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Friday, November 13, 2015

Five for Friday the 13th


Week two of being back into the groove of things, and I even had a few posts in between (though not all here)! Am I actually beginning to fall into a sort of routine? Could it really be happening?


First, as an update from last week - the lice is still going WAY too strong in our school. We've had so many outbreaks that I could literally count on my hand how many 5th grade girls didn't have their hair up yesterday, and I wanted to give them a rubber band to do so immediately. I actually bought some lice repellent on eBay yesterday after a coworker brought it in. The Ulta store closest to us is sold out of it. AND they made an instant alert call to remind parents to check their kids' hair. I really wish we could just close and get rid of it once and for all. So gross!!

Fairy Tales Repel Conditioning Spray, Rosemary, 8 Fluid Ounce


I shared about how to find the readability of any text over the weekend. It's actually very simple, and I was so excited to find it! Click on the picture (or just check out my last post) to read more about it.


I also had a little fun over at Virginia is for Teachers with a top ten list. I don't know about you, but I feel like I'm CONSTANTLY running on fumes these days!


We tried to go apple picking over the weekend, but it was rainy AGAIN. On top of that, almost all of the apples had already been picked. They were taking people up the mountain in a little bus to pick what few apples were left, so I didn't even go since Caffrey was in his stroller. My friend, Taylor, was able to snap a few pictures for me, though. We ended up leaving empty handed, but I did get my apple doughnut. That was all I really wanted.


I'm looking forward to hopefully decorating for Christmas a little this weekend (we pulled stuff down the day after Halloween, but that's as far as we've gotten). Tonight I'm hosting a LulaRoe pop-up boutique, and then we're going to a local Christmasy thing (Lakeside's Holly Jolly) highlighting businesses in our new neighborhood tomorrow. It should be fun!

Sunday, November 8, 2015

How to Determine the Readability of Any Text

I'm sure you've seen it before. A child just laboring away trying to work through a passage. Maybe they just circle answers and move on. Or maybe they completely shut down and quit. It may mean the text is just too hard. Now I know that students reading below level will have to work through text on grade level, especially for tests. But that text needs to be within reason (no more than 2 grade levels above their current grade).

So, maybe I'm way behind on this, but I just learned that you can actually check the readability of any document on Microsoft Word! That was so awesome to me because now I feel like I can look at a passage online and decide if it's appropriate for my students or not. Or if I ever decided down the road to create my own passages (not any time soon with a baby in the house), I can make sure it's appropriate. I figured surely some of you were also in the dark on this, so I decided to share a quick tutorial.

First, you have to make sure your program is already set up to find the readability of a passage. Mine was not. It's very easy, and you should only have to do it once.

Once you've done that, you can just put in any passage and test it out! It only takes a few seconds to do. I will say that I tried a list of sentences, but it didn't really work for that. This is geared toward paragraphs of information.

If you don't have Word or just want something easier, I also found a free website that runs text through FIVE different readability formulas and gives an average score:
You can either copy and paste text OR you can check a website's readability. I circled that data it gives.

I'm so excited to have these tools available and can't wait to be able to use them when choosing text to use with my students! It also will be helpful when sending home letters to parents so I will avoid being too wordy. Apparently I don't have much trouble with that since my blog came out as a fourth grade reading level. I guess I'm used to talking to fourth graders! ;-)

Friday, November 6, 2015

Five for Friday


I'm slowly getting back into the groove of teaching, blogging, and being a mom to TWO adorable little boys. My goal for this month is to blog at least once a week, but hopefully a little more frequently than that. I figure striving to do Five for Friday each week is a nice place to start!


The weather here has been awesome (well, for me at least)! It's not too hot, but it's cool enough that I can wear a lightweight sweater and jeans. We couldn't have done better for Halloween night and had a blast taking the kids around our new neighborhood. Keagan has gotten so much braver and didn't back down from any houses...

...although he did want mommy AND daddy to walk up with him on this one. He told me later that the witches on the porch were "super scary". They talked.


Caffrey has become a little chatterbox and is all smiles (well, most of the time at least). I miss being able to be home with him, but I love my evening snuggles. He's almost big enough to sit up on his own, and we're going to start giving him baby food once we go to the grocery store again.


Of course, I have been working as well and even had some time to finish a few products this week! I made two more mysteries and a new set of literacy centers for grades 3-5. You can read more about them and find them in my store by clicking on the picture below!


Most of my groups are finishing up their first level of the year and getting ready to do a novel study before Thanksgiving break, so I spent today unwrapping them all and getting ready to begin. I'm so proud of the progress they've made!


When I'm not teaching at school, I've been keeping my distance from kids. We've had a BAD lice outbreak here, and I feel like my head is constantly itching. I even had to have the school nurse check my head yesterday because I was so paranoid. I'm just praying they can deep clean the school over the weekend and get rid of ALL of it. It's so gross...

