Monday, August 18, 2014

Monday Made It- and a BIG announcement

So all summer I wasn't doing Monday Made It. And I was sad, because linking up with Tara is so much fun! But I had nothing to make. I wasn't going back into the classroom and I was doing so much organizing in our new house that I sure wasn't making anything for my house. But that all changed on Friday....

Because I GOT A JOB!!!! I will be teaching 4th grade this year! And since I got rid of a lot of stuff before we moved (remember, I didn't think I would be teaching for a while so I got rid of it) I had to get to remaking. I also had one home project I was planning on doing (before I even interviewed for this job) so I will share that too.

My first project was to make new dry erase boards. Mine were 6 years old and I was limited on space so I gave them to my students. (Cue excitement from every single one of them!) I needed new ones so I went to Lowes (I needed something else there but Home Depot carries the same material) and got some of their white panel board (also called Thrifty White Panel Board or Shower Board). I think it was around $12 for a sheet. I had them cut it into rectangles (I was going to do 12x12 squares but I wanted a little extra room this year) and got 24 boards out of the $12.

I also bought some duct tape to put around the edges for around $3 a roll. After cutting the tape by hand for a couple boards I decided to use my cutter instead (warning- the blade WILL get gunky from the tape, but nothing a little elbow grease won't take care of). 
And I ended up with some pretty nice boards for under $20. (Please excuse the few boards with different tape, I ran out of the pink and didn't want to go back out, so I just used what I had at home.)

The second thing I needed to make was a new teacher toolbox. I didn't leave mine in Memphis but I got so used to having it on my desk in my office that I had to make a new one for my class. Plus, I wanted one that would match my colors anyways. So I got the 22 compartment storage container from Lowes (my home depot didn't have them so check before you go) and some black spray paint (for plastic). I made my new labels (which you can find under my freebies tab here- the first thing I am loading on my freebies tab!) and got to working. I decided to arrange the labels on my computer before deciding on colors so I knew I liked the way it would look in the drawers. Once I got that done, I printed and cut them out. I used double sided tape to tape the labels to the inside of the drawers (rookie mistake on my first set a couple years ago- I have the labels on the outside and they are a mess now). I just stuck a strip down each side of the label and stuck it to the drawer. You can't even see the tape!

My final craft was a home craft. I have wanted a white desk for my office but I couldn't justify buying a new one when the one we had is in perfect condition (despite being really old- it was my parents'). So I finally got the courage to paint it white. Here is what I needed for this project...
Paint Samples (I used Valspar white) and paint brushes
and some Polycrilic

I started with the primer. After that dried I painted the desk white. Once paint was dry I added the polycrilic finish. No sanding needed. Super easy (minus the fact that I kept stepping in paint splatters and had paint all over me).

Here is the before and after...
(disclaimer- the desk before is a picture from our old house when we first moved in)

With the new job, and being a different grade, I have decided to change my blog name. Be on the lookout for a new look and name with the same great content later this year (once I make a final decision on the design anyways.) Now, if you will excuse me, I have a LOT to do to get ready for a new grade in a new school!!!

Monday, August 11, 2014

Take a bite out of shark week!

All teachers know that kids learn more when they’re excited and engaged. Today a team of bloggers have come together to help your students take a BITE out of learning with a theme your students are sure to love!
One way that I keep my students engaged is to allow them to have choice (when appropriate) and explore their interests (again when appropriate). For example, last year, we were outside for recess and I noticed a few of my boys digging into some hole with a stick. I got a little worried and called for them to come over to me. They told me that they had thought there was an animal burrowed in that hole and they wanted to what it was. After me warning them not to put their hands ANYWHERE near that hole (hey- I am not about to be responsible if something jumps out!), I told them they could investigate with a LARGE stick. When we got back inside, this group of boys decided to form their own research group. They even came up with a name for themselves (but for the life of me, I can not remember what it was now). Every single day when they had free time and/or finished work early, they were rushing to the computers to research animals that live underground. They even checked books out of the library. Did it have anything to do with what I was teaching?! Absolutely not. But, they were engaged and working on researching skills, which made me happy.

And while we are talking about topics students are interested in... how about a shark week
Slide 10.png
For some reason, kids love sharks. (Me, not so much..) and because of that one of the first passages I wrote for my compare and contrast passages was about sharks. If you haven't seen this product, it includes 6 original nonfiction passages that students can use to compare and contrast. And it just so happens that the shark one is FREE!

