Sunday, April 29, 2012

DIY Diva

Stupid Pinterest gives me too many ideas!  I swear I'm going to need rehab one of these days.  You'll find me in a Pinterest coma surrounded by stickers and hot glue guns or something.

I thought I'd share a couple Pinterest-inspired projects I've recently completed.  Nothing huge or spectacular, but it's nice to have a couple things made and ready for next year.

I'm also one of those people that believes that if I want things done my way, I have to do them myself.  Making classroom posters is one thing I like doing because I can make the content and terminology work for what I need as opposed to store bought posters that aren't always what I'm looking for.

Hence these creations...

I'm actually going to crop these SOMEBODY, WANTED, BUT, SO, THEN posters down and add magnet tape to the back so I can slap them up on the white board and we can write the answers by them.  I do this already with CHARACTERS, SETTING, PROBLEM, SOLUTION posters and it's a super easy way to do some comprehension as a whole group.

I also made posters for RETELLING, MAIN INFERENCES, and MAIN IDEA CLUES.  If you haven't caught on to this by reading my blog yet, I'm a big fan of fun fonts, bright colors, and making these coordinate.  I'm actually running low on my bright paper supply and need to get some more before I embark on any additional projects.  I also really like the small size white poster board packs that are available at Hobby Lobby.  They come 5 to a pack and I think it costs about $2.  They're the perfect size for small posters and you don't have to mess with cutting poster board .  (I'm way too OCD to try to cut a huge board and make it perfect.!)  I'm also obsessed with my Poppin' Patterns stuff, so I added some cute little star stickers to make them coordinate and look a little more fun!

Like I said earlier, a lot of times I prefer to make my own posters so that I can customize them to meet my needs and so that they use the terms I want my students to be familiar with.  This RETELLING poster is a prime example of that.  Retell is almost always our lowest indicator on state assessments, so I really try to focus on it a lot and emphasize the same main points to my students each time.

My other big DIY project was to make homemade laundry detergent.  I'd seen a lot of pins on Pinterest and then had several coworkers suggest it as well.  I decided that once my current supply of All ran out I'd give it a try, so I made some the other night.  I already had the Borax, but between the Super Washing Soda and the Fels-Naptha soap I only dropped about $4.  The recipe I ended up using was a printout from a coworker and with it I made 2 gallons of detergent!  I also have enough ingredients to make about 4 more gallons.  (Each batch uses 1/3 bar of soap, so that's the only thing I'll need to rebuy for a very very long time!)  I've already washed a few loads with it and it has a nice, fresh almost lemon-y scent.  It was super easy to make and for the amount of detergent that it made, I have a feeling I'll continue to find it worth the little bit of effort to continue making it.  Here's a Pinterest search of "laundry detergent" pins to help you find your own recipes to try! 

Saturday, April 28, 2012

End-of-the-Year Linky Party!

I know for a lot of us the school year is wrapping up soon...  We only have about three weeks left!  I really can't believe this school year is almost over!  It's flown by and really has been a great year.  We've gone through a lot of change in my building over the past year, but it's all turned out well and I'm excited for next year to get rolling!  (After a nice, relaxing summer break of course!)

Clutter-Free Classroom is hosting another great linky party about the end of school.  You all know how much I love a linky!  :)

Here's the link to the Clutter-Free Classroom blog!  

I decided to be an overachiever and answer all three blog post prompts!  


I think my biggest tip is to start on things early.  Doing a little big of organizing, prep, and cleaning in the weeks leading up to the end of school really help me not get overwhelmed when the last week finally arrives.  I know some schools frown upon this, but I also let the kids get involved as well.  My students love getting special jobs around the classroom and it also helps to speed up the process.  

I also try to get a few things ready and prepped for the next school year.  After 5 years I have my first week of school plans pretty much memorized, so I've already sent off my first week activity copies and have those ready to go for next year.  I've also already made a few posters that I wanted to have done so that they're ready to go in August.  I'm anticipating a busy summer this year, so I'm trying to do whatever I can to not have to work on those things this summer.


I really enjoy celebrating our accomplishments for the school year...  We have AR parties, assessment parties, and other celebrations for the kids' hard work.  One tradition we've always had is a big third grade ice cream party.  We setup tables outside on the playground and have a huge buffet of ice cream and toppings.  A lot of grade levels do an end-of-the-year field trip, but we usually opt to stay at school and do our ice cream party (followed by an extra long recess)!  


My summer is going to consist of moving and hopefully working part-time to help speed of the saving to buy a house.  On top of that I'm going to do a two day ESL workshop and a two week Common Core math workshop, both of which will get me some money, credit hours, and some new knowledge!  Other than that I'll enjoy relaxing at home with my TV, Netflix, and my stack of new books!  (I hit a 10 for $10 sale at a used bookstore yesterday!  That stack will probably last me 5 years or more!)  My roommate is getting married in July (hence why I have to move), but I'm super excited to have two of my best friends come to town for the wedding!  I have a feeling summer is going to fly by, but hopefully it'll be a good one!  

Now it's your turn to head over to Clutter-Free Classroom and join in on the party!  Tell us about what your summer and how you get ready for the end of the school year!

Autism Resources

I've become increasingly interested in Autism this year...  I have a student with Autism in my class.  I really wasn't sure what to expect at first, but if I've learned one thing this year it's that there are so many sides to ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorders).  The student in my class has come a loooong way even in just the past year or two.  He doesn't fit what I had painted in my mind as what a student with ASD would be like.  He's a very loveable and social child, who I've found very easy to relate to.  I know it hasn't always been this way for him, but he's been blessed with great family and teachers to help him get to this point.  Not everyday is a walk in the park, but we've had a really great school year together!

I wanted to share a few resources I've found...  I know that in my school is seeing a greater number of students on the spectrum and that the goal is to have these kids in the regular ed classrooms as much as possible.  

Source: via Kim on Pinterest

This is a neat pin I found on Pinterest. It's a great summary and overview for teachers.

