Sunday, June 30, 2013

Wednesday Featured Teacher!

Sorry. I've been a little out of pocket. Mostly because every time I look at my laptop, my brain says, "NO! It's summer! Watch a movie! Look at the garden! Read a book!" and I say "Ok."

Yesterday I actually tried to pick up my laptop. I clicked on Safari and opened two windows: facebook and blogger. The screen read, "Please check Network Diagnostics. Unable  to connect to internet."

I said, "It's a sign" and I closed it and went back to watching Boardwalk Empire.

But for some reason, today, I felt like, "YEAH! Get out the laptop, ladies! I've got some ideas!" and I did. The whole point of my post today is to share this with you:

I was a Wednesday Featured Teacher at It's a Jungle Out There:  A Teaching Blog! You should go check it out, and while you're there, grab the Guided Reading Freebie!




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Friday, June 21, 2013

Five for Friday! Linky

I've been completely off for one week (except for Monday which I just remembered). I spent this week doing things around the house which usually get neglected. This means that the things that usually get done are not done. I just replaced them with things you can't see with the naked eye.

Such as cleaning out the closets, painting trim, and trying out dozens of recipes from pinterest that I usually wouldn't invest the time in!

These are my five pictures that show what my week has been like:

It's a little embarrassing that most of these pictures are food. At least they're healthy food. I didn't take pictures of the apple strudel I made or the wine I drank all night. That's NSFB: not suitable for blog.)

I have cut up more zucchini this week thanI have in my whole lifetime. I tried three different recipes for zucchini chips (I have a thing for chips) but I can't get it right!


This is one of the recipes I tried. It was tasty immediately out of the oven, but it took them no time to get kind of gummy.



 Then I tried this recipe I found on pinterest, too! The original recipe came from FoodGawker. I left out the potatoes, though, and just used squash, zucchini, tomato, and onion. It was pretty tasty, but then, I like anything with parmesan on top!



This is my sneaky dog, Penny. She knows she's not supposed to be up there. We invited my family over last weekend and we were all sitting outside on the patio. When we came in for dinner, I left the cushions (which I usually put in the deck box for just this reason!) on the chairs. I looked outside and saw naughty Penny enjoying her evening.


And I think this is my mostest favoritest picture of all! My brother and sister-in-law are pregnant! They're due to have a little girl in September, and I've been a shopaholic. I bought the most adorable shoes at JC Penney last week. Couldn't help myself!


That's my week. Mostly food, a little family, and some time in the yard!
Now go check out all the other link-ups at Doodle Bugs!
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Thursday, June 20, 2013

Throwback Thursday: Math File Folder Games

I am at a total loss for what to write about. My brain is seriously in summer mode, and you can only talk about all the tasty snacks you've made so many times.

Fortunately, First Grade Parade is having Throwback Thursday!

My instinct about this was that it was going to be about clothes from the 70s, but that was not correct. Mrs. Carroll wants a blast from the past: for us to re-post a blog post from the olden days.

I hunted back through all of my old posts, and honestly, it's a little embarrassing! I guess my blog has evolved in some ways, but there are some pretty silly patterns.

At least, as you'll see in the post below, I've figured out how to arrange my pictures!



For my Throwback Thursday, I chose a post about some math ideas that really helped me in my fourth grade classroom. It was also great for the school-home connection that was so important to my kids. It was also one of my first posts that wasn't holiday-related, because I started blogging right after Thanksgiving!

So check it out, get some ideas, and when you're done, go link up with The First Grade Parade for Throwback Thursday, or spend some time browsing through the other link-ups there!



-Original post January 27, 2012-

*This is a linky party. I wrote the whole thing and realized I left that out! But it should be obvious, cause I'm not good at coming up with specific things to write about. I'm a rambler. So here it is:

Link up with the Lesson Plan Diva about Center Organization!
Do it!!

So, I'm kind of a mess.
To be organized, I really have to think about, like,
Ok, I have this thing in my hand. Where am I going to put it?
Is there a place it goes?
Do I want to walk all the way over there?
I probably should.
Walk, walk, walk.

Wait. Why am I over here?
Absentmindedly set belongings down in the wrong space.
An hour later, I'll find them and wonder why they're there.

So I have to create systems.
My necklaces hang on little hooks in my bedroom
and my earrings are in compartments like a tackle box.

My barrettes
yes, I'm an adult and I'm allowed to wear barrettes if I want
hang on a ribbon in my bathroom
and I have a special, designated place
for my keys in the basket by the front door.

