"Blessed are the teachers, for they open minds, touch hearts and share the future." Unknown

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

New Linky Party: Encouraging Reluctant Learners

Good Morning!
Yesterday, I started my first linky party.  I would love to gather a multitude of ideas for encouraging those reluctant learners we all have in our classrooms.  I know I will be working with some children who have struggled in school since K next year and I will need all of the tools I can find - especially since there is a good chance I will be working with them at a time during the day when they will want to be anywhere but in my room. I am looking for ideas to help me motivate them to want to come to my room and learn.  The link for the linky party is below in the post titled Sophie's Lesson.  Please share your ideas and suggestions or stories today.

Click Here to go to post:  Sophie's Lesson and Encouraging Reluctant Learners

Monday, July 23, 2012

Newbie Blog Hop = Award


A huge thank you to Jessica at Tales-of-a-First-Grade-Teacher for awarding my blog the Versatile Blogger award. 
Here are my 7 random facts:
1. I played the trombone in marching band, the mellophone in a drum corps, and the flute as part of a community chorus.
2. I hate, hate, hate for anyone to touch my feet.
3 I amuse myself...sometimes I laugh at my jokes more than anyone else.
4. I was kicked out of the day care facility at a bowling alley when I was 3 years old because I kept hitting the other children who would not be students in my pretend school.
(I have learned a little more self-control since then - LOL)
5. I've traced my ancestry on Ancestry.com back to the late 1600's in America and even earlier in England.
6. I am easily distracted and can totally relate to my little ones who struggle with focus. 
7. I am a kitchen disaster!  I've burned pans boiling water (yes, more than 1), baked cookies without flour (Boy, that butter, chocolate and egg sure made a mess in the oven!), and one time, I even baked a frozen pie in the oven UPSIDE DOWN! (Again...mess in the oven.)
Versatile Blogger Award:

1. Thank the blogger who nominated you. (check)

2. Include a link to their site. (check)

3. Include the award image in your post. (check)

4. Give 7 random facts about yourself. (check)

5. Nominate 5-10 other bloggers, include their link, and let them know. (check)

Here are my nominations...

1. Mrs. Jones' Junction                                   2. Hoppin in First Grade

3. Little Miss Whimsical                               4. Mrs. Rhoads' Classroom

5. First Grade With a Cherry On Top           6. Pencils and Polka Dots

7. Keeping It Core                                        8. Cindy's Curriculum Corner

9. Primary Reading Party                            10. Darling Little Learners

Sophie's Lesson and Engaging Reluctant Learners Linky Party

This is Sophie, my sister and brother-in-law's 1 year old rescue dog.  They found her abandoned when she was @3 weeks old and gave her a forever home.  Sophie loves to play!  Anywhere!  Anytime!  She has all of the energy you would expect from a young dog.  One of her favorite places to be is in the pool.  However, just like young children, she thinks she can do a lot more that she is able to do.  She gets tired swimming and then may struggle to keep her head above water. Friday night, my sister and I were shopping at BJ's and came across life vests for dogs.  So, my sister bought one to see if it would help Sophie be in the pool safely.   On Saturday, we decided to spend the day in the backyard laying out in the sun and floating in the pool.  Of course, Sophie was included.  They put her vest on and put her in the pool.  She loved it...as long as someone was holding her.  My brother-in-law wanted to see how she swam with it on, so he grabbed the strap along the back of the vest, lifted her away from himself, and put her in the water.  She swam right over to my sister and tried to climb up on her raft. 

Watching all of this made me think of the students I have worked with over the years who,
for whatever reason, are not motivated to learn.  They would rather be just about anywhere else.  They do not yet grasp how critical education is to their future. Many of these children struggle with academic skills and feel defeated, or believe they are too dumb to learn.  Others may come from families that either do not or cannot provide support, encouragement, and accountability. So, how do we reach these students?  I wish their little brains had life vests with handles on the back that I could just grab hold, lift up, and put into a learning activity ( just like my brother-in-law lifted Sophie and put her down in a situation she was unsure about at first).  Imagine how far these little ones would go if we could get them to become  authentically engaged in learning!  
For some of us, school begins in just a few weeks.  Once again, we will be given an amazing group of little ones.  Most of them will be eager to be back at school, confident in themselves and their abilities.  There will be a few in our classes though, who dread the first day of school - believing it is the start of another year of frustration and trouble. 
How do you reach these learners? 
Here are two ways I've used that have had some success.
1. My Choice...Your Choice - Create a chart for each day that lists the assignments and tasks a child must complete that day on one side and a list of activities the child prefers to do on the other side.  For each task completed from My Choice, the child may choose an activity from the Your Choice side.  (I've created an example and posted it below.)

