Thursday, December 12, 2013

Figurative Language Fun Project

Have you used yet?   My students had a great time using it to create figurative language movies this week.  I let them play around on the site for about 20 minutes one day in order to get them excited as well as become familiar with how to use all the features of the site.  They were so excited to start making the movies, they didn't give a thought to the fact that they knew nothing about figurative language yet! 

I made them suffer through actually learning about the different types of figurative language the entire next week.  Day 1, we watched a powerpoint while completing a figurative language guide.  The guides were then glued into our interactive notebooks for later reference.  Day 2, we played "Scoot"  with figurative language cards.  Day 3, we practiced identifying different types of figurative language through reading a "figurative language loaded passage."  Day 4, we read the same passage but worked on interpreting the meaning of the figurative language.  Day 5, we became "experts".  I had each student draw a slip out of a basket.  The slips were labeled with a type of figurative language.  Their assignment was to become the expert on that particular type, and then write a script for a movie in which one character explained it to another character.  They were to include a definition, give three example sentences, and use humor to make it entertaining.  The motivation was to create a movie that a 3rd - 5th grade teacher could use to introduce that type of figurative language to their class. 
After the scripts were written, they were FINALLY ready to go to the computer lab to create their movies.  This took most students about an hour total over the course of two days.  The results were surprising to me.  I teach the struggling readers and sometimes I am disappointed in the quality of projects.  Not this time!  They were really fun to watch, and as a bonus, students helped me grade by listening to be sure each movie had the definition and three examples.  I was able to be done grading as soon as we were done watching. 

I can think of many other uses for  The added motivation of getting to use this fun website really keeps students engaged!  I'm thinking about a way to use it for Social Studies next. 
If you are interested in the figurative language loaded passages....well, they aren't available in my TpT store yet.  My students were very helpful in helping me proofread these, so I have some corrections to make before posting them.  However, they are probably one of my favorite products.  They were a little too challenging for my students, so we completed them with partners.  The conversations as they worked were AWESOME!  I wanted to take pictures of them working so hard.   Everyone was engaged and participating.  It really was one of my favorite moments of this year.  I anticipate having these available soon since a big two week Christmas break is coming up. Enjoy your holidays!

Here is one of my favorite videos.  The author of this video usually meets very little success.  The kids loved hers so much they clapped, which made her day!  She did forget to add several periods, so some of it is hard to understand.  However, that was a lesson in itself in my room.  

animals talking about idioms. by 237841764 on GoAnimate

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Do you have your wishlist loaded up and ready for the big sale?  I know I do.  Monday and Tuesday is the date for Teachers Pay Teachers big Cyber Sale!  Most sellers are offering 20% off their entire store, then TpT will give an extra 10% off when you enter the code "CYBER".  (Don't forget that step!  I always do!)  
I've linked up with the girls at Primary Possibilities.  Check out their links of many of the stores who are offering 20% off.  I can't wait to start out the new year with new resources.  

I am currently working on a Figurative Language introductory powerpoint with the theme of "What Does the Fox Say?"  I am hoping to finish it and get it posted before the sale.  Check out the first two slides.  I love the 3-d clipart I used from Away With the Pixels!  That girls is a talented artist!  Wish me luck on getting this done!  I want it ready for the sale, but even more important, I need it for instruction in my class next week!  Enjoy the weekend and Happy Shopping!  Remember to enter the code CYBER!

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Read 180 - Help!

For the first time in many years, I have a teacher's edition to follow.  Our district has not had an adopted LA curriculum resource for as long as I can remember.  I have been finding and creating my own materials and ideas and have learned to love that freedom.  Again this year, I am teaching the struggling readers in 6th grade.  Our district has decided to implement Read 180 for these students.  It is so weird to have a book to follow!  I may like it, but I haven't decided yet.  I'm looking for anyone who has used this program who can give me tips and tricks to make this successful.  Anybody??

Friday, August 16, 2013

Back to School Calendar

Ready or not, it is that time!  Time to head back to the classroom.  I'm not really ready yet.  I've spent the summer crafting close reading lessons for Learnzillion, so I haven't had my regular pool time yet.  However, today I met my new 6th graders which made me get quite a bit more excited to start a brand new year.  Speaking of a new year, I made myself a cute new calendar for my teacher binder.  I'm repeating last year's polka dot theme in my classroom, so I just had to have a coordinating calendar.  I decided to put the calendar in my Tpt store in several different themes.  Check them out this weekend during the big Teachers Pay Teachers Back to School Sale!  Everything in my store is 20% off, and Tpt is giving an extra 10% off of that if you ENTER THE CODE BTS13!  (I forgot to enter the code last time!)  I know I'll probably spend more than I earn, but I am super excited about this sale.  I have tons of items on my wishlist.  Have a great year!
Pink zebra stripe version 

Calendar is double page spread for tons of room!

