Saturday, July 30, 2011


Kristin at A Teeny Tiny Teacher is having a fabulous Barnes & Noble gift card giveaway!  Hop on over to her blog to find out how you can enter!

Teaching Literacy All Day Long!

I returned last night from our school retreat in Michigan.  We have done a retreat for the past three years, and it is a great time to get together, discuss the school year, and have fun.  It has been noted by many teachers and administration in our district that their staff would never participate in a retreat that they have to put their own time and money into, so I'm very proud to belong to a staff that enjoys each others company, whether or not we get paid to be with each other!  

In addition to discussing our school calendar for the year, catching up with each other on the Daily 5 & CAFE, and starting to jump into the 6 Traits program, we got a little time to meet with our grade levels to discuss schedules and such.  Last year, my teamie and I split the subjects and shared classes.  I taught Reading, Language Arts, & Social Studies, and she taught Math, Science, and Spelling.  I threw out the idea maybe I could teach Spelling instead of Social Studies, and she loved it.  It really only makes sense, since Spelling is part of literacy, but I wasn't sure how she would feel about teaching Science and Social Studies.  She said she loves teaching Ohio history, and would alternate teaching Science and Social Studies every other day.  Which leaves me tickled pink!  I get to teach two 2 hour 20 minute literacy blocks every single day!  I can only imagine the possibilities of how much literacy work we'll get done!  I will actually be able to have a reading workshop & a writing workshop under the Daily 5 umbrella! 

I'm also going to change our spelling/word study program a little bit.  I will post about that tomorrow and ask for suggestions.  We started using Word Journeys last year, and it was really great.  I'm going to look at Beth Newingham's word study program and research some others to make it work for my students and I.  I'm even thinking of (gasp!) getting rid of spelling homework.  But...more about that tomorrow when I've had some time to research and think!  

Hope you all have a lovely weekend!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Classroom Jobs-Help!

I decided that I am going to have classroom jobs for everyone in the class.  Students will apply for their job, then keep it for 6 weeks.  Hopefully this will encourage all students to complete their jobs each day, and I don't have to remember every week to change jobs!  I need help from my bloggy friends, though.  I can only think of 26 jobs.  On the off-chance that I have a full class right from the beginning, I need 30!  You can access (& print!) my classroom job descriptions here.  If you all help me come up with four more jobs, I would greatly appreciate it, then update the classroom job description and job application and post as a freebie!  Thanks so much!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The Book Whisperer-40 Books Poster

Ok, I know I'm super late on my response to Chapter 6 of The Book Whisperer, but I have an excuse.  And a freebie!  Hubby and I took the toddler to King's Island yesterday.  Actually, we went down Sunday and spent the night (one of the wonderful benefits offered to us by hubby working for a hotel corporation!)  King's Island has a Dinosaurs Alive exhibit, and the toddler is in love with dinos right now.  We read dino books and this brand new 2 year old knows T-Rex, Apatosaurus, and Triceratops.  It's pretty amazing what he picks up.  

My Chapter 6 response will be on its way very soon, but in the meantime, I created this poster to remind students of the genre requirement for their 40 books.  

I will also give each student a copy to keep in their literacy binders.  

To thank my 300+ followers, I will make a custom 40 books (or 30-or whatever you want!) poster for you!  My first three commenters will get a custom poster.  Make sure you leave me your e-mail address so that I can get in contact with you about your specific requirements to put on the poster.  

Thank you! 

Monday, July 25, 2011

First Target trip of the season!

Is "Back-to-School" a season?  I think so.  I went to AAA yesterday to get our tickets to King's Island and it just so happens that there is a Target right down the street.  I was sans hubby and toddler and I could hear the store calling my name.  I went to another Target last week and they didn't have any "teacher stuff" out yet, so I really had my fingers crossed this time.  

Oh yeah.  I hit the motherload.  

I got these books.  Various levels for different readers.  I love that I don't have to worry about whether or not a book is AR.  I hope that at least some of my students will be interested in reading some classic stories.  

Lesson Plan Book.  I used one of these last year and I didn't mind it at all.  I hole-punched it and put it right in my planning binder. I actually got two-one for a coteacher (hint, hint, wink, wink).  

Who doesn't love these notepads? They are so handy.  I keep some for secret pal gifts as well.  

