Monday, February 24, 2014

Teachers Pay Teachers Sale February 27-28

This Thursday and Friday marks the long anticipated Teachers Pay Teacher's Sale. TpT is giving an additional 10% off any sale amount up to 20%. I am setting my store at 20% off most items. My $1 items are the only thing not on sale, but the 10% discount will still apply to them. That's right most items will save you 28%.
Some items that you may want to check out, are my new reading reflection sheets I shared here. They are for use with any story or novel. I use a rubric to evaluate them. Much easier than a novel study guide. My students use them to guide partner and group discussion about what they read each day.
Another product my students and others like are my game boards for use with task cards or flashcards. Several are Winter Sports (Olympics) themed, or ideal for use in February. I am working on some additional game boards, and hope to have them finished before the sale begins.


My task cards are also on sale, including my two versions of Equivalent Fractions are Fun. They are the same product only one has a snowman theme and the other is good for any time of the year.

I am filling my cart with goodies I have to have. I've got a gift certificate from one of my students setting on my computer waiting for the sale to begin. What things should I consider from your store? Join the linky!

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Time and a Giveaway

I had time on my hands yesterday. We had another day off school. The rural back roads had melting snow refreeze, making driving dangerous. As I contemplate how the weather will be come late June, when I will surely still be teaching, I made some more reading reflection pages to use with our novel. I am over checking novel studies that do nothing to enrich the joy of reading I really want my kids to have. These quick one page reflections/responses (not sure what to call them) have different activities, levels of understanding, etc. The students loved the first couple I made to use this week. They liked that it had variety, kept them focused, and were helpful when discussing the reading with a partner.

I will give away three sets of them to the first three people that leave a blog comment. They will be available later this weekend in my store. Enjoy the rest of your weekend.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Wednesday, February 19

It is Wednesday once again. I apologize for not having a post for last week, but with snow days, I have really struggled with keep track of time. As I type this, I am coming off another snow day. I have even lost track of how many snow days we have had! It is over two weeks, twelve or thirteen days I think. We don't know how many days we will make up, or if only teachers will make them up to fulfill our contractual agreement. 

For this week's What Works Wednesdays installment, I have something that is working well for me and my students. I have been using more close reads. The students have enjoyed them so much more than our anthology. 

The first set of close reads we used recently were from Hello Mrs. Sykes' Winter Sports Practicing Fluency and Comprehension. This was the perfect introduction to discussion about the Winter Olympics. I was able to fit it in on a couple of days we were in school just before the Winter Games began. Since reading them, my students have discussed events as they occur, and even mention things they read. The close read we completed last week were from Elements of Elementary's The History of Basketball. This tied in with a story we previously read with a basketball theme, and a biography on James Naismith. The students loved creating their own sport, which was their final step. I bought both sets when they were on sale, making them very affordable. I am adding things to my cart in anticipation of another sale.

Do you use close reads? If so, which ones should I check out? 
I would love to hear from you.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014


It's a beautiful sunny day in southeast Michigan. I once again have a snow day. We didn't have school yesterday, but did have a PD day. My morning was spent discussing students in poverty. As we began to analyze data last year, we saw a growing trend. Most of our under performing students are in low socio-economic status.

When the economy took a nose dive a few years ago, we began to see an ever growing number of students qualifying for free or reduced lunch. Although economists say we have reached the bottom and are climbing up, statistics in our community don't reflect national trends. Currently over 40% of our students are living in what is classified as poverty.  As teachers, we see students coming to school hungry, wearing ill-fitting clothes. They don't have help on homework, and parents are not present at conferences. It is easy to say it is because the parent doesn't care. In reality, a growing number of students are home alone as the parent or parents work two jobs to provide for the same lifestyle manufacturing jobs use to provide. Many are working at minimum wage or slightly higher, but cannot afford childcare. Some are homeless, sleeping at relatives homes.

When the parents are home, they are tired. They may be short-tempered, or "mad at the world." The student is left to do hope work alone, if they choose to do it at all. Schools often are the only meal providers, warm shelter, or nurturing place the child has. Absenteeism and tardiness increase along with stress induced illness.

I challenge you, as I challenge myself, make a difference in the life of those children. Greet each child you see with a smile. Let them know you are glad they are there. Teach the child problem solving skills, how to handle their own anger, and the social skills that used to be taught in every home. This maybe the only chance we get to make that difference, to break the cycle. Be inclusive and not exclusive, by referring to the school and room as "ours" to give them a sense of belonging. Teach them to attend to the task at hand. Give them a reason to want to learn. Give time to complete homework in class or during recess when they have access to an adult that can help. Give them healthy choices, and encourage exercise and movement. The children will thank you.

Make a difference today and tomorrow.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

In a Mood

This has been a difficult week. We have not had a normal week for a time. This week was not normal. We started with our Camp Meeting and slideshow for students. Then Monday night we had the parents meeting. This would be my first late night of the week.

