Wednesday, December 24, 2014

A Christmas Potpourri Post and a Sale!

Well, it's Christmas Eve and it's 6:55 am when I started typing this post. I just can't sleep. I wish I could say it was from Christmas excitement, like when you're a little kid, but it's more of a boring grown-up "mind spinning, thoughts running around in the head like crazy" kind of non-sleep. Anyway, I was thinking that since it's Christmas Eve, I would put all of my Christmas products on sale in my TPT store for 50% off. I know our teacher holiday season is over, but hey, you can stock up for next year. (That's what we do at Target after Christmas, right? Who's ready to stock up on all that cuteness at 50% off????)

Here's a quick glance at my seasonal products. (Click on the pictures to take you to that page!)
"Elf" Movie Task Cards + Bonus Internet Craftivity

A Season for "Merry-Mint"- Christmas Reward Activities

***Here are some pictures of my class in action with some of these activities we did from my  "A Season for Merry-Mint" packet:
(singing carols to our administrators)
You can get the elf hats here. Thanks, Laura Boriack - Over the 1st Grade Rainbow  

(our head of school read them a Christmas story - The Gingerbread Pirates, so cute!)

(we read Christmas stories with a few younger students in the school)

(our last item was a Christmas party, of course!)

***I had originally planned to do a Secret Santa week gift exchange with another class. However, the week before we planned this, the other teacher got a new student in her class and our student numbers weren't even anymore. This is why I don't plan things in advance! I had to come up with an alternate plan at the last minute, and a HUGE thank you goes to Farley over at Oh Boy Fourth Grade for saving my life with the idea of a stocking stuffer party!!!! My kids loved it. They acted like it was Christmas morning!!!!

Creative Thinking - 12 Fun Christmas List Activities

The Stockings Were Hung - Fiction & Nonfiction Text Summar

I'm also going to put the rest of my store on sale as well. Might I make a recommendation? My "Frozen Movie Task Cards" was a popular item this month! You KNOW those kids will be watching it all Christmas break...why not use those as a "reintroduce students back to the real world slowly" activities? You're meeting them where they are (hopped up on sugar, tired from playing and lack of a schedule) and they are reading and showing their comprehension all at the same time. I like when they are learning and don't know it!

Frozen Movie Fast Facts Task Cards

Merry Christmas to all of you! Have a restful break and recharge for the new year! :)

Friday, December 5, 2014

Five for Friday 12/5/14

Even though Doodle Bugs Teaching is taking a break from her linky parties, I decided to post this up anyway! Happy Friday!

 We use Sadlier's Vocabulary Workshop Book A. It is a middle/high school SAT/ACT vocabulary prep workbook, and I have to say, some of the words are really hard. There are words in some of the units that I've never even heard of before...words like "manacle." I don't think I'd ever heard of that before, or at least, not to my knowledge.

Anyway, my (special ed) students had trouble with a large chunk of the words this week, so I decided to do what works best for them - I used picture clues to match to the words. I made flaps with the words on the outside. They cut out the word flaps and glued them onto a large sheet of construction paper. They then used picture "cards" that I had made for them to glue the pictures under the correct vocabulary word flap. Some of the pictures were obvious as to which vocabulary word they matched, but with others, they had to really think about what word the picture was showing. For example, I had a picture of Santa Claus to match "jovial" - that was easy. But, for the word "onset," I had a picture of a kid with chicken pox on his back. It was meant to show the onset of chicken pox, or the beginning of the illness.

Here is a look at the flaps. I put them out in the hallway, and we did a last "look-through" the cards and pictures before our test. It really helped them. Their post-test scores improved tremendously!

I just used Google images to search for pictures. Otherwise, I would share the file with you!

What do you do to help your students with difficult vocabulary???

We're obviously in the holiday spirit and doing some holiday-related crafts and activities, and one of the fun ones my technology students did this week was from Computer Teacher Solutions. It was a technology-related version of the 12 Days of Christmas. It was a simple MS Word activity where the students typed the techie version of the song and made the page "their own." They added a festive border, fun fonts, and changed the font colors to Christmas-colored fonts. They really enjoyed it! I have to say, too, that they look great outside the tech room door for the season! Here are some student samples:

(Again, I couldn't get these darn pictures to turn upright - I tried everything. If anyone has any tips for fixing this, please help!) :)

We had to do report cards for term 2 this week. We used to have 3 terms, but we added a fourth one this year because our progress reports weren't "very helpful" to the parents. I don't mind doing report cards, but man, I feel like I just finished the last round. I have a literacy class with 7 students, and that's no issue, but I also teach technology to the entire school. I have over 100 report cards with grades AND COMMENTS for all of those kids. I know I'm whining. I need to be thankful that I have a job, and things could definitely be worse!

