Whew! It is done.  A new Unit. Whew, I"ll say it again because I am glad.  This unit is on Weather. We had our weather unit this fall. It was a lot of fun.  Here are some samples of what we did in the classroom.
Check out the unit here.

We emphasized  the four elements of weather-moisture, wind, air pressure and temperature.  My students were paired up and they created the posters.  We also sorted seasons and discussed why and how we have them. 

Each day for a week my students tracked the weather in their weather journals.  They had fun doing this and learned how to look up the weather on their i-pads. We also graphed the weather during our entire unit as you can see we had a lot of partly cloudy days.  

When we studied clouds we made these fun cloud posters.  The brilliant idea came from Jennifer White at First Grade Blue Skies.  You can grab her free unit here.
Here is a good look at the unit.  This is my unit preview.

Ok, so do you get why I said Whew! A little labor of love. I think I included it all. 
Now I'll be working on a little Christmas unit...

Turkey Facts

Turkeys, Native Americans and Pilgrims oh my! 
It is that time of year again.  Hear is a quick look at my 
turkey facts unit.
We wrote a poem on facts about turkeys!
Here is a sample page of the text on turkeys.
This is a great pack on informational text writing about turkeys.
Included in this pack....

Information on turkeys, graphic organizers for writing a poem or research paper and final draft pages.
Cards that contain information on turkeys is also included that can be displayed in a pocket chart for easy reference.

Also included is a turkey and penguin compare and contrast activity. This activity is to be done as a whole group lesson that you can do with your students that compares turkey characteristics to penguins.

Writing and learning about turkeys is a lot of fun and the information can be made into a great bulletin board when you have your students draw and paint a turkey!
Have a great week!
You can grab this unit here.

Monsters (Learning about Character traits)

It is getting close to Halloween and I am excited to share with you my monster lesson on character traits with all of you.  I like doing this lesson and activity during the Halloween season but this certainly can be done anytime of the year.   I created this unit because I wanted my students to understand character traits.  First your students will have to identify the different character traits of the monsters.  They will have to infer based on the details that are given for each character.  This is great practice because students will be required to identify character traits in texts.

First I read the monster posters to my students and display them where all my students can see them.

Then when I am done reading all the monster posters, we go through each character trait and discuss what they mean. They are on the colored frames. 

Then one at a time we reread the different monster posters and I have my students identify the character traits for each monster. I like to display the character traits with the monsters.

Then the next day, I have my students write and create their own monsters. 
Your students will have a greater understanding of character traits after this lesson and they will have a great time creating their own monsters.  Here are my students monsters.

Please check out the unit here.

Multi-age Classroom

This is my 18th  year teaching in a multi-age classroom so I am planning on having a number of posts on my experience teaching in this setting. I think you may be surprised that it actually may sound a lot like your own classroom. This post will highlight our goals and multi-age philosophy. 

My classroom is a mix of 1, 2 and 3 graders and is a choice for our parents in our district.  A multi-age grouping means that children are grouped together in one classroom and stay with the teacher for that period of time.  So typically I have my students for three years.  We also have siblings in the same room if parents would like it this way.  I have had many siblings in my classroom and it is wonderful to experience.  

 Our goals at a glance

-to allow children to evolve developmentally
-to encourage children to take personal responsibility for their learning
-to foster a cooperative spirit
-to celebrate individual differences
-to encourage risk taking
-to build leadership in all students
-to create a cohesive family atmosphere

Our multi-age philosophy

Our program recognizes that children are individuals and every child is unique.  The program accommodates the broad range of children's needs, their learning rates and styles, their knowledge, experiences, and interests to facilitate continuous learning.  It achieves this through an integrated curriculum incorporating a variety of instructional models, strategies and resources. 

Multi-age provides a classroom climate that is noncompetitive and encourages children to learn form one another, as well as from their teachers.  Diversity of skills and knowledge is accepted and accommodated by grouping and regrouping children for an effective instructional program.

I will be completely honest here and state that these goals, and the entire multi-age philosophy has been harder to facilitate these last years do to the rigor of testing, and the common core.  After all most multi-age classrooms started in the realization that children develop differently and that it didn't match the grade-level structure.  

I personally work toward these goals but the struggle is with the curriculum expectations and our students development.  I have always excepted where my students are in the learning process and teach to their needs.  I have had a variety of students from extremely high functioning to below average but I am always able to teach them at a continuous progress and they grow as learners. Having students for three years you see the process over an extended period of time.  That is probably the biggest benefit and highlight as a teacher to see your students grow and learn and they do not grow and learn all at the same time. I could go on and on here about some of the problems with the thinking of our educational and political leaders but my colleagues and I share the multi-age philosophy and vision of students and work the best at establishing this in our classroom.  Fortunately we have the support of our families.

So we continue to refine and and develop our multi-age program.   

Here are just a few benefits that I see in my classroom.

