Saturday, June 30, 2012

Give Your Bulletin Board a Makeover!

Okay, so after I randomly decided to move bookshelves to another wall, I decided to paint my office/living room area! That turned into hating the ugly and plain bulletin board I had in it. So, I began pulling out paints from the mudroom!
bookshelves to another wall
Bulletin Board Before 
pulling out paints from the mudroom
Painted Board with Primer, Frame with Patina Blue
Added some swirls and circles...a little trim at top and bottom
Now I'm thinking, I'm putting this in my classroom. Maybe I'll make a place to hang an agenda, make up work notes to students, activity schedule, or some other type things...I could use it for centers, etc. Really, there's always tons of things you need a bulletin board for in your room right?

I thought I would share what I ended up with! It also got me started working on more labels for organizing and other things!
Innovative ConnectionsOkay--So, I'm heading back to tackle a black cabinet! Wanting to paint it now too! wonder my husband has been gone all day. Ha! 
Have a great rest of the weekend!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Writing Prompt Printable Inspired by "Take Your Dog to Work" Day!

I'm a little late getting this posted....Trust me, I was getting it all ready in time, but, one thing leads to another around here, and I ended up working in the yard all day yesterday and spent day on the lake today--and broken down in the boat!!! Experiences!! Next I know, it's Saturday night! 
Anyway, Friday, June 22, 2012, was designated as "Take Your Dog to Work Day!" How cool is that? I guess not very if you don't have dogs or if you are not an animal person, but I am! That's actually the understatement of the century. I have too many pets! Yes, I could tell dog tales and cat tales all day long. 
How about getting your kiddos to write a cat tale or dog tale? Or, any other animal tale for that matter always makes for a good impromptu writing assignment! The designated day inspired me to create a quick printable that can be used whenever! 
illustrate main event innovative connections Tells n' Tails n' Tales: "The Time My ______ and I....."  AND Let them do the rest. I included a little section for them to illustrate the main event of the "tale" they are "telling"--- :) Here's a free printable to download if you'd like it!
And, why not go ahead and have a quick "homophone" mini-lesson?
                              What's your favorite writing prompt you've ever assigned????

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Anticipation Guides in Kindergarten?

I'm thrilled to welcome Heather of Krazy About Kindy as a Guest Blogger today!

Krazy about Kindy Guest Post on Innovative Connections
Hi, Everyone!

This is Heather from Krazy about Kindy. I am so happy to be guest blogging today at Innovative Connections. A little background: I am currently working on my Master's Degree. In one of my courses they discussed anticipation guides. Being a kindergarten teacher, I had never heard of an anticipation guide.

An anticipation guide is an activity that is done at the beginning of a unit. You present students with four to six statements. Some statements are true and some are false. The students will guess which statements are true and which are false. Then, at the end of the unit, you revisit the anticipation guide and discuss whether the students were correct.

I could also see this being used as a form of assessment.

If I were using an anticipation guide, I would introduce it on chart paper. We would go over it whole group. Let's pretend it is the first day of school, and I am beginning my welcome to school unit. It would look something like this:
Heather Bridges of Krazy About Kindy Innovative Connections
We would discuss each statement and the class would decide if the statements were true or false. If they think the statement is true, color in the smiling face. If they think the statement is false, color in the sad face. After reading books and doing other fun learning activities, I would give each student a copy of the anticipation guide. I would read the statements and the students would color in the faces. I could take them up to use as an assessment. Then, we would go over the first anticipation guide and students could compare their answers.

I love the idea of using anticipation guides in Kindergarten! They activate prior knowledge at the beginning of a unit, as well as, are a great assessment tool at the end of a unit.

Now for a FREEBIE! I have made a blank anticipation guide for you to use. Enjoy!
An anticipation guide is an activity that is done at the beginning of a unit.

Have a great day!
activate prior knowledge at the beginning of a unit
Thanks to Heather for sharing this great info and freebie with us! Please leave Heather a little note below letting her know you stopped by, and feel free to tell us about incorporating anticipation guides into your lessons! We'd love to hear from you!

