Thematic Units, Common Core, and Text-based Questions

This year, I've been blessed to be working in a school with a positive atmosphere.  I LOVE, LOVE my 4th graders, the parents, and my work family (can you feel the <3?)

The biggest hurdle (other than the regular "getting used to the newness") is that our school chose to forego the use of a basal (BLAH to the basal!) and use authentic literature instead (YAY!).  Although it's been time consuming to find literature to teach certain skills and find ways to do the formal assessments, I'm going to post my progress here so I can refer back to it year after year (and share it too)...

I purchased a few resources to help me along the way.  First, I bought Nicole Shelby's Reading Interactive Notebook.  Second, I bought a Curriculum Map for Thematic Units on the Common Core website.  Oh!  I forgot to mention, my school also wants us to use thematic units as we teach, too (more "newness" lol).  Here is a run-down of what I've used and taught, etc...

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Setting Up My Classroom - Day 1

I am so fortunate to be working at a school where my little boy can be right next door.  I'm a first time mom and I feel at ease knowing he's just steps away.

On to my classroom...

After renting a cargo van and lugging two van-loads of my things, I finally got a chance to begin working in my new classroom at my new school.  It's much larger than my previous two classrooms with ample storage.

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New beginnings...

Greetings all!

I'm so excited (and anxious) to begin a new chapter in my teaching career.  First, I moved to a new school.  Still teaching 4th grade (thank goodness).  I was offered an opportunity to teach 6th but let me tell you, I can literally roll out of bed - even if my little one decides to wake up at 3am - and teach 4th grade.  So I'm thrilled to be staying in my "comfort zone"... At least for now.

I've got so many ideas brewing in my mind *rubbing my hands together* and would LOVE to hear what you all have up your sleeve for this coming year.  Here is what I've got cookin':

Lovin' these "book sleeves".  Definitely going to invest the $0.77 x 22 to get these bad boys!

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Getting back into the swing of things...

My last few days as a stay-at-home-mom are coming to a close... Thus begins the mad dash of anxiety to get back in "teaching mode".

Currently, my students are reading a novel together in class... It's not a regular thing for me to assign one novel for ALL kids to read.  Usually, I have them choose groups and choose a book from my book club collection that's on their level.  They map out their readings and assignments then discuss them in class.

But my sub (with the help of my wonderful teammates) chose a really good book from our book room.  My school doesn't have a traditional library.  Instead, it has class sets of various chapter books.  Tucked away on the shelf was a little gem: The Adventures of Charlie Pierce: The Last Egret.

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Mother's Day and Earth Day

*sigh*

So I'm a new mom (yay!).  I've been on maternity leave for 9 weeks.  My little guy is such a great baby (not that I have anything to compare it to - but I've heard worse stories about other kids).  With that being said, we've pretty much mastered the afternoon nap and thus, TIME TO WORK ON SOME PROJECTS!  Here's my man :)



I just finished my Mother's Day Writing Craftivity for Primary.  I had my "nieces" make some samples. Here is the one by the first grader. She listed main ideas on her plan and added the details to her essay:

Her plan


Pages from her Essay to Mom

The template is available in my TPT store for just $2!


Now I'm working on something for Earth Day... which is RIGHT around the corner!  Stay tuned!



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Spring Sale

20% off Sale in my TPT Store!!

***Hop in for Spring Deals***
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Nonfiction Reading

I feel so out of the "bloggy world"!!  I have a LOT going on now.  Expecting our first little one has made me so discombobulated I don't know what to do with myself lol.

But back to blogging...

I don't know about you all but our principal has set an expectation of reading nonfiction text 3 times each week.  I can't say I disagree with her as I see every year our benchmark scores in "reference and research" fail by the wayside.  Our school takes a countywide benchmark test each December which gives the teachers and parents a snapshot of how each student is doing in each of the strands of reading and math.  And EVERY year, nonfiction reading is by far the lowest scoring of each strand.

When you think of it, kids in elementary school usually choose fiction novels as their independent reading text.  Who can blame them??

In order to combat this, I had an idea that popped into my head one evening (between updating my baby registry and making a focus calendar to the end of the year for my team to use in my absence).

I decided to try out blogging with my fourth graders.  My class website is on Blogger and I gave my kiddos a "Nonfiction Challenge".  I have to say, those who participated, did an amazing job!

I do take it as a Participation Grade for reading so I hope more students will jump on the wagon this week.  Nonetheless, if I don't MAKE it a grade, many of my students won't do it...

Only one alteration need to be done... Students must have a Gmail account and they must be 13 in order to get one.  Therefore, I had to inform the parents that they would either need to a) make their birthday 1999, b) allow their child to use a parent's Gmail, or c) they could do the assignment on paper and turn it in for credit.  I also need to tell the kids and parents to change their post names so their full name isn't showing...

All in all, the first week was exciting for both the students and me.  It was cute to read their responses :)

Check out their work.


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