Friday, July 24, 2015

Growth Mindset - Post #2

I'm blogging over at The Primary Chalkboard today about Growth Mindset.

Hoping you'll hop on over to check it out & download this interactive mini-book freebie...

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

SDE I Teach First - Shared Reading Session Handout

I'm thrilled to be here in Vegas, presenting at SDE for I Teach 1st! My session is called: Digging Deeper into Shared Reading and I'm nervous as all get out, but excited, too!

Growing Firsties

Here's a link to my YouTube channel, where you can view the videos I shared during the presentation, along with a few more. If you find them helpful, please consider subscribing to my channel so you can easily access videos that I add.

Here are the handouts! You can click below to access them from google drive.

If you'd like the Reading At Home & Word Solving Strategies pages super crisp and clean, you can download just those pages by clicking the picture below:
Growing Firsties Beanie Baby Strategies Word-Solving in Reading

Also, if you were at my session, please leave a comment below telling me where you're from! Thank you for coming! 

Make sure to enter this giveaway!!! 

Monday, June 22, 2015

Growth Mindset - Post #1

Several years back, my then-school's then-reading specialist (who was amazing beyond comprehension) taught our staff about Mindset, rooted in the amazing work of Carol Dweck. I bought into it (heck, I bought into anything this amazing woman taught us!) and purchased the book. It influenced a lot of my teaching.

Fast forward to this school year...two talented colleagues are co-leading a professional book study on the same book. I am new to the school and it's been wonderful to connect with staff on this topic.

Update: I have another Growth Mindset post that you can get to by clicking {right here}!

I've also purchased this one and am looking forward to digging into it this summer.

And, in getting ready for this post, I found this one, too!

I've set up a Mindset board on Pinterest. Click the screen snip below to head over and check it out!
gGrowing Firsties

I'll be blogging more about this topic this summer and will be sharing some freebies & even a giveaway, as well! Make sure to stop back!

Monday, January 19, 2015

Working With Writers Who Struggle to Complete Their Writing

I'm a systems girl.

When I don't have a system for something, I muddle around and around and around.

And feel ineffective.

Drives me nuts.

So, I try to develop systems for the "big" parts of my teaching.

Writing Workshop is one of them.

A little background first...our district follows both the reading and writing curricular calendars from Lucy Calkin's Teachers College Reading & Writing Project. We are a "Workshop" district for both Reading and Writing, which I love!

Today I want to share with you a system for keeping track of which writers are writing and which ones need support. It keeps me on track for who I need to be nudging for productivity by checking in on his/her ideas and writing plan.

It also helps me plan mid-workshop interruptions, loud compliments, student goals and mini-lessons.

I'm a bit of an "out of sight, out of mind" kind of girl. Some might call it "visually organized."

That hasn't worked in my favor when I've implemented routines and procedures that have students put their finished work in their writing folders. Some years I tried collecting the folders. #couldntstandthemess

So, I started using this system the last two years, and this year have used it consistently with my class and it's worked well!

Here goes...

After determining the amount of student writing time for the week-ish, I set a target for how many completed pieces writers should be able to finish in that amount of time.

Students hand completed pieces in at the end of the writing workshop time each day as they complete it; I have them hand it in at the end so that they have their work right with them for partner or group sharing time (which we have nearly every single day).

I keep a skinny little class list and a big ol' binder clip handy. When the child hands it in, they set it on top of the "done pile." At the end of the day or of writing workshop (or the next morning...or...or...or) I read their piece and jot instructional notes. If it fits what done is supposed to look like, then I mark a tally mark next to their name and clip it in to the pile.

Currently, done is supposed to include completed editing circles on each page...I love having writers build the habit of revision and editing early on!! The editing circles are RIGHT.THERE. and really seem to help.

Once a writer gets to three tally marks, they are able to choose the genre they'd like to write.

For the sake of ease for grading and conferring, I clip the students work in their classroom number order. As the pile grows larger, it takes a titch longer, but there are generally only 4-8 done pieces each day so it's manageable.

My instructional notes could be about individual nudging for students, whole class mini-lesson opportunities, writer "shout outs," mid-workshop interruptions and also strategy group work I could be conducting soon.

For the particular pile in the picture above, we've been working with informational writing and based on the amount of writing time we had for a certain period, I determined that they should have three pieces completed. Once completed, they could choose to write personal narratives, work in their writer's notebook or do more informational writing. Soon, we'll begin opinion writing and that will be a hoot!

One glance at the tallies helps me know quickly who is struggling to complete their work during the work time (or who might be spending so much time on their illustrations). This helps me know which students to confer with about their ideas and plans for writing. I can also see who, after a nice string of work time over a few days who I might have a strategy group with to discuss how I can help support them to finish their work by using their work time well.

Things happen, though, and I am flexible. A systems girl with choice and flexibility within the system. #otherwiseigocrazytown

What are you wondering about? What have you tried in your writing classroom?

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Free Site for Creating & Publishing Stories

So, I had a plan for this month's Bright Ideas. A product-free, no affiliate links, blog link up where contributors share tips that are helpful for teachers.

