Friday, May 31, 2013

Five for Friday (5/31)

It's Friday & I'm linking up with Doodle Bugs Teaching for her Five for Friday linky party.
Here are my 5 randoms from this week:

I had my first sale on Tpt this week. Wahoo!!! I've had some of my free products downloaded, but I actually sold something this week. My addition and subtraction flashcards. I'm so excited that someone was able to use something that I made. 

Click on the pictures to check them out.


I'm going to Coach Bingo tonight. I'm super excited, 2 of my favorite things. Purses & playing Bingo. I really do love to play Bingo, but with my little guy I don't get to go as often as I'd like. Okay, I actually haven't gone since he was born (2 years ago).  

I had my interview yesterday & it was like something I've never experienced. It was like speed dating. I meet with the Supervisor of Special Services & she asked me a questions, then to the Assistant Principal and she asked me a question, then finally to the Principal & she asked me a question. And these were Teaching Interview 101 kinds of questions. Questions that I know how to answer, but I'm really beginning to think I don't interview well. I also had to respond in writing to how I would plan & conduct a guided reading lesson. I feel like the first question was fine, the second question was okay, but of course I thought of things to add after I left. By the time I talked to the Principal I feel like I was tripping over my words, making no sense. I was in tears before I even made it out of the town (I live in the next town over). I cried the whole way home & then cried again later in front of my husband. I'm just frustrated with myself, because if I could make it to the 2nd round, which is teaching a reading lesson to a group of 1st graders, I know I could do a great job. This is what I do everyday. Teaching reading to a small group of 1st graders. Then after that they choose some candidates to interview with elementary administration, then from their some people move on to meet with the Superintendent who makes his recommendation to the board. I've never experiences this type of process, I know it exist, but this is serious, whoever is offered this position completely deserves it after all of this. So now it's just a waiting game, they are suppose to let the candidates know the beginning of next week. Part of me is still hoping that I have a chance. I have amazing letters of recommendation from my Curriculum Supervisor, Principal, Mentor, & the classroom teacher that I do in-class support with. Sorry this part was so long. Moving along now.

12 more days of school & 5 are 1/2 days. Though I think all of next week I will be completing DRA's for 2nd graders. That's okay though, we're almost there. The end is near!!!

And finally, I'm loving these chevron numbers by Blair Turner over at One Lesson at a Time. These cute numbers are actually a freebie on her Facebook page. I found them when I went to download her cute chevron & striped borders from her Tpt store. If you haven't checked her out before, stop by her blog & check her out. Some great ideas happening over there!

I hope everyone has a good weekend!

Thursday, May 30, 2013

ProTeacher - Thursday Rave 5/29/13 (Linky Party)

It's that time of the week already! Boy this week really flew by! It's time for Thursday Raves. I hope you had enough time between my very first rave, last week, and now to come up with something that you would like to rave about.

My rave this week is a quick one, short & to the point. It's about the teaching forum ProTeacher.

I found this site a few years ago, by chance, & it's something I frequent, usually daily. It's such a great place to ask a question and get advice, feedback, suggestions, etc. Or you can go to the Teacher's Lounge just to post good news or ask for prayers & thoughts. The picture above is what you see when you log on and as you can see there are a lot of different categories, and this is only the tip of the iceberg. There are also all kinds of groups. There's even a group about blogging. As you can see there's a room for each grade level, mostly at the elementary level, plus there's a place to vent, that's always a good time. The Busy Board is a general place to post general questions about education. Then the Teacher's Lounge is the spot for non-teaching/non-education posts.

I just love this site. It's such a place of great support. It's like the blogging world. I've found so many great ideas through blogging, Tpt, and Pinterest and on ProTeacher I've been able to look back in the history of past posts and have a question answered without even posting it. Or if I need to post a question, there is usually someone out there who might have an answer or be able to point me in the right direction.

If you didn't know about this sight before, go check it the way it's free. It's another great way to connect with all of our fellow educators out there.

I hope you will link up with me this week. I can't wait to hear what you have to rave about!!!

