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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Thursday, July 23, 2015

Throwback Thursday

Today on the link-up with Freebilicious we are taking a look back at older posts.  Since I just recently started focusing on my blog I don't have that many great posts to share.  This one I liked because it's one of my favorite teaching stories.


Why I Teach

There are times (especially when I get my paycheck) that I question "Why do I teach?"  Why did I choose a job that follows me home, wakes me at night, and has me reviewing the day as I shower, dry my hair, and drive to work.

Each and every time I question my choice, I get to school and find the answer, in the "I Got It!" moments, the smiles, and my coworkers.

A few years ago in the middle of independent reading, I had one of my best moments.  It was the first week of school and I was setting up the procedure of independent reading.  When I do this I have all students reading at the same time (later in the year this changes), and as they are reading, I model by reading as well.  One student was having difficulty staying focused and kept talking to his neighbor.  I had corrected him once and on the second occurrence asked him to return to his seat.

He came up to me with something in his hand and held it out for me to take.  I hesitated, not 100% sure what was being placed in my hand, but curiosity won over and I held my hand out for the "gift."  Into my palm dropped a peppermint.  The student smiled up at me and said, "Keep up the good work, and there's more where that came from."

And that is why I teach.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Back 2 School Procedures and Policies - Do They Know What You Expect?

Today I am linking up with my fabulous friend, Erin, from Snazzy in Second.  This week we are focusing on Procedures and Policies.  I want to share with you how I practice and assess student understanding of my procedures.

What do you do the first day of school?  The second day of school?  The first two weeks of school? Teach your procedures!  Teaching your students what you expect those first few weeks will save you so much time throughout the school year.  There are many ways to get your students to understand and meet your expectations.  I am sharing 4 of my favorite strategies to get my students moving, having fun, and stepping up to my expectations.

This is one of my favorites.  Not only are you getting the chance to see if students understand what you expect, but you learn your personalities.  Who is shy, who loves the stage, and who loves to be right first.  This is a great start to your school day or wrap up activity at the end of the day.  I take each of the procedures we have learned and put them in a box, bag, or cup (basically whatever material I have handy at the time).  I will have students come up, grab a procedure, and act it out. You know students will start calling out answers and this is a great opportunity to remind them of your expectations for answering questions when you are in a whole group.  You can access my charade cards here.

Teacher Model
Modeling what you expect is a great way to teach your procedures.  But, an even better way to it to model the wrong way. Students love to catch you doing something wrong.  This gives you the chance to have a little fun with your students, and it let's them put your expectations into words.  When they catch you ask, "Oh, I did that wrong?  Well, what should I have done instead?"

Procedure Assessment
Usually around the 3rd or 4th day of school you have tons of forms, paperwork, and parent notes to sort.  On this day I will give students the procedure assessment.  You can access my assessment here. This assessment allows you a few minutes of time to sort those papers that have to get to the office, or give papers back to students that are missing information.  When the students are finished, I teach my expectations for students grading their own work.  I have all students put their pencils under their chairs and give everyone a colored pencil from my cup.  I will give every student the same color (for example, this assessment will be graded in purple).  We will review it as an entire class. Students can mark checks and xs. I typically have students write the correct answer if they missed it.  This gives them to opportunity to write and associate the correct answer.  When students are finished I have them write any questions they have or a note to themselves about their results.  (For example, "Can you help me organize my notebook the correct way?"  "Great job!  You are meeting Mrs. Zannini's expectations."  "Don't forget to copy your homework every morning.") You can access my Procedure Test here.

Procedure Trivia Game 
Again, this is another chance to teach a procedure (playing games) with reviewing procedures.  There are tons of Promethean and Smartboard trivia templates.  I usually make this game before the school year starts.  This is a great way for me to review my expectations before I have to teach them.  The trivia game allows you to see your expectations for playing games.  Since this can be an exciting time, I tell them that groups that distract from the group guessing will lose a point.  I want the students to have fun, but it is important that everyone is focused and gaining the correct information to all questions and not just the ones presented to their groups.

I hope these strategies will help you in planning how to assess your students. I am always on the look out for new exciting ways to get through those first two weeks!  What ways have you found to assess if students understand your expectations?  Now head on over to Snazzy in Second to learn more and enter the rafflecopter!


Credit: Blue Background and Test Border by Krista Wallden.  

The #1 Way to Improve Student Behavior


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!  

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Tell Us About You Tuesday

Again today I have the pleasure of linking up with the ladies from Freebielicious for Tell Us About You Tuesday.

