Saturday, September 29, 2012

Fall is on my mind....not school....fall!

Yesterday we had an Early Release day....that means the students leave at 1:20 p.m. and we get to stay and work in our rooms!  I am legendary for talking up a storm on these days and getting absolutely nothing done, but this Friday was different.....I closed my door, kept my mouth shut, and worked like crazy.  I finished my reading groups and put them onto a board so we can be in full swing with Daily 5 next week, I finished my lesson plans for next week, got most of my copies done, and even put together some things for my teacher aide to do that will help me a ton!  I'm feeling so good knowing that this entire weekend is just for school, no work, just fun and relaxation....well, except for the endless list of errands I have to run today....but then the rest of the weekend is mine :)

I am making a list of supplies I will need to create some new fall decor for my house.  I'm just bursting with excitement about getting this house all cozy and smelling yummy for fall.  Here are a few of my favorite things from Pinterest, and a few of the things I'm planning to put together this weekend!!!

Happy Fall!  Hope you are taking a little time for yourself this deserve it!!!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

It's only Wednesday???

Man oh man is this week taking  forever!  I am so in need of a weekend I can't even tell you.  Due to my consignment sale last week I haven't slept past 5:30 a.m. since September 16th....I'm so tired I can't even think straight.  I woke up this morning all happy and smiling because it was Thursday only to realize a second later that it's only Wednesday. 

I had planned to get all caught up in my classroom this week (since I had to be at my other job from 4:30-9:00 every night last week, had a sub Friday and worked at my other job all weekend), but wouldn't you know my sweet girlie was sick :(  I ended up getting a half day sub on Monday and spent the afternoon with her.  That didn't actually turn out so bad.....I spent 4 HOURS grading....honestly!  I am thankful to be all caught up on my grades, but other things in my room are not so pretty.

I have not entered a single grade this year in our online system.  It was down until this week and I've been too busy this week to get to it.  We are a full week behind on a leaf writing project I started.....why do lesson always take far longer than I plan for???  My house is disgusting!  The dog needs a bath.  I really want to put my fall decor out and clean up the flower beds in my yard before the first freeze. My son has a test coming up that I promised him I'd help study for.  I need to find time to go to the vet to refill the dogs heartworm medicine.  My son desperately needs some new shirts,and my help studying for an upcoming Sociology test. I have no lesson plans for next week, and I have at least 3 students that I need to follow up on with special education.....any ideas how I can add a few more hours to each day so I can get this all done?????

On  a happy note, I received an email today from Aimee at Primarily Speaking.....I won 3 things from her  TPT store.  I chose the Fall and Winter Themed Literacy Centers

and the Possessive Noun Sort.

I've got a few who are REALLY struggling with 4th grade curriculum and these center activities are going to be a HUGE help to me.  Can't wait to get them all ready to go and use them!

I am making a promise to take pictures of our finished leaf projects today and to post about them tomorrow.  I'm also making a promise to myself to enjoy this weekend and not freak out about all the stuff I need to do.  I'm only one person with a ton of responsibilities and I know in my heart I'm doing the very best I can.

Happy Hump Day All :)

Monday, September 24, 2012

I survived sale weekend!!

That's right, I made it!  The consignment sale is over and I'm still around to tell about it.  It was so amazing!!!  We are so lucky to know the very best people.....our volunteers, consignors, and vendors are just plain AWESOME!!!  They work so hard and help Sarah and I make our sale great!  I can't believe we have been doing this thing for 10 years, and I can't believe how huge it has grown :)

I gotta tell you though, I was so dog tired on Friday night I wasn't sure I was going to make it.  Then Saturday rolled around and by noon I stuffy and had a sore throat.....yikes!  Thankfully I was feeling better Sunday and today I'm thinking it's just my yuck'o allergies.  We hold the sale at the National Guard Armory, and since they store military equipment and truck in there it's not exactly a clean environment and all that dust just made my little ol' allergies go CRAZY!!

