Thursday, July 18, 2013

Liebster Award

I was totally jazzed when Mandy at Caffeine and Lesson Plans told me she nominated me for a Liebster Award! I still feel way too green to think I would EVER deserve a blogging award.  However, I feel very honored for her to think of me! For those of you, like me, that don't know about the Liebster Award here are the rules:

1. Link back to the blog that nominated you.

2. Nominate 5-11 blogs with fewer than 250 followers.
3. Answer the questions posted for you by your nominator.
4. Share 11 random facts about yourself.
5. Create 11 questions for your nominees.
6. Contact your nominees by commenting on their blog or sending them an email to communicate the nomination.

Thank you Mandy for nominating me! When I started blogging last year I had no idea if people would even want to read what I had to say. I can't tell you how excited I am!

Caffeine and Lesson Plans

Mandy asked me eleven fabulous questions!

1. Heels or flats? Why?
Flats all the way! I love the look of heels, but I can not even make it an hour while teaching in them. Even a kitten heel becomes an enemy after being on my feet a few hours. I always keep a pair of flip flops, matching my classroom colors, under my desk in case my shoes become too much.

2. What is your favorite color?
Purple! My bedroom is currently painted light purple, and I have a dark purple bed spread.

3. How do you spend your Saturdays?
If my fiancé is off, I normally spend my time with him. We like to go to the bookstore, watch movies, and just chill. If he is working, I tend to spend the day sleeping in, running errands, and cleaning house.

4. What is your favorite vacation spot?
Mount Vernon! I have been there three times and still want to go back. I guess it's the nerd in me, but I love the history and beauty of the place.

5. Do you prefer summer or winter?
Winter all the way. I love snow, hot chocolate, warm blankets, and cuddling! Besides, it gets way too hot in Oklahoma during the summer. Last year we had over a month of 100 degree days. No thank you!

6. What is your favorite subject to teach?
Social Studies is by far my favorite subject. I love that in 5th grade my students still love history. Everyday is a new adventure into the past. I would rather change grades, schools, etc. than give up teaching Social Studies.

7. If you won the lottery, what is the first thing you would buy?
A full time aide for my classroom. Seriously! Someone to do all the grading, copying, and filing for me. That way I can really get back to teaching and stop spending so much time on other stuff.

8. What is your favorite TV show?
Grey's Anatomy. I honestly rarely get to sit down and watch a show regularly. However, I always try to make sure I am home for Grey's. I've been watching and waiting for this last season to appear on Netflix.

9. Are you married or dating someone? What is your spouse's name?
I am currently engaged to an awesome man named Jason. We have been engaged since the day before Thanksgiving. He told me how "thankful" he was for me. Awww. We are getting married in January!

10. What is your "can't live without it" teaching tool?
My Smartboard. I can't believe I ever survived without it. I love that it is interactive! I'm not sure a day goes by without me using it at least several times.

11. What is your favorite restaurant?
I love Mexican food, so my favorite in OKC is Cocino De Mino. I also love Alfredo's in Moore. However, I will NOT go to a Mexican restaurant that charges for cheese dip. How rude!

My Eleven Random Facts
1. My babies are my two dogs and cat. My dachshund, Bella, thinks she runs the house and even pouts when she doesn't get her way.

2. My living room is yellow. Yellow may seem a little bright, but yellow reminds me of happy. I smile every time I go in the living room.

3. I love to go camping! I take my Girl Scouts several times a year and try to take at least one personal trip a year as well.

4. I have my Girl Scout Gold Award. It is the equivalent of the Boy Scout Eagle. I'm very proud that I grew up in Girl Scouting!

5. I love to craft and sew. I always have a mile long to do list of crafts and sewing projects.

6. I am about to turn 30! Yes, I said it (or typed it.) :)

7. I can never sleep the night before school starts. I am always way too EXCITED!

8. I am super afraid of heights but love roller coasters and used to go rapelling.

9. I almost always love the book better than the movie.

10. I own all the Harry Potter movies and would love to have a magic wand. Goodbye dishes with just one wave!

11. I'm going to Paris and London next year with my Girl Scouts. I have only been to London once, which really doesn't count since I never left the airport. It is one of my biggest dreams to go to Paris ever since I took French in high school. J'aime Paris!

