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Monday, April 29, 2013

My Autistic World

Every April I wonder if I should share my own story, my own journey with Autism or if I should keep the story of my life and the struggles I have faced with my oldest son quiet.

Typically I hide in the shadows. It is where I am most comfortable being. Today, I want to welcome you into my world. I want to share with you not what it is like to teach a child with Autism but rather to parent one.

Think, Wonder & Teach

Kris was born a healthy baby. I was considered a high-risk pregnancy because I had previous lost a child but he was born at 36 weeks and almost 9 lbs. I took him home from the hospital 18 hours after he was born and that was when the trouble began.

I couldn’t get him to stop crying. I rocked him, I feed him, I changed him, I called the doctor, the nurse, the hospital… everyone told me I was just being an over concerned parent. Add in postpartum depression and I was a mess.

Think, Wonder, & Teach - Autism Awareness
Fast forward, I wasn’t crazy. I finally realized that there was an okay zone with my son. I couldn’t cuddle him. He had one of those baby gyms that was cloth on the bottom so you could wash it. I took giant foam squares and built a pattern around it. If you sat at the edge he was content. He liked it… move and the screaming would begin.

He hated baby food, denim, bright lights, loud noises, touching of any sort, his diaper even thinking of being wet… He walked before he crawled. I found an amazing pediatrician who told me I wasn’t crazy.

Having a child with Autism requires a whole new set of parenting skills. Just when you think you have it figured out… he enters a new phase. After the screaming, don’t touch me phase, there was the out-of-control rage phase, the perfectionist phase, the literal phase, the stupid-phase, the self-doubt phase, and I know there is more to come.prepared me for the world of Autism.

My son has Asperger’s… it means that he looks normal, he excels academically but he struggles with so many things. Each year, I spend countless hours explaining to teachers how my child is different. I am blessed to that as we go through phases my child has been able to adapt and overcome.

Many cannot.

For example, my nephew is Autistic. In every since of the word. I searched for hours to find a picture of him only to realize we don’t have any. Probably because we are constantly chasing after him to keep him safe. He cannot communicate. He is locked inside his own world. He and his family is isolated. They can’t go on family vacations or even to the movies as a family.

Michael couldn't handle it. 

He wears a shirt that says “I am autistic. If found, please call….” He is very good at getting away from his caretakers. He will never be able to live on his own.
Think, Wonder, & Teach - Autism Awareness
April is Autism awareness month. Its a month when people donate to the cause to find a cure. Walks are help, a lot of articles are written in newspapers, people talk, and then they forget.

Autism does not define who I am or who my son is. It shouldn't define who anyone is. We are each unique in our own ways. Those who live with Autism will tell you that it has made us stronger, more patient, and perhaps more grateful for the small blessings each day.

As April comes to a close….
I ask you not to forget.


Saturday, April 27, 2013

Melonheadz Strategies & Portfolios Revisited

Happy Saturday, Everyone!
I am loving my new dollar dreams. It is so much fun to plan a special thank you for you each and every week.
Think, Wonder, & Teach - Melonheadz Strategies This week, I am sharing with you the set of reading and comprehension strategies posters I made. These are based off of the beanie baby ones we all know and love. Just like my black/white/red version but with Melonheadz Illustrations!
In other news, I came across 2 new blog posts this week both about creating portfolios. As I am working on mine still, I love seeing how other people are creating theirs!!
First up… HoJos Teaching Adventures! I really like how she created a section for each subject in her porfolio. This makes it easy to flip to and reference. However, it needs more color and pizzazz for me. I do like how she made miniature copies of work sheets instead of the full size ones into her binder as that makes it easier to add more to a page! Plus it takes up less room.
Next… Flamingo Fabulous in Second Grade! She re-did her porfolio based off of HoJos. I love all of the pictures of her with her class. She can show people what she is doing not just talk about it. Since no one really ever reads a portfolio, I thought this was great!
I have spend so much time writing things for my portfolio and I know it will never be read. But its a requirement… at least it is a good reflection, right??
I also loved that she meets with her students at the local public library on break! What a fun idea!! And a great way to promote and instead a love for reading.
Think, Wonder, & Teach - Dollar Dreams
Remember… Every Dollar Dream deals are only good on Saturday and every week I am changing it out for a different product. There is no rhyme or reason to what will be on sale next… its completely random!

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Friday, April 26, 2013

Chalkboard + Photo + Writing Project = BRILLIANT!

I saw these photos all over Pinterest last year and loved them!

