Tuesday, July 31, 2012

New Blog Design!!!

What do you think about our new blog look?  Last week, Heather and I got together to work on some school and blog stuff and we got to talking about the blog.  We were talking about a blog button and some other things and started talking about what each of us thought about finding someone to design our blog for us.  We both agreed it was a good investment for us and began to look around.  We didn't know where to begin so we started to look at some other blogs and kept finding that so many blogs were designed by Honey Bunch Blog Design.  So we sent an email asking about the process and we got connected with Misty and Erika.  They were amazing!  Thtey asked us a few questions about us, our blog, things we liked and had to have, ect.  We answered the questions and told her that we wanted a simple, classy, and elegant blog.  We also said that we liked chevron patterns, yellow, black and grays.  And this blog is what they came up with!!!!  AMAZING!  It was like they went right into both of our minds and made it look exactly what were seeing in our minds.  Exactly 7 days later, we have this gorgeous, beautifully designed blog that is perfect!!!  Thanks so much to Misty and Erika!  If you are thinking about taking the next step to bring your blog up to the next level, definitely contact them.  From start to finish, they were outstanding!!!
Happy Tuesday!

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Watermelon Update

Do you remember when Heather and I took our classes out and planted watermelon seeds using rectangular arrays?  We posted about it HERE.  This week, I went to the garden to check on the beds and to water the few fruits and veggies we had.  I didn't get a chance to take a picture of the watermelon that we picked, but I did manage to snap this picture of my littles enjoying the sweet fruit!  This was only half of the watermelon.  We enjoyed the other half the next day at the pool.  I LOVE gardening with my kids at school and my kids at home.  Eating this watermelon with my kids made me very excited for the pumpkins that we planted.  We told you about it here.  When I went to water, we had little pumpkin sprouts!!  How exciting it will be to use our pumpkins that we have grown to use for pumpkin math day around Halloween.  As exciting as that will be, I am soaking up the next few weeks and relishing every little minute I have with these sweet faces.  Summer goes by too quickly!!!

Friday, July 27, 2012

Kathy Bumgardner

Juli and I were lucky enough to attend another workshop by Kathy Bumgardner. She is full of great ideas. If you are looking for ideas and help for Reader's Workshop, her website is a GREAT resource. Click HERE to go to her site. We learned a lot from her last year. Our favorites are:

SUMMARY TOOLS - the summary approach where students follow the prompt to summarize a reading selection. The students really took to the one for fiction literature - Someone Wanted But So Then.  When asking a student to summarize last year and they would give me that blank look (you know the one!), I would just say Someone Wanted But So Then. They would immediately be able to completely give me a summary.  It is the perfect support for students learning to summarize on their own.  This along with other great stuff can be found by following the link to her website - FREE!

FICTION & NONFICTION ROLL UP - another great resource we used a lot last year.  We printed each component on a separate piece of paper, taped together, and laminated. Students would "walk" down the roll up giving the information for each component. We did it as a class together at first so students became more confident and began to do this on their own.  This is another thing you can get directly from her website.

This year she had a ton of new ideas.  My favorite though is COLLABORATIVE CONVERSATION STARTERS because this helps solve a problem I had last year.  Whenever I would have the students Turn and Talk about the selection we had just read, the conversations were so lame!  I got really frustrated with the situation and would attempt to model my expectations, but nothing seemed to make much difference.  She has created the cards for the both the reader and the listener to use when discussing a text. They have to use one of the prompts when discussing the text, which helps reduce lame responses where the student is just going through the motions.  The prompts range from "I wonder" to "I believe ____because..." to ""Can you show me the text evidence that shows____?"  If you don't want to make cards for each student, this concept could easily be put into an anchor chart when you are first introducing workshop expectations.

Her website has so many amazing things (free to download) like literacy extension cards, literacy CD wheels, think clouds, fix up strategies, and so much more!  If you are in need to support in reading, this website is a wonderful resource for you.  We will hopefully be seeing more of Kathy this year and will be sure to pass on any great tips she shares.  Let us know if you have any questions about what we have shared with you. We would love to help!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012


Juli and I are very excited to announce that we have been given 2 awards:

Thanks to following friends who have nominated us!!!
 Dede from:

Natalie at:

Chasity at:
Simple Sweet Teaching

Michaela at:

Mrs. Rhoads at:

As the rules of these awards apply, here are 7 things about ourselves.


1.  I am not a fan of the 180 day school year, so in protest, I decided to take 3 maternity leaves in 3 consecutive years.  My kids are now 7,5 and 4.

