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Teacher Week - 5 Fun Facts About Me!

Hey everyone!

My name is Susan Jones from Thank God it's First and I am SO excited to kick off Teacher Week 2105! We are just getting warmed up so let us know 5 fun things about YOU!

Here is a little about me!

I met my wonderful husband, Parker, 8 years ago in college when we were paired together for a public speaking presentation. We have been married for 2 years and we have one handsome son, Theo, who will be one in October! Parks started his own business, PJ's Design Laboratory, where he creates blog designs and does a lot of work with branding and creating logos for other online business! Theo spends most of his time crawling and eating and fighting naps just to drive us crazy ;)

Our story goes a little bit like this:
First comes love - oh, we were so young!

Then comes marriage:

Last, comes a Theo, in a baby carriage

To read more about Parker, Theo, and myself, I have a little family blog, Late Nights and Lattes, which I update about once a month!

That was us in February when we signed on our new home in Massachusetts! We got to move in this past April and *most* of the snow had melted, thank goodness! I was born and raised in Salem, MA and went to college at a state school only minutes away from my house. As soon as Parker and I graduated college we skipped town and moved to Las Vegas for 3 years. We L-O-V-E it there! The weather, the affordability, the restaurants, the everything. The only thing we were missing is family... which in the end, is why we packed everything up and drove back home to Massachusetts to settle down.

Wheel of Fortune!! If you've been a follower of my blog for the past few years then this isn't a new fact, but it's still fun nonetheless! Wayyy back in 2007 I was on Wheel of Fortune - Celebrity Week! My partner was Jeff Probst, the host of Survivor! I came in second place and walked away with $6100. It was the BEST experience I had in college and is such a fun story to tell. The other two celebrities on my episode were Paige Hemmis from Extreme Home Makeover and Allison Sweeney from Days of Our Lives and Biggest Loser.

A few more pics for fun:

Yep. I sure do! I wanted to teach first grade from the instant I knew I wanted to be a teacher. I had always wanted to teach the younger grades and I vividly remember my first grade teacher, Mrs. Erps, who I just loved. First grade seemed like a magical year and SO much growth happens. I knew I wanted to be a part of that special time in a child's life. I was very lucky to be hired for a first grade job in Las Vegas and it is where I have stayed for the past 5 years.

This year would've been my 6th year in first grade, but I actually decided to take a year or two off from teaching and stay home with my little man. My previous school is about one hour away from my house and had extended hours (kids were in school from 7:30-3:35), which meant I was away from about 6am - 5pm. It was an extremely hard decision, but I figured there wouldn't be a better time to take off than now! In a year or two, I will look for a job a bit closer to home... and hopefully continue teaching FIRST grade!

I went to 2 different colleges over 5 years (womp womp.. so much for transferring credits) and it wasn't until I transferred that I officially decided I wanted to become a teacher. My original career path was to be an event planner.

I let a lot of naysayers scare me away from teaching at first. I wasn't going to make enough money. There was too much stress. You have no control. The parents. The principal. Yada. Yada. Yada. I got cold feet and started my undergraduate career in a hospitality and tourism management field. I had fleeting dreams of organizing and running glamorous weddings and parties. Well, that only lasted a year or so before I realized that I didn't care what anyone thought.... I wanted to be a teacher and there was no stopping me!

So there you have it! Those are a few fun facts about me and I cannot wait to hear all about YOU! Link up your post below, write on our Facebook wall, Periscope yourself, or take a picture or two on Instagram (#teacherweek15)

Happy teacher week! :)

Teacher Week 2015 is Here!!

Heyyyyyyy everyone, teacher week is here and we are SO excited to connect with you all!

For years, I have loved linking up with Blog Hoppin' and reading all sorts of fun stuff about other teachers out there. It's nice to get to know one another, see where you work, and hear some of the things help get you through a tough work week.

That being said, we are back with another year - Teacher Week 2015! It starts in a couple days (Monday, August 31st) and I am here to outline how you can participate!

First off, here are the topics for the week:

and here are the individual buttons for each day explaining a little more:

This year we are making it even easier to participate! Here's what you can do:

1. Write a blog post
Each day this week a Blog Hopper will write a post sharing a little about them. At the bottom of each post you will be able to link up your blog post so we have one collective area to read all about one another!

