Sunday, April 19, 2015

I Teach K Conference Giveaway! 4 Days, 2 Winners!

Our school year is nearing an end so we should be thinking about summer, but I am actually thinking about next year.  One of my FAVORITE ways to get pumped about the new school year, is by attending the SDE conference in July.  There are so many fabulous presenters and I always get so excited to get into my classroom and lay the groundwork for a new year!  This will be my third year having a booth in the exhibit hall and my second year presenting at the conference.  I am giving away two tickets into the conference.  Each four day registration is valued at $599 - making this one of my biggest giveaway EVER!  Woo-Hoo!

Here are the details:
The conference will be in Las Vegas, July 6-9.  It is held at the Venetian.  Have you been to the Venetian?  It is heaven!!!

Could this get any better???

Okay, we probably won't actually go on the gondola together, but I couldn't resist making this goofy picture.  If you do win (and I am crossing my fingers for YOU), please stop by and visit me in the exhibit hall.  I would love to say hi and get a picture with you.  

OK!  Finally time to enter!  Good luck!  
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Sunday, March 29, 2015

Viva Las Vegas Giveaway from The Primary Chalkboard

 Can you picture it now?  YOU in LAS VEGAS? 

How about YOU in LAS VEGAS attending a one day session of the SDE conference?

Primary Chalkboard is giving away YOUR CHOICE of a 1 day session at SDE!

So, will it be Singapore Math, Differentiated Instruction, I Teach K, I Teach 1st, or the newly added I Teach 2nd? 

How fun is that?

BUT, that's not all, we're also including a $25 gift card to the SDE bookstore, CRYSTAL SPRINGS.

So, NOW can you picture YOURSELF in VEGAS?

Oh, you say you need money for airfare, hotel accommodations, or just some spending money while you are here?  Well, we've got that covered, too.  How about  
to help you out with that?!?!?

NOW, can you picture YOURSELF in VEGAS?

Here's how to enter for a chance to win.

Hop through our Facebook pages and collect a tip for your (possible) visit to Vegas.
Be sure to "like" each page as you hop through so that you can collect the tip.
Each tip will have a number on a playing card.
Add the numbers together and enter the sum  on the Rafflecopter on the Primary Chalkboard blog for a chance to win.
Be sure to add a comment and include #primarychalkboardsendmetovegas.

For an extra chance to win this, take a selfie, post it on IG with #primarychalkboardsendmetovegas 
Don't forget to tag us in your picture! @primarychalkboard

The winner will be picked on April the evening of April 5th.

A HUGE thank you to SDE (Staff Development for Educators) for their kind and generous donation!

Wednesday, March 25, 2015


Today was my third day back from school since spring break.  I didn't even realize how  much I missed my sweet kiddos until I saw them on Monday morning.  I have some great kids this year.  I came to school SO excited about No Worksheets Wednesday and it did not disappoint!

We are getting ready for our standardized tests.  BORING!  I absolutely hate test prep!  That is why I made a MOVE IT especially for test prep.  This PowerPoint shows questions similar to those that the kids will see on the big test.  My kiddos use dry erase boards to show me their answers.  I love this because I can do an immediate assessment and give feedback.  After we do a few questions, we get out of our seats and MOVE IT!  The theme of this MOVE IT is "Test Prep is Awesome".  Guess what?  It really is!  Brain breaks have animated timers and music.  We walk around and high five our awesome classmates and tell them "You are awesome!"  We also do lazy 8s and an elbow-knee cross crawl inspired by brain gym.  Pretty awesome, right?

This is SO-O-O-O much more fun than the boring test prep we used to do!  It took a ton of copies to prep sheets out of my old resource book.  Now, our test prep takes NO materials.  Click here to see 1st grade ELA MOVE IT and click here to see 1st grade Math MOVE IT.

In math we are reviewing geometry and are working on slides, turns, and flips.  We tossed our workbook page for a fun hands-on project.  OH YA!!!  That's what I'm talking about!   

