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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'!!

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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? 

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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!

Did you hear? There's a huge event next week...something about an eclipse?? Since I am in Georgia we are very close to the path, so much so that my district is keeping kids in school one hour longer for their safety. We don't want kids getting off buses at around the time of the eclipse and not being supervised. Luckily, my principal is providing us all with approved glasses. Thank goodness! I am a little more than freaked out about someone getting hurt under my watch!

So I thought I would put together a few tips for anyone who might be interested in finding out about how to safely enjoy this once-in-every-forty-years event!

Here is the official NASA website that let's you know the best information on how to view the eclipse: NASA website-Safety Tips
NASA also recommends that only glasses listed on their approved website are safe. You can find that list here: NASA Approved Glasses

Since it happening next week, if you don't have glasses or you don't want to chance it. Having your students build their own Solar Eclipse Viewer is a great STEM idea. This is a great video showing step by step directions students can follow:
Solar Eclipse Viewer

If you are not in the path, you can still teach about the event! I love this animated video that shows the path of the eclipse over the US. You could really tie in some geography with this too.

This is another video that explains to kids exactly what happens during an eclipse and it's adorable!
Teaching about the solar eclipse
There are some really awesome resources for this event as well! Here are a few of my favorites.

Enjoy the event! 

We have a heavy focus on STEM at my new school so I wanted to do a STEM bulletin board with photos to show off our projects, but after scouring Pinterest I found nothing cute! I love Chandra at Teaching with Crayons and Curls and she had the cutest bulletin board (and I'm obsessed with everything about her room!) so that inspired my new STEM board. Plus I am loving my new CRICUT and finally getting a chance to use it to cut things out for my room.
Here's a close up of the photo frames:
The photo frames are a font from TeachersPayTeachers by Kimberly Geswein called Flavor and Frames. I am so excited about how it turned out. Now to finish the rest of the room!

So you are either in one of two states of mind right now.....relaxing on the couch or beside a pool somewhere, no cares in the world OR furiously getting your room and self ready for school mode. Which one is it? Me? I am in the furious mode, getting myself and room ready.

One thing I like to prepare myself for as I am getting back into the swing of things is how I am going to communicate with my parents. So  I thought I would leave a few little tidbits here and then give you a freebie to start your year.

First and foremost, when communicating with parents we have to remember that we are the professionals. We also have to remember that all of our emails could be read at anytime, so it goes without saying you need to be careful about how and what you say in an email. Many times the tone of an email can be misconstrued, when a nice polite phone conversation could have handled the issue so much better.

If you feel like an issue might be brewing, get out in front of it first. Be the first one to call. I had a principal who told me once, "The first one to reach out gets the upper hand." You are showing that you care and want to make the situation right. Parents really just want to know that you care about their child. Parents want to stayed informed.

If you do respond to an email, be sure to keep it short and sweet. If it requires longer than a few sentences than it requires a phone call.

If there is a situation with a parent that is becoming difficult to deal with, ask for help. Ask for the parents for a conference and then ask a counselor or administrator to sit in with you. It is so important to know that you don't have to "go it alone". There are people in your building who can assist you with the parent. But also know that your administrator will want to know what steps you want taken so far with the parent, so be sure you have documented everything! In other words...have all your ducks in a row!

Have a system in place for regular communication. I personally love the new apps that teachers can use now, replacing paper newsletters. Although, I know some school do require those too. Remind is excellent. I use Class Dojo. I also will send emails out to parents, and occasionally I will send print reminders of important announcements. Parents (like us) get a ton of emails, so they many not read them all. So we do need to find the method that works best for our own classes!

I like to document my parent contact, I know at some schools this is a requirement of teachers. One thing that I find very handy is to bring my phone numbers to the phone and my phone log with me....but I hated bringing my whole teacher binder to the phone! So I had this great idea. At open house I put out a half sheet that parents fill out with their numbers (I print these on card stock), and on the back is the phone log.
Then I just hole punch them, attach them together with a ring and I hang it up beside my desk. Then it is so easy to just grab it and go to the phone. I can jot down notes about the phone call and who I spoke to.

You can grab yours to get it ready for Open House too! Oh and did I mention...it is editable! Change the information to suit your needs.
Hope you had an awesome summer:)

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