September 2012Tales from Outside the Classroom: September 2012

Fall Freebie Frenzy

I partnered with some great friends for an awesome fall unit.  We wanted a new way we could all work together and show appreciation for our tremendous blog followers!

Rowdy in Room 300

We've been working on the packet for a few weeks now so I am super excited to share it with you!  There are over 70 pages of fall themed Reading, Math, Science, and Social Studies activities for you to do
with your kiddos!

The BEST part is that you can snag it for *FREE* for one week only!
All you have to do is follow each one of our blogs and fill out the little questionnaire below:

The Fall Freebie Frenzy is now over.  Thank you to everyone who participated!

This will only last for this week! September 30th-October 7th, so follow us fast! After this giveaway we
will be placing the packet in our stores to sell!  Thank you for being a follower of mine!  Don't forget to head to the others' blogs if you aren't already following them.

3D Shapes and a Fall Sale

Every week I keep saying that I'm going to get a post up and going during the week.  Every week I don't make it!  I'm heading to work in a few minutes and I'm hoping that I can get all caught up (and maybe a little ahead) so that I'll have a bit more time during the week.  Maybe.

First up, I have some exciting news.  I realized that the next TpT sale is still a few months away, so I decided to put my entire TpT store on sale for 20% off.  There are quite a few other sellers deciding to do the same this weekend.  Click the picture below to come over to my store and get some goodies you've been waiting for!

Also, I've been spending some time working on some 3D shape items.  The fabulous first grade teachers I work with asked for some help creating and looking for items.  They found some awesome 3D shape posters from the awesome Teacher Tipster.  We loved them, but they just weren't cutesy enough for me.  I asked if I could snazzy them up a bit, and the Teacher Tipster agreed!  If you don't know Teacher Tipster, you can check out his blog or Facebook page for some great ideas!
You can get these shape posters and chants for FREE just by clicking the image above!

Also, I created a matching 2D & 3D Shape Bingo game.  I continued the cute blue chevron theme.  There are 10 different cards (half-sheets to save paper) and two different ways for the teacher to call the shapes.  I included the shape names so students can be the caller.  I also included cards that include attributes of the shapes.  It meets Common Core State Standards 1.G.1 and 1.G.2.  You can click the picture below to come and check it out in my store.  It's on sale too!

That's it for me today.  I'll have something else for you tomorrow.  Promise.


I've been wanting to share this post all week!  I've not been home at all this week and could not get things up and going.  Starting to work with kids again on reading has been so exciting, but I was not at all prepared for this week!  I've been playing catch up all week and am going in tomorrow so I can {hopefully} get all caught up!

First up, I need to share the winner of my giveaway!  Congrats Mandy!  I sent your gift certificate earlier this week.  Please let me know if you didn't receive it!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

When I first started as a reading teacher, I was shocked by the amount of errors my students made without self-correcting.  I'm not talking about not being able to pronounce an unknown word or struggling with sounding one out.  I'm talking about students saying that "The dog meowed" and not stopping to figure out what the heck just happened.  And while that might be a slight exaggeration, it really was astonishing to me.  I quickly realized that it must be my first course of action with my students.  Every year I worked with struggling readers I started out with self-monitoring and kept it as a constant throughout the year.  I saw huge growth in some students by fixing this one weakness.  Now that I'm working with struggling readers again, it was the first thing that jumped out at me when I started listening to them read.  Again, I'm back to it as my first mini-lessons with my older students this week.

Self-monitoring is pretty clear on it's own.  It's monitoring your own reading for accuracy and to ensure you are understanding what is being read.  It's a difficult skill to teach, though, and needs to be repeatedly practiced and reinforced with students.  So, how do you teach it?

I start with explaining the 3 questions: Does it look right?  Does it sound right?  Does it make sense?  I explain that as we are reading, everything we read must answer "yes" to those 3 questions.  I give them examples of things that would not.  For example, substituting kids for children would not make the first rule.  Saying "The dogs is tired" does not pass the second sentence.  And, "The dog meowed" does not pass the third.  These follow the meaning, syntax, visual errors you would analyze on a running record or leveling assessment.  You can get your own posters by clicking any of the three images.

