Monday, July 4, 2016

The Best Kept Secret in Education Part 2

As you have previously read in Part 1, I attended the ALA Conference last week.  I don't think I specifically mentioned why I thought it was the best kept secret in education but if you read the post, I feel like it was self explanatory... 3 hours, 3 aisles, 42 new books for my classroom.  No brainer.

And that was only Sunday.

Monday was a whole new ball game folks.  

First off, my shoulders were KILLING me from the day prior.  All those bags weighed down with those books was no joke.  I had no idea how I was going to carry the new books today. (Yea, yea #firstworldproblems)

Secondly, I had little man with me and that was a gamble right there friends.  It could have gone either way.  Luckily the little ham bone did amazing and won over many very sweet people with his smile and manners.  

Now I was nervous to bring him for a variety of reasons but one of the main ones was that I didn't want to be this giant stroller in the aisle.  Then I remembered how many people were walking around with rolling suitcases and how large your load is with bags of books hanging off both sides of you and I immediately stopped feeling guilty.

That stroller was clutch y'all!  There was no way on God's green earth I could have carried all my new books with my shoulders the way they were.  Why yes, I am a wimp.  But seriously, I should have taken a picture of how red my shoulders still were the next day from the "strap rash" (I don't know if that's a thing...  It seems like a sketchy disease one gets...).

Any way, moving on!

Monday is different than the other two days in that it is shorter.  The conference was open from 9-2. There are fewer people as well, not by much but still smaller.  There were also fewer authors than on Sunday but still a very good amount!  We got to meet Jonathan Fenske who is the author of Barnacle is BORED and the illustrator of Maxi the Little Taxi, Henry Cole.  Both very nice men!

Definitely using this one with my 5th graders for #classroombookaday
Sunday night after the conference I saw on social media how many books, authors, and publishers I missed so I devised a game plan of who I wanted to see and where I needed to be for the next day.  So on Monday I got to visit at least half the conference room and my same three aisles from yesterday ;)

Same sort of goodness happens on Monday that happened on Sunday...  "Free book?"  "Want to meet this author?"  "Would your son like a book?"  Just as nice as nice could be.

What was different was even though they say the conference ends at 2, people really start closing up shop at 12.  When I say closing up I mean they really don't want to haul anything back so they just start giving it away.  For free.

Now not all publishers/vendors did this but the majority and definitely the big name ones did.  Here's the rub: they all do it at the same time so you need to figure out which vendor has the most goods you want and get in line.  And I do mean a line.  Some people even started getting in line around 11.  That was not going to work for us.  You should also be aware of their rules.  Some places only let you pick 3 books, some would let you get 5, some were as many as you could hold.  Know what you're getting in line for!  This was not an easy decision.  So many good books I wanted but you just didn't know what you might get...

Look at all those beautiful books!  I just want to add them all to our class library!
Around 11:58 (because I wasn't even sure we were going to make it to this point since lunch time was vastly approaching) I jumped eighth in line for a distribution company who had one side of their set-up for free and the other for super cheap!  It was surprisingly organized!  I went in with a number of other people (they do police how many can be in at one time) and grabbed what I wanted, paid for my goods and left.  What was a nice surprise was the diverse selection of books I got because it was a distributor and not a specific publishing company.

Told you that stroller was clutch!
Part 3 is all the advice I could possibly give you for a trip to the ALA Conference!

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

The Best Kept Secret in Education Part 1

This weekend I had the opportunity to attend the American Library Association Annual Conference in Orlando, FL and it was beyond anything I could have ever imagined!  In this three part blog series I am going to tell you about each day that I was able to attend and my final advice for you should you ever get the privilege to go!
 I knew it was coming a couple months ago, I had even said to myself, "Hey!  A lot of my favorite authors are going to be there, I want to go."  And then mommy-hood and teaching life got in the way and I completely forgot about it.  Fast forward a few months to this past weekend and what pops up on my Instagram feed but pics from the conference (#alaac16)!  Well since it's in my own backyard I decide I'm just going to get an exhibit pass (for $65) and go the next day!  The exhibit pass gets you in for Saturday, Sunday, and Monday.  At this point I have already missed Saturday and because of other plans already made I would only get to go for a short while on Sunday and Monday, but that's okay because I'm a HUGE book nerd and it's worth it to me.

