Thursday, December 29, 2011

Pink Obsession!

I'm always a fan of the color pink.  It's one of my favorites just in general, but I've fallen even more deeply in love with pink over the past few days.  It all started with one little shirt from Gap that I picked up for $5...  (I probably shouldn't say little because I had to get a size up because that's all they had left.)  That evening I saw Lilly from Lilly's Style rocking the exact same hot pink tee.  I proceeded to wear my pink tee two days in a row in two different ways.  (Thank goodness I was hanging out with different people both days!)  I ended up at Gap again today and found the Striped Colorblock T in their new arrivals.  I had a coupon for $10 off, so I went on a picked this one up before it could disappear.  

I was out with one of my really good friends this afternoon and we popped into William-Sonoma after grabbing lunch.  I love that store, but I don't cook enough to feel like I should spend money in there.  I've been joking with my mom about how she needs to buy me a Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer so that it can look pretty on my kitchen counter.  I'm sure if I had one I'd use it for something other than decorative purposes... While in William-Sonoma, I spotted this beauty...  

It's bright pink!  It totally doesn't match the colors in my kitchen, but if someone gave this baby to me as a gift, I'd decorate my kitchen around it!  LOL

Then, I lingered over to good 'ol Pinterest for some more pink-spiration.  Here are some of my favorite pink pics that I pinned.  (None of these images are mine, but ones I've grabbed from Pinterest.  If you click on the image you will be directed the pin and from there and go to the website it originated from!)

Pinned Image

I love pretty much any outfit that involves a cardigan.  Make it a pink cardigan and I'm sold!

Pinned Image

Stripes are another obsession right now.  Stripes and pink?  Double win!

Pinned Image

I love bright nail colors for the summer.  There's nothing like a bright pink pedi that makes my toes sandal ready!
Pinned Image

I used to be much more into bright home decor, but I've started being drawn to a lot more neutral colors in the past year or so.  These pink pots are wonderful, though!  I'd love these for my porch for the warm weather months!

Pinned Image

I really like this home office.  I'm always a fan of black, white, and gray, but the pink table / desk is totally a fun pop of color.  

Pinned Image

I'm really liking the idea of pairing neutrals with brights.  Gap has started getting in their new arrivals and I'm seeing this bright and neutral trend a lot.  


I then somehow started looking for pictures of classrooms that incorporate the color pink.  It's not your traditional classroom decor color, but I think if done the right way pink in the classroom can be really great!  I know boys aren't as opposed to pink as they used to be (my 10 year old brother says hot pink is cool, but not other shades of pink).  I'm really tempted by some of the photos to purchase some new decorations for my classroom for next year, but I'm still thinking I need to cut back on the school spending for the time being.  We'll just have to wait and see...

Pinned Image

I love this little classroom library area.  A lot of this looks like the type of dorm decor that you find really cheap in stores at back to school time!

Pinned Image

Pink and zebra!  OMG!  For some reason I've fallen in love with this combo for the classroom.  Just add in some lime green and black accents!

Pinned Image

I have that file organizer in pink and another small one in black.  I love them!  I got both of mine from Mardel.  Maybe one day, someday, somehow, my desk will be this chic and organized.  

Pinned Image

Here is another super cute zebra / pink / green combo.  I've seen this toolbox desk organization idea on Pinterest a few times and think this may be one of my project for the summer.

Pinned Image

How cute is this?!?  Just looking at the size I think this is a beverage bucket.  I'm gonna have to keep an eye out for one on clearance next summer!

Are you a fellow pink lover?  
Do you decorate with pink in your classroom?  

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

11 in 11 (Linky Party!)

I'm linking up with the ladies of Miss Kindergarten / Outfitted and Inspired for this end of the year Linky Party!

  Miss Kindergarten

How to link up:
Create a blog post sharing your favorite 11 things in 2011. Add the button to your post using the code from above. Then link up below, making sure to link directly to your post, not just your blog.

11. Favorite movie you watched:
10. Favorite TV series:
9. Favorite restaurant:
8. Favorite new thing you tried:
7. Favorite gift you got:
6. Favorite thing you pinned:
5. Favorite blog post:
4. Best accomplishment:
3. Favorite picture:
2. Favorite memory:
1. Goal for 2012:

So, here are my 11 in 11!

11.  Movie you watched.

This is actually a four way tie...  Is that allowed?  I don't really go to the movies very often because I hate spending $10+, so I leave it to Netflix most of the time.  I honestly probably saw maybe 6 or 7 movies this year, which is actually a lot for me.  Out of the few movies that I did see, I have 4 that I really really enjoyed.

The first one of the new year was "Never Say Never."  
Yes, the Justin Bieber movie!  I loved it.  It's actually a really good story about how he became so famous and it really shows how talented he is.  This kid has way more natural talent than a lot of other musicians out there right now.  My little brother wants to be like him, so we went to this one together, although I think I ended up liking the movie a lot better than he did!  It made me love JB in an "I want him to be my little brother" sort of way.

Next comes "Horrible Bosses."  I don't know if I have professed my undying love for Jason Bateman on here before, so now you know.  He's amazing.  I must say that I'm quite a fan of Charlie Day now as well, though.  This is seriously the funniest movie I've seen in years!  

The third one is "Crazy Stupid Love."  I think this movie is one of the best love story movies in a long time.  I'm not even really a big fan of love stories, but this one was just great.  I just watched it again from Netflix last week and loved it just as much the second time around.  The cast is perfect and I will never argue with seeing a shirtless Ryan Gosling.

