Monday, June 30, 2014

Monday Meet Up & Made It

I'm linking up with The Teaching Tribune Monday Meet Up for my first week of her linky parties (even though it's the 5th week of the linky... can't believe some people have been on summer vacation that long!)

I'm also linking up with 4th Grade Frolics for Monday Made It. I don't think I've linked up here since last summer!

Here is my Monday Meet Up... this week is 3 things you are thankful for.

Now onto Monday Made it...

For my Monday Made It, I made canvas photos with canvases from Hobby Lobby, printed photos, a thick paint brush & ModgePodge. The project was super easy!

First print out 8x10 pictures.
I used 8x8 canvases this time so the whole canvas would be filled with a picture. The last set I used 10x10 which leaves a border on 2 sides of the pictures (which looks great but wasn't what I wanted this time)
**Make sure you print onto regular paper or the modge podge won't work as well or look as nice.**

Next, put a layer of modge podge on the canvases. Don't forget the edges of the canvas if your photo will be overlapping. I highly recommend putting newspaper below your work so you don't get modge podge everywhere.

Once the canvas is covered in modge podge, carefully lay the photos out how you'd like them. You might want to precut the pictures. I like to cut once the picture is centered on the canvas so the picture overlaps nicely onto the edges of the canvas.

Then, put modge podge over the the top of the photos. Do this carefully so you don't tear the photo. You want to have a pretty thick coat that looks like this (picture above).

Finally, let it dry & hang your beautiful projects up. They take a while to dry so I haven't hung mine up yet... (the picture above is about 2 hours later)  below is a picture of the finished products, still not fully dried but enough dried that the modge podge is clear... I'm hoping the bumps will settle as they continue to dry since my last set didn't have bumps!

Have a happy Monday!

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Friday, June 27, 2014

Summertime Linky

First link up of my summer... Linking up with Doodlebugs for Five for Friday, Teaching Blog Addict for Freebie Friday & A Classroom Full of Smiles for #teacherslovesummer :)
Scroll down to #5 for a spelling freebie!


Check out my post from earlier this week about my experience at the Whole Brain Teaching National Conference!


I've spent as many days at the beach as not at the beach... true my summer has only consisted of 4 days, but I'm pretty happy about it :) And I already have 2 beach days next week, LOVE living a mile from the beach :)


I'm also linking up with A Classroom Full of Smiles (a little late) to share my 3 summer goals!

#1 Take June & July off! The last 2 years I've had to set up my classroom from the ground up and spent nearly my entire summer in my classroom doing just that. This year I get to stay in the same district & the same room... which means far less work! Sure I'll do my computer, blog, TPT stuff, but not a foot into the classroom until August 1st! I'll let you know how that goes :-P

#2 Relax on the beach at least 2 times a week! DONE for this week, hopefully I can keep it up!

#3 Run at least 4 days a week all summer (then continue into the school year!) I'm on track for a 6-day week, hopefully I can stay that motivated ALL summer!


I spent a lot of time with Mrs. R. today making a presentation for when we share Whole Brain Teaching with our colleagues. I was so excited to find this youtube channel full of WBT videos that use my WBT rules & procedures posters! The teachers who made the videos even gave my TPT store credit. So exciting :) If you'd like to see some WBT in action, check out the youtube channel here.


I'm trying to do both "professional" and "enjoyment" reading this summer... I just finished Rules of Civility which was FABULOUS & downloaded the sequel Eve in Hollywood because it is ONLY available on Kindle or in iBooks!

In the teacher world, I'm just starting the Fountas & Pinnell phonics to help me create a spelling program for our grade level team. We will also be using Words their Way. If anyone has some suggestions for creating a spelling program I would love it!

I created spelling choice boards to use next year which you can find on my TPT store.

I also created this freebie for kiddos to correct and grade their own spelling tests.

Have a fabulous summer weekend :)

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Sunday, June 22, 2014

WBT National Conference

As you may know I was able to attend the Whole Brain Teaching National Conference 2014 in Pineville, Louisiana this past week, despite it meaning I missed every day of the last week of school except the very last day.

So that meant, I got in Thursday, relaxed for a bit with the hubby, dug for clothes that were clean & wearable for the last day of school then fell asleep only to wake up for the craziness that is the last day of school. It has seriously taken me until today to feel somewhat refreshed... but (un)lucky me we have a make-up PD tomorrow, so it's not summer quite yet :(

So anyway, back to Louisiana, Mrs. R (remember her from my Daily 5 posts? here & here) another teacher from her school & I flew to New Orleans Friday night, spent the weekend there, then drove to Pineville for the 3-day National Conference. I'm gonna have to say Cafe DuMonde was definitely a highlight of the Pre-Conference mini-vacation!

 Oh & holding a baby alligator on our swamp tour just outside of New Orleans was a VERY close 2nd!

But, back on topic... Here's the 3 of us with Chris Biffle, the founder of WBT!

We learned a lot, had a ton of fun and have way too many ideas for next year! We all joked that we wished the new school year started next week so we could use all we learned! (But let's be honest, I'm not giving up my summer!)