 I gave my kiddos a bunch of pattern blocks and three sheets of white paper.  They wrote "slide", "flip", and "turn" on the pages.  Next, they traced the pattern blocks to create their own slides, flips, and turns.
I stapled the three finished pages together to form a triangle and hung them from the ceiling.  (Wall space is minimal in room 203, so we do lots of hanging art!)  I love making these triangular mobiles because they are SO easy.  As an added bonus, when the AC kicks on, they start spinning!  My firsties had WAY more fun with this project than they would have with the workbook page and got a lot more practice than they would have with the pencil and paper.

Today was a great day in my room and I am so grateful to be able to share it with you.  Thanks for reading.

Until next time,

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

3 Fun Ideas for No Worksheet Wednesday (Week 2)

Today was the easiest "No Worksheet Wednesday" ever!  I am on spring break and I was not even tempted to bust out a worksheet.  Hahaha!  Even though I am on break, I still wanted to participate in the linky.  I am going to share a new idea and a couple oldies but goodies.  Here are three fun worksheet-free ideas:

1) Interactive Hundreds Charts
I have made a bunch of interactive charts that work on your smartboard or projector.  There are a few different themes and skills, but I just made a new one today and am offering it for a limited time as a freebie in my TpT store so I definitely wanted to share it with you today.  This chart has a fun St. Patrick's Day theme.  You click on a pot of gold to make it disappear and reveal a number on the chart.  There are SO many uses for these tools and they are all worksheet free!  You can start clicking from the beginning to practice counting or start clicking at the end to practice counting back.  Click a random pot and challenge students to find the number that is 10 more/10 less and 1 more/1 less than your number.  Find patterns in the numbers and the colors of the numbers.  Can you predict what color a number will be before you reveal it?  To download my St. Patrick's Day Interactive Hundreds Chart Freebie, click here!

2) Read My Mind
This is one of my favorite math games!  Kids work with partners.  One player takes a card and holds it to his forehead (without looking at it).  The other student must give clues for the guesser.  There are lots of different ways to play this game.  I found cards to a game called "Big Fish, Little Fish" at the dollar store.  They have two-digit numbers and I HAD to have them!  We use these cards and regular playing cards.  Sometimes we play "Ten More and Ten Less".  The clues are "Your number is ten more than 47."  Place Value clues include "Your number has 3 tens and 9 ones".  We can use a regular deck of cards to reinforce tens partneres, "Your partner is 6.  What is your number?"  We use math facts.  "Your number is 6 + 3".  I like this game because it gets both partners thinking and communicating.

3)  Dolch Speed Read
I have heard many times that a creative mind means a messy desk.  I choose to believe that this is the cause of my extreme disorganization.  I love using my board because it means less STUFF in my room.  A few years ago, I tossed my flash cards and started making flash cards for my board.  This is SO much better because they are always where they are supposed to be.  Flash cards for the board can also be way more fun and exciting than traditional flash cards.  Plus, the kids can actually see them!  I made "flash cards" focusing on the Dolch words.  There are different themes for each month.  The words get faster and faster, making this loads of fun for my kiddos.  I have also used different fonts and the words appear in a different order each time.  Here is a video of my kiddos using March Dolch Speed Read.  To see my Dolch Speed Read sets on TpT, click here.

 I can guarantee you that I will be using absolutely NO WORKSHEETS next Wednesday either!  (We have that week off as well!)  I look forward to writing about more worksheet-free ideas and using them when I get back to my kiddos.  Thanks for reading and have a great week!

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

No Worksheet Wednesdays - Week 1

I am SO excited about The Primary Chalkboard's No Worksheet Wednesday linky!  Here are a few of the reasons why worksheets are not really my thang:
1.  Think of the trees!  I literally cannot believe how much paper my school goes through every year.  When I think of all the paper in all the schools, I cannot imagine the waste that is created.
2.  Less papers means less grading!  Let's face it, teachers have enough to do without adding hours of grading in the evenings and weekends.  I ALWAYS prefer to use activities that allow me to immediately assess and give feedback.  I feel like this is so much more effective and more fun for both my students and myself.
3.  Worksheets are SO boring!  When we ditch the worksheets, we are able to have hands-on fun!

