Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Ben Franklin

I don't know about y'all, but I am TIRED.  It's October...grades are due, parent conferences are in full swing, lesson plans and copies and grading are never-ending, performances are looming, PLC's are changing, it's RED RIBBON WEEK, and the kids are fired up about pajama day.  And I am JUST. DOG. TIRED.

Speaking of lesson plans...  I've been thinking about creating a unit on Ben Franklin since last year.  A lot of what I found out there was great for the primary kiddos, but not age-appropriate for my 5th graders.  I knew I wanted my mini-unit to integrate reading and writing, but I also wanted a cute craftivity that was a bit more complex.  And here it is!

Click to score your FREE copy of the unit - for 24 hours only!
  My kids absolutely LOVED IT!  When I first moved to 5th grade (5 years ago!), I worried that the kids would be too old to be cutesy.  Not so!  They love incorporating art like this Ben Franklin kite-and-key comprehension craft.  And I love it because I'm able to teach informational text with the mini-unit, and cover multiple standards with just one lesson!  SCORE!

Finished product - It looks super cute hanging above students' desks!
I love that this activity has two options for the reading passage.  I included materials and instructions for making a cute flip book that has the passage broken up into sections.  It's perfect for struggling readers who need to chunk passages for comprehension.  I also included a suggestion for printing the flip book on colored paper that coordinated with the colored paper you choose for the kite so that kids can easily see which section of the flip book they must turn to in order to complete that side of the kite.  Alternately, there is a print-and-go version of the passage, just in case you are pressed for time and/or your copy code is hitting its limit!

Color-coded flipbook to help struggling readers chunk information
I made sure that my kiddos completed the graphic organizer BEFORE they were able to begin the craft.  It really helped them organize their thoughts so their responses on the kite were well-thought-out and included text evidence.  I also hung the posters around the room for a cute visual, and to aid my kiddos with comprehension.

Graphic Organizer

We will continue to talk about Ben Franklin as we begin our unit in Social Studies on the American Revolution.  This was the perfect introduction, as it created and connected prior knowledge with new information, and set us up to begin talking about the Revolutionary War, and Ben Franklin's role is establishing our country.  Have I ever mentioned that I'm a history nerd???  Get your FREE copy of Ben's mini-unit for 24 hours only!  Click HERE to get to my TPT store and download it ASAP!

Have a great October, y'all!  Try to get some rest.  Blessed be, the holidays are right around the corner!

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Celebrate Freedom Week

Okay, y'all.  We are two weeks in, and there's a light at the end of the first-days-of-school tunnel.  Those first few weeks are always so chaotic!  I feel like I'm putting out fires more than anything else!   From trying to get passwords and usernames to gas shortages to long-lost math programs to chauffeuring my children all over creation for football, swim, choir, auditions...  It's EXHAUSTING.  But we're starting to find our rhythm, and I sure am grateful, because I'm kind of already over September.

Next week is Celebrate Freedom week, and I also kind of love US history and talking to my students about our country and the sacrifices that have been made for them and for me.  A couple of years ago, my own children were wanting details about 9/11.  I'm not really the kind of parent who sugarcoats the truth, so I really had to think long and hard about what I wanted them to know.  I ended up telling them the truth, and showing them images from that day.  The effect was profound.  They didn't get scared or have nightmares.  What they got was a thoughtful compassion that can only be found in knowing the truth behind the tragedy.

I haven't shown my kiddos this film, yet, but I plan to someday when they are a bit older.  I watched it shortly after 9/11.  Two French filmmakers were making a documentary about the life of a NY firefighter.  They just happened to be shooting on 9/11.  Without knowing it, they were about to make history.  This documentary is the real deal - if you haven't seen it, I highly recommend it.

In my classroom, I try to stay true to the facts, as well, while understanding that not all parents share my philosophy.  So I'm very careful to stick to the facts and keep the images G-rated.  I'm a very passionate teacher, so sometimes it's hard for me to temper my emotions, and maybe (just maybe) I've shed a few tears in front of my students.  But I think that's okay.  We are models, and if I'm modeling compassion through my tears, then I'm pretty sure I've done my job, and then some.

