Tuesday, April 17, 2012

FCAT Day #2 and a blogging challenge

Today was a pretty good day considering we are still having a crazy schedule! Kids are resilient though and they learned a lot today. This is what I made for my 4th grade buddies today bookmarks and treats: 

 The cards attached to the fruit loops are from:  The Polka Dotted Teacher's blog

In an effort to try and be a better blogger...I'm going to try this blogger challenge from The Organized Classroom Blog.

Rules to the challenge....step 1 reading them and making a plan!! (My writing is in the blue underneath.)

Here's how the Challenge will work:

See if your blog qualifies to be a 5-Star Blog by reading the challenges below.  If not, make it a mission to change your next few posts so that you do qualify.  When you have met all 5 criteria, come on back and grab the badge above for your blog's sidebar to display proudly!  I am so excited to see how many 5-Star Blogs we can pull together in one linky (and mainly that I can then add to my blog-stalking blogroll).  :)  Good Luck and I hope to see you on the other side!

  • CHALLENGE ONE: I have contact information listed on my blog somewhere.  While I understand many bloggers need to remain anonymous for various reasons, you can create a free new email address which can match your blog name in minutes.  Hit up any gmail-type email provider and register your new email.

Why is this important? What if you have a company that wants you to do a review of a product that they will give you to try for free with your students?  Maybe a shy reader of our blog doesn't want his or her question about your last blog posted out in the public for everyone to see?  Perhaps some other bloggers want to team up with you to do a special event?  I have found that most email I get is helpful, non-spammy, and true.  Take the chance and you might find you connect even better with your readers.

Oooh check! I have this one down! I think this is important because sometimes I can't find bloggers e-mail addresses! 

  • CHALLENGE TWO:  No Pass the Award/Tag posts from you in the last 5 posts on your blog.  You know the one when you receive it, then have to tell 50 things about your last dental visit, and pass it on to 125 other bloggers with red hair?

Why is this important? While receiving a nice little award from a fellow blogger is lovely, these tagging awards are getting a bit out of control.  When a teacher opens up her RSS reader and every other post she reads is about an award someone received, the novelty wears off very quickly for the non-bloggers.  While it is fun to read about the bloggers we admire on a personal level on occasion, we really would prefer to read about a great new teaching strategy or grab a freebie instead.

 Whoops I just had the tag post 3 posts ago on April 4th. I just feel bad when someone tags me more than once I feel the need to do it...guess I need to stop the cycle! So I need to post a few more really good posts before I can reach this challenge. 

  • CHALLENGE THREE:  Not featuring anyone or anything but yourself and your own ideas on your own blog in the last 3 blog posts.

Why is this important? When I come to your blog, I want to see and hear some amazing teaching ideas, not just have it be a spotlight on someone else I should go to, or your favorite pins on Pinterest.  If readers continually see posts about others and just links to websites or pins,  most will just stop coming to your blog and start following the blogs that have actual content.  (Guest spots are different if they actually contain content - see Challenge Four below).

This will be hard for me...I love posting about my Pinterest ideas but I guess that I should feature my own ideas more. I just get so many ideas that way and feel the need to give credit where credit is due. But I have lots of great ideas of my own I will share so I can meet this challenge too! 

  • CHALLENGE FOUR:  No self-promoting new products with no content in the last 4 blog posts.

Why is this important? Most teachers I know do not want to walk into a virtual store every time they go to read a blog.  Occasional mentions of a new product or an upcoming sale are fine, but not regularly.  And when you do post about those things, please write more than 3 sentences.  Actually include some great information about your new item like how it could be combined with another subject and give an example or pictures of the students actually using the item.  As a fellow teacher-seller, I encourage teachers who sell to a T.  But give the readers a reason to want to know about it.  Products and sales should be used sparingly.

This one is easy for me! I haven't posted any new products in awhile and I'm so busy right now I don't think I'll have time to create anything to promote. Soo check this one is done too! :) 

  • CHALLENGE FIVE:  I will write a new blog post that gives a great teaching idea that I want to share with teachers everywhere.  I will link up that blog post below making sure to include a backlink in my post to this blog post (a bonus etiquette point).

