Thursday, April 24, 2014

Just grab a good book . . .

I am getting ready to begin school in about 10 days. I have all of my books for my first class but am worried that with school I won't have time to delve into my ever-growing list of *books to read in summer*. In an attempt to shorten the list I have been reading, reading, reading . . .

I wanted to showcase a few of the books I have read over the past few months.


This book is sad and haunting and utterly painful to read at times. It has stayed with me. I have found myself thinking about it on and off for the past few weeks and will sometimes catch myself crying. It has brought up things that I haven't thought about in years. I highly recommend it . . Just make sure you read something upbeat before and after it.

This is a book that I will read again and again. It is timeless and full of wisdom. Plus, I love everything she writes. When the pain of something is so deep and raw we wonder if the pain will ever stop. Lamott believes that ordinary life allows us to keep going. We keep living and in that, we build this blanket of grace, thankfulness, love, and faith that envelops and protects us, allowing us to live a full life.

I am currently reading this book. There are a lot of mixed reviews coming in. So far, I am reading it and thinking of the students in my first grade class. The stories in this book are similar to a lot of young adults around the world yet they are still so painful for the enduring teenagers. When is enough enough?

I am reading this at a very interesting time in my life . . . I am researching how to implement Smart Start at our school and this book has planted a seed. A seed I am very excited about.

And this is what's on my plate for my first class . . .

What's on your summer book list?

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Just a little off the cuff . . .


I opened my mouth and spoke when I was charged with emotions . . . I spoke without fully thinking or preparing what to say.

In my defense, I spoke in my calm, even, controlled, *teacher* voice. The only problem was that I wasn't speaking to a *non-compliant* first grader. I was speaking to a *non-compliant* grown man . . . I was speaking to the guy who is in charge of helping us fix our wood floors (that his company installed and screwed up - just had to throw that out there to help you see my frustration). And now he probably won't ever return our calls. And Mr. T will have to deal with it all. 

Hmmmm . . . 

Well, I can always start over tomorrow. And I can be thankful that Mr. T loves me even though I am full of faults! Have you ever just been so frustrated that you spoke without thinking???

Friday, April 11, 2014

Summer's Just a Stone's Throw Away

I am linking up with Doodle Bugs Teaching for their weekly Linky Party. We have made it to Friday! I can almost see summer in my future . . .

With April flying by and summer on the horizon (we get out of school May 22nd), we have been working our tails off during guided reading. Most of my groups are becoming *rock star* readers, thinkers, and questioners. It is so exciting to see (I really owe it to their consistent hard work)!

I just love seeing their faces light up when they *finally* get something that they have been working so hard on. It's magic, I tell ya!

I have been using my literature and nonfiction packets with some of my guided reading groups. When we first started using them, the children were challenged and didn't quite have the stamina for them. However, we pushed through (with lots of support, scaffolding, and encouragement).

Recently, I have been amazed how they are able to close read and pull things from the text to support their answers (all with minimal support). They independently conduct literature circles like a pro. I have been able to release the responsibility. They have proven their accountability and as a teacher, it has allowed me to work more closely with the kiddos that still need me by their side.

I have added Poppleton Everday - Small Group Literature Packet to my TPT shop. The preview includes the entire packet so you may see exactly what you're purchasing.

I also bundled all of my Scholastic True or False Nonfiction packets for a savings of 20%. The preview includes all of the packets so that you may see exactly what you're purchasing.

A few co-workers and I went to see Glennon Doyle Melton, author of Carry On, Warrior and the Momastery blog, on Wednesday evening in downtown Kansas City. I have written about her on my blog before and find her to be inspiring, genuine, and passionate.

She mentioned some incredible things that I have been thinking about since Wednesday evening.

One of those things was about BALANCE. She said to create balance we must have tension. To have a balanced life one must experience tension and have tension and know how to handle tension.

She also talked about how no one is living their life AT us. I love this thought! Check out what she says about this here.

