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November 16, 2014

The Warm Up Conundrum


Sounds like an epidsode of The Big Bang Theory, doesn't it?  Unfortunately, I'm not nearly as funny as Sheldon and the gang.
Anyway, warmups.  The fact is, there are lots of great warmups out there.  In fact, you could spend all day on warmups.  Doing the warm up, peer checking the warmup, reviewing the warmup, grading the warmup.  You could warmup All. Day. Long.  But then, nobody would ever learn anything.
But.

There are grammar warm ups, reading warm ups, vocabulary warmups, fluency warmups, phonics warmups, social studies warmups, math warmups, math fact warmups, science warmups.  I think
Evan Moore has a daily review for every single thing you could think of:
Sweet mercy, please don't do all of these to your students.

This really hit me, when I moved to 4th grade and was compartmentalized.  I had 2 hours to teach reading, writing, grammar, and spelling and work in some independent reading time and learning stations.  Every minute counted.

I couldn't wrap my head around it until I ignored minutes and started thinking about percentages.  What percentage of my time should be dedicated to reading? Writing? Independent reading? Word study? It was a break through moment for me.  It also made me realize I had very little time to dedicate to warming up.

Now that I'm working with small groups, I'm limited to a 30 minute time slot (it's really about 25 minutes because getting all of my friends collected is like herding cats sometimes.  And sometimes little people really, really, really need to tell you about the tooth they just lost.)  I can't spend half of it warming up.  Their teachers let them away from precious instructional minutes, so I need every minute to count.

I found out about this FREE resource by Whole Brain Teaching from Amanda at Teaching Maddeness.  There are two levels, Super Speed 100 and Super Speed 1000.  I love them.  It takes us about 2 1/2 minutes for fluency practice that focuses on the most common words.
Then, we work on a very fast Phonics review.  We practice a phonics skill for about 1 minute.  Next, I have them apply it by spelling nonsense words.  Let's be honest, if you show 2nd graders and up a picture of a cat and have them circle the correct spelling "cat" or "cut", they can get it right.  They have seen that word a million times, but they still probably don't know the short a sound.  Nonsense words force them to think about sounds.

After that, it's on to our guided reading group.  We reread something from the previous day to practice reading fluently.  This is quickly and with whisper phones.

Every elementary teacher on the planet needs whisper phones.
I was lucky enough to get mine from Lakeshore during a sale for $1.99 each.  Since every group uses them, I wipe them down with Clorox wipes between uses.  Because ewwww.

Then, it's off to the races and we're learning, learning, learning.

Don't want to let go of your warmups?  Don't.  Just consider rotating through them monthly or quarterly.  It's not that warmups aren't valuable (they certainly are!), the reality is there's just never enough time in the day.   As my groups have finished Super Speed 1000, we're moving on to Jennifer Jones picture of the day inferencing lessons (GREAT post here from her on that).  We'll do that for awhile and move on to something else.

Got any great warm up tips to share?

November 10, 2014

Five on the Fifth {and a few}

Hey hey!  I've had this post planned for several days, but it's turned into 5 on the 5th + 5 days.
Here's a little truth.  The juggle is hard.  The momma, wife, teacher, blogger, TPTer, blog designer juggle is no joke.  But let's be honest, the first two jobs are the most important. So, sometimes the blog gets schlepped to the side.  But, I'm back on track with five fabulous posts from five fabulous bloggers. Want more Five on the Fifth?  Check out the Pinterest board to see previous posts.
Another truth for you: I'm a bit of a Jivey stalker.  I can feel a new hashtag coming on, #jivestalking.  This post popped up at a great time.  I'd uttered the words, "Let's underline what's most important," to one of my small groups, and a friend underlined EVERY. SINGLE. WORD.  Jivey can help you with that.

I loooooooooooove math games.  All the math games.  Best teacher thing about math games?  Friends can't lean over to peek at a neighbor because it just won't help.  They have to resort to thinking.  Molly from Lucky to be in First has a great post on some math games for the younger crowd.

Got just one iPad in your room?  After that SQUEAL! iPad moment, did you wonder what in the heck you were going to do with one iPad and 20+ kids?  Jamie from Second Grade Stuff has a great post on using one iPad in the classroom.

