Friday, August 30, 2013

Official Classroom Reveal

Now that the PD is over and open house is complete, I'm ready for my complete classroom reveal. I worked incredibly hard to change things up so that it wasn't the same old set up and I am extremely pleased with my outcome. Here's the official classroom reveal pics:


Outside. I had to move the owls over because we got mailboxes this year. 

My name tag from Kasefazem. Love it!

What a student will see upon entry to my classroom!


A wonderful and very crafty colleague of mine created a curtain to go over this bookshelf that holds multiple copies of guided reading books. This way I can access them for groups but the students won't get in to them before hand.

This is very similar to last year. Organized bins, lots of Peanuts posters, and my board that I got a couple of weeks in to last school year.

This is my student work board. I use sheet protectors so that I can slip their work in and out each week without stapling it up and ruining the paper each time. Because of this, I didn't even have to change my bulletin board paper this year, just the border to change things up!

My main bulletin boards and classroom library and reading area. Students love the "Opening Soon" signs. It makes them very curious about when this marvelous library will open!




Side view of the reading area. 

Side view of my desk area. I am obsessed with the idea that I will keep the space behind my desk neat and organized this year! 

Front view of my desk area. Hate those cords but that's about as ruly as I can get them to be. 

View of the front from the back. 

Last year's end of year book reports became this year's open house book preview! 

One of my favorite areas. My behavior chart, daily schedule, objectives, my clock with awesome hands (bye, bye digital clock), a Snoopy poster given to me by a very sweet colleague, and a peek the place value owls that I created!

My cubbies! I bought little containers for their extras for each cubby and put a sticker on the front with their number on it. I'm going to put photos that I take throughout the year on the decorative squares on the cupboards. Again, I have my crafty colleague to thank for the awesome curtains!

We've come full circle: my mailbox and supplies area. 

When the students came in for open house they were excited about everything that they say, which made me feel really awesome and told me that my hard work will definitely be worth it. I can't wait to get started with them on Tuesday! 


Tuesday, August 20, 2013

M&M's and 7up on the First Day: Consequences, Writing, and Learning About Your Students

What would you say if I said that I use these on the first day of school?



You're probably thinking that I'm crazy, wanting to fill my students with sugar on the first day. Well, maybe you won't think I'm so crazy after you find out what I do with them.

Some of our best ideas come from our colleagues, don't they?

My blog post today is a share of two ideas that I've picked up along the way. The first, the M&M activity, was first introduced to me by the teacher that I student taught for. I'm not sure where it originated as I know she had learned it from somewhere else and I've seen other teachers do it in various forms, but when she did it, I knew it would be a staple in my classroom too!

The second part of this was introduced to me by the wonderful Ms. Kitchen, one of my favorite colleagues when I was teaching in Washington. Ms. Kitchen was a 4th grade teacher stuck in a 5th grade pod with 3 new 5th grade teachers. I learned a TON from her and picked up a lot of her activities along the way. The 7up sentences are just one of her fabulous ideas that I "stole"!

I've combined the ideas of two super teachers to make for one fantastic back to school activity. This activity will help you to discuss consequences, get a sample of student writing (as well as an idea of what they are ready for), learn about your students through their writing, and leave students with a memory of the first day that they will still be talking about on the last. My suggestion is to do this after lunch, so you know they've at least filled their bellies with something good first.

Also, if it turns out that you have peanut allergies, you can always use Skittles instead.

Here's the activity. If you love it, you can print it out here: Back to School M&M's and 7up Activity





Now don't you want to do this activity with your students during the first week? I'm all stocked up and ready to go. I can't wait to see their excitement when I pull out that big bag of M&M's!!



Monday, August 19, 2013

I'm in Love...With Triads!

And my husband, of course!

Earlier in the year, I blogged about Hink Pinks. They are fun, engaging, and my students always love them! They kinda make my classroom go 'round!

Well, my favorite Hink Pink creator is Barbara Evans who has a blog over at It's About Time, Teachers. When I blogged about her Hink Pinks, we had a chat about other fun word riddles that engage students and encourage critical thinking skills. That's when she introduced me to Triads. Here's a little info on Triads straight from Barbara:

"Combine critical thinking with vocabulary development and have fun doing it. Teach your students to use Bloom's upper level skills -- analysis, synthesis, and evaluation, with TRIADS. 

The challenge in this activity is to find 1 word that can be added to each of the triad words to make a well-known phrase or compound word. The common word may be added before or after the triad word. For example: add GRASS to the triad words blue, hopper, and crab to make blueGRASS, GRASShopper, and crabGRASS.

Triads are CCSS aligned. This is a great activity for a literacy center or enrichment. It could also be used as an anchor or sponge activity. Reproduce the cards on card stock, laminate, and use for years to come. Naturally, an answer key is included. 

