Monday, October 21, 2013

Author's Tombstone Projects

I debated A LOT about this project. I didn't want to seem too morbid, but I wanted my kids to have something that was age appropriate and Halloween-y, which is hard to find for middle school. Trust me, I looked. When I couldn't find anything that struck me, I decided to create a short project that would cover MLA citation, encourage proper grammar, and allow for creativity. My 7th and 8th graders BLEW ME AWAY with their work. Seriously, sometimes it is literally like pulling teeth for them to complete assignments, but I did not have one single complaint about this project.

First, I Googled tombstone templates and found three that I felt were large enough for what I wanted.  Before passing any information out to the kiddos, I gave every child a rubric and went over it thoroughly. I have found that a rubric provides students with step-by-step instructions, and really, it's a whole lot easier for me when grading. I answered questions and then passed out the four square research template. (We use four square writing, so this template worked really well because it was a  concept they had already practiced.) Students were told exactly how to follow the template, and off to the computer lab we went. The list of authors that I wanted them to use was on the back of the rubric. There was NO way I was letting them Google anything about dead people, so I just gave them options. I went with a couple of standards like Shakespeare and Poe, but I threw in some random folks as well. I encouraged students to look through the entire list before deciding on an author to research, and I was fairly pleased. I have a Wiki, and students linked to sites like through it to complete their research. Many stepped outside their comfort zone and went with someone new to them. After filling in their information (this took about 30-45 minutes), we went back to the classroom. The next day, students cut out a picture that I had printed for them, glued it to their tombstone, colored the tombstone, then cut it out. Finally, they used their research to write the epitaph. (Some students did this first and then colored over it, but the color was too dark to see the writing, so they had to go over it in marker. I recommend writing this in pencil first!)

Here is the finished bulletin board! (It is supposed to be a graveyard.)

Here are a few examples of student work. My sixth grade class did a tombstone for an overused word, and you'll see a few of them here too. I am SO proud of them!

Overall, this was my favorite project to date. I had a lot of fun working with the kids and getting to see them use their creativity. To top it off, this lesson does go along with many CCR standards. If you are interested in the rubric, writing template, and complete list of authors, check out my TN store by clicking the image below. Happy writing and researching!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Irregular Verbs

Recently, my middle schoolers began a segment on irregular verbs. These can be challenging for anyone, even me, so I decided to make things fun. First, students cut out an extensive list of irregular verbs that featured the infinitive form, past and present tense, and past and present participles of multiple verbs. These lists were pasted into their journals, along with a few notes. Next, I had students pick out two verbs, one they felt confident with, and another they weren't too sure of. We used these two verbs to help make our foldables.

Each student's foldable ended up looking something like this.

There are multiple versions floating around on Pinterest, but I took the format and made it to fit my needs. It was easy to create the table and merge the cells, so if you aren't looking to buy one, make your own! After working with these for a day or two, I let my students play "I Have. Who Has?" using irregular verbs. This game is on sale in my TN shop for $2.00. If features all the verb forms that are listed on the foldable above. 

Keep in mind, I completed these activities with middle schoolers. Certain verb tenses are too advanced for younger students, but there are lots of fun ways to teach irregular verbs. Check out Pinterest or even Google images for ideas!

Happy teaching!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

New Job!

I have been meaning to write this post for a while, but let me tell ya, I have been crazy busy. Three days before the school year started I was asked to leave my job as a special education teacher and take on the role of a general education teacher. I have been wanting to get back into the classroom for some time, so this was a no brainer for me. However, I was (am) a bit unprepared for the job as a 6th, 7th, & 8th grade Language Arts teacher. Now, don't get me wrong, I LOVE the written word. I wish I had the gift some of my favorite authors possess. I want my students to enjoy reading as much as I do, but middle school is intimidating. Now, a month into the school year, I am feeling my way around. I am relearning participles, prepositions, infinitives, and gerunds. I am exhausted at the end of the day, but it is so completely worth it. We are doing a lot of fun things in the classroom, some of which I am slowly documenting. One of my favorite activities has been story mapping. It's pretty detailed, so I will get into that at a later date; however, today's activity wasn't quite so bad either.

