Here's another quick round up (in no particular order) of some Amazing Resources for classrooms available online.  Best part of all?  They are all free!!

If your class is stuck indoors, no worries!  Hop on over to Adventure to Fitness, and register for a free teacher account.  Mr. Marc guides the class through a dynamic and fun adventure to keep fit while exploring the arctic, the pyramids, or the jungle.  New episodes are added often, and teacher guides are available for each episode.  Be swift, be safe, be adventurers!
With all of the focus in Common Core on nonfiction text, it can be a challenge to find engaging, age-appropriate materials.  National Geographic Young Explorers has put all of their past issues online for free, and students can explore the articles or even have the articles read to them!  
January-February 2012 cover
File storage is a big issue for me.  I spent time as a part-time technology specialist after my first child was born, and my mantra was "Have you backed up your files today?"  Computers crash, servers go down, and flash drives can be corrupted.  I rely on a combination of these systems for anything I would be upset to lose.  I {heart} Google Drive as a backup, but that is mainly where I keep the amazing resources y'all share online!  For my school items, I use DropBox to synchronize a folder kept on my laptop at home with another folder on my laptop at school.  If you are interested in setting up your own DropBox account, which starts with 2g free storage, use this link and we will both get an additional 500mb.
Dropbox home
Charity is at it again!  Charity Preston of The Organized Classroom Blog has started a new resource for K-12 teachers teaching Common Core standards in Reading and Math.  She is even encouraging teachers to submit links to their own resources for specific standards.  These sites are in the beginning stages, so more resources will be added daily.  I wonder... does Charity ever sleep??!?  :)

Common Core Reading Lessons
Common Core Math Lessons

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ - Strengthen your vocabulary and feed the world!  Play the vocabulary game for free, and for each correct answer they donate 10 grains of rice to the World Food Programme (  It gets gradually more difficult, gives you an approximate level, and increases your vocabulary.  I've been recommending this site for years with my students, and they have really enjoyed seeing how big a mound of rice they can accumulate on the screen.
Happy Birthday to me!  To celebrate my 38th birthday tomorrow, I'm throwing a S-A-L-E!  Visit my stores for 20% off everything now through Sunday.

Jen's TPT

Jen's TN

Sunday update:
Also, I'm in a couple of giveaways!  Check out Marie's giveaway at The Hands-On Teacher!  It's a fun giveaway to celebrate 200 followers, and you might win my Guided Reading Guide...
Check out Jessica's giveaway at Mrs. Stanford's Class!  It's a 500 follower giveaway, and you could win several items from my TPT store...

Tune in Tuesday for my Bloggiversary Giveaway!!  You could win over 30 teaching resources!!

Please welcome Michele from Miss Nelson's Got the Camera.  Her blog is so cute, with many helpful posts.  Be sure to check her out!

Hi! I'm Michele from Miss Nelson's Got the Camera. I’m glad to be guest blogging here today. Thank you Jen for having me.Today I’m going to share some tips for motivating students and using incentives to increase a desired behavior. I've taught for 10 years so over the years, I've had a chance to add tools and tricks to my teaching bag. I use many different tricks and tools and some years I change it up depending on my students. If you don’t agree with candy or treasure box items you could always use stickers, stamps, extra recess, free reading time, etc.

Brownie Points- This is a sweet way to get kids motivated to walking quietly on campus, being polite in the lunchroom and being on their best behavior at specials. This system is used whole group for positive behaviors. The kids love trying to earn brownie points. Each time the class earns a compliment from another teacher or faculty member, they receive a brownie on the cookie sheet. When the cookie sheet is full, the students receive a brownie party to celebrate their great behavior. Click here for a free brownie point header.

Secret Star-Anytime we exit the classroom, I tell my students that I am looking for a secret star to make it to our destination without talking. I pick a card out of my secret star container. I tell my students that I am watching to see if my “secret star” is walking nicely and quietly. My kids love this little task and my line is always silent. When we get back to the classroom, the secret start gets a starburst. If you can’t do candy you could do a sticker, stamp, etc. Since nobody knows who the "Secret Star" is, everybody is usually very quiet in case it might be him or her. If the "Secret Star" is not quiet then I simply state that "My Secret Star did not make it this time." I don't tell who it was. This works wonders for getting the students to walk quietly in the hallways and it's also fun.

Mystery Trash- To keep my floors clean and room tidy, I get my students motivated by playing the game of Mystery Trash. To play, I pick a mystery piece of trash or mystery object out of place. It could even be a chair that needs pushed in or book that needs put in its proper place. As soon as I announce that there is mystery trash, the students race to pick up as much trash as they can find. If they find the mystery object, they get to go to the treasure box or pick from the lollipop tree.

