Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Blogging Hiatus

You might have noticed I haven't blogged in awhile. A long while. Well, it's not that I don't want to, I just have more important things on my plate right now. Concerning this little guy:

3 days old!

2 weeks old!

Liam David arrived on August 13 at 12:44 am! We went in for me to be induced on the 11th, but apparently he had other plans in mind... He has kept his mommy and daddy (but especially mommy!) extremely busy and I honestly try my hardest not to give school a second thought (which is actually pretty easy, haha). I absolutely can't imagine my life before my little man was in it... it's amazing how everything just kind of slides into place and clicks. :) I was definitley born to be a mommy!!

I'm taking 12 weeks of maternity leave, my first week started during teacher training week... so I won't be entering the classroom again until the first full week in November! I'll do my best to keep everyone posted! :)

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Top 10 Things to Know About Me Linky Party!

There's a super fun linky party going on at Go 4th! with Mrs. Owens! All you have to do is link up and tell us 10 things we should know about YOU! She also has a really cute freebie for you to download. :) Head on over and link up!

My Top 10 Things:
1. I absolutely love to read. I was totally that kid that tried to get away with reading in my desk while the teacher was teaching (even into high school)!!

2. I love Mexican food!!! Sometimes I wonder if our little monkey is going to come out with salsa and guacamole I eat it so much... haha!!

3. I've been hooked on Blue Bell ice cream since I was 6 months old... My grandfather fed it to me and I pretty much won't eat any other kind of ice cream (except for Marble Slab or Coldstone, but it's still not the same) and I'm pretty sure my son is going to be the same way. Haha!

4. I've always wanted to write a book! I still work on it now and then.

5. I love Harry Potter and Disney World. We've been trying to plan a trip for my big 3-0 (next June!) to go to Disney AND Universal Studios... yes, I want to spend my big 3-0 at Hogwarts and with Cinderella. I totally own my dorkiness!!

6. I really want to start my masters degree in reading... if I were able to take this next year off with our son, I'd totally go back to school and work with small groups of kids in my spare time. :)
7. I absolutely love reality TV... I think I'm getting to where I watch more of that than regular TV! Haha... oops! :)

8. I love history! If I weren't teaching elementary school, I'd totally teach college history. I can sit and watch the history channel and read history books for fun... my husband looks at me like I'm completely crazy!!

9. I have 3 dogs that I absolutely love like they're my children. I have a mini-beagle named Adriane, and two yellow labs named Max and Daisy Duke. It cracks me up how clingy and protective they are with me being pregnant. I can't wait to see how they do with Liam!!

10. I am not a morning person, and neither is my husband. Having an infant here in 5 weeks or less (I'm 35 weeks today!!) will sure be interesting!!!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

TpT Pointers for a Newbie? :)

OK, so I think I'm going to jump in with both feet (that's the best way to do it, right??) and start posting on Teachers Pay Teachers. I'm going to be creating a lot the new few weeks as I'm getting ready for my maternity leave (as well as a tutoring venture I'm still contemplating). I hate to ask about clipart, but I'm such a rule-follower that I tend to freak out at the idea of getting into trouble (usually because I'm the one to get caught...) so I don't want to create and try to post/re-sell things I'm not supposed to.

Are there certain clip-arts that I can/can't use?? I feel sure that I read someone that you need to purchase a resellers license for ThistleGirl Designs... but I don't know about any of the rest of them out there. Does anyone know about DJ Inkers, Lettering Delights, or Scrappin' Doodles?

Does anyone have any pointers on how to start this fun venture off? I love some of the previews I see, but I'm not 100% how to do those either... screen shots in word made to a PDF? (See, I'm just guessing here...)

I'd love any advice/pointers you could send my way... and look forward to see lots and lots of posts with units about reading/writing/beginning of the year stuff soon!!!

Thanks y'all! I love how I can always to turn to this little blog family for help! :)

Reading Workshop

In the past, I've taught using a hodge podge of methods from Daily 5, CAFE, and Fountas & Pinnel's Guiding Reader's and Writers along with some other randomness I've picked up along the way. This next year will the first year that I've ever taught more than one class at a time, so I'm not sure exactly where to start... especially since I'll be out the first 12 weeks of school. I want to figure out a way to keep myself organized, especially with the double the load and less time getting to know my kids.

I've always done book boxes with my kids, however, I don't see having room in my new classroom for 40+ boxes for them... and I don't see spending money on book bags that can hang (vs be shoved inside their desk!) since I have a little one on the way and we are more than likely still going to be buying a house. As much as I love spending money on my kids and my room, it's low on my priority totem pole at the moment!!

Does anyone out there teach more than one class for ELAR? If you do, how does it work? My admin is on vacation right now, and on top of that fun our VP just became our prince and we are getting a new VP entirely. Talk about way too much change for this teacher!!! New school, new policies, new P and VP, new team... ahhhhhhh!!!!!

I'd love to get some suggestions on how to acclimate myself to a new way to teaching ELAR - I've always been self-contained so while I'm excited for the new opportunity and chance to focus on my favorite subjects... it also un-nerves me that I won't be there to test their reading levels and get to know my kids at the most crucial type of year. Thanks so much! Hope everyone had a happy 4th!!! :)

Friday, July 1, 2011

Grade Level Linky Party!

Head on over to The Teacher's Lane to link up for a grade level linky party! There are some really fantastic linky parties going on right now y'all!!!

Linky Party & Giveaway!

Head on over to Set This Circus Down to link up with the linky party and join in a pretty awesome giveaway! There are multiple chances to win the $25 gift card to Amazon, so click here to find out the deets. :)

I absolutely love her idea for a linky party as well! Find a new blog (100 followers or less preferably) and add it to the linky party. OR, if you have a new blog, you can link yourself as well! The goal is to spread the word about all of these awesome blogs floating around blogland!! There are so many, it's hard to keep up so it's really exciting to find a whole new collection on a new blog I'd never seen before!! Head on over to link up!! :)

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Why can't I comment?!?!?

Can someone PLEASE explain to me why it doesn't show that I'm signed in at the top of my blog and why I can't comment on other people's blogs no matter how many times I sign in?!?! It's incredibly frustrating!!!! Does anyone else have this problem?! Booooooooo! :(

What Should I Read Now? :)

I'm still trying to decide about what I'm going to do next year... but in the meantime, I'm chomping at the bit to start creating some units since I need to be writing maternity lessons plans anyway! I feel like I have a pretty good grip on reading... so I'd really like to focus on writing. However, if you have an amazing suggestion for a reading book don't hesistate to let me know!! I listed professional books about reading I've already read a few posts down... Does anyone have any suggestions of good writing books to read??

I'm happy to take suggestions for "fun" books as well... I've already read several books that have nothing to do with teaching to help relax after such a crazy end to the end of the school year, but I'm definitely always open to suggestions because I absolutely love love to read... it's how I unwind. :)

My reading list so far (at least that I can remember...):
1. Something Borrowed (was a re-read before I saw the movie)
2. Something Blue (another re-read... I just love the books!)
3. Steven Tyler: Does The Noise In My Head Bother You?
4. Carnal Innocence (Nora Roberts - re-read before the Lifetime movie, haha!!)
5. I Hope They Serve Beer In Hell (high-larious!!!! however, very raunchy... read with caution, lol!)
6. Water for Elephants (soooo good!!! and no I haven't seen the movie...)
7. Vanish (Tess Gerritson - Rizzoli and Isles novels)
8. Midnight (Dean Koontz)
9. ????

