Saturday, November 17, 2012

Data Binders and Free Fonts!

Hey Y'all! I've created a few pages for my data binders. I played with different fonts for the cover. I'm not going to go crazy with the pages in the binder yet, I'm really going to let my kids lead the way for these binders. I do have some basic pieces that I know I want in there for sure. 

When we get back from Thanksgiving break, it will be my first day back from maternity leave. I think it's a perfect time to reestablish rules, expectations and procedures. A great time to introduce data binders! Yay!

I'm going to start slow. We will work on our mission statement first. If you aren't familiar with The Leader in Me, one of the basic principles is beginning with the end in mind. As a class, we created a mission statement that reminds us of who we are and where we are going.    
I'm going to have my students create a mission statement for themselves. Who are they, why are they coming to school, what do they hope to do when they are here? (I wrote our classroom mission statement on one of the pages in Google Docs.) 

That first week back I also want my students to apply for a leadership role in the classroom. They all have had experience with the leadership roles and now they will pick one that they want to keep for a 9 weeks. Of course, they can't all get the same role so I'm having them list other choices. 

In addition, my kids will set home goals and school goals. (One for each.) Once we have some school goals, I'll be creating graphs for record keeping and they can place those graphs in their binders. Some students may have behavioral goals and some will have academic. I'm pretty excited about getting them together and I'll make sure to post pics and pages as we get them going. If you do these in your room please comment! I would love to hear different ideas!

Also, I found some super cute free fonts at Rowdy in Room 300. Really, really cute!! :)

Friday, November 16, 2012

First day back in my room and The Leader in Me stuff

Hey Y'all! Today I went by my school and took my baby boy for all the teachers to meet. He's about 8 weeks now and just SO precious. My husband came to pick up baby Jackson so I could go to my classroom and see my kiddos. They were very excited to see me and very excited I will be back after Thanksgiving break. I was super happy to see them too but after they all left and I met with my long term sub...I have to admit, I'm freaking out!!!

You know how it feels when you've been gone one day...imagine 7 weeks! Eek! I also have the inclusion class which means I have to document, modify, accommodate and teach a little bit harder. So I have my work cut out for me when I get back. I'm trying to remind myself baby steps, baby steps, breathe, breathe! :)

So my room was pretty messy, not going to lie. Things were not in places they should be but I am going to have to just let that go until I can get things back the way I want. I don't know if you are familiar with The Leader in Me but we started that at our school this year. Here's a pick of our leader board:

Now I know it seems like it's just a job board, which it kind of is. But we take the approach that this is each child's leadership role in the classroom. We talk a lot about being proactive and showing leadership throughout the day. The children have had experience with each job at this point in the year. When we get back from Thanksgiving I'm going to start "data binders" for each individual student. I'm going to start SLOWLY with this. I don't want to overhwhelm myself or my students.

In the data binders I plan on having my students set goals and record their progress as they go. As I create pages for the data binders I'll post them here so y'all can check them out. If anyone else out there does these, I'd love some pointers!

Also before I go, found out about an awesome website with a super cool behavior management system. It's called Class Dojo. A 3rd grade teacher on my team implemented it last week and I am going to start when we get back from Thanksgiving. I'm super excited you should check it out! :)

Happy Friday!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

I Heart Teachers Pay Teachers! Don't You?

Hey Y'all! I was sitting here on my laptop getting my lesson plans ready for when I go back after Thanksgiving. I looked at my district's scope and sequence and saw that we will be working on place value and two digit addition. I immediately started scrambling, looking for what I had on place value and what I can get together. Our district uses math Investigations and Envision, some lessons are great but some...well...stink! So many times I find myself creating my own games, lessons and activities like most of y'all out there!

So what did I do? I ran to TPT of course! I LOVE TPT!!! I just can't say it enough. TPT has saved me so many times! Just when I think I have to do a boring activity because I don't have time to get something cuter/more fun together, TPT saves me. I love that all the hard work and creativity of teachers can be shared and that those teachers can profit from them! Of all the professions out there, we are the only one that has to spend money on our job. Well we don't HAVE to but we want to so that we can make things better for our kids. I just absolutely love that teachers can now be paid back and rewarded for their creativity and hard work.

