Sunday, July 27, 2014

JUNE? Sheesh!

So apparently I thought I published this post at the end of June but shocker, I didn't. Here is June in a nutshell!  I know, I have been dying to know what I do every waking minute of my boring days. Haha!

A week after school let out I headed to the TOTS for technology conference with a few teachers from school, my principal and vice principal. It was kinda fun to attend a conference without having to present.  Though my mind immediately goes to applying to present next year and things the conference needs to be better lol. I did learn some pretty cool technology tips. I'm most excited about trying to "flip my classroom" next year. More on that later.

One night we went to Pleasure Pier. I kept calling it Pleasure Island haha. I kept telling my principal I wanted to go to Pleasure Island. Haha. Hey, she knew what she was getting into when she said I could go. We had a lot of fun. If was great to be among a forward thinking peers, excited about the future of our school. 

Oh and I stupidly said I would go on the Ferris wheel. What was I thinking? I love rides and roller coasters but I'm terrified of heights. I wanted to crap my pants. My friends thought it was funny to rock it. I had to keep it rated G because my administrators' daughters were on the ride. I did say a few Dear sweet baby Jesus's. :) You can see by my hair that it was REALLY windy. I now have less friends. Haha. J/K. Maybe.

Next stop, Louisiana.  The next week I took my kids and a friend on a super-fast road trip. I promised my kids that we could take a road trip if I got a new car and since I am now sporting Bruce (He’s BATMAN..cue in low voice here), I had to keep my word.  Our window of opportunity was limited so when I say super-fast trip, I mean it. 

We left Wednesday morning and came back Friday afternoon. I think we drove 800+ miles in those three days. We went on an alligator tour, which was really fun. Then we made our way up to West Monroe to visit the Duck Dynasty business.  On our way home, we stopped and visited an alligator farm and got to hold one. Eek! Here are some pics of our adventure. 


It was way fun and the kids got their road trip in. Surely I get mom points for that. :) I can't believe has fast this summer is flying. Please, for the love of Pete, slowwwww down! I think I will go into my classroom tomorrow and work. Sigh. Yes, I said it out loud so that makes it a real and true thought. Yikes! 

If you are getting ready for school like me, you might appreciate a good deal. I am having a sale in my store for the next two days. Everything is 20% off! Click here to head over there. 

Now, that I have officially published a post from JUNE (shaking my head), I will be back this week with more current information. Haha! 

Love and virtual hugs

Monday, July 14, 2014

Writer's Workshop...At Last!

Oh. My. Goodness. 

Holy guacamole.

Shut the front door.

For THREE years people have asked me to me to create a Writer’s Workshop unit. I've sat down to do it dozens of times but I had this problem. It’s called, how do you put something on paper that isn't an exact science?  I struggled with this because I really do follow my kids.  Some years we move faster than others. That has to be okay.  When we stop following kids and pushing them beyond their abilities, no one wins. Writing is developmental and some kids need more time than others.  Here’s another issue, I am VERY passionate about writing when I present at conferences.  I was so worried that I couldn't adequately portray my passion on paper.  I wanted to give people the same experience.  This took me a long time.

Soooo…a year later and it is finished. Done.

Cue in singing angels and pure JOY. 

Now, let me be clear. I am no rocket scientist.  The method to my madness honestly came from reading several books and then taking time to find what works best for me…you know, those ideas that fly out the rear sometimes? Those are the best ones. Haha!  

I have taken a great deal of time to find several AMAZING books that could be read during the writing process.  They make wonderful connections for kids.  My class loved them!

This unit is written as if I am giving YOU a personal one-on-one training session. It is very detailed. It was created to teach you HOW to start, implement and be successful with Writer’s Workshop in your classroom. It includes several book examples, pictures of mini lesson resource charts and student examples. This is a VERY detailed guide to help you work through each step accurately. It is completely plausible to have your students writing three part stories by the end of the school year. This could be used for high pre-k students or struggling first grade students who have no foundations of writing.

Here is what is included along with a few preview pictures.

