Sunday, June 30, 2013

Back to School Mentor Text and Instagram!

I'm linking up with the Collaboration Cuties for their Back to School Mentor Text linky! I have to say that great minds think alike because before I posted this I had several books in mind and most of them were already taken by other bloggers! BUT, one of my new favorites from last year hadn't been snatched up yet! 

It's Cloudette by Tom Lichtenheld. It's basically the story of a little cloud who wants to do great big things like all the other big clouds. She gets a little discouraged by her small size, but perseveres until she realizes that maybe she can't make rivers rush, etc. but she CAN make important small differences. 

I teach in a fully inclusive class(almost no pull out services for even my students with high needs), and I really liked the message that some clouds are big, some clouds are small, but they can all make a difference if they try. I use this book (among others) that first week when we're doing goal setting for the year. Sometimes the old "You can be president if you want!" type books get a little tired (don't worry I read those to the kids too though!), and I like that this one is a little more real. Some of my kids need to learn how to read before we worry about the presidency, you know? Let's make it rain on the little frog's pond before we worry about making a rushing waterfall. 

And besides all that the book is just ridiculously cute.

Check out the other great books in the linky! And if you're not already (and most of you aren't!) I'll be your BFF if you follow me on instagram! (My little button is up there in the top right corner!) If you do you'll be privy to all kinds of fun pictures, like this one right here:

This is a card I got at the end of the year. Yes, that child said they would tip me if they could...sigh. PS - my name is pronounced like "writes" but this kid apparently always wanted to pronounce it "Ritz." Weird. 

Saturday, June 29, 2013

July Currently!

Today I'm linking up to Farley's July Currently! It's early, but I'm still probably the 50th one on the list!

Here goes:

Listening: I've probably heard that "Thrift Shop" song 5 times in the last two days, and every single time I hear that 'cha-ching' sound in the middle of the song I get excited...then saddened when I realize it isn't my TpT app going off after all! The song still trips me out though. Thrift Shop was my style back in high school, and I literally wore my grandad's clothes all time! Here is an ancient picture of me in my grandfather's old green leather jacket with yellow piping. Sweet, right?!

Loving: Savannah has this store called The Peanut Shop where you can taste test like a million different flavors of peanuts. Killer B let me visit the shop twice on this trip, and on the second visit I bought myself some delicious dark chocolate covered cashews. I've dedicated myself to only eating a few each day though!

Thinking: Despite being on vacation, my mind is still full of ideas for my new classroom theme, freebies and other TpT items I want to finish and "pretty up," and of course my potentially flooded basement. I've hit the point where I just figure if it flooded, it flooded. Not much I can do about it now!

Wanting: I know it's cliched, but I can hardly believe it's pretty much July and the whole first month of Summer vacation is over. I have a week long workshop at Penn State the first week of August, and then shortly after that I'll need to start working on my classroom and prepping for the new year!

Needing: Yesterday Killer B and I got BURNED. It hurts sooo bad. Just trying to fall asleep last night was a challenge, and this morning I could hardly walk! Aargh, darn sun.

Tip: This is a tip for myself, but figured others might need it too. I need to remember that I don't have to do everything myself. I'm a natural DIY'er, but sometimes what you need is already out there. My new Erin Condren planner (which should be waiting for me at home!), Jivey's units, some classroom decor I just bought, and the pre-made classroom mailboxes I'm planning to buy are all good examples. Sometimes I need to let others do things for me, and then spend more time on the stuff I LIKE to make. 

Enjoy reading all the other fun Currentlies! There should be DAYS of reading there for you!

Friday, June 28, 2013

Five for Friday - Vacation Edition

I'm linking up for a vacation edition of Five for Friday! There's a ton I could write about, but I've limited myself a bit. I'll be back into the full on teacher mode blogging in just a few short days! We wrapping up our vacation on Sunday, but then still spending a week with family in GA before the long drive home to PA.

