Monday, December 31, 2012

January Currently

Linking up with Farley's Currently - I LOVE these - probably just because I am snoopy curious about other people's lives.
Listening: It is completely silent in my house (a rare occassion with 6 boys) because hubby took the boys to the hospital to visit his friend's new baby. He wanted to give me some "down time"! Love him!

Loving: Hubby got me a treadmill for Christmas.  Although it was my present, it really is a family present as both hubby and I and all of the boys have been using it faithfully since Christmas.  My 12 year old is putting in a good 3 miles a day while mom (who is seriously out of shape) is happy to get a mile walk in.  Hopefully my time and distance improves, and maybe ski season won't kill me quite as bad this year.  Our first ski trip of the season is scheduled two weekends from now - I can't wait!

Thinking: That vacation is never long enough to do all of the things I want to get done!  I don't have to be back until January 7th, but it still feels like it has flown by and my to do list has barely gotten any smaller.

Wanting: My book order from Amazon to arrrive. I ordered a ton of frog books because we are getting a class pet - a frog of course!  I'm hoping to integrate our new friend with the research unit we will be starting when we go back to school.  I will be posting the unit to TPT but, truthfully, I have barely made any headway yet. Hoping it will be ready for next week - Fingers crossed!

Needing: To go into my classroom without kiddos to get everything back in the order it was in August.  I feel like I can't find anything when I am looking for it and I hate that feeling.

OLW: Focus. I swear - I have ADD sometimes!  I start one project and then get an idea for another.  This year I really want to work on focusing on one thing at a time.  No more multi-tasking.

Hurry on over and link up with Farley. I can't wait to snoop!

My Holiday Break Writing Prompt and Freebie

I don't know about you, but I am spending my "vacation" planning for the next few weeks. Ah,,, the glorious life of a teacher! LOL! I know you are all planning too, so I figured I would share this great little find from Fun in K/1.

I have a few kiddos in my class who are still having a difficult time mastering writing the elusive paragraph.  This graphic organizer will be perfect for a small group lesson for that group. I know that they will be excited to tell me all about their vacation when we get back, so they should have plenty of inspiration to write about!

I am going to have them fill out the graphic organizer.  I will then give them an opening topic sentence to help scaffold the process.  Maybe something thrillling like, "You won't believe the incredible holiday break I had!" We will then turn the phrases in the graphic organizers into supporting detail sentences. Hopefully they can restate the topic sentence in their own words to close it out.  I will keep you posted with how it goes when we get back to school.

What fun lesson ideas have you been inspired by from other blogs? Do you have any inspiration to share? Leave the link and I will stop by and check it out!

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Stick Pick - An app that lets you differentiate as you call on students

I just discovered an amazing app for my iphone/ipad that I can't wait to use with my students when we get back from vacation.  It is called stick pick. When I first saw the app I thought it was a glorified stick container - you know the ones that you use to make sure you are fairly calling on your students.  It was cute, but I wasn't sure I wanted to spend my money on it. 

But... then I looked a whole lot closer and realized that it was way worth the $2.99! Not only does the app let you pick students randomly (or intentionally - see the little peek icon?), but you can set each student up with an appropriate level of questioning - instant differentiation. Questions can be based on Bloom’s Taxonomy, English as a second language skills, and a degree of difficulty can be chosen for each learner.

When you pick the student, a list of questions  is shown that are tied to the learner's individual ability level.  You can change the level at any time.

I also love that you can use it as a record of assessment.  When you click on the student's stick you can also record their answer using this rubric.
This is perfect for me because our school is focusing on Marzano scales, so it shows my principal during my evaluations what I am doing to measure student learning.

The app also keeps track of a student's progress overtime.

I can't wait to use this with my students!
Do you have any ideas for using it? Have you used this app before?

Friday, December 28, 2012

2013 Resolution Solution Linky Party

I decided to link up with the 2013 Resolution Solution Linky Party from Teaching Madness!

Teaching Maddeness

The ideas is that you will be held accountable by your readers for keeping your resolutions when you post them to your blog.  Let's see if this works! So, with no further ado, here are my 2012 resolutions

For School

Neat and Tidy. I love the way my room looks so neat and tidy when I walk in first thing in the morning (thanks to an awesome janitorial staff) but within 3.7 seconds of my students walking in it seems as if a tornado has blown through - despite the fact that we are no where near tornado alley!  So, I would like to work on keeping our room cleaner. This means helping my kiddos to stay organized and not using my desk as a dumping grounds throughout the day.

I also got permission from my principal to get rid of some of the old outdated materials that were left by past teachers - YEAH!

Working Smarter Not Harder- Now that I have gotten my groove with a new grade I am going to work on bulk planning - math for a few weeks at a time, then language arts for a few weeks.  I think it will make my planning better as I look down the road at where my students will need to be.


