School Week and Let's Get Acquainted

Two blog posts in two days...who am I?! I will begin with my favorite read alouds in linking up with Tracey over at The Teacher's Chair and her fabulous School Week Linky! 

Favorite, now that means just a hand full, right? I can't just take a picture of the two totes full of my personal read alouds that do not go anywhere near my classroom library? Ok seriously, some of my faves are: 
This is a fairly new book, released in 2012. I used it with my third graders last year as an inference lesson. Before reading the text, we looked at all of the illustrations in great detail and tried to tell the story ourselves. Then I read the story and compared it with our initial predictions/inferences. Eventually, we watched the short film. My student teacher/para was out on the day that I read this and the kiddos could not wait to tell her about it when she returned. This was one of their favorites, for sure. It quickly became one of my all time favorites. 

I have always been rather hesitant to read Edward Tulane to my third graders, but last summer at the reading clinic, I read this book to students going into 4th and 5th grade. They were struggling readers and probably could have read it, but would have missed out on the comprehension if they read it independently. I had to do quite a bit of clarifying with vocabulary words and activating schema, but the kiddos got really into it and fell in love. I am looking forward to getting to share this book as a read aloud with my new 4th graders this year. 

 I think The Polar Express speaks for itself - no explanation needed!

I have read Sideways Stories from Wayside School for the last couple of years to my third grade classes. They L-O-V-E it! Never fails to crack them all up and the extra copies that are in my classroom library are always scoffed right up as students like to follow along and try to read ahead. It is a fun one, for sure!

I could go on all day, but I won't do that to all of you. The pictures of the books above are links to them on Amazon. 

Moving on to Latoya's Let's Get Acquainted linky. This week it is Upcoming School Year Goals! Latoya's blog is Flying Into First. 

#1 - Learn everyone's name 
I am working in a new school this year, so I know very few people. It is weird to think back six years ago to starting a new job, but I do remember worrying about keeping track of who-is-who. So hopefully I will learn everyone's names quickly!

#2 - Be organize and efficient 
I have always prided myself on being organized in my classroom, but teaching a new grade level this year, I am going to need to be more organized and efficient than ever. I will also have to be evaluated for the next 3 years, being a "new teacher" again. BOO!! Yet another reason to be very, very organized with the new evaluation system in place in my state. 

#3 - Parent communication and involvement
I am coming from a school where getting in touch with parents was like pulling teeth and getting parents involved and coming to school was even more difficult. The school that I will be teaching at this year has much more parent involvement, so I would like to be better at communicating openly and frequently with parents and getting them into school in meaningful ways! 

Enough about me, now it's your turn. If you haven't done so already, head over to The Teacher's Chair to link up with the School Week Linky and Flying into First to Get Acquainted

Thanks for reading! 


Linkies and a Freebie

I wish I could add a couple of hours to the day just for blogging. You would think that with it being summer I would have more time to blog...why is this not the case? Friday is the last day of the five-week reading clinic that I have been teaching; that leaves me exactly one month before I go back to school. Hopefully I will have more time to blog then. I have been busy with some back-to-school projects though. 

First, I am linking up with Tara's Monday Made It over at 4th Grade Frolics. I love seeing everyone's new, creative projects each week and I'm excited to be able to share a couple of my own this week. 

My last blog post was about using standards and/or essential questions in the classroom. For now, I decided to go the standards route, but I might add in some essential questions when I get going in 4th grade. I am not selling these, but if you are interested in them, let me know and I'll send you the file. 

I have been seeing so many great posts and TPT items for brag tags that I decided to make up some of my own. I initially began this little project because I will have AR again this year and decided this might be a fun way for the kiddos to keep track of their points. Then I created some perfect attendance brag tags. Yesterday I decided to make name tags for the kiddos. Here is a photo of what these will look like in use. 

If you are interested, my AR brag tags are free on TPT. Here is where you can grab them or click on the picture below. I would love it if you would leave feedback if you download!

Neeeeeeeext, is the School Week Linky hosted by Tracey at The Teacher's Chair

This linky has a new topic each day this week, so be sure to click on the photo above to get in on the fun! 
For the first time this year, I ordered an Erin Condren teacher planner. Thanks to all of my Instafriends for sharing theirs and convincing me to pick one up. It was a bit pricey, but I'm in love. I cannot wait to really start using it. 

