Thursday, May 30, 2013

Could it be?

I've been feeling a little overwhelmed by the end of the year craziness. My last day of school is next Friday. The last day for my own kids/husband is June 13. Between all the end of the year stuff at all 4 schools and our soccer/baseball/dance schedules...let's just say I'm expecting that my Google calendar will crash soon. 

 And then... 
like a message from above 
to remind me that being a teacher really is one of the luckiest jobs in the world... 
a visitor came to my classroom. 

This is Brian (a student from my first Kindergarten class).
All grown up.
Graduating from high school this week.
Heading off to the University of Michigan.
And he took the time to visit me...his first teacher.

and even better than his special visit...
he asked me if he could stay a while to HELP!
Folks - there is hope for the world!
The smile he is wearing in the picture is the exact same smile 
that was painted on his face the entire year in Kindergarten. 
Brian is a hard working, smart, polite and always happy kid...
just a whole lot taller than the last time he spent time in my room.
I'm so grateful that Brian took the time to come back to say thank you to his first teacher.

It's important to stop to notice the reminders of how lucky we truly are to be teachers...


Sunday, May 26, 2013

Summer Work to Send Home

I feel like I might be the only one still in school. That can't be true since I know that Holly (from Crisscross Applesauce in First Grade) and all the other Michiganders are trudging through the last couple weeks with me. My post is going to have to be short today (busy day). Church (check). Sunday school (check). Groceries (check). Laundry (in progress). Graduation party (later this afternoon). Snuggling with my kids (top priority). 

If you're still in school and you need some fun things to do to keep your kids busy during the last few days, check out my Get Ready for Summer Writing and Drawing Activities. My students did a few of these activities last week and will do the rest in the next two weeks (in between Windexing everything and spreading shaving cream on the tables/supply bins).


 I also have a Summer Reading and Writing for Home pack that I send home with students to help them maintain their current reading/writing levels over the summer. I tell my students that if they return the packet to me during the first week of school in September, I'll give them a little prize (which is usually a bookmark, a pencil or eraser). Last year, about 1/2 my students returned it (which I was happy with).

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Summer Bucket List Linky Party

I have to be honest... 
I'm dreaming of summer and feeling the end of the year panic at the same time. It does seem that after 15 years, I'd get the hang of this end of the year thing. Turns out not so much. I'm still neck deep in assessments and my to do list is making me feel a little sick to my stomach.

 In the spirit of avoiding my to do list, 
I decided to link up with three fabulous bloggers for the Summer Bucket List linky party.

You know...past 5 a.m. and without a to-do list racing in my head.
 Oh how I love to sleep.

Dig Out!

I have these cute little bins behind my desk that say copy, file, revise for next year.  The one that says file is barely visible at this point. Before my kids had "way too many" evening activities, I used to file everything in the file bin back in the right place in my file cabinet once a week. 
 I have not touched it since September (except to add to it). 

I need to dig out at home too (my office/craft room, the kitchen counter, my closet). 
They are all full of piles of things to take care of "when school is out".

Now for the fun stuff...

I have at least 5 books just waiting in a basket by my bed.  
Real books.  
The kind that you don't have to read aloud.  
The kind that don't have to be a mentor text for anything.  
The kind that I never get to read during the school year.

We will spend 15 days camping again this summer in our favorite place (Petoskey, Michigan). While we are camping our days are filled 
with biking, swimming in the lake, campfires and long walks. husband makes my phone a wi-fi hotspot 
so I can still blog and work on fun stuff while I'm in the woods. 
I can't wait!

We're also going on an 8 day cruise this summer.  
We booked the cruise right before everyone started getting stranded in the ocean 
knee deep in poop with barely enough food. 
 We've cruised several times before (and never had a problem), 
so I'm sure it will be fine.  
I'll be taking my cute rain boots just in case. 

I have a list of things I want to make this summer.
  Some are for my classroom, 
some are on the list to add to my online stores
 and some are just for fun.  
Having time to make some of the things on my list sounds heavenly.  

I don't really want this on my bucket list, but it needs to be.
I like to take walks, ride my bike, play sports with the kids.
But this whole thing about being forced to exercise (so you can fit in your clothes) is a bit much.
But...I'm turning 40 this year and it is necessary. 
 So it's on the dumb list. :)

That is my OLW for 2013. 
I'm gonna practice it this summer.
10 more school days and I can start practicing...

