Friday, December 30, 2011

Top 11 of 2011 Linky Party

I'm practically buried in boxes...but I need a break. So, I'm linkin' up with Hadar and Kristin for my Top 11 of 2011. Thanks for hosting, ladies! Please visit the linky party to read many more Top 11 posts.

11.  Favorite Movie I've Watched
That is kind of funny... I don't watch many movies.  I honestly can't remember one movie that I watched in 2011 other than Cars 2 (was that this year?).  I know, call it what you want.  It's not that I don't like movies.  I don't like movie theaters...and I'm a busy, busy girl.  I am going to watch The Help very soon (I hope).  I just got it for Christmas from my husband.   I loved the book and I can't wait to watch the movie!

10. Favorite TV Series
Does Little House on the Prairie count? I think that is about the last time I watched a series on a regular basis... I do try to watch Greys Anatomy from time to time.  How sad is it that I can't even tell you if that is on anymore?  Oy vey...

9.  Favorite Restaurant
I actually have a few of these!  My favorite is Casa Rio on the Riverwalk in San Antonio.  Yum, yum, double yum!  Ahhhhh....  it's just a bit of a trip from Michigan (where I live).  I LOVE mexican food!  La Fuentes is my favorite local mexican eatery.

8.  Favorite New Thing You've Tried
 Well, bloggin... of course!!!  Less than a year ago, I spontaneously (which is SO not like me) made a decision to just try to make a blog one Saturday afternoon.  Good Golly Miss Molly - it worked!  And... with a little help from my new bloggy friends I was a real blogger!

7. Favorite Gift You Received
For my birthday this year, my husband, my daughter and my son gave me a ring with 2 aquamarine stones (which is the birthstone for all three of them).  It has my daughter's name engraved on one side and my son's on the other side.  I love it!

6.  Favorite Thing You've Pinned
I love ribbon, pretty colors and glass jars!  As soon as I saw this, I had to pin it.  It almost made me buy more ribbon and a few more jars so I could make my own display.  Then I remembered... oh yeah the moving thing. :) I'm dreaming of a craft room with these on a shelf in my next house.


5.  Favorite Blog Post
I think my favorite post was my super spelling slipper post.  Yep - those are my silky red Target dollar spot slippers in the middle.  And even though I've seen this (my) picture on another blog recently claiming that it's hers (rude).  It's actually mine.  Wow - I've been holding that in until after Santa came.  Ooops - it slipped out.  I do love my super spelling slippers and so do my students.

  4.  Favorite Accomplishment
 I can't say until next week after the closing on our house...our house has been on the market for 2 years.  Me, my husband, our children and Violet (vacuum #4 in the 2 year time that our house was on the market) will be super happy that  "showing mode" is OvEr!  Fingers crossed... and a few prayers please since we moved in a rental yesterday (because we can't find a house to buy - imagine that?).  Ughhh...  so my accomplishment will be that if the house closes when it's supposed to next week (fingers crossed and lots of prayers)... I am a survivor of 2 years and 154 showings (and move #1 one in the winter to a Polly Pocket sized rental).  Now you know why I haven't had time to watch movies or post lately.

3.  Favorite Picture
This is one of the 407 pictures from our 15 day college roomie visit/Disney trip/Bahamas cruise adventure this summer.  We had so much fun and were so proud of our kids each day on the trip... good manners, grateful, cooperative.  We are truly lucky and Donavon is extremely patriotic.  That explains why he appears to be saying the Pledge of Allegiance right in front of the Carnival Casino.  I'm actually joking.  I have no idea what he was doing... but he's still so darn cute.

2.  Favorite Memory
I can't possible pick just one.  That's probably against the rules... oh well.
Marissa's dance recital

our biking trip around Mackinac Island with my parents
Donavon's 1st day of Kindergarten (with a nervous tummy and expression) captured in a frame
the 2011 family race to find the perfect Christmas tree
It was a very good year!

