Tuesday, June 26, 2012

My Non-educational Summer Reading

Does blogging make anyone else out there feel super guilty? With all of the book studies going on right now, I'm totally feeling like a bum/underachiever! And all the Make It Mondays?! Yeeeesh. I want to get stuff made, I reaaaally do! Just wondering if there's anyone out there with similar sentiments.

However, I have gotten some personal reading in that I'd like to share with you!

The first book I read was The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood.

Summary from Good Reads: Offred is a Handmaid in the Republic of Gilead. She may leave the home of the Commander and his wife once a day to walk to food markets whose signs are now pictures instead of words because women are no longer allowed to read. She must lie on her back once a month and pray that the Commander makes her pregnant, because in an age of declining fertility, Offred and the other Handmaids are valued only if their ovaries are viable. Offred can remember the years before, when she lived and made love with her husband, Luke; when she played with and protected her daughter; when she had a job, money of her own, and access to knowledge. But all of that is gone now.. Funny, unexpected, horrifying, and altogether convincing, The Handmaid's Tale is at once scathing satire, dire warning, and tour de force. It has 3.96/5 stars.

My Thoughts: Interesting concept. This book was recommended to me on Good Reads, so I thought I'd give it a shot. Lots of good scenes. I just wasn't a huge fan of how it was written. And the ending didn't give me the resolution I was looking for. For those reasons, I gave it 3/5 stars. I recommend this if you like dystopian fiction.


The second book I read was Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn. [Someone wrote about this book in blog land, but I've searched and searched my google reader & I can't find who it was! Hm...]

Summary from Good Reads: Ella Minnow Pea is a girl living happily on the fictional island of Nollop off the coast of South Carolina. Nollop was named after Nevin Nollop, author of the immortal pangram,* “The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.” Now Ella finds herself acting to save her friends, family, and fellow citizens from the encroaching totalitarianism of the island’s Council, which has banned the use of certain letters of the alphabet as they fall from a memorial statue of Nevin Nollop. As the letters progressively drop from the statue they also disappear from the novel. The result is both a hilarious and moving story of one girl’s fight for freedom of expression, as well as a linguistic tour de force sure to delight word lovers everywhere. *pangram: a sentence or phrase that includes all the letters of the alphabet. It has 3.8/5 stars.

My Thoughts: So neat! It was a quick read, only took a few sittings. The characters are all funny, but pretty surface level. The whole book is made up of letters written between those characters, which I love. Of course, there's the whole issue of freedom of speech, which the Nollopian government had no problems taking away. I gave it 5/5, not because it was literary genius or anything, but because it was exactly what it was supposed to be! Totally recommend this as a summer read!


Have any of you read these books? What were your thoughts?

Thursday, June 21, 2012

The Next Step..

I did it. I sent in my application for graduate school.

I basically didn't have a choice as to where to attend, though. Not many colleges here in the first state.

I've known for a long time that I wanted to be a school counselor. However, counseling jobs are some of the first on the chopping block in regards to cuts. I've done a lot of thinking, and I'm definitely not going to let that stop me from reaching this goal. My favorite part of teaching is connecting with the kids, learning about their lives. So I'm very excited for this next step!

I'm thankful that this school offers the dual program, for both elementary and secondary. I'd love to work in the middle school or secondary setting. I went through a lot during those two periods of my life, and I want to be there for students who need the extra guidance and support.

I have no idea what the timeline is from this point forward. I've only been out of undergrad for a couple years, so this graduate school thing is a whole new ball game! What I'm not excited for is the loan/money aspect of it all. I'm thankful for the tuition reimbursement program in my district, and I can't wait to get the ball rolling!

Are any of my followers pursuing this degree? 
Does anyone know of any counseling blogs?

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Area & Perimeter

We all know it. I love math! One of my favorite third grade topics to teach is area/perimeter. There are so many fun and engaging activities to go along with the concept.