I can't wait!

You an join the Summer Bucket List linky fun by clicking on the image at the top of this post!

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Meet a Few of My Friends - Linky Party!

I'm linkin' up with Latoya, from Flying into First Grade
for her Let's Get Aquainted Linky this week!

The topic this week:  Meet 2 of My Bloggy Friends (but I like to do everything in 3's)

I met Holly, from Crisscross Applesauce in First Grade, last summer at the Michigan Blogger Meet Up.  I had been following her blog for a long time before that.  We kept in touch after the meet up and discovered that we have lots in common.  I smile when I find a message from her in my inbox.  I laugh when I read the messages she sends.  And...I think it would be great fun if we worked in the same school!

Jennifer, from Rowdy in First Grade, is also a friend of mine. I'm pretty sure we started blogging about the same time. I recently posted about how sweet Jennifer can read it here. In my next life, I'm going to try to be as nice as Jennifer. :) For now, it's probably too late. It seems unlikely that Jennifer and I will ever end up in the same building, but I would love that too! Think of the team we could have...

And... Once upon a time, I received a nice email from a girl named Kristin. She said she was considering starting her own blog, but had some questions. I answered her questions and told her to let me know when she started her blog so I could check it out. Who knew that in just a few days she would turn out to be the famous Kristin from A Teeny Tiny Teacher? I recently posted about her can read it here. We're both 4 feet 11 inches tall short. I like to be short. I never hit my head on anything.

A Teeny Tiny Teacher
I love these gals and their blogs. I appreciate their sense of humor and admire their teaching ideas. More than anything, I value their friendship! Love ya, girls!  

Go visit and check them out!  

2 more Mondays...I think I can.  I think I can.

Friday, May 17, 2013

The Theater Is Open!

Last month, we opened the theater in our classroom. I inherited an old "puppet show" theater from a retired teacher. It is large enough for 2 or 3 kids to stand behind. It needed to new curtains, so I broke out the sewing machine to fix that problem. I fell in love with the summer weight corduroy fabric that matched the curtains in my room (with opposite colors).

Welcome to our theater!

 We introduced the "theater" by using the Readers Theater Partner Plays for Young Learners by my friend, Kristin,  from A Teeny Tiny Teacher.  I LOVE her plays and so do my students! They are super easy to use. You can click on the image below to go to her Tpt store if you want to buy a set. I'm secretly hoping she will make a fairy tale set next. 

A Teeny Tiny Teacher

I'm gearin' up for a weekend full of soccer games and birthday parties! Happy Friday!

Monday, May 13, 2013

Guess Who I Met?!?!?

Two weeks ago, 3 moms (one of them was me) and 5 ten year olds (one of them was my daughter) went to Detroit to see Taylor Swift with 55,000 other folks.  
I'm not much of a concert person.  Why?  I'm 4 feet 11 inches short.
The view of everyone's back is free at church. :)
But, I went and there she was...

It was fun.  The performance was impressive, the view not so much.
Luckily, the jumbo screen was hanging high enough right 
in front of our seats 
that I could take this picture of the screen 
that looks a little like a normal person's view
 minus all the backs that I see.

And then...

Forget about Taylor Swift...

Last Friday was truly my lucky day! 
I met Kim Adsit!!
She didn't sing Trouble and she wasn't wearing red, 
but she is definitely my kind of rockstar!
 I attended Kim Adsit's presentation DI for the Little Guy (Differentiated Instruction).

Kim is a retired teacher, co-author of Kindergals
full time presenter for SDE
 and a soon to be grandma. 
 If she is presenting anywhere near you, I highly recommend 
that you jump at the chance to hear her speak. 
 It was an truly an honor to meet her.

 Here is the proof that I met her. 

She was nice enough to take her heels off and I kept my super tall sandals on... 
so we could be in the same photo.  

I learned so much from Kim's presentation. I also filled up my Tpt shopping cart with several of her products.  Kim presented about what I consider to be the perfect balance of guided reading and reader's workshop for lower elementary classrooms.  I've attended several presentations about reader's workshop and read several books with very different philosophies.  In my mind, reader's workshop and guided reading time are two very separate things with different goals in the lower elementary classrooms.  If I'm doing a good job during reader's workshop time, then I can reinforce those skills/concepts during guided reading time.  In a perfect world, the things my students learn in reader's workshop will help them during their guided reading time, but my guided reading time is not replaced by the presence of a reader's workshop model in my classroom.  

