Monday, November 24, 2014

Seminar in the Classroom

As educators, we like to chat with each other about things that go well with teaching and things that we can work on to make our teaching better.  Our students can do the same thing during a seminar.  Some call it Socratic or Paideia Seminar but all in all, it's about the same thing.

When I first heard about doing a seminar, I was completely overwhelmed.  I didn't know what it was and I certainly didn't know how to do it.  Over the past few weeks I have been researching, as well as working with my team to develop our first seminar for our first graders.  I like to have careful guidance when I'm doing something new with my students so they feel comfortable learning and communicating with each other, even though I may not be comfortable with trying something new.  I came up with several resources that made this transition helpful for me (and my team) to conduct our first seminar.

Here are a few of the resources that are included in "Talking with Friends: SEMINAR":
I have included an explanation of what seminar is (in kid friendly words), reasons why seminar is so great, seminar procedures, tips to conducting a great seminar, seminar guidelines, student goal choices, student reflection on goals, talk helpers (in case students get stumped and can't think of anything else to say), teacher question stems (to help guide the conversation in the right direction), and participation logs (to keep track of how the students talk with each other).

Your students will love having the opportunity to talk to each other as they develop speaking skills necessary in everyday life.  If you have tried seminar, please leave some feedback on things that work well and things that are a challenge for you.  I would love to get more teachers on board with this collaborative teaching method.  Give it a try and share your thoughts! :-)

Friday, August 1, 2014

Kids Can BLOG Too!!

I've been thinking about incorporating a blogging program
into my classroom and then I had an epiphany....

Kids can BLOG about the books they READ!!

We all know that responding to reading increases reading comprehension and we always have our students respond in a reading journal using paper and pencil.


Why not have our students respond to their stories in the form of a blog post??

Blogging about the stories they read will allow collaboration between students and even parents. Students will be able to reflect on their stories and get excited about learning.  See below for resources on how to use reading responses as blog posts.

I will be using Kidblog (a free blogging site for students) this year and let me just tell you that the set up process is super easy.  It doesn't take long at all but if you start it now, then once you get your class list, you'll be able to get your students blogging sooner.

Click on this picture for set up instructions:

Technology makes anything fun!! We have to get our students to read and have fun at the same time. Blogging about reading will allow us to do that.  Set up an account with Kidblog and get your students started early so they can blog independently by the end of the school year.  

I know that starting anything new is always scary, especially when it involves technology, so.....
I have created a few products to help you with the process. 

Blogging for Little Learners will help you implement the blogging program.  You can give your own blog prompts, use the ones included in this product, or just let your students blog about anything they want.  Just be careful to set your blog settings where the teacher has to approve blog posts before they are public.  

Click on the link below to take a closer look at Blogging for Little Learners.  
You can also download the preview for some FREEBIES.
"Blogging for Little Learners" provides you with everything you need to start blogging:

Purposes of blogging - explanation about why blogging is beneficial
About blogging - information for parents about blogging
Teacher duties - everything you need to know to get the ball rolling
Parent permission form - you must have permission before starting
Internet safety guide - students need to know how to be safe online
Blogging guidelines - instructions about how to blog
Password cards - students need to know where to go to log in
How to make a blog post - labeled picture showing how to post
Guidelines for commenting - instructions for how to comment
Blogging Rubric - grading blog posts will keep students accountable
4 Choice boards - ideas for blogging about reading
Graphic organizer - "My First Blog Post"

If you want your students to be consistent with what they're blogging about, then you could have them blog about what they are reading.  Students read a book, respond to the reading using reading response sheets, and then use that sheet to drive their conversation for their blog post. 

Your students can use these Reading Response Sheets before heading to the computer.  They can be used individually (if you prefer not to do the blogging thing) or along with "Blogging for Little Learners" (if you decide to take the blogging plunge).  

The reading response download contains:
4 choice boards along with response sheets for each choice:
Back to school - easy "make a list" prompts
Fiction - 9 responses to any fiction text
Nonfiction - 9 responses to any nonfiction text
Opinion - opinion prompt template

 I have the BUNDLE available as well:

 I encourage you to step into the 21st century and give your students the opportunity to write their VERY FIRST blog post!!  I'm sure it will make your students feel important and parents will have something to brag about as well.  :-)

Monday, July 28, 2014

End of Summer Sale

As we are all aware, August is creeping up on us quickly. The race will begin soon (if it hasn't already) and over the next several weeks we will be preparing our classrooms for open house

In order to help you get your classroom ready, I am offering my last sale of the summer.

Enjoy 20% off at my TPT store and 30% off at my Teacher's Notebook store.
My TPT sale will end July 30 and my Teacher's Notebook store will end August 28.

