Hello Everyone!  My students have been working hard on their How-to writing.  Today, I would like to share how some tools they used to organize their writing.

A Great Mentor Text and Free Organizers for How-to Writing

I introduced this unit the same way I introduce virtually everything - a great mentor text.  In this case, I used How to Babysit a Grandpa.

An awesome mentor text for How to writing

This book is so much fun to read aloud.  I love using it as a mentor text because it is full of specific details and examples.  Here is one of my favorite pages.

An awesome mentor text for How to writing!

After reading the book to students, I modeled how to brainstorm topics for their own How-to writing.  We completed the organizer below with our areas of expertise.

Pick up this free organizer for How to writing.

The next day, students brought their expert brainstorming sheet to the carpet.  I modeled how to select a topic and narrow it if needed.  I originally had "Taking care of a dog" on my expert sheet.  I explained to students how that was too broad.  I narrowed it down to how to feed a dog.

After narrowing my topic, I modeled how to use this graphic organizer to plan my writing.

This post has a free graphic organizer for How to writing.

After they saw me model the process, students highlighted the topic from their expert organizer that they thought would work best.  Then they got to work on planning their own How to writing.

We are now in the final stages of this writing project.  The organizer has been a great help during writing conferences throughout the process.  In the beginning, it helped students make sure they could choose an appropriate topic and identify steps.  Later, we referred to the organizer to talk about transitions and going step by step.  Next year, I plan on doing a little more modeling and conferencing with students prior to beginning drafts.  I think that will save me some time in the long run, especially with students who originally chose a topic that was too broad.

If you are interested in using these organizers for your own classroom, you can download the expert brainstorming sheet here and the planning graphic organizer here.

A Great Mentor Text and Free Organizers for How-to Writing

Thank you and have a great week!

There are so many great ways to keep notes, plans, and to do lists.  I have seen many versions of cute planners and teacher binders.  However, I am leaning more and more toward digital versions of these types of products.  For the past year or so, I was using Evernote to help organize notes from meetings, house projects, blog ideas, etc.  Recently, I received notice that Evernote would begin charging for use on more than two devices.  That was enough to make me search for an alternative.

Enter Google Keep.

Google Keep is a great way to take notes and stay organized!

I am finding Google Keep to be an excellent alternative to take and organize my notes.  Here are the reasons why I love it!

***It is free!  :)

*** You can use it on any electronic device.  There is no need to sign in as long as you are logged into your Chrome account.  Although I use it on my computer and iPad most often, I also have the app on my phone.  I love that when I use it from my computer, I can add several extensions as well. (More on these coming up.)

*** You can color code your notes and create custom categories for each color.  This is my favorite feature!  Once you add the Category Tabs extension, you can easily find your color coded notes.  (You can still color code and create categories without the extension, the codes just won't appear on the top navigation bar.) Here are my navigation bars.  ( I have two Google accounts work & personal.)

Learn how to easily color code and find notes using Google Keep.

*** You can add hashtags to connect notes across different categories and/or further organize notes within categories.  The hashtags will not appear on the top navigation bar, so it stays clean.  However, they will appear in alphabetical order along with your categories on the menu (sidebar).

*** You can save any website directly to keep.  Once you install the Chrome extension for Google Keep, you can easily save any website to the folder of your choice.   When you click on the small tag, you can select the category for your note.

Learn how to easily save sites and take notes using Google Keep.

*** It is extremely easy to use.  Taking notes, inserting pictures, organizing your notes, sharing, and setting reminders can all be done with a click or two.

*** You can easily switch from one account to another.  I have two Chrome log ins - one for work and one for personal.  I thought about having all of my notes in one place.  To reduce clutter, I went ahead and loaded Keep on both accounts.  I rarely use my work account at home, and I never use my personal account at work, so it should be fine.  To switch accounts on the iPad, you just have to go to the menu and select your other account.  

I love using Google Keep, and I intend to continue using it, but there are a few things I hope to see added in the near future.  When taking notes, it would be nice to be able to underline or use bold/italics. Surprisingly, there is no option for this.  Also, I wish I could add hyperlinks.  Although saving websites automatically gives me a link, sometimes it would be nice to add a hyperlink within a note.  Finally, an undo button would be nice.

I understand the Google Keep has evolved quite a bit since it's onset, so hopefully it will continue to do so!

Google Keep is an excellent alternative for taking notes.  Bonus:  It's free!

Thank you, and have a great week!

Today I'd like to share a fun Google Extension that I use all the time.  The extension is called, Scroll to Top.

Scroll to the Top allows you to easily move through any website.

I love this scrolling extension because it allows you to go directly to the top or bottom of any website.  You can can go slowly or go straight to the top or bottom.  There are lots of fun options for your scrolling button.

First, make sure you are logged into Chrome.  Next, go to the Chrome Web Store and search the extensions for Scroll to Top (or just click here.)  Click the button that says "Add to Chrome", and you will see a screen that gives you lots of options for your settings.

