Today has to be a quick post! I'm in Orlando and blogging from the beautiful Animal Kingdom Lodge! My BFF and I are here together to attend FETC. When we arrived we asked for an upgrade and YES...WE SCORED! We have THE most wonderful view from our room. Waking up to giraffes and zebras is just incredible. I feel a teeny tiny bit guilty that the hubby and kids are missing it, but it is nice to get away! (SHHH! Don't tell) Here is the view from our balcony. My daughter LOVES zebras so I have taken a million pictures for her.

Back to Show and Tell Tuesday...The topic is Valentine's Day!

Since my MLK Brain Booster was so popular last month, I decided to create a Brain Booster Freebie for February. The kids really enjoy these. It gives them a chance to think "outside the box" and have a little fun using their imagination. I think it's so important to provide creative projects that give them a chance to expand their thinking. These are great for group or partner work, sub plans, morning work, fun Friday time, or just plain fun! I like that a range of grade levels can work on these. I have seen them used in 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 5th. Expect response appropriate to your grade and students' levels. There are no right or wrong answers! My kids love to share their work, too. If you use these with your kids, please let me know the grade level you teach and  what you and your kids think by commenting here or leaving feedback on TpT.

Enjoy your week!!

I'm a day now 2 days late, but better late than never, right??
Here are my 5 random things from my week. Thanks Doodle Bugs for hosting this linky! I love it!

#1: My kids finished their MLK work this week. I love the way these clouds came out. They look so cute hanging up, too. My kids really wrote thoughtful real dreams! I was so proud of them. If you didn't get a chance to download my MLK Freebie, click here and save it for next year!

#2: On Thursday, my class participated in Distance Learning. The superintendent read to about eight 3rd grade classes around the county. Here is the funny part....I had to leave early that day and I told the kids my sub was going to be me. I couldn't let the Super think I wasn't in school. They got a kick out of that! He read Wild About Books.

#3: Our book buddies visited us on Friday. I just love watching them all read together. When I told my kids their book buddies were going to be first graders this year, I heard, "Yay! Now we get to DO the reading!" We meet about once a month. Sometimes we do a little art project together and sometimes we just read. One day I gave all the kids rubber gloves and we picked up trash around the school. They actually liked doing that!

#4: Did you ever have something in your room or classroom closet FOREVER and never used it? You know, one of those things you just can't get rid of because "some day" you will find a use for it? Here is what I recently dug out of my classroom closet:

How cute is this thing? It's a remote control robot!! It moves around AND you can talk into the remote and it sounds like the robot is talking!! My son pulled it out the other day and put it together. I'm not sure what to do with it, but it's darn cute! It actually came as part of a kit for healthy eating or say no to drugs...I can't remember. There is curriculum with it, too that I guess I should read. For now it's sitting on a chair in my room and has all the kids wondering!

#5: On Sunday I'm heading up to Orlando for FETC~Florida Educational Technology Conference. I'm SUPER excited. I LOVE learning new things. My BFF and I are going together. We have never been away without our families, so this will double as some "girl time". We are staying at Animal Kingdom Lodge in Disney so this is going to be a treat!!  (If I'm MIA this week now you know why!) Next week for 5 for Friday I will post new technology ideas for the classroom that I learned.

I hope everyone has a fantastic week!!
Tessa from Tales from Outside the Classroom is hosting a "lovely" linky! It's all about LOVE.♥ Who you love. What you love. Products you love. You get the idea!

Well, I feel like I'm going to repeat what I have read from other bloggers and what I have written about many times before, but I can't help it. It's TRUE! I LOVE my new bloggy buddies. It has been an awesome journey so far. I only started in October and the friendships I've made via the internet has been incredible. All of a sudden you find yourself "talking" over email or commenting on a post like you've known the person forever. The coolest part is when you find out you have so much in common. I "met" Michele at Coffee Cups and Lesson Plans and come to find out she lives in Syracuse which is where most of my family lives and is the hometown of my parents. I feel like I've made a connection with Stacie and Amanda at Collaboration Cuties. They are always so supportive and positive with comments and they share neat ideas, too.  The Sister Teachers, Jackie and Danielle rock! I started following (and loving) their Pinterest board this past summer and now we're friends!   I totally get where they are coming from because my big sis and I are teachers, too. I absolutely can not forget my bestie Denise at Sunny Days in Second Grade. Without her encouragement and support, I would not be doing this!

