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In my classroom, anchor charts are a crucial part of the learning process.  We create them together and leave them hanging in the room as a reference tool for students to use throughout the year.  One way that we create the charts together is by making them interactive.  Here's how.

I start by making a basic chart that outlines the purpose of the lesson.  This was a very basic one on author's purpose.

We talk about what author's purpose really means and the students discuss in small groups what types of literature fall into each category.  Each student then receives a post-it note to write down one example of written work.  Students are called up to place their post-it note under the correct category.
Once they are done, we have a completed chart!

Here is an example of an interactive anchor chart that we completed to talk about the parts of a reading response letter {read more here}.

Interactive anchor charts allow students to take ownership over the lesson.  I have found that students are more invested in the lesson and are eager to add their two cents to the board.  As the year goes on, they refer to the anchor charts more often since they were a part of it's creation.

As an added bonus, you can take the post-it notes off at the end of the year and re-use the same chart again the following year!  I recommend laminating it for durability.
Choosing a partner can be a daunting task for teachers and students alike.  A majority of the time I strategically choose partners for my students {depending on the task at hand} and there are times that I give them the a free choice option.  Sometimes, however, it is just easier if it is chosen at random.

1.  Laura Candler recommends The Hat for randomly choosing randomly choosing partners for students.  You can download and install it for free (only on PCs though).  Fun!

2. How creative is this idea from The Teacher Next Door?  She colors shapes on popsicle sticks.  The students grab one from the cup and match their stick up to a classmate to find their partner.  You could do this across 3 or 4 sticks, as well, to create larger groups.

3. Love this idea from Flamingo Fabulous!  It's a partner wheel.  Just line the wheels up and boom! You have a set of partners.

4. When I was student teaching in 3rd grade, my cooperating teacher would use clock partners.  It gives student's ownership over their own partners, as well as variety.  Once the initial creation of the clock is complete, it makes for a simple and quick pairing technique.

Students receive a blank clock template and put their name at the top.  Then they walk around the room, looking for partners for each time.  When they find a partner, they MUST put each other's names on the same time (this is where it gets a tad tricky).  For example, Caroline put Jacob down as her 1:00 partner.  Jacob must then put Caroline's name down for his 1:00 partner.

The completed clock can then be stored in a folder, sheet protector, etc.  and can be pulled out whenever the teacher asks.  At that point, the teacher would say "get with your 4:00 partner."  Easy-peasy!  Grab your free copy here!

5. Another great way is for students to "pick their partner."  Each student chooses a card and then needs to find their matching pair!  Example: We go together like cookies and milk.  Grab your copy here!
What are some ways that you have created partnerships or groups in your classroom?  I'd love to hear more!
As I was getting ready to head to Vegas, I wondered if other bloggers would recognize me.  My profile picture is not only 3 years old, but I'm also wearing sunglasses.  Sooo...no.  No one is going to know who I am.

A+ Images to the rescue!  They offered to send me a free custom t-shirt to help me proudly represent my blog.  I was able to create it to my liking on their custom design page.  How beautiful did it turn out??  
The colors are so crisp and clear.  The shirt is also super comfortable.  I may or may not have worn it twice {shh...don't tell!}.

While we were in Vegas, we hit up the A+ Images t-shirt booth.  They had this super cool prize wheel that we got to spin (and lots of awesome shirts)!
My roommate {The Takehome Teacher} won this shirt for me and I'm kinda in love with it.  Thanks Amanda!
If you are looking for something other than a custom or blog shirt, they have many teacher shirts to choose from.  This one is on my wish-list:
And, if you head over to Classroom Faces, you can check out these adorable shirts as well!  The students draw a picture of themselves and you turn it into a class t-shirt.  It's perfect for field trips!
Thanks A+ Images, I'll definitely be doing business again with you very soon!
I am an adult and I love to color.  {admit it - you do too!}

Two years ago, when I started teaching fifth grade, I was on the hunt for some activities to do the first week of school.  I came across the Doodle Art Alley website, where there are inspirational, motivational and educational quotes just waiting to be colored in.  It was a perfect project for my 5th graders!  We colored and then had discussions about what the quotes meant to us and how they could apply to our school year.  You can read more about it in {this} blog post.

