Sunday, January 3, 2016

Holy Moly, It's 2016!

Wow!  It has been so long (as usual) since I have blogged last!  It's actually another year - 2K16!  I've been up to quite a bit, but first would like to take a moment to glance around.  Yes, I have a new blog design thanks to the talented Megan at A Bird in Hand Designs!  This custom blog is beautiful and more than I could have imagined.  Now, let's see if I can keep up my goal to blog at least once a month...  LOL!

I'm also linking up with Farley again at Oh' Boy 4th Grade for the January "Currently" linky.  I'll share more within my post, so without further ado, here's to January!

Listening - I had heard about this TV series earlier in the fall season, but I didn't catch it due to my busy schedule.  In fact, I've DVR'd so many shows, I have 4 different complete fall seasons to watch of them.  I was in Florida over Christmas, and started watching Quantico on my laptop.  So interesting - if there is any sort of mystery or conspiracy to watch, I'm there!

Loving - My mom is the best person on this planet!  Although we tend to bicker or nag, I still love her so much and am so grateful to have her so close.  I've really enjoyed spending a lot of time with her during this break - vacationing, shopping, organizing - all of it was awesome!

Thinking - I've been pondering what my new year's goals are going to be.  This year, I want to focus on my health, my professional life, and my personal life.  I want to spend more time with the people who I care most about and less time thinking about what I can't change.  I want to increase my desire to get to know God better through study of His word.  If my focus is on Him, I can achieve all of my goals!

Wanting - Any teacher that says she doesn't want more days off is lying!  LOL!  It is so difficult to have 2 weeks off and then jump back into the work routine.  It makes you ponder how long until retirement or the possibilities of winning the lottery, right?!?!  I love breaks from work, but always feel like I need just a couple more days.

Needing - I'm currently on my 5th out of 6 courses to be able to take the principal certification exam.  I need motivation to finish and the desire to get the "extra" work done to get to the final point of the exam.  I had intentions to work on some of the work over the break, but I really needed a break!  Once I get this certification, I can start applying for positions at the district level, which is a professional goal of mine.

One Little Word - Well, not necessarily a "little" word, DETERMINATION.  This word is going to get me through this year in my personal life, my professional life, my spiritual life, my social life, etc.  It is what I need to accomplish my goals and achieve greatness this year.  What's your word?

That's it - that's my Currently January!  I have several blog ideas for this Spring, so I hope you check them out!  I may even have some video to help!  Happy New Year, and I'll be back real soon!

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Currently August 2015

Thanks Farley at Oh' Boy 4th Grade for creating this monthly linky!  This month is full of back-to-school goodness, long hours, and professional growth.  I'm really looking forward to it this year, and I will share why in a moment.  But here is my "Currently August!"

Listening: I'm a Dave Ramsey nut!  I really enjoy listening to his podcast, which is 3 hours of his daily talk show.  I get to learn about how to achieve my financial goals, and he throws in some Bible references as well.

Loving: Have you smelled some of the new scents at Bath and Body Works?  I haven't really loved anything new since a few years ago when they made Pink Chiffon.  I'm really enjoying Love and Sunshine, and it looks summery too with the yellow top!

Thinking: I have no idea what my new school is like other than what little I have heard from the principal and assistant principal.  Any other year I would definitely be feeling anxious, but this year I'm calm and relaxed.  I am thinking about how I'm going to build relationships with a new team of teachers, and how I will gain their trust in order to support their goals and growth.

Wanting: Who doesn't want more summer?  I mean, it's August, and with August comes a ton of professional development in our district, teacher work week, and the 1st day of school.  Someone asked me the other day when I go back.  They were surprised when I said my vacation was pretty much over.  Where did the time go???

Needing: I'm really trying to get some projects checked off of my list for district curriculum and TpT products.  In addition, I've got a home project list that I've been working on this summer.  Today, I changed the light bulbs in our house to all LED bulbs.  What a difference it made - less wattage, less heat, less money!

B2S RAK: I hope to drop some random acts of kindness at my new school by supporting teachers with classroom design and lesson planning.  I really liked Farley's idea of dropping small things in mailboxes to create joy.  That's my RAK goal is to choose joy and help to create more joy.

"Always be joyful!"
1 Thessalonians 5:16 (NCV)

Thanks for stopping by!  Please check out my newest products in my TpT store for back-to-school!

Classroom Environment & Bulletin Boards

Have you ever sat in a workshop and found yourself glued to every word the presenter said?  This is how I am with Ashley (Schroeder Shenanigans in 2nd) and Angie (Lucky Little Learners)!  I feel like I every time they are doing a periscope, I learn something valuable, and I hang on to every word they say!  Both of them have great energy, are very smart, and love teaching.  Be sure to check them out on Periscope!

I'm linking up with their #2getherwearebetter linky this month to discuss Classroom Environment and Bulletin Boards!

