Using Google Forms as a Reading Log Alternative

13 November 2016
So, this school year happened, hasn't it?

Switching grade levels has really put a hold on any blogging I've done, but I have this awesome idea to share with you all that I'm making time to blog!

A couple of factors have changed since moving up to fourth grade... obviously my students have a completely different set of needs than my second graders did.  Learning to readjust my thinking and make things more relevant and engaging for my students has become a focus for me.

Veterans Day Activities FREEBIE

06 November 2016
Veterans Day is November 11th, 2016. One of my favorite ways to honor our military families is during my Language Arts block with activities that celebrate veterans' dedication to our country. Read on to check out my Veterans Day Unit Lessons FREEBIE!

Teaching Math Equality to Primary Children

17 October 2016
My first graders are working on our equality unit this week. This is one unit that makes me cringe just a little bit because of the challenge of it, especially being at the beginning of the school year. Here's some of the things we have been learning:

We sorted subtraction (seen here) and addition (not pictured) sentences for different ways to equal a difference or a sum.

Alphabet Journals...4 Steps for Journal Writing

27 September 2016
Writing can be challenging at the beginning of first grade. These journals can help students decode, create, and illustrate.
First grade teachers work hard every year to send independent readers and writers to second grade. But every first grade teacher forgets what September means in first grade...it means they are still kindergartners.  The re-post can be a good idea for journals at the beginning of first grade.

Constitution Day Activities

06 September 2016
Are you searching for meaningful activities for Constitution Day?  Would you like to be able to conduct your Constitution Day activities during multiple core subjects?  If you said yes, then this post is for you!


Where to Find Free Resources for Your Classroom

28 August 2016
In this post, you will find a list of sites and places you can visit to get free resources for your classroom!
Good afternoon!  This is Meghan from 'Vestal's 21st Century Classroom' and today I want to share information about one of the most important things to any teacher... how to get free stuff for your classroom!  According to researchers, the average teacher spends between $500-$600 out of pocket each school year.  Personally, I have always thought this number seemed a little low but, either way, that's a lot of money!  In recent years, more sites and stores have begun offering ways for teachers to get free resources.  You just have to know where to go and what to ask for.  Here is a list I have compiled of some of the best places to find free resources for your classroom:

Your Local Reading Council

25 August 2016
Hi! This is Heather from Campfire Curriculum with Helpful Heather.  Would you like to have personalized assistance with your professional development?  Do you wish that there were community events that were free for families of your students?  Teachers are always looking for ways to expand their own knowledge and help their school/students!  This post will open your eyes to all of the wonderful things that your local reading council offers and give you assistance and excitement for the new school year!
Would you like to have personalized assistance with your professional development?  Do you wish that there were community events that were free for families of your students?  Teachers are always looking for ways to expand their own knowledge and help their school/students!  This post will open your eyes to all of the wonderful things that your local reading council offers and give you assistance and excitement for the new school year!

Classroom Communication: Bloomz Review

24 August 2016
Classroom Communication: Using the Bloomz App
*I have not received anything in return for this review from Bloomz.*

It's like finding the match to the glass slipper in Cinderella - the perfect classroom communication tool.  Some parents don't check email. Some parents prefer text messages.  Some parents like Facebook or Instagram.  What's a girl to do?  Communicating from the classroom isn't my forte - and it's usually the thing that gets put on the back burner when I'm swamped.  I'm hoping free App and website Bloomz the answer!

Growing Your Lessons with Bloom's Taxonomy

21 August 2016
As all teachers in Virginia know, the state-wide guaranteed curriculum for Virginia is known as the Standards Of Learning (SOL).  The standards have been revised year after year and the rigor has been turned up in all state tests.  In an effort to make testing triad aligned...Virginia has put an emphasis on HOW the standard is taught, using Bloom's Taxonomy.
The standards have "upped the rigor", but have you? This Bloom's FREEBIE will help you meet the appropriate Bloom's levels on your lessons.

GAFE: Make Google Forms for for you!

20 August 2016
Google Apps Forms: How to make Form grade your student work easily using Quizzes

Make Google Forms Work For You!

