Sunday, December 28, 2014

14 in 14!

I'm linking up with some of my blogging inspirations to reflect upon 2014. Thank you Hadar, Kristin, & Traci for hosting, and thanks to Traci for supplying the super cute headings for the countdown in a super easy download! Visit her post to download them for yourself and link up. =)
 Working on this!

I read an awesome blog called Brittany, Herself -- which is a love-your-body-the-way-it-is type of blog. It is my favorite non-teaching blog... she's hilarious! Anyway, she posted about this flannel from Old Navy, and I had to have it! We have similar body types and fashion taste, so I trust her. I ordered it in XXL Buffalo Plaid (which is no longer available online, sorry!). It is oversized and comfy, just like I wanted! I also shopped in store and bought a black/white plaid in XL. Annnd, I bought my sister one for Christmas. #clearlyobsessed.

This is a hard one! I love movies! I've watched quite a few that are based on books I've read this year (If I Stay, Gone Girl, Mockingjay, Divergent, Giver, etc.), and they were great. Well, I didn't really like The Giver. But anyway, for my favorite movie, I'll go outside of that realm!

I'm not big on comic book movies, but my boyfriend wanted to see this, so I took this opportunity to see something that HE wanted so that I would be able to drag him to something I wanted to see later. That's normal, right? Well, it turns out that I loved it! Mostly the 80s references and Chris Pratt. And the raccoon.

This year, I binge-watched The Walking Dead on Netflix so that I was ready to watch with the rest of the world at the beginning of this season! I was so hesitant to start watching it. I didn't think I'd be into the whole zombie thing, but if you're a viewer, you know the show isn't all about that. So now, I'm obsessed and patiently waiting for February for new episodes!

Honestly, don't really have one. There aren't many choices around here, and I haven't ventured out and about much this year!

Kidblog! My students logged on every Friday to blog about their reading of 2-3 chapters of Because of Winn Dixie. I used this product by Where The Wild Things Learn to give students different jobs to blog about each week. Because we only have access to the mobile lab once a week, it didn't exactly work like I wanted it to, so I'll definitely be tweaking our routine when we return from break. But most of my kids were so motivated to blog, and it practiced their keyboarding skills, as well!

The happiness and healthiness of those who mean the most to be, both of the human and animal variety. I know that sounds cheesy, but we had an incident over the holiday that reminded me of this.

I traveled home for the holidays, and on Christmas Day, my sister and I noticed that one of our 9 year old cats (we rescued a set of brothers when they were babies) was breathing irregularly. We brought him in to the emergency vet, which is thankfully only about 15 minutes from my dad's house. It turns out that his chest was full of fluid. He stayed overnight and was treated, but he was diagnosed with possible heart failure. We were able to bring him home yesterday with some medicine that will help the fluid not come back and to help his sweet heart. Here he is a few Christmases ago.

My gift is that I am able to spend more time with him. I live over an hour from him, but I make it back there about once a month. I'll cherish each snuggle! We are so hopeful that this medication works and his quality of life remains high for as long as possible. We love him oh so much. <3

I've always wanted to make apps with little cups like these, but I always thought you had to make them yourself. They are a game changer!

Well, I fell off the blogging wagon in the beginning quarter of the year, and I only averaged about one post a month since then. That makes it pretty tough to pick a favorite post of my own! I guess I would choose my two recent posts about my brag tag display and my estimating sums and differences resource. These posts are what I truly love about blogging, sharing ideas that others can use!

I have two! Earlier this year, I was named Teacher of the Year in my building. I'd only been teaching for five years at that point, so it was really nice recognition. I also graduated with my Masters degree in School Counseling. Two years of hard work were all worth it when I walked across that stage!

My nephew at a local fall hot spot. LOL.

It happened on May 21st, 2014. I became an Auntie. I'll never forget that night. I drove from Dover, DE to Chester, PA to the hospital at around midnight on a Tuesday night/Wednesday morning. (Thank goodness I was team-teaching, so I didn't have to worry about detailed sub plans. I just emailed my partner from the hospital.) I got there around 1:30 and waited around until around 4 am when we got word that the baby was coming. At around 4:30, Kiyan William was here. After he was born, we went in to see him. We went home to get a few hours of sleep, then came back and spent the day with the new little family in the hospital. I'll never forget it!

(This year has been full of memories! One of my best friend's had her first child. My second best friend announced she was having her first child, & we hosted her baby shower (she's due Jan. 11). And my third best friend is getting married on the very last day of 2014, New Year's Eve!)

To accept whatever comes my way in my professional life. I am hoping that I will find a school counseling position. I put a lot of work into my degree, and I am so ready for a new challenge professionally! However, if I don't I hope to continue honing my skills as a third grade teacher through practice and professional development. My goal is to accept whatever happens and work hard to be the best educator I can be. 


This kind of goes along with my goal. If I don't end up as a school counselor in the '15-'16 SY, I will accept that and patiently await positions to open the following year. I also want to practice patience in my personal life. When you are a 28 year-old in a long-term relationship, every other question is, "When are you getting married?" or "Where's the ring?" I want to work hard to not let that affect me. When it is meant to happen, it'll happen. =)

I look forward to reading everyone else's reflections. I wish all of my readers (over 500 now, wow!) a happy and healthy start to the new year!

