Sunday, September 14, 2014

Brag Tag Display

I'm starting my fourth week with students tomorrow, and this year has been so different from years past. As I've said before, I've gone from teaching two years of general ed. third grade, to two years of co-teaching third grade, to this year teaching accelerated third grade.

My students are SO eager to learn. They eat up every bit of information I give. Behavior has been on point, aside from a few small instances. I tell everyone who will listen in my building that I am truly blessed this year.

They are most likely annoyed with me.

But anyway, like many of you, I use brag tags in my room. I actually have to use them, as we adopted them last year as a part of PBS. The school purchased a few tags that we can all use, like honor roll, student of the month, and perfect attendance. It is up to use how we display and use the tags.

Here is how I display my brag tags. The PBS team loved it so much last year, they took pictures and showed it to others in my building, so many others have a similar display. I do not let the students wear their tags because I don't want anyone to lose their necklace. Last year, I hung my necklaces with tiny command hooks. This year, I purchased Pin Hooks.
image from
I like them much better than the command hooks because I can reposition them without ripping my background paper. This year, I have a career high (and building high) 25 students. This way, if my numbers go down next year, I can adjust accordingly. You can purchase them in primary colors, bright colors, clear, or black and white. I clearly went for the brights! The only issue is that the pins stick out a little bit because my cork boards are shallow. (For the record, I was not compensated for telling you all about PinHooks. I just wanted to share a cute product!) The small labels were a freebie that I sized down considerably. The creator's name is not in the download, so if it belongs to you, leave a comment and I will link! I love my chevron border, and I use it on every board in my room with a black background!

I do not love my photography skills. Sorry.

I started everyone out with a "First Day of School" brag tag, which I downloaded for free from TPT from Teaching Rock Stars. As the year goes on, I will add brag tags that the school supplies, as well as some of my own. Throughout the year, I introduce new ways to fill your necklace, mostly using pony beads. For example, I declare February "Fe'blue'ary. Blue is the highest color you can get on our clip chart, school wide. Any time a students reaches blue in February, they will get a blue pony bead on their necklace. Once I introduce different pony beads, I will add a key/legend in the blank space on the bulletin board that will explain the meaning for the different colors.

I'm currently nursing what feels like a budding sinus infection, so I'm kind of in a sudafed-daze. Looking forward to a good night's sleep so that I can be ready for a full week of school and open house on Thursday night!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Meet the Teacher Blogger Linky

I am probably the last to this party! I've added a bunch of new blogs to my feed recently, and it has been great to get to know everyone a little better! So I knew I had to join in on the fun.

In case you're new here, here's a little intro! My name is Meg, and I'm a 28 year old third grade teacher in Delaware. This will be my sixth year as a teacher. I can't believe it! My first year (2009) was spent as a writing specialist. Followed by that were two years in a general ed third grade classroom, then two years in a co-taught inclusion third grade classroom. This year, I'm in for another change, as I'll be teaching the accelerated third grade class. I'm pretty sure I could rattle off most of the third grade Common Core Standards by heart. #embarrassing #sorrynotsorry

Let's get personal! I currently live with my boyfriend of two years and my cat, Mona. She started out as a foster, but her cuteness convinced me to make it permanent. I mean, how can you resist?

Now to the Q & A portion!

These are a few of my favorite things..

My nephew (pictured. you're welcome.)
Chai Tea Lattes
My magic machine a.k.a. Silhouette Cameo
Sleeping in
Hashtagging to the point of annoyance

If you weren't a teacher, what would you want to be?

I went into college as a journalism major, with dreams of being a news anchor. That kind of career involves moving around the world though, and I'm pretty family oriented, so that kind of lifestyle just wouldn't work for me. I've always wanted to work in higher education, and I still see myself doing that someday. I guess for something completely different than education, I'd be an optometrist. (Even though I just had to google it to make sure I spelled it right.)

Three little words that describe you.

Passionate. Loyal. Goal-oriented.

Finish the sentence, "_____, said no teacher ever!"

"I'm in it for the money!" said no teacher ever!

It's your birthday and you can invite anyone (dead or alive) to the party. Who are you inviting?

Jennifer Lawrence and Emma Stone seem like they'd be a good time. Or maybe a few cast members of Saturday Night Live, past and present, like Gilda Radner or Bill Hader.

