Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Back to School Goals 2013

Hi again. It's me. After my first full day of work school. It went pretty well with only a few down moments during those long coma inducing meetings. by the way. I had a few moments to check my Blogloving and saw that Jess over at I {heart} Recess had a really fun Linky going on.

Had to jump in and get the positive juices flowing again.

Personal: I have been saving up since January to make that huge airplane trip to Australia! I'm so excited, but a little anxious as well. I've never been there or spent that long in an airplane. I can't sleep on board, so that should get a little interesting.
Organization: One of my colleagues, Laurie, went above and beyond to find me this really cool rolling cart with ten drawers. It was only $25 at Sam's Club and they didn't have them at her regular one, so she went out of her way to try another one and was successful! Now I have the perfect organizer for my Reading and Math groups. 
Planning: I became obsessed with TpT this summer. I can spend all day making stuff to put up for others to enjoy. Now that school is back, that is totally going to cut into my TpT time. What am I to do?

Professional: I have so many resources that I buy after taking a staff development or someone mentions how great it is. Then I am so bad at looking through them. I stick them into a file cabinet and forget them. I want to drag a few out and see what's between the covers. 

Students: Speaking of, I attended a great session during out county's Summer Literacy Institute that discussed having Academic Conversations on a much deeper level. I am committing myself to making this work in my room this year. 

Motto:  I found this quote and made a poster of it last year. The rest of it says, "Wrong is wrong even if everyone is doing it." I tell my students this all the time when they are all chatting away during a fire drill.

Thanks, Jess. This was fun!

Writing Wednesday - Writing Conferences

Going through all of my teaching guides (something I should do more often) I came across Carl Anderson's How's It Going? This is definitely one of those books that cemented my teaching style. I love helping students with their writing. Listening to their voice come through and building on their skill set to push them even further is so amazing. Children have unique stories to share and Anderson's book is perfect to help you understand the ideas behind the writing process.

Poking through this book I thought it would be a great idea to develop a product for my TpT store for writing conferences. A writing conference is a once a week meeting with each student about their writing that lasts  maybe 5-7 minutes. The teacher's role in this is two fold. They need to listen to what is driving the student's intentions for that piece on that day. Then they need to pick one point to guide the students in developing their writing ability.

One of the things you need to do with this conferencing is to keep a record of what you talk with each child about. These notes come back into play the next time you meet. They act as a record to see how the child is progressing during the writing block. I have one of the record sheets that I use in my class to show you today.

You can grab this here

In the TpT product I want to include a bunch of different types of record sheets, tips and strategies for the teachers, some posters for your room, and student notebook cards that will remind them what to work on.

Can you think of anything else I might need, or you'd like to see included in this pack? Leave me a comment below and I will be sure to add it to the list. Thanks for your help!

Monday, July 29, 2013

Tried it Tuesday - Cake Pops

As part of my baking duties for my sister's wedding reception up in Maine I set aside some time to make cake pops with her 4 year old daughter. A. was such a big help dropping the balls into the frosting, eating the mistakes, and providing a running commentary the whole time. So I fulfilled my job of keeping her occupied for at least an hour. Yay me!

I made cake pops before using a kit that Jessica Ivey gave me for Christmas. It was a bit of trial using that method when the sticks didn't fit into the holder and I purchased larger sticks than I needed. Plus the shape coming out of the pan looked more like the planet Saturn than a round pop. I mean absolutely no disrespect to the Jivey and love love love my gift. But I wanted to try a different method.

I jumped on the internet and found this recipe from A Beautiful Mess and gave it a whirl. I used a strawberry cake mix and the leftover decorator icing that I added coloring to so I could pipe out some roses for the wedding cake I made. The only thing that I would change about the recipe I used was not to put in 2 CUPS of frosting. I barely used 1/2 cup to  make all the crumblies stick together.

Judging by how quickly these were gone after I put them out, I think they turned out okay. Well, A. certainly enjoyed them.

Back to School Giveaway Winners

Thanks for everyone who participated. It was so cool to see all the entries roll in on that little Rafflecopter readout!

Without further ado, here are the winners of the Back to School Giveaway:

Congratulations! Each of you will receive an email from me about what to do!

Mentor Mondays - School Binders

This will mark the turning point for my Mentor Monday posts. I am switching over entirely into school mode since I have to report for duty at 7:00 A.M. this Wednesday. To help you get ready as well, I am switching to more school related posts instead of blog set up.

For the first topic, I wanted to show you my school binders that my students will use to keep everything in this year. I tried this out for the first time last year and I really liked it. I went with a 1" binder for all the students and it went okay. The only part I didn't like was when I had to pull out the 'chapters' from the Social Studies and Science sections when we were done. Otherwise there wouldn't be any room to add more paper.

This year I am going with the 2" Front View Binder.

