Text Features is definitely one of my favorite things to teach and review with my kiddos! It's such a huge component of informational text. I make it my mission to have my kiddos become text feature experts by the end of the year. 
Not only is it important for them to be able to identify text features, but they must also be able to interpret them and understand why they are included in the text.
This year I introduced text features by playing the Flocabulary song: Text Features (If you are not a member of Flocabulary, I suggest you get on it! It's a website filled with rap song videos to match different skills across content areas. A couple of teachers and I split the cost of the membership and it has been totally worth it!)

Afterwards, I modeled reading a passage and identifying the text features in it. The students labeled the text features on their own version of the passage. We discussed the features and how they helped us better understand the text. 

The students then created a flap book with the definition of each text feature in their reading notebooks. 
The next day, the students walked into class to find a surgery room setup! I covered their tables with baby blue butcher paper and each student had gloves, surgical cap, and face masks waiting at their desks. (I purchased all of these items on Amazon)


I explained that it was time for Text Feature Surgery! Each student had a Text Feature booklet with a page for each feature. The students were asked to search through different magazines and cut out the text features and paste them on the correct page. 

I sent a letter home the week before the text feature surgery asking parents to donate a school-appropriate magazine for the activity. You can download the letter HERE



I searched "Heart Rate Monitor" audio on YouTube to set the mood. I told the kiddos that they had to be completely silent and concentrated on their surgery. Any little distraction might hurt their patient. ;) 

This was such a fun activity! My students absolutely LOVED it and it really helped them learn those text features! We review text features every time we read an informational text.
I decided to use some of their work as anchor charts around the class. They refer to these anytime we discuss text features. 

At the end of the week I assessed them using this simple cut & paste activity. 

All of these resources are part of my Text Feature Activity Pack

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Since I am so pleased with the way everything turned out, I joined forces with some other amazing TPT sellers/bloggers to bring you a little Blog Launch Giveaway.
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Prepping for the new school year means loading up on task cards, center activities, and GAMES! I'm very big on making the learning environment a fun and organized one. After attending the "Get Your Teach On" conference in Orlando hosted by the AH-MAH-ZING Hope King, I became instantly inspired! Her creativity and genius ideas are seriously something to look up to. If you haven't heard about her.... uhm... you need to head to her blog and watch all of her videos like now
Elementary Shenanigans
One of my favorite things from her conference was her giant Jenga game. She uses a Jenga game to review import skills and test prep with her kiddos. Here's how it works:
She colors the ends of her Jenga pieces. Each color represents a certain skill. (EX: Red-Rounding, Yellow-Multiplication, Purple-Division, etc.)
Luckily, I found this beautiful Jenga game on Amazon for only $13.99! No need to color or get crafty. 
Leo Classic Colorful Wooden Tumbling Tower

I created cards to correspond with each color. These focus on the math skills we will be doing in third grade, however they can work great for beginning fourth graders. 



Here's how to play:
1. Students decide which Jenga block they want to move. (They can also use the rolling dice included in the Amazon Jenga game)

2. Before they can move the block, they must answer the corresponding question. (EX: if they want to move a RED block, they must answer question #1 on the red question card. If another player has already answered that question, then they would answer #2.)

3. ALL of the students playing must agree with the answer in order for the student to be able to move his/her block. (This allows each student to be held accountable during the game.)

4. The next player repeats the steps until someone knocks down the tower just like regular Jenga. :) 


This resource includes B&W version so that you can customize it to fit any colored Jenga pieces. Simply print the questions on colored card stock. It also includes an editable template so that you can create your OWN questions. 

You can find my Math Review Jenga Question Cards in my TPT store.

The best thing about this Jenga game is that it can be customized for any subject/skill/grade level. It can be designed to fit the needs of YOUR students!

You can watch Hope King's video on how she uses Jenga in the classroom below:

Even though it's summer, it's really hard to turn my teacher brain off. One of the major causes for this issue--Pinterest. I don't know what teachers (or people in general) did before Pinterest existed. 
I've spent my summer searching for classroom ideas, decorations, & organizational tips. 
If you don't follow my Pinterest account-- Follow HERE
This month's "Top 3 Pinterest Picks" includes 3 ideas that i've pinned this summer which I plan incorporate into my classroom.