My students love to do these together. You can almost see the cogs turning inside their heads! Be sure to check out my Triads II and III." 


Here's what they look like:



The common word here is stand because you can make the word kickstand, handstand, and headstand. 

Isn't that super duper fun? Don't you just want to solve more of these right now? When I first bought mine, my husband and I spent the evening going through them to see how many we could guess. Who says that the students get to have all the fun?

I have to be honest, my students loved Hink Pinks, but I think they were over the moon for Triads. It took them only a couple of tries before they demanded a daily one with their daily Hink Pink. Now, what teacher can say no to that? Well, not this one! I even made little Triad answer sheets. If you decide that you want to use Triads with your class this year (and with vocabulary building AND critical thinking, why wouldn't you?), then you can grab my adorable answer sheets here. Here's what they look like: 


I put them out with the daily Hink Pinks each morning and the students have all day to guess. Sharing the answer at the end of the day turned out to be a great way to settle my students down before dismissal. Warning: Students will all want to answer so it's a good idea to have some sort of system for choosing in place. My students would come in at 8:20am and by 8:25am someone would ask me, "Is anyone doing the Triad yet?" What can I say? They loved them! I can't wait to introduce them to this year's group in just a few short weeks! 

Barbara has a choice item in my giveaway #6 so be sure to enter here. You  can grab a free Triad or Hink Pink if you win! The giveaway is open until Friday night so get your entries in now! Barbara also has lots of Hink Pink freebies in her TpT store and there's one more day of the TpT sale. What a great time to stock up on her goodies!

I wonder what Barbara will have in store for me next? I can't wait to find out!

Sunday, August 18, 2013

TpT Sale & Blogversary Love

Oh goodness, I am so filled with love! I love that all of my followers, new and old, are enjoying my Blogversary celebration and I'm thrilled to hear that you are all enjoying entering each amazing giveaway! I'm glad to have introduced you to new blogs and products that you will love. If you haven't already, be sure to scroll all the way down on the giveaway! I'm loving the comments that you are leaving. Our little collection of comments is a great read and a true inspiration for the teachers that we should all model ourselves after. Let's hope we can be as memorable as they were!

The giveaway runs until Friday night so you've got plenty of time to get all of your entries in.

Last night I didn't sleep because I was so excited for the start of my Blogversary celebration. Tonight I can't sleep because I can't stop adding things to my Teachers Pay Teachers cart. If you didn't already know, Teachers Pay Teachers giant back to school sale is running from the 18th-19th. If you're like me, you're moving massive amounts of products to your shopping cart. I'm going to complete my task card collection from Rachel Lynette, add lots of cute font and graphics from From the Pond, grab some math goodies from Jennifer Findley, and make a serious TpT splurge on these Science Interactive Notebooks. If after all is said and done, I even break even at the end of this month, I will be satisfied. I've spent the evening sprucing up a couple of my TpT items that no longer met my expectations. Gosh knows I'm a different seller today than I was one year ago!

I will shamelessly plug only one item of my own today and ask you to go to my store at Mrs. O to check out the rest. My best seller is my set of  Reader's Response Tic Tac Toe Boards. Last fall, I put my heart and soul in to creating these and for a year they have been my best selling item. I can assure you that I use them in my own classroom on a daily basis throughout the year and that my students love them. So if you don't have them, tomorrow and Monday are the best time to pick them up because...because...hmmm...oh, that's right! Because I'm offering 20% off of everything in my store and Teachers Pay Teachers will add an additional amount to give you a 28% discount off of your purchases! Wooohooo!


Happy shopping, my fabulous blogger friends! We're just a few hours from emptying our wallets! Who needs a new back to school wardrobe when you can have teacher resources? LOL 



Saturday, August 17, 2013

My One Year Blogversary and 200+ Follower Celebration!

Frame Credited to: www.traceeorman.com Wallpaper Credited to: Mrs. D's Firsties at www.teacherspayteachers.com/Store/Mrs-Ds-Firsties, Confetti & Streamers Credited to: http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Store/Gracies-Graphics

It's time to celebrate my one year blogversary AND also time to celebrate my followers! I hit the 200+ mark (between Bloglovin' and Blogger) last week and I did a little Snoopy happy dance because of it!

Reflection: What have I learned in my first year of blogging? To be patient, to socialize with other bloggers as much as I can, and about 20 different tricks to posting anything from pictures to links. Last year I was a newbie, and I feel much more knowledgeable now! I'm no pro by any means, but I'm slowly getting better. I have to shout out my friend Alison at Teaching Maths With Meaning. Without her, I wouldn't have been inspired to start a blog. She has given me great advice, answered a billion questions, and supported me throughout this journey. I am so lucky to have her in my life!

