Saturday, June 29, 2013


Super quick post!
I'm having a giveaway over on my Facebook page! If you haven't "liked" my Facebook page yet, now is the perfect time to head on over! Once you like the page, just click the blue Giveaway tab at the top to enter!
There will be 3 winners and your odds right now are prettttty good!
Good luck!
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Thursday, June 27, 2013

Teach Like a Pirate: Ch. 8 & Ch. 9

Oh. My. Goodness.
Words cannot express how beyond excited I am to be posting about these amazing chapters! I am so blessed to be able to participate in this book study with so many other wonderful bloggers! :)
This book, Teach Like a Pirate by Dave Burgess, is phenomenal! If you have not read it, go purchase it now!
I will be discussing Chapter 8 AND Chapter 9 in today's post! I sure hope you will share your thoughts and comments below!
Chapter 8: A Crash Course in Presentational Hooks
Ok, so I'll admit that when I read the title of this chapter, I was already stoked. I love a good presentation! And that's what this chapter is about. Though it's brief, it gets the point across very well. It teaches us that we have to actively ask ourselves questions and be intentional in our ways of seeking information. The overall goal is to ultimately DRAW your students into the content being taught. Mr. Burgess suggests that by being more deliberate in considering certain questions when designing units/lessons, that you will be much more successful with using these ideas in your own lessons.
I love that Mr. Burgess mentioned his concern about being able to translate his way of teaching and being successful into text and ways that other educators would be able to use it. I think we all, as educators, share that fear sometimes. We know what works for US in our OWN classrooms, but we sometimes doubt how others are going to perceive our ideas or styles. He then proceeded to give a wonderful example about teaching someone to play the guitar. He stated how they must first learn the basics of the guitar BEFORE they could choose an area of focus. This section is for teaching us, the educators, the basics before we can go off and adjust it to meet our specific needs.

It was made clear through this section that you have to be dedicated and you have to WANT to make a change in your presentations in class. If you don't have the motivation and drive to ask these questions and COLLABORATE with other colleagues, then you aren't setting yourself up for success.

We always talk about setting the students up for success but we also have to remember to do that for ourselves as well! I think this book study is a GREAT way to embark on that collaboration journey because there are so many individuals that we can reach out to and discuss with! I know that without my girl Tamara to collaborate with at school, my sanity would have been gone a long time ago. It's great to find people who think 99.9% the same way you do so that you CAN dive deep into questions and improve upon your teaching practice!

