Saturday, December 29, 2012

Happy New Year, Happy Freebie, and Happy Giveaway!

Happy New Year, bloggy friends!  Not sure what your 2012 was like, but mine was full of surprises.  Some fantastic ones, some rough ones, some interesting ones, and some incredibly fun ones!   More than anything, I find myself THANKFUL and BLESSED for my family, friends, faith, job, health, and keeps life interesting. 

Happy Freebie!  Here's a New Year's Resolution FREEBIE for your students!  Teach them what a resolution is, challenge them to set a goal for 2013 and think about what steps it will take to get there, as well as celebrate their successes for 2012!  Click the image to download.  

Happy Giveaway!  I'm so excited to start 2013 off with 600+ followers on my blog.  What a better way to celebrate than to give a few things away?!  If you're like me, shopping on TpT is one of my favorite hobbies!  Maybe the $30.00 will help you grab some great products for the New Year!  In addition to that I'm throwing in 6 items of your choice from my TpT or TN store...anything goes!  :-)   There are LOTS of ways to enter and lots of chances to win!  Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway Bananas for New Year's Fun,

Friday, November 30, 2012

Holiday E Book is here!

YAY! If you weren't already in the holiday mood with the growing number of Christmas lights appearing, trees going up, Black Friday and Cyber Monday shoppers, then maybe this will do it for you. :-) The Holiday E book on TpT is ready! I should say E BOOKS, because there are 3 this year! There's a 1-2 version, 3-6 version, and 7-12 version to suit your needs. The E books are each filled with 50, yes 50 holiday FREEBIES from some of TpT's finest!  The E book can be downloaded at the following TpT stores...

1-2 Holiday Freebies

3-6 Holiday Freebies

7-12 Holiday Freebies

I was SO HAPPY to be able to contribute TWO FREEBIES to one of the E books this year!  I hope you can use and ENJOY this holiday season.  :-)

Bananas for the HOLIDAY SEASON!  *Maybe, just maybe I'll get my own tree and lights up this weekend!  ;-)

Thursday, November 22, 2012

CYBER Mon. & Tues. SALE

HAPPY THANKSGIVING blog friends!  Hoping this season finds you thankful for so many things.  My list is so long I don't even know where to begin.  The 4 F's are at the top of my list:  Faith, Family, Friends, and Freedom!  The 3 T's are right up there close to the top of my list, too...Teaching, Tea (love my tea!), and TpT!  

TpT is showing their gratitude for teachers and the hard work they put in daily by running a HUGE CYBER DAY SALE!  Join myself and other sellers on Monday, Nov. 26th and Tuesday, Nov. 27th @ TpT for 28% off all your favorite items!  Be sure to use the promo code CMT12 when checking out to get the additional % off your purchase! 
Stock up on your favorite units, activities, games and more at huge savings!  I'm looking forward to having my WHOLE store on sale!   Here's a look at some of the newest items you can find...    *Click any of the pics for direct links!

Blessings to you and yours this Thanksgiving!

Bananas for some time off work to spend with family,

Other fabulous sellers who are participating in the TpT sale below!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Veterans Day Freebie

Veterans Day holds a special place in my heart every year. Read below... I'm RE-POSTING an "oldie, but goodie" blog post from last year.  I added a FREEBIE to go with it!  Enjoy and Happy Veterans Day! 

If you're looking for a cool, meaningful volunteer or service project to do with your students, consider "adopting a soldier" who is currently serving overseas.  My classes and I for the last several years have adopted at least 10 soldiers stationed in Afghanistan and Iraq.  "Adopting" a soldier consists of making the commitment to send one letter a week and one care package a month to someone on active duty. (Which is easy when you have 20 some eager students ready to write their letter!)  My students and I have made some great friends, encouraged someone is serving our country, and participated in some of the most amazing events through this adoption.
How do you "adopt" a soldier?  You sign up with the non-profit organization called Soldiers Angels.
After they give you clearance, they will assign you a soldier and give you his/her address overseas and you're ready to go!  Who says the academics have to take a back seat?  I teach my parts of a friendly letter, map skills, addressing an envelope, focusing on common/proper nouns, some history, and of course, citizenship and volunteering.  I'd love to say that all my soldiers have been actively involved in the process of writing back to us faithfully, but that's not the case.  I've had everything from no letters in return because they're just too busy, to other soldiers who write us back faithfully.  I've even had one show up for a visit on Veterans Day the following year he returned from active duty.  Last year my students got to be involved in a soccer ball drive with our soldier.  He wanted us to collect soccer balls to send to him overseas where he distributed to the local village children in Basrah, Iraq.  The whole "adoption" process has been a WIN/WIN for everyone involved.  Enjoy some photos from some of our FAVORITE moments.
The soccer ball drive was on the news and
in a military publication. My students were
so proud that they helped get 200 soccer balls
delivered to such eager children in Iraq.

