Sunday, October 12, 2014

And the Liebster Award Goes To...

I was nominated for this sweet award by Heather over at Recipe for Teaching weeks ago. 2 and a half weeks ago to be exact. Yup. I'm the worst. 

Apparently the Liebster Award was designed to help recognize new teacher bloggers with fewer than 250 followers. Liebster also means dearest, favorite or beloved! Am I blushing?

I have to be honest, I had heard of this adorable blog before, but I hadn't really explored stalked it until this week! She has some really great resources! I especially looooove her math QR codes.

I definitely need to get on the QR code bandwagon! Luckily she has a really simple to follow tutorial for me :)

Recipe for Teaching

So here goes, the rules for the Liebster Award:
1. Link back to the blog that nominated you.
2. Nominate 5-11 blogs with fewer than 250 followers.
3. Answer the questions posted for you by your nominator.
4. Share 11 random facts about yourself. 
5. Create 11 questions for your nominees.
6. Contact your nominees by commenting on their blog or sending them an email to communicate the nomination.

Here are the Questions I was given by Heather :)

How long have you been teaching? 
This is officially my 3rd year teaching! Although it feels much longer. I was lucky enough to have 3 years of student teaching between my bachelors and masters programs so I have been "teaching" for 6 years! And that's not counting the 5 years of teaching preschool during my teacher prep programs. 

 What is your favorite subject to teach?
I absolutely LOVE teaching reading. That is one of the reasons I love 1st grade so much! Students make so much progress during 1st grade and it is really exciting to be a part of that.  

What are 3 things you would say describe you?
Organized (maybe a tad OCD), motivated and funny! Or at least I like to think so!

What is the best thing about teaching, in your opinion?
For me the best thing about teaching is being able to provide that "safe place" for students. Having been in several Title I schools, there is a lot of chaos/drama at home and I love being able to provide that sense of stability for my students.

If you weren't a teacher, what other career would you have?
I'm pretty sure I would be a party planner! I love to plan elaborate parties. 

What is your favorite children's book? 
This is such a tough question! I would probably say any and all Kevin Henkes books! They are adorable!

What is your favorite movie?
Magic Mike. Don't judge. 

No but seriously, I have so many favorite movies. Pretty much any comedy, chick flick or movie with Channing Tatum is A-OK in my book!

What are your hobbies?
I love to run/weight train! I also really enjoy baking (although I don't eat sweets), organizing and crafting. 

Where is the best place you've ever traveled?
I haven't traveled much (yet). In the last few years my husband and I have just started traveling and it has been so exciting! Our first trip I was THAT person in the airport that asked a million questions because I didn't know what to do. But don't worry, I'm a pro now. I think the best place we've been to so far was Hawaii for our belated honeymoon. It was so relaxing and beautiful. 

What is your favorite food?
I looooooove fruit. And salt. But typically not together. 

What is your favorite quote?
Right now my favorite quote is "Don't let your struggle become your identity."

And now for the fun part! 11 random facts about me!

1. I think I am a rapper and also a broadway musical star.
2. I wear children's shoes and clothes (well, not pants because I got hips for days).
3. I have a slight shoe obsession. And by slight, I mean my shoes have their own closet.
4. I want to own all the kittens in the entire world. All of them.
5. I am a die hard 49ers fan. Enough said.
6. I often mix words or phrases together and make new sayings. Yesterday I said "Omitting my eyes" (omitting from memory and averting my eyes...) My husband loves to make fun of these. He writes them down in a book. I expect a book signing any day now.
7. I have been trying really really really hard not to start playing Christmas music already #sorrynotsorry
8. Despite my answer to #7, I LOVE fall. I wish it were always fall.
9. I don't read. Well, not for fun. It's always PD books.
10. I haaaaate the "m word" (it rhymes with joist). It literally makes me cringe. My entire family refers to it as the "m word" around me because I will lose it.
11. I am petrified of lawn gnomes. They are terrifying. Spiders I'm fine with. Clowns we're besties. Lawn gnomes...That's my nightmare!

And now my nominees for the Liebster Award! I'm sorry if you've already been nominated!

Megan over at A New Box of Crayons! She is so freaking adorable and funny.

