Sunday, July 28, 2013

Back to Work!

I am so sorry I haven't been on my little ol' blog for TOO LONG!
I have an excuse... I swear!
I'm back to work!
Back to the grind...

Yep, I'm back in the saddle again....!

I spent this first week back at work in new teacher trainings since I'm beginning with a new district this year. We have had VERY limited time in our classrooms, and I'm getting SUPER anxious about it! I wish I had taken pictures to show you, but it needs A LOT of work....

I'm so bad at spatial organization, that I hate rearranging a classroom! I am struggling finding places for everything and making sure that I have well-defined areas in my classroom... I swear I moved my filing cabinet about 5 times on Friday... Back and forth, back and forth! I just can't seem to find the right places for everything.... *sigh*
Plus my room is funny shaped, so I feel really limited in the way that I can put the furniture.
Complaints, complaints, complaints... I know.

All in all I'm pretty excited to be back! I logged into our attendance system during a tech training and 28 little faces were smiling back at me!!! That totally made my day.

We did a big literacy training this week too, and I really like the consultant that they have working with the district. They bought us all easels and rugs to encourage the balanced literacy block to be used in every classroom. I've always done small groups, but I've been somewhat inconsistent at times with shared reading. I'm pretty excited to have that be a big focus this year. I think it will help me grow as a teacher pretty quick!

I'm struggling with math workshop and those things. but I'm hoping that I'll get into the swing of things soon!

Yikes! Kids start school in a week! I do not feel ready... I don't know if I ever will feel ready for the first day of school!

Again, sorry about the lack of pictures, but I promise once things are more put together, I'll give you a whole tour!!
Enjoy what's left of your summer--it goes by too fast!!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Nominated for a Liebster?? Who Me??

Oh my gosh! So I just got home from vacation today and I have 4 nominations from my wonderful followers for the Liebster awards!! 

Mrs. D over at Mrs. D's Diamonds 

And Last but definitely NOT Least... Mandy at The 4th Grade Journey

I never thought when I started writing this blog a month ago that I'd have a nice handful of followers and be nominated for something! *Blushing!!* I want to answer everyone's questions, so hang in there... Read this post to learn some fun facts about me!

So here is how it works... to accept the nomination I must:
1. Link back to the blog that nominated me (see above!)
2. Nominate 5-11 bloggers with fewer than 200 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 and let them know you nominated them

My Nominees:
Emily and Beth at Whoooo's Ready to Teach?
Jennifer at Love Teaching Kids
and last but certainly not least:
Katie and Amy at Cousin Classrooms
(Ladies, go to the bottom of the blog post for your questions!) :)

11 Questions from Mrs. D's Diamonds:

1. How did you know you wanted to become an educator? I always dreamed of being a teacher. I never really seriously imagined being anything but! I love working with kids and I love the school setting... It's meant to be!

2. If you could travel anywhere, where would you go? Oh gosh. I love to travel! I always dreamt of backpacking through South America though... Except right now I'm dreaming of a beach and a margarita in the Caribbean somewhere.... hmmm!

3. What is your favorite classroom memory?  This is a tough one. 

4. What is your favorite thing to snack on at school? a banana or an apple and almond butter! best and quickest lunch--plus I don't have to put it in the fridge in the teacher's lounge so I can work through my lunch easily. (I probably shouldn't admit that...)

5. If you went back to school, what would you receive a degree in? Well, I just finished my Masters in Education this May, sooooo umm... I'm feeling DONE with school for awhile. I guess right now I would just add some endorsements--I really want a reading endorsement so I can be a literacy specialist one day.  I do have a bachelors in psychology, so if I went a different direction...maybe some kind of children's psychologist degree? I don't even know what that would be called!!

6. What did you do over summer "vacation"? I just got back from my second "vacation" this summer... and guess what? Summer is pretty much OVER. Boo Hoo!! Darn Arizona. Anyways- I went home to see my mom in Seattle, and then Blue and I went to his home (Charleston, SC) to surprise his mom for his birthday. I also did a lot of playing catch up at home, and getting ready for teaching self-contained this year!! Yay!

7. What is your favorite style of music? I have started to really get into "country" in the past year or two. I never EVER would have admitted that a few years ago! I also love classic rock and mellow coffee shop style singer-songwriters... I'm kind of all over the place!!

