Sunday, July 26, 2015

Continuing Professional Development

Hi there!  I hope you are finding time to relax and enjoy the summer!  I can't believe how quickly the new school year approaching.

Many of you are already planning and prepping your return.  I know I am!  However, along with supply buying, blog stalking, pinning, team meetings, and a little bit of actual planning, I also need to make a plan to renew my teaching certificate.

In our district we need to renew our certificate every five years.  In order to do so, we need to earn six continuing education credits; which can be through our County or at an accredited college.  It's great to take them through the County because they are offered at a discounted rate and we get fully reimbursed once we finish.  However, they are just that...CPD credits.  They are not college level credits.

If you are in need of your Masters, Masters +30, or Doctorate they do not count.   I usually like to take summer classes, but it just didn't work this summer.  So, since my certificate expires at the end of this upcoming year, I need to finish getting my credits during the school year.  As you know, life can make it difficult to physically attend classes at a college.  Luckily, there's tons of websites that offer on-line classes.  I never really thought I would like an on-line course.  I'm more of a...meeting with others~listening to an instructor~taking notes kind of student.   But, I had to take an on-line course last year and LOVED it!  I could do my work in my pajamas, laying in bed, at any time of the day.  YES!!!!!

Recently, a friend of mine directed me to an on-line campus called, Professional Development Institute.  They offer semester and flex courses.  A semester course has a specific deadline with assignments due by that date.  If you take a flex course, you have up to 1 year to complete your assignments!!!  That's right, ONE YEAR.  So, if you're not in any rush this is definitely for you!  I just registered for, Implementing the Second Grade Common Core Lit Standards/Flex Course.   I'm looking forward to delving into the ELA literature standards and sharing ideas with others on-line!

Other courses available:
Class Management
Teaching Strategies
Common Core
Courses are available Pre-K through High School.  There's something for everyone!!

If you are interested in registering for courses, download the flyer below.  When registering, I would appreciate it if you mentioned my name in the checkout screen box.

Thanks for listening to my rambles!!

Thursday, June 18, 2015

End of Year gift idea

Hi there!
Can you believe it...we are STILL. IN. SCHOOL.  Yup, thanks to the snow days our last day is TOMORROW!  The end is finally insight, as well as sunshine and pool time!

I wanted to share a quick and easy end of the year gift I made for my students.  I definitely can't take the credit for this one.  I was scrolling through hem, writing lesson plans and I came across this adorable gift!  The original idea came from Confessions of a Teaching Junkie.  I created my own "Just One Word" recording sheet for my kiddos.  Our introduction was a great review of positive character traits.  We brainstormed as many as we could think of for students in our class.  Then, I let them go!  They had so much fun!!  They even asked if they could add our ESOL teacher, team paraeducator, and an assistant that works in our math class.  I was surprised with how excited they got.
The whole project was created in Wordle.  If you've never used Wordle, it's pretty awesome.  The more you type the same word, the larger it will get.  You'll notice that their names are the largest on the paper because I typed them eight times each.  The other word sizes were determined by what the other kids said about them.

Here are a few examples...


Thanks for listening to my rambles!

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Favorite Teacher Items

In honor of Ashley's birthday, this week's post is about our favorite teacher items.  Who can resist teacher stuff?!?!  One of my absolute favorite times of the year is in August, about 2-3 weeks before school starts.  I make my rounds to all the teacher supply stores and big box stores to get the best deals and stock up on things for my classroom.  I also enjoy getting little teacher gifts in my mailbox during Teacher Appreciation Week, my birthday, or for no reason at all!!!  Who doesn't love getting stuff for their classroom?!?!

Here are just a few of my favorite items...
I LOVE mechanical pencils!  These are my favs, but they have to be .9mm, I'm a little tough on the lead.  I even let my kiddos use them in class, they love it!

Post-its...enough said :)
Fadeless paper is a MUST for bulletin boards!  It can be a tad bit on the expensive side, but I leave the same colors up for two years and just change the borders, as needed.
If you use the Fountas and Pinnell Benchmarking Assessment System, you know how awesome this calculator/stopwatch is!!!  With the push of a button it calculates reading rate, percentage of accuracy, and self-correction ratio.  Click {here} to check it out!

