Budding Bloggers Showcase: The Sweetest Thing

Wow! I swear I'm going to do better at blogging...starting next week!  Hopefully, I'm not the only one slacking in this area right now.  I feel like, with the long weekend, I just might be able to get caught up (here's to hoping!).  I'm very excited to showcase Lauren as my Budding Bloggers Showcase this week!  I was able to meet her at our Carolina Bloggers meet-up in August and she really is The Sweetest Thing! ;)  I know you'll love her, too....read on and then hop over to visit her blog...it's full of GREAT ideas!

Hey, y'all! I'm Lauren. I couldn't be more excited to have this opportunity to share with you a little bit about myself and my teaching.

Click HERE to head over to my blog!

I am a twenty-something Believer, wife, daughter, sister, Tiger fan, book-loving reader, wanna-be Southern belle, crafter, runner, cookie baker, happy, thankful, and blessed.

My husband, Garrett, and I a little over a year ago after our wedding ceremony.

Those of you that already follow me know, I take any opportunity I can to squeeze in pictures of my favorite niece that made me an aunt - Gracen Elizabeth! She is my older sister and her husband's first baby and is just 9 weeks old. My younger "baby" sister is a rising junior at Clemson... go Tigers!

Last year was my first year of teaching - I can hardly believe it's already over! Prior to that, I was blessed with the opportunity to serve as a substitute teacher throughout college, as well as serve as a long-term substitute after graduating a semester early from Clemson. Both my long-term experience and my first year of teaching were spent with sweet 2nd graders. Boy, do I love their little hugs!

First day of school with my people!

However, my husband's job is transferring our family to Charlotte this upcoming school year (2013-2014), so I'll be changing schools AND grade levels! (The school I'm working at is in SC though - thank goodness for one less standard change!) I am definitely nervous about it, but am growing more and more excited. I had the choice between 3rd and 5th - and I picked 5th grade! This year the grade level is departmentalizing, so I'll be teaching ELA and Social Studies.

Our new home, sweet, home! My husband will work in the building on the far left that looks like it's topped by a funny triangle.

I absolutely love literacy - it has always been my passion. It may have something to do with the fact that my mom is an elementary school media specialist/librarian and former reading specialist (Did I mention I'll be working at her school next year?! Dream come true!) Growing up, the public library was my playground and writing poetry was an outlet. So when it comes to my classroom, I always look forward to reading and writing with my kiddos each day. I had the opportunity to plan reading for my grade level last year as we adopted Common Core - definitely took some hard work but it just furthered my passion for and understanding of the reading process!

My mom and I serving in Honduras together this past summer - enjoying a treat on the work site!

Additionally, just after school let out in June, I participated in the Upstate Writing Project's Summer Institute. Basically I was surrounded by about 20 awesome ELA-loving teachers and got to hear their very best strategies for teaching writing for two weeks straight. I loved every minute of it (and encourage you to check out your local writing project)! Immediately after that, I spent a week working with a group of teachers from my district to develop some Social Studies curriculum for next year. With all of the crazy standard adoptions and changes, our district is kind enough to provide some supplementary resources to teachers to use when the state documents aren't enough. This experience working for my district confirmed my love of curriculum planning. I would love to pursue a degree/explore further opportunities!

Writing into the day during Summer Institute at Falls Park in Greenville - great way to start off each day!

If you walked into my classroom, I hope I'd be really hard to find. I love snuggling up on the carpet in my classroom library with a kiddo on each side, deep in our books. I love sitting on the floor during math centers, watching partners working together or helping them decipher instructions for the activity. I love sitting in the students' chairs (which they ALWAYS find fun and I ALWAYS find so very humbling) next to them during Writer's Workshop while they read aloud their latest piece. I love perching in the back of my room, listening to one of my kiddos lead the Calendar Math or share a prized piece of work. Standing by the board in front of the class is my least favorite place to be!

My sweet little classroom library! All of the books are leveled and stored in the green labeled shelves. (Notice the family pictures of my kiddos sitting on top of the shelves - this was my FAVORITE part of my room.) Read to Someone books are located in the red basket; early finisher books are located in the yellow basket to the right of the red. Versatiles for Word Work are just to the right of those buckets and kiddos could use the black table to work on them. Listen to Reading center was spent on the computers. The big bulletin board in the back was dedicated it our school's IB PYP program.

