Hi guys! And…

Hello August!  August always means the last wee bit of Summer! As teachers, it is both exciting and nervewracking! I am pumped for this school year because it will be my 2nd year in 4th grade.  Hopefully, my forever home-because I HEART 4th Grade!image

I am technically still on my vacation of the Summer (a post on that to come:) ), but I had to link up with The Speech Room News for the What’s in your cart ? BTS 2015 Linky Party.  This will be my first official Back to School Sale in which I have more than three products in my store! Lol:) This is definitely my first linky with other blogs for sitewide sales, so I am just happy to participate!  There are so many teacher bloggers linked up and I can’t wait to go find out what else I need to add to my cart! 🙂 You can click below to join in on the fun!

TpT Back to School


In this post, I am going to share three things you need from my shop in the TpT shop and three things that are already in my cart.

So, here’s what you need from my store!

1) Good Morning, Sunshine! 4th Grade Math Morning Work

Math Morning Work

In March of this past year, I started creating a different type of morning work for my 4th Graders. We have Math first thing in the morning and every minute is precious.  Especially Math.  Especially in the morning.   I noticed my students were still having some difficulties with some key areas in Math.

To make a long story short, the morning work is one sheet front/back for the week and sold in thematic months.  Each month includes 5 weeks for the month, except August has 2 weeks. My team and other teachers  love it! My kids love it. I love it. By request, I bundled up the morning work for the full year. All months are not complete yet. Buying bundled already saves over 30% and with the TpT Back to School Sale, you will save even more money! There is an included schedule for when the rest of the months will be ready!
2) Back to School Booklet {Grades 2-5}

Back to School Booklet

This little booklet is full of first week activities to help you and your students get to know one another. The complete booklet will be perfect to have on display for Open House. What I love most about the booklet—ALL the activities are in one place!! We know we are already about to be bombarded with the piles of paper, so let’s eliminate what we can, right?

3) My Life is a Story {Personal Narrative Writing Unit}

Personal Narrative Writing Unit
This is the perfect unit for kicking off Writer’s Workshop in your classroom. The unit includes Writing Notebook Anchor Charts, Anchor Chart/Posters/Slides for your writing center or to teach, and Unit Lesson Plans.

Now, here’s what I am so excited to buy! Believe me, these three things are not the only things in my cart. I am working hard to not just buy my entire Wish List! So, here’s what I have narrowed down to my three must-haves. I am all about the clip art over here!

1) Glitter & Glam: Black and Gold Digital Papers Set by The 3am Teacher
The 3am Teacher Glitter & Glam

I adore these digital papers.  I already have the Navy & Gold Glitter and Glam Set.   They are gorgeous.  I have no ideas or plans for these yet except to look at them.  I don’t know- they might become the background for my blog! Michelle is amazing and I need her to design a WordPress blog! (Please! 🙂 )

2) Nerds Big Kids by Melonheadz

Melonheadz Nerds

Oh, these little nerds melt my nerdy heart! The possibilities of these little guys are endless.  I love Melonheadz clipart! She is absolutely one of my favorites.

3) Shark Types Clip Art Bundle by Educlips

Educlips Sharks


So, Shark Week is a staple around our household! Ryan and I were so excited to have it come early this year.  I am not going to lie-I get easily distracted with documentary-type shows.  Ryan would watch them all day every day and be content.  If he had it his way, Nat Geo and Discovery would be the only channels on our TV.  To keep myself engaged and appreciate Shark Week even more this year, I took a lot of notes because I have a couple shark related resources for my students (and yours:)) in the works! So, I know I will need these.  And Educlips stuff is one of my newest addictions! 🙂

So, that’s what is in my cart! I can’t wait to link up and see what else I need to add! 🙂 If you would like to check out the rest of my store, click on the link below. This lovely graphic was created by Mrs. MeGown’s Second Grade Safari.  Have fun in the next few days getting ready for the TpT sale and stocking up on resources to have a fantastic year!! 🙂



Butterflies & Daydreams TpT Sale



Happy Shopping! Thank you so much for stopping by!





