Thursday, November 20, 2014

Throw Back Thursday: Thanksgiving Fun!

In honor of #ThrowBackThursday which has fully taken over all forms of social media, I'm throwing back to an old post from last year where I shared a fun Thanksgiving activity that was so awesome, we are repeating it again this year! Original post can be found below...

*** Original Post Starts Here ***

First, we begin by reading Turkey Trouble by Wendi Silvano.  You could also read A Turkey for Thanksgiving by Eve Bunting.  Both involve turkeys that don't want to be eaten for Thanksgiving dinner.  There are several other picture books out there, but these are two of my favorites.  Click the links below to purchase them from

After reading one of these picture books, we discuss the plot, point of view, and problem/solution.  There are several graphic organizers in my Thanksgiving ELA Printables pack to use when reading either of these books.  
*** Edited to Add ***
This year we will be reading both books above and comparing/contrasting the story elements in each book using my printables below.

After completing one of the graphic organizers from my pack (there are several that will work), we begin to brainstorm how it would feel if we were a turkey on Thanksgiving Day.  We talk about how we would solve our problem.  The students are assigned the following writing prompt from my November Common Core Writing Unit.  They have to write a letter to try and persuade families to NOT eat turkey for Thanksgiving and provide reasons that support their opinion.

They will have to support their opinion using the following graphic organizers, also included in the unit.

And finally, they will publish their Opinion Piece on differentiated publishing paper, also included in the unit.

You can find all this and more in my November Common Core Writing Pack.  

I hope this fun, seasonal activity helps you tame down the teacher burnout too!  :)

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Bright Ideas Round-Up

Several months ago, a group of bloggers decided to get together and start posting some simple, yet effective Bright Ideas. In these posts, there were no products, no links, no advertising. We just wanted to share nice and easy, simple to implement, Bright Ideas. For the month of November, we are rounding-up some of our old Bright Ideas posts so that you can take a peek at them again and hopefully browse the link-up below to find some more Bright Ideas that you can use NOW in your classroom! We hope you enjoy this round-up of Bright Ideas!

My most popular Bright Ideas post was my post about managing your turn-in tray using clothespins! It was a simple idea, yet one that so many people fell in love with! It's now my #3 most popular blog post on 2nd Grade Stuff. You can go back and read the original post {HERE} or click on the picture below.

My next Bright Idea that was a sure hit was my post about organizing all the never-ending amounts of PAPER in your classroom - How to Avoid Stacks of Paper. This post was one of the most pinned on Pinterest on my entire blog! You can go back and read the original post {HERE} or click the picture below.

I hope you've enjoyed this Round-Up of Bright Ideas and maybe you have found something that you can take back to your classroom and implement immediately! If not, check out MORE Bright Ideas by browsing the links below for thousands of our most popular posts. Enjoy! :)

Friday, November 14, 2014

Take a Peek Inside "Perfect Paragraphs One Step at a Time"

I've had several requests for examples of my Perfect Paragraphs One Step at a Time in action. The example I'm sharing below is a paragraph that we just finished up from my October Edition. As with any writing, the most important thing for a teacher to do is model, model, model. So this is the Perfect Paragraph that we created together as a class while I modeled the process for the students.

My Perfect Paragraph packs come with paragraph templates that are aligned to the Common Core, so the students will be writing Narrative, Opinion, and Informative/Explanatory paragraphs. In each monthly pack, I include 4 paragraph templates, 2 that are seasonal and 2 that are completely generic and can be used at any time of the year. You can check them out below and more will be coming each month throughout the year!

The Perfect Paragraph displayed below is a Narrative paragraph called "A Bad Dream". It was so fun to create this Perfect Paragraph with my students! See the details below.

