Saturday, December 20, 2014

Budding Bloggers Showcase {Sara from Frampton's FUNdamentals}

Today I have a very special blogger to showcase.  Sara is a teacher from Newtown, CT and I know we've all kept the teachers from that town in a special place in our hearts.  Read on to learn more about Sara and be sure to read to the very end to find out about a special tribute on her blog for the Sandy Hook victims.  Drop by her blog to find it and welcome her to the blogging community!

Hi everyone, I'm Sara from Frampton's FUNdamentals, I have been blogging since the beginning of 2014.  I never found myself to be much of a writer, however I am loving this forum.  I love talking to teachers that I never would have had the chance to talk to without this blogging world! It has helped me to become a better teacher, and I can't thank everyone enough. 

I have lived in Newtown, CT my entire life! I love the hometown feel and the people of my town. I have a really close knit family, and I know I couldn't be luckier.  My parents love and support me in everything I do. 

My older brother, Richie.

My younger brother, Willie.

 I have 2 brothers, who are typical brothers.  They are a pain in the butt, however they will be the first ones there for me when I need it.  I get along really well with my brothers, especially my younger brother.  He is 8 years younger than me, but we have never been closer.

 I have 2 dogs, Daisy and Penny.  We bred Cocker Spaniels for a while, we had Daisy and Donald, Penny is actually one of their puppies.  On the top Daisy is on the left and Penny on the right, on the bottom it is the opposite way.

Lately I have loved riding my bike (it is summer when I am writing this, and I live in New England, so depending on when this is published I may not be actively riding).  I try to ride as much as possible when the weather allows.  I also like creating things on the computer and physical items.  I am usually up to making any kind of craft item, as long as I can give it away when I am done.  I love anything techie, especially Apple.  I also have the Lego EV3 Mindstorm set and enjoy building the robots.  I really want to learn to program so I can make a custom app for my classroom.  One thing that I don't do enough that I really enjoy is taking photos with my good camera.  I have gotten so used to my iPhone that I forget about the good one, hopefully by the time you read this that has changed. 

For the next part of the post I decided to use the questions Amanda sent to me and do it Q & A style

Grade You Teach: I currently teach second grade, the first year I taught I had kindergarten.

How long have you taught? I am on my tenth class! Wow, I can't believe I have been teaching that long!

What is your favorite subject to teach? My favorite subject is reading, I love the Daily Five we have set up in the second grade.  I also love when the students get off topic and we end out exploring things off of the lesson plans, sometimes that is the best.

What would we likely see if we popped into your classroom unannounced? If you popped in unannounced you would see a room full of students working on their own items at their own speed.  If it is snack or a non work time you would probably be greeted by students who would want to hug you and share what ever is on their minds. 

What gets you through one of “those” days? The students get me through "those" days, just look into their eyes and that is all I need to do.  Or a student or many will sense I am off and they will try to make me smile, I am lucky to have them.

What is one “can’t live without” teaching resource? My coworkers, they have taught me more than any book or college class ever could.  When I am having trouble, they are there for me, and I am there for them.  We have an excellent support system at our school, it really is a giant family. 

Give us a glimpse of your teaching style by sharing a brief summary of a favorite classroom activity/project.  My favorite classroom activity is the Daily Five.  I love the authentic learning that is taking place, and I love making the activities to go along with it.  Last year was my first year teaching it and I can't believe I haven't been doing it for years.
One project I really loved was one that wasn't planned, and student initiated.  Last year my students were so into the Who Was series that we turned the back bulletin board into a giant timeline.  That was a lesson that was never planned and will never be forgotten.  The conversations I over heard from students discussing people and dates were priceless. 
This was before we had all the dates up, we added them as I got the books.  By the end of the year I had the complete series. 

What is one of your blogging goals for this year?  My goal is to blog more than once a week, it gets crazy when school is going, but I feel it is important for me to be an active part in the blogging world. I am also hoping to save up to go to Vegas and meet so many bloggers that I feel I already know. 

Final Thoughts:
I have always felt honored to be a teacher, we have the greatest responsibility in the world.  We are shaping the future one child at a time.  I have never taken this fact for granted,  I do everything I can for my students, they are my children and the know it.  When all the terrible things happened in my town that December day, I was nervous going back to school Monday, I was crying all weekend, and didn't know how I was going to handle it.  Everyone knew I was from Newtown, my kids knew I was upset and something was wrong on Friday, and I didn't know if I could handle the questions.  I was told I could take as much time as I needed but, going back to school Monday  was the best thing I could do, I stepped into that classroom and felt this is where I am meant to be.  I helped my students, I talked with the older students and staff, by helping them I felt I was doing something.  There were many things I learned from that experience, the thing I try to teach my children is to be kind.  We had so many random acts of kindness shown to us, that I feel I need to show my students to do kind things for others.  I have always taught this, however now it has a different meaning, now I know what it feels like on a massive scale to have someone across the world say a pray, to say a kind word, or to give a smile.  In a day where there are so many material goods, I want my students to know the most valuable gift is that given from the heart.  