After I've explained the three questions, I read aloud a book while making errors off and on throughout.  I ask students to interrupt me if I've made an error and ask me one of the questions as it relates to my error.  This helps students analyze errors and begin to think about them.  It also helps keeps them following along as I read.  I've even asked students to read aloud and have others redirect them with one of the questions.

Throughout the year, as students make errors without self-correcting them, I draw attention to their mistake by asking one of the questions.  I rarely just fix a mistake by students.  Instead, I want them to think about the question I'm asking them.  I've found that this causes them to be more attentive as they are reading and helps them make fewer mistakes in the long run.

How do you teach self-monitoring to your students?

I'm also linking up with Adventures of a Third Grade Teacher for her Reading Linky Party.  I can't wait to see some great ideas!

How I spent my weekend!

I thought I'd take a different approach to a post tonight.  What I had hoped to finish and share with you didn't quite work out and so I'll have to share it later this week.  Instead, I thought I'd share some images to show you how I spent my weekend.  Let me know what you think about this post.  I might do something similar every so often.  Go through the post though.  There's something in it for you! :)

I'm participating in a very special giveaway.  The Bubbly Blonde's close friend was recently diagnosed with Stage 3 Hodgkin's Lymphoma.  She corralled a great group of people to donate some fantastic items.  For a $20 donation, you will receive over $100 worth of products from amazing sellers/bloggers!  Click the button above to go check it out.

Don't forget to enter my giveaway!  You can win a $25 TpT gift card!

Without further ado, here's how I spent my weekend....

Friday Night




(Click the picture to head to my TpT store to download them for yourself for fuh-ree!)

How did you spend your weekend?  Was it as relaxing as mine was?

NWEA Resources and some Goodies

I'm hoping I can get back to weekday blogging soon.  Lately, I've had no energy when I've come home from  work.  And, this week, many nights I've had other plans.  I'm a little excited for fall because things start slowing down a bit.  I'll also start working with students this week so I'll actually have some information to share with all of you! :)

We just finished administering NWEA at my school.  Do you use NWEA?  We do it with our kids in grades 2-8, and since I'm our school's test coordinator, I've been knee deep in our data.  I've been looking for those students who are projected to not pass our state assessment to ensure we have them in RtI.  I've been trying to see which students have major drops from their spring scores, and also figure out who should be included in RtI.  The first thing I use is the normative data to find out who is at grade level.  I created my own chart that was a bit cuter than the one NWEA offers.  If you'd like it for yourself, just click the picture below.
Of course, an assessment isn't very useful if you don't do anything with the data.  Because NWEA isn't exactly aligned with the Common Core standards, and isn't aligned with the Indiana standards, we don't use it as our only formal assessment.  I always recommend using it when you are looking for what you need to work on with your really low students or your really high students.  For high students, it can give you some ideas for independent work or anchor activities.  For low students, it can tell you what their deficits are in so you know what to work on.

  • DesCartes- The DesCartes allows you to select the RIT band students are performing in for that specific skill strand, and gives you information on what the students should be working on.  You access the DesCartes from within the Reports website.
  • For Idaho Teachers- This site gives you curriculum ladders similar to the DesCartes.  They used to be much more user friendly and very different from the DesCartes.  However, they recently updated it to align with the Common Core and everything changed.  With that said, it's still a useful resources and is great for connecting the Common Core with NWEA for your instruction.  The rest of the site is also a great resource so look around a bit while you are there!
  • Campbellsport School District- This school district's site has some great online resources that students can use based on their strengths and weaknesses as identified with NWEA.  Click on MAP Reading Activities or MAP Math Activities and then click on the RIT band for the substrand.  It'll lead you to a list of online activities that students can use to reinforce that particular band.
How do you use NWEA in your school?  Have you found any specific data items to be especially helpful?  What about other resources you use to make the data even better?

This week I also had the chance to try out some more office supplies from  I was super excited because these are mostly items I've never seen or heard of before!
The BeGreen Dry Erase Markers are great!  I love that they are refillable.  Anything that is refillable instead of ending up in a landfill is a much better product in my book.  The ones I have are chisel tips with medium thickness, but there are also bullet tipped.

I also got to review the B2P Recycled Ballpoint Pen.  This is awesome!  The pen casing is made out of recycled plastic water bottles.  It's sturdy (it doesn't seem as flimsy as the bottles themselves) and the grip on the front is firm.  Again, anything that helps us keep our landfills emptier is fantastic in my book.

