Monday, October 13, 2014

Halloween Math Freebie!

Hey everyone!

It's been FOREVER since I've blogged. Literally, two months. Yikes.

It's been a tough start to the year. But I'm enjoying a rainy Columbus Day off with my kiddos after a trip to the children's museum, so life is good! :)

I posted on Teaching Blog Round Up about a Halloween freebie I just posted in my TPT store. Click below to go to my post and grab your free ten frame print-and-go center!

Enjoy the day off for those of you who have a nice little three-day weekend! :)

Friday, August 8, 2014

... And We Have a Winner!

Thank you to everyone who entered the 900 follower giveaway here on my blog! And the winner is...

Lindsay, we will be sending you your goodies very soon!

I can't wait to check in on Monday for the Monday Made It (my first one!). I'm trying to soak up as much time with my sweeties as I can before I go back to work. We're off to the splash pad today!

Have a great weekend!

Friday, August 1, 2014

900 Follower GIVEAWAY!

Hi everyone! I am so excited to announce that I've reached 900 followers (and then some!) on Teachers Pay Teachers! I remember starting on TPT a couple years ago and being excited that I had 14 followers! I know to some of you, 900 isn't so many, but to me, it's a big milestone - and so close to 1000!

To celebrate, some lovely bloggers and I have put together a giveaway of some fantastic prizes that will start your school year off right!

We have lots of great prizes for you to win! Just enter using the Rafflecopter below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, July 4, 2014

Fourth of July Sale!

Hi everyone! Just dropping in real quick before some family time to let you know I'm throwing a sale in my TPT store!

Just click the image below to go to my TPT store!

(Image from Traci at Dragonflies in First!)

Have a Happy Fourth of July!

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Get Yourself Organized!

One of the things I'm vowing to work on this summer is relabeling all my binders. During the course of the year, it's easy to just throw things into a binder and be done with it. I wanted to be able to have a more organized way to keep my things straight, so I created new binder covers and coordinating spines that go with my brights and black/chalkboard theme. (Okay, so it's not a theme... But I just LOVE those colors!)

To check them out in my TPT store, just click any of the images above!

I've put my binder covers (above) and my folder and notebook labels HALF OFF today and tomorrow only, so you can start getting organized for next year ASAP! 

(Click on the image to go to the product on my TPT page)

And because I want to give these away too, the first two people who comment with their email address will get BOTH the editable binder covers and the folder/notebook labels for FREE!

Have a great day! :)

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Be a Guided Reading Master!

Hi everyone! We've officially been on break for a week, and it. Is. Glorious. I've had the opportunity to spend tons of time with my own kiddos at the Field Museum and the zoo, READ for myself (currently The Goldfinch... I'm liking it, but I quickly realized why it was taking FOREVER to move along on my Kindle... The book is nearly 800 pages!), and to fall asleep while putting my kids to sleep - and not feel guilty.

One thing I do want to make a concerted effort to do is to prep for next year way in advance so my to do list at the end of August isn't a mile long. Well, it probably will be anyways, but I'll make a dent while I'm much less stressed!

Anyways, one thing that was on my to do list ALL YEAR that is DONE is my leveled guided reading lesson plans!

Guided reading is hands-down my favorite part of the day. FAVORITE. It's such a great way to really interact with each student, to help them in a very specific way, and to see results from all our hard work.

One thing that kinda revolutionized my prep for guided reading was preparing lessons for each book, rather than for the group of students. It sounds kind of odd. We teach students, not the book, right? But in my personal and school library of guided reading books, I can think of very specific skills that align perfectly with certain books. For example, when my beginning of the year firsties need to work on predictions supported with information from the text, I pull out "Where's the Baby?" (in the AlphaKids series by Sundance... The best guided reading book ever. And it's a level D people!) When I know the book well, and have planned for that book well, I'm better at making quick instructional decisions with the students in front of me.

I feel like, especially as my students reach more challenging reading levels, I'm not always sure what skills are level-appropriate for my students. I want to make sure I'm using challenging teaching and questioning skills to really build up my students' abilities as readers and thinkers.

So, that's where these lesson plans come into play.

I've broken down skills in the following areas for each guided reading level from A through M:
  • Word work - I do this right before the lesson, and link it to words they'll find in the text
  • Vocab preview
  • Before reading - Activating prior knowledge, noticing text features, etc.
  • During reading - These are especially focused on accuracy, fluency, and self-monitoring for comprehension
  • After reading - With questions/skills that are more literal as well as higher-level
For an early kindergartener...

And for an early second grader...

Just add guided reading books and you'll be ready to go!

This pack can be found {HERE}, but I'll also give away a free copy to the first person to comment with their email address.

Have a great day!

Thursday, June 19, 2014

I've Always Loved the Idea of SUMMER... And SUN... And All Things HOT!!!

Phew! I can't believe today is finally here. It was my LAST day of school yesterday. We actually had the last day with students on Friday, but we had PD days until yesterday. There were times this year when I really wondered if I was going to make it to today!

