!!Boggle Freebie!! (until August 1st)

OK folks...  Those who have seen previous posts know I'm been on this zebra print kick...  So I made the ever-so-popular-on-pinterest seat/storage crate creations and a BOGGLE board :)

Here are my two latest ventures...

The seat/storage crate is a hanging file folder crate + MDF (cut at Home Depot to fit on top of open crate) + zebra fabric + foam + ribbon = a kid-sized creation

For the BOGGLE board, I found a 11" x 11" magnetic dry erase board at Target (it came in a few colors - I'm kinda bummed I didn't get the neon green) + a cute border + printed zebra letters (which you can download for free until August 1st at my TPT store) + a magnet on the back of letters = a week's worth of fun for my kiddos!

I'm not sure which border I'm going to use (or not use either)... Feel free to chime in ;)  Background will most likely be black and the title will be zebra print.

Happy creating!


Make your Library Last Longer!!

(Like the Alliteration?? LOL)

"Mrs. Siegel (well, it was my maiden name back then but you get it), the cover came off this booooook," claimed the whiny child waving a copy of Goosebumps in my face.  I had to think of a way to keep my books intact year after year.

Viola!  I (and when I mean I, I mean I convinced parents to help me) began covering my chapter books with clear contact paper.  To date, I have not had one more book fall apart on me.  It was well-worth it to invest the time (or volunteer hours hehe).

Yesterday, I spent some time covering some of my book club books.  Yes, I have a closet dedicated to my book club sets of books... I know I'm not the only one.  But dang it, I have too many to have in my teeny weeny classroom.  So I sat myself down at the kitchen table, flipped on some ON DEMAND and watched a marathon of Dallas (my new vice) while I cut contact paper.

You need a roll of clear contact paper.  You can get this at Target, Publix, Ace Hardware, and just about anywhere that has a "kitchen" section.  You also need good scissors and your books to cover.

Here is a picture tutorial.

Cut 14" of Contact Paper (larger for thicker books)

Then cut the Contact Paper in half

Pull the backing off the Contact Paper and lay sticky side up.  Then place the binding of the book in the middle of the paper.

Gently lay one side down...

Then turn the book over to the other side.

Trim triangles off each edge of paper.

It looks like this when done with this step.

Cut where the binding is...an inverted "V" and then trim off.

Then you end up with this...

Fold in each edge to the back and front cover of the book.

This is what it will end up looking like.

And you're done!

I've also done this with some of my picture books, student workbooks, and soft-cover books that belong to my school.

Happy Saving!!



Patti at Tales from a 4th (and 5th) Grade Teacher is only 7 followers away from her giveaway!!  Head over there to join her site and be on the look out for a "FAN"-tab-u-lous GIVEAWAY!!


Main Idea and Details...my thoughts

Big Big News!!  I have finished the first of many graphic organizer activities :)  This one is for main idea and detail.  For years, I've taught main idea and detail at the beginning of school because I start off with essay writing.  It's just an easy correlation between reading the writing. So before we dive into writing, we analyze nonfiction articles.

A few years ago, I was conducting writing trainings for teachers.  In those trainings, I would ask, "How do you teach your students main idea?"  Sooooo many teachers would say, "I tell them to look for the sentence that the article or story is mostly about." Then with a slanted smile I say, "Ok, I'm going to show you this primary article and you write down the sentence that has the main idea on your post-it"  I showed a primary nonfiction article from Ranger Rick's Your Big Back Yard and guess what... the main idea is not there... point taken.  At this juncture, I have to retrain teachers to not lead their students down the path of hunting and searching for the main idea but rather to generate main ideas on their own by using what the author DOES include in the article which are the details.

