Friday, May 31, 2013

Five for Friday! 15 Days Left! Pictures and VIDEO Review! :)

I'm so excited for this post because I have so many exciting things to share! This year is winding down quickly and we have 15 school days left. Wohoo! June 20th cannot get here soon enough!

The first exciting random picture from this week is ... I NO LONGER have a "Closet of Doom!" (If you don't remember what it looked like, check here!) Although it was not ALL mine (it was there for many years before me) the closet was basically busting at the seams. I felt like an emotional hoarder searching through the junk, but although a lot was pointless, I wanted to salvage it! Who knows when you are going to need 97 rulers, or six packages of push pins, or 8 staplers, but it sure felt like Christmas to me! Although I threw out a ton and my poor janitor friend wants to kill me, I reorganized an voila! All I have to do now is label my bins, and use the 48 folders, 27 composition note books, and 22 binders I've found, next year and my closet will be even neater! 

#2: I was lucky enough to receive a super duper awesome pencil sharpener from my friends at Classroom Friendly Supplies. They were so nice and accommodating there. Did you know if you want one, you even get free shipping? They also offer discounts for multiple purchases, so ask around before your order yours. At first I was skeptical, like any other teacher when spending their hard earned money, but after reading reviews I knew I had to test one out. Sharpening pencils DRIVES ME NUTS. I swear the kids use this time to meet and discuss their day, share jokes, waste time, and fool around not to mention that the pencil sharpener is SOOO loud that it disrupts everything else in the classroom. When the students FINALLY have a sharpened pencil it usually breaks right away or the lead just magically falls outs.   Anyways, the people who invited the Best Classroom Pencil Sharpener Ever, solved ALL of those problems! 

Check out my test video and pictures below! :) 

(wohoo, I hope my video works!)

#3. We have Kindness week this week with a Kindness assembly, daily activities, and even nightly homework for the kids! The kids are loving it. Have you heard of Ben's Bells? If you haven't you NEED to check them out! We are lucky enough to have the creator come to our school next month all the way from Arizona! Another one of our BFF teachers gave us Be Kind necklaces that we LOVE! :)

#4. My class just finished Wonder and we are now starting Out of My Mind! Two of my favorite books this year! Definitely MUST READS for any teachers!

The end. lol 
I still have a million and a half things to do before school is out...

finish our unit
finish report cards
finish my end of the year report
finish printing and laminating
organize my room for summer
draw a room sketch
shop with $200 from the school for supplies for next year
hire a new Principal (not me personally, but we need one)
create my final supply list for next yr
and the list goes on... 

Have a great weekend teacher friends! :) :) 

Friday, May 24, 2013

Happy Friday: Flash Freebie, Salon Party, Superheroes & more!


Happy Friday everyone. I don't know about you, but I am exhausted. It is about 44* right now and we have 18 days of school left. It just doesn't seem right. This week it hit 80* and now we are back to wearing sweatshirts. The joy of living in New England. Anyways, I am linking up with a few friends today: 

So my five random things from this week and my freebie are #1. Flash Freebie: Check out our awesome Teacher Organizational Binder. If you feel motivated, download it this weekend and it will be free. I haven't finished it yet, so here are the first seven pages to check out. Please, please, please leave me some TPT feedback to let me know what you think. I am super excited to use it next year and we will be putting it together next week. (I'll share pictures of the final product!)

Do you want the perfect teacher binder to organize all of your information at once? Look no further! Not only is this binder functional, fun, and pretty, but it is super useful. Organize all of your information with these lovely teacher binder covers! You may have a binder for each category, or a few major binders with these placed in sheet protectors inside. Either way, an organized teacher is a happy teacher! :-)

Included are SEVEN fun page:
a cover sheet
student data
parent contacts
meeting notes
to do list
student info 

#2: We finished our Superhero themed classroom set, which I am in love with. The file was actually too big to upload to TPT, so we had to split it up into two files. Has that ever happened to any of you? Am I doing something wrong?

#3. We are officially on Instagam!  I finally made a teacher account, so you won't see pictures of our kids constantly. Follow us @PinkadotsElementary   (creative, huh!?) ;)

I will so be taking this Instagram challenge by the Clutter Free Classroom! :)

#4. My class had a hair styling party at indoor recess this week. With the flood warnings booming outside, we've been stuck indoors. I practiced my braiding on my girls. I think I did ten different hair styles and then we emailed the pics to their parents. The girls were so excited. 

