Saturday, May 23, 2015

DIY Personal Whiteboard Stations

How about some easy do-it-yourself personal whiteboard stations? We are loving these in our classroom! They're a terrific way for kiddos to keep everything they need in a compact case, & helps keep us just a bit more organized, too!

I picked up some VHS tape cases at Goodwill. Make sure you get the ones that have hard plastic edges (rather than the clam shell ones).


Slide the paper out (bye, Kipper!), & replace it with blank white construction paper. How cool is this? Each case becomes a little personal whiteboard station! Inside each case, we keep a dry erase marker & an 'eraser' (I cut up little squares of felt to use for erasers). Easy peasy!

They work well as dry erase board, erase easily, & all the supplies are kept inside!
Check out MORE Bright Ideas!
An InLinkz Link-up

Saturday, May 2, 2015

5 Keys to Effective Parent Communication

Ever feel like you're using tin cans to try to communicate with parents? Well.....maybe that's a bit of an exaggeration...but there are some keys that will help with communication. I'm excited to join in with my awesome bloggy buddies at Schroeder Shenanigans in 2nd and Lucky Little Learners to share tips & tricks for effective parent communication.

Establish positive lines of communication at the beginning of the year. If the first time families hear from you is to hear a concern or address an undesired behavior, parents are kind of put on the defensive. By communicating early with positive notes, families feel that they are part of the team...and more importantly, that YOU feel like you are part of THEIR team. Then, if & when you do need to contact families about a concern, the news is much more well received, and families feel that you're working together for a solution.

Consider hosting events to welcome families into the classroom or building. In my experience, this has been the #1 most effective thing I've done to foster a family culture for my classroom. It really gives me a time to meet families and chat with parents about not just their child. Parents get the
feeling that you really do care about not just your student, but the family as well. I find that the best events are ones that are not particularly focused on academics or a holiday. Some families don't
celebrate holidays, & feel uncomfortable at such events. A few of our most successful family nights:
  • Snowflake Reading Fest - We invited families in to listen to a story, listen to their child read to them, make bookmarks, and enjoy hot cocoa & popcorn.
  • Cardboard Carnival - Students had created their own cardboard carnival games in the classroom. We hosted an evening when families came in & got to play the games too. Kiddos were thrilled to share their games with their families & parents got a kick out of seeing their child's creativity.
  • STEM Family Night - we just hosted this one a few months ago. We've been doing lots of STEM activities in the classroom. We asked families to come in & try their hand at some of them, & had some new STEM activities for them to do, as well. BONUS? We also did our parent/teacher conferences during the evening. (I did have several volunteers come in to help monitor the STEM stations).
At the beginning of the year, let families know how/when you'll be communicating. Will you send home a weekly newsletter with classroom information? Monthly? How will parents receive information regarding their child? Will you write a note in student agendas? Do you have a form that you will send home? Make sure that parents know what to expect and what to look for. And then follow through! If you're sending home a bi-weekly newsletter and then it becomes hit & miss....families learn quickly to stop checking for those bi-weekly newsletters! If you've said you'll be sending individual information home via a specific form & then you send a note home in an envelope...they may miss seeing the note in the envelope because they've been seeing/looking for that form.

Consider 'non-traditional' forms of communicating with families. We're in the 21st Century & most of us are now used to communicating via Facebook or other online venues. I know some districts allow Facebook pages for classrooms. Mine does not...but I know that I would love to be able to get classroom information on my FB feed! Don't forget about email! There are also a few parent/teacher communication websites like Class Messenger & Remind. I personally use Remind & love it! It lets me send quick classroom messages/reminders to parents via text. Parents send a text to I love that I can go online & schedule a reminder text to be sent to families: "Don't forget library books are due tomorrow!"..."Picture tomorrow! Get ready to smile!".

Think like an copy editor/graphic designer. Sending home emails, newsletters, or notes? Think about these tricks professionals use:
  • Pictures - Families love to see pictures of their kiddos in action in the classroom! Include pics of your students working in the classroom in your newsletters & emails. Take group pictures of kiddos who earned their Pizza Hut Book It that month. Parents & kiddos love to see this recognition in print!
  • Color - Copy notes & newsletters on color paper. (Studies show that purple is the color that is most often noticed).
  • Bullets - People are in a hurry. It's much easier to read information that's in bulletin form rather than full paragraph text. There's actual research that shows bullets increase readability & scannability. Easier/quicker to read = more likely to be read.
Whatever mode of communication you use, pay attention to the results. Do parents return permission slips or respond to requests in a timely manner? Do they show up for events/meetings? If you find you'd like to increase your results...take a look at making a few tweaks. Make sure to stop by the linky to discover more ideas, tips, or tricks!


