Monday, October 5, 2015

Must Have Monday Teacher Tools Week 4

Time 4 Kindergarten Must Have Mondays
This weeks- post is quick.  Last week was long- Parent teacher conferences followed by my 30th high school reunion. Let me just say that it is still hard to believe that I graduated high school 30 years ago.  The minute I walked into the room there were certain people that I recognized even from the back of their head, just by looking at their hair. How is that even possible?  Then there were others- thank goodness for name tags and being a teacher. If they told me their first name I immediately knew their last.  I'm good with names, faces, not so much.  We danced all night to 80's music, reminiced about teachers, in fact a few were even there.  I only got one good photo the whole night it was too dark once the dancing started and the strobe lights were going.  This is it- My Friend Chris was cool back then and is way cool now.  He was teaching at a college back east, in Pennsylvania, I believe. He just finished working on a show that airs in January.  He does makeup for movies, as in scars and tattoos and such.   We haven't seen each other since graduation night.  We had a lot of catching up to do some reminiscing about our antics and drama productions and of couse we had to do some dancing to the B-52's Rock Lobster.

Time 4 Kindergarten Must Have Mondays
Ok- so now back to the real reason you are here- This Weeks Teacher Must Have is Kids and Pets Stain and Oder Remover.
kids and pet, Must Have Mondays

You also really need to have this at your house too.  I originally bought this for my house when we brought home the puppy.  A few years ago, I decided to bring it to school to use on my new rug.  I had no idea what the custodian was spraying on my beautiful Lakeshore carpet every time a student had an accident.  

Last week a student got mad and took a crayon to the chair, I sprayed it with Kids and Pets and it wiped right off, no scrubbing needed.  Last week another student used her dry erase marker on my carpet.  Look at the small dots below on the yellow van in the  top photograph. As soon as school let out, I spritz the spots with Kids and Pets, let it sit for a few minutes and dabbed it dry.  The spots were gone.  I also happened to notice that someone had drawn a square with marker on my carpet in the corner.  I have no idea how long it had been there.  It's not there now.
 No more spots.
This stuff is amazing.  It has removed from my carpet at home, blood, soy sauce, puppy messes, mud and many unknown I didn't do it spots. 

So where can you get this amazing cleaner.  I found mine at Walmart in the cleaning section.  It costs about $6 for a 32.oz bottle.  

Please note, I do not in any way receive any form of payment, commission or products for writing about this product.  I simply love this product and honestly believe in the power of the spray.

Have a great week.  I'll be back next week with more teacher must haves.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Must Have Monday Teacher Tools: Week 3

Monday must have teacher tools
Monday AGAIN!!!! Where is the time going?  This week's Teacher Must Have tool is a little different, it isn't something you can order on Amazon or pick up at Target.  Before I tell you what it is, I must say that this post contains affiliate links to the ESGI website.  I tried the trial version last year and then convinced my district that we really needed to get it and they agreed.  The other Kindergarten teachers in my district are thrilled.

If you haven't figured it out already, the MUST HAVE TEACHER TOOL is ESGI
ESGI assessment software
This week is going to be C-R-A-Z-Y!!!  It is parent teacher conferences for kindergarten.  Our other two grades, first and second do their conferencing close to report card time.  We like to do ours about 6 weeks into the school year.  We don't want the report card to be a shock to parents.  November is too far away; 1/3 of the school year has already passed by.  For many of our parents this is their first child to enter school and as you know, this isn't the kindergarten we all remember.  

Tomorrow is picture day- Who plans picture day on a Monday? AND I have a meeting before school- let's just say I probably won't be smiling in this years school photo.   I have two early morning parent/teacher conferences later in the week, a doctors appointment one day and Saturday will be GASP….. my…...  ahem………….. 30th high school reunion.

Ok back to why why I love this teacher tool so much and why every kindergarten teacher MUST have ESGI.  
Prior to October 2014
Let me show you how I used to asses my students before ESGI.  I had and assessment binder that I was so proud of. It went everywhere with me.  The assessment binder had a section for each K-Kid and an assessment toolbox.  My toolbox was basically a pencil box with all the manipulatives I needed.  The binder has a student roster in the front where I had assigned each student a class number.  The divider pages were numbered.  It made it easy for me to flip through to their page, find their recording sheets and record their data.  I had been using this method for about 5 years and it worked.  However, I had to carry that big binder to and from school.

data binder for kindergarten
This is what our old assessment looked like- sort of.  A few of us took a really old district benchmark and cut and pasted what we needed to make our assessment.  The OCD person in me hated it, but remade do for the year until I found ESGI.
kindergarten data
I even went so far as to take all of my assessments and make this….tedious time sucker.   I needed to know which letters students were having the most difficulty with.

kindergarten data
October 2014
In October of 2014,  I sign up for the FREE 60 day trial of ESGI and I was hooked.  I can walk around my classroom with my iPad or call kids over to my table and assess.  When we go to computers and library, I bring my laptop with me and can quickly assess a student I need to check in with.