Get your data notebooks ready now so you can start the process right away.
My #1 Best Seller:
My Data Notebook {keeping students accountable} with EDITA

Some other back to school fan favorites are:

My #2 Best Seller: 
Reading Strategy Posters{Polka Dots}
Use these reading strategy posters to teach decoding skills at the beginning of the school year.  Your students will be able to relate to the animals and remember the strategies to figure out tricky words.

Guided Reading Book Bin Labels
 Use these lettered labels for your book bins or for your word wall.  The bright colors will make your room colorful and inviting.

Monthly Themed Reading Logs
Start your year off right with these monthly themed reading logs.  Your students can use these logs to track the books they read during workshop time or at home for homework.  They will love the themed pictures they can color in as they read or when they're finished.

Lunch Box Sign FREEBIE
Use this lunch box poster FREEBIE to label the area for your students to put their lunch boxes.  This colorful poster is sure to brighten your room.

Polka Dots {Circle Table/Group Signs}
These circle labels come in "table" and "group" titles.  It's another FREEBIE!  I like to use these signs on my group baskets.  It adds some color to the student desk area.

Enjoy getting your classroom ready!  I'm counting down the days until I can get back into my classroom to start decorating. 

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

NEW and IMPROVED Data Notebook

I'm very proud to announce a NEW feature added to my #1 best seller "My Data Notebook".  You will now be able to edit the pages in order to personalize them for your individual student needs.  This feature was inspired by a special education teacher who needed space to write her students' goals.  You will love all of the possibilities that come with personalizing this product.  
Download this data notebook for K-2 students, as well as students with specific goals.  

Check it out here:

Keeping your students accountable just got BETTER!!

Monday, June 23, 2014

HOT Summer SALE and a Pizza Party

I'm beyond thrilled to be home for the summer!  In the 2 weeks that I've been home, I've been able to accomplish so much!  As a teacher, I find it difficult to do "spring cleaning" because that one week we have off in the spring is usually devoted to actually breathing and taking a mental break.  

So far this summer, I've completed 95% of my spring cleaning, had several trips to our community pools (been trying to find out which one we like best), spent some quality time with my boys and husband, I actually got to lay outside to try to get some color on my white skin, AND I was able to finalize this product that I completed at the end of the school year.  

I hope that you might be able to use this super cool pizza unit, "Pizza Party," sometime during the upcoming school year!!  It's definitely a good one!!  There are 13 literacy activities that include a variety of different skills to practice.  Your students will enjoy sorting pizza themed nouns, writing about how to make a pizza, and building words using the letters in the words "pepperoni pizza".  There are 12 math activities ranging from addition/subtraction games, measuring pizza themed pictures, and counting using base ten cubes.  I was able to use these activities with my students and they LOVED learning with pizza.  We had a pizza party at the end of the week to celebrate the end of the school year.  Click on the photo below to check it out:

I am running a sale on all of my products to celebrate summer relaxation.  There are 2 sales running between my Teachers Notebook store and my TPT store.  

Enjoy 50% off all products from my Teachers Notebook store from June 23-July 23.  

Enjoy 20% off all products from my TPT sale from June 27-June 30.  

My new unit "Pizza Party" has been posted at both stores...check it out now for a GREAT price!!
Have a wonderful summer and don't forget to take some time for yourself.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Reflections and Under Water Graphing

As we are approaching the end of the school year, I have been reflecting on my year as a teacher, a mother, and a wife.  It has been a different kind of year for me with many changes:
I am about to finish my first year of teaching at a new school and I'm so happy that this opportunity fell into my lap.  I have made some great friendships and am fortunate to have a wonderful grade level that supports my opinions and decisions.  I can't wait to find out what the next school year will bring. I'm already thinking about how to rearrange my classroom. :-)
My son, Gavin, started kindergarten this year and will soon be a big first grader.  He continues to amaze me and reminds me every so often that he's growing up.  I guess he thinks it's funny to see my reaction of grief, because I just want him to stay little.  He continues to tell me that after first grade, he will be in 2nd...3rd...4th...5th...and so on!  Landen, my 3 year old, is always trying to be like his big brother.  He is intrigued in whole "going to school" thing and can't wait to come to the "big boy" school.  He's my challenge but always keeps life interesting.
My husband and I bought a house right next to my new school and I couldn't be happier to be so close.  It makes my commute to and from school much easier!  I was recently diagnosed with epilepsy and that has caused the most changes in my life.  It has really been a challenge to deal with but my husband has been so supportive and gentle.  I am so grateful to have him right by my side, taking care of me and really focusing on my well being.  I think that this has had a great impact on me as a wife and it has allowed me to take advantage of each day that is given to me.

