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So Cal End of the Year Link Up {FREEBIES}

I'm so happy to be hosting the So Cal Blogger link up with some of my friends from all over Southern California!

The best thing about this little blogging community is that I've met some honest-to-goodness genuine friends over the last couple of years.  You can see some of our meet ups, here, here, and here!  I hosted one last weekend in Carlsbad and it was great seeing old and new friends!
Jen fron Sparkling in Second, Beth from A Kindergarten Life for Me, Courtney from Ramona Recommends, and myself.

The goodie bags were filled with So Cal swag and info from Sheila Jane Teaching.  If you love all of the graphics, make sure to check out Nikki of Meloheadz.  Her work is amazing and her cute little bobble head friends make me so happy!

Do you recognize some of your favorite So Cal bloggers?

How lucky is Holly from Research and Play?  She won a 50.00 gift card to Melonheadz's store!

When I'm not doing "teacher stuff," I spend as much time at the beach as possible.  
 I love walking my dog down to the beach, especially at sunset.
 Before a back injury, I would surf all the time.  This is a photo of me last summer waiting for a set.

 The weather is pretty awesome here in Orange County and San Diego, so I love to spend my time outdoors with friends.
 Brunch is another big thing here.  Champagne brunch is even better!
 When I worked in Laguna, my dad and I would go out to lunch at the Rooftop, which is literally rooftop dining on the water.
Does this not look like a beach out of a movie?!?!
 When we're not hiking, surfing, and playing at the beach, we love to paddle board in Mission Bay.
It's not all about the beach though in So Cal, we even have a dessert.  Weekend trips to Palm Desert are a must for shopping, tanning, and relaxing.  Seeing these dinosaurs are always a plus!

Thanks for getting to know a bit more about life in sunny Southern California.  If you're ending the school year soon, you may like this End of the Year bundle full of everything you need for some much-needed and deserved fun!

end of the year awards, teacher, school, parent survey, photo prop. summer

This countdown sign is part of this bundle.  Grab a mini version by clicking the button below!

Want some more freebies from your favorite So Cal Bloggers?!?!
An InLinkz Link-up
If you follow me on Instagram, you know I'm obsessed with Tieks.  They are incredibly comfy {even after a long day of teaching} and are just the cutest.  Win yourself a gift card to treat yourself to a pair!

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Quick Tip for the End of the Year Craziness: Personal Supply Caddy

We've got 25 days left and I'm pulling out all of the stops to ensure that my little guys are doing their best to be on task, respectful, and responsible.  
I came up with a VIP Supply caddy for one of my Super Scholars.  I basically told my kids that I'm looking for someone who has shown respect, responsibility, and has been ready to learn the entire day.  That lucky friend will get the supply caddy on their desk for the ENTIRE next day.
"Can they share it with a friend?" they asked.  No.
"Can they share it with the whole table?" they asked.  No.
"Can they let me touch the supplies?" they asked. No. 
They were hooked knowing that it was theirs and theirs alone.  Brand new, fancy mechanical pencils, fresh crayons, their very own white board eraser, gel pens with sparkles, oh my!  If you want one of four color schemes and designs, head on over here to grab it!

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Teacher Appreciation and a Tieks Giveaway

Happy Teacher Appreciation Week! I'm so excited to be teaming up with the girls from The Primary Pack to bring you this fabulous Giveaway! We really want you to know how much we appreciate you and how amazing we think you are. Teachers are the most dedicated, hard-working people around, and we want to celebrate you! So we are each giving away a gift card to one of our favorite places to shop. But we didn't stop there! We are also giving away one big GRAND PRIZE on The Primary Pack blog!

Here on my blog, I am giving away one 25.00 gift card to my Teachers Pay Teachers Store.  You can grab a ton of ELA and Math Centers, craftivities, and Handwriting paper!

Enter below in the Rafflecopter to win! The giveaway will run through Sunday, May 10th.