The transfer from Savannah to Tybee Island has been a good one.  We've already eaten in some of our favorite places, spend some time on the beach, ridden the bikes that came with our little apartment we rented, and enjoyed the hot tub! The other thing we've done is WALK. Then we walked some more, and then when we finished that Killer B wanted to go for a run. Let me tell you, my lovely wife and I have very different attitudes when it comes to vacationing. I want to sit somewhere and enjoy an ocean breeze and cold drink. She apparently is more into 100 degree hikes through salt marshes.

One thing we've been able to agree on though, is where to eat! One of our favorite places is called The Crab Shack, and that is where we were served up this excellent platter of fresh seafood. 

But this platter is nothing compared to the majesty of what came the next day at Coco's...
This is one of the deep fried strawberries we enjoyed for dessert yesterday. These should be illegal. Especially for people who are still trying to lose another 14 pounds this summer!

 It's not all sunshine and deep fried strawberries around here though. Back home my town is flooding! This is a picture from downtown taken yesterday. Our house is prone to having the finished basement flood, and I am almost positive that it has/will flood and then sit for a week and just mildew up a storm. NOT looking forward to driving 14 hours to get home to a mildewy, gross house that will take hours and hours to clean. Sigh. But I've resigned myself to it at this point!

 It's not too late to enter a bunch of the giveaways going on right now (including mine)! I even took some time to pretty up my own little custom matchy-matchy bloglovin' button for my sidebar last night!

My summer reading is coming along nicely! I took some time to read "Teach Like A Pirate" today while sitting on a beach that probably had real pirates on it back in the day! I really like the book so far, I've found it to be really reaffirming of the beliefs and practices I have for my own teaching. One of my favorite quotes so far is "It's not supposed to be easy - it's supposed to be worth it."

I find it super hard to take off my teacher hat and just do other things, but I've kind of done that on this trip. I brought along the novel I'm writing a fun unit for, but haven't worked on it! I have a long list of classroom products and stuff for TpT that I want to do but just haven't had time. It's funny that my vacation is stressing me out because I'm not working!

To make myself feel a little better, I went ahead and got something where someone else had already done all the work for me! These are the three mentor sentences units from Ideas by Jivey, and have weeks of great activities included. All three are on sale through today. 

If you haven't seen these yet, you should check them out! I'm really looking forward to using these next year!

And that's it for now! I'm looking forward to sharing some of the freebies I've been working on (and plan to finish!) next week!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Show us some bloglovin' Giveaway!

It's no secret that Google Reader is going away on July 1st.  Well, Google Reader may be going away, but I don't want YOU to go away, so I hope that you will consider following my blog through bloglovin!   I'm joining other bloggers and doing a giveaway for all of my fabulous followers that take the leap and switch over to bloglovin.  You may have already switched over!  In that case, this will be an easy entry!

If you have not yet switched or are not following my blog through bloglovin, then there are a few easy steps to follow.  You can go to my sidebar and click the button that says Follow this Blog with bloglovin.  Or, you can go into the Rafflecopter below and click the link in the first entry, and that will take you to our blog on bloglovin.

You will need to set up an account with bloglovin so that you can follow us.  Please be sure to leave your bloglovin username in the Rafflecopter entry.

If you want to go ahead and move all of the blogs you follow from Google over, you can go to this link and it will take you through the super easy steps.  BUT, please go to my bloglovin link and make sure that you are following me through bloglovin.  To be sure, make sure that the blue button at the top of my bloglovin page has been clicked (it should be gray with the word following- if it's blue, please click it to follow!)

So, if you follow me by bloglovin, please enter my giveaway!!  I will be picking 2 WINNERS and each winner will get their choice of ANYTHING from my TpT store!
a Rafflecopter giveaway Now, go check out all of the other great giveaways!

get the InLinkz code

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

A Brand New Look, a Vacation, AND a Monday Made it!

So, I'm super excited to reveal my brand new look! Thanks a bunch to Megan from A Bird in Hand Designs! I think it looks great, and definitely has a sense of masculinity to it, but still says "I'm an elementary school teacher."

Some people already stopped by yesterday and saw the change, but I couldn't post (despite my excitement) because right now I'm sitting in a swanky hotel room in the River Street Inn on the Savannah River. 

