Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Quietest Pencil Sharpener GIVEAWAY!!!

Hey everyone!!  You may remember my post a few months back about the most awesome pencil sharpener by Classroom Friendly Supplies.  If you did not catch that post you can read it {here}. Trust me you will want to read it!

Well, Classroom Friendly Supplies contacted me and asked if I wanted to give one away to my readers.  Um....yes!!!  So here it is my friends!  Complete the rafflecopter below and good luck!  If you are not the lucky winner you can still get a 5% discount on your very own sharpener using the code below by September 6th.  School starting soon?  No worries they arrive really quickly!  


Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Christmas in July Sale!!

Can I just say that we could not be holding this sale on a better day.  It is FREEZING in Indiana!  I can't handle anything below 75 degrees.  I am not kidding you!

I am linking up with some friends of mine for a dollar sale.  I love any excuse to shop at a bargain price, so lets celebrate Christmas in July!

I have 4 of my favorite beginning of the year items on sale for $1.  Trust me it will be the best 4 bucks you have spent. :)

My Classroom Management Tools has everything you need to get started off on the right foot this year.  I blogged about it {here}.

Monthly Writing Journals are a fun way to spruce up your writing station and an exciting way to have students share and collaborate.  I have a great way to organize them.  Check it out {here}.

My kids totally love the Groovy Cat.  So why wouldn't they be motivated by a Groovy Cat Clip Chart.

Fall Fun! with Nouns and Adjectives is one of my favorite products and I look forward to expanding on it soon. 

Be sure to check out all of the other awesome deals going on!
Happy Shopping!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Boogie Board Review

Have you heard of Boogie Boards?  I am not referring to the board that you used in swim class to practice kicking.  I am talking about LCD eWriter by iMPROV Electronics.  

I have been using them around the house and with my own kiddos this summer.  I love how durable they are.  My 2 year old has done about everything she can to it and it has held up.  She is not a dainty 2 year old.  She is rough and tough, so that is saying something.  Have I mentioned that it is scratch resistant?  Perfect!  

My son is starting Kindergarten in the fall, so we have been practicing letter formation with him.  You may or may not know that he has Cerebral Palsy, so fine motor is a challenge for him.  I love that the Boogie Board Original came with magnets, so I can easily attach it to any magnetic surface.  This is key for him because he has more control on an elevated surface.

I love to use the Sync 9.7 with him too, so we can track his progress.  I can easily add notes to his work before saving with the date and how the board was positioned.  It becomes a quick way to save his work and to track progress. 

So what is a Boogie Board and why do I NEED one in my classroom?
As I said before it is an LCD eWriter.  It is a great alternative to paper practice and it also takes away the pressure of getting it right the first time.  If you make a mistake you just push erase and it is gone!  I am so excited to use this in my classroom for Daily 5 Word Work practice among other uses.  I know my students are going to love the alternative to paper pencil practice and the excitement of using technology.  Really the possibilities are endless with the Boogie Boards.  I have been talking mostly about the Original, but the Sync is even MORE amazing!  You can actually save your work, hook it up to a computer, and retrieve your file.  How great would that be for documentation of progress or for accountability of independent work?!

I have to be completely honest!  I have been using the Boogie Boards for my own personal use around the house too.  I have one hanging on my refrigerator with a "to-do" list and the other by my desk with a TPT creation "to-do" list.  I love that I am not wasting paper with my endless lists AND the Boogie Board Original is small enough to slip in my purse to go to the grocery store.  

I am truly in love with this product and can not wait to use it in my classroom full of first graders!  I see more than one in my future!  Do you??


Monday, June 30, 2014

The Quietest Pencil Sharpener EVER!!

Hey Everybody!!  Today I am doing my first ever review and I could not have a better product for my first go.  I have the Quietest Pencil Sharpener Ever and you can find it at Classroom Friendly Supplies.

I received the sharpener in the mail very quickly and I requested one that would match my classroom.  It is bright pink also known as Precious Pink! LOVE it!  There are a few color choices to pick from.  As soon as I opened the box I could not have been happier.  

I immediately got out a pencil and tried to sharpen it.  I honestly have to tell you I had a little trouble, but there are some great troubleshooting tips and a video {here}.  As soon as I watched the video I tried it again and I had a perfectly sharpened pencil in seconds.  I could not believe the beautiful tip I had and how easy it was.  

Here are the steps to a perfectly sharpened pencil (I skipped the clamping part):
1. Squeeze the black cubes at the top and pull the silver portion out.

