Sunday, June 30, 2013

Congrats To My Glasses Winners!

Well, we didn't reach 50 entries (which, I'm still quite baffled by...where is everyone out there?!  gone for summer??...), but anyways, there's no reason to be sad, because we still have FIVE winners in my Firmoo Glasses Giveaway!  Each of these lucky ones will be emailed one $20 e-voucher for their choice of any Classic Series frame over at  Woo-hoo!  So, if one of the winners is on the look-out in your inbox! (Oh, and I'd LOVE to see which ones you actually pick, too...maybe even a pic or two when they come in?!)  Everyone enjoy the last bit of your weekend!  :)

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Saturday, June 29, 2013

Tips 6-10 To Help You & Your Students With Dyslexia

Today I'll be sharing 5 more "tips" to help you and your kiddos with dyslexia out.  In fact, as I've mentioned in the past, many (if not all!) of these little hints can apply to ALL of your students, not just ones with dyslexia.  In case you want to brush up on some "back story" and read my two previous posts, you can click on over to my first recent entry: What's It Like Being Dyslexic to watch 2 videos and read some pointers, and then hop on over to Tips 1-5 To Help You & Your Students With Dyslexia

If you're all caught up and ready to roll with tips 6-10, here we go!  (And, just like before, some of these tips and hints are pretty common sense and cut and dry.  Also, if you have anything to add or any ways to expand on these, please do share with myself and other readers through the "comments" section at the bottom!)  Now, let's begin:

Number Six: Re-establish Self Confidence.
Okay, here's the deal with number six.  I truly believe there is a fine line between authentic, genuine praise and "fake teacher praise".  AND, on top of that (yes, I do know it's not grammatically correct to start a sentence with "and", but I was going for the rambly, "on a mission", mean it, sentence starter there...) I truly believe students can tell the difference!  So, instead of simply dishing out the "fake teacher praise", provide your students with the opportunities to succeed.  Believe it or not, you spend more time with your students than even their parents do; therefore, you should know them well!  Figure out what they're good at, how they can successfully complete tasks, etc. etc., and use that information to allow them to succeed and feel good about it!

Don't forget, though, to also give praise for small achievements, too.  Just make sure it's genuine! :)  I love to write my kiddos small notes on their desks or whisper in their ears-- that way the praise is personal and simply between the student and myself...not the whole class (because I will tell  you, too, that many of my dyslexic students have been a tad shy and sometimes even embarrassed at being called out in class, even if it was for a compliment!). 

Number Seven:  Do not expect a dyslexic student to copy from a board or book.  Give a printout.
This one kind of reminds me of tip number one-- not asking students with dyslexia to read out loud.  Let's face it...we can't ALWAYS have printouts ready.  There are SO many times my class writes little notes or facts in our journals "on the fly".  So, instead of never asking students with dyslexia to copy from the board, simply limit it when you can, and when you can't, well then help them learn how to SUCCESSFULLY copy from the board or document camera! 

What does that entail, you ask?  Well, I can't seem to find where I once read this, but color coding notes really helps.  Most (if not all) of your dyslexic students are going to be visual learners, so use that to your advantage!

Write every other line of your notes on the board
in a different color dry erase marker. 
Be sure to change lines at the end of sentences, too.
This not only helps students visually discriminate
where they are and what they need to write, but
it can help with their processing, too!
Neat and easy!

Also, don't forget what I mentioned in tip number 4-- even if you're not the most artistic teacher in the world, little visual doodles and pictures REALLY help!  You draw them next to your notes, and the class can draw them next to theirs.  By the middle of the year, your students will be coming up with their OWN "doodles" to represent each fact or piece of curriculum, which is AMAZING, because now they're not only copying information, they're making connections which will help them retain the information. (Hello, Bloom's!)