Monday, June 20, 2011

Trying to Get a Feel For Things... So Overwhelmed!!

A lot of stuff has been going on here in Texas regarding education. Basically, our legislature isn't looking at the needs of kids - it's looking at money. Gotta *love* politics, right?? Yuck. On Thursday, Texas passed a bill saying that teachers salaries could be reduced to below state minimums if it was deemed necessary, teachers could be furloughed up to 6 days without pay, class sizes will probably be raised, and basically there is no such thing as being a "tenured" teacher. Layoffs will no longer be based on years of experience - they will now reserve the right to get rid of seasoned teachers just because they get more money. On Saturday, a district nearby (that several friends work for) tried to pass a tax increase to help out with their districts financial woes, and it didn't pass. Now teachers in their districts are facing more layoffs, no bus transportation, loss of fine arts and librarians, among other things. Seriously?!

Right before school got out, my district sent out a memo basically saying that they may or may not lower our salaries to the state minimum (which would mean a $10,000 pay cut) this next school year but will not be able to tell us if they're doing it until basically next school year - so August/September. We had to sign a paper saying that we received the memo and everything, which basically means they're thinking about it pretty darn seriously!! I'll be honest, missing 12 weeks of the beginning of the year, in a new school where I don't know anyone, won't know my kids coming in, with a new state test looming over my head AND the potential of losing $10,000 of my hard earned salary has just about taken away any excitement whatsoever I had mustered up about this next school year. Plus factor in this new mess with our state legislature and I feel like our states education system is going down the drain super fast. I mean what guarantees I'll even be able to still have a job when this next school year starts? If they can't figure a way to make financial ends meet they can still move me wherever they want, which is kind of ridiculous considering I'll be out on maternity leave anyway... It's a little scary to have so much uncertainty hanging over my head with my son so close to being here.

We spent the majority of our weekend (after hearing about another local districts woes as well as the this new mess created by the state legislature) discussing possibilities for our little family. When we moved, we had to make a split decision because we had to be out of our house by a certain date... and all of our options fell through at the last minute. So we are now living 45 minutes away from where we were living previously (which means at least 50+ min from my job). We've been looking at options to be able to buy a house (which we can't do until at least August) but we're both leery of that choice because we don't know where we would like to live. We love the area we are currently renting in, and while it's closer to my husbands work it's much further from mine. And I have to be at work at 7:30 vs 10:00 for him. We also finally finally have some money in savings (that we were going to use for a down payment) but with a baby on the way and so much uncertainty, we'd really like to keep that money there. Which makes it seem like the obvious choice would be to stay right where we are for awhile. However, I have NO desire to drive so far to work... so I need a back up plan. I can't just be a stay home mom... my husband is still building his realtor base at his mortgage job so he's still trying to build consistency so I've got to be bringing some money home. So basically, I'm trying to figure out what my options are before I decide to resign.

I've thought about working in a preschool setting, tutoring (which I haven't the first clue about how to get some clients...), TpT... I'd really like to keep whatever I do in the education setting since I do plan on teaching again in the future and I'd really like to start on my masters degree. Any suggestions?? :)

I know my posts have kind of turned into rambling, but there's a lot going on here in our personal lives (which is affecting my professional life!) and I'm just trying to get it all under "control". Especially before our sweet boy gets here and that's getting closer and closer and closer!! Thanks for all your support and suggestions!!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Meet Our Little Man!!!

Our lives have been absolutely crazy for the past two weeks, which is why I haven't really been posting. I had to pack up my classroom and move it to my new school (which really isn't an easy feat almost 8 months pregnant...), and then turn around and pack up our house, and move to a new one. The timing was awful, but we know there's a bigger plan in play we aren't aware of so we are just rolling with it as best we can. I'm happy to say that my classroom has been moved (but not set up... oh well!) and our belongings are in our new house (still in tons of boxes... I'm slowly working through them the best that I can!) so I don't have too much to complain about I guess! :)

We were supposed to sneak a peak at our little man last Thursday night, but had to cancel because a) all schools in my district closed(for the entire summer) at 5 pm and we thought we had later (plus we had some other issues that prevented us from driving 45 min from our new home to my old school to finish packing...), b) our appointment was at 4:30 and my dr was 20 min away from my school, c) our sonographer had to be at the airport by 6 pm (which is close to an hour away from the dr office), and d) we were still moving at 4:15. :( Luckily, my sweet, amazing hubby got on Google when I started to break down that we were going to miss our 4D window (my dr cuts it off at 32 weeks and I was almost there!) and found a place close to our new house that would give us pics of our little prince as well as a DVD of the entire session so we could share with family later. Woo hoo!!

We got to go to our appointment last night and... *drull roll please*... here's my absolute most favoritist picture of our little guy from the whole sesson!!!!!

He was so incredibly active I'm surprised we got so many good pictures! He kept chewing on the umbilical cord, playing with it, with his hands, sucking on his fingers, yawning, and drinking. It was crazy! We even got to see him a couple of times with his eyes wide open!! :) The sonographer kept joking with me that I must have eaten something he really liked because he was drinking so much, and all I'd had in the few hours before the appointment was a Del Monte Strawberry Chiller. If you've never had one, they are totally amazing when it's 100 degrees outside and you're feeling like a human oven!! ;)
Hope everyone is enjoying their summers!! Stay cool!! :)

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Book Review: Pam Allyn's Best Books for Boys

To be honest, I've never written a "true" book review before, so y'all are just going to have to wing this one with me. ;)

About the book:

I'm going to make this short and sweet because I'm going to give you more detail in the section where I give you my take on the book! This book is written literally with boys in mind (in case you didn't pick up on that from the title)... and how to get and keep them engaged in literacy. The first several pages are meant to give you a background of why she wrote the book, along with some statistics about how literacy (or lack thereof) affects boys. She gives a few real world classroom examples, discusses using the READ model to help encourage reading without making it a chore, and then takes about 10 pages to answer some FAQ's about boys and reading. For the majority and remainder of the book, she has an incredibly extensive, annotated list of books grouped by emergent, developing, and maturing readers as well as by subject. Some books even include a "Talk About It" section that gives you ideas on how to pull your boy readers into a conversation (since children are social readers) about that particular book.

My take on the book:

I've been a classroom teacher for 5 years now, which is realize isn't long... but I've spent that time reading tons of books on the subject of literacy as well as surfing blogs and other places to find ways to match my passion of reading and pass it along to my students. To be honest, the first 30 pages didn't really tell me anything I hadn't already read somewhere before, especially in books such as The Book Whisperer, Reading With Meaning, or either of The Sister's books (The Daily 5, or CAFE). However, like I've said before, I go above and beyond on my professional literature so for someone who hadn't read the previously mentioned books, this book has a goldmine of information waiting for you to help aide in pulling those boys in and getting them excited and interested in literacy.

The underlying message: Children need to take ownership of their reading and have choice in what they read in order to best benefit from the experience. They need to be comfortable with where they are reading, and they need a strong support system in place in order to be truly successful. We as teachers (and parents) need to listen to what they have to say and provide books for them in their reading zone (close to their level) as well as in something their interested in, and we need to constantly be exposing them to different kinds of literacy: computers, books, magazines, graphic novels, comics, etc...

The part that really grabbed me and will have me telling you right now to buy this book, is the annotated list of books she provides by approximate age of students and interest or genre. This is literally what takes up most of the book, and provides a wealth of resources right at your fingertips to help you plan your small groups, your read-aloud, or even to recommend to that student that you just can't seem to find a book they're interested in.

