Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Task Card MANIA!!

 I had to share my new found LOVE for Task Cards.  I actually fell in L O V E with them last year, but this year I created a Task Card Corner that is not only awesome, but will be sure to help my students progress this year. I introduced task cards into my classroom last year, but wasn't too sure how effective they would be.  As the year went on, I started to notice that they were really helping my students progress.  Theresa and I decided to dedicate a lot of time and created an abundant amount of task cards. I organized all of our creative task cards and created my "Task Card Corner!"
My Task Card Corner!!
Last year, I just handed out the task cards when I wanted students to use them, this year, my students will have the power to walk over and grab their own! I use these in a variety of ways.  Students can use these when they are done completing an assignment, in small group, in partnerships, independently, I sometimes even make a game out of them!! Obviously, I match up students struggles with the specific task card to help strengthen their understanding of whatever concept they are struggling with.  Not only are these task cards a valuable use of my students time, but they are organized so beautifully, how can you NOT LOVE THEM?!!?? Here are the ones we have made:     
Figurative Language Task Cards  - These are so helpful because students have a difficult time understanding the different types of figurative language.  This also helps to improve their writing!

Main Idea Task Cards  These are probably my favorite because I have so many students who struggle with identifying the main idea. It's such great practice!

Genre Task Cards - These are ALWAYS helpful because I ALWAYS have a few students ask me "What genre is this?" This helps them to learn the different genres so they don't need to ask me anymore!

Context Clues Task Cards  - These are another one of my favorites because students are ALWAYS struggling with using context clues to help understand unfamiliar words. This is my pride and joy because it really helped my students progress on our district assessments.  I was flabbergasted by the progress of my struggling readers!

Alphabetical Order Task Cards  - I know I teach 4th grade, but you would be surprised how many students find it difficult to put words in alphabetical order!! This was a great tool last year to help my students become better at this skill.
Reading Task Cards - with a FRIEND or INDEPENDENTLY -These are great because every card gives them a job to do and can be applied to any book! They can either pick a card to do with a friend or do it independently.  I like to use these for my fast finishers.  I always like to give them meaningful work (or what's the point?) and I feel like extending their thoughts regarding their just right book is perfect!

Accountable Talk Discussion Task Cards -These were a LIFESAVER this year!! With the new CCSS we really need to hold students accountable to participating in discussions, teacher lead and student lead. This really helped my students to learn the language and apply it! As the year progressed we moved away from these cards because my class didn't need them anymore!! Yahoo!!

If you haven't jumped on the task card band wagon yet, you SHOULD!! They are an amazing tool and really helped my students progress last year, I can't wait to introduce them this year as well as show off my new Task Card Corner!

Monday, July 29, 2013

Monday made it! Food, make up, and technology decor!

I've been so excited to post and link up for Monday Made It because I've been crafting! I needed a break from school stuff...First, if you didn't see the wreath I posted on Instagram and the blog from last week check it out. I loved it so much, I've  decided to make my daughters new preschool teacher one as a back to school present! Stay tuned for pictures!

While perusing Pinterest, I found a fun post about making pretend make up for little girls.  Now before you all freak out, no I don't want my daughter to grow up fast and I don't dress her like one of the girls from Toddlers in Tiaras, but she does enjoy trying on Mommy's make up! This happens mostly at bed time when she should be in bed. I hear the pitter patter of tiny feet running around upstairs. Up until recently I had no idea what she was doing. Then I spied on her one night and saw her testing out all of my make up. She also dropped about half of it and my blush, bronzed, and eyeshadow are basically just crumbs now. UGH! Soooo Robyn tested out the pin first and had great success with her daughter. We went to the dollar store and bought some cheap make up and pretty nail polish, scraped the make up out of the container, and filled it up with polish. Leave it alone for about two days and Ta da! My daughter absolutely freaked out! She is SO excited about having her own make up now for her purse!! Mom = win! 

Next on the list is a new trend, making a pretty lock screen for your phone. You can purchase and app to do this or you can do it on your own. I basically copied Robyn again, because she is the one who always has the cool ideas. Her background is a pretty chevron design with her monogrammed initials. Mine is... Well... SO ME!

