Thursday, July 2, 2015

Week 3 Challenge: Make Your Masterpiece

Week 3 of the TPT Seller's Challenge. Only 1 more week left. I'll actually be bummed when it's over. This week's challenge was to make or finish a new product- a Masterpiece! So.... my newest creation... drumroll, please...
My friend Barb from GradeOnederful and Barbara Leyne Designs created these beautiful blue and teal background papers that I've been wanting to do something with for quite a while. I'm looking forward to using these for my Lesson Plan binder, Reading Groups binder, and Assessment Binder. 
They make me smile. If you'd like to pick them up for yourself, they're available now in my TPT store.

On another note, my bloggy friend Jessica from Tales of a First Grade Teacher invited me to be part of a book study on Angela Watson's new book Unshakeable: 20 ways to enjoy teaching matter what. It's available now from Barnes & Noble. Mine came in only 2 days. You can also download the book from TPT. The book study starts on Jessica's blog on July 6th. Hope you'll follow along!

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Monday, June 29, 2015

Makekover Madness: Week 2 Dare to Dream

This TPT Seller's Challenge is so much fun! I've been spending a lot of time checking out the facebook groups- so many great tidbits of info there!

Week 2 of the challenge is Dare to Dream. To share the dreams we have for our TPT stores. These are mine starting with my short-range goals and then my BIG dreams.
For years my husband and I had talked about running a business. Just tossing it around thinking it sounded like lots of work but lots of fun at the same time. When my friend Jessica encouraged me to open a TPT store this fit right into that plan. I opened my store and wondered if anyone would purchase any of my products. What do you know! They did! It's fun to have my store and try to build it into my own dream.

First off, I hoped I could make enough money to pay for what I purchase on TPT. It's nice to be able to say that it has.

My next goal for my store is to pay for a fabulous vacation.  I really want to go back to Miami and drive to Key West. It's always sounded like such an interesting place and when my husband and I were in South Beach (how many years ago?) the beach was gorgeous and the water warm. I can't wait to go back!

And my last goal, ultimately, would be to have my store supplement our income so that we could do some of the things we want to do for ourselves and others.

Right now I'm thrilled to have my little business and to be part of this great blogging community. Anything else is a bonus.

I'm off to work on wee 3 of the challenge--- a new product. Time to finish some of those UFO's!

Thanks again to these wonderful bloggers for creating this fun challenge.

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Monday, June 22, 2015

Alphabet Letter Exchange Registration is Ready!

I'm so excited to kick off the 5th Alphabet Letter Exchange! I had to look back in my blog to find out when the first one was. It's amazing to think some of us have been doing this since 2011! This year it would be fantastic if we had a teacher from every state. I think there were teachers from 38 states and 2 Canadian provinces last year.
If you're wondering what the Alphabet Letter Exchange is, there is a description of the project below along with the rules and sign-up form. This is a picture of an almost-finished alphabet I put up in my classroom a few years ago (I just hadn't gotten the rest of the letters when I took this picture). You can check out more pictures from other teacher's classrooms in a previous post {here}. 
The Alphabet Letter Exchange is a whole lot of fun for kids and teachers! It's a good way to teach some geography too. Some teachers display a map on the wall and label where each letter comes from and other have had their students color states on a map as they get the letters. 
If you'd like to participate in the project this year, please read the project description below and fill out the Google form at the bottom of this post.

Here's how the project works:

1. Your class will be assigned a letter of the alphabet and put into a group with 25 other teachers. Each teacher would have their class decorate 26 of that letter. A template will be provided. I might switch the letter style for this year, but they will still be capital letters. You'll print it on card stock and have your class decorate it. Decorate it however you like, just have fun and get creative!
2. You'll need to mail 25 of the letters to the members of your group and you'll keep one. Each teacher is responsible for their own postage charges. Some people send their letters in manilla envelopes and some fold them and put them in letter size envelopes. It really depends on how the letter is decorated. Either way is okay. At the end of the project you should have a complete, unique, student-made alphabet!

