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Alphabet Songs

Have you guys seen the alphabet song videos from Have Fun Teaching?  I love these videos and I have been using them a lot in the last few months.  I work mostly with 2nd-5th grades and my students know the alphabet, however, many of them struggle with vowel sounds!  It is not easy to find vowel sound resources that don't seem "babyish" to 5th graders but my students love these videos!  Check out this video for the letter E: 

I LOVE that the music is upbeat and catchy.  It doesn't seem to be aimed specifically at younger students. My students ask to listen to the songs while they do independent work.  I also love that the songs are so students learn the songs quickly and begin singing along.  The songs give students plenty of opportunities to practice saying the sounds (both long and short vowel sounds).  Just a warning...these songs will get stuck in your head!  

Make sure you check out their giveaway...hurry though it ends today! 

Desk Plates Freebie

I still have 17 days left of school but I'm already getting ready for next year.  I keep reading about all of you who are already on summer break and I am soooo jealous!!  I already started printing some of the things I want to make like this adorable welcome sign: 
Click the picture to grab yours for FREE from Live, Love, Laugh Everyday! 

I haven't decided on a theme for next year yet.  I am thinking about doing a Where the Wild Things are theme...I'm a visual person so I have to see different themes before I can choose one.  I made some simple desk plates to see if it is a theme I might want to do.  Feel free to grab them from my Teachers Notebooks store...they are also free :) 

If you want the lines colorful, leave a comment with what colors you would like and I'll send them to you.  

Literature Circles

Sorry for the lack of posting lately...I finally finished this semester of full time grad school (what was I thinking?!).  After being observed 4 times in two weeks, writing a thesis paper, and creating a giant portfolio, I was exhausted.  A few days after my classes ended I had to put my dog to sleep.  The next day, I found out my cat has kidney cancer and there is nothing we can do for him.  It's been a rough few weeks! Life is starting to get back to normal now...I hope!
Onto teaching related things...I started literature circles with my fifth grade group last week and I thought I'd share how I set everything up.  The first thing I do is find some books that I think they will like.  I do mini book advertisements for each one so the students get a feel for the books.  Then they vote on the book they want to read.  These were the books they could choose from:
The Tiger Rising by Kate DiCamillo
Dear Mr. Henshaw  

All five of my boys chose Dear Mr. Henshaw which is secretly the one I wanted them to pick :)
I only have them for 30 minutes a day so usually the book advertisements/browsing and voting take about the whole time.  If they have any extra time, they can look through the book some more. 

Next we split up the book into 6 sections because I have 6 lit circle roles and I want them do each role once.  I assign the roles by giving each student a card with a role on it.  That is the role they do first.  Then they rotate the cards...that is their second role and so on.  The page numbers, roles, and due dates are all written in their lit circle packet. 

My favorite part of literature circles is the discussion.  After they read, the discussion director leads the group in a discussion about that section of the book.  I let the older students run the discussions with no help from me meaning if the group gets off topic or isn't paying attention - the discussion director needs to get them back on track.  I ALWAYS have kids tell me that they didn't realize how annoying it is when other students keep interupting you during a discussion.  They are  usually better behaved after having the experience of being discussion director :) 

With my current group of 5 very chatty boys I decided to use a talking stick.  Best. Idea. Ever.  A huge thank you to whoever came up with the talking stick!  The boys took it VERY seriously.  Only the person with the stick can talk.  If you talk without the stick, you get a check on the behavior chart.  They were so quiet that they actually had extra time at the end of class instead of leaving with homework because they didn't get everything done.

(I just use a crazy straw for my talking stick.)

I recently added a Wild Things literature circle packet to my Teachers Notebook store...feel free to check it out!

I'm always looking for ways to make literature circles better so if you do anything differently, please share in the comments section!