Tutorial: Landscape AND Portrait in ppt!

Are you a powerpoint-designing teacher at heart? Do you just love the ease with which the graphics fly over the pages of your ppt slides? Do you smile with delight at your ability to whip up the cutest little docs in a matter of minutes? Does your love of Powerpoint only stop when it comes to the fact that it's just not made to have both landscape and portrait in one file??

Well, there are a couple of ways to get around this, actually, and one of our very favorites is grouping. I say "our" because my bff sister Melissa (over at Fashion Craze, Learning Days) was the one who first showed grouping to me, back when she was starting out blogging. And we've both been grouping-crazy ever since!

Grouping is great! Not only does it allow you to change the layout of your slides, it also gives you some other great designing options. Would you like to learn more? Just take a peek at the video below...
Thank you for watching! Do you have any favorite tips for Powerpoint-designing you would like to share with us? :)

Technology for the New Year!

Hey everyone! I am linking up with the wonderful Kathleen from Growing Kinders for a resolution linky party...all about technology! That's my favorite topic (did you know that? haha!).

Before I get to my resolutions, here are some ways we use technology in class...some I've used for years, others are more recent acquisitions. All are vital to my teaching at this point!

Computer Projector and Document Camera
and speakers...sometimes. The computer projector comes from my school, we have a bunch and I am very, very lucky to be able to use mine every day. I've been doing this for years and really would be a wreck without it!

We project interactive websites, graphic organizers, student work...just about everything we can project!

And that's thanks to the document camera. I actually have two cameras I alternate between because both are great. The one shown above is the IPEVO (I know I've blogged about it a couple of times in the past--it's a great little affordable camera). I bought it because I wanted access to the camera every day, without having to share it (how unteacherly of me!!). I  love it!

I also use the Luna Projection Camera from Learning Resources (I blogged about this one last year)...
which is a really nice camera as well! Love both of them!

Our school has a cart of these wonderful computers and our class uses them as much as possible...and when we have them, we'll use them in all subject areas. Such as the stopwatch you see above...we used it for a science experiment this past fall.

We use websites, word processing, videos, pretty much anything you can do with the MacBooks.

Ok, on to the resolutions!

Well...have I told you this yet?? I finally got my iPad!! I absolutely adore it and have been using it for home/school, rather than lugging my precious MacBook Pro (I'm always worried something will happen to all my files when I bring it to school!).

I've only just started using the iPad in the class with my students. I've downloaded Storia and we've listened to a few stories...we've given Spelling City a whirl (we unanimously prefer the app to the website in our class!), and am on the hunt for more. Apps. And iPads, as a matter of fact!

Do you have any apps to share with a new-to-apps girl? Anything you love for your upper-elementary and/or EL newcomers?

My other resolution (besides finding more apps) is to get my iPad hooked up to the computer projector, so we can enjoy the use (and beautiful retina display!) together as a class

My final technological resolution involves Powerpoint, oddly enough. 
I've become very comfortable in using it to create printables for my class and store. Comfortable enough, in fact, that I'd like to teach my students to use Powerpoint when they finalize their nonfiction writing pieces later this winter.

We always word process these writing pieces and it's a great experience, but I have a bigger vision for this year! I want to teach the students to use Powerpoint and build their nonfiction pieces to look as a kid's nonfiction text would look...you know with the sidebars, fact boxes, photographs? Not as a slideshow, but as a work to be printed. 

I know it would be so much easier for them to manipulate this on Powerpoint. But it's going to take a bit of work to teach the whole class, so that is one big techy resolution for me this January!

Oooo...do you think I should make a video tutorial for my students? I wonder how that would work?

Well, if you have any advice/suggestions on apps, I would love to hear it. Thanks so much for reading :)

Affordable Dry Erase Board

Hi everyone...I wanted to thank you for the sweet words of wisdom the other day. I read your comments again and again. I cherish your advice and thoughts more than I can express.