 I'm going to give you a little overview of our 3 days as well as a few of my take-aways. I hope to do 1 WBT post a week throughout the summer to share even more from the conference!

[Day 1]
Classroom & Behavior Management

Mrs. R & I decided to go to the "advanced" class during breakout because we have both been using the behavior management strategies that are a part of WBT for over a year (2 years for Mrs. R & about a year and a half for me). Our prize for being brave enough to go to the advanced class was getting about 4 hours in a classroom with 30 or so teachers and Chris Biffle "Coach B" as our instructor.

Coach B is SO high energy that we were EXHAUSTED & earned ourselves some pool time when we got back to our hotel haha!

We learned a lot about super improvers (Mrs. R. used it but not as effectively as she would have liked and I have been wanting to start using it & will this coming year!)

We also learned a whole bunch about brainies which are gestures students can use when talking in class to improve their critical thinking. The brainies stand for words such as: because, however, in addition, and, for example & TONS more. I can't wait to use those with my kiddos for both critical thinking & oral writing next year. I will definitely do a post dedicated to brainies this summer.

We learned a ton more, but we'll save it for a later day!

[Day 2]
WBT Writing

Between Coach B & grade level breakouts, we learned more about the Brainies I talked about in Day 1, and how using those brainies helps kiddos improve their writing. I was BLOWN AWAY by this video of kindergarteners using brainies during oral writing and further BLOWN AWAY by the writing they were able to come up with at the end of the year... WOW! It is a long video, but it is well worth every second of the 25 minutes if you are a K teacher, want to use WBT, etc.

[Day 3]
WBT Lesson Planning
Although I TRY really hard to stick to this format of teaching, especially when introducing something new, I really want to get better at it, so day 3 made me feel more confident moving forward next year.

As one of my TEAM modules for beginning teachers in CT, I focused on using the 5 step lesson template to plan a math unit. It really forced me to decide on any gestures, examples and QT (quick test) questions ahead of time (rather than on the spot & by the seat of my pants while teaching). Sadly, after completing that module, I didn't stick with using the template. However, after a day filled with the importance of shortened teacher talk time and using this type of format to present information to students, I'm revived and ready to use these steps next year.

For my TEAM module, I created this easy template, click the picture below to get your copy. If you're new to WBT I promise to post more about the lesson template this summer, so that it makes more sense :)

Mrs. R & I are getting together later this week to do some note sharing and creating of WBT things for our classrooms next year, so definitely stay tuned as I will be sharing some of those resources (for free!) as well as going more in depth about some of what I learned at the conference.

But before I go... 3 big take-aways from the conference.

#1 Coach B has the most energy out of ANY teacher I've EVER met!

#2 I am getting rid of my clip chart!!! As scary as I thought this would feel I am BEYOND excited to take it down and never put it back up! I'll be posting soon about the Super Improvers Wall & Practice Cards that will be WAY better than ANY clip chart!

Read more about "divorcing" your clip chart on Mrs. Shipley's Classroom here. Mrs. Shipley is the first grade leader for the WBT team so she was presenting at the WBT National Conference, wooh!

#3 Loud=OKAY! The past year and a half I spent a lot of time asking my kiddos to use whisper voices during "teach-okay" and although sometimes that kind of quiet tone in the room is a GOOD thing (& oh so necessary when Mrs. K has not had enough coffee hehe), these kiddos need to just GET IT OUT! And what better way for them to get that loud, crazy, fun energy out than through on-task learning. Mrs. A better get ready for some LOUD NOISE coming out of my room and across the hall next year... maybe I'll close my door a little more often ;)

Hope you're as excited as I am for more WBT posts as the summer moves forward!!!

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Friday, June 13, 2014

Five for Friday, 1 week until summer!

I haven't linked up to Five for Friday in a few weeks which is pretty rare for me this school year! If you want to see what I've been up to (my end of year checklist) go check out my post earlier this week here.

I'm also linking up with Teaching Blog Addict for Freebie Friday. Scroll down to #5 for a classroom volunteer freebie!
[one] Tie Dye!
Remember a few weeks ago when we tie dyed? Well last week at Challenge Day (field day) we rocked our shirts! We also rocked them (if we remembered) on our field trip yesterday (see #5). Challenge Day was such a fun day and hands down the most organized field day I've ever attended (comparing to 2 other districts)

The shirts came out pretty awesome and all 3 second grade classes looked just a little different which was neat to see!

[two] Author's Purpose
I LOVE teaching author's purpose mostly because this craft is just too cute! Although I 'indirectly' teach author's purpose all year, making sure the kiddos can say why they think the author wrote it or why the author made certain choices, the last 2 years towards the end of the year I've done a set of very explicit lessons where we make these on the first day. I found this craft here last year.

Author's purpose is also one of the only anchor charts I have laminated to use year after year. I love anchor charts when kiddos help make them either by giving ideas or literally writing on them, but no matter how hard I would try, I'm almost positive my kiddos would not come up with P.I.E. for author's purpose so I use it as a kick off to the craft instead.

