Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Some days just make you laugh

Some days are fabulous. Some days are horrible.  Some days just make you laugh.

I was sick the last two days and stayed home to get rest.  My puppy had injured herself playing on Saturday, so she was happy to have me home.  We napped a lot. 

Today I went back somewhat ready to face my room after being gone.  I am an organized chaos sort of person.  I love being organized, but I also tend to accumulate piles.  There are always things that have yet to have been found a place to belong.  While I may not be as clutter-free as I like, I do know where everything is.  (I want to be the Clutter-Free Classroom when I grow up.  It is on my to-do-list to do some of her clutter-free challenges.  I have too many teacher materials that I need to part with, but I found it hard to let go of my hard-spend investment.) It is always hard after being gone to find everything has been turned, moved, or misplaced.  This morning I discovered I no longer had dry erase markers or a trash can.  How do you lose a 3 foot trash can?

Some of my students had chosen to be productive while I was gone.  Others pretended to look busy.  Friday is a teacher work day, so there is no school.  They were not happy to discover that their work had to be done by Thursday, or it became homework over the weekend. The productive ones will have no problem.  The pretenders will have a lot to get done tomorrow.  Sometimes consequences are hard.  I am glad my students were good while I was gone.  It is amazing how much less whining there is when you are pretending to work versus actually working.  I am going to tell you that technology is amazing.  It also makes teaching more difficult at times.  Using computers all day long means my students are learning so many useful skills for the future; it also translates to a million more ways to be distracted and off-task. Anyway, they were actually pretty productive today.  We also go to read a little more of our Mythology unit, which we all enjoyed.  I am getting ready for Poetry next week.

I came home to check on my poor, limping puppy to discover her anti-inflammatory medicine had not agreed with her stomach. She has had so few accidents in her three years that I know it caused her great distress to leave behind such a pile to be cleaned up.  And oh, what a pile it was.  The aromas that met me when I got home were certainly strong.

As I cleaned up the mess on my floor while my limping puppy watched and tried to erase the awful smell in my house, I just laughed.  Today was not a horrible day.  It was just a laughable day full of disheveled desks, missing markers, misplaced trash cans, recess troubles, overwhelmed whiners, and mushy piles of poo. 

Blessings and good night!  I hope you got a good laugh today, too.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Common Core Paragraphs - Graphic Organizers for Grades 1-2

I have been home sick today, but I decided to try and start finishing some of the many partially done products on my computer.  I always have great ideas, start them, and struggle to finish them.  Back in November I began a project called Common Core Paragraphs.  My 4th graders were struggling with writing a paragraph.  So I decided to go back to the 1st and 2nd grade standards and create graphic organizers to help them break down the paragraph writing process.

This pack has over 80 pages of graphic organizers, rubrics, and lined paper.  The graphic organizers and charts have been created for basic paragraphs of any type, as well as sets for informative, narrative, and opinion writing.  These are a great way to help your students work on the Common Core Writing Standards and organize their thought process.  These can be used with any prompts.  My goal is to start creating monthly prompt sets to accompany these organizers.

You can get Common Core Paragraphs at my TpT store.  They will usually be $6.00, but will be on sale this week for $3.00.  I would love to give away a free copy.  Leave me a comment on your favorite way to teach paragraph writing to your students. I will select a winner.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Great Days offset the Rough Days

I first wanted to say that after a somewhat lousy day yesterday, today was really a pretty great day overall.  I made the commitment to get up an hour earlier and go to a 6am hot pilates class.  Getting up at 5 was not easy, but it was so worth it.  I really like having the exercising out of the way, and when I do go I have so much more energy all day long. 

My students were really good today and worked really hard.  We even got to fit in some of the activities I had planned that we did not get to do yesterday.  We started our Mythology Unit (thanks to this super cute unit by Nicole Shelby.)

We have been studying the 13 Colonies in Social Studies, so I had grabbed a selection of nonfiction books on the 13 Colonies from the library.  I paired my students up, and they have 5 days to finish the book.  The books are about 50-60 pages, but since it is nonfiction not all of them read as quickly.  I gave them the option of buddy reading together or taking turns reading the books independently.  They had to plan out with their partner how much to read each day to finish on time.  (I love making them take ownership to plan out how they read a book.)  Some will take the whole 5 days and some choose to read the book in one day.  I gave them a chart and they had to take notes on the main ideas of the book.  Next week at the end of the week, they are going to make a glog on their book.  We have yet to make a glog, so this is going to be our first project for using Glogster Edu.

