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Friday, March 29, 2013

Spring Cleaning Sale!

{image courtesy the uber-talented Krista Wallden}

So a bunch of my favorite bloggers and I are holding a Spring Cleaning Sale in our stores this weekend!  What a treat!  Spring Cleaning you’ll actually enjoy!  My cart is loaded and ready to go, but in case you need some ideas, I have quite a few new things in my store just in time for spring!

Take a look-see:

{Click the picture to grab it from TpT}

Have you read this sweet book?  It’s an absolutely darling story about two friends that meet as a caterpillar and goosling, and what happens to their friendship as they grow and change.  It’s really about what it means to be a true friend, but it’s an excellent book to use to start out your Butterfly Life Cycle unit.  I also love it for predicting and inferring.

Buy the book here.

{Click the picture to grab it from TpT}

Mossy is one of Jan Brett’s newest books.  I gobble up her books because of the adorable storylines and BEAUTIFUL illustrations.  I also love, love, love how the illustrations that adorn the borders of her page show what is going on elsewhere in the story.  It’s a wonderful added element when questioning during reading.  “Mossy” is about a beautiful turtle who grows a garden on her shell, just when she meets a handsome companion she is taken from the pond to be put in a museum.  Another great book for predicting, as well as opinions. 

Scoop up the book here.

{Click the picture to grab it from TpT}

My Miss Rumphius unit has gotten a make-over!  I’ve mentioned about a million times that this is my favorite book in the whole wide world.  It’s a truly beautiful story for any time of the year, but I love to use it for Earth Day because the message is all about making the world more beautiful.  We spend a lot of time around Earth Day talking about the 3 Rs, pollution, energy and resources {with good reason!!!!}, but I also want to teach my kiddos that it’s our responsibility to do things in our life that will make the world a more beautiful place.  Being kind and compassionate and responsible to each other and our planet is just as important as recycling.  This book serves this purpose perfectly.

Please, please, please buy this book here!

Of course if I’ve piqued your interest, or you’re already a fan of these 3 books, I’ve bundled them to save you time and money!

Spring Book Cover
{Click the picture to grab it from TpT}

{Click the picture to grab them from TpT}

My “Think Spring” E/LA Centers are my first go at reading and language centers, but I think I did a pretty good job!  The centers are common core aligned to 2nd grade, but a few of the centers are aligned to 1st and 3rd as well!

There are centers on:
*Plural vs. Possessive Nouns {a skill my little guys and gals are STILL having so much trouble with…time to break out this center in my own room!}
*Irregular Past-Tense Verbs
*Reflexive Pronouns
*Improving Sentences {think adding details}…this one has been a huge hit in my room so far!}

I’ve also been getting TONS of use out of my Spring Comprehension Passages!




I use these in my RTI groups as well as for homework.  My class has gotten so much better at answering open-ended questions and going back into the text.  Definitely the product OF MY OWN that I’ve gotten the most use out of.

Check them out by clicking any of the pictures above.  There is also a freebie if you download the preview.  Score!

I’m also hammering away at an Earth Day mini-unit that I’m trying my darnedest to finish in time for the sale, except I keep getting the side-eye from my hubby {we’re out of town visiting MY family and I’m not being the best host…so we’ll see!}

Happy Shopping!


Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Write About It Wednesday: Student Portfolios

Write About It Wednesday Graphic

Hello there!

It’s about that time Kate and I get together for another Write About It Wednesday!  If you’re new to this series check our our previous posts here and here.

This Wednesday’s topic is Student Portfolios.

I have to admit that this particular topic had me confused for years as a teacher.  At my school we have student portfolios that move with our students from year to year and they must contain three writing samples from each grade.  For the portfolios that follow students, I use The Teacher Wife’s Friends Assessment.  I give it to my class 3x a year, and after scoring it with a rubric I make, it goes straight into their student portfolios. With the exception of these portfolios, there are no other guidelines for writing portfolios in our school. 

This gives me anxiety.

Do I keep every writing they ever do?
Do I send every writing home as soon as I read it or score it?
Do I hold on to sloppy copies?
What about that writing we did about that assembly that I never really looked at or reviewed or went over or collected?  Does that go in a portfolio?
Where are my Snickers bars?

