Thursday, November 28, 2013

Wow Wednesday & Thankful Thursday

I have an exciting giveaway for you today, so be sure to read all the way to the bottom to enter! It’s unlike any giveaway I’ve seen on a teaching blog before :)

I only had two days of school this week, but I still want to share a “wow” from my week. I’m linking up with Emily & her pals at Curious Firsties!

You might remember that when I moved this year, I found a great new position- but it was only a half-time position. To be honest… it’s been a little tough on me. I really, really miss the classroom and sometimes I don’t feel as great about myself as a teacher because I just don’t feel like I’m able to teach to my potential, if that makes sense.

I do love working with kids who are low in skills. These kids need me- if not for reading help, for basic love and attention- and I absolutely adore working with those kids. And I’m fine-tuning a lot of my RTI skills this year, which is fantastic for if I ever do move back into the classroom.

But my “Wednesday Wow” for this week is that I’ve started a long-term subbing position in the afternoons- so for a few weeks, I’m working full-time! The ESL teacher at my school needed to be out until after winter break, and my principal worked out a way for me to sub for her every afternoon.

This is “my” room for the afternoon- just look at the resources she has! (And that’s not even going into her cabinets, which are full of tons more!)


It feels amazing that my principal went to special trouble to have ME teaching those kids, but it also just feels great to spend all day at school and feel like I really get to use my talents!

I know, I know. I’m a person who is actually ENJOYING more hours of work—but I’m so thankful to have a job I love so much!

I am also incredibly thankful for all of you!

Thank you   for your support.

Thank you   for validating my teaching ideas.

Thank you   for commenting, sharing ideas, and becoming friends.

To say thanks, I want to offer 3 copies of my newest Text Detectives pack for free. I’m working on the last few passages in the next couple of days, and I’m so excited to give some away! It includes passages about Holidays Around the World, winter and snow, and some December fiction.


Plus, I want to offer something one-of-a-kind.

My uncle is an incredible artist who has recently turned his talent into a business called Imitation Station.

He can take a photo and turn it into a personalized sketch. What I really love is that he can do a more realistic sketch or more of a caricature to match exactly what you want!

He can even do a portrait of a celebrity. Because he’s my godfather, I’m lucky to have three of his portraits as gifts—Josh Groban (my celebrity crush) and two of Donald Driver (my absolute favorite football player!). They are incredible- and such a great gift.

Every piece of art is completely unique and hand-drawn.

You can order your own custom caricatures and sketches from Imitation Station’s website and Facebook page. (He even offers Facebook promotions sometimes, so it’s worth following!) He even guarantees your satisfaction with the final product!

As the grand prize of this giveaway, you can win a $40 gift certificate from Imitation Station plus FREE shipping in the continental U.S.!

Enter to win a Text Detectives pack or a custom caricature using the Rafflecopter below! :) Thank you so much for being a fan, and happy Thanksgiving! The giveaway runs until midnight Monday, December 2nd.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, November 22, 2013

The Gift of Reading Blog Hop-- Stop #8

Welcome to Luckeyfrog's Lilypad. You have arrived at  


At each blog stop, you will be gathering Reading gifts and freebies.  In each post you will find a picture of a snowman with a letter on it. Collect all of the letter to solve the mystery quote to enter the giveaway. Record all of the letters on your recording sheet and follow each blog along the way so that you can enter the amazing giveaway at the end!

The hop is set up as a loop, so you may start anywhere along the hop, but if you would like to start at the beginning you may go to A Day In The Life of A Title I Teacher's blog.  This is also where you will go after you finish the hop to enter the giveaway!!

I'm so glad you're here! I'm a reading specialist in Ohio and I have always loved reading. I've even gotten a chance to work with Scholastic Reading Club this year!

The last two years, I taught 2nd and 3rd grade. These students are just starting to venture past decoding and into deeper books with more emotion and more complicated, interesting stories- which I LOVE!

The tricky part, though, is that while many of them can do basic word decoding, they struggle with the bigger words that come with these new books (especially chapter books!). I work with my students a lot on "chunking," or breaking a big word apart into smaller parts that they know or can decode. 

I developed a few games for my class that specifically help my students build confidence at breaking apart these smaller words and get better at recognizing phonics patterns within multisyllabic words. 

The words are slightly split apart to help students develop this skill, and use common suffixes.

To make it more fun, I turned this into a card game with "Naughty" or "Nice" cards that will randomly turn up in the game and cause them to give back cards or get extra cards! The kids in my class have really loved this type of game and I see a huge difference in their willingness to dive in and apply their phonics skills to even those "big" words!

You can pick up Naughty or Nice: A Multisyllabic Word Decoding/ Fluency Game here at my TpT store. (Be sure to check out some of my other freebies while you're there!)

