Saturday, October 27, 2012

Shout All About America: Classroom Elections for Kiddos! {FLASH SALE! UPDATE! FREEBIE!}

Last night, I was reminded that the elections are swiftly approaching.  Two candidates visited our itty bitty city, and traffic was outrageous when the rally let out.  I'm telling you, friends.  I was stuck at a light behind ten cars FOR.EVER. Literally, at least a half and hour.   I have never seen so many cop cars in my entire life!  I felt like I was in a video for Kanye's "Flashing Lights" for a minute.  Is that lame?!  I know it's totally a different context... but I seriously had a mild case of radio brain at that moment.  "Flashing lights... lights... lights... lights."  Okay, I'm done.  I promise!

Anywho... I  live in Ohio... and since we are a bellweather state... we typically are bombarded with campaign ads... and the candidate clamor for votes with lots and lots of rallies.  It's nothing new.  It just happened to be the first time I've ever gotten stuck in traffic because of it.  I'm not gonna lie, it was a really neat experience to see how the cops block of traffic and surround the caravan.  Total Crazy Town... but soooo neat.   Oh the joys of living near an airport!  :)

Over the summer, I decided to revamp my old election unit, so I emailed Scrappin' Doodles about creating clip art.  :)  I LOVE their stuff!  Of course, it took a little longer than I hoped it would to complete that project, so while I was impatiently patiently waiting, I whipped up Shout All About America: Classroom Elections for Kiddos using patriotic clip art that I already had!  I decided to put it out early enough to give teachers time to prepare for elections, but now I am happy to announce that I have made a few changes!  The election clip art is finally finished... and now I am 100% happy with the unit.  Like, sooooo satisfied.  :)  If you've already downloaded the file, you'll want to go back in to check out the updates.  Some of the posters have more election-specific clip art, but the content has remained the same.  :)  Details make a world of a difference sometimes, don't you think!?  Every item in my entire store can be for 20% off through SUNDAY.  If you act fast, you may even be able to snap this 110 page file up for 50% off until 5:00 P.M. today (EST time).  Don't worry though... if you miss out on the 50% off deal, you can still pick it up for 20% off through tomorrow night.  :)

The following Halloween units are also on sale for 50% off through 5 PM (EST time) TODAY only.  If you stumble upon this later or tomorrow... you can still get them for 20% off! ;)  I hope this helps make planning a little easier with regards to time & finances too!  Click on the pictures to be taken to each product page.  :)

Lastly, next week we will be reading "A Day's Work" by Eve Bunting.  I created this file over the summer to use with a child I was tutoring as part of my Master's course work.  :)  I hope you can use this FREEBIE!  :)  Click the photo to snag a copy!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Spooktacular Savings!

Yes!  You read that correctly!  :)  Everything in my store is 20% off through SUNDAY! 

Thanks to sweet Abby for the graphic! 

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Wowza... and a Winner Too!

Friends, my head is spinning!  My life has been Crazy Town.  For real.  :)  Last week, was benchmark week, and we had to wrap up the first nine-weeks before I left for a much-needed girls weekend in Chicago!  So, I did what any teacher would do, I went into autopilot mode.  I graded papers non-stop and spent countless hours plugging grades into the gradebook so that I'd be done by that Thursday night.  Our grades closed last Sunday, so I wanted to be sure that everything was recorded and in mailboxes before I left on Thursday.  I was also a little behind on updating my Sub Tub, so I had to make time for that too.  I wanted to be prepared, and now I'm ready for any unexpected absence to boot!   Goodness gracious... all of the stress was SO WORTH IT!  I had SO MUCH FUN, and for the first time in seven years, I didn't spend the entire report card weekend working on papers.  I spent the weekend exploring the city with my bloggy buddies and hubs instead!  :)

Seriously, when I started blogging about two years ago, I never ever imagined that I would make real, legitimate friends online.  Nevertheless, over time and as a result of lots of emails, friendships developed.  It's so nice to have a group of women who can completely relate to your life... the ups and downs... the frenzy of elementary school.  It's also nice to have a group of ladies to chit chat with about real life struggles and celebrations.  As unexpected as it was, I made real friends that I can be myself around... that I can talk to about anything... that I can laugh with until my stomach hurts.  These girls have been such an absolute blessing!  LOVE THEM... and their sweet spirits! As precious and talented as they are on their blogs... trust me when I say that what you see is what you get. 

