Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Halloween Hunt {Prize Reveal}

It is officially OCTOBER!!  Have you started the Teaching Maddeness Halloween Hunt yet?  If you have no idea what I'm talking about, head to this POST for all the details.

Some people are already slaying it....

Want to know what they're competing for?? 

 There will be FOUR winners!  Let's take a closer look at the prizes.

 Remember this pic of my new classroom carpet??

I still can't even put into words how much I love this rug!  I've been teaching for 17 years...I've had many rugs in my classroom, but never a rug love like this! ;)

Well, Kid Carpet has graciously offered a classroom rug as a prize for the Halloween Hunt!  The winner will get to choose any rug (up to 6'x8'6") from their Factory Direct Rugs (up to $179.99 value)!!

Here's a peek at the some of my favorite designs, but of course, if you win, the choice is YOURS!

But, that's not all!!  A second winner will win...
That's right - a $100 Amazon gift card to spend on whatever your heart desires!  

Prize package #3 is bringing back two of the most popular items from my fall giveaway. 

And a fourth winner will receive $25 to spend in our Teacher's Clubhouse or Lightbulb Minds shop on resources of your choice!

So, what are you waiting for?? Go get your hunt on!  #TMHalloweenHunt

Here's your chance to earn a BONUS POINT!  Visit the Factory Direct Rugs website and take a picture of your favorite rug!  Don't forget to have your sign (#TMHalloweenHunt) in the picture (see example below).  Post it to Instagram with your hashtags (include #KidCarpet) for your bonus point!

#TMHalloweenHunt #KidCarpet #AmandasRockintheHunt

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Budding Bloggers Showcase {Misha from FRANtastic 2nd Grade}

Today, I'd like for you to meet Misha.  She has just started her blogging journey after 25 years of teaching! She teaches 2nd grade and has a ton to share!  Read on to meet Misha and then hop over to her blog and leave her a warm welcome message.  We're glad to have her as a part of our blogging community now!

Hello Fellow Bloggers! 
I am so excited to have my blog, 
'FRAN'tastic 2nd Grade
featured on Amanda's page!

about me...

My name is Misha Frander. I am a 2nd grade teacher in Alabama, and I have been teaching for 25 years! I have been blogging for almost two months. After 25 years...
What made me decide to start my blog? 
I'm not really sure, but I am so glad I did! 

I am married, with 4 children, a son-in-law, and 3 fur babies.
My Sweet Family

favorite subject to teach...

My favorite subject to teach is READING! As much as reading instruction has changed over my 25 years in the classroom, it still gives me an unbelievable feeling when I look into a child's eyes as they realize they have reached reading goals they never thought were attainable. :) There is nothing better, for a teacher.

if you walked into my classroom...

You might be surprised! You would see a lot of BOUNCING!

Yes...We swapped our traditional classroom chairs for Ball Chairs this year! After a few weeks I could really see a difference in those very active students and even those strugglers. 
I even used one as a chair at my small group reading table. :)
It's the best thing EVER! 
I encourage you to do a little research on the SWAP, if your aren't familiar with studies on the expected outcomes.

Or...You might see my students completely engaged, while reading on a Mac Book from our Mobile Mac Lab.

"those" days... 

No doubt about it...THESE amazing ladies get me through "THOSE" days!  My grade level friends are the BEST!

Visiting our new classrooms       WET FEST 2014 (field day)

We will all be moving to our new 2nd grade wing at 
the Primary School before the school year begins.

that "MUST" teaching resource...

I would have to say my Smart Board is my favorite teaching resource. What did we do before we had technology in our classrooms?

my favorite classroom activity...

I love our annual Math & Science Day
This is actually a school-wide activity where teachers make arrangements for a presenter to be in their classroom to do a math or science activity or experiment. Students rotate through their grade level's classrooms. Students love the exploration and hands-on activities they get to be a part of during this day.

my blogging goal...

Since I have only been blogging for a few months...I just hope to keep up once school starts back. :)
I guess my goal is to post daily. I take a lot of pictures, and we do a lot of great activities. I hope to share all of them!

last, but most certainly not least...

a shout out to my Auburn Tigers...


My Teacher Friends & Auburn Football!

                    Toomer's Corner with the Husband!                        Auburn / Alabama 2013

Friday, September 26, 2014

Let the Halloween Hunt Begin!

