Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Secondary Half Way Sale! Dec. 31 - Jan. 1

Wow! December has been crazy busy!

If you're like me, your mind is slowly starting to think about returning to the classroom. Luckily for both of us, Mel and Gerdy (Getting Nerdy with Mel and Gerdy) are hosting a Secondary Half Way Sale...and they've invited secondary sellers to join in on the fun!

There are a TON of sellers on Teachers Pay Teachers who have decided to link up and host sales. On December 31st to January 1st, you'll find sellers on THIS LIST who have decided to offer 20% off items in their stores! WOO!

And finally...if you're on the hunt for new interactive notebook activities, I've JUST uploaded the Origins of Judaism Interactive Notebook...so grab one and start your year off organized!
Visit The Teacher's Prep store for great deals and some new activities (and freebies!) to add to your lesson plan book.

Happy Teaching!

Monday, December 1, 2014

Currently December

November...where art thou? I swear I blinked and it was gone!
The holiday season is SO busy - in the best possible way. Decorating, baking, spending time with family, having fun and learning in the classroom...I want to savor every amazing moment of the most wonderful time of the year! First up, another Currently hosted by Oh Boy 4th Grade:

Listening: I can't get over holiday music. I'm listening to it every chance I get! It makes me feel so happy and relaxed to listen to the sounds of the season.

Loving: Get ready for a holiday pattern...I'm loving decorations! The holiday season is my FAVORITE time of year so you better believe I'm in the midst of decorating mode. The mission this week: buy a tree!

Thinking: I need to get started on my gift list. Fingers crossed I get it done early in the season!

Wanting: Family time! My favorite part of the holiday season is the time I get to spend with my family. Everyone comes together to celebrate our blessings and I wouldn't have it any other way!

Needing: To plan my lessons for the next three weeks and beyond. I will feel so relaxed once I have my plans ready!

Giving: I know how crazy it can be for teachers during the holiday season (see "Needing" above!) To lend a helping hand, I created a Holiday Writing Prompts FREEBIE! It contains 5 black and white holiday writing prompts. Cute clip art abounds and all you need to do is print and go!

OH! P.S. - don't forget to check out the TpT sale and save up to 28% on teaching resources!! It ends on December 2nd at 11:59 pm. Happy Teaching!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Super Cyber Savings - A TpT Sale!

Bring on the holiday cheer! The TpT sale is here!

What an amazing way to kick off the holiday season! My little cart full of goodies has been waiting for this moment for far too long. On December 1st and 2nd, TpT is hosting a Super Cyber Savings sale! Buyers will save up to 28% off their on-sale resources! These sales only happen a few times a year, people, so you better bet your bottom dollar there will be teachers everywhere taking advantage of the amazing prices!

When you check out, use the promo code TPTCYBER to receive the extra discount.
OH - and don't forget to dash over and leave feedback for your past purchases. You'll earn CREDIT towards future purchases. It's like FREE MONEY from TpT as a thank you for being you! How awesome is that?!

Jump in your one horse open sleigh and dash thru the snow to Teachers Pay Teachers and start prepping for one of the best sales of the year!

Happy Teaching (and shopping!)

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Historical Thinking Skills - My Classroom Must-Have!

Wow! This month is flying by!

Exciting news for this little blog: the lovely Teaching With Smiles nominated me for a Liebster Award! I'm so thankful to be able to connect with other bloggers and I can't wait to share my own nominations for the Liebster Award soon!

First up, though, a much overdue post on a new resource that's close to my heart -

Historical thinking is a process students use when analyzing primary and secondary sources. It's not enough to simply read a document or examine an historical image and move on. Students need to return to the text multiple times during their examination. Often, however, I've found that these skills are mainly being utilized by older students in high school and middle school. In reality, the process needs to start at the elementary level. In an effort to bring historical thinking into the elementary classroom, I developed a set of activities that are easy to incorporate into the Language Arts or Social Studies content in the classroom.

The basis of the historical thinking activities is Think and Link.

There are 5 components of Think and Link:

The Source
Students will identify the author(s) of the document. Students will also identify the type of document being analyzed.
The Description
Students will describe what they see or read in the document. If it is a picture, they'll describe the image. If it is a document or chart, students can describe the main ideas.
The Background
Students will use their background knowledge of the time period to describe the events surrounding the creation of the document.
The Purpose
Using their background knowledge, students will form a hypothesis as to why the document was created by using evidence. Depending upon the grade level/complexity needed, the teacher can prompt students to decide whether the source is biased or neutral.
The Reaction
Students will describe how people may have reacted to the creation of the document. Essentially - how did this document influence/impact history?

The resource, intended for grades 2 - 5, includes posters, word wall templates, and plenty of activities to both introduce students to the concept of historical thinking and continue the study throughout the year.