For my ones who are really behind I pick a target skill I really want them to focus on and assess them more often and send home a weekly or bi-weekly progress report.

This week for conferences parents will be receiving the parent letter that ESGI generates.  It tells parents exactly what their child knows and doesn't know.   For me the best part it is in English and Spanish.  Last year we just attached it to our report cards.  This is what it looks like.  I deleted the students name to protect their identity.  When i meet with with the child's parents they will know exactly what to work on at home.  Even the parent letter can be edited.
ESGI parent letter
The assessment above took no more than 7 minutes.   When you are having to shuffle papers and write things down, it all takes time. Those few extra seconds start adding up to minutes and those minutes turn into extra unnecessary hours wasted. 

ESGI also offers teachers the ability to print individualized flash cards for students. For example if I wanted this particular student to work on number recognition I could print out just the number flash cards they did not know.

ESGI has a lot of Stock assessments or you can create your own.  I currently am on our district math committee. Together with my two other committee members we are creating all of our district kindergarten math assessments and inputting them into ESGI.  Our assessments will be quick, no paper, save a few trees, and so much time saved too.

Are you ready for the really easy part when it comes to report card time?  I snapped this photo last year and ESGI reposted it  either on their instagram page or their Facebook page, I can't recall.   Either way, I was overjoyed.  This is how I do report cards now.  Laptop up with ESGI  assessment data, desktop open to our online report card program.
report cards using data from ESGI
 It really is CLICK, CLICK, DONE!
kindergarten assessment

So what are you waiting for?  Click the ESGI icon above and sign up for your free trial.  Enter Promo Code B928  Test it out then show your district how wonderful it is. Be sure to tell them how much time you can save on assessing students and actually spend quality time teaching if they were to purchase the program for you.  After all, in the end isn't that why you are there, to teach?

Have a great week!!!

Monday, September 21, 2015

Must Have Monday Teacher Tools: Week 2

The Best Teacher Tools
I'm back again with week two of my Must Have Monday Teacher Tools.  This week I'm talking about pencil sharpeners.  Every classroom has to have one.  They are an absolute necessity.  I have had far too many to count over the years.

The best ones are the old manual ones, but let's face it, no one has that kind of time to sit there and turn that crank.  However, I guess I could consider it an alternative to going to the gym…
old fashion classroom pencil sharpener
I have a few of these buried in cupboards hoping to find some nice dad who likes to tinker with electronics and can maybe figure out why they don't work.  They just makes noise and doesn't sharpen.  This particular one is made by Boston.
teacher tools, must have monday teacher tools
Next up is the one I had been using until I just couldn't stand it any longer.  This one is by Bostitch.   In the beginning it did work well, but after about a year, it gave out.  It sharpens, but it takes about a minute to sharpen a brand new pencil. I've never let the kids use it and I've only ever used number 2 pencils in it.  After about a minute it finally gets to a flat dull writing nub.  I don't have 20 minutes in my day to spend sharpening pencils.    I keep it around as a back-up and I may let the kids use it as time goes on as a class job.
classroom pencil sharpeners, teacher tools
My favorite it this one by Xacto.  It sharpens so quickly and quietly.  
classroom pencil sharpeners, teacher tools
It has a sensor when to stop sharpening and a light appears when it is done.
classroom electric pencil sharpener, Teacher must have tools
Just look at that point.  No nubby pencils with this one!
I bought mine on Amazon. I LOVE Amazon Prime!!!
Must Have Teacher Tools, Best Classroom Pencil Sharpener

Here's the BEST part.  Those other sharpeners I paid well over $30 for.
This one was ONLY $29.99 on AMAZON!!!

Be sure to come back next Monday for week 3 of my Must Have Monday Teacher Tools.
You just might find a new tool you didn't know you couldn't live without.