Number Eight:  Accept homework or written assignments created on a computer or word processor.
In 2nd grade, we really don't have any written homework, nor do we have any long, hand-written class assignments.  So, I can't really tell you much about this one, however, it does seem pretty straight forward!  :)

Number Nine:  Dyslexics have weak auditory memories.
Do not expect anything you say to be remembered.  Don't let this hurt your feelings or lead you to believe that you're not a good teacher.  It's simply that students with
dyslexia lack a little bit when it comes to listening, most likely because of their STRONG visual skills (as I mentioned before).  Refer back to tip number seven, above, for facts, info, and tricks about writing and drawing to help your dyslexic kiddos!

Number Ten:  Give the opportunity to answer questions orally, rather than in writing, to demonstrate understanding and ideas.
This one is pretty self-explanatory.  Many dyslexic students are EXTREMELY bright, they simply struggle getting their ideas out.  Don't make it harder by requiring pencil and paper.  Help your students by allowing other forms of answering assignments.  For more ideas, see tip number four from my previous post!

Whew!  Ten "tips" down, and ten to go.  Sorry for the lame-o Microsoft Word visuals today.  I know they're not nearly as neat or "pin"able as the graphics from my Tips 1-5...but I was just a little tired today...

I'll be back soon with more posts.  In the meantime, I'd love to know what YOU know!  Leave me a comment, if you'd like, with any other new tip or trick you use in your classroom!  Ta-Ta for now.  Hope you enjoy the rest of your weekend.

Oh, and don't forget to enter in my Free Glasses Giveaway!  It's ending TOMORROW!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Giveaway Reminder (Ends Soon!!!)

Have you entered for your brand new pair of eyeglasses or sunglasses yet?! 

Based on the poor, pathetic number of entries into my Firmoo Glasses Giveaway, I'm thinking probably not...  So what's taking you so long?!?  All you have to do is leave one measly blog comment...that's it!  :)

So, take this as a "formal" reminder (haha!) that my Firmoo Glasses Giveaway ends in less than a week.  Click on over today to check it out!!!  (Since there are so few entries, I'd say your odds of winning are preeeettty good.)

Happy "Hump Day"!

Monday, June 24, 2013

Tips 1-5 To Help You & Your Students With Dyslexia

This past Friday, I posted about “What's It Like Being Dyslexic”.  If you missed it, I'd love for you to click on over to watch both videos and read the tips!

Today, I’m going to go through tips #1-5, to more deeply explain how I use these “rules” in my classroom.  While some may seem simple, I’ll simply explain how they help and/or work in my room, and by any means, if you have any thoughts or ways to improve, please do tell!  J

Number One: Do not ask on a dyslexic student to read aloud. 
Yes, I completely agree—under NO circumstances should a student with dyslexia be “surprised” with you calling on them to read.  Let’s be honest…I’m not really a huge fan of “popcorn reading” in the classroom anyways.  Research has shown there are various other ways more effective to teach; but let’s face it, there are just SOMEtimes that we, as teachers, need to do this.  I begin the year not calling on any of my students with dyslexia, in fact, I only call on students who are sure of themselves to read.  Over the first few months, I make sure to have the conversation (one-on-one, in private) with each student about their thoughts and feelings of reading aloud.  It’s actually pretty interesting to get their take on it!  After a few months, here’s how I work it, if I HAVE to have a “popcorn reading” in my class—I either A) let my students raise their hands to volunteer when/if they feel comfortable OR B) I “assign” the very first paragraph or sentence or chunk to one of my students with dyslexia.  I tell them AHEAD of time (like 5 minutes or so) that this is what I’d like them to read aloud, then they can practice independently and make sure they’re comfortable with the part.  This way, they’re not stressed during the reading, wondering whether or not I’ll call on them, or practicing their part to come, thus NOT paying attention to what everyone else is reading! 

