Monday, January 30, 2012

I've Been Tagged!

Last night I had one of those nights where my brain just wouldn't stop - I didn't fall asleep until nearly 2 am, and the anxiety crept in around one o'clock - what if I can't sleep at all? What if I can't fall asleep until 5 am again? (This just happened to me last week, right after our MLK holiday, and I literally had a break down at an ACL show my boyfriend and I were at, because the day before I had woken up at 5 am, so to not fall asleep until 5 am the next day meant I had about 6 hours of sleep to get me through 3 days - I was so sleep deprived and tired that I started shaking and crying; it was awful and so embarrassing!)

Anyway, I finally did fall asleep, but I woke up with a horribly scratchy voice and a thick feeling in my chest. I didn't actually feel bad, but I sounded terrible, and I swear it made for an easier day of teaching - the kids were so concerned about me being sick that they were really on the ball today! Guess I need to sound sick more often! This evening, I finally got around to reading my blogroll and figuring out what all I need to do now that I've been tagged! Amber from Adventures of a Third Grade Teacher has tagged me, and I'm so glad she did - yay for third grade! Thank you, Amber! So, to keep me from writing more about my sleep problems, here are the rules: 

1. You must post the rules.
2. Post 12 fun facts about yourself on the blog post.
3. Answer the questions the tagger set for you in their post, and then create 12 new questions for the people you tagged.
4. Tag 12 people and link them on your post.
5. Let them know you've tagged them!

Here are my "fun facts": 
1. When my parents were getting divorced, things were obviously not the happiest of times, but my mom would laugh when she watched Will Ferrell on SNL. So, when I was 15, I wrote him a letter just to tell him thank you for making my mom laugh. I never expected anything in return from him (obviously, who would?!), but about a year later, I received a package in the mail from him - two autographed pictures, one for my mom (hers said "Keep laughing!") and one for me. Best guy ever, that Will Ferrell. 
2. My closet is color coordinated, and within the colors, my dresses and shirts are organized by sleeve length (pants are also hung according to leg length). 
3. I have 6 tattoos (if you look back to my very first post, there's a picture of one of them + more random info about me!).
4. I met Ryan Phillipe on my 21st birthday at a bar in downtown Austin. I didn't even know it was him; I had been walking up to strangers all night to inform them that it was my birthday, and I told him this on my way out of the bar - it was then my friends realized that he was NOT just some stranger, so we came back inside to take a picture:
(He was obviously less than thrilled.)
5. I have one sister; she's 19 months younger than me. I have one (half) brother; he's 17 years younger than me (he's actually a third grader this year, which is more fun for me than it is for him, I think). 
6. I hate - HATE - raw tomatoes. 
7. Goodwill is my favorite place to shop. 
8. I haven't had red meat in over 10 years (maybe longer?). 
9. The only phone number besides my own that I have memorized is the home phone number of my best friend from elementary school - I used to dial it so often, I still know it by heart. 
10. I'm a compulsive list maker. 
11. I don't like coffee, and I think it's due to the fact that I accidentally snorted coffee grinds in the 4th grade.
12. I've played golf all my life, and I was the only girl on my high school's girls golf team (because of that, I lettered in freshman year). But - my handicap is ~100, so I didn't really deserve that jacket. 

Now to answer Amber's questions: 
1. Polka dots or stripes? Depends on what we're talking about! All the border for the bulletin boards in my classroom are polka dotted, but I have TONS of striped shirts - I became addicted to striped tops when I was in Europe two summers ago.
2. What is your favorite thing about teaching? Witnessing the aha! moments of kids and getting to experience their genuine curiosity every day. Also helping them overcome any struggles they might have is really fulfilling - I just love seeing kids realize their potential!
3. Guilty Pleasure? The Real Housewives of Atlanta/New Jersey. I don't have cable, but I find ways to still watch that terrible show.
4. Drama or Comedy? Comedy, for sure.
5. If you could teach your students one thing, what would it be? To always be accepting of others. I tell my kids that they don't always have to be best friends with everyone, but they MUST treat everyone with love and respect, no matter what.
6. If you won a million dollars and had to give it to one person, who would it be? Any children's charity.
7. Cats or Dogs? Cats - I have two right now; I've never owned a dog, but I'd like to at some point in my life.
8. Favorite fruit? Strawberries!
9. What technology do you have in your classroom? 1 teacher computer, 1 student computer that doesn't work, a document camera, and a projector. I also have a DVD player and a TV, if that counts; I also bring my own personal iPad to school for my kids to use. There are Flip Cams and slates that we can check out to use, though, so I've been using a slate in my room for the past couple months.
10. What is one thing you couldn't live without? Probably a toothbrush and toothpaste - I really hate it when my teeth feel dirty!
11. Where were you born? Baton Rouge, Lousiana.
12. Where did you go to college? The University of Texas at Austin (Hook 'Em!). 

