Sunday, December 30

Wintry Fun Syllable Freebie

Have you heard about the Shout Out Linky I'm co-hosting each month?! If you want to learn a little more about it & link up, check it out right here.

LOVE Freebielicious!!! Here's a little wintry freebie for you.

If you do decide to download it, I would soooo appreciate it if you would please leave me a comment and/or TpT feedback. Thanks a BUNCH!

This freebie is part of my Stupendous Syllable Practice - Set 2, containing 5 different themes of printables and literacy centers. You can find  iton TpT...

You can get the freebie by clicking on any of the pictures...


Friday, December 28

Oprah's Favorite Things - Part 3

If you are just learning about my Oprah's Favorite Things experience (back in 2004) and want to get caught's Part One and here's Part Two.

Okay...Oprah, Part Three - During the Show
So, there we were in the front row, off to the right side. We settled into our seats, marveling at where we were.

The set looked smaller in person than in real life. We so wished we could have kept our cameras. But, Harpo security didn't allow it.

There were several audience specialist people who were placing and rearranging audience members. It seemed like it was according to color. Luckily we got to stay seated together!

Katie and her husband who were a few rows back in the center of the audience. (They ended up being on the opening montage due to their adorable-ness and position.)

Jen and her sister who were directly across the studio looking fab!

Sarah was towards the back in the center section with her friend. It was hard to see her, though, because of all the cameras and lighting stuff. We exchanged thrilled smiles.

Can't believe how many people we got to experience the insanity with. So cool. It was a blast to make oh-my-goodness-is-this-for-real eye contact throughout the show!

At this time we were still under the impression that the show was about teachers and teaching. So, we just kind of hung out, thrilled to be there & quietly visiting with each other and talking to the people immediately around us.

People had come from ALL over the country. Which completely made sense. I only had to drive two hours. My guest, Cathy, used to live near and teach at my school, but she'd recently moved to Little Rock, AR, so she flew in from there.

Right before Oprah came out, some Harpo studio workers came out to get us psyched up and excited about the show. Not sure we could have been more excited, but it was really fun, knowing that Oprah would be coming out momentarily.

When she did, she was doing her normal hand shaking, high fiving and clapping. The audience was screaming and cheering and clapping and jumping up and down. Oprah was adorable, of course, graciously accepting our insanity.

Then she went into the opening statements which lead into the real topic of the show...

"I love teachers. Teachers give and give and give. That's why I wanted to give you the...hottest ticket in television." And then everyone REALLY fuh-ruh-eaked.

Oprah started going through the things we were receiving one or two items at a time.

Intense is an understatement.

I literally had a headache within the first 15 mn from all the screaming (my own and others'). Which seems like I'm complaining, but I am sooooo not.

How can one brain process all the layers of what was happening?

Don't get me wrong - I still acted like a buffoon, jumping, yelling, clapping, etc. I still had an time. And, happily adjusted to my headache. :-)

Several times during the show, Oprah took breaks from recording and chatted with the audience. That was so cool! She even hugged a few people.

In the end, it was around $17K worth of gifts. Nuts. And, Oprah personally helped out with the tax situation so we didn't get hit so hard. Amazing. Truly.

Some of the gifts came right out to the audience (Movado watch, mp3 player, Dooney & Burke leather weekend bag, Sony Vaio laptop, $500 Office Max giftcard, Magellan GPS, Takashimya champagne flutes, Lollia creams and bubble bath, Bourjois roll of lipsticks in a gorgeous carrying roll) and we got to carry them home in big white Oprah's favorite things gift bags. I still have them. Can't part with them.

Some of the gifts came out in an envelope with a certificate inside (Maytag washer/dryer, Flat Panel tv, Apple Bottom jeans, Williams-Sonoma 1000-thread count sheets & wool blanket, Miraval Spa trip, Orbitz airfare for the trip, Key Lime Bundt Cake, SpecialTeas tea gift certificate, Italian Water Garden tea cup and pitcher set)

Some of the gifts we picked up on our way out of the studio so they could give us the size we needed (Burberry coat & scarf, Eileen Fischer waffle weave merino wool hoodie and pants).

