Friday, July 26, 2013


It's been a year since I've started this blogging adventure and everyone has been so kind!
Compliments from "You're a natural blogger" to "You're my favorite foul-mouthed teacher" to "What a great idea, thanks!" are what keeps me going!

What better way to celebrate than a Giveaway?!
I'm giving away a few of my favorite teachery things...(it'll be a mystery box filled with goodness-you won't be disappointed!)...
OR One $10 Gift Card to Target!
So that's TWO winners (sorry, US peeps only)!
Winners will be chosen in one week!

Just complete the two Rafflecopters to enter to win!
Good luck!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Wednesday, July 24, 2013

What I'm Loving, What I'm Reading, Birthday Certificates

I can not believe I have to go into work in a week to start setting up my classroom!
We have open house on the is still on summer hours so it's closed every Friday...Since it's still on summer hours...they close up the building at 3.
I have so much to do. I mean, it'll get done and all, but I'm getting a little nervous.

With that said...I'm linking up with Covered in Glitter and Glue for What I'm Loving Wednesday.
One thing I'm loving this week is the hike we took today at Starved Rock. You may have seen my Instagram or FB or Twitter and see my post about hiking over 6 miles and we saw about 4 canyons. It was GORGEOUS out! Perfect day! Here's a few pics...
Look how tiny they look in this canyon!
Pretty waterfall and girls are exploring.

Another thing I'm loving is the weather. I LOVE HOT, but this cooling off has been nice too! I'm actually sitting here with windows open in sweats and a hoodie. Earlier today, I took my daughter to Poms Practice from 6-8, then hubby decides to let my 3 girls invite whoever they'd like over for s'mores.  Just getting was fun though.
Everyone was a sticky mess and the gorgeous evening turned out to be full of giggles and roars of laughter.
Making s'mores with friends.

I'm also enjoying a new release CD...Fight or Flight. shhhhh, i really don't like heavy metal.... BUT I do like some great rock...and Fight or Flight has some great rock! 
I looooooove Chandler's voice, Donegan's guitar, and Wengren's drums...I may or may not personally know one of the guys!
Super exciting right?  Well, give the CD a listen...I like it and not because I know one of them (cuz i wasn't a huge fan of the previous HUGE band which was more metally and screamy-like). 
I just like it and I've been listening non-stop.

NOW on to a linky with 3rd Grade Thoughts...What I'm Reading...
(OMG, IT'S NOT A LINKY!!!! When I went to link's NOT a linky..LOL! Well, I'll give a quick review anyway!!!!)
I've been reading lots of books this summer...pleasure and work...
I've read Teach Like A Pirate...(loved)...STEM Lesson Essentials by Vasquez, Sneider, Comer (still reading and giving me lots to think about)... and 
Notice and Note Strategies for Close Reading by Beers and Probst

This book is realistic and makes sense. 
Beers and Probst walk you through The Questions they Pondered...
Here are some of the questions they pose...
Is reading still reading?
What is the role of Fiction?
Where does Rigor fit?...
What is Close Reading?
Must Everyone read the same book?

They found there to be Notice and Note Signposts. The dig deep into six signposts...
Contrasts and Contradictions
Aha Moments
Tough Questions
Words of the Wiser
Again and Again
Memory Moment

What I love about this book is it thoroughly explains the six signposts, gives real classroom examples, thoughts to ponder, lesson plans, and graphic organizers.
Between this book and the seminar I attended by Tim Shanahan I feel more comfortable with teaching close reading and have a better understanding of close reading. 

Not only have I been reading lots, I've been creating some things for my classroom. As you may know, I'm doing my Rock Star theme again. I LOVE it! I still give out birthday certificates complete with name filled out, to the birthday boy or girl...and a little gift to go with it. I'm big on birthdays. They are special. I will start putting together my gifts soon...I've posted what I do for gifts here
Until then here's what I created for my birthday certificates...they are available on TPT.

And as I get ready to publish this post....I GOT AN EMAIL! 
I received my Back to School Blogger Exchange PERSON!!!!! 
SO EXCITED! I hope I can deliver something the person will LOVE...
I wonder who has ME?!?!?! I wonder if I gave my real name???? 

Sunday, July 21, 2013

10 Things I learned Linky and a FREEBIE!

Annnnnnd relax... whew.
8th grade graduation party done and fun! Huge success!
Last person left the house at 11:30 and we all had a blast! So glad it's over now.
I've been pretty lazy today. I feel like I have a hangover and I didn't have one drop of alcohol.

