I can't believe it is almost July! So much to read and do before school begins on August 6th. When do you return?

So, of course to start off July, Farley at Oh' Boy Fourth Grade is at it again with her monthly currently.

* Listening to my 3 boys run around the house- They are really into Indiana Jones movies and dressing up pretending they are on adventures. It is so cute, but my house ends up looking like a disaster after they get worn out.

*Loving that it is Saturday-I've been up since 7am, went to the gym, and came home to cook lunch. I'm   catching up on my blog reading and commenting, and then hoping to watch some TV and relax.

*Thinking of all the things I need to get printed & laminated- I have so many items on my wish list over at TPT and a few items that I have created myself. I need to get them printed, laminated and then hung up in my classroom. I am switching classrooms this year and moving into an entire new building. I am hoping I can get my things moved in the next two weeks with the help of my hubby.

*Wanting granite countertops and roman shades- I sent my hubby to Home Depot this morning to order roman shades for our 4 kitchen windows, but then he called me and talked me out of it because he thought the price was too high. So, now we are thinking of getting granite countertops. I am hoping we get one or the other before the summer ends. One house project a summer.

*Needing to catch up on my reading of WBT and Teach Like a Pirate- I am participating in the WBT book study and am currently on chapter 7. I can't wait to get started on implementing more of WBT in my 4th grade classroom this coming year. I am also reading Teach Like a Pirate, but am only about 1/4 of the way through. However, I am participating or sometimes lurking on the #tlap Twitter chat. You can check out the archives here

* My Tip is to bring enthusiasm and passion into your classroom!

I have a freebie for you!

A poster to be displayed in your classroom with 11 variations of the WBT (Whole Brain Teaching) Class- Yes! 

I am participating in the WBT book study and chapter 6's assignment was to create 10-15 variations of the Class-Yes! There were so many wonderful and creative variations of the Class Yes by other educators participating in the book study that I decided to pick 11 variations that  I would use with my 4th graders this coming year. If you like it too, just click on the picture to get your free copy.

Well, it's Friday again and I'm linking up with Doodle Bugs Teaching for her Five for Friday linky. You should link up to or just head over there to check out the Fab things posted for Friday.

#1 My Prescription Binder

This is my prescription binder that I just received this week for the 2013-2014 school year. This binder contains my schedules, Emergency checklists and procedures, ELA standards, ELA Units, my summer assignment, my student roster, and a Compass Teacher Rubric. My summer assignment includes to review how to read the ELA CCCS and to plan my 5 weeks of ELA lessons. 

#2 Freebie

I was inspired by Julie's library organization idea over at Lighting a Fire. She has a library book check out system that is similar to the one I used this current year, but is even better. She uses numbered sticks for students to place in the book box to hold their place. Click on the link above to see a picture of her system. This makes it easy for when students are ready to return their book they know their place. I used clothespins last year with students names, but the clothespins broke and some went missing. So, inspired by her idea I made numbered stars that I will  glue onto popsicle sticks for students. I have a set in gray like the ones above and a set in blue. If you would like a copy leave me your email address and I'll send them to you. I plan to post them on my TPT store soon. 


I hope you are enjoying the first day of summer! It sure is hot here in southern Louisiana.


My boys and I went to the Children's Museum here in New Orleans, LA today, and one of their favorite things to do is to stand inside of a bubble. How cool is that! 

We also stopped at Michael's craft store on the way home and my twins had fun trying to make the 4th of July pinwheels spin. 

#5 TPT Store

I created two new items for my TPT store. The items are Clip Chart Leaders, which I plan to use this system for behavior this year instead of pulling cards like I've used in the past. The other item is Stars to be used for a Super Improver Wall, which is a Whole Brain Teaching method.  You can check both items out here and follow me on TPT. 

This blog post was inspired by the #4thchat I participate in on Monday nights at 7pm cst. Check out the chat here.

What is Digital Storytelling?

      Digital Storytelling is the use of computer based tools to tell a story. It consists of students focusing on one topic and using various technological mediums such as video, narration, images, text, and music. Digital Stories can last anywhere from 2 to 10 minutes in length.

What are the benefits to using Digital Storytelling with your students?

  • motivating
  • capture student's interest and attention
  • enhanced communication skills
  • opportunities to present ideas and knowledge in a meaningful way
  • opportunities to share their work with their peers and an authentic audience and to receive feedback from that audience 
  • fosters collaboration
  • appeals to student's with diverse learning styles
  • enhances the student experience through personal ownership and accomplishment
What tools can I use to get my student's started with Digital Storytelling?

