Thursday, May 31, 2012

Most Memorable

I'm linking up with Heidi @ My Not So Elementary Life for her Most Memorable Moment of 2011-2012 linky party!

Ok, so I'm supposed to write about the most memorable moment of this school year... Overall, this year has been eye-opening, enriching and simply wonderful, even though I was crazy busy and overwhelmed with planning. It was my first year teaching-- I pull kids who are at-risk and below grade level and provide supplemental support in a small group setting.

Watch out, I'm about to get sentimental...

I think my most memorable moment had to do to with one of my 3rd grade friends. He is waaayyy behind grade level in reading and has been suffering in all other content areas because of it. I have seen him 1-on-1 all year to work on math. He's great with facts, but doesn't have the language he needs to understand anything abstract. My most memorable moment was when I saw his test results from the standardized test each student in the school takes in the fall and spring.  He went from scoring in the 1st, the lowest, percentile to scoring in the 24th percentile! 50% is average, so it's still low enough to qualify for support, but that growth his huge for this kid! It was easily the most rewarding moment all year. I was so proud and happy for him.

Another memorable moment was when I got a note from a 2nd grader that said something like, "Mrs. K----------------  your my favrite teacher." She completely butchered the spelling of my name, but it was soooo sweet.

I love my job. :)
My (Not So) Elementary Life

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

What are you reading?? And a freebie!

I'm a sucker for a good book... drama, chick-lit, witty memoirs, fantasy, adolescent/young adult that I'm slightly embarrassed to read in public...

Apparently, I'm a sucker for a good linky party, too... And, since this one doubles as a contest where I win BOOKS, the moment I saw it I had to do it. :)

Head on over to The Clutter-Free Classroom and link up! Or don't... because then I have a better chance at winning the $15 gift certificate for and a copy of The End of Molasses Classes by Ron Clark. jk! :)

I like to buy my books, because I'm sort of a book abuser... I read outside quite often over the summer, and I like to snack when I read, too. Since I reread most of my books, I often find food stains and bugs from leaving a book outside at the campground. Sometimes it makes me feel a little gross, but it usually just makes me reminisce about the last time I turned the pages. :) 

Anyway... here's what I'm planning on reading this summer:

1. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by JK Rowling (it's one of my all time favorite books and I can't go a year without rereading it)

2. Bergdorf Blondes by Plum Sykes (another one of my favorite summer reads of the comedy/chick-lit genre... it's a little on the raunchy side at times, but I love it anyway)

3. Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

4. Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

5. The Debutante by Kathleen Tessaro (I just started reading this, but haven't really had time to get into it so now it's a summer book.)

6. The CAFE Book

7. Queen of Babble Gets Hitched by Meg Cabot

8. The Leader in Me by Stephen Covey

9. Son of a Witch by Gregory Maguire

10. Something Borrowed by Emily Giffin

Some books I recommend:
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Cold Tangerines by Shauna Niequist
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey
Bitter is the New Black by Jen Lancaster
Queen of Babble in the Big City by Meg Cabot
Remember Me by Sophie Kinsella
Can you Keep a Secret by Sophie Kinsella
... and basically anything Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

I love reading. Doing it, teaching it, talking about it... I love everything from the feel of the pages, to the smell of the binding. I love the way the characters can feel like life-long friends. I love the way they toy with my emotions... whether I'm laughing aloud or sobbing. I love that I zone-in so deeply that Justin has to call my name multiple times in order for me to reply with, "Huh?"

If the one thing I can do for my students is to instill a love of reading, then I think I've succeeded. Something I like to do in the classroom to give kids an opportunity to read books of their choice, and encourage their friends to read something they thought was totally awesome, is a book talk. Click on the link below to check out a better explanation of the way I use them, as well as download the how-to & example book talk posters to hang in the classroom. Enjoy! :)

Click here ---> Book Talks Freebie!!

Clutter-Free Classroom

"I have a confession" Linky Party!

I'm linking up with  Living A Wonderful Life because I've been a bit obsessive lately...

My current obsessions...

1. Teacher blogs & blogging in general... I can hardly stop stalking!

2. The awesome bday present from my sister and aunt -- a sweet purple travel mug and loose-leaf tea from Teavana! So good!

3. Vegging out on the couch, watching TV & snacking (probably a bad idea...). I'm really missing my regular shows now that the seasons are all ending/over.... The Office, Modern Family, Parenthood, New Girl, Up All Night, Glee, Happy Endings, Revenge, Suburgatory, 30 Rock, Big Bang Theory, Desperate Housewives... this list is way too long!

4. Homemade mac & cheese... It's all I want to cook these days! Here are my fave recipes so far:

And I'll be trying this one next...

What are your obsessions??

What I'm Loving Wednesday!

I'm linking up with Jamie again at This Kind of Love for...

Today, I am loving a lot of things... but mostly I'm loving how awesome this past weekend was!

