Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Back to School Goals

I'm excited to be linking up with my buddy Jess from I Heart Recess! I think sometimes putting your goals in writing makes you more accountable, so here goes...


Personal: Find a better balance in my life, especially between blogging and personal. Does anyone have a chart or schedule they follow? Some nights I say, I'm just going to check my email, but you know how that goes... 6 hours later... blogging, commenting, responding, giveaways, creating for TPT, Pinterest, Facebook, and soon Instagram! I know it's going to get crazy when school starts! It just seems that nothing is quick-it's so easy to get distracted! I feel like I want a form that sets limits on each category-it might keep me focused! Any suggestions?

Organization: I love organization and I believe EVERYTHING has a home, but I have A LOT of "stuff". I can admit that I'm an organized hoarder (school supplies are my weakness!). You know it's bad when you have Office Depot employees' numbers programmed on your phone to notify you of clearance! (True!) I can't pass up a great deal! However, my goal is to make sure I have a clean desk all day! I always start the year off right, but you know that pile that builds up (papers, things to file/read, catalogs, etc.). I need to keep focused!
Also, EMAILS! I'm terrible with email! I always have hundreds/thousands of emails in my boxes (all of them!). I have a friend who at most has 2 email messages in her inbox...I know she cringes when she sees mine! I need to make sure I dedicate a few minutes each day to read, respond, delete, save that day's email, otherwise I will get behind and drown in emails!

Planning: Now, I say this every year, but I REALLY want to do all my planning at school. I always spend my weekends planning-I have a lot of my resources at home, so I like to take my time planning at my convenience. I want to keep my schoolwork more at school instead of lugging home that rolling crate every night. I think I may start with one subject a day. I think it's a reasonable and realistic goal.

Professional: I purchased a professional at the beginning of summer and haven't even cracked the book open! Again, I know myself and I put too much on my plate. Maybe a chapter a day/week...I need someone to hold me accountable! haha

Students: My absolute favorite thing students say to me is, "Mrs. Miller, it's almost time to go and I feel like I just got here" or "I don't want to go home." I want my students to enjoy school and have fun while learning, but more importantly (and selfishly), I want to have fun! It's the key for everyone's happiness! Let's be honest, if you're having fun the kids will have fun! I use humor and silliness (some people may call it craziness), music, dancing, incentives, excitement, and motivation in my classroom! I love teaching and it is evident to my students!

Motto: You all knew this was coming!
I designed this for my classroom because I love this quote for obvious AND motivational reasons! NO matter what happens in our classroom we need to hold our heads high, we will make mistakes and learn from them, (confidence building) and I have very high expectations for myself and my students. I give 110% and I expect the same in return from them. (For some I have to work harder at motivating than others). And the heels..., well, that's for me!
Are you setting your goals for back to school? Go link up with Jess and share!
My winner for my Pin to Win Teacher Postcards is Jessica! Congratulations!
Don't forget to like me on Facebook-I'm having a PIN TO WIN everyday this week!

Monday, July 29, 2013

Monday Made It: Artwork and Teacher Postcards

It's so fun to join Tara's Monday Made It! My first Made It was inspired by an idea I found on Jessica's Musings. I made this canvas for my classroom and I'm actually pretty pleased with the way it turned out! I think it will add a nice touch to my d├ęcor!
Supplies needed:
Acrylic paint
Scrapbook paper
Modge Podge

I already had a blank 8x10 canvas-you can get them at Michael's (4 pack), so I thought I'd give it a whirl!
Paint the canvas with acrylic paint (cheap paint).
Cut out leaves from different prints of scrapbook paper-mine are all different sizes.
I used a little Modge Podge to glue down my pieces.
After I had all my leaves arranged the way I wanted, I put three coats of Modge Podge all over the canvas-waiting for drying time in between.
*Use a little more on the side where the paper bends over the side.

I had so much fun making this canvas, I decided to make one for my BBB Jivey as a "visiting" gift when she comes to stay with me at the end of September! (Can't wait!) She loves bright colors and chevron...I hope she likes it!
This is an easy and fun art project-definitely try it out!

 My second Made It is a TPT product I'm very excited about because I think it will save teachers lots of time and money and students will get excited about it too!

I started making my own postcards several years ago because I was tired of paying $4-$5 for every pack I bought! I finally had the time this week to compile all my postcards and update them! There are 17 different kinds of postcards (38 pages total-4 to a page). All postcards are featured in color and black & white (I think the blackline masters look great on colored cardstock!). I mail postcards to my students all the time for their successes in my room! Kids LOVE getting mail! They can also be used as note cards and hand delivered to students! Either way, I know students will be proud to get one!