Now, there are Doodle Art Alley books!  Aren't they beautiful?  Each book (there are 3) contains 50 doodle art images of sayings, quotes and words.
As soon as they showed up in my mailbox, I got to coloring right away!
Want to win your own copy of the books??  Download one (or both) of the coloring pages from the links below and print it out.  Color it in and post a picture of it to social media (FB, Twitter, Instagram) with the hashtag #colorfulapplecoloring.  You can even do this once a day to earn more entries!  Don't worry, I'm not going to judge you on your coloring skills - the winners will be chosen at random.  Feel free to include your family and friends in the contest!

Ready to start coloring??  Here are the links for the two pages:

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It's like summer camp for adults.  ~ Adam Freed, TpT CEO

 I never went to summer camp as a kid, but if it was anything like the TpT conference, then dang I sure missed out!    

I'm going to be honest here.  I wasn't sure if I was going to go to the conference this year.  I went last year and absolutely loved it.  But, did I really need to go again?  I knew ahead of time that I would be going by myself (my husband came last year).  I've never traveled alone before, so I was scared as heck to go to Vegas, of all places.

After our New England Blogger Meet-Up in February, I KNEW that I had to go.  And I'm sure glad that I did.  Not only did I learn more than last year, but I got to connect with so many friends that I had never met before (odd concept, I know).  Since it was my second time, I was more comfortable talking to people I didn't know.
 I met up with fellow TpT-mama, Susan Jones from Thank God It's First Grade!  We talked babies, blogging and teaching.  Okay, mostly babies.
Some more wonderful TpT-mamas.
 Kayla, from K's Classroom Kreations, is a friend from high school.  She moved to North Carolina a few years ago and I haven't seen her in a long time.  Thanks to TpT, we were reunited!  How crazy is that?
On Thursday morning, we got to network with our grade levels.  There are so many wonderful sellers in the primary range, that it's easy to get caught up.  It was nice to talk to teachers that were "my age."  I spent some time chatting with Jessica Ivey from Ideas by Jivey, Diane from Fifth in the Middle,  and Deb Hanson of Crafting Connections.
 And then there is this girl!  Kristine has been my go-to girl for all things teaching and blogging.  She is definitely my inspiration.  We talked a lot about her new blog, Young Teacher Love.  It's beautiful - go check it out!
Abby, of the Third Grade Bookworm, and I rocking the photo booth!
My roommate and I realized on the taxi ride back to the airport that we had not gotten one picture together!  Here I am with Amanda from The Take Home Teacher.  She was so much fun to room with!

I left Vegas with more friends, knowledge and inspiration that I know what to do with.  It might be weeks before it all fully sinks in.  Bring on Vegas 2016!

Want to hear more about Vegas?  Head on over to The Elementary Entourage!

I am on a make-over roll, people!  My latest victim is The Detectives Book Club.  I created this item a few years ago when I resided in second grade.  I had a high group of readers that always went above and beyond what I asked.  I really wanted to challenge them, but reward them at the same time.

Thus, the Detectives Book Club was formed.  We were going to meet before school once a week to discuss a mystery that we were reading together.  We decided together on a Boxcar Children book.  I purchased magnifying glasses and detective hats from the Dollar Store to really set the stage.  Each student received their own detective badge, briefcase and notebook.

The students were required to read the assigned chapters at home (either independently or with a parent) and come ready to discuss the book.  We talked about suspects, clues and made predictions.  The students were SO engaged and we had amazing discussions!

Of course, the cover was updated first.

But, don't worry.  The inside received a make-over too!

Included in this set are bookmarks that the students can use to write down the page #'s that they need to read and when it needs to be completed.
The detective badges are my favorite!  You could use student names, classroom numbers or they can make up their own detective number.  It's up to you!
Students also get a "briefcase" to carry their Top Secret materials.  I used a manila envelope, but you could also use a folder or large ziploc bag.

In their detective notebooks, students have a suspects list, clues list and a glossary of important words.
My students LOVED being detectives.  They felt so important and worked so hard in our Detectives Book Club.  
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