Table of Contents:
Pgs. 1-4: Preview of Unit
Pg. 5: What is Writer's Workshop
Pg. 6: Steps in WWS
Pgs. 7-10: Time Management (Mini Lesson, Independent Writing/Conferring, Author Celebrations)
Pgs. 11-22: Starting WWS with books
Pgs. 23-30: Interactive Writing
Pgs. 31-40: Shared Writing
Pgs: 41-42: Step One
Pgs. 43-52: Step Two
Pgs. 53-61: Step Three
Pgs. 62-70: Step Four
Pgs. 71-72: Other Charts & Resource Wall
Pgs. 73-80: Step Five
Pgs. 81-88: Step Six
Pgs. 89-93: Other Resource Charts
Pgs. 94-96: Creating a Writing Center
Pgs. 97-99: Word Wall
Pg. 100: Utilizing a Poetry Center
Pg. 101: End of Year Goals
Pgs. 102-130: Writing Printables
Pg. 131: Alphabet Chart for WWS folder
Pgs. 132-137: Story Elements Charts and Printables
Pgs. 138-142: Writing Printables
Pgs. 143-145: What Can I Write About?
Pgs: 146-147: Credits

Thank you for being so patient with me as I created this set. I know it has been a longgggg time coming! I am so happy with the end result and I hope you will be too.  For it's debut, it is on sale for the rest of this week. Please email me if you have any questions at  I would also love it if you left me feedback if you decided to purchase this unit. 

My heart really is to help teachers develop a passion for teaching writing.  Each year I am AMAZED at my students' progress.  Once they get the foundational pieces, they take off and soar.  Writing three part stories (and then some) is an attainable goal in kindergarten. 

My advice when it comes to teaching writing:

  • Writing is not handwriting.  That is a whole nother ball of wax. 
  • Focus on ONE teaching point for each child at a time. That teaching point will probably be different for each child. When looking at a piece of writing, there may be five things you could critique BUT if you do that, children will walk way feeling defeated and not capable of being a confident writer. When I conference with a child, I use the Positive - Teaching Point - Positive method. 
  • Celebrate every moment, even the small ones. Build confidence! If a child can only get a beginning sound, that should be celebrated.  Other sounds are sure to follow. 
  • Most importantly, fake it til you make it. You can't expect your students to be invested in your Writer's Workshop time if you are not. If you don't love it, they won't either.  

You can see more of my unit HERE.  

Love and virtual hugs!

Are you Ready???

Are you ready for Back to School? Yeah, me neither. The thought of it actually makes me want to put a pencil through my eye. Okay, that is dramatic. I love my job. I really do. But, there is this thing called Summer Break and I love it more right now.  Hanging out with my sweet hubs and wackadoodle amazing kids and traveling totally trumps school right now. 

Well, if we must get ready for the enevitable, we may as well take advantage of a GREAT deal.  Now be honest, you know you love a great Back to School deal.  You load up on discounted crayons and papers. Remember, I am your people. I want to vomit when I see Back To School ads in July but come August, fill my basket with all the deals I can get.

So to help you out, my friends and I from Freebielicious have teamed up with our favorite gals at Educents to offer you an amazing bundle of products, sure to get you off on the right foot for the school year.  This bundle is loaded with back to school goodies including book studies, crafts, classroom prep, and content for miles. You have to check it out!

For my product, I have included my Back to School Early Finisher Tub...this will definitely help maintain peace in your classroom. You can read more about my EFT tubs here. 

Now check out what this set includes: 

For a limited time, this bundle is $29.99 from Educents, which is 73% OFF (only $1.11 a unit WOW).  This set includes 23 products with over 1200 pages, perfect for any kindergarten or first grade teacher! It's valued at $109.50! If you haven't heard of Educents, you should totally check it out. It's like groupon but for teachers. You had me at SAVINGS! Also, the owners of Educents have hearts of gold. They seriously are two amazing women dedicated to making the lives of teachers easier by helping us get quality materials for our classrooms that we can afford. Love working with them!

Make sure you take a peek at some of the other teachers featured in this bundle too.  You can check out this bundle HERE or click any picture in this post! Love and virtual hugs. 


Sunday, July 13, 2014

500 Miles!

I would walk 500 miles….Yes, I sang this song all week long in Vegas. I seriously think I walked a gazillion miles, partly because we got lost every day in our hotel. Each hotel is a city in itself.

Oh, what a WEEK!

I left Texas Sunday morning for the big city of Vegas. This was my third year to go and certainly my favorite. This year was a year of many firsts though. I would also add that six days in Vegas is a longgggggg time!