Now onto the Under Water Graphing smart board lessons!!
I just recently finished this smart board presentation to go with our graphing unit.  It's one of the few products that I have posted this year.  Click on the picture above to check it out in my TPT store.  I'm hoping that I will have more time this summer to get caught up and make some new and exciting products for you to explore.  There are some really cute and engaging slides that will keep your students excited about graphing each day!  Here's what's included:
There are several videos and video clips embedded on each of the pages.  I have also included a link to an online graphing website that will allow you to create your own graph!!  It's super cool!!  
 Your students will learn about the different kinds of graphs and how to read them.  They will learn how to create a graph and how to compare the data.  The best part of the presentation will be the last two activities!!  Your students will love the spin and graph game!!  You can use this game as a math center and they can click on numerous links to play some graphing games.
I hope you all enjoy your students for the next few days/weeks of school!  Hopefully they aren't too crazy for you!  Just remember that you are leaving your mark on each and every one of them.  They will remember you for the rest of their life.  That's one of the best parts of being a teacher!  
Have a wonderful week!  Summer is almost here!

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Alligator Research Bundle {with Math and Literacy}

I'm starting to get a little stir crazy after this long 5 day weekend due to the massive snow storm we got in North Carolina.  We had early dismissal on Tuesday and school was cancelled on Wednesday, Thursday, AND Friday!!  Plus the's now Sunday and I'm ready to go back to school!  (Wait...did I just say I wanted to go back to work!?! lol)  Anyway, I'm glad to say that all this time off allowed me to finish my new product that I've been working on!  YAY!! (I know, right!!) 
GET 5 FREEBIES FROM THIS UNIT----click the picture below and download the preview!!
READ MORE to find out how to get the entire unit for FREE!!
I've been creating products for over 2 years now and I've learned so much in the process.  My first products contained a TON of color and I never realized how costly it was to print.  I guess it's the little things that I took for granted.  Now that I'm at a new school (without a color printer), I've been printing my own color copies either at home or I send them to the UPS store.  Now that I understand how impractical colored units are, I have jumped on the print n' go trend and created a triple threat product for you!  I introduce you to the PRACTICAL, all black and white, printable unit that contains Alligator Research, Alligator Themed Math Activities, and Alligator Literacy Activities!!
Your students will be so excited to take learning into their own hands when they are able to visit various websites to learn about such a cool topic (the boys especially!).
 They will also be able to listen to alligator themed fictional read alouds using the literacy connection links.
Your students will continue to be engaged throughout their math and literacy practice because it all follows the same theme!  There are over 40 activities included in this unit.
 I just love doing research projects with my students!!  
We have researched penguins, polar bears, pants, and famous African-Americans.

What research topics have you talked about or done with your students??

SHARE your favorite topic by commenting on this post.  

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

UBD Units: ELA and Math

I have had a lot of requests for the UBD units that my team created last year.  This post will explain the UBD model and also give you resource links to the units that my team created.

UBD or Understanding By Design is a new way of teaching that's basically a backwards design.  You come up with the assessment first and then create your teaching sequence geared toward the assessment.  (Kinda like teaching to the test.)  The units are designed to teach the most important topics at the beginning of the school year and these topics are usually taught longer due to the complexity.  You basically want to dig really deep into the minds of your students so they REALLY master the skill.  The phrase I have heard that's best used to describe this teaching method is:
"Teach a mile deep and an inch wide"
"Teaching an inch deep and a mile wide"  
In my opinion, the old way of teaching (spiraled) teaches students a mile wide because we are teaching a million different topics (a mile long) every other day (ok, I know...I'm exaggerating!)  But really, how much of this information taught really sinks in??  I believe that the UBD units help students to have more time learning a topic instead of bouncing around all year long.

The new school that I moved to does not use the UBD's but I do miss using them.  It makes total sense to teach deeply instead of just skimming the surface like the spiraled units of the past.  I'm hoping that my county will adopt the UBD model soon because this spiraling of units is driving me crazy.  LOL!  END RANT! :-)

Here are the links to the ELA and Math units that we created:

These should be ELA units 3-8.  We didn't do unit 1-2 at the beginning of the school year.  We started our UBD's on unit 3. 

Unit 3: Characters

Unit 4: Nonfiction

Unit 5: Fix-Up Strategies

Unit 6: Reading Across Genres 

Unit 7: Thinking Deeply About Characters

Unit 8: Reading Science Topics


Unit 1: Numbers and Place Value

Unit 2: Addition/Subtraction Word Problems

Unit 3: Fact Fluency-Unknowns-Adding 3 Numbers

Unit 4: Comparing-Adding 2-Digit Numbers-10 More/10 Less

Unit 5: True/False and Unknowns

Unit 6: Data and Graphing

Unit 7: Geometry

Unit 8: Fractions

I hope these units will help you plan your next UBD or lesson plan.  The units are not completed to perfection so please feel free to overlook any mistakes...they were created with limited time during the school year.  Each unit takes 1-2 hours to complete.  I know you can imagine trying to squeeze these units into the regular planning time that teachers are given.  I was fortunate to work with an awesome team of first grade teachers that were dedicated to creating these units with me.

