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It's a Sale!!

EVERYTHING IS ONE DOLLAR OFF AT MY TPT STORE!!
TWO-DAY SALE

Also don't forget to enter my giveaway for one FREE item from my store (your choice)!!



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New Year's Linky Party and My First Giveaway!!

I am linking up with The Teacher's Cauldron  for her New Year's Linky Party!!

 

Well it is that dreaded awesome time of year again...time for new beginnings and resolutions to do better this year.  I have to begin by saying that last year was a GREAT YEAR!  I actually did follow-through on a few of my goals...kinda sorta. The best part of 2012 has been (finally after two years) feeling comfortable in my new role as third grade teacher (I taught first grade for 17+) years and moving up was a big, huge step!  I am really loving it now.  The other best part of 2012 has been starting my blog and discovering Teachers Pay Teachers.  I only started in November and I am hooked. It is so awesome linking up with teachers around the country and across the globe.  I also think it is amazing that other teachers are willing to pay me for the resources I create and use in my very own classroom.  The best thing about TPT, however, is being able to instantly find the very thing I need for a lesson, at a moment's notice (So far, I spend WAY more than I make on TpT)!! 

Any hoo....so for my resolutions (Can you tell I was stalling?)...

My personal resolution would be...uh...hmmmmm...this is so hard....there are so many directions I could go here.  I want to work on being a well-rounded, balanced person.  I tend to get overly-focused on one thing and become obsessed with that ONE thing for a while, usually at the expense of everything else.  This summer I was on a fitness kick....right now its my new blog and my TpT products (I really need to leave this chair and reintroduce myself to my family).  So, I am saying it outloud for the world to hear....I need to create balance and prioritize the really important things in my life.  Wish me luck.

I am still very new to blogging but I'd really like to do a better job of articulating who I am as a teacher.  That is the beauty of blogging...it is a journey of self-discovery, I think.  Holly over at Criss Cross Applesauce in First Grade said that she wants to blog more about the day-to-day stuff in her classroom.  I love that idea.  I think that is where we can learn the most of ourselves and each other...by the things we do every day within those four walls of our classroom.  I hope to post at least twice a week in 2013 and I would love to do a weekly repeating thing (like the Friday Freebie...I think from the 3AM Teacher). 

So that's about it for my resolutions...whatchya think??

On to the GIVEAWAY!!  This is a first for me and I really don't know what I'm doing, but I'm going to give this rafflechopper thingie a try.  I hope you enter...the prize is any one thing from my TpT store...your choice!



a Rafflecopter giveaway


Finally....I just put up a great new product.  If you read the book Because of Winn Dixie by Kate DiCamillo with your students...you will love this resource kit that I put together.  Check it out:


Toodles for now and Happy 2013!!

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4 IMPORTANT QUESTIONS AND A FREEBIE

I have had the privilege to work with an excellent literacy coach this year.  I asked her to help me to refine my conferring skills during writer's workshop, which I have struggled with for several years.  I yearn to give students the appropriate feedback to move them forward in their writing, but I sometimes get stuck on exactly what to say to them....or to ask them. 

After a few sessions work with this amazing teacher and coach, I noticed that she had a special way of listening to kids talk about their writing.  She kept saying a few magic words that really got the kids thinking and talking about their writing:

I'm wondering.....
I'm noticing......

And a few questions kept popping up....

What were you thinking?
What were you feeling?
What is the heart of your story?
(Why was this idea SO important that you chose to WRITE about it?)

I really started thinking about what makes a piece of writing really compelling to read...and realized that the best writing answers the above questions really well.  It seems too easy, doesn't it?  But, I am finding that as I mimic these questions the way she did, in an "I'm wondering...." sort of way, the conferences that I am having with my students are much more productive and they build their confidence as writers.  The magic happens when students do the thinking on their own and answer these questions themselves, rather than me saying things like, "You need to add more details."

I am so excited about the work I am doing with my young writers this year!

Please enjoy this FREEBIE....a set of posters to help get your students thinking about their narrative writing! (You can download them HERE)





 
 
White you're there check out my two newest items:
 





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PRAYERS


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FIST FOUR FOR COMMON CORE!!

FIST FIVE...OR FOUR


I have started using a "check for understanding" strategy this year called, "Fist Five."  When I first heard it, I thought, "My, that sounds kind of violent!"  Then I tried it in my classroom and ding, ding, ding, ding!!!  The lightbulbs went right on!!  

You mean, I'm supposed to ASK my students if they understand?!  Duh!  I usually look for a confused look....like a furrowed brow, or a puzzled expression.  I always hope to see an "Aha!" expression on most faces, finger up in the air!!  "WE GOT IT, MRS. O!!"  But we all know, that we walk around and around our classrooms looking for clues of misunderstanding, which is sometimes apparent and sometimes not.

