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Monday, October 27, 2014

I'm Not Tricking You-Here's How to Turn ANY Reversal Around in ONE DAY!

Fall is upon is and that means it's time for some
Teaching Trick & Treating!

That's right - I have teamed up with my Freebielicious friends again to share some teaching tricks and special free treats for you!  

Are you tired of reversals or misrepresented letters?  How about feeling like a student will NEVER remember all the letters in his/her name?  I have tried SO MANY tricks to solve these problems, but none has worked quicker and better than this one! 

The trick is to write it DIRECTLY on their table, right where they work!  I write whichever numbers (or concept) that a particular child is having difficulty with with a permanent marker right above their work space.  Are you panicking? Well, so did my custodians, but they learned fast that I could easily get it off when we are ready to by drawing over it with an Expo marker and then erasing it with a magic eraser! As easy as that, it was like it was never there and then you have a blank slate to put the next "no excuse" concept there for your student to never lose or take the time to find (like the nametags we all provide with this basic info on it!  It just isn't the same as having it RIGHT THERE in front of them.  Here just a few of the "issues" that have been resolved with this trick in the matter of a day:
  • Names or just particular letters from a students' name
  • b/d reversal: I write the b and d and draw a bed around it as a visual cue
  • letters and numbers
  • a particular sight word that just isn't sticking
  • word chunks that are proving to be difficult
  • I've even drawn picture cues with a letter for difficult to remember letter sounds
This system is not only helpful to the students, but also to you (or anyone else who might come in the room to work with your students).  If there is something written there, it is obvious that is something that particular child is working on and can be quizzed at any given moment.  You don't have to rely on your memory as to which kid is working on correcting which reversals AND you can have them JUST focus on the number or two that you have written there even if they are reversing more than those.
Along with my TRICK, I have a little TREAT for you as well.  Have you tried any of my directed drawings??? They are my FAVORITE thing to do with my students (oh, and they LOVE it, too!)...they great thing about them is that they are so versatile and you can make it work for what works for your classroom at the time or what you are working on in your classroom.  Students love being able to draw so well and then I have them put our 5 and  5 rule to work (at least 5 colors and 5 details) and then respond in whatever way you choose.  Since we are working on using part of the question in written responses, I just asked a simple question, "What things can you make with a pumpkin?" But, for younger students, you might just have them copy a simple sentence (Pumpkins are orange.) for handwriting practice.
Here are some student examples that show you how great they can do!
 I am sharing  my pumpkin freebie at my TpT Store with you. Please click the Follow Me button if you don't already while you are there!
You can hop on over to Freebielicious to start the hop for some other great TRICKS and TREATS!

Monday, October 13, 2014

Custom T-Shirt Giveaway from Freebielicious! Get All of Your Students Their Own Class Shirt!

Every once in a while,  the girls at Freebielicious discover a really awesome product for classroom teachers that is so amazing, we just have to share it with you! Today is one of those days! Get ready because we are hosting a super cute giveaway for custom classroom t-shirts from We will be giving away a class set* of custom t-shirts to THREE lucky Freebielicious fans! Isn't that amazing?

These are NOT your average t-shirt designs. The people at ClassroomFaces are so creative, they found a way to print a collection of drawings from every child in the class on the set of t-shirts, to create a truly custom design! Nobody else in the world will ever have a t-shirt exactly like the one your class designs. The website may be called "Classroom Faces" but there are SO many more options for children to draw than just their face. Sample designs on the website show creative ideas using student handprints or drawings of the school mascot.

Since the Freebielicious girls are such good friends, we designed our very own set of Classroom Faces t-shirts. We enlisted the help of our talented friend (and fellow Freebie gal) Nikki from Melonheadz to create custom drawings of each of our faces. The finished t-shirts were absolutely ADORABLE! I absolutely love my new custom Freebielicious t-shirt from Classroom

About Classroom Faces

Creating a class set of t-shirts featuring your students drawings is easy. Each child just needs to create a simple drawing. To create t-shirts with one-color ink on a solid colored t-shirt (like ours) each child needs to draw their picture using a fine point black marker. The ClassroomFaces website has downloadable templates that you can use to guide your students. Full-color illustrations on a plain white t-shirt are also possible. Look how cute these t-shirts are!

Extra Savings for Freebielicious Fans

Freebielicious fans that order a class set of tshirts can save $1 on each tshirt and receive 1 free teacher tshirt with their order using promo code FREEBIE14. Orders must include 15 or more paid shirts to qualify and must be postmarked by December 31, 2014

Enter to WIN a Class Set of Custom Classroom Faces T-Shirts

Now that you have seen how ADORABLE these t-shirts are, it's your chance to try and win a set for your classroom. The wonderful people at ClassroomFaces are graciously giving away a class set* of custom t-shirts to 3 lucky Freebielicious fans! Each set is valued at over $250. Stop by the Freebielicious blog for your chance to WIN! 