2.  I loved High School so much, that I graduated from 2 different ones, in two different states!
Thanks to my parents who made this possible by moving our family in the middle of my senior year.  

3.  I have played the violin since I was 4.  I went to college as a double music/education major but dropped the music major part! Whew, it was TOUGH!  Now I play the violin in my church worship band and teach violin lessons!

4.  I love teaching second grade.

5.  I am married to my best friend, Aaron, who is an avid Tennessee Vol fan.  Which, I guess, makes me an avid Tennessee Vol fan by marriage.  

6.  As much as it pains Heather, I am a YANKEE through and through being that I was raised in Connecticut.  Anytime Heather makes a "Yankee" comment, I always have to remind her that I am a YANKEE!

7.  I am a preachers' kids.  And I also am a Preachers' Grandkid.  In my family, you are either a preacher or a teacher.  So I am a teacher and married a "guidance counselor", close enough right?  Funny thing, Aaron went to college to be a preacher.  So either way, I would've married a preacher or a teacher.  


1. After observing Juli do the three kids in three years, I decided to space mine out a tad. I have 2 boys, ages 4 and 1. I am so in love with them!

2. I have three brothers and 1 sister.  One of my brothers has special needs which is a cause I hold very dear to my heart, especially the treatment of those with special needs.

3. I am a GRITS (Girl Raised In The South) and often forget Juli is a Yankee - bless her heart! 

4. I have been married to my best friend, Ryan, for almost 9 years now, who is an avid Carolina fan. Which makes me an avid Carolina fan by marriage.

5. I am extremely OCD - the most random things send me over the edge.  I like things to be "just so".
My grade level LOVES working with me! :)

6.  I have a tattoo of a Chinese symbol for strength with Heather flowers around it.

7. If I could afford to, I would live on a huge lot of land and be a farmer.  No lie!

So here are the blogs we would like to nominate for both awards:

1. Denise at Yearn to Learn
3.  Courtney at Swimming into Second
4.  Mrs. Saoud at Primary Graffiti
5.  Amy Lemons at Step Into Second Grade
6.  Farrah at Think Share Teach
7.  Alex from The School Potato
9.  Melissa at The Dalton Gang

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Newbie Bloggers Blog Hop!!!

Good Morning Blogging World!

We are linking up this morning with Abby from Mrs. Saunders' Lovelies
She joined a Blog Hop for Newbie bloggers that Janis from Grade Three is the Place for Me is hosting.

Being that we are newbie bloggers and learning day by day about this new found blogging world, we thought that we too would link up!

Here are the questions:

    1.  what state you are in
    2.  your current teaching position
    3.  your teaching experience
    4.  when you started blogging
    5.  share a blogging tip / blogging resource

Here are our answers...

1.  We teach in North Carolina
2.  We are currently teaching 2nd grade. (The best grade EVER!)
3.  Juli- 2 years in 1st grade and 8 in second.
     Heather- 1 year in 3rd and 10 in second.
4.  We started blogging in May 2012 after being Blog Stalkers forever!
5.  There are SO many tips and resources to share.  The one I feel like is the best to share is Kristin from Ladybugs Teacher Files.  
She has a wonderful section of video tutorials on her site that we have watched and learned so much from as we have started in the blog world.  They have been absolutely invaluable and we are so thankful to her for putting things out there so we can learn and get better at this blogging business!

So there we have it!  Our first Blog Hop for Newbie Bloggers.  Thanks to Janis for hosting this fun party.  We have really enjoyed linking up with so many new bloggers!!

Happy Hopping!
Juli and Heather

Friday, July 20, 2012

App Happy Linky Party

Heather let me know that Hope over at Second Grade Shenanigans was having an App Happy Linky Party.
 I have had my iPhone for 3 years and I am pretty much addicted to it.  The things that we can do with these machines is absolutely mind blowing.  My husband has a Droid and we are always comparing our phones.  I must admit that when he first got his phone I liked a lot of the things that it could do.  Some, even, that I couldn't do with my iPhone.  But as time has progressed, we joke that my phone remains amazing and his phone is slowly becoming inferior to mine. :-)  I have been looking at the other posts that people have added to the linky party and I have almost all of them.  And I would admit that they are all amazing Apps to have!  Hope spoke of the book retriever app that she has purchased.  It looks like a great tool!  I found an app on Pinterest that is very similar to the book retriever.  It is called Class Book Organizer made by Booksource.

