Sunday, September 30, 2012

Teacher Wisdom at Dog Obedience Class AND a Big "Thank You!"

I was supposed to finish up a "Fall for All" Literacy and Math pack tonight to post...but it just didn't happen.  I am super excited to share it with you!
Math games with spider rings? Oh yea. They're in there.
Do you have any idea what a child will do for a spider ring?  They go BANANAS for them.
Go ahead and grab a bag at the Dollar Tree because I hope to be back early in the week to get that pack to you in time to use...before it becomes "Scarecrows and Spiders in Winter" Literacy and Math pack. 
Oy.  Not enough time in the day.
On another note...I have been absolutely blown away by all of the sweet comments I received in response to my 100 followers giveaway.  It quickly became my 200 followers giveaway...and I couldn't be more thankful to all of you sweet ladies who are helping to make it happen.  Keep spreading the word...giveaway doesn't end until Friday at midnight.  Thank you from the bottom of my heart.  I have read every single comment and the encouraging words have made my heart so happy.  I have not responded to everyone yet...but I will!
I have a big THANK YOU freebie in the works for my new followers and the sweet friends who have helped them find me. :) Stay tuned!
This week we are working on a decoding strategy with our reading buddy "Eegore the Eagle."
He uses his "eagle eye" to look for picture clues to figure out unknown words. 
So, in the past...I have used coloring book pages to do this activity. 
(By the way...that's one of my kid's favorite writing activities.  It's super easy and quick (even for an emergency substitute plan!).  I pick up coloring books whenever I find them cheap, and then I pull out the pages that I like and my kiddos can choose one and write a story about what's happening in the picture.  Then, they get to color it!)
My coloring book pages were looking a little rough when I pulled them out again this year so I went ahead and made a little something to use this week that I can share with you.
There are ten different pictures.  For each picture, there are three separate pages.  The first page shows a picture with some key words "blacked out."  Students should use clues from the picture to guess the unknown word.
Then, you can show students the second picture with only the beginning sounds of the "mystery" words showing so that they can make the connection between using phonics with their new picture strategy.  They should think about/revise their guesses based on the beginning sounds.

Finally, you can reveal the picture with the entire sentence!  They will get so daggone excited when they realize they guessed the word correctly.
Such a simple activity, but it leads to such great discussions about decoding unknown words.  This is also a great time to introduce "schema" to your students. More specific instructions are included. :)
I hope you can use this to make your students more confident readers! 
 It is on sale for $1 in my TPT store.  Grab it here.
If you are not interested in a long-winded story about my dog, you should stop reading now.  If you'd like to know what I learned about teaching at dog obedience class on. :)
I learned a lot at Sawyer's dog obedience class today. I wish I could say the same for Sawyer....
Well, kinda kidding. :)
Bless his heart.  That's all I can say.
To make a long story short, Sawyer used to go to doggy daycare, the dog park, you name it...I did all of the right "socializing" things a pet mom is supposed to do.
Then, one day at a park, his moron mom (me) didn't put his leash on right and he ran up to a dog that was less than friendly. It made him very unsure about certain dogs. So, we got him "professional help." First...some one on one training sessions. Now, we're in "group therapy" as Andy calls it.
Sawyer's "issues" make me sad. They have even made me cry. Obviously, I may be a tad more attached to my dog than some (or most).
And a tad more emotional than some (or most).
But it does bother me a lot that we can't take him out in public like we used to. It bothers me that people give me a disapproving look when we go on walks. Or worse...when they make snotty comments about how I really should "get him used to other dogs." (Like I've never thought of that before ;))
Not having kids of my own yet, the closest thing I have to try to understand what parents must feel like is how I feel about my dog. I've had some "a-ha" moments throughout the process, especially today.
It's hard to have "that dog" that has to be in the corner because he flips out when dogs walk by him. It's hard not to compare my dog to the other dogs in the class. It's hard not to get frustrated with one step forward and two steps back. It's hard not to want to defend him or blame his behavior on someone or something else. And it's hard to keep going to class celebrate the small successes when the progress is so slow.
Just as I would imagine it's hard for parents when they get a letter that their child must be pulled out for remediation, or that they didn't do well on a math test, or they are having trouble getting along with their peers.
I know that my dog is a sweet, gentle, love bug...just as the parents of my students know how precious their children are. It's hard when you don't think others see that.
I also know how much it means when the trainer points out  progress, gives encouragement, and doesn't constantly dwell on his flaws.
Maybe those of you who have children of your own don't need as much of a reminder about that, but it certainly makes me think about myself as a teacher. 
Especially as we all are heading into "conference season." I know it's a fine line between being informative and being negative...but I also know I will be thinking about the lump in my throat in dog obedience class when I'm talking to my parents at our fall conferences.  
And since Sawyer is sitting beside me..he'd also like for me to add that he wasn't THAT bad at class today. 
And finally...I have to steal our sweet trainer's philosophy that she ends each class with...
"Practice makes progress."
Perfection is not always the end goal...and that's OK. 
 I hope you celebrate some small successes this week. Have a FABULOUS one!
And remember as you're working with your precious children...practice makes progress. ;)
Happy teaching to you!