I thought this might be a nice reward when students read their 40 books!

Love these stamps!  They had these a few years ago (single stamps for $1), but I haven't seen them since.  These 6 stamps were in the dollar spot for $2.50.  

I will give these sports erasers as a little gift on the first day of school. I am doing a sports theme in my classroom this year.  

And..the coveted letter stamps.  I bought these last year and honestly didn't care for them to well.  I stored each set in plastic bags with an ink pad and they got really messy.  I ended up throwing them away before the first semester ended.  I decided to give it another go this year.  I would welcome any storage suggestions so they get better taken care of this time!

Other things pictured above that I got was a desk lamp ($5), stickers, stress balls (perfect for playing silent ball or to help a little rascal calm down), dice, and happy birthday certificates.  I was very pleased with my Target trip!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Check out my new Vista Print designs!

I just couldn't help myself.  I had to do another Vista Print order.  I usually only try to do one order a year, but I really wanted to make my "Catching Compliments" poster since it would go so nicely with my sports theme.  I will use this as a reward system with my classes.  Each time they do well behaviorally or receive a compliment from another teacher, they will earn a baseball.  When the class receives 25 baseballs, they earn a reward.  I designed this poster on PrintMaster, then uploaded it to Vista Print.  The poster was 50% off (not free), but that also meant it didn't cost anything to upload my own design.  I got two of these posters, a car door magnet, a personalized notebook, and a banner for $20 total.  It would have cost me over $30 to have just the poster printed from Kinkos/FedEx.  You can see all of my designs by clicking on the Vista Print tab at the top of my page.  I also designed rack cards, which I really really want but they are not free yet.  So..another order may be in my future! 

Friday, July 22, 2011

Genre Book Bin Labels

Until this year, my classroom library was organized by AR level.  I decided at the end of last school year that I was going to organize my library by genre next year.  It only makes sense.  Students should be able to make book choices based on what they want to read-not their AR level.  I actually just found out my building will not be doing AR next year (woohoo!) because the powers that be finally realized that reading instruction is being accomplished through Daily 5 and CAFE rather than AR.  (Don't even get me started...)

To organize my classroom library, I use the dishpans from the Dollar Tree for bins.  I used to use the clear plastic shoeboxes, but they got very used and abused.  These dishpans are very large and sturdy.   

I have created genre labels for my book bins.  You can download them for here for **FREE!**  These labels are already formatted to print on Avery 8163/5263 mailing labels.  They are 2"x4".  There's no cutting or laminating involved!  I do plan to put clear packing tape over the labels on the bins just to make sure they stick.  

I hope everyone has a great weekend!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Book Talk Thursday-The Hunger Games

Ok.  If you're like me and have been living under a rock the last few years and you haven't read The Hunger Games yet, you need to get the book NOW.  I'll wait while you reserve it at your library (good luck!), buy it from Amazon, or download it on your Kindle.  


The Hunger Games is actually the first book in a trilogy by Suzanne Collins.  So you're actually getting a three-fer this week with my Book Talk Thursday.  I have read all three books in less than a week.  The second book is Catching Fire and the third Mockingjay.  I am not kidding you when I say these are the best books I have read in a LONG time-maybe ever.  I loved me some Twilight-but Bella and Edward have nothing on Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark.  This review should mean even more to you when I say I am not a Science Fiction fan-at all.  I lost that desire long ago when I was forced to read A Wrinkle in Time in seventh grade.  Don't shoot me-I probably would enjoy it now, I think it was more being forced to suffer through a book I wasn't interested in.  


The Hunger Games takes place at some point in the future.  The United States has been destroyed and a country called Panem has risen in it's wake.  The Capitol controls each of the country's 12 districts.  An uprising in the former District 13 caused the Capitol to start the Hunger Games as punishment to the other districts and to distract the citizens from another rebellion.  One boy and one girl from each district, called tributes, are chosen to fight to the death in an arena with many man-made obstacles.  The last person standing is the victor.  

There are so many twists and turns, ups and downs, in this book that you will not want to put it down.  I have not been this excited about a book in a very long time.  I want everyone I know to read these books so that I can talk about it with them.  I have even convinced my husband (who is not a reader) to read this book and he has been reading it non-stop ever since.  This book will turn nonreaders into readers.  Catching Fire and Mockingjay are just as good as the first book.  I don't want to say more, so I don't give anything away.  

