Saturday, July 21, 2012

Gratitude in the Little Apple

I am sending out big thanks to two blogger friends today.  First, I want to thank Kim from Grade One Doodle Bugs.  I was able to get items from her TPT store as part of the giveaway I won earlier in the week. I selected her Poetry Writing Kit and Comprehension Pack, and look forward to using them to enhance my study of poetry this coming year.  Click on her button to check out her site:

Next, thanks to Mrs. Goodwin in I Live 2 Learn I Love 2 Grow for choosing to honor me with the Versatile Blogger Award!  It made my day for her to recognize my little blog.
Here are the requirements for accepting this award:

Versatile Blogger Award:
1. Thank the blogger who nominated you.
2. Include a link to their site.
3. Include the award image in your post.
4. Give 7 random facts about yourself.
5. Nominate 5-10 other bloggers, include their link, and let them know.

Seven Random Facts About Me

1. I love to golf but am no Annika Sorenstam.

2. I have an adorable 7 pound dog named Berkeley.

3. I grew up living next door to my grandparents.  My grandmother, who was a teacher, is my hero.

4. I have sung on Good Morning America.  It was Elvis week, and they were looking for someone to sing an Elvis song.  I started mouthing the words to "Don't Be Cruel" just to see if I could remember it, and got picked.  After singing, Diane Sawyer said something about me being an entrant on American Idol, but my singing career was over after this gig. 

5. I am teaching third grade this coming school year, but have taught everything from Kindergarten to College (oops - luckily no middle school!)

6. I think I'm getting carpal tunnel from blog stalking.

7. Tomorrow I will be attending the Mickelson ExxonMobil Math and Science Teachers Academy in Jersey City, NJ, with 200 other teachers from around the country.  I am SO EXCITED!  I am one of two teachers selected from Wisconsin, and am absolutely honored and thrilled to be part of this extraordinary experience.  Find out more about it, and how to apply here!

Now for the blogs I am nominating for this award.  They all inspire me!

     Around the Kampfire
     Fancy Free in Fourth
     Kathys Coordinated Class
     Mrs. A's Room
     Fourth and Ten

Friday, July 20, 2012

Fiction Friday - Bugs! (And Another App)

It's Fiction Friday, and I am again joining my friend Amanda at The Teaching Thief for the latest installment of fantastic fiction reads.
My choice this week is  a fun one to read while studying insects. In this book Beetle McGrady longs to be an "explorer", and her first stab at exploring involves eating a bug!  The illustrations are colorful and exaggerated, and the book includes references to the eating of insects in various cultures.  We raised mealworms as a part of our insect unit in Science, and cookies made from mealworms were a part of the insect feast at the end - my students loved hearing about it!
I have posted an Insect Unit to my TPT store.  I have often started the school year with a very popular study of insects.  In my unit you will find:
                               Insect Observation  Booklet (An example is shown below)
                               Insect Bingo Game
                               Insect Poetry Template
                               Insect Study Project with a Scoring Rubric
                               Life Cycle Label and Draw Sheets
                               Suggested Unit Activities
                               Suggested Insect Books and Apps
One of the Apps listed in my unit is called wiseHopper.  In this App, the user selects a wisehopping insect that leaps among answers to math and language problems - hoping to cross what appears to be brook.  The basic version of this game is free and includes a variety of options.  Here is the basic menu page, in the next page the user is able to select an insect for the game.  The wiseHopper App with make for wise, happy students!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

App Happy Linky Party - Running Records App

Hope at Second Grade Shenanigans is a having an App Happy Linky Party. While she shared an awesome iPhone app for organizing your classroom library, I am going to share an App for students, and a Running Records App for teachers.
The first one I mentioned in an earlier post - it's the one called Dabble. It is a word building game which involves rearranging letters to create a pyramid of words. It think it would be appropriate for students in grades 2-6. Here is a sample page:
I was able to complete this one by rearranging some of the letters above with the ones in the bottom row.  Afterwards the students get a score sheet like this:
Next is an app that one of my colleagues was raving about.  It is called Running Records Calculator!  There is a Lite version that is free, and one with an audio recording feature that is $2.99.  In this awesome little App the teacher can record the child reading, then input the # of words in the selection, as well as the number of errors and self corrections in the selection, and the App will calculate words per minute, accuracy, and self correction ratio.  Holla!  Gotta love it!!!
It is available for the iPad or iPhone!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

