Sunday, August 25, 2013

A Peek at My Week - A New Linky Party

 I have been cleaning house all morning and decided to take a well deserved break.  Of course, I headed straight to my laptop to catch up on some blog reading (my favorite genre these days!).  However, I never made it past the first one I read.  Why?  Because I found a new linky party from Mrs. Laffin's Laughings... A Peek at My Week!

So here's the scoop...A Peek at My Week gives us a chance to share whatever it is that we have coming up this week.  It can be in the classroom, at home, or a combination of both.  You never know what little gems you might find through this linky!  I LOVE this idea.

What do I have planned for the week?  

We're heading into our second topic in math (rounding/adding/subtracting whole numbers/decimals) and I stumbled across a great resource at the Lakeshore Outlet store earlier this month.  This book has leveled practice pages which many of my kiddos are going to need this year.  We're not implementing common core until next year, but this book has far better practice pages than our current math adoption.

I'm sure everyone already knows about Ideas by Jivey's mentor sentence units, but this is my first year using them...LOVE them!  We're starting our second week.  The first week's work (First Day Jitters) was entirely guided and went wonderfully well.  This week we'll be reading Enemy Pie!

My fun project for the week will be setting up our new FREE aquarium.  I know, I know. I already wrote about this in my last post, but I'm so excited! To be honest, I can't remember which blog I found it on, but this earlier this summer I read about   If you've been thinking about getting a class pet, go take a peek.  

I've got a couple of fun activities planned for the kids.  We'll be trying to Save Fred (check out Fabulous Fourth Grade Froggies for the directions) and working with partners for Two on a Crayon.  I love this activity.  It's a great lesson on cooperation and non-verbal communication.  Students are paired up and given one crayon and one piece of paper.  They both hold onto the crayon and attempt to draw a picture without speaking to each other.  While the drawings are always comical, the students reflections about the experience are what makes this activity so valuable.  Go check it out. 

On the homefront....I'm getting ready for my son's visit from Italy.  He's only here for Labor Day weekend and I plan to make the most of it.  My goal is to have next week's lessons planned by Thursday so I can have a work-free weekend.

That's a Peek at My Week.  Put down your plan book and go link up with Mrs. Laffin.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Saturday Snapshots...

Technically it is still Saturday as I type this.  My day was filled with errands and I was thinking I'd sit down and spend my evening writing this post.  Not so!  I got an email from my son who lives in Italy saying he was going to 'drop' by next weekend.  Suddenly I have a 'to-do' list a mile long.  I knocked a few things off of it tonight and decided to make some time to link up with Miss Nelson's Saturday Snapshots.

It was a crazy, busy first FULL week back in school.  I've got 34 very chatty personalities who bound through my door every morning. They. Wear. Me. Out.  I didn't have time to catch my breath let alone take many pictures this week, but here are a few...

 Hard at work already.  This class needs to move and they need to do it often!  I'm going to give them every opportunity to spread out as much as they can.

 Our Dream Quilt squares came out really cute.  We managed to finish them and have them displayed before Back to School Night on Thursday.

 Costco surprised our school with a backpack for every child from 1st through 5th grade.  Not every child in my class wanted one.  They asked if they could donate them to 'needy kids'.  It makes my heart smile because our school serves the lowest economic area in the city.  We have nearly 100% free/reduced lunch kiddos.  They may not come to school well supplied and nicely dressed, but they definitely come with big hearts.

I came home to a 70 pound Pottery Barn box on my front porch this week and immediately set to putting together this bookcase.  I bought the baskets at the Container Store and have been waiting for over a month for the bookcase to come.  So excited!

 Friday had a rough start.  The Wild Ones went outside around 4 in the morning and made friends with a skunk.  Then they came in and 'shared' their adventure with us.  3 dogs + 1 skunk = well, there are no words to describe it.  Luckily my husband was a trooper about the whole ordeal and took the morning off from work to do the whole scrub-a-dub-dub-three-pups-in-a-tub thing.  For future reference, the baking soda, peroxide, and Dawn dish detergent remedy really does work!

