Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Techie Tips Tuesday

One of the many things that I love about the blogging world is that fellow teachers are always willing to share tips to help those of us newbies to not only blogging but TPT product creation.  I will admit I have been a teaching blog addict for several years and have just recently been brave enough to try it myself.  Today I wanted to share a few videos that I have found very helpful along the way:)

First I was very excited when I discovered how to get rid of that annoying security box for comments that I did not even know existed!  I actually thought it was a security feature that people added to their comments.  Silly me!   I very rarely have spam comments slip through even though it is deactivated.  Maria from Kindergarten Craze has a very helpful.  Click the picture below or website link to read this post.

I just learned this little tidbit recently and used it for the first time yesterday.  I will be honest that I haven't been adding a preview to my TPT items because I feel lucky enough to finish my product and get it posted.   I run out of steam to do the preview although as a buyer I use the preview option a ton.  When I discovered this post from Ideas by Jivey and Mrs. Dwyer's A+ Firsties I was totally pumped!  This post references how to use a free program Picasa to create a product collage within minutes!! 
 Here is a what I created yesterday for my latest product update. 
I definitely look forward to playing around with this tool.

Another thing that I have struggled with is adding horizontal and vertical pages to the same product.  It is definitely one of my biggest frustrations with Powerpoint because there are times that I want both a horizontal and vertical pages in my creation.  I don't know about you guys!  

I was super excited when Erica Bohrer made this tech video explaining how to do this and it is soooo easy.  The bad news is it is a video for Mac users only (which I am).  I am not sure how to do this on a PC:(  Sorry!

I was THRILLED to be able have a vertical and horizontal page for this sort.
My border got all distorted when I tried to do it horizontally.

I get totally excited when I pick up a new tidbit of information and I feel so fortunate that those who have come before me are so graciously willing to share their knowledge!!  I love to create and want to have the best product possible and any new knowledge helps.

Other blogs to check out for tech tips are:
Ashley Hughes from:

Jessica Stanford from Mrs. Stanford's Class

Christi Fultz from Ms. Fultz's Corner actually has created her own collection of techie Youtube videos!!  I have utilized videos from all three of these ladies and found them really beneficial.  I hope that you do too!

Hopefully you have gained your own tidbit of knowledge from this post:)
Any thoughts, comments or suggestions are welcome!

Until Next Time!


Monday, July 29, 2013

More Magic Squares!

WHOA! Where did my summer go? 

Between teaching summer school, a trip to Vegas, visiting family and friends, and planning my wedding - I'm hardly ready to say good-bye to summer and head back into my classroom. But I guess it has to be done...

However, today's post is going to be short and sweet because I'm a busy lady! (As I know you all are as well!)

I recently updated seven Magic Square products and two freebies in my TpT store. Please click on either picture below to read more about my recent project!


Saturday, July 27, 2013

Why I Daily 5

Hey everyone!  It's Lisa from Always an Adventure in Kindergarten!
As we are all thinking about heading back (or some of you poor souls are back already <gasp>), I know many of you are thinking about taking the Daily 5 plunge.  All I can say is DO IT!  You won't be sorry! 
The Daily Five