This time of year it is hard for me to remember that I am not technically in the classroom.  Two years ago I took the leap from 15 years in the classroom to staying at home.  At the time, I was in the middle of finishing my EdS with a 10-month-old and another baby on the way.  The cost of daycare was overwhelming and I felt like no one (my husband, kids, family, and students) were getting what they needed or normally got from me.  Before kids and a dog, I was the teacher who got the first parking spot, and typically left when the parking lot was empty.

Thankfully I found Teachers Pay Teachers.  It keeps me fresh, and current, and I still get to do what I love.  I make lesson plans for students, and I teach my preschool babies.  I still stay up late at night planning and thinking about the students.  Sometimes my mind is on what I would improve if I was still in the classroom, and other nights I am thinking of how to make learning fun for an 18-month-old and an almost 3-year-old.

I hope that in the next few years I can fulfill my lifelong dream of being the "library lady."  I recently finished my EdS in School Library Media and Instructional Technology.  I hope that my next classroom will give me the opportunity to work with all students in my school.  Thank you all so much for allowing me to be a part of this teaching/learning community.  I look forward to learning all about each of you.


Monday, July 20, 2015

Must Have Monday

Today I have the pleasure of linking up with Lidia from Kinder Alphabet and Krissy from Mrs. Miner's Monkey Business for Must Have Monday!  I am going to share with you the things I have to have in order to create a successful classroom atmosphere.

1. My Sharpies - I love Sharpies.  I love the smell, the pure, deep color and the the way I feel productive at the end of the day when I still have a Sharpie stain on my fingers.   There are so many colors to fit my mood each day.  I began my teaching career before lesson plans were typed, and everyone had e-mail.  My Sharpies were and still are some of my best creation tools.

2. Sharpened Pencils - One of the best teacher gifts I ever received was a bouquet of sharpened pencils on the first day of school.  When I get in my classroom at the beginning of the year the first thing I do is sharpen my pencils.  The smell of sharpened pencils gets my brain working and I can start creating ideas.  The pencils give me freedom of mistakes and the ability to erase what I don't like.  This summer I splurged and bought a box of skinny Kate Spade pencils.  Yes, I know it was a ridiculous waste of money, but they came in a perfect storage box and I will definitely know when one of my students has "borrowed" one of my pencils.

3. Grading Pens - I love fine point pens in a multitude of colors.  I use these pens when I grade and pick the color I like best that day.  I love that these pens make it easy to write important notes and information that the students can easily find.

4. Coffee - I don't think I could teach without my morning coffee. And in the world of a mom and teacher, coffee isn't a sit down and drink at one time event.  I again got carried away and got the Kate Spade coffee mug that is covered in books.  For the girl working to get her own school library soon, it is the perfect way to start my day.  And, it keeps my coffee warm all morning!

What things must you have?  Join me tomorrow for Tell Us About You Tuesday!


Thursday, July 16, 2015

Back 2 School Week 1: 5 Tips to a Successful Classroom Set Up

The fireworks of July 4th are an alarm for many teachers that the new school year is quickly approaching.  The desire to get into your room and start working is halted by floors that still need waxing or hallways that are blocked off.  What do you do?

Here are some tips to help start classroom set up before you can get those keys and a few to help speed up the process once you can get into your room.

1. Know Your Perimeter - One of the first things I do is plan out my walls.  I take a picture or draw each wall from memory.  I will plan what will go in each spot.  If I can, I will print these out and put them in folders so all I have to do it laminate them the first chance I get.  Many times I can get to the laminator quicker than my classroom so I will laminate them, cut them out at home, and then they are all set to go on the walls.  I also like to decide on a color theme for the school year.  I will buy fabric to cover my boards.  The fabric doesn't fade throughout the school year and is easy to hang if you are working alone. When selecting your color scheme remember your boys.  Will they feel relaxed and represented too in the classroom?

Things to think about:
- Do you have all subject areas covered on the walls?
- Do you have your rules/expectations posted?
- Do you have an area for student work?
- Do you have white space so students aren't overloaded?
- Do you have a color scheme?

2. Plan Your Area - Once the walls are taken care of, I take care of the floor plan.  There are tons of great pictures of desk arrangements on Pinterest these days.  So many that I usually change up the design once a quarter. This makes readjusting seating charts easier and helps those students like me who need a little change.  But, to start the year I will pick a seating arrangement that allows for group work.  I also like to have a small bookshelf or table that will house supplies students will need each day.  I keep reference materials like dictionaries and thesaurus on the shelf.  A cup with extra pencils and erasers is there as well.  This area gives me the opportunity to set out materials before class starts for the day and helps to save time.