Here are some other cool websites I've stumbled across:   - This one is good to help you explain Autism to your students.

I hope to share more findings and resources as I stumble upon them.  Have a great Saturday!  :)

Friday, April 27, 2012

Fashion Friday: Bright Ideas

Up until this year, I'm pretty sure I hadn't rocked neon clothing since 1991.  

Okay, except for my neon yellow tee that says "Frankie Says Relax" and on the back "Don't Do It" that I wear for Halloween and 80's parties...

For some reason this spring I've embraced the neon trend much more than I would have thought.  It seems like neons and pastels are the biggest color trends and I'm much more on the bright bandwagon than the pastel one.

I thought I'd share some Pinterest and other findings that I love with this trend!  

Source: via Molly on Pinterest

I think the biggest key to rocking bright colors is to pair them with more neutral colors, so that they're not super overwhelming. A bright tee or tank looks great under a more toned down jacket, dress, or cardigan. I also like adding in a pop of neon through my accessories and my nail polish color. I've always kept the super bright colors on my toes, but this spring I've been putting them on my fingernails to brighten things up more.  It doesn't take a whole lot to jump into this trend and a lot of accessories are super affordable (which is even better for trendy things that you may not want to invest in.)

Have you embraced the neon trend?  How have you added brights to your wardrobe?

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Show & Tell

Today was our first day of our second phase of reading training for Literacy First.  We had to go through five days of training last summer and then have three more days to complete this year.  Instead of doing it during the summer, they had everyone come in for three Thursdays in a row....  I'd much rather come during the summer to be quite honest, but whatever.  I'm not the one who makes the decisions.  (I'm not bitter or anything either about not getting paid for this training like we were initially promised either...  Grrr.)

Anyway, one of the activities for this phase is to share some thing that we have used or implemented in our classroom this year.  Each of the three schools that are training together have their own day for "show and tell." My school was up first, so I decided I'd share with you all what I took for my "show and tell!"

I decided to bring some vocabulary resources, but that by no means makes me an expert in this area.  I really struggle with making this a consistent and effective component of my reading instruction, but I do feel like it's improved this year with using the Literacy First model.

Oh, and I can't figure out how to rotate pics in Blogger...  Is that possible?  I'm too lazy to go back and rotate them once I've loaded them on here.  Ugh.

What I Took:

Word-A-Day - Grade 3 (published by Evan Moor)

Daily Vocabulary Practice - Grade 3 (published by Weekly Reader)

"My Word-A-Day Journal" (created by me and made into books at our district copy center)

Samples of Word-A-Day vocab and content area vocab from a non-fiction book.  (And a pocket chart showing how I display it in my classroom.)

This is my first year using the Word-A-Day book, but I really like it.  I've been kind of bad about consistently doing it, but if you're looking for an effective way to introduce your students to new words, this book is a great starting point.  I believe I bought my copy at Mardel during their online sale, but I know it's a pretty common find at a lot of teacher supply stores.  (Here is a link to the third grade book on Amazon.)

I used to use the Daily Vocabulary Practice book a lot more, but I've not been a consistent with it this year as I've tried to adjust things to fit Literacy First.  (They're not big on the kids doing worksheets during whole group, but I believe there's a balance and that they need to still have the writing practice.)  My favorite thing about this book is that it works on parts of speech as well as vocab in content areas like math and science.  It's a nice, easy way to fit in some language instruction with your vocab.  Weekly Reader's books aren't as common at my local teacher store, but this one can be found on Amazon as well.  (Here's the link to the third grade one.) 

My pocket charts and word strips are two items that I grab in stores whenever I see them.  I think Target's small pocket charts are pretty much one of the best things ever.  I hot glue magnetic strips on the back so that I can put them on my dry erase boards.  I get my word strips from Dollar Tree.  I've been working on getting all of my vocab and stuff labeled and in order for next year so that I can just grab what I need and not have to sort through all of them to get what I need for the week.  It's a process!

"My Word-A-Day Journals" use a Frayer Model for the students to explain each word through it's definition, examples, sentences, and a picture.  My student teacher has used this a lot with the kids this semester and I've seen a lot of success.  It takes some time for the kids to get everything completed, so my tentative plan for next year is to introduce the words during whole group time and then to have them fill out the Frayer during work stations.  I plan to use this with the Word-A-Day book as well as content area vocab.  (If you Google or Pinterest search "Frayer Model" you'll find all sorts of variations and examples.)

So, there's a little "show and tell of a few of my vocab resources!  

I'm off to go enjoy my three day weekend!  Tomorrow is our "snow day" off!  (And by that I mean, it's our comp day for not using our snow days this year after they added 10 minutes on to our day this year.  I guess  I should thank global warming?!?  LOL)

Friday, April 20, 2012

Let's Try Something New... (Like something for you to download!)

I've been meaning to try to load some documents to share for a while now and haven't had the patience to figure it all out. I'm considering venturing into the whole Teachers Pay Teachers thing, but I don't feel like anything I've made yet is all that cool. For now, I'm just going to try adding a few odds and ends here to the blog and see how that goes! So, here's my first attempt at a printable for you!
Reading Theme Planner.pdf

Long story short, I need to clean up some things on Google Docs from back when I was getting my Master's and so I'm using Scribd for the time being.  I actually liked Scribd from the couple times I've used it, so I may just stick with it!  Who knows!?!

I found this pin on Pinterest and was inspired to make my own planner along the same lines.  My two third grade colleagues and I are planning on doing themes next year to drive our reading instruction and have been coming up with a list of ideas.  The next step is to plot out when we want to do these themes!  Some will go with certain times of year or certain seasons, but others we can mix and match whenever and share resources.  With making the switch to Literacy First this year I've struggled a bit in breaking away from our reading series and inserting in as much non-fiction as they want.  (They want 60% non-fiction!  Eeeek!)

