Monday, March 30, 2015

Ninja Bunnies...TPT Sale

Are you ready for a sale?! Brenda Frady from Primary Inspired has organized a $1 sale on TPT. Don't miss out on these awesome deals!

Comment below and let me know what great deal you found! Hoppy Happy Shopping!!!


Sunday, March 29, 2015

The Land of Stories: The Wishing Spell

You can follow Tracy at her new blog: The Knit Wit Teacher

Age Appropriateness: 3rd - 5th Grade

Plot: The Wishing Spell details the accounts of Alex and Conner, a  pair of boy/girl 11 year old twins. Alex is the teacher's pet while Conner could care less about what is going on in the classroom. Part of this divide come from the twins dealing with the death of their father. As they struggle with their new life we learn about how their dad was the story teller of the family and could always make them feel better by telling stories he loved from their Grandmother's book, The Land of Stories. 

On the twin's 12th birthday their grandmother gives them the beloved book. But all is not what it seems. Alex and Conner soon find themselves inside the story without a way out. Following the advice of Froggy the twins start on a journey to gather ingredients for a spell that will grant them 1 wish. The twins plan to use the wish to get home. Gathering the items is not easy and the twins find themselves overcoming many obstacles. 

The story moves quickly through the fairy tale kingdom and you soon find yourself at the end of the story where Alex and Conner discover a surprise. 

Classroom Use: The Wishing Spell is fantastic for a read aloud or as a introductory to bigger chapter books. At 464 pages (paperback edition) this book may look daunting for some students but it's an easy read. Students will be familiar enough with the characters in the story that they can follow it without getting lost. 

Teacher Comments: The Wishing Spell is a good read but it does have some issues. The overuse of similes gets old after a while and some of the word choice makes me think a thesaurus was in use without really thinking about the flow of the story.  I found the Goblins a bit tedious but even considering this, your students will enjoy this book. 

While I found the ending predictable the majority of my students did not. They were surprised about the book's owner and were anxious to begin the next book. 

While my students didn't comment on it, I did find it annoying the Alex and Connor were both boy names. This could make it confusing for your students to keep track of who's who. 

Series or Stand Alone: Series

Book 1: The Land of Stories: The Wishing Spell 
Book 2: The Land of Stories: The Enchantress Returns
Book 3: The Land of Stories: A Grimm Warning
Book 4: Coming July 2015

AR Level: 5.0    15 Points

Saturday, March 28, 2015


You can follow Tracy at her new blog: The Knit Wit Teacher

Can we just say WOW! The Spring Teacher Blogger Meet Up was AmAzInG! 
Talk about being INSPIRED.

We had a neat "Getting to Know" you activity where we filled in the letters on our tables.  Each person at the table wrote their name, their blog, a word to describe themselves, and their favorite subject to teach. At the end we realized we made the INSPIRATION! motto for the meet up.

Our table, which consisted of several SCSD2 teachers

didn't have a letter so we paired up with different tables. Michelle and I were lucky enough to join the Letter R table.

Shout out to the Letter R group. Nicest group of ladies you'll ever meet.

Heather from Smack Dab in the Middle along with Jenny from Luckeyfrog's Lilypad were both in attendance at the R table and I must say that while I've stalked admired them from afar, meeting them made me realize how nice and approachable they both were. Thanks for being kind ladies. I wish I had gotten to spend more time with you both!

During the gift swap we met some amazing 4th and 5th grade teachers. Teachers brought their favorite classroom tools to swap. There was everything from task card holders to stapleless staplers, such neat ideas!!  I wish I had hours to talk with these ladies. They were all easy to talk to and full of ideas. I could have spent hours just sitting in this circle picking their brains. 

We also had the opportunity to go to Breakaway and Question Groups.  Amanda Wilp from the Primary Gal and Brenda Frady from Primary Inspired did a great job of showing 
us how to use Social Media to showcase ourselves.  

One great suggestion they gave was to organize our Pinterest boards. Check out Amanda's boards. Aren't they beautiful!!!??

I've slowly started to organize mine....It's a work in progress. I haven't made cute covers yet, but it's my next step!

To wrap up the day we participated in Giveaways!!!! Yay!  Each attendee was given 5 tickets to drop into a bag representing an item. We had to spread out our tickets and deciding on an which 5 items we wanted a chance to win was tricky!

