Saturday, February 28, 2015

A Tangled Mess

My cabinets and closets are so embarrassing. If you look at my classroom when all the cabinet doors are shut, you might actually think I am an organized person. Just open up a door and you are in for a big surprise. This tangled mess has been bothering me for way. too. long.

With spring just around the corner, I have been itching to overhaul some areas of my room that are simply getting out of control.  The yarn basket was an easy place to start.

I started saving Clorox wipes containers last year because they are just too reusable to send to a landfill. My students bring these in as a part of our school supply list. We go through about 24 containers per year. The nice thing about these containers is that yarn slides so nicely through the slots at the top.

The hardest part about organizing my yarn was getting it all untangled. Now, it will actually be difficult for the yarn to tangle. For some of the smaller pieces of yarn, I was able to place two or three colors in one container and the yarn still pulls out smoothly.

I am already dreaming up uses for the rest of my containers. Plastic bags? Markers? Maybe mini trash cans for learning centers? Place value models? A leprechaun trap? The possibilities seem endless!

Have you used a Clorox wipe container or another recycled container in a unique way?

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Have a Go!

Writing is one of my favorite subjects to teach but my least favorite to grade. Do you ever feel that way?  When I take kids through the stages of the writing process, I try my best to set them up for success.  By the time they get to the finished product, we have worked so hard on revising and editing that it makes the scoring part much less painful.

"Have a Go!" is an editing strategy that I have used with great success for many years in my classroom.   I have used this strategy with second and third grade students. It would definitely work with older students as well. The "Have a Go!" strategy requires kids to be accountable for their own spelling. Here is how it works.

After planning, writing, and revising, I ask my students to reread their writing one more time and circle any words that look "fishy" to them. By "fishy" I mean words that they think are spelled wrong, but are unsure about how to spell. Some of the students need help finding all of their misspelled words, but surprisingly most of the children know exactly which words are spelled wrong. They always get better at this with practice.

Next, they copy all of their "fishy" words into the first column of the "Have a Go!" paper. They make three more attempts at spelling each word by visualizing, sounding it out, and thinking about spelling patterns. I encourage them to try it three different ways unless they are certain they figured it out sooner.

At this point, the student brings the "Have a Go" paper to me. I look at each row and put a star next to the correct spelling of each word. If none of the attempts are correct, I give them the correct spelling.

Finally, the student returns to their writing and copies the correct spelling above or below the circled word.

My students have been working on a "how-to" writing project. We brought this writing all the way to publishing.

When the students write their final draft, they feel confident that everything is spelled correctly. I, on the other hand, take some comfort in knowing that they fixed their own spelling more independently.

If you decide to try "Have a Go!" in your classroom, you can easily fold a piece of paper into four columns. If you would like a copy of the "Have a Go!" sheet I use, plus some step-by-step posters for teaching the process, you can get the set here.

Have fun at the sale tomorrow! I am so excited to get some new goodies for my own classroom! :-)

Monday, February 23, 2015

Teachers are Heroes SALE!

Get those wish lists ready! TPT is hosting a one day sale this Wednesday, February 25th! Every product in my store will be 20% off, plus you can receive an additional 10% discount when you enter the TPT promo code: HEROES.

Sale time is a great opportunity to snatch up bundles at a terrific price! I will definitely have a few in my own shopping cart! My Interactive Math Kit Bundle will be $24.50 $17.64 on Wednesday. This set includes all six of my interactive math kits- five lapbooks and an envelope book. That's only $2.94 per kit!

During the last TPT sale, I got so excited with my purchases that I forgot to enter the promo code at checkout! Try your best not to make that mistake!

Remember: Teachers are HEROES!

Sunday, February 22, 2015

The Journey

"Some journeys take you farther from where you come from, but closer to where you belong."
~Ron Franscell

This Saturday was quite an adventure! Despite the impending storm, a group of TPT authors and bloggers from PA, DE, NJ, and NY came together to chat and collaborate. Some came long distances. Snow covered the roads while we were meeting, so it was a very long and tense drive home for most of us. That was the (four hour) view from my car window. Yikes.