Monday, December 22, 2014

Holiday Traditions in the Classroom

Growing up, my family never really developed any holiday traditions. My parents are divorced, so every year was spent at a different place, visiting different family members, trying to squeeze in time with everyone. Not a lot of time for yearly traditions!

I think that's why I was eager to start my own traditions in my classroom during the holidays. This is my fifth year as a homeroom teacher (sixth year overall), and each year I do a few holiday activities. I've had students design the North Pole, study Wilson Bentley, etc. Those change from year to year. (What doesn't change is that I stink at taking pictures of all of this!)

But, there are two things that I have done every year since 2010 that I'd like to share!

Tradition #1: Puzzle Piece Ornaments

Fun fact: I made this ornament in 2nd grade, which is why I chose it to make with my students. I swipe it from my dad's tree to show to my students every year. Of course, I left it in my desk, but I'll add the photo to this post when I return to school! Mine is still intact, except all but one of the sequins have fallen off! My sister also made it because she had the same 2nd grade teacher a few years after I did. =)

By looking at the ornament, it is pretty self-explanatory as to how to make it, but here are the steps I take, and it works for me. I make it over three days, for about a half hour each day.

Materials Needed: cheap gift boxes (for the base of the ornament), cheap puzzle with small pieces, bottled glue, sequins, yarn/ribbon, spray paint (I used green or gold), glitter spray

Prior to crafting, I cut out all of the trees from gift boxes. You could have your kids do the cutting, but I don't know about your kids, but mine always lack the skill of cutting in straight lines in an efficient manner. I also hole punch the top of each tree for the ribbon.

Day 1: Students use bottled glue (not stick glue!) to glue puzzle pieces to the backing. I instruct them to glue the ornaments "puzzle picture side down." That way, the spray paint will go over the pieces evenly, and I don't have to worry about the puzzle picture peeking through. They are instructed to cover the ornament with one layer of puzzle pieces, then they may overlap if they'd like. After school on Day 1, I spray paint each tree gold or green. I let the students tell me which color they'd like beforehand. I let the trees dry overnight.

Day 2: Students use bottled glue to decorate their ornament with sequins. You could use any decor you'd like. Pipe cleaner tinsel might be cute. =) I make sure to tell students to leave a space in the middle of the tree for their picture. When students are finished, I give each tree a few sprays of craft glitter if the students want it. I let them dry overnight.

Day 3: I put each student's school picture in the middle of the tree and tie ribbon for the ornament. I give each student a white paper bag to decorate like wrapping paper. They put their ornament inside, and I staple it shut with a bag topper. Here is a finished product:

Adorable, right?! If you don't like the Christmas tree, you could do this same technique with any shape you want. I think it would look cute with whatever! I just love the "old school" look of these. Nothing flashy, just a good old fashioned keepsake. =)

Tradition #2: Miniature Stockings

I work in a low income area, and I really don't know how many students have a stocking to call their own at home. So, I make them a personalized one at school! On Monday, they see their stocking hanging, and each day after than until break I put a little treat in there. I add things like crazy straws, candy canes, pencils, stickers, homework passes, etc.

I purchase the stockings at the Dollar Tree. The sassy sequin stockings pictured are from 2012. This year, I did a mixture of snowmen, gingerbread men, and Santa. They also have traditional white/red stockings. To make sure I get the ones that I want, I start stalking the local Dollar Trees right after Thanksgiving. =)

I have two windows in my classroom, so I put up two curtain rods. I use pipe cleaners to attach the stockings to the rod, making for easy put up and take down. The kids are always so excited to take these home!

I'm linking this post up with Ashley at Just Reed for her Christmas Crafting linky!


Now that I've graduated with my Masters in School Counseling and am actively looking for a position in that field, every Christmas may be my last one with a homeroom. That makes me so sad! Any else recently leave the classroom and had to deal with this?!

Do you have any holiday traditions that you try to do in your classroom. Tell me in the comments! I hope everyone has a safe and joyful holiday!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Estimating Sums and Differences Resource

Hey everyone!

I hope everyone's year is off to a great start. I can't believe we are halfway through October already!

My class is absolutely amazing this year, and I am having such a fantastic time accelerating them and meeting their needs. I can only hope that their scores on all of the lovely assessments reflect all of the learning going on!

Besides the actual "teaching" part of teaching, I'm struggling to keep up with the demands that keep piling up. I know you all can relate. Paperwork for this, keeping a log for that. A committee for this, growth goals for that. I'm very grateful that my classroom is running so smoothly. Otherwise, all of the extra stuff would probably push me over the edge.

We are wrapping up our study of place value, addition, subtraction, and estimation. These skills take up the entire first marking period so that we are certain that students have a solid foundation before moving on to other concepts. Side note: I am SO excited to get these kids rolling with multiplication and division. I'm anxious to see how far I can push them!

I've always found estimating sums and differences a pretty dry concept to teach.

What is a teacher to do?
Add dice, point values, and call it a game, of course!

My students had a great time playing this game, which I dubbed Estimating Extravaganza! It turned out to be a great way to practice this skill. I saw a few games similar to this when I was browsing, but I wanted to make it a little more involved. Each round has a different set of directions. The rounds include both two and three digit numbers, and it calls for estimating both sums and differences.

Click the picture or link to download. Please let me know what you think! =)

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!