Friday, November 30, 2012

Second Annual Pay It Forward Giveaway!!!!!

Hi All!

Just about a year ago I was celebrating 250 followers with a different kind of giveaway - a giveaway where YOU'RE actually the one giving away, so to speak.  You can read about it {here}.

Around this time of year you can't help but count your blessings.  You look back at the year, and although some days, weeks or maybe months might not have been can look back on it and find hope and happiness. 

There are so many charitable organizations out there who are trying to give more people in our world those same feelings of happiness and hope that can so easily be taken for granted.  That's why I'm happy to tell you about my....

Clipart: Middle Grades Maven
Fonts & Digital Paper: Mrs. Stanford's Class

I'd like to give $50 dollars to a charitable organization of your choice - in your name! 
To enter...please just leave your name, which charity you'd like for your donation to go to and your email address.  I will use the Random Number Generator to choose a winner next Friday evening - at 8:00 EST.
Happy Holidays!!!!

Now go enter...and tell all your friends to enter too!!!!!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Learning Goals - Common Core - Freebie

Hey You Guys!!!!

Anybody busy out there?  Assessments, report cards and holidays...oh my!  If it weren't for this...

My newest vice...

I'd have lost my cool by now!!!  I'm not really a tea drinker...but this stuff is cozy, yummy and calms me right down.  Give it a might make that twitch go away!

We're undertaking the daunting task of adopting the Common Core.  It's going okay but I do find myself feeling like a first year teacher all over again.  How many times have I thought "Geez, I've been at this for 13 years and I STILL feel like a new teacher"?! 

I love keeping up with current & best practice - but every now and then, I'd like to stick with something for more than a couple of years.  I do like the depth that The Core provides...I just can't wait for it to become second nature.

I've had focus walls in the past where I posted what we were currently working on - but they were in my own words and weren't necessarily directly connected to any one standard.  With the new CCSS I am attempting to display the standards that our class is currently working on.  Making the kids explicitly aware is pretty cool too.  My hope is that if you were to pull one of my kiddos aside - they'd be able to tell you in "kid-language" what standards we are focusing on in each curricular area. 

Have you seen Mrs. Wheeler's "I Can" statements?  Head on over to her store and check them out...

Click the picture to head over to her store!

Print, laminate and display...

Click above to pick yours up for free!
Post your Learning Goals header somewhere in your room and the CCSS you're currently working on directly underneath.  Nice and small to conserve space {Just be sure to put them at your kiddos eye level so they can easily see them} which is super important if your classroom is as itty bitty as mine!

Happy Learning!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Cyber Monday {Plus Tuesday} Sale ~ Fill Up Those Carts!!!!

Guess what?  You can camp out on your couch in preparation for the big cyber Monday {plus Tuesday} sale on TpT.  No need for tents or porta potties {ewwww} can wait for it in the comfort of your own home!!!!
I just finished up my winter literacy pack. It has simple printables that your kiddos will love.  Most of them are print and go...very little prep! {Do I hear an "oh yeah"?!}

Click the Preview to Visit my Store!

So sit back, relax, and click away!!

Happy shopping!!!!!

Monday, November 19, 2012


And it's FREE! {although you can upgrade if you fork out some dough} Just click on the "start prezi" button on mine above and then push the next arrow to see each frame.  I'm going to use it just like Barb except she'll put hers on her groovy Promethean and I'll display mine on my Mimio.  It's a great way to show what CCSS you'll be working on {or what your day will look like} that day.  You can also convert it to a PDF and print it out.  There are lots of background/styles you can choose from.

 It's so easy to work with - pretty much like a Powerpoint. You can add frames, take them away, change the fonts, colors, styles...pretty much anything you need you can do.  If you click {here} you can find more info on how you might use Prezi. 
I bet you can find lots of different ways to use it in your classroom.  Whether it be to organize your day or plan a story...I'd love to hear what you come up with!
Have fun!!!!
My blog pal, Sara, over at Smiling in Second is having a Winner's Choice Giveaway to celebrate 1,000 followers!  Go enter - you could win 32 TpT products and a $10 gift card to any store!!!!!
Are you craving some delicious Thanksgiving food?  My husband makes the world's best stuffing.  My mouth waters just thinking about it.  We're hosting Turkey Day this year...which my husband seems to think is easier than traveling...thing is, he ENJOYS his end of the bargain.  He loves to cook.  Me, on the other hand, I have to clean the very neglected house. I know, having a husband who cooks, I'm probably not gaining any votes of sympathy...

Friday, November 16, 2012

Magic Word *Freebie*

We're pulling out all the shots right now because we are in desperate need of a break.  Hanging from the tips of our cute little fingers.  Hanging on by a thread of a turkey hat on hat day. 