I initially posted about this resource earlier this summer HERE.  I have been attached to this app and website for a good portion of the summer.  Early in the morning, sadly, I will sit in my bed and take a basket of books and scan the barcodes before I even get out of bed.  That is a sad statement!!!  As of today, I have 797 books in my classroom library and I still have 13 baskets to go!  YIKES!!!  That's a lot of books!  What I do like about the program is that I can add my students.  They can use my iPhone or iPad to check the books out.  I can track the books that they are checking out and see the levels and genres of the books that my students are consistently choosing.

The best thing about it, the app is FREE.  It is called Classroom Organizer and it is available for iPhone and Android.  

I am so excited to see what everyone else is using out there on their phones to impact their classroom.

What makes you App Happy!?!?


Thursday, July 19, 2012

Garden Meet Up!

It seems like Heather and I have been taking our little summer trips on opposite weeks since school has been out.  While I was gone to the beach, she watered and took care of the garden.  When I got back, she left for the beach so I watered and took care of the garden.  When she got back, I headed to Florida for the week so she took care of it.  It's crazy that we are half way through July and we haven't even seen each other yet.  So, now that our vacations are over, we felt we needed to get together.  Yesterday was a great day to do it. We planned to meet in the garden and clear out two beds for us to plant pumpkins in!  This past October, I did a pumpkin math day where I had my students do experiments with pumpkins.  There are so many standards you can hit using a pumpkin, it's crazy.  I also teach a large non-fiction readers workshop unit at the same time so the integration is amazing!  As Heather and I have been planning, we thought that it would take this unit to the next level if the students could raise the pumpkins themselves and use the pumpkins for the pumpkin math day.  I think that they will absolutely LOVE it!  Unfortunately, since we aren't a year round school, it is hard for the students to see the entire life cycle of a pumpkin.  But there are only a few more weeks until we are back, so they will get to see most of it.  There are SO many ways that you can teach children through gardening and we are excited to have found yet another way!  Stop back in October to see how it turned out!!!

Heather and her two boys, Plus Juli's three kids enjoying a snack in the shade.
You can see our raised beds garden in the background.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Inky Linky!


I am linking up with Mr. B's Beach Brains for an Inky Linky party. Teachers share the stories of the ink they have along with a picture. Juli doesn't have any tattoos and I have only one but that still qualifies us right?  It is located on my right ankle - kind of hard to tell from the picture.  My tattoo means a lot to me. I got it when I was going through a really hard time in my life.  It is the symbol for strength with Heather flowers wrapped around it.  It was to remind me that I have the strength to make it through anything in life.  I feel like it is a true reflection of me. I would love to have more but have no plans to do so.  I would really like another small one somewhere to represent my 2 boys. A friend of mine found an amazing tattoo on Pinterest (seriously is there anything you can't find there?) where you place a fingerprint from child laid over each other in the shape of a heart. How sweet is that?!  I struggle with my tattoo sometimes in the teaching field as I feel I may be judged for having it being a teacher and all.  My love of teaching children has been the same as it was before I got the tattoo so I don't think it makes me any less of a teacher. I will say that being a parent I don't ever want to expose other people's children to something they don't agree with.  So I do cover my tattoo with a band aid when it isn't covered by my clothes. None of my students have ever seen it.  I have had a few children ask why I always wear a band aid.  I just tell them to cover up a scar - sort of the truth right?  I love my tattoo even if I cover it because everyone has different values and children are impressionable.  I hope you have enjoyed the story behind my tattoo.

On a totally different note, we worked in the school garden today so be on the look out for a post from Juli if you have been following our garden adventures.

Mental Math

Mental math strategies are always an interesting topic to teach, aren't they?  It is so concrete, yet I always feel it is one of those skills that they either get it or they don't, there really isn't an "in between" stage.  As I begin thinking about the standards I need to teach this year and how I'd like to teach some differently than last year, this standard just kept coming to mind.  2.NBT.8 Mentally Add and subtract 10 or 100 to a given number between 100-900.  As I was working through it last night, this little pack came to me.  I think it will be very useful for me (and hopefully you too) this coming year.  It comes with a lot of resources for you to use in your classroom.  Teaching posters that you could have printed in large size at your favorite printing company, or just use them on your document camera.  There are also 16 practice pages that you can use with the students.  The numbers range from 100-900 and can be used to level stages or instruction, or use throughout the year.  Of those 16 practice pages there are 4 of each area (+10, -10, +100, -100)  I have also included 4 different word problems that apply the strategy of adding and subtracting 10 and 100 but in a word problem format.  Hop on over to my TpT site and pick yours up today.  Or just click the picture below.

