Thursday, September 21, 2017

Zooming in on Word Choice!

This week I got a *little* bit ahead of myself and excitedly started teaching a lesson on Wednesday, that I had lesson-planned for the following week!  I didn't realize this until a colleague of mine sent out a great idea for a lesson on character traits!  It was at that moment that I realized I taught about character traits on Monday and Tuesday.  On Wednesday I excitedly taught my students about Zooming in on Word Choice and looking for "juicy" words!!  Oy Vey!  It's been a long week!!  Thank goodness tomorrow is Friday!

The upside is, my students are already prepared, with that little preview, of what's to come next week in reading class!!

To start off the lesson {don't make fun of my artistic ability...or lack thereof!} I drew a full pizza.  Students quickly identified it as a "pepperoni and sausage pizza!!"

I then said, "I'm so excited that you were able to identify what I was drawing!  Now, let's try it again!"

This time I zoomed in and drew a single slice of pepperoni and sausage pizza.  However, I added more detail and included the marinara sauce and the mozzarella cheese.  The students once again identified it as a "slice of pepperoni and sausage pizza!!"

Finally, I zoomed in and drew a single piece of pepperoni.  I added the little tiny speckles that you can see if you look very closely at the pepperoni.  

I used these drawings to explain that we can look at something {words or illustrations} and see the general idea of what the author or illustrator is referring to.  However, the more we ZOOM IN and get closer with JUICY details, the more interesting the item {words or illustrations} actually is.  The more interested we are as a reader, the more likely we are to continue to read.  The more reading we do with JUICY words, the better picture we can paint in our minds.  This is especially true as we get older and our books have less pictures and more words!

After a great discussion, we read the book "Tacky and the Winter Games" by Helen Lester.  I love the Tacky the Penguin books because they are fun, engaging, and usually end with the kids rolling around laughing!  I also love them because the author uses amazing word choice.  It was so easy to show the students how Helen chose JUICY words to really help you understand how silly Tacky was and how hard his teammates were working to train for the Winter Games!

Take a moment and check this book out!

Do you have any great lesson ideas for teaching children about word choice?  Please share in the comments as it is always fun to gain new ideas from others!

Monday, September 18, 2017

Monday Made-It!

I'm linking up with 4th Grade Frolics for my first #MondayMadeIt in a long time!  It feels so good to be "creating" and "sharing" again!!


Each year I try to get a fun, practical, and unique gift for the kids' teachers!  This year, we chose our VERY FAVORITE Epoch Baobab Body Butter by NuSkin to gift our special teachers and my dear friend that helps out with the kiddos before school!  We made these cute little packages for Back-to-School and they were a hit!  You can shop for some amazing products RIGHT HERE!

As we firmed up our daily schedule for the year, I needed to get it posted in the classroom to help me stay on track!  I made these cute Daily Schedule Cards, ran them through the laminator, added magnets to the back, and stuck them on our whiteboard!

We kicked off our first writing activity this year with both 1st and 2nd graders by "Canning Our Summer Memories!"  Students took turns adding some of their favorite summer memories to our "Class Jar" before they began writing their own stories about summer!  It was fun to learn more about my students as we explored what everyone did over the summer!

Each year I make a notebook with some of my favorite memories from the past year.  I am in LOVE with my notebook that I designed this year!  It does such a great job capturing some of our favorite summer highlights!  Order yours from Shutterfly!

Thanks for checking out my favorites for this week's Monday Made-It!

Saturday, September 16, 2017

What's Old, What's New??

So I mentioned in my last blog post that a LOT has changed in the past few years since I posted in 2014!!  And I wasn't kidding!  ;)  The long and short of it is - I went through a yucky divorce, learned a LOT about myself, and am in an amazingly happy, good place right now!  

One thing that I learned is a simple word - BELIEVE - and it's a word that I will hold near and dear to my heart, probably forever!  I must believe in myself first, before I will believe that anyone else could believe in me.  I must believe in my kids so that they know how much value I see in them.  I must believe in those around me, that they are there to help build me up and support me, not tear me down.  

