Monday, November 18, 2013

Hi Everyone!

It's been so long since I last posted, eight weeks and one day to be exact!  I can't believe that we went from a family of three to a family of four the day after I posted that last entry.  Our little Cupcake was born on September 23, 2013.  She was 9 pounds, 7 ounces and we are all over-the-moon in love with her.  I am currently on my maternity leave and (I hate admitting this) enjoying every single moment of this time with my girls.  Getting to know her and spending this precious time with my Sweet Pea has been wonderful.

Just born!

Second day home from the hospital...loving her new sister!

Meet Little Red Riding Hood and the Big Bad Wolf (excuse the hat going over my poor Cupcake's eyes)

Always alert and paying attention!

All smiles, all the time!!!

The only downside to the whole birthing process has been that since giving birth I have been suffering from terrible back pain and awful migraine headaches.  I didn't have this with my first daughter, so it's been new territory for me.  They are currently trying to rule out that it was the delivery that is causing this and are pretty sure that the epidural is the source of the problem.  It's always a roller coaster ride!

In other news, we are on day 19 of our house being on the market (yes, we are the crazy people who list their house for sale with a five week old baby).  We've had a ton of traffic and are hoping for an offer soon!

I am getting back to work on some school related items.  I am in the beginning stages of piecing together a 100th day of school lesson plans and related activity sheets.  I can't wait to share when they are finished!

In the meantime, I am throwing a sale in my TpT store!  I want to honor the birth of my newest daughter and celebrate all of you and the hard work you are doing daily!  You will receive 20% off beginning today through Thursday, November 21st.

I'm so excited to be back blogging and can't wait to catch up with everyone!!!!

Sunday, September 22, 2013

A Peek At My Week!

Hi everyone!  Happy Sunday!  Doesn't the weekend always go so fast and the weekdays so slow (most of the time)?!  I'm linking up with Jennifer at Mrs. Laffin's Laughings for the A Peek At My Week linky party.

A peek at my MacBook Calendar; I have my Google Calendar synced here for easy viewing.

On Thursday, I posted about being on maternity leave.  One of the things I also did (but did not write about) for my substitute was set up a Google Calendar with all of the pacing guides downloaded.  I'm hoping this will keep her on pace so that when I return, my students are where they need to be and I can pick up where seamlessly and smoothly.  Sometimes seeing it in one place instead of five different places makes a huge difference!

I love this graphic organizer!  O "FISH" ally a First Grader created this and I love it!

This week in Reader's Workshop, my students will be using the illustrations to deepen their understanding of the text.  This could be through making text-to-self
connections (although, I know, not part of the CCSS) or using the illustration to make an opinion and back up their thinking.  Making connections can be a tricky topic, but I'm positive they will do great.  As part of the workshop model, students will be partner reading and working on writing throughout this week as well.  I have to admit, I am disappointed that I was not able to implement the Daily 5 this year.  My substitute has no Daily 5 background and I thought it would be too much for her and the kids to squeeze in during the first three weeks.

Our Author's Spotlight bulletin board!  Right now each student has at least one piece of work up in their portfolio.

In writing, we will be wrapping up editing and publishing our first stories!  Our students are required to have a portfolio so it's always exciting to introduce the end of the writing process as a means to adding to their portfolios!  All work is highlighted on the Author's Spotlight (I will write a post about the Author's Spotlight another day...we do some cool things with that bulletin board) and celebrated by the whole class.

Our district requires students to take a District Formative Assessment, better known as DFA, three times a year during our Math block.  DFA's are used as a pre-assessment tool and supposed to drive instruction within the small group instruction setting of our Math Centers.  This week my students will have their first DFA and I'm anxious to see their results!  My substitute started Math Centers last week, so she will be continuing those as well (Math Centers are requested, but not required, to be held three to five days a week).

Don't we all wish giving birth was this easy?! 
One more thing about this week is that I am being induced this evening!  Around six-o'clock tonight my husband and I will head to the hospital to begin the labor process.  I am about ten days late so I am anxious to get things moving (my daughter was seven-days late so being ten days late seems so long).  I am so excited to meet our new daughter and introduce her to her big sister!  My daughter has been running around talking about being a "big ister" for months now so it'll be great for her.

We have the older version; by clicking on the picture or the link below, you will be linked up with Amazon and the new version!

For those of you expecting a second (or third or fourth or fifth, etc.) child, let me recommend two books to you.  I'm a Big Sister by Joanna Cole is an awesome's a favorite in our house!  She really breaks it down for kids and I think my two-year old understands what is about to happen.  A teacher friend of mine was going through her classroom library, found it and gave it to me for my daughter.  We've been reading it for four months now and it is easily her favorite book!

Another favorite in our house!

Another book is published by a small publishing company near my house; a close friend of ours works there and passed it along thinking our daughter would love it.  It's called I'm a New Big Sister by Nora Gaydos.  Again, another very cute book that takes children through the steps of becoming a big sister.  Both books are available in the big brother version as well (here's the Joanna Cole book and the Nora Gaydos book).