I'm a Winner, and Chicago Teacher Tips

Thanks to my wonderful Canadian blogger friend Keri at Teach~Play~Smile for the awesome prize in her giveaway!  I won a Belkin Rockstar Multi Headphone Splitter!  I can't wait to put it to good use in my classroom.  I have followed Keri's blog for months because she teaches second and third graders, and I taught a 2/3 split last year.  Hope you'll check out her blog and become a follower.
There are some great teacher deals in Chicago if you're planning a trip to the Windy City.  I have taken many trips there because my brother works downtown, and have discovered some awesome perks for educators.  First, admission is free at the Adler Planetarium, Field Museum, and Art Institute with your school ID.  Also, the Shedd Aquarium offers free admission for teachers from IL, WI, MN, and IN by first registering for a pass online. Teachers from other states can get $3 off by showing their school IDs.

If you're looking for a hotel suggestion I highly recommend The Fairmont  - it is centrally located between Millenium Park and Michigan Avenue.  The rooms are big when compared to others in Chicago, and you can find good deals on their website.  I do not get any freebies for sharing this advice, just wanted to share what I've discovered.  Also, for discounts on attractions and restaurants check out his website for some deals - Explore Chicago - just put in discounts on the search link and you will be directed to discount codes on many of the best attractions.

This past weekend our family had its annual meet-up at the Taste of Chicago and, in spite of the heat, enjoyed a great day. 
My niece and I

We saw yummy hunkster Dierks Bentley!

Friday, July 13, 2012

Fiction Friday - Homework and Fabulous Finds

Happy Friday! Today I'm linking up with two awesome blog friends, and I am incorporating a homework theme to both of them.

First, my Fiction Friday link up with Amanda at The Teaching Thief is about a book that is sure to get your students' attention.
Here is some of what was written in a review on the Barnes & Noble website:
Trevor Romain knows how horrible homework can be, and kids will see this right away as they page through this book, grin at the cartoons, and smile at Trevor's funny insights.

Meanwhile, they'll discover valuable truths and pointers about homework: “People who say homework is a waste of time don't know what they are talking about.” “The best way to get your homework done without feeling sick every time you see it is to just do it.”

Now, my second link up is with Fun in Room 4B for the Fabulous Find Friday party.
I was loaded with coupons when I headed over to Office Max yesterday.  I had a $5 off $25 coupon, a coupon for 10 free folders when you spend $5, and I also had a MaxPerks certificate for $6 off my purchase.  Teachers can earn points for dollars when they shop at Office Max.  Anyway, here is what I carried out of the store, along with some other items I found at Walmart, and Rogans Shoes (yay!).
From Office Max:  Peel & Stick Dry Erase To-Do Lists
                               Peel & Stick Dry Erase While We Are Away Sheets
                               Microfiber Mini-Mitt
                               Pack of 6 Report Covers to make white boards
                               No Homework Tonight rewards
                               Electric Pencil Sharpener
                               Ten free 2-pocket folders
                               (All of that came to $21)
From Walmart:       Sleek new case for my iPhone $5
From Rogans Shoes:  LifeStride Sandals $15!

I was thinking more about the homework rewards when I got home and I decided to make a sign to post in the classroom for noting who received the awards.  I could just imagine myself handing out the reward, then forgetting who got it, and later harassing tquestioning that student about not having their homework in.  So I made a sign to help my aging memory.  I also made some additional homework reward sheets.  They look like this:
You can pick up the rewards and the sign at my TPT store for FREE by clicking on the sample passes above.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

IPad Apps and Classroom Theme

I started a class on using iPads in the classroom on Monday and learned so much in just one day.  We have a follow-up to the class next Monday.  Because I am a lover of bargains I was especially keen on one app that lists other apps that are available for a discounted price for a limited time period.  The app is free and is called Appshopper.  One of the apps I found that I think will be a big hit is called Dabble, and it is also free right now.
This app is a word building game.  There is a pyramid of letters on the screen, and the user must rearrange the letters to create 2-, 3-, 4-, 5-, and 6-letter words.  It can be kind of challenging but would probably be appropriate for second through sixth graders.