Here are some of the fun things we did on our first No Worksheets Wednesdays:

One of my LEAST favorite things to teach is handwriting.  I feel like no matter how many times I say it, show it, reinforce it, those darn kids just do it however they want!  A couple years ago, I got so frustrated that I thought maybe my Smart board could help me with this boring task.  I made a few handwriting videos.  They use fun animations and sound effects to show correct letter strokes.  This set comes with worksheets for practice, but today, I ditched to worksheets for a new approach!  I put on a space alien themed handwriting video and gave all my kids UFOs (finger flashlights) to fly over the letters.  I turned out the lights and we flew our UFOs all the way from A-Z.  My kids have done lots of writing in the air, but the finger lights made it WAY more fun!  (And room 203 likes to have a fun time!)  Could you do this without the video?  Sure!  What I like about the video is that there is a sound for each letter stroke.  I encourage my kids to make silly noises as we write the letters.  This helps reinforce correct formation.  The video is a great visual for kids to SEE how letters are formed.  I love doing handwriting this way.  It incorporates so many learning modalities.  To see all my handwriting videos on TpT, click here.  Check out this video of our handwriting in action!

In math, we are working on geometry.  Our workbook page for today had the kids reviewing solid figures.  Instead of pencils and paper, we used play-doh!  How stinkin' fun is that?  I called out solid figures and the kids built them.  When they were finished, I asked them to show me attributes of the figure (point to a vertex, show your shoulder partner a curved surface, how many edges does your figure have, etc.)  We had SO much fun!  This was also a great way to review flat and curved surfaces because we needed to use the table to create flat surfaces and our hands for curved surfaces.  When we started, I demonstrated techniques to help build figures.  For cones, we rolled the play-doh between our hands then smooshed it on our desks to create a flat bottom.  For pyramids, we discussed how the shape is similar to a cone, but pyramids have flat surfaces on the sides.  We made a cone, then smooshed the sides on the desk.  After we had done several examples figures together, I had them quiz their shoulder partners.  This was a really fun math lesson and we definitely learned more about figures than we would have with our workbook pages.

I can't wait for next Friday!
Link up your hands-on pictures with us over at The Primary Chalkboard by clicking HERE. :) We hope you join us for all, or even at least one, No Worksheet Wednesdays! :)

Monday, February 23, 2015

Super Sale and a Super Giveaway!

Hello friends!  I have some SUPER news!  It is time for another TpT sale.  The sale begins on Wednesday.  Everything in my store will be 20% off and you can use promo code HEROES to save an additional 10%.  This sale is to celebrate teachers and honor you for the heroes you are.  Yep!  Go ahead and give yourself a pat on the back.  You deserve it for all you do.  I am a serious shopper.  Whenever there is a sitewide sale, I always like to prepare so I get the most bang for my buck.  I am going to share some of my tricks with you.

1)  Earn TpT credits by leaving feedback!
Go through all your previous purchases and make sure you have left feedback.  You can use your points to save even more off the sale prices.  It is easy to see what items you have not left feedback for.  Just go to "My Purchases" and then sort items by "Needs Feedback".  SO easy and this could save you big time!
2)  Go through your wishlist.
This is the time to clean out that wishlist.  Maybe you put something on there and you have changed your mind.  Maybe you put something wonderful on there and forgot all about it.  This is the time to prioritize and snag products while they are discounted.

3)  Plan ahead!  
Site-wide sales don't come around often.  Think of all the things that will be coming up...Read Across America, Test Prep, St. Patrick's Day, Spring, End of the Year.  This is the time to stock up for things you know you will need in the future.

I want to show you some of the new things I have in my store.  I have added some great management tools since the last sale.  If you don't have these, you should check them out.

This set is perfect for working on sustained silent reading.  Check out this video to see a preview of it in action.  

This set includes a variety of themes and I will keep adding more until I get themes and holidays for the entire year.  It currently has:
St. Patrick's 
Click here to check out Reading Stamina Timers and Tools in my store.

