Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Pick a Profile Picture!

Elementary Matters

I tend to be very animated when I teach.
Come to think of it, I tend to be very animated whenever I talk.

I guess that's why I chose this to be my profile picture.
Elementary Matters

People tend to remember this picture, 
which has worked out pretty well for me.
They often ask me about it.

Here's the story:

As a single mom of an only child, my daughter and I would always take each other's pictures on the first day of school.  

We often took one "serious" picture, and one silly pose.

This was the "serious" picture.
Elementary Matters
I do look a little cross eyed in this one. 
As you can see, even when I'm trying to be "serious", I'm a bit animated.

I have no idea what happened to the original photos. 
These were taken 6 years ago, long before I had a smart phone. 
(I think I was still using a Tracfone at the time.)

So, the profile picture I've been using is a copy of a copy of a copy... and so on. It's not a great quality. 

I've also changed a bit. 
My hair is somewhat different now, and I've aged a bit, although that hardly shows! (In my dreams, anyway!)

So... this weekend, my daughter came by with her nice camera. 
I put on that old dress, and tried to re-create the original picture. 

I know what you're thinking... why not come up with a newer, better picture?

Because people remember this one!

But I just can't decide which picture to use. 
That's why I'm asking you, my readers to help me decide!
Elementary Matters

I guess you could say I have a good time making fun of myself.

Elementary Matters

Yep, that's the look the children see in my classroom!

Elementary Matters

"Welcome to my classroom!"

Elementary Matters

"Wouldn't you like to learn in my classroom?"

Elementary Matters

"And here's where we'll have reading group!"

Elementary Matters

"Aren't you glad to be part of our team?"

Elementary Matters

"Guess what we're doing after lunch!"

Elementary Matters

I probably won't use # 9 and #10, since this isn't even my dog. It's my grand-furbaby.

Isn't she the sweetest?

Elementary Matters

This picture shows how she got her name: Smiley Face!

If you have a picture you like, please mention it in the comments below.

If you'd prefer, you can let me know on my facebook page HERE:

Thanks for your help!

Sunday, July 17, 2016

It's a Whale of a Week!

Monday Madness, 2 for Tuesday, Wacky Wednesday, Thrifty Thursday

I just wanted to let you know about a little fun shopping that's happening this week!

Opportunity you will not want to miss

Here's a preview of what to expect:

On Monday, be sure to search #MondayMadness on Teachers Pay Teachers to find all the $1 deals! Here's what you'll find of mine: \Academic Summer Games Math Task Cards

half price
On Tuesday, you can search #2forTuesday to find half price resources! Here's what you'll find from me:

I'll be offering some flash freebies today. I'm not telling what they are yet, but if you watch my facebook page on Wednesday, you'll see some fun stuff! Also, be sure to search #WackyWednesday on Teachers Pay Teachers!
On Thursday, be sure to search #ThriftyThursday to find some bundles that have been marked down just for the day! This will be significantly discounted on Thursday:

On Friday, you'll have the chance to win the gift cards seen above by entering the rafflecopter below!

Good luck! Enjoy the whale of the week!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Here are some more teacher bloggers to visit this week!

Saturday, July 9, 2016

What Can We Do About the Hate?

love, love, love

I'm sure you're as concerned as I am. We all are. 

It seems to be getting worse. It's all over the news.  

Dallas, Orlando, Virginia Tech, Sandy Hook, Boston Marathon, Columbine...

Black lives matter, Cop lives matter, Gay lives matter...

 It's about lack of trust. It's about mental health. It's about guns...

Really, it's all about hate.  And it's eating away at me.

So, what can we do about it?
What can we do about the hate?

That's what I do. Every time I hear of another horror, I pray. 
It's frustrating because I want to do more!

As a teacher, I've been searching the corners of my brain, trying to think of what we can do to turn this around. 

One thing to think about
It's important to teach children to respect police officers. 
How do we do this?

Let them interact with police officers! 

I'm lucky I teach in a small town.
Most of the police officers in my town are former students, or parents of former students.

We take our second graders to the police station every year. 
The whole police staff is amazing to the kids! 
They let the kids climb into the police vehicles.
They let the kids have lunch in their lunch room. 
They give the kids pencils and water bottles with the police logo on them,
and they even take pretend "mug shots" of the kiddos! (and the teachers)
Field trip
I'm such a ham, aren't I?
An interesting point... when the children asked about the "bad guys" having their pictures taken, this is what they heard:

"They're not bad people. 
They're good people who made bad choices."

I try to believe this. There are a lot of good people who have made bad choices: perhaps by how they are brought up, or perhaps because of things they have experienced, or perhaps because of a chemical imbalance in their brain. We need to help these people. Help them learn to make good choices.

I hope there are a whole lot more people out there that insist that people are good, but sometimes make bad choices. 

That's what gains respect... or loses it. The way we see people. 
Are they good, or bad? I believe they are good.

Another thing to think about:
Let them see you doing good things.

