Friday, March 29, 2013

Five for Friday and a Sale

I feel like I actually had enough going on this week to join in on this fun linky, plus I won't be posting as frequently next week (thinking of scheduling at least one post though) because it's my SPRING BREAK!!

1. We had our Title I Night last night, and it went well. This will be another post that I am scheduling for next week (Tuesday?) because I have a lot to say about how we structured it. However, I will leave you with one picture of my favorite activity from the night. Check back to get the recipe that we used (since it was a reading night) and learn more!

2. One of my third grade classes that I work with has had a student teacher for the past few months (today was her last day). Last week, we had a book fair and she decided she wanted to buy some books for someone. Since her teacher and daughter's teacher had already had their wishlist fulfilled, she bought two books for me! It was so sweet of her, especially since I'm not a regular classroom!


Oh, and one of my sweet fourth grade students brought me a yummy chocolate bunny this morning because yes, we still had a full day today. I'm a little jealous of you teachers who got to start your break on Good Friday. 

I might have eaten it right after he walked out the door. Hey, I'm justifying it with my Insanity workout, although this might be part of the reason why I'm not seeing any results yet. At least I feel stronger, but the whole point was to lose some inches in the waist so my pants fit right.

3. Speaking of gifts, I got this sweet Easter basket complete with a Barnes and Noble gift card from my secret pal at school. SO excited! I knew I saved the email with a B&N coupon for a reason. Time to go shopping!

4. Tuesday and Wednesday of this week were Writing SOLs (Virginia's Standards of Learning since we didn't jump on the bandwagon and go to CCSS) for our 5th graders. This year was the first year that they did everything online including the prompt. It actually went better than we had anticipated, but the importance of teaching them how to type essays appropriately is that much more of a priority. I know they're glad it's over. Only 5 weeks after break before the rest of the SOLs start. EEK!!

5. I'm joining in with some other bloggers and having a sale at my TPT store! I chose five of my favorite products that will be 20% off through Sunday. 

Here are the items I chose. Click on the images below to find them, and I wouldn't mind if you wanted to pin them as well. ;-)

Have a great Easter weekend, and enjoy your Spring Break if you're starting it like me!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Earth Day fun

Today was day two of the writing SOL for 5th grade at our school, and I was helping monitor the bathrooms since we can only have one boy or girl in the bathroom at a time during testing. At least I had a laptop to work on today (or browse blogs, Pinterest, and TPT - hey, it's professional development) because this was the long part! I don't know how writing tests go in other states, but Virginia has a multiple choice section (we did that yesterday) and then a writing prompt. This year, it's ALL online, so they had to type their prompt, which didn't take quite as long as I thought it would. By lunch at 12:15, the two classes that I was monitoring were mostly done. I had a chance to start my Earth Day mystery, and I was able to finish it during planning before I got my one afternoon group. All the others were cancelled today because of testing.


I used graphics from Krista's store, Creative Clips. Her Earth day pack (and others for that matter) are so cute and colorful. She's become one of my new favorites!

Only two more days before Spring Break is here. I cannot wait!! This girl is ready to sleep in and relax some (although I'll still be doing Insanity for another 40-something days, unless I decide to be a quitter at 30. I'm on day 19 right now, and this waking up at 4:30 to do intense workout is killing me).

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Tried it Tuesday - Reading Conferences

I'm so excited to join Holly in her very first of a series of linky parties:

With this linky, you share any"thing" that you have tried, either personal or professionally, and how it worked for you. It could have been a success or a complete flop. For my very first "Tried it", I want to share about CAFE and how I've made it work in a non-traditional setting.

For those of you who are not familiar with CAFE, it's from the sisters (Gail Boushey and Joan Moser) who created Daily 5. This is a companion program.

Daily 5 lays out what students should be doing while the teacher is working with other students. CAFE is the guideline for the teacher's instruction. It stands for Comprehension, Accuracy, Fluency, and Expanding Vocabulary. Under each heading, there are a list of strategies that students can use to help them gain mastery. The whole point is that the teacher holds individual conferences with students where they read a book ON THEIR LEVEL and work on the different strategies. Each students has a goal and works toward mastering one skill at a time. There's so much more to it, and I highly recommend getting a copy of the book to learn more. The program is fantastic!

Anyway, when we started this last year, I was quite pregnant and did my best to jump in wholeheartedly, but let's face it. Trying something new when you're going out on maternity leave in a few months doesn't really work that well. I came back in February and tried to get it really going again, but then it was a huge push toward preparing for tests. We sort of made it work, but most of my intentions stayed just that. Intentions.