Glogster is a web based tool that students can use to make a digital poster of their topic. Glogster states that their tool will engage your students, inspire curiosity, excite learners and connect everything. Check out some uses of Glogster in a 4th grade classroom here. You do have to sign up for Glogster, which is $39 for 1 Teacher and 125 students for a year subscription. 

Haiku Deck is a free app that creates beautiful presentations and slideshows.  I've never used this app with students before because I use the Keynote app with students, but I think I will have my upcoming 4th graders explore this app to give me their thoughts on this app vs. the keynote app. 

Puppet Pals is another free app for the iPad in which students can create their own digital story using animation and audio. My students love to create their own unique voices for their characters, build scenes, and conflict. This app allows their imaginations to run wild!

Paperslide shows are another form of digital storytelling and one I've used in my classroom with my 4th graders. They are great for book shares. Click here for an example. 

You can also click here for more examples of paperslide shows. 

I think digital storytelling would be a great center activity and a culminating collaborative project for students at the end of a unit of study. 

Would you try digital storytelling in your classroom? 
I'd love to hear your thoughts! 

I'm posting a little late on this Monday Made It and linking up with Tara at 4th Grade Frolics, but I'm making it! Of course I never plan ahead for the Monday Made it and I always find myself looking for things to make.

When I first logged in my computer this morning Tara's post was the first I read and of course it inspired me to get moving with my Monday Made Its. And of course, I loved her first two Monday Made Its and Made them for myself right away.


Instagram Button
Tara's buddy the Tattooed Teacher  posted an editable Instagram button. I've been looking for one, and now I have one thanks to Tara and the Tattooed Teacher. Click on my button on the right side of my blog and follow me. You can make your own also by clicking on the link above.


Tara's #2 Monday Made it were some editable class job files that she "tweeked" and then left as a freebie. I quickly picked those up this morning and edited two of the signs adding: End of the Line and Pencils. I printed them out and they are in my stack of things to be laminated.


My next Monday Made It is an original of mine, which is my homemade meatballs to go with our spaghetti tonight. This is my boys favorite dinner next to pizza. 

How to make the meatballs- In a bowl add 1lb of ground beef, about a 1/2 cup of Italian bread crumbs, 1tbsp of seasoning (Tony sacheries seasoning), 1 egg, 1/2 of a medium onion (chopped fine), and two splashes of worcestershire sauce. Mix together! 


Last on my Monday Made Its are my CCSS folders. I found a pin on Pinterest a while ago and finally got around today to picking up colored file folders to organize the CCSS. I printed them out and started putting them together. You can pick them up for free to if you are a 4th grade teacher here. Now I just need to find labels for the tabs, print them out and stick them on. 

Hope you enjoyed my Monday Made Its and will link up or check out the other amazing Monday Made Its at 4th Grade Frolics! 

Doodlebugs Teaching is hosting Five for Friday and I'm linking up. You should too, or at least head over there to check out her blog and many other educator's blogs.

1. Instagram- I am hooked! Who doesn't like taking pictures! I also like that other educators have gotten hooked too and are posting pictures of their classrooms, lessons and events at their school. I've been taking lots of pictures, but they are not school related since I've been out since May 17th. So, most of my pictures are of my three handsome boys and our summer adventures. You can follow me on Instagram at @eshepherd. 

2. Impossible Odds- I was watching Jay Leno last night and Jessica Buchanan was a guest. I didn't know of her story or who she was, but one minute into her speaking and I was inspired by her courage, strength and faith that she had to get through her kidnapping. I immediately went online and purchased the kindle edition and started reading.

3. Summer Reading- Check out my professional reading for the summer! You can read more about these books and the book clubs I am participating in here.

4. State Teacher of the Year- I am anxiously waiting to hear if I made the finals for Louisiana State Teacher of the Year. There is an interview on Monday, June 17th. You can check out my blog post here to see how my school came together to recognize me for Estelle Elementary teacher of the year as well as District Teacher of the Year.

5. Family Beach Trip- This is the beach house my family will be staying in for a week long vacation starting Sunday. I am looking forward to relaxing, catching up on my reading and spending time with the family. 
As a colleague of mine might tell me to relax Erica it is summer. I just can't! This is my time (the summer)  to increase my knowledge and be inspired. I participate in many things over the summer to extend my passion of learning such as chats on Twitter such as #4thchat and #wonderchat to name  a few, participating in Linkys on blogs, reading blogs and being inpired by other educators and the wonderful things they are doing in their classrooms, and participating in book studies.

