My 2nd graders just completed their Animal Research Projects as our expository writing project this quarter.  They turned out so cute!!  We pulled a lot of the ideas from the "Not Your Average Animal Research Paper" unit from Lesson Plan SOS.  To begin, we pulled *tons* of 2nd grade appropriate books about animals from the school library.  {Love my Media Specialist - she was so a-maz-ing-ly helpful during this process!!  I came back to class with about 50 different interesting animals for the kids to choose from!}  The kids did a gallery walk with the books, previewing lots of interesting texts to select the animal they would like to learn more about.  Since I had such a wide array of animals, we didn't have many issues; I had 2 girls who both wanted giraffes, but one of them decided to study Harp Seals instead.
Anywhoo, then the modeling began.  As a class, we studied the Giant Anteater using this book.  
I modeled how to use non-fiction text features, like headings, bold print, an index,  and a table of contents to search for specific information.  My kiddos were especially excited to learn that the tongue of a Giant Anteater is about 24 inches long, compared to a human's 4 inch long tongue.  <<We incorporated a bit of measurement here!  Nothing like giant tongues to get 7 and 8 year olds excited!!>>  To scaffold my green beans as they search for information, my teammate Casey and I created an Animal Research Fact Tracker.  I made a large version on chart paper, and each kiddo had one for their own notetaking.  
Download from Google Docs here!

We also used WB Animals (an IPad app that is so very cool!!), Grolier's online animal encyclopedia called Amazing animals, actual encyclopedias, and magazines.  If you are considering a research project for your little ones, I highly recommend this one - I was able to incorporate research skills, writing skills, technology, geography, vocabulary, and non-fiction text elements during our 3 week project.  For a celebration, I let the class read theirs to different partners in the class, and then we shared them with partners in Casey's class, too!!  We didn't even serve snacks, and they had so much fun.  Love it!

I take a moment every now and then to remember how fortunate I am to have such a fabulous family who drop everything to help, an amazing hubby who cooks (especially when I'm tired!) and makes me laugh every day, and my amazing children, whose hugs and kisses make my day! I adore my school, my teammates, and the really special group of kiddos in my class this year.  With only 27 school days left, I've started to dread them leaving!  (Then I remind myself that I gave someone 18 redirections in a very short amount of time, and I start to feel a bit better...)  I have gratitude that I'm able to share my experiences in teaching with others through the wide array of resources available.  Thank you for reading my little blog; it means so much to me.  (Not as much as it means to my hubby, tho!  He's grateful there's someone for me to share all of my school "ideas" with, too!!)  ;)

What are you grateful for?

I won clip art gift certificates from Michele at Run! Miss Nelson's Got the Camera; $10 each at Fancy Dog and Scrappin Doodles.  Whoo-hoo!!  I'm gonna be filling my cart with clip art.  (I have developed quite a clip art addiction since opening my TPT/TN stores in February!)  Thanks Michele!! :) 

Also, I won Something Big Has Been Here by Jack Prelutsky from Renee at Reading Really Rocks.  She included some fun "extras," too!  Here are the pics!!

A sweet note from Renee

My kiddos are going to love this book!!

Fun pencils, award certificates, and a fancy to do list!
Thanks Renee!  :)

If you're interested in winning your choice of items from my TPT/TN stores, go enter the giveaway celebrating my new bloggy look.  Hurry, I'll choose the winners Wednesday night!!  :)

The amazing Erin from Creating and Designing has worked her magic on my blog, and it looks spectacular!  I love the owls, and feel like I could stare at it for hours.  {Being a wife, mom, and teacher, I won't have time, but you get the idea!}  Erin is great to work with, and very patient with someone like me who can't make up her damn mind is indecisive.  If you are looking for a blog designer, I highly recommend working with Erin.
My New Button
Erin's Blog Design
In celebration, I'd like to give some things away!  I'll be back on Wednesday evening to choose 2 followers to win 2 items each from my TPT/TN stores.  You get to choose the items!!  :)  If we hit 200 followers, I'll choose 3 winners to pick 3 items each.

