Monday, May 25, 2015

Splish Splash into Summer Blog Hop and Giveaway!!!

Welcome blog hoppers! I am so happy you're stopping by my blog to learn a little about my favorite summer past times, snag an AWESOME freebie and enter to win a summertastic GIVEAWAY!  So, here we go...........

I am soooo looking forward to summer starting this year.  It won't officially start for me until after June 16th but I'm already dreaming.  How about you?

The first thing I'm looking forward to the most about summer is SLEEPING IN! During the school year my alarm goes off at 5:30 am. Ugh!  I prefer to start my day around 8 am.  To me that is the perfect time to roll out of bed and start my day.  Right now, 5:30 am is making me feel like this.....

Can you relate?

The second thing I'm looking forward to the most is catching up on my summer reading stack.  I have a few titles already in mind - Counting by 7s, A Snicker of Magic, El Deafo, the Crossover, and MORE.  Right now these books are in my students hands, but in just a few short weeks they'll be all mine and I can't wait.  Here's a picture of part of my summer reading pile from last year.  I loved every one of these books!   Reading is by far my favorite past time, has been since I was a little kid and my mom had to limit me to 7 library books a week.  I'm a #nerdybookclub member for life!

Third, I'm going to Vegas again this summer!  My husband and I will be there for an entire week - sans kids and we can't wait.   We did Disney with our kiddos a few months ago - it was fabulous - but this trip is just for US.  I can't wait for good food, good friends (meeting up with so many of my favorite bloggers and TPTers at the annual TPT conference), and good fun.  Any show or entertainment recommendations?  

Lastly,  I'm looking forward to spending months in these!!!!

Flip flops are the best invention EVER.  Nothing says summer to me like FLIP FLOPS and my favorites are always from JCREW.   I can't wait for my annual flip flop tan line!!!  

Now, on to the good stuff..........

I'm so happy that summer is almost here, to celebrate I'm changing one of my TPT products to a FREE product just for YOU!! Are you thinking about setting up your room for next year already? Do you need a new calendar set to brighten up your bulletin board?

For five days only - May 25th-29th - my Bright Chevron Monthly Calendar Set is FREE in my TPT store.  This set will turn any pocket chart into a beautiful calendar display!  It comes with monthly headers, days of the week cards, number cards and tons of holidays and special events cards.

Download it now for FREE and get an early start on printing, laminating and cutting for the new school year.  This set matches all of the products in my chevron decor line and will last you for years. If you lose or rip a piece or if they get faded from the sun you'll just reprint whenever you want. Plus, I'll add additional holidays and events for FREE.  If you love it, I would appreciate your feedback on the item in my TPT store to help get the word out.  Thanks in advance!

To continue the celebration and excitement for summer, Yay!!!! Summer!!!!!, I'm also hosting a giveaway.  The lucky winner will get to choose up to $25 of products for FREE from my TPT store. Who doesn't love a FREE shopping spree!!!!  Yahoo!!!!  Whatever will you choose?  Maybe a new Vocabulary Bulletin Board set, or Data Tracking Workshop Organizer Binder bundle (these are lifesavers in my opinion), maybe Exit Slips or Assessment Packs for the WHOLE YEAR.  The choice is yours!



All you have to do for a chance at a $25 dollar shopping spree in my TPT store is enter the rafflecopter below.  The lucky winner will be chosen at midnight on May 29th!  Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The fun doesn't stop here, check out the other AMAZING freebies and giveaways at the next stop on our blog hop.  Click on the sun below to hop on......

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Sailing into Summer Tips Blog Hop - Next Year's To Do List

Even though I'm not officially "Sailing into Summer" until June 16th, I'm going to celebrate with all you early birds by joining in on a summer blog hop sponsored by The Language Arts Classroom and Faulkner's Fast Five!

Each year as summer approaches I always start a list in the notes section of my phone titled "To do for next year."  This is where I write all of the things that:

  • I want to continue for next year
  • I wish I had gotten to this year
  • I want to do better at next year
  • I read about too late into this year
Making this list allows me to relax a bit more in July knowing that I already have a plan in place for making next year the best yet.  It also helps me plan and organize the new year a little quicker once I am ready to start getting everything set up in August.  Do you make a list like this too?  If not, you should try it out this year.  My list is pretty lengthy by the last day of school, I won't bore you with all of my (OCD) plans, changes, and reminders, but here's just a few of the things on my list already for 2015-16:

1.  Expose ALL students to greek/latin roots and affixes.  Even my struggling readers need exposure to this rigorous vocabulary instruction to increase their word knowledge.  For the past few years I've used a differentiated program that only exposed my highest achievers to these words, but this has put my average and below level students at a disadvantage when they are presented with complex text. This coming year I'm planning to make sure ALL my students receive this integral instruction and I will provide word work interventions for my lower students in addition to this instruction.

2.    Continue the 40 Book Challenge.  I work really hard to instill a love of reading in every student. The 40 Book Challenge (you can read more about it in Donalyn Miller's book The Book Whisperer) is a challenge that I set for each student to read at least 40 books by the end of the school year.  This challenge provides a bit of competition (which most kids love), lots of choice (which all kids love), and an attainable goal that will hold my students accountable for reading as much as they can (which I love)!  I set basic genre requirements which you can look at HERE if you're interested and we keep track of our progress all year long.  I continually check in with the students to see where they're at with the challenge and I even participate in the challenge right along with them.  Here's a photo of my 40 Book Challenge door.

3.  Create a routine for teaching grammar.  Currently, I squeeze in grammar instruction (based on my grade level's Common Core expectations) whenever I can, but it's not enough.  I also constantly discuss grammar and model proper grammar during writing instruction, but grammar still continues to be a huge weakness for my students.  I feel like with a more organized, clear routine for instruction, that spirals back throughout the year, my students would leave with a clearer understanding of how grammar can improve their ability to elaborate and their writing in general. Any ideas or advice to help me accomplish this wish would be much appreciated!  Thank you!

So there's a sneak peek at my to do list for 2015-16.  The last thing I want to share with you is an organizational tip you may want to consider for next year.  If you have a classroom library of books that you let students borrow for reading, and you have to pack up all those books every summer so the custodian can lift up your book cases to wax your floors, than this tip is for you. I've learned that if you organize your books in bins by genre or author or series (you can buy clear plastic shoe box bins at Walmart or plastic baskets at Big Lots for $2) all you have to do at the end of the year is take out the bins (with the books still inside) and stack them up somewhere.  Then when you come back to set up in the fall, you just put the bins back inside the bookshelves and you're done.  No more unboxing and reorganizing books for days.  Plus an organized library is just so eye appealing.  Here's a pic of mine from August.  I could just stare at it all day long.  Of course it doesn't look quite so neat now in May, but it will stack up nicely when I'm ready to pack up - in less than 4 weeks!!!!!  I can't wait!!!!

Thanks for stopping by and I hope you found some useful tips.  Sail on over to the rest of the blogs in our hop for more fantastic summer ideas!

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Teacher Appreciation Week - Paying it Forward

What better way to celebrate Teacher Appreciation Week than to pay it forward to my favorite teacher, blogger, TPTer, and coworker - Stephanie Rye from Forever in Fifth Grade.  It's so nice to have someone to talk "shop" with on a daily basis, someone who listens to my complaints, gives me advice, makes me take time for lunch each day, and inspires me to be the best that I can be!!

Stephanie is an amazing Reading, Writing and Social Studies teacher.  Seriously, have you checked out her social studies materials on TPT?  She's a local rock star!!  Her organizational skills make me jealous and she loves reading and has inspired my own child to read more.  She also adores doodles which is evident if you check out her blog at Forever in Fifth Grade.

So, in celebration of Teachers Helping Teachers, I'm sending Stephanie a Wendy's gift card.  This is our favorite lunch spot on monthly PD days - we always order a chili with cheese and sour cream and sometimes we even sneak in a small fry if we're feeling especially stressed.

Who are you going to celebrate this coming week?  Join up and pay it forward to your favorite teacher!

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Stress Free Tips for the end of the year and a Stress Free Giveaway too!

I'm joining in with #iteach345 to offer you a STRESS FREE giveaway and tips for a STRESS FREE end of the school year!

We all know how crazy the end of the school year is.  And if you're anything like me, sometimes you let things 'slide' a little more towards the end of the year - which can actually cause more stress in the long run.  I learned this the hard way but I'm passing my top five tips for a stress free end of the year on to you, so you won't suffer like I did my first few years of teaching.

Have you heard the phrase, "Prior Proper Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance"?  Its one of my husband's favorites as a coach.  And it applies to pretty much everything in life from grocery shopping to school work.  In August and September I spend hours of 'prior proper planning' by completing my lesson plans the weekend before. Even though it takes hours, it saves me time in the long run because during the week I am organized and prepared, things run smoothly, and I have less stress.  So the planning before hand actually makes for a LESS STRESSFUL week.  However, as April and May (and in Michigan - June) approach, sometimes this prior proper planning gets the back seat to sunshine and relaxation.  I pay for it with stress and I become a living example of the phrase "running around like a chicken with my head cut off."  Been there?  So my tip to myself and you for a stress free end of the year, is don't slack on that lesson planning!!!

Maybe a shiny new Erin Condren planner will help bring some enthusiasm back to your weekly planning?  I have great news for you - the amazing and talented Erin Condren is offering 25% off all teacher planners and 40% off all life planners right now - to celebrate teacher appreciation month!!!

Here's what my planner (that I purchased last year during the Teacher Appreciation Sale) looks like, and see, I'm already working on my lesson plans for this coming week - intermingled with some blogging, instagramming and facebooking as usual!!  Gotta love the 21st century!


I know you already know this one, but sometimes it's good be reminded, right?  To ensure a STRESS FREE end of the school year, stay consistent with your behavior expectations!  Again, as the end nears, I sometimes feel myself wanting to slack off and let them get away with things I used to not allow.  I'm tired, it's been a long year, it's easier to just look the other way, only a few more weeks right?  Wrong!  The minute my expectations drop, the instant my stress level will rise.  Our students are smart, we've taught them well. They catch on quickly to a lack of consistent expectations and you'll regret that lack of better judgement pretty quickly.

You're tired, I'm tired, the students are tired, and our usual lessons may not work quite as well at the end of the year, which can invoke STRESS in even the most veteran of teachers.  So my third tip for a stress free end of the year is to plan your lessons as if ALL of your students have ADHD!!!  LOL  Just kidding, but really, as the end of the year nears - plan more engaging activities.  Get them outside to read or write on the playground; teaching measurement? - hold a measurement olympics; reading stamina lacking? start a competition; students tuning out during social studies - hold mock trials (more to come about this soon - we are beginning ours this week.)  Get the picture?  We just have to  think a little differently at the end of the year to keep those students engaged and our hair intact.

Read for pleasure!  Simply put, take some time for yourself each night to read before bed.  Don't allow yourself to think about work, school or anything STRESS related.  Just read!!  Even if it's only for 10 minutes.  Look how much reading I've done this year and I only read for a few minutes (well sometimes more than a few LOL) before bed.  If you follow me on Instagram @mobryanwildaboutfifth you've already seen this picture this week!

I've saved the best tip for last.  Smile!  You have a glorious summer vacation looming.  You can see the light at the end of the tunnel.  Just smile!  You'll make it, and in the meantime, focus on the difference you've made with each and every mind in your classroom.  Research suggests that smiling reduces STRESS and helps the heart.  I promise, google it!!!  

