Tuesday, June 24, 2014

summer summer summer: and a mini giveaway!

Yes, you read the title right - this post is about summer, and I have a LOT to say. But you can also enter to win my latest product! So humor me, read my summer post, and then comment with your favorite thing you've done this summer and your email address, and I'll choose a magical random winner later this week!
So I'm right up there in summer. I know because my butt is wearing a comfortable groove in the couch again. Don't get me wrong. I've been doing tons of stuff. My mother makes me wake up early three days a week 
yes, three days a week of my summer
to go to the gym with her. And although it's starting to grow on me, the gym is still one of the worst places in the world. It's only one step up from Best Buy, and that's just because there's actually something to do at the gym. Of course, by "something"  I mean excruciating, soul-sucking machines that force you to repeat awkward motions in three sets of fifteen. You do all of this so that, three weeks later, you can read the scale and see that you've gained four pounds. Yay gym.
This morning, after doing my time in the second-most-horrible-place in the world, I headed over to the pool. It's a neighborhood pool that you have to buy a membership to belong to, Once you've paid, they give you a key, and it's a swim-at-your-own-risk sort of thing. So today, after the gym, i decided to head over to the pool. I took out my key, unlocked the gate, and walked inside... and saw...
that I was ALL BY MYSELF! 
Yes! I had the WHOLE pool to MYSELF! 
I immediately commenced to doing my favorite things:
sinking all the way to the bottom
 floating around the pool with my eyes closed like a dead person
laying on a towel and reading Game of Thrones
I did these things for two hours, all by myself, and then I headed home. Home is about a 45-second drive from the pool, so yay.
Since then, I've been watching Wilfred (almost a complete season today) and working on my latest product: Super Hero Classroom Decor Set. 
That pretty much sums up the last few days, really. I sit around and work on stuff. Occasionally, I get a hankerin for somethin tasty and I eat huge bowls of cantaloupe or Greek yogurt with peanut butter in it. And honey. Lots and lots of honey. It helps me pretend it's ice cream, which I clearly cannot have because I gained four pounds by going to the gym. I consume cup after cup of coffee to keep me from eating something far more delicious - a frozen yogurt place opened up five minutes down the street. Cruel. It's probably for the best that we're broke.
This is what my cat looks like when I am watching TV.
So I sit and watch the cat and then I sit and watch Wilfred. When I get sick of Wilfred's sick humor, I bust out the big guns: I Love Lucy. And sometimes, I just get tired of the scenery, you know? That's when I move from the couch...to the loveseat. It's like a whole different view over there.
When my husband comes home, I pepper him with questions about the world: So what happened at work today? What did you have for lunch? What should we have for dinner? The poor man.
So anyway, if you're looking for something to do as you're repositioning from the couch to the loveseat, check out my new product: Super Hero Themed Classroom Decor Set! I'm so excited about it....almost enough to change my own theme from bees.....but not quite :) And if you'd like to win it, leave me a comment about your favorite thing you've done this summer and your email address! I'll choose a random winner this week!
Happy Summer!

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Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Summer Reading List Link-Up

If you're like me, you've got a stack of books that you're "meaning to read" as soon as you "have the time." Sometimes this stack is full of half-read books that you foolishly attempted to start during the school year. You've got a pile of professional books you're kind of looking forward to...in a way... and a stack of personal books you've been gifted or accumulated on your hopeful trips to the bookstore! 

To share my stacks with you, I decided to link up with The Hands-On Teacher for her Summer Reading List Link-Up! and talk about one of my favorite things to do: drink margaritas! Wait- I mean... READ! 

These are my stacks.
Professional Stack

In my professional stack, I have four books. I just finished posting about the last professional book I read, Igniting a Passion for Reading. You can read about that here!

I'm also excited about The Revision Toolbox by Georgia Heard. I'm going to put together some writing training for my campus using this book as a guide for the revision parts. She's one of my favorite writing authors, along with Kelly Gallagher. 

Teach Like a Champion is our summer reading book study. The next-to-last week of school, when I could TASTE summer already, my principal had an idea for me to run an optional summer book study for teachers. We only had a handful of teachers sign up, but I'm still looking forward to meeting with them. Sometimes small groups are the best! And I'll be able to share all of our conversations with you!