One of the biggest struggles I felt like I faced this past year was balancing a mile-long to-do list (standards to cover, assessments to take, etc.) with my desire to love my students well. I felt like sometimes the two couldn't exist together! If you've ever worked with 2nd graders (or younger) you know they love to tell stories and share feelings and just snuggle up! However, sometimes this made it hard to get everything done that we needed to. I just never felt like I could find the right balance. So when I was battling between the two, I tried to focus on a frame that I kept on the center of my desk all year. My younger sister gave it to me as a beginning of school present.

Also, one last thing that kept my head where it needed to be was another quote (that was adapted from Maya Angelou) that a teacher put up in the bathroom on her hallway. I'd read it every single day when I used the bathroom during lunch:

"Students will forget what you said, they will forget what you did, but they will never forget how you made them feel."

I don't know how teachers survived without Promethean/Smart Boards. I discovered the beauty of this technology during student teaching. I am big into details - sometimes to a fault! So when it comes to lessons I'm really excited about, I can tend to get carried away and miss covering important things. To help out with this, I started developing a habit of making my FlipCharts/Notebook documents just as important to my planning process as my actual written lesson plans. For example, if you opened up a Social Studies FlipChart from my class last year, you'd find a page for the activating strategy, teaching strategy, summarizing strategy all spelled out.

In addition to keeping my brain from going wild, organizing all of my thoughts on a FlipChart makes it easy to pick up where I left off the previous day (by jotting down the page number) and to include LOTS of visuals/aides (such as videos, websites, etc.). Lastly, this made having substitutes SUPER easy - I just got in touch with another teacher on my team and she would upload the FlipChart to the common drive so the sub could access it. The FlipCharts included everything so writing up sub plans wasn't necessary! (In case of tech emergency, team member could just print out the FlipChart and go off that.)

Great resource! Did you know you can import Smart Board Notebooks and PPTs into FlipCharts?

One of my absolute favorite activities from this past year was something that my grade level has been doing for years, but I feel like it perfectly describes my ideal teaching style. In 2nd grade, we do a big unit on the economy, and it is often really tough for them to grasp just because everything is so interconnected and they practically just learned the ins and outs of money in math.

To make the workings of the economy understandable, we set up a complete Winter Workshop. Before beginning, students apply to work for different companies. There were six companies that would each work to produce a different Christmas craft - ex. Snow globes, ornaments, holiday greeting cards, etc. Students would be placed on work teams of about 3-4. They had the better part of a week to create as many crafts as they could with the supplies they had. By the end of the week, it was time to buy! Students were paid for their work throughout the week, and could then use their money to purchase crafts from other students. They LOVED it! I'd like to find a way to work something similar into my 5th grade curriculum.

Here's an example of an ornament we made. If you've never made a cinnamon ornament you are missing OUT! I still have some from when I was little that smell delicious. I've linked the pictured to the recipe.

My blogging goal for this upcoming year is to post at least once or twice a week and stay updated with all of the incredible things everyone else posts about! I had a really hard time keeping up with it last year during my first year of teaching because I dedicated myself to using my school blog as the main method of communication with my parents. I will say it was probably one of the best things I did all year - my parents raved about it. I would post twice weekly: once on Monday/Sunday with updates/information about the upcoming week. I'd post again on Friday with all of the pictures that I'd taken throughout the week. I also took advantage using the tabs on my website to archive resources for both the parents and students to utilize at home or during computer lab. That being said... this year, I hope to master BOTH!

This was the banner that welcomed parents to my blog from last year!

Thanks again for taking the time to get to know me. Click HERE to head over to my blog to see more from me!

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Wrapping Up Week One: Susannah Did It First!

Well, week ONE is done!  I am so glad!  Am I the only one who craves the routine of normal school days?  Here's hoping that next week gives us just that!

This week began with Meet the Teacher on Monday.  My awesome friend and co-teacher, Susannah, said she was going to give her kiddos doughnut holes with the saying, "I can't wait to spend the "HOLE" year with you in 2nd grade!"  Seriously?  How cute is that? 