I first heard of Daily 5 probably about 5 years ago.  I was then a Title Reading teacher that went from class to class to work with struggling readers.  I instantly fell in love with Daily 5 because it gave me so much more flexibility in my intervention time than I had when the teacher had students in traditional literacy centers.  Last year, I returned to a classroom teaching Kindergarten and was SO excited to try my hand at implementing Daily 5 myself.  I jumped in with both feet and never looked back.  I really feel like I truly implemented Daily 5 with validity.  We did all 5 Daily rotations each day.  The kids chose the order in which they did each Daily.  I did mini-lessons in between.  I wouldn't have it any other way!  I could go on and on, but I think I'll just hit the highlights with this "Why I Daily 5" list!
1. It creates a very routine and procedure driven classroom
We spend a tremendous amount of time at the beginning of the year learning procedures and building stamina.  These skills then carry over into all other activities in our classroom.  My math centers run smoother because of the procedures and routines learned during Daily 5.  Heck, I think even the drinking fountain line runs smoother because they have more stamina!  Ha!  By about November, my Daily 5 time ran like clockwork-WITH KINDERGARTENERS!  Yes, people, they CAN do it!
2.  It allows kids to work on their own level
This is the biggy for me, especially with kindergarteners.  Last year, I had students come in that couldn't identify any letters or write their name and I had a few that were already reading at a first grade level.  With Daily 5, this isn't even an issue.  They each fill their book box with books that meet their needs and interests.  They get to write as little or as much as they can during Work on Writing.  During Listen to Reading, I could set them up with apps or websites that allowed them to work on their level.  I could go on and on!
3. It gives me flexibility with my small groups
I love that I can pull a group over to my table, work with them and see that Johnny needs a little bit more work on a certain skill. I could send the rest of the group back to their Dailys and keep Johnny for a few extra minutes.  By not having "meet the teacher" as one of the rotations, everyone always had an activity to work on.  Yes, they may miss part of it or all of it that day because they were with me, but because they didn't move through the Dailys in the same order each day, they weren't missing the same thing over and over.  (does that even make sense?!) I was OK with the fact that Jonny missed Work on Writing today because I knew that he wouldn't miss it tomorrow-get it?!  My intervention teachers that come into my classroom would agree wholeheartedly with this, too.  They can spend extra time with one or two students without having to find activities for the rest of the group to work on. 
4. It builds independence and confidence
I'm not sure I even need to elaborate on this one!  By building up their stamina so that they can work quietly for 20 minutes, we are creating more independent workers.  By allowing them to always work at their level, they are much more successful and therefore more confident in themselves.
Like I said, I could go on and on!  And, no, I'm not a paid spokesperson for Daily 5!  Although I could be! I just love it THAT much! 
If you haven't read the book, you still have time before school starts.  It's a really quick read.  You can also check out the website for Daily 5.  There's lots of great stuff over there!
Thanks for hanging with me!  I'll see you next month on the 27th, when I'll already have the first week back under my belt!  If you think you might miss me by then, you can always head over to Always an Adventure in Kindergarten and see me there!
Always An Adventure

Friday, July 26, 2013

A Hurt Heart

Hi, I am Teresa from Fun in K/1.  I am starting to get my stuff together for next year and thought I would share a great lesson and freebie I use every year to help teach about hurt feelings.

I read a typical beginning of they year story like Chrysanthemum.   The first time we read it together for enjoyment and discuss the book together.  Then the next day I re-read the story with the class.  This time I pass out a paper heart to each student.  I also have a larger paper heart.    (Click here to download one to print out.) 

I tell the students that each time someone says something mean or hurtful to make Chrysanthemum feel sad we will crinkle the paper heart; just like it hurt Chrysanthemum's heart. Towards the end of the story we all have our hearts wadded up.  When they apologize for the hurtful things, I have them smooth their hearts out.  The hearts look better, but you can still see the wrinkles from the hurtful things that were said.  Just like when you say or do hurtful things an apology helps make it better, but you still hurt that person's heart.  I have the students take their hearts home and hang my wrinkled heart up by our class rules as a reminder for the year.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Using iPods for Listening Centers

I hope everyone is enjoying their summer! I've spent a great deal of time catching up with friends, reading books and relaxing at the lake! I'm currently traveling on the East Coast. So fabulous to get away for a bit {and meet up with some of my BBFs!}

This was a popular post on my blog, so I thought I'd share it with all of you! 

Like many others, I've used Listening Centers in my classroom for years.  Not only is listening to a fluent model an important part of a balanced literacy program, it is also one of the few times you can get a first grader to be quiet!

For years, I spent countless money and burned through Scholastic points to curate a collection of Listening Center books and tapes.  Fast forward to 2013 and kids have no idea what a tape is, making those expensive Listening Center sets near obsolete!
I always chuckle when I see this picture on Pinterest because it's so true! 