Now I ask my students to give me a "Fist Four" to show if they understand.  Four fingers to your chest means "I got it and can teach others!"  Three fingers means "I got it!"  Two means "I think I got it, but still need some help."  One means...."Don't got it...please help!"  So simple...so brilliant!!  I use this strategy every day, several times a day.  My kiddos love it and so do I I made a poster for my classroom and some bookmarks for the kids...you can get those at my tpt store.







COMMON CORE

 That common core....its so great....but so scary too!  It is really nice to have a common path for all teachers to follow, but "Wow" have you seen the stuff they want our kids to know?!  Wowwwwweeeee!  Things have sure changed since I was a kid.  I mean, when I was 8 years old, my parents and teachers were happy if was reading regularly.  Nobody expected me to make cross-text connections and support my predictions with evidence from the text.  I know our kids can rise to this challenge and they will be better readers, writers and learners as a result of the common core.  I am doing my best to keep up with it all and not let my students down.

In the spirit of getting to know these standards "like the back of my hand" as suggested by the common core gurus in my district...I created some child-friendly Common Core ELA posters for my classroom (truth is...they're teacher-friendly too).  I've only completed the Language Arts version...but I'm working on math next.  If you teach third grade and would like these (very cute) posters...visit my tpt store.


 

Love and Peace,
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50 Followers, A Freebie, and 2 Great Kidsites

I am so excited to have 54 followers!!  I am loving the blogging world and have already made a few blog friends (frogs?)

My school district is very diverse, so it's not really appropriate to do Christmas activities.  However, we all enjoy some snowman luv!  I have whipped up a Freebie for you in celebration of winter and my 50+ followers!  I hope you enjoy it:

CLICK HERE TO GET IT!!
 
Do your students love getting on the computer to visit a new website?  Do they also love some sweet competition among their pals?  Here are two websites that your students will LOVE LOVE LOVE!!  Mine can't seem to get enough of the friendly competition offered by these two sites.
 
 
Free games to make math fun
 
 
This is the ultimate FREE math website for kids.  It is really too good to be true!!  It offers math practice on the COMMON CORE standards for grade levels K-8.  The games are super fun and even addictive!!  You can set up lessons for your whole class or individual students.  The best part is that you can set up class competitions that last for any timeframe that you'd like to set up.  For example, I like to set up weekend competitions.  Since the kids can access the site from home, this works great!  On Monday, we come in and I put the leaderboard up on the projector to see who won!!  You can set up teams to compete or the kids can compete as individuals.  Students are rewarded with cyber treats like clothing and accessories for their personalized avatar.  To find out more, just go to their site and fool around.  Its even fun for grown-up teacher-types:)
 
 
CLICK HERE TO FIND OUT MORE

This site is the ultimate reading motivator for your students, and it is also completely FREE!  Your kids read and then go on this site to take a comprehension quiz.  They have thousands of quizzes for almost every book you can imagine.  As your students pass those quizzes, they earn points that can be traded for actual prizes, many of which are downloadable goodies.  You can also set it up with your own prizes.  The site can also generate book lists to accommodate your students' interests and reading levels.  Their newest feature is that you can now set up class competitions, just like Sumdog.  If you want to see your kiddos read alot (say...over the winter break?)...you've got to check out this site.

I don't know what it's like where you are....but here in Michigan it is getting c- c- c- c- cold!!  My students are also getting tired of their bland daily bellwork.  I created these Winter Math Warm-Ups to perk them up a bit.  You can find them at my TpT store.

 
 
Have a great Friday!!

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CURRENTLY...FINALLY!

I can honestly say that one of my top ten reasons for starting a blog was so that I could participate in Farley's "Currently."  I have been counting the days until December....so here goes!!


Okay...so I just came back from a HUGE lunch at Buffalo Wildwings.  One of my favorite things in da world is spending a Saturday afternoon with a half-dozen Salt 'n Vinegar wings, an order of potato wedges (with sour cream) and a foamy adult beverage.  Oh yeah...and my hubby and kids!!  I can even tolerate some drama (eye-rolling; sighing) from the teens when a greasy wing is in-hand!  I may have overdone it today...tummy is talking back.

I have an amazing group of children this year.  They are smart, sweet, kind to each other, and just a lot of fun to be around!  They make me laugh every single day!

I can be quite the procrastinator when it comes to holiday decorations.  When I was a kid, I was the number one "Elf".  I loved the holidays and couldn't wait to decorate every wall and surface in the house with holiday cheer.  Nowadays....I just dread it.  All I can think about is....in a few weeks I'm gonna have to take all this stuff down and put it away.  Quite the Grinch...I know!

This is a crazy time of year.  Our report cards go out in a week.  Assessments need to be done.  Classroom observations....ugh.  Not to mention all the stuff associated with Christmas...shopping, shopping, shopping!!  I just need 1 more hour in the day to get it all done!!