Okay, the final movie is one I'd been anxiously awaiting for at least a year, possibly more...  "The Muppets"

I grew up watching all of the old Muppet movies, but a few years ago my mom bought me all of them on DVD.  I still love them!  I think the best thing about the Muppets is that while they're totally child appropriate, they have some great humor that only adults will get.  I had really high expectations for this new movie and it totally met them!  I went with my brother and 2 of my friends and I think it was us 3 girls in our mid-20s that were laughing the hardest in the theater!  

10.  Favorite TV Series

Oh gosh...  I watch a lot of TV, but I'm going to give a shout out to what is probably my favorite new TV show--  "Up All Night."  Will Arnett and Christina Applegate make a wonderful pair and watching them struggle through parenthood is hilarious.  Watch it.  Love it.

Honorable Mentions:  Parenthood, New Girl, Raising Hope, Community, and Cougar Town.  I have a ton more, but I'll stick to my network shows.

9.  Favorite Restaurant

I've been searching for a good sushi place for years and finally found one again.  It's just a local place called Wasabi, but it's awesome.  I also found that I have fellow sushi loving friends this year, so I don't have to call upon my mom every time I want sushi.  Delish.

8.  Favorite New Thing You Tried

I really can't think of anything special that I tried this year, but I have attempted to mix up my workouts a bit more this year.  Over the summer I started Jillian Michael's 30 Day Shred workout DVD.  I actually liked it quite a bit and dropped a few pounds, but I didn't stick with it as well as I should have.  I'm hoping to get back to that workout routine in the near future.  The other new workout I tried was Zumba!  A good friend from high school and college had started going to a class at the Y once a week and invited me to join her.  I finally started going about 2 months ago and it's super fun.  I feel horribly uncoordinated when I go, but I still enjoy it and keep going back!

7.  Favorite Gift You Got

In all honesty, I haven't received any fantastic gifts in a long time just because nobody in my family has much extra money these days.  I typically buy the nice stuff for myself since nobody else does for me.  I've received some good gifts, but nothing all that exciting.  This Christmas I got a great 66 pocket hanging jewelry holder (finally no more tangled necklaces), some fun green Kitchen Aid mixing bowls, and gift cards to iTunes, Target, Panera, and Dollar Tree.  2010 was my big purchase year anyway...  New TV, BluRay, washer and dryer, AND a 2011 Nissan Sentra.  2011 has been recovering from those purchases.  LOL

6.  Favorite Thing You Pinned

Oh Pinterest, how I love thee.  You will be the end of me.  I will die of over-inspiration.  

My current pin count is 2,610...  I'm sure that number will increase by the end of the day.  It's hard to pick out a favorite out of that many, but here is one thing I actually ended up recreating successfully.
 Pinned Image       

Here was my final product...  Success!  I bought a brown frame on major clearance at Hobby Lobby and painted it black.  Then I gave it a little distressing to let some of the brown show through again.

5.  Favorite Blog Post

Like Pinterest, my blogging obsession has gotten a little out of hand.  I can't really pick out a favorite post, but I can tell you a little about my blogging history and how it turned into my latest addiction.  

Before last spring, my only experience with blogging was making this blog for first year teachers as a group project for one of my grad school courses.  My instructor for the class was impressed with this blog and asked me to teach a workshop on blogging and technology in the classroom.  I decided if I was going to be teaching about blogging I should learn more about it. Fast forward about 9 months and here we are today!  

Somewhere in my blog lurking I stumbled upon J's Everyday Fashion.  I love J's blog and reading it makes me feel like I'm reading posts by a friend.  Up until that point I'd really only read blogs for teachers, so this opened up a whole new realm of blogging to me...  Fashion!  My Google Reader is filled now with teaching, fashion, and decorating blogs.  But, J's blog was the first one I really started to follow on a daily basis!

4.  Best Accomplishment

I don't feel like I've accomplished a lot of really big, exciting things, but in the past year I have completed my Master's Degree (okay that was technically in 2010, but I got the diploma and the raise in 2011) and I have taken on some new roles and responsibilities in my school.  One of our former teachers took over as principal this school year and I had a lot of his former roles passed down to me.  I feel really honored to be trusted with some of these things because I'm still one of the youngest teachers in my building.  A fellow teacher and I had to give a presentation to the school board last month and I must say, we rocked it!  As I previously mentioned, I was also asked to give a day-long workshop to teachers in my district about using web tools in the classroom.  Like I said, it's nothing all that big, but I do feel as though I've got a lot entrusted to me and I still feel like I'm a relatively new and young teacher.  I guess I must be doing something right!

3.  Favorite Picture

Wow, this is a hard one as well.  I have to say this was kind of a hard year for me as I had 5 of my close friends move out of state.  It's been kinda rough for me, but I try to remind myself that I now have some new and exciting places to go vacation to!  

This was the past pic of "The Fab 5" before everyone (okay just 2 of them) moved away.  I actually get to see all of them within the next 2 weeks, but unfortunately it's not at the same time.  I think the next time we'll all be reunited is next July for a wedding.  In the meantime, we have Facebook, phones, and maybe a vacation or 2 to keep us connected!

2.  Favorite Memory

Another toughy...  I think this spring break was by far my best ever.  It was a whirlwind of traveling...  I was in Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, Missouri, Illinois, and New York all within about 36 hours with about a 60 degree temperature difference between Texas and NY.  Add in New Jersey and Connecticut later in the week and back to Kansas and I was all traveled out!  It was amazing, though!  

