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Teaching in an EduWonderland Blab Show

Here is the replay of our first Remind #SpEdRCE show!

This month we chatted about Teaching in an EduWonderland. We asked teachers to share about their wishes and ideas for an ideal classroom/school. We had a great group for our first show, including Jordan from Remind Headquarters!

Thank you to those who watched and chatted in the comments section. We also had some great Tweets I shared during the show.  Here is our entire chat for replay.

We hope you'll join us Wednesday, January 20th at 7:30pm CST/8:30pm EST for our next Blab chat.

Sunday Reading

This weekend I'm catching up on some of my favorite blogs and articles.  With so much content shared on a daily basis, it's hard to find things that are both relevant to my teaching and interesting without becoming overwhelmed.  I thought I'd share what I'm reading and loving so far.

The Techie Playground shares some Augmented Reality holiday ideas

Shake up Learning has the Ultimate Teacher Gift Guide.  This is not your guide to Sharpies and Mugs. We're talking 3D printers and Drones. You have to be on Santa's VERY nice list for these. :)

Megan from I Teach What's Your Superpower shares five great literacy posts this month! Our Reading Crew Blog Hop is even featured!

Really cute Christmas snacks I don't have time to make.

A NSFW (potty language warning) debate over the Best Time to Post to Instagram. I don't think it applies to my Teacher IG tribe, (We seem to IG at all hours) but it was full of LOLs nonetheless. 

It's no secret I'm obsessed with planners. This teacher prints her plans on post-it notes for her Erin Condren Teacher Planner!?!? #aintnobodybutthisladygottimeforthat #stillimpressed

Speaking of Planners, I've ditched mine and switched to a Moleskine for Bullet Journal fun.  I was completely hooked once I found this blog

Coffee mug cheers to the weekend. What have you been reading lately?

Reading in a Winter Wonderland

Put on a scarf and pour yourself some hot cocoa! It's time for our 2nd Annual Winter Wonderland link up!  Found at the end of this post is a "map" of The Reading Crew blogs participating, so you can hop through them all at once, visit some today and some later in the week, or see what best matches your literacy needs. 

On each blog, you will see a word in blue font. This is the blog's mystery word. Please be sure to record them because you will need each word for a five point entry in our raffle. To help you keep track, you can print and use this form. We are raffling off two wonderful prizes. We are giving away a copy of each book featured in our posts to two winners (K-2 group) and the (3-up group). Each prize package will include 12 books (K-2) and 13 books (3-up). I must say that I am SWOONING over these winter books. Some are old favorites, but many are new to me, including my selection Over and Under the Snow

Each blogger has shared their winter-themed book and lesson idea along with a resource. This may be a forever freebie or may be free for a limited time. Please take note of this as you visit the blogs. 

Again, we welcome you to our blogs and wish you and yours a wonderful holiday season.

Over and Under the Snow was written by Kate Messner.  Kate is a former middle school teacher and award-winning author.  My favorite fact I've learned about this author is that she wrote the first draft of this book on a school bus on the way home from a 7th grade snowshoe field trip in the Adirondacks.  Not only was it written on a bus, but scribbled in bumpy bus writing on the back of an attendance sheet! I'm usually gripping my bottle of Dramamine, and praying I don't get sick on the bus ride during a field trip! This author actually mapped out an award-winning book!

Though this book paints a beautiful picture of the winter season, I have mixed feelings about the cold. I am the girl wearing sweaters and scarves when it drops below 70 here in Texas.  On the other hand, I love the changes that winter brings, especially with holiday traditions and having a great excuse to wrap up in a cozy blanket.  

Messner shares, 
"Over the snow, the world is hushed and white. But under the snow exists a secret kingdom of squirrels and snow hares, bears and bullfrogs, and many other animals that live through the winter safe and warm, awake and busy, under the snow. Discover the wonder and activity that lies beneath winter’s snowy landscape in this magical book."