I LOVE Teachers Pay Teachers. I mean WOW!! When you look at the talent and dedication of the teachers in our country and around the world, it is simply amazing. This is the part that the public needs to see. The talent. The creativity. The ingenuity. The love of teaching that we have! I love that we can showcase our individual talents and receive accolades and appreciation from our fellow colleagues. What better recognition than from our peers?!

Of course, Valentine's Day is approaching. The day of love! I haven't really had a chance to create any products, but I did want to share a little project we do in my class. It is called Forever Books. This is an idea that I saw a few years back and I fell in LOVE with. I share with my kids books that I have always loved since I was little and these books are called my forever books. For example, one of mine is Charlotte's Web. This was the first chapter book my big sister read to me. I was about 5 or 6. She gave the characters voices and read with so much expression! I remember laying on our bed as she read aloud to me. I cried and cried at the end. After that, that was a book I picked up again and again! After sharing the books with my class and I send home this letter. You can download it, but you will want to type your own so it is personal to you and your class. Feel free to copy the wording on mine.

Click here for a copy!

I have to share the other two picture books that I will love forever. Now don't make fun of me!! Promise? These are very old books and I never expected to find them on the internet, but I did! The first is called The Churkendoose (the what???). It is a book about friendship and being yourself. The Churkendoose is part chicken, part turkey, part duck, and part goose. And he's scary looking! Everyone in the barnyard is afraid of him until one day he scares away a fox and saves them all. Then they love him! There is a cute rhyme at the end about being yourself. Here is the book (remember don't laugh!):

Amazon only has used copies of course! Isn't he cute??

My other Forever Book is called How Fletcher was Hatched. Can't believe this one is still around!
This old story is about a dog whose owner has been spending more time with baby chicks than him. Fletcher decides that if he "hatches" like the chicks, Alexandra will pay attention to him. Read it to find out what happens! LOL!  Just an old fashion sweet story!
I do own both of these books and I share them every year. They are old and tattered.  I think my kids listen so attentively to the story because they can't believe how OLD they are! Maybe they can't believe how old I am!!

I hope that you will join up and share the LOVE!! Happy's almost the weekend!!

Kids just crack me up! I had to share some recent funnies from my third graders. 

First, my kids keep what is called a Family Message Journal. They write to someone at home each week and reflect on the past week at school. In general, my kids have been doing a great job. They are really learning how to reflect on their learning. Here is a letter one of my boys wrote this week:

Is that hysterical?? Pretty close to Andy Warhol, right? Now this letter comes on the heels of another student funny. My kids are required to present at least one book commercial each quarter.  After finishing a book, they advertise their book to the class. The idea is try to entice others to want to read it. They make suggestions as to what is a good book for boys, girls, or both.
That said, here is how it went last Friday:

Sweet little girl: "Fancy Nancy is a great book for girls (brief pause, cute tilt of the head, adorable smile) or boys if your a drag queen."
Boy in class: "A WHAT queen??"
Me quickly jumping in: "THANKS. That was great! Let's give S a hand!"

How about that??  I was not about to explain that one to the class! LOL!

Click here for this copy from Scholastic.

Last, but not least, this one comes from a 4th grade class I had many years ago, but it remains a classic. The assignment was to report on a famous woman in history. One little girl chose Annie Oakley, a cool lady. She starts out by giving the usual info. Annie's background, life, what she was famous for, etc. Suddenly out of the blue comes, "and only one man could satisfy her. Wild Bill!"  WHAT?? It made me wonder....did her parents read over this paper? Did they know she would say that?? I will never forget that one!

Thought it would be fun to share some classroom funnies.  I know you must have a few yourself!! Enjoy the rest of your week!!

It's Show and Tell Tuesday! The topic this week is activities for the 100th Day of School. I am aware that the 100th day might have already passed for many of you. February 4th will be our big day. Now I'm going to be the time the kids hit 3rd grade the 100th day is not quite as festive as it is in the lower grades. I leave the 100 hats and the bag of 100 things and the 100 Froot Loop necklaces to the primary teachers. I DO, however,  like to have a tiny bit of fun and celebrate this milestone of the school year.  So, I sneak it in to our very busy and jam packed curriculum with this little ditty that I created. My "All About" Poster for the 100th Day.