[three] Father's Day!
I always feel bad for the dads because many times they get left out of the "cute crafts made by their kids" game because Father's Day is usually after school gets out. I still try to do a craft when we won't be in school for Father's Day (we made tickets for dad last year) but this year it was a must because we are in school the week before and after Father's Day.

I found this ADORABLE craft for dads on Emily's facebook freebie page. Go check out her blog, I Love My Classroom and follow her on facebook to grab this cute freebie (maybe for next year!). My kiddos were SO into this, making it look great for dad :)

[four] Field Trip!
We went on our end of year field trip yesterday to the CT Science Center... had SO much fun with my grade level partners. They're the best!

On our way home we checked out a cool butterfly exhibit!

[five] Volunteer Gifts!
Since I will be gone at the WBT National Conference most of next week, I had to catch my volunteers this week. Thanks to the brilliance of the 3rd grade teacher across the hall, these ended up looking WAY better than originally (she suggested wrapping them in tissue paper).

If you'd like a copy of the tag without volunteer names, find it here or on the picture link below. If you'd like me to add names leave your email address in the comments and I'll be happy to get in touch and get those tags to you ASAP :)

When you hear from my again I'll either be at the WBT National Conference or just home from it!!! So beyond excited :)

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Monday, June 9, 2014

A Little Update

Wow I just realized that I have disappeared from the blogging world for a good 2 plus weeks now! I usually am pretty good about at least linking up with Five for Friday or another linky party during the week, but the past few weeks, not so much!

All the craziness that has prevented me from posting is some of what I'm sharing in today's post.

We have 2 weeks of school (including this week) left and oh man there's a lot to do! What's on your end of year count down checklist?

[one] Report cards! I don't know about you, but our district uses powerschool for report cards. As much as I like powerschool, I really wish our report cards defaulted to proficient (on our scale of NI - not instructed (at this time), T - time needed, P - proficient and M - mastery) because clicking on every single field is a pain! Even after my grade level partners taught me how to put everything to P via the summary mode I still find it a pain as I have to click [tab] [down arrow] [down arrow] wayyyy too many times! Oh AND the comments... our district does personalized comments for every child, none of those numbers I remember as a kid. I always put my comments into a word document as a safety but then all the copying and pasting, oy vey! What does your district use for report cards?

[two] Literacy folders. I will admit that I spend very little time [if any time at all] looking at my kiddos scores from the previous year. I like to be able to gauge where they are and not over or underestimate my kiddos. However, in order to keep our kiddos' files up to date, all their literacy info (DRA assessments and writing samples) travel with them to third grade. I learned that my filing system was anything but efficient this year and next year DRAs will go straight into the literacy file so I don't have to dig through their file full of other assessments to pull out DRAs... live and learn!

[three] Alert slips. In my district we have alert sheets for kiddos who next year's teachers should be aware of. Whether it be an academic problem, behavior problem or anything else, they go on these sheets. I'm interested to know how people feel about these. We had something similar in my previous district as well. While I do read them, I like to give myself a week or two to make my own opinions of my kiddos because I hate to think of approaching them with anything but an open mind.

[four] Sub plans. This is a biggie. I leave on Friday for the Whole Brain Teaching National Conference. I am SO excited but because we aren't out of school until next Friday (the 20th) I had 4 days of lesson plans to write. Luckily I already know I have an awesome sub AND wrote the plans about 2 weeks ago so I could start all the copying that is needed for all the fun "crafty" activities they'll get to do during the days I'm gone.

[five] End of Year Conferences. This is another area I'd love to hear about how your district is similar or different. Our non-tenured teachers are on a new evaluation plan. I'm not sure how it works in other states but in CT, districts have a choice of going with the state-made model of evaluation or creating their own (which I believe then has to be approved by the state). We are guinea pigs this year and using bloomboard for all our observation paperwork, year's goals, etc. Does anyone else use bloomboard? I feel like I haven't spent enough time getting to "know" the system and was not able to use it to its full potential. Anyone have any advice?

[six] End of year gifts for kiddos & parent volunteers. I have all the goodies for my kiddos, I'm going to do the "have a kool summer" with kool-aid, cup and straw that has been popular on pinterest for the kiddos. I found a tag I liked from Just Another Day in Paradise. Click the picture to go to her post. For parent volunteers I'm going to buy them a small potted plant with a sign that says "thanks for helping us grow." I guess I'm into corny sayings. I'm also going to put the year in pictures on discs for each family to enjoy.

[seven] PACK! Self explanatory... I have less than 4 days to get my act together (and do some laundry) so I have clothes to wear in Louisiana!

I'm pretty sure I have about ten million other things I need to do in the next 2 weeks, but I won't bore you! I'd LOVE to hear what the end of the year looks like for you as well as how you approach kiddo's files, alert-type papers, etc. Also, any bloomboarders? I would LOVE to hear about how you use bloomboard!

Have a wonderful week! Hoping to be back with Five for Friday to share what the kiddos have been up to over the past couple weeks.

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