Posts made in August, 2013

No Time Left

Posted by on Aug 11, 2013 in Freebies, general school | 0 comments

Lost time is never found again.

– Benjamin Franklin

I have had a very productive summer working on new products for TpT. My work has not gone in a linear manner. I get sidetracked by new, fun ideas. I get discouraged at a tough spot and go on to something else. I get excited about making products with different themes and run out of time for making other products. I worked probably 50+ hours each week with one 10 day vacation. I made 70 new products. I probably have another 10 at some point in the creative process. I have a goal of publishing at least 1 and hopefully 2 each week as the school year gets underway.

I have a team leader meeting tomorrow and a team meeting on Wednesday. I will be organizing my classroom during the reminder of the week.

August 19 officially starts teacher in-service days. August 26 is the first day of school. I am excited for my new group to see our penguin filled classroom! I will be posting pictures sometime this week.

Don’t forget it is Fabulous Flash Freebie Sunday! I will have at least 3 flash freebie throughout the day. Plus I have a large selection of freebies (21) in my store. Check them out and leave some feedback!

Flash Freebie Sundays


You can find them here:


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Quotes on Reading and Writing

Posted by on Aug 9, 2013 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

Mark Twain was my favorite author for years. I loved his sly humor. In the midst of the most serious dilemma he could make the reader laugh out loud. I have read every one of his books and short stories, including his massive autobiography released in 2010.

As I was looking for quotes for my freebie, I was laughing at his way of looking at the world more than 100 years after his death. I even had to send a quote to my niece on Facebook.  “When the end of the world comes, I want to be in Cincinnati because it’s always twenty years behind the times.” She, of course, currently lives in Cincinnati.

I am planning on making a larger packet for sale of quotes by authors on reading and writing. My plan is to link it to this fun freebie, so that people will want to go and see it, too. Click on the poster for a link to my freebie! Ann

Mark Twain's wisdom.

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Peer Writing Conferences

Posted by on Aug 8, 2013 in conversation as learning tool, general school | 3 comments

“Good stories are not written. They are rewritten.”
– Phyllis Whitney

Class Guidelines for Peer Writing Conference

Students need to be  able to share during all stages of writing including prewriting, development, or revising. Peer conferences will work best if you have an established routine with explicit instructions. Students also need to be held accountable for their performance.

When starting peer conferences, you need to set the stage. The activity needs to be structured. You need to decide on the size of the groups; pairs, small group, or writing teams. You need to decide if the feedback will be oral or written. In my third grade classroom the students will be in pairs and will work orally. If I have an odd number of students there will be one triad or one student conferring with me. The students also need to be held accountable for their discussion. Depending on the day, either one or both partners might share their writing. If there is only time for one, then the next day the other would share.

As with all classroom activities, students will need trained on this procedure. Start by modeling what a good conference will look like and sound like. I will be as detailed as to show them how to sit facing each other, how to use names when asking the questions, and how to establish eye contact. Students need support to be able to do this effectively. You could create a guidesheet for different types of writing; personal narrative, expository, persuasive, and any other type. I use 5 – 6 posted questions for the “interviewer” and sentence stems for the writers. I ask my writers to answer in complete sentences using one of the stems or their own thoughts. We practice using sentence stems in other activities throughout the day. This helps the students learn to use correct sentence structure and to academic language and to use it appropriately.

The “interviewer” or reviewer needs to be able to give good feedback. A basic TAG formula is one way to establish this. T is for “tell something you liked”, A reminds the students to “ask a question” and G means “give a suggestion”. I have seen posters with Star, Star, Wish. Which asks the students to share 2 positives and a wish for improvement.  Another idea is to ask the interviewer to point out one good part and tell what makes it good, ask one question, and point out a place where they’d like to know more. The “interviewer” can mirror back what was heard to help the writer focus on what the “audience” is getting from the piece.

During the conference students could be equipped with three different colored highlighters. They would then look for evidence of specific kinds of content, for example vivid verbs, details, transition words, even misspellings. These could actually be chosen in response to the writer’s specific needs at that time.

