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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Learning Styles: Fact or Fiction?

The NPR recently published an article entitled "Think your an Auditory or Visual Learner? Scientists Say it is Unlikely" The article states that there is no scientific proof for learning styles yet so much has been written and focuses on teaching to a child's learning style.

I am not sure whether or not I agree. On one hand, most people have a combination of learning styles or prefer a specific method of teaching for a specific subject. I have also seen differences in learning styles based upon the age of the student. On the other hand, I know that there are certain techniques that I use and things that I favor over others as I know I will learn the most from using one style or another.


Leap Year Sale

Happy Leap Year everyone!

I have spent the last few days avoiding my homework and focusing on creating products for the sale! Since I just opened my store, there was basically nothing in there. Now it is full of wonderful suprises for you to explore.

All items are on sale including pre-made binder packages, custom binder packages, calendar sets, bulletin board letters, zebra quest kit, seasonal items, and more! For those of you looking for Brain Book information - I had to take it down for now as there is a copyright issue with the title.

I just added my first writing project! This is one that I created with my sons for use in my class. I absolutely LOVE this mystery project as the kids create their own clues and villains. I creativity flowing during this project is astounding. I have had stories of fairy's and vampires, of parents finding the money so kids can go on vacation, and perhaps my favorite one... it wasn't gold that was stolen but leprechaun poo (it evidently looks just like gold)! Yep, you read that right... according to my student the leprechauns don't actually keep the gold in a pot at the end of the rainbow but in a vault under ground protected by goblins (hmmm... does this kid love Harry Potter??). 

Soooo... run to my store before the sale ends!
Did ya notice?...  I am only one more follower away from a give-away!

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Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Oh My, Bloggy Suessness!

Hello blogmates! I hope you all had a fun and relaxing weekend as this week is my most favoritest (hehe) week of all! This week we focus on reading! YIPPEE! Plus Dr. Suess Day is on Friday. I heard rumors that Target stores will have a Lorax on the lose in some areas on Saturday from 9-11. Is the Lorax going to be at your store?

I spent the weekend making changes to my blog in preparation for.... drum roll please... a blog makeover! I am so excited. I have no clue what it will look like but am still so excited! There is a waiting list... so it will probably be a month before the big reveal.

In the mean time... I created a few new items for all of you!

Each set of calendar numbers is for sale at my TpT store for $1.50. When I taguht K, one of my favorite things was my classroom calendar. The options are limitless if you have the creativity and you can teach so much in such a short period of time.

With the exception of the Lorax, you can either cut out the squares for your calendar or the shapes for a unique look. Personally, I always adored the shapes versus the squares. The squares always looked so commercial to me.

I love mixing and matching calendar numbers to create patterns. There are actually several different activities that I did with my students using the calendar but first.. how I use a calendar for teaching and reinforcing patterns. Here are a few ideas of what I would do:

AB Pattern
ABB Pattern
ABC Pattern

For the same price, I created matching Seuss Letters. These would be great for use on bulletin boards! I also created another set of picture prompts for all of you to enjoy. As always, my picture prompt packages are free as the pictures are not my own.

For all of you who love binders but hate creating the covers for them, I created a binder cover for all of your Seussness! It is half price off my custom packages.

I learned several things this weekend regarding how to create and sell items on TpT. I want to thank all of you for your patience as I update the items previously placed on the site. Current versions have been marked as free until updates can be made.

I have had several teachers email and ask if I can create custom binder covers and/or planners. I can. I added a page above this weekend with a few samples of what I have created in the past. Custom packages will be available through TpT. I am hoping to have all the packages completed by this weekend.

I am so blessed by your comments and all my followers! I can't believe that I am almost to 50!

When I reach that magical number...
I will be hosting my first giveaway!

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Monday, February 27, 2012

The Book Whisperer

The Book Whisperer
by Donalyn Miller

  Genre: Professional Literature
Topic: Reading

I love to read! As do my sons and to a lesser extent my husband. Grounding my children from video games sometimes elicits the response I would like; threatening to ground them from reading is the end of the world.

