Monday, July 13, 2015

What Happens In Vegas Changes Your Life!!...

Hi everyone!!

I just had the most life changing and fulfilling learning experience this week.
I did something out of the norm for me. I stepped WAY out of my comfort zone. 
What did I do, you may ask? 
I left everything familiar, hopped on a plane, and went to meet a bunch of people that I did not really know in Vegas. Today I am linking up with Mrs. Plemons' Kindergarten and the Elementary Entourage to tell you about my life changing experience in Las Vegas!
I knew last year when I saw how much fun everyone was having and how much they were learning that I had to go to the TPT conference this year. My youngest daughter was only 9 months old last summer, so I couldn't swing it. Around early February this year, I discussed Vegas with my husband and he said to go for it. So I booked it!... cue scary music.
Let me explain myself and the scary music. I am introverted. I am not good with introducing myself to others. I get easily nervous around everyone, especially people that I don't know. Will they laugh at me? Will I be shunned? Would anybody talk to me? AHHHH!!!
As the days approached to the conference, I was very excited, but I was so nervous to the point that it was making me sick. I know it sounds silly, but that's how nervous I get. I had NO idea what to expect. Things changed when I finally got myself into the mind set that I was going to "put myself out there".
July 8th- 7:30 am...Here I am boarding the plane. There was no turning back now.

By the time that I got to Vegas, my mind set already was beginning to change. I was more excited than nervous as you may be able to tell from this picture. 

I met my friend Amy at the airport and we took an airplane shuttle to the hotel. All was quiet on the shuttle and then I said the magical acronym... TPT. All of a sudden all of the TPT'ers on the shuttle started talking and new friends were being made. We ended up meeting up with some of them in the food court for lunch after we checked in. So far so good!

Then I met my awesome roommates!! I knew Amy from Learning LessonsWith Mrs. Labrasciano already, so that helped. Then I met my other 2 roommates, Cassie from Adventures in Teaching and Tanesha from Raising Rigor and Readers-- and we got along great!! 

As I walked through the Venetian, I started meeting SO many people. AND they knew me...lil' ol me! I didn't think anybody would give me the time of day and I couldn't be more wrong...everyone was SO nice!! I met up with a bunch of other 1st grade teachers that I collaborate with & every single one of them were AMAZING!!

Now the moment of truth...the big blogger meet up. And when I say big, I mean 1100 people big...YIKES!! Way out of my comfort zone. Would this be my moment of disaster?
Well... The blogger meet up was EPIC!!! Never in my life have I had more fun! Everyone was fantastic!!! It was so great meeting blogger friends that I have communicated with via social media for years. Like I said I would earlier, I just put myself out there and walked up and introduced myself to people! It couldn't have been a better night.

YES that is Cara Carroll from The First Grade Parade!! Starstruck!! I was also so excited to meet Vera from The Tutu Teacher and Jillian from The Star Spangled Planner!!!
Katie from Little Warriors

This amazing girl right here is one of the first girls that I ever got to know virtually...Stephanie from Falling Into First ! Sweetest girl ever!

The next day, the TPT conference began and I already had the confidence built up from the day before. It was no longer a big deal to just be able to walk up to people and introduce myself. Here are some more people that I was lucky enough to meet from the networking session in the morning!
Jennifer from First Grade Blue Skies and Susan from Thank God It's First Grade!!

And this truly made my day...
I {Puffy Heart} love this girl right here...Kelley from Teacher Idea Factory! She is such an amazing person!!

All of my faves right here! Love you girls!!

What was just as amazing was the TPT conference itself. I couldn't be more inspired or grateful to the TPT team. I was lucky enough to get a picture with Paul, the founder himself!

Rachel Lynette was so inspiring in her keynote. Her story as one of a struggling single mom truly touched my heart as she worked her way up, and it was especially interesting to know that she started on TPT due to an ad on...Craigslist!! It's truly heartwarming to know as educators and creators, that TPT came from being on Craigslist to the company it has become today.
I went to so many inspirational sessions and picked up new tips and tricks from each session. Everything was so valuable! I loved my session with the Deanna Jump and Deedee Wills. They did wonderful presenting together!

My 3 days in Vegas were a whirlwind! I went to meetups and made the most of my Vegas experience. I even won a giveaway from The Primary Pack's meetup. Woohoo!!!
and I met this awesome gal who I've been talking with for years!!!

As quick as it began, my time in Vegas was over. However, I am forever grateful for this experience in so many ways! 
I learned that:
1) Stepping out of your comfort zone is something that you won't end up regretting. It truly changes your outlook on everything. It has changed my perspective on putting myself out there and meeting new people!
2) Hard work and dedication to my creations will pay off in the long run.
3) Find your tribe... this saying has been going around lately and I have found my #teachertribe of friends who I can collaborate with and talk to about anything. We have each other's back and not only are we teachers, but friends.
4) Empower everyone who is around you! This is not only about you or me, but we are all in this together.
As happy as I was to come home from Vegas, I felt a little empty inside to leave after meeting so many inspirational people. Until next year, #tptvegas16!
On that note, I leave you with this final thought as I prepare to move on with my summer...

