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Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Tried It Tuesday {Stitch Fix}

I can't believe that it is almost MAY!! Many of you will be finishing your school year soon. Wahoo! Even though my last day with students is not until June 26th, I am starting the countdown too. :) This week's tried it is something fun I tried for ME!
It's Time for Tried It Tuesday! 
What have you tried at school or home?
My Tried It:
Stitch Fix
Have you ever heard of Stitch Fix? It's an online styling service where your personal "shopper" will handpick five items for you to "try" in the comfort of your own home! I am not the best shopper and feel like I never have time to shop, so this is perfect for me! I like to stay up on the latest trends, but I fail miserably. 
I read about how my BBB, Jivey from Ideas by Jivey tried Stitch Fix and knew I just had to try it too! My co-worker, Emily, also tried Stitch Fix and loves it too! She has recently started a blog, Style Closet to the Classroom, that you should check out. Emily has amazing ideas and is so talented. I'm always learning something from her!

Here are some quick answers to how Stitch Fix works from their website.

I love that the $20 styling fee comes off the price of an item if you keep anything from the box. So, if I buy a shirt that is $40, the $20 is taken off of that and it is only $20 for the shirt! Any items you don't want are sent back in the prepaid envelope that is included in your box (no additional shipping fee!). Easy peasy!!

I was SO excited when my box arrived last week!
Everything was packed nice and neat.
Inside was this note:
My first item was this accessory. This wasn't really "me" so I sent it back.
My next item was this black shirt and although I liked the style when I held it up, I thought that it made my shoulders look huge when it was on. I sent this back too.

I LOVE this Maxi dress and this was a keeper! It was $68 and can't wait to wear it in warmer weather. I'll probably wear a long, lightweight white cardigan with it to work. The angles of the stripes on the side made the dress so slimming (a plus for us women!). The dress is by ReneeC. I took this picture late at night after my workout and still have my hair tie on my wrist. Oops! My hubby also didn't get my cute strappy sandals in the picture. I'll try better next time to get better pictures. :)

My last two items were these honeydew skinny jeans and this white tunic blouse. Both keepers!! The jeans were my splurge at $88 but I couldn't resist. They are something that I wouldn't normally pick out and the material was so soft and comfortable. The jeans are by JustBlack and the tunic is by 41Hawthorn. I had my hubby take this picture yesterday morning before I left for work. 
If you are interested in trying Stitch Fix (the most you'll be out is $20!), I would love it if you would use my referral code! I get $25 in credit for anyone that signs up with my code! Yay!
I already have my next fix set for Wednesday, May 21st! :)
Here are some amazing giveaways that you need to check out if you haven't!
The first is a FREEBIE blog hop with three TPT giftcards also up for giveaway. The blog hop starts here at Head Over Heels for Teaching!
Two of my amazing BBB's, Anne from Looking From Third to Fourth and Emily from I Love My Classroom are celebrating 1000 Followers!!! Check out their amazing giveaway!

The sweet Sara from Miss V's Busy Bees is having a celebratory giveaway with five days of giveaways! She is celebrating her upcoming weddings and birthday!! Wahoo!!

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Spring to Summer Blog Freebie Hop! Tips to Survive the End of the School Year!

The end of the school year is tough, but don't worry, we can get by with a little help from our friends. Since you are one of my sweet friends, you are in for a special treat. I teamed up with a BUNCH of my best blogging buddies to put together some survival tips and wonderful prizes for you.

Just by hopping along, you have a chance to win:

One of three TPT gift certificates to help you make it to the end of the year and An amazing Classroom Friendly Pencil Sharpener!

My survival tip for the end of the year is to change up your reading block and offer something different to really excite your students as summer is quickly approaching. I do this by teaching using Book Clubs for the first time. You may use Book Clubs throughout the year, but I usually wait until the last ten weeks of school to introduce them. It takes until about this point of the year to get my students using good reading habits and the independent skills needed for Book Clubs.

In the picture below (from last year), I know it is difficult to see my students' expressions completely but I think you can see the students' overall excitement!  You might be wondering, "What is in the black and white box?"
Answer:  BOOKS for our new book clubs starting next week!
I purchased Laura Candler's Classroom Book Clubs resource.  I really liked how this resource gave me printables and a video guide for introducing the concept of book clubs step-by-step.  This is not your traditional "literature circles" with student roles.  It is a great activity for the end of the year and really get the students motivated to read even more!
I am linking up this idea with my sweet friend Joanne at Head Over Heels for Teaching and her weekly linky:
This year, I also am going to incorporate some technology centered activities from this pack:
The students complete a survey of their top picks after I discuss each book being offered in the Book Clubs. This year, I will have to be more selective in which books I assign since my students are grouped heterogeneously for ELA (last year they were grouped by ability).  Before writing down their selections, I warned them to not make any gestures or hints to their "buddies" about their top picks.  If they did, they would be sure not to be placed with that buddy for their book club group.  Fourth graders can be very "clicky".  
On the day of the reveal, I place the students in their assigned groups and give each group a box that they were not allowed to open until I gave the okay.  They were SO excited! 
Here are some more pics before opening the boxes last year.  Check out their body language!!

This is what happened last year...I told them that their group could start reading the novel (no more than 20 pages!) over the four day Memorial Day weekend or wait until next week to start.
Guess what?  EVERY group decided to start reading!!  I know my class loves to read in general but I thought there would be a couple groups that would wait!  Boy, was I wrong!
There was only one boy who was reluctant because his group chose to read to page 20 and his teammate told him, "You only have to read five pages a day."  
I was thinking, "Hallelujah!"  The students are going to encourage each other to read to stay caught up with the book club and I don't need to say a thing!

