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Have you had your End of the Year party yet? Even if you have, you surely can save these ideas for next year! I love doing a Luau Theme party every single year. In fact, I have a box of Luau decorations from the Dollar Store that I reuse every single year. All I do is pull out that box and I have everything I need. I usually even have plates and napkins left over from the previous year. 

I start off by sending a parent letter for donations and having my students send invitations to their parents so they can attend. They love coloring these for their families! You can get your FREE download of the invitation, just click the pic:
The one thing I always need though is something to keep my kiddos occupied and CALM on the party morning! So this year, I made some activities for them to do. I had them read about the history of the Luau and do a comprehension sheet as well as a word search. This gave me some time to do a little party prep!
I have a bunch of other tips, tricks and printables in my new resource! I have included:
Two pages of party tips
Favor tag: "This Year Has Been a Ball"
Photo Booth Clipart
Luau Word Search
The History of the Luau passage and worksheet
Editable Parent Letter
Bulletin Board Set "Let's End This Year with a Luau Party"
You can get my whole packet on Teachers Pay Teachers:
Our party went really well this year, it is a fun way to end the year. I plan to continue this theme for many years to come!

I am so excited to have time this summer to relax and spend time with my family. But at the same time I have so many projects! So do you have a summer to-do list a mile long? I usually start off the summer very ambitious and end up sleeping way too late and spending way too much time on Facebook!

I do have three books I am reading this summer and if you don't already have your summer reading planned yet, I have some recommendations:

I have already finished this book by Hope and Wade King and if you haven't read it, you need to put it on the top of your list! It is amazing. I loved hearing about the experiences that lead Hope and Wade to the classroom and how you can easily implement some of the same engagement techniques they do. I love that they give the reader so many hands-on practical strategies! 

My school is doing a PLC on this book this summer, so I just started it. This excellent read by Stephanie Harvey challenges the readers to stop thinking of readers as "struggling" but as "striving". Change your mindset with this jam packed book of lessons, assessments and routines that will have your readers thriving!
The last recommendation, I can barely put down since I got it in the mail. Even if you are a seasoned professional and have got your reading block all nice and tidy....this is awesome. If you are a newbie, you need this now! Practical as all I can say. I love that Jan Richardson has a link on Scholastic to study guides and handouts for everything in this book. You can really step up your guided reading time with this one. I can't wait to keep reading.
The best thing for me about summer is the possibilities! The possibilities of what I can get done, of who I can spend time with, how I can expand my knowledge for my students....I just love the beginning of it all!  

This is the first school I have worked in over 15 years that does not have the Accelerated Reader program. Now I know people either love or hate AR so don't throw tomatoes at me but I actually love AR! I realize the questions are lower level questions and that it doesn't require students to think deeply about their reading. However, this year I have missed the accountability. I missed being able to print those reports and see what my students are reading. Or not reading. I realized I really needed something too that would give my students an incentive to read more books!

This is what I came up with. I am a HUGE fan of Google Forms, so I created two forms. There is a fiction and a non-fiction:

Then I made a bulletin board title "Read A Thon". Every time a student reads a book, they fill out a book report on a Google Form. We have an online learning platform so I share the link with them through that. But there are many ways to share the link, and the best thing about Google Forms is you do not have to have Google accounts for every child to use forms.

After that, they can write the title on a Post It note and put it above their name. I give out a coupon from my coupon binder for every nine Post Its, but I am sure you can come up with great incentives in your class
Would you love to try this with your class? Click the picture to get the links:

How do you keep students accountable for their reading? I would love to hear!

There are so many tech tools out there these days, it is hard to keep track of them all. And, things are changing and updating so fast! But I am a technology junkie and I love to integrate technology into our day whenever possible.

We only have about 7 computers in each classroom and in this school, only a few of my students bring their own device. We are a BYOD or Bring Your Own Device county so students are encouraged to bring an IPad or other tablet. 

So, I usually try to find ways that students in my class can use the computers when they are collaborating with their peers or in the computer lab. Luckily, we have quite a few labs for weekly sign up.

Writing is just one area that I love using technology! In this blog series I am going to share some of my favorite resources your students can use during the writing process:


For prewriting, you cannot beat the resources in ReadWriteThink. Three of my favorites are:

If you want your students do do some brainstorming:
For research:
If students have to search something on the web, Kiddle is a kid safe search engine powered by Google. But I still like to find websites that provide the information they need for a specific project. For example, if we are researching animals, we might use National Geographic Kids or Planets for Kids

But my favorite website for kids to use for research is by-far PebbleGo. The one thing about PebbleGo, it is a paid subscription and it is not cheap. If you are lucky enough to have it through your school or district, you probably love it too! My students can be completely independent when on Pebble Go and they have such a wide array of topics. I can't say enough about it!
Be sure to come back soon for Part 2: DRAFTING! 

Happy New Year! I hope everyone had a safe and happy New Year! I got back to school this week and boy it was rough....kids were tired and I was tired. Luckily, the weekend came quickly.

I got a new toy for Christmas as I know many of you probably got one. I read an article that the best selling kitchen item this past holiday season in the US and in the World was the Instant Pot!
So now, you've got one....what do you do with it?? First of all, I was utterly confused by all the functions and directions! I did a little research to help you out if you haven't used yours yet. (Now disclaimer here....I got a crock pot version but if you have the instant pot, it is pretty easy to figure out the similarities in functions) Here's a great little website that can help you get started: here
And this will help you with all those darn buttons!  here

I truly love that you can brown your meat right in the cooker. What a time saver, when I cook a pot roast I always brown it first. Then put it in the crock pot. This just saves time and cleaning another pot.

