Saturday, July 27, 2013

I Think You'll Lovee the Snugg a Whole Bunchh! {I doo}

I haven't had my "official" back to school dream know the one where you get to school late, in your underwear, the kids are out of control and you can't get control of them.  Yeah, I haven't had that one yet.  I did, however, have a dream that I got a class set of iPads.  I woke up from that dream with a smile on my face - for about 3 seconds...then I realized it was just a dream.  I only had one iPad and it's my personal one.

I use my personal iPad in the classroom.  I've been told I'm crazy but it comes in so handy for so many different reasons.  I never let the kids "go off" with it...they have to use it in front of me at our guided reading table.  They use it to practice sight words, story grammar, comprehension {they love to type in an answer to a question that's "just for them" using "notes"} math facts, illustrating what they know using the Show Me app...

It's free!!!

Anyhoo...I just love using my iPad but I wanted a case that would be a bit sturdier than the one I had, but not bulky {because it is mine - and I didn't want one of those big bulky plastic ones that work best for pure classroom iPads}.

Finding a good one was on my list for the summer...

...then I was contacted by The Snugg who asked if I would accept a complimentary case in exchange for a review.  Perfect timing, if you ask me!

They have a lot of cases to choose from.  I wanted one that was a bit sassy but would protect my iPad a bit more than my old ones.  I also wanted one that you could "stand up" or "prop" the iPad up with.  My two old cases couldn't do that....

There's even a little spot on top to store a stylus...

Fits in there nice and "Snugg"

If you're in the market for a new case...I'd say you can't go wrong with The Snugg.  They have iPhone cases, Kindle covers, MacBook Air cases, and other accessories. 

They have some fun colors too!
The leather is so soft.  HA!  I don't know why that matters to me but it's like buttah! Now that I'm looking at those color choices I want one in blue, and orange!!!!  It's a fashion statement, doncha' know?!

Michigan children's author, Maria Dismondy is doing a summer series on creating family traditions. I had the honor of guest blogging about some of our summer family fun ideas....head on over by clicking below.

Have a great weekend...we're off to celebrate my "big baby's" 11th birthday...


Wednesday, July 24, 2013 ... have you heard of it?

Happy Tuesday {that's what it was to me all day - until my husband broke the news that it was Wednesday!}!!!

No humidity?  I'll take it.  Sunny and blue skies?  Yup - I'll take that too.  It has been so incredibly hot and muggy here in MI it's been unbearable.  You needed to either be in a pool or air conditioning. Holy hotness. But today...was GORGEOUS!

I was talking to a friend on the phone the other day {The phone grows out of my ear, doncha know?  I'm on that thing constantly}and she mentioned that her school district is using to do their lesson planning.  That same day a blogger friend asked about it which piqued my interest enough to check it out.

Have you heard of it?  I think I may just have fallen head over heels in love with it.

Up until now, I've sort of been in this century...sort of. I mean, I don't hand write *everything* I do have a template that I write on and it has always worked for me {and I'm open to defaulting back to it if I fall apart}.  

But having them online, where I can access them anywhere, and easily send them to my teammies, or the office gals when I have a guest teacher, AND can very simply include the Common Core Standards...that's why I'm pretty sure I'm going this route for this coming school year.  

I can even add notes to my lesson plans that help the guest teacher understand our routines and where to find materials.

AND...I can include hyperlinks in my plans or attach docs to them.  

AND...I can make them visible to my teammates, my principal, my parents {there's a homework section}...

OH and it's only 12 buckaroonies a YEAR! Really - that's all. If you're interested in hearing more about it here are a couple tutorials from their website.  You can click {here} to see every tutorial.

It really only took me about 15 minutes to figure out how it works - I'm still playing around under my 30 day free trial... and find cool features each time. Are you like me?  When I find something new and useful for the next school year it makes me all the more excited to get back {don't get me wrong - I'm still enjoying my summer and am so happy we don't go back until the end of August}.

I just went back and re-read this and it sounds like I'm in cahoots with - I'm not. I don't even know the geniuses on the other side {?!} but I think I'd probably hug them if I did. I just had to share with all of you, something that I think will make my life easier and hopefully yours.

I have to share one more thing with you...I walked {like a pep step walk} 8 miles today!!!!  It felt so good...I haven't mentioned it here {uh, I don't think}, but I'm on a quest for a healthier me.  I've been "Instagramming" my progress if you're looking for motivation....

I've walked off 22 pounds so far!!!!!  Holla!

Friday, July 5, 2013

Favorite Pins Friday

I'm linking up with Cara over at The First Grade Parade ...

All my days blend together - so I'm gonna guess it's Friday!

I have some favorite pins I'd like to share with you...and maybe, just maybe you'll actually do some of them. I'm a pinner...{sort of} but truth be told, I'm not always a do-er.

My favorite teacher-y pins...

Love this idea from Kimberly over at Funky First Grade Fun - I'm either going to use this during out Meet & Greet or at Curriculum Night.  It's a freebie and adorable!!!!

This genius idea came from Mrs. Verdon.  I just love, love, love organization!!!! I *try* to be, but it doesn't always work out...but this gives me hope for work on writing during Daily 5.

And these dry erase circles...

...had I known about these sooner - many a headache or two {or three} would have been avoided.  All the clunkin' and bangin' of my massively huge whiteboards.  Kids "shopping" for just the right one. {"please just pick one"} Can't wait to stick those suckers to my table!!!!!  Thanks Kinder Keri!!!

