Sunday, December 28, 2014

*Giveaway* Enter to Win a $25 Starbucks Gift Card

One more week until many of us go back to school, but I have a way to help you get through those first weeks back!  I am giving away a $25 Starbucks gift card to help you ease your way back into school after Winter Break.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, December 26, 2014

Funds For Ferguson

Many of you have heard about the unrest in Ferguson, but did you know that the public library stayed open during the turmoil to provide a safe place for children to go when their schools were closed?  They would like to continue that place of normalcy for the children of Ferguson by hiring a full-time children's librarian.  They are also expanding programs for the community as a whole.  In order to accomplish these goals, they are fundraising.

One thing that I love about the Teachers Pay Teachers Community is the sense of giving and support that is abundant everywhere!  That is why I was not surprised when a teacher from a nearby community and TpT seller, Rainah Pray from Fit for Firsties, put together a fundraising effort for this cause. That is also why I was happy to donate! You can read more about the fundraiser here. 

You can purchase any of the bundles here, and your purchase price will all be donated to the Ferguson Library.  The fundraiser goes until Jan. 31, 2015.

Funds for Ferguson Library Fundraiser Bundle 2 Valued at $58.84

I donated a product to Bundle 2 which you can find here.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Turning Reluctant Writers Into Inspired Writers

Our school district recently adopted a new writing curriculum, Lucy Calkins Units of Study.  While this is the first year of our district implementation, it is my 2nd year because I had purchased the units for 4th grade last year myself after hearing rave reviews from my Twitter PLC folks.

The workshop method has dramatically changed the way I approach writing instruction, and I have seen a tremendous change in my students as writers since starting using the program. 

The most exciting part for me has been seeing dramatic changes in my struggling writers.  You know, the ones who could spend 30 minutes writing and have only  sentence or two on the paper.

There are many reasons why students don't like to write including: learning disabilities, boredom, lack of the necessary sub skills of writing, poor muscle control, and/or lack of interest in the writing prompt.  No matter what the underlying reason, students who struggle as writers generally dislike the practice of writing, but it is the practice that they desperately need to become better writers. 

I have found the conferencing with students aspect of Writer's Workshop to be the best place to encourage all of my writers.  Recently, I have seen a great change in two of my most reluctant writers because of comics.  Yes comics!  No, comics are not included in the Units of Study, but as a teacher, I felt that it was the direction I needed to turn to in order to help these two particular students.

 During the research stage of my conferences I noticed that these two students did not have a lot of writing in their writer's notebooks, but they did have an overabundance of these little doodles.

So, I googled comic strip paper and found these.

I printed them out and made a ton of copies.  I introduced them to the class as a whole and let them know that they would be an option during writing workshop if they chose to use them.  Then, I put them at the writing center and waited.  Sure enough, the two boys that I had in mind gravitated right to them!

At my next writing conference with one of them he was excited to show me his work.  The previous conference included tons of hemming and hawing and excuses about a missing writer's notebook, but this time he raced to my table.

You can already see an amazing change in the detail he has included in his work compared to what he had drawn in his writer's notebook!  It was almost as if he felt validated because of the comic paper!

I let him continue writing like this for a little bit, and then I said to him at a conference. "I have figured out what kind of writer you are!"  I grabbed a copy of Diary of a Wimpy Kid and told him that I thought he was a writer just like Jeff Kinney.  He was the type of writer who used BOTH words and comics to tell a story!  Lucy Calkins DOES advise using mentor texts during instruction.

 Then I pulled out a Big Nate book.  I again told him that he was a writer like Lincoln Peirce.

He got so excited and raced over to his book box and grabbed out this book.  He said, "That's what I was thinking too!"

Here is his latest piece:

I had him share this piece with the class during our sharing time of Reader's Workshop one day.  His smile was ear to ear as the students showered him with compliments:

"I love how he told the story bit by bit."

" I love how he used dialogue."

" I love how he used precise language to tell us how the zombie said it, he said it hungrily."

At recess he came up to me out of nowhere, gave me a big hug and ran off to play!

The best part of his new found love of writing is that has also transferred to his reading!  He was reading below grade level in August and is now reading two grade levels ahead!  He is a voracious reader who has to be told to put his book down now when we change activities!

And the other boy?  A few days after starting to use the comic strips he flashed this note at me during math practice (we use white boards to show our answers).

Although I did what any other teacher would do and asked him to please solve the problem I had just given, I also snapped a picture with my iphone so we could discuss it at his writing conference.

I told him, "If you have Minecraft Fever, then you must write about it!"

And he did!

Friday, December 19, 2014

Five For Friday December 19, 2014

There is something about that last Friday before Christmas Vacation!  A little crazy and a little relaxing all at once!  Now that I am officially on Christmas Break, it is time for a little Five for Friday!

Every year my hubby dresses up as Santa.  This year he made a special appearance at our movie night.

And a close-up with our three youngest boys.

We started the week a little crazy as we broke out the glitter to make our annual Christmas Card.  It has become one of my favorite traditions, but the glitter mess - ugh!  There was glitter EVERYWHERE this year. 

 After the glitter dried, we took a few (hundred) shots to capture our holiday image.  It takes many, many takes to get 20 something kids looking acceptable.  Here are a few of our outtakes.

And our final Christmas Card.

We also made Christmas Cards to trade with another third grade class.

We had a ton of fun learning about windmills this week.  We worked with a 4th grade class and learned a lot not only about engineering, but also about teamwork and collaboration.  I will be posting more about this later, but here is a sneak peek.

Finally, I have a little favor to ask of you...  Our school guidance counselor has written 2 children's books about a crazy space cat and his reluctant owner, Bob. They are really fun books that my class loves to read.  Unfortunately, Ryan's son, Brody was diagnosed with Juvenile Diabetes last year when he was in Kindergarten.  Right now until December 31st, the kindle versions of both books are only 99 cents and he is donating all of the profits to help the NV Diabetes Association. 

I would really appreciate it if you would consider adding these books to your Kindle library!

Here is a note from Ryan - 

"My son Brody was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes last February, and to support him and NV Diabetes Association, both my “The Adventures of Bob” kindles are 99cents until December 31st. All my profits are going to NV Diabetes Association to help support their family activities and family camps. Any soft cover sales will also be donated.

Appreciate your help :)"
Ryan Shea
FES Counselor


If you purchase either of the books and send me a screenshot of your order (you can black out the order number like below) I will send you any item of your choice from my TpT store for FREE!  You can email me at

Link to Ryan Shea's Amazon page to purchase the books.

Thank you!  Have a great weekend and enjoy your much deserved vacation!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

'Tis the Season for Giveaways

'Tis the Season for Giveaways!  Or at least so it seems for me.. I am participating in a ton of them these last few weeks! Here are just a few I am in right now.  Be sure to head over and enter each one, there are a ton of great prizes to be won!


Michelle Dupuis is having a big Birthday Blowout with several prize package bundles and a $10 Teachers Pay Teachers Gift Card!  You can enter until December 17th.

Elementary Music Teacher has teamed up with a ton of teachers to bring you this giveaway with over $460 in total prizes to be won!  You can enter until December 17th.

Several of my blogging friends and I have gotten together to give you a little Christmas gift! Enter to win a $65 Amazon Gift Card!  You can enter until December 19th.

I just recently participated in a giveaway on Instagram with twenty blogging friends and it was amazing!  If you are not following me on Instagram make sure you are to hear about our next upcoming events!  My user name is @applefortheteach.

Good luck!

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