Have you signed up for the SLANT box exchange?! I did!! This is going to be so much fun, I can't wait. The ladies at Lessons with Coffee, Mrs. Price's Kindergators, and First Grade Fairytales are organizing. Head over to any of their blogs for more info on how to get some really great mail and meet two new bloggers/teachers a month. 

I promise, I am ALMOST done! One of the family's that I tutor for gave me the cutest little surprise today. These earrings are a "Congratulations on your new job" gift and I absolutely love them! In case you can't read it they say "Keep Calm and Teach On." 

Thanks for reading!


Penny for your thoughts...

I am warning you all right now, this is a terrible post...nothing new, fun, or exciting. I am trying to work on getting things going for my new classroom, while teaching for two and a half more weeks at a reading clinic, and I have a question for all of you brilliant bloggers! 

In my old school I was required to post daily standards outside my classroom door and kid-friendly "I can" statements in the classroom. At my new school, this is more personal preference and from what I understand many teachers post essential questions. 

Of course I was in the process of creating my kid-friendly statements when I decided I should ask my new teamies about this, when I learned the above information. So I am looking for thoughts on what you use/what works in your classrooms. I am between kid-friendly statements and essential questions, or maybe both (that might be overkill?)? 

Thanks for your help and when I make a decision and finish I will surely share my creations. 

Thanks for reading!


Liebster Nominations

I am so excited to be writing this post right now. This morning I received two nominations for the Liebster Award.

Two of my absolute favorite bloggers, Theresa and Robyn of Pinkadots Elementary and my newest blogger friend, Lindsay from Just Keep Teaching nominated me!

Over the course of the last few days I have been reading everyone's posts about their Liebster nominations. If you haven't read about theis yet, here's how it works:
Liebster is German for "sweet, darling, beloved." It is an award given to new blogs with less than 200 followers. 

The rules for accepting this nomination are: 

1. Link back to the blog that nominated you. 
2. Nominate 5-11 blogs with less than 200 followers. 
3. Answer the questions posted for you by the nominator. 
4. Share 11 random facts about you. 
5. Create 11 questions for your nominees. 
6. Contact your nominees by commenting on their blog or sending them an email to inform them of their nomination. 

Here are Theresa's and Robyn's questions for me:
1. What made you start blogging?
     I started blogging after reading teachers' blogs for over a year. I love reading other wonderful teacher bloggers' ideas and suggestions. I am constantly trying to do things in new, better ways in my classroom and the blogs that I stalked read helped me to do that. By starting my own blog, I hoped that some of my ideas, suggestions, and ramblings might help some other teachers out there. 

2. Name one talent you have. 
     Although I don't have much time for it anymore, I will always consider myself a dancer. I started taking ballet at 2 and as I grew I added all other kinds of dance. I competed, took serious ballet, performed in shows at school...I love it! 

3. What is your favorite subject to teach and why?
     Reading or math...reading or math...reading or math...ok, READING it is. This is always one of the most difficult questions. I will choose reading because I am constantly reading myself, for pleasure as well as educational texts. It makes me so happy when you can really see a love for reading begin to develop in your students. Sharing some of my favorite books with kids is one of my favorite parts of my job. And the great discussions that come from reading books are so rewarding!

4. If you could go on vacation anywhere in the world, where would you choose?
     Disney...I am 28 years old and I have never been to Disney. 

5. Name one book that has inspired you and explain why. 
     I really like Strategies That Work by Stephanie Harvey and Anne Goudvis. The authentic, meaningful reading instruction described in the book has had a very positive impact on my teaching style. 

6. What is your favorite tv show?
      Nashville! I love everything about it! 

7. Do you use a Mac or a PC?
     This past April I became a Mac girl :o)

8. What is your most favorite place to shop for clothes?
     Lately, I tend to do quite well at Ann Taylor LOFT. 

9. What is one thing you need to learn to become a better blogger?
     I'm not sure it is something I can learn, but I need to be better at planning and organizing my thoughts for posts. I think that with better planning, I can make my posts much more meaningful. 

