28 June 2015

Weekend Warriors: 3-2-1 Teacher Bio

I love getting a chance to read more about the teacher bloggers and their lives, it's a great community of educators who truly enjoy sharing their ideas!  After this post, I'm off to read more about the individuals in this community! 

#1 - I've been teaching for a while, but at times I still feel like a newbie.  One thing I truly love about teaching is that I'm still learning new things myself each year.  I found out what works for me and my class and what doesn't.  My teaching style has definitely changed since my first year of teaching, but I have always stayed true to myself.

#2 - One lesson I had done a few years ago for my formal observation was on congruent shapes.  Instead of introducing the concept, I showed digital cards that followed the "definition" (or RULE as I called it) and some that didn't.  I had students tell me what they could see, then I showed them another set of both following and not following.  The students told me their new observations, then they were given cards that they had to decipher if it followed the rule or not.  Then I asked the students "What does congruent shapes mean?" and they all were able to give the definition in their own words.  This was something the NEVER forgot throughout the year.  I truly believe that since they discovered and investigated it on their own that they could easily retain the information.

#3 - This is another big reason why I love the teacher blogging community, you get a chance to get exposed to new ideas!  I had never heard of SCOOT and I tried it once in math with my kids and they absolutely LOVED it!  I changed up my reading groups and applied Daily 5 and my students (and myself) enjoyed our reading block more and got more out of it!

#1 - I was a child of a Military family, but luckily didn't have to move THAT much compared to others.  I grew up in Hawaii from Kindergarten to 6th Grade, then moved to Florida.  I think that getting the chance to live in Hawaii, which was at the time VERY different to lifestyle in the rest of the "mainland" as we called it, gave me to bug to live overseas one day!  I had looked into teaching overseas at one point, but I actually ended up getting a teaching job nearby.  (I wasn't ready to move away from my family at that point.)  But after 5 years of teaching, I made the decision to move to Australia.  It was scary and I didn't realize how big of a move it was!  After being here for over a year I'm still loving it and finding myself really being "at home."  Let's hope my permanent visa goes through and I can stay here!

#2 - Thanks to my dad I'm a HUE technology nerd.  I had 2 iPads, an iPod Touch, current iPhone & an old iPhone, my MacBook and so on.  Really, should I say I'm an Apple/Mac nerd?  (Did I mention I also have an AppleTV?)  Either way I use EACH item in my classroom at some point!  I'm asking all my friends that if they're getting rid of their old iPhones to donate them to my class to use as an iPod Touch! We live in an age where technology is taking over, and I love incorporating it in the classroom!  (But only to a certain extent!  No terminator problems arising in my classroom please!)

I was all about moving and teaching overseas for years and I finally achieved it! (I'm still shocked I went through with this!)  My next goal is to take this blog to the next level!  I want to make sure I post regularly (and schedule posts ahead of time) and possibly get the chance to attend a meet up of some sort!  (Teacher Bloggers of Australia, think we could arrange this at some point?)  I'd love to collaborate more and participate in more of these linky parties! It exposes me to new blogs and bloggers!

26 June 2015

Five for Friday!

Five for Friday is a weekly teacher linky party where you post five random things from today or this past week and on your blog. Check out the linky party at Doodle Bugs Teaching.

Getting Ready for Full-Time Teaching!

So excited to get back into the classroom regularly and have my own class again!  I have got so many new ideas I'd like to implement into my class.  My favourite at the moment is having the class update our classroom Twitter account with things we have learned throughout the day.  I got to meet with my class this week for a day of observation and meet with the team of teachers I'll be working with.  So anxious to get started in 3 weeks!

Teacher Bucket List

Got this from MyDayinK and wanted to quickly share my own Teacher Bucket List.  I've been teaching for 6 years now and I'm getting to the point in my career that I'd like to take on some kind of leadership role, mainly among the lines of helping other teachers through a workshop or something.  I'd like to go back to school and get a Master's in Reading Education (specifically) because I know there's so much more that I can learn.  And finally, I'd like to implement more class projects since I know these are the things students love most and can get the most out of it.

