Thursday, July 30, 2015

TPT Gift Card Giveaway!!

 Looking to stock up on some goodies for the upcoming school year!  Enter to win a $25 TPT gift certificate and take a load off your wallet:)  If your wishlist is as full as mine then you will want every dollar you can scrounge up!!  Enter to win on the rafflecopter below!!  There will be five lucky winners.  The winners will receive an email with their TPT gift card the evening of the 2nd.  Just in time for the TPT sale August 3rd and 4th. Good luck, friends!!

 FF Back to School Giveaway- Get it here FIRST.png

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Tuesday, July 28, 2015

What is your MOON SHOT?

A couple weekends ago,  I was lucky enough to attend the International Literacy Conference in St. Louis.  I will be the first to admit that I am a "total geek" and to me summers don't just mean time to relax and quality family time but also time to improve my teaching so I can do EVEN better next year.  At the conference, I picked up a ton of great information that I intend on sharing over the next couple of weeks.  It was so inspirational to hear speakers passionate about teaching reading and writing like Stephanie Harvey and Jan Richardson.

I am so thankful for all the tidbits of information that I pick up on a daily basis from teacher blogs and I am pumped that I am finally organized enough to give back and spread some tidbits of my own.  I picked up a great organizational idea before I left for the conference.  I read that drafting blog posts in Evernote helped with managing blogging efficiency.  What is a genius idea!  Why hadn't I thought of it before?  So during the conference, I was able to take notes and enter photos under each session to make it easy to write a blog posts about the great reading ideas/info that I picked up .  Plus it will give me a chance to review and rethink through the material again as well so it really is a total WIN, WIN.

At the opening meeting for the conference, the president of ILA mentioned the term "moon shot" which was a term coined by Google.  This is an big idea or goal that a person or people are trying to accomplish.  For instance, the goal or "moon shot" of the ILA is to wipe out illiteracy worldwide!  I know right??  It is a huge undertaking but it is a goal that teachers play a huge part in everyday in classrooms around the world.  Teachers are knee deep in the trenches fighting illiteracy.  Teachers are faced with figuring out how to help that one reader who doesn't seem to "get" it or the handful of students that believe that reading is BORING.  Instead of GIVING UP when their class is tough or the kids don't appear to be learning a single thing educators fight back and show their students that reading is a portal to another world. 

I believe that as educators, "moon shots" keep us going.  The dreams that may appear unobtainable that we have for our students.  So as you begin you new school year:  What are your "moon shots" for the upcoming year?  I know that many of you have not met your students yet but what things that may seem unobtainable do you want to accomplish with your class this year??

Stay tuned my first conference post will focus on dyslexia.  I learned a couple of pretty interesting nuggets of information that I can't wait to share!

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Wordless Wednesday...Classroom Overflow

Summer is speeding by......... and I hope that you are enjoying every moment.  I hope you decide to join the fun and link up with Christina DeCarbo too!
Last year, my family and I made a huge move.  We left family and my hometown in small town OHIO to journey to the suburbs of Chicago.  My new classroom was a tad bit smaller than my previous room so I was plagued with an itty bitty problem.  
What should I do with all my books??  
I am a bit of a book-o-holic........friends.  Luckily, IKEA came to the rescue.

Do you have classroom overflow?  If so how do you store it?

Friday, June 26, 2015

Learn Like a Pirate: Improvement VS. Grade Focus

I am a little late on the band wagon but I am joining the fun and linking up with the Primary Gal to talk about Learn Like a Pirate by Paul Solarz.  I will be honest friends!  I. love. this. book. 

So let's get down to business.  Chapter 4 focuses on the "I" in pirate:  Improvement vs. Grade Focus.

I am just going to lay this out there.  As a special education teacher, this chapter spoke to me.  I have never had a grade focus.  My focus has always been for my students to grow as learners.  Reading this chapter was a breath of fresh air.  You mean other people feel this way too??  

I really relate to Paul Solarz message that our goal as educators is to empower our kiddos as learners!

The more students are invested in their learning, the more knowledge will unknowingly creep into their brains!  Great right?  And it will set them on a path to be intrinsically motivated learners.  Imagine kids learning just for the pure joy of it not because they want to get a 100% or  a "good" grade. 

Hopefully, the love of knowledge will stick with students long after they leave your classroom or mine and help mold them into adults with a continued thirst of knowledge.  That's what we all dream of as educators, right?  To make an imprint on the kids we teach.

Paul Solarz brings up several great points in this chapter.  Grades still have to be given. However, the teacher and student can choose to focus on academic growth and even a student's growth as a person.   How much learning has taken place?  How much has the student grown as a learner? Has a student made great strides behaviorally?

Feedback is key because without it improvement would not happen.  Yet, it is essential that we are careful in how we talk, share and respond to kids.  I loved how Paul provided examples on how he provides feedback to his students and emphasized that feedback should be given in the present tense.  Like:  Can you try it this way?  Next time, I would like you to try........

If feedback is given in the past tense then there is no way for students to correct their mistake and/or behavior.  

Ways to provide feedback to students
 1.  Leave comments on Google Docs
 2.  Whisper comments in a student's ear 
 3.  Meet and discuss with a small group 
 4.  Work through a problem with a team

This chapter emphasized that an environment where students feel safe taking risks is crucial.  Without it, students won't feel comfortable taking the lead with their learning.  If kids feel like they will be criticized by their teacher or peers then risk taking won't happen.  
Risk Taking+Investment+Engagement=LEARNING
Students should feel like mistakes are learning experiences not something to be embarrassed about.  


Not just the teacher can provide feedback but peers can as well.  Students give feedback to peers to aid in the improvement process.  Paul Solarz teaches his students to use quality boosters with one another.  He even instructs students to sandwich quality boosters  between positive comments.  A quality booster is a suggestion on how a peer might improve their work.  Even the best work can be improved upon!! 

I could seriously write a book about this chapter because there is so much meat to it but this post is getting too long already so I will stop.  However, if you are interested in more thoughts on this chapter check out Learn Like a Pirate's Twitter book study archive for chapter 4

Until next time friends, 

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Firstie Friends Giveaway!!

Hello friends! My Firstie Friends and I decided to pull together our best Spring products just for you! Please click on the image below to go to a Google Doc with clickable links for each product.

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Here are the blogs of all the fabulous ladies that have contributed. Click away to visit their pages! :)