I have less on my plate this year thanks to graduation a few weeks ago. I am READY to give my health- physical and mental/emotional- the time and attention it deserves. The husband and I have planned date nights throughout the year that pull us out of our comfort zone. We will be volunteering, skeet shooting, and parasailing to name a few. I am also READY to get back on the health bandwagon I was thrown off of when I decided to be a full time teacher and student. 
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After a long journey, the husband and I are also ready to put down roots. Excuses are done, we are finally going to follow our hearts to somewhere we have always wanted to be and couldn't be more excited. We have loved our time in Florida and it has shaped us greatly, but I will always love my home in Michigan. And these last couple years have been a wonderful adventure. But this is the year for finally settling down. Possibly buying a house? Maybe starting a family? We have big plans, and we shall see what happens. Either way- I'm READY! 

Stop by and link up... share your plans and goals for 2016. Happy New Year! 

January 1, 2016

The First Five for Friday of 2016!

Linking up with Doodle Bugs Teaching for my very first 5 for Friday post for 2016! It's been a wonderful few weeks filled with family fun. I am rested, relaxed, and ready to take the new year by storm.

First of all Merry Christmas! We had a wonderful holiday with my family at home in Michigan. We did our usual christmas cookies, ugly sweater pictures, and Chinese dinner. We are all very blessed and it was hard to leave to come back. 

December 19th I FINALLY graduated! I now have a Masters in Reading Instruction, and I am one step closer to becoming a literacy coach. It was such a wonderful feeling to finally submit that last assignment, and walk across the stage! My husband also has his masters now, in Elementary Education Curriculum and Instruction. 

My youngest sister and her boyfriend came back with us to enjoy the second half of break in the Florida sunshine. I couldn't be happier! We have been enjoying living the Florida life the last few days. Yesterday we ended 2015 going paddle boarding with manatees at a beautiful spring on the gulf. Such a wonderful experience! 

I received Ron Clark's book Move Your Bus for Christmas and was so excited! I have already started reading it and LOVE IT!!!! So far this is one of my favorite quotes...

"It is okay to allow yourself to make a mistake. Give yourself permission to forgive yourself and move on. You can't run with a mistake on your heart. Let it go." 

I'm not sure where this is originally from. It's only the image on Pinterest. But I have begun prepping and getting things ready for our return on Monday. I have another round of new teachers and instructional coaches coming in my room when we get back from break so I need to make sure I give them something awesome to take away!