My Class is Diggin' It! Linky Party

Today I am linking up with Christina at Buntings, Books, and Bainbridge.  She asked teachers to tell everyone about their students' favorite things.  It has been a few weeks since I have been with the kiddos, but these are the things that stick out to me the most.

ANY book from the Who Would Win series By Jerry Pallotta was a huge hit!  I seriously can't keep them in the library.  The boys were actually writing their own Who Would Win stories.  You gotta love that!

Pete the Cat with the CD by Eric Litwin for the listening center was a huge crowd pleaser.  Who doesn't LOVE Pete the Cat?  I found myself TOTALLY distracted during Meet with the Teacher time.  I couldn't help but dance a little to "I Love My White Shoes"!

Finally, my kids were GAGA over Marble Run!  We won our parent association Box Tops competition and they gave us $50 to spend on something fun for the class.  They couldn't get enough of this.  I thought it would cause trouble because they all wanted to play with it, but they loved to play together with it.  

So these are some of my class' favorite things.  I hope you found something you didn't know about!


Indiana Bloggers Back to School Blog Hop

Who is excited to go back to school???  I never thought I would say this, but I am!!!  As a lot of you know I am changing grades this year.  I am leaving 2nd and moving to 1st and I just can't stop thinking about it.  I am really nervous, but I know it is going to be so much fun.

I have teamed up with some fellow Indiana Bloggers for a Back to School Blog Hop.  Make sure you follow it all the way through for your chance to win gift card!  Who doesn't LOVE a gift card?

Teaching Through Turbulence

If you started at the beginning of the hop you just came from Teaching Through Turbulence.  I have to give Heather major props because she is a Special Education teacher who works with children with Emotional Disabilities.  That can be a tough group of kiddos.  You have to have a good heart and a lot of patience (patience is NOT one of my strong suits, but I am working on it).  She has a lot of great ideas that can be incorporated with your mainstreamed kiddos.  Check her out!

So the beginning of the year is a time where you want everything to be perfect!  At least that is how I view it.  I would say the most important things to have in place are organization, routine, and behavior plans.

I have created some really cute Owl Themed Agenda Signs to help you with the routine aspect.  Students thrive off of a routine.  They love to see what they have done and what is left to do.  So grab up these freebies and you will be well on your way to a great year.

Now I would like to share my absolute FAVORITE creation.  I have gone a little lemonade ga-ga this summer.  I created a comprehensive pack of Classroom Management Tools.  You can check out the post about it HERE.  It is a mix of individual and whole class behavior plans.  I try to use a positive approach and I think you will agree that I hit the nail on the head with this one.

I really want to thank you for stopping by.  Stay tuned for my blog makeover reveal coming soon!  I can't wait to see the finished product.  I hope you have a wonderful year!

Next stop on the hop is Pencils, Books, & Dirty Looks!


It is FINALLY done!

I started my Monthly Writing Journal project at the beginning of summer.  Then I got distracted with a million other projects.  I finally had it in me last night to get it done!  It might have been something to do with the news we got yesterday.  It lit a fire under me!  My husband got news from his doctor that he needs to have another back surgery.  For us it is kind of devastating.  He is a stay at home dad during the week and stays home with our son who has Cerebral Palsy and daughter.  The recovery time is SIX LONG weeks.  So we are going to try and do it during my winter break or next summer, but I hate that he has to suffer until then.  So it is time for me to pull my weight! {Didn't mean to be a Debbie Downer...Sorry and thanks for listening!}

Anyway... I am so excited for these journals!  I started doing this with my class last year, but I revamped it.  Every month there is a notebook with a new writing prompt and words in it.  The whole class is to get to it during their writing center time.  When the journal is complete you can add it to your classroom library and the kiddos can read it during Read to Self or Read to Someone time.  They are always so excited to read what their classmates wrote!  

I also created two prompts that can be used all year long.  The one I am most excited about is, I have a question... I have an answer!  The kids pose a question and each student has to answer them.  I thought this would also be a great activity for the traveling journal.  Your class can ask the questions and you send the journal over to another class to answer.  That sounds like so much fun to me!

The great thing about my Monthly Writing Journals is you can get all 13 journals ready now and when the month changes all you have to do is switch it out and BOOM you have revamped your writing center!  Can it get any easier? I think NOT!

Hoping my Firsties and you will love this!