They'll put their Homework Agenda notebooks in the front followed by four tab dividers. One for Math, Language Arts, Science. and Social Studies. I provide them with the dividers and the little tabs to write the subjects on. This is a good introduction to how well the class can follow directions as they write the titles and insert the tabs.

I usually give them an Accelerated Reading Log to keep in the front of their Language Arts section. They record the books they read and how they did on their tests on the computer.

You can grab the 2 page PDF file here so that you can print them double sided from here

I am giving each of the students a cardstock 8.5x11 sheet to decorate as a cover for this binder. You'll remember it was part of my QR Code postings.

I also made a little Prezi slideshow attached to the QR Code to help parents with the layout, Binder Covers

The final thing that I put into these binders is a gallon sized ziploc baggie that has been reinforced with duct tape and hole punched.

The students will keep homework papers, unfinished work, and works in progress in these packets. They could also slip in a book to read so that important materials won't get lost in between school and home. Now everything is in a neat package that fits inside their desks. They will also pick up some responsibility skills by making sure that this binder goes home every night and returns every morning.

I'm looking forward to this little bit of organization this year.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Mentor Text - Social Studies

Those two FAB ladies over at Collaboration Cuties Stacia and Amanda are at it again with their latest installment of mentor texts.

This week's theme is Social Studies! They offered up a great text to include in the study of Native American tribes which fourth grade does every year. I definitely added that to my Amazon cart. Oh, definitely go over and grab the freebie. It's too awesome when you are starting up interactive notebooks. It will help students get ready for working with longer texts more independently.

For my installment, I want to share a book I was introduced to least year during our study of the American Revolution. It's called The Scarlet Stocking Spy by Trinka Noble. It's an incredibly moving tale of a young girl who helps craft a code with her soldier brother to pass information around about British ships in the harbor.

Here's Amazon's write up:
Philadelphia 1777 is no place for the faint of heart. The rumble of war with the British grows louder each day, and spies for and against the Patriots are everywhere. No one is above suspicion. Still, everyday life must go on and young Maddy Rose must help her mother, especially since her father's death at the Battle of Princeton and now with her beloved brother Jonathan off with Washington's army. But when childhood games become life-and-death actions, Maddy Rose is drawn ever deeper into events that will explode beyond her imagining. As young America stands on the very brink of its fight for freedom, it becomes clear that even the smallest of citizens can play the largest of parts, and that the role of a patriot has nothing to do with age and everything to do with heart. In The Scarlet Stockings Spy, Trinka Hakes Noble melds a suspenseful tale of devotion, sacrifice, and patriotism with the stark realities of our country's birth.Noted picture book author and illustrator Trinka Hakes Noble has pursued the study of children's book writing and illustrating in New York City at Parsons School of Design, the New School University, Caldecott medalist Uri Shulevitz's Greenwich Village Workshop, and New York University. She has authored and illustrated numerous books including the popular Jimmy's Boa series, which has been translated into six languages. Trinka lives in Berrnardsville, New Jersey. The Scarlet Stockings Spy is her first book with Sleeping Bear Press. Because Robert Papp's childhood drawings of his favorite superheros were such a pleasure, it was only natural that he would wind up an illustrator. Nowadays, his award-winning artwork appears on book covers and in magazines instead of on the refrigerator. He has produced hundreds of cover illustrations for major publishers across the United States. Robert lives in historic Bucks County, Pennsylvania.

I must give you full warning to be prepared for the ending. I wasn't expecting it and was shocked into stopping for a bit to catch my wits.  Just make sure that you read it through for yourself first.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Student Motivators - Traffic cones

Joanne over at Head over Heels puts on this great linky party about motivating your students. She's got a great idea about how to engage students in complementing each other!

This fits in so perfectly with my theme for this year. I want them to pay more attention to what others are doing. This skill is going to help build that Common Core ideal of deeper thinking. Conversations are going to be different in my room this year as well. Instead of everyone just shouting out their connections to a book or a topic, they are going to practice listening to others and responding to their thoughts as well as incorporating their own.

So for my student motivating idea to share, I have my student of the week be in charge of putting out these fun traffic cones with encouraging phrases on them. I get them at the Dollar Store.  As we are working on a lesson I might tap the student of the week to search for someone showing off exemplary skills and they would place the cone on that person's desk. The cones are turned in later for reward points. They like the attention and I get to reward those that are doing good more.


Friday, July 26, 2013

Friday Fun - Last Summer Weekend Sale and Giveaways!

OoooOoooOhhh, it's here. The last Friday of Summer vacation. I saw this coming a long time ago, but was hoping it would get lost.

It didn't.

School begins for teachers next Wednesday. Even though we won't get paid for it, most of the staff will probably be in their rooms sometime on Monday and Tuesday as well. I know I will. I've got to put my huge beginning of the year pile together to send to the printer. Can't wait!

