Sunday, February 21, 2016

Sunday Scoop 2/21/16

Good evening everyone!

How is the weekend over already?!

I mean, didn't it just start?

I think I need a weekend from my weekend lol.  Today was spent deep, deep, deep cleaning my house.  Holy dust bunnies everywhere!

I am linking up with the Teaching Trio and Kristen from Chalk & Apples to share my Sunday Scoop! I am new to Sunday Scoop as I have recently re-entered the blogging world.

Here goes nothing!

3 things I have to do...
Finish lesson planning!  I started lesson planning last week during the week, then picked it up again last night as my husband watched the Boston Bruins game (GO BRUINS!) but because I was distracted by the game (and my husband yelling at the TV), I did not finish.  So I am currently working on lesson plans right now!

I need to print my graphic organizers and homework for the week!  I find that if I do this on Sunday night or Monday morning, I am a lot less stressed for the week ahead.

Get my teacher bag, lunch and clothes organized for the morning!  Our mornings are cRaZy (please tell me I'm not the only one) so I find that the more organized I am for the morning, the better off.  Usually I have a screaming toddler at my feet directly before I leave, so the more time I have the better.

2 things I hope to do...
Set up a blogging schedule!  I was blogging about three years ago and then fell off the face of the earth as our family grew.  Now I am ready to re-enter this world because I miss the friends I had made, the ideas I gained from the bloggers and the time I was able to spend reflecting on my teaching.  It's easy to get caught up in the craziness of life and I feel this is important to begin again.

Get the iPad set for Math Centers!  I have been spending one time a month with a representative from Apple learning about integrating the iPad into the classroom.  My class has done many cool projects this year using Pages, Keynote, QR Codes and more.  I don't think I can top last week's project though...we used the Lego Movie Maker to create stop motion videos in math using legos as fractions.  It was a great to figure out how to top that!

1 thing I hope to do...
SLEEP!  This is something I don't get enough of...I'm hoping for a good night's sleep tonight!

Thank you for the link-up, Teaching Trio!!!!

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

No Longer M.I.A.!!!

Hello?  Is anyone out there?!  It's me, Meredith, teacher from Connecticut!



It has been a LONG time since I last posted and I apologize for not being more consistent in my posts.  One of the things that I loved about blogging years ago was the community of support that we had for one another.  My family became larger and then grew again and I found that I had less and less time to do what I loved!  I am back (both children are on a regular sleep schedule) and am happy to be creating and sharing with all of you!

My littles are now four-and-a-half years old and two-years old.  I can't even believe it!  How has the time flown?!  My older daughter will be entering Kindergarten in the fall and my younger daughter will be in preschool!  I'm so happy for the both of them, that they will have an opportunity to spread their wings and grow not only as learners, but as little people as well.  They need the socialization and structure in their lives that we find in school.

Since I last posted, I personally have had a lot of changes in my life.  The 21 Day Fix and Shakeology had entered my life and since July, I have lost about 35 pounds!  It really has been life-changing.  I have more energy for my children, am eating and cooking healthier meals and exercise 30-minutes a day.  I think that these are all important things not only for our families to see but for our students in school as well.  I have been a user of GoNoodle for almost three years now and am thrilled to see all of the various exercises and activities that they have for kids that promotes good health and positive thinking!  So important!

With my weight loss came the confidence boost that I so desperately needed.  Last summer, as I was relaxing on our deck with my daughter, I realized how relaxed I was being home with her.  It was at that moment that it occurred to me how stressed I was driving back and forth to work.  I applied for jobs closer to home (I was commuting one to two hours- depending on traffic- one way to work last year) and was hired by a school about 20 minutes from my house!  No traffic, great school community, fantastic teachers, parents and students!  I have no regrets at all.  It has been a year of growth for me!

I am now teaching THIRD grade, which is quite the change from first grade-- academically, socially and emotionally.  I can honestly say that this time last year, I couldn't imagine teaching a grade level other than first grade.  A year later I am LOVING third grade!  My teacher created materials are slowly being changed over and I am excited to share them all with you!

What have you all been up to?  I have lost all of my followers?  Hope you are all having a great school year!!!!

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Hot Summer Fun!

This summer has been packed full of fun for us!  My older daughter is now four-years old and my little one is almost two-years old, so we have been busy with them! One of the perks of being a teacher is getting the summer to be home with them.  While we all continue to work through the summer months to get ready for the next year, it's wonderful to be able to spend the daylight hours with them.  I feel like I miss out on a lot during the school year and this is good catch up time for us.