It's no secret I love all the Google Apps, but Forms may have just become my favorite with their new features. In the past I used the Flubaroo Add-on to grade my quizzes. It's still a great add-on, but it's just that, it added on one more step. Now you can grade within Forms itself and save yourself so much time!

A Little Back to School Motivation

13 August 2016
Hi everyone!  It's Haley from Owls and Lessons, Etc. and I'm so excited to share with you today some clips that will hopefully inspire you for the upcoming school year.  I'm sharing two of my favorites and one new discovery!


motivational clips to help you start your school year inspired!

Back to School Essentials for Reading and Writing

08 August 2016
Back to School is a very exciting time of year for students and teachers as well. On August 1st of every summer I go into what my husband calls, "school mode."  This is when I begin preparing myself mentally and tangibly for the coming school year.  After a long summer break full of  "me time,"  I finally begin to get serious about looking for great ideas and products that I can use for my new kiddos.

Certain Back to School "essentials" are must-haves for the coming school year. Reading and writing are those skills that we want to get our students started on right from the start. Every minute counts towards getting a good head start on developing great readers and writers.

Back to School Read Alouds

06 August 2016
I have already been back for my first teacher workday. I can't believe my summer is over! But after our first meeting and getting into my room for a few hours, I'm getting excited! I am teaching a combo first and second grade class again this year and will have a child for a second time, so I can't repeat some of the fun things that I do at the beginning of the year, including some of my read alouds. I have been on a hunt!

Creative Ways to Communicate with Parents

28 July 2016
Looking for some ways to improve communication with parents this year!? Here's a few creative ways to communicate with student's parents and get them more involved in the classroom!
It seems like some years are easier to maintain communication with parents than others.  If you are looking for some new, creative ways to communicate with your student's parents this year, look no further!

Brag Tags in the Classroom

27 July 2016
Have you heard of Brag Tags? I had seen them on Pinterest but didn't really know what they were until a coworker and friend of mine mentioned she wanted to try them in her classroom. In my quest to make them for her, I started to really like the idea of them and decided to implement them in my classroom as well.
So what are brag tags? They are little badges that the students earn throughout the school year. They can be earned for character related traits or academic accomplishments. You can hop on over to my blog and read more about how I intend to use in my classroom.
I got some super cute new clipart today and decided to make a "bee themed" set of brag tags. Maybe you can use them in your classroom, click here to download.

Give EVERY Child The Opportunity To Succeed!

25 July 2016
Hi! This is Heather from Campfire Curriculum with Helpful Heather.  The Mexican Proverb "They tried to bury us but they didn't know that we were seeds" stays with me always.  I know you want to give EVERY child in your classroom the opportunity to succeed.  This post will give you insight and propel you into the new year so that success will be possible for every student!   


The Mexican Proverb "They tried to bury us but they didn't know that we were seeds" stays with me always.  I know you want to give EVERY child in your classroom the opportunity to succeed.  This post will give you insight and propel you into the new year so that success will be possible for every student!

CAT: Computer Adaptive Testing

22 July 2016
CAT: Computer Adaptive Testing and What It Means For You!

On July 15th, the Superintendent of the state of Virginia released this memo stating that the CAT (Computer Adaptive Testing) format of the Math 4 and 5 SOL test would begin to be administered in the Spring of 2017.  A second memo, found here, also stated that students in grades 3-5 would also begin the CAT test in Reading this Spring.  So what does this mean for you and your students?

Making Virginia Readers Choice Work in Your Elementary Classroom

21 July 2016

It's all the rage ~ Virginia Readers Choice -right?! OK, so maybe you have a hard time getting your elementary students to read these magnificent books, but it can be done. It just takes a little ingenuity and passion for reading.

Three reasons to use Google Docs now

20 July 2016


I hope our summer series on all things Google Apps has you thinking about how to implement some new tools in your classroom this fall. You can find previous posts here:  ClassroomSlidesFormsHangouts, Drive Today I'll show you one of the quickest and easiest GAFE tools, Google Docs. Seriously, you could do this the first week of school.

