Sunday, June 30, 2013


Tomorrow is July 1st. What does that mean?

Good news-It means that I have been on summer vacay for a little over a month and a half. Bad news-I have a month left..time is FLYING!!!

I am so blessed to be able to come home and unwind for a few months. One of my favorite things about summer is that I can work on school stuff at my own pace. I can sleep in, stay up late, catch up on my reading, day dream, and just  RELAX. 

I still do A LOT in the summer that is work related like conferences, workshops, organizing, etc. I know you all know the drill.

So instead of something edu-related... I just wanted to share a little bit about me today. I hope that's okay? I am linking up with Farley over at Oh'Boy Fourth grade for her July Currently edition.

Listening-A cello beat boxer. I swear, you can't make this stuff up. I was surfing Pinterest and it a youtube link with a man playing a cello appeared. The pin said "cell beat boxer". I just couldn't pass it up.
Check this out!

Loving- Love me some summer vacation. I am being lazy. Judge me. I am so okay with that because even though I am being lazy...I can promise you that my brain is still working.  Sorta. 

Thinking- Homework, homework, homework. I promise I will stop complaining about it...maybe.

Wanting- I am in some desperate need of some sweet tea. Like literally..if someone was standing in front of me with it then I might just snatch it from them speedy quick. 

Needing- I need a mani and pedi...BAD. Maybe I will get to it before I leave for my New York expedition. 

Tips, tricks, or hints.- So...any guesses why I might be posting this? My brother's dog, Ziggy, had a run in with a skunk. Did you know that it can take up to 10 years for the skunk odor to leave? Oh my word. He is STINKY! 

Anywho...that wraps Farley's Currently

Happy Sunday!

Friday, June 28, 2013

Five for Friday

I am linking up for the first time with Doodle Bugs Teaching for her awesome Five for Friday linky party! My week has been pretty calm. I am taking advantage of the calm before the storm though because I leave for a family visit in NY next week and won't be back until the middle of July! Not to mention that sometime during my visit, my new learning cottage will hopefully be installed and then school starts just two weeks after that. July is going to be CRAY CRAY!

Our small town just got an Ollie's. It is a bargain store a lot like Savers. I am excited because it has an awesome book section! I scored big on my first visit there. I might have a slight addiction when it comes to buying books for my classroom. I don't want to even think about how much that little old library of mine has cost me in the last three years! :)

I'm sorry. I just HAD to throw in a picture of my little man. Is he not just adorable??? My poor Instagram friends get to see pictures of him all the time! I was specially told by my family that just because Instagram now allows videos does NOT mean that I can put videos of Hero on there. Sad face :(

Grad school. Need I say more? Research, research, papers, research, project, papers, research. Yea!!

 I love making freebies. Really, I do. And what I love even more about making those freebies is when someone takes the time to leave me a sweet comment on them! Thank you, thank you, thank you!!! I know it is easy to just download the item and not leave any feedback. I have been guilty of this in the past, too! But, lots of teachers take a lot of time to make those freebies. Please take a minute to leave them some love on their free products?!
Click here(posters) and here(bookmark) to check out the freebies.

Speaking of freebies....I posted two Common Core Math freebies this week on my TPT account. Go check them out! 

Happy Friday and have a FANTABULOUS weekend!!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Accountable Talk

Accountable Talk


Common Core Math

Common Core Math is here to stay for the moment, and I have to say that I am glad that it is! For me, Common Core is about providing the students with a clear understanding of the content that they are learning. It is also about creating rigorous and meaningful learning experiences for EVERY child, no matter their ability level. CC gives students the opportunity to be continuous learners who are in charge of their learning experiences. 

Accountable Talk(AT) is a term used when describing specific and relevant conversation that promotes learning. It is nothing fact it has been around for ages, and that is because it is a vital part of the classroom(and real world) learning journey. 

Have you heard this before?


And, I believe it! Using accountable talk in your classroom will allow you, as the teacher/facilitator, to engage the students in meaningful conversation, observe their interaction and thinking process, ask and pose questions, and create an environment that feels safe for exploration. 

I am not going to lie to you. Developing accountable talk use in your classroom takes time, and it is not easy. There is a lot of preparation that goes into setting up a classroom environment that can support and encourage the accountable talk procedures. is!

