Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Lakeshore Finds and New Friends!

Holy moly! It has been a week since I've posted! Things have been super crazy and not at all productive. I seriously have a list of all the products I had every intention of creating this summer but haven't! For shame. 

I have however, been spending a lot of time thinking about how I want to set up my classroom and the things that I want to create. That counts right!?

Last Friday I had the privilege of meeting up with 2 fellow Oregon bloggers! I was so excited because I have been looking for other Oregon bloggers and we are hard to find! One is even in the same district as I am! How lucky is that!? 

I have to be honest, I was kind of nervous to meet them. 1. I am such a newbie to this blogging thing and 2. I can be super shy at first. Shocker I know! My friends don't believe me either! But I am so happy I stepped out of my comfort zone! I had a great time with these ladies! They were so easy to talk to and made me so happy to be a part of this new community! I can't wait to get to know them better!

If you don't follow them yet you totally should!

            Searching for Teacher Balance

We went to lunch and then hit up Lakeshore for their sale! I found a lot of great things that I have been looking for forever! 

They had a great selection of games that were all 20% the lowest price! I liked the POP addition game because I don't have any good games for addition practice and I loved the hands on aspect of it! I also liked that there was a manipulative piece as well as having to read the dice.

I also got POP for sight words. Apparently I bought any game with the word POP in it… My kids last year LOOOVED this game. You take turns pulling out a popcorn kernel, if you can read the word you get to keep it, if not, you put it back. If you pull out a card that says POP you have to put all your pieces back into the box. It is so simple but they totally love it! It comes in 3 levels of sight words!

I wanted a good phonics based game but was very picky about what I was looking for. Most of the games I found just had you find the missing letter. That seemed way  too easy and not rigorous enough. I chose this game because it upped the rigor! You get 5 letters and then have 1 minute (can be adapted with other timers) to make as many words as you can! Then you add up your points! Math and literacy all in one!? Score!

I also found these awesome magnetic paper holders! They would be perfect for holding make up work, calendars, important papers to send home, etc. I just hope they stick to my chalkboard… 

Next are these bad boys! I have been looking for these for awhile now with no luck! These will definitely cut down on my copying. Thank goodness because that can be such a big time suck! 

Last, I bought a bunch of chevron borders. I love chevron if you can't tell. I've decided to change my classroom theme for next year to include chevron, but I'm undecided on which color(s). What do you think!? I figured better be safe and buy them all! 

If you happen to have/know someone who has chevron classroom decor that would save me the time of making it, because clearly I have no motivation this summer! 

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

My 2014-2015 Goals!

Not that I'm ready to go back to school yet, but I saw this wonderful linky party hosted by Jess over at I {heart} Recess and I just couldn't resist!  

Being reflective is such a huge part of teaching. Although, I will admit, grad school kind of ruined me to the term "reflection". Like seriously, I have 'nam flashbacks just thinking about it! So I'm going to replace that word with another word that makes me happy, sunshine.

Personal: During the hustle and bustle of the school year, my brain shifts 110% to teacher mode. Have you seen this ecard before!? Well, that's exactly how I feel!

It is my priority to make more me time this year! I want to focus on getting back into running, reading more often (Well, reading period. I don't read much during the school year) and taking time to just relax. And by relax, I mean binge watch ridiculous T.V. I think I just solved the mystery of why I don't read much..

I also want to cook more! I swear as soon as school starts, I never cook! There is definitely more freezer cooking in my future!

Organization: My classroom library is in serious need of organizing! I'm in the middle of revamping it now, but it is taking me a lot of time!

Does anyone know of a good place to find clipart for library labels!? I've been having a heck of a time with that! 

Planning: Usually I plan the night before. I know it seems like procrastinating, but it is my way of making my lesson plans relevant. I reflect, er sunshine, every night and let that dictate the next days plans. I really liked this system, but it would free up a lot of time for me to tackle those personal goals if plans were done ahead of time!

Professional: I love love love the idea of interactive notebooks and I think it would be a great addition to my math structure (or lack there of right now). If anyone has any tips I would love you forever!

Students: "Sunshine" is also important for students! I am really good at posting goals for each lesson, but I am not as consistent as I would like to be with checking in at the end of each lesson.

Motto: Things have been so crazy lately that I just have to keep reminding myself to take things one day at a time! 

Click the button below to link up your goals! I can't wait to read them all :)

Simones Math Resources

Friday, July 11, 2014

Daily 5 Book Study {Chapter 9} - The Final Chapter!

