Monday, March 30, 2015

DOLLAR SALE!!! Ninja Bunnies are loose in my TPT store! They are chopping prices like crazy!

Ninja bunnies have snuck in to dozens of TPT stores and are chopping prices like crazy!   

Check out all of the $1 sales in the links below!

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Spring Teacher Blogger Meet-Up -- Weekend in Review Linky!


That is the word that I'm using to describe the weekend I recently spent with 120 of my blogging besties!

 Imagine a giant ballroom filled with educators from around the country who chose to be there on their own dime and own time.   Educators who are so devoted to being the best teachers they can be, that they spend their “free time” collaborating with other top educators through blogging and professional development events.  Teachers overflowing with creativity.  Educators who create their own incredible teaching resources and share them with others in order to make a difference for kids across the world. 

THIS is what the 
2nd Annual Spring Teacher Blogger Meet-Up 
was all about!

I arrived on Friday afternoon with my girly-girls, Heather (Smack Dab in the Middle) and Brittany (Nifty in First Grade).   

These girls are my positive peeps, who keep me uplifted and encouraged on a daily basis at our school. We unpacked, settled into our room, and then met up with dozens of other teacher bloggers for dinner and teacher-chat!
French Lick Resort is a BEAUTIFUL place, my friends.  As in, breathtaking!  (The picture above, bottom left, is the ceiling of the West Baden atrium lobby!) 

The resort has two main buildings…

If you are looking for a unique vacation experience,
checking out the French Lick Resort is a MUST
This place has an AMAZING history!

Beth Ann and the French Lick staff treat us like royalty! 
We all LOVE-LOVE-LOVE this place!

Check this video out for more info!

As the director of this event, I spent Saturday morning with the most amazing group of friends and HARD WORKERS on the planet in preparation!
LOVE. LOVE. LOVE these girls!

Finally, it was time for the luncheon meet-up event to begin!  
We started the day off with a delicious lunch served by the French Lick staff, then moved right into a fun & creative "Get-To-Know-You" activity where each table decorated a giant letter with words that told all about each teacher.  The letters were colorful, cute and creative...and packed with info about each teacher (blog name, describing word, favorite subject to teach, etc.)  Every table group then came up and shared their letter to introduce everyone. When complete, it came together to spell INSPIRATION! It was great!

After that we hopped right into our Teacher Tool Swap activity!  This is one of my fav parts of the meet up!  Check out more about it HERE.  We all did a blog linky party about the tool swap last week!
Next up came our whole group "Teacher Tips & Tricks" session.   Teachers pre-submitted questions before the meet up, which included topics from classroom instruction and best practices to blogging tech questions and how to improve your TPT sales.  During this time we had a few topical "experts" share their answers and suggestions and also opened it up for anyone to pop up and give their ideas and suggestions too!  
It was GREAT! 

This was followed by a series of "Round Table Discussions!"  Eeks!  Another highlight of the event, in my opinion!  :)  Teachers were invited to choose from a dozen different topics for 15 minute round table discussions, led by the best of the best!  We had three different rotations.   LOVED. THEM.  I lead one on STUDENT ENGAGEMENT with my dear friend, Kim Adsit (KinderGals).  I wish I could have gone to them ALL! 

Finally came the 
BIG Teacher SWAG Give-Away!
Folks, the sponsors were AMAZING!!!
We gave away over $12,000 in teacher goodies!

From Lakeshore STEM classroom kits and HUE document cameras to SDE National Conference tuitions and ESGI memberships... we gave it all away!  #canyousayhappyteachers

EVERY single attendee even went home with his/her own Erin Condren Teacher Planner and Vera Bradley bag!!!!
#truestory #dreamsCANcometrue

 Thank you to our amazing sponsors:
* TPT (
* GoNoodle
* SDE (Staff Staff Development for Educators)
* Lakeshore Learning Materials
Scentos (Love these markers!)
Creative Teaching Press
* Sit Spots
* Scentsy - Ciera Harris
* Orgami Owl - Brenda Hart Frady and Corporate office
* Tallahassee Sunday
* Erin Condren (EVERYONE GOT A PLANNER!!!!!)
*Vera Bradley (EVERYONE GOT A BAG!!!!!)
Schoolgirl Style
Hue Animation Studio
* Claire Marie Designs
* Brain Pop
* Seat Sack
Younique by Dana

After the swag giveaways, everyone's arms were literally OVERFLOWING with teacher we broke up for dinner on our own, and came back together at 9:00pm for...

