Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Citizenship Bundle with a Technology Twist!

So a couple weeks ago, inspiration struck and for two days, I was solidly into a unit that frankly, I never find too interesting - Citizenship!

It's something we all need to teach and want to make it fun.  I don't know about you, but I feel bad that my students get bogged down in the vocabulary our state standards and it makes it one of the hardest units, and according to our pacing guide its one of the FIRST units to teach.

I was sitting at my computer a couple weeks ago and was looking at clipart on one of my favorite sites - My Cute Graphics (www.mycutegraphics.com).  Yep, I was procrastinating!  Then, as it often does, inspiration struck like lightning!  

It started with the visual vocabulary cards.

Then, peeking into my Citizenship folder (I put all my network files on my hard drive for the summer - smartest thing I ever did!) I looked at some of the old, drab things I had come up with back in 2008 (yeah, scary isn't it?), and started revamping, combining, creating and came up with:

Scenario cards that students can relate to but still apply citizenship skills towards.

A quilt as a culminating project that students draw and write about how they show certain citizenship traits

Paper Bag Book about citizenship (love my one from Famous Americans and told myself to create more this year!)

Threw in my Citizenship SCOOT

Last but not least, my favorite.  Years ago, I used Voice Thread for a student geometry project, for book talks, and for reading responses.  I've gotten away from it, but something this summer made me come back to it.  I created a Powerpoint, uploaded it to Voice Thread, and will have my students respond vocally to the questions in the Powerpoint.  

The directions are included in the bundle, and I'm hoping what will happen is that students from all over will be able to respond as well as see how other students responded to the questions.  It's exciting, and a great way to show students a global community!

So please go check it out {here} for TpT and {here} for Teacher's Notebook!

(Psst.  I'm having a "Back to School Sale" starting August 4th - my whole store will be 20% off! There's something else special that's happening that day!  Set your calendars to check my blog this Sunday!  I promise you won't regret it!!!!) 

Monday, July 29, 2013

Random Thoughts On a Sunday Night

It's been a busy week filled with meetings, traveling, meeting new friends, and spending time with family.  I'm a little on the exhausted side, so excuse me if I ramble a bit! :)

First off, I've been selected to be part of a technology curriculum team, and we worked 4 days on integrating history/writing with technology - but not just "using" technology.  I think so many of us think "oh, our kids use technology all the time!"  Mine have access to iPod Touches, laptops, websites, listening centers, etc.  However, it wasn't the focus of our meeting.  No, we needed to focus on things that students can CREATE using technology.  A bit different!

What we decided to do, though, was to use one per grade level for one project (no need to freak everyone out) and we came up with a project, directions, rubric, and sample for each one.  K and 1 are "introductions" to Powerpoint and Timeliner (software program).  More of a template type thing.  They will revisit those in 4th and 5th and have more independent projects.  Third, they are creating projects with Publisher.  For second, we are actually using a site called "StoryJumper" where students create stories/books (and parents could purchase them if they wanted!). 

Tuesday (yes, I'm only up to Tuesday), I got to meet with my team and my new principal!  She's kind of an "old principal" to me since she was my son's principal at his middle school (I teach in one county and we live in a neighboring one).  I loved her as a parent, and I've got good vibes as a teacher! We also got our class lists, and I am once again doing the collab. kids, which is cool.  I think having the "insider" info on being a parent of a child with an IEP has a huge advantage!

Wednesday, I got to work in my room!  Woo hoo!  I have posted some photos of that on Instagram, and still have some more to post!

I loved this idea on Pinterest - having a black bulletin board paper above the board to make things "stand out," and decided to do it!  It looks great. It should, really.  Long story short - I was trying to "save" my walls and use a "friendly" type of sticky device, but after an hour of fighting falling border - I resorted back to my ol' friend, purple duct tape (somehow, the solid colors stick so much better!).  I plan on putting my rules up there for Whole Brain Teaching, as well as some of the phrases.

