Wednesday, August 5, 2015

A New Blog and a Giveaway!

You may have noticed that my blog has been quiet lately.  I have been busy as a bee working on designing a new blog!  And it's finally done!
I am now blogging at
I would love for you to head over there and check out the new blog design.  While you're there, make sure you enter the rafflecopter for a chance to win a $25 gift card to Teachers Pay Teachers!

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Currently August

Well, August has arrived, and back to school season is here.  I am linking up with Oh Boy 4th Grade to share what is Currently going on in my life!

 My vacation has been fun but hectic.  The result is that instead of that "I can't wait to get back to school" feeling that I normally get around now, I feel like I need a much longer vacation. 
I have been watching lots of Netflix, and I am loving all the back to school giveaways.  However none of that makes my classroom look any better. 


This is what just one corner of my classroom currently looks like.  And you don't even want to see the stuff I have piled on the student desks!  I have so much work to do!!
Thankfully our first day isn't until August 25th so I have some time still.  We have inservice for several days before that, and I think the other elementary teachers will appreciate some coffee and donuts one of those days!  Wouldn't you? 


Saturday, July 11, 2015

The Book Whisperer: Reading Freedom {Chp. 4}

In chapter 4 of the Book Whisperer, Donalyn shares with us how she gives her students reading freedom in her classroom.
Donalyn gives her students reading freedom by allowing them to choose their own books for the year.  Her students also help decide what books they will read together as a class, and they spend time talking about their choices and recommending books to friends and classmates.  Giving students the freedom to make their own reading choices allows them to grow as readers. Even if they choose books that are juvenile, or if they choose to stop reading a boring book, those students are discovering what they like about reading.  They are on their way to becoming lifelong readers.
Of course as teachers we also need to have some requirements for our students.  Donalyn requires her 6th graders each year to read 40 books across different genres.  She then keeps up with their reading through individual reader's notebooks and conferences with the students.  This format gives her students freedom of choice while still exposing them to different types of books through the genre requirements and recommendations that she gives.

While I had no problem last year letting my students choose their own independent reading books, I was not as successful in talking about those books with my students.  I gave them time to read, but didn't take time for individual conferences.  This year, I am planning on spending time with each student at least once a week to talk about the books they are reading.
I also had them start a reading notebook, but I had a hard time remembering to have them write in it consistently.  This year, I want to set aside 10-15 minutes every Friday for them to write in their reader's notebook.  This will give them time to write down books they have finished and write a short message to me about the books they are reading.  {Also, having this happen on Friday will give me the entire weekend to respond to their messages.}

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Independence Day Sale

I don't know about everyone else, but I have a busy day planned with my family and friends.  We are seeing a parade, grilling hamburgers, and possibly doing our own fireworks at night.  {We will see how that goes!}

And to share the fun and celebration with all of you, I am throwing a sale in my TeachersPayTeachers store. Everything is 20% off for all of Saturday and Sunday. 

While you may not want to think about going back to school yet, now would be a great time to get some great products at great prices.

I also have some special deals going on for this weekend!

This back to school task card product is an $8 value which includes 4 different products.  During this sale, I have marked the bundle down to only $4. This is exactly what you need to review telling time at the beginning of the school year!

If you are thinking about something different to use for classroom rewards next year, your students will love earning reward coupons.  These colorful rewards are normally $2, but I have marked them down to only $1 for this sale.  You can read more about how I use reward coupons in my classroom here. {I also have the same reward coupons in polka-dots, and those are discounted as well.}

These fall themed addition and subtraction task cards will be perfect for back to school this year.  I have marked down the price from the normal $4 to only $2 for each set.  

I know I am not the only teacher having a sale this weekend.  If you want some other great stores to shop at/follow, Buzzing with Mrs. McClain is hosting a linky of stores with sales!

Friday, July 3, 2015

Five for Friday: Summer!!

I realized today that I haven't linked up with Doodlebugs Teaching for Five for Friday in a long time.  

Of course, it is summer vacation, and I pretty much spend every week doing the exact same things.  I thought I would share those with you today.

 Most of my summer days are filled with watching my son play with his cousins outside.  My sister and her family are visiting so we have been having lots of fun family time.

And that fun always has to include trips to the beach and ice cream cones!

My son turned 8 on Sunday so we had a little party for him after church.  I can't believe how fast he is growing up.  

By the way, if you ever need an amazing present, I would definitely recommend Snap Circuits.  My son loved this building the different projects in this boxed set, and I loved that he was learning about how electrical components affect the electricity flow!