My spring break started off by getting to see my second favorite band of all time, Duran Duran!  (Second only to Huey Lewis and the News who I got to see in concert a couple years ago.)  I'm pretty much obsessed with 80s music and have loved Duran Duran for years.  We drove down to the TX / OK border for a Friday night concert, made a quick swoop down to Dallas to visit some cousins, and then headed back to Kansas for a Sunday morning flight from Kansas City to New York!  

1.  Goal for 2012

I'm pretty sure I'm pushing off the home buying goal to 2013, so I think my biggest goal for the new year is to become social again...  I've been pretty anti-social (well for me) the past few months after my friends moved and I've really been wanting to meet new people and get involved in new activities.  I'm hoping to get plugged into a new Bible study and get more involved in my church again.  I'm hopeful that the Lord will provide me with these opportunities and that my introverted side won't get the best of me!

Monday, December 26, 2011

Merry After Christmas

I wasn't really online much in the past couple days, so I neglected to wish everyone a merry Christmas!  I hope you all had a wonderful time with family and friends.  And, since most of you are teachers as well, I hope that you enjoy the rest of your time off work.

I have quite the "to do" list for my break...  I cleaned and organized my bedroom closet on my first day off and am soon going to attempt the basement closet / bedroom.  I know I'm going to be moving this summer and I'm not sure where yet, so I am trying to weed out extra clutter!  (I'm 90% sure I will be downsizing for at least a year while I save money to buy a house!)  I have piles all over with things to take to resell, donate to Goodwill, or give to my mom to try.  

All of this cleaning has really motivated me to do the same in my classroom!  I started some of that before break, but I think that is going to be one of my big classroom projects this semester.  It's amazing how much you can accumulate in 5 years of teaching!  I think that is one slight disadvantage to staying in the same school / classroom for long periods of time--  I've never been forced to weed through things hard core!  

So, here is my winter break to do list:

  • Clean and organize clothes
  • Donate, sell, and get rid of stuff I don't wear or need anymore
  • Create state assessment prep quizzes
  • Create comprehension posters for my classroom (thanks, Pinterest)
  • Organize seasonal decor
  • Print out folder games and other activities I've been saving from Pinterest and Teachers Pay Teachers
  • Update my class website on Shutterfly
I tried going shopping today, but really didn't have much success with the after Christmas sales...  Two Targets and I left both empty-handed.  I think it's because last year I bought everything 75% off and so 50% off was "too much" for me to spend.  LOL  I did get a fun hot pink tee and some great work pants at Gap for a total of $15!  The pants alone were originally $59.50, so I was pretty pleased.  Other than that I wasn't too impressed and have decided to wait out for better markdowns in another week or two.  This whole cleaning and organizing thing has also encouraged me to not add a whole lot more to my already too large wardrobe!  I'm thinking I may try to clothing shopping ban like I did for school stuff...  I stuck to that shopping ban quite well!

Did you get any good shopping deals today?

Are you working on school projects over your break?

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Who's Doing the Christmas Break Happy Dance With Me?

I am (almost) officially on Christmas break!  Today was the last day for students, but the teachers have to go in tomorrow for a work day and short inservice.  Thankfully, I should be done with my day at school by 2 p.m. and can get my break rolling soon after!  

I don't know about your schools, but my school has a lot of Christmas traditions.  Our new principal was a teacher in our building for years, so it's been nice that he's carried on most of those traditions this year.  One such tradition is to do a Christmas carol sing along on the last day before break.  We ended up doing a lovely rendition of "The 12 Days of Christmas" in which many of the teachers acted out each of the parts.  I must say I was a pretty awesome "7 swans a swimming"!  

Our staff hasn't really been very much into having a big Christmas party together for several years, so this year our social committee voted to hold our get together after school at the school.  We did an "Amazing Race" type game in teams where we had to solve clues and do different activities around the building.  I'll admit I was a little apprehensive at first, but it ended up being a lot of fun.  It was hilarious seeing all of our teachers wildly running through the hallways decked out in special Christmas headbands for our teams.  (We were the peppermint team!)  I think one of the funniest parts was when the Latchkey kids came out in the hallway to see what all of the running and screaming was about...  They were quite entertained by the masses of teachers in decorative headbands (peppermints, trees, gingerbread men, reindeer) literally running through the hallways.  One of my former students cried out, 
"I didn't know teachers could have so much fun!"  LOL

I'm hoping to get a fair about of school stuff accomplished over the break.  My goal is to try to have my act together and set a good example for my student teacher who starts back with us in January.  I've been getting all sorts of cool ideas from Pinterest and I think this may finally be my opportunity to get some of these projects accomplished.  I usually go into the school one day over break to do some cleaning and organizing before the new semester starts.  

Speaking of...  I'll share a quick story about that with you...

Two winter breaks ago I went in on a Sunday morning to work in my classroom.  I noticed that there were some tools and other things scattered about the building, which was odd, but I figured maintenance was working on stuff and was coming back to finish.  A couple other staff members came in to work later that day and also found these things odd.  We found out the next day that our school had actually been broken into that Sunday morning and that from what they could tell from the security cameras it was when I arrived that they were scared off!  Yes, I was alone in the building with armed burglars present! I just have to say thanks to the Lord for keeping me safe that day!

Okay, enough with my ramblings...  I leave you with my current favorite Christmas song:

"All I Want For Christmas Is You"
Justin Bieber and Mariah Carey

Does anyone else find it slightly creepy that she's acting all sexy and yet is old enough to be his mom?  Despite the slight creepy factor, I love this new version of this song!  Yes, I'm a 26 year old Justin Bieber fan.  Blame it on the fact that I have a 10 year old brother and that I hang out with 3rd graders all day...

Blog Award!

