Monday, October 20, 2014

Sweet Nomination - Liebster Award

After a weekend of traveling, there is nothing better than pulling into your driveway. My bonus was being greeted by my husband who didn't make the trip with me. I was also greeted by a lovely surprise in my inbox. My blog was nominated for the Liebster Award. Thank you for the honor of nominating my little blog, Kristin (A LoveLi Class)!
A LoveLi Class
This award goes to new bloggers with less than 200 subscribers. I'm new and certainly far away from having 200 subscribers, so I'm tickled by the distinction! 
As a nominee, I'm now tasked with answering 11 questions about myself and my blog, and then share this nomination with 11 other up-and-coming bloggers.

1. Why and how long ago did you start blogging?
My blog went live on January 3, 2014. I had decided that I wanted to blog, share my ideas, and really record the activities I did in class with my students. After the anticipation, nervousness, and scrambling in August, December is really when I feel inspired and fired up. The Christmas break was a perfect time to act on my goal of starting a blog. It's been a lot of fun, but you'll find that my blog entries are few and far between during first quarter.

 2. What one word sums up the heart of your blog and why? 
Fresh. Not necessarily to other teachers or followers, but the whole concept of blogging is so fresh to me. It's so fresh that I don't really see it as successful yet, but I really can't wait for it to ripen or bloom... It's so fresh, I'm not even sure what it will become. I'm also so fresh that I feel that I just blog like I journal.  No one is reading these entries but me.  

3. Is there something you learned late in your blog journey you wished you knew before? 
I felt like I started off pretty strongly. Early on, I did realize that purchasing a blog template was way less painful than creating one from scratch. There are tons of things I don't know about blogging yet! I'm still waiting to see what I wish I knew before, but I do want my blog to grow and for it to be helpful to others.

4. What is your favorite past time other than blogging
Well, my favorite is sleeping in like a teenager whenever that opportunity presents itself, but truthfully, photography has my heart. Luckily, I adore photographing children. When I'm not wearing my teacher hat or my blogger hat or my TPT seller hat, I'm running my business, Atwell Photography. I won't link you to the Atwell Photography website, because that site hasn't been seen since I started this blog. I do manage to update the Facebook page, though. This is from the current shoot that I'm editing at the moment.

5. How many hours per week do you dedicate to your blog? 
Mmmm... this time a year, the blog hasn't gotten a whole lot of love. I probably give about 5-6 hours to it. I will be revamping and populating a lot more during the Christmas break and through the end of the year.

6. What category of blog posts do you enjoy the most? 
My guilty pleasure is celebrity gossip blogs. Pretty embarrassing, but I do keep up with a variety of teaching blogs. I love sharing, and I love teachers that share. I'm also so inspired and in awe of the creativity of teachers that blog. I'm always thoroughly surprised by the many ways teachers adapt to meet the needs and interest of kids.

7. Where does your blog inspiration come from? 
Definitely not from one place. I follow tons and tons of inspirational teachers on Facebook and Instagram. The first fellow blogger that I really became a groupie of was Greg Smedley-Warren at Smedley's Smorgasbord of Kindergarten. Funny thing is I don't even teach kindergarten, but something about Greg's personality really resonated with me. Plus, I think he's so innovative. So much so, I stalked him at Atlanta's IKEA. That was such a great day!

8. Which post that you've written are you most proud of?
I'm most proud of my post about Liberia and Ebola - I Stand with You, Liberia. My, how it has progressed during that post. While proud of it, I'm upset with myself for not having posted more since. 
9. Is there any post you have been planning to do, but have postponing it for a while now? 
My goodness, yes. I've been working on a literature packet for eons now. I actually actively use everything in the packet on a daily basis, but the whole write-up is not complete. I'm teaching reading for the first time this year, so I'm still learning about the intricacies myself. I want to make sure my blog post makes sense.