I generally take the last 45 minutes to an hour of the day to let my kids have a little fun with their classmates. After all, we can't just work, work, work all day, right?  And let me tell you that my 3rd graders WORK! There is so much to cover in a day. In a school year. Often times I think we have lost sight of the fun parts. I know at times I find myself consumed with the rigors and demands of the 3rd grade curriculum, but when I take a  step back and put it in perspective, I have to remember they are just kids!  The last thing I want to do is pass on the pressure and angst of what gets placed on me. So my motto is "Just Teach". I close my door and I know in my heart that what I'm doing is right. If it feels right to me then I know it's right for the kids!  (Ok...not sure where that all came from! Hope I didn't ramble too much. LOL!)

I created a Pinterest board with some other 100 day activities that are really cute and I just might incorporate in the day. Hop on over and check them out. 
Of course, link up with Denise at Sunny Days for a ton more (and she has shared some good ones). You can link up, too!

I will send my poster to the first 3 people to leave a comment! Don't forget your email, too! Hope you are having a wonderful week!

Reflection. As teachers, if we do not reflect on what is working and what is not we can never get better. I love this linky because it gives me a chance to reflect on my week... both personal and professional aspects. I highly recommend that you link up with Doodle Bugs Teaching for 5 for Friday!

#1: Reflecting is just as beneficial for our students as it is for teachers. Marzano and Common Core has confirmed to me that students reflecting is vital to their learning. They need to express their own strengths and weaknesses. They need to think about what they do well and look at what they can improve on.  One tool I use to practice reflection is a Family Message Journal. I blogged about it a few months back. Check it out ⎨HERE⎬ and let me know what you think. Not only is this a wonderful way to develop students' reflection skills, but it doubles as letter writing practice and grammar, as well. The biggest component of Family Message Journal is the conversation it opens up at home. I just love it! My son used kept one when he was in 3rd and I still have it. It makes a nice keepsake!

#2: My week couldn't have started out any better! On Sunday, I awoke to find out my MLK Brain Booster Freebie had been selected for the TpT 10 Free Downloads newsletter. I was THRILLED!  The feedback I have received really has given me a boost! My family was so excited as we watched the downloads increase all day! Over 15,000 as of today. It boggles my mind! To think that that many teachers have something I created! WOW!

#3: Thursday of this week we had an Early Release day. The kids left at noon and we got the rest of the day for planning. Then today we had a planning day (and Monday off...yeah!) and with that comes training. Marzano and Common Core are making their way into our district. We are in our first full year of Marzano as our evalutation system and CCSS is being implemented in K-2 this year. By 2014, it will be fully implemented in K-5. Intermediate teachers are getting training in bits and pieces. I have done a great deal of reading on my own. I don't want to wait until it's here to figure out what I'm doing. Today we were shown this video and I think it's hysterical and SO TRUE! My hope is that Marzano and CCSS will give teachers back the freedom to teach the way we know is most beneficial for students. For too long now our hands have been tied.  This video shows what happens when we "teach to the test" and not just teach.
If you can't open it try this link:

#4: I came across this book in my collection of teacher resources and I'm so excited that I "found" it. 
It is a wonderful resource of mentor texts matched with various writer's craft. Perfect for what we have been working on in writer's workshop. We just completed an author study about Chris Van Allsburg. Now we are going to go back to his books and study his writing craft and try to "write like that".

#5: My principal is ready to start our first formal eval using the Marzano model. We have to submit a plan and pre observation form. When it's over we fill out a reflection form. She is fine with letting us tell her when we would like her to come in. I am thinking I want her to see either my reader's workshop in action using Daily 5 and CAFE or I will plan a writing lesson. I have been thinking that the writing lesson might be best because if for some reason she can't come on the scheduled day  I could easily move it to another day without too much disruption in my plans. What lessons have you found most successful for an observation? Does you school use Marzano as an evaluation tool? I would love to hear your about your experiences.

TGIF and Happy 3 Day Weekend!

Looking for some indoor recess fun?  Get on over to Adventures to Fitness. It's FREE. YES, FREE! All you have to do is sign up. On rainy (or snowy) days when you can't go outside, turn on Mr. Marc and your kids will get 30 minutes of movement AND learn something, too! Each episode takes the kids on an adventure to a faraway place and various geographic landscapes. The kids move in place by running, jumping, stretching, etc. so this is perfect for small spaces. My students love it! Recently on Facebook I saw that Adventures was offering a Skype session with Mr. Marc. All I had to do was "like" their Facebook page and email them with my name. I did and guess what? They responded to my email the next day telling me that my kids would get the chance to Skype with Mr. Marc for 15 minutes on February 6th. We can ask him questions and talk to him about his adventures. My third graders are over the moon! Don't you just love modern technology? We started a list of possible questions right away. We don't want to waste time or ask silly stuff!