Since the dawn of iPods, kids seriously have no idea how to use a Walkman! I felt like I spent a great deal of my Daily 5 time showing kids how to press play, stop and flip the tape over to rewind {which is a totally strange idea anyway!}

Well one day...genius struck! I realized I needed to get iPods into the classroom because kids are so familiar with them! So, I begged asked my principal to buy me some iPods. He was able to order one, which is awesome, but definitely not enough to keep those little ones quiet! 

Genius struck again...I asked parents to donate their old iPhones so we could use them as iPods during Daily 5 time! I strategically campaigned for these old iPhones just as parents were upgrading to the iPhone 5.  :)

Here's how I store my iPods for Daily 5 use. I found these adorable mini-caddies in the dollar spot at Target.  We had a big lesson on how to take care of the iPods and keep the earbuds as tangle-free as possibly!

Now, I'm not gonna lie - it was a HUGE time commitment to convert all of my tapes to mp3s, but it was SO worth it! It's a super simple process, just time consuming.  Really, all you need to do is plug the converter into your computer, press play on the tape, let it play out and select "convert to mp3" once it's done. It then automatically loads it into iTunes! 

To do this, I bought the ion Tape Express.  Oddly, I found it at Kohl's, but they do sell it on Amazon. Click the picture to see it on Amazon. 

I also spent a little time organizing my library on iTunes in the hope that it would make using the iPods a little simpler for the kids.

I only put the Music app on the dock so the kids wouldn't be distracted by anything! 
For each story, I added the cover photo so it would be easier for the non-readers to find! 
When they find the story, they simply tap the title and snuggle up with the book! 
As I said, it was a laborious project, but it was totally worth it! I feel so techie :) 

Occasionally, I ask my students to fill out a response to the book.  

Click {here} to snag a copy. 
Font: Rowdy in Room 300 Graphics: Ashley Hughes Border: Dancing Crayon Designs

I'd love for you to pop over to Lucky to Be in First & become a follower for more practical tips, classroom ideas, and teaching resources!


Monday, July 22, 2013

Classroom Routines

Happy Monday!  Renee here from Fantastic First Grade Froggies.  I am actually in Chicago this week for the Extraordinary Educator's Conference.  I can't wait to share all about it!  If you are interested in our adventures, hop on over to my Facebook page, where I will post pics throughout the conference.

Well, ready or not the new school year is coming.  I wanted to talk a bit about setting up classroom routines and expectations. By starting the year off on the right foot and sticking with your plan, you will be able to manage your class a little better.  We spend a lot of time on the carpet in my class, so I start off on day 1 with modeling carpet expectations and active listening.  For years I have had four rules/expectations for the carpet and used these signs.

Nothing fancy at all!  So this year I have decided to make them a bit more cute.   Here are the new ones:


 In the beginning, I read the cue cards and have kids model what it looks like.  Next, I have kids read them and continue to model.  After a while, all I have to do is show the cards and they know what the expectations are.  Click the picture below to download the cue cards.  I hope you enjoy them.

Thanks for stopping by and make it a great Monday!

Friday, July 19, 2013

Dog Days of Summer Giveaway

Howdy Y'all! The authors at Teaching Blog Roundup are teaming up for a "Dog Days of Summer Giveaway!"

The Dog Days of Summer Giveaway Grand Prize
Winners Choice from these TpT Stores
HoJo's Teaching Adventures, The Phonics Phenomenon, KFUNdamentals ($12 or less), JD's Rockin' Readers, Always and Adventure in Kindergarten, Little Miss Primary, Hopkins' Hoppin' Happenings ($12 or less), Primary Junction, The First Grade Scoop, Fun for First, Fun in K/1, Miss V's Busy Bees, You Might Be a First Grader...
Vocabulary Work for Literacy Centers from Primary Inspiration
Lemonade Stand Craftivity from Teaching in the Tongass
Backpack Bonanza from Fantastic First Grade Froggies
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Not only do you have a chance to win this awesome prize, we are giving you more! (You can join us in the giving fun too!) Check out all of these blogs giving you a great freebie and/or having a huge sale!  Feel free to link up and grab the code to share on your blog too!
get the InLinkz code

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Race to a Dollar! {Counting Coins Freebie!}

Hi TBR friends...
It's Erin from Little Miss Primary!