I've been given a Liebster Award by two very sweet blog followers recently. The purpose of this award is to spotlight up-and-coming blogs with less than 200 followers.

The rules are:
{1} Copy and paste the award on your blog.
{2} Thank the giver and link back to them.
{3} Reveal your top 5 picks and let them know by leaving a comment on their blog.

So, here are my 5 blogs that I think you should all check out!

I also want to give a shout out to my two award givers:

Monday, December 19, 2011

Casual Monday

We only have 2 days with kids this week, plus one work day, and then my Christmas break begins! It rained ALL day long and the weather is turning more severe with sleet and snow... All I wanted to do today was come back home to my comfy couch and my warm, cozy sweats!

Part of me is hoping for a snow day tomorrow. 1.) I prefer snow days before Christmas break so that it doesn't interfere with state assessment prep. 2.) I HATE driving across town to work in bad weather. 3.) I really enjoy sleeping in and wearing sweats. 4.) It's not like any learning is going to happen on the last day before Christmas break anyway. 5.) Maybe I could get some work done here at home.

I'm not holding my breath for a snow day, or even a delay. I saw on Facebook that some of my teacher friends a few hours away have already had school called for tomorrow, but I don't know how their weather compares to ours. I honestly should be in bed right now since I have a feeling my commute is going to be a bit long tomorrow, but I've already been on a bad sleep schedule for a few weeks now.

Anyway, I wanted to share my "casual Monday" work outfit from today. It wasn't an official jeans day, but during weeks like this it's pretty much assumed we're going to dress down a bit. I bought this blazer a few weeks ago at American Eagle with my employee discount, sale, and coupon. I've been really into fashion blogs lately and blazers are all over the place, but until now I really had never found one that fit right and was an acceptable price for me. I think this outfit is the perfect mix of casual and still dressy / professional.

Anyway, if you're still working this week, I wish you the best with these last few days with your students. If you're not a teacher, I wish you the best with whoever you work with and hope that they don't drive you nuts. (I seem to forget that not everyone in the world gets 2ish weeks off work for Christmas break...)

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Christmas Gifts for Parents

Every year I seem to struggle with coming up with Christmas gift ideas for parents. I try to come up with something that is personal and creative, but all the while won't cost me my entire paycheck to reproduce for 20+ students. I'm pretty sure I've settled on making picture tiles again because they were super easy and cheap.

I made them for Mother's Day last year, so you can check out that post here. I think I'm going to attempt using the spray Mod Podge and see how that works. I think that'll speed up the process!

I've been finding all sorts of cute ideas on Pinterest and have pinned them on a few of my boards.


I thought I'd share a few of my favorite Pinterest findings... If you click on the image you will be directed the the pin and from there can go to the website link.

Pinned Image

Obviously this would be simplified a lot if I did it with my third graders, but you could totally make a cute collage Christmas tree with buttons and scrapbook paper. I picked up some really great unfinished wooden frames at Dollar Tree that would be good for this project as well.

Pinned Image

I think this would be really cute to do with little kids. I'm not totally sure about how I feel about painting / inking feet, but I know if I were a parent this would be a picture to treasure.

Pinned Image

I'm pretty sure I'm going to have my class make these cards to go along with their tiles. Aren't these adorable? I feel like painting hands would be a lot less messy than painting feet, making this project a bit more appealing.

Pinned Image

Again with the feet... I love this idea, but I'm not 100% sure on the mess factor. I think I'd definitely have to have some additional adult supervision and major painter's plastic on the floor of my classroom.

What Christmas crafts are on your classroom agendas over the next couple weeks?

Tuesday, December 6, 2011


I went out of town this past weekend to do some Christmas shopping and to visit some friends and family. I've really been in the mood to get out of town since my life seems to be super lame these days. I must say, I had a GREAT weekend. I got a lot of Christmas shopping done, had a really fun time visiting my family and friends, and even found a new teacher store!

My friend I visited is also a teacher. In fact, you can see pics of her classroom here from when I was up to help her and visit back in August. Anyway, she'd mentioned the store US Toy to me before, but we'd never made it over there 'til now. Mardel is usually the teacher store we hit up when I'm in town (partially due to the fact that it is closer to her house.) Anyway, US Toy ended up being great! We didn't spent a lot of time there, which is fine since I'm still on my school spending diet, but I did pick up two goodies there. Their website doesn't really carry much as far as educational items, but they do have a lot of toys and offer free everyday shipping. I was really impressed with their selection of teacher books and picked up a great reading comprehension book. I also got a set of two comprehension spinners that I've intended to get forever, but always seem to be out of stock where ever I look! Plus, I signed up for their teacher reward program and got 10% off my purchase. I definitely plan on heading back there next summer after round 2 of our reading training and my brain is full of fresh, new ideas!
Click here to view larger image

I feel like all I talk about on here is shopping on what's supposed to be my teacher blog, but it is one of the things that I'm really good at and that I do really enjoy. LOL I'd eventually like to get into posting things that I make and even venturing into TpT, but I'm not there yet. Maybe that'll be one of my (many) projects for Christmas break and summer break.!

I also had to make a trip to J.Crew to return my Cyber Monday purchase that I mentioned last week. Don't you hate it when you order something in the same size as another item you have and it fits completely different? And then they're sold out in the store? Yeah, me too!
I swapped it for this top, Crochet lace-front tee which I'd been eyeing online. I'm not a full price shopper, so I was happy that they let me apply the teacher discount to the price difference. Still a little splurge for me, but this is definitely an item I love and not just like!

