Thursday, February 26, 2015

Chalkboard Brights and Superhero Classroom Decor

Are you one of those fabulous folks who FREAK OUT when you get a teacher catalog in the mail? I get so excited and have to stop everything I am doing so that I can look through the whole thing RIGHT then. You can imagine my excitement when I received the new Teacher Created look book in the mail. I  was so impressed with their new Chalkboard Brights and Superhero lines and knew that I had to have them in my classroom. Now that I have gotten the chance to play around with the new sets, I can't wait to incorporate them into my classroom decor next year. 


The best part about some of the goodies that I snagged from TCR is that I can use them now in the classroom. Check out some of the ways that we are using their products. 

My first new love is their HUGE welcome sign. We are hosting our first ever Academic Parent Teacher Team night in a few weeks, and I can't wait to use this beautiful sign to welcome parents and families into our school. It is going to be such a fabulous way to greet them and make them feel invited!


During our APTT night, my school families will be going home with a folder full of tips and tricks that parents can use at home to help boost student learning. These cute new chalkboard name tags can act as labels as well! 


I haven't seen my students since the 13th of February thanks to all of the snow the South has been hit with. This fancy new classroom rules sign will be referred to a lot as we reestablish our classroom rules and routines. 



Also, check out their new Chalkboard Brights birthday display! It was super easy to put together and will match perfectly with my classroom colors. 

(Want to see more of the Chalkboard Brights line? My friend Michelle from Apples and Abcs used her welcome sign and other TCR products in her classroom and wrote about it on her blog. Visit her for more decor ideas.)


We are at the point of the school year when making sure that we are reading closely is a major focus for my second graders. We have reading toolboxes that we use to help make reading fun and interesting! I cannot wait to show my kiddos their new additions to our reading kits.


The new superhero masks are attached to wooden dowels so that students can hold them to their faces while reading. It will go great with our "use your superhero powers to read closely to find answers in the text" concept. 


I also used the speech bubbles to help students remember to use "think stems" and accountable talk when participating in small group and whole group discussions. Students will hold up the speech bubbles when they are ready to add something to our classroom conversations. These accents are attached to jumbo craft sticks. 


Each student will receive a Super Reader mask and each of my small group tables will get their own sets of the speech sticks. I plan on laminating some of the speech bubbles and leaving them blank so that students can add their own thought stems!


 Here are the direct links to the products used in this post. 



I have had a blast exploring using Teacher Created Resource's new products in my classroom. And...guess what? My friends at TCR want to give away from goodies from their new Chalkboard Brights line! 

Enter the giveaway below to snag a gift basket full of their new items! 



Happy Decorating!

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

GoNoodle's "My Questions"

My love for GoNoodle is not a secret. I owe so much to the company and to their amazing sponsors at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Tennessee. Their interactive brain breaks have transformed my classroom in such a positive way and have provided my students with the opportunity to engage their brains and bodies all while having fun in the classroom. 


I also LOVE technology and get so excited when my favorite classroom tech sources add a new feature to one of their tools. 


So this blog post is combining two things that I am passionate about- technology AND kinstetic learning. 

GoNoodle just recently introduced a new feature on GoNoodle Plus called My Questions. You know those awesome brain breaks such as Freeze It, Montana James, and Ultimate Champ Training that come with question sets? Well! Now you can customize your own question sets to add to these brain breaks to help you increase classroom learning that is 100% relevant to your students. Are you studying verbs? Maybe  you are studying about the branches of government or 3D shapes.  You can create a set and share them with other educators. Once you have the link, you can add it to your questions bank and use it. 

They have a blog post that shows you step by step how to create your own questions. It is very, very easy to do! Check out the post here

Now, I know that some part of you just said...LOVELY but I don't have time to create these questions. I know. I KNOW! But, here is how awesome GoNoodle is. They haven given us the option to create grade level sets and the ability to share them with others. So...let's get to creating and share! I envision this new feature really taking off, and that can only be done with the help of you. Create those sets and share them. 

Here are some examples of the 2nd grade verbs set that I made. 



