Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Don't miss out!

Teachers Pay Teachers is having a sale Monday and Tuesday!  Many teachers are putting their stores on sale up to 20% off, then TpT is offering an additional 10% off.  My store will be on sale starting Monday!  Enjoy!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Thankful Writing Using the Triple Gold Sentence

I don't know how it goes in your classroom, but sometimes getting my kids to write can be like pulling teeth.  So many of them have such trouble with idea generation, and actually putting their thoughts together in a coherent way is next to impossible.  Don't get me wrong, some of my kids are prolific writers with a true ability to communicate.  These children, however, are few and far between.  That brings me to another thing I learned from Mr. Biffle at the WBT workshop I attended.  It's called the Triple Gold Sentence.  The triple gold sentence simply asks students, in their introductory paragraph, to name three things they can make a point about in their writing.  Each of the next three subsequent paragraphs is based on one of those points.  They would then wrap it up with a closing paragraph.

It's really not much more than the old 5 paragraph essay, but it helped remind me that not everything students write has to have some original format.  At the beginning of each year, I use The Important Book as a model for their first piece of writing.  For some reason, once that first paper is written, I drop the idea of having a "frame" for the students to use.  When I heard about the triple gold, I realized that I could help my students see that writing can be simple if you have a plan.

This week we are writing with a Thanksgiving theme.  I'm allowing my students to choose between two Thanksgiving themed prompts:

Today I talked with them about the structure their paragraph would follow:

We also prepped for our writing by making a web, here's my example:

I think that this "frame" will allow for my students to quickly produce a quality expository piece of writing.  I can't wait to share a finished piece with you all. 

Monday, November 5, 2012

Whole Brain Teaching & Thankfulness

As I mentioned in my previous post, Saturday I attended an all-day workshop.  I know this doesn't sound like the best way to spend a Saturday, but the workshop was on Whole Brain Teaching, and it was put on by Chris Biffle himself.  That man is full of energy!  I hope I am half as energetic after 40 years of teaching as he is.

Chris Biffle
I'm sure many of you are familiar with WBT, but for those of you who aren't, I just have to share the basics.

The Core 4:

Class, Yes: To gain student attention, the teacher simply says "Class" in any manner they choose (varying tone, or drawl).  The students quickly fold their hands, turn to face the teacher, and respond with "Yes" mimicking the teacher.

I've used this "call back" for several years now.  My students like it, because they never know how I will call for them.  I haven't been very good at asking them to fold their hands and focus on me, but I'm certainly going to work harder at that.  It's not very effective if the only thing you get them to do is quiet down, you really want the students' full attention when you call for them.

Mirror: WBT is big on using gestures, attaching physical movement to concepts to engage the motor cortex. When asking students to mirror, you simply say "Mirror" and students hands snap up, palms out, and they repeat the word "Mirror". Students follow your gestures with their own hands thus engaging that motor cortex. You can use mirror when telling a story, giving directions, describing the steps in a procedure, demonstrating a process, you will have your students locked into what you're saying. If they're not locked in, you will easily know because you won't see the movements.

I've never used this particular strategy in my classroom. Saturday was the first I'd really heard of it. I'm excited to see how it might increase productivity in my classroom.

Scoreboard: The purpose of scoreboard is to motivate your class.  What class wouldn't like to earn a few extra minutes of recess, game time, etc?  You simply have a scoreboard somewhere in the room.  (Drawn on a whiteboard, in a file for your SMARTBoard, or with the new WBT scoreboard app).  The scoreboard is a simple t-chart.  One side is a smiley face, one side is a frown (or you can vary to reflect your preferences).   When the students are doing something right, you put a point on the positive side, when they receive a point, the students clap their hands and say "Oh yeah" then get back to what they were doing.  When the students are doing something incorrectly, you put a point on the negative side, when they receive a negative point, the students lift their shoulders and do a quick "hmmpf", then get back to what they were doing.  The key is to always keep each side of the scoreboard within 3 points.  You don't want to over-reward to the point that positives don't mean anything or over-punish where negatives cause feelings of failure.

I haven't used the scoreboard before either.  I have a clip chart in my room that I use for individual positives and negatives, but I don't have a lot to keep the entire class motivated and working toward a common goal.  I think scoreboard will be a great way to unite my kids in working together and encouraging one another to do the right thing.

Teach, Okay: Have you students partnered or in a group of three if necessary.  Present a small amount of information, complete with gestures. When you finish, look at the class and clap two times, say “Teach!” Your students clap twice and respond “OK!”, then proceed to turn to their partner and teach them what you just shared using the same words and gestures.  We all know that explaining something to someone else is a great way to increase and show understanding.  Teach, Okay is a great place to practice this.