Check out the list of resources included:

I'm so excited to share these resources with other teachers because I truly believe they will help students make connections between historical events, become confident readers, and deep thinkers. Plus, they were made with Common Core (and similar) standards in mind to boot!
Visit The Teacher's Prep store for more information!
Happy Teaching!

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Currently: November

I was SO excited to find Oh' Boy 4th Grade's blog recently and so thankful that she hosts a fun blog party every month called Currently. Without further ado...

Listening: If you haven't heard of Lindsay Stirling's AMAZING album, Shatter Me, let me be the first to direct you to one of her music videos below. She finds a way to bring classical music into the modern age in a style all her own.

Loving: The weather in Florida this weekend is perfection. The 70s are the sweet spot for fall in the Sunshine State. I can hang out on the back porch in shorts and a t-shirt without sweating - a miraculous feat after the extraordinary heat this summer.

Thinking: I need to up my Pinterest game. I've been using Pinterest for a few months now, but I'm still trying to find a way to connect with others on collaborative boards. If you have any advice for how to FIND great collaborative boards for upper elementary/middle school teachers, let me know!

Wanting: Thanksgiving Break! My whole family will be in town this year for a scrumptious feast. I am on pins and needles waiting for the family fun to begin!

Needing: So...my workout routine has yet to really begin. I promised myself last week I'd ride my bike or go on regular walks at least 3 times a week, but by the time I get home from school it's dark already! Maybe it's time to break out the Wii Fit game. That counts, right? ;)

Reading: I've been on the hunt for new teacher blogs to read. Anytime I find one I like, I immediately become a Bloglovin' follower to keep track of their newest posts. If you have any blogs to recommend, let me know in the comments!

Happy Teaching!

Sunday, November 2, 2014

My Favorite Freebies {November Edition}

Finally! The holiday season is here! While some people start the celebrating after Thanksgiving, I like to start early. I mean, who doesn't love family gatherings and good food?!

This year, I feel thankful for so many things: my family, my friends, my amazing school, and my new experience on Teachers Pay Teachers this year, just to name a few!

In this season of thanks, I am also thankful for teachers who offer fantastic freebies that we can use in and outside the classroom. Check out a few of my Favorite November Freebies below and click on the links below the pictures to enjoy them for yourself!

Thanksgiving How To Writing Pack
Thanksgiving How To Writing Pack FREEBIE
So...many...options! A 32 page freebie?! You rock, Learning is Something to Treasure!

Gobbling Up Descriptive Words
{FREE!} Gobbling Up Descriptive Words
I love that Blair Turner developed a freebie to help students practice creating descriptive words. She made learning a key concept fun!

Thanksgiving Day Writing Activity
Thanksgiving Turkey - Writing Activity
So darn cute!! Thanks, Ms. Makinson
Thanksgiving Banners
Thanksgiving Pennant Banner Clipart
Lindsay Jervis...fueling my obsession with banners and pendants again! So many happy feels right now! Thanks, girl!
My Favorite Dish Thanksgiving Bar Graph
Thanksgiving "Favorite Dish" Bar Graph (2nd - 3rd Grade)
The Schoolhouse Divas are experts at making math fun...and that's a tall order! Also, the turkey on the cover is making me soooo hungry for Thanksgiving dinner right now.
Until next time...Happy Teaching!

Sunday, October 26, 2014

The New Teacher Survival Guide: Staying Positive

I'm excited to introduce a new series on the blog...The New Teacher Survival Guide!
This edition is focused around staying positive on the wonderful roller coaster that is teaching.
Before I begin, new teacher, I want to let you know that we have ALL been in your shoes. You have the makings of excellence in your bones, but this time of year is notoriously rough.
Everything will be O.K.!
Does this image look familiar to you?
Image Credit: Beach Teach
People, if this is correct, you are in the midst of DISILLUSIONMENT. Your shiny new classroom may feel like a prison. You may feel like you aren't making a difference. You may be asking yourself..."WHAT HAVE I DONE?"
The good news is you are not alone. The better news is as soon as winter break hits, your period of rejuvenation will be in full swing. You will survive. I repeat, hope is on the horizon.
I absolutely love my school, and despite the amazing support and encouragement I had during my first year, I was not immune to the "disillusionment" phase. It had absolutely nothing to do with my colleagues, students, or administration...it was all in my own mind...and trust me, the feeling was real.
In a less ideal situation, I can only imagine the feeling may be worse. I tell you my story not to brag about my school, but to show you that every new teacher feels this way, regardless of their circumstances!
Once winter break hit, I caught my breath. I focused on ME during the holiday season, just like you should focus on YOU. Until that time, though, here are some helpful hints to help you hang in there:
1. Do not (I repeat, DO NOT) take work home with you.
Stay longer after school or get there early, but leave work at work. That includes checking emails. Seriously - you will burn out faster than you can count to 3.
2. Keep a journal
In your journal, write about all the positive things that happened to you during the week. Keep the negative stories out. You'll find that the positives far outweigh the negatives - and it will help you recognize all the amazing moments that happen throughout the school day!
3. Find a friend
A teacher friend, that is. Find someone in your school or another school that you can talk to about school. Why? Only they will truly understand your feelings as a new teacher. If this teacher-friend is a bit older, they can offer you invaluable advice to help you survive that first year and beyond.
Until next time...Happy Teaching!