I also picked up a "shocking pink" (we're talking neon, people, the picture makes it look tame) cardigan at the J.Crew Factory store. That color is definitely different and I liked that it was on a super sale (way cheaper than it is online right now). I wore it to school today and joked that I'm going to wear it during state assessments so that when the students look at me they will remember to highlight. Oh wait, I guess it's not joking since I'm actually serious! LOL Does anyone else get crazy thoughts like that while shopping, or is it just me?
Factory mohair cardigan

The final "goodie" for this post was actually a pleasant surprise to me. I did a major after Christmas shopping spree last year with my gift cards and bought TONS of decorations at Target and even Wal-Mart for 50 and 75% off. As I unpacked my decorations I found a bag full of gift items that I purchased for my students! I bought goodie bags, cards, mini puzzles, and pencils, plus I always buy extra boxes of crayons during back to school time so I already have those on hand, too! What a nice surprise, huh? I'm totally stocking up again this year because buying 20 small gifts for kids can really get pricey if you're not careful. Now I just need to grab some candy and I'm ready to assemble my student gifts! I'm sure I'll have a post in the near future with more about our Christmas projects and gifts! :)

Well, that's all for now. I ramble, but just like shopping, it's something I'm good at!

How was your weekend? Get any good deals?

Monday, December 5, 2011

How Do You Do Math Centers?

We all have strengths and weaknesses. My strength (in my opinion) is my reading work stations. They rock. I have so many great resources and ideas for so many more. They run smoothly (most days) and my students truly enjoy spending time at their work stations.
My math centers, on the other hand, leave much to be desired. I actually like teaching math (most days), but ever since we changed to Everyday Math for our curriculum, my math centers have suffered. EM jumps around so much that it makes it very difficult to "reinforce" things that you haven't hit very hard. I also struggle with the fact that my math centers time is also my pull-out time for my special ed and gifted students. I feel like I have to cram in the "important" math stuff into the whole group hour of math. I hate that a chunk of my students miss out on math centers each day, but there are just some things I don't have a whole lot of control over.
I typically have 5 centers going each week (sometimes 4 if it's a short week). I try to have each group working on a variety of activities and mix it up with individual and group / partner activities.

Here are some of the things that we do in our math centers:

Word Problem Cards - Have bought these problem solving cards from Lakeshore over the summer because one of my teaching colleagues uses them and we all know that kids can always get better at word problems! I have the kids write in a math notebook and show their work. I usually put 4 or 5 cards in the basket each week and then have the kids write their own word problems when they are done. - This is one of my favorite websites for math practice. I love it because it's self-checking and I can just walk around and see on the screen how the kids are doing. I have the students do these either with partners or on their own and set a goal for the percent correct for that day. (For example, if they're doing subtraction with regrouping and it's review I might require 90% correct or better. If it's something new I may just look for 75 or 80% correct to start.)

Take It To Your Seat Folder Games - These folder games are awesome. I have a 2-3 set and a 3-4 set, so I have a lot of skills and topics to choose from. Assembling these can be a little time consuming, but it's worth it in the long run. (This has been a summer project.) The kids work in their small groups to complete the activity.

Everyday Math Games - Our math series has a lot of games built into the lessons, but I'm pretty awful at fitting in time during the whole group math block to play games. I've found, though, that if I teach the kids how to play games during the whole group time they're pretty good about being able to play them during their math centers. I usually give them a choice of 2 or 3 games so that they're not stuck playing the same thing for the entire centers block.

Basic Facts Practice - One thing that I really feel our kids lack is knowledge of their basic math facts (addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division). I try to give them opportunities to practice their facts in different ways. is a great website for math practice in all areas, but I do really like it for this because it shows how many problems they've answered in a certain amount of time. I also use some of the EM games to for this practice as well. Some weeks we just to plain 'ol math drills and timed tests, too.

State Assessment Prep - Math centers is a great opportunity to work on state assessment skills that our curriculum doesn't hit very hard. I've made a lot of practice sheets of my own that hit our tested indicators and the state provides practice tests online that I have the students complete during their center time as well.

Other Lakeshore (and Dollar Tree) Math Games - I've had pretty good luck getting some center activities and games on clearance from Lakeshore. A few of my games I've purchased at half price or less! I like Lakeshore's activities because they're ususally pretty engaging and work on specific skills. Dollar Tree has also pleasantly surprised me with their selection of math (and reading) games and activities. It seems to be hit and miss there, but I always check their supply whenever I go in!

Accelerated Math - Many of you are probably familiar with Accelerated Reader, well ACC Math is by the same company. I assign the students with objectives and the computer prints out assignments over those objectives. The students then fill out scan cards and I have a little scanner hooked up that grades the assignments. Based on their performance they either continue practicing those objectives or move onto other skills. There's a lot more to it than that, but that's the gist of it. I love that it does the grading for me, plus most of the kids actually like doing it because it's kind of "grown up" work.

Dice Games - EM has some games with dice and some I've made up on the spot, but we seem to be doing a lot with dice these days. They're very easy games and dice are so cheap and easy to get ahold of. Basic dice can be found at Dollar Tree and the more unique ones (9 sided, double digit, etc.) can usually be found a teacher supply store or resource center. Here are a few websites for ideas: and

I organize all of the materials into colored baskets from Dollar Tree. The chart on our front wall lists the students names, their basket color, and what center they're at. It's super easy to manage and stay fairly well organized!

Well, there you have it. I wouldn't say my math centers are the best or the worst, but there's room for added improvement. Things get stepped up a lot after Christmas break as we draw closer to state assessments. I usually get to complete a wish list of items I want before the end of the school year and I have a few new math items on my watch list. I love getting the kids engaged in math. I think if I'd had a lot of these activities when I was in school I would have enjoyed math a lot more than I did. I was one of those kids who got by and did well in math, but hated every minute of it! I don't want my students to feel that way about anything I teach!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Cyber Monday!!!

Lakeshore is having a Cyber Monday sale where you can get 30% off any non-sale item. They've also got a lot of good items on sale that might be worth checking out as well. The checkout code is CYBER and is only good today!

My other favorite school store, Mardel, is offering free shipping on all orders today with the code CYBER MONDAY.

Unfortunately for me, I put myself on a major school spending diet after multiple shopping sprees last summer. (I've been really good sticking to it, too!) I don't think I'm going to take advantage of these deals today, but if I remember correctly they sometimes have good sales the later winter and spring and I may give in at that time.

I did make a purchase for myself online from J.Crew and bought a sweater I have been eyeing for a while. On sale, extra 25% off, and free shipping? Yes, please! I'm praying that it fits and was worth the wait! Isn't that color delightful? I love it!

Tippi sweater

I've never really done much (okay, any) shopping on Cyber Monday, but my mom has hit some good deals in the past. (She got my favorite Guess purse on an amazing sale a few years ago from Macy's.)My e-mail inbox was filled with discounts from all of my favorite stores this morning and of course I had to check them out.

Do you shop Cyber Monday sales (or any other online sales)?

What deals have you found today?

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Black Friday Lowdown

I mentioned in an earlier post that I was actually going to be working on Black Friday. The girls at my local Aerie store are always super nice when I come in so I talk to them a lot and during one of my recent visits the manager asked if I'd be interested in coming in to work for the day. I'd never worked retail before, but I certainly have plenty of experience shopping, so I decided to go for it and do something different for the day. With the exception of an office job I had for a year in college, all of my other employment has been related to teaching and / or working with kids. I must say that I had a really good day working. I found it really fun to help people pick out gifts and just do something different for a change. I was completely exhausted when my shift was over, but I had a lot of fun while I was there. (I was functioning on about 3 hours of sleep and did some shopping before my 6:45 a.m. shift started! Soooooo totally not typical of me!)

I really didn't do much Black Friday shopping this year. I'm really not one to go out early anyway. I value my sleep very much and nothing that I see in the ads is usually worth giving that up. Check out this pic I took when I drove by Best Buy on Wednesday night... The store was still open and there were already people camping out! Insane, if you ask me!

Anyway, I had my list of gifts for my family planned out and was able to pick up a few of those items on sale this weekend. While I was out, I found a few goodies for myself as well. I really tried not to spend a lot of money since I had a big shopping trip planned for next weekend. My goal was to save as much of my shopping budget as possible for the stores that we don't have here in town. Some of the sales this weekend were too good to pass up, though!

The rest of my days off have been pretty chill. I probably should have been working on some school projects on my to do list, but I've really been enjoying just relaxing. I got to see some family that was in town, hang out with my brother, and do a little shopping with my mom. There's no harm in just taking some time to chill and lay low, right?

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Student Teaching

One of the things I'm very excited about in the coming months is that I will be welcoming a student teacher into my classroom for the spring semester. She came in and did some lessons with my class last spring and we got along so well that she changed her student teaching placement to come out our school! (My school always gets really good test scores and has very successful students in all grade levels and so we typically get a lot of college students that want to come out and see what we do.) I had a wonderful experience with my own cooperating teacher and I've actually hoped that I would someday be able to (hopefully) provide the same experience for someone else. Well, that time has come!

I had a talk with my class about our ST and how things will be a little different next semester. I think some of the kids aren't quite sure about this idea yet, but I explained to them that having two teachers in the classroom opens up some new opportunities for us. In my experience I did the traditional block where I was in charge, but my CT and I also took on a "divide and conquer" attitude and worked with the kids in smaller groups. I'm hoping to do the same thing as we prepare for state assessments.

I was also offered the opportunity to take a mentoring workshop since I'll be hosting a student teacher and was able to talk with a lot of other CT's about their experiences. I think the biggest thing that works to my benefit in this is that I was in that same position exactly 5 years ago. (My ST is actually a few years older than me! LOL) I feel like I'm still fresh enough in the game to relate to being new, but I'm also seasoned enough to know how it goes. I hope that all of those things help me to be a good mentor for her. I'm excited to share my own wisdom and experiences as well as get new ideas and someone else's perspective on teaching. I think my class this year will provide her with a great variety of learners (I have gifted, Autistic, LD, and some with ADHD in my class). They're a great group of kids to work with and I think she's going to be a wonderful personality match for them as well.

If you've welcomed a student teacher into your classroom, I'd love your feedback and advice. I got a lot of great insight at my mentoring workshop, but I know there's so much more to know and share! Please give me your feedback!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Thursday Ramblings...

Today would probably qualify as one of the longest school days ever. It started yesterday with me staying at school until 7 p.m. preparing for our literacy walk-throughs today. I got into a very motivated mindset and just kept working on stuff and cleaning my classroom from top to bottom. They ended up not even coming to my room today, but I had a meeting during my plan time and had to leave my room midway through reading work stations to go see a model lesson in another classroom. Then this afternoon we had our big fund raiser party, followed by recess duty, bus duty, and then an hour of after-school tutoring. Add that onto the emotional worry of one coworker having surgery today and news that another was in a bad car accident on the way to work this morning, I can safely say it was a draining day. (Thankfully both are okay!)

Do you ever have those days that just don't seem to end?

This was definitely one of those days.

