Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Bloggy Friends

When I began my journey in the blogging world, I had no idea where it would lead.  It began as a way to learn how to become a better teacher and share some tips and strategies that worked for me.  Along the way, I met an amazing group of friends.  My husband likes to call them my "imaginary friends" because we have never met in "real life."  It's funny how you can grow to cherish a group of friends that you've never shared the same state or even country with.  My bloggy friends, as I call them, have a very special place in my heart.  They are a group of people I go to for advice, share my struggles and joys with, and celebrate all aspects of life with.  I was deeply saddened when I found out my sweet friend Teresa from 2nd Grade Pig Pen passed away yesterday.  I think the fact that it hit me so hard, shows just how special she is.  She never complained even when she wasn't feeling well.  She always had a kind word for all of us. She had a special dance for every occasion.  My favorite dance was her money dance, followed by her snow dance!  She truly was a very special lady.  You will be forever missed, Teresa.
2nd Grade Pig Pen

Technology has completely changed how we interact with the world.   I know I am not the only teacher who has bloggy friends who they haven't met in real life, but are very real friends.  Life is short.  We are not guaranteed the next breath, much less the next day. I challenge you to take a few seconds and let those who have touched your heart, both real and imaginary, know just how very special they are.  Spread some of Teresa's kindness by telling your friends you love them. 


Saturday, April 12, 2014

Fashion and a Freebie

This is an unusual post for me.  I was contacted by Eshakti and asked if I wanted to try out one of their dresses.  After looking over their website, I said, "Yes!"  First, I couldn't believe the number of styles available.  It took me forever to decide which dress I wanted.  This is what I chose.

I absolutely love it!!  The color is fabulous!  It is bright but not over the top.  What I love most about the site is the ability to customize the dress for an extremely small fee.  Since I am a shorty, I was able to order the dress in a custom size.  This means you take all of your measurements and enter them into the site.  If you are not sure how to take a measurement, there is a picture to show you exactly what to do.  The dress arrived about 2 weeks after

ordering.  Besides the ability to customize the dress, I have 2 favorite features.  First, it has hidden pockets.  I don't know about you, but I am always taking things from kids and sticking them in my pockets while I am teaching.  It is very hard to find dresses with pockets.

The other feature I love are these little snaps in the shoulders.  With this, you don't have to worry about an straps slipping down.  I hate worrying about if my straps are showing in sleeveless dresses.

Head over and check out their dresses.  Right now, they are on sale.  Buy 2, get 1 FREE!

Now for the freebie!  

This is a simple snatch game that students can play in pairs to practice addition. You will need one copy of the Snatch game board, 2 dice, and 10 tokens per set of students. This is a perfect addition to your  math workstations.  You can download it by clicking on the picture, or you can click {here}
Happy Easter!!


Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Oral Writing

Have you ever heard of Whole Brain Teaching?  It is not new, but it is new to me.  My friend Christina from Sugar and Spice introduced me to it and the amazing benefits for kids.  When I retuned to school after Christmas break, I began to implement some of the strategies from Whole Brain Teaching.  I saw incredible results in writing.  My kids struggle to write a complete sentence.  We have been working on writing a basic complete sentence all year, and no matter what I have done, most of my students still have not mastered this concept.  Until now!!!  With the use of Oral Writing, my kids are writing paragraphs.  We went from unable to write a complete sentence to writing a 4 sentence paragraph in just a few weeks.

On Friday, we discussed our favorite vehicles.  Since I have almost all boys, this topic grabbed their attention immediately.  We made a list of vehicles on the board.  When a student volunteered an answer, they had to back it up by using a "because" sentence.   For example, one student said, "I like limos because they are long."  We proceeded in this manner until we had a list of several different kinds of vehicles on the board.

Then, we used this frame to write an oral paragraph.

 Each time we orally wrote our paragraph, we would use different vehicles with different reasons.
After the class had practiced many different versions of the paragraph, they were turned loose to write their own paragraph independently.

I'll be honest, this is the time my class falls apart.  It seems no matter how much I explain and we practice, the class completely loses it during independent practice.  I always have a line of students around my desk with questions and a couple who have given up and have found something to play with.  Sound familiar?  Well, this no longer occurs in my classroom.

