Today's topic is Back to School books.

There are so many great books out there that I like to use and I love adding new ones to my collection. (I get bored very quickly using the same book over and over!) 
Today I'm sharing one of my newer favorites.

Louise the Big Cheese and the Back-to-School Smarty-Pants by Elise Primavera and illustrated by Diane Goode (my sweet cousin). I love Louise Cheese (how fun is that name??). She always wants to be the "Big Cheese" and learns important lessons in each story.

In this back to school story, Louise is determined to get straight As, but she's "stuck" with the toughest teacher, Mrs. Pearl.  One day a substitute comes along. Louise figures out that an A from Mrs. Sprinkles is not the same as a B+ from Mrs. Pearl. Louise learns to not judge a book by its cover and that her dream of straight As means hard work.

This story is adorable and opens the discussion of themes and lessons. (Of course, I'm partial to Diane Goode's beautiful illustrations, too!) You'll just fall in love with Louise!

Along with thinking about this linky today, I've been thinking about the patriotic holiday coming up this week. The 4th of July is one of my favorite days. Not only do I love the cookouts and fireworks, I love the history. It got me thinking about patriotic symbols which led me to the Pledge of Allegiance. We say it everyday in school, but do the kids really know what they are saying? There are times they don't even say the right words. 

I always talk about the Pledge at the start of the year. For my third graders, it's the perfect time to teach them about the meaning behind the words. Here is a SIMPLE book that I use: 

You can use this book to discuss the meaning of the phrases and/or the tier 3 vocabulary.  You'll find beautiful photos throughout and explanations at the end of the book. I created this little FREEBIE to use with a study of this book or any other informational text you might have about the Pledge.  Click ✰HERE✰ to download your copy and enjoy!

Visit Classroom Freebies for more fabulous free products!!
Classroom Freebies Manic Monday

July?? Really? It can't be!! Hubby just said....summer vacation is half over! NOOOO!! I can't think about it! I haven't done half of the things I planned on doing yet! Ughhh! Where does the time go??

With July here it  means time for Farley's Currently. One of my favorite linky parties!

✰Listening to (and watching) lots of movies (and a couple documentaries) this weekend. Some old. Some new. Last night we watched Pitch Perfect (hilarious). Today was Best in Show (a dog lovers must see), and on the screen right now is The Perfect Storm (just like it). When I'm on my computer or cleaning the house, I like to have movies playing in the background. I usually put on something I've seen so I don't have to pay attention. I just like to listen to the background noise.

✰I ♥♥♥ my new iPad!! I ended up getting the 64gb with wifi (no 3g). I'm having the best time finding Apps for school and play. It's perfect for checking Facebook or blog hopping. As I set up some Apps for school, I'll be posting about what I think is useful. Can't wait to start using it in the fall.

✰Every 4th our besties come over for a cookout. We've been friends with this couple for about 10 years now. (They are both teachers, too.) We cookout. Swim. Chat. Laugh. In the evening, the husbands put on a fireworks show for us. This year they bought the "big stuff". Real fireworks from one of those fireworks tents. I'm not sure what to expect, but they always put on an awesome show for us.

✰Wanting my baby girl to feel better. Started yesterday with a stomach ache, then fever, now headache. Poor girl. No one should be sick on summer vacation!!

✰I have a list a mile long of "Things to Work on this Summer". So far I've finished ONE project. In all fairness to myself, I have been working almost everyday. Since school has been out I've trained and this past week was spent at a summer institute. I've only had Fridays off. SO...with that disclaimer said...I guess I have to be easier on myself. I also want time to just do nothing! I have no trainings this upcoming week. I will try hard to organize my time, without interruptions, to get some projects finished. I have 3 or 4 projects started right now. They'll get done, I'm sure. Maybe I'll plan a day at Starbucks to work. When I'm away from the distractions of home I tend to get a lot done! Do you have time set aside that you work on blogging and/or TpT or do you just work when you have spare time? Do you go into an office or other room to work? Would love to hear how you organize yourself!

✰The best tip I can offer for creating products is to start with what you know. Ask yourself "what works for me? What are my best practices? What activities have I found to be successful with my kids?" I also think it's important to create with your teaching style in mind. Products should reflect you as a teacher! Blogging is the same for me. If I'm not feeling the post, I can't write it. If I don't feel inspired, I don't write. I'm finding it hard to write this summer without being in my classroom, so I'm not going to force posting just to put something out there. I do enjoy throwing in some of my real life and I do enjoy reading about my bloggy friends' everyday lives. I hope through reading my blog you have gotten to know me a little. I feel like I have a whole world of friends out there and I enjoy reading about what is happening with you!

Don't forget to enter my giveaway! It ends on Monday. Click HERE to enter!

