Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Blog Follower Freebie!

Today is a special day!  

I created my first blog follower only freebie!  This freebie is just for you!  Just click on my freebies link above and you'll be able to access it. 

It's my little way of saying thank you for your support!  

Oh my! An Award!

Ok, so this is a sure sign I've just kept myself too, too busy during the school year!  My friend, Christy, over at Crayons and Whimsy nominated me for the Liebster Award...back in December!  Oh my! I didn't even see it until she had posted about it again yesterday.  I don't know about you, but once the school year starts I can very easily lose sight of anything beyond work and family and it certainly happened to my new blog this year. :-( Well, better late than never I say!

Ok, so there are some rules to follow when you receive the Liebster award.  They are:

*You must post 11 random things about yourself
*Answer the questions the nominator set for you
*Create 11 questions for the people you nominate
*Choose 11 blogs you love (with less than 200 followers) and link them in your post
*No tag back (but it would be great if you can me a comment on this post with the URL to your liebster post so I can learn more about you!)

Last summer I had received the Versatile Blogger award and in those rules, 7 random facts were to be posted.  So I'll start by posting a link to that award then add on 3 more random facts!

11 Random facts about me:

1.-7. Versatile Blogger Award Post - In this post I talk about my husband, my year teaching abroad, my love of scuba diving, where I live, my BA, and a couple more! (including pics!)

8. I just completed the work for National Board Certification. Phew! I'll find out in November if I've passed.  Here's to hoping I wrote well!

9. My mother is from Brazil.  I still have family there but don't get a chance to see them often. :-(

10. If you've been following me on Instagram you would probably already know this...I'm just a few days away from having baby #2! My due date is July 22 but he is measuring big so we scheduled a C-section for the 17th...if I last that long!

11. Probably the most random fact about husband and I are attempting to open a preschool! Our goal is to have it open by September 2013. It is a VERY ambitious undertaking and one that we hope will pay off for both of our children.

OK, now for the questions from Christy:

1. How long have you been teaching?
I am about to start my 14th year.  I can't believe how time has flown by!

2. What is your favorite thing about being a teacher?
I'd say I love when a child has that "a-ha" moment and just flourishes because they finally get it. That is the most rewarding part of teaching!

3. What is your favorite grade to teach?
My favorite grade to teach is kindergarten.  I taught 1st grade for 4 years but eventually ended up back in kinder.  I just love it!

4. What type of lesson planner do you use? (old school paper and pencil or online?)
Up until last year I used old school paper.  Now I do it all in powerpoint.  This year I want to do a visual lesson planner.  I hope to learn how to do it before the baby arrives next week!

5. Do you have any hobbies?
Well, yes I do.  But I don't get to them.  Scrapbooking, scuba diving and traveling.  I've been told I need to squeeze in more time for me...but I really love working with children so that is my stress release right now, whether it be with my class or my son.

6. What is your favorite place to travel?
London.  It's my home away from home.

7. If you were stranded on a desert island tell me 3 things you would take with you.
The 3 things I would take are things that would help me to survive the deserted island!  A toolbox full of tools, emergency medical supplies, and food.  That's boring I know!  But I'd want to be able to live long enough to figure out a way back to my family like Tom Hanks did in Castaway except my family was able to wait for me!

8. What was the last book you read and did you like it?
I usually listen to books on audible while I'm driving to and from work. I can't sit and read for pleasure anymore with a kid at home. So the last book I actually read was The Daily 5 last summer.  I liked it and implemented most of it in my class.  The kids did really well! The last book I listened to was The Host.  I loved The Host and haven't seen the movie yet.  But I'm hoping it doesn't fail my expectations.  The worst thing for me is when they cut so much from the book out to make the movie!

9. What is your favorite food?
Umm, dessert!  I love most desserts!  It's probably why I've got a few extra pounds on me but I seriously have a hard time saying no to cakes, brownies, trifles, anything sweet really!

10. Do you watch TV? If so, what is your favorite show?
I don't watch TV much...can't sit still for long.  But when I do I love to watch Yard Crashers. I don't like my landscaping much so I'm always watching to get ideas to change our yard up.  It's come A LONG way but there is still much to do!

11. What is your favorite app?
I suppose I could say Instagram because I'm always on it!  I love seeing what other bloggers post about whether it be about their lives or about work.

So now for my 11 questions to the 11 new bloggers:

1. How long have you been teaching?
2. Did you always want to be a teacher?  If not, what did you want to do?
3. What is your favorite thing about teaching?
4. How long have you been blogging for?
5. If you could travel anywhere in the world, no expense spared, where would you go?
6. Do you have a favorite techie tool or any techie advice? If yes, what is it?
7.  What is your favorite dessert? (I love dessert!)
8. What is your favorite movie of all time?
9. What is your favorite holiday?
10. Are you a dog person or a cat person?
11. What was your favorite toy or doll from childhood?

And without further ado, here are the 11 blogs I am recommending for the Liebster award!

1. Gluesticks 'N Giggles
2. Diary of a 5th Grade Teacher
3. A Kindergarten Life For Me
4. 2 Preschool Pals
5. Tailor-made Teaching
6. Owl in A Vowel Tree
7. 2 Super Teachers
8. Life in Room 24
9. Whoooo's Ready to Teach
10. History Chalk Talk
11. ~Mrs. Mathis' Homeroom~

Check these ladies out!  Lots of tremendous ideas from them!