Here are my 12 questions: 
1.What is one food/drink you could eat/drink every day?
2. What is the best thing you've ever baked/cooked? 
3. If you could have a shopping spree at one place, where would it be? 
4. What is a pet peeve of yours? 
5. Where is the best place you've ever been on vacation? 
6. What is your favorite subject/lesson to teach? 
7. How do you balance the demands of teaching with your at home, personal/family life? 
8. What is a memory you have that is linked to a specific song? 
9. Where is one place you'd like to visit before you die? 
10. Who has influenced you the most as a teacher? 
11. What is the most worn piece of clothing in your wardrobe?
12. If you could trade places with one person for a day, who would it be and why? 

Now, to the teachers I've tagged! If you've already been tagged in this little game, I apologize; you obviously don't have to respond (unless you want to!).
12. Mrs. Lottermoser @ Life With Mrs. L

As for me - time for a shower and a good night's sleep! Happy Monday, y'all! 

Sunday, January 29, 2012

What A Week!

Last week was crazy busy - I had some things I wanted to share with y'all, but I just couldn't find the time! Tuesday night we had our science fair, and I made sure to go to it because 5 of the 6 third grade winners were kids from my class! I am so proud of them! In third grade, science fair projects are optional, and not only did 6 of my kids submit projects, but 5 of them actually won! It was awesome to see how excited they were for themselves and for each other. Then Thursday we had our first field trip! We went to Gattitown, and it was the BEST field trip I've ever taken with a class. Not only was the whole thing planned for us (fraction lessons, a magician, graphing results from games, building 3D models...), but the kids had a blast! Even the parents who came along to help were super impressed by how structured everything was. Of course, having pizza for lunch and some free time in the game room didn't hurt, either! Then on Friday, grades were due for progress reports and I had to prepare for a sub because I had an ESL training to attend. While my week wasn't necessarily stressful, it was certainly super busy and I was exhausted by the time I got home Friday afternoon. I spent the weekend down in Houston because one of my very best friends lives there (she's a teacher, too!), and even though we're less than 3 hours away from each other, I rarely see her because our schedules are always so jam packed. Hanging out with her and just chilling was exactly what I needed to recoup after this crazy week. Now, I'm about to go pick up my boyfriend from the airport - he has been in Puerto Rico this past week for an astronomy conference, so I'm happy he's on his way home (except he leaves again in the morning to go on an observing run out at the McDonald Observatory in west Texas, boo).

We'll be celebrating our 100th day of school on Friday, but I hope to be back before then to share my plans as well as a few other things! I hope you all had a restful and relaxing weekend! Happy almost February!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Another Valentine's Day Freebie!

Last night, instead of grading, I played around again with the Artrage app on my iPad to create a few Valentine's Day graphics. Then this morning, I set aside some time to finally set up and open my Teachers Pay Teachers store. Right now I've only posted things that I've already shared on my blog, but I've also uploaded the Valentine's Day graphics I created last night. Since this is my first go at Teachers Pay Teachers, I'm only linking it there instead of also uploading on Google Docs, but I might include both in future posts. I'm really excited to integrate TpT to my blog, and to also start following all the terrific bloggers I already follow here on TpT as well! Do you have a TpT store? If you do, let me know in the comments and I'll make sure to follow you!

If you're interested in downloading the graphics I created, just click the picture below and it'll take to you my store where you can download it for free!


Friday, January 20, 2012

Valentine Freebie

Good morning teacher friends! Today I have a science training, and since it doesn't start until 9:00 (SCORE!), I thought I'd get a quick post up this morning to share the valentine I made to give to my kiddos this year. I made this on my iPad with the app Artrage, and I really like how it turned out - easy and simple. I plan on printing them 4 to a page, then gluing or sewing them to patterned scrapbook paper. If you'd like to use this for your kiddos, just click the picture below to download a copy from Google Docs.


Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Be My Valentine Exchange + Ashleigh's Education Journey Giveaway!

I've got several things I've got to get done tonight, but before I dive into that, I wanted to let y'all know (if you didn't already!) that Caitlin from Ms. Preppy and Sarah from Kindergarten Korner are hosting another fun holiday exchange for teacher bloggers! I participated in their Holly Bloggy Christmas exchange, but I never linked up/posted on the end result because my computer ate my photos, and I just figured no one would want to read a post with no pictures (however, I'm now thinking I should have at least posted something, as I definitely didn't mean to come across as ungrateful - I loved my gifts and I'm happy that my partner, Mrs. L, liked the gift I made her!).

