Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Late Homework Form

Students in my class know that if for any reason they don’t turn their homework in, they need to turn in one of these forms in its place. If I can staple the form to the actual assignment, I do that. Otherwise, it gets stapled in their assignment book. This ensures that parents are aware when their child does not complete their homework. It also cuts down on excuses that are not completely accurate. In addition, I then have documentation if I ever need it as our district has a very strict late work policy! I love this form because students fill it out, not me! And parents love it because it keeps them informed! I hope you find it useful, too!

To download this freebie click here to go to my TeachersPayTeachers store.

I would really appreciate it if you would take the time to rate this freebie!

Happy teaching!

Sunday, July 29, 2012

More Awards!

Wow! I got my second and third blog awards today! How excited am I?! Thank you so much to Stephanie over at Celebrate First Grade for The Versatile Blogger award and Noelle at The Friz in First Grade who awarded me with both the Versatile Blogger award and the One Lovely Blog Award! I’m truly honored!

If I have passed the award along to you...
Here are the seven rules to follow when receiving this award:
1. Thank the blogger who nominated you.
2. Include a link to their blog.
3. Include the award image in your post.
4. Give 7 random facts about yourself.
5. Nominate 15(ish) other bloggers for the award.
6. When nominating, include a link to their blog.
7. Let other bloggers know they've been nominated.

My 7 Random Facts:
1. I live in Texas now, but I’m originally from Vermont and would love to move back home some day!
2. I have been with my husband for over 20 years (married for 14 years).
3. We have 2 children, a son who is 5 and a daughter who is 8.
4. All of our middle names begin with Ray. My husband and son are Ray and Raymond, after my husband’s grandfather. My daughter and I are both Rayna after my grandmother. It’s a very special thing for our family and makes us feel connected to two people who meant a lot to both of us.
5. I love to stamp and scrapbook, but rarely find the time to do so!
6. I am addicted to Pinterest and Facebook. Pinterest because it gives me great ideas and Facebook because it helps me feel like I’m still a part of so many lives, even if I don’t live close by!
7. I am a little bit (although close friends and family might argue A LOT!) OCD about staying organized and label all of my containers and totes! I love clear containers because I can label them from the inside!

Nominating: (I didn't quite make the 15, but I sure did spend a lot of time looking for deserving blogs!)
1. Kimberly at Creative Teaching
2. Sandy at Fearless in 5th
3. First Grade O.W.L.S
4. Jillian at Just Tinkering Around
5. Lucky in Learning
6. Shuna at Pocket Full of Kinder
7. Carla at The Shining Staar
8. Krista at Stellar Student
9. Teaching 4 Real
10. Teaching Third

Saturday, July 28, 2012


So about two weeks ago I was awarded the Liebster Blog Award by Brigid from Brigid’s Daily Lesson Log. Problem was I didn’t know how to add it to my blog! Thanks to Megan over at I teach. What’s Your Super Power? I not only learned how to do this, but a whole bunch of other things for my blog! If you are struggling with all the ins and outs of blogging, you have got to check her out!

So here's the award I won:

This award highlights blogs that have fewer than 200 followers.
Here are the rules:
1. Copy and paste this award on your blog.
2. Thank the giver and link back to them.
3. Reveal 5 other bloggers and let them know by commenting on their blog.

Here are the 5 bloggers I am awarding today:
1. Hilary at Fifth Grade Fancy
2. Mrs. Karod at Colorful Teaching
3. Mrs. P at The Polka Dot Owl
4. Lara at Organized Teaching Addict
5. Roseanne at The Teachable Moments of Fifth Grade

Check out these teachers' blogs and give them some credit!! And don't forget to check out Brigid’s blog, Brigid’s Daily Lesson Log!!

Blog Hop Take 2!

And I'm off on yet another Blog Hop! Last time I did this it was a Daily 5 Blog Hop, but somehow I missed that fact! Not that I'm not a fan of the Daily 5, but I had read the book years ago, didn't have it at home with me, and they were wanted posts that had to do with the Daily 5! Ooops!! This one is for a Newbie bloggers, and although I started a blog a few years ago, I never did much with it. Therefore, I definitely consider myself a NEWBIE!

So, if you're a newbie, too, I hope you'll link up and answer these questions:

1. what state you are in
2. your current teaching position
3. your teaching experience
4. when you started blogging
5. share a blogging tip / blogging resource

1. I "live" in Texas, but I'm "from" Vermont.

2. I currently teach 5th grade, but I also act as the school's reading specialist, ESL director, and UIL director.

3. I've taught 3rd, 5th, 6th, and college-level courses. I also taught music for a year before I was certified. I've taught in three different states: Arizona, Texas, and Vermont. I've taught in public schools and private schools, small schools (with as few as 5 students in 1 grade) and larger schools.

