Friday, July 3, 2015

5 for Friday: July 3rd

Happy 5 for Friday!

I hope you're getting ready to have a fantastic weekend with family and friends.

Today I'm excited to share about an activity my students did at the end of the year and would be PERFECT for rainy summer day fun!

Please hop over to the Ellison Education Blog to get the scoop!

I finally got into my summer groove this week and tried out a few projects...with mixed results:

The 1st project was "easy," lol. We LIVE by these little signs on busy mornings...Tuesday is recycle and Thursday is trash. And if you forget in Baltimore City? Good luck with that ;)

Somehow our old signs went out with the trash, so this was a redo! 
Cute, classic, and a little off-centered.

I had such HIGH hope for this project! I tried out one arrow and gave up. Chalkboard paint to the rescue! Any guesses on what I'm using these for? 

Back to what I feel comfortable with...assembling. Here's a picture of materials for a themed sensory box. Any guesses on which book? No peeking at my IG! 

I worked on one more project I'm REALLY excited about! I'm all about the clean look of black and white with a few bright primary colors. This year, I may branch out to add a few burlap accents:

I took a break from the project and checked my email...and saw this! I was in The Ellison Connection! They have been such a blast to work with this year AND they will be in Vegas! 
I can't wait to see them ♥

Have a wonderful Friday! Thanks for reading :)

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Wednesday, July 1, 2015

A Gritty Wishlist Wednesday!

Welcome to Wishlist Wednesday!

This is my first-time participating as a blogger...
many times as a buyer :)

Thank you Jen from Teacher by the Beach for hosting!

Today I'm featuring a packet that's near & dear to my teaching ♥

If you were following me last summer, you may remember I was working on a big presentation on student data notebooks. 

This packet was the result of trying out different tracking formats with my students over the past two years!

Here's a closer look:

And because today is July 1st!

Thanks Farley for linking us up!
I hope to meet you at #tptvegas15!

I can explain my "Currently" :)

Listening - I know it's cheesy, but I ♥ this song!

Loving - yikes, this show is my new obsession. I love that I can listen to it while working. I can't believe I haven't had a nightmare yet! I'm on Season One Episode 11.

Thinking - this week it finally hit me that #tptvegas15 is really happening. I'm incredibly nervous and excited! At conferences, I'm always the geek with the glasses, flair pens, and notebook. I have to remember to socialize!

Wanting - soooo, I've been writing this e-book on my experience with sensory bins, but then I keeping getting stuck on the format. I could add themed vocabulary cards I used with the bins, or should I write it as a "how-to" book? Or both? I have a year's worth of recollections waiting to be organized and shared. Any thoughts?

Needing - I'm halfway through the bundle and printing/laminating as I go! SO much work, but I'm also super-psyched for the school year with all my phonics plans DONE!

ALL-STAR - If you ever need a push to workout, I'm your girl! I will always say "go for it!" I'll be working out at the Venetian every morning (early!) - will I see you there?!?

Thanks for reading! Jen

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Monday, June 29, 2015

Monday Roll Call!

Happy Monday!
Ready to start my 3rd week on summer break!

The title "Roll Call" is a little bit of blogger humor...without my students providing all the entertainment, I'm grasping a bit here...

So here's what I had on my camera "roll," get it? :)

Yesterday was a picture-perfect day at Camden Yards!

Random fact: I live 2 blocks from this AWESOME city park - learn more about it here. We are so lucky! This picture was from sitting at a red light at 5:00 am. Not a great photo, but it does show how GREEN everything is from all the rain. 

Oh my, I have a love-hate relationship with this show! 

I watched the 1st episode last week and kinda freaked out. Not like I'm planning on going to prison, but I was little worried about having nightmares. I quickly switched it to Breakfast at Tiffany's (for the 100th viewing). Then for some reason, I watched Episode 2. Then 3, 4, 5, 6...Now I'm hooked! And still totally freaked out!

This week is called "Appointment Week." Boo!

I have doctor (today!), car, hair, dentist, and eye doctor. Because I'm being quite the baby about all this, I'm strategically mapping it out. My doctor's office is by Ikea, my dentist is near Chipolte...does anyone else do this? I swear I'd never get grocery shopping done if there wasn't a Starbucks at the entryway to lure me in.