Some very excited 3rd graders collecting 
soccer balls for a good cause

We were lucky enough to have one of our 
adopted soldiers come VISIT us on Veterans Day!  
He presented our class with a certificate of appreciation,
coins from his platoon, and a flag flown over their 
camp in our honor while he was stationed in Iraq.

As always, if you would like some additional information or are interested in getting started, just let me know!  I'll help in any way I can!  

Click on the image to grab your FREEBIE Veterans Day timeline.  

Bananas for those that serve and sacrifice for our freedom,

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Good Ole' Problem Solving

As we dig deeper into Common Core, we're finding that more and more of our Math is looking like those good ole' fashioned "word problems" (as they were called in back in the day).  Our students can't seem to get enough of them.  The more tasks they do and are able to solve, the more they seem to want them!  I think the thing students are enjoying most is the challenge itself.  Speaking of "back in the day," I can't help but wonder if I had been given an opportunity to solve some real world problems with my friends, been able to talk about them, share our ideas, make a plan of action, implement, and solve them, I might have been a little more successful at problem solving.  All I remember is someone telling me to look for key words like "all together" and "difference."  Yes, those are important too, but shouldn't drive how a student goes about solving a problem.  There are many ways to solve problems.
At an inservice this summer our presenter gave us a super difficult 5th grade math task.  She gave us a few minutes to think about it and plan for how we would solve.  I began drawing pictures because I'm an artist...Um, no, that's how my brain works!  When my table got a chance to get together and share how we solved the problem, I was amazed at the different strategies all the teachers used to get it!  I honestly didn't even understand how one teacher got there, but she did! (She must be gifted!)  
Anyhow, I loved the process and although my title says "Literacy Coach," I've been able to work with some small groups of students.  Their little faces light up when I bring in some problem solving for them.  It's no longer a chore, but a coveted challenge.  They want to show me not one way, but multiple ways they can arrive at the same answer.  Check out the work a group of 2nd graders did for me today trying to figure out what combination of 14 coins made $2.14.  Each one worked individually on the outside of the circle while discussing with each other what worked and didn't.  What did it sound like?  "Don't try a bunch of pennies...that sure didn't work." "I tried half dollars and some quarters, but that doesn't work either."  "I'm getting closer when I change my quarters to dimes and nickels."  "I'm giving this problem to my DAD!"
What did it look like?  A MESS!  Don't ya' love their scribbles where they tried something and it didn't work?  When they finally arrived at the answer it went in the middle so they could proudly display their accomplishment.  

All this problem solving motivated me to create a problem of the day activity for each month.  I actually started in early October, but it took me longer than I hoped to finish.  So...the October one is done and October is about OVER!  Yes, that's how I roll sometimes.  :-)  I scrambled to finish NOVEMBER for those that want to start right away!  Click on the image for a trip to my TpT store to investigate. It's geared specifically with 3rd grade in mind, but 4th would enjoy, and if you have some high flying 2nd graders, they'd be challenged!  If you like it, let me know and I'll throw the October one in FREE for ya' from now until the end of November!   

UPDATE to this post:  I now have 9 school months complete!  September through May units are finished! You can get them individually, or all bundled up for a cheaper price!  

Bananas for math when it's fun,

Friday, October 19, 2012

Formative Freebies and Paybacks!

