Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Writer's Workshop

It's amazing how fast time flies once the end of July hits. We are down to just three short weeks!

 Anyways, we sat down at the end of last school year, to plan some things for this school year. One big change we are making this year, is that we are combining our Daily 5 and Writer's Workshop time. In our district, we have block scheduling. It is a fabulous thing when trying to coordinate things with other teachers, especially the intervention specialists. However, sometimes we feel it can put a time crunch on certain 'blocks' of time. This year we have decided to take our whole afternoon for reading/Daily 5. (For us that is just short of 2 hours!) We will be devoting 1 of our 3 mini-lessons each day to a 'writing mini-lesson'. The kiddos will have a chance to practice the skills that we will teach and model during this time, during their 'work on writing' choice of Daily 5. This seems to be the best way to incorporate both Writer's Workshop and Daily 5 into our afternoons.

Have you ever read this book?! If not, it is a must read! It has a year's worth of lessons to use with your kiddos. We have used this book for two years and are always impressed by the growth our kiddos make from the beginning of the year to the end of the year.

So, we knew how we were going to teach writing. We knew what we were going to teach. But we did not know how to get it all started. Of course that mean we needed to create something! Here is a peek at our Writer's Workshop: Getting Started pack.

This pack comes with 14 days worth of lessons to introduce Writer's Workshop to your kids, a list of trade books that accompany the lessons, a Writer's Workshop contract, a stamina graph, I-charts, as well as various brainstorming/planning pages for your students to use! 

Head on over to our TpT Store to check it out! You will find that the I-charts only are available for free there as well.
 Don't use Writer's Workshop in your classroom? Here is a freebie that you can use to fit your needs!

Try to enjoy the end of your summer.....while it is still here!

Monday, July 23, 2012

75 Follower Giveaway!

Wow, thanks to all of you bloggers who have decided to check us out! Because of you, we have reached 75 followers and that means it is time for a giveaway!

We have teamed up with these fellow bloggers

 Mrs. Barnes

Primary Possibilities

to give you the chance to win 5 fabulous learning packs.

Mrs. Barnes will be giving away her Unit Street learning pack. This is a great resource to use when discussing place value.

The ladies at Primary Possibilites are each giving away an item from their TpT stores:

A Jungle-Themed Classroom Pack

A Space-Themed Classroom Pack

and, a What's for Lunch? picture pack.

These items are perfect for back-to-school.

Finally, we will be giving away our Writer's Workshop: Getting Started pack. This is everything you will need to get writer's workshop up and running during the first few weeks of school.

The giveaway ends on Saturday, July 28th at 12:01 am. Be sure to enter below!

Congratulations to Kelly Brown for winning this give-away! We will be contacting you shortly with all of your learning packs. Thanks for entering!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, July 20, 2012

Blog Hoppin'

Janis from Grade Three is the Place for Me is having a 'Newbie Bloggers Blog Hop'. So we joined in on the fun!

Here are a few things about the two of us:
1. We teach in Ohio
2. We both teach 2nd grade
3. This will be Val's 5th year of teaching and my 4th year.
4. Although we have been blog stalking for a while now, we just started blogging ourselves this past June.
5. Don't be affraid to put yourself out there! Leave comments, join linky parties, etc. You never know what fabulous blog you might come across!

Want to join too? Here are 5 things you need to share:
1. What state you are in
2. Your current teaching position
3. Your teaching experience
4. When you started blogging
5. Share a blogging tip/blogging resource.

What a great way to meet some newbie bloggers just like us. Be sure to check out some of the blogs!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Blog Awards

First, we wanted to say thank-you to all of our new followers. We had talked about doing a give-away for reaching 50 followers, but lucky for us, that came faster than we expected! So keep sending fellow bloggers our way, we are working on a give-away for reaching 75!

Second, we are ABSOLUTELY THRILLED that Mrs. Cypher from Sweeties in Second has nominated us for two blog awards! We just joined the blogging world a few weeks ago and although we still have things to learn, we're glad to know some of you don't mind stopping by.

