Monday, April 20, 2015

Parenting and Teaching HACKS!

I don't know about you, but I am ALWAYS on the hunt for strategic ways of getting tasks completed.  Like you, I find that I always have 60 billion things to accomplish in a day, and minimal time to get everything completed.  So I look to others for ideas that can make my day easier to navigate and feel as though I have tackled every task I have set out to conquer.

As a mom I find that it is few and far between that I sit, again, I am CERTAIN you can relate.  I often eat dinner as I make it because I know that no matter how organized I think I am, someone needs something as soon as I go to sit and take a bite.  It is what it is, right?  As teachers, sitting is rare as we are always navigating our way around the classroom to meet the need of our students! 

The same is true for our family time after showers and baths...  Literally, as soon as it is sensed that I I am going to sit on the couch to: snuggle a small child, read a story, or heaven-help-me, open my computer, a Beers' kid is in need of S-O-M-E-T-H-I-N-G!  UGGHHH!  It used to be snacks, so here is my hack that was inspired by my never-willing-to-get-out-of-his-comfy-spot-husband, the SNACK BOWL!

The only materials needed are:
  1. re-useable snack bowls with lids, these are in the Target $1 bins for a set of four mini-bowls,
  2. snacks your children will eat and not complain about,
  3. a larger bowl to place the snack containers in, so the kids can access them easily
Target Mini-Snack containers!

My kids LOVE Goldfish, Life cereal, Cheerios, peanuts, peanut butter pretzels

Filled snack containers ready to be grabbed by hungry kiddos!
These containers can be cleaned and re-used for the next round of waste and maybe a moment or two that I don't have to hear, "Mom, I'm hungry!  Can you get me a snack?"  With water bottles filled and ready for the grabbing, and ready-to-grab snacks, you can sit for at least a minute or so before bedtime.

These would also be perfect for testing snacks!  Please share any tips or tricks you have that make your parenting and teaching life easier!  Summer is almost here and this lady is going to need as much help as she can get! 
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Friday, April 10, 2015

Spring is Here! Poetry Hop

I have joined up with my AMAZING literacy friends from The Reading Crew and we have put together this Poetry Hop in order to share some poetry ideas, poetry resources, and FREEBIES...
That one, 6-letter word can send shivers down the spine of an unsuspecting 6th grader.  I have learned that depending on previous experience, it ranks right up there with these other horrors...
My sweet students:
"Mrs. Beers, I hate poetry!"
"Isn't Dr. Seuss a poet?  Dr. Seuss is SO kindergarten!"
"Can I just rhyme a few lines and be done?"

Me: "Sorry to hear that!  Dr. Seuss is actually quite clever, even for adults, but we will not be focusing on his work.  Poetry is not about just rhyming a few lines.  Stick with me, I promise you will LOVE it!"

So I do what I hope every teacher works to do-CHANGE their impressionable minds into LOVING poetry with TRICKERY!  Just kidding, instead of trickery, I utilize two AMAZING novels by Sharon Creech that seamlessly incorporate INCREDIBLE poems that will both challenge and engage students, and I teach them strategies to analyze poems that encourage them to feel more comfortable reading and understanding poems-Love That Dog and Hate That Cat! In addition, I give them the task of becoming the teacher and helping their student, Jack, find his way into accepting poetry and becoming a superstar poet in the process through poetry analysis and journal writing.  You can check out these novel units, and then hop to my FREEBIE below...

If you don't have time for novels, grab this FREEBIE sampler that I created.  The entire We HEART Poetry!  A Poetry Analysis BUNDLE gives your students the tools they need to make poetry analysis successful in 8-LESSONS.  I know that there are years of extra snow and less school days, so I need to get my students where they need to be in the time frame that I am allotted.  This is the ideal poetry resource to connect your students to poetry and make them LOVE it in a snap!  Grab this snippet and let me know what you think!