We practiced this throughout the course of the workshop.  I can't believe the amount of knowledge Mr. Biffle crammed into our brains in the first 45 minutes using this strategy.  I know this will revolutionize my classroom instruction.

One of the great things about WBT is that Mr. Biffle isn't in it to make money.  You can go to the WBT website and download the materials FOR FREE!  If anything I've talked about sparked your interest, please go there and check it out.  Also, a lot of TpT sellers have developed FREE items to go along with WBT.  Lastly, there are TONS of videos out there modeling these strategies.  Check them out!

I feel like this workshop is something I will be thankful for.  Which segues to the next portion of my post, the Top 10 Things I'm Thankful For linky party hosted by Stories by Storie.  What a great time to think about all that we are thankful for...

I have a great family.  We haven't always agreed on everything, or understood each other, but we've always loved each other.  We may not have always said it, but we showed it in the ways we cared for one another.  I'm blessed to have a hard-working father who always did what he could for us.  I'm blessed to have a truly empathetic mother who always encouraged us despite her own insecurities.  I love my brothers and their incredibly unique personalities.

My boyfriend is one of the kindest, smartest people I've ever met.  He puts up with me, and loves me unconditionally even when I'm acting unlovable.  I don't know what I'd do without him.

My best friend, Kelly, was my teaching partner 2 years ago.  When the tornado struck our community and destroyed the house she lived in, she and her husband moved in with us until they found a new home.  This transformed us from co-workers to family.  I have unconditional love for her.

I have a great group of friends.  I have friends whom I've known since my elementary school and jr. high days.  They are a quirky and amazing bunch of intelligent and beautiful people.  I don't know what I would do without them.

I have been blessed with hundreds of wonderful students over the last decade.  I cannot picture my life without students.  Every time I run into a former student I'm overwhelmed with the awesome remembrance of a special year.

I have three great teaching partners this year.  I'm so glad that I have them to work with, I don't know how I could do it without them.  I also have a great school, we all work hard to do what's best for our kids.  I work for an AMAZING district that's really pulled itself up by its bootstraps after losing multiple buildings in a tornado.  The same can be said for my community.  I don't know how we did it, but after surviving and EF5, we are rebounding and rebuilding.  Amazed by the strength and resiliency of my Joplin.

Lastly, I'm thankful for freedom.  As I watch the news, I'm daily reminded of how blessed I am to be an American.  I don't care what your politics are, you MUST feel blessed to have so many freedoms.  Think about that as you decide to go to the polls tomorrow!

Much love!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

November Currently

November... it's hard to believe that the first day of school, the first quarter, and parent/teacher conferences have come and gone. We are a mere 12 school days away from Thanksgiving break and only 40 shopping days left until Christmas *mind blown*. When I was a kid I remember how long school years seemed to last, and now 6 and over a quarter of them have flown by with me in the driver's seat! To celebrate November, I'm linking up with Farley's famous Currently!

It's been a mostly lazy weekend.  We went to see Wreck-It-Ralph on Friday.  It was really good.  I even teared up a couple of times.  I would definitely recommend it for anyone who enjoys video game, as there are a lot of references to beloved games from 80s & 90s childhoods.  The message is great too.  Yesterday, I had a workshop in Whole Brain Teaching with Chris Biffle... yes, THE Chris Biffle.  He is so energetic!  I was almost scared of him.  I like his stuff, I plan to implement it with more fidelity now that I've been more officially trained.  Last night was a pizza-delivery-sit-on-the-couch-watch-four-hours-of-Downton-Abbey kind of night.  It was glorious.  I must stay Episode 5 of Season 3 made my jaw drop.  Today we continued taking it easy while doing our weekly grocery shopping (bleh) and then celebrating my step-grandpa's 83rd birthday.  Now, we're just sitting back enjoying the fleeting hours of a relaxing weekend.

While I still don't understand that necessity of Daylight Saving Time as a mostly non-agrarian society, I sure do appreciate the extra hour of sleep it brings me in the fall.  Though I dread that time in the spring when it will be stolen back!

Thinking & wanting kind of go together.  Realizing that Thanksgiving is so close really makes my sense of urgency to get Christmas shopping done sooner exponentially increase.  I really dislike trying to navigate retail stores once Black Friday arrives.  If I want to shop in-store all of that must happen before November 20.  After that, it's just useless so I go online instead.  This year, we are taking a vacation from December 20 through Christmas Eve, so no last minute for me either.  Better start thinking...

