Blog Hoppin' - 5 Fun Facts

This week is Teacher Week over at Blog Hoppin'. Today's topic is 5 fun facts about yourself.
I am a Mama to an awesome five year old little boy. He is my one and only child. He began Kindergarten this year and plays baseball. He loves to read, loves dinosaurs, love his dogs, loves sharks, and loves to play!
I am an avid Tennessee VOLS fan! I love the atmosphere of college football. It's so fun! Love, love, love Rocky Top and can't wait to cheer on the VOLS. I also can't wait to take my son to Neyland Stadium! 
I am currently in my eighth year of teaching. During these eight years, I have taught fourth and fifth grades. I taught fourth grade for five years and am in my third year of fifth. I love upper elementary!

I am completely obsessed with Chap Stick and never leave home without it.
I LOVE books and I LOVE to read! My classroom library is one of my favorite places. I love to find new books to add my personal and classroom library.

Head over to Blog Hoppin' to join in on the fun!

Five for Friday

Happy Saturday! I am enjoying a laid back, lazy Saturday morning here. It's crisp outside this morning. Fall is in the air and I am loving it!

This week in Literacy we focused on visualizing. We shared various quotes from our read aloud, The Magician's Nephew, and shared our "mind movies" together. 
Anchor chart inspired by The Teaching Thief
One of my goals as a Reading teacher is to foster a LOVE of reading. Most of my students came to me loving reading, but I do have several reluctant readers. We're beginning book talks this coming week and I can't wait to hear my students talk about their favorite books!

I've had pictures from the first week of school of my students picking out books and reading independently so I wanted a place to display those. To make our classroom feel more like home, I want my students pictures displayed around the room. I got the idea of the tagline "Building a community of readers"....
I made the most of my wall space and I created a mini bulletin board below my white board. I've added pictures to the board and will add more/rotate them throughout the year. Love it!
I added these letters to spell out "READ" in top of a bookshelf in my classroom. Love them.

I got an Amazon order this week of more books to add to my classroom library. Be on the lookout for book reviews soon! 


Last night Pre-K and Kindergarten got to run out on the football field before our football came out. My little one had so much fun! There is something fun about Friday night lights.

The Magician's Nephew

Happy Sunday! We are having a much needed day of relaxing around here and it has been wonderful. I've mapped out our week in my Day Designer planner. I had an Erin Condren and loved it, but I went with a more simple planner this time and love it so far. 
This past week we began our fantasy unit. I'll have to admit, I Fantasy isn't my favorite genre. I enjoy C.S. Lewis and I love The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. However, The Magician's Nephew was good, too. My students are loving it and that's what really matters. I thought I'd share with you how I'm using it in the classroom.
The Magician's Nephew is our read aloud during our fantasy genre unit. Throughout the story, we talk about elements of fantasy: teleportation, magic, talking animals, etc. In the first chapter, we identified where London is on a map and marked it with a push pin.

During chapters 1-5, we focused on making predictions. Those chapters were great for making predictions. Students made predictions after each chapter and then shared what actually happened after we read on.

This week we will be reading chapters 6-10 where we will focus on visualizing. I have marked various places where we will stop to think/share about our "mind movies" as we visualize.

The Magician's Nephew has a lot of vocabulary that we will discuss. Some of these are: keen, indignantly, solemn, peril, incantations, rampaging, throttle, impertinent, ostentatious, tantivy, sagacious, cockney, simpleton, and coronation.

Throughout the story, we will talk about similes as we find them in the text. We will also begin acquaintance and analysis lessons. This is where we'll look at a sentence, a few sentences, or a paragraph of GOOD writing and we'll discuss what makes it good. What about the author's writing makes this a good sentence or a good paragraph? You can find examples of acquaintance and analysis anywhere. I hope to find a lot from our read alouds, but they can be found in any type of text (magazines, articles, etc).

Literacy & Social Studies

Happy Saturday! I have had good intentions on posting throughout the week, but it hasn't happened yet. I am sure I'll get into a better rhythm soon!

This week in Social Studies, we have continued our map skills unit. We used these raised relief maps, flat maps, and globes to identify natural features.

We reviewed the terms equator, prime meridian, latitude, and longitude. We used THIS ACTIVITY to identify points on a map using latitude and longitude.

In Literacy, we began our fantasy genre unit. We started off by creating an anchor chart with the elements of fantasy. Interesting tidbit: Fifth graders at my school are required to write in cursive on assignments. So, you'll see a lot of cursive in our anchor charts. 
Our first reading skill we covered was predicting and that went along great with our fantasy read aloud, The Magician's Nephew. The first few chapters are great to use for making predictions. 
We kept track of our predictions with this chart in our Reading binder.

We are ready to take on week 3! 

Social Studies & Reading lessons {First Week of School}

The first week of school is down and I am ready to begin our second week tomorrow. As much as I love the back to school fun, I am ready to get into a solid routine and do what I love most --> teach my favorite subjects!

My hope is that each week I'll share what we did in Social Studies and Reading. Last week we only switched classes for two days so we only got through a small amount of content.

Let's start our recap with....

We started off very basic last week by setting up our Social Studies notebook. Our very first page is labeled, "Why is Social Studies important?". I start our notebooks off this way every year. I like to see why they think it's important to learn about the history of our country.