I found some super cute Science Graphic novels at the library, so tomorrow we are going to read a graphic novel that ties into our current Science topic.  We use the computers so much all day long that I feel it is really important to expose them to text and literature as much as I can.  I love finding ways to incorporate good texts and variety of texts to all subjects. 

This afternoon I had an opportunity to go talk to a professor to get information on a Doctorate program in Gifted Education.  It was a really interesting conversation, and I got a lot of great information.  I came home and walked the dog.  Then, I had to run to to the store and grab ice cream because I told my students I would bring them a treat tomorrow for working so hard today with a good attitude.  I was reminded again today how much our students feed off of our own energy.  My day started out rough yesterday and it just put me in a frustrated mood all day.  I think sometimes even if we try not to show it if we are frustrated or frazzled, the students often respond in the same way.  Morning pilates gave me more energy and put me in a better mood.  I think my own positive energy set us off in the right direction today, and the result was they continued to make good choices all day.  It was just a reminder to me to keep trying to always find the positive and find reasons to be thankful.  I  hope you have a wonderful Friday.

Good night,

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Getting Ready for a Big Giveaway and a Hard Day

Do you ever go into work excited about the fun activities you have planned and then spend most of the day just dealing with issues and never getting around to those fun things?

It can be so tiring when you plan something that will be fun for you and the kiddos and the behavior or issues get in the way of being able to do those fun activities.

Any time you have a  first year with a grade or new school it can seem like so much work.  It can seem overwhelming.  I find myself feeling overwhelmed by all that needs to be accomplished by May.  God reminds me that I need to step back, breathe, and take time to see all that we have accomplished and all the growth my students have shown.

Sometimes the hardest part of being a teacher is the not having enough time to breathe and reflect.  Teaching is challenging and rewarding.  It is so much more fulfilling than many jobs, but it also can be so draining.  Sometimes we just have to take the time to recharge and fill back up.  Running around empty just makes a hard job harder.

Anyway, time for some Praise and Worship and maybe a bath or a book or both.

I am a couple days away from my one year blogiversary, as well as close to 500 followers.  I would like to plan a couple giveaways.  I need an honest opinion.  Do you prefer giveaways with donations by lots of bloggers or giveaways with gift cards?  I am trying to decide which way to go with my giveaway(s) and would like to know what would be preferred.  Thanks for the feedback.

Good night y'all,

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Sumdog Math and...English!

I am joining up with Technology Tailgate's Techie Tuesday.

Have you ever used Sumdog?  It is amazing.  My students love it.  It allows them to do a spiral review of their Common Core Math skills in a fun, interactive way.  They get to play games against each other,  students across the world, and the computer.  I like it because we are doing spiral review, but I do not have to copy worksheets just for review (or grade it).  You can sign up and use Sumdog for free.  If you get a more premium membership, you get access to more reports and stuff.

Now, they have created Sumdog English.  We tried it out today.  They were very excited to practice their Language Arts skills as well.  If you sign up by the end of February, the cost is 75% off!  You can read more about Sumdog English here. Sumdog is one of the best resources for reinforcing the Common Core skills I have seen that is highly engaging.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Last minute printable Valentines ("I think you're just write!")

So like usual I am doing things last minute.  I remembered as I wanted to get ready for bed I still needed to figure out my Valentines for my students.  I had done lots of Pinterest searching, but I had not yet done anything.

I was inspired by this Pin:

I decided to make my own.  I think they came out cute.  I used a package of mechanical pencils I already had.

 photo 4CA0F458-5E3D-49BB-99B2-F6D8F7C0F379-29263-000007CD4A19BA0F_zpsaca14a5e.jpg

You can get a copy here (just in case you are last minute like me or want to get a head start on next year).

Cornell Notes Templates for Science - Freebie

Today I decided to face the fact that my student need help with note-taking.  I have put off dealing with it while we dealt with more pressing needs.  I decided to jump into note-taking today.  I quickly created some Cornell Notes forms in Microsoft Word and printed them out.  They worked well even though my students seemed a little overwhelmed by the process.  Note-taking is a vital study skill as students get older, and it will also help to deepen their comprehension.

I decided to come home and create some cuter forms though.  I decided I would rather have ones that look a little different for each subject. So today I have a freebie for you.  It includes Cornell Notes templates and writing paper for Science.  You can get it here through Dropbox or at my TpT store.