That's what has to happen to keep me running.
If one of these things doesn't happen, I'm up a creek.
You know which creek.

So my center/station activities have to have a special system, too, or they don't happen more than once.

This is how I organize them.
It might not fit everybody's needs, but as an upper grades elementary teacher, it's really helped me stay organized. Keep in mind, centers aren't my favorite. My style is not too center-y. For you diehard center or station people, you might be kind of waaaaay beyond all this basic stuff. But maybe something will help out!

Centers may not be my favorite. But I love file folder games. So...

All of my centers become file folder games. All of them.

I glue the instructions on the front and the activity on the inside. I try to shorten it to only a couple of pages so it fits inside, but if I have to, I glue two file folders together to make a muy super wow expandable folder.




On the back, I glue some sort of sheet where kids have to practice the skill in writing with a vis-a-vis.
I take all the little pieces, stick them in a zipper baggie and staple the bag to the inside of the folder.








This one's not very pretty. 
It is special, though. The letters necessary to build the sight words on the orange cards are in the little bag. They're stuck on magnet tape. Then the kid can build them on the magnet tape string and write them with a dry-erase marker.

Wow. I just realized these pictures are pretty bad.

Then, they all go in a file folder crate. I have one for reading and one for math activities, and one special one for sight words.


Math: Needs a new label.


Reading: Also needs a new label. Like the extra junk underneath it?
Yep, it's all part of Ms. B's charm.

Is it just me, or can you never get your pictures to line up the way you want them?

To get extra mileage, I also use the games for this:
Family Math Weekend!
Or, Family Game Weekend!
Every weekend, with my kids who struggle in specific areas, I send home a game that they can practice.
This is the letter I send home to parents. Grab it here.

Clipart by ScrappinDoodles, border by Karen Cox: TPT Store.
The first time I sent home a Family Math Weekend 'Game' with my students, I sit them down to try to psych them up a little. This is how the conversation went this year. (Honestly. This is THE conversation. I am in black and the student is blue. Obviously, unless they are sending home extra stuff for ME to learn over the weekend.)
Notice how everything I say ends with an exclamation mark because we fake it till they believe us.

You know how we spend a lot of time practicing good math skills?
Yes. suspiciously.
And how we have to keep practicing to hold on to those good skills?
Yes. even more suspiciously.
Guess what you get to do this weekend?
What?
You GET to take home a fun game to play with your parents!
I GET to?
YES! You GET to!
Oh.
Yeah! I know! You get to take this game home and play with your family!
I GET to?
Yes! And then you GET to write down what happened on this cute paper with the bees on it and bring it back on Monday to show me how smart you are!
This sounds like extra work.
Oh, it's not work. It's a Game! See? It says GAME.
But it is math.
Yes, it's a math GAME!
So...it's like a video game...that I play by myself...except I'm going to play it with my family...and it's on paper.
Yes! Exactly like that!
Hmmm. a little excited. So it's like they played games before they had electricity?
Yup! That's exactly how they did it!
Okay! a little brightly
Teacher chuckles diabolically, having finally tricked the student into doing what he's supposed to do and liking it.

 Included in the file folder is this sheet for the student to fill out with their parents:

Happy Family Math Weekend!

Monday, June 17, 2013

Monday Made (too much of) It! Kale Chips.

So I have been off for about three days and I think I've made excellent use of my time.
I already told you about how I painted the grout in my bathroom. I love it so much. I just go sit there and look at it and think about how nice it looks.

I mean, I would be spending some time in there anyway, but now, I'm enjoying it.

I've also watched the entire first season of Wilfred. It's dark and twisted and I like it.

In addition to these outstanding accomplishments, I've been trying to eat better. (This doesn't count Sunday, which was Father's Day, because that's a holiday and holiday foods don't count. That includes my tasty Village Inn breakfast of eggs, cheese, and various breakfast meats, nachos at my grandfather's house, and the bratwurst on the grill we made for my dad. Whew! Good thing it was a holiday!)

I have, though, been eating better the past couple days. I made myself a smoothie thing but it came out a little gloppy. I drank it anyway, but I have a feeling it's supposed to be a little smoother. But this isn't what I'm sharing about for my...


Then I hunted all over pinterest for some tasty and better-for-me things I could make to snack on during the day. And I happened on... kale chips!

This is my kale adventure.

I had never purchased kale before. I've heard lots about it. "It's a superfood." "It's so good for you." "It really helped me control my diet." What I hadn't heard was, "You can make it into chips."
CHIPS? Yes, please.

