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New Beginnings

In social media, it's truly been forever and a day since I've last posted. I can barely remember December 2015-- no posts all of 2016 and half of 2017-- crazy!

Quick update: I now have two little girls, ages two and one (they are the major reasons behind the blogging hiatus-- but I love being their mommy, so it's been worth it), and I continued to teach 4th grade ELA/4th grade tech. integration coach until the end of this school year.

Next year there will be a change at school, so I thought, what better time to get back to blogging? {A new blog update from the amazing Megan at Bird in Hand Designs definitely helped me get into the spirit of things too!}

Starting August 2017, I will be back to Special Education. This is where I started my career, and I've always had a feeling that I'd be back. This go around, I will be in one building only, and just covering 5th grade. I'm excited to continue working in the same building, with staff I adore, and back to this area of education.

What will you find here now? Here are a few things to watch out for:

I will be co-teaching in fifth grade general education ELA and mathematics classes. You'll find lesson ideas for math, reading and writing. I will also be working with students in the special education classroom working at various academic levels across all content areas. You'll find ideas for working in the special education setting, working with paraprofessionals, co-teaching, etc.

Every year, {I'll be starting my sixth-year... say what!?} I pick up ideas to try and implement. Some work better than others, some work with one group of students, but not the next... but it's always good to have a full bag of ideas to draw from! Partnering with veteran teachers (and paras!), I'm sure I'll be scooping up even more ideas to share.

We've been blessed by two girls who love to eat. {Seriously, these girls out eat me some days! Even with veggies!!} I made the resolution to try 52 new recipes this year {no more recipes in Pinterest purgatory!} some of which might make an appearance here. I'm all for simple meal ideas during the work week. Plus, I'll be doing some cooking in the classroom with my students and I'm super excited about that!

I'm excited for this new beginning and to dive back into the blogosphere!

Merry & Bright Freebies & Giveaway!

Whew, it's been a busy few months! Trying to find a balance between school and being a first time mom {which unfortunately has meant several months of neglect to this piece of cyber space} it's been awhile, but I'm glad to be back to blogging!

My school, currently on a list of historical sites, is gearing up for a mid-year move to a new building. With the craziness that comes before an extended holiday break, new traditions starting at home, and boxing up my classroom when I heard about the Merry & Bright giveaway I knew I wanted to join in. Who couldn't use a tip or two to make these last few days before break a little more merry with a few bright ideas to make planning a little easier? I know I will be bopping along and gathering all the tips that I can!
There is something about the days leading up to an extended break when the crazies start to come out. I, as well as my students, are ready for a change of pace. Some students are eagerly anticipating the holidays, others are fearing the change of routine a lack of resources at home, there are concerts, report cards coming due, little extra chatter and excitement, and at times a little less patients: it's a very hectic time of year!  Throughout it all, sometimes it's hard to take a step back and see all the good among all the crazy.

My first year teaching, I was a special education teacher covering a couple of schools. In one building, they started a way to have teachers and students notice the good in each other. Using a well known Christmas character, the Grinch, students and teachers worked together to help him grow his heart by identifying and recognizing random acts of kindness and good deeds in the weeks building up to break. It was great to come in throughout the week and see how many hearts had been added with the passing of just a few days. The display served as a reminder, as well as inspiration to be your best self and do something good!

To ease into planning a bit, I have a couple of freebies that can work before and after the holiday with a little winter fun. Click the pictures or captions to download!


For more ideas on reviewing synonyms check out this post as well. We decorate our classroom in snowflakes with a little synonym review sprinkled in too.


Now for the bright planning idea and a chance to win a fabulous prize package from the
We Teach 3-4-5 crew!

I'm contributing my Winter ELA Centers great for reviewing before and after the holiday. Included are: 

*Winter Fact & Opinion task cards with recording sheet & key
*Winter Wonderland Subjects & Predicates with recording sheet & key
*Light It Up Parts of Speech with recording sheet and key
*Differentiated Snowman Synonyms with recording sheet & key
*Ugly Sweater Figurative Language Party with recording sheet & key

*Winter Fact & Opinion task cards with recording sheet & key *Winter Wonderland Subjects & Predicates with recording sheet & key *Light It Up Parts of Speech with recording sheet and key *Differentiated Snowman Synonyms with recording sheet & key *Ugly Sweater Figurative Language Party with recording sheet & key

For a chance to win this and other terrific products to aid in your planning be sure to enter your information in the raffle copter for a chance to win!