I also love that I can create units for my classroom and share them with other teachers out there! I love that I can do for teachers what they have done for me. I just purchased some place value packets from Cara Carroll and Fourth and Ten. I'm so excited about using them. And I'm so excited I don't have to spend hours upon hours creating my own things when I just don't have the time.

Ok just had to get that out there! I think I also just had an ADD moment, I was in the process of downloading my place value packets and started this blog post. That's ok though, happens to us all!

If you have love for Teachers Pay Teachers please feel free to share it below! :)

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Sight Word Linky Party, Rudolph Creative Writing Unit and almost to 100 Followers! Oh my!

Hey Friends! I'm on my last week of maternity leave but I am in no way sitting around! Today I am linking up with Katie at Teacher to the Core to share a sight word strategy. I teach second grade and I have several levels in my classroom. I do leveled spelling lists each week but all of my students have the same word wall words. We do a lot of word sorts in my room but one of their choices for word work is to do a buddy check. I posted about this in my blog before but I thought it was great to share for this linky party!

To do a buddy check, a student partners up with another student. It works like a buddy test. One buddy reads the word to the other buddy. That buddy writes the word down. The buddy who is the "teacher" checks the word. If it's right, they go to the next word, if it's not the "student" tries again. Then they check it and highlight the part/parts that they missed or parts they want to remember.

This activity can be used with any words you wish. You can grab a copy here:

On another note, I am so excited because I just finished my Rudolph Creative Writing Unit! I did this unit last year and my kids LOVED it. I jazzed it up with some cute fonts and graphics this year. I've also incorporated more of the six traits than I did last year. It's perfect for that after Thanksgiving before Christmas time when your students are going bananas about the holidays and you are pulling out all your tricks to keep them engaged and learning. 

The unit takes the kids through the writing process to create an imaginative story about Rudolph's nose. I incorporate the six traits in this unit as well. I made sure to make the unit TEKS and Common Core aligned. I teach second grade but this unit would be appropriate for first, second or third. Take a peek here!

And last but not least, I'm almost at 100 followers! I'm really excited about that. Be on the lookout for a give-a-way soon! :) Happy Wednesday!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Teaching Tip Linky Party!

Ok so, I'm breaking the rule about two posts in one day...but whatever! I haven't joined a linky party in a while and really wanted to share how Reading A to Z has helped my struggling students.

I'm the second grade inclusion teacher for my campus. I was also the kindergarten inclusion teacher before, so I always have students with a significantly broad range of abilities. Right now, I have students reading on a level A, students on a level S and everything in the middle! It can be quite daunting to keep up with them all and make sure every single one of them is making progress.

In order to help my most struggling students, I meet with them every day for guided reading but I also have a parent volunteer come twice a week. My parent volunteer works on sight words with my most struggling students but I also send them with leveled books from Reading A to Z to read aloud to her. As you all know, the more opportunities struggling readers have to read books on their instructional level, the more progress they will make.

I love Reading A to Z because I can print out leveled books, have a parent helper put them together for me and my students can read them at school and take them home. It is so crucial for students to have books on their instructional level at home. Many times I find that parents want to read with their child but they have no idea what guided reading is, what level their child is on or how to help them.

I make it a point to have a ziploc bag in their take home binders that they can put their RAZ books in. I speak with parents at conferences about the book bag and how crucial it is that they have their child read to them every night.

The RAZ membership is not free but it is so worth every penny! If you have a super awesome principal, he may even buy the membership for you. The website also has a ton of extra materials for you. (I'm not a paid spokesperson or anything, just a teacher who has been a RAZ member for three years and I've truly seen benefits for my kids.)

Click on the picture for a link to the website:

Six Traits Posters Freebie

Hey Y'all!

I have only two more weeks until I am back in the classroom and off of maternity leave...I cannot believe how fast it has gone! To get ready for my "back to school" week, I've been working on a writing unit. I have a super cute six traits bulletin board in my room (I don't have a picture because I'm on leave right now) but I realized I don't have posters I can display on my projector.

