Saturday, August 8, 2015

Orange Ya Glad It's a Blog Hop

Hey y'all!  I'm so glad that you were able to join us for the third annual Orange Ya' Glad it's a Blog Hop!

I am the

If you have hopped with us in the past, some things will be familiar, and some things will be new!

This year, all of our bloggers are focusing on free tips or ideas that they can share with you to get your school year off to a great start.  Some ideas will have a freebie, others might just be a stand alone concept.  The idea is to try and share things that will solve problems and create a happy and stress free first few weeks!

Let's get this party started!

Last year one of my old teammates and teaching soulmates, Tia, sent a letter home asking families to send in a framed family photo with their child to help decorate her room.  Well, I LOVED that idea!  Her room looked amazing, it was like a second home, and the kids really had an investment in it because it was part them.

So, what do good teammates/teaching soulmates do?  They steal/share the idea!!!  She's also the brains behind the Parent Homework Letter the first week of school that I blogged about earlier this year.  If you want a freebie that will have an amazing impact on your year and how you view your students (no big build up or anything), click here.  I just don't know where I would be without that woman!?

Here is what mine will look like this year!  Yep.  You read that right...  What mine WILL look like this year.  So school hasn't started yet for me (one more week?!) and Tia didn't have any pictures so I made asked some of my past and present teammates that had kids at our school to bring in framed family photos so I could post them here for y'all!  Once a teammate, always a teammate.  For better or for worse.  #they'restuckwithme

Here is the letter that I will send home this year.

If you'd like to have this freebie file for your own class,
please click here.  It is a PowerPoint and the only thing editable is the name.  The font is KB Tiny Red Whale if you wanted it all to match, but really any font will work.  You could even go wild and crazy and jazz it up with a little cursive signature!  You know, that secret language your students think you write in, lol.

We will be having an Instagram giveaway again!  At the bottom of each post, there will be a letter.   The letters all work together to give you the name of a type of orange!  This year is a bit's a two word name!  Who knew there was such a fancy two-named orange out there?!

This post is brought to you by the letter "O."

**Fun Fact: Starting at the first blog, Mrs. Russell's Room, and going through will give you the right answer!** 

Once you've solved the puzzle...take a picture of the answer.  
Post it on instagram and hashtag it with #orangehop2015.  We love original, do something fun with your image!  Check out these ideas from last year!

We will go through the pictures and select a winner!  What do you get if you win you ask? Well for starters...

Some of these other ladies just might have prizes for you as well... I guess you'll have to hop along to find out ;o)

Next up, a blogger that I not only love and follow religiously, but she is one of my BBB's and a good friend.

The awesome Joanne Miller from Head Over Heels for Teaching!  Click on her button to move on to the next idea.

I hope you enjoy the hop and good luck!

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Orange Ya Glad that it's BTS Time!?

Hey y'all!  Well, it's that time again...  That bittersweet time where you're sad to see your summer ending but secretly excited to see Crayola in the aisles again.  To help you through this Back to School season, I'm joining with these wonderful Florida bloggers to give you some great back to school ideas (and freebies!!!) that will help you start the year off right!  You can look forward to seeing tips from the following Florida PreK-5 bloggers!

Please join us on Saturday, August 8th at 12 noon!
Can't wait to share some fantastic ideas with you!

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Light a Fire with a Good Book - and a HUGE Giveaway!

It's that time again... the bitter-sweet back to school time. You're going to miss your summer terribly but you secretly get excited by the rainbow of school supplies now in the aisles!  What better way to smooth that transition than with some ideas and goodies?

Several of us bloggers have come together to give you some awesome ideas for Back to School Books! These books can be used to set up your classroom community, begin a good lesson, or just as a fun read-aloud.

The book I'd like to share with you is Sisters Grimm: Fairy Tale Detectives by Michael Buckley.  I know this isn't your normal first week of school read aloud but it is definitely a novel I love to start my year off with!