2. Make a Learning Contract with the child.  In the contract, clearly state what the child's responsibilities are along with your responsibilities as his/her teacher.  Then, mutually decide what they child will earn when he/she completes the Learning Contract.  You can do these daily, weekly, etc.

Please link up and share your ideas for engaging ALL students, especially the reluctant ones.  

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Word Sorts

I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE word sorts.  They are an amazing tool to get students thinking and talking about words.  Sorts can be used individually, but I have found that they are most effective when used by teams of 2-4.  I also use them frequently in small group instruction.  I have just created a new word sort that will reinforce categorizing vocabulary and a picture sort that focuses on short vowel sounds.  Please check both of these out in my TPT or TN stores.

Happy Blogging!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Let's Get "CENTERED" Part 1

I strongly believe that the more small group instruction the better in primary grades.  Feedback is a necessity and the best way to provide it immediately and consistently is when you can focus on a few students vs. an entire class.  For the last four years, I have taught Intensive Reading.  The majority of our days were spent working in different types of small groups.  One of those sessions was our Literacy Stations.  I love to share ideas with other teachers and thought that Literacy Stations (or centers) was a good place to start.  So, for the next several weeks, I will be posting a segment of my first series, Let's Get "Centered".  This week, I am posting an overview where I have tried to explain how I set up groups and activities, along with how I start each year.  I've read over it and it makes perfect sense to me, but if anyone has any questions, please, please ask.  I find this such an effective method of instruction and would love if someone else would benefit from using something similar in their classroom. 

I do want to add a disclaimer.  I have been to numerous trainings and read lots of books, articles, etc on centers.  I have never found one method that works 100% for me, so over the years, I have "borrowed" ideas from lots of different sources and then adjusted them to work for me.  So, I am not claiming original authorship of most of the ideas.  Some of the activities I have created and some have been inspired by the ideas of others.

This is the first direct download I have done.  If you are unable to open the document, please let me know so that I can fix it.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Giveaway Winner....and an Award

Congratulations to Dierdre...the winner of the Giveaway.  I hope you enjoy all of the products.

Thank-you to Kelly at Kelly Teach for awarding me the Versatile Blogger award. 
Here are the rules for the award:

1. Thank the blogger who nominated you and include a link to their site.

2. Include the award image in your post.

3. Give seven random facts about yourself.

4. Nominate 15 other bloggers for the award and include a link to their site.

5. Let bloggers know they've been nominated.
Here are 7 Random Facts....
1. I love brussel sprouts.
2. I used to show dogs.
3. I have never been west of Alabama.
4. If I were not a teacher, I would love to be a pro football coach, a rock star, or a superhero.
5. I am very claustrophobic.
6. I love to laugh.
7. I wish I had the courage to ride roller coasters, jump out of airplanes, and swim with Shamu.

Here are the next 15 recipients...
1. Adventures in Second


2. Sliding Into First

3. First Class Teacher

4. Second Grade Sunshine

5. "I Peed a Little" and Other Adventures in First Grade

6. Fun in K/1

7. Teaching Little Apples

8. Cool Teach - Adventures In Teaching

9. Bedford, Love and Teaching

10. 3rd Grade Troops

11. Challenges Make Life Interesting

12. It's All Elementary

13.From My Mixed-Up Files

14. Ms. Pretzel's Super 2nd Graders

15. Projects and Polka Dots

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Newbie Blog Hop


Visit Grade Three is the Place for Me to join in the fun!
Like many of my fello newbies...I am amazed at the number of teachers blogging and sharing ideas.  I've learned so much in the last few weeks and can't wait for school to start so that I can start using some of it. So, here is my info
1. I teach in Cape Coral Fl.
2. My position in August will be a new one.  I will be the K-2 ESE co-teacher and K-5 RTI Tier 3 support.
3. I've spent the last 24 years teaching 1-3 in all sorts of combinations - multi-age, gen ed, co-taught classroom, ESOL cluster, and Intensive Reading.  I've loved all of them and am looking forward to a new experience in August.
4. I started my blog in the middle of June 2012.
5. My blogging tip is the same as Janis....turn off word verification. In fact, I posted about this just the other day.  Go to Dashboard.  Go to Settings (on the left below layout).  Next to Word Verification, click to drop down and check no.  Save settings.  Yeah...now bloggers will enjoy visiting and leaving comments.