Happy Sunday!  I hope everyone enjoys the end of their weekend!  I will be updating as I can, although I am unsure of how posting will go for the first few days (we're in the hospital until Tuesday or Wednesday at this point).

Talk to you all soon!

Saturday, September 21, 2013

My New Blog Design!!!

As I began to get more into blogging, I decided that I wanted to have a "fancy" design.  I tried to DIY it but found, as tech savvy as I was, I didn't have the chops to cut it.  I began Googling blog designers and paying attention to who used what designers on their blogs.  At the end of the day, I chose Megan of I Teach. What's Your Super Power?  After designing her own blog she decided to begin her own design business.  It's called A Bird in Hand Designs.  Megan offers so many packages, from pre-designed blogs to one-of-a-kind blog designs.  I loved how organized and clean each one design looked!

I initially contacted Megan via email about a month ago stating my interest in having her design my blog.  She responded back very quickly and we were on our way!

The thing I loved most about the end product was that Megan just didn't throw things on the page and say she was done.  We went back and forth A LOT about colors, fonts, design elements, placement on the page and so on.  She made the blog EXACTLY what I wanted, even though I started out not knowing what I wanted.  This was a personal process as well, being able to to work directly with the person who owns the business.

Take a look at her work if you get a chance!!!

Thank you, Megan!!! :)

Friday, September 20, 2013

Five for Friday!

Hi everyone!  I'm teaming up with Doodle Bugs Teaching for the Five for Friday linky party!  I have been busy preparing for my maternity leave and have been exhausted with the end of this pregnancy that I have not blogged lately.  Now that I am on my leave and waiting for this baby to be born, I have some free time again!

Here goes nothing...

My maternity leave started!  I started my leave a week ago today.  It has been nice to be home with my little girl and have some time to relax before the baby is born.  I'm loving the naps I am able to take in the afternoon!

Overdue, overdue, overdue!  Not library due date!  I am 41 weeks and one day pregnant and about to go out of my mind!  I am set to be induced on Sunday evening if I don't go into labor before then.  I sure hope I do!  I can't wait to meet this little girl!

We are selling our home!  I am so excited that we decided to put our home on the market.  We are moving to the town where I grew up, about thirty minutes away from here, to be closer to my family.  My in-laws live with us and will be moving with us as well.  It's going to be a challenge to find a home with an in-law apartment but we are up for it!

Erin Condren Teacher Planner!  It came in the mail!  I didn't realize that it said "2013-2014" on the back...I was planning on saving it until next year because I ordered it so late.  That's ok...I'm sure no one will notice next year!  Thank you again to Meredith at The Big Apple Teacher for throwing an Erin Condren giveaway...I never would have bought it without the gift card!

My new blog design and layout is complete!  I will be blogging about it tomorrow.  LOVE IT!!!

Happy Friday, everyone!!!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Preparing For Maternity Leave

I am 41 weeks pregnant today.  41 weeks!!!  How did this happen?!?!  I feel like this pregnancy has flown by so much quicker than my first pregnancy.  I think finding out in January, having a whole summer off and then only going back to work for three weeks or so has something to do for it.  I have been on maternity leave now for four days (last Friday was my last day) and am missing school and my students tremendously, although I am so happy to have this time with my family.

Districts have different policies when it comes to maternity leave.  In my district, we are required to provide two weeks worth of lesson plans for the substitute.  There is also a period of a day or two when the substitute shadows you to prepare to take over the classroom.

Last week my administrators interviewed candidates for my position and by Wednesday evening had secured an awesome long-term substitute.  I was very nervous not knowing who my substitute was until the very end, being that I was/am I am hours/days away from giving birth.  I know others would probably have a meltdown over that, but I did not worry about it.  I have been working hard on prepping all of my materials for the time that I am gone.  Let me share how I have been preparing for a 12 week leave.

My husband brought me home a file crate.

I love these colorful hanging files...I got them on Amazon (Snead folders).

I placed hanging file folders in the crate and labeled each one for each week I would be gone (in this case, I am preparing everything for a January 2nd return).  Within each hanging files are several materials.  The front few hanging files contain our district's literacy curriculums.  I made photocopies of the curriculums, laminated covers, bound them together and placed them in the folder.  I will be missing two-and-a-half units, so I wanted to make sure that this person was prepared.

Everything in its place!  I can't believe it!

I then went through and photocopied each worksheet/graphic organizer that the students were going to need.  Each set was placed within the folder of the week that would be taking place.

I went ahead and printed any party/celebration/holiday letter, photocopied them and placed them in a folder.  That went into each hanging file coordinating with the time of year it was taking place.  I also set up the fall conference questionnaires for the parents (that's how they select their day/time for conferences).  I photocopied packets for Back-to-School Night and have those set as well within the hanging files.

Finally, I placed any bulletin board materials, etc. that the substitute would need in the very back.

