Monday, March 31, 2014

Opinion Writing - What's Your Favorite Candy?

Last week I started an opinion writing unit with my 2nd graders. I wanted to try some easy things first before jumping into our Writing About Reading (Lucy Calkins). We have talked about Fact and Opinion a lot already this year, so the kids had no trouble with the concept. I used these great anchor charts to get us going:

Here's a few of my favorites:



By the way, what is your favorite candy? Leave me a comment below with your e-mail and I will send you a little freebie! Freebie no longer available.

Friday, March 28, 2014

An Eventful Day!

We had quite an eventful day and I have to say that I am pretty tired right now!  The day started off with it being crazy hat/hair day.  The students in our school raised money for Jump for Heart and had a goal of $1,000, but they ended up raising more than $6,000.  Pretty Awesome!  So, they were allowed to do a crazy hat/hair day since they raised all this money.  Here are some of them today:

Some of it is hard to see in the picture, but we had spiked hair, several ponytails, hats, a bird in the hair, Easter eggs in hair.  As for me, well one of the wonderful kindergarten teachers helped me with my hair, she put some colorful string in it. 

The second eventful thing that occurred today was that it was the homework club luncheon.  My co-teacher came up with a great idea of the homework club and if the students do all of their each month, at the end of the month we all eat lunch together.  So today was the day and we all (total of 19 kids) came into the classroom and ate and talked.  They get very excited for this and had been asking about it all week.  One of my kiddos even said to me one day, "Homework club is so awesome and I am going to be in it all of first grade!"  :-)  (Sorry, I forgot to take pictures)

Finally, we had our extra fun thing today and had one of our parents come in and do a science experiment with the first graders.  It was really cool!  They put a skittle in warm water and watched the S float off the skittle and to the top.  All of them were saying that they were going to go home and show their parents this one.

Needless to say it was an eventful day and I am tired, but I am also very excited and will have to get some extra energy because if you haven't heard, Teachers Pay Teachers is have a Spring Cleaning Sale!  YAY!!  So , I will have to do some shopping and then get some rest.  Don't forget to go check their sale out!  All of our items will be 20% off as well on March 29-31.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Wisdom for Wednesday-Praying for Strength

 We all know that life is full of disappointments and isn't easy.  So instead of praying for it to just be easy, we should pray for strength to make it through the tough things we face on a daily basis. 
These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world. John 16:33

Monday, March 24, 2014

Tate's Strategy

Okay, I admit, my title is kind of copying one of my favorite bloggy buddies, Tammy at:
Forever In First
 But this happened right after her Walter's Strategy post so...
The cool thing is that the two strategies really have absolutely nothing to do with one another...but both prove that the idea of letting your students share their strategies with one another can be more powerful than the teacher trying to teach the same exact thing.
Before I share Tate's Strategy, let me tell you how we got there.
We use Reading Street which means we have a main story every week. I have found reading the actual story during my Daily 5 groups has become nearly impossible (longer stories in 2nd grade = not enough time), so I have been reading it whole group on Mondays. Then I decided to try something a little different...
I printed out a page of questions that went along with the story, split the kiddos into groups, and assigned them tasks (i.e. questioner, recorder, leader, etc.). They read the story together and discussed it (thanks to my list of questions). Here's some pictures:

It was what happened afterwards that got me so excited...
Each story has a selection test (comprehension test) with two essay questions. I have been trying to teach my 2nd graders how to answer in a complete sentence, often explaining that it would be a good idea to start with part of the question.
On this particular day, I let them work together on the selection test.
That's when it happened.
I stumbled on Tate teaching his group his "strategy." He places a mark in the question after the question words so he knows where to start his answer...see below:

Of course, I was so excited about this great tip and projected it on the board for all to see. Then I had him explain his strategy to the class.
The best part was when I had kiddos say things like:
"Mrs. R, Tate's strategy is really helping me!"
"Now I get it, Mrs. R!"
Just a great reminder that sometimes as teachers we just need to get out of the way! Kids know how to talk to kids. They know how to help each other - often better than the teacher. I know there have been several times that I have thought to myself, I don't know how to explain it any simpler.
Been there?
Try letting a kiddo step in next time. I know I will after seeing Tate's Strategy work!
Okay, last thing...a little heart warmer:

P.S. Yes, I am still playing with the FrameMagic app. You should try it!

Friday, March 21, 2014

Thing 1 and Thing 2

We have been on Spring Break this week and I have to say that I have accomplished some things that I wanted to get done.  I did some spring cleaning in the house and realized that I shouldn't be waiting for Spring Break to do my spring cleaning!'s amazing how much dust can collect under things like your bed.  :-(  Anyways, it took forever, but it sure felt good when I got it done. 

