Friday, May 31, 2013

Five for Friday

It's time to link up again for the last day of May! Tomorrow begins my birthday month, anniversary month, the end of school, AND later in the month vacation! But first, let's focus on what has been going on this past week.

Today was basically the last day of testing (two more classes for math). Praise God!! I haven't had much of anything else going on at school the past two weeks because I have either been sitting outside of testing sessions helping monitor bathrooms/offer help when needed OR I was testing a small group/individual. Of course, I could have spent my time more wisely when I was outside of the testing sessions, but I did catch up on reading blogs!

I did, however, take a little bit of time to start working on my summer literacy centers. I still have a LOT of work to do, but I'm hoping to get them finished by the end of next week. Maybe teachers who are in school as long as I am can use them for the last week. Or maybe they'd be perfect for summer school. OR for those of you who are already out and will be back to school in August, you can use them then! Here's a sneak peak. I'm using Krista's clipart again. I just love it!

We were actually able to get little man back from the beach, although I think he's going through Pawpaw withdrawals. I can't blame him after spending an entire week having a blast there and then coming back home where there's no pool or beach. At least we'll be able to make plenty of day trips since Steven and I will both be home all summer.

 Since Monday was Memorial Day and we had it off, we went to a cookout with some friends. The kids had a blast, and Keagan was no exception.

This weekend, we're going to the wedding of a very good friend. Sarah Jo was my college roommate, but she is also the reason that Steven and I even met. They were high school show choir partners here in Virginia, and he actually had a little bit of a crush on her (which is the reason he made a trip to GA in the first place, but that's another story for another day - maybe on our anniversary!). Anyway, being that we were roomies for 3 years, there are a lot of inside jokes. One big joke had to do with going camping on your honeymoon. Well, guess where's she's going for her honeymoon? Bonnaroo - in a tent! We decided we HAD to do something as a joke for her. So I used my creating powers and whipped up some fun little "fortune cookie" quotes. Then I added "in a tent" to the end of each of them. Here's a preview (and I'm assuming she doesn't read this blog, but I guess I am taking a chance).

Next week, I should have at least a few pictures because we'll be back to doing something (although I'm done pulling groups for the year). It's time to do more running records, and then we have Field Day Thursday and Friday. Do you split field day between upper and lower grades? 

Monday, May 27, 2013

Must Read Mentor Texts - Blood on the River

Yay! I'm finally linking up with Amanda and Stacia!

I love this link up idea, but so many times I don't feel like I can really participate since I only teach reading now. However, I realized I use a TON of Social Studies texts when I read with my kids (they're probably some of my favorite books), so I decided to go ahead and join in at least for those. I still don't have many math or science, but I can participate when I feel it works for me!

One of my favorite Social Studies texts to use when I was teaching fourth grade was a book called Blood on the River. 

Sounds gross, right? But I've already hooked my boys from the beginning! See, in Virginia we teach VA History in 4th and/or 5th grade. Blood on the River is a mostly factual book about the Jamestown settlement, which is a HUGE part of VA history. It is told from the point of view of John Smith's 12-year-old apprentice. Warning (and you may have already guessed this): this book is NOT for the faint of heart. It doesn't wrap things up in a nice little box. It's VERY up front and honest from describing the slop buckets they used on the ships to discussing how some settlers dug up dead bodies during the starving time (although that's only mentioned in the epilogue). But I love it because it paints a real picture of how things were when the settlers came to Jamestown. It wasn't all pretty and easy, and the book really stuck with my kids every year! I even recommend the read for yourself if you just want to learn more about Jamestown. It's fascinating!

I struggled to choose a word, but the reason I chose control is because Samuel (the boy) had to learn to control his temper, much like John Smith. Also, there's a constant battle over control within the settlement (gentlemen vs. John Smith) and the land (Chief Powhatan vs. English). You literally won't be able to put the book down!

Now, have a fantastic Memorial Day! I can't wait to pig out and have fun with friends later this evening. Then we only have 14 more days of school left until summer break is officially here!

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Testing, testing...

I feel like I've been pretty MIA for the most part, but there hasn't been much to say. We're most of the way through testing, but there's one more week to go. Reading SOLs are over, and I'm nervous about the outcomes. They definitely increased the rigor this year! I'm just hoping our school did enough to not be under review. I hate to think of it that way, but I know our math dropped significantly last year after they increased the rigor, and it's just scary! I know most of my kiddos did their best, though, and that's all I can ask.

After this week's testing (math), I will start helping with final running records for the year. I love being able to see how far my kids have progressed! Of course, I've been doing them throughout the year for mine since they were already behind. But I haven't done many since March, so it will be nice to see where they end up.