Likewise, the best reward they can receive is a trip to the local book store where they have free reign to choose any book they want (or several) as long as it is in the $20 and under per child limit. I have never walked out of a book store spending less than $100.

As I read The Book Whisperer, I shared snippets with my sons. My personal favorite reaction was their shocked and dismayed faces when I shared with them the fact that in 2000 the National Reading Panel did not recommend independent reading. My children thought it was the worst news they ever heard! Mrs. Miller would certainly be thrilled with their reaction.

Since I decided to change careers, I have been trying to figure out how to share my love and enthusiasm about books with my students. With the current focus on objectives and standards, I felt at a loss. It seemed as if my dream would never be able to become a reality.

I came up with alternative ways to share my enthusiasm. I decided to create lists of books to relate to the topics we were covering in class. This would allow the students to go deeper if they so choose. However, this was not satisfying as I know many would never choose to do so.

Mrs. Miller has given me a gift! She has created a road-map that can easily be replicated in any classroom. She has provided me with the tools to take my love and enthusiasm and share it with my students. That is why she is also this weeks:

No more nightly reading requirements, no more reading calendars for parents to sign, no more busy work. It is the embarking of an adventure to faraway lands together. Oh I am so excited I can't wait! 

I continued to share pieces of this book with my sons to discuss. We talked about how they love to read but hate English or Language Arts or Reading and Writing or however your school designates the subject.

We talked about the goal of 40 books a year to which my sons asked if they could buy 40 new books a year to read (They only read about 25 chapter books last year a piece. They don't count picture books any more).

We talked about moving their personal library to share with my class. They reminded me that they still get to read all new books FIRST and have the right to shop my classroom and bring home anything their hearts desire. It's a deal.

I have always loved reading with my boys. I love discussing the books with them, finding out their opinions. Some we read aloud, some they read to me, some we read alone. We pass them around laughing over horrible recommendations or the things one another enjoys that we don't. It builds a connection and a memory that will never fade.

There are books that we finish and my children say "some day you will have to read that one to my kid." Oh I will. I will be the Nana with a house field with old fashioned paper books sitting in a rocking chair with grandchildren gathered round reading a classic or perhaps the latest trend but you can guarantee we will be reading something.

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Sunday, February 26, 2012

Nurses Office

Previously I shared with all of you the hall passes I created. I created one for the nurse but sometimes one needs to provide a little more information when sending a child over.

I plan on using the pass I made for routine visits (medications).

I was searching for ideas for Vistaprint when I stumbled across a great idea! A teacher had made a postcard Nurse Pass (and yes I lost the link! I am trying to get better at saving them for all of you. If this is yours please let me know so I can give you credit.).

It is adorable and has lots of room for me to write "student says his tummy is hurting" or whatever the case may be. The original had the teacher's name and classroom number on the front. Since I do not have this information, I left that part off.

This is a great idea for Guest Teachers to keep in their bag of tricks. No more searching for a pass when you really need one.

What do you use for nurse passes? Do you have special procedures in place for sending a student to the nurse? Do you treat them first?

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Saturday, February 25, 2012

Brainy Matters 2

I am still waiting on the logo for this item but the rest of it is done! YES!! I uploaded it to TpT but that is where the trouble began. I tried to go in and edit the old version and replace it with a new version as it has been downloaded 17 times! I am shocked that so many people have visited little ole me and my stolen idea from Mr. B.

Any who... according to TpT I am suppose to be able to change this. Well.. I can't. It keeps asking me to select a category only it won't let me select a category and it won't let me buy pass selecting one. Grrr! I tried in Google Chrome, I tried in Firefox. I tried in Internet Explorer and then I got out my iPad. No, it does not work on an iPad or an iPhone or an Android. I think we may have too many electronic gadgets around here but that is a post for another day.

So what I ended up doing was creating a whole new product... Brainy Matters. Sigh... I guess I will just delete the old one. The new document is now 8 pages long! What will you find.....