Here's an equation I use in my class:

Main Idea = Topic + what the author is telling about the topic

Also, I had all of the teachers close their eyes and I say, "OK, I'm going to give you a main idea and I want you to picture it in your head.  My mom takes me to the best places."  Once everyone opens their eyes, we share what they pictured: the beach, the mall, Disney World, and the list goes on.  This is when I point out that a main idea CANNOT be drawn or pictured but a detail CAN!  Try it with your class :)

So here is the first of my main idea/detail graphic organizer activities with the article included!  Check it out at my TPT Shop!


Linky Party and Words of Wisdom to a First Year Teacher

Thank you Deb at Fabulously First, for this Linky.  What a great idea!  I remember my first year teaching and I wish I had this resource.  Just invaluable ;)

Join the party and share your Words of Wisdom...

Here are MY lessons learned...

1. Document EVERYTHING!!  Have a file folder labeled Parent Communication.  Keep every little note parents send in (including the ones that say: My son is going home with so-and-so and Sorry but she wasn't feeling well last night and that's why she didn't do her homework) and keep a record of every phone call.
     Here's a few anecdotes... First year teaching and I had a multi-age K-1 class full of 29 kids (with no aid mind you...).  One of my little girls said she had a "belly ache"and it was right before lunch time.  I figured she just wasn't used to our schedule. I had her eat and wait it out.  Day went on as planned.  The next morning, I get a call from the office that a parent would like to speak with me.  Well this little girl's Mom came to ream me out - IN FRONT OF HER DAUGHTER.  Needless to say, she went to the nurse almost every day and Mom picked her up early all the time.  Then our mid-year parent-teacher meeting comes around.  Well I had to break it to little What's-her-face's Mom that she wasn't reading on grade-level.  Her mom says, "How can that be?"  That's when I whipped out a handful of nurse notes and said, "THIS is why she isn't reading on grade-level."  Let's just say the nurse visits became less frequent after that.
     The next year, I taught kindergarten and bless their little hearts.  I had a doozie of a class.  One of whom was born addicted to drugs, was being raised by Grandma, and was diagnosed with ADHD and was clinically psychotic.  He was on meds and besides his little quirks was a good kid.  In November he and Grandma moved out of state.  A few weeks later, I got a phone call from his doctor saying that he was at an in-patient facility and she wanted to talk to me about his behavior in class.  My response was, "I need some sort of signed paperwork from his Grandma stating that she gives me permission to speak with you."  Paperwork was faxed and I spoke with his doctor.  June rolls around and it's the last teacher planning day.  I'm packing up my class because I'm moving out of county to start anew.  I get a call from the office to come down.  This boy's Grandma is on the phone saying, "Why did you talk to his doctor?  I never gave you permission."  Well, didn't you know, I kept that faxed permission form and faxed it over to Grandma.  That saved my a$$.  Good thing I kept it!
     Also with documenting, keep another file labeled IN-SERVICE, CERTIFICATION, OR SCHOOL-RELATED DOCUMENTS.  In this file, you should keep records of your in-service points, copy of your certification, copies of your observations, letters of recommendation, kudos from parents/principals etc.

2. Be a team player BUT... always go with your gut.  You are among the freshest of the fresh in the teaching field.  You have plenty to share and give.  And if something doesn't feel right, go with your gut.  If you work on a team where you plan together, don't be afraid to do your own thing from time to time.  Just because your team is more experienced, doesn't necessarily make them a better teacher.  Do, however, be respectful about ideas.  Once your door is shut, those kids are all yours so do your thing!

3. Classroom Management...don't take it for granted. Don't go trying a million things.  Stick with just a few.  One or two for consequences (here is a link to my ticket system - great for grades 2+...the other one I use is for behavior and it's from 1,2,3 Magic for Teachers) PLUS one or two for rewards like reward tickets, marbles, etc.  Don't make it overly complicated.  Make consequences unemotional and easy to manage.  Make rewards for long and short goals.  If you have too many classroom management techniques going on or you keep changing them, A. you'll forget, B. your kids will work the systems because they know you don't mean what you say, and C. it will drive you batty.  Then there are procedures and expectations.  Make them clear.  I LOVE the CHAMPS book.  It has great visuals and helps the kids understand what they are allowed and NOT allowed to do for any given activity.  When I get the kid who comes to my desk after the test and says, "Where do I put this?"  I don't say a word and just look up at the CHAMP... question answered :)

4. Delegate tasks.  Have parents come and help. Have them label books, organize papers, sit with kids at a center, do running records (THAT was a time saver!!).  Also, give kids jobs they can do too.  You can't do it all... believe me, I've tried...

