Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Mrs. Patterson, how do you spell.....?

Do you have those students who are constantly asking you how to spell words during their independent writing time?  You know the ones I'm talking about, the ones that are ALWAYS asking how to spell commonly used words like friend or because?  Yeah, you know who I'm talking about...those ones!  Last year I was at my wits end with those students and, YES, I had a word wall, but my students weren't using it and I wasn't sure why (insert clueless emoji here)!

Over the summer, I scowered Pinterest boards looking for a way to give my word wall a little OoMph!  After doing some research I found that my word wall wasn't interactive enough for my students to actually use it.  So... I CHANGED it and I am so glad that I did!

If you want your students to benefit from using a word wall, you have to make it interactive.  It's an easy change, so what are you waiting for....follow these steps:

Step 1: Make the words accessible to all students.  I put my word wall in a central location that all of my students can see and reach.  

Step 2: Make it interactive.  Allow the words to TRAVEL.  My students can take the words right to their desk.  This allows them to apply the words directly into their writing.  

Step 3:  Reinforce problem solving skills.  At the beginning of the year, I tell students to follow these steps before asking me how to spell a particular word:

  • Find the word on the word wall using their ABC (alphabetical) detective skills.  
  • Once they have found the word, jot it down in their student dictionary.  My school has provided interactive student dictionaries (we call these the purple books).  
  • Phone a friend.  My students are in the habit of using the resources around them.  They know to ask a friend before coming to ask me.  
  • Finally, if students have followed all of these steps they may raise their hand and ask me how to spell a word.  This word gets put into their student dictionary right away. 

Start 2016 by amping up your writing block by using an INTERACTIVE word wall, it's not too late!   

Sunday, December 6, 2015

December Currently

Better late than NEVER, at least that's my motto!  Happy December y'all.  To get me out of my bloggin slump, I am linking up with Farley at Oh' Boy 4th Grade for her December currently.  

Listening: After meeting up with my #NMbloggers last night, I realized that I never finished Ron Clark's, Move Your Bus book!  So, I am listening to his inspirational voice on audible and playing catch up to a book I started months ago.  If you haven't done so CHECK IT OUT.  #amazeballs
Loving: I don't know about you all, but I am DECEMBER tired, if you know what I mean!  So, to help ease my pain I have purchased Amy Lemons' and Katie King's December Rooted in Reading series.  IT IS FANTABULOUS!  They have done all the work for you and it makes literacy in December so much fun!  If you haven't checked them out, you are MISSING out.  

Thinking: doesn't my title say it all?  Need.To.Blog.More. Yeah, I'm working on it!

Wanting: 14 days, but who is counting?!? I want to spend time with my kiddos, husband, and family!  I cannot wait until winter break is here, so I can sleep in and just enjoy those around me :).  
Needing:  I would LOVE some time to myself, but who am I kidding?  I am a mama, wifey, teacher, and blogger...there isn't much time!  

Real or Faux: I am a FIRM believer in the REAL thing baby!  I don't care if it's not's BETTER!  Real trees smell DIVINE, are BEAUTIFUL, and really get me in the Christmas spirit!  #onlyrealtreesforme

Monday, September 28, 2015

#moveyourbusmonday Part 2 & Chapter 6

Welcome to another week of #moveyourbusmonday!  Teachers from around the world are reading and discussing this amazing book, Move Your Bus, by Ron Clark.  If you haven't heard of Ron Clark, where have you been?!?  Ron Clark is the DA MAN and his educational strategies and approaches are world renowned!  Check out his books, including this one, ASAP!

If you would like to see what the previous chapters are all about hop on over to Kacie Biggs' blog Second Grade Sizzle.

Part 2: How to Accelerate
#accelerate Moving forward and moving quickly

Ron Clark starts off Part 2 by saying that he believes we all have an innate want to improve.  Essentially, we all have a drive to get better and be better, but that drive is different for every person.   Each one of us has a special talent and with those talents we can contribute to "our bus".  He explains that we can all contribute in different ways as long as we take part in something.  

