Sunday, December 6, 2015

3 Creative Ways to Teach Vocabulary

This post has moved to my new website.  CLICK HERE to read more.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

A Holiday Treat for You - December A Poem Each Week

This post has been moved to my new website. CLICK HERE to access your FREEBIE!

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Weekly Notes (Books, Lessons, Freebies and More) 11/20/15

Books, lessons, and freebies.  Here is a treat for you this Thanksgiving.  I hope you are either already on vacation or just two school days away from a much needed break.

Book of the Week
I've been revisiting an old book Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within by Natalie Goldberg.  After a 5-year hiatus from writing, I am finally trying to get over the fear I've felt of the page.  I've enjoyed putting words on paper again and this book is inspiring me to get over myself and get on the page.

Lesson of the Week
This week I like to focus on poetry.  It is a week filled with activity and poetry is quick and easy. These 4 poems by Jack Prelutsky will get everyone in the holiday mood and reflecting on their Thanksgiving Traditions.  You can get this November A Poem Each Week for FREE.

Fabulous Friday Freebie
My wonderful friend, Erin Shurbutt from Snazzy in Second made these wonderful Properties of Addition posters.  I love how I can use these at centers and have them on the walls.  A little velcro on the back makes them easy to move.

My Favorite Pin of the Week
This bread!  This will be an appetizer for my Thanksgiving Day.  I can't wait.  

Recipe of the Week
About a year ago my husband and I completed Whole 30.  We have spent the past year trying to stick to the 80/20 rule.  80% of the time we follow Whole 30 and the other 205 we eat what we want. One of the staple meals we fix is Paleo Italian Meatballs from Tastes of Lizzy T's. This makes a lot of food and we are set for lunches, dinners, and snacks.  In the recipe you can find the link for the a sauce and how to cook spaghetti squash.

Finding Time for Me
After a 20 year hiatus from the high school swim team, I dove back into the pool.  I hate working out. I hate running, and watching the clock, I hate gym class teachers who are super excited about working out and want me to yell and count.  But, I love water.  Today I got over myself, put my 1 year old in the gym daycare and did laps in the pool.  I feel great!  My entire body feels alive.  I was alone for 25 minutes with nothing but myself and a pool.  The only sounds were my breath and splashing and my brain actually relaxed.  To top if off, I hopped in the hot tub for 5 minutes and was able to shower and put my make up on without someone wanting to be held or play with my brushes. This will be my thing.  My 25 minutes of silence.

Friday, November 20, 2015

How to Teach Poetry (Even if you HATE it)

Don't leave, we have moved but you can still get this free download!  Just hop on over to my new site. You will find plenty of free lessons and ideas on poetry, classroom management, and more!

Thursday, November 19, 2015

The #1 Way to Reduce Stress

I've struggled with stress, and anxiety for years.  I have this compulsive need to be perfect and if I can't do it perfectly then I just sit around and worry about it.

After lots of research, and talking with others I have discovered the truth to reducing stress.

You must find what makes YOU happy and do it.  

The other night I received a text for a friend asking me if I was going to make our monthly book club.  I told her I wasn't.  A. I hadn't read the book and B. I thought it was the week before when I had food poisoning and one of the kids had yet another virus.

She responded with, "Find time to go to the beach."

Well, of course, I couldn't do that.  But it got me thinking about making something "like" that happen. So the next morning I packed the gym bag.  I dropped the 3-year-old off at preschool and for the first time I took the 1-year old to the gym with me.

I put on the only swimsuit I had and dove into the pool.  I swam laps for the first time since high school swim team.  It wasn't perfect, but it was me alone in the water.  The only sounds were my breathing and the splashing.  For 25 minutes I had no stresses, no worries, and a peace literally and figuratively washed over me.

I topped off my swim with a few minutes in the sauna.  With my eyes closed, and my swimsuit on I could imagine that I just finished a swim in the ocean and it was a hot summer day.  I had actually found time to "go to the beach."

I left with the gym with a happy kid who had fun playing with other kids his age, a bag full of wet clothes, and a whole new attitude about how to face my day without stress.

