November 14, 2016

The Chaos and Choices of Life

"It took leaving, for me to understand. Sometimes your dreams aren't what life has planned." - Lady Antebellum 

It has been a very interesting year. As I sit here again, staring at the last blog post written in July, so much has happened and I don't even know where to start. I have spent the last several years worried about the "what ifs" and possibilities of a life I hoped for... only to find out that life just wasn't for me. It's been a rough few months- emotionally, financially, and physically exhausting- but at this point the only thing left to do is forgive myself. I quickly admit that I had made a mistake, I set about fixing it (which was a very hard choice) and now I am here. Back to a life that for such a long time, seemed so temporary, so not-quite-right. I need to forgive myself for being human and wanting something better, and understand that everything happens for a reason. Then I move on and make the most out of this life I never fully wanted, with the understanding that it's the right choice for me and my family. 

Soon this blog will be lively and beating with the hearts of new 3rd graders, cute smiling puppies, and one happy teacher <3

July 19, 2016

Guided Reading Idea

Moving back to first grade this year, I loaded up on the #targetdollarspot magnetic letter packs for $1. What perfect use for word work during guided reading or even word work during centers or whole group phonics. I knew I wanted to get some small container so the students could easily store the letters... so I went hunting! I found the perfect little containers at Michaels! These 4x6 photo holders are MADE to fit these letters- AND the best part is that they were $1.19. Talk about a bargain! I grabbed six for my small group table and set to organize and prepare them. That's when the genius idea of magnetic tape hit me! How awesome is that! Now the kids have a small tidy little workstation right at their fingertips! 

June 27, 2016

Monday Made It

Linking up to start the week with #MondayMadeIt 

It's been a crazy 2 weeks of summer so far. I am busy get prepped and ready for another amazing year! 

I have been slaving away the last few days creating a new clean and colorful label set for my classroom this year. I was having so much fun creating it, I just kept going! I am so excited for this beautiful baby and cannot wait to use it in August! It's 20% for the first 48 hours to celebrate! Stop by and grab it for $1.60 until Wednesday night! Pick them up here!

It's a little late but I wanted to share the simple, quick, and cheap end of the year thank you gift I put together for my parent volunteers. Lets be real for a minute, great volunteers make the classroom experience that much better. In all honesty, I may have lost it a few times throughout the year with everything there was to do and these three lovely ladies stepped up, often with very little notice, to help out! 

Throughout the year, I snapped a photo of the parent volunteers helping in the classroom with their child. I edited them only to make them black and white, because black and white images are just so precious and seem really upscale to me-- then sent them out for prints. I picked up three simple black 4x6 frames at Dollar Tree and VOILA! I found these super cute summery bags at the Dollar Tree too. Throw in a thank you card from the heart and prepare for tears! I also added in some extra treats, but the photo was the best and I could have done just that! 

Frame $1.00
Photo print $0.19 
Thank you card $1.00 (for pack of 8)
Cute gift bag $1.00

June 6, 2016

Summer Reading

It's Monday....
We have 2 days left of school....
My to do list seems to get longer with each item I cross off.... 
I'm ready for summer!

So today I decided to do a quick LINK UP with Lucky to Be in First all about my summer reading plans! 

I just finished both Raymie Nightingale by Kate Dicamillo and This is Where it Ends by Marieke Nijkamp and both were AMAZING! I am working my way through The Reading Strategies book right now and I LOVE IT! The other three were books from previous summers that every teacher NEEDS to read! 

The last Land of Stories by Chris Colfer comes out this summer and I am so exited! I have read all the other ones, and my kids love them! I also just bought the last book in the 5th Wave series by Rick Yancey. 

May 15, 2016

Five for Fraturday

IT'S THE WEEKEND! So I'm linking up late to Five for Friday

Sometimes life weaves into your lessons so perfectly, it creates better learning than you ever could have imagined. With my organized and driven personality, my lesson plans are very detailed, but I am also a firm believer that when those precious teachable moments present themselves you RUN with them! 

This was one of those times! Our novel study is The Lemonade War, which is just perfect for our standards and kids. Aside from that we were also reading a read aloud called Love That Dog by Sharon Creech. On the same day a few Fridays ago, they both brought up the topic of animal rescues. The kids were very interested in this topic so we stemmed off and had a quick conversation about it before lunch. Then it got even better, while grabbing stuff out of my mailbox I saw the cover story of our local paper was about Maverick a paralyzed dog that had been saved by a local animal rescue. I grabbed all the copies they had and brought them back to the classroom so the kids could check them out if they wanted after their quiz that afternoon. 

It just snowballed from there. They were really interested in helping out Maverick and the local rescue so we emailed Heidi the owner and asked what we could do. She is such an amazing person, and is bringing Maverick in to talk with the kids about how they can help and all about her job. The kiddos got to work right away and have started a school wide pet supply donation drive, penny wars competition, and are selling lemonade at a school function (just like the book) all to raise donations and funds to surprise Heidi and Maverick! 