I've seen some chat around the blogs about classroom themes.  I try to switch mine up every year, and one I thought was especially good was a theme on Discovery.  I created these mock Discover cards for each of the students.
The numbers on the card are the date school started followed by the room number.  The expiration date was the last day of school.  The colors I selected matched the design of the actual Discover card at that time.  I used these cards to mark the student hooks in the hallway.  The Discovery theme encompassed all subject areas, and I referred to the theme often throughout the year.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Old School New School Linky Party

Swersty at Swerstys Swap Shop is having a fun linky party! She is asking bloggers to show pictures from their first year of teaching and compare it to a current picture.  It motivated me to dig out some old pictures, and boy did I have a good laugh.
Cowboy Day was a huge tradition before I joined my first school district, so I was forced to carry on this rootin-tootin event.  I remember that I did make the most of it, and had the Kinders act out the words to "Mamas, Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to be Cowboys" as part of the show.  LOL!
Does anyone remember that the bows were popular back in the day?  At least I had sort of a cute bulletin board in the back.  It needs something maybe less white space!!
The kids were adorable - that much hasn't changed.  I really can't play the piano.  I put two hands on the keyboard to make it look good, but only knew enough notes to get by on one hand.  Now I just ring a bell to get their attention.
 I didn't have a picture of myself with this year's class because I was taking all the pictures! This group was adorable, too! 

Can you find some old school/new school pictures to join in on the fun?

Saturday, July 7, 2012

A Teacher's Wisdom Linky Party

Today I am linking up with Deb at Fabulously First for a Linky Party on sharing bits of wisdom for beginning teachers. I teach a course for future teachers at Concordia University, and I serve as a mentor to new teachers in my district, so I'll share a a few of the tips that have seemed to help the educators I've worked with.
First - model, model, and model again what you expect from your students. I think this is important at any grade level or in any subject area. Do you remember thinking, even in college, "What does this professor want????" Well, it's the same for our students. Once you model what is expected (by acting it out, or showing a visual) the kids will understand what you are looking for. But, be ready for this:
Even the best laid plans may turn out much differently than what you expected.  It's okay - just remember what happened and adjust for the next time you do that lesson.

Next - make sure your students get these messages through what you say and what you do:
This is important.
You can do it.
I won't give up on you!
This is so important, especially for the struggling learners.  For a child to feel that you have his/her back is so powerful. 

And if I could add one more thing - please don't adopt the I-don't-want-to-look-like-an-idiot-so-I'll-act-like-I-know-everything attitude.  It is a huge turn off to your new colleagues.  Veteran and beginning teachers have so much to offer and share - be open to what others have learned through experience.

Oh - and no texting or checking FB on your phone during meetings!!

Friday, July 6, 2012

Fiction Friday - Straight to the Pole

It's Fiction Friday!  Link up at The Teaching Thief, and add your suggestions for great fiction books to read in your classroom:

When teaching about Voice in writing I've found great success with the book Straight to the Pole by Kevin O'Malley.  Since we're famous for our snowstorms here in Wisconsin, the children really relate to the struggles the main character faces in this book.  There is even a surprise ending!
After reading the book we create an anchor chart about all of the examples of Voice in the story.  Some of the things we list are:  humor, larger and smaller letters, the use of ellipses (.....), as well as the surprise ending.  I found the easy lesson for using this book in here:

In this book you will find suggestions for teaching the six traits with great mentor texts that your students will love!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Happy 4th and Education Station discount

Happy 4th everyone! Doesn't he look adorable in his patriotic attire?

I had let him out this morning and then got totally distracted with blog stalking and forgot he was outside!! I think it was only about 5 minutes but it is so hot here that I had major pangs of guilt. He immediately hit the water bowl and then laid down on the wood floor to cool off. Poor guy!

My latest "Teacher $$ Tipster" is for a discount at The Education Station. You can order online from The Education Station and use the discount AMZ20 for an additional 20% off your order. They have the magnetic borders that everyone is raving about, as well as many other great items. I have ordered from them and they delivered pretty promptly.

I have been volunteering at the women's U.S. Open golf tournament at Blackwolf Run in Kohler, WI, this week. I got to meet one of my favorite golfers, Paula Creamer.
She has a really cute line of golf clothing too!

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Currently - July

I finally figured out how to join the rest of the blogging world in a "Currently" post! You can join the party at Farley's site.

I am in a book study group that is discussing The Book Whisperer right now and we are having quite a few a-ha moments.  It seems to be the playbook for our district leadership's team view on our new Communication Arts curriculum (aka - reading). 

The read aloud I chose has been a favorite since I was student teaching (which was a loooong time ago!), and it is entertaining as well as sensible.  You and your students will love it!  Sometimes I Worry....  by Alan Gross is a great read aloud.