And before I move on to Chapter 9, I just had to share my favorite quote ever from a professional development book! LOVE it! I am certainly going to start "pimping" my lessons from now on!
Chapter 9: I Like to Move It, Move It
What a phenomenal chapter to get your wheels turning! As I read this chapter, I was certainly doing a lot of self reflecting! I realized that on some lessons this past year, I hit the mark but on others, I dropped the ball...and not in a good kinesthetic hook type of dropping the ball either! But hey, that's why we are all reading this book.. to reflect and improve upon our teaching!
The second sentence of this chapter really caught my attention. "The brain and body work best when receiving the flow of oxygen and blood; that doesn't happen when students spend their days sitting at a desk."
And let's go ahead and admit it...that we already knew that. But if you're like me, maybe you already knew that information but really needed some guiding on how to get better in that aspect! 
Well luckily, that's what this chapter addresses!
First was the Kinesthetic Hook focusing on changing your lessons from being... shall I dare say... boring? Yes, I shall say it because we have ALL taught lessons that were boring at one time or another! That's where the Kinesthetic Hook comes into play! Get those kiddos up and MOVING while they are LEARNING! It already sounds more fun to me as a teacher if my lessons are answering the questions Mr. Burgess poses in this section.
As I was reading about the Kinesthetic Hook, I was thinking about how great Kagan Cooperative Learning structures are for getting kids up and moving. Especially structures like Stand Up-Hand Up-Pair Up or One Stray. Those get kids out of their seat while doing something content related and gets that oxygen circulating!
The phonics program I use at school, Discover Intensive Phonics, has a kinesthetic element built in. Part of the program is to have students get out of their seats to practice their phonics skills on their white boards as I dictate the words. It also uses a two finger gesture for saying the words. I motion from my mouth out to them as I say the words, and then they repeat the motions while repeating the word back to me twice. I have seen that it works much better than teaching phonics in their seats with no hand gestures.
The Kinesthetic Hook questions are truly great and a page that I have bookmarked for future reference!
It's OK TO HAVE FUN! Say what?!? It's so hard sometimes to remember that. Now, I'm the type of teacher who LOVES to do things for fun whether it's dressing up, playing a new game, learning a new song/dance, etc. With that being said though, it's sometimes hard to get those FUN lessons in there with the demands on teachers nowadays with testing, new standards, RTI, and so much more! It's something we just can't leave out though! Even those "just for fun" lessons can end up teaching our precious students SO much!
As soon as I read this section and Mr. Burgess shared his example of teaching his class about Henry "Box" Brown, I thought about a song/dance that Tamara and I taught to our students this year. Mr. Burgess discussed how much learning he had seen taking place during that "fit in the box" lesson and I was so glad he included that.
Tamara and I spent hours one Wednesday afternoon, listening to the ever so popular "Gangnam Style" song and re-writing the lyrics. Why on earth did we do that you ask? We had a good reason! We wanted to teach our students a song and dance to a modern day song to get their interests sparked! We turned it into a song about VOWEL sounds to help them remember short and long vowel patterns. It sounds ridiculous I know, but the kids LOVED it. And what song do you think they were singing the ENTIRE 30 MINUTE trip back from our last field trip? You got it! OUR class version of the song! So did they have fun? YES. Did they learn something content related? YES. Did they have to practice their coordination to learn the dance moves? YES.
So in the end, I feel that Tamara and I were very successful with our "Just for fun" activity!
And as a bonus, you can click the picture below to check us out singing the song! Go easy on us though, it was our first run through! :)
The People Prop Hook
I have to admit that I could definitely use some work in this area. I will certainly be referencing these guiding questions many more times in the future!
As I read through the guiding questions for the People Prop Hook, I was thinking particularly about a phonics lesson I did several times this year to practice various phonics rules. I call it Act-A-Word. I did it both with giant flashcards as well as iPads. For example, I would have the students open up an app called EduCreations where it has a blank whiteboard appearance. Students can then write anything I tell them on the iPad using their finger. I would make a list ahead of time of various words that matched our weekly phonics skill. Say the word was float. I would pass out the iPads to random students and give each student a letter to write on their iPad. I then told them to come up front, discuss with one another, and arrange themselves in the correct order to spell the word I was thinking of. The kids loved it, it got them to collaborate and discuss and really work together. So yes, the kids that were up and moving were very into it. But what about the kids at their seat still? That's where I goofed. I didn't have them as actively involved as I could have. Now I will be rethinking and adding an additional element into that lesson.
The Safari Hook
I totally agree with The Safari Hook and the fact that taking your kiddos outside of the normal classroom setting is automatically going to increase their engagement. It can sometimes be tricky to fight the outside elements of the classroom, especially if you have a challenging class, but it's always worth a shot!
I remember a lesson from this past year that Tamara and I did together with our classes. It was the science experiment where you drop the Mentos into a Coke bottle. We obviously weren't going to attempt this in our classrooms so we all gathered our supplies and headed out to the big open field! Students brought their clipboards and were able to make their predictions. Then we all took a huge step back and made a large circle about the ominous Coke bottle in the middle. I went up and quickly dropped the Mentos into the Coke bottle and ran away like my life depended on it and then calmly walked to my place in the circle to watch what happened! The kids were super engaged and the looks on their faces were priceless. When asked to illustrate what happened during our experiment, do you think anyone got the wrong answer? NOPE. 100% correct. :)
So to sum things up in these 2 chapters, bookmark the questions for the 3 main presentation hooks and reference them often. Be deliberate in your questioning and collaboration to make sure you are hitting the mark with keeping your students engaged.
And most of all, HAVE FUN DOING IT!!!
Thank you SO MUCH for sticking with me through this lengthy post! I sure hope I didn't bore you to sleep! :)
I would LOVE to hear your comments on these chapters!
And I shall leave you with a bit of humor...I just couldn't resist!
Head to these two lovely blogs to read more!

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The End Is Near...

