April 2012Tales from Outside the Classroom: April 2012

3rd Grade Common Core Math Warm Ups

Warning!  This is a product post.
I finally finished my 3rd grade Common Core Math Warm Up for the full year!  Yippeee!  I kept putting it off because it takes so long and I wanted to get some other products created.  I'm happy to say this one is D-O-N-E done!  I was also able to get every.single.standard in there on at least a couple pages.  I uploaded it to TpT yesterday and TN today.  If you're a follower of my store, you already know that.  And if you aren't, well, what's stopping you?!? :)

You can click on any of the pages to head to my TpT store to see the entire unit.

I've also uploaded sets 2, 3, and 4, in addition to the original set.  You can click any of the pictures below to check them out.

You can also check out the unit and try out some freebies by clicking the picture below:

BUILD Math Centers

Hi there!  Are you here from Sunny Days in Second grade?  If so, I have another freebie for you!  They are the mini signs that can be used on your BUILD bins.  Click on the picture below to download them.

 If you haven't seen my post over there, check it out here.  And if you haven't been to her blog before, trust me, you'll love it!

4 Corners Review

One of my favorite ways to review a skill is to use the 4 Corners strategy.  I like it because it gets the kids up and moving.  I also like it because your kids can hide within the pack if they aren't so certain about an answer.  Here's how it works.

  • First, you label the four corners of your room.  With review, I use multiple choice options a, b, c, d.
  • Second, you ask the students a question and give corresponding answers.
  • Third, students move to the corner that represents an answer that they think is correct.
I always make the students explain the answer to reinforce what they're learning.  For your students who ar estruggling, they get to practice but if they don't know an answer, they can just follow the group and listen for the explanation.  By doing this activity, all students are involved and it really reaches your kinesthetic kids.

This is also a great way to pre-assess students.  You can ask students for their comfort on a specific topic and they move to the corner that corresponds.  You can use it as a post-assessment by doing the same thing.  You can also use it to have students pick how they will show their learning (write a report, act out a play, etc).  Basically, you can use it any way to have students make a choice.  I'd love to hear some other ways you use this strategy.

I'm also linking up over at Minds in Bloom for her movement linky.  It's the time of the year where those kids get a little restless and really want to move!

Kindergarten Lifestyle

Hi!  I'm not here today.  The marvelous Jeannie at Kindergarten Lifestyle invited me over to her blog.  Head on over to check it out.  I'm talking about math and there's an addition within 20 freebie for you!

Blogger Exchange Woohoo Wednesday

For this edition of Woo Hoo Wednesday, I'm sharing with you a fun Pinterest inspired Blogger exchange I participated in over the last few weeks.  It was a lot of fun and was something different to do during my free time.

Yesterday, I got my gift from the sweet Elisabeth at Tales of an Elementary Teacher.  That girl is way craftier than I am, let me tell you.  The wreath she got me is super adorable and matches my color scheme completely!  I was even impressed with the packaging.

 It was a BIG box!
 And she even packed it with peanuts!
 And it's a beautiful wreath!  It's on my rug so you can see how the colors match perfectly!  The flowers are made out of felt and look gorgeous!
 And she even gave me some cute flower clips.  I think these would look adorable on a headband.  (Sorry the picture is blurry.  My camera was dead so I was using my phone.)  Thank you so much Elisabeth!
For my blogging buddy (she hasn't posted yet so I don't want to name who) I made a menu board.  Each day of the week is printed and you use a dry erase marker to plan your week.  You could also just use it as a calendar.  Since I've started doing this, I've been cooking much more often.  It makes me look at my whole week and decide what I'm going to cook.  I am not as tempted to go through the drive-thru then!
I hope she likes it!

I had so much fun participating in this exchange.  I'm linking up at the Teacher Blogger Exchange.  Check it out to see the other Pinterest inspired creations!

New blog design and Mother's Day Craftivity

If you're over there in your Reader, and haven't been over HERE in a few days, you need to click through and come over now.  Don't worry, I'll wait......

I got a complete blog redesign and I L.O.V.E. love it!  While it's not typical of a teachery blog, it is very typical of me.  I'm a little bit obsessed in love with damask and so I was hoping to incorporate that in.  As you can see,  I was able to, and then some.  Apparently, I'm a little bit French on the inside!  :)  The wonderful ladies at Honey Bunch Blog Designs worked me with me and my uncertainty and undecisiveness to help me create a blog that's truly me.  If you are looking at getting a custom blog design, I would highly recommend them.  It was affordable and so much easier than I had ever dreamed!

