Thursday, July 24, 2014

"Til Next Time...

Actually, just until the first weekend of August!

I went back to school this past Tuesday and it has been a WONDERFUL week of PD.

I love seeing old and new faces & learning how we're going to make this year even better than the last.

I don't plan on blogging for the next 8 days because I'm going straight from school tomorrow to head to the airport to attend THIS! 

I'm taking a course on Close Reading this weekend, the summit starts on Monday, and I'm presenting on Wednesday morning. Although I've really enjoyed the process of working with the foundation and preparing the presentation, I'm itching to focus on my new caseload of students. I feel like I'll be able to "officially" start the new school year on Wednesday at 12 noon (Houston time). Yay!

I don't expect to be blogging too much (or at all) when I'm out of town, 
so please follow me on Instagram for the latest!

Ill leave you with my latest Instagram pic ♥

I also wanted to here to see everyone who joined my linky party:

It's not too late to add your link!

Have a wonderful week & see you in August!

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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Wishlist Wednesday!

Happy Wednesday!

I hope all these consecutive blogposts count...I headed back to school yesterday and I can already see what's coming up on the horizon :)

Thank you for all the happy thoughts yesterday on my instagram!

For Wishlist Wednesday, I'm highlighting one of my favorite activities (& most wish-listed):

Long and Short Sort - $3.50  $1.75

This packet includes colorful sorting mats and both picture and text cards to sort by long or short vowel. This activity is PERFECT for back to school! We spend so much time working with phonics sound/spelling, but sometimes our students' struggles are not with the spellings (visual), but with the phonemic awareness (auditory). This packet includes 60 sorting cards! I learn so much about where my students' strengths and areas of need are from incorporating this activity. Plus, they think it's fun :)

Here's a closer look:

Have a wonderful Wednesday!

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Tuesday, July 22, 2014

B2S and Book Linky!

Today is my first day back to school!

I thought it was only fitting to join 
Third in Hollywood's first linky party!

   photo 90198fcc-6ece-4d52-a93b-743a1c6f011b.jpg

Just click the button above to read everyone's great ideas!
I will be starting with a student teacher from the very first day of school. I plan on having him or her help me take a baseline of what our new firsties can do. It's actually a really great way to build relationships and our students LOVE being called back for their turn to "show what they know."

The assessment I perform is not too rigorous and most rising kindergarteners should be able to experience success with it, but it still gives me a heads-up just in case the summer slump hit particularly hard.

I printed out all the cards and recording pages 
(copied double-sided) and stored it in  poly zipper envelope. I use it every year and together, my student teacher (last year) and I got through the first grade classrooms in just over one week. There are 56 pages and the packet is only $3.00!

I'm also joining Mrs. Jump's Class Book Linky:

What is your favorite back to school read-aloud?

I love the tried and true First Day Jitters and also Chrysanthemum:

But this school year, I think I'm going to try something new
(to me):

We don't implement the program at our school, but I still would like to share the habits with the students I'm working with. Has anyone incorporated this book or The Leader in Me? I'd love to hear what you think!

Have a terrific Tuesday!

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Monday, July 21, 2014

Monday Made It!

Happy Monday (a.k.a. my last day of summer break!)!

I want to share two things I'm excited about.

The first is my Monday Made It: 

I've been wanting to link up with Tara forever, but there was one little problem...I'm not crafty, at all! Luckily I totally have accepted this and now know not to spend money on supplies for a Pinterest project (or recipe), because I can already predict the outcome :)

This Monday Made It is a little different though because it didn't cost me anything! I've already posted about spraying my "vintage" teacher desk with chalkboard paint. I had plenty of paint leftover and found this wooden caddy in my basement. It's been holding random hardware things for about 15 years. 

Here's what I did to it:

I used the chalkboard paint, a little washi tape, and sticker-label. 
Darn it, I forgot the black & white cute ribbon - you'll have to picture it :)

I'm not exactly sure if I'm going to use it or not. 
Maybe I can create a writing station with it? 

I also wanted to share a solution to a problem I was having:

It's a tiny little speaker that you can hook your phone (or any music source) to. I'm playing music at my presentation next week & was pleasantly surprised how loud this played! It will be very handy for brain breaks and other classroom musical activities. It's from IHome and I picked it up at Target for $19.99.

Gotta get back to business, tomorrow morning will arrive before I know it!

Have a wonderful week :)

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Sunday, July 20, 2014

HB Freebie & #teacherhack Linky!

Happy Weekend!

Today is my birthday and I've been saving this post ALL summer for this day!

Summer break here was very short and sweet - June 18th-July 21st. Yup, I go back Tuesday!