*Up to 24 tshirts will be included in each prize pack. Winner can choose to order a class set of traditional single-color tshirts or tshirts will full-color illustrations. Additional t-shirts can be purchased for $11 or $13 (depending on t-shirt size and style). Shipping is free for winners that live in the US. If a winner requires shipping outside of the US, the winner is responsible for shipping costs. (Shipping to Canada costs between $5-$20 depending on weight and location). 

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Cheap and Easy Spinnning in My Classroom--FINALLY!

Some of you may have tuned into my last blog post about the difficulty of the new year getting started...I am happy to announce that....wait for's getting better!  This was the year (just like every one before that "it really wasn't happening")....but, it is! We kicked off Daily 5 and had 3 THREE round days that went relatively smoothly....I will be sharing a post about that later...

I just wanted to quickly share a quick management tip that many of you probably already have done for years, but is a BRAND NEW thought for me.  I've always loved the fact that writing expo markers over permanent markers will erase it off any and every smooth surface you've (or maybe one of the kids did "on accident").  I have used this tip I learned years ago for many purposes: my calendar board's "permanent" things are written in permanent marker and writing students' names and/or concepts they are working RIGHT on their desk/table area so they can never lose their nametag are just a couple of ways I can think of off the top of my head. 

Well, I LOVE spinners because they provide so many different learning opportunities and are easy to differentiate with... I've watched bloggers blogging about them, teachers teaching with them and I've had it on my list to make them for probably 2 years, I have finally come to terms with the fact that I am probably not going to be one of those teachers with fancy, fun spinners in my room.  BUT that doesn't mean that we still can't be spinning in C-21!  As a single mom and full time teacher, time is precious and, although they won't be anything fancy, my students are going to be spinning  A LOT this year because look what I found:

Ten of them for $7.00 what??@@!! Yup, that's a steal! I have not tried this kind, but it says it is laminate coated, which I am pretty sure will work with my technique, but can't guarantee it.
Now, you need to know how I make them into something useful in my classroom, right? And, in pure MMMB fashion, it is QUICK and EASY-just the way we like (need) it:
You write whatever options you want your children to spin to with a permanent Sharpie marker.

When you are ready to change your stations, you color over the permanent marker marks with an expo marker. 

 You use a paper towel (or your finger like I do--its even quicker and not all that messy!) to wipe off
the spinners.
Now you are ready to write your next options for your students for their new workstations.
I am not claiming this as my idea. I have always used expo erasers to erase permanent marker from whiteboards, desks, etc., but just recently thought to use it on spinners!  I am sure there are many of you out there who have done this forever, its just a new concept to me! :)

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Mo Willems and his Naked Mole Rat (GREAT beginning of year read with a FREEBIE or 2!)

We've been working on a Mo Wilems' author study (we LOVE his books, BTW!) and it just wouldn't be complete without the Naked Mole Rat book because we all know how much students crack up at anything having to do with nakedness and underwear (and this book includes a semblance of BOTH-double score!). The lesson in this book is great for the beginning of the year--you don't all have to like or do the same things to be friends and have a great time and it's okay to be different. But, if you want to extend it (and really gross them out at the same time!) show them pictures of REAL naked mole rats:O
My students love the "draw and respond" work we do so much, I just had to create a Naked Mole Rat one.  This is going to be part of a kit with the whole Mo Willems' clan, but, for now, I'm giving a sample version to you FREE to try in your classroom!  The kits include many options for you to choose from, but I just provided a blank one that you can write a question, model a sentence for students to copy OR whatever else you might have up your sleeve to get your students writing about Naked Mole Rats!
My students were so interested in the naked mole rats, I took it to the next level (gotta love student driven teaching!) and went on a search for an informational text for them that I honestly didn't think I'd find...low and behold, I found a mini book created by a teacher on TpT that was PeRFECT for them.  It was a one pager that you fold into quarters... I knew it needed to be larger for my babies, so I enlarged it onto 11x17 copy paper and voila! they all had an informational text for their book box! Click here if you would like to extend your reading of Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed with this FREEBIE! Ha ha!  Thank you for this fabulous resource Learning in Wonderland!


Here is a quick snippet of a video that shows naked mole rats in all their glory (um...grossness), but they are very intriguing as well!

You can also check them out LIVE with the Washington Zoo's Live Web Cam here: