Tuesday, July 15, 2014

My Vegas Blessings: TpT 2014 Sellers Conference

I know you might be thinking . . . Not another Vegas post!  Yep, you’re right it’s another one. And if you are sick of seeing all the pictures and reading about the great week we all had, then by all means, you have my permission to skip this post.  I completely understand that it might be getting to be a bit much.  (But please start saving your pennies because I would love to see you there next year!) But if you have any interest at all in knowing how Vegas left my heart FULL and me feeling blessed then here’s my recap. 

Photo courtesy of What the Teacher Wants.  Maria from Kinder-Craze, Me, Mary from Sharing Kindergarten and Jodi from Fun in First Grade

I think the reason that everyone who attended Vegas is on an incredible 'high' right now is that for many months out of the year, teachers are confined to their rooms with their students and have very little, if any, interaction  with other adults.  Face it!  Teaching is a pretty isolated profession.  We spend our days with children because we love them and that is our calling, but most of us have very little chance to collaborate and work with other teachers.

Then comes the Internet and our world as teachers has suddenly become a million times smaller.  We can chat with like-minded educators, share our stories, our concerns and our daily happenings.  The Internet, blogging, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and, yes, TpT has opened made the teacher world a much smaller place, more intimate, friendly and there is suddenly a feeling of community!   Unfortunately, for many of us, this community only happens in the cyberworld, but for those of us that were lucky enough to travel to Vegas last week, our cyber world suddenly came to life.  We were able to meet, speak with and hug on the teacher friends we have been familiar with only through the Internet.  It was incredibly surreal and amazing at the same time. 

I was so humbled by the amazing teachers I was able to meet.  Teachers just like me that were looking for ways to improve their own instruction, teachers who I have been reading and admiring for years and teachers who I have chatted with via email or Facebook and who I have called 'friends' but who I were just now meeting. 

My heart was and still is SO full.

Was it fun?  Absolutely.  Whenever you get the opportunity to hang with 'friends' it's going to be fun.  I was lucky enough to get to room with one of my bestest blogging buddies, Maria from Kinder-Craze.   She is so incredibly smart, and I love collaborating and working on new ideas with her.

It also felt a little bit like seeing family.  Annie Moffatt has been my cyber pal for years now, and we had never met in real life until Vegas.  She is just as lovely, humble and sweet as she seems on her blog.  I just adore her.  I am definitely claiming her as my other sister and making myself an honorary Moffatt Girl.

But mostly . . . it was just fun!  My Freebie friends are the best.  Jennifer, from First Grade Blue Skies, is just as smart and funny as she seems on her blog.  Honest.

The blessings of Vegas continued when I was able to meet teachers who I admired and followed for years.  Do you know Deedee Wills the hardest working kindergarten teacher ever?  Like who doesn't right.  She is so gracious, giving and witty.  And Deanna Jump is as down to earth as your next door neighbor.  Her opening statements at the TpT conference left an audience of 800 teachers crying, laughing and totally inspired. 

It was a blessing to be present for that first ever TpT conference and to hear the words of our founder Paul Edelman.  His story confirmed what everyone already knew about him.  As once a teacher himself, he is committed to empowering teachers.  He has given teachers wings and opened up a whole new world of collaboration between teachers throughout the world.  We all have benefited from his vision.   

Finally, working with the Freebielicious girls in our I Teach K booth was amazing. These ladies are the best of the best in the teacher world, and I get to call them my friends.  Together, we all share a common goal for Freebielicious; to provide quality FREE products for teachers and their students.  But the greatest blessing we had was meeting and speaking with all of you.  Thanks to everyone and anyone who stopped by.  You will never know how blessed we are by your support and friendship.

Love you Freebie Girlies!

Monday, July 14, 2014

Back To School Panic Time and Something That Could Help Your Own BTS Planning.

I am officially in panic mode for Back To School.  When you walk into Office Max, Walmart, Target or wherever and this is what you see, it has a tendency to send chills right down even the most seasoned teacher.  I'm raising my hand to say I'm in terror mode and need to get going on my 'to-do' list.

I know none of you could possibly have this problem, but most nights I can't see the top of my kitchen table.  I have 4 or 5 or 10 projects going on at one time.  

"Sorry boys, I know it's raining out but we will be eating breakfast, lunch and dinner out on the deck again today.  Mom STILL hasn't cleared the table."  I'm the only one right?

And I'm so bummed that I didn't buy more of these little green tubes last summer because now I have spent half of this summer obsessed with searching for them online, and I can't find them anywhere.  (Why do you deny me Big Lots?  I love my green daily planning/word family storage totes! ~sniff, sniff)

The big 'to-do' I absolutely need to get off my list is to move all my thematic totes to my house! (Shhhh don't tell my hubs.  If I'm lucky and really sneaky, it won't figure out that I've turned our storage room in the basement into my private school room until hunting season when he goes looking for his gear.  By then, I'll have squatters rights to the space and I'll be home free.)  I really just need more space for my kinder friends to move and by getting a couple bookcases full of these out of the way, I won't have to give up the important stuff like sensory tables and dramatic play.  

But that's just the beginning of my back to school to do list.  There's so much more. My head is just a spinning.

So what about you?  Are you in your Back To School panic mode yet?  Well, maybe I and the girls from Freebielicious can help you out a bit. Once again, the girls have teamed up with Educents to bring you some instant downloads that will get your year off to a fabulous start.  This packet is loaded with fabulous products for back to school including book studies, craftivities, classroom prep packets and content material to get you ready.  There are 23 instant downloads in all.  You just HAVE to check them out.

Of course, I’ve added one of my most favorite new products to this pack that I know you’re just gonna LOVE.  It's part of the second generation of Word Families Galore!  

Word Families are one of my most popular products and this second generation is even bigger than the first packets. Here's just a few of the items you'll find in it.

For a limited time it and 22 other products from the Freebielicious sellers will be bundled and offered to you for $34.99 from Educents which is 68% off!  Twenty-three products for your kinder and first grade classrooms and over 1200 pages of materials from some of your favorite teachers!  It's a bundle you are sure to LOVE!

If you'd like to get more information on Back To School and the products offered in this pack, take a moment to take a peek at some of the other teachers featured in this bundle and their preparations for back to school as well as their featured item in this bundle.


Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Stitch Fix #6: A Giveaway for those at home and Vegas!

 Stitch Fix

As this post goes live, I’m heading to Vegas.  That’s right it’s I Teach K, I Teach 1st and SDE’s TpT Sellers Conference this week, and I’m headed out to hook up with some of my best blogging buddies and teachers from all over.

 Stitch Fix

So you can imagine that I was delighted to find out that my Stitch Fix would be arriving just days before my departure and just in time for Vegas!  Whew!  There's one last thing I wouldn't have to do before I leave.  I'm not that excited about shopping for myself in the first place, so when someone else will do it for me, it's always a plus.

 Stitch Fix

 Let me just briefly tell you how Stitch Fix works!  

How It Works:  Stitch Fix is a personal shopping/stylist service.  All you do is fill out a personal style profile and answer a few questions, and then for $20.00 a stylist picks out 5 items of clothing for you to try in the comfort of your own home.  Your stylist takes your personal styling preferences, size and even special events into consideration when planning your fix.  And if you have a hard time 'seeing' how pieces should be worn, they even send you a style guide to show you different ways to wear your 'fix' with items that you may already have in your closet.    After you try on the items they suggest, if you decide to keep them, you just go to their site and check out.  They apply your original $20 to the balance of your 'fix' plus you will earn 25% off you bill if you choose to keep your entire fix.

If you decide not to keep some of the items, just put them in the prepaid shipping bag that is included in your box, slip into to the nearest mailbox with the flag up and you're items are on their way.   Next, go to your account and check out by indicating which items you are going to keep and which you are returning.  It's really important to tell them what you did and did not like about your fix so they can learn more about you and your style each time.  It's really so much fun to see what my stylist picks out each time my box arrives.  I can't tell you what a wonderful little treat it is.

 Stitch Fix

I love how my stylist takes into consideration the other fix items I have kept and also what might work for my trip to Vegas!!!  They really pay attention, so make sure you tell them about those important events that are coming up on your calendar.

So let's take a look at my fix this time!  First up was this gorgeous Chevron Print Maxi Skirt.  This isn't the first maxi dress that Stitch Fix has sent me but the first one was so incredibly long and too big that I sent it back.  That was my first fix though, and I was crossing my fingers for this one.

I am so happy to report that the fit this time was absolutely PERFECT!!!  The length was right on and the size around the waist fit great.  I love that this skirt has the folded over top so that if you need to adjust the length you can, but you can see that this one fit very well.