I have a lot of little things to share from our classroom...and now we are on break so I can get started. :)

For some reason, I always find myself giving my room an uplift this time of year. Must be because that lovely month of organization is close at hand--January!

I've been looking around the room and re-purposing some items and downsizing others...like my old showerboard/dry erase board:
(That's an old picture...the board isn't looking so great these days, it's all markerish now). 

So one of our newest additions to the class is a new whiteboard...of sorts:
They're are actually little whiteboard panels I lined up and hot glued to our bulletin board. 

And do you know what they are made of?

They are those foam boards used for presentations, but with a dry erase surface! (Do you ever get an idea in your head about something, google it, and find that it actually exists?? Best feeling!). You can see them here: Elmer's Dry Erase Foam Boards.

These boards come in packs of two, are very light-weight, and can be configured in a number of different ways. The three lined up together are the perfect size for us to use for notes or with our computer projector...
(They're not as crooked as they look in this picture, I promise, though they definitely aren't perfect...I've been working on letting go of my type-A tendencies, haha!)

The dry erase surface is better than I even expected and erases very nicely (we use those Mr. Clean Magic Erasers). 

The only downfall? We have to be careful of the cracks between each board...if they get too much marker on them, they may not erase (since they're at the very edge of that foam board). We've talked about this in class and the students are great about not writing over the borders. 

I have some other plans for these boards, which I will be sure to share in the new year. :)

What do you like to use your dry erase boards for?


I've been afraid to break the silence and go back to talking about the silly little things I go on about here. My heart has been so heavy and my thoughts wrapped up in those who have been lost. At school, I've been focusing on enjoying each and every moment this week with my incredible students. 

I really don't know what else to say that hasn't already been said so much more articulately by many others in our blogging community. I do know my perspective is forever altered and I will always strive to keep focus on what truly matters, both in school and out.

Thank you for listening to my jumbled thoughts, dear friends. I will be back to share some new organization and files from our classroom very soon.

Silence for Sandy Hook Elementary



My heart aches for those in Newton, Connecticut...my thoughts are with you.

Meeting Notes (file to share)

Confession time: Even though my All-in-One Teacher Binder from 2011 was a huge help for me last year, I actually never implemented it this year. 


I really have no excuse, except that I ran out of time...I got behind in things while planning for my new class this year. But I have to tell you, I feel like I'm becoming quite scattered without it. 

So, last week, I started to put the binder back together. And I hope to have pictures and items to share from it very soon. 

Actually, I do have one to share right now...

An updated Meeting Notes page! This little guy was a life-saver last year. For our recertification, we need to refer back to all of those PLCs and various other meetings and professional development and, if you're anything like me, it can be hard to recall all those little details discussed while you're frantically thinking ahead to the class you're about to teach in 7 minutes or whether, in fact, you will have time to make a mad dash to the restroom before picking your class up for specials.

So this is really just a makeover of the template that worked really well for me last year. The two boxes were the perfect space for the notes during the meetings, so I kept that the same. I did add in a place for the month at the top, so it would be easier to keep my notes sorted.

If you would like to grab a copy for yourself, the image below will take you to a download in my store...
In separate (but related news!) I am getting an iPad this week!!!!! As in Wednesday!!!! So I'm wondering if this sheet will become obsolete for me? I'm torn because I do love to jot down notes on cliparty paper...but the call of the tech is too strong I think!

How do you keep your notes from meetings? Computer? iPad? Paper? Thanks for visiting! :)

Fonts and Graphics by Miss Tiina at www.misstiina.com

December Classroom Calendar (file to share)

Happy weekend everyone! And Happy December!! I can't believe it's this time of year already...feels like we were all just planning out our classroom designs in the summer heat!

Well, speaking of classroom designs, I wanted to share a file for the month of December--as a thank you for all of the love and support you have shown for the Bright & Clear Decor I've blogged about these past months.

I'm hoping to share a new calendar set each month, if you are interested in downloading a different design each time. 