Only love will conquer the hate. 
Let the kids see you being kind to others.
Let them see you let that car in that's been waiting.
Let them see you hold the door for the person behind you.
Smile at strangers.
Give up your seat on the bus.
Volunteer at a soup kitchen.
Visit a nursing home.
Offer to babysit for a friend, for free.
Donate blood.
Give money to the poor and needy.
Find opportunities to be kind to others.

And let the children see it. 

Love, love, love

Here are some nice visuals of people doing good deeds.

I, for one, refuse to let hate have the last word. 
I believe that love will conquer hate.
I believe things will get better.

What are your ideas? 
What can we do?

Monday, July 4, 2016

Oceans of Deals!

Don't Be Jelly!
A few of my blogging friends and I are having an ocean of fun this summer by having ocean themed bargains, freebies, and giveaways!
Oceans of deals

Monday is about $1 deals. If you search #MondayMadness on Teachers Pay Teachers, you'll find several pages of bargains!

I've got a couple of my newer products on sale... 

Words with FUNdations, a scrabble type game with letter tiles based on the FUNdations program is priced at $1!

Reading Comprehension

Parts of a Plant for Active Learners is a reading comprehension activity that combines science concepts and the need for kiddos to move.

Since it's a holiday weekend, I'll be leaving these activities at these prices for a couple of days this week!  Tomorrow, be sure to search #2forTuesday to find bargains at half off!
Science and Social Studies
Science and Social Studies Printables for August and September will be half off on Tuesday! This is one of my most popular back-to-school items!
If you're not into the "Back to School" mode yet, there is good news: My Camping Theme Unit will also be half off on Tuesday!

And you have a few days to sign up for this incredible giveaway:  You could win gift certificates to the following places: Teachers Pay Teachers, Really Good Stuff, Target, Michael's, Kohls, Starbucks, or Visa! Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Word Work Makes Better Readers

FUNdations and Scrabble

In my "almost 40" years of teaching reading, I've had a whole lot of training. My experience, as well as research, tells me that teaching basic phonics skills are quite valuable, and make for better readers. Here are some basics about letters, letter sounds, and sound patterns in the English language: 

1. Vowels are open, unconstricted sounds.  The English Language has 18 vowel sounds:  5 short vowel sounds; 5 long vowel sounds; 3 r controlled vowels /er/ (spelled er, ir, or ur), /ar/, and /or/; diphthongs /oi/, /ow/; and the vowel teams /aw/, /oo/ (as in book) and /oo/ as in (as in pool).  This doesn't include the schwa sound, which takes on a short u or a short i sound in unaccented syllables.

2. The English Language has 25 consonant sounds:  /p/,/b/, /t/, /d/, /k/, /g/, /m/, /n/, /ng/, /f/, /v/, /th/ (unvoiced, as in three), /th/ (voiced, as in those), /s/, /z/, /sh/, /zh/ (as in pleasure), /ch/, /j/, /y/, /wh/, /w/, /h/, /l/, and /r/.

3. Fifty percent of words have short vowels.

4. The English language isn't as unpredictable as people think:
  • 50% of words are predictable by rule
  • 36% of words are predictable by rule with 1 error, usually a vowel
  • 10% of words will be predictable with morphology and word origin taken into account
  • Fewer than 4% of words are true oddities.
Those last couple of bullets are pretty surprising, aren't they? Only 4% of words don't follow rules and patterns? Not quite what was expected, is it? But that's why teaching foundational skills are so valuable! 

That's exactly why I love that my school district uses the FUNdations program for levels K-3. It is a systematic program for the teaching of phonemic awareness, phonics, and sight words. Although the children still need basic reading and comprehension instruction, the FUNdations program fills most of the children's needs for word work. (See more about FUNdations HERE!)

Since some children need more review than others, I often review the FUNdations skills in reading groups with games like this:

This resource can be found HERE. It includes the basic FUNdations letters and sounds from Level 1 (First grade level) which are reviewed for several weeks at the beginning of Level 2 (Second grade) I'll be adding the Level 2 syllable types, sounds, and patterns later in the year. 

It includes a game board, which is much smaller than your typical Scrabble game board. This keeps the game from lasting so long you'd have to cancel math and science in order to finish!

It also includes several vowels, consonants, diagraphs, and welded sounds in the same color coding as the FUNdations program. 

I got this gift mug a couple of years ago, and I've been dying for an opportunity to use the box it came in. Now I finally found a purpose for it!

The letter tiles!

The game is similar to Scrabble, but there are several different options on using the colors on the gameboard. Since many first graders and beginning second graders don't know how to "double" or "triple" numbers, there are easier options. There are also suggestions to make the game easier, harder, or just practice specific skills or letter sounds.

The game starts with 5 letter tiles per player. 

Pretty soon, the board looks like this: 

Before you know it, the board looks like this:
Words with friends.

There are plenty of giggles along the way, too!

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Four Awesome Blog Posts That Have Lasted the Test of Time

that have lasted the test of time

I've been on summer vacation for a week now. 
Like most teachers, I've been doing some catching up on cleaning. Unlike most teachers, I haven't been cleaning my house.
 (It's rather dreadful right now, but I just don't have the energy yet!) Instead, I've been cleaning up my blog!