Killer B CAN smile sometimes!
Savannah is a great city (the most haunted city in America, btw.) It's downtown area is pretty large, and most of the buildings are old and full of character. You can walk, and walk and not see everything. Killer B and I actually might just retire to one of the nearby GA coastal islands one day far, far away. 

We've been to Savannah several times before, and one of our favorite things to do here is letterbox. Letterboxing is a hobby where people hide hand-carved rubber stamps and logbooks in little boxes all over the world...then people go out and find them and stamp their own little hand-carved "sig stamp" into the logbook, and the box stamp into their own book. Then you put everything back for the next person. Lots of people have heard of letterboxing's grandchild, geocaching. This is different because there's no technology involved, just handwritten clues, and letterboxing actually began in England over 200 years ago! 

It's a great way to be crafty, go hiking, and discover new people and places all in one great hobby! Killer B and I have been doing it together since we were dating (over 6 years!) If it sounds interesting to you, check out the main website people use to post clues and record finds,

Anyway, we forgot all of our supplies way up in PA! So my "Monday Made it" is this brand new temporary sig stamp for Killer B and I! I carved it tonight while listening to a street musician playing his sax below our balcony. Cute, right?!

We still have a couple more days here in town, then we'll be moving our vacation out to Tybee Island until Sunday. That'll be a nice change of pace, and the good news is it'll be much easier to stick to my diet out there where all the best food is seafood. The "eh, we're on vacation!" excuse can only work for so long after all!

Anyway, thanks for letting me indulge in some vacation talk! I'll be back soon with some actual teaching related stuff soon! I couldn't resist bring along Teach like a Pirate, and of course my trusty laptop so I can follow all 145 blogs I read. (One thing about bloglovin' makes you realize how bad your addiction is when you do that import from Google reader!)

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Student Motivation - Tunes Tuesday

Hi all! I'm linking up with Head Over Heels for Teaching's Spark Student Motivation linky. This idea actually comes from the Penn State intern I had in my class all year this past year! 

We have a lot of basic grammar skills that my kiddos still struggle with, and while I usually like to address grammar through my writing conferences, we decided to take one mini-lesson a week and devote it to these types of skills. The result was "Tunes Tuesday." On Tuesdays we pick a grammar skill and find a song that has examples of that skill throughout the lyrics. We take song suggestions from the kids. We print out the lyrics and have the kids find and highlight the examples while we project the music video of the song. The kids LOVE Tunes Tuesday and look forward to it every single week. Kids love music and they love highlighting things!

I've found it a simple, but effective way to turn a boring activity (like practicing grammar skills) into something the kids look forward to. And it takes very little time too. Most of the videos are only a few minutes long, and the instructional part of the mini-lesson is usually pretty brief. 

The ONE piece of advice I would give is to preview the videos and read through the lyric carefully. They make a lot of popular songs have "Kids' Bop" type clean versions too though!

Click the picture below for a link to a free, simple set of lyrics for "Eye of the Tiger." A kid actually requested that song, and they all thought the video was hilarious. We used this song to have the kids practice picking out pronouns!
Be sure to check out all the other great ideas in the linky!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Bloglovin' added! Plus a couple giveaways!

For those who don't know, Google Reader is nearly a thing of the past. I'm jumping on board with Bloglovin as a way to keep up with the tons of blogs I read.

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

It's easy to set up and import your blogs if you haven't already! A MUCH better explanation is already given over at I Teach, What's Your Superpower, so head over there to see what it's all about.

It's kind of annoying/worrisome to think that Google Friend Connect will also go away and then we won't have access to our followers anymore. One thing Bloglovin' doesn't have is the ability to see who is following you. I like to see who my new followers are in case they have a blog I'd like to follow! And what will happen with all the fun milestone follower giveaways?!

In other news...

It's official. I'm a big teaching dork. I ordered my copies of 32 Third Graders and Teach Like a Pirate and had them delivered to the address where I'm vacationing. They arrived today! I'm looking forward to digging in to them. I've been purposefully avoiding some of the bloggers' posts about the book so far, but it will be fun to go back and read them as I catch up to their book study.