Please take a moment to stop by my blog, somewhere in the design there is something hidden to honor the Sandy Hook Victims, they are so much a part of me I had to honor them, see if you can find it.  If you find it you can send me an email, please don't post a comment saying where it is, I want others to be able to find it as well. 

Thank you Amanda for helping out new bloggers, a little kindness goes a long way and I am grateful to you for helping us.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Second Grade Secret Santas

The thing I love most about blogging is the friends I've made along the way.  This huge group of friends provides so much love and support!  It's so nice to have a group of people who truly understand what you deal with day in and day out.

I was thrilled to be a part of a Secret Santa exchange with a small group of my favorite second grade bloggers.  Today, we're revealing our gifts on our blogs...

I scored.  Seriously.  It's almost like I went shopping for myself.  ;)

Essie nail essential.

Turquoise infinity scarf.  Umm...turquoise is my favorite color and who doesn't love infinity scarves?

Dark chocolate + Sea Salt = Heaven.  Trust me.  It's definitely my weakness.

Pumpkin Candle.  I know pumpkin scent is for fall, but I only know two scents in my life.  Pumpkin and coconut.  It's still way too early for coconut. :)

Notepad.  Polka dots are a classic.  Chevron may go out of style, but polka dots will always remain. 

So, who was my secret Santa??

Click the image above to visit her blog and find out about her secret Santa stash!

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Budding Bloggers Showcase {Cassandra from Mrs. 3rd Grade}

Hello everyone!!  I am so lucky to be telling you a little about myself on Amanda's blog!!  I have been following Amanda for a long time, and am so honored to be featured on her blog today!!

My name is Cassandra, and I blog over at Mrs 3rd Grade!
Mrs. 3rd Grade

I started my blogging journey a year ago this fall, and have been diving into it more and more every day!

I am a third grade teacher in Arizona and I am starting my eighth year teaching, and my seventh year in third grade!  I have never had the same class of students, so I am crazy enough to say that I have never taught the same way.  Of course you would hope this is what people would say, but I can say that I have been changing and adapting my materials every year!  I try to find what fits best for my students, and for what makes my life easiest!!

My first class of third graders graduated 8th grade this year!
I think the most important style I have in my teaching is connecting with my students.  This group of eighth grade girls would still come down the hall to find me and tell me about what was going on in their life.  I have a special connection with these girls, and I try every day to make that connection with the kids in my class.  I love that I have the opportunity to share my faith with my kids too!  It makes us even closer!

In the last three years I have really been trying to find ways to make my teaching life easier, or with less busy work!  My son was born August 2011, and then my baby girl was born April 2013!!  Needless to say we have been BUSY!!

If you popped into my classroom you would see my students all over the place!  I hate having my students sit in their desk to work.  I have found that they do so much better when they are given the freedom and choice of where they sit, and who they sit by.  Of course I still have assigned seats, but I am starting to let go a little more!

When you come into my room you might see my class doing a brain break thanks to Go Noodle!!  We love Go Noodle, and I am so glad that I found it last year!!  If you haven't found it yet, you need to check it out!!

I don't think that I could live without Go Noodle in my classroom, or hands on math activities!  My kids loving exploring and practicing without doing drill and kill worksheets!  We have TONS of Marcy Cook Tiles, and we have tons and tons of scoot or task cards to use!

When I have one of those days I like to call my bestie who now lives in Vegas so we can chat!  When she lived here in Arizona with me we would go get Golden Spoon after work when we had one of those days!

Thank you so much for sticking with me this long, and I can't wait to "meet" each one of you!!  I love blog comments, and my goal this year is to learn more about what my followers want or are looking for so I can try and meet their needs!  My goal is to do more original posts too, and not just linky parties!!

Thank you again Amanda!!  You are AMAZING!!

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Budding Bloggers Showcase {Erin from Projects & Polkadots in First}

Hi! I was checking out my Instagram a couple of weeks ago when I saw Amanda was doing a Budding Bloggers Series. I couldn't wait to jump on board!

The Personal Me
I'm Erin over at Projects & Polkadots in First! I live in Michigan with my husband and 2 year old son. I LOVE spending as much time as I can with my family. I love going to garage sales, creating fun decor for my classroom, shopping, biking, hiking, and spending my summers with my son!

Love the outdoors!