BUT.... I wanted something different I just couldn't figure out what until I saw this idea!

I LOVE it! Wouldn't this make a great keepsake for parents. There is so much I could do with a big holdable chalkboard. Just think...

If I were President I would... 

If I was <insert name of character or 
famous person here>, I would... 

If I lived in <insert name of place here>, 
I would... 

If I was a <insert occupation here>, 
I would.... 

Can you imagine how cute this would look with a writing project? Oh! I can't wait to do this! I am going to make (or buy) a chalkboard so we can do this at the beginning of the year and then maybe one other time during the year. OR maybe quarterly for our "portfolio projects."

Have you done this? How would you use this in your classroom? 

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Tuesday, April 23, 2013

StoryTown and a Winner!

I have been hard at work planning for my student teaching. I can't believe it is here!! I have been so distracted with preparations that I have been stalling on my homework. Like right now... I have an assignment due in the next 11 hours and what am I doing??? Writing a blog post and watching a movie.


The good news is that all of this preparation has lead to a lot of great things! I have been writing blog posts for my classroom and have almost all of the reading ones done for the entire year! I just need to add pictures of the books we will be reading.

My school district uses StoryTown and I found a great site to use as a resource. Actually... my cooperating teacher found it and told me about it but I am in love! We use this site everyday! Just click HERE to visit. This site has resources for grades K-5.

While looking to see what else I could find for this curriculum, I found a site that has all the coordinating readers in ebook format. Click HERE to visit. Again this is for grades K-5. My plan is to write a blog post each week with a picture and link to the ebook along with the students who will be reading the book each week. This way, parents can read with their students or students can read to a sibling for additional practice.

Loving this idea!

I have also been making a lot of resources to get myself ready for the upcoming year ahead. I am hoping to share them with you but I need to get my homework done and then I can start uploading fun things into the store(s).

Now.. my winner! Thank you all for entering the Mrs. Wishy-Washy Contest. Erika from The Honey Bunch won! CONGRATS! Poor Erika has entered every contest I have ever had and said she never wins. It has become a joke because she sends me an email which reads "I entered but I know I didn't win." LOL! Guess what??! finally likes her.

Remember, you can still get your own Mrs. Wishy-Washy materials for 20% off through June. Just grab the coupon code off of my review.

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Saturday, April 20, 2013

Introducing Dollar Dreams & Earth Day Resources

The other day I was wondering through Dollar Tree when a brilliant idea struck me. Wouldn't it be great if there was a $1 teacher resource store. Same great quality you can find all over TpT but at a lower price.

Introducing... Dollar Dreams!

Every Saturday I will have a different product on sale for only $1! You can never tell which product will be on sale unless you stop by hear or my store. It will only be available at my personal store not on TpT or TN. Sorry!

I have also plan to add some products that will always be $1. Lorrea is busy getting them all stocked in the store still. I think she has it planned out to have everything in by the end of May.

As Earth Day is a few days away, I thought I would share my Earth Day Picture Prompts for only $1 to get us started. This is a set of 14 different picture prompts aligned to the common core (as all my products are) and includes directions.

I also added an Earth Day Calendar/Boogle Set and Earth Day Ten-Frames to my store. The ten-frame sets will always be in the Dollar Dreams section. =)

I hope you all have a great weekend!

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Friday, April 19, 2013

Exploring Ten Frames

To help me remember things that I have learned and why I created certain products, I decided to write some more informational posts.

What is a Ten Frame?

Ten Frames are graphic tools that let you "see" numbers. Researcher Jon Van de Walle recommends that all students have a strong foundation in understanding 10s and 1s. This is the beginning of place value and being able to do mental math.

Without this foundational understanding, students will struggle with basic operations and math in general. If you skip over this foundation and rush the student onto the next thing, Van de Walle says you have a great chance of confusing your student.

How to use

Ten frames can be used as another way to model the number of wins and losses. Use the Overhead Ten Frame or draw a ten frame on the blackboard. Ask students to tell you how many marks are in a bundle on a tally chart. [5] Ask what each bundle of tallies will look like on the ten frame. [One row.] What will 2 bundles look like on a ten frame? [Two rows.]

An important concept for kinders to master is 5 and 10 as a group that also contains 5 or 10 individual items. Show students that if there is one bundle, they automatically would place 5 circles on their ten frame. The extras would go on the next row. Show how easy it is to see how many more you would need to make a bundle on the tally chart.


