Tuesday, July 21, 2015

"Remind" Parents this Year

My absolute favorite fast and easy way to communicate with all my parents is with Remind!  With the new school year coming up, it's the perfect time to check it out...

You might have heard of it.

You might have even downloaded the app to your phone.

But if you aren't USING it, you are truly missing out!

I have been using this consistently for the past two years and it has been SUCH a lifesaver!  It's a quick way to blast out a message or reminder to parents.  

And it's FREE!  Seriously.  FREE.

After you sign up, you can add your class.  I like to date my class with the school year so that I can add my new class each year.  (Obviously this pic is of last year's class name!)  You can also delete old classes if you want.  

Remind will then direct you how to get your parents registered after you've set up your first class.

Below you can see a few of the messages I sent to last year's class.  One of my favorite things about Remind is that you can schedule messages ahead of time.  This is particularly helpful during those busy months (can anyone say September?!  December?!  June?!).

It elicits an immediate response from your parents.  My reminders help me to get things to school on time.  I have seen a dramatic rate of improvement in getting important paperwork returned to school.  And it saves me from making individual phone calls after school to parents!  

I typically send my messages around 7 or 8pm.  That way, if parents need to send something to school, they remember to put it in the book bag right away that evening.

You can use the app or the website to send messages.  You are limited in the number of characters you can use (140 to be exact), but I haven't found that to be a problem yet.

Remind has a form letter/email you can send to parents.  I created my own letter for parents.  I introduce Remind at my Curriculum Night at the beginning of the year.  I even encourage parents to take their phones out right during my presentation and sign up.  Last year I had every parent registered!

This year I'm excited to try the new feature - CHAT!  You can "text" back and forth with parents.  You can also control what hours parents can chat with you.  I set mine for 9am-7pm on weekdays only.  You can also control whether you are the only one that can initiate a text, or if your parents can initiate a text, too.  

I love that I can text with parents without them having my phone number!

Remind is a must have for every classroom.
How do you like to communicate with parents?

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

July Currently

Summer is FINALLY here!  (Though you wouldn't know it by the cold and rainy weather in Upstate NY...)  I'm so excited for July.  It's one of my favorite months!

Time to link up with Farley at Oh Boy 4th Grade for this month's Currently...

Listening - Gotta love a little daytime TV when you are on vacation!  Kathy Lee and Hoda keep me laughing.

Loving - I thought summer vacation would NEVER get here!  I kicked off summer vacay with my best friend's wedding on Saturday.  It was quite a party!  She was a gorgeous bride and the day was just so perfect!  Now it's time to relax and enjoy this amazing time off.  

Thinking - There are so many possibilities in the summer!  I have so much more time to get things done that I've been wanting to do!  I plan to get ready for the new school year, work on many TPT products I've been thinking about forever, and work on my photography.  Did I tell you how much I love summer?!!

Wanting - My teacher bag goes everywhere with me.  So it's no wonder why I'm a little sick of the current one I have.  I'm in the market for a new one and I found this adorable bag on Etsy.  It even has a matching lunch tote... which of course I want, too.  Chevron print, naturally!
Both can be found at Ooh Baby Infinity Designs.

This bag is reversible!  Polka dot on the inside.  So cute.  Love the pocket for the water bottle.

This lunch tote looks like a great size for all my snacks, haha!  You can customize the inside polka dot part.  I think I would make mine green on the inside.

Needing - I am in need of some snuggle time with my nieces and nephew!  I haven't seen them since the first weekend in June.  We are all meeting up at home in Rochester in two weeks and I CANNOT WAIT!!!

Seriously how cute are these three?!!!

All Star - It's a well-known fact that I am an All Star at organization.  It's quite an obsession of mine. I just LOVE to organize.  Life is good when everything is put in its proper place!

What are you Currently up to?!

Monday, June 8, 2015

My Toobaloo Love

Looking for classroom must-haves for next year?  Definitely check out Toobaloo's.

I absolutely LOVE my Toobaloo's from Really Good Stuff.  They have saved my sanity in small group reading!

When all my kiddos are whisper reading it can be really distracting for some group members... not to mention the teacher!

Toobaloo's allow the kids to hear themselves reading, which is great for their accuracy, self-correcting, and fluency.

They LOVE using their "telephones" during reading group.  While they are all reading at the same time, I can lean in to an individual and ask them to read directly to me.  It's a win-win for everybody!

If you don't want to buy these, you can even make your own.  There are so many versions on Pinterest (check out these Pins) that you can create using PVC pipes.

Happy Reading!

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

June Currently

Yay for JUNE!  I know many of you are already enjoying your summer vacation, but in Upstate NY we will be teaching right through the last week in June.  Even though we have another month to go, I'm pretty psyched that June has arrived!

Time to link up with Farley at Oh Boy 4th Grade for this month's Currently...

Listening - Catching up on last night's Bachelorette.  Such a guilty pleasure.  The guys are pretty funny this season.  And they finally cast a bachelorette that is smart and interesting!

Loving - I am loving weekend trips.  Memorial Day I was out in Chicago (of course) to meet my nephew!  I might be biased, but I think he is the most gorgeous baby!  And of course, I got to spend time with my beautiful nieces, too.  This weekend I'm jetting off to see them again and I simply cannot wait!!!