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Back to School in a Flash: Student Engagment

For the final week of Back to School in a Flash, it's all about student engagement. The queen of student engagement is Joanne, and I encourage you to check out her weekly linky "Spark:Student Motivation Saturdays," she has a treasure trove of ideas!

I'm blessed to work in a district with 1:1 iPads, one activity that my students LOVE is to review using Kahoot! {This activity can also be done on computers, smart phones, etc.}

Picture from getkahoot.com
For the students, their screen looks a little reminiscent of a Simon board {any one remember that game?} no words, just color options.

The question and the answer choices are projected on the screen for everyone to see.

Picture from getkahoot.com
Students are given a time frame for answering questions. Once everyone has answered, or time expires, the answers and graphs are shown. We talk before playing that students should read the questions carefully, and if it starts becoming a blind guess just to be the first, that white boards can be used instead. There hasn't been an issue yet.

What I like best, is after some ground rules {such as what talking is aloud, what to do as you wait, etc.} the game provides instant feedback. So if I see after a question about author's purpose that many of the students are still confused about persuasion, I can pause the game, and discuss with my class why the answer choices weren't correct, and what sticks out to show that the purpose truly was persuasion. {I also take the time to note that later in the week I will need to touch on the topic again.}

Picture from getkahoot.com

My students beg to play this game. I'm hoping to create a Kahoot! for our back to school rules and procedures, but I'm waiting to hear if students will have their iPads the first day or not.

For more information on how to set up a Kahoot {yes you will need to create an account, it's painless and quick) or to search from a library of premade Kahoots please click here {you will need to have an account before you can see public Kahoots or create your own}. You can always construct your own in a few minutes if you don't find one that fits just right.

Do you use Kahoot!? If so how, or if you don't and the wheels are spinning how might you use this great platform in the coming year? I'd love to hear in the comments!

For more student engagement ideas check out everything that's been linked up and link up your own ideas too!

Oh Snap! It's Almost September

Back to school is almost here, and it's a goal this year to get prepped and planned out better so I can spend as much time with my baby girl as possible. I'm pretty excited to have stumbled upon this linky this morning, if for nothing else than to keep myself looking ahead to the coming month and all that I need to do!

One of the classes I teach is writing {I'm departmentalized}, and the end of August/Beginning of September is reviewing and laying ground work for the rest of the year. Somehow, summer brain seems to take hold and the vast majority of my students seem to think words like "verbs, subjects, adjectives" etc. are foreign concepts. {I know both their former 3rd grade teachers and myself pull a little hair at the blank stares as I know these concepts have been taught before... thus the review!}

I read a book by Jeff Anderson a few years ago about mentor sentences and the writing process and he had several great ideas. One tricky concept, is remember subjects and predicates. Just having the long word predicate is tricky enough on it's own for many of my students to remember. Jeff had a great activity, "sentence slap" where students create the smallest sentences ever. We build from the simple subject and simple predicate to other parts of speech as we review simple sentences and go on to compound and complex sentences.

Students enjoyed being able to "slap" their sentences down on the black board.

We move on, talking about what makes up a simple sentence, what is a fragment, and the various types of sentences. I made up a review pack and recently updated it with a sentence spin game as well. Click here or the picture below to see more about this product.
From simple sentences we move on to the wonderful world compound and complex sentences; covering clauses and conjunctions along the way too. Each year I tweak things, prepping a little more, trying to make or find more resources that help with tricky concepts, and hopefully nip some problems in the bud before they truly blossom the following year. I've added more and tweaked to my simple,  compound, complex pack. You can check it out here or by clicking the picture below. There is also a set of posters only too if you'd rather.
One of my favorite resources, that combines my love of children's literature as well as spiraling back and reviewing parts of speech and sentences all year long, are mentor sentences from my good friend Jivey. To read more all about these and how to implement them, check out the post here.

What do you do to review/teach various types of sentences?

Back to School Flash: Decor & More!