The calendar for December is made to coordinate with the Bright & Clear Decor series and features some bright lights (thanks to the fabulous designs of Maree Truelove!). I wanted to make it festive, but not too Christmas-y, so all could enjoy.

This calendar can be laminated, to be used again...

...and so you can share important dates with your students:
(the colors look a little funny--I could not find great lighting today!)

If you would like to download this file, it is in my TpT store...please click the image below:
Would you be interested in more monthly calendars like this? I'd be happy to share a new one each month. Thanks for stopping by! :)

Some fonts in this file by Miss Tiina at www.misstiina.com

Tessellation Angle Measures Challenge! & Sale

Hey everyone! I'm stopping by to share a new product and some sale news. What sale, you may ask? I'm joking of course, you know all about that. But first things first!

My 5th graders have been working away at measuring angles. Those protractors can be tricky, can't they? One of our upcoming lessons is centered around tessellations. Typically, we will complete one of those fun tessellation art projects and the kids do love it. 

This year, however, I wanted something a bit more challenging for my group. A way to learn about tessellations, while focusing on angle measures as we have been throughout this unit. 

So I made a new project...

Tessellation Angle Measures Challenge!! And it is challenging...I've been tessellating and calculating all weekend!

Here's an overview of the activity...

Using regular polygons, students cut out a shape to tessellate:

 They trace and arrange the polygons to form their tessellation shape.
Students trace this shape, then identify all known interior angle measures...

...using two reference sheets to help them:
Then comes the tricky part.

The students must use what they know about the regular polygons they used, plus other geometric knowledge (like three angles of a triangle add up to 180 degrees) to help solve the rest of the angle measures for their tessellation shape:

Of course, they will still complete the fun art aspect at the end :)

But in the meantime, they will be using these resources to think critically about angle measures--and reflect on the strategies they used at the end of the activity.
This pack also includes 16 pages of photos, with step-by-step instructions, to lead your students through the activity...

Tessellation Angle Measures Challenge! is now listed for $4.50 in my TpT store. It will be on sale very soon, thanks to the...

My new file, plus my other items will all be 20% off. For additional savings, you will be able to use the promo code shown above--for 28% off!

Season's Readings will be on sale...
...as well as all the classroom decor in my store. 

I bundled two of the Bright & Clear Decor files into larger packets for additional savings:
These packs have all of the bright decor in one huge file, ready to print and decorate! There is a Zaner-Bloser Alphabet version and a D'Nealian Alphabet version.

Ok...thank you for stopping by and reading through all of that! I can't wait to go shopping tomorrow!!! 

Are you shopping before school or after? I'm not much of a morning person, so it'll be tomorrow evening for me.  :)

Some fonts and all graphics in tessellation file by Miss Tiina at www.misstiina.com
P.S. Thank you E, for all of your help! :)

Happy Thanksgiving!!

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! I wanted to take a moment to say thank you, to so many people who have touched my life through the blogs.

I am so very thankful for each and every one of you, my lovely readers. Thank you for always being there, reading and commenting on my blog. I appreciate your words of support and I really cannot say this enough.

To my sweet bloggy friends, thank you for everything...for your constant inspiration, for your advice, and for making me a better teacher today. I am continually grateful for this blogging community and it is because of you.

Happy Thanksgiving!!! :)

Virtual Owl Pellets (file to share)

Hi!! I want to wish a happy vacation to everyone who is out for the holiday this week! And to the others still in school, I hope you have a lot of fun with your students this week! 

We're in until Wednesday and I'm expecting the holiday excitement to be picking up steam quickly. So. What best to do with a roomful of 5th graders anxiously anticipating a four day weekend?? Dissect owl pellets!!! (At least I hope that's the answer).

I just adore science (you guys know I love raising salmon each year and I'm nuts about our ecosystem bottles). But owl pellets? I have to admit, I've always thought "ew". But the opportunity came up and I didn't want my students to miss the chance.

So, on Tuesday, we will all be dissecting owl pellets for the first time!

In preparation for the dissection, I headed to my trusty MacBook to learn out everything I could...and find something to help my students build some background.

