Saturday, October 18, 2014

Bright Idea: Using Google Docs to Schedule Conferences

Welcome to the Bright Ideas Blog Hop!
This month, I wrote a step-by-step tutorial on how to use Google Docs to easily and painlessly schedule your parent/teacher conferences. 

No more emails back and forth.

 No more reminder notes sent home. 

No more hassle.

I promise! 

Just follow the steps outlined below and you will no longer fear scheduling conferences. 

You do need to create a google drive account, which most people already have anyway if you use gmail or store your files in google drive.

To begin, go to your google drive page.

It may seem like a lot of steps, but it takes just a few minutes from start to finish. Remind the parents that they CANNOT edit the document from their mobile device. I believe there is an app they can download, but I just told my parents to use their computer to edit the schedule.

I hope you enjoyed my Bright Idea!
You can find many, many more ideas by clicking on the link up below! Have fun!

Monday, October 13, 2014

Interactive Notebooks: It's not just cutting and gluing!

I honestly do not know what I would do without interactive notebooks. These notebooks are so much more than just cutting and gluing.

If you are using interactive notebooks, you have probably figured out by now that your students are always 100% engaged during your lessons. They take great pride in their notebooks and they are a valuable learning tool.

If you haven't read this blog post yet, please click on the link. It is filled with many helpful hints to ensure success.

The RIGHT side of the notebook is meant for guided learning. This is where we work together, with our students, to learn new concepts. For young students, who are not quite ready for typical note-taking, this is where they will cut and glue fun shapes that contain valuable information. They'll fold, lift flaps, and stick stuff in pockets. 

Your students will quickly learn that they need to pay close attention to the directions or they will risk cutting off a valuable piece of information. They will not be happy if this happens! 

Once you and your students have completed the activity on the RIGHT side of the notebook, it is time for them to interact with this new information on the LEFT SIDE. This is where they will show their understanding of the concepts just introduced and give them an opportunity to apply it. Older students should come up with their own way to interact with the new information. Younger students need a bit more guidance.

Here are some examples of how my students process the new information on the LEFT side of their notebooks...
Students defined the characteristics of a fable. 
They had to find this information in the text.

Students chose their favorite character from the story and wrote why they liked him/her. 

This is the same as the activity above. However, it was completed later in the school year, so the children were asked to cite specific evidence from the story. (The word men is actually the word mean! LOL!)
Students used color and number adjectives to describe a noun. 
They were told to come up with their own adjectives and not to just copy them from the right side. 

Students wrote and illustrated their own verb. 

Student's came up with their own possessive noun phrases.

Students used one of the words from the right side in a sentence. We learned about complete sentences the same week, so they were also applying that new knowledge in this activity.

I dictated the words on the left for the children to write. They used the words on the right to help spell them correctly. For example, in the second one, I said "Rack. Change the vowel sound in a word on the right to make rack."

So, as you can see, there are many, many different ways to help your students process their new knowledge. Without this crucial step, interactive notebooks are just cutting and gluing. This is definitely fun to do, but certainly NOT what makes an interactive notebook interactive. 

Just remember...

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Custom T-Shirt Mega GIVEAWAY from Freebielicious

Every once in a while,  the girls at Freebielicious discover a really awesome product for classroom teachers that is so amazing, we just have to share it with you! Today is one of those days! Get ready because we are hosting a super cute giveaway for custom classroom t-shirts from We will be giving away a class set* of custom t-shirts to THREE lucky Freebielicious fans! Isn't that amazing? 

These are NOT your average t-shirt designs. The people at ClassroomFaces are so creative, they found a way to print a collection of drawings from every child in the class on the set of t-shirts, to create a truly custom design! Nobody else in the world will ever have a t-shirt exactly like the one your class designs. The website may be called "Classroom Faces" but there are SO many more options for children to draw than just their face. Sample designs on the website show creative ideas using student handprints or drawings of the school mascot.

Since the Freebielicious girls are such good friends, we designed our very own set of Classroom Faces t-shirts. We enlisted the help of our talented friend (and fellow Freebie gal) Nikki from Melonheadz to create custom drawings of each of our faces. The finished t-shirts were absolutely ADORABLE! I love my new custom Freebielicious t-shirt from Classroom

About Classroom Faces

Creating a class set of t-shirts featuring your students' drawings is easy. Each child just needs to create a simple drawing. To create t-shirts with one-color ink on a solid colored t-shirt (like ours) each child needs to draw their picture using a fine point black marker. The ClassroomFaces website has downloadable templates that you can use to guide your students. Full-color illustrations on a plain white t-shirt are also possible. 

Extra Savings for Freebielicious Fans

Freebielicious fans who order a class set of t-shirts can save $1 on each t-shirt and receive 1 free teacher t-shirt with their order using promo code FREEBIE14. Orders must include 15 or more paid shirts to qualify and must be postmarked by December 31, 2014

Enter to WIN a Class Set of Custom Classroom Faces T-Shirts

Now that you have seen how ADORABLE these t-shirts are, it's your chance to try and win a set for your classroom. The wonderful people at ClassroomFaces are graciously giving away a class set* of custom t-shirts to 3 lucky Freebielicious fans! Each set is valued at over $250. Stop by the Freebielicious blog for your chance to WIN! 

