Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Hope My Dentist Isn't Reading This

The hubs went to Cali a few weeks ago and brought back a ridiculous amount of some salt water taffy.  I immediately started to wonder where in the world we might keep said taffy.  I remembered this cute hurricane I picked up forever ago on clearance at Target.  The taffy darn near filled 'er up.  I remember thinking we would never be able to eat all this taffy.  I was wrong.  So much for my cute candy container decor. 

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Weekend Wrap Up

This has been a fast, furious, and fabulous weekend.  My hubs surprised me with a little impromptu date night on Friday.  We went to dinner at Molly's Landing, it's been around forever, but this was my first trip.  The restaurant is a bit of a drive, so on the  way back in we stopped at Hard Rock Casino to meet some friends.  It was a fun night out, especially when I thought we would just be spending a low key evening at home. 

Saturday I had to go pick out a birthday present for the last of my high school friends to turn 40.  We were at the mall and I picked up the new jean leggings from Gap.  These things are so comfy! They are going to be a wardrobe staple this fall.  I saw several other things I'm adding to my fall wish list, these being numero uno.  I was hoping to grab a nap before the birthday party, but it didn't happen.  It was fun celebrating and catching up with old friends.

Today was grocery shopping and cleaning house.  I made macaroni and cheese and roasted broccoli for dinner.  Both recipes came from Pinterest and they did not disappoint.  My daughter even had seconds on the broccoli, it was that good.  This girl doesn't eat seconds of anything, especially something green.  We got everything cleaned up and got settled in to watch True Blood.  It's still one of my favorites, but guys, more vampires please.  Less witchcraft.  More blood sucking. 

Hope you had a fun weekend!  Make it a great week.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Where it All Goes Down

Over on Teacher Week it's time to show off where we get down to business. Welcome to my classroom!  Please excuse the quality, or lack thereof, of these photos.  I took them with my phone so they aren't the greatest.  I don't have much up on my walls yet since we just started school.  I like to hang things throughout the year, not have the walls filled with a bunch of "stuff" just to take up space. 

This is the view standing on the tile by the lockers looking into my desk area.  The magnetic letters on the whiteboard will be the headings for the word wall words that we hang up every week.  The round table is where I will do small group work and student conferencing for reading and writing.  This year I have covered the digital clock (do you spy with your little eye that owl hanging out over the SmartBoard?)  I hung an analog clock so the kids would get more practice telling time.  It's taking some getting used to, even for me. You can see a small part of the rug we gather on for large group lessons, class meetings, and read alouds. 
I use tables instead of desks so the seat sacks are where the kids keep their journal, pencil bags, and a few other items.  The caddies on the tables are used for the Unfinished Work folders that you see and eventually will hold math books too.  This is the first year in awhile that I haven't done "community supplies".  We had such a hard time last year with kids breaking pencils and crayons, poking holes in erasers, and not taking care of the supplies in general.  We thought maybe giving everyone their own pencil bag with supplies in it would cut down on that since they will take ownership of their things. The white bags are their Guided Reading bags.  The kids "shop" the classroom library once a week and keep their books in these bags.  This cuts down on any hustle and bustle in the classroom during the reading block.
In years past I have used the Helper of the Day concept, using one student per day to do the big jobs in the classroom.  This year, along with my fabulous team, I decided to come up with actual jobs for more than one student to do. We came up with actual job titles to go with each of the jobs and the jobs will be filled by the same student for the week.

This is the classroom library where I have tubs labeled using Guided Reading Levels.  See that cute directors chair?  The teacher I interned with 18 years ago painted it for me and I still love it.  I have collected most of my books through Scholastic bonus points over the years.  It's a big job keeping the library organized!  As a matter of fact, one of the jobs on the class job chart is that of Librarian.  

This bulletin board is a new one that I'm hoping is going to be an interactive way for my students to recognize each other for displaying our school's 3 core values: Be Safe, Respectful, and Responsible.  I put Post It's in the basket that they can use to write down what they observe and they can stick them to the corresponding sheet at the bottom and once a week we will celebrate the names on the board.  At least that's my plan, as I said it's a new concept and it may need some tweaking.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Teacher Talk Tuesday

Today is about giving advice to new teachers.  The best advice I can, and do, give to all interns that I work with or new teachers that I mentor is: do nothing until procedures are in place. If that means math has to wait, or that book doesn't get read, so be it.  A teacher can make or break the entire school year based on the decisions he or she makes in the first few weeks of school.  To save your sanity, spend time at the beginning of the school year telling, explaining, modeling, and reminding students what the expectations are for your classroom.  Make charts with those expectations on them and refer to them often.  Students should know what is expected of them when they need to use the restroom or get a drink, when they can sharpen their pencils, what their voice level should be for certain activities, what to do when they finish with work...basically just WHAT TO DO in general.  Many new teachers make the fatal mistake of trying to be the fun or the cool teacher and this can backfire on you.  Kids need boundaries and they feel more confident in their learning when they know what is expected of them. Set clear expectations and consistent consequences and your students will thrive (and yes, they will still love you.)

