Hi! My name is Sarah from A Rocky Top Teacher! I am a second grade teacher who recently finished up my first year in 5th grade. So...I feel as if I can officially call myself a fifth grade teacher! I am so honored to be celebrating Mrs. 3rd Grade! She is one of the sweetest ladies EVER! <3 

When I moved to fifth, I was in charge of teaching ELA and Social Studies. I have been so grateful for this opportunity because I am an avid book reader and history lover. This new grade level has been challenging because I have had to keep up-to-date on what kiddos love to read, how to ignite a passion for reading in ALL students, and being savvy on how to keep our classroom library stocked with ALL THE BOOKS!!

Seriously. #allthebooks

We know where my personal money goes to now in our classroom. Forget the flair pens and colored card stock. I rack up on books! 

So, I thought I would share some of my favorite MUST HAVE books for the upper elementary classroom.

Are you looking for new books to purchase for your classroom? Do you want to start books clubs with your kiddos? Do you need some new ideas for classroom read alouds?!

Here are some of my classroom book suggestions!

Wonder has been out for a few years, but it is a fabulous book club/literature circle text as well as read aloud. The story follows a young boy with a disability and his journey as he goes to public school and learns how to make friends and overcome obstacles. 

This was our second read aloud this year. I actually read it last summer and freaked out after I read it. The little dash of magic, somehow realistic and believable storyline, interesting characters, and
 and over-the-top story was perfect for a read aloud. 

I hate to admit it, BUT I had never read a comic or "graphic novel" before this school year. I am SERIOUS when I will do whatever it takes to find books that my kiddos love to read so when a few of them voiced interest in our classroom building up our graphic novel collection, I jumped all in! We have a ton of graphic novels now, but this one is dear to my heart because a kiddo read it then passed her copy on to me. Roller Girl is a great story about learning how to support friends, never giving up, and finding "yourself". 

I am a HUGE Liesl Shurtliff fan. RUMP and RED are classroom musts! These fractured fairytales are full of wit, adventure, and heart-pulling story lines. 

 The War that Saved My Life is a great historical fiction novel. This story follows two young children and their life as they move away from their mom and live with a stranger to escape the German bombs being dropped on London during WWII. 

 Honestly, this book could be a great book club/lit circle text OR a read aloud. It was the 2015 Global Read Aloud book, and my students participated in the GRA and LOVED it! I featured it as our read aloud and was so touched by the storyline! I don't want to give much a way other than to say..YOU NEED THIS! 

Honestly, I could go on and on and on and on...you get the idea! Be sure to follow me on Twitter or IG for the latest snapshots of our classroom book shenanigans!

Have you ever wanted to do something for your entire staff, but didn't know how or what to do?  That was the boat that my coteacher and I were in during April.  We knew we wanted to do something fun for the staff, but didn't know exactly what we wanted to do.  We looked to Pinterest and found A LOT of great ideas!!  

Markers!  Perfect to let other teachers know how you've seen the impact they've left on their students and made their mark!!  Perfect for praising your fellow teachers at the end of the year!Thanks for sticking together is a great way to praise your staff for the end of the year and make sure they know how you appreciate them!

Then we came up with our calendar, planned out what we needed to shop for, and I created all of our tags!!  It was a lot of work, but so much fun!!  

Sharpies are a great gift that all teachers would LOVE to get at the end of the year!  Letting them know that you noticed how sharp they made their students is perfect praise!

Now keep in mind this was not a cheap project, nor was it something that could be done quickly.  We started planning this in April, and it was something that we had to work on constantly!  We had to make sure we had all of the tags printed, cut and ready to go.  We had to make sure we had all of the candy, or treats that went with each tag.  Some nights we had to go out and buy things the day before, there is no way to store fruit for three weeks!!  

Gathering materials to make end of the year treats for your fellow teachers is a great way to remind them of the fantastic things they've done this year, as well as have fun!

Besides it being time consuming, expensive, and hard to hide, I would totally do it again next year!!  It was SO MUCH FUN!!  The excitement it brought our staff everyday was worth every dollar spent!  You can check these out for yourself here!!
This year has had it's challenges, that's for sure!  It has been a year of ups and many downs!  You can read all about how I found out in November that I was not having my contract renewed for the '16-'17 school year here.