Before Spring Break, we did a writing on Dr. Seuss Thing 1 and Thing 2. We read The Cat in the Hat by Dr. Seuss and discussed what it would be like to have Thing 1 and Thing 2 at your house.  Then the kids wrote what they would do with them if they showed up at their house.  When they finished they drew Thing 1 and Thing 2.  I found this cute and easy drawing at Kindergarten Hugs.  Here are a few of them:

Congratulations to Louise for winning $75 to WiseDecor! You should be receiving an e-mail from them shortly. :-)
I hope all of you have had a great week!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Wisdom for Wednesday - Humility

Good morning!
Today I am taking my 14-year-old son to take his written driving test so that he can get a learner's permit. Ack! He will be a freshman in HIGH SCHOOL next year...and my daughter is just one year behind him. Where has the time gone???
While I thought of finding a Wisdom quote to reflect how I'm feeling about that, I couldn't ignore what the Lord has been teaching me this week.
So here we go...

I've been studying my way through Isaiah the last few weeks, and I have been struck by the references to God's judgement of pride. It has been a reminder to me that pride is really at the root of sin.
That thought took me to a study I did by Jim Berg called Changed into His Image where I found today's quote. I also found my own attempt at defining humility. Here's a peek:
Humility is simply acknowledging the truth of my position as (man) woman and yielding to God His place.
I've been reflecting on these thoughts all week (and realizing I have a bit of work to do in this area of humility)...praying it gives you something to think about as well.
Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble.
1 Peter 5:5

P.S. Don't forget to enter our Wise Decor $75.00 Giveaway!

Monday, March 17, 2014

Charting Data = Student Motivation

Hi there! I'm still enjoying my spring break...headed to visit friends today. :-)
I thought I'd pop in to share something that has really sparked some fire in my readers.

Several weeks ago, I wanted to find a way for my kiddos to chart their own WCPM. I usually entered their data in an Excel spreadsheet which created a bar graph, but I knew the kids would benefit from seeing their chart more. I found this handy FREEBIE from A Peach for the Teach. It is a cold read/hot read fluency graph.
With the help of my awesome para, we have created a system that works wonderfully. Each kiddo has a folder with their name. The cold read/hot read graph is stapled on one side of the folder. For my struggling readers, I also included the sight word checklists from our Super Sight Word Packs on the other side of the folder. My para pulls the kiddos on Thursday or Friday of each week. They review the sight words (if needed) and then read their hot read (the one they have been practicing for the week) and the new cold read. The kids are practically crawling over the table to see how they have improved! Yippee!

I had a good time in Kansas City watching my Jayhawks... The loss on Friday was so sad I had to visit the Cheesecake Factory to make me feel better. Ha! No, really it is just awesome to watch games live and we had a great time with friends.
We also decided that we are horrible at taking selfies... :-/

Have a great day!

Thursday, March 13, 2014

WiseDecor Review and Giveaway!

Have you seen all the awesome decorative lettering all over Pinterest? I know I have!
That's why I was really excited to be contacted by WiseDecor Decorative Lettering to do a product review and giveaway on our blog.
The first thing I had to decide was whether I wanted a product for my home or my classroom. They have a huge selection of wall decals for the classroom, but I just don't have much wall space in my room.
It took me awhile to make up my mind (I'm pretty indecisive when it comes to decorating), but I ended up having this custom quote made.

I love it! It is hanging above the entrance from my dining room into my living room (a 5 foot opening).
The WiseDecor staff was very helpful in helping me determine the size of the lettering I would need for my space. It was also fun and easy to play around with the font, size, and color options on the website.
My house is mostly stucco (hubby was in the business for 10 years) so we knew we would need a smoother surface for the quote. I decided to make a distressed wood sign and used the same crackle technique (with Elmer's glue) I had done on the bathroom vanity. Take a look:

Preparing the board took the longest! When we sat down to install the decal, I couldn't believe how easy it was to do. Notice hubby actually doing the work. That is because I expected this process to take patience (and I have none), but it was so simple I probably could have handled it. ;-) The decal came with a detailed instruction sheet and a plastic squeegee. See the pics below:

Here's the best part... WiseDecor wants to give one of our readers a $75.00 gift certificate so you can personalize your own space. Hooray!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good luck!

Now click over to visit me at Luckeyfrog's Lilypad. I'm guest blogging for Jenny with a few terrific timesavers. See you there! :-)


Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Wisdom for Wednesday-Power of Words

Welcome to another week of:
I was listening to the Christian radio station the other day on my way to work and heard something that I thought was very powerful.  The lady was saying that all throughout school, she didn't really think she was very smart and just didn't apply herself to get good grades.  Then one day when she was a Freshman in high school, one of her teachers told her that she was very smart.  She said that this changed everything for her, she started to apply herself more and she got the best grades she had ever gotten.
I thought.....WOW!!!!   It just took 4 words and probably just a couple of seconds to say those words and they impacted her the rest of her life. Words can be so powerful and as teachers, we are in the position daily to be able to use powerful words with the kids.  Words that could impact them for the rest of their lives!
On a side note, Crystal mentioned that she is heading to the big 12, but she forgot an important thing in her last post:

Hope you have a great rest of the week!

Monday, March 10, 2014

Dr. Seuss Week and Countdown Until Spring Break!!!

