Teaching Favorites (May, 2019)

I just finished my 26th year of teaching, and I can hardly believe it’s over already!  One of the best things about the ending of the school year is that I have time to reflect and to set goals.  One of my goals is to blog consistently (once a week on Sunday).  I plan on sharing strategies I’ve learned, mistakes I’ve made, and successes I have experienced.  One regular occurring post will be my monthly favorites.  At the end of every month I will share teaching resources, tips, and tricks that worked well for my classroom.  I’m starting off with this post with my favorites from May, 2019.

Ant Farm

Yes, I allowed these little, creepy critters into my classroom.  I am very grateful that there were no escapes!  The Ohio science standards require that second grade completes a unit on ecosystems.  Specifically, I was addressing the standard, “Living things cause changes on Earth.”  This standard focuses on changes that are easily noticed.   As you can see from the pictures below, these little guys can make some pretty quick changes!  (The second picture did make me a little nervous.  It really looked like they were plotting an escape!)

Having an ant farm is a great way for students to see how animals change the environment.

(Click on photo for product link.)

The students loved seeing the ants work together to create their tunnels.  In order for students to track the changes, I had them record their observations by drawing a picture and writing what they noticed as the biggest change.  We used the form below.  If you’d like to use them for your own ant farm observations, you can download the form here.

Having an ant farm is a great way for students to see how animals change the environment.

How to Steal a Dog

Let me first say that I do not promote dog stealing in my classroom!  However, I do promote read alouds that provide ample opportunities for quality discussions.  This book is a proven favorite for me and my students.

(Click on the picture below to see more details about this book on Amazon.)

A great read aloud for empathy and compassion!

The story starts off with Georgina, her mother, and her brother Toby losing their home and being forced to live in their car.  Understandably, this causes quite a bit of tension in the family.  Georgina eventually hatches a plot to save the family.  All she has to do is steal a dog, wait for the reward sign to appear, return the dog, claim the reward money, and her family is saved.  Of course, this plan did not even come close to going as expected.  It was heartwarming to watch students show empathy to Georgina and her family (as well as the poor woman whose dog got stolen!)  There are lots of great places to “turn and talk” and/or have group discussions in this book.  I highly recommend it!

*If you teach older kids, this book works great for book clubs.  That’s how I used it when I taught fourth grade.

Reading Conferences

If you follow me on Instagram, then you’ve likely seen a few pictures of professional books by Jennifer Serravallo.  She is one of my all time favorite mentors for teaching reading.  Last month, I read her new book on reading conferences.  It was full of great ideas for planning, organizing, conducting and recording reading conferences.

(Click on the picture below to see more details about this book on Amazon.)

A very thorough resource for planning, organizing, conducting and recording reading conferences!

My next two blog posts will be a mini-series on reading conferences.  I will include strategies I have used and modified over time as well as how I plan to integrate the wonderful tips I have learned through reading this book.  For now, let me say the book is definitely worth reading, and the online resources are fabulous!

Thank you!

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