Now, I've had a doctor's appointment (boo) and a pedi (yay!) and I'm feeling a bit refreshed already.

So, is it crazy to start working on a to-do list on the first day of summer? If so, I am nuts. :)

As a grade level, we decided we are going to try something new this school year. We have an Open House before school starts, where students and their families come in and find out who their teacher is. I usually put something kinda generic on the bulletin board (this year I'm thinking I might go with an Elephant and Piggie theme) where I post my students' names. But then, a week or two passes and I realize - OOPS! I need something else up on the bulletin board. So one of the girls on my team suggested maybe giving students "homework" at Open House and posting them on the board outside our rooms as they come back in. Genius!

So, I'm working on this:

(It's still a work in process, and I'm trying to find some good fonts with Spanish characters to use for my bilingual coworkers.)

Other things on my list?

Continue working on my notebook and folder labels to put on TPT. I have the ones I'm using for my class done, but I want to add some that I don't need but other TPTers might. (If you have any ideas, let me know!)

Make a book cover banner. I LOVE LOVE LOVE this one from Kinder-Craze!

Make new curtains for my shelves. Seeing all the junk on them drives me nuts, so I want to get them covered up! However, I don't sew, so we'll figure that out.

And I want to READ! I'm planning on reading:


And, of course, spends lots and LOTS of QT with my cuties! (My son turned 2 a couple weeks ago and my daughter turns 4 in August... It's crazy how quick time flies!)

Have a great rest of the week!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Coming to You (FINALLY!) From Spring Break!

We are in the midst of our spring break, and let me tell you, it is a beautiful thing. I am loving every minute of this. We had fantastically warm weather here in Chicago on Saturday (almost 80... Whoop whoop!), but it's been colder since. Nevertheless, I've had date days with each of my kiddos, including a trip to the American Girl Store today (brings back memories of my own Kirsten and Felicity!), dinner with a friend from college and her new hubby... And just relaxing a bit.

Also, knowing that there are eight weeks left in the school year? Relaxing and frightening at the same time!

I've used this teeny tiny bit of downtime to finish a product I started long ago. Like I had to go back and change the dates at the bottom from 2013 to 2014.


Lo and behold, here it is:

(Click the picture above to see the listing on TPT.)

Each year, my firsties learn about matter, and let me tell you, it is my FAVORITE unit. I started college as a chem major, TAed chemistry my senior year of college, and taught 8th grade science my first year of teaching. Yes, you heard that... I {heart} science. Chemistry specifically. Not enough to make it my major (I ended up a psych major), but it holds a place near and dear to my heart.

I wanted to make the unit as teacher-friendly as possible, so I included the following:

Enduring understandings for the unit that really focus the unit on keep principles that are high-level, yet appropriate for young students.

A student-friendly reader about matter that is easy to assemble (copy, stack, staple, and cut) and easy to read. It's also interactive, allowing students to draw and label in the book.

A matter sort (an updated version of the one I have posted on TPT) that includes enlarged cards for a pocket chart or anchor chart, as well as smaller student sorts for authentic assessment.

Student-friendly vocabulary cards that include visuals and a quick definition of key terms.

Tree maps for supporting student thinking and understanding (small and large versions).

Seven experiments aligned to those key understandings, each including:

Teacher instructions...

... and student recording sheets.

Plus a blank book for your students to write their own All About Matter informational text (great for end-of-unit assessment).


As a bonus, the unit {click here} is ON SALE through tonight for just $3.00 (instead of $6.00)... Plus I'll give a copy to the first two posters who comment on this post with their email address.

Have a great day!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

What a Slacker... And a Valentine's Day Freebie!

I kinda cringe every time I look at the last time I posted... Geesh. My New Year's resolution was to be better about posting here, but alas, things get in the way!

I don't know about you all, but all these snow days and testing have left me feeling so behind at school! But we HAVE been doing some awesome work with the Civil Rights Movement, and we are venturing into studying slavery next. A couple years ago I started doing research projects on famous African-Americans, and those always turn out AMAZING! I'm excited to get those going in a week or two.

We studied Martin Luther King, Jr. and all the ways in which he's shaped how we live today.

We started out by making a schema map about MLK:

We completed the I Have a Dream craftivity by A Cupcake for the Teacher and they turned out awesome!

I just love the writing my students did to go along with their art:

We read about MLK, Rosa Parks, and Ruby Bridges, and created webs about them:

Tomorrow we are going to a theatre performance about MLK, Rosa, and Harriet Tubman. Can't wait!

We also got a few DonorsChoose projects funded... Amazing! This is the cover one of my kiddos made for our thank you letters:

(We had many hardcover copies of favorite books donated... Hence all the book characters. Can you tell my kiddos love Mo Willems?!)

And, if you're looking for something to use with your students for Valentine's Day, I have this freebie in my shop for you!

Just click the picture to grab it for yourself.

Happy Wednesday!
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