Anyway, I hope this comes in handy to some of you and hopefully I'll get more into posting some goodies like this soon!  I figure if I take the time to make something I should share it so that others can benefit from my hard work!

Fashion Friday: What's In My Purse?

I've seen quite a few "What's In My Purse" You Tube videos and blogs, so I figured I'd do the same!  I'm kind of obsessed with purses, so I find this one pretty appropriate for me.

I'm currently carrying a Coach Poppy Hippie bag that I purchased last summer.  I love this bag...  The shape, the size, the style.  But, I'm super OCD about getting it dirty, so I don't carry it a ton and it was a splurge for me, so I don't feel like it was necessarily my wisest investment.  (I taught a workshop for my district and decided to spend the money I made on this baby.)  It's also got a cross-body strap that is nice for running around.  I'm not allowing myself any more purse purchases this year (*sigh*), but I would love another one of these Hippie bags in a different color combo.  Maybe someday...  

Funny thing...  I used to really dislike Coach purses.  They bored me.  Then when the Poppy collection came along a few years ago I started paying more attention to that brand and became more interested in getting one for myself.  I have three Coach purses now--  Two from the outlet and the one up above.  I've been limiting my purse buying to one nice one per year.  I used to buy cheaper purses purses, but I was buying way too many, so I feel like I'm probably spending less on new bags than I used to and getting ones that I actually love.

I don't feel like I carry my entire life in my purse, but I do keep the basics and then some.

First comes my wallet.  This one is from Fossil and is probably 5 years old or so.  It's a good not too big and not too small size for carrying my cards and stuff.  In the middle is my Thirty-One wristlet that I purchased last spring.  It's where I store all of my coupons, gift cards, and other shopping related things.  I carry it most of the time, but it's nice to have some of those non-essentials together so I don't have to carry them all the time.  Finally I have my camera (or rather here the case).  I bought a little Canon PowerShot A2200 for myself (and one for my grandparents) this past Christmas.  My old Canon was a great camera, but it was HUGE and took up so much space in my purse.  I find myself carrying my camera a lot more now that I have one that's smaller!

These three are probably some of my top essentials...  Ibuprofen, Orbit gum, and hand lotion.  I'm currently loving Bath & Body Works' Shea Cashmere & Silk hand cream.  It smells great and makes your hands literally silky smooth.  I love it!

Next is my travel makeup bag.  I carry it the majority of the time, but there are plenty of times when I want to downsize and can pull out just one or two essentials and leave the rest behind.  I keep some of my makeup necessities in there for when I'm running late or need to do a quick fix-up in the middle of the day.

I like to keep some neutral shades in my purse that will look good no matter what.  I really like my Maybelline cream eyeshadows and the little green one is a Clinique freebie in a neutral duo.  I put a lot of free minis in my purse (since they take up less space).  I also like to keep some little perfumes in there if I need a quick refresh.  And don't you love my little pink ladybug mirror?!?  A coworker gave it to me for my birthday and I think it's absolutely adorable!

No, that's not two phones...  One is my iPod Touch and the other is my phone.  (My phone is an LG MyTouch Q if you're wondering.)  I just got a real smartphone right before Christmas, so until then I'd functioned with my iPod.  I have all my music and a lot of apps on there, so I can't break away from it and only use my phone.  I like using some apps more on my phone and others more on my iPod, so I just carry both!  

So, there you have it...  What's in my purse!  

What are your essentials?  What's in your purse?

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

First Week of School?!?

I'm ready for it!

Well, sort of...

One of my big tasks over the past few weeks of having my student teacher in charge was to try to get as ready as I can for the first week of school.  I am happy to say that I have all of my copies made for the activities we do during the first week!  What a relief to have at least that much accomplished!  My beginning of the year plans consist of a lot of basics and getting to know you activities to help the students and I get to know each other.  We don't get into much academic work until the second week, but I do try to insert some light reading and math activities to help me get an idea for where the kids are at.

I'll still need to update my classroom handbook, welcome letter, and a few of those things that are still awaiting finalization, but our copy center will be open all summer and I can submit jobs from my home computer to have copied and sent over to the school!  Yay!  

I've still got a lot of organizing stuff to get done, but I feel like having this copying done will cutoff about a day's worth of work before school starts.  I'm one of those teachers who tries to get stuff done as early as possible and then take the last week or so before school starts to just chill at home or get other errands and stuff done before things get crazy again.  

I don't know about the rest of you, but I feel so much better when I leave my classroom in good order.  I've had a year or two when I feel like things are in chaos when I come back in August (sometimes beyond my control) and it drives me nuts.  I try to do as much as possible to make things as painless as possible when I return.

Anyway, am I the only person like this?  Probably not.  Someone reassure me...  :)

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Reflections on Bullying

I love love love the movie "Mean Girls."  It came out not too long after I started college and at first I just wrote it off as another teen movie, which of course was below me at the ripe of age of 19.  When I finally watched it, I fell in love with the story.  It's a great comedy, but it also has a lot of truth to how things in high school can be and the whole social aspect of being a teen.  If you haven't seen this movie, you need to.  I even recommended it to my grandma when she was researching bullying and girl drama for a writing project.

But, to be honest, high school wasn't when I encountered the "mean girls" in school...  It was wayyyyy before that.

I really don't look back at my childhood and feel like I was ever just tormented and bullied.  I was always a kid that got along with everyone pretty well.  I had my friends that I stuck with most of the time and life was good.

A have a few memories of girls saying rude things to me back in elementary school, but even though I was a pretty sensitive kid, I also let things roll without really getting under my skin.  I guess since it was usually just a little comment here or there I thought it was normal.  Well, actually, it was normal.  I think every kid makes comments about others randomly.  It wasn't an ongoing thing, so I never thought much of it.

Then there was middle school...