She ended the show with a Bebe Winans and Rob Thomas singing a gorgeous Christmas song to us as a duet.

Still can't believe it happened to me.

Gotta say, though, that like Oprah has often said...with all the stuff you're still just who you are.

Totally agree. Got all that stuff (donated and gave several things as gifts). But I'm still the same old me.

Wanna read more?

Part 1 (How I got picked)

Part 2 (Pre-Show Experience)

Part 3 (During the Show)

Part 4 (After the Show...Meeting Oprah)

Tuesday, December 11

Texts from my daughter's 4k her!

So, my 4 year old daughter Emily is a bit of a pistol. Darling, hilarious, sweet, spunky and adorable.

Definitely a pistol. (Soooo not apple-tree, right?!)

Her 4K teacher is fanTASTic.
We love her.
For many reasons.

Her wonderful handling of Emily being one of them.

Several times this year I've brought my phone in to the lounge to read her text/email messages to my team so we could share a laugh. After today's they urged me to share them on my blog.

I thought...why not? Then, if my phone dies I will have saved them for posterity and, maybe they'll make you smile, too. ;)

Here are a few of my faves...

The first one was a typo in an email that any one of us could make (which is why I laughed so much, maybe?) and of course it went home to all the families AND it was in the first few weeks of school. It happened on a day that they had a special event first thing in the morning (can't remember what it was).

Heads up. The ____ ran long so chapel ran late so lunch ran late and rest time was short. You might have crappy kids tonight.

**crabby (oops. too cute.)

Favorite Text Message #1
T: Hey, I'm having a container of grapes mystery. Did Emily have a pink round container of grapes today?

Me: Yes. (seriously wondering what was up with the randomness...knowing Emily had been up to something.)

T (half hour later): Here's the story...I found the container under the table unopened. I asked the table who lost their grapes. Emily told me it was Ashley. Ashley hates fresh fruit. Emily denied they were hers to me, Mrs. ___ and Mrs. ___ so she visited the principal and ate her grapes.

We love that she follows through. The above example might seem a little harsh if you don't know her or Emily, but it was totally appropriate for Emily! (And, the principal - out of Em's ear shot - told me it was the highlight of her day.) And...she's so not harsh...she's awesome and hilarious and loves four year olds.

Favorite Text Message #2
T: A funny thing happened at rest time. Not really at the moment. Emily put a button up her nose. She blew it out on the third blow. There was a small bloody nose afterwards. I am texting you a pic cuz it's amazing how big it was.

(It was nearly as big as a dime! In her tiny little nose!)

Me: Oh my word.

Text #3
T: Emily had some issues in a center so I sent Santa a text and Santa asked her to be kind and nice. Emily is now having a great day.

Text #4
T (later that same day): Emily has been a rock star.


Emily has already grown so much under her! We are so blessed to have her in our lives!!!


Tuesday, November 27

Oprah's Favorite Things - Part 2

Oprah - Part 2 - The Pre-Show Experience

If you want to read how I got to be in the audience, check this post.

I walked on clouds for a week or two before being able to head down to Harpo Studios. I was thrilled about getting to see the show and be a part of all the excitement that went with it AND about having my guest and several close friends be part of the experience with me (they got picked from their Last Mn Email submissions, too! Yayyy!).

So special!

My two college bffs (University of Wisconsin - Madison...goooo Bucky!) were both picked. Jen & Katie. Jen invited her sister & Katie invited her husband. (Yes, tin the end, they ended up with two of EVERYthing.)

My  guest was my closest teaching friend, Cathy, that had just moved away to Little Rock, Arkansas - she was flying in the day before.

Another new friend was also picked!

The night before I stayed in the hotel with Jen and her sister. We had a blast giggling with excitement at the opportunity to go to Oprah. Not much sleep was had as we reconnected and anticipated the fun of the next day.

Our cab picked us up super early and we got in line at Harpo, meeting my guest Cathy, Katie and her husband. We waited quite a while and it was kind of cold, but totally fun. Everyone in line was excited to be there!

The line started moving and once it was our turn we had to turn in our cell phones and cameras to security. We were also given a number that would be the order we were to go in to get our seats. Not sure what time the low numbers had arrived to be in line. Our number was in the mid hundreds.