Have a wonderful week!!

Sunday, January 19, 2014

2 Year Anniversary: Double Sale

It's been 2 years since I entered the blogging and TPT world!  I never imagined that I would be where I am today!  Everything in my life changed after realizing that I had a creative outlet for all of the ideas that were jumbled in my brain.  

When I created my very first product, I worked on it for an entire month.  (I know, crazy...right?!)  I was so proud of it when I was finished but decided to post it for FREE on TeachersPayTeachers just so I could get noticed.  Looking back on that product, I can't believe how far I have gone 
(It's a lil

After seeing the progress in downloads from my freebie,  my first paid product was posted. I can remember the very second that I made my very first TPT sale!  I never knew my legs could move so fast!!  I ran upstairs to tell my husband and we just celebrated!  I am so grateful for everyone of you that show an interest by reading and following me.  My motivation comes from all of YOU!  Thank you so much for all that you do!

In celebration, I am offering a 
DOUBLE Anniversary SALE!

You can take advantage of 20% off at my TPT store and 50% off at my Teacher's Notebook store.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Reading Workshop Resources

Reading Workshop is a wonderful part of the day and sometimes can be overwhelming with all that is included. I have created some posters for you to hang up as reminders for what to do and what to say in order to maximize your reading time. 

Here is a recommended schedule of the reading workshop components. This sequence works very well and my students respond well to the sequence. I like to do journal writing after we read so students can write a response to what they read. We use sticky note codes while we are reading so we can remember our favorite part, a funny or surprising part, or a part that made them wonder. I really try to increase their connections by thinking while reading. This helps them remember the story and thus comprehend better. 
Within reading workshop, is my favorite part of teaching first grade...guided reading!!  This part of my day is amazing because I get to see their growth right in front of me. I love to encourage students to be better readers by giving them the tools in order to be successful readers.  By doing so, you should teach your guided reading lessons in a meaningful sequence. Therefore, I have also created a schedule of activities to follow during your groups. 
Along with the schedule, are some posters of things to talk about before, during, and after reading. This can be done during reading groups or during your Interactive Read Aloud (IRA). Here is the "Before" poster. Check out my TPT store for more information and to view the "During" and "After" posters. 
Once you understand the schedule and the components of reading workshop, you can begin adding meaningful questions to enhance the comprehension of your readers. It's pointless to read a book if you can't understand what's going on. These posters will give you some actions to do with your students and questions to ask before, during, and after reading with your reading group or when doing an Interactive Read Aloud. These posters come in full size and also in quarter sheets like this one. You can print these out for parents as a resource to use at home. It's helpful for parents to have questions to ask during the reading process that are the same as those modeled in the classroom. 
During the INTERACTIVE read aloud, students should be interacting with one another in order to stimulate text conversations. This helps to enhance their reading skills as well as those listening and speaking skills that are necessary in first grade. This poster will be a reminder of the interactive choices you can make during your IRA. It helps to change up the activities so your students don't get bored by doing the same activities over and over again. 
There has been a huge push for students to think critically and to create their own ideas in order to have a better understanding of what they're learning. According to the revised Bloom's Taxonomy, students should be analyzing, creating, and evaluating.  In order to increase higher levels of thinking while reading, you can practice these "Higher Order Thinking Skills" (HOTS) by asking deep comprehension questions. When students can find a simple answer in the text or remember that the characters name was Henry, they are answering lower level questions that doesn't require a lot of brain power. We want students to think deeply about the texts they are reading or listening to. Those low level knowledge questions like, "Who were the characters?" or "Where were they?" do not help students think deeply. It merely skims the surface of their comprehension of the text and also the world around them. We want students to make connections with the text by evaluating why the characters did a certain thing or acted a certain way. These questions will help your questioning techniques in order to increase reading comprehension. 
When you assign nightly reading for your students to complete, you can use these cute coloring reading logs to make recording their books a little more fun. You can also use these reading logs in the classroom to keep track of books read during silent reading. 

I have provided two different reading log designs for you to choose from with 16 different themes. 

You can choose from: Option 1 - Students will read a book and color the picture or Option 2 - Students will read for x amount of minutes and then color a picture. I like option 2 because it can be differentiated.

The 16 themes included in this download are:
Polar Bears
St. Patrick's Day
Farm Animals
Flies (Insects)
I hope these reading workshop resources will be helpful for you to use in your classroom. To download any of the posters, please visit my TPT store at

If you have any questions or comments, I would love to hear them. Do you follow the same format for reading workshop or do your do something different?  I would love to hear your thoughts. 
Sorry for such a long post!  My brain has been on break for way too long and I absolutely needed to release some built up sharing. Thanks for listening/reading. 

Enjoy the rest of your week!!