Sunday, November 17, 2013

Thanksgiving Freebies!!!

It's been a while since my last post. I don't usually post unless I have something exciting to say or some Freebies to share. Lucky for you, I have a load of Freebies to share! 
In my classroom, we've been busy finishing up our first unit of writing called "Small Moments". This is a unit from Lucy Calkins' newest writing units. These are slightly similar to her older set, but the units have a changed a bit. The best part is they are all aligned to the Common Core Standards. I created some "fancy" publishing paper for my students, and that's the first freebie. There are slight variations of the paper to meet your students' needs. Just click on the image below to get the paper for FREE! 

We've also been learning/discussing base words (mainly verbs/action words) and endings (-s, -ing, -ed). We made a large classroom anchor chart, then we played "I Have/Who Has?". This is the first time we played it this year, and I was surprised how quickly my students picked up on it. Our science teacher used her own version of it this week too, and she said the kids really enjoyed it. You can get that FREEBIE by clicking on the image below:

Last, but not least, are some Thanksgiving related graphic organizers that focus on learning about Pilgrim children. We read 

Both books are fantastic for teaching what life was really like as a Pilgrim child. My students loved these books, and were amazed at how hard the Pilgrim children had to work. After reading these books, we created a tree map on a large chart paper to show what we learned about Pilgrim children. We also compared ourselves to a Pilgrim boy and girl. Click on the image below to get all of these graphic organizers for free. They won't be free for long, so hurry up! And, as always, if you leave feedback, please don't mention that you downloaded any of these for free. In the future, they won't be free, and that can upset buyers. Thanks!!!

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Mentor Text Linky and a Flash Freebie

I'm linking up with Collaboration Cuties for a "Must Read Mentor Text" Linky. What a great idea! I absolutely love to read and collect children's books, and I'm always looking for new ideas.
Here is my recommendation:

 This fun and relevant story is about a little boy, named Josh, who loves to tattle all the time. All of his tattling gets on everybody's nerves, and he soon finds himself with no friends. His mother warns about a disease that tattlers get, and it's called "Tattle Tongue". Josh is worried about this, so he doesn't tattle anymore, even when someone is in danger. At night, Josh is visited by the "Tattle Prince", and he teaches Josh the difference between a tattle and a warning. He also teaches Josh the four tattle rules. Eventually, Josh learns the difference and knows when to tell an adult and when to let it go. 

I read this story to my first graders, and they loved it. Tattling began early this year, so I wanted to read this to them so we could connect to it and reference it throughout the year. It is so relevant to young children! I bought an Tattle Tongue mini unit on TPT created by Candace Savage (click on her name to see unit). I also made a free Tattle Tongue pledge paper (click on that link to grab it). 

As a treat for reading this post, I've updated/fixed up my Nonfiction Reading Response Packet, and it's currently FREE for a limited time. Grab a copy NOW! Click on product image below.

And, if you'd be so kind, I have 2 simple requests...
#1 I've lost all my bloglovin' followers this past week when I switched from a .com address back to the free address. Please follow me on bloglovin' (see icon on right side of my blog)so I can get my follower number up again.
#2. If you leave a comment about my product on TPT, don't mention that you got it for free. It does tend to get buyers upset when it becomes a paid item. And, since it is free, please contact me with any issues before leaving a negative comment. 

Thanks so much!

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

I'm "Currently"...

I just about had a heart attack when I tried to look on my blog this morning, and I couldn't find it. It.was.gone! GONE! All that hard work! What happened??? Well, back when I was starting out with blogging, I had NOT a clue what I was doing. For some reason, I thought ".com" sounded better than "", so I paid $ for my own domain. Well, guess what....I forgot to renew it. Apparently, I should have checked my gmail account. I would have seen the warnings over a month ago. So, today was the day Google shut me down. But, thanks to some great friends, I'm back in "". After a trip to Sweet Frog, we went back to my friend's house to hang out for a while. My friends were googling machines, and we figured it out. I simply had to remove my custom domain and I'm good to go. Thank God!!!

And, now onto Farley's Currently for October. I'm a little late to the party, but oh well! Click on the image below to join the Currently Linky fun!

LOVE this new Avicii album. He's the one who sings "Wake Me Up". I love the 80s, and even though this is new, it's 80s-ish.

I am LOVING fall! I love everything about it. The leaves, the cooler weather, pumpkin beer, pumpkin wine, Halloween...

I am SO fortunate to have my blog back!!! I am also fortunate to have such great friends-thanks Amy and Bethany!!!

I want a maid (at school/at home)...enough said about that.

People need to be more positive. Life is too short to be a "Debby Downer". C'mon people....lighten up! 