The first thing we did on the first night of summer vacation was make a bucket list.  And we have been pretty good with fulfilling our to-do's (and more)!

We have been grilling!

There's been walks around the block (not on our list but something we need to do more of).

We have visited one of our town's parks AND played in the sprinkler park portion (we are newer to our town-although I lived here growing up- and we didn't realize that this existed! How awesome :) ).

My older Sweet Pea has been in dance camp for the last few days, which will culminate in a wonderful ballet performance next week.  The studio where she dances is putting together a ballet of "Beauty and the Beast"...she is a little lamb! 

We have also been to the library, which is a major favorite!

We visited my sister at work...she works for a lawyer.  I think she was happy for her two new paralegals!

We've used our little pool in our backyard.  That's a favorite!

I also started the 21 Day Fix and Shakeology.  I have tried everything...Jenny Craig, Weight Watchers, My Fitness Pal, etc.  I need portion control and my weight has been out of control.  Between commuting, not making breakfast for myself, not's not good.  I have a long way to go but at least this is a good start!  I'm down six pounds and I'm on day nine.  The shakes are delicious and the workouts are great.  I'll share more on another post about my other reasonings for starting this diet.

On my summer bucket list was to not only live a healthier life, but to also work on half-started classroom/Teachers Pay Teachers documents.  I created a booklet called "My Name Journal."  A few colleagues and I were sitting around discussing the need to track handwriting through the year for our Orton-Gillingham program.  My teammate shared something she had used this past year and I loved having the ability to see a year's worth of work in one booklet!  I ended up modifying it to fit the needs of my classroom.  Please check it out!

 What have you done this summer?  Please share with me!

Monday, June 29, 2015

Happy Summer! I'm Back!

Hi everyone!

I'm sure you were probably wondering what happened to me!  Let's see...a new baby (who is now almost two years did that happen?) combined with moving to a new house and city, going through four months of construction, having my in-laws move in with me, then moving them back out again all while working full-time and commuting almost an hour or more everyday has been what has been going on!  Life has been so crazy and so busy but SO GOOD as well!

I'm going to be getting back into the swing of things with my blogging and shared my created products both here and on Teachers Pay Teachers.  I was looking back at my TPT creations and they are so sad and lacking any type of creativity at the moment.  I am so excited to share everything that I have been working on during the past year and a half!

In the meantime, please share with me what you have going on for this beautiful, sweet summer!  I have officially been on vacation for one week but today was my official first day off (I had trainings and meetings all last week).  My girls and I stayed home, organized, cleaned and watched movies all day long.  We ended the day with "playing" street hockey outside with my husband and a few neighbors (my girls' idea of playing street hockey involves running around the the sticks and trying to hit the tennis balls into the net).

What do you have planned for the summer?

Happy vacation!

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

What a Surprise!

I came home from work last night to find that I had been nominated for an award!  Erin from Learning to Be Awesome nominated me for the Liebster Award.  How exciting!  I have never been nominated for a blog award before so I am grateful and thankful to receive and experience this.

Here are the rules (which I am copying and pasting from Erin's blog):

This award is for bloggers who have less than 200 followers.  It works like this-you start by being nominated by a fellow blogger who likes what you have been posting.  Then you tell 11 random facts about yourself; answer the 11 questions they have left for you; then nominate 11 bloggers yourself and give them 11 questions to answer.

Here goes nothing!

11 Random Facts

1.  I am the oldest child in my family.

2.  My husband and I met when I was 21 and he was 27.  My mom thought he was too old for me but my grandmother convinced her otherwise!  Everyone loves my husband and he fits right in with our whole family.

3.  I have my bachelor's degree in dance.  I wanted to open a dance studio but my dream ended when I hurt my foot and needed two surgeries my senior year of college.

4.  I thought being a teacher was the most boring job in the world when I was in high school.  I came to this conclusion because I thought you taught the same things year after year.  How wrong I was about that!

5.  I love my family so much.  I love how close my daughters are with both sets of grandparents and also love watching their close relationship with my sister and brother (my husband is an only child) and my grandparents.  It is the best feeling in the world to see everyone interacting and the joy that my girls bring!

6.  Other than traveling to Canada one time in my life and also taking a cruise down the Pacific Ocean to Mexico (but not disembarking...I was in high school traveling with my high school choir...our district would not allow us to go into Mexico), I have never traveled out of the country.

