Arizona SWAG bag Giveaway!

Have you noticed a lot of blogger meet ups lately?
The first thing I learned about blogging was that the blogger community was 
Especially the teacher bloggers.  Once you start finding bloggers that live near you, it's all over with, you have to meet up in person!

We have a super group of bloggers in Arizona and we just had our first #azbrunchandbubbly hosted by Ashley Ellsworth from The Creative Classroom.   First of all, I got to meet some bloggers that I have been in awe of since I started this adventure (yes, a little star struck here!) and made new connections with bloggers from all over our state.

Second, I won a prize!  One of our sponsors was Grandma Annie's Shop on Etsy. I won one of her cute (and so practical) aprons.  Now I won't be searching for my markers/scissors/keys/highlighters at the beginning of the year.  I love the clear pockets in the front too because they are great for flash cards! 

Third.....we ate yummy food!  Yes, food is a must at a successful blogger meet up!

I don't know about you but when I read about a fun blogger meet up I'm really just feeling jealous that I didn't get to go and I didn't get to take home an awesome SWAG bag. 

Want one?  We are giving away 3 cool bags of swag to 3 lucky winners.  Now you can feel like you were right there with us (minus the food) with your take home bag of goodies from these sponsors: 

Image result for go noodle

To enter there are a ton of great Arizona bloggers here to me, I follow all of them! 

Teaching with Intention: Chapter 4

Creating Classroom Cultures That Support and Promote Student Thinking

"But when we believe we can write a poem at any moment and act on that belief, isn't it amazing how we can inspire can-do spirit in the classroom we teach?"

There is more to teaching than just sitting up at the front of a room and going through a teacher's edition of a text book.  (Shocking I know!)  Until you are able to have a CAN DO attitude yourself you can't share that with your students.  I cringe when I hear teachers say, "I'm not good at this...or that (usually math)" because I know that that attitude can creep into their everyday teaching.  It's catching! 

Now I'm not here to tell you that I'm perfect and I already do all the things that Debbie talks about in this chapter, but I did reflect on my classroom culture and some of the things we already do and some of the things I can work on. 

What are my concerns?  Even though we have started putting our thinking on display I think we could use some work in these areas: 
  • putting our thinking on display (we need MORE of this!)
  • the intentional use of language
  • making thinking VISIBLE, PUBLIC, and PERMANENT.  
I really want to work on the visible, public and permanent part.  I am the teacher that is guilty of starting out with that awesome KWL chart that never gets to the "L" part (What we know, what we want to learn, what we learned).  So reflection at the end of a unit is important, and having that learning on display is really important. 

Another concern?  My own reflection.  I love, Love, LOVE that Debbie keeps a journal and jots things down in the middle of a lesson!  Can you imagine if your teacher stopped and said, "Wait, I want to write down what you just said..."  How empowering for a 5 year old to have a grown up write down their thinking in their own notebook.  I have a journal that will work perfectly back in my classroom but I grabbed this one at the Dollar Tree just in case.  It doesn't have to be fancy, just comfortable enough to stick with you all day long! 

I also loved that Debbie discussed the intentional use of language.  I read Choice Words: How Our Language Affects Children's Learning by Peter Johnston about 7 years ago.  It was such a powerful book!  I've tried to get it on our professional development schedule many many times and it never seems to happen.  I strongly encourage you (seriously, go buy it now!) to read this book before the summer is over. Click on the picture for a link to buy it!
Thanks so much for taking the time to stop by today!  I am a few days late on this chapter reflection but I felt strongly about the ideas that Debbie shared so I couldn't skip it!

Don't forget to link up with the chapter hosts Schroeder Shenanigans in 2nd and Positively Learning.  

Monday Made It June 22: Let's talk about SPRAY PAINT!

Monday Made It time!
Notice how we are only excited about Mondays in the summer? 
Yeah, me too. 

I headed to the store to get my spray paint for my project today.  My #littlelittle informed me that you have to be 18 to buy spray paint......
Um, and? 
I think it's to the point now that they are going to start carding teachers to buy spray paint because of all the awesome projects we have going on this summer.  This one is no different, and I think I caught the spray painting bug again!