Engineering Process

I had a relief day where they asked me to come up with a lesson to do with a variety of ages.  I only had 50 minutes with each class and I was allowed photocopying time, but I opted out from worksheets and more of a hands-on lesson.  The students used tape and straws to build a structure to stand during our make shift earthquake.  I was worried about the Year 1s, but they did awesome!  Look at this one!  Great structure and done all by themselves!  That was a good day!

The Day the Crayons Quit!

I did a small reading group activity using this book about describing characters.  We described the boy in the story, which was interesting because all we knew about the boy was from letters from each crayon.  It was amazing how much we could tell about the boy without ever meeting him!  Loved this book, I'm definitely going to look out for more from this author!

School Holidays!

In just a little under a week I'll be on school holidays!  I'm ready to spend some time reading up on Daily 5 & Teaching with Intention, once my books get in.  I can't wait to get into my classroom and organize some things and look over information I need to know.  Nice to get 2 weeks off to restart!

16 June 2015

Technology Tips: Flubaroo & Google Forms

I love spending some downtime on Pinterest, you often find some amazing ideas.  I recently came across using Google Forms  & the add on "Flubaroo" to grade work.  

Now I don't often give worksheets/quizzes to give to students, but I will give one every once in a while to assess and/or document progress.  (Unfortunately, our system focuses a lot on data.)

Why waste time on grading multiple choice work when you can a script to do that for you?  

I came across this idea through this Tech with Jen post & she has a great tutorial for how to set up Flubaroo!  Check out her post and video, I found it very helpful.

Here's a video featured on their website:

Add your technology tip!

12 June 2015

Five for Friday!

Five for Friday is a weekly teacher linky party where you post five random things from today or this past week and on your blog. Check out the linky party at Doodle Bugs Teaching.

Figurative Language

I was in a class the past two weeks and the teacher had been working on Figurative Language.  She was in those days, but I was in for Planning relief or assistance.  She was excited to have me in because of how enthusiastic I was with teaching Figurative Language.  I love analyzing them with students and have them use it in their own writing.  Make sure to check out these task cards by Rachel Lynette!

Making 100 with Year 2s

This was something I worked with students that they had a hard time understanding.  I found that ABCYA.com had an interactive 100 chart that you could use to demonstrate.  They had to roll the dice to make a 2-digit number and colour it one colour, then had to figure out how much more they needed to make 100 using the chart.  

Science with PrePrimary

We have been learning about the necessities for living things.  The past two weeks we focused on our bodies.  We did an activity that caused us to move around and compare our heartbeats before and after activity, then we talked about what causes sweat and how sweat helps us.  This was a cute video at the end of the lesson regarding heartbeat that the young ones enjoyed.  My group is pretty good with science and LOVE learning more!

Writing Anchor Charts

If you haven't checked it out yet, I've uploaded another set of Anchor Charts!   This one focuses on writing!  I posted this last month, but I've noticed more buyers purchasing this along with my Language Arts & Reading Anchor charts!  Found them all at my TPT store!

Job Offers

No picture here, but recently I was offered a full-time position here in Australia!  Once that one job offer came in I got a call for an interview and offered another position at a school nearby.  I'm just so happy to have the opportunity to be in a classroom regularly!  It's been great doing relief work for 7 months to get used to Aussie schools & curriculum.  So anxious!

11 June 2015

Currently in June

Listening ... The Hills

Been in bed for a few days, and I've just been re-watching The Hills and reliving all the drama!

Loving ... My Class Website Updates

Fixed up my "class website" even though I don't have a class at the moment.  Just did some fine tweaking so that it can be ready to go for when I do get a class! (http://StephanieBillings.blogspot.com.au)

Thinking ... Job Offers

Seems like things are finally picking up for me and teaching in Australia.  I got an interview lined up, then a job offer, and another one once a school found out I got offered a job.  I hope I picked the right one for me. 

Wanting ... School Holiday to Start

Although I've only been doing relief work, I've been working every school day for the past month and a half.  I'm like the kiddos, I'm ready for school holidays so I can organize some things.

Needing ... Sickness to be Dunzo

I've been sick for nearly 2 weeks and I thought I was getting better, but I ran out of meds yesterday and I wasn't feeling well this morning.  I hate that even though I don't really get sick often (1-2 a year), but when I do I seem to truly crash.