Wanting - It's Tuesday, which means Trivia Night for me!  My friends and I are pretty obsessed with our Tuesday trivia.  We are in the middle of a seven week tournament.  The stakes are very high.  The winners get a hoodie.  We are determined to get those sweatshirts.  I'm not really sure why... I doubt we will ever wear them anywhere but trivia night, haha!

Needing - The end of the school year is BUSY!  The to-do list is a mile long with no end in sight.  I need to get going on wrapping things up with this years bunch.

Summer Lovin - My best friend is getting married at the end of the month!  This wedding will be the perfect kick-off to summer.  I'm so excited for a great night of celebrating a wonderful couple!  And, of course, summer means more trips to Chicago.  Shocker, I know!

What are you Currently up to?

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Do You Kahoot?!

A few weeks ago I was at an iPad workshop and was introduced to this AH-mazing website!

This website allows you to find or create quizzes that your students can take using any device that connects to the internet!  They could use iPads, phones, or even an iTouch.

There are so many quizzes already created out there for anyone to use.  Be sure to search for "educational" quizzes and preview the quiz yourself for content before playing with your class!

I prefer to make my own quizzes so I can focus on exactly what I want my students to review.  For this Kahoot, I was working on the ou/ow sound during phonics that week.  So I created a quick little review game for those sounds and spelling patterns.

You can search "MissDembs" and find any quizzes I have created.  There aren't many now, but keep checking back as I create more!

I initially set this up to use with a small group during reading.  I brought my own laptop.  The students will need to see the laptop screen, because the questions and answers are displayed on the website only.
The students see four color choices on their device that correspond with the answer choices displayed on the website.

Once you find or create a quiz, you will get a unique quiz pin number to use to enter the game.

Students go to on their device and then they will be prompted to enter the pin number.

After entering the pin number, they will be prompted to put in a nickname.  When we work in teams they have loads of fun coming up with their team name!

I created a Kahoot! icon on my iPads so that my kids just have to tap Kahoot!, the website will open, and they will be prompted to enter the pin number.  They were able to easily type the pin and then their team name.  Setup was a breeze!

Once everyone has entered into the quiz, it's time to play!  Here the question and the answer choices are displayed on my laptop.  Students then tap the corresponding color of the answer they want on their own device.

You can see the four color choices the students see in this pic!

You can also play this on your Smart board!  My firsties really got a kick out of this.  I paired them up and they created their own team names.  I really enjoy seeing what team names first graders create.  Some of them (and their spellings) really had me laughing!

These two were seriously concentrating...

Questions have a set time limit for answering.  When you create your own quiz, you can set the limit anywhere from 5 to 120 seconds per question.  

The question is displayed and students all try to answer.  The team that answers correctly the fastest gets more points.

The answer results are displayed after each question with how many teams chose each answer.  Then the top five team scores are displayed.

The cheers were so loud when their team names were displayed I thought we were going to get yelled at for disturbing other classes!!! 

As a little bonus, the kids get to rate the quiz at the end!  They gave me 4.2 stars for this one.  Guess I need to work a little harder to get a solid 5 stars, haha!

Oh and on a final note... there are quizzes for adults, too!  How about that for your next game night with friends?!!!

Happy Kahoot-ing!

Monday, May 4, 2015

Teacher Appreciation Sale

It's no surprise that Teachers Pay Teachers LOVES and appreciates teachers!

So for Teacher Appreciation Week they are throwing a huge sale!

All the items in my TPT Store will be 20% off.  You can get additional savings with the coupon code ThankYou at checkout.

Be sure to stock up on goodies for the end of the school year...

Or get a jump start on getting your room ready for next year!

Happy Shopping!

Sunday, May 3, 2015

May Currently

Yay for May!  It has FINALLY stopped snowing in central NY.  No joke, it snowed more than once in April.  So not cool.

Time to link up with Farley at Oh Boy 4th Grade for this month's Currently...

Listening - Gettin' my country on today with this week's episode of Nashville.

Loving - I'm loving the fact that I finished my 10 mile hill race STRONG today!  It was so hot, which really caused many of us to struggle.  After all, we've been training in the cold and wind for months.  Today was an usually bright and sunny day with temps in 70's.  That might not seem hot, but when you are trudging up a ginormous hill with no wind, the heat really does a number on you!  It was a slow go for me, and my mental game really took a beating halfway through the race.  But I finished with a smile and I'm proud of myself!  Shout out to my parents and aunt and uncle for making the drive up today to see me at the finish.  So awesome to have a cheering section as you cross that finish line!

Thinking - I'm thinking a lot about my sister this afternoon.  She is very near her due date for her 3rd baby.  It's so hard to be so far away from her at a time like this.  I wish I could be there to help her and my brother-in-law with my nieces and give her some much needed R&R.  This has been a tough pregnancy.  She's almost to the end and I can't wait to meet my new niece or nephew!

Wanting - I didn't sleep much last night before the race (shocker), so I could really use a nap right now.  Of course, it's almost dinner time so I don't think a nap will be helpful when I'm trying to go to sleep tonight!

Needing -  I am seriously in need of a bigger camera bag.  I just can't cram much more into my current bag.  Too much gear!  Time to shop...

Summer yes, hope, dream - Can you tell what's on my mind?!  LOTS of visits to Chicago.  Maybe I should just move in with my sister for the summer.  What do you think, sis?!

What are you Currently up to?