Friday, June 15, 2012

Ideas to Keep Kids Engaged This Summer

Welcome to the Fishing For Ideas Extravaganza!!
Here's a great link up hosted by Robin Sellers of Sweet Tea Classroom! Several super education bloggers are working together from June 14th through June 20th--that's Flag Day through the first day of Summer and includes Father's Day and Fishing Day in between. 
Check out lots of special teaching resources, giveaways, sales at our Teachers Pay Teachers stores, sales at our Teachers Notebook stores, freebies, and more. 
Are you ready to go fishing for ideas?

Swing by to check out several NEWLY added items in my Teacher's Notebook Shop! They are on sale through the 20th! Some of the ON SALE Items are below, but check out the others in my TN Shop!
Fishing for Ideas Extravaganza Sale Innovative Connections
First Person Point of View (From an ANIMAL'S Point fo View!)

Teach Personification with Creative Writing!!
Grab This Holiday Item Now Instead of Paying FULL Price Later!
Flag Day through the First Day of Summer!
Writing Prompt Part 1 of 2 Parts--BOTH on Sale!
Robin Sellers A+ Collaboraters
SmartNotebook for Reviewing Parts of a Sentence and Functions!
Student Printable of Above Notebook Item!
For those without Smartboards  or to use with the Notebook File!
  Also, you can grab multiple FREE teaching resources in my TN or TPT Stores! Hope you enjoy!


Swing by other blogs participating in 

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Snatch Some Valuable Info and Learn from a Fab Innovative Teacher-Author!

Get to Know  
Rachel Friedrich of Sub Hub 
Snatch Some Valuable Info and Learn from a Fab Innovative Teacher-Author!
Visit Sub Hub's Blog!
A Little Bit About This Innovative Teacher-Author from San Antonio, Texas... 
"I'm married to a wonderful man and have been for nearly 18 years! We have 2 beautiful children, a dog and a cat. My husband is also a teacher, so it runs through our blood! In the classroom, I am commonly known as the "baby teacher" because I do a lot of long-term sub positions for teachers on maternity leave. I also was a journalist for 12 years before I decided to go back to school for my teaching degree and certification. Because of this, I love to teach writing!"

Classroom Experience:
“I have been a substitute teacher for grades K-5 for 4 years.”

Some valuable things you've learned that would benefit other teachers, teacher-authors, or bloggers:
“I have learned that there is a huge resource of other teachers out there who are willing to share ideas, strategies, and solutions.”

Something cool, weird, or funny about you, OUTSIDE of the classroom:
“I love to sing and dance, but I do both very badly." J  

Advice for a beginning teacher? A Veteran Teacher?
"Don't be hesitant to ask questions. New teachers have lots of questions, and you should! Veteran teachers should continue to ask questions so that they continue to grow as teachers."

ONE great idea, lesson, or piece of advice learned from another blog:
“There was a wonderful lesson about fraction sundaes that I used with second graders. It worked so well. The students loved that it was ice cream and it really drove home the point of fractions!”

Here's a Cool Freebie Full of Reading and Writing Skills that Sub Hub Picked to Share with You! 
(Below are a few pics from the unit.)
Teachers Pay Teachers Free Teaching Resources for Substitutes
by SubHub
How Characters Change Over Time
Connections Chart, Cause and Effect, reading and writing skills
A Connections Chart
A TpT Freebie Rachel has Shared with You!
Cause and Effect Chart

At what online marketplaces/vendors does this talented teacher-author have stores?

A Helpful Hint for the Classroom:
"I use decorative hole punches and sticky notes for classroom management. I give the students a sticky note in the morning that they can write their name on and decorate. Then as they are showing good behavior, I give them hole punches. My favorite punch to use is a little frog one. At the end of the day, students in the top group get to choose from the prize box. It works really well for one-day subs."

