Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Awesome Biographies for Kids

Thank you all so so much for your support yesterday when I aired some dirty laundry in my blog post.  The online teaching community really is an amazing place!  I know that most people are not intentionally trying to ignore the norms we have for our community, so I hope my post raised some awareness and opened some eyes.  Most importantly, I hope it gave people who needed a nudge in the right direction something to think about.

Enough about that!

Holy Cats!  Have you seen Time For Kids' biographies series???

I recently ordered a few because they were super cheap... less than $4 a book!  And I am overjoyed with how amazing these books are!

I ordered this one to "beef up" my historical women basket in my classroom library...

This book has everything... captions, photographs, timeline, perfect text for kids... I love it!!!

I also got Harriet Tubman, Abigail Adams, and Eleanor Roosevelt.  I got Henry Ford and Jesse Owens too.

We did a huge wax museum project with our 3rd graders last year... it was awesome, by the way... so I'm trying to stock up early with books that will actually allow them to read, search, and learn rather than them just typing in questions into Google to learn about their figure.

I can't WAIT to place another Amazon order for more TFK biographies!  Seriously... these are the best under $4 books I've ever purchased!

Stayed turned tomorrow because...

More details tomorrow!!!  And thanks, Kayla, at Primary Junction for making the cute button!

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Imitation is NOT the Most Sincere Form of Flattery {and other things that need to be said}

Good morning friends!  I hope you are all off to a successful start on this Tuesday!

Do you want the good news first, or the bad news?



I'm really anxious about writing this post.  Like when I decided to do it right before I went to sleep last night, that translated into a night of tossing and turning.  But, after talking with some of my bloggy and TpT friends, I feel like it's really important and needs to be posted.  I am not trying to be the boss of the applesauce here, but some things have been on my mind for a bit and I need to put them out there.  This post is not directed at anyone specific... so don't worry!

Ok.  Here goes.

There has been a HUGE influx of new bloggers and TpT sellers lately... good!  Congrats!  I am a better teacher because of blogging and TpT and I am happy for all of the new people joining us and wish you all the best on your journey!

It seems like there are either bloggers who have been doing it for a while or there are bloggers who haven't... not too many in the middle... and us old folks have been abiding by a code of conduct that we've kind of made up along the way and I'm worried that new bloggers may not be aware of some of the rules that we follow.  This concern comes from experience, unfortunately, so I want to share our rules today in the hopes that, if you didn't realize them, now you do!

*Everyone knows the old saying, "Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery".  Well, when it comes to TpT, this is not true.  It is SO disheartening to see so much copycatting going on.  I know that, with so many of us using the Common Core, there will be some overlap.  And I'm not talking about overlap.  I'm talking about downright copying.  If one of your students cheats on a test, what are you going to do?  You're going to send their butt to the principal and start making some phone calls.  You aren't going to tolerate a student stealing someone's ideas and passing them off as their own.  We are all highly skilled and highly trained as teachers and we are capable of doing new things from new ideas.  I'm going to be honest here and share what sparked this blog post; I saw on someone's blog pictures of one of my products that they had purchased and then pictures of their new product that they are selling which, if you didn't know it wasn't made by me, you would think it was because it's that similar to mine.  First I was annoyed.  But then when I started looking through their things, many have been directly copied from other sellers.  It made me sad for that person and sadder for those who's ideas have been violated.  Phew.  That was uncomfortable!

*Pinterest does not give us ideas.  If you make something because you first saw it in a pin on Pinterest, the idea didn't come from Pinterest.  It came from someone else who would love for you to give them the recognition.  It's great to share the blog the original picture came from.  My thought on that is this:  we all have a definite style.  So, if I see one craft, project, or product that you made and like the style, I want to see more!  I want to know what your blog is so I can see what you've been doing.  Just saying an idea came from Pinterest doesn't allow me to know the person behind the pin!

