September 29, 2015

A Home on the Nile: To Build or Not to Build?

Gifts of the Nile River

The Nile River runs through the middle of Egypt.

Most of the country is desert.

On each side of the river there is a strip of fertile land.

In ancient times the Nile flooded and spread rich, black silt over the land every year.

The main crops were wheat and barley for making bread and beer.

They could sail up and down the Nile trading goods they had made or grown.

The waters of the Nile were also used to water the land next to the river.  This is called irrigation.

Their calendar was based on the annual rise and fall of the river.

The Nile also provided protection from enemies.

The ancient Egyptians started making paper from the papyrus plant.

STUDENTS: Based on what you know about the Nile River and the poem above,
do you think it would be a good idea to build a house close to the banks of the Nile River?

Introduce the topic.
State your opinion.
Give reasons and evidence to back your opinion.
Restate your opinion.

** Remember to put your name at the bottom of the comment. 

September 28, 2015

Picture of the Week: September 28, 2015

You have done a wonderful job with the other photos we have had this month.
I have seen you improve so much with them.
This week I want you to have some fun!

You are going to write a narrative.
A narrative is another name for a story.

So you will have the following in your comment.

STUDENTS: Let's begin by making this simple.
I want you to write the BEGINNING of a story.
Introduce me to the cat.
Introduce me to a problem the cat had that will lead it to taking a bath in the sink.
Remember the beginning of a story introduces you to the 
character, setting and the problem.

** Don't forget to put your name in the comment.

September 26, 2015

Falling In Love With Teaching Writing

I am so excited to be part of this Blog Hop!
This is my first and I am excited for so many reasons!
I can't wait to see all the wonderful things we all love about teaching.

Anyone who knows me loves I love reading.
I love teaching reading.
I love reading for fun.
I love talking about reading.
So, I really thought my blog post would be about reading.
However, this year I have grown to love writing as well.

I decided to talk about writing because I think many of us are afraid of how to teach it 
because we were not taught how to teach writing.
If you were taught how, PLEASE leave me a comment so I can get in touch with you!
I have always enjoyed reading the wonderful stories my students wrote for creative writing.
I even enjoyed reading the facts and seeing the excitement in their faces as they learned new things about interests they had.

My view of writing has changed completely over the last few years as our testing has changed;
therefore, changing the way I have had to look at how I teach writing.


1.  Our testing will be on the computer.  On the reading test the students could have up to 2 texts and then respond to a prompt about what they have read.  On the social studies test, we could have any primary source, map, diagram or text, that the students will have to analyze and then respond to a prompt.  On top of that, the students will have to type their responses while scrolling up and down to the text.

2. We have been told to be prepared for mainly opinion writing on both of these tests.

3.  Our social studies standards for third grade in Tennessee include THE. ENTIRE. WORLD. - geography, culture, history, government, economics, etc.  of each continent.

So, my amazing third grade team and I had to sit down and rethink how we were teaching.


1.  My kids are on this blog almost every day.  I give them crazy photo prompts.  I give them social studies prompts that apply to what we are studying in social studies as well as reading. I have found the key to making this work is my responding that day to what they have written.  This usually takes me no more than 30 minutes at night (or early in the morning).  The next day, the students know they have to find their comment, read my reply and, then, reply back showing their corrections.

Here is one of our fun "Picture of the Week" posts.
When we read about Marco Polo (who is part of our social studies), the kids looked and responded to this post.
The kids fell in love with Ellis Island when we did this study.

I have seen such a huge growth already in our writing due to these additions to our day.
As a teacher I LOVE them.
I love them because they are fun to write.
I love them because they are fun to read.
I love them because I am seeing ALL my students grow in various ways.
Some of them are typing a sentence and that is a celebration.
Some of them are leaving peer feedback which is amazing!

2.  We still do the paper and pencil writing because that is critical as well.  We have had to do this for years, and I have loved them all.  (Some are up for a MAJOR facelift, but that will come. Please excuse those that aren't "cute.")  Our "saying" for our writing time has come from my 
fabulous friend/teaching neighbor, Belinda, from Third Grade to the Edge.

To Seek...
To Know...
And Thereby Grow...

We seek information through observing primary sources, websites, books, magazines, etc.
We take the information we gained and see what we know about that subject now.
We grow when we can put what we know into writing and share it with others.


3.  In our reading, we have implemented the reading response journals with the Power Reading Workshop plan.  Every week the students are writing in their journals about the book they have read.  Many times what they are writing is an opinion that has to be supported with evidence from the text. I saw so much growth with this last year, and can't wait to see how it helps my kiddos this year.

I could go on and on, but this has already wound up being longer than I had planned.
I want to hear from you!
Do you have any questions or ideas?
Please leave a comment for me!

2 ways to win:

Keep going until you come back to me!
Then you will have made it through the entire hop!
Remember you DO have until September 30 to take advantage of everything!
Thanks for visiting!