#5. We took our annual visit to the State Capitol, Hartford, Connecticut this week. The kids were so well behaved. We were lucky enough to eat lunch outside in a park when the sun was shining. Besides one of my students getting the stomach bug during lunch... the trip was great. Even better was that my class was paired up with Robyn's class for the trip so we all got to go together! :) Unfortunately, because I was busy with the sick kiddo, I skipped out on pictures. 

Have a great Memorial Day weekend. Remember to keep all the true heroes in your thoughts and prayers while you spend time with your family.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Classroom Organization (or lack there of)! Tips for Response to Literature!

Today I am going to link up with a few friends about organization and reading! One I like more than the other and I bet when you finish reading this post, you'll be able to tell! 

 First off, it's Workshop Wednesday with the fabulous Jivey!

Today's topic is: "How do you have students respond to their reading?"

Our school has changed so much in the past few years. We used to be so strategic while answering open ended questions. We used to be hard core with answer frames using the gradual release formula, but now do not put as much as a focus on responses. Don't get me wrong, we still do the same work, we just do so much MORE now. We write, write, write, fiction and nonfiction, research, fill in charts, produce monthly book reports, create graphs, and take notes. I find the CCSS created a much more realistic and meaningful curriculum for all students. With this being said, at the beginning of the year we teach our 4th grade standards for responding to literature. The students are responsible for responding like a "4th grader' all the time. We've created helpful bookmarks that the students love and actually use. Actually, they are one of our best sellers in our TPT store.

We use response to literature questions in Guided Reading groups, intervention groups, small groups, and for the whole class. We keep our reading journals up to date and use a grading scale, on the answers, similar to how our state grades on the state tests (0, 1, & 2). Overall, it seems to work for us, but we are constantly changing and learning new ideas.

Now on to the next linky, I am linking up with Fun in Room 4B for their Optimum Organization linky.

First of all, I, Theresa, love an organized space as much as the next person, but my materials are organized in my OWN way. I grew up with my Grandmother always saying, "There's a place for everything and it something doesn't have a place, you don't need it." I live by that, but unfortunately, my husband hates to throw away ANYTHING. That's just another reason why I am BBF with, Robyn. She is the opposite, she is completely organized and pushes me to organize myself. haha So here's the fun part...the pictures. 

Okay, so this "Closet of DOOM" as I refer to it really needs some organization. I always offer to pay Robyn to organize for me...but she hasn't done it for me yet. Some friend, right!? Geeze! Believe it or not I can find anything I need in there! 

Here's some more of Robyn's room. We both made the Teacher Toolbox from Pinterest this year and love it. I need to update mine to match my pink and zebra print theme though. 

Just so you don't think I am a complete slob, here are some other parts of my classroom. Not so bad, right? 

  So, as you can see, I have a lot of work to do this summer. :) I will be stalking this organization linky for ideas to incorporate in my class! 


Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Linky Calendar For ALL Teacher Bloggers! How to make a button .png! Technology Tuesday & Tried It Tuesday!

Why do you blog? I blog because I use it as a sense of enjoyment and stress relief. I feel accomplished when I can help someone or write about my classroom successes or even failures. 

(Feel free to use my new button on your blog! I am linking up for Tried it Tuesday & Technology Tailgate below to teach you all how to make your own button!)

Lately, when I am on the verge of losing it... between taking care of the kids, cooking dinner, cleaning the house, keeping Spring fever out of my classroom, writing my end of the year reflection, starting report cards, organizing my classroom, worrying about my 48 students, washing the 500th load of clothes, dealing with classroom drama that sticks with me, trying to have fun, thinking about how today's lesson went, being a good mommy and wife, planning for tomorrow's lesson, taking care of my Lyme's Disease with a weekly blood test and Dr. visit, spending time with my family, grocery shopping, and getting some exercise in my day...I still think about "hmmm, what can I blog about?"  Talk about multi-tasking!

So to make my life easier and hopefully help out some of you, here are some of my favorite linkys. What are yours? I know I am missing some, so be sure to let me know! Be sure to comment and leave a link. I will add it to my calendar! 

Click on the linkys to go to their link!  

*I will be linking this blog post to the top of my blog so people can have easy access to the calendar* 



Friday Flashback

Monthly: Currently 

Okay...and as promised, here is how to make a button for your blog or any image saved as a .png (see through background, not big white square).

Last year at this time I had NO idea how to make buttons, pictures, or anything on power point except a presentation. I didn’t know the difference between a .jpg or .png or what a blog linky even was. I’ve come a long way in one year.

