Sunday, December 15, 2013

Shepherds and Centers

What a weekend!  We had our Christmas Program at church today.  I got to spend time with a very cute shepherd.  :)

I had to help corral 30 of his fellow shepherds as well.  It was definitely interesting.  They did a great job though!!

I've finally finished my Winter Literacy Centers!  We've been using them this month, and I've been creating one or two a week for my students to use.  (Having them use them also means that I was able to work out some of the kinks.)  They cover the 2nd grade Common Core Standards, but they could be used for advanced first graders or for remediation in the upper grades.  I use them during my Daily 5 Word Work time twice a week.  It's a great way to review the grammar standards that there never seems to be enough time to practice.  They've been uploaded here in my TPT store!  (You can also click on the picture to go to my store.)

I hope everyone has a great week!  We only have five school days left before Winter Break!

Friday, December 6, 2013

Five for Friday. And a Freebie!!

It's the end of another week, and I'm linking up with Doodle Bugs Teaching with my Five for Friday!  We've had a busy week.  We started on Monday with our Elf arriving.  The kids named her "Jessie".  One of the choices was "Sparkles", and I was hoping that would win the vote, but luck wasn't with me.  So far, Jessie has brought the kids pencils and chocolate bells.

(Am I the only one who thinks the elf has really creepy eyes.  She's always staring at me!)

Here's a really cute video we watched together.  They loved it!

On Monday, we also made Hot Chocolate.  I made it, and the students wrote down the steps.  Then, we talked about using transition words in a how-to paragraph.  Finally we wrote the final copy of a paragraph.  We'll finish out the week by making this Hot Chocolate Craftivity that I got from Third Grade Bookworm.

Here's the recipe I used:

Creamy Hot Chocolate - serves 24
Adapted from

1/2 gallon milk (I used 2%, but whole milk would be divine!)
2 quarts half & half
14 oz can sweetened condensed milk
12 oz bag chocolate chips (semi sweet or milk chocolate)
Mini marshmallows

Add first four ingredients to slow cooker.  Stir to combine completely.  Cook on low for 2 - 3 hours or until hot.  Serve with mini marshmallows.

Here's a picture.  The pic isn't great, but the hot chocolate was delicious!

Wednesday, I had someone from our county's ESOL office visit my classroom for the whole day.  She was also my instructor last year when I was getting my certification, so she is a wonderful resource!  It was so nice to have another person in my class.  I could really get used to it!  She also had some suggestions of ways I can help my ELs become more comfortable with academic language.  Plus, she's fluent in Spanish (which I am most definitely NOT), so my Spanish speaking students loved it!

And, finally, we've been stuck inside almost the whole week with rain.  While it's been in the 70's here in Georgia (and I know that's not the case for much of the country), no recess the week after Thanksgiving Break makes for stir crazy children (and teachers).  Here's hoping that next week will be sunny and beautiful!!

If you'd like to use the unit, it's free in my TpT store!  Just click on the pictures to go download it.

Enjoy Friday!  I've only got two more until it's Winter Break!!

Monday, November 4, 2013

My Truth Monday - How I Became a Teacher

It's Monday again, and I'm linking up with Denise at Sunny Days to share another "My Truth Monday."  This one's pretty easy.  :-)

So what's your truth about becoming a teacher?  Head over to Denise's blog and link up!

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Brand New Blog Design!!

The blog has a fresh new look!  Thank you so much to Tessa from Tales From a Blog Designer!  I love the bright, clean look!!

Hopefully, having such a good lookin' blog will encourage me to post more often.  ;-)

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Surviving Halloween!

Personally, I think that Halloween (and the day after) should be national holidays, so we don't have to go to school, but since no one's taken my suggestion, I had to figure out how to make it through the day with some very excited second graders.

I decided the best way to do it would be to cut and paste.  This is from Jen Ross's Spidey Literacy Pack.  We've been talking about spiders all week, so I thought making spiders would be a great way to spend our mornings.  We made quite a mess.

But the spiders turned out very cute!!

Pay no attention to the Hispanic Heritage paragraphs that are still up.  We haven't gotten any new writing up this month.

But, I got to go home to these happy trick or treaters!

For some reason, Little Miss doesn't ever want to get her picture taken.  She was supposed to be a farmer girl with freckles.  It didn't work out perfectly.  She did come home with a huge haul of candy.  Guess everyone loves a two year old trick or treating.  

How did you survive today?  And how are you going to handle tomorrow when they're in their sugar induced comas?  :)

Monday, October 28, 2013

My Truth Monday - Creepy!!