The Teacher Wife

I am so excited to be with you today to share one of my favorite/my readers' favorite money games!!
FOR FREE! Woohoo!!

I saw a coin counting idea in a really old issue of the Mailbox Magazine and knew that I wanted to create a similar game for my kiddos! It has been a huge hit in the classroom.

The game involves identifying and adding coins to one dollar and can be supported with all kinds of manipulatives!! You could use this game in a math station, for individual practice (adapted), or as a bit of partner fun!

To Play:
Students will use a pencil and paperclip to create the spinner. Taking turns, students will spin the paperclip and add the new coins to their current total. The goal is to be the first player to make one dollar! Watch out, though--if a little lands on the "Start Over" space, they must begin back at $0.00. Bummer!!

Here is what you'll need:
Blank Paper 

The blank paper is to be used as a recording sheet. To save paper and the environment (woo!), kids could use a white board and dry erase marker, or even a dry erase marker and their desk!
(If you choose to go the desk+marker route, you will be a superstar.)

Here are optional materials that would be really great/beneficial/supportive/etc to use:
Coins--play or real, to collect as they land on various amounts
Hundreds board--if addition is a struggle, they could color in the value of collected coins

To download the freebie from TpT, click the picture below!

If you download the freebie, please leave me some feedback!!
I'd love to know what you and your kiddos think. 
Really really.

Thanks for stopping by and enjoy your summertime, teacher friends!!
P.S. Has anyone noticed that I have only posted about mathematics?! Haha! Oops!

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Online Education

Howdy!  Today we have a guest author at TBR.   Welcome Karen!
How Online Education Affects Individual Students
Online learning has permeated almost every level of education in one way or another from pre-school aged children to master’s degree university students. This shift from traditional learning to an online format offers several benefits but it also can be taxing on individual students, which is why as educators it is important to understand how the term “online learning” is implemented at all levels of education as well as the affect it may have on the individual students we teach.
How Online Education is Implemented in Pre-K through College Education
Many of us are aware of how online learning is implemented for college level students (more on that later) but how is this new learning style applicable to non-college aged learners?
·       Pre-K
Many parents have downloaded learning apps to their mobile devices that educate their toddlers and pre-school aged children in shapes, numbers and letters, all items that in the past were taught by parents instead of computers. These programs allow for quick access to learning tools and also entertain/teach toddlers during an important growth time in their life.
·       Elementary
Elementary student education utilizes online learning through internet-based homework programs, interactive teaching formats that encourage student and parent participation or through tutor curriculums like StudyDog that helps children improve their reading levels and comprehension through online reading programs.
·       Middle School And High School
Middle school and high school’s are implementing online education in several ways including offering entire classes in an online format for courses that may be held at another school (usually language or technical trade classes such as French or animation), repurposing lessons online for students who may have missed the class or for group project management. There are also several home school online learning formats available for students at all levels of education.
·       Universities
University education has slowly migrated towards online education with some of the nation’s most prestigious universities now offering online degrees through online doctoral programs, masters, bachelors and associate programs.  This learning format is great for college students because it offers flexible, cost effective and cohesive learning solutions through online coursework with a wide array of resources available. But regardless of how well-rounded and accepted online education has become the question of how online learning affects individual students still remains.
Individual Growth and Development through Online Education
There have been numerous studies conducted to enlighten parents, educators and students on the benefits and disadvantages of online education. The majority of those studies suggest that online learning offers scheduling flexibility, cost effectiveness and computer skills but we want to explore how online education actually affects an individual student. To do this, let’s look at three student types- all in different levels of education with different learning needs.
·       Student Profile 1: Pre-Kindergarten Student
The timeframe between pre-k and elementary school is a vital time in a young student’s life as it is a time of growth and key development. Online education during this time can be convenient for parents and teach core necessities to young students but it can also create barriers in other aspects of this learning/developmental phase. Toddlers between the ages of two and five often learn the most from interaction during this stage of life and while online learning here requires them to interact with a screen, it can also limit the interaction with adults and other children, resulting in social ineptitude. Experts suggest balancing the amount of time a child at this age learns from online education and from peers as well as adults.
·       Student Profile 2: High School Student
Most high school students are always on the go, barely having time for homework between actual classes, after school extra circular activities, enjoying time with friends and spending time with family. Student athletes at this age often have difficulties if they’ve missed a class for an away game which makes online learning through lesson repurposing an ideal way for them to catch up on missed classes. Other students may wish to take a language class offered at another school but have no transpiration. This is easily negated through online learning where students can converge in a classroom and learn through video streaming, online programs and more.  One set back however may be that certain students learn better through face-to-face interaction, which is why online learning for students at the high school level is recommended to include video streaming or video taught lessons.
·       Student Profile 3: University Master’s Degree Student
The need to balance education with family, career and finances can be very stressful for traditional university attendee but online coursework allows master’s degree students to balance all of these things in a productive and educational way. Online education provides flexibility in scheduling, cost-effective solutions (through less travel as well as materials needed) and an atmosphere of peers to assist one another. All of these things make online education a wonderful choice for university students in ways that may have not been applicable to the earlier levels of education.
Online Education for Your Students
 Online learning has permeated almost every level of education and this shift from traditional learning to an online format offers several benefits to students of all ages. But as educators it is important to understand that online learning may not work well for all students and it is most beneficial for older students who have surpassed the early developmental stages of their growth. High school and college students stand to gain the most from online learning while younger students may do better to balance online learning with traditional methods for the best educational experience.  Have you had any experience with online learning yourself or with your students? Do you agree that younger students should have a balance or do you have a different opinion? Tell us about it in the comments!
About the Author
Karen works as the Online Ambassador for Liberty University Online.  During the evening hours her interests lie in freelance writing, the occasional road trip for a Krystal slider, and finding opportunities to better her vegetable and fruit garden.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

