Monday, July 29, 2013

Monthly Spelling Contracts

Last spring I shared how I organize spelling homework in my fourth grade classroom and was blown by just how much you loved the contracts I shared.  

These spelling contracts are one of the few things that has stuck around since my first year of teaching. Of course, their appearance has changed a lot, but the content has remained the same. 

The thing that my kiddos and their parents love about these contracts is the power of choice involved.  You can read about how I use these contracts in my classroom {here}

 I would give my kiddos a week to earn 15 points off this contract.  Many of my gifted kiddos chose the ten point activities, which take longer, allow a little bit more creativity, and more word application.  While many other students chose to earn their 15 points by completing three 5 point activities, which focus mainly on learning to spell their words in fun and engaging ways.  I would change the activities for both monthly and my students and their families really appreciated having different choices each month, it keeps spelling homework "fresh".

Many of you left comments or sent emails about how you used their for Word Work during your school day whether it be in centers, workstations, etc. and I thought that application was brilliant! Especially as I've been reading up on the Daily Five more and more this summer to prepare for implementing it in my classroom.  

I held myself and laptop hostage the past few days and finally cranked out the year long spelling contract bundle I've been promising you. 

The activities on each contract are different from the month before, and while some activities do repeat, I made sure to really space them out. 

The wonderful thing about these contracts is that they work with any list.  Obviously, I recommend these activities for third and up, but I've left spaces for you to determine how many points for your students to earn and left the phrasing on the contracts generic enough to work with any spelling list. I have also included options for each both that do/do not include Spelling City.  I understand that some of you use it or some of you work with populations of students that do not have internet access at home.  Here's a peak at the non Spelling City contract. 
 I have uploaded this file to my Teachers Pay Teachers store and you can access it via any of the images in this post or by clicking here.  

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Classroom Updates Day One

In my seven years of teaching, I've had four classrooms. Changing classrooms is a lot like buying a house.  For everything you love, there is always something you hate.  

For me, it's my ugly, ugly green chalkboards.  My room has four huge ones.  This week I packed my bags and spent some times tackling and taming my green monsters.

My grade level and I weighed all our options about the green monsters before school ended and decided to go with contact paper. We considered paint, but that's messy and permanent and I'm the world's worst painter. So I purchased two large rolls of black contact paper from Amazon.  I also spotted various colors of contact paper at my local teacher store. 

The whole process took about six hours today.  I say that because you have to peel the packing of the paper in small little pieces and then smooth it out.  It's very tedious work.  I rewarded myself with a nice bacon cheeseburger and fries for lunch.  

Although the process was not what I would call fun or even enjoyable, it was worth it.  Here is my completed back wall. 

 Please don't judge the mess.  I'm being very vulnerable and real by showing you this pictures. ;) This picture right here is real life in my classroom folks.  

Also, I hate my primary book bins BUT they aren't broken and are still doing a fine job.  Would I like new ones? Of course, I would! BUT I'll replace them next summer.  Mine are from Ikea and I love them, I have had them for six years now and they are handling their daily beatings from ten-year-olds well.  I hear them have them in a funky and fun green that would be perfect for my room, but I am choosing to ignore the section they are in at my local Ikea for now.

I also bought a few rolls of dry erase contact paper so I can write down our homework and some of our learning targets.  Mainly these boards are used to display anchor charts and for my focus walls, so I wasn't really worried or bothered by covering them up.

Isn't my chevron border purdy? :) I got mine at Michaels.  Who would have thought, right?  The border is from Trend and you can find it here on their website. 

Other parts of the room are coming along too.  My husband is off for ten days in August and I'd rather be hanging out with him on our staycation than getting my classroom ready.  So I've gone in a bit lately to unpack, cover my bulletin boards, and to tame those green monsters.

This year I covered my bulletin board and my cursive alphabet bulletin board with wrapping paper.  I really loved the grid lines to cut on and since I don't change them out often, I think it will work out nicely.   I was able to get large rolls of black and hot pink wrapping paper at Hobby Lobby.  

I also unpacked and labeled most of my literature circle books. :)  Since our storage is exposed, I need it to be cute and functional. The green, pink, and blue baskets came from Big Lots this summer.

Everything else on the shelf has a home somewhere else.  I don't use these shelves all that often because of how tall they are and because you can see everything.  However, they are good for things like literature circle books that you don't use all year round but still need quick access to when you do need them. 

Overall, I'm about 70% packed and hope to be open house ready next week so I can savor these last few weeks of summer! 

Monday, July 15, 2013

Revised Back to School Products Flash Sale

Hey friends! Just a quick little post before I head in to school to unpack for a little bit.  I moved classrooms, again, this year.  Luckily I'm departmentalized this year, so I only have to unpack half the amount of stuff.  :)

I've been working the past few days on updating some of my favorite back to school products. I wanted to give them a new fresh look before the new year started.   You can check out the original post links to read about how I use these products in my classroom.

Now I am focusing my attention on my spelling contracts through the year file, woohoo I know you've been waiting.  Thanks for your patience! To celebrate, I'm throwing a little flash sale on these products! :) 

If you already own these items, please log into TpT and redownload the changes from your My Purchases tab. :)  Click on each indvidual product's picture to check them on TpT! 

I'll be back tomorrow with updated pictures of my room!


