Wednesday, July 27, 2011

What I'm Loving Wednesday

I totally skipped last week's WILW... I had too much schoolwork!! But this week, I'm good. :)
I'm loving that this is my last week of my summer class!!!! This means I can start working in my classroom. Whenever I see people's classroom pictures, I get jealous. Now I can go!!

I'm loving that my local bookstore is ordering Growing Readers for me so that I can read it. Now that I have read both The Book Whisperer and Reading With Meaning, I am legit obsessed with doing a reading workshop this year. My awesome little bookstore will have my book by tomorrow afternoon, yeah!

I'm loving Ace Hardware! They have a dollar section that I didn't know about ... because I never go to hardware stores. I found clothespins for my clip chart and little plastic baskets that were way cuter than the ones I saw at Target. And all for a dollar! I also got a spray bottle because it was cute... and I'm guessing I'll have to spray something eventually!
 I'm loving Target because they sold $3 crates this week! I got 2 blues, 3 greens, and 1 pink for a total of 6! I cleaned one Target out and had to visit another... so if you still haven't gotten yours for your crate seats, you need to go now! I wish I had two of each color but I'm lucky I got 6 at all! I also got these caddies that I will use for community supplies!!
I'm loving my brother! He goes on my errands with me, keeps me company while I'm working on school stuff, and gets ice cream and dinner with me when we both need a break from home.
I'm loving my mom because she is helping me with my Making Words folders!! She is so nice.
What are you loving this Wednesday?

Monday, July 25, 2011

New School Year Resolutions

[Love Calvin and Hobbes. :)]
A new school year is starting (3 weeks from today will be my last summer day!) and I have made some resolutions! Here's what I'm resolving to do this year.

  1. Keep a journal every day listing something that went well and something that didn't go so well. My student teaching supervisor recommended this to me and I think it's a great idea! It will be refreshing to read all the things that went well when I'm having a bad day, and it will give me a chance to reflect on things that I can improve!
  2. Start and follow through on the Daily Five. I tend to get these great inspirations in my brain and then not keep up with them. I think the Daily Five framework will REALLY help my students, and I want to do whatever I can to help them become better readers!
  3. Do all my grading/planning at school and go home to relax. I really like staying after school in the peaceful quiet to get things done, so this resolution won't be too hard to keep.
  4. Celebrate lots of holidays with my kiddos - especially multicultural holidays! It would be easy to just do the next page in the reading basal or the next worksheet in math, but I want to expose my students to new things in my classroom! Figuring out how to use chopsticks for Chinese New Year, or creating origami for Japanese Children's Day, will help my students to see that there is a world outside the cornfields...
  5. Keep my desk cleaned off! I am a piler, but I find that if I can just put things away as soon as I'm done with them, I can keep my desk clean. What a novel concept!!
What are your new school year resolutions? Link up with Clutter-Free Classroom to share!
Clutter-Free Classroom

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Reading With Meaning

On Friday, I finished reading Reading With Meaning by Debbie Miller. If you're a primary teacher, and you haven't read this yet, you NEED to!
After I read The Book Whisperer, I was so inspired to teach like Donalyn Miller - but I don't teach sixth grade. I was wondering how I could implement similar ideas in a primary classroom. When Beth at Thinking of Teaching announced that Donalyn would answer our questions, I decided to ask her how I could make this work. She picked my question to answer and suggested that I read this awesome book. I'm so glad I did!

Debbie Miller lays out an explicit yearlong plan to implement a reading workshop in the primary grades. She writes about mini-lessons of comprehension strategies and includes real examples of student work. I think I showed about fifty people the student work... I was just amazed!

Probably the least important thing I took away from this book was the pencil sharpening containers she talked about. I, too, get annoyed by pencil sharpeners while I'm talking or while I'm doing small groups. My awesome coworker Ali helped me by making the labels for my pencil sharpening cans using pencil cups I got from the Target Dollar Spot!!!!
I'm so grateful to have read this book. Although I have to implement the new reading program that my principal just ordered this summer, Superkids, I am going to try to do a reading workshop also..... if I can find the time!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

My Favorite Picture Book

It's day two of Clutter-Free Classroom's week-long Prompt of the day linky party!

