It's the Start Your Year Inspired sale at TPT.  Today and tomorrow receive 20% off your purchase!  Woot woot!  I'll be buying some stuff on my wish list, for sure!

To receive your discount, click here or click the button below, shop, and be sure to enter code START16.

Happy Shopping!

Reading Reward Cards

Every year, after winter break, I begin emphasizing reading fluency with my students.  It's the perfect time.  We've learned a lot of fundamentals and decoding strategies, my students are off and reading, increasing their abilities and reading levels, and now it's time to focus on fluency.

It's also a great time to renew their interest in reading and get the new year / 2nd semester off to a good start.

Enter... Reading Reward Cards! 

Each student gets a reward card.  Once a week, they have the opportunity to earn a punch.  When they have five punches, they earn a reward.

These Reward Cards can be used for any reading incentive you want to offer (reading minutes or a certain number of books, for example).  I made them pretty generic so that any teacher can use them for any reading incentive you choose.  In my class, I will punch their card if they read to me fluently.  

I send home "baggie books" with my students containing books at their level.  I expect students to practice them for homework each night and also during Read to Self (Daily 5).  Once a week, I check in with each student and listen to them read one of their books.  It's always obvious which students have practiced, and which ones have not.  If I hear an improvement in fluency (accuracy, pacing, expression), they earn a punch. 

It's simple, you practice reading, you earn a reward!

Because I have had so much success the last 4 years using this incentive, I created a packet for TPT to be able to share it with other teachers.  I hope it can help you, too.

Reading Reward Cards
When a student receives their Reading Reward Card, they choose a reward to work towards.  There are 15 different rewards to choose from.  I also included a blank card so that teachers could write in their own reward ideas.  Students glue the reward they choose onto the front of their card.  This provides a visual for students and their parents so that they know what they are working for.

I provided Reward Flip Ring cards, too.  Just print and laminate them, and use them for your students to flip through, get them pumped up about earning a fun reward, and make a choice.

I included 5 different titles for the reward cards, just to offer a little variety for teachers.
-Reading Reward Card
-Reading Super Star
-Fantastic Fluency
-Awesome Reader Card
-Rockin' Reader

My kids are WAY excited about earning a reward.  They have had them for 2 weeks now, and the difference in their reading is INCREDIBLE!!

To check out my Reading Reward Cards, click here!

Thanks for stopping by!

Cool Investigation Station: Update Week 2

This week we continued investigating solids & liquids in the form of snow and ice.  And, what do you know, we finally got some snow in Indiana on Sunday, so we had some snow to play with!  Woot woot!

When my students arrived on Monday, we dropped everything and did a little science investigation.  I brought some ice to school and also scooped up some snow from outside just before buses arrived.  I asked each student to investigate snow and ice the way a scientist would.  We thought about how they looked, felt, smelled, tasted, etc. 
Then we recorded our findings on a venn diagram.
 In our investigation station, I put some insta-snow for students to touch and feel during the week.  I ordered this because when I was planning this unit of study a couple of weeks back, there was no snow in sight!
I also pulled some things from The Science of January unit from Cara Carroll and Abby Mullins.
Since we are currently studying persuasive/opinion writing, this sorting activity was perfect!  Students working at investigation station worked together to sort snow facts and opinions.

I also put some "snowcabulary" on the wall for students to refer to.  Also from Cara & Abby's unit.

Stay tuned next week as we continue to dig in to this Project Based Learning unit on solids, liquids, and snow!

Cool Investigation Station: Update Week 1

Our first week with our "Cool Investigation Station" was a success and a hit with my students!  As predicted, they rushed over to this station as soon as they walked in the room and wanted to know what we are going to be doing.  I loved that!

This week, I really just wanted my students to begin thinking about solids and liquids and their properties.  The first couple of days, I let the students just explore the books and work with the solids & liquids sort I put out for them.  Students sorted items into solids or liquids.  They worked together with other kids on this.  (Read previous post about how I use my investigation station as a Daily 5 choice here.)

After sorting, students wrote one post-it note to tell me why they thought an item was a solid or a liquid.  Before allowing them to work here independently, I had the students gather around on the first day and I taught them what was at the station and how they could use the materials.  I asked them to be specific when explaining why an item was either solid or liquid.