I like for my students to do more than just take notes, so when I found a pin on irregular verb tenses, I was all over it. Sadly, the pin was nothing more than a instructions or templates. I went off the image and created my own "flappy thing" (I know, I know, I should really find the proper name, but my kids know what I am talking about when I say it, so....). It turned out to be a quick review for some students, and an introduction for others.

(To see more on the above activity, read the "Irregular Verbs" post. It has updated information, and instructions. The book I use to teach grammar is the one pictured below. It is fabulous!)

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Getting Ready!

Hello All! It has been a super busy week at my house. I have spent multiple days at the local thrift store searching for books for my classroom library. (I found a few cute tops too, so that was a bonus!) I have also spent time in my classroom and school library preparing for the year. Recently, I helped reorganize our library so that it would be user friendly. After scouring Pinterest for ideas, I found a "Staff Favorites" area I liked for the library, but wasn't wild about the theme that was pictured. So...I got out my mom's Cricut and begin creating what I think turned out to be pretty darn cute.

I asked our teachers for help creating this, and they willingly complied by giving me lists of books. Enough that I can swap out displays throughout the year. I also created book recommendation bookmarks to keep in a few books throughout the library. Those can be found by looking in my posts for July.

Our school-wide theme this year is "Peace, Love, and Learning." Several teachers were making this slogan their own, and since I teach reading, I created a new display for my door.

The felt pieces were $1.97 each at Wal-Mart, and the letters were on clearance for $2.50. I also found some peace sign ribbon for $1.97. I hot glued the ribbon to the back of each felt design, and then hung the ribbon at different lengths. When I got it how I liked, I hot glued the end of the ribbon to the top of the door itself (not the frame) and then clipped the ribbon from the roll. Overall, it took about 30 minutes to add the letters, glue, and hang. Not too bad!

Does your school have a theme, or all you all allowed to choose classroom themes? What do you do to make your classroom warm and inviting?

Hope you enjoy your weekend!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Chevron Labels

Most people do not understand the effort that goes into getting classroom ready for the school year. I don't know how many times this summer I heard, "Well, it must be nice to have the WHOLE summer off!" Ha! I don't know about you, but my summer was busy. I have been scouring the city trying to find copies of novels for literature circles (which I pay for out of my own pocket), creating different items to use in my classroom, taking care of my family, volunteering at church, etc. I have also spend several days in our school library, cleaning out clutter and organizing books in line with the Dewey Decimal System. So, no, I have not had the WHOLE summer off, thank you very much. Off my soapbox in 3...2...1....

While sifting through some of my classroom clutter, I discovered a lot of items that I haven't used in years. They were stuffed in a box that had no label. If you are like me, you are obsessed with office supplies, and that includes the packs of Avery labels in the paper section of Wal-Mart. I have tons of these things, but I never print any off because I can't make them as cute as I would like. After my kiddos went down for the night (fingers crossed), I got a little busy on my computer. While these aren't perfect, they do fit the 2"x4" labels from Avery, and they are a bright reminder for IEP files, binders, take-home folders, portfolios, etc. Since I downloaded the template from the Internet, these are free. I hope you can find a good use for them!

What have you been busy with this summer?

Friday, July 19, 2013

Report Cards

Students dread report card time. Why? Sadly, many kids don't value their education, but they know when they go home, they might get the beating of their life. Since my first year teaching, I have helped students cope with the dreaded report card day by letting them fill out a report card for me. That first year, I used a ready-made report card, but there were too many boxes. Over the past 4 years, I have adapted the report card to fit my needs and my grade level. Here is a sample of the first page:

This is anonymous, so students don't need to feel scared about completing this. I have three open-ended questions on the next page, but those are optional. 