Also, if you haven't already gone to TN and donated a minimum of $20 to help Moore, OK, I HIGHLY recommend it! I donated this morning, and there are over 500 products that came with the bundle! You have until May 28 to participate. And don't forget: 100% of the proceeds go toward helping Moore, OK. The products you are receiving have been donated by over 300 different sellers. It may take me all summer to go through the amazing items! Good thing I don't have to download and sort through every single one that way. My computer wouldn't have enough storage!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

I'm Helping

Guys, I have been struggling with this whole Moore, Oklahoma story. I mean, anytime I hear about how a tornado (or any disaster) destroys an area, it touches me. But this one has gotten to me more than any other. When I heard about the school and those children, I just cried. And it didn't help that my little man is away from me at the beach all week. So I couldn't hold him tight like I wanted (and like I did after Sandy Hook).

I chose to donate a product along with MANY other sellers on TN. There's already almost $1500 worth of products that have been donated. If you donate, you will receive my Magic Tree House - Twister on Tuesday pack (along with a ton of other great stuff). I debated whether it would be appropriate to donate this, but I know that I would want to make my students more aware of tornadoes because you know that's what is on their minds right now. I hope you will donate!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Giveaway updates during testing

We're more than halfway through the week, and testing started today. That means I am sitting in the center area helping make sure only one person is in the bathroom at a time. Fun stuff! At least I have a computer to keep me entertained. Anyway, as I was catching up on blogs, I ran across this great giveaway! We're on day four. Go check them out!

Kristin is also having her 400 follower giveaway! Lots of great bloggers are giving away winner's choice from their store.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Tried it Tuesday - Question Strategy

This is my last week of "teaching", so I'm hoping it will be easier to blog starting very soon. However, I don't know what I will blog about because it will be testing, testing, testing for the next three weeks. Then we'll be doing running records and packing up the class.

Anyway, I wanted to participate in Holly's Tried it Tuesday, and I figured a testing strategy would be the perfect "tried-it" to link up with.


Most of us use strategies like "Slash the Trash", "Plug it in", "Prove/Highlight your Answers", "Stop and Jot", etc., but I have a different one you may not do that I want to share today. I don't know about you, but we always have a few questions that look something like this:

Which question is answered in paragraph 3?
  • Why do chickens lay eggs?
  • Is it safe for a chicken to cross the road?
  • Why do we care about a chicken crossing a road?
  • What does this have to do with chickens?
The question should be an easy one to get right, but they are always difficult for my students because it takes so much effort. I use what I have started calling the "question strategy" as a sure-fire way to get these questions right every time. It's simple, really. Students have to go back to paragraph 3 (or whatever) and physically write "no" beside the question if they can't find it in that paragraph OR write the answer to the question beside the correct one. They should only have 1 answer. This also works for the opposites (Which question is NOT answered in paragraph 3?), but they should have 3 answers and one "no". Sometimes the kids get annoyed with me for making them do it, but they always get it right if they follow my advice!

I hope this helps some of you, although I know most of you are already through with testing. Those who are like me and are just beginning, good luck! We start Thursday. Eek!

Monday, May 13, 2013

Giveaway update

Just wanted to check in and let you know about a great little giveaway going on right now. Erin is celebrating 175 followers (lets raise that number even higher) with 3 giveaways. You can enter by grade level to win more grade-specific prizes. I've already entered!

Friday, May 10, 2013

Five for Friday

So glad that Friday is here again. Only 5 more left before school is out for summer! I'm linking up with Kacey at Doodlebugs Teaching again for her Five for Friday. Enjoy all the pictures this week (I'm so proud at how on top of things I was) because we start testing next Thursday, and that will be the end of picture-taking at school for a while.

I also decided to make these precious little numbers for my post using Kevin and Amanda fonts. Feel free to borrow them if you like!

I was loving some Teacher Appreciation! I posted some pictures from earlier in the week. This was a sweet little Pinterest-inspired gift from one of my students (the one who brought a little treat Monday and Tuesday). I LOVE it! And once again, they were sweet enough to make one for my para as well.

I participated in the TPT sale and was thrilled to buy a few items from my wishlist. Can you tell that summer's on my mind? Click on the pictures to view the items. I'm in love with all of them and can't wait to use the clipart in some fun products! And I'm linking up with Blog Hoppin' to share what I bought:

I bought these to send home with my students for the summer. Thinking of cutting them up and putting them in baggies to take home. I may even be nice enough to print them on card stock!

Click on the linky button to see what others bought. I would love to browse and see some of my products!

I got my book order from Amazon when I went to the office on Wednesday! I wanted to buy some great read-alouds that I could use for teaching specific skills. I used Linda Hoyt's Guide to Interactive Read-Alouds to choose some books (and then I picked a few others that I was always searching for/using this year). Since we had $100, I had to choose carefully (plus I needed tape), but I managed to buy 12 books!

Recognize any favorites?

