Saturday, December 31, 2011

Why Twilight Stinks

I know this post will have consequences.

I have already been informed that I may lose followers.

Sometimes it's important to take a stand.

The other day, my friend texted me and asked, "Wanna go watch Twilight ironically?"

If he had asked me to watch it sincerely, I would have said no. Oh, save it. I gave it a chance.

I gave it four chances, by which I mean I read all four books. Why did I read all four when I didn't enjoy the first one?

I was waiting for something to happen.

Something like Bella developing a personality.

It didn't.

So, although it only took me a few days over the summer, I feel like that time was pretty much poorly spent.

I hadn't seen any of the movies. I figured they were cheesy.

Until this one.

I know I didn't exactly approach it with a good attitude. Instead of thinking, "Now's my chance to see what this is all about," I was thinking, "Now's my chance to see that I'm right and this is ridiculous."

Yes, that could have colored my thinking, but I think I still would have identified these reasons why Twilight stinks.

1. You could see the makeup on Edward's face. Nuff said.

2. During the werewolf summit, I felt like I was watching a Disney movie. They were snarling and snapping and growling and speaking telepathically and it was still so cute.

3. Bella still doesn't have a personality aside from self-loathing. Edward's only character trait is old. That's it. He's old. He's like two hundred years old and he still enjoys spending his time with sixteen-year-olds? I don't even like spending time with sixteen-year-olds and it hasn't been that long since I've been one.

4. When Edward dramatically declares to everyone that the other wolves can't hurt someone who's been imprinted on, and he says, "It's their most important law," I heard "It's their mostest importantest law."

5. Can you say green screen? In some scenes, it looked like they were standing in front of a movie about a beach. Didn't they have budget?

6. Aren't the vampires supposed to be gorgeous? Isn't that the point of the whole series? Rule number one of vampire movies - vampires are hot. Ummm...I didn't see too much to look at. Alice was the only one who didn't look like she was wearing a wig. Carlyle looked like he should have been part of a Swedish Eurokid band, and Esme had a fivehead. Seriously, like she ran into a wall or something.

What bothers me about all this is that everyone acts like there was so much hotness to drool over. I don't know. Jacob and Edward look like little boys.

When Jacob is strategizing with the Cullens, my friend turned to me and loudly said, "For military strategists, they sure are gossipy."

So I'm sorry if this means you hate me. I had to speak the truth.

To further illustrate my point so eloquently, visit The Oatmeal and find out How Twilight Works.

To make it better, I have a freebie for you! Yay!

Two posters: synonyms and antonyms! The rhyme can be sung to the tune of "The Farmer in the Dell".
Grab it here at my TPT store for free!

Also, new at my TPT store is this LoveBug Plurals Activity. Kids sort the nouns into two groups: adding s or es to make it plural. Then kids record the singular and plural forms of the nouns.

Don't forget to participate in my 50 Follower giveaway to win my Love Bug Synonyms and Antonyms Pack! Do that here.

Happy New Years!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Whew! What a week. Plus a freebie!

This week, was hectic, to say the least. What with working with our little buddies, wrapping up instructional units, the faculty luncheon, the reindeer revue (a holiday concert in which the superintendent sings Christmas songs with professional musicians and encourages the kids to form conga lines. Seriously; I'm not making that part up.), the class holiday party, book exchanges, and all the other hullaballoo and hoohah that goes along with the last days of school in December, I was more than a little nutty.

In order to maintain a reasonable amount of nervous excitement in my classroom and keep the minions under wraps, I devised a sneaky system of keeping track of class-wide behavior and making them 'earn' their holiday party. For whole-class good behavior, they earned an "Oh Yeah!" which is a smiley face on a chart. For poor behavior, they earned an "Oh, No!" or a smiley face on a chart.

They had to earn ten more smileys than frowns, (reinforce math skills - oh, yeah!) in order to earn their holiday party. It just so happened to work out at the last minute (almost like someone planned it that way! hmmm.....) that they earned one final smiley to complete their 10 smiley difference. We had earned our holiday party, minutes before it was scheduled to begin. Whew!