Today, I went back and while I swam laps I reflected on happiness.  For years I had tried to do what worked in making others happy.  Not once did I think about what made me happy.  I hate running, I hate gym classes with peppy instructors, and I hate watching a clock.  But the sound and sight of a pool, a lake, an ocean, or even a creek calms me.  I love hot summer days where you walk outside and it's like a big fluffy blanket surrounds you.

I learned that finding time to do what makes me happy (or my own version of it) can give me the brain power to tackle my day without the needless worry and stress.  You might not be able to lunch at a European cafe, or relax at a spa.  But a bistro table on the back patio or a nice bath with candles may be what you need to get that feel.  It may be just the not-so-perfect way to get exactly what you need.

So what about you? Is stress taking over you day?  Have you found what makes you happy?  What ways have you tweaked what you need in order to fit it into your daily world?

Photo: Puhha/dollar Photo Club

Friday, November 13, 2015

Weekly Notes to Simply Your Life - 11/13/15

Happy Friday the 13th.  I always like to start new things on Friday the 13th.  Hey I came into this world on a Friday the 13th and I thought that was a pretty lucky day.  I decided today would be a great day to start my weekly notes series.  Each Friday I will share with you some of the things that worked (and some of those that didn't work) in hopes of simplifying your week.  So let's get started.

Book of the Week
This week I am rereading The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo for the 100th time.  It is going to be the first book in the new Teacher Book Club series that I am hosting on Facebook.  More details will be coming this week. The main goal is to house a place where you can share and get ideas on using books for read alouds and guided reading.

Lesson of the Week
Want to learn more about creating character?  Check out the video below.  You can also access the handouts here.

Fabulous Friday Freebie
I found this fantastic book in Jennifer Gibbon's Teaching with Grace Teachers Pay Teachers store.  It was such a joy to sit with my daughter and color and read together.  I was amazed at how much she has learned at her preschool this year.  Each week it is loads more.  This Emergent Reader Alphabet Book was the perfect resource for her to show what she knows and for the two of us to explore new letters.

My Favorite Pin of the Week
I am hosting Thanksgiving for my family this year and I am dying to try to put this centerpiece together. This may become a Pinterest fail, but I am going to try it out.  I will share my findings with you.
You can also check out the blog post here.

Recipe of the Week
My family's all time favorite meal is Italian Chicken.  I love it most of all because it is quick and easy.  The kids can help me and it is minimal mess and time out of my busy day.  I found it on pinterest and only in the comments.  I added the link because there were other good meals but here it is:
 4 chicken breasts
1 packet Zesty Italian dressing seasoning
 8 oz. cream cheese (softened)
2 cans cream of chicken soup
Cook on low for 4 hours. 
If sauce is too thick, add a little milk. Serve over pasta. 

Finding Time for Me
So one of the biggest things I have been working on lately is to find a little me time.  After repeated recommendations, I finally started watching Parenthood on Netflix.  Ahh, a show that is real to what it is like.  No I don't have a big family, no I don't live in the same town as my family, but yes they show the hardships and the reality what my life is like.  I find myself In many of the characters.  And it's nice to find a show that can move me to laughter and tears and not to my iPad or computer.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

How I Found Time to Meditate

October - a month filled with tricks and treats.  I have always loved October with it's blue skies and chilly mornings.  I love watching the leaves turn bright yellow and orange, and I love football.

This October, however, has provided more tricks than treats.  My oldest (age 3) is refusing to poop. Sixteen days is the record and she is currently on day 10 of new withhold.  In the middle of that both kids got the croup.  A croup which hung on until it brought pneumonia and an ear infection.

In response to this, I invited a dear friend over for dinner Friday night.  We stayed at the table talking while my husband took the kids to shower and get ready for bed. As we enjoyed a glass of wine and good conversation, we heard the sound of dripping water.  Yep, the upstairs shower was draining into the kitchen sink.  That put a pretty abrupt end to everyone's night.

On Saturday morning, my husband took the kids to the gym so I could actually enjoy getting ready and dry my hair (a rare feat these days). I had to shower in the kids Jack and Jill bathroom.  I was actually looking forward to a small, quiet room with no windows.  I turned off the lights, shut the door, and enjoyed the silence.  I was feeling refreshed and ready to take on the rest of October.  And you know what?  The door was locked.  Yep, when we replaced the door knobs somehow this one got placed backwards, and my son who loves to push buttons, locked it.

