Saturday, March 29, 2014

A Little Spring Cleaning with a TPT SALE!

So March has been crazy, no? I mean cruel is it to let us celebrate Spring and then smack us with snow and freezing temperatures for the next week after. Not cool Mother Nature...not cool.

But, that's okay because I just had a relaxing Spring Break and am ready to get back to school and rock out the last few weeks before the big State assessments. We have less than 50 days of school left! Oh my! 

Speaking of Spring, we all like to think of the start to the season as a great opportunity for us to clean our house, closets, cars..and TPT store wish lists. Mine is packed full of goodies that I have been saving for a sale just like this one.

My entire store(all 10 products LOL) are on sale! Are they in your wish list? Go get 'em! Not on your wish list? Grab 'em anyway! Just click on the sale image for easy access to my TPT store. 

(Special thanks to Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah Designs for the graphic. Check out her store! )

In the last week, I have driven to and from upstate New York so I am exhausted. This tired teacher is going to be a lazy pants all weekend and soak up every last moment of Spring Break that I possibly can. See you back with some fun posts on Monday!

Monday, March 24, 2014

Teacher Subway Art

I don't have an exciting post for you today. While you are reading this, I should be on the road somewhere between my home in East Tennessee and my grandfather's home in upstate New York. It's my Spring Break, and it has really been on my heart to see him. It's going to be a bitter sweet mini-trip. I am going to walk through that door expecting to see my Nana, but she won't be there. Time will make it better....time and memories.

Last week, you beautiful educators left me lots of sweet comments about the subway art signs that I made for my teamies. You can read more about it here

So many of you asked for me to post them as a freebie so...your wish is my command! Head on over and like my fb page to receive the FB Fan freebie.

I hope you know how valued you are. 

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Lots of food and Giveaway Winner-Five for Friday

It's Friday! It's Friday!

What do you say?

Hip Hip Hurray!!!!

But seriously. THANK YOU Friday for showing up this morning(Thursday felt like it was going to go on forever). This Friday is extra sweet because  means that it is Spring Break time. Woot!

I am going to announce the winner of my 1,000 IG followers and new blog design giveaway at the end of this post. I feel like this is one big IG post since many of these pictures made it up over on my account this week. 

Special thanks to Doodle Bugs Teaching for hosting the weekly Five for Friday event.

 2014 has brought lots of changes to my life, and it is only March(yikes). One of the changes has been eating better. To make a long story short- I was diagnosed with Graves' disease when I was a freshman in high school. My thyroid was working so hard that it caused me heart problems, tremors, extreme fatigue, etc. I dealt with it for 4 years, and then had my thyroid taken out when I was a freshman in college. That was fun!(NOT!) I still debate whether or not that was a smart decision because for the last 6 years, I have battled with a lot of the same problems I had before the surgery. I have never been a horrible eater, but it was def. a weakness of mine. So, when 2014 rolled around, I decided that I was going to try to eat better and see if that helped my health.  I now eat gluten and grain-free as much as I possibly can. Yes, it has been a huge challenge, but I am now 3 months in and feeling AWESOME! I posted an egg casserole on my IG account this week, and y'all blew the picture up asking for the recipe. it is! I cook it on a Sunday and package it so that it is ready to go for the rest of the week. It is easy and yummy! If you try it..let me know how it goes!

I seriously debated putting this picture up because of just how BIG of a deal this information in the picture is. I am proud of our kiddos but now that we are putting this out there-we have to keep it up! Our school takes Discovery Education Think Link tests 3 times a year. They help us assess our students. I am a data junkie, so I like using the data to drive my classroom instruction. Last year, our school started displaying data walls. It started with a few teachers posting them outside of their rooms and has grown to almost every teacher posting data walls to track student achievement. I love data walls for many reasons, but my biggest reason is because it holds students and teachers accountable.  When you display your data, you are saying, "Here is our work. This is what we can(or can't) do." We just took our latest round of tests last week. As a grade level, we were really proud of our progress. So, we decided to post a grade-wide data wall right in front of the office. Our theme this year is #secondgradestrong. Later, other hashtags were added such as #awesomesauce. I had to look up that commercial because I had NO idea what the reference was to when my teamie started saying it. 

