Saturday, December 13, 2014

Spark Student Motivation: Random Acts of Kindness


Our class brainstormed 12 different acts of kindness we could perform for the last 12 days of school before Christmas. They were very thoughtful with their ideas and here's some of what we've accomplished so far:

Our little pre-k students are so adorable! We visited their classroom to share our Christmas cheer. This also served as a great practice for our singing at the nursing home. They were a great audience and clapped for all our songs. I know my students felt proud with their smiling faces as we left their classroom.
 One of my favorite ideas...I created bookmarks and laminated them for my students to secretly place them in books in our media center. We chose some of the Sunshine State Readers and popular books so they would be sure to be found very soon! My students were so excited to go on this "mission"! One of my students said, "Mrs. Miller, kids are going to be so happy if they find these bookmarks!" We signed the bookmarks Love, Mrs. Miller's Class, so they'd know they were placed in the books on purpose.
 Our first act of kindness was to leave money for a cold drink on the soda machine. My students were so funny about this one! They kept asking me if the money was gone, who took it, did anyone say anything? A few days later we received a note with these candies thanking us for our act of kindness. :) My kids were THRILLED! They experienced the "paying it forward"!
 A tradition in  my classroom is to meet at the nursing home and sing Christmas carols. I've done this since my second year of teaching and it warms my heart every year! I love the feeling it gives my students, my parents, and the residents of the nursing home. It's a wonderful experience and will be a lifelong memory for everyone. EVERY student came dressed up with smiles on their faces!
(The picture on the left are two of my students with my silly daughter-red hair).
We also wanted to warm the hearts and bodies of the teachers who have outside morning duty and the front office staff! We've had some cold weather this week in Florida!

We have four more days planned for next week to finish our "mission"!

As teachers we teach so much more than academics, we teach our students to be good citizens. While doing so, we create memories and experiences they'll treasure for a lifetime!

**This linkup will be open for the next three weeks, feel free to link up each week if you'd like! 
I hope you had a wonderful week! Please link up any lessons, ideas, tips, tricks, incentives, ANYTHING you do get your students motivated or excited!
Don't forget to grab my button and link back to this post!
Check out all the wonderful ideas from my friends who link up and don't forget to leave some love by commenting....we LOVE comments!
***Please include the topic in the link up with your blog name.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Spark Student Motivation: Class Vending Machine

 Presenting my newest addition to my classroom...
I got this idea about a month ago while we were at a soccer tournament. All the kids went crazy over the vending machines in the restaurant we ate at. We must've spent $10 on plastic football helmets!
So, I thought I need have to have one for my classroom! One of my parents found a brand new one on Craigslist and donated it to our class! (BIG thank you!). I purchased the capsules on Amazon and they also sell the vending machine. Click here and here.
 I purchased the machine that holds the 2" capsules. They can hold small prizes like cap erasers, rubber bracelets, stickers, etc. I filled most of them will prize slips and Scan to Win Tickets. The Scan to Win Tickets make it like winning twice!
 These two ladies were excited with their big win! Chew gum all day?? That's fun! My other student won "your choice", she chose to eat lunch with me! So sweet! :)
I'm keeping my vending machine SPECIAL! I had a few winners when I first introduced our newest addition, but they don't get prizes every day. I don't have an "official' plan for using it yet, which keeps them on their toes in anticipation. I'm thinking of random things like effort, selfless acts of kindness, most Reading Counts points in a week, a raffle, etc.

There's a piece to take out of the machine so it doesn't need quarters, you just spin it. However, I think if I brought a roll of quarters to rotate through that would be fun too!

