Monday, July 21, 2014

A little about Twitter...#TeacherFriends Twitter Chat is Tuesday!!!

To clear up time zone confusion, here is a little map I made too! 
I have met so many wonderful people since our #TeacherFriends twitter chats began, and this Tuesday will be phenomenal!!! Debbie Clement has lined up a surprise guest (#Smorgie, #MrGlitter, #Presenter) who will knock your socks off as usual!  I hope you can join us! Here are a few tips to help you tweet more effectively.  We are striving to hold meaningful chats that stay focused/on message.  The following information may be of some help:

To read MORE about tools that make tweet chats more user friendly, go to Kristen's blog and read about Tweet Deck and other useful tips! 

Blog Button 2014 photo blogbutton.jpg
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Saturday, July 19, 2014

Another "Cushy" Bright Idea! It's time for July's Bright Ideas Linky!

Here we are again, and the summer is quickly flying by! We will be in the classroom very soon! Sigh...
This month, I want to share another repurpose idea that is so easy.  Reading Center cushions.
Do you have some old ratty pillows lying around from sofas that have long left your home? I just sent
the last of my living room set, which, by the way, I loved with some nice guys from our local sheltered workshop! It was called the Chesapeake Collection, and the piece I will miss the most is the huge ottoman that was host to many little diaper changes when our grandsons were newborn. I was so sad to see it leave because it was the first set of furniture we purchased after building our new house seven years ago.  Sob...I know, I digress.
I decided to keep the throw pillows because they are large, and perfect for repurposing for my reading corner at school.  And...they are FREE!!!
You can find pillow "blanks" for stuffing into your covers, but if you have old bed pillows that you can cut to fit (1 king size pillow will make 2 pillows), then I recommend saving your money.  After all, these pillows will have little people sitting on them--that is all.  :) I will post photos of my new improved pillows next week after the big anniversary celebration at my house is over (hubby's parents' 60th!!!), but for this post, I am sharing a wonderful how-to video from youtube, and a pic of the colors I will be using.  LOVE! 
Now, as part of a 12-step program that I call "Be Proud of Your Old Stuff", I am clinching my teeth and showing you the "horribleness" of the old pillows I will be making new again.  You may need eye protection! Beware!
As you can see, this was a really popular fabric during the "traditional" style furniture phase a few years ago.  Now, clean lines and color blocking are the thing, so modern.  The replacement for my furniture is from Wayfair, and it is also traditional.  I cannot cross over to the modern side, at least not yet.                                                                          

Because I have had a sewing machine since age 16, I will be making simple slip covers and sewing the ends--my own way.  The following video is a very polished, easy way to accomplish the same thing.
My pillows will be blue/white and orange/white to pair with my sports themed room.  The fabric comes from Hobby Lobby.

Ok, if you survived viewing the old pillows and are ready to go find something old to repurpose, take a moment to see what else is possible by visiting one the following blogs participating in our Bright Ideas Linky.  I hope you enjoyed my post!
 See the top of my blog page for links!

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Monday, July 14, 2014

How to Go Home Management, Monday Made-It, and a Freebie!
So, how do you get your students ready for departure each day? Is it handy, and can it be changed out quickly? Here are my Monday Made-It tips for easy management of departure time:
I make three signs with a ribbon width of laminated card stock hanging from each, then I hang clothespins that are labeled with student names (for this pic I used my numbered clothespins--don't want to share my class list yet!)from it.  The secret to making it quick is to use a pretty ribbon to hang the signs, but use stiff laminated card stock to attach clothespins to.  One hand action is much easier.  Ribbon is too flimsy. 
If a sudden change happens at the end of the day, for instance, if a bus student is going to be picked up by a parent, I can easily move the clip to that sign's ribbon.  It makes line-up time way easier, and I can write an extra label and stick it on the student really fast as we leave if need be! Keep peel and stick labels close to your classroom door.
   Items used in this project:  x-large clothespins from Walmart (thanks hubby), and the cute freebie signs you can download below!
 The companion packet that I use along with this management system is my Editable How to Get Home Packet that you can find by clicking on the pic below.  Just add your own information, print, laminate, punch a hole and attach with a mini-ziptie from Dollar Tree to the handle of the student backpack.  My kids like to collect these tags through the year as the seasons change :).