I, personally, think that teachers shouldn't be the only ones to read this book... I think parents would greatly benefit from this information as well. How many parents do you think realize that 80% of high school dropouts are boys? Or that illiteracy rates make it twice as likely that nonreaders will go to jail later in life?? Pam mentions the dangers of having kids read out loud (an unfortunate still commonplace practice in many classrooms - not mine!) and how it can emotionally damage them as well as cause them to hate reading. My husband is one of those people, and this is a battle we are going to have to fight after our son is bored - it's important to me that my son sees both of his parents as readers, not just his mom... his dad will make a huge impact on his whole life, not just his literate one. (Another thing Pam discusses in the beginning of her book.)

I also know several teachers that I'd love to wave this book in front of and scream and go "Hey look! It's another book that has statistics and encourages kids to read for FUN instead of doing whole class novels and worksheets!!" Of course, there's far more to this book than that message alone, but it's still a powerful one. If you teach, if you have a son at home... this book would be a valuable asset to own. Not only does it reiterate what you probably already feel in your heart about how you teach reading and view literacy, it provides a ton of books to flip through to help engage your kids in your class - not just boys. I know plenty of girls that like some of the books I saw listed as well. :)

Click on the picture below and it will take you straight to Amazon... put it on your summer reading list!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

How Do I Tell My Class?!?! Suggestions please!! :)

Only 3 more days (well technically 2 1/2 more days now...) of school left for this school year. I'm packing up my room to make my move to my new school and I honestly think I'm in robot mode. I'm not allowing myself to be emotional about this at all. However, I think come Friday, I'll need to invest in some waterproof makeup because it's going to be awful. Children crying = Mrs. Brasher crying.

I still haven't told my kids I won't be back next year. Yes I know, shame on me... it's selfish and I admit it, but I know I have several kids that are going to be absolutely heartbroken. I know I need to tell them, probably tomorrow since I'll have some that won't show up on the last day - I always do. But how? How do I tell them that they won't get to give me random hugs in the hallway, or drop in and say hello to the little 3rd graders now that they're big 4th graders? HOW?!

I'm planning on bringing the baby up here to see the staff and kids after school starts while I'm on my maternity leave, so I know that will be a little bit of a consolation. I'm also keeping up our class website and posting over the summer so they can know what's going on with me and baby Liam, as well as giving them my e-mail so they can keep in touch. I have several that that's helped over the years. I also found a great idea somewhere (somewhere out there in blog land or possibly Pro Teacher...) that I'm going to print off a picture of the class, mount it on cardstock, and have them write notes to each other on it so they can frame it.

I'm totally open to any ideas that might make this news less of a blow... I hate to just gather them up and be like "Oh, btw, I won't be returning to this school next year because I'll be teaching 3rd graders at another school. Sorry!" Obviously I wouldn't be that cavalier, but you get my point. I'd love some suggestions!! Thanks sooo much!!! :) Y'all are always the best!!

Friday, May 27, 2011

What I've Learned Linky Party

Karla over at Life In Special Education is hosting a linky party! The rules are simple: link up and list as many things as you can think of that you've learned this year or over the years teaching. They can be funny, serious, or anything in between! Head on over to link up! :)

Things I've Learned:
* Kids crave consistency and discipline. Even though I was taught this in college, it's hard to believe until you really see it in place and are a witness to how much it affects them!

* You can't please everyone. No matter how hard you work, there is always going to be a teacher, a parent, an administrator... somebody... that is unhappy or expects more from you. You can only do your best and that's it.

* Kids are 150 bajillion% unpredictable. They will never cease to surprise you, amaze you, and take your breath away... While it may not always be a good thing that they surprise you with, it's definitely worth journaling or blogging about so you can look back on it later and laugh. Because you will. :)

* The kids that frustrate you the most, also tend to be the ones that love you the most. It amazes that I can be at complete odds with a student and he can be so angry with me, and then he can turn around and defend me to someone else or rub my back as we walk down the hall asking if the baby is treating me well today. This kind of goes with the above bullet point, but it's a well-learned lesson. Even though this kid frustrates me beyond reason, I know he'll be one I'm worrying about next year when I'm at my new school.

* I will more than likely go without receiving credit or acknowledgment for my hard work, tears, labor, or ridiculous hours. Obviously we don't do what we do for the credit, but it's nice to get when it does finally come around. Just don't expect it.

* Piggybacking off the above "lesson", there will always be a teacher (or teachers) that can't stand that you put in extra hours, create your own units/lessons, go the extra mile and will talk nasty about you. It's hurtful and it causes difficulty when working with those peers, but you have to remember who you are doing all of that for and press on. There will always be someone who is jealous (at least that's what I like to think) of your talents. ;)

* Hugs, kid-drawn pictures, random priceless (meaningless to most people that aren't teachers) gifts, and whispered sweet nothings in your ear are the absolute best thing that can happen to you no matter what kind of day you're having. I can't tell you how many times my day has turned around just by getting a hug in the hallway or classroom, or having a kid shout "I love you!" as they run out the door to catch the bus because I've made that big of an impact on their life. You really can't top it!

* I would much rather read with a group of my kids, have a lively discussion about the differences between a movie and a novel (this was super fun after reading Percy Jackson this year!), or teach/play games than hand out worksheets. Worksheets don't teach you about who your kids really are... conversations, journals, and interactions teach you. Here I am, 4 more days of school left, and I'm still being surprised by the little people in my classroom!

* Lightbulb moments are the absolute most satisfying moments in your teaching career. There is nothing that can even come close to seeing a child finally "get" what you've taught them in a million different ways trying to find that way to make it click for them.

* Sometimes, you have to go against the grain and do what you know is right. I do not care what anyone says: teaching a child how to take the TAKS test is NOT the same thing as teaching a child how to read and truly comprehend and interact with a storyline. I've had to learn to stand my ground (which can be lonely sometimes) and teach my kids using my belief system about reading and creating life-long readers. I don't want my students to leave my room hating books like my husband does! :(

* Kids come from all walks of life with all kinds of experience you can't imagine them having, or missing out on experiences you can't imagine them not having. I have a little boy in my class right now that has incredibly involved parents and a great home life, but is always asking me about zoos and aquariums and I really just want to take him and introduce him to the amazingness that is our zoo!! And the new aquarium that's opening in Grapevine in July!! It's so hard to know things about your students and know that you are limited in what you can do for them.

* I love teaching blogs. It's so nice to know that there are others out there that feel the same that I do about so many things, and that I'm not near as alone as I sometimes feel. Thank you all for your encouragement, generosity, and creativity! Y'all rock!! :)

* No matter how frustrated I get with political crap at school, grumpy parents/teachers, kids and situations I can't change... I can't imagine doing anything else for a living. Because at the end of the day, when I can finally push all that aside and take a deep breath and remember that tomorrow is a new day... I love LOVE love my job!

I could go on for awhile, but I'm going to stop! Go link up and share your lessons!! :)

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Unanswered Prayers...

