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September 27, 2014

Happy Saturday and a Freebie

Happy Saturday bloggy friends!  Lots to be happy about around here.

I gave my self a little makeover on my design site, A Bird in Hand Designs.
I loved the colors so much that they had to become a paper set.  So, here's a little freebie for you:
And if you own any of my Retro Brights items, the coral, pink, orange, and yellow coordinate with that set!

September 25, 2014

Small Group Resources I Love

I am working with 1st-4th grades in small groups for reading, so I need a wide variety of resources.  Here are few faves that I purchased recently:
Cannot say enough about Jen Jones products.  I have a borderline obsession/love for all of Jen Jones' resources.  Her Hello 411 Close Reading sets are so good I bought Volume 1 and Volume 2.  Each article comes with a teaching points page and several comprehension activities.  They are lovingly organized in their own accordion folder.  I may have pet it a few times.
You don't have to print them in color, but I chose to.  I have no resources for this position.  I bought them and laminated them myself, so I figured the school was cool with me color printing them.  Right?  Nod your head in agreement.

Another idea that I wish was mine.  Luckeyfrog's Lilypad has monthly sets of these Super Text Detectives in her shop.
She has a freebie in her TPT store, so you can get an idea for yourself of how awesome these are.

And last but not least, these sound boxes cards from Laura Martin.  Another product I printed in color.  Let's hope our tech person is not reading this post.
These are great for so many ways.  Obviously it's good for recording sounds, but with younger readers, you could fill in the vowel and work just on beginning or ending sounds.  You could use these for a pushing pennies activity to help them practice isolating sounds.  For a literacy center, you could give them a variety of vowel sounds to first sort, then record.

Did I mention I love them?  There are more cards here and here that have gone on my wish list.

September 17, 2014

Get Insta{gram} Pretty

There are several apps I love to use for Instagram, but they also work for Facebook, texting pictures, whatever!

I had fun making some pretty pictures to share in my Rhonna Designs app.  I love the backgrounds from the Cuptakes app to start of my pictures.  Here's a break down on each picture:
Cuptakes background, white square with some transparency, text, text with a shadow, and a graphic.

Cuptakes background, two graphics, text, and text with shadow.  (Hint-the hello graphic did not have the white filled in hello.  It was "empty" so the background was showing.  I just put two white squares behind it.)

Can you tell I was excited about this meet up?
Cuptakes background, white stripes element layered on top, giant banner (there is no rectangle, so I made a banner too big to fit on the screen) with some transparency, text, and a graphic element.

Mix fonts (a block and script or fun font are good mixes), play with colors, have fun!  Sit down for a while and play with it.

PicStitch is another favorite Instagram app.  It's a fun way to put together pictures.  Like this one from a video my younger daughter made on JibJab.  Because dancing dogs in a wig need to be on Instagram.

I also like to share my blog designs but don't want to spam Instagram by sharing them constantly.  I use PicStitch as a way to condense that.

Don't Instagram?  Well, why the heck not?  Okay, I actually know why not.  I thought it was dumb for a long time.  I had Facebook, so an Instagram must be redundant, right?  Oh so wrong, my friends.

Following teachers on Instagram is a million times better than on Facebook (in my overly enthusiastic opinion).  It's more like your teacher friends at school.  With your school teacher friends, you know the lessons they are teaching, their great organizational tips, what they did over the weekends, and where they bought that cute new bracelet.

That is Instagram.  Swoon.  Getting started on Instagram?  Start off by following a few of your favorite bloggers.  Gradually you'll find more and more bloggers you love.  Already on Instagram?  Leave a comment to tell others why you love it!


September 6, 2014

Five on the Fifth

I am so excited to be back with a new five on the fifth post this month.  This was one of my favorite series, and it kind of fell by the wayside last year when I wasn't working much.  But now I'm back and blog reading with a vengeance.  Here are five awesome posts (and a bonus!) from the past month by five awesome bloggers.  You can find more fabulous posts on my 5 on the 5th Pinterest board.
First up is a post from Peppy Zesty Teacherista.  When I saw this originally on Instagram, I immediately wished it had come from my brain.  It's so smart.  And simple.  And genius.  I emailed her, and asked her if she would blog about it because all the people should know.  Hop on over to read Amber's post about her MATH stations.
Next is a post from Collaboration Cuties about a product from Lovin' Lit.  You know if someone else writes an entire blog post about a product that's not theirs, it's a good one.  Click here to read what these ladies think of Lovin' Lit's Build a Better Sentence resource.
Next up is a post from Math Coach's Corner on The Q Factor-Quality Questions.  We know we need to add more rigor (Texas word, I'm sure your state has it's own) to math word problems.  This a great post on guiding you through the process of writing higher quality math questions.  

Next up is a post from Queen of the First Grade Jungle.  I am obsessed with her super hero door.  It was the inspiration for my Super Hero mini set.  Who wouldn't want to walk into that door ever day?
I am equally obsessed with The Tattooed Teachers super hero bulletin board.  And those KG Second Chance Sketch letters.  Swoon.  You can even vote for it in the MPM Bulletin Board Contest.
The last post I want to share from you is from Mrs. Bartel's School Family.  I love this blog.  Her school is so strikingly different in a country that is dead set on making every classroom the same to do well on the same test.  It is an Ag/Tech charter, and they have cows and other live things like Jenny that Alyce wrote about in this post.
And since I'm late, so this is technically a six on the sixth post (it was a Friday night people, and a Nordstrom opened in my town that day-I have priorities), here's a bonus post.  I found this GEM using every teacher's favorite search engine-Pinterest.  Your kids will absolutely "get" rounding to the nearest ten with this lesson.  As in forever.  Blair from One Lesson at a time shared it on All Things Upper Elementary.
Have a great weekend!