8. What is a brand that you will not buy generic? Hmm... I learned the hard way NOT to buy generic pencils for school... The kids break them, they never sharpen... they drive me NUTS. I just "splurged" and bought a 96 pack of the Ticonderoga pencils at Costco for $9.00! I need to keep a secret stash this year, lol!

9. What classroom technology could you not live without? Hmm, well I haven't had a lot of technology in my classroom to be honest... But I love my projector and document camera. I also love having student computers as a workstation for my kids. I'm getting a SMART board this year, and I'm excited to learn how to use that! :) 

10. Who is your biggest teaching inspiration? That's really hard. Since I started teaching, I always think back to my 6th grade teacher, Mrs. Herman. She taught math from 4 completely different textbooks... YES thats how well she differentiated. She had kids doing math so independently what, 15+ years ago? (no centers, no math workshop...), that she could teach 4 different math lessons to differentiate. I was in the low group when I started that year (My 5th grade teacher told my mom I would NEVER be good at math in a parent-teacher conference), but Mrs. Herman made math fun (woot woot, recess Math Parties with popcorn!!), and didn't give up on me! I went into Middle school the next year and tested into an advanced math class! 

11. What is your favorite school year holiday? I love our Fall break. We have a week off in October at the end of first quarter in Arizona (I have lived all over and NEVER heard of this...) but we start school the first full week of August, so by October I'm SO ready for a vacation, plus October is some of our best weather in Arizona! Can't wait!! 

11 questions for Teaching Tidbits:
1.  Are you a shoe or purse kinda person? If I have to pick, I'm a shoe person. I love shoes, I used to buy them all the time. (not expensive ones...) but now I have so many shoes in my closet that I don't wear! Oops!

2.  What is your favorite grade to teach and why? Second is the BEST! :) duhh...

3.  If you could take a vacation anywhere, where would it be? I love to travel. I answered this one a little bit above, but right now... I want to be on a beach... :) 

4.  What is your one teacher supply that you can not function without? Thin tip Sharpies! Love them. I made a whole drawer for them in my teacher toolbox this year. So excited!

5.  What is your number one trick for classroom management? Positive reinforcement!! Praise Praise praise!! Find SOMETHING good going on, and if not, start over and try again!!

6.  What do you love most about summer? Being on my own schedule... Being productive on my terms and with my own projects--including house projects that I don't have time to do during the year!

7.  Do you like whole group teaching, small group teaching, or both? SMALL GROUP. I taught for two years almost entirely with small groups in my reading classroom. I did my own version of reading workshop, reading workstations, and guided reading for Kinder, First, and Second... I loved it and the kids did SO well! I hope I never have to teach any other way! 

8.  What is your favorite blog that you visit often? Ok, I can't pick a teaching blog, that's just not fair. There's too many wonderful bloggers out there. But I love this lady: Danielle at Blissful and Domestic. She does homeschool her kids, so there is some teaching stuff out there, but she's all about saving money, eating good food, green cleaning, as well as lots of crafty homemade things! She is AWESOME and he blog is so diverse. It's such a treat to be welcomed into her life and home! Check her out! :)

9.   Did you always know that you wanted to be a teacher? Yep. Always. Never really dreamed about seriously haven't any other job!

10.  Where is your favorite place to shop? For what ?? I love shopping online if I can! But I don't buy clothes online. I love Amazon and Groupon!

11.  Warm or cold weather? I love the Arizona heat. I really do. "It's a dry heat!" But,
 I also love dry cold. I don't mind snow when I get to bundle up with lots of layers and scarves and mittens!! :) 

11 Questions from The Traveling Teacher:
1. What song describes your personality?  Hmm. This is a tough question!

2. What is one item in your classroom that you could not live without? My classroom library! I have worked SO hard to collect books and I love making sure my students have lots of choices of what to read.

3. How did you end up teaching at the school you are at? Well I was placed at the last school I worked at for two years. I'm starting at a new school district near my house this year. I had a couple job offers, but I really liked the administration in this district... Hoping for the best!

4. If you weren’t a teacher, what would you be? Maybe a child or school psychologist, or child therapist? I got a degree in psychology.