 Cheryl from Primary Graffiti
Rachelle from What the Teacher Wants
Kim Adsit from The Kinder Gals
Lindsey from the Teacher Wife
Kathleen from Growing Kinders
Michelle from Fabulous in First
Deanna from Mrs. Jump's Class

Erica, yours truly, Abby, & Rachelle!  Love these girls!
Sarah, Abby, and I. 
Since we are all scattered across the country, we decided to meet up in Chicago, which seemed like a pretty central location.  We managed to surprise sweet Amy with a baby shower to celebrate her impending adoption.  She totally thought we were teasing her for showing up "late" to our earring exchange, but friends, the look of absolute shock on her face was PRICELESS!  :)

We spent a lot of time sight-seeing around the city... and standing around talking on street corners.  We're a very chatty group.  :) Seriously though... it was such a beautiful weekend.  We couldn't have asked for better weather in Chicago in mid-October! 

I know I've said it before, BUT I am so thankful for ALL of the friendships I've made through my blogging journey.  I am SO THANKFUL for each and every one of you.  Thanks for always being inspiring and supportive.  :)  Thanks for always stopping by!

Now that I'm back in Ohio, I've been pounding out grad school papers and getting ready for student-led conferences. All 29 sets of homeroom kiddos will be coming with their parents over the course of three days... starting on Tuesday!  So, to say that I am a tad busy would make me Captain Obvious to say the least.  :)

On top of that, our third grade team has been working on an economics/math project: "The Great Pumpkin Raffle".  A local pumpkin farm donated a pumpkin to each classroom in our school, then each classroom decorated a pumpkin to raffle off.  Our kiddos were responsible for promoting the raffle... selling tickets... counting ballots for awards... and figuring out our total profit.  (All profits will go to our PTO.)   Tomorrow is our final day... and so far... it's been a success.  The kids are loving it!  Can I be honest though?!  I think I took the laziest approach to my pumpkin.  We made a mummy!  Since I had to have it completed before the Chicago trip, I totally convinced my kiddos that it would be such a cool idea, because I knew it would be cheap and easy to do!  All we needed was white crepe paper, a glue gun, glue sticks, and large googly eyes!  Viola!  Done!

Imagine running into this guy in a dark hallway!!! Scary!!!
Now that our Lemonade Economics unit is coming to a close, I have to admit, I am a little bit sad.  My students ate it up with a spoon... and they just don't want to stop.  We're moving on to study communities this nine-weeks, but pictures like this are still popping up all over the classroom... especially after indoor recesses.  Can we say PRECIOUS?!

In other news, we have been reading "Penguin Chick" this week.  As it turns out, my kiddos are penguin experts.  We used my sweet friend Lindsey's free penguin packet to spice up good ole' Reading Street.  I had the kiddos choose a few facts to add to their web before filling out a KWL from the packet.  This was a great way to activate prior knowledge before reading.  :)

I used Rachelle's 123 Spell With Me packet to practice syllabication this week.  The kiddos LOVED the rainbow words... even though we had to adapt how this looked due to time.  The kiddos colored in the numbered boxes instead of writing the words in crayon.

We also spent some time talking about being a good citizen at school, at home, and in our community.

In closing, I'd also like to take a moment to announce the winner of my Jumbo Safari Counters giveaway!  Grace B, you are the lucky gal!!!!  I will be emailing you sometime this weekend to send this fabulous classroom tool on its way!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Scrambled Thoughts... and a Safari Counter Giveaway!

