Friday, December 30, 2011

How I Spent My Winter Vacation

I feel like I am overdosing on linky parties. Oh wells! Today I am linking up with Clutter-Free Classroom to share how I have been spending my winter vacation!

I have been knitting newborn baby hats! When one of my students got a new baby brother at the end of November, I knitted the baby a hat. It took like an hour, and I had some extra yarn hanging around from past projects, so I made a few to donate to the hospital, since I don't know any newborn babies personally. :)
I have been reading! So far, I have started and finished two books, Tangerine and Losing My Faculties. Both were excellent! I plan on writing about Losing My Faculties soon. Maybe after the linky parties have concluded. :)

Right now I am reading Woods Runner and Wild Things. Both are on the 2012 Rebecca Caudill list!

And today I got an email from the library saying that Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? is ready for me to download to my little e-reader! Yeah, I can't wait to read it!!

I have also been working! When I was a senior in high school, I started working at our community bank in my town. When I started college, I worked seasonally and I still do that now! Over this break, I only worked for 4 days, but that's okay. It's nice to have a little extra cash and I get to catch up with my bank friends!
Clearly this is not me. But I did send carriers back to people in just like she is!!!
My plans for the rest of the break (because I still have six days, yay!) are...
  • get some big tubs to help organize my classroom
  • go into school to organize
  • plan the rest of the next few weeks
  • make or find some new math stations
How many days do you have left? Do you have a to-do list for the rest of your break?

Thursday, December 29, 2011

New Year's Resolutions!

I am crazy late in posting my resolutions, but at least I am writing these before the new year starts!!! I'm linking up today with Tammy and Mor. :)
  • Drink more water!! My boyfriend's mom got me a sweet water bottle for Christmas (which is just what I wanted). I hope it encourages me to drink a lot of water.
  • Go to more museums!! I love museums. Now that Matt works at one, we can go to lots of museums in the city for free!!!
  • Go on some kind of trip. I want to go places in my life. Maybe a summer vacay?
  • Assess my students to determine their reading levels. My reading program is a one-size-fits-all situation with no leveled books and very few assessments. I can get around this because I have access to Reading A-Z and a sizable leveled library that I am continually working on. My brother wants me to add that I will actually teach the kids to read...... not just figure out their levels......
  • Keep my desk cleaned. This is a real problem for me!! I just throw things on my desk throughout the day and then I lose things. :(
  • Revamp my math work stations. The kids love this time of day but it is not a well-oiled machine by any means. When we get back to school, I want to make an expectations anchor chart (which I never made it the first place....) and change out the stations to keep the kids excited and engaged.
  • Grade and return work in a timely fashion!!
  • Start creating my own freebies to share! My students and I have benefited from so many kind and giving teacher bloggers and I want to give back. I only have two sets of clip art though... I think that is an issue.
Ay caramba, I have a lot of professional resolutions!!! But I am a first year teacher, so I think it is okay if I have a lot to improve on still. :)

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

What I'm Loving Wednesday

Happy Wednesday, friends!!! And hello, new followers! I am close to a milestone and I am hoping to do my very first giveaway soon!! Yay!!

Here's what I'm loving this Wednesday!

I'm loving that I still have a week and a day left of break! I didn't get out until the 21st, but that means I don't have to go back until the 5th. I have already planned Reading and Writing for the first few weeks of January, yeah for me!

I'm loving the new dress I bought at Forever 21 yesterday! I am hoping to wear it for New Year's Eve! Although I doubt that I can get my bow to look like that...

I'm loving that my brother has graduated from Purdue and is back home now!! Here we are at the zoo a few weeks ago. 

I'm loving that it's almost my 3-year anniversary with Matt!!! We met at a New Year's party in 2009. It doesn't seem like that long ago!

I'm loving that Matt got me this incredibly cute jellyfish tote bag for Christmas. We were able to go to the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago last month and see everything, including the beautiful Jellies exhibit! If you're in the area, I definitely recommend it. Anyway, I loved the jellies, so he got this for me! The jellies have hearts for eyes!!!!!

This was a total non-teaching related post!! What are you loving this Wednesday?? I need to go finish reading the 11 in 11 links!!!!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

11 in 11!!!

I am so very happy today to participate in Hadar and Kristin's linky party!!! Two of my favorite teacher bloggers!!! Especially happy because I got a shout-out!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Here are my personal highlights of 2011!

11. Favorite movie you watched
I am racking my brain and the only movie I even remember seeing in theaters was Hugo!!!! But that is fine because it was a fantastic movie made from a fantastic book! I actually used The Invention of Hugo Cabret when I introduced myself to my class on the first day of school. I also loved seeing this movie because Matt went with me to a kids' movie and he liked it! Yeah!!

