Friday, March 13, 2015

Are your little LEPRECHAUNS' desks clean? Lucky you! You hopped on over to my blog on a great day. I'm so excited to be joining this blog hop because this year for St. Patrick's Day my partners and I have some tricks up our sleeves. I am not one to normally celebrate this holiday because I am 0% Irish, but my husband loves St. Patty's Day and that makes my two kids a whole 4% Irish! hahaha. So we plan on enjoying some green eggs and ham on Tuesday morning and dressing in green for school. I was so excited, I even bought my two little leprechauns matching t-shirts. They already wore them earlier in the month for green day, but they are perfect for Tuesday too! I am excited to be sharing with you some adorable little clean desk reward cards that I will be using Tuesday morning. During bus dismissal, I always tell my students to check the inside of their desk to make sure it is neat and organized. Only about 8/24 listen to this. The rest enjoy living on the edge. Tuesday morning the people that listened will find this note in their desk with a special treat.

Have you been to the Dollar Tree lately? They are in St. Patrick's Day overload and have everything I could possibly need to bribe excite my students for the week. I grabbed some good luck pencils, clover themed sun glasses, and chocolate gold coins. I was also excited to see that Big Y now has a peanut/tree nut free bakery section and has adorable clover themed cookies. I plan on grabbing a few containers of those to make the day special as well. My class received an at home project last week for creating a leprechaun trap. I told them it would count for science and writing extra credit. The talented Jivey, came up with the idea and so many of my students JUMPED at the chance to show their creativity. Check back later this week, so I can show you the fun pictures of how the day actually turned out!

Ready to grab another freebie? Check out Emily's blog, I Love My Classroom.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Saving One Classroom at a Time!

Have you heard the surprise? There is a TPT sale coming up to help clear out your wishlist! With the upcoming TpT sale, we want to help you find "heroic" products that have helped others in their classrooms.

I recently received some wonderful feedback on my daily morning work for a year bundle.  I chose one that sums up exactly what I was aiming for when making this product. Thank you Lauren H. for letting me know how much you are also enjoying the morning work! She stated, "I love how each week is only one skill to focus on, this helps my students be more independent with their morning work and doesn't overwhelm them! Thank you for sharing this resource!" This bundle will provide you with a year's worth of morning work exercises that are self explanatory, educational, and fun. These activities can be used as whole-group instruction, in small groups, centers, or as homework.They serve as a great way to allow parents to see what grammar skill was worked on each week, are directly related to CCSS in grammar, and are a simple way of assessment.

Click on the image above to check out our amazing morning work or click {here} to go to my other bundled products that will be at a SUPER price during the sale.
Browse around the linky for other heroic products, or feel free to grab the graphic and link up your own! Link to a post containing one heroic product and its feedback. Use the graphic if you wish. (No direct links to stores or products, please.) Include the linky button and link it back to this post so others may find great heroic products.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Spark Student Motivation: Way to Go- Postcards!

If you read my blog, you know I love motivating my students to do their best. I also love letting their parents know how their children are doing. One of our school wide goals is to promote teacher/parent communication. I whipped up a quick post card design and sent them off to be printed. These cards quickly became a huge hit with the teachers, students, and parents.

I wanted the cards generic looking so every teacher, in our school, could use them. I grabbed a picture of the school and put it on the front. I also used our school sign, mascot, and PBIS traits to make it personalized. The back has plenty of room for a note from the teacher and the student's address.

Teachers send these out for a number of reasons...growth, improvements, recognition, achievements, or really anything. I made it a habit to send a few out every Friday. I put a star next to the student's name in my grade book, when I send them a card, so I can keep track of who received one and who did not. We are lucky because if we put these cards in the "interoffice mailbox", they will provide the stamp and mail them to the student for us. So it is a free way to recognize students for doing awesome, make them feel important by receiving mail, and let the parents see that you care.

You should see the students after they receive one of these postcards. The grin from ear to ear, thank me, and then show me their best behavior... hoping they will get another postcard soon. I've even received thank you emails from parents, telling me how excited their child was to receive mail and how proud they were of their child. One of my students even told me that they earned dinner out at a restaurant from the positive report sent home. haha

Vistaprint Tips: Are you familiar with this printing service? If not, you need to check it out. They have AMAZING customer service and are always available to help. Before ordering need to search "Vistaprint coupon codes" in Google or your favorite search engine. 

Personally, I like using the website for coupon codes. I've always had good luck with them.

The above picture is what you should look for. I always try to score free shipping too because that can always be a deal breaker. I think we ended up with 500 postcards for $18.00 for the school. I was excited for that deal and so was my principal (who graciously paid for them).

Let me know if you have any questions, I'd love to help you out designing, finding coupons, or ordering your postcards! For more ways to motivate your students, check out Joanne's linky for the week. She is always so creative!

Monday, February 2, 2015

FREE Reading Comprehension App!

Did you ever find an awesome app that you love and want to share it with everyone you know? Well this summer I randomly came across a great app that was free for the day. I used it often in my fourth grade classroom and don't be turned away by the name because it is definitely appropriate for 3-5 students. I was super excited to find out today that it is back to being free. I don't know why or for how long, but all I know is you need to grab it and fast! I think it is normally $2.99, but still a steal for everything it does!

As you can see in the picture above, the app is called "3rd Reading". There are other apps for different grades in a bundle,  for 4th and 5th, so if you like this, that might be an option if you wanted to spend money. 3rd Grade Reading Comprehension, from Peekaboo Studios, offers ten reading comprehension passages with ten or more questions keyed to each. Questions range from rote comprehension to inference, vocabulary, summarizing and sequencing tasks. The app is simple and straightforward. It will provide reading comprehension practice. As soon as a student chooses an answer, the app tells the student if it is correct or not. If it is not correct, the app shows the student in the text where the answer was found. It is a great way for students to go back and reread for the correct answer choice. 