Smarties/Lollipop Tree- When my students make a 100 on an AR test of 100 on a computer program, I allow them to ring a bell and wave around the Smartypants flag. After they parade around the room, they can choose some smarties or a lollipop.  The best part about the lollipop tree is there are some lollipops with a mark at the end. If they are extra lucky and draw with a mark, they visit the treasure box. Need lollipops? Click here to view Original Dum-Dum-Pops - 360 pcs on Amazon. {affiliate link}

Handwriting Hero/ Printing Princess- I don’t get to spend as much time on handwriting practice as I wish. To motivate my students, I use this little incentive. Before writing, I tell my students I am looking for a Printing Princess and Handwriting Hero. I then pick one girl and one boy who had fabulous handwriting for the day. You will be amazed at my student’s handwriting just because they are trying to earn this award. Their work is then displayed for the week on a special wall.

Lucky Ducks- I use lucky ducks for running errands or calling on students to answer questions. I have Popsicle sticks with a picture of a duck and their class number. If their number is drawn then they are the lucky duck.

Magic Necklace- During stations my student know that I’m looking for a friend to earn the magic necklace. My magic necklace happens to be a solar bead necklace. When they wear it in the sun, it changes colors. I choose one person a day.

Care Bears- This is great if you don’t like giving out candy. Sometimes I pass out teddy grahams to students who are “caring” for others or “caring” about their work. It’s also great for my student who is allergic to eggs, nuts, milk, etc.

I'd love for you to come visit my blog at Run! Miss Nelson's Got the Camera!
Don't judge, but the song Summer Nights is stuck in my head today.  
File:Grease ver2.jpg
I've loved this song for ages, even though I had to break it off temporarily after working in a tex-mex restaurant that had karaoke 4 nights a week... I heard Friends in Low Places and Summer Nights sung off key so many times I lost count.    I'm loving being tracked out, but July is coming up fast... too fast.

Confession time - look away, because this is just too embarrassing... I went to school this morning.  {gasp!}  I know; it's a perfectly good Sunday morning, and I went in for an hour to clean out my mailbox and see if my classroom is still as clean as I left it.  (There were rumors about a carpet-cleaning crew coming in and moving all of the furniture, but it looked ok.  Maybe they forgot to clean my carpets??)  Anywho, my room still looks intact, I tracked down my Donor's Choose package before it ended up being distributed to another class, and I watered my plants.  It felt good.  There - I said it.  It was reassuring.  

The problem is, I go back for workdays July 2.  Students arrive July 9.  While that is an entirely different month than June, I can't help but notice that June is slipping on past.  No point in dwelling on it, 'cause I'm 
going to shop and be a mom today.  Possibly exercise, but probably not.
Please give me an excuse to avoid the gym today.
My bloggiversary is coming up soon, and I'm putting together some *huge* festivities!  So far, a dozen bloggers are contributing, so keep tuned!  If you're interested in helping me celebrate, just let me know.  Enjoy your weekend!!
I'm at the beach this week, but I thought I'd bring you a quick round up (in no particular order) of some Amazing Resources for Reading I found online.  Best part of all?  They are all free!!

The Teacher's College Reading and Writing Project has their Reading Assessments online!
Reading Assessments

You can download and print assessments to determine reading level (GR levels A-Z), Letter/Sound identification, and Concepts About Print.  I'll use this for those kiddos who hang out on a level for so long that they can read the book from our AlphaKids kit, even though they are not proficient at that level.  They also have writing assessments available.
Author Mary Pope Osborne's Teacher Resource Center:
Fact Tracker Showdown
Magic Tree House Teacher Resources
 My second graders love Magic Tree House books, and here are teaching guides for each book/fact tracker, as well as printables.  All for free.  Love it!
Intervention Central - A must for every teacher!  Tons of resources to help with RTI.
I highly recommend that you download/read the Reading Intervention Manual.  It has 4 interventions for fluency and 10 for reading comprehension.
Florida Center for Reading Research (FCRR) is absolutely fabulous, particularly for center activities.  I blogged about it here.
My very first post (almost 1 year ago!!) showcased Printables from Fountas and Pinnell.  Here's the link to read more.

