Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Something is Better Than Nothing


This post doesn't contain much, other than an excuse as to why I'm not going to be posting my Economics Part II as soon as I'd like - right now, I'm not even close to finishing working on three days of sub plans - on Thursday morning, I'm going "home" to North Carolina for my cousin's wedding. North Carolina is my "home," I say, because I've never actually lived there, but my mom is from NC and the majority of her family still lives there, and since my family moved around a lot when were growing up, North Carolina feels like home to me. Sadly, though, my grandmother just moved in to an assisted living facility, so the house I grew up visiting (and the house my own mother grew up in) is now on the market. I am so grateful to have one last visit to the house before it sells; it's the only permanent home I've ever had - the coat closet still smells like my grandfather, and he passed away in 1997 - I know I'm going to cry my eyes out when I have to leave.

Anyway, enough of the sad stuff; I'm super excited to get to spend some time with (and celebrate with!) my family. On my mom's side, there are only 4 grandkids - my cousin is just 5 months older than me, and his sister is a year younger than my sister, so we are all super close, and I'm so happy that his wedding weekend is finally (almost!) here.

So, while I have been tweaking things to share with all you lovely ladies, I've got to focus on getting these plans done! I'll be back from the wedding Monday night and will have a TON to do next week (parent conferences, a multiplication egg hunt, and a baby shower, to name a few...), but I hope to be back sometime soon with something to share. Oh, and for my fourth and fifth grade Texas friends who had their first STAAR test today, I hope it went well! I was thinking about y'all today!

Okay, back to the plans! See y'all next week! :)

PS - While I don't have anything of my own to share, a few other ladies do! Erica Bohrer's new book from Scholastic is all about spelling centers, and it just came out! You can win a copy of your own! Click her blog button below to go to her give away!
Also, Erin from Creating & Teaching is hosting a giveaway for some pretty sweet new software called My Memories. Click on her button below to read her review and find out how you can win this software for yourself! 

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Economics, Part I

Hello teacher friends! I am sorry for my absence; we have had an extremely busy (and fun!) first week back from spring break. We have spent the last few weeks learning about Economics, and on Wednesday, the third grade hallway turned into a market place! Our students made a product at home over spring break, and then brought their products to school to sell! All the kids in the school come to our "stores" to shop, and our students were responsible for creating an advertisement for their product, making change (the shoppers were spending REAL money!), counting their money at the end of the day, and calculating their profit. This is one of my most favorite third grade activities because of how exciting, engaging, and meaningful it is. Our class had the highest profit out of the 4 third grade classes, and the money we earned will go towards our end of the year field trip. Here are some pictures of our transformed classroom:
Each student had table space to set up their "store."
The nail painting "salon" (the only service sold in our class) and Angry Bird pet rocks.
Clay art and cookie brownies (whipped cream was an extra 25 cents!).
So many shoppers in my classroom!
Some of the products my kids made were glow in the dark slime, key chains, cookies, hair accessories, bracelets, necklaces, pipe cleaner rings, and duct tape wallets, just to name a few! Before Market Day happens, most students have difficulty understanding what it means to make a profit, but after the big day, they really get how businesses work - they understand that, to make a bigger profit, they must keep their expenses low, set a fair price, and make enough of their product that they don't sell out immediately, but not so many that they're left with a bunch of leftovers. They realized that the person who had the most money at the end of the day wasn't going to necessarily have earned the highest profit (and in fact, that was the case - the student with the most money at the end of the day actually only made about a $10 profit because their at home expenses were so high!). 

I have so many fun Economics lessons I want to share with y'all, but right now, most of what I created for this unit is very customized for my class and my school, so I want to tweak a few things to make them more useable for everyone before I share them. Check back in a few days to see if you can use any of the great activities and lessons for your own Economics unit!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Blogging's the Best!

Hi friends! I hope you all had a wonderful weekend! I spent the majority of my day at school today prepping for the week - can't it be spring break forever?!