It's another My Truth Monday, and I'm linking up with Denise at Sunny Days to share my truth about what creeps me out.  (Perfect for Halloween, don't you think?)

Here's mine!

So, what's your truth about what creeps you out??  Besides Halloween week with little kids, that is.  ;-)

Monday, October 21, 2013

My Truth Monday - Fitness

I'm linking up with Denise at Sunny Days in Second Grade for her series on sharing our true feelings about various topics.  Today's is especially relevant to me, because I went jean shopping yesterday.  (Insert groan here.)  I hate shopping for clothes.  Don't get me wrong, I love clothes.  I love looking nice.  I love having a full closet with lots of choices.  But, I hate shopping.  I hate having to search through racks and racks to find the one thing that fits me.  I hate trying on four pairs of pants of various styles and not having anything that fits.  And I REALLY hate being so short.  When I do find something that fits, it's usually about 6 inches too long.  Can I get an "Amen" from the vertically challenged?  I guess everything clothing designer in the world thinks that all women who are petite are also a size 0 with no hips.  Well, I've had four children, so I definitely have some hips.  :-)  So, I decided that it was time to start getting fit again.  I spent today tracking all of my food, AND I got up early enough to exercise!  Trust me, that was quite the sacrifice since there's a two year old who lives at my house who can sometimes be up in the night.  (Like last night.)

So, here's my truth:

My goal is to lose 40 pounds by the end of the year (which will also be my 40th birthday).  Hopefully, by the summer time, I'll feel a lot more fit!

So, what's your truth about fitness??

Sunday, October 20, 2013

So Much To Do!

And so little time!  Isn't that always the story of a teacher's life?  :)  I feel like the last month has flown by, and I haven't been able to get ahead anywhere.  We had conferences, then the end of the grading period, and finally report cards.  Now, it's getting ready for Halloween, then Thanksgiving, and finally Christmas.  Before I can turn around, it'll be the New Year.

So, my goal for the rest of the month is to stay ahead of things, post here regularly, and maybe even get some Thanksgiving activities up on TPT!  (OK, let's not get too crazy.  :) )

Hope everyone has a wonderful week!

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Pep Talk to Teachers

If you've never seen the Kid President, get ready. Here's his pep talk to teachers and students. I love it!


Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Replenishing the Fun Circuits

Today is Wednesday.  Hump day.  That day in the week when Friday seems so close, yet so far away.  I'm exhausted from the first two days of the week, yet I know the next days will be even busier (because second graders can sense an upcoming weekend even better than a teacher).  Last week was an especially hard week.  Why is it that four day weeks seem longer than a five day week?  Plus, I had two parent conferences.  One where I was the teacher, and one where I was the parent.  And, I had my crier.  I was TIRED by the end of the week.

And, then I came across this article.  This was written by Nelba Marquez-Greene.  If that name sounds familiar to you, you probably saw her daughter's beautiful face on the news last December.  Ana Grace was killed by Adam Lanza last December at Sandy Hook.  She wrote a wonderful article on as a parent's letter to teachers.  Her letter is a touching reminder about why I go to school every day and spend these long and sometimes exhausting days with my students.  Because they NEED me.  And, honestly, I need them.  I need to see the joy in their eyes.  I need to hear their funny stories and laugh at their corny jokes.  If I had to work in an office, I'd probably shrivel up and waste away.

So, on a day when I'm tired and worn out, I'm going to remember these words.  Hopefully, they'll encourage you as we finish out this week.

"As you begin this school year, remember Ana Grace. Walk with courage, with faith, and with love. And don’t let them suck your fun circuits dry."

Let's always remember to replenish our fun circuits.  

Monday, September 9, 2013

Spelling and Phonics for English Learners

Exciting title, right?  But, if you're like me, you probably have students in your room who are really poor spellers.  My class is made up almost entirely of English Learners, so they naturally struggle with spelling and phonics.  I started the year using the word study book provided by our district, but it only took two weeks for me to discover that it wasn't the best fit for my students.  I got my hands on a copy of Words Their Way, a book I had been introduced to a couple of years ago and read most of it in one weekend.  While I understood the premise of the book, with  24 students and only one of me, I wasn't sure how I was going to fit in time to meet with my five reading groups and an unknown number of spelling groups.  I didn't know what my next step was going to be.