Friday, September 28, 2012

HUGE 100 followers giveaway!

Happy Friday!  I am ridiculously excited to post about this giveaway! 
(I'm pretty darn excited about reaching 100 followers too! Thank you for making that happen!)
My fiance is at the firehouse, so it's just me and this guy tonight.


At least he's handsome, right?
It's 6:00 pm and I'm already in my comfortable clothes pajamas.
(Let's just go ahead and be honest and call them what they are.)
Because what else is there to do on a Friday night besides blog in your pajamas, right?

Enough about my wild and crazy Friday night...on to the giveaway!
 I have 20 amazing teachers joining with me to offer an opportunity to stock up on some AWESOME products!  I am constantly in awe of how generous the blogworld (and educators in general) truly are!
I'm also throwing in my Sight Word Super Pack...


a $25 gift card to my favorite store to find cute teacher clothes....
Ann Taylor Loft.

Beause everyone needs a pair of colored skinny jeans pants or some denim trousers to wear when it's not a dress down day. ;) 
Am I right?
These are some of my absolute favorite blogs and TPT stores.  Go ahead and check out their blogs and stores to get a little preview of what you can win!
Rachelle @ What the Teacher wants is offering ANY item from her TPT store
Abby @ The Inspired Apple is offering ANY item from her TPT store.
Deedee @ Mrs. Wills Kindergarten is offering a set of her Literacy Task Cards
Sarah @ First Grade Snippets is offering her set of Writing Rubrics.
Sour Apple Studio
Kelley @ the Teacher Idea Factory is offering her latest Good Morning Work pack.

The Teacher Wife
Lindsey @ The Teacher Wife is offering her brand new Halloween Unit.
Leading and Reading
Stacy @ Leading and Read is offering ANY item from her Teacher's Notebook store.
First Grade Blue Skies
Jennifer @ First Grade Blue Skies is offering ANY pack from her TPT store.
Teaching Fourth

Kelly @ Teaching Fourth is offering ANY  item from her TPT store.

Rebecca @ Darlin' in First is offering her "I Mustache...What are you Reading?" pack from her TPT store.
Teri @ A Cupcake for the Teacher is offering ANY item from her TPT store.
Falling into First
Stephanie @ Falling Into First is offering ANY item from her TPT store.
Heather's heart
Heather @ Heather's Heart is offering ANY TWO items from her TPT store.
Special Teacher for Special Kids
Special Teacher for Special Kids is offering a set of Task Cards from her TPT store.
Heather @ The Busy Busy Hive is offering ANY item from her TPT store.
The Paper Maid
Deborah @ The Paper Maid is offering ANY item from her TPT store.
Rikki @ The Hive is offering her brand new Probability unit.
Casey @ Second Grade Math Maniac is offering ANY item from her TPT store.
Jessica @ Mrs. Stanford's Class is offering ANY item from her TPT store.
Flying into First Grade
Latoya @ Flying Into First Grade is offering ANY item from her TPT store.

