Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Accent Vlog

This video took about a million and one hours to upload, but finally, it's done!  Please play along!

(PS...I'm still confused about the rain falling during sunshine...does that have a real name?)

Directions are as follows:
The instructions are to say these words:
Aunt, Route, Wash, Oil, Theater, Iron, Salmon, Caramel, Fire, Water, Sure, Data, Ruin, Crayon, Toilet, New Orleans, Pecan, Both, Again, Probably, Spitting image, Alabama, Lawyer, Coupon, Mayonnaise, Syrup, Pajamas, Caught

And answer these questions:
What is it called when you throw toilet paper on a house?
What is the bug that when you touch it, it curls into a ball?
What is the bubbly carbonated drink called?
What do you call gym shoes?
What do you say to address a group of people?
What do you call the kind of spider that has an oval-shaped body and extremely long legs?
What do you call your grandparents?
What do you call the wheeled contraption in which you carry groceries at the supermarket?
What do you call it when rain falls while the sun is shining?
What is the thing you use to change the TV channel?

Monday, August 29, 2011

Menu Monday

Another week. Another batch of meals. My apologies for the crappy cell phone pics of some meals. The ol' DSLR battery was dead, and yours truly kept forgetting to charge it. Don't let the poor photo quality sway you, they were all mighty tasty!

My Meals:

This was my second go round with this meal, and just like the first time, super yummy! I took Kate's suggestion and left out the gorgonzola this time (to cut back on calories and dollars) and just used a bit of parmesan. It was just as delicious!

Cilantro Lime Shrimp over Black Beans and Rice

Kate's Spicy Turkey and Hatch Quiche

This is a new favorite! Thank you Kate :)

Happy eating this week!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Life Update

This was my first weekend after the start of the school year, and as predicted, it was quite wonderful. The first few days of school are so exhausting. Part of it is the newness and getting back into the groove after being lazy all summer, and then it really is exhausting working with 26 new students. Friday night, we went out for Mexican, watched some Parks and Rec (our new favorite find on Netflix Instant), and I was falling asleep on the couch by about 9:30pm. Back to my normal self!

Since I spent most of last week updating for Teacher Week (which was so fun, by the way!), I feel like I haven't done a normal update in awhile. This post is going to be a little random, so hang in there...

A few weeks ago I won a thirty-one giveaway on Jenna's blog, and I got a new lunchbox in the mail. Right in time for the new school year! My former lunchbox had seen better days, so this was one giveaway I was very happy to win. I love it!

Here's my first day of school picture (you know, because I'm a fourth grader and all!). You can also see my new hairdo! I chopped off five inches earlier this week. I needed a good trim, and decided to do a little more than trim. It felt good to get some weight off. It was getting so long, which I loved, but a little too unmanageable for my taste. You can also see me sporting the new lunchbox here...seriously, I look just like my students.

I'm still loving my Erin Condren teacher planner. It has made lesson planning much more fun. I don't mind it as much when I'm using it!

And finally, I think my year is off to a pretty good the first week I had a student bring my cookies (they were cookie sandwiches filled with cookie dough...SO yummy!) and this adorable Lilly Pulitzer reusable bag. How sweet is that?? I love all the colors on it.

In some much sadder new from the week, J's grandmother passed away on Friday. While very sad, we're happy that she had a full and blessed life. We'll be visiting with family and attending her funeral later this week. Very sad, but it will be nice to see family and remember her life. I love this picture my Father in Law sent us in an email the other day of both of J's grandparents.

So there you have it. Hope everyone has a great week...especially now that we have this hurricane past us on the East Coast!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Teacher Week: Three for Thursday

In addition to it being day 4 of Teacher Week, today is also my first day of school! Hopefully all will go well with no mishaps. I always say, as long as I get them home safely the first day, I've done my job. I can do it!

For today's theme, I am supposed to link to one font I love, one blog I love, and one online resource I love.

This is sort of hard for me because I really don't design much with super cutesy fonts. My main reason is my school computer (new and old) do not allow me to download any fonts. It's rare that I create things on my home computer, which means I have to use the standard fonts that come with my computer. Maybe while reading some of your blogs today I'll get some great ideas and places to download for my home computer.

If I really did have to pick a font, I'd say one of the fonts over on Kevin and Amanda's Font Blog. She shares some of the cutest "handwriting" fonts. And they're all free! I'm sure a lot of you have used their blog before, but if you haven't, go check it out. It's amazing how many cute fonts you can find there!

My favorite blog for educators is Free Technology for Teachers by Richard Byrne. It's a HUGE resource for me. I'm constantly finding all sorts of neat sites and resources for using technology in my classroom. His blog is fantastic.

Lately, my biggest online resource has been Pinterest. It's amazing the number of teacher resources that have been "pinned" on there. I especially love this gal's collections of pins. They're so well organized and she has HUNDREDS of great ideas within her boards.

For you SmartBoard users, one of my former professors at JMU has a GREAT site full of SmartBoard lessons, all are free: Harvey's Homepage! Most are geared toward math, but not all. Lot of fun games here, too!

