Thursday, January 31, 2013

100th Day, a Special Note, and a Super Sale

On January 30, we celebrated the 100th Day of School! I had the students working on 100th Day hats, books, and a 100th Day Watch, Think, Color (my class LOVES these!) from The Primary Techie. I also had the children dress up like they were 100 years old. That was fun! My son Jeffery's class dressed up as well. I just HAVE to share how cute he looked!

Keep in mind, Jeffery is a t-shirt and jeans kind of kid, so the shirt and tie are completely out of character for him. I still think he looked adorable! I put gray hairspray in his hair, but it didn't show up very well. As soon as school was over, the tie and suspenders came right off!

Today, when I was letting my class in the room, one of my students handed me a note. The note was from a child I had 2 years ago when I taught Kindergarten. He was a little bit of a behavior problem, but not too bad. I heard that last year he gave his 1st Grade teacher a very hard time. He has been okay in my class this year. Occasionally, he'll act out. He's one of those kids who is very smart and tries to get away with whatever he can, but at other times he tries to please. I'm used to getting short, "I love you," kinds of notes, but when I read this I was very surprised. Here is a picture of his note. Most of it can easily be read by any teacher.

By the way, the "mystery pictures" refers to the Watch, Think, Color activities. I just love the "Your Great Student" closing (with the incorrect comma). LOL!

Now for the sale! On Sunday, February 3, TPT is having a SUNDAY SUPER SALE! All of my products will be 20% off. Then, if you enter the code SUPER at the checkout, TPT will increase the savings to a total 28%!

Be sure to check out my store as well as hundreds of other TPT sellers for some great deals on February 3!
Thank you to Lauren for sharing this banner!

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Morning Messages, a Question, and New Clip Art

I do a Morning Message almost every day at school. I know there are lots of resources out there about how to use them, but I've always done it on my own. When I taught Kindergarten, I would write the message with blanks and mistakes the children should be able to find (capital letters, no spaces, punctuation, etc.). Then, as a class we would find the mistakes together. I always mentioned the "Student Teacher's" name in one of the sentences, and that child would get to take the message home that day.

In 2nd Grade, I decided to do it a bit differently. I write the message on the board, and let the children find the mistakes and answer a problem or 2. I have a small note pad and basket by the message so the children  can write their answers. They are to write their names, number of mistakes, and the answers to any problems posted in the message. When they are done, they fold their papers and put them in the basket. This is done during our Morning Work time, so some people are at the carpet working on the message while others are at their tables doing their work. They are allowed to do the message at any time during Morning Work time.

The 2nd Grade messages are written in letter format. I usually include a sentence about the date, and say something about our day. Sometimes I mention our Student Teacher (my child helper for the day), and I  mention birthdays when we have one. After that, I usually have a math problem and a language arts problem for them to solve.

Later, we go over the message as a class, and count the errors and solve the problems. This way they can see if they made any mistakes. The best part for them is when I unfold each note and see who completed it correctly. Those students all get to choose a treat.

This is a great way to review skills we have been working on in the classroom. It also gives me a quick view as to who doesn't seem to understand certain concepts. The students enjoy it, which is always a plus when we are learning!

Here is a sample of one of my messages:

Here it is after we corrected it:

Do you do a Morning Message? If you do, feel free to share how you do it. Also, I was wondering if you would find a packet with ready-made morning messages useful. I've been thinking about how to put it together and still make it personal for everyone who uses it. I thought maybe a general letter with blanks for teachers to fill in and 2 problems for each day. Please let me know your thoughts. If enough people show interest, I'll create one for TPT. 

I created some new clip art for Dental Health month! It is available for personal or commercial use. I hope you find them useful!

There is one more thing I just HAVE to share! I found a TPT store by The-Primary-Techie. She makes these "Watch, Think, Color" Powerpoint presentations that give students practice in various math skills. You give each student a hundreds chart and start the Powerpoint. It runs itself, and the children are quiet since they are busy figuring it out. This gives you extra time to grade papers, prepare for the next lesson, or whatever else you have to do. We did place value and ten more, ten less activities. My students are now begging to do one everyday! The only thing to watch for is the timing on the slides. Once I figured out how to set it (I'm not very familiar with Powerpoint), I set it for 25 seconds per slide. That seemed to be enough for the slower learners, and not too long to bore the faster ones. She has a freebie activity if you want to try it out. She also has lots of different activities with different concepts and themes. They are also suitable for older students and younger students.