Read about other Vegas experiences here at the Elementary Entourage!!

Sunday, July 5, 2015

It's a Shark Week Blog Hop!!!

All teachers know that kids learn more when they’re excited and engaged. Today a team of bloggers come together to help your students take a BITE out of learning with a theme your students are sure to love! 
  My Shark Week freebie is a word sort that helps students to practice reading words with  r-controlled vowels, specifically /ar/ words, in a fun and engaging way.

Students will read each word card and place it on the mat that it belongs on. This would make a great center activity for students in grades K-2 and allows for students to practice independently. Following the word sort, students will complete a page where they write the words into the correct category to show you what they know.

fintastic freebie

Click the picture above to download this freebie! Thanks for swimming by!

Be sure to continue swimming and visit Adventures of Room 129 next. Click on her button to take you there!

Every blog in the Shark Week Blog Hop features a jawesome freebie for you and your students- but hurry! Shark Week only lasts until Sunday, July 12  : )

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Currently July!!!

Woah! I've blogged twice in a must be summer time!! :-)
Today I'm linking up with Farley at Oh Boy 4th Grade for Currently!!!

July is an insanely busy month for me...but in a GREAT way! I am going to meet a ton of my best bloggy buds in Vegas next week. This is definitely a new, exciting, and a bit of a nerve wracking experience for me. Will everybody like me? Will I get lost? Will I be sitting in a corner by myself? I've decided to go and just put myself out there. I am as down to earth and nice as they come, so why should I be nervous, right?...Right- I hope I can keep myself convinced of that.

I'm listening to HGTV on Hulu right now. The hubs and I just took a leap of faith & decided to get rid of our cable TV. Our cable company raised our bill to $200 a month, so I said no way! We canceled our cable, upped our internet speed, and just have Netflix and Hulu. And you know what? I couldn't be happier about that. There is so much to choose from, so I have no regrets!

I'm LOVING that TPT Vegas is exactly 1 week from today! OMG!!!! However, I need to pack, pack, pack and all of my outfits are currently being shipped in the mail. Here's hoping that they will be here in time! That's what I get for being a procrastinator.

I'm wanting this headache to go away! This annoying headache that I've had for 3 days now! I suspect it's because I've been on my computer a lot lately for one reason or another. I think my brain needs a break!

I NEED to desperately organize my house. We would love to sell our house soon, but being that our house is 17 years old, it's starting to show it's age. We have a lot of painting & cleaning up to do and quite honestly, I haven't been the most motivated lately since I'm trying to reap all of the benefits that summer break has to offer!

My All STAR trait: I am a great listener.
Maybe I should consider being a therapist as my second career if teaching doesn't work out. I love to listen and help people solve their problems! So if anyone needs a friend to listen in Vegas, here I am!! (or anytime if you're not in Vegas!)

So what is going on in your life Currently? Link up with Farley and tell us about it!

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Tips on How To ROCK Your First Year of Teaching!!

Hello Teaching Rock Stars!!

I hope many of you are off to a wonderfully relaxing summer!! I have been taking advantage of sleeping in (well having 2 young children, sleeping in is until 7:00, but I will take it!), having fun with family/friends, and enjoying every single STRESS-FREE minute!

One thing that the summer always allows me to reflect on is my teaching practices. I've been teaching first grade for 11 years now- it's hard to believe it's been that long. Even though I've been in first grade for that long, I am still open to changing and adjusting my teaching practices year after year. Today I'm going to share some of my best tips for first year teachers and for teachers who are still new in the field!

As I think back to my beginning years of teaching, it's like WOAH--night & day. I started teaching back in 2005, before the world of blogging, TPT, and very little advice or inspiration was out there. Don't get me wrong, I was very enthusiastic as a beginning teacher, but the world of blogs & teaching has just turned my teaching world 180!
I'll be honest, I think back and {cringe} a little bit... because what I know now compared to what I did then has been such a learning experience for me. So I am more than happy to be able to share some of my best learning experiences with you!
So let's start with...

1. I am VERY much about explicit routines & procedures. This wasn't always the case, but I can tell you this is one of my MOST important tips! If you want to set the tone of your classroom in a positive direction for the entire year... explain and implement your procedures from DAY 1. A typical first day in my classroom is come in, say goodbye to your parents, work on a coloring sheet that I have on their desks, and then we come down to the carpet, and discuss each and every classroom rule in detail. It is an open discussion of modeling and examples, but they know that I mean what I say and say what I mean. Not only do I do this on Day 1, but we reinforce & review on Day 2, 3, 4, and 5. What I notice from this is that my classroom runs smoothly and efficiently, year after year.

2. Be willing to learn from others! After 11 years of teaching the same grade level, I openly admit that I still do not know everything there is to know about teaching. Have an open mind when it comes to taking advice and learning new things from veteran teachers, administration, etc. Your willingness to learn new things with an open mind will make you a stronger teacher than you could've imagined.