Number Two:  Don’t punish students with dyslexia for forgetting books and/or supplies.
It happens.  Let’s face it, even as adults, we forget things all the time.  For a child, it’s easy to “just forget” something.  Students with dyslexia are more prone to being disorganized (and even have a higher percentage of ADHD diagnosis), therefore they are going to be your ones to forget things more often.  In my class, it is really no big deal.  Personally, there are so many other things to stress about with you students.  If they start forgetting something regularly, then I work together WITH the student to come up with a system to help.  For example, this past year, I had a student with dyslexia who constantly would forget to bring his yellow “homework folder” or write down his reading in this folder each night.  I knew he was doing it, therefore punishment would do no good.  Instead, we came up with the idea of a reminder bracelet.  Each afternoon, he would cut a piece of yarn and bring it to me.  We would tie it around his wrist (very loosely, of course), with a small “tag” reading “homework” on it, as a reminder for him to record his homework and bring his yellow folder to school the next day.  After her wrote it down and placed his folder BACK in his bag each evening, he would cut it off.  As the year progressed, we didn’t need the tag on the bracelet, and later on, we barely ever needed the bracelet at all!

Number Three: Don’t call dyslexics lazy.
MY PET PEEVE!  Students with dyslexia work 184058104875 times harder than your “average” student.  Think about what all their brains have to go through to end up at the same place as their classmates.  Just remember—they’re trying…they’re trying HARD.  If you feel yourself getting frustrated (which I will admit, WILL happen), take a breath, and instead, give praise and ask how you can help that student.  Chances are, if you’re frustrated, so are they.  So remind yourself of that!  (This one took a lot of effort for me at the beginning of the year, but once you start “training your brain”, it almost becomes an automatic response!

Number Four: Expect less written work.
Now I know as students progress through school, there is simply more and more written work required.  It’s just the “facts” of life.  This rule doesn’t mean make things easier for your dyslexic students—simply “tweak” assignments!  Instead of 10 sentences, have them write 3-5 WELL developed ones.  This takes some communication and modeling, but in time I promise it works.  Also, think of how else a student with dyslexia could complete the assignment?  Could they use a computer?  Could they use an app such as “Educreation” to create a visual tutorial where they verbally explain what originally would be written? (My kiddos LOVE working with Educreation!)  There are many, many ways out there to hold your dyslexic students to the same standards and accountability, just with various methods-- and remember, just because you're expecting less writing does NOT mean you're expecting less!

Number Five: Prepare a printout of homework with step by step directions and stick it in their book.
In 2nd grade, our homework is very student driven—20 minutes a night of reading their book of choice and 10 minutes a night of math fact practice, in their “method” of choice.  So this “rule” doesn’t fit completely.  I do use the step by step direction part, though, on a regular basis!  It not only helps students with dyslexia, but ALL students.  Have a math page with multi-step directions?  Of course you’re going to explain them and go over them verbally, but now, as you go over them, LABEL each one!  BOTH you and the students can write a “1” next to the first part and even draw a mini picture!  Then, a “2” by the second step, and so on.  Remember, students with dyslexia need visuals…visuals that work well with ALL students (and adults!).  I’ll have to admit, since beginning to write out/draw/label step by step directions, my WHOLE class performs better on assignments, and rarely forgets any steps!

So, here's a quick pic of all the "rules" combined (because let's face it, plenty of us love visuals, too!).  Feel free to share it, Pin it, use it, love it, etc. etc., AND be sure to come back by soon for tips 6-10, 11-15, and 16-20. 

Saturday, June 22, 2013

A Freebie and Giveaway Reminder!

Happy Saturday!  It's going to be a bit happier in just a few seconds when I tell you about Janaye's Sweet and Simple Saturday Freebie!  Starting this Saturday (TODAY), she is going to share a sweet, simple freebie with you.   "It could be an activity page, game, graphic organizer, foldable, or craftivity. And the best part is the freebies will be for multiple grade levels and subjects! And the even BESTER (coined term) part is that they will all be FREEEE!"

So click on over to her Tales of Frogs and Cupcakes to cash in on her Sweet and Simple Saturday Freebie!

Also, don't forget to enter my FREE Firmoo Glasses Giveaway!  It ends in week, and I don't know where everyone is out there...but as of now, the pickin's are slim...meaning YOUR chance of winning is even better!!!  Click on over NOW!  :)

Happy Saturday Everyone!!!

