Cyber Monday Sale!- Support Small Business

Who doesn't love a sale?  Join the party over at Teachers Pay Teachers.  Great savings begin on Monday and Tuesday, December 1st and 2nd.  Shop the cyber sale and save 20% on my entire store.  Use the promo code TPTCYBER to save an additional 10%.  Since we all go back to work on Monday, I plan on loading a cart today with some goodies and then check out on Monday.  Just a suggestion!

Here's a few of my newest products in case you missed them:


Looking for holiday center activities?  Here is a great resource.


How to get TpT credit to use on future purchases:  Head over to your My Purchases page.  Beside each purchase you will see a flashing "PROVIDE FEEDBACK" option.  Simply click it and you will be taken to a page where you can give a quick rating and leave a short comment for the product.

Be the first to know about my products and freebies: Start by following my store.  Click the green star near the top of my store page or on the right hand column of the product listing.  Clicking the star will make you my newest follower!

You can also Follow me on PinterestFacebookInstagram, and my BLOG!

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Fun in the Snow! Winter Center Activities

This Fun in the Snow center activities was so much fun to make.  I love the math and literacy centers that are included.  For someone who really dislikes cold...I enjoyed this creation.  Take a look at all the fun activities.

Center 1:  The Noun Mound- create mounds of nouns.  Sort the snowballs in mounds of person, place or thing.  Recording sheet provided!
 Center 2:  It's Time to Build a Snowman- snowmen are cut and students match up the digital time, the clock face and the time in words.  This is completed first.  When students have the concept, they practice independently the sheet provided.
 Center 3:  Reading a Diagram- students in second and third grade need to know how to read a diagram.  This diagram is all about emperor penguins.  Questions provided!
Center 4:  Rainbow Comprehension- All about Emperor Penguins.  We are building comprehension skills and learning about penguins.  Use the Rainbow Comprehension strategy to build comprehension skills with your students.  

 Center 5:  Which one has S'more (more)?  I love sitting around a fire and marshmallows in hand!  Students are comparing and ordering numbers (two and three digit).  Recording sheet provided!
 Center 6:   Baby It's Cold Outside- reading a thermometer with recording sheet!

I love all of the Fun in the Snow Winter Center activities and I hope your students do too!  This is a great alternative if you have students who cannot participate in anything Christmas or Santa related.  It goes so well in December and January.  

These activities are great for second and third grade!


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Higher Level Thinking Questions

Higher Order Thinking  (HOT) Questions are essential to getting higher levels of rigor in your classroom.  Our teacher manuals often just do not cut it when it comes to higher levels of thinking. HOTS provides you with ways to push readers to think more critically while they are reading.  
 Have students think outside the box and really apply higher leveled thinking skills to comprehend the text.  These Higher Order Thinking Questions are great for all levels of readers and learners in your classroom.  They are leveled for you.

The fingers at the end of the question strip tells the teacher this is a LEVEL 3 application question.
How to use these question stems:

  1. Laminate question stems and place on a metal ring.
  2. When teaching whole group, small group, tutoring, intervention, etc..., pull out your HOT ring and ask appropriate questions for the students you are teaching.
  3. These questions are written for the teacher and not necessarily for the student to pick up and read and think on their own.  It is all about teacher providing and pushing the student to think.  

There are 88 questions provided and blank question strips for you to add your own if needed.
If this doesn't make your life easier, I'm not sure what will.  Just try it.  I have had wonderful feedback on these from teachers who are using them in the classroom.  


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Faith, Hope and Love Inspirational Posters- Kate Spade Inspired

I love black and white stripes.  My daughter is getting married in May and the theme is Kate Spade black and white stripe with lots of gold.  I love Kate Spade designs.
I created these Kate Spade Inspired Posters just for fun today.  I thought you might enjoy something non-educational from me!  Not to mention...who doesn't love a little glitter and glam every now and then.

Enjoy your freebie from me! Download below.

If you love this and want a set for yourself, you can download from my dropbox here.

Here's a look at my Pinterest Wedding board!

Do you love the wedding plan?

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A Fun Friday

I had the privilege of being asked to go to a school in a nearby town and present.  I took some of my teachers with me.  Two second grade teachers and two interventionists loaded up in my car on a very cold Friday morning.  We had such a great time.  Take a look at my fabulous group of teachers.

 The neighboring school purchased some software (Renaissance Learning)  that we purchased last year.  We love it and our students are being very successful with it.  It is great to help out when asked.  I enjoyed it as much as they did.  I love visiting other campuses.  We can all learn from each other.
The group of teachers at the end were second grade teachers on the campus we visited.  What a sweet group of teachers.  My superintendent was once their principal and then their superintendent.