I transferred from public school to a private Christian school in 6th grade because of the middle school boundaries in my area would cause me to go to one school for 6th grade and then switch to a different school for 7th and 8th.  I'm pretty sure my grandma was also convinced public schools were evil and she convinced my mom to pull me out for at least my 6th grade year.  I ended up staying in private school for all 3 years of middle school.

Worst.  Years.  Ever.

I pretty much knew from the start that I wasn't going to like my new school.  Most of the kids there had gone to school together since pre-K and they were not looking to add any new people to their circle.  The school was small and there were only about 30 kids in my grade.  I joined the volleyball team in effort to make friends, but that wasn't very successful.  During my 6th grade year I had my locker broken into and had some things stolen and the word "dork" written on the inside of the door.  The teachers and principal really didn't do anything about it.  I tried to let it roll off like I'd let things go in elementary school, but after that I was never able to fully trust anyone but my few close friends.  At lunch, the newer kids to the school sat at the end of the lunch table because the majority of us were not accepted by the "in crowd."  I was excluded from birthday parties and sleepovers and sat by myself in silence on the bus rides to volleyball games.  I was criticized for not being Christian enough.  (I went to a very charismatic church school and had grown up in a much more conservative church.)  I learned what life was like on my own and settled upon the fact that school now sucked.

In the meantime, my social life at my church began to thrive and while I had virtually no friends at school, I somehow ended up in the upper ranks of popularity in my youth group.  My church friends all went to our "rival" Christian school (that was known to be more upper class than my own school), so whenever our schools played one another in sports I would parade over to the other side and sit with my awesome church friends.  I found it to be my own way to stick it to the meanies at my own school.  It was my silent way of saying, "Hey look!  I don't need you guys because I have plenty of my own friends and they're way better than you!"  I learned to parade my popularity outside of school in front of my classmates in every way possible to get back at them for excluding me and making fun of me.

By 8th grade, I came to a silent truce with the girls at my own school.  The one that started out as my biggest "rival" ended up becoming a friend during volleyball season and the others became at least tolerable.  I still was sure to parade my popularity in front of them whenever possible as I filled my locker with pictures of my youth group friends and was sure to share stories about how I went to their sleepovers and birthday parties. When middle school ended I parted ways with everyone and decided that those days would become a distant memory.

I wouldn't say I'm scarred for life or anything and I really don't like to label what I went through in middle school was bullying, but in reality, it was.  I never really let the things that happened at school get to me outside of school.  Sure, I loved when I was sick and could stay home and not deal with being there.  At the same time, though, I know that if I'd really pursued it my family would have been willing to pull me out and send me to another school.  In all honesty I still believe I would have been surrounded by better friends in public school, but I also know that everything happens for a reason and that those 3 years in private school led me to make a great decision on where I went to high school.  (I ended up going to a public high school with all of my church friends.)

The morning show I listen to when I get ready for work has brought up the topic of bullying and how it's becoming such a buzzworthy topic these days.  Celebrities are jumping on the anti-bullying bandwagon and that seems to be the the "it" cause right now.  It's not that bullying is a new thing...  It's been around pretty much since the beginning of time, but recently it seems to be the big thing.

Of course it's a problem that needs to be addressed, but are we overreacting and over labeling every incident as bullying?

I think the answer is yes and no.

One thing I really try to emphasize with my students is how we define bullying and provide them with examples and non-examples.  I think to some degree our kids are getting caught up in this whole bullying hoopla and begin to think that every time someone is mean to them or things don't go their way they are being bullied.  Teaching conflict resolution, social skills, and reporting skills are the areas I focus my attention during class meetings.  I also feel strongly that building a strong classroom and school community are necessary in preventing bullying.  We can't just focus on the bullying and only the negative stuff.  Kids need to hear positive stories of hope!

Thanks for hearing me out...  I think I've just been hearing so much about bullying lately that, in all honesty, I'm getting tired of it.  I'm ready to hear stories of hope and I'm ready to share some positive things with my students!

Friday, April 13, 2012

Fashion Friday: Busy Day

Busy Friday

I'm helping out with some interviews today and had to give up one of my casual days and dress up today.  I wanted something that was dressy, but also comfortable for sitting all day, going to lunch with coworkers, and running some errands after school.  Obviously my outfit had to do some multitasking!  This isn't an exact replica of what I'm wearing, but it's pretty darn close.  (My dress is black and from Banana Republic.)  I feel like this dress was a good investment even though I already have quite a few LBDs.  (Plus I snagged it for 50% off with a coupon...  You can read that story here.)  I have a feeling it's going to be a go-to dress and I love that it's so easy to accessorize in different ways!  I've accumulated several skinny belts (all very very cheap), so they're a very easy way to change up the look and the tone of my outfit.

I'm pretty sure this dress will be making an appearance at parent-teacher conferences next fall or spring.  It's right along the lines of the comfy / dressy style I like to go for when I have to be in the same outfit for 12 hours.

What are your go-to outfits or items?  
How do you dress when your outfit has to multi-task?

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Birchbox, Jokesters, & A Few Recent Finds

My April Birchbox arrived today!  This was the third day in a row I got something fun in the mail!  I feel like a giddy little kid when I get things in the mail that aren't junk or bills.  :)

The "theme" of this month's Birchbox was Natural Wonders, so the products are all kind of along those lines.  I kind of suspected that might be the case, but I refrained from looking Googling April Birchboxes until I got my own this month.

Atelier Cologne  - Orange Sanguine Cologne Absolute

Marula the Leakey Collection - Omega Rich Pure Marula Oil

Weleda - Pomegranate Firming Night Cream

Zoya - Nail Polish in Farah

Yes to Blueberries - Brightening Facial Towelettes

I almost bought the Yes to Blueberries towelettes yesterday at Target, so I'm glad I decided to hold off and now I can try them out first.  I'm also excited about the Zoya nail polish.  It's super neutral and I've seen some cool ideas on Pinterest with neon and neutral nail colors together.

I've also been enjoying my little perfume samples.  I've got a few right now from Birtchbox and from Dillards, so I've been sticking those in my little purse makeup bag to have if I need to freshen up when I'm out.