There really isn't any better way to describe this book than magical! When I first read this book to a group of second graders, I thought we'd never make it to the end. The illustrations are so beautiful, and the kids made so many connections as we were reading about animals who Hibernate in the winter that I lost track of what we were writing on our anchor chart! The second grade boys were especially interested in wondering what the fat bullfrogs might be dreaming about!

Before reading our book, I would invite students to share their schema related to animals in winter. Using sticky notes to share our schema, we will revisit the anchor chart after reading the story and completing the QR Code activity.  

Keep in mind that I teach 1st-4th graders, and I often adapt aspects of a read aloud lesson to fit that particular grade level.  My 1st and 2nd graders would spend more time with the Animals in Winter anchor chart than my 4th graders. 

My 4th graders would then revisit our interactive notebook entry related to imagery. I would explain that as we read today we are noticing what we visualize in our minds as we read the story keeping our five senses in mind.  I would remind students that good readers listen to the words and create pictures in their minds to go with the words. We would also revisit our thinking stem anchor chart and talk about how to describe what we visualize using complete sentences with details.

Focusing on imagery is one of my favorite ways to help students make connections with their reading and writing. As an intervention teacher, the more I expose my students to quality mentor texts like this one, the better they will be at creating images as independent readers and writers. 

I love the author's use of "a whole secret kingdom" and would use this as a discussion point to talk about what other connections we can make to what might lie beneath the snow and ground. 

My freebie includes informational links and QR Code Task cards related to the animals found in Over and Under the Snow.  Each animal listed also has a link to an information page students can use to research and record findings.  Each QR code will take the student to vivid images or videos of that animal.  I plan to use the set of QR Task Cards as an independent or partner station after reading the book together as a class.  This will give my students an opportunity to make connections between what we've just read, and the new information from a non-fiction online source.

I've also included a list of vivid verbs to focus on when teaching imagery, a page that can be use to create an illustration or diagram, and a fact sheet for students to record any interesting information learned about one of the animals as they complete their research.

If you are unfamiliar with QR Codes, FlapJackEd has a great Youtube Tutorial to give you a step-by-step guide on how to use QR Codes in the classroom. 
Pin for Later:

Don't forget! My mystery word is Hibernate. You can enter it onto your sheet or into the rafflecopter below. Good luck to you, and I hope you'll visit NotJANE again soon!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Reality Check

Happy Holiday Greetings Everybody!

I am blissfully into day one of my 9 day Thanksgiving Break. That's right. After (I don't even know how many) weeks of what feels like 24/7 school, we've made it to our first real break. I am SUPER Thankful for a full week off because an 8 hour drive to visit family can't be done over the weekend.

Mom and dad, get the waffle iron ready.

Wait, this is a mindful eating post.

Ok. Let's do some real talk.  I have shared over the years on my blog my ups and down with running and my love to eat.all.the.things.  It is no secret that I have self-control issues when it comes to food. I have tried and majorly failed at Whole 30 more than once, and have really slacked on exercise since moving back to San Antonio.  Excuses are like ________ everybody's got one. I don't have any other excuse than my priorities have been out of whack.

I read about Dee Dee and Rachelle's challenge last week, and it gave me a reality check. I always joke that I have reverse body dysmorphia. I see myself as the healthier/thinner me from more years ago than I'd like to count.  Then leave it to a non-IG filtered photo to snap me back to reality.

What worked?

I found an accountability partner and have made a plan.  (I love you Sandy!)
We set a food/calorie goal, step goal for our Fitbits, and will use SnapChat to cheer each other on. Although today's snaps were all about Baylor vs. OkState...


I used MyFitnessPal and only stuck to one food goal of no dairy.  Let's just say we've got problems...
This week I will have no excuse for not being more mindful of what I'm eating. I have few work distractions to get in my way. There is time to sleep. I can exercise each day. Also, going home for the holiday means mom will make sure I eat my veggies!

Looking Ahead...

