Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Show some love~

Whether or not your team made the Super Bowl, Sunday will be great, because......

Click here ------->

I have some great products for February:


My friend Erin at Sample's Superstars is having an awesome giveaway that you need to check out!

So is the wonderful Sharon at 

And The 3am Teacher has a great deal going on- help out her son with a $20+ donation to the American Heart Association and receive a great prize! (In addition to helping fight heart disease!)

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

New Teacher Blog Tuesday!

Andrea is our first new blogger from 

1.             Name of blog and link:  Reading Toward the Stars  

2.          Why did you start blogging?  I started blogging because I had followed so many other blogs and thought, “This would be fun!”  I wanted to share the fun things I do with my students with others.  I have not looked back, and it has made me a better teacher because of it!

3.            Tell us a little about your teaching background. 
I started out 16 years ago as a long term sub in a fourth grade classroom, where I got a contract for the next year.  I have been there ever since, moving to third grade for eight years, then back to fourth for one year.  I finally have my dream job as a Reading Specialist, which I have been doing for a year and a half.  I love every minute of it!

4.            What songs are included on the soundtrack to your life?  I would have to say “Home” by Phillip Phillips (see the hardest thing I have ever done below).  Another song that would describe some of my feelings in life is “Fruitcakes” by Jimmy Buffett.  Of course, I love Jimmy, but this one just takes the “fruit”cake!  And, we can’t forget Bon Jovi, Poison, and Def Leppard who got me through high school!

5.           What’s the hardest thing you’ve ever done?  The hardest thing I have ever done is stay in college in Virginia when my parents moved back to Louisiana.  I refused to go, even though I was the one who didn’t want to move to VA in the first place.  I had started my college career and did not want to start over or move back to Louisiana, even though my entire extended family was there.  It was the best decision of my life!  I have the perfect job, a wonderful husband I would have never met,  and a family of friends I wouldn’t trade for anything!

6.           What’s your favorite TV show?
        Hands down ~ The Middle!  They make me feel like a great Mom, even though I am far from perfect!  I also love to watch The Amazing Race and live vicariously through the racers.

7.           Are you a Times New Roman or DJ Inkers kind of girl and why?  DJ Inkers!  It is just so much fun to have different fonts.  Now I don’t even look at the fonts available on Microsoft products.  I go right for the ones I downloaded and use them.

8.           Number of candles that appeared on your last birthday cake?  I didn’t have a birthday cake, but it would have had 37.

9.           What was the last book you read?  C is for Corpse by Sue Grafton.  I am reading the series, and it is so fun to go back to a time I remember with no cell phones or internet.  It is a wonder anyone could solve crimes!!

10.        What chore do you absolutely hate doing?  I HATE cleaning the bathrooms.  Yuck!!!  What lurks in corners when you have an eight year old boy in the house?  It is becoming his new chore!

Our second new blogger is Melissa from

            1.             Name of blog and link:

2.          Why did you start blogging?
       I actually started blogging 5 years ago when I started teaching.  This was a blog that I used in my classroom to share information with parents.  I also made it interactive and had assignments on there for students to complete.  They would leave their answers in the comment section.  This made integrating technology and developing a home-school connection a lot easier!

Over the summer of 2012, I spent a lot of time on Pinterest, which lead me to other teacher bloggers.  I really enjoyed the format of their blogs and liked seeing ideas that were actually used in the classroom.  I started my teacher blog as a way to connect with these teachers and collaborate.

3.            Tell us a little about your teaching background.
        I have been teaching for five years.  When I graduated in 2008, I obtained a third grade position in a suburb of Chicago.  I also decided to just jump in and get my master’s right away in Educational Technology.   I taught third grade for two years in this school and was asked by the Principal to move up to fifth.  I did this for a year and moved with my husband to Ohio.  I was fortunate enough to get a position right away in third grade again, where I have been for the past two years!

4.            What songs are included on the soundtrack to your life?
        I cant really think of specific songs, but I really like listening to musical soundtracks!

5.           What’s the hardest thing you’ve ever done?
       The most difficult thing I ever did was plan and have a wedding, go on a honeymoon, find a job and move to a different state all at the same time (June 2012). 