Here are the highlights:

I'm loving how much fun we had at Randee's wedding!! I'm so happy for her! 

Me and my besties!


Aaannnnd I'm loving that TWO days after catching Randee's bouquet, Crystal is now engaged!!!

I'm loving the day we spent with friends cruising on the lake and then came back to the house for a bonfire!

I'm loving the afternoon and evening Justin & I spent at his parents' house swimming and grilling out.
 I'm loving that my job interview (yesterday morning) went pretty well! They're looking for a 5th grade teacher now... which is my favorite grade ever! PLEASE pray that they pick me! I have really high hopes here, and can think of nothing else but how much I want this. I'm also loving how much support and encouragement I've been getting from family and friends... they pretty much rock.

10 1/2 days of school left!  How can you not love that!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

What I'm Loving Wednesday!!

I'm linking up with Jamie at This Kind of Love for

Here's what I'm loving today...

Only 15 days of school left!!! That's only 3 more Fridays, and 3 more Mondays, people!

I got to have some quality girl-time with my favorite ladies for Randee's bachelorette party over the weekend. We had such a good time pretending we were college roomies again! :)

My friend Kim who helped me get an interview at a charter school next week! Yay! :)
My sweet husband... After Randee's bachelorette party turned sleepover, I came home Sunday morning to a clean house, birthday & anniversary presents... including the last two books of the Hunger Games series and a pretty new wedding band!! :)

When we first got engaged, I thought I didn't want a wedding band for some reason...
Then, right after we got married, I decided that was crazy!
I feel sooo much more married now! ;)
This beautiful weather! I actually have a really nice tan going, even though I've been layering on the SPF like crazy. No sunburns & no pealing!!! Woot woot!
The season finale of Modern Family & Revenge are on tonight! :)

Friday, May 18, 2012

Another One Bites The Dust

I love these linky parties!

As the end of the school year approaches, I have mixed feelings. This was my first year teaching and though it was wonderful, I am so ready for a break! Here are my 3 & 3 from this year.

The Great...
  1. Actually having a classroom I can call mine (though I do share it with my coworker) with my very own name plate above the door, instead of wondering if and where I'll end up subbing each day.
  2. Adding the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People Signature Training to my resume. The district graciously had everyone trained, and we start implementing The Leader In Me for the kids next year. I love the responsibility and self-awareness this program brings the students! I can't wait to dive in!
  3. The wonderful students I worked with... although some of them made me feel a little bonkers, I love each one dearly for their kind hearts and funny comments. They taught me so much this year!

The Not-So-Great...
  1. Having to share a tiny closet of a classroom... I really love working with the woman I share the room with, but it's just not enough space for all the materials, the extra shelving we had to add to store them, 2 teachers, and up to 10 students at a time!
  2. Only having 1 teacher computer in our room... This was a challenge when we both needed/had motivation to work on something.
  3. The time it took to finally get into a planning & record keeping routine! I feel like I just started to really get it down to where I'm not all-consumed by my part-time teaching job, and it's almost summer... there are just 18 days of school left for us!!! Weeee!! :)

Thanks to Amber  at Adventures of a Third Grade Teacher for hosting this Linky Party! She is also hosting a sale at her Teacher's Notebook store AND a giveaway!! You should totally check it out! :)

Thursday, May 17, 2012

My First Freebie!!

I don't know about you, but I just LOVE a good ol' think-pair-share. However, I prefer to call it "Turn & Talk." It's the phrase my mentor teacher used & I just think it's easier to say. The phrase isn't my original idea, so please don't think I'm taking credit for it. If you know where it comes from, please tell me so I can give them due credit!

I love that this strategy allows the students to share and collaborate, and I love the way it enhances their speaking and listening skills. The new Common Core seems to be so reflection/analysis/explanation driven, and I think that students need more opportunities than ever to verbalize and explain their thinking to peers, as well as adults.

Anyway... many of my little ones have trouble following directions, or just remembering procedures in general, so I decided to create these to use as a sort of anchor chart during the summer school math workshop I'll be running. The first page details the procedure of a "Turn & Talk" and the second page has sentence starter prompts to help facilitate discussions between partners and when they share with the group.

In case you aren't familiar with the think-pair-share/turn & talk... the procedure basically goes like this:
1. Students think about the question/task silently. (This time could also be used to write down their thoughts, jot down ideas for a story, etc.)

2. Here's where the sentence prompts come in... when you give them the cue, the students turn to their partners (which I like to give every 2-4 weeks) and quietly discuss their ideas. Face-to-face interaction is best, and specifying 6-inch voices helps keep the noise-level bearable & to make sure they're focused on each other.

3. When you give the cue, you'll come back together as a group and you ask a few students to share what they talked about with their partner. You may want ask a specific question, ask students to tell what their partner shared, choose volunteers, or draw sticks/cards to select students. It's up to you.