3. You could also include a short letter about your class, school, and where you live. This is optional.

The project will run from mid-August thru September 30th to give everyone time to get back to school, decorate, and mail their letters. If possible, try to send your letter as early in September as possible.

I'd love to have you participate! Just a little favor, though, please sign up only if you really intend to follow through with the project. It is heartbreaking to kids and teachers alike to end up with an incomplete alphabet

Just a couple more things:
I'm planning to stop sign-ups on July 24th so I can get the lists out by the beginning of August. That's a little earlier than usual, but school starts for me in mid-August so I want to make sure I can get your groups out to you before I have to go back to school.
Also, I'll be in touch via email to give you any updates and send out the templates.
You can keep up with the project through my facebook page too. I'm getting familiar with twitter and instagram and will post some pics on there too. But the best ways to keep right now are this blog and facebook.

If you want to participate in the project this year, please click {HERE} and fill out the Google form.

I've also made this button (just link it back to my blog, please) if you want to share about this exchange on your blog facebook page, etc.. I'm so happy to have you along on the wonderful bloggy adventure!

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Sunday, June 21, 2015

Alphabet Letter Exchange- Coming Soon!
The Alphabet Letter Exchange is definitely on again this year! Several teachers who participated in the past have already sent emails saying they're excited to do it again and so am I. I love this project and my students always do to!

In case you aren't familiar with the project, teachers sign up their classes to participate, get placed in a group with 25 other teachers from as many varied states and Canadian provinces as possible, then are assigned a letter of the alphabet to have their class decorate. That teacher keeps one letter, mails out the other 25, and should receive the rest of the alphabet decorated by other classes. Each letter usually includes a note from the class or teacher about where they're from and makes for a fun lesson in geography as well as reading. You can find out more about it and see some photos teachers have sent of their alphabet displays in these past posts here and here.

Sign ups will start on tomorrow, June 22, and run through July 24. I have to start and end a little earlier than usual because school starts a little earlier for us than it has before and I want to get all the groups made and emailed to you before things get too crazy here. I'll post a Google form as I have before. Please only sign up if you truly think you will follow through with the project.

Before I go, I'd like to introduce you to the newest member of our family, little Jackson. He's about
2 1/2 months old. He's been with us for a few weeks already. He and his 2 siblings had a rough start to life. They were found in the attic of a house and their mother had passed away. They were only about 3 weeks old. Thanks to the help of his wonderful foster family, Jackson's now a very happy kitty whose life consists of lots of PLAY, eating, and a little sleep.
Here's Jackson when we first got him
Here he is now

Have a great Sunday!

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Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Makeover Madness {Week 1 TPT Seller Challenge}

I'm so excited to be joining up with the TPT Seller Challenge sponsored by Sparkling in Second and a few other bloggers! I'm officially on summer vacation as of today. I finished my cums, turned in my keys, and said goodbye to my principal who has been very nice to work for these last few years. She's retiring just in time to have her first grandchild be born. The end of this year marks the end of 2 years with the same incredible group of kids- I looped up to 2nd with my firsties from last year. They were one of the very best classes I've ever had and I will miss them so very much. You know when you have that group where all the kids become friends, get along, and support each other? It was just what teaching should be. 
This challenge came along at the perfect time to get me blogging again now that I have more time. The first of four challenges is this week and the challenge is to makeover a TPT item in your store.
I chose to makeover the covers of my best-selling product and the freebie that goes with it. I also changed the fonts some. This is my best-seller, a phonics packet where kids write the missing beginning sound then have to read the word and draw a picture of it. There are also word searches that go with each vowel sound. But looking at it today I thought EEK! did I really have the cover looking like that? Oh my! It really needed a modern makeover!
What I like most about this is that kids can't write the wrong beginning sound (which makes it super easy to spell the word) but the work comes when they have to be able to read the word to draw the picture. Each page has kids reading words with a different long vowel sound. It looks like this

The short vowel companion is a freebie in my TPT store. I revamped the cover for it too. It looks similar so teachers would know they go together.
 This shows what the pages inside this packet look like.