In between appointments, I'm hoping to wrap up this Phonics Bundle before Vegas! It's "due" by July 31st, but I want it completed and printed for my little guys much sooner than that.

Here's my checklist...slowly, but surely making progress!


I'm taking my time, but I'm REALLY excited about it! 

Every packet (there's 32!) includes my "bread and butter" activities for phonics, plus they MIX & MATCH with each other (woohoo!).

I'm also putting a creative & original spin on the standard phonics skills all of our students need to know. For example, my "Thriller" and "Kung Fu" packets:

Just wait until you see the "sh" packet - it's VERY original, lol!

Have a fantastic week! Jen

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Friday, June 26, 2015

5 for Colorful Friday!

Happy Five for Friday!

Thank you Kacey for hosting every week!

Today I have a project posted over at Ellison Education's blog!

Here's a quick sneak peek :)

Treat bags!

What I really need to do is take a video of how quickly I made these using my Superstar-Allstar machine...maybe 2 minutes?? Classroom set-up is going to be EPIC this year using it!

Today wraps up the first full week of summer and I've been busy checking off my to-do list, like updating my running playlist:

Thanks Kelly!

 I've also created a schedule for myself to finish 
my growing Phonics Bundle!

This weekend I'll be uploading the FIVE new phonics packets I've finished given a "make-over" to this week and adding to the bundle. The price will go up at least $6.00 this weekend, too, and keep inching up to the full price by July 31st.

I also managed a "quick" trip to Target, 
where I spotted this pack:

Great idea Crayola!

Luckily, I was able to resist purchasing this packet, 
because I knew in the depths of my basement I had this:

Just add a Netflix movie and you get this:

Now I need to find a great storage unit so my students can independently find exactly what they need!

Quick question - I could use some advice!

Have you used ESGI? I tried the 60 day free trial and HIGHLY recommend it! I loved it so much that I'm thinking of signing up for the year, but I'd love to hear your thoughts. I found it easy to create my own assessments, but I didn't have an easy time accessing the assessments that were already created...I admit to not spending a ton of time with it, or maybe it wasn't part of the free trial. 

I'd love to be talk into or out of it :)
Please leave a comment to share your experiences!

Thanks for reading! Have a fantastic Friday :)

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Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Teaching with Intention: Classroom Culture

Happy Wednesday!

Welcome to the Teaching with Intention Summer Book Study!

Please click on the button below (our wonderful host!) to read everyone's thoughtful contributions to Chapters 1-3 of 
Teaching with Intention by Debbie Miller.

The Kindergarten Smorgasboard

Today we are tackling Chapter 4: Classroom Culture

I'm pretty darn excited to be co-hosting with Schroeder Shenanigans in Second, a blogger I've long stalked followed :)
Be sure to visit her for her insights!

Schroeder Shenanigans In 2nd

I'm also thrilled to be sharing about Classroom Culture. It's a topic I think about often, as it is always evolving throughout the school year.  To me, strong classroom culture isn't something you can necessarily "see," but you can definitely"feel" it the moment your enter into a room full of engaged students.

In this chapter, Debbie Miller stresses the importance of setting a classroom culture where students feel willing to take on the
"heavy lifting."

She provides examples of successful interactions where students felt valued and were willing to take the risk of pushing their thinking. It is obvious that promoting thinking in this manner will require laying the groundwork from the very start...and this chapter is FULL of thoughtful suggestions.

As I read and re-read this chapter while reflecting on my own teaching philosophy and experiences (don't we all do that?!?),
I kept coming back to the idea of ratio:

Reflect: What is your current student-talk to teacher-talk ratio?

Is it 50/50? 70/30? 80/20?

Goal: What do you think is an ideal (& realistic) goal?

It may look different with older/younger students!

Action: What next steps will you take to reach your goal?

This chapter is full of ideas and inspiration, including examples of using explicit modeling ("putting our thinking on display") to promote more student-talk. 

A painfully wonderful way to get a clear picture on classroom culture in your classroom is to have someone video your teaching interactions with your students. It's not for the faint of heart :)

When you're feeling brave, go ahead and watch!

What are you saying (verbal and body language)?

What messages are your students hearing?

