Thursday, November 27, 2014


Hi Friends,

First, I want to wish all of my bloggy friends a very Happy Thanksgiving.  I am most definitely thankful for this wonderful community that has helped me, inspired me, encouraged me, and supported me in every part of my teaching career and even some parts of my life.  From way down deep, thank you!
Next, this week the students spent some time writing acrostic poems and creating tissue paper turkeys.  But that was just the beginning of our fun!  If you have never heard of or used Blabberize, it is worth checking out asap.  Here's why - after the students finished their turkeys, they took a picture of them.  From there (in the interest of time) I used Preview (on a Mac) to add the label to each photo.  Then we uploaded each one to Blabberize.  Once a child's turkey was on Blabberize, it was a quick adjustment of the mouth piece and they were ready to record their acrostic poems.  Click the sample below for some Thanksgiving cuteness.

Now Blabberize allows you to save completed projects.  This is fabulous because I used last year's projects for this year's motivation.  The kids couldn't wait to get started.  The downside of Blabberize is that you have to take a project from start to finish in one sitting.  You do not have the capabiltiy of uploading all of your photos first but that's okay.  The time it takes to upload and adjust the mouthpiece is minimal.  Check it out for yourself by clicking the image below.

But the fun did not stop there.  Last night, in the middle of prepping for Thanksgiving, I shared each child's project with their family via email.  That's one of the positive aspects of can share a link or embed a video.  Oh. My. Gosh.  Talk about happy families!  This was my second year with this project and it's one that I can doing for many years to come.  Here's another sample just for fun.  Enjoy!

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Bold Beginnings

Hi Friends,
Just popping in quickly to share a writing mini lesson that I did a couple of weeks ago (gasp!).  In my district, we have to do district wide common assessments in ELA.  So early in September, the kids had to write a narrative piece for a baseline score.  The first benchmark was fast approaching and we had spent a lot of time on nonfiction reading and writing.  I knew I had to step it up and quick.

Switching gears, I dove right into my Six Traits teachers edition and started planning.  Naturally, I decided to start at the beginning (phew!).  We spent the next week learning about ways author's begin their stories.  We read many mentor texts and analyzed how the pros did it.  I think the class favorite was Mice and Beans by Pam Munoz Ryan.  Click the picture below to see this book on Amazon.

Then we spent some time going through a variety of beginnings with this ppt that I made.  Pretty soon, I'm going to figure out how to make an interactive file that can be flattened and secured.   (If anyone knows, please share!)  After we finished going through the many creative ways to begin a story, we tried our hand at writing our own beginnings in our interactive writing notebooks.  If you're looking for a quick and easy mini lesson or two, just click the image below.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Settling in...?

The last time I blogged was July.  July!  And it doesn't even count because I didn't share anything of my own.  I was spreading the word about a blogger meet up that I absolutely could not wait to attend.  Then I missed it.  And now it's November. So I guess I missed August, September, and October, too. (Sigh!) But, I think I have finally settled in.  My classroom is up and running and it feels like the kiddos are finally getting it.  I was able to get three running records done today during our Daily 5 rotations.  It was heaven!  Now if I could only get the kiddos to remember the routines for the REST OF THE YEAR. Unlikely, but so worth thinking about - don't you agree?  :)

So far, we've implemented three of the Daily 5 stations: Read to Self, Listen to Reading, and Word Work.

Read to Self was, of course, the first Daily 5 choice that was mastered.  I spent a LOT of time on building their reading stamina, modeling what it looks like, and practicing.  It seemed to take longer this year but this is not a station you want to rush through or you will pay the price.  Trust me...

I'm lucky enough to work in a district that supports the students with quality technology choices.  When a group is at Listen to Reading, they are at one of the six computers in my room.  Technically, there are only four student computers, but I bring in my own laptop so that the kiddos can use my teacher laptop.  I was also just handed a Chromebook to 'play with' for a little while, so that makes up the six.  (It pays to love using technology!)  The students at this station can use RazKids or Lexia Core 5.

Word Work was just implemented this week.  Here the students have a choice of a 'word activity' or 'word apps'.  I'm also lucky enough to be married to a wonderfully supportive husband.  He started the craziness by buying two iPads for my classroom.  Technically, one was a Christmas gift and the other was a birthday gift but they both ended up at school.  He was not surprised.  Then that led to the purchase of four more iPads, a quick confiscation of the iPods that my own children outgrew, and a Nexus 7 tablet that was won at a conference.  All of that babbling means that I have 12 devices to use.  That's enough for half of my class!  I will slowly introduce new apps and activities as they master this station.  It's going very well and I am happy.  :)

That's pretty much it as far as Daily 5 is concerned.  I would love to say that my guided reading groups are going just as well but I can not.  This is an area that I need to work on so I'm off to read my favorite blogs for some wonderful ideas.  I hope your year is going well. 


Friday, July 25, 2014

New England Meet Up!

Hi Friends,
   I'm so excited to share a New England bloggers meet up!  It is being hosted by the super talented Jodi from The Clutter Free Classroom.  I am absolutely positive that everyone has heard of The Clutter Free Classroom and I'm equally as positive that MANY have benefited from Jodi's sharing of ideas, tips, and of course, ORGANIZING!