Weight Loss - I know we probably all have this as a goal - but after 6 kiddos I definitely need it!  Hubby bought me a treadmill for Christmas, so my goal is to start each day with a 20 minute session each morning.

More Family Time - With 6 kids it is difficult to give each kid individual time, but I want to schedule time for each of them as well as with my hubby.


Regular Posts - I would like to commit to at least 2-3 times a week.  I love the reflection time it gives me to think about the things we did, what the students learned, what I would change, etc.

Commenting More - I tend to be a blog lurker, reading and stalking but not really leaving any comments. I know that I feel appreciated when someone comments on my post, so I really need to remember to share the love.  I read posts and think "I love that!" but I need to remember to tell the blogger that!

Relationship Building - This really goes hand in hand with my other two goals.  I started blogging to help build my PLC and I really need to focus on that.  I know I have become a much better teacher from the blogs that I read and the TPT products I have bought, I also need to learn from other teachers through idea sharing as well.

What goals do you have for 2013?

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Birthdays, Sales, and Giveaways!

Twelve years ago today I got my best Christmas present ever!  My fourth child, Tyler was born!  When they released him from the hospital they sent him home in a giant stocking, so we have always called him our Christmas present. I cannot believe how fast the time goes!  We will be braving the weather to go over the mountain from Nevada to California to eat at his favorite restaurant Dave and Busters today.

I also decided to have a sale at my Teachers Pay Teachers store and my Teacher's Notebook store in honor of my little Christmas baby!  So, for today and tomorrow you can get 20% off on all of my products. You can click on the links above or my store icons on the right side of the blog.

Speaking of the right side of my blog, I just noticed I past 150 subscribers!  That means it is time for a giveaway!  Be on the lookout next week for a giveaway!  If you have a TPT store and a blog and would like to participate in the giveaway please send me an email at

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

A RACK {Random Acts of Christmas Kindness} linky party!

I am definitely one of those people who believes it is better to give than to receive!  My favorite part of Christmas is finding the perfect gift and seeing the joy in the receiver's eyes!  That is why I was excited to link up with this linky party from First Grade in Foxwell Forest

The rules are simple:

You choose 2 blogs that you follow {one newer blog that you recently began following and one blog that you have been following since you first began} and highlight them on your blog by explaining why you think they are such a gift! Then you give them a RACK by offering them one item as a gift from your TPT store!

Here are the 2 blogs I am passing my RACK on to:

One of the newest blogs that I have begun to follow is If You Give A Teacher A Treat. I found her adorable blog from another blog I have been following and I have only just begun to look through her posts - lots of fun word work and Daily 5 activities to try!

The blog that I have been following FOREVER is Ladybug Teacher Files.  Her CRAFT board has been amazing! I always have other teachers asking me where I got them and I always direct them her way.  Recently our instructional coach asked me again where to find them because she was giving a class on using Daily 5 with the upper grades and she loved what I was doing in my classroom.  I told her the credit goes to Ladybug Teacher Files!

Now it's your turn! Link up and join in the giving!

Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 24, 2012

2012 Bloggy Best and Brightest Linky

I am happy to link up with Christina at Bunting, Books, and Bainbridge for her 2012's blog best and brightest linky. What a fun way to look back at the year!   It is a great way to brag about your own blog favorites while giving a shout out to some of your favorite bloggy friends!   
One of the best things that happened this year is that I was offered a position in the school district where I lived.  I was previously teaching in another district and had about a 30 minute commute each way.  My youngest son goes to the school I am at now and my next two youngest are at the school right next door - talk about convenience!

I have also been blessed with a little bit of extra income from my blog and TPT which has helped us cover all of the expenses associated with my son Tyler's traveling baseball team (He says, "THANK YOU TEACHERS PAY TEACHERS!").  It also helps me fund items for my class which makes my hubby very happy!

One of my favorite posts this year was a Peek Into My Classroom - I love seeing my room so neat and tidy pre-kiddos! LOL!  I previously taught 7th grade so I wasn't able to go as cutsey as I did now - LOVING elementary!

My most popular post was the Whole Brain Teaching 3 Star Homework Model. This year has been my first using Whole Brain Teaching and I must say that I am hooked!

The Best Freebie I shared was my If I Was In a Snowglobe writing activity. I could not believe the quality of my students' writing with it!

The BEST product I created this year was My Lucky Day teaching packet - my class had a blast with it. I haven't blogged about it yet, but maybe will get the chance during break!