I don't suffer from ADD... not at all. *cough cough* I'm sitting here writing this post while flipping back and forth on my browser between this post, other blogs, and The Biggest Loser finale that didn't air here in DFW due to some crazy tornadic weather on Tuesday night. And my son is kicking so hard my belly is literally moving the laptop. That doesn't make it hard to focus... So please, bear with me here! :)

It's been a little over a week since I posted about my job situation, so I figured I would update everyone. I did end up going to my principal about the possible position opening. Long story short, the position was filled from someone outside our district. That left me with a lot of unanswered questions (as well as some hurt feelings that I wasn't even considered and I knew my principal knew that I wanted to stay at my school when I have so much other things going on), but honestly, the more I talked about it with my husband, my family, and my friends... the more I realized that God truly has complete control over this situation. While I'm going to miss my kids and the family I've made at this school, there is clearly a reason that I'm being removed from this particular placement. I've stopped pursuing answers, because honestly I don't think I'd be happy with what I'd find and it wouldn't solve a thing, so I'm moving forward in the best way that I know how. I truly want to thank those of you that reached out to me about my previous post through either comments or e-mail - it's incredibly humbling to have people who don't even know you send such encouraging words. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

There are only 6 days of school left, 5 with kids (we are working Memorial Day due to freak snow days!) and then a whole chapter of my life is closing. We are moving homes, we will have a baby by the end of the summer, and I'm starting over in a completely new school. While this is completely and utterly overwhelming (especially since I'm not one who does well with change), I know that it's all in the works for a reason, and for now, only He knows why. Nothing about the timing of any of this is ideal, but how often are changes in our lives considered "good timing"?

I'm already beginning to see various good reasons why all of this change could potential be a great thing. Obviously I'm not a psychic and the things I'm focusing on might not be the true good that's going to come out of all these situations in the end... but it sure helps to fine tune that focus into something positive when there's so much going on! I've had a team member on my new 3rd grade team reach out to me, and the more I talk to her the more I realize that my quiet utterances to myself and the things I wished for in a job might very possibly be at this school. I'm blessed to only be teaching ELAR (reading, word study, writing) and social studies at this new school... so my workload feels like it's been lightened considerably. While ELAR has always been what I've planned, I was always pulling things for the other subjects to fit my classroom and teaching style - and we all know how amazingly overwhelming that can be. I'm excited to really know my content area going on and know that my focus is going to be on what I'm best at, especially after returning from maternity leave. Yet another example that apparently, God really does know what he's doing. ;) It might not be the way that I wanted it to happen or on my timeline, but hey, it's not changing!

I prayed (selfishly, very very selfishly) to not have a summer baby, stay in the home we are now, to stay at the school I'm at now, and to keep things the way they've been - mostly for comfort, and mostly because I absolutely hate change. None of those prayers were answered, but I have to say that I'm thanking God right now for new opportunities and for not answering those prayers. *I may not have wanted a summer baby, but I'm so glad Liam didn't end up a Spring baby or we'd be dealing with all this madness with an infant! No, it's not ideal pregnant, but at least we can pick and move and deal with all of this accordingly without it affecting him as significantly. *This may be the home we came home to after our "official" engagement (my husband couldn't afford a ring for me until 2 months before our wedding, so we were "officially" engaged for a very short time, haha!), planted palm trees in the backyard that we bought on our honeymoon, had a whole lot of firsts in... but it's never been "ours" and there's always been things looming over our head. We are getting a completely fresh start and a whole new slew of firsts. :) We can buy new palm trees when we take a vacation after (possibly before, but more than likely after...) Liam makes his appearance, we will finish off the second half of our first decade of marriage in a home that's 100% ours, and any mistakes made in this home with be all ours, no one else's. *And while I diligently prayed to stay at my school because I didn't want to leave my kids, I already knew the staff, and I wouldn't have to worry about setting up my room (which I do still worry about although I know it will be taken care of somehow someway...) I wasn't thinking about whether or not I was being nurtured as a professional educator, whether this was the best place for me to be a new mom, or anything else for that matter. Yes, there are different (much different) expectations at my new school - but I feel like I will completely rise to the challenges. I'll be in a staff where there are more people my age and with children, and I'll get a whole new opportunity to meet a new group of people that fit with this next chapter in my life. Most of the people at my old school have already done it and aren't currently going through it...

Yes, like Garth Brooks, I thank God for unanswered prayers.

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Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Professional Reading - Thoughts?

I'm looking for a few new books to read this summer. I had several books on my list, but since I will only be teaching ELAR and social studies next year... that list has gotten smaller. Do you have any to recommend? I'll post my lists here, and if you've already read one I'm thinking about reading, please posts your thoughts on the book or add your own!! I'd love to hear what you have to say! :)

I've already read:
~The Book Whisperer (I plan to revisit this one this summer)
~Daily 5
~Reading with Meaning
~Teaching with Intention
~Mosaic of Thought
~Notebook Know How
~No More, I'm Done (I plan to revisit this one this summer)
~The Reading Zone
~Guiding Readers and Writers: Grades 3-6
~Teach Like a Champion

In progress:
~Strategies that Work

Want to read:
~Reading Essentials
~Writing Essentials
~Igniting a Passion for Reading
~Catching Readers Before they Fall
~Comprehension Connections
~Craft Lessons (about writing)
~Writing Workshop
~Music with the Brain in Mind
~The Cornerstone

I'd LOVE great suggestions about writing and discipline/procedures since I'll be out at the beginning of the school year and will definitely need something solid in place! :)

Thanks y'all!!!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Lettering Delights Freebie!!!

Head on over to Lettering Delights to pick up the American Pride super bundle for FREE!!! You get 2 doodle bat fonts, 3 fonts, 3 sets of SVG's, 3 alphabets, and 3 graphic sets. That's a lot of fun stuff to use! :)

Click here to head on over there, add it to your cart, and download away!! Enjoy!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Torn. Advice please? Please?? :)

I've been debating all afternoon whether or not I should post this, but I figure I don't have anything to lose... so why not?

Brief highlight on my work situation: Our district, like so many others, has had to make decisions to RIF and move employees to accomodate the budget (or lack thereof). It decided to make these movements before Spring Break. Before people turned in retirements, before they turned in resignations. They asked that people *please* turn those in, but offered no incentives like so many other districts around here. So, I was pulled into my principals office, the day I got back from being on bedrest for an entire week, to be told I was moving to another school. I was later informed that I could apply (yes, apply) to the school I'm currently working in if a position came available. This would also be true if a position opened at another school.

Our deadline expired last Friday, but then was immediately extended. Until this Friday, May 20. A 4th grade position came open at my school, so I applied for it thinking that this would be a great opportunity to broaden my horizons - I student taught in 4th and loved it. Plus, I'd have my kids from this year again and I'd be totally happy with that. I've never heard a peep from my principal. Not one.

I applied for two other positions within the district. Again, no peeping. No returned e-mails. Nothing. I've emailed my new principal (at the school I'm being moved to) to ask some questions about the possibility of being able to move my things to my new room before summer since I'll be out at the beginning of the year (obviously this whole situation wasn't planned) and no repsonse there either.

I'm thinking it's my hormones, I'm not really sure... but I'm really starting to get paranoid. I know my e-mail works, my e-mails to my co-workers get sent back and I get new e-mails daily. But none from any administrators. Yes, I know I'm pregnant. No, it's not ideal for anyone. But I'm good at my job and I love my job. No matter how frustrated I get with teaching, I can't imagine doing anything else. So why on Earth is no one giving me the time of day concerning job possibilities? I mean, not even my new principal will respond to me. Is there something stamped on my forehead?? Is there a hidden message in the footer of my resume?? We don't know our TAKS scores yet, but I had 100% passing and 15 of 21 commended students on our March benchmark. Come on, that makes me marketable in this area... doesn't it??

So herein lies my biggest problem, aside from the fact that I've made myself full-blown paranoid overthinking and over-analyzing this situation... A 2nd grade teacher at my school resigned on Monday. The position isn't available on the district website yet, but I already have an application in with my current principal (does this seem like overkill to anyone else??) and can't figure out for the life of me why I can't just be moved back into this position. I'm literally the only one being moved from my school (due to years of service in the district and RIFing) and we now have 3 positions open: the 4th grade math, my position in 3rd, and now the position in 2nd. Does this not seem like a no-brainer to you?!?!