How Can Other Teachers/Bloggers/Authors Stay Connected with Sub Hub?
Twitter   Pinterest   
I would like to say THANKS to Rachel, for sharing your ideas and freebie with us! I totally bet she can both "dance" and "sing" too! ;) Be sure to swing by her blog and/or her store to see the goodies she has to offer! 
* Please, feel free to leave Rachel a comment below to show her some love and that you stopped by to read up about her! 
She'll love knowing that you picked up a few valuable pieces of info as well as her awesome freebie!! 
Have a great day!
Advice for a beginning teacher? Advice for A Veteran Teacher?

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Your Opinion of Summer Reading Novels?

Updated my post because I saw the awesome "Whatcha Reading" Linky at Mrs. Stanford's Class Blog that she'd joined on Mrs. Bainbridges's Class Blog! Great linky and book titles everywhere!!! 

Be sure to swing by both blogs! Images link to them!
Below is the post I wrote on Summer Reading Novels and What I WANT to Read this Summer! Hope you enjoy you reading time this Summer too!
What book to read first.....Of course, there are a few I need to read again for school (summer reading), but there are others that I'd like to read to see if I want to incorporate them into my units! Just maybe I will squeeze in a new title or two next year. And Of couse, I have a few others for leisure sitting on the shelf, just waiting!
 Decisions, decisions!
Warning, a little rant involved below...
These are for my upcoming 8th graders' summer reading. They read at least 1, and our higher level English must read The Light in the Forest + 1. 
School Reads for EnglishStudent choice or complex textshistorical fiction required title in 7th-12th grades
Catching Fire, Heart of a Champion, and Mockingbird are all great reads---quick reads. I very much enjoyed all of them! Two of them I'm digging deeper into for teaching guides of my own. Heart of a Champion tends to be what 50% of the guys pick (even though I loved it), and Mockingbird seems to be what 50% of the girls pick. (Do ya think they judge a book by its cover??) 
We all know the craze on Catching Fire! I predict it to be the top choice. Last year, we used The Hunger Games. Since it's now a movie too, we switched to Catching Fire! At least we're trying to keep them from just watching the movie!
The Light in the Forest is the "classic" in this bunch. It's a great historical fiction novel that gives an individual a little perspective.  I'm assuming lots of schools require this title at some point between 7th-12th grade in the United States...Right?  It would be the most "complex" text of the four we've given as choices. It is included exactly for that reason. It has been a nice tool, a deciding factor for the student, as far as who takes on the challenge of Pre-AP English or who switches back to regular level English during the Summer. So many students don't/won't read if they are not "into" the book, which I guess I can understand. I remember those days. some point, we (they) gotta comprehend text we (they) don't "WANT" to read but "MUST" read. That's life. A lack of desire to read a more complex text that isn't what they'd select tends to make them question if up for the challenge of an advanced class. I think that's something they should ponder! If they are not up for the extra challenge, then they should take the regular English level class. It's not fair, to the ones that have a desire to produce the WOW factor in their work, to allow others without the desire to be credited with a Pre-AP status if that's not what they are willing to deliver. JMO! 
In no form or fashion do I condone watering down regular English---it's just as it's called- Regular...The Normal/Standard 8th Grade English Class. (SO I'm Rambling! I know!) Nevertheless, the very touching novel actually has a lot to offer and teaches us quite a bit about racial/cultural views in the 1700s-Colonial America time period. That should be at least slightly important to people---I hope.  I was rather irritated with bashing comments in regards to this novel on a particular web site. It baffles me that many out there find 0 interest in heritage, background, history, culture, religion, etc. This book seems to be either loved or hated whenever I seek students' opinions come early August, which is why I'm offering up a little of my two cents. The fact that some like it and others can't stand it makes me look into reviews by common readers (not experts so much) to get their opinions. 
If I may say, the comment that really bugged me about the book included, "...another novel....ruined by overzealous junior high English teachers..." REALLY??????  I'd like to know more opinions from teachers about the book. Have you read it? If so, what did you think?
It's been a while since I was teaching 5th grade and under, so I really don't know what you guys require of your kiddos, or your districts anyway. 4th/5th grade Teachers?? Do you guys require summer reading?
For 6th, 7th, 8th, & 9th grades, I'd be interested to hear from you what book(s) you require your students to read that are not necessarily at the top of the students' list of choices.

