Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Blog Hop, Giveaway & Freebie! Teaching Strategies that Work

I'm so glad to be a part of this blog hop about Teaching Strategies that Work. Keep reading 'til the end so you can enter the giveaway! 16 bloggers have teamed up to offer some great products AND gift certificates to their stores. I love spending at TPT so this would be an awesome prize! :)

A BIG thank you to Celeste at the Education Highway for coming up with this idea, hosting the giveaway and doing so much work to create the graphics and get everything running! :) Of course, she is part of this blog hop so make sure you stop by her blog and share your appreciation!
Join at: https://www.tsu.co/TeacherTreasure

There is a new social media was officially launched last week and is already taking the blogging world by storm. It is called Tsu (pronounced Sue). When you join and start using the network, it feels a lot like facebook. So, why bother? What's new?

Facebook started out as a fun network to connect with family and friends. I remember reading about it while I was in a hotel lobby during a family reunion vacation. I was connecting with family members who I had only been able to see a handful of times in my life. I thought this sounded like a brilliant way to strengthen those connections and be involved in their lives while living so far away. It was. I've enjoyed seeing pictures of weddings and children and little glimpses into their lives.

When I started selling on TPT, Facebook seemed like a natural addition. I was already on Facebook a lot (too much!) so why not use this as a platform to connect with teachers. I enthusiastically participated in blog hops, giveaways and was working to provide and find content that would be beneficial. My facebook account grew quickly from a few dozen and now it is really close to 4,000 likes.

Unfortunately, over the last several months Facebook has been making changes that have been detrimental to bloggers and business owners. They started offering a system to pay for posts to have more a wider audience and limiting how much your post is seen. My organic reach (the number of people who have a chance to see the post) dwindled over this time. If I do not  pay for the post to be seen, Facebook is generally showing my posts to about 1% of my followers. I have tried asking my followers to like, comment, choose to get notifications, etc. I have tried paying for posts to be seen. It is very discouraging to write something and then have it filtered and blocked from those who would like to see it. I recently had a really big sale on one of a large bundle at TPT. I posted about the sale on Facebook and Instagram. I had several teachers who eventually saw the post from Facebook and were sad they missed the sale. I extended it and still had some who missed it. It has become a problem. Also, I loved to host giveaways on Facebook. It was fun and easy to host a quick giveaway where you could enter by liking or leaving a comment. Facebook also changed their terms for giveaways a few times over the last few months and at times has severely limited giveaways.

Tsu is a different type of social media. They believe that the content creators (the ones who write the posts) should control the content and even make the majority of the ad revenue that is generated on a social media site. They have an MLM type of structure so that you sign up with someone and both of you benefit from your activity on the site. It is free to join and there is no need to "recruit" anyone to join up with you. You can just use it like you would use facebook - to follow friends and other interests (teaching). The best part - they are not filtering who sees the content. If you are following my store and scroll through your feed then you will be able to see the links to giveaways, freebies, teaching tips, etc. that I post. I can even host a giveaway without worrying about not following the terms of the provider. I am really excited to try this. I have seen so many teachers join in these first few days. I hope that this continues so we can have a great place to network and share our ideas for the classroom! Please go to tsu.co/TeacherTreasure to sign up and start following my page. :)

Social media is all about connecting (in this case with other teachers). So, I thought I would share a few simple strategies for connecting to your students and families.

CONNECTING WITH STUDENTS

GREET
I was recently at a PD conference where Harry Wong, author of the First Days of School, was speaking. One of the things that he spoke about was the importance of greeting the students when they enter the classroom. That is something that I had already learned from my wonderful co-workers. They all stand at the door to welcome each student. That is not a requirement and no one has asked them to do that. Wong expanded on that idea even further, by suggesting that you train students to take turns greeting each other. What a wonderful way to help your students build their social skills and create a warm and caring classroom environment. I am just starting to implement this idea and am excited about the difference it can make in our classroom.