And last but not least! My friends from Freebilicious have put together this massive, did I say MASSIVE packet of back to school items just perfect for your classroom centers.  Print and set up, and you're done! Love this! If you want a closer look click on the picture!
  Now, go over to visit the Monday Made-It Linky for more wonderful ideas!!! (button at the top of this post)

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Monday, July 7, 2014

What's my Monday Made-It? Spinners, QRs and a FREEBIE!

 I have been very busy this past week working on organizing all of the things I have to put up or get ready in my classroom for the beginning of the year, because...I am excited to be having our family over for my in-law's 60th anniversary! How cool is that? We just celebrated our 38th year, but a 60th? Wow! 
So...what have I been up to?  Well...I just want to share a WONDERFUL packet that I have been printing and laminating this week.  Marsha from A Differentiated Kindergarten has these super fun spinner packets in her store that are one of the first things my kids run to during centers.  Last week, she published her latest pack that is all about letters and sounds with TONS, ton, tons of games to keep your little ones busy during your reading rotation.  Win-win is what I call THAT! If you want to grab  one for yourself, just click on the picture! You will not be disappointed! 
Here are just a few things from the set already laminated, and a bulldog photobomb (Mozart was wanting to play with his bone--butt wiggles and jumping was a major distraction for the photographer, lol).  


Something else I made this week is a little sign to put on the wall by my door for Open House Night. It's a fabulous idea for easily sharing your contact information with parents in QR style! Love this! The article by Spencer Althouse at Buzzfeed is great! There are some more ideas you may find useful, but this one was my favorite! Click on the pic to go to the article at Buzzfeed.


Another thing I have been working on is featured as my freebie this week! It's an editable desk plate and bus tag for my classroom featuring Whimsy Workshop's cute sports clip art! Grab it by clicking on the picture! I hope you enjoy your freebie. :)

Now go and see what everyone else has been doing on Monday Made-It! Lots of great ideas! 
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Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Happy Independence Day Week! A Giveaway, a SALE, and What's Tweetchat?

This date 35 years ago I became a mom! My first son was born early in the morning after a lengthy labor.  He has been a joy in my life from day one, and now he is a father to three little boys of his own.  Time goes so quickly! I should have known
then that my life's calling would be teaching young children.  How can you not love being around five-year-olds? They are brand new to academia, and ready to face challenges on many levels.  The key word in that previous sentence is "challenge".  It is imperative that we challenge our students to perform to the very height of their potential! We owe it to them to make EVERY day a day of fun, of intrigue from asking the right questions and of LEARNING.  That learning can be something incredible, or it can be a stair step along the way to something really big.  Whatever we do with each day will make or break an opportunity to learn.  I wake up every day and think to myself, "I must do my best to make them smile while they learn, because happy learning is learning that sticks.  Make the learning stick!"
How can this be accomplished each day? By looking at each child as though they were the only child in the room.  Listen intently, and respond in a way they understand.  Kids are really smart when it comes to feeling respected by the adults in charge of them.  Talk to them, not over them.  
I am working this week on planning a schedule that allows me to work with every group of readers every day.  As the year progresses I will work more intensively with those who need extra support, and switch to making reading for my on and above level kids all about strategies.  When taught the proper "hook" as they read, students will use strategies and become more fluent readers.  For students who need that additional support, we will play lots of games that require thinking about sound placement in words, and we'll write to record our progress.
I have an idea for your guided groups this coming year:  Make a little notepad for each quarter for students to record the written part of their guided group lessons.  You will see loads of progress by the end of each grading period.  Just cut old copy paper in fourths and staple together--it's not fancy, and it recycles excess copy paper.  Here is my first "thoughts" schedule for the new year.  I know the times will be tweaked, and the groups will be manipulated to fit in those who need more intervention, but it's a start! 

