Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Our Halloween Fun

Happy Halloween!

I hope all of my east-coasters and fellow New Englanders stayed safe during Sandy.

We were back in school today, and first principal walks in to an informal observation/evaluation. Fortunately, we had finished most of our off-topic talk before he walked in. :)

I was doing a Math lesson on using a protractor to measure angles. I did a whole group intro (for like, 2 minutes) and then split them into their groups. I took my lowest group to teach first, because they take the longest (15-20 minutes vs 10-15 for the other groups). He stayed through most of the first group, and then he left to walk-through other classes (he walks through almost every day).

I did have some friends off-task at one center, but while my small group friends were working (they were drawing me an angle), I told them that it didn't sound like math talk to me, and they refocused.

I later saw him in the office, and we talked a little (not about the observation). He asked me if I knew if he had come in, because I hadn't really acknowledged him, and he was wondering if I was panicked, nervous, unsure. I told him that I did know, but I was so used to people walking in and out of my room, that I just kept teaching on. He told me good, and then "Well done."

I really can't remember the last time a principal told me well done. So, I think it went pretty well. :) And even if it didn't, he's the type of principal to offer suggestions on how to fix the things that didn't (something my previous principals haven't been really strong at).

In the afternoon, we had our Halloween Parade to the center of town, and then we had our party. Our party was fairly quiet and subdued. I showed the The Legend of Spookly the Square Pumpkin on the SMART Board, and The Berenstain Bears and the Spooky Pumpkin (YouTube videos).

After that I read Substitute Creature and The Night Before Halloween. Then they went home to get me candy  (I told them in order to come in tomorrow, I needed two pieces of candy as a toll ;) (Some thought I was serious--this is a young class).

Outfit (Nobody told me that we could dress year!) (Correction: I went as SuperTeacher in her regular person disguise ;)

Sweater & Tank: Target
Shirt: Kohls
Pants: JC Penny
Shoes: DSW

Smiles and Sunshine,

Monday, October 29, 2012

Literacy Rotations

So Sandy is coming closer, and although she isn't supposed to officially 'land' up here until later tonight, there have been some mighty strong winds and rain coming done for most of the day. Fortunately (knock on wood), I have power and everything. And there was no school today...who knows about tomorrow!

Recently, I've switched the way we do our literacy rotations. I asked the kids what they thought, and they wanted to give it a try without the bookmarks that I made.
I found the kids were staying too long at one station with these, and thought we would give it a try without, making sure the kids knew that all three centers needed to be completed.

So far, it's been working great! I feel like they are a little more engaged, getting to pick the order that they do things in. I'm still thinking about the accountability factor, wanting them to complete some sort of self-reflection or something (especially on days when there aren't any turn in papers).

I have managed to find some time to update Reader's Notebooks (first time since early September!). Like the Math Notebooks, these are a work in progress until I figure out exactly what I want to do.

We've updated them with some new things we've learned...Marking Inferences and the 4 types of sentences. They seem to really enjoy foldables (which is good, 'cause I use them a lot!)

Hope that Sandy is treating the rest of my East Coasters okay!

Smiles and Sunshine (though a little wet),

Saturday, October 27, 2012


So this week was pretty awesome.

The first part of awesome?

We had Steve Colter, author of Cheesie Mack is Not a Genius or Anything, visit our school and give a presentation.

Product Details

He was super funny, and the kids were really engaged in his presentation. Right now he is contracted for a 5-book series of Cheesie Mack.

This book is super funny, and the kids were bummed when we couldn't read anymore. I even had a few laugh out loud moments (and then my kids all looked at me like I was nuts :).

Another great part, is that Cheesie Mack (who is the author of this book, how cool is that!) has a website that he talks about in the book that kids can go to and add to.

Seriously, grade 4 teachers and up, you need to get this book! (PS, I was not compensated in any way...I truly like this book and think it's cool)

Next part of awesome?


I know!