Treat-I LOVE Loft! I am short petite, and their clothes fit me very well (AKA I don't have to put duct tape on my pants to shorten the legs hem their pants). When my car drove me there on Sunday, and I found a little more clothing than I wanted, the nice saleslady told me about their Breast Cancer Awareness card. It costs $25, and as long as you spend $100 and use your Loft card, you save 25%. So, she used the discount, on top of my teacher's discount (she made a mistake) plus a $20 off coupon!!! I took those bags and ran! 

One more thing, if you use Storia the e-reader app from Scholastic, I have a great tip. Don't create bookshelves for each child, or you will drive yourself nuts. Just create genre bookshelves, and assign the books to the shelves. The kids LOVE using Storia, and so do I! I beats cassette players (and tapes)-yes I really did type that-hands down! Click on the Storia icon above to link to the Storia site.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Fiction Response Freebie and Co-Teaching, Anyone???

I just checked to see if Farley's Currently was set to go for October, but I guess I'll have to wait a day. I've been super busy this past month wrapping my head around the new school year and trying hard to set routines that will last the whole year. 

Now that it's almost October, I am feeling like things are falling in place nicely. But, oh, was it painful at times to get to this place. I feel like a broken record half the time! WBT is going well, but I still have so much to learn! Daily 5 is well underway, and we just learned about Listen to Reading today (more on using Storia for this when I post the October Currently later this week). The CAFE menu is filling up as we focus/learn new reading strategies. Writing Workshop has been launched, and we are ready to dive into personal narratives. EDM is EDM (I don't particularly love math...if you know me, you know this already). 

Here's the million dollar question....If you are currently co-teaching, what does it look like in your classroom? What type of teacher do you co-teach with (reading, learning support, autistic support, speech/language)? How often do you co-teach? This year, I have a student who receives LS services, and I am fortunate to be working with his learning support. The LS teacher delivers services in the regular classroom. We are working well together, but we are not quite sure how our co-teaching is supposed to look since this is new to both of us. Currently, the LS teacher will confer with the student (he's there during Rdg Workshop) and work on his reading goals (from his IEP). He is also in the classroom for math, so he has been pulling a small group (with his student) to teach the same lesson I'm teaching the larger group. We like this format, but are wondering how everyone else co-teaches.

I've updated my Fiction Response Sampler Pack (click on image above to grab your free copy). As I need a response, I create it. Then, I use it with my firsties and tweak it to make it better. This pack will continue to grow until finished, so be sure to come back to my store often to check for updates. Once it's finished, it will become a paid item. 

The students are all able to complete them with success, and they become a great assessment tool. This year, our school (K-2) is creating literacy binders to house items related to each child's reading life. The text responses will become part of this binder, and it will be shared with parents. 
Don't forget to click on the image above to get it for FREE in my store. 

By the way, have you read A Bad Case of Tattletongue?   
It is a hilarious story about a tattler named Josh. After his mom warns him about Tattle Tongue, the Tattle Prince visits Josh during the night. He teaches Josh the 4 Tattle Rules and teaches him the difference between a tell and a tattle. I've referred to this book about a billion times since we've read it. The kids and I LOVED this book! You've got to check it out! 

Monday, September 2, 2013

September's Currently plus Daily 5 Talk

I can't believe it's September already...

I've been cleaning non-stop today ever since I couldn't find the bottom of my boys' closet (the older two share a room). I need to get out. My boys have been asking me to go to the pool one last time. We were one of two families there yesterday! I'm just waiting for the younger two to wake up.     Ah....nap time! 

This weather couldn't be better, but I'd much rather enjoy it on a day off like today (not while I am stuck in school).

I've had my sights set on a reading specialist job recently. It didn't pan out. Yes, I'm a little disappointed, but I'm also thinking that things happen (or don't happen) for a reason. I am not going to give up, and I am perfectly content with where I am this year. My class is great, and I'm excited to do all my favorite first grade things.

I want a maid. With three little kids, this doesn't need any explanation!

I really need to sign up for this 5K race. I'm doing it...after this post!

I started Insanity (these workouts are truly insane). The dred factor is high! My brother looks fantastic from doing these, and that motivates me. I'm going through it, this time "for real". I am on Day 3 today. 

This year, I am a mentor, and it's keeping me on my toes. Last week, I had my plans done on Wed. night so I could sit with my "mentee" and discuss my plans. Yes, it's a bit of a pain to get them done this early, but it's so worth it! 

I need to keep in simple and enjoy the little things in life...enough said about that. 