One of my favorite activities from Jodi is her Pumpkin Book Project.  Every year I get such wonderful book projects.  The students AND the parents just adore this idea and the hallway looks absolutely fabulous!  Click HERE to see some of the past pumpkin projects.

Getting back to the meet up...

If you live anywhere near the area, please consider joining us at the Boston Museum of Science on September 27th.  What better way is there to kick off a new year?  I can't wait for the day to arrive...there's such excitement in the air!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

ISTE 2014, Anyone?

Hi Friends,
In just 8 days I will be hopping on a plane to Atlanta, Georgia.  In just 8 days I will be participating in something big...something for which I've been waiting for so long.  In just 8 days I will be joining thousands of educators at the biggest technology conference around. In just 8 days I, little old me, will be at ISTE 2014!  I can't believe it's finally here.

I decided in January of 2013 that I would not miss the next ISTE conference.  (ISTE is an acronym for International Society for Technology in Education.)  Then I had to wait until October to do the early bird registration.  Then I had to wait until November to book my hotel room.   Then I had to wait until February (I think) to view the program.  Then I had to wait for the conference to get here.  Finally, I can see the light and it's just 8 days away.  I can hardly contain my excitement!

There are over 900 workshops, poster sessions, or panels to participate in at this conference.  Some of the ones that I am drooling over include such titles as: Extreme PD Makeover, Apple TV in the Classroom, Green Screens in Your Elementary Classroom, Unleashing the Potential of Google Forms, and Going the Extra Google Mile.  But believe me when I tell you that there is SO much more.  Are you curious yet?

Then there's the freebies.  Oh. My. Word.  I have already received this water bottle and iPad case.  The water bottle has a middle compartment for fruit infusion.  I love it!  No more sucking up lemon seeds.

 The case is from Gumdrop.  It's super sturdy and easy to grip for my little second graders.  I also really like the built in screen saver and the stand.  Go to their website to see the many cases they have to offer.  

In addition to the freebies that have already arrived, my mailbox has been exploding with postcards from the many vendors that will also be attending ISTE 2014.  So many of these postcards include a message to stop by their booth for a free [insert gift here].  The rest offer 'a chance to win'.  I'm dying to get to the exhibit hall!  I'm also a little's huge!

Is your curiosity getting the best of you?  Check out the ISTE app for a birds eye view of the what's what and who's who at ISTE 2014.  Be forewarned - You may just end up jumping on a plane or playing the waiting game until ISTE 2015.  :)

So now I ask you, is there anybody out there in bloggy land who is also planning to attend ISTE?  Is there anybody who has been in the past and has some advice for an ISTE newbie such as myself?  I'd love to hear what you have to say!

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Sunshine and Springtime!

Hi Friends!
     I was recently given the Sunshine Blogger award by the very sweet CaseyJane from Wiggling Scholars.  I humbly accept and more importantly, I'm very excited to have found another blogging buddy.  Technically she found me first but who's counting?  :)

The rules of the Sunshine Blogger Award are:
1. Post 11 random facts about yourself
2. Answer the 11 questions asked by the blogger who nominated you
3. Nominate 11 bloggers you think bring sunshine to the world
4. Make up 11 questions for your nominations to answer.

Random Facts:
1. I've been married for 23 years.
2. I have two dogs: a shih-toodle and a dachshund mix.  The dachshund is deaf.
3. I will be a first time mother-of-the-bride this August...yikes!
4. I've been teaching for 24 years.
5. Photography is a hobby that I really enjoy.
6. I LOVE using technology in my teaching.
7. I have three fantastic grown-up children.
8. I have guinea pigs as classroom pets.
9. I am also in the liquor business.
10. I've been to wine country twice.
11. I'm going to ISTE in Atlanta, GA!
1.    What is your favorite holiday?  By far, it is Thanksgiving.  I love having the entire family over without the pressure of gift-giving.  It's simple family time.  That's all there is to it and it's the best!
2.    If you were to name your blog something else, what would it be?This is a great question, one that I wish I had given more thought when I named my blog originally.  You can't tell from my new blog design but I am a huge Grease fan.  It's my all-time favorite movie.  So my original blog design with all 50's clip art was called Hopelessly Devoted to Teaching.  It was created by Kristen from Ladybug's Teacher Files and I loved it!  After a couple of years, I was ready for a change but because my blog name was specific to a theme, a new design would never match.  For fear of losing my followers, I simply shortened the name by title but kept the original URL.  The short answer to this question is...ANY other name that is not specific to a theme or grade level.  Newbie bloggers please take notice!
3.    What is your dream “retirement job?” I'm not really sure but definitely something in a quiet setting.
4.    What is your biggest pet-peeve? The word 'stupid' - I hate it with a passion!
5.    Name the book that changed you. There are many professional books that changed my teaching. To name a few, there's The Morning Meeting book, Daily 5 & CAFE, Math Stations.
6.    What is the best concert you have been to?  Luke Bryan!!!
7.    When and/or how did you figure it out that you wanted to be in education? It's very cliche but all of my life.  I never even considered anything else.  What kind of teacher took some doing though...
8.    Are you are rule-follower or rule-breaker? A rule-follower - boring, boring, boring!
9.    Do you love or hate the cutest kitty you tube video? I'm going to have to do some research for this one.  :)
10.    What was the last movie or musical you went to? Wicked - it was fabulous!
11.    What was your most prized possession when you were the same age as the students you teach?  A stuffed kitten that got me through some pretty tough times.
     For the next part, I have to nominate 11 other bloggers.  There are so many that I LOVE and I took a long time to respond to this nomination so I apologize if I'm repeating anybody.  Here are just a few of my favorites:

Just click on any of the images above to check out there blogs!

