Monday, July 9, 2018

Nothing is Better than Mountain Air


I have never been more serious about a statement than the title of this blog post. 

Nothing is Better than Mountain Air

I slept better, felt better, ate better...everything! 

I should explain...the eating better part is mostly because my mom is amazing and cooked perfect meals for all of us while we were there.
The sleeping part is definitely because Flynn slept SO well there, in the closet of our bedroom, so Will and I had some of the best sleeps ever! We slept in until almost TEN every single day! What?!?!

Each year my family spends a week together in the mountains, at my parents' summer home. It is always such a special week because we are all together, all in one house, all day! The kids have so much fun and it is truly amazing to watch the little cousins all growing up together! Flynn is not yet part of the "big kid" group, but I was so excited that she was walking around so well by the time of this trip. 


So that's the group! We are getting bigger and bigger in size each year. 2018 alone will bring us THREE new babies! We are so so lucky. I love that I grew up to be close with my sisters, have been able to become close with my brother-in-laws, and now I get to watch Flynn grow up close with her cousins! There is nothing more special than family. 

My favorite thing we did while we were in the mountains was take two boats out (yes, we had to take two since we are a big group). The older kids got to ride on Big Mable (if you're a lake lover, you definitely know her....haha! If you aren't familiar, she is the blow up couch you can pull behind a boat) and they had so much fun! We weren't sure what Flynn would think of her first boat ride, but she loved it! She said "weeee" the entire time, while her hair blew in the wind! This is exactly what she does at Disney anytime a ride is fast, or in the grocery store when I push the cart quickly, haha! She amazes me every day! Will and I dream of living on a lake, with a boat, one day...so we are so happy Flynn liked it! 



We also celebrated July 4th with everyone! Flynn got her first balloon creation from a balloon fairy, and loved it! Her outfit is from one of my favorite shops, Cecil and Lou! 


Flynn is in that stage where she is so happy she can walk everywhere she wants to, and I LOVE IT! So many people told me I would want to rewind and have her sitting on the floor in one place...that I would miss the day I could put her down and not worry about her getting into things...
UM....NO! 
I LOVE her walking!!!!! She is so fun! I am getting to see so much more of her personality!

(Another one of my favorite new outfits for Flynn is made by Claire and Charlie, but I shopped it at Oodles and Maggie in the Biltmore Village in Asheville. Click here to see their shop)

So I know this wasn't teaching related...but we all need a summer break! I wish I could still be in the mountains, but I'll settle for south Florida with my huge family for now ;) !! 

Thanks for catching up with me! Hope everyone is having a wonderful summer and taking advantage of extra time with your family!

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Elapsed Time Pack

What time is it?
Time for your students to learn how to tell ELAPSED time!



Below you'll see everything included in this pack! I am going to take you through a little explanation of what exactly all of that is that you see below.


On the left, the tan/blue/pink pages, you'll see the practice pages I included. I usually use these to practice the use of the analog clock before we start this unit. If they aren't great at reading the time on an analog clock, then they will struggle with the whole unit. It's great to address this at the beginning. I slide these into sheet protectors so that my students can use dry erase markers on them. This allows me to reuse these same pages year after year without recopying. Environmentally friendly for the WIN!

The four small decks of cards on the right are four different styles of practice questions. You can use these at a center, as cards in a game with a gameboard, up on your projector screen as a whole group, and in so many more ways! They can even be task cards! 
The reason there are four different decks is because I worded the questioning in four different ways. There are many different ways we see these elapsed time questions in the testing setting. The kids may be totally awesome at solving elapsed time questions, but if the test asks the question in a way they are unfamiliar with, then they will most likely get it incorrect. This allows you to present it to them in four different ways, making them even more fluent at reading/answering these questions than they were before!

In the middle of the photo you see the three white sheets of paper. There is a study and two forms of tests for this pack. I like to use one form of test and then if needed, I have the other form as a re-test. You can use one of them as a pre-test if you think some of your kids maybe don't really need to go through this whole pack (your advanced kids). You can also use them both simultaneously if you think your kids may feel tempted to look at their neighbor's paper for answers ;)

Click here to see different photos and read more about this pack!



Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Compliment in a Jar - End of the Year Gift to Students


One of my favorite end of the year gifts for my students is now posted online! 

It is pretty self-explanatory so I am going to save you from my jib-jab this time around, haha!