I would like to share with you the two book studies that I am participating in this summer.

The first book study is Whole Brain Teaching for Challenging Kids. This past school year I decided to take on WBT in my classroom. I use the Class/Yes, Teach/Ok, and the Super Improver wall, which are all WBT strategies to engage and motivate learners. You may be saying "What is all of that?" 

I highly suggest you check it out! It is so worth seeing in action. Chris Bifle has tons of videos on YouTube showcasing his stratgies. Here's one of many here. 

However, this coming school year I'd like to implement more WBT strategies into my classroom. So that is why I'm participating in the book study! I found out about this book study this week from an awesome teacher and friend of mine Lisa Rodriguez. I first sent her a link two years ago or so about WBT telling her she should check this out. Well, she did and she fell in love with it and has really taken  WBT on in her third grade classroom. She has inspired me to take on more of the WBT strategies with my 4th graders such as the Super Improver Wall which I implemented this year. You can see a picture of my Wall here. The Super Improver Wall  is a system of rewards for intellectual and social growth that is differentiated. Students get to set their own goals daily and weekly and then have a visual to see their growth. This was truly the best class management system I've ever implemented into my classroom. After two weeks of using this system in my classroom I was able to get rid of my behavior chart and students pulling cards for behavior because now I was rewarding good behavior. 
Here's a picture of my board at the beginning of the year. 

So anyway back to my point of this blogpost which is Summer Reading. I found out about this book study via Lisa on Facebook. You can click here to join the book study. Enjoy!

The next book study I am participating in this summer is Teach Like a Pirate by Dave Burgess. The title is what captured my attention. I always love a good title! This book is a great read to increase student engagement, boost  your creativity, and transform your life as an educator. I found out about this book study when participating in the #4thchat on Twitter. Here's the link to sign up for the book study. It hasn't started yet and I'm not sure when it will start but by filling in your information on the google doc you should get a tweet soon with all the details. Always a great reason to sign up on Twitter. You can follow me at @eshepherd.

If you want to check out more Summer Reading book clubs or see what other educators are reading professionally this summer, head on over to All Things Upper Elementary to check out her Linky.  You can link up as well! 

Yeah, I finally found a few things that I made today to post about on my first Monday Made It hosted by Tara at 4th Grade Frolics

This morning when I first logged into BlogLovin (my blog reader) and saw Tara's post, I did get a little stressed thinking of what I could post that was school related. Then I started to think of all the things I make with my boys and what I was making for dinner tonight, and I decided those things would be perfect for the  Monday Made It Linky. 

So, here's my first Monday Made It. 

This is my oldest son Patrick tying a worm to a string so he can go fishing in the canal behind our house. He asked me for help with this, which is usually a job for dad, but nonetheless I touched the worm and helped him make his fishing stick. I am so proud! 

  Here he is with his finished fishing stick. 

 All three boys fishing on the small bridge across the canal behind our house. The minnows really enjoyed the worms today.

 My second Monday Made It is Chicken Tortillas soup. I purchased a rotisserie chicken two days ago and had half of the chicken left and was trying to think of what to do with it before it went to waste. I thought about using it to make chicken salad, but I'm the only one who eats chicken salad so that idea went out the window. Then I found a recipe for Chicken Tortilla soup on Food.com. Click here for the exact recipe. Here are most of the ingredients below plus the onion, garlic, half bell pepper and chicken which is not pictured.

First I sautéed the onions, bell pepper, garlic, and jalapeño in olive oil until soft. 

 Then I added the remaining ingredients and Voila! It is Made and was  Super Easy to do so!

Thought I'd also share a picture of our vegetable garden. This wasn't made today but it sure is growing fast. We have tomatoes, squash, corn and bell peppers growing. If you look closely you can see the corn is sprouting all over because three little people got hold of the corn seeds and planted them all over. Ha!

  Here's a close look at the first squash that is growing in the garden. So exciting!

Well that concludes my Monday Made Its and I am so glad I found a few things to make today and am able to share it on the Linky. Head over to 4th Grade Frolics and check out all the awesome Monday Made Its. Next week I'll be at the beach with the family, so I'll have to plan and make my Monday Made It early and schedule the post. 

I am so excited to get back to participating in the monthly currently hosted by Farley at Oh'Boy 4th Grade.  She already has over 150 bloggers who are participating.

So here goes my currently for June.

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