LISTEN
Most students have so much that they want to talk about -- that is why you are always telling them to stop talking and get to work! :) We thrive on those social connections. My 1st graders love to share! We have been learning about bats and I asked if any of them had a seen a bat (outside of the zoo). A few of them had some very credible sounding stories. Then, I started getting stories like..."Once, I was camping and I heard bats outside of the tent." Hmmm... those noisy bats! That happens all the time! They just really want a story to share. My own boys are getting older (teen and pre-teen) and they seem to compete with each other to be the one to get to tell something. It is a frequent complaint lately that one starts telling something and the other wants to interrupt and finish it! I remember our pastor's wife sharing about raising teenage boys and that sometime you just have to hang out with them (usually in the kitchen!) and talk about insignificant things (minecraft!) and before you know it they are sharing about the things that really matter. Listen to what your students have to say. Connect.

COMMUNITY
Help your students feel that they are an important part of the classroom. I read a recent Washington Post article about a teacher who spent a few days as a student. She asked one of the students she was shadowing if they were an important part of the class. Did she make important contributions? Would her input be missed on days that she was absent? The student laughed. No, she did not feel like they needed her in class. How sad. Our students spend so much time with this community of learners - shouldn't they feel like they belong?

CONNECTING WITH FAMILIES

There are multitudes of ways to connect with parents and family members.


COMMUNICATE
I send emails to my parents most every week to remind them of upcoming events and share what we are learning. I try to think about the things that they want to know. What will their child share with them about the day? What details will they have questions about? When we introduce a new app for the iPad rotations, I will often share that info with them. I will tell them about a topic we are studying or something fun that happened in class. I want them feel like they are also a part of the class. We have a weekly bulletin that is emailed from the office, but many parents don't really read it. It is information about the whole school -- they want specific information. Emails from the teacher will always hold more weight than general office emails.


COMMUNICATE - part 2!
It's all about communication! :) Many parents want to know about the behavior of their student. Our class has a classroom clip chart. I use a classroom calendar to communicate upcoming events and the students color the square at the end of the day to show what color they were on at the end of the day. I use a marker to put a check mark on the square to keep them honest! :) (not that they would ever purposely use the wrong color...)

I've created some praise certificates that you can use to let your parents know when a student has awesome behavior. This is a freebie that is exclusively for my tsu followers. I have another freebie later in this post for EVERYONE! :)  Tsu followers - just click on either image below to go directly to the tsu post and download your freebie!



COMMUNICATE - part 3!
Let parents know about the positives in class. Share about the good things that happen in the day. Send home a happy note. Share pictures of the pictures that you take in the classroom - - student's participating in classroom activities, student work, etc.


I made a freebie with the fall leaves and the words from this display. You'll have to provide your own scarecrow. The pumpkins were created with strips of orange posterboard. I used a brad at the top and fanned them out and taped the bottom. The leaves are green construction paper. The vines are green curling ribbon and some gold cord. I made the fence out of large brown leaf bags. Click on the scarecrow picture above to download the leaf pattern and words. There are a few different quotes available for the words.

Here's some more information about creating your door and including the audio QR codes. I had the students decorate fall leaves. They wrote about 3 things that they were thankful for during their Welcome Work (a phrase that I learned from Harry Wong at the conference -- isn't that great? I like it so much better than Entry Task!). Then, I had a grandparent volunteer record them reading it on the iPad. I created a QR code to put on the leaf so that when the leaf is scanned, parents (and others) can hear the message of thankfulness. This idea was MUCH easier in my mind! I found that it is difficult to record the audio on the iPad and then create the QR code on Windows. There were some complications with audio players, etc. Next time, I may get a microphone for my computer and use recordmp3.org. 

Here is what I used to create the audio QR codes with the iPad:
*Awesome Voice Recorder (free app)  This app will create an .mp3 recording and you can easily send it to dropbox. I saw a few blog posts about linking to dropbox, but I never was able to figure out a way to do that and get the audio file to open up or start playing. It just wanted to send me to a download page. I made the file public and tried to get the link while it was playing and nothing worked. If you know of a way to do this, please let me know.
~~YOU CAN AVOID THIS STEP - just use the soundcloud app!~~
*Sound Cloud - an online platform for sharing original music and audio content. Transfer your files from dropbox to soundcloud. There are options under each file. Click on "share" to get a URL.
~~The Soundcloud iOS app has an recording option. Just record the files directly on Soundcloud to save time.~~
*Goqr.me - This is my go-to QR creator. Just select the globe icon to enter a web address. Input the URL and press enter. Click on download beneath the live preview. I save the code as a .jpg. You'll want to view the file right away so that you can change the default name to the student name. You don't want to mix-up the files! :)
*Insert the QR code image onto a page in Word, etc. Print.
*Scan - Use a QR scanning app to access the file. I like to use Scan. I could not find a way that would play the file automatically so you do need to press the play button for this method.

