Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Two for Tuesday Linky

Happy Tuesday! I am on VACATION!! However it's been stormy here at the beach so it is the perfect opportunity to get a quick blog post in.

I know I've been doing a lot of "linky parties", but for a newbie blogger this is the perfect way for me to figure this all out :-) Today I'm linking up with The Teaching Tribune for their "Two for Tuesday" linky. I have been following this linky for a couple of weeks now and have found a ton of great resources. Each blogger has put two items in their Teachers Pay Teachers store on sale at 50% off!!!

If you are not already back at school, you probably will be soon.  This is a great way to pick up some awesome resources at heavily discounted prices!

My Two For Tuesday Items:

Who says summer has to be over?!  This is a set of 6 task cards covering skills such as abbreviations, synonyms and antonyms, guide words, past and present verbs, plural nouns, and homophones.  All cards have a "summer" theme to help ease us back into the school year.  With the 50% discount, you will get each set of task cards for less than one dollar each.  Five sets of cards have a QR Code option to help engage students.  

Homophone task cards using QR code option in use

We all know that it is important for students to master their basic math facts.  These puzzles give students the opportunity to work with those math facts in a fun AND challenging way.  Students choose a puzzle to work on. They have to match up all the addition sentences and sums so that all sides match (that's the challenging part).  All the puzzles have an adorable animal picture to help guide students in putting the puzzle together and to allow them to check their work.  

One of the subtraction puzzles in use

I know it's TWO for Tuesday, but I'm on vacation, and in a great mood so I'm throwing in one more item to discount at 50%.  

I know I've mentioned my Back to School Language Arts Task Card before, but I'm so excited about them!  At 50% off it's like getting six sets of the task cards FREE! Make sure you head over to my store and check them out!

Parts of Speech task cards with motivating joke

Again thanks to The Teaching Tribune for hosting this awesome linky.  Head back over to The Teaching Tribune to check out other great resources marked down 50% today!

Monday, July 28, 2014


I am teaming up with some fantastic teacher-authors for a huge giveaway!  Diane at One Teacher's Adventures has reached 200 TpT followers, and as a celebration, she is hosting a giveaway of 3 fabulous prize packs. 

Each prize pack includes amazing products for the selected grade range plus winner's choice shopping sprees at participating stores! 

Check out the amazing prize packs below, then enter the giveaways!


a Rafflecopter giveaway


a Rafflecopter giveaway


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good Luck!

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Back to School Blog Hop

Today I'm linking up with some blogging buddies to do a Back to School Blog Hop.  We'll each be sharing some of our favorite back to school activities.  Make sure that when you're done reading here, you head on over to their pages and read some of their awesome tips!  

Thanks to Mackenzie at Brownbag Academics for hosting this event!

I always am really excited about the new school year.  As much as I love my summer break, I really do look forward to going back and meeting all my new students.  Despite my excitement, I am always very nervous.  That's why I LOVE reading the book First Day Jitters by Julie Danneberg.  
If you are not familiar with this story, RUN not walk to your nearest library and check it out!  This is the story of  Sarah Jane Hartwell not wanting to go to school.  She has many of the same fears that our students and ourselves have about starting a new year.  Eventually Mr. Hartwell makes her go.  The ending is a surprise, and I won't spoil it for you, but we can ALL probably relate to Sarah ;-)   I love to read this to students to show that they are not alone in being nervous.  

After reading the story, we get academic on the first day of school, and construct a picture graph of our emotions.  Students color a picture of themselves showing how they feel on the first day of school.  Then we construct a large picture graph as a class.  
We go over the parts of a graph, make the labels together, come up with a title, and then each student adds their symbol to the graph.  Then we analyze the data by using the picture graph.    

This activity also allows for me to check off a lot of procedures that need to be taught while still covering academic standards!  Students learn procedures for coming to the carpet to listen to a story, getting up to go back to their desks, using their supplies, working as a whole group, and more!  
On Monday of this week, I showed a picture of the "Meet Your Teacher" book that I mail out to students before school starts.  You can see it here.  I think in order to build a classroom community it is important that the students and I get to know each other as people.  That's why we spend time during the first week getting to know each other.  Just for stopping by today, I'm sharing two getting to know you activities :-)

1. Who doesn't love a good word search?
In this activity students hide information about themselves in a word find.  Then a partner interviews them to learn all about the person who made the word search.  The partner then looks for the information in the word find.  
You can pick this up for FREE in my Teachers Pay Teachers Store here or by clicking the picture.  