At the end of the year, I learned that I would be moving to Title I as the reading specialist for grades 3-5. I put my CAFE board together and made my little gigantic notebook for conferences. For most of the year, it just sat there. I was meeting with students, but most of it was being done in a small group setting, and I just didn't have much to write. After Christmas, I decided it was time to get serious. I threw out the old sheet and made things as simple as possible for myself. Then I made it pretty! You can download the form for FREE here! Just please make sure to leave me some positive feedback.

With this sheet, I just quickly fill in what the student is reading, what we've been working on, and what I feel we need to focus on for next time. If I meet with them for a running record, I quickly jot down what letter I'm reading with them, their accuracy percentage and number of correctly answered comprehension questions. Then I put if they are instructional, independent, or frustrational. That way I have a quick reference to look at when it's time to retest them. I wish that I had kept up with this more throughout the year because it's helped a lot. I can see an exact date when I last met with each student and decide quickly who I need to read with and who can wait a little longer.

If you're not doing individual conferences with your kids, I challenge you to give it a try. I know it's easier to just meet with them in a small group, but you really can accomplish most of these meetings in about 5 minutes and quickly move from one kid to another. The only time it takes me longer is when I'm doing running records. Still I can get through most of those in about 15 minutes!

Now go check out Holly's blog for more ideas that teachers are trying out. See if any catch your eye!

Then go and Follow my blog with Bloglovin. All the cool kids are doing it! ;-)

Monday, March 25, 2013

A few of my favorite things

Let me just start by saying that I'm so glad it's not my Spring Break yet. Why? Because this is what happened yesterday:

And it didn't stop falling until sometime this morning. We got around 3-4 inches, so today was a SNOW DAY!! If I had been on break, it would have been a waste. Instead, I got to take my little man out to play before taking him over to the sitter so I could get some cleaning done. My goal is to keep the house fairly clean so we can just go on Sunday. We're heading down to GA to see my family, and I'm SO excited!

It's time for another Let's Get Acquainted with Latoya. This week we're talking about our favorite person, place, thing, and animal.

I love my little goober! He's growing so much, and I cherish every minute I get to spend with him! Keagan is ALL boy and into everything. He loves to chase the dogs, stand in his rocking chair, eat his weight in honeycombs, watermelon, and hot dogs, and so much more! This morning, I had to go through his clothes and take out ALL of his remaining 12 month items because they're too short. He's going to be a tall little boy!

I love Charleston! It has all of the perks of Savannah, but it has a little more life to it. There's tons of great places to eat, shopping on King Street (I could spend a fortune there), history, and beautiful beaches nearby! Steven and I try to stop through frequently coming and going from Savannah to Richmond.

I had no idea what to put for thing, so I started thinking of something that I couldn't live without. That seemed too boring, so I decided to go with something fun. I LOVE clothes and shopping, and I can't wait for the weather to be warm again so I can start wearing all of my dresses. It was hard to choose which dress is actually my favorite (and it constantly changes - actually I just bought my Easter dress Saturday that I'm in love with), but this has been one of my top picks the longest. Steven let me fall in love with Lilly Pulitzer a few years ago, specifically a $300 dress that we couldn't afford. So I went searching for a cheaper dress that made me feel as good. This Anthropologie find was perfect (still expensive, but not anywhere near $300)! Wish I had a good, non-sunburned picture, but that's the life of a redhead!

Top: Rudy (almost 3 years ago), Bottom: John (last summer)

I couldn't possibly pick between the two. We got these two as puppies three years ago after our sweet Copper passed away too quickly (We rescued him and thought he was much younger than he actually was. He died after only 1 year of us having him. Apparently he'd been sick all along.) My heart couldn't take another quick loss, so we began the search. I NEVER had intentions of getting two, and I definitely didn't plan on having dogs over 30 pounds. We were looking for a small beagle. John and Rudy were the last two of their litter. Mom had been a 19 lb beagle, so they looked perfect. I fell in love with both of them almost instantly. I have to admit that I had MAJOR doubts when the vet laughed at 30 pounds and told us they'd be 60 lbs each, easily. But they grew with me, and I couldn't imagine not having them both now. Plus Keagan adores them (especially John). I almost posted a picture of him hugging John, but I liked this picture better. I need to take more pictures of them, though!

Alright, I'm going to finish cleaning before Steven gets back home with my little man! Maybe we can even do something fun tonight!