Monday, August 5, 2013

Inspirational Video for Starting School

I love starting a new year with new kids.  I'm not always excited to end my summer, but I do love a fresh start.  Today I saw a video which I thought was really inspiring.  I think it might be a great way to start off a new school year.  Yep, gonna use it!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Pinterest Find

Have you seen this pencil sharpener on Pinterest?  
I have looked at this sharpener with a mixture of skepticism and desire for about two years now.  Could it really be that quiet and functional at the same time?  Well, I finally broke down and bought, not one, but a whole 3 pack!  I'm willing to gamble when it is not MY money.  I ordered this on my room order.   And....they arrived before school was out this year!  Oh so exciting!  The verdict......YES!  It is quiet enough to talk over AND it is very effective at the sharpening thing!  I unpacked just one.  My students knew how excited I was by all the squeals and exclamations I was making.  Who would be the first to get to try it out?  Well, me, of course.  So, I demonstrated the process of how to use the sharpener.  The results were oooohhhed and ahhhhhed over for sure.  The only bad thing was that I didn't quite trust the students to use it without supervision.  I found myself going over to supervise every time someone went near the thing.  I'm sure the new will wear off over time.  So, if you have some extra school money to spend, I give this product a big thumbs up!

Monday, June 24, 2013

Summer Slump

Well, I must say I'm kind of ashamed of myself!  I had the delusion that I would do better on my blog during the summer when I had "more time".  As you can see from the date of my last post, that theory has been proven wrong! 
I do have an awesome excuse.  I was selected to the "dream team" for Learnzillion!  I had a fantastic time in San Francisco (all expenses paid!!) learning to create high quality lessons based on the common core standards for their website.  Late this fall, be sure to visit for FREE lessons and text resources.  Each lesson will be created by a talented teacher who will have spent many, many hours delving deeply into the text.  The reading lessons will all be based on text dependent questions, and the writing lessons will also be based on the same text.  Can't wait!  But that's my excuse.  My many, many hours on Learnzillion lessons have occupied most of my time this summer.

My friend, Katie, at "Sparking the Mind" has been doing a much better job keeping her blog up to date and full of terrific teaching tips.  She is celebrating reaching 100 followers on both her blog and her store at TpT.  Her celebration is good news for YOU!  She is throwing a huge giveaway.  Several TpT stores have donated items to be given away, including me.  Head on over to Mind Sparks and get yourself entered.  

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Another Fact/Opinion Activity

Blog post #2 for the day!

We have 19 more days of school!  I know some states and districts are in school much longer, but I'm so glad we're close to the finish line.  I have really enjoyed this year, but I'm ready for summer.  The kids are evidently feeling the same way, which is showing up in their behavior and motivation.  Out of sheer survival instinct, I have been more creative in my lesson planning lately.  (This could possibly be because I've been so busy that I'm kind of flying by the seat of my pants.... I tend to be more creative in those situations!)  However it happened, I actually think it is working to keep kids engaged AND keep my sanity. My secret weapon:  CREATION!  A few days ago, I blogged about students creating screencasts for a lower grade level.  That was a hit!  Talk about student engagement and motivation!  Wow! 

The next thing they created were advertisements using both facts and opinions.  They were able to choose what they were selling.  This could be a service or product.  They were very creative and most chose to create a business like "Ashlee's Nail Salon", something that they would really like to do in real life.  They produced one slide on powerpoint that included at least one picture, a title, and an ad that included at least 3 facts and 3 opinions.  It also was to be persuasive, using persuasive techniques that we studied a while back.  Again, they loved making these ads and were intent while they worked.  The best part..... as I showed them to the class on the projector, the students kept a tally for each ad to assure that there were 3 facts and 3 opinions.  Voila!  Grading done during class!


Cuteness! (and an awesome freebie!)