It's that time of year, friends.  I am frenzied and frazzled.  Oh, and I'm sick.  My old friend, the common cold, came back to visit again this month.  I've been trying to fight it for a week, and now I sound like Marge Simpson when I talk.  It's tragic and comedic at the same time.  So, because I don't have a lot of time or energy to blog, I am doing a DUMP & GO post.  I need to hustle... and scramble... or I am never going to be able to finish all of the things on my incessantly growing To-Do List... and I totally need to hit the hay a little earlier than usual.  Fingers crossed...

First, let's look at how we have been practicing the RTQ Process.. to restate the question.  (I think I am the only person in my district who calls it this... others refer to it as TQA... turning the question around.  Same thing... different name!)  First, I write a question on a sentence strip, and then I post it. 

We read it together.  Then, I cut it apart and rephrase it to model the process.  I point out how we remove the question words and question marks when we do this.  I turn the question mark sideways to turn it into an ellipses.

Next. we generate possible responses that could answer the question.  I jot them down as a list first, and then the students generate a written response using the chart.  Of course, it has to be more automatic by the time they take... dun dun dun... "the test".  However, this is a great introductory activity that helps make the concept more concrete. 

Since it's the end of the nine-weeks, we've been trying to wrap up our economics unit.  I managed to take a few pictures of some of our charts and whatnot.

I used Sarah Cooley's Lemonade Stand unit to tie in some "market research."  Each student from both classes stated whether they like yellow lemonade or pink lemonade better, and we charted our results.  Then we talked about how this data would impact a business, and we recorded the consensus on the chart.

Of course, we also played a Lemonade Stand Game on Cool Math prior to all of this to help students understand how you work with a budget, how you can make a profit, and how to consider customer feedback to help make business decisions.  They loved it, and it was a great way to solidify all of the terms we've been working on this nine-weeks.

 My kiddos are also finally in the final stages of creating their business plans from my Lemonade Economics unit, and they are doing an absolutely fabulous job.  It's been a great way to get them to apply the skills and terms in a meaningful and fun way!  My kiddos are taking it SO seriously!  I snapped a picture of my example to protect student work... but you can get the gist!  We did not use every term or page I included in the unit.  I chose the terms I felt like I had taught well enough to assess.  This will be the final social studies grade before our big economics test.

Speaking of the big economics test, I decided to create a study guide for my kiddos using the posters from my Economy 101 packet.  I printed them in grayscale, and then I attached a snazzy cover sheet.  If you're interested in snagging the cover, you can download it HERE.

"Le- Le- Le- Le- Lemonade f-f-f-for  s-s-sale!"   Is that a sales pitch, I see?!  :)  Don't you LOVE when you see evidence of learning in the most unexpected places?!  It honestly makes my heart soooo happy!

I other news, we also spent some time using the Summary vs. Retelling sheet that I blogged about last weekend.  It's a freebie, so if you're interested, make sure you check out my old post. We used it to reinforce the concept... and also story elements... as we read "My Rows & Piles of Coins".   It worked like a charm! 

Other than all of that, I don't really have a lot of super-exciting stuff to talk or blog about.  We had our first round of the OAA a few weeks ago... I've been planning interventions for our intervention-enrichment periods... and I've been reviewing for benchmarks.  Nothing share-worthy!  The only thing worth sharing for intervention/enrichment purposes is the concept of using a little ring attached to a basket for grouping.  It's nothing earth-shattering, but I have found that typing all of my groups out with the teacher listed... the number of students listed... the room listed... and any additional information listed... is EXTREMELY helpful and keeps me sane.  I like to have all of my information in one spot.  So, I attached it to my Eagle Time basket... and viola!  I'm ready... and more importantly my sub will be ready when I'm out of school next Friday!

While we're on the topic of organization, here's a little look at our AR Quiz Line in action.  This one is from my {Bright Colors} pack.  After I snapped this photo, one of my students who wants to be a teacher when she grows up, decided to put all of the numbers in the bucket in numerical order.  ;)  It cracks me up!  Just when you think you're organized... you realize that you're never going to be as organized as you wish you could be!