I knew going in that it was going to be the shortest summer on record and this is after a huge year of implementing Common Core full-force (lots of late nights!). My main goal for my summer projects:

Make My Life EASIER!

Not exactly "easier," because I definitely don't mind working hard. I think a better word is "manageable." Basically...I cannot have a repeat of last year :)

Enter my new fave word: HACK

If you've been anywhere near me these last few weeks, you'd have heard me drop this word at least a dozen times per conversation. What is a hack? Let's learn what my trusty Urban Dictionary has to say:

I have sooooo many projects  I wanted to complete this summer, but really stayed focus on which ones would help me the most throughout the upcoming school year.

One HUGE #teacherhack I completed and REALLY excited about is my high frequency words packet:

One of my roles as a special educator for first grade is assembling a differentiated homework packet. This packet is NOT easier in content, but may feature easier-to-read formats and/or a reduced amount of work. One non-negotiable item that is included in ALL homework packets for our firsties is our school's scope and sequency for high frequency (FRY) words. Every first grader is responsible for mastering Fry Words 201-400 and follow the same outline of weekly practice. The only difference for sight word practice in the differentiated packet is formatting (more white space, larger font) and the fluency sentences (written using previously learned sight words and/or phonics skills for easier access). 

Because this is a RIGOROUS scope and sequence and not for the faint of heart, I'm offering it as a flash freebie for you to take a look!

Why is this a #teacherhack?

I constructed this packet week-by-week last biggie, but between finding the time to write the fluency sentences, print, and copy (finding a working copier is the most time-consuming part!) took at least 30 minutes. Every week. That's 1020 minutes overall! 1020 minutes I could be on Facebook, stalking blogs, napping... This year all I will have to do is hit "print!" YAY!!!

I'm also working on lifehacks to help my house run smoother..this is still a work in progress, but one secret I have that I learned from my sister a l-o-n-g time ago: store cleaning supplies  on every floor of your house, vs. just one central area. My house is three floors, so I have a cute little basket full of basic cleaning supplies in my downstairs bathroom, under the kitchen sink on our main floor, and upstairs in the master bathroom. It makes it so much easier to spend 5 minutes "maintenance" cleaning, than a heavy duty ordeal.

What's your hack?

Please link up to share! It can be a #teacherhack (idea, freebie, or paid product) or lifehack. Anything that helps "reduce the chaos" and contributes to being present in the moment (my goal in life!).

Just right-click the image below to paste into your blogpost, or link up a TPT product.

I can't wait to read your ideas!

This post is also linked up with the fantastic Classroom Freebies!
Please click the link below to see more :)

Classroom Freebies Manic Monday
I'm also linking up with Fabulous in First for Sunday Smorgasboard:
Have a wonderful day!
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Friday, July 18, 2014

Five for Friday: Updates!

This may be the shortest, sweetest Five for Friday post because typing on blogger seems to be impossible this morning! 
Is anyone else having trouble? 

Don't mind me if mY ty ing srts lkng like ths!

1.It's "Go!" Time - as in, go back to work! I return on Tuesday.
Everyday this week has been filled with errands, including:

Getting my car detailed! 
My car is only a year old & now that I had it all detailed, it's "brand new" again!  There was no reason to take this picture except sheer boredom - they spent f-o-r-e-v-e-r on it!

2. Appointments!
Dentist, eyeglasses, doctor, oil change...what am I missing? 
I also got my hair done:

It's difficult to tell, but I actually got my hair darkened. Seriously. My hair is very, very intent on being beach-blonde, which is not exactly the professional look I'm going for. I had lowlights put in!

3.Cool Makeover
I'm not the only one busy updating and giving my products "makeovers." Check out this new bus stop on my street:

I report back to work on Tuesday Professional Development, which is wonderful, but intense at my school!), and then I leave from work Friday to head to Houston for an entire week! Yikes! It's been tough to plan outfits and all my healthy eats. I'm headed to White House Black Market in a few to pick up a couple dresses - they are truly the easiest to pack & take up only minimal space. Which is terrific & much appreciated because I need room for all this:

Snacks (& caffeine!)

5. I just did 2 huge updates at my store...more pages, cuter (in my opinion) fonts and graphics, & more! Same great price & if you've already purchased either one (thank you!), you can go to your downloads to get the update! 

Positively Learning

I've used this Font Sort  for so much more than uppercase/lowercase matching! I hate to admit it, but the number one way I use this is for "brain breaks" The sorting has a serious calming effect & my students can easily be successful. I updated several fonts (which was so much fun) and added more sorting mats. 
It's still only $3.50!