September 24, 2015

Inferences in Social Studies: The Nile River

We have been learning about inferences in reading.
We have been learning about the Nile River in social studies.
Let's put the 2 together.

Look at these 2 pictures.
What do you see?
What do you know about this place?

STUDENTS: Looking at the photographs.  
What was the purpose of the Aswan Dam in Egypt?  
Did it help or hinder the life of the Egyptians?  

** Remember to put your name at the end of your comment.

September 21, 2015

Picture of the Week: September 21, 2015

STUDENTS:  I have loved reading what you write about the Picture of Week the past few weeks.
You have done such a wonderful job and are just getting better and better each week.
This week we need to focus.
This is your job this week.
Choose ONE idea that you want to write about for this picture.
Type 2-3 sentences about that ONE idea before you move on to another idea.

Let's try it.

PROMPT: Why is the mouse in the cup?

September 19, 2015

Under the Scope with Plants

In science, Mrs. Jill has been talking about life cycles -
of plants and animals.
The kids have done some great projects to go along with these study.
It has been a tradition for my mom, who is a college biology professor,
to come with one of her colleagues to talk to the kids about plants.
Not only do they talk about plants, they bring microscopes, slides and
lots of hands-on activities for the kids to participate in during the visit.
It is always a favorite day!


Thank you, Mrs. Dwina and Dr. Fader, for coming to share with us!

STUDENTS: What did you see in the microscopes?  
What do you remember about the visit?

September 17, 2015

Camp Read-A-Lot

We are always looking for ways to get more families involved at our school.
We chose this fall to do a school wide Camp Read-A-Lot.
When I say, "school wide," I mean every faculty member was there to help!
It was amazing!

Some of our special education and speech teachers greeted everyone at the front as they registered for door prizes and got their schedules for the night. The door prizes were stuffed animals you would see as you camp at night.
The third graders started off in the gym at the camp site.
Each child was able to choose a book to take home that night.
We had all kinds of books for them to choose from and they loved being able to have
a book to take home from the night.
Teachers and staff brought in tents, quilts and camp chairs to sit around the campfire.
The kids LOVED sitting in the tents with friends and parents to read.

We spent 15 minutes at each station.
Our next station was in the cafeteria were we enjoyed smores snack mix and water
while we watched a nature movie.

From the cafeteria, we went to our homerooms.
Every 10 minutes or so, Mrs. Kim, our principal, would call out a winner of 
one of the stuffed animals.
In our homerooms, we had the families sign in and we had a drawing of our own
homeroom students who had come.

Then, we went to the meeting room and fine arts room.
Here we split time making an "I Love Reading" camp bookmark with our librarian and other special education teachers.
Then we sang camp songs around the campfire with the other Mrs. Becky - the fine arts teacher!





It was a fantastic night!
The kids just kept talking about it the next day.
We are already looking forward to our next night in November -
Family Game Night!

STUDENTS: What did you like best about Camp Read-A-Lot?  Why did you like it the best?

September 16, 2015

Is Our Government a Strong Government?

The past 2 weeks we have been looking at the United States Constitution.
While we were suppose to look at it as a whole, my students got very wrapped up
in the 3 branches of government.
I have no doubt they would have been right there with our Founding Fathers trying to 
make the new nation very different from what was found in England!
Due to the nature of our discussion, our prompt is different from the prompt of the other 
third grade classes.

STUDENTS: The following words are the Preamble of our United States Constitution.

We, the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our prosperity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

The men who wrote our Constitution wanted to have "a more perfect union" than what they had
in England.

PROMPT: Based on what we have studied about how the United States government is set up in the Constitution, do you believe we have "a more perfect Union?"

Remember to include:
1.  An introduction
2.  Your opinion
3.  Reasons and evidence for each reasons
4. Your conclusion
5. Your name

** You cannot type your comment until Thursday.  All entries from my students that are given before Thursday will be deleted.

September 14, 2015

PIcture of the Week: September 14, 2015

STUDENTS:  This picture makes me think of many things.

1.  Harry Potter had to pull a dragon out of a bag in one of the books. 
He had to steal an egg from the dragon.
2.  We use to sing a song about bringing home a baby bumblee 
and how our mom would be proud of us.  However, the bee wound up stinging.

We are going to follow that line of thought. 
Study the picture.

Imagine you have caught this dragon.
You want to keep it as a pet.
Why would you want a dragon as a pet?

**Remember to put your name at the end of your comment.

September 13, 2015

Book Challenge #1

Dear Students,

     This past week I FINALLY finished Flora and Ulysses by Kate DiCamillo.  I have heard wonderful things about Ms. DiCamillo as an author, but have never read anything of hers.  That is one reason I am excited to be doing the 40 Book Challenge with you.  I really thought this book would be realistic fiction. However, I quickly found out I was mistaken.  It is for sure a fantasy book. (YAY for getting one of those crossed off my list!)  It is a fantasy because in the book the squirrel communicates with the humans around him and he writes poetry to express how he is feeling at the time.  I knew when he picked up the vacuum cleaner that this was not going to be realistic fiction at all!
     This is a different kind of book in that it mixes normal chapters with types of comic book features.  This is because Flora, the girl in the book who loves Ulysses the squirrel, reads a ton of comic books.  She relates everything that happens to Ulysses to the things that happen in her comic book world.  This makes it easy to read.  The chapters are pretty short, so if you can read a lot at one time or can just read a little bit.
     I think many of you would enjoy this book because it has a super hero and a villian (Flora's mother).  It would be a good transition for some of you from the graphic novels you are reading to a novel.  I hope many of you will choose to read this book at some point this year.

