Pages

April 6, 2015

March Favorites

Hey! Hey! I've been so happy March finally arrived.  I am not a winter gal.  I can't take the cold.  Did I mention I live in Houston?  I'm that much of a winter wimp.
There are few things I've been loving this past month:

These Shoreline Converse.
I was very skeptical when a friend swore up and down that these were comfortable.  I had visions of bloody heels and me limping through the hallway at school cursing her.  But they were cute, and we were in Nordstrom, and I am weak.  And I loooooove them.  This picture looks like they're super pulled in but they must have had a box on top of this particular shoe for a week.  They have a tiny bit of elastic in the back, so they give instead of cutting into the back of your heels.
This hot wings recipe from Lexi's Clean Kitchen.
I am like a freaking super hero in my house with this recipe.  AND it's clean.  Whole30 compliant here.  No additives, junk, sugar, preservatives, etc, etc in this recipes.  You're welcome.  So when you family gorges and over eats these things, it will still be healthy.
The Hill Country Hyatt.  My husband had to go to a work thingy in San Antonio, and I tagged along.  He worked.  I relaxed and supported the local economy because I am a good person.  This hotel is beautiful and relaxing and just stinking charming.
If you follow me on Instagram, I spammed you with pictures of it.
I got an iPhone 6 Plus.  Yep.  I did it.  I got the mega iPhone.
And I have zero point zero regrets about this.  Why didn't I do this sooner?  Plus I got a super snazzy case for as you can see in my World Market iPhone selfie.
My Kikki K planner.
I'll be writing a whole planner tour post and share how this planner is saving my life right now.  Roll your eyes non planner people.  My planner people plans will be drooling over this beauty.

Hope you had a great March! So glad April and warmer temperatures are finally here!

March 29, 2015

TouchTronic: Seriously. You Need These

**Warning**This will be a gushing post.  There will be lots of swooning and omg-ing and can you believe it-ing.  It is more of a product freak out then a product review.  Because I'm that in love.

I had the opportunity to visit EDExpo in Atlanta on February 22, and it was amazing.  It's basically where companies come to get in contact with store buyers, but they allowed some bloggers to come crash their party.  Pretty nice, huh?  I got to wander around with Dana from Prepping the Primary Grid Iron, Deirdre from A Burst of First, and Molly from Lucky to be in First.  We met Pete the Cat.  It's a hard life.
There were some cool things, some odd things, but this thing completely stopped up in our tracks.  I recently had a conversation with our tech gal where we talked about using technology in the classroom authentically and not just for the sake of using iPads because they're cool.  This app/product combo is all that and more.

This is not a paid review, but I will say that I was given this set of TouchTronic letters.
I honestly think that we were freaking out so much about how awesome this product is that we made the guy uncomfortable, and he possibly gave us these one the premise that maybe we would go away, and he wouldn’t have to call security.  It was that inappropriate.

So anyway, TouchTronic Letters and Numbers.  They are sets of letters and numbers that you can use with an iPad.  Right now, they're are two apps for each product, but it seems there are plans for more.

The letters set (the one I was given during our group freakout) is $29.99 and has two apps for it right now-an ABC app and 3 letter words app.

The ABC App:

The 3 Letter Words App:
My first grade friends LOVED this app.  I like it because it is something you would have your kids do anyway but with bonuses:

•Immediate feedback.  If it’s not a real word, nothing happens.  If it is a real word, a picture pops up.

•When you tap the letter on the screen, it makes the letter sound.  This is reinforcement my kids need over and over.

The mat in the picture from the show is supposed to become available as a product also in the next few months or so.
I think it would definitely be helpful so that the letters don't become a jumbled mess.  Also, just setting up the letters in a learning station would help kids with alphabetical order.

The math set blew me away.  I really, really want this one.  That’s pretty dumb because I DON'T EVEN TEACH MATH.  I keep trying to come up with reasons I should go ahead and buy it.  So far, I haven't come up with any.
This is using the Place Value App.  All I did was use a number and tap it on the place value section, and it "built" it.  What I love is that you can use the plus or minus sign with this also to see how the number changes depending on the place.  So, if I tapped the 7 with the plus sign, it would change to 800.
There are addition, subtraction, greater than/less than resources on the apps, too.  The apps are free and the numbers set is $19.99.  There is a class set available too.  I'd love to see a set of 6 available because that would be great for learning stations or small groups.