Ummm...WOW.  I think I want to win my own giveaway. :) 

Enter below!
This giveaway will end next Friday October 5th at midnight.  I will be in touch with the winner on Saturday.

Good luck to you!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Fall Freebie!

 Hope you're having a fabulous fall weekend!  The weather is nothing short of perfect here in Virginia!  I was hoping to have all of my fall activities ready to share today...but it doesn't look as though that is going to happen. 
Life is getting in the way. :)
I still have grades to enter and lesson plans to do.  My morning was spent at a group obedience class with Sawyer.  He has some...ahem, "issues"...that we are trying to work out. He needs practice being in the same space with other dogs, following commands with distractions, etc. 
Andy calls it "group therapy."
I call it nerve-wracking.
Anyways, we survived another week of that and all three of us are worn out from it.
I do have one activity (a fall poem!) that I wanted to share, in case you are able to use it this week.  We are studying the seasonal changes this week and this is one of my favorite activities to do with my kiddos.  It makes a beautiful fall display on our bulletin board when paired with some fall artwork. 
I love to read this book:
before writing our poems, but you certainly don't have to. 
Now...if I could just decide what fall art projects I will have time for.  Darn pinterest is giving me too many options!!

By the way....the ADORABLE fonts I used on this poem template are from Rowdy in Room 300. I love them...they are my new favorites.  I just found her blog and it is too cute!
So head on over to to download them for FREE.  She actually MADE them using an ipad app.  Can you believe that??
If you are able to use my freebie, please follow my blog and my TPT store. It means a lot. :)
Thank you so much for stopping by!
Happy teaching to you  (and Happy Fall!)



Saturday, September 22, 2012

Giveaway Winner!

Woohoo! Congratulations, Denise!  So glad that you won my Sight Word Super Pack! I hope you love using it as much as I do. :)
I will be emailing you shortly.
Please share my blog link so I can start planning a 100 follower giveaway. Rafflecopter is way too much fun!
I hope to be back very soon with some fun fall activities & freebies.
Happy Saturday to you!

Friday, September 21, 2012

Fall Linky!

The super duper cute Mrs. Wheeler over at Mrs. Wheeler's First Grade Tidbits invited me to link up for her fall sale! 

Then...I realized TONS of bloggers were celebrating the first day of fall with sales!
Ahh! I'm not quite finished with the fall activities I was planning to share (being sick this week has been rrrrrough!)  but I don't like to miss out on good sales!
(Plus, if you haven't checked out her cute blog...head on over.  I love her blog, you will too!)
So...for now, here is a little fall freebie for ya!
My firsties are shying away from taking chances with their writing.  They are stuck in a
"I like ________."
"I see a ________."
writing rut.
I'm ridiculously happy if they just write a sentence with finger spaces and a capital letter and period right now, so I'm not complaining....but I made these silly fall sentences to encourage them to take a risk and write some new things.
These are fall sentences...with a twist. 
A scarecrow having a birthday party with a squirrel?
A ghost eating a lollipop?
A cat with a bumblebee on it's tail?
of course.
I think they will have fun with these. :) 
I sure had fun making them...but maybe that was the cold medicine taking over...
In any case, help yourself if you think your kiddos would enjoy writing some silly sentences to go with these crazy pictures!
And, yes....everything in my TPT store is on sale tomorrow (20% off). 

Check out these linky parties to find TONS of bloggers with good sales going on! :)
Second Grade Math Maniac  <---just found her blog and am lovin' it!
But if there's anything I love more than a good's FREE stuff. 
And...pssssst.... almost everything in my store is free. :)
So head on over and stock up!
I'll be back soon with tons more FALL activites.  Be sure to follow my blog and TPT store so you'll be able to check it out when I get it all posted....lots of freebies!

Here is my current best seller.  An entire year's worth of Dolch sight word curriculum with word cards, daily assignments, homework, assessments, weekly oral reading checks, etc.