5. What is your favorite hobby outside of school? That would imply that I have time outside of school! haha. I spend plenty of time at the gym during the school year. I try to go 4 times a week, so I guess that counts as a hobby... I also love being outside, hiking, enjoying the sunshine, water, whatever is around!

6. What is your favorite unit/concept to teach? Well, I have only taught reading for the past two years. I guess I'd say guided reading was my favorite. I love teaching decoding strategies and helping kids become independent readers. 

7. If you could live anywhere else in the world, where would it be? Internationally? Spain. I spent a semester there during college, and I would go back in a heartbeat. My heart is still there! I also love the ocean. If I could afford it, I'd live in the San Diego area. Blue is from SC and he loves Charleston and so do I--but I'm still a little afraid of hurricanes and I am not sure about humidity after living in Arizona... 

8. What is your favorite thing about having summers off? I love making my own schedule! Doing what I want, when I want! I seem to always stay busy, but it sure is nice to not have anywhere to be at any particular time!

9. How do you spend your weekends during the school year? Well, up until May, I was working on my Masters. So at least one day during the weekend was always school work... And the other day was usually spent on school work/prep for my own classroom! In between, I did laundry, cleaned, caught up on those household things that always fall behind. And if I still had time, I spent time outside with my puppies, or did something fun with Blue--date night? What's that! lol.

10. How do you unwind after a long day of school? A cold drink! lol,  just laying on the couch for an hour, or a good sweaty workout! I realize those are kind of opposites, but work with me here!! :)

11. If you could time travel, what era/time period would you go to? Hmm. I always wanted to see what it was like to live Laura Ingalls Wilder's life! That would be pretty cool!

11 Questions from The 4th Grade Journey:

1. What's your favorite grade to teach? I have taught K-2 and I'll be teaching 2nd grade self-contained this year. This is a hard choice! I loved Kinder because I saw so much growth in their reading over the year. But seconds are my favorite because they are so independent but still SO curious and little! (Plus if I didn't say that, my blog title would be joke, wouldn't it!!) :)

2. Would you ever consider teaching in another country? Absolutely! I love to travel. I really wanted to travel and teach in South America or the Dominican after college, but I never got around to it... I would still go abroad to teach in a heartbeat. Though it would be hard to leave my puppies now... hmm...

3. What is your favorite craft to make in your classroom? I love making labels and finding crates and buckets to help organize things! A place for everything, and everything in its place! I'm not always the best... but ideally... my room would look like an organized sanctuary!!

4. Can you imagine yourself doing anything besides teaching? Hmm, well I studied psych, so-- child psychology, or something along those lines. Or... maybe... one day... a mommy?? 

5. Where is your dream vacation destination?  One day I'd love to go back to Europe, see Italy and Germany, a few other places I didn't get to see, but right now, all I want to have is a chaise lounge on a beach right now! :) (and maybe a few margaritas....)

6. We all know teachers aren't supposed to have "teacher's pets," but don't we all?! Describe yours from last year. Oh man... it is SO hard to chose! 

7. What classroom theme do you have planned for next year? Well, kind of more of a color scheme than anything. I've never had a super formal theme. I picked lots of teals and greens, and purples for my room decor so far. I'm excited to have a way to make everything match for once!!

8. What's your favorite subject to teach? I have really only taught reading for the past two years (and LOVED it...) so... Reading!

9.  What is your favorite fast food restaurant? I really don't eat out very often, but Blue is a manager at Chipotle, so I guess that's my favorite!! :)

10. If you could "hand off" one of your responsibilities as a teacher, what would it be? Faculty meetings! (I know how bad this sounds, but at my old school, our after school meetings were such a waste of everyone's time...! I'm hoping this is not true at my new school!)

11. If you won the lottery, for say 150 million, would you still teach? :) Yep. Probably at least until I start having kids...Then I'd want to stay home with them for awhile. I can't handle not working and staying busy!!

Are you still with me? Yikes!! That was a lot of information about yours truly! 

