Saturday, April 5, 2014

Indiana Blogger Meetup BLOG HOP & GIVEAWAY!

I can't believe I've had the patience to wait to blog about this AMAZING weekend until now!  I seriously just had the most amazing weekend with some of the most talented and dedicated teachers/bloggers around.  50+ teachers from and around Indiana got together at the beautiful French Lick Resort & Casino (yes I did play!).  We were together for two days and did nothing but talk, laugh, take pictures, and exchange ideas about teaching, blogging, and life of course!  Take a look at some of the lovelies who attended:  

Can you tell we had a great time!?  On the 1st day we arrived we had a delicious luncheon together followed by HOURS of giveaways, teacher swaps, and idea exchanges.  The teacher swap was SO MUCH FUN!  The generosity of the teachers was just overwhelming.  Wanna see what I got?!

Are these cupcake pens not the CUTEST things ever!?  They are used for motivation for students when doing work under the document camera or in small groups.  I haven't gotten to try them out yet (still on spring break) but can't wait to!  I know they'll be a hit!  

And if you think that's great - wait until you hear this!  The amazing teachers who started this whole shindig were able to get sponsors to donate some fantastic prizes for all of us to win and to have for just attending!  Vera Bradley sent us all a beautiful bag - so generous!!  Erin Condren sent us all a $10 gift certificate to use at her amazing website.  I can't wait to use it!  Scentos markers even sent over some amazing products for us all to have!!  I <3 using their markers on my anchor charts!

There were more sponsors who sent prizes to be won!  Crayola was one of the sponsors and look what I won!

Ah!  I'm missing all of the fun already!  So not only was this weekend filled with goodies but also with amazing ideas that everyone was able to share out about blogging, photo editing, pinterest, and other 'teachery' topics.  My top 3 favorites are:

1.     PIC MONKEY!!  This is such a great website that allows you to edit your photos to make them from cute to SUPER cute with fun graphics and text. :)  Thanks to Greg from Kindergarten Smorgasboard for hooking us up to that!  

2.     This 'trick' is for bloggers who are obsessed with clipart LIKE ME!  I have so much that its getting harder and harder to find what I need.  Instead - when you download the clipart, save the 'cover' photo to the icon of the folder - that way when you're scrolling through you can find things easily!  I haven't done it yet, but here's a tutorial on how to (if you have a mac like me)

3.     My 3rd favorite 'trick' I learned is that when pinning to Pinterest, try to have a Red/Orange border around your photo.  Apparently, it draws more attention to itself!  I'll be trying that one out soon too!

See - learned so much at this amazing meet up!  A HUGE thank you to Holly from Mrs. Ehle's Kindergarten Connections for starting this meet up and making everything possible!  You're a doll!  Make sure to check her out of you don't already!  

So - are you a bit jealous of all of the amazing products we got??  Well, here's your chance to WIN!!  Keep hopping through this blog hop to find the end and get your chance to win all of this...

Yeah - you saw that correctly.  YOU could win all of these amazing products!!  Jamberry, Vera, Scentos, Erin Condren, Boogie Boards, Crayola, and MORE!  Keep hopping to find the rafflecopter. There will be more than one winner picked so its definitely worth hopping for!!  

Where to go next?  Click below to visit Ms. Amy Biddison - Teaching in Blue Jeans!!  

Teaching In Blue Jeans
Thanks for 'hopping' by!!  

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Organizing Your Files and Centers!!

I'm so excited and privileged to be involved in the first ever Bright Idea Blog Hop.  I can't wait to read and see what all of these amazing bloggers have in store to share.  :)  I wanted to share with everyone a small change I made in my classroom from last year to this year and have LOVED it!

How I file my papers:

I used to do the 'normal' - place my files in hanging file folders.  But what ended up happening??  Files would fall and empty into the bottom of the cabinet.  Files would get so big it hurt to pick them up.  Files would NEVER stay in order as much as I wanted or needed them to.  Solution?  Binders!

They... are....amazing!!  They never get messy, out of order, too big - should I go on?  I didn't take a picture of the inside, but I bet you can guess what that looks like - papers!  I use tabs to organize the papers even more inside the binders.  These all stay right behind my desk and are an arms reach away when I go to plan!  

I also made a few other organizational changes and I fell in love with.  I have a LOT of games/activities/etc and could never find a way to organize it all in a way that I liked.  So this summer, I created this...

Each basket contains the games/centers for the particular topic that's labeled on the front.  So when I'm looking for a center on a specific topic..  BOOM!  It's that easy!  

 I loved the idea so much I did it with all of my teaching books!  The books are right next to the center bins so its all right there ready to be picked!

