Five for Friday! {March 27, 2015}

I'm happy to finally link up again with Doodle Bugs Teaching and Five for Friday! It has been a very busy week as we approach Spring Break, and we're all feeling the pressure to do as much as we can before the end of the year. Here is a peek at my week.

I really look forward to breakfasts like these overnight oats. They're such a treat in the morning! And the possibilities for flavors are practically endless... oats with fruit, brown sugar & cinnamon, coconut milk vs. regular milk, etc. What do you do for breakfast? Sometimes I feel like I'm the only person who HAS TO eat breakfast.

Since we're fully immersed in nonfiction reading and writing, I thought this great book of poetry would be a nice change of pace from the typical informational text. I absolutely love it. (And the kids love it too!) It has a winter theme, and although we haven't really experienced winter here in California this year, I thought my students could still get into the wintry mood with this book. It's a beautiful blend of science, vocabulary, and stunning illustrations.

Have you seen the Weird But True series from National Geographic Kids? These colorful books are packed with interesting tidbits that your students will be talking about for days. To be honest, I'm having a hard time maintaining our usual quiet reading time because all of the students want to read to friends and share EVERYthing they're learning. I admit, it's a good problem to have. :) The pic on the right is a selection of biographies that the school just ordered for us. There are some great ones about famous people (Gandhi, Noah Webster, Jacques Cousteau) in a very kid-friendly (and beautifully illustrated) format.


We've been spending a lot of time reading informational texts and discussing our thinking with partners. These pics show students looking for opinion words the author used. 

Our favorite part of the week was definitely the experiments. As part of our informational writing unit, we're learning how to write lab reports to demonstrate our thinking and learning through the scientific process. Our first few experiments have been related to force and motion, i.e., how different surfaces affect the speed of items rolling down ramps of varying heights and inclines. Every student was on task and recording their observations and results. It was amazing. 

Happy weekend!

5 Tips for Parent/Teacher Conferences

For the first time ever, I'm teaching at a school this year that has parent/teacher conferences in the Fall AND in the Spring. We just finished our second round of conferences, and I thought it might be helpful to share some of the ideas I've learned along the way.

This seems so simple, but I'm continually surprised by what I learn from asking this simple question at the beginning of each conference. It provides valuable insight into the child's home life and how s/he feels about school. Usually, we know our students very well, but I've been surprised by what parents have said on a number of occasions. By asking the question at the beginning, it helps establish the tone for the conference.

That's right, just as we teach students to set their own goals, we need to do the same for conferences. This is part of the planning stage of the parent-teacher conference. If I'm going to tell Jane's parents that she's having difficulty with self correction during reading, I need to have a suggestion for how the parents can help and explain how this relates to what I'm doing in the classroom.

Much of the work we do in the classroom never goes home, so it's helpful to show parents what kind of work their child is doing, and how they're demonstrating their learning. You can provide a few pieces of writing, reading response, or even notebooks that show a typical day's work/learning. These pieces of work make great conversation pieces!

One of the resources I created this year has come in very handy during conferences with parents and during report writing time. These are especially helpful if you're using workshop models for reading and writing instruction. I like to be able to tell parents what our goals are according to the strengths of each particular child. Identifying specific reading behaviors help parents understand the progression of learning and how they can support this at home. 

Leave your door open. Metaphorically, of course. Let parents know the best way they can reach out to you: email, notes from home, etc., and ask how to reach them if necessary.

Those are the five guidelines I try to follow for each conference. What about you? How do you handle parent/teacher conferences?

Currently... March!

March is here, and it's time for another linky with Farley from Oh Boy 4th Grade!
Listening: House of Cards is back! It feels like years since the last season ended. I was scanning Netflix yesterday and discovered Season 3! I just love to hate Frank Underwood, don't you?

Loving: One of my favorite things about the weekend is indulging in brunch. This weekend I enjoyed strawberry french toast, veggie quiche, blueberry pancakes... yum!

Thinking & Wanting: I leave tomorrow morning with the entire second grade to go on a five-day ski trip! I'm feeling quite a mix of emotions about this, ranging from excitement to anxiety. It's my first time on the trip, so that certainly doesn't help my nerves. And I've never done such an extended field trip... Fingers crossed for all to go as planned! It should be a great time!

Needing: I'm definitely feeling the need to travel, but it looks like I'll be staying in California until the summer.  

Spring Break Plans: I think I'll spend time in San Francisco, doing some of the things I rarely do unless someone comes to visit... museums, Golden Gate Park, maybe even a ballet?

Hope you have a great week!

Hop on over to Farley's to see more Currently!