I can't believe off to school again today.  I'm thinking I probably should've at least taken a half day for myself.  I really could use another few hours of sleep!  Plus, my girlie is sick with a head cold.  She will probably go to school today, but she has the kinda cold where she could make it through school, but one more day of rest might be better.  I'm just glad that we have no place to be after school today, and at 5:00 I can come home, make dinner take a little walk with Charlie, and relax.

I know it's only Monday, but since I worked like a mad woman all weekend I am really ready for this coming weekend!  Sis and I are going to put out the fall decorations.  The temperatures are just right for it, and I might even do a little baking.  It's amazing how the normal work weeks seems so busy and short, but then you work five 12 hour days and realize.....dang, I've got all kinds of free time in the evening. 

I promise to have a post this week about the fun stuff going on in our classroom.  We are wrapping up a fun leaf writing project and this is our last training week on Daily week we are in full swing....I'm a little nervous! 

Monday, September 17, 2012

Going off the grid....for a week anyway.

Tomorrow night starts our semi-annual consignment sale which means 14 hour work days and one tired momma.  We set up for the sale from 5-9 and I have to try to squeeze in an eye exam at 4pm because wouldn't you know, my prescription has expired and I only have until the end of the month to use the rest of the money in my flex account....why wasn't I more aware of this when I had all summer to get it done???

 (All the pics are from previous sales)

Wednesday and Thursday nights our consignors start dropping off their things....two more 5-9 work shifts.

On Friday I took a personal day so I could spend all 12 hours out at the sale.  Friday night is a big night!  Our amazing volunteers and consignors get to shop before we open up the sale to the public.

Saturday is a LOOOONG one.  It's another 12 hour day, but after working that many long days in a row I'm usually dog tired.  People start lining up to get into the sale about an hour before it starts....picture Black Friday....seriously, it's nuts!

Sunday we will head back out for 4 hours to sort through all the leftover stuff, hold our donation party (my favorite part of the whole sale), help the consignors get back the stuff that didn't sell that they don't want to donate, and wrap it all up by tearing down the racks and loading the last few items onto the donation trucks!

Sunday night I'll try to enjoy dinner with my kiddos and get as much grading done as possible.  I'm so thankful I worked all weekend to get 2 weeks worth of lesson plans, copies, and laminating done.  If I use my plan time wisely this week I should be able to stay on top of most of the grading, emailing, parent communication, etc. 

Since I will be working two jobs this week and trying to be some kind of mother to my children I've decided to let go of Facebook, email, and blogging.  See you all in week!

Saturday, September 15, 2012

10 things I learned this week....

I really look forward to this post every week.  It helps me to focus on the positive and if I can't find least I can laugh at the little disaster that sometimes happen.

10: Positively Positive always amazes me with a post that is exactly what I needed to hear at exactly the right time.  Check out the one today.

9. Blogging has changed my world. 
I absolutely love to blog, and miss it when I don't have time.  More than writing blog posts, I love reading them!  I get the best ideas from the blogs I follow and I've even won some pretty sweet little prizes!  Look at the awesome gift I entered to win today....seriously, aren't they the most amazing little guys!!!

8. If I have one really great lesson in a week I'm feeling great. 
This week is was a writing project I got from Third Grade Thinkers.  It's going to be the perfect little fall creation to hang outside out room, and my students worked their little tails off on them.  Can't wait to finish them next week!  P.S.  I'll be blogging in more detail about them later!

7. When my kids are struggling in school it kills me!
My kiddos are lucky in the fact that school as always been easy for them.  They have never really had to struggle when it comes to their education.  That may sound like a blessing, but in fact it's not.  When bright kids glide through life with no bumps in the road they are paralyzed when they do hit a snag.  This has happened to Jacob a couple of times.  He really struggled with an Algebra II assignment this week and he completely flipped out.  He just can't handle not knowing what to do.  Thank heavens he has the drive to be's buried REALLY deep and we only see it a couple of times a year, but it's there :)  He stayed up late, Googled some sample problems and figured it out.....he was able to get a B on the assignment.  I'm so proud of him for not giving up!!!

