Sunday, July 29, 2012


To celebrate reaching 2,000 followers, I am thrilled to host a
Some of my favorite bloggers agreed to join the party and YOU could be one of 24 lucky winners!!!!!
Sorry for the super long post but I think you will agree it is worth it!
 Click on each picture to visit these awesome blogs.

Isn't that an amazing list? My bloggy friends really are the best! Good Luck!!!!!

I'm not getting sales notifications from TpT anymore since the upgrade. Does anyone know if that is a bug or are they not doing that anymore?

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Thursday, July 26, 2012

Pencil Basket FREEBIE and a winner!

With just 2 weeks until I go back (nooooooooo) I am starting to work on those nitty gritty details. Today I redid my pencil baskets.
I bought these black baskets in the Target Dollar Spot. If you'd like a FREE copy of the labels click {HERE.}

Last year I used 2 that looked like this:
I borrowed this pic from since I forget to take a pic.
They worked okay but I have 30 students so I wanted to be able to keep more pencils in there. Plus, my students sometimes knocked it over so I was hoping the larger base on the black one will prevent that.

Do you use dull/sharp baskets? Yes, I have to teach them the vocabulary word dull but rather than avoid it, I embrace it as a teachable moment! I can't stand the sound of the pencil sharpener so I ask parent volunteers to do it in the office or at recess to keep the pencils stocked. I train the kids that they must leave a dull to get a sharp so they don't end up hoarding pencils!

I would also like to announce the winner of my Decoding Strategies Giveaway.

Congrats to Janina!

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I am happy to say my TpT store issues have been resolved so you can click {HERE} to go grab your set .


Friday, July 20, 2012

Decoding Strategies for PARENTS & more!

 I am pretty excited to share with you something I have been working on all summer!

As a first grade teacher, I have had parents tell me that they WANT to help their child learn to read but they just don't know HOW.  Most parents rely on saying, "Sound it out," or simply correcting the word for the student. One parent said to me last year, "I didn't go to school for this like you did. I don't even know what you mean by decoding."

So, I made a Decoding Strategy Quick-Reference Guide for the parents to keep at home. The parent of one of the boys I tutor tried it out for me this summer and she said it was SO helpful!  She comes in every day telling me which strategies she was able to suggest he try when he got stuck. Yea!!!
I will go over it at Back-to-School-Night and show them the hand gestures I use. For example, flipping my hand from palm up to palm down for "flip the sound." I also included a parent letter to send home.

I am also excited to have copies laminated to refer to when I am teaching or coaching students during Guided Reading. Copies will also be available for partner reading since I already teach the students to suggest a strategy rather than tell their partner the word.

I made matching icons to put on my CAFE board when I teach the strategy. If you don't use CAFE you could use these on anchor charts.
 I also made Flip the Sounds Posters for my phonics bulletin board. In the beginning of the year we review letter sounds and I make a BIG deal about the letters that can make 2 sounds and teach the "flip the sounds" strategy. I will refer to this poster and go over these OFTEN!! I am always shocked when I tutor 3rd graders who cannot accurately identify vowel sounds!!
I made a separate poster of the more complex sounds to introduce as we get to them.
I went with a simpler frame to save on ink and I backed it with scrapbook paper. I am a little obsessive about "framing" things like this. I can't stand laminating a plain white page and will often add a "frame" on a math game, etc for my own pleasure even though it totally isn't necessary. I is a sickness.
So what do you think? I am feeling like this may really make a huge difference for my families.
You can start printing and laminating by grabbing your copies in my TpT store. As usual, I'd also like to give a copy to a loyal follower so enter my new giveaway below!
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Congrats to Dana for winning one of my Common Core Assessment Packs in my giveaway that ended yesterday!
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Monday, July 16, 2012

Common Core Assessment Packs now K-3 & Big Brother

I finally finished the 3rd Grade version of my Common Core Assessment pack. Geesh, there were a lot! You can pick up a copy in my TpT store by clicking on the picture.
The thumbnail generator seems to be down at TpT but you can download the preview.

Just like the K, 1, & 2 versions, it includes all the ELA & Math standards. You can read more about how I plan to use these {here} if you missed my previous post. Thanks so much to everyone who has bought them. I am so glad you think they will be helpful!

I am not sure I have as many 3rd grade followers so to try to reach more people I am going to run a promotion giveaway. To enter to win your choice of a K, 1, 2, or 3rd grade Assessment Pack, please spread the word about them with a link back to me on your blog, facebook. twitter, or pinterest. If you don't partake in any of that, you can still enter by telling someone the old-fashioned way. :-)
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Okay, on to Big Brother...
This group is kinda BORING so far! I'm sure part of the problem is that with the coaches, things got strategic right away. Instead of naturally making alliances by friendship the groups were formed for them right away. Plus Big Brother has restricted the alcohol a lot more since that one year they were kinda crazy. I'm not sure why when it would be a sure way to get more interesting t.v.