I realize the challenge includes sharing my food log with others! GASP.  I can do this. #openbook

I am working on a post about how I hope to maximize my time off to plan for the month ahead, and The Mindful Eating challenge will definitely be part of my planning.

Being a teacher is hard emotionally and physically, and if we don't take steps to stay healthy, then we cannot be our best self for our students.  I love my job and school, and I want to show up each day with the energy and enthusiasm my students deserve.  Feeling better is big piece of the puzzle. Be sure to let me know in the comments below if you have any tips for getting in 15K steps or fitting in enough veggies and water each day!

If you don't already follow me on Instagram, you can go there to see more of my shenanigans or head over to Twitter if you're all business. ;)

Currently November 2015

November you are HERE! For some reason the first thing that comes to my mind is it is time to renew my vehicle registration.  How festive.

I'm linking up with my friend Farley to share my Currently status.

I'm LISTENING to my favorite podcast, and they are talking about taking chances with love. The story is great! One person shared how she more or less made a decision to fly to the UK because she was convinced it was her real-life Rom Com moment. Oh what a funny world we live it.  My weekend has been one big Rom Com movie moment, if you are the character who stays home alone and does laundry and doesn't wash their hair. Oh wait, this is getting weird.  On to LOVING!

I am LOVING my new OSMO iPad toy. I don't know how to explain it exactly, but it has a mirror extension piece for your iPad camera and it can see the letter or number tiles placed below which interacts with the app. I shared this photo on Instagram @notjaneedu because I love how vivid the images are with each word. My teacher friend in Houston shared you can even create your own word lists! THIS has me excited, because as you can see, the word FARM tripped up my sweet little learners. Oh dear. I have my work cut out for me. 

I'm THINKING about a new project I have sat on for months. I had a dream about it last night, and I don't know about you but my dreams are usually vivid so this kicked my motivation into high gear. All that to say, if you have a goal you've placed on the backburner for a few months due to the whole back-to-school nonsense, it's time to bring it out and stare at it for awhile! 

I'm WANTING to run now that it isn't 900 degrees.  My old running buddies are long gone- anyone up for a turtle-paced jog?

I NEED to clean because COMPANY IS COMING. That company would be the sister I never had- Sandy from ELA Everyday!!!! We are going to the Region 20 Tech Field Day here at Fort Sam Houston ISD on November 7th! You should check it out! 

I think my friend Farley meant for us to share a yummy on the last box, and I too love Cornbread Stuffing. Now I want to FFWD to Thanksgiving break so I can go to my parents and proceed to eat without stopping for four days. 

I am THANKFUL for each of you who take time to read and share with other teachers. Have a lovely day!

Remind Connected Educators Twitter Chat

My amazing Special Education RCE partner Valerie and I will be hosting our first Remind #SpEdRCE Twitter chat this Wednesday, October 21st in celebration of Connected Educator Month!

We are excited in the weeks ahead to invite Special Education and Intervention teachers to join our Remind Connected Educator group!  If you are interested in the chat, we will focus on the questions below.  Our chat is just 30 minutes, so if you are new to Twitter, this is a great way to try out an education chat and learn from some extraordinary teachers!

  • What have been some of your strengths/setbacks within SpEd or Intervention?
  • How do you bounce back from those setbacks (i.e. colleagues, mentors)?
  • In honor of Connected Educator’s Month, how can you grow your PLN to better serve your students as well as develop a growth mindset for yourself?
  • In what ways can small group intervention teachers and SpEd teachers be more connected?

Be sure to set your reminder for Wednesday night! We can't wait to chat and learn more from each other!

The Power of a Pencil

If you are my real-life Facebook friend, then you'll have already read this post. If you are blog buddies, I hope my Thank You inspires you to ask when in need, and give when you can. :) 

Happy Weekend.

Never underestimate the power of the pencil, or in my case, the need of a pencil.

