Saturday, July 28, 2012

Woo Hoo! It's a SALE!

During the month of August, my teacher store will be having a SALE in celebration of returning back to school!  This includes things posted now, and anything else I post during the month (and I have quite a few things in the sidelines!).

Teacher's Notebook is the big winner - 50% off EVERYTHING for the entire month!!  I love doing this, since I know between getting my classroom ready as well as getting my own two children's supplies (my son is starting middle school - THAT is a BIG list!), my wallet is empty!  So, if I can help you save during this time, why not??? (Because face it, we ALWAYS spend money this time of year!)

I will be having a special sale later in the month on Teachers Pay Teachers, since you cannot discount past a certain amount (and the sale cannot last more than 4 days).  Hmm..maybe a Labor Day sale?  

Happy Shopping!

Oh, and to start it off right, here's a freebie!  As I was organizing and combining old and new, I found these ideas I "revamped"....the items they use you probably already have in your classroom, but they focus on word work/word study and games.  Click on the picture to take you to Teacher's Notebook or click here for Teachers Pay Teachers.  (I know some of you prefer TpT, but they've been doing some revamping of their own, and I've had some problems uploading items and pics lately!).

Oh, and for those of you who haven't heard of the "Back to School Bonanza" TN is throwing, check out the button to the side!  Each teacher benefits! :)

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Go Fish for Words

Okay, I must confess....I've been working in my classroom now for 2 weeks.  You know how people make "New Year's Resolutions"?  Well, I do the same, except mine always start in August. :)  This year, I'm bound and determined to be more organized!  I don't know whether it's from Pinterest or reading all the teacher blogs this summer, but I have put more pressure on myself to get my classroom together and having it look inviting!

I must admit, I did even think about the themes or the "3 colors"....but I can't do it.  Number one, it's almost too "crafty" for my personality, but I am all about bright inviting colors to wash out the gray for now, I'm pretty happy with what I have!  I'll be sure to publish photos later!  Right now, I don't think I could get a good shot with all the stuff piled on the desks...hah hah!

Well, going through my things and trying to filter in my old reading centers with the literacy centers I began last year, I felt proud of myself - I had some good ideas!  However, they looked junky need to be modernized (some cards had actually been typed on a typewriter - yep, I feel old!).  Here is the first of my endeavors:  Go Fish for Words.  I had previously used word cards, but I liked the idea of adding digraphs so the students could use those to help spell words!  Also, adding extra vowels was a plus!  You'll have to check it out! I have it uploaded to both my Teachers Pay Teachers and Teacher Notebook stores. (TpT may not be available's having some "technical difficulties").

Saturday, July 21, 2012

BUILD and a Puff of Smoke

Okay, so my laptop literally died with a puff of smoke.  That sucker was dead!  I rushed it to Staples and they confirmed it BUT said my hard drive was still intact.  So, the next day (after getting a headache looking online at new laptops) I rushed back to Staples with my external hard drive I bought a few months ago (because I use my computer A LOT) and....well, long story short (I do need to talk math during this post)....$458 later and I have my files saved on my external hard drive and my laptop is winging its way to HP to get refurbished.  It was only about 3-4 years old (my husband said I wore it out!).

So, ironically enough, the next day, I went to school to work on my room, logged onto my computer to crank up Pandora....and I can't log in!  My first thought is I'm a computer JINX!  I call the office to check the status of the network, so they send our tech person (imagine my luck that he was in the building!) with a NEW laptop!  (We were getting them anyway for the "fall"....I'm the 2nd to get mine!).  Good thing - I'm having to learn Office 10 and Windows 7.  Yikes!

So, needless to say, I'm typing on my school laptop (hooray!)....and I have been wanting to share with you what I've been doing with BUILD.  If you read my earlier post, I promised to share what I've been putting took awhile, and then I was without files for several TA DAH!  Here it is! (Well, not on!).

My HUGE thanks to everyone who has ever offered a freebie either through one of the teacher's online stores or through their blog....all files have their original creator's names on them (if they're a photograph, see my Pinterest page).  I have also created a schedule of what center to offer which week, and which of the letters it falls under.  Some of the games mentioned on there are from Dollar Tree (there's a football one and one with a pyramid).  

