Learning Progressions in Writing

Wednesday, September 13, 2017 No comments

Yay! I'm so glad you're here! I haven't blogged in FOREVER. After adjusting to a new grade level last year I needed some time off. Now that I'm in year 2 of 4th grade I thought I'd give this whole blogging thing another shot. 

Lately there's been a lot of talk in our district about using Learning Progressions with students to lift the level of the reading and writing during workshop. I should add, we are using the Lucy Calkins units of study for reading and writing. 

I don't know about you, but if you've seen the way Lucy crams all that information into a 2 page learning progression you're probably as overwhelmed as I am. I decided that in order for these progressions to be useful for my learners I had to make them kid friendly

I started by taking the grade 3-5 pieces of the progression and separated them by topic (lead, transitions, ending, craft, etc.). Then I thought about the annotated student work in the Pathways book. Behind each micro-progression I've included a student example that shows what is expected at the 4th grade level. 

This new tool has completely changed my writing conferences. It is my go-to! After asking the student to tell me about their writing goal we flip through the progressions and find a place to work from. 

The student pictured above was checking in with me to show that she moved her lead to the 5th grade level. After we found evidence to support this she went back into the progressions, chose a new area to focus on and she's now taking notes on how she plans to revise her ending. 

If you're interested in using these micro-progressions with your students too you can access this resource below. *This is not my own work, this resource is adapted from Lucy Calkin's Writing Unit, The Arc of Story: Writing Realistic Fiction. 

Check back for the Opinion and Informational Writing Progression Mini Book.

I'd love to hear about how you use the Learning Progressions during your workshop. Let me know in the comments!

Lego Landmarks - A Summer School Unit

Wednesday, June 15, 2016 4 comments

Lego Landmarks is one of my favorite classes I've ever taught. Last year when I decided to take on summer school I got the idea from another teacher blogger. Over the last two years I've worked to make the class my own. I'm excited to share these FREE resources with you, you ready?

Before we get started you're going to need some Legos...a lot of Legos! I got really lucky and got a bunch donated from a family friend. The rest I got from a DonorsChoose.org project. [If you're looking for more information on how to successfully fund a DonorsChoose.org project, click here.] After I got all of my Legos, I put my 2nd graders to work sorting the Legos by color. Yes...I am type A and yes, this actually helps when the kiddos start building. With sorted Legos they're able to find what they're looking for quickly! 

Alright, a little bit of background, I teach a 2 hour Lego Landmarks class over 3 weeks. Each day we start with some quick morning work, a video, a book and then build time! The work book is jammed packed with activities too! 

 Ready to download your own Lego Landmarks Work Book? Click here!

Teacher Tip: I require my kids to break down all creations each day. I work really hard at the beginning of this course to make sure students know that we do not save anything, it just gets too tricky. To make up for this, I take pictures & share their work on social media for their parents to see (with permission, of course). This has been a HUGE life saver, there are no objections when I tell them it's clean up time and it gets parents engaged in their students' learning too! Each day on my classroom Facebook page I also post a picture of which landmark we'll be studying. 


Below are the slides that I use with my kiddos. You can download and customize these slides to fit your own needs (but they are designed to follow the work book). ***You will also need a Discovery Education account to view most of the videos. Feel free to supplement with your own videos from a site your school subscribes to.

Finally! On the last day of our time together in Lego Landmarks I award each brick builder with this certificate. 

I am so excited to share this awesome class with you. I would love to hear how you plan to use these resources! Let me know how your Lego Landmark class goes in the comments. 

Happy Building!! 

The Best Day

Saturday, April 30, 2016 3 comments

I have to admit, I've been a little absent this year in blog land. I was busy planning and preparing for the best day of my life. Since I've left you with no educational posts lately I thought I'd make up for it with some fun wedding pictures!


Flowers: Florally
Makeup: Kellie at Living Waters Salon
Monogram Robes: STC Monograms

Elf in the Classroom

Thursday, December 24, 2015 3 comments

Elf on the Shelf is by far one of the best things to come along in a while (well in teacher land anyway). This little sucker works like a charm! When you're hours away from your beloved break and your kids are glued to the ceiling, just utter the words "Elf" and the Christmas magic truly happens. 