My substitute teaching binder...I downloaded this template two years ago on TpT and can't remember where I got it from.  I wish I remembered so I could give credit!
Everything about the students goes here.  The more the substitute knows (whether it be a one-day sub or a long-term sub), the better.  I like being prepared because you never know what could happen (like when I missed a week due to pregnancy complications this past February 2013...this saved me). 
Helps with fluidity and consistency.
Next, I updated my substitute binder.  This binder contains all of our classroom procedures, expectations, rules, school expectations, school procedures, etc.  I place student photos in there as well so that substitutes have an opportunity to have a first glance prior to the students walking in the door.  I plan on placing my two formal week lesson plan sets in there too...I haven't gotten that far yet!

Homework assignment page...this goes on top of our packets.

Orton-Gillingham Red Word List.  Students gets ten words a week.

Monday's homework...there are two pages of flashcards.

Tuesday's homework...two pages of handwriting.

Wednesday's homework...ABC order.

Thursday's homework...CLOZE activity and sentence writing.

My team and I had met several weeks ago during our professional development sessions before school began and firmed up our plans for homework.  Last week I spent several nights putting everything together and creating assignment pages for the front of each packet each week.  The packet contains homework aligned to our Orton-Gillingham curriculum (phonics) and the Everyday Math homework/curriculum.

Reading log...I love giving the students the option of how many minutes they read this week.

Graphing minutes...another fun activity!

We also made up a new plan for our students' nightly reading homework.  Students will be reading seven-days a week.  They will have to log their book and color in their minutes read on a graph.  We decided not to give them a limit on how much they read, but rather encourage them to read as much as possible every night.  We also determined that it would be important to have a reading response assignment twice a week this year, so we set those up to align with our literacy curriculum reading response journals.  Those worksheets will all be kept within one journal so that we can keep an eye on how much reading is being done and have some accountability over their homework attendance.  This would be something that I share with parents during conferences.

I created everything for the team to take them through the end of my leave.  I also set up all of my students' Homework Reading Log folders, printed a letter explaining the homework, and photocopied each packet one time for the substitute to make copies of (in case changes have to occur).  The entire team got the same thing...they were thrilled to be set for so long!

I almost wanted to keep these binders for myself!
My closet has been filled with binders, so I decided to set up binders for my substitute!  He/She will be receiving a lesson plan binder with a Google Calendar printout (I inputted all of the pacing guides into one calendar for my grade level...sometimes it's easier to see the whole picture in one place rather than on five different pieces of paper).  I also put together a Guided Reading/Conferencing Binder for Reader's Workshop, a Writer's Workshop small group/conferencing binder and a Math binder.  This person will have their own place to take notes (and I won't feel so anxious about leaving my nice binders that I spent so much time on this summer...I don't want them getting ruined).

Ta-da!  Neat and clean for the substitute!
Finally, I went around the room making sure that it was organized, neat and clean.  I took home picture frames of my family and other small things I had because I wanted the room to feel like it belonged to my substitute while I was gone.

I know it seems neurotic to prepare so much but I want what's best for my students and if I save my substitute time by making photocopies and fixing up the curriculum for him/her then they can focus more on instructing!  My teammates and colleagues probably think I'm crazy to have set up so much for a substitute, but I feel better and will be able to enjoy my leave more know that I have left everything set-up for my little first graders so they can make an easier transition.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Currently September!

Oh my...can you believe it's September already?!?!?!  I am linking up with Farley at Oh' Boy 4th Grade for the first time ever for her Currently September linky party!

Listening:  To my daughter watch "Elmo" and the PBS app on my iPad.  She is so funny...she's on this kick of saying, "I'm so smart!" every time she does something on the iPad.  I'm hoping this is just a phase as she is starting a 2-year old program at a local preschool in another week or so!

Loving:  I love that we had today was nice to rest after spending the last two weeks running around like a chicken with my head cut off!  I spent the day resting with my family...what's better than that?!?!

Thinking:  I really need to finish up my lesson plans and other loose ends tonight for the following week.  If I go into labor this week, I want everything to be set for my substitute and teammates (I am team leader and have all of the homework on my computer).

Wanting:  This baby seems ready to come out!  I have been contracting off and on since Thursday last week.  They last about an hour and then stop.  This afternoon I had strong contractions for forty-five minutes and then nothing.  I'm ready for this little girl!!!

Needing:  A full night's sleep!  I haven't slept through the night in months!  My daughter has this 1 am/3:30 am thing going on every night and I have to go to the bathroom every hour it seems.  I tell myself to relax and enjoy this time...she's only two once!

Some goals for the month:

1.  I want a safe labor and delivery.  It's easy to think about what can go right or can go wrong...I need to stay focused on the positives!

2.  I sometimes put work first (I hate saying that) and I really want to focus on my family more.  I spent the last year finishing my 6th year degree and my family really was put on the side-burner.  I have a beyond wonderful husband, daughter, parents, brother, sister and grandparents and I want to spend more time with them!

3.  Drinking lots of water and eating healthy is up there on my list.  Once this baby is born, I really want to lose the baby weight and then some.  It's important to be healthy and it's time I put more energy on this!

Thank you to Farley for hosting this linky party!!!