I still need to type up my lesson plans for the week, but I wanted to say thank you to a few fabulous blogging friends first. I seem to neglect my blog most during the week, and I can't let more days go by without recognizing these ladies! 

First, I was among the first commenters on a few giveaways, and I want to say a big thank you to Abby from Third Grade Bookworm for her fabulous St. Patrick's Day file and Kristen from Ladybug's Teacher Files for her awesome syllable game. I love that I was able to use their products quickly and easily, and didn't have to create something on my own - while I do love making my own stuff, I don't always have the time or energy, so thank you, ladies, because your products made my days easier!

Next, there are two bloggers I want to say thank you to because they shared some of my work! First, Courtney from Miss Third Grade used my Monster Multiplication freebie (found here on TpT) with her class and shared it on her blog! Then, Karen from KB Konnected wrote about my free font on her blog (and she also took the time to email me about how to make the Pin It! button work, which was super nice of her!). It really makes me happy to see and hear about people using and liking the things I make, and I appreciate these ladies taking the time to share my stuff with their followers! (Similarly, thank you to those of you who stopped by to leave a comment about my blog redesign - I'm glad y'all like it!!)

There are also a couple of great giveaways going on right now, and I wanted to share them with y'all, just in case you wanted to enter yourself! Molly from Lessons with Laughter is giving away a $25 Target gift card, and she's also shared a sweet discount code for Erin Bradley Designs. Then, Bethany from The Bubblegum Tree is giving away a few different goodies, like clip art (which her husband made!) and a set of Editing Ed pens (which I so want to win - I went shopping specifically for crazy hair like she used, and couldn't find it anywhere!!). Head over to her blog to enter for your chance to win! Both of these ladies had their giveaways in honor of reaching 100 followers - I think I'll do the same when I get there myself (I'm halfway there!). 

Then, I know I'm a little late joining in on this, but just in case there are a few of you out there that haven't heard of it yet, Lorraine from Fabulous 4th Grade Froggies is hosting an upper grades teacher blogger linky party - click the button above to join in! I can't wait to have some free time to go check out everyone who linked up - there are a ton of blogs I haven't ever seen before, so I hope to find some new inspiration there (and maybe some of them will find me, too!).

Finally, Marcie from 2nd Grade Learning Safari awarded me with the Top 10 Blog Award! I've seen this award on a lot of other bloggers' sidebars, and I'm happy to be able to display it on mine, too! I will pass along the award later this week, because I am going to need some time to snoop around y'all's blogs to see who hasn't gotten it yet. :)

Thanks for sticking with me as I went through all that! I just want to be sure I'm always giving credit where credit is due - thanks again to all the great bloggers who show and share their creations, stop by and comment, and pass along and use my ideas, too - that's what makes blogging the best! Have a great night, y'all!

Pin It

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Font Freebie!

Hi friends! Happy St. Patrick's Day! I'm knee deep in laundry and reorganizing my apartment - I just got the furniture delivered from my grandmother's house, so I'm trying to make everything fit in my tiny apartment. After I finish all that, I'm going to go meet some friends for some Irish celebrating (my aunt is really into genealogy, and my maternal grandmother's side of the family does indeed hail from Ireland, so I owe it to my ancestors to enjoy this day!).

Before I get back to work, I wanted to share with you a font that I created with the iFont Maker on my iPad - I call it Plain Print, and it's the font I used for the signature you see at the end of all my posts. This was the first font I made on that app, and it's very similar to my actual handwriting. I bought a Bamboo stylus to use on my iPad, and it made making this font a breeze! (**Just to clarify, I purchased the iFont Maker app and the Bamboo stylus myself; I am not being paid to review, endorse, or share their products - I'm simply telling you about them because that's what I used and I love what I made!**)

Anyway, I submitted it to dafont.com, and they accepted it! Click here to download it for free! I'd love to know if you end up using it - leave me a comment if you do! :)

Also: If you are like me, you probably do most of your blog reading through Google Reader or Blogger, and don't visit blogs all that often unless you're commenting. But: I redesigned my blog instead of writing lesson plans one of the nights I was up at the observatory, and I absolutely love how it turned out (I was previously using a free template from here, and while it was super cute and well made, I never felt like it was really "me".) For my background, I used a polka dotted digital image from here - if you've never visited Mel's blog, she's got some GREAT ideas and tons of freebies - go check her out!). I even made my own banner and button, using my Plain Print font! I'm very proud of my first attempt at creating digital images and messing with HTML, so if you have a second to come check it out, I'd love it if you would (and tell me what you think!).