Today's prompt is ... Complete this sentence: "Based on the illustrations alone, my favorite picture book is ___________."

This was an easy one for me. I really tried to broaden my horizons, and maybe bring a new book to some people's attention... but I just can not. Based on the illustrations alone, my favorite picture book is Knuffle Bunny!
I first heard of this book in my children's lit class in college. My professor was overly dramatic and made this book SO fun to listen to when she read it to us. I'm sure you are familiar with this book, but if somehow you are not, let me tell you about it!

A little girl named Trixie carries around her Knuffle Bunny everywhere she goes. In the book, we see her hanging out with it and taking it on errands with her dad until....... it gets lost!

The words in the book are so funny, Trixie's baby talk always makes the kids giggle, but the real highlight of this book is the amazing, creative illustrations! You see, Knuffle Bunny's illustrations are drawn and then superimposed onto real photographs of Brooklyn! We see neighborhood streets and little strip malls with Trixie and her dad right there.
And Mo Willems's command of illustrative expressions is amazing as always. I just can not get enough of him! But you will find that out tomorrow...

My question to you is... how do you pronounce Knuffle Bunny? I always pronounce the "kn" like "n" ... but when I went to Mo Willems's website today, the speaker kept saying the "k"!! I'll keep saying it like I do though. :)

Monday, July 18, 2011

How I'm Spending My Summer Vacation

It's day one of Clutter-Free Classroom's week-long Prompt of the Day linky party!

Every day is a different prompt (just like in our classrooms!) and today is.... How I'm Spending My Summer Vacation!

My summer vacation has been going too fast AND too slow at the same time. Too fast because it's almost the end of July and I am so not ready for my very first classroom. But too slow because I really want to get into my very first classroom! My brain is confused.

I've been spending a lot of time this summer looking through this lovely book. I'm 75% done with my Foundations of Teaching English as a Second Language class! I have learned a LOT! And it has definitely been a lot of work. Since it's a summer class, we are going at double-speed... so I am double-stressed. But I have an A so far, so I feel good about that! I just have three more chapters and one or two more giant projects, and then I am done-zo. Just in time to start school... ay caramba.
I spent a week of my summer vacation with no power or running water! Crazy storms tore through Illinois, leaving us with branches blocking all the roads and tons of power lines down. Since we have a well at my house, that meant that we had no water, literally, for almost a week. It was pretty terrible. It made me thankful that I do not live in a third-world country. It also made me thankful that the heat wave is going to be this week, because if it was 100 degrees last week AND we had no power..... I don't even want to think about it!
I've also spent my summer vacation shopping!! Today I spent a gift card that I had for a teacher store (and visited Dollar Tree), and I picked up a ton of stuff!

I got three posters - a Lost Tooth Graph that we can fill out throughout the year, a Daily News poster that I'll use for Morning Meeting, and a Welcome poster in sign language! I had been looking for a Welcome banner type of thing, and my dear friend Stephanie found this for me, which will go perfectly with my sign language alphabet!! This poster makes me so happy.
I also got the Scholastic pocket chart calendar I've been wanting AND two months of Poppin' Patterns calendar days! They make a pattern. Here I have displayed the AB pattern of August for your enjoyment! So cute! I also got name plates for my desks. I love that they are red.
Yesterday I went to Target and picked up some things from the Dollar Spot as well! I got some stamps...
And pipe cleaners for Word Work during Daily Five (Wikki Stix are cool but they are $20... and these pipe cleaners were $1) and a counting puzzle!
I have also seen friends, like my bff Stephanie who went shopping with me today!! Without her, I would probably not have bought all the stuff I did.... haha! She is a good shopping buddy, especially because she is sensitive to my snobby bee theme needs. Some of those bee products out there are just not right for me.... :)

How are you spending your summer vacation?

Out of the Mouths of Babes

Mrs. Dillard is hosting an awesome linky party about funny things kids say!