I got a chance to meet Amber from Peppy Zesty Teacherista at the Dallas blogger meet up, and she is all kinds of fun.  I love this human number line she wrote about.

I am LOVING Jessica's newspaper station.  Hop on over to her blog, The Teacher Talk, to find out how she set it up and all the details of this great idea.

Hope your October was rockin' and your November is even better!


November 4, 2014

October Favorites

Hey hey! November is here, so it's time for me to share some of last month's favorites with you.
This sweatshirt from Loft is a dream.  Mainly because it looks waaaaay too nice to be a sweatshirt, and people will say things like, "Wow! I love your beautiful sweater."  And you will be all, "Oh thank you!" But inside you'll be laughing because it's a sweatshirt, and you are winning.
p.s.  That is a true story.

Good grief.  This show is awesome.  My brother-in-law told me about it.  Season 1 was on Netflix, and I like to have something playing while I watch Netflix, so why not?  I gave it a try not expecting much, and ended up flying through season 1 and the few episodes of this season, so no I have to watch weekly like a regular person.  Boo.
I don't think it will surprise anyone that I'm obsessed with another pair of Tieks.  But oh my soft leather goodness, the color of my new merlot Tieks is perfection.  I love them.  I may have pet them for a little while when they first came in.
Oh lunch.  We can be friends again.  This is a local company that delivers lunches to businesses.  Each lunch is under 500 calories, but she also has a "comfort food" menu for when you're looking to fall off the wagon.  You just have to order by 5:00 the day before, and your lunch shows up the next day with everything you need to enjoy it.

I am in love with this song right now.  My dad, older daughter, and I got to go to a Francesca Battistelli concert recently, and she sang this song.  Girl mom's-your daughters' need this song.  It's fun to blast in the car and sing along with, and it has an amazing message.


In case you were here looking for teacher stuff, I did post something educational yesterday at Owl-Ways Be Inspired.
Happy November!

November 1, 2014

Thanksgiving Freebie

It is a November miracle here in Houston.  It's 50 degrees outside, and that puts me in the Fall decorating mood.  Hard to muster that feeling when you're pushing 90 degrees, but this morning has {shockingly} crisp fall feeling.  Here's a little Thanksgiving set of printables for you:
The second graphic is an editable PowerPoint file, so you can change the last line of text.  You will need to download this free font.

I printed mine on heavy textured cream card stock from Hobby Lobby.  Pop them in frames, and you're good to go.  You have now decorated for Thanksgiving.

It's also a new month which means it's time for another Currently!  This fun linky is from Farley at Oh Boy Fourth Grade.  Hop on over to her blog to read what everyone else is up to.

Listening: How am I just now watching The Blacklist?  I zoomed through the first season on Netflix while working on blog designs.  Such a good show! But now I'm almost caught up and will have to watch like a normal person.

Loving: It was 50 degrees when I woke up this morning.  I live in Houston.  This is the equivalent of a white Christmas for everyone else.  It won't last, but I loved it!

Thinking: I'm headed to New Orleans later this month to meet up with friends from home and go to a Saints game.  CAN. NOT. WAIT.

Wanting: I need more date nights with my husband.  We went to dinner recently on a Thursday night.  Wild and crazy, right?  It was really nice.  The fancy pants business man and I need to squeeze more time in together when and where we can.  {p.s. He really hates when I call him that.  This, of course,  only encourages me to do it more.}

Needing: I try to get all of my Christmas shopping done before Thanksgiving.  I'm not usually that on the ball with things {ever}, but December is crazy.  Trust me, if you do this, it will change your life.  December will just be insane instead of please kill me now, how will I get all of this done in time misery.  Also, I tell my kids they have to get their letter to Santa by November 1st or all the good stuff will be gone.

Reading: My fourth grader is reading the Harry Potter series, so I'm rereading it too.  We're watching the movie together after she finishes the book.  Loving this time with her!

Happy November!