I had so much fun this summer with the Blog Hoppin' Scavenger Hunt!  It was something that the family and I took on together.  It was so much fun to search for silly little things around town and act a bit goofy together.  ;)  I also found a lot of new friends to follow on Instagram because of it.  Win-win!  I'm a game girl anyway.  Whenever we have family get-togethers you can bet that there is a game or scavenger hunt waiting for everyone.  So, the idea of a digital scavenger hunt hooked me right away! 

I knew that I wanted to take this idea and apply it to my favorite holiday.....HALLOWEEN!!  At first, I thought I would just create one for my "real-life" friends, but then I thought I would open it up to everyone and anyone.....the more the merrier scarier!

So, I introduce to you....the Teaching Maddeness Halloween Hunt!

The concept is simple.  Download the list of 100 spooky things to find (at the end of this post) and then....

1) Snap a pic when you find one of the items.  Make sure you include a sign in your picture that says "#TMHalloweenHunt" - you can use one of the signs provided in the download, create your own, or simply jot it down on your hand, a post-it note, or anything else you have handy at the time.

2) Upload your picture to Instagram with the hashtag (#TMHalloweenHunt) included in the caption.

3) Also include your own unique hashtag that you'll use for every hunt photo you upload (ex. #AmandasHunt2014 or #AmandasRockintheHunt, etc.)  This will be used to verify winning entries.

4) You may find it helpful to number your photos as you go to track how many items you have found.

Other notes....

* Past or "found" photos may not be used (hence the need for the sign with #TMHalloweenHunt)  Photos without this will not be counted.

* Each item should be in a separate photo, but photos may be combined into a photo collage (see below) so they don't fill your Instagram feed. 

* All entries must be submitted on Instagram by 11:59 EST on October 31, 2014.

* Participants who find at least 50 items from the Halloween Hunt list will be eligible to win one of the prizes.  Winners will be selected randomly from those eligible.

* Prizes will be announced on October 1, but teachers may go ahead and begin the hunt starting TODAY (September 26)! 

* Teaching Maddeness may post extra items on social medias throughout the Halloween Hunt, so be sure to follow Amanda on Facebook and Instagram for the chance at these "extra" points.

In fact, here's your first chance for a BONUS POINT...share the pic from my Instagram of the Halloween Hunt.  That's it!  Share that pic and you've earned your first point!  Don't forget to caption it with your hashtags!

DOWNLOAD all files from Google Drive HERE.
DOWNLOAD all files from Dropbox HERE.


Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Maximizing the Minutes Mini Series {Reading}

Hi friends!  My "I'm Lovin' Homework" Blogging Mini-Series was such a hit this summer, I knew I wanted to do another mini-series and I also knew just the thing I wanted to blog about....Maximizing the Minutes in your classroom.

How many times have you thought to yourself, "My students need more practice with word problems, but I have no time to squeeze them in," or "I know my students need work on reading fluency, but a day here and there isn't going to be very beneficial" - well, I'm here to show you how I'm maximizing the minutes in my classroom to get the most out of a small amount of time.

Let's face it.  We have jam packed days.  There are no more minutes to squeeze in an extra "block" of time or extra days into our units.  We're at our limit!  So, I had to come up with another plan.  I challenged myself to give up the first 5-7 minutes of each subject daily to fit in those important concepts that students can always use more practice with and I'm already seeing the benefits.

Today will be all about how I maximize the minutes in reading.  My goals in reading were to

1) Improve word fluency with all of my students

2) Spiral review all of our reading strategies and story elements

To do this, I use the first 5-minutes of my reading block daily.  5 minutes.  That's it folks.  Very realistic.

To reach goal #1, I use Whole Brain Teaching's Super Speed 1000.  If you are not familiar with this FREE resource, hop over and grab's FREE!

Here's the gist of it.  Students work in pairs and each pair is given a list of the most frequently used 1000 words in reading.  These pairs are assigned with one stronger reader and one weaker reader.

I have my readers sit side by side and use their reading fingers to track the words.  My students know that when we use partners in my classroom, the partner whose birthday comes first in the year goes first.  No arguing.  That's the rule.  That person starts by reading the first word and they alternate reading words for 1-minute.  At the end of the minute, they mark their spot.  Then, they switch and the other person starts reading first, alternating words.  This second try ensures that both students read ALL of the words.  At the end of this second minute, they see if they beat their first mark with an "all time best."  If so, they give high-fives!

If a student stumbles on a word or is unsure of a word, the partner assists (which is the benefit of partnering a weaker reader with a higher reader).  After the two tries, students see how far they got.  If they passed a "zinger" they get to cross out five words at the start of their list to advance their starting position the next day.  If two "zingers" are passed, ten words would be crossed out.  (Zingers are the made-up, underlined words on the Super Speed 1000 word list page.)