Here are a few that I can remember from student teaching...
  • My first graders were obsessed with the fact that I'm not married, even though I was only 22 at the time. One day, a student came up to me and asked how old I was, and I told her. Then she said, "My brother is 22. I could give him your phone number if you want." Um!! No thanks!!
  • Another time we were standing by the door where there was a poster of all the presidents. My boys were looking at it and finding presidents who I should marry, including Abraham Lincoln. I said if I had to marry a president, I'd want it to be Barack Obama. One boy said, "You can't marry him! You're a gringo!" The challenges of being the only white girl in the room, I guess...
  • In Open Court, we always wrote these lines of words on the board that the kids would decode and read. Sometimes I'd go over them to make sure they knew what the words were. One day, a word was "player." I asked a student what a "player" was, and he didn't know, so another boy piped up and said, "A player is someone who cheats on you!"
I can't wait to get into my classroom and write down some more of these!!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

DIY Mini-Erasers

Today I started my first DIY project for my classroom! I've seen so many other sweet projects so I am happy that I finally did one myself.

When I went in to see my classroom a few months ago, I was poking around in the cabinets and found that I have a stash of mini-chalkboards. Not whiteboards, like probably everyone else has... but tiny chalkboards. To go with tiny chalkboards, I thought I needed some tiny erasers! So I looked around online and I found this sweet pattern. I just pinned it today to my new Pinterest board!

I started with a yard of cotton batting, which I found in a roll at Walmart for $3.49 a yard. A yard will make 27 erasers, which is WAY more than I need. But extra can't hurt. :)

 I pretty much followed the directions from the link above. I didn't sew in quite as many parallel lines because.... I am lazy. Also I did not cut the edge with pinking shears (even though that is SUPER cute) because I didn't really have enough fabric outside of my sewing lines to cut. But I think they still look nice!
I am super proud of my tiny erasers!! I just started using Pinterest today, but if you'd like to follow me, that would be lovely. :)

Follow Me on Pinterest

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Blog Mixer!

I haven't heard the word "mixer" since I was in my sorority, but Yearn to Learn is hosting a blog mixer so we can learn about new blogs!!

We need to list one new blogger, one blogger on our grade level, one blogger not on our grade level, and one favorite blog button. :)

My New Kid on the Blog choice is Miss Toffee's Class! She teaches a multiage class (like me) and she is from Scotland. She shares printables and activities, as well as different curricula that she uses in Scotland. I think it is super interesting, and I like to read her blog when she updates it.

Since I teach first and second grades, I chose two for blogs on my grade level. For first grade, I looooove First Grade Awesomeness. Mrs. Tabb is amazing! I love her What I Believe section and I hope I can be a workshop teacher like her. You can tell that she doesn't just go with the flow, she teaches her students to the very best of her ability!! So inspiring. :) For second grade, I chose Sunny Days in Second Grade. Denise seems like SUCH a down-to-earth person, like me! The clip chart she just posted is sooo cute, and I ordered the headers for it as soon as I saw her post! She is super nice too.
Visit Sunny Days

My favorite blog on another grade level is Miss Kindergarten! Hadar is also super down-to-earth and she has the CUTEST DIY ideas on her blog! I loved her classroom management linky party that she hosted recently - I got tons of good ideas! And I also love her teacher signs on Etsy... I want to get one soon.

And lastly, Ms. M has a super cute blog button (and she made mine)! I love the polka dots. Ms. M is very generous and creative! Love her blog.
Link up with Yearn to Learn to share your favorites!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

What I'm Loving Wednesday

Before I start, let me preface by saying that this week has been not fun. We had huge wind and lightning storms on Monday which led to a power outage which is still going on now - Wednesday morning! Our house is out of power AND water, because I'm on a well. Luckily, most other places (like my awesome library where I am now) have power, so I have not been totally "in the dark." Sigh.

Enough negativity, onto positivity!!

I'm loving that no tree branches fell on our house or on my car during the storm!

I'm loving that I got together with one of my bffs, Abby, for dinner yesterday in our college town. It was so weird to be back there, but I was so happy to see her!! This picture is of Kate, me, and Abby. Sadly Kate lives far away now so she could not join us for our deeeeeelicious dinner.
I'm loving that I found these super cute paper trays at Office Depot on clearance! They were originally $9.99 and I got them for $1.10 each!! I'm going to use them for "turn in" and "pass back" bins.
I'm loving that my bff Abby's mom is amazingly generous. She gave me a GIGANTIC (and I mean gigantic) box of videos for my classroom. I filled a huge plastic tub with them and there are still more! She also gave me a ton of scrapbooking supplies that I can use, too. A secret treasure in the scrapbooking supplies was a huge box of plastic page protectors! YAY! I need those to make worksheets into dry-erase activities.

