May 2012Tales from Outside the Classroom: May 2012

More for Father's Day

We have 4 days of school left.  4.  That makes it feel manageable!  And with everything going on in my head right now, I'm really thankful we're almost there.  I have a lot of things to get squared away in the next few weeks and I really could use the mental break.  I still work all through June and so I'll still be busy, but it's so different without the kids there.  More relaxing.  And I love taking the time to get organized.  I can make it!

We still have Donuts for Dads coming up on Monday.  I created a few other writing activities to offer to my teachers.  You can click on the picture to download either of them.

What are you doing for Father's Day at your school?  Or are you one of the lucky ones who are done already?

My Dad Rules! Father's Day (and other special people) Writing

Father's Day is always an interesting subject for me.  Without getting into details, I don't celebrate it.  And given a very sad story at our school this year, celebrating it at school just seems odd.  But, we are.  We have Donuts for Dads in about a week.  We needed some things to show our love for our dads so I've come up with a few different items.  This is a My Dad Rules! writing page.  There's a cute ruler on it.  Get it? :)  Because I know not everyone has dads, I created a page with grandpa, and a blank one.  That way, you can write in whoever you (or the kiddos) want.  Click on any of the pictures to head to my TpT store to download it for free.  It'll also be up in my Teachers Notebook store soon.

Guest post- Arlene from It's Elementary

I'm so excited to have Arlene as a guest blogger today!  Arlene has so much knowledge from her variety of experiences that I love to read her insights.  I hope you enjoy this guest post from her today.

I would like to thank Tessa for this wonderful opportunity to share a topic that is so important in K-3.  Having worked in a Title I school for many years as an ESL Resource teacher I did a lot of research into vocabulary development. One of the best research studies came from Hart and Risley, 1995. "Children come to school with meaningful differences in vocabulary knowledge. According to their research what matters is a student's relative economic advantage. Children living in poverty hear one-third the number of words per minute than those of the working class. Not only was there a difference in numbers of words but also in quality. Students living in poverty aren't exposed to rich, robust words and by the time they enter school the vocabulary knowledge gap is even wider. Explicit Vocabulary Instruction is necessary to help bridge that gap for these students. In K-2 many of these rich and robust words that are important to know in order to understand a text can be explicitly taught during Read Alouds. Text Talk developed by Beck and McKeown is a method where students listen to the new words being introduced in the context of the story and then three selected words are taught explicitly through explanations an discussions. The three targeted words are Tier Two Words such as adjectives or adverbs whose meaning is necessary for comprehending the text that is being read.
I was fortunate to have attended Anita Archer’s Workshop on Explicit Vocabulary Instruction at a Conference in which she demonstrated how to teach those Tier Two words during Read Alouds. I hope you will click on the link below to watch her short videos on Vocabulary Instruction from K-3 during your summer break and think about incorporating some of these strategies when you do Read Alouds with your students in the fall

You can also find this Vocabulary Word Card freebie at my TpT store.
I have taught for 33 years all over the U.S. including Alaska and Hawaii and overseas in Seoul, South Korea. I have a Master’s degree in Special Education and have taught Elementary, Special Education and ESL students. I started my very first blog 3 months ago as well as selling on TpT. I love sharing my knowledge and experiences of those wonderful years in the classroom with other and hope they will help teachers make a difference for the students in their classroom.

Caterpillar Families

I've got a busy weekend this weekend!  Today, I'm working with my favorite non-profit on a fun activity for the kiddos in the city and then going to a birthday party.  Tomorrow I'm watching my favorite three munchkins for a while and then heading to a cookout.  Most teachers love summer because it's when things relax for them. Things only seem to get busier for me during the summer and I think this weekend is the perfect example of that!

I have been creating so many math items that I wanted to get back into literacy.  In February, I created a center using these cute caterpillars that worked on CVC words.  I recently updated it to add a border to the pages.  You can download them from my TpT store or my TN shop.

I also created a Magic E center using the same format.  I think having the same game with different words saves time because you don't need to explain rules or procedures.  You can also get it for free from my TpT store or TN shop.

I hope you have a fabulous weekend.  And for all the Americans, I hope your long weekend is extra awesome!  Happy Memorial Day!

Saturdays and Teacakes

The marvelous Jeannie at Kindergarten Lifestyle is doing a picture book party.  A ton of bloggers are sharing their favorite picture books and lessons that go with them.  I'm choosing Saturdays and Teacakes by Lester Laminack because it's one of my favorites and isn't that well known.