7.  The smell of the dishwasher right after it has been cleaned bothers me to no end.  I don't know if it's allergies or the warm/damp/gross smell/feeling or what, but I really dislike the smell.

8. I love the water.  Whether it's a stream, river, lake or ocean, I find something so calming and soothing about sitting near a body of water.

9.  My two-year-old daughter is named after my best friend, my grandmother.

10.  My three-month-old daughter is named after my husband's favorite hockey player.  Who is a male.  I hope she doesn't hate us one day for choosing her name! (It is a unisex name...a famous actress has her name, which I personally think she will love someday)

11.  I didn't think I would like blogging as much as I do. It's such a great way to connect with other teachers across the world.

Questions To Be Answered:

  1. What is the one thing that makes you Awesome?
    • I don't know!  I'm always happy, upbeat and positive.  One of my college friends used to tell my mom that I was a "Poptart" because I was always ready for whatever the day brought.
  2. Where have you travelled to?
    • I have traveled to Maui, Hawaii with my husband...that is the furthest away I have traveled.  I have also been to California two times and to Florida many, many times.
  3. Where would you like to travel to?
    • I would love to visit Europe; Italy to be precise.  We were supposed to go there for our honeymoon but the Euro was so high and the US dollar so low that we couldn't afford it (in 2008).  Someday we will get to go there, I just know it!
  4. If you could live anywhere in the world, where would that be?
    • With my family.  We are moving to my hometown, which is thirty minutes from us right now, in the very near future as our house is on the market.  I can't wait!!!
  5. If money were no object, what would you do with your life?
    • That's a great question!  I think pay off my student loans, provide as many opportunities for my children as possible and travel.  I would also love to spend more time with my girls.
  6. Why do you blog?
    • I began blogging last year as I was completing my 6th year degree certificate.  My blog was more geared towards learning theories at that time.  I then stopped for a while and started up again over the summer as I became more involved in reading other teaching blogs and looking at different products through Teachers Pay Teachers.  I enjoy the collaborative opportunities that blogging has provided me as well as the new friends that I have made!!!
  7. What is your favourite color?
    • My favorite color is turquoise blue.  I love that color!
  8. What is your favourite TV show?
    • My favorite TV show is "Once Upon A Time."  Hands down one of the best shows I have ever seen!
  9. Are you still friends with anyone from when you started school?
    • Yes!  Some of my closest friends are those that I have had from preschool and elementary school.  
  10. What is your favourite summer must do?
    • I love going on long walks or visiting the beach.  
  11. Would you ever become a ninja?
    • Nope!
11 Blogs I Follow and Nominated For a Liebster Award!

I enjoy each and every one of these blogs.  These teachers are amazing women and I admire their teaching strategies and creativity that each of them write about and show in every blog post.  Thank you all in advance for participating (if you can)!

1.  Caitlin at Always Sunny In a Windowless Classroom
2.  Kelly at Apple Slices
3.  Jamie at Busy Mama & Her Boys
4.  Sandy at Elementary Expedition
5.  Tiffany at One Fab Teacher
6.  Meredith at The Big Apple Teacher
7.  Dana and Lauren at Thrills and Frills in First
8.  Marie at Beach Lovin' Teach
9.  Lisa at Before Meets After
10.  Lindsey at Forever First Grade
11.  Amanda at A Very Curious Class

Here are the questions for my nominees:

1.  What do you enjoy most about blogging?
2.  What is a favorite book that you have read for fun recently?
3.  Where do you go to relax?
4.  Share one unique classroom management strategy that you use daily.
5.  How many years have you been teaching for?
6.  Who has influenced you most in life?
7.  Have you always wanted to be a teacher?  Why or why not?
8.  Do you use an iPad or tablet device in your classroom?  If so, what are your favorite apps?
9.  What is your favorite dessert? (Share a link to the recipe if you can!)
10.  Do you have any siblings?
11.  What is your favorite blog of all time to visit?  Why? (include the link please!)

Thank you to Erin at Learning to Be Awesome for the nomination!

Sunday, January 5, 2014

A Peek At My Week-Week of January 6, 2014

Another week begins!  I wish the weekend was longer (and I feel terrible saying that just coming off of a four month maternity leave and a long weekend because of a snow day on Friday)!  There is just too much to do and not enough time to do it in!

Thank you to Jennifer at Mrs. Laffin's Laughings for hosting the "Peek at My Week" linky party!!!

This week is sure to be a busy week.  My class will be introduced to a lot of new and exciting concepts!

