Saturday, April 26, 2014

Mystery Box Giveaway for April

oh. Em. Gee. People.  The mystery box giveaway this month is uh-may-zing!  I am soooo excited about it; I've completed every entry I can possibly get my hot lil' hands on.  This month, the giveaway is being hosted by...well, I'm not sure?  It's a mystery.....for now!

The giveaways however, are not.

Here is a peek at all the fabulous teachers involved in this month's giveaway.  They have all generously donated gift certificated to their stores.
As if that wasn't enough.....there's this....
Have you heard of these?  The uber-perfect teacher shoe!  Flat, comfortable, brightly colored!!  WANT!!!
So, head on over, and enter for your chance at all of these amazing prizes.  Can't wait to unfold the mystery of who's the winner this month!  

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

STAAR Test eve and some games....

Tomorrow's the big day.  I think these memes will put into words exactly how I feel.  

I thought I'd share a little of what we do to help break up the monotony of test prep.  I've seen lots of neat ideas for games, but I prefer things that are simple and versatile.  
I use my Classroom Response clickers religiously.  I know these are kind of a luxury item, but how about a more cost effective version.....Eggspert?!  About $30 on Amazon, and totally worth it.
more like a "beat the clock game," the kids click their egg & the first one to buzz in--lights up!  A classroom favorite.  On the same note, we only have 2 sets of eggs, so the rest of them use "push lights."  I find these at the dollar store, and they love to see them light up when they "buzz" in their answers. 
Still haven't seen anything that'll work in your classroom?  Another option is a pinch card.  You print out, laminate, and give each student a thumb card.  Once you pose your question, they respond by "pinching" the answer on their card.  All you have to do is walk around and monitor comprehension.  
 Pinch Cardsclick the pic to download!
Another favorite response game is good ol' 4 corners.  Same drill,  Ask a question, students solve, but you have posted 4 numbers around the room, they walk and stand by the number that corresponds to their answer.  

I hope you can use a few of these ideas to make getting ready for that state assessment a little more bearable!  
Don't worry, Ryan believes in got this!

Also.....did you notice my blog design changed?  Thanks to Megan over at A Bird in the Hand Designs for making my blog a little more upper elementary friendly!

Monday, April 21, 2014

It's The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year! & a freebie!

It's that time of year again.  Time for our kiddos to show all they know!  That's right, test-taking season!  *cue the music *

In honor of this sometimes stressful time of year, I like to remind my students how much I appreciate all their hard work.  I find little treats are a great way to give them that motivation & let them know I'm thinking about them!  I thought i'd share some of the cute ideas I've found.

This is the original version, click the link....

and this is mine.  I have a few fonts I prefer, I'm weird.

Here's one that would be cute as a snack....
click the pics to link to print your free tags!
i found these over at krazee 4 kindergarten, very cute! 
Hope these inspire you to reward all your kids hard work!  Leave me a comment on how you plan to motivate your kiddos these next few weeks!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Math fun & a freebie!

Tomorrow is Good Friday, and as a result of the crazy Texas weather.....we have to go to school.  That snow day isn't sounding so fun anymore.
An extra day with my kids means some extra fun!  We've been working so hard getting ready for the STAAR; they deserve a break.  We're having a "Spring celebration" tomorrow, complete with Takis,

 nachos, pickle-flavored Pringles (their request)
movie, and an easter egg hunt.  Cause what says Happy Easter better than junk food?!

Before all those shenanigans, we will be reviewing (seems to be a common theme this time of year.)  I thought a scavenger hunt would be a fun way to practice multi-step word problems.  Basically all the answers to these multi-step problems are room numbers at our school.  They will solve their problems, and the answer will tell them what room number they will find their next question.  Pretty simple!  I also added QR codes in there because I'm always looking for meaningful ways to integrate technology.  So, they'll work in pairs with their iPad and recording sheet to work through all 8 problems.  Click the picture to download this freebie.  Directions are included.  There is also a non-QR version embedded in the file.

In order for this to work, you'll have to have the same room numbers as us.  Otherwise, just use it as a self-checking workstation.  Leave me a comment & let me know if your students enjoyed it!  
Hoppy Friday!  

