Saturday, November 28, 2015

Top 3

Hi!  Today I am linking up with Jen from Teaching in the Tongass for a top 3 linky!  I am going to be showcasing the top 3 wish listed products in my store.

1. Writing Workshop Resources-This is a phenomenal supplemental resource for any writing workshop or writing program.  It's loaded with printables, anchor charts, and resources to use in any k-2 classroom.  I use pieces from this packet daily and can't imagine my writing instruction without it!  Click the cover below to check it out.

2. 1st Grade Guided Reading Bundle-I might be a little bias, but I believe this to be the best resource that I have in my classroom.  Full of appropriate phonics/word study activities for each guided reading level {pre-readers through J/K}, this pack will nicely supplement your guided reading instruction.  I plan each group using activities from this bundle.  With such a range of levels, planning can be time-consuming.  This pack is truly a life and time-saver!  You can click the cover below to check out this awesome bundle!

3.  Differentiated Graphic Organizers-Ok, so I know I said my guided reading bundle is the best resource that I have in my  classroom but I am also very partial to my differentiated graphic organizers!  These are super awesome for: whole-group instruction, guided reading, RTI, etc.  At the start of the year, I copy about 20-25 of each organizer.  I keep them in an organizer like the one shown below.  If I need a page on the fly or as a quick filler for a substitute, etc, I can grab one to use with ANY book!  They are great to have on hand.

Happy Shopping!  My whole store is 20% off this Monday, November 30 through Tuesday, December 1!  Use code "SMILE" for an additional 10% off from TpT!


Thursday, November 26, 2015

5 for Friday

Hi everyone!  I hope you are having a fantastic holiday week!  I am linking up with Doodle Bugs Teaching for another 5 for Friday today!  Here we go:

It's almost time to bust out the little Elf on a Shelf!  It's always a hit in the classroom!  I really don't mind moving an elf around the room if it means keeping my sanity those 3 weeks in December.  To assist with the "Elf-capades," I use everything in my "Let Me Take an Elfie" pack!  I always begin with the letter included and the name-voting ballots.  After we've chosen a name, I introduce the elf journals and we write a little each day.  This cute little pack is all I need to use with my classroom elf!  Check it out below.  *To see more of my Christmas resources, click HERE.

Photo courtesy of my sis-in-law, Kim and her elf!

I may or may not have spent Thanksgiving week in Florida!  Mr. Wheeler and I went down with my brother, his wife, my niece, and my parents.  It was a great week!  The time definitely flew by, per usual!  I spent the trip eating, playing with my cutie niece, sight-seeing, relaxing, shopping, eating, swimming, and eating.  Get me to the gym as soon as possible!

You might have seen me post about Ibotta here or on my Facebook fan page.  I love saving money and sharing my thrifty knowledge with others!  I recently discovered Ebates, which is pretty amazing. It's another free app/website!  Yay!  You just shop through the app/website {there are TONS of stores on it...pretty much any store you can think of} and get cash back.  Each quarter, you will receive a check.  Yes.  A check.  Cash money.  Oh, and for the first purchase you make, you get $10.00 in your account to start you off.  You can sign up using this link here.  You will love it!!!

I did a little Black Friday shopping online last night.  I ended up getting a lot from Ulta {love that store!} and Vera Bradley {a gift for my mom's birthday}.  From Ulta, I got some new Bare Minerals makeup, Soap and Glory hand lotion, some body cream, and a few other goodies!  I am excited for my package to arrive...there were a lot of gifts with purchase and free samples!

Every year since I can remember, my mom and I have broken the wishbone in the turkey.  This year was no exception!  I got the bigger half and made my wish!

Happy Black Friday!  Don't spend too much!  Keep your eyes peeled for a TpT sale soon!


Monday, November 23, 2015

Fishing for Sight Words

High interest and spiral review are two things I keep in mind when finding or creating literacy center materials for my first graders.  Each week, I have 5 centers:  sight word center, listening center, computer center, and two word work centers.  I try to theme out the centers with the holidays/special days as much as possible.  Last week, I introduced a fun new sight word center:  fishing for sight words.  To make a fishing center you will need the following:  blue fabric, fish cut-outs, paper clips, and fishing poles.  I had been using old fishing poles that I made many moons ago with dowel rods and magnets but this year I decided to up my game and buy some actual fishing poles from Lakeshore Learning!  They are super cute!  To prep the game, just get some fish cut-outs and write the words of your choice on them.  Laminate and cut.  Add a paperclip.  Sprinkle on the blue fabric {pond} for added fun!  Kids take turns "fishing" for words and reading the words aloud in sentences. Easy center!  Not feeling like prepping your own fish?  I created a pre-made set for you with the Fry's First 100 sight words!  Fish cards are coded by lists 1a, 1b, 1c, and 1d.  Just print, laminate, and cut. The pack also includes recording sheets.  Click the cover below to check it out!

To see more fun sight word activities, click the photo below!


Sunday, November 22, 2015

Turkey Trot Blog Hop

Hi, friends!  Thank you to my bestie Jess for sending you my way!  Gobble, Gobble!  Some of my favorite bloggers and I have teamed up to offer you freebies to show how thankful we are for you!  Today, I am offering 4 free graphic organizers to you.  This is a sample from my "Differentiated Graphic Organizers" pack.  This is such a wonderful resource to have on hand for whole-class reading instruction, guided reading, or those "on the fly" moments when you need a little something.  I have all of my organizers printed and in file folders so they are always ready. Click the cover below to grab a free sample from this pack.  

