Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Resources That Keep Me Afloat

"Just keep swimming...just keep swimming..." There is something about February that really knows how to rock a teacher's world. Or really, it's a combination of somethings. I mean state testing, benchmark testing, parent teacher conferences..the list goes on an on.

I'm Teaming up with the Owl-Ways Be Inspired gals to show you some of the resources I grab for week after week. The ones that help keep my head above water. Why are we talking about this today? You may have heard the word on the street...and I'm happy to confirm the rumors are TRUE!! TPT is 3 MILLION teachers STRONG!!!! And naturally, celebrating the milestone with a huge site wide sale!! Which means, now is the time to stock up on everything you need to help make your teaching life feel a little more smooth sailing til May! ;)

My Common Core Writing Galore packs pretty much save my butt every month when it comes to keeping things happy and engaging at the writing center.

{I recently bundled them here but I also have each individual month}

The last time I took action shots of these was December. So keepin' it real, those are the ones I'm going to share. Each card addresses a required C.C.S. Writing Types for 1st-3rd.

 I keep all of the cards in this basket. When my kids are at the writing center they pick a prompt they like and haven't worked on yet and write about it in their journal. There are 24 prompts in each pack.

 I love that I can set them out at the start of the month and know that my writing center is taken care of for the whole month. Also, I like that I can guide my kids to practicing the type of writing they need to learn to do, but still give them choice about what they're writing.

These two are also FAVES of mine for this upcoming Spring!
{Science Units: Plants, Weather, and Matter}
{Spring Flash Fluency}

The next items on my list comes from my uber talented friend

Tracy always puts the most creative spin on everything she makes! She created this genius thing, otherwise known as Buddy Binders. I started using them after Christmas Break and found them perfect for early finishers. I snapped a few shots of how I've set this one up.


I house each game inside one of these laminated manila folders. The smaller tub inside holds all the materials needed for the games. When my kids finish their work a little early OR they get done with their "must do centers" during stations, they can pick a game to play from the tub. If it's an independent work time, they know they need to pick a game to play by themselves.

{This gal took this to the carpet to work on after she finished her morning work.}

During station time, they can buddy up! 

{These two "buddied" but still wanted their own boards, haha!}

It's such easy prep on my end because they're used again and again. At the end of the week I give one of my kids the very special job of washing all our boards with the *Magic Sponge Eraser* which helps with some of the marker build up on the laminated pages. 

Also, here is a quick Instagram of us reading Tracy's Thanksgiving e-book. She includes an audio with her voice in all of her holiday e-books. The look on my kid's faces when I told them I knew the author was priceless. Keep an eye out, I hear she has an Earth Day book in the works!

 My sweet friend Katie from Queen of the First Grade Jungle

 I started using these Busy Teacher packs last year when Katie was still teaching first grade. Luckily, she continued to make them for second. They make perfect follow up activities, homework, and sub plans! I dug through the archives to find some "action shots".

Small Group Instruction: Working on a skill together at the teacher table.

Sub Plans: When I blogged about my Sub Tub, a BT reading response was in the mix.

 Whew. Lots of pictures. I hope they helped show how these items. If you made it to the end, I want to give you a chance to win an item of your choice from my store! Leave a comment telling me a resource you'd love to have from my store! I'll randomly pick and announce a winner on Friday. Don't worry if you want to snag that item while it's on SALE Thursday-- you just get to pick something else!  

My entire store will be 20% this Thursday & Friday for the big sale! 
More stores are linked up on Blog Hoppin

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Spring Into Fluency

Another Season is on the horizon. I know I'm not the only one who is more than ready to say farewell to Old Man Winter for quite some time. This also means we're getting ready to move into a new season of fluency in our classroom!

{Download the FLUENCY label from my basket HERE}

Whenever possible I try to label bins and choices on our room with the standards that they hit. Since I have two places where I've got our Flash Fluency materials for grabs, the sign is in both spots.

Just like the Fall and Winter  sets, my Spring Flash Fluency has ten themes that are relevant to the season. These new cards will last us from March-May. (Truth be told we're a little ahead and are ready for the new set about a week early.) The goal is to practice sight words in context, with a focus on becoming more fluent readers.

