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!


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.



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!


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.  


Wordless Wednesday- June 11th: Better Me!

It has been a few weeks, but I am linking up with Sugar and Spice for another Wordless Wednesday.  Sorry that this post is going to have more words than usual! :)

I have recently been following a bunch of wonderful ladies on Instagram who are making healthy lifestyle choices.  I decided to give it a try.  So far I have been focusing on what goes in my mouth.  I found this wonderful recipe on my Pinterest board and because I don't cook I passed it onto my husband.  It was DELICIOUS!!

 I have also been trying to find healthier snack options.  Summer break has turned me into a pantry and fridge frequent flier!  On the left is frozen mangos, peaches, pineapple, and bananas with a small amount of Cool Whip (I probably should have left that out).  On the right is a banana covered with Wowbutter (my son is allergic to peanut butter), Simply Balanced Vanilla Bean Granola, and raisins.  They were both AMAZING and left me very satisfied.

Have you recently made a healthier lifestyle change?  What healthy recipes do you enjoy?  Please share!!


Two for Tuesday

I am linking up with The Teaching Tribune again today!  I have put two of my TPT items on sale for 50% off.

They are two of my most popular items AND you can use them all year long, so if  you are pre-planner pick them up now at this stellar deal.

Lemonade Themed Classroom Management Tools has everything you need to get your classroom management off on the right foot!

My kids LOVE the Groovy Cat and they love to create stories about him!  These writing activities feature the Groovy Cat throughout the seasons and holidays.  

Thanks for stopping by!


Monday Meet Up: Meet Me!

I am so excited to be linking up with The Teaching Tribune for Monday Meet Up!  This week each blogger is introducing you to themselves!  How fun.  I can't wait to learn a little more about them.

I have not officially announced it yet to the bloggy world, but I am moving back to 2nd grade next year.  My principal approached me a few weeks ago and told me I was moving back.  I was devastated because I love my little firsties.  Honestly, I think I am still in denial.  Notice the word tentatively in the picture above.  I am praying that all of the student numbers go up!  I am even waiting until August to move my stuff.  I am going to go kicking and screaming. :)  Luckily I have a few BFF's on my old 2nd grade team.  

Who watches Pretty Little Liars????  OMG after 1 1/2 episodes I can NOT believe that I am hooked so quickly.  I even stayed up past 10 last night watching it!  Haha!  Yes, I said 10.  I am a 31 year old trapped in a 90 year old body.  I can barely keep my eyes open past 9.  L.A.M.E.  I know I am not the only one out there.  Am I right?

My daughter, Norah, is going through a huge "Mommy's girl" phase.  Don't get me wrong I LOVE it and her, but sometimes mommy just needs her space.  My son is pretty independent, but right now he is beating away on his drum kit (which isn't supposed to happen until after 8 am and it is 7:30).  Not what you like to listen to so early in the morning after staying up past 10. :)

I am a sucker for summer reading.  Never in my wildest dreams would I have pegged myself for a summer professional development kind of girl, but here I am doing a Daily 5 Book Study.  I just love Daily 5 and how it has changed me as a teacher and the dynamic of my classroom.

So that is me in a nutshell!  Head back to The Teaching Tribune to learn about some more awesome bloggers.


Daily 5 Book Study- Chapters 1 & 2

 I am so excited to be part of The Daily 5 Second Edition Book Study and to be linking up with Freebielicious and Seusstastic.  Join us throughout the month as we discuss the newest book by The 2 Sisters we know and love, Gail Boushey & Joann Moser.  If you have not been doing The Daily 5 the past few years then you are in for a treat.  My whole classroom dynamic has changed dramatically!  If you have been doing it, then I think you are going to be in for a pleasant surprise with some changes and additions that have been made.

Before I go any further, I HIGHLY suggest you pick up your own copy.  I am a huge fan of highlighting, note taking, and dog earring pages I must refer back to.  It isn't uncommon to see the book on my lap in the first few days of introducing The Daily 5 to my sweet kiddos with notes pointing each and every direction.  So hurry, go add it to your Amazon account!

