Wednesday, September 13, 2017

"Make Your Mark and See Where it Takes You" with International Dot Day

September 15th-ish was declared Dot Day by one teacher after reading The Dot, by Peter Reynolds. The Dot is a small picture book with an inspiring theme to persevere when things get tough.

The Dot tells the story of a caring teacher who reaches a reluctant student in a remarkably creative way. The teacher dare's Vashti, the student, to "make her mark." Vasti's breakthrough begins with a simple dot on a piece of paper.  Encouraged by her teacher she sets off on a journey of self-discovery, letting her creativity bloom and, ultimately, inspire others. (Dot Day Manuel)

Dot Day was declared by teacher Terry Shay in 2009 and quickly spread across the world. This year there are more than 9 million kids celebrating Dot Day in 169 countries. To become part of the movement visit the International Dot Day sight.

Since I am teaching a STEAM class, I get to celebrate Dot Day everyday this week. Here are a few pictures.

Watch the animated poem below by Peter Reynolds as a tribute to teachers and their vital role in nurturing the learning spirit in every child.

Monday, September 11, 2017

School Has Started: Full Steam Ahead and Don't Forget the Giveaway

Yep! Another year has begun and it is already quite busy.  I have joined with other teachers to provide a giveaway. This week we are featuring a gift card from Walmart.

Prize: $50 Wal-Mart Gift Card

Giveaway organized by: Kelly Malloy (An Apple for the Teacher)
Rules: Use the Rafflecopter form to enter.  Giveaway ends 9/15/17 and is open worldwide.

Are you a blogger who wants to participate in giveaways like these to grow your blog?  Click here to find out how you can join a totally awesome group of bloggers! 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Every kid needs a champion | Rita Pierson

I just finished my first week of school and I watched this inspiring video clip which was shared by a colleague. I wish all people could see education from this perspective.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Who Wants $75 to Spend at Teachers Pay Teachers?

I'd always have to say "Me!" That's why I have joined with some incredible teachers to make this giveaway possible for some lucky teacher. Join the fun and join the rafflecopter.

Prize: $75 Teachers Pay Teachers Gift Card

Rules: Use the Rafflecopter to enter.  Giveaway ends 8/13/17 and is open worldwide.
Are you a Teacher Blogger or Teachers pay Teachers seller who wants to participate in giveaways like these to grow your store and social media?  Click here to find out how you can join our totally awesome group of bloggers! 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

There is a giveaway every week, so enter them all to make sure you win! Remember to Scroll down, because there are more giveaways that you can enter.

Friday, August 4, 2017

How Do Teachers Celebrate Back-to-School?

It's Easy! We buy cool stuff for our class, and it is extra fun when we win gift cards. Here is one Gift Card Giveaway that you do not want to miss.

I have teamed up with some amazing teachers for this giveaway because we always need to purchase things at the beginning of the school year, and giveaways are just plain fun.

Rules: Use the Rafflecopter form to enter. Giveaway ends 8/11/17 and is open worldwide.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Scroll down more to another giveaway 

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

TpT Delivers Dollar Deals for Classroom Set-Up

It's that time of year again when teachers return to the classroom to set up their class for the new year.
With New ideas and a summer full of planning teachers can get great deals from TpT on their Back-to-School Sale.

The sale runs August 1 & 2.  I discount every product 20% in my store and TpT will take off another 5% for a total of  25% savings on your favorite products. I usually go through my wish list and pick out what I want to purchase.

Don't forget to use the promo code: BTS2017

I have listed a few of my best sellers below that you might be interested in.
This is my students' all time favorite STEM activity. I do it on the first day of school and when they reflect at the end of the year, this is the one they name as their favorite memory.
Dr. Seuss: A Play about the Sneetches
There is such a great lesson in this play. My students add speaking lines where they see fit. 

This powerpoint makes learning about our government very easy. It is editable, so you can add your state and local information.

My students need help with constructing a quality answer, so I have created posters to help guide them in writing out complete answers using R.A.C.E

Task cards are provided for each student as well as a foldable for their interactive notebooks.

It's Time for a Giveaway

a Rafflecopter giveaway

What's your favorite subject to teach?

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Take-aways from TpT Conference

I just experienced my first Teachers Pay Teachers conference.  This year it was held in Anaheim, CA (next year it's Nashville-- and yes! I'm going).  It was an amazing adventure.  My goal in writing this post is to give you a newbie's perspective on the conference so you can decide it you would like to attend the conference in Nashville next summer.