After they open the prizes, I collect the capsules to reuse them. Once you purchase the capsules and machine, you'll have it forever! It's an initial investment, but you can fill it with donations or prize slips that are free to you: use pen all day, sit next to a friend, eat lunch with a friend, sit in a special chair, free answer on an assignment, etc.
This machine is causing lots of excitement in our class and is very motivating!
I hope you had a wonderful week! Please link up any lessons, ideas, tips, tricks, incentives, ANYTHING you do get your students motivated or excited!
Don't forget to grab my button and link back to this post!
Check out all the wonderful ideas from my friends who link up and don't forget to leave some love by commenting....we LOVE comments!
***Please include the topic in the link up with your blog name.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Christmas & Winter Products {Freebies Too!}

Attention TPT Shoppers, that blue light is flashing over at TPT!
Enjoy 20% off of most stores plus TPT is offering an additional 10% off {TPTCYBER}.
Cute right? My first job was at Kmart and I used to run all those Blue Light Specials!
I want to share two new products and some Christmas and Winter items you may want to add to your bag of tricks this season!
Here are two fun, engaging, and meaningful craftivities that your students will love! I have a Christmas Reading Wreath and a NEW Winter Reading Wreath! The winter wreath is perfect for our return from the break or a nice alternative for those students who don't celebrate holidays. They both can be used with any text (fiction and non-fiction templates included). This is perfect for these weeks before the break when your students get a little restless, to leave for a substitute, or a family project to promote reading! Students are proud to hang their reading wreaths!

One of my favorites is my Christmas Reading Graphic Organizers. I love its versatility and kids think they're fun because of the Christmas organizers! Use these graphic organizers for a read aloud, independent reading, literature circles, weekly story, small group instruction, or homework!
Add a little cuteness and everyone is happy! :)

Next up is my Christmas Story Starters, Note Cards, Post Cards, and Writing Paper, lots of possibilities for this resource. Great for a stand alone center, home work, and creative writing. Festive resources for the teacher too!
NEW FREEBIE! Grab this Happy Holidays Banner to spruce up your classroom or bulletin board! I love the chalk backgrounds for Christmas! Enjoy!
**Please leave some feedback love if you download. :)
FREEBIE! Grab these Merry Multiplication Fact Families & Factors math practice pages for a math center, homework, or early finishers.

During the holiday season or when we get back in January, you'll want to get your students excited about idioms and writing with this pack! This "winter" themed pack is also a nice alternative for students who don't celebrate Christmas. Click here to take a peek at these Winter Idioms, Prompts, Story Starter Cards and Themed Paper.
If you have any questions, please email me!
Enjoy the sale and your week! Are you counting down? Christmas is coming waaaaayy too fast!

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Word Work Centers For Big Kids and Tips!

Need some center ideas for word work for big kids? I know sometimes upper grades are skeptical about centers because of the management issues, but if you keep them engaged with meaningful activities, you'll enjoy your small group instruction so much more!
TIP: I know this may sound obvious, but think for a few minutes before you set up your centers and ask yourself..."What do my students need in order to be successful?" For most of these centers, they will only need sharpened pencils and a dictionary, but it's the simple things like including a trash can if they're required to cut and will have scraps that will save you from having disruptions.
Here are a few word work activities I use in our classroom:
Building Words {Hands on word building activity}

 Each page is designed with a student tracking sheet and letters that make up a big word at the bottom. Letters are cut off from the bottom of the page for students to manipulate and make new words. This is the easiest way to teach plurals, past tense, root words, etc.! Each page also includes a prefix or suffix that can be introduced. You can differentiate by requiring students to make a certain number of words. Fun while increasing vocabulary and writing fluency!
TIP: Make sure all centers are modeled prior to leaving it out for your students to tackle alone. If I want quality work, I need to model quality work and let them practice with me first. 