*Up to 24 t-shirts will be included in each prize pack. Winner can choose to order a class set of traditional single-color t-shirts or t-shirts will full-color illustrations. Additional t-shirts can be purchased for $11 or $13 (depending on t-shirt size and style). Shipping is free for winners who live in the US. If a winner requires shipping outside of the US, the winner is responsible for shipping costs. (Shipping to Canada costs between $5-$20 depending on weight and location). 

Good luck everyone!
Here's a peek at some of my Freebielicious friends in their shirt!

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Pumpkin Writing Bulletin Board

For the second year in a row, my students LOVED making these silly pumpkins. I got the idea last year from Doodle Bugs Teaching.

This year, I decided to add a writing component. First grade was working on adjectives for two weeks, and it was very easy to describe these silly pumpkins! 

The lesson was very specific. The first sentence introduced the pumpkin by giving him/her a name. The second sentence described the color and size or shape of the pumpkin. The third sentence was all about the number of teeth the pumpkin has. The fourth sentence described the pumpkin using one word only. And the last sentence told how the pumpkin made you feel.

We are working very hard on writing complete sentences, so we only wrote one sentence at a time, making sure to start with a capital letter and end with punctuation. Each sentence had to make sense too, and only include one thought. This is really tough on young writers! 

These kinds of directed writing lessons really help the children write proper sentences and not just one, long, run on! In between writing each sentence, we brainstormed words we can use in our sentences.

This is the writing template we used. 
Feel free to grab it for yourself by clicking the image below.

I do these kinds of directed writing lessons often because they really help the children learn how to write an organized paragraph. I find that the children begin to write this way on their own after a few modeled lessons.

If you are looking for ways to do these types of modeled writing lessons in your classroom, you should check out my Writing through the Fall pack.

After a few of these, your students will be able to write an organized paragraph. Even on their own!

Friday, September 26, 2014

Work on Writing for Little Learners

Do you find it REALLY hard to find writing activities for kindergarten and first grade students to do on their own at work on writing? They need sooooooo much support right now, right? 

Well, I  always rely on my Writing Station Activities for Young Learners pack to help me out.

I recently updated the pack and added a lot, and I mean A LOT of new writing activities.

Here is something I did this week with kindergarten. 
First, we read this cute book...

Then, we worked together to do this...

The children circled their 4 favorite pets on the bottom and used each one in a sentence. The sentence only contains 3 words. They already learned how to spell I and like because those are 2 of the first sight words introduced this year. And the third word is written on the bottom, along with a picture. They can't help BUT be successful! I modeled how to do this one because it was our first one, but my updated Writing Station Activities for Young Learners pack contains a lot of these and I think the children will be able to do the next one on their own.

Here are some images of what is now included in this updated pack...

If you already purchased this product, then you are in luck! All you have to do is download it again.

Here's some more great news! I'm doing a facebook FREEBIE hop with some of my best blogging buddies on Saturday and Sunday, and you can download TWO of the activities from this pack for FREE! Be sure to check out it out. The freebies will ONLY be offered on Saturday and Sunday and then they go bye-bye!

Here's a sneak peak of one of the freebies!

You'll have to wait until tomorrow to see the other one!
See you soon!

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Teachers pay Teachers Gift Card Giveaway!

I’m so excited to be teaming up with my favorite freebie-friends for a BIG giveaway to help get you going this school year! Over at our Freebielicious blog, we’re giving away a BIG, GRAND PRIZE (scroll down to the bottom of this post to read all about it!) and right here on my little blog, I’m giving away $25.00 to my favorite store to go school shopping: Teachers pay Teachers!

Teachers pay Teachers is my favorite place to shop for all the clip art, fonts, border, and digital paper I need to help me create my classroom activities. I also shop there for products that I need for my students. I used to shop at my local teacher store, but Teachers pay Teachers has definitely put an end to that. I'd much rather buy from other teachers and help support the teaching community. 

If you're needing to do some back to school shopping, I've got you covered with a chance to win a $25.00 gift card to Teachers pay Teachers! Woo hoo!

Please enter, with integrity, using the rafflecopter below.
I'll choose a winner a week from today.

Congratulations to Latoya!
You won my giveaway!
I just emailed the gift card to you!
a Rafflecopter giveaway
But, wait! That’s not ALL!
The Freebielicious ladies know how much of your own hard-earned money goes into buying supplies, tissues, books, and classroom décor to get your classroom “kid-ready,” and we want to be able to put some of that money right back in your pocket. Over at the Freebielicious blog, we are giving away a $300 Visa gift card! 


To enter the BIG GIVEAWAY, click HERE or on the button below!

Also, while you are there, be sure to check out what the other Freebie-ladies are giving away. Be prepared for some AMAZING prizes. Take a peek at some of them below!

Scholastic Teacher Book Wizard