     Ever have a moment as a parent where you have to step back and just let it happen?  I encountered that recently when my daughter came home in tears one day after school...upset that she got stuck with most of the work for a group project.  The educator in me began asking all the right questions..."Who's in your group?"  "What's the assignment?"  "How did you get stuck putting it all together?"  After a quick investigation, I learned that her 3 fellow group members were all boys.  They had done some of the work at school, but when it came time to put it all together, I guess they decided that should be "all her."  In their words..."You put it together for us and we'll present it."  It was 3 against 1, and since she's the compliant "teacher pleaser" she brought the work home to put the poster together herself.  It broke my heart to see her upset, but I quickly noticed her demeanor change as she began laying it all out for the task ahead.  I asked if I could help in any way and she simply said, "No! I got this!"
Three hours later, she reappeared with a huge smile on her face holding a BRIGHT HOT PINK poster with the most beautifully (and girly) decorated poster you have ever seen.  It had ribbons, flowery sequins, bows, name it!!  She even sprayed it with perfume before going out the door the next morning!!  Yep, my daughter decided if the BOYS were going to stick hours of work on her and they got the job of a 2 minute presentation, she was going to make it as painful as possible for them.  The teacher in me was thinking, "Oh no, the decorating was a bit much!"  But the mother in me was saying, "YOU GO GIRL!"   Her teacher, who was obviously aware of what had transpired, simply walked by her in class, leaned down and whispered, "I LOVE IT!"

     I recently conducted a formative assessment professional development with a wonderful colleague of mine.  We had the best time sharing some strategies for quick checks in the classroom.  A lot of the ideas came from my "Let's Recap" packet (also free in my TpT store), but we threw in a few different ones I thought I'd also make available for grabs.  Hope you can put to good use in your classroom!

Bananas for my daughter who can "hold her own" when necessary!

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Election Day Freebie

Election Day is sneaking up fast!  I always enjoyed election time in my classroom.  Students hear their parents talking about it, they can't escape from it being all over the television, so they are naturally curious about it.  What a better time to teach them how the democratic process works.  Whatever the grade level, you can adapt election type activities to fit the needs of your classroom.  Host a mock election, complete with registration cards.  Do some research on the candidates with your older students.  Tie in some quality literature to enhance your election studies. Check out some of my favorites: (Duck for President by Doreen Cronin, Election Day by Lynn Peppas, See How They Run by Susan E. Goodman, Vote! by Eileen Christelow, Letters from the Campaign Trail: LaRue for Mayor by Mark Teague, President of the Whole Fifth Grade by Sherri Winston, If I Ran for President by Catherine Stier)  If your school is a voting site, request one of the workers on their break to come speak to your class about the process.  They may even allow your class to come do a quick tour of the voting machines.  My class was invited to do this during a local election last year and my students were fascinated by the curtains more than anything else.  :-) During our mock classroom election we had to build a privacy area so they could vote in private!   Whatever you decide to do, have FUN and make it meaningful.  After all, we're blessed to live in a democratic society where we the people, have a voice!  Students need to learn this at an early age so they will not be afraid of the process as adults. 
Here's an Election Day Fun Freebie for you to get you started!  :-)  Click on the image to grab it!  

Bananas for my freedom and always thankful for those who serve to protect it,

Monday, October 1, 2012

Interactive Notebooking

Interactive Notebooks...Who has started?  Whose district has required it?  Or who is doing them on their own?  Why the surge of interactive notebooking for students?  From what I've read, research shows it fosters creativity, organization, and independent thinking.  Who doesn't want that for their students?  I personally like them because they serve as great review tools, they are of high interest to my students, and students take total ownership in their learning!  Let's face it, some topics don't lend themselves to "hands on" learning.  Interactive notebooks ARE hands on no matter what topic you're teaching.  What they are NOT, is students listening to a lecture and taking notes (insert high school and college flashbacks here).  They're called interactive for a reason, right?  
Students are DOING.  So what are they doing?  They are cutting, bending, folding, coloring, drawing, labeling, creating, writing to explain, and quite simply "showing what they know." It goes without saying that if your students can explain it, they KNOW it!  My students have been "notebooking" for 3 years now.  They WE get a little better each year.  I also try to tackle a little more each year.  I started with ONE Social Studies unit my first year.  (Geography)  The following year I added another S.S. unit. (Government)  This past year I added Economics and am now full throttle with math notebooking. (addition/subtraction, numeracy, money, multiplication, division, fractions, geometry, etc.)  They are available as individual units or cheaper all bundled up.  I'm still creating and adding!