Chapter 1: That Was Then, This Is Now: How the Daily 5 Has Evolved
I was reading this chapter in the car when my family and I were heading to Chicago.  At one point I closed the book and just stared off into space.  My husband looked at me wondering what the heck was wrong with me.  I told him that I felt like I had more freedom with how I structure Daily 5 in my classroom with the changes.  It was such a weight lifted off of my shoulders!

In the past I was trying so hard to fit in each rotation everyday.  It was next to impossible with the crazy schedule I have to keep.  So I began breaking (in my mind) The Daily 5 law.  I was ashamed and embarrassed.  Sad I know!  I began doing a few rounds during my Literacy block in the morning and then I would do a few rounds during my RTI time.  Some kids were missing out because they were going to pull-out groups.  It was stressing me out!

OMG I have been let off the law breaking hook!  They now are leaning towards 3 rounds of Daily 5.  That I can do!  This way students, once they build their stamina, are able to work for longer periods in a round.  Better for the students and teacher?  I would say so!  They have also given the go ahead to break it up into pieces if our schedule just doesn't have the flow needed: focus lesson, recess, round 1, etc.

They now have 2 "have-to" rounds of Read to Self and Work on Writing.  I love this because I felt my students were constantly gravitating towards Listen to Reading or Word Work, and they didn't need that constant practice in that area.  Those students such as English Language Learners may need 5-10 minutes of Listen to Reading and then they can move onto the "have-to" list.  You may have a student struggling with some phonics skills, give them a timer for 10 minutes and send them to the Word Work area.  My mind is blown because I had never thought of structuring my time this way.  

The last addition that I am super excited about is the introduction of Math Daily 3.  I have been struggling all year to get something like this going in my classroom.  I can't wait to read on to see how they have structured it.  I think this will make a tremendous difference in my daily struggle in Math with my kiddos.

Chapter 2: Our Core Beliefs:  The Foundations of the Daily 5

Trust and Respect

The portion of the chapter focuses on giving the students trust and not filling their hands with "activities" that are unauthentic.  If you give the students the skills and strategies they will go much further at becoming more independent and building stamina.  This trust is especially important when working with your students in one-on-one or small group situations.  You also need to trust that each student is doing their very best and that is all you can ask of them at that moment.


With the sense of community established students will feel comfortable cheering one another on or putting them on the right path to building comprehension and fluency skills.  


So many times I wanted to take the choice factor away from my kiddos.  I just felt like they couldn't handle making the right choices for themselves.  But throughout my experience and reading I have learned that it is quite the opposite.  Students WILL work harder for what they want to do!  Aren't we all like that?  


Students are now accountable for choosing a great place in the room where they can sit and be engaged in an activity or their volume during work time.  This leaves us the freedom to be working meaningfully with small groups.

Brain Research

I always relate reading to baseball.  I ask them how you get better at baseball and they ALWAYS tell me, "by practicing".  I tell them that is exactly how you get better with reading too.  It shocks them every time!  The 2 Sisters recommend keeping your focus lessons short and sweet, so that the students have the most practice time they can get.  They teach with a 20/80 ratio.  20% of your time should be spent teaching and 80% of their time should be spent practicing.  This makes perfect sense to me.  

Transitions as Brain and Body Breaks

The transitions between rounds and the focus lesson are the perfect way to refocus the students' brain and give the opportunity for another focus lesson.  By providing these transitions we give our students a greater chance at focusing independently during their work time. 

I can't wait to read what The 2 Sisters have in store for the rest of the book!  My wheels are already turning and I have only been on summer break for 3 days. Oy!!  I hope you have found some of this information helpful.  Here is a little Daily 5 freebie I have created.  Enjoy!

This FREE product is not endorsed or approved by The 2 Sisters.


Hello Summer!

I believe I can officially say that I am on summer break and happier than Olaf with his own personal flurry!

I actually feel like I could be Olaf after the winter we had! LOL!

I am so excited to get B2B (Back to Blogging).  I have not been very good about it this school year.  It has been a DOOZY of a year!  I do have some really fun things planned to blog about though.  If you are a mommy to a soon to be Kinder you will want to start following me.  My son is starting Kindergarten in the fall and we are all about having fun and getting ready for school.  It should be great!
I also have a few other things up my sleeve, so be sure to stay close.  

See you soon!

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