My Resolution: Better Anchor Charts!

Hey everyone! It's Angie here from The First Grade Scoop! I hope you all are enjoying your summer break. I don't know about you, but I feel like it's going WAY. TOO. FAST!

I have been thinking a lot about my goals for next year, and organizing how I want to go about using new routines in my classroom (more of a workshop approach in math is a big one!). But something I want to focus on that I think will show BIG impact is simplifying my anchor charts!

I don't know about you, but when I first started teaching, my anchor charts were very busy and often more of a record of our thinking about a particular book. Over the years, I've evolved my charts to be much more general and applicable to a variety of texts, but I realized, WAIT A SECOND! I teach first graders. Some of my students start the year at a level A book. I want to make those charts accessible to even my most emergent readers!

So I stumbled upon this AWESOME book (while on Pinterest, of course!):

(Click the cover to go to their blog)

These women are my heroes! They really focus on making charts that are:
1) Clear
2) Easy to read
3) Supported by pictures (especially important for our emergent readers, ESL students, and students with special needs)

I thought I'd share a few of the charts from their fabulous blog. (All the pictures below can be found by clicking HERE.) They have TONS of great reading charts, but I thought these were great ones to showcase for beginning of the year skills like morning routines, partner talk, and self-assessment.

(I LOVE the use of pictures of students demonstrating the strategies!)

Thanks for reading! Hope to see some of you over at my blog, The First Grade Scoop, soon!


Friday, July 12, 2013

Hello from Alaska!