 Tucker was obviously the ring leader in all of this and took the most direct hit from the skunk.

 Friday was not only skunk day, it was a minimum day because we had Back to School Night on Thursday.  While we could have left work at 11:45, we opted to stay and get our planning and copying done for next week.  Fours hours and one trip to Starbucks later, we were ready for a nap!

As exhausted as I was, I rushed home, showered and got ready for a night out.  My nephew is a bass guitarist and was playing at the Rellik Tavern here in town.  Let's just say that no one had to twist my arm to go listen to some great music and drink pomegranate cosmos after the day I had.

Alright, that brings me to my errand filled Saturday.  This was the highlight.  Have you heard about  If you've been wanting a classroom pet, you have to go check it out.  All you have to do is fill out an online application, answer a few questions, choose a classroom pet, and they'll send you a coupon for a free habitat (depending on the type of animal you choose) and a couple of other coupons for a discount on the animal, food, and necessary supplies.  I submitted an application for funding last month and received my letter of approval and coupons this week.  I'm now the proud owner of a FREE 10 gallon deluxe aquarium ($70 value!) and a yet unnamed betta fish.  I'll be setting it up in the classroom on Monday.  The kids are going to love it!  It's been awhile since I've had anything alive in the room.  In the past I've had quite a zoo with rats, bearded dragons, boa constrictors, leopard geckos, a tarantula named Bob, king snakes, and hamsters.  I've been wanting another class pet for awhile now and this made the decision easy!  Go check out the website.

Okay, that's my week.  It's not officially midnight here so this still counts as SATURDAY Snapshots, not Sunday.  I'm hopping over to Miss Nelson's to see what everyone else has been up the morning.  For now, I'm off to find my pillow!

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Saturday Snapshots and Saying Goodbye

Whew!  I made it through the first three days of school.  It wasn't an easy start and my head still isn't 'in the game' as they say.  School started on Wednesday and, very sadly and somewhat unexpectedly, my mother-in-law passed away on Tuesday.  We made the decision that I'd go to work.  I honestly couldn't imagine not starting off the year with my class.  It was certainly a tough go.

Today was spent cleaning out her apartment.  Five of her grandchildren and one great grandkiddo were  there to help.  The day was filled with memories of all sorts.  Each time someone found another 'treasure', there were stories to be shared.  I have a feeling she was right there with us.

With such a crazy week, I only have a few photos to share.  I decided to link up Miss Nelson's Saturday Snapshots anyway.

I have to start with a picture of my mother-in-law.  This woman had more love in her heart than most people I've known.  The world is a bit emptier without her in it.

One of my little guys came up to me on Day 1 and handed me this apple and the Jif to Go wrapped up with a ribbon.

After I dismissed the kids on Thursday, I found this tiny little apple on my desk.  It just made me smile.

I ordered an Erin Condren planner for my daughter and it arrived yesterday!  I love it!  I almost wish I had ordered one for myself now.  I can't wait to give it to her.  She doesn't know that I added a few extra words for the front cover.  I wonder if she'll notice?

That's all I've got for this week.  It's been a long one.  Be sure to stop by Miss Nelson's to see what other folks are up to this week.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

A Whole Different Flavor for Saturday Snapshots and How to Spend 73.5 Cents

 , what a difference a week makes!  Last week I was camping by a gorgeous lake and this week....well, I'm not.  The scenery was a bit less scenic this week.  I'm still linking up with Miss Nelson though!

Every June we are asked to stack our chairs and push our desks and tables to the perimeter of the room because a crew will be coming in to 'deep clean'.  The crew's idea of 'deep cleaning' and mine are very, very different, but that's a whole 'nother subject!  We are also asked to post a floor map of how we want our room to be set up after the 'not-so-deep' cleaning.  So I drew it and taped it to the white board.  I wish I had saved it to show you what the room would have looked like had they looked at my neatly drawn map, but here's what I found on Monday:

The map showed nice little groups, not rows.  The mess on the front two rows is my doing.  I obviously unloaded some of my back to school treasures before snapping a few pictures.  I decided I had to be color coordinated with my poly binders this year.  LOVE the colors!