My wheels are spinning, trying to think of how to celebrate my bloggiversary...  Any ideas?  If you are interested in joining me for a giveaway, just give me a holler!  hellomrssykes(at)gmail(dot)com.
I'm in full-fledged summer track out mode - making friends with the pool, my local thrift stores, trashy mysteries, and afternoon naps.  Believe me when I say that very few projects are getting finished at this moment...  My ADD is in full swing.  It's taken several  many hours to get this far in this post, because I keep starting something else, like packing to go here...

Emerald Isle Pictures

taking these guys to the pool...

and assorted other things, like make dinner, clean up, make s'mores over a campfire in our backyard {so fun!  hubby's idea!!}

Anywhoooo... I thought I'd share some random bits of awesome I found while websurfing:

Genre poster - love the way they highlight the similarities of different genres!
PluckyMomo has a fabulous Summer of Fun activity pack that I might use with my own kiddos -
Read Tennessee has a bunch of CCSS resources for Pre-K-3rd grades...
Read Tennessee
And just for giggles...
Also, I'm looking for a few guest bloggers to pick up my slack highlight over the summer.  Obviously, I'm not going to get a whole lot done here myself!!  :)  Interested?  Leave a comment below or email me at  Enjoy your weekend!!!
Several people have asked about the year round school schedule and how it works...  Here's my explanation:  {Please note: the dates are old - that's because this is an old post.  Enjoy!}

FAQs About Year-Round Schools from a Teacher
It can be super-duper confusing, so let's start with the calendar.  Here's the multi-track year-round calendar from my district for 2011-2012:

A Sample from 2011-2012.  It still works similarly.
I'm on track 1, so anywhere you see red is when I'm in school with students.  My workdays are during the track-outs (the white days - students are not in school).  As you can see, each "track" has its own color, and there are always 3 tracks in at a time.  Since we have 8 2nd grade teachers and 7 classrooms, we actually will be moving out of our classroom when we track out, and the teacher returning from their break moves into the classroom.  The building's capacity is for only 3 tracks in at a time, so year-round schools actually "hold" one-third more students than a traditional calendar school.

Here are answers to specific questions I've been asked:
Do you really teach all year long?  Nope.  I teach 10 months, but they are spread out over a school year.  I don't have 2 months off for summer, but I do have other breaks during the year.  Students come for 180 days in NC.
What happens when school is cancelled for snow?  When we have a snow day, the school is closed, even to teachers.  We go for a short session on the following Saturday to make up the day with students, with no breakfast, recess, or lunch on Saturdays.
What?  School on Saturdays?  Really?  Yep.  It doesn't happen often in NC, but we all know that it's just a part of the year-round schedule.  Students are dismissed early on those days, so we are only there for about 5 hours - not a whole day.
Don't you miss your long summer break?  Not really.  If you look back at the calendar, you'll see I had a 2.5 week break in September, a 4 week break in December, 3 weeks off in March, and the month of June off, too.  Since I love to go to the beach at any point in the year, it works great for my family.
Does this eliminate the "summer slide?"  It's really pretty cool, since my kiddos don't forget as much over a 3 or 4 week break as they do over 2 months of summer.  We don't need to spend as much time reviewing the prior grade at the beginning of the year.

I know it sounds really confusing, but the truth is, I love this schedule!  It's great to have a break every quarter, and I feel like I have a lot more quality time with the kiddos in my house!!  :)  You'll hear me complain a bit about clopening and starting in July, but it has its distinct advantages, too.  Oh, and our paychecks come year-round, too!  Our annual pay is split out over 12 months, so we don't have to scrounge to pay bills over the summer - sweet!

Happy Saturday!!  I'm going to get outside and enjoy this beautiful NC weather.
I know... you're wondering why the title of this post mentions cabbage, right?  It's not really a common topic on teaching blogs, so I understand your curiosity.  When I arrived home yesterday after a l-o-o-o-n-g day, I found 8 heads of cabbage on my kitchen counter.  Really!
It turns out that we have big plans this weekend, and I had completely flaked on remembering!  My hubby has the cabbages to make oodles of coleslaw for a *huge* annual pig pickin' (it's a southern thing, y'all!)  Anywho, I'm really excited, as it means I'll be seeing a couple hundred family members and friends this weekend!!  What I nice way to celebrate the end of our school year.  Which leads me to...

(sniff) the Last Day Blues!  I said goodbye to my class today.  It was hard, since they are really a phenomenal bunch.  We invited their families to an end-of-year picnic, which was in the classroom due to the rain.  It was amazing to see students with their parents, siblings, aunts, grandparents, etc.  The adults were all welcoming of my buddies whose families couldn't make it, and everyone had a grand time.  (sniff)

Thanks for reading my ramblings...
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