In honor of my new cute blog (thank you Christi!), I am writing TWO blogposts today!  This first one is a fabulous freebie for anyone who happens to check my blog today ONLY!  I just finished creating an Interactive Fact/Opinion Powerpoint (actually Pdf).  I think it's pretty awesome, if I do say so myself!  Click on over to my Tpt store and get yourself this "free for one day only lesson." I would love it if you would leave some feedback for this item as well.  I would also love to hear what you think of my new blog design!   

Monday, April 15, 2013

Coming Next Week: Extreme Makeover - Blog Edition

I can't wait for this weekend. My blog is getting a makeover! Christi from is making a new custom and cute template for me. I tried to make it cute by myself, but I'm not tech savvy enough to satisfy my cuteness standards. Cuteness matters, you know! My husband does NOT understand this concept. To celebrate the new look, I'll get an awesome blog post ready (including a freebie, of course) with a great tip to share. Come check it out!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Fun Cause/Effect Activity

Has anyone else ever used these commercials for teaching cause/effect?  We had so much fun with this writing activity today. I played a couple of these commercials and had the kids follow along, writing the cause/effect in a graphic organizer.  They loved it!  Next, I had them use a blank graphic organizer to write their own commercial using the same cause/effect format.  Next, they used powerpoint and google images to make the commercial for the class to see.  I think the "get" cause/effect now. 

Friday, April 5, 2013

Tip for Sub Days and Beyond...

Hello everyone!  I hope everyone had a great Easter.  I did!  Our son who is in the Air Force was able to spend some time at home before he deploys to Oman this Saturday.  He drove home so we could store his car, and then we drove him back this week.  Two days off for me!  I'm going to share my sub plans for those two days because it worked so well.  I've recently been introduced to screen casts.  This is probably not new to anyone else, but it is to me. 

I am so in love with this idea that I'm afraid I will overdo it and screen cast everything! I was in the middle of a writing unit, teaching my students to write using the text structures.  I didn't want to stop and do fluff work for two days, so I made a screen cast of my lesson for both days.  The sub reported that students paid attention because they weren't sure if I was "live" on the internet or not.  I loved it because when I got back, all the work was done up to my expectations.

Making a screen cast is easy and free.  I used "screencast o matic", but I know there are others you can use for free as well.  All you do is make your powerpoint or other presentation, open the screencast o matic, and push record.  I went through the powerpoint just as I would as if I were teaching to a live class.  I saved the file to my desktop and labeled it "Monday's screencast".  All the sub had to do was push play and monitor the kids. 

Students follow along with their copy of the article and the interactive notebook pages for writing with text structures. 

Here comes the "beyond" part. When I returned on Wednesday, I admit, I was not prepared for the day.  I wanted to look through the writing they had done instead of teaching.  I had one of those "great idea" moments!  I told the students they would choose one of the text structure paragraphs they had written to make their own screen cast.  They were to "be the teacher" and explain the text structure as if they were teaching to a younger student.  I told them I would pick the top screen cast lesson and send it to a first grade teacher to show their students.  This turned out very well.  They were busy creating their powerpoints the whole period while I looked over their work. 

The quality of their projects were surprisingly awesome!  Remember, I teach the struggling readers.  I was hearing great things from their conversations as they worked.  They were consulting their interactive notebooks to make sure they had used the right definition of the text structure, gearing the language toward first grade, checking their spelling, and worrying if their content was appropriate.  I love it when those "seat of your pants" ideas turn out to be some of the best ideas!

This is a screen cast by one of my students. 

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Spring Cleaning Sale

Happy Easter Everyone!  I decided to participate in the Spring Cleaning Sale at TpT.  Several sellers are throwing a sale this weekend, so I'm joining in by putting everything at a 20% discount.  Hop on over to my store and others and pick out a few items for your own Easter basket.  I borrowed this cute sign from 4th Grade Frolics.  Thanks!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Liebster Award

