Friday, November 30, 2012

Catching Up and a Freebie!

Conferences....Check.  Thanksgiving...Check.  Flu shots for the kiddos...Check.  Get our act together on blogging...check.  Get a few of our new TPT projects finished and uploaded...check!  Seems like lately the more we check off of our to do lists the more we add to it. I'm sure many of you can relate! We have been busy playing catch up this week after some well deserved family time over Thanksgiving break.

Along with checking things off of our lists our very favorite Elves on the Shelves have come to visit our classrooms.  The students are enthralled with "Elfie" (creative name choice...we know!) and "Jasper".  Elfie is just visiting for the first time in first grade.  They have been practicing their good behavior so that Elfie can give a good report to Santa each night. Jasper on the other hand has returned to visit the second graders and has brought with him a top secret mission from Santa.  SHHHH!  Santa has spilled his hot cocoa on his laptop and lost all of his data on Christmas customs around the world!  He has asked the second graders, with the help of their elf Jasper, to collect data on Christmas customs so that he can be ready for Christmas (See our Christmas Around the World with Elf on the Shelf Unit on TPT for more details).  So far Jasper has visited Germany, Holland, and Mexico this week and has brought back information for the second graders to to take notes on for Santa as well as some very nifty art projects!  All in all they are having a blast while learning about Christmas around the world.

We have also begun playing winter morning meeting games from our brand new collection of Winter Themed Classroom Meeting Games on TPT.  Check it out!  They are so fun...who wouldn't want to throw "snowballs" at their teacher? or at their students? :)

We have also been working on a FREEBIE for all of you for a while and have finally found time to finish it and get it up on TPT.  Both of us utilize literacy centers and Daily 5 for our language block and are constantly looking for new word work activities for the kiddos to keep busy with while we meet with our guided reading groups.  Spell-O-Rama was born out of this need.  Please go to our TPT store to download it for FREE.  The students absolutely love it and it can be differentiated to meet many different phonics and reading levels with little prep for the teacher...which is always a plus in our book!  Oh, and the suoer cute font that we used in this game is called No Bullies Allowed by Alyssha Swanson over at Teaching and Tapas.  Best of all it is FREE too!

Keep on Dancing in Your Teacher Shoes

Deanna and Jenelle

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Hurray! We were Nominated!

Hurray!  We are so excited and honored that our blog was nominated for The Liebster Award.  Thank you Melissa and Brittany over at Frugal in First!  This award is for new bloggers with less than 200 followers...that would be us!  We are a definitely newbies when it comes to bogging ourselves, but have had lots of great blogger-types to look up to as mentors.  We are thrilled and privileged to have the followers that we do have.  To think that someday we may have more than 200 followers is a dream that we hope will come true soon!

Here are the rules for the Liebster Award:

1. You must post 11 random things about yourself.

2. Answer the questions that the nominator set for you.
3. Create 11 questions for the people you nominate.
4. Choose 11 other blogs with fewer than 200 followers to nominate and link them in your post.
5. You cannot "tag back" the other blog, but leave a comment on this post with URL of your Liebster post so I can learn more about you and see who you nominate.

Here are the 11 random things about us:

1.  Deanna has six brothers and sisters and Jenelle has one sister.
2.  We met each other while living in an all girls dorm in college...we were the only non-freshman who chose to live there...we didn't have to have roommates that way!
3.  We were both pregnant with our fist kiddo at the same time...we bonded over morning sickness and chocolate cravings.
4.  We both met our husbands in high school.
5.  Jenelle is a Zumba instructor and Deanna just got trained as one this month...can you tell we love to dance, in teacher shoes or otherwise!
6. Deanna has been to Europe twice...and plans on going again, and again, and again!
7.  We both have cabins that we love to go to in the summer...we especially love floating on inner tubes and soaking up the sun.
8.  We would rather read picture books than adult books...and aren't embarrassed about that.
9.  We both secretly wish to be authors of children’s books some day.
10. We are both severe Asthmatics. Bring on the inhalers...puff, puff!
11. We both have two dogs. Jenelle has two Yorkies named Manny and Scooter and Deanna has two "Mutts" (Border Collie/Plotts Hound Mixes) named Rufus and Rajah.

Here are the 11 questions and answers from our nominators:

1. What do you love most about teaching? Least? 
We love dancing and using our imaginations with our students.  We do not like indoor recess and dread the day we come back after breaks.

2. Do you have a favorite teaching blog?
We love Dancing in Our Teacher Shoes of course!  J/K!  We love so many it is hard to pick just one or two.   
Here are a few of our favorites:
I (Heart) Recess
The Teacher Wife

Just check out all of the blogs we love on our sidebar...there are just too many to name!!!

3. Have you always wanted to be a teacher?
Deanna: Nope...I actually thought I wanted to be a pediatric pulmonologist (lung doctor for kids) right up until I applied for college.  Then I had an epiphany...teaching was my calling...duh!  Jenelle:  Not to be cliché but YES!  I was a teacher to my entire neighborhood and even gave homework!  I really wanted to teach in the childrens hospital, but ended up in first grade.