Reading Strategies and Comprehension Skills at Your Fingertips

I have been easing myself into D5 over the past few years.  Last Spring I really started focusing on the Meet with the Teacher area of D5.  I was trying to prepare activities to go along with reading strategies and comprehension skills and it was taking FOREVER!  I don't know about you, but I like to do as little prep as possible.  I came across this great idea from Teaching My Friends.  She uses these file folders in her classroom and she posted a few ideas of anchor charts, but not a link to printable anchor charts.  So I made it my mission to create anchor charts to put in file folders with ready made activities that can be reused.  Well.... it has been a really busy summer.  And.... I haven't found time to focus on it.  So I asked around and found Sarah Kirby's Reading Comprehension Posters and Reading Strategy Posters.  They are absolutely PERFECT and I couldn't believe that I even thought of recreating the wheel.  So I got them and this is what I have done so far with them.   The cool thing about Sarah's posters is she created several for each skill.  So the activities that I put on the right side can be used for differentiation or just to mix it up when we practice the skill throughout the year.

I decided to put the poster on the inside of the file folder for a couple of reasons. 1) I can file them away in my desk and the posters won't get ruined and 2) I can stand them up to display them for the whole group. Genius!

I plan to use these in two different ways.  I want to start by using them in my small groups to reinforce the skills and strategies that I am teaching during my mini lessons.  Then after they have had some practice with it I would like to throw them into their RTI centers to reinforce it even further.  

I am so excited to try this with my firsties this year!  Thank you Sarah Kirby!  Go check out Permanently Primary to find other great things!

Liebster Award?

Hooray I got nominated for the Liebster Award!  What is that you ask?  I honestly had no idea, but anything that rhymes with Biebster had to be cool right?!  Guess what... It has nothing to do with the Biebs, and it is SO much cooler!  The Liebster Award is given to new bloggers to help encourage and promote them in the bloggy world.  I couldn't be more thankful to Charlotte at Making Each Day Count for nominating me.  So after checking out Charlotte's blog I realized there is some steps involved with the award.

1.  Link back to the blog that nominated me.
2. Answer the questions posted for me by my nominator.
3.  Share 11 (Why 11?) random facts about myself.
4.  Create 11 questions for my nominees.
5.  Nominate 5-11 blogs with fewer than 200 followers. 
6.  Contact my nominees to let them know that I nominated them. 

So I did #1 above by mentioning the lovely Charlotte.

Here is #2

11 Questions from Charlotte
1.  What are three teacher websites you think are under utilized but couldn't imagine not having?
      I honestly don't think enough teachers know and use Teachers Pay Teachers.  When you purchase from this group you know that you are getting teacher and student approved activities.  What could be better??  I  also use the heck out of Scholastic.  Sounds simple right?  I recently started doing Daily 5 and needed listening center materials.  Scholastic came through.  I signed up for Storia and used bonus points to get a ton of books with CD's.  My kiddos LOVE it, especially Pete the Cat!  I find myself rockin' out during my small groups to "I Love My White Shoes"! Admit it... you have done it too!  I also really love Spelling City.  It is a great website to review spelling words.  You can insert your own list and the students can practice away with fun games such as Hangman.
2.  How are you spending YOUR summer?

      I have been really trying to hit the blogging and TPT world hard, but I am a mom of a 4 year old and 1 year old, so I have been trying to enjoy this time with them as much as possible.  They have summer birthdays, so there has been a lot of planning and cleaning.  We also went on one trip so far to visit some friends in NY near Ithaca.  It was so relaxing!
3.  Why did you start blogging?

      I wanted to get involved with TPT to help ends meet because my 4 year old has Cerebral Palsy and my coworker told me I had to get a blog going first.  I am so happy I did because it is so fun to share ideas, but to also have documentation of where I have been and what I have done.  I have also "met" some really great teachers in the whole process!
4.  How do you overcome or manage pencil issues in your classroom?

     I don't know!  I hate pencil issues!  One year I tried collecting all of the students pencils on the first day and doing the two buckets.  One for sharpened and one for needs sharpening, but it DID NOT WORK!  I always had that kid who would practically eat their pencil and needed a million new ones.  So sorry, but I do not have a good answer for you!
5.  What is your favorite movie?

      I don't think I have seen a movie that isn't somehow Disney or Pixar related in a LONG time!  Maybe my all time favorite is Wizard of Oz.  I remember every year my mom and I would lay on the couch together and watch it when it came on TV.  It definitely brings back great memories!  I have tried to continue that with my son, but he is not into that movie yet. :(
6.  What routine or procedure will you change for the upcoming school year?  Why?

    I am switching from 2nd to 1st this year, so I don't think I am to that point yet.  I am really happy with my routines and procedures.  So only time will tell!
7.  What would you be doing if you weren't an educator?

    About 5 years ago my husband and I began the "it's time to grow up and find a house" search.  We fell in LOVE with old houses and the idea of remodeling them.  Then we decided we were going to build a neighborhood like they had in the old days.  One with a sense of community and nostalgia.  One where you could go to the neighbor's house and borrow a cup of sugar and then they would invite you in and you would chat for hours over wine coffee.  We still have our sites set on that goal.  My husband actually just became a realtor and is at his first showing as I type!
8.  Where do you like to shop for your teacher materials?