The next hour was spent sitting on the floor of my now sauna waiting for my husband and kids to get home.  I had time to panic, time to try to pull the door open, and then time to relax and just be. During my time I came to realize that my kiddos weren't sick at all last year, and even though they coughed a lot it didn't seem to interfere with their days.  I realized that my youngest is doing great with his fine-motor skills since he could lock the door, and my husband was wonderful enough to take them so I could have a few (well more than I expected) minutes alone.  And on top of it all, I had time to relax and meditate.  Time to realize that we all have our own crazy worlds.  Worlds that sometimes keep going opposite of the road we have planned. But the goal is to keep pushing through because soon those blue skies and sick-free days will return.  (And hopefully with a new non-leaking shower!)

Hope your Halloween is filled with treats! 

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

October A Poem Each Week

The October A Poem Each Week has arrived!   This time of year gets super busy with Red Ribbon Week, assemblies, parties, and testing.  Poetry is a great way to squeeze in read alouds and introduce and review new standards.  This month we are looking at 4 poems.

Dreams by Langston Hughes
Explorers by Jessica Zannini
Theme in Yellow by Carl Sandburg 
Halloween by Ken Nesbitt

Each of these poems can be easily found in your school or local library. Many of these poems used can be found with an online search as well.  If you have trouble locating these poems, please ask your school library media specialist for assistance.

These poems are great to use with your own children and grandchildren. They are great to read together and discuss in whole group and small group lessons.  With younger children, choral read the poems so they can learn the rhythm. With older students have them identify parts of speech in the poem and have them read or memorize the poem.

Click here to access this month's activities.

Click here for the What is Poetry? book.  

Click here to learn more!

The November edition of A Poem Each Week will be available on October 22nd.  Follow me for reminders and additional ideas for using poetry in the classroom.


Enter below to win a copy of my October Poetry Literacy Centers for Grades 2-3!  This resource gives you a month of activities aligned with poems written by Jessica Zannini to match the standards. You can learn more about these centers by visiting my Teachers Pay Teachers Store.  The January - September editions are ready to go.  

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Monday, September 21, 2015

Sneak-A-Peek with a Peach: My At-Home Classroom

The past few years my classroom has become my playroom.  Check out my post on the Primary Peach to see how I turned to playroom into a toddler classroom.

Monday, August 31, 2015

September A Poem Each Week

 Click to Access this FREE September A Poem Each Week resource. 

Don't leave, we have moved but you can still get this free download!  Just hop on over to my new site. You will find plenty of free lessons and ideas on poetry, classroom management, and more!

Monday, August 17, 2015

Language Tool: Poetry Throughout the Year

This week I am linking up with #Teachermom for another week of the Building Back to School Link-Up.  This week I am sharing with you ways that poetry can enhance your language curriculum.  

Poetry is such a great teaching tool and I have found it being the thing that is last on the list when teaching literature.  There are so many wonderful ways to use poetry.

1. Running Records
2. Teaching Fluency
3. Read Alouds (especially on the days when time is tight)
4. Teaching ELA Standards
5. Inferencing
6. Parts of Speech

The list could go on and on.  One the newest ways I have used poetry is in my Literacy Center.  I have been able to incorporate many of the common core standards in this center.  I wrote each poem used in the center so it would address the standards and skills I feel the students need at that time.  I have used both an activity board where every student does each assignment and as a choice board.

I love that poetry allows students to ability to really dissect the word choice and look at the different parts of speech.  I have found that most students, especially students with reading difficulty, love poetry.  It is shorter, and therefore brings less stress.  Students can quickly see the beginning and end.

With these centers I have also been able to incorporate math, science, and social studies.  I created a What Is Poetry Book to accompany the August/September Center (on SALE now).  This book teaches the poetry vocabulary and types of poetry that will be used throughout the school year.

Below you will find all of the topics used throughout the school year in the Poetry Literacy Centers for the Year

You can access my FREE Groundhog Day Poetry Literacy Center here

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Saturday, August 15, 2015

A Poem Each Week - Introduction

A Poem Each Week is a free program designed to get students reading and talking about poetry. Each week students/classes will read one poem.  The list of poems (you can find in school and local libraries and many are available online) and free discussion starters and activities will be available on my blog Notes from the Portable ( before the beginning of each month.   