Over the weekend, when I wasn't obsessively refreshing my blog to see the changes working with them on the blog design, I was in craftivity mode.  First, I made a space one that's used for the end of the year.  Then, I made a Mother's Day one.  My mother's day one is FREE (I know how you like that word) and is a cute little cupcake.  These can be used as a bulletin board, as all craftivities can, or you can just make them to send home for Mother's Day.
You can download the file directly from my blog by clicking on the picture.  (Thank you Kristen!)  It's also available in my TpT store and TN shop.

I'd love to get some feedback on these as I'm deciding if I want to keep working on different ideas I have in my head.  I'd also like to know what you think about being able to download the file here versus going to Google Docs or my stores.  Downloading it here means that link won't be in your Google Docs for future reference- I don't think.  So please leave me some comments letting me know what you think.

Till next time...

The end of the year is HERE!

I mentioned yesterday that I'm getting ready for the end of the year.  I know it's the time of year when we're all stressed, and, let's be honest, we just don't have quite as much of ourselves to give, so I thought I'd host an End of Year linky party that can be your one-stop-shop for everything you need to make it to the end.  You can post links to units, ideas, craftivites, etc.  I'd love to even see some ideas for gifts for students or teachers for the end of the year.  If you're linking up, please post the image with your post to help spread the word.  Links can be added through the end of June so check back often to see what's been updated.  

You're almost there!

Craftivity and Writing

I'm starting to think and plan for the end of the year.  It's crazy to me how different school years are across the country- and even crazier how different they are within the same state!  In my area, we go through early June.  I know some people have less than a month left!  That's just downright crazy to me!

I created this space themed craftivity to reach those boys who sometimes get overlooked by other crafts.  It's designed to be used as a bulletin board, but you can choose to display them however you wish.
There are three different writing prompts to choose from:
1. Our class is out of this world!
2. This year was out of this world!
3. We are out of this world!
If you'd like to see a different prompt along the same lines, leave it in the comment and I'll add it to the file and update it.
I've also created the file so that you can print the rocket cover in color, or you can print it in black and white to do the craft.  I've also set up the craft two different ways.  You can get the whole thing in black and white and have the students color the rocket like I did.  Or, you can copy the pages onto colored or construction paper so the accents are in a different color.
You can buy this from my TpT store here or my TN shop here.

If you aren't into craftivities, I also created a corresponding writing page for the prompt, "This year was out of this world!"  You can download your free copy from Google Docs by clicking on the picture.
There are some exciting changes coming this way.  Till next time....

Creating Games

I know there are a lot of you out there who would like to know how to get started with making your own printables and games.  When I first started teaching, I took as much as I could from others and then started figuring out what I actually needed.  That's when I started creating my own stuff.  I thought I'd share with you some resources that have helped me throughout the years.

1. Kelly's Kindergarten- Kelly's Kindergarten was the first site I used.  First, I just took her games and used them with my students.  Then, I started changing the words to fit my students' needs.  Finally, I realized that I could do the same thing and started creating my own.  I really need to go and find those files to share with all of you!  

2. Differentiation Station- This was the first blog I stalked that I saw a tutorial on.  When I saw it, I realized how much easier Powerpoint is to use than Word and I realized that I really could do this.  My TpT store and blog started shortly after.

3. Ladybug's Teacher Files- Kristen creates some fantastic tutorials on using Powerpoint to create items and she also has some great ones on blogging.  I generally feel I have a great understanding, but every time I watch one of her videos, I learn a ton of new tricks!

4. The Organized Classroom Blog- Charity has created a mini-course on creating printables.  While I haven't purchased this course from her, I'm certain it's worth every cent!  I've watched many of her videos and am a member of her Teaching Blog Traffic School program, and I know everything she puts out is great quality.

Charity is also doing a link-up challenging bloggers to take a second and reflect on their practices.  I was very excited to see that I wasn't way off the mark from the best practices she suggested.  If you are a fellow blogger and haven't heard about it, take a second to read what it's all about.  If you are just a blog reader, everyone with this badge has taken time to stop and think about how they can make their blog interesting and engaging for our readers.  If you like what you see on a blog, leave a comment letting them know.  Comments are always welcome!

