Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Baby love and Halloween freebie

I have to admit that I have been hibernating and I am not ashamed by this fact at all. I gave birth to the sweetest baby girl last month and I've been spending every moment with her. I can't imagine anything more precious. She is seriously my world right now and I am so grateful that I get to stay home with her this year.

I did manage to open up Powerpoint yesterday... for honestly, the first time since giving birth. I made a quick Halloween freebie. Every year on Halloween I buy my kiddos some candy corn because I love them so much -- the candy corn and the kids. :)

I've created a freebie for comparing numbers using candy corn. Of course you don't have to actually let your students use candy corn, but it's a fun way to get them to work on their math. Think of the candy corn as greater than and less than signs.

In my classroom I have them first answer using candy corn. Then, I come around and spot check and they enjoy their treat while they go through and write their answers by hand.

I have included several different versions. I especially like the adding, subtracting, and multiplication ones because they involve a little work first.

Enjoy this freebie and happy halloween. Oh yah, there are answer keys included! Click here  or on the picture below to grab the freebie.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

More Love Sale and a Freebie!

Yay! A one day sale for all those last minute things you and I forgot to buy! If you blink you might miss it, especially to my friends not on the East Coast. When I was living in Alaska I would always come home after school, relax, eat dinner, and then get shopping. At least once I went to check out and the sale was already over East Coast time. Waaaaaah! Don't let that happen to you!

And now onto a back to school freebie! It's sometimes a struggle to do cooperative learning with little ones at the beginning of the year when they can't really read or write too well. Plus, they're often super shy. On the other hand, this is one of the best ways to start building a classroom community. This ice breaker allows students to get up, interact with classmates, and all they have to do is write their name! That is totally doable in a K-1 classroom if you ask me. I've made pictures to help students figure out the writing. Enjoy this "Find Someone Who" freebie by clicking here.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Sale Ends Tonight

Hurry! There's still time to take advantage of TPT's annual back to school sale! It ends tonight at midnight. My entire store is on sale 20%, but don't forget to add the back to school promo code BTS15 to get the extra 8% off.

After Vegas (which was ah-maz-ing) I came home and got to work on a new set that I'm excited to share. Just like my Zoo Friends set, I have created alphabet headers, flashcards and letter work that all match. These of course don't use animals, hence the big difference between the two! As a first grade teacher I know how important it is to be consistent when teaching students their letter names and sounds for the first time. Check them out here!

Here is a peak at my best selling Zoo Friends set. This set does align with the same animals as used in the Zoo Phonics program.

Happy shopping! I'm off to finalize my cart! :)

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Las Vegas.... I made it!

I finally got my act together yesterday and printed all of the handouts for the I Teach 1st and TPT conferences. I also made my honey a To Do list. ;)

Anyway, my baby bump and I made it! Plus, my two first grade friends from Alaska have arrived. In fact, they got here a smidge before me so they enjoyed the rooftop pool this evening. I will be exploring that tomorrow! We are all in heaven with our over the top 2 bedroom, 2 bathroom hotel room. It was a timeshare score for sure! I don't even want to think about what this would be costing for the week if we were paying regular hotel fees. Yikes! 

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Currently July... ALREADY!

Wowza, this is embarrassing. I will be the 291st person linking up to Farley's monthly linky party. (Actually, some other late comer might beat me and I might be the 292nd!) I really meant to post this yesterday but oh well, I'm a day late and a dollar short.

Listening: Can I just say... I am so glad to see rain. I loved living in Alaska. I mean, I really seriously loved it, but I sure did miss the rain. Now that I'm in Georgia my daily routine is taking the dog on a walk (IE, my All Star talent), going to the pool for 2 hours (that's about all my little pregnant self can take in this heat), and then coming home and taking an hour or so nap during what always seems to be an afternoon thunderstorm. 

Loving: I am loving my new house. It's slow going setting up the house, but here is the living room. It's not huge by any means, but it opens up into the kitchen and I love that. Plus, I'm on a gold kick. 

Thinking: I can not believe Vegas is next week! I leave Sunday night because I'm going to the I Teach 1st conference before the TPT conference. I am SO excited and very nervous about meeting everyone... especially at 30 weeks pregnant. 

Wanting: So I'm having a baby girl and thus, I'm having some serious cravings for sweet treats. My amazing husband went down to the gas station the other night and got me an ice cream sandwich... one of those heavenly Toll House cookie ones. I'm trying to keep it in check. Is it too soon to ask him to do it again? Thank goodness I passed the Gestational Diabetes test!

Needing: I'm so needing to get ready for Vegas. Do you have any idea how many different sessions I'm supposed to be going to when you combine the I teach 1st ones, TPT ones, and all the incredible meet ups?!?! Do I even know?! The answer is no, but I think it's something crazy... like 30! I have not printed out my handouts or made a schedule aka I'm not ready at all.

All Star: I've been taking my sweet greyhound on daily walks in the mornings before it gets too hot. This is new for us because in Alaska we had a huge yard and his shock collar let him also go into the neighbor's yard to play with their dogs. Here, our yard is small, fenced in, and he doesn't have any little doggy friends. Anyway, we are loving our morning walks. Here is a picture of my sweet dog and my giant baby bump.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Rock your first year

This week I am thrilled to link up with Chandra at Teaching With Crayons and Curls for a super important cause --> how to rock your first year teaching. 

I actually did not go to school to become a teacher, but rather changed my mind about two years out after completing my undergraduate degrees in journalism and sociology. I found an alternate route liscensure program within the The New Teacher Project umbrella. They have teaching fellows programs all over the country. In any event, I never student taught and my first day of teaching was basically my first time in an elementary school classroom since I  was in elementary school. WHAT?!