My students love using any type of technology in the classroom, so during reading time, I have no problem letting a few students work on this app. It keeps them engaged in their work and they love knowing their score right away. 

Hope it helps you out too! :)

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Spark Student Motivation Saturday! DRA Reading Certificates!

For the past few years Robyn and I always sent a note home with parents to let them know their child's DRA score. We test for reading scores in the fall, winter, and spring, so the levels are constantly moving. When sending a note or email home to parents, we did learn that they needed more information than just a number. We created these adorable certificates and not only did we love them, but the students and parents did too! I finally had the time to bundle them together and make them TPT worthy, so check them out here!

Since I am showing off these beauties, I wanted to link up with my BBB, Joanne, for her Spark Student Motivation linky! We've been giving these out in class and making a huge deal for the students when they receive the awards. Joanne is the queen of motivation and taught me the power of flickering the lights on and off in a previous post. So I tried it and BAM...eyes lit up, ohhs and ahhs were heard all around, and loud claps and cheers filled the room. Could that be any more motivating for a student? What is even better, are the emails from parents telling me how excited their child was to show them the certificate. The parents are always thankful for the update and for knowing their child's capabilities as a reader. 

This B&W (printer friendly) bundle covers all DRA levels from 2-70. I also made the certificates specific for boys and girls. The clip art is adorable, and copied on colored paper they look awesome! I know they motivate my students and believe it or not the helpful information included at the bottom motivates parents to spend more time reading with their children to see and test out the strategies.

Have a wonderful weekend!

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

More on Guided Reading! (A flurry of pictures!)

I know I promised to blog about what goes on during guided reading...well I finally got around to take pictures today. My class has successfully mastered all of the stations going on in my classroom and because of this, I am starting to see an improvement in fluency, comprehension, vocabulary, spelling, and grammar! So exciting. 

Sorry this is blurry, but it is updated daily. My four groups rotate randomly and every morning, the students run into the room to see where they will be.  So here are the four stations that were completed today. I only take 1 or 2 groups per day, so students will usually hit each station at least once a week.

My students absolutely LOVE the fluency center. It is certainly the most popular for a few reasons. 
1) They get to use the fun little whisper phones. 
2) They get to evaluate a partner on their fluency. 
3) They get to use a little timer to time themselves reading. 
Doesn't that sound fun? Have you seen the freebie for the fluency station recording sheet? If not, click here and grab it for whatever you can use it on! :)

I purchased the fluency cards from TPT in Teaching with a Mountain View's store. They are GREAT! I also put them into 4X6 photo albums from the Dollar Tree. It was easier than laminating and works out perfect for this center! 

The next station everyone wants to be at is the guided reading table. Of course they want to read with me. They love showing off their skills of the new strategies we've been learning in the classroom. I have been using Reading A to Z to download, print, and assemble guided reading books on student group levels. It's actually amazing! The website gives a whole CCSS aligned lesson for each book. You can search by book title, strategy to be taught, and there are even pared (fiction and nonfiction) texts available!

Our spelling center is great for phonemic awareness, word sorts, analogies, and grammar. It is meaningful work that has really made a difference in their spelling. 

 Our independent reading station focuses on WOW words. Each student has an alphabox sheet. They get to sit in comfy chairs around the room, independently read, and record wonderful vocabulary words they come across in the graphic organizer. I know this is working because I've seen these words show up again in their daily writing and speech!

When I rotate to different stations, I will be sure to take more pictures and blog again.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

New Year Resolution: Meal Planning! Getting organized at home and school!

I am not ashamed to say it, I am on Weight Watchers and have been for a few months. Having two kids in two years, really threw my body out of sync. I lost my first 20 pounds right away, but unfortunately due to life in the past month (see last two blog posts), I've gained some back. I cannot will not let that happen again. I am starting this new year off with a plan. I started working on my plan tonight and my two favorite WW friendly websites gave me some great inspiration.

I am printing out my menu and hanging it on the fridge. If you'd like to take a closer look, click on the picture above, or here to download the menu. Let me know if you like this idea. I will upload them monthly! :) I only planned one meal per weekend because let's face can get in the way, there could be left overs, or chances are we will be eating at the my in-law's or parent's house over the weekend, which means... no cooking for me, SCORE!

I am trying to fit in fresh fish at least once a week. I do have two toddlers and they will be eating all of the above with us. Will they like it? Who knows. I'm not going to stress over it. I know this is a healthy choice for my family. But, just in case, I will have plenty of fruit, yogurt, and Nutella (peanut allergy for my daughter) sandwiches ready to go. 

Check out these websites for healthy inspiration!

I have three goals for 2015. 

1) Plan out meals in advance. (I will be doing this monthly and don't mind posting!)
By doing this, I will not have to ask myself the stressful question on the drive home, "What are we going to eat tonight?" I will be able to shop for the week on Sunday (except for the fresh fish night) knowing what meals will be coming up. 

2) Take at least 10,000 steps per day. I love my Fitbit, but I am returning my Force and waiting for the ChargeHR. Sadly, I won't be able to measure this goal until the new Fitbit comes in, but I will make myself walk daily. 

3) Drink more water. I know being a teacher we have to schedule our bathroom breaks, but I really cannot let that be an excuse anymore. I have to drink at least three 32oz water bottles a day and if heavy exercising (zumba) drink more!

Anyone else on Weight Watchers or doing some sort of healthy eating resolution?