Summer Lovin ... It's Winter?!

Well, no summer here in Australia, it's just the start of WINTER! I'm in desperate need of some pants to add to m collection of clothes. 

03 June 2015

Waiting for the Magic

About the Book

The above summary was taken from ARBookFind, and it's basically that.  But it doesn't begin to tell about the magic within this book.  Papa leaves and Mama is left to care for William and Elinor alone, yet they adopt quite the gaggle of pets.  Little do they know the magic that ends up unfolding and how all the dogs and cat bring the family closer together.  You can read more on GoodReads, but be mindful of spoilers.

Sunshine State Young Readers

This book was on a list of Sunshine State Young Reader Award Program, where a list of books are chosen and students can read and vote for their favorite book on the list.  Even though I don't teach in Florida anymore, I still recommend the books on the list!

My Personal Review

NO spoilers, I promise.  Sometimes I worry about the books I choose for a read aloud, I don't want them to be too sad or scary as I usually like to keep it up beat.  However, I was teaching 8-9 year olds who often have different circumstances/backgrounds.  This is a great book that takes a sad situation, but shine a bit of light on the lives of the characters.  I found myself enjoying the book more and more.

My Class Review

I read this as a read aloud for my class.  We would come back from Specials and I would give 10-15 minutes of snack/finishing morning work.  As they worked or just sat and ate their snack, I would read a chapter or two of a book.  I gave a choice of books I had on hand and my students voted for this.  It was a good book to read aloud at the beginning of the year due to the level of the book.

My students were always engaged and would love to have a discussion at the end of each chapter.  They were so engaged that they could pass the AR test on the book without rereading on their own or using the book.  They LOVED the magic element with the animals!  (Kids just love animals to begin with, then add in a dash of magic and you're set!)

Have you read this book? What are your thoughts?

Got any book recommendations for us teachers to use in your class?

01 June 2015

End of the Year Gifts

It's nearly that time of year for those teaching back in the USA, and I'm looking back on my "End of Year" gifts for my former students.  I've done a few over the years and changing each time for each class.  Here are some things over the years that had helped me out.

Class DVD

This is my staple in every gift bag with my students!  It's a great gift for students and parents and share some memories throughout the year.  Heck, it's a great gift to myself!  Near the end of the year I work on some digital projects with the kids.  One year we put on Fairy Tale Reader's Theater plays that we put our own special twists on.  We did filmed an interview as our favorite book characters (while dressed up as them as well).  We filmed us acting as news reporters and witnesses to the real life event  of the Great Boston Molasses Massacre and so much more!  I would make sure to add those into the DVDs because the students LOVED doing and watching them!

But I ALWAYS add in a fun slideshow of pictures I took over the years, and I also ask for parents to send in any photos of the school year to add.  Hello MacBooks and their iMovie & iDVD software programs!  They make it so easy and it usually would just take me 1 weekend to create the DVD and make copies for everyone.

Beach Balls & Sharpies

This was something I never thought of, but my team thought about getting cheap beach balls and a sharpie.  We would give them as gifts on the last day of school and allow some time to let the students in our grade go around and get signatures.  A fun toy to play throughout the summer and a chance to get signatures from all their friends.

Sweet Treats

I love using some kind of sweet treat and a play on words for the kids.  Not that they get it half the time.  "The s'more you read the s'more you know!"  I like the s'mores the most because who doesn't love a s'more while camping over the summer?


I usually find some dollar deal through Scholastic Book Clubs, then I grab them for the kids.  One year I ended up buying a variety of books from the Sunshine State Young Readers list, that cost a bit though.

Oriental Trading.com

Hello Oriental Trading, probably the best place to go to for fun gifts at the right price.  My last year before I left for Australia I was able to score some boomerangs for the kids.  They loved it!

Last Tip

Instead of some bag they would throw away I would give a $1 bucket that I would score from Party City!  It would cost a bit more than I would normally pay for a paper bag, but it wouldn't go to waste and sticks with the beach theme again!

What's in your End of the Year gift package?