I haven't even started my report cards...I can't talk about it...too depressing.

Finally...my RAK:  Holly from Criss Cross Applesauce in First Grade is a teacher at my school.  We started working together a couple years ago, and I don't really know her that well.   I do know that she is an awesome teacher (I mean, I get her kiddos after she has them...so I know!).  She is also a blogger extraordinaire.  She doesn't like to "advertise" her greatness...so I thought that I would, while thanking her at the same time!!  Her bloggy greatness was another one of the reasons I began my blog...she inspired me with her super fun, super cute, super wonderful and helpful little blog.  Okay...I was a little jealous (still am), but sometimes that's what I need to get going on something I've always wanted to do.  Holly also supported me by featuring me on her blog my very first week up...which sent many, many followers my way.  She definitely didn't have to do that, but I'm so glad she did.  Holly really represents the spirit of professional teaching blogs...she shares openly and honestly and welcomes and encourages newbies like me with open arms.  So, for my RAK...I am thanking you Ms. Wazy-loo!!  Also, don't be surprised if a little something wonderful appears in your mailbox on Monday (okay....maybe Tuesday...I told you that I am a procrastinator)!!  If you haven't visited Holly's blog....you really should...its well worth the visit...I promise!!

CLICK ME, CLICK ME!!
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ROLL OUT THE CARPET FOR REALISTIC FICTION

My thirdies finally, finally finished personal narrative writing....and I have to say I am really proud of those buggers.  They produced some great stuff!!  We are celebrating on Monday by sharing our stories while we sip cider and nibble cookies. 

The kids cannot wait to begin our next unit....Fiction!!  I know they are picturing aliens, spaceships, dragons and other creations from their imaginations....but we will be going with the flow and writing REALISTIC FICTION.  My lessons will be based upon the Lucy Calkin's units, and we will be reading Amelia's Road by Linda Jacobs Altman as a mentor text (along with a few other morsels of reading goodness....such as Polacco's Junkyard Wonders).

We use a writing folder to collect our drafts and revisions as we progress through the unit (rather than a writer's notebook).  I just find this easier, especially when I have to lug them home over the weekend.  I also find that my kiddos need a little more than just paper...sometimes they need the extra support of a visual worksheet or a graphic organzier to work on a writing strategy.  I have put together a collection of writing worksheets and graphic organizers to go along with this unit and I am so excited to start using them during this unit!!

 


 



 



If you are interested in seeing more....check out my TpT store!! 



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THE Best Read-Alouds

I LOVE reading to kids.  It is the highlight of my day, every day!!  The bonus of reading aloud to my class is that they really benefit from it.  It is the number one way to get kids excited about reading.  Many kids don't "get" how awesome reading is....until you read them that one, really great book that "hooks" them!! 

When I was in third grade, I had an amazing teacher, Mrs. Stubie.  I LOVED, LOVED, LOVED Mrs. Stubie.  She was one of the great ones.  The best thing about Mrs. Stubie was that she read to us...every day.  It was the first teacher that I ever had that read to her students.  She read us the best, best books too....The Mouse and the Motorcycle, James and the Giant Peach, Ramona, and the list goes on.  It was because of Mrs. Stubie that I fell in love with reading.  I was hooked forever.

In addition to getting kids to love reading, reading to them shows my fledgling readers "HOW" to do it right.  It's the best modeling you can do for your kids.  Thinking outloud as you read outloud demonstrates to them exactly what readers do.

Finally, when you read a great book to your whole class, it generates the most amazing conversations and creates the most wonderful sense of excitement among your community of learners.  We get to know the characters together, laugh with them, cry with them and we get to know each other better too, through our conversations and we grow closer as a group. 

Here are a few of my favorite read alouds:


I love Kate DiCamillo....she knows how to draw the reader in and weave a great story.
Roald Dahl....he knows kids and what they like!!



I love Beverly Cleary...fond memories from my younger reading life.  Socks is such a heartwarming story.


If you haven't yet discovered Goony Bird Greene....you're in for a treat!

This is a very funny and heartwarming story.
This week we started the book Shiloh in my classroom.  I know it will spark some interesting dialogue among my students.  I found an amazing resource on TpT by Rachael Parletton (fellow blogger from The Classroom Game Nook) and I am looking forward to using it with my kiddos.  Click the link if you are interested:
Shiloh Novel Unit (Aligned with Common Core Standards)
What are your favorite, most beloved stories that you read to your students?  Please, please leave a comment to share....I am always on the lookout for "book candy."
Love and Peace,


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Liebster Award

I am beyond thrilled to have received a Liebster Award from Kim Z. at Literacy Sundae.  Thank you so much!!