O.k., so I tried to make "visual" lesson plans for Mrs. Wills Kindergarten's weekly Peek at my Week linky. I am so computer illiterate. I don't know if she uses a table, or excel? I use a Mac, so my options are making a table in Pages or using Numbers (have no clue about Numbers). Oh, well...eventually.

Last week was the first week of school for me, and I started introducing The Daily 5. I've used this for years, but it wasn't after my Daily 5/CAFE online grade class that I started using it the "right" way. Last year, during my class, I restarted everything, and it made such a difference! 

So far, I've introduced 3 Ways to Read a Book (using books used for shared reading), T-Chart for "Read to Self, the lesson on "Good Fit" books (using shoes). We started building stamina on Wed., and we got up to 7 minutes by Friday. You can find a free stamina meter/stopwatch on Smart Exchange (it's awesome). 

This week, I plan to introduce Work on Writing next (according to "The Sisters" this is the new sequence). The students can choose to work at the Writing Station table or at their seats. They will each have a journal, they can use the writing prompt menus (see my store at TPT here)
and monthly word cards and word charts. If they work at their seats, they will already have a copy of the Writing Prompt menu and September word chart in their writing folders. If they sit at the table, they can find copies of them there. Eventually, I will add a class book (and change this often) and letter writing paper. But, for now, it will kept simple. 

"The Sisters" suggest offering student choice after they've had practice with these first two dailies. Their reasoning it that it's much easier to practice choosing between two dailies than 5. It also builds motivation early on. I'm so glad I just read that, as I was ready to lug out my plan board (to be used until they were used to where to go). Last year, I finally relinquished control over their choices, and when I did, it was amazing. The kids were SO motivated to choose. Yes, I "recommended" dailies at time, but overall, they made fitting choices. 

Later in the week, I will introduce Read to Someone. The order the dailies are introduced, after Work on Writing, doesn't matter. 

I am assessing students' independent reading levels as they practice Read to Self, and guided reading levels will be assessed after that. 

I am really excited to see how my students do with getting to choose this early in the year!!!

During Writing Workshop, we've launched the workshop by learning routines, listening to books about writers (just like them), learning to choose topics and to sketch/label/write-stretching all sounds heard. This week, we will continue working on this, and move our writing topics to be about us. The Personal Narrative unit is coming up next, but these routines/procedures must be in place first. 

Spelling instruction is in its beginning stages. I gave and scored the Primary Spelling Inventory (for Words Their Way), and we are learning our 6 Word Work routines (whole group). We've learned how we get a sort introduced and how to cut and sort. This week, we will learn the rest (Sort and Write, Meet with Teacher, Buddy Sort, Sort and Glue). Anybody else use Words Their Way? I'd love other ideas on games/activities! 

Math is straight EDM, but this year I'm incorporating Math Workshop in the 2nd half of the math hour. We just started with Monster Squeeze, Penny Dice Toss and using counting books. This week, Bunny Hop and Top It will be added. This is my 2nd year using EDM, so I don't consider myself an expert. If you have any math workshop ideas, please send them my way. 

And, I can't end without saying how much the students and I are enjoying Whole Brain Teaching! I thought I'd give it a try this year, and I am so happy with it. I love the "Class, Yes", the rules are fantastic (they really don't argue when I say they aren't making me happy), the Scoreboard is motivating and we love the "Mirrors". This week, I'm introducing the Super Improvers Wall. 

O.k., that's enough out of me for now. Have a super week!!!

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Tips and Tricks (and a Freebie) From the First Week of 1st Grade Teacher Bootcamp

It's Over!!! 
That first week back...oh's like body shock! I forget every stinking year! I have this perception (for some unknown reason) that the incoming first graders are going to be like the outgoing ones who left in June. And, every year, I am so, so, so wrong!!! That first day, I believe all teachers fuel themselves on pure adrenaline. Well, now that it's the weekend, and I have time to check the mail, catch up on email and just sit down for a few (none of which I did this past week). I also have some time to reflect back on my week. I am very excited to get to know each one of my 21 (soon to be 22...on Tuesday) first graders. I am just keeping my fingers crossed that #22 doesn't rock the calm waters we've worked so hard to establish. 

This year, I am a mentor. This is my 2nd time being a mentor, but when I was one the first time, it was a few years ago. We didn't have all these district initiatives that we have going now. Being a mentor this time around is keeping me on my toes!!! I have to plan about a week in advance (to be able to share my plans with my "mentee"-is that a word?), I have to make sure her room is up to snuff for her very near future "walk through" (it is),  and I have to make sure she has everything she needs. She was hired right before the school year began, and she walked into a near empty room. That being said, I think she is a very motivated teacher who is fitting in just fine. We are both up for the challenge.

