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My Future's So Bright, I Have to Wear Shades Craftivity {FREEBIE}

Are you looking for a fun way to spruce up your bare bulletin boards at the beginning of the year?  At the beginning of the year, it's essential to set a positive tone, right away.  I love to do that in many ways.  One of my favorite ways is to take a photo of kiddos on the very first day and do this fun craftivity.  Who doesn't love a photo?

We have Back to School Night on the 3rd day of school so this is always a crowd pleaser for the parents!

Quick Tip #1: Hang up a rug or a blanket as your backdrop.  This sign is from my End of the Year Bundle.

How to Use this Craft:
-Take a 4x6 photo of each kiddo (color photos look best, but black and white is fun with colored sunglasses)
-Print out the colored sunglasses
-Let students pick their glasses and glue onto the photo
-Pass out the writing paper (there are 2 different line options to choose from)
-Have students write a goal or two that they have for the year
-Glue the photo and writing onto bright paper for a POP of color

Quick Tip #2:
If I have time, I love to have a little gift for my kiddos on the first day.  It lets them know I care about them and am excited for the upcoming year.  This by no means is necessary.  I bought a 6 pack of neon sunglasses at the 99cent store for just 99 cents.  What a deal!  I added this little {freebie} tag to them and passed them out at the end of the day.  Our class looked pretty awesome walking to pick up with our neon shades on!

I hope your kiddos have as much fun with the creativity as mine do!
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Quick Tutorial: How to Match your Text Coloring to Clip Art

I use to have the hardest time trying to match my text to my clip art.  I'd do my best to eye ball it and get it to match, but it was never exact.  Marcy from Saddle up for Second helped me solve this problem last year and can I just say, #gamechanger

I use Power Point 2011 on my Mac.  Here's a quick tutorial to show you how to match your colors!

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Books Bloggers Love: Back to School

I've teamed up with 11 other teachers to bring you a monthly link up of some of our favorite books.  This month, we're sharing our favorite Back to School Books that we hope you can use in your classroom.  Each month on the 15th, we'll be sharing some of our fave books and giving away 4 copies as well.  How awesome is that?!?!
I remember during my teacher credential program {Go State} that one of my favorite professors would model a Read Aloud during each class.  I absolutely thought First Day Jitters was hilarious because the ending was such a surprise!

{I'm part of the Amazon affiliates program where I earn a small amount from our purchase}

For the last nine years, I've always read this to my kiddos within the first hour of our first day together.  I know they must be as nervous as myself and this book is a perfect icebreaker.  

Basically, it's about Sarah Jane Hartwell's first day of school at her brand new school.  She's so dang nervous and comes up with every excuse to avoid the first day.  I can relate, starting a new school is scary.  In the end, the reader finds out that Sarah Jane isn't a student, but the new teacher!  The kids get a huge laugh out of it because they assumed {I was guilty}it was about a little girl.  

This is the perfect time to talk about how the class was feeling this morning while they were getting ready.  It's a great icebreaker and lets you get to know your kiddos a little more.  Plus, it's perfect to begin modeling some comprehension skills such as making connections, asking questions, and making predictions
If you've followed me for sometime, you know that I've taught at several schools, so I've had many first days in new schools.

Here are a few ideas you can use with this book:
Slideshow {great discussion questions}
Ideas to ease first day jitters
First Day Jitters response freebie

I love this book so much that I also purchased the End of the Year related story with Mrs. Hartwell's Class!
Each month, we'll be giving away 4 of our favorite books so make sure to enter below.
Want to read about some other great Back to School books?  Click below!
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Did you miss out on Vegas? Don't worry, we have a TON of prizes for you!

I know so many of you were having HUGE FOMO {fear of missing out} while many of us teacher authors were at the Teachers Pay Teachers Conference in Las Vegas the last few days.  Don't worry, we got your covered!  We teamed up with some of our favorite companies to bring you some amazing prizes as well!  Head on over the The Primary Pack to enter!

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Are Tieks Ballet Flats Worth the Price on a Teacher Budget?

I wanted to write an honest post about these flats because I know so many of us teachers have been on the hunt for shoes we can teach in all day, with little luck.  
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I have been searching for years for perfect teacher shoes, if that's such a thing!  We are on our feet all day, so comfortable shoes are a MUST! The problem that I've found is that the comfortable shoes aren't very cute.

I asked around and everyone kept saying how great Tieks by Gavrieli, the most versatile flats in the world, were.  I fell in love with all of the colors immediately, until I saw the price tag.  I was on a teacher budget and rarely spent more than fifty bucks on a pair of shoes, let alone almost 200.00 on a pair that I couldn't even try on.  But Oprah said their worth it, so what the heck!  