She did a presentation at a local college, and it was wonderful! She is super nice, and super funny, and talked a lot about things she said in her book, and backed it up with studies, references and plain old common sense.

The best part?

She signed my book!!

So, if you haven't read this book yet, you are truly missing out. She does have a new book coming out soon (spring 2013ish ?) about the habits of lifelong readers. You can find out more about it here.

So those are my awesomeness of reading/authors. :D

How was your week?

Smiles and Sunshine,

Friday, October 26, 2012

Visualizing and Committees

Well, I have to say that the Report Card Committee  meeting I had today was very interesting. We brainstormed a lot of features that we think are essential to have on a report card, as well as a list of concerns and questions. We also tried to come up with a list of things that we wanted to save from the current report card....which was to keep the Work Habits and Social Aspects. Yeah, our report card is that bad (the first thing I said when I saw it...This is it? This is the stupidest report card that I have seen).

We're putting together a bigger committee to start developing it...and we hope to have it ready to roll by the next school year. I'm finding the process interesting, and I'll keep y'all updated!

This week our focus in Literacy was Visualization! I think this one is a little easier for the kids to get than Inferencing, because it is more concrete (What picture do you see? instead of Tell me why you think that).

I created an organizer for them to record their thinking (we're calling them GO's in my class ;), since I didn't really like the one they gave us.

Click on it to download it!

I also created an anchor chart to help them remember what visualization is and why it's important.


Someone asked me what books I use to teach the skills...Well, I use the books in the Reading Series. I'm envious of all of you who can pick and choose the books you use, and all the fun units I'm seeing with Bats, Pumpkins, etc.

My district just adopted the Literacy By Design series (Common Core Edition)(I also got the impression that this was a newer series, one that may have come out in the last few years), and while I like most aspects of it (everything is planned out, it follows a theme), I do miss choosing my own books to teach skills.

Once in awhile I pull a picture book to show off a specific skill, but for the most part, I use the selections in their Sourcebook. One thing I really like about LBD? Everything is online. So if I forget the book at school, I can look it up online! (Also, the teacher's guides are divided into 8 units, so it's a smaller notebook sized...not those big clunkers with the spiral binding :)

Today's Outfit

White Sweater: NY & Co
Teal Sweater: Maurices
Tank: Target
Pants: JC Penny
Shoes: Payless

I dresses a little more fancy because of the Report Card Committee meeting was at Central Office...although the reps from the other school came in maybe I shouldn't have worried!

Smiles and Sunshine,

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Math Notebooks

I started using Math Notebooks this year (as well as Social Studies Notebooks and Reading Notebooks!), and while I'm still figuring out how I want them to look, and what to put in them, the kids are enjoying them and I think that they will be a good resource going forward.

Since I've started Math Workshop (which I'm loving by the way...the kids get more individual attention and I can see who needs extra help!), I've struggled to find time to add to the notebooks. I have a half hour block in between special and lunch, so I started doing it then...the only problem? My friends with IEPs are being serviced at that time...working towards their goals.

So it's a push and pull, finding the right balance and time to do everything I want. But, since we've added to the notebooks, I thought I would show you! :)
Poems to help them remember things

Different Operations, signs and key words

Different Ways to write a number
From Frogs and Cupcakes Place Value Notebook Package-This one really helped my kids understand it better

So, I use a combination of stuff I find for free/buy and stuff I create based on our needs. Unfortunately, our Math program jumps around like crazy and is SO not Common Core Aligned (It's so bad that they only made it for 5 years, and you can't even really buy it anymore!), so the notebook is not going to be as organized and methodical as I would want it to be. Oh well, maybe next year!

Today's Outfit

Shirt: The Limited
Tank: Target
Pants: JC Penny
Shoes: Burlington Coat Factory

Tomorrow's Friday! I have a half day, because I'm on the Report Card Committee, an we are having our first meeting tomorrow. Hopefully everything will go well. Have a wonderful Friday!!