Got to have these?  You can order them here.  Use coupon code TRONIC until April 30th for a 20% off discount on any product.

March 14, 2015

Three Ways to Look at Messy Handwriting

Oh handwriting.

I’m kind of a handwriting fanatic.  A friend of mine once said that good manners and good handwriting will get you halfway through life.  The other half is hard work.  What’s so hard about neat handwriting?


Handwriting has gotten shoved to the side in the last 5-10 years.  There’s no time for it now that we have to start test prep in first grade.  Handwriting does matter though-whether it’s because you simply can’t read your students work, or there’s something deeper going on.

Bad Habits

Easily half of the students I work with simply have some really bad habits.  Either their grip is terrible or their letter formation is incorrect.

Why does it matter though?  First, writing is a means of communication.  If you can’t write legibly, you can’t communicate.  Second, when I taught fourth grade language arts we did a ton of writing.  Many of my students held their pencils incorrectly, so their hands got tired well before the work was done.  They hated writing because after awhile it hurt.


It’s easy to make the leap that since there’s so little time to teach handwriting, kids’ poor handwriting is a result of this.  And most of the time that’s true, but sometimes there’s more going on.


Fine Motor Skills

But maybe some of those kids don’t have bad habits, they actually have fine motor issues.  I have used Stetro grips for a long time, and I loved them.  However, I worked with a few kids this year who honestly could not get their fingers to work with them.  That’s why I’m loving these Grotto Grips.  They were designed by an occupational therapist.  They don’t just help kids hold their pencils correctly, they help build hand strength, too.
Here’s a glowing review: One of my students (about 12 seconds before I was going to share these new grips with the group) made a comment about how much she hated pencil grips and that using them was torture (her exact word).  You can imagine how excited she was to see my new grips.  By the end of the group, she was begging to take the grip back to class with her.  These kiddos are asking me where they can buy them.

Vision Issues

No, we’re not talking about Little Sally needing reading glasses.  This is a whole new area of learning for me.  Honestly, as a reading specialist, I’m kind of mad that this never really came up in my 60 hours of graduate courses.  Instead, I learned about it as a mom.

My younger daughter has messy handwriting.  No matter how much I worked with her, made her rewrite, or what grip I found, her handwriting was still messy.  She was also making a lot of careless errors in math.  Flipping the places of numbers when recording her answer, leaving out steps, etc.  She is a now a very strong reader but had gotten of to a slow start.

This teacher momma was beside herself.  My own child couldn’t be bothered to write neatly or check her math work carefully.

Finally, one of her teachers (and now our hero) talked to me about seeing a vision specialist.  Turns out her eye muscles aren’t balanced and don’t converge correctly (come together when focused on text).

Why this matters:

Reading-Her eyes weren’t sweeping across the page together.  There was a lot of backing up and rereading for both eyes to catch up together.  While she’s smart enough to compensate for it, it can definitely interfere with comprehension and most certainly fluency.  For kids with very jumpy vision, you might see kids that never “read" punctuation because they’re eyes aren’t catching it.

Handwriting-Your eyes, brain, and hand are working together.  When these aren’t working together smoothly, handwriting doesn’t flow smoothly either.

Math-When the problems have so much text and so many steps work on, pieces get lost visually.  When your eyes are sweeping across the numbers correctly, the numbers don’t get seen correctly.

Among other tests, the doctor took used a special set of goggles that tracked her eyes as she read.
It was fascinating to watch the screen to see what was happening with her eyes.  Imagine a heart monitor, but the lines represented the movement of her eyes.  None of her yearly eye checks had caught this.  It was such a relief to find out what was going on with this girlie who is so smart but didn’t always look it on paper.

What can you do?  I certainly can’t justify pulling kids from their classroom to work on handwriting, but I do work it in wherever I can.  When were working on phonics skills in isolation, I can work with a kiddo on letter formation.  If we have two minutes left at the end of a group, we might grab some dry erase markers and practice them on the table.  It’s important to see if things can get a little better.  If their not, maybe there’s something bigger going on.