What kind of folder do I use?
Should it have pockets?
What about a file folder?
What if the papers fall out?
Where are my Reese’s?

I could go on and on.

The truth is, at least in place where there are no set rules, that you should do what works for you.  Despite the lack of writing curriculum or guidelines in my school, I have taken the time to educate myself on Writer’s Workshop.  And through various workshops and readings, {plus 4 years of trial and error} I’ve figured out a few things:

*It is important to hold on to important writings. {In my case these are Common Core Aligned and have been edited or revised in some way.  I shoot for about 1 a month}.
*It is important that the writings in the portfolios show growth.
*It is important that writing portfolios are easy to organize

and this is the kicker…

*it is important that STUDENTS CAN ACCESS THEIR PORTFOLIOS easily or at any given time.

It’s important for students to be able to read over past writings to be able to evaluate their own work as they grow as well as for self-reflection.  They love to see how far they’ve come.  They love to see how they would take a writing from earlier in the year and “make it better”.  In fact, that’s something we will do before the year is up!
I’ve tried quite a few systems throughout the years and while they all had their pros and cons, ultimately they weren’t working.

Then I saw this pin:

magazines displayed in page protectors and hooked onto a curtain rod with circular hooks

{Click picture for source}

I was inspired!!!! 

I loved how the magazines {in this case} were easy to get to but didn’t take up valuable shelf space and I liked how you could immediately see what was inside {as opposed to rifling through a file folder}.

So this is what I ended up with:




How I did it is pretty self-explanatory, but allow me to explain anyway!  I staggered command hooks underneath my board.  I gave each student a portfolio cover and a sheet protector.  Then I handed back their work  {we didn’t start these portfolios until around Christmas time}, and they inserted it back to back {in order}.  I called them by group to hang up their portfolios.  Now they add it as they get it back, or I do it, or whoever has the job of teacher’s assistant.  It’s so easy!

But the best part is that they can access their portfolios at any time!  Many students choose to read their work during Daily 5, and they even read each others!  It’s pretty awesome!

Since I took the pictures above, I’ve added key rings for easy page flipping {without getting anything out of order}.

{“Apple” Writing here}

{“Community” Writing here}
{“Other Reindeer” Writing here}


I can honestly say that giving my students easy access to their writing portfolios {as well as encouraging them to read them!} has changed my writing program for the better this year. 

I hope I’ve inspired you to make your portfolios easy to access!  Not to mention the display looks adorable in the classroom!  We get compliments on our hanging portfolios all the time!

I’ve uploaded a copy of the portfolio cover I used to Google Docs.  You can grab it for free by clicking the picture:

Portfolio Cover Click
{Yours will not have our blog button on it! Promise}

We’d love to hear how you manage portfolios in your classroom!  Feel free to link up with any writing portfolio tip {it can even be an old post!}

If you link up please keep the following guidelines in mind:
*be a follower of both of our blogs.
*use the provided button {just save the image above and link it back here, or provide a link in the picture caption}.
*link to a post related to today’s topic.
*make sure you link to the specific post and not just your blog.

You can also leave a tip in the comments as well!  While your there, let us know of any topics you’d like featured in future “Write About It Wednesdays”.  We’d love some suggestions!

Click here to read Kate’s post on portfolios.  I can’t wait to read what she has to say.  {She always says the BEST stuff!}

Happy Writing!


Sunday, March 24, 2013

Noun Linky

I’m linking up with Mrs. Reed over at Flying Into First Grade so I can get in on her adorable weekly linky!  I haven’t been able to link up the past few weeks because I’ve been sick and haven’t had the energy to put a blog post together.

The bad news is that I’m STILL sick.  {I’m convinced it’s bronchitis}.
The good news is that this linky didn’t take too much of my energy.

This week’s theme is all about the nouns.  That’s right, I’m gonna share my favorite person, place, thing, and animal.

I don’t have pictures to offer you today, but if you’re a new follower and super interested in what my favorite person looks like, you can find a good picture of him here.  And if you’re just dying to know who my Georgie Girl is, click here {same post}.  The other two are pretty easy to imagine :)


Send some good vibes my way that I’m back to my former self soon, and go link up with Mrs. Reed here.

Have a good night :)


Tuesday, March 19, 2013

I’m a Guest Blogger!

