Sunday, March 23, 2014

A Peek at my Week {Freebie Included!}

A Peek at my Week[4]

I think that my class has a bad case of spring fever…..already.  I blame it on our way too early spring break.  I came home on Friday exhausted, they flat wore me out!  This week I have a better plan.  Wear them out before they can wear me out! Winking smile I plan on keeping us b.u.s.y!  Here are the visual plans for the week.  Remember, if you download the pdf all of the links will work and you don’t want to miss out on the new mentor sentence freebie, especially if you use Treasures reading series!


I am super excited to introduce our new math centers!  We still have a few rotations of our March Madness centers to finish up but then we are moving on to these Peeps centers!  They are going to love them!

I hope everyone has a great week! 
 Happy Monday!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Workshop Wednesday {Summarizing}

I’m linking up today with the amazing Jivey over at Ideas by Jivey for her Workshop Wednesday.

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This week we are working on summarizing.  I don’t know if your kiddos are anything like mine, but when I ask for summary they seem to want to give me everything including the kitchen sink! 

 Now, I realize that having the gifted cluster means that I have some of the most verbal kids in my grade level, and I know that those kiddos just want to keep on talking and sharing.  So, I needed to teach them how to determine the MOST important details and ideas and choose their words carefully.  Enter one of my favorite strategies to challenge them to really think about importance and to choose words carefully!  It’s called 10 finger summaries.  Each word is counted on a finger and the challenge is to summarize what you read in only 10 words. 

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Fingers out and ready to count!

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(Weaver and Tailor birds build nests by weaving or sewing.)

It was a huge challenge for some of my especially verbal kiddos, they were begging for an extra word or two, but they finally learned to cut out extra information and choose words that really got the message across.   In the end they loved the challenge.  One of my kiddos was still talking about 10 finger summaries at the end of the day and said he couldn’t wait to do some more tomorrow!

In honor of my favorite strategy, here is a ten finger summary of the day ahead of me. 
 My day’s filled with teaching, meetings and being dance mom.

What is the 10 finger summary of your day?  I’d love to hear it!
Happy Wednesday everyone!

Monday, March 17, 2014

A Wee Bit ‘O Fun!

Last night I had a bad case of the Sunday post spring break blues.  There is really nothing harder for me than going back from spring break.  The weather here is gorgeous and no one wants to be stuck inside the classroom all day!

  I was, however, looking forward to the St. Patty’s Day fun we had planned today.  It was leprechaun trap building day!  I saw the idea first on Pinterest (of course).  When I got on TpT to look around I couldn’t believe how many packs were on there and some of them were even FREE!  My favorite one was by none other than Nicole Shelby.  I loved that it had links to pages that would help me prepare my students and I really loved all of the writing pieces for it! Click on the pic below to go grab it for next year!


I drafted a letter to send home to have parents save and send in supplies.  I thought about having them build the trap at home, but we have done quite a few at home activities recently and I wanted a fun activity to do at school to help us ease back in after break.  You can click on the letter to download it!

Parent Letter for Supplies

This morning my kiddos showed up with bags upon bags of supplies!

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I couldn’t wait to see what they would turn these into.

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This group had moving parts on their trap!  I was able to get it on video. My favorite part is when he exclaims, “It worked!”

Leprechaun Trap

We ended the day by graphing our Lucky Charms. 

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We had a fun day back but it will feel great to get back into our “normal,” routine tomorrow.

Hope you all had a great St. Patrick’s Day!

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Visual Plans 3-17

I’m linking up with two fabulous bloggers for A Peek at My Week!

A Peek at my Week[4]

peek at my week 2

It is going to be tough getting back in the swing of things after spring break so I am excited that we go back on St. Patrick’s Day!  I have some fun things planned to help us ease back into our routine.  You can click the pictures of my plans below to download.  After you download them, you can use the links to check out all of the products I am using.  Some of them are FREE! I can’t wait to get to work on our Leprechaun Traps!  My class this year is so creative and innovative that I can’t wait to see what they come up with.  For the writing piece, they will have to write directions for building their trap complete with measurements to tie it in with our math unit!


I am excited to try out our sticky note summarizing during small group reading this week!  We love using sticky notes.  Those and highlighters are a huge hit…always!


For our St. Patrick’s Day math we are going to graph Lucky Charms and then answer questions based on our data.  It should be a fun activity to help ease us back in.