So now you have your Instant Pot out, you need something good to cook right? One of the very first recipes I cooked was General Tso's Chicken from my new cookbook and it was so good!
I have more awesome recipes to share with you that you just have to try! These are easy for those busy nights when you have worked late at school and want to put a home cooked meal on the table for your family. 

I am sharing these from my awesome friend, Ashlyn who has a great lifestyle blog. She is a wife, mommy, teacher, blogger, cat rescuer, jewelry maker....I have no idea how she does it all! Check out her blog: Right Meow or Never

First is one of my family's favorite meals. So good and so easy.

Next, is one of my go-to meals in the winter. I love chili but I love Taco Soup even more! 

I love anything with chicken because I always have it on hand. The ingredients in this recipe I almost always have in my pantry as well. Easy! 

Beef with Broccoli is literally my favorite thing to order when we get take out from the Chinese restaurant.  But with this recipe, who needs take out?

If you like these recipes just hop on over to her blog and check out the rest! I guess I need to get cookin'!!

Pin for later:

Happy New Year! I can't believe how fast 2017 seemed to fly right by! I am sitting here reflecting on the past year and how I might have students do a little goal setting. Goal setting for younger students is a really hard concept. So I really try to to break it down for them to something more concrete. I also like them to reflect on the previous year. This is what I came up with:
Click the pic to get your copy!

I thought it would be fun for me to complete this for you!! What are your goals for the New Year?

We've been studying area in math! I really love how this unit follows so nicely after studying arrays and multiplication. It just makes sense. We spend a lot of time at first using our foam squares tiling real objects in the classroom. I made a large chart where we recorded our measurements. We also tiled large objects using post-it notes, that was super fun!
Now that we have worked really hard with the hands on activities, we got right to work on tackling understanding area on paper. This was by far the best resource I found so far. Almost every resource also has perimeter as part of the measurement. But this focused only on area and it breaks it down in a way that makes it so easy for students to understand:
After this we were ready for some fun ways to show what we have learned! I love this freebie where students make a Dream House and have used it every year. Third graders just love this project!
And now that it is getting closer to the Holidays, I had my kiddos work on this super cute Area Elf project. There are several area worksheets included too! 
I hope your last few days before Winter Break are going smoothly!

I am so excited.....my new school is very big into Responsive Classroom teaching practices. Before this year, I did not know much about it but I have loved starting my year off implementing Responsive Classroom. In case you are not aware of Responsive Classroom, they have an informative website: here and have many great books that I have only begun to read.

One of the most important parts of Responsive Classroom is starting the day off with a Morning Meeting, which I am sure many of you already have heard about or already do. This was really my first year to do a morning meeting. I have found the best time saver when it comes to Morning Meeting prep.
I love this! She made it so easy to just to do Morning Meeting without having to come up with activities each and every day...and my students really love the activities. One of the things I put together ahead of time was my morning meeting box, with items we can use in our greeting and sharing time. 
This box has been so fun! I bought all of the items and the box at Micheal's (and used my Cricut for the lettering!). Each day I choose something different for our sharing or greeting time. The favorite is that cute caterpillar.

The next part of Responsive Classroom that we started our year off with was C.A.R.E.S. We took time each day to teach what it meant to be cooperative, assertive, responsible, empathetic and using self-control. I put together a great Power Point lesson that teaches each one of these letters a day with an activity the class can do.  
   Click the picture to download PPT for FREE!
We went through these lessons each day, discussed the book that I linked with each one and also had a group activity as a follow-up. Now, I have the posters hanging in my room that I can refer to if someone is having a hard time being responsible or using self-control, etc.
Click the picture to download the posters for FREE!
Does your school use Responsive Classroom? I'd love to hear your experiences with it! What activities do you incorporate into your day? 

Pin for later:

Finally! I have been in school two weeks and I am just now getting around to posting pictures of my new room. I am in love with my new school (10 minutes away from my house) and my new team. I was really excited to do some new things with my room and I might have gone a little "Cricut Crazy". I just got my Cricut for Christmas and I just really figured out how to use it. So here are some pictures:
Here is a view of my meeting space and board. I have a Smart Board, just really starting to figure that thing out. I found an outdoor chair in my favorite color, I have material for some pillows and am making one for the chair.
Here's a view of my reading corner. I am in love with the HUGE read letters, I got those at Five Below.
I have a large wall on the back, so I made a make-shift bulletin board for anchor charts and word wall charts. 
I am not sure where I saw this idea, but I loved it! This is my birthday board. I put up a little clothes pin on the side, so when we have a birthday, I'll turn on the lights, write their name on the whiteboard and hang a little goody bag on the clip. (I have a birthday coming in my class next, so they are very excited!)
These are our book boxes, I actually am using these for notebooks and folders this year. Since I have tables. Then I got those cheapo book boxes from IKEA. 
I am trying to simplify my whole Dojo reward points this year. I used to have this huge 5 drawer points system and it would take forever to have them choose their rewards. So here it is, 10 points....you get to pick one of these. Then at 70 they can pick out of my coupon book. So far, it has worked great!
We do Responsive Classroom in my school, and this cute little box has all my items for Morning Meeting. I found all of this at Micheal's. I got some balls and things we can pass around when we are doing our sharing and greetings. They love that cute caterpillar!
This is my O.W.L. of the Week sign. I love how it turned out! I had to use chalkboard paint to repaint it from last year then I cut out the letters. You can read about why I only have one helper a week right here.

Well, that's it! I can't wait to post our adventures this year and share some great ideas with you!

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