Sunday, September 6, 2015

LaborLESS BLOG HOP is Here!

Main Graphic Laborless

Hello everyone!


It is Finally here!

Today, I am linking with Laura from Where the Magic Happens, Krista from Teaching Momster, and Lisa from PAWsitively Teaching! I have joined forces once again with my blogging friends to bring you the best, most amazing, giveaway this Labor Day weekend!  We have been thinking about fabulous ways we can treat our readers and followers.   We thought hard, and I mean it! Really, really hard… and decided that we can treat you to our best ideas to work smarter, rather than harder… at school and home!
I know what it takes to be a great teacher... the stress, the time, the energy… I could go on and on! I also know that we crave time to ourselves and our families.

So here I go!


Daily "To Do" List

It's never to early to teach children organization and executive skills.  After practically pulling my hair out trying to keep up with who wasn't finished with what and all the make-up work that a rash of absences caused, I decided to teach my students how to work with a "To Do" list.  Let me show you what it looks like in my class:

Each morning my students get a new "To Do" list.  The one shown above is for a self-contained third grade classroom.  The night before, I would type the list based on my lesson plan for the next day and include different types of assignments they would need to complete that day.  It might include a warm-up activity, anchor stations, reading group assignments, projects, daily routines, etc. The expectation is that they will be given enough time to complete their "To Do" list in that school day"  I leave one blank at the end to add something if I need to.  

If a student does not finish his/her assignments, it would be moved to "Unfinished Work" to tackle the next day.  As time goes by, this list gives the students a concrete method to help manage their time. It also is a tool for teachers to use to help students reflect on how their time is being used.  Some finish too fast and could take more time to ensure the accuracy of their work.  Some waste time sharpening their pencil and going to the bathroom.  Whatever the issue, the "To Do" list puts time management exactly where it should be.....with the student.    



I discovered meditation years ago as I was struggling with postpartum depression after delivering my first child.  I was desperate to try anything to help me feel like myself again.  My OB-GYN doctor recommended it and I found and expert teach me what it was all about.  

At first I focused decreasing stress, depression, and anxiety.  I could not believe how successful it was.  Pretty soon I was applying it to all aspects of my life.  Here is a great infographic to give you a snapshot of what it's about. 

A great app to help you get started is called Headspace.  It was invented by a former Buddhist monk and is geared towards busy people like you and me.  

I highly recommend meditation.  I hope it changes your life for the better, as it has changed mine.


Forgotten Homework Binder

This is one of my favorite creations in my TPT store.  It is so simple, but has really curbed my students' forgotten homework.  It adds a measure of accountability to completing homework as the student is recording why it wasn't completed.   If needed, it is documentation to share with parents during parent conferences. 


Top all these great tips and ideas with these top-notch prizes!

A $100 gift card to Amazon

A $50 gift card to TpT


2 $25 gift cards to TpT

1 $10 gift card to TpT

Thank you for reading! And don't forget to enter these awesome giveaways!!" title="click to view in an external page.">An InLinkz Link-up

Monday, August 10, 2015

Book Awards Feed My Obsession

2015 Caldecott Honor Book
2015 Sibert Medal Winner
2015 Orbis Pictis Honor Book
     I have a slight obsession with constantly hunting for the best books to add to my classroom library.  I, literally, could label, sticker, rearrange, feature, and work with my little library all day long.  I really try to know what each book is about so I can help my students learn how to select books that are just right for them.  

     You can imagine my excitement when book awards are announced each year.  Most of them are "musts" to add to my library.  For those of you who are as obsessed as I am, I have gathered all the award winners for you to see in one place.  Enjoy!

Laura Ingalls Wilder Award

2015 Caldecott Medal

Schneider Family Book Award, Ages 11-13
2015 Theodor Geisel Award

2015 Newbery Medal Winner
2015 Coretta Scott King Honor Award Winner

National Book Award Winner
Schneider Family Book Award, Ages 0 - 10

2015 Pura Belpre Author Award 

The Andrew Carnegie Medal

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Day 3 - Classroom Tips from Vegas

It's Day 3 of Classroom Tips from Vegas. In case you missed it, I just returned from and education conference in Las Vegas where I met some awesome teachers.   I am excited to share with you what I learned from them!

Day 3 - Jen from Hello Mrs. Sykes

Hello Mrs. Sykes

Jen was one of my favorite teachers I met in Vegas.  She is so down-to-earth and "real" that I can only imagine how awesome it must be to be a student in her classroom.  Reading through her blog is like opening a treasure chest of literacy loot.  Where do I start?

Jen has created an engaging way to introduce vocabulary to your students every day, called Mystery Word of the Week.  It is a strategy that she has created to encourage students to discuss words, their meanings, and share their reasoning.  

Each day, the students receive a clue to the mystery word.  

Day 1 - first letter, number of letters, and part of speech
Day 2 - synonyms
Day 3 - antonyms 
Day 4 - context sentence
Day 5 - The Reveal! including the definition and a context sentence.

How brilliant is that?   Let's try one of Jen's examples:

Day 1 - i _ _ _ _ _ _ _, adjective
Day 2 - bright, radiant, lustrous
Day 3 - dull, lackluster
Day 4 - The campers moved swiftly through the darkness, guided 
             _________ glow of their lanterns.
Day 5 - luminous: glowing or reflecting light; radiant
             The luminous full moon was clearly reflected in the water. 