That's it...easy peasy sight word fluency and it takes EXACTLY two-minutes per day. Here's a little video of two of my girls showing you how Super Speed 1000 works.  They're not really partners in my classroom (just volunteering to be filmed here) and it's dismissal time, so sorry about the excess noise!

My reading block begins right when we return from related arts, so students know to enter the classroom, grab their reading folders (which also contains their super speed 1000 page) and to head to their partner spot.  Whatever spot partners chose on the first day become "their spots" - this eliminates the time it takes to find a spot every day.  Super quick!

Also in students' reading folders are the amazing little comprehension pages by Jodi Southard.  The stories are short and quick to read and the skills are broken into short and sweet sections for five days.  Perfect for my goals.  I copied all of these at the beginning of the year to create folders so that students are set for the YEAR!

After the two-minutes of Super Speed 1000, students work with their partners on the weekly story in their reading folders.  On Mondays, they read the story together and complete the Day 1 skill section.  Then each of the following days, they reread (as needed) and complete that day's skill....I love that these address so many standards in such a short amount of time.  This task takes 2-3 minutes for students to complete each day.

That's a LOT packed into our first 5-minutes of our reading block.  Maximizing our minutes to the fullest!  Just imagine the impact of this DAILY practice throughout the year!  Come back next week to see how I maximize the minutes in a different subject.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Reading Strategies

I always start the year off with a reading strategies unit.  I love getting my students to think about what their brains are doing while they're reading.  Connecting.  Visualizing.  Questioning.  Inferring.  Synthesizing.  Determining Importance. 

Here's a peek at a few of the activities we've been working on the last few weeks.

We have been making connections with every book we can get our hands on!  Text to Self, Text to Text, and Text to World.  We love sharing our connections and this visual lets us see the kinds of connections we make the most.

We've also been using our reading brain to visualize.  We love using this Jack Prelutsky poem to visualize.  First, we read the first two stanzas and visualize and then we finish the poem and visualize again.  It's great to see how our image changes.  The glasses on this craftivity provide the perfect spot to jot down those words that help us paint our mind pictures.

One of our favorite visualizing activities was from our Hashtag Granny packet.  I introduced "my granny" to students and then we talked about hashtags.  Boy, were they able to visualize what granny would be doing when they read her hashtags!  I mean...seriously?  How cute is the rollercoaster-ride-with-hands-in-the-air pic for #bestdayofmylife?  Or the picture of granny in her younger days at the prom in the #throwbackthursday pic??

We also dug deep into thinking about words.  Which words help us visualize and which don't - why?  This really helped students pick out the important details in stories.

We put all of the pieces together and practiced using details from stories to show the events.


To wrap up our study on thick and thin questions, we held a Fairy Tale Talk show.  After reading Snow White, I invited the characters to our classroom for a question and answer session.  You had no idea I had these types of connections, did you??  Let's just say the kids LOVED writing thick questions to ask our guests...and they also loved dressing up as the guests to practice ANSWERING those questions.  Some of their questions and answers were precious.  This little guy ^^ cracked us up as Grumpy. :)

One of the stories we've read while trying to uncover the author's message is Stephanie's Ponytail.  Boy do we love some Robert Munsch!  Students had lots of connections to make with this story and they found lots of ways to apply the message of "it's okay to be different" in their own lives.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Halloween Hunt {Sneak Peek}

I feel like it's been forever since I've blogged!  I have stuff to share and am finally getting into the groove of this school year!  I'll be back TOMORROW with a content post, but I wanted to drop by today for a quick sneak peek.

It's almost my FAVORITE time of year....Halloween!!!!!  I love every single thing about this holiday.  Scary movies...anyone else dying to see Annabelle??  Dressing up...who doesn't want to pretend they're someone else for a while?  Haunted it weird that I like to put myself right on the verge of a heart attack?  Spooky stories....the creepier the better!  And, now...Halloween Hunts!

I had SO much fun with the Blog Hoppin' scavenger hunt this summer that I knew right away I wanted to create a Halloween Hunt!  I really created it for my real-life friends, but then I thought...the more the merrier scarier!  So, I'll be posting all the deets right here on my blog on Friday!  Drop back by to see how you can participate and win some of the amazing prizes {over $200 value}!  You may want to go ahead and follow me on INSTAGRAM which is where all of the fun will happen.