Two words: CHRISTMAS. SHOPPING. I feel like I haven't done ANYTHING yet. I know I've shopped for my own child, but I still have so much more to be done. Is anyone else feeling like they're barely treading water???

My literacy class is reading the book, Wonder, by RJ Palacio. It is an amazing story about a boy named August who has a deformed face. All he wants is to be treated normally since he feels that he is completely normal. He gets bullied and mistreated, as one could imagine, but the story is about how he overcomes all of this and how his friends (and classmates who are not his "best" friends) change and become better people because of him. I think it's the first time since high school that I've cried as much as I have, especially while reading a book. It is SUCH a good story. I can't recommend it enough. If you are looking for a great book to read over the holidays, pick this one!!! You can click here to get it.

photo courtesy of Amazon 

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Christmas Countdown

My students are doing my "Christmas Countdown" activities this week. They are LOVING it. You can check out this product here, but basically, at the end of each day, we pull a candy cane from my container. I have papers and a number wrapped around them. They unwrap the paper, read the card, and the next day, we do whatever the card says. It's not a new idea - it's similar to Advent activities, but anyway...
Did I mention my kids are loving it? 
(I could NOT get this picture turned upright. I'm so sorry.)

Today we decorated another teacher's door. I used a simple ornament bulletin board activity from First Grade Blue Skies. You can see it here. My students really enjoyed the simple craft and they LOVED surprising this teacher. The teacher was so excited and my students were in heaven when she noticed and told them how much she loved it. 

We decided to give the candy canes to a teacher or staff member each day - just another way we can show some random kindness. So far, the teachers love getting a little treat and the kids can't wait until the end of class to see what will come next! Oh, the magic of Christmas!

It really put me in the Christmas spirit, even though sometimes it's hard to get into the Christmas spirit as an adult these days. Things are so much busier and hectic as an adult. Does anyone else feel this way?

Saturday, November 15, 2014

What did the Rat Say?

Wow, it's been way too long since I blogged. I'm glad to be back and I'm glad to come back with a free activity! :)

My class worked on a little dialogue practice the other day. We use Essentials for Writing in my literacy class, which is a HIGHLY prescriptive book for middle/high school students who are more than two years behind in their writing skills. So most of the time, I'm reading from a script, and it's very teacher-directed. My students need that, I get it, but sometimes, I need something a little more inspiring to get them to want to write more. Most of my students are very creative and pretty good writers. They just have trouble staying on topic, and grammar/mechanics are very tricky. 

I recently bought a book at our school's Scholastic book fair called Good News Bad News by Jeff Mack. I don't know about you, but I will typically purchase a book that I think I can use for a particular skill, and this one lent itself beautifully to cause and effect practice. However, I picked it up the other day and read it cover to cover. In my head, I was adding dialogue to the rabbit and rat on each page. What happens in the story is the rabbit suggests a picnic to the rat, but bad things keep happening, preventing them from having their picnic. The rat points out all of the "bad news" and the rabbit tries to look at the positive side of things, which is what is pictured on the "good news" pages. I've always used wordless books to work on dialogue skills. But, this book works great as well. You could also use it to add that cause and effect practice before or after dialogue skills. 

You can check out the book here:

You can also click on the picture to take you to the Amazon page. 

Since it IS close to Thanksgiving, I wanted to GIVE away my little dialogue activity that goes with this book. Check it out here, or click on the pictures below to take you to my TPT page where you can download for FREE! :)

Here are some more sample pages:
Here is the first page of the worksheet. I put pictures of a rabbit and a rat on each line so it would be easy to see who is speaking (even though I included who was speaking in each sentence). 

You could have students complete this entire worksheet independently. However, to have a line for each page in the book (for each character's "dialogue"), I had to put 23 sentences in, so that might be a little overwhelming for one sitting. I ended up letting my students work with a partner. You could easily cut apart the strips and give each student one or two to punctuate, or you could cut apart a few strips and give a set to groups of three or four. As always, do what works best for your students. 

You do NOT have to read the book with your class for them to use this activity. Students can simply read the sentences and punctuate them correctly. 

Please leave feedback if you end up using this activity. I would love to know how it worked for your class. 

Enjoy the freebie! And enjoy your weekend. Stay warm - it's a balmy 28 degrees here in Louisville, Kentucky right now!!! Brrr!!!

Thursday, July 31, 2014

A Sale and a Freebie!

We all knew it was coming...and thank goodness! It's here! The annual TPT Back to School Sale!!! Stock up now on all of your favorites. Check out my store to get my products 20% off and be sure to use the TPT code BTS14 to save an extra 10%!!! Click on the picture to take you to my store!