So, I did what every person in the Western world does when they have a question.  I Googled!  (Seriously, what did we do before Google?)  I searched for "words their way for second grade", and this post from Second Story Window came up first!  What a life saver!  It describes how to use "chunk spelling" to help students generalize spelling patterns and use them in their everyday writing.  Every week, the students work with a different chunk.  We started with the -at family.  On the blog page, there's a link to a Beginning Sound Board the students use to make words.  We did this on Friday.  (And I forgot to take pics.  Darn.)  It was fabulous to watch my kids.  My higher kids were able to put the words together mentally, while my lower readers were having an extended practice time in sounding out words.  (Something they really struggle with.)  Then, we tried to create some big words.  While that didn't work as well as I hoped, I think we'll get better as we go on.  (I was trying to come up with big words with -at in them, and all I could come up with was catastrophe.)  I let the students pick the ten words for their lists, and I was so impressed with how good their choices were.  The students who were my better spellers chose the more difficult words, and my weaker spellers chose the easier words.  I'm hoping that when we test on Friday, I'll see a lot of improvement!

I'm also going to start doing some making words lessons from Pat Cunningham this week.  On Tuesdays and Thursdays, I'll have my students plus about five other EL students in my class for 45 minutes along with our lead ESOL teacher.  I've been debating what to do with those students, since it's during my writing time, and I think this is the best plan.  While the other students are there, we'll do about 20 minutes of writing and then another 20 minutes of word study.  On Tuesdays, we'll do a making words lesson, and then, hopefully, on Thursdays, we'll be able to do a Rounding Up the Rhymes lesson or a Guess the Covered Word lesson.

I'm excited about my new plan!  While I'm sure it will need some tweaking, I can't wait to see how my students improve this year!  I'll be sure to let you know how it goes!

Friday, September 6, 2013

Has It Been a Month? And. . .Five for Friday!

I can't believe it's been a month since I last posted!  The beginning of the year has been insanely busy, and I still feel like I haven't caught up.  But I decided that no matter what, I needed to link up to the Five for Friday Party!  Here's a little bit of what my week has been like:

I went shopping on Monday!!  (That's always fun.)  I went to Target for a book shelf for our living room and came home with this instead.  :)  To my husband's great relief, this was cheaper than the book shelf I wanted and a lot easier to put together.  I love how it brightens up our whole room.

This is the science activity we did today.  Each group got four pea pods, and they had to count the number of peas in each pod.  Then, we graphed the data and analyzed it.  (Nothing like rolling science, math, and writing all into one big lesson!)  It was great to see them so involved in the lesson.  They really enjoyed it.  I did realize I have to revise the graphing sheet.  Watching them trying to make the bar graphs was interesting.

This is just part of the mess that my corner has become.  I promise, that was neat the first week of school, but since then, the piles have just grown.  (And grown, and grown, and grown.)  I'm hoping I can get it cleaned up soon.  We have parent conferences coming up at the end of the month, so I'm going to have to get a grip on the clutter!

This, right here, is the biggest reason I've fallen behind.  I have been without this since a week ago Tuesday.  (That's 7 school days for those of you playing at home.)  Seven school days without a computer is a lifetime.  I do everything on this.  Grading, attendance, e-mail, hand-outs, parent newsletters, etc.  Everything is on this baby.  Not only that, but I have to write proficiency plans for every single one of my English Learners, (There's 21 of them) and they could only be done on my work laptop since I do them through Lotus Notes.  No computer, no Lotus Notes.  AND, to make matters worse, Lotus Notes only works when connected to the school network.  No writing ELPP's at home for me!  I'm hoping to get them done by October.  (Just in time to write revised ones for the new grading period.  Sigh.)

And last, but not least. . .

This is what I've faced every morning for the last two weeks.  One of my little sweethearts has decided that she wants to be at home rather than school.  She comes in every day screaming.  The last few days, she's been inconsolable until our specials time at 10:40, but Thursday, the school counselor and assistant principal decided she needed to start the morning in my room.  I didn't need to go to gym after that work out!  She wants us to call her mom, and she kept trying to run out of the room, and I was doing my best body blocking techniques to stop her.  The strangest thing is that she finally calmed down around 8:30 (45 minutes after coming in), and she was perfectly fine the rest of the day.  We've met with her mom, and we're hoping that if we can just wait her out, she'll finally decide she's stuck with us and not pitch a fit every morning.

I promise!  It won't be a month until my next post!  I'm hoping to get my life organized and running a little more smoothly this month.  Thankfully, there's no more Curriculum Nights, preschool open houses, or evening meetings in my future.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Meet the Teacher and Classroom Pics!