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Fund for Teachers, hipster water, and a sale.......

     What am I #obsessed with right now?  Not taxes, that's fo' sho.

Well, with my knee on the verge of being halfway back to normal; I'm all about getting it back into shape.  6 weeks of nada-zip-zilch movement has left it a weak, lifeless blob.  I'm a work in progress, but I'm on the mend!  I'm back to hydrating, and that means water. Lots of water.  I get kinda bored with agua.  The other blog I stalk,, just came out with a new water diffuser.  Looks legit.  I'm a sucker, I ordered one.  Hey, I need all the motivation I can get!  Check it out, she even posted a youtube video with a recipe for your fancy-hipster water. It even comes with her cheeky sayings, I of course, chose purple AXE EM!
     What else am I obsessed with this week?  Planning my summer!!  Miss Salinas and I just found out we were awarded our grant through Fund For Teachers!  
If you haven't heard of this organization, check them out.  They award thousands of dollars each year to teachers.  Start thinking about your pitch for next year & get that application submitted! 

     I can't tell you how excited we are about this.  We will spend 2 weeks in New York at Columbia University to attend Lucy Calkins Reading & Writing Institutes.  
WOW.  I am in awe of all the awesomeness we are going to take in!  Part of the grant will be a video blog on the shenanigans (learning only, of course) during the 2 weeks we are there.  So, y'all will definitely be kept updated.  

     In honor of what we're all looking forward to today.....taxes being being all said and done; I'm jumping on the bandwagon and throwing a sale!  
Stop on by, look around & cruise all the sales going on today!  

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Another fabulous free website!  Heard of it?  I am loving it right now!
Yeah, I know, it isn't the prettiest site design, BUT...............
The product of this amazing free web based program is amaze-balls!  Everyone has heard of and by now.  Ya know, word clouds.  Well, this is like a word cloud on crack!  My biggest issue with word clouds is the jumble that you are left with.  Great for brainstorming, but not much else.  Enter: Festisite.  
This website lets you type or copy & paste your own text and create shapes ......wait for it..............and the words retain their order and meaning!  Fascinating!  They offer a spiral, heart, maze, or waves.  Hey, they'll even make a banner out of your writing to hang in hallway (I hope you have a few reams of paper--they print one letter per page.) 
So easy, just go to their website, and choose "Instant Creativity" from the pull down menu.  From that menu, choose text layout.  
Then, all you have to do is enter your writing. 
click the "Layout Text" after you've chosen your shape
And then this magical website generates a .pdf file of your twisted up writing.....all words in perfect order!  
BAM!  (arrows not included) 
Simple as that.  I truly hope you can utilize this website.  It's free, and would work for any grade level any subject.  
Happy Sunday!

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Blog Stalking and test stressing.....

     I don't know about you, but I am really OVER testing at this point.  I feel we've done what we need to do in the classroom, and my kids are ready for these tests.  Do ya hear me scary assessment-creators?!

*No more freaking out, making sure my kids recognize the format of the questions.
*No more sleepless nights worrying that I didn't practice with them enough on their test taking strategies.
I trust my kids, and I know, they got this!

     One tip we've been using this year to tackle those grueling passages is a short summary next to each paragraph.  And by short, I mean 2-3 words or a picture.  Just something to jog their memory to the main idea of that paragraph, without having to go through the whole thing all over again.  Warning: when we first started they were obsessed with drawing.  I had to have a "come to Jesus" and remind them this isn't supposed to be the next Sistine Chapel, just a little more than 30 seconds spent on it.  This has been a timesaver and I've really noticed their comprehension has improved since we started this strategy.

     It's just that time of year.  We're all worrying about those monster state assessments.  It might be Common Core, or maybe the fear-inducing STAAR test; but we all worry.  Why?  We love our kids, and we want them to show all the learning they've done this year!

     One of my colleagues, Miss Salinas has started posting some pretty rad stuff on TPT.  She's a reading specialist, and she really knows her stuff!  Best of all, she's bilingual & is making resources in BOTH english and spanish.  She has some really great workstations; everything from text features to word walls, vocabulary, poetry, and also some test taking workstations.  I am a believer in her strategies.  I have seen my kids using them, and their scores are climbing up!  So, if you get a minute sometime between lesson planning and spring fever.......stop by and say hi to Miss Salinas.  Tell her I sent ya.......