Have you ever used Book Clubs and did you find them motivating for your students?
I would love to hear your thoughts!

Here is a FREEBIE for you with two pages that are editable to use with Book Clubs in your classroom. 

I chose the word in the image above as my secret code because I love my summer naps! After entering my secret code in the above image in the rafflecopter below, continue on the freebie hop by checking out my sweet friend Christy at Teaching Tales Along the Yellow Brick Road!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Tried It Tuesday {Role Play, New Fan Freebie!}

I go back to work today after a week off for spring break. We also had a wonderful extra day off yesterday. The weather here was beautiful and I'm afraid mention that it may SNOW on Wednesday. Maybe if I write it, it won't actually happen?
Back to a normal routine and counting down to the end of the school year...
It's Time for Tried It Tuesday! 
What have you tried at school or home?
My Tried It:
Role Plays
I recently wrote about using Revolutionary War figures for role plays here
We used these Primary Sources of Famous People in American History found here at Rosen Publishing or here at Amazon. I have a collection on loan and had eleven different choices of people from the American Revolution. I have 15 or 16 students per section, so a few students in each class had to choose the same personality.
You can also read about how I used this role play in my classroom last year here.
I had students complete this Revolutionary War Personality questionnaire to use when their groups were assigned and they began planning their role plays. 
You can access this worksheet as a new Facebook Fan Freebie!

 The groups were made from four Revolutionary War Personalities and students were responsible for writing a script including a cast of characters, some stage directions, and setting descriptions for each scene. Here are some images of students performing.

I can't say enough about how many higher level thinking skills really had to be applied with this activity. Students were instructed to include meaningful, educational dialogue based on their character's role in the American Revolution. The roles had to be connected in some way and this was a challenge. They also couldn't have more than 1/5 of their role play be "war scenes". They love those! Props could be used from the classroom and many groups created their own props using materials in the room. 
The groups had one 80 minute class to write their dialogue and begin rehearsing and another 30 minutes of the next day to practice. They really did an awesome job!
Role plays can be used for any topic and used in any subject! 
The students always remember this activity!

Before you go, check out my friend Bex at Reading and Writing Redhead's Milestone Giveaway!

Monday, April 21, 2014

Spark Motivation and A Peek at My Week {Frozen, Toliver}

Today is my last day of spring break and it has been a relaxing staycation! I tried limiting my computer time (you just need that sometimes!).
I'm linking up a day late for the wonderful Mrs. Laffin's Laughings weekly linky: 
We are starting Toliver's Secret this week. This will be my third year using this novel. 
You can about what I did last year more here.
Before break, we read Can't You Make Them Behave, King George?
I only teach ELA, but the math teacher will be gearing up for the NYS tests that are next week. In all my 14 years of teaching, I have always been responsible for preparing students for a state exam and we will have a celebration after the tests. Since this goes along with student motivation, I am linking this up with my BBB, Joanne, at Head Over Heels for Teaching for her weekly linky:

The ELA tests were the week before break, and the math tests are about four weeks after that. So, we decided to have two celebrations. Our celebration for the ELA tests was to watch Frozen:
We also had a couple frozen treats!
The whole 4th grade can fit in one of our 4th grade classrooms. The lights were off here but the picture shows it as being lighter than it actually was.
What do students have to do to be able to go to the celebration? They just have to work hard and show us that they're putting forth their best effort on test days! This means taking your time, going back to the text and underlining, and using TWO details for all those short response questions. I discuss this with all my classes in advance and really play up the celebration. They eat it up! I've never had a student not be able to go to the celebration but have had to give some students "warnings" during the test. It might be a little bribery, but, hey, whatever works! They deserve a special treat for surviving the test anyway! :)

Friday, April 18, 2014

Five for Friday {Spring Break Style!}

After a little vacation from blogging, I am coming out of hiding to link up Five For Friday with Doodle Bugs Teaching!   

We are on spring break! Yay!! Last weekend was gorgeous and then Tuesday hit and we had a 40 degree drop in temperature in one day. It was snowing all morning and was cold enough to stick. Yuck!
Before leaving for break, I gave my students a little Easter treat. I love these little cups that were four for $.97 at Walmart. I put some Easter candy and a pencil in them.

I finally signed up after reading all about Stitch Fix!! I can't wait to get my first box of clothes/accessories in the mail next week. I don't make time for myself to shop often with two kids that I have to shop for as well. I'm also not up on the latest trends and could use my personal stylist to help me! I'll let you know how it goes with the first shipment. :)
We spent Tuesday and Wednesday night in a hotel about 30 miles from home. The kids thought we were in another world though! We went to an indoor water park all day Wednesday. It is exhausting but the kids loved it!

Here is my six year old (soon to be seven) who is getting so grown up! She has several students in her class that wear glasses and she had to get some fake ones for herself! Haha! I remember wanting glasses, especially in middle school and we used to "borrow" our friends' glasses to wear. Lilly might be out of luck since neither myself or my husband have ever worn glasses. Hopefully, the good vision genes got to her too! :)
 Here she is with her shipment from Little Passports that came recently. Her great aunt gave her a subscription as a present and she loves it! This month the package was from Egypt and she had to excavate this plaster pyramid to find the hidden treasure inside. :)

I'm Lovin Lit is hosting two awesome fundraising bundles to help raise money for her nephew Jaydon. You can read more about his story here.
This is the 3-6 bundle:
This is the K-2 bundle.
Each bundle is only $10.00!! The bundles are only active for a limited time though!

Have a great weekend everyone!!