Their thinking always amazes me!  I wish I had taken a photo of my favorite response (I was in a hurry to leave for the day), which said "School glue is a liquid because it is sticky".  That is genius.  Let that sink in for a moment.  We could do a whole study just on that.  #kidsareamazing.

Oh!  We also came up with two questions for inquiry.  I hung these up hovering over our investigation station so they are there to remind the kids their goal.
1.  Why does snow sometimes melt when the sun is out and when it's cloudy?  Why does the snow NOT melt sometimes when it's sunny?

2.  During Winter Break it rained... a lot!  There was lots of flooding.  Why didn't it snow?  It was December, doesn't it usually snow during the holidays?

I will tell you that these are questions that I came up with.  I used to think that true inquiry HAD to be wholly directed by student questions and I was a "doing it wrong" if I put in my 2 cents.  Well, after studying more on inquiry based learning and PBL (project based learning), I have discovered that we, as teachers, CAN drive the questions.  Students will of course have their own questions, too, and they can absolutely pursue those as well; however, it's important that the work we are doing is focused on learning the standards.  In this case, we are focusing on our science standards around solids & liquids and math standards around temperature.  So, the teacher drives the questions, but makes sure there is voice and choice for the students. 

As with any PBL project, it begins with a problem.  So, I played this up big time that there were 2 questions I was wondering about and that I needed their help to figure it out.  They are always ALL OVER helping me figure out a problem.  Keeping with giving students voice and choice, the students chose which question they want to research.  They will drive the research and decide how they want to present it to the class.  They chose partners to work with, or whether they wanted to work solo (no one did).

So, we are off and running on our PBL around solids, liquids, and snow/ice/rain!

Up next week:  We will learn more about solids & liquids through mini lessons and "cool" science experiments.  We'll also be visiting the computer lab to do some research with our partners.  And, of course, I'm working on getting new things to explore into the investigation station.

I'll post more next week as we progress!  If you are reading this, thank you so much for coming along for the ride!  Please follow my blog and FB page for updates.

Thank you so much, and have a wonderful weekend!

A Teacher Tip for your Stations

Hi there!  Just a quick teacher tip that I thought I would share with you today...

Have you ever made multiples of a station or game with cut/laminated pieces?  I usually make 3 sets of each station/game so that I can have 3 sets of partners working on the same thing.  When I do that, there always seems to be those 1-2 cards that get left out at clean up time and then you don't know which set it belongs to.  Ugh!

Am I preaching to the teacher choir?  Can I get an amen at how frustrating that is?

I finally figured out, after a long time and many, many frustrations, to either print each set on different colored paper, OR, to simply use a Sharpie to label the back of each set with a number (i.e. set "1", "2", etc.).

Genius!  Now, when a card gets left out at clean up time, it's easy to figure out which bag it belongs to.  In fact, I've taught my 1st graders about this little trick and they know how to get any lost pieces back to their respectful bags all on their own.

Hope this little tip helps some of you in case you hadn't tried it.

Have an awesome day!

A Cool Investigation Station

My students are going to think this is the "coolest" thing ever!!

Today was our first day back from winter break, but it was a teacher work day.  Our students come back tomorrow.

One of the things I prepped today was an investigation station.  I have an area set aside in my classroom where students can do a little inquiry based learning.  This week, we will kick off some project based learning around solids and liquids.  I decided this year to focus primarily on snow, ice, rain, etc. while investigating solids and liquids.  I'll post more about this PBL unit as we progress through it.

For now, this investigation station will allow students to explore books this week.  We will be doing some research once we come up with our inquiry questions about snow.  I also plan to put some items to investigate here as we progress. 

To entice them over to this station, I used chart paper to create some icicles on the shelf.  They are going to notice it straight away as soon as they enter the room - kids notice everything, don't they?  I know my kids will line up to choose this station to work at.

In my room, investigation station is one of my Daily 5 choices.  I usually put something there to explore having to do with concepts we're working on.  This has really worked for me in my classroom because students can explore independently while others are reading, doing word work, etc.  I allow 4-6 students at this station at one time.  And, I love to listen in on their conversations as they explore.

In addition to the books you see on the shelf, I have some items in a basket for them to sort into solids or liquids.  Gonna put some more items in there tomorrow...

They will use post-it notes to explain their thinking about why an item is a solid or liquid.

All of this is just for my students to explore and to get their feet "wet" (sorry for the cheesy puns) before we jump in to our PBL project later this week.  Can't wait to see where it leads us!