After going through security we went to a large reception area with tons of chairs and huge pictures of Oprah and her various guests from over the years. The wait was long, but the energy was high and it was fun finding out where people were from. One adorable teacher had just flown in from Hawaii.

We went to the bathroom...fluffed our hair...redid our lipstick...maybe a dozen times? Gotta look good for Oprah!

When someone started speaking on the microphone, everyone stopped talking instantly and you could hear a pin drop. The next phase was beginning...

Several individual names were called - we had been told that the show was about teachers and wonderful teacher stories. We'd seen some of these teachers getting miked up in the reception area, and they were the names called, so of course they had preferential seating.

Then they starting saying a few names of people the show had selected for pre-seating because they were impressed with something that was in their email submission.

And...Jen's name was called! (She's always been an amazing writer and person.) They said that Jen and all her guests could come forwards for pre-seating. They clarified that "guests" would be everyone she knew PRIOR to being in line that day.

So, the six of us headed up to the audience specialists who studied us with our guest, looking at the colors we wore and whatever else they were trying to do and then picked our spots for us from the reserved seats. Our three pairs ended up in three different sections of the audience, but we could all see each other easily!

The audience specialists seated Cathy and I...


Wanna read Part 3? Click below...
Part 1 (How I got picked)

Part 2 (Pre-Show Experience)

Part 3 (During the Show)

Part 4 (After the Show...Meeting Oprah)

Monday, November 26

Oprah's Favorite Things for Teachers - part 1

So, apparently the Oprah's Favorite Things for Teachers was aired over the Thanksgiving break...I heard about it this morning from a sweet colleague. It's been a while since I saw it and I still can't believe it all happened!

Got me thinking it was about time to share this crazy, once in a lifetime out-of-body experience!

Oprah - Part 1...How I Was Picked~
I live in suburban Milwaukee, which is 2 hours or less from Chicago...I had tried to get to a taping the previous summer but learned that they really didn't do shows in the summer. Bugger. Darn hiatus when summer was my only option.

So, when I was on maternity leave (Fall, 2004) I was DEEEEtermined to get to one. I'd be in my most comfy nursing position...recliner, Boppy, blanket, baby, drink with straw, remote control for tv and telephone in hand.

I called the studio literally hundreds of times a day while nursing and watching tv. Busy signal every time. Went on for several days. I tell you, I was determined.

After a few days, though, I started mildly complaining to girlfriends who would listen. One girlfriend (a college bff) mentioned her sister in law going to the taping the day or week before to see Brad Pitt. After he made Troy. Can you say buff?

At any rate I asked her how her SIL got to go to the taping and she mentioned a web link called Last Minute Email Reservations.

I tracked that page down FAST. Made it my home page so I could see if there was a link that I could get in on.

Since we live just a few hours from Chicago, I wouldn't have to worry about flights, etc.

So...most times I checked there were zero links. No opportunities. When there were links they would be soooo random and not related to me at all. One of them I almost clicked on..."Are you Kathy Griffin's biggest fan?" Being a rule follower and fairly literal I couldn't go through with it. I mean, my entire reason for clicking would be to get to the taping. And Kathy Griffin wouldn't be a bummer to see, but was I her biggest fan? No. super super early morning when my newborn was sleeping and so should I have been, I just had this weird feeling that there'd be a link that would work.

Headed to the computer. Sure enough. "Calling All Teachers."

Filled out a form, made sure I got the thank you screen and then sent the link to a bunch of teacher friends in hopes that they'd fill it out, get picked and maybe choose me as their guest if I didn't get picked. :)

Well, a week or so went by and my mom was in town (from the great state of Minnesota) and we were bummin' around my house. We decided to go shopping. Luckily, when we headed out, we both realized we'd forgotten something in the house.

Headed back in to retrieve whatever it was...and the phone rang. My caller ID said, "Oprah Winfrey Show!" Ahhhhhh!!!

I answered in a tither. My mom was in a tither, too. The lady probably was used to nutball reactions, though, as she was all cool and casual.