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Next School Year I'm Going to...(LINKY)

As the school year comes to a close for some & winds down for many it is that time of year when teacher's reflect on what did and didn't work this year, what new ideas they discovered that they would like to try, etc. In honor of those reflections I'm linking up with Kim at Joy in 6th Grade for her "Next school year, I am DEFINITELY going to..." linky. And bonus by linking up you could win a $25 Tpt Gift certificate.

 I have 4 things that I am definitely going to do next year & here they are in no certain order.

I came across Whole Brain Teaching (WBT) from this video of Ms. Freundlich doing a math lesson,  on Pinterest & I was immediately drawn in. From there I started researching WBT & found so many amazing Youtube videos, like this one of Ms. Farrah Shipley introducing WBT & the rules to her students or this one of her teaching her students about fractions. The level of engagement that these students experienced during the lesson amazed me. There were no glazed over eyes to be found, as the students sat there & listened to their teacher drone on. I know in times of student centered learning, workshop approaches, etc. there shouldn't be much of that left, but you'd be surprised. So even though I teach Basic Skills and only see my small group of students for 30 minutes a day, I'm still going to give this a try, which might be the best method for students who are in need of the extra reinforcement.

 I was fortunate this year that my school purchased a subscription to Reading A-Z to provide some of the teacher's like myself, Basic Skills and Specialists, with a leveled reader database. First, let me say that I love Reading A-Z. (Maybe more about that in a Thursday Rave ;) ) Now onto the organization part. Currently all of the books that I've printed and made student copies of are piled into a basket on my window ledge, as I have no place to store them & they are a wide range of levels, since I pull 1st and 2nd grade students during the day for Reading, I just didn't know what to do with them. That was until I read a post from this linky from Mrs. H over at Mrs. H's Resource Room about a method she found on Pinterest. 

Click on the picture to read about how Miss French from Wicked Fun in First Grade organized her Reading A-Z books. I absolutely love this idea, but my OCD would probably have me laminating ALL of the pages instead of just the covers. Boy would that be time consuming. So I need to give a big THANK YOU to Mrs. H for posting about this or I never would of found it.

In my quest to  help my struggling reader's I obviously need to find a different method of approaching the material, if it's not sinking in in the classroom, than I need to attack it a different way. My school is starting to head in the workshop direction. Well administration would like it to go that way, so it is still in the very early stages of coming to fruition. I have been reading about both and have implemented Writers' Workshop in my Kindergarten class, when I taught K a few years ago. I'm hoping between WBT & the workshop approach it will be the method that will reach my kiddos.

Being a Basic Skills teacher I not only pull small groups of students for Reading, but also for Math. At the beginning of the year I had my students working in centers, but as my group re-sized and changed over the months I slowly did away with them, because the numbers shrunk down. However, I really like this approach, just like for Reading and Writing, so I'm still working out in my head how this looks and feels for me. Unfortunately, there's not as much written on this subject as there is for Readers' and Writers' Workshop. 

Remember to join up with Kim and let us know what you will be doing differently next school year. The linky closes Sunday....What are you waiting for? Start reflecting and get to typing!!! 

Monday, May 27, 2013

Addition & Subtraction Wars: Manic Monday @ Classroom Freebies

Classroom Freebies Manic Monday
Today I'm linking up with Classroom Freebies for their Manic Monday Linky. 

Do remember playing the card game war? I use to play all the time with my Poppop. I thought an addition and subtraction version would be great practice for my 2nd graders to help them meet that Common Core Standard of adding and subtracting within 20 mentally. If you teach Kindergarten or 1st you could easily adapt this game to meet your corresponding standard of adding and subtracting within 5 (for Kindergarten) and within 10 (for first grade) by removing the appropriate number cards from the game. 

Here are a couple of pics of my kiddos playing Addition Wars.

The idea is pretty simple. Students flip over 2 cards & place them on the Card 1 & Card 2 spots. The partner with the highest sum gets to keep everyone's cards, just like in "War."

 With Subtraction I included a little reminder next to the card spot that the larger number card needs to go on the blue spot & the smaller number goes on the yellow spot. The partner with the lowest difference gets to keep everyone's cards.