Ask yourself these questions:
How can we get better?
What can we do to contribute?
How can we help move "our bus" forward?
How can we accelerate?

His biggest tip, for those who want to contribute, is to PACE YOURSELF!  If you aren't a runner, but rather a jogger or walker, you will want to work yourself up to a running pace.  Don't accelerate too FAST!  Take the steps needed to become a runner--ONE.STEP.AT.A.TIME.
The next chapter describes some steps at becoming a runner.  
On your mark, get set, GO!

Chapter 6: Get There Early
A common habit that MANY runners possess, is their ability to get to work on time, and even a little early.  Ron Clark believes that runners possess these traits:

*They get to work early and start their day with LOADS of energy.

*If they aren't early, they are always ON TIME, and usually stay late.  

*They are working while at work.  

If you aren't showing up to work on time or putting in the work while at work, your leader (the driver) will start to doubt your abilities.  

Being on time to work and putting in the work will increase your worth.

I feel like I'm a runner, but I know that I jog sometimes too.  For me, knowing that I get up each and everyday and put forth my BEST self is good enough.    

Join us next week when Alyssa Aguilar from Miss Aguilar's Adventures  hosts Chapters 7&8.  

Please check out other blog posts and comment with your thoughts!

Friday, September 25, 2015

Managing Attendance and Lunch Choices

Happy Friday!  To celebrate the upcoming weekend I wanted to share an easy management tip.  Here is an efficient and CUTE way, if I do say so myself, to keep track of daily attendance and student lunch choices.

At the beginning of the year, my students colored superhero avatars and labeled them with their names.  Then, I laminated each avatar and attached magnets to the back. The avatars can be found in my TPT store HERE.   

How It Works

At the end of each school day, I place avatars on one of the student's chair legs and in the morning students place them on the lunch count board under their chosen lunch choice!  This helps me know what each student is having for lunch that day and counts as an attendance freebie too!  

This has become apart of our morning routine and it makes taking attendance and lunch count easy peasy (as my students would say)!  I hope you enjoyed this little management tip and if you haven't incorporated it....DO IT!  

Have a  great weekend :).  
Friday, September 18, 2015

Student Generated Alphabet

Happy Friday y'all!  We just finished our 5th week of school and I am LOVING my class this year.  So first, I have 15 students....YES, 15 students in my class and I got the cream of the crop, no joke! They are such curious little learners and have been eating up all that I am teaching. One of their most favorite things that we have done so far this year is our student generated alphabet.  

Over the summer as I was reading my favorite blog (stepintosecondgrade), or should I say STALKING it, I came across the idea of a student generated alphabet.  HELLO, can I just say GENIUS!  For the past 7 years I have used the same store bought alphabet that hangs on one of my walls for students to refer to, and it has been fine, but I was ready for something new!  #FRESH 

Amy Lemons (cue the angelic music) has had her students create their own alphabet for years, YEARS people!  Her alphabet and information on how she does it can be found by clicking HERE.  So, this was the year I decided to change and MAN am I glad I did.  

Here are the steps we took to create our alphabet:

Here are some pictures of my favorite letters:

#theclassic: APPLE

#starwars: Lightsaber

#current: Minecraft 

#creative: Pixels Movie

#myfavorite: Quail

#aquatic: Octopus 

#ownership: Student Generated Alphabet 

At the unveiling, my students LOVED seeing their ideas up on the wall.  Doing this student generated alphabet created ownership, helped build our classroom community, and brightened up our walls!  Thank you Amy Lemons for your amazing ideas (that I steal often).  

I will be doing this again next year!  

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Lesson Planning

Oh the dreaded lesson plans!  We all have to do them but we DON'T have to like them, do we?  Lesson planning has become a part of my teaching routine over the last eight years.  Every Sunday, I sit down to write out all of my plans, even though I pretty much know what I am going to do each week.  I'll admit it does help me stay organized throughout the week...just don't tell my principal that! 