Click HERE to try it out!

Now- Just keep swimming, just keep swimming... right through the rest of this blog hop! Every blog in the Shark Week Blog Hop features a fishy freebie for you and your students- but hurry! Shark Week only lasts until Sunday, August 17th  :)

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Educents Back To School BLOWOUT SALE


"Back to school... back to school.... to prove to dad, that I'm not a fool" ... ok ok so I know none of us are fools... but it is back to school time... and while I am sure some most (all?) of you don't want summer to end and are saying:

I know deep down you are excited for the start of a new year! I know a lot of my friends are heading back to school this week or next.. and I also know a lot still have a month left. Where ever you may be in your "getting ready for back to school time" mentality, you will want to stop what you are doing and take a minute to read up about this amazing blowout sale educents is having!  

 I am so excited to announce that is having a HUGE back-to-school blowout sale and I am going to be featured in one of the curriculum bundles! From July 30 - August 2 (Wednesday - Saturday), they are bringing back all of their favorite and most popular bundles for INSTANT download at up to 77% OFF! There is something for everyone and it is their BIGGEST sale of the year! Take a peak into what is on sale! Tell your friends, because there is something for everyone who teaches children in PreK-8th grade!

You will be able to find some amazing items in this management and class decor set that my Pirate Pop class decor set is featured in.
Management, Decor, & Organization Bundle - 76% OFF

Here are a few pictures of things that are included in my Pirate Pop decor set. 

Sound Check and NOISE chart. 
Desk Name Tags
Word Wall title and letters
Subject labels- these could also be used for schedule boards
Days of the week labels (there is a whole set of days, months, numbers for calendars, but I used them for my drawers)
Numbers (in a few different styles)- these are my library check out sticks- students placed this in the spot they got a book from so they knew exactly where the book belonged when they finished
Along with my pirate pop decor set you will find a plethora of other amazing things that will help you throughout the year. There is so much goodness in this one bundle that I don't think I could pick just one. There are some amazing resources to get your behavior plan up and running from the get go, guided reading forms, word wall cards, I could go on and on. A $46 value for only $10.99!! AND if you haven't signed up yet, you can use this link through the rest of July to get $5 in edubucks. That makes this bundle $5.99!!!

BUT... this is not the only bundle on sale for this big blowout sale! You can go to the main educents page to find more bundles in grades ranging from PreK through 8!! Because this is a 3rd grade blog and the majority of my readers teach around 3rd grade, I just want to share a few of the bundles that might help you this year. (Don't forget, if you teach other grades, go to the main site because I promise there is great stuff to be had for you too!)

School Year Curriculum Bundle (Grades 2-3) - 74% OFF


Poetry Curriculum & Activities Bundle (Grades 2-6) - 75% OFF


Tricky Math Curriculum Bundle (Grades 3-5) - 69% OFF


Don't Miss It!

And after you finish shopping this amazing sale you will be all...

(or woman)

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Two Stars and A Wish- Back to School Style

Can you believe back to school time is already here? The sales have already started (and I know we are all excited about the school supply sales...) and I am just shocked. Especially up north. The kids just go out of school at the end of June and they have another month of summer, yet they are all shopping for supplies already! To get everyone geared up with some ideas for the new school year, I am joining in with Mandy from Mandy's Tips for Teachers for Two Stars and a Wish! Two things that REALLY helped me this year and one thing I wanted to improve on. The two stars might not seem that huge in the grand scheme of things, but they really helped me.
First, OVERthink things. Really. Sit down and visualize that first day in your head. Students and parents will be constantly coming into your class all morning. You want to have any and every single thing prepared and be proactive so that your new students are calm and busy while you are welcoming each parent and child into your room. If you look on my student desks you can see that each group has a basket of supplies- pencils, colored pencils, glue, scissors, erasers, pencil sharpeners, anything I know they will need that first day is there. On their desks is a packet of back to school activities. I change it up each year. Some years it is a generic school word search, sometimes I do a word search with the students' names. I also include a coloring page (usually with addition on it), some kind of all about me activity, etc. Just things that they can do independently because you don't want to have chaos on top of the welcome into my classroom chaos. Students can work quietly while you greet new families into your room and get everyone situated. In our school we had to make sure we had certain information from the parents/students so I didn't want to be distracted by a student that needs some glue and then forget to get the information I needed.
My second idea goes along with the first, and you can see it is even the same picture... but if you enlarge the picture and look at where the arrow is pointing, you will see this tip, which involves 3 steps... Step 1: before the first day, when we get our student rosters, I hang up every child's name around the room somewhere. When students come in, I have them find their name and put their backpack and ALL of their supplies by their name. This way people aren't trying to figure out which hook to use, shoving boxes of tissues in the cubbies, and losing supplies before the first week has fully started. Since I have everything the students could need at their desks, they can just drop their stuff by their name until we get it organized. Step 2: I also photocopy a supply list for each student on my list. I write their name at the top so that I can track their supplies. Step 3: Know where all those supplies are going to go before students show up. For example, ALL lined paper goes in the pink tote under my writing table. Pencils go in the plastic drawers. Glue sticks go in a plastic shoe box container. I know this in advance and labeled the spots for everything. Also know what students will need to keep at their desks (notebooks, folders, etc). 