I'm sure you have seen this ALL over the blog-o-sphere out there but that's only because all of us bloggers LOVE our followers! Where would we be without your support??
So, I'm taking the risk and hoping I'm not annoying you as I post about this.. yet again.
Pleeeeease click below to make sure you are following me on Bloglovin' because July 1st is RIGHT AROUND THE CORNER y'all! I do NOT want to lose anybody so head on over, sign up and import all of your Google Reader blogs into Bloglovin' and start following! It's super easy, I promise!
If you feel unsure about it, check out my post here about how easy it is to convert!
What are you waiting for?? Click below and follow me for some extra love on BlogLovin'! :)
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Wednesday, June 26, 2013

There's a Good Reason...

There's a good reason for my absence the last week! I promise! However, I can't quite share exactly what it is.... just YET. Soon, though... soon!

I just popped in real quick to tell you that tomorrow (Thursday, 6/27) is my day to host the Teach Like a Pirate Book Study that's been going on! 
Hope you stop by tomorrow and leave your thoughts on the chapters! :) 
See ya soon!

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Wednesday, June 19, 2013

And the winner is...

Congratulations Jessica! You have mail! :)
And just a reminder.... my joint giveaway with Leigh at The Applicious Teacher and Tamara at Mrs. Russell's Room is STILL going on so get over to Leigh's blog and enter! Do it NOW before it's too late!
And before you go, be sure and hit the "Follow this blog with bloglovin'" button that I just added over on the right column! I am SOOOOO happy to be at 216 followers in less than 3 months of blogging! I am truly blessed! I want to make sure I keep all of you lovely followers when Google Reader goes "bye-bye" on July 1st so please hit that new follow button!
Thanks so much to all of you who are following me and have supported me the last few months! :)
If you aren't sure what "BlogLovin'" is... read this post to learn more!

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Sunday, June 16, 2013

An Apple A Day: Classroom Management

It's time for another "An Apple A Day" Linky with Leigh over at The Applicious Teacher!
 photo Slide1_zps0f4262e5.jpg  
 This week's theme is Classroom Management!

I have several different ways that I manage my class to share with you that are not necessarily about managing behaviors.. but other things because to me, classroom management isn't just about behavior!

Let me start by saying that I assign numbers to students at the beginning of the year according to their last name alphabetically. I use this number for all sorts of things throughout the year. I even write the numbers on the tiles with a sharpie so they know WHERE to stand when they line up and there is never any arguing because we line up in NUMBER order everytime! :)

Ok, let's dig in to.... Classroom Jobs!

This is not the first time I have put my job chart in a blog post but I thought it was appropriate to bring it up once again.

This has honestly been the best decision I made in regards to classroom jobs! I used to have a HUGE display that was placed all along my cabinet doors for display and I used dry erase markers to write names and it was just a HUGE mess!

Sooo, in order to SAVE ROOM and MANAGE things EASIER, I changed to this method. All I did was cut and laminate the job pieces and numbers, then cut them out. I then laid out a super long piece of zebra ribbon and hot glued the job pieces all the way down. Once the glue dried, I used thumb tacks to secure it to the wall at the top and bottom. I then hot glued the number pieces to clothespins. From there, you just place one clothespin on each job, in number order, all the way down. Now all I have to do to switch jobs, is rotate the clothespin down one and move the bottom one to the top! It's soooo easy and not time consuming at all! Love it! :)

Next up, center rotations:
I'm not going to go into an in-depth post about my center time just yet, but I do want to share how my kiddos know it's time to rotate independently.

The timer pictured above is made by Kagan. I use a lot of Kagan Cooperative Learning structures in my classroom and I was blessed enough to receive this timer when I attended a 2-day Kagan workshop!
It's totally awesome for randomly selecting students, groups, etc. but my main reason for using it is the timer feature. I can easily and quickly set the timer for 15:00 minutes {or any other time increment} and the students get started. The timer automatically gives what I call a "warning beep" a little bit before time is up. This "warning beep" serves as their clean up beep.. that way, when the final beep goes off, they are ready to switch and get started at the next center! :)
Click the picture above to check out the timer if you think it would work well for you! :)
{Please note, I am not being paid to advertise this product... I really do USE it and LOVE it!}

Now we are on to how I manage POSTIVE behavior in my classroom:
Click the pic to check this out at Really Good Stuff!

