Friday, December 30, 2011

WONDERland: Adventures in Questioning {Supplemental Resource}

You may want to sit down before you read this post.  I actually made something new for TpT.  :)  If you're looking for something to add to your questioning mini-lessons to keep them fresh & fun, this may be your cup of tea.  This Alice in Wonderland themed packet is full of fun posters and visual aids to help your students wonder and wonder some more.  :)  You can check it out HERE!  The first two people to comment will get this for FREE!  Don't forget to leave your email address!  :)  I'd also love to hear what your think!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Ohio Bloggy Meet and Greet: Take Two

Okay, I am the worst blogger and event planner ever.  EVER.  I am so sorry!  I wrote about planning a little get-together a really long time ago, and then life got in the way.  Since we are having an exceptionally mild winter in Ohio so far and the holidays are behind us, I was thinking that perhaps a little meet & greet could still work.  :)  As I mentioned before, I am in the Akron/Canton area, but I would be more than happy to entertain the idea of Columbus since it is more centrally located.  I would LOVE to meet all of you!  :)  I would love to hear your thoughts, and I would love to officially set a date sometime in the next month or so.  Please email me if you're interested:  Happy New Year friends!  I promise, I will be back here soon with something NEW!  :)  

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

hearAll Assessment Recorder: WINNER!!!!

Hallelujah friends!  We are officially on break as of tonight, and I am so beyond excited!  Soon enough, I will be back at school and working on my Masters capstone.  It's nice to know that I have almost two weeks to catch my breath, work ahead a little, and of course, relax for once.  :)  I say this now, but relaxing is really not in my nature, so I am sure I will find a plethora of ways to occupy my time.  Please tell me that I'm not the only one!  I seriously have already self-diagnosed myself with OCD, but quite honestly, I just know that my holiday break will be more like a holiday planning period.  {Just sayin'.}  What do you plan on doing with your time off?

I could seriously write a book about how the past three days panned out, but let's just say, it was interesting.  I was a little grinchier than normal, but apparently it went unnoticed.  While working on Santa similes, one student wrote "Santa Claus is as nice as Mrs. Nickerson."  Ha!  Just when you think you're being stern, someone has to go and throw a curveball like that one.  :)   I thought for sure that I had perfected the teacher look over the past six years, but I may need to continue working on  it.  I'll just go ahead and add that to my holiday to-do list.

Okay, now that I am on break, I finally have time to post the winner or the hearAll Assessment Recorder from Learning Resources!  Yay, right?  The lucky lady is...

Congratulations, Emily!!!!  Please email me so that I can put you in touch with Learning Resources to ensure that you receive your new classroom resource promptly!  Please let me know how you use it with your kiddos!  :) 

  Happy Holidays bloggy friends!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

A Christmas Rant & Last Minute Crafts

Well friends, today was a school-free day.  I got my hair did, braved the crowded aisles at the grocery store with my hubs, and spent FOREVER in the kitchen.  I kid you not, I spent two hours making a recipe that I found on Pinterest, only to throw the entire thing out.  {Usually, I find lots of yummy recipes through Pinterest, but  my husband summed it up best with this statement: "Ohhhh yeah. Amanda, that tastes like failure."}  So needless to say, that recipe won't be making a comeback anytime... ever.   Don't worry, the recipe is no longer pinned on my board.  Rest assured.  Beyond all of that, I baked a ton of cookies.  I am still not done.  Or even close.  I wish I had a personal chef... or that the cookies would just bake themselves, but I will totally be baking again tomorrow.  Bleh.   That's what I get for procrastinating.   So, you're probably wondering what any of this has to do with teaching.  It really doesn't have anything to do with it.  At all.  Ha! I just needed an audience for my Christmas rant, and you are lucky enough to be reading this.  :)  Besides, maybe this post will help dispel the urban legend that teachers live in their classrooms.  Okay, maybe we kind of do.  Kind of.  Part-time.  Again, a loose connection to teaching.  Done.