Why this is important? Much like reflecting on teaching best practices, taking a few moments to write a blog post that meets 5-star standards is great practice in action.

I'll be thinking about this one a lot. I have a few posts in mind. 

I'm going to try to do this challenge in the month of April! This is a lofty goal since I'll be out of town for weddings every weekend in April! I want to be a better blogger for all my fellow readers! Wanna join me in this challenge go to The Organized Classroom Blog! 

Monday, April 16, 2012

FCAT Day #1

This week is FCAT week which is our Florida state test for grades 3-12. If affects everyone though because our schedules change and we can't go out for recess until we get the all clear that everyone is done testing. So we now have specials (art, music, P.E., computers) in the morning from 9:55-10:35 and then lunch is regular at 11:00-11:25 but it makes for a very long afternoon from 11:25-3:00 in my room with my students. Since our schedule is all flip flopped though we had math in the morning, then writing, reading, literacy centers, and science during our long afternoon. It was very nice to have the students so alert during math in the morning though because we're doing the 2 digit subtraction and started borrowing today! I can't wait for Common Core because this will no longer be a standard for first grade! Yeah! More to come on Common Core...I have so many posts I want to write yet such little time. Back to the FCAT we have 4th grade reading buddies so this week to encourage them we have different little treats for each day! I found these adorable encouraging cards on Pinterest from The Polka Dotted Teacher's blog. They are so cute and the 4th graders LOVED their lucky charms this morning. I have a treat planned for each day that I will try to post this week. What are some ways you encourage your students when they are taking high stakes tests?

On another note I just finished an awesome book The Reliable Wife and I would highly recommend reading it! I caught the reading bug and instantly downloaded the book Defending Jacob to my Kindle. Then on the way home from the gym I started thinking about starting a book club this summer where we teachers read a book blog about it and switching the books from fun novels to professional reading for every other book. Let me know if you would be in on this....or if you know of a blog already doing this! Happy Monday! 37 days until summer!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Easter Eggs

Hope you had a wonderful Monday. Mine started out with a training. I have a busy week full of gator/habitats activities! First grade is going to Gatorland on Friday for our big field trip of the year! My students and chaperones (all 9 of them...there was no limit this time) are geared up and ready to go. It will be fun for all!

I just wanted to post quickly about some beautiful Easter writing I did last week with my kiddos. They each wrote about how they celebrate Easter with their families. Then they cut eggs out of large white paper and painted their own designs with watercolors. I think they came out beautiful and each on is unique in size, shape, color, and design just like the little ones that painted them.

We had a great Friday on Good Friday even though some of our classmates were not there. We took our morning serious and took 3 tests...yes I know it sounds awful but we always have a spelling and reading comprehension test on Friday and it just so happened our math test fell on that day too. Don't worry they all did fabulous on their tests! I had time to grade them because we watch Peter Cottontail. We also had a super fun egg hunt set up by my wonderful parents on the playground.

Easter weekend really couldn't have been any nicer. The weather was perfect and we spent time with friends that are like family to us hanging out by the pool and lake watching the Master's and grilling out. Our Easter service was inspirational and I even got a book about renewing my faith. I hope your Easter was just as blessed as mine.

*Also can anyone tell me why blogger wants me to upgrade to a new look and what it's all about? Thanks in advance!*

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Tag I'm It!

Here Are The rules:

* Post these rules* Answer the 10 questions that the tagger posted for you* Create 10 questions of your own to ask the people that you're about to tag* Tag 10 people and link them with your post (and let them know they've been tagged!)

Questions from Kelly @ Buggy for Second Grade

1. If you could travel to any place where would you go? I have a long list of places I want to travel and really want to go to the Greek Island so bad! I was thinking about going for my honeymoon but :( it's not a great time to travel their because of the economy and it is dangerous. So we will be going to Napa :). 

