All thoughts, ideas, and products are original ideas from Nicole Alderson unless otherwise noted. Powered by Blogger.

Father's Day Gifts

Happy Monday, friends!
I'm joining my friend Tara for Monday Made It again! This week I made coasters for my husband, dad, and father-in-law for Father's Day. I made these with my students also before school let out but I was too busy to take pictures! One of my teammates has made these in the past with students and I *loved* the idea....they turn out so cute!
I bought some 4x4 white porcelain tiles from Lowes for 16 cents a piece - this project is totally economical for making with your class! I have 22 students and it was just around $8 for my total cost...mostly because I am a craft hoarder and had most of the material on hand. 

I took pictures of my students (and then later, my kids) against a solid background - for my kids I used the side of our house and I love how the brick looks in the background! I wrote "My Dad Rocks!" on a little chalkboard that my kids held in the picture. I printed the pictures 4x6 and then cut them down to 4x4. 4x4 tiles are a teeny bit bigger than 4x4 so there will be a perfect little white frame around the pictures. 
 Put a thin layer of Mod Podge on the tile and then place your picture on top. Wait a second before putting the top layer of Mod Podge on so the picture doesn't slide around. You will want to do 2 coats of Mod Podge on top - make sure each coat is dry before beginning the next!
 After the Mod Podge layers are dry, take the coasters outside and spray paint over the tiles with clear acrylic, enamel, or polyurethane. This will prevent the pictures from getting water damaged! After the tiles have dried, you'll want to place them somewhere where the clearcoat can air out for at least a day to harden.
 Once they're all dry, place sticky felt dots (like the kind you put under furniture so it doesn't scratch) on each corner of the tiles. (I forgot to take a picture!)
 Perfect little gifts for any dad around! 
Hop over to Tara's blog to check out the rest of the Monday Made Its this week! 

Motivation Marbles

Happy first Monday in June, you guys!
I'm happy to be guest posting over at my dear friend Tara's blog today for Monday Made It! MMI is one of my very favorite summer traditions so I'm excited to get the ball rolling for summer starting. Here's a little sneak peek of what I crafted this week. Hop over to Tara's blog to read more! {and snag up those cute little labels!}

Poetry Writing

Mother's Day is just around the corner and if you're a Last-Minute Lucy like me (hand raised, here!) then you're still looking for great ideas for Mother's Day gifts. We're smack dab in the middle of a poetry unit so, naturally, we've been writing poems for mom this week!
 Y'all...there is nothing more genuine than hearing fourth grader's poems to mom. Most are sweet and a little bit silly, but there are some that are downright hilarious. I've got to get some pictures for you once we complete the finished product!

We used this little page to brainstorm and get our brains thinking about what we should write about Mom. Snag the freebie up {click the picture below} then head on over to my store to check out the rest of the pack!

Building confidence in writing

Every one of us has had that moment with a child...they shut down and simply refuse to write. I remember my first student...a kindergartener who would hide under the table and say that she didn't want to write. :( It was my first year of teaching (in kindergarten) and I really wasn't sure what to do. Writing is not as natural to students as reading, and it takes hard work!

Now that I teach fourth grade, at the beginning of the year (on the second day of school) I ask my students to write freely. I ask them to write "When I write I..." and write every little detail that comes to their minds while writing. I write right along with them every time we write. Once we finish this activity, I have my students place their journals in two baskets: one for me to read, the other if they don't want me to read. I'm always amazed at how many students actually want me to read their innermost thoughts about writing. I spend that second day of school reading and writing kind little comments back to them in their notebooks. Use this knowledge as you conference with your students through the year. I love seeing how many go back and read these comments as the year progresses.
{click the image to snag up the freebie}

At the beginning of the year, only use the kindest comments to give feedback to your students' writing. Sometimes it is hard, but you can find at least one positive thing about their writing. Even if it is just "Great capitalization at the beginning of your sentences!" "Great complete sentences!" "Nice handwriting!" Building your students' confidence in writing is one of the most important things you can do all year. Start super positive at the beginning... you have all year to critique! 