Reader's Workshop:  Our grade level is currently halfway through our nonfiction unit, which has got to be my favorite unit that learn about all week long!  We will be spending a lot of time partner reading this week.  Within partner reading, students will be sharing their opinions of the books they are reading.  They will also be looking to determine the author's purpose of a story, which is key to nonfiction texts.  I love using Deanna Jump's beanie baby strategies posters (from her guided reading packet) to supplement our district's given curriculum...the posters are so colorful and cute!  My students really connect to them.

Writer's Workshop:  In keeping with the nonfiction theme, my students will be writing about a topic they know a lot about...FIRST GRADE!  That's right, we are writing all about our classroom and the routines, rituals and subject areas we participate in.  Our district likes teaching students how to break down a large topic into subtopics (i.e. First grade--reader's workshop, writer's workshop, everyday math, etc.) and then adding details to those subtopic areas.  My students last year created a class book for my students this year.  We will be doing the same again!  Last year my class also turned their writing into an ebook, which I am hoping to do again this year (more on that in another post I am working on)!

Everyday Math:  My students will be exposed to telling time to the quarter hour.  They will also learn about timelines, number scrolls and fact power.  I love teaching this fact power lesson.  I give "superpowers" to my students and we spend time shouting out "FACT POWER" as students are able to quickly respond to math facts.  I will also be starting my math centers with them.  Prior to this week, the class has been participating in math centers that my long-term substitute ran but she didn't run them the way I do.  My students will be using our laptops and iPads for the first time ever.  I think they will love it!
Our Math Center flipchart for our Promethean Board!
Orton Gillingham:  Our district, my school specifically, has invested time and training into this program.  I absolutely love it!  This week we are working on the end T blends of -lt and -nt.

Have a great week everyone!!!

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Lesson Planning

I'm finding that I am constantly revamping my lesson plan template year after year.  While my school doesn't require teachers to hand in lesson plans they do like you to have them typed out and readily available in case you need to be pulled out.

During my student teaching period, I hand wrote them and only wrote a small phrase or short sentence to explain my objective.  Of course I had to write long formal lesson plans for my cooperating teacher and my professor from my Master's program but beyond those specific written plans for observations, that was as detailed as they got.

My first year teaching I hand wrote my plans in one of those planners I bought at a teacher's supply store.  Yes, I wrote out each state standard and each objective.  It took foreverrrrrrrrrrr.  I eventually just began writing each objective because writing that aligned state standard took too long.

I still can't believe I used this planner!
My second and third years I used the same template.  This time, I made the template because I hated trying to squeeze everything into those tiny boxes.  The first year I used my computer-created template I printed the page and handwrite in the information.  I literally had the column for the subject and another column for the lesson objective and components.  The next year I got smart and started typing everything out.  That worked as well but I still didn't like my template or the way my plans were coming out.

About two years ago, I saw a post online (I wish I had saved it) about how someone created their own template, photocopied it at school and then took it to Kinkos or Office Max to have it bound along one edge (I wish I could remember where I saw that so I can give that person credit).  So, I decided to try that.  I loved it!  This time I typed the template in landscape mode in Microsoft Word and photocopied everything double sided.  Each day had two full pages and I hand wrote everything again.  I loved my template but was spending HOURS each week writing my plans.

Last year I tried this template.  I liked it and my whole grade level liked it so much that I made one for each of them but, at the end of the day, I think it was too minimal for me.  I was missing having the extra space to write more details.    On to another new template this year!

I was reading Ladybug Teacher Files's blog and came upon this post that Kristen wrote.  I decided to try her lesson plan template.  So far so good!  It has just enough space for objectives, CCSS alignments, details and student work period to do's.  I adjusted it to meet my needs and so far I'm loving it!  I just haven't decided if I like typing better or handwriting better.  My best teacher friend is using it as well and said she likes it too.

Meredith over at The Big Apple Teacher held a giveaway for an Erin Condren gift card.  I never win anything but was shocked to find that I had in fact won that giveaway!

Erin Condren has a great life planners (I had one of those...I loved it) but she also has fabulous teacher plan books.  I bought it this year but will try it out next year.  I love how everything is in one spot and how organized everything is.  It's so bright and colorful!  I can't wait!

Do you change your template every year?  Do you stick with the same one year after year?  Do you like to write a lot or a little?  Do you type or hand write?  Such hard decisions!!!  I'd love to hear how you handle lesson plans each day/week/month!