Thanks to the GENEROUS support of Teachers Pay Teachers and GoNoodle, this night was like none other! 
Seriously, my friends... when it comes to TRULY supporting educators, these companies are committed! We came to them with this crazy idea...and they believed in our vision and helped us make it happen!
{#ipuffyheartTPT  #GoNoodleRocks}

We were spoiled with dozens of varieties of cookies and brownies, pizzas, beverages and even pajama themed cookie take-home-favor bags! Yum! Yum!

We decorated pillow cases, took some epically fun pictures at the photo booth station, and of course, had a GoNoodle DaNcE PaRtY! {Oh, yah. That happened! #rockininourpjs}

We ended the night by gathering together in a circle and doing an "encouragement drawing."  Each teacher had previously submitted their business card into a big paint can, and we passed it around, each taking someone else's card.  Throughout the next year, each teacher will send notes of encouragement and some happy little pick-me-ups to their adopted blogging buddy.  :)  Just another awesome way that we come together as teacher bloggers to support and encourage each other!
Friends... There truly is SOOO much more to share, but I gotta stop somewhere so you have enough time to visit all of the other bloggers' posts about this epic weekend!

I'll admit, planning this event was a ton of work...but it was worth every second!  
And on that note, I have to give a HUGE shout out to my dear blogging friend, Brittany Banister (Mrs. Banister's Kindergarten) for being crazy enough to be my event co-planner!  You are the best!

I'll wrap this up by saying, ENTER the Rafflecopter below to win some of your very own Meet-Up Teacher Swag!!! We are giving away THREE Swag Bags full of these goodies!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

And don't forget to join in the linky hoppin' fun! A huge SHOUT OUT to Brenda Frady (Primary Inspired) for setting up this awesome linky for us!

Sunday, March 22, 2015

2015 Teacher Tool Gift Exchange LiNkY!

Last weekend over 100 of the best teacher bloggers in the country joined me at the beautiful French Lick Resort for a weekend of inspiration and learning at the 
2nd annual Spring Teacher Blogger Meet-Up! 

Friends, it was an AMAZING experience!  And we can’t wait to share it with you!  We will be doing a HUGE linky party next weekend about all of our meet-up events!   Trust me, you will NOT want to miss it!  {We have LOTS of incredible goodies to give away to our followers!}

But for this weekend, you will have to settle with just a sneak peek at one of our favorite activities!

Our Teacher Tool Swap Gift Exchange
During our luncheon meet-up on Saturday, one of the activities that I planned was a “Teacher Tool” gift exchange.  Because our group was so large this year, we broke up into grade level/subject groups to do the exchange.  Each group got into a large circle and held the wrapped teacher tool gifts that they brought.  

The amazing Amanda Pauley {Mrs. Pauley’s Kindergarten} wrote a fun “left-right” passing story that she read for everyone.  {Every time she said LEFT, we passed gifts to the left.  Every time she read RIGHT in the story, we all passed our gifts to the right.}  At the end of humorous teacher blogger story, each person took the gift he/she received and sat down in the circle.   We then went around and had each person open his/her gift, show the group and then the gift GIVER shared who she/he was and explained what the gift was and why she/he loved it.  It was AWESOME to see new tools that others had never discovered, tools that these creative teachers developed themselves, and to see a pattern of the same gifts given to see what is trendy and hot right now!
The Teacher Tool that I gave was…
When I started thinking about what “teacher tool” has been the MOST beneficial help to me in the classroom this year, the answer was clear!  The tool I had to give was this…

While it may not be the type of tool that first came to your mind because it’s not a stapler or desk accessory, let me assure you… it is a TOOL that will undoubtedly change you as a teacher!  {I have personally have two copies of this book in print, one at school and one at home… AND I have the book on tape in my car!!  #truestory    If you are looking to re-energize your teaching and take your instruction from drab to FAB… this book is your answer!  I’ve seriously read/listened to it 5 times in it’s entirely…and it never gets old.  It’s changed my instruction…and as I’ve shared it with co-workers…it is changing my school, people.  I mean it.  It is changing what my students will experience as “school”…and it will undoubtedly change their lives too.  #enoughsaid?  #readthebook  #getitnow  #changeyourlife

The Teacher Tool that I received was…
Eeks!  Look at this little bag of goodness! The gift I received included a teacher journal (which I’m using to record my blogging and TPT “to do” ideas), an epic set of X-Grip Zebra Comfort Grip Pens, and something I’d never seen before…. My favorite type of staple remover  WITH A LETTER OPENER on the end! Say what?!  Oh, yeah. It’s for realz! 

