Tuesday, February 25, 2014

TPT 3 Million Teachers Strong Sale!

I'm sure if you're caught up on your blog reading, you already know this, but TeachersPayTeachers reached a major milestone this past week. 3 million teachers...WOW! They're throwing another awesome site-wide sale to celebrate!

The sale runs Thursday & Friday, and is good for 10% off of your entire purchase. Lots of sellers (including me) are joining in on the celebration by putting our stores on sale for the weekend too, so you can save up to 28%!

Speaking of my store, I thought I'd share a couple of my most popular wish-list items.

Editable Teacher Toolbox Labels - Easy editable labels to make your own teacher toolbox. Instructions and purchasing information for the toolbox is included. Tons of colors and patterns are available in my store, but this one is by far the most popular!

Word Work for Big Kids - I created this product after searching for upper elementary word work activities with no luck. Includes 12 word work activities that work with any vocabulary words. (Perfect for Daily 5!)  My students love the variety of activity choices, especially creating and playing games with their words!

Check out the linky at Pinkadots Elementary to see who else has their store on sale!

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Five for...Sunday? + A Peek at my Week

I had my Five for Friday post all planned out, but then Thursday happened. I was sick, sick, sick all day. Thank goodness it was just a 24 hour bug of some kind. But it put me way behind on my graduate work, so I've been playing catch up all weekend instead of blogging. Anyway...on to happier things.

I'm now on Facebook and Instagram (woohoo!), so if you haven't already, click the logos below to head over and like or follow me! I'm hoping to get started with some fan freebies soon!


The review games I posted about last week went really well. They loved the randomness of the prizes and the unpredictably. Their favorite was by far Bazinga! I wish I had pictures but I forgot to take them the first day, and they finished the game with the sub while I was out.

It finally warmed up enough for outdoor recess! These fifth graders were like bears coming out of hibernation!  Such a gorgeous day for it, too!

Test taking strategies were so much more fun with Jamie Sears's Game Day Test Prep! We made a game day playbook with all the things they can do to succeed on game day.

Fifth grader funny... When I was going over our afternoon schedule, I told them we would be doing a test prep craftivity along with our playbooks. I went on through the rest of our plans, and a few minutes later, one of my boys said, "I see what you did there." I was totally lost, so I asked him what he meant. "Craft, activity. I see what you did there." I guess this was the first time I've used that word. Or the first time he was listening. You never know.

I saw this on Facebook and just had to share. I feel this way pretty frequently.  Usually after I run in to grab a single pack of post it notes!

A quick peek at my week:
We have standardized testing Monday through Thursday this week.  We have motivational messages on the paper covering our walls, fresh new pencils with rubber grippers, and ill be picking up peppermints and reward tickets tomorrow on my way to school.

If the weather is nice, our afternoons will be filled with recess and The Walking Classroom. Fingers crossed!

If you have fabulous testing afternoon activities,  I'd love to hear them. My afternoon plans are pretty flexible this week, and I'm still looking for a couple of fun activities for Wednesday and Thursday.

Hope everyone has a great week!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Tried it Tuesday - Stitch Fix!

I tried something new this past week, and I am SO excited about it! Disclaimer up front: This post is not going to have a thing to do with teaching (aside from the fact that we all need work clothes!).

I keep seeing everyone else's blog and Facebook posts about their Stitch Fix boxes arriving, and I finally decided to give it a try! Where I live, our shopping options are rather sparse. Although I live an hour outside of Nashville, where there's great shopping, I never have time to make a trip down there.

Enter Stitch Fix.

For those of you who aren't familiar, Stitch Fix is a subscription service, like BirchBox, Ipsy, and others, but for clothes. Here's how it works:

  • Create your Style Profile, a relatively short, but thorough, survey about your style preferences, size, and amounts you usually spend on different clothing items. 
  • Select from their available shipping dates.
  • Your stylist uses your style profile to select 5 items to send you.
  • Receive your box, and try everything on at home. This way you can get feedback from your spouse or friends, and try things on with clothes and accessories you already own.
  • Keep what you want, send back what you don't - in a prepaid USPS envelope (couldn't be easier!)
  • Hop online, tell your stylist what you thought about everything, and pay for the things you kept.

You can sign up for automatic monthly shipments or just one shipment at a time, which I loved. There is a $20 styling fee that you pay before they ship your box, but if you keep anything, it counts as a credit towards your purchase. And if you keep everything, you get 25% off!