One of my favorites!!! This word building activity will be loved by all your students! Expand-a-word is a word work activity I created to "expand" my students' collection of words. Students will make as many words as they can by inserting letters in front, in between, and behind the three letters, without rearranging the order of the three letters. This can be used for whole class or small group instruction, partners, individually, centers, enrichment homework, or an engaging 5 minute filler.This is another opportunity to introduce plurals, base words, prefixes/suffixes, spelling patterns, and new vocabulary! (My store has the "new" version of this activity!)
TIP: If your centers have questions or tasks that are timed, be sure to include a sand timer (nice and quiet). For example, at my Expand-A-Word center I put out 4 cards and give them 3 minutes to make as many words as they can individually. Then they have an additional 3 minutes to share with each other and add new words before moving on to the next card. The timer keeps them focused and moving.
I LOVE Boggle! The best part of this set up is that you don't hear all that racket from the real game with the cubes! {Insert happy teacher face!} And, I do love that it's portable in my pocket chart. Another plus? It's a student's job to change out the letters at the end of each week. Oh, but Joanne, I don't have those letters and I don't have time to make some...problem solved! Head on over to my Facebook page and grab them for free! Yay! It's Christmas!
Your New Best Friend!

Another {quiet} version of Boggle! :) All the guesswork is eliminated with this book. The letters on each page have a special arrangement to make words! Guaranteed success! My Boggle Brainbusters is out of print and only available for $70 (yikes), but the another version has been released, Boggle Brainbusters 2 at Amazon. Click here if you're interested. It's worth every penny!

The Most Amazing Center Keeper

TIP: Make your life easier by keeping all your center materials organized and easy to manage. Once you set it up, you'll be set for the rest of your teaching career! You just put the cards back in the container!
This is by far one of my favorite finds while shopping through the aisles of Michael's trying to figure out how I can use everything and anything in my classroom! I mean, why would I put photos in the photo boxes when I can put Scoot Games, task cards, and center activities??!!
So, if you haven't heard...there's a big sale tomorrow and Tuesday! My store will be on sale plus TPT is giving you an additional 10% off! {Enter code: TPTCYBER}.You can snatch both Building Words and Expand-a-Word for less than a McDonald's combo! You'll have word work activities for the rest of the year! Enjoy your week back with your students!

Saturday, November 29, 2014

What's On Your Wish List? Let's Get Ready For Monday!

 You better start shopping today and tomorrow and adding to your wish list...there's going to be a sale!!! Monday & Tuesday my store will be 20% off and TPT is taking off an additional 10% off!
Don't forget to use the code: TPTCYBER
 Need some ideas for your wish list? I'm going to share two of my most popular wish listed items from my store and an item I plan to cross of my TPT wish list during the sale!

One of the most popular items wish listed from my store is my Multiplication Bundle {Everything to get those facts memorized!}I think many teachers are in the same boat with the critical need of getting their students to memorized their facts. Which is why I made this fun pack to get them motivated to learn them! It's THREE products in one!
Another popular wish listed item is my Guided Reading Questions For Fiction & Non-Fiction {Before, During & After}. It just makes your small groups easier, isn't that what we all want? :) Keeps you focused and always prepared! 
Large poster size to put on this adorable mini-pocket chart stand (directions included) and mini size questions for a book ring! You can leave at a center or put them in your pocket...right at your fingertips! Also included, templates for written responses.

I have several items on my wish list...but the one I plan to grab bright and early Monday morning is Jivey's Winter and Snow Paired Texts! (And, then I'll be using them this week!)
I used her Bats, Owls, and Spiders Paired Texts and my students and I both loved them! Perfect for guided reading and my students will like the seasonal high interest reading material!
Again, it's all about making our life easier! :)
Oh! Maybe you need some extra cash to spend at the BIG SALE! If you haven't entered, today is the last day for your chance to win ONE of FIVE $25 TPT certificates! Click the image to enter!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Need Some TPT Cash?

We are so excited for the holiday season that we couldn't help but spread some love! Lots of your favorite TPT Teacher-Authors and I have teamed up to give YOU some TPT spending money. We love you and appreciate you (and we wish we could give all of our fabulous followers some money)!

Enter the Rafflecopter below by simply following our TPT stores, and you will have a chance to win one of five $25 TPT gift cards! Good luck!
I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Spark Student Motivation: Caught Being Great!