Check out these amazing prizes!

And the amazing thing is.... I won! Not only did I win, I won TWICE!!!!!!!!!! I never win raffles and to hear my name called TWICE made me want to jump up and down!!! 

The first giveway I won was free registration to an SDE conference! Now I just need to decide which one I want to go to! I love the SDE conferences. 

And the WOW gift was a HUE HD document camera!!!! How freaking AWESOME is that!!!!! Michelle and I are scheduled to present around the state this summer so the camera 
will be very beneficial!

Anyone attending the eRevolution conference, WISE conference, the iPossibilities conference or Digipalooza? Come find us if you are!!!

To top the day off we received a TON of Giveaways! 

We had stuff from Vera Bradley (the reusable bags), Lakeshore (reusable bag), Erin Condren (planners), Scentos (the pens, markers, and stickers), and goodies from Teacher Created. 

I felt like a member of the Oprah audience when Holly announced everyone was receiving an Erin Condren calendar. One for you, One for you, and One for you! Talk about excitement! 

After dinner we had a PJ Party! I felt like I was in High School again! 

 At the PJ party, we had TPT stickers and lanyards from GoNoodle. I love how all of these amazing companies gave so that we could have this Meet Up! Talk about feeling the love. Every teacher in attendance felt the love. 

The weekend was full of great inspiration and side splitting laughter! Almost running out of gas, waking up our entire floor playing Heads Up!, and late night ice cream all provided unforgettable memories. Being surrounded by teachers who share the same passion as you for teaching was so refreshing, and just what was needed during this busy push to the end of the school year. A perfect weekend in so many ways!

Would YOU like the chance to win some amazing swag? You can win the same amazing products that we received!! You don't want to miss this!! Click the Rafflecopter Giveaway below for your chance to win! 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Shout out to everyone involved in organizing and running the Meet Up. I can't wait for next year!


An InLinkz Link-up

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Tips&Tricks - Teacher Survival Lesson 2

   Today was one of those days! That day that goes 100mph from start to finish. By 3:00 you realize you haven't sat down, much less had a restroom break! I'm sure many of you are having the same issues between snow days earlier in the month and Spring Break on the horizon.

   With a class of 30 this year, I just don't have enough time in the day. Thirty different kids, thirty different levels, thirty different needs. 

   The thought can be overwhelming.  I have had to develop many time saving tips this year. The biggest one was learning that technology can be used in so many ways to help the students AND the teacher.

   Lately the best app that I have used in a variety of ways is EduCreations.

If you don't have this app, GET IT! The basic version is FREE!! It doesn't get better than that. Here are a few ways that I use it in my 1:1 classroom:

1. As a Whiteboard:

   No need to take the time to get out all the supplies! By the time all of my students found their marker and eraser, I was already 10 minutes into my lesson. My class has used this when doing a quick math facts check to locating nouns and verbs in a sentence. Have them hold the answer up on their iPads and "Voila" lesson complete!

2. Informal/Formal Assessments:

   EduCreations gives you the option to set up a class. I highly recommend you do! It is still free and it allows you to have many more uses in the classroom. It takes a few minutes to manually enter your class and set up usernames, but it is well worth it!!! The advantage of having a class is that you gain access to student videos. ANYTHING they create and save is stored under their name. All I have to do is click on their name and I can pull anything I have asked them to create!

   In Grammar students loaded a picture into EduCreations from their camera roll. They were then instructed to write a complete sentence using one color for the subject and another color for the predicate. I could quickly walk around and see who had grasped the concept or look back under their names later that night!

  We have also used this many times in math. I absolutely LOVE being able to hear their thinking as they are working out a problem! The ability to actually hear their thought process is priceless and has saved countless time when trying to figure out why students are making mistakes!! Here are some examples of our comparing fractions lesson. As you can see from the videos, work is easily differentiated to fit student needs!

3. Fluency Checks: always comes down to time. I would love to do fluency checks for all my students every week. I would love to have the time to do half a week. I don't! So...students record themselves reading on EduCreations. They can take a picture of the text, and then record as they read. This provides great opportunities: the ability for me to do a running record based on their recording during my free time, and the ability for students to then listen to their recordings and reflect on what they do well and what they need to improve.