I'm linking up with Miss Kindergarten's Linky- 10 Things I've Learned from Teaching...
Every year I learn something new about teaching, about myself, about others...

1. Don't take things too seriously. Of course teaching is a serious thing! The future depends on us... but laugh and have fun! I learned this years ago when I was being too hard on myself and I was losing myself as a person and a teacher. I make it my mantra to laugh everyday! Find laughter in something no matter how bad or sad the day is.

2. I've learned to be empathetic...Sure I've been understanding...but I've really learned to listen to students, parents, other teachers...and truly see where they are coming from.

3. I've learned that my colleagues watch my face during meetings!!!! My face shows everything... ALWAYS has! I've always been known to have a million facial expressions. A couple years ago, a good friend said she watched my face in meetings! OMG. She said she could tell what I'm thinking about a topic by my face! DO YOU KNOW HOW MUCH I'VE WORKED ON TRYING TO HAVE A POKER FACE?!?!?! FAIL. Now I just embrace it and try to be aware.

4. I learned to separate work and home...for the most part... I always have had to rush out the door after school to get home to my own kids. With my husband's work schedule and kids' activities, I gotta get home. I USED TO get home, attend to my kids...kinda...grade papers...and do other house stuff. I found myself ignoring my own children. NOW I still rush out of the door (kids' activities get worse as they get older) and I REALLY pay attention to my children. Grading and projects get done after they go to bed...I usually start grading or whatever at about 9. It's not too bad. 

5. I stay professional. I do not encourage any parents to call me by my first name and I don't befriend them during the school year. I do not call parents by their first names. Yes, I keep a professional wall up. AFTER the school year and that child has left...I might develop  or allow a friendship with a parent. I do not have parents as Facebook friends. I have a friend and when one daughter was in my class it was Mrs. xxxx...when the child moved on to 4th grade it was First Name...then I had another daughter and we were back to Mrs. xxxx. It IS possible to be friendly and professional.

6. Keep up with professional development. I consider myself good with keeping up with trends and what's best for the classroom. Now, I don't adopt every trend, but I am informed. I read lots and love trying new things in the classroom.

7. Keep it REAL. I love to bring real life into the classroom and the classroom into real life. I believe in life lessons... if we study a tree...I bring in a tree trunk or we collect leaves and research... I bring in real worms... We read stories, we share personal stories.

8. I learned that it's OK to get off topic! Kids have a story for everything and I've learned to embrace and long as it fits the lesson. Some of my best lessons evolved into something else or something even more great from a student's story.

9. I learned that I can turn my swearing on and off. HAHA. I have the worst mouth. I know, I know! It's horrible. I swear soooo badly. In front of my children... I NEVER swore in front of a student or parent. Now, in the Teacher's Lounge...Cuss On... game on. I apologize to any newbies up front... I still don't swear in front of my own parents even though my siblings do! I can turn that sh** on and off. Someone once referred to me as their "favorite foul-mouthed teacher".  HAHA. 

10. I LOVE MY JOB. I REALLY do! REALLY.  It's not always a cakewalk. There are times I've hit a LOW and contemplated leaving the profession...but teaching is who I am...I am determined to make a difference. I'm determined to help. I'm determined to turn all students into lovers of learning. I'm determined to let my voice be heard in what's best for students and teachers! 

Well, now that I'm on a roll, I could keep going about things I've learned over 15+ years! But I will force myself to stop...for now.

NEXT up! Farley is hosting a $100 giveaway to spend at School Outfitters! Can you imagine a $100 shopping spree to a teacher store?!?!?!? I hope I win, I hope I win... Give yourself a chance and enter!

I created these bookmarks that I will have ready for my students...either at open house (before school starts) or on the first day of school. I LOVE them.
Enjoy! If you download them from my TPT Store...please leave me some love AND FOLLOW me!

If you are here on my page, please follow my Google and Bloglovin!

This week is my year...

So keep your eyes peeled for a giveaway!


Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Sharp Students Activity, Building Thinking Skills, Rock Star Themed Desk Plates, and STOP SHOPPING!

