Friday, July 25, 2014

Vegas: Blogger Meet-Up, TpT Conference, & Some NEWS!!

Sorry for the delay, friends! We headed up to Minnesota for a road trip to visit my husband's brother and I never found time for my continued Vegas post. Basically....LIFE happened!! Ever have that happen to you?! ;)

So, let me continue...

Wednesday night in Vegas, was the FABULOUS Teacher-Blogger Meet-Up! Just like I Teach K!, this was my first time attending this event. MUCH to my surprise, when we arrived we got to fill up a bag with all kinds of teacher goodies!!! I mean, seriously, look at this!! On top of all of that, they had tons of big prizes that we put our name in for drawings and a free drink from TpT! Even though I didn't win any of the big prizes, I think all of this below plus the experience equals WINNING! :)
THANK YOU, THANK YOU to all the amazing teachers that helped put this on and to all the companies that sponsored!! It's so awesome to feel so appreciated! 
This is a picture of most of the teachers involved in setting this event up. Do you recognize them?! :) I must say, it's pretty sweet to finally meet/see so many bloggers that I follow and look up to. There were SO many in one room! Look at this packed house!
It was a fun night mingling around and meeting people. I must say, I am typically pretty shy when I'm around a ton of people I don't really know, but I met these sweet new friends and we roamed around together! It definitely helped me chill out and get out of my comfort zone. These are the ladies from All Y'all Need and another new friend Barbara and her friend Jennifer (not pictured). Seriously super sweet ladies! It was so great to meet you!
As we were roaming around, I met Cheryl from Primary Graffiti and Kathleen from Growing Kinders. It was great talking to Cheryl about the possibilities of looping and the pros and cons since I had considered looping the past two years. She was so sweet, friendly, and so willing to share her tips and tricks! I greatly appreciate it too!!
My friend, Elizabeth, from Kickin' It In Kindergarten was part of the team putting on this big shindig, so I didn't get to talk to her long, but we did manage to get a picture! Like I said, it's so great to finally meet the people you have been blogging with for so long! New real friends!! :)
Now we will skip to Friday...the amazing first annual Teachers Pay Teachers Conference!! Can I just say how honored and proud I am to be a part of such a wonderful community! I knew it was a fab community before this conference, but after being there with all these other teachers and the founders of this company I realized how TRULY fabulous it is!! If you were there, you know exactly what I'm talking about! It was so inspiring to hear from the founder, Paul Edelman, and from the two million dollar best seller, Deanna Jump, about their story to success. They started out just like you and I as teachers and even struggled to make ends meet, but with the help of TpT and its success (thanks to all teachers and Paul's vision!!) you can see where they are now! SO INSPIRING!!!
I had the opportunity to listen to Deanna Jump and DeeDee Wills share their ideas about making products and how their products have evolved over the years. Most of what they shared was so reassuring that what I am doing in my products is right or at least what the top sellers are doing. They had some great reminders and tips to share and of course they are always so fun to listen to! :)
Then I attended the session over the data advantage with TpT Head of Data, Ryan Van Meter, and Kelley Dolling from Teacher Idea Factory. This session was so interesting!!! I feel like this is part of TpT that I never see and it was just reassuring and good-to-know information to help grow my store. We also got some sneak peeks into what will be coming!!!! Check out these statistics...aren't these nice to know if you are a seller?! Most of it matches up with my sale patterns.
That afternoon, I attended a session about quality of products with Cara Carroll from The First Grade Parade and Erica Bohrer from Erica's Ed-Ventures. They were so fun to listen to and had some more great tips for creating products that were very helpful! It was nice because it was very laid back and we were able to ask questions as they went on. My last session was with Erin from Lovin' Lit. She shared her keys to success like finding your magic ingredient. It's mind blowing how quickly she found success and it was so inspiring to hear her story too! She gave everyone a CD full of resources on it as well which was super sweet of her! 
It was an AMAZING day full of learning and collaborating and I'm so glad I got the chance to be a part of it!
There was a TpT Happy Hour afterward that I ended up skipping out on this time, but it looked like a lot of fun with drinks and a photo booth from the pictures I've seen! I know, I know!!! Why would I skip out on something like that?! Well, to be honest, I wasn't feeling the best and couldn't take full advantage of the two FREE drinks they gave us. Are those clues as to some news with me?! I haven't shared this with all of you yet, but you guessed it! I am pregnant!! Our first, sweet baby is due on December 29th and I am almost 18 weeks now. My husband and I couldn't be more excited!! Every day is already a new adventure and we can't wait to meet our little one!
There you have it! I hope you enjoyed a little review of my adventures in Vegas this summer. I head back to school very soon. I can just see my summertime slipping away! *tear* I am helping with enrollment in a week and then teachers start back on the 5th of August. My kinders start coming in for one-on-one assessments on the 12th and their first day is the 15th. I'm very excited for this year with my new teacher partner, but I can't believe it's almost here! I guess another plus is the sooner we get started, the sooner December will get here for us to meet our little baby! :) Wish me luck, it's going to be tough going back to school and not having time for my daily naps! Haha!

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Sunday, July 20, 2014

I Teach K! 2014

So a week ago, I returned from the most amazing week of learning in Las Vegas. I attended the I Teach K! Conference and Teachers Pay Teachers conference. You may have seen some of my excitement through my Instagram, but I wanted to reflect a little on my experience.