Well I have been nominated for the Liebster award by Katie from Mind Sparks. She is so darn sweet. She tells me that the Liebster Award is awarded to new bloggers with less than 200 followers.  Well, evidently there are different versions of the rules.  This is what Katie posted.
In order to receive the award the recipient must:
  • Post 11 things about themselves.
  • answer the questions that the tagger set for you, plus create 11 questions for the people you’ve nominated for the award
  • Choose 11 people and link them in your post, and go to their blog and tell them.
  • You can't choose people that have already been chosen! In other words---no tag backs!
So I found "other" rules that say you only need to nominate 3-5 other blogs.  I will get busy looking for 11, but no promises.  Here are my 11 things about me.  (Yawn...)
1.  I've been happily married to my fun husband for 28 years!  That is a long time!!  We were seriously teenagers when we got married.  Thank goodness my own kids are not following us in those footsteps.
2.  Speaking of kids... I have two boys, 22 and 18.  The 18 year old is graduating in a few weeks.  The 22 year old is serving in the Air Force.  He is home right now for a few days, and then he's off to Oman for 6 months.  Boo.
3.  My newest obsession is creating/perfecting activities from my classroom to sell on Teachers Pay Teachers.  I am addicted.  I love all the collaboration between teachers in the forums.  I now have "forum friends". 
4.  My favorite vacation spot is Shell Knob, MO.  We rent the same cabin/house every years, sometimes several times a year, on Tablerock Lake.  Can't wait for the next visit in June.
5.  I love water skiing.  Actually, now I love inland surfing.  That's where you are on a surfboard behind a boat... with no handles!  It is so fun.
6.  I'm like the oldest teacher at my school.  I don't like that and don't feel like it could be true, but it is.
7.  I love yoga.  Hot yoga especially.  Currently working on a new type of headstand.
8.  I use yoga in my classroom when kids look lazy.  
9.  I am a big KU Jayhawk fan during basketball season.  Isn't everyone?  They rock.
10.  I do a cartwheel in my classroom occasionally.  My theory...if you do a cartwheel everyday, you will be able to do one when you are 90.  

My Answers to Katie's questions.
1. What is your favorite book? Why?   The Bible.  It is one book you can read everyday for your whole life and you can still find new applications.

2. Who is your hero and why? (Doesn’t have to be famous).  My friend Linda.  A great teacher and mentor who passed away last year.  Such an inspiration.

3. What is your dream job?  Creating lesson activities and ideas from home.

4. Where would you travel if you could go anywhere? I would love to go to Hawaii.  Anywhere tropical with a luxury resort.

5. If you won the lottery, how would you spend it?  I really think I would give a lot of money to family and friends.  Then I would buy my luxury resort on the tropical island and move in.

6. How would your friends describe you?  Old, haha.  No, probably just strange.

7. What are some of your hobbies?  Reading, cooking, creating lessons
8. Cat or dog? Coke or Pepsi?  Cat (but starting a strange pull towards small dogs) and I could go either way on Diet Coke or Diet Pepsi.  I really don't think I can tell the difference.  Usually I buy Diet Pepsi.

9. What is your most embarrassing moment? When my leg fell asleep during a math class in college.  I got up to sharpen my pencil and splatted!  My friend had an asthma attack from laughing.  Quite a disruption!

10. What is one of your goals in life?  To retire to Tablerock Lake and still be able to surf and ski.  Also, would love to write a book.

11. What is your favorite color?  I just like the "Brights".  All of them together.

My Questions for other bloggers:

1.  What is your favorite "fast food"?
2.  Favorite time of the year and why.
3.  What is your favorite thing to do in your free time?  (what free time?)
4.  E readers or old fashioned books?
5.  What is your favorite comfort food?
6.  Do you work in the summer?
7.  Funniest classroom moment.
8.  Favorite reality show.
9.  What is your classroom pet peeve?
10.  What is the most interesting thing about you?

Blogs I'm nominating:

Adventures in Third Grade

Exploring Third Grade

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Let's Get Acquainted!

Yes, #2 is the lie.  I wasn't tricky at all I guess.  I was just so impressed with myself that I looked up where the Olympics were that year and everything, but I didn't fool you smarties.  I really did win a trip to Rio which was awesome.  I also worked in a tractor store when I quit college (I did return obviously) and met Goober.  I even had to wear HeeHaw overalls.  If you are much younger than me, you probably don't even know what HeeHaw is.  I'm off to other blogs that linked up to see the lies.  Have a good week!

During Spring Break, I've had a fun time finding and reading new blogs.  I came across a fun linky party while visiting Mandy at Caffeine and Lesson Plans.  She had linked up with Latoya at Flying Into First Grade with a Get Acquainted Linky.  Since I want to make some friends in the blogging world, I thought I would join in the fun!  So this week is:

2 Truths and a Lie
How it Works:
Think of 3 things about yourself or your life. You should make 2 of them truths and 1 of them a lie. You can list them on your post in any order. Do NOT give the answer yet in your post. People will try guess your lie in your in the comments of your post. So remember to be very creative so that it is hard for people to get it right. At the end of the week you can share the answer in your comments from the post or include it in a post you make at the end of the week.

