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Sunday, September 30, 2012

Easy Sight Word Data

On Friday night as I was finishing up the October fun pack, Melonheadz sent me a brand new set of graphics and said "do something with it." LOL! I was totally taken by surprise and had no clue where to start.

So... I pulled my testing crew (aka my sons) and said "Well... what do you think?" And so a new line was created as those boys did not come up with anything simple. I sent off a request for some exclusive graphics as I am gonna need them.

As I was trying to turn their ramblings into a product... I realized the first thing that I wanted to make! My mentor teacher said "sometimes you just want a whole years worth of lesson plans and be done with it." I took that idea to heart.

One of the things I did during Daily 5 was to meet with students 1-2 times a week to go over site word lists. These are kept in the students STAR binders and are to be practiced at home. We would use different color markers to write the date on the left and then underline the words the students know. You could also highlight the words but sometimes it is hard to see after awhile.

The problem we ran into is the set my mentor teacher used only had a set of 6 lists. When we were searching for a bigger package we found most only had 10 or less. My new package has 40 lists... enough for 1 a week for every week of the year. PLUS my monthly packages have 2 more sight words lists. Oh yea... never gonna run out again!

The other problem we had was keeping track of which list students were on. Either the numbers were huge or non-existent. This is an extreme closeup of the bottom right of my word lists... in 9 point font is the number.

So here it is! The finished product. This is part of a new series I am working on called Wordville Wizards. Totally love this idea and my boys are having so much fun coming up with ideas. I can't wait to share it with you.

This is called Sight Word Magic.  40 sight word lists - 25 per list - the top 1000 most frequently used words in the English language.

I included my method of data tracking for not only these but my monthly sight word lists as well. Simply add your student's name and the date it was completed. Super easy assessment tracking.... love it!!

I also included 2 pages if you prefer to make a workbook and bind it. As my mentor says do it once and get it done. I also included directions in how I organize my student data and lists using a crate and file folders. The best part, this is so simple that a volunteer can easily do it for you.

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Saturday, September 29, 2012

My favorite app: Notability!

I have been hinting that I would share this for awhile but taking pictures of my iPad seemed silly. So I haven't... then I got the bright idea to make the teenager do it!! He said he felt stupid taking pictures of my iPad. See... I am not the only one!

My most used and favorite app is...

So you are probably thinking another note taking app, right? I was until I saw another teacher use it and it was love at first site.

So here is my iPad... ignore the dirty screen.  If you look... there are files on the left where each one has a different color attached to it and then each file you can add multiple notes to it. This file is my last practicum so all of the notes are dated but you can name them however you like

Here is what one of my note pages look like. It is multiple pages... see the line in the middle, that tells ya my page above ended and so if I print this that is where my page will divide. Neat, right?

Okay... I can take pictures, scan documents, type, draw, insert graphs, high light, change the background of my pages... including a page with lined notebook paper, copy and paste, edit pictures, blow up anything to a bigger size, email it to anyone as a pdf, or send it off to dropbox. If that is not enough... it has the capabilities to record audio and video. You can use a stylus too but I have yet to find one I like.

This guy is amazing. I take it to all of my meetings. I use it for my practicum and student teaching. I have section for my students where we work together. That is what the lined paper is great for! We write down goals and then we work on them and save them.

Oh and once when we were having a really bad behavior problem,  we hit record on the video and wala... instant email to parents and the principal. GENIUS!

I purchased this on sale for $0.99. I think it is normally $2.99. Whatever it is... you need this one! You will never want another note app again.

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Friday, September 28, 2012

Here comes October!

I am so excited... October is almost here. A few more weeks of 100 degree temperatures and we will finally hit the 90s. By Halloween... we should be in the 80s and if we have any kinda luck by Thanksgiving we will be in the 70s. That's fall in Arizona peeps!

I remember a story several years back from my youngest son. He came home crying from Kindergarten because he thought his teacher lied to him. When I asked what she lied about he said she kept telling him about all these seasons where leaves change and snow falls but that only happens in the movies. After I stopped laughing, I had to explain where we live is different then planned a trip to a nicer climate to prove his teacher didn't lie afterall.

From that moment on, the child never really like his kindergarten teacher or trusted her despite getting proof that she told the truth. It is one of my favorite memories of fall....

