Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Thankfully Stuffed

Tomorrow is the first year I'll be hosting Thanksgiving in my our home. My hunny moved in about a month ago and we're having his family over tomorrow (thankfully, just his parents and godfather) for Thanksgiving dinner.


I've helped to make every item on a Thanksgiving table, and made some of them exclusively by myself, but I've never made the whole meal from start to finish. Without supervision from my mother. This will be a challenge. To make things even more exciting, my hunny's parents only speak Spanish. I mean, there's a smattering of English in there, and I've got my high school Spanish, which you can imagine how excellent that it, but suffice it to say our conversations aren't exactly scholarly. They sound like this:

That's nice.
You like it?
Yes. I like it. It's good.
Yeah, I like it, too.
I don't like that one.
No, I don't like that. Fernie does.
Fernie does. Yes. I don't.

That conversation could have been about any noun. Cars, cake, sofas, television shows, people, blouses, any noun at all. And that's really all we have to say, despite a lot of things that we think. Today was PIE day. 

We (my mother, sister-in-law, and I) made fourteen pies, fifty-some empanadas, a lemon thing, and
cranberry sauce. Why am I so full? Because I taste-tested every item; some at multiple stages in their development. 

Hmmmm....that apple strudel looks tasty. Taste taste.

Now I'll put it on the apples and mix it up. Num nums.

Now I'll roll a little in a little ball of dough. Mmmm...

Not healthy, I know, but it is what it is. Just being honest. Maybe making some of you feel better.
I decided, at the very last minute, to participate in A Year of Many Firsts Stuffed with Thankfulness Linky Party! My thankful things are similar to everyone else's. No one ever says that they're thankful for baking powder or carrots (although those are two extremely useful things. Baking powder for making tasty biscuits and carrots for making...what else? Carrot cake). But it's good to share.
I'm thankful for this guy. He's my hunny. 

Not Martin Luther King. I mean, he's great, and I'm thankful for him, too, but my hunny is the one on the left.

He's on the right in this one. That other guy is Babe Ruth. 
These people make me pretty thankful, too:

My best friend, Rachel. 

My great sister-in-law, Stephanie. Super fun to be around, and she's a teacher, too, so we bore everyone with our teacher talk.

All my bros and my parents. This is John & Stephanie's wedding, about a two years ago. We're lucky that, even though we tease each other mercilessly, (see below) we all actually like each other; something my hunny frequently reminds me of.

The other day, we celebrated my brother Ben's twenty second birthday by playing the game "Partini." This is a dangerous game. For one round, we had to write things about the person who chose the card and the person had to decide which was funniest and which was truest. 

These were some of the statements written about me:

- I am a man who has funky teeth and I'm not as smart as I think. (from John. How sweet.)
- I am down to Earth (opinionated). (from Ben. This was truest.)
- I like tasty things (from Stephanie. This was funniest. Because it was true)
- I am the boss of can I can I have I can do anything I try to do! (this was mom. She struggled a bit.)
- I was such a mean teacher to my students they told me to teach other teachers. (from Matt. Insightful.)

Other highlights: "I'm the smartest one around. When I'm not around family." and "I can't fix anything without breaking it first."

That's pretty much what I'm thankful for. Of course there's a home, job that I love, and my furry friends, but the people are the biggest piece of the pie.

Go link up with A Year of Many Firsts!

And don't forget to check out my One Year Blogiversary Giveaway & Sales! That's how I am showing my thankfulness to you great followers!

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Sunday, November 11, 2012

Marshmallow Multiplication - Freebie!

I get a little overzealous when it comes to the holidays. You may remember this from my Christmas Story post last year. I survived my Christmas lights debacle, but it's a challenge I undertake every holiday season and I really can't say if I'll make it out alive this year.
Last night, a cold front blew in. This gave me the justification I'd been waiting for to start making winter and Christmas themed products. It doesn't take much to justify my fetishes.
I spent all evening working on my Winter Themed Roll and Color Math Boards. I'm actually pretty happy with them. I wish I was a kid so I could go back to school and do stuff like this, instead of having Ms. Welch (true story) call me up to her desk in the front of the room and ask me my multiplication facts in front of everyone. I was not good at multiplication facts. I'm not sure why, but they were completely elusive to me in third grade. My brain wasn't ready to work that way. So every time Ms. Welch called me up, I walked hesitantly up to her desk and prepared for the challenge by hyperventilating. This did not prove an effective strategy.
Ms. Welch: 4 x 4
Me: 16
Ms. Welch: 4 x 7 
Me: 28
Ms. Welch: 4 x 9
Me: ...
Ms. Welch: 4 x 9
Me: ...
Ms. Welch: Go sit down.
Me: *squish*
How awful, right? And then I'd sit there and watch Jolene and Abby get them all right. I'm sure they're very successful now with all that multiplication fact knowledge at their fingertips.
Anyway, as I was saying before I interrupted myself with an opportunity to beat myself up, I made these fun games. And I got super psyched about Christmas and winter in general. So this morning, I awoke from a dream about making winter-themed publishing paper for kids to write on. I loved those papers when I was a kid and my kids always seem to love them too. I got up early (for a Sunday, anyway), and made some tasty coffee. I fed the dogs and began hunting for my Charlie Brown holiday set. What better way to get myself into the seasonal mood than watching Charlie Brown's Thanksgiving?
Just looking at it makes me happy.
I might need to add at this point that, when my hunny moved in, all of his stuff moved in, too. And a lot of his stuff included electronics. With wires. And plugs. And cables. 