4. What is your favorite grade to teach?
FIRST!  Although Deanna teaches second right now and loves them too! :)

5. Do you have any pets?
We both have two dogs (Jenelle: Manny, Scooter Deanna: Rufus, and Rajah) and Deanna inherited great-grandpa's goldfish (Dolly) this fall when he moved from his house to an retirement community. 

6. Why did you start a teaching blog?
It was about time we did...we figured that we had gotten so many ideas from others that it was time to share a few of our own and repay the favor!

7. Dunkin Donuts or Starbucks?
STARBUCKS!  Although here in Minnesota, Caribou Coffee is the best even though it isn't a choice.

8. Do you follow the Common Core Standards?
We do, but we work in a school where we are not required to do soyet.

9. What is your favorite place to vacation?
Deanna: The cabin...or anywhere but here!  Jenelle: Florida...wait what's a vacation?

10. Favorite place to shop?
Should we list them all?  DSW, Hot Momma, Barnes and Noble, Etsy, and TPT of course....the list goes on!

11. What is your favorite recipe?
Who has time to cook...does pizza delivery count???

Here are the 11 questions for blogs that we have nominated:

1.     What do you do for fun?
2.     Who is your greatest influence or hero?
3.     If you could go back in time to meet anyone, living or dead, who would it be and why?
4.     What is your favorite picture book and do you read it to your students?
5.     What is the craziest thing you have ever done for your students/teaching job?
6.     What is your favorite way to recover/energize after a long week of teaching?
7.     Where would you take your students on a field trip if money was not an issue?
8.     What is one thing you have to do but wish that you didn’t?
9.     If you had to design the teacher “uniform” for your school what would it be?
10.   If you had to have a class pet what would it be?  Ours would be a rock…sorry if we stole your idea.
11.  What is the largest and smallest class sizes you have ever had in your career? 

Blogs we are nominating: 

Kathy Griffin’s Teaching Strategies
Teaching Special Thinkers
More Time 2 Teach
A Perfectly Poetic Page
The Kindergarten Pod
Hippo Hooray for Second Grade
Education to Mention
Mrs Balius's First Grade
Secrets of the Second Grade Sisters
Mels Box of Chocolates
First Grade Smiles

Monday, November 19, 2012

50th Day of School

Thursday was the 50th Day of School for us.....however we only have one day of school this week and then CONFERENCES and then a much deserved little turkey break!!!  
So we decided celebrate 50th Day today.  
We LOVE Cara Carroll's mini unit: Crusin' Through the 50 First Days of School!  It is awesome!!! 
From root beer floats (yes...your eyes are not deceiving you...that is a keg of root beer back there)

to stinky feet Sock Hops 

to a little good old Leave It To Beaver

we celebrated in style!

We are HALF WAY TO 100!!!! Can you believe it?
And 4 weeks from Christmas break!  :)

Deanna and Jenelle

Friday, November 16, 2012

10 Things We Have Learned

Last month we began two new teaching adventures.  We began our very own blog AND began selling our own teaching ideas and units on Teachers Pay Teachers and Teachers Notebook.  Its amazing how many things we have learned in such a short amount of time.  In case you are beginning your very own blog or Teachers Pay Teachers adventure, here is a list a few of the things that we wished we had known before we started:

1.  Always use Power Point!  Power Point works so much more smoothly when making TPT units than Word or Pages.

2.  People will not automatically find and follow your blog.  Its all about shameless self promotion any where you can!

3.  On TPT, your preview does not automatically show up as the thumbnails. You have to add each page as a separate picture.

4.  Commercial use clip art can be expensive and addicting to buy!  Be sure that you have an actual use for it before you buy it... Etsy and Teachers Pay Teachers are great resources for clip art and borders.

5. Keep a notebook or file of all of you "amazing" ideas because you will start out with a bunch but it will take you forever to get to them all.  If you are anything like us you will forget them before you get to them!

6.  Don't forget to save your created units as a Power Point AND a PDF so that you can go back and fix the inevitable typos.

7.  Computer code is scary...find someone who does this for a living and have them create your blog template and add the buttons that you want.  We used Dreamlike Magic and they were SO awesome!

8.  When you link to other people's blogs ask them to link to yours as we go once again with the shameless self promotion!

9.  Offer free things on your blog that you would want if you were your own follower.  Everyone loves free things but only if they are useful!


10.  Don't take yourself too seriously and have fun!  You will make mistakes, you won't be perfect, and that's OK!  This is an adventure after all and what fun would an adventure be with no excitement!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Our First Snafu!