August 31, 2014

A Sale, a Freebie, and a Good Cause

Happy Labor Day weekend to you!  A 3 day weekend is reason enough to celebrate, so I've got a sale, a freebie, and a good cause to share with you.

A Sale:
I'm having a Labor Day sale in my TPT store today and tomorrow.  I used my new Katie set to make the sale sign.
A Freebie:
I made three new mini sets for my store, and I might be a freakishly obsessed with the birthday one.

Let's take a closer look, shall we?
So stinkin' cute that I just had to make a little more.  Here's a freebie just for blog readers.  Click here or on the image to download:
A Good Cause:
In April, my daughter was diagnosed with Scoliosis. It progressed very quickly and aggressively. By July, she was having surgery. We were able to go to the most amazing hospital on the planet-Shriners Hospital in Philadelphia. They are one of the few hospitals in the country that preform a surgery that corrects scoliosis without fusing the spine. Shriners Hospitals treat patients regardless of insurance or ability to pay.  Which has been amazing for our family because so far our insurance has refused to pay for the surgery.

I'll give you a little before and after of her spine.  This is probably a little TMI, but when I say the surgery made a huge difference, I'm not exaggerating.
I wanted to give back in some way to the hospital and staff.  With the help of my sweet blogging friends, Teacher Laura and The 3am Teacher, I made these two mini sets.  All proceeds will be donated to Shriners Hospital Philadelphia.

I hope you have a relaxing Labor Day weekend!

August 30, 2014

Kickstarting Writing

This year I am not teaching writing.  Consequently, every time I think about a new post for this blog, I can only think about writing.  Makes sense, right?

My second year of teaching, I had a boy who laid down his head and cried every day for a week when it was time to write because he had nothing to write about.  It took me almost a full two weeks to convince him that maybe, just maybe he had some stories to tell.

That story makes me smile when I think about it, but the truth is "the idea" is terrifying for kids.  Spending time at the beginning of the year teaching kids had to find stories in their own lives is invaluable.

Here are some of my favorite ways to get kids started with writing:

Feelings
All good stories are good stories because they have strong feelings in them.  Instead of starting off with the idea, have your kids think about feelings instead.  Read more about this lesson here.

Writing is scary. Drawing isn't.  (Except for my drawing.  This is frighteningly awful.)
One of the problems kids have is trying to tell the story of their entire summer or trip to the beach or last school year.  It's simply too big and overwhelming.  A picture helps them narrow that story down to a small moment.  And a post it note keeps that drawing short and sweet.  Read this post to see how I had kids orally rehearse their stories.  Did you like that?  It was fancy talk for I had them use the picture to tell the story to a partner before writing it.  Mention that in your next PD though, and people will think you're really smart.

Let them be boring. 
Yep.  Let them be boring.  You have all year to teach them how to mine great stories from their lives.  Teach them how to turn their boring stories into interesting stories.

I have wished a hundred times that I could remember where I read this quote.  I used it so many times in my classroom because it is The. Truth.

Happy writing!

August 24, 2014

My Favorite Writing Lessons

I'm back in the saddle!  Sort of.  After taking most of last year off, I'm going back to the classroom part time.  I'll be working with reading and math small groups.  I filled in for this position for two months last year, and I'm very excited about it, but it got me thinking about how much I'll miss teaching writing.  I feel like writing was the last and hardest piece of my teaching pie.  It's just so darn hard.  I feel like I finally got a handle on it and actually started enjoying it, and now I'm not teaching it.

I also feel like it's time to get some content on this blog.  I looooove summertime and teaching blogs during the summer are full of fun ideas.  But it's time for me to get back to the business of a teaching blog-posts about teaching.

Show Don't Tell
This is one of my favorite favorite favorite lessons!  Wish it was my idea though.  I read about it on Miss Radka's Rhapsody's blog.  It was such a fun lesson, the kids loved it, and we referred back to it all year long.

Persuasive Writing
Then there was the time I used my dead dog to teach.  Um, yea.  I've always felt like kids get really into persuasive writing if they feel strongly about the topic.  When my husband's cranky old lady dog died, our other dog needed a buddy.  I did not do this until my husband was actually ready for another dog.  I'm not that bad of a wife.
Expository Writing
My students were a little overwhelmed by the idea of expository writing.  Even the name is a little scary.  So, they planned their first essay as groups of three, and then each wrote a piece.  It did not make for a pretty final product, but it helped them dip their toes in the water and get their first essay behind them.  Again, not my idea.  This one was stolen from my sister who teaches ninth grade English.  Some ideas are just good ideas not matter what the grade.
The Longest Writing Unit Ever
I'm pretty sure anyone who was reading my blog at the time was ready for this unit to be over, but I loved it!  You can read about it here, here, and here.  I would have written more, but I felt sorry for everybody.




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