     TARGET!  I love their back to school section and Dollar Spot.  They always have great deals.  TPT is also a huge one for me.  There are so many great sellers out there who offer great items, many of them FREEBIES!
9.  Who are the special people in your life?

    Without a doubt my family!  I couldn't imagine life without my husband Rick, and my children Gavin and Norah.  They are what make my world go round!
10. Who was your favorite K-12 teacher?  What impression did they leave on you?

    I remember my 2nd grade teacher the most, Mrs. Peggy Sue Buffington (no joke that was her name).  She actually was part of a huge life lesson for me and the reason I spent the last 5 years teaching 2nd grade.  So long story short when I was in 2nd grade we had a sub one day.  Some friends and I got the bright idea to take some of our teachers extra worksheets without asking.  So little by little we began taking them and putting them in our backpacks.  When I got home, my friend and I immediately began playing school with the door shut.  Nothing good happens behind a shut door!  My mom came in and caught us.  The next day my mom and dad marched me into her classroom and made me return the items and tell my teacher what I had done.  I was MORTIFIED!  Needless to say I NEVER did that again.  Maybe that was a good indication that I would be a teacher someday.  Little side note... why can't more parents be more like mine.  How many parents these days would do what they did!
11. What was your favorite show growing up? 

     Probably Mr. Roger's Neighborhood.  He had great life lessons and took the kids to many cool places that they probably wouldn't have seen otherwise.

#3 11 Random Facts about Myself (Gosh there are so many to pick from!)

1.  I  sleep on the left side of the bed.  I think this started because it is closest to the bathroom and I was pregnant when we moved into our new house.
2.  I have ready all of the Harry Potter books SEVERAL times.
3.  My middle name is Nicole' and I have an apostrophe after the "e".  My parents say there was a store in the mall called Nicole's and my dad liked the apostrophe.  It has just caused frustration, but it is still kind of fun.
4.  I met my husband in a bar (he is a musician and was the entertainment for the evening)! He likes to say he pulled a viking move because I had a boyfriend at the time.  Whatever you want to call it I am so happy we decided to go there that night.
5.  I am a bit OCD and have to count 3 steps on the escalator before I get on and I will NOT touch the railing. YUCK!
6.  I like to go to the dentist.  There is nothing better than a deep cleaned grill. LOL!
7.  I love to eat ice cream with crushed up Oreos and a dash of milk.  Then I stir it up and make it creamy.
8.  I love to bake and decorate cakes.  We found out my son has a peanut allergy a few years ago and we learned bakery products were usually not the safest.  So I began making his birthday cakes and I am starting to get pretty good at it!
9.  I ran track and was a cheerleader in high school.
10.  I am a HUGE procrastinator.  I will go out of my way to do something else before I do what I need to get done.
11.  My husband and I are in the process of starting a Non-Profit organization to benefit children and families who are dealing with Cerebral Palsy.  We think we are going to call it the Alexander Gray Foundation.  

Questions to My Nominees

1.  Why did you choose to go into teaching?
2.  What are your 3 favorite books to read to your class?
3.  What do you do in your free time?
4.  Who is your biggest inspiration? Why?
5.  If you were stuck on a desert island, what is the one thing you would have to have (not including the essential things to survive)? Why?
6.  What is your biggest pet peeve in the classroom?
7.  Why did you join the bloggy world?
8.  What are you most proud of?
9.  Where would you go on your dream vacation?
10. What toy do you miss from your childhood?
11.  What is your favorite song?

1. Georgia Grown Kiddos
2. The Wright Stuff
3. Teachin' H.A.
4. Cindy Sweeney's Class
5. Primary Teacherhood

This has been so fun looking for bloggers to nominate.  Thanks again to Charlotte for the nomination!  I hope everyone is having a wonderful summer!

Show off Your Piles and Classroom Management Tips Double Linky Party!


Summer Piles Linky
Summer is about halfway over for me and I have to say I feel unrested because I can't stop thinking about school stuff!  I don't think I am the only one.  If I was we wouldn't have a linky about piles of stuff!  I would like to thank Christina Bainbridge at Buntings, Books, and Bainbridge for hosting this linky!  Be sure to head back to her blog to feel better about your summer hoarding.  You aren't the only one, TRUST me!

So if you are like me you shop the dollar section at Target like an addict!  I walk down the aisles so slowly hoping to find the bit of buried treasure.  Every once in a while there is a true gem, but nothing like back to school time.  I have made friends with one of the managers at our local Target and asked her when they would start putting stuff out for teachers.  She told me to come check it out on July 7th.  So I have been patiently waiting for this day to come.  If you know me patience is NOT my strong suit and unfortunately for my children that is one of the traits they received from me.  So lucky!  