I'm adding to my collection of task cards with a set for Area and Perimeter! I already have task card sets for Multiplication/Division [free], Addition/Subtraction, and Fractions. This set was fun to make! They are colorful, and they cover all of the third grade Common Core standards pertaining to area and perimeter.

The product includes 20 cards. 1-15 are moderate level, whereas 16-20 require deeper thinking or more than one step. Also included is a recording sheet, making it so easy for you to set up in your classroom! Besides the mult/division cards that are free, each set is $1.50. [For the record, I never really saw myself selling on TPT, but I love doing this kind of review in my classroom and thought others might, too.]

Click either preview below to visit my TPT store and check them out!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Monday Made It! Blog Redesign!

This is my first time linking up this summer with Monday Made It!

Everything I've made this week has to do with blogs! [I hope this counts as a Monday Made It!.] I have a few other crafts waiting to be made, including the infamous supply drawers, birthday balloon things, and more.

I was really intimidated to redesign my blog, but also really excited! I've messed around with html and graphics in the past, but not much. [Thank goodness for tutorials!]

For anyone who thinks that they are clueless, you AREN'T! I made every aspect of my blog in Pages [the Mac version of word] I have no fancy programs, not even powerpoint, so that is what I had to work with. Well, that and Picmonkey, but we'll get to that!

First, I needed to find a background.

I got mine from Aqua Poppy. So many cute background for 2 or 3 column designs. Some other cute sites I found were Allie Brown's Layouts and Scrappiness downunder. These are for backgrounds though, not layouts! I set my background to my choice in Blogger, and I'm ready for the next step.

Next, I made my header.

I wanted my header to match my background. So I took a screenshot of my background. If you're using a Mac, hold the buttons COMMAND, SHIFT, and 4 down at the same time. Then hold and drag where you'd like your screen shot. When you let go, the image will be saved on your desktop.

I opened up Pages and dragged the image onto a new page.

After playing around with different ideas, I decided to drag a gray rectangle over the image's center, and then may it partially transparant.

Then I added my title using my super cute font collection! I used text boxes so that I could manipulate them. I used a separate text box for each font. I added clip art for a small touch [a melonheadz puppy in my sample below!]!

Last, I messed around with the borders that pages has to offer and come up with this scrappy one. Boom. There's a header!

Then, I made my button.

I used the same process of making my header to make my button. Obviously it was just smaller. And I didn't include a picture due to space constraints!

After that, I made my social media images.

Are you loving my sequence words? I made my images, again, in Pages! I simply added red circles. Then, I used the heart font that you see [which is JLR Simple Hearts.] I changed the border to dots and made the dots large.

Think Share Teach had a great tutorial for adding them to your site, and offers a few premade freebies if you don't want to make them!

Now that everything is made...

you have to turn them into images! Take screen shots of each item and save. I save everything in a blog folder so that it is all together. For the button, you'll need to upload it to a host site. I use photobucket, and it is super easy. As for adding your button to your blog, google a tutorial. They are everywhere!

I hope this helps someone! Although it is probably a billion times easier to pay for a better blog makeover, it isn't in my budget right now. I hope to link up for many more Mondays to come! =)

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Up & Running!

If you're reading this in Google Reader, please take a sec & click over to my blog site. I finished redecorating today, as I was recuperating from this:

Kenny Chesney + Tim McGraw = a wonderful 13 hour day of tailgating and music!

But anyway, click over and let me know if anything looks weird, too big, too small, or if you have any suggestions. One last thing I'm going to do is go back and check the labels on my old posts. Before I knew what I was doing, I was kinda just labeling here and there. I'd like to be able to clean up the labels list on my side bar!

Lastly, today is a day to celebrate fathers & father figures! I have the best dad in the world. So supportive, caring, and helpful. I have no idea where I'd be if it weren't for him. My heart aches for my students who don't have a father figure in their lives. I'm forever grateful for mine.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Under Construction!

