Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Getting Organized for Next Year!

Starting the year last year after the year had already started (follow that?) left me feeling like I was never caught up with organization this past school year.

So, one of my summer goals was to get on top of things... especially for language arts.

I've been working for the last few days to make the spelling and high-frequency activities I'll need for my Word Work station and I am finally done!

I got the last paper filed into a folder and had to come on and show off what I've done!

Endless printing and laminating...


And then, to cut and put everything into files.


I made a file folder for each week of my reading series and put a label on each one with the unit and week, story title, phonics skill, comprehension skill and strategy, and grammar skill.  This will help me know instantly which other books and resources I need for each week!


 Inside each folder, I put the laminated high-frequency word cards and the cards for spelling "Write the Room" that I created.  Each card has an image that connects to the story of the week and I put that image on each folder label... this way, if a card comes out or shows up somewhere, I'll know exactly where it belongs!

I also put in the master copy of the spelling sorting sheet and the high-frequency word practice page for each week.  I printed these at Office Depot for $0.12 a page.  It was around $7.00 to print all 60 pages.  I'm SO glad I did this.  Last year, I printed what I needed each week, but I think it will be SO helpful to have everything printed and already in folders.  So, a few extra bucks was totally worth it to me!

I'm going to work on adding other resources to these folders too and can't wait to get back to my classroom next month and put them away!  I'll have to show you my piles of school stuff in my  house, garage, and car sometime.  I'd say you'd be shocked, but I'm willing to wager that many of you know exactly what I'm talking about!

If you use Reading Street and want to check out the 2nd grade packs I created, the link to the bundle is below.  The bundle gets you the high-frequency word cards for FREE!


Saturday, July 13, 2019

A New Way to Display Desk Name Tags!

Did you see my blog post a few weeks ago about using a plastic frame to hold students' desk tags instead of taping down a traditional name tag?

Here's a Blog Post REWIND to show you all about it!

At the end of the year, I made my kiddos gifts that looked like this:


And I put them in frames like this from Dollar Tree:


I had them sitting on their desks when they came back from their special... and they loved them!  It gave me all the feels to see them so happy!  Some of them didn't want to take them home, as we had two half days of school left and so they kept them on their desks.

At first, I was thinking they might get knocked or fall or it would be hard to see over them... but none of those things happened and it was actually super convenient.  And that got me thinking that this might be an amazing way to do student name tags for desks!

So, I tried it and I made this...


And then I thought... wouldn't they love to come in on their birthdays and have something special slid into their frames?  So, I made this!


And then I thought... wouldn't it be cool to give them special little shout outs for different things during the year and have them in their frames to surprise them?  So, I made THIS...


And then I was just having so much fun that I made this pack full of options for editable desk tags and student celebrations!

I'm excited to do this in my classroom next year.  No more wrestling with tape to stick the tags down, peeling tape, cleaning gunk off tables... just easy name tags that we can move in a snap AND can use to celebrate our successes!

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

The Danger of a Single Story: Classroom Literature and Library Implications

I just had the pleasure of attending nErDcampmi on Monday and Tuesday this week.  If you've never been or haven't heard of it, it's a totally free 2 day conference focused on literacy, books, and all things reading.

To put it simply, it was amazing.

Monday, I got to hear Donalyn Miller, Laurie Halse Anderson, Cece Bell, Minh Le, and the day ended with a keynote address by Jason Reynolds, who is one of the most amazing storytellers you could ever hope to have the pleasure of listening to.  Here he is... using a story about Go-Go music to illustrate the power we have to make students feel valued, important, and as individuals.  (Also, if you haven't read his book Long Way Down, you need to.)


I went to a session with Jillian Heise and learned all about #classroombookaday and how to implement it, Dr. Christina Dorr on poverty to possibility, and sessions yesterday on diverse reads and helping students with their own identities.

It was an amazing conference and really stressed how important representation is in our classroom libraries and in the books that we choose to read in our classrooms.  I spent 14 years of my career teaching in rural schools where there wasn't much outward diversity.  Everyone, for the most part, looked like me.  Now, I'm in an urban setting with students from all types of backgrounds.  I worked hard last year to diversify my classroom texts, which needs continual growth... but I should have been doing that in my rural white school too!!!!! 

One video was referenced over and over- Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's TED Talk "The Danger of a Single Story".  So, when I got home last night, before I added books to my cart on Amazon for a rainy day, I looked up the video.  I watched it.  And knew I had to share it with you.  Maybe you're one of the over 18 million people who have already viewed this... I had never heard of it.

This is a MUST view for teachers.  And, not just a must view.  It's a must think and process about.  And illustrates the insane power that we have as teachers to shape our students' world views.

Please take a few minutes and watch.  I'd love to hear your thoughts!


Mark your calendars for February 1, 2020... nErDcampmi registration opens and seats fill up quickly!  It's a "do not miss" experience!

Sunday, July 7, 2019

FREEBIE ALERT! End Punctuation Grammar Game with a Narwhal Twist!