I like to keep the current set of cards displayed on rings like this one. I pick up a pack of rings like the one above Target for about $2. Or a pack of all the same sized rings at Staples.

Here are a few ways these get used in class on the daily...

1. Guided Reading

If I'm doing a running record with a student while the rest of the group reads independently I might leave them a ring of cards and a timer. They can time themselves reading the ring before or after their book.

Other times, we might begin or end a guided reading lesson with a sight word game.

2. Early Finishers

Add sand timers and these guys get SERIOUS about beating it!!!

Early finishers can grab a ring from the board and practice their fluency independently. I introduce a ring a week usually, and retire one of the earlier weeks into, "the basket"...

...the basket doesn't house the cards. But it does house all the past Flash Fluency pages.

Hello, Halloween words! Haha. But I like it because at any given time now there are around 20 lists that someone can grab, even if there are no rings of cards available. The most current ring of cards is usually the one everyone wants.

If this looks like something your crew could use to freshen up those fluency skills, you can preview all the themes for the Spring Flash Fluency pack. This one is taking us straight into Summer vacation!

I'm secretly hoping that by getting a jump on the Spring cards that the weather is going to warm itself right on up and I can wear my flip flops once again. I don't care what that groundhog said. ;)

Monday, February 17, 2014

Presidential Writing

I was hoping to start our Presidents Day unit last week. But a little combination called 100th Day and Valentine's Day kind of stepped in and foiled my plans. No biggie though. We'll be rolling with my it all this week and then working on American Symbols the week after that. I decided to go ahead and add a little Historical flair to our writing center for these next two weeks.

One of our Social Studies standards discusses how communities and lives were different in the past. Well in George and Abe's day, people wrote with feathers and ink. I'm not quite cool teacher enough to bust out an ink well and let them have at it. But, add a pen and a little tape, and we're halfway there. ;)

I made sure to tape the feathers up *just* high enough so that they can still grip the pen properly.  In addition to being a good talking point for the above mentioned Social Studies standard, I'm hoping it adds a little extra motivation to do our best writing this week. Pens are not something they get to use on a regular basis to do their writing. So I know this will be kind of a BIG deal for my class. 

 A few of the pages they will be working on this week. They come from my All About The Presidents Unit and Presidential Word Work Freebie packs.

I also wanted to share that All About The Presidents  received a big ol' update last night!

 It still includes all the same fun activities from last year. But I've added a few more and revamped the overall look of things. You can now find all the great text passages and text based evidence questions that are included in my other Common Core Galore units.

If you already own it, be sure and stop by TPT to download the new version!!
Here is a peek at some of the updated pages.

Since today is President's Day, the update is ON SALE for 20% off until midnight!

Happy President's Day!! 

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Valentine in Rewind

Stopping by to share a quick rewind of the Valentine's Day shenanigans yesterday. In spite of the whirlwind that it is, I really can't hate on Valentine's Day in school. I still remember the excitement of going to school on party day as a kid and the urgency with which we tore through our boxes stuffed with cards and sugar bliss. Kind of like this one below. :)

That googly eye Valentine peeper at the top is the card I made for all my kids this year. In six years of making student Valentines, they are deff. my favorite creation. I found the googly eye rings in the party favor aisle at Target. Packs of 6 for $2. Can't go wrong with that!! Two quick dots with the glue gun does the trick to make them stick. But doesn't ruin the cards when they pull them off either.

I shared them on Instagram and had a request to share. So you can download the file HERE.

Five More Clips From Out Day..

ONE: I got to wear one of my other recent Target purchases.
#everythingiowncomesfromtarget #almost

TWO: Pin the nose on the heart made for a perfect LAST MINUTE Valentine Party station. I seriously threw that thing together in the last ten minutes of my plan time. Haha!! 

THREE: Valentine Bingo. Another great idea in a pinch.

FOUR: Our Social Committe Raffled up a little Starbucks lovin. 
And guess who won!?  I love that place a whole latte. ;)

FIVE: My sweet hubs and I went out to our favorite local sushi restaurant for dinner. He came home with a gift card to Victoria Secrets (YAY!!) and these roses. And it was at that moment I realized all my vases are still boxed up from our move in my parent's basement. 

I mean, what other choice did I have!? Haha!! 

Now I'm off to get my hair did and enjoy my THREE day weekend!!!