Friday, June 21, 2013

What's It Like Being Dyslexic?

Back at the beginning of this past school year, I mentioned in my post about Dyslexia in the Classroom that I'd be sharing with you tips, tricks, and teaching methods that I learned throughout the year that seem to help with my kiddos with dyslexia.  Aaaaand, I failed.  It's funny, how even back in September, I could see how busy and crazy this school year was going to be, when I wrote: "No promises though-- I don't know what it is, but I just can't seem to juggle this year like I could last!"

Now, though, that school is out, and I have a few more minutes of free time, I really am going to try my "darndest" ;) to share with you a few nibblets of knowledge that I've picked up over the year...starting with "What's it like being dyslexic?"

For most of us, that's a question that's truly hard to wrap our brains around.  I mean, I had SO much interaction with so many students with dyslexia this year, and I still can't even come close to relating to what it must be like to have dyslexia. 

You may remember this video that I shared back in September on my original "Dyslexia in the Classroom" post:

Now, in addition to that, I have a new, animated video to share today. 

This video was actually part of an app that I downloaded this year, simply called "Dyslexia".  This app has 4 parts-- "What's it like being Dyslexic?", "Tips for Parents", "Tips for Schools", and finally "Take the Dyslexic Quiz". 
In addition to sharing the video with you today, I also want to share the "Tips for Schools" portion...because it truly has some great advice.  Although some of the tips are "no brainers", it is great to be reminded of these things every so often (because actually, many of these tips can be used for ALL students!)
#1 Don't ask a dyslexic to read aloud.  Words are likely to be misread or skipped, causing embarrassment.

#2 Don't punish a dyslexic for forgetting things like books or sports kits.
Offer positive strategies such as having one place to put things away.

#3 Don't call a dyslexic lazy.
Dyslexics have to work harder to produce a smaller amount. Dyslexics have difficulty staying focused when reading, writing or listening.

#4 Expect less written work.
A dyslexic may be verbally bright but struggle to put ideas into writing.

#5 Prepare a printout of homework and stick it in their book.
Provide numbered steps, e.g. 1. Do this, 2. Do that, etc.

#6 Re-establish self-confidence.
Provide the opportunity to succeed. Give praise for small achievements.

#7 Do not expect a dyslexic to copy from a board or book. Give a printout.
They can highlight key areas and draw thumbnail pictures in the margin to represent the most important points.

#8 Accept homework or written assignments created on a computer word processor.

#9 Dyslexics have weak auditory (listening) memories.
Do not expect spoken information to be remembered. Adding funny stories and pictures will make it memorable.

#10 Give the opportunity to answer questions orally rather than in writing, to demonstrate understanding and ideas.

#11 Background noise or activity will cause distraction and prevent concentration.
Dyslexics need a quiet, structured environment.

#12 'Look-Cover-Write-Check' as a way to learn spellings does not usually work for dyslexics.
Draw or visualise a funny picture linked to the word and say aloud each letter as it is written.

#13 Encourage key word bullet point planning of ideas before writing.

#14 Dyslexics have poor sequencing ability, making it very difficult to learn times table multiplication facts.
Use a table square or a calculator.

#15 Look out for signs of stress.
Consequences of dyslexia are frustration, anger, low self-esteem or becoming withdrawn.

#16 Provide worksheets, notes and screens with a coloured background.
Dyslexics often find that black text on white creates page glare making reading tiring.

#17 Allow a dyslexic more time for reading, listening and understanding.

#18 Dyslexics respond well to a multisensory, phonic approach.
Advance in small steps and revise frequently.

#19 Encourage a dyslexic to use their finger to reveal a word in chunks.
Build up the word by syllable and learn to recognise prefixes and suffixes.