So I couldn't think of anything COOL to make for Monday Made It today and I really wanted to put together an alphabet tool box for my stamps but I couldn't find a darn tool box anywhere.  Not even HOME DEPOT!  They told me they were seasonal.  Psh...whatever. 

My project had to be about paint then because it's really the only other skill I have other than modge podge.  I grabbed up some old Sterilite boxes and picked out a color of spray paint and got to work.  It took me a whole 7 minutes start to finish.  (No, I did not time myself).  I LOVE how they turned out!
 I am going to use these for my extended morning work activities and I have another one back at school still to paint and I will use it for extended math activities.  My extended activities are what we like to call "Open Centers".  If students are done with all of their work they can go to an open center.

I got some new bins last week so I've been working on organizing what bin labels I want.  This is as far as I have gotten so far, but I'm making it available in my store to anyone who is in the same boat as I am!  There are 48 labels so far, as I create more I will add them to this file, so you will keep getting all the new labels! :)  It's my own little version of a "growing" bundle, but this is a "growing" product!
Click HERE to see it in my store.

I've been struggling with the design on these, but finally decided to go with a plain background (less ink!) and then I can leave my library alone once I get it all settled!

That's my Monday Made It!  It's currently like 158 degrees outside so I'm going to go swim!  It's too hot to be in front of the computer ;)  
Have a marvelous Monday and see you tomorrow for Chapter 9 of Mindsets in the Classroom! 

Five for Friday and a FREEBIE!

I've officially been on summer vacation for 4 weeks.  It's not even half over people!  That's the good news!  No bad news here, it's summer vacation!

Time for Five for Friday and if you hang in there with me I'll throw in a freebie for good measure!
I spent the morning at Red Rock Crossing with my girls.  The water was FREEZING and it was WONDERFUL.  If you've ever wondered how we manage in the Arizona heat, this is how we do it! 
I got these babies in the mail yesterday.  My husband wants to know what comes in a "Really Good Stuff" box but I'm not telling!  I bought 24 of these a couple of years ago for my library and now I'm adding 24 more in.  They really do the trick keeping books all together and grouped nicely.  They fit perfectly in the shelves I have too.  So next week I'll be printing all my new library labels and getting to work on that! 
This summer my goal was to have a spot to float in the back yard.  We did it, finally!  This was a huge undertaking but my afternoons are now spent lounging on a raft.  It makes summer time that much sweeter!

When I get obsessed with making something, I really go all out.  This summer has been all about classroom decor.  I want to make a new set for my teaching partner but I'm not sure what she would prefer so I just keep making different themes.  It's so fun!  It's like decorating a classroom over and over again in my head. :) 
My classroom is already done in brights.....
 I'm hoping she'll pick the chalkboard because I fell in love with it....
But I made some superhero stuff just in case.....
 Now I'm working on a ocean theme because I've been feeling really beachy lately....
It's a sickness I tell ya! 

I'm already thinking about what I'll do next.  Safari perhaps? 

I had a number 5...I know I did.  
Oh yeah, a freebie! 

I went ahead and put together this writing resource packet I've been working on.  I'm trying to get inspired to put down on paper exactly what I do to start the year in Writer's Workshop and pre-make all of my anchor charts and such so I am ready.  This is as far as I've gotten, so my procrastination (or laziness, or lack of creativity at the moment) is your gain!  Click to get it free in my store.
That's my Five for Friday and a freebie.  We need a link up called Freebie Friday, if anyone knows of one out there let me know.  That would be fun! 

Thanks for stopping by.  
PS......did you notice the new digs?  
My blog got a little facelift this summer and I'm loving it!  I loved my old design, I just needed some bells and whistles to keep me happy. :) 
 Happy Teaching!

Mindsets in the Classroom: Gifted Education and a Growth Mindset

Chapter 7: Can gifted education and a growth mindset belief coexist?