Students could practice modeling wins and losses on the Ten Frame Work Mat by drawing circles or using counters. This can be used as a formative assessment.

Common Core Standards for Ten Frames
CCSS.Math.Content.K.CC.A.1 Count to 100 by ones and by tens.
CCSS.Math.Content.K.CC.A.2 Count forward beginning from a given number within the known sequence (instead of having to begin at 1).
CCSS.Math.Content.K.CC.A.3 Write numbers from 0 to 20. Represent a number of objects with a written numeral 0-20 (with 0 representing a count of no objects).
CCSS.Math.Content.K.CC.B.4 Understand the relationship between numbers and quantities; connect counting to cardinality.
First Grade 
CCSS.Math.Content.1.NBT.C.4 Add within 100, including adding a two-digit number and a one-digit number, and adding a two-digit number and a multiple of 10, using concrete models or drawings and strategies based on place value, properties of operations, and/or the relationship between addition and subtraction; relate the strategy to a written method and explain the reasoning used. Understand that in adding two-digit numbers, one adds tens and tens, ones and ones; and sometimes it is necessary to compose a ten. 

That's a lot of standards! 

I have to admit, I had to go and research TEN FRAMES! I usually teach upper elementary. They are past the ten frames stage. However, after all of this.... I have some upper elementary review coming out soon using ten frames. I can't wait to share it with all of you!

I found games, products, videos, smart board presentations, and freebies galore. Just take a look at my pinterest board all about ten frames! I also found this powerpoint on using ten frames as an intervention.

I would love to add your ten frame ideas to my board!! Just leave me a comment with a link to your information on ten frames and I will add it in.


Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Mrs. Wishy-Washy: Review & Giveaway!

I love getting things in the mail! 

I never knew when I started blogging that companies would send me products to review and then keep. This has been such a blessing to me as I have collected some great things and discovered some amazing products! My first classroom won't be as empty thanks to this hidden surprise!

So... what did I get in the mail now? 

Mrs. Wishy-Washy Books!

Oh! I love getting books in the mail. There was a bit of a fight as my sons love them to. Any book is devoured quickly around here and if there is a book in the mail there is always a competition for who can open it first. I lost! =(

Have you read Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle? My homeschool friends will remember my obsession with her. She cracked me up!! Its a little Amelia Bedelia in style but so fun. This is what Mrs. Wishy-Washy reminds me of.

Mrs. Wishy-Washy and the Big Wash is designed for students who are ready to read but still need the support of controlled vocabulary. Most pages have 1-2 sentences.

This particular story focuses on rhyming, onomatopoeia, and compound words. The inside of the back cover provides a list of vocabulary words as well as activities for before, during, and after reading. The information provide allows you to easily align it to the core.

What I love most about this reader is that the story is one children can get into and love. My own children are in 3rd, 4th, and 8th grade. My 3rd grader loves this story. My 4th grader likes it. You know a reader is good if its still loved when children can read way beyond its level.

Wishy- Washy Clothes.... This book would be perfect for my struggling 4th grade ELL readers. They need a book that has controlled vocabulary support but still one that has a story they can loved.

This would have been the perfect reader for my youngest when he was in 1st/2nd grade. He has always been at the top of his class. This has the same focus and vocabulary as the shorter reader but with more details. LOVE IT!

So where can you learn more about these books? They are produced by Hameray Publishing who makes all kinds of fiction and non-fiction (can we say hello common core materials??) books for the early elementary set. You can find them on Pinterest and Facebook

Oh speaking of which... they are having a huge giveaway on Facebook! Stop by to enter. 

You can also win a big book from my site by leaving me a comment with your favorite Joy Cowley book. I will use to select a winner on April 23. Make sure you leave your email in the comment to win. US and Canada addresses only.

Hameray is offering a 20% discount on any purchase for my readers through June 30, 2013 with coupon code ZJCC13..... this means we all win!

Just in case you missed my disclaimer above.... I received complimentary products for review. The opinions are my own and I am not compensated for this post. 

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Monday, April 15, 2013

2 Facts & an Opinion

Have you all heard of the game 2 Truths and a Lie? I saw a bunch of you planning it during a linky party recently and so wish I had time to join up but I have been swamped! Good thing this is my last class before student teaching so I will have time to play with all of you.


I was racking my brain for an idea on fact and opinion when I realized you all had the perfect answer for me! A game, A game! 2 Facts and an Opinion or 2 Opinions and a Fact. Whichever... they both work!