Click on the image above to get to her freebie. If you want to visit her blog, go to . I'm definitely following her!

Enjoy the upcoming week! February is almost here! 

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Leprechauns, Clip Art, and a Giveaway

I'm so excited! I finally finished a new clip art set! I wish it had been done last weekend when my free penguin clip art was featured in the TPT Sellers Newsletter (over 3,000 downloads and counting!), but in reality I hadn't even started this one yet.

This set is full of graphics related to the month of March - St. Patrick's Day graphics, a leprechaun, kites, wind, rainbows, sun, etc.

I hope you enjoy it, and find it helpful!

Mrs. McLaren is having a giveaway at her blog, Mrs. McLaren's Little Super Heroes! She's celebrating one year on TPT! Visit her blog to enter!

I'm so glad tomorrow is Friday, and that we have a 3-day weekend! Maybe I'll have time to make more clip art! I was thinking of trying to do one for each month. I also have lots of ideas for teaching materials as well. Actually, some of them have already been started, and are in a "TPT Works in Progress" folder!

Have a great weekend!

Saturday, January 12, 2013

On a Personal Note...

I don't usually post about me personally outside of my classroom, but I really wanted to share this. It is school-related, and the situation has influenced me as a teacher. I will give you some background so that maybe you can get a better understanding about why I wanted to share.

My seven-year-old son, Jeffery is ADHD. He was diagnosed at the age of 4, and to this day I am still working to find the right combination of medications that will work for him. He is on a strange mixture right now that was prescribed by other psychiatrists that we no longer see. His current psychiatrist is trying to find a way to taper back and find the few medications that will work. For right now, what he is taking is working for the most part. 

He is a very intelligent child, who is very sweet and caring when the meds are working. He learned letters and sounds at the age of 2 with no prompting from me. He picks up everything he hears around him, even if you think he isn't listening. 

When he was 4 and in VPK, he would refuse to do Circle Time activities, preferring to roll around on the floor trying to be the center of attention. The teachers did nothing to try to get him to cooperate, which was a big mistake as he would never be ready to cooperate in Kindergarten the following year. At his VPK graduation ceremony, he proceeded to run back and forth across the stage trying to yell into the microphone throughout the ceremony. To say that I was embarrassed is an understatement!

In Kindergarten, he started going to the school where I work. At the time, I was a Kindergarten teacher, and he was right across the hall. I knew he was in good hands with his Kindergarten teacher. However, he proceeded to talk out, run around the room, get in the faces of the other children, refuse to do as he was told, scribbled on his work, and the list of disruptive behaviors goes on and on. One incident that still stands out to me is the day he drew a large EVE (from the movie, "WALL-E," which he still loves) using crayon, covering the entire table. His teacher had the patience of a saint! If she didn't, she was very good at hiding it from me.

After talking to our school's behavior specialist extensively, I decided to let them start testing him for the EBD (Emotional Behavior Disorders) class. This terrified me! He would be in a small class with a teacher and 2 assistants, and all of the other children were in grades 2-5. I was so afraid the other children would hurt him. I was assured it wouldn't be allowed, and except for 1 child who pushed him a few times, he was fine. When I chaperoned one of their field trips, I saw how the entire class seemed just like him, except they were older. Most of them even looked out for him. That was when I was able to accept his placement.

He started that class in the last quarter of Kindergarten, and is still in there now. At times I've felt like he was missing out on the songs and other fun things we usually do in the primary grades. I understood why his teacher couldn't do that in his class, but I wished he could be with the other kids in his "regular" class. 

He started being mainstreamed last year for Math and Social Studies. He seemed to do well for this short period of time, but I knew he still had to improve. This year, we started mainstreaming him for Math and Science. This meant he was in a regular class for half of the day. He seemed to be doing well after he realized what was expected of him, and the other children seemed to like him. However, he still had his "quirks" in there and in the EBD class, like not wanting to write at all. He is the "king of shortcuts." If he can find a way to get done faster (correct or not), he will do it. 

