Friday, July 3, 2015

Let's Focus (Deal of the Day!)

Last year I led an inservice on Formative Instructional Practices. Sounds exciting huh? If you haven't been FIP trained it is just consists of ways to guide your teaching and your student's learning.  Examples are:
  • Creating and using clear learning targets
  • Collecting and documenting evidence of student learning
  • Analyzing evidence and providing effective feedback
  • Preparing students to take ownership of their learning  

One easy way to make sure you are creating and using clear learning targets is a focus wall.  I love having a wall with my targets, as well as our focus topics for the week.  I can continuously refer back to our wall throughout the day and my students are fully aware of what we are working on, and what they'll be able to do by the end of that day and week.  

FIP requires students to take ownership of their learning.  The way I write my learning targets also helps my students to better understand what they'll be doing in each activity and how that will lead to their learning.  Instead of just writing, "Reading: I can read fluently."  My targets say something like, "Reading: Today we will re-read our poems, so you can say: I can read fluently." After only a few weeks of writing targets by first saying, what our activity will be, my students were then able to tell me what the "I can" part of the statement would be, or what they would be able to do after the activity or lesson was over. 

In addition to our learning targets for the day, I put our weekly focuses on the way as well.  I list our spelling words, vocab words, our phonics skills for the week, grammar for the week and a math vocabulary word on my wall.  As part of my morning routine each day, we write out our learning targets and review all the items on the wall.  

If you need a place to keep you and your students focused, then I highly recommend creating a focus wall and making sure your students are aware of their learning and understand why they are doing what they are doing.  

Today only, this product will be marked down from $7.00 to $4.50.  I hope your kiddos stay focused!

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

2015 Vegas Blogger Meet Up!

It's almost that time again! The time that thousands of teachers and bloggers head to Vegas for the annual SDE and Teachers Pay Teachers Conferences. I am so excited!

This year will be our 4th annual Vegas Teacher-Blogger Meet Up. What started as a fun little way to get to meet other teachers and bloggers from across the country, has turned into the BIGGEST teacher-blogger meet up ever!

Here are the details you'll want to know:

  • The meet up will be on Wednesday, July 8th, and will start at 6:30pm at the Venetian in the Galileo room. 
  • RSVP on our Facebook event page {HERE}
  • You will need to download, edit, and bring your own name tag.  Download the file {HERE!} Below is an example of how your name tag should look. 

  • You do not need to be a blogger to attend. All teachers are invited and welcome to come! 
  • Please be ready to have fun, meet people, and make new friends! Make sure to post pictures to social media using the hashtag #2015vegasmeetup.
  • Our main sponsors for this event are SDE and TPT, although we have dozens more who will be donating prizes, swag, and other fun stuff! You do not want to miss out on these awesome prizes!
  • Here is a peek at this year's DIAMOND sponsors:

Please take a look at our amazing sponsors, visit their websites, and if possible say thank you for supporting this event! We have never charged an entrance fee for this meet up and it's because of all these wonderful, generous sponsors!      


And just to help you get even more excited, here's a peek at the fun we had at last year's meet-up! This year is sure to be even 

All our happy prize winners from last year!

Can't wait to see you all there! 

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Summer Bucket List Linky!

Hello Friends,
    Well thank goodness for Miss Natalie from What the Teacher Wants because I haven't blogged in a hundred years and she finally gave me something to blog about. I'm linking up with her Summer Bucket List Linky.  

To be honest, this summer has started off kind of crazy and not all that much fun. We are selling our sweet home and quite honestly, keeping a home nice and tidy with two little boys and a bulldog on a daily basis, is just a plain nightmare! We've been fortunate enough to have lots of showings, but that also means leaving my home most of the day. Hence the no blogging, because I'm never home.  This moving thing is quite stressful, but I'm staying hopeful it will all work out and we'll be able to build our dream home soon.  

I'm also not sure if y'all know, but I will no longer be in first grade. So not only am I moving homes, I'm also moving classrooms. I had to say bye, bye to my nice ginormous room and hello to a tiny space I'll be sharing.  It does mean that I'll be changing up the decor and creating a new set of decor for my classroom.  In addition to a new classroom, I will have a new position as the reading specialist/literacy coach for my school. This means this summer I'll be making lots of interventions and things for the teachers in my school to use.  I'm excited for the challenge but also feeling behind and summer's just begun.  

So, now on to my summer bucket list. 

In addition to this bucket list, I have a little bucket list freebie I made a few years ago I thought I'd link. I used it will my own kids and you might want to use it with yours.  