On a happier note, tomorrow is Friday and I have a weekend of relaxing ahead of me. Next week is going to be a breeze compared to the last few and I am hoping that I'll be able to get "caught up" on some blog posts that I've wanted to do. I've also snagged a very small part-time job for Thanksgiving weekend to bring in a few extra bucks for Christmas and some sweet discounts. Yes, I'm going to work on one of my days off. Crazy, huh? I'm pretty sure I'm gonna be worn out (I'm planning on hitting up some sales before going in to work at 6:45 a.m.), but I think it's gonna be fun to do something different for a change!

Speaking of working... I do plan on working on blogging!

Here are a few topics I'm thinking about blogging about in the (hopefully near) future... What do you want to hear about from me?
  • Literacy work stations
  • Math centers
  • Classroom organization
  • Whole group reading block
  • Assessment prep
  • ???

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Weekend Recovery

I feel like school has been a marathon of various activities in the past few weeks and continues to follow this pattern... Only 7 days until Thanksgiving break! Between now and then we have a music program, Literacy First walk-throughs, a fund raiser party, Thanksgiving staff luncheon, a presentation to the school board, and I supposed in the midst of that I'm going to teach my students a thing or two as well. I've really been cherishing my weekends since my weeks have been jam-packed with school events.

I'd been really feeling bad for myself and wasn't enjoying weekends just a few weeks ago. In the past year five close friends have moved out of state. These were pretty much all of those friends that I'd spend my weekends with, call up to go shopping with, grab dinner and a movie with, etc. A lot of my other friends that live nearby are married and / or have kids so that changes things as well... They're not quite as spur-of-the-moment as the others were. I've been throwing a lot of pity parties lately... I'll even admit that I was dreading a few weekends because I knew I had nothing to do. The work week at least kept me busy and occupied so that I forgot about my lack of friends nearby.

Then, school got really crazy (again) and I realized that maybe my lack of things to do on the weekends was a blessing in disguise. First off, I've spent wayyy less money on entertainment and going out to eat. (I'm telling myself that this saved money counts toward my travel fund to go see my friends.) Second, I've enjoyed the time of rest and relaxation. Yesterday I cleaned my house, cleaned out my car, worked out, went to church, made some yummy pizza rolls I found on Pinterest, watched some K-State football, talked to a close friend on the phone, shopped a teensy bit, and then watched "Back to the Future 2" with my little brother. All in all, it was a splendid day and I didn't really feel bad for myself at any point in the day.

I'm not saying that my pity parties are over or that I don't miss my friends, but I'm going to try my best to not spend my quiet weekends alone feeling sorry for myself. I'm going to (try to) think of them as a blessing and a reward for work I do during the week. Weekends are my "me time" right now... Time for wearing sweats, watching movies, painting my nails, phone calls with friends across the time zones, and online "shopping dates." Eventually, I hope to get out a meet new people and spend my weekends being a bit more social, but for now I am going focus on keeping my head above water at school during the week and taking time to recover during those two lovely days off.

What is your weekend recovery?

Monday, November 7, 2011

Fashion Week Day 7: 7 Fabulous Fall Finds

I wasn't planning on dragging Fashion Week into this week, but I ended up being so busy being gone to my conference and meetings last week that this fell on my priority list. I wanted to wrap up this little series on fashion for teachers by sharing a few great items that I've picked up this fall. (Actually I've cut back on my shopping this fall so some of this was purchased during my last big shopping event when I was on vacation at the end of the summer. I'm planning on another big shopping trip out of town sometime between Thanksgiving and Christmas!)

Here's a few items for work (and play) that could be great for any teacher's wardrobe!

J. Crew V-Neck Sweater - The one I purchased is no longer online, but I must admit I have an addiction to v-neck sweaters. I think they're the most flattering style on me and they're great for layering! I bought a lovely rich turquoise sweater.

Banana Republic V-Neck Sweater - I bought this one in dark charcoal and have been wearing it quite a bit. It's definitely a great go with anything, wear to anything sweater. I'd like to pick up the fuchsia one once it goes on sale or when I have another coupon.

Banana Republic Timeless Crewneck Tee - I've really needed some good layering tees to go under my sweaters, but my collection was really old and gross. I bought these in black and white and have been wearing them a lot ever since. It's a good quality tee that's great for layering.

Banana Republic Sweater Blazer - This was probably my biggest splurge (even though I hit a great sale and had a coupon on top of that) and the item that was most unlike anything else. Okay, gray sweaters aren't unique for me, but the blazer part is. I've been wearing it a lot and I think it's gonna get some good wear as we near the holidays.

AE Slouchy Popover - This sweatshirt is amazingly comfy. It's like a cross between terry cloth and fleece. It's been getting a lot of weekend wear and come winter on those "this should be a snow day but it's not" days I may pair it with khakis and a collared shirt for work!

Gap Super Lightweight Long and Lean Jeans - To say these are jeans is a bit misleading because they're more like dress pants in the cut of jeans. These were the one pair of dress pants I picked up before school started this year. Remember how I said dress pants are the hardest thing for me to find? More should be like this.

Gap Strapless Print Maxi Dress - This is a prime example of taking something and making it work appropriate. I found this dress on MAJOR clearance a few weeks ago ($7.48!) and had to have it. It was too chilly by that point to wear it alone so I've paired it with both a cardigan and a denim jacket to make it appropriate for work and the cooler temps. This is also a prime example of how deals in store are typically way better than online... It's still $48.99 online!

Have you found an fab items for fall? What are your cold weather staples? Please share! I'd love to hear your comments and feedback!


