Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Winners for the Ultimate Middle Years Giveaway and Blog Hop!!

To all of you amazing peeps playing a part in this event – Thank you!!  It was a huge success. To all of you who took on the blog hop challenge – Congratulations!  Your freebies will be emailed out later today. Check your junk mail if you haven’t found the 2 messages in your inbox by this evening.
a smith innovative connections
Again, each of these winners will be receiving a package of products and shopping sprees donated by all of our participating teacher-bloggers. You three can expect an email notifying you of your win, shortly.
So, here ya go!! 
The winners are:
a Rafflecopter giveaway


Friday, August 24, 2012

Ultimate "Middle Years" Back to School Giveaway/Blog Hop!

By Innovative Connections and Lessons from the Middle!
ARE YOU READY?  Krystal Mills, Lessons from the Middle, and I have teamed up for The Ultimate 
"Middle Years" 
and Blog Hop! 
$300 worth of donations will be given away! 
You're going to love what we have put together for you!!! It's great to connect with such a great group of middle grade teachers and bloggers, gaining new ideas, activities, lessons, tips, etc.! After you see what all has been offered below, you'll find our Rafflecopter Giveaway widget to enter for your chance to win a collection of awesome resources for your new year! Below are the "OH SO SWEET AND GENEROUS" Teacher Bloggers who have helped make this such a spectacular giveaway!
$15 to Spend in Addie's TpT Store!

EVERY PRICED item in Elizabeth's 
Fun in Room 4B TpT Store for FREE! 

$5 Spree in Heidi's TpT Store

Secondary Solutions Blog

$10 Shopping Spree in Madame Aiello's TpT Store!

Scipi's Specials

Homophones: Lessons, Homework, Tests, Writing
Shopping Spree in Andrea's TPT Store for $10

HoJo's Teaching Adventures
$15 Shopping Spree in Hojo's TPT Store
Liz's Lessons
$10 shopping spree to TPT store Liz's Lessons

$20 shopping spree in Tracee Orman's TPT Store

The Tutor House
$10 Shopping Spree in Michelle's Making It Teacher's TPT Store
Teaching Rocks!
Loriana Romano, Elita Saulle, and Lisa Papa have donated
 "Your Essential Teacher Binder" 
Classroom Organization Kit (of choice)

Michelle's Dear Mr. Henshaw Comprehension Question Packet
Polkadots and Pencils
Lacie's Data & Probability Scoot Game
Jennifer's Survival of the Fittest Bear Hunt Game
Joy of Teaching
1 Item of Choice from Joy's TpT store!
Any 3 Items from Lori's TPT store!

$15  Shopping Spree in Amy's TpT Store!
Your Choice: 1 Item from Science Penguin's Store!

E-Motive Teaching! Winner's Choice: 1 of Deborah's Free 
TED Talks Viewing Guides!

Teacher´s Clip Art
25 Frames Clipart from Oxana's Store!! 

Confessions of a Teaching Junkie
$10 Worth of Products from Teresa's TpT Store!

Life in Middle School
$15 Shopping Spree in Lauren's TN Store!


Pre-Teen School Friends Clip Art Set by The 3AM Teacher

$25 Shopping Spree to Innovative Connections' TpT Store!

Lessons From The Middle
$25 Shopping Spree to Lessons from the Middle's TpT Store!

Visit my Blog Buddy and ULTIMATE "MIDDLE YEARS" GIVEAWAY/BLOG HOP PARTNER at Lessons from the Middle! Let Krystal know you stopped by and entered this ultimate giveaway!! 
You will love her blog anyway, if you are not already familiar with it. Be sure to subscribe via email and networked blogs so you don't miss out on awesome posts regarding middle grade classroom ideas, tips, activities, lessons! You can bet she'll provide her readers/followers with valuable information to take to the classroom!
Winners will be contacted via email! ;)
a Rafflecopter giveaway

In addition to the giveaway, this is also a BLOG HOP!! Every blog you hop to will be featuring another fabulous middle grade blog! You'll have quite a list of "FAVS"  when you are done checking them out! Don't you love a good excuse to blog stalk?

For those eager to take on and complete the BLOG HOP CHALLENGE, we've put together a pretty cool stash of resources to give you--THANKS to the outstanding bloggers who have been SO gracious to donate to this event! I hope you are pumped. I am!! If you like incorporating new and exiting ideas and resources into your daily lessons, or just like to find out about other great teaching blogs, I challenge you!! 

Below are all blogs in the blog hop! Now, get to hopping!!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

An Influential Novel for ANY Teacher or Student!

Today's post is meant to share a speck of an experience in the classroom and its relevance to a great book that would've been quite advantageous for me to have read years ago.
I am writing because ever since I read the novel MOCKINGBIRD by Kathryn Erskine, I have thought so many times about one particular student I had several years ago and how I wish I had read this book prior to that school year. So, if it encourages another teacher out there to read the book or study up on Asperger's Syndrome, then my post is worth it! If nothing else,  pretend I'm writing in my online journal today and never intended to offend anyone that may find this a sensitive subject! :)

Several years ago, I taught a middle school student with Asperger's Syndrome. It was my first experience with a child who had AS. I think I would have been a far better teacher back then if I had only had the same perspective that I do now. 