I bought this classroom reward bingo game over the summer last year and implemented it this year. The kiddos LOVED it! I would use it for all sorts of positive reinforcement - first 3 kiddos to be quiet, first 2 kiddos to clean their desk off first, first kiddo to follow directions, for any random act of kindness, working hard, and the list goes on and on! The kids never knew when I would tell someone to "put their number on the Bingo board" so they were always waiting for it and trying to be the one who made it on there! I had students write their class number on the poster because it was much faster and I also thumb tacked a dry erase marker on a string right next to it for easy access. Every two weeks I would draw a few winners and give them a prize!

How do I manage my groups/tasks?

At the same training where I received the MegaTimer above, I also received this awesome class set of 10 TeamMats also made by Kagan. On one side of the mat, it is split into fourths and labeled with the numbers 1-4. It also shows the students which is their face partner and which is their shoulder partner. I use the numbers on this mat for partner discussions but also other things. For example, I might say that person 1 is responsible for picking up materials and putting them away that day. Person 2 might be team captain for the day. Person 3 might be in charge of getting handwriting paper for their group one day. You get the idea. It's just super handy and super quick to manage all kinds of transitions and tasks!
The other side of the mat is for a specific Kagan structure. Click the pic above to check them out in all their detailed glory.
 Well, I have discussed several aspects of how I manage different things in my room but I DO have some more helpful management tips!
I have put together a pack that includes 3 different classroom management techniques.
This pack will discuss using:
An A+ Behavior Bag {to promote teamwork and correct expectations}
Stop Light Pocket Chart System {includes a reproducible for student tracking and parent communication}
Classroom Library Organization {an in-depth look at how I set up my classroom library and how the kiddos can use the system to be independent and keep that library neat!}
Click the pic to check this out on TpT!

You can also enter to WIN my Classroom Management pack below!

There's 2 ways to win! To enter on my blog, just leave a comment on this post! I will use a random number generator to choose one comment to win! :)

For another chance to enter (along with two other packs from Leigh @ The Applicious Teacher and Tamara @ Mrs. Russell's Room)... head over to Leigh's blog and enter the rafflecopter!
Thanks for sticking with me through this long post! Hope it was helpful! :) Be sure and link up below to share your tips also!

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Friday, June 14, 2013

Book Studies Galore!

Hi friends!
This will be a quick post.. I promise!
I am participating in several book studies this summer! Now that my internet is back up and running, I will be able to post on them each week as well as do my HOST chapter!
Here are the book studies, where to find the posts, and at the end, there's a link to buy each book via Amazon so you can follow along and "professionally develop" yourself! :)

Book Study #1
Hosted by these ladies here: 

Book Study #2
Different bloggers will each be writing about a chapter and will all be blogged about via the blog "We Read, We Blog, We Teach"! Head on over and follow that blog to stay updated!

Book Study #3:

This book study will be happening this FALL. It should start sometime in October so you have plenty of time to start reading so you can  join in on the fun! :) More info. to follow on this one!
And before I leave you,
here is your one stop shop to LOAD up on all of these amazing books!
I have included links for each book below! 
Click the book link with the prices shown for the PAPERBACK version!
Click the book link with NO prices shown for the KINDLE version!
Woot! Have fun shopping! :)

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Fabulous Feedback Linky!

Well, it is certainly summer because these linky parties are in FULL swing and keeping my fingers busy! :) I'm linking up with Christina once again for her Fabulous Feedback Linky Party! Click the pic to check out her blog and the other feedback posts!

I just love, love, love this linky party because I get to highlight some fabulous feedback I received on a product! And, to make it even more exciting, if YOU are the person who left the feedback, you get an item from my store that's similarly priced to the one you left feedback on for FREE! Woo!

So I received some wonderful feedback on a product that I use in my classroom for building number sense. I can assign a "number of the day" and the students will work with that number in a variety of ways. It really helps to get the math block started and it builds some important skills!

Here's the fabulous feedback I received!

Such sweet and genuine feedback! Remember, if you are user "1stgradeteacherFirst" that left this feedback for me, comment below or email me so I can send you the freebie you earned! :)
I can't wait to read about everyone else's fabulous feedback!
And before you leave, be sure and check out my Daily Number Focus for Number Sense product! :)

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Have No Fear...Bloglovin' is here!