1.  Goals for 2012
find a house (with lots of character) to buy SOON
exercise more
find some patience
finish the blanket I've been knitting for 2 years
simplify everything
watch a few movies
listen (not so good at that)
stop whining about moving - after all it's part of our "plan"

figure out how to love math work stations like everyone else
find more time to work with my incredible team
reorganize (and label) my writer's workshop mentor texts
convince my principal to let me stay in 1st grade :)

I'm so grateful for all of the other teacher/bloggers who have inspired me this year!  I've made lots of new friends, tried lots of new things and learned so very much.  Enjoy your last day of 2011 and link up with Kristin and Hadar if you haven't already!  It's been a year full of adventure.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Currently December

I'm linking up with Farley from Oh Boy, Fourth Grade for her Currently December linky party. You can find out what is "currently" going on with lots of other bloggers by visiting Oh Boy, Fourth Grade. Go on, link up!

You can visit A Cupcake for the Teacher by clicking on her button below.  I'm a new follower and am lovin' her ideas!

A Cupcake for the Teacher

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Holiday Writing Pack Freebie

Just in case you're still in school this week (like me - boooo)... I thought I'd post this set of quick holiday writing activities that I shared while I was a guest on Farley's blog last week. Was that last week? I don't even know. I'm so buried in boxes that I don't even know what day it is.

I'm planning on having a really normal week with my students (wishful thinking, right)...until Thursday (which is our last day).  On Thursday, I'm gonna get crazy and have all kinds of fun with my darlings before the winter break. 

Thursdays lesson plan:  pajama day, teacher made chocolate chip pancakes, a walking field trip to visit our 6th grade buddies and a movie (about a book we read recently of course).   I'm pretty sure my principal still believes in kids having fun for special days.  I'll throw the spelling test and some math games in there somewhere to protect my reputation. :)

Now...I better get back to packing.  Seriously, this moving over the holidays thing is horrible.  No need to feel sorry for me though.  I'm doing a good job of that all by myself.  Ughhhhhh...    A nun, who was my principal as a child, once told me that if I'm ever feeling overwhelmed I should quickly think of 3 good things to help me avoid sinning.  How did she know that stress makes me swear?  I'm thinkin' maybe she feels like swearing when she is stressed too, huh?  Probably not.

Three good things:
 1.  Even though we can't find a house to buy at the moment, we found a rental (which is the perfect size for Polly Pocket dolls - but my husband says I need to stop saying that).  It's shelter and it's really quite nice...just tiny.

2.  I've donated more this year than I have in my entire life.  I'm sick of packing things in boxes, so I just keep filling up my vehicle and driving to the  donation drop off door at Goodwill.  The teenager at Goodwill asked me if I was "leaving the country or something".   So far, no one in the family has asked me for anything that I "dropped off" without their permission.

3. My break from school is 17 days.  How did that happen?  There must have been some kind of mistake (which I am so grateful for).  And... I'm gonna be so busy moving that I won't have time to worry about winter break reading level regression.

There... thank you Sister Mary M. for reminding me to remember the good things.  I better throw my pj's in the wash and pack my syrup for the festivities this week! 

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Has TBA been a valuable resource for you?

Teaching Blog Addict (TBA) has changed my teaching (and blogging) life!  I am truly grateful for friends, resources, inspiration and opportunities TBA has added to my life.  TBA is in the running for an award to be the Best Group Blog on EduBlogs. Tamara, the founder of TBA, is one of the sweetest and most hard working educators I know.

And Erin, author of Kleinspiration (and a fellow TBA author and Michigander), is also in the running for an EduBlog award. Erin's blog is like no other teaching blog and every post is filled with fabulous resources and inspiration. Kleinspiration is up for the Best New Blog award.

Please take a moment today to vote for these outstanding blogs to give them the recognition they truly deserve!

You can vote by clicking on the link below. It's quick and easy... I promise.

You can visit TBA and Kleinspiration by clicking below.