 The few things that stand out about notebooking with my kids is 1.) They love it!   2.)  They have no choice but to be organized!   3.)  Their parents love it because their child IS organized and has access to all of their notes in ONE place.  4.) They are retaining the information better!  (Test scores are climbing!)  5.)  It has helped ME get organized AND more excited about teaching some topics that could normally be considered "boring" or "difficult" to teach.
I'd love to say there was some magic road map that helped me start at point A with interactive notebooks, but there wasn't.  A lot of it was trial and error (and continues to be a work in progress)!! But I would say that the place to start is the curriculum.
A.  Know what you're responsible for teaching and teach it in a way that your students can respond to it!
B.  Get familiar with foldables!  There's nothing MORE FUN than folding paper in a variety of ways to motivate your students into getting information down!
C.  Let go!  You'll be amazed at how creative your students will be if you let them.  TRUE STORY:  I was using the Government interactive notebook template that I created with my students and there's a picture of an old scroll in there.  Students were to cut it out and glue it in their notebooks and add some of the rights we as American citizens have in our country.  I was monitoring their progress when I noticed a student wadding his scroll up.  My first thought was "That little STINKER..." (and I won't go any further with that).  When I asked him what he was doing, he informed me that he was making his scroll look OLD (like the REAL Bill of Rights image we had just seen).  Not only that, but when he was finished making it look 'old,' he wrote some of the rights he had learned, rolled it up to look like a real scroll, and asked me for a piece of ribbon so he could tie it like a real scroll.  :-) He wanted to "QUIZ" his parents about some of our American rights and let them unroll the scroll when he got home in his notebook to see if they were right.

Need some additional interactive notebook ideas?  Try this INB LINKY!    What have you tried?  Success stories you'd like to share?  We'd love to hear! 

NEW to the Interactive Notebooking Party....GRAMMAR GATORS!  Learning about the parts of speech is full of some Super Hero fun!  

Bananas for writing to explain, so you can truly tell "THEY'VE GOT IT!"

Friday, September 21, 2012

Fall Sale Blog Hop...Swing on in!

Happy Saturday!  The weather was cooler this week in Tn.  It's actually beginning to feel like fall in the mornings and evenings!  I can't think of a better way to celebrate than with a fall sale!  Join bunches and bunches of bloggers this weekend only for a 2 day sale...Sat. Sept. 22nd and Sunday Sept. 23rd.  Grab some Items for up to 20% off throughout our stores!  Some of my favorite items on sale this weekend include:

Go to Starbucks in your PJ's (drive-thru), come back for some Happy hopping and Happy shopping! 
Bananas for Blog Hoppin' fun in your PJ's with a Pumpkin Spice latte'!  

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Spotlight Saturday & Birthdays

Why is it as a kid we LONG for our birthdays to come, and the older we get we LONG NOT to see our birthday show up?  I experienced that this week turning _____ (fill in the blank with anything you'd like as long as it's lower than 35)  NOT!     :-)   It didn't help with my own children thinking I was one year younger than I really am.  When I added that extra year onto the one they thought I was, they were like, "Hmmmm...REALLY?"   Thank heavens for 1st graders who honestly have no sense of time and age.  One of the 1st graders at my school heard it was my birthday and said, "Happy Birthday...are you past 25 yet?"  

Welcome back for another edition of Spotlight Saturday.  I've got some great freebies for you again today.  

Teaching by Hart has a cool math warm up for you in her "Spot the Imposter" freebie.  It's so simple, but so fun, and sparks some great math conversations.  Need a time filler?  Engaging warm up?  Thought provoking small group starter?  Grab Kim's imposter sheets where which are loaded with numbers.  All the numbers on a page have something in common.  There is one, "the imposter" that doesn't fit.  Students begin searching for odds, evens, multiples, etc.  Looking forward to the fun I can have with this one!