She also spoke about mommy guilt. Check out watch she says about that here.

Okay, one more . . .

She spoke about the importance of being tested and having to struggle . . . the importance of letting our kids struggle . . . how it makes them stronger, more resilient. I would have liked to bottle this portion of her presentation to keep in my pocket.

I would listen to it when I needed advice about how to help Maeve & Gibson.

I would also play it during parent/teacher conferences.


All in all, she is just really cool and real and inspiring.

I also won a raffle to a great restaurant in Kansas City! That was a huge plus. Mr. T and I get to have a date night soon. Thank you Rainy Day Books!

We have less than 2 weeks until Easter. I love all things sugary and sweet and have craved Peeps, Cadbury Eggs, and Reese's Peanut Butter Eggs in the past.

However . . .

I gave up all kinds of sugar (real and fake) as well as processed foods for Lent. I have a serious sweet tooth so quitting sugar and processed foods have been a challenge. I didn't do this as a weight loss thing. I chose to do this because I want to be healthy . . . really healthy. Not "low-fat this" and "sugar-free that" healthy. 

Since Lent began, I have eaten more fat than I ever have in my entire life. My diet has basically consisted of organic chicken, fish, and beef as well as a wide variety of fruits and vegetables. I have enjoyed Alpen No Sugar Added Museli with full fat plain yogurt, coconut oil, legumes, coconut milk, Ezekial bread, rice bran oil, and RAW Protein in vanilla.

I've followed a few wonderful blogs and read a few books to get recipe ideas and how I should deal with cravings. This Easter, instead of eating sweet after sweet of processed candy, I am looking forward to making these two delectable treats and indulging in a small piece.

Chocolate Covered Coconut Bars from Food Sweet

Two Layer ONE BOWL Vegan Chocolate Cake! Make it in one hour with no fancy or special equipment | so moist, fluffy and chocolatey!
One Bowl Vegan Chocolate Cake from Minimalist Baker

In the future, I do plan to continue this healthy lifestyle. However, I will allow myself small indulgences on special occasions.

I attempted to create a few gallery walls in our house. I also attempted to take a few pictures of them (photography skills need some work).

What do you think? Obviously, I need to find prints and pictures for the frames.

Maeve and Gibson also wanted to be part of the photo shoot.

Here's the latest from Maeve and Gibson. Where did these big kids come from?

Happy Friday!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Just the best 99 year old ever!

Happy 99th birthday to my Nana! In honor of her on her special day, I am having a sale in my TPT shop.

She solves crossword puzzles like a pro . . .
can still beat me at Scrabble . . . 
and plays the piano like no one you've ever heard!

These are a few of my favorite pictures of her.


Saturday, April 5, 2014

Just thinking about a change . . .

So . . . it has been awhile . . . and a lot has happened . . .

Our district has a new elementary school (it will be #35) opening in August and the school I work at is directly affected by the new school. We are over capacity now so the new school is really needed. However, we will be losing a lot of special children, wonderful families, and talented teachers to the new school. With change, comes growth. I have decided to embrace the change and push myself to new things.

I will be going back to school in May to work on my Masters of Science in School Leadership (MSSL) at a local university. This will allow me to have an administration certification and will *hopefully* lead  to a principal position. I am very excited about embarking on my new adventure. I also feel very fortunate that Mr. T is so supportive and encouraging!

I am thinking ahead and getting prepared for the next school year. I use these coin signs for table names throughout the year (I tend to change the table names to coincide with different skills) as well as signs for our calendar helpers to use when we recite/sing the coin poems in the morning. I revamped it a little for next year.

If you want them, they're yours . . . 

Monday, March 3, 2014

It's just a word work freebie . . .

I am thankful for a snow day today! I stayed up late watching the Oscars (which I thought were wonderful!) and then went to bed wondering how John Travolta translated Idina Menzel's name to Adele Dazeem (thanks to my cousin, John for the translation!). It flustered me at the beginning of her song and I wasn't the one singing . . . I'm a huge fan of hers and love everything she has been a part of. I remember seeing her in "Rent" in 1996 when it first came to New York. 

