Holly and I had been wanting to do video announcements for our school for years.  The tech department kept telling us they couldn't support it with our current system.  We were determined to find a way to do it and with the approval of our principal, we made it happen!  I have to give Holly all the credit for figuring it all out.  She's amazingly creative!  

First, I'll take you through some of the basic steps and introduce you to the apps you will need.  Then, I will tell you why you have to do this at your school in some form or fashion.  I promise, it will transform your school culture and start to the day immediately!!!


We have an announcements team made up of three of us teachers.  We do a weekly rotation.  So, I will make announcements one week out of every three weeks.  We do a whole new set of announcements everyday.  I have heard of other schools only doing it every couple or few days. 

We make our announcements in iMovie.  You can get the app in the AppStore for around $10.  We each had to get it for our own iPads.  


There are tons of tutorials out there on how to use iMovie, so I am not going to get into the technical parts of iMovie.  It's an app that allows you to insert videos and photos and turn them into "movies."  You can insert text, titles, and music.  There are all sorts of possibilities.  You just have to get in there and play with it.

We do have to get permission from parents, of course, to use students' photos in our announcements, since we are using the internet.  We do not publish announcements for the public or even our parents to see.  Once we make our movie for announcements, we upload it to Dropbox.  We then e-mail the link to the video to our principal who sends it out to the rest of the faculty.  


You can either make a movie or a trailer in iMovie.  We make new trailers all the time for our opening to announcements.  We take tons of photos and videos of our students.  You can insert those into the trailer templates and it creates it for you with any text you want to add.  There are lots of templates to choose from and they're really fun!


Every week, a hallway will be responsible for sending us videos for announcements.  We ask them to send us videos of students saying the pledge, our mission statement, school rules, and birthdays for that day.  It gives all grade levels the opportunity to be a part of announcements.  It's also great for encouraging students to have excellent behavior so they can get a chance to be on announcements in front of the whole school.  They feel like movie stars when they make it!






We have lots of different segments that are always changing.  We like to keep announcements fresh and new.  We always have a weather report and we make any general announcements needed.  Anyone can send us a video of something they want announced.  We always give a shout out each day, as well.  It may be to a student for making a great choice or to a staff member for being helpful.  





Another segment that we love doing is "Look who got caught reading!"  We take photos of students that we catch reading and put them on announcements.  You would not believe how much that encouraged students to start reading!  EVERYWHERE!  ALL. THE. TIME.  We were amazed!  They wanted to be known as a READER to the whole school.  Students who never read were reading at lunch, in the gym, waiting for the bus, you name it!


We like to incorporate fun and educational videos from YouTube, too.  Sometimes, it's based on holidays, what lots of classrooms are studying, motivational videos, etc.  We also do a Jammin' Minute for exercise, so we like to put Just Dance clips in to get them moving. You can actually get an app called Download Video Pro.  It's the app above.  You can upload a video to the app and it allows you to save it to your device.  Then, you're able to insert those videos into iMovie.   


I have the Dropbox app on my iPad, too.  Every photo and video on your iPad will automatically be uploaded to your dropbox.  After you make your movie in iMovie, you will save it to your camera roll. It will get uploaded automatically, if you chose that option, to Dropbox.  From there, you can e-mail it to whomever you wish.  


I so wish I could share a finished announcements video with you! If we make one for the first day of school with no student faces, which is very possible, I will share it.  Announcements have really transformed the culture at our school.  If ever there was a day where we were unable to get announcements uploaded, the students (and teachers) were devastated.  Our announcements were anywhere from 5 to to minutes long, so that gave teachers time to do those morning routine tasks we have to do.  I hope you try video announcements with iMovie.  If you do, please let me know!  I would love to have more ideas for new segments to add.  


That first week of school is always exciting.  You meet those new, sweet faces.  The smell of fresh crayons and new books are in the air.  But I always have that stress of figuring out my daily schedule.  It seems like it's different every year.  At our school, our intervention staff uses those first couple of weeks to assess our students for us.  Therefore, we don't have intervention pull-outs and I am still trying to perform my own assessments to determine how I want to group students.