Here's a peek at my box (sorry these pics aren't the greatest):
Claudia Banded Dolman Sleeve Top - This fit really well, but I wasn't sure about the color on me. Fortunately, I tried it on again after my hair appointment. Now that my hair color is just a little darker, I love this color! It was a little more than I usually spend on a knit top, but I'm keeping it! Bonus - they are made in the USA!

Carter Skinny Ankle-Length Jeans - I loved how soft these are and the color, but they just didn't fit :( They went back. These were made in the USA too, and I have to say, I'm loving that Stitch Fix sent me items made here!

Gardiner Floral Dot Print Henley Blouse - Another home run. This shirt is super soft and pretty. I also loved that the sleeves can be worn down or rolled up with an attached loop to hold them in place. The stitching and buttons on this shirt are noticeably high-quality.

Clarita Airy Knit Hi-Lo Sweater - I loved the cheerful color of this sweater right out of the box. I was a little town on the length in the back, but ultimately found it just needed a pair of super skinny pants to look great. This is another keeper. Bonus - I wore it to school last week, and got compliments from a handful of people (including discriminating 5th grade girls!).

Garvey Tribal Print Open Front Cardigan - I was dead set on sending this one back when I first looked at it. But...my friend and my husband both really liked it, so I tried it on a couple more times. Ultimately, I decided to keep it. I'm trying to branch out in my wardrobe anyway. I wore it yesterday, and really like it. I just need to get the right shirt to wear underneath.

My FAVORITE part: They include these awesome styling cards to help you figure out how to wear each piece! Plus, my stylist included a personal note with some tips and reasons she chose certain pieces. I'm aleady signed up for my March Stitch Fix, and I can't wait!

Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post; I have paid for my fix on my own and have not been given any type of compensation for this review. I do however receive a small referral credit if you follow my link, so if you want to try it, just click one of my links to head on over to Stitch Fix and get started!

Sunday, February 16, 2014

A Peek at My Week - 2/16/14

It's Sunday, so I'm linking up with Jennifer at Mrs. Laffin's Laughings for A Peek at My Week!

Thanks to some snow and now President's Day, we are on our THIRD 4-day week in a row! I don't know how I'm going to handle going back to actual 5-day work weeks next week! Our district has standardized testing NEXT week (so soon!) and we will be spending this week reviewing test taking skills and playing some review games. Year after year, kids swear to me that they've never heard of something I know they've been taught every year since first grade, like the water cycle. So we'll be doing some review this week of things I know they *should* know, but have probably forgotten we ever discussed. You know, to make sure they remember that we really DID learn about graphs this year...AND the difference between Patriots and Loyalists!

Last year, my team and I split up the review activity responsibilities, and we ended up with three different Jeopardy games. It worked for review purposes, but we were ALL so tired of Jeopardy! This year, I deliberately looked for different games to keep our kids engaged and interested. Since they aren't finished yet most of you don't take the same standardized tests we do, I'm not going to share our actual review games, but I will share the super fun review game templates that we are using. Best of all, they were all FREE on TPT!

Love, War, and Lightning - In this game, you type your own questions into a PowerPoint template.  When students answer a question correctly, they click a treasure chest to be taken to a random prize. They can either gain or lose points, or be required to trade points with another team. I love the randomness, and the fact that they will have to do some strategic thinking!

Bazinga! - This game shares some similarities with the first one, in that there are different "prizes", and some of them aren't very helpful to your team! Prizes include adding to your score, taking away from your score or another team's score, taking one point from your team and giving it to another team. In addition to point activities, there are action prizes, which require either that team or the entire class to do silly, silly things, like standing on one foot, a 10 second crazy dance, and making animal noises. I think the kids will get a kick out of it!

Treasure Hunt - This game is PERFECT for math review, because the game board is on PowerPoint, but the questions are done on paper. It works kind of like "Punch a Bunch" from The Price is Right. There are detailed rules at the end of the PowerPoint, but basically, the teacher creates game sheets with 6 math problems on each page, and students work independently at first, then are able to compare their answers with their team. She suggests 10 minutes total per round, allowing them to work together when 4 minutes remain. Correct answers get a "punch" on the board to reveal a prize. Repeat for as many rounds as needed to review all  you want!

Flash Jeopardy Game - Ok, so I said no Jeopardy, but this one is actually pretty cool. It's a Flash game instead of the usual PowerPoint style, and it's really easy to input questions and keep score.