So most of you don't know me personally, but I'm a bit of an overachiever in pretty much every aspect of my life. Well, dear followers, my Blogversary Celebration is no exception. Since I'm celebrating followers and the first year of my blogging journey, I had to do something pretty special for you. So I've spent the last week putting together an amazing giveaway. I am going to call it "A Few of My Favorite Things" because I wanted it to include items that I LOVE.  I can say without a doubt that each of these SIX giveaways represents items or teachers whose resources I LOVE. I hope that you will enjoy this Blogversary Celebration! Thank you to everyone who has followed and supported me throughout the last year (and if you have just recently found me, thank you for joining me). I'm enjoying this journey in blogging and look forward to more incredible experiences in the future!

Ok, now get those fingers ready to click! You've got some seriously amazing giveaways to enter! All giveaways will last for one week, August 17-August 24. Due to the size of this giveaway, please be patient with me and give me a day or two to get the winners chosen and contacted after the giveaway ends. Thank you!


Giveaway #1: Name Plaque from Kasefazem Decor.

I found this store via Etsy and I've already purchased two items and know that I will purchase more as gifts for colleagues. Her plaques are so cute and she even makes Do Not Disturb signs, which I just ordered! Based out of Portugal, Vanda's service is top notch. I place an order and I hear from her right away. That's outstanding service! She is not only on top of things, but creates adorable plaques too. Also, her prices are totally reasonable! I really wanted one of my followers to have the chance to win one of these adorable plaques and Vanda has been gracious enough to donate one 4x8 custom plaque to one lucky winner. There are four styles to choose from as shown below (mine is at the top!) Good luck to the winner as it won't be easy to choose just one of these adorable plaques! By the way, she'll ship to a winner worldwide, so my favorite Aussie bloggers, be sure you get in on this giveaway too!



a Rafflecopter giveaway



Giveaway #2: Prize Pack #1 - A K-3 Shopping Spree!

Prize Pack #1 includes PK-3 resources for your classroom. You get a winner's choice item from my TpT store and a winner's choice item from each of five other amazing TpT stores! In addition, Frog Spot's From the Pond Store is giving you a $10 open order! A huge thank you to these amazing bloggers who contributed to this giveaway. If you haven't had the chance to check these blogs out, please make sure that you do!

Teaching in Progress
Frog Spot Blog From the Pond
Shifting Teacher K-2


a Rafflecopter giveaway


Giveaway #3: A Classroom Friendly Supplies Pencil Sharpener



Last week, I posted The Greatest Pencil Sharpener EVER Review. I LOVE this pencil sharpener so much and many of you commented on my post that you really want one too. Well, here's your chance to win one! And if you don't happen to win, you can always hop on over to Classroom Friendly Supplies and grab one. The price is great and the product...well, I think you already know how wonderful I think it is. Did I mention that the winner gets to pick their own color too? Wooohoooo!


a Rafflecopter giveaway


Giveaway #4: Prize Pack #2 - A 2-5 Shopping Spree!

Prize Pack #2 includes resources for grades 2-5. You get a winner's choice item from my TpT store and a winner's choice item from each of four other amazing TpT stores! A huge thank you to these amazing bloggers who contributed to this giveaway. If you haven't had the chance to check these blogs out, make sure that you do!

Don't Let the Teacher Stay Up Late
a Rafflecopter giveaway


Giveaway #5: A Classroom Set of 12 Quick Response Whiteboards from Trainers Warehouse

When I first began teaching, I wanted white boards for each student and my school did not have that supply. I searched for whiteboards that would be easy and fun for my students to use and ended up on the website of a training store where I found these amazing whiteboards! Let me tell you that my students LOVE these whiteboards and are constantly asking if they can use them. There is something about the paddle handle that they LOVE. When I first bought these, they were only one sided and they lasted through the use and abuse of my students for 8 years. Last year, I replaced the set because I saw that they had improved their product to include the whiteboard on both sides. The new ones are lighter too and even more durable than the last. I have a feeling that I will have them around for quite some time. So, clearly I love them, and I thought you might too! So here's your chance to get a classroom set of 12! Also, take a peak around the Trainers Warehouse Website when you can. They've got a lot of fantastic products for the classroom!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Giveaway #6: Prize Pack #3 - A K-5 Store Shopping Spree!

Prize Pack #3 includes a winner's choice item from myself and three stores that have items for every elementary grade level! Do you remember my blog post about Hink Pinks? Well, Barb Evans is sharing a winner's choice item in this pack! A huge thank you to these fantastic bloggers who contributed to this giveaway. If you haven't had the chance to check these blogs out, please make sure that you do!
The Meek Moose


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Surprise! A BONUS Giveaway!