Since 5th grade went on a field trip Tuesday and we had a "wild rumpus" to celebrate reaching our goal for reading month on Thursday, I had time to work on my door. I thought about making it related to testing, but I stop pulling kids next Thursday, and none of the older kids walk by my door (I'm on the kindergarten/1st grade wing - don't ask why). So I decided to make it a cute countdown to the end of the year. Yesterday was 25 days. We're now at 24. So excited to be at a countdown number!

This little man has been quite the ham recently! 

Mommy taught him to stick out his tongue - yes, I'm a bad mommy!

Yesterday we learned that he's starting "pushing epidemics" at the sitter's. Not to be mean, just rough-housing like little boys do. Once he pushes someone, the other kids start pushing as well. So we were asked to work with him on that. Oops!

Photo: Cool dude

This morning, he discovered his sunglasses we bought last summer. I had to snap a picture - not the best lighting, but I thought it was cute!

How was your week?

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Feeling Appreciated, sales, and a giveaway

I hope you're all enjoying Teacher Appreciation Day as much as I am! I have to admit that I was a little worried about being forgotten now that I don't have my own class. Not the case at all! I actually have one student who has brought myself and my aide a little something every day. Such a sweetie!

This morning, our PTO provided breakfast, which was delicious! Tomorrow, they're doing a baked potato bar for lunch. It's always nice when I don't have to pack a sandwich.

When I went up to the office at lunch today, I had these cute little flowers waiting for me. One of my parents sent them to the classroom teacher and me. 

When I got home, Steven and I went to our local Chick-fil-a for dinner since they were giving free chicken sandwiches with a Teacher ID. Since we're both teachers now (he teaches Criminal Justice in the building next to mine), it was a perfect deal! Plus we were able to let Keagan play in the play area, which he loved. He waved and laughed at all the bigger kids as they ran around screaming.

Aren't those curls just the best?

In all of this appreciation, I want to remind you that TN and TPT are having sales right now (TPT through tomorrow and TN through Friday). Be sure to stop by and empty your cart! I've been browsing during my free time and trying to decide exactly what I want. I may be spending a little more than I planned on!

I finished my literacy centers yesterday and posted them first thing this morning. They're in both shops for $4.80 while the sales are going on (actually a little cheaper on TPT with the 10% discount if you enter TAD13 at checkout). After the sales are up, they go back to $6, so get it now while you can! These would be great for end of the year review! I even added some context clues to this packet.


Also my sweet bloggy friend, Holly, is hosting her 500 follower giveaway! There will be 4 winners, and there are tons of great prizes. I'm offering winner's choice of any item from my store. Go check it out! (And link up with her for Tried-it Tuesday - there's always so many great ideas.)

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Everybody loves a sale!

Good news! My voice came back, and I was able to sing this morning without issues! That also means I can go back to work tomorrow and get my last week and a half of test prep in. We start testing May 16 and go through May 31 (all tests in VA are online with our new Technology Enhanced Items - do your states have these?), so this is basically the end for me. Once testing starts, I will be helping with that. Then after testing, we start end of the year running records. So my groups are almost done for the year. Seems crazy to think it's that close to being over!

Just wanted to quickly share about the sales going on this week for Teacher's Appreciation Week. The TN sale started yesterday and runs through Friday. Some stores are up to 55% off!

Then TPT is having a sale Tuesday and Wednesday! Be sure to enter the code TAD13 at checkout to get an extra 10% off, and most stores are adding 20% off all of their items. Go check out Mrs. Leeby's blog to see other stores participating, then start filling up that cart! I know I'm planning on buying a few items!

Plus, isn't this button just adorable?

What kind of deals are you hoping to snag?

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Two Quick Blogger Tutorials and SALES!!!

As I've mentioned before, my real life best friend started her own blog a little while ago.

Teacher at the Wheel

 Amanda teaches 1st grade in Macon, GA, although she is looking for a job in the Atlanta area for next year when she moves, so please go check her out and help her reach 100 followers!

Anyway, the real reason for this post is to help her with two recent questions that I think a lot of you might be interested in as well. I figured it was easier to just do a quick tutorial. Then you can check back to this post if you need it later.

Question #1: How do I add a link to my blog when I comment on other people's blogs?

You have to create a code for your link, which is actually quite simple! Mine looks like this:

<a href="">Don't Let the Teacher Stay Up Late</a>

To create your own, change out the red with your own information. Replace my blog url with your own, and then replace my name with your blog/website's name (or whatever you want the link to say - this is also how you can link to your TPT store).

Simple, right? The only problem I've run into is that you have to save this code somewhere on your computer and pull it up every time you go to comment. I save mine as a blog post that I never publish. Then I can pull it up wherever I am.

Question #2: How do I stop being a no-reply blogger?