5.  NEVER gossip.  Ok, maybe to your bestie but really, don't get caught up in the she-said, she-said nonsense.  It never turns out good.  Be confident enough to change the subject or excuse yourself when gossip rears its ugly head.  If you hear someone is leaving, or that this one is preggers, remember: it's not your news to tell so keep the zippa on your lippa.

6.  Communication is key but keep it realistic.  If you are fortunate enough to communicate via email - DO!  I send a weekly email telling the parents what to expect for the week, upcoming tests, things to study, announcements, spelling list etc.  I can't tell you how many times I got an email on my iPhone from a parent and answered it right away.  Yes, you do need to keep a balance between work and home but imagine what it's like to be a mom and you are trying to help your kid but are helpless.  A quick reply can go a long way.  Just do it ;)  I've taken pictures on my phone of a worksheet and sent it via email - I've done it all.  And believe me, my parents do NOT take it for granted.  They know I just want to help their child be successful.  They are more than appreciative.
     Keep a website if you have time.  Post pictures if you are allowed.  Parents love to see their kids learning.  Post homework if you agree with this philosophy... My school makes us have a website with homework - I, personally, don't think I should enable the kids anymore than I already do but I gotta do what I gotta do... I think they need to write it in their agenda... Just sayin'...
     Communicate often but don't go all crazy with FB and Twitter and a Blog, etc. Doing too much can be overwhelming and you don't want to quite mid-year.  That may send the wrong message to parents.

Sorry if I sound all rambly...

Best of Luck Newbie!!!!



Tabitha at FlapJack Educational Resources is having an AWE-SOME Giveaway!  Take a few seconds to check it out!


Back to business peeps...

Greetings all!

I've been back in town for two weeks but as any of you know, sometimes you need a vacation from your vacation :)

Alaska was UH-mazing!  Glaciers, wildlife, and yummy food (oh my).  My husband and I ate THE best king crab!  As for Seattle, I think I've seen enough of Seattle to last me a lifetime.

Since I've been back, I've been making these writing task cards.  I don't know about you, but sometimes the writing prompts provided at my local "teacher store" are not what I'm looking for.  Thus, if you can't find - create.  Right?  So here they are...

I'm excited about them.  They will be an easy addition to a literacy center.

My next activity jumbling my mind will be coming down the line *rubbing my hands together*  Don't you just love when you come up with an idea that will just make your teaching that much easier?  Hint: I'll be going back to composition books next year (thank GOD - I hate those stupid spiral notebooks).

Oh!  And did I tell you?!?  I've decided on a theme this year (wait for it) Zebra and Neon.  I know, I know... it's been done before.  But let me tell you... my mom came to visit and she gave me her old sewing machine.  I made pillows for my reading nook.  SEE!  I'm so proud of my new-found hobby hehehe.  The green and pink even have sparkles!!


Then I went online and found this on Pinterest
It's to help your little ones line up.  I teach fourth and let me tell you, my kids always line up in number order and this will help with the jam at the front of the line.  What is it?  They really want to get outta class THAT badly lol.  The comments on Pinterest say vinyl lasts longer so I found this website that I could use to create my OWN vinyl stickers!!!!!  I can't hold my excitement.  Anyone who knows me, knows I go all out - with everything!  So here is the site I found STICKER YOU!  Here are the stickers I made and ordered (I hope I don't have more than 24 kids this year...)

More exciting ZEBRAtastic fun to come!  Stay tuned :)

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