Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Two for Tuesday

So, of course everyone knows that TpT is having a 1-day sale tomorrow (which everyone is likely participating in - including me).  But 50% is greater than 28%, so I'm joining up with Teaching Tribune's Two for Tuesday.


Both my items are perfect for Back-to-School topics.  The first is my sentences, fragments, run-ons product.  It has task cards, worksheets, and a couple of center sheets that can be put into erasable sleeves.  This is normally $3.00.

My second product half off are my capitalization task cards.  Normally $2.50.  I had bought task cards last year for grades 3-5, but found that they went quite a bit farther than my fourth graders needed. These are not easy, but just right for 4th graders to be successful in demonstrating understanding.

I'm off to my district's Professional Development Day, and then our Open House later tonight.  Then I'll be looking to see what everyone else has on sale!

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Made It Monday - DIY planner for less than $5

Well, today is my first official day back!  Students start on Thursday this week.  Getting up early wasn't too bad.  My husband always delivers my coffee before he heads out, making it much easier!  I'm thinking it won't be so easy for my two kids on Thursday.

I'm super excited about my new planner and gradebook spirals.  I've always designed my own lesson plan pages, and have used a binder in the past.  The binder is bulky however, and with laptop and papers, takes up valuable real estate in my school bag.  Plus, this year I'm only teaching ELA.  Last year I made an assessment page for each student, which is nice, but that's 66 pages that also will need to go home often.  I got the idea about making these items spiral bound from a blog post, and found out that Office Max does it for $4.29.  Plus, teachers get an additional 25% off (this week anyways).  The cost includes a clear cover and vinyl back.  The downside is that they are for up to 40 pages.  My planner was a bit more, but they didn't check.  I think the 40 page limit is slightly flexible.

Besides only paying $13.78 for ALL these, I got to make them exactly how I like them.

In my planner are 38 lesson plan pages.  I only need one page a week since I'm only teaching ELA.  Plus, I skipped all the specials schedules, lunch, recess, etc.  There's no need.  We all know this stuff, and it's just a space waster, my pages are for plans only!  All that other minutia is just for sub plans.  So this is my template this year:

Other stuff I included were calendar pages.  I found great free pages from Marshall in the Middle. There are 4 separate downloads for the whole year, but free and cute??  Whatever.  I also have our school calendar, my one page CCSS cheat sheet, printouts of student addresses and phone numbers, and some pages I made for notes and important information.

For my gradebook pages, I have a page for each student that tracks the CCSS through our Wonders series.  See my store for a free document I put together to plan out how I cover this, and for the assessment pages.  I also have some traditional checklist pages, and a few pages that I have student boxes to enter observational information during guided reading, or for speaking and listening notes.  The only thing I don't have here is a place to track writing progress.  This will need to be done separately.  Still looking for a great way to do this!

I am super excited to use these this year, and even more excited to use my new pens.  I think the blogging world is full of great secrets, and I'm glad to be learning them.  My friend Kate knew about these, but I just found them, so thought I'd pass on the info to anyone else.  FriXion pens are perfect for those that hate pencils, but are always changing their minds.  They are erasable, and a big improvement on the old erasable pen technology!  Skeptical, I only bought a 3-pack.  They work, but are a bit pricey.  I did a little research on these pens last night.  The technology is based on heat, which is why the ink disappears with friction when you rub it (hence the name).  Super high heat alone (hot car in summer) can make it disappear, and super cold (freezer) can bring it back!  I tried it last night and it worked.  Super cool...


I certainly hope that I will find time to keep up with blogging once school is in full swing.  I started this summer, and have learned so much!  I now have 25 followers, and my TpT store has gone from 14 to 45 followers.  Since I make my products for myself and students first, I stand by them as being my best quality.  Kudos to those who are conquering multiple grades to make more of a business out of this, but my stuff is specially designed for 4th grade, and it's nice to know that others find my stuff valuable.  My goal was to have 50 followers before the end of summer.  Not sure if that's tomorrow, or Thursday when the students come, or by the "official" date on the calendar, but I'm happy with how close I came.