Be sure to stop by (in the next 4 hours!) for Jivey's 400 follower giveaway!

And if you missed out on that one:
Head Over Heels for Teaching is having one too! I have a product featured among a bunch of other great items! 

Well, back to vacationing! Though Killer B has never heard of just sitting down to relax, so I may be more tired at the end of this vacation than before we left!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Five for Fri...Sunday?! Make that seven...

Okay, I've seen other bloggers fib on the Five for Friday, and I figured I had a good excuse this time around with all the packing and grass mowing and last minute dropping off of class pets to their caretakers before my vacation, so I'm doing Seven for Sunday! Forgive me!

1. Movie Star Madness
I've been really popular this year apparently because I've had two different film crews visit my room, recorded another two interviews about mentoring student teachers and teaching reading, and had two different photographers come to take pictures...all from different organizations! I was recently sent one of the videos that I'm in that will be used to show new teachers in my district how I (and 3 other teachers from different grade levels) teach reading using a reading workshop model. Watching this video made me realize a couple things...first, that 24 pounds I've lost recently is really starting to show! I've probably lost about 10 since this video was shot. Second, my voice is not as cool sounding out loud as it is in my head. 

2. The Old Look
I figured I should make a record of what this blog looks like now, because pretty soon I'll be sporting my new look from Megan at Bird in Hand Designs! I'm next on her list, and can't wait!

3. Summer Reading!
I'm kind of ashamed to admit that I haven't read 32 Third Graders and One Class Bunny yet. But it'll be in my hands soon! Also, excited to get my copy of Teach Like A Pirate, which many blog readers will have heard of by now. I've already started Igniting A Passion For Reading, and I'm a fan. It's a little more dry than I anticipate the others to be, but there's good information here. I'm also planning to skim through my favorite read from last summer, The Book Whisperer.

4. School's Out!
I shared my End of Year gifts in a previous post, and here's my class on the last day posing for a silly picture. I thought it was a fun filled, but kind of sad day. Still, I'm super excited for both summer and next year! So many ideas for next year! I'm going to try to just relax for a little bit this summer though.

5. But...Planning will happen
And when that planning happens it'll be in my new Erin Condren planner! I'm finally biting the bullet and getting one. I know... they're expensive. Technically it's a gift from Killer B (like that matters with our shared bank account!) I've only ever heard good things, and quite frankly my 5 different calendars, 3 different to do lists, and 18 different locations for keeping those 8 things aren't working anymore for me. This is my attempt to get my crazy level of planning under control. And I am a serious planner. I went with one of the manlier designs, like the one pictured. I think this year I'm going to give up on the attempts (keyword: attempts) to be manly and embrace the side of me that just wants things in my classroom to be cute though. 

6. Vacation Time!
 So, Killer B and I have already made the awfully long drive from PA to GA. Now we just have to relax! We're visiting family in Atlanta for a bit and then heading to Savannah and Tybee Island for a week. The suitcase on the left is mine, B's is on the right. Meanwhile, our dogs have about twice as much stuff as us. 

7. Fun or no?
I've been toying with the idea of doing my own monthly linky for a bit, but all the good ones are taken! Aargh! I wish I didn't read so many blogs sometimes, because if I know someone else is doing something I can't do it because I don't want to be a copycat. Anyway, I read a site sometimes called PostSecret. Basically, people anonymously post digital postcards with a secret on them to the postsecret site. It made me think it'd be fun to have a TeacherSecret linky. I remembered that will let people with the link post anonymous messages(without even signing up or anything!), so I set up this link as a test. 

Would people think it's fun to monthly post a secret or two about your teaching/blogging habits? I figured it'd be fun to anonymously post your secret, then link your blog up, people could try and guess which secret is yours. I would seed the board with a few starter secrets of my own so that the first few to link up aren't obvious. If you're interested, check it out! If there's any interest then I'll fancy up a new board each month and make a button and an inlinkz. 

So, that was my Seven for Sunday. Sorry for breaking the rules, but I wanted to get in a good post before vacationing kicked into high gear!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

It really is that good...