Since the documents are small, I plan on having a mini lesson on the procedure of a high quality "Turn & Talk," it's purpose, etc., prior to hanging them up near our group time area where I plan to have most of our discussions

I printed the documents on white cardstock (you could probably also use a lighter color), matted it onto some colored construction paper, and laminated it.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

May Currently

I'm linking up... again! Am I computer-literate or what?!?!

Anyway, I'm joing the lovely Farley at Oh' Boy 4th Grade with her May Currently Linky Party. I've been trying to figure out how the heck to do this one for a while, but I finally got it (thanks to my lovely cowoker)! Ooh oooooh!

My bed is calling me... Over and out...

Summer Bucket List

I'm starting to think about all the things I want to accomplish this summer while school is out... and so I decided to join the linky party hosted by some pretty awesome teacher bloggers, like Teri at A Cupcake For The Teacher. All three of these ladies have some great ideas for the classroom. If you're in education, I suggest you check them out. :)

Here is my Bucket List for the Summer of 2012:

  1. Read! As much as humanly possible.
  2. Enjoy hours on the lake with the hubby.  
  3. Put together a scrapbook/photobook/album from our spring break vaca to the Caribbean
  4. Go up north and visit my grandparents
  5. Spend quality time with family and friends 
  6. Organize my classroom book collection
  7. Organize my lesson binders, supplies and random activities that have been piling up in random places.
Those last two were more like things I probably should do, but may not get done if I'm having too much fun doing other things.... :)

Friday, May 11, 2012

Happy Friday!

This week has just flown by, and I am so ready for some weekend. The kids at school are all sorts of antsy for summer, as am I, and there's just so much testing to be done (poor kiddos!).

I had my first official observation & evaluation as a real, live school employee this week.

YAY!!! I so excited!!! (note sarcasm)

Of course, I felt like the whole thing went horribly... not about-to-lose-my-job horribly, but just totally mediocre kind of horribly. The kids decided to have a impressive amount of brain farts and meltdowns, which totally threw me off my game.

But apparently my supervisor thought I was pretty fab, especially considering the little friends I was working with, and our conversation following the observation was just peachy. :)

And so, I get to keep my job. Ooooh-OOOOH! Celebratory moment!

PHEW!! Glad that's over with.

On another note, I decided to change the title and description of my blog.

When I started this thing a couple years ago, I was apparently feeling a little emo--anticipating some really heavy, thought provoking, monumental, epiphany-like writing and life reflecting. But it's usually not. So I'm going to stop pretending that's what I'm doing, and write what I want, when I want to write it.

Don't get me wrong, I'm a smart girl! I enjoy reading all that thought-provoking stuff, and occasionally writing it, but I'm more of a fictional, comedic anicdote kind of girl.

I like my escape from the real world.

Don't hate.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

I'd like a Time-Turner for my birthday, please.

Time and the hour run through the roughest day. ~ William Shakespeare

I have been feeling so stressed and crunched for time the past couple months. There have been few days that I have gone to bed at a decent time and have not left something to be done for another day. The wheels in my head can't seem to turn off quickly enough so I can't fall sleep unless I lay there for an hour, and my alarm literally does nothing to wake me in the morning. It sucks too, because I have those really weird, vivid dreams that make you restless, and it doesn't feel like I'm in that good deep-sleep mode until it's time to get up in the morning.

It seems like as soon as I feel caught up and decide that I can afford to just relax and "waste time" watching tv, browsing blogs (side note - Check out Suri's Burn Book... it's the perfect dose of celeb gossip and wit. If you enjoy mocking the tabloids, this tumbler is for you!) & online articles or perusing FB, I look around and the house is a mess or I have a ton of lesson plans to catch up on.

We went on a wonderful vacation with Justin's family for Spring Break, and it felt so good to have no obligations. I read 3 books for fun that week... three books! For FUN! I sooo missed that! Anyway, we basically hit the ground running when we came home, and it took me two weeks to finally finish unpacking the last of our suitcases.

The to-do list is never-ending and I'm not sure what to do about it. There isn't really that much that I could remove from my plate, and I'm really sucking at the whole self-discipline and time-management thing. I always end up justifying the time I take to just relax or zone out, and my reasoning is usually not that far-fetched-- a girl deserves a little while to snuggle with her husband on the couch or clear her head, doesn't she?

I just feel like there aren't enough hours in the day for me to do a good job at work, keep a semi-clean house, cook dinners, make lunches, and maintain my sanity. I'm always having to choose to neglect something in order to take care of something else.... and it's always a tough choice because everything carries just enough weight to make the next day a bit more stressful. And I feel like I'm always sacrificing my relationships and sanity in order to take care of things for work or the house or something else that is much less satisfying than spending time with a friend or reading a book.

Hey, Hermione, could you please lend me your Time-Turner until I get my own? Mmkay, thanks! <3