My secret letter is...

Thank you for stopping by my blog today! I hope that you enjoyed your gift and learned something new. If you would like to be the first to know about new post, giveaways, and blog hops follow me on Bloglovin' by clicking the image below. You can find my other social media on the top right of the page!

Don't stop now! Hop on over to Mrs. D's Literacy Lab to pick up another amazing reading gift! Happy Holidays! 

If you get lost along the way download the Hop Map here to easily pick back up where you left off! 

Thank you so much for visiting! Enjoy the hop!

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Wednesday, November 20, 2013

How to Make a Teacher Portfolio That Gets You the Job!

When you walk into an interview for a teaching job, you want to feel confident in your skills but also your ability to show them off!

In some careers, a resume’ listing experience might be enough, but in teaching, I think it’s a huge boon to go into an interview with a portfolio that really shows the details of that “elementary teacher” position you’ve had (or student teaching).

Creating a Teaching Portfolio that Gets You the Job!

It’s been awhile since I added my On The Hunt for a Teaching Job series, but I know seeing others’ portfolios really helped me (especially as a new teacher!) so I want to share mine.

Creating a Teaching Portfolio that Gets You the Job!

For my portfolio, I picked up a professional binder. Yes, it’s expensive, but you want the cover to say, “I’m credible and you need to look at me!” I used a pre-made Word template to make a cover page and added a photo of me with my class as well as my contact information.

Creating a Teaching Portfolio that Gets You the Job!

In the pocket, I include a resume, and the inside has a matching cover page that works sort of like an informal cover letter.  I started with my favorite teaching quote, and used it as a springboard to describe my passion for teaching. I didn’t  rehash my resume’ here- but instead wanted to get them interested in me.

Creating a Teaching Portfolio that Gets You the Job!

(Note: Please feel free to use something similar, but please DON’T copy exactly what I wrote. You want it to be unique to YOU!)

Another option is to make a brochure. This is really great to leave after an interview, especially if it has a picture so they remember which face goes with which name!

Creating a Teaching Portfolio that Gets You the Job!

Inside, I use dividers to make it clear where I can find certain things. Notice that I said “I can find,” not “the administrator can find.” Administrators may never ask to see your portfolio or have time to do much with it, but if you happen to be in for an interview, a portfolio can be SO helpful! You can see my dividers here, now that I have a few years of experience:

Creating a Teaching Portfolio that Gets You the Job!

Here, you can see my dividers before my last update, when I hadn’t taught in my own classroom.

Creating a Teaching Portfolio that Gets You the Job!

In the past, I just stuck in pages of things I’d done. Most were printed out worksheets, assessments, parent notes, etc. And that was okay, but this time around I decided to show a little more.

One HUGE benefit of blogging is that I take lots more pictures of the things going on in my classroom. So, for instance, when I wanted to show my creative lessons, ta – da!

Creating a Teaching Portfolio that Gets You the Job!

I wanted to showcase classroom management, and again, I already had the photos. It’s a great way to not just tell what I would do, but show it. I want principals to be able to imagine me and my classroom in their school!

Creating a Teaching Portfolio that Gets You the Job!

I still kept examples of work and other things behind each section, but these pages made it look really polished.

Even if you’re not going to post them on a blog, I’d recommend finding a cheap point-and-shoot camera (or even a smartphone, if you have one) to take photos of your classroom and projects you do. It really helps when a principal wants to imagine you not in a suit, sitting in the office, but in classroom working with students.

What’s really great about these pages is that you can print another copy (or go to FedEx Office for more color copies if you just have way too much money) and leave a mini-portfolio at schools without having to leave your nice binder. I used these mini-portfolios when I dropped off resume’s in person, too!

Creating a Teaching Portfolio that Gets You the Job!

When you consider what to include, make sure you think about the basics (classroom management, reading, math, engaging instruction, differentiation, assessment and data, organization), but don’t forget to include a section with your credentials and any honors/ certificates/ professional development/ licenses you may have! (Page protectors will keep you from having to hole punch those important papers.)

Think about what makes you unique as a teacher. When they say, “What are your strengths?,” what will you show them?

Creating a Teaching Portfolio that Gets You the Job!

Don’t be afraid to make it unique and bright! For some other professions, you might not want to add color or any element of cute, but I think as long as it looks professional, colorful works really well for standing out.

If you’re new here, be sure you check out the rest of this series and my new teacher tips!

new teacher guide logo

Next in the On The Hunt series: How to Stand Out (Even Before a Teaching Interview)
Teaching Job Hunt Tips

Thanks for visiting!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

What I’m Loving Lately

Today has been a long day. I had a sub this morning so I could go to a computer training, subbed in the afternoon, finished up some prep for our Family Reading and Math Night, and stayed at school until we cleaned up from that at 8.