Sunday, April 26, 2015

I Read to Write - Evidence Based Writing

I have to share this awesome resource with you! A few months ago, the folks at Zaner-Bloser asked me to try out their new I Read to Write product......& I am here to tell you I. LOVE. IT! 
I mean....it has EVERYTHING.

We're really working on close reading, finding evidence, and citing evidence in their writing. Boy - is I Read to Write perfect for all of that! 

Here's what I love about it:
  1. 17 different articles/texts in content areas: Science, Social Studies, and Math.
  2. LOTS of text features included! Rich text with quality text features isn't as abundant for 2nd graders as it is for older kiddos. Love that this resource has quality text features!
  3. I Read to Write supports students to READ, THINK, WRITE.
  4. Kiddos are guided from locating and highlighting the evidence, writing their answers to the questions on the sidebar. (READ)
  5. Multiple choice questions are included to assess comprehension/give kiddos practice at answering those kinds of questions. (THINK)
  6. Finally, there are two questions that require kiddos to use higher level thinking skills, to synthesize the information they've read, to respond, using evidence from the text to support their answers. (WRITE)
  7. The writing tasks don't require kiddos write in just one genre: they're able to write in informative, opinion, and narrative.
  8. Truly gives kiddos powerful practice toward success on those next generation assessments. 







This has been so successful with my kiddos that I have already put it on my purchase list for next year. No lie. I encourage you to stop by Zaner-Bloser and check it out. There are levels available for 2nd through 6th. You can evenrequest a FREE SAMPLE and see it first hand!

Monday, April 13, 2015

Booking Across the USA - Norman Bridwell

I'm so excited to be part of Booking Across the USA this year & get to help celebrate children's authors from across the country!

I am from the great state of Indiana. And do you know what celebrated children's author is also from Indiana? Here's a hint....

Yeah......so, my hint may have been a little too easy. Did you guess?

Yep-- the creator of the beloved Clifford the Big Red Dog was born & raised right here in Indiana. Did you know that he never really intended to be a children's author? He loved to draw as a child & teen, and originally wanted to be an illustrator. He got rejection over & over.....and one editor even told him his drawings were awful and she couldn't imagine anyone wanting HIM to illustrate a book!

Eventually, one editor told him to think about writing a story around his drawings......and she pointed to his drawing of a baby girl & a horse-sized dog. I guess you could say that was the birth of Clifford
the Big Red Dog! The very first Clifford book was published in 1963.....today, there are over 80 titles in the Clifford series.
I admire Bridwell as wonderful children's book author, but even more so for his perseverence. His experience with rejection and the way he dealt with it is a great example of intestinal fortitude and perseverance.

 My kiddos are going to be reading lots of Clifford the Red Dog books this week. I'd love for them to learn more about the author, and to learn about how he never gave up on his goal and kept trying. I created a Respond to Text with Proof reading activity for them to use. To grab a copy for your class, just click on the pic below & download from my dropbox!

I'll leave you with a little bit of Norman Bridwell wisdom..... 








Thursday, April 2, 2015

Primary Inspired on Educents

Yay! I'm so excited to finally share the secret! Educents has opened up a MARKETPLACE & Primary Inspired is officially open!


To celebrate the launch, I've got a FREEBIE to share with you.....AND my friends & I teamed up to host a $50 edubucks giveaway!


Have you tried my I Spy's yet? They're a BIG favorite with my kiddos! They are super engaged while they're working on them.....(shhhh! They don't realize they learning!). Click on the pic above to check it out& download in my Educents store!
Educents has organized some givewaways! Here are some of my favorite primary teachers on Educents. PLEASE FOLLOW PRIMARY INSPIRED on Educents so you don't miss a thing!
Educents Marketplace $50 in Edubucks Giveaway #7 - Second Grade Stores

Monday, March 30, 2015

Ninja Bunnies!?! Dollar Sale!