Here's a little freebie for you and an idea...

Do you use in your classroom? Do your students practice typing? I am a technology teacher at the school where I teach, and my intermediate and middle school students spend at least 25% of their time in my class each week practicing typing. One game I use is SkyChase. Click here to go directly to the game. If you go to the game, you can still access games – there’s a lot on that website, and it is very student-friendly.

Anyway, SkyChase (or Keyboarding Chase – it’s called both on the website), according to, “is an educational multi-player racing game that allows students from anywhere in the world to race one another while practicing typing and keyboard skills!”

Sometimes, I allow my students to play just for fun. Other times, I want some formative assessment as to how my students are doing with a quick typing “assessment”. I give them typing tests at the beginning of each term, but if I need a quick score to update where they are in the semester, this is a good one to give me as estimate.

The key to “winning” the race is to type the words that pop up the fastest. The faster you type, the more your airplane moves ahead of the group. The words that pop up above the keyboard are not too hard – the one in the picture is “far”. They do get a little harder as you progress. Even if you don’t win, you still get a accuracy and rate score. That is what I have the kids record. Where do they record this, you ask? On my SkyChase Recording Sheet! What I do is tape it up on my whiteboard and once my students finish their game, they write their names on the sheet along with the accuracy and rate. I take down the sheet, hole punch it, and put it in my grades binder so I can check their WPM (words per minute) score and average them out by the end of the semester. This also shows me the students who need to spend some extra time practicing typing rather than playing other “sponge” games when they’re through with other tasks.

(I couldn't get the picture to turn upright. I'm so sorry!)

Click on the picture below to download my SkyChase recording sheet! If you have any questions, email me at  or message me in the comments below. J

Now, go stock up on TPT! :)

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Do you love LEGO?

Again, I feel like a giddy little school girl. I published my second TPT product today: my LEGO Movie Fast Fact Reading Comprehension Task Cards! I absolutely love TPT and I thought for sure that I would be able to find some things that interest my students, like the "LEGO Movie" and "Frozen", and I did find a few things, but not everything I wanted. So I decided to make them myself and share them with anyone who wants to use them with their students. 
If you have ideas of movies or books you would like for me to create task card sets for, please let me know. Email me at or message me in the comment section below. By the way, if you would like to purchase the LEGO Movie task cards, you can get them here.

While my mind is on LEGO, I thought I would share a blog that I've been following lately, and she has some GREAT LEGO stuff to share. She is Allison Waken from All for the Boys. You can get to her blog here. She recently posted about LEGO art and LEGO parties with TONS of pictures and ideas. Is it too early to plan my 18 month old son's LEGO birthday party (in January)?

So does anyone have any unique uses for LEGOs in their classrooms? Do you use them as rewards? Do you have any cool lessons using LEGOs?

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Organizing Digital Files

Ok, this blog entry is going to be more of a discussion post than informational. I want to know how you all organize your digital files. I mean, I don't know how many of you download files from TPT on a DAILY basis like me, but I have a difficult time filing things in an organized way where I can easily find them later. Instinctively, I try to organize things into as few folders as possible, but when I try to find things later, I end up looking through a thousand files in one folder and I end up giving up looking for a file because it takes too long! I mean, you can only spend so long looking for one file!

This is a visual representation of what my digital files look like:

I was inspired by a pin from Cara at Kindergarten Boom Boom about how she organized her file folders and color-coded them! However, I don't have a Mac, so I don't have the ability to color-code. I WISH I did - that would be amazing. I would color-code my whole life if I could! :)

Therefore, I just want to hear from all of you (any of you??? Is anyone out there reading this?) about how you organize your files. Do you organize them by TPT seller? How do you organize fonts? By seasons? Type? What about fonts? Commercial use vs. personal use? By TPT seller?

Leave your thoughts in the comments below! Happy Tuesday!

Friday, July 18, 2014

FROZEN Movie Fast Facts Reading Comprehension Cards

Well, I finally did it. I posted a new product on TPT (!!! I am so excited! It's a task card set about the movie, "Frozen". I actually looked for something related to the movie on TPT earlier this summer (I promise I'm taking time to enjoy my summer and not spending all of my time getting ready for fall ;), and there was nothing out there! I had wanted to sell some things on TPT for a while, but everything I wanted to put on there was already there and I didn't feel the need for redundancy. So, it was the perfect time to start selling!

Hopefully, if you're reading this, you'll go check out my product posting here. While you're there, please click the star by my name to "follow me" so you'll get updates on any new products I post. 
Here's a teaser....coming soon! (Lego Movie task cards)
Picture courtesy of (