Poetry is a great way to get students reading for many reasons.

  1. It isn’t long and intimidating.
  2. There are many types of poems that reach a variety of kids.
  3. They are great for transformations where students can write poems similar to a great author.
  4. They use excellent word choice.  

We want to encourage students to discuss the poems. Some great ways to get them talking:
  1. Print out the discuss cards and have a leader at each lunch table ask the questions as a talking point for students.  Then after lunch have a whole class share about what was discussed at lunch.
  2. Have students share their thoughts and reflections through various forms of social media - twitter (I will host a twitter chat twice a week to discuss the poems), Facebook (You can post on your own sites or I will have a post for students to comment on my page as well), edmodo, kidblog, class webpages, etc.  Use what tools work for you and your classroom.  If you don’t have class time to discuss in class encourage students to do this outside of school.  It ‘s a great way to gets families reading together and the parents can see the online discussions.  If you do share please use either the # for the program (#apoemeachweek15-16, or the # for each poem - see the one issued for each poem here or in the discussion starter handout)
  3. Have a graffiti wall in the classroom where students can write responses and thoughts for the poem of the week.  

September Poems:
Week 1 - Sarah Cynthia Sylvia Stout - Shel Silverstein
Week 2 - Bed In Summer by Robert Louis Stevenson
Week 3 - Mine by Lillian Moore
Week 4 - Fog by Carl Sandburg
Additional information and ideas will be available on August 24, 2015.  

Please remember to follow copyright laws when using these published poems.  All of these poems can be found in school and public libraries for you to check out for your class.  Also, many of these can be found on websites you can access that have permission to publish the poems.  Please don’t share photos of the poems you read.  

Want additional resources to help you teach poetry?  Check out:

Monday, August 10, 2015

Classroom Tools: Assessing Students Throughout the Year

I am linking up again this week with #Teacher Mom for the second week of Building Back to School. This week we will be discussing Classroom Tools. 

One thing I always wanted for my classroom was a daily assessment where I could get accurate data on what the students know.  I also wanted data on my science and social studies.  It was important for me to see what my students could do on their own.  I had found many homework packets or assignments that could be used for morning work, but they didn't fit my need.  Homework never gave me a true picture of what my students could do and most of the morning work assignments had too many questions.

I decided to make a daily assessment for myself.  My goal was to introduce ELA and math topics and then gradually give students more to do on their own each day.

With the science and social studies I wanted them to reflect research in the real world.  If the students don't know the answers to the science and social studies questions then they should be able to use the key words to research and find the answer.  One of the main goals of 21st Century Learners is that students are able to find and use information.

The other goal of this daily assessment is that it could be completed rather quickly.  This would help keep up with all students completing the assignment each day regardless of their arrival time.  It could also be an easy assignment for students to work on when they finish other subjects early.  And if a student was absent several days it would be easy make-up work.

So with all of those goals in mind I began my 3rd grade Daily Assessment.  You can access the first quarter daily assessment here.   The description tells all of the topics covered in the quarter for all subjects.  The Combo Pack link is available here.  The third grade pack for the entire year (180 days) will be completed in the next month and the fourth grade pack is in the works.

Enter the giveaway below to win the 3rd Grade Daily Assessment - Quarter 1.  Also check out the other bloggers in this link up for additional classroom tools to build your school year.

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Thursday, August 6, 2015

3 Ways to Effectively Communicate with Parents

I am linking up again with Erin Shurbutt from Snazzy In Second for the final week of our Back 2 School link-up. This week we are discussing effective ways to communicate with parents.  Here are 3 easy ways.

1. Student Weekly Self-Assessment:
I used to spend a great deal of my week preparing behavior checklists to go home with students each week.  I never felt this was very effective or a good use of my time.  I began handing that responsibility over to the students.  I created a weekly self-assessment that students used to assess their week.  You can read more about this and get freebies here.

I found that this opened up more communication with parents and the students. The results were much more authentic since it came from the students.