I'm getting close(ish) to 100 followers and I'd love to start planning a fabulous giveaway.
Just sayin'.  ;)
Happy Weekend to you...and Happy Fall!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Classroom Management Linky

So excited that the sweet ladies over at What the Teacher Wants decided to host a Classroom Management Linky!  I am always on the lookout for new and exciting things to encourage my kiddos to make good choices.  
Unfortunately I have been SICK as a dog this week.  All stinkin' week.  I should have gone to the doctor sooner but of course at the peak of feeling yucky, I had back to school night Tuesday night.  That  To top it off, Andy has an eye infection and he can't exactly do his job (he's a firefighter) with glasses so he's been out of work this week too.  Our house is a hot, hot mess. We need a biohazard sign on the front door.
 No worries though, Sawyer has been taking very good care of us. His bedside manner is incredible. ;)
I took a half day Wednesday to go to the doctor and got some antibiotics.  Then, as much as it KILLED me to take a day so early in the year...I broke down and took today off.  I absolutely detest missing a day of school.  I'm glad I did though.  I got some much needed rest and even though I'm far from 100%, I think I'll be able to make it in tomorrow to finish up our apple unit with crockpot applesauce and biscuits as a special treat for my babies!
My classroom will smell so yummy, can't wait!
My unexpected day off made me realize I need to quit procrastinating and go ahead and put Rachelle's Substitute Survival Kit together!  I've had it for a while and it is fantastic.  I just need to print it out and fix it up with my more procrastinating!  If you don't have some emergency sub plans go ahead and grab her kit and get ready...just in case. we go.  My classroom management plan is pretty simple, but it works for me.
We have a schoolwide program that our fabulous guidance counselor implements that goes along with this sweet book.
We put marbles in a bucket anytime they make good decisions as a class or an adult catches someone being a bucket filler.  I like to acknowledge when a student helps pick up someone's crayons that fell in the floor, when I hear someone give another student a compliment, or when I see partners working nicely together, etc.
When they earn 10 marbles in their bucket...we get a star to display outside of our door.  The colors of the paper stars change each 6 weeks so everyone can keep track of how many stars each class has earned.  I add a little extra "incentive" and tell them that if we earn 3 stars before the colors change, we will have a class celebration (donuts, popsicle party, lunch in the classroom, or something similar!)
For an individual classroom management plan, I use these products from my absolute favorite teacher store, Creative Teaching Press.
Students collect these tickets:
 And store them in their desk in these cute little library pockets with their names written on them.
I give out tickets  There are ALWAYS some in my laundry room closet at home because I just carry them around all day in my pockets...ready to pass out if I "catch" a student doing anything spectacular!  If they are the first one to follow directions, if they are working extra hard, if they use good manners...anything goes!
On Fridays, we count our tickets.
If a student has 10 tickets, they turn them in and get to write their name on one of these.
Then, at the end of each month...we have a raffle for prizes and special privileges (lunch in the room with a buddy from ANY first grade class is a favorite!)
I use a lot of books (from Scholastic), small toys, coloring books candy etc. for the prizes.  Some are bigger, some are small. 
I try to get one or two big things to save for last.  I have a feeling this month, it is going to be one of these guys...
My kids loooove them some Pete.  They will go bananas over him.  I have one that lives in our classroom and they just adore it.
Another way they can earn a ticket is by being picked for "Mystery Walker." I posted about how it works here.
The ticket system keeps everything nice and simple for the most part...and then I just have to get things together for one raffle each month.
I prefer to use a positive approach to classroom management, because it helps me stay more positive....but don't you worry.  I take a ticket or two on occasion.  They don't like to lose their tickets, so it's effective.
Set aside some time to head over and read the other awesome classroom management tips at What the Teacher Wants.
So many awesome ideas. :)
Also...don't forget to enter the giveaway for my new Sight Word Super Pack in my previous post
Giveaway ends TOMORROW!
Happy Friday to you!