Sometimes you run into things and think..."Why didn't I think of that?"  I took one look at these and thought back to the years I taught Kindergarten and First grades.  Where were these when I needed something "magical" to motivate some of my kiddos to read?  Everybody needs some fun reading glasses, right?  Check out Tracy's Guided Reading Glasses for grades K-4.  You just provide the popsicle sticks and you've got yourself a class full of adorable little reading nerds.  :-)  

Second Story Window has 6 weeks of spelling homework for you, which can be used with any spelling words, in her Spelling Tic Tac Toe Homework pack.   Students use their spelling words to do a variety of activities.  It also incorporates a little student or family choice as to which parts are completed.  It serves 1-3 grades the best and is a nice alternative to the normally boring spelling homework sheets you usually see.  

In closing, I hope you were able to grab my "Writing a Paragraph Hamburger Style" freebie this week.  If you missed it, head back to my home page and check the post prior to this one to snatch.  

Bananas for birthdays even when the candles take up a LOT of space on the cake,

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Writing a Paragraph Hamburger Style Freebie

I have been asked many times in the last few weeks what I think about my new job as Literacy Coach.  I love so many parts of my job, but like anything in the education world, it's challenging, overwhelming at times, and so fast paced that it's often 2:00 before I realize I haven't eaten lunch.  
Just when I was feeling a little lonely one day, a teacher asked me if I'd be willing to come into her classroom to model a revising/editing writing lesson.  I couldn't say "YES" fast enough!  I have tons of graphic organizers, posters, handouts, flipcharts, etc. on writing that I've used over the years, but I found myself with this incredible urge to go ahead and create something new.  After discussing what her class needs were, I put together the following freebie that is focused not only on putting a simple paragraph together (hamburger style), but putting a really GOOD paragraph together (BIG MAC style).  This little freebie is designed to be used with beginning paragraph writers.  It encourages them to plan ahead with a graphic organizer, attempt a first draft, practice editing together (which prompts great classroom discussion), compare/contrast the difference between a simple paragraph and one that is a little more elaborate and FAR more interesting, and finally, share what they've learned.  
The class that I visited had already completed their graphic organizers and first drafts, but were able to take it one step further and APPLY their newly acquired editing skills and edit their own papers with the correct editing marks.

I had such a BLAST going in her classroom this week and certainly look forward to reading their published BIG MACS in a few days!  :-)   If you need a quick and easy freebie that is easily modified to fit many genres, GRAB IT!   Either pic will get you to the link to download! 

What are some of your BEST writing instruction tips for teachers? 

Bananas for BIG MACS (Yum!) 

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Spotlight Saturday Freebies

Welcome back to another Spotlight Saturday!  I took a 2 week vacation from blogging.  I'd like to say that I was parked beach front somewhere reading a good book, but it was actually due to some crazy schedules, a sick child, a trip "home" to see my parents, and a stubborn laptop. 
Hopefully this post finds you transitioning smoothly into the new school year, enjoying your new students, and tackling all the adventures each new school year brings.  How about some freebies??

Christina would love for you to check out one of her management systems where students are trained to use their non verbal cues to let you know what they need.  Needing the restroom, a sharpened pencil, a tissue, a drink, and having a question or answer to share are included in her "Show Me the Number" system.  This system can be used with any grade level.  Go check it out!

Ms. Soud knows the importance of parent communication!  She's sharing a Parent Contact Journal with you.  It includes an interest inventory for your students, Parent Contact Form, Parent Contact Log, Behavior Journal, and a Classroom Newsletter editable with Powerpoint.  The forms are nicely organized and the clipart makes you feel right at home as a teacher.  These forms are mostly suitable for K-2 grade levels.  Grab a helpful freebie!

Last, but certainly not least, we have Denise's literacy center using the BOOK ORDERS you send home with students all the time.  What a clever idea to put the extra book order forms (You know you get TONS)  in a center and let the students do some activities using those forms!  Reap the benefits from getting those forms out, utilizing them, AND sending them home for students to order!  Who doesn't love the bonus points from a book order?  You'll never get tired of these!  