For Celebrate Freedom Week, I created a guide of materials to engage my students in learning about the foundation of our country, its charters, and the freedoms we enjoy as its citizens.  There are booklets and flap books, posters, and a super cute Freedom Cube that the kiddos make to show what they learned.  In honor of our country's freedoms, I'd like to invite you to download a free copy of this guide to use next week with your kiddos, and I hope that you will share with them your passion and your compassion for all those who sacrifice for our country.

Click here to get your free download!


Friday, August 18, 2017

Teaching a Growth Mindset

The countdown is on!  A week of teacher inservice, and then my classroom will be filled with 21 bright and shining faces, ready to learn every single thing I have in my bag of tricks.  The thought of those faces is what is going to get me through a week of meetings, staff development, more meetings, online training, even more meetings, convocation, and still more meetings. UUUUGGGHHHHH...

And also...  I get SO excited when I'm able to add a new resource to my bag of tricks!  I've been working on a couple of the things this last week that I plan on using WEEK ONE (gulp).  My fingers have been flying across my keyboard with excitement (and maybe a little anxiety) as I try to get all my ideas onto my screen.  Maybe my kids have been living on frozen waffles and Lunchables.  Maybe the animals don't get fed 'til the wee hours of the night.  Maybe the dishes keep piling up in the sink.  But it will all be worth it when I'm finished with everything!

I FINALLY finished one of the goodies, and I'm thrilled to get my Growth Mindset Resource & Activity Guide out there!  Sometimes my eyes are bigger than my motivation, and about two weeks ago, I ordered a ton of picture books with the idea of using them to teach my students how to have a growth mindset.  They sat in my teacher bag while I contemplated just how much energy I had left to start this endevour after setting up my classroom.  Turns out it was just enough!
Have I said how much I love Amazon Prime?
I read each one of these books, and MY, OH MY!!! I SIMPLY. CANNOT. WAIT.  I created a ton of activities to teach growth mindset, and then I created another ton of activities and discussion questions to go with each book to reinforce the importance of growth mindset.  My plan is to use all of these resources...just about 15-20 minutes each morning as we establish a routine in those first several weeks.  Crossing my fingers it all works out!

Check out some of the activities included in the guide!  I've even made it FREE for the first 24 hours!  Click on any of the pics to snag your copy!

Best wishes to you all for a fantastic year!

Thursday, August 3, 2017

It's August, Ya'll

I have a love-hate relationship with August.  I love that it's my birthday month.  I hate that I'm a year older.  I love my 50% discount at Kendra Scott.  I hate that I can't get out of that place with JUST ONE ITEM.  I love the FRESHNESS that is the new school year.  I hate that our days sitting poolside are swiftly coming to an end.  Sigh.

I found at least 14 items I wanted, but my bank account said NO!
Let's  reflect on where we are in our summer timeline, shall we?  The bickering is at an all-time high. Most of my children are in a YouTube-induced trance for approximately 90% of the day.  The kitchen has become a 24-hour buffet.  Half of us have summer reading that that HASN'T. EVEN. BEEN. TOUCHED.  Mention the word "chore," and suddenly everyone under the age of eighteen is catatonic.

And I've just been too summer-lazy to give a care.

But it's August.  In a few weeks, I will be FORCED to give a care.  I'm sure it's nothing a little school-supply shopping won't cure.  Because let's be honest,  the MOST awesome thing about being an elementary school teacher (aside from those 22-26 shining faces, of course) is buying school supplies.  Sorting them.  Organizing them in cute bins.  Labeling said bins.

In honor of the upcoming school-supply shopping binges (and, if you're from Texas, the tax-free weekend coming up on August 11-13), I'm offering my supply labels for FREE for the next 24 hours. They come in two sizes - large and small.  I use the large at Meet-the-Teacher to display on the walls above where I want the kiddos to place their supplies.  I use the small in my closet, cabinets, shelves, etc. to label where everything lives.  I allow my 5th graders to get new supplies when they need them.  I know, sounds crazy, right???  But with the exception of a few "off-limits" items that are occasionally snagged, it works out pretty well.  I'm totally okay with a few pilfered pencils if it means I don't have to be in charge of passing out new supplies!