Wow, what a powerful chapter!  When I saw the title, I won't lie, I cringed a little.  I struggle with the "gifted" label and don't always agree with how gifted education is handled (in general, not any one school specifically).  This chapter left my feelings validated and my philosophy challenged at the same time, which is a good thing!
"Doesn't telling a child that she is "gifted" manifest a fixed mindset?" Mindsets in the Classroom, Ricci
The gifted LABEL.  Why do we do this?  It's not really polite or constructive or politically correct to label people anyway right?  This may be where my negative feelings about the whole gifted education comes in.  Students are being identified gifted as early as Kindergarten in some schools.  Kindergarten!  All children's needs should be responded to within the course of instruction at this age level and all students should be viewed as "high-potential learners".

Gifted = Smart.
He's the smart kid.
Ask her, she's the smart one.
Sound familiar?  I've heard students say this on more than one occasion.  On the flip side I have witnessed a "gifted" child have a meltdown because they didn't get something right away.  As soon as we put that label on a child (or don't) we automatically steer them towards a fixed mindset.  Instead we should be differentiating for all students and being responsive to their individual needs.  All children are gifted and talented in some way and as educators it is our responsibility to recognize the potential in every child.

Excellent chapter.  I'm definitely forwarding this book to my administrators in hopes of getting it on the PD schedule this year!
If you would like to link up with Hello Sunshine you can click on the button or add you link at the bottom of the page.  Thanks for stopping by today!
Hello Sunshine!

Teaching with Intention Chapter 3: Environment!

" I believe that classroom environments are most effective when they are literate and purposeful, organized and accessible, and, most of all, authentic."  Debbie Miller

Oh boy did this chapter speak to me!  I went back and re-read it a couple of times just so I could feel the joy of Debbie helping Katy clean out her classroom!  I moved into a classroom that was FULL of OLD STUFF my first year teaching kindergarten (moved into a room from a teacher that retired.....after 30 years of teaching K!).  It wasn't until Christmas break that I felt I had any ownership over all the STUFF and threw it all away.  It makes a huge difference when you get rid of the clutter!  

Here are a few take aways from the chapter and a few questions to ask yourself when preparing your classroom for next year: 

Do children and I need a meeting area?  


Funny/Not Funny story.  I taught Kindergarten for 3 years early in my career and suddenly found myself teaching 5th grade.  Because I was going to teach the "big kids" I got rid of my easel (that I had been "gifted" from that teacher that retired and left me all her other "stuff").  MISTAKE!  I missed my easel and my meeting area so much it was like I was missing my left arm.  Luckily I'm married to an amazing fellow that spent Labor Day weekend that year laboring away making me a new easel.  It's been close by my side ever since! 

Do children and I need areas for small group work? 

I read somewhere this year (I think it was from Jen Jones...) about small group areas.  The thing that jumped out at me the most about the post was that a small group area should be CLEAN.  This is not your desk area to fill out all those annoying papers teachers have to fill out, it's a teaching area!  Mine was not awful, but I made a point to clear the clutter and create a clean work space for my kiddos.  NO DISTRACTIONS!  
Just a spot we can work! 

Do children and I need a library area? 

I have to admit I work on my library every summer.  Every time you add new books (or change grade levels) it needs to be revamped a little bit.  Those "popular" bins this year might not be the popular bins next year. 

Thinking about room arrangement....

We have to put all of our furniture on one side of the room every summer for cleaning purposes.  It's a great time to rethink these questions and move things around when the new year starts! 


Yes please!
 Seriously.....this is always a work in progress.  People walk into my closet and say, "Oh my gosh you are so organized", meanwhile I am thinking, "Oh my gosh this closet is such a mess!"  Find a system that works for you and organize your teaching resources. If you don't like binders go with the filing cabinet.  
Student materials?  Keep it out where they can find it!  Don't worry about having scissors out on the table, just teach them the proper use of scissors!  I have glue sticks coming out my ears (because a teacher left them behind.....he must have been a glue stick hoarder!)  so when my kids need a glue stick I throw 10-12 more out on the tables.  When they run out I am making glue sponges (wink, wink Mr. Greg!) 