This beauty hit my TPT store this week, and it has been a hot item. Test prep is coming soon for a lot of us, and I wanted to make sure that the kiddos were not just answering questions. I want them to EXPLAIN the answer to the question and give evidence to support that answer. The cards come in big and small, black and color, letters and numbers. I blogged about it here. I love them. The kids get upset when I say that we are not using them that day. Sadsville, I tell ya!.

 Have I mentioned that I have awesome coworkers? My student teacher did her solo week this week, so that left me wandering for a home. It has been a little challenging. I NEED to be with my kiddos, but she also needs this opportunity to see how things go without the lead teacher there to scaffold all the time. So, I gave her some space and headed off to visit some of the awesome teachers in my school. I saw everything from review in Math & ELA to animal research and math tasks. I visited 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th grade classes, and it was an awesome learning opportunity for me. I snapped this picture before I headed out to visit for the morning. I never go anywhere without my teaching planner from April @ A Modern Teacher or my Dunkin' Donuts coffee. I know that having visitors, even fellow teachers, can be really stressful so I made up some little notes to fill out and leave with the teachers whose classrooms I was in. I really appreciated them opening their rooms to me.
My teammates are awesome, but you already knew that because I brag about them all the time. There are 5 of us in our grade level this year. I am not going to has been a little challenging because we are not all in the same building(2 of us are in portables), and we don't have the same lunch time. We have to work really hard to see each other throughout the day. But, the four teachers are hands down the best. They are my role models, and I am glad to have had this opportunity with them. This week my "learning cottage" teammate and I invited the other second grade teachers to a planning meeting in my room. Because we are separated from the main building, we don't get a lot of visitors. Usually, we plan in the big school. I wanted to change that up a bit. 
We all brought some food, and we CHOWED DOWN(don't was my cheat day)
! I also used these sweet signs and some tulips to decorate the table and celebrate the first day of spring.

So that's my week. It's been a whirlwind. I need to sleep for a few days to help me recuperate for the end of the year push. The year is about to get super crazy, folks! Get ready!!!

And...........the winner to my giveaway is................

Congrats girlie! I will contact you and get your amazing prizes sent your way!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Test Prep Response Cards

Test Prep
Response Cards

The idea of using cards as an interactive visual tool for test preparation and review is nothing new. I know that. You know that. But, I am really picky about test review in my classroom. I like interacting with my kiddos. We all do. So, why give them 5 questions and ask them to write their responses on a sheet of paper? Why not give them flip cards and make them discuss with one another and defend their answers?

Why not? 

We use accountable talk all day long in my classroom. Now that we are elbow deep in close reading, using text evidence, and inferring, the students are using their accountable talk more than ever. I don't accept yes or no answers so why would test prep be any different?

That got me thinking. Why not redo my review cards to help students remember that they must back up their answers to our review and test prep with evidence?

Thus...these babes were born. 

Cute, yes?

I passed these out to the kiddos in my small group and didn't say much other than, "We have new cards."

This is how the conversation went. No joke.

"Wow. These are pretty!" 
"Oh look! They have our accountable talk on them."
"It says because."
"Oh man, does that mean we have to defend our answers?"

The last comment cracked me up. I think I may have laughed unattractively when my little spoke that. It was so honest, but it also spoke volumes to me. Yes, he may consider discussing and defending answers hard work, but he knows what it is and why we use it. I can deal with that! :)

I am using these cards in a variety of ways. Sometimes, I pass out the large cards to table leaders, and the students work in teams to solve an answer. I use the bigger cards because it is easier to see from across the room.

I use the smaller cards when I am wanting students to individually arrive at an answer. This is often in small groups. Occasionally, I will pass out a set to each student. 

 You can grab these up in my TPT store here. And, because I am REALLY excited about these...I am going to give away a set. Just leave a comment about these test prep cards, and I will pick a winner tomorrow.     (Don't forget to leave your email.)

In the meantime, I am hosting a fun giveaway here. There are 12 bloggers who have donated some amazing products to help you rock out the end of the year in "awesomeness". Have you entered? 

Monday, March 17, 2014

Celebrating with a GIVEAWAY

Eeeekkkk! It is celebration time!!!

Why are we celebrating you might ask? 