So,  here are some tips you won't want to miss....
Tip #1:If you use a writers' workshop approach to writing, you've got to run and check out this FREE (click on FREE) resource. My colleague, Christina, found this little gem last year (huge thanks to her). Last year, my goal was to revamp writers' workshop and do it "right". This resource helped me SO much (as well as the other first grade teachers in the building). There are many FREE writing units available. I just linked the "Launching" unit. By the way, I can't save and open that particular file...keep getting a message that it is damaged. BUT, you can just print it out, and stick it in a binder. 

Tip #2: (A Management Tip)-Sit your students in groups. I have my students in 3 groups (desks pushed together). They currently have fancy "Group 1, 2 and 3" (ha ha). Put two small community pencil holders (little organizers from Target Dollar Spot) to hold their pencils, dry erase markers and erasers. Make sure there are a ton of sharpened pencils in them to start the day. As pencils break, they just put them in an empty section of the organizer and take another one. Any pencils they want sharpened go in the organizer by the end of day (many brought their own pencils). I showed a student how to sharpen them, and she does this at the end of every day (she's on the last bus set). 

Tip #3: (Another Management Tip)-To minimize walks to the trash can, water fountain and to get tissues, I recommend the following: 
*Place an empty basket/container in the middle of each group to serve at a mini trash can. Assign a group leader to each group. That person is responsible for emptying it when it gets full.
Put a few paper towels and a box of tissues in the middle of each desk group. This has made a world of difference! Also, encourage students to bring water bottles (with built-in straws or flip tops...not the regular twist-off grocery story water bottles). 

I'll continue posting tips and tricks that could help every teacher in my next few posts. Maybe I'll call it "Tuesday Tips and Tricks"? So, keep checking back. 

Now, for the freebies...
If you haven't read the book Ish by Peter Reynolds , you've got to  get it TODAY!!! Or, if you are on a budget like me, borrow it from your local library. This story is about a little boy, named Ramon, who loves to draw. But, he is discouraged when his older brother makes fun of his drawings. Ramon crumples up his drawings and gives up. Later, he finds his younger sister has been sneakily taking his crumpled up drawings and taping them to her walls. During a visit to her room, Ramon is stunned to see his artwork. He complains that they are not perfect (ex: He says his vase doesn't look like a vase). His sister says that it looks "vase-ish". Ramon quickly catches on that it's ok if things are "ish". His desire for drawing quickly comes back. I think this is perfect for all your little darlings who like things "just so" and have a hard time when things aren't 100% perfect. This is a book we'll refer to all year. 
We were working on making text-to-self connections this week. They had the option to draw or write (or both) their connections. Then, they had the opportunity to use water colors to paint their own "ish" paintings. I just used regular white paper.

                       (beach-ish)                       (balloon-ish)

You can grab a sheet for an "-ish" painting or drawing plus a Fiction Reading Response sampler pack that contains the text-to-self response sheet by clicking on each image below.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Teacher Week 2013 and a Monday Made-It Freebie


I'm joining the Teacher Week 2013 Linky (click on first image to join), and today's topic is "Let's Talk About Me". Hmmm....10 random things about me....Boy, this is hard! I know I'm not a celebrity, so what would anyone want to know about me???
Here goes....
1. I grew up in the coal region of Northeastern PA, in a city named Hazleton. I met my husband way back in high school! We've known each other for 22 years!!!!! We now both live and teach in Harrisburg, PA (an hour south of Hazleton).
2. With 3 little boys (ages 2, 4 & 8), my days are very, very busy. There is not much down time around here.
3. Mowgli is our cat. He is 14 years old, and lives 1/2 indoors, 1/2 outdoors. He still plays and purrs just like a kitten.
4. I love the 80s (music, shows, styles...).
5. My car is a 2001 Jetta. It was the first and only car I've bought. A new Jeep is on my wish list, though.
6. This will be my 13th year teaching 1st grade. I've taught full-day K for 2 years and Pre-K for 2 years. I would like to be a reading specialist (have my cert.), and when the time/job is right, then I'll make the switch. When I grow up, I'd also like to be an early intervention teacher. 
7. I LOVE reading books about teaching and learning/sharing new teaching techniques/research. If you put a book in front of me, I could read it in a day. I guess you could say I am a bit of a nerd.
8. My husband is the cook of the house (and a very good one)!
9. I used to love watching horror movies, but after I had kids, I can't watch them. Although, I have to admit, "The Conjuring" has me very curious. Wow! Even typing that title gave me the creeps!
10. I'm trying WBT this year, for the first time. See #7. I've read the book 3 times, and I'm looking through it yet again! I just want to get it right. 