Needless to say, my first year teaching was intense. I was thrown into a fourth grade classroom... alone.... at a Title 1 school and at night I attended graduate school. Luckily, I had a great mentor, amazing colleagues, and a really top notch masters program helping me survive that first year.
Be consistent with classroom management: My advice is to read tons of books on the subject, ask other teachers what they do, and then dive in and make a plan for the first year. Find what fits your personality and you'll come to learn what you value as a teacher over time. For me, I found a home in Whole Brain Teaching. I am not a card puller or a clothespin mover. I actually tried the stick and clothespin moving my first year and I quickly learned that only about 20% of my class really NEEDED to see that daily movement and have that constant monitoring. Of course, they were always moving down and it didn't seem to even phase them. A whole class method of management was more ideal to me (and less work) and I put those students that really NEEDED that close monitoring on individualized behavior plans. These plans were positive and specifically tailored toward the students that needed them. And the best part was, when the students didn't need them anymore they went away. This year I discovered Class Dojo and I used that in addition to Whole Brain Teaching's Scoreboard Game.  If you have a few minutes and you don't know what Class Dojo is go check it out! My firsties loved it!

Observe great teachers: Most schools allow you to take some professional leave to go observe another teacher at your school (perhaps on your team) or even go see another great teacher in your district. My first year I really wanted to try reading workshop but was unsure of how to do it. My literacy coach hooked me up with another school where there was a great teacher leader who rocked at reading workshop. I spent the morning there one day watching her class and it was a light bulb moment. Another thing I have done an embarrassingly lot of is watch teacher videos. Both districts that I have worked for have had excelled curriculum and instruction departments with professional books and videos for you to check out. You can also watch the Teaching Channel which has amazing exemplar lessons at every grade level and for every subject.

Make friends with the school secretary and custodian: You will thank me for this later! At my school we have the attendance secretary and the admin secretary and you would think they ran the school. That's because they basically did. As a new teacher you will have so many questions about receipts, field trips, sub days, etc and these ladies will be your life savers. Find out what they like (sweets?) and provide it with a smile at the beginning of the year. The same goes for your custodian. Make friends with the day time one and also the one who will be cleaning your classroom in the afternoon. I can't tell you how many times both of those people saved my booty and came to my aid, going above and beyond.

Don't think you can do it all: Let's be real. It's your first year....  your goal is to survive. I would really focus on making management a priority. After that, each year pick one or two things to really master. For example, this year I am going to become an expert on writing workshop or math rotations. Your first year is a time to ask a million questions, make a million mistakes, and hold on tight. 

Don't glaze over procedures and routines with your class: Procedures need to be planned in advance and that's your job! Trust me, procedures matter. For example, ask yourself -- how will my students let me know they need to go to the bathroom and how will I keep track of when they go? Do I even care how many times a day they go? Some of you won't care and that's fine. Different teachers care about different things, but the bottom line is that every teacher needs to sit down and make a plan for common classroom occurrences like how students enter the classroom, leave the classroom, move in the hallway, sharpen their pencils, etc. Sometimes procedures change and that is OKAY! Just teach the new procedure. For example, maybe at the beginning of the year you have your students in rows and the person on the left passes down the papers and when it's time to collect papers everyone passes to the right. Perhaps two months into school you decide to put your students in groups of four and you give each student at the group a number 1-4. Now, you have a new procedure and the number 1s pass out the papers and the number 2s collect the papers. Don't panic when a procedure changes because this will happen and it's natural. In fact, it's a good sign. It means you're getting smarter and you've found a better way to handle something. Teach the procedure, model the procedure, and then practice it 100 times. No really.... 100 times. 

Be kind to yourself: Last but not least, be kind to yourself. Being a teacher is a really hard job. You'll soon find that out if you don't already agree with that statement. Take time for yourself. You'll make lots of mistakes, but you'll learn from them. You'll be a second year teacher in no time. 

Monday, June 22, 2015

TPT Seller Challenge Week 2: Dare to Dream

Today I am happy to be linking up with Third in Hollywood, Teach Create Motivate, Sparkling in Second, and Peppy Zesty Teacherista! All four of these ladies have the most precious blogs! Seriously... their blog designs are incredible!

This week the challenge is to dream big so here goes!

Stay home & raise babies! My husband and I are expecting our first child in September. I could not be more excited!! We have also recently moved from Alaska to Georgia. My husband and I will be here for less than a year (army life) and I will not be teaching this school year. It makes sense because of the short time we have in Georgia, but also because we'll be welcoming our baby girl this fall. I am SO grateful that it worked out this way timing wise and that I'll be able to spend the first year with her. My real hope is that I can "job share" or "team teach" in the years to come... this is where one teacher works 2.5 days a week and another teacher works 2.5 days a week. That would give me time to be home with my growing family, but still do what I love. A steady TPT income would make this dream possible!

Be debt free! My husband and I have worked really hard the last two years paying off my student loans and now we've got to work toward a small one he has and our car payments. Of course, now with me staying home this next year it will be much harder to chip away at that debt. I'm hoping TPT can help with this... now if only I could stop "nesting" and watching SVU reruns and start working on TPT.... ;)

Buy a vacation home! My husband and I love to travel but I decided not to put that down. Instead, now that we're starting to grow our family I really want to start some yearly travel traditions. I've always envied people that go to the same spot each year with their immediate and extended families. I'd love to have a mountain or beach house somewhere that we could go to every year ... or more often! :) I have a dream of my kiddos playing with their cousins there year after year.

Give back! There are so many individual people, schools, organizations, and churches that have blessed my husband and I over the years and I'd love to be able to pay them back. I want to be able to live generously.

Don't forget to link up yourself by checking out one of the blogs listed above.
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