Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Inferring Ideas :)

Wow, it's only Tuesday and it is going to be a loooong week my friends!  We just finished up inferring yesterday and I came up with some fresh inferring ideas I'm pretty psyched to share :)  We started practicing inferring with Abby's amazing activities mentioned HERE.  Then, unfortunately we went on break and didn't come back until the middle of January.  My kiddos inferring skills went out the window during this time!  I had to do something to get them back on track and found a lot of great Pinterest ideas for inferring.  {SHOCKINGLY}, what I found was the more we practiced inferring, the more my students began to LOVE it!!!  So, here's some of my new inferring ideas I used with my kiddos over the past week, hope they are helpful :)

When we started inferring the meaning of new or big words, we had to read one of my very favorite books...Big Words for Little People by Jamie Lee Curtis.  This is my new MUST for inferring!  I told them we we're going to play an inferring game.  Since we're in 2nd grade, we played "Are You Smarter Than a 3rd Grader?" (to psych them up!) with this book. 

I would read the "clue" or definition of the word and the students had to infer what the word was.  THEY LOVED IT!!!  Especially when one of my kiddos figured out perservere, two students just stared at him with their mouths open...hehe :)

We also used this template to find a new word in one of our JRBs and infer the meaning of it.

Next up was an "Inferring About Me" activity.  I had my sweeties right down adjectives in a circle map about themselves without their name on it.  We then pulled out the papers one-by-one from a basket and inferred from their clues who each person was.  Another winner with them!  They begged to play it again later that day and they especially liked that is was all about them and the schema they had about their friends.  Here's a blank template to use if you want to try this activity :)

Finally, we played a similar game yesterday with inferring about our favorite book characters.  It was great because they really had to think about "clues" about their character and we had to use our schema to solve the mystery!  It went really well until one of my kids decided he was going to pick Michael Jackson to infer about and was angry that the other students didn't agree with him about Michael Jackson's status as a "favorite book character"...hehe! :)

Wow, sorry for such a looong one!  I have to leave you with one last thing inferring thing I found on Courtney's (Swimming into Second Grade) blog this weekend that is too cute not to mention...

LOVE IT!!!  Courtney is FANTASTIC and has sooo many awesome ideas, make sure to check out her FAB blog :)  Here's all the {FREEBIES}, thanks for sticking around for a super long one today friends!  Our $50 giveaway ends tomorrow, make sure to enter HERE!!! :)

Monday, January 30, 2012

Write from the Beginning :)

Happy Monday everyone! Is it just me or does it feel like this is going to be one of those weeks?

Well, you may have noticed this little blog has an undying love and devotion to Thinking Maps! We both declare “Thinking Maps” as an interest on Facebook – our TM love is that weird.

A year after adopting the Thinking Map “way” our school added “Write from the Beginning” as a writing resource.
Write from the Beginning is Thinking Map’s way of using the writing process. WFTB includesThinking Maps and Minilessons to produce quality pieces of writing. Our school’s goal with Write from the Beginning is to improve our scores on our state assessment. Therefore, you may see a lot of prompts popping up here and there.

With this post we’re sharing a little .pdf we put together using the Write from the Beginning format to take students through the early stages of the writing process. Feel free to click the image to download.

This file includes: 
Writing Process Flow Map
Pre-Writing Author Questions
Brainstorming Template
Drafting Author Questions
1st Grade Drafting Explanation
1st Grade Drafting Template 
2nd Grade Drafting Explanation
2nd Grade Dafting Template: Blank
2nd Grade Drafting Template: With Transitions 
Transitional Phrases Tree Map

Student Work Warning: The attached work includes my cutie first graders work on page 10. In case you’re having difficulty reading it, her published piece would have read: In 2012 I can’t wait to go to the Disney Cruise and my mom [is] singing me up for Karate. In 2012 I want to go to Kalahari the most.  My goal is [to] be better at telling time better than right now. {She’s pretty cute!}

Happy Monday and hope your week is off to a SUPER start!!! :)

Sunday, January 29, 2012

TAG! You're It! And A Super Cute FREEBIE!

We have been tagged by the very talented Holly over at Criss Cross Applesauce... If you haven't seen what she's up to lately... it's totally worth the peek [HERE]!