I am also going to be trying something new this year. Student report cards-with a twist. Instead of covering academics, I will fill out a form, much like this one, on how well students are trying, if they are being kind to classmates, responsible, respectful, etc. 

Teacher's Notebook is currently down, but when I can, I will upload this document to be sold for $1.00. There are 4 pages, 2 Teacher Report Card forms and 2 Student Report Card forms. Hope you enjoy!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Book Box Labels

I am working on many things for the upcoming school year: bulletin boards, labeling of books, reorganizing IEP files and general ed files, cleaning out old items in my classroom, etc. Some of this is exciting, some is rather tedious. For me, labeling my books is probably what I look forward to most. (Nerdy, I know!) Because we are all moving toward common core, I have had to revamp my classroom library to include more non-fiction. Now, let's be honest, my kids don't want to read about seeds and pollination. Heck, I don't want to read about seeds and pollination. However, there are quite a few non-fiction topics I am interested in. I love arts and crafts, travel, biographies, etc., and if I can get excited about all that, so can my kids. Today, I visited 2nd and Charles, which is a little bit of heaven on earth. Seriously, if you've never been, you MUST find one and go! Right now! Well, you can wait until your next trip out, but really, it's THAT cool. Walls and shelves full of pre-loved books. I bought 14 titles today for $25, including a copy of Catching Fire for $0.50. Yes, you read that right. Fifty cents. Crazy isn't it?!? Anywho, I rifled and searched and purchased all but 2 books for under $2.00. After that, I looked to purchase some chevron fabric for my bulletin boards. Sadly, everywhere was sold out. When I say everywhere, I mean everywhere. I visited 4 fabric stores. Oh well, I'll just keep my polka dots for another year.

Since I couldn't get my chevron fix at Hancock's, or JoAnn's...or Michael's, I decided to make some book box labels using the pattern. I am loving anything summery, so my chevron ended up turquoise and purple. I made it myself! These labels are meant for 5x7 index cards. You can print the ones you need (I included a blank), poke holes and tie with a string, or just tape the labels to your boxes. There are 23 total, and some are for younger students, some for older. I have a variety of reading levels in my room, so I tried to include the books my students like and ones
that are trending on B&N or Amazon. Once I hook my printer back up, I will print some off and post a picture. For now, enjoy! (Click on the picture to go my Teacher's Notebook Store.)

(Titles include: Percy Jackson, Harry Potter, Time Warp Trio, Warriors, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, The Spiderwick Chronicles, A Series of Unfortunate Events, The Sisters Grimm, The Boxcar Children,
A to Z Mysteries, Junie B. Jones, Judy Moody, Magic Tree House, Fancy Nancy, Skippyjon Jones, Heroes of Olympus, Poison Apple Books, Cam Jansen, 39 Clues, Jack Sparrow, Mysterious Benedict Society, Ranger's Apprentice)

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Solving Problems Poster

When I taught math, I used a lot of strategies with my students. Even in reading, we talk about how to correctly solve problems involving main idea, theme, vocabulary, etc. With common core, there is a need for teaching even more strategies to students. One poster I made (and I didn't come up with this, I learned the steps at a workshop) helps students pace themselves when solving problems. It's yours, for free!

How do you know if your students are natural problem solvers? In my ABA course, the textbook listed several characteristics of strategic and non-strategic learners. These circle poster match the chevron styled poster above and are very informative. After reading through these, I was able to pinpoint exactly which students I needed to work with on their problem solving skills. Charts, notebooks, and organization are key to helping non-strategic learners succeed. I will offer more tips on binder/notebook organization later this week. Hope you are having a great Wednesday!

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Accelerated Reader

Has anyone ever read "The Read Aloud Handbook" by Jim Trelease? If not, I highly recommend this for all educators and parents. If you have, you know that Trelease covers the rewards and perils of using the Accelerated Reader system in schools. Basically, he feels that if used in the right way, AR can help students reach reading goals. Some schools still use AR as a grade, which Trelease discourages. I'm with him on that one. The purpose of AR should be to encourage kids to read, plain and simple.