2. Another fun getting to know you game is Classmate Bingo.  Students write three facts about themselves.  Then each student makes a bingo board by writing the name of a classmate in each square.  The caller collects the facts from each student and reads the three facts.  The class tries to figure out who is being described and then covers that name on the bingo board.  
Click here or on the picture to download this activity.  Even though it's a game, you can use this as yet another opportunity to teach rules and procedures.  

Finally I'm planning to introduce center work by using my Back to School Language Arts Task Cards.  There are several skills found in these cards.  By giving these to students at the beginning of year, I will be able to begin to assess what they know.  

These task cards are different from your ordinary task cards.  Each card has an answer choice on it.  Next to the answer choice is a letter.  The letters are written on the answer sheet.  When students have completed each task card, they will have the answer to a school related joke.  As someone else pointed out to me, youngsters sometimes have difficulty understanding jokes, so this will get those critical thinking skills in!  You can purchase this from my Teachers Pay Teachers store here or by clicking the picture!

Now for something REALLY exciting!  I'm going to attempt my first blog giveaway!!  I'm giving away one set of task cards from the bundle above.  You can enter to win the Back to School Parts of Speech Task Cards!  You can check them out here.  Enter Below and check back on Monday evening to see who the lucky winner is!  Good Luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway  Thanks for stopping by on the Blog Hop.  Make sure you visit the other bloggers participating to grab awesome tips and even a few FREEBIES!!  Read the message below from Brownbag Academics and you'll see the list of bloggers participating!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Back 2 School - Assessment

I'm linking up again with Mrs. D's Corner and Miss V's Busy Bees to talk about more Back to School goodness.  Last week we talked about Behavior Management, this week we are talking about assessment.  This is probably one of my least favorite things to talk about, and I almost skipped this week.  However, it IS an important part of our job, so I decided to go ahead and try to write about it.

A lot of what we have to do is told to us by the distric.  We have benchmark assessments, unit assessments, DRA2, etc.  We also have rubrics that are used for each standard.  Actually, we don't call them rubrics anymore, they are "learning progression scales".

Since there is so much we HAVE to do a certain way, I thought I'd share a couple of the ways I assess students informally.  I feel like you find out so much about students, just by watching them, talking to them, and listening to them.  I hate to admit that when I first started teaching, I kept a lot of these observations in my head.  I now know that it's actually pretty important to write them down.  One, I'm getting older and can't remember as well, and two, it's nice to have proof to back up what you say.

Here are a few things that I've used in my classroom to take anecdotal notes and keep track of my informal observations.


I overlap and tape index cards to a clipboard so that just the student names show.  I also write what day of the week I would conference or meet with students to help keep me organized. 

When I'm walking around the room to observe or conference with students I carry my clipboard, flip up the card of the student I'm observing, and write my notes.  I find it easier to carry a clipboard than a big binder with a lot of papers.  At the end of the quarter, or when the card is full, I add the card to a larger binder with that student's information.  Having all my notes is SO helpful for when it comes time to write report card comments or when conferencing with parents.  

2.  I do also keep a binder at my reading table for when I am meeting with small groups.  When meeting with a reading group I use this page: 
I write all the students' names down and as I am working with the group, I write my observations about that student next to their name.  

When I'm working with individual students during math or writer's workshop, I have an entire page for that student, and write notes as I'm conferencing.  It's easy to see what we worked on during the previous meeting.  
I've tried notes pages with more options, but it was to much to keep up with.  I like this paper because it's simple :-)  You can grab a copy of these note taking pages here!

3. To say I love task cards is an understatement.  However, when students are working, I often have to stop and solve the problem myself to check that they have the answer correct.  I've been doing something a little different with the task cards I've been creating.  I add answer choices to the cards and there is a letter next to each answer choice.  The letters answer a joke on the answer sheet.  This helps me assess because as I'm walking around the room and looking at the answer sheets, I can quickly tell if they have a wrong answer because I know the answer to the joke and it's easy to see if they have the wrong letter.  
To see exactly what I'm talking about you can download this freebie in my store by clicking here, or on the picture.  I also have a set of eight back to school language arts task cards that have a joke.  

