Sunday, November 15, 2015

Turkey Trot with the Elementary Chalkboard- Created by MrHughes

Welcome to “The Chalkies” Turkey Trot! We hope you enjoy a jog through our blogs gobbling up freebies, ideas, and recipes for some holiday joy!

     We have a new blog name!  We switched out the word "Primary" for "Elementary". We want to meet the needs of any teacher K-6. Our blog has been thoughtfully designed to help you find what YOU need for YOUR classroom level! Don't miss those grade level tabs at the top of the page that will help you grab what you need.

     We hope you enjoy this little meal from appetizer to dessert!

     Creative Writing Ahead! This engaging writing activity will have your students grinning and laughing as they create silly and often time outrageous Thanksgiving stories and YOU get to sit back and enjoy the creativity as it flows freely around your room!

Check here Turkey Pick-A-Story to download your FREE tasty appetizer WAHOO!

     The holidays are a challenge for ANY grade and teacher (and principal too!). My holiday BRIGHT IDEA is to embrace the season and find activities and resources that allow students to have fun and learn at the same time.

     Now, I get that we can't just stop teaching our curriculum from October to January, but, we CAN allow students to have some fun when they finish an assignment, as time fillers, and/or as a break from the norm!
     This could be as easy as a simple coloring page or practice page with some fall clip art. The kids will enjoy the change of pace, and YOU will love the fact that your kiddos are engaged right up until the final bell for the holiday break!

These are probably the best brownie I have EVER tasted! They are rich, flavorful, and so good you won't want to share! Check HERE to get the recipe. Or copy and paste it from below!

Mint Brownies
Recipe by Our Best Bites
4 squares unsweetened baking chocolate (4oz)
1 C butter (2 sticks)
4 eggs
2 cups sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/4 C flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
2 C powdered sugar
4 T butter, softened
1 1/2 tsp peppermint extract
1-2 Tbs milk 
green food coloring

Chocolate Glaze:

6 oz (about 1 cup) semi-sweet chocolate chips ,you could also use dark
6 Tbs real butter
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9×13 inch pan with foil making sure the foil extends over the edges by at least one inch.  Lightly spray with non-stick spray and set aside.

Chop both unsweetened chocolate and two sticks of butter into chunks and place together in a microwave safe bowl.  Microwave in 30 second intervals, stirring in between, until just melted and smooth.  Set aside to cool, stirring occasionally. 

With an electric mixer or stand mixer beat eggs, sugar, and vanilla for 2 minutes.  While egg mixture is beating, measure out flour and combine with baking powder.   While mixer is running, slowly add melted chocolate and beat to combine.  Turn beater speed to low and add in flour by spoonfuls.  Mix just until combined.  Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 20-30 minutes or until a knife poked in center comes out clean.

Cool completely on a metal rack. When brownies have cooled to room temperature, prepare frosting.  Combine all frosting ingredients, starting with 1 1/2 tablespoon of milk, and beat until light and fluffy.  Add more milk by teaspoonful as needed.  Spread frosting evenly over brownies and then place brownies in fridge to chill. 

While brownies are chilling prepare chocolate glaze.  Place chocolate chips and 6 tablespoons butter in a microwave safe bowl.  Microwave in 30 second intervals, stirring in between, until just melted and smooth.  Set aside to cool for about 15 minutes and then carefully spread on top of the frosting layer.  Return pan to fridge to cool.  When chocolate has hardened, use edges of foil to remove entire brownie from pan.  Cut into squares and serve.

     Looking for seconds? AWESOME! Click on over to my shop and check out over 300 resources that will make your holidays more manageable and engaging! I have mystery pictures, writing projects, Order Up! sets, dodecahedron projects, and more!

     Click on over- you will be glad you did!
AND- Shhh! Don't tell anyone, but for two days only (November 15th-16th), you can save 10% on nearly ALL my resources! WAHOO!

Don't forget to Trot on over to Digital Divide and Conqueror's blog where you can continue your Turkey Trot journey and gobble up more goodies!

YAY! Click on the logo above to CHECK IT OUT!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Saturday, November 07, 2015

Chalkola! Markers You Can't Live Without!