*Have you read Ron Clark's Essential 55?  It's a wonderful read!  His 9th rule is that if a student does not say "Thank you" within THREE SECONDS of being given something (no matter what it is!), he will take it away.  He says, "There is no excuse for not showing appreciation."  Would you believe that I have a freebie that has been download 8,545 times?  Eight thousand five hundred forty five times.  There are 10 comments on the freebie.  That's a little more than 1% of the folks enjoying it who have taken the time to say thank you. Now, that isn't why I share freebies and it's not why I shared that one.  But who doesn't like to hear positive affirmations about their work?  Especially us because teaching isn't just what we do, it's who we are.  And I like knowing that who I am is making a difference for others.  I'm sure you do too!  If you win a giveaway, please take time to thank the teachers e-mailing you the winnings too!

*And speaking of freebies... they are free.  If you don't like it, don't download it.  I don't want to hear that my freebie isn't what you wanted or what you were looking for.  Many of my bloggy friends have mentioned that they are being asked to "fix" and customize freebies... sometimes we aren't even asked, we are told that a freebie needs a font changed or the spelling of a word or colors/patterns/borders/graphics to match a classroom or theme.  I'm going to be so honest right now... that is why the thing is free.  Because it is what it is.  Now, with that said, if I've customized something for you in the past, don't feel bad or think I'm being mean about your request.  I did it without holding a grudge and because I had time and wanted to help you out.  But there is not always the time and, what do we do at school when we do a project?  If I bring out sliver glitter but Jimmy wants blue, sorry!  We are using silver today.  It is what it is.  (Maybe I'm just a mean teacher and you would go get the blue?)  Sometimes things would just be so perfect for our classrooms if there could be one minor change... but that change is the blue glitter!  :)

*More on the freebies... can you tell this has been a problem lately...?  Flash freebies.  They are exciting!  I love doing them.  It's a fun way to give back to my blog and FB followers.  I hate missing flash freebies that my favorite sellers do.  Let's be honest.  It sucks.  Sometimes people do AMAZING things as flash freebies and I get there two seconds too late and it's a HUGE bummer.  Please don't ask to have a flash freebie that you missed e-mailed to you.  I get it.  It's so sad to miss them!  Like major sad.  But that's the point of a flash freebie!  My friend Rachel (aka- The Tattooed Teacher) has a great post about dowloading flash freebies on your phone to access later.  Check it out!

*We can't send editable versions of our files out.  Not only would sending a WORD (or Publisher, PowerPoint, Pages... whatever you use) document of my file be totally against the licensing agreement I have with the clipart artist, it opens me up to people changing my work and then posting it as their own.  When I first started my class website in 2006 BB (that would be Before Blogging), I shared everything in WORD because I'm not sure PDFs had been invented yet.  I kid, I kid.  But, documents I shared in Word back then are STILL floating around the web today... with one or two words changed and someone else's name and copyright smacked across the bottom!  When you buy teaching resources at the teacher's store or Amazon or where ever you buy them, you can't change those either... so it's no different than that.

*Contests... this one blew my mind when my friend shared it with me last night... recently, one of my bloggy friends did a giveaway.  Yay!  We love giveaways!  Days after it was over, she received an e-mail from someone claiming to have won but had not received the prize via e-mail.  My friend went to check on this and found that, in reality, the person had NOT won and was trying to get a free prize out of the deal.  I could not believe this, and said so.  And another bloggy friend said the same thing happened to her!  I just feel like I have to put that out there, even though we are probably talking about two or three people.  I cannot believe that someone would do that.  Really.  I'm completely flabbergasted about that one.  I just wanted to put that out there along with one word:  Integrity.

*I posted about this one before, but I think lots of people started blogs this summer during their time off, so I just want to put out a gentle reminder.  It takes time to grow your blog and TpT store.  It takes more than a month, more than a summer even.  The way you grow your blog and store is to interact in the blogging community.  Visit other blogs, comment (with genuine comments, not just "Come follow me!"), join an online group of teachers, join some linky parties, HOST some linky parties!  Develop your brand and find a style that is YOU.  This took me a while.  My early products make me cringe now!  I'm working to re-vamp them, but now I have my style which comes through in the things that I make and do.  The point of this is- it isn't "if you blog it, they will come".  It is go forth and mingle.  Interact on blogs.  Don't beg for followers.  If you establish yourself as a place with good information and solid products, you'll get followers... and sales too!

