Monday, July 30, 2012

Back to School SALE!

Is Summer really over?

For me it is.  Time for preplanning!  Time to prep, prep, prep!  That's why I'm throwing a Back to School sale now.  Everything in my store is 15% off from August 1 - 4.  Hope you find some great things that will help kick start your year (and sustain it)!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Advice for New Teachers

I was sitting here randomly thinking about my personality and teaching style and started remembering my super-awesome student teacher this past year. (I need to check in on her! I REALLY hope she found a teaching position by now…it's so hard to find positions lately with all the budget cuts!). Anyways, I was thinking of the her and thought about all the new teachers starting next week or in the next few weeks.

I remember one of the things I found myself telling my student teacher was the importance of flexibility. Things change so often (and sometimes with little or no notice). You make plans and find you will need to squeeze other things into the schedule. Or you make plans and it takes longer (or not nearly as long) as you thought. You make plans, assess, and find that you're going to have to stay on the same skill a little longer. You know what I'm talking about. I think FLEXIBILITY is an essential trait for a teacher (at least if she wants to keep her sanity).

If you were to give advice to a new teacher (one word, tip, motto, whatever), what would it be?

Let's hear YOUR advice!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

A Year of Common Core Aligned Math Tests!

Oh my goodness this took forever, but I am SO happy to say that I have finally finished my packet of 1st Grade Math Common Core Aligned Assessments!  I am pooped!  I've worked my tail off this week between finally completing this beast and planning/preparing for my daughter's 2nd birthday!

I know there are other packets of Common Core aassessments out there that were completed before I could finish mine, but you know how it is when you have a vision for something.  You just have to see it through!  The way I designed this packet was to create a Unit Test for each of the 4 broader standards set out by the CCSS:  1)Operations & Algebraic Thinking, 2)Number & Operations in Base Ten, 3)Measurement & Data, and 4)Geometry.  Then I created Unit Subtests for each of the standards listed under these headings.  I then created a Problem Solving assessment for each of the Unit Tests and Subtests to help extend student learning and assessment.  These are written in the style that some of you may know from "Exemplars".  They should be solved using problem solving strategies such as drawing a picture, number sentences, graphs, charts, tables, and then completed with a written explanation of the student's thinking. 

Well I'm not sure if I'm feeling generous or if I'm just delirious from all this cooking and baking, but how about a sample of the assessment packet for free?  Get the Unit 1 test by clicking on the image below!

or get it here from Teachers Notebook

Want to go ahead and buy the packet?  Click the image below to get it from my TPT store!
or get it here from Teachers Notebook

Hey!  If you're still reading this you may be in luck!  In celebration of my baby's 2nd birthday the 1st 2 people to comment on this post will get the ENTIRE PACKET for FREE!  Please leave me your email address, so I can email it to you!

And just for fun . . . these lollicakes are just one of the many, many things I did today that's contributing to my present delirium!  Aren't they cute?!?


Happy Birthday to my baby girl, Analise!  Mommy loves you!  
(And now so do 2 lucky people!  J/k!)

Monday, July 16, 2012

Back to School Supplies!

Ok, teachers!  Please validate me here!  I LOVE office supplies!  That's not weird is it?  I've always loved pens, pencils, stationary . . . you name it since I was a little girl, so now that I'm a teacher this has become a dangerous obsession!  But wait . . . it gets worse.  When I find really nice or really cool office supplies, I don't want to use them because then they'd be all used up so I hoard them!  I'm working on this.  I don't want to end up on the tv show (although I've seen some pretty scary classrooms out there that comfort me in that I know I wouldn't be the 1st one they'd choose if there was ever a "Hoarders: Teacher Edition").

Anyways, the reason I bring up office supplies is that it's back to school time and the sales are starting!  While it's always fun to elbow your way down the crowded Back to School aisles at Walmart, Target, Office Depot, Staples, or , I always have to revisit a teacher's best shopping friend: Oriental Trading!