Since it's the last weekend right before my 23 year of teaching, I thought what other time than now to have my first sale in my TpT Store. So, rush right over there and grab all the things off of your wish list because the 20% Sale (they wouldn't let me type in 23) will end on Sunday, July 28th at midnight!!

 Now for an even better idea. How about winning some of those things on your wish list for FREE?

I've put together a little Giveaway to make up for the last 3% I couldn't tag onto my sale. This means there will be three prizes given away next Friday. Go ahead and enter as many times as you can below. Can't wait to see who the lucky winners are going to be for:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The Winners are:

Thursday, July 25, 2013

First Teacher Casualty!

I've been slowly working through my room to get everything ready for ...wait for week! My other friends (a.k.a. colleagues) have been making appearances as well. It's great to see them again that I'm almost excited about going back to school.

I was in there today getting my binders ready and putting a bunch of stuff up on the walls. I think I got a little too excited as I was using the hot glue.

So, as you gear up for 'Back to School' mode, I am warning you to remember to be careful as you wield your hot gun. Those suckers are hot.

Thursday Tutorial - Prezi

***HUGE DISCLAIMER: Prezi requires that your cell phone or tablet has Flash Player capabilities. Which apparently Android does NOT!! These presentations only work on iPhones and their tablets. Ug!

I often do things backwards. Like today's blog post, I am going back to the beginning of the Prezi tips and tutorials to find out how to set up an online presentation. This is after I struggled through creating my own for last week's QR code tutorial.

Prezi works off the same principals as Powerpoint. If you aren't familiar with that program, it is basically a slideshow that you can create that will run automatically through each slide or the viewer can click through using their keypad. You create each slide individually and add movements and even sounds and voice recordings if you like. Prezi is just a way to share it online.

What's really cool is that Prezi allows you to work simultaneously with others on the same slideshow. Think of the applications this could have for college students!

Once you sign in, there are actually tons of helpful videos that you can watch that help you get started on your presentation. There are a ton of 'metaphor' templates for you to choose from. Think about the information you are providing and then look over the templates to find one that matches it. Maybe your new blog creation was similar to climbing a mountain (I almost used the word 'like' in there. Big no no for metaphors). Choose your template and click on the slides over to the left to change the formatted information on each of the slides to match your own messages.

You can click anywhere on the original slide to add text and even place a youTube video using the controls at the top of the screen where it says 'insert.' Or you could bring over presentations you spent weeks creating in Powerpoint right into Prezi. Pretty cool.

You can add text boxes and remove others. You can change up the order of slides and make it your own. Moving the frames around on the template is as easy as clicking and holding then pulling it to where you want it to be. Adding images and new frames is done through the controls at the top under 'Frames and Arrows' and 'Insert' where you can maneuver through your files to find images you might have saved there.

Once you are ready to share with others, click on the 'Present Online' option and copy that link to give to others. I made the mistake of copying the URL from the 'Share' feature and it wouldn't let people in to see the slideshow. So both of my QR codes had to be redone. Bummer.

But it seems I wasn't too far off the mark for creating my own Prezi online presentation. I guess it was more self-explanatory than I thought. My biggest problem was that I couldn't figure out how to get down to each individual slide to add information. I kept clicking on the original slide, but it wouldn't come up. Then I realized I had to click on the separate slides over to the left to change the information.

I still have a few questions though.
*How can I copy and paste an entire frame?
*How do I make sure that the text, such as subtitle, are exactly the same size. They only had the bigger and smaller keys and you can pull out the frames to enlarge the text size, but who knows if you pull out every text size to the same?

If you are interested in joining Prezi, use this Referral Link and tell them ScrappyGuy sent ya!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Wednesday Writings - Travel Travails

I am finally home after the weirdest air travel vacation I've ever taken. I'm still trying to get over it all after losing almost two days to it, so I'm turning today's post into a bit of a vent. Bear with me.

It started right from the beginning of the trip. Last Wednesday, I was supposed to board a plane headed to Laguardia and catch a connection to Bangor, Maine then drive another four hours to the most northern city in the contiguous US. Sounds simple right? Mmm-hmm. No.

Driving into the airport you could see a huge black cloud with swirly edges just sitting right over the airport. Lovely. We bit our fingernails until they announced our boarding, hoping we'd get out tonight since we had reservations and such in all the other cities. They let us on the plane after delaying it almost an hour and a half. Then we proceed to sit at the gate for another two hours just waiting for the little storm to pass. It doesn't. Just when I should just take a nap, they come back on the intercom to apologize. Since we've been sitting so long, the pilots had timed out for the day and we would need to deplane for them to decide what to do next.


We've already missed our Bangor connection (which we discover was cancelled anyway), so we decide to just drive back home and try again in the morning. We rebook everything and eat the $100+ price of the hotel in Bangor for the bright and shiny time of 6 A.M. The alarm should never have to go off at 3:45 in the morning for anything. It was insane.