Unfortunately, its too big to put on Google Docs, so please comment below and leave me your email  if you're interested in seeing this.  We do "Investigations" in our school, so the first unit is all about addition/subtraction/money (intro/review)/story problems.  Throw in ordinals, calendar, and a few other things to cover our standards.  However, it can probably still work for your classroom, since that's basically the first unit of any math series!

I also created visual vocabulary cards to use on my Math focus wall.  They're available at my TpT and TN stores.  Click on the picture below to take you to Teacher's Notebook, or click here for TpT.
 I'm excited to get my Math focus board done and show you!  Last year, it hid in the back of the room and honestly, I don't think the kids referenced it much.  Looking around my room yesterday, I had the brainstorm to go a little magnet crazy and post it on my metal cabinet.  It will be easier to switch out AND the added benefit that it will be more of a focal point for the kids!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Math, Common Core, and the SOLs

In Virginia, we have the SOLs.  Yes, I know what you're thinking.  At times, we think that too! :)  However, we're referring to the Standards of Learning, something Virginia's had in place for...well, a long time.  I've noticed many blogs referring to Common Core.  Its very similar to our SOLs.  

Don't get me wrong.  I think having set standards across the state, from grade to grade, is very important!  We test the standards in 3rd, 4th, and 5th in Virginia.  What I don't like about them is that sometimes the tests are, well, frankly....hard.  Years and years ago (well, about 12) when I taught 3rd grade, I was told those tests were written on an 8th grade reading level.  Not sure if it was true or not, but after looking them over as my students tested, I could believe it.  I'm sure they've made changes since then!

Okay, to the meat of this post.  Looking over everyone else's great ideas these past few months about Common Core, I finally looked them up to see how they matched with our standards.  Virginia loves their standards - we are not looking to change anytime soon.  I was curious, though, to how they lined up.  If you are a VA teacher like myself, you can click on this link to the VDOE website where they have documents comparing the two.

I was pleasantly surprised at how well they lined up.  That's why I doubt we'll be switching over anytime soon.  It was a little disturbing, though, to see how some things won't be introduced till third, while others were introduced in first.  You'll have to check it out.

Now, to the reason for this post (for those of you who know the other meaning of "SOL" in addition to the VA teachers)....there is this great site I just found out about from some other bloggers:  K-5 Math Teaching Resources.  Not only do they "unpack" the Core, they offer activities, suggested books, and other resources for each standard.  You'll have to check it out!

Our school does Investigations (don't get me started!), but we've been told that if we have a better lesson, we can teach it outside of Investigations.  I think I've mentioned before that I have fit this program into small group learning, and we do a rotation of center/seat/math group.  My own version of Guided Math.  So, I'm very excited to find new resources!

Does your county do Investigations?  If so, I'll add another link on to this post.  It's our county pacing guide (I'm linking to the main page with the grade levels).  It has some great resources on it as well, including SMARTboard lessons that align with Investigations.

Okay, well, I'm off to get inspired by "Craft Wars" on our DVR.  Hope these resources help! :)

Thursday, July 12, 2012

An Award and a 100 Days

Thanks to Christa over at Sweet Life of Second Grade who gave me the Versatile Blogger Award! :)


Here are the rules:
1. Thank the blogger who nominated you.
2. Include a link to their site.
3. Include the award image in your post.
4. Give 7 random facts about yourself
5. Nominate 15 other bloggers for the award.
6. When nominating, include a link to their site.
7. Let other bloggers know they've been nominated. 

Okay, here are my 7:
1.  I am a closet cartoon fan.  I have the best time watching cartoons with my kids!  When Cartoon Network was created, I did a happy dance :)  Boomerang sent me over the edge with shows from my childhood (but unfortunately when we downgraded our satellite package, we lost it!).  Of course, it helps me to relate to my students when I know just as much about what they're watching as they do!  hah hah ;)

2.  My grandmother always told me that it makes sense that I ended up teaching in "Louisa County" since my great great grandmother was named Louisa and she was a teacher in a one-room schoolhouse!

3.  My first date with my husband was at a hockey game.

4.  My favorite color is purple.

5.  I started out teaching middle school.

6.  I love teaching collaborative classes.  I mean, who doesn't like to team teach? :)  It's great to bounce ideas off of someone, or some days, simply to "tag team" a lesson!