 4. Finally, I am OBSESSED with sticky notes!  Not only do they come in fun colors and shapes, they can be a great assessment tool as well!  
I type questions on sticky notes and place them in the books students are using for guided reading.  Since I can't listen to six students reading at the exact same time, these questions give me the chance to see what students are thinking while they are reading.  When they get to a sticky note in the book, they stop and write their response to the question.  When I get to each student, I can either discuss what they wrote, or review it later to give me an idea of how they are answering certain types of questions.  I can also see if a student is struggling to answer the question on the sticky note, and I know that's a great time for me to jump in.  I try to write questions that involve several reading strategies.  When the students are done, I can keep the sticky notes and have a record of their thinking!   It would take me FOREVER to hand write the sticky notes for EVERY member of the reading group, typing takes no time at all!

This is another sticky note that I typed on: 
I printed a bunch of these out, carried them around as I met with students in reading and writing conferences, and then stuck them on a page in a big binder with the student's name at the top.  Come report card time, I just flipped to the student's page, and used the sticky notes as my notes for typing comments.    

As if you need an excuse to to go out and buy more sticky notes I wrote out what I hope are step-by-step directions for printing on sticky notes using Microsoft Power Point.   

The possibilities are endless!  What are some other ideas you have for using sticky notes for assessment?  Let me know in the comments!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Monday Made It

I am SO excited about this school year, and I actually can't wait for it to start.  Teachers don't go back until August 20th, but I've been using this "down time" to start getting ready.  Today I'm linking up with Tara from 4th Grade Frolics  for her Monday Made It linky.

While there is a lot I should be doing around the house, all of my "made its" have been classroom related. 
I don't know about you, but as excited as I am about the start of a new school year, I am still incredibly nervous.  I also know that it is nerve-racking for students as well.  To try to help ease nerves, I always mail a little "Meet Your Teacher" book to the students before school starts.  In this book, I give students a small sneak peek into what we will do this year, information about my family, my fur baby, my hobbies, and my favorites when I was in 2nd grade.  

In addition to the book I throw in a couple of "Sensational 2nd Grader" pencils.  What kid doesn't like to get mail?!  In the large envelope, I include a smaller envelope that is labeled "For Your Parents".  In this envelope is a short letter introducing myself to the parents and a questionnaire (which I've tried to upload here if you're interested) that will help me get to know their child.  This year, I have made a Google Form with the same info as the questionnaire.  I'm debating sending parents the link and allowing them to submit the information electronically (I know I prefer typing information instead of writing it).  I've never done that before, and I'm concerned about the security of the information.  I'll have to look into that more.  Have you used Google Forms?  Is there anything I need to do to make it secure?

As I've mentioned before, I'm switching schools next year.  At my new school they select a theme for the year.  This year's theme has to do with building.  Suggestions for class decor include construction and Lego things.  This is NOT easy for this pink and chevron loving girl.  It's hard to make bulldozers and hammers "cutesy".  I made a "Where are We" sign to hang on the door.  
There isn't any pink, chevron, or polka dots, but I think it gets the job done :-)

I'm not sure if I'm going to keep my final "made it".  I mentioned in another post that I'm not positive I'm going to keep the clip chart, and may go to strictly using Class Dojo.  I did make a new clip chart just in case I decide to go that route.  
I have a BUNCH more projects that I'm working on to get ready for the new year, but these are the projects I've completed.  What have YOU made this week?

Friday, July 18, 2014

Five for Friday

Today I'm linking up with Doodle Bugs to share five random things about my week.  

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The biggest thing about this week, is I started this blog!  I'm so excited to share my ideas and get to know other bloggers. I put together a Blogging Binder to help keep me organized :-)

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I went to Target and got a ton of stuff for my classroom.  My favorite find was in the dollar spot. They had packs of three blank hardcover books.  I can't wait to use these for publishing student work next year!  I've already cleaned out two different Targets, and still want need more.

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I got a new (to me) car!  I loved my old car, but it was eight years old and didn't have many features.  My new car is a 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee, and it has every feature you could imagine.  I love it so much!

