Friday, March 14, 2014

Meet Crystal... and some March Madness fun!

Hey, friends!

My name is Crystal  from Once Upon a Classroom: The Tale of Two Teachers. My blogging partner, Marie and I are thrilled to be a part of this collaborative blog!

Let me tell you a little about myself:
I was born and raised in Naples, Florida. Although this is a beautiful place to visit, I am now living in the amazing Chicago, Illinois! I am currently in my 9th year teaching. I earned my teaching degree at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. (GO BIG RED!) After graduation, I moved back to Naples, Florida and taught there for 6 years. My first 3 years were in an ESE inclusion classroom of 2nd graders. Then, I moved to another great school where I taught 2nd and 3rd grade multi-age for 3 years. Both schools provided me with an excellent start to my teaching career and allowed me to grow in so many ways! However, I decided that Naples wasn't the place for me to stay forever and decided to move to Chicago. I applied at what felt like every district under the moon and was blessed to earn a teaching position in Winfield, IL where I would teach 5th graders! This scared me at first, but I was soon okay after meeting another new teacher there, Marie. She was also a new teacher and we instantly connected. After teaching there for two years, I realized I needed a new change and my commute from the city to suburbs was killing me. I applied and got my dream job teaching 1st grade in the city. I am over the moon in love my school, colleagues, parents, kids, you name it. Each day, I am challenged by these lovely little children and know I have grown so much this year. Although they are 1st graders, we teach one grade level above. The products that I create follow 2nd grade Common Core.

Outside of school, I love to explore Chicago and be outside! Living only two blocks from Wrigley field makes it quite the place to live. I am currently training for my first marathon and loving every second! It's quite challenging, but I love motivating myself. My family and boyfriend are so supportive and the best cheerleaders.

Now, on to fun school stuff... March Madness!!

We are working on expository writing and responding to reading. Well, we decided to spin this one into nominations for a "Tournament of Books!" Great, right? I'm so thrilled about it and the kids can hardly wait! Let's take a look at what this looks like in the room...

First, we talked about nominating books and why books receive awards. I modeled how to create a t-chart that show my two favorite books. Each of these, we have read together, so the students helped me come up with reasons for why they deserved awards.

The students practiced this on their own. They did a great job! Little did they know that they were in the beginning stages of writing an expository piece! (FIRST GRADERS!!) Wahoo! Next, we talked about how the book we choose should be one we are passionate about and can write a lot! I chose my favorite book, Air Mail to the Moon. Then, we examined my reasons and chose the top three that I could write about.

On this anchor chart, I put colored boxes around them to match the map that we will use during our pre-writing stage. From there, I have modeled how to transfer them onto their maps, write introductions, and add detail (rationale) to support their reasons. In addition, the students are using their books to find proof and quotes from their books. It has been so amazing to watch! Check out their work so far! Today, we will finish up their conclusions and get ready to write sloppy copies next week! Just in time for March Madness! Thankfully, I have a huge wall outside my classroom that will work perfectly to create the brackets. I haven't quite figured out the voting process yet, but that will come.

Yay for getting children excited about writing! (especially the boys!) ;)

Check out the whole product below!
March Madness: Tournament of Books

Also, because I love a good freebie, go check this one out!
Read to Someone Bookmarks

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