10. Favorite TV series
I definitely became obsessed with Seinfeld this year. It is SO FUNNY. I try to watch it when it's on every day and then I watch it on On Demand sometimes because I can't get enough. I would watch it on Netflix but it's not a streaming show... I can only get a disc at a time and that would take like 10 years. But yes, I love Seinfeld.

9. Favorite restaurant
There are two local restaurants that I frequented this year (well, more than two, but these are my faves). Kawa is a sushi place and Paisano's is a semi-fancy Italian place!!! Matt and I go to Kawa a lot because their sushi is amazing and they have good prices!!! Yum, I could go for some sushi right now. And actually, my brother and I are going out to eat and I get to pick the place!! I'm thinking sushi!!!

8. Favorite new thing you tried
I want to go with the obvious one and say blogging. I have gotten SO MANY great ideas from all of you wonderful people. My kids would love school a lot less without you. I guess I could also say that I "tried" teaching my very own class by my very own self and that has been pretty wonderful and my lifelong dream!! I am happy every day when I think about how I finally have my own class!!!!

7. Favorite gift you received
I got many wonderful gifts this year!!!!! For Christmas, though, I got The Book Whisperer, which was one of the best teaching books I have read!! It means more to me now because during the Book Whisperer read-along this summer, we could ask questions, and Donalyn Miller picked my question to answer!!! I almost had a heart attack.
6. Favorite thing you pinned

I pinned Smart Beads from Dandelions and Dragonflies and my kids think it is the most amazing thing that has happened to them. I forget about Smart Beads a lot but they love to tell me when they said something smart. The other day in second grade, we were learning to double consonants when you add suffixes, such as run to running. In a totally different subject, one of my second graders (who most of the time I feel like is super busy chatting and doesn't listen to anything I say) noticed a double consonant with a suffix and said, "Oh, look - they put two Ns!" And I was like, "OMG SMART BEAD!!!!!" They love wearing their Smart Beads all over school and taking home their little tickets. And I showed my Smart Beads to my principal and he just thought it was amazing. You should do it too.

5. Favorite blog post
I am going to go with We Love Text Spelling. It was one of the first posts I wrote where I got a pretty good amount of feedback. Also I am IN LOVE with the Teacher Tipster and it was the first idea of his that I tried. The picture I took really shows how excited they were!! They also kept telling me that they were texting me stuff and asking me to check my phone to see if I got it......... they make me laugh.

4. Favorite accomplishment
Before I covered a maternity leave in the spring for seventh and eighth grade, I was subbing day to day in the district where I student taught. I loooooooved it and I'm not going to lie, I miss subbing. Anyway, one day I was subbing in the school where my sister is the librarian, and a teacher approached me and said she had to go down to Kansas because her daughter was having a baby, and she was wondering if I was free for the next two weeks to sub for her. I said, "YES!" It was a third grade ESL class, which pretty much would be my dream classroom. The kids were amazing - sweet, funny, and they tried hard. I had to help prepare them for the ISATs (our standardized tests in Illinois) and we did a TON of writing while I was there. Their teacher had left general math and reading plans so I got to plan most of the rest of the days. We even went outside during a snowstorm after reading Snowflake Bentley to observe the falling snow! It felt really good that I could take over a class for a few weeks and the kids learned things and we had fun at the same time (and this was before I read blogs so I was really on my own!).

3. Favorite picture
In the spring, Matt and I went to his cousin's engagement party and we had so much fun!! His cousin is marrying into a Macedonian family, so there was a ton of Macedonian dancing and food!! I can't wait for the wedding! Here is a picture of people dancing, apparently I was taking a break at this point. It was definitely a workout!

2. Favorite memory
Probably teaching the seventh and eighth graders when I covered the maternity leave. I am shorter than most of them and, I won't lie, I was pretty scared. But I had a great time! They could do so much stuff, we joked around a lot, and they fully embraced every random project I thought up for them. I was so proud when they passed all the tests I'd make up for them and I was so touched when they threw a goodbye party for me with food and a dance party! The eighth graders are in high school now and I miss seeing them around.

1. Goal for 2012
My school goal is to be more organized and on top of my planning. Sometimes I am planning the night before and scrambling to find materials when I should have done it earlier. I also want to become less of a Debbie Downer about my reading program. I truly detest it but hating it clearly is not making it go away. So I want to try to supplement my program with individualized instruction, especially for my very low readers who are in la-la land during reading time because they can't read a word on the page. Sigh. My life goal is to spend more time with friends. I feel like my life is school and sleeping. I miss my friends!!

That was a wonderful remembering!!!!!! Thanks, Hadar and Kristin, for hosting!!!!