And finally......Worksheet Works. I'm not big on pencil and paper in my class, but this site has saved my butt before to come up with work to leave with a sub on short notice. Again, everything here is free!

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Cannot wait to check out all of your blogs later tonight (or let's be real, it'll probably be this weekend when I'm not so tired!). I love finding new blogs and online resources to help me be a better teacher. Sharing is caring!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Teacher Week: Classroom Tour!

Day 3 of Teacher Week! Today's theme: Where It All Goes Down other words, my favorite part of Teacher Week...CLASSROOM TOURS!

My new room has been a challenge, to say the least. Last week I filled trash can after trash can with JUNK from the previous teacher. And when I say junk, I really mean junk. 20 tuna cans, plastic lids from a restaurant takeout boxes, old bottles of cold medicine, drawers full of candy was bad. Very bad. But after many hours of purging and cleaning, I was able to unpack some of my own boxes and make the room my own.

If you're ready, we'll begin the tour now!

Before you come in, you'll see this in the hall! It's driving me crazy those 2 pieces on the left side, but when your roster changes at the last minute, that's what happens I suppose!

Here's my door. I love the storage drawers that are just to the left of the door in this picture. I've never had a piece of furniture like this and I'm loving it. It's perfect for posters and construction paper. The top drawer is full of all sorts of knick knacks.

This is a close up of my jobs poster. I've used it all 4 years, so it's on it's 5th year. It's held up well! Feel free to share some of your class jobs below. I'm always looking for new jobs to add for my kids!

This is the right side of the room. You can see some of the desks and my computers in the background.

Teacher "stuff!" This is how the last teacher had it set up above the AC unit in the classroom. I like that it's out of the way.

At my last school we were all required to have a "Friend and Family" board and I decided to bring that with me. On here the kids can all bring in a picture of them and their family/friends. It helps make everyone feel welcome and like they're a part of the group. It's also fun to let the kids share about their photo the first day or two.

Here's my math board. It will eventually be my math word wall. As we work our way through the first unit, we'll be adding our terms to the wall.

And right beneath the future word wall...

This is just a small organization tip for upper our open house, most the students brought in their supplies. I had bins and tubs all over the room so the kids could put their supplies away themselves. It gave them a job to do while I got to talk to parents, and it makes my life a lot easier to let them sort it!

My new partner and I are doing a positive spin on the typical "red, yellow, green" cards. We have a pocket for each child that starts the week with no cards. As the week progresses, they have the opportunity to add cards to their pocket (for instance, a pink card is for showing caring or kindness to a classmate). At the end of the week, there are rewards for those who earned the most cards. We're hoping this will encourage positive behavior among the class.

SmartBoard! My love!

My desk and little corner of the room...
From the other side...

This is on top of the book shelf back by my desk. My loved ones! Also love my pretty, new lamp from Ikea that's back there. I like having lamps in my classroom and turning off those fluorescent lights from time to time.

And then under neath that shelf you find this...lots of important items down here that I use regularly. Trying my best to stay organized this year!

And that's it!! I still have a few little things to work on today before the kids start TOMORROW! I cannot wait. I met them yesterday at Open House, and I'm really looking forward to this year.

If you have any questions about items or products, or just general set up questions, please feel free to leave them in a comment. I'll do my best to respond.

Thanks for touring my room!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Teacher Week: Teacher Talk Tuesday

Today's theme for Teacher Week is dedicated to NEW teachers (hello to any new teachers out there!).

Today's post is going to be called: The top 5 things I wish I had known my first year of teaching (or maybe I should call it the top 5 things I should have listened to for my first of teaching).

Let's begin...

No matter how involved or uninvolved the parents are at your school (I've had both), stay in touch about everything. Keep them in the loop. If there child is having trouble in class (behavior or academic), let the parent know ASAP. Parents like to know up front, not two weeks down the road when the problem has become worse. And most importantly, document every conversation you have with a parent, and save all emails. You never know when you will need it. I write down every conversation I ever have with a parent, even if it's for 2 minutes in the hallway at school. It can never hurt to log too much information.

It's okay if the kids don't love you...
Don't get me wrong. I want the kids to learn and have fun and enjoy my class, but I'm now okay with it if they don't love me. My first year was a disaster for a variety of reasons. One thing that could have helped my year was if I had started my year without feeling the need to have my students love me. I wanted to be fun. I wanted them to love my class. And somehow in my effort to achieve those goals, my kids began to walk all over me. I now start my year with high expectations of my kids (again, behavior expectations and academic expectations), and my kids know consequences right off the bat. I am consistent with my behavior plans. My first year I let A LOT slide my first few months because I wanted to be liked by the kids. This made the rest of the year much more difficult. Now, I start the year strong, and even if those first few weeks are tough, it makes the rest of your year so much simpler.

Always keep chapstick, Excedrin, lotion, and some chocolate in your desk...
Do I really need to say more? I don't think so.