6 Ways to enter:

  • Follow my blog, and leave a comment with your email address (1 entry)
  • Follow my TPT store and my Teachers Notebook store, and leave a comment with your email address (1 entry)
  • "Like" my new Facebook page and leave a comment with your email address (1 entry)
  • Grab my new button, and leave a comment with the link and email address (1 entry)
  • Blog about it!  Leave 2 comments with the link and your email address (2 entries)
Thank you for entering!  The contest is now closed.  :)
You might choose:

Best of luck!!

Yay!  The weekend is here!  So much fun!  My hubby and I took the kiddos to the grand opening of the new Nature Research Center, a new wing of the NC Museum of Natural Sciences.  It was amazing.  If you're close to Raleigh, I recommend going. We saw a scientist Skype with Jane Goodall about Chimpanzees.
We also saw mosquito larvae eating under a microscope, and explored the amazing facility.  One of my butter-beans played a game where he was a raindrop moving through the water cycle in the NASA sky & atmosphere lab.  My other butter-bean was impressed by the fossil excavation lab, where she was able to vote for the name of an unnamed dinosaur.
A museum volunteer passed along a resource for teachers: Elementary Globe.  5 science based storybooks and 15 classroom learning activities for students in grades K-4, including weather, water, seasons, and soils.  You can order the books (which is not free), or download as PDFs and print or project your own.  They also have  resources for middle/high school science.  Click here for Elementary Globe.

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>off topic alert!<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<

Off topic... sorry!  :)  I had a couple of requests to create task cards from the Reading Response Prompts that I shared with you earlier this week.  Click here for more information.
There are 24 response prompts, and are available on TPT for $1.  Enjoy!  I'm so in love with KPM Doodles' bluebirds!  I could decorate my house with them!!!  Have a wonderful weekend!  ~Jen

I am going to find time in my day to have a Morning Meeting again.  I started strong at the beginning of the year, and we always have them for a bit when I track back in, but they fall by the wayside as I've been strapped for time in Math instruction.  I'm a huge believer in the Responsive Classroom model; if you're looking for more information, check out these links...

Click here for an overview of Morning Meetings, and here's a quick video on a quick and easy greeting:

Do you use Morning Meetings in your classroom?  What are your favorite parts?  How effective is it in your classroom?

Keeping with the theme of classroom management, I have a freebie for you!  33 Reasonable Rewards.  Click here to download from Google Docs.  :)

Thanks for reading, and for your comments. Happy Wednesday! ~Jen
Omigoodness, y'all!  Ever had the feeling you already told someone something important, but then... oops! you actually forgot?   I thought this was just limited to my personal life, as I continually forget to give phone messages or tell the specific time I'm going to meet someone.

Long story short - it's crept into my blogging life.  I thought I already did a post about Working on Words Activities, but realized I must have imagined it, instead!  ;)

Here's my newest activity packet: Work on Words Activity Cards and Printables.

This set is perfect for 1st/2nd grade and easily adaptable for K and 3rd.  All of these activities work with any word lists. You decide if students use: word wall words, spelling lists, seasonal words, or even vocabulary lists for math, science or any academic area.  Just print and cut apart - you're ready!

This packet includes: 
24 Different Work on Words Task Cards
3 Pages of Letter Tiles
24 Printables - 1 per Task Card (Some printables are more than one page)
Introduction/Printables/Credits cover pages

For some Tax Day relief, this set is 20% off today.  Click here for TPT and here for TN.  Happy Sunday!  ~Jen
What a busy weekend so far!  I thought I'd take a couple minutes to share with y'all while recovering from going out to watch the hubby play guitar (I'm no Spring Chicken anymore; I got home at 4:00 this morning, and have been in a zombie-like state all day!)  For the record, if you're out till 4AM, and you have 2 young kiddos, the next day is a wee bit demanding.  Not recommended unless you have an au-pair or nanny.