Now it's time to pay it forward. My nominees are:

2 Super Teachers
2 Super Teachers

Ms. Cranfill's Class

Numbers Rule My World
Numbers Rule My World

Questions for my fabulous nominees:

1. Why did you decide to work in education?
2. What teacher had the most influence on you?
3. Where is your favorite place to visit but you wouldn't want to live there?
4. Who is your hero?
5. What phrase do you say most often during your day?
6. Would you rather give up your cell phone or give up your favorite food for the rest of your life?
7. What is your favorite movie?
8. Why did you start blogging?
9. If you could travel back in time to meet one person, who would it be?
10. Who is your celebrity crush?
11. What was your favorite memory from this last school year?

Once again, thanks Mandy for nominating me!

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Sunday Smorgasbord

This summer has been flying by so fast. I can't believe it is coming to an end in less than a month. One of my goals was to work on blogging this summer. Well I haven't been great about that, but have spent some time catching up on some of my other goals like sleep, reading, swimming, and working out. To catch up on my summer I am joining Fabulous in First's Linky Party: Sunday Smorgasbord.

Working Out:

As many of you know I'm getting married in January and HATE the idea of wedding dress shopping. I decided the only way I would even begin to want to shop is if I knew I was working on making myself feel more comfortable in my own skin. This summer I have started taking Zumba classes with some of my favorite girls. I've been having such a blast going to class that I actually bought the DVD's so I could do it on my own. Let me tell you, I am by far not coordinated and have no rhythm. However, I am loving Zumba and can't believe how fast time flies when you are having fun!


I have visited the library several times this summer, and the book store more times than I should admit. I get so busy during the school year, that I feel like I go months without reading a new book. I have greatly enjoyed catching up on my reading.

I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE Janet Evanovich! After catching up on her Stephanie Plum novels, I moved on to her Wicked series. She has two books in this series so far, but I hope there will be more soon. These novels are silly and make me laugh my head off. A little bit of magic, hilarious characters, and a monkey make me not able to put the books down.

I love books that are part of a series, so I randomly picked up Bared to You when I was at Hastings one day. There are three books in this Crossfire series, though a fourth is set to come out sometime in the future. Once I started reading this book, I could not stop. I had to go back to the bookstore two days later and get the other two books. If you liked Fifty Shades of Grey then you might really enjoy this series. The books present a love story of two very complicated characters with a whole lot of border line too steamy parts. This series has me rooting for the two characters to find their happily ever after...

Summer School:

Summer School started last week. I am teaching Vocabulary. I have forty minutes every day to teach Vocabulary!  I have been using the Reading Olympians to teach Greek and Latin roots, prefixes, and suffixes.

The Reading Olympians
This is the first time I have used The Reading Olympians system, but I am really liking it so far. This is kind of my test run before I start using it this school year.
I have also pulled in some fun games like Blurt and Apples to Apples. They love these games and are quick and easy to use once they know how to play them. I have also introduced using vocabulary cartoons to learn a new word every day. We are not using the premade ones, but are making our own to go with the novel they are reading in another class.They really enjoy making these cartoons.
I have never had this much time in my day to focus on just vocabulary. If you have any cool activities you use to teach vocabulary, I would LOVE for you to share them with me!
Well, my time for some random catching up is over. Hope your week and summer are going great!

Friday, June 7, 2013

Tricks of the Trade: Homework Time

I haven't linked up with Tricks of the Trade for a few weeks, but now I'm back... I love this week's topic about Collecting and Returning Homework.