And, as a nice little sidenote, The Hunger Games movie is coming out March 2012.  Liam Hemsworth plays the role of Katniss' best friend Gale.  Although not a major role in the first book, he will be very nice to look at!  

Happy Reading!  

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Gaining Inspiration

I am nowhere near as creative as some of the fabulous bloggers I follow.  They have the cutest ideas, lessons, and classrooms.  This is one of the reasons I don't have a Teachers Pay Teachers store.  Another reason is because I steal most of my ideas.  I have no problem admitting it.  

Do these look familiar to you?


I thought so.  If you're like me, you get about two dozen a week.  These three I got today.  What I do with them is a secret, though.  My bloggy friends can keep a secret, right?  Before throwing them in the trash, I pull out the pages of the things I like and then do my best to recreate them.  

Let's face it, we're teachers.  We're not racking in the big bucks here.  And I don't get any money from the school for use in my classroom, so I have to be resourceful.  I don't take the ideas then try to sell them as my own, so there's nothing wrong with it, right?  Also, how many times do we buy something because it looks like something we want or need, but then it turns out we can only use parts of it?  When you recreate things, you fit them to your needs.  

Those chair pockets you see on the front of that Really Good Stuff catalog?  I've seen those in countless classroom pictures-all homemade.  If I could channel myself back into my very successful 7th grade home-ec days, those would be on all the chairs in my classroom, too.  There are other really cute ideas for posters and bulletin boards in these magazines.  

So, before you throw away your next round of catalogs, look and see if there's anything in there you can *ahem* adjust to fit your needs!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Digital Books

Before I got my iPad, I had no use for digital books.  I always thought there was something to be said about reading an actual book with pages to turn.  My, what a difference a week makes!  I am obsessed with digital books!  Because many of us have, or are getting iPads and E-Readers, and very soon many of us will have iPads in our classroom, here are a few things that I have found useful in regards to digital books.  

If you Kindle, or want to Kindle, a Kindle app is free to download in the iTunes app store.  If your local grocery store offers fuel rewards, I suggest buying an Amazon gift card before purchasing your digital book.  My local Kroger & Giant Eagle offers double fuel perks on gift cards ($25 gift card = 50 fuel points!).  I suppose the same would be true for the Barnes & Noble Nook.  

Also, check out your local library to see if they offer a way to borrow digital downloads.  My local library participates in a program called Overdrive.  You can browse this link, but unfortunately cannot check anything out unless you have a library card with my local library system.  Digital & audio books can be downloaded from this site to borrow for 14 days.  Overdrive has an iPad app and the books go directly to your device.  There is something with the copyright that they can only have a limited number of digital titles out at a time, so you sometimes have to reserve it before you can check it out.  I recently downloaded and read a juvenile fiction book and a picture book for my son.  I strongly suggest asking your local library if they use a similar system.  It definitely saves money if you prefer e-reading!  

Blog Commenting-A PSA

After hosting a very successful linky party last week (107 entries!) and attempting to comment on every entry to thank everyone for taking part, it occurred to me that maybe some bloggers haven't seen Kristen's (from Ladybug's Teacher Files) video tutorial on how to remove the spam code that pops up when people try to comment on your blog.  Kristen points out that this is purely preference, but it does make it quite a bit easier to comment when you don't have to decipher the silly code.  If you're interested in how to remove the spam code from your comments, please visit Ladybug's Teacher Files and watch her awesome video tutorial! 

Sunday, July 17, 2011

It's a Party...A Post-it Party!

Create Teach Share

Mrs. Rojas is having a Post-it Party and giveaway to celebrate 300 followers!  
Link up with her, share your post-it stories, and enter her giveaway!

Who doesn't love Post-its?  Or, as I like to call them, 'stickies'?  I love them.  My students love them even more.  It's on our supply list to bring in a 3-pack of Post-it's, which I collect, and they are gone by December!  As long as they're being put to good use and not being wasted, I don't mind restocking.  

We use stickies for everything!  They probably get put to the most use when "Checking for Understanding," one of the Sisters first items on the CAFE menu.  If a student has a comprehension goal, students typically start out practicing checking for understanding by writing a short summary about what they read after every few pages of their book.  It's very easy for me to tell if a student is comprehending by taking a quick peek at their stickies.  