Today was the DAY!  So around 11, I put the kids to bed and asked my husband for the credit card.  That is ALWAYS bad news when I go to Target with the credit card.  It is bad news on a normal day, but back to school time. Fuggetaboutit!  When I got there I noticed it wasn't what I expected.  There were definitely some new items, but not the big moment I expected.  Nonetheless, I still found some gems!  They were actually trying to clear some stuff out for the back to school stuff, so a lot of the stuff was 70%!!!! I am a sucker for a sale!  

The square baskets in the back, jump ropes, fry holders, and mechanical pencils were all .30 a piece!  WHAT!  I bought all of the square baskets they had! Everything else was .90.  The yellow bins have to be my favorite purchase though.  I bought 7!  A little much? Maybe!  Ask me what I am going to do with this stuff... Gosh I don't know!  But seriously would YOU have passed up that deal?  Yeah I didn't think so!

I am really excited about the fry containers because awhile ago I pinned this activity!

I also found this awesome idea for a writing center using flashcards.  I found great flashcards at Target about the United States and Dinosaurs that I plan to incorporate into my writing centers too!

So I hope you feel a little better about your summer piles.  I know I do!

Classroom Management Linky
I would like to thank Mel D at Seusstastic and Freebie-Licious for hosting this Classroom Management Linky!  I love classroom management strategies.  What worked for you with one class may not work for another group, so it is always nice to hear what others have done and have them ready in your back pocket.  
Now I would like to share something with you that I have been working on for days.  I am kind of obsessed with lemons lately thanks to Krista Wallden ! I am so excited about it! It is the biggest and best item I have ever created!

A couple of years ago I got to go to a Harry Wong conference!  I LOVE him and it was so amazing to hear him, his wife, and one of his team members talk about the first days of school.  It really is important and gets you started on the right foot.

So after I saw him I came back to school and wanted to change everything!  Which is totally fine if is wasn't April.  So I started slowly by introducing procedures and believe it or not the kids caught on fast.

The following year I worked on my behavior plans.  The first thing I started using was a note for forgotten homework.  I am calling it my Sour Note.  

This is a great resource to have.  The kiddos fill out the form with what the missing assignment was and why they didn't turn it in.  You put the top half in their file and the bottom half goes home to be signed. You now have it at your fingertips when you have a angry  happy parent calling to rave about their child.  It works every time!  

The next thing I created was a Cool It! Note.  

This note is quietly slipped to the student during class time to remind them to choose the right behavior.  After you are done teaching your lesson or whatever you may be doing at the time you pull the student aside and you have a conference about their poor choice.  I am telling you it doesn't usually go much further than this.  I write notes on the note and put it in their file. Done!  

The final note it a Bitter Behavior Note. 

This is for multiple times being asked to Cool It! or a behavior that goes above and beyond a warning.  The student fills it out at school.  Then they take the bottom portion home to be signed by the parents. The final step is a detention, but honestly I did not give any out last school year.  

In my Classroom Management Pack I also included by favorite whole classroom management plan.  I turned it into the ever popular bunting. 

 The saying this time is "Good Behavior is Easy Peasy Lemon Squeezy". This is so simple to do!  You move the lemon slice to the next letter whenever the class as a whole is doing good.  Usually if they get started right away on morning work, working quietly, compliment from someone other than myself, or doing a fire drill the right way. When they get to the last letter they have to stay there for the whole day.  If they do you get to pick one of the reward cards.  I created 21 different things to do and most of them are FREE!  Who doesn't love free.

This seriously is the perfect combination of tools for the beginning of the year or when all else fails.  Give it a try and don't forget to link up with your summer piles or classroom management strategies!

On a side note I am in the process of creating a classroom blog.  I know others have done it and the parents seem to be really receptive and thankful to have a place to be a fly on the wall in their child's classroom.  I know I would be! (Yep! Helicopter Parent (I use restraint though) right here!  Anywhoo... I am having trouble coming up with a catchy name for the blog.  So I am asking all of you wonderfully talented people for your suggestions.  If I pick your name for the blog I will give you my Classroom Management Tools for FREE!  So comment with your idea and email.  I will have my awesome hubby help me pick. I will announce the winner as soon as we decide on my facebook page, so come like me!


Goin' on A Blog Hunt!

Google Reader is a thing of the past,  but have no fear Bloglovin' is here at last!  I want to send a HUGE shout out to Laura Candler from Corkboard Connections for hosting this Blog Hunt.  This is the perfect way to find some new blogs to follow or reconnect with ones you may have lost during the change over.
So it is super easy to sign up for Bloglovin' if you haven't yet and if you have all you do is click on the button below.  It will take you to Bloglovin' and you click follow.  Easy Peasy (as my students LOVE to say)!

Thank you to Melissa Mazur of Common Core and So Much More for the ADORABLE Bloglovin' button.

Thank you so much in advance for following me!

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