Not enough thought was put into wearing this hat today.  Who knew it would rile 'em up the way it did...
So, in order to maintain some semblance of calm I've instituted the Magic Word {dun, dun, dun}
I don't know why it works, I don't know how it works, all I know is it's working and so I'll go with it.  It actually happend on a whim {Duly noted that I have blogged about four other "whimful" moments in my classroom - what can I say, I'm quick on my feet!} on Halloween when "Pumpkin" became our Magic Word.  Too loud? "Pumpkin" and things quieted right down.  Walking down the hall - all a fright? "Pumpkin" - that line straightened right up.
The next day the kids asked what our new Magic Word would be.  Hmmm....were they on to something?  How about "Candy"?  And so it was and so it worked.  Since then it's evolved a bit to me choosing a student each day to come up with our new Magic Word.  So far we've had: Snoogies {?!?}, Dog, Hotdog, Alakazam and Lima Bean {Which, technically, is two but we made an exception}.
We have ours prominently displayed on our front white board and if you're trying to keep your darlings under control for the next few days before Thanksgiving or if you're ever just having one of those days you can grab yours...
Click the picture to pick yours up for free!

I write the Magic Word on a sticky note and put it right on the laminated Magic Word page.  There ya have it...
Oh - one more thing...a teacher-friend/colleague of mine has just started a new blog.  This gal knows her stuff and will make you smile.  Go check her out and don't forget to follow!!!!

Is that not the cutest name?!?
I hope you have a magical weekend!! Is your mouth just watering thinking about that yummy Thanksgiving food?  I can't wait to dig my fork into my hubby's delicious stuffing!!!!


Saturday, November 10, 2012

Guided Reading Groups *Reading Response Prompts For Two Lucky Followers*

I thought I'd talk a little about guided reading groups.  I use Daily 5 to manage what the other kiddos are doing when I'm meeting with guided reading groups.  I think working in those small groups where I can really see what's going on with each student and providing valuable teaching points is my most favorite time of the school day.

I try to have four reading groups...years that I have five are so tricky to manage.  I am lucky to have a literacy paraprofessional that comes in during Daily 5 for about 30 minutes and an ELL para that comes in to help as well. 

I use the Fountas & Pinnell Continuum to help plan for each group...

It provides comprehension strategies, word study and other skills that are based on each guided reading level - and what can be expected developmentally for kids working at each particular level.  Another book I was just introduced to that I can't wait to get is Guided Reading - Next Steps...

I think this one might be another "go to" resource for planning guided reading group instruction. It has really great lesson plan templates/ideas that help break down how a lesson should flow for each leveled reading group. 

One question I get asked often by both parents and other teachers is whether or not I introduce a new book each and every day.  I don't - I believe so strongly in the power of familiar re-reads that I introduce a new book every other day within the guided reading group setting.  My kids are encountering new texts other places {their independent reading books, the classroom library, public library, Raz-Kids, etc.} that they have plenty of opportunities to practice those decoding skills often.  What is often lacking is experiences with familiar re-reads where they can practice fluency, expression as well as comprehension {digging deeper}.

I don't know about you - but there's such a sense of urgency on my part to move, move, move - get things done - do this, do that....sometimes I forget to breathe.  This bums me right out because sometimes I forget to enjoy the pleasure of teaching and kids learning.  I can't imagine trying to introduce a new book, work on decoding strategies, respond to the literature in a deep and meaningful way each and every day, for sometimes FIVE guided reading groups.  I've already got "the twitch" goin' on...I don't need to add to it by feeling pressure to get a new book into my students' hands each and every guided reading group and it's just not necessary to do so.

I sort of look at my guided reading groups as having this framework:

Day 1: New Book
*Introduce new book: picture walk, vocab development, predictions {all that great pre-reading "stuff"} I spend a lot of time pre-reading.
*New read: At the table I have one child sit facing "out" the next child facing "in", "out" all the way around the table.  I do this so they can all read at their own pace and I'm able to confer with those who are facing "in".  We alternate each day with who faces in/out.  I'm really able to see what strategies are being used - I can also do a quick running record on portions of text to get a vibe for how the kids are doing.
*Quick discussion of book/retell/noticings/etc.
*Take this book home to re-read

Day 2: Familiar Re-Read
*Students get started with their re-reads just as soon as they sit down {alternating seating: in/out/in...except if you sat out yesterday, today you sit in} If students are in lengthier books - they may only read a portion of the book.
*I also set several "old" books on the table for them to re-read from the past week/weeks.  We spend about five minutes on this {of course we go through fewer books as the levels increase}.
*I spend the rest of the group {about 15 minutes} either on word study, comprehension strategies, decoding strategies, response to literature, whatever is needed and often a combination of ...
*Take same book home to re-read {sometimes I assign additional homework to go along with the book the second time they bring it home}

Day 3: New Book {if we aren't in a chapter book}

This works so well for me - and I really do notice a difference in my students fluency/comprehension and I feel less frantic!

As the year goes on; this tends to evolve.  My higher readers spend less time with me and more time partner reading, independently responding to literature, book clubs, etc.

I created some response to reading prompts that I like to use once the texts become a little meatier.  Here's a preview and you can head over to my store to purchase them if you'd like!!!!!  If you leave a little lovin' I'll randomly choose 2 followers from the comments to send the pack to for free!  {Be sure to leave your email!} I'll choose a winner tonight - say, 8:00 EST!