This product will be discounted at 20% today and tomorrow!
Of course, you know I like to always give away a new product, so let's play PIN TO WIN!
Here are the easy steps:
Pin my Teacher Postcards
Hit "see pin" when you're done
Copy the URL address from the address bar at the top
Paste in the comments!
Easy peasy! Winner will be announced tomorrow!
And, this just in....I added blackline masters to my Citing Evidence Posters! Yay! Now you have the option to save on ink and print on colored cardstock. My students loved using these key rings to cite their evidence-it was a great tool!

***If you've already purchased these posters, go back and download again so you have the black and white version too! :O)
Go check out all the wonderful ideas from other bloggers! There's some amazing stuff out there!

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Mentor Text: A Picture Book of Harriet Tubman

Every week I'm so excited to learn about new books to add to my collection with the wonderful Amanda & Stacia's Mentor Text Linky! So many great ideas, lesson, and book recommendations!
I'd like to give a Happy Birthday to my sweet friend AMANDA!
David Adler has many biographies written in this easy to understand format. This informative picture book introduces the important facts about the life of Harriet Tubman. Although the author covers her entire life from her birth until her death, he points out her most important accomplishments.  We learn about her rebellious childhood, her family, her part as a conductor of the Underground Railroad, the way she helped the north during the Civil War, and how she continued to help after the war. It goes through her life story and experiences as she was treated badly as a slave, wanted dead or alive by slaveholders, and finally respected and admired as the “Moses” to her people.
I really like this picture book because it shows Harriet's strength, bravery, and independence. She fought for her freedom and became the "conductor" of the Underground Railroad to help free others. The pictures in this book confirm the meaning that the author is portraying through text.
 This book would be perfect for black history, slavery, and the Underground Railroad.  
When I read this book aloud to my students they come to the carpet armed with a clipboard covered with sticky notes. For this particular lesson, I have them focus on character traits, writing down one character trait per sticky note. We share our thinking with our shoulder partners and aloud with the class. My students select one Post-It (one character trait) to "write long off of" to extend their thinking by citing evidence and details to support their trait.
This template is a great visual for students to see how much I'm expecting them to extend and expand their thinking (post-it size compared to written response). I want them to support their thinking with details, quotes, inferences, and evidence from the text. So many times students say, "I don't know what to write about." I love this idea because it gives them a starting point. If you think you could use this template in your classroom, grab this FREEBIE here!
 **Please be kind and leave feedback if you download.
Be sure to check out Amanda & Stacia's linky, but BEWARE...you'll be adding books to your wish list! 

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Spark Student Motivation Saturday: Promote Great Thinking!

I know it's summer and sometimes it's hard to get motivated, but it's time to share some MOTIVATION! Link up any idea, lesson, tip, trick that will motivate your students when we return to school. It can be something that motivates YOU! Let's face it, if it motivates us, it motivates our students!
**We will continue this link on the 2nd and 4th Saturdays for the month of August, but it will be open during the two weeks, so join anytime! Mark your calendars! (August 10th, 24th)
As I think about heading back to school in a few weeks, I always get nervous about my new mix of students. Building a safe learning community in my class is top priority for me and I start on day one, it sets the tone for the whole year.
How do you get your students comfortable enough with each other to share their thinking and ideas? I know in every class there's always a few that are reluctant to share and feel intimidated by the students with strong, outspoken personalities.
I like to encourage risk taking and praising each others' ideas right from the beginning. I've used different strategies and techniques each year, but after I found these light bulb sticky notes at Target I thought of a great idea!
As I said, I work very hard building a strong classroom community where my students take ownership of their learning and thinking. I love the idea of my students praising each others' ideas with these sticky notes! What validation they would feel if they received one of these notes from one of their peers! I bought one for each of my groups to encourage them to promote others' thinking.
I realize not every Target stocked this product or may not have any left, so I made these "Great Thinking Cards" so we can all promote GREAT THINKING in our class!
Some ideas to use these cards:
  • Each group has a set at their group to hand out to group members or other classmates.
  • Create a bulletin board to hold all the great thinking ideas/work.
  • Teacher passes out light bulbs during lessons.
  • Teacher or student leaves light bulb on another student's desk while at lunch or out of the room.

A way to promote thinking and sharing to build trust amongst each other would be to ask open-ended questions where there's not one "right" answer which will give students confidence to respond creatively without being afraid of being "wrong".

