Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Tell All Tuesday: BUCKET LIST!!!!

Head on over to My Day in K or Teach Talk Inspire to link up with this summer weekly linky party! 

My 'teacher bucket list' is very long but I will only focus on my main goals for the near future :) 

1. I have been talking about going back for my Masters for a long time now....I am struggling between going back for my Masters in Special Education: Autism and Development, or going back to get my BCBA.....what have you gone back to school for? 

2. I am still new (under 1 year) to TPT and I would love to grow my store. Not only get more followers but add products to my store. I differentiate every lesson in my classroom for each of my students and I am constantly creating mew products for them...I have to work on getting them TPT ready so that I can post them! 

3. I would love to attend the TPT Conference in Vegas! I am hoping that next year this will be a real possibility. I love going to workshops and conferences and getting to learn some new techniques to strategies that work for other teachers. What have been some workshops or conferences that you have been to that you feel have been beneficial? I am always looking for great ones to attend! 

Don't forget to head on over to My Day in K or Teach Talk Inspire to link up!

Monday, June 22, 2015

TPT Seller Challenge: Dare to Dream!!

Happy Monday!!!! Today is my FIRST day of summer vacation!!! It is also week 2 of the #TPTSellerChallange :) This week the challenge is to blog about our TPT dreams! I am still so new to TPT and blogging but I have some big dreams! So here it goes......

They said go big...so I went BIG! I have some big dreams when it comes to what I want out of my TPT store...I know that it is going to be a long and slow road but like they say 'go big or go home' :) 

1. My first goal for my TPT store is to be able to pay off my student loans! 

2. Along the lines of paying off my student loans I would also love to pay off the new truck that we just bought :) My husband and I just recently bought a new Kia Sorento and adding that debt onto all of my student loans was a tough one. I would love to be debt free!! 

3. VEGAS!!!! I am hoping that by next summer I will have built up my blog and store enough to help me get to Vegas for the TPT conference!! I wanted to go this year but was not able to swing it and being so new I figured I would give it at least a year of blogging and being on TPT before I could justify going :) (I am looking forward to seeing all of the Instagram pics and posts about Vegas!)

4. I would love to renew my vows in Italy...I wanted a destination wedding in Italy but some of our family members are unable to travel and would not have been able to make it so I would love to be able to renew my vows in Italy one year. 

Make sure to visit Sparkling in Second GradeTeach Create MotivatePeppy Zesty Teacherista, and Third in Hollywood  to link up and check out some other TPT seller dreams!!! 

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Makeover Madness!!!!

So if you have not heard (or joined) the TPT Sellers Challenge make sure you go do it now! This challenge is hosted by some amazing bloggers: Sparkling in Second GradeTeach Create MotivatePeppy Zesty Teacherista, and Third in Hollywood :) 

This weeks challenge was to revamp a product that we had in our store! I chose to revamp the cover page for my teacher toolbox. This is my MOST wish listed item and the cover was very boring!! This was one of my first products that I ever posted and it needed a face lift. Below is what it looked like before and then after :) Still not 100% happy with it but I am closer than I was with the original! 

Make sure to check out the other products that were given a little facelift for the #TPTsellerchallenge 

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Tell All Tuesday...REVEAL!

It is time for our big reveal! Keep reading below to find out what our lie was :) 

Becka and I went to the same elementary school, middle school, high school, and college. 
TRUE! Becka and I have been best friends since elementary school! We are so lucky to have gone all the way through college together and now we are partner teachers whose classrooms are NEXT DOOR to each other! How awesome?!?!?

I originally went to college at Fairleigh Dickinson University and after a year and a half transferred to a school closer to home.
LIE! I never went to FDU...I have gone to Montclair State University and finished my degree at Kean University :)  

We get to work everyday with our blogger besties from KNJ ! The lovely ladies from KNJ work upstairs and Becka and I work downstairs in the same school :) 
TRUE!! We get to work everyday with some of our best friends! The lovely ladies from KNJ teach in the same school as Becka and I :) 

No one guessed correctly but we are still going to give one lucky winner the product of their choice!! 

Congratulations Luv My Kinders!!! Please email us at sparklingsped@gmail.com with your product choice from our store :) 

Happy Saturday everyone! 


Thursday, June 11, 2015

Learn Like a Pirate: Common Concerns about Student-Led Classrooms

(I would like to apologize in advance for the long post!!)