I had to laugh last night (Showtime) when Janelle, Ian, and Ashley were trying to figure out how many days were in July and couldn't. Seriously?? Too bad Danielle the supposed Kindergarten teacher wasn't in the room. I would have liked to see if they thought to ask her.

Boogie just bugs me. He seems like such a slimeball! Shane weirdly gets little camera time. They say he works out a lot and doesn't drink or smoke.


Sunday, July 15, 2012

Student Info FREEBIE

I got an email from a friend that our class lists were up in our computer system (Infinite Campus) if the setting was changed to the next school year. We usually don't get our list until the week we go back so this is awesome!! I know it could change but I am going to take my chances and start prepping. I have 2 Davids and 2 Nathans. Ugh, I hate that! The student pictures come up with the roster and there are some real cuties!! I am crossing my fingers that this group is a sweet as they look. I'm not sure I would survive another year like last year!

The first thing I did was make lists of important info I need to be aware of like allergies or who goes to speech. I will need to follow up on some of the specifics when I can get into their files. Infinite Campus also provides CELDT results so I was able to tell who my ELs were and their incoming level.

I decided to use the Sticky Note template I shared earlier and transform it into a Student Info sheet for my teacher binder.
 You notice I have no one in RSP. Our district has made qualifying for services almost impossible to save money. It makes me so sad that kids are not getting the help they need because of the almighty dollar.

  I made a blank version that you can download {HERE} if you can use it.
I want to thank those of you who encouraged me to call my vet about my cat. I did and he agreed that the cone was too stressful for Shadow and I could take it off. He said it would probably take longer to heal but she had the antibiotics so it should be okay. She bounced right back to her usual self once the collar was off! Thanks for the support everybody!


Friday, July 13, 2012

Big Brother & My Cat Reality Show

Are there any other Big Brother fans out there? 

What do you think of the new cast? I have to admit I always hope for some romance (like Jeff & Jordan) or at least flirting & sexual tension (Danielle & Nick.) I think Shane is my only hope in that department.

This new Danielle saying she was a Kindergarten teacher instead of a nurse to seem less threatening irritated me. It seemed like she was implying that she didn't want to seem too smart. :-( I hate how people have such a misrepresentation of what we do and the intelligence it takes to be good at it.

Willie should have been more proactive if he didn't want people to know he was related to Russell (Survivor). Instead of acting surprised I would have said, "Yea, people say I look like him all the time.
I felt badly that Jodi got sent home the first night! That PJ game looked HARD.

The veteran coaches is an interesting twist. They were really sharing some awful dirt about Boogie on Showtime After Dark. I was surprised they didn't cut away but I guess he did sign the release.

In my own cat reality show...

Shadow is still not reacting well to the cone. She does nothing but lie still (with her head looking uncomfortable) until something spooks her and she runs around bumping into doorways and eventually dives under a bed. She stays wedged under there the rest of the day not moving. The first night she was so still and quiet I was seriously worried she was dead. The last 2 nights we have had to lift the bed entirely off the frame so I could scoop her out. Then we hand feed her. She won't drink water for some reason which concerns me. She peed a little on the rug and we realized she is so afraid to move she is not making it to the litter box. She smells like pee and of course can't clean herself with the cone. So now we place her in the litter box a couple times a day.

Her wound has bled because she has taken to dragging her butt back rather than walk forward with the cone. I wish they had given us the fabric cone but they said it didn't fit her? I stayed in bed an extra hour this morning because she was laying on me so peacefully I didn't have the heart to disturb her. My husband blocked off our bed so she can't go under it today. We'll see if that works!

 I also need to announce....

Congrats to Cathy Smith, the winner of my VersaTiles Starter Set Giveaway!
That was the first time I used Rafflecopter and I really liked it. Why you ask? (Okay, okay, you didn't but play along...)
1. You set the time for the contest to be over and it automatically closes the entries.
2. It will randomly pick the winner for you so no more having to use the random number generator. This also is good since I no longer have numbered comments.
3. The entries are collected by the widget so you don't get an email for each one. I usually like seeing my comments by email but deleting 500+ for this giveaway wouldn't have been too cool.
4. It is much faster for people ENTERING the giveaway than leaving comments for each one (especially if people still have the annoying word verification setting! Seriously, get rid of it already! You don't need it and it will deter people from commenting.)
5. It is FREE!