So how do you stay organized?  What were your big take aways from the chapter?  I'd love to hear your thoughts!  Don't forget to link up with Mr. Greg at Kindergarten Smorgasboard and visit the guest hosts for Chapter 3! 

Mindsets in the Classroom: Chapter 6

Chapter 6: Mindsets in the Classroom, Mary Cay Ricci 

What Messages Should Parents Hear About Growth Mindset?

"If any adult in a child's life communicates low expectations either verbally or nonverbally, then achievement can suffer." 
This line from the book really jumped out at me.  As an educator I KNOW this and I try to model positive encouragement when dealing with parents one on one but how am I sharing that ideal with all of my parents on a day to day basis?  
Oh boy, time for some self reflection again! 

We have all sat in a parent/teacher conference and heard a parent say, 
"He's just not good at math, he's just like me" or 
"I never liked to read, I guess she got that from me".  
I cringe.......literally cringe when I hear those remarks. 
I have been frustrated with this for years and never really have found the appropriate response. 
How do I teach my parents how to teach their children to be positive?  
To take on a challenge?  
To be risk taker and try something new?
To not give up when something is hard? 

Communication is key (it's always the key!) and if we want to truly have a community that supports a growth mindset we need to communicate this to parents.  I love some of the ideas that were shared in the back of the book as examples to put in your newsletter.  I can also put links to articles on my class website and Facebook page.  More importantly if our students are beginning to build their resiliency at school (with growth mindset praise, modeling flexibility, encouraging optimism, and finding their niche) then they will take those encouraging words with them and share them at home.  

One quick quote from a Kindergartener and I will let you go....
One of my parents shared this with me at Parent/Teacher conferences last February.  Her son was working on something with his dad and when they were all finished dad asked, 
"What do you think?"
Her son responded, "Well I really like the way you _________, but next time you could add _________ to make it even better".  
(I can't remember what they were working on, but you get the idea!)
This is the EXACT wording we use during our share time in Writer's Workshop.  We always start with a positive comment and then give a "help for next time" to help each other become better writers.  They listen, learn,  and soak in every thing we do and say at school.  That is encouragement enough for me to be mindful of what I say and how I encourage them in the classroom!   

Janae from The Sharpened Pencil shared some really great resources on Hello Sunshine today.  They are perfect resources to send home to support a growth mindset community!

Monday Made It June 15

I am breaking every blogging rule in the book today.  I blame OITNB.  If you watch it you know what I mean!  Since it came out on Netflix a couple of days ago I haven't stayed caught up on ANYTHING! 
So today is catch up day.  I'm reading all my chapters for Mindsets in the Classroom so I can catch up on my posts (I'll post those tomorrow) and trying not to sign up for anything else before the end of the summer!  It's already flying by.....sigh.

Monday Made It time! 

Last week I showed you this picture: 
That was my little Dollar Store trip I took last week to find some inspiration but didn't!  I'm super duper NOT creative when it comes to finding cool things in the Dollar Store.  I'm very impressed by people that can go in and dream up wonderful projects!  

I had a purpose for these little frames though.  I saw a post from Amy Lemons on IG about signs she was putting up for procedures in the classroom.  What a great idea!  I might not want them to be a permanent part of my classroom but I could put these out for a sub and display them during Parent/Teacher conferences and Open House.  That's where the little frames come in! 

I created an editable file with my procedures and also a blank one so you can add any procedure in that want to add.  It's a PowerPoint file so all you have to do is add a text box and type away!  If you need more blank templates just "INSERT"  "DUPLICATE SLIDE".  And oh yeah.....I'm sharing it for free here!

My plan is to put these in the frames and have them around the room.  It will also be a really good way to remind me about the procedures and stay consistent!  It's so easy to just "Let it go" when you are having a hectic day!

I've also been very busy creating some decorating items for the classroom too.  I LOVE DECORATING MY CLASSROOM.  There....I said it.  I'm super tempted redo everything I have up right now because these turned out so cute!  I made them for a friend but I just might have to print them for myself! You can click on the pic or HERE to see it in my store.
Now it's time to go get inspired.  Link up with Tara at 4th Grade Frolics
with your own Monday Made It or just to get inspired yourself!