If you downloaded a freebie today, don't forget to leave some feedback!  Sometimes that's all it takes to keep these fabulous creators going!   

ENJOY the rest of your weekend, friends.  Catch a good college football game, grill out, hang out with some friends, and schedule a nap!  Those lesson plans aren't going anywhere.   

Bananas for the nap I WILL make time for this weekend,

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Robot baby and Spotlight Saturday!

Happy weekend!  This weekend I found myself with a temporary additional member of the family.  My daughter got to bring home her health project...a BABY! She's an adorable robot baby that acts like a real baby.  She coos, coughs, cries, and yes, SCREAMS when she needs to be fed, burped, or have her diaper changed.  HOWEVER, It turned into quite an ordeal for my daughter when nothing she did to help the baby seemed to be working!  She was doing all the right things...feeding, burping, rocking, cuddling, holding her head, etc. with NO POSITIVE responses from the baby...which I informed her was "REAL LIFE" sometimes.  After agonizing over this baby for hours and it continuing to bawl, I thought "Hmmm...something doesn't seem quite right."  The investigation began.  I viewed the demo videos online and discovered that every time the baby cried and she picked it up, there was supposed to be some kind of beep.  (Her bracelet monitor making physical contact with the baby was supposed to set off a sensor) Sure enough hers was NEVER beeping.  We looked more closely at this tiny tag on the bracelet only to discover the number on it and the baby didn't match!!   Sure enough, her sweet teacher emailed me back @ 10:00 on Friday night to inform me another student was having the same issues.  SO...the ole' robot baby accidental switcheroo took place at some point before she ever got home.  The story ends with an 'emergency shut-off' switch she led us to, and an A for effort from my precious daughter who took it like a real trooper.  It's amazing how a "robot baby" can bring a flood of memories back.  Mine just didn't have an emergency shut-off switch back then.  ;-)

Ready for some freebies?  I've got them for you!  

Sally from Elementary Matters has some great tools for your students' desks that she customized to fit her classroom needs.  She's sharing several of those with you.  She has a  number line counting with 1's, number line counting with 10's, a colorful 100 grid, some reading AND science tools too!  These items would "fancy up" any student's desk and are a nice alternative to the name tags I've always purchased in the past.  

Need some visuals for teaching the different types of sentences?  Addie has some adorable "monster theme" posters for you to do just that.  Make those big words...declarative, interrogative, imperative, and exclamatory a little less "scary" with her cute posters!  Click image to grab!  

This last one is especially for you Kindergarten and even Pre-K mommies or teachers.  Amanda has a K assessment ready to go...FREE.  Check your students (or own children) on letters and sounds using this handy tool available in her TpT store.  It comes with instructions, upper and lower case letter cards, a random letter check sheet, and a spreadsheet for recording your data.  

Enjoy the rest of your weekend.  I hope it's as beautiful of a day where you are as it is here!
Bananas for automatic shut-off buttons and gorgeous sunny days!  :-)

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Push for Evidence-Based

As my district dives into Common Core a little more each year, my teachers are doing what good teachers do...looking for ways to teach kids how to be excellent thinkers.  Gone are the days of answering questions with one word, or answering with sentences so simple that they hardly require any thought.  Gone are the days of "Just because."  (Although as a parent, I'm claiming my parental right to use that one when I feel like it! tee hee)
Searching for evidence based anything for elementary students turned out to be more challenging than I thought.  Everything I did find was related to high school and in no way shape or form appropriate for teaching our young students how to write and cite evidence from the text.  So I did what I usually do when I can't find something... just create it myself. :-)  

I created 8 mini "kid friendly" posters to be used as a springboard for discussion and teaching students how to cite evidence and justify their answers.  These are EASY to throw on some construction paper and laminate!  I'm curious what your district or school is doing to help support teachers in this process of pushing kids to explain their thinking.  You know me, I LOVE to hear from you, SO....
I'll email a set of these mini-posters to the first 10 people that would be willing to share.  We all learn from each other!  Don't forget to leave your email address!  :-)  
Bananas for learning from each other,



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