So I get there Sunday, register on site and walk into the mass amount of vendor booths.  There are so many books and crazy technology I don't even know where to begin!  I see Scholastic's sign hanging from the ceiling so that's my beacon and where I go (what teacher wouldn't?!).  
Well, as I'm walking someone says, "Would you like to meet Frances O'Roark Dowell and get a book signed?"  
"Yes, I would!... but I don't have any of her books on me.  How much are they?"
  "Oh, they're free!  Here are two, one has already been published the other is an ARC (advanced reviewer/reader copy)."  
So I wait in line and meet the fabulous Frances who I can say is an absolutely a doll and funny to boot!  She was so nice and personable.  We even got to talking about my kiddos and how we like to Skype with authors and she offered to do a Skype visit with my students!  When she signed my book she even wrote her email inside to get connected.  Just so friendly!
Okay, so back on my journey towards Scholastic...
I finally make it to Scholastic, but on my journey I pass many different children's publishers along the way.  And at every publisher they are giving away free books.  I don't mean some dinky boring book that no one wants.  I mean the new release you have on your Amazon Wish List but are waiting until it comes out on paperback (because we're teachers and have no money), or the sequel to a book you and your kids have been dying to get your hands on.  It's all there just waiting for you to claim and take back to your room!  Usually it's not even just one freebie, there are three or 4 to choose from and guess what...  You can take all three or four!  So I did!  (Disclaimer: I offered to pay for almost every book because it just blew my mind that they were giving them all away for free.  Every time they said, "Oh no take it, it's free!")
And when you go back about 20 minutes later, there is a whole new selection of books because they ran out of the last one they had!  Well, let me just take one of those as well, thank you!
Now, not all books are free.  Some are for sale.  When I say sale, yes I mean you can buy them but they are SUPER DISCOUNTED.  Hardbacks anywhere from $5-$10 max.  Paperbacks $1-$5.  If you are having an author sign your book, they give you the book for free!
I got to meet Pam Munoz Ryan and I LOVE her!  She gets me.  Or she could have just been really nice and saying what she thought I wanted to hear but either way, it worked for me!  I am so excited to read her new book ECHO.
Now, Sara Pennypacker was signing at Disney Hyperion for her new book Waylon! One Awesone Thing, but I also wanted her to sign our Global Read Aloud for this year, Pax.  So I spent $10 at Scholastic and bought one.  Come to find out two hours later she was signing for Pax at Scholastic and I could have got a copy for free then, but that line was ridiculously long so I found it money well spent!
I made the fatal mistake of not branching out and/or preparing for this visit.  To be fair, I had no time to plan because I registered on site where I got my goodies then but I was also short on time so I was trying to get as much in as I could.  I also assumed that the three aisles of children's publishers was it because on either side was book technology.  So those three aisles are where I stayed and got all my goodies.  Rookie mistake.
This was my first time I ever had FOMO (fear of missing out).  Seeing how many authors I almost missed, or did miss, and looking at other people's posts and seeing the books they got that I didn't definitely put FOMO into high effect, haha.  It also made going back the next day all that more exciting!  You remember that feeling you got on Christmas Eve as a kid just waiting to see what would be under that tree the next morning?  It's like that but tenfold because it lasts way longer than 30 minutes!!!
Imagine if I had stayed the whole day and actually walked around!?
Part 2 is all about Monday (which was different than Sunday!) and Part 3 is my advice to anyone going, especially the first time!  I will also be giving you a list of all the titles I received.

Friday, January 1, 2016

New Year, New Blog!

New year, new blog I say!  I got a whole revamp from the lovely Gabby over at Gabby's Classrooms!  I love the brightness and cheerfulness it brings me every time I look at it.  The perfect way to start off a new year!  Thank you Gabby!!!

This time of year is all about resolutions.  What are some of yours?  I have had many in the past which have worked out well and some which have not.  This year I was getting real about what I was actually going to do.  Now with little man on our hands our time is a lot more valuable (and non-existent).

Let's be real...  I'm not dieting, I like food too much!

I'm not committing to exercising because I don't love it and I wanted to focus on the things I love this year.  But also because at the end of the day when I have my 15 minutes left after baby time, mommy and daddy time (aka dinner), and finishing school work or my gifted courses, that last 15 minutes before I completely pass out, if I haven't done so already on the couch, are spent brushing my teeth, taking out my contacts and escaping into a book for 15 minutes for my sanity.  Without that it gets ugly people.  UGLY.

This year I have a resolution with my hubs and two with myself.  So for those of you counting at home, that's three!  A bit gutsy for me if I do say so myself but let's just see where this takes us shall we.