Last, but definitely not least, is this amazing Jan Richardson Flip Chart!  It's a teacher cheat-sheet to Jan Richardson's Guided Reading Comprehension strategies.  It offers step-by-step scaffolding of  each comprehension strategy.  If you could use one in your classroom, simple Google "Jan Richardson flip chart" and look for it in PDF form.

To see what Ashley loves and to enter her Favorite Teacher Items giveaway, click {here}.

Thanks for listening to my rambles!!

Monday, June 1, 2015

Birthday Blowout~Week 1 giveaways!!

Hi there!
No, it's not my birthday.  I am helping Ashley from Teaching in the Net celebrate her birthday ALL. MONTH. LONG.  Each week, Ashley and a TON of TPT sellers are giving away products to celebrate her special day!  In addition, Ashley's entire TPT store is 20% off all month and on her birthday, June 11th, some items will even be 50% off!!  Wait...that's not all....she's also having flash freebies on her Facebook page.  Can you believe how generous she is?!?!?!  I just hope I can keep up with all of the fun happenings! Click {here} to view her official blog post and get all the details. You can also enter BOTH of her Rafflecopters right here on my page...keep scrolling :)

Enter to win this END OF THE YEAR Prize Pack below.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Now, that I've shared THAT giveaway, you may also enter to win one of four amazing products...are you ready for this?!?!?  You could win a $50 gift card to Sit Spots, over $300 in TPT store credits, A Few of Ashley's Favorite Things, or a $50 clipart club membership to The Creative Art Teacher.  To see more details, head on over to Ashley's blog {here}.

You have until Thursday, June 11th (at midnight EST) to enter to win these prize packs.  4 random winners will be drawn on Friday, June 12th.

HUGE Birthday Blowout Prize pack (runs May 31-June 11) - drawing will be on June 12 
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Thanks for listening to my rambles!

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Western Themed Teacher Appreciation & a Giveaway

Hey there!
How was your Teacher Appreciation Week?  Did your PTA or administrators do anything special for the staff?  How about your parents?  I have to admit, I believe we have the best PTA around!  This year our PTA planned a Western-Themed Teacher Appreciation Week.  Talk about amazing!!!  From the invitation, to the decor, to the was simply a fun-filled week!!

Here is the invitation...

And, here are a few pictures...
There were decorations all over the building.  Here are a few highlights from the teacher's lounge.  Our lunch table was setup as a covered wagon!  I didn't even realize there were wagon wheels at the bottom until Thursday!  So creative!!


These were on all staff doors when we came in on Monday.  The notes are from students!!

The cake is from one our very talented parents.  If you are in the Baltimore-D.C. area, check out her Facebook page, Batter Up Cakes.

In addition to everything above, everyday we found a little treat in our mailboxes...handsoap, Hershey kisses, a Slim Jim, notecards, and, my favorite, S'mores treats!! 

We truly are lucky to have the PTA that we have!  We are extra lucky to have such a creative rep, Mrs. P, to make us feel special during this week and throughout the year.  Thanks to them!!!

Thanks for listening to my rambles!!

Friday, May 8, 2015

Hi there!  Need any last minute ideas for Mother's Day?  How about planning ahead for Father's Day?  Check out my post at  Classroom Tested Resources.   I've shared five, fun activities that can be done in your classroom or at home with your own kiddos!!

Thanks for listening to my rambles!!

Sunday, April 19, 2015

American Symbols Research Project & A Freebie

1st day back after 4 months off with this cutie!!
Hi there!!!  Well, I am finally back in the classroom.  As much as I don't like winter, I was lucky to have four months of maternity leave with baby B.  But, as the saying goes, "all good things must come to an end."  Honestly, I didn't mind going back.  Having four months off has made me realize that teaching truly is my passion and my hobby.  I missed my students, my classroom, and my team.  Don't get me wrong, I miss my boy dearly...but, I now I fully cherish every moment we spend together.