Here are a few of my favorite Back to School teacher products from Oriental Trading.

These usually last my 1st graders the 1st few weeks of school when they're still a little shy and the Specials teachers and Cafeteria staff are still getting to know their names.  (Well . . . they help me too for the first few days.  I usually learn their names quickly, but it helps to see their names too!)

 I think these are pretty cool.  I usually just use sheet protectors (and lots of them), but I'm trying these out this year.

 You know how it is during preplanning.  You're constantly gluing things onto magnets, clothespins, sticks, tables, walls, etc.  Maybe this will help me keep some sanity!  There are lots of different options available here  as to size, quantity, and other factors regarding these glue dots.

Plastic envelopes.  A must have for reading groups!  I've used these for years now to keep their books, dry, clean, secure, and easy to find.  Reading logs, homework, reading books, etc get slipped into these babies and they're safe and secure . . . for the most part!  I usually get these a lot cheaper at Big Lots, but the years I can't find them there, I get them from Oriental Trading.  Trust me, I've searched high and low for a cheaper option.  This is the best I've found when I can't get them at Big Lots.

 Name Plates!  I try to avoid going to the teacher stores at all costs at the beginning of the school year.  1-The crowds are crazy!  2-It's dangerous to my wallet.  I'd be too tempted to get more stuff!  Oriental Trading carries lots of different styles of name plates.  I do warn you, though.  They're not all the same size, but the price (and dimensions listed) are a good indicator as to which ones you should purchase.  I bought the cheaper ones thinking they were just a much better deal, but they turned out to be half the length . . . but I think I like that better!

I use as many magnetic surfaces as possible in my room!  It's how I organize centers and small groups, and it's also how my students keep track of their behavior and where they are in the writing process.  It was also how I kept track of who was ordering what breakfast for several years.  So I guess what I'm saying is:  I use lots of magnets.  Self-adhesive means less hot glue for me!  Yippie!

Oh, and just in case you're wondering . . . no, I am not being compensated by Oriental Trading in any way (although I wouldn't mind that at all!).  I'm just like any other teacher - a huge fan!

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Editable Registration Day Checklist

I received a request on TPT for access to my Registration Checklist on GoogleDocs so that information could be typed directly into the form rather than handwritten.  I know exactly how the requester feels.  I'm not too fond of my handwriting most of the times and would much rather prefer the uniformity of the ten thousand different fonts I have on my computer to suit my mood.  =)  My only hesitation is that if I uploaded the file to GoogleDocs, the images I used would not be protected as I agreed to in regards to copyright.  Anyways, what I did to accommodate is upload the form without graphics.  If you want to cute-sy it up yourself, have at it!  Then you can have a theme to match your classroom!

Click here to get access to the editable Registration Checklist.  Hope it makes your registration day a little bit smoother. 

A Registration Day Checklist

If you're on a similar schedule to my county that mean Registration Day is only a few weeks away!  (Can you believe that?)  I always feel sorry for the parents on registration day, filling out form after form after form.  Ugh!

At my school we have been very blessed to have had some great registrars who truly know what they are doing.  In turn they make sure we know what we are doing.  Our registrar was Teryle.  She most definitely knew what she was doing, so if you weren't so clear on what was needed and consequently did not get your parents to fill out all the forms correctly, you'd better believe she'd send you back to chase after those parents and get everything in order!

Today I said goodbye to my friend and registrar, Teryle.  Last week she went home to be with the Lord.  We are all going to miss her dearly; I know I'll miss her sassy attitude and warm, welcoming smile.  There's no one like her, and I have been so very blessed to have known her these past 10 years.

I'm posting this freebie in honor of Teryle.  It's a blank registration checklist.  There are always way too many forms to keep track of, but sometimes a little organization can keep us on track in our post-summer break haze.There are spaces for your students' names, a column to mark whether your students is a car rider, takes the bus, or walks, and a column for the student's car or bus number.  The rest of the columns are empty for you to customize according to the forms required at your school.  For those of you who work in Gwinnett County, GA click here to get your GCPS customized form with all our required forms!  May these forms help you keep track of what you're responsible for, and may they put a smile on your registrar's face.