We use Renaissance Learning for Accelerated Reading, STAR Math and STAR Reading, Math in a Flash.

Take a look at our new Math in a Flash bulletin boards on campus.  Math in a Flash is accelerated math fluency.  It helps students achieve automaticity in a fun way.  Students log in to a computer and practice.  They must be able to answer the facts with 100% accuracy in a timed limit to move on to the next level.  Second grade must reach 19 levels before the end of the year.

 There are 71 levels of addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, squares, fractions, decimals and percentages.

Check out my newest product.  It is Multiplication with Building Blocks.  You can use them as Task cards to scoot around the room or put in Math Centers.

Building Blocks are always fun for kids!


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Newspaper Feature

Several of my students were featured in the local paper.  I enjoyed reading their stories What I want to Be...  This writing prompt goes with our College Bond activities for the year.  

One of my favorites:  When I grow up I want to be a preacher because they can baptize and save people. They preach and talk about Jesus and God.  This is priceless!

What a great activity!  


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Words of Encouragement for Teachers

Now that you're settled into our classrooms and teaching harder concepts, you might start to feel discouraged.  You are constantly faced with piles of papers to grade, irate or unhappy parents, disrespectful and disinterested students, pressures of accountability, etc...  These things try to bring you down and discourage you.  My simple words of encouragement to you...

Your students do care.  You are making a difference.  You are the only stability in many lives.  You are not wasting your time.  What you do does matter.  And YOU MATTER.

If you are a teacher, you were called to impact each student as much as you can.  So don't get discouraged and don't give up hope.  You can do amazing things.  When you start to feel those feelings of inadequacy, it helps to surround yourself with positive co-workers who are there to listen.  Others have walked the same road and have experienced the same challenges and frustrations.  Your co-workers can help give you words of encouragement and lend an ear.

Just say this to yourself right now if you are feeling discouraged:
I am somebody.  I was determined to be successful when I started the school year and I'll be successful when I finish this year.  I am powerful and I am strong.  My students deserve my very best today and I'm determined to give them my very best.


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Mentoring Monday with Melissa Kartsimas

Hi Friends, I want you to meet a fellow principal friend.  Melissa Kartsimas is a principal from the Chicago area.  I met her via Twitter and through her blog Reflections from an Elementary Principal.  It is so great to find other blogging principals and connect right away.  Read below Melissa's advice to new principals.

Being a principal can certainly be a lonely position, but it doesn’t have to be! Through Twitter, Instagram & Blogs, I’ve been able to connect with many talented administrators who I continue to learn from and connect with digitally. By growing my PLN, I’ve been able to share ideas & bring many new ideas into my daily practice. Although there are many tips I could offer new principals, below are the ones I feel are most important to share:

CONNECT: My first recommendation for new principals is to connect with other administrators, near and far. Twitter has been an easy way to connect with others who share common passions and
interests: Education, Technology, Leadership, etc. I’ve been able to connect with some of my favorite authors and have added hundreds of blogs to my Feedly Reader, written by those I follow on Twitter. If you’re nervous about Twitter or unsure of how to get started, there are many tutorials. Another easy way to learn and be part of educational dialogues is joining/following a Twitter Chat. There are regular chats that take place weekly. Each chat is lead by a moderator who poses questions and those who are following the chat answer. It’s easy to follow a certain hashtag (ex: #kinderchat) and follow along--even better, participate in the chat and share your ideas, too!There are many Twitter Chats. A comprehensive list can be found here. Building your PLN and connecting with other administrators will certainly help you in your first year-it validates the feelings you experience and gives you a support system! Are you a new principal? Have you joined the School Admin Virtual Mentor Program?

RELATIONSHIPS: Invest time in building and developing relationships with all stakeholders. Get to know your teachers. Support them. Develop them. Show them you appreciate their hard work (These shout outs by Baudville are a cute way to write a positive note to a teacher!) Establish a culture where student learning is a priority. Be visible. Greet students and parents each morning during arrival. Be present during lunch in the cafeteria and in the hallways. Spend time each day in the classrooms. Ensure students get home safely at the end of the day. Where you spend the majority of your time shows your priorities. If quality teaching and learning are your main priority, you should be spending your time with students and teachers. Of course there are days when meetings prevent you from doing this, but make sure you remember to make up for it the following day! Maintain your credibility and integrity as an instructional leader by spending time in the classrooms. Get to know each and every students’ name in your school. Building good relationships adds to the positive culture of your school.