Without going into too terribly much detail, let's just say I had a COMPLETELY different post be-bopping around in my head. Took photos to post.

And then...Life Happens. (Camera's with needed pics are left at school. Why didn't I use my phone? Gah.)

Plans change.

Enter my colleagues, Angela and Kate. They are fifth grade teacher bloggers with expertise and experience in personalized learning. They blog over at The T.E.A.M. Togetherness and have loads of great ideas!

Angela shared one with me today.

And now it's my Bright Idea tip for this month. Whew!

Her wonderful student teacher (more an intern) found this amazing and FREEEEEE site called Story Jumper where you can make your own storybooks and publish them online for free and also in paperback ($12.95) or hard cover ($24.95) REAL BOOKS.

You don't HAVE to publish can share them online for free.

Talk about motivating!!!! It looks like you can use them as a fundraiser for your school, too. #nomoreexpensivegiftwrap

Authors create the graphics using the tools on the site or pictures can be uploaded and used as the illustrations.

There are many examples on the site to read and a great tutorial about how it works.

My mind is spinning with how I can make it work with my first graders, since they don't keyboard....but I'm motivated for sure!!! I'm kind of thinking I'd get parents involved with typing and taking/uploading pictures of books their children have written in class.

Yet, creating right on the site seems so fun, too!!

Would LOVE to hear if you've used the site!!!

If you enjoyed this post, please consider following me on Facebook, Teachers pay Teachers, and/or Pinterest! There are LOTS of other Bright Ideas for you to read about from bloggers...make sure to check them out below!

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

LASIK Adventure & TpT Sale


(I hope those extra i's and !'s come across as me saying an enthusiastic, I missed you, kind of hi and not a shouting at you obnoxious hi! 'Cuz I really do think about you as real people, even though we haven't met in person!)

Here's a whirlwind tour of my last week....

Me....wearing glasses during the day and on an actual holiday (Christmas Eve) for the first time since FIFTH GRADE....

I needed to wear them for about a month before....
Heading in for my LASIK appointment Monday afternoon!!! EEEEEEE!!! The time had come to deal with my -8.00 vision....messing around with glasses and contacts for over 30 years was getting OLLLLD. So was not being able to see the alarm clock above me on my head board. So many layers to the annoyance of dealing with contacts, solutions, glasses...I was o.v.e.r.i.t.

So over Thanksgiving break I made the appointment to see if I was even a candidate (don't you always schedule ALL your appointments over breaks and then run from appt to appt? Oy.)...and I was - SOOO happy...cuz my eyes were so bad I was worried I wouldn't be.

Turns out they go to -10.00 and up to +2.00 for LASIK nowadays, in case you're wondering. (I guess far-sightedness is a different process and they have good results at smaller correction numbers.)

To say I was fuh-reaking out inside would be an understatement. As the day and time got closer and closer I was getting more and more nervous. Terrified, even. Once I arrived for the appt, I can't even quite describe the was like my heart was in my throat. Super emotional.

The Valium helped with that.

A lot.

The actual process of being under the lasers was actually quite cool!! Very techno and space-alien like at such close range. The staff was incredible and explained everything step by step beforehand and during. I couldn't have asked for a more positive experience, truly! And that's not the Valium talking!! They truly had anticipated and prepared me for everything. Chart for taking drops...carrying case for the sunglasses...sleeping pills and pain pill in an envelope labeled nice and large...really, they did EVERYTHING so professionally!!!

I could tell immediately, even though I had extra fluid under my "flap" that my vision was already greatly improved! So exciting!

Here's me...when I'd...
Do ya love my glasses?? I think I forgot to smile because I'm pretty inept at selfies. :-)

My family drove me home, I took my sleeping pill when I was 10 mn out and slept the rest of the day and through the night. No pain pill needed.

Yesterday was Day 1 Post-Op...I was still fuzzy and my left eye wasn't seeing as clearly as my right eye so it was kind of weird...I often covered my left eye to see what I needed to more clearly. At the post-op appt, the doctor shared that it is likely due to inflammation and time will improve it. And that I need to stay on schedule with the various drops.

After the post-op I took my family to breakfast and then we went ottoman shopping...Clearly, that was my kids favorite part of the day. Ha!!

Today is day 2 post-LASIK and my eyes are better than yesterday! I can't shake the feeling that I'm wearing contacts and need to remove's such an amazing and new feeling to NOT be using something to correct my vision!!

I owe a huge thanks to Teachers pay Teachers - TpT, along with a silly mistake I made putting money into Limited FSA instead of my HSA, is how I've paid for my Lasik. I couldn't be more grateful to TpT for the friendships I've made, the confidence I've gained, the time I've saved using the purchases I've made, and, yes, the extra pocket-book padding. TpT leadership is incredibly supportive and positive - SUCH "good people" and I'm so grateful every day!!!

With that said, and speaking of friends, my peeps and I from the Primary Chalkboard are throwing a sale today and tomorrow!

You can stock up on some of these items from my store (individually or in bundles) and check out everyone else's sales, too!

You can link up with the Chalkies if you're throwing a sale, too!!