#20 Discuss an activity to make sure it is understood.
Visualising the activity or linking it to a funny action may help dyslexics remember.
The above tips were taken from the Dyslexia app.  (Keep in mind that they are a British company, so many of the words are spelled just a teensie bit differently, such as "recognise"!)  :) 
So, what do you think?  What will you use?  What do you already do?  I'd love to hear your thoughts and see if you have any other "tips" to share!
My next post will be about these tips and how I specifically used them.  Later on next week, I'll chat about movement and dyslexia.  Be sure to click on over!  :)

Thursday, June 20, 2013

My Most Recent Thoughts on Technology... (and a giveaway reminder!)

This coming school year, our campus is adding 3 new iPad mini carts to our inventory.  90 new tiny digital tablets with which to use in a meaningful way…when you think about it, it’s kind of mind boggling.  The role of technology has changed so dramatically recently (yes, I know, DUH…we all know that!).  Now, instead of merely one teacher computer and a few student desktops, many teachers have the opportunities, like mine, to put technology in the hands of all their students. 
How we use it, though, for benefit of our students, or just for our own ease, is up to us.  By having these new iPad minis, is learning going to get pushed farther or just simply a digital “center” to keep students static but happy? 

The question, I think, is: What do we really want students to accomplish with technology? 

I’ll admit…it’s a big, loaded question with no one correct answer.  That’s why I thought I’d throw it out there and see what you all think.  Here are our state standards, by the end of 2nd grade:

-Basic Operations—open, save, save as, print, audio, video, close

-Participation in virtual field trips, etc., Skype, Lync, blog

-Use a processfor creative thinking and problem solving

-Use fonts, font size/color, spacing, graphics, copy, paste, cursor, presentation tools, and drawing/painting tools in a simple document

-Describe the difference between search engine and browser

-Use internet 1-2 keyword searches and navigate

-Follow copyright and cite work

-Internet permission, who owns the work

-Know vocab—CPU, document camera, SmartBoard, tablet, printer, mouse, keyboard, storage devices, drives

-Keyboard home row, letters, numbers, shift, spacebar, enter, ctrl, alt, delete, backspace, ESC, capslock


That’s a pretty long and in depth list for 7 and 8 year olds, I must admit.  But just because it’s long, doesn’t mean it’s out of reach.  So what do you think?  Could your kiddos do these things?  I’ll admit, thinking back on my students this previous year, I did not do my very best to make sure they were all 100% successful at these technology standards.  Which is where my goal comes in—next year I need to be sure to make my technology use meaningful and purposeful to help my students become prepared for today’s “connected” world!


PS—Don’t forget about my Firmoo FREEGLASSES Giveaway!  It’s an easy entry (just a blog comment), and I’d love for you to win!  J  Click on over today.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013


Okay, I hope my all caps title grabbed your attention!  :)  What can I say-- I was looking for something catchy, so you could learn more about....

Now that you're here, let me tell you about this great little GIVEAWAY I'll be hosting over the next 10 days!  I'm pairing up with Firmoo, a global, online, optical store, and at the moment, the world's most popular online eyeglass store! 

For this pair and share (of sorts!), Firmoo will be giving my lucky readers a chance to win one of FIVE (5) $20 e-vouchers to use towards a pair of their Classic Series Frames.  And GUESS WHAT?!?  Many of the frames in that line are under $20 (or pretty dang close), so you know what that means?!?  You have the chance to make your winnings next to nothing!!!  :)

This little pair is only $16!  (And would probably be the ones I'd pick...let's face it, I'm ready to dive head first into this whole "nerdy glasses" trend!!!)

Or maybe I'd pick these...hmm...the options are limitless!

Not digging the nerdy theme?  That's okay, because there are PLENTY to choose from...69 pairs to be exact!

The best part of this Firmoo promotion, you ask?!  Well, it HAS to be that if we gather up to (or over!) 50 valid entries, one grand prize winner will receive a TOTALLY FREE PAIR of classic series frames of their choice, including shipping!  Woo-Hoo!!! 

So, now you have all the facts, use the Rafflecopter box below to enter. 
***Important UPDATE:  You MUST visit and comment with your favorite pair to be qualified for the giveaway!  Don't forget that very important part!  :)  Good Luck!!!

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Winners will be notified Monday, July 1, so keep an eye on your inbox!