-My olders (3rd graders) have the opportunity to demonstrate helpfulness, reinforce learning skills, leadership, patience, and tolerance and model both social and academic behaviors for younger students.  (This is huge)  My third graders, olders we call them have a huge responsibility and every year I am always so proud of what they bring to the classroom.  When they are third graders I have already had these students for two years and by this third year they certainly have it figured out. They shine in the classroom and the youngers look up to them.  They display patience as they help the younger students and feel a sense responsibility to do this.   

-I am able to develop meaningful relationships with my students and share common experiences with them over a long period of time.  It is always sad to see them leave my classroom, I am grateful they just move across the hall and I still can check up on them.

Students here are reading together their reader's theater scripts. This one is from my FABLES unit.
Students here worked together to cut out pictures of adverbs, the groups were mixed and each group had a
different part of speech to work on.

These students are working together practicing a fairy tale play.  When you have a mixed group of learners, this type of activity is very engaging and the olders in my classroom take charge of the activity. The script the students are working on is from a fairy Tale unit.
I work hard to add creativity and art in my classroom, my students worked with help from their classmates to complete these desert animal creatures.  They also did a report on these animals.

That is all for now, please look for more posts soon on my multi-age classroom.

The Importance of Reading Fluently

Teaching your students how to become fluent readers should be a very important component to your literacy instruction.
Not too long ago I had the pleasure of attending a conference by Timothy Rasinski a professor and author of many books on fluency instruction, including The Fluent Reader.

Here are two important concepts I learned and are important to keep in mind.

Here is a brief look at a great way to directly teach fluency to your small groups of students.

Guided Fluency Instruction-Modeling

Directly teaching fluent reading to your students can be quite simple.  The first step is to model how to read the passage. As teachers this means you read to your students in a meaningful and expressive way while your students follow along.  The passage can be a little difficult for your students (at or slightly above their reading level.)  Reading the passage can be done a number of times stopping to talk about the words or passage, for example…how you used your voice to make meaning and how you paused at a period or comma. 

After modeling then students and the teacher read the passage together. This is fluency instruction with assisted practice.

In my classroom my students love to Echo read and I like to do echo reading with my students when the text is more difficult so my students can become more comfortable with the words in the text.  In echo reading the teacher reads a sentence or phrase and the students do the same right afterwards.  It is important that your students are following along and you will need to make sure of that.
Choral reading is another way that you can use assisted fluency instruction in your classroom.  The teacher and the student reads the passage together.
The last stage is when your students read the passage independently.  Repeated reading of text is important and the student should practice reading the text a number of times.  This works well for small passages, or poetry. After the student has read the text independently, listen to the student read the text again.  When the student has mastered this passage they move on to the next reading passage.
Reading fluency is key to success in reading and the lesson above is just one way to help your students become a more fluent reader.

My store is full of material to help students read fluently.
Here is a freebie for all of you to enjoy.
I use fluency phrases in my classroom. The students practice reading short sentences and phrases.

The students can earn certificates when they have read the phrases fluently within the pack.  My students love to read these phrases and are motivated by the characters.  These little phrase packs have worked great for transition times.  When I am busy helping others or getting organized to start the group my students will sit and read these cards independently.
Reader’s theater is a great way to practice reading fluency.  It works great in my 1-3 grade multiage classroom.  The younger readers can listen to and get support from a more advanced reader. My students work on using expression while they read and of course they reread and reread the reader’s theater scripts which help them become more fluent.  Then my students like to perform  the skits and that is super fun for all my students. Reader's theater can be incorporated across the curriculum. Here are some reader's theater units I have available in my store.
Thanks so much for reading and I hope this gives you some ideas on fluency instruction!

Library Labels and Back to School Sale

I am getting ready for the Back To School Sale on TPT.  Do I hear a "Yes!" I have many things on my wish list that I plan on purchasing.  I have also been super busy updating some of my products.  I am excited about the changes I made to my library label bins.  Our school had us purchase new bins and well my old labels just didn't fit so I had to fix that.  I am super happy with how they turned out.

         I made a ton of different labels and added many to this pack.    The best thing about this if you had purchased my library labels before,  just re-download this and it is yours. 

These labels also come with matching stickers for your books so
your students can put them back in the correct spot.
If you still need some library labels you can check them out here.
For the sale everything in my store
will be 20% off and with the code BTS15 you will get another
discount and you will save 28%.
Happy Sunday to you all! 

Assess Me!

I'm linking up with Rachel today for a fun little "get to know you" linky!

My assessment!
Jane Loretz
July 26, 2015
My wisdom teeth were taken out by a student oral surgeon.  One of the surgeons fainted in the other room and the one who took out my wisdom teeth left me with the a small section in the front of my chin numb as in forever,  so it must be nerve damage.  I was awake the whole time. I started laughing when I learned it was the dentist that fainted in the other room.  In my position I thought it was funny.  The oral surgeon didn't think I should have been laughing.  Hmm.. maybe that's why I had nerve damage. 
Have a good Sunday!
Don't forget to link up too!