A New Day of Learning: March 2014

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Sunshine Blogger Award

I am so excited and so honored to be nominated by Kristin Wynegar of Readbox for the Sunshine Blogger Award.  Thank you so much! It makes this bright Springy day feel even sunnier! 

Here's How it Works
1. Post 11 Random facts about yourself.
2. Answer the 11 facts asked by the person who nominated you.
3. Nominate bloggers you think bring sunshine to the world!
4. Make up 11 questions for your nominees to answer.

11 Random Facts About Michelle
1. I love to play Legos with my little guy.
2. I am competitive.
3. I am very social and very rarely spend time alone.
4.We have a dog named Rosie that our whole family simply ADORES.
5. In the summer, we have bonfires at least 1-2x a week.
6. I love getting pedicures, but hate feet.
7. I hate violent and/or scary movies.  I much prefer cartoons!
8. I have a latte every morning.
9. I have been teaching for 10 years.
10. I wish I had unlimited time to decorate my classroom.
11. My super amazing hubby and I have been married for 6 years.

Kristin's Questions for Me:
1. When was the last time you did something for the first time?
Yesterday! I went to my first gymnastics meet to watch two of my students compete. They were amazing and I was so proud I got teary-eyed! 
2. You are casted for a TV character. Who is it and why?
Penny from The Big Bang Theory because she is messy, funny, and very social. 
3. If teaching didn't exist(ha, yea right) what profession would you choose?
I think would have to be in advertising.  I can be clever and love to design on the computer. 
4. What is the craziest thing you've ever done?
I traveled to Japan, by myself, without the speaking the language!
5. You're stranded on a beach. You have 5 things. What are they?
1) My computer (Because I am sure there is power on this island!!) ;)
2) Sunscreen (I would fry in the sun!)
3) My bed
4) A boat 
5) A camera
6. What influenced you to be a teacher?
I am not sure that I remember.  I decided in 2nd grade that I was going to be a teacher.  However, I always loved school and was blessed with good teachers. 
7. What inspires you?
My students and coworkers inspire me everyday! All of the ideas I get for my TpT store come right out of my classroom because I see a need in my students. My coworkers are amazing! Their dedication to their students is out of this world.
8. What is your favorite movie?
I don't know if I have a favorite one, but I love almost any rom com! 
9. What's a secret skill you have?
A secret skill talent I have is that I can wiggle my ears!
10. What was your worst job?
Part of one of my jobs was to be a pooper scooper.  I liked the job overall, but being a pooper scooper is far from glamorous! 
11. What's the best advice anyone ever gave you?
Think before you speak!

My Questions for Nominees:
1) What are the 5 school supplies that you can't live without?
2) What is the theme or color scheme of your classroom/office?
3) What is your favorite childhood memory?
4) What is your favorite book that you love to share with children?
5) What is the one teacher reference book that you use the most?
6) What is your favorite place to shop?
7) What would you do if you won the lottery?
8) Do you or did you ever play a musical instrument?
9) What is something secret you have stashed in your desk?
10) If you could go on vacation anywhere in the world, where would you go?
11) If you had three wishes, what would they be?

The nominees are:
Trifecta Book Reviews

I'm Lovin' Lit


Take some time and spread some sunshine today!

Words Their Way

REMINDER: Don't forget to enter my Landforms & Biomes Giveaway! It ends Monday, March 31st at 9pm 11:59pm CST. (Giveaway has ended)

Okay, now on to the topic at hand...

Do you use Words Their Way? I love this word study (phonics, vocabulary, and spelling) program because of how easy it is for me to differentiate for all of the students in my classroom.  Recently, my team and I have been having some discussions about how we can more effectively meet the needs of all the students in the grade.

We are going to try out a model of Words Their Way where the students switch rooms to be in a group of students who are at their level.  Each teacher (there are 4 of us) will take two groups and work more intensely with those groups.  We are used to having 4-5 groups each in our self-contained classroom. That was making it difficult for us to get in mini-lessons, and the time it took to plan for that many groups was restrictive.

