In the Nick of Time

I know. I'm really behind. Let me remind you that I have only been out of school since December 23rd.

You read that right. December 23rd. Some *smarticle* (rhymes with particle) decided we needed to be in school until December 23rd!! Clearly, they have no children of their own. Nor have they been in a classroom in a gazillion years. Do you KNOW how NUTSO my precious angel-demons were? Completely and totally out of their minds. Anyhoo, I saw this linky party popping up here, there and everywhere. I want in on this fun! :)

Everybody's favorite funny girl Kristin @ Teeny Tiny Teacher and Hadar @ Miss Kindergarten are hosting. Or, they were. I'm guessing they still are.

11. Favorite movie you watched:
Loved it. Just loved it.

10. Favorite TV series:

Just discovered Big Bang Theory. Hilariousness.  

9. Favorite restaurant:

 We went here for our anniversary. 
I love Thai food. 

8. Favorite new thing you tried:

Testing the TpT waters. I have discovered that I really love creating and writing materials that I can use in my own classroom. It has been a fun source of extra income and I look forward to the days I give myself to just sit and write!

7. Favorite gift you got:

 Somewhere, angels are singing. 
Words cannot describe how much I love this machine. 

6. Favorite thing you pinned:

 Every word rings true. 

5. Favorite blog post:

Probably Clip Chart Goodness. Using this has made me a better teacher, and it makes my students strive to be better people on a daily basis.

4. Best accomplishment:

Getting this blog up and running. I love sharing ideas with all of you!

3. Favorite picture:

Birthday fun with My Sweet Boy.

2. Favorite memory:

 My teaching partner, Michelle, got married this year. 
It was beautiful. 
Such fun.

1. Goal for 2012: 

Get healthy. I don't want to worry about sizes and pounds. I just want to be healthy again. 

What a fun way to look back at the year! Don't forget to enter the ginormous giveaway I'm participating in!

Ringing in the New Year with a Ring of Bloggy Giveaways!

A BIG thank you to Mandy for putting this all together. I am so excited!! I'm also working on a couple of new units to post in my TpT store just for this event!

Twelve blogs have joined together for a MEGA New Year Giveaway!  The winners of the giveaway will be able to choose any item (winter themed or not) from any of the Teacher Pay Teachers stores listed below.  Nearly 100 items will be given away in this HUGE event!

Each blog will have 6 winners.
Each blog will select and post 6 winners for that blog.

Third Place: There will be THREE third prize winners that will be able to choose any (of the winner’s choice) ONE item total from any of the blogger’s Teacher Pay Teachers store listed below. 

   Second Place: There will be TWO second prize winners that will be able to choose any (of the winner's choice) TWO items (total)  from any of the blogger's Teachers Pay Teachers stores below. 

First Prize: ONE grand prize winner from EACH blog that will win any (of the winner's choice) ONE ITEM from EACH blogger's Teachers Pay Teachers stores listed below!

 Here are the participating blogs/ stores: 



How do you enter?  There are several possible ways to enter:

1.      Follow my blog and leave a comment on this blog post saying you follow  (or note that you are already a follower).

2.      Follow my Teacher Pay Teachers store and leave a comment on this blog post saying you follow.

3.      Blog about this contest  and leave a comment on this blog post.

4. Visit the other blogs and stores, and enter according to their instructions.

 However, there are still MORE ways to enter! You can also follow the blogs and stores of ALL the blogs participating in the list above to increase your chances of winning!  There are at least 24 chances to win even if you DON'T blog!!!! Remember to comment that you follow their blog and TpT store on their blog!

All winners will be chosen on January 6th, 2012 by 8:00pm Eastern time.
Good luck!  Maybe YOU will be one of the big winners!

Dictionary Unit Winners!

I don't know what I was thinking when I said I would have my unit done by Friday. Really? In middle of Christmas chaos? :)

Thank you for being patient - I do have 3 winners!

Thank you ladies! Please email me @ mrsspann@gmail.com if you are still interested in proofing this!

I hope everyone has had a fantastic Christmas-Hannukah-holiday season. I'll be back soon!