GIVEAWAY & FREEBIES!!
There is a big prize package that you could win! This prize includes 8 ($10) TPT store WINNER'S CHOICE to choose an item up to that value and 8 great products! You can enter to win this package by following each store on tsu. You can sign up for tsu @ https://www.tsu.co/TeacherTreasure.
Keep reading to the end of the post for your freebies. :) Enter to win the prize package here:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Visit the Education Highway to see the other participating bloggers and their posts with teaching strategies and freebies!




Friday, October 3, 2014

Congratulations to the giveaway winners & October Calendar Days

Congratulations to Lorena, Mary L., Cheryl J., Heather S., Rose T., Robyn G. Emily L. Michelle S. They are the winners of the Fabulous Fall Friends Giveaway! Emails have been sent to notify the winners.

Can you believe it's October???? Wow! I am ready for some crisp, fall days! Following is a list of some of the unusual National Days in October. I will feature some of these days and have some resources for you. Clean Your Virtual Desktop Day may be a good one for me! Am I the only one who works with about 30 tabs/pages open and has a very crowded desktop? Windows 8 took care of some of that for me by eliminating the desktop (not a fan!). Stay tuned and I'll be posting about some of these special days! Let me know what ones you would really like to see featured.
Happy Friday!!



Thursday, September 25, 2014

Fabulous Fall Friends Giveaway AND Fall Poster freebies!

Hello, dear friends! I am sorry for the neglect of this little blog. I had my blogging calendar and schedule all planned out and thought I was ready for September.... Nope! Weeks of very, very late nights preparing for back-to-school = very, very sick teacher. I just can't seem to shake this cold! A tiny factor could be that I'm writing this after midnight which leaves me very few hours of sleep tonight. :(   Hopefully, I will be better soon and can get a routine with this blogging! I have been posting pretty regularly to Instagram so feel free to follow me there.

Make sure you go to the end of the post to get the freebies!!

In the midst of these busy days, I reached a couple of amazing milestones.
There are now over 4,000 Teacher Treasure Hunter followers on pinterest and over 1,500 on TPT! Thank you for following!! I wanted to thank you all with an awesome giveaway! My TPT friends have donated over 75 fall products for this giveaway! I've divided the prizes up into groups so there will be 9 winners! The giveaway will end at midnight (PST) on September 30, 2014.  Good luck!
I put together a few posters as an additional thank-you! There are a couple of fun ones for the younger students and a few with photos that would work anywhere. I hope you enjoy this little fall treat! It's my favorite time of the year! Click on each picture to download the file. The last 2 posters are in 1 file.







Sunday, August 31, 2014

September Days and Classroom Tour Part 1

 Wow! Where did August go?

I'm posting a look ahead of the September National Days. There were a few days that didn't really have much that was usable in the classroom for students.

*VOTE* Look at the calendar and let me know if there are days you would really like to see me feature here on my blog. I am trying to only feature days that would be fun and/or meaningful to celebrate in the classroom and I usually only cover the days that fall on a weekday. I try to find freebies and fun ideas from around the web for you to use that day. I sometimes even create a special freebie!


Back-to-school!

Our first day back-to-school (with students) was on Tuesday. This week we have a BBQ and an informal Open House to welcome back the students and parents. The classrooms are open and the parents can see what we've so far (in a little over a week!). There is always the pressure to have some wonderful things finished and displayed, but I think parents understand that we've barely even started. I always tell my parents at Orientation that the year starts out slowly as far as difficulty level. We're reviewing many of the things that they learned in Kindergarten and may have forgotten over the summer. This is definitely helpful when they are starting off with basic math pages that have you color a certain number or reading sentences that have about 3 words. It progresses quickly though and before you know it we'll be zooming through new material!