In other news, we wrapped up 2011 with a few fun activities. The first one was our digraph trees:

I made each kid four little trees and wrote our spelling words (words with different digraphs in them). The kids colored, cut them out, and sorted them. It was a fun idea.

Eventually, though, the incessant cutting got a little old for one of the kids. "This started out fun. But's kind of horrible." Haha! Oh well, kid, that's what Christmas is all about!

This is the front. Notice the adorable angry birds ornaments!

This is the inside: this is the sh tree. There were sh, th, and ch trees.

With our little buddy class, the kids made these cute snowmen (a pinterest find). Some of them were absolutely adorable! 

 Some of them were more like The Nightmare Before Christmas.

Then the kids wrote acrostic poems: "Snowman".
Grab it here!

I posted a while ago about using In November by Cynthia Rylant to model student writing after. Check it out (freebies included) here. My students wrote poems titled "In December". They came out pretty great! This was my favorite - this little guy struggles to express himself but he really produced something great! Look closely at the words - they're illustrated to match their meaning! His idea.

And last but not least, I got some adorable Christmas gifts this year from the kids. This was one of my favorite things (probably ever) and I'm sure you know why!

I can't wait to get my coffee BUZZ on in the New Year!

Happy Teaching!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Buzzing about Biography & Winter Word Work Freebie!

Oh, biography, why are we studying you right before Christmas when I what I really want to do is spend all day reading Christmas and holiday poems and stories? But alas, we live in the land of NCLB, and if children don't understand biography the difference in point of view compared to an autobiography, we'll all end up dead from zombie attacks, killer robots, or thinking we can control dinosaurs by making them lysine dependent. I'll do what I can, future, to make sure you don't happen like I think you might probably happen anyway.

Anyway, I am SO EXCITED to be teaching biography! I know Snowflake Bentley would have been an awesome awesome choice, but I needed something where everyone had a copy for shared reading. This being said, I also wanted to kill a few birds by reading about someone who had been a "good citizen" and address some of our social studies standards. This is how we ended up learning about Helen Keller (always a shocking read for little people, and for myself, actually. It blows my mind a little) and Harriet Tubman. We practiced reading for information and gathered facts on our graphic organizers.

First, as a class, we read about and recorded facts about Helen Keller:

 Then, we read about Harriet Tubman, recorded facts, and made the graphic organizer into a little foldable.
I don't know why Harriet looks so terrified
yet otherwise emotionless in these pictures. 

Inside of foldable

This week, we'll be reading an autobiography and comparing the points of view between the two.

Also, sometimes this week (probably Friday) we'll be doing this word work! After perusing my free printable from Teachers Pay Teachers and reading about building words from the letters in "Winter Wonderland," I decided that is exactly what we need to do in order to keep children from overdosing on candy in my classroom. So here's what it looks like (the letters can be cut out to manipulate) and you can grab it here.
Happy Teaching! (And Happy Christmas)

You can grab my whole Building Words for all Seasons on TPT!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

A Christmas Story and Figurative Language Freebies

Warning. This is long. (But don't worry - you get a freebie at the end!) It's long because it's about Christmas (kind of) and I am what has been called a "Christmas Crazy." By this, it is meant that I love Christmas. Not just the day or the day before, or presents or whatever. I LOVE CHRISTMAS from week I get out for Thanksgiving until January. Because of this,

I put up the tree by myself.

I put up all the decorations in the kitchen myself.

I put up all the decorations in the living room myself.

I do all the Christmas shopping myself.

I wrap all the presents myself.

I put up everything. Myself.

I do this because no one wants to help. By which I mean, my boyfriend doesn't want to help.
"I'm going to buy some lights and put them up outside the house today," I told him last Saturday.

"That's nice, hun," he responded.

He didn't offer to help, exactly, so I thought I'd give him another chance.

"Yeah, I'm going to hang them up with the staple gun. I have the ladder already..."

"Okay, that's good," he said.

Hmmm... not biting. Let's frame this differently.

"Yeah, I'm going to have to be pretty careful. You know how my driveway is slanted and the roof is peaked in the middle? I'm probably going to have to be pretty high up the ladder. Like, almost at the top. And I'll be on that slanted driveway."