What messages do you want your students to hear?

As I was reflecting on this chapter, I saw this timely message:

In this chapter, Debbie Miller shares "Something to Try," including thinking about the words we choose and the messages they send. She lists TONS of questions we can immediately put to use until we find our own voice. 

I also put together an "Accountable Talk" reference page to encourage our students :)

There's just so much more information to share and I hope you join the conversation! Please follow the links below and add your own. Thanks! Jen

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Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Must Read: Friendly Books

Happy Tuesday!

I know the cute photo above says "Monday," so let's just pretend :)

Thank you to Kindergarten Planet and The Kindergarten Connection for hosting a linky near and dear to my teaching heart!

There's already so many wonderful titles shared, 
so I'm going to try to add some new faves.

I dare you not to tear up reading this to a group of little ones! 
Every. single. time.

I know this book is about so much more than friendship, but it definitely covers this category, too. This past spring we read it and explored this sensory bin (question cards were inserted):

This was a new-to-me book this year and quickly became a classic. I referenced Tara West's Close Reading Lesson Plans - she included so many fantastic questions!

Fantastic book! I'm a special educator working in two first grade inclusion classrooms. This past school year, I worked with four students with autism. I visited both classrooms during the week and read several books about autism. The read alouds led to thoughtful conversations from the first graders! Another book I recommend is My Friend Has Autism by Amanda Doering Tourville.

AND...because it's Tuesday, I'm also linking up with Teach.Talk.Inspire and My Day in K (♥ both of these blogs!) 
to share my Teacher Bucket List.

I can explain...

I've done the presenting big (national) and small (school) and loved it. I still see presenting to share information and encourage conversations between educators in my future, however I won't be actively seeking out opportunities this year.

I also was a Teacher Development Leader at my school, but the role was redeveloped (in a good way) and I decided not to reapply. 

I'm hoping I can still mentor new teachers, or at least be a resource or thinking partner if they need one. I'm a huge geek and love to talk about education.

This year, I'm just going to TEACH! And teach the very best I can. To continuing learning, I'm participating in book studies to hone my craft and I'd LOVE to attend Ron Clark Academy 
(this spring if I get my nerve up!). 

It does feel a little strange...not having the huge professional goals I've always set for myself. But I'm also REALLY excited about it. After all, my very favorite thing is when I get to TEACH.

So, if you're looking for me next year, I'll be busy with my students. Teaching like a mad woman!

Thank you for reading! 
Please stop back tomorrow - BIG happenings here :)

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Monday, June 22, 2015

TPT Sellers: Dare to Dream

LOVE this week's theme for the #TPTSellersChallenge!

This week's theme is Dare to Dream:

The first one is easy to explain...take a look:

The Welcoming Committee!

If you've been following me here since the beginning, you probably have already guessed that I'm obsessed with Florida! Specifically Redington Beach (between St. Petersburg and Clearwater).

My inlaws have a house there and we visit at least three times per year! It feels more like home there than anywhere I've ever lived. 

Here's the kicker...we could purchase a home for SO much less than where we live now. BUT, where would we work? I'm blessed to have a ridiculously wonderful salary here and I would literally be taking a FIFTY % pay cut. That's HALF :(

On my extra-tired days, I let myself dream of TPT-ing from the little beach condo I've already picked out :) On the other days, I remind myself that I have 16 (at least) years until retirement and then we can move there! We WILL move there someday!

My second dream is to volunteer. Now that doesn't cost anything, but it does require time. I mentioned above that my salary is's because I work at a fantastic school with extended hours and days. I'm incredibly thankful, but any my extra time these days goes to working out and sleeping.

In my previous position (self-employed piano teaching), I always volunteered with special education in some capacity (hospital or schools setting). If my business took off and I reduced my hours, I would love to volunteer again!

My last dream is to give to others (R.A.K. - Random Acts of Kindness). We absolutely love to give gifts - it's always so much better than receiving gifts at our age. Maybe I could combine volunteering and Florida! Triple-win!

Please visit other bloggers to read about their dreams and link up your own!
Thank you Third in Hollywood, Peppy Zesty Teacherista, Sparkling in Second, and Teach, Create, Motivate for hosting the challenge. Can't wait 'til next week!

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