Without storms to impede us we made it to Bangor without a hitch, got our car and drove to the prettiest spot in Northern Maine to spend a wonderful five days celebrating my sister's reception. It truly was great getting to hang out with my two sisters and various family members for that time. We are all so spread out, it's hard to get us all in one place. My two brothers couldn't make it this time, bit sad about that.

Now that we shared some memories and were ready to head back to reality we drive back to Bangor to sneak a peak at Stephen King's house and drop off the rental car.

Now we're sitting in the tiniest airport I've ever been in,  including Key West, watching them push our departure time further back and back. Apparently there's weather in Laguardia and Atlanta...again. We were at the desk asking about changing flights, but the gal recommended we wait it out as our best option. Just when we think they are getting ready to announce our flight, we see on the CNN channel next to the gate that a plane has just crashed landed without nose gear at Laguardia. Really? Thankfully, no one was hurt.

But our flight was cancelled.

It was 9 P.M. by this time. We thought of just getting in a car and driving to a bigger airport such as Portland or Boston that would have a direct flight to Atlanta. But none of the rental places had any cars. We ended up staying at the hotel we originally supposed to stay at last week. The  next day wasn't being nice either. They were already delaying the 6 A.M. flights from Bangor another four hours. Our flight wasn't until 4. Had breakfast at a HoJo's and then called an offsite rental company to see if they had any cars we could drive one way. Enterprise came through and quoted us a price of $85. We showed up and they realized their mistake of not including the quote for a one way drop off. We got the car for the cheaper day rate. Woot! Score one for positive.

Then we proceed to drive through the biggest storm through the rest of Maine and into New Hampshire. Rain coming down in sheets and battering our little tin can. As we pull into Boston blue skies are back and the sun makes an appearance. We think the worst is over. Sigh. It isn't. That storm followed us down. And now it's sitting right over the airport.

As we watch the storm come through and slowly, ever so slowly, work its way overhead something happens to our plane coming in. The control tower makes them circle above the airport until the thunderstorms have passed. Well, they circle so long they run out of fuel. Lovely! The gate attendant comes on the intercom to announce this saying the plane has been rerouted to Manchester to refuel and then it would be back to pick us up for Atlanta.

Okay, that sounds like it will take a while, so we head to Legal Seafood's Test Kitchen for a much needed lobster roll. Watching the flight announcements on our phone, we notice that the departure time isn't changing. It's still set for 6:15 which is five minutes away. I leave the table to check with one of the attendants and she confirms that the plane is now at the gate and must have been let in instead of going to Manchester. OH BLEEPITY!

The waiter kindly throws all of our stuff in a bag and we race back to the gate on the other side of the terminal where they are boarding our flight. Geesh! We almost missed this thing.

Finally we are in the air and being pampered. Did I mention they upgraded us to first class because of all our troubles? It was nice, with linens and warm hand towels. Too bad we can't do this on our trip to Australia. Home never looked so good after this trip.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Maine is trying to keep me

I jetted I'd for my sister's reception in Maine.  Now trying to get home but stuck in Bangor due to weather.  This means the Monday post may not happen!  Keep your fingers crossed for me.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Friday Fun - 3-5 Product Swap

Lisa at 2GradeStories is doing a product swap for K-2. I was a bit sad that I couldn't join in. It sounds super fun. Then I thought to myself, "Well, why can't I host one for 3-5?" And the idea was born.

A Product Swap is when people sign up to share products with each other from their TpT stores. Whoever you are matched with swaps a product of your choice from their store and vice versa. Then you write a blog post detailing lessons you might have to use this in your classroom. Think Back to School ideas!

Sound fun?

If you would like to join up, just fill out this Google Docs form by next Friday and I will contact you with your Swap Partner.

Thanks for joining!

Congratulations! Library Tags

And the drumroll begins in the background....

Congratulations goes out to...LESLIE HATHCOAT!!

I will be creating your very own set of library tags done in a royal blue and white design. Be on the lookout for that prize sometime early next week!

Thanks for all those who entered.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Thursday Tutorial - QR codes 2

As promised, I am back with my completed parent letter to hand out during registration. Which, by the way, will occur in exactly 2 weeks, 3 days, and 22 hours (sigh). Using QR codes seems to be the easy part. The hardest thing about the process seemed to be where to store the information that I wanted parents to be pointed at when they read the QR code.

I did up some presentations using Prezi which was not self explanatory. I fumbled around a bit in there without watching any of their suggested tutorial videos or tips and tricks. Maybe I should have started there, eh? Anyway, be on the lookout for a Thursday Tut about this online tool. By the end I had two slideshows that parents could go through to discover a little bit more information about me and things that will occur in Fourth Grade this year. One was just information based, the other was how to create their own binder covers.

