Sunday, March 23, 2014

Sunshine and Springtime!

Hi Friends!
     I was recently given the Sunshine Blogger award by the very sweet CaseyJane from Wiggling Scholars.  I humbly accept and more importantly, I'm very excited to have found another blogging buddy.  Technically she found me first but who's counting?  :)


The rules of the Sunshine Blogger Award are:
1. Post 11 random facts about yourself
2. Answer the 11 questions asked by the blogger who nominated you
3. Nominate 11 bloggers you think bring sunshine to the world
4. Make up 11 questions for your nominations to answer.

Random Facts:
1. I've been married for 23 years.
2. I have two dogs: a shih-toodle and a dachshund mix.  The dachshund is deaf.
3. I will be a first time mother-of-the-bride this August...yikes!
4. I've been teaching for 24 years.
5. Photography is a hobby that I really enjoy.
6. I LOVE using technology in my teaching.
7. I have three fantastic grown-up children.
8. I have guinea pigs as classroom pets.
9. I am also in the liquor business.
10. I've been to wine country twice.
11. I'm going to ISTE in Atlanta, GA!
1.    What is your favorite holiday?  By far, it is Thanksgiving.  I love having the entire family over without the pressure of gift-giving.  It's simple family time.  That's all there is to it and it's the best!
2.    If you were to name your blog something else, what would it be?This is a great question, one that I wish I had given more thought when I named my blog originally.  You can't tell from my new blog design but I am a huge Grease fan.  It's my all-time favorite movie.  So my original blog design with all 50's clip art was called Hopelessly Devoted to Teaching.  It was created by Kristen from Ladybug's Teacher Files and I loved it!  After a couple of years, I was ready for a change but because my blog name was specific to a theme, a new design would never match.  For fear of losing my followers, I simply shortened the name by title but kept the original URL.  The short answer to this question is...ANY other name that is not specific to a theme or grade level.  Newbie bloggers please take notice!
3.    What is your dream “retirement job?” I'm not really sure but definitely something in a quiet setting.
4.    What is your biggest pet-peeve? The word 'stupid' - I hate it with a passion!
5.    Name the book that changed you. There are many professional books that changed my teaching. To name a few, there's The Morning Meeting book, Daily 5 & CAFE, Math Stations.
6.    What is the best concert you have been to?  Luke Bryan!!!
7.    When and/or how did you figure it out that you wanted to be in education? It's very cliche but all of my life.  I never even considered anything else.  What kind of teacher took some doing though...
8.    Are you are rule-follower or rule-breaker? A rule-follower - boring, boring, boring!
9.    Do you love or hate the cutest kitty you tube video? I'm going to have to do some research for this one.  :)
10.    What was the last movie or musical you went to? Wicked - it was fabulous!
11.    What was your most prized possession when you were the same age as the students you teach?  A stuffed kitten that got me through some pretty tough times.
     For the next part, I have to nominate 11 other bloggers.  There are so many that I LOVE and I took a long time to respond to this nomination so I apologize if I'm repeating anybody.  Here are just a few of my favorites:













Just click on any of the images above to check out there blogs!

Finally, there are 11 questions to ask.  Here is what I'd like to know about my nominees...

1.  Do you have classroom pets?
2.  Where is the most exciting place you've been?
3.  How long have you been teaching?
4.  What is your favorite reading genre?
5.  What is your favorite professional read?
6.  What is your must-go conference?
7.  Do you like cooking or cleaning better?
8.  Are you a warm weather or cold weather person?
9.  What is your biggest pet-peeve?
10.  What is the scariest thing you've ever done?
11.  What are you most looking forward to?

Thank you to CaseyJane for the nomination and for getting me back on my blog.  It's been too long!  Take care,  Everyone!


Sunday, February 23, 2014

Arrays, Arrays!

Hi Friends,



    I don't know about you but I've got the Sunday Night blues...doubly hard because it's the end of winter break.  On the bright side, my plans are done (mostly) and my homework packets are ready.

   As I was thinking about my math plans, I started to focus on the foundations of multiplication.  This week, I will be teaching the kiddos about arrays.  While most of the kids are super excited to start learning about multiplication, many of them truly struggle with the concept.  In second grade, we are responsible for teaching them that arrays are a useful tool to help them solve problems with equal groups.  We really only need to go as far as repeated addition but I like to show the multiplication fact with the repeated addition sentence to get them used to what it looks like.  I thought I'd start with this Brain Pop, Jr. video.  This is, by far, one of my favorite resources.  It is a paid subscription but well worth the cost if you can swing it.  They do have a small free library but for me, it just wasn't enough.