Tomorrow, it's officially the start of my fourth week of vacation and I'm spending it with some fab friends at nErDcamp in Parma, Michigan!  I've been looking forward to this for months and can't wait to share new ideas when I get back!

BUT... in the meantime, I wanted to share a FREE grammar game for end punctuation marks!

It's available on TpT!  If you download it, I'd love to hear what you think in the feedback!

In between trips to Target to stalk Bullseye's Playground, I had so much fun creating 30 grammar games to go along with 30 weeks of 2nd grade Reading Street conventions and this one... well, I just love it.  Because who doesn't love the unicorn of the sea... the NARWHAL!!!!  And, since it's a cousin to the mystical theme of my blog, I just had to share!

Click the picture to head over and download!


Enjoy and have a GREAT week!

Friday, July 5, 2019

Summer of Creativity! {And Grammar Games}

Ahhh... summer.  My third week is almost at a close and this has been the summer of creativity so far!  I haven't laid at the pool or lounged and watched tv... but I have relaxed in my own way, which is to sit at the computer with coffee and good dogs sleeping on the floor all around me while I create stuff!

Did I tell you I'm moving to 2nd grade next year?  2nd is the grade I started in waaaay back when and I'm excited to get back to my roots.  One routine I LOVED when I taught 3rd grade was my awesome teaching partner and I making sure to incorporate lots of games for grammar.  Usually, our students played a grammar game every Thursday as a way to reinforce the skill we had been working on during the week.

So, I have been cranking out low-prep grammar games that connect to my 2nd grade reading program's convention of the week!

So far, I have completed games for all things "sentence basics", all about nouns, all about verbs, and I'm done with the adjective part of "all about adjectives and adverbs"!





These low prep games are perfect for 2nd and 3rd graders.  All contain a partner game and then a way to turn the activity into a classroom or hallway hunt.  We did those ALL THE TIME in 3rd grade and my kiddos loved them!

The best part... the bundles each include a free game because they are $2 less than buying the games individually!

How do you spice up your grammar instruction and practice?  Let us know in the comments!

Friday, June 28, 2019

Desk Name Tag Hack!

So, the year is over!  What a crazy school year this was for me.  Mine started in the principal's office and ended with me packing up a first grade classroom and getting geared up to move to second grade next year!

I wouldn't trade the year for anything though.  Even during the lows, there were still highs!  And, boy, do I LOVE my kiddos!!!

At the end of the year, I made each one a special gift that looked like this...


And I put each one in a frame from the Dollar Tree that looked like this- just one piece of plastic that you can slide a pic (or paper!) in and out of...


I had them on their desks when they came back from PE and they LOVED them.  Like seriously loved.  It was one of my favorite moments of the year seeing them see their gifts!  I'm getting all the feels now just thinking about it!

So, they kept them on their desks all that day and some even left them there the next.  And it got me thinking... what if this could be an awesome alternative to a traditional taped down name tag?  You know- the name tags that get picked at and torn and dirty and spilled on and leave that black sludge outline on the desks when you move them?

And I decided that, next year, I am going to use this hack for my name tags!  And I whipped up this puppy...


Fully editable, color and black and white... AND other inserts to change things up throughout the year, use as acknowledgements to students, and to celebrate events!

Check out these three that I printed and stuck in my frame tonight...

 Here's an "I'm FRAME-ous" printable- just add the students' name and type or write in why you are proud!

 Who wouldn't love to walk in and have one of these in their name tag holder for the day?!  Happy birthday!

And here's the more traditional desktop helper... only it's not going to leave an ugly mess when the tape is removed and, when it's time to change table or desk spots, it's a cinch to relocate!

I am so excited about this and having so much fun making different designs.  If you download it and see I'm missing something or even have suggestions for others to include, let me know!

It's on sale for $1.00 off for the rest of June... let me know what you think!

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

When Mother's Day Sneaks Up On You... (a QUICK gift idea!)

Am I the only teacher who had Mother's Day TOTALLY sneak up on them????

If you're looking for a quick, easy, and oh so sweet project you can do with your students from start to finish TOMORROW... click the picture below to go to the blog post from a few years ago where I shared all about it!


There are still a few hours to save on the TpT Teacher Appreciation Sale too!  Use the code "gift4you" when you check out to save EXTRA money!

My new "Word Sort Bundle" is available on the cheap during the sale!

Sunday, April 28, 2019

Short/Long A Word Sort *FREEBIE!*


Just a quickie today to say my HUGE Word Sort Bundle just got WAAAAY more organized and easy to use on TpT!

If you check it out and download the preview, you can get the short/long A sort for FREE!

All is on sale for 20% off until Tuesday too!

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Relationships Matter!

Relationships matter.

We all know this.

"Kids don't learn from people they don't like!" is one of my favorite quotes from Rita Pierson.  Relationships matter!

And, even though we all know this, sometimes, in the heat of a stressful moment (or even just the stresses of the day-to-day!), frustration shows or we just can't hold that smile another second.  The relationship doesn't go away, but it gets strained or in need of repair.

