The 30th Giveaway hosted by Ramona Recommends

I'm participating in a Giveaway with some amazing, like seriously impressive bloggers.  I'm honored that Courtney over at Ramona Recommends asked me to be party of it.  We were lucky enough to work together for a few years in Orange County and reconnected thanks to Instagram.

To say thank you, Courtney has invited her TOP 30 favorite sellers on Teachers Pay Teachers to share in her birthday excitement. A HUGE thank you goes out to all 30 sellers. Thank you from the bottom of Courtney's heart for making her 30th birthday celebration ROCKIN! I am so excited to introduce who the "birthday presents" will be from...
Every time I look at this picture, I get excited. So! I hope you are too. Here is how the giveaway will work. It will start bright and early Monday, April 21st and go through Friday, April 25th at 11:59pm Please make sure to read this section as there are a few ground rules to enter. Because this is a huge giveaway, I broke down the presents into three groups. You may enter all 3 giveaways. Please do what is asked of you to enter. I know it can be a little daunting if there are 10003 (or 30) tasks for one giveaway; that is why I made 3 different giveaways. I just ask as a gift to me you follow the rules. I want my Top 30 sellers to get love as well. ***If you enter all three giveaways, you only need to do Ramona Recommends stuff once.***The 3 Winners will be announced and emailed that weekend (possibly Monday). Those three winners will receive emails from the donors with the birthday present they won. For example: If Rita Book entered Birthday Present 1 and WON, she would get all those treats only. So! I suggest entering all 3. You never know you; could win all three! :)
 Inside Birthday Present #1

 Inside Birthday Present #2
 Inside Birthday Present #3

Thank you so much for coming to Courtney's birthday party {aka 30th birthday giveaway}. It was a pleasure to be your hostess. Go check out these amazing seller's blogs and Teachers Pay Teachers stores! 

Earth Day and a Freebie

I loved celebrating Earth Day this year with my kiddos and included a lot of activities during Literacy Workshop.  Last week, we read several books about being green and even watched a few Discovery Education videos on the topic.  I mentioned that we would be celebrating Earth Day on the 22nd and one of my cuties said "It should be Earth Day, every day!"  Bless his little heart.
Living at the beach, it's especially important to teach my littles the importance of taking care of the Earth.  Driving home today, the guy in front of me kept throwing his trash out of his window.  It was driving me insane.  I have been known to pick up people's cigarette butts after they toss them on the ground and hand them back to them {luckily I haven't been smacked...yet}!

I snagged these cutie patootie flip books {free} from my fellow So Cal Blogger Lauren and added to one of our centers for the week! 

We also used several of Katie King's Busy Teacher April Edition for Earth Day writing during centers.

My firsties worked on this adorable Missing Addend activity.  It was a great reminder that my kiddos need more practice with problems where the sum is first rather than last.

My most favorite activity was this adorable craftivity that I've hung up in time for Open House.  I love tear art because it's so easy.  It gave me times to have my 1st graders take their end of the year test while my 2nd graders did this project independently.

I made this little sign to hang up with their art.  Snag yours for free!
Border by Krista Walden and Clip Art by Graphics from the Pond
Feel free to use some of these this year or save them away for next year.  How did your class celebrate?

Writing Process {Drafting} Made a Little Easier

I love teaching the Writing Process and I discovered a little tip a few years ago that really helped me keep my sanity once I started implementing it.  Copying writing from their draft to their final paper was a bit tricky, especially for my lower guys and EL friends.  They didn't always know what they were suppose to copy, especially if there were many errors that we fixed when we revised and edited it together.  So here you go, a tip that according to my Instagram followers, is a life saver!!!
As we're conferencing, I highlight exactly what they need to copy.  It helps my strugglers stay focused and my short-attention span friends stay on task just a bit longer.  Plus, they love how the lines go up and down because "it looks like a roller coaster!'  

You can snag this Drafting paper freebie and use it with your little scholars.  I also put extra space in between each line so there's more room for revising and editing marks.

Dinosaurs, Easter Centers, and Getting my Life Back...Oh My!

It's Friday and I should be at a Padres vs. Giants game in San Diego, but I cancelled last minute because this week really wore me out.  So instead...I'm spending a Friday night eating Lucky Charms, watching Pretty Little Liars, and catching up on this much neglected little blog for Doodle Bugs weekly linky party.

These last few weeks are flying by and with Open House just around the corner, we are crazy busy in class!  This is my first year teaching 2nd grade so we are loving learning about fossils...and dinosaurs!!!
I swear, this resource from Kristen Smith has been a blessing!
It's insanely jam-packed with writing resources, a ton of research ideas, great centers, fun activities, and so much more!  One thing Common Core wants 2nd graders to focus on is research.  I printed out dinosaur pages from Enchanted Learning and let my students choose which dinosaur they wanted to study.  Letting them choose gives them some ownership and they were so  excited to start learning more!
I showed my kiddos how to find interesting facts using the books I purchased.  We talked about what would make an interesting fact.  I laid out all of my dino books {thank you Scholastic and Dollar Tree} and let the kiddos have at it.  I also showed them how to use the internet to research as well.  With our new Chromebooks from Donors Choose, it was easy breezy.
These little loves seriously made me feel like a proud momma bear.  They were independent, super engaged, and didn't want to stop when we had to transition to another activity.  They were

Another insanely fun activity was creating fossils using flour, salt, water, and some toy dinosaurs.