Narrative: Step One
The first step in my Perfect Paragraph packs is to brainstorm. This is the fun part where the students can come up with many different ideas or details before they actually begin writing. This is what we came up with as a class together while I modeled brainstorming and choosing ONE event for the narrative paragraph.
Narrative: Step Two
The next step in my Perfect Paragraph packs is to write three details. While some may find this confusing to begin in the middle, I think it's super important to write this way as a beginner. The details are the most important part of the paragraph and they're the easiest to write for the students, because the details contain all the good stuff! :)
Narrative: Step Three
The third step in my Perfect Paragraph packs is to write the introduction and the closing statement. I encourage teaching in this order so that your students can see the details first, then choose a good introduction to those details, as well as a good closing for those details. I personally think it's easier for the students to complete the introduction and closing AFTER writing the details. Take a look below.
Narrative: Step Four
The next step in my Perfect Paragraph packs is to put it all together! This is where your students will combine their introduction, details, and closing statements in the correct order! Finally you have a cohesive paragraph! A crucial part of this step is modeling the order in which the sentences should be written. I also remind the students about indenting and spacing in between sentences although I still have the few that try to start each sentence on a new line. :)
Narrative: Step Five
The final step in my Perfect Paragraph packs is to share and discuss. This is where your students will peer-edit each others' paragraphs. This is an important part of the writing process and it also hits those Speaking and Listening Common Core Standards as well! I encourage my students to think together, discuss their thoughts, and develop a plan. You can see what the students decided were my strengths and weaknesses below. The next step is to revise and edit. And then you're done!
I hope this example helps some of you who were wondering exactly what my Perfect Paragraphs One Step at a Time were all about! I appreciate all the support and feedback you all have left on these packs. I plan to continue making the Perfect Paragraphs for each month following the same format. I chose not to switch up the formatting too much (aside from fonts, borders, and clipart) purposely so that your students become familiar with the format and have a good visual for when you begin to move away from the template. Leave me any questions in the comments and I would be happy to answer! Y'all have a great weekend! :)

P.S. I also have an AWESOME giveaway going on right now on my Facebook Page. THREE winners will get to choose ANY one of my November resources from my TPT store. Hop on over and enter to win!

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Teaching in the One iPad Classroom: Part 1

Many schools and districts across the U.S. are moving towards more of a digital approach to teaching and learning. With that being said, many of us are making the transition very slowly, perhaps one iPad at a time. So I had a sweet blogger friend, Nicole from Teaching with Style, ask me for some advice on teaching with one iPad in the classroom. She wanted to know what apps she needed and how to use them with her iPad for instruction. So here you go Nicole and anyone else who is wondering how to teach in a one iPad classroom!

First, you will need some way to stream or mirror your iPad to your computer which is hopefully connected to your Promethean Board or Smart Board. Nicole was fortunate enough to receive an Apple TV to mirror her iPad. My school uses a program very similar called AirServer. It can be found for download {HERE}. Please note that you must pay for the license, but you can download a 7-day free trial to check it out. It basically does the same thing an Apple TV would do, but through your computer that is connected to your board. Your class will be able to see what's on your iPad on your board.

Once you have decided on a way to stream or mirror your iPad's contents, you will swipe up from the bottom of your iPad and choose one of the two options seen below depending on if you're using AirServer or Apple TV.

Next, you will need two different apps. There are many out there, but these are the two that I have found the easiest to use. You will need the Dropbox app and the Notability app. You can download them from the App Store straight to your iPad. Dropbox is an online storage system where you will drop documents that you will need to access on your iPad. You will put the documents into Dropbox using the Dropbox website. Dropbox is free unless you want to upgrade to a bigger storage capacity.

Next you will find the document you want to open in the Dropbox app on your iPad, then click the icon to open the file in the Notability app. See the pictures below.

Once you do the actions above, you will have to import the document into the Notability app next. It will prompt you with the screens below. Just choose "Create New Note" and then click "OK" to import the entire document (all pages) into the app.

If you see it in the list, you've done it correctly! Just tap the document to open it up and scroll through the pages.

If you imported a multi-page document, the first thing you will want to do is find the page you want to write, type, or highlight on. You can do this (more quickly than scrolling) by clicking on the icon in the top right corner to see thumbnails of all the pages in your document. Just touch the page you want to use and it appears!

Once you have found the page, you can touch the icon again to turn the thumbnails off so that the whole page is visible. Then you can have fun playing with the toolbar at the top of the screen for different options. If you choose the pencil, you can write, change colors, change strokes, the thickness of the stroke, etc. If you want to type, you can click the lowercase t icon and choose different fonts, colors, sizes, etc. I often type on the page, because it's difficult to write with neat handwriting on the iPad, even with a stylus. You can see an example of handwriting a few pics down. If you choose the highlighter, you can change colors and width. This is GREAT for marking up text or finding text-based evidence in passages! You can erase by choosing the eraser tool and dragging over what you want to erase. There are lots of options. Just explore them and play around with it to find what you want!