Smiles and Sunshine,

Wednesday, October 24, 2012


So I finally finished my Common Core I Can Statements for 4th Grade Reading! These are only the standards for Reading: Foundational Skills, Reading: Informational and Reading: Literature.  I am working on the Speaking and Listening, Writing and Language. Grab your copy below!

Today we went on a scavenger hunt for Rocks and Minerals, which turned into a walking field trip (which I have never been on one until I started at this district...but I guess it's common here). The kids seems to have fun and really enjoy it... they love doing this hands on stuff! (and my class was the best behaved class out of all them :)

Yesterday during Math, we were learning about Rotational we made pinwheels! They had a blast doing the pinwheels, and they seemed to understand it (hopefully!) a little better. I then had them create their own shapes that had rotational symmetry with patterns blocks. A few friends needed a little redirection on their shapes...I just think they were excited to work with pattern blocks! :)

Yesterday's Outfit

Shirt: The Limited
Tank: Target
Pants: JC Penny
Shoes: Payless

Today's Outfit
Shirt and Pants: Kohls
Tank: Old Navy
Shoes: Target

A little more casual we had our walking field trip!

Smiles and Sunshine,

Monday, October 22, 2012

First Year Bliss

Today I'm linking up with The 3am Teacher to share my favorite memory from blogging (even though I've only been doing it for 5 months!).

I think that my favorite part of blogging so far is all the great ideas that I have gotten to better my teaching.

My favorite memory? Showing y'all my blog designs and having y'all vote on which one you liked best. :) The comments I got from showing what I designed were wonderful, and made my day (actually almost every comment I get makes me smile! :)

Today's Outfit:

Shirt & Pants: JC Penny
Tank: Old Navy
Shoes: DSW

Hope you had great Monday!

Smiles and Sunshine,

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Shopping and Sharing

Hi everyone!

I have a couple of giveaways that I want to share with you...first up is

She is have a HUGE 600 follower giveaway and sale. There are 6 days of giveaways where 6 people can win each day. Today is day 1...Hurry! it ends soon!

Next up is:
Ms. Fultz's corner

She is having a "It's my birthday" giveaway with lots of awesome bundles!

Next topic: Shopping!

I went to JC Penny the other day, because I really needed some jeans and 'in between' shirts for work. Right now, I have warm weather shirts and cold weather shirts without much in between.

And even though I can't wear jeans to work, if I go out on weekends, I like to wear them then. (and I only had one pair that fit correctly and it is hemmed to heel height and I wanted flat height ones).

So after spending almost an hour of browsing and trying on, I came home with 1 pair of jeans and 3 tops...for under $80! (I'd put myself on a $100 limit for the month). Here are my purchases:
1 pair of jeans-petite, for flats, no hemming required :)
1 sweater
2 3/4 tops-good for dressy or casual wear

Have a happy Monday!

Smiles and Sunshine,

Friday, October 19, 2012

Editing & Publishing

Hello Bloggy Buds!

I'm writing today from a hospital waiting room, as my mom is having knee surgery today. I took a personal/sick day, and my kids are going on a field trip to the State House to learn about our State Government and possibly meet our governor.

Yesterday we talked about editing our writing, and what the difference was between editing and revising. (Go here for an awesome post about it from Stephanie at 3rd Grade Thoughts). We also talked about the number of edits that their writing piece is going to go through.

The first edit, a self-edit, is going to be done in a green pen. The students will go through their work, looking to make sure that they have capitalized words, used correct punctuation, check the spelling, and making sure their sentences sound right (instead of 'She done gone to the store' - turning into 'She went to the store').

The second edit, a peer-edit, is going to be done in blue pen. The friends are going to look for the same things. This way, I know for sure that the students are having their pieces looked over twice.

After the second edit, they are going to look over their writing, and revise anything based on the suggestions of their friend, and their own thoughts.

The third edit, is a teacher-edit, (conference), and will be done in a black pen. That way, they know my suggestions trump any others, and I'm hoping to conference with them and make suggestions on their writing.