In other words, stuff I didn't have.

So we had to find lots of places for stuff. Such as a playstation. And speakers. And an amp. And about a thousand (slight exaggeration) DVDs. 

My little stack of DVDs paled in comparison with his bazillions of them. So when I went to look for my Charlie Brown holiday set, I had several places to hunt.

I looked in the cupboard. I looked in entertainment center. I looked in the closet. I looked in my hunny's office.
It's gone. It's gone forever. I don't know where it is and I'm very sad.
So now I'm watching Elf. 
I'm still working on my holiday themed papers, but I am a little depressed about Charlie Brown. How suitable, I guess.
Even though I'm sad, I have a freebie to offer you! It's one of my roll and color boards from the Winter Themed Roll and Color Math Boards Pack. (That's a long title)
Oh, and by the way. My hunny just came out of the bedroom where he was taking his winter's nap. He asked me, "Hunny, why are you watching Elf?"
"Cause I couldn't find Charlie Brown."
"Hun, it's in the entertainment center."
"No, it's not."
"Yes, it is. You have to look behind the other DVDs."
Oh. Found it.
Here's the whole pack - grab it at TPT or Teacher's Notebook.

And here's your freebie! At TPT or Teacher's Notebook.

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Saturday, November 10, 2012

Saturday Camp: Super Fun.

If there's one thing I looooove, it's a good theme. No, the holidays. No, baking. 
Well, it's all of those things, and today was a great day, because all of them happened. At school!
Today was the second Saturday in our ELL (English Language Learners) Camp. In my city, we have a high proportion of English Language Learners, and in my school, it's the majority of the kids. A lot of our kids don't have the Engligh support at home and it is not uncommon to have new students, just arrived from Mexico and with little to no English language. We are up for anything at all to help our kids grow in the language, and if that means getting up early on a Saturday and doing some crazy stuff, then that's what's happening.
For our ELL camp, we invited our kids who hadn't made enough progress last year in the English language and planned all sorts of fun poems, songs, activities, and, what the kids (and I) will probably remember the most: cooking!
What kid doesn't like to cook? I haven't met one yet.
These are some of the things our kids 'cooked' and did today and last Saturday.
Last week, our second graders made rice krispie treats! It was hilarious.
This week, our second graders had a pumpkin theme.
They read and acted out Five Little Pumpkins, and then they did all sorts of fun stuff!
They measured pumpkins and cut them open to take out the seeds. They counted out the seeds and sorted them into groups!
"Ew! This is gross!" was the most repeated phrase this morning.

They made no-bake pumpkin-ish pies.
And they were actually pretty tasty. (That can be rare when children are doing the cooking.)

Our fourth graders had a Chato's Kitchen theme this week. 

They sorted beans of different types and made a graph. (A few kids requested their very own bean to take home as a souvenir lol)

Then they made enchiladas! Some very creative teachers brought in a little griddle and fried the tortillas for a minute. The kids dipped the tortillas into the chile.

They put cheese in the middle, rolled them up, and scarfed.

As I walked by the fourth grade room, I overheard them working on a sentence patterning chart. They were adding nouns, verbs, adjectives, etc. As they were adding to their list of adjectives, one of the teachers said, "You'll probably know this adjective! I always say, 'I'm going to go-'"

Clearly, she was going to finish with 'crazy.'

"TO THE BATHROOM!" shouted one of the kids.
I cracked up. Kids have no idea how goofy they are.
These were just some of my favorite highlights from our little Saturday camp. 

So this is my big question. What do you do to support your English Language Learners? 

Also, I have a new product to share with you!
Gobbling Up Words: Thanksgiving Themed Word Work!

Grab it at TPT or Teacher's Notebook.

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Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Writing Talk

I know my blog posts don't always show it, but I have a secret dream. It's probably a pretty common one. I am a teacher after all, and teachers love words.

Before I was a teacher, I was a nerdy child. This, actually, is an understatement. I was THE nerdy child. A straight-A student, following instructions to the letter, and never deterring from the self-righteous path that I had determined as the only right way to do things. I worse big, almost-perfectly-round glasses with wire frames. I had crooked teeth between which my tongue would occasionally protrude, trying to form a lisping "s". I say 'had'. I should say 'have'. I cried when I got my first B in third grade math, and I loved books. I loved to read. I spent hours squirreled away in my bedroom reading Anne of Green Gables. All of this undoubtedly pushed me in the direction of a young writer.

I had a notebook that I religiously carried around with me. An unceremonious purple spiral, with the wires uncurled and sticking out on either end, making it look like some kind of a medieval instrument of torture. It was filled with page after page of my "novel," about a magic hallway mirror ugh, the cheesiness in the house of some older, kindly women, loosely based on my aunts. Later, when I moved from Dallas to El Paso, the novel changed. It was now about Annie, a young girl who, not unlike myself, moved and started over in a new town. However, Annie, unlike me, quickly met a handsome young man with striking green eyes, and fell in love, her life surely to end in unbelievable happiness.