Thursday, May 7, 2015

C. Jayne Teach: 2015 Teacher Anchor

I don't know about y'all but at the end of the year I am already thinking about the next year.  So I'm really excited that my sweet friend Chandra from C. Jayne Teach took teacher's feedback and made her Teacher Anchor even better this year.  I can't wait to use it in my new classroom. 
Here are a few updates!
-The Anchor will ship immediately this year!  No pre-selling, just shipping in 3-5 business days beginning May 1st!  Yay!
-One of the biggest pieces of feedback was that the cover on last years spiral planner just wasn’t sturdy enough.  So this year, the cover is super sturdy and durable.  It’s made of synthetic plastic, which is lightweight but virtually non-tearable!  
-The binder now comes with the option to not only personalize but also to choose your color!  You can see all 12 color options here.  
-The spiral bound planner now includes the “student data sheet set” within itself.  If you remember, last year those were included separately, but this year she decided to just make a section of blackline masters within the planner itself, so they’re always easily located!
-Speaking of sections, the planner now has dividers to separate the 5 main sections of the planner: monthly calendar, weekly calendar, grade book, blackline masters, and the Common Core!
-New forms and pages have been added to the planner including more “notes” pages, a professional development planner and log and allergy record to name a few. 

Here are few pictures from my anchor.

If you’d like to see more, click on the video below.  Chandra goes through the anchor and shows you all the new features up close. Screen Shot 2015-04-05 at 5.24.14 PM
In addition to her Teacher Anchor, I am in love with Chandra's other products. They are so beautiful!
To check out more of C. Jayne Teacher Click Below.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Teacher Appreciation Week

I may be biased, but y'all I love TEACHERS! I also love giving to others, so Teacher Appreciation week is right up my alley! There is nothing I enjoy more than a creative little gift.   I also really appreciate how Fabulously Frugal put together a one stop shop for fun ideas more my kiddo's teachers.

My kiddos teachers are getting a few of the gifts card ideas, mixed in with some cleaning supplies for the end of the year and lip balm.  

In addition to the gifts for my kids teachers, Teachers Pay Teachers is giving the gift of a sale! I love this sale, because I can pick up things to save the day for then of the year, as well as a few things to prep over the summer.  
Thank you Deana Kahlenberg for the cute button.
Here are some things I'll be using soon.

In fact, I went shopping at Dollar Tree for my awards the other day and was so excited with the selection for my awards. Not only did I find most of the items I originally listed, I found even more options for each award. I'm even going to add a few awards this week.  
Here is a picture example of a few awards from last year. 

 And this how I package up my summer review packs for my kiddos.  
Just typing this post makes me realize just how much work I have ahead of me! 
A teacher's work is never done.  
Happy Teacher Appreciation Week! 

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

When are we enough?

This post is a quite a bit different from most you will read from me.  You might not get a lesson idea for next week or suggestion for my favorite make-up, but I hope your teacher heart gets a little something from this post.

I guess I should start by saying I'm starting over in my fitness journey.  I know that sounds horrible, like why did I ever stop and honestly I can't tell you why.  I will tell you it's depressing to think about how hard I worked to only gain back everything I lost. But enough, woe is me. I know it's time to get my behind in gear.  So I'm working really hard on my nutrition and starting to work out again. And this brings me to this post. As I started out tonight on a walk, I thought about how I used to run 3 miles and be home within 30 minutes, feeling strong and proud and then I'd go to the gym and lift. Tonight I was walking, jogging a bit and walking some more.  As I would pass the runners on the trail in my neighborhood, I really wanted to stop them and let them know I used to be like them. I couldn't help but wonder if they thought of me as some overweight, weak girl.  Did they judge me for running and having to stop halfway up the hill? Did they know that I'm really trying to get back to that girl who could sprint up those hills and not miss a beat?

On that very same walk, alone with my thoughts, I had to wonder.  Why do I care so much? I know that many of us, especially teachers, love affirmation. We love to do it all, and have others wonder how we fit it all in. We try to make sure we have the cutest classrooms, most exciting lessons, adorable anchor charts and still find time to make 25 + rainbow cupcakes for that special theme lesson.  Now, I do these things because I love to make learning fun, I honestly enjoy doing these things most of the time, but sometimes I just do too much.  I load things on my plate, because I want to please others, I want to be the PERFECT teacher.  For example, I pride myself on keeping my parents overly informed. I post pictures of their kiddos weekly, they receive a homework sheet on Monday, reminder emails throughout the week, and a newsletter on Friday.  I get lots of thank you's for making sure they don't miss a thing.  Then one day, I forgot to send home the math homework. Now math goes home every Tuesday night like clockwork and I forgot.  And darn it, if I didn't kick myself.  I mean, now I wasn't perfect anymore.  What would the parents think? Now, as I write this, I know it seems insane.  No one is perfect. I know I'm not perfect. I know that there are days when my teaching is downright mediocre, but I don't show you that on this blog.  Just like not many people post pictures of themselves on Facebook looking at hot mess.  Why? Because we all want to please. We want the approval of others.  