What am I doing this week? I'm re-covering my bucket seat cushions with a pretty primary blue.  
Round Plastic Royal Blue Table Cover, 84"
And what else is going on? I'm having a quick 4th of July SALE at TpT! If you are beginning to plan for instruction or decorating with purpose, I've got you covered! 

 And if you are a novice when it comes to Twitter, come on over to our Twitter chat practice tonight at 9:00 EST.  It is going to be moderated by a really fun lady, our own Debbie Clement, aka Kweezlequeen! Here is the information for the chat, and all teachers are welcome to participate.  
 Just put #TeacherFriends in the search bar on your Twitter account, and direct each comment you make by ending it with the same hashtag #TeacherFriends.  Be sure to introduce yourself! There are NO mistakes with this chat.  We are all trying to learn how to have a meaningful interaction with other teachers, so don't be shy!

Now, if you click on my Facebook icon, you'll see what I am giving away on the 4th.  It is one of my favorite products, and it lasts all year long! 
Go to Maggie's Facebook Page
And here is the FREEBIE! A cute little poster to help your littles remember b and d directionality. :)
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Wednesday, June 25, 2014

What's your FUN Find? Look at this!

I took a little road trip with hubby to a nearby town with a Walmart, and just look at what I found! 
These little babies were under a dollar! Now, what to do with them? Well, that's easy.  I will be loading them for extra practice writing friends' names, writing the alphabet correctly, writing sight words and more! 
And here is a free template for creating your own
student name book to practice friends' names! There are 24 pages that can be loaded front and back in these little albums, and the plastic protector is slick (as opposed to textured).  Dry-erase markers will wipe off sooo easily! Love this because I use the slick sheet protectors for my name toolkits too!
Click the pic to grab your copy of this "editable".

And, look at these cute journals! I found them in the stationary aisle at Walmart too.  They were just under $3.  Because they are black, I get to 
write on them with a chalkboard marker (removable with water)! These cuties will be in my writing center.  One will be for writing about our "Owies", another will be for "Our Most Favorite Things", and another will be "Our Compliment Journal".  These will be choice journals the whole class can use! I can't wait to put them out for student use!

What else did I find, did you ask? Well...ta-dahhhhh! This beautiful chevron tote! No, I did not find this at Wally-world, but I did find it at one of my favorite clothing merchants:  Cato Fashions
This cute bag was under $20, and it is purr-fect for my 17" laptop computer! I have been cripling along with a bag that I bought three years ago.  I acutally had punched new holes for the snap clips on the shoulder strap just to be able to carry it back and forth the school.  Yes, I take my laptop every day.  I am so paranoid about needing a file that may not be on my school computer.  We live in a rural area with slow internet, so Dropbox and other online storage are not a fast option for me.  Love this tote!
And, I have a FABULOUS Fan Freebie on my Facebook fan page if you are a follower.  If you are a Journeys 2014 teacher, and you hate looking at tiny print in the teacher's edition like I do, you will love the Letter Formation Poem and Letter Guide set that is posted there.  Just like my page, then click on Maggie's Fan Freebie
Please note:  Letter Zz poems were not in the online TE, so I will be updating those later.
I love comments! Let me know how you use mini-photo albums! I am so excited to add these to our writing centers.
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Saturday, June 21, 2014

What's YOUR Morning Sign-In routine? Do you use a sign in book?

The reason for my question relates to giving students daily opportunities to sign their name, to follow an "I Can" regimen and become responsible for their learning time during morning arrival time.
Each day, students arrive, sign-in and go to breakfast right away.  They can see the steps on our first I-Can chart that is located on the end of my closet by the door. (click on the pick to grab it).

This is the sign-in book sheet I will be using this year.  You can click on a picture to grab a free copy for yourself if you like this idea. :)  The sign-in sheet itself is not themed, but the poster for the wall is from my sports theme for the coming year.  Student photos can go in the little boxes, and you can edit the numbers if you have a larger class and need two sheets of paper per day.  