Anyway, this new exchange is for Valentine's Day, and I'm so excited about it because Valentine's Day is one of my favorite holidays to celebrate, at least at school - it's a great time to remind ourselves that we need to be thankful and loving towards one another, and it's a good excuse to have a little celebration! If you would like to participate in the exchange, the deadline to submit your info to Caitlin and Sarah is Sunday, January 22nd. They're also hosting a class Valentine exchange, but my class is doing our own thing with our first grade learning buddies, so I don't think I can handle adding that to my plate! If you want to join in, be sure to check out the info here!

PS - Ashleigh from Ashleigh's Education Journey is hosting a giveaway - you could win a $25 gift card to Amazon! I just got a gift card to Amazon for Christmas, and spend it all immediately - the only hard part was deciding to buy things I wanted or things I needed! If you'd like to enter to win, head over to her blog to find out more!

Monday, January 16, 2012

A Day In My Shoes Linky Party

Today I've got the day off, and I've been puttering around my apartment getting various things cleaned and organized, and then I'm about to head to my classroom - I know, I know, a day off and I'm going to school. But, I really can't think of anything else I'd rather do (besides maybe go shopping, and my bank account can't handle that right now). I have the whole afternoon to work in my classroom without any student interruptions or other teacher distractions, so I'm going to take advantage of it - plus, on Friday, my students got to launch the catapults they built and designed, and it took us right up until dismissal time to get it all done, so my room is a mess! 

Before I head out, though, I found a new linky party to join. This one is is called A Day in My Shoes, and it's hosted by Katie Klohn from Adventures of A 6th Grade Teacher. Head over to her blog if you want to link up, too!

Here's my typical day:

6:00 - My first alarm goes off on my phone. My alarms are all labeled, and this one says "Time to wake up!" The subsequent ones that follow are: 6:15 - No, seriously, wake up!, 6:25 - You'd better be up and dressed by now!, 6:35 - Time to be in the car! Do NOT still be in bed! Needless to say, I'm usually just getting out of bed by the 6:35 alarm. Oh well. 

6:35 - Get dressed, brush my teeth, figure out how to tame my mess of curly hair (I shower at night and go to sleep with my hair wet - some mornings my hair looks presentable; most mornings, it goes into a low bun or ponytail). Heat up tea to take to go (I hate coffee but I love chai tea - I buy chai tea concentrate and it tastes JUST like Starbucks - I just can't figure out how to "foam" my soy milk like they do - that's how Starbucks gets me!).

6:45 - Make sure kitties have food and water; grab tea, teaching bag, and purse and get my butt out the door.

7:00 - Arrive at school. Have to go through the front door by the office because they don't have an ID badge swiper for the doors by my classroom. Usually there are already kids waiting by the time I arrive - always makes me cringe because if my day feels long, I can't imagine how long it must feel for a child who is already at school by 7:00. Head to my room; unpack, check e-mail, make last minute copies or arrangements, if necessary. 

7:20 - First bell rings, kiddos descend. Students are expected to put away their folders, turn in homework, put their lunchboxes and backpacks away, then get started on their morning work. Sometimes I make them packets that last for the whole week; other times it varies from day to day. Every Friday, I write a prompt on the board and my students will write about it in their personal journals.

7:40 - Tardy bell; announcements start. We have a 5th grade AV team, and they broadcast the morning announcements live every morning. It's pretty cool, and my kids get to go on every few weeks or so to help say the pledges on air. 

8:00 - Check morning work using projector and document camera; move in to math lessons. I have several kids that get pulled for intervention classes during the morning, so I try to get started with math as soon as possible so they don't miss much. 

9:45, or thereabouts - Word work/vocabulary study - basically our time to focus on that week's spelling pattern or language arts skill. When we work on our spelling words, the activities vary from dictionary skills, alphabetical order, syllable sort, word finders, or anything else I can think of to make it more fun. The language arts activities also vary, depending on how far into the skill we've gotten.

10:15 - Intro to science or social studies, whichever I'm direct teaching that day. Science usually ends up being the subject I spend time direct teaching, since there are usually hands-on activities and experiments that go with it, so our social studies lessons usually end up being integrated into my guided reading or read to self stations (Daily 5, really, but my kids have taken to calling it read to self stations, so that's what I call it!). 

10:30 - Snack and recess. A break! Thank goodness - and since the weather's been wet and cold, we've been having indoor recess recently, and it's been great having an extra chunk of free time to answer e-mails, get myself ready for the next lessons, etc. 