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Pirates Ahoy! (and some Thanksgiving, too)

I feel like it's been forever since I made my last product, but I finally had some time to do a little creating! I bought some awesome pirate clip art last year and had yet to use it, so that is where I began:

First, I HAD to have a new mystery, and stolen treasure was just an obvious choice. This mystery is also great for talking about character traits because I used higher level vocabulary to describe each suspect. (Doesn't Jinxy Jack just have a nice ring to it?)

I'm also working hard to create more literacy centers for "Big Kids" that aren't holiday specific. As with all of my other sets, I did a lot of research to include fun pirate-related information to practice difficult language art skills.

Then I wanted to finish a Thanksgiving mystery that I actually started last year and was too exhausted to ever finish. This one is more predictive. They have to decide who is most likely to win the "wishbone contest" (the person who ends up with the largest part of the wishbone). Bonus: I include strategies to win! :-)

If you have already purchased my Mega Mysteries bundle, both mysteries are now already included, so make sure you download it again. And the Thanksgiving mystery has also been added to the Fall Mysteries Bundle. You don't want to miss these new, fun mysteries!

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Currently November

It's November 3, which means I'm already two days late for Farley's currently. But still, that isn't so bad. Let's pretend I was working hard cleaning house and not binge watching Pretty Little Liars during the boys' naps. Yeah, sure. And I definitely wasn't stuffing my face full of candy...and in my defense, I did start this post yesterday and just didn't get around to posting it. So it's almost only one day late.

Listening: Like I said, I started this yesterday. Right now, I'm actually just getting ready to head in for work because we have conferences from 12-7. So I've been cleaning since I didn't on Sunday.

Loving: We're that crazy family that starts pulling out the Christmas stuff right after Halloween. That's just about as far as we've gotten, though, because we've been so exhausted. The only things that are out are Keagan's Christmas nightlight, a Rudolph dvd, and his Rudolph "snow monster" that sings. We may start with the village this week. Unfortunately our tree died (like literally fell over along with having a slew of lights out), so we need to buy another one before starting on it.

Thinking: I mentioned before that our Title 1 program is using Fountas and Pinnell's LLI system this year, and I really like it! My groups are just finishing their first round, and I'm so excited for them to move up another reading level so quickly!

Wanting: We usually have already been apple picking, but the rain prevented our first scheduled trip, then it gets too crazy during the actual festival weeks in October. So we are supposed to go this weekend. I know most of the apples will be gone, but it will still be fun. As long as it doesn't rain again...

Needing: I have a problem. It's sweets. We have way too much candy in the house for my good...

Yummy: I'm a sucker for some creamy mashed potatoes. I think I could eat a few bowls of it. Like right now...

***Update: I saw so many people sharing pictures of their cuties that I just HAD to add one of my little family from Halloween. We had so much fun trick-or-treating in our new neighborhood, and I can't wait to do it again next year!

And one more since Caffrey's face was covered (he was Keagan's dragon)...

Monday, October 26, 2015

The Best Pencil Sharpener, Now in...

I know I've blogged about these little pencil sharpeners before and have even given a few away, but today they are releasing their newest color - PURPLE!!!! You know you want one...

Not only are they the best at getting a quick, sharp point, they are also WAY quieter than most sharpeners. You know you hate it when kids have to sharpen a pencil and you aren't even able to talk over it. (Unfortunately I still have to deal with this in other classrooms in my building. Maybe I should encourage some of my students to buy them as teacher gifts?)

They're quiet, easy to use, effective, clean, AND they were actually created by a teacher! Plus they come in 6 bright colors. Classroom Friendly Supplies sent me one to test. This time I actually mounted it to my desk, which helped a lot because I don't have to hold it in place. It also came already assembled (even though assembling mine from a few years ago only took a minute or two).

I decided to take a short video to show how easy it is to use in case you don't want to take my word for it.


One little tip that I've learned over the years: avoid cheap pencils. This sharpener is so effective that it will rip the led out of those pencils almost every time. I stocked up on Ticonderoga at the beginning of the year, and they work perfectly!

These really are the best, and prices aren't bad either. You can even make school bulk orders! Go get yours now before they sell out!

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Room Reveal 2015

Okay, my room has been finished for a few weeks now, so I realize this is REALLY late. Like maybe I should have just skipped it and waited until next year. I was waiting to get my bookshelves in to store our new Fountas & Pinnell LLI system, which meant that I was able to get rid of old, mismatched shelves and cubbies used as shelves. It just looks so much cleaner!

I wanted to add a little more decoration to the room, so I bought some lanterns and poofs from Amazon. They add a nice little touch.

And since I'm so late in posting pictures, I also have some fall details that have been added to the room.

Print is free from Nest of Posies - super cute!

Yarn Ghost Garland:

This garland featured on Eighteen25 was just TOO adorable to pass up - plus I had all of the supplies in my room and could do it in a day. Of course mine isn't quite as cute.. 

I made some for my house, but then I realized both of our mantels (yes we have two now) are white, and it just wouldn't show up. Oh well...

Now if only I could get a new filing cabinet and black storage cabinets to match, it would be perfect!