Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Currently September

It is time to link up with Farley for her monthly Currently!

  • I am listening to Tiny House, Big Living. Am I the only one fascinated by the tiny house movement? I think if I were by myself, I could downsize quite easily. But no lofts (bad knees) and I'd need more than 200 square feet. Our house is almost 1600 square feet. That's a lot for two people and a dog.
  • I am loving that our local university is starting fall sports. We have season tickets for volleyball, women's basketball, and softball. We love to go support our young ladies' teams.
  • I'm thinking that I want to plan a trip. Maybe some beach time...
  • I am wanting to do some more decluttering. We had to have our washer repaired, so I cleaned out the combination pantry/laundry room. Now I have the fever. I think the linen closet is next on the list.
  • I am needing to get back on the exercise bike. I slacked off after Vegas. It's time to get with it again.
  • 3 Goals: I need to work on being more kind. Karma is going to get me if I don't. I need to focus more on my health. And I need to take care of some legal stuff. Since I got married in July, I need to update my will and all that goes with it.

Now go visit Farley's blog and check out the other posts this month! Don't forget the Rule of Three.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

August Bright Ideas Link Up

Welcome back for another tip from the Bright Ideas Link Up!

This month, I'd like to share a little tip that saved me time and energy during the hectic first few days of school. 

I used to have Sharpie markers available for kids to use to label their materials. That took a sweet forever. Ain't nobody got time for 25 kids to write their whole name on all their crayons, folders, and composition books.

Instead, grab some return address printer labels, the ones that have 80 labels per sheet. Take your class list and create labels for each student. Give each kiddo 20 labels - one column. If you assign your kids student numbers, you can add that. You don't need to make these fancy. If you're like me, you never have your class list until the last minute before school starts any way, so no time for fancy!

Peel off the excess sticker paper around the labels and cut the columns apart. On the first day of school, pass out the labels. Let the kids go wild labeling their supplies. 

Boom! No lost supplies and no tearing out your hair wishing kids would hurry up!

If you enjoyed this Bright Idea, please consider visiting my Teachers Pay Teachers store and joining me on Facebook or Instagramwhere I share more great ideas.

For more bright ideas from different bloggers, please browse through the link-up below and choose a topic/grade level that interests you. Thanks for visiting! 

Monday, August 10, 2015


This is my third year to not have Back-to-School-itis. You know, the feeling that you'll never get finished with your to-do list; the excitement of anticipating a year where everything goes well; and the dread of summer winding down. It's a special feeling only teachers get.

However, so many of my friends are still teaching, and I know most of you who read this blog are as well. So I wanted to post a reminder about a freebie that might help you as you think about those first days of school.

Establishing classroom rules was always one of the first things I did during the first day of school.
I wrote a blog post here explaining how I worked with the students to create a document outlining how we wanted to be treated in our class. All the details you need are in the file. Just click on the cover picture below and it will take you straight to the item to download it from my TpT store. The blog post has links to the books I mention in the file.

I wish you lots of luck as you set up your classrooms and get ready for the little minds that will be with you this year!

Saturday, August 1, 2015

August Currently

Can you believe it's already August and time for Farley's monthly Currently linky?

  • I am listening to Celebrity Family Feud. Not a fan, but I'm not in control of the remote.
  • I am loving the dinner we had. Grilled ribeye steaks, corn on the cob, green beans, and fruit salad. Banana pudding poke cake for dessert. So yummy!
  • I'm thinking about writing. I'm working on some products for TpT that will help with writing personal narratives.
  • I am wanting nothing. I'm very happy nowadays.
  • I am needing organization. I'm working on a system to help me keep track of blogging and business.
  • RAK - I donated some supplies that I am not using to my last campus for the principal to use as door prizes. 

Now go visit Farley's blog and check out the other posts this month! Don't forget the Rule of Three.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Getting Started With Reading Workshop

I feel very sorry for the students I had when I first started teaching. Despite one whole class in college on teaching reading, I had no clue what to do. I think they learned despite me, not because of me. I knew what I was trying to do wasn't right, so I kept searching for the perfect answer. My journey took me from a basal reader to whole language to whole class books and ended with reading workshop.

Why did I feel reading workshop was the right answer?
  • My students were reading at their own ability levels.
  • Students are able to choose the books they are interested in, which motivates them to read more.
  • Students can read at their own pace.
  • Students apply the instruction from the mini-lesson in the context of their own reading, making them successful.
I got started with the idea of reading workshop (I was already using writing workshop thanks to some fabulous professional development) with this book. It's out of print now and there are much better resources available, but it gave me the idea that I could have students reading different books and still be able to teach the skills and concepts required by my curriculum.

These days, I recommend the following resources for anyone who is implementing readers workshop.

This book is a wonderful resource for teachers in grades 3-5. It includes lessons for the first 20 days of starting with independent reading. 

I am an unabashed Lucy Calkins fan. This book is key to understanding the underlying principals of reading workshop. 

Laura Candler is a fabulous teacher/blogger. In addition to lessons to get you started, this book has some wonderful forms and lesson ideas that will enhance your reading workshop.

I struggled at first with conferring with students. I was used to checking for understanding by giving a quiz. In reading workshop, I needed to meet with my students and hold a conference to determine if they were "getting" what they were reading. I developed these two products to help.

The first is my Conferring Cards. These cards provide questions to help you have meaningful conversations with your students about what they are reading. They include questions about features of both fiction and non-fiction texts. I printed, laminated, and stored them on a binder ring. I carried these with me as I conferred, and I was never again stuck for a way to interact with my kiddos during conferences.

The next product is my Note-taking Form for Conferring in Reader's Workshop. This form is designed for you to record anecdotal data gathered during your conferences. I printed one for each student and kept them in a binder. Each day I pulled the forms for my targeted students and carried them on a clipboard as I met. These forms provided information for mini-lessons I needed to teach or strategy groups I needed to pull. I found these forms extremely valuable when talking with parents and when referring students for intervention.

 Each photo is linked to the product described so that you can click and go read more information.

I hope this information is useful. Do you have a favorite book about reading workshop not listed here? Please tell me about it in the comments!

Monday, July 20, 2015

Monday Made It - Clipboard

I'm excited to link up with 4th Grade Frolics! It's been a while since I made anything, but I was inspired this week!

I wanted a cute clipboard to house my planning materials for my blog and TpT store. I've made many of these before and think they are easy. Here's what I did...

I started with a plain brown clipboard and used a cheap foam brush to paint the whole front and about two inches all the way around the edges of the back with black acrylic paint. The paper will cover the part that isn't painted on the back. I gave it 2 good coats. I left the front all black because my materials will get clipped onto the front.

Next I made a graphic using my blog elements and printed it on card stock. (Card stock doesn't bubble as much as lightweight copy paper does when you apply the Mod Podge.)I used spray adhesive on the back of the card stock and then smoothed it onto the back of the clipboard.

Then I applied 2 coats of Mod Podge (I prefer the matte finish) with a cheap foam brush, letting it dry several hours between coats.

Finally, I applied matte spray acrylic sealer to protect the paint and Mod Podge finish.

The finishing touch was adding ribbons to the clip.

Here's the finished product!