*Last thing... I'm adding this about an hour after originally posting because I just thought of it... if you are a TpT seller, please please please take some time to find out what is legally allowed and what is not.  You can NOT sell anything Daily Five related.  You can give it away for free, but you can't sell it.  Dr. Seuss AND Elf on the Shelf are OFF LIMITS- not for sale and not for free.  There is a forum on TpT all about copyrights and trademarks.  Please take some time to check it out.  It is very upsetting to me and other sellers when we have followed the rules and taken down our Dr. Seuss stuff, but other people are making money selling something they can't.  Please know that Seuss Enterprises takes it really seriously.  They patrol TpT, will contact you, and YOU are financially responsible (not TpT!) if they catch you selling Seuss products!

Now, I don't want this post to be all doom and gloom.  My friend Tamara from Mrs. Russell's Room had a great idea... a list of things that SHOULD be copied and imitated!!!

*a great work ethic- find a blogger/seller you admire and work as hard and honestly as they do!

*learn how to create great products by watching tutorials.  You can Google or search Youtube for literally anything, as I'm sure you know.  You can find out how to make the most of your graphics, special tools in Powerpoint or Publisher, doing great things with fonts... if you want to have great products, take a look at some of the top sellers on TpT.  It will give you an idea of where to start when it comes to design.
*Tamara said, "Although free is not bad, most often, paying gets you more and at a higher quality" when it comes to graphics and fonts.  There are some amazing graphic artists out there and, paying a few bucks for quality clip art is totally worth it!  

*Ask some teacher friends to edit your products for you before you post them.  If you're on TpT, someone in the forums would LOVE to look over your work for you, I know it!  I have some amazing go-to editors who always find things that I miss.  Let's face it, after working on a product for hours/days/weeks/months sometimes, I know what it's supposed to say so I miss little things when I proof it myself.  Asking a friend to check it always helps me tighten my work up.  And, oh yeah, if you find an error, just let the seller know. We're human and we will fix it as soon as we can!

So, now that I've shared all of that with you...

It's TWOs-day!  That means TWO people are going to win my new CCSS aligned grammar assessment pack for 2nd & 3rd grade!

And the winners are...

If you didn't win...  I'm sorry!  But... this is $1 off on TpT or get even MORE off by checking out my blog shop and reading about the coupon code!

you can check it out at TpT, TN, or my blog shop (under ELA) if you want more info!

Hopefully we're still friends and my post today gave you some food for thought... pass the word along to someone who needs a reminder!  :)

Monday, July 29, 2013

Modge Podge on a Pocket Chart... Whaaaa? *Monday Made-It!*

I think you're aware that I need help with my pocket chart addiction.  And if you aren't aware... now you are.  I have a lot of them.  But, when they are $1 at Target, how can I NOT buy three to five every. single. time I go there?  Every.  Single.

Anyway... I am using them.  The rest, I've squirreled away in a drawer for a rainy day!

Last night I decided to try something out on one.  Last year I had my class jobs printed on Avery labels and stuck to the outside of the pockets.  It worked great!  Except that, by the end of the year, they were smudged and peeling off.

So, last night I decided to try sticking paper labels on with Modge Podge and it worked out beautifully!  I actually love it a whole lot and am trying to figure out how I can do this on more of my charts!

All I did was print those on paper and cut them out.  Then I did put paper behind each pocket so that the Modge Podge didn't get on the fabric.  I applied the Modge Podge to the plastic strips, laid down the paper, and Modge Podge'd over it!  It took about 30 minutes to dry and now it's done!  If you do it, just remember that it is only paper, so you have to go gently with the brush so you don't rip the paper.

I used a sponge brush too, btw!

I'm thinking some of my other charts that usually get student's names stuck on them every year might be getting numbers instead so I can make them with Modge Podge!