I was hesitant because I really wanted to try the shoes on first before I purchased something that was out of my price range.  I received some birthday money and decided that I was going to splurge.  I loved all of the colors but decided to go with matte black, since I could wear them with everything.  Safe.
teaching, teacher shoes, tikes by gavrieli, easy teaching tools, 2nd grade, elementary school, teaching
Can I just say that I have never experienced customer service like this before.  I received a personal e mail as soon as my flats were shipped.  I loved that I got my new flats within a week from my order, love that!  I'd read reviews from fashion bloggers about the personalized note that came with every order and was so excited when I received my very own.  Something about a handwritten letter just makes things that much more special.
teaching, teacher shoes, tikes by gavrieli, easy teaching tools, 2nd grade, elementary school, teaching
 My flats came in a gorgeous turquoise box with a bright, happy flower.  I love that they pay attention to every.single.detail.
teaching, teacher shoes, tikes by gavrieli, easy teaching tools, 2nd grade, elementary school, teaching
The box came with the flats all wrapped up, a note, a black bag to keep the flats in when you're changing to heels, and a foldable turquoise tote.  I'm still not sure how the black bag works to store my Tieks but use the tote to carry my dirty clothes when I leave barre class.

I had such high expectations because I just spent a lot of money on them.  I wanted to feel like Cinderella when the glass slipper fit.  I was a bit disappointed because they felt tight and I wasn't sure if they'd loosen up or not.  I wear a 7 1/2 and have wider feet, but it was suggested to go a size down.  I wore them around the carpet for a few days to loosen them up, but no luck.  I emailed customer service and they were amazing.  They sent a size 8 the next day, on them!  They wanted me to try them out and see which size fit best.  They even included return postage and box for the pair that didn't work out.  I have never heard of a company doing that before and was blown away.

After that, I was sold.  I wore my flats for a few days around the house to wear them in a bit.  Once school started, I wore them nearly every day.  I have a bad back and no carpet in my classroom, so I wasn't sure how these would hold up.  I can assure you that these flats are worth the price!  After being on my feet for 12 hours, these didn't give up.  These flats let me teach all day, run to the restroom at recess, head across campus to an IEP, walk my kiddos to the library and science lab, and have recess duty.  Not only did keep me on my feet, they looked cute while doing it!
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Then, I was brave and left my running shoes in the closet and chose to wear them on our field trip to Legoland.  Friends, that's how much I trusted these flats.  In the past, I would never, every wear anything but running shoes on a field trip because nothing else could compare.  These babies let me run around the park with my little group of ecstatic kiddos.

After that, I was SOLD!  At Christmas, I got the fuchsia pair because I loved the pop of color.  Plus, pink is my absolute favorite!
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This spring, I splurged and got the sassy leopard ones.  I love that they can dress up a casual Friday outfit.
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 I'm so in love with them and stand behind this company.  It's time that teachers can finally wear a comfy, and super adorable shoe.  They can dress up any outfit for parent conferences, meetings, and school assemblies.  They are also perfect on casual days, too! How fun is this mustard color!
teaching, teacher shoes, tikes by gavrieli, easy teaching tools, 2nd grade, elementary school, teaching

I asked some of my followers what they'd like to know about Tieks over on my Instagram.  I know during my comfy shoe search, it would've been helpful to read a review from an actual teacher and hope you find this info beneficial!

Teacher Questions

1. Do you normally have to break them in? 
It takes a few days to break them in, that's normal so don't worry.

2. Do they feel comfortable right away? 
They don't feel perfect right away, but they will,  promise! Now that I'm on my 4th pair, I don't have to break them in anymore because my feet know what to expect!

3. Do your feet sweat in them?
I didn't know that my feet sweat until these shoes.  If your feet do sweat, put a little deodorant on the bottom of them and use foot spray weekly.

4. What if they break?
A string was loose in my first pair and I wasn't sure what to do.  I e mailed customer service and they paid for me to ship them back.  They fixed them right away, shipped them back (free), and sent a gift card as an apology.  Apology accepted.

5. Would you recommend teaching in them?
I one million percent recommend teaching in them.  I wore them almost every day last year.  That's almost 180 days with 10-12 hour days.  You know we're moving around all day and sitting is unlikely.  These flats can handle how much we're running around!

6. Are they true to size?
I think they're fairly true to size, but I'm no expert.  When I wasn't sure, they sent me another pair to compare.  You've got nothing to lose!

7. Do they stretch?
I think they stretch a tiny bit.

8. How often do you wear them?
I wear them almost every day.  They are my go-to flats for school and out and about on the weekends.  Plus, they get compliments all the time!  And I feel fancy and hip when I wear them!