I also like to think of my "movers."  How can I create a positive atmosphere for those students who just can't sit still.  In the old days the teacher stayed at the front of the room, but with technologies these days I can do my teaching from all over the room. I typically place my area to work with small groups and individuals in the back of the classroom.  As a result I will place my students who spend most of the day standing in the back of the room. This way, they are always close (in whole group and when I am doing small groups) and they can stand all day without interfering with students seeing important information on the board.

You want to think about the placement of high traffic areas (trash can, pencil sharpener, turning in work places).  Do you have enough space for students to access these areas?

Having a gathering area away from desks in important.  Sometimes students need just a small relocation within the classroom to get refocused.  My whole group gathering area is a comfortable area where the entire class can gather on the floor.  This area is also a great spot to allow students to work away from their desk throughout the school day.

Things to think about:
- Where will you place your "movers?"
- How do you want your desks arranged?
- What materials will students have access too and did you plan for the high traffic in these areas?
- Where will you have a whole group gathering area?

3. Storage of Materials - This is key to keeping student desks clutter free.  On the first day of school I will spend a good portion of the day organizing student stuff.  I have students write their name on any pencils and paper, collect these place them in a cabinet.  This way students can access the materials as needed but it isn't taking up their entire desk and cubby.  I also store any textbooks that aren't used on a daily basis.  If I am going to use these, I will pass them out the day before after students have left.

Things to think about:
- Where will you put student materials (paper, pencils, hand sanitizer, tissues)?
- Where will you place textbooks?
- Where will you have colored pencils, markers, etc?
- Where will you store all of you teachers supplies?
- Are there areas where students will be able to access?

4. Learning Stations - Where will students work in learning stations or centers?  You want to strategically place each subjects station.  Will it stay in one place or is it moveable (in a tub, or crate)?  These stations should be easy to change out with new standards and topics.

Things to think about:
- Do I have a learning station for every subject?
- Are the stations in one spot in the room or can they be moved throughout the classroom?

5. Plan a Bulletin Board - Having a quick, easy bulletin board ready to go on the first day is the key to quickly posting student work.  I like to do transformations of certain picture books.  One of my favorites is My Garden by Kevin Henkes.  I will read the book on the first day and then have students write 10 things they might find in their own garden.  This will give me an idea of where students are in their writing and teach me a little about each personality.

Things to think about:
- Where will you post this bulletin board?
- What materials are required to be posted (essential questions, standards, title)?
- Can students complete the task quickly? (Remember this is designed to be something to quickly get student work posted)

Thanks so much for taking the time to read this post!  Click on over to Snazzy in Second to sign up for a chance to win $50 on TPT!

For more ideas, check out Teaching Tips and Time Savers: Procedures and Policies by Jessica Zannini and Erin Shurbutt.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Plan With Me Sundays - Downsizing

Planning, to-do lists, and organizing are all things I LOVE to do.  However, they are also the things that keep me from getting things done.  I just spent the last few days at the Teachers Pay Teachers conference and one of the biggest takeaways came from Chris Kesler of Kesler Science.  He referenced a book called The One Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan.  I couldn't resist a new read, so I downloaded it on my iBooks and started reading.  The book talks about the one thing you should put your energy into each day.  For me a stay-at-home mom who blogs and creates products for Teachers Pay Teachers I have a lot of directions to go each day.  Here is a look at my week last week.

My heart is pounding out of my check just looking at this!  I had no clear direction and the daily stress to get it done was overwhelming.  My take for now is that each day I need one focus.  Today my one thing is getting my house back in order. This may be why I am writing this sitting on the bathroom floor while one kid is going to the potty and the other one is doing the buckles on his high chair for the 4 millionth time.  Tomorrow, I have a babysitter coming in the morning and that will be my creation time.  I am not leaving to go to a coffee shop.  I am going to sit at my desk and create.  I moved my collaboration time with Snazzy in Second to a Goggle Hangout where I could meet and talk with her during nap time.  And with the screen share option on Google Hangout, I can show her everything I wanted on the computer.  This way I can focus on talking with her without feeling the stress of creating and vice versa.  Here is my plan for this week.

Yes, it isn't just one thing, but for a planner like me I am taking small steps. This one is a list that I feel I can complete!  To help keep my mom brain in order I made a Weekly List separate from the what I was doing each day so I wouldn't forget some of the little things my family needed or things for me to work on that didn't have to get done.  (Thank you DRG ceramics for my favorite mug.)

My next step for planning this week is to get a grasp on social media.  I have felt swamped with social media and the need to learn and use it all.  But guess what, I don't have to do it all.  Such a simple thought for some people but for me this was a huge ah ha moment.  I have downsized a lot of my social media.  Instagram and Facebook are easy for me.  I have created a list of hashtags in my notes section of my phone (thank you Miss Kindergarten and Apple and ABC's for that tip), and then I can just copy and paste any I need.