Here are mine:

1. I once won an all expenses paid trip to Rio De Janeiro, Brazil.

2. I was the silver medalist in downhill skiing in the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan.

3. I once met George Lindsay (Goober from Mayberry!) while working in a Tractor Supply Store.

I have to say, I think I did a pretty good job disguising the lie.  Take your guesses!

Get off the Escalator!

Have you seen this video?  Have you shown it to your class?  I've shown this to my classes for the past few years.  I just get so frustrated with students not thinking on their own to solve problems.  I've seriously had kids come up to ask me what to do with a piece of trash they found under their desk!  Of course after showing the video you should have a discussion about what types of things are "worthy" of asking the teacher and what types of things they could figure out on their own.  I try to be careful not to make students scared to come ask me a question.  I don't want to send the wrong message that they shouldn't need to ask me any questions.  How do you get students to take initiative and problem solve?  I'd love to hear some suggestions!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Website Wednesday

OK, I'm stealing borrowing the Website Wednesday idea from my friend Katie from Mind Sparks. If you haven't tried the Learnzillion website, do that today.  There are three reasons why I heart this site. 

1.  It is free and probably always will be.  (I hate it when they hook you in for free and then start charging.  Not to name names, but....Glogster!)

2. You can search lessons by Common Core standard. 

3.  The lessons are ready to use slideshow/videos and are streamlined and simple.

4.  You can assign students certain lessons as homework (or as a center) by simply giving them a code to use.

I guess there are MORE than 3 reasons I love this site. 

I have applied to be part of their "dream team" of teachers who will be creating the next 4,000 lessons for the site.  When do I find out if I was chosen?  Today!  Sadly, I haven't found out yet.  I'm breaking out in a rash while I sit and wait for that email.  Regardless if I make it, you should go check it out.  Be sure to click on the "Common Core Navigator".  That is the best way I have found to understand how the site is set up.  Have a great Wednesday!


Monday, March 18, 2013

Spring Break

Get your coupons here!
Hello everyone!  I made it to Spring Break!  Why is it that the days leading up to a break are so mega stressful?  It seems like I finally make it through those tough days, only to get sick during my break.  This time, it is a rash...on my face!  Ugh!  At least I have a few days off to recuperate my face without having to put on makeup.  We are now in the countdown until the last day of school.  In my district, we have only 8 weeks to go after we return. I want to enjoy the rest of this year and not just "wish it away".  I love my homeroom class and know that I will miss them next year.  So, in order to do that, I'm challenging myself to focus on the positive behaviors instead of getting sucked in to the negative.  As a reminder (and I need all of those that I can get!), I'm going to print one of these Pinterest inspired "Caught Being Good" coupon sheets every day.  My goal is to give all the coupons out by the end of the day by looking for the students who do those positive little things that too often go unnoticed.   Feel free to download one for yourself...FREE!  I'm still not blog savvy enough to know how to make it so that you can just download it from this page, so you will have to go through my TpT store.  I WILL learn that this summer. :)  How do you stay positive right to the end?

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Pick Me Up Freebie

Well it's the end of the weekend. Sadness.  But on the bright side, spring break is only four long days away.  I'm posting because I'm procrastinating about going to bed. Going to bed means the weekend is officially over, and the next thing I know it will be Monday!  This Monday I am particularly not looking forward to for three reasons. 

 1.  Time change- I cannot get used to the spring time change -EVER.
 2.  Conferences tomorrow night - I'm already going to be exhausted before   I start. 
3.  It is the last day to prepare my kids for state assessments.

I'm sure it will be a much better day than I'm imagining right now.  I know, it sounds like I'm writing a downer blog post.  Who wants to read those?  So to adjust my negative attitude towards the upcoming week, I'm giving away a fun freebie.  These are binder covers you can print and insert into your own binders.  I've made one for a LESSON PLAN binder in three different colors.  Another one is for Aimsweb Data (if you use Aimsweb, there are two colors to choose from), and one for Dibels Data (not pictured, but trust me, it's there.)  These are in separate files, so you get all of them for free, but you can choose which ones you want to print.  I know it's silly, but just having a colorful, cheery cover on my lesson plans sitting on my desk each morning makes me smile.  It's the small things.  Enjoy!  
P.S. - Click on the "free" to go to my TpT store to get these.  I'll try to figure out how to make them available from my blog eventually!

Hop over to my store to get these freebies!