October 18, 2014

Glitter Giveaway

Hey everybody!  I have a glitter giveaway for you tonight to celebrate the fact that I survived this week.  Good grief.  You know that awesome feeling when you go away for the weekend?  And then you come home.
And the laundry isn't done.
And you haven't been to the grocery store.
And your husband goes out of town.
And you have a slumber party for eight 7th graders to plan.
Oh yeah-and teach.

But we survived! And I even got a chance to play with glitter. Digital glitter is way more fun to play with than real life glitter.  These Halloween, Fall, and Christmas glitter mini sets are in my store.  You can also buy them together as a bundle.
    
This is a fast giveaway for all three sets.  I'll choose three winners Wednesday morning.  Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

October 8, 2014

Why I Buy on TPT

Ever see something on Teachers Pay Teachers and think, "I could make that."  It's true, you probably could make some of the great products on Teachers Pay Teachers yourself.
But you know what?  This past weekend, I watched the first Harry Potter movie with my family.  My younger daughter had just finished the first book and almost came out of her skin with excitement to see this book come to life in front of her.  2 1/2 hours.
I took my girls jeans shopping.  Felt like 10 hours, but more like 3 hours.

I watched my niece, so my sister could get something done without a baby attached to her.  Four hours.
That was a lot of time I had this weekend to enjoy my family.  I could have let the girls watch the movie with my husband.  I could have begged my mom to take the girls jean shopping.  I could have skipped offering to babysit my niece.  I could have made all the resources I need for the next week instead.

I'm not saying I never make things for the classroom.  I do enjoy making resources for my students to use, but I also enjoy not having to.  I love this product from Jodi Southard from Fun in First.
This product will be a huge chunk of my October plans for my second grade groups.  I just bought a ton of time for $8.55.  Time to do things like sip coffee and sit on my butt and read blogs.

Here's one that probably would have taken me 20+ hours to make.  Which means it never would have happened, and my students would have missed out on this great site word practice from Miss DeCarbo.
And this one from the amazing Jen Jones.  It's got over 400 pages, and I'll use it all year long, every single week with my 3rd and 4th grade friends.  No matter what text I'm reading, there's something in here to support it.
If you follow me on Instagram, you know my students flipped out over this main idea and supporting details activity.  
Except their teachers probably hate me because we did the hashtag part at the end right before I sent them back to class.  They were hashtagging everything.  "Hashtag that was awesome" "Hashtag see you later" "Hashtag bye".  

These purchases add up.  I know teachers aren't making football money.  In some states, you aren't even making garbage truck driver money.  Spend wisely.  Start by buying products that you can use all month or year long.  They cost more, but you get more bang for your buck.  Wishlist items you like and buy during sales.  If you follow stores, you'll get a notice.  And if there's a site wide sale, your social media and Bloglovin' accounts will be blowing up, so no chance of missing those. ; )

What do you buy on TPT?  Any great products I'm missing?

October 5, 2014

Five on the Fifth

Hey y'all! It's October 5th, which means it's time for Five on the Fifth again.  
There are so many great blogs out there, and let's be honest, September is a bit of a blur for teachers.  Here are five great posts that you might have missed in that back to school haze.  There's even a Five on the Fifth Pinterest board if you want to see more great ideas.
First up is the first in a series from Teaching Maddeness called Maximizing the Minutes.  Amanda shares how she very quickly reviews high frequency words and reviews skills in a fast warm up.  Every minutes counts and this series will help you do just that!
Melissa from Inspire Me, ASAP! has a great fact and opinion lesson (that would also be great for inferencing!)  She practiced with this photo, and then connected the lesson to a mentor text.  Hop on over to read just how she did this.
I love how Ashleigh from Ashleigh's Education Journey got her kids working on multiplication word problems.  Engaging, higher level thinking, and low prep.  Everything you want for a great lesson!

Holy smokes this is a good blog post.  Cara from The First Grade Parade dives down deep into the guts of small group instruction.  It's a loooong post and worth every minute  you'll spend reading it.
One more reading lesson for you! This time for the upper elementary crowd.  Jen from Hello Mrs. Sykes shares some great tips for supporting struggling readers.

Bonus! Rachel from The Tattooed Teacher shared this super cute freebie at Owl-Ways be Inspired.  Hope you have a fang-tastic day today!



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