Did you make a set? Want to share, too? Click HERE to access a Google Docs sheet that I have put together so that we can share the sets that we create! 

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

TPT SuperHero Sale...Wish List!

It's here! The Teachers are Heroes Teachers Pay Teachers sale goes live tomorrow (2-25-15) and I am  sharing with you some of the resources that are on my wish list that I plan on purchasing. There are so many great resources out there, and I want to make sure that you are aware of some amazing products that are sure to be a great addition to your classroom curriculum and learning environment. 


 I love all things Jen Jones and could buy every product in her store if I could. I am really excited about her new fluency packs. Each fluency task was written with a purpose. Students will become more knowledgable about text as well as increase their reading fluency and vocabulary through these activities.

 Angie over at Lucky Little Learners is fabulous at creating interactive notebooks! I love her regrouping bundle and can't wait to add it to our classroom notebooks!

 I cannot wait..CANNOT WAIT to add Jodi's comprehension notebook to my classroom morning meeting routine. I heard so many teachers talk about how awesome this pack was that I just KNEW I had to include it in this sale!

 Are you an upper elementary teacher? Do you participate in Genius Hour or are interested in learning how to incorporate it? Check out Stacy's amazing new pack! It has everything you need(lots of teacher prep info) to help you make the most out of Genius Hour!



 I already own Picture of the Day-Volume , and I can promise you that my students will LOVE getting to interact with these new pictures. We do Picture of the Day 2-3 times a week and my students get so excited about exploring each picture. Their inferencing skills have skyrocketed thanks to Jen's product.


I can't quit talking about Kayla's Digital Citizen pack. I actually already own this one, but I just HAD to share it with you. This is a must have!




I think my favorite thing about all of these products is that they all contain strong instructional strategies that are sure to engage students and their brains. They are going to be fabulous additions to your classroom!









Thursday, February 19, 2015

Book Study: Worksheets Don't Grow Dendrites

Being a life-long learner is one of the things that I am most passionate about in my teaching career. I LOVE digging into fun and meaningful professional development whenever I can. I will read ANYTHING, but I get extra excited when I pick up a new educational book to read. I know that I can find a lot of new ideas to incorporate into my classroom that will help ignite the same passion for learning in my students that I carry with me. 

Collaboration and sharing with others is another one of my top passions. That is why I am so excited to tell you about a collaborative blogger book study that is coming your way super soon!


Get ready to do some on-line professional learning with some of your favorite bloggers!  Several of these lovely ladies just returned from an AMAZING trip to The Ron Clark Academy where they were inspired to find ways to reach our learners in fun and exciting ways! Starting February 28th, we are going to be hosting a linky party each Tuesday and Saturday with chapters from this book: 

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Linky parties will take place on these different blogs each time. Here is the order so you can plan accordingly :)
Kickin it in Kindergarten- Chapters 1 &2 (February 28th)
Mrs. Wills Kindergarten- Chapter 3 (March 7th)
Queen of the First Grade Jungle Chapter 4 (March 10th)
Fabulous in First  Chapter 5 (March 14th)
One Extra Degree Chapter 6 (March 17th)
Mrs. Jump’s Class Chapter 7 (March 28th)
The First Grade Parade  Chapter 8 (March 31st)
In April, you will be visiting these girls for the remainder of the study:
Mrs. Ehle’s Kindergarten Chapter 9 &10 (April 4th)
What The Teacher Wants Chapter 11 (April 7th)
First Grader At Last Chapter 12 (April 11th)
Erica’s Ed Ventures  Chapter 13 (April 14th)
KinderGals Chapter 14 &15 (April 18th)
A Rocky Top Teacher Chapter 16 (April 21st)
Mrs. Wills Kindergarten Chapter 17 (April 25th)
Little Warriors Chapter 18 (April 28th)
Falling Into First Chapter 19 (May 2nd)
Kickin’ it in Kindergarten Chapter 20 (May 5th)
You can join in for whatever part you like! If you are not a blogger, that is OK! We will want you to join in on the fun. You can participate in the conversation in the comments. We want this to be a positive collaboration between teachers! The whole point is to encourage each other with inspiring ideas while still using research based best practice.