I finally have a professional blog design that I am IN LOVE with thanks to Parker at PJ's Design Laboratory. He literally took, "I want an apple and teal, purple, and gray" and made it into the beautiful design that is now. Just wow! Do you like it? I hope so! I highly recommend that you check him out if you are in the market for a new blog makeover. Or, maybe you just want a new blog button, social media icons, name it. He is fabulous.

I also managed to reach 1,000 Instagram followers. For me, it made my social media life. Techie geek? Yes, most def.  I share a lot of what is going on in my classroom on my IT account, and it really humbled me that so many follow me to see what we do!

As I mentioned in my post here, you all are the foundation of why I do what I do. I know that I am not the most regular blogger. I hope that, in the future, I can get to a point where I can blog consistantly each week(Like my blog hero, Greg). But, I am still trying to "find that balance", and I am so appreciative that you come read and share my classroom experiences with me when a new post gets written. 

You all rock.

Now...on to the goodies...GIVEAWAY TIME!!!!

Just check out these products!
These awesome ladies have been so sweet and are helping me bring you a FABULOUS list of products to enter for a chance to win. The theme for many of these products is focused around "test prep" since many of us are getting ready to review for the state testing assessments that are coming up in the following months. 

Good luck! And....THANK YOU!

Special Thanks to 3am Teacher, Graphics from the Pond, and Kimberly Geswein for the graphics used in this post!

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Big Changes

It’s been almost a year since this little ole’ blog of mine began. The whole ordeal still doesn’t seem real to me. I mean…me? A blogger? Get real!
But, I am kind of obsessed with blogging, and I am so grateful that I took the leap and dove right in.
The entire journey has been worth every.single.moment. I have met so many amazing teachers. I get the opportunity to share my classroom ideas and experiences with others, and I am blessed to be able to read what other educators are doing in their classrooms around the world.
I still don’t consider myself a “blogger”. I am just a teacher with a blog. This adventure has allowed me to reflect on my teaching practices in the classroom and make changes to best meet the needs of those little hearts who I am responsible for. The more soul and energy I put into my students; the better learning experiences they are exposed to. THAT right there is one of the major reasons why I am a huge advocate for teacher bloggers in our profession. All of you are reforming the face of teaching, educating with you whole hearts, and molding young minds each and every day. YOU are education. YOU are the needed change. YOU are making the difference.
So enough heart pouring…and on to the good stuff! Right?
I mentioned that there are some big changes coming to the blog. What are they?
Screen Shot 2014-03-15 at 10.12.10 AMRecently, Parker from PJ's Design Laboratory created an amazing new blog design for A Rocky Top Teacher. My first one was created by yours truly. It was OKAY but it was also really painful to look at. I told myself that if I actually stuck with it then I would go get a “real” blog design done by a professional. Well, I kept my promise to myself and am so pleased at how well Parker did. He is the best, and I highly recommend seeking him out if you are in the market for a new design. Head over to check out Parker's work here
Screen Shot 2014-03-15 at 10.13.16 AMI also decided to switch over to a dot com. I am not quite ready to bring you to but the change will be here soon. There are a lot of reasons why I am switching over but essentially it will give me more control over my blog content. So excited!
1,000 IG Followers- I am on Instagram ALL the time. I love how easy it is to follow other teachers and see what they are working on in their classrooms. The IG teacher community is huge and their support is never ending. I just recently hit the big 1,000 followers which is just one more reason to celebrate! I have some great IG giveaways coming up soon. Make sure you are following me. My username is arockytopteacher. Come follow me!

So…with all that said. Thank you to all of you who have encouraged and motivated me throughout this journey. I cannot wait to see what the future holds for A Rocky Top Teacher. It’s time to celebrate!
In order to celebrate all of the big changes going on, I am hosting a giveaway. I have some great teachers who are going to be giving away some amazing products to one lucky winner. This giveaway is all about YOU and saying thank you to those of you who read what I write and use the products that I create for my classroom. You all ROCK, and none of this would be worth it without you.
The theme of the giveaway is about rocking those assessments that are about to hit most of our classrooms. They can be scary, daunting, and exhausting for both kiddos and teachers. BUT…some awesome teachers are about to make your test prep and other classroom resources so much more FUN!
Stay tuned…..more details coming tomorrow. I can’t wait to share this giveaway with you.