This is how it works!

These are the Rules
1. You must post the rules.
2. Post 12 fun facts about yourself on the blog post.
3. Answer the questions the tagger set for you in their post, and then create 12 new questions for the people you tagged.
4. Tag 12 people and link them on your post.
5. Let them know you've tagged them!

So -- Here we go! Buckle in, this one's a biggie!

Fun Facts About Lisa & Beth

We do not actually work at the same school anymore…. BUT, Beth does work with Lisa’s dad! (Who is a doctor and teaches POHI children! AND Lisa's worked with Beth's Aunt, a 1st grade teacher! Small world...)

Beth now lives in the sub Lisa grew up in! FATE!

 Lisa’s classroom theme is: PIRATES!

Beth’s classroom theme is: ……..Pinterest finds? 

Lisa is ALWAYS at work BEFORE 7!! Beth...is...not...

Beth LOVES the Detroit Lions. (Lisa mostly watches football for the players...Hello, Tom Brady!)

Beth & Lisa are way too involved with Teen Book Series… Both have the complete Twilight & The Hunger Games series.

We're headed to the MACUL conference in Grand Rapids this March!! Are you?

Lisa's favorite children’s book is Strega Nona (Her Great Grandma is from Calabria, Italy).

Beth is devoted to Fancy Nancy… Everyone is Dah’ling… and the ending gets her every time.

Both of us are married and without babies. BUT, we have dogs – that we spoil, treat and love as our babies

We both have our Masters in Reading Specialty! Lisa’s been a Literacy Coach and classroom teacher!

Answering Holly's Questions
1.What is your favorite candy?
Lisa: Peanut M&M's, yum!
Beth: Twix! Cookies and candy?! Don't mind if I do!
2.What is something you are really uptight about?
Lisa: Correct grammar (there is a difference between you're and your...hehe :)
Beth: Mean people... Take your chip right out of here please!
3. Is your car clean right this very minute?
Lisa: I have a costume trunk in my car, so...no, my car is never clean :)
Beth: Nope, nor will it be in MANY minutes from now (it currently is loaded with the hubs snowboard, snow pants, camel pack and other junk from a trip TWO weeks ago!)
4. What's your "favorite" household chore?
Lisa: None of them!
Beth: Laundry! I love the multitasking it allows!
5. Do you miss Oprah?
Lisa: Yeah :(
Beth: Only all the time! Especially when it's Favorite Things Time....
6. Do you play an instrument?
Lisa: I can play the piano.
Beth: Clarinet... Very, very, very poorly... I mean awful. Like really bad...
7. What's your favorite piece of technology?
Lisa: My Smartboard, I puffy {heart} it!
Beth: I am glued to my iPad... Like unhealthy relationship style
8.  Do you have a social life?
Lisa: I love hanging out with all my great teacher friends!
Beth: It seems like I'm social with the same people each week!
9.  Are you a phone talker?
Lisa: Yep :)
Beth: I get distracted and stop being an "active listener..." So, I'm not the best...
10. Do you text?
Lisa: I'm doing it right now!
Beth: All. The. Time.... Again, I appreciate the multitasking it allows!
11. What's your favorite piece of furniture in your house?
Lisa: My super soft couch in my family room.  I love hanging out there with the hubs and my cutie patootie pups :)
Beth: I have a super amazing chair from a loved one! My doggie lives in it... I need to get on that...
12.  Does anything make you squeamish?
Lisa: Seeing blood, which is ironic because I love Law and Order: Criminal Intent (maybe I just love Vincent D'Onfrio though :)
Beth: Two words: HEAD WOUNDS. I totally and completely freak out.

TAG! You're it!
Mrs. Cupcake at A Cupcake for the Teacher
Mrs. McKown at Little Literacy Learners

Lisa & Beth Want to Know:

1. What is your favorite movie?
2. Team Edward or Team Jacob?
3. Are you addicted to Pinterest?
4. What is your favorite teaching moment?
5. What is your favorite teaching book?
6. If you weren't a teacher... What other career would you pursue?
7. What's your favorite read aloud?
8. Are you a pet owner?
9. Do you have a bad habit?
10. Are you a Smart Phone user?
11. Where was your best vacation?
12. Tell us.... A purchase you regret.