A New Box of Crayons

Marcy from Searching for Teacher Balance! She has been blogging for awhile but I was SHOCKED when I saw how few people actually follow her on Bloglovin. Marcy is a friend of mine who teaches in the same district! We had a chance to meet this summer and found out that we actually have a few friends in common! Her blog is full of great ideas!

Searching for Teacher Balance

Yari over at Sweet Tooth Teaching! First of all, her name is freaking adorable (both blog and her actual name) but she also has some great ideas! I love that our classroom decor is almost identical. Great minds think alike :)

Uh-oh! Her button doesn't work! You'll have to go click on her name to check her blog out. It's definitely worth it!

That was all the nominations I had! Everyone else already had over 250 followers or were already nominated by Heather! It looks like I'm going to have to go blog snooping to find some new blogs to follow! :)

Here are my questions for you!

1.  How long have you been teaching? 
2.  What is your favorite subject to teach?
3.  What are 3 things you would say describe you?
4.  What is the best thing about teaching, in your opinion?
5.  If you weren't a teacher, what other career would you have?
6.  What is your drink of choice?
7.  What kind of music do you like?
8.  What are your hobbies?
9.  Where is the best place you've ever traveled?
 10.  What is your favorite food?
11.  Morning or night person?

Have fun! 

Monday, October 6, 2014

October! October! October!

October! October! October! 

Can you tell I'm just a tad excited!? Anyone who knows me, knows that I am cuh-ray-zee about fall! I love everything about it. Seriously, everything. 

I was so excited in fact, that I forgot to do my currently until October 6th! For shame. "Better late than never, but never late is better" or at least that's what Drake told me.

I had every intention of getting to it this weekend but I was just too busy soaking up all the fall fun! Saturday I went to the pumpkin patch and Sunday was the annual casserole bake! Now I have all kinds of delicious fall casseroles just chillin' (literally in this case) in my freezer for easy weeknight dinners! 

But now, back to the fabulous currently that Farley over at Oh' Boy 4th Grade sets up every month. She is seriously my favorite! And this currently design is to die for! If you've never checked out her blog you totally should! Her personality is infectious!

And now for my currently! 

Listening: So a friend of mine recently recommended the show Scandal to me. I was a little skeptical at first but she assured me that it was sooooo good. So I decided to watch a few episodes (and by that I mean I binged watched an entire season one Saturday) and I have to say I am hooked! How did I not know about this before!? It makes me wonder what else I am missing out on. 

Loving: I don't think this needs any explanation! I went to Target this weekend and bought everything pumpkin. Literally, everything. My husband just laughed at me. I swear I'm not addicted. I can stop anytime I want. 

Thinking: I should really go make dinner. But Scandal. 

Wanting: It has been so freaking hot here lately. Like unnaturally hot for Oregon. I am not a fan of this. I went to the pumpkin patch on Saturday and it was 83 degrees. I was sweating while picking a pumpkin. Sweating. Not okay. 

Needing: I attempted to be super productive this past weekend. I managed to get 2 loads of laundry done amidst all the fall fun, but they are still unfolded....Oops. 

Book: I wasn't sure if this was supposed to be a book for kids or for myself, but I have been dying to read Gone Girl. I just can't decide if I should read it before or after I see the movie!

OH! And I somehow I managed to create a new product this weekend! Look at me go! 

Gotta make up for that entire month I didn't do anything, right!?

 Reading strategy posters to fit my classroom decor! Simple but effective!

I hope you have a fabulous fall! I'm off to actually make dinner! Homemade chili and cornbread with a cup of hot cocoa! That's my kind of night! 

Sunday, September 28, 2014

The Post That Took 3 Weeks to Write...Trying Out a New Writing Structure


These first few weeks of school have been a whirlwind! I know that every teacher feels that way at the beginning of the year, but this year has been especially hectic for me! If you follow me on Instagram or Twitter you may have heard about the unfortunate series of events within the first 3 weeks of school.