Unfortunately, these conferences need to be quick so that writers can return to their work. I plan to give no more than seven minutes a day to peer conferencing. I am hopeful that it will be a part of most days when we have writers workshop. In addition to my observations and assistance with the process, one way the students will be held accountable is when they come to conference with me. I will ask them about their peer conferences as well as look for and listen for evidence of its benefit.

If you want to see more details about my program, I have 7 different formats available for my Peer Conferencing product.

I am now working on some “Inspirational Quotes” about Writing. I can’t wait to share them. A freebie should be available soon.


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Getting Them Home!

Posted by on Aug 7, 2013 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

“Oh, Auntie Em, there’s no place like home!”  – Wizard of Oz 1939

One of the most important issues to both the teacher and students on the first day of school in the elementary grades is getting them back home. I think on the first day we “rehearse” our choice of transportation 3 or 4 times. It makes a really bad/sad impression on me when I have third graders who arrive with no idea of how they are getting home. They can become so anxious and this is not what anyone wants or needs on the first day of school. I can understand those little K and Pre-K babies not having any idea and needing lots of help and a transportation badge! But by third grade, I expect that parents have discussed this with their child! ANyway enough of that rant.

On the first day or even sooner at Meet the Teacher, we create our first bar graph. Students add their magnet (and, yes, they are penguins) to the whiteboard under their transportation mode. It stays up and any changes or tweaks are made throughout the first couple weeks of school.

Using My Cute Graphics adorable penguins and my own black/white/ and red border, I have created some transportation headers. If you like them, please leave a comment! Transportation Headers

Here’s how they look waiting on my whiteboard.

How We Go Home

Transportation Home


Transportation 4Transportation 3

Transportation 2





These headers match my penguin decor on TpT. Please check it out!    FREEBIE



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It’s Time to Start Again

Posted by on Aug 5, 2013 in Freebies, general school, vocabulary, vocabulary development | 0 comments

It’s Time to Start Again

If you don’t have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over?

– John Wooden

I am headed to my classroom this morning to begin organizing it for another school year. I have created so many new things for my penguin decor that i am not even sure that I have all of it. I still have more to do; labels, name cards, etc.

I can’t wait to get my new list of names. With technology, these days I can look at pictures and begin to learn their faces before I even meet them. I love carefully printing each name on their nametags, but I especially love it when I redo nametags in cursive in about 6 weeks. I love writing in cursive. My best work looks like a Zaner Bloser handwriting manual. Unfortunately, these days there is not enough time to teach cursive well.

In a recent post I expressed my goal to conquer my paper mess this school year. A teaching goal that I have is to do a better job teaching writing. I really need to work on conferencing. I’ve been learning more about what a conference should look like/sound like this summer. It seems to be just the help I need to get this going well. I hope it works! This was a particularly useful website:

Part of holding a conference is having children feeling comfortable with the language of writing. I decided that to help them become comfortable, they need to practice it more often then we have in the past. To this end I plan to use peer writing conferences often, maybe even daily. We have been asked at my school to use sentence stems more often to help children speak in complete sentences. And while I do this daily with our mentor sentence, I felt that this could be another perfect spot to practice that skill. Students will use their writing vocabulary, practice complete sentences, and grow as writers all at once.

I developed a (penguin themed) peer writing conference bulletin board to post in my classroom. It has the added benefit of making great use of the bulletin board that was less than well used last year. I also created jungle, monster, ocean, owl, and black frame themes.  I even have a couple “pick a partner” activities planned so that we can get moving and meeting new friends everyday.

Here’s one of them. You can download it for free here or purchase it for $1.00 in my TpT store by clicking on the cover.

Find a Partner


I will be taking pictures as I put my (penguin themed) room together. I can’t wait to share.

I’d love to read anything you want to share about writing conferences or ways to pick partners. (I want to make one of those clock activities for that somehow involving penguins.) You can add any posts or products about writing here:




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