I have also used stickies as an interactive bulletin board.  When I taught fifth grade (I didn't do this in 4th-not sure why, maybe I'll do it this year) I had a genre bulletin board.  Of course, this was before I started blogging and I had no use for pictures-sorry!  I think the title was "Reading Across Genres"-creative, I know.  I digress, I'll never be as creative as all the other awesome bloggers out there.  Anyways, I had my genre posters hanging up and as my students read a book in a certain genre, they wrote it on a stickie and posted it next to the correct genre poster.  It was a great way for students to be thinking about genre all year long, served as a book recommendation board, and it became something the students interacted with, rather than blending in with the rest of the classroom walls.  

We use stickies for millions of other things, but these are my two favorite stickie uses!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

More Giveaways....

I hate posting back-to-back like this, but there are more giveaways going on that you just have to know about!


is giving away a Scentsy warmer!  It is super cute and will go great in your classroom!  

And, I'm sure you've already heard about Kristen's 1,000 follower giveaway

She is giving away one of her ULTRA-AWESOME custom blog designs! 

You must visit these blogs for a chance to win these fabulous giveaways!

Another VistaPrint Linky Party

The Apple Basket Teacher is having a Linky Party about Vista Print!  See my Vista Print page above.  I also got the idea to create a Pinterest folder for all these awesome ideas!  

Head over to

The Apple Basket Teacher

to join in the linky party fun!

The Book Whisperer-Reader's Notebook

Link up with Beth @ Thinking of Teaching to see what others are blogging about!

1) Have you used Reader's Notebooks in the past? If so what did you like about it?
Last year was the first year that I used Reader's Notebooks.  I started it after Christmas break when I realized I needed something more to see how students were reading and comprehending.  We "journaled" as I called it at the beginning of every class, to a prompt that I assigned.  This was the only part I didn't like.  Some of the prompts that I used were not appropriate for the genre that some students were reading.  

2) If you have not used Reader's Notebooks how do you plan to incorporate them this year into your reading program?
I do plan on changing my Reader's Notebooks a little this year.  I'm still not completely sure how I want to do it, so I'm excited to read other's thoughts!  Each student will have a spiral notebook that will be placed inside their Literacy Binders.  I know others use composition books, but lets face it, spirals are 10 cents (or less!) a piece and I've never seen comps for less than 50 cents.  Plus, when cleaning my basement for a yard sale this summer, I found an entire tote full of spirals that I forgot about.  So, spirals it is!  Inside the literacy binders, I will give a list of prompts for students to write about.  I know I will have to do a lot of modeling with the prompt writing.  I don't know that I will set aside journal time, or just expect my students to do them at some point during a Daily 5 choice.  I would love it if I could get students to do this, as not to waste precious lesson time, but I do worry about those procrastinators!  

3) How will you schedule the Reader's Notebook due dates in order to be able to effectively read and respond authentically to all your students?
I teach 60 students reading, so last year I graded one class every other Friday.  It wasn't the best system, so I think I will assign days to 6 students per class to read their notebooks.  That would be 12 students a day, but still better than 30!  I think the hardest part will be responding to each one.  I think if I know my students appreciate my responses, it will be a lot easier!  I also know some students will need that response from me in order to keep reading and writing, so that will also be some incentive for me!  

I'm so excited to read what everyone else's thoughts are on Reader's Notebooks!  Make sure to link up with Beth!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Vista Print Creations-Linky Party!

Spotlight on Kindergarten is having a linky party to share our Vista Print creations!  Since I just had a Vista Print post the other day (which has since turned into a Vista Print page-see above), I decided to join in!  Check out Spotlight on Kindergarten to link up and see what other bloggers have created on Vista Print!  