One Two of my favorite craft lessons to teach in Writing  are Leads and Endings.  The lead of a story is what captures are readers attention, piques their interest, and invites them to read more.  The end of a story closes the door, gives a senses of closure to the story as a whole, and leaves the reader a little bit smarter, compassionate, or simply entertained.  I have learned from some of the best mentors in the world, the power of two key things when teaching Leads and Endings:

1) Use a Mentor Text– It is this simple. Go pick up any book you love.  Read the beginning, read the ending.  Name what the writer did.  Try it in your own writing.

sandwich swap

{The picture above is a link to Amazon if you are interested in finding out more!}

2) Writing the Leads and Endings side by side.-  This is not ALWAYS necessary, but it is highly effective.  It is especially helpful for students who have difficulty with structure in their writing.  A really good example of this is with the book, The Sandwich Swap by Queen Rania Al Abdullah.  The lead and ending are matchy-matchy so it gives a wonderful structure for students to play around with.

LEAD: “It all began with a peanut butter and jelly sandwich…

… and it ended with a hummus and pita sandwich.”

ENDING: “And that’s how it all began with a peanut butter and jelly sandwich…

…and ended with a hummus and pita sandwich.”

This structure is a tool for students to lift and try in their own writing.  For example.  “It all began with a trip to the beach…and ended with a box of treasures.”  As a reader, you want to know what happens in the middle? You’ve got the beginning and ending, so what’s the story?

Below you can see how I have my students set up their notebooks to try leads and endings side by side. I learned this strategy from two glorious summers at Writers Camp at the Poynter Institute here in St. Petersburg, Florida.   I like to say- Everything I learned about writing, I learned at Poynter.   That is a whole other post because I have to give credit where credit is due! 🙂

Back to the Leads and Endings in their notebook, I use post-its to the text we used that the structure came from.

Leads SidebySide

One of my current projects is gathering and organizing the mentor texts that I use ALL THE TIME and have some quick go-to charts for my students in the writing center and/or in their notebook.  I have started this process in my Narrative, Opinion, and Newspaper Article Writing Units.  It is so nice to have these charts in students’ writing notebooks.  This is so helpful for students to have charts at their fingertips, especially your strugglers or the kids who lack confidence-which can be the biggest hindrance for students.  So, I’ll leave you with pictures of the charts and some mentor texts for you! 🙂 Thanks for stopping by!

-Jessica 🙂

Types of LeadsEffective Endings

Mentor Texts for Narrative Writing

Happy Saturday to you! Pardon the construction around here! I’ve been experimenting with some backgrounds and style to this little old blog.  And THAT is time consuming! 🙂

I hope your Saturday is relaxing as it is around this house.  We have a very hard day planned of catching up on Shark Week shows, snacking, and watching a couple of movies.  We’ve got Jupiter Ascending and Kingsman: The Secret Service Agent on the lineup.  I may have messed up those titles…

Obviously, I didn’t pick out the movies! But as long as I get my popcorn, I am a happy girl! 🙂

Today,(Tonight…it took me a long time to get my photos together! 🙂 ) I wanted to spend some time talking about teaching Personal Narrative in the intermediate grades.  If you’ve read some of my past posts, I have a soft spot for writing and have worried about the impact of Common Core and the teaching of writing.  When our state (Florida) began implementing the standards a few years ago it seemed to take the aspect of teaching students how to write their own stories about their own personal experiences and ideas.

No way, I say!  It is SO important our kids develop the ability to write about themselves. I am NOT going to get on my soapbox about that.  If you desire my further opinions on that, I’ll save it for another post because it would consume this entire post! J  I’m kind of already annoying myself with political talk!

So, moving along…

I just finally posted my Personal Narrative Writing Unit.  I have several other writing units, but have been a slacker about posting them on this little blog and talking about them!  My writing units have a unique quality which I have found to be very successful with my students.  Notebook Anchor Charts.

Why notebook anchor charts?

So, notebook anchor charts are charts that I create based on anchor charts I’ve used in my classroom or any strategies/tips I think will be useful for my students to have at their fingertips.  We use composition notebooks for every subject in our school/district.  They aren’t just notebooks, they are a tool.  I teach at a Title I, low SES, high ESOL populated school.  Most classes are inclusive, so you can expect to have varying levels and abilities in your classroom.  I am constantly trying to find ways to support my students’ needs, including those at higher ability levels because we also have a gifted program.  I have found that these notebook charts help students be more independent and give them the ability to support their own thinking!