(click on image link above to join the party)

I am at 99 followers on Bloglovin'. So close to 100, so I made a little inspirational freebie to celebrate. I've known Michael Barata at since we were in nursery school together (in 1979). He was always able to make me (and everyone else laugh) no matter what. Well, he is a motivational speaker, psychology professor and owner of Thought Fusion, LLC. He offers the most amazing quotes and vlogs (video blogs). 
After talking with Michael, and gaining his permission to use some of his quotes, I created 3 inspirational quote posters with a chevron design. I plan to hang these around my desk as a little daily motivation (we could all use some of that). I bought some brown frames on clearance at Michaels, spray painted them black and put the posters inside. I plan to use 3M Command strips to hang them. If you would like some motivation, you can get them at my TPT store. 

Be sure to check out Michael Barata's site (see link above). He's quite a guy! He kind of reminds me of Dave Burgess (author of Teach Like a Pirate).

Monday, August 5, 2013

Monday Made It, August Currently and OMG!

Where in the heck did this summer go? Last week, my family and I were enjoying the warm ocean and calm waves in Myrtle Beach, SC. 

We drove straight home to PA (not an enjoyable drive with little ones) on Saturday, and BOOM!!!!! It's back-to-school time! I checked my school email yesterday and saw that our back-to-school night is on Aug 20th (before school begins)!!! Usually, it's always held the 3rd night of the 3rd day of school. So, needless to say, I am in panic mode!!! 

I'm in the process of mapping my year out so it will be easier to plan. I cannot get into my room till next week, so I'm just running to this place and that to get some necessities. Today, I had another run-in with the lady who works at Office Max. She would only let me buy 5 folders at the discounted price. I pleaded my case that I'm buying them for my classroom. No go! I asked her if my son, who was with me, could buy another 5 with cash that I'll give him. NO again! I told her that I'm not committing a mortal sin-I'm just buying them for my stuents-NO yet again! I'm tired of that place!!!

This is the first time I'm participating in  the famous "Monday Made-It" hosted by 4th Grade Frolics.  Just click on the image below to link up.  
I saw this old futon sitting out on the curb in front of my neighbor's house, and I smelled a treasure. Upon mentioning it to my husband, he said, "No way!". He had a billion excuses why I should not take this "well-loved" futon. I do tend to garbage pick a lot, so I let it go...until the next day. It was still there, and that is unheard of in my neighborhood. 
On to Plan B...I rang another neighbor's doorbell-she's a co conspirator great friend (also a teacher). She agreed that it had potential, AND she said I could store it in her garage (sweet!). My husband was then o.k. with it since his main concern was stuffing yet another piece of junk treasure in our tiny 1-stall garage.
Well, you can see the before and after...I am very happy with how it turned out. I spent all of $15 on it (sander rental, spray poly, roller covers, safety pins). I used a lot of what I already had (paint, primer, washi tape-Nick from Sweet Rhyme & Pure Reason would be proud, drop cloths, sandpaper).
Step 1: I sanded it with 2 types of sandpaper.
Step 2: I primed it.
Step 3: Two coats of paint
Step 4: Covered cushions with drop cloths (drop cloths are cheap, heavy duty and look rustic) and safety pins. In the panic mode that I'm in, this girl has NO time to sew (plus I'm not a all. Eventually, I'll call good ol' mom to help out with that.
Step 5: Put strips of washi tape on bottom.
Step 6: Sprayed with poly so tape will not budge.
*I have some really cute homemade owl pillows at school that would look perfect. A colorful quilt will also look great hanging on the back.
The whole time I was working in it, I had no worries cause it was free to begin with, so if I made a mistake, who cares? I plan to use this in my class library as a cozy reading spot. The cushions are from about 1940, when things were made well (they even have springs in them and weigh about 10 pounds each)!

Now, for Farley's Currently (short and sweet with no commentary-I know you are all busy too!)...

Thanks for reading this novel, now go ahead and join one of these linkies!

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

It's a Back to School Blog Hop Hosted by PA Bloggers

Yeah! It's a back to school blog hop with loads of FREE stuff! 

Are you in back-to-school mode yet? I am getting there! 

When my blogging buddies and I decided to try our first ever collaborative blog hop, I was excited (after I googled what a blog hop was). Anyway, I thought I'd 
"cutsi-fy"/fancy up some of my oldies but goodies for the new year. Lucky for you, you get two of them for FREE! Just click on the images below to pick them up in my TPT store.

#1 Poetry/Song book letter. This parent letter introduces our poetry/song notebooks. During the first week of school, I introduce a poem to my students. We focus on a skill (or skills), practice it daily (various ways), and by Friday, students can read this fluently (or at least more fluently than on the first day it was introduced). 