In August, I submitted a Reddit Teacher Gift request. Each fall, Reddit pairs donors with teachers requesting supplies. My request was somewhat simple. As an intervention teacher, I do not receive a share in the school supplies students bring in August. Not wanting to burden classroom teachers with my needs, my Reddit request was somewhat simple. Basics such as pencils, glue, notebooks, folders, tissue, and erasers were really all I needed.

That's when a (then) stranger through Reddit (Brad) contacted me. He was a Texas donor who felt strongly that all teachers should be provided with the basic supplies needed in the classroom. He asked if I could share my story, and set a goal to go beyond my basic wish list and raise donations to help supply my class for years to come.

Brad's network of friends were quick to jump in to help, (even despite their concerns of whether or not I was running an underground loose leaf notebook paper operation☺). Some shared they planned to donate to a teacher in their own neighborhood (awesome). Together they donated over $500 worth of supplies and Amazon Gift Card dollars towards my class.

When the massive box of supplies arrived, the first thing I opened where the pencils.

I write all this to say thank you to Brad and his friends, and to challenge you to follow his example. Teachers spend on average $500 or more out of pocket each year on supplies for their classroom. Each and every donation matters. 

Flipping for Fall with the The Woman Who Saved Thanksgiving

While it may only be the beginning of October, I'm ready to talk turkey with this month's fall blog hop. When I think of books for fall, I think of one of my favorite mentor texts. Not only is this a nonfiction book about Thanksgiving, but one with an entertaining twist thanks to clever illustrations!

Each post in our blog hop will feature a fall-themed mentor text. You'll find ideas and a free printable for using the mentor text to teach a specific skill. As you turkey trot through the hop, you will collect a special word from each post. When you reach the end, you will use these words to enter a raffle. If you want to keep track of each Mystery Word, here is a cute organizer you can print to take notes on as you follow the hop.

Two lucky people (one for the primary path and one for the upper elementary path) will win all the books from our posts!

This is not an ad for Under Armour...but I do spy a turkey!

Thank You Sarah: The Woman Who Saved Thanksgiving by Laurie Halse Anderson, is the story of how Thanksgiving almost wasn’t a holiday. Sarah Hale lobbied to make Thanksgiving a national holiday. She used the power of the pen and a lot of persistence to get her message to several presidents. In 1863, Abraham Lincoln finally agreed! Much to the White House turkey's dismay, the 4th Thursday of November became a national holiday.

This mentor text can be used in so many ways with your students in all elementary grade levels. Personally, I love using this mentor text to generate conversations with my young readers about genre, author's purpose, and mindset.

As I begin my read aloud, I want to engage my students with the facts and rich vocabulary throughout.  I usually stop early on to question students regarding the genre and ask for text evidence to support their ideas.  I also stop at times to work with them on understanding new words like campaign, dainty, or persistence.  The illustrations and opportunities for historical noticings keep their attention and conversations focused as we read together.

Students often have misconceptions about author's purpose and base their ideas from illustrations and pictures alone. This text is a wonderful way to show that informational reading can also be entertaining!

In the past, I used the catchy PIE acronym to explain an author may write to Persuade, Inform, or Entertain. Deb Hanson from Crafting Connections has a great post about taking author's purpose a step further to teach PIE'ED, which includes Explain and Describe. The lovely Amy Lemmons from Step into Second Grade has several pin-worthy anchor charts she uses to introduce author's purpose with her primary students. 

But author's purpose is just one way to use this awesome mentor text. If you're looking for more reflection and comprehension, here is a great reading group guide from the publisher!

I've created a Forever Freebie that will supplement your lessons with this mentor text. I created a character wheel using descriptions of Sarah Hale.   Interactive journals play a big role in my planning and instruction, and I wanted to create a tool that students could use related to mindset and perseverance. Sarah is described in the text as strong, brave, stubborn, and smart.  Your students can use this wheel to share details from the book or create pictures to demonstrate why this is true . This is a great way to work with your learners on supporting their thoughts with information from the text! 

