Friday, January 31, 2014

Currently...I'm Feeling the Love!

Wow! January has flown by! With all of the crazy shortened weeks we've had due to the weather, I can't believe the first month of the year is already over! I'm so excited (as always) to link up with Farley for her Currently party.  I look forward to this each month, checking out new blogs, and catching up with some of my faves.  I adore Farley, I view her as a big sister/teaching mentor that I've never even met.  Is it creepy or cool when you feel like you know so much about someone you've encountered through blogging??? I'm going to hope (fingers crossed) it's not terribly creepy...please, pretty, please!

Listening: I've got the hum of my space heater and the torso of my black lab to keep me warm on these chilly winter nights here in Chicago!  Funny how you don't seem to mind all of the snow when you're cooped up inside with your  jammies on! 

Loving: Maybe I should be ashamed to admit this...but I'm loving all of the shortened weeks we had in January! Folks, I had not ONE full 5 day week! Crazy! Between MLK Day, a teacher half-day inservice, and FOUR snow days January just seemed to fly by! 

Thinking: I really need to purge some items I've been hanging that's never worn, odd bits and bots that I swore I would find a reason to use and still haven't, I just need it all to go and function in a cleaner space.  Maybe my spring cleaning will bring on some spring never know!

Wanting: A new hairstyle.  4 years ago I sported a super adorable angled bob hairdo, which I LOVED.  However, as time went on my hairdresser and I got a little over zealous with the angle, it had become extreme.  I'm talking like...hey Kate, where's Jon and the 8 extreme.  Since then I've been growing it out and keeping it around shoulder length....but I'm starting to get the haircut itch again. The one that won't be satisfied until I see a lot of dead ends cut loose on the floor.

Needing: I really, really need to change my bulletin board.  It's old.  I haven't updated it since sometime in November.  Shhh! The kids still haven't asked why I've been slacking on that detail!  Let me just tell you about the bulletin board outside my room. It's HORRIBLE! Horrible I tell you.   The 'board', if you can even call it that, is above my third grader's hooks and stretches all the way up to the ceiling in the hallway. Ick.  Plus, it's not even a regular board, there are two strips that you can kinda sorta put staples into and the rest is dry wall..or something..I have no idea.  So, in order for me to hang things up, it requires me to get a ladder from the custodial closet, by trusty one-touch stapler from Staples, clothes appropriate for ladder climbing, Hulk-like strength, and the grace of God.

2 Truths and a Fib: 
1. I've worked with kids from grades Pre-K-5th. TRUE. Since graduating in 09 I've had experience teaching/assisting students at each of those grade levels.  My favorites are always the little ones!

2. I'm obsessed with ketchup and fries. FALSE. Ketchup=gross! I can't stomach the smell, I really do get sick to my stomach when I sit next to someone who slathers ketchup on everything. I prefer to dip my fries into pure honey, I like a little sweet & a little salty.

3. I'm related to a professional opera performer.  TRUE. My younger sister ( I can't call her little, because she's about 7 inches taller than me) is graduating this year with her degree in opera performance and has already performed professionally! I'm so excited for her and can't wait to see where her voice will take her next! I'm hoping her voice will take her (and me) to Italy perhaps. 

Thank you for reading and for the love-filled comments! I'm off to check out some other Currently posts!

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Five for Friday January Wrap-Up

January is wrapping up, so I thought this would be the last perfect opportunity to share some of the things going on with me and my classroom.  Since I'm ALWAYS late to the 5 for Friday party, I decided this week, I'll arrive early!

Here in Chicagoland we are on our fourth Snow/Cold Day! This really is unheard of for our area, I think I could count on one hand how many snow days I had as a kid growing up in the suburbs of Chicago.  It truly has been bitterly cold and not safe for little ones to be out and about, especially when some of them need to ride on a bus for 40 minutes to get to and from school.  
On the plus side, this gave me a lot of time to work on some projects (I can't wait for Monday Made-It) and I even finished up my valentines! You can check those out HERE

A friend of mine got me a totally awesome Christmas gift! A three-month subscription to 
Beauty Box 5, here is a little peak into the goodies I got in January.  The theme was relaxation and renewal and included a pair of exfoliation gloves, body moisturizer, compact mirror, cuticle massage oil, and some yummy coconut lip balm! I can't wait for the next package to arrive!

