Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Summer Fun Giveaway

Hello, friends!  It's Megan from Mrs. Wheeler's First Grade.  Today's post is a quick one about a great, Summer Fun giveaway the authors from A Spark of Inspiration have brought you!  It was so much fun shopping for these goodies!  Aren't there great things in the bag?!?!  This would be grat to take to Vegas!  Someone will be very excited about winning!  To enter, complete the Rafflecopter below.  Good luck!  Winner will be announced this weekend!


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, June 29, 2015

Saying Hello! The Brown Bag Teacher

Hello, friends! I'm Catherine Reed and I'm so excited to join the amazing teachers behind A Spark of Inspiration. I blog at The Brown Bag Teacher and this month marks the second year I've had my corner of cyber space. Today I just wanted to take a few seconds to introduce myself, and then, I'll be back next week to share some writing tips from my 1st grade classroom.
I am a 20-something teacher based out of Central Kentucky. This is my 3rd year teaching, and I am currently teaching 1st grade (and loving it!).
I love all things Kentucky - farms, rolling bluegrass, Derby, and most definitely, rocking chairs. This summer I've been spending a whole lot of time reading and rocking. It's wonderful! 
Although a self-proclaimed anti-shopper, I am a Stitch-Fix loving girl. I am all about clothes that arrive at my door that fit and I love. From sailboats to humming birds, I am all about prints lately! :)
Although I am a Kentucky-girl at heart, I absolutely love traveling. My junior year at college, I spent the year studying government (my second major) at the University of London. When in Europe, I visited 8 different countries and have a HUGE itch to return! That's not in the budget right now, so I've been visiting lots of different corners of the United States.
Last, but not least, I am a veggie-loving girl. I've been vegetarian for over 2 years and love the way it makes my body feel. Some vegetarians live on salads, I live on cauliflower...not even kidding. Below you see cauliflower lasagna (which is out of the world), but Foxes and Lemon's cauliflower pizza is the best food I've ever put in my mouth. End of story.
If you want to know more about me, you can check out this ChatterPix Video my 1st grade friends made about me. They pretty much have me nailed! :)
As I mentioned before, this is my 3rd year teaching. My first year I taught 5th Grade ELA outside of Lexington, and it was a hard-but-wonderful year. Teaching 93 minds each day is exhausting work, but I learned SO much that year. You can see more of my 5th grade space here.

Last summer, I moved to my hometown in Central Kentucky and how teach 1st grade. I absolutely love 1st grade and am so happy teaching my smaller friends. :) You can click here to see more pictures from my 1st grade space!

Well friends, I am so excited to be joining the amazing teachers of A Spark of Inspiration. I'll be back next week to share about one of my favorite 1st grade writing strategies. In the mean time, I'd love to connect with you. See you soon! :)

Teaching Digital Citizenship

Hi friends! It's Kayla from Top Dog Teaching  and I want to share a little bit about a major passion that I have when it comes to students and technology. When I'm not blogging, teaching, or speaking at conferences, I get to write for the number one resource for edtech resources online, EdSurge. My most recent article focuses on digital citizenship and helping our students build a positive digital footprint right from the get-go.

You can click How You Can Become a Champion of Digital Citizenship in Your Classroom  or the picture above to read the full article. I can't believe it's already been shared over 1,000 times in just a few days! Edutopia even tweeted about it. How cool is that?

I'd love for you to share your thoughts in the comments below or connect our classrooms if you're already tweeting! Thanks for reading!

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Summer Painting Projects

Howdy ya'll!!  I am so excited to be joining this amazing group of teachers and this incredible blog!!! 

My name is Greg and I blog at The Kindergarten Smorgasboard!   I teach Kindergarten in Nashville, TN!   This will be my 10th year teaching (7 in K).   I live with my husband, Jason (the mister) and our two golden doodles, Butters and LuLu!   

In my classroom, we foster choice, freedom and responsibility.  We also thrive on making messes and creating beautiful art work.   I am a big proponent of bringing fun and art back into our classrooms all while meeting our academic standards.  The standards are there.  We can't ignore them.  We can't change them, so we can at least make learning fun and artful!!

I also love glitter.  The more glitter, the better.   #messy=success

So for my first post on Spark Of Inspiration, I wanted to share 4 simple, fun and summery painting projects you can do with your students or at home!