I have been struggling with what I thought was an eye infection. I went to a clinic at first and got drops for the eye infection.  After a week of using the drops and not getting better, I went back to my own eye doctor.  Come to find out, it was an eye inflammation instead which means the drops were not working at all.  New drops, another week, and my eye is finally starting to feel better.

As you can see in the picture above, I have had to wear my glasses for close to 2 straight weeks now.  I absolutely HATE my glasses!  They drive me crazy. I am so looking forward to being able to wear my contacts again!

While I have been having lots of fun this summer, I have been working a little on school related things.  I have been reading and participating in a book study about the Book Whisperer by Donalyn Miller. 

I have also been doing little bits of things here and there in my classroom.  Our textbook order came in a few weeks ago so I sorted through that and organized the books by grade level.  I also unloaded almost everything that I bought from IKEA into my classroom.  {I didn't put it away, but at least it's not in my car anymore, right?}

I have also been participating in the #tptsellerchallenge.  It has really been pushing me to keep working on TpT things this summer.  I am almost done with my Fall Time Task Card Bundle.  I hope to have it finished and edited by Monday.  Once it's done, I will be giving away one copy on my blog {either Monday or Tuesday}.  You can follow my blog or Instagram to find out when it's happening!

We also have a big day planned for the 4th of July tomorrow! {I know this hasn't happened yet, but I am excited!}  We are taking all the kids to a parade in the morning. Then having a burger making extravaganza with friends in the afternoon.  All different kinds of burgers, toppings, and add-ons along with corn on the cob and homemade fries - So delicious!  I hope you all enjoy your weekend as much as I plan to enjoy mine!

Be sure to head over to Doodlebugs Teaching to read some other Five for Friday posts.


Saturday, June 27, 2015

Dare to Dream {TpT Seller Challenge - Week 2}

Well, I must say that this seller challenge has certainly inspired me with both my TpT store and my blog.  I am still working on making over ALL my products, but I think that will be a long, ongoing process.

This week's theme was Dare to Dream.  I have been thinking off and on all week about my dreams for my business.  To be honest, when I started blogging and creating products, I didn't have any huge dreams or plans.  I was only blogging and creating as a way to relieve stress.  I found the whole process fun and exciting.

But as I have worked harder on my store, seen the success stories of other teachers, and started earning small amounts of money myself, I have been thinking more about what I would do with the extra money.  

I do have some major things that I wish I could afford right now - a house and a working car are the two big ones.  {My car right now is old, needs lots of work, and has no air conditioning!}  I also would love to be able to save for retirement in the future. 

Really though, any money I earn is just a bonus.  I have other dreams for my blogging adventure as well.

I love being able to meet and learn from other teachers around the world.  Hearing them be passionate about their classrooms and what they are teaching, inspires me to be growing and improving as a teacher as well. 

I recently went to my first blogger meet-up this past spring.  I was unbelievably nervous, but it was so much fun.  I made new friends, and put faces to some of the names of blogs and stores that I was already reading and following.

Every year, I read about the fun other bloggers had at the TpT convention in Vegas.  I keep telling myself that one year I will be able to afford to go.  It's definitely a dream that I have for the future!

Friday, June 26, 2015

The Book Whisperer: There's a Time and a Place {Chp. 3}

In chapter 3 of The Book Whisperer, Donalyn emphasizes the fact that we need to provide students with a time and a place to read independently. If we as teachers honestly believe that reading is important, then we should show students that by giving them the chance to read in class.

Donalyn also points out that we can spend all day long on reading instruction, but if we don't give students the opportunity to actually read, then they will never grow to be better readers.  Only a regular time for reading will make our students improve as readers.

There are many small moments during the school day when students can be taught to get our their book and read.  During classroom interruptions, before school or class starts, when a student finishes work early, and any other time a student has to wait are perfect opportunities for your students to dive into their books.  We should teach our students use every moment as a chance to read even a page or two.  Those small moments during the day can add up quickly.

Making our classroom a place for students to read is more than just setting up a special reading corner.  Instead it involves making your classroom a place where students are comfortable talking about books with each other.  It means reminding students that they can read anywhere they are. {My students last year loved reading under their desks.  It seemed like such a treat to them!}

I tried last year to give my students more times to read independently.  However, I was not great in teaching my students to read during those small moments.  Instead of having my students keep a novel in their book box, I am going to try having them keep one close to them during the day.  I am going to encourage them to read every time they get a chance this year.  