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Keep Calm and LOVE Interactive Notebooks

A few years ago, I heard whispers of interactive notebooks. Over the past several months, those whispers grew louder and those activities kept popping up everywhere! I am a huge proponent of using foldable activities with my students to help them organize their information. When I saw interactive notebooks in action...I was smitten!

Interactive notebooks are designed to provide students with the means of organizing research and activities in an interactive way. When I started designing my own this year, my goal was to make them simple and effective for other teachers to use as well. I've been a busy little bee ever since!

As a teacher, I crave flexibility. I need to have resources that I can tailor to fit the needs of my students. With that thought in mind, I love interactive notebooks that guide my instructional focus, yet leave me free to customize it for my own classroom!

I'm currently working my way through the exciting world of ancient civilizations. Most recently, I've added the Ancient Egypt Interactive Notebook to The Teacher's Prep store on Teachers Pay Teachers!

Cool Fact:
ALL of the Interactive Notebooks on The Teacher's Prep are 20% off today and tomorrow!
Happy Teaching!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

My Favorite Freebies {October Edition}

Who loves freebies?

You can't see me right now, but I'm waving my hand wildly in the air. I mean, who doesn't love a freebie?!

Every month, I plan on writing a post highlighting my absolute favorite freebies of the moment. All of them can be downloaded from Teachers Pay Teachers, so click on those links and download away, my friends!

Freebie #1: Cute Halloween Kids from Lindsey Elizabeth

FREE Cute Halloween Kids {Digital Clip Art}

Freebie #2: Happy Jack-O-Lanterns from Krista Wallden
{FREE} Happy Jack-O-Lanterns {Creative Clips Digital Clipart}
Teaching in the Tongass
Stitched Ghosts Clipart Bundle
Ashley Hughes
FREE Square Scalloped Halloween Frames {Graphics for Comme
The Teacher's Prep
 Halloween Banners and Bunting Starter Pack
 (My first banner clip art!) :)
Happy Teaching!

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Be Effective: Be Reflective

Recently, a colleague asked a group of teachers this question...and at first I didn't know what to say. I work hard in the classroom. My students are growing and learning every day. I feel like I'm making a difference, yet this question dumbfounded me. Why?
Before that moment, no one had ever asked me that question. So much of teaching is about collaboration and I instantly felt guilty even thinking about what might make me "better" than my colleagues. With my pen poised above my paper, I had to make a decision. He was awaiting our answers.
My guilt soon eased into reflection. My colleague was not, in fact, asking what made me "better" than other teachers. Instead, he was asking me to reflect. It wasn't about comparing myself to others. It was about discovering my own strengths and celebrating my successes.
I found this task difficult at first. Every day I celebrate the success of my students. I cheer them on and encourage them to work hard. When they succeed, I am proud - and I tell them so. Their success in daily lessons makes me feel successful...but that's not the answer he was looking for. He was asking me to think about my actions. What is my greatest strength as a teacher?
I realized then, that many teachers are probably like me. It's easy to get caught up in the fast-paced world of lesson planning, assessments, meetings, and constantly working with students. How many of us actually take time to truly reflect? As a first year teacher, someone advised me to keep a journal to measure my growth. I promised to do so...until I actually started teaching. Like trying to hold onto a rope of sand, time slips through our fingers.
My colleague made me stop and think. He made me realize that to be effective, we must also be reflective. Only then can we truly understand our strengths and weaknesses and work towards growing into better educators and better versions of ourselves.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Once Upon a Time...

This first blog post is more intimidating than I thought it would be! There's nothing quite like staring at that little blinking line on my screen patiently awaiting the first keystrokes.

As I begin my journey with The Teacher's Prep blog, I have two goals:

1. I want to share strategies, lessons, and ideas with you! As a fairly new teacher, I vividly remember what it's like to stare at a sea of young faces for the first time. I have gained valuable experience over the past few years, and I can't wait to share it with you!

2. Even more importantly, I want to learn from and connect with other educators. Teachers do not exist in isolation. We are part of a larger family working towards a common goal: educating and mentoring young people. The notion of expanding collaboration is exciting!

I hope you'll join my little blog as it sets off on a new adventure! Excitement and fun await us!