Since I am always HOPING for fall to arrive, I always end up in full decorating mode. You should see the amount of decorations stored in my garage or maybe you shouldn't..... This has carried over to the classroom. I have files and files and files of Holiday STUFF!

But I admit, I forget the digital files exist. I need something all in one. Click... print... go! That theory is what prompted my new line of products. Each month, I will be introducing a new packet with lots and lots of resources.

So this guy here has everything that I need in it for the month of  October. I will probably add to it later but for now it is 39 pages and has everything I need as a teacher to prepare for the month ahead!

Calendar numbers (in both formats!) and letters for my classroom boggle board. Boggle is one of my early finishers options for the month. I have a wide variety of things they can do if they finish early but they are all grade-level common-core aligned activities.

Interactive notebook pages. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE my interactive student notebooks... known as Brainy Matters in my classroom. It keeps both me and my students organized, it doubles as a portfolio and review tool. You will notice that a lot of my products are now including these pages as it is what I need and use.

There are also writing prompts that cover retelling, inferencing, and creative writing, 2 sight word lists with words that pertain to the month of October, and 2 word hunts.

Math review worksheets. Again, these are core-aligned and skills that all students need to know. My fourth grader was using this one tonight as he needs a refresher on basic math facts. I use these for my students who finish early during math. This way I know they are still getting those instruction math minutes!

There are also 2 roll and cover math game boards. I use this in multiple ways... matching numbers, creating a problem equal to that number (have students record in math journals), and use that number in a problem and have you buddy solve it (mental math). 

Now while all of the above stuff is awesome... Teachers need things too! So I created a 2 newsletter (1 Halloween & 1 Columbus), labels for this months centers, 2 letters home, and 4 pages of books to read (picture books and chapter books!) for the month.

There are also 3 October calendars which I use in my classroom. I have a plain calendar for behavior and a math calendar that we use with our circle time. None of the calendars are dated as I have my students do this to help reinforce counting skills. On the math one... the right the digital date as part of our calendar time on their math calendar.

The one pictured here is the reading log. Students record minutes on the calendar and books to the right. The rubric is on the bottom. No daily minimums are listed on this calendar so you can use it as you wish. This goes home in our file folders which stay inside out binders. The left side has the instructions and the right the calendar.

We worked on this bundle for 3 days solid and I wanted to get it to you before this weekend so you would have time to use it for the upcoming month. In future packets, I am planning on adding the Family Zebra Quest Challenge and our monthly book project. I just ran out of time and steam this month.

I would love to hear your thoughts on this project. This includes clip art from 5 of Melonheadz Illustrating sets as well as exclusive pieces made just for TWT. Each month's kit will be created in a similar fashion and cover two different topics. This kit covers Halloween and Columbus Day. I will do Fall next month when it kinda feels like it here.

Leave me a comment and I will randomly select a winner!

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Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Khan Academy, Homeschool, & Chaos

I had to make a difficult decision on Monday that has been brewing for weeks. What do I do with my teenage son? In our area there are no school buses... it is all up to the parents to get kids to and from school. His carpool has been flaky since the beginning of the school year. He would have to cross 2 freeways to get to school so biking or walking was out.

There is another school down the street within walking distance. But its less than stellar (read horrifying) reputation has most parents shipping their students an hour and a half away to another school. We missed that bandwagon by agreeing to the carpool.

So I decided that despite doubling up on my grad school classes for the next 16 weeks.... I would homeschool him as well. YEP... I AM CRAZY! He is in 8th grade but tests at 11th grade so yea... I have a challenge ahead of me with him.

The high school here is better and in walking distance so next year, we are good for all kids being in school. The little two are still in school so that is at least a relief there!

I totally forgot about Khan Academy until my homeschool friends reminded me! It is all about science and math and its free! There are some amazing videos on there that I have used often but I did not know about their math practice section which includes calculus and trigonometry! SCORE!

While there are videos that provide information on the subject they are more of a refresher or a starting point to jump off of the topic and delve deeper. So it can't be used alone. The teacher's section allows you to add a whole class of students to it so yep... I am adding this as a resource for my classroom website.

My teen thinks it is fun. The graphics aren't top notch but they are much better than I have seen before and the fact that he adds a new star to his galaxy every time he masters a concept is exciting for him. My littles also practiced basic math concepts yesterday and loved it.

Now I just need 3 more computers so they can use the program and I can do my homework!