For the past 15 years, I've used some sort of notebook/folder where students collected all the poems/songs we learned throughout the year. At the end of the year, each child had a collection of many familiar poems/songs to keep. 
These notebooks are very beneficial for many reasons (fluency practice, fun, parental involvement, meaningful homework, etc.). 

I made this letter generic enough so you can use whatever kind of folder/notebook you'd like for your students' growing poetry/song collection (I personally like 3-ring binders). You can decide what songs/poems to put in. We focus on one (sometimes two) every week. By Friday, students are ready to perform it for "Fluency Friday", and the binder is sent home every weekend for reading homework. These binders work well to fill time, to pull out and reminisce, buddy reading, circle time, etc. Parents love them, teachers love them, students love them and hopefully, you will use and  love them too. 

#2 Survival Kit-Unfortunately, I do not get to meet my kids before school begins. But, they do get to visit the school with their parents a few days before the first day of school. Every year, I make a survival kit goodie bag for each child to take when they visit.  I collect everything I need (cotton balls, Life Savers, Hershey's Hugs/Kisses, pencil top erasers, band-aids, small stickers, stars-from craft store, shiny pennies-clean with vinegar and salt if they are grimy and birthday candles). From what parents have told me over the years, it helps to build that strong home-family trust/connection that is so important. Many parents make it a point to tell me how meaningful this survival kit is. 

Hopefully, I was able to give you something that you can use. What oldies, but goodies do you use at the beginning of every year? 

Now, don't forget to hop on over to Nick at 
Pure Rhyme & Sweet Reason (click on his button below) for some more FREE back to school goodies!

Friday, July 26, 2013

PA Teacher Blogger Meet-Up, Great Sites and a Freebie!

This past week, I met some wonderful teacher bloggers. What started as a tentative lunch date plan with a friend quickly turned into a PA blogger meet-up with 9 people! This past Wed., we met at a restaurant, located on the Susquehanna River in Harrisburg, PA.  We had such a great time! I can't wait till the next meet-up!!! Will you be joining us? Roll call...

Andrew from Mr. First Grade (Andrew's awesome wife is right next to him-she's a middle school teacher)
Autumn from First Grade Teacher Lady (4th from left)
Jess and Kheila from Two Friends in First (Jess is 3rd one from left/Kheila is right in the middle)
Wendy from Read With Me ABC
Jen from That First Grade Blog
Nick from Sweet Rhyme - Pure Reason (his wife is next to him...she's a guidance counselor)

For a little treat for myself to celebrate nearly a year of blogging, I decided to change my blog design. My friend, Wendy, told me about Designs by Christi. For a minimal charge, I was able to change my blog design in the time it took me to go grocery shopping (literally). Christi and I sent a few emails back and forth, and it was done! And, if you knew just how much time I spent yesterday trying to learn how to make and then put a blog button (and grab box) on my blog, you'd really know how much I truly appreciate the simplicity of this blog design switch. And, the best part is that the price includes a mighty cute button!!! By the way, if you figured out how to make a blog button, and you want to put it on your blog (with a grab box), you have to check out Grab My Button Code Generator. It's free, and once I FINALLY found this site (late, late last night), I was able to do the whole grab my button thing with ease! But, now I have a new design with a cute new button that I didn't have to bother with. Sometimes I want to scream while learning all there is about blogging I love to blog!

I'm including a little freebie for you for reading this novel. Sometimes I just have diarrhea of the mouth...tonight seems like one of those nights (yeah for you). Just read to the end, and you can grab it. 
Anyway, some of us PA bloggers are hosting a Back-To-School Blog Hop on July 31st. You don't want to miss it! There will be lots of back-to-school freebies! Put this right on your calendar (and say a little prayer that my scheduled post goes live when it should)!

To get your freebie for reading this gigantic post, just click on the image below. It will take you to my TPT store, and you'll be able to download it for free. Currently, I use Words Their Way as the main approach to spelling. This spelling test sheet is simple, yet useful. 

Monday, July 22, 2013

Help!!! I Need Something and Can't Find It!!! Reward offered!

I am in back-to-school mode (well, a little bit into it). Anyway, last week, I saw a Linky or a regular post about great school supply finds for teachers. Someone (has to be one of you) posted about plastic folders that have clear pockets inside (maybe 6-10 pockets). Also, the same person talked about clear, adhesive label holders bought at Michaels. Well, of course I didn't write any of that down, but I keep thinking about them. I've scoured all the blogs I follow, but I can't find this post. I've done internet searches of school supplies and ........nothing! 