Vocabulary is so important.  I love how this strategy shows students the different ways to find the meaning of a word.  

Visit Jen's blog learn more about literacy strategies in your classroom!

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Day 2 - Classroom Tips from Vegas!

Thank you for joining me for Day 2 of Classroom Tips from Vegas. In case you missed it, I just returned from and education conference in Las Vegas where I met some awesome teachers.   I am excited to share with you what I learned from them!

Day 2 - Kathy from Tried and True Teaching


This is the second year in a row that I got to spend some time with my sweet, California teacher-friend, Kathy.  She recently wrote a blog post about why it is important to integrate art into your lessons.  Consider this quote from the Kennedy Center's Arts Edge online resource center.  

It seems as though art integration is being abandoned earlier and earlier in a child's education.  Yet there are sound reasons that explain why we shouldn't do this.  

Kathy states "that, as teachers, we are always pressed for time (there's never enough), but planning integrated learning experiences that generate meaningful, in-depth creative projects for our students is so worth it.  To see the connections they make while engaged in the process validates the importance of life-long learning. Life is not lived in a bubble, and the arts should not be taught as such. Our students need to be given the opportunity to discover their own "elegant fits" across disciplines, and I believe this is possible through the arts integrations". 

Check out Kathy's post for more in-depth information about art integration.  There is also a Part 2 post which shows Art Integration in action

Don't forget to join me for Day 3 - Classroom Tips from Vegas tomorrow!

Monday, July 13, 2015

Day 1 - Classroom Tips from Vegas!

I just got back from attending an education conference in exciting Las Vegas!  I couldn't get to my computer fast enough to share with you some awesome tips for your classroom I discovered while talking to other teachers while I was there.  I will be sharing them for the next few here on my blog.

Day 1  - Tips from Karen from Cool School with Karen

Cool School with Karen

Karen uses engaging Powerpoint presentations to introduce grammar in her classroom.  Her favorite lesson is called "Contraction Surgery - Contraction General Hospital".  

Contraction Surgery is not a new concept.  But Karen explained to me why this product is special.

She used this approach for a few years, but could always imagine a more exciting video clip playing inside her head.  Her teacher partners say that she sees everything in life through Power Points. She says it took a LOT of work to create this slideshow, but it definitely had the desired effect.  Upper grade teachers tell her that her former second-graders still talk about Contraction General Surgery! They encourage their teachers to show it in class to the kids who are new and haven't seen it.  

The Power Point includes embedded sounds and actions. She always cracks up when the kids react to the excised letter turning red and dropping off.  

Karen also has a free download of a quick assessment you can use after the lesson.  Click on the picture below to print a copy. 

Karen told me that this approach has helped parents understand how to spell contractions.  She says that if she can play even a small part in the "War on Apostrophe Abuse," she will have lived a worthwhile life.  You gotta love a teacher with a sense of humor!

Stop by tomorrow to read about another Tip from Vegas!  And to learn more about the conference in Vegas, read the following Linky Party posts by clicking on the picture below. 

Monday, June 22, 2015

Nutshell #1: Fostering Lifelong Readers

I'm so excited to announce my summer blogging series called "Teaching Tips in a Nutshell".  During the summer I love to read and study ways I can improve my performance in the classroom. This series is intended to pass this learning on to you in a brief recap, or a "nutshell"!  So, here we go!

Recently, Donalyn Miller, author of The Book Whisperer, was a keynote speaker at the Teachers College at Columbia University, Reading & Writing Project.  She spoke about the importance, the research, and the ways teachers can help students become lifelong readers.  It is an interesting article titled "Donalyn Miller Teaches Important Lessons about Fostering Lifelong Readers".  The following are Ms. Miller's tips "in a nutshell"!

Each of the Teaching Tips will be available in my TPT store for FREE.  The file will grow with each tip I blog about.  

I hope you enjoy this series!

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Manners, not rules, at School

Click on the picture to get this FREEBIE!

Check out my latest FREEBIE! This is the perfect one page guide to help children understand what behaviors are expected in your classroom. 

Why do I use the word "Manners"?   Teachers often talk about "rules", "behaviors", or "expectations".  But, these terms are can be perceived as authoritarian, and often drive wedges between a teacher and a student, or parents and a student. When an adult teaches a child "manners", it is perceived as being helpful and supportive.  Manners are a life-long skill that all children need. Although most children have heard their parents refer to good manners at home, this lesson doesn't often extend to the classroom as parents aren't there to teach and reinforce the lessons.  

The bottom line is a win-win-win set of expectations.  Win #1 - Teachers get to express their expected behaviors.  Win #2 - Children feel loved and supported when we remind them of what good manners are.  And Win# 3 - parents see the teacher as a partner in helping to mold their child into a mannerly citizen.  

For example, Johnny is constantly blurting out answers in class and being unkind to table-mates.  He doesn't like being corrected, and tells his parents that the teacher is picking on him.  When this leads to a conference, all of a parent's defensiveness dissipates when the discussion turns to teaching appropriate manners and becoming a good citizen.  We all want this for any child and we are helping to achieve this in a classroom setting.  

Try it next year!  Start out the school year by telling the class that you have no classroom rules.  As long as they are always using their very best manners, there is no need for "rules".  Let me know how it goes!

If you download it from my TPT Store, I would really appreciate if you would consider following my store and leaving feedback! Thanks!

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