This set already includes 50 themes to keep student behavior on-track and it keeps growing!  I will keep adding themes to this set until it reaches the maximum file size allowed on TpT.  I use these EVERYDAY with my kids.  We use the build tools while I run reading groups.  We use the take away tools at clean-up.  These were too of the worst times of the day for me and now they are a breeze.  I can literally praise and correct behaviors without saying a word.  This is a MUST!  To read more about Classroom Management Life Savers, click here.  To add them to your wishlist, click here.

I am LOVING these with my kiddos!  We are having fun, getting some exercise, and learning.  My firsties are going to breeze through multiplication because they can skip count fluently.  I like to use the yoga themes when we need to calm down and relax. The Move games are fun when we have some extra wiggles we need to get out or when we can't go out for recess.  Click here to see the Yoga Skip Count and click here for Skip Count and Move.  

 Some of my friends over at The Primary Chalkboard and I have decided to do a giveaway.  We are each giving away a $20 Tpt gift certificate.  Enter my raffle to enter then hop over to some of the other bloggers who are participating.

2 Brainy Apples 
Out of this World Literacy
Teaching and Much Moore
Growing Firsties
Chalk One Up for the Teacher
Surfin Through Second

Good luck and happy shopping!
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Saturday, January 10, 2015

Writing Workshop with a Techie Twist

CONFESSION: I used to really struggle with writer's workshop.  I had a hard time meeting with all my kids and managing the herd while I met with small groups.  I hated writing prompts on my bored.  I would forget which prompts I had already used.  It was boring.  I had good intentions, they just didn't work out very often.  Well, since I have started incorporating technology, my writer's workshop is super easy to manage.  I meet with all my kids on a regular basis, and have no issues with managing the class while I do it.  Want to know my secret?  Here it is!

Materials for my writers workshop are:
Stickers cut into groups of 4-6.
Craft sticks with numbers (one side red and one side green)
Writing journals
PowerPoint Prompts

I start off by making journals for each of my students.  I make a new journal each month and include enough pages to give us one page for each school day.  My school buys a TON of primary lined story paper each year, so I use that with construction paper for a cover.  I have created journal pages to make your own journals if your school does not provide lined paper.  These are included in my PowerPoint Prompts.

While my kids are out at afternoon recess, I just open my PowerPoint Prompts.  I have a prompt for every day of the month.  I click on the number that matches the date.  This ensures that I don't repeat or forget which prompts I have used.  I have also included random prompts that go with holidays and themes during the month.  I did this to make my journal prompts more versatile.  Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday is January 15th, but you might want your class to write about it on the Friday before, the Tuesday after, or any other time it fits!

Another thing that I love about using PowerPoint Prompts is that they are much more engaging than a prompt written on the board.  I have included a variety of topics and writing skills.

These PowerPoint Prompts also have built-in quiet music.  You can choose to play the music or not.  This is a totally versatile tool!
As soon as my kids get back in the room and see the prompt on the board, they know to take out their journals and get busy writing.  This is a quiet, independent work time.  They are not allowed to ask for help with spelling.  Sounding words out independently reinforces phonics skills and makes them more confident writers.  I encourage them to use their dictionaries, but they can't ask me or classmates for spelling help.  I give my kids about 20 minutes to work on writing then they leave their journals on their desks and come to the rug.
I choose a stick from my cup and that student must share with the class.  They bring their journal up and read it to the class.  Next, I put it under my document camera and we critique it as a class.  The document camera lets the whole class see the writing on the board!  When I started this, I was worried that my beginning writers would be embarrassed or that kids might be mean to each other.  I was really careful about how I set it up and just the opposite has happened.  They are super supportive of each other and always proud to share.  We always find some things we like about the writing and some things for the student to work on.  This public sharing really motivates the kids to work hard and use their time wisely.  Once I started using the document camera, I saw a HUGE improvement in their handwriting!  They want to impress their classmates.  Everybody gets positive feedback even if it is "I like your picture" or "I like the way you did a lot of writing".  The kids are always kind to each other.  I love the way that this brings the class together and helps us feel like a community.  They see that they all have things to work on and things that they all do well.  We each have our strengths and weaknesses and we can help each other.  Some kids have incredible creative thinking skills, but need to work on using their dictionary for spelling sight words correctly.  Some kids have beautiful handwriting but need to work on punctuation.  I always guide the conversation and ensure that there is plenty of praise and just the right amount of critique needed to encourage and motivate without putting anyone down.  The document camera allows the whole class to discuss writing in an authentic and purposeful way.  It keeps the whole group engaged and participating - which means I am not trying to keep them busy while I work with small groups!