I can't wait to share and learn alongside you! I hope you will join me and these fabulous ladies as we explore creative ways to spice up learning in our classrooms through engaging and meaningful activities! See you on the 28th!

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

EDExpo 2015 Part 1


Recently, I was invited to attend the 2015 EDExpo in Atlanta, Georgia on February 22nd. I am so excited because this event will give me the opportunity to collaborate with 50 other teacher bloggers as well as attend an incredible expo where I will be getting a sneak peak at products and new educational resources as well as taking notes/giving feedback on my favorite resources to be used in the classroom and schools. 


This expo is known for sharing the newest, most innovative resources out there at the moment. I will have my eye open for things that I think will make a positive impact in our classrooms and add to our successful learning curriculums. Owners, CEOs,  and presidents of well-known education resources companies will be there as well as superintendents, principals, educational specialists, and so many other great educators. You can check out the list of bloggers who will be attending with me here, and you can check out which companies will be at the expo here

I cannot wait for this weekend. I will be posting more about the experience after the Expo so you will hear all about the event! I promise!

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Learning Through Google Docs

I have always been a huge fan of Google Docs/Drive. However, my recent obsession started when I was taking a graduate class that required my classmates and me to do a lot of group work. One of the wonderful teachers in my group suggested that we use Google Docs because we could all edit, share, and work on our documents and presentations together at the same time. Instantly, I became obsessed with the possibilities that a tool, such as Google Docs, could do for me and my students in the classroom.


I have some big plans and dreams for what my students will be accomplishing with the help of Google Docs, but I wanted to show you how we started experimenting with the technology tool this week. This post might be a little crazy, but hopefully I can get into words how awesome this tool is!


First, you need to have a Google account. I have a personal account and a blog account. I also created a class account for my kiddos to use (Next year, I plan on creating individual email accounts for my students, but a class account will work well for now!). My lovely friend Aris from Sailing into Second uses Google Drive in her classroom as well and has a great tutorial that covers Google Drive basics that I highly encourage you read here.

I opted for creating a classroom account for login ease at the moment. It is much easier to sign in 18 7-8 year olds who are not very familiar with long logins when the passwords and usernames are all the same! :) We went step-by-step through the login in process. It really only took us about 5 minutes to get everyone ready. The biggest trouble that my kiddos had was learning how to put the @ symbol into the email address. That was something that many of them had not had to do yet.


 After all the kiddos were logged in then we were finally ready to go. I love it when things are organized and my Google Drive is no exception. Prior to starting this project, I had gone in and created a 2nd grade folder. Everything that we create together will go under this folder of the remainder of the year.  Students clicked on the 2nd Grade Folder which led them to another folder called "Practice Run". Students clicked on that and were greeted with a page that had 20 documents all labeled "Practice #". They knew to find their class number and click on that document. 


Their first task (since it was our first attempt at using this in the classroom) was to answer 3 questions in COMPLETE sentences. We had a small mini-lesson discussing the relationships between writing and typing, and the students did a great job brainstorming important things that they knew they would need to remember to do when typing (capital letters, punctuation, etc.). 



My favorite part about the whole experiment was that I was able to provide academic feedback and support easily and quickly with my students thanks to the Google Doc editing tool. I shared all of their documents with my blogging account so that I could go in and comment on their documents. I showed students what it would look like if I left feedback on their document, discussed how the comments I would leave would either be asking them to take a closer look at something and/or complimenting them on things that they had done well. They learned how to resolve comments and respond back to me if they wanted to say something or ask me a question about the feedback they I had left. 

For a teacher who is serious about providing students with academic feedback(both written and verbal) as much as possible; I was in teacher heaven thanks to the editing tool with Google Docs.  I had a techie teacher moment when I was able to say "#5, I am about to head to your document and leave you feedback."