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Giveaways galore

Thank God it's Saturday! This week seemed to last forever, and we still have one more week to go before Spring Break. I've heard that some people get two weeks for break. How does this work? Are you year-round school, or do you just work in an amazing district? I'm very jealous!

When we come back for break, it's time for benchmarks. We'll also only have 5-6 weeks left before the SOLs (EEK!). I need to hit the ground running with test prep for my kiddos!

I had to blog about this and let you know about this AMAZING giveaway! If you're like me and have become obsessed with buying clipart, you HAVE to check this out. Pretty much all the big name clipart people are giving things away here. I've entered every way possible and would be floored if I got lucky enough to win!

Then head over to Lisa's blog for her giveaway (tons of TPT gift cards and other stuff) that could buy some of the clipart you want if you don't happen to win Tori's. Or if you're SUPER lucky, you could share it with me just buy a TON of extra stuff!

Tracey just hit 300 followers today, and who doesn't love gift cards?

Brittany is celebrating 200 followers, and there are some fantastic prizes, including more free clipart!

And finally, a 100 follower giveaway with a $25 gift card. Go check out Literacy Spark!

Oh, make sure you check out yesterday's post to see my lie and new Spring literacy centers I posted yesterday. They're adorable. Plus there's only one week left for my Lucky 7 linky party. If you haven't already linked up, go do it! It's a great way to reflect on what you're blessed to have.

I've been cleaning all morning (trying to have things ready for us to go out of town next weekend), and now I'm just waiting for little man to wake up from his nap so we can do something!

Friday, March 22, 2013

The truth is...

Alright, I had a lot of fun reading everyone's truths and lies and can't wait to see how many I actually got right. I was surprised and amused that EVERYONE got my lie wrong. However, to be fair, I was a little tricky and only gave a half lie. 
  • I did want to teach math (although I've always loved working with little kids) and I WAS failing my first college level math class before I dropped it. The problem was that I had only taken up to Trig in high school and tested in for college Calculus. There's a HUGE gap between the two. I cried. But my brother (who's 8 years younger than me) also told me that if I taught high school, he would never be able to listen to me. So maybe it was God's way of showing me I wasn't cut out to teach them. Instead I work with the high school girls at church, and it's the perfect balance!
  • Yes, I did want to be a preacher's wife, and yes, Steven was a deacon at our church. This is his year off, but he'll probably be back on soon. We go to a very small church, so the rotations are kind of tight.
  • I actually started teaching myself to sing alto in ELEMENTARY school, not middle school. (Sorry, maybe I was being unfair but I wanted to keep people guessing!) My best friend was the music minister's daughter, and we were probably in 3rd grade learning how to sing it. It kept us entertained!

In other news, I finished my Spring Literacy Centers yesterday and had two wonderful ladies review them for me last night. You can find them at both stores now. Enjoy!


Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Skippyjon Jones and SomeBUNNY Loves Your Blog

Today I got to read to a class of 3rd graders as the guest reader for our reading month. It was a lot of fun to be on the other side of this and pick a book to read just for pure pleasure! I chose to read Skippyjon Jones so I could use my best Spanish accent!


Then I treated the class with some jellybeans (since El Bumblebeeto Bandito stole all the beans in the story). I love jellybeans, and they were very excited! By the way, did you know they now sell Fave Reds Starburst Jellybeans?

 I was SO excited! This girl loves strawberry jellybeans, and now I have tons of them!

Feeling a little down while desperately trying to make it to Spring Break? Christina from Bunting, Books, and Bainbridge is hosting this sweet little linky. Think of somebody's blog who you feel deserves a little love and pass it on. Then go link up with Christina.

I'm sending bloggy love out to Jackie and Danielle, the Sister Teachers!

Sister Teachers

These ladies get to teach together (2nd and 3rd grade) down in Florida. How cute is that? They are super sweet and create some of the cutest products. I've had the pleasure of reviewing some of their Magic Tree House packets, and they are so thorough. Please go check out their blog if you're not already a follower. I'm sure you will love them as much as I do!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

A fun little linky for Tuesday

I don't know what the deal is with me, but I am dragging this week! I keep feeling like I've been here forever and then remember it's only Tuesday. I guess my body is just ready for Spring Break. Plus this whole getting up every morning around 4:30 to work out is making me tired and achy. So I decided it was time to relax and have a little fun in the form of...