One last thing, my daughter has also benefited from my blogging and crafting, and has enjoyed making stuff too.  Her latest was for a close friend who is moving away.  I think it's pretty cool and want to share.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Meet the Teacher

Well, it's WAY late for me, but I just learned some very interesting things about my dear friend Kate from this link-up, so I'm going to join in the fun too.  Stephanie, from Falling into First, has created "Meet the Teacher Blogger."



I'm a 40 year-old teacher from Ohio who, like many of you, gets paid to have fun every day while "working."  I've taught for 17 years.  This will be my 10th in fourth grade, and I've also taught 3rd, 1st, a 4/5 combination, and have been a Title 1 reading teacher.  Each year has taught me something that has made me a better person and teacher.

When I'm not teaching, I'm trying to keep up with my 11 year-old son, and my 13-year old daughter.  My wonderful husband and amazing dog are always there for support.


Family, tennis (mostly watching), running (well, not so much lately), playing card games or board games, learning, and blogging (this is very new to me).

I would want to work at Disney, and play Tinkerbell as she "flies" from the top of Cinderella's castle each night (weather permitting).

hard-working, helpful, creative  

"I chose this career for the salary and benefits."

Rafael Nadal (because he's on "my list")
Oscar Wilde
Edward Dressel

Joan's Daughter

Seriously, no one forgets my mom, and that's usually how I'm remembered.

Flying - overused I know, but it's me!  Parachuting is the closest I've come.

Hard to pick one, I love quotes.  So how about, "It's not the years in your life that count, it's the life in your years."  Abe Lincoln.

These Boots Were Made for Walking - Nancy Sinatra.  Very little range, perfect for the vocally challenged.

I feel old....but morning person.

My Greek and Latin Roots product!  I just started on TpT in January, and this was an early product, but it was fun to teach, and is my most popular too!

I was a horrible student myself. Hated school, and most of my teachers.  I rarely did homework, but usually did well on tests.  Got mostly C's, but many D's and F's.  I got an F in religion at my Catholic High School, and an F in Chemistry.  But that's only because my teacher made us sing a stupid safety song if we even touched the lab's linoleum without our goggles.  Which I did, and refused to sing, so he yelled at me and I didn't turn anything else in for the rest of the semester.  I'm sure most of my teachers would be SHOCKED to find out I'm not a teacher myself.
So that's me, boring (unlike my mom).  I think it's my way of rebelling against my hippie parents (who are actually my best friends).

Made It Monday - Readbox

Once again, I'm linking up with Tara at Fourth Grade Frolics for Made It Monday.

I have been enjoying checking out everyone's Made It Monday posts for the last several weeks.  My classroom is starting to look like a Pinterest Board exploded in there, and now everything I look at seems to need a makeover!  Soon I may need intervention....

So excited about my Readbox.  When I saw this, I thought it was the cutest idea ever.  The person who came up with this idea should feel honored to see how it's now all over.  At first, I couldn't see how it could possibly work with my long shelves of chapter books with book baskets on top.  Then, DING, the bell went off.  I have another bookshelf that I use for my literature group book sets that would be perfect.  Sadly, I didn't take a before pic, but here's how it came out.  Unfortunately, the copiers were down, so I don't yet have the sign I made for the middle.

I spray painted the bookshelf, used red paper on the wall, and used Washi tape at the border for decoration.  The book baskets were already red, and I was surprised how close all the reds were.  I used our Ellison die to cut out the letters, and used a spray on adhesive.  The curve at the top was trickier.  My daughter and I projected the image onto my Smart Board, I traced and then cut out.

 Our new series has some pretty tough vocabulary words, which is nice from the way-too-easy words of our last series.  I'd been debating some sort of a word wall for this year.  What I ended up with is a vocab wall (bulletin board on the right).  I plan to put the current week's words (plus any others that we may choose) in the top section of the grid by part of speech.  Then each week, words we choose to keep around for a bit will be moved to the lower section.  Once we feel we've got a word down pat, it gets "retired."  These words will be put onto popsicle sticks for our Looney sticks game to use for Friday's flex day.  More to come on that later.  I'm also thinking about letting students put a star around a word if they use it, or find it in a text.  I'll have 3 different classes, so I'm not quite sure how that would work yet.  But happy about how the board came out.  Michaels had all their teacher stuff 50% off, and then I also JUST found out that you can get another 15% off if you show teacher ID.  So, I got these chevron letters and all new borders.