Well, turns out there is a very cool site where you can dissect an owl pellet virtually (ah, the cleanliness of the Internet!). I knew it would be PERFECT for students who were already feeling squeamish...not to mention my newcomer ELL students, who would need some great visuals to know what to expect.

The website? 
It's called KidWings and it is excellent! There's a page to dissect a pellet virtually (this was a HIT with my 5th graders). As the students place the bones on the chart, a computer voice reads the name of each bone...I had a blast watching my students dissect, sort, and repeat those bone names!

But of course, being the mean teacher I am, I made them do some reading and discussion before virtually dissecting.

Because this website also has some nice reading about owl pellets...how they form, what they are made of, why they are important...
I whipped up a quick paper to accompany this reading...
...so my students would be armed with the basic info. before dissecting. Virtually. Which they loved!

We are now very excited and ready for the real dissection on Tuesday! And I will have some more files to share after we finish.

For now, if you'd like to grab the sheet feature above, please click here for the direct download.

Have you ever dissected owl pellets before? Or do you have a favorite science project to share? Perhaps you are on break and not really feeling all dissect-y! No worries, I understand! :)

Font and Graphics by Miss Tiina at www.misstiina.com

A Recipe for a Great Friendship (files to share)

Happy Friday!! I'm here to share a new file this evening. Well, it's actually a spinoff of an old file from last year.

So. Our school reads a book of month and, this month, the book is Enemy Pie. The whole school reads the book and completes a writing piece in relation to the book--it's a lot of fun! 

As for Enemy Pie, the students just LOVE it! Even though most of my 5th graders remember it from last year, they were anxious to hear the story again, which I loved :)

Last year, I shared some different writing options for Enemy Pie (please click here to see the old files). I decided to tweak them a bit, to share here on the blog. There's a basic planning sheet for a Recipe for a Great Friendship...
Along with some lined papers for the writing piece itself (there are two different lined papers...the second page has some larger space between the lines)...
(I bought that clipart specifically for my 5th graders...they love that kind of cartoony, quirky stuff this year!)

I thought this might be a file some could use...either with Enemy Pie or for different units you might cover. If you would like to grab this free file, please click on the image below (it's in my TpT store):
For my class, I decided to do something a bit different from last year's recipe idea.

In Reader's and Writer's Workshop, our focus has been on memoirs. By the end of our study, our students will have written a memoir of their own and all of the mini-lessons in our workshops are tied into this genre right now. 

So I thought I would use Enemy Pie as a springboard for a little memoir writing piece...to keep everything consistent.

The memoirs our students are working on are all focused on a moment in time, not an entire day or series of events. And it can be very challenging for our students to narrow down a moment...it takes a lot of work to get there!

Luckily, our fabulous reading specialist shared some great resources to help in doing so! They are from the book Mentor Texts: Teaching Writing Through Children's Literature, K-6, by Lynne R. Dorfman and Rose Cappelli. One I love in particular is the "inverted triangle" (the one I made for my class looks like this):
This graphic organizer helps the students reflect on the main idea/theme of the book, make a text-to-self connection, then narrow that connection down to a specific memory/moment. 

After reading and discussing Enemy Pie, our inverted triangles took form, from broad themes to a focused writing topic...

making friends/friendship
friends we have or remember
a time/event with this friend
a specific moment with this friend

(Ok, I realize this doesn't look like a triangle and I WISH SO MUCH I could show what my students' work came out like, but we're not allowed to blog their work).

Anyhow, once we narrowed down to those moments, the writing pieces were easy to get going! We've been revising them and I can't wait to see the final results.

What are some of your favorite kinds of graphic organizers to use in writing?? :)

Border, Font, and Graphics by Miss Tiina at www.misstiina.com

Author's Technique Board (printables)

Hi everyone! I'm excited to share a new file with you this evening! And I'm linking up with my very creative friend Tara, over at 4th Grade Frolics for her Monday Made It...
So. This is not my original idea, just something we are using during our study of memoirs in Reader's and Writer's Workshop. 