This is what happened:

This first student is almost a non-reader.  She wrote this entire paragraph without any help.  She didn't even ask a question.  I didn't see her until she brought me her paper to look over.  It is AMAZING!!
(Three of my favorite vehicles are Mustangs, yellow taxi, and Hot Rods.  I like Mustangs because they are fast.  I like yellow taxi because they can take us anywhere.  I like Hot Rods because they are fun.)

 These are two more student examples.

Not only did the kids write complete paragraphs, they all had complete sentences.  Each sentence began with a capital letter and ends with correct punctuation.  They also capitalized proper nouns.  Oral writing has been a miracle for my kids!

I hope you will check out my friend's blog for more ideas and more info.


Saturday, March 15, 2014

Lucky Leprechaun Snatch Game (Freebie)

This year has been crazy busy!  This is a quick post to share a game my kids LOVE to play.

 It's super simple.  This is a partner game.  Each student needs 7-9 tokens.  (They both need the same amount, but a different color than their partner.) Each set of partners will need 2 dice and 1 game board.  Students take turns rolling the dice.  Student 1 rolls both dice and adds (or multiplies) the numbers.  Student 1 takes a token and covers that number on the game board.  Student 2 rolls the dice, adds the numbers, and covers the space.  If Student 1 has already covered the space with 1 token, Student 2 can "snatch" the spot by removing Student 1's token and covering the space with his own token.  If a student rolls a number that he already has his token on, he can "lock" it by placing a second token on the space.  Now this space cannot be snatched by the opponent.  You can get this game {here}


Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Sailing Through Spring

My class has turned into a bunch of non-stopped talkers.  I can barely get a word in edgewise so I came up with the "Yakker Tracker"  It is super easy to use and has greatly reduced the amount of talking in my classroom.  

The day starts with everyone with 3 plain sticks in their pocket.  When a student talks out, he loses a stick.  If the student loses all 3 sticks, he earns a dreaded red stick.  Each red stick costs the student 5 minutes of their recess.  (Of course, you can adapt this to any number of sticks/consequences that are appropriate for your class.)

The first day, about half of the class lost all 3 of their sticks.  By the second day only about a fourth of the class had lost all of their sticks.  By the end of the week, only a few kids had lost a stick.  No one had earned a red stick.  The best part, I'm not fussing or complaining.  The kids are catching themselves talking out and stopping themselves.  It is changing the end of my school year!

The Yakker Tracker is super easy to make and you probably have all of the materials already in your classroom.  Print the pockets onto card stock or other heavy paper.  Fold and glue together.  I found it worked best to glue the flaps on the back like this.

After I had folded and glued all of the pockets, I glued them onto a poster board.  I laminated the whole thing.  Next, I used a craft knife to cut open the slits for each pocket.  And that's it.  Super easy.  You can pick up your copy of the Yakker Tracker HERE.  It will only be free during the sale.

Everything in my store is 20% off during the sale.  Make sure you use the promo code to get the extra 10% off.  Happy shopping!

Head over to my friends' blogs for more great ideas.


Thursday, January 9, 2014

How do I outsmart my kids on the iPad?

Just before Christmas break, I was blessed with 5 iPads to use in my classroom.  I'm not sure who was more excited, me or the kids.  I am constantly amazed how naturally technology comes to the kids.  I set up an app I wanted them to work on after they finished their math assignment.  They worked on the app as I had planned for about 2 rounds.  Then, they quickly figured out how to change the settings so they didn't have to think.  All of the solutions were the same answer so it became a typing race.  So, I had to get smarter.  This is one of those times that made me really glad I had an intern who knew this neat little trick.

Here's a screen shot of the app, Math Duel, I had the kids working on.  As you can see, the settings button is easily accessible to the kids.  

Here is how to outsmart your kids.  This works on any app on the iPad.
1.  Go into settings.  Click on "General".
2.  Click on "Guided Access" and turn it on.

3.  You will see this screen. Set a four digit password.

4.  Open Math Duel.  Hit the "home" button at the bottom of the iPad three times quickly.  This will shrink the screen you are working on and give you three buttons at the bottom of the screen.  Using your finger, circle the "settings" button for each player.  Make sure that you get the whole area.  You can can stretch and move the circle once you draw it.  This will prevent the students from being able to use this button.  Once you are ready to move on,  touch the  word "resume" at the top of your screen.  

The kids cannot change the settings of this app without the password.  They also cannot leave the app.  Their only choice is to play the app as you have set it up.  To leave the app, hit the "home" button three times and enter the password.  


