Sunday, June 29, 2014

For the DIY teacher!

Hello!  It is me, Hilary from Second Grade is Out of This World!
I don't know about you, but when I want to do something in my classroom, I want to do it NOW!  I hate waiting around for someone else to have time to do it.  Enter:  The Teacher Toolbox.  Now, it is absolutely nothing fancy, and please don't think that I am allowed to alter my classroom willy-nilly, but there are times when I need something fixed that I know I am capable of fixing myself.  So, here is what I have, like I said, nothing fancy:
I have a multi-head screw driver (I got it in the dollar spot at Target), a hammer (old one of hubba's), an allen wrench, and some zip ties. 
I also store a lint roller, deodorant, and some body spray (you never know when these items come in handy).
I store them in a tub in my teacher cabinet.  

Thanks so much for stopping by and reading!  You can always visit me at my blog:

Friday, June 27, 2014

Summer Reads

Ahh, summer.  Summer is the time for teachers to catch up on all the things that get pushed to the side during the school year.  For me, one of those things that gets pushed aside is Reading For Fun.  I do read for fun during the school year, but it takes so long to finish one book.  About the only time I have to read during the school year is once I go to bed.  Well, you can imagine how that goes...  After about two pages I fall asleep, and need to reread one of those pages the next night.  I've been out of school for less than twenty days and have already read FOUR WHOLE BOOKS!  I went to the library today and checked out another four.  I am so excited! 

My favorite summer hangout ~ my front porch!  The bird feeders are blocking the view of the awesome rocking chairs.  Click HERE to read about one of my lazy summer days.

My summer reading list thus far:

Product DetailsStay by Emily Goodwin (my daughter)  MY daughter ~ yes, my daughter!! wrote this book!  This is the current ranking (as of 6/24/14): #87 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Literature & Fiction > Women's Fiction > Mystery, Thriller & Suspense  YAY!  It is a gripping tale of a young woman who is kidnapped and forced into human trafficking. 

Product DetailsWedding Night by Sophie Kinsella  This is another hit by one of my favorite authors.  Sophie Kinsella's writing makes me laugh out loud. 

Product DetailsAntiques Con by Barbara Allan  This is the first book in this series I've read.  It was a fun & fast front porch mystery read.

Product DetailsAlice's Tulips by Sandra Dallas  I usually don't read historical novels, but I do enjoy Sandra Dallas's books.  This book is told through letters written by Alice, a young wife of a Civil War soldier. 

I'm currently reading something schoolish, but do have something in queue for when I finish.

Product DetailsCurrent read

Product DetailsNext up!

What are you reading?

Kinder Doodles

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Nonfiction Finds for the Upper Grades

Hi friends! It's Christy from Teaching Tales Along the Yellow Brick Road. I hope you are enjoying your summer break, I know mine is flying by faster than I care to admit at times!

This summer has been busy, but I have found some time to look around for new ideas in the coming school year. One goal, is to incorporate nonfiction more purposefully into the school day. I'm sharing a few of the resources I've found so far (some were tried last year), and I would love to hear of any resources you have utilized before too!

1. Dogo News. Free nonfiction articles for kids, a website started in 2009 by a parent has grown exponentially. The content is kid friendly and engagement. Content is updated regularly too.

2. Erin, shared about Achieve3000 last year and I utilized it several times throughout the year. I was able to access the articles for free using the username and password "CommonCore.Teacher" if you purchase an account, you could assign articles to students, but I made the free version work for me. The best part of this site? You can differentiate! Each article is offered at various lexile leves so that you can give students an article at the level they need!

3. ThinkCera. Another nonfiction article source with some really fun features. The articles are offered at several lexile levels as well as having an audio option! I have several students that need that accommodation, and it's great to be able to access that option straight from the website. With a built in dictionary and the ability for me to add response questions, this site is going to be great I think!

Where else can nonfiction articles be found? 

I hope this gives you a start in some nonfiction finds for your classroom. Again, if you have other go-to sites, please leave a comment below!