I created this on power point, saved it as a picture, emailed it to myself, and set it as the lock screen! It makes me happy whenever I look at it! :)

Last, is an awesome recipe I have to share with you all! Now I know some of you start school this week, but here in Connecticut we still have five more weeks of summer vacation left! My husband just finished summer school on Friday so now our real summer can start! This is a recipe for a dip that is super refreshing and actually healthy! It is best eaten with Tostitos! It's called Texas Caviar! I bring it to picnics all the time and usually double the recipe because it is so good! I do leave out the jolopenos though!

I was working in my classroom all day today and will be there Wednesday. Robyn and I have a ton of fun things to post to show you. So check back!

Friday, July 26, 2013

Pinterest Scavenger Hunt Contest!

Do you love free money? 
Do you love Pinterst? 
Do you love TpT? 

If that's you then you DON'T want to miss out on this quick, but profitable contest! I know personally I've spent $50 in the last week on purchases from my wishlist on TpT. My room is going to look amazing in the fall!  Check this out! 

We know that you're thinking about all of the items on your TpT wishlist as you are switching into back-to-school mode. Wouldn't it be nice if you had a TpT gift certificate to use? Well, it's your lucky day! These upper elementary bloggers are going to help foot the bill!

Here is what you need to do to enter for a chance to win a TpT gift certificate:
  • Click the picture above or {here} to take you to our collaborative board.
  • Follow the board.
  • Find the pin description that contains the special code.
  • Enter the code in the Rafflecopter.
  • Easy-peasy!!
  • Contest ends Sunday, July 28th at midnight.

I am also linking up this Friday with First Grade Parade for Favorite Pins Friday! I've been pinning a lot when I'm not crafting, running after the kids, or trying to clean the house.

This pin is awesome and if I linked it right, it will take you to 52 Secrets Students (and teachers) should know about Google docs. I know I will be checking this out later today! 

Found this and LOVE this! I will be making something similar for my classroom door. I think reading is set by example and students should know you read at home too!

I am putting this up in the classroom on Monday and can't wait! I think it will be great to help students when they are writing! 

Thanks for reading and don't forget to enter in the contest above! A winner will be picked on Sunday! Who doesn't need $50 to TpT!? 

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Time Travel Tuesday...A little Late

I am linking up for the first time to Jessica at I {heart} Recess with Time Travel Tuesday!  I am so excited to share more about my life. Some of you may know I have a three year old daughter and a 1 year old son. They were born on the same day, two years apart. Crazy huh!? December 6th is a BIG day in our household. My son is a big boy like his daddy and is catching up, in height, to my daughter. Lots of people ask if they are twins because they look so much alike. My daughter went to preschool last year for the first time (in the 3's class) and it was a huge event. She absolutely LOVED it and begged to go to school everyday. This year she will be in the 4's class and then she will start Kindergarten next year! Yahoo for no more double daycare payments...thank God! Anyways, my daughter is my mini-me. From the bossiness, attitude, ballerina wannabe, to speech...she looks and sounds JUST.LIKE.ME. In fact, my parents call her "Little Theresa" and she loves it.

Grade:  Kindergarten
Year: 1988-1989
School: Borough School
Teacher: Mrs. Paige
Favorites: David the Gnome, Maple Town, Mr. Rogers Neighborhood, ballet class, mom curling my hair with rollers, and gymnastics!
Memories:  My teacher told my parents I would be the first woman President of the US. I was the mayor of the class and very bossy. When the police came into my Kindergarten class to teach us to say "no" to drugs, they brought a giant picture frame with examples of the pills inside. I raised my hand and told the teacher (and police) my mother tried giving me drugs at night. This turned into a parent phone call in which my mother had to explain I was taking antibiotics for an ear infection! 

I was quite sassy... hence why I have a daughter who gives me everything I gave my mother plus more!

This is Isabella at her last day of school party. Can you see a resemblance?

This was from last summer, but you can see how much alike Jameson and Isabella look. 

Those are my Pinkadots. Maybe ROBYN will take us way back and put up a Time Travel post?