Enter to win all of my poetry resources below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
I hope your students learn to HEART poetry as much as mine have!  Now head to my friend, Sandy's blog, Sweet Integrations, to find another FANTASTIC resource.  Happy Poetry Hopping!

A special thanks to these clip artists for their festive work...
Educlips, Jen Jones, and Epiphanous Owl.

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Friday, April 3, 2015

End of Year Video Song List and Music in the Classroom

What kind of music do you like to listen to?  Do you play music in your classroom?  I LOVE music and I find that I am playing it at all times! Instead of the TV going on full blast in our house-it is Music Choice, a set of music stations that play uninterrupted songs based on our favorite musical genre.  In our house, it is the Pop station or 320. My husband might argue that the songs that my children and I sing at the top of our lungs are NOT his favorite choice of music, but regardless, we listen, we sing, and of course, we dance!

At this time of year I am always in search of the perfect songs of the year to add to the End of Year Video I always create for my 6th graders that are moving onto middle school.  I take pictures throughout the course of the year, and at the end, using Windows Movie Maker, I create a video with the best songs I can find to celebrate our year together.  The video is played at the end of our 6th Grade Promotion Ceremony and wraps up all of the hard work, activities, field trips, and day-to-day moments that made our year so special.  I LOVE putting this together because it helps me to reflect on all of the work we accomplished and all of the fun memories we will always share.  I guess I am a bit of a sap...

If this is a task you want to tackle, I highly recommend it-it truly helps me to see my students in the most refreshing light, even if it has been a stressful or challenging year.  To make your life easier tackling this fun project-here is a song list I created to put all of your fun memories of this school year to music...

If you have no interest in creating a video, each of these songs is perfect for classroom listening, so add them to your classroom playlist and enjoy!

If you need a classroom brain break-I love this video! Get your kiddos up and watch'em dance!

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Thursday, April 2, 2015

Educents, a Giveaway, and A FREEBIE!

I am SUPER excited to be participating in the NEW Educents Marketplace, an AMAZING on-line spot to find even more FREEBIES, deals, and the most perfect tools for your students.  While this used to be a spot for parents and educators to find deals, the deals would expire and could no longer be purchased, but starting today, that isn't happening anymore.  Educents has always helped me save money on educational resources, but now their deals don’t have an expiration date!  In addition, you will find teacher-created resources, at the lowest prices available.  

Click the image below to grab MY Essay Writing Freebie from my Educents store, and check out some of my other tried and true, student-tested ELA resources that will motivate your students and make your life a whole lot easier from now until the end of the school year!  I can't wait to hear what you think!  If you want to be the first to know about new resources I add to my Educents store, click the heart in order to FOLLOW ME.

Are you looking to differentiate novel work with your students over the coming weeks?! I also have this Novel Unit BUNDLE deal taking place right now!  10-Print and Go Novel Units with ANSWER KEYS to simplify your life as the school year winds down.

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Thursday, March 26, 2015

A Spring Break Personal Narrative Writing Resource FREEBIE!

Are you headed on a fun spring break adventure?  We are not, we have a trip to Disney World planned for May, so we will be staycationers over the next week.  I am hoping all three kiddos are healthy and we can take some mini-adventures around Cincinnati.

As an upper elementary to middle school teacher in an urban setting I find that my students don’t tend to travel anywhere for spring break, but they always have a bazillion stories to share about how they spent their days off from school.  Instead of asking them all to share about their break, which I want to hear about, but can’t take such an exorbitant amount of time when we need to get back into a routine, I created this Spring Break Tales: A Personal Journal.  You can make this resource as elaborate or as minimal as you see fit.  This can be utilized as a full-blow narrative writing resource with the brainstorm, writing prompt, writing organizer, and rubrics, or you can utilize it as a morning work resource for students to complete upon their return.  Check it out, I promise your students will have a lot of fun reflecting.

Click the image below to snag this FREEBIE...

Safe travels if you are heading off on your own fun adventure!

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Friday, March 13, 2015

Lucky You! Blog Hop!