10. If you weren't a teacher, what other career path might you have chosen?
     There was a brief point in high school when I thought I might want to work in marketing. I sometimes think about having a job that would have me traveling. One of my best friends in a pediatric nurse and has been working for two years as a travel nurse. A new place every 3-6 months. She is getting to travel the country; the world, actually...very cool! But I still love my job!

11. What chore do you hate doing the most?
     I hate doing dishes!

Now for Lindsay's questions:

1. What is your most fond experience in the classroom?
     This is a pretty recent one. This past school year I had a very difficult student. I worked so hard to get her to behave appropriately and work to her full potential and most days it seemed like a losing battle. On the day that I told my students that I would not be returning to their school next year, this student raised her hand amidst all of the chaos that erupted with my announcement and she said, "I just want to tell you that we all really love you and I don't think you should leave." It made me feel like she did actually realize that I was trying to help her all year and that that really did mean something to her. 

2. What lessons do you think made the biggest impact on your students?
     I think social studies lessons tend to make the biggest impact. Students are always so interested and surprised by current and historical events. 

3. Do you speak any other languages? If so, which ones?
     I speak high school Spanish. This means, I remember number words, color words, and some basic phrases. My kiddos think I am pretty hysterical when I attempt to speak Spanish. 

4. Do you own any animals?
     I do not. Someday I would like to own a furbaby...a cockapoo would be my choice. 

5. If you could choose one item for your classroom to be donated, what would it be and why?
     A document camera. I had a Smartboard and I will now have an interactive whiteboard in my new classroom, but some things just seem quicker/easier with a doc cam. 

6. How would you describe your teaching style?
     I have very high expectations for my students and my classroom is very structured, but I love to let my students have fun! Even with high expectations, I like to keep the mood light, while maintaining a well-organized, respectful classroom. 

7. How many years have you been teaching?
     This will be my 7th year. 

8. Name your top five books that EVERY classroom should own-GO!
     The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore
     14 Cows for America
     The Polar Express
     The Lorax
     Love You Forever

9. If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you pick and why?
     England - William and Kate, enough said!

10. What is your favorite memory of your childhood or your favorite teacher?
     I love all of my junior high memories. 7th and 8th grade included some amazing teachers, new experiences, and great clubs/activities: school plays, yearbook staff, dances. Two of my favorite school years. 

11. What is your favorite resource that you've ever used for teaching purposes?
     I really like ReadingA-Z and BrainPop. 

Now, 11 random facts about me:

1. I live for days at the beach - my dream is to someday own a house, or even just a tiny little shed, on the beach!

2. I have lived in the same house since I was 4 years old (except for the 4 years that I was in college). 

3. I went to college 10 minutes from home...and lived there. It was great! :o)

4. I like chocolate but I love sour candies. 

5. I spend way too much money on iced coffee. 

6. My family loves the Red Sox, I am a Yankees fan. 

7. I have a pocketbook addiction, and recently an Alex and Ani addiction. 

8. The only vegetables I eat are lettuce, potatoes, corn, and carrots (only raw carrots). 

9. I love, love, love going to country concerts! 

10. My mom is my best friend. 

11. I am a perfectionist, procrastinator, terribly stubborn, ridiculously sarcastic, and very dedicated. 

Time to nominate some AMAZING blogs. Click on the links to check them out! :o)

Kelli @ LoveN3rdGrade

Finally, the questions for my nominees. 

1. What made you decide to start your blog?

2. What was your most rewarding teaching moment?

3. What song best describes your life and why?

4. How did you know that you wanted to be a teacher?

5. What is your most favorite thing about teaching? What is your least favorite thing about teaching?

6. Name your all-time favorite read aloud book. 

7. What is the best thing about summer vacation?

8. How would you describe your teaching style?

9. What is your favorite subject to teach and why?

10. What is the best educational text you have ever read?

11. What is your favorite way to relax after a tough day at school?

Thanks so much for reading. And thanks again to Theresa, Robyn, and Lindsay. 

Congratulations to all of the Liebster nominees!


Guest Post - Guided Math Chapter 4

I everyone, I just wanted to let you all know that I am participating in my very first book study. I guest posted on Chapter 4 of Guided Math. Check out Tina's blog Mrs. Croft's Classroom to read my review of this chapter on using whole-class instruction in math.

Thanks for reading! 