I'm hoping this will teach them that every time they edit or revise their work, they don't have to rewrite it every time. They can work over their first draft, and not have to rewrite until they are ready to publish on a nice piece of paper.

I also reminded them that we are not going to be publishing every piece. That way, I should only be editing almost published pieces, and will look over their other pieces during a conference (hopefully!).

Yesterday's Outfit
 Shirt: Burlington Coat Factory
Tank: Old Navy
Pants: Gap Outlet

Today's Outfit

Shirt & Jeans: JC Penny
Tank & Flats: Target

Have a Happy Friday!!

Smiles and Sunshine,

Wednesday, October 17, 2012


I've been Boo-ed by Caitlyn at Fourth Grade Lemonade! (she's also having a cool 100 follower giveaway...check it out!)
Fourth Grade Lemonade

1.  Give a shout out to the blogger who booed you and link back to their site!
2. Share 3-5 October activities, books, products (yours or someone else)or freebie(s) that you love!
3.  Share the Boo love with 5 bloggers- make sure you check this link to make sure you don't boo someone again: And don't forget to tell them that they have been BOOED!
4.  Link up {here} so that others can find you and read about your October ideas!  And while you are there... check out the other great blogs!

October Activities:

1. A bat acrostic poem that I got from The Mailbox a few years kids love it! (sorry, no picture :(

2.These Writing Units from Clutter-Free Classroom

HAUNTED HOUSE FOR SALE - DESCRIPTIVE WRITING PROJECTWitches' Brew Descriptive Writing Adjective Activity

Turkey in Disguise Writing & Craft Project (cute bulletin board)
I know this one is Nov...but you could start in Oct. to have it done in Nov.!
3. These October books

5 Bloggers:

Amanda at The Teaching Thief
Jessica at Dandelions and Dragonflies
Sabra at Teaching with a Touch of Twang
Dani at A Place to Thrive
Julie at Lighting a Fire in Third

Today's Outfit

Shirt: JC Penny
Tank: Old Navy
Pants: Dockers
Shoes: Endless

Of course, 5 minutes after I arrived at school I rolled my sleeves up :)

Smiles and Sunshine,

Tuesday, October 16, 2012


Hi Peeps!

We have one more day of state testing left for us fourth graders, and then we're done! We also have a field trip to the Statehouse on Friday (which I won't be Mom is having knee surgery), and we have a Rocks & Mineral presentation, so technically speaking, I only have one full teaching day left :)

After our state testing finished today, we added some things to our Math Notebooks (still haven't figured out quite how to do that while running Math Workshop...more thinking is required!), which we will do tomorrow as well.

I did the whole group Literacy lesson, and then we had a half hour assembly on fire safety with one of the local firemen. We then went back and briefly met with Guided Reading groups, to check in, and I finished benchmarking one of my friends.

So that's my Tuesday! Quick and fairly easy (and planning is all done for next week because I had some time this morning :), due to testing and assemblies.

Today's Outfit
Sweater: Kohls
Shirt: NY & Co
Tank: Old Navy
Pants: JC Penny
Shoes: DSW

Smiles and Sunshine,

Monday, October 15, 2012

Organizing (or Binder Love)

I mentioned a loooong time ago that I wanted to share how I organize myself. I first discovered this system my first year teaching, and I have refined it ever since.

To put it bluntly...I am a binder ho. :) I love using binders, and how I can have everything organized by tabs. One of my refinements to my system was to add page protectors, instead of hole-punching everything like I did with all my K-1 stuff.  I've also added answer sheets to some worksheets as well.

Here is my Binder Shelf:
 Everything was binder color coded at one point, but because I had to upgrade some sizes, and wanted to use up some of the ones I had, I now have some that are similar colors of some topics.

I have two Writing for units/seasonal writing and one for 6 Trait Lessons (c/o Lesson Plans SOS).

I also have two Literacy I put together last year with my former district's curriculum maps, and one I'm starting for this year (which is pretty light so far!).