Today is Selection Sunday for March Madness……it’s kind of a big deal in my house!  My kiddos will love practicing our math skills with these basketball themed centers!  They will be a flash freebie in my store for a little bit today!  If you don’t already follow me on Instagram you can click the link on the side.  I will alert everyone on Instagram when they are up for FREE!

Happy Selection Sunday!  Have a great week everyone!

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Five For Friday {Spring Break Style}


All good things must come to an end….and so, my spring break is ending.  Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love what I do.  I love teaching and I adore my kiddos.  But, this week, I loved being home.  I loved getting caught up around the house and hanging out with my family.  I just want a few more days, that’s all.  So, here is what we’ve been up to this week.

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I’m kind of embarrassed to tell you that we have lived in our house for 14 years, been married for 17 years, and have never had a guest room or really any place for people to sleep if they visited.  So, needless to say, we haven’t had many visitors during those 17 years!  The extra bedroom in our house was our girls’ playroom for the last 14 years.  Our first major task over Spring Break was to tackle that room and finally turn it into a proper guest room. 
I wish I had thought ahead enough to take before pictures but sadly I didn’t.  Here is the big reveal though!

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I still have some finishing touches to add before it will be completely finished.  I feel like such a grown up to finally have a place for people to stay when they want to come visit.
The mirror is my favorite part of the room right now.  It was a hand me down from my in-laws when they moved.  The frame was originally gold.  So, free frame + 6 dollar bottle of spray paint + a little bit of vinyl through my Silhouette machine = a pretty cheap piece for the room!

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Now that we finally had a guest bedroom, it was time for a guest!  My mom flew in from Tennessee to spend some time with us and today I am driving her to my sister’s to spend their week of spring break with my nieces!  It was a busy week filled with shopping, crafts, and introducing her to all our favorite spots!

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My mom’s name is Rita, so of course we had to get a picture of Rita at Rita’s!

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We did lots of much needed shopping.  The older I get, the more I hate shopping for myself.  The clothes that look adorable are no longer age appropriate and things just don’t seem to fit quite right.  I was in desperate need of some new pants for work though.  I was still wearing capris from 8 years ago!  I finally found some at Loft and NY & Co.  Where are your go to places for work clothes?  I need a retail intervention!

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My daughter turns 15 this month.  Seriously, where does the time go?  She was a spring break baby.  I had her over break and took the rest of the school year off for maternity leave.  I was blessed to have almost 5 months at home with her before school started again.  I kind of miss planning the cute little themed parties for her but it was pretty nice to just drive them to a restaurant for dinner and not have to worry about the prep and clean up!  My husband and I had to laugh at this picture though.  Sitting on a bench waiting for our table and they are all on their phones!  They crack me up!

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One of the coolest things that we did over break was a family service project.  We went out to my dad’s community center and packed food for Food for Kidz.  It was such a fun experience.  Each bag of food can feed 6 kids and in the hour that we were there over 4,600 bags were packed.  When we left, they still had volunteers working shifts to pack food for 4 more hours.  I can’t wait to hear what the total was!  Such a great experience!

Food for Kidz

We look so lovely in our hair nets! 
For those of you finishing up your break like me, have a great week back to school.  For those of you just starting, I’m so jealous!  Have a great weekend everyone!  I will be back soon with Part 2 of Genius Hour and with my visual plans!

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Welcome to Genius Hour {Part 1}


Genius Hour is an idea for the classroom based on Google’s 20%.  In a nutshell, Google gives their employees 20% of their work week to work on “passion projects.”  They have seen an increase in employee productivity and some great products have come out of this time as well.  I started hearing about Genius Hour online from other teacher blogs and social media.  If you google it, it’s out there and you might be surprised by how many people are trying it.  I thought that it sounded like a great idea for my classroom.  This post is part 1 in a series that I will do about Genius Hour in our classroom.  The focus of this post is the start up!


This year, I have the “gifted cluster.”  What that means is that I have all of the third graders that are identified as gifted learners clustered in my room along with traditional learners.  Out of my 25 students, 12 are identified as gifted.  It can make for quite a challenge at times.  My gifted learners are flying through things, while some of my kiddos need a little more time.  The management piece was starting to get a bit difficult toward the end of November and I knew I had to do something.  I had tried “compacting out,” and it had resulted in some tears and pouts from the kids who didn’t compact out.  I tried “passion projects,” and “learning contracts,” but my kiddos just weren’t quite independent enough.  I would have a line of kiddos waiting to ask me questions (because these are the curious learners who question everything!) while I was trying to get through a lesson. 
Enter…..Genius Hour.  An hour (not quite…more like 40 minutes) a week where ALL of my students can work on learning anything they want (within reason).  They are all doing Genius Hour so I am available to help and answer questions without being interrupted. 
So, how did I get started……..