With the Versatile Blogger Award, we need to share 7 facts about ourselves. So here are some random facts about the two of us:

1.   My husband and I are high school sweethearts. We met when we were only 16!! I feel blessed to have met the love of my life when I was so young…we dreamed of the life we are living right now (11 years later). What an amazing fairytale we have to tell our children one day!

2. Cookies are my weakness. I can honestly say I haven’t found a “bad” cookie. I could eat them for breakfast, lunch, and dinner! 

3.   Dancing is a HUGE part of my life. I started taking classes when I was only four. I went on to teach when I was a junior in high school and all through college. When I became a teacher I had to leave teaching dance because it was over an hour drive. I truly miss it but teaching my second grade kiddos everyday makes leaving well worth it!

4. I look forward to spending time with my wonderful family on the weekends. After church my hubby and I usually stop by our parents houses and visit our adorable four-year-old niece and energetic nine-year-old nephew. Just thinking about them makes me smile. =)

1. I love, really love, my birthday. Maybe that's becuase it is on July 4th? My hubby always does his best to make a big deal about it becuase as he says, "You're the only one I know who actually likes their birthday".

2. I competed in gymnastics for 18 years. My parents put me in classes when I was 2 and I couldn't stop. I was even lucky enough to get to compete in college for 2 years before deciding it was time to 'retire'.

3. I have only ever taught second grade. I student taught in second, did a long-tem sub position in second and now this will be my 4th year teaching second. (I LOVE second grade, I had the most fabulous second grade teacher and I always want to teach second just like her!)

4. I can't leave without mentioning family. I have a younger sister and two younger brothers. The hubby and I met almost 8 years ago and just celebrated our 1 year anniversary in June. We have two CrAzY dogs that we love more than anything- well most of the time ;)

Well, enough about us. It's time to pass these awards onto 5 other bloggers. We did our best to send these awards to some newbie blogs, be sure to check them out if you haven't already!

Mrs. Barnes
Meghan from Mrs. Barnes: For the Love of Teaching

Courtney from Classroom Snapshots

Leslie from The Groovy Teacher

Bedford, Love, and Teaching
Vera from Bedford, Love and Teaching

Rikki from The Hive

  Here are the rules for the awards:

Versatile Blogger Award:
1. Thank the blogger who nominated you.
2. Include a link to their site.
3. Include the award image in your post.
4. Give 7 random facts about yourself.
5. Nominate 5 other bloggers, include their link, and let them know.

One Lovely Blog Award:
1. Follow the person who gave you the award
2. Link back to the person who gave you the award.
3. Pass the award onto 5 new bloggers.

Thanks again for checking us out!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Linky Party


As we were blogging today, we came across Linsdey's (The Teacher Wife) linky party. We thought we would link up to share our 5 favorite picture books as well! We did our best to stay away from some of the well-known favorites and decided to share some books that will hopefully be new to you!

1. King Bidgood's in the Bathtub- We use this book as a model story for teaching kids how to write surprise endings. This is a cute story that follows a similar pattern throughout the whole book and the illustrations are amazing. Yet, as we get to the last two pages there is a surprising twist that gets the kiddos laughing every time! (Actually, it is probably the illustration that correlates with the story event, but nonetheless we love reading this to our kids!)


2. 50 Below Zero- The students last year COULD NOT get enough of this book! (Or any Robert Munsch book for that matter). They asked for this to be read over and over. The best part? We found this book as a read-aloud on TumbleBooks. It was great practice for their fluency and just wait for the first time you hear all of your kids making snoring noises or saying "what's that- what's that- what's that-" as fast as they can.

3. T'was the Night Before Thanksgiving- This one is perfect for the day before Thanksgiving break. It  rhymes so you can read it with the sayme rythm that you would read T'was the Night Before Christmas. It provides a good compare/contrast activity between those two books as well.

4. The Spider and the Fly- This is an awesome book to read during the month of October. The pictures in this book have the kiddos mesmerized! We did a lot of character, setting, and plot review with this one. One of our kiddos this year even used it for a book report....they love it!

5. Penelope and the Humongous Burp- What the kiddos don't realize, is that while they are laughing at the mishaps that happen from Penelope's burps, they will learn a thing or two about manners by the end of the story. It is a good book for the beginning of the year when we are stressing the importance of manners in the classroom. This one is also found on TumbleBooks.

You are not going to want to miss this linky party. There are so many good recommendations from fellow bloggers, you will definately need to check them out!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012


We are so excited to see that we have added a few new followers over the past couple of days, thanks for checking us out!

In case you haven't heard the news, Heidi at My (Not So) Elementary Life is having a huge giveaway. She is teaming up with some fellow bloggers to send one lucky winner some fantastic pirate loot!

So head on over to her blog for your chance to win. The giveaway ends THIS Saturday night at midnight.
Good Luck!

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Classroom Themes Continued....

Hi all! It seems like the school year is slowly starting to creep back up on us. I got a new carpet and meeting chair for my classroom this year and I dropped it off at school yesterday becuase I just had to get it out of my car. Then I got thinking...."Am I ready to come in here and start working in just a few short weeks? Where did summer get to?!" Looks like I better get working on all of those 'projects' I wanted to get done before the start of school!

Anyways, we are excited to announce that our 'safari-themed' Back-to-School Pack is up in our TpT Store! Be sure to head on over there and check it out!

We will give a Back-to-School pack away to the first 3 people who leave us a comment. Since we are always on the look-out for cute classroom ideas, leave us a blog or a website that we should check out. Let us know if you want the pirate pack or the safari pack and be sure to leave your e-mail address.
If you didn't get a chance to grab one of the Back-to-School packs for free, here are two freebies for you to use with your kiddos this year.

Heidi, at My (Not So) Elementary Life, has been doing a series of posts on classroom management. We just love heading to her blog for some great ideas. She has some awesome resources and lucky for us....they are pirate-themed! There are so many cute things that we will be picking up in the future. Be sure to check her out if you haven't already!

Val and I have so many ideas running through our head about what we want to make for our classroom this year. So, we are currently have a few units in the process of being made. Be sure to check us out next week for some updates!

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Math Facts

Wow- We are thrilled to have 5 followers! We hope that you have enjoyed what we have shared with you this far and we are excited that we have found more blogs to follow as well.

Each summer we take a look at what we really liked about our classroom structure from the school year and start discussing changes that need to be made for the next school year. After implementing the Daily 5 structure into our reading schedule for the past few years, we felt that this was the year to implement a similar structure into our math block. (Thank you TwoSisters!) Looking back, we really loved how self-sufficient our kiddos were and how we were able to meet with small math groups each day. With that being said, one of the things we found most frustrating at the end of the year was the fact that many of our students still struggled with basic addition and subtraction math facts. While we believe that kids should have a variety of resources to use when solving math equations, we also feel that at the end of second grade they should no longer be using fingers to figure out 3 + 2. This year we are making our math block longer (about 1 hour and 15 mintues) and incoporating an extra round.  This extra round will be devoted strictly to math fact practice. Since we have about 5-7 students in each math group we need various activities so that each student is actively engaged for the duration of the round. There are so many free websites that let kids practice math facts, yet we only have 4 student computers in our classrooms- so we had to get creative. We decided to make a 'Fact Practice' game. This game will be used daily to help our kiddos master those tricky addition and subtraction facts through 20. It can easily be played individually or with a partner. All you will need to provide is a deck of cards (Hello, Dollar Store!) and some game pieces such as colored chips. That's it. The directions are simple and, if they finish a game before the round is over, it can easily be started all over! Since math facts are SO important in EVERY grade level, download it for *FREE* from our TpT Store! If you check it out, please let us know what you think! 

Lastly, we want to thank those of you who checked out our Pirate Themed 'Back-to-School Pack'. We received some wonderful feedback and we hope that you find many uses for it at the beginning of the school year. The pack is no longer listed for free, however you can grab it for only $2.50! Since we are each doing different themes this year, the Safari Themed 'Back-to-School Pack will be available in our TpT Store in just a few short days! It has all of the same components as the Pirate Themed Pack, yet is made to be used in a Safari/Jungle Themed classroom. Don't have a classroom theme? Not to worry, use the one you think your kiddos would like best. Be sure to come back later this week for a giveaway and a freebie!