I'm still setting up some things in the classroom and working on a display for the hallway (Our 1st & 2nd Grade Neighborhood). Here are a few pictures that I have to share with you now.
1) Our Best Work Wall - The supplies are all from Wal-Mart. I used the scrapbook paper pack that was shown. I did have to a black/white (numbers) page that I had from somewhere. You may need a few packs to have a good mix of the styles that you want to use. I put the mini duck tape over the top of the clothespin and hot glued a tack to the back. I am still going to add a small picture of each student to the clothespin so we know who did the work! :) I made the letters and used a variety of paper backgrounds that coordinated with the paper. 

*Here are the words: Our Best Work

2) Noodle Pictures - The first day of school we read the book, The Night Before First Grade by Natasha Wing. In the story, the students make pictures our of noodles and both girls (the new friends) make noodle poodles. I haven't had anyone ever (successfully!) make a noodle poodle, but we make a unique creation with a variety of noodle shapes. They have fun and it gives them something to bring home on the first day.
3) This is a little decoration that I made for the door. I don't have this one ready to be shared. I still need to add credits to the file and then I'll list it as a free or paid product. I wanted a silver background (like a baking sheet) and thought wrapping paper would work better than aluminum foil. The good news is that it went over the door very easily. I just had to tape it to the top and let the roll gently down. I then used double sided tape to underneath. You can see a seam to the right. The roll of wrapping paper basically only covered the left side (I had a little leftover, but not enough to finish the door) so I had to buy a 2nd roll. My husband bought the 1st roll (from Wal-Mart) and I was shocked to see that this fancy Hallmark paper cost nearly $6. So, 2 rolls was a bit pricey! I do have leftovers that I can use for wrapping. I even thought about salvaging the paper and doing some other cookie themed doors (Christmas cookies, etc.) but I used double sided tape to attach the pictures so they are not moving at all. That is why the lettering in the middle isn't centered - there was no way to get it to budge without tearing the paper. Live and learn! :)
4) An apple for the parent - The poem is a TPT freebie by Bethany Miller. The adorable ribbon is from Wal-Mart (surprise! it's the only big store that is really close) and it only cost $1 a roll. You'll probably need 2-3 rolls. I left this on the desks for Parent Orientation meetings. 

5) Picture props! I made a poster for my 1st graders to hold on the 1st day and then emailed the parents a copy. They really enjoyed it. This makes a special memory for the parents. I made them for preschool and PK-5th grade. It's a free download here at TPT. 

Well, that's all for now! I'm off to enjoy some family time on our holiday weekend. Enjoy your day!
~Melissa


Friday, August 15, 2014

National Lemonade Day ~ August 20th *Freebies, charity & entrepreneurs

Nothing says summer like a refreshing glass of lemonade! So, why is this day celebrated as my summer is ending and I am going back to school? Cruel irony!

Actually, National Lemonade Day isn't about the drink. It's about kid entrepreneurs. There is a website, lemondadeday.org, that will help you learn more. Here is how they define this holiday: Simply put, Lemonade Day is about providing kids of all ages the opportunity to EXPERIENCE entrepreneurship by planning, starting, owning, and operating their own business:  a lemonade stand!
Another important organization to recognize on this day is Alex's Lemonade Stand. Alex Scott battled cancer throughout her short life. Not long after she turned 4, Alex voiced the desire to start a lemonade stand to raise money to help other kids who are sick. She had this thought as she was in the hospital courageously fighting her own battle with cancer. Later that year, she did have a lemonade stand and earned the first 2,000 for this cause. She lost her battle with cancer when she was only 8 years old. Word had spread about her lemonade stand and many had contributed. Children around the world were starting their own lemonade stands to raise money. By that time, her little lemonade stand and those of others around the world, had raised over 1 million to help find a cure for childhood cancer! ALSF (Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation) has chosen to celebrate National Lemonade Days in June and thousands of events and lemonade stands have fundraising during those days. You can have a lemonade stand anytime and support this effort. Just check out all the resources on their page and register the dates for your lemonade stand. You can watch a video of Alex's story here or click on the picture above to purchase the book from the gift shop. Here are some really cute free printables to host your own lemonade stand to donate to ALSF. If you love all things lemon, you may want to follow this Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation pinterest board, which is full of yummy looking recipes.
As you head back to the classroom, you might be interested in these refreshing lemonade freebies!
1) Read and Sequence worksheet for making lemonade by Snippet's by Sarah
I love Sarah's creations and use her monthly centers every day in my 1st grade classroom. I'm always delighted to find a freebie by her! This one has super cute clipart by Creative Clips, too. :) You can download this worksheet for free at Sarah's blog. While your there, follow her blog and even leave a comment to let her know you appreciate the free page.
2) Lemonade Time Scoot by Mrs. Humphries Class
My class has so much fun with Scoot games (I have several of them in my TPT store) and this game has time to the hour and half hour which will be a perfect review for my firsties at the beginning of the year. Score!! Thank you, for this great freebie Mrs. Humphries! The clocks in the middle of the lemons are super cute. :)
3) The Lemonade Stand, a thematic reading mini unit by Creative to the Core
Wow! This is a wonderful freebie! It has a list of books about lemonade stands, 3 graphic organizers, writing stationary, a writing booklet and comprehension questions.
4) Lemonade Math Centers by Buggy for Learning
This one is geared more towards second grade, but there are some things I can use with my first graders now or I could save it for the end of the year when I could use the whole pack as review activities.
5) Lemonade Graphing by Brooke Eagerton
This pack was made to go with the book Lemonade for Sale by Stuart Murphy. There are a few colorful graphs that correlate with the book and then some task cards. It's great to find some free graphing activities!
6) Lemonade Digital Papers by Ashley Hughes
If you're looking for some bright and sunny digital papers then don't miss this freebie by Ashley!