Stitch Fix

 Next in my fix was a pair of Kensie Skinny Jeans.  Again, Stitch Fix tried sending me a pair of skinny jeans in the past, but the color was pink (I hate pink) and the length was about 6-8 inches too long.  I was hoping that this time I would have better luck.

Before I even tried this pair on, I had a good feeling that it might be a better fit from the description on the pocket label . . . 'Ankle Biter.'  Yep!  That pretty much sums up my height.  This might turn out ok after all.

And the verdict . . . a perfect fit.  I LOVE these jeans.  First of all, they called me 'skinny!'  What's not to love about a pair of jeans you can actually get on that's called 'skinny?'  I can't tell you how much I love these jeans.  It just goes to show you that 'fixes' get better and better each time as your preferences, sizes and styles become more familiar to your stylist.   
 Stitch Fix

The next item I tried on didn't have a stylist card which was kind of unusual.  But it didn't really matter, I knew as soon as I saw it in the box that I was going to LOVE this Heather Drape Cardigan.  It was perfect, except in the arms which were a bit tight.  So I requested Stitch Fix to send me a new one in a bigger size.  I can't wait for it to arrive because the color and style will be perfect for me. 
 Stitch Fix

My stylist also sent me this Sheer Cinched Waist Blouse.  It was really lovely sheer material with a dress tank underneath.  She suggested I try it on with a gold skirt or faded jeans, but I had neither.  So I just paired it up with a black striped shirt that I had.

 Stitch Fix
Unfortunately, I just didn't feel like the fit was very flattering for me.  It was a bit big in the waist and just kind of hung there on me.
 Stitch Fix

Lastly, I found a very Kelly green, Micah Ruffled Sleeveless Blouse.  It was suggested I try this on with a striped skirt.  I try, if at all possible, to try items on with items that my stylist suggests so I grabbed my skirt and tried to have an open mind.
 Stitch Fix

While it wasn't horrible by any means, I just couldn't stand the ruffles at my neck.  Even with it unbuttoned at the neck, the ruffles were bothersome to me.  

 Stitch Fix

So all in all, a successful 'fix.'  I kept the glorious skinny jeans, the amazingly cute maxi skirt, I am hoping to exchange the heather cardigan, and I'm returning the two blouses.  

If you'd like to find out more about Stitch Fix, you can click HERE to go to their website.  But in the meantime, why don't you just try and win a fix from me and my blogging bestie, Maria, from Kinder-craze.  We aren't just giving a way a fix on our blogs this week.  Heck, no!  It's Vegas week don't you know!  So we're also giving away a Stitch Fix gift certificate in Vegas as well. 

 Stitch Fix

Of course to win that one you have to come see us at Booth #115 in the Exhibitors Hall of the Venetian on Thursday.

But if you aren't in Vegas this week, don't fret.  We want you to have a chance to win too and win big!  How about a $50 gift certificate to get your started?  All you have to do is enter below.  


a Rafflecopter giveaway
Ok, now head on over to Maria's blog and make sure you check out her new fix and enter her giveaway as well.  And remember, stop by and see us on Thursday.


Monday, July 7, 2014

We're going to Vegas!

It’s finally here!  It's Vegas week!  

What’s so great about Vegas week?  Well, SDE has taken over the town with it’s I Teach K, I Teach 1st and TpT Seller conventions.  And that means hundreds of teachers are taking over Sin City as we speak as most of the conferences start tomorrow.  A bunch of my Freebie pals have already arrived and will be presenting this week.  I’ll be arriving on Wednesday and can hardly wait.  Of course, I'll be posting tons of pictures of all the fun, but we don't want you to feel left out if you're not going, so we have a few fun giveaways planned so you can feel like a Vegas 'winner' even from home.

Freebielicious is jumping into Vegas week with both feet.  There will be a huge HUGE giveaway over there that you won't want to miss and many other fun events and giveaways from Freebielicious authors.  So follow along on Freebielicous' Facebook page so you don't miss a thing.

 And, of course, I have a few giveaways of mine own planned.  Just make sure you're following me on Facebook and that you're liking my posts so that you get all my posts on your feed.  You won't want to miss a thing.

And please, go right now and make sure you follow me on Instagram.  I'll be sending you information both ways.  