Time4Kindergarten Tiffani Mugurussa

Monday, September 14, 2015

Monday Must Have Teacher Tools

teacher tools, classroom tools, Monday Must Haves,
Hello Monday!!! It is a brand new week and I am here to share with you the first of what I hope to be many of my favorite Monday Must Have Teacher Tools.  There are probably dozens of items you use daily in your classroom that you probably don't even give a second thought to.  But what if one of those items were to go missing or break ACK!!!!! How would you survive your day without it?  Hopefully that won't happen and if it does, hopefully you have a spare on hand, a neighbor your can appropriate borrow from, or your have Amazon prime.

This week I'm sharing with you two Teacher Tools I can't live without.  My Scotch Laminator and the Apache laminating pouches.  These pouches are amazing great quality, they don't peel and they are crystal clear.  I use the 5mil, but the 3mil are great too.  I just prefer the thicker lamination for my little ones.  I have used a ton of these since school has started.  We have been out of lamination film since school started.  This has been a life saver.  I have an older personal laminator at school for small emergencies.  It has saved me many times.

Be sure to check back next Monday to find out what other Teacher Tool I just can't live without.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Back to School With GoNoodle
We are Back to School with GoNoodle.  We just finished our 13th day of school and my kids are hooked on Go Noodle.  I love that it gives me a few minutes of breathing time to change gears, set up or grab a sip of water.  My kids get to move about, get out some of that pent up energy and they are getting some exercise at the same time.

When I logged onto GoNoodle for the first time this year I was surprised at some of the changes.  I love all the new additions.  This new dashboard across the top of screen is great.  When you select the channels button all your favorites are listed.

 Of course my favorite Kookoo Kangaroo are still there.  I don't know what it is about those crazy guys, but they just make me smile., kookoo kangaroo
These are just a few of my favorites., kookoo kangaroo, kookoo kangaroo
THIS ONE IS MY FAVORITE!!!, kookoo kangaroo, pop see ko
Add caption

Now that my kids are hooked on GoNoodle, I have a few new ways I plan to use it.  Our school has a huge problem with tardies, especially in kindergarten.  I've decided that I'll be using it before school to encourage my kids to arrive early so they can participate. i'm thinking of some type of merit system for each day they aren't late.  Of course it usually isn't the student's fault, but maybe if they tell their parents how important it is to them to be at school before the bell, maybe their parents will do better at getting them to school on time.

I also use it when i have a few minutes before it is time to go to lunch or recess.  If I find myself with a few extra minutes and I think they need a movement break, then GoNoodle is the answer.

Now if you haven't tried GoNoodle, then you must.  It is super easy to sign up and your kids will love it too.  It is also great for indoor rainy day recess.  They even have a section just for indoor recess.
GoNoodle, indoor recess

Want to buy some GoNoodle gear-  I have a discount code for 15% off, but hurry it expires Sept 11th BTSwithGoNoodle

Want to win some GoNoodle Swag Just enter below.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

My Not So Perfect Memorable First Day of School

first day photos, back to school
No matter how much planning and prepping we do to make the first day back-to-school special and memorable, something always seems to go wrong. It is the not so perfect moments that remain in our memories.  My morning started off with my my daughter forgetting to turn her alarm of at 4:00 AM  while she was getting ready for work, she was in the bathroom , the alarm in her room- you get the the picture.  I get up early because I know I have a ton of stuff to do. Just as I sit down to my computer the power goes out.  It comes back on, but I don't have tome to wait for my computer to turn on and load my programs and such now.  So I go to work, tired, frustrated and not feeling too well.  I'm just thankful I had already dried my hair.  So far the only thing going right that morning was my hair.
first day photos, back to school

So now that home was already starting my day off wrong, what more could go wrong? Well, remember we always remember those not so perfect moments.  That first bell chimed.  yes chimed.
Think chimes as in the movie Grease.  That is what our new bells sound like.  The bells chime and I open my door. Sure I remember opening the door to greet those eager kindergartners with their backpacks almost as big as they are.  I remember a few moms and dads snapping photos with cell phones, but I couldn't tell you which kid was first in line or who had the biggest smile.

What I can tell you is life happens and you just have to roll with it.  This year our staff was doing summersaults on our first day.  We have a brand new student information system.  There were a few hiccups.  This was to be expected.  We also had a surge of students move and others enroll.  All of this meant a late night for the administrators of shuffling class lists.  This was the first year that class lists were not posted.  Parents were notified by a phone call.  However, if they didn't answer their phone or had changed their number, they didn't no where their child needed to go on the first day of school.