Of course, with increased participation by all members of a group, student engagement increases, speaking and listening skills (CCSS) are developed, and it gives us feedback so we can assess their understanding. It's a win-win-win! :O)
I know this will be a great self-esteem booster and confidence builder for all my students!
I hope this post MOTIVATES you to MOTIVATE your students to share their thinking and ideas!

*If you link up, you will get these light bulb cards to promote great thinking in your class!
The set includes color and B/W thinking cards plus bulletin board posters.
Link up any idea that motivates you or your students-if it motivates you, it motivates them! No idea is too small or too big! :O)
** Don't forget to grab my button and this post when you link up.
While we're here, let's share some blog love and "motivate" each other by following/commenting at least one person's post! :O) I can't wait to read everyone's ideas!

Don't forget to get your new Fan FREEBIE on Facebook!

Friday, July 26, 2013

Favorite Pins & Pinterest Scavenger Hunt Contest!

Happy Friday! I'm sharing some of my Favorite Pins and announcing an amazing contest!
I love this poster quote from for my classroom. 
I want this for my classroom! 
Totally making these personalized bookmarks for back to school! They look easy and fancy! :O)
Personalized Bookmarks / Personalized Gifts / Classroom Gifts
 I'm so excited I found this website! These necklace are only $7.99...this could be dangerous!
Double Delight necklace. One of our top selling necklaces in over a dozen colors and they're only $7.99!
iFake text-you don't even need a phone! It would be great to teach dialogue!
   iFake Text - create a fake text dialogue between book characters. No phone needed!
These timers are perfect for center work! Great visual for students to monitor their time, plus they're fun! And....they're FREE!
Fun (and free!) countdown timers for the classroom! Read this blog post on Corkboard Connections to find out where to download these timers and more and some tips for using them in the classroom.
I thought this was a cute idea for home or school!
Be Different...Act Normal: Gumball Reading Timer

We know that you're thinking about all of the items on your TpT wishlist as you are switching into back-to-school mode. Wouldn't it be nice if you had a TpT gift certificate to use? Well, it's your lucky day! These upper elementary bloggers are going to help foot the bill!

Here is what you need to do to enter for a chance to win a $50 TpT gift certificate:

  • Click the picture above or {here} to take you to our collaborative board.
  • Follow the board.
  • Find the pin description that contains the special code.
  • Enter the code in the Rafflecopter.
  • Easy-peasy!!
  • Contest ends Sunday, July 28th at midnight.

See you back tomorrow for Spark Student Motivation! Do you have a lesson, tip, goodie, etc. that will motivate your students for back to school?

Monday, July 22, 2013

Monday Made Its: Teacher Gift and a New Idea

It's time for Monday Made It with Tara!
First up are some more hand sanitizer gifts! This is so easy and personalized that I had to make them! Last year one of my colleagues had hand sanitizer with poems in them at the front desk of our school and I thought it just added such a personal touch! **The monogrammed ones are my favorite!
Step 1: Create a design and print on regular copy paper.
Step 2: Copy your paper onto transparency film-bring to printer unless you have a laser printer.
Step 3: Cut and roll paper to fit it top of bottle. The transparency film will unroll.
Step 4: Use a cuticle stick to straighten.
 Easy, peasy and customized for your class or your friends!
 Here are a few I made for my teaching buddies:
I decided to make a class set of those folders I've seen pinned everywhere. I am hoping these are a great addition to my back to school list-it seems genius! I will use mine for classwork, centers, morning work, and paper. (I chose categories that won't take up too much space, since I'm not sure how this new idea will work). Has anyone used these before? I'd love to hear from you!
 Here are a couple of tips I learned along the way since I couldn't find the pin when I needed it. Not sure if this is the correct way, but I will share how I made mine. I cut the folder without brads to a height of 11 inches so it would fit in my 3 hole punch. I had to open the folder back up to hole punch one side at a time-folded wouldn't fit. My BEAUTIFUL electric hole punch is at school...it is the best investment and is AMAZING! I like all my folders to be matching-quick management tool when you want to quickly scan the room to see if everyone is ready. I'm hoping this will be quick and easy for my students to find their work all in one spot!