So let's start at the beginning of all the madness.
One day my kids were begging me to read the Elf on the Shelf book, they were convinced if you read it an Elf will come. So I said I'd read it but can't promise anything will happen. Well Santa decided to send us this package while we were away at lunch! And guess what? It was even cold (teacher tip: put the package in your freezer until you're ready for it, the kids will think it is straight from the North Pole!). We ripped open the package and found a letter from Santa and our beautiful little Elf! Of course after reading our letter from the Big Man we had to find a name for our new little stalker...I mean Elf. This was probably the best part. Listening to the hilarious names they come up with is seriously the best.

After naming him I carefully set him on our shelf, making sure not to touch him of course (I used gloves!). Naturally we had some non-believers, but Frosty took care of that quickly. Because of the way I situated him on the shelf he fell about half way through the afternoon and his legs swung down over the shelf. Almost scared the you know what out of me and every kid screamed! HE MOVED! He must be real!! 

Over the next few weeks Frosty took time making messes in our classroom and reporting back to Santa. 

One day our Elf brought us stickers! (aka labels) These labels had a picture of our Elf and said "Caught Being a Leader". I passed these out throughout the day and HOLY COW my class was awesome! It was so fun watching them watch the Elf to make sure he was catching them being a leader.

One day our Elf even brought us Brag Tags! You can download these brag tags from my Elf on the Shelf Bundle on Teachers Pay Teachers. Click HERE to go to my store. When you download the bundle you'll find a ton of resources to use with your elf including letters from your Elf (boy & girl versions), a sick letter in case he get's touched, an Elf journal for students to complete as they watch their Elf, and an Elf Shenanigans planner for the teacher!

Finally, on Frosty's last day he left us the sweetest letter! You can download that in my Elf Bundle too. Santa said he'd lift his magic for just a few minutes so we could all hug Frosty and say goodbye. My kids quickly moved themselves into a circle and took turns passing him around. I might have even seen a tear or two, it was pretty sweet!

Even though Christmas is over and you're all probably in your jammies reading this be sure to pin some of the pictures for next year! If you've done an Elf in the classroom share your best Elf stories in the comments! 

Merry Christmas & Happy Holidays from my 2nd grade team! I hope you have a wonderful break. See you in 2016!

Erin Condren Wedding Planner

Sunday, November 15, 2015 18 comments

Alright ladies, we all LOVE our Erin Condren Teacher Planners, now let me introduce you to the Teacher Planner's adorable cousin, the Wedding Planner. If you're already married you're going to be considering renewing your vows, just so you can use this planner. If you're engaged, go buys yours now! If you're not engaged, just buy one and hide it under your mattress so you have it when the time is right...just don't let anyone find it in the meantime, they might think you're a little crazy. 

In this post I'm going to walk you through the EC Wedding Planner and all of it's amazing-ness.


The beginning of the planner starts with your monthly calendar views. These are nice, but I don't use them too much. I have big wedding dates labeled, but I mostly use my iPhone calendar (because it's shared with my fiancé, so he knows when we have appointments). After each month you also have a page for "notes".

Next is one of the best parts of the entire planner. These pages show you what you should be doing at each point up until the wedding. This really kept me on track, otherwise I would have been completely lost. 

*Note: When you order you chose a 1 year or 2 year engagement. That way your timeline fits your specific needs. 

After this section there are specific pages to meet all of your wedding planning needs. These pages offer suggestions, room for notes, lists, and just about anything else. You will get specific pages for:
  • Bridesmaids
  • Groomsmen
  • Guest List
  • Budget Check List
  • Shot List for Photographer 
  • Music
  • Drinks
  • Tastings
  • Flowers
  • Cake Tastings
  • Vendor Contact List

Above you'll see the budget layout. I really like this resource, it helped me remember all of the things that actually have to be paid for. There's so much when planning a wedding, this was really helpful for keeping it all straight.

Toward the end of the planner you have the folder insert. This is SO incredibly helpful for organizing receipts, contracts, notes, and anything else. 

Seriously guys, I love this thing. It goes everywhere with me. I'm pretty sure my fiancĂ© thinks I've lost my mind, but at least I'm organized! This EC Wedding Planner is such a helpful tool and it'll be a fun keepsake to look back on in 20 or 30 years. 

What do you use to keep your sanity while planning for your wedding?
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