Tuesday, December 31, 2013

One Little Word for 2014

I had a nice little blog post all typed up in my head when I came across this. Sometimes fewer words are better, so thank you to Sunny Days in Second Grade for making our lives simpler today.

I had a gut-twisting realization this fall. I guess I've always known it, tried to live it, but a facebook post made me rethink it. It went something like "Kids are learning by making mistakes". Of course. We all know that. But I was thinking about teaching while in the shower (the best thinking place besides driving alone) and all of a sudden I really understood what this meant - like in a Big Picture kind of way. 

My expectations are too high most of the time. Sure, I can let kids make mistakes with math and reading and spelling and all the other academic things. But when it comes to classroom manners, socialization skills and behavior expectations, I am way, way hard on the Fab Fours. 

So my word for 2014 is Patience (with a capital P). I am going to be patient with the blurts, the sidetalking, the farting, the hallway talking, the too-loud lunchroom shenanagins, the interruptions. I am going to guide my students, with scaffolding and love, on these important points of learning.

What's your word of 2014? Link up with Sunny Days and share. 

Aha! I found the link! This was my inspiration.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Thankful Thursday Gratitude Party

It's time to say thanks to a blogger who inspired me this week. Matt over at Digital: Divide and Conquer has been teaching me some pretty cool tricks the last couple of weeks. I love that there are teachers out there are passionate about using technology in the classroom and are willing to share their experiences through blogging. 

One of my new favorite teaching tools, thanks to Matt, is a visual organizer for bookmarks called Symbaloo. Symbaloo is providing my students with a single page filled with all the links they may need as resources for an inquiry unit. I don't have to worry about my Fab Fours coming with something unsavory while searching, or using valuable time sifting for relevant links. 

Thank you, Matt!! Check out Matt's post on Symbaloo here

Which blogger are you thankful for this week? Link up and share!
Here are the guidelines:

1) copy and paste the link to the post that inspired you into your Thankful post
2) send your thank-ee a little note so that they can bask in your gratitude. We all love a little love, don't we?
3) use the button and link back to the Thankful Thursday Grateful Party post of the week
4) link up!

This first Grateful Party will start this Thursday. I can't wait to see who you are thankful for!

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Five for Friday, Freebie Friday and Fabulous Feedback Friday!

If we were bowling this post would be a turkey!

First, Fabulous Feedback Friday. I've been watching to see if Christina Bainbridge does another one, but I haven't seen her post one in a couple of weeks. I am carrying on, because I love this concept so.

This week's Fabulous Feedback goes to Christine Currie on her feedback for Transition Words - Intermediate Writing Lessons. She says:

This is great! I have been looking for a way to introduce transition words and phrases. This packet will provide exactly what I need to get started. Thanks!

It is really satisfying to hear that something I created for my own teaching is helping another teacher as well. You can grab your own unit at my TPT store!

#1 I am SO tired!!! Getting back into the swing of things is exhausting. It's a self-imposed misery, I know. Too much fun during the summer makes for a grumpy teacher in late August. 

#2 Peacock nail polish!! I don't think this one even needs an explanation. 

#3 Gross things we find when we set up our room for a new year. Two decomposed jelly beans stuck to a staple.

#4 Naughty Dog covered with teeny burrs.

#5 New editing center for writing. I love this. LOVE. this. My writers can move down the line and do each step of editing. All the resources they need are right here. 

It's the mad rush now to get ready for the start of the year. I know you ALL are feeling it. 

Check out this sweet little Freebie to help you out!

CAFE poster set for the Cutie Owls classroom design!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Thankful Thursday Gratitude Party

This week I am thankful for Christina Bainbridge at Bunting, Books and Bainbridge. 

She lost her class pet this week. Her post reminded me that our little furry (or scaly) friends in our rooms are beloved by our students, and losing a class pet is like losing a member of the class. Thanks, Christina, for sharing your loss and starting a great discussion about kids and and the lost of a furry friend. 

Who are you thankful for this week?

