Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Oh, Toodles!

I start school on Monday, but I'm kind of in denial.

Because of that, I'm going to share something crafty but not school related!

In May, we gave my super cute nephew a Mickey Mouse Clubhouse 1st Birthday Party! As you may know, I don't have any kids of my own just yet, so I do whatever I can to light up this kid's life. I mean, look at him. Seriously.

So, clearly, my arm had to be twisted to pull out the ol' Cameo and get to work! One thing I knew I wanted to make was a Mickey head garland! I searched Pinterest and came upon a tutorial on a blog called That's What {Che} Said. (Cute name, right!) Click HERE for her tutorial on how to make Mickey heads using your Cameo!

Here is how mine turned out!

Next, I was inspired by a pin from a website called Catch My Party. Click HERE for the original idea! Again, I used my Cameo for a majority of it. The Mickeys are stickers from Michaels, and "we've got" is also made up of stickers. You may notice that all capital letters were used in the first picture, while some were substituted in the other. We had a few sticker casualties in transport, but crisis averted. I had extra lowercase.

What do you think?

Last, we had a little photo booth going! I bought the chalkboard speech bubbles and chalk pen from Michaels. My sister, who does not fancy herself a craft person, made the Mickey frame from cardboard. I was one proud sis!

On the work front, I'm going into school tomorrow to get started on my office and to turn in my first comprehensive school counseling plan. [YIKES!]

Before pictures coming soon. After pics... hopefully soon after!

Monday, August 3, 2015

Assess Me Linky: Week Two

I'm back to link up with The Tattooed Teacher for week two of the assess me linky! 

Let me explain!

You'll never catch me in a skirt! I'm a pants kind of girl for work & jeans kind of girl for dress down.

For someone who's had many different piercings, I don't really wear earrings anymore. I've had several ear piercings, including two in each lobe, my tragus, rook, and industrial. For professional reasons, I decided to let my tragus and industrial close up a few years ago. I rarely, if ever, wear any earrings in my lobes, but my rook stays in. Choosing necklace was even tough, because I'm not much of a jewelry person anyway, but at times I'll grab something to coordinate with an outfit.

I'm kind of a master at late 90s, early 2000s rap. NBD.

Like I said, not much of a jewelry person. But with the stuff I do wear, I don't discriminate!

I was born & raised in the suburbs. I love being close enough to the city (most preferably Philly!) to come and go as I please, but be able to come home to my neighborhood.

I prefer to buy clothes/shoes in store, but everything else online.

Definitely shower. I can't even tell you the last time I got in a bath. Yuck.

Ya know the people at work who you know EVERYTHING about, including their drama. That's not me. I'm pretty private.

I'm a homebody, but I like to keep myself busy enough to not be bored!

Let's be real. Unless its a work day, I'm not even up in time for breakfast. But I do love breakfast food!

Iced coffee, please!

This post is being typed at 1:15 AM. Also, I've been called Garfield. I hate mornings!

I'm a low maintenance gal.

I love the sound of rain, but I can do without the thunder and lightning!

Heels are my nemesis. I wear them if necessary, like for weddings and class picture day. =)

I have great memories taking the train. I frequented the train in and around Philly when I lived closer. I've done NYC and DC by train. I've done Colorado to Utah on a gorgeous ride. I love the dining cars on long rides and just the whole feel!

I love Girls! However, I don't have HBO, so I wait until Comcast has their free weekend on demand and watch the entire season in one weekend. #noshame

I'm an indoor person, but if the weather is right I love the park! I've only been to Central Park once, though.

Click the image at the top to link up!

P.S. My store is all ready for the big B2S sale on TPT. I've recently updated a few of my free and paid products.

720 × 90

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Currently August

Hey everyone! I'm back to link up with Farley for this month's currently!

Listening: I'm not really sure why I always choose to watch things like 48 Hours, Criminal Minds, and Unsolved Mysteries in the middle of the night.

Loving: Ah, I love my planner! I'll be posting soon about it & the cute stickers that I also ordered from Etsy!

Thinking: Moving on...

Wanting: My blog design is in its final stages, and I can't wait for it to go live. (It's live now! Don't you love it!) Kristen did an amazing job!