Hi Friends!

You can find me over at The Bubbly Blonde where I’m guest blogging today!  Be sure to stop by…I have a fun FREEBIE and I’m doing a giveaway!  Yay!!!!

Click the button to head on over!
heart blog

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Write About It Wednesday {3-12-13}

Hello Everyone!

Write About It Wednesday Graphic

I am so excited to bring you another edition of “Write About It Wednesday” with Kate from Second Grade Sparkle!

We got such amazing feedback that this series was something you really enjoyed, and that made us oh-so-happy! Remember, you can link up with us as long as your post is related to today’s topic. There’s no such thing as too many writing tips & ideas {in my opinion AT LEAST}!

Our topic for today’s post is “Story Grabbers”

Or Leads. Or Great Beginnings. Or Attention-Getters. Or Hooks. Whatever you choose to call them. We’re talking about those lines your students use to hook a reader.

Today I am going to talk about an activity I do AFTER I introduce some of the Story Grabbers we use in our classroom.

Here is a list of the Story Grabbers I teach my kiddos. {I teach the first four towards the beginning of the year. Then when they I tire of them I introduce the more challenging set.}
Story Grabbers

After we talk about different Story Grabbers and write examples of each on chart paper, I hand out half-sheets of paper with sample prompts. We don’t actually write stories for these prompts. I just have the students write 2 different Story Grabbers for each one.

prompt 2
{I am SO SORRY this is such an awful picture!}

It’s great because they get practice writing different Story Grabbers. They can’t just write a question {which very quickly becomes their favorite Story Grabber…and which I very quickly retire from their options soon after }.

I also really like this activity because it helps students realize which Story Grabbers are appropriate for certain topics.  For example, a riddle isn’t an appropriate hook for a narrative about a time they were scared or sad.  A strong statement isn’t the best choice for a non-fiction writing about an animal.

I’ve put together a *FREEBIE* with “prompt cards” for you. I added on a “Suggestions for Use” page so you can use it the very best way for your class.  {I allow my students to work in pairs on this activity and let them choose any two Story Grabbers from the list}


{Click the picture to grab the Freebie.  Thanks Ashley Hughes for the adorable frame!}

I hope you found this idea helpful! Link up with us and share how you teach Story Grabbers, or hooks, or leads, or…you get the idea!

If you link up be sure to…
*be a follower of both of our blogs.
*use the provided button {just save the image above and link it back here, or provide a link in the picture caption}.
*link to a post related to today’s topic.
*make sure you link to the specific post and not just your blog.

Thanks for playing along! Don’t forget to check out Kate’s post on the same topic!


Monday, March 11, 2013

The Best Advice Ever Linky!

I’m gonna make this one short and sweet.  I’m battling a cold and I refuse to lose…which means lots of hot tea and rest!

Traci over at Dragonflies in First is hosting a Linky where you share the best advice you’ve ever received. What a great idea right?

I am lucky enough to still work closely with my mentor teacher.  She is the Basic Skills instructor at our school, a position she happily took after teaching 3rd Grade for many years.  She is an incredibly gifted educator and always has the BEST ADVICE EVER.  Seriously, I can feel like my world is ending, and in one sentence she makes it better.  I am so lucky to have her just down the hall.

The best advice she gave me was during my first year of teaching.  Probably my first month of my first year teaching.

You’ve probably heard it before…

Document Everything.


I document when I talk to a parent.  Behavior.  Signs of Neglect {unfortunately}  Successful/Unsuccessful Interventions.  Who can sit next to each other.  And who definitely can not.

I recently had a revelation in how I document.  I saw a pin or a post {can’t remember} that suggested using Post-Its to document information.  You write info on a Post-It and then move the Post-It to the student’s folder when it’s full.  I liked it but it seemed like I’d be going through a lot of Post-It’s.

So I came up with this little guy:
Student Note Sheet

First off, this is obviously not my real sheet.  I can see just a few confidentiality issues with showcasing the real deal ;)

I keep this this sheet on a clipboard in a secret spot near my desk.  I like it because I can glance at recent notes/documentation without constantly pulling out a student folder.  I’m too busy for that!!!

I use sheets like this separately for different subjects like math and reading.  It’s important to document that stuff too.