I won't be creating a classroom this year, but I will have a space.  I just don't know what that space will be, who I will be sharing it with, and how we will create it.  However, I've done plenty a-classrooms and I've seen a million more!  So, let's talk walls!

Have you ever thought of what your classroom personality type is?  Are you "the Shock, the Chi, the Natural, the Pile, the Hospital, or the Model Home?"  Never heard of these personality types before?  Well, check out Phillip Done's book, 32 Third Graders and One Class Bunny!  He describes them in a hilarious manner.  But, seriously, how do you like your classroom?

I would consider mine a combination of the hospital and model home.  I'm OCD about organization and want things to pop.  Where am I going with this?  Well, your bulletin boards should pop!  You want them eye catching so that it draws students to them.  Why would we have them if we didn't want students to use them?  Every space in my classroom was intended for students' to use.  Plus, I love cute and clutter-free.  Here are my top 5 tips for creating this classroom!

Tip #1: Use a solid color
I was able to use fabric as my background color, and I chose black.  It really makes the anchor charts and posters stand out.  Don't we always outline stuff in black on the computer - that's because it makes it pop on the paper due to the contrast between black and white.  The same is true for the background of your bulletin boards.  I've used pink, neon green, yellow, patterned, etc. for the backgrounds - none look as good as the black ones that I had this year.

Tip #2: Keep a consistent theme throughout your room
As you can see in the above picture, I layered my borders.  Each border included a different color from my selected color palate, but consistent with black background and black trim in the outside.  In addition, each bulletin board (unlike pictured here) had three tissue paper flowers (in the same colors) in the corner of each bulletin board.  Unfortunately, I didn't get any pictures of the bulletin boards in use - ahhhh!!!

Tip #3: Include a title or heading
Because I was self-contained, I taught all subjects.  Each of my bulletin boards represented a different subject.  I created the banners using my computer and laminated them after cutting.  I cut small slits in the top two corner to thread the ribbon through.  Somewhat tedious, but well worth it!  This product is available in my TpT store!

Tip #4: Layer your anchor charts
It was great towards the end of the year and testing season for my students to revisit an anchor chart we had made earlier in the school year!  They went to the bulletin board, and flipped through the charts.  I've seen some people put the charts on binder rings and hang them on the bulletin board hooks.  I was able to just staple stuff onto the walls, so I just affixed the newest anchor chart on top of the old ones.  There were also several posters/charts that we used all year.  I hung those at the top of the bulletin board so that we could refer to them as needed.  Layering saves time and space in your classroom!

Tip $5: Display Student Work
Everyone likes to see what the students are doing in the classroom, especially parents and administrators.  Include a space, either inside or outside of your classroom, to display student work.  Many times, my student work involved some sort of craft project.  However, I have seen writing samples and reports hanging outside of classrooms as well.  My student work area was just the bulletin board border surrounding laminated sheets of scrapbook paper.  Then, I affixed a laminated tag for each student's name and a clothespin with a ribbon bow on it.  My students loved going and hanging their creation under their name.  I layered their work pieces until the end of the year when I gave it to them to take home.

Well, I hope you enjoyed these bulletin board tips!  Follow my blog for more classroom environment tips in the coming weeks.  Yay for back-to-school time!

Saturday, August 1, 2015

What a Week!

I'm back from my last summer vacation <insert sad face>, and have been working on some new products for my TpT store!  Yah, I know - it's about time!  I have many more to come, I promise!


Today, I'm linking up with Kacey at Doodle Bugs Teaching for Five for Friday!  I thought I would share 5 things with you about my week!

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I got to meet some of my family members for the first time while vacationing in Montana!  I'm totally in love with my littlest cousins, Esther and Jonathan.  We spent quite a few days together, and created memories to last a lifetime.  I'm hoping that they will come to Texas to visit us soon!

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Okay, so when you are from Texas, you know that the weather is HOT, HOT, HOT during the summer, especially July when there is little to no rain.  Well, let me just say that going to Montana and enjoying the super-cool weather was so nice!  Until the last day when it was 47 degrees outside and rainy!  Brrr!!!  We definitely did not plan for that, and my toes were quite chilly in sandals!

I loved seeing the mountains!  I do not remember them, although I'm sure they were there the last time I visited in high school.  It was so beautiful!

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Okay, one more thing about Montana!  The small-towns were so adorable!  I love driving through main streets, and seeing the history in the buildings.  They are just as quaint as they are on those Hallmark movies!

I also loved seeing the old homesteads on farm land as we were driving through the country - well, it is all country!  I would have loved to stop and "peek" inside to see if there were any remnants of history from when early settlers moved west.  Because I drove the entire time (thanks Mom), I wasn't able to get any pictures of them.