{P.S. Be sure to stop by my blog in the next could of weeks. Celebrating 1,000 followers soon!}

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Tips for using Vistaprint in the Classroom

Happy Summer from Texas.  I'm Deniece from This Little Piggy Reads.  As you read this, I'm at a waterpark with a couple of friends and their kiddos.  I hope it's sunny and not rainy!
Last year I decided to be creative & choose a unique classroom theme - mermaids (click here to see the final product).  Well, the good part is that no else had it.  The bad part was that I had to create an entire classroom from scratch - I couldn't just grab something at the Teacher Store.  If I wanted it, I had to make it.  So, I got to work in JUNE.  In July I found a Groupon for $75 at Vistaprint for only $17!  What a deal!!  I ended up spending an extra $25 because I decided I'd rather have $25 worth of product than spend $22 on shipping.  SCORE!  I knew I had to get busy making things to match my theme.  Thanks to Erin from Lovin' Lit, I had a color scheme and amazing coordinating papers.  

Some of the things I got were...
A vinyl banner that hangs outside my classroom door.  I uploaded my own design that I created in .ppt.

 This is a set of address labels.  The plan was to put them into my students' agendas when their behavior needed adjustment.

These are both little stamps.  Looking back, I would only put 1-2 words on each stamp or I'd get a bigger stamp.

This is another set of address labels.  I planned to put it into the student's agenda to let parents know that their child had missing homework.  
Two years ago, I ordered magnets that had our reading strategies for our state test on them.  Parents and students loved these!  I worked on a team of 3 departmentalized teachers (each of us taught a different subject to the same 65 students).  I ordered a business card with each of our contact e-mails & our prep times.  We stapled it into the students' agenda at the beginning of the year.  This gave parents quick access to all of our contact info.    

Have you ever used Vistaprint for your classroom?  Happy Summer!  

Monday, June 23, 2014

QR Codes: Black, White and Boring!

I just returned from Galveston, TX where I presented a session on how to incorporate QR codes into learning stations to make them fun and engaging but educational at the same time.

It was evident by the size of the audience in my session and the comments from teachers and administrators that there is still lots of interest in QR codes despite the fact that they have been around for years now. Why? Because although they are common place to me, that is not the case everywhere.

When I first came across QR codes I thought, "Black, white and boring!" Aesthetically there really is not much of a "wow" factor.

It was not until two years ago, when I learned how to link QR codes to audio that I began to get interested in them.  Having worked with preschool aged students for many years, my mind raced with possibilities for incorporating them into stations.

Soon I discovered how to link QR codes to images and by then I was hooked on them.

There are two types of people reading this right now, those who have used QR codes with their students and those who have not.  Regardless of where you land, I hope to share with you new and creative ways you can utilize QR codes with your students.

The following are FREE QR code activities that span a variety of subjects and grade levels.

If you are interested in even more ideas, you can follow this QR Code Pinterest board.

What to learn more? Here is a website I created to get you started. 

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Shhhhhhh! Time for Peace & Quiet!

Who's excited it's {finally!} summer? Me! Me! Me! I am SO grateful that it's officially summer! The weather's warmer, responsibilities are a little more relaxed and I have so much more time to catch up on life and tackle my {never ending!} to-do list!

One of the most helpful tools I created from last year's to-do list was a Noise Meter. I'd seen the Noise-o-Meter on a couple of different posts and thought I'd try to make my own!  

I'm from the school that First Graders need socialize while they work.  However, let's be realistic...every teacher needs some peace and quiet occasionally! Can I get an AMEN!? 

Here's my version of the Noise Meter. 
{Please excuse this horrible picture - it's on the floor of my dining room!}
To assemble, simply print, cut out and mount onto construction paper. For extra durability, you may want to laminate so it lasts longer! 

You can snag this freebie by becoming a Facebook Fan!  
Simply visit my Facebook page and scroll down to click on the "Fan Freebies" tab.  
There are a few other goodies to grab in that tab while you're there :) 
Is anyone going to Vegas next month!?!?! I am SO excited I can barely contain my excitement! I've already started packing! I can't wait to finally meet everyone! 

Have a fabulous month!