Needing: New job means new apartment. I'm moving about an hour north next weekend. Still have lots of packing to do. My cat, however, would much rather me leave all of the boxes empty so that she can pretend it's a fort.

B2S RAK: As the new school counselor, I'll be working with all of the staff in the building pretty closely. I'll be leaving them a welcome treat. =)

Click Farley's button above to link up!

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Assess Me! Linky

What a fun idea for a linky! Assessment is one of those words that should not be spoken in my general direction during the summer time. We get enough of that during the school year, amiright?! But in this case, it's okay.

I've gotten quite a few new followers over the past month, so I thought I'd participate so you can get to know the girl behind the blog!

1. Yep, mostly when I'm anxious. I practice a little self-talk here and there!
2. Not at all.
3. I crack everything. Fingers, toes, ankles, neck. It isn't cute, I know. I can't help it!
4. Eh, I'm good.
5. Heck yes! My last place Phillies are on somewhat of a hot streak.
6. Yep.
7. Moving on...
8. I went to Disney World a handful of times as a kid. Haven't been back in over a decade.
9. Since 6th grade. I'm sort of known for my specks.
10. No, but I'm only one state over and within driving distance!

Head over to The Tattooed Teacher to link up!

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Blog Limbo

My blog has been a lot quieter than I'd like lately. I'm in sort of a blog limbo, with a few things on the horizon but nothing quite ready to share!


I'm in the process of a blog redesign by Kristin at Teaching in a Nutshell Designs. After looking around for a designer, I loved her portfolio and went with her! With that design change will be a name change. So scary! I'll officially be a school counselor blogger! I hope that my teacher followers will stick with me, though. I don't think you'll be disappointed.


I ordered a planner from Plum Paper that just shipped! I actually chose a student planner instead of the teacher planner. As a school counselor, I won't need the extra section that is in the back of the teacher planner. The student planner gives me the teacher layout, but without that. I'm hoping that this will fit my needs better. There is a section for quizzes/tests, but I bought stickers to cover that section title. I can't wait to show you when it gets here! Here is the design that I chose, but I chose to get rid of the monogram.

Please do not pin this image. Click the image to visit the store. =)


I'm also in office limbo! I'm hoping to get into my new office tomorrow while I'm at school for a meeting. I hope to post before and after pictures once I get settled. Going from classroom to office, I have to downsize my belongings. (I. HAVE. SO. MUCH. STUFF.) I'm looking forward to getting in there and getting started!

Well, that's it! Hopefully one of the three above will be ready to post about within the week.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Currently July

Popping in quickly to link up with Meghan for another Currently!

Listening: Nothing makes you feel like more of a bum that when the "Are you still watching..." notification pops up mid-binge.

Loving: Self-explanatory.

Thinking: Picture is worth a thousand words.

Wanting: Every time I hang out with my work friends, it makes me more sad to leave them next school year. I know this change is for the best, but that doesn't make it less painful! They are the best!

Needing: I've lost about ten pounds in the last month by cleaning up my diet. I have much more to lose, and I need to incorporate exercise to make up for my sedentary summer lifestyle!

All Star: I've always been told that I'm a great listener. So much so that I'm a popular person to vent to in various aspects of my life. This skill solidifies my career choice as a school counselor. =)

Click her button at the top of this post to link up! =)

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Summer Reading Recommendations

I LOVE posting about what I'm reading. (Hence my posts here, here, here, here, and here! Yikes. Click those links for more book recommendations!) What I love even more is reading about what others are reading! Because of that, my to-read list on Goodreads is a mile long and always expanding. Darn you, talented authors!

So I'm linking up (a little late!) with Lucky to Be in First for a Summer Reading Linky! These lists are obviously abbreviated. Enjoy!

Prisoner B-3087: I saw this book on another blogger's list, and it looks pretty interesting.

Me Before You: I bought this book on my Kindle a while ago but haven't gotten to it. What better time than the summer!

Wonder: I started this book during D.E.A.R. time with my students, but toward the end of the year, I used that time to catch up on paper work. Bad teacher! So, I brought this hard copy home to finish!