2. What current fashion trend are you loving right now? Brightly colored pants for Spring! I love bright colors!

3. What current education trend are you currently loving right now? I have to admit I'm a slave to Pinterest and get soo many ideas off there right now! 

4. What is your go to food or snack? Chocolate...soo bad I know! 

5. Are you a flats or heels girl? Flats by day and heels by night! My finance is 6'5'' so I have to get some height from heels! 

6. If you could change anything about yourself what would you change? Hmm I would like to say nothing but I wish I was a little bit taller. 

7. What is your favorite sport to watch or play? I love to watch football and golf. I like to play tennis. 

8. What are you looking forward to doing this summer? Relaxing, soaking in the sun, and wedding planning. 

9. What is your favorite piece of technology? My iPhone for personal use and SmartBoards for classroom use. 

10. What is the best movie you have seen recentlyThe Hunger Games-I love Katniss and Peeta! 

Now you're it! 

1. Kristen @ A Teeny Tiny Teacher
2. Jill @ Marvelous Multiagers
3. Ashely @ Me and Marie
4. Cathy @ Mrs. I's Class
5. Reagan @ Tunstall's Teaching
6. Pam @ Can Do Kinders
7. Deedee @ Mrs. Wills Kindergarten
8. Erin @ Creating & Teaching
9. April @ Wolfelicous 
10. Amber @ Adventures of Third Grade Teacher


1. If you could live in any other country what would it be? 

2. If you could have any animal what would it be? 

3. What is your favorite thing to do on the weekend? 

4. What's your favorite day of the week and why?

5. What is your favorite activity you've done with your students this year? 

6. How many days do you have until summer? 

7. What are you doing for Easter this weekend? 

8. What is your favorite song right now? 

9. What is your favorite nail polish color? 

10. What is your favorite font to use? 

** Also just found this super cool website that correlates state standards with common core standards in math. When you  click on the grade level, it gives you the standards and gives you on-line practice problems specifically for those standards. It also includes all states so check it out: 

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Back from Spring Break Blues

I thought I would post over Spring Break but my Internet was down while I was home and then I went out of town. I also thought I might create some more of Spring Break but my computer is having sadly having issues and working slowly (it's 5 years old) so I did not. I actually did not do any work of Spring Break which was great because I'm usually very consumed in school. I had a multitude of doctors appointments which went into this week :( sadly my eye has an cyst of some sort and is infected. It was mostly a relaxing and wonderful week seeing my family and friends though.

I watched The Hunger Games which was amazing except for a few parts that they changed which they didn't have to but did anyways. What did y'all think about the movie love it/hate it? I enjoyed it even though the book is ALWAYS better!

My kids have been such great little students this week! They were pumped to be back at school and listened to everything I said. Spring Break did a lot for them in the way of relaxing and getting back on track which is great for me. I really hope I'm note jinxing myself by saying all this about them! They did an awesome job with our fire drill this morning. It went off 3 times! The first time was planned and we exited the building but the 2nd and 3rd time were not and each time my kids quietly stopped what they were doing and hopped into line ready to go. Thankfully we did not have to go out the 2nd or 3rd time it was just a mishap with the fire alarm. It was quiet the interruption to our day this morning since it was during literacy centers. Unfortunately I didn't get to two reading groups...my kids were sad they didn't get to come today but they are my above grade level and way above grade level readings groups so I think they'll be okay without one day of reading group. Then I interrupted their day even more by having to leave them half way through the day for another doctors appointment. I really wish doctors/dentist offices would be a little more understanding of teachers time. We can't just take an hour break or go on our lunch time....we have to take a full day or half a day which is hard on the kids and more work for us teachers. (Sorry for the rant! I love doctors- my best friend is one! It just stinks when they are not flexible at all with days and times!)

This week we are working on categorizing and classifying in reading. I'll have to show you the anchor chart we made today and their charts tomorrow. They came out so cute! I don't feel like I have that much else to do other than make charts/foldables with categorizing and classifying though...does anyone have book recommendations/activities?

Hope you are having a lovely spring day!