A part of me wants to know why teachers (at least in my state) aren't required to take certain classes in this area. There's so much to be learned.
Nevertheless, with no background knowledge/experiences, no advice or suggestions, and nothing really of use from the parent, I just learned on my own how he worked, what made him tick, what his talents were, things that disturbed him, and things that he may/may not be comfortable doing. He was a very intelligent student, and, my oh my, he was quite an artist!!
My class was a good one, so I didn't have to deal with any immaturity from other students bullying him. They'd all been going to school together for quite a few years at that point, as it was a smaller school zone.
Sadly enough, too many students are bullied for 100s of reasons!  (Reasons IN THE EYES of The Bully anyway!)
That year came and went, and all went as well as I could have expected at the time--with a few meetings here and there I'd requested. I basically felt not "in the know," and I LIKE TO BE "in the know" about my kiddos needs!
I say that year went just "okay" because I would have felt more in tune with how my student perceived things and communicated with others if I'd had the chance to get into the mind of a child with AS as I did when reading Mockingbird.
The story is told from Caitlyn's point of view. Caitlyn is a young girl with AS. She is in search of closure after the death of her big brother who was killed in a school shooting. Through Caitlyn's eyes, the reader is able to really understand how one with AS perceives things or how one may interact differently with peers.
I don't want to say too much, as it's a great book you should read for yourself. But, I feel as though I have gained so much just from reading Erskine's novel. 
Again, the novel that gave me a new (or clear) perspective is Kathryn Erskine's Mockingbird.
Currently, it is a summer reading book for my language arts class. However, this novel is not a difficult read and would be suitable and beneficial for students in grades 5-9---REALLY....there is so much to be learned from it!
FYI: Should you be interested in checking out the book to possibly purchase, click on the  Amazon book link at the end of this post!
Because I was so taken with this book, I went on to create several resources to use with it. I finished them this summer, and they are loaded in my online stores (TpT and TN)---If you are interested check them out:

A Literature Guide for Mockingbird

mockingbird by kathryn erskine

These items link to my TpT Store but you can find the individual resources in my TN shop! (Icon in top right sidebar!)
I would love to know your experiences that relate to this post!
Have you had the opportunity to develop new perspectives on life/social interaction or just to be exposed and enlightened by precious students in your classroom? Tell me about it!
Be well!
a smith

Monday, August 20, 2012

KinderKay of Love Those Kinders, Innovative Teacher-Author and Back to School Freebie!

Love Those Kinders!

Learn a little bit about this fabulous teacher-author-blogger!! 
Welcome, KinderKay!

Classroom Experience:
I have been teaching for 24 years! Wow! It is hard to believe that many years have gone by! I taught second grade for 7 years and thought that was the perfect grade for me. Then my children came along and I became a stay at home Mom which I thought I would be doing for the rest of my life. But this was not to be the case! One evening as I was finishing up the dishes, I received a phone call from our priest. He told me that he wanted to start a kindergarten and that he wanted ME to be the first teacher. Now get this.... It was June and he wanted it going by August! There was nothing - no books, no table, no chairs, not even a classroom! He had ordered a portable classroom that hadn't even arrived yet! Yikes! Only a crazy person would take this job, right?? Well, I took it and here I am.... 18 years later and LOVING it! Since then, we have built a new wing for our kindergarten and I now reside in what the rest of the school calls "the palace!"

Valuable info learned...beneficial to teachers/teacher-authors, bloggersOh gosh, since joining TPT in June of 2011, my whole teaching life has been transformed! Before becoming a part of TPT, I thought I was a good teacher, but I didn't realize how sheltered I had become. Some of it, of course, was from teaching in a private school. But much of it was from the fact that the only teachers in which I shared experiences with were from our local area. I am not saying that I did not grow as a teacher, but being able to bounce ideas off of other teachers from around the country (and other countries) has enabled me to become more focused on the changing needs of my students. When I started a blog in January of 2012, I found even more of an opportunity to improve myself as a professional. For example, I participated in a book study this summer with other kindergarten teachers as we explored how to implement the Daily 5 into our literacy curriculum. My blog gave me the opportunity to learn this new skill and now my students will benefit from the knowledge that I have gained!

Advice for a beginning or veteran teacher?
Be flexible and accept the fact that your students may know more than you know! Instead of getting upset about this, rejoice in it! As teachers it is our job to inspire and guide, but after we have done that, we have to let our students turn our lesson into something that becomes their own!