2. Instagram
Don't have time to write a post?! Just share a picture on instagram, tag Blog Hoppin' (you can find us HERE) and use the hashtag #teacherweek15! Who doesn't love a good teacher pic!?

3. Periscope
Are you on it?! Such an easy way to share some quick facts about yourself or show off your favorite meal for the week! Just let your followers know you'll be participating so we can watch!

4. Facebook
Ok, so maybe you don't have a blog, but you have a great classroom picture you want to share or you want to let us know your favorite subject to teach and why! Head over to our facebook on the day you want to share and just leave a comment on our page!

So there you have it. 

Connect with us, celebrate with us, let us get to know you and let's all have a GREAT school year this year :)

Happy teaching!

Do you GoNoodle? Do you GoNoodle PLUS???

 Hey friends!   Holly here from Mrs. Ehle's Kindergarten Connections.  Since we are all in the "Back to School" mode now, I figured I'd share a little bit about one of my back-to-school life savers...

I'm guessing that MOST of you already know what GoNoodle is.  
{So, if you do... hop down to the midpoint of my post to see what's new with GoNoodle PLUS!}

If you DON'T know what GoNoodle is... read on (and thank me later! LOL).

GoNoodle is an online program that helps teachers and parents get kids moving with short interactive activities. Desk-side movement helps kids achieve more by keeping them engaged and motivated throughout the day!  GoNoodle is designed with K-5 classrooms in mind.

Here are the GoNoodle Facts...

  • It's Free. Any teacher, anywhere, can create a free GoNoodle account and start using movement activities right away.
  • It's Research-based: Using exercise science and cutting-edge research, we’ve designed all of GoNoodle’s activities to be healthy for the body, engaging for the attention, and beneficial to the brain in specific ways.
  • It's Fast: Transition from listless to engaged in minutes. GoNoodle takes no time to setup, has content of a variety of lengths (from 1 minute to 20 minutes), and just requires you to press play.
  • It's Designed for Long-Term Engagement: GoNoodle makes earning minutes of healthy activity a game that your kids play together. Motivate kids to stay active. Each class chooses a Champ -- a virtual mascot -- who grows as the class earns the minutes needed to advance to the next level. Reward them for engagement by helping them grow their Champ.
  • Multiple Classes: For teachers who see multiple groups of kids each day, GoNoodle can be easily set up so that each class has their own game progress, Champ, and rewards.

So....What's Required???

GoNoodle is designed for use in the average classroom. All the teacher needs is:
  • A computer.
  • A broadband internet connection.
  • A screen that all students can see (e.g., a projector, interactive whiteboard, or big monitor).
Already know all about GoNoodle?   
Then have you heard about .....

GoNoodle PLUS takes student engagement and achievement to a whole new level with core-aligned movement activities! 

Wondering what you can do with GoNoodle PLUS???

You can....

Channel kid energy and stimulate learning

Without leaving the classroom, students participate in a variety of purposeful movement designed to get the wiggles out and refocus the classroom.

Integrate movement with core subjects

We worked with core subject experts to create highly re-playable movement activities that develop memory and fluency in math, spelling, and vocabulary. The result: teachers tell us GoNoodle Plus helps students perform better.

Enough content for the entire school year

Our GoNoodle Plus activities have a ton of unique content so students will stay engaged for the entire school year. Teachers especially love the customizable word lists in Bodyspell, the thousands of math questions in Mega Math Marathon, and the variety of 13 different categories in Freeze It.

Move through any subject

GoNoodle Plus users get access to My Questions -- a feature which allows teachers to create and share custom sets of questions on any topic that can be played in select GoNoodle Plus activities. With My Questions, GoNoodle Plus can be used to practice ANY subject.

AHHH!  Folks, "My Questions" is an AWESOME feature!  It brings review lessons to LIFE!  Your kiddos will LOVE it!

Want to know more?  Straight from GoNoodle, here are some FAQs:

What does GoNoodle Plus include?
GoNoodle Plus includes all the features of GoNoodle, with unlimited access to the following GoNoodle Plus activities.

Where do I find the GoNoodle Plus activities?

When you have access to GoNoodle Plus, you'll find a GoNoodle Plus channel button on the Channel view. All the GoNoodle Plus activities are contained in that channel.