In order to help us plan and easily see a 6 week overview at once, I made us a 6 week planning sheet.  It has spaces for the current level, the focus skill, and what you want the group to do each day.  There are 2 versions and both versions come in color and black & white.  In one version,  Monday has Meet with the Teacher written after it, and Friday has Assessment written after it.  This is the one I will follow because we have our Words Their Way sorts start on Monday and end of Friday.  I know that not everyone does that, so in the 2nd version, Monday and Friday are blank for you to fill in.

If you would like a copy of the Words Their Way 6 Week Planner, click on the picture below. (Be sure to be logged into your Google Account.)  If you don't have a Google account, you can download it from my Teachers Pay Teachers store!

We are hoping to see even greater gains in what our students understand after a 6 week cycle of this format. Stay tuned closer to the end of the school year to see if this change in model helped our students!

I am linked up this week at:
Freebie Fridays   Classroom Freebies Manic Monday

What word study program do you use in your classroom?     How do you implement it? 

(Don't forget to enter my Landforms & Biomes Giveaway! It ends Monday, March 31st at 9pm  11:59pm CST.) Giveaway has ended.

Thursday, March 27, 2014


UPDATE: Congratulations to Kaylene C. on winning the Landforms and Biomes Mega Pack! I have emailed you your prize! Thank you to everyone who entered! If you are still wanting any of the products, they will all be 50% off in my store for the next 24 hours! You can get them here! You can get the whole MEGA PACK for only $7.00!

I have been working hard on some new products and have debuted them on Facebook through out the week.  I was asked if I would be bundling them or offering them all as a giveaway. The answer to both of those questions is YES! So, if you would like a chance to win the products listed,  enter below!!! For more information about each product, click on the picture.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Flash Freebie

I am in the process of creating a Landforms and Biomes mini-unit! Part of the unit is this poster set, which I am giving away tonight at 9 p.m. CST.   You must go to my Facebook Fan Page and like or comment on the status announcing the Flash Freebie.  To make it easy, I have pinned it to the top of my page!

Click here to go to my Facebook Fan Page!

Best of luck!

Menu Planning

So, this post doesn't have to do with school directly.  However, being healthy and having a plan for your meals for the week can help you be a better teacher and advocate for your students.  I have recently decided to focus on being more prepared for the week by meal planning and grocery shopping ahead of time.  To help me stay on track, I have created a simple and colorful menu planner.

I was inspired by this menu planner from Organizing Homelife. I loved the simple design and the place for a recipe source, so I was sure to add those to my brightly colored version.  I tested out this menu planner yesterday, and it worked like a charm! It feels good to know that I have a plan for the week and that anyone could come to my house, follow the plan, and cook me dinner! (A girl can dream, right?)

I even have a few ideas about how you could use this in the classroom! This would be a great tool for students taking a cooking or home economics class to plan meals and make grocery lists.  This could also be a part of a math lesson where students calculate the cost of the meals they plan and stay within a grocery budget.  They could also figure out the cost per person per meal.

If you would like a copy of the menu planner, just click on the picture below. (Be sure to be logged into your Google account.) If you don't have a Google account, you can download the menu from my Teachers Pay Teachers store.

I am linked up this week at

Freebie Fridays

Classroom freebies

How do you organize your meals? 
What are your favorite go to meals/snacks?
How would you use this menu planner in your classroom?

Friday, March 14, 2014

Bookmark Freebie

I just finished The Book Whisperer.  Have you read it yet?  If not, you should! It really has given me some food for thought about why I do things the way I do them in my classroom.  One of the ideas that I got from reading the book was to have students keep a list of books they are interested in reading.

My students are just starting to seriously recommend books to each other and some have stacks of books on their desks waiting to be read.  In order to help them stay organized, provide them with a place for the list, and give them a little gift at the same time; I made them these St. Patrick's Day bookmarks.  Plus, they ask for bookmarks all the time!