6.           What’s your favorite TV show?
       I don’t know if I have a specific favorite TV show, but I love all reality TV.  I find it easy to watch while I’m working on stuff for school.  If I get caught up on something else, it doesn’t feel like I miss anything very important in the plot.  J

7.           Are you a Times New Roman or DJ Inkers kind of girl and why?
        Neither.  J  I really like Kevin and Amanda fonts.  In the past few months, I have actually designed a lot of my own fonts that I use for the majority of the products that I list on TpT and use in my classroom.  This way, I get exactly what I want!

8.           Number of candles that appeared on your last birthday cake?

9.           What was the last book you read?
       The Legend of the Poinsetta by Tommie dePoala.  It was part of the Christmas Around the World unit I did right before school let out for winter break.

10.        What chore do you absolutely hate doing?
       Laundrymostly because my husband and I are currently living on the 3rd floor of an apartment and I have to walk down to the first floor to do it.  Super inconvenient!

If you are a new blogger and 

you'd like to be featured,

just email me!

Friday, January 25, 2013

Freebie Friday with TBA

I know I haven’t had many posts with a lot of substance lately and I hope you’ll forgive me!  I do have a quick freebie for you though.  I created a “how to” sequencing activity I hope you can use. 



Don’t you just love this clip art?? It’s from Scrappin Doodles!  Click the picture above to download this freebie.

Thanks for stopping by!  Remember, I feature new bloggers every Tuesday, so if you’d like to be featured, email me at

PS- My TpT store is on sale through Saturday night to celebrate the big 3-5.  BUT, I am considering going with the age my kids decided I was turning- 22 :) Gotta love 1st grade, where  age truly is nothing but a number!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

From HomeWORK to HomeFUN with Whole Brain Teaching!

Here is a post I did as a guest blogger on Hippo Hooray for Second Grade, a few weeks ago.  I wanted to share it here in case you missed it.  It's been a wonderful solution to the homework struggle I have faced in the past.

I am a HUGE fan of Whole Brain Teaching  and that’s what I want to talk to you about today. 

Whole Brain Teaching is just amazing.  It has changed my classroom for the good and I will never give it up.  I have written several posts about it {HERE}, so if you want more information, please check it out.  Now, as the title states, I am going to help you with the huge headache we call homework.  My daughter’s school calls it homefun… I have never seen a child have fun doing homework, until I started using the homework model from Whole Brain Teaching!  Seriously.  I’m not kidding.  My kids rush in the door every day to tell me about their homework experience the night before.  It’s pretty amazing to see and it makes my heart happy to hear them excited to work on skills at home. 

My team and I were tired of making all the extra copies that homework creates and we were also looking for a way to cut down on grading so. many. papers!  -Less grading, now I’ve got your attention, don’t I?!  Ok,  ok, I have built it up enough? Are you ready to hear all the juicy little WBT secrets? Ha!
 WBT calls it the Universal Homework Model.  I call it Star Homework.  The beauty of WBT is that you can customize it to fit your needs and your classroom.  I first read about Star Homework over on Third Grade Thoughts.  This method allows the students to choose what they do for homework.  We all know students take more pride in their work when they have ownership- well this allows that.  Each night, our students can choose to practice math, vocabulary words, or spelling words.  For each task they complete, they earn a star for the class.  They can do 1, 2, or all 3 activities.  In addition to these tasks, we require 10 minutes of reading.  Students do not earn a star for reading, because, as I said, it’s required.  You can set the tasks to be anything you want.  If the majority of your students don’t have internet access, that’s ok, get creative.  Check out the WBT website for ideas!  The form below says for math practice.  This is a free website!  You just have to go in and set up your class.  Maybe you do IXL,  that works!  For spelling practice, our students can go to or practice their words aloud with someone.

Here is a look at what we use. As you can see, the parent circled and initialed the tasks that were completed.

Stephanie at 3rd Grade Thoughts was kind enough to post an editable version of this form, so all the thanks go to her!  Click {HERE} to go to her forms.
We also graph the number of stars throughout the week and on Friday, based on how many stars the class as a whole has earned, they receive some type of treat or special activity- whatever you choose!  WBT has many suggestions, including a great review game called Mind Soccer

Here is a look at one of our weeks.

 I have 225 boxes in my graph.  If every child does all 3 tasks EVERY night, they would all be colored.  Of course, that is not going to happen, but that’s ok!  We always talk about how it compared to the week before, if we went up or down.
I have only received positive comments from my parents about this method.  If you are getting tired of your current homework routine, I encourage you to give this a try!  

If you try this or already do something similar, I'd LOVE to hear about it!