How much does GoNoodle Plus cost?

Any user can upgrade to a GoNoodle Plus subscription for $99 per year or $10 per month. Also, your first 15 days are free -- you can cancel GoNoodle Plus at any time during that 15 day trial and never be billed. 

How do I purchase GoNoodle Plus?

To start your 15 day free trial, click the Try GoNoodle Plus button on the Teacher Dashboard page in your GoNoodle account. 

I was given GoNoodle Plus through a sponsorship. What does that mean?

Congratulations! If you received GoNoodle Plus when you registered, it's because an organization in your area sponsored GoNoodle Plus for teachers! There's nothing for you to do -- enjoy your access and share the great news with other teachers!

I paid for GoNoodle Plus. When does it expire?

To see when your GoNoodle Plus subscription expires, visit the Teacher Dashboard and click the gear icon in the top right of the page. You'll see when you will be auto-billed again. If you wish to cancel, you can cancel auto-bill from this screen. When cancelled, your GoNoodle Plus access will continue until you reach the end of your subscription period, at which point your account will return to a free account. 

Can my school or district purchase GoNoodle Plus at a discount?

Yes! Email us at or call us at 1 (877) 262-9269

If I don't like GoNoodle Plus, can I cancel for a refund?

If you cancel within your first 15 days, we'll never bill you. After your 15 day free trial period is up, GoNoodle Plus subscriptions are pre-paid for the year or month in advance, depending on your payment option. 

Do I have to use GoNoodle Plus to continue to use GoNoodle?

Not at all. GoNoodle is free and always will be. GoNoodle Plus is a premium version of GoNoodle that gives paid subscribers access to additional content designed to integrate physical activity and core-subject practice.

If you haven't experienced GoNoodle yet....I KNOW you will love it!

If you are already a GoNoodler....than check out the GoNoodle PLUS features and step up your GoNoodle game today!  

Oh... And GoNoodle now has a "Share" resource page jam-packed with free "Champ" clipart (like the Champs you see in this post!), parent letters, school letters and more!  Check it out HERE!

Now go enjoy your new class... and when they get wiggly and off-task.... introduce them to one of my GoNoodle "Champ" Freckles Sinclair or McPufferson! 

Have a great year!     Holly

Tutorial: High Resolution Board Covers on Pinterest

Hi everyone! It's Kristen from Ladybug's Teacher Files and I am so excited to share something new I just discovered. After months and MONTHS of looking around for an answer!!

Have you ever noticed how some board covers on Pinterest look grainier than others sometimes? I kept noticing how some of my covers looked so crisp and clean, while others of mine looked grainy and funny size-wise. The photo on the left looks so high-resolution and the one on the right...just grainy:
 (click on the images to see the difference)

Same thing here:

So I tried all kinds of tutorials out there (feeling relieved that it was bothering other type-A people as well, haha!) but to no avail.

Until I started a new board the other day. 

I created the board and started to move some old pins over to the new board. I went with one of my old favorite pins and took a look at the board. Since Pinterest using the first pin you place on the board, this pin automatically became the cover. And it looked great! High-resolution, no graininess whatsoever!

But the minute I used the "change cover" tool to set the cover? It altered the resolution, making it appear more grainy:

And it kind of makes sense this would happen. As I learned from an excellent article (The Pioneer Woman: Why Your Photos May Look Bad on the Web) the photos we upload to Pinterest and Facebook are automatically compressed and this leads to a loss of resolution.

So while actual pins look great and do not lose too much of the quality, the pins moved through the "change cover" tool are compressed and do lose the quality we love.

And the quality can be important, especially if you'd like to add some text to your covers:
So how do we get high-quality pin covers?

Well, it's pretty easy and there are two ways to get those long as you avoid the "change cover" tool. 

1. Create a new pin board. Go to an old pin that you would like to see as the cover for your new board. Select your pin and click the red "copy" button (or move if you'd like to move it completely to your new board):

2. Upload a new image to Pinterest:

And select your new board to set this first image as the cover:

What about your old boards? 

Ultimately, this tutorial is for new boards you create in the future. If you have established boards with tons of pins, I wouldn't worry about changing anything. 