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I finally broke down and went to a few back-to-school sales this week with my buddy, Maggie!  I was disappointed in Office Max/Office Depot for not allowing us to purchase more of the limit, but I did get 3 Sharpie markers for $0.25 each.

I also purchased a desk lamp and a floor lamp for my new "office area" at my new school.  I have visited so many Target one spots over the last few weeks, and you can definitely tell that the teachers have hit them all!  Everything that everyone has been posting pictures of online is gone!

Speaking of back-to-school...  I've readied my store for the TpT back-to-school sale, and have loaded up my shopping cart with items I want to purchase!  I also make a few things for back-to-school that may help you!  More is on the way!

This is something we did at my last school.  Every teacher had to send home a "peek at the week" so that parents would be informed of what is being taught, important classroom information, and upcoming events.  Some teachers even included their assigned spelling lists.  I taught and assessed spelling differently, so I did not include my spelling words.  I have created 3 different versions for purchase in my TpT store.  They are editable, and very easy to use!  Click on the image or click HERE to visit this product.

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I also updated my genre posters in my TpT store!  I've had so many purchasers and interested buyers over the last year requesting for additional genres.  Well, they are finally here just in time for back-to-school!  I used these in my classroom last year, and the children referred to them a lot.  They were really able to connect the book images with the genres because they were familiar with those titles.  This is my best seller, and I hope that you will check them out too!  Click the image above, or click HERE to visit this product!

I hope you've enjoyed this glimpse into my week!  I plan to post more this weekend and through next week with some back-to-school tips, so stop back by!

Monday, July 20, 2015

Glue, Gifts, and Classroom Goodies, Oh My!

Linking up again with Tara at 4th Grade Frolics for Monday Made It!  I'm almost out of the door for vacation, but I was able to "crank" a lot of things out and shorten my back-to-school list!

A Guy Gift - that was one of the questions from last week's post.  The team I was on last year had a guy, so I know the pain, er problem, with little gifts!  To be honest, I just gave him whatever I gave the girls!  Then, at the end of the year, I noticed half of the gifts sitting on a table to of stuff to be discarded.  Don't worry though, I wasn't heart-broken!

Okay, back to the gift.  All of the items came from Target.  I did visit Dollar Tree this week, but really didn't see anything that jumped out as something I would include in any gift.  It seems that Target has the best selection.  Michael's seems to like their stuff and most of it is $3 - $3 adds up when you are on a team of 8 people!!!

So, what's in there???  I included a bottle of Root Beer ($1.69, man, sodas have really increased in price), Snickers bar ($0.89), 2 Sharpie pens wrapped in guy-colored (black/white) washi tape ($1.00), pack of Bazooka gum ($1.00), Germ blaster Germ-X hand sanitizer ($0.97), notepad To Do list ($1.00).  The basket is grey ($1.00), and I put a yellow sheet of tissue paper with white fluff in the bottom.  It came out to be pretty much the same price as the girly basket from last week!

Well, I have jumped on the "glue sponges" bandwagon!  I made one last night, and have fallen in love!  Why didn't I do this last year?  It would have saved me time!!!  No bottle tops clogging, no "extra" glue on small pieces of interactive notebook activities, no running out of glue, and no need for glue sticks.  The list is endless about why every elementary classroom teacher needs to use these in their classroom!

I purchased a two-pack of snap containers and a two-pack of sponges from Dollar Tree.  I cut one of the sponges in half.  Pour glue into the bottom of the container (I used about half a bottle for these smaller containers, but Greg at Kindergarten Smorgasboard said to pour almost the whole bottle).  Place the moist sponge in the glue, and then pour more glue on top of the sponge.  Greg also said to let it sit in the container for about a week to soak up the glue, but I started using mine last night.

My last Monday Made It is the complete coaching notebook.  I'm going to do a whole other blog on this and how I use it at school, but here is a sneak peak!  I used the Cinch machine and materials to actually MAKE the notebook binding and tabs.  I was able to make the tabs I wanted on paper I wanted, and it has turned out so much better than I had thought it would.  

The actual contents of the notebook will be available in my TpT store soon!  So, follow my blog and check back soon!

Monday, July 13, 2015

Monday Made It: Do you Gift???

So, I've been #inspired by Angie @luckylittlelearners and Ashley @schroedershenanigansin2nd this past week.  I've stalked and watched all of their inspirational periscopes, and even did one myself.  I'm hoping their excitement has kicked me into gear in keeping up with my blog this year.

I'm linking up with Tara at 4th Grade Frolics for Monday Made It!  Woohoo!  It's really only a couple of things this week, but next week I hope to have some things finished that I'm working on that will help you out!

I love giving small tokens of appreciation to others for no reason than to just say "Thanks" or "I appreciate you" or "You're Awesome!"  I've pinned so many things on Pinterest for these small gifts, but find (many times than not), that the gifts are out of my "budget."  Do you like to give on a budget???