Starting Your SOL Test Prep in September

19 July 2016
Virginia is for Teachers: Tips to Start Your SOL Test Prep in September

If the title of this post made you groan, I totally understand! It feels like it was just testing season and nobody wants to talk about it again until next spring! I know, I know. But the sooner you start thinking about the SOL tests, the more time you and your students will have to feel ready to tackle them. If you hit the ground running when school starts in August or September, you can lessen that panicky feeling you get when April rolls around and you realize how much content there is to review! There are lots of easy ways you can start preparing for the SOL tests at the beginning of the school year - and the good news is that you're probably already doing a lot of them!

Organizing Files on Google Drive to Maximize Learning Time

18 July 2016
Are your students struggling to find items you've placed on Google Drive for them? Are you searching for a way to organize all those files you've created?  Then this post is for you!
Organizing Files on Google Drive to Maximize Learning Time

Getting Ready for Next Year While Still Relaxing!

16 July 2016
Getting Ready for Next School Year While Still Relaxing
If you're anything like me, it isn't long before the year closes that you start thinking about freshly waxed floors, unopened school supplies, and new beginnings.  Don't get me wrong - I am loving summer time (especially this year with five month old twins).  But let's be honest - August will be here before we know it!

I can't get into my classroom for a while because of summer school and cleaning classrooms. I've learned that there are a few things I can do now that help ease that dreaded Teacher Work Week stress - and keep me out of my classroom the weekend before school starts!  Here's some ideas to help your transition!

Back to School Freebie

13 July 2016
Hello all! Haley from Owls and Lessons, Etc. with you today, talking about the three worst words a teacher can hear in July.

Back. To. School.

Sorry.

I hope to make it up to you by sharing with you a little treat I used this past year to give my students when they arrived at open house/registration. 

Back to School Freebie for students

How to Transform Behavior Using Mascots

12 July 2016

This is Quentin the Quality Penguin.  He goes home with a quality student every night and the student writes about him.  He or she writes about what Quentin did at his or her house and reads it to the class the next day. Pictured next to him is his read aloud book that teaches about being a quality students. We sell his book in our store.  Just click the image to read more.  He really helps the class remember how to be quality students.  The students love earning "Quentin Dollars" when they do good work.  They use them in our class store.  This FREE DOWNLOAD is an awesome addition to our penguin mascot.


Growth Mindset Activity: Learning Style Quiz and Hemispheres of theBrain

09 July 2016
Would you like to get to know your students on a deeper level and discover their learning styles all at once?  How about a way to teach your students their learning style strengths while teaching them realistic ways to practice with the opposite learning styles.  Then this post is for you!
Growth Mindset Activity: Learning Style Quiz and Hemispheres of theBrain

We've been using Mindsets in the Classroom: Building a Culture of Success and Student Achievement in Schools by Mary Cay Ricci in our county.

One of my favorite activities I did in college was to learn if I was "right-brained" or "left-brained". We've all heard the talk about how we are either one or the other. Turns out, most of the successful people in the world have more balance between the two hemispheres. So, I wanted to create an activity that would not only gauge students' learning style, but also give them strategies to create the balance that successful people have. 

To read the rest of the post and learn more about learning styles, click here.


Summer Anchor Chart and Writing Prompts

08 July 2016
Even though it is summer, teachers are always thinking about great ideas for their classrooms. Some schools are in session year round and there is always a teacher looking for ways to enhance and encourage children to retain the skills they acquired during the regular school year. Parents and teachers alike look for resources to help keep their children excited about reading and writing.

Back to School Pin Ideas

07 July 2016
Back to school can be a very stressful time of year. I started thinking that in less than a month, I will already be back. No more shorts or flip flops. Or multiple cups of coffee. No more bathroom runs whenever I want. I have a lot that I still want to pack in this next month! But I still want the beginning of the year to be a smooth transition.

Why Writing Must Be Part of Your Daily Routine

04 July 2016
Writing has a strong connection to reading growth and achievement. Find out why in this post by Comprehension Connection on Virginia is for Teachers.