Monday, March 4, 2013

Task Card Mania

Is anyone else getting nervous about state assessments?  I hate this time of year.  Even though I tell myself I've done all I can to prepare my kids, I still get myself all worked up!  We take our assessments next week.  This week I'm spending each day reviewing one standard.  I spent most of my weekend creating task cards to use for our review week.  Today, we played "Scoot" with author's purpose cards.  This turned out to be a lot of fun!  My students, as I've mentioned before, are struggling readers in 6th grade.  I've discovered that the more movement I can allow, the better they focus.  Sometimes it takes me awhile to figure these things out! :)  Anyway, today was a good day and I feel just that much closer to having the kids ready for their state assessments. 

If you haven't played "Scoot", the procedure is simple.  Place a task card at each desk, and form a traffic pattern.  Make sure the students KNOW this traffic pattern.  (Yes, I'm speaking from experience.  It's not near as much fun when people start whining "I've already been to this desk...")  Give each student a recording sheet.  They read the card and write the answer on their recording sheet before you say "Scoot".  I usually give them 30 seconds, depending on the amount of text on the cards.  Each time you say "Scoot", they pick up their pencil and recording sheet and move to the next desk.  This continues until they get back to their original desk. 

These task cards can also be used in a literacy center, as I have included a sorting mat and answer key for self checking with each set.  So far I have created a set for author's purpose, similie/metaphor, fact and opinion, and text structure.  As much as my kids loved the activity, I'm definitely going to be making more sets.  - Follow this link or the my store button on the side if you are interested in purchasing any of these card sets.  I also created interactive notebook pages for the kids to glue into their composition books.  The kids took their notebooks around the room with them as a reference to use while completing the cards.  I don't have one for each set yet, but the text structure and author's purpose really came in handy during this game.

The top right shows the interactive notebook pages that go with the author's purpose cards.  I printed the cards in color this time, and I felt like the students were more "into it" than yesterday, when I printed the text structure cards in black and white. 
I forgot to give my morning class the interactive notebook pages before we did the game.  They needed a reference, so I just projected the page up on the screen.  I had actually done that to teach the concept too.  For the afternoon, I had students glue the page into their notebooks.  That worked much easier. 

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Wow!  What a great giveaway!  Head on over to Teaching and Tapas blog to enter this giveaway.  There are tons of products for Kindergarten through 5th grade.  Better hurry, March 3 is the deadline.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Wow, it's been three weeks since I've done anything on my blog!  In a good way, I've been very busy!  I was fortunate to be nominated for Kansas Teacher of the Year.  This is very flattering, but it takes so much work to complete the nomination form.  I find it hard to complete, knowing I am not doing anything different than what almost all teachers do every day.  I recently started reading through the Teachers Pay Teachers sellers' forum.  When I see all of these awesome teachers and their creative ideas, it makes me think that I am unworthy of this honor.  I will get it done though!  My blog may feel a little neglected for a little while.

The other things that has been taking my time is applying to Learnzillion as a Dream Team Teacher.  If you haven't visited this site, you should.  Teachers from around the country have created thousands of video/powerpoint lessons all aligned with the Common Core.  For reading, there are anchor texts that each lesson is based on.  The best part... everything is FREE!  They are currently choosing 200 more teachers to develop more lessons.  The application is quite lengthy and includes making a sample lesson in the Learnzillion format.  Another time sucker!  I will get it done though!  (Sounds familiar!)

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Hey Everyone!  Need some new lessons and activities to make it through the long winter stretch?  Most Teachers Pay Teachers stores are having a HUGE sale this weekend in honor of the Super Bowl.  Most sellers are marking down  20% which is the maximum allowed.  TpT is offering 10% more off of that price!  That ends up being 28% off many great products.  If you have wishlisted some items, now is the time to check out.  My sale starts tomorrow and goes through Sunday.  Please visit and become a follower!  The extra 10% from TpT requires the promo code "Super" and is for Sunday only. 


Sunday, January 27, 2013

Freebie Linky Party

It's almost February!  Unbelievable how fast the year goes.  Anyway, I linked up with All Things Upper Elementary  for a Freebie Linky Party.  So far, there are 54 freebies to be shared!  My contribution is a set of free blank game boards.  I use these for sight word, prefix/suffix, and figurative language practice in a center or small group, but they could be used in any subject.  Check out all the freebies on this site. Please don't forget to leave feedback and comments for the freebies you share.
Free blank game boards!