That world map that you see leaning against the white board has countries on it that no longer exist.  It is probably close to qualifying as an antique. You can see my floor plan map taped on the board to the left of the antique world map.  Proof that it was there!

Looking at this picture reminds me that I need to bring something to fix that drawer handle on my desk!

Ugh.  I have work to do.

So this is my coffee view THIS Saturday as opposed to my view LAST Saturday.  My kitchen table isn't looking any better than my classroom this morning.  Can you find Waldo?  No, he's not really in there, but you can see my life on this table.  Receipts, a pile of papers to file...yea right, who am I kidding? nail polish, ribbon, a laminator, my Fitbit, unfinished projects, my iPad, a Really Good Stuff catalogue in case I need more really good stuff, and my car keys in case i find time to escape.

And I managed to escape! Our little town has a great Peddlars' Faire on First Street (our version of Main St.)  My daughter and I enjoyed a stroll through the fair this morning and shared this:

I love funnel cake.  I probably haven't had it in years, but it was as yummy as I remember it!  I found this adorable scarf that I just had to have.  It's covered with colorful books! LOVE it!

Ahhhhhh... aromatherapy.  I bought these essential oil sprays.  The 40 Winks For You is lavender based and the Serenity Now has frankencense, spruce, and orange.    Mmmmmmm.  

That's it for my Saturday Snapshots.  Run over to Miss Nelson's to check out much more interesting photos!

Now to change gears. . .
What can you buy for 3 quarters?  They've cut our monthly supply budget in half which means that I now have 73.5 cents to spend on each child in my classroom each month.  The only thing we're given for supplies during the year are 2-3 class sets of Expo markers.  Everything else comes out of our classroom budget: binder paper, construction paper, pencils, crayons, Xerox paper, etc.  If it isn't a text book or a published consumable, then it's paid for with our classroom budget.  73.5 cents isn't going to go very far to keep these kids in supplies.  Time to organize a pencil and paper drive!  

I'll end this with a little bit of Gus.  I'm going to miss hanging out with the Wild Ones!


Sunday, August 4, 2013

Saturday Snapshots on Sunday!

I know, it's Sunday.  Saturday is gone, but so was I so I couldn't link up for Miss Nelson's Saturday Snapshots yesterday.  But I'm BACK now!  Here's what I've been up to this week:

We went camping with our niece and her boyfriend at Upper Blue Lake in the Sierras.  This is one of those hidden gems not far from Lake Tahoe.  It was our first time here and it's our new favorite camping destination.

Our view in the morning.
 My husband loves his morning coffee making routine.  While I'm still buried in my sleeping bag, he's out there brewing coffee.  I love that he does such a fabulous job providing me with a steaming hot, fresh cup of coffee out in the wild.

Enjoying my morning coffee with the Wild Ones.

We watched the sunrise every morning.  Sometimes there were a few anglers on the beach, but we were usually the only early birds taking in the view.

The Wild Ones thoroughly enjoyed themselves.  They raced up and down the beach constantly until their paws were too tender to run any more.  They're still worn out hours after getting home.  It will likely take them a few days to recover.
The Wild Ones
 This was a view we had as we hiked on the other side of the lake.

The Wild Ones ran free on our seven mile hike.  This was the easy part of the hike.  The flat part. Shortly after I took this picture, we started to climb uphill.  We had to scramble up hillsides, over rocks, and through brush.  I was the slow one in the group.  Everytime I got winded, I made the excuse that I needed to take another picture.  I think they caught on to me eventually.

Our hike ended up at this pristine little lake.  My niece's boyfriend scrambled to the peak on the opposite side of the lake while we relaxed on the shoreline.  I waded in the water (brrrr) and had little fish nibbling on my toes.
Granite Lake
 We're not much for campfires when we're camping alone, but our niece brought chocolate, marshmallows, graham crackers...well you get the picture...give me some s'mores and I'm game!  This picture was taken post-s'mores. We look pretty content don't we?
Relaxing by the fire.
  Evidence that even the Wild Ones wear out eventually.

