Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Multicultural Thanksgiving Books

Does the school year seem to be flying by for anyone else? I can't believe it's already November! Teachers are busy prepping the cutest lessons and crafts filled with turkeys and Pilgrim hats. In just over three weeks time, families across America will come together to celebrate Thanksgiving.
I recently overhead a conversation about traditional Thanksgiving foods that struck a chord with me. The people involved in the conversation seemed appalled that anyone could celebrate Thanksgiving differently from them.When it comes to holiday celebrations, are we using rich and relevant resources for our students? Do we consider to include the diverse backgrounds of our students? Don't get me wrong, I think a paper plate turkey craft is fine as long as it's not the only way we expose our students to Thanksgiving.
Here's a summary of four picture books to include more diversity in your Thanksgiving activities and lesson plans this year. Click on the Amazon affiliate links to learn more.

Miguel is a Puerto Rican boy living in New York City with his family. He is given a turkey to "fatten up" before Thanksgiving dinner. Gracias the turkey is eventually blessed and pardoned by a priest. Spanish vocabulary is woven through out the story. This book beautifully combines community and family.

The Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade is a tradition for many families in America. This book is inspired by the true story of the first parade. The main character Milly, lives with her Polish family in New York City. She convinces the store owner Mr. Macy to combine old and new to create a new American tradition.

The main character Rivka wants to celebrate Thanksgiving with her Jewish family after learning about it in school. She must convince her family to celebrate Thanksgiving. Rivka convinces her Rabbi the holiday can be celebrated by all cultures and religions.

Tuyet's Vietnamese family is having duck for Thanksgiving dinner. Tuyet worries what her friends and teacher will think about this non traditional Thanksgiving food. She soon learns her classmates eat non traditional Thanksgiving foods as well. I love this book because multiple students in my class are able to make a personal connection to Tuyet every year.
What are you favorite ways to include different cultures in your Thanksgiving lessons?

Monday, October 24, 2016

TpT Anniversary!

Happy Monday all! I know this week is going to be awesome, because I'm celebrating my second Teachers Pay Teachers Anniversary! Teachers Pay Teachers has had such an amazing impact on me both in and outside of the classroom.
I'm excited to be teaming up with some wonderful teacher authors for a huge giveaway!!! One well deserving teacher is going to walk away with two gift cards, and free TpT products.
I'm beginning the week by throwing a 20% off sale in my store to kick off the celebration. I recently posted a new math product I can't wait to use during November math stations.

The answer on each task card is provided, but students must provide the answer. Can you believe November is already here? I may or may not have already started browsing for Black Friday ads... #womenbyshoppin
Enter the Rafflecopter below for you chance to win some wonderful teacher swag! Best of luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Counting Coins

Happy Fall all! I don't know about you, but this is one of my favorite times of year. Students start to settle into class routines and the weather cools off. It's also time for one of my favorite units in math, teaching money!
Are you looking for some new resources to add to your teacher toolbox for money? Here are some amazing activities that are guaranteed to keep your kids engaged while learning about money. Lots of pictures and links are coming your way!
You can easily integrate some ELA with counting coins with picture books. One of my favorites is The Coin Counting Book. This picture book uses pictures instead of illustrations and easy rhymes to help students count the value of coins.
Click on the book cover or here to get your own copy. 
Another great picture book to use is A Dollar, a Penny, How Much and How Many? 
This book teaches readers how to count combinations of coins and bills. My students love the illustrations and silly rhymes! Click the book cover or here to buy your own copy. 
When I first introduce coins, I like to use an anchor chart with an easy to remember poem. 
I used large cut outs to show what the front and back of each coin looks like. Notice the curlicues on top of each coin? My team uses "hairy coins" to teach students how to count coin values. Each curlicue or "hair" stands for five. The kids always giggle when they discover the penny is bald because it's only worth one cent. 
I have a FREE set of posters including this poem in my TpT store
If you can't find a set of coin cut outs at your local teacher store, you can pick some up on Amazon.
While teaching students how to count money, I think it's important for us teachers to show them a variety of ways money can be seen and read. Students don't need to know just the value of coins, they need to be able to compare them as well as practice with them in word problem settings. During math stations this week we began using my Coins Task Cards.
I break up the three sets of task cards based on the ability and needs of my students. One group works with me in small group to continue mastery of basic coin counting.
Another group works on comparing the value of sets of coins.
A third group of students works on coin word problems. 
You can take a closer look at this resource in my TpT store.
Looking to integrate technology for your money unit? Counting Money is a free iPad app my kids can't get enough of! 
You set the app to practice or quiz mode and select the level of difficulty. 