ON TO MY LEISURE READS...Books I'm READING  this summer:
Hunger Games Fanatics1st: The Taker by Alma Katsu--UPDATE: READ IT! STARTING BOOK #2 in this trilogy now!! (Adult Content)
I've only just begun this book and, so far, it's definitely not what I'd suggest my middle school kids to read. However, that doesn't change the fact that it was given to me by one of my avid readers. This book is one of a TRILOGY! --I love trilogies and series...The first couple of books can't disappoint me too much because I technically don't know how things are going to turn out for certain! So, I'm extra eager to read the next!

By the way, I hate getting to the end of an awesome book. Honestly, how does that even make sense? Of course I want to finish an awesome book....I just don't want it to be over yet! Aggh! Does anyone else feel like this?
Innovative Connections Ann Marie Smith

2nd: Personal Demons by Lisa Desrochers
(Jana of Thinking Out Loud told me this book is also one in a tiliogy!!)

3rd: Starters by Lissa Price UPDATE: READ IT! It's a good read! 
This is the book supposedly for those that loved The Hunger Games---lots of similarities--I'm ready to read Enders!
This book's sequel, Enders, is supposed to be released December 2012.

What you are reading this summer, for leisure and for school! I'd like to hear from a variety of grade levels?

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

June is Already Here? What Have I Been Doing...

Currently Link up at Oh' Boy Fourth Grade on Innovative ConnectionsWell, CURRENTLY, I am participating in a fab link up by Farley's Oh' Boy Fourth Grade
I first read a "Currently" post on Jana's blog, Thinking Out Loud (Thanks for linking up all these times Jana-:)), and have read them the last several times she's posted. I thought they were pretty cool! 
What a great post and link up to do! Swing by to holler at Farley and see what others are "currently" up to---It's pretty neat to read up on bloggers that we all "stalk!" I find there are lots of neat little things to be learned and find I have many things in common with others too! So, head over and show Farley some love!

Now, here's my "Currently" for June!
Innovative Connections

Thanks to FARLEY for doing the Currently Link Up! 
So, my readers, head over and see what all of your blogger buds are up to these hot summer days...YES, stinkin' HOT in MS! 
Have a great rest of the week! I better be wined and dined tomorrow! Our 3rd Wedding Anniversary...WHERE DOES THE TIME GO???
where does the time go June already?

Sunday, June 03, 2012

Add Flavor to Your Class Writing Adventures

Everyone likes to have another stash of writing prompts on hand, right?
After recently uploading Part 2 of my Writing Adventures Task Cards, I thought I would share with you the previews for each, just in case you are not a store follower at TpT or haven't visited lately! Both sets (Part 1 and Part 2) contain 36 prompt cards and Part 2 also contains an additional size of the same prompts, each prompt on its own full sized page to project on your activboard or to print for centers, etc. 
Download the previews straight from Google Docs by clicking the images below!
Writing Adventures Task Cards Part 1Writing Adventures Task Cards Part 2
If you are interested in the full versions, click here for Part 1 and Part 2!
Reasons for Using Ransom Writing Prompts?
They make perfect...
Exit Slips
Writing Centers
Challenge Activities
Fast Finisher Enrichments
and on and on and on...
NOT TO MENTION, they open minds and get imaginations flowing!

I'll email a set for free to the first 3 followers that leave a comment telling me how they can incorporate these prompt cards into their lessons! 

Just be sure to leave an email for me to send them to and if you'd like Part 1 or Part 2.....
I'd also love to hear your unique strategies for incorporating journal writing or other writing activities in your class!

Journal Writing Activities in Class

Friday, June 01, 2012

You Know It's Summer Vacation Time When...

Here's a fun little link up hosted by Kindergarten Lifestyle that will get you in Summer Vacation mode for sure! Be sure to stop by her blog to see more of these TOTALLY true yet cute sayings and show her blog some love while you're there!

Kindergarten Lifestyle

And now for my contribution to "It's Totally Summer Vacation Time When..."

Check out her blog for all other blogs linked up too!!

Ann Marie

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