I also made some Writing Paper to encourage content writing in Science.  It includes a planning page with a web and paper that has a place to utilize the Writing Strategy RAFT (Role, Audience, Format, Topic.)

I hope you find it useful.  I figure if we are going to use note-taking in multiple subjects the graphics will make it easier for them to distinguish which notes go with which classes. How do you take notes in class?

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Some ideas for Valentine's Day

I have not had as much time to blog this week because it was my birthday.  I have had a fabulous week overall, which you can read about at my new personal blog called Balancing the Backpack.  I am really trying to work on balance this year, which includes eating better, exercising more, and trying to approach each day with gratitude and joy.

I really want to change things up a little bit this week with my students and do some fun stuff for Valentines.  I would really like to do some poetry as well.  I did not have as much time this weekend as I wanted to work on some Poetry activities or my Fractured Fairy Tale Unit.  I am hoping to have some more time tomorrow night.  In the meantime, I made some TpT purchases.

I purchased Jennifer Findley's Valentine's Math centers.  All of her stuff is fabulous.

I also purchased her Valentine's Reading Skills pack. I am going to use this, as well as hopefully some poetry stuff I hope to make.

Here is a link to some funny love/Valentine's poems on Giggle Poetry you could use this week with your students.

Here is a cute poem by Kenn Nesbitt called "Lunchbox Love Note" that I will read with my students this week. We will use it to review over the structure of a poem.

I will probably use some activities from Laura Candler's February packet.  I have used her Friendship Cinquain before so I will probably use that as one of our poems this week.


I still need to figure out a gift for my students for Valentine's Day. There are so many cute ideas on Pinterest. I am leaning toward this one with a pen or pencil. I may also bring some cookies because they were disappointed I did not bring a treat to share with them on my birthday.

What have you decided to give your students for Valentine's Day?

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Freebie - Editable Handwriting Paper

I have about a million projects half started or swirling in my head.  Today, I have a quick and simple freebie for you.  I had a student come in for some testing, and I had to create a writing prompt for him.  He was younger, so I wanted to use handwriting paper.  I did not have any, so I made some.  Click here for your editable file of handwriting paper.

This is a Word document with handwriting lines in the document.  Because it is in Word, it is completely editable.  You can add whatever prompts you want.  I hope you are having a fabulous day, and you find this helpful.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Currently and a Sale

I always love Farley's Currentlies.  I believe we all do. 

Right now, I am currently too full from dinner and thinking I need to figure out what to do for my birthday in 6 days.  On the 7th, I turn 29.  I feel like I should do something fun and unique.  I am also leaning toward treating myself to a spa day next Saturday. I also need to start putting together my next big giveaway to celebrate my birthday and my blog's birthday.  Let me know if you would be interested in contributing.

Here is my Currently.

My puppy Nala is happy that we let her have her Rawhide chew for a bit, and one of my cats is mad I pulled up the bath rug because it needed to be washed.  He prefers to spend his evenings like this.

Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone App

I have been going to hot yoga much more frequently, so I treated myself to an overpriced workout bag from Lululemon.  I love it!  It holds all my stuff for work, my work out clothes, and my water bottles.  It has a compartment for sweaty clothes after working out, a compartment for a laptop or iPad, and a separate shoe bag.

I went to dinner with my sister-in-law and had Olive Garden.  I ordered from the lighter entrees, but I still probably ate too much.  It was very good, though. Now, I am ready for some hot berry green tea.  My knees are hurting, so I will probably take some Glucosamine.  I have been exercising a lot more.  I have autoimmune stuff, so sometimes my body reacts with a lot of inflammation. I probably should try to cut out gluten, but I love bread.  It is so hard!

My pet peeves are when my students leave their backpacks and lunch boxes on the floor. Every morning before Math, I have to remind them to move the backpacks and lunch boxes to the cubbies in the hallway.  They forget every day. With the cooler weahter, the coats litter the floor as well.

I am so glad it is the weekend.  In the morning, I am going to try my first holy yoga class. I went to a holy yoga group event last weekend and loved it.

Like many others I will be having a sale on Sunday and Monday at my TpT store.

Last but not least, I just wanted to share that I got an email today that I was nominated as one of the Top 25 Elementary Blogs of 2012 by Top Masters in Education. This is my first award like this, so this made my day!
I feel very honored and am so appreciative of all of those who read and follow my blog. This is an amazing community of bloggers, and I feel regularly blessed to be part of this extended community. Have a fabulous weekend!
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