Bonus  Goodies that my generous blogging friends gifted to me…

People, the goodness did not stop there!  Un-be-knownest to me, all of the teacher bloggers who attended the meet-up conspired in a secret to mission of generosity!  Uh-huh!  You know it.   Teachers are just “good people!”  I’m not sure who the mastermind was, but a collection was taken and during the meet-up I was presented with these awesome group gifts from the attendees as a thank you for planning the meet-up.

I know, right?!  The generosity was overwhelming! Brendy Frady (Primary Inspired) one of my fav teacher bloggers who is also an Orgami Owl rep, designed this BEAUTIFUL necklace just for me!  I mean…Folks, it’s perfect!  And as if that was not already too much… They gifted me a VERY GENEROUS Target gift card too!

Am I done yet, you may ask.  The answer is NO. I am not!   When I say I was overcome and humbled.  I mean it.

My sweet friend, Dana Lester {Common to the core}, worked her design magic and created these monogram bags for Brittany Banister {Mrs. Banister's Kindergaraten}, my co-planner, and me!  Aren't they epic?!  

Emily Peden {A Neighborhood Kindergarten}, You are the sweetest and I will enjoy using these in my classroom with my kiddos!  THANK YOU!

To the All Y’all Need Girls, could you be any bubbly and giving?!   I LOVE these photo booth props!!  

Kinder Glitter Girls, what a pleasure to get to know you!!! This t-shirt is ROCKIN’!  You are too generous!

Maja Austin {KookyKinders}YUM! YUM! YUM!  These personalized cookies were not only BEAUTIFUL…but they were delicious!   {Confession: It took me almost a week to eat them, because they were just too pretty to eat! But, in a moment of weakness and sugar deprivation, I dug right in! LOL}

And I was THRILLED to receive this special teacher tool that has been on my wish list for a year!!   A Scentos chunky marker holder! My dear friend, Deanna Jump {Mrs. Jump's Class} brought me this.  It was made and designed by another sweet friend's hubby (Katie Mense of Little Warriors)!   I'm so excited to fill it and place in my writing center!  The kiddos will go nuts!
Now at this point, I was literally thinking.... How can my incredible blogging friends be any more generous?!
And then THIS happens!  Yep...a full hour of Swedish massage!   #loveyoudeanna

I just need to shout out a ginormous...

to all of my teacher blogging friends.   
You are a true blessing in my life!
God has blessed me with so many life long friendships through this adventure!

Want to see what all of the other teacher bloggers received in the swap?
Check out the links below!
You might find a TOOL that you never knew you needed!

A BIG shout out to Miss DeCarbo for 
setting up this epic linky party!   
Go and check her out HERE right now!


Sunday, March 1, 2015

Book Study: Worksheets Don't Grow Dendrites -- Chapters 1 & 2


I'm linking up with Elizabeth from Kickin' It In Kindergarten for our book study on the book Worksheets Don't Grow Dendrites.  I just LOVE this book!  

For one thing, it’s completely research based.  This is SO important!   In these days of the “social media explosion,” we are bombarded with pictures, posts and videos posted by teachers across the world.  In many ways, this global ability to “share” is a blessing…but in my opinion, it can sometimes be a curse as well.  Folks, there are all kinds of videos, posts and promotions out there that more than likely are posted by teachers with good intentions but are NOT “best practices” according to research.  Beware, my fellow teachers!  Just because teachers make videos of their teaching and post them…THAT DOES NOT MAKE THEM“BEST PRACTICE.”   I worry sometimes when I see dozens of teachers post glowing comments about posted instructional videos or activity ideas that do not promote best practices.   I wonder, are we losing sight of what quality instruction is?   Is social media turning education into a reality TV program? Perhaps due to my educational and professional background, I’m over-thinking this issue…but maybe I’m ok with that.   I mean, if we are not striving as educators to check ourselves and keep ourselves updated with the most current educational research practices….are we truly serving our children to the best of our abilities?

Secondly, I love this book because it is truly an easy read.  The author has a way of very simply defining each strategy, then shares the research that supports the strategy, followed by instructional strategies that tell you “how” to implement the strategy in your classroom.  There is even a reflection/application review activity in each chapter.  You can complete a chapter in about 30 minutes!  Love it!

So, have I convinced you to go get the book and join us in this book study yet?  

Just do it!

Run to the library and grab it!

Download it on your Kindle!

Join us, people!!!

This book study isn’t about proclaiming our perfection as teachers…it’s about being real.  We need to both celebrate our strengths…AND identify our weaknesses, so that we can improve our instruction! Let’s open our eyes to what research shows us is best practice…and let’s change the world!  #intentionalteaching

So…let’s get on with the reading and reflection, shall we?

