Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Online Fitness/Support Group Starting Soon!

Hi Friends,

I am having so much fun with my July group of teachers wanting to improve their health, stay accountable, meet new friends, and possibly lose some pounds in the process!!  Words can't express how having a support system in place during a weight loss journey is so crucial. 

We workout out at home or in our own time, stick to meal plans we create, and check in on our closed Facebook group each night. I have even created contests and scavenger hunts to make it fun and motivating!  

It's a great way to start the beginning of the next school year (eek!) with a plan and support!

My next group starts July 28th. If you are interested in any of these things,  please e-mail me for details!  I promise you won't be sorry!  Here are my results so far!  

Email me at apieceoftheapple@gmail.com to join me!


Saturday, June 14, 2014

Care to Join Me?


I am on a journey of weight loss and a little soul searching. I don't have a magic pill or any secrets, but if you would like to join me in an online ladies group I am hosting, I would love to share my insights and successes with anyone who is interested. 

Leave me a comment with your email or email me directly for all the details!

We start July 1 for some mid-summer motivation!



Friday, June 13, 2014

100 Minutes: Chapter 6

Hi Friends!

When Beth at Thinking of Teaching extended the invitation to be a co-host of this book study, I immediately volunteered for several reasons.   As many of you know, I switched grade levels from fourth to first last fall.  I have spent so much time gathering resources, following blogs, and stalking Pinterest pinners, all in search of how best to structure my language arts block so that my students were engaged in meaningful, valuable, participatory activities.  100 Minutes has provided me with such a solid foundation, that I am prepared to hit the ground running next year.  Thank you to Beth, for including me, and to author, Lisa Donohue, for providing such a cohesive, and most importantly, easily incorporable guide.  If you missed out on Chpater 5, you can find it at Dilly Dabbles with Melissa.

The title of my chapter is called, “Exploring Different Purposes and Audiences.”  As I read the chapter, I became increasingly more excited and eager because Lisa provides us with SPECIFIC examples and suggestions to incorporate into our writing time which promote student engagement and creativity.  Ultimately, with her structure in place, the teacher is able to establish a foundation on which students can begin to build their writing pieces. 
Lisa first reminds us that we must teach our students to identify two components before beginning a writing piece.  First, we must identify our target audience.  Next, we determine the purpose of our writing.  With these two identifications in place, students are then guided through several steps within each text type.
Using Writing Prompts:  Students should be given time to discuss writing prompts prior to the actual pencil to paper activity occurring.  Students need time to talk and practice oral language skills in order to generate meaningful, thoughtful ideas in which to base their writing.  Teachers should take time to get to know his/her students’ interests so that prompts are relevant, engaging, and stimulating.  Topic input should be sought from the class.  Students should also be provided choice of what topics he or she wishes to explore.  Younger children may be given a few choices, where as it would be more appropriate to provide older students with a greater number.  Ideas can be stored on index cards or in a convenient, accessible area of the classroom.
Write to Reflect:  Students are provided time to reflect on a non-fiction event in which they had a personal experience.  Generally, they must provide an account in a sensible, chronological order and determine the significance and personal impact the event had on them.  Lisa provides several key questions a teacher may use to guide reflective student writing.  Students are guided to include sensory details and vivid descriptions.
Write to Entertain:  Writing to entertain is the story telling writing genre.  Here, students experiment with voice, character development, style, emotional cues, perspective, and word smithing. Lisa suggests using story building apps and graphic organizers to assist in properly constructing a well-structured story.  In this type of writing, we need to remind students to capture the attention of the audience, provide conflict and resolution, and use sequencing words for clarity.
Write to Inform:  This writing type is the report writing that we all do in some form.  We are reminded to review with students the different sources of information, how to site works, how to organize ideas, and how to cross reference or check for accuracy.  Students must be able to include an introduction of the topic, relevant supporting information, and a conclusion.  Of course, sequencing should be logical and supportive of the chosen topic.  Quotations should be included when appropriate.
Write to Convince:  When we write to convince, we want to persuade the reader to agree with our viewpoint based on what we write.  Students should be taught how to clearly state their opinion, use evidence to support their claim, and use proper organization and sources throughout the writing piece.  This type of writing is more formal in tone and should include a counter point if possible.
Lisa Donohue provides essential questions for each writing type in this chapter and also includes graphic organizers and writing prompt cards appropriate for many different ages.  Teachers can easily modify the content and structure of the resources she has provided.
Goals:  Now that I have a clear picture of what each writing purpose/audience looks like, it is time to bust out the binders and dividers and populate them with Lisa’s suggested prompts and organizers.  I would also like to do a side by side comparison of Lisa’s suggestions and my grade level CCSS to determine how best to start next year and determine sequence and cross curricular incorporation of writing standards into science and social studies to get the most out of each precious moment.
Stayed tuned for Chapter Seven, "The Foundation of Independence," over at Primary Inspired with Brenda.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

June Currently


Hi Friends! 