Friday, June 20, 2014

Summer Reading Ideas

Happy summer vacation!  It's Lisa from over at Second Grade Stories.  We ended earlier this week and I am sooo ready for some rest an relaxation.  I spent my first day of summer break today cleaning everything I could put my hands on.  My workroom and hall closet were in need of some serious reorganizing and I always find it so hard to work with clutter around me (which I'm sure explains why I don't get much done...)
One thing I'm really looking forward to doing this summer is enjoying some new professional reading.  I have a pile of books on my couch that I am excited to get to.
The first is Notice and Note: Strategies for Close Reading by Kylene Beers, Robert E Probst.  I am really looking forward to getting a better handle on the idea of close reading an how it is different from what I already do.  Melissa over at DillyDabbles has been hosting a blog book study on this book.
I know I am WAY late to this party... but since my summer break just started, I'll have to catch up sitting outside on the deck with a strawberry watermelon coolatta in hand....  I have heard this book is very "textbook" for the first few chapters, but it's full of great information and ideas.
Next up is a way to improve my math instruction.
Amanda from The Primary Gal has a huge book study on the book, Guided Math, by Laney Sammons.  I admit, I bought this book last summer an never got around to reading it.  Amanda's online book study is filled with tons of other bloggers who linked up to share their ideas.  Again, this one started before I was even THINKING about being out of school (how early do all of you go back?!)... but I'm still looking forward to reading everyone's ideas.
And continuing with the guided math theme.... this one, hosted by Brenda over at Primary Inspired started yesterday, June 19 (and this time, I was ready!)
I always feel I'm not doing enough in my small group math time, so I'm hoping to get some ideas on how to make this part of my math block even better.
And finally, just because I need some F*U*N* summer (professional) reading... I'm diving into

This book definitely looks like an interesting and fun read for the summer.  I love finding fun and creative ways to engage my students in learning.  Arr!!  Start the ideas a-coming!
Well, there you have it... my very ambitious booklist for the summer.  I'm sure I won't actually get through all these books... but I know I'll come away with some great new ideas to start fresh in the fall.  That's the best part about teaching!

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Time for Summer….Time to Tackle Projects!

Hello there!  It's Tamra and Sarah over at First Grade Buddies.  We are excited for summer to be here, and we are sure you are too!  

At the end of the year we made a list of products that we felt were needed in our classrooms this next year (and beyond).  One such need was a reading packet of some kind that allowed kiddos to work on comprehension skills…in a small group setting or later down the road; independently.  So we have been busy working over the last couple of weeks!  The good news is…it's summer and you can work in the comfort of your own home (with coffee and dogs!):

Our first finished products are weekly mini reading comprehension packets.  We made a set for 1st grade and one for second grade.  Each set contains 30 packets; complete with a passage (both fiction and nonfiction are included), comprehension questions, and other graphic organizers / strategy practice pages.  We plan to copy a packet each week in our classroom and use them in small groups.  We plan to use the packets to teach and review comprehension skills. These no prep packets will be a nice addition to our routines this next school year. 

This freebie sample will give you 1 complete packet for 1st and 1 complete packet for 2nd!

We are excited to start our next big projects for our classroom!  What are your big "To Do Projects" this summer?

Friday, June 13, 2014

Clean It Out & Clear It Out

Do you have over-flowing files, extra school supplies, and containers of craft supplies? Hopefully this blog post will help you want to get a jump start on cleaning out your classroom and clearing out the old! That is exactly what I plan on doing this Summer. 

My colleagues know how OCD I am and they think my school closet is very organized.  However, I knew it could look better and it drove me nuts that I had so many mixed matched containers. I had a variety of tubs with extra school supplies and many containers for my craft supplies. So, I bought these shoebox containers at Target 5/$5.39. I have started making a container for each item (tape, markers, velcro, yarn, chalk, etc.) Then, I'm going to add a label to the front of each container with velcro. 

I also have oodles and oodles of files that I had previously organized by month. After having to dig back and forth through files to find materials when I want to review, I've decided to organize everything by skill. I bought 16 big containers at Target and I am going to label each tub by skill. Next, I plan on putting all my paper files into binders. Then, I'm going to put all my games related to that skill, along with the binder, into 1 container. Finally, I'll add a label to the front so it'll be easy to identify the skill one I'll be able to house everything I need in 1 container. Here is what my "before" picture is. Hopefully it won't take too long until I can take an "after" picture. :) 
Below are the labels that I am putting on the front of all of my containers. They go along with my polka dot themed classroom. :) You can grab these FREE labels by becoming a Facebook follower. Just click on the picture below. 

As you are going through your files, think about the clothing rule: If you haven't used it in a year or two, get rid of it! At least that's my motto since I can't handle clutter. Do you have any other suggestions about how to keep your files and materials organized?