4. Officially I started my first blog on March 7, 2009. This was a blog intended to help my family keep up with our lives as we lived halfway across the country. However, it was quickly forgotten as Facebook replaced it! I started my teaching blog less than 2 months ago on June 4, 2012.

5. My blogging tip would be to label your posts! I find this really helpful when I'm looking at other blogs!

Happy blog hopping, friends!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

PreK-K Emerging Readers/Writers Workshop

Ok…so I promised to blog about my PreK-K reading and writing conferences. Admittedly, since I teach fifth grade some of the things I blog about may be no brainers for those of you who teach these grades! However, as I listened to the conversations taking place around me I realized that I was hearing a lot of “That’s so easy; why didn’t I think of that?!” So I’m going to take my chances and hope not to bore any of you!

The reading workshop was up first. Since I also serve as the school's reading specialist, this was a great reminder for me of what I can expect from our newest little readers, as well as some ideas to recommend that teachers try for some of their struggling cherubs!

ABC Linking Charts! We’ve all seen these…

…and they’re great! The presenter stressed that we have a tendency to move from the unknown to the known, when we should really be doing the reverse. By using environmental print and pictures of students, we can make charts that students will relate to even more! There may be some squares we have to fill in with other pictures, but the more we can relate, the better! Here's a quick little example I put together in no time at all!

Ok, here’s another easy thing to do – that I bet many of you do already on your Word Wall, but maybe not with your alphabet line! Above your alphabet line put pictures of the children whose names begin with that letter.

Another idea the presenter stressed was using names of students to talk about sounds. For example, at our table we had a Lindy, Ginny, Christy, Cheryl, and Kristine. Here are just a couple of things that we came up with:
Y at the end of the end of words can say /ē/: Ginny, Christy, and Lindy
Ch can make different sounds: Cheryl /ch/, Christy /k/
There are different ways to say /k/: Christy (CH), Kristine (K)

She also gave us some ideas for how to use an alphabet linking chart, good books for retelling, and an early learning environment checklist. If you are interested in any of these things, let me know and I’ll add them!

Moving on to writing...

The most important thing I took away from this workshop was from the book Already Ready by Katie Wood Ray. On page 10 the author writes, “…if Sean sees an adult’s writing as part of his process, then the transcript has a message attached to it, whether it’s intended or not . The unspoken message is that Sean can try to write on his own, but adults are really the ones who know how to write. This message is reinforced by the fact that adults don’t usually redo children’s illustrations, only their writing. When one kind of approximation is accepted and not another, the message is clear.” I walked away thinking how important it was to understand there is a time and a place to scribe for children and I’d better not mess it up!! No pressure though!

Another idea the presenter gave us was an easy way to help keep track of students’ mastery of objectives. She suggested that we simply write/type the objective at the top of the page, have a page of address labels with students’ names printed on them (I use Microsoft Word and Avery labels-30 per page), and while walking around the room observing, just pull the label off the sheet for any student who you observe mastering this skill. I do something like this, but my way is definitely more complicated. The nice thing about this is that you know that any students whose names remain on the original label sheet haven’t been observed as mastering this skill (this could be because you didn’t have a chance to observe, they were absent, or you observed and they need more help!) She didn’t suggest this, but I would have a binder with a section for each content area. Then I would punch holes in the SWBAT sheet with labels and put them in the binder (in order of course!) behind the correct content area. You could even clip the unused labels to the sheet for later use if you so desired! This way you would know exactly who you needed to check in on!

Another quick and easy idea the presenter had was to use Wikki sticks to mark charts. For example, say you have a nursery rhyme on your chart stand and you are having children identify a specific letter, sound, etc. They can take the Wikki stick, form it into a specific shape (that’s my input!), and then put it on the chart! This allows you to reuse the chart and doesn’t require you to write everything on sentence strips (which is what I tend to do and then I use colored transparency squares to highlight the feature).

I hope this all makes sense, I know it does in my head, but that doesn’t mean I have been clear enough for you! If you have any questions at all, please let me know and I’ll do my best to clarify!

Happy teaching!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Kite Contractions

Looking for a fun way to review contractions and practice writing sentences? With some Pinterest inspiration guiding my way, I created (and by created I mean found templates that would work and made an example!) this activity that can also be used to decorate the classroom with student created work! This is in NO WAY my original idea! Click on the following link to download this for free at TeachersPayTeachers!