Over the last few years I have tried different lesson plan methods.  I've tried writing them out using a fancy lesson plan book, creating visual plans, or typing them out on a word or excel spreadsheet.  Each of those ways worked, but I didn't find my TRUE lesson plan groove until I found.... PLANBOOK.COM. Cue the music and the heavens opening up, ahhhhhhh! forever changed the way I planned my weekly lessons.  From its color-coded classes to the learning standards drop down menu, I was SOLD!  I started out using the free, yes free, month trial plan and I was hooked after the first week.  It was easy to navigate and it helped that there were a ton (still are) youtube tutorials on how to set-up your plans and get started.    

Here is a picture of my weekly lesson plans from last week, (morning work and Literacy) looks like a ton, right?  Organized? Neat? Well-planed?  Yup!  

Trust me, once you start you won't go back to anything else!  After your free trial it is just $12.00 a year.  The coolest saves your lesson plans year after year.  You can print them, store them digitally, and share them with others.  With all that is expected of us on a daily basis, lesson planning should be painless and easy!  Give it a know you want to :). 

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Meet the Teacher

Nailed it!  My Meet the Teacher morning was a success and I survived the first two days of school, thankfully!  Here is a peek at my room for Meet the Teacher:

As parents and students walked in I welcomed them and introduced myself.  Then, I directed them to my WELCOME table!  This year, I decided to create stations for parents and students to follow.  It was one of the BEST decisions ever!  Each family grabbed a checklist and were told to visit each station.  My new kiddos were excited to check things off their list :). #checklist  

All of the station headers can be found in my TPT store here and they are editable too!  

My parents LOOOOOVED this!  I had my laptop out with a google docs page where parents could add their emails and contact information.  Parents thought this was a FAB idea :) #parentpoints

Station #2 was all about CLASS DOJO!  At this station I had folders with students names and inside were the sign-up instructions for Class Dojo.  My parents were really impressed with this and some of them signed up that morning :).  #parentcommunication

Station #3 was all about parent volunteers! Some of my parents sat and filled out forms, while others picked up the papers and took it home with them :).  Both ways worked out great!  I had 9 parents (out of 16) sign up to volunteer in my class...that's a RECORD!! #parentvolunteers

My students thought this station was pretty AWESOME!  They giggled as they read some of my favorites and some of them couldn't believe that my favorite hobby was reading!  This little sheet opened up a lot of conversation with my students and parents :).  #Allaboutme

This station was a HIT!  I got the idea after attending my teacher bestie's wedding this summer :).  I got these AMAZING Photo Booth props from Hope Kings superhero pack which can be found here! This was super simple to set-up.  Here are the steps:
*Create a background.  I did this with wrapping paper.  I hung up some red wrapping paper that I bought from Walmart.  
*Print out photo booth props that match your theme!  
*Set-up some sort of camera area.  I used my iPad and I propped it up on some boxes that are covered with superhero fabric.  
*Use a selfie clicker that allows parents/students to manage the photo booth themselves.  I used a device called TheSelfie that can be found on Amazon here.  #selfietime

On student desks I left a little postcard and treat!  These are also apart of the Hope King superhero unit :).  My kiddos thought these were pretty cool.  I think I earned some street cred with them :).  #superheroswag

My families LOVED our Meet the Teacher and I did too!  Stations saved me and really kept parents/students moving!  I hope you all have a great Meet the Teacher or Open House too!  Stay tuned for my classroom reveal in a couple of days!!

Thursday, July 16, 2015

iTunes U Course

Man, this summer is just flying by!  So many teachers, including myself, have so many projects or PD that they are doing over the summer, which means we never truly go on "vacation".  I have been super busy this summer working with my school district on publishing PD courses for teachers in iTunes U.  The whole process has been challenging, eye-opening, fun, and rewarding.