I researched Genius Hour and came up with a plan for what it would look like in my classroom.  We do it on Fridays at the end of the day.  I wrote a proposal for my principal complete with the standards that Genius Hour would cover and scheduled a meeting to present it to him.  My principal is super supportive and my assistant principal is a creative thinker who is a also a parent of gifted kiddo so they loved the idea!  We brainstormed problems that I might run into.  The biggest one I had already identified was access to technology.  Then we brainstormed solutions.  I showed him that parent letter I had made, along with all of the papers I planned on giving the students to help keep them accountable and on track. (These are all in my Genius Hour Starter Pack.)

Genius Hour was approved!

I began working on how to introduce Genius Hour to my students.  I found an idea online to pump them up with a video from Kid President. (Click Here to see it) That first Friday, I built the suspense a little bit during the day.  I began our time that afternoon by telling them that what we were about to do wasn’t being done by anyone else at our school.  That our principal had given us special permission to do it.  They were so excited by this point!  Then I showed them the Kid President video.  They LOVED the video and ask to watch it at brain break all the time now!  Then I had a slideshow prepared to introduce them to what Genius Hour is and the “rules,” of Genius Hour.  There are only a few basic rules; their project must be approved by me and their parents, it must be research based and  they must create some type of presentation for the class about what they learned.  (The slideshow I used is part of my Genius Hour Starter Pack.)  The kiddos ate it up!  They couldn’t believe that I was actually going to give them time to learn about ANYTHING they wanted.  I gave them the parent letter to put in their folders and then I gave them the brainstorm paper and some quiet time to think.  They took the brainstorm paper home with them also to discuss ideas with their parents.  That was it for the first Friday.  I wanted to give them plenty of time to think, wonder and brainstorm so they could come up with a project that was meaningful and that they could get really excited about!


The next Friday, was project proposal day.  We went through the proposal together and then they filled it out.  I was available at the back table for students who were still struggling to refine their idea and turn into a Genius Hour project.  I let them discuss their ideas with classmates and bounce ideas off of them.  It was so fun to hear them pitch their ideas to their peers and then get feedback or things to think about.  I love listening to them collaborate! Those that were ready to turn it in did so and several of them took their proposals home to work on and discuss with their parents. 

I will be back soon to post Part 2….What Genius Hour Looks Like…..

In the meantime, you can check out my Genius Hour Starter Pack on TpT and go google Genius Hour if you’re interested! 


Saturday, March 1, 2014

March Currently!

Good Morning from the rainy desert!  I woke up to the sound of rain coming down instead of an alarm clock.  I am one happy girl! 
Here it is…..Currently for March!


Listening….I already covered that, it was a glorious sound to wake up to!
Loving…..The big TpT sale was a huge success.  I was able to stock up on things that will hopefully carry me through the rest of the year. I am so thankful for that sight and all of the amazing, talented and creative teacher-authors that are a part of it!

Thinking…..That I NEED to get off my laptop and start getting stuff done.  We have dance competition this weekend, an hour away from our house.  My older daughter has her solo tonight and tomorrow my younger daughter performs her duo and all of the group dances go on!  Oh yeah, and I still have to do the laundry, pick up the house (let’s be honest, it isn’t getting cleaned…just picked up), and grocery shop.  Oh the life of a busy mom!

Wanting…..I found an Alex and Ani bracelet that I am obsessed with.  I love so many of them, but there is one that says “Completely Blessed,” on the charm.  It is so perfect for me and I really want it.  The problem is that I have THE WORST time spending money on myself.  If it is a purchase for my family or my classroom, no problem.  Something that is just for me though, I will agonize over the decision for days.  Is that normal?  Does anyone else do that?

Needing……To get my guest bedroom done.  I said “decorated” on the Currently, but truth be told there still isn’t even a bed in that room.  I have a lot of work to do.  I won’t have a problem spending money on that, because the way I look at it, it’s not really for me it’s for my guest.  My mom is coming for a visit over Spring Break and then my husband wants his mom to come stay with us for a few days.  I have a lot to do!

And finally, 17 years is the answer to my question.  Can you guess my question? 
It’s been fun catching up and I can’t wait to read everyone's!  Happy Rainy Saturday!