I've had several people tell me that I should go talk to my principal: the 2nd grade team really wants me on their team and I'd love to not have to move school. There are obvious pros for being able to stay at my current school: I already know the staff, admin, curriculum, etc... I could set up my room and it would be ready for next school year at this school. This would seriously be the most ideal situation ever for me. In 2nd grade, there is no state testing... *sigh*

And I'm absolutely terrified to go to my principal. I really think that the fact that she never responded to me about the 4th grade position freaked me out - I'm really starting to wonder if she just wants to get rid of me.

Do I talk to her? I only have 2 days before this deadline is up. If I talk to her, what do I say?? Am I crazy for feeling so paranoid about the lack of responses I'm getting?? I feel so lost, I just don't know what to do.

I mean, I know the worst thing she can say to me is NO. And then I'll be moving to the same school I was moving to in the first place to teach 3rd grade reading and social studies. I love reading. I love 3rd grade. I don't love that my new principal doesn't follow through on things she says and is apparently avoiding me. I don't love that I have no idea how I'm going to set up my room and yes, that's super important to me. I can't deal with someone I don't know doing it for me...

So again: do I talk to my current principal, or not? If yes, what do I say and how do I approach her? I feel like I have so much to offer, but all of a sudden I'm scared to bring any of it up and "toot my own horn" if you will. I'm majorly qualified for this position: I've taught 1st, 2nd, and 3rd so I'd fit in perfectly in 3rd grade. I'm already trained in guided reading (which is new to my school if you can believe it) and have done Daily 5 in my room for 4 of the 5 years I've taught. She needs me! How do I make her see that??

Thanks for all your advice in advance!! In case you can't tell, I'm making myself a little crazy over here...

10 Things I Want to Do This Summer!

I love linky parties. They give me something to write about and I get to meet and learn about new people. Plus they take my mind off of other life happenings, haha! Erica over at Midwesternita is having a link-up to write like a first grade and give your top ten list of 10 things you want to do this summer. I love summer, so this should be easy!! ;)

1. Buy a house. We currently have two prospects: one we love for the backyard, one we love for the house, both somewhat close to where we live now and where I'll be working next year. We've been renting for the past 5 years and the owners are declaring we have to be out of our house by June 6. While this has been an emotional roller coaster, my hubby and I can't wait until we have our very own home!!

2. Meet my son. I started my third trimester today!! Only 12 more weeks until we get to meet the little guy... which means that I'm definitely ready for that #1 on my list to happen sooner rather than later so I can start nesting and getting the nursery ready. My first shower is next Wednesday at school so I'm really really excited!!!

3. Take a babymoon. With a baby on the way and purchasing a new home, I seriously doubt I'll be able to scratch this one of my list... but Erica's stipulations were to list dreams and ideas we'd love to do if we could. I would love to do this one if we could. Ordinarily, I'd says that I'd love to travel to a beach, but I'm really leery of bathing suits right now. Everyone keeps telling me I look great, but I feel like I have a huge beach ball shoved under my skin. New Orleans is top on my list, mostly because I absolutely love that city and it's culture and I'm not sure when I'd ever be able to truly enjoy the history of it other than now since I'm preggers and we'd have to visit somewhere other than Bourban Street. Haha!! ;)

4. Go furniture shopping. This may sound a little crazy, but I really want some new furniture to go with our new house. This will literally be our very first house and I want some furniture that screams US when people visit. We have been able to buy couches, 2 new TV's, and a washer and dryer set in the 5 years we've lived here. I think it's time for coffee tables, matching bedroom furniture, and a KING sized bed!!! :)

5. Cherish time with my husband. This will literally be the last summer that it will be "just the two of us"... I want to take as much advantage of this as I can and I really don't care what we do! If we can scrape out the time, I'd love to take a couple weekend trips - Austin, Guene, San Antonio, and Fredericksburg are all within a close driving distance and have lots of fun things to do! I can't imagine my life without my best friend in it. I'm so lucky and I can't wait for our little twosome to become a threesome. :)

6. Celebrate 5 magical years with my best friend. I can't believe it's been 5 years since we got married. Seriously. It's gone so fast! What's even more amazing is that he's been one of my best friends for 11 years now, and my number one best friend for 8. I feel so blessed to be able to say that about my husband. We won't be able to do a lot for our anniversary since it will be the day after the last day of school (and I'll probably be in a pregnancy coma sleeping off the last week of school) and we will also be getting our life out of our house - remember that June 6 deadline to be out of the house? Our anniversary is June 4.

7. Get some sun. I'm so stinkin' pasty white right now!! I won't lie: during the summer, I literally live for time at the beach, being on a boat on some body of water, or floating down the river. This summer is going to be very different for me, but luckily my mother has a pool so I can veg out on a float any time I want once school gets out! YES!

8. Host a family gathering at our new house. This might not be until Liam makes his appearance in late July/early August, but I can't wait to have the family over to our house!! I love hosting things with family and friends, but it adds a whole new element of excitement when I know that this will be our house! Our first house! {Can you tell I'm super crazy excited?!?} Hey, maybe 4th of July since we clearly won't be going to the river for our usual annual excursion?!

9. Catch up on reading and movies. Yeah, this one probably seems pretty boring. But seeing as how it gets to be in the 100's here in Texas in the summer and I'm officially in my 3rd trimester... I need activities that involve air conditioning. Lots of cold, cold air. If you have any books to recommend, send them my way! I have a list going already, but I have at least two months to kill and I read fast. ;) I'm the most excited about Harry Potter, but I'm not going to complain about the new Winnie-the-Pooh, Transformers, Pirates (seeing that one Sunday!), Green Lantern (hellll-o Ryan Reynolds!!!), The Hangover 2, Friends with Benefits, Midnight in Paris, Kung Fu Panda 2, Cars 2, and The Smurfs!!! Yes, I really do want to see all of those movies. I mean, I picked what appears to be an awesome summer to be laid up. ;)

10. Cherish my summer! As a teacher, this is the biggest privelege we get. Yes, I still work some over the summer but this is when I unwind, focus on my personal life which somehow gets pushed aside 9-10 months of the year and enjoy all the things that make me Monique, not Mrs. Brasher. :)

OK, so I just thought of one more, so I have to make this my 11 Things I want to ... list. Oops. :)

11. Write. I have this deep seeded wish and desire to become a best-selling novelist. I've wanted this since I was in like 4th grade, no lie. I have visions of sitting on a porch overlooking some ancient Southern Oaks draped in spanish moss listening to cicadas on a summer evening, sipping sweet tea, and penning my latest work. Or, it could be on porch overlooking glistening water while the sun is setting against the horizon... I'm OK with that too. Either way, I'm pursuing my dreams. I have a book I've been working on literally since I was 18 that I still haven't finished... and I'd really like to delve in and work on it. Maybe even finish it. I've learned a lot since I started that book and I really feel like my experiences would add some amazing dimensions to it... sorry, rambling. Anyways, I'd really love to work on my writing! :)

Now I'm done!! :) Go link up here!!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Facebook Mega Contest!!!

OK, this contest is HUGE! Click here to go check out Shelley Gray's FB page that explains it all!!

