June 30, 2013

Favorite Things Linky: Beauty Basics

I'm linking up with Halle from Across the Hall in Second Grade for her Favorite Things Linky. This one is all about Beauty!
Here's my routine:

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June 29, 2013

Currently July

I'm linking up with Farley for her Currently Linky. 
It's almost July! June went by a little too fast for my liking. I'm moving from second grade to first grade (same school) and my June goal was to move rooms and get my new room all set up and organized. My new room is almost ready. I still have some piles I need to organize. I will post pictures when I'm all the way finished. I went to school to work in my room about 4 hours most weekdays in June, but I am s-l-o-w when it comes to organizing. I keep telling myself it will be great when it's done, haha!

July's goal is to get all my curriculum stuff ready. I want to get as many flipcharts (lessons for my Promethean Board) done for math and literacy as I can. Anyways.... on to July's Currently:

Listening: I've been listening to my good ol' country music on Pandora most of this summer!

Loving: I still spend a lot of time in the summer working on classroom stuff, but I get to do it on my schedule. I don't head to my classroom until 10am. This lets me get up, run on my treadmill, eat breakfast and lazily get ready. During the school year I go at 7am, so 10 is pretty blissful. I head home at 2 or 3, which is a lot nicer than 6, which is when I go home during the school year.

Thinking: I'm honestly just grateful for a lot in my life right now. Things aren't perfect by any means, but they are improving. (1) My husband has a chemical engineering degree and recently got a great job. He had been unemployed for a few years and then worked as a teaching assistant at my school for a couple years making 9 bucks an hour. This new job is a true blessing. He's much happier and it obviously puts us in a much better financial position. (2) My parents had lived in Washington state (where I grew up), which is about 12 hours from where I am. I saw them once every 1-2 years. It had actually been 3 years since I had been able to see my dad. This month they moved to Utah and they live about 20 minutes away from us. I love having them so close. Now I get to see them every 1-2 weeks. They gave me a Vitamix blender and are trying to help me in my goal of becoming healthier. (3) I am not a very social person and struggle with social situations, but I lucked out and have great friends. We only have one car (which I'm super duper grateful for because we use to bus or walk everywhere) and my husband takes it to work. This leaves me kind of stranded during the day. My great teaching friend picks me up every day so we can go work in our classrooms. We also bounce ideas off each other and help each other during the stressful times. It's so nice to have another teacher to talk to that understands.

Wanting: I wish July could last forever. I'm a different person in the summer. A more relaxed person. I just want to hold on to July and stay in that happy zone.

Needing: My goal was to finish setting up and organizing my new room in June, but I still have a little bit to do. My great husband has offered to take me after he's off work and help me. He is such a hard worker!

Tips, Tricks, or Hints: Have some fun this summer! Maybe this is easy for most people. My husband says I need to learn to have fun again. I'm so used to working, I don't know what else to do. After I work on my classroom I come home and work on curriculum or TPT projects. I don't mind it because I get to work a my own pace, but I decided I need to inject some fun into this summer because even though I want July to last forever I know it won't.

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June 28, 2013

Bloglovin Giveaway!

So, you have probably heard by now that Google Reader is going away on July 1st. Well, a bunch of blogging friends are hosting giveaways on their blog if you follow them on Bloglovin!

I am joining and am giving away any two products from my store to the winner.  

A lot of you have already made the change, so this will be an easy entry!
If you are not currently following me on Bloglovin click the button below to follow me.
Follow on Bloglovin

Now you can enter my giveaway!

June 27, 2013


I am linking up with Abby from Third Grade Bookworm to discuss how I do homework.
This year I totally changed my homework routine.  I made homework packets and sent them home every Monday. They were due each Friday. I organized the homework packet as follows:

1st page: Weekly Grade Level Newsletter 

For my newsletter I include our "week-at-a-glace" where I highlight what we're learning about in each curriculum area. I also list important dates that are coming up and I have a notes section to address anything special that is happening. I also email this newsletter to parents that sign up for it.

2nd page: Spanish Newsletter 

We have a high ELL population and every note has to be sent home in English and Spanish.

3rd page: Spelling Page 

Our grade does three spelling lists based on the same phonics pattern (beginner, regular, and advanced levels). This page has all three lists and I circle whichever list the student is on (based on how they did on a pretest). This page also has a spot to record how spelling words are practiced and has room for a parent signature).

