It's almost here! The Teachers Pay Teachers Super Cyber Monday Sale :)

 Everything in my store is 20% off tomorrow through December 2, including my latest creation... Color-by-sum WINTER-themed addition puzzle pack. Here's a sneak peak...
 This pack has 5 different puzzles to choose from and answer keys. Perfect for winter! Click on the image above or the link to my store to grab yours today :)

While you're shopping, don't forget to check out my All About Penguins language arts mini unit! This bundle includes 4 mini books on different penguin types, graphic organizers, and vocabulary cards. Print and go!!

Click here, or on any of the images below to find out more.

 Includes a close-read too!

Happy Shopping!!


Good-bye, Name Tags - This REALLY Works!

Thank you, Pinterest! I finally tried this trick. Guess what? It actually works! Permanent marker on the desks to write students' names. Say "Good-Bye" to those pesky name tags! Read on to find out just how easy it is.

 If you're anything like me, then you are painfully aware of the overall abuse your students exhibit to your adorably written, carefully cut, and painfully laminated name tags. I used to change out my name tags monthly to match my theme. My cute little apple name tags, pumpkins, pine trees, and pencils always cost me too much money to create, and way too long to cut, laminate, and tape to the students' desks. The worst part? 1) Day 1 looked crisp and pristine. By mid-month, the name tags were water-logged, stained, shredded, chewed on (!), and generally ragged. And 2) Enter the New Student! Which means, someone would not get their laminated name tag for another 16 school days. Who has time to wait for the laminator to warm up?

I have seen pins on Pinterest that suggest using paint pens to write names on student desks which are "permanent," however will erase by coloring over with a dry erase marker and rubbing with Kleenex.

So, I thought I'd try it. Except with a REAL permanent marker. Hooray! It works! Check out how:

 I used a metallic Sharpie.

 When I wanted to erase student names, I used a (cheap) dry erase marker. As long as the marker has enough ink to saturate all of the permanent marker, then it will erase by rubbing it off with facial tissue.

I cannot tell you how thrilled I am! It's been a little over 2 weeks, and I tested the permanent marker this morning. So far, so good!
 I  hope you enjoyed this month's Bright Ideas blog post! If you would like more ideas from me, be sure to follow me on Teachers Pay Teachers, Pinterest, and Facebook to stay posted with fabulous freebies and ideas!

Be sure to visit the Bright Ideas Link-Up below to see more posts from over 150 fabulous educational bloggers. Thanks for visiting!

Individual Word Work Folders for Reading Intervention

During my 30-minute reading intervention time, I have a group of four to six students in need of intense individualized reading instruction. After all, how else are they going to get better at reading without practicing reading? As any reading teacher will tell you, that's much easier said than done. Until now!

I can't wait share with you the easiest way to keep track of your students and their progress on learning new sight words. All you need for each student is a file folder labeled on the inside with the words "Words I Know" on one side and "Words I'm Learning" on the other side, a marker, and 2"x 2" post-it notes (7 to 10). Here's how it works. 

First, listen to each student as they read a fluency passage. While they read, keep track of high frequency words that they know quickly and write them down, one per post-it. These will be suck to the student's Words I'm Learning half of the folder. 

Then, write two or three sight words or high frequency words that the student stumbles over. These are placed into the Words I'm Learning section of their folder.  

Then, each day as part of my small group reading time, I ask students to interact with their words. 

We build sentences. We play "I spy", we pair word families... Anything that I can think of to quickly ask students to touch, move, hold, read, and say their words.  Most of time, we notice patterns in words they hold, and the students begin showing each other patterns, families of words or phonetic rules in each other's words at my reading table. Daily exposure to new words allows these kids to move their words from the side of Words I'm Learning to Words I Know. Then we can pick new words all over again!

 The whole activity takes in between 3 and 5 minutes. I store the folders with my other reading intervention materials so that the students don't lose their words and/or play with them. This is also a great informal assessment grab-and-go for an RTI meeting, parent conference, or team meeting on individual students. Easy and fun!

I hope you'll try out this great strategy for word work. I can't wait to hear all about how you use and modify this to work for your classroom!

 I hope you enjoyed this month's Bright Ideas blog post! If you would like more ideas from me, be sure to follow me on Teachers Pay Teachers, Pinterest, and Facebook to stay posted with fabulous freebies and ideas!

Be sure to visit the Bright Ideas Link-Up below to see more posts from over 150 fabulous educational bloggers. Thanks for visiting!

Color By Sums Addition Puzzles (CAUTION: These are engaging!)