Anchor charts, like this one with voice levels on it, are helpful reminders throughout the year.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Teacher Week

I'm joining in on Teacher Week over at Blog Hoppin' this week. Today is "Meet the Teacher" day. I just had my real Meet the Teacher last week so a virtual one sounds fun! I am National Board Certified and have been teaching for 17 years. I teach a 2nd/3rd grade loop at a Title I Community School in Oklahoma. Today is my first day of school and I expect it to go fairly smoothly since I am teaching 3rd grade this year. One of the benefits of looping is that the majority of my class was with me last year for 2nd grade. The kids know the classroom expectations and procedures, cutting down on a lot of the beginning of school "housekeeping" stuff that goes on those first weeks. I teach with a really fun team and that sure does help! It's more fun to go to work when you genuinely enjoy the people you work with. I am looking forward to reading all the posts about going back to school! I'm most excited about the classroom tours, it's so fun to see classrooms all over the place and steal borrow ideas from each other.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Back To School

Yes, it's that time again.  I start each new school year with mixed emotions.  I'm really never ready to go back to work, but once I'm back at it I start to remember why I chose teaching as a profession.  It's not always easy, and it certainly isn't glamorous, but I can make a difference every day.  My principal sent this letter to the entire staff through email and it really spoke to me. It's written by author Lester Laminack, a retired educator.  I thought I would share it with you guys...

Dear teachers

take a moment as this new year begins

remember that each child coming our way

bleeds when he is cut

bruises when he falls

giggles when he is tickled

sighs when he is hugged

laughs when he hears a joke

No matter which bus he rides

or which neighborhood he comes from

or what skin he arrives in

he is human

he is you

he is me

we all are one

teach him as you would your own

expect him to be successful

be patient with his development

be kind in your actions

be supportive with your comments

each child coming our way

will mirror the best we have to offer

Dear teachers

I wish you a year of insight,

Lester Laminack

Monday, August 15, 2011

Veg Out

My 16 year old daughter has expressed interest in the vegetarian lifestyle.  In the past, I would have tried to discourage her because it isn't how the rest of our family eats, and I frankly didn't know much about it.  Thanks to the blogosphere, I have been reading lots of good vegetarian blogs and have even made recipes from them.  Even though we do eat meat and will continue to do so, I don't think it hurts to have a few meatless meals per week.  I ordered Living Vegetarian for Dummies along with the new Peas and Thank You cookbook.  I was introduced to the Peas and Thank You blog very recently and just totally fell in love with it.  This was even before the daughter decided to go veg.  I have already made a few of the recipes from the book, and I have ingredients bought for others I've flagged.  This is the perfect book for beginners of the vegetarian lifestyle because the food is YUMMY! I have made some substitutions for a few of the ingredients because "Mama Pea" is vegan and that's not the route we are going over here.  I'm just using regular cheeses and milk where she would use alternatives, but the recipes are really easy to make and taste great.  I would love to hear from any of you who eat vegetarian, shout out your best tips or favorite resources. 

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Blackberry Puree'

I had some blackberries that had seen better days in my fridge.  I hate wasting good produce so I threw them in my blender with a little water and some sugar.  You can do this with any berries and the results are delish.  It's great over ice cream, pound cake, and adds a special touch to cocktails. I poured the puree through a sieve because blackberries have so many seeds.  You can skip this step if the seeds don't bother you.
Store it in the fridge in an airtight container, notice my fancy Snapple bottle. I'll give you a hint on one of my favorite ways to use this puree'.  If you're wondering why I didn't take a photo once I filled my glass, I'll just say I was preoccupied!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Pinterest Find

I made these caprese baked egg cups for brunch today. I'm really not so fancy that I prepare brunch.  I'm actually just being so lazy that I slept too late for breakfast but was too hungry to wait for lunch. I followed the recipe exactly and they turned out perfectly! Click right on the picture at the top to take you to the recipe, definitely worth a try.
Here's how mine turned out.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Happy Birthday Mom

I am very fortunate to have both my parents healthy, happy, and close by.  My sister moved to BFE down the turnpike a few years ago, but again, I am so lucky that she comes home often.  We celebrated mom's birthday together yesterday in the only way you can possibly celebrate in this Oklahoma heatwave...in the pool! Remember my Greek Salad addiction?  Well, I pushed it on the fam for mom's poolside dinner. Dad grilled the chicken to perfection but wasn't happy when he became privy to the fact that we were having salad. for dinner.  I made him have a little bite and let's just say he had 3 helpings I don't think he hated it.  Dinner was followed up with mom's annual mint chocolate ganache brownie cake.  Good thing we had that salad for dinner, huh?  Stay cool.  I don't mean that in the 8th grade yearbook signing kind of way.  I literally mean STAY COOL. 
The birthday girl and the salad hater