The Teacher Me
This will be my 9th year teaching 1st grade, I taught 2nd grade for one year. My how 10 years flies by! I love my job more than words can describe. The school I work at is my family away from home. We truly are a team!

My favorite part of the day in my classroom is Reader's Workshop. I just love seeing all my little kiddos curled up around the room in their "book nooks" as they develop their literacy skills right before my eyes! I do individual conferring as well as strategy/guided reading groups during this time. My first graders start Reader's Workshop off by "warming-up" with their poetry notebooks. Then they go right into Read-to-Self followed by Read-to-Someone. During our Read-to-Self and Read-to-Someone time, some students are on our classroom laptops Listening to Reading on Raz-kids.

My Classroom
If you popped into my classroom you would most likely see/hear singing, regardless of the time of day! I absolutely love putting things to a song. Whether it's our shared reading time after lunch, or during a math lesson, I try to find ways to help my kids love learning. I tend to do this with singing, hand gestures, movement, or rhymes.

You would also see polkadots in my room... lots. of. polkadots!
Ikea polkadot couch
Ikea polkadot rug

polkadot ribbon chandelier
Tough Day
I'm able to get through one of "those" days at work with the help of my awesome teammates. Whether it's chocolate from Jane, a laugh with Amanda, or  a coffee with Heather, we always get through one of "those" days by helping each other! (I'm the 2nd from the left, the far right was my student intern last year).

Favorite Classroom Activity
At the end of our character study in Reader's Workshop, I have my kids create their character with construction paper (Junie B. Jones, Arthur, Biscuit, Little Critter, etc.). I gather all of the necessary colors for the various characters ahead of time for each partnership so the kids have everything they'll need to create their character. Then I model making a Frog or Toad in front of the class. I spread the kids out all over the room to create their characters. It's so fun to see the kids working together to create "one" end product. They are so proud when they are finished and the characters always turn out adorable (each in their own way!).

Love these cute little characters!

My Go-to Teaching Resource
Every year my lesson plan binder changes, but however I change it, one thing remains.... EVERYTHING IS IN ONE PLACE! I simply use a binder and put dividers in it with the following sections: calendar, lesson plan pages, teacher passwords (I counted, I have over 25!), student passwords, birthdays, meeting notes pages, reading, and finally writing.

I put a copy of whatever reading/writing unit I'm in at the time. This way, when I go to lesson plan with my team, the units are right there to pull out! For math, science/social studies I have big binders so I just keep those all together separately.

Blogging Goal
My goal for this year is to simply POST! I really want my blog to showcase what happens in my classroom daily. I also want to share the fun things I create for my classroom with others. I've gained so much from the blogging community and I want to  give back!

Come scoop up some first grade fun over at Projects & Polkadots in First

Projects & Polkadots

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Centers I Can't Live Without

Have you stocked up for the TpT Cyber Sale yet??  Both of our shops are on sale with all products 28% off with code TPTCYBER

Teacher's Clubhouse {Primary Shop}
Lightbulb Minds {Intermediate Shop}

One thing from our shops that I can't live without in my own classroom at the moment is our new "Any Time" math centers.  Each set includes 10 centers revolving around one unit.  Everything you need to hit ALL the standards in that unit PLUS some.  And, the best thing?  They're a cute theme that can be pulled out and used at any time of the school year!  

Here are the sets we have available so far...

What math unit would you like to see me work on next??

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Budding Bloggers Showcase {Cori from Mrs. B's Beehive}

Hi Everyone!

My name is Cori Blubaugh, and I am the author of Mrs. B's Beehive!  I want to thank Amanda for this generous opportunity to tell you all about my blog!

    I've been a kindergarten teacher for seven years at a school in San Ysidro, CA.  My school is about 5 minutes from the Mexican border, so my classroom contains almost 100% ELL students, many of whom cross the border everyday to attend our school.  This year, I will be adding the title of Assistant Vice-Principal of Academics to my school responsibilities, and I can't wait to bring new curriculum ideas to my fellow staff members.

    I live close to my school with my husband of three years, and our two dog babies, Nigel, the Schnoodle, and Vivi, the Italian Greyhound.  We love to travel, and a couple of our favorite recent destinations include Chicago, New Orleans, and Key West.  My husband somehow talked me into going to Pamplona, Spain to run with the bulls on his 40th birthday, so we will be doing that next July! 

We feel blessed to live in San Diego county, and spend our time enjoying all that the city has to offer with family and friends, especially dog beach! : )

    My absolute favorite subject to teach is language arts. Many of my students come on the first day of school, not knowing a word of English.  It is amazing to see the progress they make throughout the school year as they learn to speak English, and then learn to read and write in that new language as well!  It is truly remarkable what the human brain is capable of, especially at that young age.