I bought 2" binders for my students to put all of their work in this year. I simply despise spiral bound notebooks and how messy they become so fast. I hate those metal spires that poke out every which way. And I simply detest trying to wrangle a stuck pencil out from the spine while trying to teach. Ugh! Last year I tried using a 1" binder, but found that we were constantly removing information such as Social Studies units from there to put somewhere else. There simply wasn't enough room. Hopefully the 2" binder will save us the trouble of doing that.

Here are the two QR codes I created using QR Stuff and you can try them out for me to see if there are any bugs before I present them to parents. (Thanks for the help!)

I am also including the editable parent letter I am handing out during our school's registration. Feel free to grab that and make it your own.

Parent Letter with QR codes

There you have it. QR codes made simple. I had an update from Ideas by Jivey that it doesn't look as if our school will be receiving any class sets of tablets with camera and internet access soon. But I'm hoping that enough parents have a smartphone with data plans that we can make use of this fun resource!

Let me know if you have any questions and I will try to figure them out. See you soon.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Writing Wednesday - FANBOYS


I managed to grab a copy of my work files to start filtering through as the last two weeks of summer winds down. Must be prepared before the kiddos arrive. One of the things in Writing I definitely want to start right away is introducing my class to COORDINATING CONJUNCTIONS. I admit, I had to go look this up last year so I understood what they were.

Coordinating Conjunctions are small words that coordinate two separate sentences into one whole. In this sentence below you can see the main clause, + Coordinating Conjunction, main clause.

"I hate to waste a single second of summer, for it is precious and fleeting."

FANBOYS is a mnemonic device to help your students remember the different words that act as coordinating conjunctions. Each of the letters stands for one of the seven words that act as coordinating conjunctions. Here, read it this way

F - for
A - and
N - nor
B - but
O - or
Y - yet
S - so

While sitting on the couch watching Monster House (see yesterday's post) I created this little poster to put up in my classroom.

Please excuse my drawing skills. You can grab it for free here: FANBOYS Poster

Complex and compound sentences are hard enough to understand, so simple things like this will make understanding a little easier for students.

Hope  you can use it!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Tried It Tuesday - Sharknado!

I have a confession to make. I am a GOOBER for bad horror movies. That's why the SyFy Channel is listed as one of my favorite fast buttons at home. My family has this tradition when we get together. Everyone picks a bad horror movie to share and who ever brings the WORST wins the title "King/Queen of the Flop", until the next time that is.

SyFy has such eclectic tastes in its programming that it is never lacking in suggestions for me to bring.

This past week was no exception. Have you heard about their latest installment to sit on the shelves next to Mega Piranha and Triassic Attack? It's called SHARKNADO. Uh-huh. It really is. The premise is that a freak storm in LA pulls literally millions of sharks closer to the city where a water spout lifts them up into the air to create all sorts of havoc.

Oh, it was glorious in its cheese factor. Hilarious moments included quotes such as "I think we gonna need a bigger chopper" and one shark landing right on top of the exact car containing our illustrious heroes. Which leads me to the next factoid. The main characters are a definite dredging of the D List. Ian Ziering (from the original 90210) and Tara Reid (who is a whole other sort of hot mess) as a typical arguing couple who are separated at the moment. 

I hope I don't give anything away, but you can imagine the impression Ms. Reid gets while watching her husband battle a rainstorm of sharks with a chainsaw. By the end the couple is working towards settling their differences. Divorce lawyers take note! Throw a bunch of sharks at your client to see what they are made of.

I am sitting here giggling over how bad this movie was. I'm staging a viewing of it at my house today at 2 P.M. to get ready to bring it to my sister's house in Maine when we travel up there tomorrow. Hopefully our plane will be skirting any waterspouts full of sharks.

Oh, and just wait until you see the ending. It was truly spectacular, right down to the last cut. Ian is my hero.

As if I haven't interested you enough already, here's the trailer for the show that is due to repeat this Thursday night. Set your DVR!

Be WARNED, this video has been deemed to violent for TV.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Mentor Monday - Rafflecopter

Not sure if you noticed but I added a new piece to my blog. Last Friday I posted a contest to win a free set of library tags for your classroom in a customized color choice. If you haven't entered yet, you still have until this Friday to sign up here: Library Tag Contest

I'm using Rafflecopter to set it all up. It's a free service that allows you to post contest entries to your blog posts. I think it's great because they offer you  many means to conducting your contest. When you sign in and start a new plan, you see this page:

You name your contest, provide details to your prize, and add some options as seen below

Love the 'Invent your Own Option' idea where you can ask your followers to link back to your TpT store, or have them link their blog back to your original post. I'm sure you can come up with some other things to add to this button as well.

If you are thinking of having a Giveaway on your blog I would definitely recommend you check out Rafflecopter!

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Math Literature Linky

Amanda and Stacia at Collaboration Cuties are doing their math literature linky party, so I thought I would bring this post back today. Go see them to link up your favorite math book idea.