Okay Peeps!
I have to tell you that when I got an email asking if I would like to try out chalk markers and give an honest review of them, I didn't really know what to think. I ALWAYS give an honest review- so THAT wasn't an issue. I just wasn't sure what I would do with these markers. When they explained that they would write on practically ANY surface and were washable I was intrigued as I could have a lot of fun with my teachers and students at school. They sounded pretty cool, and so I agreed. I waited the short shipping time to receive them, and came they did!


That is all  have to say. 

Blog post over.

Just kidding. These babies are super cool though. I was sent two sizes to play with. My WIFE (the amazing Mrs. Hughes) saw them and snatched them right up for posters she was making for the school Halloween Carnival. I was worried she would use all the ink in them (after all, most markers like this don't last all that long). However after making 5 HUGE signs with the FAT and FINE TIP markers, they still have plenty of chalk ink for me to play with. WAHOO!

 My wife started with the white FAT TIP to write the main word on each poster.

Her friend then used the FINE TIP set to write the smaller words on the posters. I could NOT believe how the words popped off the page! They didn't streak, they didn't run, they didn't smear (though they will if you are not careful about where your hand is!).

You DO have to remember to shake them really good before you begin to get the ink mixed up, and my 4-year old thought THAT was the coolest thing ever. She got to dance around and shake the markers for us. This is how the finished poster turned out for the carnival! There was one on each side of the table!

My wife is part of the PTA for our school, and they made several other posters as well for the carnival area. Below is one the made using just the FAT TIP markers! The picture doesn't show the clarity very well, but it was almost 3D.

I didn't get a picture of it, but the PTA also used the FAT TIP markers to write on the windows of the front doors to remind parents to enter by a different door for the carnival. The marker was surprisingly legible, didn't run down the glass, and was very bright colored! Clean up the next day was a total snap as well- a wet cloth and it came right off! LOVED IT!

I am excited to still have a ton of the ink left because I plan to leave notes for different classes (I am the principal of an elementary school) on their door windows and such. 

I will also be doing this at home with my own kids on their bathroom mirrors and windows- not to mention my son's car windows...bwahahahaha! Yes, I have a lot of plans for these little gems!

 Here you can see the two sizes that I was able to test drive. They work on ANY non-porous surface and can be used on paper as well. Yes, these will become a staple in our house- and with SIX kids still at home, they will be enjoyed very much! I may even let the kids use them...someday....or not. I don't share well with others...ha ha!

So, the real question here is how can YOU get an awesome set for CHEAP (well, cheaper than anyone else...ha ha). Please know that this is NOT an affiliate link and I do NOT get any money if you use them. Just sharing a great deal- one educator to another. DON'T FORGET THE CODE to save and additional 20% off the already low price!
20% Off on Amazon - Use Code -> CHK20OFF

20% Off on Amazon - Use Code -> CHALK20A

You can learn more about these awesome markers by clicking HERE!

The bottom line for me is that these are indeed worth every penny you will spend on them.

Happy writing and drawing.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Fostering a Positive School Culture

     It can be felt by EVERY SINGLE PERSON that enters your building. The minute anyone opens your school doors and walks inside, an immediate impression is felt. Often it is one of happiness, structure, and confidence. Sometimes a building may have a sense of chaos, frustration, and discontent. Regardless of whether it is good or bad- the point is that it is there.
     Now, you might be wondering why this matters. One might say, "Who cares what I feel when I enter the school. As long as kids are learning and teachers are teaching, and administrators are dealing with discipline, then everything is right." Sadly, they couldn't be MORE wrong.
     In that instance someone comes into the building, an important connection is being made in their minds- this school is a good school, or, this school is not. It sounds so cliche and corny, but I truly believe that it happens.
     So, that being said, how does a school foster a positive culture? One where students enjoy coming each day to school, teachers are empowered to be their best, administrators devote their time to leading, and parents are confident and feel supported in the education process. 
     It isn't an easy undertaking, and one that may take months or even years to correct. 