Two winner's will be announced Sunday, May 22! And remember, you have FIFTEEN chances to win!!! Good luck!! :)

100 Things Linky Party!

Stumbling on this linky party by Kris over at I {Heart} Teaching could possibly be one of the best things to happen to me right now. With figuring out that I've got to pack up my classroom and my entire house in the same amount of time my attitude has been less than stellar and more stressed out than I could possibly imagine so my focus definitely needs to be refined into something positive right now.

Here goes (in no particular order)...

The 100 Things I Love About Teaching:

1. clip-art
2. fonts
3. hugs at all times of the day
4. teacher stores
5. light-bulb moments
6. bright smiles
7. listening to a child read
8. children's books
9. summer break
10. back to school
11. creating units
12. field trips
13. finding new ideas from other awesome teachers
14. DJ Inkers
15. new crayons - love the smell!!
16. colored pens
17. school supplies
18. clothespins (there are so many things you can do with these!)
19. random notes from my students that say "I love you" or "You're the best!"
20. those days where I'm actually caught up on grading
21. knowing I've really reached my kids by hearing them talk to each other
22. Daily 5 & CAFE
23. professional teaching books
25. Barnes and Noble
26. binders
27. colored file folders
28. pocket organizers
29. "special" days where we watch a movie to finish a unit (like Charlotte's Web or a fairy tale)
30. days where the kids get to wear "normal" shirts
31. field day
32. kid drawn pictures made just for me
33. reading a story by one of my students
34. pulling my ideas together BEFORE I teach the unit, not during or after
35. feeling really organized with plans
36. book orders
37. my planner
38. calendars
39. Dr. Seuss
40. making an impact on kids lives every day
41. not having to work on the weekends (unless I choose to and even then it's at home)
42. clipboards
43. kids learning new vocabulary and using it!
44. finishing a unit and the kids begging to keep going
45. our class blog
46. yummy snacks in the teachers lounge or unexpected goodies at a faculty meeting
47. stellar staff developments (you know, the ones where you actually walk away with new knowledge and you were happy to give up a day or two to be there!)
48. teacher blogs
49. scholastic
50. 3 day weekends!
51. lessons like the life-cycle of the butterfly
52. laminating
53. kid work displays
54. new bulletin boards (either purchased or created)
55. random days to the park (like tomorrow...)
56. the end of the school year
57. setting up my classroom
58. birthdays and cupcakes
59. class celebrations
60. The Reading Teacher magazine
61. post-its
62. glue sticks
63. containers of any kind (I'm a little OCD)
64. the Mailbox
65. teacher newsletters in my e-mail
66. school spirit days - yay for t-shirts and tennis shoes! (I miss jeans though...)
67. computer time
68. lunch
69. Fridays!
70. getting through every single thing I had planned in one day... that never happens...
71. when kids do something and you don't have to ask them to!
72. having a kid recommend a book to me
73. class pictures
74. dollar tree or the $ spot at Target
75. TpT
76. my kidney table
77. reader's notebooks
78. colored copy paper - I LOVE color!
79. library pockets
80. donor's choose
81. days I get home "on time"
82. getting ahead on my plans
83. eating lunch with my kids (every once in awhile!)
84. watching bill nye or magic school bus with my kids
85. read in's!!!
86. rewarding my students for hard work
87. staples (the store)
88. kohl's for kids :)
89. teaching those "special" things that aren't really part of the curriculum but you squeeze in anyway... *cough cough*
90. dry erase markers
91. hugs from my now 4th graders
92. having a parent tell me what a difference I've made - we all love that, right?!
93. seeing success with my kids
94. going to outside stuff for my kids (softball games, etc...)
95. days where my kids are all on green or higher (this is very few and far between but they are GREAT days!!!)
96. white boards
97. stamps and stickers
98. copy machine
99. making up songs to popular music to teach concepts :)
100. fun events like the great poetry race or the superbowl reading challenge

What are YOUR 100 things you love about teaching?! Go link up!!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Scholastic eBooks for $1!!!!

This is seriously amazing and almost too good to be true. Now through May 31st, you can purchase a TON of Scholastic eBooks for only ONE DOLLAR!!! Yes, you read that right. $1.

I just spent $10 without blinking an eye to jumpstart me on some ideas for next year (which of course I'll end up tweaking to fit my needs and posting on here...) and will probably spend that much next week on *my* payday. (Today was hubby's payday... haha!)

Go visit the Scholastic Teacher Express site here to go view all the eBooks they have to offer while this deal lasts! :) There's seriously a lot to choose from!!!

Monday, May 9, 2011

End of the Year Linky Party!!

This is what happens when you sit down after a long day (and a baby causing kidney and nerve pain in your back) and put up your swollen feet to catch up in blogland. I write 3 posts in one day. :)

What's the Buzz is hosting an End of the Year linky party! What fun things do YOU do for the end of the year??

I've done a number of things the past 4 years... and honestly I don't always feel like I'm doing enough. But don't we *always* feel that way?? ;) My first year teaching, my friend and I got adventurous with our 1st graders and taught them how to play kick ball (our PE teacher refused to teach them for some reason) and we had a class on class kickball game! Funny that that's really all I remember from my very first last day of school... haha!! Our last day of 2nd grade (my next year) consisted of movies, a read in (with sleeping bags and pillows), and a cookout - hot dogs cooked on the back of my husbands pick up and everything! Lol! We also did ice cream sundaes to wrap up our last day! It was very very fun!!

My past two years in 3rd grade have continued to consist of a movie day combined with read in (this really helps me wind down and it's nice to just *breathe* right before that last stretch...) and also of making memory books - I print out pictures from our year and they cut and paste and craft their own memory books which they can turn around and get autographed. They love this and I think it's a great opportunity for the kiddos that can't afford a yearbook. PLUS, it's all about *our* fabulous class and no one else! I've also brought donuts for us to eat together for breakfast! (They really love that one!) I usually do a slideshow on the very last day (which my pregnant self might not be able to handle this year, especially since I'm leaving the school), but I might push that up to awards day... We will see!

School wide we have field day, awards day, then our end of the year parties... Our end of the year parties consist of wet bounce houses! While the kids love them, it's really hard to get them back under control for the rest of the afternoon, haha!! It's a great memory that always lands on our class website, in the slideshow, and in memory books. :)

This year I'd really like to do something a little different and I was already throwing the idea of a luau around... then I stumbled on this post in this linky party and fell in love!! It's like I was destined to find this post and solve my dilemna. See?? This is why I *LOVE* linky parties!!! :)

Super Super Cute Giveaway! Go Now!!!

Kristen over at Ladybug's Teacher Files (love her, btw!) is having a fantabulous giveaway!!!! She's giving away this super cute blog design!!!

You have FIVE different chances to win this amazingly cute blog design (that comes complete with Twitter and Facebook buttons, a TpT button, AND a matchy matchy grab button). Are you as excited as I am?? If you aren't, you should be!!! Head over there NOW and enter your 5 comments to get a chance to win!!! :)

Oh, the Behavior Right Now is Frightful...

I don't know about y'all but I swear the kids have all checked out. They've stopped paying attention, they don't want to turn in their work... they forget things you taught them FRIDAY... It's always frustrating to me how this time of year should be the most celebrated in the classroom because you only have a short time left together, but it's the most frustrating because you're constantly having to redirect and put out fires. So you really struggle with the celebrations because your attention is always elsewhere.

I'm piggybacking on a post that I read over at Thoughts of a Third Grade Teacher because I used to use something similar to what she posted about. After reading her post this morning, I decided I was going to pick it back up again (to help hold my preggo self accountable because my poor has gone out the window - not by choice!) and really hold my kids to the fire. Today was my first day using this type of "worksheet" for myself in awhile, but it really seemed to make an impression. My kids did NOT like all the notes that went home in planners today and the consequences that they had to suffer because their teacher actually *remembered* what they did to move their clips in the first place! Haha! This might actually keep me sane unitl the end of the year... or at least get me closer!