Worried about not winning?  Don't be!  You can still score a free pair from Firmoo with their First Pair Free promotion.  All you pay is shipping!  Check it out here.

Good luck to all!  Can't wait to here from you and see your favorite frames!  :)

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Donor's Choose Projects of 2013

I love Donor's Choose.  I know many of us use the site to help provide our classrooms with materials and activities we otherwise could not afford (or should not have to pay out of our own pockets).  Of course I love the site for myself, but I also love to go on and browse other teachers' pages.  Honestly, it really helps ME put things in perspective.  After all, I AM pretty lucky to work in a school with mid to high SES.  And sometimes, many times actually, it's nice to be reminded...because I'll be honest, it is quite easy to forget.

So, although I do work in a school with a higher socioeconomic status population, there are still items out there that I wish to have in my room to help my students succeed.  And for that, I'm thankful for Donor's Choose!  I have submitted a total of 3 projects, 2 of which have been filled.  (The one that didn't was actually my first project, which I submitted in late April, early May, not even realizing how that would impact the project getting funded or not.  Now, I know better to "plan" my projects and their timing!)

The latest project I had funded this year was "Fabulously Focal Math Fluency: Building Our Speed In Grade 2".  It centered around math fluency supplies to help my students build their foundational skills in other ways than just file folder games.  Don't get me wrong-- I'm SO not hating on file folder me, I have PLENTY, and my students use them daily.  It was nice, though, to have new, fun, and different centers for the students to use for math facts, because let's face it, they are SO important.  I think my favorite part of my submission hits home on this point:

"Grover Whitehurst, the Director of the Institute for Educational Sciences (IES), noted this research during the launch of the federal Math Summit in 2003: "Cognitive psychologists have discovered that humans have fixed limits on the attention and memory that can be used to solve problems. One way around these limits is to have certain components of a task become so routine and over-learned that they become automatic." These new math items will help all learners with this fluent retrieval!"

ANYWAYS...enough with the it's time to share what all came with my funded project:

~Math Dash: A fun way to practice math facts, instead of simple flash cards.  Students pick a color, draw a "fact", and if correct, get to place their "fact" tile down on the sum or difference.  First color to get 4 numbers in a row on the board wins.  You can read the actual rules/directions here.  Review?  My class LOVED it!  And all it was was simple addition and subtraction problems...but having them in this new format was great! 

~Math Mat: A plastic, battery powered "mat" that spouts out questions about numbers, counting, addition, subtraction, and even missing addend.  Players listen to question, then press correct answer.  Features 3 games with 2 skill levels each, although we stayed pretty much on level 2.  The level 1 questions were a tad too easy for end of the year in 2nd grade.  Review?  Another GREAT tool my kiddos loved!  It was fun, colorful, talked, and they got to move.  I loved it because they had to listen to the question before answering, so it also taught them that even though it was fun, they couldn't be CRAZY or loud, because they would miss their question!

~Math Diction: A "Pictionary" type game, where students would draw a math vocabulary word or phrase.  Then, they would spin to see if they had to act it out, draw it out, give a hint, or read the definition for their partner to guess.  Review: Although the cards were separated into Grade 2, 3, and 4, some of the 2nd grade cards were not content we learned, and some of the 3 and 4 cards were!  Nevertheless, it was a good little review game where my students got to think about important vocab from throughout the year (that otherwise, we may not have had time to review!).

Thinking and drawing a math word/phrase during Math Diction!

Acting out a math vocab word/phrase during Math Diction!

Three other parts of our project not photographed were Mathological Liar, Block Building, and Place Value/Ordering/Missing Number cards. 

Matological Liar is an interesting little game that we played as a whole class.  It is a "card game" based on sets of math mysteries. Each round is a new "case".  Each "case" presents a setting and a problem.  There are 4 suspects per case, one or more who may be guilty. Out loud, I would read the "case", and then read each of the 4 cards containing each suspect's alibi.   If the math in a suspect's alibi is correct, then he is innocent.   Incorrect math indicates guilt.  Players decide if their suspect is innocent or guilty as a table!  (These are not the "exact" directions, because it is meant to be a small group game, but I loved doing it as a whole class!)  Then, on white boards, tables would tell me who the guilty person/people are and WHY.  This made them think about their math reasoning and work together.  There are over 50 "cases", and needless to say, we did NOT get to them all!  Review:  SO very awesome, and I'm so glad to have this fun game for future use. 