     Let me share my experience with my school. I lucked out this past year, when I came to a new school as the 6th grade teacher. The school was in the midst of a massive turnover due to retirement, and the then acting administrator wanted to make several changes to the format and structure of the school. School-wide rules were created as a staff. Discipline procedures were put in place, and teachers teamed and worked together to come up with ideas about how to make classrooms work and run more smoothly. 
     I can't give evidence of my school before I came, but I have been told it was a bit chaotic.
     Due to a series of circumstances, I was made 1/2 day interim administrator and 1/2 day 6th grade teacher of the school the end of September 2014. I continued the process of change we began and I started upping the ante. I made changes and started positive awards for classes to earn. I think the biggest change was that I simply made an effort to expression my appreciation to my faculty and staff, AND to let students and parents know that I appreciated them, respected them, and wanted what was best for them.
     The year seemed to end with agreement from all parties that we had a successful and positive year. Parents commented on the fact that the school "felt "different- several even commented that even driving by felt different (in a good way). I took that as a sign that our school- working together- was on the right path to having a flourishing positive culture in your building.
     Over the summer, I pondered on what I could do (having been hired as the full-time administrator) to help maintain and building our positive culture. Then it hit me!

     I decided to do a theme for my faculty and staff. After all, I didn't have a class or classroom anymore (a post on that coming soon), and I needed to have a focus. I decided on a SUPER HERO theme. Working with my amazing secretary and also with my wife, the three of us came up with some fun ways to surprise the teachers and get the year off to a great start. My wife did the bulletin boards pictured above that is in our front entry of the school. 
     We decided that for the first week of school, we would have a small gift or treat of some kind for each day for each person who worked at the school. We had backscratchers, hand-decorated clipboards, new lunch totes with the school logo, and more! We also had an amazing spread of treats each day for the first week during morning recess! Everything had a note or memo expressing appreciation and excitement for the coming year!
     I am pretty sure the faculty and staff LOVED it, and I feel this set the tone for the year as one of appreciation and dedication.
     Friday of the first week was my favorite day, and one that we will build on for the rest of the year. My wife and I wanted to give each teacher a cape to wear to help students remember that their teacher was a super hero! After much discussion we came up with a plan and made a trip to Wal-Mart.
     Buying all the biggest shirts we could from the clearance rack (over 30), we headed home. Next came the logo design for the cape. We settled on SC for "Super Colts" with the horse from our logo. My wife made a stencil and then spent the next several days cutting shirts and spraying on the logo!

My wife and I also found these awesome Captain America shirts on clearance and you will notice my wife was able to add "Co-" to my secretary's shirt! AWESOME!

     On Friday of the first week, we went to EVERY classroom and presented each teacher (and aide) with his/her cape. I told the students that I had to share a secret about their teacher that they didn't want them to know. They sat right up and were totally interested. When I showed them the cape, the cheered for their teacher. My wife also had a sucker for each student with a mini paper cape and sticker that reminded them that they too, were super heroes. 

    We also gave a cape to every paraprofessional, custodian, lunch lady", speech therapist, computer lab managers...if they worked in the building, they got a cape!  My head custodian LOVED his cape and wore it all over the school grounds and also to the hardware store and any other errand he had to run. As you can see below, he even posed on the school roof while fixing an air conditioner for a picture!

     At the end of the day, we had a fire drill, and it was SO AWESOME to see the faculty and staff walking around outside in their capes and enjoying it. What an amazing group of people!
     You might be thinking, "Well bully for you Mr. Hughes. So glad you could do all these things for your staff and faculty. Not all of us can do that." Or, "I am just a teacher. I can't do all this for my school. It isn't my place to do so."
      If that is your impression- then I have failed in this post. It isn't just about only the school leader making the effort, though I concede when the school leader is leading the charge for a positive culture, it tends to work easier, faster, and is more widely accepted. Even if you start in your own little corner of the school by creating a place your students LOVE to come, and then reaching out to your teammates- leaving notes or appreciation, small treats, kind words. You will be amazed at how fast this will move through your school- and soon, your school, regardless of what it was- will become even better! And, it is all because of YOU!