I met and fell in love with an amazing girl and in March, I proposed to her while on our Spring Break trip in Florida.  We had a magical time at Magic Kingdom and just relaxing by the pool for the week!

In May, she surprised me with a unique proposal - and to give me a matching, beautiful ring!!!

We are working on planning our wedding, but have a few of the major decisions made:
* Date:  June 30, 2018
* Venue:  Burl Oaks Golf Course, Minnetrista, MN
* Food:  Deck-side Bar-B-Que
* Entertainment:  Ragtown Vocals (a live band!)
* I bought a dress!!
* I will have my sister, Hannah, stand up with me as my Matron of Honor.
* Jen will have her brother, Josh, stand up with her as her Best Man.
* Jen will have her best friend, Mel, stand up with her as a Bridesmaid.
* Together we will have my children, Kylie & Mason, stand up with us as we take this next step.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Back-to-School 2017

I can't believe we are starting another school year already!  I have to say, a LOT has changed in my life since I last posted in 2015!!!  But I will save that for another blog post!  Today I want to focus on all that is NEW for my school year!

* New School - {Like BRAND, spanking NEW - still
partially under construction!!}
* New Grade(s)
* New Staff
* New Curriculum
* My kids are even at a NEW school this year!

I am teaching at Carver Elementary, in Carver, Minnesota.
For the past year, I have been on the Core Team working to plan, design and prepare this amazing new school for our new students and staff!  I have been honored to work alongside some AMAZING teachers and administrators throughout this entire process!  

We were able to move into our new school on Monday, August 21st!  Boy did that leave me {and others} a wee-bit stressed!  But guess what?!  It all worked out, we moved in and got our classrooms ready to welcome the students!  {Do you see all of that amazing natural light?!  I LOVE MY NEW CLASSROOM!!!}

Workshop week was spent unpacking boxes, attending a few meetings, organizing my classroom, and labeling things to welcome the most *adorable* first and second graders!!

In the end, I am quite proud of this little space that I share with my friends and am so excited to embark on a wonderful journey with all of my colleagues at Carver Elementary!  

But before I leave this post tonight...I need to introduce my Dream Team that helped me get this space ready to go!  Above you'll see my adorable children:  Mason (9.5 yrs old) and Kylie (10.5 yrs old) and my beautiful fiance, Jen!  Jen spent many hours in this room organizing drawers and cupboards that I just "dumped" to get the things out of boxes!!  I really can't thank her enough!

As I headed off to my first days of 1st and 2nd grades, my kiddos started their time at a new school as well.  I unfortunately didn't have them on the first day of school {they were at their dad's house} but I did get them to ROCK some 2nd day of school pictures for me!  They're such good sports!  

Happy Back to School!
I look forward to sharing some of my fun adventures in the classroom with you as well as some of the cool lessons and activities that my kids LOVE!!  I hope if you have a fun activity or idea, you'll share it back with me!

- Ms. McNeely -

Monday, October 19, 2015

Math Story Problems - *{New Product Alert}*

Check it out!  I've got a new product posted in my TPT Store!  Be sure to go and grab the new Math Story Problems while they're FREE!!  This set has been made to be a review for Unit 3 in Math Expressions, Grade 3 curriculum.

Please be sure to leave feedback if you're able to snag up this product while it's FREE (or at the very low, low price of $1.00!)!  I always love reading your kind words!

Here's a sneak peek...
My other Math Story Problem set is probably one of my best sellers!  So, I decided to make a new one for 3rd grade!

Do you like these "Task Card" sized reviews?  I love them and hope to be adding on to my existing sets as time allows!  What kinds of math products would you like to see in the future?  Be sure to comment below!

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Midwest Blogger Meet-Up 2015...and a GIVEAWAY!

Yesterday I had the distinct pleasure of attending the Midwest Blogger Meet-Up!  I had a blast meeting up with other teachers and bloggers from around the Midwest!  Not only was it a great networking and learning opportunity, there were some amazing door prizes, giveaways and we all exchanged 3 of our "favorite things!"

Keep reading until the very end...because I've got some GIVEAWAYS to share!  The first one will be posted right at the end of this blog post!!