101 Solutions & How Children Succeed: Some professional reading for my new job.

Life in a Jar: I loved this book for a couple reasons. Number one, I love narrative nonfiction. One of my favorite genres! Also, the secondary plot is about how a teacher ignites a love of learning in a group of girls, which leads them to learn more about this historical, yet widely unknown, woman, Irena Sendler.

And the Mountains Echoed: From the author of Kite Runner & Thousand Splendid Suns. The stories he writes are just so beautiful, and they are always a tangled web of characters. I gave this one 4 stars, only because I kind of needed to draw a character map to keep track of all of the connections between them! But it is worth the read!

The Martian: So stoked that this is going to be a movie. With Matt Damon. Bonus. All about a guy getting left on Mars. Loved it!

Up the Down Staircase: I'm reading this now, and I can't put it down. It was written in the 60s, and it is proof that much about teaching has not changed much! It is about a young woman who is a fictional teacher in an urban high school. It chronicles her relationships, struggles, and successes. 110% recommend! Apparently, it was made into a movie a few decades ago that I might need to track down and check out.

Tuck Everlasting: I read this with my above level students this year, and we fell in love. We watched the movie during the last week of school, and they were so excited! Don't you love when that happens?

Thanks for reading. Any other suggestions? Comment below!

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Greek and Latin Root Center

This product is truly a labor of love, and I am so looking forward to sharing it with you! I have been working on it all school year, adding to it as I've been using it. It is finally prepped and ready for all of you to check out!

This product includes root posters, vocabulary maps, worksheets, and flash cards for 37 of the most common Greek and Latin roots. It is meant to aid in introducing and enforcing a root per week in a mid/upper elementary classroom. This worked really well for me in an gifted/talented third grade classroom, so the target audience would probably be third through fifth grade. However, if you have a group of well above level learners in second grade, they would enjoy this, too. It can also be adapted for middle school review. The roots vary in difficulty, so you could give younger students the most common roots, such as aqua, multi, or phon. You don't have to go in alphabetical order, so you can go in any order that you think will work for your students!

Here is a closer look at what is included in the download.

Not pictured, but also included, is an editable document so that you may add additional roots that are not in the 37 that I included. I only tried to include roots that had 5-6 developmentally appropriate words that corresponded, but I'm sure there are more that you teach in your classroom!

Full disclosure, I'm SO sad that I won't be using this product next year due to accepting my new position as the school counselor. My kids l-o-v-e-d this center, and it really motivated them to break apart words to decipher their meanings. It also made them "feel like big kids!"

This product is on sale for 20% off for the time being. That is only $8 for a routine/center that will last you the ENTIRE year! Click one of the pictures or HERE to check it out. Let me know what you think if you download! I also put the rest of my store on sale, too.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Freebie Makeover

Things are a little crazy around these parts due to my new job and moving out of my classroom. So while I am not taking part in the whole TPT challenge (it is wayyyy too involved!), I was inspired to make over one of my free products.

That's pretty depressing, no? No cover. No directions. Tons of downloads, but only 2 ratings. Since I posted that freebie ages ago, I've made a few more variations that ease my students into more difficult concepts. The layout stays the same, but different elements are replaced each time. Some elements stay, such as the fact family triangle, because it is versatile. In the first marking period, I do addition/subtraction. After that, I start with simple multiplication, working my way up to more difficult numbers.

Here is the cover update!

 calendar math

Now, the download includes three calendar math templates and a suggested use page. Muuuuuch better! Click the cover page to head over to TPT and check out how I incorporate calendar math!

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Counseling... in the First State?

I am so happy to announce that I've accepted a position as an Elementary School Counselor in upstate Delaware.

The interview alluded to in my Currently post was followed up by teaching a couple of guidance lessons in front of students, the principal, and out-going school counselor.

I am very anxious to start this new chapter in my career. I will miss being a classroom teacher more than I can express. However, I've always known that my true calling was to be a counselor. So, I'm trading in my reading and math binders for McKinney-Vento and 504 binders.

As far as Third Grade in the First State goes, I want to keep blogging at this address. A name change will come over the summer. Suggestions are welcome! I'm thinking "From Classroom to Counselor" or something along those lines?