I like to use this time to really establish a desirable classroom culture and classroom expectations and routines.  I have used these books for a while to teach proper reading block routines and to help students to maintain that love of reading.  I decided this summer to create some craftivities to go along with each one, since we have more time together during the reading block that first week.

Dex: The Heart of a Hero by Caralyn Buehner is great for teaching students about building stamina during reading.  We will be making these Super Heroes Readers and writing a list of tips to help us build our stamina.



Who doesn't love the Splat the Cat books?  Secret Agent Splat by Rob Scotton is perfect for discussing what detectives do.  I plan on making an anchor chart about the job of detectives and then relating that to being a learning detective in the classroom.  We are going to make these mini detectives to decorate our classroom door.  



We also talk about how to choose a place to read in our classroom.  The Best Place to Read by Debbie Bartram is a cute book that takes you on a little boy's journey to find the best place to read.


Here is a little freebie from the Reading Ready Pack to go along with The Best Place to Read.  Click the pic below to snag a copy.


Choosing books that are on the appropriate level is always a struggle for my second graders.  They want to go after those chapter books when they just aren't quite ready.  My library is leveled but they still gravitate toward those tough books.  I like to read Those Shoes by Maribeth Boelts.  We go over some tips to help us choose books that fit and this year, we will make the little shoe craftivity below.




Finally, {actually I will probably read this one to them first} we read Born to Read by Judy Sierra.  It's a cute book that shows students all the advantages to being a great reader.  At the end, it shows a newspaper story of what the main character grew up to be.  So, we will be making our own newspaper articles like this one.



There are also these little hats and more goodies in the pack.  



I hope you check it out if you like to use these books in your classroom.  You can click any of the pics above from the pack to check it out.  Many of these books can be found read online on YouTube if you don't have them.  You really don't have to have the books to make the craftivities.  You can just discuss the strategies maybe with an anchor chart and then do the activity.

How do you use these books?  What do you do to teach expectations and routines for reading at the beginning of the year?

Have a happy hump day!






A linky party about shopping???  I'm in!  I haven't really gotten into back to school shopping just yet.  I am trying to put it off as long as I can.  ;)  I will miss sitting in my pjs in the morning drinking my coffee while watching the Today show so much!  I have, of course, been thinking about shopping.  {As always!}

I need some more shelving in my classroom to house the tubs I use for centers.  I am eyeing something like this from Ikea.  Of course, we don't have an Ikea here in Middle Tennessee {Sadsville!}, so I'm going to have to improvise.  I could order it, but I thought it was a little high for what it is plus shipping.  It doesn't even have to have that vertical piece down the middle.  If you have any ideas of where I could get something similar, let me know!


I REALLY want these frames from Lakeshore!  I just need to figure out where I could put them.  My classroom is really small.  I just think they are super cute for displaying student work!


I have started buying theses storage carts for each of my student tables.  I could only fit two in my cart yesterday, so I'll go back this week and get more.  


I want to do something like this:


The carts will house their student data binders, writing folders, interactive notebooks, and extra table supplies.  I hope it helps us save time gathering materials during our day.

And I can't shop and not think about myself!  ;)  My sister and I had a Stella and Dot party a few weeks ago.  {Our friend is a stylist for them, so if you ever need anything, let me know and I can give you her link.}  Now I am trying to pick out what I want.  This is what I have it narrowed down to so far.




If you're shopping, too, be sure to link up with Elizabeth from Kickin' It In Kindergarten.  Or you may just want to see what everyone is buying!  Happy shopping!

























I am constantly telling my students, "Read like a detective!!!"  Every week, we take our anchor text and dig deep for about 3 days.  I use whatever that week's anchor text is and create a theme for the week.  If it's about kites, everything we doing in reading is kite related.  All things ELA tie back to that theme.  Our reading series always has a paired text that we use, as well.  But I also rely a lot on Read Works.  There are tons of passages related to all kinds of themes.  I also love that you can search by lexile level, grade level, text type, and comprehension strategy.  




I was trying to think of a way to keep my favorite selections organized and within easy reach when teaching a particular skill.  Last year, I just went to the sight and printed what I needed, which worked okay.  I did print some and stick them in my weekly reading series file folders. So, I decided to go ahead and start printing off appropriate 2nd grade passages that targeted those essential literature and informational text standards.  