I'm still deciding about Birchbox, but I'll probably give it at least another two months before I decide if I want to keep it going or not.  I'd like to see what comes during the summer months, so I'm hoping for some goodies to be included in the May and June boxes.

I mentioned the other day that I'd purchased a couple new shirts on super sales online.  I really don't shop much online, especially for clothes.  I'm just not one of those people who can walk into a store and just buy something without trying it on.

The shirt one the left is the Lace Necklace Tee from J.Crew ($6.99 after discounts).  I feel like I'm between sizes there, so I went with the larger of the two.  It's a little bigger than I'd prefer, but I think washing and drying it will shrink it up a bit.  I wore it to work today and got tons of compliments, though!  (I was having a "fat day" and felt gross because I've not been eating very healthy this week, so I was happy to hear I looked cute when I didn't feel that way at all!)  You can see the detail below...  It's really pretty and not super low, which is also a plus. I wish the blue had still been available, but oh well!

I also nabbed this striped tee from Gap ($5.35 after discounts).  I had to go a size smaller than normal and bought a tall since that was all that was left in this color, but it worked out fine.  I wish it fit me a little more loose at the bottom like my real size was (I'd tried a black one in store months ago), but the top and sleeves are just perfect on me.  Once again, this has been an unhealthy eating week, so I didn't feel like it looked great on me when I wore it yesterday, but I'm sure that's all in my head.  It's at least motivation for me to hit the gym tonight!  Anyway, both of these tops are good casual and work shirts for the warmer weather.  I like things that can be dressed up or down and the fact that they were both on major sale is just an added bonus.

I went to dinner and did a teensy bit of shopping last night with a friend who recently moved back to town.  We went to a big accessory store where I always want to go crazy!  Everything there is very inexpensive and color coordinated!  I found these earrings there for $8.99 and couldn't resist.  Plus, they go with both of my new tops!  ; )  I don't have a lot of earrings with color and I figured I have a lot of tops and dresses that will match these.

My last buy was this two-pack of neon skinny belts.  I don't think I've purchased anything at Rue 21 since high school or early college, but we popped in there last night since the friend I was with was looking for a belt for one of her new dresses.  I'd looked last weekend for some belts just like these to go with my black dress I wore on Easter and had no success.  (I ended up busting out a beige Gap skinny belt that I snagged for about $3.  I must admit, it looked very classy.)  I've obviously been into the neons lately, so I was super happy to find these so cheap!  I'm on an interview committee tomorrow and I'm thinking about wearing my black dress with one of these for a punch of color.

So, all of that for less than the regular price of the J.Crew shirt!

I'm trying to go one month without buying any new tops (from my April paycheck to my May paycheck).  I'd like to say no clothes at all, but I really need some warm weather work pants, so I'm not going to limit myself if I find some that work.  If I'm good for a few months, I may allow myself a weekend trip to visit friends or the outlets again once summer comes.

Finally, the jokesters...

I've been spending my days in the office since my student teacher is still in charge and the conference room has been used for testing.  It's always an adventure down there!  I went back to my classroom to do a few things this afternoon and came back to the office to find my principal sitting in the corner at my laptop.  He promptly closed it and asked if it was mine or one of the testing laptops we had down there.  I thought something was a bit fishy since there were a couple others around him that scattered when I walked back in.  I turned my laptop on only to find a giant photo of him and our secretaries dressed in orange and camo AND reindeer antlers!  Yup, that's my background now!  He told me that's what happens when I hang out down there...  Oh geez!  I need to find a new background soon!

Well, off I go to catch up on some shows on the DVR and then hit the gym.  I don't like to workout until after 8 p.m. because things are so busy before then!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Field Trip Tips

Our local zoo hosts a free day each year in celebration of Earth Day.  It's become a third grade tradition for us to go each year.  It's super super busy since it's free admission, but there are a lot of cool booths and freebies available to the kids so it's worth dealing with the chaos!  Hopefully this year we'll get some great weather.

In sharing field trip tips with our new teacher and my student teacher I thought this might be a good blog post.  We tend to get a lot of compliments from bus drivers and from the places we visit on how well-behaved our kids are and I think it goes back to good planning and organization.  The less chaos the better behaved the kids will be!
  1. Communicate with parent volunteers ahead of time.  Some field trips require as many parent volunteers as possible and for others we don't have room for parents to join us.  I try to send notes home as soon as the field trip is scheduled so that parents can plan accordingly.  If you are having parents volunteer to help, send a note several days in advance to let them know the expectations.  Do you expect them to ride the bus or meet you there?  Do they need to bring a sack lunch?  What will they be expected to do during the field trip?  Is there anything special they need to be prepared with?  Give them as much information as possible ahead of time!
  2. Have the kids wear something alike.  This is especially helpful for us when we go to the zoo and there are 20,000 other people there!  Our school does anti-bullying shirts, so we usually have our kids wear those shirts or one that is the same color.  One year all of the kids purchased green tees for the Christmas program and we had them reuse those shirts for Earth Day.  It makes things a lot easier for parents and teachers (especially if they don't know all the kids they're supervising).
  3. Send notes home with field trip expectations.  Let the kids and parents know the expectations a few days ahead.  These notes should tell what the students should wear (a certain shirt?  comfy shoes?), if they should bring a lunch (disposable items?), if they can bring spending money (I always make a note that it is the student's responsibility and not the teacher or group leader's job to keep track of money or buy them stuff they want), and arrival and departure times.  I go over this note in detail with the kids so that they know what I expect ahead of time.  
  4. Have an info packet for volunteers.  We assemble an information packet for each parent volunteer / group and we distribute these when we get to our destination.  This includes a schedule for the day, a list of expectations, the names of the students in their group, and the phone numbers of the teachers and the school office in case of emergency.  ***It is also a good idea to get the phone numbers of the parents who are leading groups in case you need to contact them at some point during the day. (This is something we learned last year after a bad experience!)***  We also encourage our groups to go to the gift shop in the middle of the day when it isn't busy rather than the end of the day when they get held up in long lines.
  5. Set expectations for behavior ahead of time.  We always have a chat with the kids about behavior expectations before leaving for a field trip.  We talk about being respectful, showing manners, following directions, and staying with their group.  I've never had any issues with kids seriously misbehaving, but it's always good to communicate your expectations ahead of time and what the consequences will be for misbehavior.
  6. Bring books for the bus ride.  We make our kids bring a book to read on the bus ride to and from the field trip.  This keeps them quite (for the most part) and makes the bus ride a lot more pleasant for everyone involved.  If the bus is staying, we have the kids just leave their books on the bus in their seats and that solves the whole seating issue when it's time to go.  
Do you have any good field trip tips or hints that help the day go by smoothly?  Please share!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Summer Reading List