Throughout that first day (while students are working, at lunch, during a designated "collect supplies time"- yes I set time to do that and students color and read) I go through each student's supplies. I cross off everything they brought. (If we required 48 pencils and they brought 36, I cross off the 48 and write 12.)  As supplies come in the next few days, I can pull out the child's list and cross of what they brought me. Anything that is getting put into the class supply (pencils, glue, paper, dry erase markers, index cards, etc.) just gets put away. I take the glue and markers out of the packaging to save space. Anything that is going to the students' desks they take when I am going through their things. Any extras (extra crayons, markers, folders, notebooks, etc) that are NOT class supply get labeled with the student's name and stored for later in the year. If you don't finish this during the day, STAY AFTER. Get it done that first day. Once the supplies are taken care of, it is a HUGE weight lifted off my shoulders. I can't handle having stuff everywhere. So I make it a point to get it done.
And the one thing I had high hopes for... my math journals. I loved these. Really. I just didn't time it all out right. My GOAL was for my students to do one word problem each day in their little journals (I bought composition notebooks when they were on sale and then took them to Office Depot to get cut in half.) They would work on the problem independently for a designated amount of time. Then I would allow them to discuss with their groups. Then we would go over the solution(s) together. My problem was the timing. I just could never figure out the best time to do this. I finally figured it out (fine time to figure it out huh)... after lunch/recess is always a little more chaotic than I would like. Kids are hyped up. I like to have something that will get them right back in the classroom mindset and working. This would be perfect. We went to recess right after lunch so, this is how it would have worked last year had I done it this way. 1. As we are prepping to go to lunch, pass out the problems (which I already had cut apart because there are multiples on the page) and glue. Have students glue in the problem on the page. As they are lining up, put the glue away. Notebooks and pencils are left on their desks. 2. After lunch/recess when we come back in the classroom, students can sit right down to work on their word problems. It gets them right into the classroom mindset and gives the teacher time to get ready to move onto the next activity. 

If you would like to see the word problems I used for my math journals, you can click the image below. I am currently working on another set that should be up in the next week or so. Make sure to follow my facebook page to be alerted when I list it since I always give a copy away and list items for 50% off the first 2 days!

For more star ideas, be sure to check out the link up below. I hope these simple ideas can help you get off to a great back to school season!!

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

A little update on me...

Some of you may know, some may not... but I am no longer teaching (at least temporarily). We moved 6 years ago from Buffalo NY to Memphis TN. At the time, it was a good idea. Over the 6 years I have wanted nothing more than to come home. The opportunity came for us to come home, and so we did. So on May 9, I said goodbye to my amazing kids and coworkers and started the long drive the next day (on my birthday... my 30th birthday... what a way to celebrate huh?!).

We have been in Buffalo for almost 2 months now, so I figured it was time to give a small update. The reason I am not currently teaching is because I can't. NY does their licensing a little different I guess. I held an initial license before we moved. In NY, you have 5 years to get 3 years of experience and a Master's degree in order to get your professional license. Well... I got the experience, however never got the Master's degree. I had full intentions of getting it (and still do) but the chance for us to move home happened faster than I expected. I originally thought I would be able to use my out of state license and get a temporary license based on reciprocity. I found out, that is not the case. Because I already held an initial, I am not eligible for anything other than professional. So... here I am.