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Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Guest Blogging Today: Blogger Tutorial

As part of the Honey Bunch Blog Design team, I get asked A LOT about how to create a blog. A while back I wrote an entire post on how to do just that on the HBBD blog. Today, I am sharing that same post over at....

Cachey Mamas Classroom

If you ever wanted to know how to create your own blog... here is your chance to do so. =)

As we do receive so many questions even after the tutorials we have created, we now offer a blog consulting service. This allows us to focus one-on-one and help you with your individual needs. We have cleaned up messy blogs, written disclosure statements, advised on marketing, and a host of other things. At times we do have a waiting list for assistance due to our time constraints.

If you are stopping in from Cachey Mama's Classroom... WELCOME!!

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Monday, September 24, 2012

Calendar Time

I remember calendar time or circle time from when I was a kid being the time of day when we discussed the date and the weather. It was a quick 1 minute lesson.

I remember when my first son entered Kindergarten and I found calendar time to be more in depth and included colors, numbers, letters, and sounds of the week. A quick 5 minute lesson.

NOW... with all the things that students are expected to know this simple time now takes 20-30 minutes to do. This is the time we use to get in all of those things that students should know but aren't really taught anywhere in the curriculum.

Someday I will share with you our routine but for today... I wanted to share just our calendar.

What makes this calendar so unique? Look under the cute number squares... do you see it? Its the date in digital format!

Each day the student goes over the date saying the day and the year just as always but so often we see dates as a code of numbers and expect one to know what it means.

You can't tell me you are not silently reciting the months and counting to see what month 9 is are you? It is kinda like the alphabet song we all sing it in our head when alphabetizing. This helps students learn the months are equal to numbers and reinforces it every day of the month!


My mentor teacher shrunk down regular calendar numbers in order to leave room to write. I carry several versions of calendar numbers in my store. I LOVE calendar numbers. Yes... I know I am strange.

So what is my obsession with these things?

I love using these as an easy seasonal decoration. I have to take all the numbers off the calendar to change out the month anyways. It is not so difficult to switch from one design to another. I can also use it for patterning as I can use multiple sets to create the pattern of the month. This is a great way to get in another skill students need with minimal work.

I am all about easy!

I decided to offer two versions of my calendar numbers in all of my new sets but still keep the same price!

One is the traditional format and the other has space for you to write in the digital date. Simply print on card stalk and laminate as you would normally do. Then you can use a dry-erase marker to add in the date. They are still reusable year after year.

Added bonus - the size remains the same so these numbers will still fit on a calendar of your choosing. The size is perfect for both pocket chart and poster calendars.

All my new calendar sets are made with Melonheadz Graphics. If you need something specific, feel free to leave your request in the comments. As always, I will be giving away a free set of your choosing to one of my amazing followers!

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Sunday, September 23, 2012

Football Sunday!

Have you all seen this sign? I totally need one for my house!

My oldest son's first word was football. Not mama, not dada, not even baba... football. I should have known what life had in store for me from that moment on.

Many of you know that I homeschooled my children for awhile but I have never shared the story of how it began or the frustrations that came with it. When my oldest was 2 I found him reading a book. Not the pictures.... the actual words. What sounds he hadn't figured out he made up.

I thought it was so amazing! He could read!! Little did I know the heartache this would cause. (To catch you up he has a form of Autism known as Asperger's Syndrome. He is very high functioning. He excels academically across the board but struggles socially).

Because he was so intent on learning, I taught him. It was sooo hard to keep up with his need for knowledge. One day when he was 4 he suddenly stopped learning. I was so happy but also concerned. He only wanted to know about football. I needed resources but couldn't find any. So I made everything myself... a huge massive collection of all things football. He loved it!

I have learned that sometimes to get students to move ahead we have to meet them where they are. My bff went into teaching before I did and has often pulled my football resources to get her reluctant students to write, learn vocabulary, or to do math.

So... Melonheadz and I have decided to create a complete line of football products! I am finishing them up now so they will be appearing in my store in the next few days BUT you can get a set early by leaving a comment below!

These are the original materials that I used all those years ago with new graphics to jazz it up! This packet includes 20 sentence stems/journal pages, 7 compare & contract activities, 2 goal pages, 4 pages of math, 6 pages of vocabulary, 1 geography activity, 3 class books/bulletin board projects, 1 research project, and 1 creative writing project. Over 60 pages of football fun!