I spent a solid month talking with the students about what the accountable talk sentence starters meant, modeling how to ask and respond to the questions/statements, and hosting "mock" conversations in which the students and I actually wrote out scenarios and reenacted them. It was worth every second. By the second month, the students began to ask the questions and respond on their own. The students were having longer lasting and more meaningful conversations by the third and fourth month, and after that they were using the accountable talk conversations in ALL of our subject areas and often without any prompting from me. In fact, I probably could have walked out of the room and come back and they not even noticed I had still my heart.

One of my favorite things about accountable talk is that it can occur in different forms and will look different in every classroom. There are a lot of resources out there via Pinterest, Common Core website, and Google that will direct you to amazing sources of information. Ms. Jones' Junction has some great bookmarks that I used last year in my classroom. 

Now enough of my rambling and on to info that you can hopefully use!

After attending multiple CC math training sessions, I learned about the different stages of accountable talk. My presenters broke up accountable talk intro three categories. 

I really appreciate the perspective of AT that the presenters gave me. I never really thought about leveling the questions that were used during our AT discussions, but it totally makes sense! We level the HOT questioning that we ask our students on a normal basis so why would we not level these as well?!?(Teacher learning moment y'all) The students should ask community level questions first to help set a positive and encouraging foundation for the AT session. Then, the students are given the opportunity to explain their solution paths by asking each other knowledge based questions. Finally, students can challenge one another by asking rigorous questions that require them to show that they have a true understanding of the standard being addressed. 

Now for the freebies! 
I am linking up with Covered in Glitter and Glue to bring you....
What do I love about Wednesday? Currently, I am loving some freebies and my Common Core Math mini-series!!!!!

I hope that you will find these resources useful. When I am modeling and helping students discover the true meaning of the questions being asked, I often show the question starters on the SmartBoard in a whole group setting. Then, I pass out the bookmarks when the students are ready to work in small groups. I was so proud of how much my kiddos referred to the bookmarks for help this last year! 

To download the AT bookmarks click here!

To download the AT posters click here!

I hope this was helpful! If you don't already use accountable talk in your classroom then I really encourage you to give it a go! You can always email me if you have questions or want to share about your AT experience! Sorry..I may have gone a little crazy with my backgrounds. I am experimenting for some BIG projects that I am working on! Forgive me?

Up next week- Assessing vs. Advancing Questions!

Have a wonderful Wednesday and thank you for stopping by!

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Celebrating Student Achievement-Monday Made It Style

Progress!!! I have never been more excited to see mounds of dirt! My little school is growing, growing, growing, and we are making more room by adding "learning cottages". I will be moving into one of these and cannot wait for it to get finished. I am just hoping and praying that it is done before school starts the first week of August!!

There is so much that I want and need to get ready for next school year but since I have no room and am not exactly sure what it will look like...I am having a hard time focusing on the big things that I need to do. So, instead I am working on small things that I KNOW I will use next year.

I am linking up again with Tara from 4th Grade Frolics for a little "Monday Made It" craft. I saw this idea on Pinterest from Frogs and Cupcakes and knew that I had to incorporate this idea into my classroom.

Recognizing student achievement and encouraging students to take ownership of their learning is a MUST. So, I came up with some badges that will help me highlight how awesome my students are. My favorite is the "book worm" tag. I may have to wear it first so that the students ask ME about a book that I have just read. That should get them really fired up sharing their reading! Here are the badges!!

  Click here to download your own copy! 
Happy Monday, and I hope you will tune in on Wednesday for my first of several posts about Common Core math implementation.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Common Core and a Facebook Freebie

Common Core

If you follow me on Instagram then you might have seen me post about the Tennessee Common Core Math training that I attended earlier in the week. Tennessee has made a goal to become the fastest moving state for achievement in the country, and they are pushing Common Core and rigor like its nobody's business!  This was not my first training for CC Math, but I still grabbed a lot of useful tips and treasures to bring back to my classroom and my bloggy buddies. 

One of the things that I truly love and value about being an educator is the ability to take what you have  learned and adapt it to meet the needs in your classroom. Common Core means something a little bit different to everyone, and that is what makes teaching so awesome! In the two years(I much experience!) that I have been teaching, I have realized that there is a huge misconception about how to implement the "trending" teaching strategies that get sent our way. There is stress about using them the exact same way as those that presented the new information and materials to you. Don't stress! Take what you have learned and make it your own! What works for one does not work for all! 