Lately, my second graders have been a little... less than thrilled about practicing addition fact fluency... that is, until now!

CAUTION: These Color by Sums Addition Puzzles are highly engaging, and WILL make your life easier!! 

I'm thrilled to share my latest product with you...  To grab yours, click on the link to my store, or any of the images!
 I've created 5 different under-the-sea puzzles to choose from. Each puzzle has addition facts, with sums to 20. Color by code AND practice addition facts! My students are loving these!!!!
 Each puzzle has an answer key to make your life even easier. Print-and-go!
 Seriously, have I told you how much my students are loving these? Perfect for math centers, homework, or whole group!


Click here for my FALL-themed addition puzzles! 

Happy Teaching!


Be ready for your copy volunteers tomorrow and a FREEBIE!

Be ready for your copy parents with these adorable and time-saving labels for volunteers! {Inspiration for these comes from, where else, Pinterest!} Follow these 3 easy steps to get yourself ready for parent copy volunteers by tomorrow! Download your free copy by clicking on the link or any of the images. 

You'll need clothespins, scissors, super glue, and an optional laminator. I used my Scotch Thermal Laminator --which I L.O.V.E.!!

Step 1: Download and print the copy labels.  Use card stock for extra durability.

Step 2: Cut. Laminate, if desired. 

Step 3: Glue onto clothespins. Voila!

I chose to store my clothespins by clipping them onto an old flower pot. But you could also use a cup or bucket from the Dollar Tree or DollarSpot at Target. 

Keep your clothespins nearby when you're planning. That way, as soon as you pull a resource, you can clothespin it for copying by you or a volunteer. This sure beats my chicken-scratch handwritten notes on post-its which half of the time, cannot even be read by even me, let alone a volunteer! [smh]

I hope you enjoy these free labels! Thanks for stopping by to read :) 

Quick Formative Assessments to Use Over and Over Again

Happy Summer! Mine is rapidly dwindling away... School starts on Monday!

I'm thrilled to be a part of the Bright Ideas Link-up this month. You'll find some fabulously helpful tips from lots of great bloggers :)

Picture this... it's the end of your not-so-hot lesson on {insert painful standard here}. 
You've sweated, cried, and maybe even prayed that this lesson goes well. Enter - duh duh DUUUUUHHH - the Blank Stare. Crickets. Even an "I don't git it" or two. GASP.

I'm sure this has NEVER happened to you... *cough*cough* me, neither. But, here's an easy and QUICK way to formatively assess your students before The Blank Stare settles over your classroom.

Instead of using a whiteboard to write down answers (for novelty, or for the sake of saving time if I need to quickly assess), I ask students to grab the "answer cards" as I've named them. Using 3-ring binder clips and laminated card-stock or index cards, I typed up a multitude of common answers. Cards include (but aren't limited to), True, False, Cause, Effect, Fact, Opinion, Yes, No, A, B, C, D, All of the Above, and the ???? choice.  Each of my second graders pulls out a set of cards from their materials basket. And I begin to rapid-fire questions at them, in order to assess how well my students have grasped the focus skill of the lesson.

For example, when teaching Time-telling, I might follow the following "script" after direct instruction or before/after centers:
Me: Students, let's use our Answer Cards to check for understanding. I'm going to ask you (one/some) question(s) about our lesson, and I want you to answer by holding up your answer cards. I will know that you're ready to hear the first question when you have your answer cards in your hands.

Me: True or False: The short hand on the clock tells us what HOUR it is. Think about that. {Here, I also ask students to whisper their answer to the table or shoulder partner after allowing adequate Think Time. This is a great scaffolding technique for struggling learners or English Language Learners}. Be ready to show me your answer in 3...2...1... SHOW ME.

(Students flip to the answer as I count down and hold up their answer choice when I say "Show Me.")
Easy as pie! So helpful for my younger guys, who can't always write the word "True" or "Opinion" on a whiteboard (depending on the content of the lesson) and hold up an answer.  It also prevents students from asking, "How do you spell FALSE?" when it's time to show what they know, thus NOT sharing the answer with EVERYONE else...

 These answer cards save time, and last a long time! I've had this  class set for quite a few years. And I asked a room parent to make them for me, which worked even better!

It's a great idea to choose two to four colors and color code your cards using opposites like True/False, Fast/Opinion, Yes/No so that the visual is even more clear as you scan the room for understanding. This highly engaging way of assessing students has been so useful for me, and even easier to plan for. I use my answer cards almost every day.