My most amazing giveaway ever (OK, so it's also my only giveaway ever) ends tonight.  Please stop by and enter today.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

WALKING PUNCTUATION...and a Plan to Prove We Are NOT robots

Are you tired of having to prove that you are a human being every time you want to leave a comment? Want to prevent others from that feeling when they visit your blog?   Well, last night, I learned how to change the settings on my blog so that you do not have to type in any letters or numbers.  So, I'm going to share it and maybe we can make posting comments just a little bit easier.
1. Go to your dashboard.
2. Click on settings.
3. Click on posts and comments.
4. Scroll down to "Show Word Verification" and set it to NO.
5. Save the settings (don't forget this part, like I did three times!)
6. Voila...your blog is now comment-poster friendly.
                                               ***JUST SAY NO TO ROBOTS***

Now, on to the real reason for this post...

I am very excited to share this activity with you.  One of my colleagues, Kim Murphey, demonstrated this with her third grade class this year. I began using it with my second grade Intensive Reading class and they LOVED it.  It is called "Walking Punctuation" and it is a way to get kids moving and reading at the same time.  The directions and motions can be adapted to what works best for you.  The most important parts of this activity are the echo-read and the repeated reading being done audibly.( I did have to practice reading aloud in a quiet voice a few times...my little ones didn't always realize how loudly they were reading.) When the students are reading aloud, you are able to walk around and listen in to do quick checks.  I've created some posters that can be displayed around the room or put up on a document camera.  If you would like a copy, please visit my TPT store and download them for FREE.  I hope you fnd this useful.
Have a Terrific Tuesday!


Select a passage.

Provide each student with a copy.

First, Echo-Read passage with students.

Then, students stand up and walk around the room while reading the passage aloud.  When they come to a punctuation mark, they make the corresponding motion. Once a student finishes the passage, he\she sits down on the floor and rereads passage silently.


Period: stop walking, put feet together with a little “stomp”

Comma: rock forward on one foot and back on the other foot

Question Mark: stop walking and raise hand in the air (like you have a question)

Exclamation Mark: stop, then jump up and down

Monday, July 16, 2012

A Little "Liebster" Love...

Thanks to Laura over at T.I.P.S for another award! 

Here is how it works:

1. Copy and paste this award on your blog.
2. Thank the giver and link back to them.
3. Reveal 5 other bloggers and let them know by commenting on their blog.

So, I am showin' the love to the following blogs....

Marcie @ 2nd Grade Learning Safari

Kathy @  Kathy's Coordinated Class

Carolyn @ Third Grade Adventures

Brittany @ Closing the Gap...in a Cute Outfit!

Melissa @ More Time 2 Teach

MANIC MONDAY WANNA BE....Classroom Expectations Freebie

Good Morning!
Yes, I know it is after 2:00 pm, but when you don't get out of bed until noon, it still feels like morning. (Have I said how much I LOVE summers!).  Anyway, I am still new to blogging and I'm learning much more than  I ever thought possible.  Some of it is thanks t Laura at T.I.P.S. for her help in setting up my blog.  Some of it is thanks to the many posts out there with Blogging tips.  Most of it, though, has been trial and error (well, a LOT of errors).  One task that I can still not figure out is how to add some things to my posts.  For example, the Rafflecopter giveaway is in the bar above my posts.  No matter how many times I read, and reread, and reread the directions, it would not work.  Another task I haven't quite figured out is how to allow followers to download a pdf right from my blog.  As of now, I can only post pics and have you go to TPT to download.

One of the displays  put up on my walls are our classroom expectations. (I hate the word rules!)
Last year, my students and I worked together to determine what meeting a classroom expectation looked like and sounded like.  This year, I wanted to get even more specific, so I created "I" statements that I hope will sink in the those little brains sitting and staring at the walls there thinking and learning.  The first set is the one that I will be using.  I can't give this one away because I don't have the freebie license from Scrappin' Doodles, but as soon as I do, I will put it in my TPT store as well.  I then changed the graphics to match three different classroom theme : racing, sweet treats (ice cream) and stick kids and polka dots. I'm going to try to attach a link to the pictures that will take you directly to my store if you would like to download any of them.  If that doesn't work though, please click on the TPT button over to the right.

Have a Magnificent Monday!

PS - T-2 days 'til vacation!!  Wooooo Hoooooo

Sunday, July 15, 2012

My Apologies to Target....