I love the example above. The student had written the following- Today at lunch we had pizza. And we had free ice cream. All I had to do was highlight where I wanted her to look at, and I left her a quick comment asking her to rethink what she had written. The student was able to apply critical thinking skills and activate prior knowledge to fix the sentence. 

All in all, I think that using Google Docs in the classroom is going to be a smashing success. I was able to challenge and support all of my students. The students really blew me away with how well they did. I know that we are going to be able to create some amazing student-led and student created projects in the weeks and months ahead thanks to this amazing tech tool. 





Next week, my students will be learning about our "digital footprints" and internet safety thanks to Kayla over at Top Dog Teaching . We already research and use technology a lot, but I want to make sure that we are doing it correctly and understanding the importance of respecting the digital footprints that we create when using the internet. Kayla's tool will be a great foundation for us to build off of. Be sure to check back in this next week to see how it went! I can't wait to share with you how amazing her unit is! 

Monday, February 9, 2015

Bar Graphs and Gynzy.com



This week, my students will be exploring one of my favorite math units-graphing. I love teaching this unit because there are so many ways that you can incorporate math skills, real world scenarios, and opportunities for student created content into the lessons centered around graphing and collecting/organizing data.

Sometimes, I have to get creative when pulling in technology resources during our graphing unit for second graders. However, that problem no longer exists because of an awesome and FREE website that is quickly becoming one of my favorite "go to" resources for technology incorporation in the classroom.


Welcome to Gynzy.com! I love how this new tech tool is helping me support student learning in my classroom. We are going to be interpreting and creating graphs as well as formulating and answering questions about our graphs. I wanted a way to model how to build a bar graph with my students as well as highlight characteristics and key details of a graph with my students before asking them to create one of their own.

We are using the bar graph tool on Gynzy to help review graphing components and expectations. Sometimes, it is easier to just show you how the program works so this is what I did! Watch the post below(make sure you click HD so that way the screen is clear) to see how easy Gynzy is to navigate!




I encourage you to check out what other resources this website has to offer...the possibilities are endless! 








Sunday, February 1, 2015

Building and Maintaining Student Relationships


I always find myself reflecting back on each month and finding things that I can do better. This month, I realized that I had not been spending enough time "talking" with my students. Yes, we talk a lot throughout each school day. But..when I say talk..I really mean connecting and chatting. Yes! Chatting with your students is important!

I talk all about it in my Monday's Moment video on my Facebook page or watch it below.

Our students deserve to know that we care, and talking with them about their interests, hobbies, home lives, friend drama, and favorite books are all apart of building strong relationships with our students. As teachers, it is essential that we create, build, and maintain a strong and inviting classroom culture. It is vital that our students feel safe, valued, and important in our classrooms and that connection has to start with YOU. 

Make eye contact with your kiddos. Say hello. Talk to them about the little things like what they ate for breakfast and what their favorite TV show is. Listen to them when they want to tell you stories, tell them jokes, compliment their outfits and hair styles, ask their opinion, tell them about your life, smile, and just TALK to them.


I found myself really slacking in this during the past month. I got a little too focused on the fact that the first half of the school year is gone and time is really running out. My little kiddos will be moving on to bigger and better things soon(I know..I still have 4 months) and growing up without me. But, time is flying by(HELLO?!? January..where did you go?) and I don't want to miss out on spending time with my students to just talk about life. 

One of the challenges that I have given myself this month is to meet with each of my students once a month and have a "Teacher Chat".  I threw together this little form to help us stay on track and hold me accountable. There are 3 major parts of our Teacher Chat. Students will be asked to tell me something good. I will either record it or ask them to write it down. Then, I will give them a compliment and let them know that I am proud of them for something that they are doing in the classroom. And lastly, I am going to draw for/with them. I am a horrible artist, but I love to draw. I thought it would be a fun way to connect with my second graders. 

So...that is my challenge for the month, and I hope that you will try it out, too! Feel free to download it, and give it a try. Let me know how it goes. Just click here to download the editable version. 

Oh..and here is a new favorite quote of mine. I think it goes perfectly with this challenge.