Today was our Meet the Teacher Day!  While this day is always tiring (my feet are killing me), I love seeing all of my new students.  One of the things I love about being a teacher is that you get a chance for a fresh start every year.  It doesn't matter how difficult or stressful last year was, every August I get to start brand new with a brand new group.  This year, my group seems really sweet.  Lots of them are English Learners, so we'll be doing lots of activities to help them increase their fluency in the English language.  I was able to meet all of them except for two, and I had four new ones enroll!  My class of 20 is now 24 and will probably grow.  So much for a smaller class this year.  (Insert small sigh here.)

But, before they came, I spent a week or so getting my room ready.  Now, it's not as decorated as some rooms, but our county has a fire marshal who, I believe, was Attila the Hun in a previous life, and we have the strictest rules about classroom decorations.  No fabric, no curtains, nothing hanging from the ceiling, and only 15% of the wall space can be covered.  (Insert larger sigh here.)  Plus, I make a lot of my anchor charts with my students, so a lot of the blank wall space will be filled up with our Daily 5 charts, our math charts, and some grammar anchor charts.

So, without further ado, here's my classroom for the week!!

View from my doorway looking into the classroom.

Right inside my door and to the right is a long bulletin board.  Part of it is my calendar math board compliments of Heather Perkins at Second Grade Perks!  I've had the hardest time finding a good calendar math system, but I'm so excited about this!  The rug is one of three I bought at IKEA.  They are $2.99 bath mats!

 These two pics are my back wall.  One side has my CRAFT board (compliments of Ladybug's Teacher Files), and the other side has my word wall.  (BTW, need some word wall cards?  I've got some on sale here!)

My desk faces the wall in the front corner away from the door.  This is the cleanest it will ever be.

Ready for a great year!!

Friday, July 19, 2013

Word Wall Cards!

We just got back from a week of vacation in Indiana.  While it was nice to rest and relax, it's time to get in the back to school mode!  I go back to work on July 31st, but I'm going to head in next week to start getting my room set up.  I actually sat down today to make a list of everything that needs to get done before school starts (or at least everything I could think of).  It fills up a whole page!  And most of it is printing various posters and charts for the walls.  Guess I better stock up on printer ink.

One of the items I've been wanting to get done is my word wall cards, and I got the first batch finished today!  These are Fry's First 100 words.  While they are geared more toward kindergarteners and early first graders, I will use some of them in my classroom with my ESOL students.  I plan on getting the second and third 100 done before school starts.  Here's a peek:

I know chevron is all the rage right now, so I decided to give them a chevron background.  They are for sale here!  I'm going to work on getting some large header cards done this weekend.  I've also only got one more center to finish for my Back to School Math Centers.  I'm hoping to get those posted this weekend too, so be sure and check back soon!

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

It's a Big Moment

Last night as I was getting ready to head to bed (far too late), I pulled my phone out of my purse to plug it into the charger and discovered a sweet little notification from TPT.  I had just sold my very first item!!  Thank you to whoever bought it, and if you have friends who want to buy, I'd love for them to purchase too!! (Here's the link to my store.). It's a great feeling to know that someone is willing to use their hard-earned money to buy something I've created!

Now, back to packing.  We leave for vacation tomorrow.  Only 22 days of summer left for me.  :(

Monday, July 8, 2013

Does My Child Have a Speech Problem?

My third son definitely gave us some problems when he was born.  He needed surgery at four months to correct a congenital defect in his skull where the bones had fused early.  Once we got that fixed, we thought we were home free.  Then, he was a late walker (18 months) and a late talker.  When we took him to an ENT, we discovered he had fluid in the ears.  He'd never had an ear infection, so it wasn't anything I had ever thought about until he failed the hearing test at the pediatrician.  He had tubes put in at 21 months and started talking soon after.  Thankfully, we didn't need to get him any special services, but I had the number for our state's Early Intervention program ready to go if he wasn't talking by two.

In my wanderings through Pinterest, I came across this infographic the other day.  I think it is really good for both parents and teachers, so they know what to expect.  And yes, it is OK if you're child is still mispronouncing words in kindergarten.  It may also be a great reference to have at conferences so your parents know what is developmentally appropriate or not.  (I was going to say "normal", but we all know normal is a relative term, right?)

I can't get the picture to get any bigger, but if you click on it, it'll take you right to the page with a bigger picture.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Getting Ready for Back to School!

I know, it's awful, isn't it?  I go back at the end of this month!  I know some teachers just finished, and I'm already searching for the Back to School sales.  My students (and my own children) will have their first day of school on August 7th.  Hopefully, it won't be 100+ degrees.