My MOST POPULAR product is my capitalization packet.  I definitely have to give credit to being involved in the Great Product Swap hosted by Jessica Stanford  for that.  My partner, Brooke from Third Grade Troops went above and beyond and created a PowerPoint to go with it. How awesome is that?  That is definitely my favorite thing about the bloggy world - the amazing giving spirit of all of those involved. You all rock! I wish I could teach with all of you- but having blogs makes it seem like the most amazing PLC ever!!!!

So that leads to my last brag of the year - my fave bloggers this year! (No... I don't have room to list you all!!!) Of course I've already listed Jessica and Brooke, but I would also like to send a shout out to Farley for offering blogging inspiration for even the worst case of blogger's block with her monthly Currently (plus I love learning more about my bloggy friends). I also love Tania from Mrs Poultney's Ponderings who is one of my most frequent commenters - she makes me feel loved - at least I know one person reads what I have to say! LOL!

Merry Christmas From My Family To Yours!

Thank you for reading my blog and following along with my classroom adventures!  I hope you have a very Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Rock, Paper, Math

I have a group of wiggly third graders this year - my class is mostly boys with a few girls.  My principal has suggested using some brain breaks.  I would love to implement a few brain breaks that also involve some content review.  That is why I love this video with a version of rock, paper, scizzors that reviews multiplication facts (if you teach younger students I'm sure you could substitute with addition or subtraction instead).

This comes from a book entitled Energizing Brain Breaks.  You can find a few more free videos at the website here.

What brain breaks do you use?

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Fun Faux Stained Glass Picture

We made these fun faux stained glass pictures of candles today and they came out super cute!

We started with these supplies:

We first put glue on the black lines and then covered them with yarn.  We found it easier to do it piece by piece, measuring the yarn first, cutting it to size, then gluing it down.

When it was completed, we wrapped it in tinfoil with the picture side upside down.

Then we pushed down to make the yarn impression show on the foil.

Then the kids used sharpies to color the insides.  We found that using the sides of the markers kept the foil from ripping.

And another final project done:

Friday, December 14, 2012

If I Was In A Snowglobe Writing Activity - FREEBIE

If you happen to have school next week like we do, you might be looking for some fun Christmas type activities to keep them engaged - and learning.  My kiddos had a great time writing about their time in a snow globe as an imaginative narrative.  It was seriously one of the best pieces they have written all year.  I was quite impressed!

I have posted the graphic organizer and final paper as a FREEBIE on Teachers Pay Teachers if you would like to try it out.

I had the kids make their own snow globes using pictures we took, a paper plate, and a Ziploc bag.  Here is one of our final projects:

Freebie Fridays

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Christmas Light Decorations Craft

I had seen this idea on Pinterest awhile back and then got the Mailbox flyer that had this printable pattern in it, so I decided we had to make them.
Here is one of ours:
I must be honest - my room is now covered with glitter - but I think the kiddos loved adding their personal touches to our holiday decor. 

Friday, December 7, 2012

Christmas Multiplication Drop Friday Freebie

I am always on the hunt for ways for my third graders to practice their multiplication facts!  This was something I came up with that is a twist on an idea I have seen multiple places before.

You have your students drop two Christmas mints onto the gameboard.  They say the math fact that corresponds.  For example, in this picture the mints landed on 6 and 3, so the student would say  6 X 3 = 18.

I have two game boards to allow differentiation.  One board goes up to 10 and the other only goes up to 6.  I didn't write multiplication on it, so it can be easily adapted for younger students as an addition game.  We played the game with our first grade book buddies and they loved it!

We played this game in class, but it would also be a fun activity to send home in a Christmas break packet to play at home.

Here is the link to this fun freebie.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Problem of The Day

Every day I put a problem of the day on the board for my kiddos to solve.  I usually use real world problems and examples using either the students or my family.  My fifth grader noticed that I did this the other day, and asked why?  I told him that my students are always curious about my family, so they enjoy these little problems. 

Today I had collaboration in the morning and my kids usually hang out in my classroom before school.  When I came back in, I noticed this on the board.  My fifth grader had written a problem of the day for the students!  While it was a little too challenging for my third graders - I thought it was a great way to stretch my 5th grader.  I think I might have him come up with problems more often!

It also made me think that it might be fun to ask some of my students to come up with problems as well.

Do you incorporate problem solving into your daily lesson? What things do you do?

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Using Flash Cards With Struggling Readers

I have two girls in my class this year that began the year reading just below a first grade level.  They struggled with phonics and didn't seem to know many sounds, but they both have exceptional memories.  So, I decided to try to work on developing their sight word capabilities by using flash cards. This has worked extremely well and they are both close to reading at a second grade level right now!

Each day we practice sight words using flash cards and the method outlined below.  Recently, we have begun doing word hunts for books they are independently reading as well as for texts we are going to work on as a class.  The girls go through the text, and find words they do not know and write them on index cards.  I then rotate them through with the sight words they are working on.