Busy? What's that?
I had a FREAK OUT on the way to my district's professional development yesterday...
It's MID-JULY, so that means that summer is almost OVER. I only have a short time left of what I call summer before heading back into my classroom to set up.
I've noticed on other blogs and Instagram that teachers go in all summer and set up.
NOT ME...not that I can anyway (and I'm glad I can't)...we aren't allowed into our rooms until the beginning of August no matter our start day.

I have not gotten things done that I've wanted to get done...I'm getting there S.L.O.W.L.Y.
I just dropped off 3 bags of clothing and blankets to charity, so that's good. We are having Big-Kid's 8th grade graduation party on Saturday...yeah, I'm not ready for that.

I've been terrible! I start one thing...stop, do another...go back to said thing...stop, start a different project...take a nap... I'm just all over the place.

A first-week-of-school craftivity-if you want to call it a bulletin board I have the students help me with... I call it "Sharp Students".
We talk about what it means to be "sharp" at something and that EVERYONE is "sharp" at SOMETHING.
Then students write a sloppy copy sentence in their notebook... I give them a pencil to write on and color...and bulletin board done that focusses on what we are all good at! It can be something related to school or doesn't matter to me.

Here's a sample of a few I had my daughters make. 
You can download a free copy of the pencil outlines at my TPT Store here
Please leave me some love there.

I also posted my Building Thinking Skills poster I created and the graphic organizer to go with it...
You can read a little about it here. And you can download it, for a small price, here.

I wanted some new desk plates for the kids' desks. I loved the ones I made last year, but just wanted something a little different, so I created some today using Melonheadz Graphics. You can pick up a set for a small price by clicking on the sizes. I made two sets. The first set I made was too small because I write out first and last names in cursive (our 3rd graders still learn cursive handwriting)...
So one set is size 3.5 x 8.5 and the other set is 3.5 x 11.
They both have the same designs. Hope they work for you!

I am really enjoying Instagram! You can follow me here. I get some great ideas, get to know other bloggers and an insight to their personal life, lots of laughs, and not-helping-my-school-shopping-habit!
I mean, REALLY. These ladies shop and inspire and lead you to some GREAT deals! I've got a couple piles going at home (and yes, I posted some pics too).
After seeing LOTS of awesome pics, I felt compelled to make a little note...
HAHAHA! 21 likes (so far) and some people left me a message about how they agree with all my #hashtags. Cracking up about it.


Sunday, July 14, 2013

BTS Blogger Exchange, Freebie, and ANOTHER PET in my house!

Have you joined the Back to School Blogger Exchange?! I did!
And I'm so excited about it! I LOVE little surprises!
That's one reason I'm a subscriber to Birchbox...I get a box of surprise goodies each month!
You can join at Adventures of Ms. Smith or Covered in Glitter and Glue.
Be sure to join by JULY 21st.
Click on the pic and it'll take you right to the page!
I'm sooo looking forward to this!

NEXT up...I already told you a little about my Professional Development and Jim Curry's visit here.
Something else Mr. Curry discussed was Student Assessment.
Students give their own critique of their work. You can use this on anything.
You ask the student:
LB-what do you like best about your work?
NT-what will you do next time?
GB-what ways did you go beyond?

I find this useful...Once the ground is established, this will serve as a quick self assessment and can be applied to any assignment or group assignment. I can even see myself giving a grade for the grade book with this!

Here's a little freebie that I will be posting in my classroom as a visual.
You can click on the picture and it will take you to my TPT store to download for free. Please leave your positive feedback and don't forget to follow!
Thank you!

AND I TOOK IN ANOTHER PET!!! Today, we picked up JJ. He's a Bearded Dragon who will stay in Big-Kid's room. He's pretty cool and so fun to watch eat crickets! He knows when the cage opens and you have a black tube, there are crickets in there and JJ stands on his hind legs, sticks his tongue out and waits for you to drop them! So fun! 
Meet JJ...
Sorry for the poor color...His sand is actually orangy and the whole pic turned out orangy...
And there you have it!
Tomorrow I have to go to work (boo-hoo), but the Professional Development is Tim Shanahan (Woo-hoo)!  I'm pretty excited about this PD too! 


Saturday, July 13, 2013

Saturday Snapshots July 13

I'm joining Run! Miss Nelson's Got the Camera for her Saturday Snapshots Linky!
So Fun!

Here's my week in review!

It was the LAST GAME for softball of the season for Big Kid! Woo Hoo! I will miss seeing the other parents...
We took 3rd place in the league...not-too-shabby.

We went to Little Kid's softball picnic...