These darn Ninja Bunnies have been running amok in my store. AMOK, I tell you! I mean...running around chopping prices. Some are just 20% off.....but some are actually chopped down to JUST ONE DOLLAR!! It was pure crazy! LOL


You'll find these are just $1:
 I Spy Sight Words SPRING Edition These are one of my kiddos' FAVE activities. I'm not kidding, y'all....they are so engaged while they're doing it that you could hear a pin drop! I love that they're getting addition practice AND graphing practice.


These two Phonics Activity Packs:
Lots of teachers tell me they like using these phonics packs because of the variety of activities: Poster/Anchor Chart, Search & Write the Room, Build a Word pages, Word Sorts, Search & Sort pages, & even a Color By or I Spy page!





And my Place Value Activity Pack Bundle, which has two super fun games included!
Make sure to take a look around while you're in my store....you just might find some other surprises in there! (wink, wink)

Those Ninja Bunnies weren't just running amok in MY store.......check out all these other awesome DOLLAR SALE items!


Saturday, March 28, 2015

Weekend in Review! #springteacherbloggermeetup2015

 I'm here to tell ya, friends....if you ever have the opportunity to go to a blogger meet-up....GO! Yes, even if you're stepping out of your comfort zone. I can't tell you how many times I heard people say, "I really was kind of nervous about coming...so glad I did" at a meet-up. Heck, I was one of them. My first meet-up a couple years ago with the Indiana bloggers, I was definitely out of my comfort zone. So glad I went! The people I met there are now some of my best friends! 

BUT - THIS blogger meet-up? IT.IS.THE.BEST meet up ever! Seriously! There's just something to be said for getting together with like-minded people: people who share the same interests, who are passionate about the same things. Like my good friend Jenny said, this meet up is more like a retreat. Not only is it super fun....it's also rejuvenating & inspiring.
We owe a BIG thanks to Holly Ehle of Mrs. Ehle's Kindergarten Connection  and Brittany Banister 
of Mrs. Banister's Kindergarten Kids for organizing it all! Hats off to these two ladies! They planned a full weekend of awesome! We started Saturday off with a catered lunch & lots of chatting!
Brandy- Firstie Kidoodles & Stacey - Teaching Ever After








                                      
After our favorite teacher tool gift swap, there were small table talk breakout sessions. My sweet friend, Amanda of The Primary Gal & I hosted a table talk all about the social media side of blogging & TpT. Wanna know more about Pinterest & Facebook? Just let us know!


Next activity of the day? Teacher swag! Wow! There were so many companies that donated gifts & door prizes. So great to know that teachers are so appreciated! Check out that picture....those are just some of the items everyone went home with! Just some of the sway: bags from Lakeshore & Vera Bradley, markers, pens, & stickers from Scentos, more cute stuff from Creative Teaching Press, goodies from Scentsy & Origami Owl, & wait for it........an Erin Condren Teacher Planner!
And guess what?! We have a few swag bags to give away! Keep on reading to find out how!
Thanks, TpT!
What a day! And we haven't even started with the PJ Party! We had so much fun at the lunch meet up last year, we knew we wanted more time to hang out next time. Holly & Brittany cooked up a super fun PJ Party. BIG tHaNkS to GoNoodle & TpT for sponsoring this event! Wow! Oh my gosh....it was stupendous! TpT & GoNoodle......you ROCK! I seriously cannot thank you enough!
video
If you don't GoNoodle with your class, you've got to try it out! My kiddos absolutely adore GoNoodle! It's great for a quick brain break & WoNdErFuL for indoor recess. And that song we're daancing to up above? Pop See Ko! My kiddos favorite!! 
Decorating pillow cases.
Photo booth fun with Adventures of Room 129

Greg Kindergarten Smorgasboard & Annie Ride Away with Mrs. Ridgeway

Megan Mrs. Wheeler's First Grade
Whew! It was a busy, busy whirlwind of a weekend, & not nearly long enough to enjoy being with these wonderful friends!
To hear more about the weekend....click through the blogs below...

An InLinkz Link-up

Here's your opportunity to win your very own swag bag! Just look at all that awesome in there! 
Just click into that rafflecopter widget down there, get your entries in, & cross your fingers!

a Rafflecopter giveaway