Helpful Tip: If you choose to write on the iPad like the picture shows below, I HIGHLY recommend using a stylus. You can purchase them for around $5-10 at most stores now. You will also want to use the screen by dragging the icon shown in the picture below so that you can rest your palm on the bottom portion of the page while you write. Sliding the screen up makes certain that you don't accidentally write at the bottom or scroll the pages using your palm on accident as you're writing at the top. It will make sense when you play around with it! You will move the screen down as you write further down on the page.

So there you have it - a brief introduction to utilizing technology in a one iPad classroom! I hope this has been helpful. I will be back next week with another idea using the same two apps shown above! So stay tuned! :)

Sunday, October 12, 2014

I'm Back from Fall Break... with a FREEBIE!

This past week was Fall Break for us and I can't tell you how much our family enjoyed it! We didn't go anywhere {purposely}. We just enjoyed sleeping in, being lazy, watching movies, playing outside, and doing, well, not a whole lot really! Just what we had planned!

If you read my last post, you know I took a small break for a little while from blogging, creating, and social media, but I'm back! And I can't think of a better way to celebrate than to offer you a fun little FREEBIE! Don't you agree?

I know many of you haven't reached Fall Break status yet, but if you have, you know that your students will be DYING to tell you ALL the things they did over Fall Break. Well, how about we turn all those fun stories into an authentic piece of writing that meets the standards while killing two birds with one stone. Sound good? I think so!

{Click the image above or click HERE to download for FREE}

I created this fun little Fall Break Writing FREEBIE for you and your students. It contains a narrative writing prompt, a graphic organizer, and publishing papers (with both primary and intermediate lines). I hope you enjoy this little writing activity. If you do, please be so kind as to leave me some sweet feedback in my TPT Store. Please feel free to pin it and share the link to download with your friends! I'll be posting it to my Facebook Page as well!

I also have these other fun, fall products if you're interested! Click on each picture to take you to that listing in my TPT Store.

Enjoy! Happy Fall y'all! :)

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Lost Time is Never Found Again

Hey friends and followers! Today I am writing in a much more serious tone than ever before on this blog. I haven't posted in a very long time and honestly I truly, truly miss it. I miss the sharing, the connecting, the friendships, and the sweet comments from all of you who take the time to read my blog. This post is not teaching related.

I've been a little absent from the blogging world for a little while and I've been barely keeping my TeachersPayTeachers Store current. I can be honest in saying that I have had to step back and find balance in my life. I am a very driven person and when I do something I tend to go all out and give 110%. Many times this has been a good characteristic for me. I've achieved success in many areas of my life for this reason. But then on the other hand, sometimes it takes a toll on me physically, emotionally, and spiritually. I make sacrifices I shouldn't make and put things on the back burner that shouldn't be placed there.

So for a little while, I had to take a stand and change that. I had to prioritize. For me, my #1 priority is and will always be my family and I needed to make sure that I wasn't sacrificing time with them while keeping my plate completely full at all times (as I tend to do). Second was my health and wellness. If you've been following me for a while, you know that I've gotten on quite the fitness/health kick lately. You can see more details of my journey {here}. This was important to me, but once again, I needed to find the balance between the gym, my health, my family, my teaching career, and my blogging/TPT Store.

I haven't posted many new products other than my newest line (Perfect Paragraphs One Step at a Time). I haven't blogged. I definitely haven't been posting on my Instagram account for 2nd Grade Stuff in forever. I haven't even logged on! For that, I am sorry, but then again, I'm not sorry. I am sorry to all of you who depend on us bloggers for inspiration and ideas. I am not sorry for taking the time to find the balance in my life that was much needed. That meant stepping away from the computer and social media for a little while.

The good news is... I'm back! This time around I refuse to lose sleep. There were times in the past that I would try to go, go, go on 3-4 hours of sleep a night and it took a huge toll on my health, which is what lead me to my fitness journey in January. This time around I refuse to sit at the computer for endless amounts of time when in all reality... it can wait or I can finish it later. This time around I will find balance in blogging, while still offering quality ideas, tips, and tricks without my blog being a permanent advertisement for TPT products. This time around I will maintain balance. This is a promise that I'm making to God, myself, my family, and you, my followers.

Thank you for continuing to stick with me while I worked to find this balance that was much needed in my life. This workaholic is going to slow down, enjoy life, prioritize, and share awesome ideas and products with all of you right here on this blog. I'm back and I'm looking forward to reconnecting with each one of you. Thanks for following along.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Five for Friday & a FREEBIE

I have been MIA from the blogging world for a little while as I try to get caught up with LIFE!  This is the last Friday for me before my first full work week next week {sniff, sniff}.  Not sure where my summer went!  I am excited to get my new group of 2nd graders, but I sure am going to miss sleeping in every morning!  To get back in the groove, I'm linking up with Doodle Bugs Teaching for Five for Friday!  Click the button below to join in the fun!