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Win, Loss and Cost Linky

I'm linking up with Matt from Digital: Divide and Conquer for Win, Loss and Cost. By the way, if you've never checked Matt out, I gotta tell you he's got some flaming hot ideas.

I also will tell you before starting that I hate blogger on iPad. I can never get pictures to upload and it makes me cranky.  Like, moth-stuck-in-a-lampshade crazy.

I created several new products this week for back-to-school. A WIN because it means I 'm actually  working on stuff.  AWIN is also my garden, which is bursting with fresh produce. Last WIN is the littlest Sparkle's success with learning her locker combo and the biggest Sparkle's extreme sense of humor this week. Za-Zing!

Sleep. Because I have to begin functioning like a normal person. The alarm remains set for 7 so that I do not go into night-owl shock on Sept. 3.

All new fabric for my bulletin boards. Tired of black. I have decided that orange is the new black.

Go ahead and head on over to link yourself up!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Give that Girl a Can of Spray Paint...

...and she can change the world. 

or at least one ugly tree. 

"Hello? 1995? I have your tree here."

My team member was throwing this baby out. I couldn't let it go. I've always wanted a tree in my classroom. But you know me. I just can't leave anything alone. 

I can't show you yet, though. It needs to be festooned with various sized white twinkle lights and installed in my reading corner first. But I'll give you a sneak peak.

Is that paint to die for, or what? After the spraying we were sitting at the kitchen table with the evening sunlight streaming in. The littlest Sparkle asked if I was a vampire because apparently I was looking like Edward Cullen. 

I *heart* glitter. 

I got into my classroom today. If you follow me on facebook you'll know that the classroom fairies did not pay me a visit. Things were as desperate as they were three weeks ago. The littlest Sparkle and I worked for over an hour and made some  headway, so I'm feeling good about that. 

I'm also thinking hard about some of the tools I'll need this year. There are some areas of weakness I need to address. One area I've mentioned before is spelling. Our word work block is only 15 minutes, so whatever I do it has to be quick and efficient. I'm not willing to give in to kill-and-drill and long memorized spelling lists. It has to be exploratory and investigative in nature,the kids need to be learning the spelling patterns from the phonics and rules ends, both. 

I'm proud to roll out this little sweetie called L.I.P.S. (don't you love it already?)

This is a 5 day system that uses composition notebooks as the vehicle but L.I.P.S. is the real driver. It doesn't include any spelling lists or recommended spelling patterns (yet), because I wanted to keep it flexible. I'll be starting with long vowels the first week of school and work our way up from there. 

a set of explanation pages for each day helps you understand what your students will be doing

each day has a short activity that should take less than 15 minutes

This hot little number is ready for you at my TPT store. I can't wait to get it ready for my own class. 

The next thing I created was a writing project for the first day (or week) of school. It's called Time Capsule Writing Kit - A beginning of the year writing project, an end of the year reflecting tool. 

Students will write a letter to themselves which then gets stored in a time capsule until the end of the year. They'll open the capsule in the spring and reflect on how far they've come in 9 month's time. The kit comes with a pre-write, a draft letter and a final draft for both the beginning of the year and the end.

An explanation page will give you some suggestions on using the kit. It might be nice to tuck a "hopes and dreams" into each student's capsule, so a page is included for a parent, a teacher, or even the child themselves to write out. A portrait page will be a sweet keepsake for each student.

This baby is also at my TPT store. We'll be starting this on our first day of school.

Well, it's 11:52 and I had promised, promised, myself that I would go to bed at a decent hour because I have *dum dum dummmmmm* PD all day tomorrow. I'm going to be a sad, sorry mess come 7:00 am.

Don't forget to start thinking about who you are going to thank for Thankful Thursday's Gratitude Party!

Thankful Thursday

Last night my mom helped me cut out parts for 25 owls. We sat together and watched Breaking Bad with the Mr. (my mom had never watched it, and now she's hooked on season 4 episode 9).

It takes a village. It really does.

I got to thinking this morning about the blessings of support my teaching gets from the people around me. It includes my bloggy friends, too. I get so many great ideas and inspiration from the talented teachers who I read from every day.

