Author Archives: numberonepencils

Implementing Daily 5

Wow, it’s been a while since I’ve updated this blog! I haven’t forgotten about it… I’ve just been crazy busy and kind of overwhelmed by the new school year.

The good news is that my class is great! I have 25 kids and they’re really sweet.

Our first writing assignment was supposed to be a book review, which somehow transformed itself into a movie review. I’ll post about that later with some pictures. They’re looking really cute!

For reading, 6 of my kids go to GT so I only have 19 kids in reading class. It’s wonderful! Daily 5 implementation is supposed to take a long time, but my kids have been total rock stars! Here’s how it went down:

Read to Self

We started with read to self. The kids rocked it. They could read for a good chunk of time with ZERO distractions right from the get-go. It wasn’t difficult to implement at all.

Read to Someone

This one took a little more work. We talked about sitting EEKK (Elbow to Elbow, Knee to Knee), and how to sit when there are 3 kids in a group. They did I Read You Read, where they read a picture book and one kid reads one page and then the other kid reads that same page, then move on to the next page. It’s supposed to help kids who are working on fluency. I don’t think we’ll do that one very often. They also took turns where they read the same book and took turns reading each page.

We spent a lot of time on coaching, where students read a page from their own book while their partner silently reads along. When they get to a word they don’t know, the coach asks, “Help or time?” The student either chooses to get help with the word or more time to sound it out. If the student chooses help, the coach has a variety of strategies to use to help (recommend that the student chunk the word or look at picture cues or go back and re-read etc). It worked pretty well! One group got to a word that neither of them could figure out so I helped them out, but it only happened once. We’ll probably do that one most of the time.

The cutest thing was when two boys decided to read the same book (the sequel to Fablehaven, which I’ve been reading to the class). The book was above both of their reading levels, but they did such a great job working together! They were laughing at the funny parts and they really helped each other with comprehension and vocabulary.

Word Work

I kind of cheated on this one. I have some folder games that have word work activities (like matching prefixes with root words and stuff like that). I let them work with a partner and they liked that. Now that we’ve started spelling, there will be activities relating to their spelling words (such as rainbow words, stamping their words, and typing their words) and once in a while I’ll put out the folder games to do instead.

Work on Writing

We haven’t done this one yet. I’m going to make it a little more guided than just letting kids write in journals, and I’m going to have mini lessons to go with activities when necessary. I have some writing folder activities and will also make my own (such as writing letters that we will actually mail out, writing emails etc). I’ll post about this once I get it going.

Listen to Reading

Honestly, we aren’t going to do this very often. I did find a few websites that are free that have stories that will probably be good for 4th graders, but most of what I found is for younger kids. Our access to computers is also a little spotty. We’ll do Listen to Reading occasionally.

I’ve also been tweaking how Daily 5 is organized in our classroom. Here’s what our Daily 5 board looks like:

Each of the clips has numbers 1-5 on them in different orders. The idea was that students would know what order to do Daily 5 by looking at their clip, and would put their clip on the station they are at, then switch it to the next station when it was time to switch. There is also an area for “Other” (anything else I want the kids to work on that day, like finishing work etc), and Teacher’s Table for kids who are meeting with me for a reading conference or reading group.

I quickly realized we had a problem: we have 1 hour for reading every day, and that isn’t enough time to do all 5 activities each day. I also didn’t want to deal with doing 3 activities one day and 2 the next. So I changed it to Daily 3.

I flipped the clips over, added kids’ names to clips, put the kids in 3 groups, and the numbers on the clips now say “1 2 3” “2 3 1” or “3 1 2”. That’s the order that they do the activities in, and I only have 3 activities per week. Last week, we did Read to Self, Word Work, and Read to Someone. I like the idea of mixing it up so they’re doing different things each week.

So far, it’s working pretty well! 20 minutes at each activity seems to be a good amount of time, or we can do 15 minutes with mini lessons spread throughout the hour.

We aren’t doing Daily 5 this week because of a genre project, but I’ll write another update when we start Work on Writing.