So when I hit Wal-Mart for my SUMMER IS STARTING shopping spree, I added to my cart a giant bag o' kale. And then I got it home, and I looked at it and thought, "Now what do I do with you?"
After about an hour of pinning (I started out looking at kale and ended up pinning things like "sexy shoes", "my patronus is a bookworm", and "pretty wedding hair") I settled on this recipe I found at Carla's Confections.

But I never quite do things as I'm told. Mostly because I'm impatient and pretty lazy. So this is what I did:
I poured some olive oil in a large plastic zipper bag and dumped a bunch of kale in it. I tossed it around and poured the kale onto the pan.  I turned my oven to 275. Then I stuck the pan in and set the timer for thirty minutes.

After fifteen minutes, I looked in the oven and the kale was still squishy. Probably because it had only been fifteen minutes and I was supposed to leave it in for, like, forty. But I got impatient because I really really really wanted some kale chips, which I'd never tried before, but I assumed I really wanted them because they have the word 'chips' in their name. So I turned up the heat to 325 and set the timer for ten more minutes.

After ten more minutes, I went back in the kitchen and poked my head in the oven and they were kind of starting to look done-ish but not quite, so I set the timer for five more minutes.
When the timer went off, I went in and took the pan out of the oven and saw that I'd kind of burned up half of the kale. 

So I took the pan and poured the kale chips/ashes into a bowl and I started over again, pouring olive oil in a bag and filling it with kale (it was a really enormous bag) and tossing the kale in it. Then I stuck it into the oven at 425, because I'd found another pin that said 425 was a good temperature to bake kale at. I set the timer for twenty minutes. 

Then I took the bowl of kale ashes & chips and salted it.

And I ate it all.

So then I went back into the kitchen after twenty minutes and took out the kale that I'd baked at 425. Aaaaannnndd...

it was also kind of ashes-y and a little oily.

So I turned the oven down to 275 and poured a very very small amount of olive oil into a large plastic zipper bag and dumped some kale in and tossed it around. Then I put it onto a pan (again) and put it into the oven. And I left it in there for thirty minutes. During this time, I ate a second bowl of kale ashes and olive oil.

When the timer went off, I took out the third pan of kale and dumped it into a bowl. 


And I ate it all.

So all in all, I ate three pans of kale chips and ashes. It was pretty tasty by the third time around. Kind of like broccoli but crispy. So I would recommend it. But I would NOT recommend eating three pans of it in one day. I do NOT want to tell you the consequences of consuming that much kale in such a short time. Let's just say I've had plenty of time to appreciate my excellent grout-painting. 

I'll give you a minute to think about that...

Make sure to link up with Monday Made It with Fourth Grade Frolics! Very fun.

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Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Earth Day: Michael Recycle* DELAYED POST!

Okay, so I really like Earth Day, all right?! 
I didn't intend for my Earth Day post to come out in June, but, you know, sometimes things happen. Like sometimes you ask the teachers to have the kids finish coloring their pieces and sometimes the teachers misunderstand and sometimes they send them home with the kids and sometimes you have nothing to put on display until sometimes one kid brings her piece back to school and you can share your post.

And then you forget about it cause you're on crazy endofyear mode until the Tuesday after school lets out, but then you already posted about your toilet, so you schedule it for tomorrow. 

Anyway, that's why my second half of my Earth Day post isn't happening until the second week of June. I figure it's not actually that much worse than my MLK Day post in March, right? 

So anyways...

With my third grade pull-out group, we focused on the 3Rs. Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle. 
First, we watched a BrainPop Jr. about the 3Rs and we charted out the important ideas:
We used what we'd learned to complete The Lesson Plan Diva's Earth Day Craftivity Freebie! (That's a lot of capital letters.) You can grab it free at TPT. I also did this with my kids last year. Short & sweet, but they enjoyed it. You can read about the whole persuasive writing conservation unit shenanigans here.
Not the best picture, but you get the idea.
Then, we read Michael Recycle!
It's pretty cute, it rhymes, and it's an easy read. Yay, right?
After that, we had fun.
We brainstormed a list of words that were related to "Helping the Earth." It was a pretty hideous chart, so I'm not picturing it here. My next charts are also terrible, so you can imagine how bad the one I'm actually censoring was.
I modeled (badly) making up a name for a superhero using one of the words off of our list and a blast of alliteration! I'm Captain Conservation.

Then I wrote several sentences using as many C-words as I could (because Captain Conservation starts with Cs) describing how Captain Conservation helps the Earth. I also modeled (as you can tell by the hideous-ness), some revising.