And now, for the GRAND PRIZE!
If you follow me on Instagram, you know how much I love my Tieks.  They are incredibly comfy, which says a lot since I have a bad back and there is no carpet in my classroom.  They dress up or down any outfit.
 They are worth every penny, I promise!
 I've got black and fuchsia and have a gift card for another pair.  I'm thinking leopard or something bright!

Over at The Primary Pack, we are giving way a 250.00 gift card to Tieks! That's right, Tieks! The most COLORFUL, comfortable, Italian leather shoes around! We know how much money you have undoubtedly put into your classroom this year for resources and supplies--so this giveaway is all about a splurge just for you! For 250.00, you can even get a fancy pair! To enter, click HERE or click on the image below!
And don't forget to visit each of our blogs for chances to win even more great prizes!

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Is Parent Communication Really Necessary?

I've met several teachers along the way who simply don't communicate with parents, they just don't see that it's necessary.  Once I picked my jaw up off the floor and kept the comments in my head from coming out of my mouth, I went along my merry little way.  

If I can say one thing to any new teacher, it's that parent communication is the number one necessity for a successful year.  That is why I'm so happy that Ashley and Angie asked me to share about how I communicate with parents in my class.

 I'm a firm believer that it's essential to keep parents in the loop, heck, I wrote my entire Thesis on it and created a Family Literacy Handbook with ideas for parents to use at home!

There are a million things you can do to actively communicate with parents; but I want to share my favorites with you! Here are some things you can do keep parents aware of what's going on in the classroom:

E-mail List Collect parent e mails at the beginning of the year and create a contact list.  I e mail parents every week with our homework, important reminders, and what learning is taking place in our class.  Here's a copy of last week's Monday e mail.

Remind 101 This one way messaging service is a huge game changer!  I have parents sign up at Back to School night and I basically stalk ask them until they sign up!  I love that I can simply send messages to remind them to bring their library book, dress up for spirit day, and more!  Here's a sample from last year's class.  What I also love is that you can include photos {which parents who work love to receive during the day} and even schedule future messages.

Class Instagram This is my first year ditching the class blog and creating a class Instagram.  It is less maintenance and so easy to do.  Did I mention that my kids are in charge of it?  Parents love it because they get to see photos of the great things happening in our day.  My working parents especially love it because they can see that their little one is safe, having fun, and learning.  Read all about how you can set one up, here!

Parent Conference Packet It's key to build a positive relationship right from the start.  Since we hold conferences early in the year, I use it to get the know the families and share with them their child's progress. I send home a note to schedule a date and time, a questionnaire asking parents what they want to discuss {crucial to avoid and surprises}, and an assessment results form because parents want to see where their child is at and where they need to be!  I blogged about it earlier in the year over at the Primary Pack.

I hope you can use some of these tips in your class this year or simply store them away for your lucky friends next year!  I promise that some of these tips will not only make your life easier, but it really helps parents as well. I've had several parents thank me repeatedly for doing my best to reach out to them.  Most have said they've never experience this type of communication and they are so appreciative. 

I'd love to hear your thoughts on parent communication.  Link up or leave a comment!

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Shape Craft and Giveaway

How adorable is this little craftivity that we had fun creating?!?!  Read all about how we made them in time for Open House over at The Primary Pack.
easy teaching tools, geometry, the primary pack, shape craft, shapes, elementary school
Make sure to come back and win a copy as well as my Growing Math Bundle.

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What our day looks like in 2nd grade {Schedule Freebie}

I'm so glad to be linking up with my friends Ashley and Angie to share what our schedule looks like and how our day runs. 
I try to keep our schedule pretty consistent because it helps our class run smoothly. Every morning, students come in take out their journal and answer the prompt on the board. Sometimes, it's just a question, a story starter, or something where they have to show their understand of what we're doing in science, social studies, math, or grammar.  On Wednesdays, they do "Wednesday Whatever," and write about anything at all.