I am hoping that we can keep the books we have circulating (and eliminate the clutter on their tables) without them forgetting which books they are interested in.   In addition, I am hopeful that this will help promote more sharing of books and recommendations.

If you would like to give this a try as well, you can click on the picture below to get your FREE St. Patrick's Day Bookmarks. (Be sure to be logged into your Google account.)  If you don't have a Google account, you can download them from my Teachers Pay Teachers store.

I am linked up this week at

Freebie Fridays
Classroom freebies

What is next on your reading list?
(I have started Readicide and Word Nerds.  Next up will also be 
Reading in the Wild - the sequel to The Book Whisperer)

Friday, March 7, 2014

Little Letters

As a follow-up to last week's post, Lucky Letters, where I gave you a St. Patrick's Day Freebie to help you write a letter to each of your students letting them know why they are special, I have created some Little Letters that you can use all year round to spread the love.

Keep a stack of these notes tucked away at your desk and use them whenever you think someone needs a little extra encouragement or recognition of a job well done!  I still remember a note that I got from a teacher back in elementary school.  She told me that she liked my quick wit and my sense of humor.  I know exactly where I was when she told me that.  Let's make that kind of impression on every kid!

You can get your FREE Little Letters by clicking on the picture below. (Be sure to be logged into your Google account.)  If you don't have a Google account, you can download them from my Teachers Pay Teacher store.

I am linked up this week at

Freebie Fridays
Classroom freebies

Have you ever received a note from a teacher that stuck with you?

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Point of View

We are working on point of view in my classroom right now.  We started our lesson yesterday by making an anchor chart that outlined 1st and 3rd person point of view.  The students brainstormed clue words that would help them identify 1st and 3rd person point of view.  For example, for first person they figured out they would see words like I, me, and we.  For third person they brainstormed the words he, she, they and it.

Next, students took out The Tale of Despereaux, our current text for universal instruction.  Working in partners, they looked for clue words that proved whether they thought the text was written in first or third person. After some discussion, we moved onto making a craftivity to put into their notebooks.  Our wonderful reading specialist gave me the idea. (I am not sure where she got it from. If this is your idea, please let me know and I will give you credit!)

The students started by tracing their hand and cutting it out.  Then they glued the middle finger and the thumb down to the palm.  This is to try and create the illusion that the finger is pointing.  Get it? POINT of view?!?


  1. On the index finger,write the definition of point of view.  
  2. Then fold the ring finger and the pinky finger in half to make flaps.
  3. On the outside of the ring finger write the clue words: 1st Person: I, me, we.
  4. On the inside write: *told by a character in the story.
  5. On the outside of the pinky finger write the clue words: 3rd Person: He, She, It. 
  6. On the inside of the pinky finger write: *told by a narrator. 

(Please excuse my oddly shaped hand and
 a picture with very bad lighting!!!)

The students had a blast making this for their notebooks! One of the best parts of the activity was that it was no prep for me! We even used up paper from the scrap drawer to trace our hands. 

Leave a comment with your ideas for teaching point of view!

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Lucky Letters

When I first started teaching, I always made a point to write at least one special note throughout the year to each one of my students.  Somewhere between switching schools and CCSS and starting a family, I stopped doing that.  In a moment of reflection, I realized how important it is to let each student know that you are grateful for them and give them a reason why. I find this particularly useful to help me remember and recognize the great qualities of even my most challenging students.

So, this St. Patrick's Day, I am going to give each of my students a special handwritten note from me with a reason why I think they are so great.   I challenge you to do the same! Starting today, we have 17 days until we need to deliver our notes to our little leprechauns.  That is only 1-2 notes per day if you break it up!!! So who's with me?

To make it even easier for you, I created some cute cards for you to print, cut apart, and write on! I know that some do not have access to a color printer, so I have included the black lines for you!  You can download your free copy by clicking on the picture below. (Be sure to be logged into your Google account.) If you don't have a Google account, you can download it from my Teachers Pay Teachers store.

I am linked up this week at
Freebie Fridays

Classroom freebies

How do you let your students know they are special?

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