Our first unit is Map Skills. We began by reviewing continents and oceans. We added a map to our notebooks, labeled, and colored it.

We discussed how a map is different than a globe. We identified continents, oceans, and various features on our globes. We previewed next week's lessons by reviewing the equator and prime meridian. Since we only had two days, that is all we got to for last week.

 Moving on to....

One day we read "Have You Filled a Bucket Today?" and connected that to what we'd learn from our read aloud of "Each Kindness" from the previous day. We also connected it to our welcome back assembly, where our principal talked about how God wants us to treats others and how we treat others shows our love for him.

I shared with my students that one of my favorite authors is Patricia Polacco. We read "Thank you, Mr. Falker" which is AMAZING. My students loved it. 
My favorite part was our BOOK FRENZY! My classes were so excited to be able to search through our classroom library and pick out a book to take home. I wish you could've seen their smiles!

Have a great week!

First Two Days of School

We have completed our first week back to school for the 2015-2016 school year. It has been a great week! I've been completely exhausted by the end of each day, but I have absolutely loved my new school and love my class!

The first day was a half day so we kept our homeroom classes that day and the next full day. We wanted to have time to bond with our homeroom and go over procedures before beginning to switch classes.

Our very first read aloud for the year was "First Day Jitters". I love this picture book and use it every year with my upper elementary friends. We all have those jitters on that first day!
We started Morning Meeting on the very first day. I love doing Morning Meeting with my fifth graders. It's such a good time to build community in your classroom. We started off very simple with a greeting and a prayer on the first day of school. It's been awesome to incorporate prayer into Morning Meeting! The second day we began sharing by sharing Me Bags.

We played several getting to know games. One was a card match up game where each student had a word on half an index card and they had to find their match. We used words & phrases like macaroni and cheese, baseball and bat, etc. We also used a beach ball with questions on it to get to know each other better.
We read the story "Each Kindness" and shared how we can spread kindness to others and why we should. It really tied well into topics discussed at a welcome back assembly.

We spent time going over procedures, rules, expectations, etc. I really enjoyed getting to know my students through our Me Bag activity. It's going to be a great year!

We read some of "Sideways Stories for Wayside School" during the first couple of days. Since our first genre study is Fantasy, it was a good intro to that and allowed the students to get a little preview of it.

I'll be back tomorrow to share what we did in Reading and Social Studies during the first week! 

Classroom Tour 2015-2016

School has started here and I have classroom pictures to show you! It has been a work in progress and it isn't 100% finished (is it ever?), but it's finished enough to share these photos.
As you know, I moved schools this year so I came in to a blank canvas in this classroom. I feel like I have created a cozy atmosphere for my fifth graders!
Welcome to my classroom!

Immediately to the left, I have a bookshelf with some materials and our Social Studies books. They are paperback so I am keeping them to the side instead of student desks so that they don't get too messed up. To the sides you'll see our recess bag and a school designated recycling bin. There's not really a good place for them so they stay in this area.
I created this bulletin board "What is Mrs. Geren reading?" to show my students that I am a reader, too! I will change out the "What I'm reading" and "Books I recommend" every couple of weeks. 
Past that shelf is my dry erase board and then my student computers. Above my student computers you'll see a map of the world with my map bunting. We will be marking the places in the world we "visit" when we read stories aloud with the theme "Reading takes us places".

I'll be adding this print somewhere in the classroom to go along with that idea.
On the wall beside the student computers, I created a bulletin board for my fabulous fifth graders! When I sent letters home to my students this summer, I asked their parents to email me a picture of their child doing something they loved. I printed these photos and added them before Open House last week. My new teaching partner gave me the idea to do it and I LOVED it! I think by displaying student photos in the classroom, it helps them to feel a part of the classroom community and I want them to know I care about them, their interests, and who they are as a person.
At the front of the room I have my Promethean board. To the right is my teacher desk.
To the left of that board I have another bookshelf with various books. On the bottom I have books that relate to our Social Studies standards. I'll pull these out during those units of study. The middle shelf holds read alouds I'll use or books that I'll recommend soon. The pink basket will hold weekly folders. 
I love this "In Our Classroom" sign and will be discussing it throughout this first week of school. My favorite line is "We are family". I hope to create a classroom community where we feel like family.
 Directly to the back is my student cubbies, which now have random student supplies in them. We'll be organizing supplies this week. This picture was taken after Open House when students dropped supplies off.
Now to my FAVORITE part of our classroom: the classroom library! 
 I love this area and could just get comfy over there with a good book!

I organize my books by genre and have labels on every book. It was such a labor of love organizing this library, but I LOVE the final product. 
Three sweet moments from Open House related to my classroom library:
  • One student actually gasped quietly and whispered to her friend, "Look at all of the books!"
  • Two boys came in early, found a book they wanted to read, and got comfortable and read together.
  • Another made himself comfortable in the chair and read while his parents visited his sibling's classroom.

    THAT is what it's all about folks!
Above the cubbies I have our "Snapshots" of our year together timeline where I will post photos of our year.

LOVE this sign from Hobby Lobby!

That concludes our classroom tour! I'll be adding things here and there as I find some items I'm on the lookout for!
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