The goal for the iTunes U courses are to give teachers in our district different examples on how to incorporate technology into their classrooms.  Each course is filled with lesson plans, student exemplars, testimonials, and more!  So far, our district has published a handful of courses, but the plan is to have around 70 before the start of the new school year.  This, to me, is such an AMAZING thing because teachers are sharing and collaborating with one another at a district level.

My course is pretty fabulous and it focuses on assessment.  Have you heard of the online assessment tool called Kahoot?  Well, if you haven't it is pretty amazing!  Teachers are constantly assessing their students.  In this "data driven" day and age, teachers are looking for instant feedback to drive there instruction and make their lessons more meaningful.  However, we all know that assessments can be daunting and overwhelming to students.  Kahoot makes assessing students more fun!  It is a student response system for creating and administering game-like quizzes.

Kahoot has a ton to offer and because of this my course focuses on a few smaller components.  The components that are covered in my course are: ways to access resources available through the Kahoot website, using Kahoot to assess sight words in a kindergarten classroom, and incorporating Kahoot in a collaborative assessment setting.

Here is a SNEAK PEEK of my class playing a collaborative Kahoot with another class in our district!

Check out my course and share with friends!!  Here is the link:

Also, visit the Kahoot website for more information @

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

The Periscope Craze

There is a PERISCOPE craze going on!  Periscope is an online LIVE broadcasting system that a ton of teachers have hopped onto!  What are teachers talking about?  Some teachers are talking about the following:

  • Lesson ideas
  • Classroom themes
  • Get to know you sessions
  • Periscope tips
  • Blog and teaching tips
  • Store Hauls--like Target, Walmart, and more!
  • Q & A Sessions
The list of ideas goes on and on!  I am LOVIN' Periscope!  If you are a teacher and aren't on yet, you need to be.  I jumped on the bandwagon and started 'scoping' too.  At first, I was a little nervous and the camera was even shaking, but, as time went on, I started to become more comfortable in front of the camera and even started to get some followers.  I appreciate those of you who are following me and who are consistently coming to my chat sessions!  

In the spirit of Sheila Jane Teaching's link up I am going to share with you three people that I follow on Periscope.  These people are some of my favorite ones to follow because they post things that I can relate to.  Here they are:

Second Grade Sizzle is part of the #secondgradetribe and she is doing AMAZING things on Periscope!  She has started something called Tech Tips Tuesday and will be sharing different techie tips with all of you.  Today, she did a broadcast on APP smashing.  I loved it!  

TCHR888 is a kindergarten teacher in my home state of NM!  #NMblogger  She has been doing some really cool broadcasts on kinder reading strategies and website finds.  If you haven't checked her out, especially if you teach kinder, you need to do it now!

Suzy was one of the first to hop onto Periscope!  She was doing some broadcasts live from the TPT conference in Vegas just last week.  She has a FABULOUS TPT store and I know that her broadcasts will be great!  

So, there you have it!  Periscope is THE BOMB!  I am slightly addicted and it is starting to take over my life.  If you haven't checked out some of my broadcasts please do.  I usually do one each day.  

Periscope tip for new watchers: Broadcasts are only LIVE for 24 hours, which means you need to watch the broadcast within 24 hours from when it was completed in order to view it.  

Friday, July 10, 2015

Five for Friday

Man, this week has flown by!  To end the week, I am linking up with Doodle Bugs Teaching for her weekly link up called Five for Friday.  I'm kind of excited about this because I always see my favorite bloggers participating, so I'm happy to join in on the fun.  

#1--This week has been all about swim lessons!  Both of my kiddos are getting in some extra swim time at our local high school this summer.  My son is learning a lot about swim technique and the different types of strokes, where my daughter is learning how to swim through the water without floaties :).  They are both doing a great job and I am lucky that they love the water! The picture below is of them swimming in my grandfather's pool!  

