Sunday, September 30, 2012

Celebrating Literacy Giveaway!

Have you all seen this giveaway? I hadn't stumbled across this blog yet, but I'm so glad I did!

These giveaways are grade-level specific from kindergarten to high school, so there's something for everyone. Plus you can enter for multiple. Go check it out!

Oh, and don't forget to go to TpT today. Many stores, including mine are having a 20% off sale on everything in their store, but most end today!

Saturday, September 29, 2012

It's Saturday and another sale!

Tomorrow is the end of September (can you believe it?), so I decided to join a few other bloggers and throw another sale!

You could pick up my Pumpkin Writing Craftivity if you haven't already. It's so cute and perfect for Halloween coming up. Don't forget I also have 2 boggle boards that are great for word work, and I also added two new graphic organizers that are regularly priced at $1!

And I haven't already mentioned my newest item. I finally finished my Bat Research Unit! I'm so proud of it! There's even a Venn Diagram shaped like a bat. :-)

I'm off to school. Did I mention I'm coaching Color Guard for our high school? Well we have 5 band competitions this fall (AHHH!!), so I'm off for day 2. Hopefully it won't rain because that will be completely miserable.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Have you seen this pencil sharpener?

I'm sure most of you have. The awesome little manual pencil sharpener created by a teacher? I actually got mine at the end of the school year, and it was like Christmas! The only bummer is that it was literally the last day of school, so I had to wait 3 months to get to really play with it and try it out.

We finally got back to school after Labor Day, and I started showing it off to my teacher friends. My para had MAJOR doubts ("I have to actually crank it?"), but after a few trials, she was converted quickly.

This was the first week with students (remember, I'm a reading specialist - don't hate me!), and my 5th graders have really learned how to use it. They think it's awesome, and I think they might break pencils on purpose just to use it.

 How does it work? Well, you have to put it together first when you get it. There's only 3 or 4 parts, and it comes with directions (at least online, I honestly don't remember if they had them in the package). Then when you're ready to sharpen, you pull out the metal part (see below), and pinch the black thingies to stick in your pencil for a perfect fit. Once the pencil is in, let go and it holds your pencil in place.
This is important because you will need both hands to sharpen. One needs to hold the sharpener in place, and the other to crank.
SIDE NOTE: I couldn't get it to sharpen one day, then I realized I was cranking it the wrong way. If it feels really lose, try the opposite direction. You have to crank toward you.

Once the cranking gets really easy, pinch the black thingies to pull out your pencil. Here's my favorite part, they are perfectly sharp! Look at these pencils below!

The whole sharpening process is very quick, even if the pencil is brand new, so you don't have to worry about your arm getting tired. And it really is very quiet. Not silent, but it's WAY quieter than an electric sharpener or the old fashioned manual ones. Plus it's so cute! They now come in green, blue, and red. You can order one or even put in a school order for a VERY reasonable price. I love my sharpener!

WARNING: I just went to the website to link up, and they are unfortunately sold out right now. However, I will continue checking and post again when they restock. I promise it's worth the wait to get one of these!

Happy Friday!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Happy Fall Sale (a little late), college football, and a giveaway

Sorry I've been a little MIA this week. I don't know what happened. We went on vacation to the beach the past two weekends, but we were baby free all week (Keagan stayed at the beach with his grandparents). I had all kinds of plans to be productive, but it just didn't happen. Anyway, Casey from Second Grade Math Maniac is hosting a fall TpT sale, and I wanted to join in! Click on the link to her blog to see a complete list of people participating.

Unfortunately, I've already missed half of it. To make up for it, I've set up my store sale to end TOMORROW at midnight. So you still get 2 days to shop my store before the sale ends!

Along with my pumpkin writing craftivity, which I'm SUPER excited about using, I also have two brand new Boggle boards that are $.80 this week! One of them I made especially for my UGA friends (I went to HS/college in GA and have a lot of DAWG fans, although I'm not one of them). There's red and white polka-dot and also a green and white wavy set. Go check it out!

Oh, and just for the fun of it (and in honor of college football), I made these cute little signs for UGA and also Virginia Tech (the colors were just right and I have good friends that like both schools). They have nothing to do with teaching, but I wanted to have fun making stuff. Click on the pictures below to download and enjoy!