Tuesday, July 9, 2013

The Story of My Name Writing and Craftivity Update

Hey friends! I just gave one of my favorite files, a little update! The content stayed the same, I just freshened up the fonts a bit to make it more visually appealing. :)

This activity is one of my favorite writing assignments to do all year! My students always love interviewing their families about their names and learning the special story their name has.  They always get a kick out of learning how/why they were given their name.  In fact, I get a kick out of it too! I've had students named after actresses, after athletes,  after a family member, and after places.  In fact, I learned that one of my sweeties last year was named after Logan from the Babysitters Club! :) 

While the book Chrysanthemum is great to introduce this project, my favorite book to read is actually When Jo Lewis Won the Title. It's a book that is less popular and therefore my kiddos pay a lot more attention while I read it, plus I use Chrysanthemum in another back to school activity, Cooking Up a Great Year Together. :)
This is one of my all time favorite books.  It's a touching story of how a grandfather tells his granddaughter all about the story of her name.  It's not only a great story of self acceptance, but a beautiful piece of multicultural literature as well.  After reading the book, I have my students complete a homework assignment where they ask their parents some questions about their name.  Then we review the structure of an informational paragraph, and my kiddos write an informational paragraph all about their name.  Once finished, we make mini versions of ourselves and hang our completed writings up outside. It makes an adorable back to school bulletin board! :)  We also share them as a class, and it's a fun community building activity and a great way to teach and model author's chair/writing sharing procedures. 

Here's a little sample picture.  :)  The one on the left is the actual true story of my name. :) The little guy on the right is the story of my dad's name.  My hubs was sleeping at the time that I made my sample. ;)

If you'd like to check out my Story of My Name Writing and Craftivity pack, click on the images above or here to check it out on TpT! :) If you already download this file, you can redownload the new and improved version for free!

What about you, does your name have a special story?

Friday, July 5, 2013

Favorite Pins Friday

Y'all I love Pinterest.  I mean love it. It's become one of my favorite ways of unwinding at the end of the day.  I love cuddling up in bed and pinning away ideas for my classroom, home, funny sayings, and ideas that are just worth saving.  

So to get back in the blogging grove, I'm linking up with sweet Cara for Favorite Pins Friday!

My hubs and I built our first house last summer and we've been trying to make our house our home.  Next up on my big project list is our loft but I've been held getting started because I couldn't figure out a color scheme.  However, I think I've found it! I just love this color combination of gray, aqua, and watermelon.  
watermelon, aqua and grey...really like this color combo 
Source: Juxtapost

Since we live in a new build, we also have new build paint.  Which isn't the best.  It seems like we are always touching up something because of the dogs, natural wear and tear, etc.  We haven't painted with good paint yet because it hasn't been a year yet and the house still has some settling to do.  So of course, I think this idea is from Alternative Gardening is genius! 

Rubbermaid Paint Buddies. Put your left over paint in them and retouch anytime you want. 

Like many of you, my kiddos take RC/AR tests.  Once a quarter we go to our Reading Counts store and cash in our points.  However, I'd like to do something to visual display points in the classroom too.  This idea from Head Over Heels for Teaching seems to be a manageable way for me to do so.  Since I'll have two classes next year, I'm imagining have two displays, each a different color/pattern. 

Idea for AR reading points

My grade level and I are implementing the Daily Five next year, and we've been trying to think of ways to organize our Word Work materials, and I thought this freebie from Sweet Kindergarten would be perfect! I read someone where that Sam's Club has those carts for $24! It's time to take Grandma shopping, as I'm a Costco girl myself.  

Word Work File Drawer Labels {Freebie}
I also love finding fun sayings/pictures on Pinterest too.  I'm a huge fan of Parks and Rec and Ron Swanson. This cracks me up every time I look at it.  The link doesn't work on Pinterest, but go ahead and laugh anyway if you love Ron Swanson as much as I do!

Ron Swanson. 
I also love a good motivation quote and this one from Bloom is perfect! :) 

Pretty much every day.
I love finding a good recipe on Pinterest too! I've read Iowa Girl Eats blog every day it seems for the past three years and I've tried so many of her recipes, especially the ones from her momma's recipe box.  So when she posted her mom's fruit dip recipe, I knew it would perfect for the Thirty One Party I'm hosting later this month!

I'm off to hit publish and hang out with the hubs and my sweet pups! Happy Weekend!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

I'm Back and a Fourth of July Sale

Hello, Sweet Friends! My graduate class wrapped up yesterday and I am so happy to have my summer back. It was my first graduate class in about four years, so I wanted to give myself the gift of time to adjust to being a student again. Plus a semester's worth of work is crammed into four weeks, so things got pretty intense with daily readings and discussion boards and multiple projects. Since I wanted to still enjoy my sweet puppies and husband, I had to turn off my blogger brain for awhile, but I missed it so, so, so much!

I've got some ideas for some new products, freebies, posts, and will be finally wrapping up my spelling contracts bundle for the entire school year. :) To celebrate the Fourth of July and my class being over, I'm having a little sale in my Teachers Pay Teachers store. :)

Special thanks to the sweet Latoya at Flying High into First Grade for the adorable sales graphic!

My store is 20% off starting NOW until the 5th. :) Just click here or on the graphic above to head on over! :) 
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