Since then, I’ve figured out a lot on my own, but also have learned by searching the net. I love blogs that improve my technological skills, so I wanted to give back to my bloggy friends by helping them create buttons. Obviously there may be 100 ways to create one, I am just going to show you how I do it.

Step: 1 Open Power Point! I love using power point for creating any type of clip art. It is much easier than Word.

Step: 2 Delete the pre-created boxes, so you have a blanket canvas to work with. Do this by clicking on the box, until all four sides are highlighted, and then pressing delete. 

Step: 3 Open the Formatting Palette and click on the Shape symbol. If you aren't familiar with this, it's an addicting tool! 

Step: 4 Choose a shape for your button. I tend to love circles...maybe because I love polka dots, hence Pinkadots! Click on the chosen shape and then click on the power point slide. Drag the shape to the size of your choice. 

Step: 5 Click back on the little book in the Formatting Palette. 

Step: 6 Click on the shape and then on the "Colors, Weights, & Fills" portion on the Palete. I find this is where I can change it the most. I almost start with changing the color fill and the line fill. You can even go to "fill effects" and fill it with a "picture" which can be a background of your choice that is saved to the computer.

I chose to make this Pink...because, face it, everything looks better when it is pink! :)

Line fill changes the outside of the shape's color. I made it black here.

Step: 7 Set the thickness of your boarder. I made this line thick. 

Step: 8 Get ready to add writing on your new button. Click back on the Format Palette to the little book. 

Step: 9 Add a text box, position it, and change the font.

Step: 10 You can now add a picture by dragging any picture from your computer desktop onto the button & resizing the image.

Step: 11 Time to save! This is where it gets tricky! Click on each piece you've added to the button. (Text box, circle, & picture) Hold down the shift button while clicking on each one until they are all highlighted. Next, while holding down Control, click on the image. Options should pop up, one being "Grouping" and then "Group" Click that!

Important: If you don't do this step correctly, your image will not save correctly. This image would just be a pink circle. 

Step: 12 Click back on the image. It should be all grouped together. Hold down control and click. "Save as picture" should be an option- click on that! 

Step: 11 Post and be proud! :) 

I hope this makes sense. It was my first time using a full screen shot to make a tutorial! Please let me know if there are any questions or if I can help you out! :)

Monday, May 20, 2013

Manic Monday Freebie, Rajah's Rice, "Hero" vs. "The Nice Guy", blended learning!

Happy Monday teacher friends! If you checked in with us on our Five for Friday post, you saw we've started our hero unit. I showed you a clip of our worksheet and promised I'd be back with a freebie and HERE I am! 

Robyn and I came up with a fun lesson for the kids to understand whether someone is a "hero" or just being a "nice guy" by doing good deeds. We love incorporating technology for blended learning in our classes and found great resources for this lesson. 

At the start of this unit the students were asked to write down their hero and why it was their hero. Some examples listed were: Mom (because she packs my lunch), Dad (because he's cool), Grandpa (because he lived without the Internet), Markus "Notch" Persson (the guy who created Minecraft, which my 4th graders are OBSESSED with), pet dog (for listening to me), myself (??), the president (for winning two elections), and Eli Manning (for being the best football player alive). I wish i was kidding, but nope, those were actual examples! This led us to the discussion of what makes up a hero, what an idol is, and defining the antonym...a coward. We found a great You Tube video that helped us come up with a specific hero definition. The students recorded the vocabulary and definition in their notebooks. 

Hero: a character of distinguished courage or ability, admired for his or her brave deeds and noble qualities. Usually makes sacrifices to change other people's lives.

Idol: any person or thing regarded with blind admiration, adoration, or devotion.

Coward: any person who does not have/show courage in a troubled situation. They might lie, cheat, or give up.

We decided a hero should "sacrifice" something in order to help others and/or change someone's life. This led many students to change their thinking (thank goodness) and most understood the difference between an idol and hero. The You Tube video also started the students thinking about doctors, farmers, military personnel, etc. 

We then checked out a great website, together as a class, called Kids Are Heroes. This website is cool because anyone can nominate a kid, write a description why the person is a hero, post a picture, and the child can be included on the website. We made it our end of school year goal to find a kid-hero to add to the website. You should see my students now...picking up trash at recess, starting clothing drives, and trying to change the world during reading/writing class.  They all want to be heroes to be featured on this site. We found some kids on the website that we didn't think were full fetched actual heroes, but instead, just normal kids doing a good deed (well on their road to changing the world and becoming a hero). This led us to our lesson.  (If you are still reading this...props to you....I promise it will be worth it!) We created this worksheet about two kids on the website Max & Reena. (You can easily do a name search on the site and find their awesome stories. Max is a cutie from our state and Reena's story is just amazing!) Another thing I liked about this website is that kids can send "shout outs" to the kid heroes and there are links for more information or websites on the heroes.