While you were reading did you catch my mystery word?  If not, it is turkey 

I'm so glad you hopped over today! Now it's time to grab another cup of pumpkin spiced latte and hop to the next stop with Cathy from The W.I.S.E. Owl ! Thank you!


GoNoodle Makes Learning Stick Giveaway

When GoNoodle asked bloggers who brain break to share their back to school ideas, my hands were high, low and Pop See Ko ing all over the place to share how I am using GoNoodle in my new intervention small groups. Sound like nonsense? Stay with me. :)

GoNoodle is a platform for ad-free videos all geared at energizing and engaging your students in a fun way. These brain break videos range from academic to straight up silly. In other words, just what every teacher needs to get through the day! Without a doubt, Koo Koo Kangaroo are my favorite stars on GoNoodle.

In August, I shared on the GoNoodle blog all about how I use their brain break videos to survive so many days of indoor recess while teaching in Houston by having a Hot or Rainy Day Recess DJ.

Now that I have changed roles, I had to find a way to use my favorite brain breaks with my intervention groups. I was concerned at first.  How can I incorporate one of my favorite tools, when I am only meeting with each group or student for 40 minutes?  Once I received my student list, and I noticed that one student in particular was in need of a very structured schedule. even within such a short time frame.  I quickly created a simple sticker behavior chart to help him see our time together in chunks.  For each activity we complete together, he is able to put a sticker on his chart. Once he gets four stickers, he gets to have a GoNoodle brain break! This has helped me quickly build a great relationship and manage his easily off-task behaviors.  He typically earns his brain break about 25 minutes into our intervention block.

Using GoNoodle doesn't have to stop with your students. I plan on hosting a GoNoodle party for my staff before our Thursday faculty meetings in September as a way not only to share the love, but help teachers re-energize after the stress of dismissal.

After standing in the blazing San Antonio sun smelling bus fumes, a few minutes of Class Dismissed or a cool down video like Let it Go will hopefully put a smile on their faces.

If you are new to GoNoodle, you are going to want to Run Like the Kitty Kitty over to GoNoodle and create a class account so that you can get in on the brain break action!

While you're there, you should stop by their shop and shop with the 15% discount code off everything BTSwithGoNoodle.  The code is valid September 4 - September 11. I plan to stock up on stickers and a new t-shirt

Want to win a great prize? Then I have GoNoodle has Champ Temporary Tattoos for your entire class!

 I will be giving away these great prize box prizes, just enter below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Made it Monday: I Love You But I'm Busy Planning

I'm happy to link up with 4th Grade Frolics today for Monday Made It!

I am slowly but surely getting into the Back to School swing of things.  Friday I attended a Guided Math Workshop here in San Antonio, and we had the entire afternoon to create station activities for our students.  Here was my favorite! (Mostly because this is something I would never have sat around doing on my own free time...I'm just sayin...)
These place value cups will be a great math station for my classroom. There were pre-printed number strips that we glued and taped to the cups.  There was also a task-sheet that students can use to record their work as they manipulate the cups.  I can think of many other ways to use this with smaller numbers in the primary grades or even with letters! 

I finally made something for my TpT store!!!

After Erin Cobb's session in Las Vegas, I had sketched an idea in my notebook for Polite Planning Posters. Erin spoke about not letting people use up all your work time at school chit chatting and interrupting with a million questions.

After playing around with the designs, I created a set of five "Motivational" Planning Posters for teachers to use to stay on track during their planning period. Here are a few ways I'm using them.

I added a cute frame to keep on my desk.

I printed these two-to-one to save ink and to create a door hanger with ribbon!

I plan to add posters to this collection frequently, so pick them up now at the sale price! Each update will include one motivational poster and one friendly reminder! ;)

I hope you are all enjoying the last moments of summer and looking forward to the new school year! I am allowed back into my classroom this Wednesday, so be sure to follow me on Periscope @notJANEscopes to see the reveal!

What are you Making this Monday? Any good items I need to put in my cart for the the BTS15 on TpT? 