I am linking up with Farley over at Oh Boy, Fourth Grade! for June Currently. Enjoy!

Listening to..The World Wars show.  This three part series premiered on Memorial Day.  The first episode featured World War I, and the last two episodes showed how World War II unfolded.  I have watched all the episodes at least once, but I tend to be quilting, grading papers, or playing on my phone so I missed a lot of information! 
Loving the cooler weather.  May was a unusually hot for us here in Southern California.  As a result, my area fell victim to the wildfires.  We had a rough month and many of our families lost homes.

Thinking:I need to start doing report cards.  Sigh

Wanting:  a haircut.  I have thin hair and it is getting scraggly!

 Needing:: A clone!  This time of year is so busy.  We just finished Open House.  Up next: End of the Year benchmarks, parent gifts, Professional Development reflection forms, yellow and blue placement cards, report cards, and room pack up!

Summer Bucket List:  Continue losing weight and getting healthy, bind all my quilts, read for pleasure and for knowledge, enjoy the outdoors and travel





Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Wordless Wednesday

Hi Friends,

I'm linking up with Christina over at Sugar and Spice for Wordless Wednesday.  Here is a frustration I have had for 14 years!  How do I "select all" and "copy" my students' names so that I can get as many possible on a page.  When I have tried in the past, I always end up copying every name on one label.  Clearly, I don't know how to do this!  I print on one end and then turn it around and print on the other end!  Help

Thank you!


Friday, May 2, 2014

May Currently

Hi Friends,
I am linking up with Farley at Oh' Boy Fourth Grade for my first "Currently". I am super excited and a little nervous that I do it correctly, so wish me luck!

-listening to the air conditioner:  I am so lucky to live where I do, on the coast in San Diego county.  Most of my relatives are in Indiana, and they had a brutal winter.  We usually have perfect weather here.  This week has been hot!  84 degrees is no biggie with the air conditioning on at school, but when I am home it is a different story!  We have one of those old, portable air conditioning units we lug out of storage each year and display in the living room.  It ain’t pretty, but it works!

-loving that we are getting a raise!:  I opened my e-mail yesterday morning and our union bargaining team has met a tentative agreement for teachers to receive 3% raise, retroactively paid out since July 2013!  Yippee!!!

-thinking I should have done a wee bit more research on how to do all this linking, and buttons, and html code, and Rafflecopter stuff.  I can totally figure it out; I just wish I could talk/text/email with someone for an hour and get some tips.  Any takers? 

-wanting absolutely nothing!  I have had such a productive, positive, supporting, exciting week.  I am blessed beyond measure.  I would like a tasty fountain drink though.  I will settle for sparkling water.

-needing to exercise.  I am participating in a Virtual Boot Camp on Facebook with about 10 other ladies who I have never met.  We have a coach, and we check in with the group on FB each night to report what we ate, share recipes, and talk about what we did for exercise.  Most of us are doing the DVD Program called, “The 21 Day Fix”.  I am not a fan of exercise AT ALL, but I am loving this program and I don’t want to let my new exercise friends down.  Social media dieting is the way to go!  Last month, I lost 9 pounds and won $52 by betting on diet.com.

-Surprise!  Again, many thanks to Beth who invited me to participate in and cohost her book study for 100 Minutes by Lisa Donohue.  Beth is my first blog friend and tutor.  Many thanks!
Thinking of Teaching
Have a great weekend!

Thursday, May 1, 2014

100 Minutes Book Study

Thinking of Teaching
Hi Friends,

I am teaming up with some fellow bloggers to participate in a new book study. Beth from Thinking of Teaching selected 100 Minutes: Making Every Minute Count in the Literacy Block by Lisa Donohue.

I was really excited to get my hands on this book because it offers many ways to structure the literacy block that aren't Daily 5 based. I think Daily 5 is fabulous and jumped on board with it when I switched from fourth to first grade this year. I struggled with the management and upkeep. I put it on the back burner until I could reread the book and relaunch the program. That was in September! Do you think I have relaunched? Um, no.

I will be hosting one chapter and I will also be offering a mini give away of my own. My TpT shop is still "under development," so I am still figuring out what I will put up for grabs! Head on over  to Thinking of Teaching to learn all about this exciting book study and enter to win some cool stuff!

