Blogger Fun in GA :)

Wednesday, April 25, 2012
Last Friday, I headed to Atlanta to meet up with a few of my sweet blogger friends- Erica Bohrer, Deanna Jump, and Cheryl Saoud! I had been counting down the weeks, days, minutes, and seconds to meet these amazing ladies face to face! As I pulled into the hotel parking lot, I was excited, full of adrenaline...and yes, a bit nervous to be completely honest! It felt surreal to be there in that precious moment just steps away from them. finally.

As soon as I walked into the room {after lots of hugs, giggles, and smiles}, we all instantly connected as though we'd been friends forever. We chatted and chatted until we realized that we hadn't even thought about what to do for dinner & it was almost 7:30! HA! We eventually made it to a nice restaurant in Buckhead called Dantanna's. They had the BEST, melt in your mouth, delish steak, but y'all the conversation was WAY better!!! It never know how it is when teachers get together.

After dinner, we headed back to the hotel where we had a little slumber party! I knew it was going to be a late night for us!! We chatted about our classrooms, teaching experiences, families, creating materials, etc!! Loved every second of it. Around midnight, the yawning & sleepy eyes took over. After Deanna & Cheryl left to get some beauty sleep, Erica & I were still slumber partying it up until like 2:00ish. I swear, we could have talked all night. We had to force ourselves to turn off the lights to get ready for a BIG day full of meeting more blogging friends for lunch!!

You would think we would've had sore throats and have been exhausted on Sat. morning..NOPE! We both jumped out of bed & got ready to enjoy the finest complimentary hotel breakfast I've ever had...fresh omelets, waffles, bacon, coffee, & another amazing chat session!!! Oh my goodness, I was in teacher HEAVEN!!!

A few hours later, we met up with Hope King from Second Grade Shenanigans, Ashley Nichols from The Polka Dot Patch, Jenaya Shaw from The Lesson Plan Diva, and Dana from 3rd Grade Gridiron. All of these ladies are just FABULOUS & you should check out their blogs!!
We rode together to The Cheesecake Factory in style!! This was a first for me. I didn't even ride in a limo to my prom.
You can tell we were having FUN!!!
 Love this picture of all of us!

We had even more fun at lunch....
The Whole Blog Lovin' Crew!!

 Deanna, Erica, & me

 Jenaya, Dana, Cheryl, & Hope

Ashley, Erica, & Deanna

 Ashley & me

 LOVE my roomie, Erica!!!

And here are some more cute random shots....

Don't we look cool?!?! lol

A big thank you to Doodle Bugs Paper for the cutest personalized stationary sets she donated to us!!
And all the wonderful gifts that I haven't taken pictures of yet!!

What a BLAST!! I already miss everyone & can't wait for our next meet up!



Differentiating Math- Part 2

Sunday, April 15, 2012
A couple of months ago, I posted an example of how I differentiate math for my kiddos using tiered activities. You can check it out {HERE}. Today, I'm excited to share another way that I absolutely LOVE to support the needs of all my smarties~Think Dots!! Think Dots boards are great approach to giving students an opportunity to extend/refine the skill(s) you are working on in any subject area. I actually blogged about using them last year {HERE}, but boy did my Money Think Dots printable need a major makeover. I'm planning to make more boards that are aligned to the Common Core Standards this summer!! You can click on the picture to download a revised copy of the Money Think Dots board.
Dice Graphics Courtesy of Graphics From the Pond

 I find it SO interesting to observe what the students choose to do, as well as the different levels of creativity, understanding of the standard, & the independence levels demonstrated through the activities. However, there are and always will be a handful of students that need more time before diving into a Think Dots board. I want more than anything for all my students to feel successful!! While the majority of my students are working away, I pull these handful of sweetie pies over for a remediation session. I make sure to have a FUN game & SMARTboard activity planned for just us to reinforce skills! I make it seem as though they're at a different station than the rest of the class! Below are several pics of the Think Dots & small group fun we had together!!
Showing several ways to make 25 cents using stamps.
Making coupons that when combined equaled $1.00.
Creating a restaurant menu was by far the most popular choice! I was so proud of their creative illustrations and labeling skills!! I loved that the student who made the one on top called it, "Out Night"! Ah!Some!
I showed the students examples of menus from several restaurants to explore before they created their own. Once they made their menu, they practiced buying items off of it with a partner!
In my small group, we zoomed in on counting coin combinations, purchasing items, and making fair trades up to $1.00!
 We used 99's charts (you could also use 100's charts) to help us add/keep track of the coin values we were counting. To do this, we marked each coin's value with a clear counter until we reached the last coin/final amount. This visual strategy was extremely helpful to my students who were struggling and needed extra support. Touch Money is also another wonderful strategy that was helpful. Erica Bohrer posted about using this with her students last year with a few really cute freebies {HERE}.
We also played a fun "store" game on the SMARTboard. Sorry for the poor quality of these pics. I need to start bringing my camera to school again!!!
I also found some GREAT money songs on You Tube!! I would play these to start a math lesson, during transitions, or as a quick filler.  The kids LOVE them!!!

Totally random, but I wanted to share a few pictures from our family photo session on Thursday. OH MY GOODNESS, Parker was going bonkers the entire time, refused to pose, threw a HUGE river stone in a creek, and made our photographer {family friend} run all over the place!! We left knowing they were going to be WILD pictures, but we couldn't have been happier with the sneak peek she sent us!!! YAY!!

And on another random note...if you need a little tax break, everything is 15% off in my TpT store today!! Click on the picture below to check it out!!
It's back to school for me tomorrow. Spring Break went by WAY to fast!!

Playing Catch Up!!!

Thursday, April 12, 2012
Seriously, my last post was on March 26th & to make matters even worse it was only a TpT sale promotion. Geez Louise, I'm ashamed of my blogging self!!! So what has been going on with me the last couple of weeks, you might ask?!?!?

Well, in my family, we call the month of March "March Madness"!!! I swear it is one birthday after the other starting with my niece, then my other niece, then my daddy, then my sweet Parker who turned 3, and last but not least my hubby. Not only are we broke from all the birthday presents, but we are just flat out exhausted!!!

I *thought* Spring Break would instantly reunite me with my blogging self (more time=more blogging), but instead I've just been enjoying family time, eating, sleeping, and relishing in the simple things in life that often get missed or brushed to the side when I am in CRAZY teacher mode. I admit it's hard to turn my teacher switch really, really hard, so I think this "off time" has been good for me... maybe not so much for my poor neglected blog though. I often think there is a misconception about blogger teachers being on top of it all! HA! Y'all should see my living room right can I describe it other than it looking like a toy store threw up all over everything??? Nice visual, huh?!? Oh and my lesson plans for next week were either written in invisible ink or are totally blank at the moment....GASP...and they probably will be until Sunday night...DOUBLE GASP!!! Yep, I'm just an ordinary first grade teacher trying to tread the rough waters of balancing life, too!!

BUT, Spring Break does the body good{even though mine did not involve the beach in any form or fashion other than looking at my friends' beach pics on Facebook *no, I'm not jealous*}. I'm feeling recharged & ready to blog again FINALLY!!!  I'll be posting a lot in the next few days (more differentiated math examples with freebies, plant/spring stuff, & a bunch of fun randomness, etc.) to get caught up!

 Gotta run because we're off to have family pictures made in a couple of hours & my little squirt just woke up from his nap demanding Chipmunks {the movie} and Cheetos!!! Fun stuff!!!

Thanks for sticking around with me during my "off time"!! Love y'all :)