Five for Friday - 1st Week of "Vacation"

Finally, my first official week of vacation buuuuut, this post is now going to be all about the summer reading clinic that I am working at. Vacation won't really be vacation until 12:00 on Friday, August 2nd.

Also, I know there isn't really a Five for Friday this week, but I actually composed this post on a Friday for once, so I am posting is anyway!
So...the reading clinic began on Monday. I was expecting to have 7 students ranging in grades from a repeating first grader to third graders. These are students who come from a low-income, inner-city school. Although this is my third summer with this program, this is first summer working in this specific location. I was warned that attendance at this location is typically pretty sporadic. I quickly learned just how true that is. On Monday, I met 3 of my 7 students. All entering 2nd grade; one of which, I quickly learned, is not yet confident identifying all letters of the alphabet. The other read at about a beginning 1st grade level. All three are sweet kiddos!

At noon, when it was time to leave, the skies opened up, just in time for my drive home. This was the WORST weather that I have ever driven in. Being from New England, I have driven in my fair share of nasty winter weather and a little rain has surely never hurt anyone. This was more than just a little rain. At times it seemed as though I couldn't even see the front of my own car. YIKES! I am working just about 15 minutes from home, a couple of cities over. When I arrived in my own town, it was a wreck. I couldn't believe the trees that were down and broken. When I finally got home, and the power was finally restored, I came to learn that just over the border in Connecticut, they had been hit by a tornado, and the opposite side of my own street had had a micro burst. Pretty scary!

This huge tree came down on this poor truck - within walking distance from my house. 

On Tuesday, I returned to the reading clinic, to have 4 students! The 4th, also entering 2nd grade, is very unsure of the alphabet. The positive is that I can group these kiddos by ability into pairs to work with them. I also quickly called my kindergarten genius of a friend for some tips because I wasn't expecting these kiddos to be quite so low. This week we do lots of assessing on the kiddos, no fun lessons quite yet.
On Wednesday, I met a fifth student! Yippee! This little lady is entering 4th grade, but reading at approximately a 1st grade level.
Thursday we were off for the 4th of July and I finally spent the whole day relaxing at the pool. And by at, I should say IN, because it was too hot to anywhere but IN the pool...but I am not complaining because it was a beautifully sunny day and I am finally looking tan again!
Today is Friday and I had a whopping TWO kiddos at the clinic! From clinic, I headed over to my kindergarten genius friend's house to get some materials and more advice. I only wish that I had more time to spend with these kiddos, I feel like the next 4 weeks, for 2 hours a day, is not going to be nearly enough to help them as much as I would like to.

These two cuties were my buddies this morning. 

Stay tuned for summer reading clinic adventures!
Thanks for reading!

P.S. I made my days of the week using SonyaDeHartDesign clipart.


Let's Get Acquainted...

I love linking up with Latoya from Flying into First Grade for her Let's Get Acquainted linky. She has the most fun ideas! This month is tic-tac-toe! Choose any three prompts, in order, just like the game. Here is the game board.

I went to _____ college and a favorite memory. 
I went to Elms College and my favorite memory is of a cruise that 5 of my friends and I went on our senior year. Several of us were working in schools, student teaching and SLP clinicals, so we had to do this over our Christmas break instead of spring break. We drove to South Carolina from Eastern Massachusetts, went on a 5 day cruise, and drove back. We got along the entire time, drive and all, and had the most amazing time. I have been dying to go on another cruise ever since. 

My Favorite School Memory as a Kid
Does high school kid count? I danced throughout my entire childhood. In high school we had a "choreography" class. This pretty much meant that we had a free period to hang out, except for the month or two leading up to shows. This class and the shows that we performed in are some of my favorite memories of all time. We had so much fun!
One of my friends recently posted this on Facebook, it is a clipping from an article in our town paper after one of the "Top 40" shows my senior year. The boys in the background sang, they did not dance! :o)

Shopping?! I do love to shop, but I am pretty sure that doesn't count as a hobby. I love to read and do crafty things. I enjoy baking, typically in the winter when the weather is bad. When I was in college a friend's grandmother taught her how to knit and she taught all of us (we had several snow days our sophomore year). I wish I had time to learn to knit better because I enjoy it, I simply never get around to it. 

Head on over to Flying into First Grade and Get Acquainted! 

Thanks for reading!