11 random facts about me!
1. I skipped Kindergarten. (But taught it for two years!) 
2. I went to 6 schools before 8th grade. (in 5 states!)
3. I have 3 dogs... Well between Blue and I, we have 3 dogs... My house is a ZOO!
4. I love the water. Lakes, oceans, rivers, pool, anything! 
5. I was on the swim team in high school for 4 years. (woohoo!)
6. I am a Green Bay Packers Fan! (family's from Wisconsin--don't be hatin!)
7. I played violin for 8 years. (don't ask me to play now...)
8. Craftiness and creativity does NOT come easily to me... But I wish it did!
9. I can't go to sleep with a dirty kitchen. 
10. I was a vegetarian for all of high school, and now I'm back to not eating meat, and very very limited dairy.
11. I am an only child!

This is probably the longest post in the history of blogs everywhere. I'm so sorry!

Ok--so my nominees! Here are your 11 questions!
11 questions for MY nominees :)
1. What is your favorite holiday?
2. What is your school year bedtime?
3. What is your favorite thing to teach/make resources for/plan lessons about in the classroom?
4. Where is the best place you've ever traveled or lived?
5. Favorite restaurant?
6. What is your best advice for starting the new school year off right with a new class?
7. What is your favorite place to shop for teaching/classroom goodies?
8. What is your favorite read aloud?
9. What is your least favorite household chore?
10. Favorite adult beverage? 
11. What kind of vehicle do you drive?

If you made it this far... I applaud you! Thank you for reading. Now--go check out the new nominees and some of the great blogs featured in this post! :) 

Happy Wednesday!

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Tuesday Made it?? (An update on my crafty Monday Made It night!)

So yesterday I promised an update with pictures of my craftiness with the goodies I shared in my Made it Monday post! So I'm re-linking with Fourth Grade Frolics

Teacher Sign...


And then... with the magic of modge podge! Ta Da!!
I really like it... I think it will look really cute in my teacher area.

Book Boxes...

And my magazine files... I modge podged scrapbook paper in 5 colors and various patterns (orange, yellow, green, blue, and purple) onto each of them. 

I'm so excited about them! I know the colors don't look great in these pictures, but they're super bright and fun and totally worth the 2 hour project sitting on the floor watching Weeds.... Woops!

Clothespins & Student Work Display...

Then, while I had the modge podge out, I started doing some clothespins like I'd seen in a million places on pinterest.

And I took a little ribbon, and voila! made a student work clip holder. 
The picture is obviously not the greatest. (The globe is from my classroom--yes I'm still in boxes all over my house!) and don't look at my laundry piles on the kitchen table... YIKES. I'm a mess. 

Miscellaneous Leftovers... :)

Lastly--I figured I should show off my hand sanitizer passes and teacher toolbox. I stole both of these (freebies) from somewhere in the midst of bloggy world. I know the passes came from Fun in Room 4b... Go download you a set! They're free!! 

And I apologize-- I stole this pattern and template from my blog adventures... I needed an editable one, and I LOVED these colors. If it's yours, or you know where it came from--PLEASE let me know so i can give proper credit. I'm sorry!

Until Next time... Later Gators.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Monday Made It & My Loot! (Shopping this weekend--Ikea, and Hobby Lobby, and Target, Oh My!)

This is an untraditional Monday Made It--I'm showing you my PLANS for projects for today and tomorrow while Blue is at work!
So I'm linking up with 4th Grade Frolics to join in on the fun!!

Now onto the shopping extravaganza!!

I went a little crazy shopping this weekend...
First I went to Hobby Lobby--all their summer stuff is on sale now-- all those bright colors you love! Yep.
I got this super cute green sign on the right here with zebra ribbon... I'm super excited to modge podge my name onto it and hang it by my teacher area :) I got it for 3 bucks I think! My original thought was-- oh I could make that, but for $3? so worth it!

Below you'll see my collection of brightly colored can koozies! Awhile back I found something on pinterest using these colored cans holders to sort crayons etc-- but I cannot find it for the life of me!! And theres the issue of no black, brown, white, purple...etc... So I haven't decided what I will do with them yet, but they're so cute and colorful!

On to IKEA!
These are cute little plastic holders that would hang on a rod or string to hold pens, pencils, fake flowers all sorts of goodies! They are so cute and colorful. (Sorry I took all these pictures on my phone--there's 2 of each color, red, pink, purple, and black). I have cinderblock walls, so I obviously can't screw a rod into my wall-- but I'm thinking about some fun ways to use them for a writing center.