I will usually let my students sit wherever they want during reading time.  I would like to get some more comfortable seating for them though.  Not all students like to sit on the floor to read!

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Makeover Madness {TpT Seller Challenge - Week 1}

If you have been on social media at all this week, you may have already seen or heard about the #TpTsellerchallenge happening right now.  For the next four weeks, a huge group of teachers are being challenged to complete different projects in their stores.  

Week 1 was Makeover Madness, and the challenge was to choose at least one product to makeover.


I had no difficult choosing which products to redo. {In fact, I have a whole list of older products that need redone.  It's amazing how much you learn even in just six months or so.}

So far this week, I have completely updated 3 of my products.

All three products needed some drastic help.  I used frames, fonts, and clipart that I liked better for the covers.  Not only that, but I also updated the task cards as well.  I resized the task cards to be a little larger (easier for little hands to work with).

My makeover tasks are not complete though.  I realized that many of my earlier products didn't even have my store name or logo anywhere on them!  I am in the process of going through all my products and adding my logo and store name, a recommendation page, and links to similar products in the description.  It is a very time consuming process, but it definitely needs to be done.

One of the things that I appreciate most about this challenge is the chance to learn from some amazing sellers.  Of course, it has given me even more to work on though.  For example, I learned that saving my products as a PDF is not enough to make the clipart secure (which is what most artist's Terms of Use requires).  It needs to be a SECURE PDF. So I am also going back and securing all my products correctly before uploading them again.

I am certainly having fun updating all my products though. (Good thing I like this, right?)  All 3 of the products above are on sale for $1 until Saturday in my TpT store.  I am also going to be putting more items on sale as I update them throughout the summer.  I will be posting sale items on my Facebook page.  You can follow it to hear about new sale items and freebies!

Thanks especially to the following bloggers for hosting this amazing challenge!

Peppy Zesty TeacheristaTeach Create Motivate
Sparkling in SecondThird in Hollywood

The Book Whisperer: Everybody is a Reader {Chp. 2}

Well, I missed linking up for the first chapter of Donalyn Miller's amazing book The Book Whisperer.  {I spent all of last Thursday driving home from our family vacation.}

I absolutely love this book though.  I read it last summer, and it gave me the incentive to completely change my reading classes.  I am so excited to be reading it again this summer.

I love reading, and as a teacher, it was hard for me in the past to understand why students would not like to read.  It is so much more freeing as a teacher to start from the basis that every child is a reader.  Instead of then struggling to try to make children readers, I can spend my efforts finding books that the students will enjoy instead.

Donalyn identifies three types of readers in this chapter: developing readers, dormant readers, and underground readers.

Moving away from a traditional reading curriculum {basal readers, whole class reading units, book quizzes and tests} is a scary step for most teachers.  I will admit that when I started giving my students more choice and independent reading time last year, I was nervous.  I was nervous about what other teachers and even the parents would say.  I switched from long reading lessons to mini lessons with interactive notebooks and then free reading time.

I'm not going to say that everything went completely smoothly last year.  There are definitely things that I need to work on.  I need to do a better job finding high interest books for my developing readers. {Even if that means trips to the library every weekend to supplement my class library.}  I need to do more to support my developing readers so they can feel success.  I also need to give my students more time to talk about the books they are reading with each other. 

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Tell All Tuesday: Summer Snapshot

I am linking up for Tell All Tuesday - a fun summer linky hosted by Teach, Talk, Inspire and My Day in K!

This week's topic is Summer Snapshot!

 There is one summer activity that I look forward to every year.  Every year, my family and my in-laws spend a week at Myrtle Beach, SC.  We go right after my son and I get out of school.  I love the fact that the beach is still relatively uncrowded because it is so early in the season.

We lather on sunscreen every morning, cart all of our chairs, umbrella, and beach toys down to the beach, and spend all day outside.  My son plays in the sand and water while I spend most of my time reading.  

 It is so relaxing after a long school year to read in the sunshine and listen to the waves.  This year we took my son to Broadway on the Beach to ride Go-Karts.  It was his first time even being in a go-kart, but they let him drive one anyway.  I was a little lot nervous at first because he could barely see over the steering wheel.  I felt better when I realized how slow he was driving. {I think he was having a hard time reaching the pedals too.}  He had a blast!

 Doesn't he look so small?
Going to Myrtle Beach is one of the things that I look forward to every year, especially during the long, cold New England winter!