It take just seconds now to find what I need.  Other teachers love it to.  They call me their own personal 'teacher store'.  They love know that they can walk in and find exactly what they need!  

It's the little changes that we can make that help make our life and our routines a lot easier.  I hope you enjoyed the tip from today and find many more in the hop!  

Ready to HOP on?  Make sure to check out Christina Bainbridge's post.  She's posting about an amazing review game that the kids will all LOVE!  Or check out the linky below to check out topics that interest you!  


Sunday, January 26, 2014

The WRITE Stuff... Oh, oh, oh, oh, OH! FREEBIE!

Ok - just to start this blog post off right - take a minute, kick, back and reminisce :)  

Yeah, I definitely just stopped and watched the entire thing... Aaaand maybe even danced and sang along.  NKOTB was my very first concert.  I even owned all of their 'barbie' dolls.  Ok - enough self embarrassment!  Let's talk about writing.  

In my district we use the 6 + 1 writing traits.  If you're not familiar with them, check out this fantastic resource by Ruth Culham.  She has many different resources for all different grade levels.

We spend about 2-3 weeks on each trait and then end those weeks with a full writing piece.  There are a lot of great resources out there for the traits, but coming up with 2-3 weeks of mini lessons on one traits can sometimes be difficult.  Earlier this year, I put together a week's worth of mini lessons for the trait of Organization for my grade level and shared them.  I've been meaning to share them all with you, but just haven't gotten around to it until now.  

There's really not a 'set' order to teach the traits, but there is definitely a good flow on when to teach them.  We teach:

Word Choice
Sentence Fluency
Conventions (which is really taught during all of the other traits)

As you can see, it was a while ago when I taught organization - but better late than never right!?  Below is a week's worth of mini lessons for the organization trait.  Each lesson is provided with a hook, a teacher model (I do), a practice portion (We do), and a independent practice (You do).  It also has listed the materials needed for the lesson.  

The overall objective of the week's lessons is to teach the students how to organize their writing by giving them small tips they can use when writing independently.  There are a lot of pages that are needed in order to use the lessons above.  Would you like those too?  Ok!

Just click on the above photo to download the week's lesson plans and any papers that you need to teach them!  

*Disclaimer*  This item is being hosted by Dropbox.  It is NOT to be sold in any way, shape, or form by others.  

Can you tell I <3 teaching writing.  All of that JUST for a week's worth of plans!  Whew!  You know what else makes writing a lot easier to teach?  Educents' new The WRITE Stuff bundle.  It's truly amazing!  This bundle has over 900 pages that will make your writing time really come to life!  Click on the photo below to check it out!  

Speaking of writing (see the theme here?) Want to know more about this little poster?  Click on it to find out more!  

And to thank you for reading all the way to the end of my post - the first 5 readers to comment below will receive my Pickin' Paragraphs activity for free!  Click on the photo to check it out.  (Make sure to leave your e-mail!)

Have a great week everyone!

Thursday, January 9, 2014

I Mustache You a Question - How to Get Your Kids to Ask Questions!

     One of the best ways to see if a students has understanding of a specific topic is to have him/her ask questions.  Asking questions is a higher order thinking skill that allows knowledge of the topic, along with questioning skills to make the questions meaningful.   Sure - most kids can probably ask the Who, What, When, Where, Why questions.  But how do you get them to ask questions like "Explain how you found the main idea."  or "Can you compare your answer to another problem we've done?"  This is where it can get challenging.

     At my school we're each given a specific skill, based on our needs, to focus on as a teacher for the year.  Mine was getting my students to ask questions during lessons.  So to help with that I came up with the idea of having the question words that I wanted to the students to use out for them to see.  Of course we all know mustaches are all the rage right now, so how could I pass up the opportunity to use them in my new questioning bulletin board?  So ta-da!  My new bulletin board!

There are a lot of different ways I use the board.  On each mustache is a question word that I'm wanting the kids to use.  The one on the yellow piece of paper in the middle is the 'question word of the week'.  This gives us a chance to focus on one specific word a week and how to use that word to ask meaningful questions.  If a student asks a question using the question word of the week - they get a small prize.  They're allowed to use any of them.  

At the bottom of the bulletin board you'll see some of Melonheadz ADORABLE mustache kidz!  LOVE THEM!  Each kid has a talk bubble with a question starter on it.  This gives those kids who need a little extra help coming up with a way to start their question some guidance.  

The mustaches are just push pinned on for easy movement around the board.  

I encourage the students to ask questions any time during a lesson, but there are two specific times when I focus on it.  For each lesson, I always model the concept of what we're learning.  When I'm done modeling, I USED to stand up and ask the student "What did you see me do?"  The students would then repeat back to me important steps they saw during my modeling.  I've changed that up now.  Instead I say, "Ask me a question about what you saw me do."  You should see them!  All of their heads turn to the bulletin board to search for a question word to use!  They ask such meaningful questions that allows me to then go back to what I modeled and teach!  