I have been doing the free trial of tailwind for Pinterest and made the leap to the paid version. Now, Pinterest can be a once a week thing and keep me from scrolling and making notes and then forgetting to pin in my prime hours.  Twitter has scared me for a while and it's the one I know the least about.  I want to learn more about it and Twitter is now going be my learning zone, not a focus for my week.

On my planner I noted times to check and post to FB and Instagram and days to focus on pinning and learning twitter.  Now I don't feel the need to have my phone in hand all day.

There you have it, my ways to plan less and do more.  What tips have you found to help reduce planning and time on social media?  I need to keep downsizing my daily list.

Happy Sunday! 

Friday, July 10, 2015

Back 2 School Link-Up: Come Join Us!

Time to start thinking about back to school already?!?  The Target and Walmart aisles are filling up! The site of all of those sharpened pencils and Sharpies has my brain running.  So without further ado, I'd like to introduce the Back 2 School Link-Up! 

Erin Shurbutt from Snazzy in Second and Jessica Zannini from Notes from the Portable are hosting a new link-up on Starting the School Year.  Join us in sharing ideas on successful ways to kick the year off.  There is a prize each week so check in and get ready to get back to school! 


                                July 16 - Kickoff Week - Setting Up Classrooms 
                                July 23 - Procedures and Policies 
                                July 30 - Getting to Know You Strategies and Games 
                               August 6 - Communicating with Parents 

We will have weekly give aways including TPT gift certificates!  We look forward to sharing ideas and ready about what you do in your classrooms!  If you post on social media, please use #back2school so we can easily find your posts.  

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Currently - July 2015

So I am joining up this time with Oh' Boy 4th Grade for the Currently link up.

Right now, I am in love with Milky Chance.  I have been for over a year now, but this week has been a Milky Chance sort of week.  I needed something mellow, but upbeat to help me with my preparing for Vegas nerves.    I love traveling, but the packing, making it to airport, and then through security makes me super anxious.  Plus Stolen Dance puts me and my kids in a great mood!

I am loving my summer evenings, especially the ones where I can sit outside and work, read, or just relax.  The mosquitoes hate me, but love the rest of my family so I get alone time with my pup, Haven.  

I am thinking that my plate is full.  I have taken on updating this blog, going to Vegas, updating new products, creating new products, all the while raising an 18-month-old and an almost 3-year-old.  So I am ready to start clearing the plate a bit.  

I am wanting to sleep.  I keep trying to get to bed early and then my brain starts racing.  I end up laying in bed reading my phone or watching TV and the next thing I know it's 11 o'clock.  

Yoga is what I need.  When I get back from the Vegas conference the number 1 thing on my list is going to be yoga.  It makes me calmer, stronger, and happier!  So watch out Yoga With Adrienne, I will be back to your site next week! 

And lastly, Vegas.  I am taking a huge leap for the girl who has always been the one to hold up the wall and disappear into the crowd, because I am going this one alone.  I am going to have to step out of my comfort zone and start conversations.  That is probably part of my nervousness.  Starting to blog regularly has helped to open my voice.  Especially since this blogging community has been so helpful and encouraging.  

So there you have it, my July Currently! Wishing you all a happy July and can't wait to learn about August!  

Happy Monday, 

Monday, July 6, 2015

poetry lit centers

My new adventure into poetry has been creating monthly literacy centers.  I have enjoyed the challenge of writing poems and creating engaging activities.  Each month includes 4 poems and 4 activities for each poem.  The activities allow students to conduct science experiments, write poetry, practice testing skills, respond to literature, and research important topics and standards.  The literacy center includes a choice board and an activity board. The choice board allows students to choose 2 of the activities to complete. The activity board gives students a daily assignment to complete Monday-Thursday.  I also include a suggested book and website list for research assignments.

In some months I have included an additional activity that isn't included on the choice and activity boards. For example, in the March Poetry Literacy Center I include an additional activity of growing a shamrock, recording observations, and writing a Found Poem using the students words written in the observations.  This activity requires materials to be purchased and  with time restraints and budgets this isn't always possible.  Therefore, this is added as an addition to the 4 activities for the "Shamrock" poem.

The current literacy centers cover 2nd-3rd grade standards.  The 4th-5th grade will be available soon.  Look for new centers to be posted at the beginning of each month.

You can also find each month individually at my store: 

Happy Monday! 