The steps are all included in the PDF, but quickly...
You just print out the pages with the phrases on colored paper of your choice, cut them up, fold them, and place them in the jar. Then print out the labels with poems on white cardstock, hole punch, and string a ribbon through to make it cute :) 

This gift is great because it gives you the chance to inspire your students all summer long, every time they read a piece of paper from their jar. Also, it shows a lot of love and effort from you, as their teacher, because you can make it super personal if you add in some of your own phrases they are familiar with you saying, as well! You can even handwrite a few!




Three Step Learning Process

New free item on Teachers Pay Teachers today! 



These learning process posters are one of the smallest, yet most important, pieces in my classroom. I refer to them daily (mostly during math lessons when kids start to get frustrated that they aren't "getting it" as quickly as others). 

When you explain these posters to the students, you'd need to go slowly through each step. Once you've explained it to them once, then you can just refer to them quickly when you need to throughout the year.

How I explain these:
Input: "When information is going into your ears and you let it settle in your brain before it goes out the other ear. Whether I am reading out loud to you, when you are watching a movie, when you are listening to me teach a lesson, or when you are reading a book or set of directions, you are using this step of the learning process. You have to let it enter your mind and think about it so it doesn't leave out the other ear...otherwise, you'll never be able to enter the next step."
Process: "When you start to understand the topic or skill you are learning about. Even if it just that the first step of the math problem makes sense, then you are in this stage. If you understand what is going on in a story, then you are in this step. You are in this step for a long time sometimes. You may think you 'get it' but sometimes have trouble doing it on your own. That is OK!"
Output: "When you 'get it' and could even maybe teach someone else how to do it! If you can tell someone about a story you read or a movie you saw, remembering all of the important events or details. When you can teach someone or help someone with their math work. You will work hard to get to this stage, but once you are here, you are here forever with that skill!"

Importance:

It is important for students to know that it is OK to be in "limbo" with their learning sometimes. Sometimes they are stuck in the process stage a lot longer than they want to be, and they start to doubt themselves. It is important you remind them they are on step 2 and only have one step to go!

It is also important for you as a teacher to understand which step the student is on. You may think they know what they are reading and get frustrated with them for not being able to answer questions you ask with details or evidence...however, maybe they do not even know what they are reading about? Maybe you think they are in the process stage, but they are really in the input stage!


There are also little versions of the posters included. These are for those times when you decide you want the kids to have copies of these in their journals or on their desk for personal reference. Or maybe you want them to take them home so they can be reminded while they work on homework. Whatever your reason, they're here if you need them!

Click on the link above to see this product on TpT

Also....gotta tell ya...I turned 30 last weekend and it feels great!
I feel so lucky to have my little family (dog and cat not pictured...haha) and it makes getting older feel so amazing actually! I feel like each year makes me luckier to be healthy and have the family I have around me!

My niece helped me blow out the candles! :) 

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Quick Rubrics

This is going to be so quick, y'all!!

I have never EVER been one to pretend that I have it "all together" in my classroom. I rarely ever do! It doesn't matter how nice something looks, it matters that it is effective for your students! As long as the guidelines are clear and they know your expectations, you're set! That's where this last-minute rubric comes into play!


I start by explaining to my class what group work we are about to begin. Whether it is a project, presentation, whatever...doesn't matter. Maybe you have a hand out of project guidelines, maybe a PowerPoint...maybe you're just explaining them out loud...again, it does not matter!

Once the kids know what they are going to be working on, they should be able to predict your expectations. This may not work as well earlier in the year, as they don't know you as well yet; however, later in the year, this becomes completely student-led. 

Kids will start to name things they think you will be looking for while they work. Usually teamwork or cooperation, effort, neatness, etc. come up first. Then, there will need to be some things you're looking for that go directly with the task at hand. In the photo above, the kids were doing some work with researching. Since we were really just practicing how to research, they were mainly expected to use both their books and the computer. In other projects, I am usually looking for more standard-based skills (the ones I am assessing). You may have the help them out a little if they don't come up with everything you want them to. I try not to surpass 5 things that I am looking for. It becomes too many after 5. These are the things listed in blue above. 

I write these things on sticky notes (however many groups I have, that's how many stickies I need) and hand them to each group. They write their names on it right away (that is what you see in pencil above).

I then tell them to GET BUSY! Haha! They start working and I go around with some sort of pen that the kids won't also have (so they can't add their own stars) and star off what they are doing WELL when I walk by or listen in to their group. It is important to go to each group an equal amount of times. This holds me accountable to really walking around and monitoring while they work. This also holds them accountable for those traits and skills I am looking for. If they are not doing something they should be, I do not give them a star. I sometimes make little notes, if I have to, for my own memory. 