The Block Building and Place Value/Ordering/Missing Number cards were more individual activities, but our class loved them both, too. 

So, enough about me.  Tell me about you!  What all have you submitted in the past?   What all have you had funded?  (My first project was for a NOOK Tablet that my children loved to use and abuse...)

I'd love to hear about your experiences (and maybe even get some ideas...), so feel free to leave me a comment below!  :)

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Part 2 (and a FREEBIE) of My Summer Gift For Students!

For those of you who read my previous post, I explained the first part of my summertime "gift" for my students.  Along with the beach ball and activity booklet, I add a few other goodies to their paper grocery bags.  What are they, you ask?

Well, the first is the part that actually contains the rest of the adorable cardstock box.  My students were absolutely OBSESSED with my Silhouette this year, and every time I brought it in to use, they always loved to watch it, ask questions, see how it worked, and of course, got little cut-outs of their own.  So, what better than to make them their own little "secret box" to keep for ever and always?!  :)

Inside the box were 3 more small gifts...

1. A black & white picture with me-- Of course I LOVE to take pictures (not normally of myself, though!), and my students know it.  All year long I'm snapping pictures, so what a better way to end the year than with a picture of each student and myself?!  The reason I did black and white this year, you ask?  Partially because of my OCD, and partially because it fit my "theme" of the boxes, where everything was black/white and one color...
2. A "hippo forever" award-- Our school has a HUGE award assembly the last week of school, where students are recognized for "legit" awards, such as "AB Honor Roll All Year", "Perfect Attendance All Year", etc. etc.  What a more fun way to celebrate the end of the year than with a mini award reminding the students that even though they're leaving my class, they'll still always have a place in my heart (and theirs) as a hippo forever (our class "mascot", if you're confused!).  :)
3. A small, top open card, containing an end of year letter for my parents--
I know it's small and blurry, but you can
see it all by downloading the freebie file!
To coincide with reminding my students that they'll be hippos forever, I also place this extremely loving letter in each end of year gift for the parents of my students.  WARNING: It always makes me cry the first time I reread it each year.  I did not come up with the wording, but it's something I've used since my very first year teaching, and I believe it truly expresses the heartfelt feelings of a caring teacher at the end of each school year.

You can have a free, generic version of this letter as a PDF file by clicking here.  There are 2 pages-- one blue for boys (with the wording containing "he", "him", etc.) and one red for girls (with the wording contain "she", "her", etc.). 

I always "address" each of mine with the parents' names up top and sign my name and the year at the bottom, but you can choose to do it how you'd like!  :)

So, that's it!  There's the last of my "End Of Year" gifts for each of my students.  Like it?  Hate it?  Have something better?  I'd love to hear what you guys do for your own students at the end of each year!  Leave me a comment...I'll be waiting to read 'em!  :) 

Hope You Have a "BALL" Summer Gift For Students (& a GIVEAWAY)!

The end of the school year is hard.  I mean, on top of all the teacher stuff, like paperwork, folders, files, documentation, grades, and so on and so forth, you have the class stuff, too!  And, I'll be honest, most years it's kind of sad.  Even those tough years can get me a little blue in the end, too.  We spend 9 months in a room with 20+ kiddos, each and every day, and then, all of a sudden, they're not going to be ours anymore.  It's certainly a weird feeling that I do believe no other profession experiences. 

So, end of year activities are always fun.  We always complete a "Memory Book", do other fun Summer activities, travel to other 2nd grade rooms to sign yearbooks, and much more.  But, for the past two years, I've also been partaking in a few, special "End of Year" gifts which are both meaningful to me (and the kiddos, too!) and fun!