I’m still really nervous about implementing CAFE. The thought of starting Cafe next week makes my heart palpitate. I’ll let you know how it goes.

If you read all that, you’re amazing. ūüėĬ† I’ll post again SOON!

Categories: Uncategorized | 4 Comments

Teacher Letter

I’m going to quickly post and run. Just wanted to post my teacher letter. It’s simple but kinda cute!

My goal is just to share a little about me and get the kids excited. I don’t want to overwhelm families with 1001 rules and procedures. There is plenty of time for that later.

The second page covers class information. It still doesn’t have rules and policies, but gives parents some information they will need for the first week of school (like snacks, how I will communicate, etc). It also gives the url to the class website so they can check it out.

I also did a little attention-whoring by including some quotes from former students. Again, I just want to get the kids and parents excited for the first day of school and ease some of the worries that they may have since I’m new to the school.

Categories: Summer Work, Uncategorized

Behavior Bay

I’d like to start sharing some of my beach classroom theme. I’m really happy with it so far! I think the classroom is going to be really cute when I’m done.

Today I’ll share Behavior Bay. The job chart isn’t done yet but I love the beach-themed clip chart!

Probably anyone who knows me knows about the clip chart, and I wrote a long post about it a couple weeks ago. The only things different about this one are that it has a beach theme and the consequence is a passport signature rather than losing minutes of recess or whatever consequence the teacher chooses. My 4th grade team uses a passport system, so I wanted the clip chart to tie in with that.

Here’s the picture (FYI, please excuse my horrible photography skills! I’ll try to improve, I promise!):

The tree has all of the different clips the kids can earn. Last year, the kids loved looking at all the clips to see what they could earn. The tree was made by tracing a projected image onto colored butcher paper, then scrunching up strips of paper and stapling them to the edges to outline it. BTW the diamond clip is missing because I haven’t made them yet.

The surfboard is where the kids will attach their clips. All the clips will start in the middle on the green “Ready to Learn” and will then clip up and down throughout the day. Anyone on Outstanding at the end of the year gets a sticker on their clip. Students get the next color clip once they get 5 stickers.

The words on the clip chart from the bottom to the top say:

Wipeout: Contact Home
Bummer: Consequence (mine says Passport Signature)
Rough Waters: Think About It
Surf’s Up: Ready to Learn
Cowabunga: Showing Pride
Off the Hook: Role Model
Epic: Outstanding

The metal sheet is just a sheet of galvanized metal that was under $10 at Lowes. I attached it to the wall with velcro strips. I got this idea from a co-worker, and I love it! It’s such a cheap and easy way to add magnet boards to your classroom. I’m going to put my job chart on this board. I’ll take another picture once it’s done.

If anyone wants to make a surfboard clip chart, you can print out the attached document with the words in cute fonts. Enjoy!


Categories: Uncategorized | 7 Comments

Class, Yes

You might have seen some Whole Brain Teaching (WBT) videos on the Internet. I will say that some of those WBT videos out there kind of make the kids look like robots. That is not the intention, and it is not what my classroom looked like last year or what it will look like this year. However, I am a huge fan of some of the techniques and thought I’d share them on my blog over the next week. If nothing else, it’ll be a good reminder to me of how to use these techniques.

One basic thing teachers need to be able to do is get the attention of the class. There are all kinds of things teachers say, like “123 eyes on me” etc. My school had a school-wide attention getter called Paws Up. The teacher said, “Paws Up!”, and students were *supposed to* put their hands in the air, stop talking, and look at the teacher.

I’m going to be blunt. I hated paws up. Teachers had to say it over and over before anyone listened. It was marginally effective when I had a perfect class. It was 1000000% ineffective for the class I had last year. I would say, “Paws up!” I had only one child who would do paws up every time. The other kids were COMPLETELY OBLIVIOUS. They would just keep working and talking.