While the driving was treacherous, the journey was invaluable.
That's me in the blue stripes on the far right side. :-)

It was truly such an honor to be among these ladies, all so dedicated, creative, and talented. We have all caught the TPT bug. We are all on the journey. We are kindred spirits.

My Teachers Pay Teachers journey started in August of 2013. I had stumbled upon a Deanna Jump video on Pinterest. I think I watched that video thirty times. It just struck a chord within me. Something about that video gave me the courage to give it a try, and I am so, so glad I did. The last year and a half has been so rewarding for me. The TPT community is so supportive and just plain wonderful. It is a place where I fit in and feel valued. I have learned so much and have grown as a teacher in the process. I wake up each day so excited about where this road might take me. Even if the road is snow covered, I will still drive it!

Have a great week everyone and check back tomorrow because I will have some exciting news to share! :-)

Friday, February 20, 2015

T-Shirt Book Reports

Book reports are so much fun these days! From cereal boxes to coffee cans and t-shirts, the possibilities are endless. I am always searching for unique ways to get kids reading and talking about books.

My students have been working on t-shirt book reports this month. They each selected and read an interesting fiction book for this project. Part of the assignment included a short book reporting paper about the characters, setting, problem, and solution. The main part of the project was a decorated t-shirt with title, author, pictures, and words about the book. 

You could just feel the energy as they paraded into the classroom on Thursday morning.  The impromptu book conversations were priceless. Some of the kids were bashful at first, but the majority strutted in proudly, ready to show off their creations. 

Each student gave an informal presentation about their book and t-shirt, while the class listened intently and clapped. Every shirt was so unique and creative! We hung them on a clothes line in our classroom to admire for a while.

If you are interested in trying out t-shirt book reports in your own classroom, the parent explanation letter, book reporting form, and grading rubric are available here as a part of my T-Shirt Book Reporting Project and Rubric Set. Happy book reporting!

Monday, February 16, 2015


Teaching is a thankless job. We pour our hearts out for our students and sometimes even sacrifice our own personal health in the process. That is why just a tiny bit of validation is the perfect treatment for a case of the unappreciated teacher blues.

Some of you know that I have a severe mild obsession with lapbooks. My students learn early on that cutting, pasting, and folding are prerequisites to my class. We make a lapbook or some type of interactive book to accompany just about every topic of study. Lapbooks are such wonderful learning tools, but let's face it. They do require a ton of time to plan, prepare, and implement. Time that is sacrificed after school and at home on nights and weekends. Time and effort that makes you tired, but is worth it in the end.
This, my friends, is a piece of teacher validation that landed on my desk last week. You can probably imagine the delight I experienced when one of my students presented me with this work in process that she had created on her own, at home. This was not an assignment. I repeat. It was not an assignment.
Check out the detail work she put into this lapbook! The layout and folds give me a chuckle because they so closely resemble the design and style of the lapbooks I create for my class. Plus, the grubby little fingerprints all over the lapbook (see below) are just precious and are a true testament to the hard work put in by this student, during her own free time!

It means so much to me that I have impacted a student in this way. This is the exact validation I needed to recharge my batteries for the third marking period.

I am now sending wishes through cyberspace that some validation will land on your desk this week!

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Honoring Our Presidents

I am such a sucker for artwork made by kids. It just makes me happy. I have absolutely no formal training in art. I love to paint and color myself, but could not tell you a thing about technique.This week, after reading about the life and accomplishments of President George Washington and President Abraham Lincoln, I shut the door for some guided drawing in honor of two men who changed our country forever.
Kids are so amazing. Give them an opportunity to draw and color, and unbelievable things will happen. They really never cease to amaze me.
I used my document camera to model the step-by-step drawing of each president, using this fabulous freebie from Kindergarten Planet. The kids took such pride in their work. I could not help but think that George and Abraham were smiling down upon us that day. This bulletin board will surely keep me smiling for the rest of February!

<a href="">Follow my blog with Bloglovin</a>