Monday, May 4, 2015

Teacher Appreciation Week Giveaway!


American Greetings is hosting a giveaway for teachers like you - who work hard year-round to educate and inspire students!
To show their appreciation, they’re hosting a Teacher Appreciation Week giveaway. 
The winner will receive a $500 Staples gift card to use towards classroom supplies and a $30 Starbucks gift card as a personal treat. Additionally, 2 runner-ups will each receive a $100 gift card to Teachers Pay Teachers.  
All you have to do is register with your school email address so they can make sure that a teacher is receiving the prize.  You also earn extra entries by following American Greetings on Twitter and Facebook.


Friday, April 24, 2015

How to deepen Number Sense with Rekenreks

First of all, what exactly do I mean by "number sense"?
Broadly defined, number sense refers to having the intuition to not only understand numbers and number relationships, but also developing the ability to flexibly use this knowledge to solve mathematical problems. It’s a skill that’s developed early on in a child’s education, sometimes as young as age 2. According to the University of Cambridge’s NRICH Project, young children can identify the difference between one, two or three objects before they even learn to count.

My mind was recently blown by the October 2014 National Governors Association Paper that stated,
"A child's math ability when he or she enters school has proved a better predictor of academic achievement, high school graduation & college attendance than any other early childhood skill.  Early mathematics competency predicts later reading achievement better than early literacy skills.  High-quality early mathematics instruction supports later learning of the science, technology, engineering & mathematics skills U.S. employers require."
(Bold & underline emphasis is mine, not theirs.)

YOU GUYS!! This is HUGE.  Number sense in the early grades is crucial! We've GOT to make sure they're getting it.  The textbook alone is not going to teach it.  Our youngest learners need hands-on activities.  Rekenreks are a great hands-on way to help develop number relationships and flexibility when it comes to thinking about numbers.
Of course you can buy them, but ain't nobody got money for that!
I made an entire class set for $6.
1.  Pony beads, foam board, and pipe cleaners.  That's all you need!
2.  I cut my foam board into approx. 5"x3" rectangles and cut 2 slits on each end.
(I found that a X-acto knife was the best cutting tool.)
String 10 beads on each pipe cleaner, using two colors (5 & 5).
3.  Tuck the ends into the slits & twist them on the backside.
4.  That's it!  Your students could even make these!

Now what?
There are great resources all over the web for using reckenreks in the classroom.  
  • K-5 Math Teaching Resources has a great explanation of how and how.
  • Here's a free E-book by Dr. Barbara Blanke that has 10 activities along with an introduction to using the Rekenrek or Number Rack. It even includes correlations to the CCSS!
  • There are tons of great ideas on Pinterest, of course.  Click the image below to see lots of them!


Do you use rekenreks? Tell us about it in the comments! Also, feel free to leave links to other great rekenrek resources!

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Ship your Stuff with Avery!

When Shoplet asked me to review the following Avery labels, I couldn't say no.  Because they're Avery, of course.  The following opinions about these labels are honest and my own.

So, a few short months ago I started making vinyl designs for shirts.  I totally blame my friend Sue, because she showed me how fun it was.  Occasionally, I  ship a shirt to Arizona or Florida and I need a shipping label (because that beats standing in line at the post office!).  I Googled until I found out how to print postage paid labels at home, after buying a nifty little postage scale from Amazon.  Once I knew how to do it, I had to do it. I began using full sheet labels and wasting half of the page, because the label prints on one side and the receipt on the other.
Cue awesome Avery shipping labels...
The left side is the label and the right is just paper.  They are GREAT!

 Click the image to see them on Shoplet

The Brown Kraft label is cool because it can be printed on, blends in with the box, and doesn't allow old labels to show through.  These labels come two to a sheet.
Click the image above to view on Shoplet.

I also liked these Avery White Shipping Labels because they are 10 per sheet and have TrueBlock Technology.  As you can see, neither color or old labels show through them. 

Click the image above to see them on Shoplet

The Avery WeatherProof Labels were fun to test! While they can be printed on, I used a BIC marker to see if the ink would smear.  It didn't.  I also scrubbed it with a wet paper towel to see what would happen.  As you can clearly see below, the Avery label held up, but the original label on the box did not... New Balance, you may want to invest in these WeatherProof labels!

Click the image above to view them on Shoplet.

