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Saturday, June 27, 2015

Dare to Dream {TpT Seller Challenge - Week 2}

Well, I must say that this seller challenge has certainly inspired me with both my TpT store and my blog.  I am still working on making over ALL my products, but I think that will be a long, ongoing process.

This week's theme was Dare to Dream.  I have been thinking off and on all week about my dreams for my business.  To be honest, when I started blogging and creating products, I didn't have any huge dreams or plans.  I was only blogging and creating as a way to relieve stress.  I found the whole process fun and exciting.

But as I have worked harder on my store, seen the success stories of other teachers, and started earning small amounts of money myself, I have been thinking more about what I would do with the extra money.  

I do have some major things that I wish I could afford right now - a house and a working car are the two big ones.  {My car right now is old, needs lots of work, and has no air conditioning!}  I also would love to be able to save for retirement in the future. 

Really though, any money I earn is just a bonus.  I have other dreams for my blogging adventure as well.

I love being able to meet and learn from other teachers around the world.  Hearing them be passionate about their classrooms and what they are teaching, inspires me to be growing and improving as a teacher as well. 

I recently went to my first blogger meet-up this past spring.  I was unbelievably nervous, but it was so much fun.  I made new friends, and put faces to some of the names of blogs and stores that I was already reading and following.

Every year, I read about the fun other bloggers had at the TpT convention in Vegas.  I keep telling myself that one year I will be able to afford to go.  It's definitely a dream that I have for the future!

Friday, June 26, 2015

The Book Whisperer: There's a Time and a Place {Chp. 3}

In chapter 3 of The Book Whisperer, Donalyn emphasizes the fact that we need to provide students with a time and a place to read independently. If we as teachers honestly believe that reading is important, then we should show students that by giving them the chance to read in class.

Donalyn also points out that we can spend all day long on reading instruction, but if we don't give students the opportunity to actually read, then they will never grow to be better readers.  Only a regular time for reading will make our students improve as readers.

There are many small moments during the school day when students can be taught to get our their book and read.  During classroom interruptions, before school or class starts, when a student finishes work early, and any other time a student has to wait are perfect opportunities for your students to dive into their books.  We should teach our students use every moment as a chance to read even a page or two.  Those small moments during the day can add up quickly.

Making our classroom a place for students to read is more than just setting up a special reading corner.  Instead it involves making your classroom a place where students are comfortable talking about books with each other.  It means reminding students that they can read anywhere they are. {My students last year loved reading under their desks.  It seemed like such a treat to them!}

I tried last year to give my students more times to read independently.  However, I was not great in teaching my students to read during those small moments.  Instead of having my students keep a novel in their book box, I am going to try having them keep one close to them during the day.  I am going to encourage them to read every time they get a chance this year.  

I will usually let my students sit wherever they want during reading time.  I would like to get some more comfortable seating for them though.  Not all students like to sit on the floor to read!

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Makeover Madness {TpT Seller Challenge - Week 1}

If you have been on social media at all this week, you may have already seen or heard about the #TpTsellerchallenge happening right now.  For the next four weeks, a huge group of teachers are being challenged to complete different projects in their stores.  

Week 1 was Makeover Madness, and the challenge was to choose at least one product to makeover.


I had no difficult choosing which products to redo. {In fact, I have a whole list of older products that need redone.  It's amazing how much you learn even in just six months or so.}

So far this week, I have completely updated 3 of my products.

All three products needed some drastic help.  I used frames, fonts, and clipart that I liked better for the covers.  Not only that, but I also updated the task cards as well.  I resized the task cards to be a little larger (easier for little hands to work with).

My makeover tasks are not complete though.  I realized that many of my earlier products didn't even have my store name or logo anywhere on them!  I am in the process of going through all my products and adding my logo and store name, a recommendation page, and links to similar products in the description.  It is a very time consuming process, but it definitely needs to be done.

One of the things that I appreciate most about this challenge is the chance to learn from some amazing sellers.  Of course, it has given me even more to work on though.  For example, I learned that saving my products as a PDF is not enough to make the clipart secure (which is what most artist's Terms of Use requires).  It needs to be a SECURE PDF. So I am also going back and securing all my products correctly before uploading them again.