When you first arrived, they had people ready to greet and wlecome you.  Many teachers, like myself, went to the conference by myself.  Without colleagues.  Even though we were "on our own" we were not alone, because no matter where you turned there was someone to talk to.  This welcoming and friendly atmosphere continued throughout the three-day conference. 
There was an Introduction networking session, even before the Opening Session which provided the opportunity to connect with other Teacher Sellers in your region of the US.  Don't worry, there was meeting spot for Canadians, Europeans, and Australians that mixed in with US residents.
Using the fun little mixture game, we all walked around and introduced ourselves.  It was a uniquie networking opportunity which inspired me as a teacher.  I met hundreds of passionately dedicated educators who love to create and work throughout their summer to provide a quality school experience for their students.  These teachers are building a business because they believe in American education and what we do as teachers each year in the classroom.

During the opening session we learned about Teachers Pay Teachers from the company perspective.
It was announed that TpT has 2.7 million resources and that there are 4 million active users downloading products from TpT.

I have 3 take-aways from this conference that I want to incorporate into my classroom and my store.

1. Posting Tips

  • Use a square picture
  • Eye catching picture
  • Descriptive Title
  • Snippet:  First 3 lines of the description (the snippet) should not be redundant with the title. Use these three lines to clearly describe your product.  Use key words.
  • Use social media to promote your products - Pinterest, Facebook, and Instagram 
  • (videos are best)

2. QR Codes

I have been interested in using QR codes because I know they have a lot of value.  One of the sessions I attended was all about QR codes and how to use them in the classroom
The coolest thing about this session (besides the fantastic information) was that we were given a teacher center to learn how to use QR codes.

I'll be using this center later today to learn how to use QR codes in my classroom, and then I'll create my first QR lesson.

3. Video

Video is the new "Hot Option"  

Videos on Facebook get a higher rating and view rate than a picture.  So we need to create videos.  The two ways that I'm going to begin with are PowerPoint and PicMonkey.

 I lost my notes on PowerPoint, but luckily, I a very familiar with it, so I can still create from it.
 PicMonkey is new to me, but it seems to work very similar to PowerPoint.  It is a program that you have to purchase, and because I attended the conference I will get two months free to give it a try.

So who is ready to join me next year?  If you were at the conference, I would love to hear from you.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Christmas In July Dollar Days are Here!

I'm joining in with other teachers for the Christmas In July Dollar Days at Teachers Pay Teachers.
Many of us are getting ready for school, so dollar deals provides the perfect time to save.  I just found out about the Christmas In July deals this morning when I opened some email.  Well, I love a good deal so I joined a number of other shops with the Hashtag sale #ChristmasInJuly.  In addition, many of my store items will be 20% off July 27-30.  This is the time to stock up and save! Here are my dollar deals. Just click on the picture to go to the product.

Just Click on the Picture

Beach Themed Classroom Jobs: A Lesson in Leadership #ChristmasInJuly
I love helping students build leadership skills, and the classroom jobs does just that. Students hold on to a job for a month. They do get paid each week with classroom economy money that they collect and hold onto for buying a spot in monthly beach parties. They can also purchase classroom materials such like markers, pencils, crayons and the like.

#ChristmasInJuly  ~ STEM Project ~ Engineering Team Towers
This is such a fun STEM project that incorporates engineering and math. It lends itself to multiple attempts which helps build stamina.

This is a great way to ease into writing.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Three Easy Ways to Develop Focus and Meaning in Writing (Goal 4)

Welcome to our book study of The Writing Strateies Book: Your Everything Guide to Developing Skilled Writers by Jennifer Serravallo.  I'm joining forces with some fabulous teacher bloggers, hosted by An Apple for the Teacher, to discuss the writing strategies we come across in this AMAZING professional text!

Because this book isn't your typical professional development book filled with individual "Chapters" of narrative, each teacher blogger will be giving you a glimpse into the 10 goals that are preresented in the text.  Each goal area is filled with many valauable strategies that will help you to support and guide your students as they become better writers.

Keep in mind, we are only highlighting a FEW strategies in each section. There are over 300 strategie in the whole book.

You can find my previous Book Study posts below:
Introduction to 300 Writing Strategies

Goal 1:  Composing With Pictures

Goal 2:  Engagement

Goal 3:  Generating and Collecting Ideas

"Readers usually expect that a piece of writing is about something and that the author communicates a point." states Jennifer Serravallo.  Jennifer provides 25 strategies that teachers can use with students to help them focus their writing.  Here are three of them:
Write a Title
Write a title can be used in any genre or text type and it works well with 2nd to 8th graders.  It also helps students generate, collect, choose and develop their writing.  I choose this strategy because I sometimes have a difficult time with titles.  I usually wait until the end to decide what to title a piece. 