Here are my kiddos enjoying some fitness fun.  Go check them out and join! "Like" them on Facebook, too! Maybe you will get a Skype session.
One more little thing....I was checking my Google+ page (anyone else using that?) and came across a blog post from Primary in Idaho. I headed over to see that Debra is doing something called 365 Blogs to Hop. She is trying to visit a blog each day for one year! What a fantastic idea and quite a goal! As I was reading her posts, I saw that my little ol' blog was mentioned! Debra wrote such nice comments! It really warms my heart to think that there is a teacher in Idaho (opposite end of the country from me) who appreciates what I have to say! ♥  So, if you are out and about blog hopping today, pop in to see Debra and show her some love!!
Happy Wednesday!
 It's time for Show and Tell with Denise from Sunny Days in Second Grade.
This week's topic is WINTER! It is really hard for me to "think" winter when it's 80 degrees outside. My kids are splashing around in the pool. I'm wearing shorts & flip flops and enjoying the breeze coming in through my open windows! Winter? Really? My 12 year old son traveled to Colorado Springs in December for a water polo camp. The first day he was there he called me crying his eyes out that his nose burned and his throat hurt. A true Florida boy! He was just not used to that dry cold air. After I talked him down, he got some Neosporin for his nose and cough drops for his throat and "survived" the camp!

Many of my students have been fortunate enough to have experienced a real winter. They have seen snow or been in cold temperatures, so they have a little background knowledge. In my last post ❅here❅ I shared a winter exchange project that my class participated in. We discussed winter in South Florida and my students learned that Florida has a subtropical climate and we have 2 season, dry and wet.  The project provided a fun teachable moment. (Yes, I strayed from the given 3rd grade curriculum. LOL!)

If you live in a snowy climate, do you have your students think about what it's like in a warm place? Are you thinking warm thoughts on a cold day?

Here are some activities for those chilly (or warm) winter days:

If you are looking for some warm winter read alouds try these:

Check this past post ❅here❅ for a Winter Wonderland of Great Books anchor chart my students have been working on and cute polar bear masks they created in art.

Keep warm today! 
(Or in my case, cool!)

I have met so many amazing teachers and forged so many new friendships through this blogging experience. Everyday I am more and more awed by how people can come together over cyber space. I guess it's the teacher connection that draws us together. I feel so fortunate to have Jackie and Danielle as 2 new friends. These sisters not only blog and create wonderful products together, but they teach in the same school and they even drive to work together! They were even chosen as Co-Teachers of the Month at their school. How awesome is this sisterhood??!! Originally, I was drawn to their blog and Pinterest board because my sister is a teacher, too. My sis and I don't work together, but I sure wish we did. She is about an hour away from me and teaches 2nd and 3rd grade reading and writing in a team situation. I would be her team mate any day! She is an incredible teacher!

 As it is, I do go to work with my family. My husband teaches 5th grade at my school. We have taught at the same school for many years and, yes, we met at school way back when. This year is interesting because we are in adjoining rooms...the closest in proximity we have ever been at school! LOL! You are probably asking, "how does that work out?" Well, we really don't see each other much during the day. (That sounds bad!)  I mean we keep our "work distance".  He hangs out with his team and I hang out with mine. We keep things separate.  I think our students think it's cool because we can be very silly together and there is a lot of joking around going on this year being that he is just in the next room. The VERY best part of being teachers together is that our 2 kids have been in school with us since pre-k. This year our son has moved on to middle school, but he still rides with us and catches the bus from our school. Our daughter is in 4th grade and her room is right next to mine. I LOVE seeing my kids during the day. I LOVE having days off together. I LOVE that I can be with my family all day long. I think it has contributed to our strong family bond and there is NOTHING better!

I applaud the Sister Teachers for their strong family bond and I am THRILLED to be part of their 300 Follower giveaway. They are raffling off tons of TpT resources. Get over to their blog and enter NOW! I also suggest that you follow them on Pinterest. They pin the best stuff!

Are there any other sister teachers, brother teachers, husband/wife teachers, or other family combinations out there?? I would love to hear your story! Have a very happy Monday!

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