7.  I still do a happy dance every time I find I have a new follower or sell a product at the teacher stores!

Here are the blogs I have nominated (and please forgive me if you've gotten this before...just makes you extra special!!!):

 Thanks once again to Christa! :)  It's placed proudly in my sidebar!

As for the 100 days...I was looking through the 1001 catalogs that seem to come in the mail this time of year (and no, I'm not complaining....I really do enjoy flipping through them!).  I'm sure you're familiar with this scenario....I was looking at some and going "Hmm....I could make that!" and voila!  Came across my newest idea:  100 facts for 100 days!  In PK-2, and sometimes beyond, we count out the 100 days of school.  
For the past couple of years, I've used a magnetic jellybean poster that counts the days off.  Cute, but nothing too special.  When I was flipping through one of the catalogs, I saw the 100 fact cards, but they were random facts.  I thought a theme might be cute!  Hence...."100 Fun Facts for 100 Days:  Marine Life and Ocean"

I might have bit off more than I could chew!  This took me almost a week to gather I'm hoping I'll do another one, but right now it's not on the top of my list.  In the catalog, they charged $11.95 for this....I'm charging $3 as well as including stickers (well, you print them on sticker pages)...10 of each kind, to use to count the days off.  
My idea is to get blue bulletin board paper, draw a background, and create an ocean scene for the first 100 days!  I hope you'll check it out!  Click on the picture to take you to my Teacher's Notebook store (or you can click on the link here for TpT...your choice!).

Thursday, July 5, 2012

International Blog Hop Day and Freebies!

So I was doing my usual blog stalking today (looove not having to do it late at night....I'm finding so many great ideas this summer!)....and ran across Kreative in Kinder and TBA's "International Blog Hop Day"!  After checking out the great freebies, I racked my brain to figure out what freebie I had would measure up to some of the great ones I saw out there! 

Follow for Freebies

So, instead of picking just one, I picked three to share :)  Each one focuses on a reading skill:  nonfiction (Animal Matrix), Treasure Hunt (word hunt using given features from word study) and Fact/Opinion (rockets).  Click on the pictures to take you to my TpT store to check them out! :)  I also have several other freebies in my store, so be sure to check them out!

Sunday, July 1, 2012

July Currently

I'm linking up with Farley for her July Currently....

I love love LOVE Bad Kitty books....I order every new one from Scholastic that I can :)  The same can be said for the Pigeon books (by Mo Willems).  These books are just FUNNY and they can be used for a variety of activities.  I always liked to use the Pigeon books in conjunction with several reading's a great way to teach the kiddos to observe expressions and mood in a book, as well as characterization.  If you have not seen these books before, I highly recommend you check them out!  The pigeon even has his own website! (Click on the picture below).  Oh wait...I just found out Bad Kitty does, too!  Click on her picture as well :)


I have to be honest.  When we're given books during the school year to read, I cannot focus my mind on it and its often set aside or (gasp) I just don't read it that carefully.  I mean, come many other things do I have on my mind to get done at the time? I like to save that time for summer reading (right now, I'm trying to get my hands on a copy of Daily 5.....I know there's some floating around our school!).

However, Strategies that Work (red book)was an exception.  I read the entire book ALL THE WAY THROUGH.  DURING THE SCHOOL YEAR.  Yes, for me, that's pretty significant (I mean, I need to grab and reread the Comprehension Shouldn't Be Silent book that's collecting dust in my room!).  A few years ago, we were given the second edition (green book).  I don't know whether it's because I liked the first one so much or what....but I did not enjoy it as well.  They had different examples, but similar if not the same strategies.  If you can, get your hands on a red copy!

As for the maid, I think we all need that when we are home and our kids are home from school.  I thought it was bad during the school year!  Whew!  We're trying to keep it clean (as well as stick with a decent bedtime...that's hard too!).  The rest of it is pretty self-explanatory. :)  

 Oh' boy fourth grade

Be sure to check out Farley's new rule....I'm finding blog hopping to be a lot more fun during the summer when I actually have time to do it, and I'm not exhausted! :)