With that said, I would like to present a "Common Core Summer Math Series" on my blog. I don't want to overwhelm anyone with tons of information so I thought I would break up some "small" CC Math tips that you can use in your classroom this fall. 

Here is the lineup:

I am really, really, REALLY excited about this! And, there is a CC Math Graphic Organizer freebie ready for you to grab if you go like my Facebook Page. All you have to do to get the freebie is like the page and then click on the freebie icon.

 I would LOVE to have you as a FB friend! 

Happy Friday!!!!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

That's A Steal Thursday!

Happy Thursday! During the school year, Thursdays are my second favorite day of the week. I am sure we can all guess why! During the summer, I like Thursdays because my new friend Miss Kayla at Meet Miss Parker is hosting a Thursday linky party! 

I spent the last two days in an AMAZING Common Core Math training. I cannot wait to share some of what I learned over the last couple of days with you throughout the summer. My goal is to create a summer Common Core Math series focused around the benefits of using math tasks in your math curriculum. 

The trainings were about an hour away from where I live which I am totally okay with! Why? Because that means that I can visit some of my favorite stores( Target and Home Goods) which I don't have where I live. Target was the perfect fix for my frazzled, fried brain and a horrible scenario for my bank account. Teacher problems, anyone? 

Here are some of my "Thursday Steals" from Target!

As research continues to stress the importance of student engagement and exploration with nonfiction texts, I have been on the look out for good nonfiction resources. I am really careful to check over the nonfiction before I buy it though. It has to be a purposeful nonfiction piece in order for me to grab it up. I must say that these Looking at Nature books are fabulous! They have a lot of nonfiction text features that are going to be a perfect addition to our text features unit in the fall. The pictures are gorgeous, and they are actually on a reading level that my second graders should be able to work with. If you are at Target..go see if you can find these and grab them up, y'all! 

I also ran across some more nonfiction books. The "I Can Write a Book!" series is my favorite find of the day. This series may just require its own blog post! The book identifies and defines key vocabulary terms needed for writing a book on specific topic, gives the reader tips on how to find information on that topic, explains the body of a book, as well as a million other beneficial tips to help young writers create their own book.  Again, if you are at your local Target and you see these-GRAB THEM!!!

I grabbed several of these adorable magazine holders. I don't need book boxes for the kiddos because we have cute book bags(thanks to my parents who own an embroidery business), but I just couldn't pass these up. I will use them to help me loose organize something.

So, those are my Thursday steals! Have you found any good "steals" lately? 

Monday, June 17, 2013

Monday Made It

Monday Made It

Happy Monday!  I am linking up with Tara over at 4th Grade Frolics for her Monday Made It!

I will admit that this project is not what I had on the plans for today, but I was in Hobby Lobby this past Saturday and found this beauty in the clearance isle. 

I have always wanted to put one of these on my classroom craft to-do list, but I have never gotten around to it! 


My kids always sometimes forget to put their names on their papers(even with the help of our STOP! Highlighter sign). Most of the time, I can decipher whose paper it is by their handwriting but occasionally one or two papers have to get placed on my white board to help find the owner. Please, please, please tell me that I am not the only teacher out there who has no name papers even with all of the visual and verbal reminders!!

I also have some lovely friends of mine who occasionally  rush through their assignments the first time. I have to hand it back to them to redo because I KNOW they can do better. 

So, enter in Pinterest project for today! It was really simple to throw together. I already had the clothes pins. I just spray painted them black and then hot glued them on the board. 

I love it, and the best part is that the cute design was already done for me! Thank you Hobby Lobby! 

What are some crafts that you have completed or want to complete this summer?

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Reading Interest Survey

Each summer, my school assigns us professional development books to read. Does your school do this as well? I LOVE to read about other educators' beliefs and practices so there are also others books that I have picked up throughout the year and saved to read for the summer when I have had a little more free time.

Here is a little sneak peak of some of my must reads for the summer:
I cannot wait to read Smarter Charts and Teach Like a Pirate!!