As far as content, you can take the girl out of third grade, but you can't take third grade out of the girl! I still plan on posting relevant content for elementary educators. The only difference will be that now, counseling/guidance content will be the main focus.

I hope that you stick with me through this journey! I'm excited to share everything I learn as I begin my new career!

Thursday, June 4, 2015

June Currently

It has been a hot minute since I participated in a Currently, and since I have the day off today, I thought I'd jump in!

Listening: My poor, poor Phillies. We are in rebuilding mode, and it is painful. We've somehow won the past two in exciting, walk off fashion. It is exciting, though, to watch our future get their first chances in the big leagues.

Loving: Only 4.5 left with students. Only 7.5 til sweet, sweet summertime!

Thinking: End of the year obligations are bananas. So much paperwork. More just got dropped on my plate today that has to be sent to the school my kids go to next year. Looks like my teacher bag is going to be full this weekend.

Wanting: I had the day off today because I had an interview for a school counseling position upstate. Please send good vibes my way! I want this one, badly!

Needing: This week has been so rainy and blah. We took our annual trip to Washington, DC and had to eat lunch on the bus because it was just gross outside. Now, I'm not saying it needs to jump back to 90 degrees like it was this week, but 70s and sunny would be a great way to end the school year!

Summer Lovin': I can't wait to have more time to spend with my nephew, who had a first birthday a couple of weeks ago! My summer TV line up is a little ridiculous. This summer will include: Orange in the New Black, Orphan Black, Graceland, Extant, Under the Dome, unReal, Wet Hot American Summer, SYTYCD, Bachelorette, The Walking Dead spin off, and probably more I'm forgetting. I DVR everything and watch most of it while my boyfriend is at work. Because I'm nice.

Also, if you're a long time reader, you know that animal rescue is near and dear to my heart. I've been a foster mom for about five years, taking a break recently because I adopted one of my foster cats. I support anyone who is helping to make a difference in the lives of those with four paws! So, I made a donation to help WAG in Wimberley. I can't imagine losing everything, but losing a pet would just break me to the core. Think about donating to help board these displaced animals. Click over to Farley's site using her linked button below and help out. Every dollar helps. Thank you, Farley, for championing this cause!

I have a few posts that I'm finishing up, so you'll see me soon!

Sunday, April 26, 2015

A "Thank You" Freebie

I logged in to Blogger to see this today:

Whether you are a follower who reads every post or a visitor who found me via Pinterest, I thank you for stopping by. This statistic may seem small to some of the more popular bloggers, but to me, it means the world.

As a thank you, I'd like to share a freebie. As we all know, a big part of close reading is annotating text. In my class, I call it "leaving tracks."

When first introducing annotation, I ask my students to close their eyes and imagine themselves in a snowy forest. I ask them to imagine a deer passing in front of them. The deer quietly walks off in to the distance. We talk about what the deer leaves behind. The answer is tracks. Just like an animal leaves tracks as proof of where it has been, good readers leave tracks in order to prove they/ve read a text closely and understand (or do not understand) it.

At the beginning of the year, I print and laminate these bookmarks. They look bright and beautiful when printed in color, but they also look nice when printed in black/white on bright paper.

I give my students many different tracks that they can use, and I encourage them to create their own if they'd like. These are just a few of the "tracks" I encourage my students to leave, sort of a jumping off point. Others include LOL for something funny, a heart for something they love, a happy or sad face for something they liked or did not like, etc. (If you can't tell, my symbol for a connection is the infinity symbol.)

Click the image below if you'd like to download the freebie in Google Docs. Please comment if it is something you'll use in your classroom. =)

close reading annotation bookmark

Thank you again to my followers and visitors!

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Updated Research Writing Freebie

Almost three years ago (YIKES, I've been blogging a long time!), I posted about my research writing endeavors. Writing can be tricky to teach, but I've always looked forward to showing my students research techniques!

That post is one of my most popular posts! Back then, when I had no idea what I was doing, I posted a freebie used Scribd. Whaaaat? So at the request of a commenter, I updated the post so that you can download the freebie in Google Docs. I gave it a facelift, as well. =)




I'm actually about to begin this project in my classroom this year. My kids have learned to research using both print and digital sources, and we are finishing up our career research projects. The animal research project (and craft!) is one they will do with less guidance.

