Something New

Monday, April 17, 2023 No comments

Happy not many more weeks of school!

We have something very exciting this Friday on my campus- our STAAR Blitz Reading Carnival!! I'm going to try something new (thus the title) and invite you to following along with the day's activities on our Instagram account- thecurlyclassroom. See you there!

Treat Yo Self

Wednesday, February 15, 2023 No comments

If you don't know where this phrase originated, then treat yo self to the video above. 

You work hard, and it's okay to treat yo self to some indulgences or things that make life a little easier. I recently gave in to some "treat yo self" luxuries and wanted to share. This is a big deal for me because I'm quite the penny pincher, so I've included some ways to reduce the price point as well. 

It took me a looong time to justify this purchase, but I coughed up the cash and bought a Stanley Quencher. I love it so much! Mine is cream, and on more that one occasion, I've looked at it and told it (yes audibly) how glad I am that it's mine. I love that it's big! I love the handle! I love that it fits in my cup holder! Win-win-win! I did have a difficult time justifying the cost. It's a cup. Believe it or not, I have other cups at home. Do you use Rakuten? It's an app that gives you a percentage back on purchases you make online and in some stores. I joined in December and have nearly $60 as my cash back balance! If you're already a member, you can purchase the Quencher from the Stanley website and get 7.5% cash back in the app. If you don't already have the Rakuten app, you can use this referral code and get $30 cash back when you spend $ on a Stanley Quencher, fancy face cream, any $30+ you need a little help justifying. 

Another little luxury of late is Walmart+. Walmart+ does lots of things- no purchase minimum for free delivery, free subscription to Paramount+, a discount on Murphy and Exxon gas- but guys, I'm getting my groceries delivered. To my front porch. A member of the Walmart staff shops for my groceries (and other items you could get in store), loads them, drives them over, and drops them off on my front porch. 😳 It is black magic! I told myself I was going to "try it for a year" because it does cost $100 annually (I think you can pay monthly as well). My year is not close to over, but there's no way I can give this up. I subscribed in November when they had a random 2 days when it was half price. I have no idea how often they do this (I haven't seen it since), but I do have a referral code that will save you $20 off an order after subscribing. 

This last one is free and easy, but I've upped my bubble bath game! Right now it's just the quantity. A bath is relaxing at the end of the day. I like that I can read, watch Insta stories, or listen to a podcast while in the bath. These are not bougie baths. Actually, if you're a bath connoisseur comment below and let me know what I need to boost my bubbles.

Think of something you enjoy (big or small). Make time for that today. You deserve it!

Remember to enter to win a copy of Gretchen Bernabei's Grammar Keepers. The information is in last week's post, and I'll announce our winner next Wednesday!

If I were the queen of grammar instruction...

Wednesday, February 8, 2023 No comments


Me: If I were the queen of grammar instruction...

I love those memes! But also, that's kind of my take on this week's post. In thinking about those powerful opening 30 minutes of our class period, I spent extra time with my copy of Grammar Keepers and thought about the most powerful grammar skills for solid student writing. I looked through STAAR tested grammar and revision skills from past assessments and the current practice sessions that are online to comb through what's been tested. I also thought about those cringe-worthy mistakes even adults make and set out to develop a sequence of most essential skills. So here you have it...

If I were the queen of grammar instruction, theses are the lessons I would teach each year. 

Grammar Skill Sequence

This provides a grammar focus for 32 instructional weeks. I know a school year is 36 weeks, but this gives you wiggle room for assessment windows, weather delays, and the like. It also is one skill per week. Feel free to speed up the pacing to meet your needs. I absolutely have presented these skills one per day, and if you want to implement what you can this semester, you can too. When possible, I linked the lesson to a Curly resource or strategy to further cement the learning.

I really would reinforce these skills each year- whether I'm teaching 4th grade, 7th grade, or 9th grade. Students are transient, but also, our kids are not showing consistent mastery of these skills. And they really, really have to in order to be college-ready life-ready. I know the grammar on social media feeds I see could really use some targeted instruction. :)

You might have noticed that this skill sequence is very dependent on Gretchen Bernabei's Grammar Keepers. Every lesson (except for one) is linked to one or more of the GK lessons. Don't have a copy? I'm giving one away! To be entered to win, tag your teaching besties on this post (It will have the same Yoda meme.) on Facebook or Instagram. One lucky winner will be selected and announced on the February 22nd post. Good luck, and it's good to be queen!

The Opening Act

Friday, January 20, 2023 No comments

I hope your spring semester is off to a wonderful start!

Normally, I would save a post like this for late summer as we gear up for a new school year. But if the last few years have taught us anything, it's that we can pivot and adjust on a dime. 

I want to shine a light on the first half hour of your day/class period and provide some ideas for purposeful, daily practice.

Star Points

What: Gretchen Bernabei's star points help students know the correct context for commonly misused words- there/their/they're, where/we're/were. Her Grammar Keepers book also uses the same routine to teach proper punctuation, capitalization, spelling rules, and parts of speech. Whew! That's some heavy lifting!

How: I keep a writing journal right along with my students. When they come into class, the "notes"- word, proof, example sentence- are already written for them to copy down. When class start we discuss, mark up the example sentence with the proof, and role play the verbal routine. Here is a picture of a lesson from Grammar Keepers. 

You might be tempted to skip out on the verbal routine, but I caution you- don't. This is important in having students develop this dialogue in their own minds. Trade off parts A and B. Eventually work yourself out of a part altogether. Students will have fun with their role. Sometimes they even mimic your persona in the teacher role- which is equal parts hilarious and horrifying!

Once this routine is up and running, this is about 7-8 minutes of your class (with 5 minutes of that as writing time). 

Mentor Sentence

What: Provide students with a correctly written sentence. It's a good idea for this sentence to come from something you're reading that week. Throughout the week, the class will look back at the sentence for different purposes- to notice, to inventory, and to imitate. This application to their own writing is so important for transfer! 

How: At the heart of the strategy, students return back to the mentor sentence in order to notice, label, revise, imitate, and edit. When I taught 4th grade, I used a product from Ideas by JIvey. Here is a link to a free sample lesson and video demonstration of the routine. This provided a handout of mentor sentences for students to add to their notebooks, a lesson plan for the week, and a quiz for the last day. I also created a Power Point that you can use to walk students through the process.

This conversation should last about 7 minutes. See a trend? I really think 7 minutes is a sweet spot for length of time. 

Shared Reading

If you've been around here for any length of time, the addition of Shared Readings is no surprise to you! 

What: Shared Reading encourages student to return back to a short text multiple times for multiple purposes throughout a week. Skills range from comprehension, grammar, vocabulary development, inferencing, and writing about reading.

How:  We've curated a set of shared readings for English 1 and 2, middle school, and upper elementary that will last for a school year. You can see all the sets here

All routines will start a little slower, but once rolling, Shared Readings will take 7-10 minutes. your 30 minutes (or less) into your class period, and you've already covered grammar/foundational, writing, and reading comprehension. Not too shabby! With a tight, focused teach piece for the day, you've got your instructional block covered.