Freebielicious, our collaborative blog, had its own booth set up for the conference.  This was a huge undertaking for us but we were more than excited to do it because we LOVE teachers. Teachers could stop by our booth to take pictures in our photo booth, grab a sweet treat from our candy bar, and register to win a free ipad. We seriously saw a thousand teachers our first day, and probably just as many the second day.  It was so fun to talk to teachers who share the same passion for education.

On Thursday, I presented for I Teach K.  It was my first National Conference to present for. Eek! I seriously thought I was going to puke when I woke up. Luckily, my sister flew in the night before to be my handy side kick. I was so glad I had her to support me and encourage me. Y’all, I had a big girl room. I almost passed out when I walked in the room. Holy guacamole. That’s a whole lot of chairs. Luckily, I started my day with my Writer’s Workshop presentation.  It’s my favorite.  I think that helped me to get in my groove. I was so worried about my Early Finisher session because over 200 people signed up and it was a hands-on session. In true teacher form, everyone was a rock star and totally made it work. It was so much fun.  I just love working with other teachers. If you would have asked me two years ago if I would have any interest in presenting, I would have said Heck NO! Who knew I would love this so much? Craziness I tell you.

When I was at the airport to head home, I did tear up a little. I just love my virtual friends and the relationships I have made through blogging and TPT. If we took a picture this week, I would love you to email it to me.

THANK YOU to everyone who came to my sessions.  I hope you were able to walk away with something exciting to take back to your classroom.  I also hope after meeting my hot mess self in person, you still love me. Haha!

Ok, brace yourself as I inundate you with a million pictures of my week. Start saving NOW for next year. I’m telling you, there is nothing like Teachers Take Vegas week! 

 My room was a revolving door this week too. I was glad to spend time with Tanya from
Kaci from
Katie from
Krissy from

 Because I love my husband so much, I had to go buy him these special cigars that you can only get in Vegas. 

 Meet Scott from Lakeshore Learning..he's one of my favorite people eva.  Lakeshore is an amazing family owned and operated business that provides the best resources for our classrooms. Lakeshore gave away these games to all teachers stopping by their booth and they also donated hundreds of dollars in prizes for our Blogger Meetup and session prizes.  I was able to join him for dinner this week and it was a blast!! Oh, they also call me "little Crystal". Anyone who calls me little has my heart for ever. Bwhahaha!!

After dinner Thursday night with Scott ^^^, we took a group of 19 to see Marc Savard, a hypnotist comedian.  Oh, it's wildly inappropriate but so stinking funny. I laughed so hard I thought I was going to pass out. The show is only $25 and totally worth every penny.  

Friday was the only day I wasn't working our booth or presenting sessions so my sister and I hit the town for some fun. By then, I was ready to get the heck out of that hotel, lol. 

 I had so much fun at the Blogger/Teacher Meet Up. Seriously a thousand teachers crammed into a room taking a gazillion pictures. Can you name these rock stars? 

Meet Paul, the founder of TPT. isn't he a cutie? I can't tell you how much this man has changed my life and the life of my family.  TPT is such a blessing!!

 Our last night Lindsay and I joined some of my favorite friends to go see New Kids On The Block. Talk about blast from the past! I'm not sure it sounds as good as back in the day, haha, but the show was pretty awesome!

 Last, but not least...I LOVE my FREEBIELICIOUS girls! It was great to finally meet them in real life. 

Oh, I also got the meet the girls from Educents. The owners are two of the sweetest women eva. I had to pleasure of having dinner with them Wednesday night and I puffy heart love them!!!!  Oh, oh. And the team from ESGI! I finally got to meet them in person too. I LOVE working with that company. More on that to come! much to share. 

I cannot wait until next year. THANK YOU to all of my friends for spending the week with me. Blessed beyond measure. Go big or go home. You only go to Vegas once...a year! Bwhahaha!

When I got home yesterday, I totally passed out. It was 6:00 p.m.  I think my daughter thought I was drunk (though she has never seen that lol). She kept asking me if I was okay. I think my tired was tired and I was losing my ability to function. I left fifteen hours and boy did it do my body good. I have four more days before I leave for my next conference so I have to get my A game back. See you at Frog Street Splash on Thursday! It's going to be a blast!!

Love and virtual hugs.