I searched the Internet and found out about Class Yes. It is ridiculously simple. You say, “Class!” They say, “Yes!” Then they stop talking and look at you. You can make it fun by saying variations of “Class” and they repeat the same variation for “Yes”. So if you say, “Classity Class!” then they say “Yessity Yes!”. You can say it in a deep voice, high pitched voice, etc.

The best part is that it WORKS!

Here’s why it works. Let’s say that I when I say “Class,”¬† only some of the kids hear me. The kids who don’t hear me still have a second opportunity to figure out what’s going on because they’ll hear a bunch of kids yell, “Yes!”¬† With paws up, they didn’t hear me say “Paws up” and they didn’t notice the few kids (er, one kid) who did paws up. The second reason it works is because it’s fun! The kids love to reply, especially when it’s a fun variation in a silly voice. Paws up was not fun. It was more like being arrested.

I was worried that the kids still wouldn’t hear me, but it worked perfectly for my class!¬† They loved yelling “YES!” so they were extremely enthusiastic about it. It worked from the moment I introduced it through the end of the¬† year. It is the perfect technique for kids who love to talk!

According to the Whole Brain Teaching website, this is why it works:

“Why is the Class-Yes, in terms of brain structure, so effective? ¬†The neo-cortex, the part of your brain behind your forehead, controls, among other things, decision making. ¬†Think of the neo-cortex as an executive, organizing other brain areas for complex tasks. ¬†When the teacher says, “Class!” and students respond “Yes!,” you have, in effect focused your students’ neo-cortices on what you’re going to say next. ¬†In other words, their brain’s executives are ready to take directions from your brain’s executive. ¬†That’s wonderful! ¬†Your neo-cortex is the CEO of all your kids’ neo-cortices. ¬†We call that, Teaching Heaven”

Give “Class Yes” a try! You’ll probably love it!

Categories: Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Facebook Character Profiles

You might have seen that cute Pinterest image of the Facebook page that students can fill out for a person or character. I love this idea! Students can fill it out about a character, a famous or historical person they are studying, or about themselves as a beginning of the school year activity.

I decided to make a primary and intermediate version along with teacher samples. There are many currently on Teachers Pay Teachers, but it’s looking like anything with another company’s logo is no longer allowed on TPT so I made my own. It’s simple but I think the kids would love it!¬† I had a lot of fun making the sample pages. Not only is it fun, but it would really help the kids to think about the person or character they are writing about.

Here’s a screenshot of the intermediate sample:


Here’s a screenshot of the primary sample:

Here are the downloads:



Have a great day!

Categories: Beginning Year Stuff, Reading, Writing Assignments | 3 Comments

Apples Apples Apples!

I’ve been having a bit of anxiety attack because I don’t have a writing project for September. I’ve been worrying about this months. It has literally been keeping me awake at night. Everything I’ve seen online is some version of “Tell about your summer vacation.” Today it came to me: let’s study apples!

I think one of my most important jobs as a 4th grade teacher is to help kids LOVE to learn. I want kids to be excited to come to school every day. This is especially true with writing. So many kids hate to write, and it’s really sad. I like to make writing projects fun, interactive, and non-boring.¬† I love the moment in the year when kids start to get excited about writing!

I think this writing assignment is fun, interactive, and is great for fall. While it isn’t life-changing in terms of 21st century learning skills, it is certainly possible to broaden this project. Students could research the drought and its effect on growing fruit, such as apples. Students could research the Honeycrisp apple, which was created at the University of Minnesota and is a cross between Macoun and Honeygold apples. You could have students use their research to propose which apple varieties could be crossed together to make apples with specific characteristics, or to make apples that are more drought-tolerant. You could include a field trip to a local apple farm.

There are three parts of this assignments:

1. Students interact with many different varieties of apples. Students write observations as to how the apple looks, feels, and tastes.

2. Students choose two varieties to compare and contrast, and learn two different ways to write a compare/contrast paragraph. They can then choose which method to use to write their paragraph.