I just purchased Comprehension from the Ground Up by Sharon Taberski. I am SO EXCITED about this book! I love Taberski and I think she's done a beautiful job of identifying what's important in reading instruction. Can't wait!

Personal Stack

My personal stack is still kind of small. I'm working on it, though! Personally, I'm more of an impulse reader. I judge books by their covers all the time.

I'm partway through the first Game of Thrones, and while I'd like to read the series, they're so lengthy that they'd be the only thing I'd be able to read for a long time. So that may have to wait.

I bought I Am the Messenger by Markus Zusak because I really enjoy his writing. It's been sitting on my shelf for several months now, so maybe I can finally attack it this summer!

And one of my friends loaned me Divergent. There's a series that I can probably finish pretty quickly, so I don't mind starting it!

So what's on YOUR summer reading list? And what should I add to mine?

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Friday, June 13, 2014

Five for Friday Link-Up

So this week was kind of nutty. It was my "first week off" from school, but I had inservice on Monday and Tuesday, my brother graduated from high school on Wednesday, and yesterday I went up to school for half-a-day to get some odds & ends done. So today is my first day that feels like summer and I'm so happy.

These are the best weeks to link up to Doodle Bugs Teaching's Five for Friday Link Up! 

This week was full of family. On Sunday, we had a cookout at my husband's parents' house for his dad's birthday. The hunny was the chef and his dad tied his apron :)

This was a clever strategy for review that we used during the inservice I attended on Monday and Tuesday. After every major concept we learned, we went to a chart on the wall and wrote as many words as we could think of under each letter. The next concept we learned, we changed markers. Great and easy strategy for review!

On Wednesday, we went to a baseball game at our local minor league stadium. I had two margaritas. 

We had a great time!

And on Wednesday morning, my youngest brother graduated from high school! Proud of him for moving to the next big thing in his life: college. 

Want to share five photos from your week? Link up with Doodle Bugs!

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Thursday, June 12, 2014

Igniting a Passion for Reading: Book Study chapters five and six

This is truly embarrassing, but I really need to wrap up posting about our book study. We finished back in March (oh, goodness, that was a long time ago) but it seems that this is the first time I've had the energy and the minutes to share what we talked about! If you've been following these posts, I do apologize and I'm thankful to you!
Chapter Five
My Modeling Career: Igniting a Passion by Reading with Students
In teaching, you very quickly learn that, when you want students to do something - anything - no matter how simple or small, you MUST model it. Whether it's how to turn in their homework or how to respond to a short-answer question, you have to show them how it's done. In this chapter, Layne explains how that is true with the love of reading. 
It makes perfect sense. Do you want them to be readers? Then be a reader... and show them that you are.
A great strategy from this chapter is the "Hot Read". It's easier than it sounds. You choose a book at an appropriate level for your class. Place it in a special spot with a little sign that says, "Ms. So-and-so's HOT READ!" Model reading it for a few minutes during the day, and putting it in your bag to read at home that evening. After a few days, kids will start to request your "hot read". What a great, SNEAKY way to get kids excited about a book!
One important point Layne makes several times throughout this chapter (and the rest of the book) is how important it is for kids to know the authors of the books they read. If they know which authors they enjoy, they can find more books they enjoy. If they don't, they're swimming through a series of books without any sense of what they love.
Chapter Six
Can We Talk? Igniting a Passion Through Book Discussions
In this chapter, Layne discusses an issue that I've had in my own classroom. How to have meaningful book discussions without using roles that become limiting and awkward. I know I've used these roles in my own classroom - the "illuminator" and the "graphic artist," having each student assume a specific role and complete a mundane task in order to participate in a book discussion. But if you think about great discussions adults have with each other about books, they're more authentic than that. They include things like this:
* Retelling important pieces to clarify to the listener
* Reacting to a character's choices or traits
* Questioning what will happen next
* Describing emotions you felt when certain events happened
Instead of having students complete tasks, why don't we model effective dialogue about books and then provide them with a rubric of ideas to communicate with their groups? 
Layne also engages students in delivering their own Book Chats. For more about Book Chats, visit this post about chapters three and four of Igniting a Passion!
Thanks for checking out our Book Study!
Check back soon for chapters seven and eight!
Chapters One and Two
Chapters Three and Four
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