I'm going to start a Gratitude Party. Every Thursday I'm going to say thanks to a blogger who has inspired me that week. Would you like to join me? The posts will look like this:

Today I am thankful for Kristin at A Teeny Tiny Teacher. 

A Teeny Tiny Teacher

This blog post made me laugh! More importantly, she reminded me that I am not alone in my stressed world of August. Thank you, Kristin!

That's it!

Here are the guidelines:

1) copy and paste the link to the post that inspired you into your Thankful post
2) send your thank-ee a little note so that they can bask in your gratitude. We all love a little love, don't we?
3) use the button and link back to the Thankful Thursday Grateful Party post of the week
4) link up!

This first Grateful Party will start this Thursday. I can't wait to see who you are thankful for!

Monday, August 19, 2013

Are you ready for the ride?

August is like a roller coaster.

June and July are a day at the park. Strolling, eating, laughing, recharging. July 31 hits and you decide it's time for one last hurrah the big coaster, the one that is thrilling and scary and almost too big to imagine conquering. It's a ceremonial ending, the climax that can only be handled after a whole lot of fun has gotten your batteries back where they belong, at full charge.

August 1st, you step in line. It's a long line, and each step is an inch closer to awareness that something big is coming. The Big Ride looming can't be ignored, the insistent tugging is pulling you.You know there is no bigger fun, but the worry seems like a big hurdle to get over.

August 19th, and you are sweating but jittering with excitement at what you know is coming. The familiar thrill is surfacing in your memory, and old friend that you have the best of times with. The next next train of cars is yours.

August 25th, you climb in. You wish you could run away from the overwhelming feelings, but you can't feel the thrill without them. You ratchet up, up, up. If you squeeze your eyes shut you'll miss the look on your friends faces as they ride with you. The faces show fear, wonder, excitement, impatience and a little dread. Then you're at the top, hanging motionless for a second or two.

Gravity pulls you inevitably down and you scream in delight. Sustained joy on everyone's face. You live all summer for this; it's what you were made to do.

Enjoy the ride, friends.

Have you entered to win this fabulous Build-an-Owl Kit yet? You don't even have to do anything to enter! It's easy peasy. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

If you get nervy when Open House or Meet the Teacher rolls around, a Survival Kit can help ease your freak out. It now comes in TWO designs!! Everything is editable so you can customize it for your class!

Today is the LAST DAY of the TPT Back to School Sale. Don't miss out on 28% off off your favorite sellers! Everything in my store is on sale, so this is the time to stock up!!

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Open House Freak Out

Don't even try to tell me you haven't been there.

I freak out every year. Every. Single. Year.

Open House night.

It's a mix of being so excited to meet my newest students and their parents and this fear that it's also a first impression of my skills as a teacher. Kind of a big pressure. Mix in the chaos, craziness and overall panic of all the PD, classroom cleaning and organization and uncorrected summer sleep schedule and you've got manic city.

This year I decided that I was not going to have the freak out. I was going to plan and work and organize and these three things would be my saving grace.

Well, and this...... The Open House and Meet the Teacher Event Survival Kit.

It has absolutely everything I need to pull this event off with a smile and minimal deodorant. 

It has invitations to make my new Fab Fours and their parents feel welcome and wanted. I want to meet them all, I really really do! It's important that they know that. 

The Survival Kit has a welcome poster, step-by-step task cards to control the flow of the evening and labels for everything my new friends are bringing with them or filling out. It also has a display poster that explains how my donation center works, with cards that list a few items on our wishlist.

I always forget about asking about volunteers, so I made sure that there is an explanation poster for that as well as a sign up form. I like parents to shed a little light on their learners, so I included a short questionaire. My favorite thing, though, is the contact half-sheet that lets my parents tell me when the best time to contact them is, what phone number they prefer to be reached at, and a preferred email. These are all the little details that send me digging into the emergency forms.

Lastly, it had to be easy for me to use. I included a table of contents and section covers to help me navigate and quickly find what I need. 