If all players have the same sum or difference then I usually have my kiddos just keep their own cards. 

To help avoid confusion, I created a spot for the playing cards & make sure to remind my kiddos that they are to lay number side down, if not than they are fishing around in their pile for the highest cards. Then I created a spot for the cards that they win, either by having the highest sum or the lowest difference. When their playing card pile is empty, then they move their winning cards over to the playing cards pile. Remind them to give them a little shuffle before putting them into play.

When I made this game I didn't have any playing cards on hand, so I created my own cards, but that also allowed me to include numbers up to 20. For addition I only have my kids use numbers 0-10, then for subtractions I have them use all 0-20 cards. But use the cards as you see fit for your class. I make 4 copies of the cards, just like a deck of cards would have.

I also have my kiddos write down the number sentence that their 2 cards, plus the sum or difference would make, as well as their partners number sentence. Then they have to circle the highest sum/lowest difference. This is how I keep them accountable for their fact practice.

Here is an old copy of my record sheet. Yours is horizontal, but there are two sheets so it can be double sided, if they need more spaces.

Of course this little of mine forgot to circle the largest sum.

I really hope you find this game useful in your classroom & that your kiddos enjoy it as much as mine do.

Grab your Addition & Subtraction Wars Freebie here!!! or by clicking on the game board or record sheet pics.

Thanks so much for stopping by!!!

Friday, May 24, 2013

Five for Friday 5/24/13

1.) I created my very first linky party this week. It's called Thursday Raves, where you can rave about anything you want. Check out my first rave.

2.) I'm super excited that it's suppose to be 73 & sunny here on Memorial Day. Every other year it's usually raining & my whole family is trying to cram into my Grandparent's house that consists of 1 window air-conditioner. So it's always nice when the weather is nice & we can eat outside @ their big picnic table.

3.) I love family get togethers. Christmas Eve is actually my favorite day, more so than Christmas Day; because, my whole family comes to my Grandparent's house & we have a Pollyanna (gift exchange), Santa comes & hands out gifts, & there is a smorgasboard of food.

4.) I have a 1st round interview on Thursday. I'm so excited, it's my first one of the hiring season. If nothing else it's good interview practice. Trying to think positive about this.

5.) 16 more days of school (6 of them are 1/2 days...woot woot!!!)

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Thursday Raves 5/23/13

Welcome to the very first Thursday Raves with Polka Dot Palace!!!

Thursday Raves is quite simple. Write a post about something that you think is just awesome, amazing, marvelous, & stupendous; so glad you found it or someone told you about it. It may be a person, place, thing, website,'s really up to you. It doesn't necessarily have to be something that you have to have, (it's ok if is though) but it's something that you just thought was awesome & you need to "rave" about it to someone. Post it to your blog with the above picture in the post linked back to my weekly linky & voila!

Here's my first rave!!!

Scotch's Thermal Laminator
(I am in no way representing Scotch, I am simply expressing my opinion from personal experience)

This is the one that I have, but from looking at Wal-Mart's website it looks like they are carrying a newer one now.
This is what the newer one looks like, from Wal-Mart's website, but it seems like they use the same pouches.

 A few years ago a friend of mine was telling me about hers and how much she loved it and it was really useful for small items. One night the mister and I were at Wal-Mart and they were relatively inexpensive there, like $25-$30, so I snagged one and my life changed forever.

It's great because there's no film to change, you put what you want laminated into one of these pouches and send the pouch through the laminator. Scotch makes a few different sized pouches; I've used the 8.5x11 & the 9x12 and put multiple small items in it, like calendar pieces.

I really like to use mine for things that my kiddos are going to use a lot. The lamination from the pouches is thicker than your typical school laminator, so cardstock + Scotch laminating = very sturdy.
I tend to laminate playing cards, flash cards, etc. that the kids will be touching and playing with a lot to try and give them some longevity.