I actually made this product earlier this year to help cover the 4th grade "grade-level spelling" standard.  We still gave spelling tests (changing that up this year though!), but I never felt that the traditional spelling tests are any indication of spelling ability, more like memorization ability.  So I made this task card set to help assess.  As I made it I thought that it would be great to use this at the beginning of the year as a preassessment, and then again towards the end.  So it's in my plans to use in the coming weeks, plus I'll use it as an introduction to using task cards in my room.

There are 28 cards with common 4th grade spelling words, with the last 8 cards getting a little tougher (ex: beautiful and favorite).  This set is $2.50, but I've just marked them down for $2.  You may also want to check out my FREEBIE on using task cards, or my bundle that has 8 sets of task cards designed for 4th grade for $8.  Unlike some others who make their cards for grades 3-5 to make more money, I design my products specifically for 4th grade!

FREEBIE in my TpT store.

My bundle of 8 sets of task cards
School officially starts for me next Monday, but I have school obligations everyday this week except for Wednesday.  That's one of the reasons I wanted to get a jump start on my room.  Well, maybe it's more of an excuse for me anyways, I really just was excited to implement some of the great ideas I've been getting from all of the bloggers I've been following.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Five for Friday - New Blog Design

I'm linking up with Doodle Bugs for Five for Friday again. 

Here are 5 things from my week to share with all of you.  Hope at least one of them is useful, or at least interesting to read.

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If you've been to my blog before, you may notice it looks different.  Kristin, over at That Fancy Blog Boutique did the design.   Very happy with the final look, and can't wait to change a few more things.  I need to fix up the side, and get something on My Classroom page.  Now that I've been back in my room, I can start taking pics and putting them up on there.

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 I feel bad that I've been getting a little side-tracked in this blogging world, and have lost sight a little of my original purpose, which is focusing on using our new series McGraw Hill Wonders.  So, I plan to make sure that I put a little into each post.  Once school gets started, I'm sure that focus will grow.  For today, my number two is a "needle in the Wonder's Resourse haystack."  I've been going through each of the folders and taking notes on the good, bad, and ugly.  Here's a good:  If you are planning to implement PARCC testing, this resource looks pretty good.  Of course, until you actually USE a resource with students, you never truly know... 

I think they might have these at every level, at least I checked with a second grade colleague.  Even if levels don't administer PARCC, it helps students to be prepared when they have ample exposure to a certain format.

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BOOK TO MOVIE REVIEW: A couple of week's ago, I linked up with someone about making the book The Giver into a movie.  I was not excited, as it's my favorite book, and movies always screw it up.  I usually won't even watch them.  So last night I fell for it, I watched Divergent.  I only read the book as a bonding experience with my 13 year-old.  The book was pretty good.  I even read Insurgent, but it lost it's feel, so I'm not reading the final book in the Trilogy.  Well, the movie did disappoint. I barely connected with any of the characters, and then the ending????  Whatever!  I did enjoy The Fault in Our Stars.  Another book I read at the request of my daughter.  Good book, and actually enjoyable movie. 


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I can't believe how many of you are already back in school!  I still have until the 18th (21st with students) and our neighbor Michiganders are even later yet.  It's great that I'm behind the average, I've enjoyed getting ideas from all of you.  As a matter of fact, I need to get going on my second coat of spray paint for my next project, check back Monday (hopefully it turns out).

Divider 5 

FREEBIE - I'm celebrating my new blog, and the many mini-goals I've hit this summer with my new blogging adventure.  The only goal I haven't hit is getting 50 followers on TpT.  I still have a little time to go.  If I can get this before I start school, I will make my most wishlisted item free for a day.  If I make this goal, I'll announce the item on my blog.  Here's a new item in my store that I'm making free for today:  Editable Book Basket Labels.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

First Wordless Wednesday - No more "no names" or morning busy work.