While I was snapping semi-random photographs of my classroom, I decided to take a picture of our fluency center.  I am slowly adding poems as we go.  All of the poems in the center have been used whole-group and modeled extensively.

In totally unrelated news, I was reading how Abby and Rebecca are contemplating a Chic Teacher Tuesday linky party... and I was totally gitty!  I LOVE teaching, and I love shopping!  Seriously... how much fun is that?!  So, I decided to start practicing my self-portraits.  I have decided that I have two options.  I can choose not to participate... or I may have to have Mr. Nickerson take pictures of me.  (I am fairly certain that I will be teased mercilessly if this is the option I choose! Ha!)  Seriously though, look at how awkward this is!! Bahahahaha!  Also, let's talk about how I am totally wearing COMFY teacher clothes in this picture, because let's face it, when I'm sick, I could honestly care less about about being CHIC.  ;)  Irony at it's best, folks.

Okay, I know that some of you must be thinking, "Is she ever going to stop rambling and get to the good part about the giveaway?!"  The answer is YES, I AM.  Right now!  :)

I had the opportunity to review Learning Resources' Jumbo Safari Counters.  I think they are really reasonably priced (at $19.99).  They really are JUMBO... and they are absolutely precious... and durable!  If you are a fellow intermediate teacher, you may be wondering why on earth I would review counters... and you would not be alone.  My partner laughed at it too!  :)  However, I still love her, and I still heart all of you, and so I will tell you my master plan for these cute little safari animals.

First of all, I am a sucker for themes, and since my classroom is safari-esque, I couldn't resist snagging these little guys.  Secondly, I had a little siren going off in my brain when I found them online.  I immediately thought about how I could use them for syllabication!  Here's what I mean.  I can use spelling words or vocabulary words that we are already studying, and have students pull out index cards with the words written on them.  Simple and easy, right?  Then, the kiddos can practice tapping the sounds out with these little critters.  Each animal can represent one syllable.  It definitely makes practice more enjoyable & enticing, don't you think?

This school-year, I also have a kiddo who is still learning his sight words and CVC words, so we used Deanna's Stretch the Word Snake Mat to work on letter-sound correspondence Elkonian-style.  (My bloggy pal, Rachelle, also has a mat with four squares if you're interested in using the counters for a similar purpose!  You can read about how she helps kids stretch out sounds HERE!)

Honestly, I can think of so many ideas for these little safari critters!  You could create arrays... you could create patterns... you could use them for probability... you could use them to create a tangible graph... you could use them for counting... you could use them for  fractions... you could use them for colors... the possibilities are endless!  How would you use them?!  Feel free to comment below and share with others!

Now for the moment you've all been waiting for.  If you're interested in snagging the Jumbo Safari Counters for your classroom, 

{Don't forget to leave your email address to ensure that I can get a hold 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 their wall, & tell them that One Extra Degree sent you!
Follow their blog, and tell them I sent you!
Follow Learning Resources on Twitter.
Follow Learning Resources on Pinterest.
If you want to have a bonus entry... blog about this post and leave the link in my comments section!

The winner will be drawn next Sunday, October 21st, 2012.  Make sure to check back in on Monday for the winner!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, October 8, 2012

Summaries vs. Retellings FREEBIE!

As many of you already know, I am finishing up my FINAL grad school course as we speak.  I may or may not have a slight case of "senioritis".  Who knew that you could come down with THAT in GRAD SCHOOL?!

Anyway, I'm spending the day off working on projects and papers to try to get ahead and get DONE!  As I was sifting through my paperwork, I found a graphic organizer that I've been meaning to share with all of you!  Disclaimer:  This was NOT my brain child.  I WISH I had thought of it though, because it is BRILLIANT!