I made a class set of my Back to School Autobiographies-I'm so excited to have these done! I'd be more excited if I knew WHO was in my class, but I have to have patience! (my worst quality!)
 Can't wait to have my students decorate the composition book covers to represent themselves!  (Confession: I have a binding machine at home.) I got a great deal on it! (at Office Depot, of course!) Not until I bought this about two years ago did I realize how much I love having one at home! I don't use it much after school starts, but during summer it's a MUST HAVE! So, I'm sharing this on sweet Sabra's Must Have linky!
 Isn't she a beauty??!! :O)
Can't wait to see what everyone else made this past week! So many creative teachers!
Don't forget to link up this Saturday for Spark Student Motivation! What have you been planning or making to get your students excited for back to school?

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Science Mentor Text: The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind

I'm excited to link back up with Collaboration Cuties {Amanda & Stacia}! I missed them last week when I was on vacation.
This week's topic is science. I like to incorporate fiction and non-fiction, especially more now with Common Core.
I'm excited to add The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind to my book collection. I stumbled across this book this summer and can't wait to share it with you and my students!
Amazon's description:
When fourteen-year-old William Kamkwamba's Malawi village was hit by a drought, everyone's crops began to fail. Without enough money for food, let alone school, William spent his days in the library . . . and figured out how to bring electricity to his village. Persevering against the odds, William built a functioning windmill out of junkyard scraps, and thus became the local hero who harnessed the wind.

Lyrically told and gloriously illustrated, this story will inspire many as it shows how - even in the worst of times - a great idea and a lot of hard work can still rock the world.
Here's a TED video with William Kamkwamba telling how he built the windmill. Very inspiring and great for science process-he saw a problem and tested different ways to fix it.
Such an amazing young man!

After reading about wind energy in our science text, my students fill out a fact poster to make all the important information appealing! They can use written facts and/or illustrations. 
These posters are great for main idea and details, interactive notebooks, or a bulletin board. I sometimes will let them use them as their notes pages for quizzes/tests, so they're more likely to put "the most important" information on their posters.
If you'd like a copy, click here and download for free!
Be kind and leave feedback if you download. 

The winners for my Pin to Win Synonym Work Mats and Synonym Posters & Rings are:
Christine and AMC! Check your email!

Congratulations and thank you all for participating!


Friday, July 19, 2013

Workshop Wednesday: Pre-Writing Setup, Pin to Win, and Guest Blogging

After you read this post, please visit one of my favorite girls, Christy from Teaching Along the Yellow Brick Road, where I'm guest blogging about some Fabulous Finds for $1!
I'm always very excited to link up with my BBB, Jivey, for her wonderful Workshop Wednesday! Our focus is the "pre" setup before students arrive. What do you do to get ready? Last week I talked about Reading Workshop, you can read about it here-pick up the reading freebie!

This week I'm going to talk about my Writing Workshop. As many of you know, Florida 4th graders are tested in writing, so we have a larger writing block than other grade levels. There are so many areas to focus on, but one of my favorites is word work and exposing them to new vocabulary, sure way to get better writers! I LOVE synonyms and I've created a couple of items that enhance my students' writing.
First, are my Synonym Work Mats. My students love playing these synonym matching games! I introduce, review, and practice synonyms with these mats. My students need as many exposures to new words as much as possible and they think they're playing a game (they are, but still learning!). I love tricking them! They play these games in their Kagan groups and I can quickly circulate and assess their learning and knowledge.

I've printed and laminated my new mats and matching synonyms (had to cutesify them) and I keep them all stored in an accordion file folder (Target $1). It's a great hook to a writing lesson and will be making several appearances in our classroom!
The perfect companion to my work mats are my Synonym Rings. Every summer I cut these useful tools for my students. My students use these everyday during writing-what's exciting is when they whip them out during other content areas as well! I have to make them every year because they're well loved all year, and they all want to bring them home, which of course, makes me ecstatic! :O)

I provide them with a slider pencil box that's used as their Writing Toolbox. I stock it with pencils, erasers, mini post-its, colored pens, and a highlighter. All year I've collected Crystal Light containers to use this year just for something different.(pictured right)

 I use matching synonym posters to go with my rings. I introduce a new synonym each week, but my students have all cards on their rings accessible at their desks.

 Both of these products are discounted until Sunday! Save money and buy the Synonym Bundle!
Be sure to check out Jivey's Workshop Wednesday post to see lots of great ideas!
The winner of my Pin to Win Multiplication Rings is...
 Amanda! Congratulations! Thank you all for your sweet comments and support!

Want to play again?
Pin either of these products, or both, and you can win! I will choose a winner for each product! Good luck! Don't forget to copy the URL address after you pin, post it in the comments, and leave your email if you're not a blogger. :O)

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