     Our school is moving along this year and I am LOVING the culture of our building. Expectations are set high, and students work to achieve them. Teachers and staff are working well to help and support each other, and parents are coming to the school with praise and concerns for me/us to address. What more could we really ask for?

     Here are some of my year-long goals and plans to keep this positive culture rolling forward:
=I try to make it to every teacher weekly to observe and leave a note about all the good things I see them doing.
=We highlight 4 students each week for the local newspaper- Students of the Week.
=We use Positive Office Referrals (check out the format HERE).
=We have the "Colt's Club". Student earn tickets for a weekly drawing by going "above and beyond". And adult in the building can award them- all have tickets they use.
=We have and maintain a school Facebook page. I am amazed at the positive effect it is having.

     These are just a few of the strategies we are currently employing to foster and maintain a positive school culture. As a school, we will add and remove strategies as needed- but we will ALWAYS be looking for ways to make our culture more positive!

    I am one lucky administrator, that is for sure. I can't wait to see where our school goes next!

-John, Created by MrHughes

Monday, August 24, 2015

The Literary League Back to School Give­‐Away

The Literary League, a group of exceptional secondary English Language Arts teachers, is hosting a Back to School Give-Away. Enter to win a choice of gift cards, middle school and high school ELA resource bundles, and shopping sprees to middle and high school ELA TPT stores.

By the time I grab my books and I give myself a look I'm at the corner just in time to see the bus fly by. It's alright’ cause I'm saved by The Literary League! That’s right, we are at it again! It’s one of the biggest back-to-school give-aways courtesy of some of your favorite ELA sellers. 

We’re teachers too, so we know that feeling of going back to school.  Cure those back to school blues by entering this HUGE give-away. Not only multiple prize packs, but also multiple winners!

The give-away will run Monday 8/31 to Monday 9/14. You’ll see some familiar and maybe even some new faces, so follow our stores and our social media accounts, and stay updated with what’s new! Winners will be announced Tuesday 9/15.

The Literary League, a group of exceptional secondary English Language Arts teachers, is hosting a Back to School Give-Away. Enter to win a choice of gift cards, middle school and high school ELA resource bundles, and shopping sprees to middle and high school ELA TPT stores.

Prize # 1: Gift Card of Choice
Win a $50 gift card to Teachers Pay Teachers, Amazon, Staples or Target.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Prize #2: Middle School Resources
Win all of the resources listed below for your middle school ELA classroom.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Prize #3: High School Resources
Win all of the resources listed below for your high school ELA classroom.
Close Reading: Guide Your Students Through the Process
Interactive Notebook Bundle
Rhetoric: The Art of Persuasion
Common Core Literature Bell Ringers for Secondary English
Found Poetry Packet
Introduction to Close Reading for Middle and High School - Model and Practice
Critical Thinking: What is Textual Analysis #2
Fiction and Nonfiction Test Passages
Short Story Starters Task Cards 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Prize # 4: Middle School TpT Store Shopping Spree 
Win a $10 shopping spree to one of the TpT Stores listed below.
2 Peas and a Dog
The Creative Classroom
Literary Sherri
Mrs. Spangler in the Middle
Darlene Anne
Fisher Reyna Education
Brain Waves Instruction
Stacey Lloyd
James Whitaker's Sophist Thoughts
Created by MrHughes
ELA Everyday

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Prize #5: High School TpT Store Shopping Spree  
Win a $10 shopping spree to one of the TpT Stores listed below.
Room 213
The Daring English Teacher
Making Meaning with Melissa
Linda Jennifer
Brynn Allison
Juggling ELA

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, August 03, 2015

Literary League: We're BAAA-AAACCKKKK!

School starts (of has started) and as teachers and principals, we are all left wondering what just happened. Where did my summer go and will it ever come back? Sadly the answer is that it evaporated while we were at the beach, camping, traveling, sleeping in, taking care of family members, dealing with life issues, or working out. OR, just simply being at home with the family. Regardless, it is OVER, GONE, GOODBYE, SEE YA LATER ALLIGATOR! 