Great ideas, lessons, or pieces of advice learned from other blog(s): I have learned so much from SO MANY blogs! There are so many really, really GOOD teaching blogs around! I guess the thing that I have learned the most from all of them is how to organize my classroom. Being able to find materials when needed has always been a weakness of mine, so reading blogs that show how to organize a classroom have been so helpful. The biggest help I have received, I think, are the classroom library bin labels. I am presently re-designing my library and these labels will come in SO handy!

free download teaching blog postA Freebie KinderKay Has Chosen to Share! 
I have quite a few freebies to offer! I really believe in sharing and also love FREE things myself!Here is one for Back to School...

KinderKay's Online store---Check it Out!
Teachers Pay Teachers

Helpful Hints for Classroom:
Hmmm... This is hard, but I think the thing that makes me unique is how I try to bring Art into our everyday curriculum. I truly believe that children learn by doing and with all the curriculum changes that are occurring in our nation, the arts have slowly been replaced. So in order to give my students a taste of the world around them, I encourage them to use pencils, crayons, scissors, glue, and paint in their daily activities. For example, instead of giving them a printed worksheet of a plant to color and label, I show them how to DRAW the flower and then label its parts. Instead of giving them a pattern to trace and color, I show them how to create their picture using simple shapes and step-by-step illustrations. When children create their own illustrations, learning becomes real for them and they feel some ownership in their school journey.

Something cool, weird, funny about you, OUTSIDE the classroom: Let's see...My husband thinks I am weird because I like to eat sweet pickles wrapped in cheese and I put ketchup on my scrambled eggs! I take water aerobics classes and love lakes and boating even though I am petrified of water! I am afraid of cows even though my husband is a farmer and has a herd of them! I can sit hours watching the birds in my bird feeder! I love to use drawing and cutting in many of my lessons. I would so much rather sew, paint, draw, cut, or work in my garden than do household chores - yuck! :) My favorite vacation is spending a few days enjoying Lake Michigan!

Connect with KinderKay...
I just started a Facebook page in June and have no idea how to use it yet! But, This is what keeps our brain active, correct? Learning new things!
Visit KinderKay on Facebook
Here is my Pinterest link
I love Pinterest! 

I would like to say THANKS to Cindy, for sharing her ideas and freebie with us!  Be sure to swing by her blog, Love Those Kinders, and/or her store to see all of the other teaching resources she has! Please leave a comment below to let her know you stopped by and picked up some helpful info and her awesome free download! Show some love! 
Oh, I must also admit, I love Pinterest TOO, just like KinderKay!!!

Do you have a favorite idea, tip, or activity that you've found on another blog? Share it below!! We love to find and share new ideas, so give us one--maybe the blog name if you remember too!
A Smith Innovative Teacher Author Post KinderKay Love Those Kinders

Sunday, August 19, 2012

The Best Education Blog Award Mystery!

connect-a-blog outstanding educator, teacher, author, blogger, a smith
I love it that some go the extra mile to let you know when you are doing a great job. I feel special to have received this great new badge to proudly add to my blog from an outstanding educator, author, teacher, blogger, and.....That is all I can tell you, folks! The rest is to remain a mystery!!
No passing the award to a list of peeps with rules or anything...I'm just posting about it and bragging on this new badge I received! 
I want to THANK a very special, outstanding "secret someone" for such a lovely gesture!!!
Toodles,  Everyone!!! Have a LOVELY Sunday night and great week!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Students Back Full Force, and a Humorous Read!

So, it seems like I was just freaking out that school was about to start! Now, we are full force with lessons, daily activities, etc.!
This past week we spent some time reviewing the parts of speech. Well, okay, so we've been working for a week and a half and will continue with this next week! :) Gotta learn those parts of speech, ya know???
Anyway, I wanted to share what we did Friday. I do not know where the idea came from. Had I invented it myself, it would be a freebie I'd share with you. However, I'm sure many language arts teachers have done something similar!

Parts of Speech Poem:
1st: Give the students the Parts of Speech Poem Framework they will use to compose their own poems.
Innovative Connections

2nd: Provide an example. Here's one for you if you want to use it...

3rd: Let their imaginations create some creative poems that follow the framework given.

4th: Of course, encourage them to make it visually creative! That's always a nice addition and it takes away from the humdrum of a parts of speech practice. Plus, creatively displayed poems make for perfect wall hangings....you know you want to plaster their awesome work on your walls!
I'll have to share the results with you come next week!
I searched and searched for my poems from last year that I kept for samples!! What do ya know...I can't find them! And, to top it off, one sample featured my Alma mater's  mascot that one of my boys did! Go Dawgs!! Gotta find them. Until then, hope you can incorporate this into your parts of speech lessons/reviews.

Now, for a little something funny...for the teacher! Not the student! :)
poems about students, teachers, school, and educationCheryl Thurston's Hide You Ex-Lax Under the Wheaties: Poems about schools, teachers, kids, and education---Check it out, you might like it!

What's a funny moment you can recall? We ALL have them! Tell us a quick and funny moment that's perfect for adding to your own book about teachers, students, etc.

Happy Saturday!
A Smith Innovative Connections language arts

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