Wine +Whitey's Ice-Cream + (quite possibly the best in the mid-west) mustaches = awesome girly weekend in rural Illinois with some college friends!

My third graders love to read about Martin Luther King Jr. and enjoyed coming up with adjectives and admirable qualities about him.

The Thirdsters have been loving playing this Area Array game with graphing paper and dice.  Each student takes a turn rolling two dice and draws an array matching the product with their designated color.  When the sheet is filled, the student with the most unit squares colored wins!

I'm adding on a bonus number six...just because...well...I have one more thing I want to share!

Last week my class did a small novel study on Judy Blume's Freckle Juice.  At the end of the week we created these secret recipes for freckle juice, where I had my students using unit fractions to make up 
1 cup.  We then added freckles onto our faces by using my dot markers.  Reading/Writing/Math connection?? I'm sold!

I can't wait to see what February will bring! Hopefully a full 5 day week!

Sweet Treats for Valentine's Day

Valentine's Day is quickly approaching and I'm happy to say that this weekend I had a chance to make some sweet little valentines for my little love bugs and co-workers.  My school has a non-edible treat policy, meaning that neither students or teachers can bring in edible confections to share with the class for birthdays or other celebrations.  The rule is especially helpful for me with my current class; I have two students with Type 1 Diabetes as well as other students with some serious peanut, gluten, and soy allergies.  This means I have to get a little creative with my gifts or incentives for my class and I hit the Pinterest boards!  Although I miss making Oreo phases of the moon and graphing with Skittles, I am much happier and much less stressed knowing that the students in my classroom are healthy and can be included in every activity.  That is of course part of a teacher's job, right!?

So, here are some simple and cute treats I'll be giving my valentines this year and I've even got a little treat for you! :)

Here is a sample of the valentines I'll be giving to my class in a few weeks. The mustache is a self-adhesive mustache that my students can wear.  I've just attached with to the paper valentine with a small piece of tape on the back.

I'm so happy with how these hand sanitizers turned out! I made one for each of the classroom teachers on my team and can't wait to pass them out next Monday.  I covered the entire tag with clear packaging tape, so that the ink wouldn't bleed if sanitizer dripped onto it.  Then I just tied on a few ribbons and voila!

Here is another cute idea for a valentine for a co-worker.  Last year I gave my team these coffee drinks, a festive paper straw, and a tag that read, "I like working with you a latte!" 

So, here is a little treat for you! Visit my TPT store HERE and download your own set of Valentine tags for free and spread the love! 


Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Classroom Jobs: Encouraging Everyone to Lend a Hand

One of the many things that I love about elementary school aged children is their desire to help! Seriously, I don't think I could make it through the week without my wee little one's helping around the classroom! 

Here is a snap shot of our job board, complete with our theme matching cupcakes and little cake pedestals! Eek! Love it!

Above each pedestal is a stikki clip (or two) that allow me to swap out my student names weekly without much hassle.  

Here are the jobs I use in my classroom from left to right: 
Lunch Boxes: these two students carry our bin of lunch boxes to and from the lunchroom
Line Leaders: pretty obvious what they do
Messenger: delivers our hot lunch order to the lunch ladies and carries any other messages for the teacher
Tech Team: responsible for charging up the iPads before we go home
Library Books: carry our return and renew bins to the library
Mailboxes: in charge of managing student mailboxes for the week
Paper Passers: again, pretty obvious
Librarian: keeps our classroom library neat and tidy
Custodian: checks student desks at the end of the day for cleanliness.  Students can earn a 'Smart Cookie' for having a clean desk and a second one for having a clean floor underneath their group on their check-in day
Morning Helpers: pass out 'Smart Cookies' for the previous day's clip-chart, puts all of the clips on green for the beginning of the day, pass out morning work

I also have a Table Manager at each of my five groups.  These students help to pass out supplies from our caddies/baskets and collect papers for the group.  

Here are two sweet little morning helpers working together to pass out morning work and 'Smart Cookies'.  I honestly don't know what I'd do without this classroom job!