2. Weekly Newsletter:
Google Docs makes it so easy to share materials with students.  When I began teaching I felt that it was the responsibility of my students to communicate the events with parents, but now that I have my own kids who come home and tell me "I don't know,"  I realized that parents need a window into the classroom.  This newsletter doesn't have to be anything elaborate, just get out the important information and dates.  Having it online saves paper, but it is easy to make copies for those parents who prefer a hard copy.  Keep old copies and add the newest one to the front.  Then you have documentation of communication throughout the year.

3. Remind App:
This app is a great tool to use with students and parents.  With the age of technology most families have a phone with texting capabilities.  Learn more about this app at

Monday, August 3, 2015

Teacher Tools to Help Organize Your Year

For the entire month of August I am linking up with #Teacher Mom for Building Back to School. This first week we will be discussing Teacher Tools.  One of my favorite teacher tools was an inspiration that came after mentoring several new teachers.  I realized that many of the necessary things teachers need on the first day of school hadn't been taught to them in college courses and many times they do student teaching in the spring and their cooperating teachers have already taught the students how to meet their expectations.  

I joined forces with one of my favorite people, Erin from Snazzy in Second and we created a list of all the items we thought new teachers need to have covered before the students darken the doors.  We sat and discussed the various ways we have taught or carried out our procedures over the years. Some things we were super organized with and others were "organized chaos."  For each policy we listed "The Super Organized Teacher" and "The Organized Chaos Teacher" way.  We also provided editable versions so each teacher could edit the policy to fit their classroom needs.

We began by looking at our classroom policies (pencils, snacks, water, tissues, supplies, computers, parent communication and student behavior).  These were the simple things that are part of every day.  You can read more about this section and download great freebies here.

Classroom Policies
We then focused on moving about the room and school. It is critical that students know your expectations for moving throughout the building with you and without you.  In this section we provide solutions for entering the classroom, lining up and walking in the hallway, going to the bathroom, student errands, packing up, field trips, and dismissal.  The end of the school day is such a crazy time with all of the after school activities it is important that students know where they are heading each day.  I have some great ideas and freebies available here to help ensure that your students know what you expect!

Great ways to keep up with the classroom comings and goings. 

Organization of paperwork and materials came next.  This section focuses on classroom libraries, turning in classwork, homework, morning work, and notes from home.  We also suggest student jobs that will help you get everything completed each day.  And suggestions for using parent volunteers is provided.
Great tools to help organize parent and student volunteers
and all of that paperwork! 
The last area we looked at was lesson procedures. We focused on answering these questions:
1. What to do with early finishers?
2. How to establish your classroom rules and expectations?
3. How should students answer questions?
4. What is expected with student group work?
5. How do I carry out a successful independent reading block?

This teacher tool is on sale here until August 9th.  Go check it out!

What other procedures do you feel need to be provided to help new teachers reduce that beginning of the school year stress?  You can find more ideas in the links below.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Notes to My Children - #1

I have never been great about documenting the lives of my children.  I tried to be one of those on top of it moms who had monthly photos of my kids, but after month 3 time got away from me.  With my second kid he got photos on my phone but nothing with a monthly sticker on his chest.  Heck, the only reason he has a photo up in the house is that his preschool made me a framed picture for Mother's Day.  I don't have height charts, or files of artwork, and I definitely don't have monthly pregnancy pictures.  That, however, doesn't mean I don't love my children.

At night when everyone is asleep I lay in bed thinking of all of the things I should tell my children. The words I should say during the day, but get lost in the busy shuffle of the day.  And at 18 months, and 3 years, they might not sit to hear or understand them all.  I decided to write them monthly notes so they know all of the things I want for them.  Here is the first installment of Notes to My Children.

Dear G and Beni,

The most important thing you need to know is that you are loved.  You are loved through the temper tantrums and the early morning wake-ups.  You are loved while you refuse to eat, or get dressed, or go to the potty.  You are loved in every second of the day.

From the moment I held you both, you were loved fiercely.  Each of you have your own story.  G girl you decided to arrive 2 weeks early. Being early has been the theme to your first 3 years of life.  You were early to walk, to climb, to swing upside down on the bars, to sing your favorite songs, and to question the ways of the world.  Beni, you came on the day we chose, New Year's Eve.  You have spent your 18 months doing everything as planned.  As long as you are "up" you are content with the ways of the world.