Monday, December 26, 2011

Holly Bloggy Christmas!!

This year I participated in Caitlin and Sarah's gift exchange, Holly Bloggy Christmas! It was super fun to send out a gift for another blogger and to receive one in the mail!

Andrea sent me a lovely array of gifts! If you're reading this, let me know if you have a blog so I can link to you!
I got... glittery J and D ornaments for my name, chocolate covered pretzels (not pictured because I devoured them, haha!), white fudge covered pretzels, Santa and reindeer window clings, a Target gift card, and a whole bunch of peppermint patties!!!!! My fave!!!

My other partner was Hilary at Rockin' Teacher Materials! I am not the most arty or crafty person, but I wanted to make sure Hilary's gift was special. I made her a picture frame to go along with the theme of her blog! I also included some homemade cookies. :)
I got the idea for her picture frame with Scrabble tiles from my cousin's Etsy shop! She just opened up but she makes the cutest things! Click on her Alpha Gams frame to visit her shop and take a look around. :)

Thank, Caitlin and Sarah, for organizing this awesome exchange!!!!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Christmas Survey!!

Happy Friday!!!

Yesterday, on my first vacation day, I went back to school to do a little cleaning and to pick up my teachers' manuals. I feel like I will be going back a lot... oh wells. It's kind of nice to be there in the peace and quiet. :)

Anyway, Kristin at A Teeny Tiny Teacher did this survey a few days ago, and before I go out and buy the last few Christmas gifts that I've been putting off, I will do it too!!!!

1. Wrapping paper or gift bags?
I'd much rather wrap presents. I am not amazing at it, but I am much worse at arranging tissue paper inside a gift bag. I have no idea how people do that!!! My gift bags always look terrible.

2. Real tree or artificial?
We always had real trees when I was little but now we have an artificial one. I would really like to have a real tree in my own personal home, but I don't really know how I feel about arbitrarily cutting down trees... plus I think it can be costly?

3. When do you put up the tree?
My mom refuses to put the tree up more than like 4 days before Christmas! :(

4. When do you take the tree down?
These answers are making me sound like a little kid..... but, again, my mom would be happiest if the tree was down on December 26th.

5. Do you like eggnog?
Not at all!!!!

6. Favorite gift received as a child?
I know I had an American Girl (Molly) but that might've been for my birthday?

 7. Do you have a nativity scene?
We have one at home and I have one in my classroom, but I don't have one personally. My dream is to get the Willow Tree nativity!
8. Hardest person to buy for?
My younger brother. He always buys everything he wants right away!

9. Easiest person to buy for?
My boyfriend! I keep mental notes of random things he says throughout the year and then I have tons of ideas when it is Christmastime!!

10. Mail or email Christmas cards?
I love mail so I love sending mail!

11. Worst Christmas gift you ever received?
Once we had a secret santa exchange and I had asked for dangly earrings. I got some really cheap gross looking ones. Somebody who was there ended up taking them for her 5-year-old, haha!

12. Favorite Christmas movie?
I love Holiday Inn, The Holiday, and Love Actually!!

13. When do you start shopping for Christmas?
If I have ideas early then I buy them right away so I don't forget! Otherwise I am a last-minute shopper.

14. Ever recycled a present?
Not besides those earrings previously mentioned!

15. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas?
My mom makes a delicious potato casserole type of thing. I promise it is delicious. My dad is on a low-fat, low-cholesterol diet this year so my mom says she isn't going to make it!! I am so sad.

16. Clear lights or colored lights on a tree?
Doesn't matter to me!

17. Favorite Christmas song?
That is tough... I guess I like most of them!

18. Travel at Christmas or stay at home?
The farthest we go is like 10 minutes. Haha! Although if I go with my boyfriend on Christmas Eve, his family goes to Indiana, which is about 2 hours away or so.

19. Can you name all of Santa's reindeer?
Oh yes. I think I have The Night Before Christmas memorized.

20. Angel or star on top of the tree?
We used to have an angel when I was little, but our kitten climbed up the tree and knocked it over. Now we have a star! At school, one of my girls made an "origami angel" at her house and brought it for our tiny tree.

21. Open the presents on Christmas Eve or Christmas morning?
We open them on both days!

22. Most annoying thing about this time of year?
Not knowing what to get for people.

23. Favorite ornament, theme, or color?
I like all the ornaments that I've gotten over the years. A long time ago, my mom got me a nutcracker one with a little string on the bottom. When you pull the string, his mouth opens and closes! Love it.

24. What do you want for Christmas?
I will be really happy if I get seasons of Seinfeld!!!! I watch Seinfeld like it is my job.