I'm loving the Daily Five! I am just wrapping up my reading today and it is pretty amazing. I can't wait to implement it!!
I'm loving my new flip flops from Old Navy! I got some bright colors that make me happy. :)
And lastly, I'm loving my awesome boyfriend who helped keep me company during my power outage! We went out to eat, he let me shower and get clean at his house... he's the bomb.
What are you loving on this pretty Wednesday?

Friday, July 8, 2011

The Book Whisperer AND an Awesome Giveaway!

A couple cool things to share today!

First, I have been loosely following the Book Whisperer Read-Along since I already read the book earlier this summer. When I read it, I was SO excited about it, but I wasn't sure how to adapt it to primary-aged students who aren't reading chapter books yet. When I read that we could submit our questions to Donalyn Miller (the author and original Book Whisperer), and that she'd pick some to answer, I decided to go for it and ask her!

And she picked my question to answer!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Wow!!! This seriously made my day yesterday. And now I have put a hold on Debbie Miller's Reading With Meaning so I can get some more awesome ideas for this upcoming school year.

Second, last week I learned about Mrs. Bainbridge's classroom website, where she shares a TON of resources for teachers! I'm all over her holidays around the world unit - she even included a passport and suitcase template for free! Amazing.

Anyway, she just started a blog and is sharing even more ideas. Right now, she is having a classroom theme giveaway through Teaching Oasis. She's giving away one theme pack. You should totally go check out the theme packs. They're all made with Thistle Girl graphics and they are super cute!

The first day of school for me is almost a month away - August 16! ¡Ay, caramba!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Top Ten Things To Know About Me!

I have seen this linky party all over my Google Reader today, and I wasn't going to do it because I already did a linky party today... but now that I am procrastinating and trying to avoid homework, this sounds like a GREAT idea!!!

10. I drive a stick-shift car and I love it!!! When I had to get rid of my Accord because it was costing a crazy amount to fix it (and things kept going wrong), I knew I didn't have a lot of money and I didn't want car payments. Manual cars are less expensive, so that's why I bought my car. Also, my boyfriend drives a stick-shift car, so I knew he'd be able to help me if necessary. It took some tears and some patience, but I can really drive it now! And it is pretty fun.
9. I loooooove the Chicago Bulls! I think I watched every game this season... I might have missed one or two. I also went to a game in Milwaukee for my birthday! I was super happy when they made it to the playoffs and super unhappy when Miami advanced and we did not. But I am psyched for the preseason to start (only three more months!!!). Joakim Noah is my very favorite player, and this year I got a Joakim shirt!!
8. I really love anything involving weddings. Going to weddings... looking at wedding magazines... perusing other people's wedding pictures... Although my own wedding is not on the horizon at all, it doesn't matter - I still like them. I am always on the lookout for unique wedding venues, as I do not want a typical church-and-country-club wedding. I don't really have anything picked out as far as my own wedding, but I will say that I like dresses like this one by Jim Hjelm!
7. I love mail. For a while I was participating in Postcrossing, which allowed me to send and receive almost 500 postcards from around the world! I have the most amazing postcards now. I hope I can use them to teach about world geography, and if I had a class over third grade, I'd probably sign us up. One of my new obsessions is Letterfu. Using their designs, you can send a letter without any envelope! It's all folds like origami. SUPER awesome, and I just got a Letterfu letter in the mail today from my other most favorite family member, my cousin Kelley!!!

6. I really like my handwriting because it is neat, but it is not "fun." Like, I will happily write out every single word wall word to put on my wall this year, but I can't write a title for a poster or decorate stuff like that. I wish I could!

5. I applied for Teach for America and got to the final full-day interview before I was rejected. :( I was reeeeeeally sad. On my list of regions where I wanted to be placed, I had Chicago, Milwaukee, South Dakota, Miami, and Hawaii. It was pretty frustrating not to be chosen, since all the other people in my full-day interview group had NO IDEA how to teach. But, I like to think that everything happens for a reason. I have my job for the fall now which I know I will like, and that might not have been the case had I gotten into TfA.