However, if you have smaller boards with fewer pins, you can always move these pins over to a brand new board of the same name. I have been doing that with a few of mine. I just add a 2 to my old board and create a new board with the same name (new board: Classroom Organization, old board: Classroom Organization 2). Then I just move the pins from Classroom Organization 2 over to the new board I want and delete the old board when I am done.  

Please Note: Changing boards can mean losing some followers of a particular board.

Since some people choose to follow specific boards, changing any board could lose some of these followers...which is why this tutorial is really ideal for new boards above all.

I really hope this was of some help to you! Thanks so much for reading!

Back to School Gifts!

Hey y'all! I'm Michelle Hudgeons from Smitten With First. This will be my 7th year of teaching. I have taught Pre-K, Third, and First. Out of all of those, first grade is my absolute favorite. When I am not in the classroom, I am spending every moment I can with those two cuties you see below. They make my heart all kinds of big! 
When the girls at Blog Hoppin' asked me to join them I just about did 5,000ish flips down my driveway! Thank goodness we live out in the country where not that many people had to witness that! Whew.

Ok, let's get to it shall we?! I have a few back to school freebies for you all.

I am always trying to change up my back to school gifts that I give my team each year. I try to keep it very simple and cheap because we all know how much money we spend during those summer months. Lots! Can I get an amen?!? This year, I went with gum. Our grade level work room has a "choose joy" theme, so I made these tags that say "CHEWS Joy". I also made a few that say "Here's to a POPPING good year".

 Fonts by KG Fonts and DaFonts

 You can download both tags here. These tags by Sweet Metel Moments are perfect if you are looking for gum tags that your child can give to their teacher. 

When my daughter was in Kindergarten two years ago we made this pink basket for her teacher. 
She wanted to do the same thing for her teacher this year, so we grabbed a few pink items at Target and put them in a basket to let her teacher know that she is "tickled pink".    

 Fonts by MTF Fonts and DaFonts

You can download the tags here

This year our school is doing "Fired Up for Learning" with dragons  and a medieval times theme. I like to have some type of a treat for my kiddos to take back home with them from Meet the Teacher, so after finding this idea of using jelly beans for dragon eggs, I made these tags to staple to Ziplock bags. 

I also found this idea of using Doritos for dragon scales on Life is a Party. I will probably put these in our main workroom for all the teachers to have as a treat on the night of Meet the Teacher. These could also be a fun parent gift. Who doesn't love to eat chips?!  

 Fonts by Cara Carroll and MTF Fonts
Dragon clip art by Creative Clips 

You can download these tags here

Today is the first day back for teachers. I'm excited to get back to it, but I sure will miss wearing pajamas and no make up all day. Our students start back next Monday. How about you? When do your students start back?

First Day of School Activities!

We started school here in Indiana last week. Our first three days went so well! I'm excited for the year ahead. Here are a couple of first day activities that helped us get off to a good start.

 After reading a lot about classroom management this summer I knew I wanted to have students write a class pledge/promise together that we could all refer to as we go through the year. Having a statement that we all write together and feel responsible for is powerful. All the students got involved in the writing and everyone knows exactly what is expected in our classroom. I had our promise poster printed from Vista Print this summer, it worked out perfectly. It's laminated so I can write on it and wipe it off at the end of the year. Here's what we came up with!
I was so impressed with the response, I'm looking forward to adding this to my classroom management plan every year. I especially liked  "ask forgiveness when needed."

When students came in on the first day they had a copy of their name in bubble letters on their desks. They colored their names as I took attendance and helped those who didn't bring supplies on back to school night.
Then they glued their names to colored card stock and they went on the door next to our class pledge poster. I love how colorful and bright it is, and it's a great reminder all year what our expectations are.

The second thing that we do to make sure everyone knows our expectations is Amy Lemons School Rules booklet. There is a page for each of our classroom expectations, we write the expectation, draw a picture of what it looks like in the classroom, and finally write in their own words what they will do to show they will follow that expectation in the classroom. 

I did this with my class last year and I loved it. I know everyone knows the expectations, and understands how to follow them. It's also easy to see who isn't understanding and have a conversation with them as well. The last page of the booklet has a contract for students to sign and date saying they understand the expectations. I sent these home so parents could see them as well. I got lots of positive comments.

These are my two favorite ways to get the year started right. What do you do to help your students build classroom community and learn expectations? I'd love to hear your ideas!