What do you think of her stuff?  Do you have a tried-and-true test taking tip? Leave me a comment!

Braaaaaaaains.......Freebies, Zombies, & Homographs

Match made in heaven?!  Possibly.  I, much like my students, am obsessed with zombies.  I look forward to the Walking Dead each week, and I habitually watch episodes on Hulu to get my fix.

Playing on what my students (and myself) are interested in, I created a zombie workstation!  Vocabulary is a huge struggle in my class, and we do whatever we can to practice and understand new words.  I tell them everyday the only way to grow their vocabulary is to read.  Plain and simple.
But zombies, they listen to zombies.
This station includes 4 different activities which are tried and true.  Task Cards, a no brainer.  A Matching game; match the word with the 2 different definitions.  A Scoot! game (one of our favorites) Tape the cards to their desks & let them scoot to the next desk each couple of minutes.....great for those kinetic learners.  Lastly, a gallery walk.  Tape the cards around the room & in the hallway; your students can walk around and show what they know!

It's Saturday & I'm feeling saucy!  Click on the pic below for a freebie version of this station.  If you like-y, swing by my TPT for the full version.
 Zombie Freebie!

If anyone has any other ideas for teaching vocabulary, please share! Leave me a comment if you download, I'd love to hear from ya!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

April Currently

well, I'm a little late with this one but hey......better late than never!

I've been a little busy these past few months.  Getting ready for my first STAAR test as a 5th grade teacher, knee surgery, and just life in general.

Good news, STAAR Test is just a week away.  Bad news, STAAR Test is just a week away.  Lolz :)

So, guilty pleasures.  I have a few, but I'd say reality TV will be my downfall.  I am OBSESSED with it!  I love me some Teen Mom, The Little Couple, Dance Moms, and I'm sure there are more...I just can't think right now.  Thank God for DVR and Hulu, otherwise I'd never see my favorite shows.  

The other thing on my mind right now is my knee.  You know......the gimpy one.  So far, it looks like my surgery was a success!  It's been a bumpy road.  This whole "No weight on it for 8 weeks" thing has really cramped my style.  No shopping, no driving, no walking in general!  I have found a creative way to get around school.  It's a knee scooter, but I found it's way more effective to ride it like a horse.  The kids think it's hilarious, and I just like not having to "crutch it" everywhere.  Next week is the big day though.  I find out if I'll be able to walk on my knee, my Dr. calls it "as tolerated."  Oh, I'll tolerate it all right.  I'd do annnnnything to get off crutches!  

What's this word mean?

How many times a day do I hear this phrase uttered in my classroom?! I know the best way for my kids to learn new vocabulary is to read, but sometimes they need a little push! So....I thought I'd share my vocabulary routine with you. I use this as my morning work, and my kids are trained now. They come in, grab a dictionary, get out their vocabulary ring, and they get started acquiring those words! Pretty simple concept, 2 new words to explore each day. I put a paper with words on each table; I also mix it up with QR codes sometimes. Whether they scan a QR code, or read it off a paper; the format is the same. They are looking at the word, and a sentence using that new word. Not only do they have to look up the definition; they also have to find the correct definition based on the context clues. 2 TEKS, 1 task! They Frayer model each word, I use various headings....synonyms, antonyms, definition, use it in a sentence, part of speech. When they finish, they add their new word to their "vocabulary ring," which is actually just a collection of cards held together by a binder ring. They love it because they can flip through it, and they are also obsessed with clipping them to the legs of their desks for a unique storage solution. If you'd like to use the "amazing" words I use each week; check out my Vocabulary Routine packs. I follow Reading Street's curriculum, 10 new "amazing" words each week. Even if you don't use RS; they are still great vocabulary enrichment! I'm also putting together QR codes for each word for you techies out there! TEKS aligned!! How about y'all? What do you do to help your kiddos expand their knowledge base of vocabulary?