When they asked if I wanted to bring a guest I said I wanted to bring my mom. Of course!!! But, my guest had to be a teacher and we had to bring our teaching licenses. Sorry, mom.

Okay...I gotta go to bed...will write part 2 (The Pre-Show/Front Row Experience) soon-ish.


Part 1 (How I got picked)

Part 2 (Pre-Show Experience)

Part 3 (During the Show)

Part 4 (After the Show...Meeting Oprah)


Sunday, November 25

Common Core Reading Workshop - Building S.T.A.R Readers!

During Reading Workshop, I want to build readers that have excellent reading habits...regardless of whatever reading program my district had purchased. Grounded in Common Core, this Building S.T.A.R. Readers pack can be used on its own or as a supplement to any reading curriculum.

A STAR reader is a reader that has these important reading habits:





Each STAR Reader habit has a friend with an original ditty...wanna meet them?

Each habit from S.T.A.R. has two anchor charts, described in the Teacher Notes page below...

There are 12 anchor charts for elaborating upon the habits and a goal setting page, too.
Mini Lesson Outlines...

Thoughts for working with the ideas behind each anchor chart are included as well. Those pages look like this...

Also included are Parent Letters & Student Response pages...

This STAR Readers pack is SO helpful!!

It's available in discounted Reading Workshop bundles along with companion packs:

Wednesday, November 14

Oprah (and me and my friends!!), Comprehension Freebie, Giveaway(s)

This time of year I see references to Oprah's Favorite Things all over the place. Kinda can't help remembering that it's coming up on my 8 year anniversary...from being in the Oprah show audience...for the Favorite Things show...the one for just teachers.

And, I got to experience it with several of my besties.

AND, Oprah approached our little group afterwards from the back seat of her SUV via her security guard.

Total insanity.

We almost didn't stop. See, we were afraid it was the press and we were given strict orders not to leak anything to the press until the show aired that Monday. The security guard urged us to stop. "Ladies, you are going to want to stop."

The pic is blurry because the random lady who took it was all verklemmt. As were we...we probably would not have been very good at taking any one else's picture either. I am the second one from the left.
 If you want to hear more about this, let me know and I'll put together a post. If you're, like, so over Oprah, I get it. Let me know that, too. And I won't go into it again. :)

Do you ever have your kiddos track their thinking on sticky notes? Ever have them do it as homework? I do, sometimes, with some groups. When I do, sometimes I put the sticky notes on the particular pages I want the kids stop at to record their thinking. Other times I just put a few sticky notes on the cover and they pick and choose where to place them. Depends on the book. We often share and discuss their thoughts the next day. The discussions get fairly lively sometimes depending on the text!

If this sounds like something you'd like to try with your students, I have a note you can send home. There are two on the page so you save some trees. :)

And...for the last of my ramblings...a super talented parent knit and crocheted this precious owl for me. I was so touched...
Have a wonderful rest of your week, friends!!

Tuesday, October 16

Place Value Games - Base 10 Blocks

I've had Place Value with Base 10 Blocks on my mind...

My district implements the Everyday Math program. Some days the core lesson is super meaty. Other days, not so much. Hence, the games/centers option. :)

Something we are toying with is trying Math Workshop with our Everyday Math for grade 1. Do you do Math Workshop with EM for grade 1? If so, I'd love to hear about your general structure and any tips you would suggest.

Anyhoo - back to the games...There are three different ones - a dice game and two versions of concentration...

Thanks to the fabulous Ashley Hughes for the great clip art images! You can find them in her TpT store right here. :)

Dice Game (3 versions)...This can be played individually, with partners or in small groups. Set up a "bank" of base 10 blocks. Kids roll two dice and follow the action on the page and record their roll & running total. Depending what they roll, they'll either add to their collection from the bank or remove from their collection to the bank. They'll keep a running total after each roll. Winner is whoever has the most (or least!) at the decide.

Concentration/Memory - Yellow/Abacus
Arrange cards upside down. Students take turns flipping over two cards to try and match the number with the corresponding base 10 block image.

Concentration/Memory - Blue/Right Triangle
Arrange cards upside down. Students take turns flipping over two cards to try and match the equation with the corresponding base 10 block image.