Your hugs, kisses, snuggles, and words motivate me to be the best mother I can be.  I am blessed to have two wonderful people enter my world.   You amaze me day in and day out with your love for others, your passion for learning, and your zest for life.

Always know that you are loved.


Thursday, July 30, 2015

Back 2 School: Week 3 - Get To Know You Games

I am linking-up with Erin Shurbutt from Snazzy In Second for week 3 of the Back 2 School Link-Up. This week we are focusing on games to help you and your students get to know one another.  I have 3 of my favorites to share with you.  

This is a game I started using a few years ago.  It was perfect in helping me learn my students names and getting an idea of their personality as well. 
    1. Have each student choose a “sign” to go with their name.  (For example: I will say, “Mrs. Zannini” and pat my stomach.)  So my sign is patting my stomach. 
    2. Go around and have the students tell their name and show their sign.  I like to do this in the old “I’m going on a trip” fashion.  And we go back to the beginning.  If it is taking too much time I will restart in the middle.  
    3. On the second day of school, we review our signs and names and we play “Pass the Sign.”  This time I will say my name and sign and then say and do the sign for another person.  We continue to pass.  You can have students sit once they have gone so everyone has a turn, or you could divide the class into two groups.  
    4. On the third day, we review the signs again.  then we play pass the sign without saying names.  You can even send someone out of the room and start passing it behind the back of the guesser. 
I also like to use this during my lessons the first few weeks and do the sign while I call on someone’s name.  Or have the students watch me do a sign to see who’s turn it is next. 

Human Chain 
This one is an oldie but goodie.  
    1. Divide the class into groups of 5.  
    2. Have the students get in a circle. 
    3. Have the students take their right hand and put it in the center.  They will reach out and grab the hand of someone in their group. 
    4. Then the students take their left hand and put it in the center and grab a DIFFERENT person’s hand. 
    5. They have to untangle themselves without letting go.  
    6. They will end in a large circle. 
This game is perfect for team building.  I use this a lot if I have a class that doesn’t get off to a great start working together.  It’s like the story I heard about the lady who had two cats.  The cats hated each other and wouldn’t get along at all.  So she poured some tuna juice on their backs and locked them in the bathroom for an hour.  When she opened the doors their were curled in a ball licking the tuna juice off each other’s back.  

This game, makes the students work together and through finding a “way out” they build friendships and team work. 

Snowball Fight 
This is a perfect game to use throughout the year. 
    1. Give each student a piece of paper. 
    2. Have them write their name in the center of the paper. 
    3. The students will ball up their paper.  
    4. One your count, they will throw the paper. 
    5. Each person grabs one snowball.  Opens it up.  And writes one thing they know about the name on the paper or writes a question they would like to know about that person.  
    6. Repeat 5-10 times.  
You can use this one all year.  You can use it as a review before a test (For example - Rocks and minerals - write rock, mineral, rock cycle, etc. on the papers and toss.)  You can even do this as a review right before standardized testing.  You can do it for compliments.  I have my students write a compliment about that person.  This is great to do in the middle of the year when they are spending a little too much time together. 

I like to give each student a different color marker.  If I don’t have that many colors, I change up the writing tool.  So you may have 3 oranges, but one will be a marker, one a color pencil, and one a crayon.  This just let’s you get an assessment of what the students are sharing, and asking.  You know who is writing what but the kids don’t.  
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Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Wonderful Writing Wednesday: Tools for Writing Fiction

Writer's workshop has been my passion since I was in the 3rd grade.  I had a wonderful teacher, Mrs. Campbell, who gave us time to write and encourage us to enter our writing into challenges.  I wrote this wonderful story titled, "The Stolen Pony."  I was a fantastic mystery with 007 saving the day.  I even did the illustrations.  It was such a hit that I won a trip to a young writer's conference at Clemson University.  Since then I have been trying to reach that same success.   But, alas, writing mysteries is not my talent, but teaching writing, and making my students love writing is a talent.

I have spent the last few years fine tuning my Writer's Workshop lessons to help make writing fun, and let the words flow on the page.   I recently updated my Fiction Narrative Writer's Workshop.  I originally had designed this for multiple grades (2nd-5th).  After revisiting it this spring I was not happy with what I had provided and the order of the product.  I had originally written this while I was pregnant with my son and reading over it, it was clear I had pregnancy brain in full swing.