   The other part of my math plans for this week include this power point and booklet that I created to help the kiddos with their arrays.  I knew that I needed to make that real life connection for them and I knew it had to be visual.  My plan is to project a slide and have the kiddos write an addition sentence on their small whiteboards.  Then, we will add it to the power point.  For the higher learners, they can also write the multiplication fact that matches the picture.  I'm a big believer in the "I Do, We Do, You Do' approach so we will start small.


   To provide further practice for the kiddos, I created this little booklet.  We will use stickers to build arrays and then write the matching addition/multiplication sentences.  You could also use stamps or draw the array.  My kiddos love to use the Scento markers!



   If you think this is something you might be interested in, please click on either of the pictures above. They will take you straight to my TpT store.  As this is a very new journey for me, I'd love any and all feedback.  Thank you so much!

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Five for Friday

Hi Friends!

We made it through another week.  And not just any week.  It was a snowy, Valentine's, full moon, week before vacation kind of week.  It felt like a great time to join Doodle Bugs Teaching Five for Friday linky party so here I am.  It's my very first time so I hope I do it justice...



Number 1 - We had yet another snow day.  We are at four so far this year with more snow coming.  Our original finish date was June 13th which was a Friday.  Now we are ending on June 19th.  I really, really, really do NOT want a full week of school for the last week so no more snow days.  In fact, all of my snowman decorations are coming down - because that will totally control the weather.  A girl can hope, right?



Number 2 - We've been celebrating the Olympics at school and completely enjoying them at home.  At school, we've been tracking the medals.  The kiddos get super excited whenever the US moves up in the ranks and so bummed when they slide back down.  It's really cute to see their reactions.  We've been using Katie King's Winter Games freebie all week.  You know, that very talented teacher/blogger from Queen of the First Grade Jungle.  It came just in time for our current math unit which is fractions. It's truly a fantastic freebie so if you don't follow her, please go check out her blog right now!



Number 3 - Here is a small sampling of our Olympic themed read-alouds and trade books.  Everyone (including me!) really enjoyed these books.  We are currently in the middle of the Magic Tree House Hour of the Olympics.  Man, you should've seen the reaction of the girls when they learned that women and girls were NOT allowed to compete or even perform at the Olympics!





Clicking on any of the books above will get you directly to Amazon!

Number 4 - We started blogging again - the class, I mean.  the name of our blog is Pencils, Projects and Pigs.  We started the year off really strong with the blog but then the holidays came and I let it slide.  So now I'm trying to get the kids all pumped up about it again.  I have a few who are truly dedicated so that should help.



Number 5 - This one is extra random.  As my husband was driving to work Thursday morning, he noticed this deer just sitting there in front of our neighbor's porch.  Life has a way of telling us that there is so much to appreciate in our little world.  Isn't she a beauty?  (I had to zoom in quite a bit so it may be hard to tell... :) )





Friday, January 24, 2014

Whole Lotta Love Giveaway

Hi Friends!

I'm joining in with Deirdre from A Burst of First.  She is the same fabulous blogger who has organized tomorrow's meet up in Boston.  It's never too late to join in the fun so go ahead and send Deirdre an email if you're so inclined.  It's going to be a blast!


Now onto the giveaway - Over 20 fantastic bloggers have donated an item(s) from their TpT store or a giftcard to TpT.  My donation is one such card in the amount of $10.  The really cool part of this donation is that it is totally the winner's choice as to how they want to spend their $10.  So head on over to Deirdre's blog by clicking on the image below.  Throw your name into the pot (which is growing VERY fast) and keep those fingers crossed.  Good luck!





Monday, January 20, 2014

NE Blogger Meet Up

Hi Friends,

The wonderful Deirdre from A Burst of First is organizing our next meet up. I'm very much looking forward to meeting up with the new friends I met this past summer and I can't wait to meet even more new friends on Saturday.  There were five of us in Newport and Deirdre tells me that we are up to 10 or 11.  Our little group is growing!  If you'd like to join us, please email Deirdre.  Her information is below.  Hope to see you there!

Friday, November 29, 2013

Family and Blabberized Turkeys!

Hi Friends,

How was your Thanksgiving?  I hope it was as wonderful as it can possibly be for all of you.  I have so much to be thankful for but mostly, I am ever so thankful for my family.  I don't know what I would do without them!


I also wanted to share with you a little project we did at school this week.  We had so much fun with the the entire project that it really helped the three days go by SO fast!  First, the children had to complete a writing piece.  they had the choice of a Thanksgiving acrostic or a persuasive piece.  Most chose the persuasive writing.  For this, they had to pretend that they were a turkey (of course!) and persuade someone NOT to eat them for Thanksgiving.  These were hilarious!  The acrostic poems were not as funny but they were super, super sweet.

The next step was to make these tissue paper turkeys.  Everything but the tail feathers were colored with crayon.  Then, we used little squares of tissue paper, wrapped it on the end of a pencil, dipped it in glue and VOILA!...a super cute, 'feathery' turkey.