Time to Spark some Student Motivation!
I made little note cards (4x6 photos) to give to my students when I "catch" them doing something out of the ordinary or extra for our class or classmates. I also made photos for recognizing great work or accomplishments in our class! (Of course, I had to make one that reads, "I SPARKLED today!," since I love all things that sparkle! :) 

 This young lady was so sweet and rushed to get another student's timed test ready since he wasn't back from another class yet and we were getting ready to start math. I love when students do things without prompting for the sake of each other! I see my class family growing stronger every day: caring about each other, helping each other, encouraging each other, and supporting each other.
 See how sparkly she is? She graduated from her multiplication facts! She worked so hard by studying every night! Her group members would quiz her each day before the timed test too! :)
 This young man has been a reading machine! He made it to the 100 point club, updating me every few points to make sure I was ready for his milestone! :) He was so excited when he made it that he wanted me to take a picture of the computer screen to send to his mother!

My students love these photos and it makes a great keepsake for their memory box or their refrigerator! I just had to explain that I have to recognize their great efforts and they're not given out for every single good deed. I don't want students to "expect" a reward or prize for everything they do, but I do like to celebrate achievements in my classroom, sometimes when they least expect it.

Anyone who links up, gets the set!!! :)

***This linky will stay open for two weeks, I will not post a new one on Thanksgiving break.  
I hope you had a wonderful week! Please link up any lessons, ideas, tips, tricks, incentives, ANYTHING you do get your students motivated or excited!
Don't forget to grab my button and link back to this post!
Check out all the wonderful ideas from my friends who link up and don't forget to leave some love by commenting....we LOVE comments!
***Please include the topic in the link up with your blog name.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Five For Friday!

It's been forever since I've had a chance to link up on a Friday!
My students brought in their Disguise a Turkey Projects...sooooo cute and creative! I was so impressed! Seen here: Harry Potter, soccer players, Ronald McDonald, a mummy, a teddy bear, a ninja,  a musician, and a penguin. I got this project from The Fabulous Life of an Elementary Teacher, click here for this awesome freebie!
Our school had its first 5k (Pride Roar) and my whole family participated. Notice I didn't say my whole family RAN! Actually, they all ran except for me! I was multi-tasking, walking and talking! :) Fun time for the family while supporting our school!

We had a few cold days in we had to warm up by the fire! :) I served hot cocoa and my students loved it! They were very appreciative, which makes me happy! I love when you do something special for your students and they don't ask for seconds or say something like, "Is that all we get?" or "I don't like that!" I know they're kids and sometimes they don't mean it, but it always puts a bad taste in my mouth when I hear kids say those kinds of comments.
(This makes me want to serve hot cocoa again!)
**Burning Fire is a DVD I purchased a few years ago at Walgreens.

Yes, my turkey projects are up, but I couldn't wait another minute to get my new tree up! It's black to match my room (in case I want to keep it up all year!) and is covered in high heel ornaments from so many special students! Isn't is BEAUTIFUL??!!
I didn't have a tree topper so I used my tiara! LOL!
I had to take a close up of this one...
"I'm not afraid of heights!"

We also read The Stranger this week-such a thought provoking book for students. It's the perfect book for students to make inferences, which leads to great discussion! My students were definitely opinionated with their thinking, so we had a few "friendly arguments" and had to reread several parts of the text to find evidence. We used Nicole's (Teaching With Blonde Ambition) text dependent questions (talk about rigor!). These questions really stretched my students' thinking. You can click here to grab her questions. We also used Jivey's mentor sentences for this text-click here to grab her freebie! (Warning: you'll get hooked on these mentor sentences!) 
The illustrations in the picture book are so captivating! My students were hanging on every word!

Don't forget to link up tomorrow for Spark Student Motivation! What have you done to motivate your students or get them excited? Maybe you have something special planned for next week!
***There's going to be a goodie for those who link up! :)

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