I printed what I thought was the most current version of my student roster, put out my name tags and lanyards and opened my doors.  In walked my new class.  My roster had 15 students, but I knew that would change as some students weren't completely enrolled yet.  A few more arrived with post-it notes with their names.  We quickly grabbed some cardstcok and made them some not so fancy name tags.  For my co-workers who know me, they know how much this was killing me.  I like everything to match and be printed.

At recess time I realized I had forgotten my sunglasses-now this is something I MUST have with my vision. So there I was on the playground not seeing a darn thing.  Thank goodness my son was already  home from his 7:00 AM college class.  He quickly brought them to me. Phew- crisis overted.

When it came time to go to lunch, we noticed our kids who were eating hot lunch were having pizza from Costco- umm I want hot lunch too.  This year we are cooking food on campus.  OOPS, our ovens didn't work. I guess no one checked them during the summer.

At the end of the day all my kids made it to where they were supposed to go, so one cried or wet their pants, so to that made it a huge success.  With the help of a friend I was able to take a first day photo of every student. When the kids left, many said they had a really fun day.  So, although it was the perfect day that I had planned it was a memorable first day of kindergarten.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Time 4 Donors Choose

It has been over a year since I have posted a project on Donor's Choose. This year I decided that my project would be for a laser Printer to use in our classroom.  I have a black/white laser printer, but not one for color.  I take tons of photos and print them out at Costco.  How nice it would be to just print them out at school, the same day I take them.

For the next few day any donation made can be matched dollar for dollar.  To have your donation matched dollar for dollar, enter the promo code SPARK on the payment screen. This awesome match offer lasts through August 12.

And to make it just a little bit more enticing I will reward you with items form my TpT store.
donors choose
Hurry this offer expires when the SPARK dollar Mach Expires
Once you have donated, email me at  Be sure to put Donors choose in the subject line.  List the items you would like from my store.  Once I have verified your donation,I will send you the files.  Please Note: If you have already donated- this offer applies to you too, just email me.

donors choose

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Back to School With Sit Spots and a Giveaway

Sit SpotsAre you getting ready to go back to school?  Silly question I know.  Sometimes it is hard to turn off our teacher brain.  I will be making this short and sweet. Todays post is all about Sit Spots.

If you haven't heard of these, then this post is just for you.  Sit Spots are fun, educational and decorative spots to mark your carpet for student seating.  No more Duct Tape strips that the kids peel up or leave a sticky reside behind.   Sit Spots adhere to your carpet and stay there.  If you do need to move them, you just use a little pull and they come right up.  When the custodian vacuums your rug, they stay put.

Just look at the fun colors and shapes that are available.
Sit Spots in kindergarten
kindergarten seating

Now that you know how fabulous these are- let's have a giveaway.  I've teamed up with Sit Spits to give 1 lucky fan a $50 gift card to Sit Spots. 

Monday, August 3, 2015

Back to School Sale with TpT

It's almost time to go back to school.  While teachers are running around trying to find that deal at Office Depot, Target and Big Lots for classroom centers and decor, we are also scouring Pinterest and TpT for the latest and greatest curriculum.  August can be a very $$$ month, so a sale of any kind is much appreciated.
I have been slaving working days and nights to finish some products just in time for the sale.  
All About Numbers is just that- I created this out of  necessity.  During the first few weeks of school I focus a lot on number sense with my kindergartners.  Most of my students come in not knowing much at all about numbers.  We will be using this set  several ways.  We will make anchor charts as I introduce the number and then keep the charts for review.  I'll keep a set in a pocket chart on my calendar wall.  and then I'll b shrinking some of the pages to use in our math journals.  
number anchor charts, calendar wall, number posters, number sense in kindergarten
Back to School Sight Word Search focuses on the first 200 words on the Fry list.  I started making these word searches at the end of last year, for the words my kindergartners were having difficulty with.  
kindergarten sight words, Fry word list, sight word search
Sort it Out focuses on sorting, classifying and graphing the sorts.  I've been working on CCSS for math this summer and knew that I needed to focus more on these skills.  
Last up is my Mystery Grab Bag.  It currently has 40 pages of odds and ends.  These are things I make throughout the year for my classroom.  I will continue to add to the bundle. the more I add, the higher the price.  BUT- if you purchase it now, you will be able to continue downloading each new version as I add to it throughout the year.
Mystery Grab Bag, growing bundle, TpT Kindergarten

I have a few more days before I officially report back.  For those who are already back- I wish you a terrific school year!!! If you are like me, enjoy your last few free moments. 

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