I'm pretty sure most of you combined Chapters 8 and 9 last week, but I decided that I wanted to separate the two. I wanted to do my due diligence with Chapter 8 since math is definitely my weaker skill (especially after not teaching it at all this past year)!

So I'm back on this lovely (and hot) Friday to discuss the final Chapter, Chapter 9. 

Okay seriously, I know this is off topic but it's been uncharacteristically hot here. Not that I'm complaining, I love me some sunshine. I just wanted to acknowledge how bizarre this is. Of course because I said that, I'll spook it and it will be back to typical Oregon weather in no time. I'm sorry universe, please let the sun stay!

The final Chapter in Daily 5 was called Returning to Our Core Beliefs. This chapter focused on the core beliefs of the sister's and of Daily 5 in general.

The sister's state their core beliefs as:


It also addresses how to deal with situations that arise in the classroom that may threaten to derail all of your hard Daily 5 work!

Barometer Children 
I was a little confused by this term in the beginning, but now I get it! Barometer students are those off-task students that tend to throw off the balance of the classroom and dictate how things run. One of the things that I constantly remind myself is that all students are capable of great things and that our job as educators is to set high expectations for our students. This instills a sense of trust in our students and lets them know that we believe in them. 

Some students just need extra help and support to help them meet expectations! The sisters outline 4 levels of support for these kinds of students.

1. Reflection - It is so easy for us to blame the trouble on the student, but it is important to take time to reflect on what you did. Did you rush the 10-steps to Independece? I know I'm super guilty of that. Did you respond to or engage with the undesired behavior? Are you speaking respectfully and positively? Does the student have good-fit books? What is most important here is being honest with ourselves.

2. Extra Support - The sisters suggest having students practice during recess. I question this because students see losing recess as a punishment and I don't like the idea of "punishing" students just because they need extra support. Is that just me? How do you feel about this?

3. In-Class Modifications - There are a lot of tips/tricks outlined here for in-class modifications. Some examples are marking off special office areas, providing tactile manipulatives for students to take mini brain breaks during Daily 5 and providing timers for students to be in charge of their reading and breaks. I will definitely refer back to these strategies this upcoming year.

4. Gradual Release of In-Class Modifications - Here is where you ween children off of using these supports. A great way to do this is by providing quick check ins between conferences/guided reading. I have 2 concerns with this. 1). Wouldn't that be interacting with them when they are supposed to be independent? 2). The sisters mention having this check in be on the way to your next group or conference. I don't move for that. Students come to me at the start of the Daily 5 block and then we switch after each mini-lesson. 

Guest Teachers
Have Daily 5 outlined in your lesson plans for guest teachers to ensure Daily 5 goes smoothly. The great thing that I have found is that the structure and routine is so engrained that the students don't even need any direction! They are so independent and help the guest teacher! 

New Students
Now I have to be honest, I am the worst when it comes to new students. And by that I mean, I don't take it as an opportunity to revisit expectations. Like the book states, getting a new student is rattling and I definitely fall victim to that feeling. In the future I will take that opportunity because we can always use a good review!

I also really really liked the idea of a Daily 5 helper! I might even use a barometer student for this position to give them confidence and allow them to be the "expert" on what it should look like and sound like!

The vest is such a cute touch! I will definitely be on the look out for a vest for my Daily 5 helper, so if you know where to get one let me know!

I thought it was interesting that the sisters mentioned how teaching is one of the only professions where people have an idea of what it should look like. Everyone went to school. It can be hard for parents to adjust to a new way of learning. It is important to fill them in (like Craig David). Anyone? No?

Help parents understand what their child is doing at school! A letter the first week of school or at back to school night would do the trick! 

The biggest takeaways I had from The Daily 5: 2nd Edition is that students will rise to our high expectations if we set them and trust them to do so! Change comes slowly, we have to be patient and provide appropriate supports along the way! And for my finally takeaway I leave you with this…

"Independence is synonymous with accountability."
 - Maragaret Mooney

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

A Sneak Peek at my Erin Condren Planner! :)

Just like many of you I have been ogling these Erin Condren planners for years! But as I anxiously awaited landing a permanent position (no more temporary) I just couldn't justify buying one. Due to the poor educational climate here in Oregon, landing a permanent position has been rough. I've been in temporary positions for the last 2 years so with every June came the uncertainty of the next school year. 

When I got the call on the last day of school that I had gotten the permanent (albeit probational) position  I was ecstatic! And you better believe that the first thing I did was run home and buy my lovely EC planner! *swoon*

I'm going to be honest, I had preemptively designed my dream planner and it had been sitting in my cart for weeks!