We did the first page together as a class. We read and discussed Max & Reena, took notes listing three points (if we could find three) and checked off the appropriate box next to the note. We decided if you checked 2/3 or 3/3 in one column, than the person would fall into that category.

After this we moved on to discussing a previously used text. We love using texts over and over as touch stone texts in our class. If you find a great mentor text, you can get so much use out of it throughout the year! Something Beautiful certainly falls into that category.  The students worked in pairs, with a clipboard and a copy of the book for text reference, to discuss if "the girl" (she doesn't have a name in the text) is a hero or a girl doing a good deed.

Next, the students read one of my favorite tales, Rajah's Rice

The main character is Chandra and she is certainly a hero. If you haven't read this book it is such an awesome book on so many levels. It incorporates a ton of strong character traits, math, beautiful illustrations, and has a great lesson. After the students read this text in their partnerships, they completed the worksheet. I was so impressed with the student conversations and debates taking place during this lesson. The students were VERY engaged and focused the whole time. 

Finally, when the students finished their partner discussion, they used their worksheet and knowledge from the discussion to put their thinking into words on the final sheet. 

We took this worksheet as a grade. It incorporated a ton of thinking, discussion, reading, understanding, listening, using text evidence, and following directions to complete. 

Overall, the kids loved this lesson so much, I wanted to share it with all of you. If you don't have Something Beautiful or Rajah's Rice, check out You Tube, sometimes they are read aloud and you can get away with having your class listen to the story online rather then you reading it to them. 

Head over to our TPT store to grab the freebie lesson for yourself. Do you have any other stories that show a true hero? If so, please share,  I'd love to know what they are!

Classroom Freebies Manic Monday
Don't forget, if you haven't checked out our school supplies linky, it is one you will WANT to see & join! There are so many great ideas listed, I am rethinking my list! I've now made this linky easy to find, check out the tab at the very top of my page, under the header! :)

Friday, May 17, 2013


Come follow us: PinkadotsElementary 

How could I have missed this. I love photography and I love blogging...Instagram is a great mix! I found this great post (a little late since I am #209 to link up!!) on Apples and ABC's blog. Now although it's Friday night... I am excited for Tuesday!

For those of you who haven't heard or are still questioning Instagram. These are the rules (taken from Michelle's very informative blog post linked above):

Each Tuesday teachers everywhere can Instagram a picture with the hashtag: 
The idea is, on Tuesdays, if we all all use this hashtag, we will be able to search teachers near and far, and create a community that can support and grow together.  For your picture each Tuesday, choose anything that you want to share with other teachers.  They will be able to see your picture when you click on the phrase: #teachertalktuesday
Here is a little Instagram 101:
1. It is like Facebook, but with only pictures
2. You can make your profile private if you want
3. You can write a caption under your picture and comment or like photos 

So what are you going to take a picture of? Can't wait to check them all out.

I'm a Budding Blogger!

Now to get to one of my favorite linkys. Five for Friday! It's funny to admit, but when I am planning for the week and teaching, I always think about...what can I take a picture of or give away for free for our Five for Friday post?
We started our unit on heroes. Don't mind my chart, it's messy, but you get the point. Those are a few books we will be reading to determine if the characters are true "heroes" or people just doing "good deeds." The kids are LOVING this unit so far!

Sorry this is going sideways, but I will fix it and explain more about it on Monday. This is a great lesson Robyn and I planned out using the website Kids Are Heroes and the book Something Beautiful. We are trying to get the students to see that heroes go "above and beyond" what is expected and change other people's lives. Check back for this freebie on Monday, for our Manic Monday post! :)

We came up with class definitions for a hero, idol, and coward. The kids were right on target! 

Anyone else have a DCB (Deep Covered Baker)? I'm in love with mine. This is a new recipe I am going to try this weekend! Yummm! If you have one from Pampered Chef, check out the FB group for recipes! 

I found these on Pinterest the other day (of course) and thought they would be so fun to make this weekend with my 3 year old daughter. Both of my kids have peanut allergies (weird, right!?), so the only time they can get sweets is if I make them and know what's inside.

Have a great weekend, I hope it is full of fun and sunshine!