If your day is busy, and you're pinched for time, what do you eliminate from the schedule? Do you snip a few minutes from each lesson? Maybe you divide a lesson across two days? Perhaps you remove a lesson from the list? Whatever you do, do not short change writing, and here's why...

Google Apps for Education GAFE: Google Hangouts on Air

02 July 2016
Have you discovered Google Hangouts? Well, in this post, you can learn how Google Hangouts on Air is being used in one of our school and how it's worked.

If your school is a GAFE district, Google Hangouts can be useful in a few different facets. Google Hangouts is very similar to Skype, so it can be used to video chat with others as well as type to chat. It can open within Gmail and is easily accessible. This can be used to communicate with colleagues, other professionals that you would like to make a guest appearance in your classroom, or even parents! There is another awesome part of Google Hangouts that I am going to focus on today, and that is Google Hangouts on Air.


Too Much "Teacher Stuff"? Have a Teacher Yard Sale!

30 June 2016
Are you bogged down with too much "Teacher Stuff"?  Teachers are often collectors of items that are "too good to throw away."  So don't!  Summer is the perfect time to have a Teacher Yard Sale!  

Wondering what to do with all your extra "teacher stuff"?  Why not have a Teacher Yard Sale!?

This is the perfect way to reduce your classroom clutter (or your collection of school items at home!)... plus you can earn a little summer spending money too!  You can free yourself of "teacher stuff" in 3 easy steps:  Sort It Out, Organize, and Advertise!

Daily 5 in Upper Elementary & Middle Schools

28 June 2016
Find some great tips, strategies, and resources for implementing Daily 5 into an upper elementary or middle school classroom!
About 5 years ago, I was working for a district that required teachers to begin using Daily 5 for language arts. Initially, I struggled to make Daily 5 work for me. As a 4th grade teacher, at the time, I felt like some of the stations and activities were too easy for my students and not beneficial to them. Then, I had the opportunity to attend a Daily 5 conference with the authors of Daily 5, Gail Boushey and Joan Moser. At the conference, I learned several strategies for implementing Daily 5 in any classroom and have since found great success using Daily 5 with my upper elementary students. Today, I would like to share some of the strategies and resources I have developed over the past 5 years for making Daily 5 work in any upper elementary or middle school classroom.


Long Range Planning in 3rd Grade

27 June 2016
A couple of years ago I started drafting long range plans. It's something that keeps me on pace and looking at the big picture. Around this time every year, I begin to update my plans, and I thought I'd share them and how they've helped me out.

Google Apps for Education GAFE: Forms

26 June 2016
Learn the basics of getting starting with Google Forms with this tutorial.  Ideas for use, too!

Google apps are awesome and one of my FAVES is Google Forms!  I love the ease and versatility of forms.  You can create a form for students, parents or even yourself to complete and you will end up with a spreadsheet of information and data.  You can even use the add-on Flubaroo and make the form self-grading!


Parental Involvement Perfection!

25 June 2016
Research says that students that have involved parents do better academically! Would you like to boost parental involvement in your classroom?  Well, you already have the ability!  This post (along with an awesome book) will give you the push you need to ensure parental involvement perfection!   

Would you like to boost parental involvement in your classroom?  Well, you already have the ability!  My post (along with an awesome book) will give you the push you need to ensure parental involvement perfection!

Google Apps for Education GAFE: Slides

23 June 2016
GAFE, google slides, google apps for education

Here we go, diving deeper into using Google Apps as teachers!  I have only recently started using Google slides in the classroom, but so far I love it.  I am able to collaborate with my peers on presentations, make notes on slides, and do a lot of the same things that I can do in Powerpoint  With this post I am just scratching the surface of all of the fun stuff that Google Slides can do.  I hope this post helps you get started. 