Now I don't know about any of you, but once I bought the planner I wanted it right away! I was just too excited I couldn't handle it! I stalked my UPS tracker for what felt like weeks for this bad boy to finally show up!  And when it did, I was like a little kid on Christmas morning. Actually, I was just like myself on Christmas morning! I love me some holidays!

Isn't it Uh-maz-ing!? I loved how much personalization I was able to add! And I love the way it looks!

Many of you have been asking if these planners are worth it, so I am going to give you a peek inside my planner and share some of my initial thoughts! 

The first thing I noticed as I opened up my new planner (besides the fact that the tissue paper was purple, definitely meant to be!) was how hefty this thing was! I don't really know what I was expecting, but it definitely was more substantial than I thought! I was very happy! I immediately started flipping through the pages to see what it was all about!

Here's a breakdown of what's in it!
Cover Page - The very first page is a cute little cover page. It also has an inspirational quote on it! 
The beautiful thing about learning is that no one can take it away from you.
Little quotes like this are all throughout the planner!

All About Me - This is a place to keep track of your personal information in case you ever lose your planner. It also has a section for usernames/passwords/access codes and web resources. I definitely won't be using that section. I can't help but think if it were to get lost, someone would have al of my information! Scary!

Classroom Events & Volunteers - Theres a place to keep a list of your classroom volunteers and their contact information. There isn't a place to put in when they come in, but I think I would just write it next to their name. Theres also a place to keep track of special events and field trips. Although I think it makes more sense to place events within the calendar but maybe that's just me!

Helpful hints for the substitute - This page has some key info for subs: school schedule, who to talk to if they need help, students with special needs. This doesn't really make sense for me. I wouldn't want to leave my entire life/lesson plan book with a sub. I like to have my planner with me at all times! I am super attached to my planners! But if you leave yours at school, I could definitely see how this would be useful!

Holidays & Dates to Remember - Important dates/holidays broken down by month. And also a page to write in birthdays! I also wrote them on the corresponding month within the planner! 

Absent Log - Keeps track of students name, date, reason for absence and if they had a note or not!

Graph - I am not sure how I am going to utilize these pages yet! There are 8 of them!

Year at a Glance - This page is great if you do a lot of thematic units! You can sketch them out into a yearly plan. 

 Months - Each month is laid out for you! Here is where I put in birthdays and my day-to-day plans (appointments, lunch dates, to-dos, etc.)! Each month also has 2 pages for "What's going on in _____" and also 1 pages for any other notes. I'm not sure what I'll use these for yet either, but I'm sure I'll find something!

The only thing I didn't like about this section was that the dates weren't already on the calendar. I had to go write them in myself. Urg!

Lesson plans - This was the section that really sold me! I love love love this section! It is broken down by day and also by subject! It is totally customizable and I can't wait to use it! 

I used to have to create a new template every year for my new schedule and then print off copies! Talk about a hassle! AND I love that it is now in the same place as my planner. No more accidentally leaving my lesson plans at work!

(Yikes, sorry that picture is so blurry! More reason for me to win the Blog Hoppin' photo scavenger hunt haha)

Checklist - Great way to keep track of anything! Papers that need to be returned, homework assignments, permission slips, tests, DRA's, the possibilities are endless! 

Stickers - There are 4 pages of stickers! 2 pages that are pre-labeled and 2 pages that are blank for you to customize!

Misc - There was also 1 pocket page, 1 sheet protector and a few randoms items pictures below. There were some gift tag labels, a business card, a $10 off card and some stickers! 

Back cover - The inside of the back cover has a complete 2014 and 2015 calendar!

So here are my thoughts!

- Combines life planner and lesson planner
- Totally customizable 
- Lesson plans span over a full page no flipping back and forth
- Sturdy 

- There are a lot of pages that I don't think I will actually use. 
- I have no idea what to do with the blank stickers. What do you use them for?
- Kind of bulky and hard to fit in my purse. 
(I had to buy a new purse. Oh darn! Haha)

Overall, I am in love with this planner! It took me weeks before I actually wrote in it because I didn't want to ruin it! I color coordinate my planner to help me keep track of my different responsibilities! I label my highlighters as my key so I never forget what color is what! Yes, I'm a little OCD but I love the way it looks! 

If you're still unsure about getting an Erin Condren planner, there is a great video that gives even more of an inside peek into these planners! You can see the video {here}

I can't wait to see how you all use your planners! There's so much space I don't know what to do with! 

Monday, July 7, 2014

Slow-Cooker Freezer Cooking!

Hey all! 