If someone wrote a book about your life, what would be the title?

This is a tough one! Maybe "A Work In Progress." I feel like I have SO much more to accomplish, both personally and professionally!

You get to pick one superpower. What is it?

Teleportation! My family lives all over the US, and I'm over an hour from my immediate family and friends. Being able to see them whenever I want, without having to worry about travel time or expenses, would be amazing. Also, I hate commuting to work, even if it is only 40 minutes, so I'd use it for that, too!

What's your favorite quote or saying?

"I am only one, but I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something." I just love this saying, especially in our profession. Sometimes, we feel hopeless, unappreciated, and overwhelmed. But we do "something" every day. We need to remember that when we're in the thick of it this year!

If you had to sing one song on American Idol, what would it be?

"Somebody to Love" by Queen. It is my absolute favorite song to belt! If you are unfamiliar, go listen, now! The Glee version is great, too!

Are you a morning person or a night owl?

Night owl, for sure. Although I'll probably be in bed by 8 at the latest during the first couple weeks of school. No judging!

What's your favorite resource that you've created in your TPT shop?

I don't have the biggest or best shop, but I put things in there that I use and love. I love using this product with my students!

Share something we might not know about you!

Well, you definitely won't know this. My hair doesn't look like the picture above anymore! I went to my back to school hair appointment today (you all have those, right?) and got about 4 inches chopped off and went a few shades darker to my natural color (see roots in the picture above). I miss it already!

That's it! If you haven't linked up yet (I can't be the ONLY one!), here's the place to go! =)

Teachers in my district go back to school Monday. I've been in to my room a couple times here and there to start setting up, but expect pictures of the finished product next week sometime!

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

What I Bought!

Did you take advantage of the Teachers Pay Teachers sale? I put my store (my tiny store!) on sale for the event, and I want to say thank you to anyone who purchased any of my items. Please let me know how they work for you!

Now, what did I buy? I'm glad you asked because I made a snazzy graphic.

I mentioned that I will be teaching the accelerated class in third grade this year. In other words, I have the highest achieving students in my room. Aside from literally "accelerating," I clearly want to up the rigor and introduce higher level skills and concepts. To do that, I purchased:

Blogging Literature Circles by Where the Wild Things Learn
Mentor Sentences by Jivey
Root of the Week by The Brown Bag Teacher
Morphology Dictionary by Ladybugs Teacher Files

My room doesn't have a theme, just a color scheme. I love brights on black. To update my decor, I purchased:

Desire to Inspire Subway Art by Hope King
Simple Iconic Library Labels by Ladybugs Teacher Files

I also purchased Math Homework Card Games by Teachers Clubhouse. I'm not entirely sure how I'm going to use them yet. I may use them as a choice during math centers. I might also have the students keep the games in their binders (as Amanda suggests in this blog post) for extra practice.

The last item I purchased was the Editable Desk Tags by The Brown Bag Teacher. I'm always looking for ways to streamline transitions. I do a ton of partner work, so I'm going to give this Kagan strategy a shot.

Link up with Blog Hoppin'!

Did you buy/create anything that you think would help me accelerate and really push my above level third graders? Leave me a comment so I can check it out!

Monday, August 4, 2014

Goodreads Purge Part Two: Fiction

I'm back with the rest of my recent reads. This time, I'm sharing fiction! If you have Goodreads, feel free to visit my profile and add me as a friend! I love seeing what everyone is reading.

John Green


I had already read & loved The Fault in our Stars. It was a quick, entertaining read, so I immediately set out to read more from this amazing author! These books did not disappoint, either! They are all young adult and deal with the relationships frequently encountered in that time of life.

Looking for Alaska (5/5; this one was my favorite!)
An Abundance of Katherines (3.5/5; not bad, just not as good as the others)
Paper Towns (4/5)


Rainbow Rowell


The first experience I had with Ms. Rowell was Eleanor & Park, and that was one of the best books I've ever read! The style reminded me of John Green. The rest of her books (above) are a little more adult in content, and they read wonderfully! They are all light reads about relationships. Great for the summertime.

Attachments (4.5/5)
Landline (4/5; this one just came out!)
Fangirl (5/5; this one was my favorite!)


The Program & The Treatment

I clearly love dystopian YA! The premise of this series is that suicide has become an epidemic. If you show any signs of depression, you get sent to "The Program," where your memory is wiped. The Treatment follows how a group of teens fight back against the program. It was a good book to read; I couldn't wait to read what happened next!

The Program (4.5/5)
The Treatment (4/5)

Gone Girl

This book was recommended to me a few times, but I'm not into mysteries, and that's what I thought this book was. Um, it isn't! Well, not really. About half way through, everything you thought was happening gets turned upside down. I can't wait to see the movie!

Gone Girl (5/5)


Ready Player One

Another dystopian, but the backstory here does not seem too far from where technology is headed. The back story is that the economy has crashed and people escape to the "OASIS," which is a virtual reality that is free to access using a headset. The creator of the OASIS died, and he has left a quest (based on 80s pop culture). The first person to solve it wins the creator's fortune. It is impossible for me to paint the picture of the OASIS in a short summary, so you should definitely check out this book. If you grew up in the 80's and know a lot about the pop culture of that time (movies, video games, music), you'll really enjoy this book.

Ready Player One (4.5/5)


Where'd You Go, Bernadette?

This is old fashioned chick-lit. Bernadette is an eccentric mother (with an incredibly strange past) who goes missing. The text is mostly made up of emails, documents, and other correspondences that tell the story of the main characters. (I previously read Love, Rosie and enjoyed the format, which is why I read this book.) All of the characters were so out there, so I couldn't really attach myself to them. But, it was an entertaining story that I was able to finish, and I did like the format.

Where'd You Go, Bernadette (3/5)

The Book Thief

This booooooook. I just loved it. It tells a story of the Holocaust from the point of view of Liesel Meminger, a young German girl who is sent to live with a foster family in Munich. She learns to read and so much more. I watched the movie (it is on Amazon Instant), but it didn't do the book justice at all. It is such a long, deep book that it was impossible to fit everything into a film. But I definitely recommend it!

The Book Thief (5/5)


A Long Way Down

A Long Way Down focuses on four people who end up at the same location on New Year's Eve. Sounds great. But the place where they meet is actually the top of a building that is famous for people committing suicide. The book sounds dark, but it really isn't. The story is told from all of their points of view on how the next few days are spent. This is also a movie, but I haven't gotten around to watching it yet (with Pierce Brosnan, Toni Collette & Aaron Paul).

A Long Way Down (3.5/5)

The Kite Runner

Another great book. This is a story of an unlikely pair, a rich child and his servant's son, who live in Afghanistan. The story chronicles their lives, as Afghanistan crumbles and their relationship is tested. It is a really long book, but worth the read!

The Kite Runner (5/5)


Thanks for indulging me in my summer Goodreads purge!

My reading with no doubt slow down once I go back to school in two weeks, but I hope to try to keep up with it. Right now, I'm reading Life in a Jar (on my Kindle) and This Is Where I Leave You (on audiobook while I'm walking on the treadmill). 

What did you read this summer? Anything to recommend to me?!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Goodreads Purge Part One: Nonfiction

During my blogging hiatus, I picked up the pace on reading for pleasure! This continued through the first half of my summer, as well. I loved reading when I was in elementary school, but once middle school/high school/college came around, I rarely picked up a book for fun. 

I love my new-found motivation! 

This is going to be a two-part Goodreads purge! I'll start with nonfiction.

A Thousand Lives: The Untold Stories of Hope, Deception, and Survival at Jonestown

Goodreads says: In 1954, a pastor named Jim Jones opened a church in Indianapolis called People's Temple Full Gospel Church. He was a charismatic preacher with idealistic beliefs, and he quickly filled his pews with an audience eager to hear his sermons on social justice. After Jones moved his church to Northern California in 1965, he became a major player in Northern California politics; he provided vital support in electing friendly political candidates to office, and they in turn offered him a protective shield that kept stories of abuse and fraud out of the papers. Even as Jones’s behavior became erratic and his message more ominous, his followers found it increasingly difficult to pull away from the church. By the time Jones relocated the Peoples Temple a final time to a remote jungle in Guyana and the U.S. Government decided to investigate allegations of abuse and false imprisonment in Jonestown, it was too late.