10:50 - Specials/my conference time. Kids will either go to art, PE, or music, and this year, they've clustered our kids by gender, not by teacher, so ALL of the third grade boys will go to PE together, and then the third grade girls are then split into art or music - it's been a really good thing for the kids and for the specials teachers, because they get to focus more on the specific needs, wants, and social skills of boys and girls. While the kids are gone, I'm usually responding to e-mails, copying, working on the rest of the day's plans (especially my guided reading schedule), meeting with my team (if we need it), and taking care of various errands. We have a "quick copy" service at our school, and we can send off the copies we need to make to them and they'll have them back to us the very next day, in most cases, which is awesome (and it doesn't count against our copying code, so it's basically free for us!). But, it does take a lot of planning ahead to make sure you get it sent in on time, because as I've found out, just because you request it to be ready by a certain date, they do get backed up and it's not always for sure going to come to you on time, so the earlier you can request things, the better!

11:35 - Pick kids up from specials and continue with science lessons. 

12:25 - Lunch! Third grade has the last lunch of the day, so I have to make sure my kids get to the cafeteria on time because not only are they starving by this point, but the cafeteria ladies need to get my kids served so they can start cleaning up and get on with their day, too! By the time I get my kids to the bathrooms and handwashing station and then in to the cafeteria, I usually have about 20 minutes left for myself to eat and do whatever else I need to do, so that usually involves eating while doing other things. I keep a lunch bag of snacks at school so that I do not have to pack my lunch every day, and it has been a huge time saver in the morning, and I think it keeps me healthier! I always have cheese, apples or clementines, crackers or pretzels, and almonds on hand - sometimes I have chocolate milk, too (not from the school, though; my boyfriend's mom keeps me stocked with the Costco organic chocolate milks, and they satisfy me completely if I'm craving something sweet!). 

1:00 - Pick up kids from lunch; back to the room for a read aloud from our chapter book (which I need to start tomorrow - I haven't started one yet since we've been back to school, that's so terrible!). Then we move into guided reading and read to self stations. I've followed the Daily 5/Cafe ideas, and made it work for my class. Students don't get to choose the "station" they go to, unless that station has choices within it. I have 4 stations, and the kids start off at that station with their group, and they must complete that station's activity/assignment before they can move in to read to self. My stations are always changing, and to keep things short here, I'll tell about my stations in another post. As soon as students are done with their assignment or choice from their assigned station, they move right in to read to self. Since reading time does come at the end of the day, however, I have a few kiddos who start to get mighty restless and have a hard time remembering what good readers do - I have to give a lot of redirection while I'm trying to focus on my small group, so I need to find a good way to hold my independent workers and readers accountable.
2:30 - Bell rings; chaos ensues dismissal time. My folder people do their job of passing out everyone's folders, my paper people do their job of passing out graded papers or fliers or any other info pages that are supposed to go home to parents; as soon as everything has been passed out, my bus riders get dismissed first, then my walkers, then my car riders and day care kiddos. Students are expected to stack their chairs before they get their belongings, but every day I always have a few scattered chairs, as well as left behind coats and lunch boxes. I swear I wasn't that scatterbrained when I was in third grade!

2:40 - Depending on my dismissal duty (we rotate jobs on my team), I'll take the bus riders to the buses, take the walkers outside to the gym, or wait with the car riders to take them outside after the buses leave. Then the day is over and I go home! Haaaaaaa yeah right.

Depending on the day, I will either have a team leader meeting (Mondays), Destination Imagination practice with my 4th and 5th grade group of kids (Tuesdays and Thursdays), a faculty meeting (Wednesdays), team meetings (Thursdays), or RTI meetings (Tuesdays). I also work out every day that I'm able to with my co-worker - we've been trying to get in at least 3 workouts a week, but she also has a DI team, and she's also the team leader for her 5th grade team, so it doesn't always happen. But, we have really been making it a priority to squeeze in a work out before she has to pick up her daughter from daycare, and my body has been burning thanking me now that I'm on a more regular work out schedule.