Thank you for stopping by!  Trot on over to Lori's blog, Teaching with Love and Laughter, where you can snag another great freebie!  *And thank you, Lori, for making our button for the hop!  Happy Turkey Day!  


Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Kagan Conference

Last week, I had the opportunity to attend a Kagan Cooperative Learning workshop in Indiana.  I had been anticipating the workshop for quite some time, as I'd heard all about Kagan over the years.  I knew I wanted to learn more!  I made the trip by myself, which is often the case when I seek out PD. Upon arrival, there were materials at my seat, including the "Cooperative Learning" book, which is loaded with tips and tricks for implementing Kagan in the classroom.

The workshop was led by Bill Stater, a certified Kagan Trainer.  He was a fantastic presenter full of energy, knowledge, and enthusiasm!  He kept my attention all day by adding humor and fun!  The day flew by and I didn't look at my watch/phone once.

We learned about 9 different Kagan "structures" at the workshop.  Some of my favorites are:  Find Someone Who, Rally Coach, and Round Robin.  As I was taking notes during the event, I found myself getting more and more excited about trying the structures in my room as soon as I got back. The beauty of Kagan is that there isn't a lot of prep-work involved.  That's huge.  Teachers do not need one more thing to add to our plates.  What we need are ideas for how to tweak what we are already doing!  I love that Kagan has kids up and moving.  Brain breaks are great but I don't always have time for them.  What I do have time for is continuing on with my curriculum while incorporating movement=Kagan.

There was plenty to look at during our breaks...tons of Kagan materials were available for purchase. I'm a natural born shopper, so I obviously left with an empty wallet!  I picked up the "Selector Tools" CD, which is awesome for randomly selecting students.  It includes 14 different selector options, including colors, dice, names, spinners, and more!  I also picked up the "Cooperative Learning for Primary" Kagan book.  It includes lots of pre-made activities using the 6 best structures to engage little learners.  Perfect for my first graders!  Finally, I purchased a "Kagan Structures Flip Chart" for easy reference in my classroom.  I knew I wanted to start implementing the structures as soon as possible, and there are many to choose from.  The flip chart that I purchased includes directions for 30 structures.  I have it on my desk for quick reference.  It's also perfect for planning and fits right into my school bag.

I had a 2 hour drive home and my mind was busy the whole time, thinking of ways I can implement the Kagan structures into my first grade classroom.  I highly recommend checking out Kagan Publishing and Professional Development.  You can visit their website at


Sunday, November 15, 2015

Guided Reading Happenings/Freebie

Hi everyone!  I hope you are making it through your last week before Thanksgiving!  We have the whole week of next week, which has never happened in my 13 years in my district.  I am pretty excited!  Today I wanted to quickly stop by to let you know some things we've been doing in guided reading.  I also am going to share a simple way to organize the materials in my Guided Reading Bundle.  And...if you hang around long enough, you can snag a freebie at the end of the post!

Each day we warm up with a quick word work activity.  I mostly use the things included in my guided reading bundle, but last week I switched it up and used my fluency strips.  The kids really loved them!

We also preview some vocabulary prior to reading.  We talk about words that they may not be familiar with.  This helps the kids when they have their first cold read of a new book.  It especially helps with those lower level groups.  Some of the vocab is just too difficult for them to decode on their own.  I keep the vocab words up on my mini-pocket chart for the two-three days we spend on a book.  The kids really do reference it.

I pull out the decoding strategy charts {FREEBIE ALERT!} each time we read.  These are great visual reminders for kids. Each child also has one in their data binder that they use at home when reading their book from group.  I like the keep the strategies authentic without gimmicks to help kids quickly remember what to do.

Many of you have asked how I organize the materials in the bundle.  I have used both clear tubs to organize by skill/level as well as binders by skill/level.  Both work very well.  It really depends on how much space you have.  If I had to choose one method, I would say I prefer the binder method for these reasons:

  • I can hole-punch printables and quick check assessments.  I don't have to dig through a tub to get to them.  
  • If I need to make my group mobile {computer lab, rug, hallway}, I can grab the binder and go. 
  • I use sheet protectors to house any cards/materials that aren't printable worksheets.  Again, this limits the digging in a tub.  
  • If I have help for groups, I can pass the binder to whomever is running the group and they can pull from it to plan.

We are really progressing with our reading.  I loved talking to parents at parent teacher conferences and hearing how much improvement they've noticed with their young readers!  You can check out my guided reading bundle below.  It is a phenomenal resource loaded with 1,300+ pages of goodness for first grade readers {Levels Pre-Reader through J/K}.  Click the cover below to download a preview and read all about what's included.

*If you own the bundle, you will want to re-download because I've added some ink-friendly binder covers!

I also have a kindergarten guided reading bundle that contains 600 pages full of activities for kinder readers {Levels Pre-Reader through D}.  Click the cover below to download a preview and read all about what's included.

*If you own the bundle, you will want to re-download because I've added some ink-friendly binder covers!

Need some guidance on planning for your groups?  Check out this free Guided Reading Planner for tips!  I share how I use those precious 20 minutes!

To see more guided reading posts from my blog, click the image below!