Makeover Madness!

I'm so excited about this challenge from the gals at Sparkling in Second, Third in Hollywood, Teach Create Motivate, and Peppy Zesty Teacherista.  It goes right along with my goals for this summer and adds some fun and collaboration in for good measure! 

This week's challenge is called Makeover Madness.  I took one of my old covers and redid it to add a little more FLAIR.  This is one of my favorite creations that I made last summer and I completely redid my entire room with it.  I love it and sadly it does not get much attention on TPT.  Maybe a giving it a little face lift will help :)
This was the first creation that I started adding slides to the front of to show a little "preview" on the cover. I've used this technique quite a bit in the last year but this needed some help.  It was bright but didn't pop! 

I love the new look and I am using this as inspiration to do a few more decoration creations.  This could get dangerous though because I just might want to redo my entire room!

Are you up for the challenge?  Head on over to any of the hosts blogs to check out all the others that have accepted #tptsellerchallenge!

Mindsets in the Classroom: Chapter 3

Chapter 3: Mindsets in the Classroom 

by Mary Cay Ricci


I have to admit, when I picked up this chapter I said to myself, "Oh good, I already do this!"  Well, after reading the chapter I may need to re-evaluate my take on differentiation.  There were so many times while I was reading that I said to myself, "Good point", or "Oh gosh I need to rethink that!"  The host for today's chapter, Debbie from Crockett's Classroom, made a good point.  You really have to read this one yourself and do some reflection to get it. 

I started with the quote from chapter three for that reason.  "Educators who value differentiated instruction (which I do) need to be very aware (I don't think I was aware before) about the beliefs they hold deep within themselves (really, I don't know if I even knew they were there!) regarding student intelligence."  Mindsets in the Classrooom, Ricci Chapter 3

The biggest take away from this chapter, for me, was grouping.  I always think I am differentiating instruction by working with my struggling students the most, and giving my high students an independent activity to work on alone.  When Ricci discussed spelling in terms of pre-assessment I cringed.  Literally cringed!  When I taught 5th grade that's EXACTLY how I did spelling. I really thought I was doing those "high" students a favor by giving them more words.  What was I thinking?  Maybe that's why I don't teach 5th grade anymore!  

So my "use it" is really going to be utilizing pre-assessments to revamp my flexible groupings in my classroom.  And for my students that "have" it, I'm going to make sure I find ways to challenge their thinking instead of just giving them an independent activity.  Math is really the area that needs the most help with this.  I do flexible small groups during reading time and I do stretch those high groups into more complex text and deeper discussions.  It's really easy to let those groups slide though because they are so independent!  No more of that! 

Don't forget to link up with Hello Sunshine teachers with your ideas about Chapter 3 from Mindsets in the Classroom.  If you link up with us during the month you will be entered into a drawing to win a gift card!  Use this template to record your ideas! 
 Mindsets for the Classroom blank frame-   Hello Sunshine Blog 

Thanks for stopping by!  See you Thursday for Chapter 4! 

Monday Made It-June 8

Oh I am so happy Tara at 4th Grade Frolics is back with Monday Made It!  It seems it was the very first linky party I ever participated in and remains my favorite :) I get so many great ideas from Monday Made It posts! 
This is ALWAYS the very first thing I make in the summertime because people actually come back and ask me for it.  I applaud their organization if they are already getting ready for the next school year, I really do!  I have my calendars ready but I'm not quite ready to think about next year yet.
I made it editable this year and included months all the way to December 2016 instead of ending at the end of the school year.  Maybe I won't have to remake it until Christmas break next year! You can see it by clicking on the pic or HERE.

I also made a FREE student calendar to send home.  You can get that one HERE.

That's all I have :(

I went to the Dollar Store last week in hopes of getting inspired.  This is all I came out of there with....
I'm figuring out a few things with classroom signs and a "chill out" spot for my kiddos so that will be next week!  Don't forget to link up with Tara and leave a comment or two on the link ups!