December Dictionary Dee-lights!

Hi Peeps! 

I've been hard at work on a Dictionary Skills Unit for the last couple of weeks. I'm almost finished and I need a couple of proofreaders! The unit covers:

  • ABC order
  • Using a dictionary page
  • Guide words

I'll do this like a "giveaway" because - well, it is! It will also make me sit down and finish the last two parts. :)

I'll pull three names out of a random number generator. All you have to do is:

A) follow my blog and tell me that you do!


B) become a follower and tell me you did!

Easy peasy, right?

I'll only leave it open until Friday at 9:00 pm. All I ask of the winners is that you help me find any grammatical errors or typos that my tired eyes may have missed. I'll also send the winners a free copy of the proofed and final packet.

Good Luck!

Christmas Writing Prompts

I'm going to be out Monday and I wanted my kids to have something fun to do for writing. This is one of the hardest things for me to plan for when I'm out. So, I created a few Christmas writing prompts. I'm also going to put these out for Work on Writing for the rest of the month.

I hope it's something you can use!

Christmas Writing Prompts

*Scribd is acting crazy this morning, so I'll upload them there later. In the meantime, you can use the link above to get them from Google Docs.


What I'm Thankful For...

I"m joining Rachelle over at What the Teacher Wants AND Farley at Oh Boy! 4th Grade for their I'm Thankful... linky parties!

1.  What are you thankful for in your classroom?

I have been especially thankful for the Donors Choose materials that arrived last month. I have been using our new sight word games and word work materials in my strategy groups. I'm looking forward to introducing Word Work when we get back from break so the kids can work with them more often.

2. What person are you most thankful for?

My mom... hands down. She is the strongest, funniest, most thoughtful person I know. Our family would fall to pieces without her.

3. What 3 blogs are you most thankful for?

Angelia @ Extra Special Teaching is one of the most giving teacher-bloggers out there. If you haven't seen the games she makes to help her students with spelling patterns and sight words, you need to get there... NOW! I have used so many of the materials she has created.

A Teeny Tiny Teacher

Kristin @ A Teeny Tiny Teacher. She's just plain funny. I always come away from her blog with a smile.

My longtime friend, Kari, writes about her adventures as a new mom and her walk with Him. I miss her more than I could possibly say, but I am thankful I can keep up with her (almost) daily posts about life in Senegal. 

4. What guilty pleasure are you most thankful for?

Ice cream. Lots of it. Especially lately.

And Hoarders. It always makes me feel like my house is in waaay better shape.  

5. What are you most thankful for?

God's never-ending grace. His voice in my head, in my heart, reminding me that I am still His child. I am thankful that His love is boundless and that He is in control of every worry I have. Even the dumb ones.

I hope you all have a marvelous break. I hope you know how much I love being a part of such an incredible network of teachers.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Christmas Read Aloud Linky Party

I was trolling/stalking/looking on Amazon last night for some new Christmas read-alouds when I realized my BEST resource would be YOU wonderful people.

So, I decided to try this linky party thing again.

I'll start by sharing one of my favorite Christmas Read-Alouds:

This has been one of my favorite books since I was... in third grade of course!

 My third graders have always been on the cusp of reality and tradition. (Is that pretty typical?) This book helps to keep the belief in Santa alive! :) I have traditionally used it with story maps, but I'm working on a couple of different ideas that I can't wait to share with you!

What is your favorite Christmas read-aloud? Join in with the link below!


Writing About Our Reading

So we've been working on responding to literature using Lucy's Calkins' Units of Study. I was absolutely in love with what my children were learning, and then it happened again.

I hit a WALL.

I feel like I've smacked into that wall several times this year in my Writer's Workshop. Which, let me tell you people, is not an easy thing to admit. I've been teaching for 10 years. I am not used to hitting THE WALL.

When I was finally tired of pulling my hair out, I went to my sweet friend Marnia. She also happens to be our literacy coach. (People, she is f-a-b-u-l-o-u-s.) Do you want to know what happened next?