This, however, does have a direct correlation to teaching.  Okay, maybe just holiday art projects.   If you're looking for a few quick ideas to do with your kiddos next week, here's a few projects our fabulous art teacher did with our third graders.  They are simple... but CUTE ideas!  I know that I will be trying to fit in a few more craftivities during our final days, but we still have our weekly test and spelling test.  I'm going to have to get creative about how I'm going to make this happen...if I have any creative juices left after I bake myself into a stupor tomorrow.  :)  Happy weekend, friends! 

By the way, if you want to enter to win the assessment recorder from Learning Resources, this is your last chance.  I know I'm a little late, but I will draw the winner tomorrow.  :)  It's 10:43 here, and I am exhausted.  B.E.D.  T.I.M.E.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Top Ten Reasons I Know Christmas is Near...

If you do not follow Reagan at Tunstall's Teaching Tidbits, you NEED to.  Now, not later.  While you're there, you need to read her "Top Ten Reasons I Know Christmas is Near" post.  I read it to my husband, and of course, he politely smiled at me, but I am fairly certain that he was tuned out watching MADE on MTV like a full-fledged grown-up.  He probably heard something like, "Blah blah glitter, blah blah grunt."  Seriously though, I was shaking my head and laughing throughout the entire post.  Though this isn't an official linky party yet, I feel the need to participate, because let's face it friends, I have four more days of school, and WOW.  Here's my own top ten for your viewing pleasure.  :)

10. You know Christmas is coming when you refer to your classroom helpers as "helper elves".  
9. A poor man's Elf on the Shelf makes an appearance in your classroom as a last ditch effort to rally the troops and maintain order.
8.  You say things like "Did I ever tell you that Santa and I go waaaaay back?" and "Ohhhhh, let's be careful friends.  I would HATE to see your name added to the naughty list this close to Christmas.  You know Santa checks his list TWICE."
7. You start to wonder if you've walked onto the set of The Santa Clause, because almost every kiddo is dressed up like a reindeer, an elf, or a member of the Claus family... and every girl is covered from head to toe in sequins.  
6.  Your teacher friends yell out ,"Four and a half!" when they pass you in the hallway, and you reply, "Word." 
5. You start to give out way more rewards than ever... and buckets overflow with pom poms.  The bucket fillers are showered with "warm and fuzzies"... and the bucket dippers come face to face with Mrs. Grincherson.
4.  You PTL and count your blessings because all of your sweet thirdsters are looking forward to Santa's visit, and nobody has spoiled the magic.
3.  You can't even complete a Top Ten on your brain blog because your brain is fried, and you totally typed brain where blog was before you realized that you were proving your own point.
2. You view assemblies as welcome friends.  Yeah, maybe you can't fit in Social Studies today, but there's always January! 
And lastly... sadly... 
1. You haven't seen your Guided Reading table for two weeks, because it is completely hidden under a pile of craftivities, craft supplies, student-made ornaments and construction paper chains.  All group activities take place on the floor... with clipboards... because it's FUN and you're a super cool teacher... NOT because your room is starting to look like a scene from an episode of Hoarders. 

Disclaimer:  I have not sacrificed any of my Reading Street lessons, and I have managed sustain fidelity to the program.  All extra activities have been literally squeezed into any nook and cranny that we have in our school days on our intervention off-days.  :)  Ahem.  Done.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Loose Ends

We just finished our Unit 2 Benchmark last week, but I managed to sneak in a few craftivities to celebrate the season.  We made our Grinchy arrays again using templates from Deanna Jump's Grinch unit.  {This was completed during one of our EAGLE Time off-days.  We have intervention/enrichment periods every other day.} We also {partially} made our Cara Carroll inspired mints.  This year they showcase C/VC and CV/C words on them instead of multiplication fact families.  Yay syllabication!  We still need to wrap them as you can see.  The chain is just a chain.  Nothing educational or fancy.  It should be hanging in the hallway right now above the sad little display case that my teamie and I share.  However, it is on my table.  This is real life.  I totally need to get it together!

In other news, we made these ornaments with our kiddos.  All you need are glass bulbs and acrylic paint. You simply squirt a little paint into the bulb and let the kids swirl it around.  If you put the cap back onto the bulb, they can gently shake the paint around to coat the entire surface.  They are stinkin' adorable!