In our school district, we adopted the Math and ELA Common Core Standards a few years back. We will introduce the social studies standards next year and science & health will come at a later date. Currently, during the 3rd quarter we teach about American Symbols.  The essential question is: What do some people and symbols of our country represent?  I look forward to this unit all school year!  I take the opportunity to integrate it with our research, writing unit.  Since I was returning to work at the beginning of the 4th quarter, I asked my substitute to save this unit for me...I didn't want to miss teaching it!  I REALLY hope this unit is part of the CC!!


Before I begin teaching, I go to the library and checkout all a lot of books on American Symbols.  I let the students have a few days reading the books and immersing themselves in the subject.  I also show them projects from years past.  This elicits a lot of oooohhhs and aaaahhhs.  They get so excited knowing that they are going to learn about our symbols and complete a project.  Below, you will find different series I've used.  The Welcome Books series is great for your lower readers.  Our media center also has the book, Leveled Texts for Social Studies-Symbols, Monuments, and Documents.  This book has one page articles on most of our American Symbols.  There are three leveled articles for each one.  It's great!!  Click on each picture to find the books.

We also have accessibility to a Dell mobile lab once/quarter.  Luckily, I had them the two weeks I returned to school!!  Our district pays for each of us to have a membership to Core Clicks (which is an AWESOME digital fiction program).  Honestly, Core Clicks deserves it's own blog post, which will happen at a later date:)  So, the students were assigned to read and analyze a non-fiction story called Across the USA.  Guess what it was about?!?!?  You got it...American Symbols!

This is always the hardest part.  Before we even begin to do research, we do two mini-lessons on important vs. interesting facts.  It NEVER fails, you ask a student to name the VIPs of a text and what do you get?  FUN FACTS!!  I don't blame them, fun facts are much easier to remember and fun to share:)  For the first mini-lesson, I created cards that have overall features of American Symbols, such as where it is located vs. how large it is.  As a group, we decide which features are important and which ones are interesting.  Then, I read The U.S. Capitol and we sorted pre-determined facts from the book into important or interesting.  I was surprised with how well they did!!  I left the first sort up so the students could reference it once they start finding their own facts.  At least, I HOPE they will reference it!

At this point, they are jumping out of their seats with excitement!!  They just want to start their projects.  But wait, I have a surprise for them, I let the students choose their own groups!  This causes an even BIGGER flurry of excitement!  I always debate whether I should group them myself or allow them to choose their own groups.  Ultimately, I let them choose because I know they will be more apt to work together and put more effort into their project.  Once they've chosen which symbol they want to research, they're each given a book and have to work on their own...what?!?!?  Work on their own?!  Yes, I expect them to read their book independently and they each have to come up with four facts.  They write notes, not sentences, on Post-its.  Next, they get back together and have to sort their facts into important vs. interesting as a group.  This requires a lot of collaboration and discussion...not always the easiest for second graders (or any grade level).   Here are a few pictures of my kiddos working together to sort their facts.

Since we had the Dell mobile labs, we used Pebble Go as another resource for our research.  This is another website that requires a membership, however, many County libraries have it available for free. Each of the symbols were on the website.  I was so happy because the students just LOVE having access to the laptops.  

The last part of the research is to turn their notes into complete sentences.  They write them on an organizer so the facts are all in one place.  

Now, onto the FUN stuff!!!!  The students write their important facts on blue index cards and the interesting facts on white index cards.  Then, they get to re-create their symbol using black construction paper and construction paper crayons.  Have you ever used these?  They are amazing! They are vibrant and really make the colors POP!  I give them tracers, that I made, and photographs of their symbols, from the internet.  This way, they can add details to their project.  See them in action and check out their final projects!!

I know this was a TON of information but I hope you can use this in your classroom.  As a thank you for reading all the way through, I'm giving you the organizer for important vs. interesting facts!!!  Just click on the picture or {here}.  I haven't put everything into a packet for TPT quite's on my looooooong to-do list. :)

Thanks for listening to my rambles!!

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Just What You Need~Math Planning Resource

Hi there!  This is just a quick post to let you know about an amazing online resource to help your math planning.  Teachers in my district call it "The Wiki."  And, it's available for grades K- 6.  If you want to find out more, check out my post at Classroom Tested Resources.

Thanks for listening to my rambles!!