Link up with Tara at 4th Grade Frolics to show off what you've been doing!
And don't forget that you can enter to win my new "Grammar Snapshots" pack with 42 CCSS aligned short and sweet grammar assessments (or homework or morning work or exit slips or practice pages or remediation) for 2nd and 3rd grades!  Just click the pic to find out more!

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Grammar Giveaway with New Grammar Snapshots!

Looking to get a better handle on grammar in your classroom?  I just put the finishing touches on a new pack with weekly grammar assessments (or homework, or practice, or morning work, or exit slips... you get it... it's versatile!)... these 42 quick skill checks can be used for anything!

And I'm going to give away TWO of them on TWO-sday!  Haha.  See what I did there?

Just leave a comment with your e-mail and I'll select two random numbers on Tuesday morning and send it your way!

This pack is fully aligned with L.1 and L.2 for 2nd and 3rd grade Common Core... you can check out the preview at TpT for more info or pick it up at my blog shop or TN!

Check it out on TpT, TN, or my blog shop (under ELA)!

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Classroom Pics Take 2!

Well, I can't believe it but I pretty much have my room done!  All I need now is a final class list so I can start putting names on stuff.  We don't go back until after Labor Day, but I'll be teaching summer school in two weeks, so wanted to be sure my room was ready for that!

I shared my first set of room pics earlier in the week.  I'm actually going to copy and paste that post at the bottom of this one so everything is in one place.

But, here are my new pics...

I love these brag tags!  I started using them last year and had a huge BB in my class for them.  But the BB was kind of hard to get to and my kiddos wanted to wear their tags all the time, which led to climbing on a counter on a daily basis!  These are much easier to get to and it's a different BB so now my other one is freed up for something totally different!  Once I had my class list, each star will get a name on it and everyone starts out with a "3rd Grade Rocks!" tag.  They earn others (and pony beads too!) throughout the year.

This is my CAFE, spelling. and vocab area.  I just re-made all of those signs this year and love how they turned out!

Here's my area for "I can..." statements.  I have some cards, but it's too cumbersome to keep track and organize them so last year I started just writing objectives on the board and I like that MUCH better.  I got this small magnetic border and this area is perfect!

Here's my Daily Five choices chart area.  You can see it's not totally finished and, since the charts only had 8 slots, I had to rig them up to have 10 so you can see the tape which is a little unattractive, but I think when I get it totally done and we're using it everyday, that it won't be so bad.

This is my class library check-out chart.  Again, once I have a class list, there will be name labels on this chart and the green basket next to it will hold my check-out slips.  How it works is a kid just fills out a slip, puts it behind their name, and then must return the book to a class librarian who are the only students authorized to remove a check-out slip from the chart.  I started this last year and it worked out great!

This is the area behind my table.  I went deskless last year and I love it!

I'm sure there will be a few more pics to share before it's all said and done, but that's it for now!

Here is my earlier post if you want to take in all the sights in room 108!

*****Originally posted on 7/24/13*****

How can I not have blogged since Sunday?  How does this happen?  My blog stalker hasn't noticed to remind me... maybe she hasn't stalked me since Sunday either...!

If you're a blog fan on FB, I promised classroom pictures yesterday but by the time I got home and made dinner, it was time for a girls' night with my friends and when they left I had to spend some quality time with the hubby watching TV (that counts, right?!) and then it was past my bedtime!

So, to make a long story short... I'm sharing classroom pics today!!!

Now, my room isn't done so I'll be sharing more pics soon, but I wanted to show you what I have done so far.  It's similar to last year, so if you've been a follower for a while, it might look familiar...
My calendar- check out that amazing ABC set from Ladybugs Teacher Files!

My things for my small groups- you can get those labels for FREE at this old post!

These are my "morning meeting" and mini-lesson essentials... LOVE all this stuff!!!!  You can find the 100 Days to CCSS success at TpT and the Vocabulary Power (which is awesome and they look pretty cheap now!) on Amazon.

My little mini-lesson area- see those hula hoops in the background?  My kiddos use them when they need personal space!  They just take one down, sit inside, and others know not to bug them.