We hit the wall together. :)

It gave me so much comfort. I was starting to feel like something was wrong with me, like I couldn't see what my kids needed. So we sat and talked it out together. Again. And we came up with an even better lesson.

Some background...

We've been reading short stories from Cynthia Rylant's Every Living Thing. 

Some of our favorites are:
  • Spaghetti
  • Slower Than the Rest
  • Boar Out There
We also used Donald Crews' Shortcut and Pat Hutchins' Happy Birthday, Sam. All of these were "mentor texts" in our room. Each child chose a story they wanted to write about. Marnia and I typed up the text of each story. (Can't share those, peeps. Copyrights. Bummer.)

Earlier in the week, we talked about visualizing. One of my kiddos started to call it "movie-lizing." So we went with that. :)

Back to the present...

We went through this chart and I modeled the journal page below:

Visualizing Journal

One of the things that helped them to be successful was pasting the moment they found to be the "most important" on the journal. I also reminded them that everyone's moment could be different - just like the stories they chose to write about. But, by pasting their moment on the page, we could easily check to see if their writing was connected to the moment they chose.  

I was truly amazed at what they came up with! I'm not saying that this lesson will be just as successful in your room, but I wanted to share it with you. If you liked this, I'll be happy to share what we work through in the weeks ahead!


We've been struggling with dialogue. And quotation marks.

And when I say struggling, I mean FALLING FLAT ON OUR FACES.

So, I did what any good blogger-friendly teacher would do. I turned to Google Reader. Thank goodness for Google Reader.

I found 2 things that were REALLY helpful:
This post by Dots-N-Spots.

Dots-N-Spots' original display

It reminded me of the perfect book for that transition time between Halloween and Thanksgiving.

So we read The Ugly Pumpkin. (If you don't have, you seriously need to add it to your classroom library.) Every time I get to the line "Oh my GOSH, I'm a SQUASH!" I die laughing. I giggled just now thinking about it. :)

The 2nd thing I found was a set of thinking "cues" for their writing. And, for the life of me I cannot find the post. So if this is your idea and I didn't give you credit, I'm sorry and thank you. It worked.

The prompt is to ask the kids 2 questions: WHO said it? WHAT did they say?

If the student can identify those two parts, then they know where to put the quotation marks.

So here is our GOURD-geous garden. They are pretty durn cute squash if you ask me. :)

We had so much fun making these! The kids have been rereading The Ugly Pumpkin over and over during their Read to Self time.... We just started Daily 5, BTW.

Holy Moses. That's a whole post all in itself. :)

Porkenstein Writing Activity! UPDATED!

**I didn't realize the clipart wasn't saved correctly. It's been fixed! :)* We are right in the middle of Conference Week and life in NUTS!

I'm linking up this week with Me and My Gang for a TON of fun Halloween freebies! Tomorrow we''re reading Porkenstein and filling our day with all things Porkenstein. I wanted share this fun writing freebie I whipped up.  My kids always love this book and I'm really looking forward to reading it with them. I hope it's something you can use!

Pork en Stein Writing Activity


I Am Versatile!

Well, at least according to these sweet ladies:

The Teaching Thief

This was definitely a much needed highlight in my week. :) Thank you, girls!

7 Tantalizing (Well, Maybe Not) Tidbits About Me:

1. I am a label freak. I love making labels for notebooks, baskets, binders... you get the picture. 

2.  I do not sleep well without my Herbie. Not my husband, but my cat. We snuggle. 

3. I am one of four girls. It is a constant source of pee-your-pants laughter when we are together. 

4. I started a drama club at school this year. It has been phenomenally successful. I am scared to death! :) 

5. I belt it out with my Glee CDs in the car every chance I get. 

6. I daydream all the time about where my sweet boy and I should travel next. His parents gave us a timeshare week for Christmas last year and I am constantly on their website looking for places to we can trade for. 

7. I am late for just about everything. I was even late for my wedding. I know, it's bad. I'm a work in progress. 

15 Versatile Blogs I {Love}

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3rd Grade's a Hoot

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