I found this amazing blog post written by Sandy at Soaring Through Second about using Google Forms as a way of tracking parent/student contact information at the beginning of the year. It is pure GENIUS! I don't know about ya'll, but I always find myself chasing after students at the beginning of the year to return all of their emergency contact paper work. Using Google Forms, you simply provide parents a link and they can quickly fill out the paper work on their iPhone or computer. It keeps all of the information organized for you in columns such as: Parent Name, Phone Number, Allergies, Address, etc. I might even set up a computer "station" during parent night at the beginning of the year. That way parents that don't have access to a computer can fill out the documents on the spot!

My supply list this year will include these four highlighters. How awesome is this idea?! I usually ask my students to underline the question, circle key words, and box the information that proves their answer. These highlighters are like a little "Close Reading Kit" and I LOVE it! You can grab the labels for free HERE

Transitioning into Common Core and new state testing, I find that the most difficult part for my kiddos is writing down their evidence and explaining it. I love this bulletin board with sentence stems! It's perfect to help get them started on explaining their answers. I had a similar anchor chart last year, but this one if just fabulous and colorful! (Goes perfect with those highlighters up there) 

Check out some other great pins below! 

Spending 7 hours sitting inside of a classroom can be exhausting for not only students, but teachers as well! I had the pleasure of working with the most hyperactive and energetic class this school year. They were BRILLIANT, but the majority of them could not stay still for 5 minutes. This school year consisted of lots of reflection from my part. I spent much time trying to brainstorm engaging ideas that would get my kiddos MOVING, while still being engaged and on-task.

So, here are 8 activities & ideas that worked for my class. Let's just say, at the end of the school year when my kiddos were asked to write about their "Favorite Third Grade Memories", the majority of these activities were on their list.

 


Cocktail Discussions
Don't worry, there no alcohol required for this. ;) This was actually a great strategy I learned at a CRISS training (I've you've never taken one of these trainings, I highly recommend it! Tons of engaging ideas!) It is very similar to a think-pair-share but with an active twist. I usually use cocktail discussions at a beginning of a brand new lesson just to see what students already know about a specific topic. They are a great way of introducing weekly essential questions.

I write the essential question on the board and circle it. Example EQ: How can we help make the Earth better? The students copy it down in their notebooks and create a web around it. I then set a timer for 2-3 minutes. The students must walk around the room and form a group of 5-6. The groups are usually formed on each of the four corners in the classroom. If the students walk up to a group that has already exceeded the amount of members, they must quickly go and find another group. At their groups, they discuss the topic. Students record information discussed amongst members or any new ideas. After the 2-3 minutes are over and the buzzer goes off, the students must walk around the room and form a new group. (Yes, some of the old members might overlap and that's okay! As long as it's not the exact same group as before.) The students brainstorm new ideas with this group and share any ideas gathered from the previous group. This process can be repeated 3-4 times. The activity is concluded with a whole-class shared discussion.


 Musical Chairs
My kiddos loved this activity and begged me to do it everyday! I used this as a review for 2-digit multiplication, but it can be used to review any kind of skill. Here's how it works: I place the review sheet or activity on each desk. Once the music starts, the students move around the room ---dancing, wiggling, doing the dab.... whatever makes them happy. Once the music stops, they have to find an empty desk, sit down, and solve the first problem. The music starts again, they repeat the process and solve the next problem. I didn't take away any chairs like the typical musical chairs because that would leave kids without an opportunity to solve any problems. It's very important that all students are held accountable during games. There shouldn't be any students sitting out doing nothing.

Scoot!
Scoots around the room are a great way to get your students moving. The best part is that they can be done with any kind of task cards that you may have handy! Simply place the cards around the room (make sure they are numbered) and give each student a response sheet. I pick two numbers at random from my popsicle stick bucket and that determines the buddies that will be working together on the scoot. Each pair starts at a different task card placed around the room. They move around the room answering each card until they have reached their starting point. This can also be done using a timer, but it can be a bit stressful for those students that work at a slower pace.