My kids still love this packet. This is my baby's worksheet from today's game... he is working on adding more than 2 numbers together. Since adding is too simple for him he then groups each picture together and multiplies those and then adds. So the 2 field goals would be 2x3... it gets harder as the game goes on. =)

This is 17 weeks of greater than/less than score fun! Students record the score and then using > or < determine the winner. My son never understood Allie Alligator but he understood he wanted to be on the winning team and that the arrow always pointed toward the loser as their score was smaller.

And of course I had to do matching calendar numbers and a boggle board! We are working on getting a set out for every NFL team so if you are looking for a set, please let me know as I will put you on the top of the list.

What could be even better for football fans?? I will be selling exclusive Melonheadz Graphics for each of the teams as well. Again... I am a big tease as they are a work in progress but I couldn't wait to share with you!

I also wanted to share with you a post from Kinderzoo. I cannot imagine the grief she is going through at suddenly losing her husband, her best friend. I know that I would be devastated. She would hate it if she knew we were doing this but several of us would like to show our love and support during this difficult time.

If you have a moment - please visit her store and make a purchase. She has some amazing products. My favorites are her emergency Kinder plans. I could have so used them for that first week in school!!

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Saturday, September 22, 2012

It's Fall Ya'll!!

I totally love that title and fall is my favorite time of year. So when Casey from Second Grade Maniac asked if I would join in on a sale and blog hop in celebration of fall.... how could I say no?!

Products at both of my stores will be on sale this weekend and check out all of the other bloggers joining in the fun as well! I have been adding in new products all week long and haven't even announced some of them here yet.

Please remember that my stores do not carry all of the same products... I am trying to get there but it hasn't happened yet!

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Friday, September 21, 2012

The Phonics Dance

The 10 minutes before lunch each day is devoted to "The Phonics Dance." My students L~O~V~E this time of day!

What is the phonics dance? 
It is actually pretty simple. We name letters and match them to sounds while using gestures. Often our gestures are ASL related. Sometimes they are silly. Whatever helps them remember and works!

 It is very whole-brain teacherish!

Here are my little guys practicing the 't-h' sound.

While they are doing the motions the teacher is holding up a tiny flashcard with the letters and sounds. Yep... a flash card. Why... cuz we can't find what we want any bigger!!

As I mentioned yesterday -- matching resources are hard to fine! So I created my own but I realized as I was creating them that not everyone uses them the same way. For example, there are four second-grade teachers.

We all teach the "phonics dance" (yep... even the male teacher!) but we use different resources to do so.  I created these different products with them in mind.

16x20 Alphabet Poster

My mentor teacher prefers one big poster for this activity. This way she can just pick a child to use the pointer to go through the song and dance. She has been searching everywhere for a cute version in color and here it is!!

8x10 Alphabet Posters

One of the team members prefer 8x10 posters as he hangs them up above the board just like you would an alphabet strip and uses a laser pointer for this activity. These are great for him as while they have the kid cute factor it is not so overly cute he will lose his man-card. This is very important as there are not enough man-card friendly elementary products for teachers as he reminds me often!

5x7 Alphabet Posters/Large Flashcards
These are large flashcard size post cards. One of our team members uses this as she likes to be able to shuffle the cards and hold them up. She also has a smaller area where she posts these and the smaller size makes it fit perfectly!

So you maybe asking what the big deal is about this set? 
You can find alphabet things everywhere. 

1.... There Melonheadz! Duh! That automatically makes them special!

2....matching personal dictionary/interesting words book

3 .... that is my secret for another day but when you see it you will have the "Ah Ha" moment and directly after that a "FINALLY!" moment.

Leave me a comment for your chance to win a poster set in the size of your choice!

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Thursday, September 20, 2012

Alphabet Resouces

For the last few months, my courses have been focusing on Reading, Literature, and Writing in the classroom. We tend to think of this topic in these terms but I have learned to think of it as "language acquisition."

As I was working with ESL students, this is constantly what it was referred to as. Then we add in ESS/SPED students who also needed to brush up on these skills. I realized that all of us at one time or another required instruction in language acquisition.

The hardest part of my day was finding resources for my students. I could piece meal things together but there was no consistency. Every time I showed them something... it ended up being slightly different than the last thing I used. For most students, this is okay. For ESL and ESS students, it is overwhelming and creates meltdowns.

