Saturday, September 26, 2015

Fall in Love with 3rd Grade Spelling! {Blog Hop}

Fall in Love with 3rd Grade SPELLING!

It's fall!  Thanks to the 3rd Grade Tribe for hosting such an awesome Blog Hop! I'm excited to share with you about teaching a subject I have recently FALLen in love with: spelling!

Spelling has not always been my favorite.  Actually, math was always my favorite and still is.  Since my first years of teaching, I feared I wasn't teaching spelling the "right" way.  I didn't want to sabotage my students by teaching them ineffectively!  Does anybody else ever have worries like this?  Am I the only one?

Enter Orton Gillingham.  

Our district trained all its elementary teachers in Orton Gillingham-based Phonics First from RLAC.  It's a great resource for teaching phonics.  Our PreK-2nd grade teachers use it.  As a 3rd grade teacher, I pick up where O-G leaves off. 

Or at least I should. 

Up until this year, my initial screening at the beginning of the year never indicated that my students had mastered every layer of O-G.  This year, a large portion of my students are already pros at the spelling patterns I taught last year.  No sense in wasting time teaching concepts they've already mastered, right?  

So I differentiated.  

Now, like many of you, I have no time to re-invent the wheel.  Instead, I turn to the brilliant teacher-authors at for sound, reliable teaching resources.  Many, many fantastic resources.  (These resources are also available for you to purchase.  Links below.)

I start with generating our spelling lists.  That's another whole blog entry, but suffice it to say for now that the kids choose their words that follow a pattern.  I have three differentiated spelling groups: Scholars, Pupils, and Sages.  The Scholars work on Layer 3 of Phonics First.  The Pupils work on the Appendices of Phonics First.  And my Sages work on Greek and Latin roots, ala Ladybug Teaching File's Spelling Morphology. 

Love her word lists for my higher group! 

Each week, the Sages focus on a selection of Greek & Latin roots with similar sounds/meaning.  First, the Sages sort the 15 words by root.  Of the 15 words on the list, my students choose five unfamiliar words to be their spelling words for the week.  

Then, they complete a Frayer Model from One Extra Degree's Expanding Vocabulary Pack.  (It could be any Frayer Model template.  I just happened to have this one on hand because Amanda makes exceptional resources!)

We use a dictionary app to speed up the process.  I want to focus on the meaning of the words more than dictionary skills. 

I think they're getting the hang of it!

For homework, my students take their lists of self-selected words home and complete 15 points worth of activities from Lisa's monthly spelling contracts.  My students love having the power of CHOICE in their homework and these spelling contracts allow them plenty of choice.  Many of them choose one pen-and-paper activity and one multi-sensory activity each week as their homework.  

Classwork is just as fun.  Inspired by some of Fourth & Ten's multi-sensory ideas, I made my own Spelling Bingo cards.  We use them in the classroom to provide multi-sensory spelling practice throughout the week.  The ideas are collect from all different techniques teachers have used throughout the years. 

Check out all the blurry spelling action going on here!! Magnet letters, play-doh spelling, and ABC stamping--these spellers are ENGAGED in learning!

I made a smaller (3x3) board for the beginning of the year, which is great while we're still learning routines.  Then I made a larger spelling bingo board (4x4) when we're ready to add more options.  Kids work on their Spelling Bingo cards throughout the week to practice learning the spelling pattern.  I love that kids aren't just learning 10 specific words, but a pattern that will help them spell countless other words! 

You can try out my Spelling Bingo cards in your classroom for FREE!  Just click below to download both the 3x3 and the 4x4 spelling bingo boards.  
my very own Spelling Bingo

Okay, I can't just stop there.  I'd love to give away another product--ANY PRODUCT--from my Teachers Pay Teachers Store.  I love giveaways!! 

I'm giving away YOUR CHOICE of any product from my TPT store!  Enter to win through this Rafflecopter giveaway.  Entries must be in by Sept. 30.  

And if that's not enough, this blog hop also features a GRAND PRIZE giveaway!

Want more Fall teaching goodness?  More giveaways? 
Click the image below to go to our next stop on this Fall blog hop! 

Sunday, September 20, 2015

QR codes in Kindergarten??

I love the weekly TPT newsletters.  So often I find a hidden gem that I didn't know was there.  This free kit called "We're Going on a Letter Hunt" from Keeping Up with Mrs. Harris was just that.

The students had a lot of fun using this kit during one of our Literacy Stations this week.  They got to use my phone (I think that may have been the most fun!) and scan these QR codes that were posted all around the room.  After scanning the code, a picture of a letter would be revealed.  

Then they would work together to decide on which uppercase letter matched the lowercase letter that was revealed.  They colored in their own sheet with the letters.  Yay for technology in Kindergarten!

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Teacher Week - WEDNESDAY - Classroom Tour!

It's a Teacher Week Blog Hop!

Happy Teacher Week!  I love teachers.  You can always tell when someone is a teacher.  You just know.  Whether it's how they dress, what they say, or how they function...if you're a teacher, you just can't hide it!  Here's to celebrating teachers!  What better way to get a glimpse into the life of a teacher than to take a peek at the four walls she lives inside for the better part of the year. 

Katy here! Welcome to my 3rd grade classroom!  I snapped a few quick photos with my phone after the 3rd day of 3rd grade to give you a glimpse into my world.

Here's the corner you see first when you walk into my room.

Don't you love that classrooms can be a work in progress?  I love that my classroom changes with my students.  For example, this bulletin board is already different.

This very important corner houses our two student desktops, our clipboards, our book boxes, and the Homework Hotspot, inspired by Young Teacher Love (yay Michigan teachers!!).  Also, I love that random outlet right up there by the top corner of my whiteboard.  No, seriously.  It seems so out of place, yet it opens up so many possibilities! Someday, I want a neon sign to hang on the wall and plug into that outlet!  What should it say?  Maybe something like "READ" or "YOU'RE LOVED" or "TRY IT." What would you put on a neon sign in your classroom?

Here's the opposite wall.  You can see our classroom library, waiting patiently for categorized, color-coded and labeled baskets.  I have our classroom non-negotiables posted on the wall.  Many thanks to Joanne Miller for those!  There's an anchor chart on the extra desks, waiting to be hung.  The short blue shelf in the back will hold math manipulatives.  But my favorite space in this area is the chalkboard!  

The chalkboard is my favorite because of how we use it to reveal student thinking.  We use a thinking routine called "Chalk Talk" from Ron Ritchhart.  I bought some chalk markers off Amazon.  Then, I used the markers to write three questions in thought bubbles on the chalkboard (shown here in red).  Students respond to the questions throughout the week, and then respond to the responses, until the board is completely filled with thinking.  It looks amazing in the classroom and I love that it gives every student a voice.  

Through this blurry picture, you can hopefully make out my small group instruction table.  I also tend to use this space during my planning time for grading and of course! planning.  

This wall features our growth mindset posters from Angela Watson, and our brag tags (we call them glad tags) from Jamie at Diary of a Not So Wimpy Teacher.  

If the chalkboard wasn't my favorite part of my classroom, THIS might be the favorite part.  I adapted Molly's door decor to fit the skinny wall next to our door.  It is colorful, full of truth, and so encouraging.  I love this daily reminder of what's important in our class. 

Thanks for taking a peek into my 3rd grade classroom!