The best part is everything is customizable so that I can make it seamlessly flow into my classroom design. It's important to me that I be able to add text and edit files for my own information, and this Kit delivers. It comes with a print-only .pdf that can be customized with hand-written specifics, and also with a Word .doc with editable text boxes. 

Did you notice that it coordinates with the Dots and Chevron Classroom Design Kit? I love that. 

I'm already feeling a bit calmer towards open house night. 

You can grab your Survival Kit for 28% off today and tomorrow. Don't miss out on the big Back to School TPT sale!! Use the promo code BTS13 to score big on deals!

Saturday, August 17, 2013

The Best TPT Sale of the Year & "The Best and Most"

Are you so excited for the TPT sale that starts tonight at midnight? I am!! I can't wait to fill up my cart with all the things I've been looking at to start up the year.

I am participating, so head on over to my TPT store to get 28% off of everything! You can load up your cart tonight and check out at midnight if you want!

Christine Bainbridge did some reflecting on her favorite products and came up with this great linky called "The Best and Most." It's like the yearbook spread where kids get voted to be the "best dressed" or the "most likely to succeed." I'd love  to say that I won a category or two myself, but they didn't vote on "biggest wallflower" or "geekiest dork". And you know what? I'm A-ok with not making the yearbook spread *wink*.

My "Teacher's Pet" is Transition Words and Phrases in Intermediate Writing. When I moved into fourth grade I so didn't know how to teach writing. It's very, very different from first grade writing. I wrote this unit for my own teaching, and it was key to helping me understand teaching writing better. It locks into the CCSS for transitional words and phrases.
Target grades: 3-6

Teacher's Pet

"Most Likely to Help Your Students Succeed" is Math Fact Fluency Flip and Slide Card Kits. Fact memorization doesn't come easy for all people. Some kids need a tactile way to explore math facts. This kit lets kid get their fingers busy as they discover addends and sums. There's a set for multiplication, too!
Target Grades: 1-4

Most Likely to Help Your Students Succeed

"Best Couple" doubles as "Cutest Couple." Owl Theme Letterhead, Labels and Clipart is a perfect date night with Design an Owl Classroom Craft Kit. Pull your hallway decor into your classroom and coordinate it all with these adorable sets. This is what I am using in my classroom this year!
Target grades: K-6

Cutest Couple

A big thanks to Christina for hosting! If you'd like to get in on the linky, just follow the links to her blog. 

Happy shopping! 

Friday, August 16, 2013

Fabulous Feedback #2

It's time to dig deep in the well  of gratitude and give a shout-out of thanks to a product user for leaving meaningful and thorough feedback on something they bought from my TPT store. Christina Bainbridge at Bunting, Books and Bainbridge began this linky party a few weeks ago, and I am so thankful to her for thinking of it! Everyone loves getting a big "thank you", but it's really special to have a detailed comment written. It tells us so much about our products and their usefulness. Feedback also helps us teacher-authors to reflect on what could be changed or improved.

The feedback I am sharing with you this week is from "First Grade Common Core State Standards Mathematics Assessment Pack". This is an assessment kit that individually assesses each standard for math in first grade.

The first comment comes from SpeechMed:

An absolutely wonderful resource. A product that will help me assess quickly and pinpoint strengths and weaknesses - can't wait to use this in the 2013-2014 school year. Thank you so much!

The second comment comes from Regina Lorentz:

I am a huge Teachers Pay Teachers user (and seller) and I can stay without a doubt that this is the BEST product I have ever downloaded. It is so complete and accurate! I love how you allow the students to demonstrate their understanding of each strand in several different ways. I am using this assessment at three different points in the year to track student growth. 

My principal and I agree you should quit teaching and publish more of these resources full time!

Any thoughts about making the same product for kindergarten and second?

I love that in both of these comments the user tells me how they are going to use the product. I know how I would use it, but it's invaluable seeing the product through another's eyes.

Both SpeechMed and Regina Lorentz have earned a free product of their choosing from my TPT store. Thank you, both of you!!

