Thursday, January 31, 2013

{How to Make My Day}

I got this from a student..
Way to make my day...

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

{Feeling a Little Ehhh...}

So... today was one of those days.
I had a substitute because I had an all day PD for Language Arts.
Cue all the crap that went wrong... My sub seemed very nice and I'm thankful that it was someone who didn't hit me with a list of grievances against my group. They can be difficult at times, mostly because I have some very wild boys in my room. Lots of boys that have some troubles controlling themselves. A lot of what I left for the day didn't get finished.
I am not one to be super critical of substitutes because I was a sub for A FULL SCHOOL YEAR and I hated it! Subbing blows, I don't care what anyone says.

Then, PD... We were going along great, even had time to plan with the third grade LA teacher from our other elementary and then we start going over Aims Web January scores and I wanted to keel over. {Nearly} all of my kids went down on their CBM and Maze.
As a first year teacher, it's immediately "What am I doing wrong??"
But, as someone who knows that Aims Web is only a very small piece of the puzzle, I try not to freak out too much. I guess it's just frustrating to see it on paper.. to see that my lower kids are not showing that they are not more fluent readers 

So, I'll figure out where to go from here, but as of tonight and I am just tired.
I'm ready for the weekend and I need a nap.

I'm being observed tomorrow, so I'm happy to get that over with.

And I actually just became a Thirty-One consultant and I am REALLY excited about that.
I got recruited for being a psycho over my wish list for my party {that did REALLY well} a couple of weeks ago. I'm not OCD or anything.. This is one of my favorite things I got!

So, there's all of that. Something fun to look forward to, and something else that really needs some re-evaluation.

Wish me luck & tell me.. how do you all feel about Aims?

Thursday, January 24, 2013


Thank Gersh it's Thursday...
I wanted to pop in and show you this picture that makes me so happy:
Be still my school supply loving heart...
Mr. Sketch Stix and Neon colored Poly Zip Envelopes!

Speaking of getting organized in style, I just updated one of my favorite things in my shop, my Chevron Teacher Binder Covers!
This pack used to have only ten covers in it and now it has FIFTY??
What? Book em Dan-o! 
Just a little Molly Shannon SNL reference.

Anyways, the covers are super cute and they cover just about everything you could imagine. I printed mine on card stock and slid them in page protectors in my big ol' binder!
Go check them out and Happy Friday tomorrow!

Sunday, January 20, 2013

{Key to My Heart}

UM. It's looking pretty cute!
Almost finished!

Saturday, January 19, 2013

{Lucky Me and a Three Day Weekend}

Hallelujah three day weekend!
Last night I went out with my teacher friends and we had some fun.
Mexican food, margaritas, karaoke and people watching were all involved ;)

I was working on this pack last week to get prepared for St. Patrick's Day. Remember that March will be here before you know it before you roll those eyeballs!
I wanted something fun and laid back for my kids to do during our class party.
As a first year teacher, something I didn't have prepared for class parties was something for the kids to do. On Halloween we played Bingo and Roll-A-Monster and that was a huge success, but for some reason, I totally dropped the ball on our Christmas party.

I'm working on something similar for Valentine's Day, so if you like this, you'll probably like that as well. I did things backwards, huh?

There are four fill-in-the-blank stories included in this pack. You can copy them front to back or have the whole class do the same story and see what they come up with!
I'm using these during my class party as a small group "share the pencil" writing.
There's also a page of common St. Patrick's Day words.
This should be printed in color and laminated or put in a page protector for durability!

You'll also find coloring half-sheets that students can color while they snack during the party, or after they write in the writing center. You could also use this pack with the Spring Fever Writing Pack to have more St. Patrick's Day writing activities than you can stand! :)

I'm off to enjoy my weekend. I have a 31 Party on Sunday and I just bought a couple of Melonheadz packs, so I'm excited to come up with some fun stuff!

Check back soon & happy 3 day weekend teachers!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

{What Works for Me}

I wanted to talk about some things I do in my classroom that happen to work for me.
I always like when people share things like this because it's nice to see what everyone else is doing. It also helps knowing that if it works for someone similar, maybe it will work for you! Here a little list of things I love in my room:

Posting my Objective:
Why: Because it helps me target my students' learning AND it's on our new teacher evaluation so I'm getting in gear before that starts next year.
I actually started doing this and can't imagine NOT doing it.
Currently: Looking for a way to make it better and more compact. I'm designing something that doesn't take up as much precious whiteboard space.