I am certainly having fun updating all my products though. (Good thing I like this, right?)  All 3 of the products above are on sale for $1 until Saturday in my TpT store.  I am also going to be putting more items on sale as I update them throughout the summer.  I will be posting sale items on my Facebook page.  You can follow it to hear about new sale items and freebies!

Thanks especially to the following bloggers for hosting this amazing challenge!

Peppy Zesty TeacheristaTeach Create Motivate
Sparkling in SecondThird in Hollywood

The Book Whisperer: Everybody is a Reader {Chp. 2}

Well, I missed linking up for the first chapter of Donalyn Miller's amazing book The Book Whisperer.  {I spent all of last Thursday driving home from our family vacation.}

I absolutely love this book though.  I read it last summer, and it gave me the incentive to completely change my reading classes.  I am so excited to be reading it again this summer.

I love reading, and as a teacher, it was hard for me in the past to understand why students would not like to read.  It is so much more freeing as a teacher to start from the basis that every child is a reader.  Instead of then struggling to try to make children readers, I can spend my efforts finding books that the students will enjoy instead.

Donalyn identifies three types of readers in this chapter: developing readers, dormant readers, and underground readers.

Moving away from a traditional reading curriculum {basal readers, whole class reading units, book quizzes and tests} is a scary step for most teachers.  I will admit that when I started giving my students more choice and independent reading time last year, I was nervous.  I was nervous about what other teachers and even the parents would say.  I switched from long reading lessons to mini lessons with interactive notebooks and then free reading time.

I'm not going to say that everything went completely smoothly last year.  There are definitely things that I need to work on.  I need to do a better job finding high interest books for my developing readers. {Even if that means trips to the library every weekend to supplement my class library.}  I need to do more to support my developing readers so they can feel success.  I also need to give my students more time to talk about the books they are reading with each other. 

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Tell All Tuesday: Summer Snapshot

I am linking up for Tell All Tuesday - a fun summer linky hosted by Teach, Talk, Inspire and My Day in K!

This week's topic is Summer Snapshot!

 There is one summer activity that I look forward to every year.  Every year, my family and my in-laws spend a week at Myrtle Beach, SC.  We go right after my son and I get out of school.  I love the fact that the beach is still relatively uncrowded because it is so early in the season.

We lather on sunscreen every morning, cart all of our chairs, umbrella, and beach toys down to the beach, and spend all day outside.  My son plays in the sand and water while I spend most of my time reading.  

 It is so relaxing after a long school year to read in the sunshine and listen to the waves.  This year we took my son to Broadway on the Beach to ride Go-Karts.  It was his first time even being in a go-kart, but they let him drive one anyway.  I was a little lot nervous at first because he could barely see over the steering wheel.  I felt better when I realized how slow he was driving. {I think he was having a hard time reaching the pedals too.}  He had a blast!

 Doesn't he look so small?
Going to Myrtle Beach is one of the things that I look forward to every year, especially during the long, cold New England winter!

Monday, June 15, 2015

My Teaching Quirk(s)

I really had to think about the topic for this week's link up with Monica at I Heart Grade 3.  I don't think of myself as being very quirky although others might not agree with that.  But I did come up with two things that other teachers in my school think are unusual.  {That means they are quirky, right?}

I'm Obsessed with Organizing.
I absolutely LOVE to organize.  I like everything to have a specific home so that it is easy to find and use again.  Most teachers have packed filing cabinets and messy drawers and cupboards.  I clean mine out and reorganize them almost every summer.  The only thing that is not organized enough in my classroom right now is my library. {I'm planning on fixing that this summer!}

 I'm Upfront with My Students.
Every teacher has days where they aren't feeling their best. {We all know it's more work to call in sick.}  Some days when I come in with a bad headache or even feeling a little crabby, I like to just tell my students right at the beginning of the day.  I tell them that I am not feeling well, and that I need them to be on their best behavior because I am not going to be that patient.  After all, why not just tell them?  Isn't that easier for them if they just know why you aren't yourself?

 Anyway, I don't think of myself as being very quirky, but I can't wait to read what everyone else has to share too.  Stop by I Heart Grade 3 to read about the quirks of other great teachers.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Spotlight Saturday

I was planning on blogging some this summer about many of the awesome products that I used during my school year.  And...I found the perfect way to do that.  I recently came across an awesome linky hosted by Kindergarten Dragons called Spotlight Saturday.