Math Worksheets

Writing...Mini-lessons on Top-Seasonal on Bottom

Literacy 1 & 2

Social Studies

 I hope I've inspired you to go out and organize with binders!

Today's Outfit:

Tank: Target
Sweater: NY & Co
Pants: JC Penny
Shoes: Payless

Have a happy Monday!

Smiles and Sunshine,

Saturday, October 13, 2012

100? and Inferences

I can't believe that this is my 100th post! It seems like only yesterday I started blogging, when it's been closer to 5 months. Time flies!

This week our comprehension focus was on making inferences.  I made this anchor chart last year with my kids, and thought it was too cute and nicely done to throw I saved it to use this year! Usually I remake charts with each kids, but I saved a couple that turned out too nice. :)

This literacy series is heavy on using graphic organizers with the kids. The one they had this week had a place for the kids to show "In the Text" and "In My Head", put didn't have a place for them to write the inference that they made. So...I made my own!

I added a place for the kids to write down the inferences they made using the text clues and their schema. I think that making inferences work better when the kids are trying to figure out the answer to a question, but the series isn't having us teach it that way....but I'm slipping it in when I get the chance!

We also started a writing lesson on Ideas... and taking a BIG moment and whittling  it down to a Snapshot. We weren't able to finish what I had planned because of an assembly...but we did make an anchor chart!
Friday's Outfit

Sweater & Pants: JC Penny
Tank: Old Navy
Shirt: Marshall's
Boots: Endless

Smiles and Sunshine,

Thursday, October 11, 2012


So I was thinking on the drive home today about the turn my life has taken. I'm finally living on my own, and although I sometimes feel lonely in a new place, I'm really enjoying myself (for the most part).

I'm LOVING my job, and I feel like this year is the easiest, unstressful (so far) year that I have ever had. That's not to say that I don't have some concerns here or there (one of which happened today, but I'll keep to myself, since it wouldn't be anything nice), but my kids have been great, I like the people I work with (again, for the most part), and I feel like things are running so smoothly.

I also feel like blogging (and stalking!) has taught me a lot about being a great teacher, as well as inspiring me to try things that I never would have thought of before. I've started creating a lot more of my own things when the books/organizers/curriculum aren't working for me or my kids.

I'm wondering what's next for me. I'm really hopeful that this is my home (although that could change once I have observations and get evaluations back!), but if it doesn't work out (knock on wood), I know I'll be okay. Everything happens for a reason, and I truly believe that I am meant to be at this school, with these kids, with these co-workers.

So that's my philosophical bent for today! Now onto OOTD! :)

Sweater: Gap Outlet
Pants: Kohls
Shoes: Target

Have a happy Friday!
(only 3 more days of testing!)

Smiles and Sunshine,

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Mentor Texts

I wanted to show ya'll my mentor text library (and how I organize them). I mentioned that I had used some mentor texts to teach a writing lesson on leads.

I have them stored behind my Guided Reading table on a wire shelf that I got from Target.
 I have a 6 Trait bucket, a Polacco and Henkes bucket, a deGroat and Cronin bucket, and a Carle and Lionni bucket. I have labeled the books on the back cover to let me know what traits I feel they show, so when I'm looking to teach a particular trait, I know what books will fit without having to read each one (although that sometimes happens on its own! :)

Here are some examples:
This one I would use for Voice or Ideas.

This one I would use for Voice, Organization, Sentence Fluency and Presentation
Sometimes I tell the kids what trait we are working on and ask them to find it in the book, and sometimes I read the book and ask them what traits they think this book shows well.

Tuesday's Outfit
Sweater: Kohls
Tank: Target
Pants: JC Penny
Shoes: DSW

Today's Outfit

 Shirt: Old Navy
Vest: The Limited
Pants:  Kohls
Shoes: Endless

Our state testing has been going well so far..only 4 more days left! Happy Wednesday!

Smiles and Sunshine,