Click on the images to download! Enjoy!

Feel free to post a comment if you have any questions about how I use these or my clip chart in my classroom! OR if you have any suggestions on what I could add to my "Caught Being Good" bank at the bottom. :)

I write the dates in the little boxes under the colors (or numbers) next to their names so this form can last a week.

These two are used with my clip chart system - yes, the kids CAN move back up once they've hit yellow, orange, or red (or back down) but I want documentation on what they did so I can e-mail, call parents, or write in their planner. (Or all the above!)

The next two clipcharts are "generic" and can be used with any system you use. :)

And here is my bonus homework sheet! I have my kids check themselves off as they turn in homework. It holds them accountable and frees me up for other stuff first thing in the mornings! :) Enjoy!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Prepping for Next School Year Linky Party

Time4Kindergarten is having a linky party about how to prepare for the upcoming school year. I'm really excited to read all the posts in this linky party because this is probably where I struggle the most, but won't really be "allowed" to struggle in this upcoming school year since I'll be missing the beginning of it!! EEK!

I'm so impressed with the people that have mentioned copying so far ahead!! And jealous! I only plan ELAR in my grade level so to do that I'd have to overstep team members and plan 100% on my own. I guess that will all change next year since I will be in one of two grade levels! Baby steps, right?? ;)

So far, to be prepared for next year I have:

1. Begun "the" list. I am literally the world's worst about making lists. I swear I have notebooks of lists. Haha!

2. Organized piles of things I want to laminate but haven't (maybe one of my parent volunteers can help me out with this before the year is over!)

3. Put all my "forms" into one place - I plan on organizing this by subject in a notebook so I know where everything is!

4. Begun to think about what I like about my room this year, and what I'd like to change - bulletin boards, meeting areas, etc...

5. I'm thinking about my reading workshop and how I want to approach it next year since I'll be out at the beginning with maternity leave (*if anyone has any suggestions about this, I would really appreciate it!!*) - and I'm holding off on finding out exactly what I'll be teaching for next year to begin to think about math.

6. I've got a list of professional books I'd like to read and possibly revisit if I have the time.

7. I've got a booklist I'd like to start hunting for to expand my library!

8. I've also got a list of questions ready to help me get ready even more for when I can meet with my new principal and/or team!

9. Trying to start my maternity plans - at least the procedures and everything else "generic" that I need to have ready before I start inserting the actual academic parts!

10. Starting to pack up little sections of my room so I can be super organized for whenever I can get into my new room... whenever that is. I'm a little OCD so the concept of missing out on the beginning of the year in a new school is freaking me out a bit!! Especially since I'm probably not going to be able to have my room exactly like I like it by the time the year starts since I'm due Aug 14.

11. I need to make a list of supplies I might need to purchase to be prepared for the beginning of the year: folders for data folders, replacement binders/folders/pencil pouches, etc... for MOOSE binders, folders/binders (depending on deal) for reading/writing folders.

I sure do have A LOT to do before next year, haha!!

I'm having to do things a little different than most of you since I'm switching schools next year. I've already been moved to a school due to RIFing in our district but I'm unsure of if I'll be in 3rd or 4th... or if I'll be teaching ELAR and social studies or math and science... Hmmmm....

So depending on how things look at the end of next week, I'll also be:

3rd grade:

- making copies of what I've already got for the beginning of the year

- adjusting my plans to meet the expectations of my new school as well as new ideas I'd like to incorporate

- creating units to supplement what I've already got and data folders

4th grade:

- making adjustments to copy/plan with the 4th grade curriculum

- creating entirely new units to go with the new grade level

- creating new games to go with reading/math workshops

- reading new material to prepare for state writing test (we don't focus on writing near as much at my current school in 3rd grade so this is going to take a little bit of extra prep for me!)

- create new wall posters to prepare

I'm sure there's a lot more I have going on, but it's nice to at least have it all in one place on this blog! Sorry if seems like I skipped around a bit, pregnancy has really brought out the ADD in me so it's not always easy to organize my thoughts. :) If any of you have suggestions about how to deal with moving schools and being on maternity leave the first six weeks of school, I am *all* ears!! I'm trying to get myself as organized as possible, but I'm really freaking out!! Thanks all!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Teacher Appreciation Week Linky Party!

Mrs. Parker over at Learning with Mrs. Parker is hosting a Teacher Appreciation Week Linky Party! So here I am, linking up, and sharing several of my absolute favorite teacher appreciation gifts.

I've gotten lots of things in the past five years from my kids, but I have to say that there are very few that truly stand out. Of course I always get the candy, the small stuffed animals, the occasional mug... but my favorites are the random drawings I find on my board, desk, and sticky notes strategically placed where my kids know I'll be sure to find them. It's the hugs I get from my students from last year and the random conversations I have with them that let me know without them ever having to tell actually say the words "I appreciate you". I think that's one of the most heartbreaking things about being moved from my school - I won't get to see my babies from this year, next school year. It makes me so incredibly sad!! :(

Back to teacher appreciation...!!! Here are just a few of the sweet nothings my sweet babies have given me over the past year... :)

OK, I give up on re-uploading this picture. It's right side up until I upload it to Blogger. :(My #1 favorite present from one of my students last year - she MADE this blanket in TCU colors for me!! I take this thing everywhere, including the hospital when I was there overnight!

My kids love TCU, just like me!

Lizard and frog keychains made by a student! :)

Random post it! I *love* these things!!

From one of my kids after announcing Baby Brasher was on the way!

A random pudding cupcake that tasted pretty delicious! ;)

Isn't this precious?!

I love that my kids appreciate me daily rather than just one day or week out of the year!! Be sure to link up and share about your special teacher gifts!!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Teacher Appreciation Week

This week is far from feeling appreciated. We could really use the *love* after TAKS last week, but it's not really happenin'. Our week here in TX started off COLD! It was in the high 80's Saturday, then turned to the 40's Sunday and yesterday. What's up with that TX?! Not ok!! :(

Then yesterday, we got to school and discovered another school in our district had flooded and that we were taking in several of the grade levels for *at least* the next week. Now, don't get me wrong here... if I were in that position, I would be forever grateful to have a school extending a hand to house myself and my students. I can't imagine what these poor teachers are going through being out of their classrooms with no plans or supplies... we are doing our best to help. I think I'd probably be downright panicky at this time of year without any of my stuff! So, major serious props to them for dealing so well with being shuttled over to our school and having to still teach their kids. Where's THEIR appreciation?!

However, the flip side of that is that we now have students of varying grade levels in what were empty classrooms and there is A LOT of commotion and traffic jams going on. It's very stressful when you were already struggling to keep the kids attention and now this gets added to the mix. Today at recess, instead of our 4 3rd grade classes, there were our 4 3rd grade classes PLUS about 7 kinder/first grade classes mixed in all on the playground because the grass was too wet for the them to play in. Ahhhhh!!! And then, we were all coming in at the same time. Oh boy...

Needless to say, I think teacher appreciation week got lost in translation due to all the new chaos that's going on here this week. Not that it was necessarily ever a big deal here to begin with, but I'm trying to give them the benefit of the doubt here... A little teacher appreciation around here in much needed - our school morale is low low low. :(

I say all that to say (and vent...) that I'd like to try to do something for my school to show that I really do appreciate all the hard work I know that is put in at my school. I know I'd for sure like to do something for my grade level, but if I could find something that's not too taxing on the pregnant lady, I'd like to do something *cheap* school wide just to spread a little cheer when there doesn't seem like much to go around. We are on the downhill slope, but we all need a little pep in our steps!!