Two of my grade-level partners are down-and-out this weekend.  They will have subs tomorrow, and I have a half-day work day at our admin building.  I can only imagine how that's going to go 3/4 classrooms with a sub... Praying that Tuesdays returns us to normality.  Praying that we all stay healthy after this too!  It's hard enough to prepare for a sub, let alone when you feel icky.

In my classroom, I turn to Pandora for music.  Despite the annoying ads, I like the endless options.  We listen to Disney radio and the kids love guessing the movie each song is from.  I love exposing them to songs from classic Disney as well.  Javiar Colon radio is great for mellow tunes.  And of course there's the annoying upbeat Kidz Bop that the kids love so much.

If you'd like to join Farley's linky party, you can find it here.  Be sure to observe the rules!

Last, but CERTAINLY not least...don't forget to vote on Tuesday!  Exercise your right and responsibility!  :-)

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Who Am I? Linky Party

Congrats to the winners of Rockin' Teacher Materials's GIGANTIC giveaway!  So glad I could participate.  I hope the winners love their items! :-)

Kindergarten Korner is hosting a Halloween Costume linky party, and I couldn't resist participation! Before last year, I worked at schools that didn't allow costumes on Halloween.  However, the BF and I have spent the last three years wearing "matchy" costumes.  Couples costumes are often a lot more creative than our choices, but we've enjoyed trying to find coordinating pairs.  Last year, I recycled my 2010 costume and one of my teaching partner and I dressed as Shaggy and Velma.  This year, the BF and I decided we were going to go super current and dress as Dipper and Mabel Pines from Gravity Falls.  If you haven't seen this Disney show, you should!  I've mentioned the costume to my students and they're super excited to see it.  The BF is going to come for our class party (last year he had to because it was essentially my room mother, this year he gets to come for fun) to help make the costume complete.

2010 Shaggy & Velma
2011 Shaggy & Velma @ school

2011 Waldo & Wenda

2012 Dipper & Mabel
What will you all be doing for Halloween?  Share and link up!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

4 Days and Red Ribbon Week Door Decor

Only 4 days left to enter and win this HUGE giveaway at Rockin' Teacher Materials.

We are observing Red Ribbon Week in our school this week.  To celebrate we are having a door decorating contest.  I love seeing the creativity of my co-workers!  I thought I would share a couple doors :-)

This one is by one of my grade-level partners.  She Mod Podged all of those DumDum wrappers together to make the big one.  She is too, too artsy!

This one is by one of the second grade teachers.  Too cute!

This one is mine, we also had a bit of a book theme as a possibility, so I did the drug-free/book themed door.

How do you celebrate Red Ribbon Week at your school?

Monday, October 22, 2012

5 Days Left and Visual Bookmarking

Hi all!  Don't forget to to enter to win this HUGE giveaway at Rockin' Teacher Materials.  Only 5 days left to get your name "in the hat".  While you're checking that out, be sure to hop over to my Teachers Pay Teachers store and see all the stuff I've put up.  It's really a random mix of stuff.

Also, I stumbled across this really great way to share bookmarks a few months ago, and I am excited to tell you about it.  It's called Tizmos.  It's like Delicious and Portaportal, but the best part is: IT'S VISUAL!  It's great for all ages of students and even adults.  The thing I like about Tizmos is that when you add a link, it generates an image of the website to serve as a visual remind of what the link is.  I know that I sometimes remember what a website looks like, but I cannot remember the name.  Tizmos solves that problem for me!  I've set all of my classroom computers to go to our Tizmos as the homepage.  I've included all of the links we frequently use, and I don't have to constantly remind my students of web addresses.  Another great way to use this would be sending the link for parents, it's great for home-school resources.  I strongly encourage you to check it out!  Let me know what you think! :-)

See how nice it looks?

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Giant Giveaway & Classroom Update (long overdue)

Have you seen the GIANT giveaway hosted by Hillary at Rockin' Teacher Materials?  You can win 33 different items for all ages.  This giveaway is also a great way to find some great blogs and teacher stores!  Check it out here!  Good luck!

Also, I noticed that it's been a looooong time since my last update.  The last time I shared pictures of my classroom it was still in TOTAL disarray.  We are now 1 quarter down, so I thought I would share a panorama of my classroom as it looks today!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

September Currently...

I can't wait to hear the First Lady speak.  I feel like she is a great speaker, and a good role model for all girls.