Thanks for all the lovin' and the great comments!  The winners are....{I didn't count my responses in the number or additional comments for forgotten emails}

Congrats ~ Miss Foote!!

Congrats ~ Liz!!

29 fiction prompts & 20 nonfiction prompts 

Happy Reading!!!!!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Currently November

I think I might be the only Michigander who loves the coziness of it getting dark earlier.  I love a moon-lit walk with my family and doggy, a fire in the fireplace, and candles lit.  That extra hour today was such a gift!  I felt like I was able to "sleep in" but also got a TON done!

I'm linking up with Farley for her November Currently.  Nosy Nelly that I am, I love seeing what everybody is up to...just call me Agnes {hubby does}.

I love my husband bunches and bunches - but man, that guy loves his cereal...I try really hard not to fixate on it.  I mean, he's allowed to eat - right?  I swear I don't chomp and slurp like he does.  I can't, right?  Maybe I do.  I doubt it. 

I woke up this morning feeling really overwhelmed. I had a lot to accomplish and wasn't sure if I'd be able to do it all. That extra hour was a true gift.  I went into school and got a TON done!  My house presentable...not great, but at least the crumbs are off the floor.

Go vote!!!!

I really hate shopping.  A LOT.  I guess if I was rolling in the dough I would mind it less - but I really can't stand the mall, hate waiting in lines, bahumbug.  I just wish I could blink my holiday shopping done.  That's why I try to take care of it all early...before the crowds get so awful that I get all grouchy.

I have a few teachers coming in to observe reader's and writer's workshop on the 15th.  I'd like to knock the socks off their feet.  Okay, honestly - I'd just like to not look like a fool. At first they were going to video tape me - which, seemed like the better option.  Then I remembered the camera adds ten pounds and I opted to have the people actually come in.  That makes me sooooo nervous though.  Blah.

I play music all the time in my classroom.  We transition to music and often times we work to music.  My two current favorites are:

Hunk-ta, Bunk-ta Boo by Katherine Dines has a folk-y flair {which I'm not usually into - but I love it and so do the kids}.  It's fun and I use it mostly during transitions.  One of my favorites is "Read a Book" which I play before reader's workshop.

Lavender Skies by Gary Lamb is beautifully played piano music. We use this during quiet work time - usually during writer's workshop.  Soothing.

There ya be!

So what did you do with your extra hour?

Have a great week!

Friday, November 2, 2012

Appy Hour and More...

Happy November!

Sheesh...can hardly believe it's turkey time!

I just wanted to share a little app that a friend of mine told me about that I just LOVE!  Are you a stick picker?  I didn't used to be.  I always try to alternate when I call on my kiddos...boy, girl, boy, girl...I still do that sometimes, but I try to play it fair and pick sticks.  I have three cups of sticks scattered around the room. Of course, I can never find a cup when I need it.

This is one helpful little app..

Click the picture to check it out for yourself - it's only $2.99...not too shabby...
I like the question stems can customize them based on your students' abilities - a great way to differentiate.
Another great app that is really growing on me is the Confer app.  I've been playing around with it and really started to like it today.  It's a simple way to organize your conferring notes during workshop.  You can set up different groups so you can easily organize your notes for whatever subject areas you might want.  So far, I've been keeping notes during reader's and writer's workshop.  The app has a lot of features that I haven't had the time to play with - but it has so many capabilities.  It was 10 bucks...but honestly SOOOOO worth it.  I've tried so many different ways to keep track of my conferring notes and I really think this one is going to be "it"!

We had a slow start this year with writer's workshop. Building our writing stamina has proven to be tricky business.  They'd start off strong and then peter out after about 10 minutes.  FINALLY, it seems that we have picked up steam.  Lightbulbs are going on left and right!

Today, the day after Halloween, I was just getting started with my mini-lesson. I looked out at the crowd and they were all crashing hard from their sugar buzz's...HA!  My lesson about staying close-in when ending your story was going to go over like a fart in church.  I knew I had to think fast on my feet....

My bin of stuffed buddies caught my eye.  I grabbed the frog {he jumps} and frantically grabbed a cute pink flamingo.  They stand on one leg and stay put for long periods of time...right?  I think so. I didn't do my research beforehand, it was on a whim...remember?

Do you remember this post/book about using concrete objects to solidify concepts? I've been all about that this year and have come up with some good ones on my own.  We've used rubber bands to remind ourselves to s t r e t c h out words when we write - listening for and writing down all of those sounds we hear.  We've used magnifying glasses to help us ZOOM in on one small moment ...writing all those details we remember to help us stretch out our stories.  And today....

When I described that frog endings JUMP away from the "...and then I went home", I threw the frog to the other side of the classroom.  That woke them up!  I took the leg of the flamingo and sort of pulled it up and had him stand there, still as a statue on that one leg.  He stayed put. Just like our flamingo endings should...close-in. 

When a teacher-friend came into my classroom at the end of workshop I asked the kiddos to explain "frog endings" and "flamingo endings" to her and I tell you...I have never seen so many kids raise their hands.  It really was mighty cool.  Now to see them apply what they learned.  We'll get there...

Have a great weekend!

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