Have a designated spot for important papers and money...
Where I taught in VA, we had to collect something called Federal cards every year. These were a BIG Deal because if you had a student whose parent worked on a military base (civilian worker or military) the school got money somehow. Not sure of all the details. but think: huge, major deal. My 2nd year of teaching, I lost all my returned cards before turning them into the office. I turned my room upside down searching for them, I cried and cried, but they were gone. I caused some major stress for one of our office workers, and it was bad. Like, really really bad. Think of it along the lines of losing a child on a field trip (well...almost). I ended up calling every parent to come back in and fill out another one for me (a day before they were due in the central office). Since that year, I have made an effort to organize things in a way so that I can always find the super important things. I am not the best with staying neat and organized, but if you know where the most important things are, then you're golden.

(see? not organized an neat...I try...still learning)

Kids love read alouds. LOVE them. Do not neglect them in your schedule...
In all my college reading and literacy courses, we talked about the importance of read alouds. It models fluency, it provides chances for great questioning, it is wonderful in transition times....everything they told you about read alouds in college, it's all true. Especially in the upper grades. There is nothing like reading a great book with your children and laughing and crying together. It builds classroom community, and it makes you feel great when they all want to check out the book at the library when you've finished it. Read alouds may take up 15 priceless minutes in your day, but those are 15 minutes that are well spent. DO IT. (see yesterday's post for my favorite read alouds in 4th and 5th grade)

Monday, August 22, 2011

Teacher Week: Meet the Teacher Monday

Last year I participated in Teacher Week on Abby's blog. This year Teacher Week has moved to Blog Hoppin', a new teacher resource blog.

  • Here I am last year on the first day of school. My first day for this year will be Thursday! Be on the lookout for a picture...
  • I went to college at James Madison University in Harrisonburg, VA where I felt like I was enrolled in a fabulous teacher prep program (5 year program that earned me my MAT). I had a wonderful experience there.
  • This will be my fifth year teaching. My first year I taught third grade in a Title I school in Virginia. After one year at that school, I transferred to a new school division in Virginia where I taught fourth grade for two years, and then last year I looped up to fifth with kids. This upcoming year in North Carolina, I'll be moving back down to fourth.
  • I have taught and departmentalized teams, and I've taught all subjects in a self contained setting. I love both, for very different reasons. This year I'll be departmentalizing again and only teaching math, science, and writing.
  • My favorite read alouds for my students are: Tuck Everlasting, Hana's Suitcase, The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane (all of which I think everyone should read, teacher or not a teacher!).
  • Math is my favorite subject to teach. My old school division used Everyday Math and we had to use just that. I liked parts of EM, and hated parts of it. This year I'm using Investigations. Don't know much about it. Anyone use it? I'd love to hear your thoughts.
  • I don't like to eat cafeteria food (unless it's corn dog nuggets or a baked potato).
  • My first year of teaching was exceptionally challenging. I cried just about everyday.
  • I love using technology in my classroom when it's useful. Don't love using it just to use it.
  • I absolutely adore my SmartBoard. LOVE LOVE LOVE it!
So that's me as a teacher, in a nutshell! Excited to meet some new teachers this week!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Menu Sunday: crazy busy back to school version

I'm posting a day early so that I can blog for Teacher Week tomorrow!

With the back to school craze that is taking over my life, meals have taken a bit of a back seat. A lot of nights I have come home late and just make some pasta with butter, Parmesan cheese, and garlic powder (one of my favorite guilty meals!). And then a few nights this week past week I've had dinner plans with new coworkers. Hopefully, once school starts, things will start to fall into a new routine.

Here's what we did make:

My meals...

J's Meals:

Breakfast for Dinner!

Red Pepper and Gruyere Cheese Quiche

(Very delicious, but not healthy!)

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Farewell Summer Getaway

Last weekend was my last weekend of summer vacation and we spent it in the mountains near Lexington, VA at our friend's cabin. I've posted about their cabin before, and like always, we had a wonderful time.

This was our second trip up their this summer. When we went back in July, my camera sat in the car the whole time. I made sure to snap some pictures this time around.

On Friday night, we made dinner for the whole crew. We made my flank steak fajitas for everyone with all the best toppings and grilled corn.It turned out to be pretty delicious. It's fun to cook for a big crowd and not just 2 people!

It was quite the spread. Saturday our friends made dinner an we had ribs with a cabbage slaw and an avocado and watermelon salad...we ate well all weekend!

The dogs were spoiled and loved on all weekend. Rosie got really sick before we went (she ate 2 corn cobs out of the trash last weekend....not a good thing for a dog to do), and we had to make an emergency vet visit last Friday morning before we left. After an xray and some physical tests, the vet said she'd be okay to go out of town, but she was very out of it most the weekend. Happy to say she's almost back to normal a week later.

Me and Lays...please excuse the horrible angle this picture was taken from...not the most flattering

We all did a lot of sleeping and napping...

Saturday night there was a huge storm and we lost power. It poured all night and by the next morning, the river/creek out back was so high. This is a picture of us last year on the rocks laying out (I didn't take any pics of us out there this year).

This was what it looked like Sunday morning...

There were no rocks to sit on. The water was so high...and fast! Needless to say, no laying out for us on Sunday. Instead we spent the day playing Spades (or reading, in J's case).

Goodbye cabin! See you again next summer!