#2--My kiddos have been dying to see the new Minion movie, and even though I'm not a huge minion fan, I gave in and took them to see it!  What is summer for, right?  To my surprise, it was really cute and my kiddos enjoyed watching it.  My daughter was so excited she kept randomly blurting out, "BAAAANNNNAA," in her best minion voice.  Four year-olds are entertaining!  
#3--One of my sweet cousins got married on Wednesday and we were so happy to be invited to join in on their special day.  It is always so much fun when my family can get together and celebrate special occasions such as this.  I can remember when I used to watch my cousin when he was little, and now he is married!  Geez, time sure does fly by doesn't it?  The picture below is of my daughter and my niece searching for Rollie Pollies during the "first dance".  They had a blast.  

#4--I am super jazzed because I participated in my first ever TWITTER educational chat yesterday.  The chat was #whatisschool and we talked a lot about innovative teaching.  A lot of the questions asked us to define innovation, describe our challenges, and discuss our rewards when being innovative.  One of my favorite photos from the chat session is posted below.  This is how I feel about teaching :).  I'm a risk-taker, I embrace the messy parts of teaching, and I'm not afraid to be different.  


#5--I am starting to have teacher nightmares!  Do you ever get those before you have to go back to school?  You know the ones where you have no idea what you are doing or all of your students cry on the first day?  Well...I've been having them!  I still have four weeks left of summer and I am having back to school nightmares!  What is going on?  What are some of you back to school or teacher nightmares?  

Well, that's my Five for Friday randomness!  Be on the lookout for a new blog post about my new iTunes U course :).  Also, if you are new to my blog stop by my Facebook page too by clicking my button on the top right corner of my page!  Have a  great weekend!

Monday, June 22, 2015

Weekly Summer Link Up: One Item That Means The World To Me

Hi everyone!  I am linking up with Miss Monica at I Heart Grade 3 for one of her weekly summer links ups.  This week the topic is One Item That Means the World to Me.

Being able to choose things that are important in my life isn't hard, but choosing one ITEM that I can't live without, that's challenging.  Even though it's a little difficult, I managed to choose one thing that I knew I couldn't live E-READER!  For those of you who know me, and for those of you who don't, I love to read!  When I'm not hanging out with my family or doing things for school, you can find me huddled up next to my Nook reading away.  I read pretty much anything I can get my hands on, but I really love YA novels, especially Dystopian reads!  

When I was younger I hated reading.  I hated reading because I thought I wasn't good at it and I didn't like being told what to read.  One summer, while staying with my Ami (my grandma), she tasked me with reading for 30 minutes each day.  30 minutes seemed like such a looooong time, but like most challenges I was up for it.  I will never forget the one piece of advice she gave me, "Read what you want.  Don't read something you don't like.  Reading is reading, no matter what you are reading."  

That summer I started reading Archie Comics and my world opened up to the possibilities that literature could provide.  I will never forget those words of encouragement my Ami gave to me that one summer day, so much so, that I still pass it on to my own students.  During our Daily 5 time in class, my students have the opportunity to read independently or with a partner.  During that time they can choose to read whatever they want as long as they are engaged and reading.  I have had students bring in auto classifieds, comic books, scrapbooks (they create their own stories by "reading" the pictures), and more!  

Reading is reading, no matter what you are reading.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Blog Giveaway Winner and Tech Camp 2.0

Y'all--I had such a great blog launch last Friday and I wanted to say thank you to all that visited my blog and entered in the blog giveaway too!  On the day that my blog officially launched my family and I were on a road trip to Phoenix to soak up a little sunshine and lounge by the pool, hence why I've been MIA.  I was still able to contact the winner and I wanted to give her a quick shoutout: Chrissy L!  The Gleam app randomly chose the winner and I am so happy that my first giveaway was a success.  Congrats again Chrissy L and thanks for checking out my blog :).  