Click here to download Kite Templates from TeachersPayTeachers Site

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Tote of Goodies

Ok, so maybe this post would again be better under Parenting without Tears, but I think it has some application in the classroom, too! I'll give my ideas for that at the end of my post.

We decided to take a spur of the moment trip to SeaWorld. We've been several times in the past, and have always enjoyed it. Since we haven't gone anywhere this summer, and didn't have plans to do so, this seemed like the perfect trip!

Now, I don't know about you, but I really hate that time between supper and bedtime in a hotel. My children don't have any of their toys from home, and even if I wanted to stick them in front of the television, the hotels usually don't have a child-friendly lineup to choose from! So here's my solution to that....a tote of goodies!

Even my husband, who hints that I might be a teensy, weensy bit of an over-packer (which I totally am, I can't deny it!), doesn't complain about the extra tote because it keeps the kids busy once we get back to the hotel for the night! It would totally be worth making an entire extra trip just to carry it into the hotel! I keep the tote in my car, in the hidden storage area in the trunk. Out of sight, out of mind (until I want it!)

So what's in the tote you might ask?
1-Look and Find Book (like I Spy but for little ones)

2-Hidden Pictures magazines

3-Tic-Tac-Toe and Toss-Tac-Toe magnetic game

**There are several of these magnetic games available and they are rather inexpensive (under $10 each!). I found many available at amazon.com. I plan on purchasing several more of these next time I order from Amazon. I particularly have my eye on Steps and Slides, which unfortunately Amazon does not offer at this time. I did find it online at a few different places, but will have to research those places better before I order from them!

4-Trouble travel game

5-Connect 4 travel game

6-Old Maid cards
7-Go Fish cards

Ok - so for the teaching connection. The reason I have this tote is to keep my children from being bored. I believe this is applicable in the classroom as well. I think having some of these totes available for early finishers could/would prevent some behavior issues. In my classroom, students are already able to select the types of activities I would put in these totes, but I think part of the draw is that my children don't have many choices in the box and they only see them when we go on vacation. In my classroom, students have A LOT of choices and they're always available. I'm really going to have to think hard about creating some of these in my classroom! And you can be sure there will be a post once I do!

Hope this gives you some great ideas for making the lives of those children you interact with on a regular basis more exciting! Until next time...

Friday, July 13, 2012

Pinterest Projects

Ok...so, it's official, I'm addicted to Pinterest. I mean, really, who isn't?! So I'm going along pinning my little heart out...and I think to myself, "At some point I'm really going to have to do some of these, and not just sit here all day pinning!" So, I picked a couple of things I REALLY wanted to do and posted my list on Facebook - so now I have pressure to get them done, too, because all of my family and friends know that I'm setting out to accomplish these things!

Here's my list:
1-paint chip bookmarks (I'm going to stamp mine with something ocean to go along with my theme)

2-pirate cove reading area

3-ocean crate seat (to go in pirate cove) - this picture shows the seat upside down in the crate, so once I get mine done I'll post new pictures! I bought blue crates to go with my theme instead of the black.

4-dye clothespins (to later attach pushpins on to use in classroom!)

And I have to say, my progress was pretty good!
1-got paint chips, and have the rest of the supplies at home

2-no progress made here! My husband thinks it would be a good idea if we measured it out and all that silly nonsense first! Hmph! (I'll never admit it to him, but of course he's right!)

3-bought crates and wood (and had them cut to size!), need to get foam and fabric

4-bought clothespins and dye - Walmart only had a navy blue, so I got it to try it - but it was much darker than I wanted so I need to go get some lighter blue and some pretty green! However, it totally worked and I now have 15-20 navy blue clothespins waiting for thumbtacks to be put on the back of them. My classroom is paneling (insert gagging here!) so I plan on using them to push into the wall - whereever I want! to hold posters and whatever else comes to mind! I guess wood paneling is good for something sometimes! I have pictures of the clothespins, which I'll add at a later date, but they're still on the card in my camera, and I'm in a hotel room 200 or so miles from my house.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Congratulations Wild About Teaching!

Congratulations WILD ABOUT TEACHING for hitting 500 followers! I can't wait until I get there! For those of you who would like to see what I'm talking about go to:


Saturday, July 7, 2012

Blog Hop?!

Ok, so here's my first attempt at a Blog Hop! Really?! I have no idea what I'm doing, and so I hope I figure this out! I really need to get a Blogging for Dummies book!