If you want to read more about my Smart Cookies you can find it HERE

Here is the Tech Team hard at work charging up our iPads for another day!

My students love helping out and believe me, I GREATLY appreciate it.  Classroom jobs also help to strengthen our classroom community and help children to learn how to respect the classroom.  I'm happy to say that my students this year really take pride in having a neat and orderly room.

What kind of classroom jobs can you not imagine living without?

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Teacher Sanctuary

In the spirit of the new year and starting out fresh, I thought I'd share how I keep my teacher area organized.  Last Wednesday was our first day back from our extended winter break, we had two snow days that Monday and Tuesday.  So, being the worry-wart that I am, I was slightly panicked on Wednesday while getting to school.  My mind was racing as to all of the items I needed to update from Monday to Wednesday my schedule, calendar, etc. ....otherwise he world would end of course!

Much to my surprise, when I arrived at school my teacher area looked extra organized and ready to go! I had forgotten that I had moved somethings around for efficiency before I left for break.  Wasn't that so cute of cool, calm, collected me helped freaked stressed-out me!?

Here is my teacher area...before this week's craziness got to it!

This year I was able to remove the huge black metal desk out of the room and moved my small group table up front.  I LOVE the results!

Next to my small group table I have a trapezoid shaped table which gives me storage on top as well as underneath for some easy to reach supplies. 

I love my bright and happy teacher workspace!

Gotta love my teacher tool box that allows everything I need to be at my fingertips.

The bulletin board behind my workspace I use as a focus wall for our reading instruction for the week. It's an easy spot for students to reference during whole & small group instruction at my table.  I have posters I use to identify the literacy skill, genre, vocabulary, reading strategy, figurative language, or text feature we are focusing on for the week through our new reading series Wonders. 

Copy, Grade, File drawers help keep my area extra tidy and hide any loose papers.  The caddy on top stores some fun tools for guided reading.  Can you spot the quietest pencil sharpener in the world?? I'm in love with it! 

Here are my daily bins I stock for the week, these help me prep and work ahead of time.  I purchased my bins from Lakeshore and the adorable tags are made by Maria from KinderCraze!

Underneath my wall of windows I have some built in shelving.  It's soooo helpful...but they're soooo ugly.  Oh well!  Here you can see my adoration for three drawer systems that I use to store all sorts of things! 

The pink three tier system on top of the counter are used to stack the items for the day's lessons, while the pink basket is used for lunch count.

Last up are my colorful binders, which store my files of activities and lessons.

I love my area and keep adjusting to see what works best for me! 
What does your teacher area look like?

Friday, January 10, 2014

Confessions of a Bag Lady

Being the daughter and granddaughter of two teachers I grew up accustomed to seeing these two lovely ladies sporting the bag lady look.  Don't get me wrong, my mother and grandma are two beautiful women, inside and out, but they'd arrive home weighed down by bags of picture books, papers needed to be graded, lesson plans, beautiful pieces of personalized artwork made by 4-year-olds, remnants of a half-eaten lunch....sound familiar?  Earlier this year, I realized that I too had become a bag lady.  Can we say, yikes!?!?

So, with a fresh new year starting, I figured it was time to clean up my act.  I decided to reorganize my teacher bag and am loving the results! 

First up is my Erin Condren teacher planner and my CCSS flip book.  These both go with me EVERYWHERE! I love how my planner includes my assignment log for students, monthly calendars, and has left space for me to personalize it with lists and log-ins for my class.  The flip book was given to me by my district to use and I love it! All of the standards, vocab, lesson and literature suggestions are all at my fingertips. Winning!

I'm so fortunate to work for a district that invests in technology AND supports teacher use.  On the bottom of this pile is the district iPad in my precious Vera Bradley case.  I seriously cannot get enough of the Folkloric print! The black camera bag also holds the district's camera.  Can you spot my old lady reading glasses? These eyes ain't what they used to be. Sigh.

I also have a serious addiction to buying adorable looking journals and notebooks.  Both of these came from Target and hold my many to do lists and brainstorming ideas.  I love how this one is a collection of different sized note paper.