Friday, January 3, 2014

Writing Intervention

I don't know why writing is so hard.  It's hard to teach.  It's even harder to learn.  My kiddos HATE to write.  Just saying the words, "We are going to write...."  brings moans, groans, and tears.  Lots of tears.  Until now.  What?!  Yes, you heard me correctly.  I have finally found a writing system that works for my kids.  No more tears in my room.  It is super simple and can be used with any curriculum, program, etc.

I created this little gem for my kiddos.  It contains step-by-step directions for the teacher with a daily plan.  I have outlined how to use this process to write one paragraph a week.  Steps include brainstorming, writing, editing, and revising.  I have also included rubrics for students to self-check their work after revision.  

After this process is taught to the class, this would make a perfect no prep workstation for your classroom.  Each day, the students would do one part of the writing process.  By the end of the week, each student would have a piece of writing ready to publish.  How cool would it be to see each student's progress in writing as the year goes on!

For your high flyers or older students, I also created an additional graphic organizer to help students master multi-paragraph writing on the same topic.  (Directions for the teacher are also included.)  

I've only been using this approach to writing for the first semester and have seen tremendous growth in my students' writings.

I hope you can use it and see the same improvements in your kiddos.


Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The Best Year Yet!

So here we are looking 2014 right in the eye.  Have you decided on a New Year's Resolution yet?  Is it to get in better shape?  To de-stress your life?  To amp up your teaching game?  Well, whatever it is, we're here to help you...although we all think you're perfect just the way you are!
I have teamed up with several fabulous teacher bloggers to bring you The Best Year Yet Blog Hope and Giveaway.  
From New Year's Eve until January 2, you can hop around our blogs and grab a FREEBIE from each of us.  Be sure to enter the Rafflecopter at The Teaching Tribune for your chance to win one of these fabulous prizes.

Today I am offering the product below as my freebie.  Simply click on the picture to take you to my store to download it.

While you're at my store you may also want to check out these products, just perfect for those first few weeks back at school.

Be sure to continue the circle on the blog hop by clicking the button below.

Fifth in the Middle

We truly hope that 2014 is your best year yet and that it brings you good health, happiness and many other good things.


Sunday, December 15, 2013

Mad Science for Primary Grades

Are you ready to release the mad scientist in your students?  Well, I am here to help!

I have teamed up with some amazing teachers to offer you this bundle of science curriculum!  Included is experiments, centers, interactive notebooking, vocabulary, posters, and so much more! 

I know you will love my Plant Unit!  It's perfect for those little guys.  It contains:
5 mini books
graphic organizers
4 science experiments with journal pages for each
1 poetry lesson
2 workstation activities
2 art lessons

But that's not it! There are 5 other products to get those mad scientists learning!  All together over 350 pages of materials for 68% off!  $14.99 for months of science fun!  Check out what else is included: 

Be sure to check out all these products in use at these blogs below:

If you are ready to purchase.. head on over to Educents now because it's only available for a limited time!  

Happy experimenting everyone!


Friday, November 29, 2013

Black Friday

Just a quick post to let you know that I am having a Black Friday Special.  My entire store is on sale for 20% off.  I am also throwing a Buy 2 products, Get 1 FREE.  (Free product must be of equal or lesser value of your purchase average.)  This offer is only good from November 29, 12:01am until noon.  That's a full 12 hours of shopping!
To receive your free product, email me your TpT username so I can confirm your purchase.  Be sure to include the product you would like free.  I will email it to you as soon as possible.  Today is my daughter's birthday so I will be busy with family.  Be sure to check in on FB.  I am going to have a few surprises for you through out the day.  Some of my good friends are having Black Friday Specials also. Make sure you check out their stores.


Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Tried it Tuesday- Text Based Evidence

I'm linking up with Fourth Grade Flipper for Tried it Tuesday.

My good friend Christina at Sugar and Spice has created an AMAZING resource for finding evidence in the text.  This is a skill that my kids really struggle with.  Christina has made this skill very easy to teach.  She created a set of fiction and nonfiction passages that teaches children how to read the same piece of text multiple times.  Then she gives the kids 3 specific pieces of information to find in the text.  She wraps up by asking the students one question they have to write a response for. 

You can read more about her passages at her blog.  You can grab the freebie while you're there:

Or, you can grab the whole pack here:

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