5-Star Blogger

5 Things I'm Loving

I'm linking up for

1. Kindergarten, 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th - Balanced Literacy, Reading, Math - TeachersPayTeachers.com
Teachers pay Teachers allows us to share our materials throughout the world.  Most of all, you can find affordable, adorable resources that you can use in your classroom.  I used to spend so much money at the teachers' store and rarely used a whole book.

Revenge is new this week!  I've been waiting entirely too long!!!  I haven't watched much tv the last few months and this is the only show I'm hooked on, but, boy, I'm hooked!

Dari Dip!  Unless you live around my city, you have no idea of this place, but it's a little Mom and Pop ice cream shop.  Their soft serve is delicious and they even have soft serve strawberry!  I go daily weekly.

4. Pinterest Logo
Yeah, I'm still addicted to Pinterest.  Although, because of all of the spam, I am finding it harder to find what I'm looking for.  Still not given up on it yet.

5. Classroom freebies
I hadn't shared with you yet, but, I'm now a contributor on Classroom Freebies!  I'd been on CF2 for a while, but I'm super excited to join in with this group of wonderful bloggers.

I can't wait to see what some others are lovin on this April.  I bet I'll find some new things to obsess over love!

Guided Reading

Do you know this book?

I had two guests posts about Guided Reading last week.  First, I posted on the Tchr 2 Tchr page on using beanie babies to teach decoding strategies.  Then, on Saturday on Mrs. Miner's Kindergarten Monkey Business, I shared charts to help you organize your Guided Reading groups.

I thought I should explain to you about my thoughts on Guided Reading.  First and foremost, tons of people call their reading Guided Reading.  However, when I speak those terms I refer ONLY to the Guided Reading as described by the experts Fountas & Pinnell.  The focus of their groups is on strategies and strategy usage.  Some essentials:

  • Students are grouped based on ability, but these groups are fluid.  Students change groups as needed and aren't just stuck in the same group.
  • Minilessons focus on strategy usage and point out a few key features of the text to help students be successful.
  • Students read independently using the strategies that have been taught.  The teacher monitors the students and helps when needed, but that help is again focused on strategies of some kind.
  • After reading, students discuss the strategies they used to reinforce their learning.
I also do an additional after reading activity with the groups that extends the time a bit.  This might be a word work activity.  It may focus on the comprehension.  I identify what I'd like to focus on based on that book, and what we are working on in class at that time.  

If you aren't familiar with Guided Reading and you are doing leveled reading groups with your students, I'd highly recommend checking it out.  You can buy a copy from Amazon by clicking on the image above.

Let me know if you have any questions about how I do Guided Reading.  I'd love to hear some input from all of you!

What a week!

This was a crazy, crazy week.  On Monday, it was announced who are new principal will be for next year.  It's the guy who does my job for the upper grades at our school.  We've worked closely together for the last two years and I'm super excited for him and know he'll do a great job.  However, I also found out on Monday that they've decided to get rid of our positions.  They've decided to add an assistant principal and they hired someone who interviewed for the principal position.  They told me that in the restructuring they wanted to ensure I was still a member of the team and they created a differentiated specialist position that they offered me.  We're still discussing what that position will look like exactly but it sounds a bit like a combination of the two jobs I had prior to coming to here, which is great.  I've been on an emotional rollercoaster all week and I've been stressed and overwhelmed with the changes.  I'm excited to see what the new position has in store.

Needless to say, I haven't been blog stalking, creating, or posting much this week.  I've been in my own little world for the most part.  I don't have anything new to share with you, but in case you missed my Fan Only Freebie on my Facebook page.  You can download it here. You must like my page in order to download it.
This week isn't looking like I'll get much done throughout the week.  But hopefully I'll have some time next weekend to work on some of my items.  Like my 3rd grade Common Core math review pack to match the K/1 and 2nd grade ones.

Till next time.....

Wow! What a week!

It has been a crazy, crazy week.  I'll be posting more about that tomorrow.  Today, though, I'm talking about Guided Reading over at Mrs. Miner's Kindergarten Monkey Business.  I'm so excited Krissy let me share my ramblings with some of her fans.  Head on over there and check it out. * I also have two of my Guided Reading freebies there!*

Mrs. Miner's Kindergarten Monkey Business

And if you're here from Krissy's page, stop and browse around for a while.  Check out the freebie label in the sidebar for many more free items! Thanks for stopping by!