6. My daughter is changing before my eyes every day and it's killing me.
I know I've blogged about Katie growing up tons of times, but the night before last I peeked in her room in the middle of the night and there was this person laying in her bed that just couldn't possibly be here.  She was as long as the twin sized bed and resembled an average could my sweet little girlie be this big and this grown up....once  again, Momma's not ready!

5. Forcing yourself to do all of your normal Saturday chores on Friday night is a win win!!!
That's what I did last night and I couldn't be happier this morning.  Now I have the entire day to work on 2 weeks worth of lesson plans, buy groceries, and take a nice LOOOONG evening walk with ol' Charlie!

4. Having your students completely and totally engaged in a lesson to the point that they are hanging on every word is the most wonderful feeling in the world!
That's exactly what happened during our 9/11 lesson Tuesday.  I was a little surprised at how many of my students had never head about it.  I know they weren't born yet, but my oldest was only 4 months old at the time and she has a pretty healthy knowledge of the events of that day.  Anyway, they loved the lesson, have been fighting over the books I put around the classroom all week, and learned a ton from the interviews they conducted with their parents about that day.  Nothing like the feeling of a successful lesson!

3. Sweet Autumn Clematis makes me smile!
The vine of Sweet Autumn Clematis in our backyard spans one entire side of the fence and is full of white flowers that smell amazing.  In a week or two the Monarch butterflies will be covering the flowers and the contrast in colors is just amazing.  I don't really love all the work my little garden requires in the summer, but it sure is beautiful!

This is not my fence, but my clematis looks just as beautiful!

2. It's amazing what a couple of hours of sleep can do!
Most mornings I'm up at 5:30 a.m. and while I typically get 7-8 hours of sleep each night.....I am completely wiped out by Friday!  On the weekends I sleep until I wake up naturally which is around 7:30. What an incredible difference this makes!

1. I love a change of seasons!
Okay, I sorta already knew this one, but I am always surprised by how excited I become for a new season.  I'm so excited that fall is on it's way, the temperatures have cooled, I can break out my autumn clothes, and fill my house with warm fall colors....I love this time of year!

Friday, September 14, 2012

Tell me something good

I'm in need of a little positive today so I decided to link up with Jennifer at Rowdy in First for her Tell Me Something Good linky!

My Something Good From School: My students are really doing well with the Whole Brain Teaching techniques I've been using.  They LOVE when they get a smiley face, and I always here a "Uhhh" when they get a frowny face.  It's amazing how quickly their little head turn towards me when I say "Class!"  We are also doing really well on Read to Self.....up to 20 minutes.  I even had time to visit with 5 people in each of my three classes about what they are reading.  We introduced Word Work yesterday and today we are doing a super D-duper fun writing project....more on that tomorrow!

My Something Good From Home: My daughter has her first night of dance for the season tonight and a volleyball game on Sunday! I absolutely love watching my kiddos participate in their favorite sports.  I can hardly wait until basketball season!!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Recognizing 9/11

Tomorrow we will be recognizing Patriots Day and discussing the events of September 11th.  Since the only students in our school that were alive during this tragic event are 6th graders, and they were just mere infants at the time, it can be difficult to decide how much or how little to teach.  I've decided to use an activity that I did last year and a book I discovered this month at our public library.

We will begin with a brainstorming activity to see what the students already know.  They will write things they know about the events of September 11th on a sticky note, share it, and place it on the white board.

I had planned to read America Under Attack: September 11, 2001: The Day The Towers Fell

This book is fairly long so I was going to skip around and hit the highlights of the four major plane crashes, but after reading Herding Kats in Kindergarten I decided to go with this awesome BrainPop video that hits the highlights without the unnecessary details.

As I'm reading we will pause at various spots (marked by my lovely sticky notes:) and fill out the sections that apply on these fab worksheets I found at What the Teacher Wants!

 To wrap up we will review what we learned and go over the homework for that night.  When the students return on Wednesday we will use our homework and our worksheet from the previous day to create these fact flags.