2 pages of how I tweaked this to fit me and a few stolen borrowed words from Mr. B explaining what a brain book is.
2 pages of the parent letter which you all saw in the original document.
1 page of title page. The outside one I am still waiting on the logo for.
1 page of template example
1 page of achievement map and grade scale
1 page of monthly goals.

Yep - I am a big picture kinda girl so that means I added a monthly calendar and goals to my brain book. It is kind of my own unique twist on a planner and brain book combo. I like having the calendar there to remind parents and students of tests and holidays but I do not want it to be the main focus. That is the heart of the brain book - the students reflections and educational journey throughout the year.

Just imagine what you will have at the end of the year! The student will have documented every education moment. He/she will have written in his/her own words the knowledge and skills they have gained. They will have set goals and accomplished them! They will learn to take responsibility for their own education. They will be independent learners and will be ready for the middle and high school classes in their futures!

And if the curriculum cops ever wonder what happens in your class, what students are or are not learning, and why the are or are not achieving the goals they wish... you have proof in the students own words. I love the fact that this takes one piece of documentation off of my desk and onto theirs!

I aligned it with the Common Core Standards for Grades 3-5. =) The Brain Book is truly a marvelous invention. It does so much work in one nice neat little package. So long planners! It was nice knowing you but you do not offer enough benefits to keep you hanging around. Hello my beautiful brainy books. Have I told you that I love you yet today?

I hope you all enjoy. I hope it makes sense and the formatting came out right (finally!).

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Friday, February 24, 2012

Pinterest Permission Linky

Corkboard Connections just posted a blog that everyone who uses Pinterest must read!!! I am in oh so much trouble now as we all seem to be breaking copyright laws. Did you know that? Nope... neither did I!! Go... read...... I cannot explain it better than Laura did.

Permission Granted

Yes, you have my permission to pin anything from my blog, my classroom website, and my TpT store. I have posted the logo with my permission in my side bar and have linked up to the party with all the information on it. If you have a blog and would like to be part of pinning-mania, then we will need your permission. So hurry... link up now!

TpT Store

I spent the day working on some things I wanted to have ready for all of you. I wanted to complete the brain book today as so many of you have downloaded the information and I know you are eagerly awaiting the rest of it. It is coming - I am hoping to have it to all of you by Sunday at the latest! My son is still working on the clip art for it.

However, I decided while I was waiting to upload some more picture prompts for all of you and my lesson plans. I will write a post on lesson plans another day with a pretty picture of my binders that house my collection.

Linky Parties

There are always so many fun ones to join! I couldn't resit tagging along. First Kindergarten Lifestyle is having a "Kids Say the Darnest Things" Party. I couldn't resist....

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Thursday, February 23, 2012


I spent the day working on a project.... I couldn't wait for tomorrow so I am breaking the "one blog per day rule."

I created a TpT store!

First thing I created was some picture prompts - these I designed to be double-sided laminated prompts to take with me when I am a guest teacher. My boys have been playing with them and loving them! They are enjoying them so much that I am planning on making a second set and a holiday set.

I still need to finish up the Brain Book (UPDATE: The name has been changed to Brainy Matters due to copy right law!). 

I also loaded two of my favorite sets of letter clip art that I have created and use on my classroom website. These were so fun to make and it is perfect timing to share some Seuss inspired items!

I hope you all enjoy!

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Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Brainy Matters

I was out blog stalking the other day and came across a brilliant idea at Mr. B's Beach Brains. If you are not following his blog, you are truly missing out.

I have mentioned before that I have two special needs children but have never shared much more than that. One was recently diagnosed with damage to his working memory. While this was a relief to know the issue behind the problem it also presented some new struggles as I was informed that there is no cure and no treatment. From researching on my own, I have found that this is incorrect. There are things that can be done to improve his capabilities.

What is the working memory?
The working memory is the part of your brain that takes in information around you and processes it. In fact, you are using it this very second. How I explained it to my son is that the box in which he gathers information into his too small causing his brain to turn off and stop taking in new information. From the working memory, information is sent to the short term memory then the long term memory.