Then, if you click Show more settings, you will see lots of fun choices for your scrolling button.

That's it.  You now have an easy way to scroll through any website.  If you click on the icon, you will go straight to the top or bottom (whichever way it is pointing).  If you hover, you will find slower scrolling options.

Scroll to the Top allows you to easily move through any website.

Have fun making your own scrolling button!  Now you can enjoy all of your favorite sites just a little bit more.

Scroll to the Top allows you to easily move through any website.

Thank you, and have a great week!

I started a new professional book, and I can already tell it is going to become one of my favorites.  The Literacy Teacher's Playbook was recommended to me by a dear friend and colleague.  I'm only on page 9, and I already have to stop and put an idea into practice.

An Engagement Inventory is a great way to monitor independent reading.  This post has one as a free download.

The Literacy Teacher's Playbook takes the reader through various ways to assess your students.  Later, it talks about how to plan using the results of these assessments to best meet the needs of your students.  I can't wait to read about the instructional practices.  They look great at a glance.

This book is excellent professional reading for teachers.  Read this post for a free download of a reading engagement inventory inspired by this book.

In chapter one, Jennifer Serravallo talks about different lenses to use when assessing students' reading. The first lens she talks about is reading engagement.  She discusses using reading logs and interest inventories to help measure engagement.  These are tools that are very familiar to me, and I wholeheartedly agree with her suggestions on how to use them.   However, I was most excited to read about the idea of a Reading Engagement Inventory.  Here is a picture of the one from the book.

An Engagement Inventory is a great way to monitor independent reading.  This post has one as a free download.

Basically, you spend a block of reading time "kidwatching", paying close attention to the behaviors you notice during silent reading.  You code or make short notes about behaviors you notice.

In my version, a blank space will mean the student appears to be on task reading.  Here is my inventory I plan on using next year.  I will likely put it on my iPad and keep an electronic record as I am a huge fan of minimizing the amount of papers in my classroom. 

An Engagement Inventory is a great way to monitor independent reading.  This post has one as a free download.

If you would like to try out this form, I put it on a Google Slide.  If you make a copy of the file, you should be able to edit it however you would like, including changing the codes to fit your needs.  (Just go to file and click "Make a copy.)  I used font size 10, and I can fit 25 names in the table.  You can change the font and/or cell size if you need to fit in more names.  You can either print it out or complete the form digitally.  To download, click on the pink button below.

(If you need assistance editing the table, you can click here for help.)

Let me know if you have any questions.

Thank you, and have a great week!

Now that I've had this blog for a couple of months, I want to make sure that it stays organized.  I have added some pages to make it easier for you to find the technology resources that I refer to in my blog.

The quick links page lists all the websites that I have written about on my blog.  I included a short description, a link to the site, and a link to my blog post.

I have two iPads for my classroom, and I plan on purchasing one for personal use this summer.  I love using the iPad in my classroom because it is motivating for the students and it helps me with organization. I will share my favorite apps with you on my blog and link them on the iPad Apps page.

On the Google page, I will post all the apps and extensions that I have shared on my blog.  I am rather obsessed with Google, so I expect that page will grow soon.

I hope this is helpful.

Enjoy the weekend! 
I can not believe that my summer is already about half over.  I have been trying very hard to balance my time between checking items off my to do list and spending quality time with my family and friends.  Of course, I won't get to either as much as I'd like to, but I'm going to keep enjoying my time.

One of the things I have been working on is updating my TPT products.  As I switch my products over from Fit to be Fourth to Elementary Engagement, I am looking them over carefully.  I have made many product updates, given many "makeovers", and completely overhauled some of my products.  Most recently, I have worked on my plural nouns resources.

There are lots of great plural noun resources on this post!

Before I get to the updates I made, I'd like to share a couple of free resources for plural nouns.  First up is a great website I found.  This site is called Grammar for Kids.  On the sidebar, there is a list of grammar topics.  Once you click on the link, you will find a wide variety of games that will give your students fun practice on the skill.  These games are great to assign on Google Classroom, post on your classroom website, and/or use as a word work option for the Daily 5/3.

Here is a screenshot with some of the plural noun games.  There are 16 games total.

There are lots of great plural noun resources on this post!

I have updated my plural nouns products in my TPT store.  To thank you for following my blog, I have one of the new printables as a freebie.  Here is my plural noun word search.  You can download the word search and answer key by clicking on the pink button below.

There are lots of great plural noun resources on this post.  This fun plural noun word find is free!

As I added new printable resources to my Plural Nouns Bundle, I decided to offer the Interactive Notebook, worksheets, assessment and printable activities as a separate resource.  Here is a preview of the new resource.  It is currently marked 50% off in my store.  The price will stay there until the end of the day on Saturday, July 9.  You can click on any of the pictures below to see the product in my store.