As most people know, Google Reader is gone, gone, gone as of July 1st! {And if you didn't know, now you do!}
You may find yourself having a slight panic attack, wondering HOW you are going to keep up with all of your favorite blogs!
I mean, nobody goes and individually types in URLs anymore...that's soooo 2012. All the cool kids have moved on!
Well, if you are an avid Google Reader user, have no fear... Bloglovin' is here!
Bloglovin' is SUPER user-friendly AND you can transfer all of the blogs you follow from Google Reader into your Bloglovin' acct!
It's simple. Go to Bloglovin' and create an account. {It's FREE} During the setup of your account, it will ask if you want to import the blogs you were following on Google Reader. Once you import, they are all there! Ready to be read! And best of all, it will look very similar to Google Reader so you should be able to navigate it quickly.
And to top it off, if you read blogs on your phone or iPad.. Bloglovin' has an app for that!
So what are you waiting for?!? Head on over and follow my blog on Bloglovin'!
Happy Blog Reading! :)

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Ten Pin Linky {Calling All Pinterest Addicts}

I am so excited to try out this brand new linky party going on called the "Ten Pin Linky" hosted by Ashley Reed from over at Just Reed!
Just Reed!
So this week's theme is to share my favorite pins in regards to CLASSROOM Décor!
Here goes nothing!
1.The first pin I'm going to share is actually one of my own! It's my zebra themed Teacher Toolbox! I just love, love, love using it in my classroom and it fits into my room PERFECTLY! It was the best thing I made last summer for sure! :)
2. Ok, I'm loving this next pin because it maximizes space! Which, let's be honest, who DOESN'T  need to maximize space in their classroom?!? I love how this person has the end AND side of the file cabinet as a functional area and not just what's inside the drawers!
3. Next up, Erica Bohrer's Word Wall! It is simply adorable! I just love the bright colors and the overall organization of it! It looks so crisp and clean! :) I'm totally jealous!
4. This adorable corner area from The Creative Chalkboard is just TOO CUTE! Who wouldn't want to read in this little nook area?!? I know I would grab my Kindle and go read there RIGHT NOW! :)
5. Ok, we're halfway through! I hope you are enjoying these pins so far! I couldn't resist sharing this pin because I think it's HILARIOUS! It's an idea from Little Illuminations as a little Halloween Décor in the classroom! :)
6. This pin comes to us from The Clutter Free Classroom! I love how these ugly simple, plain drawers have been turned into something totally cute and spunky just by adding some bright colors and polka dots! So cute!
 7. Here we have an idea that I have seen popping up all over the place lately - framing inspirational quotes to display in your classroom. I think it's such a great idea and very elegant. A definitely unique way to jazz things up in your room! This pin is courtesy of Schoolgirl style!

8. Anyone who follows my blog knows that I work super closely with Tamara from Mrs. Russell's Room. I am sharing this pin in HONOR of Tamara and her pirate themed classroom! How cute is this door?!? Love!

9. WOW! If you have never checked out the Glyph Girls before, check out this pin NOW! Talk about an ideal classroom! I am so jealous of all the awesomeness going on in this blog post! This particular picture is representing an area of their classroom which will be used as a timeline and pictures will be posted on it throughout the school year! Super cute and snazzy!

10. Are we already to our last pin? Noooooo! This has been so much fun! Last but not least, I love this idea for storing games and/or center activities! So simple, yet so effective!

Well friends, that's all I have for today! I do hope you will take the time to check out these pins and if you like them, be sure to re-pin them so that others can enjoy them too!

Also, be sure you are following me on Pinterest!

Happy pinning! :)


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Fun in the Sun Linky!

I am linking up with my co-planning bestie, Tamara from Mrs. Russell's Room, for her Fun in the Sun Linky! Woot! :)
My week has been pretty uneventful other than cleaning so far this week so I will share what I'm going to do this weekend to make up for it!
My hubby and I are taking Arielle over to his mom's house to spend some time together! It's always great to have family time where we can all just hang out together and play some games! Although, you better watch out when we break out the Phase 10 game..things get pretty heated!!
My hubby and I are also going to sneak out (just the 2 of us) and go see some movies! We're hoping to see Man of Steel, Now You See Me, and The Purge! I'm most excited for Man of Steel (in 3D) because I'm a huge comic book movie nerd! Plus, my hubby is obsessed with Superman! :)
Annnd I'm hoping The Purge doesn't scare the you-know-what out of me! I haven't seen a scary movie in years! Wish me luck!!
Thanks for stopping by! What are you doing for fun this week? Head on over to Mrs. Russell's Room to link up and let us know!
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