I am joining The Primary Gal the next chapter in Learn Like a Pirate! This week we are discussing some of the common concerns with a student-led classroom. I was excited to read this chapter and see if any of the concerns that Paul Solarz mentioned were concerns that I had myself.....SURPRISE....they were! It was great to read it and know that the concerns that I have are valid concerns and I really enjoyed hearing the response to the concerns. In this chapter 13 different concerns are discussed....I am going to touch on the four concerns that I also had :) 
This was a huge concern for me but after reading this chapter I am a bit more at ease with making mistakes. I have always tried to show my students that it is ok to make mistakes and I know that next year I will be making more of an effort to show them how to handle themselves when they make mistakes. I agree with Paul when he says that "failure and mistakes are an important part of the learning process." Students (and teachers!) need to make mistakes and fail every once in a while to learn from those mistakes. 

FALSE!!! This is definitely something that you can do!!! Like Solarz says, "teaching is hard no matter what we do." So why not try something new?!

I don't know about you but I am completely overwhelmed! Even though this will be my 5th year teaching I feel that I am always trying something new and learning new strategies to implement. Paul recommends trying to start out small and allow the students to have permission to interrupt a discussion when they feel that they have something to say. I think that this is an easy way to start and I will definitely be trying this at the beginning of the school year! I think that it is important for the students to feel that their opinions and voices are being heard. 

If your day is anything like mine there isn't a spare minute! I have to jam pack so much material into each day that I was not sure how to begin to implement a student-led classroom. This year I began to integrate science into my guided reading groups and after reading this chapter I am going to continue to try to incorporate other content. Solarz says in this chapter that the student will retain more because the content is not taught in isolation and I believe this statement whole heartedly. 

At the end of the chapter Paul Solarz discusses the benefits of a student-led classroom. Some of the benefits that he discusses are:
  • Increased retention
  • More time for feedback
  • Positive teacher evaluation
This was a great chapter and I am looking forward to learning more about empowering my students and creating the best environment that I can for them :) 

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Teaching with Intention- Chapter 2!

Time for chapter 2 of Teaching with Intention!! I am loving this book! This week I am linking up with The Primary GalFlying into First, and Mrs. Daileys Classroom :) 

I will be answering the guiding questions that Mrs. Dailey posted on her blog :) 

So what is the vision that I have for my classroom? I know for me personally I start off each school year with a vision of how I want everything to run and by the end of the first day I feel like I look back and realize almost nothing worked out as planned! In the beginning of the chapter when Debbie Miller states: 

Real life isn't scripted. Neither is real teaching.

This is a statement that truly struck me. I believe this whole heartedly. You cannot script true teaching. It has to come naturally and develop as the lesson develops. You can go into the day with a general idea of the topics that you would like to cover for the day but you cannot script and plan how each lesson is going to be from start to finish. 

I envision my classroom as a place where my students feel welcome and comfortable. I want my students to feel that they can ask questions and make comments about their learning. 

Some of my classroom beliefs are similar to the ones mentioned by Debbie Miller. I want to have a classroom environment that is inviting and that promotes student learning.  I agree with Debbie Miller that everything that we say and do influences our students.  I believe that all students have the ability to learn and that each student should be taught in a way that makes learning fun and easy for them. I differentiate every minute of my day so that each of my students can succeed in their own way. 

I am excited to hop on over to other blogs and read about other teachers classroom visions and their beliefs :) 

Thanks for reading! 

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Tell All Tuesday

Hello! Happy Tuesday :) I am linking up with the amazing Teach Talk Inspire and My Day in K for Tell All Tuesday! I am going to give you two truths and a lie...comment below with which one you think is the lie (make sure to leave your email also) and I will chose one person to win the product of their choice from my TPT store! YAYYY!!! Winner will be selected by Friday :) I love getting to know and meet new bloggers and this is an awesome way to do this! 

Becka and I went to the same elementary school, middle school, high school, and college. 

I originally went to college at Fairleigh Dickinson University and after a year and a half transferred to a school closer to home. 

We get to work everyday with our blogger besties from KNJ ! The lovely ladies from KNJ work upstairs and Becka and I work downstairs in the same school :) 

Be sure to comment below with which number you think is the lie and be sure to leave your email address :) 

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Learn Like a Pirate- What is a Student-Led Classroom? (and a FREEBIE)

Yay! I finally had a minute to sit down to write this post for the other book study that I am participating in this summer with The Primary Gal! You can purchase the book here Learn Like a Pirate if you would like to join in on the fun! 