Once you are done and it's time for the kids to be done (you can use this rubric over a span of a few days, if needed, just make sure you collect them each day so you keep possession of them) then you collect them and you can use them to help you when you actually grade them. You can still use a more formal rubric when grading them, but this will help you with what they actually did while they were working and not just allow you to grade their final project only. 
Sometimes, it is about the process...not just the product!

Wedding Shower by Oriental Trading


I am super duper late getting this post to you all, but I feel like I should just blame it on my 11 month old ;) haha! No, she is actually the easiest baby EVER and I am so lucky! I just definitely choose to spend my time with her, and put work second...which is great....but sometimes you gotta work!

Also..sometimes you gotta party!
And that is just what we did for my sister, Caitlin, when we showered her for her wedding in the Fall. This party was a combination of decor/supplies from Oriental Trading and decor I created on my own. 

The "Mrs. Berk" sign was just created on my computer, however, everything else you see in this picture was from Oriental Trading!  


The tablecloth, palm leaves, garlands, little donut hole tooth picks, and plates/napkins are all Oriental Trading products! Of course, the letter board was something we already had....doesn't everyone? Haha! If you look closely, you will see the pink tablecloth has a black/white cloth over it on the top...do you see it? THAT tablecloth has lasted us through SO MANY PARTIES! My sister has had that roll of black/white cloth foreverrrrrr and it literally has decorated at least 7 parties by now! We used it for my baby shower, her wedding shower, and her super bowl party...to name a few...and she still has more left on the roll! That stuff is highly highly highly recommended! 

When you first walk in I had a Jenga table set up. No, not for playing! This is where guests and family wrote little messages for the happy couple on Jenga blocks! They get to keep this as a married couple, and when they play the game as a family they can see everyone's sweet messages! 
(There's that black and white tablecloth again!) I made the little instructions card on my computer. 


Our little photo booth set up worked out so well! It helps that the wall in her home is BEAUTIFUL! Balloons are also from Oriental Trading!


We had the gifts set up with balloons around the TV stand. No...football did not stay on throughout the party...haha! We changed it to a music channel. 

The garland below is actually made from bed sheets I got from Wal-Mart! I cut them into strips and knotted them around the string! I actually really REALLY love how this came out. In the future, I would have steamed this out before hanging it... 


Of course, every good party has great food! 
It was sort of like a late breakfast, almost lunch time of day...so it was really just food to pick at while you talked with friends and family. 

I love how the palm leaves look scattered throughout all of the different tables at the party. You have to look closely, because I did not get a great photo, but there are sweet little votive candles all over. The battery operated votive candles AND little gold glasses they are in are from Oriental Trading. I think these are my best pick because I can use them for everything! 


Cutest, sweetest, most adorable toothpicks for eating donut holes EVER!





I created the water bottle labels on my computer.
I printed them on 8.5x11 sticky label paper (made for mailing labels), cut them, and wrapped them around to stick. It really only sticks well if the water is not cold first. 


These "thanks" bags for take-away presents were adorable. I filled two different ziplocks with candy (his favorite and her favorite candies) and put them in the "thanks" bags. People loved the personal touch of the candy being the favorites of the couple!



-Sisters-


Thanks everyone! I definitely only go to Oriental Trading for my party shopping. I have learned my lesson one too many times at the Party store in town. SO EXPENSIVE and the quality is not great. Oriental Trading always gives you a great amount of product for the price and the quality is awesome. I have never had a problem...that's the truth! The colors of things on their site always look right when they come in the mail...that is another concern when throwing a party. They also have a lot of themed stuff, but it also goes well as color schemes, too! I just love them! 

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Happy Notes for Parent Communication

No matter what method or system your school uses for positive feedback to students and parents, this organizational tool will help you keep track of which students you have given positive feedback to, and which ones you might be forgetting. 

To use this system, you simply write the names of your students down the first column. You can print as many pages as you need depending on how many classes you teach. Then you just put a tally in the box under the month you are in each time you send a positive note home with that child. You can keep track, making sure you are sending home happy notes as equally as possible with all of your students each month. Sometimes the students we forget are the ones who are actually behaving so well everyday! We forget we need to compliment them, since they are so self motivated already!

This item is not editable, so you will have to write your students names in, and will not be able to type them in. However, this is not so hard since it is not a formal document, you can usually just write their first names in each box. 

Below you can see the item cover that you will see on Teachers Pay Teachers. There are 14 different designs in total, 3 of which are black/white (printer-friendly) - those are not pictured in the photos below but you can see them if you follow the link to TPT and check out the item photos there!