Well, there you go! I hope everyone enjoyed Fashion Week. I had a lot of fun sharing these things with everyone and I'm thinking I'll do this again in the spring!

In the meantime, check back soon for some school related posts. I've got some neat Pinterest-related finds to share and I'm also planning on sharing some things on how I run reading work stations! See you soon!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Fashion Week Day 6: Strengths and Weaknesses

We all have strengths and weaknesses in pretty much every area of our lives. I feel like I'm really good at some things in my career and suck at other aspects of it. Fashion can be the same way. I'm not a fashion blogger for a reason... I'm pretty sure people would get sick of me after a couple weeks because I have some major flaws in my work wardrobe. At least I acknowledge this fact and I will hopefully continue to work on them.

Here are a few of my weak areas:
  1. I'm a slave to black pants. Dress pants suck. They never seem to fit me the right way or fit my price range. I pretty much only wear black pants because that's what usually looks best on me. I have other colors of dress pants, but I really don't wear them all that often. My legs are not best feature and dress pants seem to usually highlight that fact. I know I need to try a little harder to branch out, but sometimes it's really really hard.
  2. I forget there are a lot of great stores other than the ones I usually shop at. Sometimes we just get into habits of going to the same places. I'm totally a creature of habit as you may have figured out on Day 1. I neglect a lot of great stores a lot of times. I feel like I'm in an awkward spot as far as my age and style. Juniors isn't really my fit or style anymore, but I'm not ready for "mom jeans" or cheesy light-up sweaters in the misses department. (No offense to any moms out there... I know plenty of you are stylish ladies.) I think a lot of department stores in particular neglect to have sections for those of us in the middle that are also on a budget. I know if I spent more time looking, though, I'd find I'm missing out on a lot of good stuff.
  3. I buy things I don't really need. Okay, I don't need hardly any clothing to get by, but that fact aside I will admit that sometimes I make purchases just because something is such a great deal. For example, I love dresses, but I don't really wear them all that often. I have a ton, though! I have some I've never worn because I've never had the right occasion for them, but they were super cheap so I bought them anyway. I'm trying to be more budget conscious and remind myself that just because it's on sale doesn't mean it's a good deal for me. Those little purchases add up and I could be spending that money on a higher priced item I really want versus a bunch of small cheap things I'm just getting for the heck of it.
  4. Shoes aren't a high priority for me. I have a lot of shoes, but I really don't think I could be considered a "shoe girl." Other than athletic shoes (which I talked about on my Lust List), I really don't care about brands. The majority of my shoes are from Target and cost less than $20. Every year I tell myself I'll break down and get nice work shoes, but I can never seem to find the perfect combination of style and price so I sacrifice one or the other.
Now onto my strengths:
  1. I'm usually open to trying new things. I wouldn't say I'm on the cutting edge of fashion, but I am usually willing to embrace new trends and at least try them. I'll try on pretty much anything I see in the store that seems like it could be a possibility. I have my trends that I'm more fond of, but I'll usually give just about anything at least a try. I've been pleasantly surprised that some new trends are more flattering than I'd expect. It's just a matter of giving it a try!
  2. I'm committed to getting good deals whenever possible. It's also kind of a weakness, but as I've said before I pretty much never pay full price for anything. I have to really need something or be at a store that I can't visit frequently for me to pay full price. And even then, I still might ask about teacher discounts or coupons or something that I might be able to use.
  3. I'm getting more adventurous! I'm definitely trying to be more creative with how I mix and match my clothing. I have a lot to work with, so there's no reason I shouldn't be able to have a little fun with it! Pinterest, blogs, and Polyvore are inspiring me to get more creative in putting together great outfits!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Fashion Week Day 5: Polyvore

I promised you the other day that I'd tell more about Polyvore. I discovered Polyvore through Pinterest over the summer and let me tell you, it's so much fun! I love the fact that sites like these replace the old practice of cutting out pics from magazine and that you can have all sorts of inspiration online right at your fingertips!

First, let me explain how Polyvore works. Basically you create a "set" by searching for items that your would like to put on an idea page together. I've only done outfit sets, but you can also do set of home decor items. I usually keep mine pretty simple, but if you get onto the site and explore you can see that some people do quite a bit on their sets.

First, let me introduce you to my Polyvore page. One there you can see all of the sets that I've created.

One fun thing about Polyvore is that you can create outfits of items from pretty much anywhere. I think it's fun creating sets out of items that I own or that are close to what I own. It's also fun to create sets of things of things that I'd never actually wear or be able to afford. It's just fun to put a whole look together and see what unique combinations you come up with. If you find others on there that have sets you like you can choose to follow them (kind of like Pinterest).

I like Polyvore for it's inspiration. Like I said, I discovered it through Pinterest because a lot of people pin sets. There are so many more awesome outfit ideas on the site itself. There have been quite a few times I search for an item I own and then create a set based on that item. You can also explore sets other people have created with the same items. Bought a new shirt and aren't quite sure how to wear it? Search for it on Polyvore and see what others have come up with!

Here's an example of a top that I picked up at J. Crew earlier in the year. I searched for it on Polyvore and got all sorts of outfit ideas.

This lace tank from AE was another great find, but something I wasn't totally sure how I'd style. Polyvore to the rescue! (Ironically, most of the pics pair it with a plaid AE shirt I picked up on a separate shopping trip... I would have never thought to pair the two!)

Get the idea?

I've shared a few of my Polyvore creations based on my real outfits with you already this week, but I wanted to leave you with another creation today. I made this one over the summer when I was anxiously awaiting the arrival of fall. It's based on a few items I actually own. Enjoy!