I wanted to go through a lesson I do with the book, but, sadly, I couldn't find my copy of it to remind myself.  I think I loaned it out to someone.  Anyways....... the book is a memoir detailing Lester's visits with his Mammaw on (you guessed it!) Saturdays.  The writing is slow and deliberate.  You picture every move he makes.  His word choice is remarkable!

I've used this book in two ways.  First, as an exemplar text for word choice.  Every word in the book is precisely chosen and is a great example for students on why word choice is important.  I've also used it in teaching Small Moments.  Every stage of the book is a perfect starting point for writing a small moment story.  I use one part for a model lesson, use another part as a guided writing lesson, and I choose a last part for students to do on their own.

Here's a link where you can watch Lester read the book himself.  Take the few minutes.  It's worth it!

Also take some time to check out the other books in the linky.  I'm sure you'll find some new favorites!

Till next time....

Number Grids and the TpT Newsletter

Whoo hooo!  My K/1 Common Core Math Warm Ups are in the TpT newsletter today.  If you've now found me after reading yours, Welcome!  If you haven't gotten the TpT newsletter, check it out here.

More and more people are interested in becoming TpT sellers after hearing how much money Deanna Jump makes.  I wish we all could be at that level, but those are some big shoes to fill.  If you're interested in becoming a seller, you can sign up with my referral link by clicking the image below.
I had an idea yesterday and created a new freebie!  They are 120-number grids (the CCSS go up to 120) with numbers missing.  Students use the patterns to fill them in.  I created them to be used as a center instead of a worksheet so there's no name line on them.  There are 20 different pages.  You can download them for free from my TpT store or my TN shop.

I hope you enjoy them!  I really need to get some things done around the house today.  Next weekend is going to be busy!
Till next time....

Summer Reads

I'm linking up over at Mrs. Stanford's Good Reads Linky.  I have a few books I'd like to get read in the next couple months.  I haven't had much time to read lately (I just started The Hunger Games about two weeks ago) so I'd like to get some done.  I only officially have off the month of July and I'm super busy with the non-profit work I do during all of the summer months, but it's still less busy than the school year!  I'd love to hear what some of you plan on reading as well.

Indiana has begun transitioning to the Common Core standards.  I have a pretty good grasp on things and have read all of the information that's been available from our state.  At the same time, I don't think you can be too prepared.  While I'm not jumping on the bandwagon with many of the CCSS items that are being released out there, I trust Heinemann and Lucy Calkins and so I'm willing to bet that this is a quality read.

I haven't yet read anything by Debbie Diller but I've really wanted to.  I've heard great things about her centers/small groups books.  Because I LOVE Daily 5, I think I'll start with this book of hers.

I have a few more books that I'd like to read.  There's been a couple recommended by some of my teachers and there's one for work I need to read.  We'll see how much I actually get done! :) 

What are your reading plans for this summer?  Or, are you going on an awesome adventure instead?

Changing up Multiple Choice!

Are you needing some ideas for livening (is that a real word?!?) your multiple choice questions?  When I was teaching reading I sometimes felt that the best resources I had to review something was a worksheet.  It certainly was the easiest thing to find, and my first year teaching, an Edhelper subscription was about all I had.  But, dealing with below level readers was difficult if I was using too many worksheets.  Plus, it bored me to death as well.  So, I thought, how can I change this up.  And it hit me.  Remove the worksheet!

At this point, I'm sure you're so confused.  But, keep reading!  How can you use a worksheet but remove the worksheet?  By taking the paper away.  I used our die-cut machine and found one that stood for the a, the b, the c, and the d.  I made one for each student and they kept them in their folders for future use.  At the school I'm at now, we don't have a die-cut.  A few people have Cricuts but they are their personal ones.  For those of you like me that may need some help, I made a set of cards using clip art.  You can download those by clicking on the image below.  Taking the worksheet away also saves on copying!  You can use a document projector to project the worksheet and the choices.

How did I use them?  Well, a few ways:

  • I read a question and the four choices aloud.  Students held up their answer choice on their chest.  This allowed me to see their response, but not the rest of the class.  I kept a notepad with the worksheet so I could record if a student or students were having troubles.
  • For more in-depth questions, or this would be great for problem solving in math, students could work in groups to decide on an answer and then hold up the card representing their choice.
  • As test prep.  For those of you who like to go over the exact questions, this is a safer route because students don't have a copy to take with them.

I hope this gives you some ideas on how you can change up your worksheets.  I'd love to hear some ideas that you have.  

Until next time....