I'm so excited to see what the next challenge is! I hope you'll join up or follow along for the fun. Thanks for popping by!

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Sunday, May 24, 2015

Do you use Front Row for Math? (freebies)

Do you use Front Row in your classroom? We started using it in my room back in February and it's amazing! Since I started teaching I've tried so hard to differentiate for all my students. Math Work Stations helped, and having 2 math groups sometimes helped by never seemed like it provided enough challenge or support for ALL my kiddos. I just couldn't figure out how to do more. Then I found Front Row. Finally my math time is differentiated for every single student!
Signing my class up for Front Row was simple and free. My students login easily and are quickly working on what each one of them needs. One of my kiddos is a math whiz! He's working on 4th grade level equations requiring order of operations! Another of my kiddos struggles with math and is working on late-Kinder/early first grade addition and subtraction. I could never give them that much work at their own level before!
The first thing students do on Front Row is take a placement test. After that they can work on whichever CCSS domain you want them to do. Front Row will even suggest which one you should have them work on. Here's what this looks like

For every question students have manipulatives available and can have the problem read to them (no more problems with students not being able to read the word problems!). 
There are 1-2 videos the student can watch to also help them with the problem. Front Row also suggests 1-3 students the child can go to who might be able to help too. They're students who have already passed similar questions. I love this feature! It's exciting to see my students not being afraid to ask for help. And I love that they're learning to teach and help each other. 

While my students work on Front Row, I'm able to pull aside individuals or small group and work with them on whatever skill they struggle with. Amazingly, Front Row will even suggest grouping for you and provides worksheet you can print to use in the small groups if you want to.
I find the analysis reports extremely helpful too. I can find out if a student completed a standard with no difficulty, moderate difficulty, or if they really had a hard time. 
I've used this for my own information in creating groups and for report cards.

Another thing I love about using Front Row is the reports I can look up that tell me how many questions a student answered and what their accuracy rate is. On Sundays I get an email that tells me which students improved the most in which domains and who still needs help. This post is starting to sound like a Front Row commercial isn't it? Sorry about that. I am just so excited to finally be able to differentiate the way I've always wanted to! 
After a while, I thought my students should be rewarded for their hard work and created some certificates for them. I give them out every Monday and the students who get them choose a reward coupon. So far the favorites have been to sit in the teacher's chair and 15 minutes of free time for the class. My desk chair is blue, has a comfy padded seat, and rolls. The first person to choose it was a boy who we'll call E. A few times during the day I'd look over and see E turning round and round in the chair. He wasn't distracting anyone and was still paying attention, so all I could do was smile. At the end of the day I walked my students out the front school, came back in the room, and found my chair right back behind my desk. I had forgotten to ask E to put it back. He just did that himself. What a sweetie!
If you'd like the certificates for your class, you can grab them in my TPT store. They're free and include my reward coupons.

 I'd love to hear from you about your favorite math websites! Any suggestions for ones I should check out?

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Sunday, May 3, 2015

Teacher Appreciation Sale & Giveaway

To all the teachers I've gotten to know through blogging, all those who follow my blog and stores, and all those whose blogs and stores I follow, I can't tell you how much I appreciate you! You inspire me and I am a much better teacher for making those connections.
This week I'm throwing 20% off sales in both my Teacher's Notebook and Teachers Pay Teachers stores.
Thank you to The Daring English Teacher for this wonderful button!

To further show my appreciation, I'm having a Teacher Appreciation Giveaway! You can win one product from my TPT store
It's super-simple: check out my store, pick the item you would like to win, and leave your email and the name of the product in a comment below.
The giveaway is open until 8pm Tuesday evening Pacific Time. I'll then choose a winner at random and email you your product of choice.
Good luck!

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