This fall I'm not changing my room a whole lot because... come December we are moving to a brand new school!! I may change things up thing to really make it new. Here are a few quick peeks at my room the last year or two. {Sorry in advance that a couple of pictures aren't quite the best, but I haven't been in my room much yet to take a better one.}

My absolute favorite part of my room is my classroom library. I love children's literature and have over 1,000 books in my classroom library. Most are sorted by genres using Ladybugs Teacher Files library labels. I have a massive oak shelf currently housing most of them, not sure that this huge hunk of furniture will make it over to the new building, so I will have to see what to do with them all come December.

My classroom colors are currently greens, blues, grays, and black. This might change a bit come December with my brand-new-room, but I'll have to see how ambitious I am midyear.

This board becomes interactive throughout the year. Students have a goal for each writing piece focusing on one of the 6-Traits of writing. I have goal sheets that go along with them too. Kid-friendly language, gives us a topic of conversation during conferences, and makes grading a little easier having one major area of focus.  If you would like, you can see them here.


{Horrible picture} I love this board too, as do my students. At the top, I put the mentor sentence of the week, then as we get to editing and creating our own sentences I choose three students from each section to be on the board for the week. Instant motivation! For more on mentor sentences, click here
Thanks to Meg from The Teacher Studio, I have a new use for my cart. Read here to see how I'm using it this year!

I can't wait to bounce around to see all of the decor ideas. I have a feeling a classroom makeover will be happening after viewing all the inspiration! Link up your ideas as well!

BTS Flash: Curriculum Must Haves!

I loved bopping through this linky last week--- so many teacher must-have's that were new to me-- and added to my Amazon cart. This week, I'm ready to read everyone's posts as I get a jump start on planning viewing everyone's curriculum must-haves.
My tried-and-true product is an interactive chart for writing goals with a reflection sheet for students. I created this a few years ago, and I've used it every year since then. It even worked well with the Journeys curriculum that we adopted last year. Each writing piece had a focus that ties in nicely with these goals. You can check them out here or by clicking on the picture. 
My students and I LOVE post-it's. Joanne is the post-it Queen! What I love even more, is that Joanne has created resources that use post-its easily and effectively. Students really dig into nonfiction with this fabulous product! You can see it here or by clicking the picture above.
I cannot wait to purchase this product from Teaching in Room 6. After reading this post on NOT starting paragraphs with the topic sentence, I had a total "aha!" moment and  knew I needed to explore things further. Come the TpT sale, this product will be mine!


Lastly... if you missed it... click on the picture above to enter to win a Kindle Fire or Creative Teaching Press Gift Card!  

I can't wait to hop around to see all the other curriculum must-have's.. what are some of yours?

Light a Fire With a Good Book --- Back to School GIVEAWAY!

Fair and rodeo are almost to a close, school supply commercials are running on tv, it must be that time again: back to school! I'm not exactly sure I'm 100% ready this year {baby girl plays a big role in that} but this post is to help ease us all back into the school year!

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. I have a huge love of children's literature, so I'm breaking the rules and giving you a few quick blurbs on each.

The books I'd like to share with you are...

Click on any of the books to see more

The first book is Cookies: Bite Sized Life Lessons it is a sweet book that I like to read before talking with students about our classroom rules for the year. I love the way the author really boils down some simple truths in a way that is very easy for students to relate to.

I created a pack to go with this book, including a couple of no-bake cookie recipes if you'd be interest. You can take a look here or by clicking the picture below.


The second book is Scaredy Squirrel, this is a cute story all about a squirrel that's afraid of the unknown, but get's his emergency kit and takes a giant leap of faith. This is perfect to talk about fears of the unknown, and with 4th grade being the first year my district utilizes switching from class to class, there are a lot of fears. This book is a great conversation starter.

The lovely ladies from Collaboration Cuties have a fantastic pack to go with this story. You can see it here.

The third book is Math Fables. Greg Tang is a fabulous mathematician and I truly enjoy his books. This one is a rhyming story that has an underlying story of how numbers work. At the beginning of the year, when I taught math, I would start off the year going over place value. This book is a great jump start for that as well.

If you are looking for some centers for place value centers my students and I loved these. Lots of hands on fun! 


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 up to 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!