And...don't forget to head over to Oh Boy, Fourth Grade to enter the 12 Days of Christmas giveaways!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Hope to See You for The Big Giveaway!

I'm a guest on Farley's blog Oh Boy, Fourth Grade today! I'd love it if you'd head over to enter my giveaway. I'm giving away a mini organizer from Thirty One Gifts!
You'll need to enter all of your comments on Farley's blog (Oh Boy, Fourth Grade to win). Hurry...did I mention there are 12 giveaways (from 11 different bloggers) because it's the 12 Days of Christmas! One the last day, one lucky blogger will have a chance to win every single one of the prizes. Hope to see you soon!

Here's a peek at the prize for my giveaway!
Please head on over!  It's super easy to enter.   I'd love for you to visit and I'm crossin' my fingers that you win!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Holiday Hop Freebie

Just a quick post today.  I am one tired teacher, mom, wife, packer (remember, we're moving over the holidays).  I decided to repost this addition (+1) game that I posted in July for TBA's Christmas in July. You can download it by clicking on the image below if you'd like a copy.

Hope some of you can use the game with your students.  I better get back to packin' since I can't seem to convince Last Minute Louie (my husband) that my packing priority system is the most efficient way to keep us organized and on schedule.  The good news is that I'm on a first name basis (but not my real name, of course) with the teenager that works at the donation drop off door in the back of the local Goodwill store.  I totally dig throwing stuff away (I mean... donating it so I don't have to pack it).

Don't forget to stop by Oh Boy, Fourth Grade to visit...especially tomorrow since it's my turn to post!  Actually, you should head over now to enter the AMAZING 12 Days of Christmas giveaways that have already been posted and then again tomorrow to make sure I have friends to support me when I introduce myself to the Farley crew.  I'm 31 kinds of excited about my giveaway!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

One of Those Days...

Have you ever had one of those days weeks? You know...when you go to pick up your students from a special class and you are greeted with all the negative news (as if you didn't notice that aliens had snatched the good behavior that you so carefully spent the past 3 months modeling).  Or when at least half the class keeps asking you, "Where should I put my paper when I'm finished?"  - even though the "Hooray for You" basket has been the destination for every piece of finished work since September 7.  It's when you start to wonder how this could happen when just a few days ago things were going so well?   Then there are those emails you get every once in a while...enough said.  Did I mention that the heat was broken (mysteriously...only in my room) and it's been between 60 and 64 degrees in my classroom all week?

My solution to all of this... head straight to my thank you basket.
15 years of thank you cards from super nice parents!
thankful therapy (and lots of happy memories with kids) in a cute basket

I am getting excited about my guest post (and giveaway) over at Oh Boy, Fourth Grade on Saturday!  I'm part of Farley's 12 Days of Christmas.  PLEASE stop by to visit me there to enter the giveaway!  I'm a little nervous about posting something for Farley fans to read.  After all, most 4th graders are taller than me and I have no idea how to teach them anything.  You'll come visit, right (please)? You're not going to want to miss my giveaway (and you can still enter all the giveaways from day 1 on by visiting her blog).

Back to my thankful therapy.  I wonder if these parents know how much their kind words mean to me (especially on alien snatching days). 

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Whose Your Daddy?

Now that I have your attention... my kids were super proud of their "daddy" last night! My husband (you know...the handy one...oh wait the only one) was one of the stars for a fundraiser for his school district. Jeff (the handy husband who happens to have some serious moves for an "old" guy) is a middle school teacher. About 25 of the staff members from his school rocked it out last night at School of Rock.  The audience went CRAZY when the middle school staff hit the stage.  The one in the middle... that's my husband...Go Jeff! 

Groups from different schools in the district competed.  Audience members voted at the end for their favorite school.  My husbands school won and left with a big fat check to support their literacy program.  Whose your daddy?  Well, he's our daddy glittery headband and all!  Love you, honey!