This app is perfect for practice of coin combinations to equal the same value. 
Another great free app is Count Money!
This app is similar with the added feature to let students check their answer. 
For students who need more hands on practice, I use Counting Coins Two Ways. 
Do you students love challenges? Mine do, especially when I show my excitement about them. 
 QR Code Coin Challenge combines brain power and technology! 

To complete the challenges, students can only use a certain number of coins to show amount of money. 

Students can use manipulatives or draw on the cards to show their work. Students get instant feedback by scanning the QR code. 
What are some of your favorite resources for teaching money? Leave a comment below! 

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

3 Free Apps to Use Now

Are you looking for some easy to use free apps to add to your tech toolbox? Here's a quick rundown of 3 apps you can begin using right away in your classroom!
Class Monster Lite uses an adorable monster to help your classroom monitor their own noise level. Simply set your noise sensitivity preferences and let the app do the rest.
A low noise level results in a happy monster.

As noise levels increase, the monster becomes upset.

Too much noise makes the monster cry. 
There is a pro version with extra features, but I find the lite version to work fine in my classroom.

One of my favorite apps of all time is so simple yet effective. Tap Roulette will instantly settle any disagreement! Have students place one finger on the iPad screen and watch the magic happen. When you press pick finger the screen will light up before randomly picking someone. The lucky winner will have a red circle appear where their finger is.

Shake 'Em Dice is a new to me app a friend told me about this summer. The basic red dice are free. Other dice pairs are $0.99 each. 

You can add as many or as few dice pairs that you need. This app might also work well as a cool down activity for students. 
Do you have any favorite apps that are easy to use? Share them in the comments below!

Monday, September 5, 2016

Parent-Teacher Communication

Happy Labor Day friends! I hope you're enjoying at least a few hours of rest today. Some of us have already been back to school for weeks, while others will be starting this week. Here's a quick rundown of how you can increase or switch up your parent-teacher communication this year.
This year for my school's annual parent-teacher meeting, I decided to make a "snapshot" sheet for parents.This sheet will serve as a quick reference guide for parents during the school year.
 This year I created two Google forms for parents in my class. One is for parents to share contact information with other parents in the classroom to help make organizing parties or play dates easier. In the past I've had parents ask me to give the phone number or email of another parent, which I am never comfortable doing because of privacy. The other Google form is for us to share and upload class pictures during the year.
Next up is VolunteerSpot. This website helps you organize volunteers, snack time, and anything in 
between. It's free to sign up and begin scheduling with the option of paying for some extra features.
I like using this website to schedule parent volunteers on Friday afternoon. Your dashboard will tell you how many of your spots have been filled, and you can even use settings to email parents a reminder before their selected date/time.
If you're still using paper forms to schedule your conferences save yourself a headache with Doodle. This is another free (don't teachers just love that word) website to make scheduling easy peasy. You choose dates and times for parents to select from. 
Doodle allows you to add as many times to one date as you'd like and you select how many options parents can choose from. 

I have a full blog post on how I use schedule parent-teacher conferences here.
This year I'm excited to add Remind to my communication toolbox. Ever been home when you remember an important email or announcement you forgot to send to parents? Me too! 
Remind is a free app and website that allows you to send text messages to your parents. 
It's really that easy! In addition to plain text, you can send attachments or record your voice. Even if you or your parents don't have access to email, chances are you've got a cell phone and can receive texts. 
I hope you've found a new tip or two for your parent-teacher communication. What are some of your favorite apps or websites to share information? Enjoy the rest of your week!

Sunday, August 21, 2016

BTS Giveaway!

Happy Sunday y'all! Have you heard the news? Teachers Pay Teachers is having a Back to School bonus sale for one day only! Tomorrow August 22nd you can save up to 28% on some fabulous resources for your classroom. Of course my store will be on sale to help celebrate!
In honor of the sale and back to school season, I'm teaming up with some amazing bloggers for a HUGE giveaway!
How amazing is it that some well deserving, hard working teachers will win some great prizes?! Want a chance at winning? Begin entering the Rafflecopter!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Good luck and have a great week!