Footprint carrots!  This is always a favorite!   You'll want lots of sanitizer for this one!   Paint their toes green and the foot green!  Press onto paper!  BAM!  Carrots!

Celery flowers.   Cut the bottom third of a celery bunch off.  Dip into paint  and stamp onto paper.  Use fingers to paint stems!

Fingerprint dandelions.  Paint a stem with your fingers.   Then use white paint and fingerprints to make the dandelion flower.  

Students can write a wish to go with their dandelion!

Sponge flower!   Draw, paint or use brown paper to make a flower pot.   Paint a stem.

Cut sponges into flower petal shapes!   Dip into paint and stamp around the stem to make the flower.

Add leaves!

Saturday, June 27, 2015

A Practically Perfect Way to Promote Great Behavior!

I am a big believer in the idea that today does not have to be a repeat of yesterday's mistakes. When I was in the classroom, my teaching partner and I had signs in the front of our classrooms that read: You Can ALWAYS Turn Your Day Around. It was a frequent subject in our morning meetings and a hot topic in our chats with our kids. So when my favorite work wife mentioned an idea she had for her kindergartners, I happily volunteered to "cute it up" for her.


Whenever her students had a "positively purple day," she wanted a way to track it in their Leadership Notebooks. The idea was that the chance to color a star on their page each day would get her kinders excited and ready to work a little harder each day.  

After a couple of months she asked me to add a second page because some of her fantastic tiny people had already had 30 Positively Purple Days. Hooray! It was working! Her kids loved seeing their fan-tas-mical days add up. It was great for number recognition and counting as well. 

I started to work on it, and it occurred to me that some people have a clip chart that stops at blue. Or pink! Or no clip chart at all! And so a freebie was born. :) 

There are 11 pages of resources PERFECT for your leadership notebooks, RTI folders, or daily communication folders. I've written a little more about it over at A Spark of Inspiration and I would love for you to check it out! 


Click on any of the images above to grab the freebie from TpT! If you're looking for a particular way to track behavior that you don't see, shoot me an email and I'll see if I can help! 

Thanks for stopping by! 

Thursday, June 25, 2015


Hey guys!  It's Angie from Lucky Little Learners and I am back to talk about how I was able to motivate and celebrate reading in my classroom at the end of the year.  Reflect on your classroom right now.  Imagine it's the end of the year...actually last month of the school year.  How were your students doing with their motivation to finish strong with their nightly reading homework?  If yours were like mine, most of the parents were having a really tough time getting their students to read in the evening.  It's as if they were in summer mode and we had another month to go!  I knew I had to do something different.  The sticker charts were losing their excitement and I didn't want to just throw in the towel just yet!  That is when an idea came to my teacher brain!  Introducing...READING FOR ICE CREAM!

Here's how it works:  My students were required to read at home every night during the school week (weekends were optional).  Parents were responsible for recording the number of minutes that their son/daughter read.  This was recorded in the child's BEE Binder.
My students were rewarded with a reading sticker for every 10 minutes that they read at home.  The reading stickers were kept right on their reading recording page from their BEE binder.  Once a child earned 10 stickers, they moved their name up to the next scoop on our ice cream data wall.  Each scoop was worth 10 stickers and 1 ice cream topping of their choice.

Boy, did my kids step up to the challenge in BIG WAYS!  Can you believe that in the LAST MONTH of school, my students had their highest reading homework minute totals that they had all year long?  Yes, the last month of school!  I had 3 students that pushed themselves to get to the top of the ice cream cone.  That means they read 1,000 minutes in one month!  This teacher's heart was HAPPY!!!  Unfortunately, I had 4 students who rarely did their reading homework minutes all year.  I made it clear to my students that hard work pays off in 2nd grade and that this was something that needed to be earned.  If the reading homework was not completed, no ice cream would be given.  Honestly, I was worried.  I wasn't sure if those 4 students were going to make it.  Guess what, they did!  Not one student had to miss the ice cream party!
Are you thinking that this is something you could do in your classroom?  Here's just a few logistics that you should know.  The title of the display was created using DJB Lemon Head Blocked Font and the font size was increased.  Each topping was made from a piece of 11x18 piece of construction paper.  I just made a tracer template and used it for each color.  The cone was drawn but super easy.  I laminated everything so that the students' names could be easily moved without tearing the paper.  The names were laminated with a piece of tape on the back.  I feel it is important to allow your students to move their own name tag.  There was something rewarding and motivating about them doing this action themselves.  When the day of the ice cream party finally arrived, I had plastic bowls of toppings that included M&M's, marshmallows, sprinkles, whipped cream, gummy bears, chocolate chips, Kit Kat pieces, mini Milky Way candies, Butterfinger pieces, caramel, fudge, and the list goes on.  I started at the top of the chart and those who had the most toppings got to make their ice cream sundae first.  It was a really fun day and the kids were beaming with pride!  It was so neat to see!

