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!

Friday, January 3, 2014

Five for Friday! Happy New Year!

Hi everyone!

I know it's a been a while since I've written.  It's been so long that I even have my mom asking me why I haven't blogged in so long!  Life is so crazy and busy with these two little love bugs around, that's why!!!!  But I'm back to work now from maternity leave, back to a routine and ready to blog again!
So serious...

...then all smiles!!!  Love these girls!
Just hanging out!
The W girls

I'm linking up with Doodle Bugs Teaching's "Five for Friday" linky party!  I have missed this and am excited to participate this week!  Here goes nothing!

Happy New Year!  My wonderful husband and I, for the first time ever in our eight years of being together, stayed in for NYE.  We bought food and made appetizers for ourselves, had dessert, cuddled with our two little girls and watched the ball drop as a new family of four.  We have always had friends over and were invited to a housewarming/NYE party but felt the need to be low key this year. I told my husband that I would be happy to do this every year!  It was a great way to start 2014.

We have had our house on the market and received an offer the week before Christmas.  After negotiating back and forth a few times, we settled on a price and signed the binder on the 23rd of December.  The inspection was the 26th of December and actually went really well (they had a few things on their list for us to fix).  We started making plans to move and have been seriously house hunting now.  This evening I received a phone call that the buyer decided to withdraw his offer and move on to another house.  So disappointing and frustrating however the buyer has done this before on another property, so I shouldn't be so surprised.  It was a low blow that ruined our evening though and I am hoping another buyer comes along quickly!

Tummy time!

My little cupcake transitioned from the bassinet to the crib in her own room!  She has been doing fantastic, practically sleeping through the night at three-months old.  I was worried about her and her big sister sharing a room; her big sister likes to climb on the crib and watch her every move.  I have to say, things have been going very smoothly!  Everyone is sleeping nicely and I can't complain at all!!!!
Happy all the time!  This picture makes me happy!

I started back to school from my maternity leave yesterday, January 2nd.  It was a great transition back though as we had early dismissal for the snow and then no school today because of the snow!  I missed my students and my classroom very much while I was gone.  It was thrilling interacting with my students again, planning lessons, and collecting and correcting papers again.  I loved being back in my home away from home, my classroom.  Only 12 students were actually in school...9 students were absent because of the weather.

I have a lot of cleaning and reorganizing to do (I told my substitute to make the room her own, which she did.  I am happy for that).  It's been nice to be back in a routine again, although I miss my girls SO much and there's not a second that goes by that I don't think about them or want to be home with them.  At least they are in good hands (my husband and my mother-in-law).

I spent a lot of time on Pinterest on New Year's Eve.  I haven't used the website in so long but found this cute worksheet that Amy VanMiddlesworth from Pencils, Books and Dirty Looks created!  My students loved it yesterday.

I also found this worksheet that Faith at 1st Grade Fantabulous created.  I will actually be using it as an assessment for the first half of our nonfiction unit.

Happy New Year everyone!!!!  Looking forward to all of the things that 2014 has to bring!