Teacher 2 Teacher

I'm not posting here today.  I'm over at the Teacher 2 Teacher blog.  If you aren't familiar with it, it's a great collaborative blog that has interviews with some great TpT teacher authors, and some great informative articles every week.  Head on over to check out my post on guided reading strategies.  Click on the button below to check it out!

Tagged on Easter

I decided to throw a sale at my Teachers Notebook store for today only.  If your Easter/Passover plans are not as full and you're blog stalking today, head on over and grab a deal.  Happy Easter!

The lovely Christi at Ms. Fultz's Corner has tagged me this weekend on a cute little bloggy survey.  This is the first one like this I've been tagged in, and I thought it would be a cute way to let you know a little about myself.

Here Are The Rules:
* Post these rules.
* Answer the 10 questions that the tagger posted for you.
* Create 10 questions of your own to ask the people that you're about to tag. (I'm missing how many people I'm supposed to tag, so I guess I get to make up my own number!)

Here are my questions:
1. What's your most loved classroom read aloud?  My favorite is probably Thank You Mr. Falker by Patricia Polacco.  I cry every. single. time.

2. If you weren't teaching, what would you be doing instead? I'm not really sure. I'm not technically a teacher now.   I've always known that I've wanted to be a teacher so if I wasn't teaching, I'd probably still be doing something in education or curriculum.  Ideally, I'd be making phenomenal units for TpT that everyone in the world wants, and I could make enough money to support myself and my retirement on that!  And then I'd get to spend all my time volunteering! :)

3. What are you most looking forward to during summer break? Well, I don't get much of a summer break.  Because I'm in administration, my contract goes from August 1-June 30.  I only get off the month of July and last year I didn't even get that off.  I had a week off.  There are some major changes coming my way at work, so I'm waiting to see what kind of break I'll get.

4. Can you think of your favorite teaching moment? One of the moments that stands out most to me was actually when I was student teaching.  I was in a low income school and I struggled the entire semester.  I didn't get support from administration and it was a trying experience.  We were reading Number the Stars with my low readers.  I decided to make it much more of a study on the Holocaust.  One day we had a very interesting and in depth conversation on what America's role should have been with the Holocaust.  My students said that Americans should have killed the Nazis to stop them.  I asked how doing that was any better or different than what the Nazis were doing.  It was some very higher order thinking, we didn't ever come to a solution, but I think it made an impact on those students.

5. If money wasn't a factor, what one item would you buy for your classroom?  I don't have a classroom.  I have an office.  That I share.  More space would be my one thing :)  But for the classrooms in my building, I think a SmartBoard or another interactive whiteboard would be awesome for the teachers in my building.

6. Why did you start blogging? I started blogging after I discovered so many great teaching blogs through Pinterest.  I had always created games and materials for teaching and so once I started my TpT store, I thought a blog was a great way for me to share my free items and to try and get my name out there.  I never would have dreamed I would have had so many followers in such a short period of time.

7. What is your favorite non-school related thing to do?  Giving back to my community.  I spend most of my time outside of work and creating items, volunteering.  I think we all need to do our own part to make the world a better place.

8. What advice would you give to a new teacher in your building? Work together!  This is only our second year of existence.  Our teachers give 110% and have to think outside of the box to meet their students needs and to help establish who we are as a school.  The best way to keep your sanity throughout all of that is by working together.

9. Do you prefer real books or e-readers like Kindles? I prefer real books.  I bought a friend's Nook a couple years ago and I've only used it once.  I really need to give it a try again.
10. You know it's been a good day when...I come home and am not reaching for a glass of wine or a margarita!  Ha!

Here are my 10 questions:
1. Who made the biggest impact on your decision to become a teacher?
2. What has been one of your favorite teaching moments?
3. What is your favorite thing to teach?
4. What is your favorite thing to do outside of school?
5. What do you plan to do over summer break?
6. If you weren't teaching, what would you be doing?
7. If there was only one thing people knew about me, I wish they would know....
8. What is your favorite tv show?
9. What are you addicted to?  (think Diet Coke, flip flops, etc!) :)
10. What is the best non-children's book that you've ever read?

Here are the great bloggers I'd love to hear all about!

Teri at A Cupcake for the Teacher- sadly her adorable blog button code doesn't work
Ellen at Great {First Grade} Expectations

A Teeny Tiny Teacher
Young and Lively Kindergarten
Kindergarten Lifestyle
All That Glitters in First Grade