While kiddos are writing, I take attendance, answer any parent e mails, and all of that other morning business that's required. 
When the timer goes off, students are trained to put all materials down and share with their partner. I use my number shaker and call on 3 friends to share with the class, for a chance to earn the writing award. 
They put their journals away and look at our daily schedule. If I forget to change it, they'll definitely let me know. These schedule cards are so easy to use. I just laminated them and stuck a piece of maget from my magnetic roll.
This is an old photo, but I've updated my schedule cards that I use this year.  I use the turquoise ones {as seen below}.

Here's a sample of our entire day
We always do a Go Noodle brain break before we start Phonics. 

With Common Core, we are lacking curriculum from a publisher, so our district has created it and it's pretty good. Each week, students are introduced to a new sound and spelling for Phonics, as well as six sight words. We play different games each morning to reinforce the skill. They love ANYTHING from my HFW packets!

I come up with random ideas during lessons, so we use our whiteboards often. Kiddos keep their "whiteboard" materials at their desk for easy access.

We also work on Word Study at this time. To meet the needs of all of my friends, I've got 5 different Word Study groups.  I've been using this program from Kathy Ganske for 9 years and it's amazing. I love that everything is differentiated.

Time is a bit limited so we don't spend as much time with Shared Reading. I love using this Project GLAD process grid. It's a great visual to keep track of the skills we're learning.

Literacy Workshop, or Centers is my most favorite time of the day. It's organized chaos where so much learning is going on. I have 5 table groups, which means 5 centers for the ENTIRE week. The groups are heterogenous and I love that because they are responsible for their team. Each team has a container with their tasks and they work on it together.

I'm all about Balanced Literacy so the tasks look like this:
Here's a short video that shows how I organize the materials for the week.


When students are done with their work, they put it in the turn in basket according to their number. No more "There's no name, whose is this?"
You can find more Teacher Hacks, here!

Students know to complete any unfinished work and then choose a literacy box, which is like a may-do center and includes things from my "I'm Through, What to Do" resource. Administrators and other teachers are always so impressed how independent my kids are. I especially love that they never ask me what to do. It makes running reading groups so much easier. I never have to worry about what so and so is doing across the room.

When the timer goes off, students clean up automatically. I walk over to our Literacy Workshop area and I let the team who cleaned up the best, walk to lunch independently, which is a BIG treat in our class. 
We have a duty-free 45 minute lunch. I make sure the room is cool and music is playing when lunch is over. The lights are off and the kiddos come in and put their heads down to decompress. I loved when my teachers did this growing up. When the lights come on, I do a Read Aloud and my friends with unfinished work, complete it. Once the story is over, we do another brain break. That's the cue for my little slow pokes to put their work away and join us.

We start math with a number talk, which has revolutionized how my students think about numbers and use mental math. We typically do a lesson and then work independently or with a partner. Not having a proper math book has been a huge adjustment because I have to make so many copies. I got tired of it so I've cut back and use whiteboards, task cards, and math centers.

I fell in love with math centers when I taught a combo last year. I keep them in our math area and kiddos pick one when they're finished with their work. They're great for early finishers. Find out how I set math centers up.

After math, we transition into writing.  We do a weekly writing process piece based on what we're learning in class.  Since we're teaching narrative, informative, and opinion writing throughout the year, we tie that in as best as we can.  At my school, we're big on cross-curricular teaching, in order to fit everything in.  We're fortunate to have chrome books once a week so we use them to create our drafting piece.
After recess, we typically have our specials, which include Art, P.E., Computer Lab, Music, and Science Lab.  When the kiddos don't have pull outs, we are working on Science and Social Studies.  I'm big on hands-on activities that are engaging and fun.
I hope you were able to learn a few things while you snuck a peek into our day.  I'd love to help you get organized with a set of schedule cards.
Click on the above photo to download them.
Join some of my other friends to see how they set up their day!

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