Now... I'm 31 kinds of excited about the 12 days of Christmas Giveaways at Oh Boy, Fourth Grade!
Ooops.... I think I just let my secret out.  Oh well... hurry!  There is a giveaway each day.  I'm Day 10 and I'm hoping lots of you will stop over there to visit me.

Off to get my Christmas tree, go to the holiday parade and I guess I better pack some boxes.  Happy Saturday!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

12 Days of Christmas Giveaways!!!

12 Giveaways in 12 days - WHAT?!?!?! It's true!! Farley from Oh Boy, Fourth Grade is hosting the 12 Days of Christmas - which means 12 fabulous giveaways for the next 12 days! Farley (who is fabulous, funny and super creative) and 9 other AMAZING bloggers (and me - that's 11) are teaming up for the 12 Days and 12 giveaways!

I'm honored to be included with this fabulous list of ladies for the 12 Days of Christmas! The best news is that I didn't even have to campaign for votes to be on this list (well kind of - thank you, Kristin!).

You'll find the giveaways on Farley's blog - Oh Boy, Fourth Grade! Be sure to stop by each day for the next 12 days. Each day, one of the bloggers on the list below will be doing a guest post and hosting a giveaway on Farley's blog. I'll be doing my guest post on day 10. On the final day, the giveaway will be an absolutely huge amazing don't want to miss it for anything kind of giveaway!

I'm so excited about my giveaway already! I'm kind of bad horrible at keeping secrets... I hope I don't ruin the surprise. How about tomorrow I give you a tiny little hint? I probably shouldn't... ok, maybe I will. on the image below and head on over to Oh Boy, Fourth Grade to enter today's giveaway before it's too late.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Short Vowel Personal Reader Stories

I use personal reader folders with many of the students in my room each year. Each student in my room (who is not already reading above grade level at the beginning of the year) has their own personal reader folder. I select short stories with simple patterned text (that I write myself) to include in each students folder, depending on their individual needs. During small group time, students work with their personal reader folders as part of their guided reading time. The personal reader folders are just a simple folder on the outside.

This is a picture of one of my personal reader folders.
Repetition, repetition, repetition.... and focused text selection are the reasons that I use personal readers with my students. You can find an old post about my first set of personal readers stories by clicking here.

I have two different sets of personal reader stories available to purchase at my Tpt and Teachers Notebook shops.  Both sets (and all of my other products) are on sale for 15% off from now through Monday, 11/28. 
This is the first set.  It focuses on basic sight words.
This is the new set and it is a bit more difficult than the first set.  It focuses on short vowel word families and basic sight words.

Back to cheering for my favorite football team.  Go Bucks!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Reading Ticket Freebie has been super relaxing (unlike the past few weeks). I apologize. I've pretty much been a loser of a blogger in the past few weeks. I'm trying not to complain publicly about something that we've been waiting for for two years...but just a few words can explain the extra stress. We're moving over the holidays. Let's just say that the normal to-do list that races in my head at night (while the rest of the world sleeps) is rather out of control this month. I'm trying not to panic about the fact that our house finally has a contract and we can't seem to find a house to purchase at the moment...because NO ONE moves over the holidays (except us, right?). It will all work out... it was our choice to sell our current house and this was all part of the plan.  Deep breaths...

Soooo....although I'm enjoying this long weekend with my family...I am also looking forward to getting back to the classroom to cram in as much learning as I can before the next holiday break.

My students will begin using reading tickets during quiet reading time next week.   Quiet reading time has so many names, doesn't it?   I don't know why I call it "quiet reading time", because I don't really want my kids to be quiet.  I do expect them to be actively reading the entire time.  To keep everyone on task (starting about now for my 1st graders), I use quiet reading tickets.  At the beginning of quiet reading time each day, I give each student a quiet reading ticket.  The students are expected to read to 4 different students and get signatures for their own reading ticket.  It's not super quiet.  It doesn't look like traditional DEAR time.  But, kids are actively engaged in reading to each other and it holds them accountable.  It works for me and my students.