I will be using these Avery shipping labels from Shoplet to ship my shirts.
If you'd like to help me continue to test these labels against the elements and post office, order a shirt from me! ;)

Saturday, March 28, 2015

2015 Teacher Tool Exchange Linky

Two weekends ago, I had the pleasure of attending the 2nd anual teacher blogger meet up in French Link, Indiana.  I blogged about my amazing experience last year {HERE}, in case you want to know how it all started. 
One of the activities at this epic blog meet up, was the Teacher Tool Gift Exchange.  We divided ourselves by grade levels, so the gifts would be more appropriate and because there was no way we'd all fit in one giant circle!  Since I teach K-5 in the library, I chose the 2nd grade group because it falls in the middle! We had all brought our favorite teacher tool and while Amanda read a crazy story she made up, we passed our gifts to the right or left, depending on the code words she read.  It was kind of a hilarious story!
Once the story was over, we went around the circle and opened our gifts.  There were so many awesome things!
My gift was every type and size of Post-it Notes you can imagine. I LOVE them! My library finds itself the host of almost every meeting we have at my school.  My pens and Post-it Notes, tend to get "borrowed" often, so now I can replenish my stash!
Bobbi from Bitty Bilinguals put together this awesome gift!
Bitty Bilinguals

You can see more awesome teacher tools on the blogs below!  
Come back tomorrow to read more about my weekend!




Wednesday, March 18, 2015

It's a Joy Cowley Classroom Giveaway!

Joy Cowley is a fantastic author who has written many books for young readers.  One of her most delightful characters is Mrs. Wishy- Washy!  You can enter to win a big book on my blog and a whole classroom supply of books over at Hameray Publishing!  Keep reading to find out how to enter both contests!
Just for fun, I've come up with 5 things she and I have in common...
1.    We both love to clean. Neither of us can stand a mess.  She even loaded up her animals and searched all over town for water when there was none on the farm! {Mrs. Wishy-Washy and the Big Wash}
2.    We have both entered our (clean) animals in the fair and won!  As a teenager, I showed cattle through 4-H and have a box full of ribbons to show for it!
3.    We are both farm girls.  She currently lives on a farm and I grew up on a dairy farm.
4.    We are both hard workers.  Her hard work, and cleaning obsession, is apparent in Mrs. Wishy-Washy on TV.  She scrubs every animal and person in sight until they are sparkling!
5.    A cow, pig, and duck sang to me on my last birthday too, just like in Mrs. Wishy-Washy’s Birthday.  Just kidding, but it was really sweet when it happened in Mrs. Wishy-Washy’s Birthday!

Now that you know a little about Mrs. Wishy-Washy and me, let me tell you 5 things you’ll love about these books:
1.    Each book has a teacher’s guide specific to that book.  It’s not a separate document that you’re bound to lose, but actually printed on the back cover.  It’s a brilliant concept that I wish all books had!  You could easily leave this book for a substitute teacher and just say, “follow the guide inside the back cover” and you’d know your students were going to get a great lesson. 
2.    The word count for the four books I have averages out to 198.  A perfect length for beginning readers.  The stories are engaging and humorous.  The vocabulary in the books is varied and each one has 3-4 specific words listed in the guide to pull out and talk more about.  Students can take these new words and come up with antonyms and/or synonyms, put them in alphabetical order, or create new sentences using the words.
3.    The characters are constant.  After reading a few books, children can expect to see the cow, pig, and duck.  Stories can be created from one of the animals’ point of view.  Predictions can be made about what the animals did to get so dirty or what they’ll do after their baths.  Book summaries are a great thing to do with your students to make sure they understand parts of the story.  You can download a story summary chart below to use with any Mrs. Wishy-Washy book.
4.    These books would adapt themselves well to a Reader’s Theater script.  After a shared reading of the book, students can work together to retell the story and create parts for a script as they work.
All sorts of word studies can be done with these books.  Mrs. Wishy-Washy’s Birthday lends itself to a study of onomatopoeia, words with suffixes, and compound words.  
 
There are currently four sets of readers by Joy Cowley.  The third release is the Orange Set.  This selection of books includes brand-new stories featuring brand-new characters! Read new adventures featuring Little Sister and Big Brother, Barbie the Wild Lamb, Pen and Pencil, the Gruesomes, and Oscar, all written by Joy Cowley.  The fourth set is the Blue Set and is also the newest.  This selection of books includes stories featuring brand-new characters, Mr. Tang and Miniboy!
Hameray Publishing is hosting the Joy Cowley Classroom Giveaway, in which one lucky grand-prize winner will receive a classroom package of Joy’s stories, which include the newest adventures of cherished characters Mrs. Wishy-Washy, the Hungry Giant, the Meanies, and others. This year’s package includes ninety leveled readers, nineteen big books, a set of finger puppets, and more, with a prize total valuing at $1,000!

Monday, February 23, 2015

It's a TpT Sale!

Fill those carts because TpT is having a site wide sale!! My store will be discounted 20%, just use the promo code HEREOS.