The current unit addresses 2nd grade standards. The 3rd - 5th grade ones will be available in the next month.  I added 10 more lessons, a student handbook that can be printed at the beginning of the unit, a fiction journal with 10 topics related to the standards taught in the unit, a grade specific unit assessment, and essential question posters.

The unit now begins with a look at types of fiction.  I then guide students through developing characters, setting, and a plot.  The next lessons guide students through describing feelings and showing what is happening.  By the time the students actually begin drafting, they have ample planning resources to help the story come alive on the page.  Mini lessons on conferencing, editing, revising are built into the drafting days to help assist the teacher in setting expectations.  Additional mini-lesson address 2nd grade Common Core language standards.

I decided to combine this writer's workshop with my 2nd grade Personal Narrative Workshop and my 2nd Grade Poetry Unit for a 4 month bundle on creative writing.

What are your newest ideas or revisions?  I'd love to find new lessons to promote learning!

Happy Wednesday,

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Assess Me Link-Up Week 1

Today I am linking up with The Tattooed Teacher for the Assess Me Link-Up.

I loved the idea of this link-up.  10 quick, easy questions about myself.  I feel many days in the world of 2 toddlers that I don't think about myself and I was super excited to be able to check "yes" on taking a shower AND drying my hair and "no" to having the TV on. 

I went to Disney as a kid and then again for New Years 2000.  Figured if Y2K was going to happen, I might as well be in a happy place.  This coming year I am taking my kids, and I am so excited to see Disney through their eyes.  I know it will be a crazy, exhausting trip, but the memories will be well worth it.  If anyone has ever gone with a 3-year-old and/or 2-year-old, please give me tips on making it easy on all of us!  

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Plan With Me Sunday - Back to School Edition

This Sunday I am linking up with Keeping Up with Mrs. Harris and Kreative in Kindergarten again for Plan With Me Sundays - Back to School Edition. This week there is a special giveaway so be sure to check it out!

Let me start this week off with a little note. My husband was in San Francisco working and we decided to bring our daughter out here for her third birthday. We have seals, and museums, and trolley rides planned. But what didn't make it in my planner was that the hotel internet wouldn't work and my daughter would be up at 4:45 because her little body thinks it's almost 8am which is well past her wake up time. 

That being said my Sunday post is starting a little later.  so without further ado, Plan with Me Sunday - Back to School Edition. 

This time of year always seems to be a whirlwind.  I used to be so good at keeping up with everything, but after two pregnancies my brain is shot and if it isn't written down, then it doesn't happen.  To start the school year, I want to be sure my that my planner is ready to go so I can keep on top of everything.  I like keeping my planner in a 3 ring binder. The pages and my writing are big enough for my aging eyes to see at a distance. Plus, I love being able to take pages out when they are accomplished. 

I think this week's post will work best as a To-Do-List (one I can put in my planner!)

1. Print all months starting with August.  In my opinion August 1st is the real New Year's Day.

2. Behind each month I add the correct number of Weekly Schedules.  I will use 2 pens to keep my worlds separate (blue for home and pink for school).
3. Behind each week, I add a sheet of paper for my grocery list.  I can't tell you the number of times I have remembered something I needed at home in the middle of a lesson. Plus there is always something I need for the classroom.

4. I print a few Daily Schedules for those days that are just too much.

5. I type all of my lesson plans on my computer, but they have to be ready in a flash.  I print these and place them behind my weekly schedule. 90% of the time, if I have written my plans out well enough, I won't have to look at them again that week. But they are there for the 10% of the time I forget something and those moments when someone walks in the room.

6. I have dividers with pockets. This way I don't lose any loose papers or that paperwork that must get back to the office, parent, ASAP!  I keep all of my faculty meeting and professional development notes in the back of my binder. That way I have all of that information to quickly reference.

7. I also design products for TPT and blog. Those sections are in the back of my binder. Many times my ideas for blog posts come as I plan or teach so I can quickly note these in my planner until I have time to write. 

I love that my planner, the Hello Planner from the 3am Teacher, allows me the ability to keep all of my worlds in one place.  What things do you add to your planners to

And now the fun part, the giveaway.  Enter below to win.

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