This year my hubs and I have decided that we would like to go on one date night a month.  Sounds easy right?!  Surprisingly, that time just flies by and you realize with a new baby, who is now almost one, that the last date you went on was right after he was born.  Unacceptable!

We challenged ourselves to each come up with six dates, this way we would have one for each month of the year already set up.  Sometime this weekend we will share our ideas and start to plan them out!  The nice thing about this is the flexibility.  We can do these whenever we want!  We can even swap them out if we need to.  I made these little cards to fill out (because have you met me... it's what I do) and when we decide the date we'll circle the month, check off the day and write down the date in the box.  If you want your own date night cards, click here for your free copy.

I'm ridiculously excited to see what the hubs thought up!  I have always loved gifts (whether it is the getting or giving) not because of the stuff, I in fact hate clutter stuff, but because of the thought behind it!  We were only allowed to do three dinner and movies but the dinners had to be unique, not some place we always go.  I'll let y'all know what he comes up with!

This year I wanted to challenge myself to take a picture a day.  Maybe it's something I'm proud of, a stinking cute picture of our Peanut, a funny moment, the mundane, whatever it is I'll take one photo a day.  I started talking with my girls about this and Project Life by Becky Higgins was brought up.  So I check out her website and what to my wondering eyes does appear but absolute greatness!

I've seen her scrapbook stuff in the craft stores but remember, I only have 15 minutes a day people.  Aint nobody got time for that.  So I move on to the next tab which says Project Life Digital.  I can totally do digital!  But the digital is a SMIDGE over what I want to spend right now.  Because let's be honest.  I'm going to need more than one of those cute kits.
Then you see there is an app that let's you do all this while only spending a few dollars here and there for the kits you want.  UMMM yes please!  I can totally rock this resolution with this and print a super cute book at the end of the year.  I even made one page from New Years already.  Can't beat that!

Here is a super quick video that shows you all it takes.

Super simple y'all.  I'm going to try and read 60 books in 2016!  I got the idea from my friend Amanda at My Shoe String Life.  You can even sign up at to sign the pledge and make reading a part of your every day life.  I've already started my first one for our Literary Leaders Book Club : Masterminds by Gordon Korman.

It doesn't count because I finished it before the new year but you MUST READ Book Scavenger by Jennifer Chambliss Bertman.  I loved it!!!  It's all about codes, puzzles, mysteries, and books!  It's another of our Literary Leader Book Club reads for this upcoming semester.

That's it in a nutshell y'all!  My three resolutions for this year.  What are you resolutions?

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Orange Ya Glad It's a Blog Hop

Hey y'all!  I'm so glad that you were able to join us for the third annual Orange Ya' Glad it's a Blog Hop!

I am the

If you have hopped with us in the past, some things will be familiar, and some things will be new!

This year, all of our bloggers are focusing on free tips or ideas that they can share with you to get your school year off to a great start.  Some ideas will have a freebie, others might just be a stand alone concept.  The idea is to try and share things that will solve problems and create a happy and stress free first few weeks!

Let's get this party started!

Last year one of my old teammates and teaching soulmates, Tia, sent a letter home asking families to send in a framed family photo with their child to help decorate her room.  Well, I LOVED that idea!  Her room looked amazing, it was like a second home, and the kids really had an investment in it because it was part them.

So, what do good teammates/teaching soulmates do?  They steal/share the idea!!!  She's also the brains behind the Parent Homework Letter the first week of school that I blogged about earlier this year.  If you want a freebie that will have an amazing impact on your year and how you view your students (no big build up or anything), click here.  I just don't know where I would be without that woman!?

Here is what mine will look like this year!  Yep.  You read that right...  What mine WILL look like this year.  So school hasn't started yet for me (one more week?!) and Tia didn't have any pictures so I made asked some of my past and present teammates that had kids at our school to bring in framed family photos so I could post them here for y'all!  Once a teammate, always a teammate.  For better or for worse.  #they'restuckwithme

Here is the letter that I will send home this year.

If you'd like to have this freebie file for your own class,
please click here.  It is a PowerPoint and the only thing editable is the name.  The font is KB Tiny Red Whale if you wanted it all to match, but really any font will work.  You could even go wild and crazy and jazz it up with a little cursive signature!  You know, that secret language your students think you write in, lol.

We will be having an Instagram giveaway again!  At the bottom of each post, there will be a letter.   The letters all work together to give you the name of a type of orange!  This year is a bit's a two word name!  Who knew there was such a fancy two-named orange out there?!