And a few personal faves...

Got this lovely idea from Momma Did It - we're heading up north soon and I can't wait to do this with my own kiddos.

I have big plans to do a lot of chillin' on our vacay.  One of my Mommy-To-Do's...

...customize my iPhone icons...I'm easy to please, right?  I found this little tutorial {here}.  I told myself I was going to "unplug" for the trip.  The cell service is spotty anyway.  But pretty-ing up my iPhone doesn't really count as being on technology, right?

We rent a different cottage up north each summer.  I love exploring Northern Michigan with my family.  A new tradition we are starting is to leave our "footprint" at the cottage before we leave. Isn't this cleverly adorable?

I can't find the "person" behind this pin!

And I'll leave you with a few randoms...

Baked Zucchini Chips, anyone?

Anybody handy out there want to make this for me?
Perfect for a scrunchy foyer like mine...

And I'll leave you with a pin I actually DID...
There ya have it!  

Check out my other pins {here}...

...maybe that's just me...are you a pinner and a do-er?


Monday, July 1, 2013

An Apple a Day Linky - Small Group Instruction

Hey All -

I am loving this linky because I find it so helpful as a teacher and I hope you do too!  I'm linking up with Leigh from The Applicious Teacher to talk with you about Small Group Instruction.  You can read about Whole Group Instruction and Classroom Management which are also part of her weekly shares.

I try to incorporate small group instruction quite often throughout the day.  Usually this instruction happens at the good 'ol "curvy table"...

But it can really happen anywhere.  On one of our carpets, at a group of desks, wherever I can get a small group gathered.

Some times throughout the day I find myself engaging my students in SGI are:

*Guided Reading {Daily 5}
*Writer's Workshop {Table conferences}
*Math Workplaces

Guided Reading/Daily 5 is probably when most of us incorporate SGI into our classrooms.  In a first grade classroom we don't sit much, so when we do sit for any length of time, our rumps aren't quite used to it - so I suggest a nice chair.  You can't see mine in this picture...but it's on wheels and is pretty cushy. I also have a blanket over the back because right behind me is the air vent and no matter what time of year - it gets chilly.

At the beginning of the year I wear a hat - any 'ol hat and it can change daily - cowboy, Dr. Seuss, turkey, baseball...whatever I pull out of my closet.  This serves as a visual reminder that they should not interrupt me during SGI...I'm an uber stickler on this.  Blood?  Barf?  Then it can wait.  Eventually, I phase out the hats and only use them during assessments. 

I'm sure most of you have read... this book The Sisters mention how important it is to do what you'll do as a teacher while the kids are practicing what they'll do.  This was a major light bulb moment for me.  In years past, I walked around and managed behavior through proximity, redirection, tiny whisper reminders...not knowing that this type of management reinforces that your students will need you to help manage their attention and behavior during this independent work time. The first year I created an anchor chart that explained to my students that they have a job and I have a job and then PRACTICED it that SGI was transformed.  Of course, there are still small fires that have to be put out - but for the most part, my kiddos are able to monitor their own behaviors because that's how we practiced.

Speaking of monitoring - some of my readers may already know this about me, but I'm not a clock watcher {I'm notoriously late for specials} so running my Daily 5 the way The Sisters suggest just didn't work for me.  If you want to read about how my kiddos manage themselves when I working with a small group, you can {here} and {here}.

As far as my actual SGI goes - I think in order for it to be successful it needs to be relatively short.  I try to keep my guided reading groups to about 15 minutes...20 minutes tops.  It's pretty structured and I keep all of my materials close by {if you peak behind my table picture you'll see a tall cart - that's where I keep all of my materials for guided reading groups...white boards, markers, pencils, pointers, highlighter tape, magnetic letters...they are FULL of reading goodies}.  I also color code my groups: red, blue, green and yellow.  I keep the materials I need for that specific day in those same color bins from Really Good Stuff...

In each bin I keep a spiral bound notebook {of course it matches} this is where I write my plans and any notes from the guided reading group.  My parapro and I communicate in these notebooks as well.  She's a SUPER great note taker! {Note: I do have my Confer App set to use during guided reading, but I find it easier to jot notes/take running records in my good 'ol fashioned spiral notebook}

During writer's workshop I do both individual conferences as well as table conferences.  I use the Confer App to keep track {super techie, right?}but who I confer with is listed on a piece of chart paper {low tech...ha!}, kept front and center in my room.  I have each day of the week listed and divide my students between the five days.  Some days I meet with those kids individually or I call them all back to the table it just depends.  Other times, if I have a group of kids who need help with the same skill, I'll call those kids back to the table instead.  If I meet with individuals, I keep those conferences short {5 minutes tops} if I do a table conference - I'll usually keep those kids back at the table for the whole time {they like it back there} and do some re-teaching, then make the rounds, come back and do some checking in...

Math Workplaces are essentially math centers.  We use Bridges Math and much of our time is spent in Workplaces.  Much like writer's workshop, I either meet with individuals and confer with them or pull a group who needs help with a specific skill back to the carpet {my curvy table is being used}.

I hope you head over to Leigh's blog and check out what other bloggers have to say about small group instruction. If you have any questions - ask away! I love "talking shop"!

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