 10. What is your favorite aspect of blogging? 
Simply, I like sharing. That's why it would be great if more readers stopped by. But I know there's so much information out there.  Bloggers are taking over my internet!!  =)

11. Which recipe, project, or idea on my blog would you be most likely to try yourself? 
How in the world do I pick one?? Can't do it. I love everything in your Monday Made It post! I even have that same mailbox. Unfortunately, I have 2 students in two classes in my classroom. It's stripped away a lot of my creativity this year.  =(

My Liebster Nominees:

I'm looking forward to a few of you hopefully all of you completing the questions, they were actually really good and I learnt a lot about myself :)

 Now that you've been nominated, here are the "official" rules for accepting:
1. In your post, link back to the blogger who nominated you as a thank you and "shout out."
2. Answer the 11 questions given to you (the ones I answered above).
3. Nominate 11 blogs of your choice that each have less than 200 followers. Provide them with 11 questions to answer or have them answer the questions above.
4. Let your nominees know that they've been nominated and provide them with a link to your post so that they can accept.
5. Send your nominator a link to your post so that s/he can learn more about you as well! (You can just put your post link in the comments below!)

Saturday, October 11, 2014

It's All About Character

I feel like I'm pulling out of a rut. I like this feeling in October. I'm so happy to report that a few mornings have been crisp, cool, and dry enough for straight hair. I mean, is there a better register indicating fall than frizz-free hair? It reminds me that the nights will be cooler, and the darkness will set in earlier, inspiring me to create new things for my students for the remainder of the year and the beginning of next year.

We are currently working on character traits and comparing and contrasting features in text in 5th grade ESOL reading. For scaffolding purposes, I thought that short passages would work best for the students, so I created this packet with short reading passages that introduce students to 10 different characters. The goal is to have students focus on character trait descriptions rather than appearance descriptions. Using character trait word banks (and for my entering and developing students a translation of character traits list), I have students read the short stories aloud and brainstorm as partners or a small group what character traits describe the character. Sometimes I add my input to model more challenging vocabulary. Answers must be based on characters interactions, feelings, and words.

Once we've read and written directly on the story with a Vis-a-Vis markers, which I've laminated for repeated use, I ask the students to come up with a way to sort the characters. They are in charge of coming up with their own way to sort - good/bad, boy/girl, young/old, etc. 
After the sorting exercise, each student draws two cards from the deck of character cards. On the constructed response sheet, the student lists the two characters they chose. They can either copy the character traits or try to come up with new ones. The question asked of them is "Would these two characters get along? Why or why not? Explain your answer and be sure to cite examples from the text." I preface their responses by leading them to think about how the characters would act if the two characters were in a new setting like a party or the store. 
I was amazed that my two students really grasped the concept and enjoyed thinking beyond the obvious when listing the character traits. For every character trait they chose, I would ask them to tell me why they chose it.

Enjoy the photos. I felt it was a triumphant lesson, and we had lots of fun. Even my student that NEVER speaks participated heavily today and even smiled a few times. Win!!!

If you like this lesson, please hop on over to Teachers Pay Teachers for the complete packet, including anchor charts, character stories and cards, and the constructed answer sheet. It's very easily adapted for all levels, especially with an adjusted amount of scaffolding. Your feedback is greatly appreciated.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Elements of a Story

Aw! My sweet second graders. These were my students for two whole weeks before our ESOL schedules messed up the entire school's schedule for about six weeks. I actually had some of these precious 2nd graders last year, so I was thrilled about the thought of looping with them and continuing to work on their strengths and their confidence in my room. I can't help but get a little emotional when I watch this little educational diddy we made in class. I called this class my bucket fillers because they had a way of making me smile every day.

In concert with the W questions of who, what, where, why, and hoW <--- See the W! I taught the kids this chant I found online that I thought would be very helpful. I love utilizing song and gestures to help the ELs with academic language. Elements of a story will continue to come up in their academic careers, so it was important for me to help them retain the story parts. I'm thrilled to report that they really GOT this song in just a couple of days and were so excited about making the video. Can I also add that days after watching the video with me, my husband has been going around singing, "the characters, the characters." Hilarious! It really has the ability to stick, which is exactly what we want for our students.