general school

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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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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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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Stopping Paper Clutter

Posted by on Aug 3, 2013 in Freebies, general school | 2 comments

Stopping Paper Clutter

Status quo, you know, is Latin for ‘the mess we’re in’.

– Ronald Reagan



Monday Morning after staying for 3 hours on Friday to grade and clean up papers!



Tuesday Morning, working on Tuesday folders


Wednesday Morning the mess is starting to take over!

I really have a goal of taming the paper mess in my classroom. The pictures above are from Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday of a week when I was REALLY TRYING to keep papers organized and my work space uncluttered. I am not showing Thursday and Friday; it is just too sad.

I’ve read a few blogs on organization over the summer. This one is great:

I have a plan and I think it will help. I am going to label specific baskets for specific papers. I am going to think of them as (and call them) paper drop spots. I’ve been working on the labels:

Drop Spots

Drop Spot Labels


The ones for my classroom actually have a penguin font! These labels match my penguin decor. Many penguin decor items are available here:

This includes my Penguin Birthday Chart that is a cute freebie!

Penguin Birthday Chart Freebie


I went out to buy more baskets yesterday, but my Dollar General didn’t have any! So I will be out shopping for them again before school starts.

Some of the things I have been doing in my classroom with papers turned out to be a really good plan. I just need to keep up with my plan. AND if I have another student teacher this year, I need to train her (or him) about the plan.

If you have class organization ideas to share, please post them in the comments.

If you have an organizational product you’d like to highlight, please add it to the linky.



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Help, I Need a Name!

Posted by on Jul 29, 2013 in Freebies, general school | 2 comments

Help, I Need a Name!

I’ve a grand memory for forgetting.

– Robert Louis Stevenson

I have a fun plan for those pesky “No Name” papers. I am going to put this poster on my whiteboard and keep some penguin magnets nearby. I will attach the papers under the sign for the students to claim. The penguin clip art is from The font is KristenITC.

Help! I Need a Name!


Penguin Name

I have been searching for some new magnets for this plan. I just ordered these:

I made these for those of you with an owl theme or an ocean. I used an owl and a fish by My Cute Graphics and the font is by Miss Galvin Learns, MGL Writes Well.

"Owl" need a name on this, please!


Owl name

Please "hook" a name to this paper!


Fish Name

Well, back to creating my amazing penguin filled classroom! You can find my completed items here:


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I Am the Featured Teacher!

Posted by on Dec 22, 2012 in general school | 4 comments


I want to thank Mr. Hughes for featuring me on his fabulous blog today! He is amazing with his bimonthly promotion of quality teachers. I know it must be especially difficult to get it all organized in this busy time of the year and I am especially appreciative!

In conjunction with Teacher-Author Spotlight I am hosting a sale at my stores. All of my items are 20% off and the featured items are at least 25 – 30% off!

Please stop by and visit and follow weekly for great information about teacher-authors and some wonderful freebies!


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