It's hard to get kids to pick up a book these days, especially since personal gaming systems and television are so handy. Our school rewards students for reaching a certain number of points per nine weeks. There is no penalty for not reaching the goal. For example, the first goal was for students grades 2-8 to earn 10 Accelerated Reader points. Easy peasy, right? WRONG! The students had NO idea how to finish a book. On top of that, books for 2nd and 3rd graders are rarely more than .5 or 1.0 AR points, so they were reading double the amount that the older kids were. If the students at my school had come from homes where reading was valued, the whole school would have gotten extra PE, but only about 20 kids (out of 250) met their goal. Therefore, in order to get my kids reading, I decided to create some classroom incentives.

The first thing I did was make some leader boards (see below) for each month. After my leader boards were up, I went through as many of my own books as I could to find the reading level and AR point totals. Each book was color-coded according to a certain point level and placed in my classroom library. Next, I read picture books once a week to my students. Some were a little childish, but some were though provoking. (You're never too old for picture books!!!) Students were given the opportunity to take a test on these books, and as .5 point increments were met, a sticker was placed on a large chart in the back of my room, for all the world to see. (I used my mom's Cricut to make it extra cute and eye-catching.) As students increased their scores each day, I wrote names on the AR Leader board at the front of the room. The winner for each month could choose a treasure box item, homework pass, or raise-a-grade certificate. (PSSST...NO kid is too old for the treasure box. You've got to put in items that will make them WANT to dig around it it. I had mechanical pencils, candy, stamps, journals, etc. Make it appropriate for your age group!)

Within a week, I had over half of my students reading during free time each day, and at least 8 to 9 of my students met the school goals because they were working to get the rewards I offered in the classroom. Did my little plan make everyone read? Nope, and I was okay with that. I am a born reader, a lover of the written word, but not everyone is. More than likely, they just haven't found the right book to get them hooked, and you, the teacher, can remedy that. Visit my blog again this week for more on great read-alouds for students.

I hope everyone is having a fabulous summer!


Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Foreign Phrases

As many of you know, our country is moving toward Common Core standards. While I feel that half the teachers are freaking out about this transition, some of us know that really, if you're teaching what you're supposed to, you've covered Common Core anyway. No need to fret! When I taught in Tennessee, part of our state standards (which were based on CC) required that we teach foreign phrases. Out of all the concepts I was to teach, this made me want to pull my hair out. Why? Because I couldn't find any resources!!! There were none in the textbook or on the state department's website. Now that I have moved back to Alabama, foreign phrases are not specified in our CC's, but students still need to have a general idea about common Latin or French phrases we use. In the kit below, I have included 21 foreign phrases that students are likely to hear throughout their lifetime. I know what you're thinking, "I live in Podunk, ____, and my kids ain't ever gonna talk like that!" Well, if you continue to have a bad attitude, then no, they won't. But, what if we actually taught our students to use words outside their normal vocabulary??? We might have an America that can talk beyond curse words and our students might grow up to appreciate more intellectually advanced materials. Lofty goals, right? Hey, you've got to start somewhere!

Monday, March 18, 2013

Kindergarten Intervention

Recently, my reading coach (and teaching buddy) told me about four kindergarten students who had still not grasped the alphabet. In February, these students were naming, at most, 19% of the letters on the DIBELS exam. I told her I would gladly help since I had a free 30 minute block in my schedule. When I went to look through the students' materials, I was not very pleased. Scott Foresman does cover letters, however, it is in sequence. You may like that; I do not. As a college student we were taught that several three letter words could be made using s,t,a,n,i,p. Go ahead. Jot some down!