The students will write 4 facts they learned during our lesson about the events on September 11th.  I desperately wish I had the book September 12: We knew everything would be all right.  It would be the perfect book for this activity, but I can't find a copy and it's too late to buy year!

What are you doing to recognize Patriot's Day?

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Can you believe it....I'm the big winner!

I can't believe I was the big winner from Allie's 150 Followers Giveaway at The Gypsy Teacher!  I found out Friday night after a very long and exhausting week and that little nugget of information just made my day!  Here are some of the goodies I got....

It's amazing that part of the prize package was a $10 gift card to Amazon.  I have had my eye on this book for the past couple of months, and now I'll be getting it!!

I also won all of the things in Allie's TPT store!  Here are a few of my favs....

She was also kind enough to give me something from her Etsy store.  I picked up a custom journal for my little girl who loves to write and draw.... She picked yellow, teal and gray for the colors and she picked the quote "In art as in love, instinct is enough".  I can't wait to see what it looks like when it arrives!!!

I also got a $10 gift certificate from the TPT store of Sara at Miss V's Busy Bees.  I purchases these little gems!

I also won two Scoot games from Jackie at 3rd Grade's a Charm!

And finally, I won these two products from Shannon at Teaching Joys!

So far this weekend is off to an amazing start!  Now if the Cats could bring on a victory this afternoon I will be in pure heaven!!!

Friday, September 7, 2012

10 things I learned

Just realized I have been so busy the past two weeks that I haven't taken the time to reflect on what I've learned.  We can't have that so here goes...

10. September is just not the right month for 100 degree days....I sure hope we are done with those until next summer! I'm ready for more days like this....

9. It's never to early in the school year for a sick day. 
Sis and I just finished our 3rd week of school and she left today at lunch with a tummy ache.  Thankfully her Dad was able to pick her up and take her home so she could rest....I sure hope this is not a sign for how the rest of the school year will be!

Here she is on the sofa with Dad :(

8. A thank you email from a former student's parents can make your whole entire week!
It's amazing what a thank you can do for someones spirit....I must remember to give out LOTS more of them!!

7. A Friday night curled up on the sofa with your favorite little girl can be the best way to end the week!
It's especially nice when she turns to you and says, "I love nights when we don't have to do anything and get to just do whatever we want."  Still smiling just thinking about the simple joy in her voice  when she said it!

6.  A little apple, a little grapes, some cinnamon, sugar, butter and a pie crust make the most amazing dessert!
It's even better when your son drives to the store, buys the supplies, makes it himself, cleans up his mess, and serves it to you!!!

The picture isn't pretty, but the pie was DE-LISH!

5. 30 boys between the ages of 15 and 18 left alone in a gym to play basketball without any adult supervision just might not make the best choices....not gonna say anymore on that one, just know I'm not all that comfortable with Open Gym anymore!

4. A little basset hound locked up all week while everyone is at school requires A TON of attention and play time on Friday night.....p.s. he can also be very demanding and a little annoying about it!

3. Three day weekends just might be the most amazing thing every created!
As my teaching partner and I realized...a three day weekend leaves a day for getting your house from nasty to livable, a day for lesson plan, and a whole entire day for fun! I sure wish this weekend was another long one.

2. A short work week can feel like the looooongest week in history!!
How is it that there were only 4 days in this work week, and yet I feel like I've been working for a month.   Holy exhaustion Batman, this week truly kicked my tush!

1. A leaky water fountain over a tile floor makes for a VERY slippery surface!
It's also the perfect place to fall and sprain your ankle.....definitely not my favorite part of the week!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Some thank you's bring tears to your eyes!

I was lucky enough to get one of those today.  I received an email from a former student's mom telling me that her child said I was a "genius" for teaching him a little trick for learning the metric system.  It's not a trick I made it from a book, but the important stuck.  That little guy remembered what I taught him way back in fourth grade (he's an 8th grader now)!

I have received 3 emails like that in my few years of teaching and each one brings tears to my eyes and reminds me exactly why I'm doing what I do!  If one little nugget of information sticks with just one kid and can help them after they leave my classroom I've done my job! 