3. Students create a guided art project. They’ll draw the outline in Sharpie and color it in with watercolors.

Here are some images of the assignment:

Parent form:

Planning a compare/contrast paragraph:

Small group observation form:


Art project (picture from Pinterest):


The download is FREE and includes:

Compare/Contrast Paragraph: Method 1

Compare/Contrast Paragraph: Method 2

Final Draft Paper

Apple Day Parent Note

Apple Observations Form
While the download is free, I’m going to make you jump through a hoop to get it. You’ll have to sign up for a free account to Teachers Pay Teachers. I highly recommend doing this anyway because there are so many great resources on TPT, many of which are free!¬† Here’s the link:

Categories: Beginning Year Stuff, Writing Assignments | Leave a comment

Adventures in Crafting: Part 2

After some trial and error and some lucky finds in my garage, I can now give advice on how to turn a cookie sheet into a cute magnet board.

Follow these steps:

1. Spray a good coat of spray primer on one side, let it dry, then spray on the other side and let it dry.

2. Spray one side with any color spray paint, let it dry, repeat on other side. You don’t need to paint the part that will be covered by paper.

3. Cut scrabook paper to fit an grab a bottle of Mod Podge.

4. Optional Step: Lightly spray the scrapbook paper with clear acrylic spray. This will help eliminate some bubbles.

4. Spread a thin layer of Mod Podge on the surface of the cookie sheet. Then spread a thin layer of Mod Podge on the scrapbook paper. Then attach it, and smooth it down as much as possible.¬† If you’re really anal, use makeup sponges to spread the Mod Podge. The Internet says this will give a smoother finish. I didn’t do this.)

5. Cover the top of the paper with Mod Podge AND cover all of the paint with Mod Podge! This doesn’t look quite as cute but makes it much more durable, which is necessary in a classroom! NOTE: You will see bubbles and creases. Don’t freak out!! Most of them go away while it is drying! Put the cookie sheet in the garage to dry and don’t look at it while it’s drying because you’ll just freak out about all the bubbles. Most of them really will go away, I promise!

6. Spread Mod Podge over the paint on the back of the cookie sheets too. Let dry.

Conclusion: It’s a lot of work. I don’t know if it’s worth it but it’s done now!

Here they are:

Categories: Crafts, New Classroom, Summer Work | Leave a comment

Time Capsules

Today I’m updating my time capsule assignment for the first week of school.

It’s a quick project that students can complete on their own and in small groups. When they finish, I put all the pieces in a ziploc bag and save it until the end of the year.¬† Here are the pieces and what I do with them at the beginning and end of the year:

Self Portrait

Beginning of year: Have students create a self portrait of their face, then mount them on construction paper and display them in the classroom. I cover up the name with a tag that says, “Guess who?” and students guess who each picture is. We then reveal the names.

I also draw a self portrait and…. (Shh, this is a secret!)…¬† I purposefully make it bad while acting like I’m trying really, really hard to show that it’s ok if you aren’t a good artist! I want students to feel comfortable taking risks and making mistakes. They look so cute displayed in the classroom. Here’s a bad picture (I forgot to save the full res version):

End of year: Compare their artwork at the beginning of the year with the end. It’s amazing how much better they get!

Hand Print and Foot Print

Beginning of year: Have students work with a partner to trace each others hand and foot.

End of year: Trace them again on top of the first picture with a different color to see how much your hands and feet grew.

Yarn to Show Height:

Beginning of year: In groups of 3-4, have students help each other cut a piece of yarn that is their height.

End of year: Do this again, then compare it to the height at the beginning of the year. Then students write how many centimeters they grew or shrunk on the board. The best part of this is that they do such a bad job of measuring at the beginning of the year that the end of year measurements are hilarious. Some will see that they “shrunk” 30 centimeters because their measuring skills were so off!

Goal Sheet:

Beginning of year: Have students fill these out individually. Conference with students during your first week of guided reading to discuss their goals.

End of year: If you have time, discuss the goals again with each student. You could also have them write a paragraph about how well their met their goals.

Acrostic Poem:

Beginning of year: Have student write an acrostic poem with their name that describes them.

End of year: Read poems. I didn’t do anything else with them.