These little white bathmats were only $2!! They only came in white, but I figure I can dye them whatever color I want! I bought 5 I think. I saw this pin and I wanted to try it.

Below is the picture of the bath mats as individual reading spaces.
The more I read about math workshop--I'm thinking that these would make REALLY cute little work mats too! :)
not my classroom! :)

I got these 6 great bright pillows for my reading nook at Ikea too! They're so fun! 

And the blue/teal matches THESE great stools. $6!! I love Ikea. I only bought 4 but now I'm feeling like I should have bought at least 6... darn. At least they weren't on sale, so I'll probably go back soon! I'm thinking of using them at my teacher table for small group work--or maybe the computer station. I think they'll fit really nicely under the tables and not get tangled in cords or table legs. 

I also go these other goodies! On the left (sorry about the bad picture--) They're little plastic placemats (set for 4 for $1). Again--I'm thinking about little workmats for manipulatives, or playdough... Oh my the possibilities! 

I also found magazine files at ikea for book boxes and these cute plastic cups for less than 50 cents each! They will be great for supply caddies, dividing out materials, putting away manipulatives at stations, etc. 
I think I'm going to take some scrapbook paper and decorate the spine of each book box. I used ziplock bags last year and they were a disaster... I know cardboard book boxes aren't the BEST solution, but I'm hoping they'll at least keep the books out of their desks and off the floor... maybe they'll take better care of things! 

If you can't tell-- I have been really attracted to BRIGHT colors and teal especially in my classroom decor. I'm thinking some great bright accents on black for my decor. I've never really had a "set" theme for my room. I have a ton of dr. seuss stuff from the past two years, but still nothing matched...
I'm excited to get back in my room next week(??fingers crossed) and start getting things done! Yippee!!

SO... For Monday Made it--I'm working on my book boxes and teacher signs today! 
I'll hopefully post a few more pictures of them by tomorrow!!

Also--I hope I inspired you to go out and catch some great sales at Ikea and Hobby Lobby and Target!

Man I love Classroom shopping!! :)

Friday, July 5, 2013

Currently...Happy Fourth of July!

Well friends, I hope you had a wonderful Holiday, and are gearing up to enjoy the weekend even more!
I'm joining Farley for her Currently linky today... I've been meaning to sit down and do this since July 1st... I'm only a few days behind this month! Yikes!

Anyways, is what I'm up to!

Listening: Well, it's over now, but I was listening to Netflix in the background. I started watching the show New Girl with Zooey Deschanel (sp?) this week because it popped up on my Netflix. I've heard such great things about it--I had to watch it :) And so far, it's hilarious!

Loving: Blue hasn't had 2 days off in a row since memorial day. We're going on vacation together in a week (to see his family in SC). But man, it sure is frustrating being off work and him be working all the time.... I mean, I'm glad he's making money of course, and we need it for sure, but I get lonely at home all day or night.... :( Well, we got to sleep in together this morning, and we were super lazy enjoying cuddling on the couch and laying in bed until 10am. I should have done SO much to clean up after the party we threw last night... but it was nice to just be together!

Thinking: My school stuff is in shambles. Switching schools is a nightmare. It amazes me how much stuff I have accumulated in just 2 years of teaching... I can't even imagine what it would look like after 5 or 10 or 20!! I want to go through and relabel some books, I also need to do some file organizing. But instead I'll just sit on pinterest and TPT and teacher blog hop downloading things left and right like a madwoman. Maybe I can print and laminate today....that's productive right??

Wanting: Oh my gosh, along the same lines, I can't get my head out of my classroom right now. I want to get so many goodies at Ikea--they're having teacher appreciation sales starting next week and theres a set of dishes on sale tomorrow that I NEED. Uggh. Trying to convince Blue to come along will!

Needing:  I need to get rid of this headache... I'm just feeling super blahh today. I don't know what's up. Just an off day I suppose!