4th page: Spelling Ideas

I don't require any certain way for students to practice their words. Students learn differently so I just include a page full of ideas on ways to study their words. Parents seem to really appreciate the flexibility. Click here for my Spelling Ideas Page (it's free).

5th page: Fluency

I include a fluency passage from our basal program. We work on this same passage in class as well. Students read the story every day and answer two comprehension questions. 

6th Page: Reading

I ask students to read at least 20 minutes every night. On this page they write a summary of what they read each night. 

7th & 8th Pages: Math

I include two math pages to practice whatever skill we are working on. 

9th & 10th Pages: Writing

On these pages I include a writing prompt and handwriting lines for them to write on.

So that is what is included in each packet. It is due every Friday. I used to have a problem with a lot of students not completing homework. I am not allowed to take recess away, so I was kind of stumped on how to fix the problem. This year our grade level started doing "Fun Friday." Basically we planned fun activities for the last half hour of the day on Fridays. Students could only attend Fun Friday if their homework was turned in complete. We had three teachers in our grade level so we split it up where two teachers planned fun activities and one teacher took the students who did not finish homework. Students who completed their homework chose which fun activity they wanted to participate in. 

This worked so well! I averaged only 1-2 students a week not turning in homework. And if they didn't finish it, I knew they were at least able to get some help from one of us teachers for 30 minutes. We rotated who helped with homework, so every three weeks we didn't have to plan an activity. This was also a good excuse to just do something fun. Sometimes it fit in with our curriculum, but not always. This year we made ice cream in a bag, played with Oobleck, had iPad time, played board games, had Kidzbop dance parties, painted, played outdoor games, made holiday crafts, did fun science experiments, and more! I loved doing homework this way and plan on continuing this same method next year. How do you do your homework? Check out more ideas at Third Grade Bookworm's Linky.

June 22, 2013

Picture Books for the First Week of School

DeAnne from First Grade and Fabulous has set up an awesome linky party! She is highlighting picture books for different topics. This week she is featuring picture books for the first week of school.

I have some books that I love to use the first week and I'm excited to look at the other blogs linked up to find some new favorites! I usually use my read-alouds during the first week to help us establish rules and address crucial character traits to get the year started right. Here are six of my go-to books for the first week.

Creating Rules: 

I read Miss Nelson is Missing to introduce the importance of rules. I pretty much tell my kids that when they are well behaved I get to be the nice, fun teacher I want to be. When there are behavior problems then class is not as fun.

Following Directions: 

I read The Worst Day of My Life Ever to emphasize how things go better for them when they actually follow directions the first time.

Accepting Others: 

I read Odd Velvet to show that everyone is different and you may just find that someone you thought was odd can end up as your best friend. Basically, don't judge others and give everyone a chance.

Being Friendly: 

Have You Filled a Bucket Today is one of my favorites. I read this to discuss how making others feel happy actually makes you happy too.


My little ones seem to love to tattle. I read A Bad Case of Tattle Tongue to teach them the difference between tattling and reporting. I love the catchy phrases in the book and the concept seems to really stick with them.

Interrupting/ Calling Out: 

I read My Mouth is a Volcano to help teach my kids to use self control and not blurt out every little thought that pops into their heads.

June 18, 2013

Top 10 Teacher Apps

I used to not see the big deal about iPads. I thought they were overpriced and I was never going to buy one. Then I got one through the school. I became totally addicted to it! Then my husband and I bought one. Recently we both got iPhones. I definitely think these little Apple devices are worth it! 

I've already posted about my favorite math and literacy apps, but what about apps for the teacher?

Here are 10 of my favorite apps just for teachers:

 Class Dojo: I use this for behavior management in my room. I love how I can take my iPad with me in the hallways, to assemblies, at recess, etc. and still be able to reinforce my behavior expectations. My students love earning points and I love how motivated they stay throughout the year!

Splashtop 2: I've already done a separate post about this little gem here. Basically it lets you control your computer from your iPad. This have been very helpful for me when I'm teaching with my Promethean board. It frees me up to walk around the room and still maneuver my computer programs. It's a nice perk that it make my students think I'm magical. :-)
Common Core: I started implementing the common core this year and this handy little app made it easy for me to quickly look up all the standards. It's easy to click through the app and find exactly what you need (no huge binder or pages of documents to thumb through).