"Yeah. You should be careful."

This was becoming a battle of passive aggressiveness. He couldn't not know what I was trying to say. He just didn't want to acknowledge what I was trying to say, because then he might have to help me. I decided to give it one more try.

"I'm a little worried about it. You know, our custodian fell off his roof the other day, putting up lights."

"Wow. Well, be careful!" he said, cheerfully.

Needless to say, I climbed the ladder myself and began stapling in lights. Of course, three quarters of the way through, I ran out of lights. I. Ran. Out. Of. Lights. For any of you who has put up Christmas lights, you know this is one of the most terrible things that can happen. You're up on a ladder, grouchy about putting up these stupid lights, when you were the only one who wanted them up in the first place, and your hands are all chapped and the ladder keeps wiggling like you're gonna fall off it, and you keep stapling crooked and you think, "Just one more string," and then you're out of lights. It stinks.

Then, I realized I had been stapling up the wrong lights. What? you ask. The wrong lights? How can they be wrong? Aren't they Christmas lights?

Yes, they were Christmas lights. But they were green. Like the kind you put on a green tree - the light bulbs were white, but the string was green. GREEN! On my white-trimmed house! How did I put up three strings of lights and not notice that they were green? Yes, I know it's not the MOST important thing, for the string to be white. But I'm not exactly loaded. These lights were going to have to last me for several years. And I didn't like them.

So I went to Target and bought some more.

Of course, first, I tried passive aggressively (at this point, you're saying, "Why? It clearly doesn't work." to get my boyfriend to either 1. buy the lights for me or 2. put them up for me. Nope, I wish you had been around to warn me, because it didn't work. I just did it myself. I pulled down all the green ones and went to Target to get some white ones. And then I went home.

I was about three quarters of the way done, and I ran out of light. Not lightS, but light, as in light from the sun. Not feeling very comfortable perched at the top of the ladder, stapling up lights in the dark, I decided to wait and finish them the next time I had a chance. Which, of course, was a week later, aka today.

This morning, I finished putting up all the lights. I dragged the ladder around, probably giving my neighbors a very Chevy Chase in Christmas Vacation-y show, and managed to attach all the lights to the house. Satisfied, I flipped the switch and was prepared to bathe in the glory of a well-lit house on the middle of a winter's day.

I stood admiring my handiwork. Until I noticed that there was a chunk of lights that wasn't lit up. It wasn't lit up! IT WASN'T LIT UP! I nearly lost it. By which I mean, I lost it. I threw a private tantrum inside my house, disgracefully 'slam-bangin' things around, as my mother would say, and dragged the ladder back over to the burned out part of the lights. Clambering up the ladder, I traded all the unlit lights for a new light bulb until I finally found the loose one (not burned out; just loose) and shoved it back in its socket. They lit up and I was happy again.

Ah, this peaceful time of year makes me happy.

Anyway, for those of you who would like to know about school stuff, my sister-in-law, who teaches fifth grade, asked me to make her some posters for figurative language and poetry structures. The figurative language poster set includes simile, metaphor, alliteration onomatopoeia, personification and imagery.

Grab the the whole set of figurative language here at my TPT store!

*Newly updated!

Get your metaphor and simile freebie here!

Then we got a little excited (happens to everyone when they're doing cute classroom stuff, right?) and we put together some posters for the special structures of poetry: stanzas, repetition, and rhythm & meter. Grab them at my TPT store here!

Happy Teaching!

P.S. I let my boyfriend read my lights story and he got kind of sad. Apparently, it's not nice that I'm portraying him as "unsupportive". I put this in quotation marks because they are his words. However, he did admit that he knew what I was doing when I was passively aggressively trying to sneak him into helping me with the lights, so I don't feel that bad about it.

P.P.S. Our custodian is okay.

P.P.P.S. If you want to give me something for Christmas that isn't very expensive, and is also free, you can give me a comment because they make me happy!

Monday, November 28, 2011

In November... FREEBIES!

This last week of November, I am going to start something new in writing – we are going to work on poetry! To lay a foundation for the kinds of language kids need to be using for poetry, we are going to read In November by Cynthia Rylant.