There are lots of great plural noun resources on this post!

There are lots of great plural noun resources on this post!

There are lots of great plural noun resources on this post!

There are lots of great plural noun resources on this post!

There are lots of great plural noun resources on this post!

I also have my other plural noun resources marked at 20% off until the end of the day on Saturday, July 9.  They have all received recent makeovers.  Click on the pictures below to view them in detail.

There are lots of great plural noun resources on this post!

There are lots of great plural noun resources on this post!

There are lots of great plural noun resources on this post!

There are lots of great plural noun resources on this post!

I hope you found something you can use when you teach plural nouns this year.

Thank you, and have a great weekend!

It's Monday, so that means I'm linking up with Tara from 4th Grade Frolics for another edition of Monday Made It.

This week I have three projects to share.

My first Made It gave me a few challenges.  When I attended a professional development session for our new math program (Investigations) last week, the presenter shared a perfectly made large 10 frame that I just had to make.   

Mine did not come out nearly as neat, but I'm still excited about it.  (I tend to have some difficulty when it comes to making things straight.  The plastic was an added challenge.)  I am happy with how it turned out, and I'm sure it will be put to good use in my classroom.

The frame looks like this.

Make a mega-10 frame!

I got the plastic from Joanne's.  It was $3.00 a yard, and I only needed 2 feet.  The Duck Tape was a gift from one of my sweet students last year.

The next step was to get some counters.  I used plastic plates from Meijer.

Use plastic, Duck Tape, and paper plates to make a giant 10 frame!  This is great for tactile learners.

I love how students now have a large visual of a 10 frame.  This will be a great way to work with my tactile learners.

Several years ago, I remember reading about focus sticks.  I thought they would be really cute if I ever switched to a younger grade.  Well, now I am switching to second, so I had to make some.

First, I read this fabulous post from Hoots N' Hollers.  This post has a free download, so you can easily make your own focus sticks.  I just needed to buy craft sticks and Googly Eyes from Joann's.

These focus sticks are great to help with editing for conventions.

There is also a free download for a label on the same post.  However, I made my own label to match my classroom colors.  Finally, I put all the focus sticks in a can from the Target Dollar Spot.

Focus sticks serve as a great visual guide for students during the editing process.

I plan on using these focus sticks to assist my students with editing.  They will serve as reminders to edit for spelling, punctuation, capitalization, and (my favorite) asking, "Does it sound right?"

My last Made It is an item for my TPT store.  I added another set of word wall letters using my new color scheme, "Fun Colors".  I love my blog colors so much that I just had to make some coordinating classroom decor.  

Five different color combinations for word wall letters!

You can check out the preview below.  Click on any of the pictures to view this product in my TPT store. These letters will be marked 20% off until the end of the day on Tuesday, June 28.

3.5 inch word wall letters in "fun colors"

4.5 inch word wall letters in "fun colors"

6 inch word wall letters in "fun colors"

This post shows five different word wall options.

***In addition to having this product on sale, I have all my classroom decor marked 20% off.  You can click here to see all of my sale items.

Now I am off to see what everyone else has made.  Thank you, Tara for hosting this linky.  There are always so many great ideas linked up.

Have a great week!  

I hope everyone is enjoying the first official day of summer!  It's super hot here in Columbus, so it was the perfect afternoon to finish up a few projects.  Today, I am linking up with Tara from 4th Grade Frolics for her awesome linky, Monday Made It.

I have four "Made Its" to share with you today.

The first thing I made is a "Welcome Back!" banner for the beginning of the year.

This banner is a freebie on my Facebook page.  If you would like to purchase a full set of editable pennants, you can click here.

I'm really excited about some changes that I plan on making to my reading program next year.  I have completed quite a bit of reading about reading workshop in the primary grades.  There seems to be a recommendation that students always have 5-10 books readily available to provide choice in what they read/reread each day.  I really like the idea for students to take turns to go "book shopping".  That way, most of the class will always be reading, and students will always have a stash of books handy.  A structured schedule will also help me prepare for conferences with those students who need help selecting "just right" books.

In order to track my book shoppers, I created this system.  

I also used my new set of numbers to make a "Pick Me" can.  I was inspired this pin by Fifth in the Middle.  Diane attached two containers together so numbers could be moved as they are called and not repeated.  That way everyone gets equal turns.  

Use empty Crystal Light containers to create a name stick holder.:

I used 2 Viactiv containers to hold the numbers.  I hot glued them together and secured them with purple Duck Tape.  

Here is how it turned out. 

I also made a larger set of numbers.  I will use this set to track my daily helper.

I put all of the signs from this post on a Google Slide.  You can download them by clicking the pink button below.  

Click here if you are interested in purchasing the colorful pack of numbers (includes both types).

Now, I'm off to see what everyone else has created.  Thank you, Tara for hosting this linky!

Have a great week!
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