You can find this fun activity with more info on
what's included here on TpT!
The first fun "gift" is one the students get to participate in.  It is a neat beach ball "scoot" that ties in with my "Hope You Have a "BALL" Student Summer Gift".  Since I knew I'd be giving this little booklet out at the end of the year, what better way than to incorporate the students into it, and make/keep some memories in the process?!  Basically, each student gets one plastic, UNinflated beach ball.  I generally buy cheap ones, no more than $1.  (Last year, I got mine in the dollar section at Target, and this year, I got mine at the Dollar General-- both were $1 a piece.)

We unwrap our beach balls, and I give the students about 5-10 minutes and ONE section (generally the white one) to write the name LARGELY and doodle with sharpies.  I try to spread out the colors of sharpies, and they share at their tables.

After the students have had ample time to "doodle", we all choose one color sharpie, then play "scoot" with our signatures!  For those of you who are unfamiliar, basically we start out at our desks, then SCOOT to the next "stop" (desk), where we will sign out names, put our sharpies up in the air to signal we're ready to move, then SCOOT again!  This continues until we're all done signing and return back at our own desk.

After we finish signing, the balls get returned to me, I put them in a large paper bag (paper grocery bag is a great size), and store them away until I can add the rest of the "gift".  What's the rest, you ask?  Well, of course, it's the little booklet that you can find on TpT to accompany the beach ball, BUT, there's also a 2nd part to my gift each year...
**Want to win a free copy of my "Hope You Have a "BALL" Summer Gift"?  See if you can GUESS what else goes into the paper bags for my end of year gifts.  I'll give you a clue...there are 3 other parts!  The first 3 people to correctly guess one part (that hasn't already been guessed!) will WIN a FREE copy of my TpT file!!!  Woo-Hoo!  So, whatcha waiting for?  Start guessing!!! :)  I'll be back soon to post "part 2" of what goes in the bag!

Friday, June 14, 2013

Eric Wight Author Visit!

Last year, our elementary school paired with a few other schools around town to bring Kevin O'Malley to our campus to chat, perform, inspire, and just be a little silly with our students!  :)  THIS year, we were blessed to have another author visit from the chapter book author and illustrator, Eric Wight.  For those of you unfamiliar, he is the creator of the "Frankie Pickle" series. 

School Library Journal describes his first book: "Franklin Lorenzo Piccolini is a fourth grader with a big imagination and an alter ego named Frankie Pickle, an amalgam of pop-culture icons from Indiana Jones to Batman. His messy room spawns an adventure that ends when the filth is too much even for him. Wight matches a silly story to black-and-white cartoon graphics in a chapter-book format. Readers who have graduated from Dav Pilkey's Captain Underpants and Ricky Ricotta series (both Scholastic) will be charmed by this longer story." –Lisa Egly Lehmuller, St. Patrick's Catholic School, Charlotte, NC

Well, not only does the main character in Eric Wight's chapter book series have a huge imagination filled with creativity, but the author himself most certainly does, too!  In our hour long, grade level presentation, Mr. Wight not only told the students about himself and his life, but he also truly inspired the students to write themselves by sharing his experiences and his writing styles and techniques!  He made it seem SO very fun and effortless, that we all left with a new story frame/outline to help us create our own, new story, but also with a new outlook on writing for most of my kiddos! 

The new story idea, you ask?  Well, it's none other than "Frankie the Hilarious Hippo"! 

Just like Kevin O'Malley, Eric Wight used the students' ideas to come up with this new, outrageous story line/knock-off of Frankie.  Our class was so proud to help focus the new character around none other than a hippo (our class "mascot")!  Who knows, after all his fun and kooky stories, maybe Frankie as a hippo could be next?!  I mean, it's not too far off from some of his other tales...

Anyways, of course, after hour of fun inspiration, we just HAD to pose with our newest favorite author!

So, 2 visits in 2 years...LOVE it!  How about you?  Do you have author visits?  If so, who have you seen in person?  I'd love to hear about it!  :)