This is our meeting area.  20 bodies on the rug, three on the pink crates, and 2 in chairs or on the floor.  By the end of the year, they were almost too big to sit comfortably in one carpet spot!  Yikes!

My pride and joy... my classroom library!  If each basket has only 30 books (most have between 50-60), I still have over 1,000 in my classroom!  I'm so proud of my library!

Spot to keep track of AR point makers and 100 Club kiddos... you can find the 100 Club on TpT

This is brand new this year... last year this BB because a "catch-all" for papers, pictures from students, notes, reminders, etc... but this year it's a cute little spot for me.  Hopefully I can keep all my stuff more organized!

My shelf of stuff and my carts of community supplies... you can snag those cute labels for FREE if you're a fan of my blog on Facebook!  The basket of cleaning supplies is for one of my new class jobs this year... I don't have a name for the job yet, but the kid will need to dust... which I think they'll love!  Any suggestions for a name for the job?

Just click the pic below to head to FB, "LIKE" my page, and download them from the Fan Freebies tab!

Homework Club display!  I'm hoping for 25 or 26 kids, but have to be prepared... if an assignment is not turned in, students will flip their number around and then, at the end of the month, those still facing forward are in the Homework Club!  This pack with this display, awards, and tons of stuff to start a Homework Club is available on TpT!

My new writing center!!!!!  I'm so excited about this!  On the table are... a big calendar, tape, staples, story starter cubes and other ideas, a plastic frame with words about September (find that on TpT), and that super cute chevron lamp from Meijer!

This is right next to my writing table and has drawers with writing paper, spelling helpers, and other things.  In between the two containers on the top shelf is a collection of cookbooks.  My students LOVE LOVE LOVE re-copying recipes during work on writing.  I realize this is not practice that is helping them generate ideas or develop their craft of writing, but they are practicing handwriting (and when do we have time for that?!), exposing themselves to a variety of words and spellings, and doing some real-world writing that they can use then they get home.  I would highly recommend adding some recipe books to your writing center... they love it!

Also on that shelf are... Lakeshore Writing Activity Pockets (here's the Amazon link to the K-1 version and the 2-3 at Lakeshore), Lakeshore Writing Center (which I can't find on their site right now...), writing flip chart/story starters, and a basket full of photo cards including these awesome ones from Learning Resources

So, that's my room!  I have a few more things to do... today is a stay-at-home-and-work-on-the-computer day for me, so hopefully I'll get everything I need made and done so I can finish up my room and show off the rest soon!

**More pics from a post originally dated August 7, 2013**

First up today... more classroom pictures!!!

First... here's my finished writing center.  I really love it!  I have two crate seats for the kids to sit on at the little desk and the shelf next to it is full of resources for writing.  Our first writing unit is on opinion writing, so I have the posters from my Opinions: Order Up! unit displayed on the board at the center.  You can find my Narrative pack on TpT or as part of the amazing deal currently going on at Educents!

Here's the view from behind my table.  I went desk free last year and LOVE it!  My "desk" is the table where I meet with small groups.

And speaking of the table where I meet with small groups the picture above is a week old so... check out what I put on that table on Monday... I LOVE it!!!

See the blue and green circles?  They are actually wall stickers that I put on my table and they are dry erase!!!

I got them on Amazon... click HERE to check them out!!!  I know my kiddos will love participating during small group instruction by writing responses on the circles!  Another teacher in my building has something similar on her closet doors in all sizes and she (and I think the kids too) writes positive notes on them.

Here's another pocket chart with student spots stuck on with Mod Podge.  I am so excited about the whole Mod Podging thing!

Do you have any of these carts?  I got mine at Michael's but you can also see them HERE on Amazon.  Mine are now all organized and ready to go.  I have all of my independent activities for each topic listed in the drawers.  The top drawer is for any "Must Do" students have during the week, then the drawer with games for the topic we are covering... then everything else!

Here's the view from the door.  Don't mind my stuff on that table!