Have a great weekend!

Monday, March 12, 2012

12 on the 12th

I'm spending the first few days of my spring break out at the McDonald Observatory in west Texas with my boyfriend JJ - he's an astronomer, and he has to work the whole week of break (and then some), so I decided to come out with him for a few days. We drove out here from Austin yesterday, and then tried to stay up as late as possible so we could adjust to the observing schedule. Right now, I'm in the control room of the telescope while he works, and I'm keeping myself busy by blogging, spending WAY too much time on Pinterest (I'm actually getting sick of it, I've been on it so much today!), and working on next week's lesson plans. 

Since today is the 12th, Kacey from Doodle Bugs Teaching has decided to turn what she's been doing for awhile into a linky party - on the 12th day of each month, take 12 pictures to document what your day was like, and then link up to Kacey's blog! So, since I'm on break and I'm out in the middle of nowhere at the observatory, my pictures are much different than what they would normally be like on a Tuesday, but here's what I've been up to today: 

1. A game of Gin Rummy at 2 am helped us stay awake.
2. Updated the background on my phone.
3. The view from our room at the Astronomer's Lodge. 
4. On a walk around the grounds - steep hills + altitude makes for one tough walk! 
5. Mirrors on the HET - 92 in all!
6. View from the catwalk on the 82" telescope, which is where my boyfriend works. 
7. JJ working in the control room. 
8. Love this compass on the ground floor of the telescope building. 
9. Got my hair to curl using this technique.
10. Dedication to W. J. McDonald. 
11. I went exploring in the library - so many volumes about Mercury! 
12. Still shot of JJ working on the telescope, as seen from a video camera that was streaming through his computer.

I'll be going to sleep when most of you are waking up tomorrow morning, so here's to a productive night for me and a restful sleep for y'all! :)

Friday, March 9, 2012

Currently and Catch Up

Hey there, friends! After two days of benchmark testing, I am SO ready for spring break! At least the kids have a test to work on during the 4 hour testing window - I just had to walk around and actively  monitor - booooooooring!

Anyway, I wanted to share just one more solar system activity we did two weeks ago. We read Margaret Wise Brown's The Important Book (I'm sure you all know it well!), and we discussed the way the author used lots of descriptions to explain to the reader why and how that item/object was important. Then, I told my kids they were going to write their own important book, but there was a catch - their whole book had to be about the sun, so everything they wrote needed to explain how and/or why the sun was important. I made each kid a book out of a single sheet of long construction paper, following this tutorial, and they turned out so great! Here's what a few of my kids thought was important about the sun:
This student made his own copyright page - the little rocket says, "Better than Scholastic!" - haha!
Love this illustration (and isn't his handwriting beautiful?!).
He wrote, "The sun makes the moon gloe (glow)." - shows me he was paying attention during our moon studies!
I love that this student drew the orbital lines with his planets!
I was proud of this student's connection of the sun to the water cycle - great thinking!
I am so on board with what this girl drew - I'm ready for sun, bathing suits, and laying out by the pool!
This idea (which came from our curriculum, interestingly enough - I'm not always on board with their suggestions, but I really loved this!) could easily be used with any subject or concept - you could make an important book about a character from a story, an animal, habitats, adding, subtracting, and whatever else you can think of! This activity was great because it was self-directed, and it showed me who had really learned the important concepts about the sun and who hadn't. My kids enjoyed making their books, and even asked if they could make more important books about the planets - my answer was an enthusiastic YES! :)

