A Freebie and a Good Cause

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!

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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:

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!

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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.

Four of my all time favorite writing lessons for third and fourth grade!

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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Meet the Teacher!

Hey y'all! I'm jumping on board with my friend Stephanie from Falling Into First with this fun Meet the Teacher linky.

These are a few of my favorite things . . . .
Alex and Ani, Tieks, Cold Justice  If you follow me on Instagram, you'll see my obsession.  In fact, Instagram should probably be on my favorites list right now.  I love it.  Here are some recent pictures:

If you weren't a teacher, what would you be?
Blog designer.  Heehee.  Seriously,  I have the best life.  I get to do my two favorite jobs.

Three little words that describe you.
Organized, funny, reader

My happy place:
Organization makes me happy.  Between working, kids, and everything else in our lives, it can get overwhelming.  Organization makes me feel like I have a tiny bit of control over the chaos in our lives.  I love to read.  Between blog designs and reading, I'm up way too late at night.

Finish this sentence, "________________, said no teacher EVER!"
Well inputting all that online documentation that no one is ever going to look at was a great use of my time!  Bleh.

It's your birthday and you can invite anyone {dead or alive} to the party.  Who are you inviting?
This is a big commitment.  I not sure I can even answer this.  Cool popstar?  Historical figure? Inspring leader? How about my girls when they were about 2 months old.  I could use some good baby snuggles.  That would make for an awesome birthday.

If someone wrote a book about your life, what would be the title?
Seriously, Can You Get Your Act Together?
I feel like our life is a whirlwind sometimes.  I'm usually trying to juggle twenty things at once.  Except I don't know how to juggle.  That's pretty much how things go around here.

You get to pick on super power. What is it?
I would have super cleaning powers.  NOTHING (outside of my family and cute pictures of puppies and kittens) makes me feel as warm inside as a clean house.

What's your favorite quote or saying?
"Let what you love be what you do."  How awesome is life lived that way?
If you HAD to sing one song on American Idol, what would it be?
Is there a song that's three seconds long?  Because that's how long it would take for them to start begging me to stop.  This girl couldn't carry a tune in a bucket.  If I had to pick one, it would probably be a cheesy 80's song.  Maybe some Dolly Parton.  She's pretty awesome.

Are you a morning person or a night owl?
Night owl for sure.  It's 11:45, and I'm taking a break to write this post.

What's your favorite resource that you've created in your TPT shop?
I worked really hard on this set, and I pretty much completely love it.

Share something we might not know about you!
I was a child bride.  My husband HATES when I say that.  It's not really true, but looking back I feel that way.  I turned 22, graduated 4 days later, and then got married 8 days after that.  We were so young! Fifteen years later, I'm still glad I married that man!  Even though he forced me to move out of state against my will.  Which I still point out once a month even though it was five years ago, and we have a totally awesome life now.  Poor guy.

Congrats to you if you made it to the end of this post! Now it's time to go meet up with everyone else over at Falling Into First!

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Work Horse Products to Get You Through the Year

Yesterday I shared some awesome bundles with you.  Today I want to share some work horse products.  You know-those resources that you can use over and over all year long.

This is one of my favorite things to use.  When your reluctant writer boys ask for it, you know you a major achievement on your hands.  Posters are great, but let's be real.  The kids that don't want to do it are certainly not going to get up, go across the room, and look for information.  Let's remember, there are students that are going to ask you what the date is when it's written on the board.
That's why I love these revising and editing posters and mini-posters.  You can keep this information at your kids' finger tips.

Upper elementary has been getting a lot of interactive notebook love.  Here's an incredible interactive notebook for 2nd and 3rd grade from I'm Lovin' Lit.  This isn't just a pack of templates.  This set includes a detailed information on how to use these is included.  And did I mention they're editable?

Bring on the graphic organizers.  You can never have enough.  Here are two sets from Teaching in High Heels and Jamie from Second Grade Stuff that I love:
 Writing + Patricia Polacco.  This set from Teacher's Clubhouse would make great anchor lessons to refer to all year long.
Everybody is talking about close reading.  But what the heck is it and how do I use it in my classroom?  If you've just gotten back from a vague, PowerPoint inservice about using close reading, here's a resource from Inspire Me ASAP that your district really should have spent their money on:

This bundle from The Tattooed Teacher is technically units, but let's be honest.  These aren't ideas that you can cover for a week.  These are the types of strategies that you need to keep going back to alllllllll year long.

Now that your kids are learning so much, it's time to refresh their brains with these awesome brain breaks from 3rd Grade Thoughts.
Whew! That's a lot! What are your favorite workhorse products?

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Products to Get You Through the Year

I have a question for you: Are you a bundle buyer?
Sometimes I am, but sometimes it's hard to bit the bullet and spend that much money.  I often buy things one at a time.  Then I kick myself later for not just buying the whole thing at one and saving some money.  You might have heard about a little sale coming up . . . .  It's the perfect time to stock up and save.  I wanted to share some bundles from my blogging friends that will take you through the year.

And holy smokes.  This first one is UH-MAZING.  I can't even.  I am constantly amazed by Jivey from Ideas by Jivey.  When I was first introduced to mentor sentences, I loved the idea but was a little stumped on how to implement it.  If you want to learn more about mentor sentences, hop on over to the Mastering Mentor Sentences on Ideas by Jivey's blog.  And then purchase this awesome bundle:

And then there's the dreaded spelling.  Spelling is getting swept under the rug lately, but it's such a high need area.  Denise from Sunny Days has an awesome Spelling and Word Study Solution bundle for you.  36 weeks of awesomeness right here.

What about 66 reading passages?  Do you think that would get you through the year?  Halle from Across the Hall in Second Grade has a wonderful bundle.  She's not even done with it yet.  So if you buy it now, you will get the future updates, too.

Alisha from The Bubbly Blonde has the ultimate monthly journal bundle.  Covers, tables of contents, accountability, multiple types of writing pages, it's pretty much all here.  Print it, copy it, staple it, and go.

Here's another awesome writing resource that focuses on types of writing through the year. Stephanie Stewart from Falling into First has this Common Core Galore Writing Through the Year Bundle.   Multiple types of writing for each month and multiple activities for each type.  Does that sentence even make sense?  Doesn't matter because this is an awesome bundle.

This last educational bundle is from Teacher by the Beach.  Jen has month by month literacy and math bundles for 1st and 2nd grades.  I am amazed by how detailed and in-depth these centers are.
And the very last bundle is from me.  I put together a mini set bundle that will get you through the whole year.  These 12 mini sets should take care of just about any need you have!

So start wish listing because this sale starts tomorrow, Aug. 4. And stop back by tomorrow for some work horse teaching products.


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