See? Why not teach students these letters first, THEN move on and add other consonants and vowels? That's what makes sense to me, but ol' Scotty F. never asked my opinion. Instead of moaning and griping about how I couldn't help these kids, I decided to use my resources...ahem, Teacher's Notebook, and create something. To your left is what I came up with.

This pack contains several activities, four traceable A's, four traceable S's, a matching sheet, writing sheet, and assessment sheet. Since I have a small group, I will just laminate each letter sheet and let them trace one A & S per day. The goal of this packet was to allow students to have something bright, colorful and fun that was also a learning tool. I hope you can use it in your classroom!

What do you do to help yours students learn the alphabet?

Thursday, March 7, 2013


Hello Teacher Friends!
It's been a long break since my last post. I have been busy testing students for services, taking care of sick babies, getting over the stomach flu, and making some items for my Teacher's Notebook store. Recently, I purchased Annie Moffatt's Ready2Read program for use in my Master's final project. I'll be honest, it's a lot of pages to print, but I LOVE LOVE LOVE all the colors and fun activities included in the kit. This is my third and final week for my project implementation, but I will continue with the program for two reasons: I bought it with my own moola ($) AND most importantly, it works! For real y'all, the girl I am working with read a total of 52 sight words (pre-primer/primer) pre-implementation, and now she is up to 60. I don't know if you think that's pretty quick or not, but I sure do. 

Each level of the program is divided into units, and these units focus on five sight words at a time. There are also two word families per level. When you download the program, I recommend looking through it all first, then only printing off what is necessary. For example, there might not be a reason to print the black and white version of the sight word caterpillar. It's there if you need it, but it is your call. I only printed off one unit at a time. This helped me with organization. When I had everything printed, I bought some page protectors and colored labels, then used them to help me sort all the items I had laminated/printed. (If you don't have a laminator, then you NEED to get one for this. I buy my thermal pouches off of Amazon and pay $16 for 100 pouches.) All my sorted items went into a gargantuan binder. I mean seriously, it weighs more than my child, but it's all in there!!!

The picture below shows just one of the activities included in this kit. I have literally tried everything at my disposal (Scott Foresman, Recipe for Reading, My Sidewalks, etc.) and nothing has worked as well as this. I look forward to working with M everyday and she really enjoys coming to my room for this. I think it's the first time she's felt good about her reading experience. When we come across a word on our list that was previously unfamiliar, she says "I know that one now!" If that doesn't the money/time/effort spent worth it, what does? :)

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Block Gone Bad

As I type this I am laying as flat as I possibly can on my couch. The past 6 days have been something out of a nightmare. Last Wednesday, I went to have a epidural block done for my lower back. (I have a bulging disc and it has been bugging me for over a month.) The block was supposed to alleviate the back pain I had been having since December, and allow me to quickly get back into the swing of being a wife, teacher and mommy. WRONG. Thursday morning I woke up with a dull headache. Nothing crazy, and since headaches are a common side effect of steroids, I popped a few Tylenol and went on to work. By 12:00, I wanted to die. My dad had to come and get me from school, then drop me off at Urgent Care. After speaking with the doctor there, and getting a round of pain and nausea killers in my system, I left thinking I could sleep it off. Wrong again! Friday morning I woke up in more pain, so I called the surgery center. I went in to have a blood patch done. Apparently, the leak was pretty bad, because in my drugged up state I could hear the anthesiologist (sp?) talking to the MD. I ended up getting 27 cc's of blood in my patch instead of the normal 20 cc's. Immediately after the patch I felt relief. Well, except for the insane burning in my neck and ears, but hey, my head felt better! When I went home an hour later and tried to lay down, my ears were on fire. When I sat up, the were fine. I attributed it to my overactive imagination, but took a Percocet for the pain and SLEPT. Saturday morning was sure to be a better start. Seriously? I was, yet again, wrong! Needless to stay I have been hopped up on painkillers and Coke since Wednesday. I stupidly tried to go to work yesterday and my precious principal hauled me off to Birmingham yesterday, because the local doctors were just not doing the trick. While in the emergency room at St. Vincent's, where I was taken excellent care of, I found out that I was one of the 15% of people who do not find relief from a blood patch. Good to know. (I also found out I was allergic to morphine, which is also excellent information to have on hand.) So, here I sit, er...lay. Down in the dumps and on the couch. I love Coke, but my waistline is not handling this "lay around all day and eat/drink your weight in caffeine" bit I've got going on. I also love my students, and not seeing them in almost a week has been a bummer. More than anything else, I love being mommy, and that is something I haven't been able to be since last week. If you're the praying sort, please say a little prayer for me tonight. I am SO over this!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Teaching Prefixes