Happy Reading!


Monday, April 28, 2014

Egg-stra Special Art

     We are putting the final touches on our Peeps experiment write up, so I thought I would share what we did for art the week before Easter.

     I was feeling rather guilty that we didn’t do an egg hunt this year.  We aren’t allowed to have candy or sweets, and I didn’t have a spring party, so I got to thinking, “What can we do that is exciting, free, and engaging?’’

     My next-door neighbor and teacher friend was doing this really cool, intricate art project based on Rechenka’s Eggs.   Based on what I could see that was going on at the picnic tables outside our classrooms, there was some coloring and some black watercolor painting going on, monitored by a bunch a sweet parent volunteers.  Whatever it was, it looked amazing, but I didn’t have the expertise or the manpower to pull it off!

     Enter Jan Brett’s The Easter Egg book.  We are big Jan Brett fans in my room, and the kids are always up for listening to one of her stories, always paying close attention to the beautiful illustrations.  I am equally in awe.  After finishing our book.  I knew what we would do!

     I gathered some white construction paper, oil pastels, markers, and a whole bunch of Q-tips.  Since I taught fourth grade for a zillion years, I was certain that the firsties would also know the baby oil meets oil pastel trick. Boy, was I wrong!  They were mesmerized by the magical abilities of the oil!

Here are the directions to slip in your back pockets for next year.

-trace a large oval
-students design egg using patterns-no pictures, portraits, or landscapes
-trace the pencil lines with black marker

-color each section with oil pastels

-use Q-Tips and baby oil to blend color in each section
-cut and mount

Now you are all set for Easter 2015!


Thursday, April 24, 2014

Peeps Extravaganza! Part 1

April 24, 2014

Hi Friends,

I’m popping in to talk Peeps!  Last week, we jumped on the Peeps experiment bandwagon to see what would happen when we dunked our fluffy friends into five different liquids. 

We started off by watching a Brain Pop Jr. clip to review the scientific method. We are very fortunate to have a hands-on science lab at my site.  The kids visit the lab every other week to participate in experiments run by a credentialed elementary science teacher.  She chooses experiments that support the units we cover in class.  She teaches a lesson for  K-5 classes every day with only a five minute break/prep in between. To clarify, she teaches kindergarten and then they leave.  Then, she has five minutes to set up for first grade, and then we come.  After we leave, second grade comes.   Did I mention how lucky we are?

The kids are very familiar with lab procedures so we started by posing our question, “What liquid will make the Peeps dissolve the quickest?”  This question kinda bugged me because I am not sure if it’s grammatically correct…Maybe it should say, “….dissolve the most quickly?”  I.D.K.  All I know is that it’s been bugging me!

Students predicted if water, vinegar, soda, juice, or laundry soap would be the most efficient liquid to dissolve the Peeps.  I surveyed the class and we tallied our answers on a white board.  Next, I passed out a labeled bowl of each liquid to my table groups.  Since I have five groups of six kids at each table, the student who did not have a bowl was the supply monitor.  He or she was in charge of passing out the Peeps.  After each child had a Peep in hand, we gently placed each one into the liquids.  We made a quick observation of the color of the water upon starting the experiment and we noted that all Peeps started out purple.

 Fast forward 24 hours.  Within those 24 hours, we learned a few things.  Not only did some of the liquids dissolve the Peeps, they also dissolved the bowls I used.  I would have preferred to have used the hard, clear, plastic cups, but alas, the random bowls I had on hand were super appealing because they were free!!  After placing the leaky bowls onto plates, we noticed that two of the Peeps (at the same table, mind you) had completing disintegrated.  What in the world?  We did some deductive reasoning and quickly concluded that there had been some Peeps tampering.  Two sweet students “Pillsbury Dough Boy-ed” the Peeps’ bellies into ity bity bits of floating mallows.

 After the mangled mallows were discarded, we got back to business.  I had a representative from each table group bring the bowls up to the document camera.  We displayed each bowl-o-Peep and I gave the kids a few minutes to discuss their observations.  I recorded a “share” from each table group to be used later, during our lab write-up.  Lastly, I passed out the Peeps recording sheet.  Each student drew a picture of the Peeps after 24 hours of being submerged in the liquids.  They also recorded whether or not their prediction was correct.  Luckily for me, most of us were wrong.  In our experiment, the laundry soap, not the soda, caused the Peeps to dissolve the quickest.  My heart is full of relief and love as I can now go about drinking my Diet Coke in peace, knowing that my stomach lining is safe.

Tomorrow I will share how we turned the experiment into a writing lesson.

Erin J