I also like to use it for my smaller pieces because it is easier to lay small pieces in the pouch, then to try & line them up with a big, school laminator. For instance, I have a calendar pocket chart and laminated all of the date pieces with my Scotch laminator instead of trying to beat the rollers on a big laminator.

If you don't already have a laminator like this I would highly recommend one. I don't think you would regret this purchase, especially if you're like me....I laminate everything!!!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Get Ready....for a Linky Party!!!

Hello to all my friends. I'm giving you a little advanced warning that I will be venturing into the world of linky parties! That's right me and my little, baby blog will be holding a linky party tomorrow, Thursday, May 23rd! So get your gears a thinking about what you want to rave about to all of us eager followers. I'm planning on making this a weekly, Thursday linky. I know I already have a long list of all the things that I want to rave about. Even if introduces one person to it (whatever it might be) I'll feel like it was all worth it.
Here's the image, so when you see it tomorrow you know it's time to link up & let us all know what you have to rave about.

I can't wait to read all about everyone's ravings!!!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Instagram Linky (So super late on this)

I'm definitely very late on linking up, but better late then never. So I'm linking up with What the Teacher Wants and Apples and ABC's for their Teacher Talk Tuesday on Instagram.

I'm still a bit of a newbie  when it comes to Instagram. Right now I only have two pictures.

Here's my 1 of 2.

And this is my first Teachertalktuesday picture.

Look me up on Instagram my name is "polkadotpalace". I check my followers frequently so I can add more friends to follow, I love seeing what's going on. :)

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Let's Get Acquainted...Meet 2 of My Bloggy Friends

Today I'm linking up with Flying into First Grade for her Sunday Let's Get Acquainted Linky Party. The topic this week is meet 2 of my bloggy friends. Now since I'm a fledgling blog I don't have many friends to choose from, but it was still a tough choice.

My first pick is Tessa from Tales from Outside the Classroom & Tales from a Blog Designer

Tessa designed my blog & did an absolutely fabulous job!!! She was so easy to work with and had my blog design completed before I knew it.

Check out this great freebie she has in her Tpt store. {Click the picture to head over there} It's a short-vowel game, where students read the word and decide if it's real or fake. This is a great game for student's to play especially if you use DIBELS and have to give the NWF test. 

My second pick is Caitlin & Carrie from Table Talk with C&C

Table Talk with C&C

I just adore their blog. They are sharing some great ideas over there & the kids in their classroom are really lucky to have 2 great teachers.

I found this simple, yet amazing freebie in Carrie's Tpt store & immediately downloaded it. This will be perfect for my 2nd graders to organizer their coins when counting. {Click the picture to head over there}
And if you are joining in on the popularity of QR codes then head over to Caitlin's Tpt store & pick up this gem of a freebie on measurement. I love when my students can self check & this measurement activity has them doing just that through QR codes. {Click the picture to head there}

Okay this is the last one I promise. This one isn't a freebie; however, it is inexpensive & on my wish list to remind myself to purchase this pack. Reading is Thinking...with Post-Its. When I saw the blog post describing this I knew it was for me, especially since I had just gone over this with my littles about how good readers are constantly thinking, questioning, etc. while they are reading. {Click the picture to head over to Carrie's Tpt store}

Sorry this turned out to be a long post, but I hope you found it useful & have found some new friends.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Budding Blog

I'm linking up with I {heart} Recess for the Budding Blog linky. Head over & check out the new blogs on the block.

1. Why did you start blogging?
I've been inspired by all the wonderful blogs out there & the great sense of community here. I wanted to share my journey and be inspired by others.

2. What is your favorite subject to teach and why?
I love to teach math. As a kid I was h-o-r-r-i-b-l-e at math, but back then it was this is how you do it, now sit at your desk & solve these 50 problems, then do 50 more for homework. By the time I got home I couldn't remember how to do the problems. Even though my math (K-2) is not complicated, I love finding/coming up with ways for my littles to practice their facts or work with time and money in a fun and engaging way.

3. Describe your teaching style.
I am very much a small group, centers-based teacher, if that makes sense. I do very little whole group, except for mini-lessons & share time. Other than that my students are rotating through centers and a small group with me. I love that I can give a more individualized education to my students when they see me in small group & are reinforcing learned concepts at the different centers they visit.