Today, at Office Max, I thought I struck gold when I saw the folders. And, the best part was the worker told me they were $1!!! He had to go in the back to get me more. They only had 15, but he told me to come back later in the week since they'd be getting more. When I went to check out, imaging my frustration when they rang up at $2 something!!! I told the cashier how the guy told me they were $1. She rolled her eyes and called him on her little phone. She told me again that they were $2-something...not $1 (insert little red mad face here). So, I didn't get them. I am on the hunt for these bad boys. I need them...they'll be so great to store/organize my students' assessments. So, please, if you've spotted folders that look like what I've described, and there are $1-something, or if you know about the label holders, please let me know.  I hope I can get these items online since I can't stand wasting time in stores, only to get eyes rolled at me...
Thanks so much!
*As an added bonus, the first person who lets me know about either of these will get their choice of a product in my TPT store. 

Hurry Up...Flash Freebie!!!

*Keep reading, and click on the image below!

I'll be back to post more later, but I wanted to put this on here now. I just finished a 61 pg. Word Study packet that focuses on initial consonant sounds. I use Words Their Way, and my goal (for the past 3 years) is to make my own games/activities that would nicely supplement WTW instruction. I have lots more to do, but I started with this one b/c a lot of incoming first graders need review/instruction on initial consonant sound (beginning of Letter Name spelling stage). This packet will compliment your current word study instruction (you don't have to use WTW). Hurry up and grab won't be free for long! 
Click on the image below to grab it now!


Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Blog Award and a Shout Out to A Super Science Teacher Friend

I am thrilled and honored that Jess and Kheila from Two Friends in First nominated my little blog for the Liebster Award. 

Liebster is German, and it means "dearest", "lovely", "cute", "beloved" and "welcome". I think that's a quite a word! Since blogging is about creating community, this award is an awesome way to spread the word about new blogs.

To accept the nomination you must:
1. Link back to the blog that nominated you.
2. Nominate 5-11 blogs with fewer than 200 followers.
3. Answer the questions posted for you by your nominator.
4. Share 11 random facts about yourself.
5. Create 11 questions for your nominees.
6. Contact your nominees and let them know you nominated them.

Questions for Me:
1. Why did you start blogging?
I knew nothing about blogging until I taught summer school last year. A much younger teacher friend of mine, Hannah, mentioned that "Blogging is what all the teachers do now." I had no clue what she was talking about, but I had to learn more. I checked out some blogs, and I was intrigued to say the least. When I saw that my friend, Wendy (Read With Me ABC), started her own blog last summer, I decided then and there that I could do it too. Wendy and I have helped each other out throughout the year many times!  I've learned so much from blogging, met so many awesome teachers and I'm so happy I decided to do this.
2. Where did you go to college?
For undergraduate school (Elem Ed/Early Ch), I went to Millersville University of PA. I started graduate school (Spec Ed) at Bloomsburg University of PA, and I finished it at Shippensburg University of PA. I went back for my Rdg Spec  Cert at Cabrini College (that's where I met Wendy).
3. What advice would you give new teachers?
Three things came to mind immediately...
#1: Do not let negativity bring you down. Teaching is a hard, yet wonderful profession. Shut your ears off to negativity. There is no room for it in this profession.
#2: Don't let teaching take over your life. It's o.k. if something isn't colored and laminated. The world will not end if you don't have the cutest materials. As long as students are learning, that's what counts! 
#3: Stay current! Education is forever in a state of change. It is your responsibility to stay current on best practices and research. This will also keep you fresh and motivated! 
4. What superhero power would you like to have for a day?
When I was about 6, I wanted to be Wonder Woman. Imagine my disappointment when my mom finally caved and brought me to the local department store to buy Wonder Woman Underoos and all they had where C-3P0s (yes, I got the C-3P0s). Anyway, I don't remember what super powers WW had, but I remember she had a lot of gadgets that were pretty cool. I would like to have her invisible jet for a day or her powerful tiara...maybe her bracelets or her lasso.
5. Who is your favorite musical artist/band.
Madonna! I loved her in the 80s (had the lace glove and hair bow), and I still love her! I'm so blessed that I got to see her in concert. What a show!
6. What is your favorite sport and sports team?
I am so not into sports! My husband lives and breathes sports, so that's kind of funny! I like the Giants and Yankees by proxy. PHR Royal Blue too (the team my son played on). Also, baseball is my favorite sport because that's what my son  plays.
7. What are the sweet and salty snacks you can't live without?
I love pizza with regular chips and a Coke. Also, I smash up pretzels and put them on top of ice cream.
8. Do you have any children?
I sure do!
9. If you didn't teach, what would
 you want to do?
I would want to be a hairdresser. It's a job that uses creativity, and I would love to help people look and feel their best. I still remember styling my Barbie head (remember those?)...I cut her hair in a lopsided bob AND I gave her a tail!  I cut (and styled)my sister's Farrah Fawcett head too...and I got in a heap of trouble for that! 
10. What is your favorite clothing store?
I don't get a lot of time to myself, so I prefer to shop online instead of going to actual stores. The two I order from the most are Gap and Loft.
11. What is a famous quote you love? 
"The idea is to die young as late as possible."
 To me, this means to stay forever young, take care of myself and enjoy life to the fullest.