 This was the perfect end to a great summer break.  I'm rested and rejuvenated. Tomorrow I'll be heading back to school to get my classroom ready and to help my daughter set up her room.  While it's tough to leave the lazy days of summer behind, I'm excited about the start of the new school year.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Back to School Goals and the Last Day of a Great Giveaway

I'm going to start off with a shout out to the folks at The Teaching Tribune.  If you haven't been over to visit, today is the day to do it.  This is the last day of their Hot Off the Press Back to School Exclusive.  The grand prize:  a Google Nexus tablet.  Yep, you read that right!  And if all the fabulous prizes they've given away weren't amazing enough, the blog hop they organized was a blast!  I have a folder on my laptop filled with freebies that I now have to sort through and organize.  Go enter while there's still time!

Well, we're all packed up (almost) and ready to head up to the Sierras for our last camping adventure of the summer.  We did the trial run with the three Wild Ones last week (pictures here) and it went so well that we've decided to bring them along for this trip.  It's not quite as bad as packing for a toddler, but the Wild Ones have a pretty full 'suitcase' packed with leashes, toys, treats, blankies, bones, dishes, etc!  I'm particularly excited about this trip because it is going to be the first time since my shoulder surgeries (yeah that's plural...long story) that I get to paddle my stand up board.  I've just started swimming again this week too so YAY!  Should be a fun get away! Anyway, all that to say this, I wanted to make sure to link up with I {Heart} Recess for the Back to School Goals linky before I left the land of internet connection.  So here goes:

Personal:  I had this same goal last year and I did fairly well with it.  I actually scheduled 'me' time into my day.  It is so easy to let it slide, especially at the beginning of the school year when life suddenly gets chaotic and crazy.  But that's when it is even more important to carve out some time for ME.  It might be exercising, reading, relaxing, playing with the Wild doesn't matter as long as it's MY time to do what I want to.

Organization:  I start off staying fairly organized and then, sometime in mid September, the piles on my desk begin to multiply.  So the goal is to file not pile.  I'm thinking I can stick to this until at least Halloween.  Beyond that, there are no guarantees!

Planning:  I've started a seed journal.  When a great idea pops into my head, I jot it down in my journal.  It isn't very organized, just a series of random seemingly great ideas scribbled down one after another.  I think I might actually start another journal and find a way to tab it so there's some sense of organization going on.  Anyway, I want to make a point of trying to capture more of those thoughts that race through my spinning brain.  The problem is that I do some of my best thinking in the shower and during my commute.  Neither is a good time for jotting things down!

Professional: I want to be the best mentor I can be this year. This goal is near and dear to my heart because I am mentoring one of the most wonderful new teachers on the planet.  I'm sure I've already pointed it out a half million times, but the newest member on my fifth grade team is my daughter.  It will be a challenge, at times, separating the mom from the mentor, but I know I can do it.  I look forward to this journey for both of us.  I'm sure you'll be hearing all about it on this little blog of mine.  In fact, I'm hoping she'll start a blog of her own to share her adventures.  

Students: On the first day of school, I tell my students that my job is not to teach them fifth grade standards, though I will.  It is not to get them ready for sixth grade, though I will.  My job is to prepare them for a successful life as an adult.  If I can get these children of poverty to believe that they have the potential to succeed in life, then I've done my job.  Don't worry, I'll be sure to teach them some math and language arts along the way.  I promise.  :o)

Motto:  Hard work first, personal best always! This is our mantra in Room 24. We chant it first thing every morning.  When students hand me an assignment, they know I'll always ask, "Is this your personal best?"  You'd be surprised at how many of them will actually walk back to their desks with paper in hand instead of turning it in.  

There.  I feel better now.  I've got some goals written down for all to see.  There's always that hint of accountability when you go public with your goals.  Now it's your turn.  Hop on over to I {Heart} Recess to link up with your own Back to School goals!