It's only the third full week of school, but I am pleased as punch that it's already 1 down, 3 to go.

Next week, I will be conducting my second teacher training for my job as technology integration teacher.  In the previous session we covered classroom management in rooms filled with technology.  This time, I think I'm going to cover inquiry-based learning.  I would really love any suggestions!

Who is with me on this weather thing?  SW Missouri has been a firey inferno of awful.  Granted, on the days that it rained from Hurricane Isaac we went out of town, to dry old OKC.  I'm looking forward to the weekend forecast, two days in the 70s will heal this heart.

Anyone else running out of time before running out of tasks?  If you're not, any good time management tips??

I'm eagerly awaiting the Apple news conference next week, hoping for the launch of the new iPhone, I always upgrade as soon as new stuff comes out.  SUPER BAD HABIT!  Another bad habit?  Pinterest. Bad in a good way though.  I spend my entire life too much time seeking out pictures of awesome stuff.  I feel like I've become a better teacher thanks to this great site.  Books, what teacher doesn't love books?  Currently, I'm in the midst of reading 5 different books.  Perhaps that's why I'm not getting any of them done.  That and Pinterest. :-/

Monday, September 3, 2012

Back at it?

I can't believe that I haven't posted anything in over a month.  Sorry to all my fans (ha!).  What a crazy month it has been.  I've had flipped classroom meetings, technology integrations meetings, mentor meetings, school-wide retreat, PBIS meetings, my best friend's wedding reception, our 1st annual neighborhood block party, the list goes on and on!  On top of it all, I had a classroom to prepare ad kiddos to plan for.  Rather than dwelling on all the requirements, I'm going to focus on showing off my space as part of Swimming Into Second's Linky Party.

We were able to get back into our school on August 2, my classroom was a total disaster area.  I had packed up all of my stuff, in a very precarious way--obviously.  So that the floors could be waxed.

It became progressively worse...

Until finally, the day of Open House, I shoved the last of my things away in my cabinets and put on my happy face.  Here is the "final" product.

Welcome to Room 504!

I did an Americana/Election-ish theme, kind of.

A peek in from the door.

On the right side of this picture is my Science/Social Studies featured reads shelf.  I bought it at the school auction, needless to say my custodian wasn't happy to see it, but I LOVE it.  It's double sided, once side will feature books for my current social studies unit, the other will have current science unit books.

Over view of the classroom.

Storage areas, the blue cabinets have my teacher books.  The white cabinets have supplies and textbooks that I don't use.  The wheely carts have math supplies, and games.  You can also see my clip chart, and my lunch check in.

Left side of the room.  The white cart is my iPod lab.  The orange board is my Math Focus Wall.  
Then on my white board, I have my Learning Targets.  You can pick those up at my TPT store.

Right side of the room.  My writing process pocket chart (the pencil) will have reference materials in it that students can use throughout the writing process.  The white bulletin board is focused on writing.

Library and reading area.  The big bulletin board (actually a piece of insulating foam from Lowe's for $12!!) is my reading focus board.  Brought the couch out from storage.  Love that thing.

Teacher area with small group table.  I finally got them to take out my useless desk.

I have 21 precious 5th graders who have filled my classroom with laughter and learning for the past three weeks.  More to come on that soon.  Hope you've enjoyed the tour!


Monday, July 23, 2012

Monday Made It

This Monday Made It is one of the only things that keeps me focused on getting tasks accomplished this summer!  Thank you for that 4th Grade Frolics!  Anywho... This week I'll be "showcasing" (makes it sound good, doesn't it?) my welcome bags.  They are based off of Serenade in Second Grade's welcome bags that I posted about two weeks ago.

Here is how mine turned out.

 The little bag came from the dollar aisle at Target (man do I love that place!)  They were actually on clearance so I got 2 for .50.  The flags were also on clearance 3 for .50.  It was a good day!  I included the flag and designed the welcome note to go with my election themed classroom.  You can get a copy of the note by clicking below.

Second, I went ahead and created a TeacherPayTeachers store yesterday.  I'm not sure that I will be creative enough to make thousands of dollars, but it is a good motivator to create fun things and share them.  You can find it by clicking below.

4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th - Education, Gifted and Talented, For All Subjects -

Anyway, school is looming over me, and we have a house full of teacher things that need to be prepped for the move to school.  So, until next time!


Sunday, July 22, 2012

MIA, I know... Exciting News!

Sorry that I've been away, I know that I have so many faithful followers who cry every time they login and I don't have a new blog... NOT.  Sorry, I had a 90s child moment just then.  Anyway, things have been moving swiftly the last two weeks.  We are a mere 21 days from going back to school and I have so much on my plate.  