I was tired of the papers I was grading at home or reading getting wrinkled or bent inside of my bag.  So, I now use this large plastic pocket envelope to store any papers going home with me for the evening.  Inside of the envelope I also slipped a few sheets of some general stickers, should I need one while grading at home.

I was also tired of digging in the bottom of my bag for a paper clip or a pen...UGH! I dug out a small plastic box (it's actually a photo box from Michael's) to store a few pens, Sharpies, highlighters, paper & binder clips, sticky-notes, and a glue stick.  Have you seen Pip-Squeaks by Crayola?? These are new to me and I'm LOVING them! I'm a sucker for anything tiny or min-size! I loving having this mega color pack for grading, doodling, and creating.  These collections allow me to have an array of supplies without cluttering up my bag. looks so much better! 

Now, keep in mind, I still have a lunch bag, a computer bag, and my purse.  I guess I'm still a bag lady after all, at least I'm a less haggard looking one than before!

What kinds of things do you store in your teacher bag?

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

I'm Currently Late for January!

Well...this is just plain embarrassing.  I took a break from blogging and all things school related, but I just don't feel right starting the month without Farley's Currently.  That's right, that's how much of a hold that amazing super teacher has over me!  So, although I'm embarrassingly late to the party, I'm linking up anyways.  I'll proudly be the caboose the to Currently Express. Lord knows I've got the dupa for it!

Listening: It's my second snow day at home and there is a PLL marathon on...WINNING!!

Loving: Sleeping in on a snow day :) I did wake up at my regular work time, showered, dressed, and then promptly went back to bed.  You know, just practicing getting back into the routine.

Thinking: I SHOULD be productive..and I have...a little bit. However, Bravo TV and Pinterest really are the ones to blame here.  Upon finding out about my second snow day, I celebrated with making some Snow Ice-Cream! I found the recipe HERE.  Two of my other teaching friends joined in the fun and made Snow Ice-Cream at their homes too! My dear friend Emily posted about her's HERE

My friend Leannie Bananie sent me her ice-cream on the left, she added chocolate chips! Ooo la la! 

Wanting: I really do wish we were starting back on a Monday. I'm weird like that..I just cannot get into my groove on a Wednesday. *Insert pouty face here*

Needing: Disaster has struck Uggs are in need of repair! It's terrible! A small hole has formed on the stitching by the toe...eeeek! I supposed they're eight winters old, but still!

Memory or Tradition: Baking cookies with my family, specifically kolacky.  They're a family favorite. In middle school I attended my Gram's 2 Day Kolacky boot camp to learn the recipe and techniques.  I wish I was kidding, but my gramps and dad were SUPER intense about it. 

Stay warm, stay sane, and happy new year!!!!

Monday, January 6, 2014

First Monday Made It of 2014!

Is this really this real life??? It's Monday and I SHOULD be back at school, but am instead chillaxing in my sweats, watching The View, and catching up on reading many blog posts.  Yes, my friend, this short and sassy teacher has a SNOW DAY!!!

Well, really it's a Cold Day, it's FUH-REEEEEZ-ING here in Chicago area.  Being in the suburbs of Chicago, with nicely paved roads getting a snow day is pretty rare.  Let me tell you, Snow Days as an adult are even better than when I was a kid. :)

This break took a break from technology and a break from was WONDERFUL. I needed some Me Time, as well as quality time with loved ones, you know?

Anyways, with this unexpected day at home, I'm actually able to link up with sweet Tara for her Monday Made It.  I was pretty excellent at linking up with her during the summer...but this school year has been down right shameful.

You may or may not have noticed that I adore crafting and making new things.  Friends have encouraged me to get a booth at a craft show and this year I've decided to do it! I've been busy making these amazing elastic ribbon hair ties and headbands.  Have you seen these? I love how gentle they are on my fine hair, no tearing, and they don't leave the dreaded pony tail dent.

I've also been picking up things to decorate my booth...because of course it HAS to look cute!
I updated this old mini chalkboard with some paint and burlap daisies!

Can you tell I've got a thing about burlap, kraft paper, and polka-dots right now???

I'm off to fill up my cup of tea again and check out all of the other Monday Made It's! 
Thanks for reading and happy new year bug-a-boos!