More Technology Tips for the Classroom!

I mentioned in my last technology tip post last week that I attended a staff development through my county regarding technology.  Sometimes I think some of the best stuff we get out of these staff development classes are the resources!  Those are the things I want to share with you.

For those of you who use your iPads in the classroom here are 4 apps that might come in handy!

1- CommonCore
This app gives you quick access to the Common Core Standards.  Enough said.

2-  Rover
This is a FREE Educational web browser that is Flash enabled!  That's right . . . you can actually utilize websites that use Flash!  (I don't know about you, but this used to be a big bummer for me regarding the iPad.  I even debated whether it was worth getting an iPad before since you couldn't access Flash.)

3-  Puffin
This is another web browser that is Flash enabled!  Puffin is great in that it enables you to get the full version of web pages on both smart phones and tablets and uses cloud servers.  Puffin is normally $2.99 for the iPad but it's currently free as a 2012 Olympic Promotion, enabling Flash support for users from July 22 to August 12 for the London Olympics.

4-  Penzu
It's a FREE online notepad/journal/diary.  You can actually just do it on the internet giving you access to your entries from anywhere through the web.  If you choose the app for your iPad/iPhone, however, you would need to purchase the Penzu Pro account in order to sync your iPad/iPhone to your web account for $19/year.

More tech tips to come, but until then here's a question I'd love for you to weigh in on.  I see plenty of pros and cons, so I want to know what you think!

Do you let your kids use your personal iPad for instruction in the classroom?  Why or why not?

Monday, July 9, 2012

Technology Tips for the Classroom

If you're like me, you're torn when it comes to taking summer staff development classes.  On the one hand you could learn more and grow yourself as a teacher, thereby benefiting your students.  On the other hand it's summer!  You're on vacation!  Now come clean . . . sometimes we're more inclined to say yes to summer staff development when a stipend is involved.  But what about when there is no stipend?  Do you take it anyways?

Today was my 1st day of 2 in a technology staff development aimed at preparing our school cluster for the technology we are about to pilot.  Technology is a big push, and this new system is supposed to be all encompassing.  While quite a bit of today wasn't a big revelation (or anything new) for my friends and myself since we're already big on technology, I did get some great new websites!  Lucky for you I'm going to share some of them with you (without you having to sit through 2 days worth of sessions)!

Here's the 1st technology tip I'm going to share with you:

The following 2 websites can be used for the same purpose.

As a 1st grade teacher I find it hard to get all my students on the same webpage in a timely manner.  It's not always possible to go into the computer lab and load every computer with the same website you intend to use with the students.  It's also very time consuming.  (Trust me!  I've done this!)  While bookmarking the pages can help, you still have to bookmark the page on every computer and then walk the students through the process of finding the bookmark when it's time to use it!  That's where these 2 sites come in handy!  They are:

You can use either site to take a long url and shorten it to something much easier and/or more memorable!

For example:
Here is an online magnet experiment I like to use with my students from the bbc website.

Notice the long url. (Not the longest, but still pretty long for a 1st grader!  Plenty of room for mistake.)

Copy the url, go to either website, and paste it into the text box provided.

Click the shorten url button, and it will shorten it for you.  Click the "Show advanced options" text below and you can specify the rest of the url after the "" or "" address.  In my example I ended the url with "magnets1".  In my classroom I would probably use my name since they will either remember the spelling or the spelling would be easily accessible.

Once this new, shortened url is used it will take your students directly to the intended website.  You now have a new, shorter, and permanent url to use!

My suggestion - keep a list of all the shortened urls you've made.

OR do as one of my presenters did - create a website with a list of the hyperlinks you will be using so that you will only have to create one shortened, memorable url!  (I may just do this and create the url ""!
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