So here are five random things that I've been up to lately!

First, let me tell you how I've spent my summer!  I'll tell you one thing I haven't been doing and that's blogging.  So sorry, my friends.  I needed to prioritize and spend some time with my family without the stress of deadlines and to do lists.  So this is how we spent most of our summer....

First, we went on two {yes you heard me right} TWO beach vacations this year!  The first one was just us three and the second one was with our entire family - in ONE condo!  Haha!  We had some wonderful times and made some unforgettable memories.  We laughed until we cried and I'm pretty sure it was one of the best vacations we've ever been on.  See why I needed to prioritize!  I didn't want to miss out on any memory making this summer.

When we weren't at the beach, we spent our time outdoors.  We are a family of 3 who LOVE the great outdoors!  One of our favorite memories from this summer were the times we spent floating down the local creeks and rivers in our kayaks.  This was the first year that our little boy was able to be in his own boat, so again, there were some awesome memories made.  I love this picture of my boys up ahead.  :)

If you follow me on Facebook, I'm sure you have already downloaded this.  I uploaded a FREEBIE for Back to School!  It's a sample Common Core Writing activity that's all about making friends.  It's perfect for the first few days of school.  The students will write an informative/explanatory piece on how to make new friends.  It includes two graphic organizers and publishing paper (both primary and intermediate lines).  You can find it {HERE} or by clicking on the picture below.  I would LOVE if you left some sweet feedback when you download the freebie! ;)

You can find all of my other Common Core Writing Activities {HERE}.

I have also been super busy getting this new product line ready to post in my TPT Store!  Introducing.... Perfect Paragraphs One Step at a Time: Back to School Edition.  I am SO excited about this new product launch!  I just think it will be so helpful in so many classrooms.  

This product series will give your students a step-by-step guide for writing awesome, detailed paragraphs!  It is Common Core-Aligned for Grades 2-3 so the students will be writing Opinion, Informative/Explanatory, and Narrative paragraphs.  It is simple enough that any student can grasp the concept of writing a good paragraph with an introduction, three details or reasons, and a concluding statement.  It uses a painting analogy that the students can visualize as they are writing their paragraphs.  Included are 2 seasonal paragraphs with a back to school theme and 2 generic paragraphs that can be used any time of the year.  I can't say enough how excited I am about this new product line!  Check it out in my TPT Store {HERE} to get more details.  I will be creating these for every month, so continue to check back in my store!

I also got super busy creating a new product that promotes leadership in the classroom.  Creating Superstars in the Classroom: A Tool to Promote Leadership is a classroom management and classroom job tool that creates a real world simulation in your classroom.  Students will begin to recognize positive behaviors and leadership skills in themselves as well as their classmates.  I think this will be a wonderful addition to your classrooms!  You can find more information in the Product Description in my store (including the entire contents of the product) by clicking {HERE} or on the pictures below!

And finally, last but not least, back to my personal life.  If you follow me on Instagram or my Facebook Page, you might have already discovered that I am quite the fitness freak these days.  I have completely changed my lifestyle and eating habits for the better.  I am in the gym at least 5 days a week and am now into clean eating as far as my nutrition goes.  As of today, I have lost 18 pounds and am not done yet!  In order to keep this journey separate from my teaching blog, Instagram, and Facebook Page, I have created a fitness Instagram account and Facebook Fan Page to highlight and share information regarding all things fitness and food fun!  Both accounts are called Stronger Every Day, because through this journey to fitness and weight loss, I have discovered that not only am I stronger physically every day, but I'm also stronger mentally, emotionally, and spiritually as well.  If you want to join in on my fitness journey, you can come follow me by clicking the links below.  Be prepared for sweaty gym pictures, flexing fun, and before/afters!  :)

Stronger Every Day on Instagram - @strongereveryday3

If you want, feel free to PIN any of the pictures above!

I have enjoyed getting back to blogging.  I hope I've shared a little personal info with you, as well as product info.  I never like my blog to be a straight infomercial for my TPT Store, so I hope I've mixed in a little fun from my personal life in this post too!  Thanks for reading!  Don't forget to click on the Five for Friday Link at the top of the page to join in on the linky or read more Five for Friday posts on Doodle Bugs Teaching Blog.  Thanks!