(I know this is 2 posts in one day, but I couldn't wait to share. :) )
So, after posting about my rotten luck at Target I found myself wandering the dollar bin area one more time at a different store while waiting for my new glasses to be finished.  Imagine my shock when I found something I needed!  At the end of last year, I finally threw away my various supply containers, cups, baskets, etc that were cracked, broken, etc.  I knew I needed some new ones, but I didn't want something ordinary or premade.  I have become very inspired by Pinterest and the DIY projects I've seen on others' blogs and wanted to make something unique.  So, for about 12.00 I have brand new supply containers that make me happy when I look at them. (That's how I know I like something..it makes me smile).  So, here's a photo of my first DIY for my classroom. The finished product actually inspired my classroom theme for next year!

While I was perusing the dollar bins....I found this sign.  Side one is what a teacher says.  Side two is what our students hear. (Not sure why it is sideways.  It isn't in my files.)   LOL

Finally...I'd like to introduce everyone to my assistant, Isabel.   I guess after waiting several hours for me to get off the computer and pay attention to her, she decided to join in the fun.

Happy Blogging!


Peace...Love....P.R.I.D.E. A GROOVY Classroom Theme

 At the end of the school year, I thought our school would not have a specified theme.  So, I started looking for some inspiration to come up with something I hadn't used before.  I came up with P.O.P. S.T.A.R.s (Purposeful, Organized, Prepared, Students , Thinking and Acting Responsibly) which I posted about last month.  Then, this week, I opened an email from school.  Apparently, I had not been a very good listener (BIG surprise there!).  While we don't have a topical theme (like jungles, or racing, etc.), we DO have a motto. After several failed attempts to integrate what I had come up with and what the school was using, I knew I had to scrap my original idea.  So, here is my REAL theme for next year. 


Our school's motto this year is PRIDE - Prepared to Learn, Respect, Integrity, Determination, Enthusiasm. I am a child of the 60's.  So, I put them together and voila!   I am excited about how it all came together.  I am going to be working with a wide range of ages this year, and I think the bright colors will appeal to all ages. Since I'm still not sure how much I'll be working in my room vs. going into other classrooms, I didn't create a lot of the normal back to school items.  Instead, I've created forms and displays that I know I will use.  Now, I am ready for vacation (T-3 days and counting.)

I've joined the Classroom Themes Linky party over at Surfing Through Second.  Click on the blog name to head over and check out lots of great ideas.

Happy Blogging!

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Classroom Management Using Techie Tools Pt. 2...AND Another Award

Earlier this week I posted about Class Dojo... a cool resource for tracking students' behaviors easily.  Today, I met with one of the teachers on our school's PBS team.  She shared a site that we are going to be using in the fall called Learing Earnings.  According to her, once you register on this FREE site, you are able to track points your students earn.  Students can then log in and "spend" their points on items you choose.  All you have to do is enter the points they have earned.  We were talking about ways to combine Class Dojo and Learning Earnings and decided that we could use the Class Dojo on a daily basis since it is more engaging and interactive for the kids.  It will also send individual email reports with just the click of a button to parents (as often as you want).  Then on Fridays (or whenever you want), just go into Learning Earnings and enter each student's points for the week.  After that, your students can log in and shop whenever you decide. 

Now for my newest award.  A BIG thank you to Heather over at The Busy, Busy Hive for passing along the Liebster award.  Like most people, positive recognition puts a smile on my face and makes me feel all "twinkly" inside...you know the feeling, right?  So, now I get to pass it on to 5 more blogs.  Ready..........................Wait for it..........................Wait for it.....................Here they come.....


Kristin at iTeach 1:1

Shawna at KinderGarden Seeds


Meredith, Kim, and Kathy at Sunshine, Sand and Scissors


Karla at KinderKarla

Amy at Mrs. Lattin's Kindergarten

Dianne at Hopelessly Devoted to Teaching!

Mindy at iintegratetechnology

Kate at Second Grade Sparkle

Kate at EduKate and Inspire

Gina at A Chocoholic Teacher

Trisha at 2nd Grade Frosting

The rules for this award are simple.

1. Link back to the person who gave it to you.

2. Post the award to your blog.

3. Give the award to at least 5 blog who have less than 200 followers. (Obviously, I went over 5.  I kept finding one more, and one more...etc. )

4. Leave a comment on all of the blogs you have selected to let them know that you are passing on
    this award.
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