Thursday, I went to northern Virginia with my daughter and best friend to the VA Blogger Meet Up.  Fun times!  I got to connect and meet with so many bloggers!  There were prizes and a big surprise - gifts from Heidi from "Heidisongs" (who I had never heard before, but after listening to the CD on the way home, LOVE her little songs about different word families and vowel digraphs!).  Our host, over at Mrs. Stamp's Kindergarten, has a giveaway going on where you can win one, too.  Make sure you stop by! Thanks so much for Heidi for doing this (and Karen and Kelly)! :)

 It was a great time, filled with shopping at Potomac Mills and ending up with a trip to IKEA (love those meatballs!).  I was fine, until I hit the end of the 2nd floor with all the kids stuff.  I now so totally want to redo my daughter's room!  My husband was not amused when I called and suggested that!  I was good, though, and came home with a pillow.  I justified the fact that I wasn't redoing our kitchen, my daughter's room, or our living room as justification!

This weekend, I met up with my parents and my sister and her family in Williamsburg and we did a family day at Busch Gardens.  Fun times!  This is my daughter and niece on one of the rides!

When I got home (after a nap), my husband "suggested" that I go to Walmart and get groceries while he spent time with the kids.  Doesn't he know I just can't stick to the list after 13 years of marriage????  Anyhow, I found a saddle stapler for $13 on clearance, a few other things on clearance, and I would post pics......but they're currently "hiding" in my car until I get into my room tomorrow. 

I also found some dry erase pockets on a side trip to Target and am so excited that I can share these with my secret pal, who I know has been upset she can't find any!  Gotta get that package out this week!

It's nice to know that other than Tuesday, things are settling down this coming week.  Good thing - last full week before teachers go back!  Yikes! Where DID this summer go??????

Monday, July 22, 2013

SALE and Blog Buttons!

Just a reminder - 25% off my TpT store through today!!!  If you missed it, don't worry - I'll be hosting a "Back to School" sale in a couple weeks! :)

Have you seen my sidebar?  I am SUPER EXCITED about my blog button!  I made it myself! :)  

I had been trying to do a "matching" button to my blog, but after time and time again of blurry or too tiny - I decided to make one of my own.  It's a little more personal with my lil' meerkat peeking up!


I have code!  Woo hoo!  Thanks to Sarah over at Mrs. Jones Teaches and "I Teach, What's Your Superpower?, I found out about "Grab My Button Code Generator."  Sooo super easy to put your button on here with the code!

So, short post (I know - unusual for me!) since I'm supposed to be paying attention in my pacing guide meeting :) (actually, we're on lunch, but it's almost over!), but wanted to share!

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Flash Freebie, Celebrations, and a Sale!

Sooo excited to be part of Tales of Frogs and Cupcakes Facebook Celebration!  Please be sure to hop on over (no pun intended) to check out her freebies each day! Woo hoo!  My day is Sunday, so check out my flash freebie that day from 10-1 CST.
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I'll let you in on a little secret - since I am in VA on EST (and it's a church day), my "flash freebie" will be available from 10am EST (or as close to it as possible) till probably about 2-3pm that day!  

In addition, I'm throwing a 25% sale off my entire store Sunday and Monday!  Be sure to check it out!

On another note....

So, I've been in my classroom a couple times, in between meetings and such, and have been working hard.  I envy the pictures I see of other classrooms where they have bulletin boards started and things hung on the wall.  Nope, not me.  No *sigh* every year I go in during the summer to ORGANIZE.  (I'll get to the hanging and such later on).

I've come to the realization that by the end of the school year, I am dog tired!  I cannot for the life of me even attempt to organize at that time of the year, other than to hope my counter holds all my stuff that doesn't fit in the cubbies and cabinets!

I don't know why every year I have to organize - again.  Well, yes, I add more things during the year and over the summer, but that can't be the only reason.  Anyhow, today I found myself working on my math/science cabinet and math manipulatives.  Somehow, by changing containers and regrouping things, I actually had some extra space!  Wow - it makes me wonder if I have something hiding somewhere that's supposed to be in that space.  Why can't this ever happen at my house????

I also had to come to terms with a few things.   For example, years ago, my mom gave me her collection of buttons she had inherited from a neighbor.  I decided to use these as counters.  Well, I have to admit - other than 1 student in the past couple years, no one has used these.  We've moved on to hundreds chart, number lines, etc.  I have other items that I can use for 1-to-1 correspondence.  