I wanted to start with my absolute favorite classroom addition this year! {Warning: It's actually a lot of products that work together.}

I started using Interactive Reading Notebooks this year for the first time.  I was extremely nervous about it, but I was probably 98% sure that it was going to be perfect for my classes.  And I wasn't wrong.  

So once I had made up my mind, I starting searching for the exact products I would need.  I knew what I wanted/needed to cover during the year so I was looking for a product that would cover all those skills.  {I hadn't started creating on TpT yet, so there was no way I was going to make my own IRN pieces.}
It wasn't hard to decide what I wanted to buy - anything and everything from Erin at I'm Lovin Lit.

At first, I limited myself to just buying her actually reading notebook packages.

I started doing short {10-15 min.} reading lessons and letting my students do much more independent, self-selected reading during class.  

 Of course, despite how easy Erin's products made my first year of IRNs, there were things that I had to figure out.  For example, I had no idea how long some of my students were going to take with the cutting and coloring part.  I finally started sending some of the more complicated pieces home for homework the night before I was going to teach the skill.  It took less time the next day, and the students loved having easy and fun homework to do.

Of course, I also took advantage of the many free IRN lessons that Erin also offers in her TpT store.  

 I think my favorite unit this year was the figurative language lessons.  We started by defining and giving example of the types of figurative language in a foldable.

{And yes, this student glued the foldable in wrong so it almost didn't fit into his notebook!}

 I didn't want to stop with just definitions though.  So I decided to download the free sample week of Erin's Figurative Language Stories for Close Reading.  You can see the free story in the picture above.  Each story has examples of figurative language to find and identify, questions to answer about the figurative language, and a writing exercise where the student replaces the language in the story with their own figurative language.

I liked the sample passage so much that I immediately went back and bought the rest of the Figurative Language Stories.{Which is exactly why we put free sample products on TpT, right?}

That's not even all the products that I have bought from I'm Lovin Lit either.  I love everything I have gotten from her.  I have all the pages printed out and organized in my file cabinet, and I can't wait to use them again this year. 

 Make sure you head over to Kindergarten Dragons to read about some more amazing products that teachers loved this year!

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Exciting News and a Freebie!

I am so excited to announce that I am part of a new collaborative blog - Fabulous Freebies for Teachers!  As you can probably guess from the name, our blog is all about highlighting some fabulous free products from some wonderful TpT authors.  We will also be hosting giveaways each month and flash freebies on our Facebook page.

Today I am showcasing one of the free products in my TpT store.  It's a task card set that I love to use as a simple review after we finish our first grammar unit on sentences.

You can read more about this set and how I use it over at Fabulous Freebies for Teachers.  And of course, you can pick up your very own copy to use in your classroom!

Monday, June 1, 2015

Why I Started Blogging

I started blogging last September so I am still relatively new to the blogging world.  I started blogging as a way to share what was happening in my classroom and our elementary with our parents.  {That's the reason behind my name choice too.  I wanted to share with everyone the fun and the learning that was happening in BBA, the name of our school.} 

Classroom pictures

However, I quickly realized that I loved the creative outlet that it provided, and the blog slowly morphed into more than just showing off student's work.  Now I still share student work, but I also like to write about teaching too.

 Once I started blogging, creating products on TpT quickly followed.  I had been buying products on there for a while, and I had a flash of inspiration where I thought, "I could make products like these for myself." And if I'm making them for my own classroom, I might as well post them online as well.

I honestly wasn't expecting anyone to buy what I created.  Which means that I am still excited and surprised every time I get an email saying that I sold a product!

This is a forever freebie in my store for you to try out in your classroom!

I still struggle with the idea that any other teacher's would want to read what I have to say about teaching.  But I enjoy blogging and creating for myself no matter what.  Plus, I have met some amazing teachers who are passionate about their teaching.  Whether it is through seeing their pictures on Instagram or reading their blog posts, I am inspired by the teachers that I have met in this fun journey.
I would love to get to know you better too.  Feel free to follow me on Instagram, Facebook, or TpT by clicking on the links on the top right!

And if you are interested in reading about why some of the other amazing teachers in our blogging community started blogging, then stop by I Heart Grade 3.  Monica is hosting an awesome summer linky every week, and this is the second week's topic.