Tuesday I had to prepare for a substitute on Wednesday, followed by a negotiation meeting. I got home very late, and went right to sleep, as I was leaving the school at 6:15 AM. I am not a morning person. The temperature outside dropped from -10 degrees to -22 degrees as a drove the 17 miles to school. The van that my group was taking to Lansing never warmed up. The trip was frigid with pockets of freezing fog. The only good part was the amazing landscape of frosted trees.

The conference was informative (school improvement) and allowed us time to plan for some upcoming reports. I had another late night, and am still here tonight typing this at 6:30. I have been interrupted by my girls coming to show me their beautiful dresses, as it is a Daddy Daughter Dance tonight.

My kids have been wound up. Camp meeting, substitute, full moon, Daddy Daughter Dance, and Valentine's Day tomorrow. I still have my Friendship Lunch to pack, a box to decorate for my secret pal, ice cream and eclairs to purchase. The ice cream is for our party, and the eclairs go along with a story in our anthology.

Hope your Friday is sane!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Made It Monday, A little late

It was Monday and we made it (to school that is). Finally felt like a return to normalcy. With all that free time from snow days, I should have had lots of projects to share. Unfortunately, I was unmotivated to do things. The thought of working hard now, when I am sure I will have lots of time to make up in June just wasn't very appealing. I did make some boards to use with task cards. I was inspired by theme erasers in the "dollar spot" at Target and the Olympics.

These are available at my store. Check them out.

I hoped to get this posted last night, but we had our parent meeting for camp. After a long Monday I was too tired to finish. Don't forget to check out the other projects on Tara's Linky.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Just Another Wednesday (without School)

It is another snowy Wednesday in southern Michigan. With so much missed school, I have been communicating with parents and students about learning opportunities. I sent "snow day" assignments home last night in anticipation of 6" of snow. Just in case students didn't want to work on their day off, I messaged parents with Remind101.

This is what the text looks like:
  • Mrs. Hojnacki's Homeroom

Don't forget to do snow day math pages. Read for AR goal. Currently for February (it is still snowing!) I'd rather be at school teaching.

Remind 101 is a free texting service. You sign up on their website. It assigns a texting number. You send a notice to parents (my note went with my Welcome Newsletter at Meet the Teacher night in August). Parents text the number to register for the service. Easy peasy!

My friend has sent 600 texts this year with it. I have sent a fraction of that number. I don't want to send so many that parents see it as a nuisance or as an intrusion into their lives. I use a webpage to communicate general information, and send newsletters and email for updates and current news.

You can even embed the Widget on your webpage. This is what mine looks like on my page.

Mrs. Hojnacki's reminders

  • 2/5
    ___________ Reading
    Read for AR. Work on Wax Museum project. Don't know about others, but I'd rather be at school teaching. Enough snow already!
  • 2/5
    Mrs. Hojnacki's Homeroom
    Don't forget to do snow day math pages. Read for AR goal. Currently for February 
What I really like about Remind 101 is that parents don't get messages from my own cell phone number. It assigns a texting number to my classroom. I have one number for my homeroom, and one for my second reading class. I am that room's main source of communication.

Remind 101 recently added a very useful feature. Previously, messages could only be sent to the whole group. Now you can send messages to partial groups, as few as three. How would this help? If you have just a couple of students that forgot to return a permission slip; three students haven't brought back signed progress reports, etc. I am a registered user, so I can send to as few as two students. The third notice would come to me.

They are looking for ways to improve the service even more so I think additional features will be added. This program is a great way to communicate with parents. I see how Remind 101 is a nice complementary system to other forms of communication.

How do you communicate with parents?

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Currently February

I had another snow day yesterday. All my pre-Super Bowl activities with my kids were cancelled. I have spent a lot of time planning just to have to cancel the plans. I think I need to concentrate on generic plans, stripped of any time sensitive materials as the weather next week is predicting more snow. While I plan for the future, I am also focusing on the current events in my life, compliments of Farley.

I should be starting laundry and cleaning, but am blog stalking and watching House Crashers.

After missing ten days of school, we still have several weeks of winter weather left. We could be looking at longer days and added days in June! I am tired of snow and cold. I hope the Ground Hog says Spring is on its way.

I have to get started on laundry and cleaning. Before I go, I will reveal my truths and fib.

I really did sit through a tornado warning at Wrigley. It was our 25th anniversary trip (my choice) to Chicago.  My dogs are Wrigley and Pennington.  Penny's namesake was traded from Jets to Dolphins not long after I named her. She will be my last dog named for a player I like! The next pet will get a name of a player I want traded! My fib is that I would be a lawyer if I didn't teach. Although some may think I love to argue, I really hate confrontation!  I can stand in front of kids all day, but struggle in front of groups of adults.

What is currently happening in your life?

I almost forgot, I am having a sale at Teachers Notebook, and my TpT stores. TN is also offering an additional 10%. Happy shopping!

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