I realized I've been blogging for 5 years now! As with any cleaning project, I've found a lot of things I need to throw out. 
(Those first few blog posts aren't very informative.)
Just like anything, the more you do it, the better you get! 
I've tossed out a few posts, and I've updated a few posts.

But, just like any cleaning project, I've found a few gems!
Back when I first started blogging, (back in 2011 and 2012) I did a lot of guest posts on other blogs.

I realized today that those posts are still out there, and they're still pretty valuable thoughts! (If I do say so myself!)

A few years ago I did this guest post on the amazing Rachel Lynette's Minds in BloomKeeping Your Students Engaged with "Turn and Talk".
That's something I use every day, several times a day! Be sure to click the photo for the link!

Several summers ago, I had the opportunity to do a post for Really Good Stuff's blog, The Teachers Lounge about how I set up Open House at the beginning of the school year. Here's that link: Ideas for a Successful Back to School Open House.

Really Good Stuff
It was 4 years ago, but I still use these same strategies and ideas today!

Keeping the brain happy has always been important to me. Here's a post I did 4 summers ago for The Filipino Teacher: 12 Simple Strategies for Brain Fitness.

Here's another post I did about card games to practice math facts on Raki's Rad ResourcesCard Games for Fast Facts.

Click any of the images for links to these posts!

Who knows what else I'll find while cleaning!

Monday, June 13, 2016

Summer Time Blues?

Summer vacation

Today is officially my last day of school this year.

This is the end of my 31st year in my present school.

This is the end of my 39th year teaching in all.

As usual, I have mixed feelings about the school year ending.

These are some reasons why I'm sad:

summer vacation
1. I'll miss the kids. Seriously, After spending 180 days with these little ones, and giving them a whole lot of my energy, they have my heart. They'll always have a place in my heart, just like all my other former students. I never forget them!

2. I can't help but feel "If only I'd..." and wish I could try a little more. I have a feeling we all feel that way. (After all, we're teachers, always trying to do the best for the kiddos!)

3. I'll miss the structure of my days.

4.  I know there are some kids that need that structure as well.

5. I know there are some kids that need the "safe place" of the school environment, where they are loved and supervised, and there are people who care about them.

summer vacation

Of course, I'm happy about school getting out! Here's why:

1. I'm tired, I need vacation!

2. I can hang out in my jammies, sip coffee, surf the internet, and watch mindless TV shows!

3. I can go to the beach and do my favorite thing: put my feet in the sand with a book in my hand... and totally escape into a book. Yes, fiction! I never have time to read for pleasure during the school year, and I can't wait!

4. I can find my garden... and my living room... and my house in general! (Who has time for housework in May and June?)

5. I'll have more time for blogging! I've had tons of ideas, but it seems this year I've had less time than ever, so I can't wait to get back into blogging!

It's been quite a year. You'd think it would get a bit easier after 39 years, but it really hasn't, in fact, I can honestly say teaching is harder than ever.  But it's worth it.  Here's what my students had to say about me this year:
end of school year

Sunday, June 12, 2016

The "Summer Games" are Complete!


I made it through the last week of school by celebrating the Academic Olympic Summer Games. (See THIS POST)

We had an exciting week, starting with our Opening Ceremonies!

We marched up and down each hallway with our flags and banners. The Olympic torch led the parade, and the American flag was at the end. (The USA was the "host country"!) Other countries include: Japan, Italy, France, Mexico, and Canada. (It just so happens I had flags to represent those countries, and a very old CD that has the National Anthems of each country, which was needed for the medal ceremonies! We came back to the classroom, read the Academic Summer Games Oath and Creed, and said that famous phrase: 
"Let the Games Begin!"

I wish you could see the pride in their faces!

We had many medal competitions during the week. Yes, medals were given daily for behavior, plus there were competitions in sight word reading, math facts, group scoot games, memory games, and brainstorming games. We recited the creed daily, along with the Pledge of Allegiance and our school's promise!
Olympics Creed
For a freebie copy of this, and a few other things, check out this resource: 
Olympics freebie

Their banners and some of their medals:
Academic Olympic Summer Games

France and Italy!
Academic Olympic Summer Games

Japan and Mexico!
Academic Olympic Summer Games

Honestly, there were double this many medals by the Closing Ceremony!

I think everyone's favorite part was when we had medal ceremonies, which was a lot!


Yes, I actually let the kiddos stand on desks!
Again, I wish you could see the pride in their faces!

Finally, it was time to "sail home", from the U.S.A. back to Japan, Italy, France, Mexico, and Canada! The children made ships from milk cartons and various "S.T.E.M." materials and set sail.
Sailing Home

I confess, I didn't get any pictures of the real ships they decorated. This photo was from a Summer Themed Week we had a few years ago, that you can read about HERE. Their ships were far more colorful and elaborate! I couldn't be prouder!

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