I have to say that I am already in LOVE with this book! Only one chapter in and I don't want to put it down! I teach a 3-5th grade self contained class with a wide range of different abilities. The fist quote on the first page is something that myself and my paraprofessional are constantly saying to our students! I think that I am going to have to make it into a poster to hang up in our room!   As soon as I finished typing this post before I could publish it I had to make the posters...you can get them here for FREE!!! If you download them and love them please remember to give some feedback :) 

(preview below)

"Right is right, even if no one is doing it; wrong is wrong even if everyone is doing it" - Augustine of Hippo

This is a powerful statement and this is something that I try to teach my students everyday. They should be making the right choices and right decisions even if the other students in the class or school are not :) 

In this first chapter Paul Solarz talks about how a student-led classroom is one where the students are making decisions and choices throughout the day without consulting with the teacher. I have been trying hard this year to have this happen in my classroom. I use Daily 5 as part of our readers workshop and I allow the students to choose the centers/activities that they do during this time. In a way this is teacher directed because they have to complete a certain number of centers but I try to give them the free choice in deciding which centers they go to and when they are in that center what activities they would like to complete. Decision making is difficult for some of my students and if they are given too many choices or sometimes even just two they become unable to make a decision. So far this year this has been working well and the students have been able to choose their tasks and they are working appropriately in the centers that they choose. 

I would love to hear any suggestions that any of you have on how to help make my classroom next year a little more student-led! I look forward to reading all of the posts :) 

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Teaching with Intention- Chapter 1

I am super excited to participate in my first ever book study!! This book study is focusing on the book Teaching with Intention by: Debbie Miller  and it is hosted by Greg over at The Kindergarten Smorgasboard :) This week I am linking up with some amazing teacher bloggers to discuss chapter 1 of Teaching with Intention!! Make sure to visit their blogs to see what other teachers are saying about this chapter :) 

So here it goes........

My ideal classroom is a classroom where the students are always engaged and always talking with one another. I have tables instead of desks in my classroom and I think that this is the best decision that I have made! Tables gives the students the opportunity to walk around and not feel like they have to stay at their desk. All materials would be organized and available for all students to use whenever they need. I would like people to feel happy and enthusiastic when they enter my room. I love bright colors so each one of my bulletin boards are covered in neon paper and bright borders to help the space feel fun and inviting. The library area has all of my books organizes in bright pink and black bins according to genre and reading level. Since I have a self contained class with students on all different reading levels I have a variety of books ranging from level AA-Z :) Lots of books means lots of bins! 

The students are working either independently or with other students even when the teacher is not teaching a specific mini lesson. I think that a successful classroom is one where the students feel comfortable enough to be talking and working with other students and not feel that they have to work silently or alone. I think that Debbie Miller describes an ideal classroom in my eyes. 

I already have a very wealthy classroom library and space in which students can go sit on the rug with either a pillow or sit upon to read quietly. The fact that I have tables for the students to work at during the day instead of desks I think helps facilitate the student led classroom aspect of my ideal classroom. I have a daily schedule posted on the board so that the students are aware of what is planned for the day and they can see when their pullouts are happening. My students have become so used to their schedules that they can go where they need to go without having to be reminded.  

Even though I think that I am on the way to my ideal classroom I am always learning and trying to improve what I do in my classroom. One aspect that I need to work on is trying to not let things pile up on my desk throughout the day! The mess drives my INSANE!! I am just so busy working with students that i will throw things in a pile and leave them there. I also am going to work on my library. I love the idea of my library and I know that it can be better.....Since I have such a wide variety of levels I have to come up with a better system for students to take books out and make sure that the students are choosing books that they can read independently. 

Thanks for taking the time to read this very long post! Check back next week for thought on chapter 2 :) I can't wait to keep reading!!! 

Winner Wednesday!!


YAY! Welcome to my first link up with A Dab of Glue Will Do for Winner Wednesday!!! The first Wednesday of ever month head on over to http://www.adabofgluewilldo.com/ and enter to win some amazing TPT products from some of the most amazing teachers :) 

This month I am giving away my most popular product... 30 Finish the Picture Writing Prompts! To win a copy of this please enter the Rafflecopter giveaway below :)a Rafflecopter giveaway  

 This is an example of one of the prompts that are included in this pack. The students are given a page with a speech bubble and they have to draw a picture around the bubble. 

It is so much fun to watch their imaginations run wild with these writing prompts! One of my students drew a tiger and an elephant who were having a jumping jack contest (how creative!)

Watching students be creative and writing is amazing! I love how excited my students get when I pass out these finish the picture writing prompts :)