Coming soon....
Enjoy your weekend! Don't forget to drink lemonade next week - you have the perfect excuse! :)


Thursday, August 14, 2014

Cooking up a Great Year ~ 2 Giveaways & Tips for School Lunches

Carla at Comprehension Connection has brought together 25 teachers to serve up some ideas for a great year! This blog hop is full of food related freebies, book reviews and giveaways!

Since this blog hop has a food focus, it makes sense for me to write about food today!! :) It just so happens that this is something that I need to focus on. I have such a hard time keeping up with meals during the school year. It's especially hard to make healthy choices when I am so busy! I'm trying to get organized to make better choices this year.
For breakfast, I will eat a veggie "omelet" that is cooked in this ceramic cooker that I LOVE (check etsy for something similar), fruit & yogurt, an Erin Baker cookie OR Special K cereal.
Many nights I work late, so I don't have much (if any) time to prepare anything when I get home. One day a week, we have to come home early from school so we can get the boys to church choir that night. So, for that night we always pick up a pizza. My boys aren't really into sports that much, but we've tried to encourage them to join a team. So, if there is soccer or basketball (or both!) on the schedule this year that takes a good deal of planning. Plus, there is usually about 1 day a month where there is a special evening event at school (reading night, fundraising auction, BBQ, etc.) and the teacher events of report card prep and/or conferences that will often keep me at school late. So, you can see the trouble with preparing dinner. I've already shared about the menu board (with QR codes) that I made earlier this summer. Hopefully that will make a difference with dinner time during the school year.

After dinner it's time to make lunch for the next day. The Smart Ones frozen meals (usually the ziti marinara one) have been my stand-by for the last several years. They're easy, but I'm tired of them and would like to try to have more filling & nutritious choices. I'm hoping to make lunches for the whole week and have them mostly put together on Sunday night. I will make the same thing and just have it every day for that week.

Here is MY PLAN for healthy lunches this year!

Step 1: Stock up on containers. You'll need divided containers, deep containers for salads, little containers for sauces, etc. I was so happy to find this little pack of sauce cups at Target for a good price (about $2). I've bought the huge pack from Costco before, but this little pack is just right.

**Ignore the Babycakes! That is not part of the health plan. :) My son wanted that to make mini doughnuts so I gave it to him on his birthday (April) and he still hasn't made any doughnuts. I think I'll remind him about it tomorrow. :) 
Step 2: Find a cute lunch bag. I love this one from Bed, Bath & Beyond. It's big enough to fit some of those containers. :)
Step 3: Prepare for the week. This is where I fall apart. I'll buy in bulk with every intention of making a bunch of meals. Then I completely run out of time. Sometimes, the result is throwing away food in bulk! I just really need to make this happen this year. I don't even mind if it is the same meal each day for a week. I might even throw in 1 or 2 extra lunches for times when I'm not able to eat the family meal (pizza night or a night that I'm working late).