Groovy Grader: We all used to have that little grading slider thing, right? Mine always broke somehow. :-( Groovy Grader is an electronic version. You just enter how many possible points there are on an assignment and it breaks down the grades for you. I kinda hate grading and anything that makes it go a little faster is awesome in my book.
Dropbox: If you have an iPad you probably have dropbox. If not, stop reading this and get it now! It is the easiest way to move things from your computer to your iPad! If you use this link to sign up we both get an extra 500mb of storage. Sweet!
Stick Pick: Remember that can of popsicle sticks with student names on each one.... You'd randomly pull one out to call on a student....   Meet the high tech version of that! It's way more customizable than your old can of sticks though. It even gives you question starters according to Bloom's Taxonomy and the level your each student.

Sticky Notes: I love real sticky notes and found techy sticky notes just as awesome. I always lose my real sticky notes, so this app is great at keeping me organized and help me remember all those little things I will forget....in about 5 minutes....

Overdrive: Overdrive is connected to a lot of public libraries. With your library number you can check out digital copies of books. Free. There are even quite a few audio books. I use this to read my personal books, but I have noticed that there are a lot more children's books being uploaded. Downside: you can only have 5 books checked out at a time.

Record of Reading: We've all taken running records before. This app provides an electronic means of completing the running record. Added bonus: it records the student's voice while you take the record. You can save the file or email it. Convenient!!

Upad: My school actually purchased this app for all teachers. When we adopted the common core we all just downloaded the pdf files and used this app for make notes all over them. It saved a lot of paper not having to print off all the pages. It was pretty entertaining when we were at a training with other schools and their teachers had to cart around a huge binder full of all the common core pages and we had our nice, light little iPads. I also used it last summer when reorganizing my classroom. I took pictures all around the room and then used this app to make notes on the pictures where everything was going.

June 13, 2013

Word Problems

Are word problems tricky for your students? One step word problems were okay for mine, but they needed a lot of practice to get the hang of two step word problems. One and two step word problems are in the second grade common core, so I made these task cards to help give my students extra practice.

Here are some of the ways I use task cards:

Level Ups: Have students work by themselves or with a partner on a task card. When they are finished they bring it up for you to check. If they got it correct they get to “level up” to a new card. Struggling students get the time they need, but your fast finishers don’t get bored because they can move at their own pace. This is my favorite way to use task cards. When I explain it to the kids I refer to leveling up in video games, so they feel really cool when they get to "level up" in math.

Around the Room: Place task cards around the room and have students solve problems at their own pace (clipboards would be beneficial).

Scoot: Place one task card on each desk. Have students each start at a desk and solve the task at their seat (record their work on scratch paper or the Scoot Recording Sheet). When you say, “Scoot!” students go to the next desk and solve the task card at that desk. Continue until students are back at their original desks.

Fast Finisher: Have the task cards set up at a station where students can complete them if they finish their other work early.


June 9, 2013

Operation Organize Clip Art

I started making Teachers Pay Teachers products at the end of December and have bought so much clip art, it's borderline crazy. Any other clip art fanatics out there?

I was getting so overwhelmed with keeping it all organized. Before I made TPT products I just organized my clip art by topic, but now I need to remember whose clip art it is so that I can give credit.

I recently downloaded Pixa from the Mac App Store and I am in heaven!
You import all your clip art and then you can organize them into folders and tag the graphics! There's even a notes section where I add the credit and any unusual terms of use. I'll admit it took me most of a Saturday to get everything set up, but now I am reveling in the organization! As I buy more clip art it gets added and organized into Pixa. It automatically tags the color(s) and size and then I add tags for the categories. Then I sort the categories into folders (all customizable).

Some of my tags have a lot of clip art in them, like my "frames" tag. You can use the search bar to search for a term within the tag. If I know I want a green frame I can easily narrow it down to those to make my search faster.
Now when I'm making a product I can see exactly what I have. When I made a Valentines product I ended up forgetting about half of my Valentines clip art. Now I have a tag for that! If I need patriotic clip art I just click on that tag and I can see everything I have. When I click on an image I can see the notes I've added about credits. And ready to hear one of my favorite parts? From Pixa I can drag the image into whatever program I'm using to make my product!!!! So simple! I love it!