After the first quarter, we decided to mainstream him for Social Studies as well. Since his Math/Science teacher is departmentalized, that meant he would have another teacher with the same children from his Math/Science class. I hoped he could handle it. He continued to do well.

Now that we are back from Christmas Break, there seems to be a slight maturity about him (at school, sometimes at home) that wasn't there before. He has been doing very well in his classes, and trying harder. He earned all A's and 1 B (because of the writing) on his report card, and his behavior is good most of the time. 

Yesterday, his EBD teacher told me they are planning to fully mainstream him within the next week or so. I'm so proud of him I could burst! I've told him how happy that makes me, and how he should be so proud of himself. He knows this is big, but I'm not sure he fully comprehends the hard work it took from everyone (him, me, my parents, and his oh-so-patient teachers) to get to this point. I remember feeling so hopeless, like we'd never get to this point. Now, the feelings of pride and gratitude are overwhelming! I am extremely grateful to his teachers since Kindergarten (if you are reading this, you know who you are), my parents (who helped me tremendously through it all), and Jeffery, who all helped us get to this point. 

I know everything won't be perfect now. I'm sure there will be challenges galore in the future. However, it's wonderful to reflect on the current progress!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Back to Work, 4 Giveaways, and 3 Winners

Well, it was back to work for me yesterday. We had a planning day, which isn't so bad. Today we had inservices all day long, based on the book, Classroom Instruction that Works, by Robert Marzano. It's not an interesting read, but it has a few good points (and a few bad ones). We aren't finished yet, so I will leave my final verdict until later. It sounds like lots more work on top of what we already do, which always causes me stress. 

The children return tomorrow! I'm interested to see if 2nd Graders seem to mature as much over Christmas Break as Kindergarteners do. In K, you can definitely notice a difference! For many of them, things all of a sudden seem to click, which I find amazing. 

I'm okay with being back at work, but those early mornings are killing me!

Now, I have 3 giveaways to announce! Two of them include products of mine!

 Mrs. Kelly's Klass is having a 200 Follower Giveaway! While I'm posting about her giveaway, I also HAVE to mention one of her products that I bought yesterday.

 January Math Journal Prompts for 2nd Grade is an excellent resource! I was at a loss for what to have my students put in their math journals, and this gives a problem each day for them to solve. The prompts come 6 to a page, so I only had to print 3 pages per prompt. The problems are mostly concepts I've taught already, so it's great for review!

Fantastic First Grade Froggies is having a Mega 100 Follower Giveaway! She has 5 sets of great activities donated by TPT sellers, including me!

2nd Grade Pig Pen is celebrating her 1 year blogiversary by giving away her entire store to one lucky winner! She has great prizes for 2nd and 3rd place as well!

Here's another one for you! Rockin' Teacher Materials is giving away flash drives full of resources! This link will take you to the 2nd grade giveaway, but she also has giveaways for K-5!


THANK YOU to everyone who helped make my 100 Follower Giveaway a success! It was my first giveaway, and I think it went well. Here are the names of the winners:

PreK-2 Package
Janine N.

3-6 Package
Sara V.

7+ Package
Ellen P.

That's all for tonight! Here's hoping my 7 year-old son cooperates when it's time to get ready for school tomorrow! :)


Friday, January 4, 2013

Penguins, a Freebie, and Another Reminder

Wow! There isn't much left of my break! I have this weekend, and then I go back on Monday for a planning day, and Tuesday for an inservice day. I don't mind planning days. I love the quiet time in my classroom to attempt to get organized. It's the getting up early that I can't stand, especially since 10:30 seems to be my new wake-up time. :)

I managed to get a freebie created and uploaded! For some reason, it seems to take me so long to get even a small product up and running. It's all of the little details involved in creating and getting it set up just right. I'm not really complaining. I love to create new products. I just wonder how other people manage to get these huge projects up and ready so quickly! I wish I knew their secret! If you are one of those people, feel free to comment below, and let me in on it. :)

Okay, here is the freebie! I created some penguin clip art for you. If you'd like to download it, click on the image below.

Freebie Fridays

Since I'm fairly new to making clip art, any feedback would be appreciated. I would love to know if people find it useful or not.

Now, for a final reminder...

You have 1 more day to enter if you haven't already. I will select and notify the winners on Sunday. I'm very excited to see who wins!

Enjoy your weekend!