I made these "winter themed" reading tickets to use with my students in the next couple months.  You can click on the picture below if you'd like to download them.

I just finished another set of Personal Reader stories that I'm hoping to post on Teachers Notebook and Tpt tomorrow.  Don't forget...I'm having a 15% sale from now until Monday.

Boxes, packing tape and labels...oh my!  :)

Thanksgiving Weekend Sale!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Traveling Books and 5 Senses Poetry

My students make several traveling books each year. The students in my class take each traveling book (which are basically class books) home one at a time. I send a note with the traveling book that basically says the student should read the book to their family and return the book to school the very next day.

Since we've been working on writing poetry, we made a traveling book 
out of the poems the children wrote about Halloween. 

The poems they wrote are in the 5 senses format. We used one of the poetry forms from my Seasonal 5 Senses Poetry Forms pack to do the original writing and their poems became published pieces when we put them in our book. Next week, we will be using the Thanksgiving 5 senses form from the same pack. Throughout the year, we work on adding details and really making our poems sparkle with interesting adjectives.  My students become really familiar with the 5 senses format over time, which allows us to focus more on word choice.  I also keep a copy of each of the 5 senses poems each student wrote throughout the year.  At the end of the year, each student is given a book of the seasonal poems they wrote to take home.

You can click on the image below to see this item in my Tpt store.  It is also available at my Teachers Notebook shop.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Story Mapping

One of the things I will be working on a lot during reader's workshop time in the next couple months is story mapping. My students do a great job identifying the characters in a story (thank you, kindergarten). I just started to focus on the setting, the problem and any solutions.

Here is a picture of the anchor chart that I laminated, so I can just add/remove post-it notes each time we use it for a different story.  I confess... I'm addicted to scrapbook paper.  I use it for almost everything (other than it's intended purpose - I can't seem to fit that into my schedule).  I also confess
a lot (I'm Catholic), but not to the priest several times a year (like I'm "supposed to).  Oy vey...

We're using our story map anchor chart with Amelia Bedelia Talks Turkey this week.  

Here is the story map recording sheet that my students use.  You can click on the image if you'd like to download it.  I hope it's useful to someone (other than me).

Monday, November 14, 2011

An Amazing Surprise

For once, I'm nearly speechless. I just received news that my blog was chosen as one of the Top 10 Teaching Blogs on I am shocked and honored. You can read about my blog (and 9 other blogs that I admire) by clicking on the link below.

Find the best blogs at

Less than a year ago, I decided to "mess around" with blogger one day and attempt to create my own blog. Before ya know it, I had a blog with a name that my mom and my daughter helped me choose.   Then came the new design, from Kristen at Ladybug Teaching Resources. The stars must have been aligned just right a few days later when I was accepted as an author for TBA.  Within another month, I had Tpt store. A couple months later I started a Teachers Notebook shop as well. My favorite part of this blogging journey...I now have a network of supportive teachers and friends from all around the country (and even different parts of the world). I have learned so much from other teachers who generously share their ideas and resources.

Thank you for reading my blog!  Today is for sure my lucky day.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

I need help (please)!

Help! I only have 2 more days to try to reach 1st place!!!! Remember, I have the competitive curse. My blog is currently in 2nd place. I would be super grateful if you'd help me by voting! You can vote 1 time each day until Tuesday, Nov. 8.

And the sweetest thing just happened to me...Mrs. Kennedy from The Kennedy Korral just left a message for me. Her blog is currently in 3rd place and she is asking her voters to vote for my blog help push me into 1st place! What!?!? Yep, that's right! I'm declaring that a random act of kindness and an example of good sportsmanship.  Thank you, Mrs. Kennedy!

 Please vote by clicking on the image below or on my sidebar!

I would like to thank the staff in my district (and in my hometown), friends, bloggin' buddies and family for voting, posting and cheering me all the way to my current spot.  It's not over yet... please continue to vote!!!