In book one of this bestselling series, sisters Sabrina and Saphne are sent to live with their mysterious grandmother, Relda Grimm.  The sisters learn they are descendants of the Brothers Grimm, whose famous book of fairy tales is actually a collection of case files.  The girls are the latest in a long line of fairy-tale detectives, and their new hometown is filled with Everafters (as magical folks like to be called) - some good and some very, very bad.  When a mysterious Everafter setes a giant loose on the town, it's up to the Sisters Grimm to save the day.


Here are just some of the reasons it's one of my favorites!

  1. It's about a town of fairy tale characters that we all know and love but they are not who they seem!  The villains might be bad guys, the good guys might be wicked, but you never know what anyone is up to in Ferry Port Landing (and that keeps my kids on their toes!).  The kids know most of these characters but I have found as the years go on, they don't necessarily know their stories - unless it was made into a Disney movie, lol.  So you might want to do some referencing or pre-reading :o)
  2. It's a mystery... my favorite! Sabrina and Daphne Grimm are on hot on the trail to find out who stepped on Mr. Applebee's farm and the even bigger mystery... What happened to their parents?
  3. It's a series!  There are 9 books total and a companion guide.  I read this my first year at my new school and our media specialist had to buy the rest of the series because so many kids came to ask if she had it! LOL So get book two ready to go!
  4. There are TONS of reading skills that can be taught using this book and with all the wondrous foods that their Granny Relda makes, you could easily have yourself an end of book celebration with those funky treats!

One of the very first skills I ever teach, and use with this book, is Point of View.  The reason for this is because it is an ongoing skill.  For every book we read after this, we can use our notes and skills from the Sisters Grimm to figure out the POV of our newest read aloud. Usually one of the harder skills for students to grasp, I have made it easier with a student friendly power-point, four different ways for them to take notes and a Point of View Road Map that will help them figure out what POV any story is written in!

And have you heard? Teachers Pay Teachers is having a site-wide Back to School Sale August 3rd and 4th, so you will be able to get my Point of View PPT and Notes Pack (along with the POV Poster Pack) 28% off using the promo code BTS15!

We know what else really "lights a fire" in you, and that is fabulous technology! We are giving away a brand new Kindle Fire HD6 to one lucky winner! 

Enter the rafflecopter below by hopping through each of our blogs and entering the secret word that can be found on the tablet in each of our posts. Also make sure to follow our TPT stores because the winner will be announced through a message in your TPT inbox! 

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We are also giving away a $25 gift certificate to Creative Teaching Press!

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Good luck! We hope you have a successful start to your school year! 

Sunday, July 26, 2015

An Interactive Open House

Even though my Open House for back to school isn't for a few weeks, I'm trying really hard to get as much done now as possible!  I usually don't mind the late nights to get stuff done during pre-plan but with a 5 month old...  I'm thinking I might be getting too old for that (at least this time around, lol)!

This year I am doing something different!  Our Open House usually starts out with the entire fourth grade in the cafeteria and all the teachers talk about what they can expect from 4th grade this year: curriculum, field trip dates, etc.  Then they are let loose up to our rooms for exploration time!  It never fails that parents are busy filling out paperwork or talking to me.  The kids, for the most part, are shy and trying to scope out the room from the safety of their parents side, LOL.  Well I want all that to change...

I introduce to you my interactive welcome sign!

This bad boy will be up on my white board and I will have the remote pen ready to go so my new kiddos can just walk up and start clicking away.  Even though the families just heard a few things to expect for the upcoming year, they definitely didn't get all the good details or what our specific classroom will get into.

I created this by uploading my own picture to ThingLink and made it interactive from there!  If you have never heard of ThingLink (don't feel bad, neither did I!), it is a program that essentially can make any photo or video interactive!  Think of all the possibilities!!!  There is a free version but I caved and paid for the year subscription because it has SO many cool features that I want to try with my kiddos this year.  I think it would also be an incredible tool to use if you happened to be doing a Flipped Classroom!