Please excuse the mess, as I am redesigning my blog! I have a few more things that I need to look for tutorials to do & what not, but I'm excited! I got the background from Aqua Poppy Designs, and I edited everything else on my own. It's coming along alright if I do say so myself!

I don't think anyone actually has my button, but if you do, be sure to grab the new one from the right side of the page!

And if this ends up being time stamped correctly, yes. It is almost 4 am. And yes, I need to be up in 5 hours for a concert. My priorities are clear. Actually, this is due to the fact that once I get started on something, I can't stop. I'd love to continue this makeover, but tomorrow brings a lot of shananigans, and I need some sleep!

I'll be back in a few days to share some things!

Night, all!

Friday, June 8, 2012


Warning: Long Post!

Today was the last day of school. This year was so challenging. It almost broke me. Thankfully, I made it through, and my eyes are set on summer. I've made no plans, no specific vacations, no summer work. Just living.

It was tough to see a few kids cry today when they were leaving. I know that I was more to them than a teacher. A friend, confidant, and role model. Even though a small group drove me to insanity, I'm so thankful for the rest of my class. They were so tolerant, kind, and helpful. After grade three, they leave my building to go to the upper elementary school, and it breaks my heart that I might not see some of them again.

On the last day, I give each child an envelope addressed to me at the school address. I encourage them to write me a letter over the summer so that we can keep in touch. Last year, three wrote me. I hope to get a few back this summer as well.

One more note-- THANK YOU to everyone who commented on my last post! It really lifted my spirits! And I totally agree that we should rate each other's work, but without feedback on a "low" rating, it doesn't help much, ya know?


Now, onto my research project! I look forward to the end of the school year for obvious reasons. But in writing, it means that we are researching!

Last year, I let my students pick any nonfiction topic. This year, my class needed a lot more structure and support, so I narrowed it down to animals. First, I allowed my students to choose any animal.  I was going to give them a list, but thought I'd give some freedom. We completed a thinking map. We talked about only writing things that we knew to be true for our prior knowledge. We also talked about misconceptions. Unfortunately, we ran out of time, so we didn't have a chance to go back and visit our organizers to search for any misconceptions. But hey, they learned a vocabulary word. Then, they wrote a few things they were wondering about their animal. We talked about subtopics, and we all researched diet, physical characteristics, and habitat. A fourth subtopic was optional.

Next, they needed to gather their resources. I required that each student used at least two resources. At least one of them had to be a book/encyclopedia. The other could be an internet resource. I could provide them with the research from the internet or they could do it from home. I wish I could have let them do it themselves on the internet, but our computer lab was booked up due to state testing. Once they decided what resources they were going to use, they had to "code" the resources. I used R1, R2, R3. Though they did not have to cite the sources in their research paper, I wanted to open their eyes to the fact that they need to give credit to where they find information.

I then provided them with fact slips, pockets, and manila folders. We made the pockets, and miraculously, only a few of them glued them shut/upside down/completely wrong. I was pleasantly surprised. To make the pockets, you cut out the image, bend the triangles back, put glue where it says glue, and position it on the manila folder. Then, they put a small piece of clear tape on the bottom of each pocket. I was going to add a tab there to fold and glue, but I thought that would be disastrous. As for the fact strips, I made tons of copies and pre-cut them. You could also just use regular lined paper if you have a copy limit [which I thankfully do not!] Students then go through their resources, collect information, and place it into the correct pocket. Here is what it should look like:

When the students are finished collecting information, I have them go through and ensure that each pocket only has information pertaining to that subtopic. If it does not, they need to switch it or discard it. This was hard for some students, as they wanted to write every little random fact they found. Next, students took all the cards out of the diet pocket. They arranged them on their desks in a way that made sense to them. I didn't give them much direction with this, as I needed to assess how their paragraphs would flow. They began each paragraph with a topic sentence, then the body, then ended with a conclusion. Repeat times 2 [or 3]. They did each paragraph on a separate piece of paper so that they could order the body paragraphs on their own.

