Tuesday, February 25, 2014

One LUCKY Giveaway

Check out this amazing giveaway that Kristen from Easy Teaching Tools is throwing...
You can win a copy of my St. Patrick's Day themed math centers!

If you've been following me for a bit, you know I love holding monthly giveaways.  When I started these back in November, I had no idea how big they'd get.  I've met so many amazing teachers who I feel like I'd be friends with in "real-life." We've created our own little Professional Learning Community where we share ideas {thanks to Instagram} and other social media.  I feel truly lucky to have met so many wonderful teachers from all over the world...literally.  In honor of feeling so lucky, how about another giveaway with some amazing products, just in time for the huge sale!

If you're still reading {love you!}, I've got a great FREEBIE for you!
Have a wonderful week sweet friends!

Monday, February 24, 2014

Gallery Walk - American Symbols {Freebie}

I find gallery walks to be one of the greatest activities you can do with your students.  They allow students to share their background knowledge and/or learned concepts individually or as a group.  For the teacher, they provide a clear view of overall understanding.
I used gallery walks, also known as carousels, all the time when I taught 5th.  My student loved being handed different color markers to signify their comments.  The activity allowed my fifth graders to take responsibility of their learning while allowing me to observe the learning still necessary for skill mastery.
For those of you not familiar with a gallery walk/carousel here is how it works:

  • prep chart paper with a question, vocabulary word, prompt, picture, etc on it
  • place the chart paper all around the classroom
  • assign student groups or individual students a writing color (this is not a necessity, but allows you to distinguish who provided the information)
  • students walk around to each of the papers responding to the information on it
    • I time students at each poster to keep students focused
  • discuss and review the information that students have shared
After much thought I decided to try this with my first graders.  I placed an American Symbol on several pieces of chart paper.  I asked students to tell me what the symbol represented.  *Note* we did this activity towards to end of our unit on American Symbols.  I wanted to see who was able to verbalize each symbol's meaning.  The symbols included: the White House, American Flag, Washington Monument, Statue of Liberty, and the Liberty Bell.

Overall, I was very impressed with how focused my kiddos were.  They loved chatting with each other at each poster, sharing their thoughts and helping each other with words.
After reviewing their responses, we did a bit more learning with the Liberty Bell, White House, Statue of Liberty, and American Flag with the following matching activity:
You can grab of copy of this activity by clicking on the picture.

Have you ever done a gallery walk in your classroom?  I would love to hear how you use this learning activity.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Sunshine Blogger Award

Thank you CaseyJane for this wonderful nomination!  I am so grateful to be a part of this incredible teacher community!
The rules of the Sunshine Blogger Award are:
1. Post 11 random facts about yourself
2. Answer the 11 questions asked by the blogger who nominated you
3. Nominate 11 bloggers you think bring sunshine to the world
4. Make up 11 questions for your nominations to answer.

11 Random Facts about me:
1. I am left-handed.
2. I have a younger sister.
3. My favorite color is green.
4. I HATE squash.
5. I loathe scary movies.
6. I refuse to wear plain white socks.  If I can't wear sandals or ballet flats then my socks need to be snazzy.
7. I have a dream of visiting all 50 states.
8. I love Kettle Salt and Vinegar chips.
9. I have an obsession with smelly markers.
10. If I could be any fictional character, I would be Mary Poppins.
11. Once upon a time, I was a downhill ski racer.

Here are my 11 answers to CaseyJane's questions:
1.    What is your favorite holiday?   I love 4th of July, or any excuse to BBQ and be outside.
2.    If you were to name your blog something else, what would it be?  "I've Lost my Marbles" (Do you know the reference?)
3.    What is your dream “retirement job?”  My dream "retirement job" is a chef in a test kitchen.  I would love to work for Rachel Ray.
4.    What is your biggest pet-peeve?  People that lack basic manners.  For example, saying, "Excuse me" or "Pardon me."  I don't know what it is but it drives me CRAZY when people have no sense of those around them.
5.    Name the book that changed you.  The Namesake, by Jhumpa Lahiri; it made me appreciate reading again.
6.    What is the best concert you have been to?  This is so hard!  Live music is go-to.  I would have to say Lucius.  It was the most recent show I was at.  It kept me on a musical cloud for days.
7.    When and/or how did you figure it out that you wanted to be in education?  I was in my senior year of high school and already planning on attending UC Boulder, when I had a realization that I was going into the wrong field (marketing at the time).  Every job I had ever had centered around children, and each of those jobs made me happy!  I revamped my college plan, headed to Michigan State University, entered the Education College, and NEVER looked back!
8.    Are you are rule-follower or rule-breaker?  Breaker for sure!  I appreciate rules and the safety they encourage.  Unfortunately, you have to break rules to get things accomplished.
9.    Do you love or hate the cutest kitty you tube video?  I would say I am impartial to it.  I am a dog person.

10.    What was the last movie or musical you went to?  The last movie I saw in the theaters was Catching Fire, but soon to be Veronica Mars the Movie!
11.    What was your most prized possession when you were the same age as the students you teach?  My most prized possession in the late 80s was either my Baby Grows or my Magic Stand Checkout Counter.

I nominate:
1. Tailor-Made Teaching
2. Sparkling in Second
3. A Burst of First
4. Tales of Frogs and Cupcakes
5. Polka Dot Kinders
6. Seconds at the Beach
7. Journey of a Substitute Teacher
8. Teaching Tidbits and More
9. The Teacher Talk
10. The Applicious Teacher
11. Chickadee Jubilee

My 11 Questions:
1. If you could be any storybook character who would you be?
2. What is your go-to teaching tool?
3. What is your ultimate vacation spot (real or dream)?
4. What is the last movie you watched?
5. What is your favorite season?
6. What is your favorite part of summer break?
7. What is your favorite subject to teach?
8. Who or what helps bring "sunshine" to your day?
9.  How did you know that teaching was the career for you?
10. If you could have any superpower what would it be?
11. What is your most memorable teaching moment?

Thank you for all of your support and the "sunshine" that each of you bring to my day!

"I can write on the table?"

"You sure can!"
I loved the cheers I heard the first time I let my students write on their tables with dry erase markers.  Their motivation to accept and complete their task hit an all time high.  Check out how I "Sparked my students' motivation" with today's link up.

I first saw this idea flying around Pinterest and knew I needed to try it out.  Our first go at it was with one of our book searches/hunts.  My students do book searches regularly, typically while recording into their journals.  After learning a phonics skill or spelling pattern, I send my kiddos off to find those examples throughout their books.  Here is a book search while writing on our tables in action:

Students hunt through all of the books in their bookbags searching for the learned skill.

This activity is automatically differentiated since the books in each student's bookbag are "Just Right."  As students are hunting, I work my way through the class checking-in on findings and taking anecdotal notes.  I love taking a snapshot of a student's word list and discussing it with them during individual conferences or small group time.  
We also write on our desks to practice math skills.

Another time is during small group.  I find this so much easier to manage with the limited space I have.

I bet a bunch of you are wondering how well the marker wipes off.  My kiddos use old (but clean) socks to erase their work.  Then, at the end of the day we do a quick baby wipe or Lysol wipe and the tables are new again!
Do you let students write on their desks?  How do you Spark Motivation?

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Happy Birthday, Britney!

It's my bloggy buddies birthday!  There is no better way to celebrate a birthday then with a giveaway, ok maybe having some cake, too!  Check out all of the great products you could win...

Check Inspired Owl's Corner TPT store here
Check The Kinder Sister's TPT store out here
Check The Unique Classroom TPT store here

a Rafflecopter giveaway