Through all of that, the pain, grieving and drama, I have persevered.  I know that it has only been with the help of God that I have been able to make it this far.  God knew exactly what I would need, and He gave me that.  I have been BEYOND BLESSED to spend my last year at my school with an AMAZING teaching partner!  This was my first year with a teaching partner, and I couldn't have asked for a better one!!

Teaching partners come into your life for many different reasons! Luckily my teaching partner is my best friend!  So blessed to have this girl in my life!

Stephanie has been someone that I have been able to confide in.  She has been someone that I have been able to bounce ideas off of.  She has been someone for me to cry with, laugh with, and have fun with.  She has been the type of teaching partner I wish I could have had every year.  Stephanie is an AMAZING teacher and I know that she is going to do amazing things in kinder at her new school.  Even though we are going our separate ways I know that I have been blessed to work with her.  She is going to be someone that I still call to bounce ideas around with, someone who I can confide in, and thankfully one of my best friends!!

Having a partner in crime to go through your school year with is exactly what we each need!  Having a lifeguard in my life is exactly what I needed this year!   Dress up days will never be the same without my teaching partner!  This girl is my rock, and my best friend! I am beyond blessed to have taught with her this year!

We had a super year together in third grade this year! God blessed me with exactly what I need in a teaching partner this year to help me, guide me, and teach me!  This girl is AMAZING!!

I am so thankful for my final year in third grade.  Despite the hard times this year, I have been blessed with another great group of kids.  I have been blessed to make lasting memories.  I have been blessed with a new friend who I can now call my best friend! I know that our friendship does not end on May 26 when the school year does, but will continue forever.  For that I would relive this year again and again!  Thank you Steph for loving me, for accepting me, and for not thinking that I am extremely crazy!!  Love you!

Do pencils keep disappearing out of your classroom!?  I put 2 dozen pencils in our sharpened cup, and then within a day they were all gone!!  I kept asking my kids where their pencils went, and they couldn't find ANY in their desks!!

Number student pencils and start a pencil challenge where they have to keep their pencil until a set date! Then you can pass out a small prize if they still have their pencil!

I waited a few days and then gave everyone a fun pencil if they still had their pencil!  This is a great way to keep pencils in your students' hands!  What do you do to make sure students always have a pencil to use?
What do you do to count down to the end of the year!?!  Do you have a lot of fun activities planned to finish the school year?  Do you have a lot of textbook left to cover?  Do you have field trips, field days, or school assemblies!?  If you are like the rest of us then I am sure that you have some of that, all of that, and even more!

Fun days in May - fun things to do to keep your kids excited about the end of the school year!

To help celebrate the end of the school year I have been celebrating fun days in May for as long as I can remember.  This is one of my favorite things to do because it gets the kids excited for each day of school, and gives them something to look forward to as we finish textbooks, take end of the year tests, and begin cleaning!

Putting the exciting things for each day in an envelope to surprise students is a great way to  keep the anticipation and excitement for the end of the year

I plan out the days in April and then surprise them each day by opening an envelope at the end of each day.  This gives us so much fun at the end of the day as we discover what the next day holds for us!  The days vary from things that cost money, and that are free!  One of the favorite ones we do is a field trip at the end of the year!  Last year we went to a trampoline park, and this year we are going to Lego Land!!

Fun days in May is a great way to end the school year and have fun celebrating your final days with your students!

I hope that you are able to have some great final days with your students!  Make sure to enjoy these final days with your class!  Feel free to leave me a comment and share a special thing you do with your students at the end of the year!
Happy May!!  We have made it to the first week of May!! Can you believe how quickly this year is flying by!?!  I am linking up with Doodle Bugs Teaching today to bring you my Five for Friday!!

Our countdown until the end of the school is a great way to build excitement and have fun!

This week has been a great first week of May!!  I am excited because we celebrate EVERY DAY in May!!  We have a different fun activity planned for each day in May!  It is fun because the students don't find out until the DAY BEFORE what the next's day adventure is going to be!!

Special treats for teachers in their boxes during the last few weeks of school is a great way to build up staff enthusiasm!

Also in our boxes every day this week we have had a surprise treat!! Check out this super cute post it I got on Monday!!  I LOVE this idea!!

The pencil challenge is a great way to keep students motivated to keep track of their pencil when you are running into a pencil challenge!