I have the text typed up and I’m going to give a copy of the text to each kid. I don’t want them to see the pictures yet. Then we’re going to sort some of the lines of imagery from the book onto this chart.

After that, we’re going to illustrate a class book. Each kid will get one page to illustrate using the details from the text and we’ll compile them into a book! This is what some of our pages look like so far.

LOL Love the scarf.
This bear cracks me up.

This text prompted a LOOOONG
conversation about the meaning of
the word 'beneath'.

Next, I want to start working on using the kinds of language we found in In November to help us create some of our own beautiful language. I’m going to divide the class into teams and give each team a picture of a December-like scene. They’re going to record the details they can observe with their five senses on this chart.

Then we’re going to practice using the details to write some beautiful lines, using language like Rylant does in In November.

This is all just prewriting to get the kids thinking about the kinds of language and details they’ll include in their poem.

Once we’ve practiced writing beautiful lines, we’re going to plan out our poems using this graphic organizer (based on the main ideas from In November, but simplified). 

Then, after we revise, and edit, we will publish on some pretty paper.

I want to do some kind of cute project-y thing with it. I need some ideas! :)

ALSO! I heart teaching elementary is having a great giveaway of the book Awakened: Change Your Mindset to Transform Your Teaching. Visit here to enter!

*Fonts from, clipart from Scrappindoodles.

Thursday, November 24, 2011


Thanksgiving is here! Thanksgiving is here! Is it bad that, in my mind, the word Thanksgiving rhymes with the word pie? Yesterday my mother and I baked fifteen pies. Fifteen. Today, I plan to eat most of them.
One more pie was still in the oven!
This morning, I woke up thinking about turkey. OK, you probably did too, but these are the two ways I was thinking about turkey today:

1. I had a dream that my mother told my boyfriend he had to eat a plateful of spaghetti before Thanksgiving dinner was served so he wouldn't eat so much turkey. Because on my brother's birthday, my boyfriend at all the guacamole & tostadas. (This second part actually happened.)

2. A memory of a Tense Turkey day in my classroom floated to the top of my brain. This is the memory.

Several years ago, my formal observation fell on the week before Thanksgiving. My kids and I were writing pieces about turkeys - "The Adventures of the Turkey," and my kids were definitely in turkey mode. I had a little girl, Sally (name changed), who had some special needs and didn't understand lots of social norms. She had spent all day acting as a turkey, gobbling and chomping her beak. She was in character.

My assistant principal came in (loudly) and proceeded to watch the lesson (with only minimal interfering). Having been formally evaluated, I am sure you know the range of emotions racing through my teacher brain - oh my God what is Jamie doing - that answer didn't even make sense - what do you mean you don't remember - sit down - sit down - sit down - no you can't have any water right now -you're making me look bad - look smarter - sound smarter - be smarter!

After an uneventful forty-five minutes (during which time, my AP was undoubtedly was able to uncover every aspect of my teaching) she rose and walked towards the back of the classroom. I began to breathe again and started to think maybe everything was going to be ok. Then...

As she passed Sally, Sally turned, and almost in slow motion, I saw her reach out and grab her leg firmly (grabbed the leg of my assistant principal - the leg which was clad in a pastel green polyester suit) and cheerfully shouted, "Turkey Leg! Chomp! Chomp!"

The class froze. I froze. My AP froze. Sally stared at her happily.

"More like a chicken leg with these skinny legs!" my AP shouted back. Everyone laughed uncomfortably until my AP left the room. Sally continued to chomp happily, unaware that she had just caused me to wet my pants. Lord. Children make me crazy.

That's the only observation I've ever had that went a little weird. Anyone else have any observation stories?

Also, Thanksgiving bonus! Here's a little number line game with an ornament theme to use in your classroom.

Grab it here.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Water, water everywhere

By the time the kids get to third grade, they usually have  a LOT of background knowledge from the investigations they've done in changes in states of matter, and from second and first grade.

That also means that they might have a LOT of misinformation filed away in their brains.

It's really important to access their background knowledge to make sure you clarify any misconceptions that they have.