First, let me tell you about a new blog I found (well, new to me) which led me to a new (to me) app - Frame Magic. I have been having a blast playing with it.
The blog is FlapJack Educational Resources. Lots of great techy information on there, including a new video series on how to make your photos look awesome...hence my new obsession with Frame Magic. Check out my first creation:
Last week, we celebrated Dr. Seuss week (remember I was "in charge" of our activities).
Monday was a SNOW DAY! Hip! Hip! Hooray! I enjoyed the day resting up for the rest of the week. Ha!
Tuesday was Crazy Socks Day. This was the best I could do...
Wednesday was Wacky, of course. The teachers and staff all dressed up as "Things." I loved the blue hair one of the para's found for all of us. :-)
Thursday was Pajama Day. You can never have too many pajama days, right?
Friday was Wear a T-Shirt with a Message Day, but I forgot to take a picture of myself. Nothing exciting though...just showing some school pride. I do have to show you a shirt I really, really want. It fits my coaching personality perfectly (and no, I wouldn't have worn it to school):
Anyway, Friday was also our Seuss rotations. We split our K-2 into five groups and rotated them through. Each teacher chose a book and had an activity to go along with it. I chose Bartholomew and the Oobleck and used this summary. Then we played in the oobleck...the picture above is me playing in it the night before. It was my first experience with oobleck, and I must confess I played with it for a good 30 minutes. :-)
Now the countdown is on! We have four days of school this week and staff development on Friday; however, I'm leaving right after school Wednesday and heading to the Big 12 basketball tournament. Rock Chalk! Go Hawks!

Enjoy your week - whether you're already on Spring Break or counting down the days!

Sunday, March 9, 2014


Well, we are getting ready to have our parent teacher conferences this coming week.  So, on Friday we had a work day which allowed us to work on grades and get ready for the conferences.  I had been working on getting everything ready beforehand so I got done a little early in the day with everything.  

I was so excited because I actually had some time to clean some stuff up and actually organize a little don't get too excited.....I didn't get everything done that I wanted to get done of course.  But, I did file away some stuff that I had wanted to file away from like August ok maybe November.  Now, my desk is clean with no stacks of papers etc.  Check it out!

I am so excited to walk in and see my clean desk first thing in the morning!  Now the question many minutes seconds will it stay clean?????  

Have a great week!

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Wisdom for Wednesday - Gratitude

Hi there! I hope you're having a great week!
I'm in the middle of Seussville activities...makes me think of this pin:
And this pin makes me think of Kristi. Ha!
We are so alike in this way!
Anyway, glad you joined me for today's:


I'm loving this reminder to be grateful this week and this quote makes it sound so simple. A joyful and prayerful person cannot help but be a grateful person.
Reminds me of some verses from my family's theme for the year. :-)
Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice.
Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand.
Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.
Philippians 4:4-6

Sunday, March 2, 2014

TPT Finds, Rainbow Editing and the BEST Folders

I had to get in on this fun linky over at Blog Hoppin' to show what I picked up at the TPT sale. I'm pretty excited about my finds. Unfortunately, as I'm checking out the linky I'm finding more things to put on my wish list! Ha!
So take a look:

Can you tell I'm thinking about taking the leap into interactive notebooks next year?
It's all because of these Grammar Flippers that I got this summer as a freebie from Teacher's Clubhouse. (I'm sorry, but I don't think they are a freebie--or for sale--anymore--can't seem to find them.) I've been using them all year long with our grammar skill for the week. We do them and the kids take them home never to be seen again...and that grammar skill (unfortunately) is forgotten or confused with the next thing... So I had this bright idea that next year, I could use them in an interactive notebook that the kids (and I) could refer back to as needed.
Anyway, these Interactive Science Journals (bundled) by Primary Graffiti have been on my list for awhile. I haven't had too much time to look them over yet, but I am so excited to use them next year!
The other one...2nd Grade Interactive Reading Notebook by Nicole Shelby seemed like the perfect choice to go along with my grammar notebooks. I'm planning to use them together in one notebook.
Okay, moving on to Listen Up! by Fluttering Through First Grade. I knew I wanted this as soon as I saw Christy and Tammy blog about it. My kids could definitely use some help in the area of listening skills! I'm going to try one (or two, or three, or four) next week. ;-)
And finally, Building Skills at Home Parent Handouts by Primary Junction. No need to wait for a sale on this one. It is only $1.00 regular price.
Now for a TPT find that I purchased awhile ago...
I finally got around to putting it to use and my only regret is that I didn't start sooner! We went through each color and looked through our most recent story as a whole class. Now I realize I should have had a story on chart paper and modeled it first, but I can definitely tell that it is going to help my kiddos check their over their own writing. And next week, I'll be modeling the rainbow edit on chart paper (duh, right?) as we go over it again.

One last thing...if you are looking for some folders that will hold up all year, you need to check out Nicky's Folders. The Teachers...Parents Communicator is perfect for a homework folder. I'm going to be using them in my GO Books next year. The intermediate school has been using them for years (since I was the secretary there). They are AMAZING!

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