Since I couldn't find what I wanted... I created it! A whole line of products using Melonheadz Graphics... some of these graphics are exclusive to this new line of products.

Here is a center I created using the alphabet series of graphics. These graphics are also available for purchase in both of our stores. It is a simply matching game with a twist. There are "Try Again" cards which is basically lose a turn. My kiddos for some reason love that twist to an old classic.

And yep... I am a TEASE! You will have to wait until tomorrow to see what else I have created.

Leave a comment with a suggestion for another product you would like to see featuring our alphabet graphics in the comments for a chance to win your own copy of the Alphabet Matching Game!

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Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Personalized Dictionary vs. Interesting Words

It seems like in every elementary classroom I walk into students have some form of  personal dictionary that they use. I wanted to create a matching product, again to create cohesion in the classroom but then I got to thinking.....

The term "My Personal Dictionary" does not match the vocabulary in my classroom. This bothered me as working with ELL/ESS students consistency is the key to success.

I had already created this item for use in my classroom and it is available in my store:

But I wanted something that fit the language of my room. So I updated it. 

Why did I choose interesting words? I think this better conveys to my students the purpose of this item. This is their book to use. The words inside are ones they should be using in their writing and conversations. These are the words they are learning to spell and read. These words remind them of personal memories.

By using interesting words I am conveying to my students that each of us has our own unique perspective and we are each right! What is interesting to me may be boring to you and that is okay. The word dictionary creates a mental vision of boredom. I want my students awake and excited to use these words!

When I partnered up with Melonheadz Illustrating, I knew that I would want "My Interesting Words" to match our new line of products.

I LOVE how this came out! I decided to give you all lots of options in one package. Color or black and white. My Personal Dictionary or My Interesting Words. The option is yours! This packet has over 50 pages included!

Best of all.... it matches ALL of my "learn to read" materials. At last..... the language and the products are consistent. I can't wait to show you what else I created.

Leave me a comment for your chance to win any of the above products.

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Tuesday, September 18, 2012

TWT & Melonheadz

I am so excited about this new adventure and couldn't wait to share it with all of you!

My dear sweet friend, Nikki of Melonheadz Illustrations and I have been plotting behind the scenes. As many of you know she is an A~MAZ~ING artist! One of her favorite things to do is to draw graphics for teachers but she has been at a loss of what all we need.

Sooooooo.............. we decided to team up together!
Together we will be bringing you graphics made especially for teachers along with unique items for your classroom using all original artwork from Nikki. We have so many ideas and so many things we want to create.

I am hoping to start introducing you to a few of them starting tomorrow. Just putting on some finishing touches today! Stop by my TpT & TN stores will I will be having a sale all week long to celebrate our new partnership.


Saturday, September 15, 2012

Nouns & Verbs in the news

Since the second week of school, we have been working with students on recognizing nouns and verbs, subjects, and predicts. Most of this is done during their morning work but the concept is revisited often throughout the week.

We discuss it during reading. We use it during writing. We try to find it in our oral conversations. Nouns and verbs are everywhere! But do our students really understand this or is it just something we do/know for school?

Remember my reusable anchor charts? Did you notice that the title "noun" is in red and the title "verb" is in blue?

There is a reason for that. Each part of grammar is a different color. The correlate with our highlighters. This allows the students to highlight these words their writing, morning work, phonics readers, etc...  It works so well to keep it consistent.

We took used this week's newspaper to bring grammar to life. Most of my students are not able to actually read the newspaper. It is above their skill level so this was a very exciting and challenging activity. 

Before the students were given a page of the paper, it was carefully edited to remove any offending materials.  This requires that you have knowledge of each individual child and what they might find offensive. For example, we removed news of a successful adoption as one of our students is hoping to be adopted.

The students looked for the "who or the what" of each sentence. They looked at where the words were placed in the sentence for clues.

I wish you could see their happy faces. As you can see we did this as a floor activity so that there was plenty of room to spread out and work. The students worked independently, with buddies, and sometimes as a whole group to check to make sure something was a noun or a verb.

We also discovered a lot of interesting words. As all of my kiddos are learning English this time was great for introducing new vocabulary and oral conversations. We spent a lot of time talking about football and the names for the various types of players as one kiddo had the sports section.

They loved this and asked if we can do it again. We saved their papers so that they can continue to work on it as a "finished early" activity.

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