I'd love any ideas y'all could send my way!! Thanks so much!! :)

Feel the love... it's ANOTHER giveaway! :)

Littlest Treasures is having a super fantastic giveaway on her blog! Head on over there and enter in 3 different ways to have a shot at a super cute personalized sign, a $25 Scrappin Doodles gift card, or a $25 gift card to ThirtyOne!! FUN!!! :) Her giveaway ends Saturday, May 7! Don't delay!!!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Giveaway at In The Teacher's Lounge!

Head on over to In The Teacher's Lounge to get in on a fantastic giveaway as soon as she hits 100 followers! You will get your choice of a Target, Amazon, or TpT gift certificate if you're the lucky winner, so don't delay! :) Head on over there NOW!!!

Teacher Appreciation Sale!!

OK y'all...time for some teacher appreciation!! It's that time of year, and there are some awesome deals floating aroung on the internet!! The wonderful ladies over at Lesson Plans SOS cooked up this wonderful news to share! This sale will run all day tomorrow, TUESDAY, MAY 3!!! Use promo code: TAD11

Check out the following bloggers TpT stores for awesome sales!!

Please let me know if you find out about any other TpT stores offering this deal tomorrow and I will add them (or you) to the list!! Happy shopping!! :)

Friday, April 29, 2011

Classroom Management Linky Party!

Kelley Randall over at Mrs. Randall's Learning Library is having a linky party! Go link up!! ;)

Classroom management is something that has really been challenged in my classroom this year! It's really exciting to be able to go and read what others are doing in their classroom as I prepare for next year. :) **I'll be adding pictures later tonight when I get home - my iPhone plug isn't here!!** When my kids arrive at school, I have an area close to the door that has baskets for their lunches, and they clip their lunch. This is also a really fast way for me to tell who's here and who's not! (As long as they do their jobs...)

I've used a combination of things this year for behavior- the most commonly used one is the clip chart. Previously I always used some variation of the card system, but I LOVED the clip chart and so did my kids. If you've never heard of this, it's pretty simple. The kids all start in the middle on green - they can move up or down depending on the choices they make. The truly fabulous part about this thing is that they're not STUCK wherever they move! If they make a bad choice and move down to yellow, they can still end the day on blue, purple, or even pink!
For a little while, I used "Behavior BINGO"... but because it was more of a *whole class* classroom management tool rather than focusing on groups/individuals... it took waaaay too long for my kids to get a BINGO. I had a real toughie until December that really uprooted our class and a few others that liked to instigate. While I've found this incredibly useful in the past, it wasn't so much with this class!! *Sorry about the glare!*
We use table points for a fun competition (and to encourage teamwork!) as a classroom management tool. Usually, it only takes one team getting bragged on and getting points for the rest of the class to shape up! I'd add a picture, but I had to erase them for TAKS. I'll add one Monday when we start anew!

Due to some extreme behaviors in my room (I've got SUCH an interesting group this year...) I'm adding in a classroom economy to survive the last six weeks. This is also a trial run to see if this something I feel would be successful for the entire school year. :) I'm taking some from Beth Newingham, and adding in a few things I found through Pro-Teacher or my BFF Google (I wish I could remember all the places I pulled from so I could give everyone credit!!). My kids have little Debit/Credit books that they will keep at their desks and I'll tally what they earned/lost. {I have sheets I'll post that has my salaries, expense, earnings, and fines on it later in this post.}

Each week (like I said, I'm only doing this for the remainder of the year) my kids will earn their paychecks and will have an opportunity to shop the "Classroom Store". The majority of this stuff will be privileges, with a few odds and ends from Oriental Trading, Dollar Tree, and Target $ Spot all mixed in together. Kids are so easy to please sometimes. ;) I'm hoping this really pushes my kids to hold themselves to a higher standard for the rest of the school year when it's the hardest to stay focused - we are all ready for summer!! Right?! If this is as successful as it's started out being, I'm totally using this next year.

Click below on the pictures and it *should* {cross your fingers, it's the first time I've done all this mess!} take you to Google docs where you download the forms to use if you'd like to!! Thanks to Ladybug Teacher Files for the tutorials!! :)

School Year Successes

I joined the linky party over at Ladybug's Teacher Files! Head on over there to share your own successes!!

I've had a very difficult time trying to come up with what I consider a "success" in my classroom this year. I feel like my kids have had successes all over the place, but I have such a *diverse* class this year, it's hard to pin down one that I really want to brag about more so than any other. Then I considered that maybe it just doesn't have to only be about my kids!

I'm highly critical of myself. I'm also a people pleaser and just want to be patted on the back, accepted, and told I'm doing a good job. Much like the dogs I cherish so much at home! I'm also very passionate. When you mix all of these up together, I'm just one big bundle of sheer complicatedness. Combine these qualities and add some self doubt cast by a previous principal who was about the least supportive administrator I could have ever asked for, and I walked into this 3rd grade position three years ago with my tail between my legs and ready to do what anyone told me to.

This is now my third year in 3rd, and I told myself in August I wasn't going to try so hard to just "go with the flow" and I was going to do what I wanted to in my classroom. Now don't get me wrong, I've always kind of done what I wanted to, but I wasn't consistant with it nor was I ever fully confident in myself that I could truly pull off the visions I wanted to with my class without the support I desperately was seeking from my team and admin. Now, I'm not for one second criticizing my team or admin... they just come from completely different teaching schools/eras than I do. It can make it really difficult to get the approval you think you need when there is huge air of unfamiliarity about what you're trying to do.

In my fifth year of teaching and my third in the same grade level, I walked off the plank with my eyes closed and never looked back. I dove into my vision of what a reading workshop needed to look like - a combo of Daily 5, CAFE, some Debbie Miller, and some Fountas and Pinnel and started swimming furiously. I truly think God blessed me with the class I have this year to enable me to push them which in turned caused me to push myself. I've had my share of behavior challenges (among other things) but I've never been so proud of where my kids are only 5 weeks from the last day of school.

On our last reading benchmark, I had 100% passing and 15 of my 21 were commended kiddos with just a couple more ready to burst through the barrier. I've never had such outstanding scores, but I've also never had the confidence I had this year to really pursue what I felt I needed to be doing in my classroom. So because of my success at pushing myself to be who I wanted to be as a teacher (which is, of course, still evolving!) I enabled my kids to have great success as readers. :)

They took their reading TAKS test on Wednesday, and I watched their little faces as they embarked on their very first standardized test. They were calm, they were focused, they were ready to take on the world. They read the stories, read the questions, flipped back to the story, and answered the questions with an ease that lifted tons of weight off my shoulders. I didn't teach my kids any acronyms to tackle this test: I taught them to become voracious readers that simply flip back and re-read to find what they're looking for. Yes, this was a gamble on my part, but I've never felt so satisfied that my kids can discuss any book, quote straight from their reading, argue opinions, etc... 100% of my babies could pass the reading benchmark in March with no maybe dots, paragraph numbers written next to their answers, without circling captions, pictures, and charts. My babies are true READER'S. And these little reader's are fierce when it comes to standardized tests because I've already pushed them and asked for more than any multiple choice question on that test could. I've never felt so calm watching them take their TAKS tests... I can't wait to see how much they shined!