This post is brought to you by the letter "O."

**Fun Fact: Starting at the first blog, Mrs. Russell's Room, and going through will give you the right answer!** 

Once you've solved the puzzle...take a picture of the answer.  
Post it on instagram and hashtag it with #orangehop2015.  We love original, do something fun with your image!  Check out these ideas from last year!

We will go through the pictures and select a winner!  What do you get if you win you ask? Well for starters...

Some of these other ladies just might have prizes for you as well... I guess you'll have to hop along to find out ;o)

Next up, a blogger that I not only love and follow religiously, but she is one of my BBB's and a good friend.

The awesome Joanne Miller from Head Over Heels for Teaching!  Click on her button to move on to the next idea.

I hope you enjoy the hop and good luck!

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Orange Ya Glad that it's BTS Time!?

Hey y'all!  Well, it's that time again...  That bittersweet time where you're sad to see your summer ending but secretly excited to see Crayola in the aisles again.  To help you through this Back to School season, I'm joining with these wonderful Florida bloggers to give you some great back to school ideas (and freebies!!!) that will help you start the year off right!  You can look forward to seeing tips from the following Florida PreK-5 bloggers!

Please join us on Saturday, August 8th at 12 noon!
Can't wait to share some fantastic ideas with you!

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Light a Fire with a Good Book - and a HUGE Giveaway!

It's that time again... the bitter-sweet back to school time. You're going to miss your summer terribly but you secretly get excited by the rainbow of school supplies now in the aisles!  What better way to smooth that transition than with some ideas and goodies?

Several of us bloggers have come together to give you some awesome ideas for Back to School Books! These books can be used to set up your classroom community, begin a good lesson, or just as a fun read-aloud.

The book I'd like to share with you is Sisters Grimm: Fairy Tale Detectives by Michael Buckley.  I know this isn't your normal first week of school read aloud but it is definitely a novel I love to start my year off with!

In book one of this bestselling series, sisters Sabrina and Saphne are sent to live with their mysterious grandmother, Relda Grimm.  The sisters learn they are descendants of the Brothers Grimm, whose famous book of fairy tales is actually a collection of case files.  The girls are the latest in a long line of fairy-tale detectives, and their new hometown is filled with Everafters (as magical folks like to be called) - some good and some very, very bad.  When a mysterious Everafter setes a giant loose on the town, it's up to the Sisters Grimm to save the day.


Here are just some of the reasons it's one of my favorites!

  1. It's about a town of fairy tale characters that we all know and love but they are not who they seem!  The villains might be bad guys, the good guys might be wicked, but you never know what anyone is up to in Ferry Port Landing (and that keeps my kids on their toes!).  The kids know most of these characters but I have found as the years go on, they don't necessarily know their stories - unless it was made into a Disney movie, lol.  So you might want to do some referencing or pre-reading :o)
  2. It's a mystery... my favorite! Sabrina and Daphne Grimm are on hot on the trail to find out who stepped on Mr. Applebee's farm and the even bigger mystery... What happened to their parents?
  3. It's a series!  There are 9 books total and a companion guide.  I read this my first year at my new school and our media specialist had to buy the rest of the series because so many kids came to ask if she had it! LOL So get book two ready to go!
  4. There are TONS of reading skills that can be taught using this book and with all the wondrous foods that their Granny Relda makes, you could easily have yourself an end of book celebration with those funky treats!

One of the very first skills I ever teach, and use with this book, is Point of View.  The reason for this is because it is an ongoing skill.  For every book we read after this, we can use our notes and skills from the Sisters Grimm to figure out the POV of our newest read aloud. Usually one of the harder skills for students to grasp, I have made it easier with a student friendly power-point, four different ways for them to take notes and a Point of View Road Map that will help them figure out what POV any story is written in!

And have you heard? Teachers Pay Teachers is having a site-wide Back to School Sale August 3rd and 4th, so you will be able to get my Point of View PPT and Notes Pack (along with the POV Poster Pack) 28% off using the promo code BTS15!

We know what else really "lights a fire" in you, and that is fabulous technology! We are giving away a brand new Kindle Fire HD6 to one lucky winner! 

Enter the rafflecopter below by hopping through each of our blogs and entering the secret word that can be found on the tablet in each of our posts. Also make sure to follow our TPT stores because the winner will be announced through a message in your TPT inbox! 

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We are also giving away a $25 gift certificate to Creative Teaching Press!

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Good luck! We hope you have a successful start to your school year!