Favorite Things:

Beginning of year: Have students fill this out individually.

End of year: Have students fill out another copy individually and don’t show them what they wrote at the beginning of the year. During the last week of school, spend 10 minutes at the end of each day going around in a circle having kids share what their favorite things were at the beginning of the year and what they are now. Sometimes they stay the same and sometimes they change.

Here’s the download:

Time Capsules

Categories: Beginning Year Stuff, Summer Work, Writing Assignments | 2 Comments

Life Without AR

In case anyone was sitting at home worrying why I haven’t been posting (haha), I have been hard at work! I’ve been getting some things ready for Daily 5 and CAFE, and a few other things. I don’t really want to post details until that’s all done. I’m going to work in my classroom on the 30th and hopefully will post some pictures and upload some documents that day.

Anyway, I want to post today about Accelerated Reader (AR). I’ve done AR in my classroom for the last 6 years. AR is a program online where students search for books they read and take basic comprehension quizzes based on the books.

Not everyone is a fan of AR. It isn’t perfect, but I do think it serves a purpose. AR makes sure that the kids are actually reading the books they say they are reading (ACCOUNTABILITY!). It brings comprehension issues to my attention. It also provides a way to keep track of what students read. You can print lovely reports. Parents can have emails sent to them showing their child’s progress.

Now I don’t have AR and I’ve been freaking out a little. What I REALLY wish existed was Goodreads for kids, but it doesn’t exist.¬† I thought making a blog or doing something on Edmodo and I googled other reading websites but wasn’t thrilled with any of that. I also don’t want to bog the kids down by making them do a ton of writing after they finish a book. We do plenty of writing in class. I just want a quick, easy way to keep track of what books each student is reading.

In the end, I came up with an old-fashioned form for kids to fill out. It is quick and easy. I’ll put it in their binder with their planners so they have it with them all the time. They just fill out the number of the book (to track how many books they read throughout the year), the title, author, date finished, and book level. Then they color in the star rating that they give the book and describe it with an adjective or two. They also write the number of pages in the book and there’s an extra space for any other information they want to add.

The downside is that this definitely does not guarantee that the student actually read the book or understood it. I’ll conference with kids about what they read and hope for the best!

Here’s the download if anyone wants it! Sorry it isn’t cute. I wanted to fit 4 on a page so there wasn’t room for cute stuff.

Book Form

Categories: Beginning Year Stuff, New Classroom, Summer Work | Leave a comment

Brain Breaks

If you’re like me, you might have pinned several links to brain breaks on Pinterest. I’ll be honest…. my opinion is that the best brain break is a second recess.¬† Last year, my teammate and I both had very active classes. We also had 3 hours of uninterrupted learning time in the afternoons.¬† At the beginning of the year, we took the kids out to recess between writing and math, and it was great.¬† However, after a couple months, we were asked to eliminate second recess.¬† We tried, and by the time math came around, the kiddos were Losing. It.

We tried every brain break we could think of…. dance parties, exercise, yoga, quiet meditation, you name it. Nothing worked! We saw drops of over 15% in math scores. We plead our case, brought recess back, the scores went back up, and the kids were happier, more focused, and able to learn. Huzzah!

Unfortunately, it isn’t always possible to go out for a 2nd recess.¬† I won’t have a 2nd recess this year, but the school day is split up much better.¬† Math and language arts are both in the morning with specials in between. We have a late lunch, followed by read-aloud and science or social studies.¬† It sounds like a great schedule!

However, I’m sure those moments will come when the kids need a quick brain break so I want to be prepared. I looked through some of the brain break links from Pinterest and chose some that I liked. They are all simple,¬† quick, and fun. I printed them out, glued them to bright colored tagboard, and will laminate the cards. The student helpers of the week will choose a brain break and lead it.

Here’s a picture of what they look like on the tagboard:

I just printed them and cut them out, but you could also use Avery 5371 business cards. The artwork is from

I hope someone out there can use these! Here’s the download:

Brain Breaks


Categories: Uncategorized | 3 Comments

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