Information Station:
Why: Because it is where everything is kept that would normally be tossed on a teacher's desk. I keep my desk neat, unless I miss three days of school in a row, my desk always looks presentable. I just don't want it to be messy.
I have a Drop Box, that is where everything goes that students would want to throw on my desk. Our lunch count clipboard is there, that moves to the kidney table in the morning for easy use. My bins for my switches, one for my homeroom and one for the other class I have in the afternoon. If they turn it in, it goes in the bin!
Also included: school calendar, lunch menu, special schedule and Gold Medal behavior chart!

Reading Log Incentive:
I have a handful out of 40 students that have trouble being consistent with their homework. Not too  bad, but it's also not okay with me. I wanted to do some sort of program where students get rewarded for doing their reading log every night for a week. At the end of each week if they did their log each night, they get a sticker. I plan on some cool prizes when they fill it up, but a lot of times the sticker itself is a big deal on Fridays!

Writing Process Bookmarks:
My kids are sort of obsessed with these.
I made a bookmark that my students can use all school year by letting them decorate them and laminating them for long-term use. First off, the power of laminating something for third graders is phenomenal. It was a HUGE DEAL.
They keep these in our bin or in their writing folders when we're working on a writing project. We use dry erase markers to check off each step, they actually do pretty well in the folders after the dry erase check marks.
I am obsessed with these because I can say "show me your bookmark" for a quick check to see who is almost there, going super fast or in outer space. ;)

My bookmarks can be found here.

And how about a freebie?!
This REALLY works for me. You just plop a post-it right over each section with what you need to grade, copy, create or plan. I hope you enjoy this one as much as I do. Head to my shop to download this for free.

What works for you??

Monday, January 14, 2013

{Inspiration Everywhere!}

So, as I was going through college, I remember thinking how crazy it was that we had to develop our own units. Not sure what planet I was living on when I thought you get a job, then they hand you a big binder and schedule filled for the year... UM WHAT??
I consider myself to be a smart young woman, I just had some misconceptions.

This is all leading to me feeling extremely lucky to have all the outlets we have as teachers for inspiration, ideas and resources. I can't tell you how much of my time is spent checking out teaching blogs, perusing around Pinterest and stalking TpT for something that I can use in my classroom. It makes my job so much easier having an abundance of resources at my fingertips. Don't you think we're lucky?

Here are some things around Pinterest that I really want to try out, have tried out or have immediate plans to try out... Whew, still with me?

I have really been studying this picture. Does anyone else do that? Am I crazy?
I like what is going on here but I want to change it to make it more my own. I'm working on this one as displaying and going back to our objective is something I do daily.

Have I ever told you that I have some super smart kids in my room?
I am constantly working on Guided Reading and trying to make it better. I love this post about Guided Reading for upper grades. I teach third, but I have a good handful of students reading at closer to a fifth grade level.

This video is one that I keep coming back to for Guided Reading. I wish I had this kind of time to have meaningful mini-lessons with all my kids each day.

We're focusing a lot of reader's responses with the new PARCC on it's way. I'd love to get it together and use the sticky notes like the ones used in this post. My kids would love it.

So, what is inspiring you lately?
I clearly have Guided Reading on the mind! ;)

Sunday, January 13, 2013

{The Flu has Struck}

Well... the flu got me. Last Tuesday night I started feeling not like myself.
Now, if you know me, which you probably do not, you would know that I'm like a lot of other teachers you know. I tend to "power through" sickness.
I'm a teacher, a wife and a mom {not in that particular order}, so needless to say, the world does not stop when I get the sniffles. Only, these were not aren't sniffles.
It took me about a day to realize that what I had was the flu, I called my doctor and managed to get a Z Pack and today I took the last dose of that Z Pack.

I missed three days of school last week. THREE. I have never missed more than one day at a time and let me tell you that missing three... in a row... made me feel like I was committing an awful crime. A lot of times, us women, are kind of expecting to just keep on going. I'm usually that person, but this flu has knocked me out cold. I didn't leave my house from Tuesday night until Saturday morning when I decided to venture out to Target and immediately regretted it afterwards. I still feel really weak and tired, but I will be back in school tomorrow. With grades due, second quarter awards and two IEP meetings breathing down my neck, I will be back..

I can only say that I am so lucky to have a teaching partner (third grade LA got split into two positions for this year) that is beyond awesome. She made sure my subs had all they needed, helped with a bake sale and made massive copies all waiting on my table for me. She is the best. I'm so lucky!

So, what have I been up to since Tuesday? 
Nothing but watching The Walking Dead and American Horror Story.
My husband and I are officially hooked on The Walking Dead and we're almost caught up into season three. I found American Horror Story on Netflix and it was not what I expected it to be at all, but I like it. It's demented and macabre, but it's very addicting!