Once both of these steps were complete, I took pictures of all of their turkeys.  While I was doing this, the students were reading their pieces out loud to a partner.  They worked on their reading fluency and expression.  I'm telling you, the skills that were covered in this little project were unbelievable!

The final step was to upload their turkeys into Blabberize.  If you have never heard of this website, it is a must see.  Basically, you find a picture or use one of your own and upload it to the site.  Blabberize gives you the ability to make your picture 'talk'.  It is unbelievably cute!  The student sat with me while I adjusted the mouth size and placement.  Then, I recorded each child as they read their piece out loud once again.  We did a quick play back to make sure it came out okay, saved it to 'My Stuff' and moved onto the next child.  I was so impressed with the way they handled themselves during this part of the project.  All I had to say was "Recording now" and they were absolutely silent.  Every student had the opportunity to record without interruption from the others...so polite and respectful!  If you'd like to see Blabberize in action, click on the picture below.  The possibilities are endless!



Hot Dots Review

Hi Friends,

Today's post is a follow up to a product preview I did over the summer.  Well, I'm very happy to report that the Hot Dots are a HUGE success.  The set I chose was the Academic Vocabulary Cards - perfect for the Common Core!  It is the number one Word Work choice in my Daily 5 stations.  Even better than that is the fact that I see most of the kids actually reading the cards!  They are not just using the pen randomly on all of the dots.  Here's a picture of one of my kiddos totally engaged in his activity...


Other than it's popularity with my kiddos, the product itself is one of very high quality.  The cards are made of a durable card stock and they are neatly organized into categories within the box.  My students are able to keep the set organized and well maintained.


The pen itself is what makes the activity so engaging.  There is immediate feedback on their answer choices and the voice they hear is not annoying (teacher friendly!).  The students can also turn off the voice and just use the lights - green for a correct answer and red for an incorrect answer.

Overall, I am very satisfied with Smile Makers and their Hot Dots product.  Thanks, again, to Marcy for contacting me this past summer.  I look forward to doing more business with this company.

Have a great school year, Everyone!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Classroom Reveal...Way Late!

Hi Friends,
    I finally have my classroom photos ready to share.  Thank goodness my classroom was actually ready two weeks ago as I started school on August 28th!  :)  I really enjoyed getting my room ready this year because I found SO many cute things that I purchased or even better, were free.  I'll highlight those items for your shopping pleasure.  ;)

   I'd like to start with my classroom library.  I spent a HUGE portion of my time this summer reorganizing my library.  It has bothered me for quite a few years but it was actually old age that got me motivated.  You see, I've begun purchasing books that I already own.  It happened at least six times just this past year.  So I threw up my hands in disgust and got right to work.  First, I searched for an app that I could use to scan my library.  I chose Book Retriever and I am very happy with it.  The only downfall is that you can not input 'where' a particular book is specifically located in your library.  But none of the apps that I came across had that feature.  So I told my son to build me an app that did...he's a senior in college so I don't expect it anytime soon.  :)

The photo above shows my leveled books section.  We are still using Guided Reading levels but I've heard grumblings about changing to Lexile levels...uggh!

These are my reading baskets which are organized by theme, author, series, etc.
Our bucket filling station
My favorite Pinterest-inspired summer project

The next three photos are featuring Reagan Tunstall's Chalky Classroom Garden Decor pack.  I love the way her alphabet and ten frames really pop off the wall.  The matching table signs make my life much easier as well.  I highly recommend that you check out Reagan's blog.  She is famous author of Tunstall's Teaching Tidbits.





The picture above is something I made on Vista Print last year but forgot to share... :)

My word wall was purchased from Erica Bohrer.  She has fantastic stuff which is clean and crisp.  I'm not a fan of visual clutter and Erica's products fit me perfectly.


Here are a couple of bulletin boards that are pretty plain right now but will fill up soon.  I wanted to show you the black and lime green color scheme.  I love it!



I finally got my manipulatives labeled...most of them, anyway!

Cuteness for the erasers and pencils, plus my adorable babies! NOTE: Do not be fooled by the air conditioner in the background.  They use my room for summer school and then yank it out right before the new year begins.


Rewards poster that goes with ClassDojo - my favorite behavior management system ever!


I used scrap booking paper and sticker letters to jazz up my iPad containers.


Here are my milk crate seats which now need a makeover to match my color scheme.  The rug came through a Donor's Choose project.


And of course, my classroom would not be complete without the girls.  Daisy and Lilly came to us through a Pets in the Classroom grant.  Best thing I ever did.  These piggies have brought so much to our learning and classroom community.  You can read more about it here.  We love them so much!

Lilly loves her hay!
Daisy loves the camera and being the center of attention!