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Saturday, June 30, 2012

Top Teachers' Blog Swap - Guest post by Fern Smith

 Beware, It Is Not Too Pretty!
This blog post is not for those of you that are looking for a cute, artsy, adorable way to label your AR Books! Run now and run fast if you are looking for thematic, high graphic stickers! :)
So, I'm teasing you, but I've been around the block a time or two and let's face it, our classroom libraries will never look as adorable as what we see on OTHER TEACHER'S BLOGS!!! 
Oh yeah, you know what I mean, some teachers have made entire Pinterest Boards with all sorts of cute "Teacher Library" pictures! But, I'm going to let you in on a secret, I bet their kids never get to use many of those classroom library books!
There Are Lovers of Books and 
There Are Keepers of Books.
I am a ♥lover♥ of books!
I have no desire to hoard books, or to be a "Keeper of Books." I want my students to love reading so much that they can't wait to get their hands on more and more books. I have left teaching a few times ~ twice to be a stay at home mom and once to go to real estate school {stop laughing!} and every time I leave I GIVE everything away ~ I know, DUH!! right?
So when I return to the classroom this year I had to start all over again. I've built a nice classroom library from garage sales and the Friends of the Library big sales. But this year I only taught Math and Science, so I didn't really need to spend time organizing the library. The books were just hanging out for the children who came to school early, while I watched them for morning duty.
I DO NOT do any difficult check out system for my library. 
Check out systems usually just exhaust the teachers and cause them more unneeded stress! :( If a book is too expensive, don't put it in your library.
I let every child take 2 books home each night. I tell them, over and over again, "I trust you. Just tell me the truth if something happens to it." It helps to build a relationship between myself and the child, especially at lower income schools where many of them don't have a lot of trust in their lives anyway. I might have lost a book or two over the years, but if their lives are that sad that they need to steal my book, their lives are that sad that they are welcome to keep my book! That's why I get my books for a quarter to a dollar at the sales, nothing too expense that I will be upset if they don't return it! :)
This next school year we are going to be self-contained
 and I will be teaching Reading again!
So everyday after summer school I've been organizing my library to get ready. 
Here is how I label my books ~
I write my name, the AR level and the test number in Sharpie Marker on the front.
 There are a few reasons why I do this ~
1. Marker, unlike labels, can't be pulled off by a student. If they leave it in the Computer Lab or cafeteria, "Smith" gets it returned to my class or mailbox.
2. When a child takes an AR quiz, sometimes it takes them the entire Daily Five Center time to find the quiz if they are typing the title incorrectly. I teach them just to type in the test number.
In this picture it would be 87265, the number is fast and usually leaves less room for a mistake.
3. They can immediately know if it is their level. There is no color chart that they have to match with a sticker on the cover. There is no need to open the book to figure it out. They can also file the book away quickly when they are done by reading level because it is right on the front.
4. Student helpers can also clean up and organize the library quickly with the number right on the front!

On my class web site {which needs some serious work}I have the AR BookFinder Widget so I can find the information out quickly about a new book I bring to the classroom.
 Here is what it looks like...
AR BookFinder
 And here is the code if you would like to put it on your site.

I also like this because the parents and students can use it at home to find a book level!
This is what the results look like...
 If it is not an AR book, here is another site that will help you will leveling books.

 Book Wizard
So if you are organizing your books this summer,
I hope a little of this info might have helped! :)
If you haven't read it yet, here is how I organize my read alouds!

I'd like to thank my bloggy buddy Fern for a terrific post! She is TOADally Awesome! Make sure you check out her blog.  We are participating in a terrific Top Teacher Blog Swap & Hop! 

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Great Back to School finds...

I know its pathetic but one of my favorite things about summer is the back-to-school sales!  There is something about buying a notebook for a dime that sends shivers up my spine.  The back to school sales in my area usually don't start until the second week of July so its a bit early.  

It may be a bit early to get school supplies on super sale but look what I found just browsing through Target.  As you know, I am doing a Peace, Love, and 4th Grade theme for next year and the self adhesive mirrored peace signs (for only $6.48) will be great fun to decorate my room with.  The the two Brain Twisters flash cards were found in the Dollar Spot...one of my favorite  spots in Target.  I also got 2 games on clearance for my class.  Scrabble Slam (half price for $7.44) and Ratuki ($4.88) will be a great addition to my recess games or even some "earned fun".
I already showed these on another post but here are some items I also bought from Vista print.  I had some credit on my account and I got good sales and paid barely anything for all these goodies and more that aren't included in the pic.  In the picture you can see my business card, a sign, bookmarks, notecards and a notepad.
This isn't much yet but summer just started! What bargains have you found for your classroom so far?Kristen from Ladybug's Teacher Files is having a Summer shopping Linky party.  Go see what others are shopping for!

Friday, June 15, 2012

Classroom Theme Linky Party!

As I am enjoying my summer, I am so excited thinking about my new classroom theme for next year.  I've decided to do a Classroom Theme Linky Party.  I know I'm not the only one that likes to see other's classrooms and themes. So blog about your classroom theme past, present, or future and include the linky party pic above (make sure you link up to this blog post).  Hopefully you can add pics! :)

So what is my theme you ask?  Well obviously frogs. However, my entire 4th grade team (all 6 of us) are going with the theme "Peace, Love, and 4th Grade". Crazy I know, a whole team agreeing on something but it's true!  We are getting T-shirts made to match....Thanks Blair! Oh yeah, I guess I should tell you that my theme is a tad different from my teammies...."Peace, Love, and 4th Grade FROGS!!!!!!!  Of course I couldn't do a theme without my frogs!  I am still looking for decoration ideas and some of my fabulous blogging buddies are helping me out too!  Here is my classroom website/blog for next year.  It has not info on it yet but the background and header is ready to go!
I plan on buying some tie dye material and make a valance or even make a valance with tie dye bandannas (thanks for the idea Jennifer!) I also went crazy creating and ordering things from Vistaprint!  Here are some of my fun creations:
contact info magnets
a vinyl banner
Here's my business card

Ok, now its your turn!  Show my your classroom themes!  Feel free to comment if you have any groovy frogilicious items that I may just HAVE to have for my classroom.  :)   

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Guest Blog from Denise at Sunny Days!

Hey there Fabulous Froggie Followers!

Denise here from Sunny Days. Thanks so much to my blog buddy Lorraine for allowing me to guest post today. I've been working closely with Spelling City over the last few months to explore the wealth of resources available to teachers and students. I've been so impressed with everything I've found and I'm thrilled to be able to share some with you today!

Let's focus on raising student's critical thinking and vocabulary by exploring analogies. Here's a little picture tutorial that will guide you through the free content available to you!

Be sure to check out all of the other great content waiting for you at Spelling City and if you ever have any questions, I'd be happy to help the best I can. Enjoy, my friends!

Thank you to my friend Denise for this great guest blog post.  I am going to give my 2 cents and say I love Spelling City and have used the premium version this entire past year.  Students loved it, parents loved it, and most of all students really benefited from using it.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Another Techie Tuesday Giveaway!

Happy Techie Tuesday my friends!
I am excited to tell you about an awesome product that I am giving away and I was privileged to try out  thanks to Learning Resources.  The Luna Interactive Projection Camera is an awesome, easy to use, must have, piece of equipment.

First of all, if you haven't taught with a document camera you don't know what you are missing!  Since using one, I can't teach without it!  Not only is it so easy to use with my promethean board but my students love to use it too.  This particular projection camera has a flexible neck so it can be moved up and down to show whatever image you want.  I've showed everything from a tiny meal worm to student presentations. I even show pictures from a book I am reading aloud on the projection camera so I don't hear "I can't see". The color of the image you're projecting in spot on, very clear and vibrant.
base of camera

I love using the camera to project a worksheet on my promethean board so the students can complete a question on the board itself or even do the work by looking a the projected worksheet and completed it in their journals(I've saved many trees not having to make so many copies).

This camera is so easy to use. It connects straight into your computer with a USB cord (that is provided) and is powered through the USB as well.  It has software that always the image to be on your computer screen as well as your board/screen.   It is MAC compatible too!  (You will need a projector or an interactive whiteboard in order to use this) It takes pictures and videos  (with audio) with just one touch!

source:  Learning Resources
I love that students can use this to show presentations but to be assessed too!   If you have ever been shopping for a projection camera you know that they are expensive.  A camera that does what this camera is capable of is minimum $500.  Learning Resources sells this camera for under $200.

You have the opportunity to win one of these FABULOUS interactive projection cameras right here!  But if you don't win and you are needing/wanting a projection camera I definitely recommend getting one of these.  You can't beat the quality for the price! Winner will be announced on Sunday June 17th.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, June 10, 2012

TX Blogger Fun, Giveaways, and my blog roll!

Hot! Hot! Hot!  Oh, not the ladies in this picture but the weather!  Well, I won't lie there are a bunch of Texas blogging hotties but I was talking about the HEAT!  Dang South Texas heat.... and apparently, Reagan (the tiny hottie in the green), forgot it is June because we ate outside and we all melted, especially me who is NOT a tiny hottie!  However, with all the laughs and a few cold drinks we were A.O.K!

I met Farley, Reagan, and Squirrels at Hobby Lobby and Farley drove us to Gruene, Texas to meet the others. Gruene is such a quaint little town full of history and fun!  It's only about 45 minutes from where I live.  Before I left, my daughter said, "Have fun and don't talk to strangers".  HAHAHAHA I never really thought about my fellow bloggers as strangers but in fact they were.  I was about to go in a car with 3 people I met on the internet..... was I coo coo for cocoa puffs?  It weird that I trusted them just like I would my real "in person" friends and now they are my real "in person" friends so when I'm called crazy its not for "talking to strangers"!

We had so much fun laughing, eating, sweating, and laughing some more.  I wish I took more pics but this is all I have folks.

Please don't feel like you need to enter because I want to win  (I'm kidding...kinda! There will be more then one winner) but if you want a chance to win some UH-MAZE-ING prizes you need to visit Laura Candler's Corkboard Connections!  There are over $2000 worth of prizes! HOLLA! That's not a typo, there are really three zeroes after the 2!

I have almost the same amount of fb followers as Laura....only 49,000 + to go!  LOL!
 Make sure your hop on over to my Blog Roll page to visit other Fabulous blogs!  If you have an educational blog please link up in what ever category your blog fits under.  I go to my blog roll and visit all the blogs quite frequently.

Tune in on Tuesday for an awesome giveaway I am having!  I will be giving away a Luna Interactive Projection camera sponsored by Learning Resources - a $199.99 value!

Have a frogilicious week!

Friday, June 8, 2012

Frogs, Zebras, & more Clipart!

I've had many of you ask where I find my fabulous frog clipart that I often use on my blog.  Well the answer is Scrappin Doodles! I am sooooooooooo addicted to cute clip, especially if they are frogs!  I'm even more addicted to great prices! LOL!  Scrappin Doodles is inexpensive!  I love that every Friday they send out a newsletter and look what's new today! More frog clipart!!!!!! Not only do I use the clipart on my blog but I use it to make my classroom newsletters, worksheets, etc.  My students (and their parents) love to see all the fabulous frogs!
The Zebras are adorable but it's the frogs I am buying today!  If you want to check out all the different frogs (or other clipart) just click on the Scrappin Doodles pic below and search for frogs.....you'll love what you find!  If you decide to make a purchase, make sure you use the coupon code JUNE2012 for a 15% discount when you spend at least $5.00 (excluding licenses & gift certificates).

Monday, June 4, 2012

Currently in June...

I am linking up to Oh Boy 4th Grade's Currently linky party!   You need to go check our her new blog design, it is FAB-U-LOUS!!!!! While you are there make sure you link up!

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Texas Blogger Meet-up for bloggers and followers!

You  are cordially invited to a Central TX Blogger meet up!
Come for good food, good laughs, and a plain ol' good time!
I'd love to meet you!  Let me know if you will be there!
See you in Gruene, jelly bean!

Friday, June 1, 2012

Happy Happy Happy Happy Happy!

So why am I so happy?  Well, let me tell you!  First of all I got a makeover!!!!! WOOHOO!!!!
No I didn't get my hair and make-up done, I got my blog redesigned! 
What do you think?  I absolutely love it!  Alicia from Dreamlike Magic "got me".  I am very hard to please and she changed and redid things until I fell in love with my design!  So if that isn't FABULOUS enough, Alicia has offered my followers a great deal from  her  Dreamlike Magic Esty Store!!!!  Her store has everything from clipart to blog designs to party printables.  Awesomeness!!!!  I actually purchased one of her premade templates for a new collaborative blog I am working on "We Read, We Blog, We Teach" (more to come on that in a minute but here's a sneak peak)
Anywho, here is your deal! Use coupon code FabFroggie and save 15% on all premade items and clipart in Dreamlike Magic's Esty Store!!!!

Well now that I already gave you a hint I might as well announce another reason I am so happy today and that is my new collaborative blog named We Read, We Blog, We Teach.   Some fabulous blogging buddies and myself were talking about doing a book study on The Daily 5 and The Cafe.  We had seen others discussing these two books but they were all for the younger grades.  Well fabulous friends, wait no longer! Myself and some terrific bloggers who teach grades 3 - 7 are doing an Upper Elementary Book Study and you are invited to join in on the fun! Get your copy of the books now so you are ready to go!  We will be discussing the both books and ways to implement the findings in our 3-7th grade classrooms.  YAY US! 
With all the excitement I decided to create a new blog for us to discuss and share with you!  It is just about ready but feel free to stop by and follow us so you don't miss a thing.  We will start discussing chapter 1 of The Daily 5 on July 1.  I will post the chapter schedule once we have everything set.  I invite you not only to follow We Read, We Blog, We Teach but participate in the discussion!  I decided to make this blog not only so we can do this book study but to continue doing book studies with other resources.  We will have all the "talk" in one place!

Reason #3 that I am happy is today was my last day work for the summer. I packed up my room as I laughed with my co-workers.  As I was finishing packing up my room I found out about a change on our 4th grade team.  Change isn't always good but this time it is!  My dear friend Blair (also my Thirty-One Gifts consultant) and my friend Jenna are moving to our 4th grade team! YIPEE!!!!!!!!  I am so excited, not only because they are friends, but they are FAB- U- LOUS teachers!!!!!  Our 4th grade team is going to kick some major boo-tay next year!

If you noticed, I wrote happy five times in my title so it must mean I have 5 extra exciting things making me happy, right?

Reason #4 - cake! Well, anniversary cake that is! My grandparents are celebrating their 71st wedding anniversary today! WOW WEE! 71 years?  That is a loooooooooooonnnnnnnnng time and a great reason for happy times, a party, and some cake!

And last but not least, reason #5... I have a winner of my awesome giveaway! There were 477 entries and number 127 won!          CONGRATULATIONS  AMELIA RIEHM COOK!

Alright fabulous friends, I need to put some finishing touches on the June edition of my newsletter before I send it out tonight.  I hope you have a happy happy happy happy happy day too!