Teaching can be an exhausting and sometimes thankless job, but today I was reminded that while I may not hear all the thank you's all the time.... I'm making a difference!  I adore every one of my students...past and present, and while the students in my very first class are juniors this year, I still think about them often.  No matter how old they grow or how far away they go they will always have a little piece of my heart!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012


I can't even begin to express how thankful I am for the 3 day weekend we had!!  I really needed a little time to catch up at home and at school.  It's the third week of school and I finally feel like I'm ready to take on the this year!  To celebrate I'm hooking up the fabulous Farley at Oh Boy 4th Grade for her September Currently!

A little more about my favs:

1. If you know me you know that I MUST start my mornings off with a big ol' honkin' cup of coffee.  My Dad once said I really drink creamer with a little coffee....he may have a point there!  I love my  Coffee Mate Fat Free Vanilla's not pretty if I have to start the morning off without either one!

2. Most of the teachers in our building received iPads last year, and I'm in love with that thing.  I use it daily for the weather and to play some Disney songs I downloaded over the summer.  I start the song when the kiddos arrive and they have until the song is over to get unpacked, put their snack in their desk, and get to working on their morning work. I can't tell you how amazingly well this method has worked so far, not to mention the fact that they are humming and singing and bouncing along while they unpack :)  I am really looking forward to incorporating my iPad more during my reading lessons in the next couple of weeks!

3. Yes, I love my son's new car.  I love it for completely selfish reasons like: he picks up his sister from school which means I can  stay and work until 5 without interruptions, he can drive himself to open gym and bring himself home at 10 pm, he can run out on a whim and buy the ingredients to make apple and grape pie....yep, that's what he did last night!  The pie was amazing, and that new car is coming in pretty handy for all of us!!!

Monday, September 3, 2012

Monday Made It: A Name Study

I'm linking up with Tara at 4th Grade Frolics for another Monday Made It!!!  This is really a Monday Re-Made It.  I have been doing this activity for the past 6 years, but I inherited all the worksheets from my dear sweet teaching partner Lisa, who we lost to cancer a little over a year ago.  This year I finally had the heart to remake the worksheets and add my own flair.

It has been a tradition at our school for the fourth grade students to study their names and complete their very first writing assignment during the first full week of school.  I absolutely LOVE this project!  We begin the lesson by sharing with our groups one thing we like about our names and one thing we don't.

I then read the story Chrysanthemum and we take some time to share about similar experience we may have had with our names.  I have them complete a worksheet brainstorming what they might already know about their name and where it came from.  You can get a copy here.

Their homework that night (the very first homework assignment of the school year) is to interview their parents about their name.  You can also snag a copy of this one here.  When they return with their homework I give them some time to find the meaning of their name using books and this website.  They love this part!

Then we spend a ton of time talking about writing.  I share a sample paragraph I wrote about my name and ask the students to think about how their name stories could be put into a paragraph.  We carefully read the story and I have them write certain sentences in their heads as we read.  We call this Brain'll never believe this, but they really like writing in their heads much more than they do on paper :)  We all begin with the same sentence to start our paragraphs "My name is....." I really think having this first sentence down on paper helps so many of them move forward in writing.  Sometimes that first sentence is the hardest one to write.

Of course we do a second draft because we ALWAYS edit!  After they edit with a friend they write their final draft!!!  How cute is this one?!?!

Our final activity is to brainstorm a list of adjectives that describe us, nouns that have special meaning to us, and names of individuals who are important in our lives.  Here's the worksheet I use for brainstorming!
We then use that brainstorming page to create a word cloud on Tagxedo.

If you haven't used Tagxedo, you just have to.  It's so simple, and you can totally customize your cloud....which fourth graders love....this is, by far, their very favorite part of this entire project.  Another bonus....they make a super cute bulletin board!!!  I had hoped to have a super cute picture of our bulletin board, but it's not ready yet....going in this afternoon to put it together!

Other books I use during our week long name study:

Hope some of you can use this back to school activity and I would LOVE, LOVE, LOVE to hear how your students like it!!!