Thursday, December 10, 2015

There's A Giveaway Going On! (YOU Could Win!)

It's almost Christmas... What a great time to find about about a series of giveaways hosted by my friend, Zippy, at Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah Designs!

WOW! Look!

She is one of my favorite clip artists and her math materials are THE BEST! In fact, I have been using her base ten models for my math flip charts all week! If you go to her store and type in "base ten," you will see base ten blocks in every color imaginable! (Even purple!!!)

Every year, this sweet clip artist holds a series of giveaways. There are so many amazing prizes! Each day you can win new products from TpT sellers AND a gift card too!

Today is Day 10, and I have a feeling, this could be YOUR lucky day. Today's giveaway includes an Amazon gift card--PERFECT for all of your holiday shopping! (Have you ever noticed that you can buy almost anything from Amazon! (It's astonishing!!) I am giving away some products from my store (and a secret surprise!) Today's giveaway ends at midnight, so you should hurry over and enter!) You can also win some products from other TpT sellers AND some spending "money" at Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah Designs. What color base ten blocks do YOU want?

Click on over to the Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah Designs facebook page and enter! Click HERE to take you there!

Or use the rafflecopter link below...

a Rafflecopter giveaway Good luck and Happy Holiday wishes. I am hoping to see your name as the winner on today's list!

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Currently It's November!

Hello BlogFriends!

I love that Time Change phenomenon when an extra hour magically appears. I could use several of those... I have so much to do!

I like to leave the clocks "unchanged" when I go to sleep. Then I wake up early, work for an hour, and then set the clock back and work for another hour. It seems SO Back-to-the Future to live through the same hour twice. I know it's not really a sci-fi construct, but I like thinking there's some magic going on anyway!

So if it's the first of the month, it means two things: First, it's time to link up with DEAR Farley (I just love that girl!). And, second, it's time to make a new classroom seating chart. We "change chairs" each month. Friendships are sometimes fleeting in the lives of fifth graders. Meaning: The person who was your best buddy on the first day of the month is now, likely, on your list of least-favorite tablemates! (Then it takes me a whole week to remember the new seat assignments as I spend a lot of time looking for a child at the place he/she used to sit!)

I love fall colors... so the look of this month's currently makes my heart happy!

As I mentioned, we are still working on responsibility in my classroom. I like to find songs to reinforce the concept. If you are looking for a catchy tune to help your kiddos think about responsibility, try this one:

On to Turkey Talk! It's my turn to host Thanksgiving this year. That is actually not a good thing. I like the decorating part of the holidays, but I have no skill whatsoever in cooking. I think there will be eleven people coming to our house... which makes my heart rate soar! Last time we hosted Thanksgiving, the turkey was still partially frozen when it was time to put it in the oven. Maybe this year we will just start with pie!

I do enjoy making chestnut stuffing. You have to start with boiling the chestnuts, then shelling them, and then, then, then... The recipe has about forty-three steps! I think I like this one so much because it seems so New England-ish. Which seems like ust the right place to get a recipe for stuffing! I linked to a similar recipe from Martha Stewart below. I wonder if she'd be willing to come over and help a girl out...

Thanks to Nikki from Melonheadz for the sweet turkey graphic. (Don't you just love his little shoes?!)! Follow the link HERE to grab a turkey of your own!

Recently, our school District moved to a week away from school for Thanksgiving Break. What a treat! My family celebrates Thanksgiving on the Saturday-before, which leaves a whole week afterwards to fill with a mix of fun and catching-up on work. I haven't plotted out all of my days, but it sure would be nice to organize the assorted piles accumulating in my living room!

I will likely spend the rest of today re-organizing my guided reading groups. Our current structure isn't quite working for anyone. I am SO EXCITED that my principal has arranged for some extra support for our reading groups. With thirty-six kids, it's sometimes difficult to get things accomplished--especially if you are trying to do crowd control in the middle of small group instruction. Having an extra set of hands will really help, and I am excited for the opportunity to re-think this part of my day.

So that' what's currently happening in my little piece of the universe. I hope that you enjoyed some Halloween fun and that you have an enjoyable Sunday planned out.

Click on the button above to make you way back to Currently. To be honest, this "get-together" is always one of my favorite parts of blogging. I always make a new friend (or five) and Farley puts her whole heart into this cyber meet-up. Doesn't that make your heart happy too?

I am looking forward to chatting with you SOON!

Saturday, October 10, 2015

October Planner: Decorating + Planning = Fun!

I have owned an Erin Condren planner every year for the last four years. I am a serious Erin Condren fan. Yet, every year, my planner has remained... almost completely blank. I am so fearful of messing up my lovely planner, I draw grids and I create tables on Word and I write lists on paper--anything to avoid making a mistake on all that loveliness! I clip my plans onto the pages, so I look like a have a planner... alas, my scribbles are everywhere but in the boxes.