And just because you came to play TAG with us today...you deserve a super cute FREEBIE!  Here are some Spring Skip Counting Cards to use with your kiddos.  You can use them to practice skip counting by 2's, 5's, and 10's.  I am IN LOVE with this clip art for KPM Doodles, so I'm sure I'll think of another way to use it real soon on another freebie :)  Have a great rest of your Sunday!!!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

It's the End of the Unit! {3D/2D Shapes Game & Notes}

Happy weekend everyone! In our parts it is about time to wrap up Math Unit 5: 3D and 2D Shapes. Before each test day we have a review day. Students play a little review game on the Smartboard. Each student uses a white board to solve the questions and earn points for their teams.

The last time I taught second grade was long before Smartboards and projectors were creeping in classrooms (circa 2006/2007).  In those days we used Powerpoint and put our “Shows” on TV. 

The file attached is our 2D/3D game that is similar to the content on the Unit 5 EDM test. My second graders played this and had no problem navigating through the screens…. So here’s hoping it will work for anyone that has Powerpoint! 

To download: Click the image, in GoogleDocs go to File --> Download As --> Powerpoint and it should play as a slideshow then!

I also send a study guide as homework before each test. (I cannot share the guide because it’s pieced together Frankenstein style with EDM Mathboxes, and there are some solid copyrights on those items!)

I do, however, send home this note attached to the cover of the study guide on a bright colored piece of paper (It sends the THIS-IS-IMPORTANT kind of vibe).

Following the test I send home this note:

I mark concepts that the student is still struggling with and a little bit of explanation/home support tip on the paper.

Here’s one from the week I found out I was getting a split AND it was the end of Unit 2. I apologize for the haste it was put together, but you know 4th Friday Craziness….
The black marks are covering student names -- I do not usually scribble on these notes.

I save these sheets for sorting math interventions and as way to open communication with parents.

Here is a link to the documents in GoogleDocs if you think it is something you can take and run with! 

Oh well, I’m off to prepare for a big birthday bash for my fabulous  Aunt Susan (1st Grade teacher extraordinaire)– who may or may not be reading this right now!! Happy Birthday!

Friday, January 27, 2012

50 pages of Reader's Response Template {FREEBIES}!

Happy Friday friends!!! I'm so glad it's Friday night and the weekend again, aren't you?!?!  This week has been kinda brutal, but I've still got my smile on so we're good!  As I previously mentioned I'm "kinda" obsessed with Thinking Maps.  Since my training three years ago, I still write my grocery list in a Tree Map sorted by aisles...hehe :)  I don't think the hubs has still figured that out though! :)

So, after the HUGE response for the behavior management Thinking Maps we created last week I knew we had to make some Reader's Response maps for our FAB followers.  What I've really noticed with my students this year is that they are very fluent and accurate readers with lots of decoding strategies, but they are lacking in comprehension. 

Here's a student in Beth's class working on the skill of questioning using one of the templates on her Smartboard.
We've been working in Reader's Notebooks (more on that another day), but I was finding that they struggled with actually drawing some of the maps still.  What I have for you this evening is 50 pages of Reader's Response Thinking Maps templates {FREE}!  The comprehension strategies I focused on were: making connections, visualizing, inferring, predicting, summarizing/retelling, and questioning.  Even if you don't use Thinking Maps in your classroom, they are simple enough to use in a reading mini lesson on the Smartboard, in a strategy based guided reading lesson, or just as a comprehension building activity.  I hope you LOVE them as much as my kiddos did and I hope they are helpful to you in your classroom!

Here are some examples of the templates, click {HERE} or on the photos below to download!