Happy Wednesday!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Line Plots...again!

I feel some of these blogging girls are putting me to shame.  I blog more while I am working full time than I do when I am off for summer break!  So, in my guilt, I have begun to think more about this upcoming school year and the implementation of the Common Core.  Earlier in the school year, I blogged about Line Plots and shared an activity that I created for my students/team to use.  You can read about that one here.  What I didn't share in that post, was a game that I created for my students to use in Math Workshop.  As I prepared for that unit, I continued to come up short in the game/activity area for line plots.  I don't know if it is because it is a relatively new standard.  Or, if people just couldn't figure out a way to make line plots fun.  Either way, our kids needed something.  I am not saying that this idea is the best game on Earth, or even that it is all that much fun. ( I mean, let's be honest, how much fun can you have with a game about line plots?)  But this is an activity that worked, it helped the students to apply what they've learned about line plots, and it is simple enough that I could put it in a math station and have the students play independently.  In my eyes, that's a win, win, win!  It is designed to be a laminated file folder game.  Don't you just love those!?!  Hop on over to my TpT site and pick yours up today before the school year begins!

Happy Plotting!

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Currently (Our first one!)

So I am going to attempt to link up to Farley's Currently this month. Hoping I am doing right! I love reading everyone's so much that I decided to give it a shot.  Let's see how I do and please tell me if I have done something wrong.

I chose The Lorax because I love reading it to my class around Earth Day. They love it. It is so neat to see my students turn into little Earth protectors once I finish the book.  The Continuum of Literacy Learning is a new go to book because we just started reader's workshop, using Fountas and Pinnell levels, and all that jazz this last year. Juli and I refer to this book often and I am currently spending my summer reading it cover to cover to feel more prepared for the coming year. My old go to is Teaching with Love and Logic.  I read it once a year to remind me how to handle classroom management in a loving way - which we all know can be extremely difficult at times!

I look forward to seeing more Currently posts from everyone.  Head on over to Farley's blog to link up and read the rules(hoping I followed them)!  Hope everyone is having a good summer!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Books, Books, and More Books!!!

Whew, this has been such a busy summer.  I have three kids ages 6,5, and 4 and I have always looked forward to the summers when they are older because they will be easier than when they were smaller.  I am pleased that summer time is getting easier with my kids, but now it is just getting busier!  Not to mention we started our summer off with my 4 year old breaking her arm!  I had such high hopes for my summer and getting ahead of the game with teachers pay teachers stuff, book organizing, and blogging.  So today, I decided I would start with one of those chores.  Book organizing and leveling.  With the adoption of both the common core and readers workshop, one goal I set for myself was to completely level my classroom library.  My mom and I began this arduous process last summer and got a lot of the way through!  Unfortunately, I did not keep the work up during the school year and I am still NOT DONE!  I want to go into the school year organized and ready for all of my books to be in the hands of my students.  I first had to choose a leveling system for me.  I got my inspiration from Beth Newingham HERE.  That woman is amazing!  I made my own colors and got tons of baskets.  Now I am onto looking up my books on Scholastics' Book Wizard tool.  While I was perusing Pinterest the other day, I came across a pin for Classroom Booksource.  Have you all seen this website!?!?!

 It is absolutely amazing.  On the website you can type in the ISBN numbers of your books and it will add the book to your classroom library.  You can choose the information you want listed with the book.  Guided Reading level, AR book, ect.  For some they already have the Guided Reading level listed, others you may have to add yourself.  So I have just had both classroom booksource and book wizard up at the same time.  They also have an APP for your smart phone that allows you to SCAN the barcode of your books and add it to your classroom library!  AMAZING!!!  The really cool thing is that it gives you the option of choosing a location of the book.  So I can put the basket that the book is housed in.  As it compiles the library it makes it possible for you to use the site as a check out and check in system.  You can add a list of students names.  You can also put requirements for check out.  How many they can check out at a time, a required review at time of check in.  It tracks the check outs as well, so you can see the types and levels of the books your kids are checking out.  I am really excited about this new program.  So today while my kids were doing this...  I got this done...

It is going to take lots of time, but I think if I do several baskets a day, it will fly by!  While I was doing it today, I thought I'd jump on here and let you all know about it as well!  Happy Book Leveling!