Friday, October 5

Embarrassing Moment!

Why is it so fun to hear about one another's embarrassing moments? Maybe because we can all relate to cringe-worthy embarrassment? Here's one of my most embarrassing teacher stories!

So, a few years ago, I had this awesome kiddo - his family was equally awesome and stunningly beautiful. 

Beautiful as in, both kids modeled for Kohl's ads. The mom and dad may have modeled in their past, as well. 

A super sweet, kind, generous, wonderful family who you wanted to just keep staring at all four of them because they were so attractive. 

Sounds a little stalker-y, but true. Everyone who knows them would agree.

They would die of embarrassment if they knew I was posting this because they are just.that.nice.

At any rate, I was going to Kalahari (a water park hotel in WI Dells about two hours from where I live) over the weekend with my family and so were they. 

We ran into each other a few times while we were there. 

Me in my bathing suit with any kiddo is kind of embarrassing. With super-model (but soooo kind) family? 

A.W.K.W.A.R.D., but oh well. 

My suit was a two piece...skirt on the bottom and loose tank-top on top. Important detail to note.

I decided to give the boogie boarding or surfing (can't remember) a try in this pool thing that shot water at you like a wave would and you could boogie board/surf. It has a very thin layer of water flowing at you really fast so you could do your thing. 

The worker explained that the best spot to do it was the middle because off the sides the water wasn't as strong and you'd go spinning and flying (super fast water on part of you and slower water on the other part created the spinning.)

Welllll, I aimed at the middle. I really did. 

Yet I went over to the side. 

Which created the spin. 

And the water up my nose and the swimsuit going every direction. 

Exposing my white, pudgy belly. (I would say the pudge was from having had my second baby six-ish month prior...but the same pudge still occupies my belly. Said baby is now four. Years. So, that wouldn't be right to use baby as an excuse.)


I finally look up and straighten myself out and yep...super cute family is there. 

With their parents. 

Meaning, the grandparents of my student. A group of six people watching my demise. 

The mom didn't make eye contact with me right away. As in, "I don't want you to think I saw all of that so I'm going to look away to make you think maybe I didn't." She's sweet like that.

My little student said "That was so awesome, Mrs. Mattes!" He really is so darn sweet and probably didn't think it was a big deal AT all.

On Monday he walks in and says, "Mrs. Mattes, my dad got that fall recorded." WHAT??? 

I'm sure they were recording it not to be mean but because their little boy told them to. 

They didn't know I would make such a fool out of myself. 

And, they're so nice I'm sure they deleted it.

I still cringe when I think about the moment I realized my embarrassing moment was witnessed by people I knew. But it's hilarious, too. :)

And, it taught that wonderful student (whom I still keep in touch with several years later) that wipeouts aren't all that bad!


Thursday, October 4

Personal Narrative Writing Workshop Unit

This Personal Narrative Writing Workshop Unit has been SUCH a blast to implement! 

My sweet little writers were very productive in learning that their lives are FILLED with stories just waiting to come out on paper in personal narrative (small moment) writing. 

Having students not be stuck on "What do I write about?" has increased their volume of writing and drastically reduced their (and my!!!) frustration!

In order to make it as easy as possible for you to teach, I've included teacher AND student samples for as many pieces as possible!

It is available individually and also at a greater savings in my Writing Workshop Bundle.

Rave Reviews on TpT                    Friendly Letters on TpT

The unit encourages students to think about four main places in their life that they have stories to tell...

Then, you spend a while going deeper into each of those four parts...

Students LOVED writing stories, too. After we spent time on each 3 box planning page, kids would choose one story from one of the boxes and write a story.

I teach first grade, so the samples are from first graders since that's what I teach. If you have second grade samples from implementing the unit, I'd LOVE to hear from you!!!

Here's a sample that a student wrote after we focused on Places for a few days...

When you do mini-lessons on adding details, this anchor chart can come in very handy...

There are three different types of writing paper, too...
No editing circles...

With Editing Circles...


 Beginning, Middle End...

Here's another planning page for you to use, too. My class loved writing and sharing their embarrassed stories! I SOO wish I'd taken pictures...
Hoping your students love this unit as much as mine!

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