Vocabulary Charades
Every Thursday I give a group of 3-4 students a vocabulary word. (I whisper it in their ear so no other group can hear it) The students brainstorm a mini skit that will help the rest of the class guess what word they are acting out. The kiddos get so creative with this and even incorporate props from around the room!

Learning "Hut"
St.Patrick's Day happened to land on the week right before state testing this school year.I knew that my students only had a week to prep for the test, but I also wanted them to enjoy the holiday! I set up themed centers to review each of the skills that would be on the test. I did this for math and reading.One of their favorite centers was the "Leprechaun Cave". All I did was hang a green tablecloth over my reading corner to create a little 'hut'. The students worked on elapsed time in there with a student teacher. (I would recommend supervision in that center since you can't really see what's going on inside.) They had so much fun they didn't even realize they were really prepping for the test!
Bucket Review
This is very similar to the room scoots, you would just be using little buckets. Place buckets around the room (You may even want to 'hide' them for some extra fun!) The students must pick up the question inside, answer it, and move on to the next bucket. I found these cute envelopes in the Target dollar section last year and they were perfect for hiding review questions inside:
Take it Outside!
I LOVE being outside, especially with the beautiful Miami weather. Students get to move around and it's a nice change of scenery. During a lesson on shapes, I took my students out to the field and called out different shapes. EX: octagon, quadrilateral, triangle, etx. They had to find enough students and create the shape using their bodies. Easy, fun, and meaningful!
Get Ride of the Desks!
Flexible seating? YES! I have not completely gotten rid of my desks and chairs because I doubt my school would be okay with that. But I do allow my students to work wherever they want whenever it is time for group/buddy work. My students love sitting on the floor to do work. The minute they're sitting on the floor, the level of engagement rises immediately.It really is magical..

Kids will be kids! We surely can not expect them to stay sitting in a desk 8 hours a day without acting up or getting off-task. I know I sure can't! I hope these ideas can help you in your own classroom! :)
Hey Hey! It's been a while! It's been a crazy school year and let me just say that I praise those teachers that find the time to teach, TPT, network, blog, and deal with their personal lives. It's not an easy load! 
I finally got a product done for TPT and it only took me about....
75 months? That's pretty accurate...
Okay, okay... It took me a very long time to complete this product, but I am pretty content with the outcome. Mainly because it is something I incorporate in my classroom DAILY and has served as an amazing instructional tool. My students LOVE their interactive notebooks. They show them off with pride and take their time organizing resources and information neatly. (I tell them that administrators will walk in sporadically throughout the school year to look at their *BEAUTIFUL* notebooks) 

Grammar is also something I feel is essential in every day instruction. Specifically because I frquently come across adults that can't differentiate between 'they're', 'their', and 'there'. Grrrrr. 
#teacherprobz 
This product was designed for my third graders and includes all of the third grade Common Core standards. However, I have taught second and fourth grade and find that the majority of these grammar skills are also touched up on in those grades. 

Interactive notebooks allow students the freedom to express themselves and visualize important concepts. They serve as a note-taking tool and personal resource. Nonetheless, they also include practice of each skill, which can be used as classwork or assessments.

Let's keep in mind that there is lots of cutting and gluing involved when creating pages for interactive notebooks. It can  will get messy!

 Here are some tips:

- Request each student to bring an empty pouch at the beginning of the year. This is a great place to store pieces that have been cut out and haven't been glued yet. I tried using ziplock bags for these pieces, but my students kept losing their bags. (10 boxes of ziplock bags later, I realized a pencil pouch was a better idea.) 

- Get a small garbage can for each table/group. I bought mine at the Dollar Tree and they're great! The table captain gets them from the shelf whenever we start a cutting activity. 

-Fill their caddies with supplies- this way students do not have to get up to get glue, scissors, crayons, etc. 

-Sometimes students can cut the pieces at home and bring them in the following day to assemble their notebooks. I usually do this for bigger projects that are a more time-consuming.


Now, here's a sneak peak inside some of the pages of my Grammar Interactive Notebook








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