Visit the old post HERE to read more about the project details and download the freebie. =)

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Let's Talk About: Schedules

Hey everyone! Like many of you, I am currently on Spring Break! Luckily, we didn't lose any days due to snow, so I'm off 4/3 through 4/12. It has been great so far. Definitely the recharge I need! While I have time, I thought I'd link up with Schroeder Shenanigans to talk about my daily schedule. It has been really interesting to see how others put together their day and how much time is allocated for certain things.

I don't have much say in my schedule. My day is structured by our administration, and we must stick to it. A lot of that is because we have scheduled RTI times (for both reading and math) where we have paraprofessionals and our special teachers (art, music, etc.) take groups. They are usually given the on/above level groups, and we are expected to prepare materials and lessons for them to present. I'm very thankful that we have push in help. It helps in differentiation and in meeting time requirements for RTI.

I was also taken back by how many of you do not have a planning period daily. On weeks we have PLC (which is most weeks), we have planning four of the five days. But even on that one day, I still have recess free. I already stay at work for an extra hour and half every day. If I didn't have planning, I would need to live there. I feel for you guys.

Anyway, here's my schedule with some elaboration afterward.

Our doors open at 8 am. Students may either come right down to the classroom or visit the cafeteria for free breakfast. During this time, some third grade students are hallway monitors and kindergarten volunteers. Morning work is completed as well. I have my students complete spelling activities (in leu of spelling homework). Students are marked late if they have not arrived by 8:25. Morning routine is finished up with announcements that are video streamed live.

Next is our main reading block. This time is spent working on our current skill in a variety of different ways. We do not have a reading series, so this looks different on any given day. Sometimes we are working in our INBs or using Storyworks for high interest text. It might be whole group instruction or working in partners. Just depends. Each day, I try to allocate at least 10 minutes for students to drop everything and read (DEAR) with a book on their level. Sometimes they get more or less. Again, it just depends. =)

For both Math and Reading RTI, I have a two session rotation. I posted about my math rotations HERE, although that was a couple years ago so it has changed a little. Now, I do rotations all five days and changed some things, but that post can paint a general picture. My two reading rotations are back to back, but my math rotations are split by lunch.

Brain Break=Go Noodle=My kids are obsessed. My school has a grant that allows us to get fresh fruits and veggies a few days a week. If there is a delivery that day, we enjoy our snack at this time.

My writing block involves explicit instruction on various types of writing and taking writing pieces through the writing process. We did mentor sentences for the first half of the year, and my kids loooved it. However, since Christmas, this block has been spent doing SBAC test prep. No comment. But I have been doing performance task prep, so at least writing is being integrated.

Whole group math involves a lot of notebooking, manipulatives, anchor charts, and partner work. Math instruction is my fave! Again, we don't have a series, so this block looks different depending on the day and the concept.

I have duty-free lunch every day. I have recess duty every third week. My teammates and I are on a rotating schedule, so it is nice to get a little extra time to get things done every now and then.

For science and social studies, I typically teach a half of a marking period of science, then switch to social studies for the remainder. Not ideal. I integrate both into reading as much as possible.

From there, my students go to special, and I've made it to my planning period! Whoooop! Like I said, I have planning four out of five days of the week. Having planning at the end of the day has its pros and cons. It makes for a looooong day, but it also allows me to get started cleaning up the chaos from the past day and prepping for the day ahead!

Well, there it is! Looking forward to hear more about your schedules, too!

Friday, February 27, 2015

Kate DiCamillo

So far this year, my class has read three of Kate DiCamillo's books. I bought a box set of her books at the beginning of the year from Scholastic because I was interested in building my library. I knew I wanted several books by the same author so that kids could fall in love with a style of writing. Right now, I have DiCamillo, Dahl, Clements, Blume, Cleary, Polacco, and Bunting bins.

Anyway, we started off the year with Because of Winn Dixie as our first literature circle book. All of the groups did the same book so that we could learn our routine. My students loved it and couldn't wait to blog about it and discuss it every week. I'm about to send permission slips home so that we can watch the movie. My kids deserve it, being that we've pretty much had inside recess every day for the past two months. 