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Back in School-Mode


I just got done reworking my back to school packet.  Another fourth grade teacher and I share students.  She teaches Math, Spelling, and Science, and I teach Reading, Language Arts, and Social Studies.  We decided that we need to have one packet to hand out to all of our parents.  Our teaching philosophies are very similar, so it was just a matter of condensing what she had written, and copying and pasting what I had into one nice, neat packet.  This has been weighing heavily on my mind since school ended, but I just didn't want to get into yet.  Our building retreat is in two weeks, though, and I wanted to have it done by then so she could look over it and we could make changes if needed.  I must say, I feel better having it done, and I can move onto other school-related things now.  Other things on my to-do list include: 1.) Finishing reading the books I checked out from the library about the "ideas" trait.  Since this will be the trait I will start with, I wanted to get a jump on things and get familiar with some of the books.  2.)  Labeling my "new" books I got from Half-Priced books.  (Post still forthcoming about that!)  3.)  Decide how I want to do my reader's notebooks.  Some of you may recall that I got a Donor's Choose project funded for literacy binders, and my intention is to combine my reader's response into the literacy binder.  I want to have five sections in the binder:  CAFE section with goals, Notes, Reading Response, Writing, and Work Work. What do you all think about putting a spiral notebook in the reading response section?  I'm concerned it will take up too much space, but at the same time, I think loose-leaf paper would just fall out as time goes on.  I guess if this is all I'm worried about right now, life is pretty good! :)  

Just a reminder to Tina from Quench Your First, you were my giveaway winner and you haven't contacted me yet with your info!  Please e-mail me soon so I can order your bag!!!  

Book Talk Thursday-Weslandia

I've decided to start a new theme-Book Talk Thursdays.  Inspired by The Book Whisperer, when Donalyn Miller suggests reading more books for children, I've decided to do just that.  Every Thursday, I will review a children or young adult book that I am currently enjoying.  
I just discovered the book Weslandia by Paul Fleischman and I am in love!  Wesley is an odd boy.  He has no friends, and he just doesn't fit in.  Sparked by what he learned in school about civilizations, he decides to create a summer project-his own civilization complete with it's own staple food crop, clothing, counting system, games, and alphabet.  This is such a great book about creativity, differences, and even civilizations and the possibilities of using this book in the classroom are endless!  I hope you enjoy this book as much as I have!  

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

And The Winner Is....

It is the moment you've all been waiting for!  The winner of my 31 All-in-One Organizer bag giveaway is....

Congrats Tina!!!  You have 24 hours to contact me via e-mail (see the link above) with your bag design of choice, personalization, and mailing info.  You will LOVE this bag!!!  

My Target Deals!

I headed out to Target tonight on a mission.  If you haven't heard yet, Target has their 2-pack of Sharpie markers for $1.00 this week.  They also have a coupon on their website for $1.00 off Sharpie products.  What does this mean?  2-pack of Sharpie markers are FREE!  Who doesn't love free stuff?!  I printed two coupons and split them into separate transactions, so I got four Sharpie markers for FREE!  I have a couple of extra coupons in my purse just in case I'm in another Target area later this week.  Target also has a 10-pack of ball point Papermate pens for $1.02.  They also have a store coupon (again, can be printed from their website) for $1.00 off Papermate products.  That's right, I paid 2 cents for a 10-pack of pens.  I didn't know about this deal, so I didn't come prepared with another coupon.  

My Target store didn't have their Dollar Spot stocked yet with any "teacher stuff."  It's probably better that way-for my wallet at least.  They had a few pocket charts (which I already have a TON of.)  I won't lie, I almost picked one up before thinking twice!  They also had the "classic" books, which I picked up last year.  They aren't AR, so none of my kids read them.  This is probably the first time I walked out of Target without buying a single thing from the dollar spot, but I'm still super happy about the deals!  

Giveaway Ends Tonight!!

My 31 Gifts giveaway ends tonight at midnight!  If you haven't entered yet, make sure you do so here!  

The Book Whisperer-Chapter 4

Because we do The Daily 5 & CAFE in my classroom, we spend a lot of time at the beginning of the year talking about how to choose good-fit books.  The Sisters use the acronym I PICK.  Here is the poster I made that hangs near my bookshelf.  

The reason for the shoes is because I do a demonstration about how some shoes are not a good fit for me.  I bring in my husband's work boots, my son's shoes, dress shoes, flip flops, etc.  I talk about how some are too big (too hard), too small (too easy), and some are just not right for the situation (i.e., flip flops to go running = a book you just don't like at the moment).  

My students have total control over what books they are choosing to read in my classroom.  The only requirement is that the book be in their AR range, because (much to my dismay) we still have AR in my district.  