2. Insert the pencil while squeezing the black cubes.

3. Hold the sharpener at the top with your left hand and begin cranking with the right hand.  The silver portion will begin to retract as you crank
4.  You will feel and hear a difference in the sharpener when the pencil is complete.  Squeeze the black cubes again to remove the pencil. 

 I cannot believe I have been using junky school sharpeners and wasting my money on electric sharpeners.  I am not lying when I say this is the best sharpener I have ever laid my hands on!!  

I have some exciting news for you!  Classroom Friendly Supplies is offering you 5% off of your very own pencil sharpener!  You can use the code PAJVUC by September 6th.  Trust me you NEED this sharpener in your classroom or even home office.

Go grab yours to have in time for the start of the school year!

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Daily 5 Second Edition Book Study- Chapters 5 & 6

Welcome back to my take on the newest Daily 5 book.  A huge thanks goes out once again to the Freebielicious girls for letting me link up!  Today I will be talking about Chapters 5 & 6.  Do you have your book yet?  No!  Go now!  I'll wait..........

Okay, before I continue can I just say how much I enjoy the pictures in this book!  I am a huge visual learner and the pictures are spot on!

Chapter 5- Launching Read to Self- The First Daily 5

The title says it is the first Daily 5, but it should also say the most important.  When launching Read to Self it is soooo important to lay down a STRONG foundation.  Without that foundation you will watch the building crumble down around you.  TRUST ME!!  Last year I was a little more lax than typical because I was dealing with a grade change and a tricky class.  I just never regained control over the way I wanted it to be.  Don't get me wrong they were still learning and growing a ton.  The volume and the stamina was just a little outside the norms.

This chapter is honestly something you are just going to have to read on your own.  It is full of important details to get the most bang for your buck.  The 2 Sisters go through their typical launch day.  It starts with the 3 ways to read a book.  I love this lesson because my low babies are usually really excited to find out what they can do IS reading!  What a powerful day for them!

After you teach them the 1st two ways to read a book, read the pictures and read the words, it is time to launch Read to Self.  When getting started make sure to refer back to the 10 Steps of Independence.  After one round with the younger kiddos you stop for the day and move onto teaching the foundation lessons for the other Daily 5 choices.

I love that the 2 Sisters included this information in this book because I was always asking myself what to do with the remaining time in my reading block.  I swear they were in my head because their answer was to teach foundation skills for other D5 choices.

Here are some of the foundational skills they recommend starting with:

I PICK Good-Fit Books- it is essential to give your students the knowledge and power to realize how and what are good fit books for them.  The 2 Sisters recommend using this:

I select a book and look it over, inside and out.

Purpose: Why might I want to read it?
Interest: Does it interest me?
Comprehend: Do I understand what I am reading?
Know: Do I know most of the words?

If the student can answer yes to all of the above questions than they have found a good fit book!

I created a bookmark has a reminder on how to pick a good fit book.  Grab this freebie {here}!!

Underline Words You Don't Know How to Spell, and Move On- I practiced this kinda sorta last year and my students wanted nothing to do with it. LOL!  They wanted to know the correct spelling and they would ask another adult or student before moving on.  I think more modeling is in my future.

They hit the other foundation skills in Chapter 6, but they do list the ones you could start off with in the first few days of practice.

Chapter 6- Foundation Lessons

As I said before you must start off with a strong foundation.  So in Chapter 6 the 2 Sisters go into depth about quite a few of them.  This is another one of those chapters I STRONGLY urge you to read.  I really love how they broke the foundational skills into the different D5 choices and really explained their way of doing it.  There was so much in this chapter I am only going to pick 2 of my favorites.

Read to Someone

EEKK (Elbow, Elbow, Knee, Knee)
This is one of my favorites to teach the kids.  I just love EEKK!!  You wouldn't think that students would sit any other way, but I have had kids with their backs to each other or one laying down and the other sitting.  I mean good grief!  You are supposed to be working TOGETHER.  There was a new thing that I liked about EEKK.  They said the kids could sit EEKK on the floor OR in chairs.  This was another one of those rule breaker things I was doing.  I felt relieved that I would be doing that no more.

How to Get Started

I cannot tell you how many times I would look up from my small group and see a group of kids with all of their books from their boxes playing "eeny meeny" to choose which book they would read first.  While that was a fair way to choose it took FOREVER and books always got mixed up.  It made be crazy!
Here is a list of suggestions:
Good Manners- this one is my favorite because I am BIG on good manners in my class, so I plan of encouraging this one.
Let's Make a Deal
Rock, Paper, Scissors
Youngest First
Alphabetical Order

Like I said their is a TON of info in these 2 chapters.  I seriously only skimmed the surface.  I really encourage you to pick the book up and read these chapters over and over.  I know I will!