This week will have to be a week of catch up. I've been looking forward to our writing activities for the week and I can't wait to get back into the swing of things.
If you didn't see in my last post, I made this awesome Spring Writing Pack and it's in my TpT store right now. I think it's going to end up being something that does very well. Check it out when you get the chance if you're looking for some supplemental writing.

Back to the tissues.
Stay well friends!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

{Spring Fever Writing}

Is it really only Tuesday?
This week is dragging on, but it actually has been pretty productive for me after all.
We're finishing up My Rows and Piles of Coins and I'm sure my guys will be happy to see it go after this week. Something about reading the same story three or more times that sends them over the edge!

Next week we're doing A-Z readers on Martin Luther King Jr. I'm pretty excited about these. The Civil Rights Movement is one of my favorite historical events and I love learning more and more about it. I plan on showing students Jr's famous "speech," hoping it will really help them get a good feel for the time and the importance of his message. We have some cute writing planned for next week, also!

Speaking of writing, I made a packet that I absolutely love. It can be used in Grades 1-4 since you can get as in depth or shallow with it as you'd like. It has eight different writing prompts/graphic organizers and then eight sheets of coordinating paper for final drafts. I'll be using all of these in my class this year, hop over to my shop and check it out.

Like I said, this week has been productive for me! Copies have been made, things have been tidied up around the room and I'm finally on top of some of my sheets that needed to go into my big Master Copies binder. I'm not sure what I'll be teaching next year so I'm keeping copies of everything so they will be on hand if/when I'm teaching third grade again. I'm thinking I will end up in second grade next year, and if that's the case, a lot of my third grade stuff can be used again.

I made these last night because I'm pretty tired of hearing, I'm done! What do I do now?? We've only had a million talks about their options. Maybe this will make them stop asking.

Happy Tuesday!

Saturday, January 5, 2013

{Differentiation Focused} Guided Reading Pack

This school year my class is filled with super smart kids..
I'm not just saying that, we literally have many kids that have already tested out of this year's Spring OAA and they are getting 100's on our new Challenge Spelling Lists we do each week that feature fifth grade words..
Like I said, they're super smart.

With that being said, a huge focus of mine this year has been DIFFERENTIATION.
I have learned a lot from our district gifted coordinator on the subject.
Many people think that giving a higher performing student extra work or something to do when they fly through one of your regular activities that you are differentiating, well you're not. Bummer! Sad City!

 Differentiation is a fine art. One that involves reaching those students that are super high. I feel that teachers will be forced into this practice soon enough with the arrival of the new PARCC exam. I know we won't have the OAA very soon and our kids will be faced with switching from a test they are very familiar with to one that involves much higher level thinking. I am getting my kids prepared every day.

By giving students choices, you are differentiating. By having students choose their best work, you are differentiating. By giving an appropriate amount of work to everyone, you are differentiating. For instance, it might take a lower performing student 30 minutes to do one sheet, while that amount of time is taken by a higher performing student to finish two sheets. They are both doing work that is appropriate for their own level so it's not just like throwing an extra filler sheet at them.

I made this guided reading menu pack for the 3rd graders at my school. I have tweaked it and asked for feedback from colleagues, I have made it my own and now I'm putting it out there. I am very proud of this pack. It's like my baby, like the first thing I have created of some larger amount of substance, not just classroom decorations {which I love BTW!!}

With that being said, check it out:

The Book Jacket activity is awesome. The kids get to design their own book jacket for the story they read. Don't expect them to know what a book jacket is, go ahead and show them a few examples first ;)

Character Portrait is a page that I feel is best for lower ability students. This isn't really something I want to see my high guys doing. I want to see them doing the Compare/Contrast page and the Alternate Ending page.

Works for everyone! I'm working on a Non-Fiction pack to pair with this one. Many of these activities are most appropriate for Fiction selections, but I like it because it can be used with any reading curriculum or group chapter books.

Happy Saturday!

Friday, January 4, 2013

{Reading Log Pack & TGIF}

Happy Friday Teacher Friends!
Is anyone out there? I really need to get some followers ;)

Fridays are so sweet for teachers. We only had school three days this week, so the time just flew right by. My kids our reading from our Basal this week so we have been reading our rumps off! The story for this and next week is My Rows and Piles of Coins. An audio reading of the story is 12 minutes long so imagine how long it takes in small groups with my lower pals. We just power through and I really like the lessons in this story.
Yay for Realistic Fiction, too. My kids are really getting genre!

I made a pack for Reading Logs and added it to my TpT store tonight.
I think it's really worth checking out if you're looking to revamp your reading logs or start using them all together. There are five pages included and I think they're all important when it comes to reading logs.

Go check it out if you're in the market for a new Reading Log Pack, 
and in true Duck Dynasty Si fashion:
Hey! Have a good weekend!