I'm a teacher who doesn't really read in my free time...

Does that make me a hypocrite?

I loved reading when I was a kid.  I owned well over 100 Baby Sitters Club books, but once I outgrew those I kind of lost my love for reading.  I got into some Christian fiction when I was in middle school and high school and would read those over the summer, but I never found anything that I just really enjoyed.  During the school year I was too consumed with the required readings  for my classes that I didn't have any time to read for pleasure anyway.  

The same was true in college, but at least being an El. Ed. major I got to read a lot of neat children's literature.  I'm pretty sure the only books I read for my own enjoyment during my college years were the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants books and He's Just Not That Into You.  

A couple summers ago my friend loaned me Confessions of a Shopaholic and I fell in love with that series!  For the first time since I was a kid, I actually found myself choosing a book over TV!  I zipped through all of the books from that series that were out in one summer.  I settled upon the fact that I like slightly fluffy, girly books that are just plain fun to read.  You know, the kind of books that you want to read on a summer day out by the pool...  

So, as summer is approaching I'm coming up with a list of books that I'd like to read.  We've got a few great used bookstores that I'm hoping to hit up for the ones I don't already have.  When Borders when out of business last year I was able to grab a few that I'd wanted, so that was a plus!

  • The Hunger Games series - I'm pretty sure I'm in the minority that haven't read or seen the movie yet. I hear these are a quick read, so I'm hoping to make it through at least the first book by the time the movie hits DVD and my Netflix queue.
  • Something Blue - I read Something Borrowed last fall when the DVD showed up from Netflix and I realized I'd never read the book.  I pushed myself through the book before I'd let myself watch the movie.  (I'm just like that sometimes.)  I enjoyed it a lot more than I thought I would and have decided I want to read the sequel as well.  (I think there's a chance this one is going to be turned into a movie as well.)
  • The Gatecrasher / Sleeping Arrangements / Cocktails For Three - I really enjoy Sophie Kinsella's books and she also writes under the name Madeline Wickham.  (I feel like one of those is her real name, but I can't remember which one.)  I've never read any of her Madeline Wickham books, but I expect I'll like them as well.  I think all three of these were Borders clearance finds that I grabbed last year and never got around to reading last summer.  I'm hoping to get through at least one or two this year.
  • The Help - Yes, once again, I haven't seen the movie or read the book yet.  I have a thing about reading books before watching movies (if I think I'll actually like the book).  This one probably tops the priority list over The Hunger Games.
  • The Nanny Diaries - I honestly was never all that interested in this movie (do you see a trend with my books?), but I found this book for $1 last year and decided to pick it up.  I spent a good chunk of my teenage and college years babysitting for a living, so I thought this might be a fun read.
I highly doubt I'll make it through all of these books this summer...  I'm planning on working part-time, maybe doing summer school, moving, and possibly traveling, but I do hope that I can make it through a few. I love sitting out on the porch on a summer day reading a good book, even if it's just a chapter or two a day!

What books are you hoping to read this summer?  
Any good recommendations for me?!?  :)

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Happy Easter! (And Stuff I'm Loving Right NOW!)

Happy Easter!  He is risen!

I hope everyone has had a great Easter Sunday.  I've had a pretty good day myself...  I went to my old church for their service and then spent the afternoon with my family over at my grandparents' house.  We had another gorgeous day and the gym was closed for the holiday so I enjoyed a great walk outside to work off some of the yummy food my mom made.  I'm now enjoying some couch time with my DVR and catching up on my last few shows before the week starts again!  

I have another week and a half or so out of my classroom, so I'm hoping to get a few more things accomplished and marked off my to-do list.  Here are the things I'd like to get accomplished this week:

  • Label and organize all of my folder games for reading and math and make copies of all of the accompanying worksheets.  (This has been an ongoing project I can never seem to get finished!
  • Work adding some of my newly found printables to my files.
  • Weed through the two random baskets / boxes of crap that have been taking up space in my filing cabinet drawer.
  • Weed through my teacher books and pull out ones to give away or put into my garage sale.
  • Work on filling out student data sheets in preparation for the end of the school year.
I've tried my best to stay out of the classroom as much as possible this past week, but most of what I want to get done this week involves being in the room.  I'm going to try to get as much done during specials when the kids are gone so I'm not causing too much of a ruckus.  

I also wanted to share a couple things that I'm currently loving...  It's not all necessarily related to the classroom, but that's okay, right?  ; )

e-nuf is e-nuf
Essie's "e-nuf is e-nuf"

I think this one was my first Essie nail polish that I bought last summer.  It's a super fun dark coral color.  I put it on my fingers last night and it looks much more red than I remember, but it's still a great color!  I've been fighting the urge to buy more nail polishes, so in the meantime I'm trying to use some of the ones I haven't worn in a while!