Tuesday, July 9, 2013


Hello all!  I finally registered my blog on Bloglovin'.  Since google reader is no longer..most bloggers are moving over to Bloglovin'.  So click the link below to follow me on there! Thanks!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

My Favorite Things #2: Behavior Calendars

My next favorite thing was the behavior calendars I used.  The calendar itself came from Teri at

A Cupcake for the Teacher

Last school year I used her original calendars and really liked the behavior codes she had.  It seemed to really get the point across to the parents.  Although... I have to admit I tended to use #3 (I wasn't following directions) A LOT!

AND since this is California most schools here are not enclosed (rooms open to the outside of the building) we never EVER used #8 which says "I misbehaved in the hallways".  We have no hallways to misbehave in!

Earlier this year she wrote a post about her calendars.  She not only updated them for the 2013-2014 school year but she now has an editable version and a Spanish version! Click on the links below to see her blog post or direct links to her TpT store for each item.

Original Calendar - non-editable

So here's how I set mine up.  First, I used a color file folder.  Next I put a label on the front cover using our school mascot and a space for their name. But since not everyone has an eagle for a mascot I used this adorable space kid!  Here is a link to my eagle label.  I used Avery label's 5168.

I was a bit anxious getting out of school so I had thrown my original out already. These pictures are a mock-up of what it would look like in use.  I had also left my labels at school so I printed on regular paper and used packing tape to affix it to the cover.  I don't like it as much because it's not as uniform and tape can leave a crease if you're not careful (as you can see!).

This next picture is what the calendar would look like.  When the child achieves a white day they use a black crayon to outline the box.  This lets me know that it wasn't a day they forgot to color.  I also forgot to show a sample day of when a child is absent.  They are to write in a capital A on the day they missed.  (If they miss 3 or more days I usually don't allow for a prize.)  I add in a line on the Saturday boxes for the parents to sign.  To make a complete week I'll add in either the beginning of the following month (as you can see at the bottom) or move to the next month and add in the final days of the current month.
When the child has to change to yellow, orange or red I write in the number for the reason that caused them to obtain that color.  Normally I'll talk to the parents that very day when they get a red or if they are consistently changing their card to an undesirable color. 

This picture shows how I note that those days were already accounted for during the July calendar page.  I just put a large X and don't start the parent signature line until the following week.

Here is a picture of the parent explanation letter. I did have to trim the white edges so it would fit better.  I usually put in 2 - one in English and one in Spanish.  I don't double side because it is stapled in.
 I copied most of the text from the pocket chart explanation I got at Lakeshore.  The Lakeshore pocket chart starts at green and goes down to red.

I didn't like that the children started at the top and never had a chance to move up. So I added blue and white colors that allowed the kids to move up from green.

It seems Teri from A Cupcake for the Teacher didn't like that either! This blog post of hers from May explains how she changed it up as well.  The calendars I use are the ones she offers for free.  But as you saw earlier in my post she now has other options and those are available in her TpT store.

So how can my students earn a blue or a white?

Blue is the first step above green.  I tell my students that they can move up here when I see them making good choices.  That can be anything like, helping a friend in need, getting a pencil themselves without asking me (solving their own problems), sitting and ready to learn more than once, etc.  By the end of the year I change it up a bit to motivate them even more.  I tell them that if the whole class stays on green EVERYONE will get blue.  And if it continues for the following day EVERYONE will move to white.  If the class, as a whole, can achieve white they get a pizza party!  But inevitably, as you can imagine, there is the "one"! So it took my class a REALLY long time to achieve this goal.  It wasn't until the 2nd to last week that they were able to earn a pizza party, which meant my planned pizza party became a reward!  Woo-hoo!

OK, so finally white.  What do the students have to do to get white? White is when they are consistently making good choices.  This is your child who is often moving to blue.  She/he is typically reliable, responsible, independent and helpful.  These kids who reach white get an immediate reward from me.  This past year I had what I called the "big prize".  It was reserved for those who got white.  Since our school is Title 1 we qualify for a lot of aide.  So the Molina Foundation had our teachers come over to their warehouse and take as much as we wanted!  I got enough Scholastic books to last me the ENTIRE school year!  This was their "big prize".  Of course when I changed it up to the whole class needing to be on white the big prize changed to the pizza party.

And lastly, the students get a prize for taking it home and having it signed by their parents.  I give them 2 picks from my treasure box if they achieved an "all green or better" week and if they happened to get a yellow, orange or red the students can still pick 1 treasure from the box for at least getting it signed.  I decided to reward them for getting their parents signature because it rewards them for having a discussion with their parents about what happened that particular day.

Now if a child is changing to yellow, orange or red on a regular basis I change up their calendar a little bit.  I draw 2 horizontal lines in each calendar week.  This breaks up their day into 3 equal parts.  This allows them to see that they are getting green some of the time and it has actually helped to motivate them to do better!  And it let the parents know that their kid wasn't always making bad choices...that sometimes is just as important as helping the kid to feel better about himself isn't it?

I hope this post helps you to refine your communication with the parents about their child's behavior or has given you a new method to it!  It's worked wonderfully for me and I hope it will for you!