The reasons why I am lucky...
I have an AMAZING FAMILY and I have had experiences in my life that have made me the not overly sensitive person I am!  I feel lucky to be able to laugh about things, myself included, and not take myself or others so seriously!

For example...When I think of St. Patrick's Day I have a few memories of this LUCKY & GREEN day...

In elementary school it was a BIG deal to wear green.  I specifically remember in 5th and 6th grade, our teachers would walk around and observe all  of the green we were wearing.  The individual that wore the most green on this particular day always won some prize.  I never won, so I have no idea what the cool prize even was.  Green was NEVER my favorite color!  I believe the only green I ever wore was my Boston Celtics t-shirt.  As I think back, it makes me laugh!  As a 6th grade teacher today, I am just glad my students are dressed appropriately-any sort of seasonal or holiday spirit is a bonus, right?!

My second memory is the cleverness of "Erin Go Braugh!"  The meaning of this phrase is, "Ireland Forever!"  An extra special thanks to all of the thoughtful companies that made t-shirts and buttons with this spirited mantra.  For an elementary and middle schooler with the name Erin, there were so many creative phrases made-up by my kind peers with my name that had nothing to do with Ireland, but more to do with my wearing female undergarments!  AWESOME!

I hope your memories of this Irish holiday make you laugh a bit as well.  I have come around on the color green and I still giggle when I see "Erin Go Braugh!"

Onto my green-inspired FREEBIE!  Growing up in New England we were HUGE Boston Celtics fans.  The Celtics played four games a year at the Hartford Civic Center and we always had those 4-game season tickets.  I have always loved basketball and still think about the AMAZING basketball legends that I got to see in person competing for and against the Celtics: Larry Bird, Danny Ainge, Robert Parrish, Dennis Johnson, Kevin McHale, Charles Barkley, Spud Webb, Minute Boll, Carl Malone, John Stockton, Dominique Wilkins, etc.

So with this GREEN holiday and MARCH MADNESS, I wrote a few CLOSE Reading passages for you to share with your upper elementary students.  My students LOVE to read about athletes, so I try to keep as many of these high-interest passages on hand for test prep, morning work, "I'm finished, now what?", etc.  Grab them below and use them how you see fit!  Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Now head to my friend Ali's blog to find another incredible FREE upper elementary resource.
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Thursday, February 26, 2015

Warm Up and Chill Out Test Prep Blog Hop and $50 Starbucks Gift Card GIVEAWAY!

Are you gearing up for state testing?  We all know it can be THE MOST an especially stressful time of the year, so my Lesson Deli friends and I wanted to make this time as stress-free as possible.  We have put together a blog hop that gives you the chance to snag some TEST PREP FREEBIES as well as have the opportunity to enter to win a $50 Starbucks Gift Card and some other sweet goodies along the way.

To get your students geared up for fiction, I have created these Character Analysis Task Cards.  I have found that while my students tend to LOVE fiction, it can be a real challenge to get them to analyze and respond in writing to the kind of questioning that is expected of them.  They can discuss text verbally all day, but when it comes to getting their ideas down on paper, some struggle to answer multiple step questions, and simply answer only the first portion of what is asked of them.  I need them to be able to support their response with information from the text or by citing textual evidence, so I created these task cards.

For some assistance with helping students navigate this reading literature expectation, snag this FREEBIE:
This FREEBIE includes:
  • directions for immediate implementation
  • 8-task cards with student answer document
  • answer key
I utilize these task cards in a couple of different ways.
  • small group to reinforce character analysis with those struggling
  • whole class
  • in a literacy center
You can grab the whole product here:
The entire product includes:
  • clear directions for immediate implementation
  • notes for student understanding
  • 32-character analysis task cards
  • student answer document
  • answer key for quick assessing
After entering the Dunkin' Donuts Giveaway below, head to my friend, Caitlin's blog for another great resource to help you and your students continue down the path to most prepared during this test prep time!  Hang in there!

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