I was super excited to see this box waiting for me when I got home. And inside, was something I've been eagerly awaiting. You guessed it, one of the pencil sharpeners from Classroom Friendly Supplies

I know a lot of people have heard of these sharpeners before, but just in case you don't own one should! It might seem kind of crazy to get excited over a pencil sharpener, but once you've used one of these you'll understand. The sharpener is crazy easy to use, and gets the pencils nice and sharp. The sharpener kind of lets you know when it's done sharpening by easing up and it won't let you keep grinding away at the pencil. Finally a solution to kids sharpening their pencils down to little nubs!

I'm really impressed with the metal body of it, how sturdy it feels, and the nice bright color. I had a decent sharpener in my old classroom that I'm leaving behind, but this one puts it to shame. 
I will more than likely buy another for my students to use, and one for my personal use. The website has a deal when you buy 3, so I'll probably go that route and have a nice gift for a fellow teacher or a future student teacher! The site takes school purchase orders too!

In other news, all of the 100 Follower Giveaway winners and runners-up have been notified and have started receiving their prizes! Congrats! I'm a third of the way to 200 now! Wow! 

Monday, June 10, 2013

End of year gifts Monday Made It, Field Day, and Summer here we come!

I love reading the Monday Made It posts, but I rarely have the time and creativity to contribute something as cool as most of them...BUT I decided to go ahead and throw in what I did make tonight anyway! 

Tomorrow is our last half-day of school! Then just one day of in-service and I'm off for summer!

So, this is what my world has looked like for the last hour or so...

These are the End-of-year gift bags I made for my students. The theme was "A Seriously Silly Year." Going to the store and buying the final pieces was the first step. Handwriting 21 notes, stuffing components into bags, and then tying them off took about 45 minutes or so. 
Inside each baggie I've placed some Silly Putty, a silly straw, a glow stick bracelet, a ring pop, a couple Jolly Ranchers, a handwritten note, and a pair of comic glasses with nose attached. We have a big end of the year assembly and a 5th grade movie to view tomorrow before the 5th graders parade through the halls on their way to the buses. I imagine my kids will love wearing these to the assembly! I usually also get my kids one of the dollar books from our Scholastic book club.

We had our Field Day today, and the kids a great time despite it having to be moved indoors due to rain. 

We basically set up a bunch of stations and then kids free roam to the different stations at their leisure! They can complete these bingo sheets by doing different activities to win prizes. This kind of field day is definitely different than others I've had at different schools. I like it though!

We have a Tug o' War Tournament as part of our field day, and I'm sad to report that my class lost every single match that we competed in! Oh well! Good thing I'm not the competitive type! 

In other news, my 100 follower giveaway is ending tomorrow! If you haven't entered yet, what are you waiting for? There are some great prizes up for grabs! And welcome to all of the new people who have started following this week too! I'm on my way to 200 now!

A Bird in Hand Blog Design
Perfect timing with my 100 follower celebration is the upcoming redesign of my blog, being done by Megan at A Bird in Hand Designs. I spent a good deal of time last night making some design choices, and I'm definitely getting excited about the new look! It'll be here in about a week!

Anyway, tomorrow is sure to be full of tears. It's a little bittersweet to me. It will be my last day of teaching 5th grade. I'm SUPER excited about my move to a 3rd/4th multi-age classroom, but I will definitely miss a lot of 5th grade's unique charms. Saying goodbye to your 5th graders is a lot different than kiddos of younger grades. My kids will be heading off to the middle school, so it's likely I won't be seeing them very often from now on. 

But, I'm truly excited about spending my summer stalking 3rd and 4th grade blogs, pinning 3rd and 4th grade ideas, and planning 3rd and 4th grade lessons though! If any of my 3rd/4th grade blogging buddies out there notice a must-read blog missing from my blog roll, or an awesome pinterest board I must follow, clue me in! 

Killer B and I will be visiting family in Georgia for a couple weeks soon, and we'll also be spending a dog-free week in Savannah and Tybee Island! I can't wait! And when we get back up to PA I have even bigger news to share! ;)

Whelp, off to bed to rest up for my last exciting day as a fifth grade teacher!
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