Heeeeey yooouuuu guuuuys! Please tell me you heard that in a Goonies tone? Okay enough nonsense, let's get to business: introduction time.  I am honored to be a part of the Teaching Blog Round Up team and am excited to be here!  So you might be wondering what the Tongass means.  If you didn't already know, the Tongass National Forest is our nation's largest forest. It's 17 million acres of rainforest awesomeness and I live smack dab, right in the middle of it all.  I teach 2nd grade in my hometown of Juneau, Alaska and have just started blogging about my life as a teacher in the last few months.  Check out my blog (today's post has a FREEBIE AND A GIVEAWAY!):

 photo TeachingintheTongassButtonAds2ndVersionSquare.png

Onward!  For this post, I'd like to talk about my big fat hallway bulletin board. I have previously always used premade cutouts (Carson Dellosa, Creative Teaching Press, etc.) because they are pretty easy and don't take a lot of effort.  Year 1: monkeys on vines. Year 2: forest animals. Year 3: under the sea.  Year 4: jukebox (what?! embarrassing!).  Year 5: farm animals.  The parents see these bulletin boards and probably think cute; my crafty and amazing coworkers must think LAZY.  Seriously, it's gotten out of hand. There was a 3d tree in another teacher's hallway bulletin board this year.  The decorations hanging from it changed with the seasons: leaves, snowflakes, flowers. Pure amazing. Whenever I walked by said tree, I swear it whispered "slacker" to me....or maybe it was the swish of the hanging things...maybe not.  Did I mention it was her first year teaching? Gaaaah. The pressure.

Well, my friends, I have decided to jump on the blogging world bandwagon and do a theme for the first time! Pat, pat. Ha! Not so lazy after all! And because I am loving the chalkboard stuff that is happening all over, and I can't quite grasp the chevron craze just yet, I created a giant decor pack.  Click to download:
And if you're "going chalkboard" like me, here's another:
I also ordered these markers and paper on Amazon (Juneau has no road in, no road out...I'm landlocked!).  This means, a lot of online shopping!
So, the big question is....what will my hallway bulletin board look like???! Leave me a comment!  Suggestions are required  appreciated!

Thursday, July 11, 2013

App Crazy!

Hey everyone! It's Brenda again from You Might Be a First Grader...

You Might Be a First Grader...
      I'm posting today about a professional development I attended last month and how I've gone app crazy. I attended a professional development (PD) for iPads K-1. Right now I only have 1 classroom iPad (boo, but thankful for at least one) The instructors had classroom sets and funding for a lot of apps and their own PD....so basically an ideal situation. Don't worry. It can be adapted. 
Just some background, I try to integrate technology when I can. I try to get our 1 lonely iPad into as many hands as I can in a week. I have used www.DonorsChoose.com to help integrate technology into my classroom.  I have my own iPad that I used to bring in for the kiddos (though I was quite nervous putting it in their little hands) and last October (for my bday!) I jumped on the iPhone band wagon. 

So...um...I LOVE APPS. I'm also CHEAP FRUGALTHRIFTY fiscally conservative.

During the PD I was introduced to Smart Apps for Kids
Each day this site updates readers to reduced or FREE apps for kids. Some are educational, some are fun, some are awesome, and some I'm glad were free because I deleted them right away. I 'liked' them on FB so I can see their updates when I check FB..because I check it way more than I would a website. The apps do not stay free or reduced...it's a limited time thing which varies by creator. So I download any that look interesting...because if they're great I'm in luck but if they're awful I just delete them. 
{screen cap of mobile site}

from $3.99 to free!

from $9.99 to free!

Here are some of my most recently downloaded apps. They were either free or  super cheap. (two are non-educational...oops)
So check out Smart Apps for Kids!

Who loves a bargain? Have you ever waited for those shoes to go on sale before giving in to buy them?  I certainly have. Well....also in my PD I was introduced to an app called AppShopper.

With this app (which is free)  you create an account and you can wishlist apps that you want for iPad or iPhone. This isn't only for educational purposes either. You can add ANY app. There are other features but I just want it for sale notifications. As you can see below I added a Flat Stanley app to my wishlisht. It recently dropped in price and I got a notification on my phone. I got a few apps for 99cents this way.

part of my wish list
(*These prices reflect the day I downloaded them and/or took the screen capture--prices may have returned to normal*)

I'll be posting on my blog shortly about some great writing apps I also learned about. Today was all about scoring free/cheap apps!