First of all, WOW!! Just WOW!! I can’t even begin to tell you how awesome this national SDE conference is! A year ago, I was seeing everyone’s posts about I Teach K while I sat at home dreaming of someday going to the conference. I knew I had to find a way to make this happen, so I did and let me tell you, I am SO glad I was there this year! Honestly my brain is still overflowing with fabulous ideas and I still need to sit down and go through my notes to decide what I really want to pull this year and what I should wait to do at another time. All the ideas I got in each individual session are way more than I could ever implement at one time or one year, so it’s going to take some serious sit down time to decide what I REALLY want to start using right away. The hardest part…where do I begin?! Ahh!

Since I haven’t made the time to go through everything yet, let me just briefly share my experience in Vegas and why you need to make this happen for YOU if you haven’t already!

On day one, I went to the opening session to listen to the author or the Arthur series, Mr. Marc Brown. He is such a cute old man and it was really interesting to listen to his life story. Did you know all the characters in the Arthur series are based off of kids that were in his class, his teachers, or his own family members? He showed a class picture and pointed out the people that inspired him to create the characters in his books. He started off by taking a selfie with the crowd too! Haha! 

Then I headed to listen to the oh-so-fabulous Kim Adsit from Kinder Gals. She is a rock star!! I spent both morning sessions with her learning about starting the first 30 days of kindergarten off right and phonemic fun! If you want an overload of ideas and inspiration, just attend one of her sessions if you get the chance. Not to mention that she is such a hoot and great to listen to! The opening session went over a little, so I was bummed to show up a little late to her first session. I ended up sitting on the floor for that session since it was so packed, but moved up to the front row for the second session! J She had loads of ideas that she’s made and used in her classroom set out all around the stage and on the floor for us to take pictures of. Can you say AWESOME?!

After lunch, I headed to see the fabulous and sweet DeeDee Wills from Mrs. Wills' Kindergarten and learn about making anchor charts. She talked about how most of the time she likes to make them with the kids and then refer back to them during the year, but sometimes you want to save them for next year! So…she shared with us this big reveal idea from Kim Adsit where you cover up the chart and then reveal pieces of it at a time. Genius! I love these organization tips too!

For the last session of the day, I attended Dan St. Romain’s session about the key to improved academics and behavior. He had us up, moving, and interacting to keep us engaged at the end of a long day which is SO important to remember with a little ones. They need to move, talk, and feel safe in our classroom every day for them to be able to do the things we want them to.

Day two I spent the morning with the amazing, super sweet, and humble Deanna Jump from Mrs. Jump's Class! I’m telling you, this conference only has the best presenters!! Her first session was over implementing math, reading, and writing with fun storybooks that we love to read to our kids. It’s amazing how much you can do with one or two storybooks. Two books that I ended up buying after this session that I didn’t have before are “The Easter Bunny’s Assistant” and “The Day the Crayons Quit” because they were just too cute! I’m hoping I can find time to squeeze some of these ideas into our packed days this year because the kids would absolutely LOVE it! 

One of the quotes I loved hearing from Deanna is, "It's not just cute. It's cute with a purpose." So often people make comments about things we do as teachers and even TpT sellers is that what we do is just so cute! That's nice, but it's not just cute! There is a purpose behind it! Aren't you more engaged in things that are more attractive? Kids love this stuff and we love it because of the purpose behind it and the engagement that it brings our kids. This seemed to be a common theme amongst the presenters and I was just so glad to hear it explained that way! 

The second session was over language arts interventions. So many great ideas that I can’t wait to use with my kiddos who need interventions this year. The kids will love this small group or one on one time with these fun, engaging ideas I’m taking back to my classroom! I can’t wait to try them out. I had to buy some magnet wands and magnetic chips so we can do this stretchy the word snake idea. They sound out the word and put a chip down for each sound and then take the wand over the chips from left to right and say the word as the wand grasps the chips. So much FUN!!
For my afternoon sessions, I went to LeAnna Wolkis Goldstein’s session over foldables to use in the classroom. This was such a fun make and take session and the ideas for the different foldables she showed us could be used in so many ways! Seriously, how cute (but effective and purposeful) are these foldables?!

Then I went to a classroom management session with Kim Adsit. Tons of fab ideas yet again! J I like this idea of this “We can…” board to work towards something specific. Great for working on one of our rules at a time in the beginning of the year and then bringing it out again when we have troubles with something or forget one of our rules.

I know this is getting super long, so I will wrap it up with my last full day session with Dr. Jean and write a separate post about the TpT Conference and other Vegas fun! 
My day with Dr. Jean was full of more amazing ideas and make and takes from her Common Core Camp! The great thing about her ideas is that they are so simple and cheap, but so effective and kids love them! This is another one of those sessions that I really need to look through my pictures and notes to decide what I want to accomplish this year. She asked us many times throughout the day if we had learned something new and to share one thing with someone sitting near us. It was so hard to pinpoint only one thing because everything she shared was a new and genius idea! That’s the great thing about the technology we have today because we can take pictures of all the ideas we love instead of trying to write everything out in our notes! The only problem…so MUCH to go through! I’d still say that’s a great problem to have!

Well, I hope you enjoyed reading and you’ll have to check back to see the rest of my wonderful experience in Vegas because there’s still so much to share! I’m still having a hard time believing that I actually made this happen for myself this year. I’m telling you, start saving NOW and make this happen for YOU!
My husband got to sneak in a picture with me! He is definitely a rock star of his PE classroom! :)

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