This is a BIGGIE, and you may not even know you're a no-reply blogger. Quick way to be sure: Do you ever get emails back when you comment on someone else's blog? I get all of my comments sent to my email (as do many others), and I try to ALWAYS respond via email, but sometimes I don't even notice it's not getting to you because the email just says and goes back to who-knows-where.

Step 1: Sign into your Blogger Dashboard and look into the very top right-hand corner with your name. Click on the little arrow to go to your Blogger Profile.

Step 2: In the right-hand, there should be an orange box that says "Edit Profile". Click on it.

Step 3: Under privacy settings at the top, the second box should be "Show my email address". Make sure it is checked.

Step 4: Then look a little further down under "Identity" where it says "Email Address". Make sure you have an email address entered here.

If Steps 3 AND 4 are not completed, you are a no-reply blogger. 

That's fine if you want to be, but you will miss out on a lot of comments, and it makes us (or at least me) sad when I can't contact the person who commented on my blog. Go check your blog now to make sure you're not a no-reply blogger. I know I have a few who comment on here!

I hope you're still reading because the exciting news hasn't come yet. Teacher's Notebook AND Teachers Pay Teachers are having sales for Teacher Appreciation Week, and I'm participating (along with a LOT of other bloggers)!

The TN sale started today and runs until Friday, May 10. Everything in my store is 28% (20% from me plus the 10% that TN is giving everyone). Go check it out! I know a few already have!


Also be sure to click the link in my sidebar all week to enter the daily giveaway for a $100 gift card to Oriental Trading.

Then TPT is also having a sale soon. Keep your eyes peeled for it, and start filling up those carts!

Friday, May 3, 2013

Currently and Five for Friday

Can you believe May is already here? I'm in shock! We don't get out until mid-June, but May still symbolizes the end of the year because this is testing month. We actually only have one more full week of instruction before SOLs begin May 16. Once SOLs begin, I don't pull kids anymore. Craziness!

Anyway, with the beginning of the month comes Farley's Currently (which you know I have to join). Plus, it's Friday, so I'm going to do my Five for Friday with Doodle Bugs Teaching. Hey, I'm home for the day, so I've got time for this!

I'm pretty sure I can explain everything in my Five for Friday, so it will be mixed in there. I'm going to do this a little backwards this week.


1. I've been fighting a sinus infection since last Friday, but I'm stubborn and had put off going to the doctor. Then I started to lose my voice on Wednesday. By yesterday, I could barely speak over a whisper, so I left at lunch and went to the doctor. Last night was so miserable that my hubby actually slept in the guest room (sorry, sweetie!). Today, I started the steroids and am hoping everything's back to normal by Sunday. Why Sunday? I sing with our church's praise team occasionally. A few months ago, one of my friends asked me to fill in this Sunday because the lead for their group was going to be out. I was happy to agree to it. Well, I went to practice on Wednesday to make sure I knew what was going on in hopes that my voice was back. We'll see though. There are other singers, but they kind of need me to help lead some of the songs. Prayers that it comes back quickly!

2. Some of you know I've been doing Insanity. It's a 60 day challenge, and next Saturday is supposed to be the end. However, I haven't been able to keep up with it this week because I can barely breathe. I tried last Sunday on the "easy" day and had to pause the video. So I've missed 3 workouts this week. It's frustrating to be this close to the end and have to stop. Maybe I can work my way through it today, but I probably shouldn't. Grrr....

3. I did some TPT work this week! First, I updated my Candy Awards and am so proud of the new look!


Then I worked on my camping themed literacy centers some more, but I will have to finish them next week. I come up with all of the sentences, and that takes a LOT of time. So far, I have 2 1/2 of the 8 centers completed. I start with the hardest and work my way down, so Main Idea, Cause and Effect, and Fact and Opinion are almost done. I'm changing Drawing Conclusions to context clues this time, and then I'll have Synonyms, Antonyms, Guide Words, and S'more Suffixes.

4. I participated in my first #teachertalktuesday linky on instagram this week! This is the main idea center from my Spring Literacy Centers. I always have four main ideas and three details to match. Students have to sort them. I did this with one of the third grade classes that I push into, and they loved it! We did the black and white version (I have a color option I laminate for centers), and the kids enjoyed coloring in the pictures after they glued.

5. Last weekend, we spent most of Saturday sorting tons of bags and things for our yard sale we're doing tomorrow. We head to Steven's parents for it because they live in a bigger neighborhood that does a community yard sale in the spring and fall. We'll be pricing and all that fun stuff tonight. If you live in the Richmond area, come out to Summer Walk Parkway in Mechanicsville and check out our stuff!

Now I'm going to attempt to get off the couch and do a little bit of cleaning. Our house desperately needs vacuuming, and laundry has piled up again. I feel like I just finished laundry...