What's in Your Pool Bag? Recommendations for Primary Reading Teachers

21 June 2016
Hi! I hope you are having a great summer! This is Sarah from Learning is for Superstars!

Today I am sharing what's in my pool bag this summer. 
I have taught first grade for the last six years and last year was my first year doing a first/second combination. Because of the number of students in our building, I will be teaching a first/second combo again this next school year. With that being said, I knew that I was going to need to make changes for the upcoming year. The book Reading With Meaning by Debbie Miller, is one that I had seen on Facebook posts and Instagram images and was curious about it.
A few thoughts ...
- proficient readers use prior knowledge while reading, make inferences while reading, ask and answer questions of what they have read, and synthesize what they read, just to name a few
- use a "catch and release" method of responsibility - model, model, model what you expect them to do, gradually release them to accomplish a task, and build up to applying your expectation during your guided reading time
- model just enough so the children understand what you expect from them, but don't model too much that they don't have to do any of the work because you've already given that to them
- allow time for reflection
- build relationships with your children - notice new outfits and shoes, or remember when so and so's grandparents are visiting, etc. - it shows your children that you care
- take advantage of teachable moments

What I really like about this book is how it is divided into different parts of the school year, focusing on what you need to do in each month.
I'm just going to share some of the thoughts that jumped out at me during the September section.
- How you start off the school year sets the tone for the rest of the year. If you don't immediately show and model to your children that reading is important, they will not think that it is, either. 
- Debbie Miller stated (p29) "readers read to get smarter and to learn about themselves, other people, and the world ... smart is something you get, and that through hard work, effort, and determination, they can accomplish their goals."
- learning is lifelong and vital
-learning to read should be joyful

Another part of this book that I like is how Miller has charts and tables to break down what you want the children to learn and how you, the teacher, can have your children demonstrate that understanding. Some of the ideas from these charts for September include:
- create a graph using sticky notes to show how many minutes the children can read at one time
- meet with a buddy to talk about the book they both read
- teacher driven mini lessons to model your expectations
- use poems, songs, and rhymes to build repetition, rhyme, and rhythm
- use read alouds - Miller states (p37) "Reading aloud motivates kids to want to learn to read, extends their oral language, and gives them opportunities to to connect new information to what they already know."

Yesterday I saw this blog post by Amanda Madden at Teaching Maddenness about her Top 10 Read Alouds for Second Grade. I have just made a new book list for my second graders! I can't wait to get these and dig in myself!

Happy reading!

Google Apps for Education GAFE: Classroom

20 June 2016
How to set up Google Classroom and assign work and give grades

If you're interested in learning more about Google Apps for Education or GAFE we're here to help. This series will cover how to Set up Google Classroom and the all the "Apps": Docs, Slides, Sheets, Forms and some really cool collaborative features like Hangouts! Google can transform your teaching into a more collaborative, interactive, creative, and even paperless classroom!

What's in Your Pool Bag? Setting up a Writer's Notebook for Upper Elementary Grades

18 June 2016
So here's my take...




I have a great book recommendation 
for your pool bag this summer! 

I found this book, Notebook Know How by Aimee Buckner, about six years ago and I still have it prominently sitting 
on my shelf behind my desk. 

I refer back to it constantly! 


Here are my top 3 reasons 
it should be in your pool bag this summer!

1. Motivating:

I don't know about you, but summer time is the best time to read a professional book. I become energized and excited and can't wait to get back in the classroom to try things out.It is a quick read at only 125 pages!


2. Ready to use: 

I used to struggle with how to incorporate a writer's notebook with mini lessons, journal writing time, and grammar during my Writer's Workshop. Aimee has many practical strategies and shows you step by step how to get a notebook up and running.What is nice about the book are the quick reference charts so you don't have to waste time re-reading sections! If you are a fan of Ralph Fletcher's, Craft Lessons, then you will love this book!

3. Comprehensive:

This was the biggest selling point for me! This book helped me to understand how and why to set up a notebook, how to develop and mold the notebook so students could see the connections from our lessons to their writing, and Aimee's book explained how to assess their notebook. Aimee's approach to the notebook gave my Workshop a soul. The student's notebook's became a part of them. I loved watching their proud faces as they protectively would bring their notebooks to our easel area for a mini-lesson or their eager faces when they would scatter around the room to get started on a piece. 