I had to steal it, but just know that Susannah did it first! :)  She also made the cute tags that we attached to them (and EVEN picked up the doughnuts for me) - I LOVE working with awesome friends! 

Of course, I put mine in the cute little monster baggies I found in the Target dollar bins!  It was the perfect welcome gift alongside the water bottles I also picked up from there (and then used my cameo to add their names in vinyl).

Tuesday was a teacher workday and I enjoyed one last "real lunch" at my favorite Mexican restaurant with some of the fab girls on my team.  I always like to give them a little something to begin the year, but was stumped this year.  We have 8 teachers on my team, so it's never much....this year I decided on this {corny} little gift...
Bracelets and a stylus pen (since we all got iPads last year) with a little note about being excited about working with such a "stylus" (stylish) group of girls.

When I got home on Tuesday, I had this box waiting for me....
My SLANT box arrived!!!!!  If you have not heard of this new project, visit Lessons with Coffee and click on the SLANT tab at the top of her blog. 

My partner to receive a box from this month was Diane over at Fifth in the Middle.  I already LOVED (and followed) Diane so I was super excited from the beginning.  You may know her as the blogger who started the "Blogs by State" linkup!

I never knew just HOW creative she was...take a look at the goodies in my box!
I was impressed by how much THOUGHT was put into each and every item!!  I mean, obviously, she knows how OBSESSED I am with my mini-me's! :)  But, a Boxer post-it pad, a Gamecock necklace (that she made!!!), black crackle nail polish (to go over garnet polish for game days), bunting, and monster clips!!  YES, please!  It's obvious that she knows me pretty well!

This little package just MADE my day!!

Wednesday was the first day of school, which just so happened to be my birthday!  The birthday treats I made {along with the cookie cake I took} were a HUGE hit!
However, the best part of the day was, of course, being spoiled by my husband.  You may recall that he is known as the "birthday santa" - he's the crazy one who gets me the same number of gifts as my age (and unfortunately, that's quite a lot of gifts!)  He also always coordinates them all in matching wrapping paper (this year in my "signature" colors of red and turquoise).  Here's a little peek at my goodies...
Luckily, he loves to shop and always does a great job! :)  The craziest thing he did this year though was to drive EIGHT HOURS round-trip to The Chocolate Tree in Beaufort to get some of my favorite chocolates.  WHO DOES THAT????  He's crazy, I tell ya!  But, I do love him (and that dark chocolate toffee bark!) hehe

On Thursday, yes, the second day of school, we left immediately after school and drove a couple of hours to Atlanta for the Bruno Mars concert.  AH-MAY-ZING!!

Y'all know I love a good concert!  Bruno is the total package!  It's like someone wrapped Michael Jackson and Elvis together - and his band, The Hooligans, are insane!  It was like watching the Jackson 5 or the Four Tops!  Unfortunately, cameras weren't allowed into this show, so I only had my phone....and iPhones stink at distant pics!
So, you can see, after such an exciting week I barely made it through Friday and slept a little late today. :)  Here's hoping that next week is a little LESS exciting and more into a routine.  Well, except for Thursday when I'll be heading to Cola to watch my Gamecocks kick-off the College Football Season!!!!  Ah, this is my fay-vor-ite time of year!
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Budding Bloggers Showcase: Adventures of a Super Mom

It's been a wild and crazily busy first week of school, but {hopefully} I'm BACK!  And, I'm here today for my Saturday showcase....

Hi, my name is Elissa and you can find me over at “Adventures of a Super Mom.” I tried to sum up who I am …. a wife, mom, and teacher. Sometimes doing everything makes me feel like a super mom. 

I was born and raised in New York. Then I followed my family out to Nevada in 1995 and that is where you can find me now. I hope to someday get out of here and move somewhere out East. I have been married to my husband, Matt, for nine years. We have three girls - Cilhouette (11-my stepdaughter), Nicole (8), and Rebekah (2 1/2). They keep us pretty busy. I love to read and the summers are the best time for that. We have been taking weekly trips to the library.

I am also a Beachbody coach and am currently taking a training class to help me learn a little bit more. On top of that I am participating in a Whole Brain Teaching book club, trying to get WTB certification. Then of course there is the inevitable - starting to plan for the next school year. I already booked my husband to build a writing workshop station for me to hold all the writing supplies. He made me wonderful stuff last year.

I currently teach third grade. The majority of my teaching has been in second grade but I love third grade!! I have been teaching for thirteen years. My favorite subject to teach is reading. I have a masters in Elementary Reading and I hope to someday become a reading specialist. For the last two years I have been partnering up with another teacher and we have been splitting our classes. I taught our classes word study and reading. She had them for math and writing. We alternated for science and social studies. I really enjoyed being able to focus on one area but this year we are going to block schedule. This means I am going to be teaching all subjects. I read "The Book Whisperer" and I am trying to find a way to incorporate that into my classroom.

Being on the Whole Brain Teaching train this summer, I am ready to put it into action! If you were to pop in my room this upcoming year, you would see a lot of cooperative learning and movement. In the past I have had a difficult time with one or two challenging students and this should keep them engaged and less likely to cause trouble.

We all have those stressful, challenging days. I used to be a stress eater and that is how I would handle a tough day. Now I have found other things to help me. I stumbled into the fitness world and working out helps me relieve stress. One of my long term goals is to run in a marathon. It is nice to just put on music, run, and tune out the world. Another thing I like to do is make tags. I got into Paint Shop Pro and that is an addiction.

One of my favorite classroom activities in the past two years has been the Global Read Aloud. Edmodo has become a resource that I can' t live without. We have read "Flat Stanley" and "Charlotte's Web." This year we will be reading "Marty McGuire." We connect on Edmodo with students around the world to discuss the book. I have also used Edmodo to post assignments for other things we are doing in the classroom. 

My blogging goal for this year is to keep up with blogging and get the word out there about my blog. I want to participate in the linky parties and the other fun things that bloggers are doing. I want to share resources as well as gain resources from other teachers. Please feel free to stop by and visit!


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A Writer's Notebook - Updated

I FINALLY got this little packet updated and bundled.  There had been a LOT of requests for the items that I use to create my writing notebooks/folders.  Well, this is it...all in one easy download!

This pack is over 120 pages of (hopefully) everything you could need to successfully set up writing notebooks/folders for your kiddos!

It includes pictures and detailed directions of how I've done mine in the past, covers in both full page and half-page (color and black/white), prewriting organizers, visuals, grade-level specific editing rules that are perfect for differentiation, interactive editing checklist wall displays, a writer's dictionary, conferencing log, writing rubric....and more!  The checklists are include for grades 1-5.

It's available at http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/A-Writers-Notebook-Unit-835817 and is on sale through today (along with EVERYTHING else in our shop)!

I'm off to school - we have Meet the Teacher today, so I will get to meet my cute, cute kiddos! :)

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A Back-to-School FREEBIE & SALE

Congratulations to Jessica for winning the Math Menu Unit from Teacher's Clubhouse!  If you didn't win, you can snatch it up today & tomorrow while it's on sale for just $3.59!!  What a deal!

It is definitely crunch time around here!  Meet the Teacher is tomorrow and kids return on Wednesday! Sooooo much to do still!  I did create this little craftivity to complete on the first day of school.  It will knock out a couple of the questions I always want to know about my kiddos - 1)what they did this summer and 2) what they hope to learn this year. 

If you would like for your students to write with the topics, "I had BUCKETS of fun this summer, but now I'm ready to DIG into learning" then swing by our shop and pick it up!  Don't forget to get credits by leaving feedback!  Click the image below to download!

And....while you're there, feel free to stock up your cart!  We are participating in the Back-to-School Sale and you can get up to 28% off everything with the code BTS13!
Want to see the top 5 most WISHLISTED items from our shops?  Just scroll down.

First up, primary teachers - these are the top 5 from Teacher's Clubhouse.  Do you have them in your cart yet?

1) Persuasive Writing Unit

2) Plant Unit

3) Poetry Pizzazz Unit

4) Christmas Around the World Unit

5) Economics Unit (One of my personal favorites!)

And, now for the Intermediate teachers....the Top 5 from Lightbulb Minds....

1) Poetry Unit

 2) Forces and Motion Unit

3) Revolutionary War Unit

4) Persuasive Writing Unit

5) Weather Unit
Happy Shopping!

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