There are a few ways to see what kids "know" about the water cycle - read about them below!

Step One

So first, we did a graffiti gallery walk to activate background knowledge.

I put four charts around the room with four different pictures, but no labels: a cloud with raindrops, arrows pointing towards a forming cloud, a water running down a hill into a lake, and a sun shining down on water with arrows pointing up.

The kids moved in groups throughout the room, writing what they saw and knew about the pictures. They already knew a lot!

Step Two

Next, we watched a Brainpop jr. about the water cycle.

Step Three

Then, we made these foldables!

I heart foldables :)

Step Four

This was an easy activity to do that you could use as a pre-assesment, a regular assignment, or a quiz to see if students are understanding the basic processes of the water cycle. 

Just have the kids cut out the labels for each stage in the water cycle and glue them on where they belong. Using this as a teaching moment? Have kids place them where they think they go. Then check it together so they can move them to the right spot if they need to!

This water cycle cut and paste is actually part of the free download on TpT!

In our ensuing conversations, I was enlightened about what my kids do outside when it rains.

"What's precipitation?" one of the kids asked.

"It's any form of water falling from the clouds to the earth, like rain, sleet, snow, or hail," I said.

"What's hail?" one of the other kids asked.

"It's like a ball of ice."

"Yeah," one of the kids said, "and it's a choking hazard." Dead. Serious. What the WHAT?!

I expected the other kids to laugh, but they mostly just nodded. I chuckled and asked, "A choking hazard?"

"Yup." Apparently, when it's raining my students stand outside, staring up at the sky with their mouths wide open, in danger of choking on hail.

My job is awesome.

For this folded flapbook and so many more cool activities for teaching the water cycle and weather, check out my Water, Water Everywhere Unit on TPT!

Friday, November 18, 2011


Today was turkey-licious! We spent the morning working with our second grade buddies to make these Synonym Turkeys.

My neighbor down the hall did Turkeys in Disguise. 
There were all different kinds, but these were some of our favorite.
Lady Gaga

Ben Roethlisberger

The King!
But I think this one is my favorite.
The biggest turkey I know! Our principal! 

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Turkey Day! (and tiny marshmallow dumbells)

I was going to call this post "Edible Turkey Day," until I thought about it and realized...Duh. Turkeys are already edible.

Every year, my school holds two holiday luncheons. One is for Christmas and the other is for Thanksgiving. For Thanksgiving this year, the kids in odd numbered grades (1,3,5) have to make decorations and they can invite their parents to come have lunch with them. For Christmas, we'll switch. Usually, I end up doing wall decorations - this is easy! They can make a wreath or color something. But this year, I ended up with table decorations. I wanted something 3-D that the kids could take home with them and put on their own table, so I decided to have the kids make the same turkey I used to make when I was in school. Apparently, only a couple of them had ever done it before! So I went off to Wal-Mart and bought apples, marshmallows, toothpicks, paper plates, and gumdrops.

First, the kids colored some leaves and cut them out. They glued them to cover the bottom of a plate. Then they took an apple and made it into a turkey. Super simple, but Kids. Love. Marshmallows. In the middle of the toothpick-marshmallow madness, from the other end of the room, I heard one of the kids grunting, as in 'lifting a heavy box' grunting, or 'struggling to change a tire' grunting. Glancing over, I saw Abraham (name changed) straining and groaning to lift...

his tiny toothpick-marshmallow dumbell. Lord. Maybe it's the long hours, but I started to giggle. And once I started I couldn't stop! I think I laughed about that little dumbell for about twenty minutes. Not normal.

So anyway, this is how the turkeys turned out.

 The kids were super excited and I think I answered the question, "Can we eat it?" about fifty times. I also averted two turkey mohawk disasters and caught one little guy licking, "But I'm not eating it!" a marshmallow. (I think my favorite part is the little feet we had to add on so they would balance upright. They look like they're wearing little turkey shoes! :)

Also, guess what?! The 5Ws cube I uploaded the other day wasn't quite square on each side! I tried it out myself today and was a little disappointed with the dimensions. I uploaded the new and improved file and everything should be better now. In case you'd like it, here it is.
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