So, thankfully, that's when a brainstorm hit.  I didn't want to get rid of the buttons and they don't take up a TON of space.  Why not use them for identifying attributes?  One of the concepts my students always have difficulty with is identifying faces, vertices, edges, etc during the Geometry unit.  Why not give them extra practice identifying attributes with the thousands of buttons that I already have?  Throw them into a BUILD center for practice the first month of school, and most likely, beyond that?  

So, tonight, feeling all "gung ho," I created this:

I have it at my TPT store (there's something wrong with Teacher's Notebook tonight, but it's on my list to add it there, too) for $1.00 (teachers will have to provide their own buttons!).

But for you, dear reader, since you've made it this far, if you comment with your email by Sunday evening, I'll send it to you for FREE!  My only request is that if you like what you see, please consider following me at my store!  I am soooo close to 100 followers and would love to be able to throw a "celebration" of my own! :)    

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Celebrations and the Button Blues

So, first the exciting news - I am taking part in several freebies over the next couple weeks, helping other bloggers celebrate milestones, as well as getting together a freebie for a blog hop!  Not to mention - the VA bloggers meet up is next Thursday! :)  Can't wait!  (please see my earlier post for more information on that!).

Now, for the not so great news, or rather, the "frustration."  :(  So, I've been wanting to do a button.  One that matches my blog header.  I mean, they look so nice and big when I link up places.  However, mine seems to be small AND I can't get the HTML text to appear below.  Box yes, text no. :(

I found a super easy tutorial from Oikology 101 via Google search.  Granted, it was written in 2008, so things might have changed since then, BUT since it seems everything else worked okay....anywho, if you can help me out and figure out WHY this text isn't appearing - or if you have a link with someone else's tutorial (newer version?) AND it's easy to follow (my brain is on summer mode, mind you!), please help out!  Till then, I guess it's going to look a little silly unless the blogger fairy wants to come by and wave its wand and have it work!

But, so not to end this on a "down note", be sure to check out Frogs & Cupcakes Facebook page for a 1,000 follower celebration!  I was so excited to be able to offer a "flash freebie" to help her celebrate!  Each day will be something different!  Be sure to check on Saturday to see which item in my TPT store is the "flash freebie"!  (Hint:  Think back to school!).
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Sunday, July 14, 2013

Finally! A Teacher Planner To Be Proud Of!

Sooo....I FINALLY finished my teacher planner!  After seeing all the cool ones people have bought that are personalized, it made me think....hmmm...I could create one AND have things in there that I need!

From the planner, it went beyond to creating labels, open house signs, noise level poster, and more!  I mean, it was a literal monster!  I am done (I think).  If I add anything more, I can update the files in the stores, right?

I'm really excited, because I can see adapting it to another theme, should I need to, in the years to come without TOO much trouble (I hope!).  I'm working on an owl one for a friend that is similar to mine!

So...tah dah!  Check it out and if you like what you see, check it out closer on Teacher's Notebook or Teachers Pay Teachers.  It's over 100 pages of editable items on both Publisher and Powerpoint, as well as PDF files with blank templates to fill in (I know some people don't have Publisher!).  Plus, it includes so much more than what I'm showing!!!!  Check out the preview file, where I've put a snapshot of almost everything!

If you REALLY like what you see....I'll tell you a secret.....I'm having a back to school sale, as well as being part of a blog hop the first week in August, complete with freebies!  If you're like me and love to get deals.....you can always wishlist it and come back later!  Hopefully by then I'll have finished my other projects and have them up as well (I'm currently working on a Citizenship packet that might or might not be one of the freebies!).