I also got to try out the Pilot FriXion Lite Erasable Highlighter and the Pilot FriXion Point Erasable Gel Pen.  These are great!  I will be completely honest- I couldn't get the highlighter to completely 100% erase.  However, I've never seen an erasable highlighter in my life and so this is amazing!  It nearly removed all of the highlighting and this will be my go-to in the future.  As for the pen, it far surpasses the erasable pens my grandmother would use on her crossword puzzles!  It didn't leave that residue behind that I was used to.  Another feature I liked was that the tips weren't just an eraser.  They were little plastic pieces that won't rub away.  Erasable has come a long way!

The last item I got to try is actually something I didn't need to try!  The Pilot G2 Gel Roller Ball Pen is actually one of my all time favorites.  I think I have them in every color imaginable!  I have a variety pack with pink, purple, and blue, among others.  They are great to use when you're writing on triplicated copies (like our referral sheets) because it seamlessly goes through all of the pages.  I also like that the gel comes out and writes smoothly.  I've owned them in .07 and .05 tips and love them both!

Also this week, I had the opportunity to find out a little about the company CampusBookRentals.  They buy books back and they also allow you to rent books instead of purchasing them.  I wish this option was available when I was in school.  They partner with Operation Smile and donate a portion of every book rental to them.  I like to support a company that I know supports worthwhile charities.

CampusBookRentals is also sponsoring a $25 gift gift certificate!

How do you use NWEA in your school?  Have you found other resources that have been helpful?

It's Football Sunday!

Wow!  What a week!  Things have been crazy at work, I caught an end of summer bug, and had that giant giveaway going on.  I felt like I was either rushing to get something done, or I was sleeping.  Thankfully, I seemed to beat this cold pretty quickly.  I'm not 100% but I can breathe and don't feel the need to sleep 14 hours a day anymore.  But, there's quite a bit I want to get you caught up on so keep reading...

First, I'm over at Time for Kindergarten today.  I shared ideas on how I used my letter tiles to practice phoneme segmentation and blending.  Click on the picture below to head over there to check out more and to grab this for free if you haven't already!

About my giveaway....
Apparently, when you subscribe by email (thanks for that, by the way!) your email comes the next day.  Who knew?!?  I sure didn't.  And then I had this genius (yes, it was genius) idea to have freebies for one day only, and everything came to a crashing halt!  Many of the blogger/sellers that joined me used Google Docs links and all was good.  However, there were a few who put items in their TpT store for free for just that day.  I was so disappointed to find so many people say they went to get it and couldn't.  Of course, at first I thought people were just late.  THEN I realized that it was a crazy fiasco and people had just found out!  I'm going to try and go back through my emails and make amends.  I apologize if you were one of the people who had tried to get something and couldn't.  I know how much that stinks!


I spent my weekend updating my 3rd grade CCSS Daily Math Warm Ups.  With the huge common core push nationwide, I kept getting tons of positive comments and requests for more.  The first thing I did was put the corresponding standards next to the problems.  There were a lot of requests for this and it just made sense and I'm not so sure why I hadn't thought of it in the first place.  For all of you who already bought it, you can just download the new version from your My Purchases tab on TpT.

I also spent the weekend creating the unit for the entire year!  There were so many people who asked to have them, and so I obliged!  You can click the picture above to check out the yearlong unit and get it from my TpT store for $20.  It saves you $4 over purchasing the sets individually.  Or, you can click the pictures below to get the individual sets.

The post is titled "It's Football Sunday" for a reason!  Are you super stoked that it's football season?  I am!  I LOVE fall.  I love the cooler weather, and sweaters, and cider and apples and pumpkins.  I love relaxing on the couch under the blanket watching football.  I love chili and pumpkin cupcakes.  I love fall.  This year, I joined my first fantasy football league.  I'm a little bit lost on how the fantasy part actually works but I'm already having tons of fun!  My favorite part is that I'm participating with some other bloggers and am getting to know them.  We'll be offering some goodies for you all throughout the season as well!  If you want to check out the other bloggers, click their buttons below.  It's going to be a fun season!

Sour Apple Studio 



 Peace, Love, & First Grade

Treasures for Teaching