The other time I really focus on the questioning is during the student to student interaction part of the lesson.  Whether the grouping method is partners, small group, or whole group - questioning is important.  Having the students ask questions to one another strengthens their understanding.  To help make it more 'hands on' I created smaller mustaches that the students could hold up to their mouth (at a distance of course) to help ask each other questions!  Check them out!

I copied the exact same questioning words from my bulletin board onto these smaller mustaches.  I made multiple sets for whenever we are working in small groups.  These have become such a unique and important tool in our class.  The types and levels of questions my kids are asking is unbelievable!  

Sometimes, after I model in a lesson - I'll pull a mustache out of a cup at random and make a student ask me a question about the lesson using the word on the mustache.  It keeps them on their toes and they love it!  Yes, those darn little mustaches were a pain to cut out - but so well worth it!!  

I've put together the materials you need to create the bulletin board and small mustaches in a free packet on TPT.  I hope you find it useful!  Just click on the pic below to download.  

How do you get your kids to ask questions in class?

Monday, January 6, 2014

Indiana Snowpocalypse 2014!!

So today SHOULD have been my first day back to school, but instead I'm home.  Why you ask?  Because of SNOWPOCALYPSE 2014!!  We just got over 8 inches of snow on top of the 5 inches we received just a few days ago.  On top of that we're having -13 degree temps with -40 wind chill factors. Whew!  Glad I'm inside all warm and snuggly with my family!  We don't plan to go anywhere!!  

Here's a picture of my backyard.  It's hard to tell how much is actually out there, but it's over a foot of snow!!

So to help celebrate this Snowpacolypse 2014, the Indiana bloggers have put together a $1 SALE!  We have each chosen a few fun items from our store and put them on sale for just ONE dollar!  I'm not sure when the sale ends...  I'm going to keep mine on sale until I go back to school.  So maybe tonight, maybe tomorrow? You never know!  I'd stock up now!!  Check out the linky below to see everyone's amazing $1 products!  

I've put on my two new winter items in the sale!  Get them for just $1!  You can click on the pictures below to go directly to TPT.  :)

Stay safe and warm friends!  

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Sunday, December 1, 2013

Deck the Halls with TPT Linky!

Happy Happy Sunday!!  I'm so glad Sunday is here!  Why you may ask!?  Well, today is the day that I'm going Christmas shopping with my husband.  It's our family's first Christmas together and I can't wait to buy my little one's gifts and watch them open them.  Yes, I know - it means nothing to them now and they won't even remember it...but I will and I can't wait!  So we're out shopping all day today!  :)  AAAANNNNDDDD...Tomorrow is the HUGE TPT Cyber Monday (And Tuesday) sale!  My wishlist is stocked and I can't wait to shop till I drop!  I've decided to link up with the amazing Christina Bainbridge for her Deck the Halls with TPT linky party!

To check out the linky, make sure to click the button below - but before you do check out my playlist!!

My first one is a seasonal common core favorite:  Christmas Commas.  This is a great mini unit on different comma rules.  It includes dates, city/state, series, introduction yes, no, names.  There's a printable page for each rule and a sorting game to practice them all.  My kids LOVE these pages and I hope yours will too!  Click on the photo to check it out!

My second selection is...  Phonics Reading Skills.  I've been using this packet now for a few months and the improvement in my 3rd graders with phonics and phonemic awareness has drastically improved.  Even my higher readers had eye opening moments.  This packet has over 54 pages of reading skill sheets.  All of them are divided into 3 sections:  Teacher Model, Students Practice, and then On My Own.  Skills included in the packet are 
Beginning Sounds
Middle (vowel) Sounds
Ending Sounds
Same Sound (as underlined letters in a word)
Base/Root Words
Rhyming Words

These pages are great for centers, small groups, guided reading, whole group, etc.  I hope you love them as much as I do!  Click on the photos to check them out!

My final selection is...  Farm Frenzy Perimeter Project

This is one of my FAVORITE math projects to do each year.  The kids LOVE the farm clip art, the hands on application, and the real world connection that makes learning about perimeter really come to life.  Students are asked to help a farmer figure out how much wood he needs to make the pens for his farm.  Students choose which animals they want and then find the perimeter of each pen.  Then to challenge them, they're asked to figure out how much wood the farmer would need in all.  Everything you need is included!  I hope you'll check it out! :)  Below are some photos of my little ones enjoying the activity.  

Thanks to Christina again for hosting this amazing link up!  I hope you enjoy the sale and may your holiday shopping be easy on your wallet!  Have a great week!  

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