Shopped at Target...found some teachery deals... The "boom box" erasers will go in the birthday gifts for my students...Click here to see what I make for the kids' bdays...
Last week we went to a fest and Mid-Kid got called to the stage to help with a magic trick. He made her float in midair! 

We had awesome Professional Development at work too! Here's a picture of Jim Curry talking to us about The Curriculum Project...I wrote about it in this post here.

I ordered this adorable bag from LTD Commodities... It's a cheap thingy and I'm not sure what I'm going to use it for...but it satisfies my Skull fascination...and I just LOVE it!

Last night Mid-Kid had her friend sleep over for her birthday... (her birthday was in April-yes, April).
They all put on glow necklaces and bracelets and ran around outside in the pitch black. I was quite amused! Then Big-Kid and her friend went up in the playhouse and made their glow jewelry into a talking face! I was cracking up! Here's a not-so-great-but-awesome-photo...Kinda looks like Cookie Monster! One kid held the eyes and the other made the mouth talk.

Here's a link to my Math CC Vocab cards!
It was a FANTASTIC week (and summer is flying by)!

It was a fantastic week! Photobucket

Friday, July 12, 2013

The Curriculum Project's Mr. Curry and Common Core Math Vocab!

Well, HELLO! I've been noticeably absent in the blogging world! 
I've been quite visible on Instagram!
My school district has been hosting some Summer Learning opportunities for staff! AND I LOVE IT!

Yes, nerd alert...
Not only do I get to attend some seminars/workshops/presentations at no cost out of my pocket...but I even get a stipend!!! How great is that?! AND we get Professional Development credit!

This week I attended a presentation of The Curriculum Project by Jim Curry.
IT WAS FABULOUS! He was so funny and I loved his stories. And seriously the kindest man who TRULY wants to help teachers! (I highly recommend him for in-services)
So, what'd I take away from these 5+ hours?
For one, I am doing a lot of things right! I didn't realize that much of what I do is spot on-but not labeled or I'm not using the correct terminology...

I appreciated the way Mr. Curry walked us through step by step on writing Learning Objectives. Sure, I learned this stuff in college... but not the way Mr. Curry presented it!
This is Mr. Curry, passionately talking about curriculum.

Is it the content you want as most important? The outcome/product? The thinking skill?
I never looked at writing objectives that way. To me it was always....The students will (do this)...blah, blah, blah. Depending on what YOUR goal is for the students, that's how you write the objective.

Here are some of my examples that I wrote during our practice time (don't be too judgy on mine-I was writing quickly and it IS summer after all)...

Content important: In their study of plants, the students will be able to hypothesize if a seed needs light to germinate and to show what they have learned through an experiment.

Thinking Skills important: The students will decide the significance of character Ruby's copying in their study of Ruby the Copycat as demonstrated through small group discussion.

Product important: The students will develop a newscast in their study of The Babe and I to demonstrate their ability to compare and contrast The Great Depression to today OR explain why a dime is significant during The Great Depression in the story.

Identify the Resource: In their study of geometric shapes, the students will use manipulatives and graphic organizer in order to identify and categorize shapes through discussion.

I asked him how often one would write a Learning Objective like the 4 outlines he presented...and he just said "as needed or as you see fit".
(because in my mind...i was thinking---OMG HOW am i going to write one of these for each subject, each day, each topic/skill in a subject-aaarrrrggghhh)...

I think my personal goal will be to have one strong Learning Objective as he presented per day...for now... it's definitely a way to think deeper about my teaching and student learning!

Another idea I'm taking from Mr. Curry is a Thinking Skills Poster and activity.
I am creating a Thinking Skills Poster for my classroom with examples.

The poster will look something like this...
K-I know it's a towel
C-I understand it is made from the cotton plant
A-I use it to dry off
A-I can compare different types, brands, etc.
S-I can create a talking towel
E-I judge what kind of towel is best

Students can create their own Thinking Skills boxes about different items in a workstation in class!

In future blogposts, I will address Student Self Assessment in an easy-for-the-teacher-but-effective way...and an alternative to KWL charts (which I'm horrible at keeping up with). Two other great ideas from Mr. Curry!

I FINALLY finished the Common Core Math Vocab cards! WOO HOO! This task took me 
There are 107 words for math. You can find this for a GREAT deal at my TPT store! Just click on the photo below and it'll take you straight to the product!