    I love to foster a sense of independence in my students.  If you popped into my classroom, you would see students working on learning activities that interested them, moving around the classroom freely, with a sense of ownership, and shared community.  I love working with small groups, and meeting each child's needs at their own individual levels.

 When I'm having one of those "special" days at work, my husband, friends and I usually go out and enjoy some delicious Mexican food that San Diego is famous for.  It's convenient if my "special" day coincides with Taco Tuesday at our favorite place - Fred's in Old Town.  They have amazing tacos, and their strawberry margaritas make that "special" day and all my frustrations just melt away : )  I have a wonderful, supportive group of friends that enrich my life and make every day interesting!
I wouldn't have thought this would be true 2 years ago, but the teaching resource I can't live without is my iPad! The capabilities of it amaze me.  I love blogging about new apps and resources that I find.  The iPad has given me more mobility in the classroom, and my students absolutely love using it.  They don't even realize that the games they are playing are reinforcing the skills taught in class!  Our school is currently fundraising to get Apple TV's into each of the classrooms, and I can't wait to try those out and let you know how they are working.

I love to give my students hands on learning opportunities.  Watching the connections they make during math and science time, while using manipulatives and conducting experiments, is extremely rewarding.  This year, I'd like to do some more research into STEM activities, and how I can incorporate them into my classroom.
I absolutely love reading blogs. I have gained so much knowledge from other teachers by doing so.  I can truly say that researching and reading other teacher's blogs has made me a better teacher.  It is my goal to share tips and tricks that I have learned thus far in my teaching career.  It is my hope, that other teachers might find the information that I share, useful and impactful to them and their students.

Thank you for taking the time to read all about me!  If you would like to follow my blog, you can do so by clicking on the link below. Thank you!!!!

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Budding Bloggers Showcase {Jenny from Creating the Life}

Hi! I'm Jenny from Creating the Life

I am a Florida native and have lived within 10 minutes of the beach my entire life. I have been married to ‘The Mister’ for 11 years, but am approaching the halfway mark with him…..I’ve spent half my life with him (and yes, I am 22 ;) ) We have two red-headed boys. E is turning 6 and entering 1st grade. P is 8 months and I think will be our handful. It has been amazing watching them love and play with each other this summer. It has brought happiness to my heart that I never thought was possible. 

In true girl fashion I love to shop, craft, and be pampered. I also have come to enjoy running over the past couple of years (fun fact…. I ran the Disney ½ with the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society) and play around with photography. I’m a homebody and find peace and happiness in being home with all of my boys.

This is my 11th year of teaching (WOW that made me feel old). I recently switched schools and now get to teach the kids in my own community. Having that connection with my students has truly made an impact on my teaching and given me a deeper understanding of them. I am currently teaching second grade (2nd year, but 3 total). I have also taught K, 1, and 4 (6 years). I love second grade! The kids are still young and sweet, but old enough to follow directions on their own ;) I am also excited that I am getting the opportunity to stay in a grade for more than one year. I have been bouncing around for the last 3 years and can't wait to really 'understand' a grade level again. 

I LOVE to teach math! I love to use manipulatives and interactive notebooks to help my students learn and understand concepts. I try to make it as fun and hands on as I can. 

What would we likely see if we popped into your classroom unannounced?....Hopefully engaged students having fun. To a stranger that may look more like unorganized chaos. Honestly, though, you would see centers and students trying to take control of their learning (this is something I am working on very hard....releasing control)

What gets you through one of “those” days? Coffee and/or chocolate, LOL! Yes, really those two things help greatly, but so does having good colleagues that you can vent to or laugh with. If it has really been one of "THOSE" days a good run can do wonders. 
What is one “can’t live without” teaching resource?
Technology  (I LOVE! GoNoodle for brain breaks. If you haven’t heard about it or tried it… I love the kids using iPads and computers, I love using computers to teach with (when they work), and PINTEREST. I am a pinaholic and think it’s amazing how it can connect teachers and the way we share ideas.

Give us a glimpse of your teaching style by sharing a brief summary of a favorite classroom activity/project.
I don't have a specific classroom activity/project (bouncing around and maternity leave ;) However, in all grades that I have been in I try to make learning fun and hands on, typically trying to bring my love for crafting into it. Some of my best memories from when I was in school was when we were working on a project. This past year at my new school (it is a lower SES school), I saw my students light up and get excited about learning when I turned it into a project.

My blogging goal (and teaching and life) for this year is to document more. I always have the best intentions to journal, blog, take pictures, but after long crazy days it seems to take the back burner. I want to document my teaching so that I can learn and grow, and possibly inspire/help others. I want to take pictures of my students learning so they can look back in 20 years and have a good laugh. Hopefully, you will want to join me on this journey and hold me accountable!