Day 1: Toilets flooded
Day 2: Power outage
Day 6: Lock in (A real one. Not a drill. Terrifying.)
Day 12-13: Emergency sub
à My husband’s grandfather passed away early Sunday Morning so we are making an emergency flight out to OKC for the services (9/19). (I started this post from the plane!) And as if having a last minute sub so early in the year wasn’t hectic enough, I am also in a wedding back in OR at the coast on Saturday (9/20). I will have to get wedding photo ready on the flight home. You best believe I will be rocking curlers on the plane.

******************************Okay, breathe******************************

Aside from all of that I am loving my new school and of course my kiddos! I have a few behavior issues (who doesn’t) but overall I have a fabulous class. I have been so impressed with them so far and can’t wait to see how far they go this year!

One of my personal goals this year is to improve my writing instruction. I have a really solid persuasive writing unit that I loooooove to teach, but the rest of my writing plans are unorganized random blah. A colleague of mine is involved in a writing training around the book Projecting Possibilities for Writers by Matt Glover & Mary Alice Berry. They focus on projecting units rather than planning units. The emphasis being on leaving room for adjustments in case things do not go exactly as planned. Which let’s be honest, is often in the classroom!

If you are interested you can get your copy by clicking the image below!

Now that I have read the book I am going to give it a whirl! You can find the planning template here! If you're like me and you like having a digital copy that you can type into, I typed one up on GoogleDrive. Feel free to use it! 

Matt Glover & Mary Alice Berry give a great outline for how planning should go. I was feeling overwhelmed with yet another new thing to try out but luckily there was a template and structure to follow. I am also lucky to have some amazing (and knowledgable) colleagues to help me navigate this new writing structure. Searching for Teacher Balance, I'm talking about you! ;)

Searching for Teacher Balance

Step 1:Decide on and name your unit of study

I don't know about you, but writing is always like pulling teeth in my classroom. Every year my students rush through writing without any motivation or desire. I hear a lot of excuses. But the one that bothers me every. single. time is "I don't know what to write".  How can you not know what to write!? The possibilities are endless! So I am using that as the launching point for my first unit! I want to focus on where writer's get ideas! So that is what my first unit will be called: Where Writer's Get Ideas. No more "I don't know what to write".


Seriously guys, the struggle is real.

Step 2:Collect mentor texts

Now the fun part! Collecting mentor texts! Another colleague of mine showed me this adorable book called Ralph Tells a Story by Abby Hanlon about a little boy who struggles with stories to write. This seemed like the perfect place to start! 

I scoured the internet for other books to help my students generate their own ideas during writing time. It wasn't easy. Trying to figure out the best way to word that search took way longer than it should have. So I posted what I was looking for on Facebook and BAM! Thank goodness for social media! 

The books I chose:
1. Ralph Tells a Story by Abby Hanlon
2. Rocket Writes a Story by Tad Hills
3. The Best Story by Eileen Spinelli (not pictured)
4. Little Red Writing by Joan Holub
5. You Can Write a Story by Lisa Bullard

Step 3: Determine primary and secondary goals

I love setting goals! Is that weird!? I love it because it gives me a chance to step back and really think about my purpose. If I don't know my purpose I find that I lack the passion behind what I am teaching. And how can I expect my students to find what I'm teaching to be meaningful if I can't!?

Primary Goals:
1. Students will be able to generate a variety of different ideas independently during writing time.
2. Students will be able to tell a complete story with beginning, middle and end.
3. Students will increase their stamina for writing.

Secondary Goals:
1. Students will be able to convey a feeling in their writing.
2. With support, students will be able to add supporting details to their writing.
3. Students will draw pictures to support their writing.
3. Students will use appropriate capitals and punctuation.

Step 4: Project possible mini lesson topics

This step was really difficult for me probably because the possibilities are endless! It's a little bit intimidating! What helped me was to read through my mentor texts and look for things that could spark an interesting mini lesson. I also thought about the skills that my students are currently lacking.

1. Finding inspiration
2. Making connections (Text to Self)
3. Writing tools (dictionary, word wall)
4. Asking yourself questions
5. Adding details
6. Using your imagination
7. The writing process
8. Creative language
9. Stamina
10. Revision

Looking at other peoples units of study I noticed they tend to have a lot more mini lessons. That does make me a little bit nervous, but I am hoping the phrase "quality over quantity" applies here?