The first question many are discussing is their view on homework. Some hate and others love. In my classroom, I rarely assign something as "homework." Homework in my class is from any assignments not completed during class. I try to give students as much time as possible to complete an assignment, but if it is not finished when class is over, it becomes homework. I want my students to complete most of their work in class where I am available to help them. If I notice most of my students do not have an assignment completed at the end of class, I will NOT normally make it homework, but instead adjust my schedule to allow time the next day for the students to complete it. My only exception to my general homework rule is that I do ask my students to read thirty minutes a night!

Now on to my tricks!

Tip 1: Use GOOD baskets and label them clearly.
My collection baskets are wire, and I LOVE them. I tried the plastic ones, but had to constantly replace them. I have three classes that I teach two subjects to each, so I teach six sections. I have a basket for each section.  They are color coded by subject. Blue is S.S. and Red is Reading. Then each basket also has the homeroom teacher's name on it. I stack the baskets in order of when they have me. Once they learn the trick of "this is my last class, so we are the last basket," most of them don't even have to look for the teacher name.

Tip 2: All on time assignments go in the basket.
I do not have students hand assignments to me. I am a busy human and do not trust myself to get EVERY assignment to the correct place, so I have the students turn every assignment into the baskets. The only exception is late work, which I have the students place on my chair. Chair? I know it sounds silly. I have tried a late work folder and was never able to remember to check it. I also tell my students to not put things on my desk because my desk will eat it. The chair method may sound crazy, but if it's in my chair, I have to deal with it before I sit down. Then I can make sure it is labeled late and put in the right stack of papers.

Tip 3: Use a slip with all the students' names on it.
When I grab a stack of papers out of the basket, I attach a slip that has each student's name on it as well as a place for the assignment name and due date. I highlight off the student's names that have turned them in. It makes it easy for me to look down and see who has not turned it in because his or her name is not highlighted. I then list the assignment and any students missing it on the board which I leave up until I will not accept it anymore. The students erase their name once they have turned it in.

Tip 4: Keep written records of your grades!!!
When I grade the papers I write the grades down on the slips as I grade. I then have a list of all the grades, and don't have to go back through the stack of papers in order to put them in the grade book. I'm sure what I am about to say sounds crazy, but I have three copies of my grades. The first is the slips, second is a paper grade book, and the third is my official online grade book. I know this sounds obsessive, BUT during my first year of teaching my online grade book CRASHED. My grades were lost! I of course had not kept any copies because I was trusting technology completely. They were able to recover my grades but it took about a week, and I was a basket case trying to recreate the grades until then. NEVER going to go through that stress again!

So after I have graded the assignments and written the grades on the slips, I then record the grades in my paper grade book. At that point, I then return the assignments. Once or twice a week, I sit down and type my grades from the paper grade book into my online grade book. I'm not going to suggest for everyone to keep three copies of their grades. BUT please, please, please keep a written copy of all your grades. My obsessiveness to keeping my copies actually paid off a few weeks ago. When the tornado hit the technology building in our district, it hit our server. Once again, my and all the other teachers' grades were LOST. Luckily, I had no problem replacing my grades, but many others in my building had no copies and had to scramble!   

Hope you enjoyed reading my tips!

Five for Friday- June 7th

After a couple weeks of a constant grumpy mood I finally feel back to myself. I spent the last week hanging out at Girl Scout Day Camp, and it has done wonders for helping me find my smile. With that said, I am happily joining in for this week's Five for Friday with Doodle Bugs Teaching!


 Last Friday night I missed Five for Friday because we were packed up in the car trying to get a few miles South out of the path of a really bad storm. As traumatizing as it was for the adults, my German Shepard, Missy, loved the several hour car ride!

Many of the trees in my neighborhood didn't survive the storms real well. The first picture is of the pile right outside my house of cut down trees. There are so many piles just like this all over town. The other pictures are of my shed out back. We're not sure what happened, but we think it may have been a trampoline that hit the shed.



Despite all the sad piles of trees, I am enjoying my roses (the few that weren't destroyed by the storm.) I can't wait for a few weeks for the roses to grow back!