Here are some of my top selling items-just click the image below to see it in my store!



300 × 300
Is your store on sale? If so, leave your link in the comments!

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Elementary Writing Resources

graphic by Ashley Hughes
Tennessee has the luckiest students in the country.  At least in my opinion, anyways.  I am so proud of the work our department of education has done to equip our teachers with resources and strategies for the classroom.  This work began several years ago when we adopted the Common Core Standards.  The state department trained teachers who wanted to work as "Core Coaches" and lead this massive, state-wide training.  It was a success and the work continued the following summer.  Then, the trainings evolved into a "school team training series" with the coaches training teachers who were designated as "learning leaders".  These Learning Leaders were charged with the task of taking their learning back to their school and presenting it to their peers.  I have been a part of the school team training series this school year and have loved it.  Empowering teachers to go back and share their learning has been awesome.  My Learning Leaders have been awesome.  The Department of Ed has been awesome.  My co-workers have been awesome. In case you're not sure, I totally believe in the work we are doing.  When Learning Leaders email you and ask if you'll be leading the training in the city they've registered for, because they want you again, well..you guessed it, it's awesome.  So if you're a teacher in Tennessee, consider yourself blessed.  Your state department is working hard for you.  If you're not a Tennessee teacher, I'm sorry.  You're totally missing out and you should probably move here.

So on to the writing resources you came for... :)
One of our amazing 1st-2nd grade Core Coaches put together a Padlet with writing and math resources for you! 


I've shared the following Padlet with you before, but it's worth sharing again.

And another...

This Padlet was created specifically for 2nd grade teachers-


I've created several writing resources over the past few months and they can all be downloaded for free.  Just click the image.
Visual reminder for parts of a narrative story.



https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Narrative-Writing-Resources-1673911
The next blog post has lots of writing resources as well.  You can scroll down, or click {HERE} to go straight to the post. 
Please share your writing resource links in the comments!

Friday, January 30, 2015

Opinion & Narrative Writing Resources

Writing in Kindergarten & 1st Grade

Many teachers struggle with teaching writing.  Some districts have strict writing curriculum in place, while others have no curriculum and those teachers are left to fend for themselves.  Regardless of which category you fall into, Self-Regulated Strategy Development (SRSD from here on out)  can work in your classroom.  SRSD is not a writing curriculum, but a framework designed to mesh with your current writing instruction.  If you're not familiar with this writing framework you can read a past post of mine HERE, visit the Think SRSD website, or checkout Project Write by Vanderbilt Kennedy Center.

The Common Core Standards for writing focus on these three mode- informative, opinion, and narrative.  If you invest the time to model and implement this strategy in your classroom, you will have students meeting the standards for these writing modes.

My past post was on informative writing, so today's will focus on narrative and opinion.  The mnemonic POW applies to all three modes: P-pull apart the prompt, O-organize my notes. W-write and say more.  POW can easily be applied to math tasks, by the way...
The librarian in me wanted a list of books I could use as mentor texts when either introducing or teaching one of the three modes of writing, so I threw together a list of picture books appropriate for read-alouds.  You can download the list by clicking the image below.

The mnemonic for informative writing was TIDE: Topic introduction, Important Detail, & Ending.

Within the SRSD framework, opinion's mnemonic is POW TREE: Topic sentence, Reasons, Ending, & Examine.  One of our Core Coaches created this cute graphic organizer that you can download by clicking the image.
Another popular mnemonic is OREO.  I don't know where this idea originated, but it stands for Opinion, Reason, Example, & Opinion (restated).
I found a nice, Common Core based PowerPoint that goes through the steps of opinion writing, using OREO, that was posted online by Birmingham City Schools.  I like it because there are multiple writing samples from students.  You can see that by clicking the image below.

Zaner Bloser also has some great resources for writing that you can download for free.  The opinion writing unit is great! You can access it HERE.

Getting back to the SRSD framework, the narrative mnemonic for 1st graders is POW+W-W-W What How.  The first three W's stand for Who, When, & Where.  Another mnemonic, created by a fellow Core Coach, is STORY.  The graphic below explains STORY.
If you are unfamiliar with SWAG (under Y), here is your explanation-
You can download the complete free resource HERE.

If it's graphic organizers, rubrics, or lined writing paper you need, download this resource!

If your students need a reminder when it comes to making sure they have all the elements of a narrative, this visual might help-
It is free to download from my TpT store!

I hope you found some resources that will help you in your classroom!  I will add to this post as I find more things to share with you.  I hope you will share great resources with me in the comments below.  Be sure to follow my TpT store to receive updates when new products are added and follow my blog by email so you never miss a thing!



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