First, I found out that I will be receiving a lab of iPod touches to help provide an equitable technology environment for my students as I flip my class this year. It will look a little something like this:

I've been working hard to decide which lessons will be the most beneficial to flip.  I recently completed the Flipped Classroom Pathway on the website  I created this tutorial to practice my skills.  (If you take the time to watch it, be prepared- there is a speaking error AND I know it).

I'm really excited about this flipping thing.  I read Flip Your Classroom: Reach Every Student in Every Class Every Day.  It was an honest look at using technology to reach your students.  I really enjoyed it, and suggest it to anyone who is curious about the concept.  I hope that I do a good job implementing it and that I can encourage others in my district and out there (yes, I mean you!) to use the model.

Second, I found out that I will be a facilitator for our technology in the classroom program.  It is called eTEC (that stands for Eagles Thinking, Educating, and Communicating).  I will have a cohort of 5 teachers that I will be training to use technology in their classrooms.  It's a 50 hour a year training commitment for them, and about double that for me, but I am thrilled to have this opportunity. My biggest fear about having technology in my classroom is that I will fall behind in the ever-changing world, but now that I have this opportunity, it's even more of a reason to stay relevant and current.  I like that the program is developed by our district.  The program I went through was prescribed, and we didn't have much flexibility in what kinds of training we wanted, so it wasn't always timely.  I can be as timely as the teachers need in this program.  So excited!

Anyway, I will try and post my Made It Monday that I promised last time I posted (welcome bags).  Just wanted to share my exciting news!  Until next time...


Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Award Nomination!

I'm currently in Texas babysitting my nephews (Wy is almost 4 and Z is 1 and a half).  They are a handful,  but it has been fun.  I was going to try and post another Made It Monday, but it just didn't happen.  However, I will share that at the Pinterest party on Saturday I prepared welcome bags like these:

I'll be sure to share the result when I get back to Missouri.

Anyway, I checked my email this evening, and was surprised to see a comment from Read and Black and Learning All Over saying that she had nominated me for

First of all, I must say I'm super excited to know that people have actually read my blog.  Secondly, I feel like this means that I might actually have people who are interested in seeing future posts as well- SCORE!  So, without further adieu here are the seven rules for this award:

1. Thank the blogger who nominated you!
2. Include a link to their site.  -- See above
3. Include the award image in your post. -- Ditto
4. Give 7 random facts about yourself.
5. Nominate 15 other bloggers for this award.
6. When nominating, include a link to their site.
7. Let other bloggers know they've been nominated.
1.  Thank you VERY much for nominating me Heather, and spreading the word about my blog.  I hope that it is indeed worthy. :-)
3. See above :-)
--I have a degree in middle school education and never intended to teach elementary school- EVER!  Luckily I have enjoyed nearly every second of all of the teaching experiences I've had over the past 6 years.
--I can't ask or be asked a question, even mostly rhetorical, without having an impossible to resist impulse to try and find the answer on my iPhone.
--Speaking of iPhone, I am severely addicted to Apple products.  Even though I have an iPhone, MacBook, iPad, and iMac, I am still looking forward to the rumored iPad Mini supposedly coming out in the fall.
--I have a brother that is going to be in the same grade that I teach this year.  While I work in a different district than the one he attends, it's still weird to think that the little baby that was born when I was 19 is the same age as all these wild children I have in my classroom.
--The BF and I really don't have a desire to have children of our own (sorry mom).  Maybe this will change, but babysitting the nephews this week really reminds me how nice it is when you can "return" kids after having them for awhile.
--Another addiction confession: TETRIS. I play WAY too much for my own good.  I love
--I went to The Container Store for the first time yesterday-- OMG heaven.
5. Wow this is a lot of blogs to nominate!  Here are just a few of the blogs that I read, and thought I should share (though I'm sure many of them are well known and have received this award before--numerous times).  I also tried to link to ones that aren't mostly people trying to sell stuff from their TpT store (though I do love the heads up on great products!)

A Teeny Tiny Teacher  

   Clutter-Free ClassroomAshleigh's Education Journey

The Resourceful Teacher BlogThe OC Blog Button

Classroom DIY
Hopkins' Hoppin' Happenings 3rd Grade Thoughts

Thanks again to those who have read my blog.  I hope to have some really great stuff to share in the near future.  I've been reading a book classroom flipping, and I've been buying stuff to support my first semester theme (election/patriotic).  Until next time..