SOME schools (private/charter/etc) are able to take teachers without their Master's. But they are few and far between. And because there are SO MANY certified but unemployed teachers in this area, most schools just require and hire licensed teachers. So where does that leave me?

Here- working on my mile long to do list for TpT of things that I thought of through the past school year that I wanted to make. Here- blogging (when I can) about things that worked in my classroom. Here- looking for some kind of profession that will work for me for now. And here- attempting to get ahold of NYS dept of ed. so that I can find out if the accelerated Master's program I want to enroll in will count so that I can get my license back.

I did just got some GREAT news though. My students last year ROCKED OUT on the TCAP. I mean... best scores I have ever had!!! AND.... with our new data from the test scores, I am, for the first time ever, rated a 5 teacher!! (A 5 is the highest you can get.) I was a 4 up until this point because they used predicted data based on last year's scores. But with the official scores I am a 5. And our school did AMAZING. I am so proud to say that all the hard work, sweat, tears, that we put into this year paid off.

I have full intentions of going back into the classroom (I am shocked to see myself say this because there were many times this past year I wanted to throw in the towel). But I have no time frame for that. I plan to share things along the way, ideas that I used in my class, ideas that pop into my head for when I have a class again, products, things I learn from my Master's program (once I get there), and more. So I sure hope you all plan to stick with me!

P.S. I am super close to 1,000 TpT followers, I have exceeded that on the blog AND my fb page. So once I get to the 1000 on TpT I am going to plan a giveaway. Just be on the lookout :)

Monday, June 30, 2014

Working with Sentences

Last year, one of the best things happened. We got a reading specialist for the second half of the year. The position became available and one of our amazing 1st grade teachers got it. We were able to send 5 of our children to her. The students that were "bubble".... they could go either way on state testing. I knew who I wanted to send right away. I knew who would benefit from this... and I was right. Because the room was right across the hall from us, and I looked up to this teacher, I would often talk to her about things going on in our class. What worked, what we struggled with, getting advice. And after she had my students, she would tell me how they did or what they needed to work on. And every time there was something they needed to work on, I jumped at the chance to figure something out.

One thing we talked about a lot was simple work with sentences. Writing was the weakest area for my students (and always has been)... I am not sure what happens but they get to me in third grade and we are back to the basics of capitalization, punctuation, and just making a logical sentence. We spend a LONG time working on that. Then moving to paragraphs that flow and all follow ONE topic. I swear that is why I have gray hairs. So I thought and thought about what I could do. And it came to me. Work with one sentence a week. Do a couple editing things to the sentence (so students can start to see common mistakes they make, enabling them to peer edit later on), use synonyms and antonyms, expand sentences, identify parts of speech, etc.
We also noticed that students could tell us what a noun was, or what a compound word was... but give them a sentence and ask them to identify these things, and they would just make careless mistakes. I wanted some clear practice. Something that would make them apply themselves. And so we have Sentence a Week. 36 sentences to work with through your school year. This can be used so many ways... morning work, after lunch work (I try to have something for my kids to do when we come in from the cafeteria chaos... this would be perfect), jumpstart your writing time, or even a writing center. I originally was going to just have task 1, task 2, etc but I decided to keep the days of the week, because that is how we function in my class. If you decide to use it in a center or otherwise, you could always just tell students to do Monday and Tuesday activities or something. I just like things to be laid out by day so students know exactly what to do when. It could also be used as a weekly homework thing and instead of a peer editing their work they can edit with a parent.

Here is an example of week 1. It is just a screen shot, but feel free to pull it up on your smartboard to try it (or print it if it works clearly).
If this is something you think you can use, it is 50% off for the rest of today in honor of my June daily deals. You can find it here.

And if you missed out on my daily deals, make sure to "like" my facebook page for announcements of other deals and sales. I don't have as much time to blog as I would like, but it is very easy for me to throw a quick post up on fb!

Sunday, June 29, 2014

HUGE Giveaway!!!!

 Ready for a HUGE giveaway?!?! I have joined in to help Tabitha celebrate reaching 1,000 TpT followers!!

10 winners will each win one of the prize packages listed below. Each package contains a $10 shopping spree to 10 different stores- that a $100 shopping spree and a total of $1000 in products in all!

You can enter right from my page. Best of luck! 

a Rafflecopter giveaway
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