I also created this Check for Understanding freebie.  This is included with the I Pick bookmark.  I recommend printing and laminating back to back.


Saturday, June 21, 2014

Bright Ideas!- Class List using Photos

I am so excited to be linking up for this month's Bright Ideas link up!!!  I have been finding all of the past few posts so inspiring and the best part is no one is pushing products.  They are just plain and simple bright ideas!  Love it! 

This month I am sharing a spin off of an idea I actually pinned last summer from Keepin' It Kool in Kinderland.  I know before I got my teaching job I reluctantly subbed to get my foot in the door.  Oh my I had some doozy days!  That is a whole other post.  Anyway, class lists were typically left and were nice and name tags were sometimes on desks, but I really had to work to figure out who was who.  Plus there is usually the note that Johnny is really helpful or keep your eye on Susie.  I wanted to know who these kids were.  When I saw this pin I knew I needed to make a photo class list for my own class.

It is so easy to make !  You know those little pictures that you receive from the photography company after picture day?  Those are perfect to use because they have adhesive on the back of some sizes AND it already has their first and last name.  If you can't wait to receive those little pictures then you can do a photo shoot on the first day and print them to a little wallet size.

I punched out a picture of every kiddo and got out a piece of card stock.  I turned the paper horizontally and lined the students in rows.  After I figured out proper placement I peeled off the backing and stuck it down.  I made sure to leave room under each photo.  This was especially important this school year.  My students were always coming and going, so I wrote times that they left the room, special little notes about each student, and you could even add transportation info.  I write it in pencil, so I can make changes neatly throughout the year.  This idea was actually intended for my sub folder, but I referred to it often! 

So there it is... a super simple Bright Idea!  If you liked this Bright Idea please consider following me on Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest.  You can also check out my Bright Idea on How to Stay Organized a Month at a Time.

For more Bright Ideas from over 100 different bloggers feel free to browse through the link up for something that interests you.

Thanks for stopping by!


Friday, June 13, 2014

Daily 5 Second Edition Book Study: Chapters 3 & 4

Big thanks to the Freebielicious girls for hosting the 2nd Edition Book Study!!!  Be sure to stop by every Friday this month to see all of the thoughts on the new edition.  You can find the link up at Seusstastic.  Last week I covered Chapters 1 & 2.  You can catch up {here}.

If you don't have the newest book yet you need to stop reading and go put it in your Amazon cart right away.  It is a wonderful resource to highlight and dog ear.

Chapter 3: The 10 Steps to Teaching and Learning Independence

The 10 steps have not really changed from the previous book, but they look a bit different:

Step 1: 
Identify What is to Be Taught-  
I may not admit it in public, but I love when I go to a workshop and the instructor goes over or hands out an agenda.  I thrive off of it.  I have a shorter attention span than my 5 year old I think!  The Sister's agree with this philosophy as well, so they use I-charts to introduce the steps of Daily 5.  The I stands for Independence.  In the past when I read to use I-charts I started to and then as they became similar I stopped making them or would throw them away.  I felt that no one was using them.  Boy was I wrong!  This would be like going in without the agenda at a workshop.  I wish you knew how often I refer to schedules, agendas, and my calendar.  I am obsessed with keeping tabs on things.  I was taking this control away from kids.  No more!!

Step 2: 
Set a Purpose and Create a Sense of Urgency-
Short and simple... students need to understand why they are working on this task.  If they don't understand the end result they won't see the need for it.  When they see the need that will naturally create the urgency of which they perform the task.

Step 3: 
Record Desired Behaviors on an I-Chart-
It is so important to explain each expectation of Daily 5 to your students on an I-chart, so they can refer and review it often.  The expectations are: read the whole time, stay in one spot, get started right away, work quietly, and build stamina.  I can recall a few times when my class had just fallen apart with these expectations.  I would regroup them and give the lecture of a lectures.  I can remember angrily writing them on the board and go through what each one meant again.  What I failed to realize was their demise was my fault.  I didn't have the expectations posted anywhere and instead of angrily writing and explaining I needed to get them practicing again.  They got too used to me being lenient on the desired behaviors and they did what kids do and took the ball and ran with it.  Teacher fail!  Next year those I-charts are going to be up and reviewed and practiced often!!
These are from Faith Wheeler.  I used these this past school year.  So cute!