For him, his brain usually shuts off after five minutes. This is nightmarish to me as who ever heard of a five minute lesson! Once his brain is full, he has to process the information to his normal sized short term then long term memories. If he does not process it, he loses it. If he gets too much, he loses it.

What does this have to do with Mr. B?
Ah yes... back to the brilliant Mr. B who stole borrowed this idea from another teacher. I stumbled upon his Brain Book right after trying to digest information on what my son would need to succeed. This book correlates with so much of the research I have read on handling children with traumatic brain injuries!

I, of course, had questions and wanted more information. Checkout Mr. B's answers! The answers helped but I knew if I did decide to utilize the Brain Book, I would make it my own.

I also called in my guinea pigs for their take of this idea.The first question was if they could have a notebook shaped like a brain. Ummm... no, sorry guys! This mama/teacher is not cutting out countless brain-shaped pages for your use. Despite the lack of a brain-shaped notebook, they like the idea.

This is the first in a series of posts about the Brain Book as I am tweaking it to fit me. I am using a black notebook for my brain book. (For organization purposes, all students use the same color notebooks so I can see at a glance they are using the right book.).

Page 2 & 3 - Brain Book Expectations - Using Mr. B's document as a template, I created my own letter to parents.

The students will actually begin writing on page 7 or 8. It depends on how the other things fit into the book. What other things you ask and what happened to page 1? Ah... yes, that is a post for another day.

UPDATE: I have created an entire kit for use in your classroom! The name "The Brain Book" is protected by copy right so my book is called "Brainy Matters." The boys laughed and thought it was cute. Get your copy today at TpT!

Now I am off to do my homework!

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Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Classroom Pet Grant

Teachers always need help in creating an intriguing atmosphere for their students to learn in. There are several discoveries I have come across lately to help set-up and then maintain an amazingly fun classroom. My latest discovery is:

Petsmart Classroom Pet grants!! How awesome would it be to have a pet in the class? I had a goldfish when I taught Kindergarten (years ago!) in a Mickey Mouse Aquarium. My students loved it!

I am thinking of getting a turtle... I really like this teeny tiny little guy. I can name him Ninja. He will protect me and my students from boredom! Never fear Tiny Ninja is near! (My son's are rolling their eyes at me again!)

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Monday, February 20, 2012

The Desk Fairy

The Desk Fairy
by Connie Schnoes, Ph.D.

A few days ago, I introduced you all (or perhaps reintroduced you to an old idea) of the Desk Fairy. I still love her. I wonder if I can get a house fairy that will get my boys do their chores but I digress.

When I was at the bookstore the other day, I ran across this little gem of a book in the new arrivals. Personally, I think I paid too much for as short as the book is ($12). The book tells the story of how when students are fast a sleep at night, she comes to the school to find her favorite thing: clean desks!

Then it goes on to explain the difference between clean and messy desks. It tells you how to clean your desk and surrounding area and reminds the student to always be ready as the Desk Fairy always arrives by surprise! 

It is a short, easy to read picture book that would be great for a mini-lesson during the first two weeks of school and to introduce the desk fairy to the students. 

There is also a Desk Fairy Website which tells you how to use this method with your students. The suggestion is to leave a prize 2-3 times a week for the first few weeks and then once every two weeks after that. It seems excessive. I was thinking more like once a month.

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Sunday, February 19, 2012

Zebra Quest Club Members

Yesterday I introduced Zebra Quests. I want all items to match my classroom (as always) and just love the fact that the quote was so perfect that it used an animal to match my classroom theme. No I am not obsessed... okay yes I am! I decided that all the Zebra Quest items would either be in Zebra Print or have our Zebra Quest Mascot on it.

Speaking of our mascot... he needs a name! Anyone have any ideas? First person with a name I love wins a secret prize! What is the prize? I don't know yet! That is why its a secret!