I have gotten some questions about my freezer cooking, so I thought I would take some time to share my tips/tricks/method to the madness. Well, there's a method, but it's still pretty much madness!

Just a warning, this post is a little on the longer side. But I promise, if you're interested in freezer cooking at all, it's worth it! 

I don't know about you, but I have a really hard time being domestic during the school year. I try to eat healthy, but after a long day of teaching, grading, lesson planning, dealing with parents, etc. I have zero desire to make dinner when I get home. And let's be honest, my husband is less than talented in the kitchen. Not to mention his idea of healthy is putting peppers on a pizza. I'm not even kidding. 

During my first year of teaching I realized that I wasn't eating well and that my wifely duties were slipping so I devised a plan! I scoured the internet for slow-cooker recipes. 
(If you aren't familiar with the term slow-cooker, it just refers to anything you can cook in a crockpot! That confused me at first!)  I  compiled the recipes I wanted to try, went grocery shopping and prepped everything! I even made a weeknight menu. I have to be honest though, my first attempt took forever. But have no fear, you can learn from my mistakes! I have learned some time saving tips and tricks!

Usually, I will do all my prep once a month! You heard right, once a month! It's wonderful to get it all done in one day. Then, I pull out a meal before I leave for work every day, my husband puts it into the crock pot at noon (it's nice having him home to do that, but not necessary!) and by the time I get home, there's a hot meal ready and waiting!

Since it's summer, I'm only doing 14 meals. We go out to eat and BBQ a lot in the summer. 

So here it goes!

Step 1: Gather your recipes! 
I don't need to tell you how amazing Pinterest is. I get a lot of the recipes I use from there. Below is a link to my freezer cooking board if you wanna peek around!

Another great resource that I have found is the book Don't Panic: Dinner's in the Freezer. This book has a lot of great recipes AND the best part is that it gives you the conversions in case you want to double, triple or even multiply a recipe by 6. I don't know what the word would be for that….It's very handy!

I like to switch up my recipes every month. Here are a few of the new recipes I used this time around!

Step 2:  Create a shopping list! 
When putting together your shopping list, don't forget to check for ingredients you already have. I know that sounds obvious, but I can't tell you how many times I've gotten ready to cook and then realized I didn't have enough of a certain ingredient. And it is super frustrating to have to stop in the middle to run to the store! 

Here is my little grocery list that I like to use! It helps (well, it helps me at least) to have my items broken down by the aisle they will be in! You can get the freebie by clicking on it below!

**When you're shopping don't forget containers for your freezer meals**

 Gallon Ziploc bags work best and store flat if you have limited freezer space like I do! I also use a lot of aluminum containers from Dollar Tree!

Step 3: Shop 'til you drop!
Hopefully not literally! Having your list outlined helps to make the trip quick and painless!

Step 4: Prep

Make sure your counters are clean and clear. This process tends to take up a lot of space!

Gather all of your ingredients on the counter to make the process go by quicker! That way I don't have to dig around for stuff once I get into full on bag stuffin' mode!

 Here are all my grocery store items! I forgot to take a photo after I pulled out the stuff I already had at home!

When I first started freezer cooking I tried to do one recipe at a time. And let me tell you, it took much longer than necessary. You have to clean cutting boards between items and it becomes a hassle! Now, I look for ingredients that are similar among recipes to prep all at once! Typically that will be your onions, peppers and meats!

 Get the meat going first. (note: most meats don't need to be pre-cooked but there are a few I like to pre-cook to save time the day of). If your recipe calls for ground beef or shredded chicken, those are the meats I would pre cook! 

While the meat is cooking, you can start dicing the veggies! 

Also make sure you get out your Ziplocs and a Sharpie to write with!

Step 5: Label bags
Most ingredients can be frozen but there are a few things that don't freeze well and need to be added the day of! Here are some of the no-no's for freezing:
- potatoes
- cheeses
- sour cream
- yogurt
- lettuce

**Most recipes will tell you what can freeze and what to add the day of**

On my bags I write the name of the recipe (obvs) and then anything that needs to be added the day of. I will also write what to serve it with (ex. if it is to be served over rice).

**You can freeze the water/milk in recipes, but I like to add it the day of! It's just a personal preference, it doesn't impact the outcome of the recipe!**

Step 6: Throw stuff in bags!
Yes, it is as fun as it sounds! It doesn't have to be pretty, in fact, the more mixed up the better! Here is where you can do one recipe at a time! All the ingredients that needed to be pre-prepped are ready to grab and go. Just throw it all in!

Lay bag flat and squeeze out as much air as possible. And voila! Done!