 Thanks for stopping by!! Enjoy the rest of the weekend! 
Hi fabulous followers!!

You have probably heard by now that Google Reader is going away on July 1st. Well, Google Reader may be going away, but I don't want YOU to go away! I hope that you will consider following my little blog through bloglovin'!  I know that change is I thought I might sweeten it up for you a little bit!

I am doing a giveaway for all of you, my fabulous followers that take the leap and switch over to bloglovin.  You may have already switched over!  In that case, this will be an easy entry!

If you have not yet switched or are not following our blog through bloglovin', then there are a few easy steps to follow.  You can go to my sidebar (that's the column on the right over there that shows my followers) and you can click the button that says Follow this Blog with bloglovin'.  Or, you can go into the Rafflecopter below and click the link in the first entry, and that will take you to my blog on bloglovin'.

You will need to set up an account with bloglovin' so that you can follow me.  Please be sure to leave your bloglovin' username in the Rafflecopter entry. (Get the App for your smartphone, too!)

If you want to go ahead and move all of the blogs you follow from Google over, you can go to this link and it will take you through the super easy steps, BUT please go to my bloglovin' link and make sure that you are following me through bloglovin'.  To be sure, confirm that the blue button at the top of our bloglovin' page has been clicked (it should be gray with the word following- if it's blue, please click it to follow!)

So, if you follow me by bloglovin, please enter my giveaway!!  I will be picking 2 WINNERS and each will get their choice of 2 PRODUCTS FROM MY TpT STORE! After you follow me on bloglovin', there are some other easy entries you can get to increase your chances! GOOD LUCK!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

I am by NO means a cook! I do cook for my family almost nightly, but I keep it simple. Very simple. Nothing fancy! I like to make soups, stews, and I use my crockpot often. Anything on the grill works, too. Today I'm linking up with Teaching Tales Along the Yellow Brick Road for this yummy summer linky! I hope to find some new (simple) recipes to add to my repertoire.
Like I said I am no chef, or baker for that matter.  I have some basic meals and desserts that I make often. We rarely go out to eat and that's fine with me (just not part of our budget).

One dessert, in particular, that I really like to make from scratch is banana cream pie. The recipe seemed daunting at first, then I made it and discovered it's not as difficult as I thought.

 Click ❀HERE❀ to see the original recipe with step by step directions and photos of each step (which I always like). DISCLAIMER: This is NOT a photo of MY pie! LOL! I wish mine looked like this!
Here are some tips and tricks that I follow when making this pie:
*To save a bit of time, I usually use a store bought graham cracker crust. (Everything else is from scratch. I do whip the cream for the topping, too.)
*Don't forget to press the clear wrap over the pudding! If you don't you will get a "skin" on the top! YUCK!
*I slice bananas and put a layer on the bottom before I put the pudding filling in the crust.
*I garnish with bananas, but not until we are ready to eat it.
*Don't let this pie hang around too long. Bananas tend to get dark and watery after a day or two.

I hope you try out this scrumptious pie! It is one of my family's favorites!

Bon Appetit!
For the past three years, I have been part of the Teaching American History Grant in my district. This summer the three years ends and the grant is over. Unfortunately, the federal government is not extending any of these grants at this time.  The leaders brought in so many experts in the field of history, we were given tons of resources, and offered trips to New York, Washington, D.C., and St. Augustine. The timeline of study was the Revolutionary War to Immigration. Next week is our last summer institute. The three years did come with some work on the part of the participants. We had lesson plans to write along the way and we were observed by the leader of the grant. All in all it was a wonderful learning experience that I'm happy I participated in.

The content area of today's Mentor Text Linky from Collaboration Cuties comes at a perfect time. I just finished writing my final lesson plan which was on the topic of immigration. We had to incorporate literature and my partner and I chose  Grandfather's Journey by Allen Say and The Memory Coat by Elvira Woodruff. Our plan focus was on comparing the immigration process at Ellis Island and Angel Island. These two books offer nice background knowledge, mixing fact and fiction. We also created a PowerPoint with more information and photographs of these two places.

In this first book, the author reminiscences about his grandfather's journey to America from Japan and describes the cultural differences. I especially like it because the author uses his own family's experiences as the basis of the story.

The Memory Coat is the story of a Jewish family leaving Russia for America. It describes their life in Russia and how they almost didn't make it past Ellis Island into America.

To round out a study of immigration, this book Shutting out the Sky: Life in the Tenement of New York 1880-1924 is a good resource, especially for the upper grades. It tells the story of five immigrant families and the struggles of acclimating to America. There are a number of photographs which brings in the use of primary source documents.