Meg says: I became interested in learning more about Jonestown after my friend took an entire course on it in her masters program. I was really interested in how people decided to give up everything, leave their families, and join the mission in Jonestown. This book is well-researched, and it answered a lot of my questions. The text reads like a timeline, and it takes you from the very beginning of the movement to the very end. I learned so much from this book, but it didn't feel like it because it also read as a narrative. I recommend this book if you'd like to learn more about this kind of thing! Very eye opening. [5/5 stars]


The Naked Lady Who Stood on Her Head: A Psychiatrist's Stories of His Most Bizarre Cases

Goodreads says: True stories are more bizarre than any fiction, and Dr. Gary Small knows this best. After thirty distinguished years of psychiatry and groundbreaking research on the human brain, Dr. Small has seen it all—now he is ready to open his office doors for the first time and tell all about the most mysterious, intriguing, and bizarre patients of his career. The Naked Lady Who Stood on Her Head is a spellbinding record of the doctor's most bewildering cases, from naked headstands and hysterical blindness to fainting schoolgirls and self-amputations. It is an illuminating journey into the mind of a practicing psychiatrist and his life in medicine as it evolves over time—a behind-the-scenes look at the field and a variety of mental diseases as they've never been seen or diagnosed before. You'll find yourself exploring the puzzling eccentricities that make us human.

Meg says: A few years ago, I read Weekends at Bellevue, and I really enjoyed putting myself in the shoes of a psychiatrist. Don't let the title scare you away from this book! Although this text kind of leads you through the career of the doctor, the main focus is interesting cases that he has come across in his work (one of which is cited in the title). It reads like a short story anthology, and it was easy to get through. I've always been interested in psychology, and I enjoyed the road to diagnoses in each one of the cases. The book is more for entertainment, not for information, but it was definitely entertaining and worth the read. There are many books out there that follow this sort of template. [3.5/5]


The Boy Who Was Raised as a Dog: And Other Stories from a Child Psychiatrist's Notebook--What Traumatized Children Can Teach Us About Loss, Love, and Healing

Goodreads says: What happens when a young brain is traumatized? How does terror, abuse, or disaster affect a child's mind--and how can that mind recover? Child psychiatrist Bruce Perry has helped children faced with unimaginable horror: genocide survivors, murder witnesses, kidnapped teenagers, and victims of family violence. In The Boy Who Was Raised as a Dog, he tells their stories of trauma and transformation through the lens of science, revealing the brain's astonishing capacity for healing. Deftly combining unforgettable case histories with his own compassionate, insightful strategies for rehabilitation, Perry explains what exactly happens to the brain when a child is exposed to extreme stress-and reveals the unexpected measures that can be taken to ease a child's pain and help him grow into a healthy adult. Through the stories of children who recover-physically, mentally, and emotionally-from the most devastating circumstances, Perry shows how simple things like surroundings, affection, language, and touch can deeply impact the developing brain, for better or for worse. In this deeply informed and moving book, Bruce Perry dramatically demonstrates that only when we understand the science of the mind can we hope to heal the spirit of even the most wounded child.

Meg says: Like the previous book, this is also the story of a psychiatrist and the interesting cases he has seen on his journey. However, I was able to relate to this text much more because it is based on the trauma of children. In my graduate counseling courses, I've learned a lot about how trauma can have a profound impact on children and how its effects can present themselves very differently in each child. To me, this was more informative than the latter book, but it was still entertaining. It was also quite sad to hear how children are mistreated, but that was not really the focus. The focus was more about the effects of trauma, the reasons behind the effects, and treatment.  [4/5]


Inside Scientology: The Story of America's Most Secretive Religion

Goodreads says: Scientology, created in 1954 by a prolific sci-fi writer named L. Ron Hubbard, claims to be the world’s fastest growing religion, with millions of members around the world and huge financial holdings. Its celebrity believers keep its profile high, and its teams of “volunteer ministers” offer aid at disaster sites such as Haiti and the World Trade Center. But Scientology is also a notably closed faith, harassing journalists and others through litigation and intimidation, even infiltrating the highest levels of the government to further its goals. Its attacks on psychiatry and its requirement that believers pay as much as tens and even hundreds of thousands of dollars for salvation have drawn scrutiny and skepticism. And ex-members use the Internet to share stories of harassment and abuse. Now Janet Reitman offers the first full journalistic history of the Church of Scientology, in an evenhanded account that at last establishes the astonishing truth about the controversial religion. She traces Scientology’s development from the birth of Dianetics to today, following its metamorphosis from a pseudoscientific self-help group to a worldwide spiritual corporation with profound control over its followers and even ex-followers.