Yeah, that's the ticket. Revising!


Then, I embarrassingly sketched out what my finished product would look like. 

The kids, of course, went to town and had a blast. These is one of their pieces:


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Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Yes, it's a picture of my toilet.

So I am wrapping up my second day of summer vacation. So far, I'm off to a grand start. And I'm not even being sarcastic this time.

Normally, at this point in the vacation, I have a whole list to share with you: a list of TV shows I've watched. Although I do have a short list, it consists of episodes rather than whole seasons (yes, in the past, even after two days, I've managed to view whole seasons. But not this time!). 

This is because I spent all of my day yesterday painting the grout in my bathroom. 

I hated my bathroom grout. I'm not sure what happened, but immediately after I'd had it done, the grout looked dirty. I have two theories for this. 1. The guy who did the grout (a beloved family member, so I couldn't tell him) got dirt in it. Or, 2., the bathroom window has a tiny gap in it which is unsealed and it allowed dirt into the bathroom and into the grout. I personally think it was a combination of the two.

Needless to say, my grout grossed me out. It looked AWFUL! And it spoiled my otherwise cute little (tiny) master bathroom. So I've been looking at that grout every singled day, thinking, "The first thing I'm going to do over the summer is PAINT THAT GROUT!" 

And I DID! 

I bought grout paint from Home Depot last year. I painted a two-inch strip and thought, "that could work." I intended to do it last summer, but then I was offered the position as a Literacy Coach at my current school and spent most of my summer packing, moving, planning, and sobbing with uncontrollable guilt about leaving my previous school. So, you know, I was busy.


It's not perfect, but it is sooooo much better than it was before. Makes me want to just go sit there for a while and appreciate the bright white-ness. 

I feel so proud of myself. I actually accomplished something. Even if I do NOTHING else, all summer, I can say I got a home project done! So yay for me.
So what've you been doing so far?


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Tuesday, June 4, 2013

I'm BA-AAAAACK: Differences between being a teacher and a literacy leader

I haven't blogged since April. I didn't realize how long it'd been until today. This represents a problem to me: my home-work-blog balance has been out of whack. I have been disproportionate in the home and school areas and my blog has taken a hit.

I think it's a common issue around this time of year. We're busy and tired. 

Plus, I'm planning my WEDDING! so my head is somewhere else. 

Today I started tearing down my room. I have three more days of school and so I figured it was about time. I shoved and stacked for an hour and a half and managed to do most of it - one of the many differences between being a classroom teacher and a literacy leader. 

This year I learned many differences between being a classroom teacher and a literacy leader. These are a few of them:

6. I work hard and I work just as many hours, but I don't feel stupid at the end of the day. When you're teaching, it's like the kids suck all the brains out of your ears from 7:30 - 3:30, and by the end of the schoolday, you're stupid. (disclaimer: I'm not saying teachers are stupid. I'm saying I was definitely dumber by the end of the school day than I was when I started it.)

Then you stay until 5:00 to get things done, but you're stupid, so they don't always come together so well. After that, you pack your laptop and sit on the couch and work all night until you drool on yourself and fall asleep. That still happens, but I don't feel so stupid anymore. I can remember days when I literally couldn't put sentences together coherently. Now, at the end of the day, I'm tired, but I'm not drooling, so it's been very different.

5. I plan the lessons with the teachers, but I don't actually get to deliver most of them! So I have a weird feeling of un-closure. Like I left the unit hanging, even though the teachers took the lessons back to their rooms and used them there.

4. I can't just close my door if people in other grade levels bug me. I have to be nice and work with everybody. That was a bit tough at first, as I got to know people and learned their styles. Now it's easier.

3. My room isn't really my room. I guess that's not a difference in a way. As a classroom teacher, your room is your kids' room. And now, my room is mine and my teachers', because I want them to be able to come in, take pictures, use resources, and get what they need to get whenever they need it. So my door is always open. It's nice, though, because I get to talk to other teachers during the day, like during their conference times. 

2. I don't have my own babies, but I can often borrow others' babies. I get to work with small groups and large groups but they're still not really mine.

1. I get to go to the bathroom almost whenever I want! That sounds weird. I mean, I don't spend all day in there or anything; it is still a bathroom after all. But I can often go when I need to go, instead of when I have to go. It's been quite nice. Makes me feel fancy.

It was an exciting year and I'm glad I made the leap. My heart is in the classroom, but if I can make things happen in many classrooms from where I am now, that's pretty fulfilling!



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