Raise your hand if your pencils are disappearing just like mine are!  I feel like I have put a brand new set of pencils in the bucket every week for the past few weeks!  Well this week I put my foot down, and said we were going to start the pencil challenge!  I haven't set a firm finish date, but am thinking I will surprise them multiple times if they have their pencils!

Whole 30 is a great way to get back on track with your health! Eating right is a great way to keep your body ready for the end of the year!

Whole 30!!  Oh how I loathe thee!!  It has been quite a week!  I do great for breakfast, snack and lunch!  But then when I get home, oh man, it's like a crazy person takes over!  Every night it is a battle to eat what I have already planned and shopped for! Cinco de Mayo was an even bigger test, but I held strong, and Friday marks day 6!  I am feeling great, I'm not hungry, but just already over salads!

This week this song really spoke to me.  As I am winding down my school year, and getting ready to say goodbye this song spoke to me.

Oh Lord I lay it down
Oh Lord I lay it down
Help me to lay it down
Oh Lord I lay it down

O let this be where I die
My Lord with thee crucified
Be lifted high as my kingdom fall
Once and for all

Hi, I'm Jen from Sparkling in Second Grade and I'm honored to be a part of Mrs. 3rd Grade's HUGE CELEBRATION! This has been going on since the beginning of the school year! She has showcased some amazing teachers and I'm privileged to be considered her friend!
A little bit about me, I am a first grade teacher (yes, first). I have taught second grade (note my blog name), but made the switch when I changed schools a few years ago. Although my heart is in second grade, I'm finally enjoying my firsties! I'll try to stick it out in first a few more years, then hopefully I can get back to second one day.
first grade
I LOVE to teach using picture books. I may have a slight obsession. I only got Amazon Prime to get my picture books ASAP! My blog and insta are filled with ideas for using picture books. Even in the age of digital technology, I still love a good in-my-hand made-of-paper book, and my kids do too (read to self is our FAVORITE daily 5 center by far).
It's finally the end of the year and I will have a hard time letting go of my firsties this year. They are trained so well and acting like second graders! It makes my head hurt thinking of retraining little kindies come August... but I can't wait to give them my end of the year gift! Last year was my first year in first and I was a mess. This year, I'm more on top of my game and trying to get ahead in life. Although there still room to grow. I made these little bubble tags and snagged the bubble wands from Walmart back in March. Super ready to send these firsties off for a fun-filled summer (their's and mine haha).
bubble tag 2
I also love reading these Summer Emergent Readers with my small groups before we end our year. They get all excited about the things they are going to do in the summer! It's also the perfect reader for some of my incoming firsties at the beginning of the year as we say goodbye to summer and hello to fall.
If you'd like a peek into my classroom, make sure you join me on Instagram!
Happy soon to be summer!
Sparkling in Second Siggy
Man oh man, where has this school year gone!?!  Are you anything like me and you thought that this was a year that would never end, but now here we are at the end!?!  I only have 19 school days left!  This is something that hasn't quite sunk in yet!

Today I am excited to be linking up with Farley for another month of Currently!!  I am so sad to hear that this is the last one ever!!

I am LOVING that I was able to spend the weekend with my babies.  Sure, they drive me crazy, and sometimes I wonder how they will turn out.  Especially when we are throwing fits in the middle of Sprouts because the little one got to put up the lime and not the big one.  Oh man, it was a long Saturday morning, but I know that in 5, 10 and 15 years I will be wanting these crazy weekends back.  So today, I am thankful that my husband had the chance to go on a trip, and that I was able to spend this time with my babies!

I am needing my classroom to be packed up and ready to go.  I am so torn on what to leave up until the bitter end, and what I am okay with taking down.  I don't want the kids to feel like I'm checked out and can't wait to leave, but at the same time the last day of school is my last day.

Truth - this school year has been full of its obstacles.  I have had moments of pure frustration.  I have had moments of defeat.  But do you know what!?  Through all of this I know that there is a blessing through this.  I know that God has a plan for me, and has used me this year.  I know that God is with me every day, and despite how others may make me feel, I know that He is proud of the way I have handled things.  I have had blessings this year, and I am so thankful for my friendships, relationships and students!

Make sure to check out Farley for her final Currently!  I am so sad to see this monthly party ending!
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