Now, on to this month's Currently, courtesy of Farley, of course! I created this yesterday, and then ended up not having time to post last night, so that's why my answers sound a little off, but still, here's what's up with me these days:
Your 3 words are supposed to be words that your students, friends, and family would use to describe you, and the words must start with the first letter of your last name. I think I'm a pretty reasonable teacher (I was also going to cheat and write "Really organized," but that's two words and organized doesn't start with R, but I thought it would be a good answer since my students actually DO tell other people that I am really organized!!), my friends know they can rely on me for just about anything, as long as it doesn't involve starting something after 10 pm, and my family definitely thinks I'm a bit random. I send stream of consciousness emails, I love tomato products but hate raw tomatoes, and I enjoy recreating the scene of Buddy the Elf on an escalator when I go to the mall. Maybe that makes me more ridiculous than random, but I digress...

Before I go, I found out yesterday that I was awarded a professional development grant I applied for a few weeks ago from my district (yay!). I'm so excited, because (a) this was my first time to ever apply for a grant and I got it (!!), and (b) it means I get to attend Debbie Diller's Summer 2012 conference in Houston. I'm only going to attend the first two days, since the third day seemed like it was geared more towards lower grades, but I was wondering if any of my blogging friends would also be in attendance? Since I won my funding through the grant, I'll be the only one attending from my school, and maybe even from my district, so it'll be a great opportunity to meet some new people. If you'll be attending, let me know, because I'd love to meet you!!

Now I'm off to start my spring break right - with a glass of vino and a line up of TV shows from Hulu. I'm already in my sweatpants; it can only get better from here. Happy spring break y'all!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Shout Outs and Thank Yous

Okay, I swear I'm not a Sunday-only blogger, but it seems that's been the trend recently. But, now that my PDAS evaluation is done, most of my ESL requirements are completed, and DI is over, I hope I can keep up with my little blog more than just once a week! 

Today, I must say thank you to a few ladies - first, to Christi from Ms. Fultz's Corner. She gave me the Liebster Award a few weeks ago, and it took me until this weekend to realize she had! I feel terrible for not acknowledging her award sooner, but I'm doing my part today to say thank you to her, as well as pass on the award to a few others. Liebster means "dearest" in German, and the award is inteded to help up-and-coming blogs get the attention they deserve. The Liebster award should be given to new blogs with less than 200 followers. I am well under the 200 follower mark, but I did see today that I have 40 (awesome!) followers, but it'd be pretty sweet to hit 50 followers...that'd be a good reason to host a give away...just sayin'!
Then today, I also saw that Emily from A Circus of Learning awarded me with the One Lovely Blog award, which made me feel loved even more!
Since the Liebster award requires the torch be passed to those bloggers with fewer than 200 followers and the One Lovely Blog award requires I: (a) post a link back to the person who sent it to you, (b) follow that person, and (c) pass the award on to some other amazing bloggers, I'm going to combine the two awards (is that allowed? I hope so because I'm gonna do it!) and give a shout out to a few of my blogging friends. After poking around a bit, however, I realized that most of the blogs I follow have already been shown some Liebster and/or Lovely Blog love, so in an effort to be original, here are two of the many marvelous blogs I read that I want to pass these awards to:

Lauren from The First Grade Diaries - She makes amazing clip art, and she was so sweet to answer some of my questions when I asked her about how she creates her stuff. You can also check out her Etsy shop here to see just how cute her stuff is! 

The Bubblegum Tree - I have found several ideas from this blog that I am definitely planning on using in my own classroom (at the top of my list is to make Editing Ed pens - I mean REALLY how cute is that?!).

Ladies, your ideas and blogs are so creative and inspiring - please know that you, as well as all the other amazing teachers out there, have made a HUGE difference to me. I am a better (and probably more fun!) teacher because of all of the wonderful teacher bloggers out there - thank you, thank you, thank you for showing and sharing your ideas, creativity, and ups and downs. I have never felt more empowered or supported as a teacher as I do now, and I am so happy to have discovered and become a part of this amazing community of teachers.

Here's to a wonderful week, y'all!