Any other teachers pulled a 12-hour-workday lately? Whew! Good thing I love teaching.

I am feeling tired, but still thinking positive- so I wanted to share some of my favorite things lately.


My Daymaker gave me the cutest little package of Post-Its and my favorite candy—peanut butter M&M’s. I may or may not have eaten a lot of these instead of dinner tonight when I stayed at school!


Jolly Rancher Watermelon soda? Crazy delicious. I’ve been trying to drink less soda lately, but this is absolutely worth the calories once in awhile!


I’m usually not a designer girl, but I found this on sale because it’s “last season’s pattern," and I just loved the bright colorful design. Even better, this is basically just a wallet with a strap, so I can’t really stuff way too much in it!


Victoria’s Secret Sparkling Citrus—Lemon Escape hand & body cream. I’m not usually a fan of coconut, but this lotion makes me smell like a yellow Starburst!


Picked up this elephant necklace from Target. It’s random, but I love it!


I also got these at Target- cute flats that are actually comfortable. I normally can’t really do flats, but I am wearing these constantly because I can actually wear them all day and they are so CUTE too!

Oh, and I can’t believe I forgot to take a picture of Candy Cane Hershey kisses! I can’t wait til they come out every year, and this year I didn’t know they were out yet until my husband surprised me with some. So sweet- and delicious!

The last thing I’m loving?


I posted my November edition of Super Text Detectives on TpT, and people have been leaving me such sweet feedback! Thank you— I get an email whenever there is a new sale or piece of  feedback, and it truly makes my day!

If you liked my freebies for Finding Text Evidence, be sure to check out this Super Text Detectives pack! It includes 10 non-fiction and 5 fiction passages.

What are you loving lately? :)

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Giving THANKS for Teacher Time-Savers!

I’m teaching half-time this year and still feel like I never have enough time to do everything I’d like to do! I’ve figured out a few ways to save time as a teacher and they really help me fit it all in. Here are some time-saving tips that you might be able to bring to your classroom!

1) Create your own forms for anything you create on a regular basis.

Luckeyfrog's Lilypad Lesson Plan Template

My lesson plan format saves me SO much time every single week. (Pick up free planning template and lesson plan tips here.)

Luckeyfrog's Lilypad Data Form for Teachers  Luckeyfrog's Lilypad Data Forms for Teachers

Here are my data forms from last year and this year- so worth the time investment!

2) Don’t give yourself too many things to change each day or week! Remember- keep it simple!

Luckeyfrog's Lilypad Must Do Board     Luckeyfrog's Lilypad Center Rotation Wheel

This Must Do board was so easy to change out each week for Daily 5 Accountability, and back when I did more traditional “centers,” having a rotating wheel was SO much easier than moving a ton of cards! (I even kept centers as simple as I could, like the Word Detective center—free in my store if you don’t have it yet!)

3) Do things ahead of time!

                            Luckeyfrog's Lilypad- student birthdays

Okay, maybe this isn’t exactly saving time, but I like to set myself up for success later. Rather than worrying about morning work copies each week, do them ahead for a month or two. Rather than having to prepare birthday certificates and things one at a time, fill out all of the certificates in order for the year at the beginning, and then stick everything together in one spot so it’s easy to grab that morning!

4) Use Post-It notes to move seating charts.

Luckeyfrog's Lilypad- Post-It Seating Charts

It’s so much easier than moving a million desks- and bonus, if you make your seating chart in a file folder and stick it in your sub folder, it’s one less thing to worry about for a sub!

5) Use your storage to minimize transition time!

Luckeyfrog's Lilypad- Supply Storage

This year, as a reading specialist, the two of us who share our room put together this little supply station. It’s right next to our table, so it’s easy to grab the basket we need and put it where students can easily access supplies.

Luckeyfrog's Lilypad- Supply Storage     Luckeyfrog's Lilypad- Supply Storage

Last year, in the classroom, I concentrated a lot on making manipulatives easy to hand out quickly. (Shower caddy for our math journals and reading response notebooks, and Target Dollar Spot boxes for place value blocks- I can let one student from each group get their supplies and it’s quick and easy!)

Luckeyfrog's Lilypad- Supply Storage     Luckeyfrog's Lilypad- Supply Storage

Cups, bowls, recycled materials, and of course Target finds worked really well for easy, cheap, stackable storage. The ones below were perfect for when my students played games—everything they needed in one easy grab!

                                            Luckeyfrog's Lilypad- Supply Storage

6) Put frequently dialed, important numbers right on the phone so you never have to look them up!

Luckeyfrog's Lilypad- Teacher Time-Savers

Also PERFECT for subs- just in case someone gets sick or they have a question.

What are your time-saving teacher tips?

Link up your time-savers with Blog Hoppin’!