With that thought in mind, I've created some Back to School Literacy Centers!  There's six centers, because that's all I plan to use the first month of school.  Once I have the Daily 5 up and rolling completely, I plan on having 10 centers a month, but 6 is perfect for now.  I looked at the end of the year expectations for first grade, so all of these centers review the first grade skills my second graders will need to know when they come to me.

(The clip art is from the incomparable Ashley Hughes.  I love her clip art!  It's so crisp and clean, and it's perfect for kids' printables.)

I really tried to keep the activities simple and straight forward.  I am teaching a class of mainly English Learners this year, so I worked hard to make the activities clear and understandable, even for students who are not native speakers.

Be sure and go to my TPT store to check them out!  They come in full color and in black & white (for people who are more frugal than I am about their ink usage.  :) )

Math Centers will be coming soon!

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Happy Independence Day!

We're having a quiet day here today, since it's raining off and on all day.  We did get Baby Girl's crib fixed and rearranged the living room, but now we're just being lazy.  :-)

Hope everyone has a safe and happy holiday!

Friday, June 28, 2013

Five for Friday!

It's this week's Five for Friday post!  My week in a word:

IKEA (I love that place.)

Before I get into the IKEA love, let me share about the week.

1. I spent two days here:

Our system is moving into the digital world, so I learned about the new eClass platform we'll be using.  Since I teach second grade, I probably won't use a lot of resources available for student response (discussion groups and dropboxes), but I LOVE the quiz feature.  I can create a quiz, have the students take it in the computer lab, and it's graded automatically.  Anything that saves me grading time makes me happy.  :)

2. Wednesday was my next to oldest's birthday.  Now, I have two in double digits!  (And I feel old, but we won't talk about that.)

He got a Falcons t-shirt from his grandma.  (Please ignore the mess behind him.  We don't have a playroom, so my living room does double duty.  Sigh.)

And we went to a baseball game of our local Triple A team.  Go Braves!  Of course, when you take a two year old to a baseball game, you rarely see the end.  We lasted almost six innings.  That's pretty good, right??

3.  Today I went to IKEA.  I love that place.  I would decorate my entire house with items from there.  However, my bank account does not agree with my love of IKEA, so I'm confined to smaller purchases.

I bought these for my classroom (I used the photo from the IKEA site because the actual boxes are in the back of my car ~ another victim of the lack of storage at my house):

I have the black ones and some pink ones from last year.  Now, if they could only get purple, I'd have a complete set!

I also got the ubiquitous book boxes.  I've discovered that my students go through two sets every year.  Oh darn, another trip to IKEA in December to get new ones.  How sad.  ;-)

I got a set of bath mats too, but I couldn't find those on the website.  And, they're in the car too.  I'm taking it all to school on Monday to drop off.

4.  Of course, it wouldn't be a trip to IKEA if I didn't come home with some things for my house!

You know the glasses they have in the restaurant?  I got them.  8 as a matter of fact.  Awesome.

59 cents!  Are you kidding me!?!?

And I got to lunch with this little lady.  :-)

Her brother isn't a big fan of the paparazzi, so I rarely get a picture of him.  And even though I bought her a meal, she dined on ketchup.  Not so ladylike.  That's what happens when you have three older brothers.

5.  Finally, I have a wish list.  (Shh, don't tell my husband.)  I won't tell you how long it's been since we got new furniture for our living room, so I want to get some new things.

We'd need a new TV too so it could fit on the TV stand, so I'll be saving my pennies for awhile.  Our TV is almost as old as the birthday boy, and the volume buttons don't work anymore.  If we lose the remote, it's bad.

And, finally, I found one more classroom decoration.  Wouldn't this look great in my room?

How was your week?  Be sure and share!

Monday, June 24, 2013

Monday Freebie!

I hope everyone had a great weekend!  Mine was pretty quiet.  My (almost) ten year old had a Cub Scout event on Saturday.  It was a combination obstacle course, scavenger hunt, and race all rolled into one.  He had a great time and finished third in his age group!

Sunday, I went and got the baby a new car seat.  She's out of the infant seat and in her own "Big Girl" seat.  I can't believe how fast she's growing!

Last, but not least, I've got a freebie for you!  It's a 2013 - 2014 calendar that you can use to organize your life next school year!  Here's what the month of July looks like.


I kept it pretty simple so that there's plenty of room for you to write and plan!  I love having a two page spread.  It makes it much easier for me to see everything in front of me.  You can download it here on TPT!

Have a great week!