3. Be consistent! This ties in with number 1. If you aren't consistent with your expectations and routines, more than likely you will be heading up a rocky road. Your students are relying on you to lead the way. They need the consistency and structure from y-o-u. They will test your limits and they have to see that your limits can not be broken. You've got this! :-)

It's bound to happen... you will make mistakes! We're human. We all make mistakes! However, it's what you do to change them after you reflect on them. Here are the top two things that I learned as a beginning teacher:

1. Do not compare yourself to other teachers about everything! Give yourself the benefit of the doubt. You. are. learning! You are not going to be the best teacher that you can be the first year, second year, third year, and so on. It's a learning process. open to learning from your colleagues; however, do not make it a comparison of your professional worth. Each year we learn something new. Each year we become a little better and more confident at what we do. Give yourself time to flourish as an educator.

2. Do not put too much on your plate at the beginning! It is great to be involved in your school, but with new teacher programs to complete, learning how to do lesson plans, learning the curriculum, parent/teacher conferences, behavior incentives, IEPs, PSTs/AIPs or whatever acronym your district calls it, the worst thing you can do is spread yourself too thin. Sure it's nice to be involved to be on the SAC committee or PTA or run after school clubs, but you need to take the time to focus on yourself, your family, and your students' needs.
It's hard to pick just one piece of advice to give you, because I could honestly write a book full of advice! The best piece of advice I can give you is:
The teaching profession is forever changing. The pendulum swings one way and then swings the other way. It does get frustrating... one year you learn a new program and then next year it is obsolete. However, an open and positive attitude when facing challenges and changes will help you make it through. As hard as it is, this is my mantra. It is easy to be brought down by the negativity around you. Many people are naturally resistant to change. Do NOT let others affect your positive energy and bring you down. Remember who you are there for! Your students follow your lead. Just remember during the tough times of teaching...this too shall pass. And it will...

I hope some of these tips that I have learned over the years will help you as first year/beginning teachers! Like I said, after 11 years, I still continue to learn day after day, year after year. It is a continuous cycle of reflection and learning.

To end this post, I am going to share one of my favorite inspirational teaching quotes:

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Dr. Seuss Is About to Be on the Loose + Upcoming SALE

Happy End of February Friends!,

I don't know where this school year is going, but it is flying by faster than any other school year, IMO! Before you know it spring will be here (I'm sure my northern friends are wishing for this on a daily basis!)
So next week marks one of my favorite themes to teach this school year: Read Across America/ Dr. Seuss!! I am so excited to receive this shirt that I ordered from Claire Lynn Designs in the mail:
Grade Rocks! (Dr. Seuss)

ADORBS!!! Isn't it?!?
Next week we are doing a culmination of non-fiction study and snacks to celebrate our friend, Theodor Seuss Geisel. I have my favorites ready and so much more:

I don't know if you saw, but sweet Michelle over at Apples and ABC's found these Dr. Seuss videos for $7 at Target!!! Say what?!?! You better believe I ran there as fast as I could.
We will be starting off our week next week with my brand new non-fiction unit: Let's Talk About Theodor Seuss Geisel.

 I don't know about you, but my students just LOVE nonfiction studies. It opens up a whole new world of interest for them! To prep, I have printed out these vocabulary cards and colorful posters. As with any unit, I always like to address the vocabulary first and foremost. I cut out the vocabulary card and place them in our vocabulary corner on our whiteboard.

For the younger grades, I like to keep information simple. Therefore, I created these colorful posters with each aspect of Dr. Seuss's life that we will review throughout the week and use to complete our Theodor Seuss Geisel Fact Keepers! I leave these up on the board throughout our study. My students love these fact keepers with all of our nonfiction units, because it's a keepsake that they can take home and look back on whenever they want.

 Incorporating writing is a huge importance to me in the classroom. We use thinking maps several times a week. Once we learn the information on the posters, we will be filling out these graphic organizers and putting our thoughts together into writing.
 Perhaps my MOST favorite part of this unit is the Theodor Seuss Geisel book study flip book that I created. We are going to pick 4 Dr. Seuss books and we will discuss our favorite part, characters/setting, problem/solution, predictions, and summarizing. Of course for the book study, I will be choosing from books of substance, not just the rhyming books of "Go Dog Go", so it aligns with the activities of the flip book.
Due to popular request, I am selling this in it's entirety as a unit or with the flip book by itself.
For the entire UNIT: click HERE
For the flip book only: click HERE
 Of course, no Dr. Seuss unit would be complete without some snacks. Have you seen this amazing website with 25 different Dr. Seuss snacks? We will be borrowing a few ideas for next week...
Dr. Seuss Snack Ideas
Click HERE above to explore!!
 Now for some more exciting news, TPT has announced their Teachers are Heroes sale on Wednesday February 25th!!! There is so much to grab!! Click on the button to check out my store!!

I hope this gave you some ideas!! Happy Seuss Week!!