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Saturday Snapshots

I'm linking up with Run! Miss Nelson's Got the Camera (for the first time) for Saturday snapshots.  I've spent so much time on Instagram lately (it really IS an addiction - almost as bad as Pinterest!) that I definitely have some to share! :)

So, I've been doing a lot of back-to-school/new classroom theme shopping.  I've been working on a Safari Theme (not quite sure WHAT to call it - "Join Our Learning Safari" or "Join Us for Some Wild Times"???  still working on that!).  After looking at the customized planners people are buying, I had one of those "I could do that" moments, and created my own safari theme.  I'm hopefully putting it on my store soon...I keep finding things to put in it! It will be "customizable" so that you can make it your own!  :)  Here are the actual planning pages:

We had a "bear attack" earlier this week - it's okay, we had a "fearless hunter" (the 6 yr old) get rid of it!

My summer reading:

Getting crafty - goes with my new theme, but figure I can also use it when I change themes as well :)  First time using modge podge as well!

 Refurbished a basket - I swear, I think I'm getting addicted to spray paint!  Hah hah - I even talked to my husband about painting his drum set with glitter spray paint!

So tired of using page protectors - love the fact that these are out now (and maybe will last longer!)...found them cheaper at Michael's using my 40% than at Target for $1 each.
Enjoying summer.  In between the rainy days, we've made it a couple of times to use our passes to Busch Gardens and Water Country!

So those are some of my photos from the past couple weeks - be sure to check out Miss Nelson's blog and link up! :)

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Virginia Blogger Meet Up!

I was so excited to be invited to a bloggy meet up!  I have to admit, I've been so jealous of other bloggers, where they're meeting in Texas and Chicago and such.  Earlier this year, I was proud to display the button to the side and link up with Fifth in the Middle as a VA blogger.  

Unlike the rest of the country, here in Virginia we are sticking hard to our SOLs.  (Yes, we get the joke and often retell it!).  While Virginia likes to brag that our standards were some of the basis for the Common Core, we are only an affiliate state - we support, but don't follow, in other words.

So, we have some weird ones out there - life cycle of the white-tailed deer in second grade, for example, in lieu of frogs - so I always love to get comments on TPT about following the standards. :)  

Anywho, thanks to Karen over at Mrs. Stamp's Kindergarten for inviting me!  If you are a VA blogger and would like to join us, it's going to be in Northern Virginia at Potomac Mills (of course!  I think there's a Lakeshore store somewhere up there as well, but that might be Fredericksburg....I'll have to look up more details on that.  Better start saving my money!).  I'm taking a buddy of mine, Valerie over at Enriching Kinders, and can't wait to meet up with others!  Even if you're an aspiring blogger and haven't quite gotten it started yet, please feel free to come!

Details: We're meeting at 1pm at Bahama Breeze (Potomac Mills, Woodbridge) on July 25th.  I hope to see you there!  Contact Karen for more details and to RSVP!

Friday, July 5, 2013

Blog Hops, Summer Reading, and Whole Brain Teaching

Christmas in July?  As scary as it sounds (it already makes me go "eek!" that it's July and half my "to do" list is not done!), there are 17 blogs out there not only having a sale, but having a blog hop AND a contest going on!  Here's a link to stop#1:
Enjoy and make sure to look for the flamingo/underlined word in each freebie to solve the puzzle!  I found the link when I opened up Pinterest this morning.  Thought I'd share! :)

Summer reading....I really like what I've been hearing about "Whole Brain Teaching."  Once again, a Pinterest stumble, but I really like the ideas that were posted and decided to go ahead and order the book.  Well, I did try to find it locally, but it seems it's only available via Amazon.com in my neck of the woods.  So, now I'm awaiting my book (hoping it's before next Wednesday, which is the estimated delivery date) and have downloaded most of the ebooks from the official site, as well as shared the idea with my teammates.

I'm gathering info and have started a new Pinterest board in case you're interested in looking at it as well!  There are a lot of blogs out there about WBT, so it's nice to find that support and people to ask questions!

With my safari theme, this is what I've created so far:

At some point, I'll have all this gathered together in a packet and share!  I wanted to read the book before I made anything available, to make sure I'm on the right track. :)  I'm also working on a planner that I hope to share as a freebie soon! :)

Do you do Whole Brain Teaching in your room?  How do you think it works?  It seems very successful and very to the point!  I also like the idea of the hand gestures and I'm always looking for ways to make learning fun! :)