Over the past 5 years I have taught 3 different grades, and worked with a variety of students who have special needs. One thing that remains the same, no matter the grade or skill level, is the difficulty with reading vocabulary. I know many times that background knowledge is lacking, but I also think it's because we are raising a generation who has no interest in books. I practically have to beg my 6th graders to pick out a book from the library. It drives me crazy! Okay, off my soapbox now and onto the topic of this post...vocabulary. My students really struggle with almost all vocabulary, but mainly prefixes. Last week, our selection vocab featured three or four words with de- and dis-, so I decided to take it a step further. Below is the anchor chart I made.

The first step I took was to cover the prefixes (in pink) and their meanings. I made sure to stress the important of a base word. For example disappear. Appear is a word on its own, so this is a great example of a prefix. Disgust is not, because "gust" is not a word. After going over and over this, I asked my kiddos to help me come up with correct examples of words using prefixes (in orange). They really enjoyed listing these. Finally, I finished up with a prefix worksheet that I made. It is available at here.

Do you have any great vocabulary strategies for general education or special education students?

Monday, January 21, 2013

Create Your Own Font!

I just made my own font and it only took me five minutes. You can probably tell how much effort was put into this by the sloppiness. I truly thought I would fail in my attempt to master technology, but look below!

The good new is, it was FREE and easy. I watched this little YouTube video and followed the instructions. 

I tried to ignore the fact that a preteen was using, and telling me how to use, my Mac more efficiently than I thought possible, but oh well. Good luck future font-makers!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Task Charts

I have a 2nd grade student who needs tangible reinforcers, and an 8th grader who only wants verbal praise or a smile in his direction. Another student, this one a 3rd grader, is obsessed with stickers. Lucky for me, I don't have these kids all in the classroom at the same time, but what if I did? How do you handle behavior for students, whether they have special needs or not?

All teachers at my first job used the card system. Green was good, yellow was okay and red was BAD. A good visual, but I never really liked it. The next two years were a whirlwind of changing policies mandated by the school. Don't you hate that? I felt like as soon as I implemented something, I learned that it was wrong and I should have been doing it another way. I'll stop there, because this rant could go on forever :) My point is, I never felt like what I did was working. It wasn't functional for me or my students. Hallelujah for the University of Cincinnati. (I wanted to attend University of Alabama online, but they weren't offering the courses I needed. Roll Tide anyway!)

This past summer was an eye opener. I took a course in Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) and learned more than my head could hold. Some things I'm still confused about, but I took more away from this class than I have any other. The main concept I learned, and one I try and remind the general education teachers of daily, is that we have to be specific when setting a goal, and when the student meets that goal, he or she must be rewarded. Having "be good" on a behavior plan is a little ambiguous. What does the child need to do in order to "be good?"Should he/she reduce outbursts in class to less than 10 or 20 times? Does the student need to only ask for a restroom pass twice a day? You decide that goal, but decide it with them. Also, if the child does what you ask, reward them! Sure, Susie may have written her name in crayon, but she met her goal of coloring within the lines on two worksheets per day. She did what you asked, so praise her! Let her choose from a reward menu! Too many times we get so bogged down with the negatives that we forget to focus on the baby steps these kids are taking.