4. I am not a big fan of sugary things like doughnuts or chocolate or cake. I do like peppermint patties though. For snacks I prefer salty things like pretzels!!
3. I love sushi! Yesterday I ate sushi and it was amazing. My favorite is the California Roll (I know, I am very daring). I did also eat spicy tuna rolls though! I enjoy dunking my sushi in soy sauce, which my boyfriend tells me is offensive to the sushi chef. I'm sorry sushi chef, but I love me some soy sauce!!!
2. I think I would be happy teaching any grade. For a long time I said my favorite grade was first grade, and I do love first grade. But I spent 3 weeks subbing in a third grade class which I really enjoyed. The students were more independent, but they were still silly and loved school and the fun writing activities and math review games I'd bring in. Then I filled in as a long-term sub for seventh/eighth grade, and I really liked that, too! So, I think I would love anything. :)

1. When I get married, I don't know if I will change my last name. For a long time I swore up and down that I would, because I don't really like my last name now. However, the more I think about it, the more I think that I want to hang on to my name for a variety of reasons. But if you change your name, that's cool with me! I won't judge you. :)

And those are my Top Ten Things To Know! Link up with Mrs. Owens to share yours. :)

What I'm Loving Wednesday!

Just last week, I came across Jamie's super cute blog, This Kind of Love. Every Wednesday, she hosts a feature where you list what you're loving! I think this is an awesome idea, so here is my first What I'm Loving Wednesday post!
I'm loving summer! I can go to the beach and take walks in the humid weather. Here is a picture of the beautiful beach where I like to read and soak up the sun.
I'm loving spending time with one of my favorite family members - my awesome cousin, Lisa! I was 8 when she was born, so I remember her whole life. Anyway, this weekend we watched fireworks together with our fam on our grandma's boat, and she took this beautiful picture of the sun setting over our lake.
I'm loving my summer reading books! I'm reading two books right now (Heart of the Matter - which I'm not loving and Math Work Stations - which I am!). Every summer, I typically read the nominees for the Rebecca Caudill Young Reader's Book Award so that I can stay in touch with my students. I've read two so far... I am really slacking!

I'm loving that I'm halfway done with my summer class! I'm taking Theoretical Foundations of Teaching English as a Second Language (what a mouthful!). It has been so much work but I am learning a lot.

And on that note, I'm loving that today I talked with an ESL teacher who took her ESL endorsement classes at a different school that charges a THIRD of what I am paying right now per class! That is going to save me a ton of money. Yeah!

I'm loving little pathways that are shady and surrounded by trees. Doesn't this look so peaceful?
And that wraps it up for my first What I'm Loving Wednesday! What a great way to remember the positive things in my life. :)

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Fall Read-Alouds

Mrs. Parker, over at Learning With Mrs. Parker, is having a linky party about our favorite read-alouds! People are mainly writing about newer books, but I will just let you know my very favorite read-alouds. :)

Oh, Froggy. I love you so! I first heard about Froggy books when I did a clinical in sixth grade. The sixth grade teacher used this books to teach the Six Traits. They are super funny, and they're perfect for first and second graders! Froggy's First Kiss is one of my favorite Froggy books... but that is not really a "fall" read-aloud. :)
I just picked up Grace for President at a Scholastic book fair, and it is SO GOOD! I can't wait to use it to teach about elections. It really goes in-depth (for a children's book) into the electoral college. Also, this is one of my favorites because I am a big gender equality proponent, and I love that Grace is outraged that there has never been a female president!
I just heard about Pete the Cat from Fran at Kindergarten Crayons (who even made a Math Mat to go along with the book!). This book has such a great message, and I love the illustrations. :)
It's hard to pick just one Mo Willems book, but this was the first Mo Willems book I ever read, so it has a special place in my heart. And if you haven't read the most recent Trixie story, Knuffle Bunny Free, you have to!! Go now!!
And another new favorite! Little Pea has THE CUTEST illustrations ever, and the storyline is funny, too. Little Pea just wants to eat his spinach, but he can't until he finishes his candy dinner! I can't wait to read this to my class in the fall, I think they are going to laugh their heads off.

What are your favorite read-alouds?

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