PS: Is anyone as psyched as I am that the NBA season starts in T minus 48 hours??? That is actually the best Christmas present that the world could give me!!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Our Christmas Party

Happy first day of Christmas break to me!

Yesterday was our party and it went off without a hitch! I am forever grateful to the teacher I worked with in the spring of 2010 who always organized her parties in stations. My typically energetic and loud kids are very well-behaved during our classroom parties because they are in small groups being supervised by a parent doing a fun activity. Hooray for stations!!

Here's what we did at our party.
Our first station was math bingo! My cousin, Kelley, is doing some of her observation hours in my class, and I was lucky enough to have her for the party! Her bingo cards were super cute. The kids rolled dice and added the numbers together, then covered up the answer.

Another station was making candy cane ornaments out of beads and pipe cleaners! This one was brought in by one of my room moms. She couldn't come to the party, so she sent her high school daughter instead. The word on the street was that she did NOT want to be at the party, but she hid it well and worked great with the kiddos!!

We also played Christmas Cover-Up, thanks to First Grade Garden. This was actually pretty similar to the Christmas bingo game, but none of the kids seemed to notice... They would roll the foam dice and add up the numbers, then cover up their answers. Apparently no one won this game in any of the rotations. Oh wells!

And our last station was two-in-one. First, we made magic reindeer food out of oatmeal and glitter. I used the tags found here. The reindeer clip art is a little weird-looking, but we don't have a color printer at school and I didn't want to use a ton of ink. Because this took a total of 2 seconds to scoop out some reindeer food, I also gave them something fun - a Christmas crypto-code puzzle from Super Teacher Worksheets. They love decoding these things, and it was a little brain break during the party.

After the stations were finished, it was food and present time!
I wanted to have a breakfast party, since we only had a half day. So we had a fruit tray, mini bagels with cream cheese, and apple and orange juice. So delicious and pretty nutricious! And, this is really shocking, NO ONE brought cupcakes!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I was so happy, especially after the four sets of cupcakes at Halloween.
Here's a closeup of the beautiful fruit tray. Sadly, by the time I got to it, the strawberries were long gone. :(

And then we handed out gifts. These were the gift bags I gave my kids. Inside was a Scholastic book that I picked out for each kid specifically and a Smencil, which they LOVED! The bags say "Jesus loves you snow much." Oriental Trading sent these bags to my mom's work as a Christmas gift or something, but she works at a speech/occupational therapy center, so they couldn't really use them. So I really lucked into these bags! And they held all of the kids' stuff pretty well.
A few kids brought in goody bags for the other kids. They had candy or little toys or games inside. It was really sweet! But kind of a crazy mess. They loved it though. And look! Someone got Pete the Cat for Christmas!! :)

I got some sweet gifts too! I got a Thirty-One Organizing Utility Tote that looks just like this! Mine is downstairs so I borrowed this picture from Mommy of Two Little Monkeys. Mine says "A+ Teacher" in pink!!
I also got a super cute snowman treat dish! I am in love with this thing because I have none of my own Christmas decorations. When I move out someday, I am going to have the saddest house at Christmas time. Now it will be a little more jolly!!!!
I am very thankful this Christmas for having a job, teaching twelve little people that make me laugh every day, and having awesome room moms and the best future-teacher-cousin ever to make my Christmas party a smashing success!!!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

It's Almost Party Time!

Only half of a day left until break time!!!!!!!!!!!!

These past few days haven't been horrific, so I am grateful for that! All I have left is the Christmas party tomorrow, yeah!

Here are a few other Christmas-y things we have been doing. :)

Inspired by this pin...

We made some junk mail snowflakes!

Ours look a little more like junk mail with holes in it BUT they loved it and it didn't take a lot of prep!

We also made Christmas gifts for our families! After perusing 154 blogs and looking all over Pinterest, I went with a gift idea that my first grade teacher did when I was in first grade! I would show you the kids' finished ornaments, but their pictures are on them. So I'll just show you mine!
We just painted popsicle sticks with either red or green tempera paint, and then I hot glued the popsicle sticks into this sled shape! There are two sticks hidden in this picture that would support the sled if you were to lay it down on a table. But it is meant to be an ornament. I am super happy with how they turned out! I just have to tie on the ribbons when I get to school in the AM.

I'm not sure if I showed you the sweet tiny Christmas tree that I found in my closet last week.
In their free time, the kids make paper snowflake ornaments for the tree and we just shove them onto the branches, haha!

And lastly, over the weekend, I found First Grade Garden and this CRAZY cute writing activity! Amanda provides the rough draft PDF as a freebie!!

And here's how they look on the bulletin board!
Soooooo cute!!!

Wish me luck for the partay tomorrow! All of the stations are set and ready to go, my presents for the kids are wrapped, and I am pumped!
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