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Complex Text - The Leanin' Dog by K.A. Nuzum

Leanin' Dog unit
I'm excited to start a new novel unit with my class next week.  Since I'm teaching level 1 in our differentiated model, I'm a little nervous about using this novel, The Leanin' Dog.  I've used it every year and loved it.  The text is rich and complex, with a lot of figurative language, deep themes and antiquated vocabulary.  I know it will be quite a challenge for my students, but it will be a good experience for them to persist through it.  I will definitely need to scaffold the instruction.  I added my unit to my TpT store for purchase.  I spent quite a bit of time revamping this unit to align with the CCSS.  If you purchase and use this unit, be sure to visit the author's website.  She features a monthly poetry contest.  She seems to publish all poems that are sent in, and sends a Leanin' Dog Tshirt to the winner.  This is a great motivator for students.  Another great thing is that the author actually emailed me!  (so exciting -she's FAMOUS!!)  I had a student enter the contest and didn't include her name.  I couldn't believe K.A. Nuzum actually took the time to email me to see if she was one of my students.  Love that!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Clutter Free Project - Week 2 (a little late!)

This is my way of doing things recently - late!  Actually, I'm not even sure if it is week 2 or week 3 of this project.  Better late than never.  This week's challenge is to come up with a plan for getting rid of the clutter.  I tried to get a jump on the clutter, but I ran into some problems.  I didn't have rules for myself.  This week's challenge should help me on my next endeavor.  So, my new rules for the next area I attack are:

1.  Throw away extra copies that I think I should save for next year.  I'll never find them when I need them anyway!
2.  If I can't put it in an organized binder, throw it away or make a digital copy and then throw it away.
3.  Speaking of digital copies, maybe I should start by decluttering the computer.  My files are a mess.  Now I need to make some computer cleaning rules.
4.  If I haven't used it since I moved into my classroom, throw it away!

Better get busy!

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Successful lesson alert!  I'm using the Harvey & Goudvis Comprehension Toolkit in my Lang. Arts class.  The focus in this lesson was questioning the text as we read.  My students, like I have said before, are the "level 1" students in our differentiated model.  They struggle with decoding, so comprehension is definitely a struggle.  The H & G lesson suggested reading "The Mary Celeste, An Unsolved Mystery From History" by Jane Yolen.  The text was far above my kids' reading levels, but we did this as a read aloud.  I modeled my thinking and questioning, and then gave the kids this interactive notebook sheet to follow along with my reading.  We worked together as a class to ask questions and to notice when our questions were answered.  Next, they tried it on their own, while I paused at the end of each page to allow for them to write down any questions they had, or any answers they had noticed.  The lesson became successful for me, when I noticed students (not all) using the strategy while reading another book on their own reading level.  One student even recreated the format in her notebook and was using it to track her questions and answers!  I have to celebrate the small things!  Somedays this level tests my patience, but the rewards are great!                                                                                                        Interactive Notebook - Questioning the Text

Tuesday, January 15, 2013


Fridays are Wikispaces days in my ELA classes this year.  Our school differentiates for Reading and Math.  I teach the "level one" class which has been quite a challenge for me, but very rewarding on most days.  Everyone in my class receives progress monitoring every other week, and many once a week, I have started using Wikispaces as a way to create time for me to do the progress monitoring, while at the same time providing a fun, creative thinking type project for students to work on during those days.  I got the idea from a blog somewhere two summers ago.  I feel bad, because I can't remember which blog I got this from to give them credit!

Each student created a "homework" page on his/her individual Wiki.  I spend a little time on the day before introducing a web tool such as ToonDoo, Pixton, Glogster, Voki, etc. I make sure they know how to access the site, how to use the tools and how to save.  Then on Friday, I quickly give them an assignment to complete with the web tool.  One example we have done is to explain the conflict in the story in a three panel cartoon.  While I am out progress monitoring for fluency and comprehension, they work on this project with my para in the classroom.  When they finish, they embed the "widget" on their Wikispace.  I can grade it from there, and as a bonus, their parents can look at these from home. 

If it is something you could use, feel free to copy and paste anything you find onto your own Wikispace.  These are free for students and have such a wide application.  It's easy to create bulk users so that each of your students can have their very own.  I created a student notebook "cheat sheet" as a reminder of how to embed a widget, as well as a password file in which to keep all their log in information for different sites we may use.  You can download these for free if interested. 
Visit our Wikispaces: