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Sunday, August 19, 2012

Guest Post by Angela Watson & a Fab Giveway!

I'd like to welcome the beautiful and FABULOUS Angela Watson of TheCornerstoneForTeachers.com.  She was a classroom teacher for eleven years, and currently works as an instructional coach and educational consultant based in New York City.      


   Thanks so much for inviting me to share about my books! Last summer, I published Awakened: Change Your Mindset to Transform Your Teaching to share the story of how I went from being professionally burned out to feeling rejuvenated and ready to handle whatever life in the classroom brings. In the book, I explain the practical steps I took--and that you can also take--to develop thought habits that produce an unshakeable sense of contentment, motivation, and purpose.

There are a lot of aspects of teaching we can't control. But Awakened shows you how to focus on the aspects that you do have influence over so that you increase your perception of control. It shares how to lessen the demands you feel, decrease the mental and emotional energy you expend, and enhance your positive, rewarding feelings.
Those sound like pretty abstract concepts, but I approach them through the lens of my own experience so that each principle is tied closely to daily classroom life and has lots of practical applications. I share stories of big mistakes I've made, and what I've learned from there. Some of my story is tied into my faith. But Awakened is not a Christian book: it was written to speak to ALL educators, regardless of their faith or lack thereof.
The Awakened Devotional Study Guide for Christian Educators For those who do want to seek out the biblical truths behind Awakened, I published The Awakened Devotional Study Guide for Christian Educators. The guide elaborates on what the Bible has to say about renewing our minds. It’s 8.5 x 11 and is designed to be a workbook where you can record your thoughts and respond to what you’ve read.

Each devotion is 4 pages: the first page includes the corresponding Awakened reading and an opening reflection where you can write down your initial thoughts as well as notes from Awakened if needed. The second page has the devotion and a wide left margin for notetaking. The third page has the application questions (with space for your responses) and an additional scripture reading (with space to add other related Bible verses you’re reminded of.) The fourth page has a “to do” challenge with a work space and a prayer.
Awakened Devotional sample pages
You can use The Awakened Devotional Study Guide for Christian Educators on your own or with a group in your community. I’m also offering the first and only online Bible study developed specifically for educators. We're only two weeks into the study right now: it began August 5th and continues through the week of January 27, 2013, so it's not too late to join! We’ll be working through one devotion together on a weekly basis. The application questions will be posted on a private blog each Sunday. You can read and respond to the devotion any time during that week, and then the next set of questions will be posted the following Sunday.

Here are the details and sign-up for the online Bible study group and to get ordering/purchasing information. You can also read the reviews of the book and online Bible study book club from those who participated in the focus group.

 Thank you for letting me share this with you today. I hope that Awakened and The Awakened Devotional Study Guide help you maintain your enthusiasm for teaching this school year, no matter what daily challenges come your way. You can find all sorts of free teacher resources on my website, or check out my blog of free devotions for teachers. Enjoy!


Angela has offered to give away a copy of either or both of these books to one reader of Fabulous Fourth Grade Froggies!   Enter by following the instructions below.  Good Luck!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, August 10, 2012

See how much your students know about you, Clipart, Winner and more...

It's always fun to see what your new students know about you or actually think what they know about you.  I've shared this little survey before but it was over a year ago so I thought I would share it again. I didn't create the original but retyped a hard copy a coworker had. I usually have this on my students desks when they come in on the first day of school.  Most students come to "Meet the Teacher" night which is on the Thursday evening before school starts but I don't tell them anything about me....just my name.   After the students fill these out I look over them real quick usually with a chuckle or two and then go over the real answers with my students.  As silly as it sounds the students LOVE to hear when they get an answer right.  I like reading how old they think I am, except for the kids who put he thought I was 64 years old because my glasses looked like his great grandmas glasses.  Yup, GREAT grandma not even just a grandma.  LOL!  {Download your copy here}


As you know, I LOVE frogs and I am a bit addicted to frog clipart!  I just bought some Halloween and Fall frog clipart from Scrappin Doodles.  Look how cute it is!     They have a coupon code right now that you can use to get 15% off a purchase of $5.00 or more.  Just use coupon code:  AUGUST2012  The other picture is some new clipart they have that they announced in their newsletter.  


I decided to make a classroom blog/website.  I hate to brag but it's the CUTEST blog eva! 
Click here to check it out...... what do you think? 
Christi Fultz from Design by Christi created it for me.  Not only does she have incredible prices but she is so darn talented!  If you are thinking about starting a blog or want to change of the look of yours I would sooooooooooo go to Design by Christi!  Some of you may know her by her fabulous teaching blog, Ms. Fultz's Corner!  I like it so much I want to get this blog redesigned by Christi but since its still pretty new I won't.... for now. :)


And now for the winner of the ETA hand2mind...

Check your email Alisha! 


Make sure to check out Classroom DIY and see my cute gift for parents to give them at parent orientation night.
Have  a great weekend!

Monday, August 6, 2012

Math toolkit, DIY- Monday Made It & A Giveaway!

Are you back at school yet?  Not me.  I still have about a week before the staff development and setting up my classroom starts.  However, I did meet with my team today to talk about implementing Daily 5 and CAFE, P.E.A.C.E. Club (more info coming on a later post), and making some decisions we needed to make as a team.  We had so much fun talking and laughing and our meeting was very productive. We have so many fun activities planned throughout the year and I can't wait to share them with you as they occur!  We have two new team members and love that all 6 of us get along so well.  I hope its 4th grade's best year yet!  Nothing is better then liking and getting along with the people you work closely with everyday!!!!!

This is a lengthy post.  Don't forget to scroll all the way down for the giveaway!
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As educators we all know the name ETA Cuisenaire, right? Well they have changed their name to ETA hand2mind better reflect their position as the leader in hands-on resources.  Between you and me I think its a great move.....not just because it does describe the company perfectly but it's also a heck of a lot easier to spell!

ETA hand2mind has given me the wonderful opportunity to review their Home Team Advantage Math Toolkit and give one away!   The Math Toolkit provides manipulative-based activities, including VersaTiles, to provide a students hands-on practice on their grade level.  This is the perfect product to send home with a student to help build that learning partnership between home and school.  It's also awesome to use as a tutoring tool.

The kit comes in this blue string backpack for easy transport and storage. There are a bunch of goodies included.  The guide book you see in the picture above has a note to the families in  both English and Spanish. One of my favorite items is the daily practice calendar found in the guide (also pictured above).  It has 6 weeks of  daily "plans" (in both English and Spanish).  How awesome is that?  Everything is already planned out for you and the child. The guides explains the "what" and "why" of each manipulative.  Then the guide moves to the Math activities.  Each activity has an explanation of the "lesson" and a corresponding practice page as seen below.  I also love that each activity includes an Write/Draw Extension Activity.

Here are some of the manipulatives found in the kit.  The fractions towers are really cool because they have the fraction written on one side, the equivalent decimal on another side, and the equivalent percent on the third side.  The fourth side is left blank.

To see more specific information on the kit  CLICK HERE.  The Math tool kits are available for grades 3-5 and are only $34.95 each.

I think I will use this with some of my students who need the extra practice and perhaps don't get the extra support at home.  I plan on sitting one on one with a student and go through the activities as if I was tutoring them.  Maybe I will even use it during recess once a week where I will schedule "special" time with a student where we use the kit to play games (the activities) and practice while "playing".

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Once again, I am joining Tara from Fourth Grade Frolics's Monday Made It!  The first thing I made wasn't really "making" but rather decorating.   Here is an example of a student book box (for Daily 5/CAFE).  I purchased 5 packs of cardboard magazine files from Ikea.  They were super cheap at only a pack of 5 for $1.99.  I then folded them together and reinforced the bottom of the boxes with duct tape.  Then I decided to add a "stripe" of peace sign duct tape to each box to make it look cute and to make it a bit sturdier.  I numbered all 22 boxes with stickers and that's it!
The next project I made is a gift for each of my teammates.  This is one of many Pinterest inspired projects I found to try.  The "Where Are We?" signs were made from: cardboard, scrapbooking paper, ribbon, stickers, a small clothespin, and mod podge.  I think the one that I saw on Pinterest was done on actual wood but I decided to try on a piece of cardboard so its lighter.    First I cut the scrapbook paper to the size of the cardboard and modpodged it on.   Next I put the stickers and ribbon, and clothespin down. I modpodged over the entire thing. Let it dry and put another coat on.  The cardboard started curling up a bit but it was not problem flatten it down with my hands.  To finish it off I added a ribbon for hanging.
Come on over and join Tara's Monday Made it and see what others are making and while you are there join the linky and show us your DIYs.

OK, now for the giveaway.  Simply fill out the form below.  Giveaway ends on Thursday, August 9th at midnight central time.  The winner will be announced on Friday, August 10th.  
Make sure you follow my blog.  Like me on facebook and like ETA on facebook)

Saturday, August 4, 2012

First Day of School Fun & Currently

Have you started school yet?  Students start on August 27th in my school district and teachers officially start on August 20th, although many of us have been busy attending staff development and making things for our classroom already.

Today I thought I would share with you some of my tried and true first day of school activities.  They are favorites of mine and my students and a great way to start off the year.....  Puzzle Races and Saving Fred.

First the puzzle races.  All you need to do is to divide your class into groups of 4-5 students and you need some puzzles.  I set up my student desks in in groups of 4-5 students so that is how I decide my groups. You can find inexpensive puzzles at the dollar store and even Target's dollar spot.  Of course you should pick a puzzle size that is appropriate to the age of students you have. I buy 100 piece puzzles and its perfect for my 4th graders.  I always buy the same puzzle for each group so no one can claim that their group's puzzle was harder or easier. :)  The puzzles I am using this year are pictured to the left.  I bought them for a dollar each at Target. 
 I give each "team" a puzzle and tell them they must work together to complete the puzzle before the other teams finish theirs.  The conversations that go on are priceless.  You will learn a lot from your students by just watching and listening.   Once every group has completed their puzzles we have a talk about what some of the groups good strategies were.  I've heard everything from "we did the border of the puzzle first" to "we didn't get bossy with each other".  

Now for the Saving Fred.  For this fun activity you will need: a gummy worm, a gummy ring, a plastic cup, and paper clips per group.  You can do this activity in partners but I prefer to do it in small groups.  In fact, I like to use the same groups that did the puzzles together.  I also usually do this activity the second day of school and do the puzzle race on the first day. 

To set this up you will need to but a ring on the desk with the plastic cup upside down over the gummy ring and put a gummy worm on top of the cup.   The story is that Fred (the gummy worm) can't swim so he always has to wear a life preserver (the ring). However, his boat (the cup) capsized/flipped over before he put on his life preserver.  It is the students job to work together to get the life preserver on Fred and the only rule is you cannot touch the Fred, his boat, or the life preserver with your hands. Hence, the paper clips... the only "tool" the students can use is the paper clips. Talk about team work and strategies!  This is a great activity for both!
If you try either activity, I would love to hear how it turned out!  Now it's time to link up with Farley at Oh Boy 4th Grade's currently linky!
The back to school must haves are a bit of a weird combination but they are definitely must haves!
I don't have the Silhouette YET but I will one day soon!  It doesn't require cartridges like the cricut but does the same thing!
I love gummy bears and keep them at work for whenever I need a sweet treat!  They also are good treat to have when you are stressed like testing time. :)  Of course post its don't need any explanation...who doesn't love them?
Have super weekend my friends!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Back to School Must Haves and 'Working Wilsons'

Its August 2nd and that means I only have about 2 weeks left of my summer.  I love my summers but to be honest, I think I am ready to be in back to school mode!

I am so thrilled to be a part of this awesome Back to School Must Haves E-Magazine! I am even more thrilled to be able to share it with you!  This super cool emagazine has everything from fashion to professional books to grade specific must haves (PreK- Middle School).  All contributors are incredible teacher bloggers who have terrific recommendations for all sorts of must haves!

I am not sure what I was thinking but I've come up with another little classroom management gimmick  technique.  I'm calling them Working Wilsons.  The idea was inspired by all the "quiet critters" I've seen on Pinterest.

I am lucky to have my son, Jake, help me but  we are not even close to finishing these little creatures motivators but I wanted to take a break and share them with you. First of all, I've been saving this empty giant pretzel container for so long so I was happy to finally find a use for it. Second, WTH was I thinking?  I bought like300 pom poms, a billion colored wiggly eyes, and a lot of foam hearts.  Uh duh Lorraine, they sell these guys already made!  Oh well!

I took pictures of the plastic jar with plain poms poms with a few Working Wilsons on top just so you get the idea.  When I having enough wine or pay my son big bucks or maybe both find more time I will make all 300 pom poms into Working Wilsons.

Here's what I'm thinking....  When students are at their desks (which I have in groups of 4 or 5) and they are on task either working independently or even cooperatively, I will randomly give the group a Working Wilson to display on the desks.  The students will collect these throughout the day.  It's  a visual reminder to stay on task and do what your suppose to be doing.  At the end of the day the amount of Working Wilsons each group has earned will be noted on the board and the Working Wilsons will be returned to the jar.  Each day, Monday through Friday, students will earn Working Wilsons and the "score" will be tallied up at the end of the week.  The "team" with the most points at the end of the day on Friday has the choice of eating lunch with me in the classroom the following week or picking out a Working Wilson of their very own to keep. :)

Will this work?  I have no idea!  And as much as I prefer to eat lunch with my teammates in the teachers lounge I hope the kids pick "eat lunch with teacher" because I am not sure how many more of these darn darling Working Wilsons I can make :)

I hope this excites desk mates to encourage each other to stay on task and work cooperatively.

This may be a big hit with my kiddos or it may big a flop but it sounds good in my head.  What do you think?  Would this work in your classroom?