Okay, so, yes, I can give a simple "treat" of a candy bar or a bottle of soda.  But there are times when I like to put things together.  How do you do this?  It's simple - visit your local "bargain" bins (i.e., Target One Spot, Michael's bins, Dollar Tree, etc.).  Even Wal-Mart is catching on to this bargain bin idea!  For the gifts, I think about the things that I would like to have or use.  You have two options here - make them just for the recipients or include yourself too!  LOL!

Start with a container.  I've used those small metal buckets, but Target is starting to get a bit more trendy.  For $3, you can get a package of 6 "Take-Out Boxes" or a small wired basket - that's 50 cents each!  Sometimes I add embellishments such as a silk flower or ribbon bow.

Stuff the container with some fluff!  I love the colored paper that is shredded.  If you have a mass stock of colored paper and a stringy paper shredder, you can make your own.  Or just purchase it already made from Michaels or Hobby Lobby.

Then put in all of the goodies.  For the gifts today, I put in a small notepad ($1), a sticky notepad ($1), 6 pencils ($1, wrapped in washi tape to keep together), hand sanitizer (BBW, < $1), and hand lotion (BBW, < $3).  So, for about $6, I was able to give a cute gifts.

Actually, I made 6 of these for some coaching friends that joined me for dinner this week.  That's another great thing - hosting a dinner just for fun!  But that's another day's blog post!  LOL!

What fun gifts have you made for your teacher friends?

It was probably the worst weekend to host a garage sale, but I needed all of the "junk" out of the garage!!!  If I had a before photo of it piled in the garage, you would understand what I mean.  But, I forgot to take that picture of course!!!

In any case, I did it - with the help of my best friend, Andrea, and my mom, I got rid of all of the junk!!!  Whatever was leftover on Saturday was picked up for donation.  So, it's not really a "made it" but rather a "did it"!!!

This is one of the pictures I took during the sale - the very slow sale on Saturday!!!

Ahhhh!!!  There is so much room now!!!  I do need to clean up the back of the garage still, but I will do that this fall when it is cooler...  That is, unless I get a whim to get it done this summer!  #summerprojects  :)

Well, that's all I've got folks!!!  Enjoy your week, and I'll be back next week!!!

Friday, July 3, 2015

Five for Friday

It's really sad when you are made aware that your last post was LAST YEAR IN OCTOBER!!!  LOL!  Let me just say that this past year has been the most difficult year emotionally and physically...  A lot has happened since October, but I'm back for now!


I'm excited to link up again with Kacey at Doodle Bugs Teaching for her Five for Friday linky party.  I've been super duper busy this summer, but all in a good way!

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A week ago today, I was on a Caribbean cruise (with my mom and a couple of friends) heading home.  {Sad face}  It was a great week to just relax, and I actually got a lot of reading in!  I finished 2 books - Unravel Me (#2) and Ignite Me (#3) by Tahereh Mafi.  I haven't read that much since the Christmas break, and it felt really good!  #Iheartsummer

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I had some time in the house this week with no errands!  So, what does one do?  Get into "summer cleaning" mode!  I cleaned out the entertainment center and both cabinets on each side of the fireplace.  I really have come to hate nooks and crannies!  They tend to clutter up so easily, and are filled with things that I just don't need to hold on to!  It took quite a bit of motivation to get started, but once I did, I was on a roll.  What's next???  The kitchen!!!  #garagesalesoon

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This year, I am going back to Literacy Coaching at a different elementary campus in my district.  I'm really looking forward to it!  In the past, I used a 5-section spiral notebook as my coaching notebook.  I decided that I wanted to make my own notebook.  So, I purchased notebook making materials and got to work.  I'm still creating the different forms and pieces for each section, but you can see the beginnings of what it will look right.  I love, love, love the "TAB PUNCH"!!!

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Last year, I found this post by Jivey!  I fell in love with Mentor Sentences, originally published as a tool for teaching craft and conventions by Jeff Anderson.  I purchased the whole set from Jivey, but soon realized that many of the lessons focused on skills that were different than what I needed.  So, I have been working on units that match our state standards.  Writing is an area that will be focused on in our district next year, and I'm hoping that a few teachers (or more!) at my new school will try these out with me.

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We have been making updates to our house lately.  We got new carpet in 4 rooms (that was a killer!), rearranged rooms, and purchased some new furniture.  I love IKEA stuff, but I hate putting it together.  They must think that we are superheroes with super strength because they do not want you to use electric tools.  Well, I did anyways!  It makes me feel powerful!  LOL!

Well, I moved my office/craft room, and I love it!!!  Everything is organized, and it's pretty!  Not totally yet, but lamps make it pretty!  LOL!  I still need to hang the stuff back on the wall, but hanging stuff is so tedious!  What do you think???