Friday, June 29, 2012

Fun Friday FREEBIE

Well, the posts on my blogs each Friday are going to alternate between several different types of posts....Today will be Freebie Friday!

As teachers we spend hundreds to thousands of dollars on stuff for our students and classrooms. So who doesn't like getting something for free!  On my Freebie Friday posts, I will share links to resources for teachers that are ABSOLUTELY FREE.

Disclaimer: you may have come across some of the things I am going to share, or if you are like me, you saw it somewhere, meant to bookmark it (or pin it) and forgot and then couldn't find it later!

Today's Freebie is from offer FREE posters of celebrities reading. These are great for your classroom. These posters feature actors, athletes, authors, politicians and even cartoon characters reading!!! The only thing you have to pay is a $5 shipping and handling fee per set of posters (up to 12 posters).  You can click HERE to download the order form.

I have several sets of these posters for my classroom and use them in my class library/reading center. I have them laminated and rotate them every few months just to change things up. I have also given a few away for reading award prizes.

Get Caught Reading is a nationwide campaign to remind people of all ages how much fun it is to read. Get Caught Reading is supported by the Association of American Publishers (AAP). Launched in 1999, "Get Caught Reading" is the brainchild of former Congresswoman Pat Schroeder, President and Chief Executive Officer of AAP, the industry association representing book publishers. She saw the opportunity to spread the word about the joys of reading through an industry-supported literacy campaign.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Three Word Thursday.....

For Three Word Thursday each week...I'll post a picture and 3 words that relate to teaching, education, etc.

Never Enough Time

I won the Versatile Blogger Award!

Heidi over at My (Not So) Elementary Life awarded me the Versatile Blogger Award. I am so flattered. Heidi is an awesome blogger so her thoughtfulness in choosing my blog is very flattering! Thanks Heidi..and if you don't currently follow her blog, hop on over and do it now!!!

Now there are a few rules to follow when receiving this award. 

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.

Now for the 7 random facts about myself:

1. Teaching is my third major career....I have an MBA and worked for a computer software company for several years as a trainer and training manager. Then when my son was born I stated my own home-based cake design business making wedding and other special occasion cakes. 

2. I lived in Alaska for six months back in the 90's and worked on the Alaska Railroad for Princess Tours and Cruises (yes, the Love Boat people) on their passenger train. 

3. While living in Alaska, I went camping with friends in a remote spot accessible only by railroad..the train dropped us and our gear off and we camped beside a river for 3 days. It was one of the most exciting adventures of my life.... despite an encounter or two with bears!

4. I once went to the White House (as the guest of the a friend of mine in the military) for an arrival ceremony for the Queen of Denmark.

5. Before I got married I moved to Charlotte, NC for a year but only slept in my apartment 16 out of 365 days that year (the rest of the time I was on the road meeting with and training software clients).

6. I met my husband at a Christmas party and we were engaged by St. Patrick's day the next year.

7. I am allergic to the fuzz on peaches (not the fruit itself) and also the fuzz on the green part of the corn's that for random!

Now I am going to give this award to a few awesome bloggers....

Polkadots and Pencils
Treasures for Teaching
Conversations in Literacy
Sweet Seconds
Run Miss Nelsons got the Camera
Coffee, Kids and Compulsive Lists
Teachable Moments

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

What I'm Reading Wednesday

Welcome to What I'm Reading Wednesday. Each Wednesday I will share with you what I am reading. I am also planning a "What Are You Reading This Summer" Linky Party and will post it here as soon as I figure out how to set ti all up!!! Let's get started, shall we?

I have a confession to make...I am a bit of a book wh@re!! I love books..I collect them by the dozens...and I am not one to run down a free book. I love my Kindle but there is just nothing like the feel of a good book in your hands. Now that summer is here...I am in full on reading mode. I start collecting books for my summer reading extravaganza around spring break each year..but I have been known to start my summer reading pile as early as Christmas. As we teachers know, there never seems to be enough time to read for pleasure during the school year, so summer is so sweet because we have more time to polish off a book or 50!! I also have a little bit of a problem with reading multiple books at a time...usually I am reading one for professional development, one or two for pleasure, and one that I plan on using in my classroom during literature circles, read alouds or to place in my classroom library. So let me tell you what I am reading right now..
 1. RIGOR is Not a Four-Letter Word by Barbara R. Blackburn. I picked this up back in the spring after our school went through an academic audit. Rigor is a big buzz word in education right now and I have to admit, with my struggling learners, I have difficulty infusing my lessons with rigor when I am working so hard to bring them up to grade level. I am about a third of the way through this book and I have already found some great ideas I can implement  when we return to school in the fall. It has really made me take a look at my lessons through the lens of my students and look for ways to make my instruction more interesting and challenging for them.