I know, I know, I said 6, didn't I? But there's something about that lucky number 7. Plus, it's back to school time, and you really want to clear a few more items off of that TpT wishlist, don't you? Well then, ok...let's do one last giveaway for a $20 TpT gift certificate (or actually two $10 gift certificates)! You must comment below to be eligible. No clicking without commenting for this one!


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thanks again for making me feel loved. I love reading your comments, checking out your blogs, and sharing resources. It's been a great first year of blogging and I'm looking forward to sharing more and more with all of you!


Grab My Giveaway Picture:
Mrs. O Knows

Picture Credits: Frame Credited to: www.traceeorman.com Wallpaper Credited to: Mrs. D's Firsties at www.teacherspayteachers.com/Store/Mrs-Ds-Firsties, Confetti & Streamers Credited to: http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Store/Gracies-Graphics


If you're looking for even more fun giveaways (and who isn't?) my blogger friend Andrea at Reading Toward the Stars is having a Back to School Giveaway. Head on over and enter! You'll love her blog! 

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

I've Been Working on the Writing Prompts, All the Live Long Day...

You know how little ideas seep into your head and then they become big ideas? Well, one of those little ideas became a big idea that's been keeping me busy for the last few days!

As some of you already know, I teach in Virginia, one of four states that did not adopt the common core. Though we are not adopting those standards, the state has been changing our state standards to be more rigorous as well. Our fifth grade students have always taken a writing SOL (standards of learning), which is split between multiple choice and essay. Last year in late fall they released the prompts that students could potentially have for their essay portion. Well, there are 44 prompts and the students will only get one on testing day. Of course, we don't know which one, and not all students get the same one on testing day! Suffice it to say, it's great to have all of prompts in front of you, but it can be a bit overwhelming when you are thinking about exposing your students to each one! Last year, I worked diligently to prepare sample essay after sample essay, and I think that I've completed about 20 at this point, but God only knows that I can't expect my students to write 40 essays in a year. Since will be the first year that we have the prompts before the year begins, I'm trying to be better prepared.

So last week, I was chatting with one of my favorite colleagues and an idea popped in to my head: What if students completed a prompt a day at the beginning of writing each day with just one task in mind? There are 44 prompts. If I give them a prompt a day for 44 days and just have them do a five-minute brainstorm, then they will have been exposed to each at least once by Thanksgiving! Then, for the next 44 days they can fill out a graphic organizer for each prompt, which will mean they are exposed twice! AND THEN (bonus points if you get the Dude, Where's My Car? reference) they will do a paragraph each day for 44 days. Essentially, I have the potential to expose them to each prompt THREE times, and that's not even counting the explicit writing instruction and practice they will complete with several of these prompts. Sometimes I love these ideas that pop in to my head.

So for three days I've been working on days 1-44, creating a prompt slide for each prompt that I can display for the whole class, and then creating prompt strips which students will get to glue in to their writing journals (hi ho, ho ho, it's off to Walmart I go for 17 cent notebooks!). Alas, I still have two more sets to create for the remaining days, but I've got days 1-44 covered.

In addition, I did get to spend some time in my classroom this week. I've made enough progress to say (right now) that I am going to enjoy the next week off. That doesn't mean I won't be working from home, but it does mean that I might be working from home by the pool!

One of my accomplishments this week was that I bought a small bulletin board (24 x 36), wrapped it in cute black swirly fabric, and created my jobs chart from it. I don't have a ton of bulletin board space and need a good amount of space for word walls so I stole an idea from a coworker and got the board, which can easily lean against the windows!  Here's a couple of pics. My cat Brewster insisted on being in the "before" the owls picture. Seriously, he wouldn't leave that board alone!


I had to condense two jobs to make all of these fit, but I'm quite happy with the outcome. These are large owl cut outs. The students will each get a small owl cutout with their name on it when I introduce jobs during the first week. When they select a job their little owl will get pinned next to the owl with their job on it. As you probably guessed, all of those students without jobs for the week will be "on vacation".

We have a board outside of our classroom that we share with our neighboring teammate. My teammate across the hall already came in the other day and put his board up. What's awesome is that he's a Charlie Brown fan, so our boards usually compliment each other quite well. This year I bought this awesome You Can Do Anything Snoopy Bulletin Board Set from Really Good Stuff. As mentioned before, I also invested in two giant rolls of fadeless paper in green and blue. I don't know about you, but I get pretty darn happy when my roll fits the length and width of the board! Woohoo! Anyway, I was inspired to get this up and I am thrilled to pieces with how it came out. Sooooooo cute! I just know our students are going to love our "Snoopified" area! Hooray for feeling accomplished!