I am so excited for next week as I will be attending another summer PD session with some of my favorite techie teachers in my district.  Last summer, one of my 2nd grade teammates and I had the opportunity to attend a technology camp offered by our school district and Apple.  After attending the week long session we were hooked on all things TECH!  We learned different ways to integrate technology into our classrooms that would be meaningful for our students.  Since then, both of us went on to become Apple Vanguard members and are currently pursuing certification to become Apple Vanguard coaches for our school district.

Next week we will have the opportunity to share some of our lighthouse lessons with others across the district and some of us are in the process of creating iTunes U course materials too!  I am going to be snapping some photos and keeping all of you in the loop as we delve into the possibilities that technology allows for educators, our students, and our classrooms.   Stay tuned!  
Thursday, June 11, 2015

Blog Launch Giveaway

Yay!  It's finally here!  As you can see I have already starting blogging, but I wanted an official launch date to help me work out all the kinks (which I am still working on by the way).  For those of you who have hopped on over because someone shared the giveaway information, WELCOME!  Please start following my blog by clicking the follow button on the bottomish right column of the blog :)

As you follow my blog I promise to the following:

I promise to blog about the ups and sometimes downs of teaching.
I promise to share all of the really AMAZING things that my students are learning and doing!
I promise to be honest.

Now...on to why you're REALLY HERE!  Included in the blog launch giveaway are some of my favorite things to have as a teacher.  I have included a chevron iPad case, because I just got one myself and I LOVE it!  There are two items from Target, which include a $10 gift card and a set of flair pens.  Target is the place to be for teachers and one of my favorite items to purchase from there are the flair pens.  Who doesn't love those awesomely colored pens!?  And last, but certainly not least, is a gorgeous custom cup (yes, you get to pick what it says, the colors, and all that jazz) from my dear friend Stacey's BRAND New shop Dream It Up Designs.

Thank you for stopping by my blog and I hope you continue to check in and see what I'm up to in my classroom!  I hope you are all having an amazing summer and good luck in the giveaway!

Blog Launch Giveaway
Monday, June 8, 2015

Heart Confessions: Summer Linky

I am loving all these summer link ups with my new blogging friends!  As a new blogger I am finding the blogging world a bit intimidating, but have a few veterans who are willing to help me out! One of my new blogger friends is Mrs. Bryant!  She is a NM blogger too and I am really happy that I was able to connect with her.  She started this totally awesome linky called Heart Confessions and I am jumping on the bandwagon to list some of my summer confessions for you :).

Heart Confession #1: I spend way too much time with my nose in my Kindle over the summer :).  Okay, that's kind of a lie...I spend way too much time with my nose in my Kindle ALWAYS!  I love to read! I read pretty much anything and enjoy when others make recommendations too!  I have a HUGE addiction to YA novels and am particularly fond of series such as Hunger Games, The Uglies, and the Maze Runner.  Dystopian Fiction much?  I think so!   

Heart Confession #2: I tend to get a bit obsessive when searching and creating things for my new classroom theme! I love to scavenger at garage sales, thrift stores, and vintage shops when looking for items/materials for my upcoming classroom theme.  I love THEMED CLASSROOMS!  Last year, my classroom was decked out in all things PIRATE.  My husband built an awesome pirate ship reading nook and we covered my reading crates with this amazing pirate fabric.  To me, having a theme in the class makes learning more interesting.  My students love to find stuff themed related too, whether it be picture books, stuffed animals, or rare finds such as PIRATE MAPS :).  Here is a SNEAK PEEK at a fabric swatch that is my inspiration for my new theme.  Any guesses as to what it is?  
Heart Confession #3: I cherish the memories I get to make with my own kiddos over the summer!  During the school year, our lives can be pretty hectic and we sometimes forget to slow down.  Over the summer we can take our time and really appreciate the little things.  I especially love the mornings that both of my kiddos climb into bed and snuggle with me.  We don't have to rush off anywhere and can just hang out!  This is my FAVORITE part of summer!! Spending time reconnecting with my littles and making lasting memories.  

Don't forget to hop on over to Mrs. Bryant's Blog!  Click her FAB button below :).