Now, it's time for you to enter our STRESS FREE giveaway and have the opportunity to relieve some stress with one of FOUR amazing prizes.  Make sure you scroll through the prizes to see them all!!  All you have to do to enter is like our TPT stores.  You can't get much less stressful than that!!  Good luck!!!

Lastly, check out all of the other amazing bloggers at #iteach345.  They have some STRESS FREE tips to share as well.  Enjoy!

Friday, March 13, 2015

5 for Friday - laptops, newsela, student treasures, writing in math, test prep, whew!

Wow, the amazing weather in Michigan this week has made me sooooo happy!  I can't stop smiling. It's been a long time since we've seen sunshine and grass (even though it's brown) around here.  The time change has helped my mood as well, it was actually light out past 7:30 last night! I'm just ecstatic.  The only downside is my students have a bit o' the spring fever setting in.  But it's a fair trade off for daylight and warmth.  The energy is kicking in Room 206 and we've been busy this week publishing books on our brand new HP laptops, closely reading nonfiction articles from, devouring The Weirder School book series, writing in math class and test prepping (our state test is coming up in just a few weeks, yikes!) common core vocabulary!

WE GOT AN HP LAPTOP CART!!!!  I'm always so insanely jealous of all you 1:1 schools, and now I can pretend we are 1:1 for a few hours a week.  :)  We tried them out for the first time today, We are finishing up the publishing of our Student Treasures books.  If you  haven't heard of Student Treasures, check them out.  They offer FREE publishing kits.  We are using them school wide.  You can choose to publish a class book where every student gets two pages in the book for their story/essay/poem and illustration.  You get one FREE copy for the class and students can purchase a copy of the book if they wish.  This is what most of the teachers in our school choose because it's very manageable to publish.  The best part though is once a few teachers in your group choose to publish class books, they open up the option to publish individual books.  I always try to do this option because every student gets to publish a 14 page book AND they each get a FREE copy. They can also purchase additional copies if interested. You can't beat FREE books for your entire class.  But, publishing a 14 page book is definitely time consuming so you have to keep that in mind.


We are immersed in nonfiction right now and I am finding most of our shared reading texts from Newsela!  I absolutely L.O.V.E. this website because new articles are added frequently and the most amazing part is that every article is available at several lexile levels, so you can print the level that's appropriate for your students.  Plus, most of the articles come with text dependent questions (quizzes) and MORE!  And, it's FREE.

I love nothing more than when a reluctant reader finds a series to love.  That has happened with some readers in my room and the Weirder School series by Dan Gutman.  I'm over the moon!  They are just tearing though these books.  So this week I used some Amazon bonus points (thank you TPT conference) and purchased more titles.  There are seriously more books in this series than I can count!!  They arrived yesterday and the smile on one reader's face made my entire week.  These books are perfect for DRA level 28-34 readers!

Thanks to daylight savings time, I've been able to work on my next Math Journal Response Prompt set this week. It's funny how just a little bit of extra daylight makes the day seem longer.  This newest response journal set is focusing on measurement of three dimensional shapes & volume.  I can't wait to add it to my set of growing response prompts. We use these response prompts daily during math class as formative assessments. Hopefully this newest set will be posted to TPT within the next few weeks.

Double yikes, our state test is coming up in just a few weeks.  It will actually start the day we return from spring break.  I know, right?!?  In Michigan we've always tested in the fall over the previous grade level's expectations, so switching to the spring and testing over the current grade level's expectations is a huge deal for us and we are feeling the pressure.  To alleviate some testing anxiety we are getting very familiar with the critical verbs of the common core.  We are studying a new word each day and adding it to our growing bank of academic vocabulary.  We aren't going to let these critical verbs stump us on the M-Step.  No way!  Check out this FREEBIE week of critical verb instruction with a quiz included if you're interested!

Enjoy the weekend everyone and bask in the sunlight and warmth!!!!

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