4. Give three interesting facts about you.

  • I love zombies. (That's actually more of a dirty little secret that only my family knows) I love zombie movies & shows. Yes, I do watch AMC's "The Walking Dead." 
  • I work with my former, 4th grade teacher, who was my favorite teacher in school & use to live on my street.
  • My favorite genre of music on Pandora is 90's R&B

5. Do you have a TpT store?
Yes I do. Polka-Dot-Palace It's still very small, but I have a long list of things waiting to be created & am in the works of creating a place value activity to post next week. ;)

Friday, May 17, 2013

Five for Friday with Doodle Bugs Teaching

My first linky. Yay! I'm linking up with Doodle Bugs Teaching for Five for Friday.

1.) I absolutely love this shirt. The first time I saw it I had to contain my laughter in front of my littles. Maybe as a teacher I'm suppose to be offended, but I'm not because I can relate. I hated Math in school & oddly enough it's my favorite thing to teach my kids.
Excuse the cheese doodle dust all over my student's shirt, I took this right after he had eaten snack. 

2.) I received an e-mail from our Curriculum Supervisor who is also the Basic Skills supervisor, that at this point the district has not been notified as to how much NCLB funds we will receive next year, which jeopardizes my current part-time position. Even though I'm looking for a full-time position, it's still nice to know that I have this position to fall back on, maybe not now.

3.) My big boy got a really big boy haircut yesterday. I told the Mister to have them just buzz it off. Our little guy's hair was getting long & it seemed to be all different lengths. I thought maybe if we buzzed it off we would get rid of the baby hair. I don't know if that's what's going to happen, but I still like the haircut. It's perfect for the warmer months.
Poor guy looks so tired in this picture.

4.) Started DIBELS testing this week. It's the first time we are doing it, it's more of a practice run for us with full implementation next year. So far so good, but I'm not a big fan of the retell part of the oral reading. I feel like there has to be an easier way.

5.) 21 more days of school & 6 of those days are half days!!!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Spelling Word Detectives

Hello Blog World!!!

My first official post and it includes a freebie!!!

I wanted to share the Spelling activity that my firsties do on Thursday to help prep them for their weekly Spelling test the next day. We play Word Detectives and they love it. I told them today that's what we were doing & there were cheers of glee as they entered the room.

I just created this cute & snazzy version, which I've been meaning to do for weeks, in the mean time the kids had to use the boring version...but here it is the upgraded version. (Click the link below the picture for your copy) You'll see on the clues notepad, I've made that my spot to write the weekly spelling pattern(s) as a reminder for them.

How they use this record sheet:

Each student circulates around the room and visits each of the 10 stations, where they find a spelling word scrambled up. They have to unscramble the word and record the correct spelling in the corresponding numbered box. I try to give them a variety of tools to spell their words. For example, I use letter stamps, felt, magnet, die-cut and Scrabble letters. Sometimes I'll use the fridge magnet tool on the Smartboard and have that be a station or write letters on index cards and put them in a pocket chart. Below are some pictures of them unscrambling their words with the spelling pattern -ow. 

Letters written on different shapes

Letter stamps

Die-cute letters

Magnets on the chalkboard
The old boring record sheet :(

This version has a list of their Spelling words on it; however, now that we've been doing this for a while, I just display the list on the Smartboard and ask them to try and figure out the word first and if they get stuck to look at the Smartboard. They are still doing a great job doing it this way.

Since I see my students in a pull-out setting this is easier for me with 6 students, then it would be in a regular classroom. So here's my solution for a regular classroom on how to use this during Word Work.

If it was me (& I hope soon it is me with a regular classroom position) I would buy 10 small pencil box/storage box from the dollar store and put letter tiles in each box and label the outside of each box 1-10 and store in a crate, so students have easy access to this activity, yet it doesn't require much set-up and can be stored easily. 

I hope you can find a use for this in your classroom & that your students love it as much as mine do. Enjoy!!!