My favorite Erin Condren design is Party Pops. I have a matching "clutch" for my planner too! SO fun! Did you hear that? My heart just went pitter pat!

This year, I decided I would throw caution to the wind: I made a vow that I would actually write in my planner.

September came and went. I wrote a few comments very lightly in pencil. October MUST be the month, I scolded myself.

It's still slow-going. I still have an anxiety attack before every other word, and I still haven't ventured beyond pencil, but I have written in my planner. Wonders never cease!

This past summer I spent time trying to find washi tape that would match each of Erin Condren's monthly planner color schemes. I forgot about the "colors may vary" component of shopping online... and I was surprised to find out that there were countless shades of orange (not to mention green and pink!)... most of which would clash and not blend. Despite what Stacy and Clinton say on "What Not to Wear"... I still need my colors to MATCH!

Most people who know me will tell you that I am not the last bit crafty. Generally, my idea of decorating is lining up everything neatly in a row! At last, I was able to settle on some orange washi that I liked and I was actually looking forward to using my spider web tape! I'll admit, at one point, I had washi tape in my hair, and one of the pumpkins stickers stuck to the dining room table (where I am currently covering it with a placemat until I can figure out how to de-stick it)

Thankfully Mrs Harris has a link-up which forced me to reveal my planner pages before the month was up (Otherwise, knowing my tendency to procrastinate, I would still be carefully aligning orange washi tape--in February!) I am SO tickled to be invited to my first planner party! Well, okay, it's safe to say I invited MYSELF, but with pumpkins and spiders ready... Here goes!

Grab Button

I'm going to go with the "extra large" picture so that you can see a bit of the details... Here is the October spread before my scribbles were added.

And here are my planning pages for this week before I started writing. You will notice I have the same washi tape on my October page as I do on each of my planning pages. That's a neat little trick I learned from Stephanie at Third Grade Thoughts. Stephanie also has an Etsy shop with a range of planner stickers. You'll immediately fall in love by clicking HERE. I wanted those Week #__ stickers from the moment I saw them. Stephanie has those and LOTS of other items in her Etsy store! Did I mention that she coordinates them all with the Erin Condren colors? Oh Happy Day!

I got my "subject stickers" on Etsy too. I talked to Melissa at Oldfield Designs. She quickly pulled an order together--and made my stickers in the perfect shade of purple! I love how the non-varying components on my pages look the same... despite my variable handwriting. YAY!

Most of the stickers are from Beary Patch. I added a few from ek success (the bats, the candy corn and the Boo!)--they're three-dimensional and glittery! Here's a close-up of the October fun...

I have to admit: Looking at these fun pages every morning helps me start off the day with a smile. My goal is to fill in all of the boxes in the next two weeks. If I get them finished, I promise to come back and post them so there will be proof!

Wishing you a happy week... one where everything goes according to plans!

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Assess Me (A Fun-and-Easy Get to Know You Link-Up)

Sweet Rachel at The Tattooed Teacher is hostessing a "Self Assessment Linky." It sounds scary, but it isn't (I promise!) I wish all assessments were this fun!

It's really easy to participate... Especially since the answers are yes or no... and you can can just check the box! (You don't even need to think about text evidence!) Here you go!

My answers are all easy to follow, but the last one is interesting (at least to me!). I was born in Minnesota, but we moved when I was two, and I have never been there since. I've visited a number of different states, but not Minnesota! Someday I will have to go and explore!

If you've ever read my blog, you know that my technological skills are in the negative range, and I was able to copy, download, babble and upload this in less than ten minutes. (And I know the graphic slops over the side a bit, but I am just singing that Frozen song...)

WooHoo! I'm counting this as a  blogging success!

Now that you see how easy this is, why don't you link up too? Show Rachel some love and add your button to the link up. :)

Hope you are enjoying this day!

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Matching Tablecloths and Tags to Organize Activities: A Bright Idea!

WOW! It's been so long since I posted something, I almost forgot how to BLOG! There are some big changes happening here soon. No... I'm not switching to WordPress. Perhaps I should, but Blogger is more my speed, at least for now. So, before August, you will see a new look--with, of course, lots of purple!

Today I am sharing a Bright Idea that I use with our end-of-the year activities. After thinking about it, and a comment from a colleague, it occurred to me that this is an idea that can be used at any time of the year. If you have groups of kids who need to make choices about activities, this is an easy organizational tip!

For this tip, you need several different colors of vinyl tablecloths--one for each game or activity. I get mine at Party City, but I've also seen them at Target and WalMart. You could also use colored butcher paper. You just need a different color for each activity you are planning.

You also need some name tags that allow for "inserts." Instead of name tags, you will insert colored paper to match the tablecloths. I've used the hanging kind (on strings), but you could also use the clip kind... as long as your kids can remove them independently.