Click here to snag your free set!
At Meet-the-Teacher, I collect small supplies in tubs from Walmart.  They stack easily for storage, and I can use them throughout the year for other things.  Thank goodness they are cheap, because I buy new ones every year.  They are like socks in the laundry!  I don't know what happens to them, but somehow they VANISH.  Somewhere out there is a sneaky little troll with a cave full of socks and plastic dishpans.

Looks like they sell them in bulk - 8 for around $14!  WOOHOO!!!
Hope you enjoy the freebie!  Just a few more weeks of freedom, friends!

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Lovin' Amazon Prime!

Amazon Prime Day has come and gone, and I'm anxiously awaiting my finds to arrive on my doorstep!  Okay, so maybe only one out of the four things I ordered was on sale.  And it had nothing to do with school stuff.  So what!?!  I still saved around $30 on my purchase, and that will always be just fine by me!

So what did I find that I just COULD. NOT. live without???  I've been eyeing this pencil sharpener for literally years.  But I'm such a penny-pincher when it comes to replacing something that still works.  My dinky little electronic sharpener has been doing the death rattle for months, but it could probably stick it out for a couple more.  However, it's the beginning of the year, and my classroom will soon be all clean and shiny.  Who wants a banged-up old sharpener sullying the absolute freshness that is my August classroom?  Yes, said freshness will last approximately seventeen seconds into the first day of school.  But I will cherish it in the weeks before school starts, and that grumpy old sharpener just will not do!

SO excited about my new sharpener!  Is this normal?

Let's see, I also got these RAD stools because I'm going to give flexible seating a go.  And shhhhh...don't tell my daughters, but I'm totally stealing the bean bag chairs that Santa brought them a couple of years ago.  Seriously.  Check out where they live now.  The girls won't even miss them.  Right??? Right.  (I fear there will be an update on this in the very near future.)

I love the sleek look!  I hope they are STURDY.  You get it.

She will soon be able to open BOTH of her closet doors!  Selling point???

There it is, under that pile of (hopefully) clean clothes.  Clearly, her pile of clothes gets a TON of use out of the chair.

I got two sets of these FANTASTIC lime green write-on dots for my math and reading tables.  I'm a little iffy on them because I've always covered my tables with fun fabric.  It usually lasts several years before I have to replace it, but last year, my little darlings picked and Picked and PiCKeD and PICKED until they shredded parts of it.  Rather than lay on my bad back underneath those tables to try to fix the damage, I decided to rip those suckers right off, and try something new.  I'm a little nervous, because, know how much teachers like change.

I hope they are kid-proof!

Finally, I ordered some Chaco's.  They are totally cute, and they were the only item in my basket that was discounted on Prime Day (HELLO 30%!!!  They were practically screaming, "BUY ME!!!").  I TOTALLY rationalized the purchase after my orthopedist told me I needed to be wearing more supportive shoes because my knees are angry at me.  Clearly, he is unaware that it is summer and flip flops are the National Shoe of Summer.  He is also unaware that I am absolutely UNPREPARED to be told that I need to start wearing more supportive shoes.  In honor of that nasty statement, I also rationalized the purchase of a pair of Birkenstocks.  Go ahead.  Judge me.  But I'll totally be there for you when you get told that you need to start wearing support hose.  Promise.

So comfortable!
Okay, it's only mid-July so I'll shut up now and go back to the pool in my NEW CHACO'S, thank you very much, Dr. Navarro.  But before I go, here's a gift for you in honor of the (belated) Amazon Prime Day!  Head on over to my TPT store and get some FREE Meet-the-Teacher goodies!  They'll only be free for the next 24 hours, so go NOW!!!  And don't forget to follow me while you're there, so you'll be updated on discounted and FREE new products when they are posted!  I also offer free and discounted goodies RIGHT HERE, so go ahead and click on that FOLLOW tab!  You know you want to!

Until next time, friends!