2. There's a Boy In the Girls' Bathroom by Louis Sachar. I am a huge Louis Sachar fan! I have tons of his books in my classroom and always do several book studies, authors studies and literature circles using his books each year. This is not a new book and I have several copies of it in my classroom but I have to admit, it is one I have not read yet.  I kept meaning to, but  never got around to it. This past year, several of my boys read it and actually recommended it to each other (rare in my classroom--from the boys!). So as I was packing up my room for the summer, I came across one of my classroom copies that  one of my students had left in his desk. I tossed it in my bag and added it to my summer reading list. The main character Bradley reminds me of a few of my little friends I have taught over the years so I can totally relate to some of the situations in the book and now that I have read it (or almost)..I will definitely be recommending it to a few little friends next year and for years to come.  Sachar is the master of creating character who just don't fit in for some reason, and let's face it, we all have one or two of those kids each year, and its night to find characters they can relate to!

3."THE" Books (trilogy) by E.L. James. You know which ones I am referring to!!  I know, I know...everyone and their sister is reading it. I bought into all the hype. It is not your mama's beach book!! I picked up the first book for my 9 hour bus ride to Washington, DC for my son's 5th grade trip. I think I blushed all the way from South Carolina to Virginia as I read it on the bus. It definitely got me a few raised eyebrows from other Moms on the bus (I chalked it up to envy, lol). I am currently on Book 2, and have Book Three waiting in the wings. A girl's gotta have a little mindless fluff to read at the pool!

So What are you reading this summer...feel free to comment below.

Blog Award!!

I am so EXCITED!!! I received the lovely  Lovely Blog Award from my friend and former colleague Lacie over at  Polka Dots and Pencils!!!

I have been blogging for a while but recently moved my blog over to Blogger.  Lacie has had lots of great ideas and advice on helping me improve my blog. Please check out Polka Dots and Pencils' blog!

Once you receive the award, you must follow 3 rules: 

1.  Follow the person that gave you the award.
2.  Link back to the person that gave you the award.
3.  Pass the award on to 15 new bloggers.

I have picked 15 FABULOUS blogs to pass the award on to! Please click on each of the badges below to check out these amazing blogs!


My (Not So) Elementary Life
Mrs. Bainbridge's Class
Glitzy in 1st Grade
Ms. Green Apple
Kindergarten Korner
Learnings a Hoot

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Technology Tuesday- Do you Activote?

Welcome to Technology Tuesday, where I will be sharing my experiences using technology in the classroom and ideas for how you can use the technology you have (or want).

I am just going to put this out there...I love technology. I think most teachers do! I am always trying to find new ways to use it in my classroom. But I'll admit, sometimes I am intimidated by how much more my students know about technology than I do. I have to confess...I will go to  my 11 year old son before I'll contact Apple or AT& T if I have a question about something on my iPhone!!

My students crave technology time...and I am not just talking about using the classroom computers.  I am blessed to work in a school district that invests a lot of money in classroom technology. On top of that, I work in a Title I school, so there always seems to be some extra money for this gadget and that one....and I love using it all. Our district is also starting an iPad initiative this fall.  In two of our Title I elementary schools,  entire grade levels (each and every student and teacher) will each have an iPad. And I have it from a reliable source that every Title I teacher will have one too (I am also excited to have the opportunity to be one of the trainers helping these teachers set up their new iPads and helping them find/use apps to use in the classroom).

One of the cool tech-y things that I use in my classroom a lot are Activotes. 

They look like little remotes...and interact with your Promethean board and ActiveInsprire software. However, you don;t have to have a Promethean board to use them! Our school got these about 3 years ago and my grade level was one of the first to pilot them in the classroom. They are so fun to use and the kids love them! There are so many things you can do with them...but I will share just a few ideas of how I use them in my classroom.

1. Pretests/Post tests- For each of my units in Social Studies I give a pre- and post-test.  I usually have about 10 questions and it allows me to gauge where my students are going into the unit.  The beauty of this, is with 42 students, I don't have to grade 42 papers.  And the data on how they answered the question is at my fingertips instantly. I can also save it in a spreadsheet and I can manipulate the results to form small groups if need-be.  To do this, I create a flip-chart in Active Inspire with the questions.  Each question can be a different slide/page of the flip chart. You can set the question up as a  "True/False", "Multiple Choice" , "Likert Scale" or even have student text in their response.  As each question is displayed, students respond on their hand-held Student Response System (SRS) device. Each device has a number and when they send their answer their device number is displayed on the board. When everyone has answered, I click a button to end the poll and data is displayed on my board...I can look at it by percentages, graph it and can even see how each person responded so I can look at individual students (but it displays a number rather than a name). I can then export the data to a spreadsheet to further analyze after class.