Put a colored tablecloth on each table or "station." Decide on the maximum number of students you want to participate, and put that many tags at the station. In this case, we had three checker boards on the "red table," so we put out six "red tags" for six kids.

We used this system at our Game Day, one of the events planned for the fifth and sixth graders who were moving on to middle school. We had sixty kids in the auditorium and twelve different stations. Ten were at tables and two were on the stage--Legos and Jenga. And each station had a different colored tablecloth and matching set of tags.

As the students came into the auditorium, I assigned them to one of the four corners of the room. I told them I would look for the quietest group to determine which group would choose an activity first. This was a great motivator for good behavior! Students could sit at any of the twelve stations, as long as there was still a tag available.

I was surprised to see that the "chess table" was filled on each rotation.  See how the tablecloth matches the tags? 

The students were reminded to be welcoming to everyone who joined their table.  We had kids blended together from different rooms, including some students who were deaf. It was heart-warming to see how they made things work. We had interpreters to sign, but many groups just figured out how to communicate in the context of the game.

The students played for twenty minutes and then I rang the chimes. This signaled that they needed to clean up the area, and restore the game to be ready for the next group. Tags were removed and placed back on the tables and the kids returned to their waiting places... knowing that they would be able to choose another game as soon as they were quiet.

Here's the "green table" ready for a new group. One group had already played and they had organized it for the next set of kids to play.
(Don't even get me started on how unhappy I am that I took this picture with the word, "Monopoly," upside down. I tried rotating it, but then it looked like it was flying, so I had to go with "not upside right."  Sorry!)

There was a variety of different activities so that everyone could find something they enjoyed. We had puzzles and Legos and CandyLand and chess. We had partner games, team games, whole group games and games you could play independently--in a group. Some kids chose the same activity two rounds in a row, but most chose different games at each rotation.

The Mancala players were sitting at the "blue table." There were five kids in this rotation.The kids figured out (on their own!) that the waiting player would simply rotate in each time a game was completed! I didn't think of this, they did!

One of my favorite games is Blokus. It's a little like an off-skew Tetris morphed into a board game... with multiple players. Fun! These students were playing at the "silver table." Many kids found a game they had never played before. And some of the teachers and parent volunteers found games they wanted to buy to play at home!

I have accumulated a lot of games over the years. Some years, I have also had kids (and colleagues) bring games from home to provide variety. I was amazed at how the kids cleaned up their tables so perfectly. Every table stayed intact--except the table where the kids (and sometimes the teacher) were playing Spoons. That tablecloth looked a little tattered when we--I mean they--were finished.

Silly me, I forgot to get a picture of a child WEARING a tag. You can almost see the tag on this student. But I promise, it's light blue to match the light blue tablecloth.

Management was so easy: Wait quietly so that your group can be selected to choose a game. Sit only at a table where there are still tags available. Be kind and welcoming to all players. Stay at the table until the rotation is complete. Clean up when the rotation is over. EASY! As I mentioned, we had sixty kids playing for two hours--and there were NO behavior issues. The room was controlled and cheerful, and I went home without a headache! 

I think this tag-and tablecloth strategy could be used for any collection of activities where students have a choice of activities across a few (or more) rotations. Art projects? Social studies activities? Science stations? STEM tasks? So many possibilities!

Speaking of possibilities, each of the bloggers listed below is sharing a Bright Idea. Just browse through the link-up and find a topic or a grade range that interests you. It's like a bloggy buffet! I'll be perusing the links too--I'll wave if I see you!

Thanks for visiting!

Saturday, May 23, 2015

So Cal End of the Year Link Up

Hi! So happy to chat with you again! Some bloggers from Southern California have come together to bring you some freebies and some end-of-the-year fun.

Easy Teaching Tools has organized a sweet summer link up... and you're invited too! And there are freebies involved! Keep reading to learn about all of the goodness involved...

I'm so lucky to live in a place where it is sunny and warm almost all year round. In fact, if I were to do some mental math, I would estimate that we have "wonderful weather" almost 300 days out of 365. I'll admit: I used a calculator to determine that this fraction amounts to more than 80% of the year filled with sunshine! (My freebie is a mathematical one, so I'm steering you in that direction!)

While I do not live at the beach, I do live in an area where palm trees are plentiful. I love to take walks in the early morning and enjoy this sight every time I open my door.  

Of course, it's just a quick twenty minute drive to the shore, and I like to take walks there too!

Speaking of percentages (Did you like that little segue?), I added a little end-of-the-year freebie to this post. It's nothing fancy, just a beach-themed fractions/decimals/percent match-up. I used it last week when we were preparing for testing. It's also an easy-to-prepare card game (print and cut!) if you are still teaching and want something "low key" to keep students math skills warmed up. (Another weather pun?!)