This was a first for me so I have a few tips.  Don't multitask, or you'll end up burning the dough.  I'm notorious for burning almost everything I cook.  It's so bad that my Mister jokes that the fire alarm is my timer.  Well...keep an eye on the microwave so you don't end up with a charred one like the one down below!
They had the best time and it was perfect for a little mini-lesson on using adjectives to describe the dough.  Plus, their writing after this messy little activity was the best they'd ever done.  They all wrote at least 3 pages, which is normally like pulling teeth.  They were so proud of themselves!

Testing, testing, and more testing!  My kiddos rocked it though!  Testing two different grades is a bit crazy though.  It made it all worth it when one of my little strugglers thanked me for getting him ready for 3rd grade. It was the most confident he's been all year.  
We've has a ton of fun with our Spring activities this entire month.  Here's a peek at what we've been up to!
These little directed drawings and watercolors turned our darling.  On the back is their creative writing.

I've loved my busy week with my little friends this week, but the best thing was getting the go-ahead from my doctor to start "working out" again.  I hurt myself pretty bad 18 months ago from a bootcamp workout.  There were a bazillion complications, lots of physical therapy, injections, procedures, and chronic pain.  Needless to say, it's been a rough year-and-a-half.  I was incredibly active before, worked out 5 days a week, went on gorgeous hiked, and loved to surf.  I had a great social life and tons on energy before the accident.  I can't wait to get my life back and feel like a normal person again.  And even surgery!!!
I'm still in pain, but was happy to be able to walk  1 1/2 miles.  It doesn't sound like a big deal, especially because I was an avid runner.  But it was a huge milestone for me.  I took in the salt air with a fully and happy heart last weekend and can't wait to do the same this weekend!

How To Organize a Combo Class

I was lucky enough to be a guest blogger for Jen while she went and got herself married!

 I've had a few requests about teaching a combo/split class.  This is the first of several posts I'll be doing on organizing, managing, and teaching such a unique class.

Bless your heart for taking on the role as a combo teacher...or big hugs to you if you were the "lucky" one chosen!  I promise that you'll get through it with some organizational tips I've learned over the last year of teaching a 1/2 combo.  Like any class, teaching a combo is a bit of trial-and-error.  The first few months, I'd try something and if I didn't love it or it wasn't working well, I'd abandon it and try something else.  You've got to be ridiculously flexible!
1st day of school photo props {glasses and grade}  I took photos of each student with their grade and used it for their first day of school photo, that's also hanging under their student work.

Organizing Your Room
  • If you number your kiddos, number it like you would a straight class.  I number my kids 1-24 to make life simpler when we line up and everything else we do with numbers.  I don't separate my first and second graders.
This is our job pocket chart using our numbers
Here is our writing wall, with everyone in number order and using our first day of school photos I mentioned above.  The writing is differentiated, but that will be for another blog post!
  • Other teacher friends suggested putting my 6 firsties at one table and the rest of my 2nd graders at other tables.  This was a complete nightmare because my firsties had very strong personalities and struggled working together.  It has worked best to spread everyone out!  It also provides for an opportunity to create an environment where everyone is one unit, rather than two.
    A view of my classroom.  Love putting my kiddos in groups.
Color code everything...seriously.  All 1st grade work is green and 2nd grade work is in blue.  This goes for our daily schedule, sight words on our Word Wall, center work, and so much more!  Trust me, you will want to separate everything.  I tried to make one schedule and one plan book and that was not all!
1st grade daily schedule
2nd grade daily schedule
Once I discovered that I desperately needed 2 daily schedule sets, I created some and put them up  in my TpT store.  They have helped me stay organized and on track!

This isn't the most glamorous photo but this is a snapshot of our math board.  I used the photo props from the 1st day of school to organize the board.  I used Corinna's "I Can" statements for 1st and 2nd grade.  If I could do it over, I'd color-code those as well, but I ran out of copy paper.
I have 5 center boxes that my students rotate through, throughout the week.  Since my 1st and 2nd graders sit at the same table, I have to organize each box with these file folders.  They're nothing fancy, but they've worked well all year!  The green sticker is for 1st and the blue is for 2nd.  Are you sensing a theme yet? The other sticker means that all students will work on the same activity.  I swear that this format has saved centers for me in a combo class.  It takes a lot of management in the beginning as you set your expectations and routines, but it's so worth it!

  • Have 2 plan books.  You'll thank me later, promise! I tried one plan book for about a month and just simply wasn't working.  I couldn't fit everything in and it was just too darn confusing.  I also created my own lesson plan template to help my sanity!

Color coded of course!
Here's a copy of the template I created.  I don't love using the teacher planners from the Teacher Store because I you have to input the same schedule week-after-week.  Ain't nobody got time for that!!!  This is a 1st grade schedule so where it says 1st, I put the lesson for 1st grade.  Where it says 2nd, I input what my firsties will be doing while I'm working with 2nd grade. 
This is the table at the front of my room where I keep my TEs for both grades.   You can see 1st grade is on the left and 2nd is on the right.  Holy cow, I thought keeping one set of TEs was enough work, keeping two is another level of crazy organization!
  • I'm big on making sure my class feels like a unit, but it's also important to separate some things.  My 1st and 2nd graders each have a bulletin board where our Science and Social Studies happens!

I make sure to post the Standards to differentiate between the two grades.  It also helps when admin and parents are in my class.  And let me tell you, Principals love seeing this kind of stuff.   You can grab these posters here!
You can grab a peek at my classroom transformation here to see what it looked like before my kiddos entered!  I hope sweet friends that some of these tips help you get started on setting up your classroom.
Make sure to follow my blog to discover how I manage a combo class and learn how I grade work, deal with classroom management, grade books, and more!. 

If you've taught a combo, what were your challenges?