One more thing! Heather's Heart is having a fantastic giveaway right now that you REALLY should go check out!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Manic Monday freebie

Classroom Freebies Manic Monday
I'm so excited to link up for my first Manic Monday! I haven't created any new freebies since the Dolch site words, but there are a few that I made this summer and thought were worth sharing since I switched over to this blog.
I teach in Virginia, which is one of the few states that chose to NOT participate in the Common Core Standards. This means that I don't get to share in all the great resources that have been posted all over TpT. My school is also fully implementing CAFE and Daily 5 this year, and since I'm the reading specialist for grades 3-5, I wanted to create a resource that would help my teachers match our state standards (the SOLs) to each CAFE strategy. 

Friday, September 14, 2012

Pumpkin writing craftivity

I'm SO excited about my newest product on TpT! This has been a plan I've been thinking about and wanting to create since the summer, and it's finally here.

Ever since I started teaching 4th grade, I have always done this writing activity with them for Halloween, and it's so much fun every year! Students pretend to be pumpkins in my pumpkin patch, and I am searching for a pumpkin to make my jack-o-lantern. They have to convince me why I should NOT choose them. I have to remind them to not write anything that they wouldn't want the principal to read, but they are usually pretty good about it. I've gotten the entire spectrum from just completely disgusting (one was a poopy baby pumpkin) to stalker-creepy.

After they finish writing, I make a big deal out of reading each one (without sharing names). Then I let the students help me choose the best - as in the ones we would be LEAST likely to pick. I narrow it down to the number one choice, and then I would always publish that one in the class newsletter on the week of Halloween. The kids loved it!

In the past, I've just given students a pumpkin shape and had them color it completely on their own, but I wanted to jazz it up. So I created this activity! The craft includes three sets of eyes and mouths for students to choose from and paste onto their pumpkin shape. Then there is a separate page for their writing. It's kind of similar to my Turtle Writing Craftivity I created for the beginning of the school year. Btw, I need to post pictures of that!

Please check it out by clicking on the picture below! And if you'd like to pin it, I'm not stopping you. Just sayin'.

I'm having to schedule this post because tonight is our first home football game, and I'm coaching the color guard at the high school. Silly me. Like I needed to add one more thing to my plate. I won't be posting on here over the weekend because we're going to be enjoying the beach, so have a relaxing weekend!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Tell me something good linky

I'm back! This week has been crazy. Tuesday night was Back to School Night, so I was at school until 8:00. Then during school I have begun giving running records to any students who failed the SOLs (Standards of Learning) or were below grade level on their word lists. I've given the first running record to all of 3rd and 4th grade, and today I need to start 5th. Then I have to go back and retest the students who were at frustrational. Thank God that Fountas & Pinnell assessments are pretty short!

So far, I've identified 9 kids in 3rd grade and way too many in 4th. This stresses me out because my numbers should get smaller as the kids get older. Right now, my 4th grade list could easily be 14 kids...craziness!! Oh, and did I mention their levels range from G to Q (Q's failed the SOLs, so I have to pull them until they show improvement)? Today the focus is on 5th grade.

Okay, enough focus on the stresses. I think it's perfect timing for this linky party that Jennifer from Rowdy in First Grade is hosting.

My Something Good From School: 
I have almost finished giving at least one running record to all of my "at-risk" kids! Now I'm just going back and giving another one to students who were at a frustrational level. One of the reasons this has gone so smoothly is because my wonderful parapro has been helping me. I trained her on giving running records (and taking lots of notes), and she's pulling half of the kids. Then all I have to do is grade it!

Also, we have started fully implementing Daily 5 and CAFE, and from walking around the school, I have seen a lot of great instruction and practicing!

My Something Good From Home:  
My sweet little boy, Keagan, can now sit himself up, pull up, and get around very well. He's still not officially crawling, but he sometimes army crawls. His preferred method is still the rolling pin, but I think he will be crawling any day now! Oh, and we lowered his bed this week to stay safe!

Another big plus is that we get to go to the beach this weekend! It's going to be a little cooler, but it will be nice to get away and relax for a little while.

Go link up!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Reading levels and funny kindergarteners

Word lists are complete! Well, I have to get a few kids who were absent, but that's it. Today I actually started giving a few running records to the kids who scared me the most (4th grader on an H and two 5th graders on L). The fourth grader was still at frustrational level there. People, that's end of 1st grade! How did she get this far with being retained or labeled?! I'm really concerned...