We hit summarizing pretty hard in third grade... right out of the gates.  Most of the kids give GREAT retellings... but they struggle with writing concise summaries.  Every single year, I spend LOTS of time teaching them the difference.  I've always relied on using familiar fairy tales like "The Three Little Pigs" to do a retelling since 99.9% of my students have heard it many times by third grade.  Then, after hooking them... by the hairs on their chinny chin chins... I summarize it.  I give them the gist of the story.  Short & sweet.  Then, I always ask, what was the difference between my retelling and my details?  Someone is always quick to point out that my summary is kind of similar to giving the main idea... and I leave lots of details out.  This has worked pretty well for me, but friends, just wait till you see this organizer!

My professor is absolutely fabulous, first of all.  I spend a lot of time reading about reading, because I have a bit of a love affair with literacy, so I don't always hear NEW ideas, per se, but I definitely gain perspective and understand more deeply.  Every now and then, she comes out of nowhere with some crazy-brilliant-fabulous idea... and this is just one example.

Click the picture to download!

This is how it works!  Before reading a book, pass out the graphic organizer.  Take a moment to show your students how it is set up... and how there are lines for each story element.  Next, tell the students to jot down details that they want to remember on the lines outside of the diamond as you read.  (I think it would be great to add a retelling afterward... to have the kiddos turn and talk to each other and share their retellings of the story after looking over their notes.)  Then,  ask them to jot down one sentence in each section of the diamond to describe the setting, the characters, the problem, and the solution.  After that. have the students cut or fold around the diamond to remove the extraneous details.  Explain that this is how a summary works.  A summary tells the main points or the gist without the extra details.  Viola!  A visual representation of summaries!  If you've been following along for a while, you know how much I love tangible concrete models for comprehension!  Isn't this fabulous!?  It's the best thing I've learned all semester!  I've retyped it to share with all of you, so if you want a copy, click on the picture to snag it for FREE!  Let me know what you think! :) 

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Slashed Prices

Today, I was working on putting my new Too Cute to Spook Centers together, and as I littered my dinette with cardstock, I was thinking a lot about blogging and TpT.  When I started blogging in October 2010, I never imagined that I would be writing to such a large audience.  I never imagined that so many people would use my resources.  It hit me that somewhere out there... in this big 'ole world... it was quite possible that another teacher's table was littered with my centers too.  Then it hit me that this is serious business.  Not only do my resources impact MY classroom and MY kiddos... they impact yours too.

So, I started thinking about the whole journey.  Blogging.  Creating. Reviewing.  TpT.  Friendships.  The whole she'bang!  Then, I immediately started slashing prices.  Aside from my dollar deals and freebies, everything else in my store has an adjusted price.  Honestly, pricing products is tricky business, and I have struggled with it ever since I opened my store.  I try to look at what everyone else is doing and consider all of the factors that impact pricing.  I struggle because I don't want to underprice (my most recent centers ended up costing $35.00 to make... and several HOURS), but I also don't want to charge an arm and a leg for resources that still need to be printed out... laminated... and cut out.  (As evidenced below...)  So, to make a very long story short, I've decided to drop prices, permanently.  When it comes down to it... TpT is NOT all about making money.  It's all about helping kiddos and teachers.  I want to make my resources more accessible.  I hope you enjoy my "sale"! I noticed that the prices are SLOWLY showing up, so don't be alarmed if it doesn't show up right away.

Oh, and if you're interested in taking a closer look at the "Too Cute to Spook" Centers... I snapped a few from the work station today!  :)  I trim around everything first so I can laminate three sheets at a time.  I cut them out once they are laminated.  This makes the laminating process faster and less wasteful.  I laminate a lot... but I don't ever want to waste resources that my colleagues use too!  :)  I should also note that while taking these photographs.... I realized that I forgot to print a few of the orange student direction sheets.  Oops!  Guess what I was doing shortly afterward?! Printing those bad boys O-U-T! :)

Eventually, my piles were tamed... materials were put into piles and baggies... and my table was cleared.  Of course, the whole time, I was being watched.  Supervised, perhaps.

Today, I learned why the saying, "watching like a hawk" exists, because THIS GUY watched me the entire time!  Ha!  I tried to creep closer to the window for a picture after the table was cleared, but I startled him.  Drat!   Happy Sunday, friends!