Step 4: 
Model Most-Desirable Behaviors-

Step 5: 
Model Least-Desirable Behaviors, Then Most-Desirable Behaviors Again-

Steps 4 & 5 are a kid favorite.  What kid doesn't like to have the floor, especially you barometer kids (the ones who dictate the weather in your classroom).  The kids love to cheer each other on for modeling the correct way and they ADORE watching the wrong behaviors.  This strategy really sticks with them.  The Sisters recommend not modeling the least-desirable behaviors with the kinder kiddos.  They get a little confused.  What is especially great is each student sees exactly what is expected and your "one" kiddo has been seen modeling the correct way.  This is where you really grow your sense of community in the classroom.

Step 6:
Place Students Around the Room-
I prefer assigned seats for the first few introductions of Read to Self.  This does a few things for me.  1) They get to see all of the awesome choices of places to sit and 2) I get to show them proper placement and put them in a place for success.  The Sisters recommend letting groups of 5 or so choose their seat from day 1, but also give them the little voice asking, "is this a place where I can be successful?". This helps build the needed independence.

Step 7:
Practice and Build Stamina-
NEVER use a timer to start or stop Daily 5.  It is important to allow the students to build stamina at their own pace.  Their is a stamina chart included in the book, but I think it would be fun to do a class bulletin board with stairs climbing towards the goal.  It would be a great visual to show the students how far they have come.

I love this chart from Lisa at Growing Firsties!!!
Step 8:
Stay Out of the Way-
I have a horrible habit of walking around the classroom.  I feel like if someone walks in and I am not walking around the classroom I am going to be in trouble.  The problem with that is I am creating little needy cling-ons!  Their independence counts on my being right there.  No good I tell you!  I can't lead a successful small group while constantly being interrupted.  Side story:  My principal was evaluating me for RISE one day and one of my students was out with a Title tutor.  When she came back all of the adults were with a small group and the students were in a rotation.  She located her group immediately, hopped in, and the girls filled her in on what they were doing.  My principal was so impressed on how I never had to direct her or anyone to do what they were supposed to be doing.  Proud teacher moment!

Step 9:
Use a Quiet Signal to Bring Students Back to the Gathering Place-
I am a loud teacher.  I can't help it.  I am a quiet person, but get me in front of a bunch of 6 and 7 year olds and I become a performing monkey.  I am not helping the kiddos at all.  If they can't hear me they don't listen.  Needless to say I will be in search of a wind chime this summer to use as my quiet signal.  It sounds like such a soothing and quiet way to bring them back together.

Step 10:
Conduct a Group Check-In; Ask, "How Did It Go?"
In the original book it was a thumbs up or sideways to reflect on how they behaved during D5.  I would have a few kiddos who were honest and put it sideways, but it was never the kids who I knew were a thumbs sideways.  It took everything I had not to call them out.  The Sisters have started using a number system.

1. Below Standard
2. Approaching Standard
3. Meeting Standard
4. Exceeding Standard

I feel like the students will be willing to be a little more honest about their performance with the new number system.  After they rate themselves it is important to set goals for next time.  I am a huge fan of turn and talk.  Each student gets to say their answer and I get to hear the general conversation.  I make sure to use a signal to bring them back together.

Chapter 4:  What Do You Need to Begin the Daily 5?

I was surprised when they said you don't need much to begin.  I feel like I prepare a ton of things to get going.  It doesn't have to be that complicated.  Here is what you need:

The Quiet Symbol

Chart Rack or Interactive Whiteboard- 
I use an easel.  I feel like the paper is large enough and the whole class can see it when seated on the floor.

Tools, Not Toys- 
This includes different timers, manipulatives, and alternate texts.  This will help your barometer kiddos build their stamina in their own way.

Book Boxes- 
 I bought some cardboard boxes from Really Good Stuff.  They lasted a year and then they kept falling apart.  I brought them home and took the duct tape to them.  It was quite a project, but it prolonged the life of my boxes.  I think they next purchase will be a sturdy yet flexible plastic basket.

A Gathering Place and Focus Lessons-  
Gathering places are essential for maintaining focus during the meet-ups and also encourages participation.  I also found out that my focus lessons should only be as long as the age of the kids.  Mine are pretty short, but not that short.  That explains a little. :)

As I said before, this will become part of our daily landscape.  I believe in the power of I-charts after reading about how important they are.

Classroom Design-
I always struggle if I should have designated stations where things happen.  My goal is to have different areas set up where the different activities can happen.  I need a little organization in my life and that seems like a great place to start!
I love how he is so comfy he doesn't have shoes on!

I hope you are enjoying my take on the book study.  I am a little new to the whole book study thing.  I would love to hear your comments, questions or suggestions.


Here is a {FREEBIE} of Daily 5 and Cafe signs you can use to display an agenda or as an alternate way to have students sign up for rotations.