I thank Kim at iTeach STEM who, a couple of days ago, posted in one of our Facebook groups her newest "All About Me" page on her blog (click here to check it out) for introducing me to this awesomeness!  Well let me tell you, it was an instant game changer when I saw it.  Instead of a bunch of writing, she has a picture of herself using ThingLink and I instantly knew four different ways I wanted to use the program in my classroom!

How would you use it in the classroom?  Leave your ideas in the comments section!

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Sunshine State Book Review: Athlete vs. Mathlete

Athlete vs. Mathlete by W.C. Mack is probably my favorite book so far!  I love the characters, the main and the secondary!  They are real children.  They have mood swings, they're loyal, they worry, they have fun, they make mistakes.  I think it's very important for kids (especially my student's age) to see that you're not the only one going through these feelings but it is important how you handle them and that some mistakes cannot be undone with a sorry.  I also liked how the books shows the positives to both cliques: the "jocks" and the "nerds."  There is a great life lesson in here as well; life isn't always fair but how you deal with it is what matters.

Summary from Scholastic:
Owen Evans lights up the scoreboards.  His brother, Russell, rocks the school boards.  These twin brothers couldn't be more different.  They've long kept the peace by going their separate ways, but all that is about to change.  The new basketball coach recruits Russell for the seventh grade team and a jealous Owen has to fight to stay in the game.  When someone tries to steal Russell's spot as captain of the mathlete team, will the two be able to put aside their differences in order to save his position?  Or will they be sidelined?

This is a cute little book trailer that might help interest your boys!

Genre: Realistic Fiction
Lexile: 610
Grade Level: Grades 3-5 (3.4)
Pages: 208
Skill: Point of View (the chapter jumps between Owen and Russ' point of view)
Food: Doughnuts (it's the best seller in the Mathlete's bake sale, even if the "enemy" brought them)

Athlete vs. Mathlete is definitely one of those books that will appeal to boys!  We all know how hard it is to get them to read and this will do the trick, even if he's not an athlete or a mathlete ;o)  One of my absolute favorite things about this book is that it's a series!  I hate it when my kids fall in love with a book and want to keep the adventure going, only to find out that it's a stand alone book.  Athlete vs. Mathlete has two other books in it's series: Double Dribble and Time-Out!  Click on any of the photos to find out more info!


If you would like a copy of the award for reading this book click here to grab your free copy!  There are three different versions: SRC test, AR test and just reading the book.

Next up on our Sunshine State Review is Alien in My Pocket: Blast Off!

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Building Minds, One Bag at a Time

Every year I come up with new goals for myself or my classroom for the next year.  This years goals are:
  1. Student-led Classroom
  2. Incorporate more literature and technology
  3. Have more family involvement
I'm already working on goal number one with Learn Like a Pirate and I've got some new ideas and activities up my sleeve for goal number two (thanks to some of my BBBs!).  Goal number three was a big one and I wasn't sure how I wanted to go about it but knew that I needed the help of Donor's Choose (LOVE THEM!).  They are a wonderful organization that allows teachers to post projects that will benefit their students and people all around the world can donate to those projects!

I know people are busy and have lives/multiple jobs and if that is the case, I want to capitalize on their time at home then!  I have lots of parents who want to help their kids but aren't really sure where to start or what to do and sending home a review packets isn't really helping anyone (especially if that student wasn't getting in class that day either).

My solution?  Family Learning Bags!  Think Literacy Bags (mixed with other subjects and activities) meets Family Game Night meets The 7 Habits.  That's a lot to think about, I know!  Let's have a picture, shall we?

Oooohhhh!  Ahhhhhhh!