I've been in education for a long time.  I've been the teacher for a lot of kids.  And I know relationships matter!

BUT- that was made so clear to me this week with one of my sweeties.

This is a little one with a personality very similar to mine.  We're both strong, independent, with a dash of sass and stubbornness.  It makes me happy for her, because I know she's going to grow up to be outspoken, confident, and able to make good decisions for herself.  But... sometimes, our personalities aren't in sync and we butt heads a little.

Earlier this week, we were sitting on the floor in our little math group.  Me, her, and a handful of other students.  The other students were working hard, pencils flying across their pages.  She was sitting there, book closed, singing.  And I was tired of asking her to follow expectations.  So, I just joined in with her song.

Her face lit up.  (Probably shocked her teacher knew the lyrics!  But, this teacher is hip.  And really in to music.)

She scooched a little closer to me and we just quietly smiled and sang that song while our other friends were working.   (Incidentally, it was a great song- "Talk" by Khalid.  What can I say?  The girl's got taste!)

The song ended.  The math round ended.  I gave the signal for all to pick up and transition to the next activity.  The day went on.

A little while later, she came to me and told me she was going to follow expectations for the rest of the day.  That, when we walked to the buses for dismissal, she wouldn't climb on "that black thing" (a bike rack) or walk in the grass like she usually does when I ask her to walk with our class on the sidewalk.  She said, "I'm going to listen to you for the rest of the day and I am going to follow all of the expectations."  I hugged her.  Told her that she should feel proud to for making such responsible choices.  I told her how I couldn't wait to see her following expectations tomorrow too.  And she said, "Yeah.  I think can do that!".

I'm already thinking about the next song I can sing with her so we can keep building that bond.

If you've never watched the Rita Pierson TED Talk, please watch it!  So powerful and so true.



Think of that kiddo with whom you may need a relationship boost.  How can you do it?  Something so small as noticing a new haircut, a sports rivalry (I had the BEST rivalry with some kiddos who are now in middle school!)... even joining in to sing a song because you just don't want to argue anymore.  Little things make a difference.  And little differences add up to big changes!

Never forget the power you have build that relationship.

Saturday, April 13, 2019

When Someone You Love Dies {Personal Post}

I usually like to keep things school related over here on the ol' blog.  But, this post is on my heart today- the 13th month since my dad has died.

My dad passed away last year in March, completely unexpectedly.  And, to say that the last year has been hard, is an understatement.  When someone dies, we naturally search for the "WHY"... knowing WHY this happens could at least help rationalize it.  And, when a death is unexpected, a WHY is even more important... especially when there absolutely isn't one.

I'm a reason seeker and a symbol holder.  I like to say I'm not superstitious or one who looks for "signs" everywhere, but I am and I do.

If you know me or my family personally, you know that the number 13 is kind of our "family number" and the number 413 is especially significant.

When my dad died last year, it was on March 13.  My dad liked to do things his own way.  He and I are very similar in that aspect.  I would never let him talk about him dying with me because, well, he was always going to be here- heck, he was only 61 years old.  Every time he would bring up any talk of this or want to talk to me about it, I would change the subject right away.  And my dad would always say, "When it's my time to go, it's my time to go."

So, him dying on the 13th, since it's our family's number... well, to me, it was his way of saying, "See?  I told you when it was my time, it was my time!"

Every month, on the 13, I think, "This is the __ month since my dad has gone," and I recently realized that on April 13, it will be the 13th month since he's been gone.

13 on 413.

You see, my dad's father was a prisoner of war during World War 2.  He escaped from the POW camp and was found and rescued by American soldiers on April 13.  So, this date (4/13) has always been significant in my family, started by my grandmother.  Her favorite Bible verse was Philippians 4:13, she wore jewelry with the number 13 on it, and took every sighting of 413 or 13 or any combination of those numbers ("Oh my!  Our dinner bill was $42.52 and 4 + 2 + 5 + 2 = 13!!!!!" <----- seriously, we all do it.) as a sign of love from God and her beloved husband.

So, this year, the fact that his 13th month gone falls on my grandmother's most celebrated day, 4/13, brings me more comfort that I can express.  There is no searching for a "why" when someone you love is gone.  There are no answers that can soothe the soul and no words that can explain away such a tragedy.  Nothing that stops the heart from aching or takes away that feeling of missing.  But for me, knowing my dad and how he always got the last word, the last laugh, and that stubborn smile... 13 months gone on 4/13 is just his style.  And it makes me feel a little better.

On this day, his memory burns a little brighter and the tears sting a little deeper.  But,  I think if he could have planned things like this, he may have.  He would have gotten a good smile out of it.



And, here's my tribute to him... he loved music.  He wrote it, sang it, played it... lived it.

So, last month on my spring break trip to Vegas, I got this for him.  The notes are D A D.


Here's to you, dad!  Love and miss you more than I can say!
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