Step 5: Anticipate and prepare for issues

 I don't even know. The thing that keeps coming to mind is differing levels in ability. 

Step 5: Respond and Reflect

Stay tuned! I am starting this tomorrow! EEK!

Monday, September 1, 2014

It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year...September Currently!

Wow! I had to write that title 3 different times because I kept typing August. Wishful thinking I guess! 

I wish I could say that I've been a tad MIA lately because of something awesome like traveling outside of the country or spending countless hours on my TPT store. But the truth of the matter is, I went back to school last week! And boy oh boy is it tricky moving schools! Tomorrow is the first day with my new kiddos and I am so not ready. Not even close. 

I need to turn my teacher brain back on. Not that it was ever fully off but I'm not in teacher mode quite yet. I'm still in prep mode. 

In an attempt to get back into the swing of things I am linking up with the spunky Farley over at Oh' Boy 4th Grade for September Currently! Eeek! I love these currently's! 

Listening: Okay okay, I'll admit it. I have a problem. I am pretty sure I have been listening to Friends reruns every single time I have done my currently. It's one of my favorites! I'm not even sorry. 

Loving: I woke up this morning like a little kid on Christmas because it is officially September which means fall is here! I am love love loving this fall-esque weather! It's starting to cool down. Football is back. The leaves are changing to all of those beautiful colors. The PSL is back!

Which BTW did you know that you can get it decaf!? (I can't drink caffeine. I get physically ill). I don't know how I didn't know about this before last year. It has changed my world! 

Thinking: Exactly what everyone else is thinking. I am not ready to be back at school quite yet! Enough said. 

Wanting: Wouldn't it be great if our to-do lists could just finish themselves!? That is part of why I am not ready for school to start tomorrow, I still have so much to do! I don't even have all my curriculum/materials yet because of the new school. So stressful! 

Needing: I really need to take a shower. I got a massage this morning and part of it was a scalp massage which means that there are many kinds of massage lotions all up in my hair. And then I ran 3 miles… Luckily I don't sweat/smell! 

3 Trips: This one was so hard for me as I haven't done much traveling at all! You would think that would make it easier to choose 3 places I would like to visit but the choices are endless! I've decided that my top 3 would be Paris (I'm a girl, what can I say?), Germany (the culture/architecture is stunning) and New York (because we didn't get to go this summer)!

Well there's my September Currently! Back to lesson planning, prepping and organizing for tomorrow! Don't forget to go link up your September Currently! I love reading everyones! 

Good luck to everyone who is also starting next week!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Wednesday Made it? Yeah, I'm a Little Late

Oops! I had every intention of getting this post up yesterday Monday but life kinda happened! I am really trying to soak up every last bit of summer before school starts back up! So that's exactly what I have been doing :)

 But that didn't stop me from getting my craft on this past weekend! I am so excited to finally be linking up with 4th Grade Frolics for my first real (of hopefully many) Monday Made Its

I have been working hard on getting my classroom put together! I figured new school, new decor! I may have bit off more than I could chew but I am having fun with all of these crafts! I am excited to see it all come together in my new room next week!
I have had these table caddies for 3 years now. While I will say they are durable as all get out, the colors were driving me crazy and do not fit with my new decor! So I decided to paint them! 

As you can tell these babies have seen some wear and they look nasty! So I had to do some cleaning first! I bought some magic erasers and scrubbed away! I was so impressed with how clean they got! 

Just look at that!

Almost squeaky clean! Almost. Those dang corners are still driving me crazy! But I am still pretty impressed!

My new classroom has a chalkboard so I wanted to play on that with my new decor. I'm using a lot of black/chalkboard prints with bright colors! I think they compliment each other well! Here's how the caddies look now!

Purple, pink, turquoise and lime, oh my! 

I found this really really cute chalkboard sign at Michael's the other day and thought "Hey, I could make that!" 

I found a wooden placard and some chalkboard paint and was ready to go.

I had some left over ribbon from the table caddies but it was too much black to go on the sign so I decided to make my own ribbon! I found some thinner, purple ribbon and layered it onto the black. It helps, but I think I should still prefer some sort of twine! 

Well, that's it! What kinds of crafts have you been working on!?