9. Are they really comfortable or just adorable?
They are both, honest.

10. Are they safe around students?
I was seriously nervous to bring something so fancy into the classroom.  But to be honest, they've stayed clean, the kiddos don't step on them too often {although my heart flutters when they do}, and I haven't spilled any paint on them...yet!  If you do get them dirty, just wipe off the offending mark with a wet towel.

Bottom Line
They are that comfy and cute
You'll want to wear them daily
They are flexible yet very sturdy
The turquoise bottom make you feel fancy
They look more professional than other flats
They ARE worth the price and more
You deserve to be comfortable, your back will thank you
Customer service is top notch
Free shipping in the U.S.
It's not that expensive when you see how often you'll wear them
Once you get your first pair, you'll be hooked and will wear nothing else, promise
You are worth it

You can teach a lesson on long vowels, have recess duty, chase down a parent who forgot to sign a permission slip, review double digit addition with regrouping, do a directed drawing lesson on the butterfly life cycle, have crosswalk duty, run your kids to soccer practice, and cook dinner...in your Tieks

I can't wait to hear how much you love your #tieks  Share them with me here or on Instagram at #teacherslovetieks
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Are you feeling pressure by the teacher blogging community?

I love the teacher blogger community, but sometimes, I feel a lot of pressure to keep up.  This summer, I just want to relax, play at the beach, stay up late and sleep in until I feel like I'm ready to start the day.
Are you feeling pressure by all of the posts of teachers working over summer like I am?  Are you a blogger who wants a break? I posted about this topic over at the Primary Pack.  Join me in a challenge to find balance and live in the moment. I'm posting this photo on Instagram and will only be posting photos that aren't teaching related for the next week (or more)! 

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Summer Stock Up: Are Math Centers Just Busy Work?

I'm participating in The Primary Gal's annual Summer Stock Up party and wanted to share with you a bit about math centers.  Let me ask you, do you think math centers are just busy work?

I don't and I want to share with you why! In my class, math centers are a class favorite for many reasons.  Sadly, some administrators or teachers may look at games as just a filler to give teachers time to do something while the students are entertained for 20 minutes.  Some have said it's busy work or that they aren't meaningful.  But in my class, math centers are purposeful, engaging, and fun.  Let me show you!

I've got a few tips for those of you who want to implement math centers and games, but aren't sure where to start.  You can see a previous post I did on how to set them up, here.  

Tip 1: Find a storage unit that works best for you and students can access easily.  

Tip 2: If you have a bookshelf for your math station area, use baskets for storage.

Tip 3: Below is what my math station looks like.  I was lucky to have a book shelf in my room so I used the baskets pictured above and a shoe organizer to store all of our materials.

If you look on top of the shelf, I have one basket that has addition and subtraction games inside.  This is a yearlong standard in my district so I want to make sure that students have access to these games all year. 
I have another basket that has games that relate to the unit of study at the moment.  I use both of these baskets for different purposes, depending on the lesson's objective.

Tip 4: Now that we've got them set up, let's explore how they can be used.  I have used math centers all sorts of ways over the years.  In my class this year, my early finishers love going to the math centers area and picking a game that interests them, which leads to engagement! If I want them to get extra practice with a skill that we're working through, then they can only choose games from the Units of Study basket.  Sometimes I leave both baskets out, or I'll pick one or the other, depending on the objective.

Tip 5: Not only are math centers great for early finishers, they should also be used like you might do with literacy rotations.  In our class, we have math center rotations once a week.  This is the time I'll choose 5 math centers, 1 for each table group.  If we're working on time for example, once center will  focus on a standard related to time that we've previously covered.  I like to use the centers as reinforcement practice so that my students can work independently.
Since our year long standard is adding and subtracting, I'll always throw in one or two centers to make sure students are exposed frequently.

We have our technology center where students work on many things, depending on the objective.  We used Ten Marks last year which was great because I could assign problems based on the standards we were working through.  It gave me immediate data which helped me see who needed extra support or challenges.

Last Tip: I'm also a HUGE fan of no prep. games that are simple to set up and easy for students to use.  During this center, kiddos rolled a dice and spun a spinner to come up with a sum.  Super simple and can be differentiated in a million ways!  Get creative!

If you're interested in math centers, check them out individually or invest in the entire bundle!

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Treat yourself with a 260.00 shopping SPREE to TARGET

I am so excited to bring you a fabulous giveaway from some of your favorite teacher bloggers. We are giving away TWO prizes! A $260 Target Gift Card and a TPT bundle valued at almost $100! Please see the rafflecopter below for how to enter. Best of luck!

Teach. Inspire. Change.


Our TPT Bundle includes the following items (all valued at almost $100!)

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