Tips, Tricks, or Hints: Well I'm very new to this whole bloggy world, and I haven't really much experience creating or selling things, but I know that keeping things simple always helps me manage things in baby steps. Take it easy I guess- I was super overwhelmed at first but then I realized that I need to slow down-- if i want to write, I write. If I want to read a million blogs, I do. But if I miss a day, it's not the end of the world... Keeping it simple has been my sort of slow entrance to the bloggy world :)

There's my two cents for the day. I'm hoping that if I feel better a little later that maybe I'll go hit Target dollar spot or do some other classroom shopping. But for now I'm going to just be happy the sink is clean (YAY no dishes!) and look over some math stations stuff from Debbie Diller.

Happy Freakin' Weekend! Woohoo!

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

New Classroom, Giveaway Winner, and Math!

I just got home from vacation (I never thought I'd call visiting my mother a vacation...but more on that later)... and now it's 10 days (9?) till Blue and I take off again to go see his parents... At least the beach will be nice! I'm starting to get SO nervous about the new school year though. I'm feeling SO behind already and I've barely even started!! Oh my gosh.

Where to begin!?

New Classroom!

Well, I got to see my new classroom last week before my trip--only got one carload of boxes to the school, but it sure was nice to see the space I'll be working with. I have a sink! and a window! And cabinets! Oh thank the lord. student cubbies, backpack hooks, mailboxes, nothing!! I think I better start shopping for sales on plastic storable containers... Does anyone have any suggestions for mailboxes or storing student belongings?? I'm a little lost!

Forgive these pictures, it sure is a mess in there!! They're still cleaning the classrooms...
Look at my HUGE front board space.
AND a suspended projector... I think I'm in heaven!
Window!! Even though they're little, I have natural light!

Giveaway WINNER!!

On another AMAZING note, I won a giveaway!! I never win things, I was SO excited!! It was one that I blogged about a few weeks back, but I haven't found the time to brag and share all my lovely winnings with you all! Ahhh! :)

So I won Day 2 of Angela's 3-day 300 follower giveaway at Hippo Hooray for Second Grade!!
I never win.
I rolled over in bed still and was checking my phone when I saw her email. I woke up Blue and literally danced in my pajamas around my bedroom for probably 10 minutes. And THEN everytime I saw that email later that day I screamed WINNER WINNER I'm a WINNER!
I am SUCH a little kid.
So I got to pick out some AWESOME TPT stuff for free, and got SUCH a fun package in the mail. SO pumped. Angela is awesome--you should follow her blog ASAP! Hippo Hooray for Second Grade... seriously! Isn't that the cutest name for a blog you've ever heard? (I'm sorry Angela--I know I told you that I would write about this over a week ago... I'm so behind!!)
Look at her cute chevron envelope!
So... I got goo gone (LOVE), the perfect classroom size!! A GIANT sharpie... I didn't even know they made them this big! I'm so excited to try it out... and My favorite--flair pens! I honestly was about to buy this exact pack for myself last week at Target, but I didn't! And now I have them :) YAYY! Thank you Angela!! What a fun surprise!


So, I'm getting excited/nervous about teaching math! My district doesn't have great math curriculum, but I've loved teaching reading in the workshop form for the past 2 years. I'm pretty set on trying this for math. What I don't know is how to do is set up a weekly schedule to include enough workshop time along with other subjects. Is reading, writing, AND math workshop groups too much for kids to handle?? I LOVE and prefer small group teaching if/when possible ... but I'm getting anxious... I'm new at this folks! 
I caved and bought Debbie Diller's math book that I talked about in my last post, and I actually think I'm going to take it on my next plane ride... {I read 3 books on my 5-day trip home to see my mom... 2 of which were teaching books... oops! it's vacation time!}
SO excited for it to come in the mail. I think it will be super helpful... I hope it will anyways!!

I got a few suggestions for writing books, and thoughts in my last post, but I still am unsure. I have a local friend who's taught JUST writing for the past 2 years so I'm going to pick her brain soon, but I'm still feeling lost! 
I swear this change is almost (not quite) worse than my first year of teaching with all the changes!! Ack!

I promise I'll be back soon--Though we're throwing a 4th of July party, so if I don't catch ya'll before the weekend--Have a wonderful and safe Holiday! I love this time of year :)

Thanks for all your suggestions for math and writing and workshops! Oooh and cubbies and storage! EEK... so many things to think about. How will I sleep?!