Everything Poppin' Patterns from CTP

I just plain love this collection of classroom decor and CTP just keeps coming out with more cute stuff!  I started a shopping cart of items I want and the total was less than $40.  That's not bad at all, right !?!  I've settled upon keeping this as my decor scheme for another few years since I already have a ton of this stuff and I know I'd get carried away decorating with another theme.  Check out everything Poppin' Patterns here and see what all I'm loving!
Revlon ColorBurst Lip Butter

Revlon Lip Butters

I hadn't really paid much attention to these until recently when a few other bloggers and You Tubers started posting about them.  I have a ridiculous collection of lip products and have really tried to not spent money on anymore.  I gave in, though, and purchased on in Strawberry Shortcake.  I love it!  They're a nice mix between a lipstick, gloss, and balm.  I have an Ulta coupon and plan on going there sometime this week and I'm pretty sure I'm going to get at least one more.  I like to keep products like this in my desk at school to give me a little pick-me-up during the school day.

Mio Energy

I hate to admit it, but I have a serious need for caffeine in the morning.  I've been trying to cut back on my pop consumption for several reasons and I'm not a big coffee or tea drinker, so I've been diggin' these things.  I picked up a 3-pack when I was at Sam's with my mom and have been alternating between two flavors all month and have yet to finish either bottle.  My mom and I popped into the Wal-Mart Neighborhood Market today and discovered they have already come up with their own store brand version.  She picked up a flavor to try, but I passed today since I have 5 bottles up in my cabinet right now and they seem to last quite a while!

Lace necklace tee
My Two New Super Cheap Shirts

Pink & white striped Gap top

Lace necklace J.Crew top in Strawberry

Okay, I have yet to actually receive either of these yet, so I really hope they work out and that I like them as much as I think I will.  I've been contemplating a short clothing shopping ban between my April and May paychecks, so for some reason in my mind that allowed me to buy as much as I could afford before my April paycheck arrives this week.  (Even I don't quite understand my logic.)  I don't buy much online, but I found both of these tops on major sale and was able to apply some discount codes to cut down the price even more.  Both shirts ended up being less than $7 each after discounts and the one from Gap shipped for free.  (I paid more to ship the J.Crew shirt than I paid for the actual shirt!)  We'll see how these work out size wise...  I tried on the one from Gap in black and white a while back, but ended up ordering this one a size smaller in a tall since talls were all that the pink was available in.  I can return that one if it doesn't work out, but the J.Crew shirt was "final sale" so I'm stuck with it.  I have yet to completely figure out my J.Crew size since I don't shop there a ton, so I went with the larger of my sizes there and am hoping for the best!

Mossimo® Womens Knit Maxi Dress - Black/White Stripe.Opens in a new window
My New Maxi Dress From Target

Despite the fact that I have a closet full of dresses in my spare bedroom, I decided I needed to buy some dresses for some upcoming events.  I bought one at Kohls and one at Banana Republic (that I wore today), and then I found this baby at Target on Friday.  Now, I rarely pay full price for anything, but I liked it so much I decided to try it on and, of course, I loved it on me!  I went on and bought it at regular price ($29.99) and decided to take the one from Kohls back since it was more expensive and less practical for everyday wear.  I'm glad I grabbed this one on Friday because I ended up back at Target Saturday afternoon and the rack was already cleared out!  I guess everyone waited until the last minute to do their Easter dress shopping!  I think I'm gonna wear it to school tomorrow with my denim jacket and my flat white sandals!  This one is definitely going to get a lot more wear than the dress I took back to Kohls and was $13 cheaper!

So, there are some of the things I'm loving right now!  

What are you loving right now?  
Any great finds this spring for yourself or for your classroom?


Saturday, April 7, 2012

Happy Easter Eve!

I woke up this morning to the sound of thunderstorms and decided to roll over and go back to sleep for a while...  I've been fighting an allergy cold for a few days so I'm pretty sure I needed the extra sleep to help fight that.  I was convinced that it was going to be another gloomy rainy day, but it's absolutely gorgeous today!  Not too warm, not too cold, sunny with a little breeze, and just plain fabulous! I need to find an excuse to get out soon... I was off yesterday and went to my church's Easter service last night. (I go to a really big church, so they were doing 6 of the same service this weekend, Friday through Sunday!) Even though I've technically been to an Easter service already, I'm still getting dressed up and going to the morning service at my old church tomorrow! Hopefully tomorrow is just as beautiful to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ! 

 Since I haven't been in my classroom or doing much teaching with my class I haven't really done any seasonal activities with my class. I've been finding all sorts of cute ideas on Pinterest, though, and will hopefully have the opportunity to do them in the future. With the changes with our reading curriculum and moving to Common Core, one thing that I'm actually excited about is being able to come up with my own ideas for reading. We really aren't using our reading series anymore, so my coworkers and I are working on coming up with theme ideas for reading. Pretty much any holiday can be a theme because there are so many books to go along with them! So, I wanted to share a few findings... Enjoy!

And finally, I leave you with my own little Easter decor photo from today...

Thursday, April 5, 2012

What I've Done With Myself

Well, I've been out of my classroom for four days now and I must say it's been kind of a long week.  I've been hanging out in the office (thankfully we have a big main office with room for me) since the conference room is being used for assessments.  It's quite an adventure down there!  I love our two secretaries and I used to teach with our principal, so it's been kinda fun to spend the days down there.  It's interesting being in an office environment (even though a school office is different than a real office)...  I worked in the director's office of the student union at K-State for a year and I actually really enjoyed working in an office setting.  It's definitely a different world than teaching, but I do like it temporarily.

Anyway, I was reflecting on what I've been up to the last few days and I feel like I've been pretty productive, even if all of the work I've done hasn't exactly been for myself.

Monday - Pinterest projects (poster making!)
Tuesday - Master schedule for next year
Wednesday - Massive printing of online finds, filing, sending things to the print shop
Thursday - More work on the master schedule, committees, and interview stuff

Making the master building schedule for next year was a huge task, but I think I have it all figured out finally.  Hopefully I don't get mobbed by people that want to make changes to things.  I actually consulted every classroom teacher in K-5 about what they would like for their schedule and tried to meet everyone's wants and needs.  We'll see how happy they are about it when they see it in a couple weeks or whenever.