Donalyn Miller writes about her requirement that students read 40 books a year.  At first I thought that sounded like a lot of books for fourth graders, but after looking at my class' AR results from last school year, I see many of my students read over 40 books.  Granted, many of those books were picture books because our school librarian had them read picture books to get started on AR and they couldn't get out of that habit.  I am not allowing that to happen this year.  There is a definite time and place for picture books, but I don't want my fourth graders reading them all the time.  I also like Miller's solution that books over 350 pages count as two books.  I might lower that for my fourth graders.  Maybe books over 250 pages?  

Miller has a genre requirement for her 40 books, and I think I would alter mine a little bit.  Just off the top of my head, my genre requirement might look like this:  

Realistic Fiction - 5
Historical Fiction - 2
Fantasy - 5
Science Fiction - 2
Mystery - 4
Informational - 5
Biography, Autobiography, Memoir - 5
Poetry Anthologies - 2
Chapter Book Choice - 10

The students that I work with crave structure.  Many times, it is necessary for their success. If I were to take this genre requirement a step further and split them into 9 weeks (i.e., 1st 9 weeks-R.F. 2, Fantasy., 2, etc.) is that taking away student choice?  Maybe I'll just be able to monitor my students' progress toward their genre goals through conferences and not have to worry about it.  I can definitely see this being a learning process for both myself and my students.  

I am so very much enjoying reading this book!  I actually feel very validated knowing that what I've been doing is the best for my students.  I'm very excited to discuss reader's notebooks in the coming week!  

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Lots and Lots of Giveaways!

Lifelong learning: 50 Followers must mean a GIVEAWAY!:

Check out Lifelong Learning to find out how you can win an Amazon gift card!

Check out Target Treasures to find out how you can win a Target gift card!

The Book Whisperer-Chapter 3

Somehow I missed the book discussion on chapter 3, so I'm going to  post today about chapter 3 and tomorrow about chapter 4!  

Chapter 3-There's a Time and a Place
Donalyn Miller writes about reading being the cornerstone to her class.  "Reading time is for reading," she writes on page 50.  When I started practicing The Daily 5 in my classroom two years ago, I was so impressed with how much time was spent reading.  Fortunately, my first year of teaching was the only year that the majority of my reading class was not spent reading.  This is when I thought we had to teach the basal series, and didn't have much guidance from administration.  The following year is when we were given a literacy coach and we quickly realized reading class should be for reading.  Miller writes, "What are the effects of intensive reading?  Better writing, richer vocabularies, and increased background knowledge in science and social studies."  I have personally witnessed this in my classroom as well.  On page 52, Miller writes, "Because reading has more impact on students' achievement than any other activity in school, setting aside time for reading must be the first activity we teachers write in our lesson plans, not the last."  This is such a powerful statement.  Sometimes, we are overly focused on writing the lesson plans and scheduling fun learning activities that time for reading has been left out.  

Miller points out times that we as teachers can carve out time for reading.  She suggests tossing out the bell ringers and warm-ups, and just allow the students to read during the first part of the day.  I'm personally not ready to give up on my Language Dailies as a warm up yet.  I do feel they serve a good purpose-students review parts of speech, punctuation, etc. and it serves as a weekly mini-lesson on these topics.  I've also found in previous years that my students need some sort of structured activity while I'm doing check-in.  I'm afraid asking them to read is just not enough.  My students do read after they've completed their dailies, though, which is another time for reading that Miller suggests.  She writes of the fancy early finisher folders that teachers have for students to do when they are finished, and suggests they are time wasters.  I agree with her on this one.  My students know that if they are finished with work early, they are to read.  I think my absolute favorite part of chapter three was when Miller suggested students bring their books with them on picture day.  Picture day in and of itself stresses me out.  We never know when we're going to be called down, and when we are it's a mad rush to get students lined up according to height.  Then, once we get down there, of course they're not waiting on us, there's another class (or two!) in front of us.  So, there I am left to manage the behaviors of not only my class but usually half of the other two classes.  Miller suggests students take their books with them to read during the picture day wait-time.  She said this idea was born out of her always carrying a book with her no matter where she goes.  I take books with me everywhere I go, too, and I must say, my iPad has completely changed my life when it comes to that  No more do I have to worry about lugging around a 700 page book!  