We have 17 days of school left! CRAZY SAUCE! I decided to do the ABC Countdown to Summer instead of the balloon pop countdown this year just to mix it up! The kiddos have made paper airplanes, played with bubbles (which had to be inside thanks to a crazy hail filled thunderstorm), ate cookies, danced their little hearts out, and the list goes on! I'm loving each little activity and so are they. Just 10 minutes around recess or dismissal to bring in a little more silly fun as the year is winding down is really keeping them focused and working hard. 

My sister is here to visit which makes me so happy! We decided to go try something different yesterday and go blueberry picking. It was super hot, so we weren't there for long. But we have blueberries to last a lifetime now! 

I ordered all my books for the summer, and they have started trickling in over the last few days. Last summer I read Word Nerds and posted about it weekly (or at least attempted). I also read Words Their Way, and re-read a few classics. This summer I am excited for these babies, as well as Guided Math, and all the re-reading I can handle! 

In case I haven't already told you- I have the most amazing students. I love this group so much my heart could burst <3

April 16, 2016

Five for Friday: Keeping up the pace after testing ends

I bumped into a past teacher friend at Target the other day. We talked about life in general, teaching these days in our crazy county, and how the school I used to teach at is changing. She is such a wonderful teacher and great person and I loved bumping into her. During our conversation she said something that really got me thinking, she said "testing is over but your over here getting even more creative". I guess I never really thought about it like that but testing is indeed over (we finished like 3 weeks ago #PRAISETHELORD) and I am still going a mile a minute. Why?

Well, I don't do "chill" very well. I have never been one of those teachers that can put on a video for the kids and just sit back and grade all the time. I need structure and teaching to make my job enjoyable.

I know what is in store for my babies next year. As a previous fourth grade teacher, I know what is expected for my students next year. I have the benefit of that vertical alignment piece- of knowing the strengths, weaknesses, and struggles. So why not prep them now?

Lastly, I guess it boils down to the fact that I just really love what I do. I love teaching and planning, and creating engaging lessons that leave the kids even smarter than the day before!

Here is a peek at my week after testing is over!


Here is a before and after snapshot of our learning all about Service Dogs (specifically K-9 unit) this week. One of our adorable resources was an informational text "Aero and Officer Mike" which was full of facts on K-9 police dogs and officers. My mind immediately jumped to the super cute picture book "Officer Buckle and Gloria". A quick search of NEWSELA and ReadWorks and I was loaded with articles for small group as well. Throughout our reading and discussions, the students added or moved their sticky notes to New learning, misconceptions, or questions. 


Dog's Life 

We also read this adorable book. If you do not own it- it is a must buy FOR SURE! It's loaded with facts, but also cute pictures, jokes, and stories. It tied back in what we were learning about service dogs in such a wonderful way! 

Once in a while, a spark of creativity hits you. An idea blossoms in your head that is so much better than anything you had planned! This was one of those times. While taking silly filtered snaps, I saw the police officer filter and just about died! How perfect is that?! So the next day, I took photos of all of my kiddos and printed them out. They created their own K-9 partner and put both together with their writing about the benefits of police dogs.  #perfect


Finally caved and bought this gross game! What a perfect way to introduce "juicy" writing and elaboration! It's sort of mean, but I am still laughing over the videos and photos of their faces. Someone of them looked at me with looks that screamed disgust, betrayal, and shock! LOVE IT! And honestly, as gross as it is, so did they! They haven't stopped asking when we can play again! It definitely got them thinking about their word choice. They still need lots of work before next year's writing test, but it's a good start for now! 

We finished our week off with a special visitor! When I called the police department, they were wonderfully helpful and agreed to send in a K-9 team to speak with our students. Officer Bo was amazing with the kids, and they LOVED every second of it! We got to see commands, learn more from an actual partner, and check out Officer Bo and Mac and their police car! An amazing way to end the week! 

March 27, 2016

Five for Friday: Finding Balance

Tomorrow morning Spring Break '16 is officially over and I will be returning to work. I am excited to see my kiddos and hear all about their week off.
Confession: I love my job but I did not work over break

I do not feel guilty. I feel refreshed, relaxed, and like an actual human being! So here is a snapshot of my week that had nothing to do with teaching!

I saw an article about 21 things teachers should do over break. I didn't quite do all of them, but I did finish a book, get a massage (and facial OMG it was amazing), spend time with family, road trip/ field trip, eat ice cream (such an easy one), and start planning summer break! This is going to be my must do list every break from now on! 

Speaking of spending time with family.... I caught a flight back to Michigan and spent a long weekend with my wonderful family. I can't even begin to describe how much I miss them when I'm away, or how myself I feel when I'm back with them! My mom decided to spring a weekend trip to Chicago on us and it was time well spent! Museums, yummy food, silly selfies--- a great visit! 

After I returned back home, the hubby and I took the boys all over. They loved all our trips to the parks. We took care of some needed errands ... overall wonderful break! 

Which leads me to where I am currently at mentally. There are a lot of things up in the air and decisions that need to be made in the next few weeks. This is when I usually end up talking myself out of heading home... but I'm not obsessing. I'm just letting what happens, happen. 

Last night we were supposed to have an end of spring break date night, but I just traveled so much over break that I just wanted to sit on the couch. So my wonderful hubby changed our plans and we spent the night watching Gilmore Girls and Game of Thrones and definitely enjoyed our snacks!