Milestones come in all shapes and sizes.  Sometimes they are wonderfully happy milestones, like finally having a classroom of your own, your first summer break, or your very first sale on Teachers Pay Teachers!  Other times these notches in our teacher belts are not so happy.  Between the two of us we have seen many milestones, some good, and some bad.  Today we added our very first unhappy notch in our belt as sellers on Teachers Pay Teachers.  Keep in mind that we have been buying from our amazing teacher colleagues on Teachers Pay Teachers for a long time but have only begun to sell our own ideas on the site a mere month ago.  A few weeks ago we posted our Christmas Around the World with Elf on the Shelf unit.  It was a labor of love and many an hour was spent toiling to get things just right.  Today one of our amazing customers (who we appreciate with all of our hearts!) reminded us that even when we think we have our ducks in a row, sometimes things slip through the cracks.  This well intentioned customer found... a dreaded TYPO!  What?  How did we let that happen?  How many times did we read through that document?  A ZILLION at least!  Who knew that Italy was shaped like a "book"and not a "boot"!?!  After feeling awful that we made a mistake we quickly fixed the typo, uploaded the fixed version and thanked our customer for finding the problem.  After the initial panic wore off and we had time to reflect on what happened, it reminded us that its alright to make mistakes AND more importantly, its alright for our students to make mistakes.  Sometimes, as teachers, we get so wrapped up in what we are doing, and we want things to go so perfectly, that we forget that our students are ALLOWED to make mistakes and SHOULD make mistakes.  That's how they learn...and in this case, that's how we learned too!

Keep on Dancing in Your Teacher Shoes!

Deanna and Jenelle

Friday, November 9, 2012

Work Habits and Behavior Freebie

Conference time for us is just around the corner.  Our report cards went home this week and we are starting to organize and put together the students' portfolios.  One of the most important things that we talk with parents about at conferences are the work habits and behaviors of their children.  As primary teachers, a great deal of our time is spent directly teaching our students the life skills and habits that they will need to learn to be successful in future grade levels.  We often feel as though these areas are not emphasized enough on the actual report card so we created a work habits and behavior assessment that both the students and teacher participate in. You can pick up this awesome FREE packet at either our Teachers Pay Teachers shop or our Teacher's Notebook shop.
Deanna and Jenelle

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Not Your Regular Fall Art Project

If you are like us you love student made art projects hanging in the hallways for all to see.  For us, the less cookie-cutter these projects are, the better!  There is something truly special about how young minds see the world are how that allows their creativity to just spill all over the page.  Here is our latest art project endeavor.  The second graders were all given the exact same, step-by-step, directions for drawing the owl and look at how wonderfully DIFFERENT they all are!  A simple piece of paper, a black crayon, some water colors and viola...second grade masterpieces!

 Someone call the Louvre!  There are some talented 
artists not getting the recognition that they deserve!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Getting Ready for the Elf! that our report cards are finished it is time to start thinking about our favorite form of classroom management....THE ELF ON THE SHELF!!!  We know it is early, but he appears the DAY AFTER Thanksgiving, which is the day we come back from a long weekend and conference recovery.  So better to be prepared.  Plus we just had to order another one because last year one of ours was actually stolen off of the fan.  And he was TAPED to the fan!  Someone REALLY must have needed him.  He was untaped and elf-napped!  
Santa knows who you are..... :)
 We LOVE us some Elf on the Shelf!  Seriously, what better way is there to maintain awesome behavior than to have Santa's personal helper watching over us. We love that he reports directly to the "Big Man" himself.  No need for us to call Santa at the end of the week anymore. ;)

Last year our elves were delivered straight form the North Pole as a special present from Santa.  This year is a little different because one of us is now in second grade. The first graders will be thrilled at the arrival and the daily hunt to find their special friend, but the second graders did that last year and we REALLY wanted to keep the magic alive for the second graders too.  So we decided to keep the magic alive in second grade with a a super secret Elf Mission from Santa using Christmas Around the World as inspiration.  If you would like to check it out for yourself you can hop on over to Teachers Pay Teachers or Teachers Notebook.  Happy Elfing!

  Keep On Dancing in Your Teacher Shoes! 

Friday, November 2, 2012

Ode to Report Card Comments...

Its report card season again...that wonderful time of year where you have to adequately express in words, letters, and numbers how each child is doing in your class.  If you are anything like us, and your school is still chiseling your report cards onto paper with a black ink pen, you dread the moment you reach the final comment section.  You spend hours decided the best wording and then go back and change it twenty times.  You many even have some amazing white out splotches after you've changed your mind once again.  After looking at our white out covered, black ink stained fingers, we thought to ourselves, "There has to be a better way!"  And so our fellow teacher friends, we present to you an amazing invention called...LABELS!  Bet you didn't see that one coming.  Its so simple, and yet it took us seven long years to think of it!  So this year, instead straining and staining our fingers we decided to type out comments into an 1"x 2 5/8" Avery label template and just print and stick.  This gave us plenty of opportunities to change our minds...and even copy and paste when our awesome comments could apply to more than one student!  So get a cup of coffee and maybe even a piece of pumpkin bread and buckle down and write those comments!