Teaching Tip:  The teaching tip recommends this strategy at the beginning of the writing to help students focus their writing.

Teaching Tip:  Murray (1985) shares qualities of good titles to help them think beyond the obvious.

  • Play with the title
  • Take out some words
  • Use thesaurus to find better words to use
  • Rearrange the words

Write About a Pebble
This strategy is also for 2ne-8th graders in any genre.  This strategy helps students generate and collect ideas as well as revising a piece of writing.

Lesson LanguageDon't write about your trip to the mountains, write about an activity that you did while you were in the mountains. Observe your surroundings and write with details that help the readers feel like they are there with you.

Mentor Text:  Find a mentor text to provide examples.  I am going to use The Adventures of Tom Sawyer  for a fiction source, and Up Close Pirates for non-fiction from Storia.

Ask Questions to Focus

Lesson Language:
If you are trying to cover too much about your topic, you can ask yourself questions to help you focus.
  • What are you really trying to say?
  • What is the most important thing about your topic?
  • What questions can you ask yourself to narrow your topic?
  • What are you going to work on to change, add, or revise your writing after you ask yourself questions?
Mentor Texts:
This is another good area to use mentor texts.  Choose a general topic, and note how the author breaks up his ideas into chapters or sections of the book.  Here is an example from Storia

An InLinkz Link-up

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Spotlight on Writing Strategies - Goal 3: Generating & Collecting Ideas

Welcome to our book study of The Writing Strateies Book: Your Everything Guide to Developing Skilled Writers by Jennifer Serravallo.  I'm joining forces with some fabulous teacher bloggers, hosted by An Apple for the Teacher, to discuss the writing strategies we come across in this AMAZING professional text!

Because this book isn't your typical professional development book filled with individual "Chapters" of narrative, each teacher blogger will be giving you a glimpse into the 10 goals that are preresented in the text.  Each goal area is filled with many valauable strategies that will help you to support and guide your students as they become better writers.

Keep in mind, we are only highlighting a FEW strategies in each section. There are over 300 strategie in the whole book.

You can find my previous Book Study posts below:
Introduction to 300 Writing Strategies

Goal 1:  Composing With Pictures

Goal 3:  Generating & Collecting Ideas
As an elementary student, I remember the frustration I felt when it was time to write.  I had no idea what to write about or how to make a given topic interesting.

I wish I had had a teacher to show me how to collect ideas.  Now that I'm a teacher, I think it is fun to gather ideas about writing because I'm interested in so many things.  I wish I had known back in grade school that collecting writing ideas was so easy.

As a child growing up in a foster home, I didn't know much about anything, and my memories at the time were not ones I usually liked to think about, so I needed guidance.  Many of my students today also need guidance.

The strategies in this chapter will help young writers "develop an awareness of their surroundings and an ability to be keen oberservers" (Serravallo 2017 pg.90).  

It is important to have some kind of journal to keep a record of your ideas, or an idea bank.  I use Interactive notebooks, and a writing journal.

Last year I had students take their writing journal and decorate it.  

Here is a copy of mine.
I have been using my writing journal this summer to keep my thought and notes about the books I am reading.

I have a FREE Writing Label for your Interactive Journal.
Grab it HERE or click on the picture.

I also have a really cool Growing Bundle.   If you do a lot of Interactive Journals, you might be interested in checking into this Bundle.

Here are three strategies to help students generate and collect ideas:

Important People

I have to start with Important People because I have some important people in my life that I still want to write about.  Simply tell students to make a list of people who matter the most to you.  List some of the memories you have with these people.

After a list is made you could have them choose one of the people to write about, or you have them think about that person in another setting, or even another time in history.  What challenges would that person have?  This would be a fun activity after studying the Revolutionary War, or Explorers.

In planning for next year, I set up my mini lesson, and I'd like to share it with you.  It will be free for a little awhile, so don't wait to grab it.

The hardest part of the writing lesson for me is trying to write out a decent example, so I have done it ahead of time.  I could spend days on writing about people, but I'll watch my students and see how much time they need. 