Here's what included:

Visualizing pgs. 4 -10
Setting Circle Map - 5
Events Circle Map - 6
Character Circle Map - 7
Setting Brace Map - 8
Visualizing using a Bridge Map - 9
Visualizing using a Multi Flow - 10
Predicting/Inferring pgs. 11 - 21
Schema Multi Flow Map - 12
Prediction Circle Map - 13
Events Multi Flow - 14
Predicting using an event Multi Flow - 15
Predicting using a retelling Multi Flow - 16
Inferring about a character Circle Map - 17
Inferring using a Multi Flow Map - 18
Inferring using a Circle Map -19
Inferring using a Bubble Map - 20
Inferring using a Bridge Map - 21
Questioning pgs. 22 - 30
Questioning using a Circle Map - 23
Questioning using a Tree Map - 24 - 25
Answered/Unanswered Questions Tree Map - 26
Questions answered in text Tree Map - 27
Before, During, After Questions in a
Tree Map - 28
Meaningful vs. None-Meaningful Questions in a Tree Map - 29
I Wonder Questions Tree Map - 30
Making Connections pgs. 31 - 40
Text-to-Self Connections Circle Map - 32
Meaningful vs. Non-Meaningful Connections Tree Map - 33
Tree Map of different connections - 34
Text-to-Self Connections Bridge Map - 35
Text-to-Text Connections Bridge Map - 36
Text-to-Text Connections Bridge Map - 37
Text-to-World Bridge Map - 38
Text-to-Text Double Bubble Map
with characters - 39
Text-to-Text Double Bubble Map with events - 40
Summarizing/Retelling pgs. 41 - 49
Summarizing using a Flow Map - 43
Retelling using a Flow Map - 44
Summarizing in a Tree Map - 45- 46
Main Idea Tree Map - 47 - 48
Summarizing Multi Flow Map - 49
Thank you - 50

Have a wonderful weekend friends!!! :)  If you haven't had a chance to enter our $50 mega giveaway ending next Wednesday, make sure you CLICK HERE :)

Thursday, January 26, 2012

FAB Favorite Follower Award! :)

After the week that I've had (spit on and pushed were only the start of it...) my day was made by the wonderful and sweet Haley at Following Optimism!  She awarded Beth and I the incredibily AWESOME Favorite Follower Award!!!  Thank you so much Haley :)  Haley is the Queen of cuteness, so you need to check her out if you haven't already!

Created by the super cute Mrs. Lamb!!!

So, we're supposed to pick two followers to pass this along to.  I promise we'll just pick two and follow the rules,  but we're going to give some shout outs to some  other AMAZING followers too! (I know, that might be breaking the rules a bit...but, I'm smiling while I doing it and it's to fill someone's bucket, so can you really be mad at me??? :)

We're so very thankful for all of you! So, here goes nothing!

What can I say about the wonderful, kind, and thoughtful Jennifer...
She is our bloggy fairy godmother and forever friend for showing us such kindness and support :)  She is uber creative and ALWAYS has something nice to say! 
We LOVE you Jennifer :)

Christina is a super teacher and also from Michigan!  The girl is inspiring to say the least :)  She always has something amazing going on and kind words for her fellow bloggers!  We LOVE you Christina :)

Thank you to both of you for your kind words and inspiration!
We've gotta break the rules a little and throw out some shout outs to some other wonderful followers who always have the kindest things to say about our crazy ideas :)

Thank you to:
Mor Zrihen at A Teacher's Treasure
Mrs. Cupcake at A Cupcake for the Teacher

THANK YOU TO ALL OF OUR AMAZING FOLLOWERS!  You truly mean the world to us and I can't tell you how much we appreciate your kindness and support :)  Beth and I literally called each other freaking out when we hit 200 followers!  Thank you again from the bottom of our hearts and make sure to enter our $50 gift card giveaway {HERE}!

Happy almost Friday friends! :)

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

My Big "Fat" Italian Heart...And a $50 Giveaway!

Wow, it has been a BUSY week and busy might be an understatement...hehe :)  I am so excited to announce that we have hit over 200+ followers!  THANK YOU SO MUCH :)  Before I get to this great giveaway, I have to share the hilarious and sweet story that lead up to it.

As I mentioned, it has been a tough and busy week so when we were lining up today it warmed my heart when one of my sweeties came up and gave me a big hug.  After the hug, he tugged on my sleeve and here's what happened...

Mrs. Lizak: "Thanks so much for the hug!  I really needed that today."
Student: "Mrs. Lizak, can I tell you something?"
Mrs. Lizak: "Sure. What do you want to tell me?"
Student: "My brother says you're fat."
Mrs. Lizak: (Obligatory answer)  "Thank you for letting me know."
Student: (Tugs on sleeve again) "He says you're fat because your heart is so BIG."