We are a Leader in Me school and Habit 7 is Sharpen the Saw!  In a nut shell that means taking time for you.  Do what you love to relax your mind, heart, body and soul.  These bags will have activities to do all of those things with your family: books, games (educational - some more obvious than others), recipes, activities/crafts, and more!  With these bags I'm hoping to help students reinforce skills, bring families closer together, introduce everyone to new activities or topics they wouldn't normally be exposed to, and chances to sharpen your saw!  Now that I have my own little family, I want to spend all my time with them and I definitely don't want to be grading papers while I'm doing it.  I can only assume my student's families feel the same way about homework during family time.  Who wouldn't rather be playing a game than doing math problems on a worksheet?!  Click here for more information on the project!

Usually I send a letter home to kids and get the donation ball rolling but since we're not in school, and I would love to have these ready to go the first week of school, I'm coming to y'all for help.  I believe in these bags so much that I wanted to do a giveaway to help promote them!  If you donate even a dollar to this project for my kiddos, you can enter in the drawing to win your choice of any MINI sign from Tallahassee Sunday!  You can also use the match code SPARK to double your donation!  

This is the one I have!  Let me tell you that this was not an easy decision!  I couldn't decide if I wanted the apple (red or green), the pencil (SO many options there - polka dots, chevron, glitter, etc.), the puzzle piece (my heart will always be with my ASD kids), or make a custom one!  They also have signs for other special area teachers!  Even a cute band-aid if you work in the clinic :o)

Thank you so much for any help you can give my kiddos!  I know they will be very appreciative, along with their families!  Don't forget to use the match code SPARK to double your donation!  This giveaway will end on Sunday, June 28, 2015, so enter while you have a chance!

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Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Sunshine State Book Review: PIE

The second book in my Sunshine State Book Review is the one I was most excited for: PIE by Sarah Weeks. I just LOVE pie!  Mmmm... pie!  I even had a pie bar at my wedding since I don't really like cake all that much.  Look at all the deliciousness!!!

See, I even had Mmm... pie written on my ice cream spoons ;o)

Back to the book!

Summary from Scholastic:
While Alice's Aunt Polly, the Pie Queen of Ipswitch, passes away, she takes with her the secret to her world-famous pie-crust recipe.  Or does she? In her will, Polly leaves the recipe to her extraordinary fat, remarkably disagreeable cat, Lardo... and then leaves Lardo in the care of Alice.

Suddenly, the whole town is wondering how you leave a recipe to a cat.  Everyone want to be the next big pie-contest winner, and it's making them pie-crazy.  It's up to Alice and her friend Charlie to put the pieces together and discover the not-so-secret recipe for happiness: Friendship.  Family.  And the pleasure of doing something for the right reason.

This was a very cute story set in 1955 about a little girl trying to find her place in her family now that the only person who really loved her for her is gone.  It's a great story that shows how all your "special little quirks" that make you you, isn't something to be embarrassed or ashamed of, but embrace it and see what amazing things can happen!  There is also a little mystery, Nancy Drew style, thrown in there with a GREAT twist at the end!  You might have to explain a few things since it is set in the 1950's but not much.  It definitely won't deter their reading or understanding if they read this on their own.

There are TONS of great characters in this story, all with their own quirks.  I think this would be a perfect book to discuss character traits and why you think characters are making the decisions they are making (motive).  There are also some good sections early on in the book that lend itself to foreshadowing.  My friend Joanne over at Head Over Heels for Teaching has this fabulous product to promote higher level character analysis!  The best part is you can leave it up all year long and add to it as you read more books.  It's something I am definitely implementing next year!  Click on the image if you would like more info or a set for your own classroom!

Genre: Realistic Fiction/Historical Fiction (not a lot of history though)/Mystery
Lexile: 930
Grade Interest Level: Grade 3-7
Pages: 192
Skill: Character Traits, Foreshadowing
Food: Pie (there are all sorts of recipes in the book!)

If you would like a copy of the award for reading this book click here to grab your free copy!  There are three different versions: SRC test, AR test and just reading the book.

Next up for review is Athlete vs. Mathlete by W.C. Mack!