One of the books our Math Coach uses in her series of Math Literature was the Greedy Triangle by Marilyn Burns.

It's a tale of a Triangle that whiles its day away being half of a sandwich, or sailing on a boat, or eavesdropping on people's conversations as the shape their elbows make against their body. The triangle becomes jaded with this lifestyle and wants something more. After asking for several transformations, the triangle realizes that her/his life isn't all that bad.

After you read this book to your students, you can pass out the following sheet for them to fill out on their own. (It's available here The Greedy Triangle Write Up)

 The students get to choose one of the shapes the Triangle goes through and apply it to shapes that they've seen around them. Encourage them to think of some really unique uses for their shape, like the shape made by people bending their elbows! This lesson will get them thinking about how the author gave several creative ways that geometric shapes can be found in the world around us. Their unique minds will think outside the box and show you some insight into their personalities. Just be prepared.

I would love a comment on the download at TpT on how you might be using this little idea for your classroom. 

Friday, July 12, 2013

Friday Fun - Freebie Library Tags

I am currently working on a huge Library Tag pack to put in my TpT Store. I was making my own classroom set and thought how perfect to offer as a product. Here's a picture of what I'm doing.

And how I am using them in my classroom:
I bought some circular rings and name badge holders for this project. Saw it on Pinterest and love the idea. Last year I just printed out the tags and stuck them to construction paper, hole punched them and use zip ties. Yeah, they fell off. A lot. I tried using box tape, but that didn't stay put either. Hopefully this idea will save me all that headache.

For my set I changed the color slightly to fit my class and also added a gradient that made it look grunged up. 

The 3" by 2.25" tag set will come with rounded edges,  and AR levels from 1.0 up to 6.4 for the elementary teacher. I'm putting together a list of favorite authors and some general topics to add to the pack as well. The starburst pattern background can be changed to fit your color needs, so send me all your requests.

For today's fun part, if you leave me a comment telling me which color set would work best in  your room I will let Rafflecopter pick a winner. The contest will end next Friday and the winner will get this set for FREE in their very own color selected background!

Make sure you tell me all the specifics on your color choices. If you tell me green and yellow I'll have a hard time picking the proper tints. But if you tell me grassy green and yellow sun, that would make it  much easier on me.

Another way to win  TWO more entries will be to throw a link from your own blog back to this one and then leave me a comment where I can find you. Your name will be entered twice.

For a third way (isn't this fun?) you can go to my TpT Store and click the little 'Follow' button and your name will be entered twice more. Wow!

I'm so excited to see who wins!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, July 11, 2013

A Liebster Award - For me?

What a great way to wake up! Only to discover that someone you just met has nominated you for an award! A Liebster award at that.

Nick over at Sweet Rhyme & Pure Reason found the time amidst all his flooded basement and attack of the killer bee problems to nominate me and some others who are blogging with less than 200 followers. Yeah, that would be me.

The fun part is I get to to nominate some other blogs as well and answer a few questions to let the world know more about me.
Here goes:
Mrs. K over at  Sixth Grade Scoop
Amanda D over at Teacher at the Wheel
Foreman over at Foreman Teaches

Nick asked me the following questions -

Why do you blog?
 I love connecting to other teachers who understand what I'm going through. They totally get it when I say that the Common Core is driving me crazy.
What's your favorite linky?
Collaboration Cuties has a great Mentor Text one
What's your favorite grade to teach?
I think third has a special place in my heart 
How many schools have you taught in?
I substituted for awhile, so probably a ton. But actually hired teacher? That would be a total of 3. 
Who would you most like to meet?
 J.K. Rowling. I'd just like to pick her writerly brain and convince her to share some money with me.
What's your favorite teaching memory?
When my third grade teacher gave me a big hug before I had to leave for a scary operation.
What is our favorite hobby?
Scrapbooking. I love documenting photographs and events in unique ways. 
What is your favorite restaurant?
The Jules Verne at the top of the Tour d'Eiffel in Paris. I'm going to be talking about that meal for years!
What is your favorite movie? 
It's going to have to be a series. Harry Potter is my all time favorite. I'm such a huge fan of the books and the movies.
What piece of advice do you give out the most?
Stick with it, the rest will come. 
What's your favorite teaching tip/trick?
I do a lot with Classroom Meetings and run them like a town meeting with a  mayor and everything. The kids love getting to make decisions. 
Here are 11 Random facts about me - 
*I almost bought a beach house on Amelia Island in March. 
*I recently lost 40 pounds using TapoutXT.
*I celebrated my 20th anniversary with my partner.
*I'm planning on heading to Sydney, Australia for New Year's Eve.
*I just spent a ton of money getting my hair colored. (sad since my hair's so short, it'll be out in a month)
*I love bad horror movies like Sharknado (a tornado made of sharks!)
*Jessica Ivey is my inspiration.
*My sister lives on the Canadian border, and I am going to visit her next week.
*I live in a neighborhood where most of my students come from. Makes it interesting at the pool.
*I'm organizing a Scrapbook convention for October in Atlanta.
*I can fit into a 30" waist. Surprising since three months ago I was pushing out a 36".