Now just repeat with each recipe!

**Another note, since it is just myself and my husband I get a lot more out of 1 recipe. Sometimes I can get 3 even 4 meals out of 1 recipe!**

Step 7: Enjoy!
Now you're done and don't' have to worry about dinner for awhile! Enjoy a glass of wine, or whatever beverage you like, and have your spouse do the clean up. Fair is fair, I think.

I hope that was at least mildy helpful! If you have any questions let me know! 

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Daily 5 Book Study {Chapter 8}

I hope everyone had an amazing 4th! My family always does 4th of July up big! We watched a parade, had biscuits and gravy, played invisible baseball, messy twister, lip sync battles and more food than we knew what to do with! It is an all day event and boy am I tired. 

Here are just a few photos from the day! Messy twister was by far the best part! So much fun. Although, the paint isn't fully washing off so I look part Smurf! Worth it. 

Now on to the book study! 

Math Daily 3!
Yep, that's a thing now. 

Math by Myself
Math Writing
Math with Somone

I have to be honest, I am super anxious to teach math again. This past year, I was assigned as a 1st grade reading teacher so I haven't taught math in a looooong time. That being said, I don't have resources/photos to share of how I set up math in my classroom. 

I was excited to read this chapter! I was hoping it would help to give me a sense of direction for my math instruction this year. 

In the past, I have felt that by following the given math curriculum, the whole group instruction was way too long and the independent practice time was spent running around answering questions with the intention of pulling a small group. Key word being intention. By the time I was ready to pull a group, time was up. My students were not independent with the math games/choices. That is a problem. 

As I was reading about the Daily 3 math structure I couldn't help but notice how time consuming it seemed. Having to rework each lesson from the math curriculum to fit into 3 mini lessons. I'm sure it gets easier, but I would be lying if I said I wasn't a teensy bit apprehensive. 

Focus lessons
Focus lesson 1: Introduce the concept using modeling and think alouds  "I do"
Focus lesson 2: Guided practice "We do"
Focus lesson 3: Word problem the reflects the concept (can be independent or with a buddy) "You do"

I totally wrote "I do", "we do" and "you do" next to each focus lesson in my notes thinking I was super clever, thinking outside the box and making connections. I wrote it in my notes like I was going to share it with all of you and blow your minds. You would think "Wow! She is really smart" and then I realized they outlined it that way in the sample lesson. Fail.  

 I really liked the way the sister's break down the focus lessons into more manageable chunks. I definitely will use that when planning out my math block. I'm not sure I will use the choices for Daily 3 though. That may be too much for me right now. 

**Do any of you currently use the Daily 3 math in some form or another?** 

This chapter really got me looking into ways to organize my math tools! I scoured the internet and it's official. I need a tool-kit. That's it. End of story. Need one now.

I suppose I have a lot of thinking (and organizing) to still do before the next year starts. I would love any helpful tips! 

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

July Currently!

What!? July!? How did that happen? It is time to link up with the adorable Farley over at Oh' Boy 4th Grade. I swear, without her, I wouldn't know what month it was. Summer. Amiright!?

Listening: Friends marathon. Enough said. Good-bye productivity.

Loving: I can't wait to dig into my new Erin Condren planner. I just need to figure out where I put my grading pens…Apparently my husband knows where they are, but he's holding that information captive for the time being. I'll find a way to get it out of him. But once I find them, you better believe I'm gonna blog all about it!

Thinking: I can't believe it is already July and I've only added 3 things to my TPT store. For shame. I am hoping to remedy that this month. Although that's what I said last month...

Wanting: I love crepes. That is all. Crepes for days.

Needing: Really really really needing some good news on the baby front. Thank you all for the positive thoughts! We are in the 2 week wait. Longest 2 weeks of my life. 

4th plans: Every year my family hosts a huge BBQ. It lasts all day long! Parade in the a.m. followed by biscuits and gravy! Then we play invisible baseball, have water balloon fights, play messy twister and have lip sync battles. As always there will be ribs. Oh so many ribs. All up in my belly. Fireworks and any other shenanigans we come up with! It is always so much fun! I can't wait. I look forward to this every year. 

Plus, you know I go crazy with my thematic party planning. I will post all kinds of red, white and blue photos along the way! 

Now I need to find something to eat before I die. Like seriously, die. Can't wait to read all of your currentlys! Yes, I just made that a word. Spell check is not a fan.

Have a fabulous night! I hope it isn't as hot where you are as it is here. This is unheard of in Oregon. For a second I thought I might have been in Vegas…wishful thinking. So sad to be missing that!