My teamie and I are also in the middle of making these ginormous snowflakes with our thirdsters.  They are soooo cute, but we are sooooo not done with them yet.  We are trying to fit them in around our assessments, instruction and intervention periods.  Slowly, but surely.  For a tutorial, click HERE!

We are currently starting Unit 3 in Reading Street, and our spelling focus is on contractions.  This skill is ALWAYS on the OAA, so I really want to make sure my kiddos have a solid understanding of them.  We did a fun introductory activity today since we had our Christmas program practice and dress rehearsal today.  I only had 40 minute blocks to work with, and I knew I had to make it fun and meaningful to get anything out of the time I had.  :)  So, I tore a page from Abby's book and switched it up a bit.  Since it's December, we made contraction gingerbread men and women.  They are darling!  You can get her adorable  template HERE!

Don't forget!  I'm giving away one hearAll assessment recorder by Learning Resources!  YOU could be the LUCKY winner!  Join the fun HERE!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Fluency Fun with the hearAll Assessment Recorder & A GIVEAWAY!

Hey friends!  Have you heard if the hearAll Assessment Recorder from Learning Resources?!  If you haven't, it's seriously worth looking into.  I am a HUGE fan of this little magical gadget.  It's so easy to use too!  It comes installed with a battery that you charge using a USB cord.  So simple.  It's so easy to open folders and play recordings too.  Luckily, as a back-up, it also comes with user-friendly directions.  I got it in the mail, brought it to school the very next day, charged it during bell work, and it was ready to go by the time my first Language Arts block rolled around.  If you want to win a FREE recorder (valued at $100) for your classroom... keep reading!

I should add that my thirdsters are obsessed with it.  They took their fluency checks super seriously, and they were so excited to have their little voices recorded for the benchmark test.  {You have to admit, benchmarks are kind of BLAH, so anything that makes it feel more "fun" is fabulous!}  I'm looking forward to playing around with it for literature circle groups, guided reading, independent fluency practice, reader's theater,  and all sorts of other classroom activities.  :)   Maybe a little pod-casting is in order.  Of course, my students are looking forward to it too!  We love technology!!!!

Okay, now for the fun part.  Listening to a few samples of recordings!  You'll get to hear a little blurb from yours truly and listen to a fluency check sample. I am certainly not a professional speaker, as you'll see, especially when I don't have a script!

My Official Product Review!

One of My Pumpkins Reading!

Here's what you need to do to win an assessment recorder for your classroom... for a total of 4 entries!
{Don't forget to leave your email address to ensure that I can get ahold of you if you should win!}

Follow my lil' ole slice of cyberspace, and share how you plan to use the recorder with your kiddos.  :)
Like Learning Resources on Facebook, click on their wall, and tell them that One Extra Degree sent you!
Follow their blog, and tell them I sent you!
Follow Learning Resources on Twitter.

(The winner will be randomly drawn next Friday, December 16th, at 10 P.M. EST}

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Sometimes Life Happens

Friends, when it rains it pours.  They say everything happens in threes, but sometimes in my experience, it's more widespread than that.  This week, in particular, it happened in fives.  I try really hard to keep this blog about teaching and to keep it going consistently.  However,  I received several phone calls this week that rattled me to the core, and while I am trying my best to let go and let God, the truth is, I'm too overwhelmed to fuss with blogging right now.  Without going into details, here's the scoop.  My family is my top priority, and whatever energy I have left is going to have to be relegated to my own classroom responsibilities for now.  I don't know how long it will be before my next post, but I promise I'll be back.  I think I should be back on track in a week or so, but who really knows how things will go.  Not this lady, that's for sure!  Right now, I'm going to go spend our last day with our highly destructive, anxiety-stricken, LOVING fur baby.  Although it's one of my smaller concerns right now, it still breaks my heart to return my two year old baby to his breeder tomorrow.  I know that we've tried every remedy and every suggestion out there (except maybe Caesar Milan), but it still makes me feel like we've given up on him. I guess it's just another lesson in life.  We are only human, and some things can't be fixed even when we try.  Have a nice week bloggy pals.  I'll be back in a week or two!