My turn.. my turn!!!!
That's often what came out of my mouth being 1 of four children in my family.  My sister was the bossy "do as I say" type, my older brother was too cool to hang out with his little sister and I was too cool to hang out with my little brother.  I fell into the quiet, goody-goody, "mommy's girl" role and my daughter has followed in my footsteps (so far).  I have a beautiful, intelligent, hysterical, energetic 2 year old.  She loves to laugh, something we both love to do.  She is shy, but once she gets comfortable she breaks out of her shell.  I see a lot of myself in her, especially her laugh, we both have one of those "laughs." The one where you feel like you are getting a really good ab work out because you are laughing so hard.

Grade:  Kindergarten
Year: 1989-1990
School: Rockwell School
Teacher: Mrs. Piste
Favorites: Rainbow Bright, soccer, dolls, barbies, gymnastics, girl scouts

Memories:  I remember getting my very first corsage from a boy in my class on the last day of school.  I actually still have it in my baby box.

Here is Kylie, she's a diva.. but only in pictures.. her personality is the farthest thing from a diva!

And here is Kylie sporting her "Big Sis" shirt! Yup, I am officially announcing it! She can't wait to become a big sister this January.  I can't wait to see if the baby follows in our footsteps.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

10 Things I've Learned from Teaching...

I'm excited to link up with Miss Kindergarten for this fun linky!
I've been reading everyone's posts and have loved to get to know more about my favorite bloggers.

Always treat the secretary and custodian with respect and courtesy. Manners go a long way when dealing with people you work with and in this case when you need something, chances are you will need help from one of these two people. Stay on their good sides and life will be MUCH better. Robyn and I always go in together on gifts for our secretary and custodian for Christmas and End of School. We also bring the secretary flowers for the start of the school year, every year. We both love her and she is definitely one of my school moms. She loves our kids, knows what is going on in our lives, and gives us a ton of motherly advice. 

Start each day with a smile because your attitude will reflect your student's attitude. What I mean is that when you greet your students in the hallway each morning do it with a smile. Even if you had no sleep because your infant was up all night, you had a horrible ride into school, or you realize your shoes don't match, let the students know you are happy to be at school and you are happy THEY are at school with you. Sometimes you are the only positive person in his/her life and you need to make them feel safe, secure, and welcome.

Get to know the parents right away. Start off the year right by introducing yourself to parents; whether it be through open house, parent night, a note home, or a phone call. Parents talk and you'd rather have them talk about how smart, welcoming, and nice you were than what a stranger you've been. This year I am considering a class Facebook page for parent/teacher communication. I would have the parents sign a waver to allow pictures of their students up and have only parents allowed as "followers" to the page. I could post pictures, videos, and update it regularly. Our school has teacher websites, but they are a PITA. There is no space to upload pictures or videos and it takes forever to load. Has anyone tried a Facebook parent page? Likes? Dislikes?

Take risks! How are you going to know what your students can do if you don't push them to the limits? How will you know your limits if you don't push yourself? This is one of the million reasons why I love to read and collaborate with teachers through blogging. I love the ideas I find because I am constantly learning and trying new things. I love trying out new apps, technology, ways of teaching, and assessing ideas. Everyone learns differently so getting feedback from students is a must.

It's okay to fail. Robyn and I start a lot of crazy projects, but do they always work? Nope. One of my favorite things about planning with her is that I am usually behind, while she is one or two days ahead of me. When she messes up, goes back and reflects, and thinks of changes she would have made...I get to try out the lesson the new way. Since we both only teach Reading & Writing we teach the same lesson 2X a day, obviously the second time it is usually better. When I see low test scores on a topic I thought I covered completely, I don't give up, I just reteach in a different way. Like I mentioned before, everyone learns differently.

 Ask for help! Robyn says, "Asking for help saved her career." That's probably cause it lead her to me...obviously I am her savior. hahaha :) Really though, there are four 4th grade Reading/Writing teachers in our school and we meet and collaborate regularly. Three of us have been teaching for the same amout of time, while the other has been teaching for 30+ years. What we have learned from the veteran teacher is immeasurable! She offers to help anytime we ask and is truly an amazing teacher!

Be flexible...period...the end!
I can't even begin to tell you how many times in a year assemblies popped up, snow storms and hurricanes hit us, students were out sick, surprise observations happened, or one of our kids were sick and we had to stay home with them. Things happen...write your plans in pencil.