I'm already planning ways to get my 2nd graders ready for the transition to 3rd grade.  Since I'm in a year round school, there isn't an entire summer between grades.  In June, they are 2nd graders.  4 weeks later, in July, they come back as 3rd graders.  I thought I'd work on their responses to reading, so I created a set of task cards full of prompts to use when responding to reading.  A couple of my green beans just need me to give them the list, model it once, and they'll do great.  Most of the class will require a couple weeks of mini-lessons, and do fine.  And then I have the *very* small group who requires me to do everything but hold their pencil - they are the challenge.  There will be modifications for this group, including: tell your response to a listening partner before you write your sentence, limited topics to choose from, and write 1-2 sentences instead of a paragraph.

Reading Response Task Cards on TpT

Reading Response Task Cards on TpT

Since y'all are such an amazing group of teachers, here's a freebie!  Remember to leave me some feedback, and consider following my blog and store if you don't already.  Click the links below for a Reading Response Freebie!  Enjoy!!
Reading Response Topics for Free on TpT

Reading Response Freebie on TPT
Happy Teaching!!
I have some terrific supportive parents in my class this year!  One of my parents sent in a *huge* box of envelopes, along with a craft suggestion: Monster bookmarks that eat your page!  Love it!  Here's the examples my student brought in from home:

Scary Teeth!
Here's what we did:
1. Seal the envelope closed.  
2. Cut the corners off, making sure each corner is big enough to decorate.

Cut the corners
Make 4 per envelope
 3. Use a contrasting color paper to create teeth, eyes, etc.
We traded the scraps from our envelopes to make teeth!
  4. Get out of their way!  The kids had such great ideas!
We scrounged around in the recycling bin for small scraps, too!
adding teeth
I was informed that this one is a ninja
Sorry for the glare - they were in a ziplock bag to go home
Variety of fangs and teeth
5. Remind them to use them on a book!  :)  We did figure out that they make cool finger puppets, too.  Just   sayin'.
I need advice.  To team teach or not to team teach?  Here's the background...  {see how I'm developing your schema?}  
If you're just here for Farley's Currently, feel free to skip to the bottom of the post.  No feelings hurt here!!


I work with an amazing teacher, Casey, and she loves to teach Math.  I am happiest teaching Reading.  We've talked for 2 years about team teaching, and we're seriously talking about team teaching with Reading and Math.  We already do this with Science and Social Studies, but it's really just that I teach the science unit 2 times, once with my class, once with her class.  If we team teach Reading and Math, I would be responsible for teaching Reading twice daily, Writing, and Science.  She would teach Math twice daily, Writing, and Social Studies.  It's exciting, but a bit nerve-wracking as we're trying to decide.  I made a list of pros and cons...  I'm not really a "pros and cons" kind of gal, but my mind was mulling it over as I was driving to buy the last book in the Hunger Games series.  
Mockingjay (Hunger Games Series #3)
{For those of you in the back yelling out "Did you get to the part where they...?" my answer is No.  I have to do my schoolwork first!!!  No spoilers, please.} I am super excited to get started, but not. until. I. do. my. work.
Anywho, I found myself making this list, and thought it might be helpful for me to write it out.

  • We are adopting Common Core next year, and I would be able to focus on the new Reading curriculum. 
  • I wouldn't have to teach Math.  ;)
  • I would get to teach Reading twice a day!
  • We are adopting Common Core next year, and I wouldn't learn the new Math curriculum when everyone else in my county does.
  • I would attend twice as many meetings, as we would both need to be present for parent conferences, IEP meetings, and Student Support Team meetings for students in both classes.
  • I would be unable to participate in the Math training I signed up for, which I was hoping to do with the rest of my grade level.
Since bloggers are not afraid to share their opinion, I'm asking y'all for help. How do you handle Team Teaching?  Do you Team Teach?  Do you want to? Are there other things to consider?
Currently... I'm consumed with thoughts of Team Teaching, but I *did* finish my Currently, and I'd love to share it with you!  Have you linked up with Farley yet?  I'm so in bloggy love with this gal; she's fantabulous!
Can you believe it's April already?  This (school) year is just flying by!
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