I have used all kinds of behavior/task charts with my students this year. For example, my second grader, C, had to complete two tasks before lunch without redirections, and two tasks after lunch without redirections. Each task completed according to the written plan meant a smiley face could be colored in on his behavior chart. Every colored smiley face I saw at the end of the day was exchanged for a crayon. This went on for a few weeks until C received a whole box of neon crayons. We have upgraded to a more sophisticated behavior chart, one that will transition with him to 3rd grade. This time, each check C receives earns a letter of the word "Spiderman." After we spell it out completely, C will go back to his classroom with an official movie folder.

Initially, I start with one task or goal, but as the year progresses the student can have two. Think about the kids you have. Would they benefit from something like this? If you think so, try it! Writing a behavior plan is not difficult, and can be done for ANY child. Help your students set goals that will make them better citizens. If you have questions, feel free to ask!

Go to my Teacher's Notebook Shop to purchase this item. There are three sheets. Two are writable PDFs so you can customize it to fit your needs!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

AR Points

I don't know about your school, but we reward students for reaching AR goals. Each semester, the students who make their points get a to participate in a fun activity. The first nine weeks, we had extra PE. Last nine weeks the kids worked for a free skating trip at a local skating rink, and this grading period students who reach their point goal will get to go bowling FOR FREE! I know that many people are against using Accelerated Reader, and I am too when the points count as grades. Some kids don't like reading, and it's not fair to judge them based on what they want to do outside of schoolwork. However, when AR is used as an incentive, I am all for it. Some students may be lovers of the written word, they just don't know it yet.

To get my students motivated, and to comply with school rules, I used STAR testing to find the reading levels of each student, and then made cards for them to take to the library.

You could print these off the computer and make them cute, but since I have 6th grade, I just gave them something they could use as a bookmark. If you teach younger students, make a smaller card to hang around their neck with a piece of yarn. 

Next, I printed off a series of AR Points Leaders charts to hang on my bulletin board. Every month I reward the student who has the highest points with a candy bag, antibacterial hand gel from B&BW, hot chocolate from my Keurig, etc. Yes, I spent some money, but I want these kids to be excited to read! This just so happens to be the chart from this month, but I have them made for all the months of the year. You can download them for free at my Teacher's Notebook store.
Finally, I tally everyone's points for the entire grading period on a large sheet of graph paper from Quill. (Buy the store's cheaper!) If you have a lot of kids you might have to give each student one line and divide each box into one point increments. Since I only have 17 students, I gave each one two lines and wrote down half-point increments. If the student reaches all the way to the end, which is 12.5 points, they go to their second line and start coloring in until they reach the end of that row. If they have two full rows, that means they have 25 AR points. As our goal increases, I will have to go to one point increments, but this works for now. I used my Cricut to make the pretty sign and birds. I think things work better when they are cheerful!

Now, if you don't have any clue about Accelerated Reader, or how to make a chart, leave a comment. You can do so much to get your kids motivated to read! 

Saturday, January 12, 2013

I'm Back!

I've taken a hiatus from blogging. Two babies, grad school and health issues are about to do me in. I have had one baby in the hospital, a herniated disc and the flu. We can get well, but we can't stay that way! This is my 5th year teaching, and I have had to take more sick days than EVER. I know that having babies changes things, but I had no idea I would be constantly in and out of my classroom. I miss it. I am ready to get back to work (hopefully) on Monday. Do any of you have tried and true regimens you follow to stay healthy?

I have to tell you, I am super excited about the next few weeks. I am finally starting my last semester of grad school, and I will be working on a final project. I contacted Moffat Girls about purchasing one of their Ready2Read bundles and using it for my project. I'll be working with one of my 3rd graders to see if we can get her reading skills up to speed. You can check back weekly for blog updates to see how things go. I'm also working on a daily Bible verse calendar for some of my teacher friends. Once I get that made, I will have it available for download.

I hope you have had a wonderful Christmas break and are enjoying these first few weeks back at school! Roll Tide y'all!