Spring Subtraction Color by Number

My second newsletter also went out today.  My newsletter comes out monthly-ish.  It recaps some things I have going on and I always offer a freebie.  Usually these are ones I haven't posted here or on my Facebook page yet.  I also included a survey on this one.  I'm asking my followers to give me more information about why they became a follower and what they would like to see more of.  This will help me make decisions regarding which steps I'd like to take next with my products and my blog.  If you'd like to check out my newsletter, you can find the link on my Facebook page.  You can sign up for future newsletters on the sidebar as well.

A few weeks ago, I did a guest blog post over at Kindergarten Lifestyle and offered a spring color by number freebie that practiced addition facts within 20.

 I just created two pages using the same format that practice subtraction within 20.  (The answers range from 10-16).  Click on the image below to download your copy for free.  It's a great compliment to the addition set.

Till next time....

Butterfly Craftivity and Writing

How has your Teacher Appreciation Week been?  Since I'm not a teacher, I don't get all the goodies, but I'm super excited for our luncheon tomorrow.  How about you?  What have you gotten?  Who has given you thanks?

I created another writing and craftivity for the end of the year.  This one is a butterfly.  Students can color it in how they choose and attach it to the top of their writing.  The writing page says "I flew through 2nd grade!"  I made a writing page for 1-5.  I'm wondering if it's bad business to offer a free End of the Year craftivity when I'm also selling my space one.  But, I like giving things away! I'm giving it away to my Facebook followers.  So head on over there to get to get yours. You can find it in the Fan Only Freebies tab.  

Of course, I'm also linking up to my End of the Year Linky Party.  Looking for ideas for the end of the year?  Check out this post.  There are TONS of fabulous ideas!

And finally, my friend Marie at The Hands-on Teacher is giving away my nouns unit as part of her 100 follower giveaway.  I'm incredibly late in telling you all about it, so hurry over quickly and get yourself entered.  You already have one entry for following me!  

Lifecycle Journals

Did you get some great stuff during the TpT sale?  Traffic from the Jackpot was CRAAAAAZY!  I had over 5,000 downloads on my unit.  I hope you all enjoyed it!  Thank you to all of you that purchased from me during the sale as well!  I hope you got everything you need to push you to the end of the year!

Our kindergarteners have begun studying life cycles with ladybugs and painted lady butterflies.  Their teachers asked if I could create journals for them that match the ones I created for plants and the weather.  Of course I obliged!  These journals allow students to write and draw a picture to describe their insect as it's growing.  They also select which stage of the life cycle process it is in.  Click on the pictures to check out this unit.

Classroom DIY

Did you notice my new badge on the sidebar?  Yeah, probably not.

I'm now a contributor over at the new blog Classroom DIY!  Head on over there and check out how you can create your own bulletin board for just a couple dollars!

Classroom DIY

Jackpot update and SALE!

The Jackpot is here!  I'm giving away my Adjectives unit for free for today!  Make sure you get your copy for free here  and please leave me feedback.  The Jackpot is now over.  I hope you grabbed all your freebies.  Check out the other blogs when you get a chance.  You'll find some new awesome ones!

Also, there will be tons of sales going on!  I'll be offering both my stores at TpT and TN 20% from Sunday through Tuesday!  TpT is also offering an additional 10% off if you use code TAD12.

You can find additional stores with sales by checking out the Teacher 2 Teacher blog.

This is a fantastic time to get some great deals and score some phenomenal freebies!


Teacher Appreciation week is coming up next week!  In order to show my appreciation for all the other educators out there, I've partnered with TONS (over 150) of amazing bloggers to offer freebies to our followers for one day only- May 6th.   All of the items are valued between $3 and $8.  You can help decide which item I should choose.  Head on over to my TpT store, look around, and come back here and comment with which item you'd like to see free.  Keep checking back on this post because it's going to be changing throughout the week.

For more information on the PK-2 Jackpot check out A Modern Teacher.
For more information on the 3-6 Jackpot check out Corkboard Connections.
For more information on the 7+ Jackpot check out The Tutor House.

The Jackpot is here!  I'm giving away my Adjectives unit for free for today!  Make sure you get your copy for free here  and please leave me feedback.   The jackpot is now over.  I hope you grabbed your freebies! Thank you for all that you do!

Also, there will be tons of sales going on!  I'll be offering both my stores at TpT and TN 20% from Sunday through Tuesday!  TpT is also offering an additional 10% off if you use code TAD12.

You can find additional stores with sales by checking out the Teacher 2 Teacher blog.

This is a fantastic time to get some great deals and score some phenomenal freebies!