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Use Google Classroom to Connect With Students

Our district has gone full Google.  Full Google comes great responsibilities and unlimited possibilities.  One of those possibilities is connecting with students ALL SUMMER long.  That's right, you heard me.  We've all got those students that need to be working  (in some capacity) all summer long.  Google Classroom affords you and your students those possibilities.

The chance to help my students stay connected to school and teachers during summer is a great big game-changer.  We don't have to rely solely on tutoring.   We're able to meet our students' in the mediums they find the most interesting and sometimes most successful....technology.

I'm trying it out with a few of my students this summer.  I want them to stay active with their reading, writing, and math--but most importantly I want them to continuing learning and growing and expanding their potentials as people.

Some of the Details:
  • Contacting the parents and making them aware of this is vital.
  • I'm creating individual classrooms for each of my students (you may only need one single classroom, the choice is yours).  
  • Most students will create projects using slides.  Each slide contains books, movies, or summer experiences.  They're simple and quick but let the students design and be creative.
  • The students' involvement will dictate the success.  This only works if students participate.  It's the summer, I'll understand.

One of the first assignments was to was a funny video and comment back with your thoughts.  I'm not using buzzwords like critique or think critically with.  I'm not concerned about spelling or grammar.  I just want their brains turned on.  There can only be so much Netflix watched during the day.  I'm just working on engaging the students and work within the technology.  So far, so good!

I've started a variation of this with my own daughter, who will be creating on Slides (as seen below).  She is making a page for every book she reads.  Right now,  the Big Nate series is her go to stuff.  Eventually, she'll get to the I Survived series and Beverly Cleary.  She's excited.

For those of Google gods out there, have you tried this?  
What kind of feedback have you received?
Any other tips or tricks you'd want to provide?


Monday, June 22, 2015

Design In Mind

Hey everyone!

I discovered something about myself at the end of this school year, as summer vacation drew near (I'm on it now). I am one of those people. You know, the one that hasn't finished their school year and already is thinking about the next. My co-workers may have been disgusted with me and I'm ok with that. I used to think that too until this year.

What did I do to get ready for the 2015 school year?
To get ready, I made my own class schedule labels, organization labels, binder covers etc.

I am moving rooms. My stuff is packed up and in the corner of my new room which needs a major makeover. Dare I post pictures of what it looked like as the current teacher was packing up to move to my old room? #yesidare  #hopeshedoesntreadthispost

That orange is coming off! 

She doesn't have many bulletin boards, so I need to get creative with the walls and cabinets. That file cabinet is gone with her and I took my black one with me. 

People. Do you see what I have to work with in this portable? I'm dreading going in, but I know the outcome will be worth it.

Yes, we are switching rooms and grades. I plan to go in sometime this summer (it'll most likely be in July as August is now all training days for me haha)

What theme did I go with? I went with a color scheme of black, white, and teal/turquoise.  It's classic, will last a few years, and is good for 4th grade.

Pillows and mat for the entry. We're in a portable, so there will be mud. Plus I got a rug to fit in my library.

Fabric for the 1 bulletin board in the room (well, there might be 2). Binders for subjects, substitute, reading groups, etc. I actually need 2 more of each haha.

Then I created all sorts of labels and posters for everything.

Plus I'm getting an order from Teacher Created Resources with matching bordettes and magnetic strips for my whiteboard.

Today, I have a freebie for you! I made some motivational posters to go with my theme, but for you, I made the background black  so they go with pretty much anything!

Just click the picture to grab!