I also gave my teaching and learning beliefs an updated look.  You can read about them HERE.  If you don't have yours displayed, I'd encourage you to do it.  I jut think it helps me stay true to what I do in my classroom and can answer questions anyone might have about why I do what I do!

And last... I hung this "Welcome Back" banner across the front lobby!  You can find it on TpT for just $2!

Now, if you made it though all of that, you deserve a freebie!  Just read a little more...

Today I'm sharing my new CAFE board.  Usually I always always always write out my CAFE strategy cards, but I decided to type them this year and like how they turned out!  Here's a pic of my board with all of the strategies up.  I put magnets on the back of each one and will add them to the board as we learn them throughout the year.

You can access them on TpT by clicking the picture below.  I would appreciate it if you left feedback too!  Thank  you!!!!

Friday, July 26, 2013

Ever Had to Chase Down a School Bus? {freebie!}

Well... have you?  You know... a kid hands you a note at 7:45am saying they are not to ride the bus today and during the end of the day activity, you totally forget to remind said child and they get on the bus anyway... and then that sinking feeling sets in as you realize that said child was not supposed to get on the bus... so you run down the hall, fling open the door, and storm onto every bus until you see the student and can finally breathe?!

Well, I hope I'm not the only one who has ever had this happen!  In 9 years of teaching, this has happened only a handful of times, but it's always awful!

In my old school, I had a dry erase board up by my door to write notes on or stick notes from parents as a reminder, but I never put one up last year when I moved schools.

So, I made this, put it in a sheet protector, and taped it up on the window by my door so I can jot myself reminders about anything (i.e. Turn off the LCD projector!  Get your leftovers out of the fridge!  Don't let Jimmy get on the bus!)!

If you use a dry erase marker on a sheet protector, it erases beautifully- in case you didn't know.

And you can have it too by clicking on it below!  Enjoy and leave some comment lovin' with your own horror story or just a friendly 'thanks' if you download it!

And don't forget to check out my new linky party to see what everyone's students are DIGGING!  Click the pic to check it out!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

What Are Your Students DIGGIN'? {A new linky!}

Ok... the first day of school is approaching quickly and I'm ready to do some (AKA- continue to do some) shopping!

But... I want to know what the winners in your classroom are.  What do your students really DIG that you have?

Link up and show us what you've got and where you got it so we can get it too!
If you click any of the pictures, you can grab these too!  If you link up, be sure to direct us to where we can get your goodies too!  My 3rd graders love...

...this book series... my reluctant readers can't wait to get their hands on this!

...our Eggspert!  This turns anything into a team game and my 3rd graders LOVE it!  We do Brainquest cards, grammar games, math facts... anything you can think of... and it is so fun!

...Choose Your Own Adventure books.  Did you ever read these?  OMG.  I did when I was a kid and I loved them!  There are new ones that are perfect for grades 2 and up and my students LOVE doing them during "read to someone".

...writing with Smencil Pencils as a reward!  Have you seen these pencils?  They smell... and they smell good!  This is a great reward in my classroom.  Students can borrow the pencil for the day!

...scratch off tickets!  I blogged about this last summer and it was a huge hit in my classroom!

...our interactive reading buddies from Hallmark!  My kiddos LOVE reading to these stuffed pups... if you haven't seen these, they are pretty cool.  You turn them on, read the book it came with outloud to the stuffed animal, and (if you're reading accurately and fluently) the dog whimpers, barks, pants, etc... at appropriate parts in the story!  It's really cool.  I wasn't sure about it because it's something I did in 1st and 2nd grade, but my 3rd graders LOVE it!  We have this one, but there are many others too!

one more...

...our favorite end of the day activity (when there's time!) is to play "Mummy Ball".  We have a Koosh ball and the students put on all their gear (backpacks, etc...) and stand in a spot in the room.  I say someone's name and toss them the ball.  They catch it, say someone else's name, and toss to them.  If anyone talks, they are out and sit down wherever they are standing.  If anyone drops it, they are out and sit down.  It usually takes about 8 minutes to get a winner... and we usually can only play for 3 or 4 but we try to do it once a week because they love it!

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