(cover pictures from http://www.katedicamillo.com/)
After that, we began The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane as a read aloud. I can't say enough about this book. My kids were hanging on to every word and would beg to hear more. They were so sad when we finished it! I like this as a read aloud; I probably wouldn't use it as a literature circle book. Not saying it is bad for that purpose, but I feel like the kids enjoy it more as listeners, without assignments attached.

Today, we finished "The Tiger Rising." Meh. Most of kids were so into it, but I wasn't! Some of them even said it was their favorite of the three. Whhhaaaat?! But, that's why they pay me the big bucks, to act enthusiastic. Don't get me wrong, the writing was beautiful. I just wasn't 100% invested in the characters or plot.

So I'm trying to decide if we should read another of Ms. DiCamillo's books or try another author. Many of my students had Tale of Despereaux read aloud to them last year by their second grade teacher, so I don't want to do that one.

Has anyone read "The Magician's Elephant" or "Flora and Ulysses?" Are either similar to any of her other books?

Friday, February 20, 2015

Discussion Groups in the Classroom (& a freebie!)

I love it when my students are engaged in high quality discussions about the text we are working with. At this point in the school year, our discussions are on topic and flowing smoothly. What a beautiful thing! Music to a teacher's ears!

We all have different ways of structuring class discussions. I've come up with a structure that works really well in my classroom. It can be difficult to harness the thoughts and words of a eight/nine year old, but I've found that this does the job for me.

I've found that the best discussions happen when everyone has a job to do. When a discussion is a free-for-all, you all know what happens. The same 1-2 kids take monopoly of the entire conversation, while the wallflower types just listen. Listening is a great skill to have, but I feel that every student should voice their opinion, even if it is just to agree or disagree with what another student said. And all of that is assuming that the conversation is even on topic. I don't know about you, but I feel like the speaking/listening standards are way too important (and underutilized) for these scenarios to become the norm.

I've always arranged my room using tables. I do a lot of group work, investigations, and discussions, and it just wouldn't work if I used rows and columns. This year, I have 25 students, so I have desks arranged in six groups. One group with five students and the rest with four. This year, I used The Brown Bag Teacher's editable desk tags.

Do not pin this image. Visit TPT to view/pin the product.

This allows me to categorize my students in several different ways. When lining up, I can call tables by color. I could also call all "A" or "B" students or "1s" or "2s". When summarizing a lessons, I often have As discuss with the other A at their table, and Bs doing the same. If I change student seats, I just reassign the tags accordingly. They are not taped down. You can assign students strategically so that you control groups and partners. The product is very versatile. Couldn't recommend enough!

So, how do I use all of this to conduct discussion groups in my classroom? 

Students know that their number signifies their discussion group. I have all ones go to a spot in the room, twos go to other spot, and so on. One group gets the carpet, another at my small group table, another on the floor at the front of the room, and another at a table. The groups are spaced far enough apart so that they can focus on their discussion. Each student needs to bring their text (the book, article, or passage we are working with). If their group is on the floor or carpet, they may grab a clipboard.

Once in their group, I give each student a card which is their discussion role assignment. There are four roles, and they are all modeling and practiced so that expectations are clear. The roles are Discussion Leader, Speaker, Notetaker, and Team Member. Each group has one discussion leader, one speaker, one notetaker, and 3 team members. These posters are hung as a reminder of discussion expectations.



Our favorite texts to discuss are articles from Storyworks (by Scholastic). The subscription comes with critical thinking questions, and sometimes, questions are imbedded right into the text. Instead of writing responses, we discuss them. But, this can used with any text, as long as your discussion topics/questions involve higher order thinking. They obviously shouldn't be yes/no questions!

As students are discussing the text, I simply walk around and listen. If you wanted to be more formal, you could develop a checklist to track student responses and participation or use a form and take anecdotal notes. To keep time, I use a countdown timer on the smart board, and I give 2-3 minutes per question.


Are you interested in trying out this method of running discussion groups? Download the freebie by clicking the picture below. It includes discussion cards and expectation posters. Please leave feedback! =)