If you enjoyed this great idea, be sure to follow me on Facebook and my store for more ideas.

For more bright ideas from other fabulous teacher bloggers, be sure to browse the link-up below and select the subject/grade level that interests you. Thanks for visiting!

Using C.U.B.E.S. Problem-Solving Strategy in Math and link to a FREEBIE

Problem-solving for my second graders is tough... but using the CUBES acronym has saved me! 

Here's how I use CUBES in my classroom. Click on the link to my store or any of the pictures to find out how to get yours. 

At the end of the post, you'll find a special FREEBIE to use CUBES alongside :) 

Closest to the direction instruction area in my classroom, I have my CUBES posters hung up all year long. They are always there and easy to refer to when working through a work problem. 
Each student also receives a half-sheet reminder of the strategy in their math journal. Sometimes I glue it in the back before school starts. Other times I give their student sheet to them after teaching the strategy. 
The acronym is pretty easy to remember. We use highlighters to do our CUBES together each day for  a week on a different word problem.

By the end of a week of using CUBES together as a whole group, the students are experts at CUBES. They know not to ask if they need to use them... instead they just do it! I always model with my small groups during Math in Writing time (I'm using Daily 3 in for Math this year). We have CUBES dance parties when we catch one another using the strategy without a reminder. By the end of the first month, I only need to say or write the word CUBES on the board or at their center as a prompt. 

My students have found such success with this! I hope that yours do, too! 

Thanks for reading. Click on the picture below or head on over to my fan page to get my Thinking Through My Problem-Solving FREEBIE! This template is great for implementing the CUBES strategy. 


Happy Birthday to me (and a CHANCE TO WIN for you!)

Happy Birthday to me!

Let's face it... we are not getting any younger. *Sigh* 

We can cry about it, or we can dance about it. Celebrate with me! 
Teachers work super hard, and I want to honor you by making your life just a tad bit easier. Enter my latest contest to win ANY of my TpT products. Yahoo! 

Did I mention that you can enter up to three times? Woot woot!

Click on the link to my page or the image below to enter. Secret bonus for my bloggy friends... PIN anything from a previous post to be entered twice! Leave your email address in comments to enter. Holla! 


You're a Poet, and You Will Soon Know It

Looking for a quick and easy poetry mini unit for your students? Check out my latest mini-bundle of NO-PREP graphic organizers and templates for your students. 
Click on the link to my store or any of the photos to download yours! 
More great news? The unit is Common Core aligned for fourth grade, but easily adaptable for any upper elementary grade. 

This mini unit comes with three different templates to choose from. I love how amazingly simple each one of these templates is, and how fabulous the final copy looks on colored construction paper with detailed illustrations. 

The first set of poems are all about using similes to describe emotion.  My example was JOY. Students can brainstorm different emotions in partners or whole group. They brainstorm on a bubble map what particular emotions might look like to them, taste like, smell like, sound like, remind them of, and make them feel like doing.  I encourage my students to brainstorm more than one emotion because they might be surprised with what they like better. Then they use the first draft template to try out their ideas. I've also included room on the bottom of the first draft page for students to create a mock of their illustration using symbols to represent each simile used. The final product is a beautifully-written poem with such personality!

The bubble map is simple and user-friendly. There's room for multiple words or phrases in each bubble.
 The first draft takes the anxiety away from those students who struggle with staring a black page. Writer's Block is cured!

There is also a bubble map and first draft template for using a color as the subject of the poem, instead of an emotion. Sometimes I use one template earlier on in the school year and save the other template for later on. My example uses the color pink. 

The last template in my mini unit is about using sensory language to describe the FIVE W's: Who, What, When, Where, and Why. I use this template after Fall or Spring Break to celebrate seasonal changes. I LOVE using this template in the fall, and again in springtime.
I'm excited about my brainstorming page, and have included a "teacher page" of what kinds of sensory language makes for a great Five W's poem.  The examples are juicy. This is a GREAT time to incorporate grammar into writing with use of adjectives and adverbs. 
I've included examples for spring and fall in the first draft template.

By the way, the final copy examples above are created on construction paper using crayon for the tree trunk and background (mountains, grass, etc.), and tempura paint which is layered using a sponge for the leaves. Fun and easy!!
There is also a spot called COLOR WORD BANK for students to brainstorm different versions of colors. For example, if students are writing about the season of autumn, then they could substitute a color like tangerine for orange for better word choice.

I hope you find these useful and easy! If you're anything like me, then your time is valuable and NO PREP is always a good thing :)

Happy Teaching XOXO,