Have you noticed that we haven't done the introduction paragraph? I got this idea from Life in 4B. She gave them a kind of "fill in the blank" introduction and conclusion paragraph. Again, mine is much more simplistic. It is kept until after we write the body of the essay so that we can include some of these facts into them. Same idea with the conclusion paragraph. Your rough copy is complete. Continue with your writing process as usual!

To display our work, we completed this TN craft. I took some artistic liberty with some of the parts. I made the body bigger because I needed to fit a full size piece of paper. We left off the legs/boots because I wanted them all to fit on my bulletin board. Obv some of the glue wasn't up to par, as a few safari friends seemed to have let go of their binoculars. I hot glued the TP rolls to the head so that they would stick. We had no casualties.  Here's how mine turned out! The little sign in the corner says "Look out for our animal research projects!"

I'm so happy with how this went. Even my most reluctant writers would groan when we had to stop working! I think it had to do with the tangible way we collected the information, the interest in their topic, and the craft that wasn't allowed to be completed until everything else was finished! Feel free to grab this activity below as a freebie to store for next year, check out the craft I purchased from Buzzing About Learning's TN, or visit Life in 4B for a more in depth research experience!

Click HERE to download the file from google docs! =)

Monday, June 4, 2012

i CURRENTLY can't please everyone.

You can't please everyone. I need to tell myself that. I'm ridiculous. Someone left me a 3.7 rating on the quality a product of mine at TPT. And it made me mad. The preview clearly shows what the product is. And it's of good quality. And cheap. Real cheap. UGH. I think it's just because I'm annoyed with just about everything right now today this week. This annoyance is probably going to continue until approximately 3:40 on Friday.


Took some pictures of my research project today, so the post will be up soon! I got so many compliments on my bulletin board with the craft on it! One of my kids literally brought in 100 TP rolls for the project. I wanted to keep the extras [youneverknowwhenyou'llneedthem]. But I'm pretty sure my new teaching partner [whocallsmeahoarder] wouldn't approve of large bags of TP rolls in the closet. So I sent my student down to the art teacher with them. Sigh.

Currently time!

I used a new font that I gathered from the last linky party that I joined! Not much explaining needed for this currently. Because I went to Jamaica over spring break, not much traveling is going to go on this summer. So I need to catch up with my college and high school friends. For my sanity's sake. I hate that I had to move away, and I truly feel like a piece of me is missing without my friends being close.

Go link up with Farley! I actually think that this is the quickest I've gotten to it! Probably because I'm avoiding the EOY stuff I lugged home in my bag. Que sara, sara my friends.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Favorite Fonts Linky

Checking in to link up with Teachery Tidbits!

She is hosting a Favorite Fonts linky. I only planned on filling one frame with fonts, but like everyone else, I have too many favorite fonts. So I narrowed it down to two frames worth. I think that's acceptable.

Backstory. Downloading fonts came into my life at about the same time blogging did. I had no idea how to do it, but it is so easy on a Mac!

Anyway, I've already looked at the few blogs who've linked up, and I've gathered a few new fonts already. It's so funny how the right font can make a graphic organizer/parent letter/center look perfect!

So I hope others who find their way to this post like the fonts that I've chosen. They are all free, and I've found them on various sites. Just google the font name to find them. Linking things in an image is probably way too complicated for me! Frames are from the 3am teacher! She is so generous with her freebies!

Also, I've been awarded the Lovely Blog Award by a few bloggers! Admittedly, I've received this award in the past, but have yet to put it in my side bar. But it's there now. SEE! Since I've already followed the rules & all that, I'll just introduce you to the ladies who gave me the awards. Check out their blogs! I'm their newest follower & you should be, too! =)

Can't find her button-- Tangled with Teaching


It's my last week of school. Two "teaching" days, field day, in service day, then half day with the kids. Can't believe I made it! Check back tomorrow/tuesday for picture of my research project!