Chapter 1 was all about Brainstorming and Discussion.  The chapter discusses how brainstorming and discussion are natural processes of the brain.  When people open their mouths to speak, they send more oxygen to the brain…and oxygen is essential to healthy brain development!  Children need to brainstorm and discuss ideas, people! Talking in the classroom is a good thing!

To be more specific, teachers should be intentionally challenging students by asking both knowledge or short-answer questions, as well as those that enable students to use their reasoning, critical-thinking, and creative-thinking skills.  An EXCELLENT way to do this is by using Bloom’s Taxonomy of multi-level questioning. Now, if you are a teacher…you know all about that.  {Ok. If we are being real, we at least remember that we learned about that in college!  LOL} 

Ask different kinds of questions?  Yeah. Yeah.  We can do that.  But DO WE??   I know that personally, I knew that according to Bloom’s we should be using six different levels of questioning with our students.   But to be honest…off the top of my head (while I was trying to lead instruction) I didn’t know if I was actually hitting ALL SIX types of questioning!!! I mean, really...was that an analysis question I just asked?  Or was that a synthesis level?   Oh!  I don’t think I’ve asked an application-level question yet.  Crud!  What is that kind of question again?   I mean…am I right??

SO…in the spirit of really taking this research review to heart in order to improve my instruction, I created this little gem! Perhaps it will help you improve your questioning and discussion-prompting, too! 

I designed it so that could use it during what I call my “GENIUS MOMENTS!”
What are “Genius Moments?”
In my classroom, I refer to the unexpected “extra moments” that I find within my schedule as Genius Moments! You know what I mean…the 3 minutes you have before recess time…or the 4 extra minutes you have because your kiddos finished their center rotations early.  If you are like me, you don’t want to waste one single minute of classroom instructional time.  Instead of just letting my kids waste those moments, I always have handy little brain-based learning activities ready-to-roll to fill these little unplanned gaps.  

The above Genius Moments: Brain Building Question Cards are one of those super-simple, yet very impactful tools!  Check them out HERE.  {And keep your eye open for me to post more of my Genius Moment products!  I just have to have time to get them up on TPT! They are all research-based!}

On to Chapter Two!   
This chapter was all about incorporating DRAWING and ARTWORK  into your lessons. Research has shown for more than 70 years that there is a positive relationship between thinking in art and thinking across the curriculum. Yet, we all know that when money gets tight, the arts programs are the first to be cut! This chapter challenges us to use the artistic creativity in students’ brains to our cross-curricular advantage, by intentionally asking students to illustrate their answers to problems and/or use illustrations to show details of understanding.

Here are a few pics of one of our latest illustration activities.  Student illustrations help to add additional details to student work, especially at the kindergarten level when writing words can be more difficult than expressing details in pictures.

{Shout out to Deanna Jump for this awesome penguin illustration idea!}
Check out her unit HERE.

Hop on over to Kickin it in Kindergarten to link up for our 
Chapter 1 and Chapter 2 posts!

Here is the rest of the schedule for our study!  
You can join in at any time!

Linky parties will take place on these different blogs each time. 
Here is the order so you can plan accordingly :)

Mrs. Wills Kindergarten- Chapter 3 (March 7th)
Queen of the First Grade Jungle Chapter 4 (March 10th)
Fabulous in First Chapter 5 (March 14th)
One Extra Degree Chapter 6 (March 17th)
Mrs. Jump's Class Chapter 7 (March 28th)
The First Grade Parade Chapter 8 (March 31st)
In April, you will be visiting these girls for the remainder of the study:
Mrs. Ehle's Kindergarten Chapter 9 &10 (April 4th)
What The Teacher Wants Chapter 11 (April 7th)
First Grader At Last Chapter 12 (April 11th)
Erica's Ed Ventures Chapter 13 (April 14th)
KinderGals Chapter 14 &15 (April 18th)
A Rocky Top Teacher Chapter 16 (April 21st)
Mrs. Wills Kindergarten Chapter 17 (April 25th)
Little Warriors Chapter 18 (April 28th)
Falling Into First Chapter 19 (May 2nd)
Kickin' it in Kindergarten Chapter 20 (May 5th)

You can join in for whatever part you like! If you are not a blogger, that is OK! We will want you to join in on the fun. You can participate in the conversation in the comments. We want this to be a positive collaboration between teachers! The whole point is to encourage each other with inspiring ideas while still using research based best practice.