It's time for week two of Latoya's linky party, and I think this week's topic is a lot of fun. Did you ever play two truths and a lie growing up? Well, here's your chance again! We used to do a variation of it in high school where we each came up with one truth. Then they called 3 of us up to tell "our story", and you had to figure out who it really belonged to.

Anyway, here are my two truths and a lie. See if you can spot the lie!

  • I went to college thinking I would become a high school math teacher, but I had to drop my first college math class because I was failing. After that, I wrestled with what to do until my Sophomore year when I decided to teach elementary.
  • Growing up, I was convinced that I would be a preacher's wife. My dad and grandfather are both preachers, and my uncle is a music minister. Plus a lot of preacher's kids that I knew ended up becoming preacher's wives. Kind of grateful that God chose a different path for me, though. It's much less stressful to be a deacon's wife!
  • I taught myself to sing alto when I was in middle school. Since I was in church literally every time the doors were open unless I was dying throwing up VERY sick, I got bored quickly. One of my friends' moms sang alto, and we thought it would be cool to do instead of the melody. So we both started picking it out. Now I'm really good at finding the harmony for songs and almost never sing melody.

Come back later to find out the truth!

Monday, March 18, 2013

Case of the Missing Easter Eggs

I know I'm posting again, but the last one was mainly just to say that my sale is up until the end of the day. But I had to post about this new item that is also on sale today.

I made another one! These have been so much fun to create (I've always been a fan of mysteries anyway), and I've realized how desperately my students need help with their critical thinking skills. I mean, I've always known it, but we did the Case for the Missing Pot O' Gold last week in a 5th grade class, and I was a bit scared. It did provide for teachable moments about what constitutes as a fact and what you CANNOT use to prove guilt (I even threw out the term "circumstantial evidence"). For this one, I used some well known characters as the suspects to add a fun little twist. Hope you enjoy it!

Pinned Image


I posted this on my facebook page yesterday because I couldn't get on here, but I am having a sale in my TPT store through today! You can get 20% off all of my items! Just wanted to let you know that. Now I'm going to get ready for the day since my school is NOT getting a 2 hour delay like the county I live in. Boo.

Friday, March 15, 2013

My first Five for Friday and a FREEBIE!

This is a busy, yet fun time of year, so this post is going to be full of information! With that, I figured it was the perfect time to join in Doodle Bug's Five for Friday, especially when I realized I already had 4 things!
1. We always have reading month during the month of March, and this year's theme is Where the Wild Things Are. I love that little book!

We always have a door decoration contest, so I was trying to think of the best way to decorate my door. My favorite saying from the book is "I'll eat you up, I love you so", and I thought it would be cute to do something related to that. Here's what I finally came up with:

And I surprised myself with my artistic talent. I hand-drew this big guy. It took me a LONG time though!

Then I decided it would be cute to do tally marks for the books read "eaten" in my class.

Since I'm mostly push-in, we are shooting for 100 books (already at 33) in 3 weeks. If the school as a whole reads 40,000 books in 3 weeks, each grade will have a "wild rumpus". I'm not exactly sure what that will entail, but the kids are excited!

2. Since today was the last day before St. Patrick's Day, we did my Lucky Seven craft (how funny that I ended up having 7 kids complete it!). I thought they turned out pretty cute for the most part! Some of my kids are just going to throw something together no matter what, and I guess I just have to accept that.

You can get that craft at my TN or TPT store for $3 if you still want to do some St. Patty's Day activities next Monday. Don't forget to join my Lucky Seven linky as well. I'm up to 5 link-ups and hope some more of you will join in!

3. Today, I decided I needed to go ahead and put together my Easter craft. I went really simple, but it's what I wanted to do for this one. Click the picture or links below to pick this up for FREE!


4. I am trying to finish up my Spring Literacy Centers. The clip art has been changed out (I used Krista's Creative Clips this time and LOVE her stuff!), but I still need to work on changing everything from St. Patty's Day theme to spring in general. Keep an eye out for it soon, though! I'm hoping to have it finished by next week.

5. This is my 100th post! I can't believe that I've had 100 hopefully useful things to say since I started this blog back in August. I feel like I'm growing so much as a blogger, TPT seller, and, most importantly, a teacher. You guys help with that so much!

Is anyone doing anything fun for St. Patty's Day this weekend? Steven and I had talked about doing a little party at our house, but we just haven't gotten anything together. Maybe we'll work something out and have a few people over, but he has grad school work to do (6 more weeks!) and never has free time. We'll see. Hopefully we can at least do something!