In my class, we are calling this our Author's Technique Board...
(I used some different phrasing on each poster than the original board I learned about...I wanted to incorporate the word "technique" as we studied various elements).

How does it work?

As we read a book, we make observations of techniques used by the author (for instance, similes in Owl Moon). 

We then name the technique and discussed why it is used. 
We record the current book under "Used in These Books", leaving space for future titles that have this same technique.

The last category is "Try This Technique"...
This part is left open for students' names to be added (on sticky notes) when they have tried the technique. Again, not my original idea, but I know this is going to be so helpful for my class during our Writer's Workshop!

On a final note, I did make the cards small enough to fit on a foam board...

(black to set off the bright, but of course!). I decided to go with this board because, besides the fact I am running out of display space with all of our charts, I love how it's portable and can be moved to the carpet during mini-lessons, or to groups of students when needed.

If you would like to download a copy of this free file, please click on the image below. Please Note: This file is for personal use only...the posters are not meant to be recolored or altered in any way--thanks!
What kinds of displays do you like to use when studying authors' techniques? Thanks so much for visiting!! :)

2012-2013 Day-At-A-Glance Lesson Template

Hi guys! Today I've been reworking my old Day-At-A-Glance Lesson Plan Template from last year. It looked like this...
...and I was very happy with it! So much in fact, I even kept on using it this year. But it did need some tweaking.

So now I have this...
My schedule's pretty different this year and has taken a lot of adjusting (as you might be able to see from the notes above). The biggest changes I made are the boxes for Opening, Work Period, and Closing. I wanted it to be easier to see when I was going over my plan for the day...instead of a bunch of writing squished into one box (like I had last year). I'm hoping this will help.

I know everyone's schedule is so different, but in case you would like a template to rearrange to your liking, I've shared it below (it's  a Powerpoint file).

If you'd like to use the same fonts, they are Belly Button Innie and Coffee Shoppe Espresso.

And here's the file...

Thanks for visiting!

Blogging in the Classroom

Hi everyone! I'm really excited to share some information about blogging in my 5th grade classroom this year!

Blogging is something I've done in the past with my classes, usually tied into to Reader's Workshop (through reader's responses). Our blogging back then was pretty limited because the website we were using was a bit tough for the students to navigate and utilize.

This year, I was fortunate to stumble upon the free service Kidblog. It is excellent and so easy to use! (I was not asked to advertise this site...I'm just sharing information because it is great!).

Here are some benefits to Kidblog...
  • It's secure...only the students, teachers, administrators, and parents can see the class blog. 
  • It's easy to set up. There is a Dashboard (under the Control Panel) for teachers to manage posts, student blogs, student passwords, and make customizations.
  • The blogging interface is pretty intuitive (it reminds me of Blogger):
(it lets you upload media as well...which is great because you can include pictures!)
  • It's visually appealing to the students (can you guess how much they loved choosing an avatar??)...
You can also choose a template for your blog AND the students can choose their own designs for their individual blogs...
...which leads me to the best part! The home page is the class blog itself, where everyone can comment. But each student can also have their OWN individual blog (kind of a branch off of the class blog) which is fantastic for those reader's responses!
Well, that might be the best part, but there is a bit more.

Since it's so easy to use, we've actually been using the class blog as a reflective tool in other subjects.

Such as review and extension in Writer's Workshop...

Reflection on strategies used in Math...
And responses to text (those I can't show because they are student work).

We're really just in the beginning stages of blogging this year (we got a bit off track during state testing!) but I have a lot of plans to incorporate this within all subjects throughout the year.

On a separate but related sidenote...I've noticed a huge increase in my students' abilities (both in word processing and general navigation) on computers, even compared to my classes just a few years back. Technology is so embedded in their lives at home (even more than it was previously) which is why this blogging in the classroom is so important to me. 

Have you blogged with your students in class? Or do you have a different technological learning tool you love to use with your students?
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