If you happen to be in Vegas this week, then, by all means, get yourself to the Exhibitors hall and find booth #115.  That's the Freebielicious booth.  We are going to be there having a blast.  There will be a candy bar, photo booth, tons of giveaways and some freebies.  Plus, I can't wait to meet you, so make sure you come by on Thursday so we can snap a picture or two and so I can put faces with names.  I can't wait to meet you.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Daily 5: 2nd Edition-Daily 3 Math - My Differentiated Kinder Spin on it!

I need to start out this chapter first and foremost by saying that most of the time I was reading it, I felt like I was nodding in agreement, because it is basically very similar to how I structure my own math stations with a few adjustments.

In a similar fashion that Daily 5 teaches our students to be independently engaged in literacy activities so they can practice important skills, Daily 3 Math does the same for math.  The focus of Daily 3 Math is not to teach specific math content, but rather to give our students ample time to practice and explore math concepts through engaging (and I would add –differentiated) activities. 
The sisters break these activities into three categories

When I think about my own Math Stations, they clearly fall into one of these three areas easily.

Much like Daily 5, you lay the foundation for  independence through the 10 Steps to Independence’ including the creation of I-charts.  Without these, your stations can not run independently.  And like Daily 5, a short focus lesson is given before the first rotation and each subsequent rotation begins with another short lesson that gives guided practice to students.

So now your thinking to yourself, ‘Well ok, that’s all great and everything Marsha, but how are you going to organize it and how will it look?" 

Math Stations
Much like the 'sisters,' my math stations are a result of my desire to give my students ample time to practice and perfect basic math skills with engaging and DIFFERENTIATED activities. 

When and How Often
This schedule allows enough time for students to really get into their activities before having to rush off to another rotation.

Who and What

 Now I know that the 'sisters' believe that students should have the choice to go to whatever station they want, but that kind of choice just doesn't work for my students in kindergarten.  So instead of them having the choice to go to a specific station, they get other choices within math stations such as who they play with or where they work and what materials they use.

The Stations

Math by Myself can include a variety of activities such as Count, Color and Write Games, Self-Correcting Tens Frame Fun, Number Linking Activities and, my class favorite, Write the Room for Numbers.

For Math Writing, I usually have some kind of find motor or writing activity where students are practicing the mechanics of writing their numbers along with another skill that might complement the activity such as counting or counting on. 

Math with Someone means lots of interactive activities.  Sensory table sorting and games, number identification games like 'Lost My Lunch,' and number Yatta (This one is a freebie so make sure you click on the word YATTA to get the link to it) are just a few examples.

Differentiating It

Ok, so here is where it really gets interesting.  You know about the rotations and where the activities are stored and what types of activities are available, right?  Well now let me show you how they are organized within each drawer so that they are differentiated, and yet, students independently can determine which materials apply to them.

So one more time take a look at my rotation board.  Do you notice how each student has their name on a card that is either orange, green or blue?  Well those cards determine the level of difficulty for that student.  Please note that these cards are laminated and, quite often, just because a student is orange one time they may not be orange the next depending on the skills and concepts we are working with at the time. 

When you open a drawer to a station, you may find either poly envelops or zipper envelopes with materials inside.  Students who have their name written on a blue card would use the materials from the blue or blue labeled containers, orange from orange labeled and green from green labeled materials.

 I wanted to give you an idea of the activities that would typically be found my math stations because, lets face it, if you're like me, you need to see what it looks like.  So below you will find my actual visual plans from last fall.  These were my back to school math stations.  These were the stations that laid the foundation for so many of the games and activities that the students would be using for the rest of the year.

To see how I started my year out with these math stations, check out my blog post from last fall by clicking on the picture above or HERE.  It has a ton of details on getting your stations up and running.

 . . . and the teacher . . .
Well, once they have built stamina and independence with math stations, I have the flexibility and freedom to work with small groups assessing and having small group instruction. 

Math stations are seriously my favorite time of the day when they are up and running.  Even as the year progresses and the themes and seasons change, the activities are familiar and still engaging for the students so they continue to be independent.  By making sure I differentiate them, students are neither bored because they are too easy nor frustrated because they are too difficult.  They are engaged in meaningful activities that appeal to their learning profiles, interests and readiness levels.

If you'd like to know more about the math stations you saw in the pictures above, you can click HERE to see them.  In all, I have over 13 different 'Math Stations Galore' packets.  There are plenty from which to choose.

Now make sure you check out these other great bloggers and their take on Chapter 8.  


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