Oh, and did I mention she's not the worst case I found? The others are at least labeled special ed, though. This girl has NOTHING but Title I.

Okay, before I explode, let me share my funny story. Since I don't have a home base, I've been doing bus arrival and dismissal. After teaching 4th grade so long, I forgot how little kindergarteners know, especially at the beginning of the year. We have to do a TON of herding!

Well, my classroom is also tucked away beside kindergarten and 1st grade. Today I was making copies and heard a line of little ones behind me acting crazy, hitting each other with lunchboxes, yelling, etc. My first thought was, "Where is their teacher?", but I assumed they were following up the end of the line. The kids went on in the room, no teacher. Then a few seconds later, one kindergarten teacher comes flying around the corner like a tornado! Apparently the kids lined themselves up and walked back to class ENTIRELY on their own with nobody stopping them. When said teacher arrived ON TIME to pick them up, her table was empty! Needless to say, they got in a lot of trouble and had to march back to the cafeteria to practice waiting on their teacher.

It's funny because it wasn't me. Although I would have laughed. Eventually. After I finished having my heart attack.

I'm so glad I don't teach kindergarten. I thank God every day that so many of you love it! I'll take them after they've been house broken.

Reminds me of Recess: School's Out where they refer to the kindergarteners as the "savages". Does anybody else remember that? It's my favorite description for them. If I ever taught kindergarten (and I don't plan on it any time soon), I would totally do a jungle theme for it (and I'd call them my savages if it wouldn't be frowned upon)!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

I'm on Facebook!

I'm moving on up in the technology arena and decided to start a Facebook page for my blog! Click on the banner to the right to like my page. Then go follow my Pinterest boards! There are a TON of them, and I spent a lot of time this summer reorganizing them so they were more user friendly!

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Classroom pics

Alright, I feel like my classroom is finally getting to a point where I'm really excited about it! If you're following me over from The Dalton Gang, you may remember my last classroom pics from about a month ago here. I was waiting on a rug that I got last weekend and added to the decor. Then I also made a few other changes. This doesn't quite show everything, but I wanted to share anyway. I'm so proud of how it looks so far! Sorry some of the pictures are poor quality. The lighting in our building is kind of pitiful.

 My rug (Walmart) and CAFE board (Ladybug's Teacher Files). I want to add some of those adorable poms that Schoolgirl Style has, but I haven't made them yet. I had to wait for the fire marshal to come through first.

My door isn't finished, but I needed something there. The letters were free on TpT. Sorry I don't remember where exactly, but I'll search for them again and post. Any ideas for what to put on the right side? I wanted something related to reading. Someone recommended an acrostic with the letters, also. I'm open to any and all suggestions.

This board came from an idea I found on Pinterest from Miss Kindergarten here:
I kept planning on getting the ribbon, modge podge, and scrapbook paper, but it didn't happen. Then I realized I had a small corkboard to do something with, so I figured it would be easier to just use it. Now I have enough space to show where myself AND my parapro are. This was at the end of the day Friday. I snapped the pictures as I was walking out of the building.

Alright, I have a niece ready to see me, so I need to get Keagan and myself ready for the day! Have a great weekend!

Friday, September 7, 2012

Word Wall freebie

The past few days have been more word lists (I'm pulling every student in grades 3-5, although I have a WONDERFUL math remediation teacher who offered to help me). I did, however, also make new word wall words since I need them to be much smaller to fit on my white board. I used the Dolch word list and color coded them based on what grade in which they should be learned. If you would like them, I'm offering them for FREE on TpT. Click on the picture below to download. Have a happy Friday!!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Word lists

I mentioned yesterday that our school has begun using Fountas and Pinnell for our running records this year. In the past, many teachers just knew if their kids were high, medium, or low, but most of us didn't actually know what level our kids should be reading books from. Yes, I said "we". Guilty. :::lowers head in shame:::

I knew about running records and the importance of them, but I never considered the importance of knowing each child's level. Thank God that our other reading specialist is AMAZING and helped push for this to be implemented! And also thank God for my master's program that taught me the importance of this and the best way to go about it.

So we ended the school year by giving all students running records. Each grade level used the level that students should be at for the end of the year. For instance, all fourth graders were given a level R. The only problem is that if students were higher or lower, we didn't know how much higher or lower.