Finally, there are 11 questions to ask.  Here is what I'd like to know about my nominees...

1.  Do you have classroom pets?
2.  Where is the most exciting place you've been?
3.  How long have you been teaching?
4.  What is your favorite reading genre?
5.  What is your favorite professional read?
6.  What is your must-go conference?
7.  Do you like cooking or cleaning better?
8.  Are you a warm weather or cold weather person?
9.  What is your biggest pet-peeve?
10.  What is the scariest thing you've ever done?
11.  What are you most looking forward to?

Thank you to CaseyJane for the nomination and for getting me back on my blog.  It's been too long!  Take care,  Everyone!

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Arrays, Arrays!

Hi Friends,

    I don't know about you but I've got the Sunday Night blues...doubly hard because it's the end of winter break.  On the bright side, my plans are done (mostly) and my homework packets are ready.

   As I was thinking about my math plans, I started to focus on the foundations of multiplication.  This week, I will be teaching the kiddos about arrays.  While most of the kids are super excited to start learning about multiplication, many of them truly struggle with the concept.  In second grade, we are responsible for teaching them that arrays are a useful tool to help them solve problems with equal groups.  We really only need to go as far as repeated addition but I like to show the multiplication fact with the repeated addition sentence to get them used to what it looks like.  I thought I'd start with this Brain Pop, Jr. video.  This is, by far, one of my favorite resources.  It is a paid subscription but well worth the cost if you can swing it.  They do have a small free library but for me, it just wasn't enough.

   The other part of my math plans for this week include this power point and booklet that I created to help the kiddos with their arrays.  I knew that I needed to make that real life connection for them and I knew it had to be visual.  My plan is to project a slide and have the kiddos write an addition sentence on their small whiteboards.  Then, we will add it to the power point.  For the higher learners, they can also write the multiplication fact that matches the picture.  I'm a big believer in the "I Do, We Do, You Do' approach so we will start small.

   To provide further practice for the kiddos, I created this little booklet.  We will use stickers to build arrays and then write the matching addition/multiplication sentences.  You could also use stamps or draw the array.  My kiddos love to use the Scento markers!

   If you think this is something you might be interested in, please click on either of the pictures above. They will take you straight to my TpT store.  As this is a very new journey for me, I'd love any and all feedback.  Thank you so much!

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Five for Friday

Hi Friends!

We made it through another week.  And not just any week.  It was a snowy, Valentine's, full moon, week before vacation kind of week.  It felt like a great time to join Doodle Bugs Teaching Five for Friday linky party so here I am.  It's my very first time so I hope I do it justice...

Number 1 - We had yet another snow day.  We are at four so far this year with more snow coming.  Our original finish date was June 13th which was a Friday.  Now we are ending on June 19th.  I really, really, really do NOT want a full week of school for the last week so no more snow days.  In fact, all of my snowman decorations are coming down - because that will totally control the weather.  A girl can hope, right?

Number 2 - We've been celebrating the Olympics at school and completely enjoying them at home.  At school, we've been tracking the medals.  The kiddos get super excited whenever the US moves up in the ranks and so bummed when they slide back down.  It's really cute to see their reactions.  We've been using Katie King's Winter Games freebie all week.  You know, that very talented teacher/blogger from Queen of the First Grade Jungle.  It came just in time for our current math unit which is fractions. It's truly a fantastic freebie so if you don't follow her, please go check out her blog right now!

Number 3 - Here is a small sampling of our Olympic themed read-alouds and trade books.  Everyone (including me!) really enjoyed these books.  We are currently in the middle of the Magic Tree House Hour of the Olympics.  Man, you should've seen the reaction of the girls when they learned that women and girls were NOT allowed to compete or even perform at the Olympics!

Clicking on any of the books above will get you directly to Amazon!

Number 4 - We started blogging again - the class, I mean.  the name of our blog is Pencils, Projects and Pigs.  We started the year off really strong with the blog but then the holidays came and I let it slide.  So now I'm trying to get the kids all pumped up about it again.  I have a few who are truly dedicated so that should help.

Number 5 - This one is extra random.  As my husband was driving to work Thursday morning, he noticed this deer just sitting there in front of our neighbor's porch.  Life has a way of telling us that there is so much to appreciate in our little world.  Isn't she a beauty?  (I had to zoom in quite a bit so it may be hard to tell... :) )