Are you unsure about HOW to enter giveaways on Rafflecopter? Click {here} to view a short tutorial.

No, I am not getting anything from the Rafflecopter people, I just like to help out the newbies.

I have been asked many times to make a blogging booklet for beginners. If I did, what kinds of questions do you have that you would like to see answered?


Thursday, July 12, 2012

2 hours left to enter my giveaway!

Did you get all your entries in for my VersaTiles Giveaway? You have less than 2 hours left so get entering HERE.


Wednesday, July 11, 2012

My Poor, Poor Kitty

After our elation of Shadow's return wore off, we realized here wound was worse than we thought. 
It was hard to get a picture but it looked like a chunk was missing so we figured it was an open bite and could get infected.

After an hour and $200 spent at the vet, I now have a completely traumatized cat. They had to shave around her wound and clean it out.

After reading about Kristin's problems getting her dog to take his meds we opted for the antibiotic by shot. They had to put a cone on her to keep her from licking her injury.

When we got home, she jumped out of the carrier and completely went nuts! She started running around the halls, bumping into walls and trying to get under beds. The poor thing is so hating that cone! She finally made it under the couch and wouldn't come out all night. She didn't eat and I couldn't give her any pain meds.

I finally coaxed her out this morning with food. I held the bowl to make sure she could get to it.
Before I could try to get any pain meds into her she freaked out again. When she tries to run down the hall I think the cone must knock on the floor and that makes her skittish. She always did freak out at the sound of plastic bags so I'm sure being surrounded by a plastic cone is torture.

Luckily she couldn't make it under my son's bed when she freaked out today and I got her to stay on it (that is the first picture above.) Even though she looks a little uncomfortable with her head off the bed it has to be better than it being wedged under the couch, barely able to move.

I want to give her pain meds (liquid) but she won't open her mouth and I don't want to force it and have her freak out again. Maybe in a little while I can bring the food bowl back and sneak the dropper in her mouth then.  Or I could be a total wimp and wait until my husband comes home and let him try. What do you think? 
Thank goodness we opted for the antibiotic shot so I didn't have to deal with that, too!

There is still time to enter my VersaTiles Giveaway by clicking {HERE}


Monday, July 9, 2012

My missing kitty is home FLASH SALE!

I am so happy that my missing kitty made it home after 2 full weeks! I had just about given up hope.
That is my son Quinn giving Shadow some love.
 She  has a chunk of hair missing by her tail so the poor thing must have had to defend herself. Otherwise she seems okay so I am wondering if someone took care of her. A few months ago she took her collar off and lost it somewhere but I hadn't worried too much because she stopped going out. Looks like I need to get another one ASAP!

To celebrate I am having a FLASH SALE in my TPT store for 24 hours! My good fortune is your good fortune!  And don't forget to enter my VersaTiles Giveaway by clicking {HERE}


Friday, July 6, 2012

VersaTiles Starter Set Giveaway

Have you heard of VersaTiles? I had heard of them but never seen them in action. The great people over at ETA hand2mind sent me a 1st grade Reading/Language Arts Starter Set to try. I am using it with an incoming first grader I am tutoring this summer and I am a new fan!

The numbered tiles come in a black case with the letter choices on the bottom. As the student chooses the correct answer, he places the number on the letter choice.

We used this book but the starter kit comes with 8 books at different levels of increasing complexity.  My student is still struggling with some of his letter names and sounds so we did the beginning sound picture match the first day.
Here is a sample page

Once all the questions are answered the student closes the lid, flips it over and reopens it. The back of the tiles form a design that the student compares to the answer key at the bottom of the page.
As you can see, he got 2 wrong (yellow & blue reversed.) So the student takes those 2 out, flips it back over, and tries again. My student confused the b & d so you here you see him trying the finger trick.
 Here is a better picture of the finger trick. I have them say, "a, b (hold up the left), c, d (hold up the right.) I like this better than the bed thing because they always have their fingers with them!
After he fixes his mistakes, the student flips it back over to check again. This time he got it right!
VersaTiles are perfect to add as a Daily 5 choice or literacy center. These are exactly the kind of skills I want my students practicing and I don't have to make them! Plus I love the manipulative aspect. The boy I tutor is *very active* and he was completely engaged by manipulating the tiles and closing and flipping the case.  The self-checking immediate feedback is also a big plus. I'd highly recommend this product!

There are also different VersaTiles sets focusing on comprehension strategies, vocabulary, children's literature, even math and science! Check out the ETA hand2mind website to learn more.

The terrific people at ETA hand2mind are offering 1 lucky winner a 1st Grade VersaTiles Reading/Language Arts Starter Set! Enter via Rafflecopter until July 13th at midnight.
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