I have goals for writing.  My school does report cards every six weeks.  (BOO!)  The first six weeks of school, I want them to master one sentence.  Every day when we journal, their goal is one sentence.  I want a capital, punctuation, and it makes sense.  The second six weeks, we are working on two sentences.  We continue increasing our writing goals until the end of the year when we are writing paragraphs with a minimum of six sentences.  If the student who is sharing has completed our writing goals, they get a sticker on their journal.  I will make corrections and write notes while we are critiquing under the camera.  If students do an exceptional job, I call this "second grade writing" and they get two M&Ms.

More about the stickers -
The reason that I cut stickers into small groups, is because it helps me regulate how many students I am choosing.  I tend to try to choose too many and they get bored with it.  BORED = NAUGHTY!  Don't make that mistake.  By only picking 4, 5, or 6 students, they stay interested and look forward to our writing time.
More about the sticks -
I have had the same set of sticks for years and years.  I wrote numbers on the sticks (my kids all have an assigned number).  I painted one ond of the sticks red and the other side green.  I start with all the sticks green side up, red side down.  I remember that green means "GO".  Go ahead and pick them!  Red means "STOP".  Stop you have already picked them!  I pick a green and flip it over.  This helps me choose every student every week.  Once all the sticks are showing red, I flip them back to green and start over.  

 Here are a couple examples of our actual writing journals.  The prompt was "Would you rather paint or run?"  The student on the left knew that he needed help spelling exercise and could so he used his dictionary for those words.  He thought he could spell want and and, so he did not use the dictionary for these words.  We talked about that in our critique.  We also talked about reading over your work to make sure it really says what you want it to say.  He forgot a couple words, but he thought he had written them.  It wasn't until he read this to the class that he realized he left them out.  Our critique needs to be positive so we always find things we like and praise, praise, praise!  This kid was trying and there were lots of things he did right.  We recognized those things and gave plenty of compliments.  One student commented on how she liked the way he labeled his picture.  Another said they liked the way he used nice spaces between his words.  I want all my kids to leave writer's workshop feeling successful.
The student on the right is a more proficient writer than the one on the left.  At this point in the year, we are working on three sentences, but I would consider this "second grade writing" because I would be happy to send this kid to second grade with these skills.  While his writing is really good, we still find things for him to work on.  This creates a feeling of equality in my little writers and helps prevent them from feeling inadequate or boastful.  We said we liked the interesting words the student on the right used.  He will "draw a master piece" and be "famous".  We like how he chose to write the letters FUN in all capitals.  It was a great opportunity to talk about why he chose to do this.  When I asked why he did this, he said he liked how Robert Munsch used all capitals in some of his writing.  What a great opportunity for the whole class to hear one of their peers say something so inspiring!  This would not happen with my old small group writer's workshop.  What does this kid need to work on?  We gave him the goals of writing more!  He is ready for more sentences!  He had the word went instead of want and noticed this when he read to us so we also gave him reread as something to work on (the same goal as the first student).
This has been an amazing solution to writer's workshop.  It is so easy to manage and allows me to meet with every student every week.  The best part is, the kids love it!  This is by far my easiest block of time each and every day.  It allows me to assess my students and give them feedback with almost no prep!  LOVE THAT!  This year, I am creating four bundles of PowerPoint Prompts to use with writer's workshop.

Here are the links to the bundles I have in my store:

I have made a short demo video that shows how easy it is to use this resource:

Until next time,