Who likes to be told what to write about every. single. time?! I know I don't! Give your students some guidance but then give them free reign to choose a topic! If you're working on narrative, let them choose what story they want to tell. We spend a great deal of the first few weeks in writing learning how to think of a topic and making list upon list of brainstormed ideas that they can refer back to any time they need to. I know you're thinking "But what about the test?!" There will be a time and place for writing from a prompt. If you can't let it go....choose some fun topics to write about:

- The funniest thing that's ever happened to me.
- The most embarrassing thin I've ever done.
- My most prized possession.
- The best day of your life. 
- If you could travel anywhere, where would you go?

If you aren't having fun teaching it, most likely your students aren't having fun learning it. Play grammar games, have snowball fights with writing, allow your students to sit wherever they want when they write.  The list could go on and on! Writing is hard work, but if your students are having fun learning writing, chances are it's going to show through in their writing.

Intro letter {FREEBIE!}

I believe that a fresh start for the school year is the best place to start! Every year, I always send out a letter introducing myself so that hopefully I can create connections with the families of my students. I'm a pretty open person and I feel like this helps my parents relate to me and make connections with me, too! This year I'm not sure where to start (yet) since each school has their own set of rules/procedures/ etc. so I'm not sure to start with my back to school packet- but I know this letter is tried and true!

Hop over to my store to download an editable version for yourself!


Hi friends!

I have been really working on some PD reading this summer! The latest book I'm reading is "But HOW Do You Teach Writing?" By Barry Lane. It has been a wonderful, easy read!

I am taking on a new challenge this year teaching 4th grade writing...and I am *so* nervous about it!! eeks! I really love teaching writing in the younger grades and I enjoy writing myself, so I am excited about the change!

That being said...I feel like I understand how to teach kindergarten children to love writing...but 4th?! I'm still not quite sure what to do with big kids! I'm going to need a lot of moral support, y'all! So, my goal this summer has been to get my hands on as many writing books as I can!

And you know what? It seems that the basic idea is the same as teaching a 6 year old to write. Give them choice. Have a writing block every day. Write with your students. Conference with your students. Encourage questions.

So maybe it won't be so bad after all?

Have you ever been in a workshop where they ask you to quick write about a certain topic? Teachers become the students and begin feverishly jotting ideas down. Scratching out, erasing, re-writing?

I HATE quick writing. I usually get to the point in about 3 minutes and have been given 5 minutes to write. I feel like I have adequately explained my ideas without further elaboration needed. Then I start second guessing myself...

If everyone else is writing, do I not know something I should know? What more could I add? How can I make this piece better? Maybe a doodle down the margin? ;)

So when Barry Lane began his chapter by encouraging you to do a quick write with students I cringed. NO! Not a TIMED quick write!! I can't stand it!

But I *love* that he encourages you to dig a little deeper in with your students and ask them for a little sneak peek at what happens behind the scene when writing. This is where I don't know what to do with big kids. Can they really do that?! Is it that simple??

I'm going to try it...I want to see what the result is. If it's a #teacherfail I'll just go with the flow ;)

I made up this little page to try it out. {click on the image} Snag it up if you could use it! I plan on reading mine to my students the first week that we try this!

Capture Summer Giveaway!

I am almost a month into summer and now that I've had a time to take a breather...I'm back to blogging! We've been to the lake, to Dallas (twice!) I've taken (and passed) my ESL test and the kids are in swimming lessons. I'm ready for my relaxing summer to start! ha!

Some of my wonderful blogging friends and I are having THE BEST giveaway! I am so excited to be a part of it!
I don't have a Canon - I have a Nikon; we bought it long ago after our first (who is now 7! 7!!) was born. I *love* my camera and the 50mm lens produces the most beautiful bokeh (the blurred background) pictures. Here are some of the pictures I've take with my camera. I love how her hair is captured flying around because she was running!
Seriously, anyone could take great pictures with this camera! You will definitely want to enter for a chance to win this giveaway!!

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