In honor of my 5th Snow Day (I capitalize it because it has earned holiday status in my house) I am putting up a Word Work freebie in my TPT shop

I am lucky enough to have 2 large whiteboards in my room. I divide one of them into 4 sections so that 4 children can be there at a time. I also have a class set of individual white boards. 

I included two different sizes in the freebie. I prefer the smaller one. I can print the task cards, laminate them, and keep them together using a loose-leaf ring clip. It helps with organization and allows the students to choose their activity. My children LOVE these activities and I hope yours do too!

Is anyone else ready for Spring weather? I've enjoyed our snow days but am excited for pedicures, sandals, and outdoor recess!

Friday, February 14, 2014

Just hand over the chocolate . . . It's Friday!

I am linking up with Doodle Bugs Teaching for their weekly Linky Party.

Valentine's Day Party, Birthday, Parent/Teacher Conferences.

I have consumed plenty of sweets this week. It is time to kick the sugar habit for a little bit!

Whew! What a week. It was busy but energizing. I love the February Parent/Teacher Conferences. At this point in the school year, I know all of my parents well and have built a strong relationship with them (hopefully!!). We celebrate their child's growth and can focus on their goals for the remainder of the year.

This year, I had the children complete some informal self-reflections. I adapted one used by the 2nd grade team at our school. It was very interesting to see how the children perceived their classroom work habits and social skills. Grab it for free!

A lot of the children asked if they could circle both true and false. Some of the children who struggle with confidence, marked false for all of the questions. This allowed parents to see how confidence affects the way they view themselves. It was very telling . . . a lot of parents replied with a "Wow" when I showed it to them.

The other self-reflection I had them complete showed parents how the children see their strengths and needs.

I had them take a big piece of white construction paper, fold in half, and then fold it in half again (leaving 4 sections). I gave them the following sentence prompts.

I am the best at . . .
I need the most help with . . .
My favorite part of the day is . . .
I need to work on . . .

My favorite was one little girl who wrote, "I am the best at staring contests." I didn't get a picture but it sure made me chuckle when I saw it!

I also had a little one say that he didn't need to work on anything because he was perfect. Ha! What confidence!

I had to set him straight on that one and explain to him that EVERYONE has things they need help with and things they need to work on . . . even Mrs. Teddy - I know, that was a surprise for him too! :) - his parents - even more shock - and himself - INCONCEIVABLE! 

 I need the most help with reading.
My favorite part of the day is word work.
I am the best at writing.
I need to work on math.

 I need the most help with getting along with friends.
My favorite part of the day is reading.
I am the best at computer.
I need to work on listening.

I need the most help with math.
My favorite part of the day is P.E.
I am the best at reading.
I need to work on math.

The second season of House of Cards came out today. Perfection! Can't wait to see it!

Maeve and Gibson had their Valentine's parties at school on Wednesday. Their Valentine's turned out so cute. You can grab them by clicking on the pictures below. File them and use them for next year!

I printed these on white cardstock and then I attached these adorable lip whistles that we got at Michael's to his Valentines. I'm sure the parents of his classmates are thanking me. :) Of course, I didn't grab a picture of his finished product . . . but trust me, they were cute!

We got mini bubbles with a heart wand from Michael's. Maeve signed her name and I used sticky dots to attach the bubbles to the Valentines. I also printed these on white cardstock AND I did manage to snag a picture of hers.

Tickets to see An Evening with John Legend: The All of Me Tour go on sale February 19th. I really want Mr. T and I to go. We've never seen him in concert but love listening to him. It is also at an incredible venue in Kansas City.

An Evening with John Legend:<br>The All of Me Tour

I'm off to enjoy my **4** day weekend and listen to Love in the Future.

 ~ Happy Valentine's Day and Happy Weekend ~