This week I got to spend my days at Girl Scout Day Camp! I had a blast with my unit "Zany Zebras!" We learned and explored animal habitats and did tons of zebra crafts. Even though it rained a few of the days, I couldn't have asked for a better week.


The BEST part of my week was getting to spend time with two of my nieces while we are at day camp. Here they are learning how to spin plates and dressing up as clowns during a relay race. I love those silly, sweet, and awesome girls!

Hope your week was as fabulous as mine!


Monday, June 3, 2013

Just keep swimming...

I'm officially on the start of my second week of summer vacation. I wish I could say that I'm having the best summer ever, but man this vacation makes me miss working. I hate sounding so negative, but it has been an awful few weeks for my city and state.

I spent most of last week cleaning the house because it was getting a little out of control. I also spent an afternoon helping call all our students to see who would or would not be coming back after our terrible tornado. We have many who lost homes or have severe damage. Then on Friday night, guess what comes through Oklahoma again?!? Another tornado! This one was headed for my house. We got very lucky that only really strong winds hit our house. We have some tree damage and a huge hole ripped in our shed. I am very thankful for our safety, but this weather needs to stop. In the last two weeks I have about been ran down by two tornadoes and had my power out two different extended periods of time. My poor parents still don't have electricity! Once again I am very blessed as so many have it worse than I do, but this stuff is just killing my mood. If the weather doesn't settle down I may have to crash on someone's couch who lives far away from here to save my sanity.

Time for some positive ramblings. I started a TPT store last week. I only have two items so far in it, but starting one was on my summer to do list. I'll try to link it on here eventually.

This week is Girl Scout Day camp. My mom and I are the leaders for my niece's unit. We are the Zany Zebras! Today we did some cute crafts and took a "Habitat Hike." I'll try to get some pics posted throughout the week. We also had a juggler who came and taught the girls to spin plates!

Hopefully this week will help me relax and weather willing to finally begin to enjoy summer. Until then my motto borrowed from Finding Nemo is " just keep swimming, just keep swimming..." Hope you are swimming into a great week!

Monday, May 27, 2013

Must Have Mondays- Clipboards, Sticky Notes, and DP

Today I am linking up with a Touch of Twang for Must Have Mondays.

1. Clipboards

It doesn't matter what subject I am teaching, clipboards are a MUST have item. The students become super excited when they find out they get to use the clipboards during class. My one rule is that you can sit anywhere you want with your clipboard as long as you are working. They will work so much harder when they get to pick a spot and use the clipboard. They are also super helpful when students are working in small groups.


2. Sticky Notes

I love my sticky notes! I use them for everything. I have sticky notes of every size, color, and shape. I use them more than you would think possible. One small confession: I rarely share my sticky notes with my students. I know, I'm so mean.

3. Dr. Pepper

Most people need their coffee to make it through the day. My must have drink is my Dr. Pepper. On a good day Diet Dr. Pepper will do just fine, but on a bad day I need the real thing. For teacher appreciation week I received MANY Dr. Peppers. My favorite was this huge one that one of my most needy students brought me.

Those are just a few of my must haves. What is on your list?

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Summer Bucket List

I've finally processed my last week of school and have come to terms that it is officially summer break. I'm linking up with the Summer Bucket List Linky Party to share my summer goals.

I'm a list maker, so I sat down and started my to do list. After about ten minutes, this is the list I have come up with so far. I decided the reason teachers need a summer vacation is to catch up on all the work we have neglected the rest of the year.

1. Wedding

I'm marrying the most wonderful man in January, and I have very little actually done. My goal this summer is to get as much wedding planning done before I return to school. I know that more I get done this summer, the less stressed I will be as it gets closer.

2. Household

I'm not sure about you, but my house begins to become a mess about a week after Spring Break from pure lack of time to take care of it. I need to do some organizing and deep cleaning! There is NO WAY I would ever show you a picture of the mess I call a home right now.