2. Informal Assessment During a Lesson- Often when we are teaching we want/need to know if our  students are "getting it." With Activotes, I can create a question or two "on the fly" and do a quick informal assessment. Again I can get instant data about who is getting it and who needs further assistance. It is quick and I can move on or pull a small group of students aside and give them a little assistance to scaffold them through the rest of the lesson. 

3. Math Facts Quizzes-  Activotes is great for those daily/weekly math facts quizzes. Promethean Planet also has quizzes already set up so no need to reinvent the wheel. Their is also a tiered question capability so if they are getting all the facts for a particular number set correct it moves them to the next set* (i.e. when they master their 6's..they can independently move onto the 7's. ) *I do not teach partner teacher does,,,but this is the way I understand it to work for Math facts.

4. Taking the Class "Temperature"- I think it is really important to get the students perspective on how a lesson went or how the day went form their point of view. I use Activotes as a summarizing strategy for lessons. They can rate how they felt the lesson went, how much they learned, text me items they need more info about, etc. My partner teacher and I use them have our students tell us  how they think their day went behavior-wise. We are a PBIS school and use a 3-2-1 score at the end of the day to assess student behavior. This ties into my classroom behavior chart and is also recorded in student daily agendas so their parents can see how their day went. While i might thing a student had a "2" day (need a little work), the students may feel they deserve a "3" (excellent). This provides a platform for us to talk about what makes they feel they should have a 3 versus why I gave them a "2." 

If you are looking for a little bit more info on the versatility of HERE.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Classroom Management Monday

"Today is Monday know that that means...." Does anyone else besides me remember the Old Mickey Mouse Club? I am talking the black/white version, not the one that spawned the likes of Justin Timberlake and Christina Aguillera. Well they had this song called  "Today is Tuesday" HERE to see the lyrics.

So I am gonna steal that idea, sort of...each day of the week that I blog (and here's to hoping I can build my stamina to blog least during summer break) will be a specific topic...Classroom Management Monday ....Technology Tuesday...etc.

So today I am starting with Classroom Management goal for Monday posts will be to reflect back on a specific "moment" (good, bad or ugly) from my classroom in the previous year where I had to pull a trick out of the old classroom management bag of tricks...I will unpack it, and decide what worked, didn't work, etc.  And the goal here is to get my followers to comment and share their sage advice about what they would have done if they had been in my shoes at that moment.

Get it? we go.

For this first Classroom Management Monday ... the no-homework moment. I have had tons of these moments throughout my teaching career. Let me set the stage for you....kid comes in with no homework (AGAIN!!). What do you do? In my classroom, I  walk around and collect homework rather than have them put it in a basket. This way I know who turned it in and who didn't. When I get to one of my little friends who quietly (with eyes cast downward) tells me they forgot it or they don't have it, I don't make a big deal of it. I just keep moving, and collecting the work. They when I get back to my desk, I make a notation on my clipboard who did not turn it in.  I will then find a moment throughout the day and pull my little friend aside to talk to them about why they didn't turn in homework (AGAIN!).  The excuses range from I elaborate, detail-filled full blown fibs.  I have some great storytellers in my classroom...especially when it comes to missing homework.  In the past, I have been guilty of not having a poker-face and my kiddos could tell right away that I was disappointed (and in some cases angry) that they had not completed and turned in homework. Eventually I discovered that this was not healthy for anyone involved and worked on my poker-face.

Consequences for no homework usually means moving a clip...and sometimes loss of recess (depending on if they are a habitual offender or not). Most if my students strongly dislike taking the "walk of shame" to the clip chart to move their clip so they are very good about turning in homework.  By my habitual offenders (and I had 5-6 of them between my two classes last year) need for me to ramp things up a notch....a phone call home may do it, but in some cases it has resulted in after-school detention to give them an opportunity to finish said work.

However, with my habitual offenders, they usually have several assignments missing at a time. It is a bit of work to keep track of all that (my clipboard gets a little crowded if you know what I mean).  So I ave been looking for a way to track it, and combine it with parental notification, record keeping for conferences, etc.  I saw a form on a fellow teacher's blog that I liked so I created my own...I have not used it yet, but plan on it for the upcoming school year. I want to look into getting it professional printed in a two-part format (I keep a copy and a copy gets stapled into the student's agenda for parent notification/signature). Here is a picture of what I created...please let me know what you think by posting a comment below. Also feel free to share any ideas you have about how to deal with missing homework. Thanks....
PS: I may offer this as a freebie this week (customizable)...on Freebie Friday!! welcome and old

Good morning everyone!!!

In honor of moving my blog to Blogger, I am having a giveaway!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Welcome to my new home!

Hi everyone! Thanks for visiting me here on Blogger....I decided to make the move from Word Press so I would have a little more flexibility.

If you are one of my regular followers...thanks for visiting and don't forget to click on the "Join this site" button.
If you are new here.. welcome and thanks for checking me out, and don't forget to click on the "Join this site" button.