Now, the real question is ARE YOU PREPARED for the students? I hope so. I have spent the summer as a new principal working, stressing, and prepping for the amazing school year to come! I have also spent time working with and getting to better know the people below in this list! Let me tell you- THEY ARE EXPERTS AT WHAT THEY DO! 

With the sale going on, it would be worth your time to check out EACH professional educator's shop below and see what they have to make your back to school easy and stress free! WAHOO!

For example, my Language Arts Daily Dose and my Daily Morning Math Sets are perfect for ensuring spiral review and consistent practice of required concepts!

I wish you all a most wonderful back to school experience! ROCK ON!

Sunday, August 02, 2015

Primary Chalkboard: Back to School Sale and More!

The Primary Chalkboard is SO EXCITED to share the Teachers Pay Teachers Back to School Sale! Can you believe it? Back to School already? Who'd of thought it possible?

I keep thinking, "WHERE DID MY SUMMER GO?"
Then I remember it went into two family reunions, a church trek with hand carts across the relentless plains of Wyoming to celebrate and appreciate my pioneer heritage... it went into the TpT Conference in Las Vegas, and spending time with my great friends, my 6 amazing kids, and my talented wife! However, it mostly went in to preparing my school for the coming year (which is TOTALLY going to rock, by the way!) GO COLTS! WAHOO!

And, speaking of the coming school year- I wanted to share some of my most popular resources in a fun and visual way! Check out the pictures below! Clicking on any of the pictures will take you to that category in my shop, which will save you time hunting it down amid 100's of resources! Enjoy exploring and, when you find something you love, don't forget to use the PROMO code at check out to save an ADDITIONAL 10% off my already discounted price for a total of 20% OFF everything! (Even my bundles- making them almost 40% off regular price- HOLY COW BATMAN!)

Cheers and HAPPY BACK TO SCHOOL! We've got this- because, well... We are amazing professionals who do what we do for kids!

Check out my Chalkie Pals' pages for more suggestions.
Back to School is EASY-PEASY when you have the Primary Chalkboard on your side!

Monday, July 27, 2015

Created by MrHughes Goes Back to School

Greetings Blog Hoppers!
John Hughes here from Created by MrHughes. I am so pleased to have you stop by as part of the LITERARY LEAGUE BLOG HOP and learn a little bit more about me!

Let start by giving you a little background about me and my teaching career to this point! I started teaching in 2001. My first job was the computer specialist for 1200 elementary students. I had a new class every 30 minutes and never the same class twice in a week. It was an adventure!
From there I moved to 5th grade for three years, and then spent 9 years in sixth, after switching schools and districts. I love teaching science and math, but I have a REAL love for writing and reading! Best subjects EVER!
This past year, I was 1/2 day 6th grade teacher and 1/2 day administrator for our school. It was a crazy adventure and I loved it.
This year will start a whole new adventure- I will be the full-time administrator of my school. WAHOO! I am so excited to work with ALL the teachers and students in my school AND to be in the classrooms helping my teachers. I CAN'T WAIT TO GET THIS YEAR STARTED!

While you are here, I want to share my favorite read aloud novel with you. I have read many, many books over the years and have loved many them. But, my all-time favorite book is...

I enjoy reading books to my students that have children as the main character. Not only children, but children who they can relate to, they can aspire to be like, that they can learn to appreciate. Esperanza Rising is possibly the best one I have! Not only do they get to see life from the point of view of wealth and poverty, they learn that everyone has the ability to change into something better, even at a high price. Pam Munoz Ryan weaves an incredible tail that has roots in her own family history!

As you head back to the classroom, I invite you to think about what stories you plan to read and the reasons you read them.

Thanks for stopping by my blog and getting to know me a bit better! I wish for you a most amazing back to school event and hope you have a fantastic school year! As teachers we give so much and hope and pray it is enough for our students. I hope you will stop by my shop by clicking HERE and check out all the FREE resources I have to offer to get your year started off right! I have getting to know you activities, writing activities, and more- ALL FREE for the taking!

Enjoy and Happy Back to School!

P.S. Don't forget to HOP to the next member of this amazing Literary Group and learn more about them, their favorite read, and gather even MORE Back-to-School ideas for your kiddos!

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