One of the first books that I have read during my summer vacay is The Book Whisperer: Awakening the Inner Reader by Donalyn Miller. I had not yet entered the teaching world when this book came out several years ago. So, I am just now getting to read it. And, WOW! I missed out on not reading this book sooner! Her ideas are fabulous, and Donalyn does a great job pointing out the importance of independent reading.   I teach second grade so there are a lot of things that I will need to slightly adjust to make it work for my classroom learning experience. I cannot wait to get started!

The Reading Interest Survey is something that I took away from the book early on, and I wanted to share my tweaked early elementary ed. version with you today! There are a few versions out there, but I couldn't find one that was exactly what I was looking for.... so I made my own. I used to have my kiddos write down what type of books they like to read on an index card at the beginning of the year. I would get vague answers that didn't really give me a good picture of WHAT and HOW my students read. At the beginning of second grade, many of my students have not yet began to identify with specific genres and are just beginning to relate with what type of books they like to read. One of the things that I love about second grade is that the students' reading really takes off. Many of the kiddos are starting to build a strong foundation as a reader and are beginning to develop an appreciation for reading. That is such a vital and important part of fostering successful readers so I wanted to make sure that I take full advantage of that opportunity and get to know my growing readers better.

I hope you find this survey useful. It is nothing fancy! Just click here to download.

After my kiddos take this lil ole' learning survey this year and I have analyzed them; I will put them in their year long data folders that I keep. I think it would be interesting to have them take the survey again at the end of the year to show how they have developed as readers. Will their interests have changed? Will their responses show more knowledgeable readers? Will they be able to say "I like reading nonfiction books about dinosaurs" instead of just saying "dinosaurs" as their answer. I cannot wait to see!

 How do you learn what your new students' reading interests are?

Happy Thursday! I am headed to a swim meet, and this is what the weather looks like...yikes!

Classroom Freebies Manic Monday

Sunday, June 9, 2013

A Little Bit About Me and Linky Party!

Good Morning! 

I really REALLY appreciate those that stopped by my blog and those that sent emails and Instagram  love over the weekend! It just fueled my fire to hop into the blogging world that much more. Since I have been blog stalking loving for a few years now, I feel like I know several of you out there. So, I wanted to share some random facts about me on the blog today! 

A Little Bit About Me

10 Quick Facts
1. I am an East Tennessee native! I was born here and cannot imagine living anywhere else(Okay...maybe I could be talked into moving to the beach).  My blog title "A Rocky Top Teacher" references my love for the Vol Nation and good old Rocky Top!

2. I graduated from East Tennessee State University with my degree in Elementary Education and am now going back to school for my Master's Degree in Educational Leadership. 

3. I swam competitively for 9 years. Swimming has and continues to be one of the best family bonding experiences that my family has had together. I went on to coach the same team that I swam for for 5 years before leaving it to start my teaching career.

4. My family means the world to me. I would not be where I am today without their love, support, and guidance. 

5.  I have a super fun and supportive boyfriend. He is my rock!

6. This little guy is like my child. Hero is a Bichon Frise. I just LOVE him. If you follow me on Instagram then you have already seen a zillion pictures of Hero. Sorry about that...

7. I read. A lot.  It gives me the mental break that I need after a long work day! There is nothing better than curling up on the couch with a book, some sweet tea, and my puppy!

8. I am addicted to coffee and sweet tea. I have to jump start my mornings with coffee and make it through the afternoon with sweet tea! 

9. Hugh Jackman is my dream celebrity..because you just NEEDED to know that! :)

10. My recent workout addiction is Piloxing. It is a workout class that combines Pilates, Boxing, and Dance together. Have you tried it? You should! 

To wrap up today's post, I wanted to participate in  Halle's summer linky party: a few of my favorite things!  This week's theme is morning must haves.

I already told you that I am addicted to coffee so this little coffee pot is my BFF in the morning! And, I am notorious for loving hit the alarm snooze five times in the morning. So, I don't always get to make my coffee at home. THANK GOODNESS that my school just purchased one of these beautiful babies and now I can grab a cup at work! 

And, another big morning must have is my iPhone! My iPhone is the first thing that I use in the morning to check email(I have to see what deals are on Groopdeals and Very Jane for the day!), Facebook, Instagram, you name it. Technology is so addicting is it not? 

Thanks for stopping by the blog today! Have a great Sunday! 

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