In my classroom, we are finally starting to get ready for Halloween! Hawaii doesn't have traditional seasons, so I don't do too much about fall.  We don't have any apple orchards so it doesn't make sense to do apple week.  We don't have trees with leaves that turn colors and drift to the ground, so we don't do too many activities around leaves and trees.  But we do have a local pumpkin patch and a long tradition of Halloween!

To gear up, I busy prepping my Pumpkin Life Cycles and Experiments unit.  I know the kiddos are going to enjoy exploring the scientific method while counting seeds, experimenting with pumpkins, and even tasting the seeds!

We talk about spiders, especially since there is currently a huge cane spider living in our classroom! Last week we made an adorable spider subtraction craft that my colleague Lora-lea made a few years ago.  Lucky for you she gave me permission to re-create it and share it with all of you! Thanks Lora-lea!  They're hanging in my room and are a fun, glittery decoration for fall! 

Click the picture to download your copy for FREE!

I enlisted the help of my son tonight.  First he colored the spiders and the border around the word problem. 

Then he drew a web with a white crayon and squeezed some Elmer's glue onto it.

Then sprinkled with glitter.


Shook the glitter off, then glued the spiders and word problem paper on.  

Another way I like to decorate is by using fun containers and manipulatives in math.

I downloaded this freebie Mixed Addition Halloween center game from my friend Fern.  We started addition a few weeks ago, so this is perfect! I printed, laminated, and cut the game pieces and placed them in this fun pumpkin basket I got at the craft store.  I then threw in 12 bat rings for the kids to use as manipulatives.  Luckily, the little bag of rings I got at the store has 100 in them, so I have plenty to give out to the kids and replace in case one turns up missing.  No biggie! 

So now, you might be wondering about all these extra goodies I've purchased, like baking materials for the pumpkin pie in a crock pot recipe from my Pumpkin Experiments pack, the pumpkin basket and rings from the game, or even the glitter for the craft.  That's where Coupons.com comes to my rescue!  You can search their site for coupon codes and get them for stores like Michaels, OfficeMax, and even Target! Check out The Good Stuff here! 

Right now there is a Coupons.com Halloween Creepstakes going on.  The Creepstakes gives you the chance to win $100 in daily prize giveaways and a $3,000 grand prize.  It ends October 31, so hurry quick!

One last goodie - check out this post from last year to snag my freebie Halloween goodie bag toppers! :)
Hello there! My Bright Idea for October is all about using these spiffy whiteboard dots for small group instruction! 




A few months ago I was making an OfficeMax run and happened upon these cool adhesive whiteboard dots, called Wall Pops.  They are made to go on a wall in an office or cubicle, but I thought "Hey, those would be cool on my guided group table!" 

So now, every time my students come to my table for either reading or math groups, they bring their marker and little eraser I got in the Target dollar section a few years ago.  

Here we are in reading, doing a little short e dictation warm up before reading our guided book.


In math we are working on number sense as well as basic addition.  I found these laminated ten frames in my room when I moved in this summer and they have been great for subitizing.  We've also been working with Rekenreks, so the kids are getting good at recognizing 5's and 10's.


We are also learning basic facts, including turnaround facts.  The kids loved using dominos and writing the turnaround facts! 
I love that these are quick and easy.  The kids love writing on the tables, making group time a novelty.  I love it when I hear them say, "Yes! Group time!"  You can do so many different activities as quick warm ups with these, the possibilities are endless!

If you liked my Bright Idea, please consider following me on Bloglovin' or Instagram

Don't forget to visit my friends in the hop and read all their awesome ideas, too! 
I'm over at Owl-Ways Be Inspired today sharing some freebie headers that I made for my Reading Wonders Focus Wall!

Owl-Ways Be Inspired


You can snag my headers for FREE, as well as that ah-dorable Close Reading banner from the top of my bulletin board that was sweetly made by Nicole Alderson from Rowdy in Room 300!



Click any picture to go snag the freebies from the Owls blog! :)
I'm back for my final installment of the Teaching with Intention by Debbie Miller book study! We will be discussing chapters 7 & 8 today.


To start at the beginning of this book study with me:
If you are interested in getting college credit from Concordia University for joining this book study, you can get all the details hereIt costs $127 and you can join in just by following along and sharing your thoughts in the comments. At the end of the book study, you will have to complete a written assignment summarizing what you learned and how you will apply it.

Don't forget to make your Book Study Journal!

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Chapters 7 & 8


On page 99, I underlined and wrote "WOW!" next to this quote: 
"We don't attach grades to this kind of work [classroom activities, like the file folder sticky notes]; instead, we consider the implications for next steps.  The time for grading comes at the end of the teaching and learning process, not during it."
This reminds me of the Touch Points from the CAFE program by the Two Sisters.  When they meet and confer with students they assign a quick 1-4 rating for how well the student grasps the concept.  I like this type of informal, formative assessment, but I always thought that we should take these into consideration for grades.  We would look at student grades (or Touch Points) over the course of the grading period and see if the student improved or not.  If the Touch Points started out as 1's and 2's, but then gradually increased to 3's and 4's, the student would receive a Meets grade.  But if the Touch Points only showed a few 3's and the rest 2's, then the student would receive a Developing grade.  How does your grading work? Would you take these Touch Points into consideration for your grades or only summative assessments? 

 When I was first learning about the CAFE model for reading instruction, I tried to make a pensieve and flip through the pages in my binder to take notes for my students' learning.  I found the binder cumbersome and I was not good at using it.  Last year I made simple little sheets to keep track of what my guided reading groups were working on for planning purposes and also to keep notes on students, since I shared students with another teacher for reading, I wanted to be able to give her my notes for report cards.  I wanted it on one sheet so I wouldn't lose it.  In theory, I like Debbie's idea of notebooks for her students, but I feel that I would get overwhelmed with one more thing to keep track of and I'm afraid I wouldn't utilize them as much as I should.  I need to "Keep It Simple" (like Debbie says in chapter 8!).


Right now, I'm more about "getting through the book."  I hate to say that outloud and to share it with all of you! My school is implementing a new curriculum, Wonders, and we have to teach it with fidelity.  We have to do all the mini lessons and close read 2 stories a week whole group.  There is just so much to get done! I feel like I can't breathe sometimes.  And I feel like I can't take the time to use strategies that I know help engage students in learning and reading.  I know once I get a hang of the curriculum it will get better, but right now it's just plain hard.  Please help me feel like I'm not the only one here! 

I am keeping it simple by using the one page reading groups planning sheet each week.  I am keeping it simple by doing Daily 5 centers where I don't have to change much each week.  I am keeping it simple by teaching buddy reading routines that we can use with our literature anthology stories each week.  We don't do a reading workshop structure, because I have so much to teach whole group from the basal, but I do want to add a sharing time to our schedule.  Research shows that kids learn best by teaching a concept to someone else.  I think it will be worth it to make time for this important activity.  

I currently teach a whole group lesson from my mandatory basal, then meet with 2 guided reading groups a day.  In the afternoon, we have Read to Self time while I meet with my intervention group.  If I cut my intervention group shorter by just 5 minutes, I should have time to do a quick conference with at least 2 students a day.

The Two Sisters call a simple conference a "Dip and Tip"  They "dip" in next to a student to listen to them read.  They compliment them on something they are doing well and then give them a "tip" for how to improve.  This goes along with what Debbie does, too, but she takes it a step further by having the student articulate the new learning, both for themselves and for others while they share.  Bringing in the sharing aspect of the reader's workshop is something that I don't currently do, but I want to add it into our day.  

Now it's your turn! What did you think about this chapter? Just chime in on the comments!
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