Friday, March 13, 2015

Morning Messages

I have done morning messages with my classes for years, even in Kindergarten. I write a message in letter format. I always include a certain number of mistakes, many of them are based on skills we are learning. Then, I include a problem for them to solve in Language or Math, which gives a good review.

The messages are handwritten on the easel each day. My students get a post-it, tally the mistakes, and solve the problem. After that, they turn in their post-its, and we go over the message after morning work.

After we go over the message as a class, I go through each post-it to see who got both the number of mistakes and the problem correct. Those who get both correct get a treat of some kind.

I thought it would be cool to make this into a Powerpoint that animates the corrections. Then, I realized this is a great idea to share with other teachers! The children enjoy doing them, and are engaged. Teachers get a good review and a quick snapshot as to which students understand certain concepts. It's a win-win situation!

My class was very excited to do the messages in this format! Here are a few pictures!

This student even used her word bank to look up how to correctly spell a word from the message!

I simply have them use post it notes to record the answers.

 Then, they fold them and put them in the bucket.

This is what it looks like on my projector.

When we finish going over the message, we get a cool picture with an encouraging message!

Below is a video to show you how they work. You can choose whichever message you want each day. All you have to do is put it on the slide you want, then go to "slide show, use current slide." Please note, there is no narration on the video, so you don't need to adjust your sound!


Since I wanted teachers to be able to use and reuse the messages year after year, I made the date in the heading and the message editable. It's pretty easy to do. However, I am aware that there are many people who aren't familiar with editing in Powerpoint, so I have included this video to show you how to edit the date. There is no narration in this video either.

Included in the packet is a slide that would be most helpful if printed for students to use each day. It explains the types of mistakes they should look for. Here is a picture.

I plan to make them for each month, then maybe do some themed messages. I'm very excited about this product, and I hope other teachers like it too!

To celebrate this great new product, I will be giving away 2 copies of March Interactive Morning Messages! To enter, simply use the Rafflecopter below! Good luck!

You can also get a copy of March Interactive Morning Messages at 50% off March 14 and 15!

I'd love to hear what skills and concepts you'd like to see in future Morning Messages products! Please comment below to let me know what you'd like. I'm definitely open to ideas that will help other teachers!


Saturday, August 16, 2014

Adventures in Whole Brain Teaching Week 1

I discovered Whole Brain Teaching this summer. It sounded so easy, and I could just imagine how wonderfully my new class would respond. I was also a bit nervous about it since I am NOT very animated, and I personally hate it when I have to share what I've learned with a partner. I've always been the type of person who learns best by myself. I was also the kid who would go ahead and start working on the paper while the teacher gave instructions because I already knew what to do. Yes, I was THAT kid who now drives me nuts! :)

On the first day of school, I was all ready to start WBT. I knew to teach Class-Yes and the WBT rules first. I knew to practice them over and over until the class could do them flawlessly. I also introduced the scoreboard so the children would be even more excited about the process. 

The first Class-Yes was met with a few groans, and, "I've already done this!" So, I tried to make it a little more exciting for them by being animated. I added gestures, funny noises, and little dances to keep the children interested. I had most of the children buying into it, but I felt ridiculous since this was not my personality at all. Still, I was determined to make this work. I had read about the brain research behind WBT, and it made sense to me. 

As the day went on, MOST of the class was doing fine, but I still had a few that didn't respond or complained each time I went through a procedure. I made sure I added points to the scoreboard, keeping to the 3 point rule where there can't be a difference of more than 3 points on each side. We kept practicing, and I introduced Teach-Okay, Mirror, and the 3-peat for following directions. Most of the children seemed to be getting it, and I was being as animated as I possibly could be.

By afternoon Resource, I was physically and mentally drained. I couldn't imagine teaching like this everyday. It felt so unnatural to me and my fairly quiet personality. I also didn't know what I was going to do about the students who still weren't participating.