When they return during the first few months of school, the very first task is to practice making and writing their names at least 5x before putting the activity away.  I have "toolkits" ready in half-gallon size zipper-seal bags.  Students grab the bags from their reading tub (where we store the bags), and go to tables to begin work.  
Name kits include:
1.  Sheet protector page with dotted font first/last
2.  In the back of the same sheet protector, a 
     card stock template with spaces for the letter
     tiles that make their names to be placed in
     sequential order.  
3.  A piece of felt and a dry erase marker.
Students are to trace their name on the front of the
sheet protector page (5 names to trace), then they are to flip it over, dump the letter tiles that make their names and begin practice ordering the letters in their first and last name.  They are to rearrange the letters and make the names 5x, then the entire name toolkit can be put away.  They grab our morning work and get started on it after name work is finished.  These are various things I have made and use daily throughout the year for our name toolkit (all are in my TpT shop).

And here is a freebie I posted earlier this week:
This all happens from 7:45-8:45 each morning.  Students have time to complete work after breakfast, and I have time to listen to readers or help writers during our work time.  We begin our reading block at 8:45.  
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June's Bright Ideas Linky is Here! Let's go PORTABLE!

   Bright Ideas Blog Hop - Organizing Your Thoughts To Get A Better Night's Sleep By Fern Smith of Fern Smith's Classroom Ideas.
If you are like me, no matter how larger or small the classroom's never big enough! I find myself longing for more wall space for more pocket charts, interactive walls, etc.  This is why I began to use portable chart stands made from 3 ring binders a few years ago.  Why do I love them?
1.  You can set them up in a flash!
2.  They can be reloaded easily as the year 
3.  Did I say you can set up in a flash??? :)

I use two types the most.  The first one is for my Math station rotation.  I have it set up with four
station types:
     1.  Work with the Teacher
     2.  Learn with Friends (games)
     3.  Math Journal
     4.  Math Tub Centers 

Math Groups are numbered, so each day I just rotate the numbers to the next station, have the kids to check in, then choose tubs, grab journals, or pick 3 other people to play a game.  This is how I work stations all year long.  Tubs are reloaded with new
seasonal (or more difficult) tasks as the year progresses.  Students know how to mark their spot in their journals so they find the next page and get started.  Students who meet with me will meet the entire station time.  This is separate from our whole group math instruction.  It works, and I can keep the portable stand near where I work to help me remember where to find students.  Here is a pic of the setup for the math portable (notice I have it standing like an open book.  (not like a tent)

My other favorite portables are the ones I use with each table group/2 portables per group.  I plan to have them loaded with our alphabet chart and numbers to 10 until December.
 Then I'll reload with the alphabetical word wall and numbers to 20 (picture shows another option of alphabet chart and alphabetical word wall). 

By December, most students know the alphabet chart letters and sounds, however for those who need more support, I have them to keep chartlets in their reading tubs (gotta cover the bases).  
Making these portable stands isn't rocket science.  Just flip the binder inside out, then secure with velcro tape at the bottom (or you can have students to place them on non-slip shelf lining (approximately 6"x12").  If you use a temporary fastener or a non-slip mat, you can close them for storage at the end of the year.  Yeah, I am already thinking about the end of next year! Students can carry the stand and the non-slip material where they need it if a job requires group work.  For the side of the binder that does not have rings, (if you want the binder to be 2-sided in order for students sitting across the table to use the other side) just slip the laminated sheet in the clear pocket on the back, or hot-glue binder clips to that side.  Office Depot Brand Binder Clips Medium
My students use this system a lot since it is located where they work, and saves them from changing their focus to search a big wall that can really confuse little minds (transfer is a skill they really do not acquire well until 3rd grade).  
Well, that's it! That's my easy little Bright Idea for June! If you enjoyed this Bright Idea, consider following me on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter (found at the top of my blog).  
For more Bright Ideas from more than 100 different bloggers, please browse through the link-up below and choose a topic/grade level that interests you.  Thanks for visiting! Also, be sure to scroll down to the previous post on creating a letter stamping  center using ice cube trays, a binder, letter stickers and non-slip shelf liner.  These can stay out all year, but also can be portable when you need them to be!
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