Soooo I created this little set to review the six traits as I teach my next unit on creative writing. (It's a super cute creative writing unit about Rudolph, will share as soon as I'm done.) Here are the posters if you would like to use them.  For some reason, the background colors didn't show up in the Google Docs link, but if you download them the background color shows up in PDF. Why? I have no clue! Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Daily 5 Word Work

Happy Election Day! I'm still on maternity leave...the baby is about 6 weeks old and getting cuter every minute! I go back to school November 26th...I'm having mixed feelings about it. On one hand, I cannot wait to get back into the real world where I can have adult conversations with people other than my husband. I'm excited about teaching again, seeing where my kids are and getting fun stuff planned for them. However, I know I'm going to totally miss my baby boy!! :( Luckily, my mom and mother-in-law will be watching him. I'm glad that I don't have to take him to a daycare yet. Gotta remember to count my blessings, right?

So as I'm counting down the days back to work I realized I needed to finish the last four weeks of our spelling and word work plans. I use our district scope and sequence as a guideline, but my district doesn't have a real spelling program. Last year I discovered the book Words Their Way and loved it. So incorporated it into my daily five routine.

For our spelling practice each week we work on a certain pattern. These last few weeks my kids have been working on long vowel patterns. On Mondays I teach the "rule" (really more like a guideline since our language has so many exceptions) and the students take a pretest. If they test out of the regular list of words, then they get a challenge list. Whichever list they get, they put their spelling list in their BEACH binders (take home folder) and they begin cutting apart their words for a word sort.

Here is what their daily 5 word work expectations are for the week:

Monday: Take pretest, take list home for practice and do a closed sort (a sort with headers I give them). For example, if we are studying long a vowel patterns they will have a list of 20 words and headers that say "a_e", "ai", "ay" and "oddballs". Oddballs are words that look like they should follow the pattern but they don't, usually these are high frequency words.

Tuesday: Students must complete their closed sort and record it in their word work notebooks. If they finished this, then they may do an open sort (they choose how to sort the words), a blind sort (a partner reads the words, they spell it and put it in a category) or a speed sort (they time themselves to see how quickly and accurately they can sort their words).

Wednesday: They can choose to do one of the sorts listed above or use materials at the word work station to practice their words. I put out wiki stix, letter tiles, magnets, dry erase boards and strips and fun pens and markers.

Thursday: They repeat activities listed or do a buddy check. They can quiz their friends on their spelling words and highlight parts of the words they missed. You can download the buddy check paper below:


Fridays: We take a spelling assessment, I like to call it a Spell-A-Bration! Because we have two different lists, I have been pairing kids up and letting them quiz each other. It worked well for my class. With my struggling kids though, I have to give them a separate assessment. I have them use a word bank and take it with my special ed co-teacher in a separate room so that she can read it aloud and it's a small group environment.

So that's daily five word work in my classroom. I created sets of word sorts for the first three units of study in my room. They are in D'Nnealian font or a font called "cinnamon cake" which is more of a Zaner Bloser style font. You can check them out below:

Unit 1 word sorts: short vowels, beginning and ending consonant blends, consonant digraphs and complex consonants (hard g/soft g, hard c/soft c).
Cinnamon Cake Font version download here.
Unit 2 word sorts: long vowel patterns.
Cinnamon Cake Font version download here.
Unit 3 word sorts: special vowels like r-controlled vowels, vowel digraphs and vowel diphthongs.
Cinnamon Cake Font version available upon request! Send me an email at
Have a great Tuesday!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Is it already November?

Well another Halloween is come and gone, Thanksgiving is around the corner...what?! I feel like this fall has just flown by! And I've been on maternity leave for five weeks...I thought time might pass slow but with a newborn there never seems to be a dull moment.

I've made it a goal for myself to get back on a routine and start kind of thinking about getting back in my classroom. I have some word sorts I need to get ready for when I return. My list of to dos is already growing and I'm not even officially back yet! Ah!

In the meantime, I've been working on some kindergarten TEKS cards and posters for a friend of mine. If you're a Texas teacher the "figure 19" standards are probably familiar. I made a set of kindergarten figure 19 posters for friend. They are essentially comprehension posters but are targeted to Texas teachers. If you would like a copy you can get it from my Teachers Pay Teachers store or click here.

Alright, off to get a few minutes of work in before the baby wakes up! :)