I had a penchant for drama, okay?

But all that cheese is not really my point. My point is that I loved to write, so I spent my time thinking like a writer. Thinking like a writer is what helped me grow, not only as a writer, but as a reader.

Do our kids love writing?

If they don't we have some problems. If they don't love to write, and spend much of their day doing it  - and I'm not only talking about fiction here; I'm talking about at all - then we are missing out on a vital tool that will grow them as readers, and thinkers, and individuals.

We're trying to build some reflective writing practices on our campus. One way we're doing it is by using the language of writing with our kids. We can help them grow in their sophistication by growing their thinking about the choices they make in their writing. Because writing is nothing if not a series of deliberate choices to make an impact on the reader.

Here's a little anchor chart I put together to encourage kids' using more sophisticated language to talk about their writing choices. I used the released questions from the Texas STAAR Writing Fourth Grade Test and other sources as well. Then I organized the stems into the three categories on the writing rubric, to help students think about the purpose of their conversations. 

You can also grab this freebie to use these tools in your classroom! Included in this pack: teacher reference sheets (color and black and white) and response cards to use in writing response/revising groups or for students to use independently to revise their own writing. Grab it free at TPT!

Let's grow some writers!
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Sunday, November 4, 2012

Indecision: our sofa adventures

So my hunny and I have recently taken to inhabiting the same domicile. That is, he moved in. And we're very very happy. 

One of the reasons we're very very happy is cleaning. For me, cleaning = something I do when I have nothing else to do or something I do when it's absolutely necessary = rarely.

For him, cleaning = something to do when it needs to be done = frequently.

So I'm cleaner now.

Laundry is another bonus. (Except for the socks I keep finding on the den floor.) And his technology skills are handy to have around.

Oh, yeah. And since I love him, I do like to be with him a lot. 

Those are the things we're happy about. There are other things, though. Things we're 'happy' about.

*We're 'happy' that we rearranged my furniture and found places for his stuff. 

*We're 'happy' that now, instead of my pretty cream comforter with off-white pinstripes, we have a poop-brown comforter on my bed. (For the cat, hunny, he said. To make her comfortable.) 

*We're 'happy' that he spent the afternoon stapling cables up around my our den ceiling so we can have surround sound which I don't care about. Which means we're also 'happy' that he put up five speakers in a small room to explode my brain.

We're incredibly 'happy' about all of those things.

I know that sounds like I'm not really happy, but we are actually very happy. And those things that aren't my favorite, but are his favorite, are just part of the territory of loving someone who isn't your clone. 

Having a non-clone hunny requires you to be an adult instead of a child. Specifically, it requires you to C.O.M.P.R.O.M.I.S.E. 

Yes, compromise. Such as you give a little and I give a little, and before we know it, we've reached a beautiful compromise that we both hate equally. This is happening right now with our own personal Indecision 2012: The Great Sofa Search.

My hunny is a picky pants. By this, I mean he has a perfectly good sofa and loveseat, which my bottom enjoy very much. However, he doesn't enjoy them for the following reason: "I don't fit." 

"What do you mean, you don't fit? I can see you fitting right now."

"Yes, but I don't fit right. Cause the armrests aren't smushy enough so I have to use a pillow and now I don't fit anymore."

I looked at him on the couch. He fit. He was using up the space between the armrests and didn't seem to require additional space. To me, that means he fit. That's what fit means. Look it up.

"You fit. You're fitting. You've fitted."

"No. I don't fit. Can we get new couches?"

Oh Lord. Decision time. Now we have to compromise.

I prayed we'd get lucky. I prayed we'd magically happen on a perfect couch that would match beautifully with the style of the house and provide the 'fit' he was looking for. We set off to our first furniture store optimistically, expecting to be pleasantly surprised.

We have since visited five different stores. We walked through New Deal, Furniture Row, Ashley, National Furniture Liquidators, and another store that neither of us can remember. (We must've blocked it out.) I can summarize this lame adventure with a few phrases.

- Nope. Poop brown.
- Nope. Arm rests aren't squishy.
- Nope. Looks like the eighties.
- Nope. Too narrow.
- Nope. Sticky fabric.
- Nope. Hate it.

My hunny's problems are due to comfort. For him, it's Comfort, with a capital C. He doesn't look at a sofa; he feels it. He pokes all the armrests before he sits down to make sure that they will be squishy enough for his dainty head. He smooshes down into the cushion to tell if frame is going to be hard. He lays down in the store to make sure he 'fits'. 

My problems are far more logical, I'm sure you'll agree. 

I like pretty things. 

I don't like ugly things. 

Most comfy sofas are ugly. Poop brown, eighties style, and another indescribable quality I refer to as "Ew." 

So we're at a bit of an impasse. I'm not really sure what should happen here. I think I should win. But I'm an adult now, so.... I may have to let him think he won before I actually win. You know, compromise.
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