So that is what I did! The next day I grabbed the students reading textbook (we use StoryTown) and started reading random sentences from stories we previously read. Which of the 3 sentences I just read is an Opinion?

I did several samples and then I choose a "teacher" for each table group. The teacher then read the sentences to their group from any story they wanted and asked which one was not a fact or not an opinion depending upon the version that they choose.

We played 5 minute rounds and then I switched teachers. Total of 2 rounds (15 minutes is all we have between specials and lunch). This helped my students A LOT. They aced the fact/opinion unit.

No prep work. Nothing to print or laminate. Just grab any book and go!

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Saturday, April 13, 2013

Stranded on an Island....

I haven't had much time for any linky party fun lately but I have seen these all over the blogworld and decided I just had to pop-in for some fun this weekend. =)

This week the topic is..... Stranded on an Island-What three things would you have to have with 

First, I make sure I pick the RIGHT deserted island. 
I like this one....
I have a house, electricity, furniture... 

Okay now... what to pack.... 

Books, books, and more books.


I could just bring my iPhone/iPad then I would have an endless supply of books, 
music, games, and a way to call for help. 

My family... the boys and the dog too! 

My toiletry bag =) 
Now I have sunscreen, chapstick, a hairbrush, a toothbrush, 
deodrant, something glittery... 

Ahhh... I think I am set now! 
I will make the boys pack the chocolate. 


Thursday, April 11, 2013

From Worksheet to Art Project

Wanna hear one of my new teacher confessions?

I hate worksheets. Despise them actually. I remember completing all of those worksheets as a kid or the mountain of papers my kids bring home and I wonder why. Why in this day and age are we still asking students to complete copious amounts of worksheets?

Sure they are easy to make copies, use them, and grade them but do they have a high engagement value, is there a high value of information conveyed, and if we send them home do they ever come back and/or get looked at?

Here's a picture of one of my littles working on a math worksheet. If you notice the red at the top of the page you will see my notes. This is suppose to be a review activity but a majority of my kiddos don't get it.

(If you read my previous post you saw their grades! YIKES! Yes, this post is backwards as this came before the test but I hope you will forgive me.)

I spent the entire class period running around the room offering 1:1 help on how to complete this. My cooperating teacher is a genius at turning things into art projects/anchor charts. So after we checked to make sure everyone got it right...

We had them cut the chart into pieces. Yep... it became a giant puzzle!

The students had to match all of their answers up again. For an additional challenge and skill... we had them but the decimals in order from greatest to least, glue those ones down first and then recreate it the rest of the chart.

Brilliant! Now this... this type of worksheet project I can handle! We hung them up for a few days in the hall to show off our latest student-made anchor charts.

Oh and before I forget to tell you, BEFORE we cut it out the students had to complete the backside of the worksheet and get it approved prior to starting the project.

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Tuesday, April 9, 2013

What to do when students fail

My current cooperating teacher is amazing! She trusts me completely in the classroom and instead of giving me normal "teacher-in-training" things to do, she challenges me constantly.

For example, a few weeks ago.... I got my first glimpse at the report card nightmare! Who knew so much data was collected, had to be sorted through, compiled, and then lastly turned into a grade?!

I helped with report cards in high school as a teacher assistant. My teacher was not computer-friendly and for the first time grades had to be sent in electronically. I sat in front of a computer screen for hours putting in grades from papers into a program and then hitting "compute grade" and wala... out popped the grades for the quarter.

It is so not that simple anymore!

Anyways, I walked into class one day and was created by this stack of papers.

Uh-oh! Out of 27 students 14 did not pass the unit exam on decimals. They received a D or less. My cooperating teacher said "I taught the lessons, you clean up the mess." Okay so what's a girl to do!

None of my textbooks had anything in them about what to do when half the class fails, its only a few weeks until THE TEST, and these students still need to complete 3 more units before THE TEST! This means there really is no time to reteach to the entire class.

Students were walking in the door and I needed a plan and fast. So I sat down with a blank copy of the test, my handy-dandy iPad, and a pile of tests and got to work!

First I wrote does the name next to the problem of the student who missed it. Then I called groups back by problem number/concept to reteach the topic. For some of my students, it was a reading error that caused them to miss the answer. For others, the just needed more practice.

I use my iPad for small group work. I have an interact whiteboard on it that I can do all kinds of stuff with. So this is what I use to present problems to my students while working with it. It works a lot like a smart board. I take a picture of a problem and then we can write all over it!