Off to Vistaprint I went to create away and then I will wait for my newest project to arrive in the mail. First up... how to track which quests the student has completed and/or how many. I am not sure how this will work yet as I was originally going to punch the card by quest number but now there are more than 100 quests. Perhaps, I will require my students to complete the original 100 and then start on the 100 more afterwards. I actually like that. Then I can use the same card just write MORE on it somewhere.

I need to add a spot on future reprints of this for the students name but other than that I am happy with the way this one turned out. I also created our membership card, students will receive this after completing 25 quests I think it was. They are a lifetime member and their name will be forever listed on my classroom website. They will serve as motivators and role models for future students.

~ Decorative hole punchers (I wonder if I can find a Zebra shaped one.....)

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Saturday, February 18, 2012

Thirty-One Gifts & Bling!

Earlier this month, What the Teacher Wants! held a Very Thirty-One Give Away. Oh how I hoped I would win as did lots of other teachers! Now Clutter-Free Classroom is having a Linky Party - What is in your teacher's Bag?

What perfect timing! As I just discovered the importance of having a "teacher's bag." Problem: I do not own any bags. Nope.... not a single one. I have one purse and a laptop back. They are both black. They were expensive (coach) and a gift from hubby. I do not believe in matching my purse to my outfit - it would take too long to switch things from one bag to another plus I am not sure I really want to know what my hubby or sons stuck in my pursue for safe keeping then forgot about. It is truly better for me NOT to know!

So... after reading this post and gleaming I am going to need a bag, I went on a search for the top-rated, holds up the best teachers bag recommendations in blog land. I strongly believe in buying it once and not replacing it for at least 10 years (my purse is 3 years old and my laptop bag is 6! You can never tell by looking at them.). The same rules apply to the teacher's bag. I was surprised when the cuteness of thirty-one became the quality of thirty-one as well. So many teachers recommend it!

So off I went with my list of bags wanted... er... needed to hubby. He is the budgeting guru around here. I make a list and added it to his "bill pile" (giggles!) and then wait for the money to magically arrive in my bank account (it is actually ours... I have access to both just one is our spending (me) and one is our bills/savings (hubby) accounts). There is also a want stack but I like the bill pile better... It gets things faster. (shhh! don't tell hubby!). This month when hubby was budgeting everything out, he comes in with my list and asks "are you sure this is all the money you want to spend on this? It doesn't seem like very much." Did I mention how much I love and adore my husband?

So guess what I got ??
This Organizing Utility Tote:

To play along with the linky party - my bag is now holding my textbooks, my current professional reading book, my current children's literature book, all the stuff that used to be in the smurf box (mama's blue box of pens, markers, and such that is off limits to boys!), a binder of practicum info, and my professional notebook for my practicum. Notice how my binder and notebook match my bag. I love that!

I love the colors and the size is perfect. What do I wish was different - pockets on the inside, a way to zip it close and to latch the pockets so things don't fall out. I have a feeling I am going to be searching for something that was in a pocket but is now lost somewhere in the truck under a seat somewhere. Even if there was just one pocket that zipped closed to hold little stuff  would make this already great bag perfect!

During the month of February if you spend $31 your get a 31% off on a second item so I ordered this Thermal Tote for my lunch:

I am actually quite surprised by how big this lunch tote is. It has room for Tupperware containers and all kinds of goodies. Clutter-free Classroom also has a link for 15% off. What a deal!

In other news... I went shopping last night to pick up a few items I needed to complete a few projects for class and I found the most amazing bulletin board letters ever! As hubby would say there was this light shining down from heaven and angels started singing and this man held a gun to me and say I just had to buy it and... and... and... oh wait! That is the video game story!! Anywho... hubby did not understand my squeal of girly joy upon finding this:

Ubber-cute bulletin board letters! I am going to use these for my focus board. I am so excited! I just need some red fabric and I got the cutest boarder to go with it. Not sure what I am going to do for the labels yet but it is starting to come together! YIPPEE! One board down... how many more to go?

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