Two weeks ago, my sweet little niece came into town.  She is going to 3rd grade! I have spent most of my career in 3rd grade and am so excited for her! She saw my “office” and some of my materials.  Well, one thing led to another and we ended up creating a notebook for Writing, Reading, Math, and Science.  While I have some charts for Math, I didn’t really have any for Science handy! But, below I will take you on a photo tour of her Reading and Writing Notebook.  If you are interested in any of these, I will leave the link at the bottom.  If you would like a sample of the Personal Narrative Writing Unit for FREE, sign up on the Hello Bar.  (That’s new and I’m really excited about it because I can be slow about these thingsJ)

Notebooks Crafting

We used scrapbook paper and duct tape to cover her notebooks!

This unit is great for starting off Writer’s Workshop at the beginning of the year! That is exactly how I will be using it this year. In the past, we have taught a 10 day Launching Writer’s Workshop Unit and then a Personal Narrative Unit.  This unit combines the two because with the Common Core Writing expectations, you kind of have to kick it in to high gear as soon as possible.  On the first day of school the past few years, we have used this I am… on the first page of the Writer’s Notebook.  This is not an original idea and came straight from Pinterest.  I have seen it on several blogs/websites so I don’t know who the original genius is…I would LOVE to give them credit and thank them!!! 🙂 I think of Jayla as a beginning of the year 3rd grader right now.  With my experience in 3rd grade, I have a really good idea of the needs of that age.  They need a lot of structure and modeling at the beginning and then you wean them off of it and they start to amaze you!  So, I created this graphic organizer of that same “I” that I have seen on Pinterest.  Not because EVERY child will need it, but because some will.  Jayla is a very smart girl, but she lacks self-confidence.  This is the BIGGEST issue in struggling writers.  I’ll refrain from getting started on THAT because I WILL get sidetracked.  So, at the beginning of the year I focus on the following:

  • High structure-scaffolding when they need it, LOTS of modeling
  • Building CONFIDENCE
  • Building COMMUNITY
  • Building CRAFT

Jayla drew the I at first in her notebook and I thought it looked great (if only she could see what teachers see!)  Well, she didn’t like it because her handwriting didn’t look like mine.  I tried to tell her how wonderful her writing is, but she began to get frustrated and I began to get frustrated and then I had to remind myself that this was “fun time” and I was not “teaching” (hehe).  So, I gave her the graphic organizer.  My tip to you is to keep this handy for those reluctant writers who need a little boost. This will empower them to feel more confident.  It is always so interesting to watch my little case study.  She copied a lot of what I had in my notebook, which is so typical for her developmentally.  As we practiced using the charts in her notebook, she started to branch off and do her own thing, which you can see in her plan! 🙂 I love how she wrote one of my story ideas which involved her except it was in her perspective!:):) There’s a point of view lesson right there!

I am.Graphic Organizer I am

Getting Ideas:

There are lots of ways students can get ideas.   There is a chart included in this resource which lists different ways to do so.  You can see pictures below of some of the ways we have done this.

Sketch a Map of Where you Live and Ideas from those Places

Writing Idea Map B&D

Big Feelings and Times We Felt That Way

Writing Ideas.Feeling

Make a Plan! We use Post-Its to create a Beginning, Middle, and End with the big things that happened in those parts.  Then, below we add our thoughts and feelings.  My wonderful reading coach, Michelle, taught me this trick!

Jayla started her own thing and I kind of liked it.  If only she had finished…:)





Make a PlanPlanning Organizer

The following pictures are various charts included in the unit.  As I continue use these charts this year in my classroom, you may see them pop up again!

My Personal Word Wall    NotebookEntries2   Transition Words.Speaker Tags Writers Make A Movie.2 Writers Make a Movie Writing Entry Details

More to come on this topic of Narrative Writing! If you are interested in any of these charts, plus so much more check out this resource.