When we arrived at the coffee shop, we were greeted by some cute name-tags and the lovely Jameson from Lessons with Coffee and Lindsay from Miss Johnston's Journey.  

We made these fun glyphs that we would later use to introduce ourselves to the group!  As you can see, I'm a 1st - 3rd grade teacher with 23 students in my class.  I've taught for 4+ years and sell on TPT.  I am a blogger from Minnesota.

I loved this idea and think a fun twist on this would make an excellent Christmas gift for my students to make for their parents!  I'll get working on it and post it to my blog when I'm finished!

We had a couple of great presentations by EduCents and Adopt A Classroom.  I can't wait to create an account on both sites and get to work!

After the presentations and introductions, we drew names to pick out of the "Favorite Things" tables.  Each of us brought 3 of our favorite things to share with the other bloggers.  I brought (3) Caribou gift cards!  I am so excited about what I received!!  Check it out below!

Jameson from Lessons with Coffee made the adorable mug with Jameson, Bailey's and coffee!  I also got a fabulous Sharpie pen, post-its, gum and a notepad from a fellow blogger.  My final "favorite" was the Target gift card - which will definitely come in handy!

A little bit later we drew names for some fantastic door prizes that were donated to the Meet-Up!  I was lucky enough to win the (2) sets of planet play-sets that were donated by EduCents!

I'm super excited about this cute t-shirt that I got today!  #PeanutButterAndJealous from Meg's New Box of Crayons

Now it's time to check out all of the SWEET SWAG I received today as well as the SWEET SWAG I have to GIVEAWAY!!  Don't forget to enter the Raffle-Copter at the bottom of this Blog Post!

No Coast = Best Coast T-Shirt by A+ Images

To the world you may just be a teacher; but to your students you are a HERO! T-shirt by Educents

First Grade Common Core Morning Work for November by Diary of A Grumpy Teacher

Mustache Notepaper by Creative Teaching Press

Eagle in the Sky - An Interactive Adventure by 

Go Noodle Lanyard and Stickers

Sit Spot Sample

I have the Teacher Planner and it's my FAVORITE!!

Lots of goodies from Creative Teaching Press!!

Now it's your turn to win some fabulous SWAG!!!
Check out the Raffle-copter below to win this fabulous Midwest Blogger Meet-Up SWAG!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Technology At Our Fingertips!

Every hour of every day, we have technology at our fingertips.  As I teach my students every year, technology surrounds us.  Technology is anything around us that was created by humans to solve a problem.  Many times when we think of technology we stop at iPads, iPhones, computers, radios, and devices.  So while we're often gifted with much more "technology" than we could have ever dreamed, we need to remember that some of this technology needs us, as teachers, to provide guidance on when and how to use it in the classroom!

This year my students, and all 3rd, 6th, and 9th graders received Chromebooks as part of a technology roll-out for our district.  As I am trying to become a better educator, collaborator, and employee I have had to wrap my head around 
"What does incorporating student devices into daily instruction look like in 2015?"

I recently watched a TEDx Talk by Kayla Delzer and the topic was "Our World is Changing, Our Schools Need to Change With It."  It was so inspiring to me as I am working this year to make sure that our students are leaders and I, as a teacher, am a learner.  

With all of my students having Chromebooks, I am trying to find the gentle balance between too much and too little on the computers.  We do have technology at our fingertips, but we still need a place in our classrooms to dive into some "old-fashioned" technology like pencils and lined papers!  Kayla made a great comment in her talk - "if it's not exciting on paper and pencil, it won't be exciting on a computer or tablet!"  I feel as though I've gotten so caught up in "I'll just recreate it on the Chromebook for students to complete" that I've lost sight of the fact that it's still just a worksheet...on the computer!  

Students are learning to be Typing Masters, completing research, and taking tests/quizzes on their Chromebooks.  However, I know there is so much more they could be doing.  Now I am working to discover the endless possibilities for learning!

What are you doing to make learning exciting?  What are you doing to make your students leaders?  What are you doing to incorporate 21st century technology in your day-to-day instruction?