The Liebster Blog Award is given to up and coming bloggers by established bloggers (less than 200 followers), in order to recognize them, let them know that they are appreciated, and to spread the word about new blogs. The rules are:
  • You must post 11 random things about yourself.
  • Answer the questions that the nominators set for you.
  • Create 11 questions for the people you nominate.
  • Choose 11 blogs you love (with less than 200 followers) and link them in your post.
  • No tag back, (but please leave me a comment on this post with the URL to your Liebster post so that I can learn more about you!) 
So here goes:

Eleven Random Things About ME

1.   I taught first grade for 17 years before moving up to third, where I've been for 3.
2.   I was a secretary before becoming a teacher 20 years ago.  I can type over 100 WPM!!
3.   I have two dogs, Penny (a beagle) & Gizmo (a lhasa)
4.   I love everything 80s...music, movies, clothes, etc.
5.   My favorite snack foods are chips with dip and popcorn with M&Ms.
6.   I love to walk...nothing feels better than my Ipod blaring and a very long walk on a nice day.
7.   I was Teacher of the Year in my county, several years ago.
8.   One of my students and I were on an episode of The View a few years ago...a back-to-school  fashion episode!
9.   I have a fifteen year old daughter and a twelve year old son...I am a truly proud mama!
10. I love to play Norah Jones during our Writer's Workshop.
11. I married my best friend in Maui, almost 18 years ago!


Here are the 11 questions Kim asked me:

1. Do you have a hobby? If so, what is it?
My newest hobby is BLOGGING!!  It is addicting!!  I also love walking and cooking.

2. What is one item that you could not live without?
I could not live without my cast iron dutch oven...I cook a lot of one pot dinners.

3. What is your favorite teaching resource or tool?
I love my classroom audio system.  It makes it so much easier to communicate with a loud and raucous bunch of third graders!! 


4. When did you start blogging?
I have followed blogs for about a year now...but I only just started my own...two weeks ago!

5. What is your favorite TV show? 
Dexter and Grey's Anatomy are my favorites.  I am also a sucker for X-Factor and Idol.

6. What is your favorite Holiday to celebrate in the classroom?
I just love the traditions of Valentine's Day...all of those cute little cards make me so happy!

7. How long have you been teaching? What grades have you taught?
I have taught Pre-K, Kindergarten, First Grade and Third Grade.

8. What is your best teaching memory?
That is a tough one..there are so many!!  Last year one of my students made me the cutest most heartfelt "sympathy" card when Swimmy, our goldfish died.

9. What is your favorite holiday dish?
My grandma used to always make a pistachio-flavored green cake.  Since she's passed, I continue to make it.  It is delicious and reminds me of grams.

10. What is your favorite thing about being a teacher?
Even though it can be exhausting, I just love being around children all day.  They make me laugh!

11. What is your favorite sport or team?
DETROIT TIGERS!!  I love baseball!


11 Questions for the 11 Blogs that I Nominated.

1.  What is a recipe that you are famous for making.
2.  Why did you start a blog?
3.  What is your favorite subject to teach?
4.  What is a favorite website that you use with your students?
5.  What is the hardest thing about teaching?
6.  If you could go anywhere, where would you go?
7.  Describe in a sentence or two, your ideal classroom.
8.  What is a favorite teaching theme or bulletin board idea that you've used?
9.  Who is your favorite music artist?
10. What is your morning poison? (i.e., coffee, tea, sugar, etc.).
11.  If money were no object, what one thing would you buy for yourself?  For your classroom?

Here are the blogs that I nominated:


Thanks again, Kim!!




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COOL CATS, BUSY BEAVERS AND MORE!

Homework isn't usually very fun, but it IS a necessary evil.  But, how do we get our cherubs excited about doing homework?   In my classroom I use HOMEWORK PUNCH CARDS!!  You know...like when you go to your favorite coffee shop and they give you a "punch" for each cup of coffee you buy and then when you fill it up...FREE COFFEE!!  My kiddos get so excited to get their homework cards punched every week.  They get a hole punch for their math packet and another one for completing their reading log.  In a matter of weeks, they fill the thing up and receive a prize from the treasure box!!  They store their cards in a pouch inside their BEE Books (Bring Everything Everyday Binder) so they are ready to use them when needed.  It is super easy for me to whip out my hole puncher and punch away each of the cards.

The best part is that it really motivates my students to bring their homework on time every week.  If you are interested in trying this out, KEEP READING!!

I am so excited to promote my first real TpT product!!

My brand new Homework Incentives Pack includes everything you need to motivate your students to do their homework every week:  Punch Cards, Record Keeping Form, Reward Certificates, and a Hall of Fame poster to post the names of students who fill up each card.  Included in the pack are four designs:  Cool Cat, Busy Beaver, Homework Hound, and Go Bananas.  Here is a peek at my Cool Cat Design:






Here is a preview of the whole pack.  CLICK IT if you want to get started on this program RIGHT NOW!!







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