11 Random Facts About Me:
1. I married my high school sweetheart. We've been together for 23 years, and we've been married for 12.
2. I'm from Hazleton, PA. I now live in Harrisburg, PA (about an hour south of where grew up).
3. When I was 7 years old, I got hit by a car when crossing my street. As a result, I broke my right femur. It happened in May, and I had to stay in the hospital for 6 weeks (in traction). My 8th birthday party was at the hospital! I'm now deathly afraid of cars!
4. I have a cat named Mowgli.
5. I drive a really old Jetta (it's bought an paid for, and I can't justify buying a new car).
6. I love the 80s (the music, the fashion).
7. I love to read...especially professional books. I'm a nerd at heart!
8. Gardening is quickly becoming one of my favorite hobbies.
9. I like to workout at home.
10. My favorite show is Three's Company.
11. I have one sister and one brother.

My Nominees:
1. Lori at Mrs. Ross's Science Class (Lori is a friend and colleague who teaches science in our K-2 building-be sure to check her blog out)
2. Kristen at The First Grade Scoop
3. Kady at The Teaching Trap
4. Susan at First Grade Friendly Froggies
5. Cheryl at Cheryl's Classroom Tips

Questions for the Nominees:
1. How long have you been blogging?
2. If you've taught multiple grade levels, what grade level is your favorite? Why?
3. What is the funniest thing that ever happened in your classroom?
4. If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go?
5. Why did you decide to teach?
6. What is your favorite food?
7. Do you have any pets?
8. What is your favorite song?
9. What was the last book you read?
10. Do you have any children?
11. What is your most memorable experience as a teacher?

Monday, July 15, 2013

Flash Freebie and Special Congrats to a Super Blogger Buddy!

Read and click on the linked Monthly Writing Prompt Menu Picture below to get my latest TPT creation for FREE!!! It's a flash freebie, so you never know how long it will be free before I remember to go back on TPT and slap a price on it.

I am starting to work on school "stuff" now that we are in mid-July. My school doesn't begin officially until the end of August, but after teaching summer school last week, I can't stop thinking about this upcoming school year. I just finished rereading Pathways to the Common Core by Lucy Caulkins. It's a little dry for my taste, but filled with some excellent information about CCSS!

 I am impatiently waiting these two books to arrive: 

  I love, love, love Daily 5 and CAFE-they are great approaches to literacy and classroom management backed by such great research and they make such sense. As one of the Daily 5 activities, my students work on writing daily (once routines are up and running). This past year, I created some writing prompt menus to help provide some support when they wrote independently. After teaching my students what they were, the importance of them, why we are using them, how to use them and modeled/practiced with them until I was using them in my sleep, these writing prompt menus were utilized by them daily. 

This is how I used them:
1. I used gradual release of responsibility model to teach my students how to use them ("I Do", "We Do", "You Do").
2. I laminated a set of monthly writing prompt menus and placed them in the writing station. Later on in the year, I copied one for everyone, and they put them in their writing folders so they would always have one (didn't have to walk to get one if need be).
3. At the conclusion of each round of Daily 5, we'd have our check-in. Any student who worked on their writing lined up with their writing. As soon as one other student was ready to listen, the first author read what he/she wrote. The class gave immediate positive feedback, and I helped each student set goals for the next time they are working on writing. We didn't wait for everyone to get cleaned up before the sharing began. Wow...such motivation to get everyone cleaned up, though! No one wanted to miss this-it was really quite adorable.

Of course, you could use them in any way you want too :)! Now, go on and click below to go to my store and get this packet for FREE! 

 Now, onto other news...
My friend, Wendy, from Read With Me ABC just got to the 100 follower mark, and she is having an awesome giveaway. Just click on the image to check out her cute and informative blog and to enter this amazing giveaway. I'm giving away my Nonfiction Text Features Notebook. 

I am also super excited to be nominated for the Leibster Blog Award by Jess and Kheila at Two Friends in First.  I'm running out of time kids are asking me to go to the pool. I will be back tomorrow with my Leibster info.