Now some questions for my nominees -
Where would you like to be in five years?
What's your favorite guilty pleasure?
How many years have you been blogging?
Which color goes best with brown?
Do you play any musical instruments?
What grade do you like to teach the most?
If you could win a million dollars what would you buy for your classroom first?
Which book do you think teaches your students the most?
Which person is your inspiration?

 Thanks again Nick for this amazing honor. I truly appreicate it!

Thursday Tutorial - QR Codes

Hello again,
I found something I've been meaning to figure out for myself and now have some time to focus on it. There has been rumors at our school about the coming of TABLETS. This idea opens up a whole different can of worms as to the logistics of using them in a classroom. That journey is going to take a while to implement.

One thing that I've noticed tons of teachers who are already using tablets mention in their lessons is the use of QR CODES, or quick response codes. A QR code is  "a specific matrix bar code ( or two-dimensional code ), readable by dedicated QR bar code readers and camera phones. The code consists of black modules arranged in a square pattern on a white background. The information encoded can be text, URL, or other data." Now, I've seen those weird looking squares all over the place and have no idea what they do. They're on the bus, at the movies, on the table tents in restaurants, and even on candy bars. I think it's time I figure out these little buggers.

Here's a picture of one:

This one has to do with Altrex range of aluminium access towers and access to a user manual. Umm, o-kay. 

So, how are they useful for students to use on an iPad?

I raced over to Google - again - and searched for how to use qr codes on worksheets. They had an amazing suggestions on the first site that popped up. Can you imagine sending kids home with a math worksheet that has a qr code the students can read on their parents smartphone that will lead them right to a video tutorial about the main points in the lesson. For real?

In order to create and use these on your worksheets, you are going to need a few things. You'll need a qr code, a qr reader program with an internet connection, and a site to send them to. Thankfully all of this is free. There's a site called QR Stuff where you go through three very easy steps (type of data, url info, and color choice) before you are presented with your very own downloadable qr code. 

You can download several different qr readers for either iPad or Android devices. I just downloaded one called QR Droid, such an inventive name! 

Here's the rub, you need to decide how to use your qr code. What information do you want to present and how do you want to deliver the information? Do you want your students to access a short youTube video that goes back over the pertinent info regarding simple subjects, or do you want a homework cheat sheet that students can read back over to remind them what you taught earlier. Once you've uploaded your instructional tool, copy the url and use it to create your very own qr code. 

Angie Sigmon over at iPads in School came up with an amazing interactive way for her Open House. She was able to get 30 iPads for her classroom and had one out on each student's desk. They went around on a scavenger hunt to find out information about their new teacher and things they will need for the year. This sounds so amazing. I wonder if I can use one Samsung Galaxy tablet in the same way. 

I'm going to have to play around with this a little longer and create a classroom hunt on my own. So stay tuned next week when I share my results!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Writing Wednesday - What Kind of Teacher

It is now exactly three weeks until school begins. Teachers will go back for preplanning on July 31st (yes, it says July) and students come into to 'Meet Your Teacher' Day on August 1. One of the things I am going to grab them with right away has to do with writing. As their parents are filling out paperwork or asking me questions about what to expect during the year, my new class will be adding to 2 wall charts entitled 'What makes a good teacher?' and 'What makes a good student?'

I got this idea from Pinterest and have it pinned to my board  here. The original idea was to ask 'What kind of teacher do you want?' I changed it up a bit to let them give a more rounded response than just a list of adjectives.

As school starts I pull this chart back out and see if we can organize the ideas into categories. From there I can go right into the idea of paragraphing. We can craft a main idea sentence and use their responses as the supporting details. By the end we have a writing piece that establishes expectations for me right away.

I love it!

Tuesday, July 09, 2013

Tried It Tuesday - Class Dojo

Welcome back for another edition of Tried It!

Holly over at Fourth Grade Flipper is also working off this same theme. Go check out her post as well.

 I'm starting to have 'Teacher Dreams' with only three weeks left before I say Sayonara to Summer. You know those dreams that put you into a classroom situation and then you have to figure out what to do? I'm talking those nailbiting situations like someone throws an eraser at you, or one of your little darlings talk back, or you forgot to pass out the report cards, or the principal shows up right as the science experiment blows up.

What? You've never had these? Hm, maybe I'm just weird.

Anyway, it's these 'walkthroughs' of what would you do that I start analyzing my classroom strategies and trying to figure out, well, what I would do. I'm constantly having to discuss the idea of talking and how it is NOT good during worktimes. I have gone through so much research on what to do with an overly chatty class, and they always offer the same stunted suggestions such as move clips, or give a child three cubes, or a behavior chart. I've tried everything! Nothing curbs those eager mouths that sometimes talk right over you no matter how close to their desk you stand.