I also started to think about all the other ways I felt pressure in my life to be the best. Soon after starting my blog, I became a seller on TpT.  Now this was back in the stone ages when teacher blogs were as scarce as the sellers on TpT. The good old days when I often saw my name in the newsletter, as well as the top 10 best sellers list.  Do I see my name there anymore...not so much.  Does that bother me? A little.  Does this mean my products are no longer good enough? Does it mean I'm not good enough? Y'all, I know it doesn't. I've found amazing products from teachers that are nowhere near the top 10. Teachers that are totally deserving of recognition for lessons that would benefit every child. And still I worry. 

And then there's being a mommy and wife.  Gosh darn, the pressure! The pressure to make sure my boys are given every opportunity, that they have everything they need, that I let them know how much I love them, that their homework is correct, their clothes are nice and clean and that they do not behave like hooligans.  I have spent countless evenings making elaborate treats for snack day, cutting out what seems like thousands of pieces of felt for the perfect First Communion Banner and making sure their teachers and coaches feel appreciated by giving creative little gifts. And I love to do these things, but there are times when I just felt spread way too thin.  

And so, the point of this post.  Today, a very good friend shared an excerpt from her bible study and I couldn't help but think of it tonight on my run, as well. 

"Until our hearts find complete security and significance in God's unconditional love, we will never be satisfied. Those of us who struggle with insecurity and find ourselves in the shadow of doubt often get there because we are seeking our validation in people's opinions, our worth in accomplishments, and our identity in excessive commitments.Until God's love is enough, nothing else will be. We were made for love that isn't measured by our latest accomplishment, but marked by God's measureless grace. "

I don't believe in coincidences when it comes to the Lord. He always provides us with what we need at just the right time.  And this would be the perfect time for me. As I feel pulled in a million directions at the end of the school year, I need to realize that I am enough. My efforts, no matter how big or small, are enough.  You ALL are enough.  We aren't measured by a list on a website, or the beauty of an anchor chart.   We are all enough in his eyes.  God doesn't make mistakes y'all, his love for us is unconditional and that needs to be enough.  

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Surviving until Summer: Linky Party

Tomorrow I go back to school after being off for Spring Break.  I had so much fun with my boys and while I miss my little first grade friends, I know that these next 6+ weeks will not be the easiest.   So Katie from Queen of the First Grade Jungle and I thought we'd share some of the things we do to make it through these next couple of months. We'd love for you to link up and share things in both your personal and school lives that help you to survive. 
Here are some of mine!  
Personally there are a few things that relieve my stress and make this girl a happier mommy and teacher. 
Shopping for, and decorating my house makes my heart happy.  In fact I was just talking to my sweet friend Kathleen today about decor.  She's amazing at making old things new and she has a great eye.  Not only do I want to continue to redecorate our house, but I also have a new classroom next year to think about.  I'm all about farmhouse inspired decor.  I love distressed furniture, cute knick knacks, wire baskets and tin.  
In fact, today I found two great sites with all kinds of fun items on sale. 
It might not currently look like it, but I love to workout. I especially love to run and lift weights.  I miss my sweet trainer and I really miss running.  I gave both up this winter and it's my biggest regret. So, now that we are having some beautiful spring weather, I'm so ready to run and relieve stress.  
Here are some of my favorite things to help me while working out:

The first are my Adidas Energy Boost. I am in LOVE with these shoes. I've literally tried every running shoe ever invented and these will forever be my go to! Like clouds, girls! 
I also really enjoy Les Mills Body Pump. It's a great workout and it makes me feel strong.
And I REALLY love my Spark to get me through my school day and workouts.  SO YUMMY!
Going outside! 
Whether it is with my students, or my sweet boys, I love to play outside. Doing outdoor activities with my students makes my heart happy and them happy as well.  Here are a few ideas of things you can do that are both academic and for the outdoors. 

Target had packs of frisbees on sale not too long ago in the pet section.  I give my students a word to begin with and they write it. They then throw the frisbee to their partner and their partner has to change one letter in the word to make a new word.  They continue this making tons of words! It's such a fun activity and the frisbees can be used like this for many topics and standards.

We also love to use chalk to practice spelling and math.  
With Kindergarten kiddos you can draw outdoor Elkonin boxes and have them jump the sounds of picture cards you put in front of them.  For example: place a picture of a cat in front of them. They would then jump in each box and say the sounds in the word.  
Take advantage of Go Noodle. The end of the year = fidgety children.  Brain breaks are a perfect way to make it through the day and it's free.  

Make others happy! It always helps my mood when I know I'm making others feel good.  In the past we showered our 4th grade buddies with treats to make it through their testing.  These cute tags are from my friend Hope's Sweet Support pack. 

 We also love to make our mommy's feel good by hosting a Mother's Day Tea.  It's one of my favorite days of the year and it's absolutely precious.
Here are the books we make for our mommies.
Here are their cute fingerprint vases.
Reading the moms their books.
 Singing to our mommies.
Here is my pack that explains our tea and includes the items we create.  
And if all else fails... this is COMING SOON!
Now we would love to hear what you do to make it through.  You can link up below.