12/14…#6: Difficulty counting coins above $1.00
2/11…#19: Not stopping at end marks

Get it?  Simple right?

So, my best advice is document everything {in an easy for you way}!  Go link up and share your advice, or read the advice other teachers have to offer.

Have a good night!


Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Our VERY FIRST “Write About It Wednesday”!!!!!!

Write About It Wednesday Graphic
Graphics: Cupcake for the Teacher, KPM Doodles, Teaching in a Small Town, G&F
I am so excited for our very first “Write About It Wednesday”!

I’ve partnered up with Kate over at Second Grade Sparkle for an ongoing series about writing in our classrooms.  Kate is sort of a celebrity now and her posts are always about 3,940,938 times more witty and clever than mine, so I hope you’ll bear with me!

Here’s how it works.  Kate and I will be focusing on a shared topic, but we’ll each give our own spin or routine on that topic.  We plan on making this a regular thing, and we hope you’ll join up with us and share how you do things in your own room.  I think writing is one of the more challenging {but fun} topics we teach, and the more ideas we teachers can get, the easier it is!

Our very first topic is “Stretching Sentences”.

I really enjoy doing mini-lessons on sentence structure.  It is one those concepts I feel like my kiddos get pretty easily.  One of the ways I get my students to stretch their sentences is by teaching them how to write listing sentences.  This helps to eliminate those short, choppy paragraphs about their trip to the amusement park.

You know, this one:

This weekend I went to Six Flags.  Six Flags is in New Jersey.  Six Flags is fun.  I went on Nitro.  I went on Rolling Thunder.  I also went on Superman.  The rollercoasters were scary!  They were cool.  They were fun.  We got to eat yummy food too.  I had a corn dog for lunch.  I had fries for lunch.  They were hot and crunchy.  Then we went on Bizarro.  Then we went on Skull Mountain.   Then we had ice cream.  I had ice cream with sprinkles.  It is was in a waffle cone.  I did not finish it because I was full.  Then we went home.  Six Flags was fun.

This is not a bad paragraph.  It has details.  It has order.  But it is chop-py.  Too choppy.

The first thing I do is model.  I usually write about whatever is on my mind.  This year I wrote about a Waffle Bar at a baby shower I had been to.


I write my paragraph with short and choppy sentences first. I ask them, “Did you like my writing?”

Here’s the thing….they always do.  It’s because I’m their teacher and they fear me love me.  So I have to encourage them…”Well thank you so much!  I am so happy you love this story!  But I think I can make it better.  You always tell me I am an amazing reader.  Did I sound amazing when I read my story?”

Usually, by now, that student who loves to point out your typos on every document {or life-altering mistake of calling a student the wrong name} will tell you that, no, you didn’t sound amazing. 

 “Why yes, you are right!  I think I sounded like a robot.  I think I sounded like a robot because my sentences were short and choppy.  It was hard for me to get a rhythm while I was reading.  That’s why we combine our sentences and stretch them out.  One way we can do this is by creating a listing sentence.”

A listing sentence?  They’re enthralled.

“A listing sentence is just like what it sounds like.  It has a list within a sentence.  Just like when your mommy or daddy goes to the supermarket.  They make a list of what they need to buy.  And when they make the list, they put all the things that go together in the same spot.”

That last line is important.  If you don’t say that I cannot be held responsible for the listing sentences your kiddos end up writing.

“When we write we want to use listing sentences to make our sentences better.  When we do this we can save space for more sentences, which means more details, which means a better story!  Let’s read my writing again.  Does anyone see a place where I can create a listing sentence?”

We then go through my writing and find the one or two places where I can make a listing sentence.  It’s important not to overdue it.  I don’t want them thinking that every single paragraph they write will have a listing sentence. 


After I write my new {better} copy, we talk about what all listing sentences need.

“We know that listing sentences have to list things that are related.  There is another thing all listing sentences need.  Commas!  We use commas to separate the words and ideas we are listing.”

The next day it gets really interactive. 

 I write a few listing sentences on chart paper.  Then I pull out the garage sale price stickers.  You know, the round fluorescent ones?  Yes, those.  Prior to the day’s mini lesson I write commas on them.  We read the sentences as a group, then I have a few kiddos come up and put the commas in the correct spot.