My other big upgrade is my Letter of the Day Packet! Please download the preview here to receive 2 free pages! I also added an Animal Alphabet book that can be used for sight word practice and as a student/class book!

I'd love to share more, but Blogger won't let me :(
This whole post took me about a hour to type!

I'm off to go shopping for more last-minute B2S items and my next upgrade: Number of the Day!

Have a fantastic Friday!
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Thursday, July 17, 2014

Bonding & TBT (Plus a Freebie!)

Do you number bond?

Of course, you do!
And so do our students...over and over, and over again!

This year I'm entering the math classroom armed and ready to tackle number bonds from the word "Go!" I spent the last few weeks putting the finishing touches on a number bond idea I incorporated last year. As everything I share, these are definitely student-tested and approved!

A little back story...

Last year I made a BIG push for independence with my little guys. I also worked with a caseload that had varying strengths and areas of concern. In order to meet everyone's need, I incorporated many ideas from Guided Math. Idle time is my enemy, so I wanted to make sure my students were actively learning...even when I wasn't working directly with them. 

Enter: Assign Yourself Bags

You don't need a special bag to incorporate this idea, but I did find these awesome extras in the supply closet!

Do you recognize these from the Leveled Literacy Instruction kits (an interventionist's DREAM kit!)?

I found a set of these bags and use them for EVERYTHING! We had "Assign Yourself: Literacy Bags" filled with decodable mini-books, independent reading books, and maybe even a reading buddy. For math, I made seasonal number bond card sets with matching manipulatives. It was very easy to assemble and my students used and loved them (key word: USED!). 

And, yes, the success was most likely due to 

 1) the manipulatives were fun, and
2) they were getting confident in their 
ability to solve number bonds!


I searched my computer by date and found each set I created month-by-month over the past school year. I bundled them all up so they make sense to others and this is the final result!

Here's the complete bundle -  12 sets (+ 1 freebie) = 13 themed sets!

is 175 pages & only $5.00 in my store.

Here's a throwback post featuring a freebie set 
(it's a bonus set also included in the bundle)!


New Ideas: Independence Day!

Day Four of Blog Hoppin's week long linky is "New Ideas."

Every year I pick new priorities I want to focus on. 
It usually targets an area of growth, both for my students 
and myself as an educator:

                                                 Year 1 - survive
                                                 Year 2 - survive and begin returning 
                                                 phone calls to lost aquaintances
                                                 Year 3 - sharpen data collecting
                                                 Year 4 - figure out how to use all that 

                                                                   and so on...

This past summer I researched different ways to help my firsties foster independence. I set up "Brain Binders" based on Reagan Tunstall's amazing Rise and Shine Binder (I highly recommend it!). My students love having their own binder and I really dig the fact that the binder is serving as a portfolio of all their work! I adjusted a few of Reagan's pages to match my students' IEP objectives and I added a new cover because my students will access these binders all day long (versus during morning work):

 I also inserted pages from Reagan's Data and Learning Porfolio
Can you tell I stalk follow her store and blog?

Another idea I just started and so far loving is "Assign Yourself" independent math bags. I teach a small math group and we were working well together tackling the general education curriculum. Then a couple weeks ago...BAM! of my little guys just took off! Major light bulb moment and he hasn't looked back since! I'm so excited for him! It became necessary to differentiate our already small group even more. I decided on Guided Math (and Reagan uses it, too, lol!) and trying to wait patiently until Friday when all of these arrive:

Darn Amazon for those "Frequently Bought Together" options!

Because my students will not be physically moving away from the table to go to a math work station, I created these independent bags called "Assign Yourself." 

I found these wonderful canvas bags that came with an old F&P kit (free!). They come in bright colors and have a little plastic nameplate for the tag above. My students absolutely adore them!

They are simply filled with hands-on activities (i.e: task cards, matching card sets, manipulatives) that feature spiral review and/or fluency (a big concern for my friends). I used a dry erase crayon (doesn't rub off as easily) to write answers on the back. They have all solemnly sworn not to peek.

Our math lesson has Modeling, Guided Practice, and then Independent Practice (with me observing and checking in with individual students at the table). After the independent practice "Problem Set" is complete, the student may get their bag and choose their activity (there's usually 2-3). These activities are often also more "fun," like the holiday number bonds 
(click here to see more and grab your free turkey set!). 

How do you foster independence with your students? I'm always looking for purposeful activities that are engaging, yet also maximizing precious learning time. 

Be sure to check back with Blog Hoppin' to read more ideas!

Have a wonderful Thursday!

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