Lunch Ideas:

I'm trying to go low carb, so these ideas will focus on limited carbs. I'm also just including things that I like. :)

Veggies ~
*carrots - I find them boring, but I can handle the crinkle cut ones
*celery sticks
*cherry tomatoes
*sliced peppers
*green beans
*small red potatoes - You can make a bunch of these at once - directions here. I'm going to see if I like them cold.
*edamame - this steamable bag from Pict Sweet is my fave. The salt from the pod gets on your fingers as you eat them so you have a slightly salty snack. I'm going to try to steam a bag at the beginning of the week and try eating them cold with lunches during the week.
*microwavable veggie cups - by the canned foods
*single serving frozen vegetables
*Israeli salad - the basic idea of this is a chopped cucumber salad with a little olive oil and lemon juice. I add a bit more! I don't usually measure anything, but here is the basic recipe that I use: 2 large cucumbers (or 3-4 small ones), 1 red pepper, 1 green pepper, 1 orange pepper, l lemon squeezed over veggies, 1/4 cup extra light olive oil & a sprinkling of salt (I use a sea salt grinder for a coarsely ground salt). Mix together.
*green beans

Fruits ~
*berries
*grapes
*sliced oranges (I like to slice them so they are circles - they're easy to peel that way)
*sliced apples
*fruit cups
*grapefruit (I like the big jar of grapefruit - then I can scoop some out)
*watermelon
Other snacks ~
*laughing cow light cheese wedges
*popcorn
*cottage cheese
*treats - try using the portion cups to keep a small treat in your classroom. Perfect for when you need just a bit of sugar or chocolate to make it through the day! :)

Lunch ideas ~
*grilled chicken with a red potato or other veggies (if you're out of time, use rotisserie chicken)
*omelette - I've thought about buying another egg cooker to keep at school. That way I could make egg beater omelettes in just a few minutes. I like to add chopped peppers and a little bit of pepper jack cheese.
*taco in a lettuce leaf - leftover taco meat can be used to make yummy taco wraps
*sandwich meat & cheese in a lettuce leaf ~ just put some meat and cheese on a lettuce leaf and add some pickles. Wrap it up for a tasty lunch.
*Quinoa & Kale Chicken Patties (from Costco) - That is what is hiding under the Pepperjack cheese in the photo above. It is really tasty, but rich so a little goes a long way. I thought it was perfect wrapped in lettuce. I would even skip the cheese -the chicken patty has so much flavor.
*Onion, red pepper & zucchini frittata 

Salads ~
*add grilled chicken
*add peperoncini
*add mixed veggies
*put your salad in a piece of pita bread for a treat
*Oriental: Add sliced almonds, green onions, mandarin oranges (those little snack packs work great!) and water chestnuts. Use Panera Poppyseed dressing ~ you can find it at Target. Serve with grilled chicken. I was eating this at home, so I just put it in one dish. For a school lunch, I would put the toppings and chicken on the side so the lettuce doesn't start to wilt. This was delicious!
*Greek: Add artichoke hearts, kalamata olives, tomato, red onions & a small amount of feta cheese. Mix a little olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper to make a dressing.
*Mediterranean Steak Salad - Delicious!

I've started a pinterest board for Healthy Lunch Ideas. Follow the board to find even more healthy lunch ideas!

Here's your chance to win! The blog hop contributors went together to offer some great prizes. You can win an adorable apron or a gift card! Enter the giveaway below and then scroll down just a bit more to enter a giveaway from me!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Do you teach nutrition in your classroom? If so, check out the nutrition and My Plate resources in my store.
*Enter to win the Food Group Sort - Just leave a comment and go to the 2nd rafflecopter giveaway and click enter! :)* 3 winners will be chosen. 
a Rafflecopter giveaway
This blog hop is full of recipes, teaching ideas and giveaways. Make sure you keep hopping! BTW, if you see our posts about the giveaway on facebook, please let us know that you entered. :)  That will keep up encouraged to do more of these! TIA! The next stop is Emily at the Reading Tutor/OG. Click on the chef hat below to see what she has in store for you!
If you're stuck on the blog hop, you can always return to Carla's page to go to another blog. Just click on the image below:



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