Insert {AWWW}!  So being a good Italian girl with a big, "fat" heart we had to make this giveaweay extra special for our AMAZING followers!  You know you guys rock, right?!?!  Here's the deal...We're giving away 2 $25 gift cards!  You can choose from TPT, Amazon, Lakeshore Learning, or the uber FAB Target!  Next Wednesday, we will randomly select two winners and each winner will win a $25 gift card of their choice!  So, you have double the chances of winning!  Sounds pretty sweet to me :)   Details are below, but just leave a comment for each entry with your email address as listed.  Good luck friends!!!

Here's what you have to do...


1. Follow our blog. (1 entry)

2. Follow Lisa's TPT page.

(1 entry)

3. Post our button on your blog. (2 entries)

4. Re-post about this giveaway on your blog.

(2 entries)

SO get started friends...you can't win if you don't enter!! :)

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Cost Saving Adventures: Playdough

I don’t know about you, but Lisa and I are officially halfway there! However, that means our whiteboard markers are near death, our pencil stash is dwindling and our Play-Doh is looking more like dried crust than anything else.

While working intently on report cards this week I found this little gem on Pinterest! 

I figured why not stir up some dough? All I needed was:

And the recipe available at:

After a fun afternoon of mixing it up with the husband… Playdough was made! 

I stored the homemade playdough in the Play-Doh tubs and slid them back into the Word Work choices today! We'll see how the batch holds up! And if the tables turn pink..... 

To accompany this cost saving tip I thought I’d share some fine motor cards. Sadly, these skill cards are designed more for my first grade honeys.  HOWEVER, if you’ve got a kiddo that needs some fine motor practice feel free to modify!

I start with the individual letters early in the year and move on to our sight words as we introduce them. 

I laminate the cards and keep them in the tub with the playdough.

Students fill in the letters with the playdough. Ideally, they practice spelling and reading the word!

Lowercase Letter Cards

Uppercase Letter Cards

First 25 Sight Word Cards
That's it for today! We hope your week is off to an amazing start!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

33 Pages of {FREE} Behavior Management Templates

Happy Sunday Friends!  As the weekend comes to a close, I think about the LOOOONG week ahead of me.  We have lovely people from the state coming to observe our school (and every ounce of documentation we have on everything), Math Night, the start of after school detention, and two staff meetings.  So, I felt it was time for some serious review of behavior management in my room :)  Of course, that meant I had to find a way to incorporate my major love of Thinking Maps into the whole thing.  What I've made is a 33 page {FREE} packet of different Thinking Maps that can be used to review everything from how to be a good friend to behavior reflections.  Even if you don't use Thinking Maps in your classroom, the templates are pretty straight forward and can used in any classroom!

Click HERE or on any of the templates to download:

Here's a list of every Thinking Map included in the {FREEBIE} packet:
Respect circle map – 3
Responsibility circle map – 4
Being safe circle map – 5
My perfect classroom circle map – 6
Class rules circle map – 7
Ways to fill someone’s bucket circle map – 8
Ways to fill someone’s bucket bubble map – 9
 Ways to be a good friend bubble map– 10
A good friend should be… bubble map– 11
Friendship tree map – 12
Good student tree map – 13

Good listener tree map -14
Rule follower tree map – 15
Respectful student tree map -16
Responsible student tree map – 17
How to solve a problem flow map -18
How to follow directions flow map –19
How to make a new friend flow map –20
How to be nice to someone flow map– 21
Steps to take when someone is bothering you
flow map – 22
How to sit correctly on the rug flow map – 23
How to walk quietly in the hallway flow map – 24
How to fill someone’s bucket flow map – 25
Sitting correctly on the rug brace map – 26
Behavior reflection multi flow map
(think sheet) – 27
How my behavior effects others (negative) multi
flow map – 28
How my behavior effects others (positive) multi
flow map – 29
My poor choice multi flow map – 30
My good choice multi flow map – 31
My friend makes a good choice multi flow map – 32
How my good choice effects others multi
flow map - 33

If you LOVE Thinking Maps as much as Beth and I and find this packet helpful, leave us some love :)

Also, if you have a FAB idea for an additional behavior management Thinking Map, we'd love to hear it and we'll add it to the packet for you!!!  Have a great week! :)