Monday, September 7, 2015

Celebrate Freedom Week- Are you ready?

Did you know that five states- Arkansas, Florida, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas- participate in Celebrate Freedom Week? There are laws requiring teachers in those states to recognize Celebrate Freedom Week in their classrooms. This means teaching about the founding fathers and documents that created the United States of America, from memorizing part of the Declaration of Independence to understanding the Bill of Rights. In Texas and Kansas Celebrate Freedom Week is recognized the week of September 17th, when the U.S. Constitution was signed. Oklahoma celebrates the week of Veteran's Day, and Florida and Arkansas celebrate during the last week of September.

I created some products to help teachers teach Celebrate Freedom Week. Since I'm in Texas I looked at the TEKS- Texas Essential Knowledge & Standards- which outlines the standards that need to be taught for every grade level. The products I made cover every requirement set forth by the state of Texas. You can buy each piece separate, or the bundle is at the bottom (and it's the best value!) Since Celebrate Freedom Week is next week for Texas and Kansas, everything is on sale until Wednesday!








Sunday, August 2, 2015

Back to School Time!


Teachers Pay Teachers is throwing their much anticipated Back to School SALE! I have already marked down many items in my store starting today, but the official sale starts tomorrow. 

Happy shopping!


Thursday, March 19, 2015

Someone is proposing a Yelp for teachers

My husband sent me an article this morning he found on Yahoo, written by Matt Bai on Politics. You may read it here:

A Yelp for teachers If the schools won’t make metrics public, maybe the public should make some metrics of its own

He proposes a public rating system similar to Yelp, that parents can use to rate teachers. The article is lengthy, and I do understand where he is coming from. Not all teachers are the same, and parents have a right to know that. However, for the most part, parents do not have a good understanding of what teachers do. Yes we teach their children, but as the comments to the article point out, we are not miracle workers and there are SO many factors to take into consideration when deciding whether a teacher is "good" or not. Plus, teaching is maybe half of what we do. The other half is disaggregating data, planning lessons, grading papers, creating activities, receiving training (if you're in a good district that actually provides training...), etc.

You can't expect teachers to work miracles if they have not been properly trained in miracle working (ie: how do you teach a class of 25 fourth graders to write a narrative on a fourth grade level when five of them are on a first grade reading level, fifteen of them are on a high second grade reading level, and five of them are above a fourth grade level...and you have no help from anyone.)

Everyone is quick to judge everyone else, and everyone has their own excuses for their shortcomings, etc. but rushing to quick judgement is not going to motivate anyone to do better.


Saturday, February 14, 2015

Deep in the Heart of Texas Blog Hop



Welcome to the "Deep in the Heart of Texas" blog hop!  Over 40 Texas teacher bloggers have joined together to share what we love about our state as well as ideas and freebies that we love.  You will also have the opportunity to enter to win TpT products and/or TpT gift certificates by entering using the rafflecopters included in each post.  Down at the bottom, you will see all of the blogs participating in the hop.  Just click and you will be taken to their posts.  We hope you love what you find.  Happy Valentine's Day!


I am Vanessa Blandford (Crown) I just got married last summer and moved from the burbs to the big ole city of Houston! I have always lived in a suburb of Houston, but now that I actually live in Houston I look at the city differently...in a good way, because I really see everything that it has to offer.  

I love our parks. The Sam Houston statue can be found in Hermann Park. My husband and I took our engagement pictures there. The statue was unveiled August 16, 1925. It was restored in 1996 and is simply breathtaking. The surrounding area has changed somewhat, but the statue remains the same. 


The park is humongous and has lots of different areas, and is also home to some of the awesome museums Houston has, like the Houston Zoo and Houston Museum of Natural Science. 

I love the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo. 
There are many aspects to HLS&R, like the World's Championship BBQ cook off weekend and parade downtown to kick off the festivities. And it's run by mostly volunteers. My husband is on the BBQ committee as a contest supervisor. It's also a family tradition to participate in & attend cook off. 

My mom and I at my Great Uncle's tent:


I volunteer on the Parade committee. 
Here I am with Howdy, the HLS&R mascot.


And a float during the parade, held in downtown Houston:


The rodeo also has concerts every night, a big carnival every day/night, an education center with free field trips and a live birthing center for live stock animals (plus lots of other educational attractions.) HLS&R also gives lots of money in scholarships and does a lot of great things. If you ever visit Houston at the end of February through March you must experience the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo! 


In Texas we did not adapt the Common Core. We follow the TEKS: Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills. A big part of the Social Studies standards in every single grade level focuses on Texas. I always try to incorporate Social Studies into Reading, and therefore choose books about Texas as much as I can. I use the below ideas as more of a weekly unit about Legends, but you can adapt it to fit your classroom very easily. 

I LOVE reading "The Legend of the Bluebonnet" by Tomie dePaola since it is about Texas! I usually introduce the book by showing the pages and talking about each page, so my students can make personal connections to the book. The state flower of Texas is the bluebonnet, so everyone can at least make that connection. Then we'll "read" the book on You Tube so I can incorporate technology into the lesson. 



I'll have everyone talk about what they liked or disliked, draw their favorite scene, and explain what characteristics of the story make this a legend. We fill out a story map to explain the problem and solution and the main events of the story. For an art activity we use blue tissue paper and construction paper to make our own bluebonnets. 

The next day we'll read "The Legend of the Indian Paintbrush" by Tomie dePaola. 


The lesson is the basically the same as the previous day, only I will also ask questions to compare and contrast the two books. 
On the third day we'll complete a Venn diagram to formally compare and contrast the two legends. I'll also ask my students to discuss or write about which book they liked better and why. For the most part, my students like "The Legend of the Bluebonnet" better because it takes place in the great state of Texas! 

Tomie dePaola also wrote "The Legend of the Poinsetta," which is a great read around the holidays! 



This freebie is near and dear to my heart, because it is actually the first product I ever created to be on Teachers Pay Teachers. I intended to sell it, but then realized that you had to post a free product before you could actually sell anything! 

I created it using Publisher (now I use PowerPoint to create everything.) All it is is a sentence sort, based on if the sentence has subject-verb agreement or not. I used it in my second grade class, but I know it could be used for other grades. Click here to download it for free from my TpT store! 


You love me!