You can see here that we were working on reading a Scholastic news article about reindeers that live in tundra areas. (the pink is simply covering the student's name). I think it gives the student ownership to write their own words (although I have had to fix spelling from time to time).

I put the flashcards in order this way:

Known word
Known word
Unknown word
Known word
Unknown word
Known word
Unkown word
Known word

This helps the students to feel successful on the majority of the cards.  I based the amount of new words on research that found that third graders can retain 3 to 4 new pieces of information at a time.

As we go through the pile of cards, I put tally marks on each card that the student says correctly.  Once a card has 5 tally marks, they become a known word.  When the card has 10 tally marks, the student gets to take the card home because they "own" it!  They love taking cards home and they even continue to practice at home.

This has worked so well, that I have started using them to practice math facts for some of my other students who are struggling with that as well.

Do you use flash cards?  If so, how?

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Currently - December (Plus Freebie For Followers!)

I love Farley's Currently posts and I try to participate whenever I can remember to get it done - or when I have a few extra minutes.  I thought it was interesting that she had a RAK (Random Act of Kindness) because of something that happened on Friday.  I have a girl in my class who has a very difficult home situation.  She came into the class bawling on Friday morning.  The other girls in my class told me that she was crying because she was wearing boys shoes.  Supposedly her younger brother had thrown her shoes up on the roof, so she was wearing his shoes which were 2 sizes too small. 

I called my hubby and he was gracious enough to bring down some socks and a new pair of shoes - girls shoes.  I never would have thought of doing this in the past, but something made me just do it.  Have you ever done something above and beyond for a student?

Special Bonus Random Act of Kindness for My Followers

I really appreciate all of my followers who stop by and see what I have to say!  As a special random act of kindness, I am giving away one free item of your choice from my TPT store!  Simply leave a comment below telling me that you follow my blog, along with your email address and your choice, and I wil email you the item!

Thank you so much for following!

My TPT Store

Friday, November 30, 2012

Word Of The Day - Friday Freebie

Many of the students in my class this year are struggling with vocabulary.  It is really interfering with their reading comprehension, so I have been trying to come up with as many ways as I can to add any extra vocabulary instruction that I can.  Enter the word of the day!

I was actually inspired by a few of the Rotary members who visited our classroom to give dictionaries to each of the students.

They handed out the dictionaries and told the students that whenever they looked up a word, they should underline it.  Years later they could look back and see all of the words they learned in third grade.  I really liked the idea, and have over the past few weeks, have developed it further.

I started by putting a new vocabulary word on the board each day as our word of the day.  I write the word in black and do not put the definition at first.  I have the students look up the word in their dictionary when they come in during the morning.  The students come up to me and show me the word underlined in their dictionary and tell me the meaning.  I give them a sticker for our sticker economy.

During our morning meeting, we put the definition under the word of the day in red.  Throughout the day when we have transitions, I say either the word of the day or the definition, and they respond with the opposite. 

I have really noticed a difference as they begin using the words in their writing and conversations.  They also get really excited when they see our words in the books they are reading.

Today I thought up an additional enhancement.  I am having the students complete this graphic organizer that lists the word, the dictionary definition, and a place for them to write the meaning in their own words.  I am hoping that it will strengthen the lesson even more.

Freebie Fridays

You can find the template for the word of the day here.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

My Shopping List for The Big Sale on Teachers Pay Teachers

                              Special thanks to The School Supply Addict for this adorable button!

Unless you have been under a rock, you no doubt have heard about the big sales over at TPT and TN this Monday and Tuesday!  I can tell you that as a shopper I am super excited - I have 58 items in my wish list as we speak (I may be in need of help - lol!).  There must be a support group for those of us addicted to Teachers Pay Teachers!  Hello, My name is Kelly and I am addicted to cute lesson plans! LOL!

Anyhow, I thought I might share a few of the goodies that are at the top of my list. 

The first on my list is this Interactive Math Journal packet from Jen at Runde's Room. I LOVE her math journal Sunday posts and I can't wait to get started on this in my classroom.  I plan on buying it during the sale and then implementing it when we get back from Christmas Break.  That will give me time to really explore the concept and get my mind wrapped around it.

Next up is the Reading Response Journals Made Easy packet from Christina at Bunting, Books, and Bainbridge. (Are we noticing a theme here? I really want my kiddos journaling and writing!).

And in between all that writing and journaling - we are going to be in need of some brain breaks (have I mentioned that my class is mostly boys?)!  So, another item that will be hitting my cart is Brain Breaks for the classroom from Stephanie at  Third Grade Thoughts.

Do you own any of these items?  Your thoughts? 

Any other items I should add to my list?
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