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I'm switching schools next year, I'm so excited and nervous at the same time.  I made plans last night to meet my new team next week (there are 8 of us!), and I can't wait!!
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I changed over the name of Teachers Pay Teachers store to "The Cutesy Teacher" from "Thrilled in Third Grade".  I never was really attached to "Thrilled in Third Grade", but change is hard! I also am super excited about my Back to School Language Arts Task Card Bundle!

I'd love to hear what you've been up to this week :-)

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Back 2 School- Behavior Management

I'm linking up with Mrs. D's Corner and Miss V's Busy Bees to talk "Back 2 School".  There will be a lot of topics to discuss over the next few weeks, but this week's topic is Behavior Management.

Something that I've learned over the years is what works for one class, might not work for your next class.  I've also learned that you have to be willing to change your plans, even in the middle of the year.

Here's what my behavior management plan looks like:

1. Clip Chart

I've had this one for three years now, and as you can see it's looking a little very rough.  I started this past year using just the clip chart.  I like that this chart allows for students who are working hard and following the rules to be recognized by moving their clip up.  It also allows students who have moved their clips down, to work hard to move it back up again.  Each student kept a calendar in their take home folder, and would fill out their color for the day and have their parents sign.  If a student has made it up to "outstanding", they get a coupon.  Which brings me to number 2!

2. Reward Coupons

I love these coupons that I bought from the amazing Mel D from Seusstastic Classroom Inspirations.  You can find them at her TPT store here.  I love these rewards because they don't cost me a thing, but they are fun for the students.  To me, they are the perfect incentive for positive behavior.

3. "Marble Jar"

This is one that I kind of let slide during the year.  This was for whole class incentives.  When I caught the entire class working hard, or when they earned a compliment from another staff member, I put a marble on the jar.  Once we filled the jar, we got a whole class reward.  I let the students vote on what they wanted as their reward. Some things they chose this year: extra recess, bring a stuffed animal to school, and eat lunch in the classroom with an educational video playing.

4. Bucket Fillers

I categorize this under behavior management because I believe that when students respect each other, and show kindness to each other, they will be more motivated to behave in class.  During the first week of school we read "How Full is Your Bucket?" which explains the concept of Bucket Filling.  Each student decorated their own bucket, and we taped them on to the card envelopes.  In the green bucket that you can see in the picture, are blank bucket filling papers.  Students write short kind notes to each other, and then put the paper in their classmate's bucket.  At the end of the week we empty our buckets and read our notes. If I noticed a student's bucket was looking empty, I would fill out a note and put in their bucket.

5. Star Student

This is another one you might not always see under the "behavior management" category, but I feel it's important that each student get to know their classmates.  By knowing and respecting your classmates, you are going to be less likely to do something to upset them (acting up in class).  I'm working on revamping my Star Student program for next year, but basically each day of the week the Star Student brought in something from home to share with the class.

6. Class Dojo

I started using Class Dojo in the middle of the year, and to say I LOVE it, is an understatement!   If you have not tried it out, please do.  It's a free app that you can download. I just keep it up on my phone and iPad during the school day.  You can also project it from your computer on to an interactive whiteboard.

First you put all of your students' names in
I love the fun little avatars that you can choose!  Next, you choose positive behaviors you want your kiddos to work on and negative behaviors that you might see occur.

When a student is acting positive, you click on their name, choose a behavior from the list and it awards the student a point.
If a student is misbehaving, you do the same thing with the negative behaviors:
You can look at reports of individual students, or the whole class:
And my favorite part... you can communicate behaviors with the parents!!  They can log in and look at their child, or you can send messages to them.
For next year, I'm thinking about abandoning the clip chart, and just using Class Dojo.  I'm planning on still using the coupons as an incentive for earning a certain number of points in the day.  I'm also thinking when the class gets to a certain percentage of positive behavior, having a whole class reward.

Thanks for stopping by my blog today.  I'd love to hear what you do in your room.  If you use Class Dojo, do you use any other rewards or incentives?  Do you send home a daily behavior chart indicating the number of points your students earn?  I started in the middle of the year, but if you did it all year, do you feel it kept the students attention the whole year, or did they stop caring toward the end of the year?  I'd love to hear your thoughts!