In my program, we talked about using word lists to help decide where to start when giving running records. Most of these assessment kits come with word lists and give instruction as to what running record to start with. So starting today, I began pulling all of the students (grades 3-5) to give them a word list and see what level we should begin on. I started with 4th since I know all of the teachers so well (I love my former teammates!) and we had already talked about using the word lists.

The only thing to be aware of when giving word lists is that this is not necessarily the level they will be reading at independently. Many students can "call" words but have NO IDEA what they are reading. If they read it fluently but don't have comprehension, they need to go back a level. It does students no good to be placed in a level where they have no understanding.

I have more word lists tomorrow, and I start training teachers on administering the running records. Should be a busy, but fun day!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

First day, hooray!

Today was the first day of school, and it was SO different from the past 6 years. I mean, I knew coming in it would be different, but still.

First off, I slept through the night without any trouble. That NEVER happens the night before school starts because I'm always thinking about what students I will have and if they'll like me and what kind of craziness will happen. You know, the usual, right? Surely every other teacher goes through that antzy sleeplessness the night before.

Anyway, since I won't actually have my own kids to pull out for another two weeks and couldn't push in yet while teachers are getting to know their own kids, my only responsibility was bus tagging and dismissal. That's it! Crazy, huh? I kept feeling like a total slacker, but what can I do?

Don't worry, I tried to be productive and helpful. I introduced myself to the classes with students I would most be working with and gave some teachers their much needed bathroom break.

Then I worked on finding the rest of the books on my inventory and typing in ALL of their levels. Our school is switching to the Fountas and Pinnell assessments, so I want to make sure the books all have labels so teachers can easily pull books that fit their students.

I'll leave you with two questions:  What reading assessments do your schools use? And if you don't have a homeroom class, what do you do on the first days of school?

Monday, September 3, 2012

Currently September

Time for one of my favorite linkies - Farley's September Currently! I'm so excited to introduce this on my brand new blog - and I know it's two posts in one day, but I had to!

Tomorrow's going to be so different though. I'm used to going non-stop on the first day and coming home completely wiped out, but now that I've changed positions, I won't have ANY students at all on the first day. I have bus duty (and it's supposed to rain, so I'll probably sport my rain boots which I LOVE) before and after school for the first week to get the kids used to finding their buses, but other than that, I have NO responsibility! SO weird. I guess I can go from class to class offering to watch the kids for a minute while teachers get their much needed potty breaks. I don't know how it goes at your schools, but on the first day teachers eat with their kids AND there's no resource. So the only break teachers get from their kids is when they're pulled for health screenings for about 15 minutes. 

Has anybody else heard this album?
My Head Is an Animal
 I fell in love with Little Talks, but they had the whole album on sale at Amazon's MP3 store, so I bought it. Love it!

Alright, it's about time to watch some football!! We live in Virginia, but my family is from Georgia and my brother goes to Georgia Tech. Tonight they play VT, so it's going to be a big game! I wish I could've gone, but the game doesn't start until 8 tonight, and Blacksburg is about 4 hours away. I LOVE college football!


I hope everyone's had a wonderful Labor Day, and if tomorrow's your first day back, good luck! 

Oh, and go link up!

I have a new blog!

Welcome friends and new followers (potentially)!

I've been blogging over at The Dalton Gang for a little over a year now, but I decided it was time to separate my personal blog from all of my teacher-y things. I want this blog to be a resource for teaching reading as I begin my new position as reading specialist for grades 3-5. If you would like to learn about what's going on in my life (and see cute pics of my adorable little boy), I will still be updating my original blog and welcome you to follow it as well!

I got the name "Don't Let the Teacher Stay Up Late" because I am a little obsessed with Mo Willems and all of his amazing books, especially the pigeon. And, like many other teacher bloggers, I tend to sometimes stay up a little later than I should and then wake up feeling grumpy the next morning. I am NOT a morning person, but when you teach 30 minutes away from home, you HAVE to wake up early during the school years. Plus, with an 8 month old, I'm up earlier even during summer and weekends.

I digress. If you have any questions or topics you have questions about (mostly related to reading, please, although I'm willing to take a shot at other things), let me know! I want this blog to help us all become better teachers of reading!