                                                            Your teacher who doesn't like to read fantasy books,
                                                                       Mrs. Becky
Mrs. Becky and Ms. Melodie with our first books in the 40 Book Challenge!                    

September 9, 2015

Marco Polo's Travels

Some of us have been reading about Marco Polo and his travels.
The kids have been extremely interested in the culture of that time as well as
the importance of Marco's travels.

STUDENTS: Study the map below of Marco's travels. 
Click on the link to see the sequence of Marco's travels.
Go through the steps on the website as you learn about where Marco traveled 
as well as what he discovered in his travels.

To interact with the map, click here.

Marco's travels to the far East introduced him to items such as gunpowder, paper, printing, paper money, silk and coal.  These items at the time were only known to places like China and India. Marco was one of the first people to bring these new items to Europe for people to see and use.

Based on the items listed above that Marco was introduced to, 
do you think Marco Polo's travels were important to the world?
Why?  Give reasons and evidence to support your answer.

** Don't forget to type your name at the end of the your answer.

September 8, 2015

3 Branches of Government

As part of our social studies standards, 
we have to look at the Constitution of the United States.
With Constitution Day coming up, we are going to take some time to look at
this national document a little closer.

STUDENTS:  Our government is divided into 3 different branches.  These branches make sure all the jobs are covered so our country can operate smoothly. One of the jobs of the Constitution is to tell our nation's leaders what their job description is.  You are going to check out these websites to discover what each branch's job is.
As you search these websites, be sure to write down on your graphic organizer the jobs each branch has.

Branch #1 - Executive Branch

Branch #2 - Legislative Branch

Branch #3 - Judicial Branch

The 3 Branches of Government Review - Which branch does what?

Checks and Balances - How do these branches help each other?

What was one WOW fact you learned about the branches of government?

Picture of the Week: September 8, 2015

STUDENTS:  Each week, I am going to place a photograph or picture on the blog.
I want you to use this time to look at the photograph,
and then answer the prompt underneath.

Finish this sentence.

Sometimes, I just like to lay on my lily pad 
and think about ___________.

September 3, 2015

Little House in the Big Woods Introduction

Today we begin to read
Little House in the Big Woods.
This is the first book of the Little House series.
The book is full of tales of 5 year old Laura as she lives in a cabin
in the woods of Wisconsin.
Today, the little house has been rebuilt so you can have a look at what it might have
been like for Laura, Mary, Baby Carrie, Ma and Pa to have lived there.
The woods is gone for the most part, but you can get an idea of what it might have been like.

Watch this video.

"Little House Wayside replica". Licensed under Public Domain via Wikipedia -

"Caroline&CharlesIngalls". Licensed under Public Domain via Commons -

Life back in those days was a hard life.

STUDENTS: Looking at the video and photographs, what do you see that might show life was hard back in Laura's days?
What do you think it might have been like to live back then?
Do you think you would have wanted to live with Laura and her family?

September 1, 2015

Ellis Island Through Pictures

Ellis Island
Those words hold many different thoughts and ideas to my students now.
They have dug DEEP into this special place from our nation's history, and have had wonderful
thoughts and questions from our study.

                 STUDENTS:      In keeping with our social studies theme
To seek...
To know...
And thereby grow...

Emma Lazarus was a poet who wrote these lines in a poem, The New Colossus, about The Statue of Liberty:

Give me your tired, your poor.
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.

Please answer this prompt.
Do you believe these words from the poem describe most of the immigrants who came through Ellis Island?  
Please use evidence from the photographs as well as knowledge of what you know about Ellis Island in your answer.

I want you to seek all you can through these pictures of immigrants at Ellis Island.

I want you to think about what you know about Ellis Island and all we have learned about it.
Work on organizing your paragraph for the prompt above.
Remember your paragraph needs to have:
1.  a creative introduction
2.  state your opinion
3. give reasons to support your opinion
4.  use evidence from the photographs
5.  restate your opinion

** You are more than welcome to have more than one reason as long as you back it up with evidence!

Now, I want you to grow.

Emma Lazarus was a poet who wrote these lines in a poem, The New Colossus, about The Statue of Liberty:

Give me your tired, your poor.
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.

Please answer this prompt.
Do you believe these words from the poem describe most of the immigrants who came through Ellis Island?  
Please use evidence from the photographs as well as knowledge of what you know about Ellis Island in your answer.