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Words To Live By

Hi friends! It's been a while since my last blog post. I had these visions of blog posts in my head, and then back to school season hit! Tomorrow I continue staff development in my district, and continue the mad dash to get my classroom ready before meeting my new minis and their parents Wednesday night. Oh, and did I mention the air conditioning in my classroom is currently NONEXISTENT??? Fix it Jesus!
I just wanted to quickly share one of my favorite quotes with you all tonight.
Don't be afraid to mix up your classroom layout, or teach that lesson you've been wanting to try. Don't let a negative opinion keep you from doing what's best for your students! If you haven't already connect with teachers who will be a support system for you. You deserve to have positive relationships that will energize and uplift you. Your students deserve the positive atmosphere you can provide for them. 
 Whenever you face a hater with a negative opinion or you're feeling gloomy this year just remember this quote! Print it out or screenshot it if you have to. Have a great week! Hopefully I can get back on track with blogging soon!  

Saturday, July 23, 2016

TpT Orlando

I think I'm finally recovered after an amazing time in Orlando last week! Oh my goodness  y'all it was seriously one of the best weeks ever for me!
My time in Orlando actually started the Sunday before the conference. My friend from school Darla and I, decided to turn the week into our working vacation. After arriving Sunday morning we spent the day at Magic Kingdom.
Aren't we fabulous! Those Minnie ears are on point!
There's always something magical about seeing Cinderella's Castle!

For dinner we met up with my friend Tamara Russell at Ohana. If you've never eaten at Ohana it's a must do restaurant while at Disney. Everything they served us was family style and DELICIOUS! It's a good thing we did so much walking, because I definitely did tons of eating.
Tamara came to dinner all pretty and glamed up! We certainly had lots of laughs at dinner.
We continued to visit the parks in the days before and after the conference. Every day was a blast! Of course I had to meet more Disney princesses this trip.
Tiana loved my tank top and shirt I had wore just to meet her! If you're ever looking for custom Disney shirts and ears, check out Etsy!
I got a part in Enchanted Tales with Belle! I got to play the role of Phillipe, the horse. Don't think Hollywood will come knocking on my door anytime soon, ha!
If you've never seen the Festival of Fantasy parade at Magic Kingdom it's a must do. The floats are unlike anything I've seen in any parade. This dragon from Sleeping Beauty actually breathes fire as it goes by.
Tuesday evening we headed to the Garden Grove to attend the Cool Kids Meet and Greet. This was my second year to attend, and it will definitely be a conference must do for me. 
We even got a visit from Goofy and Pluto during dinner! It was great to catch up and chat with old and new TpT friends!
At last the days of the conference arrived! You could feel the excitement in the air Wednesday morning. Jen Bengel gave an excellent keynote speech. One of the things I love most about TpT is lines of communication are constantly open. We are always kept in the loop of what's to come. God bless Adam Freed, that man knows his data well and can break it down so easily to understand. When Day one of the conference wrapped up it was finally time for the BIG teacher meet up. Check out Tallahassee Sunday on Etsy for custom door signs. The had this sign available to take pictures with; too bad it couldn't be taken home!

The second morning of the conference we were served a poolside breakfast! It felt so fancy to me!
The sessions were amazing! I was pleasantly surprised to see I made a cameo appearance in one session.
Call me a dork, but this made my day! Sherri Tyler from Literary Sherri and Mary Beth Nerone from Brain Waves Instruction had a wonderful session on organizing meet ups. Seriously, these ladies know their stuff. 
Another reason to love TpT is how down to earth Team TpT'ers are! Adam, Paul, Amy, and others were walking around attending sessions and chatting with people. Every Team TpT'er I met was approachable and easy to chat with. 
It was fun to have more time at happy hour with everyone, but that also meant one thing. It meant the conference fun was coming to an end. 
Before saying our final goodbyes, we had one last dinner. Last year Michelle and I chatted poolside in Vegas, this year she joined us for dinner Thursday night at The Boathouse. The food was delicious! Check out Michelle's blog Teaching Ideas For Those Who Love Teaching
I came home tired, but with a happy heart. Happy because of the new tips and tricks I learned. Happy because I reconnected with people I've been waiting a year to see again. My biggest takeaway from the conference was meaningful connections. If you've never attended a TpT conference you must go next year if possible. I promise it will be worth every penny, and you won't regret a moment of it. Go by yourself if you need to and you'll quickly find people to connect with!

I look at the quote in this picture and agree with it 100%. TpT helps me keep my passion for teaching when it gets tough. I'm reminded that I became a teacher because I'm passionate about helping children reach their potential. I have so much love and respect for TpT. Now comes the LONG wait until next year!