I still wasn't ready to give up on WBT, but I knew something had to change. I went home to do more research. I went to the WBT website, reread the introductory information, but still couldn't figure out what I did wrong. I decided to watch some videos of it in action. In one of the videos, Chris Biffle (creator of WBT) mentioned timing students during procedures. They could then try to break their own records by doing it faster the next time. I made a note to myself to try that. Then, I watched a video of a 1st Grade teacher doing WBT. Her children were obviously familiar with the procedures already, but I watched what she did. I knew I hated putting on a song and dance show like I had basically done that day, so there had to be a better way. She simply stated the Class-Yes and Teach-Okay without all of the craziness. The class still responded enthusiastically. That's when I decided I was definitely going to try again.

I've always been the type of teacher who is mostly serious, but occasionally makes a goofy remark or jokes around with students. My humor is often subtle, but in 2nd Grade many of them seem to get it once they get to know me. So, I went in the next day, reviewed the WBT that we already knew, and practiced procedures more in depth. I wasn't as animated, but I added a few goofy sounds or actions as I felt comfortable. Most of the class responded, but there were still those few that I couldn't seem to reach. Overall, the day was better.

The next 2 days I felt that I wasn't keeping the attention of a few more students. I felt like I was doing what I was supposed to do, but something had to be wrong. Were my expectations too high? Why didn't it seem to be working as well. They seemed to be bored with it.

After a long week, I am grateful for a restful weekend! I will continue to learn more about WBT, and hopefully things will go a bit more smoothly next week when we have more academics to add to the mix. I truly want this to be fun and helpful for them and manageable for me.

Stay tuned for more Adventures in Whole Brain Teaching Week 2!  I am determined to make this work! :)

Are there any other WBT teachers out there? Share your experiences! I'd love to hear about them!

Friday, August 1, 2014

August Currently

I know, ANOTHER post from me in the same day! I just had to post the August Currently, hosted by Farley at Oh' Boy Fourth Grade.

Most of it is self-explanatory. 

LOVING my new classroom setup because I put 2 comfy reading areas instead of my usual 1. I have the students read everywhere in the room anyway, but it's nice to have 2 cozy spots. 

NEEDING to cut and organize all of those task card sets I printed and laminated (I tend to spend all of my TPT seller earnings on TPT products!). I plan to try something new with  task cards this year, and I wanted a variety of subject areas and topics. What better time to get them all ready than summer vacation?! Well, it would have been great if I had decided to work on them sooner. I decided to spend more time relaxing and enjoying my break instead. My plan for the cards is based on this post I saw on the blog at Sunny Days in Second Grade. I can't wait to try it this year!

Yes, I go back on August 5. Our Orientation is August 8. The students return on August 12. That's the day my son, Jeffery, starts 4th Grade. I can't believe he's going to be a 4th grader!

If you have any other great ideas for using task cards, please share them with us!

Back to School

My summer is almost over. I have to go back to school on August 5. I don't mind going back, I just hate getting up early in the morning. This year will be a bit different for me. It will be my first time as Team Leader, and we have 3 new people on our team. Two of them are new to our school. I'm up to the challenge though!

Be sure to head over to TPT on August 4 and 5! They are having a Blast off Back to School Sale! Items will be 20% off in participating stores, including mine, and you can get up to a total of 28% off by entering the code BTS14. Start your wish list now so you can stock up on August 4 and 5!

Click on the image above to add to your wish list!

When do you go back to school? Are you ready, or would you prefer a longer summer? Do we have any other Team Leaders out there?

Saturday, July 26, 2014

It's Time for a Giveaway!

It's almost time for me to go back to school. I can't believe I only have 1 more week! Summer has gone by much too quickly! I have been working on things for school while I have been home though. I was even able to get to my classroom a little bit this summer. I have taken some before pictures. Well, I remembered to take them after I had moved some furniture, but before I really decided where to put everything. I'll be posting after pictures when my room is completely done.

Everything that is on the wall was kept up from last year. It makes things much easier if I don't have to start completely from scratch every year. I now have all of the furniture placed, but I'm waiting until everything is 1st day of school ready so you can see the transformation.

On another note, our county is starting with a new reading and writing series this year - Making Meaning and  Being a Writer from the Developmental Studies Center. The books don't look very exciting, but we'll see how well the series works. Since the books aren't very pretty, I decided to make my own writing rubrics based on the ones in the book. 