Back to School GIVEAWAY!

My Firstie Friends and I are hosting a GIVEAWAY. You could win $25 just in time to load up your Teachers Pay Teachers cart and shop for Back to School!

FF Back to School Giveaway- Get it here FIRST.png

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wordless Wednesday: Changes

A week ago today, I moved from Houston to San Antonio.  Everything is still a bit of a mess (especially me).

As I anxiously await access to my new classroom, I wonder what advice do you have for someone who is new to a campus or team?

Be sure to visit Miss Decarbo at Sugar and Spice for more Wordless Wednesday posts.

Coffee Shop Vibe Without the Price

My quick and easy Bright Idea this month, is all about having that coffee shop vibe without the cost this summer!

I love to hang out in coffee shops pretending to be productive on my laptop. Once I actually took a stack of papers to grade with me to my favorite local coffee shop.

There's just one problem.  Going to Starbucks to work costs money that could be better spent (hello technology wish list or Kendra Scott necklace I want but don't need).  But when I'm home, I struggle with staying focused if the TV is on or if music is playing.  I love background noise, but not something I'll end up singing along with or waste time flipping between tabs to click NEXT. 

(Catches breath)

Here comes my Bright Idea. I use an app called Coffitivity for background noise.  What background noise you ask...I'll let them explain!

There's just something about that Morning Murmur that helps me stay on task (until the Periscope alert whistles) and I feel better about my work-at-home uniform of yoga pants and hoodies. You don't have to be at home to take advantage of this tool. There is also a mobile app for ios and Android! 

When I put this app on, I am able to stay focused for longer periods of time than I am if I have music playing.   

If you try it out, let me know in the comments below or tag me on Instagram!

Do you have other tricks to help you stay focused while working? 

Be sure to stop by more Bright Idea posts using the links below!

Wordless Wednesday: Grab a Chair

via Kaboompics

If you could sit down and have coffee with one person today, who would it be? A mentor, a friend, someone you've never met?  This image reminds me of Saturday mornings at the Pearl having coffee and chatting with friends.  Sometimes at a table on a city street, you can still feel like you're in your own world. 

:) Happy Wednesday

Periscope- It's All About the Hearts

Periscope can be summed up in 1 word- FUN.

Periscope is a live and recorded streaming service through Twitter.  It is a fun and easy way to connect with your followers. I've enjoyed watching several teachers out there scope over the past few days, and I even gave it a shot myself!!! Watching the playback I realized 1. I have shaky hands and 2. Pay attention to the comments!

If you are looking for someone new to follow, check me out @notJANEtweets! If you Periscope as well, be sure to leave your name in the comments so I can follow you too!

Building Mathematical Comprehension: Visualizing

Chapter 5 of Laney Sammon's Building Mathematical Comprehension, is all about the importance of visualizing mathematical ideas.

I often have students who jump to the conclusion that they "Just don't get it."  After having a conversation I often come to the conclusion they are missing the visualization piece.  If students don't have a strong manipulative background to build upon, it becomes even more difficult to stretch their thinking into creating models and diagrams to explain their thinking.

After reading this chapter, I went to my teacher search tool of choice, Pinterest, to look for some tools to encourage visualization. Here were three ideas that jumped out at me!

This app will help students visualize Base 10 concepts on the iPad. As I move to working with upper grade students as well as primary students, I will need multiple iPad resources to help with math.

Here Melissa from First Grade Smiles shares one of my favorite Making 10 anchor charts. I love beginning with unifix cubes, and revisiting the concept with this chart. It leads into so many good mini lessons and working with 10 strategies.

via First Grade Smiles blog

This post has fun Math Youtube channels for kids that I can't wait to add to my favorites.


Do you have any go-to ideas about helping students visualize their mathematical thinking?

How do you help those who get frustrated and don't want to draw out their ideas?

Please let me know your tips, and check out other posts at A Teacher Mom for this book study!