LEAD BY EXAMPLE: As an administrator, be sure your staff continues to see you as the lead learner, continually growing and learning about best practices to improve student achievement. Model best practices, share instructional strategies with staff, include professional articles in your communication with staff. Don’t share what quality teaching looks like--show them! Demonstrate to your staff that you aren’t the keeper of all the answers, but that you’re willing to work hard and learn everything you can to be the best principal you can be. As a principal, I never ask or expect the staff to do something I would not be willing to do myself. For example, I modeled the implementation of our staff blog in hopes that teachers would see blogging as a powerful, dynamic tool to use with their students. As a result, many teachers implemented their own teaching blogs, and evening student blogging, too! Always exude a positive attitude; one that supports an environment conducive to learning. If the principal is under stress, all eyes are on the leader to see how to react. Make sure you always keep your eye on the best needs of the students. Be willing to make the students’ needs a priority above the needs of the adults in your building. As the leader, you have the “balcony view” and must maintain the vision of making decisions in the best interest of children.

COMMUNICATE: As a principal, communication is essential. It must be timely, clear, concise and with various different stakeholders. You will communicate in meetings. Emails. Phone calls. Social Media. Conversations with children, adults--and even adults who act like ......! You will present to groups of teachers, groups of parents, your Board of Education. You will prepare written communication to be sent home in letters, published on your website. Everything you communicate and how you communicate will be critiqued. Even your nonverbal communication will be scrutinized. Every form and every way you communicate is a chance to spread your beliefs and professional values for children. Here’s my digital PR Plan for the school year.

The job is incredibly demanding. It may seem like you never have enough time to get your work done. I have no advice to help alleviate that stress. All I can say is that many others share your stress, but also share in the incredible responsibility and amazing feeling as they embark on a principalship. Remember to never lose sight of each and every child entrusted to you.

Follow Principal Melissa on Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest

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Place Value Neighborhood Freebie

Research has shown that place value remains one of the most difficult standards in third and fourth grade, in spite that it repeatedly taught in every primary grade.  Why is that?  

If students have a weak understanding of place value, a critical concept for all other math concepts, they will have a difficult time understanding decimals, numeracy and many other concepts.  Students find place value difficult and struggle with it because they do not have a deep conceptual understanding of the base 10 number system.

With that being said, I created this Place Value Neighborhood bulletin board set.  This is a freebie to get you started teaching place value in your classroom.  Since place value is a tough concept, you will need a lot of resources at your disposal.  
Place Value Desk Strips
Laminate before using and allow students to use dry erase markers.

To assemble the bulletin board:  Print the neighborhood posters and place the students that live in that neighborhood under the poster.  The desk strip has the same design as the wall display.
What is place value?  Place value is the notion that where a digit sits in a number says something about its value.  Location is everything!  How can we help our students understand place value and that in the number 24 the 2 represents 20 and in the number 247 the 2 represents 200?  Models, Models, and Models.  Use concrete items such as base ten blocks and other manipulatives.  Young students need concrete objects to understand place value.  It is not just is essential to learning.

I hope you find this Place Value Neighborhood freebie helpful to you and your students.  What resources do you use to teach place value?  


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30 Great Ways Teachers Can Reach Students with Active Engagement Activities

Getting students actively engaged in the classroom is one of the most important tasks of a teacher.  Do you really know what the words actively engaged means?  Contrary to popular believe, "active engagement" involves more than just hands-on learning.  It involves the mind and the hands to be considered actively engaged.  When students minds and hands are fully engaged in a task, they are actively doing and actively thinking.  As a principal, I cringe at the thought of students "sitting and getting."  I refer to "sit and get" as students simply sitting at their desk and the teacher is doing all the talking and all the learning.  We want students to think and students to do some of the talking too.

There are several active engagement tools available to teachers.
 I made this set of 30 Interactive Engagement Activities to make the life easier for the classroom teachers.  It has simple but effective strategies to help get students participating in the lesson.  Having students actively engaged in the classroom is not's essential to learning.

Strategy cards, such as You're in the Hot Seat, give directions to the teacher and a short explanation on how to implement it in the classroom.  These ideas do not involve a lot of planning.
Pinch cards and response cards are also included.  Just print and go. I had my set printed, laminated and then put on a metal ring.

Are some of these tools already in your toolbox?  Perhaps so.  If not, you may need a little help getting started or a bit more practice with others.  I do guarantee this one bit of information...if you begin to use these strategies you will begin to build better lessons.  As your lessons become better, your students will learn more.

Let's think back to a time when you went to a workshop or professional development class and you sat in your seat all day and never had the opportunity to talk, interactive with others around you, and you left exhausted.  You leave exhausted because your brain was asleep.  

Teachers Doing the Learning:  Students will be paying attention, taking notes, asking questions, following requests, etc...
Students Doing the Learning: Students will be reading critically, writing to learn, creating, planning, problem solving, discussing, debating, exploring, interacting, etc...

Have you found success in engaging students?  Let's get started today with engaging students!

Try not to be this teacher!


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