I'm off to watch Walking Dead with the hubby, and then finish up these review games tomorrow. Have a good week, everyone!

P.S.: I finally decided to step into Facebook world with this little blog, so if you'd like to get blog updates, freebies, and whatever else I think is worthy of sharing, head on over and "like" my page at facebook.com/chalkandapples. You can also find me on Instagram at instagram.com/chalkandapples.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Vocabulary study that works (for my class at least!)

I have spent the last three years trying different ways of teaching basic vocabulary with my students, never feeling like I had found a system that really worked. Finally, I have a system I like! I know I'm not the only one who struggles with the "how" of teaching vocabulary, so I wanted to share what's working in my class. Since my students are now so much more motivated to actually learn their words (and not just memorize them for the test), I'm linking up for Spark Student Motivation Saturday.

I do vocabulary in conjunction with Daily 5's Word Work. Last year, I frequently felt rushed with 4 days a week to teach and testing on Fridays, so this year, I switched to a 6 day cycle for reading & Daily 5. This way, we always have 5 days of instruction (regardless of holidays, snow days, etc.) and then an assessment day. I LOVE the freedom it allows and the flexibility to roll with the inevitable schedule changes, especially in the winter.

I am currently using Reading Olympians as my guide for vocabulary. By 5th grade, I feel like they really need to learn word parts and how to use them to decode unknown words rather than just memorizing vocabulary lists that they will likely forget next week. I love that this simplifies the process of choosing roots for each week. I've since found several other products on TPT that are similar, and all look great, but this is the one I chose at the time, and I've been pleased, although we don't follow their lesson plans.
Day 1:
Whole Group - I introduce a set of 10 word parts (roots, prefixes, or suffixes). We go over the word part and its meaning, and students write them in their word work notebook, skipping lines between them.
Center Rotations - During one of the rotations on day 1, everyone MUST list 5 words that use each word part. I tell them that they have to actually be able to tell what the word means to write it down, so they will pay attention to meanings and not just words!


Day 2 Whole Group - I make a quick poster (usually just on the back of some scrap paper) for each word part and students have 5 minutes to write one of the words they listed for each word part on the posters - sorry, I forgot to take pictures last week. The rule is that they can't copy one that's already on the poster. Then we go over the posters, which usually have at least a dozen words on them within the time limit, and decide "as a class" which words will be our vocabulary words for the week. Granted, I sometimes  guide them to choosing the word I want, but you know how that goes!

Days 2-5 Centers - Students have to complete 3 more word work activities over the four days, choosing from the activities in my Word Work for Big Kids pack (in my store on TPT). These activities are done using the vocabulary words we selected as a group, so they really take ownership of what they are learning.
*This has been recently updated with 5 new activities, so if you purchased it, go to TPT to re-download for free!

Days 3-5 Whole Group - We play a short game with the vocabulary words at the beginning of reading. Sometimes it's Sparkle (because they have to spell the words right on their tests). Sometimes I play 5 Clues (from my Word Work for Big Kids packet, but it's basically played like 20 questions, only shorter). Sometimes I make up a game on the fly. I try to mix it up, but they love the game aspect.

Assessment - Rather than fill in the blank tests, that are usually pretty easy when you have a list of mostly unrelated words, I have students write the word, a definition in their own words, and a "Super Sentence" that shows the meaning of the word. I have found this to be a much better way of assessing their true knowledge of the words rather than their guessing ability!

We also do a quick matching test of the roots and on Schoology, which grades the test for me (woohoo!). I allow that test to be retaken later on until they reach mastery (the stickers are for 90% or better), and we keep a chart in the classroom of their progress. As you can see, we have a little work to do on the Athena set!

I'd love to give away a couple of sets of my Word Work for Big Kids, so if you'd like a copy, pin it, and paste the URL into a comment below about how you would use it in your class. I'll use random.org to pick three winners sometime on Tuesday. Make sure that you leave an email if you are a  no-reply blogger!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Giveaway Winners!

Good morning everyone! I'm just popping in before school to announce the winners of my 100 follower giveaway! Drumroll, please....

Purple Palmetto, you won Prize Pack #1!

Amy W., you won Prize Pack #2!

And as you can see, we have three winners for two prizes. That's thanks to my over-excited mouse clicking. I accidentally chose 3 winners, so Angela A., I am giving a bonus prize to you! You will win your choice from my TPT store, up to $10!

Congratulations! I will be emailing the winners later today. Have a great Tuesday!