I haven't decided if I am going to do this in a foldable form with my students or just have them create a T-chart and do the writing.  I am leaning toward the T-chart and writing.  After they have done a few writings, they could choose their favorite writing to publish in this foldable.

Mine Mentor Texts for Topics

I'll do this one with one of the books I like, and then I'll have the students choose their own books that they love. The cool thing is that I can use this strategy with much of the reading we do in class. We want to choose good writing topics like authors do. At the moment I'm thinking about The Dot by Peter Reynolds.

I can relate to thinking I was not good at something.  I couldn't play sports, because I am not coordinated.  My cousins help me discover that I could make up games for us to play, because I was creative.  The cousins and neighborhood kids all joined in the fun of playing the games I made up.  As adults we have gotten together and I've been reminded of the many many unique games that we played, so being on a sports team just didn't matter. 
If you don't have access to the book, you can also have the story read on You Tube.

  • What ideas can you connect to?
  • What topics in this story do you know a lot about?
  • What topics do you want to learn about?

Before we move on to the final strategy I need to mention International Dot Day.  Did you know that there is an International Dot Day and that you can be part of it?  To find out more, just click on the links provided, or Visit my Web Page.

Tour Your Home

I cannot wait to do this one, because I literally went back to tour one of my childhood homes.  My sister heard that the Kaylors, the people who bought our house was selling it, so she made an appointment to see the house.  I actually took pictures when we visited.  We had such fun revisiting.

This was an amazing 3-story home with 28 huge rooms.  I have many fond memories.  I haven't written a book about it yet, but I have made an awesome scrapbook.  I took some pictures with my camera to post.  They don't do the house justice, but I have my memories and I need to write them down.  Here are a few pictures.

 I took pictures with the plastic covers on, and I'll need to remove the plastic, and redo them.

This 3 story mini-mansion was an amazing home, with so many memories.

 The desk here in the main entry hall used to be in the library.
Before that it was actually a grand piano.

As a child, when we squabbled, we had to sit on the stairs.  I always got the front stairs, while my sister Dolly always got the back stairs.  In those days, there was carpet on the front stairs, so I always got the better deal.
There are stories about every room in the house.  I hope to share a few with my students, and then take the time to actually write them  down.

Even the light on the stairs, has special memories.  My most special memory has me standing by the light as a scrawny and probably scared looking ten year old.  

It was my first day at the house.  I had been shown my room and I was coming down the stairs.  I stopped and looked around because I didn't know what I wanted to do or where I should even go.  I was a little nervous, but I was also amazed at how beautiful, big, and pristine my new home was.  It was so different than what I was used to.  

While standing there, The sweetest old white-haired man walked up to me and started talking to me.  I asked him who he was and he smiled as he put his hand on his the side of his face and said, "I'm your new Dad."  

Every time I look at this picture I smile because I see my 10 year old self there with Dad smiling at me.  You see Mom and Dad opened their home and hearts to many children who needed a new start.  It was a new beginning for me, and one that I am so very thankful for.

I give credit to my great math skills to game playing.  We spent many hours play games like Monoply, Clue, Gin Rummy, Yatzee, Kizmet, and so many  more.

 This is the library.  Two walls were completely covered with built-in book cases.  The black paint is still as glossy as the day I moved in.  It is original paint from over 100 years ago.  This is also the original wall paper.  The three stained glass windows depict the Nina, the Pinta, and the Santa Maria, which were used by Christopher Columbus to travel to China.  Of course he never reached China.  Instead he reached the Bahamas.

Of course we had to sit at the piano where we spent countless hours practicing (and watching the clock as we practiced).  At the time we lived in the house the piano was actually in the second living room, since the TV was in the library.

The informal dining room had been turned into a sitting room.  When we lived here, we had a huge table that could seat 20 people.  That table was often filled with visitors.  One of my jobs was to set the table each evening for dinner. Setting the table and clearing the table were big jobs when the table was full, but everyone had jobs because we were all part of the family.

My next step is to redo some of these pictures of the house, finish taking pictures of my phote album, and prepare a presentation lesson.  This mini lesson will probably be with Screen Castify.  I need practice using this app, so I can teach my students to use it with some of their projects.

Okay, back to the "Tour Your Home Lesson" Here are the prompts I plan to use.
  • What do you see?
  • What are some favorite memories
  • Imagine the stories that would come up in that place
  • Jot down some story ideas
  • Move to a new spot (do the same thing)
What are some of your favorite beginning of the year writing prompts?  I'd love to hear about them. To find out more strategies by other teachers CLICK HERE.