Kim's presentation was also full of reminders that it is possible to teach the common core standards, differentiate for each learner and continue to use the fun things that motivate our little ones to learn.  In the past five years, I've been feeling like I need to hang a banner outside my door that says "Yes, this hula hoop vowel game matches one of the standards!"  No one is really questioning me, but I feel an increasing pressure to defend things that I know are developmentally appropriate for my first graders.

Head over to check out the giveaway on Kim's blog.

I can't wait to try out some of her reader's workshop units next year!  Thank you, Kim!  Happy summer to you!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Last day for the Sale!

Today is the last day for the Teacher Appreciation Sale in my Tpt store!  
You can use the code TAD13 for extra savings!

 If I had to choose my favorite thing to teach, it would definitely be reading. 

 Here are a few of my favorite things to help me teach reading.

Right after I visit the virtual checkout with my own loaded shopping cart, 
I'm headed to Ma Spa at my son's school!


Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Every Teacher Appreciates a Sale

We're celebrating teacher appreciation day/week by having a sale!  

 You can use the code TAD13 for extra savings!

Here are some of my math related products.

Common Core Monster Math

Doghouse Doubles Addition Game

Spring Math Journals
(I also have a fall and winter set.)

I also have several freebies related to math in my Tpt store.  
Please consider following  my store if you see something you like.


Monday, May 6, 2013

Teacher Appreciation Sale!

I'm probably not supposed to be buying myself presents, but...
I'll be celebrating teacher appreciation week by filling my Tpt shopping cart! 

 I'm also hosting a teacher appreciation sale in my Tpt store!

You can use the code TAD13 for extra savings!

Here are a few things you may want to check out in my store...

My best seller...Animal Research Book

Camp Read a Lot (Classroom Campout Fun!) - a ton of fun for the end of the year or anytime

Get Ready for Summer Writing and Drawing Activities
(fun things to do with your students in the last few weeks of school)

Summer Reading and Writing Practice for Home
Need a packet full of things to send home with your students
 to keep them reading and writing this summer?  Here it is!

Memory Book
(Your students can use this product to make their own memory book 
to take home at the end of the year.)

I hope you'll stop by to look, shop and/or follow my store!

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Mother's Day Book

How did mother's day sneak up on me?  Oy... 

 I am really lucky. My class is full of amazing mothers and they are also incredibly supportive in terms of volunteering or sending things we need for the classroom. This week, each of my students will make a little book to give to their mom. We will also be making a crafty gift to go with the book, but I have not decided what to make yet. I'm kind of bored with the projects I've done in the past.

Here is my little book, in case you want to check it out in my Tpt store. It's quick and easy to accomplish. (I'll be joining the big teacher appreciation sale on May 7 and May 8 all of my products will be on sale then.)

Anyone have any good ideas for a crafty gift for moms or perhaps a pinterest board full of mother's day ideas?  I really need to figure that out...

Hope ya'll are having beautiful weather like we are in Michigan!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Currently - May

Seriously, can it be May already?
 It's time for Farley's (Oh Boy, 4th Grade) Currently.

An explanation of my summer bucket list...

Stain the mantel - My fabulous husband made me a mantel and built in bookshelves for each side of the fireplace for my birthday.  That was in November.  We've been waiting for the weather to get warm enough, so we can work on staining it in the garage.  It's time. :)

Lose 15lbs - Well, just in case I don't accomplish that before our last day of school in June...I could work on it over the summer.  At this point, I'd be happy subtracting 2 lbs from my tubby total.  I will turn 40 in November.  I'm not at all worried about turning 40, but choosing between eating like a bird and not fitting in my pants is rather annoying.

RELAX - That is my OLW and I've been a big loser in the relaxing department.  Next year, remind me to pick something I'm really good at like "worry", "organize", "talk".

Throw away classroom junk!  I can't be the only teacher who has at least a few cupboards and/or drawers that they have not opened or used anything out of ALL YEAR.  My rule is that I have not used it in 2 years, it goes in the trash.  Just need to find time to put it there.  And...luckily one of my best teacher friends across the hall has hoarding tendencies, so my trash never gets full while I'm throwing everything in.  Love ya, friend!

Can't wait to read all about what everyone else is doing!  Go visit Farley to link up/read/join the fun!