Freebie Friday *more owls!* & TPT Back-to-school sale!!! 300 Follower Giveaway Winners!!!!!

How did Friday's get so busy? I don't know but I think it happened when August reared it's ugly and (not so) hot head.

Let's get down to business, shall we? And fun business it is!!!

Owls, owls, owls. I just can't get enough of them. At open house this year my students will be creating their very own owl to hang in the hallway that is unique and individual as they are. In fact, that's my fall theme - birds of a feather. *insert plug for Perry the Peacock... what?! you've never heard of Perry the Peacock?!! Look to the right of this page and click on the link. There will be no regrets, I promise*
As I was saying, this is a small and quick project that my students will be doing on open house night. I'll get these cute owls hung with each student's name in the hallway as my welcome bulletin board.

the end product looks like this! aren't they irresistable?

I did a demo with my Sparkles and documented the whole process. Here it is...

You start with the printable template and an assortment of colored or patterned paper. I chose scrapbooking paper that came in 25 sheet packs for $5 at Wal-Mart,

I also used foam sheets to trace the templates on so that they would be sturdy and usable for many years to come. 

I printed the templates and then cut them out.

Then I traced the templates onto the foam sheets. It took two 8.5"x11" sheets.

After the foam templates were cut out and labeled with a Sharpie, I chose the papers I wanted to use for the body parts. The idea is that students will choose different colors and patterns for each part, making their owl as individual as they are!

The littlest Sparkle traced the patterns onto the backs of her chosen paper.

Then she cut the pieces out. 

Since I love playing teacher the Sparkles put up with my step-by-step directions. I wanted to see how the process played out in real time with real kids. 

LS (Littlest Sparkle) glued on the pupils and the eye lid onto the eye ring. 

She glued on the belly, leaving a space at the bottom so that the background paper made a nice frame around the oval belly.

She flipped her bad boy over and glued his feet to the backside of the body. This made it look like the feet were nestled under those colorful feathers. 

She flipped him back over and glued on his eyes.

Time for the wings! LS decided to have her owl waving, so one wing was glued to the front....

and the other in back. 

Well, hellooooo Mr. Owl!!

Every owl needs a little shine in his eyes so LS added a "Twinkle".

I secretly was hoping for derpy twinkles!

I bet you can't wait to get your hands on this kit, can you? You're in luck because I just posted it NOW, at 1:34 am. 

This kit comes with some swag. Print out the mini-posters or lettering and you have a nearly-instant and kid-created hallway attraction!

hallway name tags

8.5"x11" mini-poster, comes in grades K-5

part of the lettering for "Look whooo's here"

Big bubbly "whooo's", just waiting for you to print and trim!

You know how I love a giveaway, so enter here to win one of TWO Design-an-Owl Classroom Craft Kits!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

It can't be a Friday without a Freebie!! You can get the bulletin board portion of this kit for free!

and of course this Freebie is linked to TBA's Freebie Friday. Thanks TBA!! You ROCK!!

and now let's take a moment from our irregularly scheduled program to plug the Teacher's Pay Teacher's Annual Back To School Sale!! 

Of course I'll be participating, and you can get this boodle (yes, really a word!) and a heck of a lot more at my TPT store. Stock up and check out on Sunday or Monday for 28% off of everything I have to offer!

And last, but certainly not least, are the winners of P&P's 300 follower Giveaway!!

but first, let's see who won last week's Dots and Chevron Classroom Design Kit, shall we?
LuAnn Clark Garrett 

Luann, I'll be sending you an email with your swag soon!! Be on the look out!!!

Now..........drumroll, please......

Winner Pack #1 goes to.....
Schoolhouse Treasures!!

Winner Pack #2 goes to...
Roxanne Clinton!!

Winner Pack #3 goes to...
Karen Barnes Huffman!!!

Winner Pack #4 goes to...

Winner Pack #5 goes to...
Michelle Jaquillard!!!

Oh boy, that was fun!! Thank you so much for all your entries, donations, and absolute awesomeness. I'll be sending out emails to winner and donators by this weekend. 

Happy Friday, happy weekend!!