And now it’s spring break for me, so I’m off to spend some quality time with a few projects I pinned on Pinterest!

March 2, 2015

EDexpo 2015 Top 10 and I Geek Out

Hey hey everybody! I had the UH-MAZING opportunity last month to attend EDexpo 2015 in Atlanta.  I wasn’t even sure what it exactly was.  I knew it was an expo that retailers would attend to meet with vendors.  When offered the chance to go, I said yes because:

1.  I’m nosy as heck, and I wanted to know what it would be like.

2.  I would get to meet up with some ladies that I love like these three gals.  Bonus? Peter the Cat was there.  We were a little star struck.
Dana from Prepping the Primary Grid Iron, Deirdre from A Burst of First, PETE THE CAT!!!!, Molly from Lucky to be in First, and me.  Not sure what’s up with my neck angle.  I might need to see a chiropractor if I look like this in real life.

I wasn’t sure what to expect.  I was worried I wouldn’t like 10 things.  Um, yeah.  Not a problem.  At the end of the day, after seeing a ton of amazing products, we each turned in our Top 10 lists.  Those list were compiled to make THE Top 10 list.

Check out these pictures below.  Many of these products are only available through retailers, so you’ll want to check out your teacher supply store.  Click here for a list of retailers from EDexpo.
So, back to the I might not like 10 things.  That didn’t happen.  It was actually pretty amazing because it is usually frowned upon to open packages in stores and start playing with the products.  This was great because the products were out on display, you could really see what was included, how you would use them, and talk to the company selling them.

Here are some of the products that I completely geeked out over:

Right before attending this, I had a conversation with our tech gal about all the “educational" iPad apps that are out there just for the sake of existing.  This product is amazing and what education apps should be.  I’m not going to say much more because I have a whole post half written on how amazing these are.  

We got to meet the amazing creator of this company.  To say we lost our minds would be an understatement.  He gave us each a set of Touchtronic letters.  It may have been because we frightened him, and he wanted us to go away.  We were that enthusiastic.

Here we are with Art.
We liked this so much we went back and took a picture with the very nice sales rep.  Again, not going to say too much about this because I have a post coming on it also, but let’s just say goodbye to those stupid binding combs that are a nightmare, okay?  Heat binding is your new friend.

Fadeless paper in patterns???? I may be willing to give up fabric on my bulletin board for this.

Creative Teaching Press had some beauuuuutiful things.  Okay.  Not some.  A million beautiful things.

Eureka has the CUTEST photo booth sets.


TimeTimer for life.  These things are awesome.  Kids have no concept of time, but they can see red fading away.  Also, it keeps me on track for reading groups.

Mavalous Tape
Yep, tape.  
About 10 years ago we had “Tapegate” at my old school.  We had just built a beautiful new building and a mandate came out that we couldn’t put anything on the walls because it would mess up the paint.

ARE YOU KIDDING ME?

It was a real thing.  Thankfully, this product came to the rescue.  It doesn’t mess up the walls.  Bonus?  It peels nicely off the paper, so you don’t destroy the kids work, and you can reuse it a time or two.

Okay.  Whew! These are just some of the amazing things I saw at EDexpo.  It was such an awesome experience to get up close and personal with all these products and they companies that sell them.  I could kick myself for not getting a selfie with Pete the Cat, though!

February 24, 2015

New Mini Sets, a Sale, and a Freebie

Hi there everyone! I’m back from visiting EDExpo in Atlanta.  I can’t wait to tell you all about it.  But first, I wanted to share a few new sets with you and a little freebie.

I love the colors of this first set.  It’s a St. Patrick’s Day set without the leprechaun green overload.  Not that I don’t love me some green, but sometimes you need something a little more subtle.  This set is a Shop for Shriners set, so all of the proceeds are donated to Shriners Hospital in Philadelphia where my daughter had surgery last summer.  We are so LUCKY to have Shriners in our life.

I loved the colors so much, I wanted to keep playing with them.  Here’s a little freebie for you to download:

I also added these two mini sets to my store:


And, of course, I’ll be participating in the TPT site wide sale! My store will be on sale for two days.  Use TPT code HEROES for an additional 10% off.



Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...