Kids can play Concentration, War, or Go Fish. We also like to play Beat the Clock to match the sets of four before the timer runs out. It's a great game for "Silent Partnerships" where coaches "help" without talking. Got to love a silent game, right? Or you can save the game for practice on a rainy day (Around here, we are WISHING for a rainy day!) or use it in September when the sunshine is still plentiful!

All of the bloggers listed in the link-up are offering a freebie and a window into their end-of-the-year and summer happenings. Just follow the Inlinkz buttons below.

And that's not all! You can win a $100 gift certificate toward a pair of Tieks! What a perfect summer shoe to pair with your favorite fun-in-the-sun outfit. Just make a few clicks to enter through the Rafflecopter at the end of the post! This giveaway will be running from May 23rd to May 26th, so enter fast before time runs out!

In my district, we still have three and a half more weeks of school. Yep. Three and a half weeks. That's almost four weeks, which is almost a month, which is... well, I'll just enjoy the early summer weather and appreciate all that is lovely in the world. After all, we have testing and promotion practice and Open House and Family Friday to fit in before our days run out.

If you are already on vacation, I am wishing you peaceful days of relaxation. If you, like me, are still in school, I am sending you wishes of patience and a hope for the chance to enjoy the little moments that make the end of the year fun!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, May 4, 2015

What Works! A Teacher Appreciation Linky and Giveaway!

Whether your school fills the week with non-stop fun, or your biggest gift is a child's smile, you can always count on your friends in BlogLand to bring join in the celebration. The bloggers at Inspired Owl Corner and Pawsitively Teaching have put together TWO amazing giveaway packages that will warm your heart during this special week. Nothing like a chance to win a whole bunch of fabulousness to start the week off right!

On top of that, a group of bloggers have put their heads together to share some teaching secrets. (To be honest, my ideas are neither secret nor particularly spectacular, but I'm always excited to participate in any event that celebrates teachers!)
Strategy #1: Stay connected. Even though I work at a very small school, I know the importance of staying connected. I could easily work through every recess lunch, and after-school afternoon (and still not be caught up!). But that would be counterproductive. I am blessed to have some truly wonderful teacherfriends who I know I can count on. Whether it is to explain a math standard, lend me some copies, problem solve my technology problems, or just to listen, I am surrounded by some truly wonderful women. We manage to find time to check in with each other almost daily.

Second, I make it a habit to celebrate everything. It is easy to become discouraged if your goals have to be "meet standards," "be proficient," "read at grade level," etc. In many classrooms, there are a few (or more!) kids who may not meet those goals during your year together. I tell my students that we celebrate moving "forward." I try to recognize kindness and good character whenever possible.

But I also try to recognize those "moments" that matter in a different way. Whether it is having a pencil two days in a row, finishing a book, remembering 8 x 7 = 56, or using a "lovely language" or the word of the week in written or spoken language. I keep a supply of "sweet notes" on hand... but just as often it is a quickly written note that highlights a personal goal. In many ways, the encouragement buoys my spirits as much as the students'!

I have some good organizational skills in some areas... and then there are areas that could be considered a deficit. One of the biggest challenges for me as a teacher is staying one step ahead of the never-ending piles of papers.

Here's our work basket. As you can see, there is room for one more set of papers before it will be overflowing. So I had to  make a rule: No double basketing! I can't re-box, re-pile or re-hide the papers. I need to check them in--or do whatever is required. I pretend there is a silent alarm that only I can hear... telling me to do something with the papers--since we all know more will be added to the basket soon!

Nothing stellar. Nothing surprising. Just three things I've tried to work on this year. What are YOUR secrets? You can whisper them... I'm listening!

There is some more great news just waiting to be shared!

There's a GIANT giveaway going on!

You have a chance to win LOTS of great stuff! And the more times you enter (by doing different tasks through Rafflecopter), the greater your chance of winning. And these prize packages are worth almost $500... each!

Here are the details of Package #1...

Just take a look at everything you could win...
One lucky reader will win this entire prize package!!!

Prize Bundle #1 Includes

PLUS....a Gift Box of Fabulous Teacher Supplies valued 
at $140 sent to you from Amazon!

And, as I mentioned... There are TWO prize packages!

We aren't finished yet....take a look at everything a second lucky winner will win!!!

Prize Bundle #2 Includes

PLUS....a Gift Box of Fabulous Teacher Supplies valued 
at $140 sent to you from Amazon!

Be sure to enter both Rafflecopters for a better chance at winning one of these amazing prize bundles!

Enter to Win Prize Bundle #1 Here

Enter to Win Prize Bundle #2 Here

You won't want to miss out on all the other great secrets being shared by successful teachers!  Be sure to check out all the other great posts below.

Sending you good wishes and lots and LOTS of appreciation...