I also had to make my students some detective swag.  ;)  They have to have magnifying glasses to dig into the text!  These are printed and laminated on card stock.  I may look into buying some, too, that will last for years to come.


Give a child a name badge, and they will feel super important!  These fit in those standard name badge holders.  I got some from Oriental Trading last year and they held up really well.



{HERE} is the link for the free hat template!


Since I am teaching my students to read like detectives, I have organized case files for each literature and informational text standard.  The one above is for main idea.  I have a main idea graphic organizer that will be used all year, short reading passages with questions, a mini graphic organizer for Brown Bag Book Club, and any small books that I feel are easy for students to find main idea.  I make enough of the case files envelopes for each group.  When we work in groups during whole group reading, I usually have them work by table (I call each table a text detectives book club when doing this).  I have 4 tables most years, so I printed 4 case files per standard.  

On Monday, I introduce the skill, we may read a short passage together, and then we work on the skill within that passage whole group.  I like to make our anchor charts at this time.  We do read the anchor text, but the focus is more on vocabulary.  

On Tuesday, we dig a little deeper into the anchor text.  We work on that strategy together while reading.  If it's a new skill, we do a lot together.  If it's one that we have covered before, I start letting them work more in groups.  I give each table the case file filled with the graphic organizers, and they work together to find main idea and supporting details, for example, together with my support.  They use the graphic organizer to record their text evidence.  

We usually finish this up on Wednesday and I also give them a new passage from Read Works that they use to practice that skill again if time permits. If note, we will use one of those passages on Friday.

On Thursday, we are doing the same thing but with the paired text in our reading series.  If I am not crazy about the paired text, I will sometimes find short books that relate to the theme and stick those in the case file envelope.  Each group gets a different book.  



On Friday, we like to have Brown Bag Book Club.  If you haven't check that out, head over to First Grade Parade to see how it works.  It's one of the best teaching ideas I have found!  You just have to print half-sheet sized graphic organizers to put on the brown bags.  I either have them do it over the anchor text or over a cold read depending on the week.  If you do a test over the anchor text, it's a great review before the test.  


I keep the case files organized in baskets so I can just go pull from those baskets.  One is for literary text and the other is for informational text.  I know I will need to add more baskets as I make them for each of my essential standards.  


The case files and all other elements you see here are from my Text Detectives ONLY!  Book Club pack.  I currently just have it for second grade, but I am finishing up the first grade pack and then will work on the third grade version.  My little detectives get so excited when they see the detective swag and the case files come out.  (I have been doing case file activities for years, but I just haven't had them organized to fit common core as well.)  Play it up like it's a mystery that needs to be solved, and they are in!


Who's excited about Vegas next week?!!!  I cannot wait to meet some of my favorite bloggers!!!  I am ready to start packing now!  I hope to see y'all there!





I am so excited about my new blog design!  I just know it will motivate me to get to blogging again!  Thanks to Kerri at The Cutest Blog on the Block for her amazing work! 

 My apologies for the long blogging vacation.  I have truly missed it and missed y'all!  

Mid-summer I get to thinking about what books I would like to add to my classroom library.  I love using fun books that first week of school to teach procedure and proper classroom culture.  Here are a few of my favorites to use in reading those first couple of weeks.


This book is so fun to read if you like to change voices!  I love to use it to teach how to increase stamina and that becoming a great reader takes lots of practice.  We also discuss how all readers are at different levels and learn at different paces.  It's important to be respectful of others no matter what level they are on.  :)


The kids think this one is so funny.  Second graders have teeny tiny attention spans, as you know!  So, I use this one to teach them how to ignore distractions when reading.  Because we all know they exist!!! ;)


My second graders always fall in love with Library Mouse each year.  They can't get enough of this sweet series by Daniel Kirk.  This is one of my faves to introduce writer's workshop at the beginning of the year.

I have many more back to school books that I absolutely love that I will be sharing over the next couple of weeks. I am working on a pack with some fun craftivities and activities to get you through that first week of school with super fun literature.  

I hope you all have a fabulous 4th of July holiday!  I need to get in the kitchen to start on my favorite summer pie ever!  It's by Paula Deen, so that should explain the yumminess!!! Check it out {click the pic} if you need an easy dessert for tomorrow's events!