Friday, June 26, 2015

What Are You Reading?: Professional Reading

I have a lot of reading to get done in the next two months! I've opted to read my PD, rather than attend any (besides the TPT conference)!

Setting Limits in the Classroom by Robert J. Mackenzie and Lisa Stanzione
I started this book last summer and never finished it. Since I was made the team lead for my school's behavior committee, I thought it'd be good to read this book to get ideas for my teacher PD that I'm leading in August. Lots of good ideas, especially for upper elementary!

Never Work Harder Than Your Students by Robyn R. Jackson
I just started this book on my flight back from Pennsylvania last week, but I absolutely love it so far! It's been on my "to read" list forever, and now I'm finally diving in.

Unshakeable by Angela Watson 
This book is one that I'm participating in a book club for, so I haven't started it yet. My plan is to read a chapter each day before we discuss it. Anyone can join in! So if you're interested, join the Facebook group:

The Essential 55 by Ron Clark
This book is truly inspiring (as is every book Ron Clark has written). I plan to use some of the Essential 55 in my classroom this year, but I don't think I could handle all 55. Rule 6: Say "thank you" when given something. (That one is my favorite - simple, yet powerful.) You can easily Google what all 55 are, but the stories that Clark tells to go along with each rule are inspiring and really help you understand how it looks in the classroom and why it's important. I highly recommend this book!

The Book Whisperer by Donalyn Miller
This book is an excellent read for an upper elementary / middle school teacher. Getting students to branch out in their reading (other genres) is something that I had struggled with. Miller introduced the 40 Book Challenge in her book, and it completely transformed my reading homework for my (4th grade) students last year. They grumbled when I introduced the 40BC to them at the beginning of the year. I was the worst teacher for requiring them to read poetry and award winners. But by the end of the year, students and parents were thanking me for the challenge because it opened their eyes to new books/genres/series. Win! Miller has many excellent ideas on how to ignite a natural love for reading within students.

Guided Math by Laney Sammons
I have always struggled with teaching math. How do I make it more engaging? How do I get my students to understand the importance / real world connection of learning this topic? How do I help those who just don't get it? How do I make sure my math block is used to its full potential every single day? Guided Math helped answer all of those questions - and more. After reading this book and implementing Sammons' ideas into my math block, students were finally engaged during math. I was able to differentiate (easily), get in the dreaded math fact practice (in a fun way), have students practice previously taught concepts (think spiraling), and meet with my students to make sure they all understood.

The following books are all on my "to read" list.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Monday Made It: June 22 {2015-2016 Teacher Planner}

Last week I *finally* finished up all updates on my teacher planners. After taking a mental break from the thought of school -- which only lasted about a minute, ha! -- I customized my own planner and put it together. I absolutely love every bit of it and can't wait to start planning with my team this week!

For the next school year I changed it up and bought a whole new Arc notebook to put it all together. The Martha Stewart cover I've been using for the last two years got so dirty and gross very easily, and I was constantly cleaning it. {Here's to hoping this one won't show the dirt as easily!}

The cover is from Staples. It's called M by Staples Arc and is purple leather. I chose to go with this rather than having my files bound because I can add/remove pages at any time, and reuse this notebook base every year. {I did have to purchase the Arc punch, but it's so worth it.} I also upgraded the disc size so that I could add more to my notebook. {The link goes to pink 1" discs, but mine are 1.5" discs. They don't have the 1.5" on their website in pink.} The chevron notebook band is also from Staples and is Arc brand, but I can't find it on their website to link to it. It came in as a 2-pack.

I did print all of the pages myself. I purchased 32 lb. paper to print on. It holds better and prints better. I don't have to worry about bleed through with this paper - for printer ink or pens. I also found that when writing on 32 lb. paper with a pencil, it erases a lot better than on regular paper.

The divider tabs are also from Staples and Arc Discbound system. I will use my label maker with clear tape to label the tabs, as soon as I can decide what I want them to say. :)

I still have 2 tabs left, which I will use for resources (DIBELS info, reading levels, etc.) and class checklists (homework passes, student of the month, ClassDojo points, etc.).

Want to create your own planner? Check out my 5 different designs in my TPT store!

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Teacher Planner Sale on TPT: June 17-20

I have *finally* finished all updates on my Teacher Planners! If you've purchased one in the past, please redownload! :) {Thank you for your patience!}

This time around I added a ton more, extended all dated material through December 2016, and have made all of the files PowerPoints so you can type onto them before printing (if you wish).

To celebrate this big feat, all 5 designs will be 20% off June 17-20. Remember: each year you get to download the updates for FREE! {The number of pages varies by design due to the number of cover pages I created with the selected backgrounds. Otherwise, all material is the same in each set.}

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Tech Thursday: 3 Websites to Try Next Year

I am linking up with Teaching Trio for Tech Thursday. Today I am sharing 3 websites that I plan to use next year. 

1. Biblionasium - This past year I had my students complete the 40 Book Challenge. They loved it. I loved it. But the one thing we both struggled with was the reading log. I recently came across Biblionasium on Pinterest and decided to try to use it for the 40BC next year. It's completely free and allows students to track what they read, receive recommendations from other students and the teacher, write reviews, and more. It seems like a tool that both the students - and I - will love! If you've used it, I'd love to hear what you think of it.

2. MobyMax - I started using MobyMax in January last year and my students really loved it. They thought it was fun to earn time to play games through the learning modules. MobyMax covers math, ELA, and writing CCSS curriculum and is based on a placement test. The data that I receive as a teacher is so helpful in getting those who are struggling the extra practice they need - all through the website. We used MobyMax in-class and at-home. It does cost $99 per year for a one-classroom license, but I think it's so worth it.

3. VolunteerSpot - I know there are several volunteer sign up / conference scheduling websites out there, but I have been so happy using VolunteerSpot for the last 3 years. I'm able to easily setup my in-class volunteers month-to-month and share the calendar with parents so they can sign up at their convenience. I do the same with parent teacher conferences, which takes out all of the work of getting parents the time they prefer. I also use the site for coordinating supply donations for the classroom and parties so I don't end up with 5 boxes of cookies and 0 napkins. VolunteerSpot has really evolved over the last 3 years and is so much more user-friendly now than it was in the past -- so if you've turned away from using it in the past, I suggest you give it another shot!

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Favorite Things: Apps

I'm an Android phone lover, so I use all of these apps on my Samsung Galaxy S5. But, they're all available on Apple products, too.

1. Google - Having an Android phone, using the Google app as a widget on my home screen keeps me in the loop with everything in my life. Travel plans are automatically shown to me (with up-to-date info for my flights), scores for my favorite sports teams, tracking info for packages, and events on my calendar.

2. IF - This app is awesome! It connects all of my most important apps -- Instagram, Google Photos, Gmail, OneDrive, and tons more. You choose "recipes" to have IF watch for and trigger the app to work for you. I currently have recipes set up for my Instagram photos to be automatically backed up in my OneDrive, for Facebook photos I'm tagged in to by saved to my OneDrive, and to receive an alert the day before rain is in the forecast. There are so many cool ways to use this app! I suggest you check it out!

3. OneDrive - I love this app mostly because I'm a PC (and Windows 8) user. All of my files on my laptop are automatically synced to the OneDrive cloud and can be accessed on all of my devices. I can access files directly on my phone, when I need something on the go and my files are synced (with changes made!) between my desktop PC and laptop. OneDrive also saved my life once. No lie. My laptop died and I had all of my photos, TPT files, etc. on my laptop -- but luckily I had everything backed up! Thank goodness, or else I would have been out of luck! I absolutely LOVE it!