One program I ran across that I thought would solve it all was a cute little site called Class Dojo. It works on the idea of a visual reminder for both positive and  negative behaviors. Each student is assigned a funny little monster icon. Look below:

 And you get to set the awards into categories of your own selecting, such as the list below. I'm sure you can guess what types of Negative choices there are.

The site allows you to make some custom settings for your room:

As the day progresses you have the class screen up for all to see. Then as someone  makes a great choice or needs to rethink their behaviors you can simply click over and reward or take away points. You'll need to discuss with your class beforehand what types of rewards will occur if they have so many minuses (maybe they lose 5 mins of recess for -2) and what happens when they have so many pluses (extra computer time, or call home with a good note) at the end of the day, or week as you move to wean them off this process.

Now, for my experience the first time it didn't work for me. Analyzing the hows and whys and whatfors during my 'Teacher Dreaming' I believe it was because I started this process way too late. It was something new but they never really bought into it. I want to start it right from the beginning of school and see how that affects their behaviors. Also, I don't like to keep my monitor on all day. I'm stingy and those lightbulbs in the machine are very expensive. I wouldn't want the school shelling out tons of dollars just to keep my kids quiet. I might be trying to have it on only during the major worktimes such as reading workshop or math class.

I will check back in with you in September after a month of school to let you know how it is coming. But until then I'd love to hear your responses to this program if you've tried it, or suggestions on how to make it work better in your room.

So, give it a try and let me know your thoughts.

Monday, July 08, 2013

Mentor Monday - Social Media Buttons

I've been on such a journey in just a short week. This time last week I had a BBB on my hands - that's mespeak for boring, blah blog. Through the help of some very creative people I brought that mess into the future and made something I like looking at each day.

This is a good thing, because I also have developed a format for my blogging that will keep me coming back more and more to share my world with you. Before I just posted things I thought you might want to hear. Which, if you look back far enough, you'll notice the thoughts were few and far between. With an established routine, I will blog more and be more consistent so you aren't waiting forever to hear from me.

Mentor Monday is just a rehash of what I've learned in the past week that is will make my TpT store better and how I can share it with you. The biggest lesson I've learned this week is that you have to promote, promote, promote to get your message out there. Especially if you are brand new to the blogosphere. You've got to literally SMEAR yourself everywhere to increase the amount of people that see your presence and will come in to visit your site. More people means more sales, more sales means more vacations!

In order to get yourself out there make sure you've got all the social media arenas covered. There's the biggies like Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, and of course Tpt. Then you can add in some other personal favs like Instagram, youTube, and flikr. All of which you can direct them back to your humble blog. If they like you, they want to know more. Once you've set up accounts at all of these places come back to your blog and make sure that your visitors can find you at all of these places, so they can tell their friends all about you.

If you do a Google search on Social Media Buttons that you can add to your blog, you'll find a ton to download and most of them are free. There are so many styles of the same buttons you are sure to find a set that works perfectly with your blog esthetic. Here's a site that had a lot of different styles to choose from called Slodive.

Download the set you love to your hard drive.  Next you'll have to upload them all to a sharing forum such as Photobucket which will give you some HTML codes that you can post onto your blog. You'll need to add a gadget that includes all of these codes that link the image icon say of Facebook to your actual FB page.

Go to your blogger design section and click on "Layout" where you can click on the "Add a gadget" section and select the HTML choice that's about 2/3rds of the way down the selection window. In there you can add in the HTML code for each button. Here's the code for you to use:

I found this idea on the All About Kimberly blog.

So, count up how many different social media icons you have and cut and paste the above code that  many times into your new HTML gadget. Then go through each HTML code and put in the website link and the photobucket image code for each.

When you are done, your visitors have easy access to all the places that you hang out.  Now you can sit back and watch the traffic to your blog multiply. Believe me,  it works! Last week I had a view count of 0 for the past six months. Today, I have over 200 views in the past week. Whoo HOO!

Hopefully, this helps you on your path to greatness. If you have any questions feel free to contact me in the comment section or click on the little envelope icon at the top right of my blog to send me an email. If you like this and it does help you out, I'd love to hear that as well.

Until tomorrow!

Sunday, July 07, 2013

O-M-G! Huge TpT Giveaway Contest

If you aren't already aware of this huge (over 50+ items) Scavenger Hunt  happening over at I'm Loving Lit you definitely need to rush over there right away. You can choose from any of the following packages or all of them!

It was super easy to do. Choose the set you most want, click on it then go to each of the websites listed to collect the secret words to turn in on a form. Then a huge set of Freebies arrives magically in your inbox. I can't believe how much work Erin at Loving Lit put into this project. Makes my head explode.

But you will definitely benefit from it, so go take a look. You'll thank me.