You gotta make time to laugh and joke around. I am cooped up in the room all day teaching the same topic twice in a row with a short prep and ever shorter lunch, so I need the laugh just as much as they do. Laughing relieves stress, builds bonds, confidence, and makes life much more enjoyable.

Eat fast! My husband is a teacher as well. We chow down during dinner before our three year old even gets one piece in her mouth. She doesn't understand why we eat so fast. When you have thirty minutes to walk to the cafe, heat your food, chat, eat your food, use the bathroom, make last minute copies, return phone calls to parents or doctors, and make it out to recess duty before getting yelled at by the lunch ladies for being late, you learn to swallow food whole!

Love your job! Not everyone is cut out to be a teacher. I got my job mid year after the teacher before me was forced to resign. I was lucky to fall into the job and have been lucky ever since. If you don't love what you do, the kids will eat you alive. People can tell you love your job through your classroom, your lessons, your smile, they way you dress, and the passion in your voice. When you get down on yourself for something not going right, getting a bad review, colliding with a negative parent, having a tough student in your class, or having a problem with administration...think about why you took the job and what led you to be a teacher. Think about how lucky you are to have a job and be working with kids who worship you. That should put things back into perspective for you!

If you made it to the end...I will leave you with a funny ha ha :) 

Monday, July 22, 2013

Overwhelmed! Monday Made it!

So I went to school today to check out my classroom! I wasn't going to, but Robyn guilted me into it. Plus, I knew I could grab my class list (that will probably change 100 times before the first day of school)! My husband has one more week of summer school left so the kiddos tagged along. We got dressed, ate breakfast, got dressed again because my son dumped his cereal on himself and went to leave. While carrying 100 things out the door, my husband's iPad fell on the driveway and the screen cracked up! He is going to FREAK out when he gets home! :( So I drove an angry 40 minutes to school and got into my messy classroom, that was about 90 degrees (no AC in our school). This kids tried to stay busy while I overwhelmed myself. Before long, we were all sweaty messes and needed a water break. I gave up after two hours and took the kids to lunch and then home for nap time. I will wait until I can go back to school solo before I go back. I started some bulletin boards, but don't like how uneven they are, I'm a perfectionist, and will redo them when I go back! I also started a few crafts and hung up some projects. 

I saw a pin a while back about gluing pom poms on expo markers to use as erasers! I thought it was a great idea and tried a few... Then the bag of pom poms were confiscated by my kids, but the ones I managed to make today, should  work out great. Sorry about the cheesy Monday Made it: I had a rough day! Look at my post below to see the awesome wreath I made. I have many more projects in store. I am going to tackle some clip boards this week and we will see what else! 

I love my magnetic boarder for my white board! 

My room was a mess...I grabbed the vacuum from the closet and vacuumed myself. Although we still have six weeks of summer vacation left, I feel better now that I at least started.  I wanted to get some laminating done...but with the heat wave and the crazy humidity, the closet is completely STUCK SHUT. This might be a problem!


I have a problem. How are six bulletin boards in my classrooms not enough? I made too many cute and useful bulletin board sets for TpT. I split my accountable talk board in half to make room for our synonym board. The synonym word still needs a title and the accountable talk board needs actual content. Jameson was obsessed with my Scentos markers. He had them all over his face and mouth from "smelling" them. 


This is the close reading bulletin board set we sell in our TpT store. I made myself a special zebra print version that I AM LOVING! Due to so many requests and zebra lovers...this is the set I'm using. I just posted to TpT!

I am going to move these posters closer together and separate this bulletin board into another section to make room for... 

homophone, synonym, and antonym of the week... we used this last year and the results were awesome! Can't wait to use it again! :)


I need to make some new clothes pins for my zebra "How am I Getting Home" list.



My room is nowhere close to being done, but it will get there. I have big plans of what it will look like soon though!

That black bulletin board is going to be my "Wild Word Wall" and I am going to put up the new 4th grade fluency word wall I created. I am going to make this an editable document because although these are the 4th grade Fry words, some are ridiculously easy for a word wall. I'd like to put some more challenging words up as well and I'm sure other teachers will. 

Now that I have my class lists, I am going to spend the night typing up zebra name tags and labels for notebooks and folders! :)