Usually, I'm headed home by 5:30 or 6 - most of the after school meetings last until around 4:30, so I prioritize and get those things that must be done at school done first (printing, copying, etc.), then I'll load up my teaching bag with things that can be done at home (grades, lesson plans, etc.), and hopefully head out the door before the sun goes down. If I'm not able to get a work out in at school, I'll do that first thing when I get home, or else I won't do it. Then I make time for myself, to read my blogs, surf Pinterest, answer personal emails, etc., then do whatever else I need to for the evening - dinner, shower, grading, work on crafty things for my much-neglected Etsy shop, etc. I have been much better at making meal plans for myself, and that has greatly reduced my need to go to the store after work. Now that I'm planning ahead for my meals, I do all my grocery shopping over the weekend, and then I'm set for the week - I don't mind coming home after a long day and cooking, because I actually really like to cook, but if I've had to battle it out for a parking spot and stand in long lines at the store before I even get home, then cooking's not gonna happen. My boyfriend helps me cook, which makes the process go faster. Sometimes we'll go out, and sometimes he stays up at his place and doesn't come over at all, and if that's the case, who knows what I'll end up doing for dinner.
Just typing all that out makes me tired - do I really do all that every day?! No wonder I slept in til nine this morning. Of course, that doesn't even include the things I have to do for certain students - the modifications I have to make, the behavior charts I have to keep up with, the reteaching lessons I sometimes have to do with those kids who haven't quite gotten it yet - and the interruptions during the week like counselor, library, computer...but, crazy schedule and high demands aside, I seriously love my job, and I have a wonderful support system at school that includes my team, my administration, and the parents of my students - they definitely help make my job and my day-to-day happenings easier.

I hope you are all enjoying your day off - don't be a crazy person and go to school like I'm about to do!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Multiplication Monster Freebie

Our first day of school was last Wednesday, so because we had such a short week, I figured reviewing a concept we'd learned before break would be a better than launching into something brand new. Since we had just finished our unit on multiplication, I came up with this multiplication monster activity that not only served as a way to review multiplication facts, but also gave my students a chance to be creative!

My kids had a ton of fun getting to make their monsters! When I hung them up in the hall, I stapled the recording sheet underneath the monster so that people could see how the kids figured out the number of body parts their monster would have. Click the picture below to get a copy of the multiplication monster recording sheet! If you use it and like it, please let me know! (And a BIG thanks to Denise at Yearn 4 Learning for telling me how to link a picture to my Google Docs page - you are awesome!!)

Monday, January 9, 2012


A few months ago, I found this pin via Pinterest, and immediately loved the idea - I even tried to do with my students every few weeks, but several of them kept writing the same answer for every section (like "soccer" - really? you're currently listening to soccer? I don't think so), so I decided to let it go. Now that I'm getting back onto the teacher blog bandwagon, I figured it's finally time for me to submit one of my own. If you don't know Farley yet, she's the curator of all things Currently (at least, as far as I know!), and she's pretty hilarious. Here's my 'currently' contribution:

I thought it would be appropriate for my "one little word" to be focus - a few days ago, I was getting stuck on the word organize, but I think I'm already too organized for my word to be organize. So, since I want to make time management a priority, I'll definitely need to focus on making and sticking to a schedule. I also want to focus on myself - I want to focus on staying healthy and fit, and I want to focus on doing more things that make me happy - like crafting, cooking, reading, and blogging!

If any of you happen to find me through Farley's link up, I'd love it if you'd follow me! I think if I had more followers, I'd be more likely to keep up with my posting! I also have a few things I'd like to share this week, if I can figure out how to upload and embed documents to my posts! (Anyone have any tips for that? I'm at a loss - the only thing I can get to work right now is a big old ugly URL!) As for now, I have a few papers to grade before crawling in to bed - I always seem to have trouble falling asleep on Sunday nights, and as a result, I'm exhausted on Mondays. Here's hoping sleep will be on my side tonight!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Oh Hey, 2012...

When I started this blog, I really did have high hopes for keeping up with it - if you looked at my phone, you'd see tons of pictures I took specifically for sharing here, but I kept putting off blog updates for other things, some of which were time-sensitive (lesson plans, grades, holiday happenings) and some of which were just for me (crafting, reading, cooking). Blog updates would fall under the "just for me" category, and I've realized that, in order to accomplish all of the "for me" things I'd like to get done, I need to be more organized with my time. So, that's my goal for 2012 - to make a better plan of how/when to get things done, and stick to it. I need to be able to get my school work done and still have time to work out, read blogs, post in my own blog, run errands, cook, do household chores, and whatever else I might need or want to do. As of now, I've got a pretty good idea of how I can make all of those things happen on a daily basis, and even if they don't happen every day, as long as I'm getting more things accomplished than I have in the past few months, I'll feel successful. Have you found a good way to balance your teaching demands with your personal life? Do you have any tips to share? I'd love to know what y'all do to stay organized with your time!

I've already got my next few blog posts started, so check back soon to see if I've managed to stick posting - I can't wait to share some of the fun things we did over the past few months! Hope your new year has started off well - here's to a happy and healthy 2012!