   Does this take the place of meeting with students? Absolutely not! It does, however, let me use the time I have to work with students on interventions and skill lessons. I've learned to use my time wisely, instead of feeling like I use all my time for assessments!!

For more Tips & Tricks be sure to check out Teacher Survival Lesson 1!

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

What Should I Read Now?

You can follow Tracy at her new blog: The Knit Wit Teacher

Okay, so I know this post isn't technically about book reviews BUT you can find reviews of books here. So I think it's a good starting point. :)

If your class is anything like mine your kiddos are always asking what they should read next. If you've jumped around from grade level to grade level this question can be tricky.

I recently stumbled across this AmAzInG site What Do We Do All Day

This site has saved me more than once on book recommendations. It is fantastic for discovering new books and they have organized their books really well. If you find yourself with some extra time give this site a perusing and see what you think. 

DS VS Water

You can follow Tracy at her new blog: The Knit Wit Teacher

As I was lying in bed recovering from surgery this week Gavin runs up to me to give me his DS that is dripping in water. In my medicated state I thought prayed I was imagining things. No such luck.

The following conversation ensued:

 "Why is your DS dripping?"

"Weeeeellllll, it was dirty"

"Okay, I get that it was dirty, but why is your DS dripping?"

"Cause I had ta wash it"

"And just where exactly did you wash it?'

Gavin looking at me like I'm the weird one....."In the sink"

Needless to say the DS would no longer turned on. So what did I do? Threw it in a bag of rice of course.

Two days later the DS is good as new and I'm the best mom ever.

So it's true. Dropping a wet electronic device in rice really DOES work. Who knew?

Keeping it real.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Tips&Tricks-Teacher Survival Lesson 1

You can follow Tracy at her new blog: The Knit Wit Teacher

Now that we are into the school year and spring break is in sight it's time to talk about Tips & Trips to survive the rest of the year.

One of my pet peeves is having papers without names on them. So this year I started a highlighter system. I'm sure many of you use a similar system. Papers cannot be turned in without highlighting your name first. The magic of using the highlighter makes this boring task exciting. If students go to highlight their names and realize they didn't put their name on their paper then they must go back write their name and try again.

I was shocked by how quickly this system worked. If we are doing a multiple choice test, I also have students highlight their answers before they turn it in. This eliminates pages that were left blank of skipped problems.

Anyone else have a problem with students blurting out??? It's enough to drive a girl crazy. I'm implementing the "Blurt Alert". I came across this idea on ProTeacher and I couldn't wait to get it started. 

Anytime a student is caught blurting out in class the will receive a "Blurt Alert" stick. If they collect 3 of these they will stay in recess to write a Behavior Essay over talking during class. What are Behavior Essays you ask? They are the best behavior tool I've used in awhile. 

Behavior Essays are essays I have created and assign to students if I think their behavior warrants one. I have them for just about everything you can think of. They are great for those times you've forgotten a detention. Or those times your principal comes to you to say that Johnny is spending the rest of the day in the office for fighting at recess please send down work. You and I both know that any classwork I send will be finished in 5 minutes flat and little Johnny won't care a lick about getting it wrong. This is where an essay comes in. Now instead of rushing through work. Johnny will be writing an essay on not kicking during recess. 

After doing these for a year, I now have teachers coming to me asking for specific essays. If I don't have one made up yet, I make it real quick and send it back to them. They have really helped. Stay tuned for my entire file to show up on TPT. As soon as I have a few spare minutes I'm working on getting it posted. 

Earlier this year I used "Talking Tickets".

These were great for the first part of the year, but as with many tricks you've got to rotate them out. Next year I will call these Behavior Tickets and change them up a bit. My husband created these (I just made them cute) and while they worked for him I didn't like the categories that much. I'm working on revamping them to better fit my class. But it gives you an idea of something you could try. When I get mine finished I'll add them to my TPT store also. Again, it comes down to time. 

Speaking of Time....This weekend I'm making time to attend the Spring Blogger Meet Up in French Lick.  I can't wait to meet some new fabulous bloggers and hang out with some awesome ladies/gents. If you are attending come find Michelle and I and say hello! We may or may not be the girls with the bottle of Moscato. We will share. ;) 


P.S. Stay tuned for more Tips & Tricks to follow.