Slide7 Slide6 Slide5 Personal Narrative Writing Unit

Happy Writing!  Thank you so much for taking the time to read this post and here is my question for YOU!

What does Writing Workshop look like for you at the beginning of the year?



Question 2:

How do you organize your Writers’ Notebooks? 🙂



I hope this post finds you relaxing and enjoying all Summer has to offer.  Summer is my favorite time of year to relax, refresh, and rejuvenate myself inside and out.  I have spent time working on some of my fitness goals, personal growth goals, and family goals.  Since I feel like my summer will start to dwindle to close and will be gone before I know it, I wanted to take a moment and recap in a list and photos some of the highlights so far of  Summer 2015.  Now, let’s be clear Summer is only getting started around here!

1) Jet Skis with the fam!

2015-06-20 14.27.312015-06-20 14.29.05 HDR2015-06-20 16.57.252015-06-20 16.57.26 HDR-22015-06-20 16.57.26 HDR-1



2) Titan and his kiddie pool! This was actually meant for THE KIDS, but he thinks it’s all for him, as usual! 🙂

2015-06-27 13.04.29-1

3) Jayla’s Notebooks! (More about this mess later…)  Jayla needed notebooks with all of the charts.  So we made them.  How can I say no to a child who wants to set up her notebooks in the middle of the Summer?

2015-06-27 00.24.57

This week will be focused on wrapping up some resources, cleaning out some closets, and a whole lot of running!

And let’s not forget Shark Week!!

Happy Summer to you!

What are you up to this summer?



Hi! Happy Thursday to you!

I am currently working on a Personal Narrative Writing Unit to kick off the beginning of the school year and I was writing some of the Teacher Notes, etc. and apparently went off on a tangent about teachers keeping Writer’s Notebook.  If you keep your own Writer’s Notebook, then you need to give yourself a HUGE pat on the back for your effective teaching.  In the past couple of years, I have watched teachers collectively get more and more piled on their plate (and it is not the gourmet dinner you would hope for).  So, some of our best practices go out the window -not because we don’t believe in them, but because we are forever needing more time.

There have been small things here and there that I believe in and WANT to do, but have gotten pushed to the side.  I am happy to say that keeping my own Writer’s Notebook is not one of them.  Of course, writing is my FAVORITE thing to teach, so I am quite biased. I also like to remind myself of why I do the things I do and as I started the list below, I felt a rush of exuberance about the upcoming year (cringe-Summer just started!).  So, I hope this post simply reminds you of things you already know and encourages you to capture those Summer memories your making.

From my Personal Narrative Writing Unit-Coming Soon!

As a teacher of writing, your first step is to get your own writer’s notebook and fill it with your own ideas, entries, and life stories. I cannot tell you how important this is. The benefits of you modeling and sharing your own writing are bountiful.

  • Your stories about your dog, your husband, your pets, your kids will fill your classroom with love and laughter. Your students will talk about your dog, your husband your pets, your kids ALL. YEAR. LONG. My students talked about my dog Titan, my neice Jayla, and my Ryan every day as if they lived in my house and shared our daily adventures. This builds the relationship that is the bridge to community, confidence, and then craft.


  • Your writing does not have to be perfect. Your students writing does not need to be perfect. It won’t be. Believe me! (on both) This is more the reason they need to hear how you write because you are a good model and you might be the next J.K. Rowling, but they need to see how you try what those published writers do! They need to see the process. And writing is all about the process.


  • Your notebook is your conferring tool! When you sit next to a student who is stuck or who is doing great and you want to teach them something new-your notebook is filled with endless writing strategies.


  • Valuing your notebook reminds them to value their notebook.


  • As teachers, we have to be able to do what we are asking kids to do. If they haven’t seen you do it, they are not going to be very motivated to try it themselves.

So, your Writer’s Notebook? It is essential.


So, I am going to head back and try to get this Unit wrapped up! 🙂  I’m going to leave you with a couple of questions and I would LOVE to hear your feedback!

Do you keep your own Writer’s Notebook to model for your students?  Do you use the same one each year?  If no, how do you organize all of your writer’s notebooks from the past years?  Where do you put them?  I would love to hear some answers to my organizational question! 🙂