3. School

You can see from my list above I have ALOT I want to get done for school this year. One of my top items on my list is to work on my Interactive Reading Notebook. I started it this year before I even knew it was called an Interactive Notebook. I want to spend some time finding really good resources to add to it for each of the Common Core skills.

I also want to start a TPT store. I have an account and frequently download other teacher's fabulous ideas, but I have yet to start adding my own things. Any advice on how best to do this would be greatly appreciated. I also plan on really committing myself to blogging and blog stalking to get some great ideas for next year.


4. Fun

In addition to cleaning, wedding planning, and working on stuff for school, I really need some fun time. My biggest need right now is sleep! I could seriously sleep a week straight, and I MIGHT begin to feel less exhausted. I also want to get some reading, sewing, and crafting done. In addition to fun time for me, I also plan on spending at least one day a week (if not more) volunteering to help my fellow Oklahomans with tornado relief. I have several coworkers and many more students who lost homes in the storm and can use as much help as possible.

Whew, my Summer Bucket List is a little scary with how much is on it. Maybe I should throw the whole thing away and just sleep this summer?!? Nah, I guess I'll go get started on some of my items on my Bucket List. What's on your Summer Bucket List?

Friday, May 24, 2013

My Journey with Organization

I'm pretty sure I have said it before, but I will say it again. Organization is my biggest enemy. Each year I try a little harder to make it all work. I figure by the time I retire I MIGHT have everything in my room an organized masterpiece. Okay, probably not even then. With that said I am linking up with Fun in Room 4B for an Optimum Organization linky.

Most of the ideas I'm going to share I got from Pinterest last summer. Some worked really well, and others would be considered an epic fail.


No Name Board

I can't even begin to describe how this simple board has saved my sanity. All I do is clip the no name papers to the board. No more trying to play detective, having to ask each class if it belongs to one of them, and somehow keeping up with the paper until it's claimed. I can't believe how simple, yet truly helpful this has been.

Teacher Desk Organizer 

I love, love, love my teacher crate. I have a file for everything I could possibly need during my day. It makes it super easy for me to put something where it goes as soon as I get it and avoid large piles of paper on my desk. I made the mistake of putting it on the side of my desk at the start of the year. Since it was out of sight, out of mind, I rarely used it and had the dreaded pile problem. However, once I moved it to the front of my desk, I have been so happy I made it.


Days of the Week Organizer

I did not want to pay for a simple container with the days of the week on it, so I created my own. I have really enjoyed having this. I can put the supplies for each day in the correct box and have my whole week ready at my fingertips. One problem I have been facing is I don't always fully clean it out from the week before so sometimes the containers get really full.


My Teacher Binder

I like so many of you decided to create a really cute teacher binder for this year. I have super cute labels and dividers between each section. However, unlike many of you, I have HATED my teacher binder. First of all my two inch binder has probably three inches worth of "stuff" in it. I also rarely have the time to put each new thing in it's spot, so it just gets shoved in the front. Then I have to sit down and spend at least an hour reorganizing the thing. Also, I have such a hard time finding things that go in multiple categories. For instance CRT and Gates scores, did I put them under Student Info or Assessment Info? I finally gave up lugging the thing back and forth about February.

Even with all my trials and tribulations with my teacher binder, I will not be giving up on it. I brought it home to clean out this summer and spend some time perfecting my system. A few things I have learned to help those of you who decide to create one.

1. Limit the scope of the binder to only things you really need portable. Did I really need the master copies of each assignment and the answer key in my binder? No! I should have never put the master in it and removed the answer key when I was finished with the grading.

2. Create categories that are clearly defined and be consistent. Don't put one set of test scores in one section and the next in a different section. You will drive yourself mad!

3. Organize it EVERY DAY. Do not wait until you have an inch of unfilled papers in the front to organize it. Otherwise you will spend more time looking for what you need.

These are just a few new ideas I tried this year to solve a problem/problems I had been having. I'm sure I'll be looking (stalking) to try to get some new ideas for next year!