This is my first time linking up with Christina at Sugar and Spice for her Wordless Wednesday.  I like the idea behind this linky (there I finally used the word - not a fan, too cutesy), so I'm giving it a try.


I'm putting two things in this post, first are my turn in trays I tried out last year:

In the top photo you can see how each tray is labeled by class number, 1-5, 6-10, etc.  The top one is for office notes.  And the second picture shows how they put their number in the top right corner of each paper.  Not only are they supposed to put their paper in the right tray, but in the right place within that tray.  When a students forget their name, they likely forgot their number too.  Turning in their papers with this task is a perfect reminder for number AND NAME.  I don't think I had ANY NO NAME PAPERS LAST YEAR.  Amazing right?  Definitely doing this again.  And here's the other great part, papers are super easy to check, and put in the grade book since they are already in order.

Okay, my second thing is really where I have a question for others.  Last year, maybe the last two years, I honestly can't remember.  I decided to not give morning work.....GASP.  I know this seems crazy, and others in my building think so too, but here's my logic.

1.  In our building, students can come in at 8:30, but school starts at 8:45.  Those with habitually late buses never get morning work finished, and are punished by needing to use recess or other time to get this done.  Totally not fair.

2.  Morning work is usually pretty easy work, so it's necessary, and then one more thing to grade.  And if you don't grade it, students know and don't try hard.  So what's the point?

3.  Kids need social time and to talk!  I tell my students that this is their time to catch up with friends, chat about what they did last night, and to wake up in an energetic environment.  I also use this time to chat with my students and enjoy connecting with them.  This is an AGREEMENT that I make with my students at the beginning of the year.  I give them this time, then when school officially starts, it OUR time to learn.

4.  Back to number 2 - If this work is not challenging or graded, isn't it a waste of paper?  Multiple the number of students times school days.  Now for every teacher who does this.... Yikes.  

I'm open to ideas about morning work, and maybe a morning task that doesn't require paper, is fun and can be done socially with others.

So here's my question.  What is your morning routine that you feel works well for you and your students?

Monday, August 4, 2014

Monday Made It!

Two weeks from today is our first day of school - I almost feel like it will be a vacation to go back. I'm linking up with Tara from Fourth Grade Frolics for Monday Made It.

No cute crafts, but I worked extra hard to get my whole year's worth of ELA sheets done for the TpT sale.  I have three front and back differentiated sheets for each week, plus 2 colorful posters to go with the coordinating quote for each week.  8 sheets per week for 30 weeks - that's 240 PAGES....  Then there was the painstaking proofreading, fixing, and then getting ready for my store.  I'm super glad that I'm using these, and I really like them, because there's NO WAY I'll make enough money on these to compensate for my efforts.  But that's what it's all about, making things for yourself, and any money is just a nice bonus.  So here's my product for anyone using McGraw Hill Wonders - 4th grade.  And like most everyone, my whole site is on sale for 20% off.

240 sheets for $9.  BUT only $6.50 through tomorrow's TpT sale.

I posted some pictures in earlier posts, but I'm celebrating the fact that I "made-it" home safely and sanely from a 2,650 mile drive vacation from Toledo to Saint John, Canada.  It was a great trip with my kids and my dad.  I won't bore you with details, but we created memories my kids will never forget.  Interesting fact (and the reason for our trip into Canada), the Bay of Fundy has the biggest tides in the world.  Where we were, we saw the tide rise 28.5 feet in just 6 hours.  Here is one photo at 9 am, and another at 3 pm.

Another thing I'm celebrating is that the water ban has been lifted.  Toledo (which I'm located in a suburb of) made national news with their water crisis.  Thank goodness I checked FB while waiting for my coffee to brew Saturday morning.  Otherwise, I would have drank the coffee with water that contained toxins that already were affecting me from the water I drank before bed.... Not fun...  So 48 hours of fun:(  Ban has been lifted, but we will be drinking bottled water for the next few days just in case.


On a happy note, I think my new blog design is almost done.  I'm going to show a preview here so that you can do some comparison to what I have.  Hopefully my next post will be with the new design in place. 

Happy Monday,