Afterwards, I sent me students back to correct the problems and regrade the test! Wa la! Everyone but 2 was able to get it after the intervention. The other 2 we were not expecting success at all but it never hurts to try. Right?

What do you do when a student fails?


Friday, April 5, 2013

Prepping for THE TEST ~ Anchor Chart Raffle

Have you been counting down to testing day?

It is 10 calendar days or 6 school days (including today) until the big test! It is nerve racking for everyone as this is the first year that 35% of the teacher's review is based upon how our little angels do on THE TEST!

In addition to all of the prepping and review we are doing, we are stripping our walls of all of the materials we have covered it in over the course of the year. On the big day (well week) nothing can be there to aid our students.

If you are anything like my cooperating teachers, your walls are covered in anchor charts. Floor to ceiling, every available inch has been utilized. We refer to the things on the walls constantly!

So what does one do with all of those anchor charts? I was wondering the same thing! It seems such a waste to throw away all of our hard work!

Introducing the anchor chart raffle review!

Love LoVe LOVE this idea! Here is how it works... 

Step 1 - Remove Anchor Chart from wall

Step 2 - Every student in the class signs the back of it

Step 3 - Ask review questions about topic of anchor chart
Students raise hands when they know the answer. 

First person to raise their hand and answer correctly.... 
gets to take home the chart. 

Step 4 - Ask 3-4 more questions increasing in difficulty. 

Step 5 - Repeat with a different Anchor Chart. 

My students go batty over this! They love that they autograph the posters and I have received photos of bedrooms covered in anchor posters. My kiddos really do go home and hang up the posters on their walls! They talk to their parents about it and share how they are the expert on this topic. 

Do you see why I love it? 

A few tips... if you are raffling off multiple posters a day, pick a different "winner" each time. There are some students who process slower so if the first hand that went up got it wrong and a slow processor FINALLY raises their hand, call on them next so as they can win too. 

Make sure everyone gets at least one poster. We never raffle off more than 4 a day. This keeps the momentum going. PLUS we do not raffle them off in any order. It is completely random. This means that many of my students go home at night and are practicing on their own so that they can win the next day. 

When you do review, throw in a few questions from the anchor charts previously raffled off. This is a FUN review time for my students. We have even had competitions by table to see who can win the right to autograph the front side. 

Have I told you about how I use experts in the classroom? I need to go and look. One of my personal rules is that my experts on a topic cannot win their own anchor chart poster. This means that they have to become experts in other areas too!

What do you do with Anchor Charts at the end of the year? 

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Wednesday, April 3, 2013

TWT Celebration - WINNERS!

I can't thank you all enough for making this belated 1st year blog anniversary so special! I know that in the coming year I will continue to learn more from all of you and I will continue to make new friends.

1 year = 
300+ Blog posts, 1,000+ Facebook Fans, 750+ Blog Followers, 
150+ Google+ Fans200+ Twitter Followers, 
and over 6,000 followers on Pinterest!

Here's to an amazing 2nd year in blogland!

Think, Wonder ,& Teach

A note about PunchTab... its a free service for giveaways.
It matches my blog colors but I have no clue
what blog the winner is from. =(

I would love to hear your thoughts/experiences with this
during my blogoversary. Good, bad, ???

And now... our winners!

Thank you again to everyone who donated! 
Please stop by and visit all of my sweet friends if you have a moment. 

Day 1 - Technology-Adventures Annual Membership
The winner is... SARA!!

A special thanks again to....
Technology Adventures

Day 2 - K-2 Goodie Bag
The Winner is... ERIKA!!!

A special thanks again to....

First Grade Blue SkiesJust Wild About TeachingThe Moffatt Girls

Thinking Out Loud

Day 4 - Custom Melonheadz
The Winner is... PEGGY!!

A special thanks again to....

Day 4 - Honey Bunch Blog Designs
The Winner is... KENDRA!!

A special thanks again to....

Day 5 - 3-6 Goodie Bag
The Winner is... JEN!!

A special thanks again to....

Third Grade Tidbits  

Day 6 - Gift Card Goodie Bag
The Winner is... BILL!!
Fintastic Fifth

A special thanks again to... 
joyin6th Homepage

Day 7 - Schoolgirl Style
The Winner is... ALLISON!!

A special thanks again to....

Winners, I will be emailing you all shortly with directions on how to claim your prizes. If you do not hear from me within 48 hours, please email me as it probably got lost in cyberspace.

Thank you all for stopping by and making this hectic week extra special! HUGS to all!!