Someone asked me today if I would host a student teacher again...  I said yes, but not for another few years probably.  My student teacher is totally great, but I was only confident having her with me for the whole semester because I met her last year and was able to see her teach beforehand.  I don't think I would be able to just blindly agree to have a stranger come into my classroom for a whole semester without knowing them and their teaching style.  My ST and I get along really well, which I think is one of the biggest make or break factors in the whole experience.  I had a great experience when I was in her shoes five years ago, so I think that helps as well with my own attitude toward the whole situation.  I will admit, it's been a little difficult being displaced from my own classroom and not being able to see my students that much, but I really feel like my ST will learn the most and grow the most when left completely on her own.

I feel like teaching is a lot like learning to drive...  You can learn a lot taking classes, but you learn the most and gain the most confidence when you're just thrown behind the wheel and have to get by.  I remember the first time I decided to drive on the highway by myself after I got my first car.  I just decided to go for it and get over my fears!  I felt the same way when I started taking over teaching on my own and I learned what it took to survive on my own in the classroom!

I'm off work tomorrow because it's a "non-contract day" which conveniently happens to be on Good Friday!  :)  It's funny how pretty much all of the public schools in my area made tomorrow a day off and somehow justified it in a non-religious way.  No complaints here!  I'm looking forward to sleeping in, doing my nails, and having a sushi date with friends.

On an unrelated closing note...  I've recently become addicted to Instagram!  I was disappointed that it wasn't available for Android when I finally got a real smartphone (with internet!) back in December.  They finally got it up on Google Play this week and it's been fun playing around with it.  I'm trying to figure out how to get stuff into blogs and whatnot, so it's a learning process.  I've had fun documenting parts of my day with fun, random photos!

Monday, April 2, 2012

Total Teach: Day One

My student teacher started her "total teach" today so I'm trying to stay out of the classroom as much as possible...  The conference room would be the ideal spot for me to hang out, but we're still doing assessments in 4th grade and that's one of our separate setting locations.  Soooooo, I got to hang out in the office today!  It actually worked out well because one of the secretaries was gone today so I tried to help out a little bit.  

I decided today was my day to work on some of my own projects, so I got on Pinterest and started going through my pins for things I wanted to work on.  I made several posters and submitted 5 projects to the copy center to be made up for me there.  (I didn't have my camera with me so I'll try to take pics when I remember!)  I feel like I was pretty productive today, but I have a feeling it's going to be kind of a long 2 1/2 weeks!  

I walked into the classroom during reading work stations to grab a few things and one of my students looked at me and said, "Where have you been for so long?!?"  I left sick mid-morning Friday and apparently none of my kids noticed my absence until the end of the school day!  Well, this little guy was pretty much the only one that's noticed I've been gone so I told him I guess he's the only one that seems to care about me right now!  LOL  

On a slightly related note, today, April 2nd is World Autism Awareness Day...  I won't go into spouting off all the stats on Autism, but I will say that this is something that has become more near and dear to my heart this year.  The student that I just mentioned (the one who asked where I've been) has Autism and is seriously one of the most awesome kids I know.  He's my first student with an Autism diagnosis and he's made amazing progress in the last couple years.  When I hear about where he was at in preschool and kindergarten and see where he is now as a third grader it makes me realize how having hard-working, caring adults makes all the difference in a child's life.  This is a student who now has genuine friends, has made leaps of academic progress, and is just a super kid!  I look at some of the younger kids in my school with Autism and see that there is so much potential there!  

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Currently... And the weekend.

I've been seeing the monthly "Currently" posts around for a few months now and finally decided to do my own and link up!  Yes, another linky!  You know I'm getting obsessed!  

Head on over to Oh' Boy 3rd 4th Grade and check out the other posts for the month of April!

My weekend has been pretty chill so far...  I ended up leaving work early on Friday because I wasn't feeling well.  You know those times when you're sick, but not completely sick?  It was one of those times.  I probably wouldn't have left had my student teacher not been there and was doing most of the teaching anyway.  

Yesterday I was feeling pretty much fine, so after chillin' in the morning my roommate and I decided to check out a new shop that just opened.  It's a really cute place started by a bunch of girls around my age and a little bit older.  They each specialize in things like jewelry making, vintage decor, refinishing furniture, paper goods, fabric goods, etc.  It's sooooo freakin' cute there!  One of the girls I grew up with at church finds awesome vintage accessories and decor items and is selling them there, so it's super fun to support friends and other local girls.  It totally makes me want to get my own creative juices flowing a bit more!  

I was really good and stuck to my small budget and only bought two items...  A chicken wire frame thingy for hanging earrings (which my end up migrating to be a memo board with mini clothes pins eventually) and some super cute chalkboard stickers  (which I envision mounted on cute scrapbook paper and used as labels for my baskets).  

I came home and decided it was time to revamp the space above my vanity / desk / TV stand thing.  I'd been wanting to do this for a while now so I decided now was finally the time!  Here's the finished product:

Mirror - Target 
Giant Key - Target
Chicken Wire Frame Jewelry Holder - The Cottage Collective
Wooden Tray - Pottery Barn (small size)
Wall Frame - Target
Frame in Tray - Hobby Lobby

This is totally Pinterest-inspired!  It's nothing spectacular or that took tons of time to create, but I do really like this little update to the space.  I posted this to Facebook and got a bunch of comments from friends and family, so I guess others think it looks good too!  The only thing I really want now is a new flat-screen TV and not my big old bulky TV from college.  (This is one of those instances when need overrides want...  A TV keeps getting pushed lower and lower on the priority list!)

I promise I'll start posting more school and teaching related things soon.  I guess since I'm not actually doing as much teaching these days it hasn't been on my mind quite as much as other things!  I've got a few new posts brewing, though, so be looking for those soon!