Meg says: Let me assure you that I AM NOT interested in joining the Scientology movement! Because as soon as I told my boyfriend I was reading this book, he seemed concerned. No worries. Like my interest in Jonestown, I was intrigued by how seemingly intelligent people get roped into things like this. My questions were definitely answered. This book tells about all angles of Scientology: the history, the scandals, the celebrities, the techniques, etc. And let me tell you, the celebrity side of it is pretty interesting! My only qualm with this book would be that it jumped around a little in terms of time. I understand why it was needed, but I'm the kind of person who likes things in order. Shocker. Like the Jonestown book, I recommend this if you are looking to learn something new. [4/5]


Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers

Goodreads says: Stiff is an oddly compelling, often hilarious exploration of the strange lives of our bodies postmortem. For two thousand years, cadavers some willingly, some unwittingly have been involved in science's boldest strides and weirdest undertakings. In this fascinating account, Mary Roach visits the good deeds of cadavers over the centuries and tells the engrossing story of our bodies when we are no longer with them.

Meg says: I realize that I've read a lot about pretty bleak topics. Sorry. But this book was both informative and entertaining. Have you ever wondered what happens if you donate your body to science? Have you ever wondered about the history of testing on human cadavers? If not, this book probably isn't for you. Mary Roach visits all kinds of experts in the field to learn about these questions. She asks the tough questions and supplies awkward commentary. I laughed out loud a couple of times. Some of the reviews I read knocked Roach's writing style, but I enjoyed it. [4.5/5]


I Didn't Come Here to Make Friends: Confessions of a Reality Show Villain

Goodreads says: Courtney Robertson joined season 16 of The Bachelor looking for love. A working model and newly single, Courtney fit the casting call: She was young, beautiful, and a natural in front of the cameras. Although she may have been there for all the right reasons, as the season unfolded and sparks began to fly something else was clear: She was not there to make friends. Courtney quickly became one of the biggest villains in Bachelor franchise history. She unapologetically pursued her man, steamrolled her competition, and broke the rules—including partaking in an illicit skinny-dip that sealed her proposal. Now, after a very public breakup with her Bachelor, Ben Flajnik, Courtney opens up and tells her own story—from her first loves to her first moments in the limo. She dishes on life before, during, and after the Bachelor, including Ben's romantic proposal to her on a Swiss mountaintop and the tabloid frenzy that continued after the cameras stopped rolling. For the first time ever, a former Bachelor contestant takes us along on her journey to find love and reveals that “happily ever after” isn't always what it seems. Complete with stories, tips, tricks, and advice from your favoriteBachelor alumni, and filled with all the juicy details Courtney fans and foes alike want to know, I Didn’t Come Here to Make Friends is a must-read for every member of Bachelor nation.

Meg says: No judging on this last one, okay?! I've been a Bachelor/Bachelorette fan for a few years. [Since Jake Pavelka's season for fellow fans!] The show is ridiculous. We can all admit that. I'm an even bigger fan of Reality Steve, a well-known spoiler site for the show. I probably wouldn't even watch the show if it weren't for this site. Anyway, knowing "behind the scenes" type of info makes this show even more fun to watch. When Courtney was on the show, I hated her (as much as you can hate a TV caricature that you don't really know, of course.) I thought Ben was getting played like a fool. But reading this gave me a new perspective of Ben and Courtney, along with juicy behind the scenes gossip and information. Warning, though, she doesn't hold back in the language department, and it is full of adult content, so it is for adult eyes only. I didn't really care about Courtney's back story, but the rest of the book made up for it! [4/5]


Do you have any nonfiction books to recommend? I'm not really into biographies; I'm more interested in topics or events. My to-read list is super full, but what's one (or ten) more, right?

Are there any linky parties going on right now about summer reading? I haven't seen any, but just wanted to make sure. I'd be happy to start one if anyone is interested. Let me know in the comments! =)

Edit: Found somewhere to link up! Join Beth by clicking the image below!

I'll be back with my Fiction list soon!