These rubrics can be used for ANY writing program, not just our series. They are Common Core based, and would work well in any 2nd Grade classroom. 

If you want to see more, click on the images above and download the preview file. This packet includes  rubrics for narrative, fiction, informative, nonfiction, letters, poems, and opinion writing.

I have the rubrics in various styles and colors, including blackline masters. You are welcome to choose the format you like best. There are smaller copies of the blackline rubrics for student writing notebooks, folders, or whatever you choose. Each rubric (and color) has its own numbered rubric, which can be posted next to it. After each question on the rubric, students decide how they would rate their work on a scale of 1-3 (3 being the highest). This helps them to take more care in checking their writing. Of course, modeling the use of each rubric is necessary, but it will be worth it in the end!

To celebrate the launch of my latest product, I have decided to give away the rubrics to 2 lucky winners! Simply enter on the Rafflecopter below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 I am also offering this product at 50% off until July 28 if you'd like to purchase it instead.

Good luck to everyone who enters!


Monday, July 14, 2014

I'm Back - With a Freebie!

I know it's been a long time since I last posted. I had a very difficult class last year, which definitely didn't put me in the mood for blogging. However, I'm ready to start the new school year with a clean slate! 

I recently discovered Whole Brain Teaching! I'm sure many of you have already heard of it. For those who haven't, it's a method of keeping the class engaged through listening, seeing, speaking, and moving. I still have lots to learn about it myself, but if you are interested in finding out more, please visit

When you get to the website, they have tons of great information about the program (which costs NOTHING, by the way), including reading materials, videos, and lots of FREE downloads! You have to register to access the downloads, but it is definitely worth it. All they ask in return is that you pass along their website to at least 11 people, and send them proof of it. That's exactly what I'm doing right now! :)

If you find you want to try out Whole Brain Teaching, there are also tons of free resources on TPT to help you get started. You can start checking them out by going here.

I also made a freebie for you! The first level of classroom management in Whole Brain Teaching is the scoreboard. You can easily draw one on the board, but I'm all about making useful things cute and decorative for the classroom, so I made 7 scoreboards in different styles. You are welcome to use them for anything you want, but I plan to use them for WBT. 

I decided to upload one of the scoreboard images to Vistaprint, and have it made into a small car magnet to put on my dry erase board.

To download these, click on one of the images above or click here.

If you download this product, please take a minute to leave feedback! I really appreciate it! Thanks!

What are you looking forward to this coming school year? Let me know in the comments section!

Sunday, December 1, 2013

December Currently, a New Item, and Cyber Monday

It's December, and here is my Currently, hosted by Farley at Oh' Boy Fourth Grade!

Most of these are self-explanatory, except my favorite tradition. Each year, everyone in my family (there are only 5 of us so it's not too excessive) buys everyone else a stocking stuffer costing no more than $10. For some reason, we had stopped doing it for a few years. This year we decided to bring back the tradition. I like this because we have to be more creative with our gifts. It's always fun to try to think of things to buy others, and it's fun to see what everyone else gets.

I have created a new item for my store, just in time for Cyber Monday (and Tuesday)! My class has a very difficult time with multisyllabic word reading. So, I thought I'd make this simple game that can be used in various ways. You can put it in a center, use it in small groups, or make it a whole-class game.

Each child takes a turn choosing a card. If he/she reads the word correctly, he/she can keep the card. If a "mischievous elf" card is drawn, the player must put back all of his/her cards. The player with the most cards at the end is the winner. 

I have divided the words into syllables by using the colors red and green. This will help students to sound out the words. I plan to review all of the words with my class tomorrow before putting the game out for them to play.

One thing I love about this game is that the elf cards were made with elf clip art that I drew myself! Those elves can be found here.

Starting tomorrow, everything in my store is 20% off! When you make a purchase at TPT tomorrow and Tuesday, be sure to type in the code CYBER to get a total of 28% off everything in my store! Also, if you aren't already a follower of my TPT store, be sure to become one. That way you can get information about new products and sales. 

I already have several items on my wishlist that I plan to buy during the sale. What do you plan to get? Be sure to share with us in the comments below!