Of course I need something in my pool bag this summer too! I've decided to read Aimee's book on Nonfiction! I will be teaching Science and Math next year and I already know that I want to see students writing in their Science journals. I am hoping to get great ideas from this book! I'll let you know what I find out!

Happy Learning!!!


Summer Summer Summer Time!

17 June 2016
Today was supposed to be my last day with students, but mother nature had other plans! There were so many power outages, school was canceled on the last day... Which means that yesterday was actually my last day with students. My official last day of the year is Wednesday and it can not come fast enough. With that being said I am already in summer mode... so... cue Will Smith... and Enjoy!

Ok so, Im sure you already have your summer vacation plans together, but if you are a serious procrastinator like I am... Here are some awesome things that Virginia has to offer for you to check out this summer!

1. Virginia Aquarium: I mean who doesn't love the aquarium and checking out all the animals. Follow that up with Finding Dory and you have a whole two days of activities. Check out the link to see all of the exhibits the Virginia Aquarium has to offer.

2. Theme Parks: My personal favorite is Kings Dominion. It has the water and the rides. We go there and get the best of both worlds. and for me.. Kings Dominion is only a 40 minute ride! Busch Gardens and Water Country are also awesome!

3. I love to try to give my son learning experiences so a place like Monticello is awesome for him. He absolutely Love places where he learns new information and he asks tons of questions about what is happening and reads everything that he sees! Yes for learning!

4. If you are a nature lover I encourage you to go visit the Great Dismal Swamp with its beautiful wild life and foliage. There is tons to do there like hiking, biking, and fishing. You can also check the schedule for available educational programs.

5.This may not be family friendly, but as adults we need play time too, go visit a winery or brewery. Virginia has many wineries to choose from so just pick one and go. You could even pick several that are in the same vicinity and go check out multiple. Here is a list of the wineries/breweries in Virginia.

6. Finally, We all know that Virginia is for Lovers... So Why not go on a scavenger hunt for "LOVE" signs and take a picture with them all! Here is a list of where you can find all of the "LOVE" signs in Virginia. They also have pictures of each one so you can have them in your mind before you go. Also check out the different attractions in the places where you find the signs!


Whatever you do this summer, make sure you have fun, enjoy family and friends, and take some time to relax! We have worked hard this year so in the middle of all the planning for the upcoming school year take sometime for yourself!

What's in your pool bag? Summer Reading Recommendations for Teaching English Language Learners

14 June 2016
Every Spring, I get a ton of emails requesting professional reading recommendations for teachers who will be working with ELLs in the coming year. Whether you've been working with ELLs for years and want fresh ideas, or are new to working with ELLs, these books are a must-read!


What's in Your Pool Bag? Recommendations for Upper Elementary

13 June 2016
Hello all!

Today is the first official day of my summer vacation.  Last week, I spent days moving out of my 2nd grade classroom and in some really awesome PDs.  So today, I'm spending the day working on my bag of books!

When I found out that I would be moving to 4th grade next school year, I was a little excited at first, and then apprehension set in!  After all, it's been 7 years since I was in 5th grade, and only then, I taught math!!  So many changes had happened in my district- guided reading, Word Study, guided math...and not to mention, 4th grade is a testing grade!  I immediately ran to my wonderful literacy coach and begged asked for some resources that would be helpful in my transition.

What's in your Pool Bag? Summer Reading Recommendations for Instructional Technology Integration

11 June 2016

I have to admit, I am not an avid book reader and have plenty of other things I would rather do with the little free time that I have.  I am constantly reading blogs and online articles to keep up to date, I just struggle actually choosing one book to spend an extended amount of time with.  However, the one time of the year I do enjoy reading is the summer-- next to the pool or at the beach so this series is perfect for someone like me! 

End of the Year Activities

10 June 2016

Well we made it!   The end of the year is nigh and I know you can probably feel the warmth of the sun on your face as you open those doors and walk through them for the last time this year.  Now, before you get all wrapped up in those last day happy hour plans, you want to keep up the fun and learning until those kiddos leave your care.  Now I can already hear you saying But I don't want to...  Testing may be over and it's super tempting to find a bunch of videos to watch. Here are some great alternatives! 

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