The end of chapter three is dedicated to having a place for students to read.  I am so much like Donalyn Miller in her thinking, that it's eery!  She writes about how many leaders in reading education suggest we need to create a "reading sanctuary" in our classrooms, and how she would get frustrated when she could not come up with a reading oasis for her students.  I don't have the space or money to create this sanctuary in my room, and I really don't think it's necessary.  My students love to read in unusual places-under their desks, in a tight corner, laying on the floor, etc.  There are no fancy seats or corners in my room.  I bought carpet squares at a local remnant sale last year, and you would've thought we had hit the lottery!  

I am still continuing to love this book so much!  It really gets me energized to start the school year!  I made the decision that I'm not going to spend a bunch of money on school supplies this year, but use the money on books instead!  A post about my trip to Half-Priced Books is forthcoming!  

Little Literacy Learners: GIVEAWAY you won't want to miss!!

Little Literacy Learners is giving away a one year membership to the Graphics Factory! What an awesome giveaway! Head over to find out how you can win!

Monday, July 11, 2011

My Vista Print Creations

I discovered Vista Print three years ago, and I usually create items and place one big order before the start of the school year.  For my readers who don't know what Vista Print is, you can order tons of items for FREE!  All you pay is shipping!  I placed an order today, which included business cards, postcards, a key chain, a pen, a door magnet, and a rubber stamp for $12!  I thought I would share with you some of my creations. 

Address Labels:  
My name & e-mail address that I put in each child's agenda book
Stickers I put on my property that I keep at school.  

Door Magnets:  
 I have magnetic chalkboards I use for bulletin boards.  This will go nicely with a bulletin board I am creating for next year.  
To remind students about morning procedures.  

Business Card-Sized Magnets:

Large Postcard:

Key Chain:  For a reward

 Note Pads:  

 Post Cards:  

 Rubber Stamps:  

 Yard Sign:  


Spotlight on Kindergarten is having a giveaway!  Head on over to her blog to check it out!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Great Deal at 4th Grade Frolics!

Busy, busy weekend here, but I wanted to quickly tell you about this fabulous offer!  My bloggy friend, Tara, at 4th Grade Frolics posted about her "Magical Music Wand" that she uses for classroom management.  The owner of the company is now offering her blog followers $5 off an order!  Head on over to Tara's blog to check out this great deal!

Friday, July 8, 2011

31 Gifts-Ordering Information

I know a lot of people have expressed interest in ordering from the 31 Catalog.  It's like Pampered Chef or Tupperware, so you have to know a consultant to order.  I'm having a catalog party throughout the month of July, so if you want to order something, you can do so through my party.    All you have to do is go to this website:

The website is a little weird to navigate at first, but you should be ok if you follow these instructions:  You have to click place an order, then place an order again, then click shop now next to my name (Rachel Owens).  Click shop now again, and then it will take you to the catalog.  All the prices are listed right there with the product.  When you make your selection, you can see all the prints the bags come in as well.  It will ask you if you want personalization and if you do, it's a flat $6 additional charge.   Some bags only allow you to have a certain # of characters per line, so make sure you pay attention to that when personalizing.  You can also select your font color and style.  There are charts so you can see what is what.  Once you're done ordering, you can check out as you normally would on any shopping site.  Make sure that you put in your address and not "ship to host" or else it will come to me!  The shipping is not bad.  It's 8% plus $4.  As always, there is a special this month too!  For every $10 you spend retail, you get 31% off of some Fall preview items.  They have a really cute lunch tote for $9.66, some pencil pouches for about $5 I believe, and backpacks.  Let me know if you decide to order something, and what you order!  I'm so completely obsessed with these bags!  I'm even thinking of becoming a consultant!  

**Disclaimer:  Placing (or not placing) an order will in no way affect the outcome of my giveaway.  The giveaway winner will be chosen at random through Because of so much interest, I wanted to give everyone a chance to browse the catalog and place an order if they would like.** 

As Promised-100 Follower Giveaway!

When I started my linky party yesterday, I said I was looking for 100 followers by the end of the month!  I never imagined I would have them by the end of the day!  Thank you so much! promised, I am having a fabulous giveaway!  

Have you heard of 31 Gifts?  I'm not sure if it's regional or nationwide.  It's like a Tupperware party for bags!  How fun is that?  It just so happens that I am hosting a catalog party this month for 31 Gifts and I wanted to give away a personalized bag!  (Hence, the reason why I wanted to hit 100 followers before the end of the month!)  

Here is the bag I'm giving away:  

It is called the "All in One Organizer."  Sorry the pictures are so fuzzy, I took a screen shot from the catalog.  As you can see, there are many uses for this adorable bag!  The best thing about 31 Gifts is that you can personalize your bag as well.  

Here is mine:  
Isn't it just the cutest thing you've ever seen?! 

The bag comes in these patterns:  

The Details:  
The winner of this giveaway will receive an All-in-One Organizer bag with your choice of pattern and personalization!  The giveaway ends on Wednesday, July 13 at midnight.  I will choose a winner randomly through on Thursday, July 14 and the winner will be notified via my blog on that day.  The winner will have 24 hours to respond to me via e-mail with their choice of pattern, personalization, and address.  

How to Enter:  
(3 Awesome Chances!  Leave a comment for each entry)

  • Be a current follower or become a follower of my blog (1 entry)
  • Post about my giveaway on your blog (1 entry)
  • Grab my *new* button and post it on your blog (1 entry)

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Not Teaching Related, But Fun Anyways!

My sister is coming into town this weekend for her favorite nephew's birthday party, so I decided to host her a bridal shower for her local friends since she's getting married in November in Florida.  I know I'm probably not the norm, but I hate bridal shower games.  Well, any shower games for that matter.  And having been the recipient of several showers, I think they are even more uncomfortable for the guest of honor:  you are a grown woman opening up presents in front of 50 people and are expected to have a specific reaction for every single one.  Again, it's probably just me, not trying to offend all those shower-lovers out there!  But, because it's my sister and my matron-(I hate that word, too!)-of-honor duty, I had to come up with something for the 25 or so shower guests to do.  The tamed-down shower games are as follows:  Famous Couples & "Love" Songs.  

Sorry, no toilet paper wedding dresses here.  In the Famous Couples game, guests are asked to write down the other half of a named famous person.  I'm posting a copy here.
For the other game, "Love" Songs, I downloaded songs with the word "love" in the title.  Some examples include "Love Me Tender" by Elvis, "Love Story" by Taylor Swift, and "I Think I Love You" by The Partridge Family.  Not all songs are your typical love songs, though, I also have "You Give Love a Bad Name" (Bon Jovi, of course!), "Your Love is My Drug" (Ke$ha), and from my favorite movie of all time, "You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'" by the Righteous Brothers.  Game players must write down the title and artist of each song.  The person with the most correct, wins.  You can also play this game at a baby shower and use the word "baby" in the title.  

This post is obviously not at all teaching related, but this is what I've been up to today, and thought I'd share!  

I also want to thank everyone for participating in my linky party!  I tried to look at and comment on everyone's top ten lists.  If I missed yours, please don't be offended, it was an honest mistake!  Also, don't forget to enter my super-fabulous giveaway!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Top 10 Things To Know About Me-Linky Party!

Here is my top ten list!

10.  I've lived in the same town my whole life (besides the time I spent in college).  

9.  I have been friends with my best friend for 26 years!  (I'm only 28-you do the math!)

8.  I have a sister who lives in Florida.  

7.  I love Disney World more as an adult than I did as a kid.  I went twice as a child, and I've lost count how many times I've been in my adult-life.  

6.  I am a reality-TV show junkie.  (Especially the Real Housewives.  My hubby says I kill brain cells whenever I watch them.)

5.  My favorite author is Nicholas Sparks.  I'm a sucker for his  sappy romantic books! 

4.  My favorite drink is unsweetened iced tea.  

3.  My favorite sports team is the Ohio State Buckeyes!

2.  I truly love my job.  I can't imagine doing anything else with my life.  

1.  I have the coolest two-year-old on the planet for a son!  

Your Turn-Click the link above to join the party!

Linky Party & Freebie Alert!

I got inspired this week and decided to actually do something for school besides read books! In honor of my inspiration, I'm offering this freebie.  A back-to-school activity-Top 10 Things to Know About Me!  

Because I'm trying to get to 100 followers by the end of the month for a super-cool giveaway, I thought it also might be fun to host a linky party!  I'm sure this has been done before, but I haven't seen it in a while--so how about a Top 10 Things To Know About You?    

If you download the freebie, please join the fun of the linky party and make sure you link back to my blog and grab my button!  (Trust me-you'll really like this 100 follower giveaway I have planned!)