#notesfromtheportable, #jessicazannini #literacycenters 

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Plan With Me Sundays

About a week ago we were heading home from the beach and I felt stressed.  I needed organization and I needed it quickly.  Luckily, I came across a blog post titled Plan With Me Sundays by Keeping Up With Mrs. Harris.  She and Kreative in Kindergarten had started a link up about planning and it was the perfect thing for me.  After reading the first post in the link from Keeping Up With Mrs. Harris, I came home and bought the Hello Teacher Planner from the 3am Teacher.  What a life saver! Now instead of notebooks, post-it notes, and piles; I have everything in one spot.  I even have all of my Teachers Pay Teachers Vegas conference notes printed and in the notebook!

I then got my office organized and set up in a way that I could see the house, see outside, and enjoy my new blue walls with white trim.  I even managed to set up a space for Gabriella to "do her work." We even took the time to place her notebook and pens where her little brother couldn't reach them.

Everything I couldn't put in my notebook or I had on the multitude of post-it notes (which would mysteriously disappear) are now on a spreadsheet in my google drive.  No more disappearing.  Plus, I get satisfaction out of deleting something I have accomplished and having more white space on the screen.  Thursday night the list of things on the left was all the way down to 32!  Ecstatic that the list is up to where I can see it all at once!

Two years ago I took the leap from teaching for 15 years to being a stay-at-home mom.  I have had the hardest time going from knowing that I ate lunch at 11:52 to figuring out how to fit it in between the laundry, kid lunches, and the numerous things that just don't happen at home.

When I made this leap I had a 10-month-old and another one quickly on his way.  I have also tried to keep up my teachers pay teachers store, my blog, run a house, clean a house, keep a blog, and finish my EdS in School Library Media and Instructional Technology.

The degree is now done and I am finding my way through the laundry and dishes back to my blog and store.  Thankfully Plan With Me Sundays have given me the opportunity to make time to focus on organizing the Zannini household, my blog, and my store.  I want a give a special thank you to all of your who have shared your planning ideas and allowed me to find my way back to this lovely space!

This week I head to Vegas for the TPT conference and my plan for next Sunday is to organize a way to maintain my social media.

Happy Sunday! 

Saturday, July 4, 2015

The Monthly Top Ten – Favorite TV Shows

I just joined a new monthly linky top ten party with The Third Grade Nest.  
I thought this would be easy but try as I might, I could only come up with 9 shows.

Oh TV! In the last few years my TV viewing has taken a backseat to the rest of the house. ESPN, Disney Junior, and Nick Jr. have taken over and my TV watching is limited. 

I used to love shows like CSI and Law and Order but alas they became too easy.  Now, I only have to watch the first 5 minutes, figure out the character that was introduced and had no importance in the beginning and BINGO that’s your killer.  So, it lost it’s fun. 

TV is now my background noise.  The thing I can watch with a computer in my lap, going around picking up stuff, doing dishes, folding laundry, and blogging.  The only show I put things down to watch these days is So You Think You Can Dance, because, wow, those people are amazing and I can’t look away!

And, yes, I know I aged myself with my reruns.  I still love my Friends and Will and Grace.  I know the lines before they say them, but sometimes I just need some of my old friends to visit.  The ones I had to block time out for since there were no DVRs.  They were the characters that I ran home or rearranged my schedule to spend time with.  They remind me of my younger years, of the breakups and hardships, of the joys, and also of why I am the luckiest girl in the world to have my husband, kids, pup, and family. 

Lastly, Netflix…  The only reason I watch anything new is that I can take Netflix on the go.  Plus they have some really interesting characters that I can’t get enough of.  I can watch 5 minutes here and there and even tune in while the rest of the family dominates the real TV.

So there you have it!  My top 10, well 9, TV shows.  I am always open to new shows.  I’d love to know of anything new that you can’t stop watching. Please share your favorite shows, especially if there are on Netflix!

Friday, July 3, 2015

Clip Art Thank You!

I also wanted to thank Educlips for the fabulous graphics used in my header!  I love her work and use it in many of my new products.  Check out her store and blog!  Plus I love that she is a Charleston girl like I was at one time in my life.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Things I Love Thursdays

I love fresh cut green grass.  I love the way it feels like carpet, especially in the evenings.  When I was a kid my dad always came home, fixed a drink, and walked his yard.  I finally understand why. We have spent two years working on our yard.  All that hard work needs to be appreciated.  In the evenings I walk the yard in my bare feet. I want to feel the perfect grass, with the perfect green.  My kids walk the yard with me and my 2-year-old knows the name of every plant we've put in the yard from roses to rosemary.

My little leprechaun walking the yard two years ago. 

And my new updates.  This is the grass I love.