After reading these (or other books about immigrants), your students can write a point of view narrative. After gathering factual information, they start by creating a profile of an immigrant by filling in this prewriting form. Students can then use this information to write an historical fiction narrative.
Click HERE to download a copy.

Classroom Freebies Manic Monday

Thanks for stopping by today! Enjoy your week!

I feel like I have been totally MIA! How is it that I'm busier now than I when I was in school? Isn't it supposed be summer VACATION?? I have had very little time to devote to my poor little blog or to my bloggy friends! (I'm so sorry.) I hope as the summer continues things will settle down! Are you busy in the summer, too?

Thanks for not forgetting about me and stopping by for Five for Friday. I'm so thankful for this linky party, especially during times like these. I can always come up with 5 random things about the week.
 Here we go:

I posted last week about training teachers in using the new reading series and that continued into this week. I'll actually be training until the end of July. We have received a lot of nice feedback about the information we are disseminating. Lots of positive reactions to the Daily 5 model, too. I'm happy to see so many teachers open to change. On the other hand, there are some that tune us out as soon as we say the word!

 Last weekend I cheered my son, Dane, on at a 3 day water polo tournament. It was SO SO very hot outside that by the time we got back home I was melted and miserable. I DID NOT feel like working on anything! His team did get a bronze medal and he played well. I'm proud of him!

Hubby and son left on a trip to California on Thursday morning. Dane is attending a water polo camp at UCLA. He will have a chance to work with the coaches and players from that team. I'm so happy that we were able to give him this opportunity. I hope it gives him a vision for the future, too. Father and son will have some time to tour around Los Angeles. Good bonding time, too!

The best part of my week was reconnecting with an old friend. We had been BFFs since 9th grade (about 30+ years now). A few years back something happened and  I honestly don't remember what caused us to part ways. I found her on Facebook. Messaged her. And it's like no time has passed between us! She is coming over tonight for a visit with her 6 year old daughter  and I'm giddy with excitement. I am so thankful to have her back in my life. I knew she was always out there and she would always be there! Do you have a friend like that?

I'm FINALLY getting my iPad! SO EXCITED! What apps are a must have in your opinion? Do you have any that you can't live without personally or for the classroom? Do you have a case you really like? Looking for any and all suggestions! I will be picking it up sometime in the next few days.

I have 2 Freebies for Friday this week. The first one was in Sunday's TpT Newsletter! I was honored to have my product chosen!My Beautiful Bookmarks for Open House are ☼HERE☼ if you do not have them!

The second is another Back to School helper, Student Information Cards. I ask the parents to fill these out and I keep them in a notebook so I have important information at my fingertips. Click ☼HERE☼ to download yours.

Hope you find these resources useful and helpful! I ♥♥♥ feedback!
Enjoy your weekend!!

First week of summer and I have been a busy bee!! I had Monday off, but Tuesday started my summer job as a county trainer for our newly adopted reading series, Journeys.  I enjoy working with teachers (though they can be a tough group sometimes!) and sharing what I do in my classroom (obviously right?? that's why I'm here blogging!).  My training partner is a teacher on my team, which makes it extra fun and my BFF is also a trainer. We get to meet for lunch everyday. For Five for Friday linky with Doodle Bugs, I want to share some of my summer training.

The focus of this training is not so much on the new textbook, but more on what the literacy block should look like. My county wants teachers to move from a 90 minute reading block to a 180 block. This block should include reading, writing, speaking and listening, and language arts, but we also need to start thinking about how science and social studies might fit, too. Over the last several years, my county has provided teachers with an Instructional Focus Calendar for each subject. This was nothing short of lesson plans. Many schools demanded that teachers follow these plans day by day, minute by minute. So many teachers have had their hands tied for so long and now they are getting their creative freedom back! I can tell that some are super excited about this change while others are unsure, and still others almost DON'T want it. It's hard to teach an

The Gradual Release Model is another focus of the training.
We are asking teachers to look at their reading instruction in this way. I really like this model and how it releases the responsibility of learning onto the students.

Daily 5 is another model we want teachers to consider. My county is moving towards this and I'm thrilled. I've already been organizing my reading time using it and it makes me happy to see so many teachers willing to consider it. Daily 5 takes you from traditional centers to much more meaningful literacy time with virtually NO prep! If you do not already use it or have not really investigated it, I HIGHLY recommend it.

Teachers in my county have to look at writing differently, too. Gone are the days of prompt writing. AMEN!! I thought this day would never come! We have one more year of the dreaded writing test. ALL teachers, not just grades 4, 8, and 10 will be responsible for writing. Shouldn't that be how it should have always been? Not so much here!

Is your day set up to teach integrated units? Do you use Daily 5 and/or CAFE? How is your literacy time structured? I would love to have some ideas to share at my trainings!

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