After our review on the carpet I send them back to their seat with a practice sheet.  The practice sheet is  filled with questions that require listing sentences for answers. 

Listing Sentences practice sheet

Grab the sheet by clicking the picture.

Now my class knows that I look for listing sentences in all future writing pieces {where applicable, of course!}.  This is a pretty fun and easy skill for them once they learn it, so I don’t need to offer many “refresher courses” on the topic.

Easy Peasy!  This mini-lesson/skill has every single one of my kiddos feeling successful because it's an important writing skill they all can master.

I hope you enjoyed our first “Write About It Wednesday” post and that you learned a new tip or trick.  At the very least, I hope you picked up the freebie! 

 If you have sentence stretching tip or idea LINK UP!

You can read Kate's post here.

As a thank you for stopping by, Kate and I are hosting a giveaway.  You can enter on either blog, and we will announce a winner this weekend.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Have a good night!


Saturday, March 2, 2013

Currently {MARCH}

Well I feel like I just linked up to tell you a few random things about my life, but I can’t resist a good linky…and Currently is one of my faves!

currently march

My answers don’t need much of an explanation this time around, so I’ll spare ya and just elaborate a little on my H’s!

I like anything handmade or homemade.  I like Etsy.  I like supporting small businesses which usually means handmade/homemade.  “Is that candle handmade?  Ok, yes, I’ll take it.”  And of course homemade cooking…does it get any better?!

Happy Hour?  I love it!  I love spending time with my hubby, coworkers, and best friends eating yummy {bad for you food} and relaxing with a cocktail or two.  I especially love happy hours when it’s warm, outside on a deck.  Can’t wait!

Headaches.  Enough said.  Unfortunately I get headaches more often than I’d like…mostly due to stress.  There’s really nothing nice you can say about headaches!

While you’re here, I want to tell you something really important!

See, when you comment, I LOVE it!!  Honestly, I do.

And because I love it I want to let you know by commenting back.  Except when I do that, you don’t always know, unless you subscribe to the comment feed…but I have something easier!!! Much easier!

You might not know this, but there’s a chance you’re a “No Reply Blogger”

That’s the bad news…the good news is that it’s a very easy fix.  I learned how to leave my days as a “No Reply Blogger” behind from a lovely tutorial  by the sweet, sweet Lori over at Teaching with Love and Laughter.  Click here to learn how to change your ways and let me email you back!  It’s so easy.  I promise!

That’s about all my friends!  Go link up!

Happy Saturday!


Friday, March 1, 2013

Five for Friday {3-1-13}

Happy Friday!  I’m linking up with Doodle Bugs for my fave weekly linky!


My Number One Guy {besides the Mr., of course} moved to Florida this week.  {If you are a 2nd grade teacher in Florida, and the cutest boy in the world named Jefferson walked into your room this week, you need to email me STAT}.  I am in mourning.  I LOVE this kid.  Adorable.  Hilarious.  Intelligent.  Kind. Creative.  One of a Kind.  And cute, cute, cute.  It’s killing me that I had to smack a heart over his face because you would just MELT.  I miss him so much but I hope he is loving life in sunny Florida! 


We’re polishing up our adjective skills in 2nd grade and we’re having a fun time doing it!  I blogged about this activity last year and it includes a freebie!  Click here if you’re interested in reading more about “Sweet Adjectives”.


We’re all about the rainbows in March!  My class made the name rainbow version of this team sign, and came up with 6 adjectives that describe themselves.  Next week, they’ll pick the ones that describe them most and write about them.  I forgot to take a shot of my bulletin board this week, but I’ll be sure to upload a shot later.


I’m not Catholic, but I was inspired by my friends who were, to give up a vice for a short period of time.  I decided on red meat and fried foods. I don’t eat either one of them on an everyday basis but I do eat both more than I think I should.  It wasn’t going too bad until my husband decided he wanted steak for dinner.  Luckily my salmon was delicious!

I was lucky enough to win Alisha’s “Birthday Centers” honoring “You Know Who”!  I’m so excited to break them out next week when our school celebrates Read Across America {yes, we’re bucking the trend and participating NEXT week!}  I love her stuff so this win was a big one for me!

That’s about it for me!  Off to read everyone else’s Five for Fridays.  Go link up!

Have a great weekend,