Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Guided Reading & Get Your Pretty On!

Happy Wednesday!

We are welcoming our students back today from Spring Break!

We are also starting our new Power Hour (Guided Reading) groups...the last grouping we will have until the end of the school year. There are BIG changes for my group and, I have to admit, I'm both excited and nervous. I will now be working with 22 first graders who are performing below grade-level. Some of these students have IEP goals/objectives specific to literacy and I have been working with them since the beginning of the year. They have moved an average of 3 reading levels since September and I REALLY want to push 1-2 more in the next six weeks. The other students are also reading below-grade level and behavior may play a key role in their lack of growth. 

The excellent news is that there will be TWO teachers for these students! I'll be working with the Interventionist and we will both be pulling Guided Reading groups. There will be a third group that will be rotating through an independent station - sight words, independent reading, and writing. That's actually the group I'm most nervous about - we have some "big" personalities that may need reminders on how to use materials appropriately and really getting the most out of the station time :)

I'll be using Reading A-Z (this week's book - freebie here!) 

and the Interventionist will be using Scholastic books. 

Our students will be reading from three books per week just from Power Hour alone. I'll keep you posted on their progress!

My other exciting news has nothing to do with teaching! 
Spring Break provided time to reflect on how everything is going and I'm not going to lie...this has been one of my toughest years! Common Core and Engage NY Math has literally added hours to my already full teaching week. I'm not complaining at all...I feel we are truly preparing our children to be college-ready and thinking more deeply...doing the "heavy-lifting." Yet, all the extra hours took a toll and last week I really looked at my schedule, my priorities, and how I was going to be able to sustain this lifestyle!

I've already made positive changes to my nutrition (Whole 30) and exercise continues to be my lifesaver. I'm also utilizing The Together Teacher and tightening up my weekly schedule to maximize time. Now it's time to focus on a little more self-care...
I signed up for Stitch Fix (first shipment May 12th!!!) and I also treated myself to this! Please do yourself a HUGE favor and 

I'm following Alison on Instagram and signed up for the Spring 2014 Challenge. She's been SO sweet to work with and she totally gets the "tired, teacher" gig!  It still feels a little indulgent to be concentrating on myself during this busy time of the school year, but Alison makes it super simple (shopping in your own closet!) and everyone benefits when I'm feeling better about myself, right? ;)

One last note...I'm trying hard to motivate myself to actually wear outfits that don't involve a school t-shirt and UGG boots. I picked up a mirror from Target (only $5.99) and snapped a few pics of my outfits. I'm so excited I figured out a way to take a selfie without showing my face! I really, really don't like being in front of the camera!!! Here's one I took over the weekend... check out the colors (not just black!) and my feet (no UGGs!):

I'm going to try really, really hard to continue actually putting together some outfits, with Alison's help. I'll be snapping a few more pictures and popping them up on Instagram. Please let me know what you think! For extra motivation, I'm also going to start a new feature here...everyone can share and we can inspire each other!

Stay tuned!!!

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Sunday, April 20, 2014

Hip Hop Hippity Freebies!

Happy Easter!

I'm off to church and our annual brunch here...yum!

But first I wanted to quickly share fun things going on around here! Here's a few cute freebies to use with festive gifts and/or as decor. We don't really do all the Easter candy and baskets around here. My basket is usually in the form of a shopping bag from Lululemon or Under Armour :)

Guess which one I used?!

I can't believe I hid this for over a week without caving.  And by hiding, I meant I just dropped the bag at the front door along with all my other teacher bags.  The basket is full of goodies from Philadelphia's Reading Terminal Market. There's coffee/mug, chocolate-covered espresso beans, dark chocolate malted milk balls, and a Cadbury egg. I did secretly want the mug, so it's kind of like a gift to myself. Besides the coffee, all the others are things I don't like. That's probably why it lasted a week in my house :)  I'm thankful I don't like Easter candy too much...however, Halloween is a completely different story!

Here's another quick & easy freebie I'll be using for Guided Reading this week:

I'll be using the color-coded vocabulary words the first day & then the colorful illustrations for sequencing/retelling during the follow-up lessons. Please click HERE to download this set.

Lastly, I'm so excited about sharing this! The Primary Gal is hosting a summer book study on a book that I've already purchased and dying to dig deeper into:

It's starts at the end of May! Please sign up so we can chat!

Have a wonderful holiday & week!

This blog is linked up with:
Classroom Freebies Manic Monday

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Friday, April 18, 2014

5 for Friday: Spring Break Ramblings

Happy Good Friday!

Hope everyone had a fantastic week!

It's Spring Break here - the most wonderful week of the year :)

Because my travel plans were a bust, I'm enjoying a staycation here in Baltimore. Probably a good idea because 1) there was a lot on my plate I needed to tackle and 2) our sunny spot in Florida wasn't too warm this week! I'm sure it will be perfect when I land in Tampa less than 3 weeks from now (woot!woot!)

Although I've been ridiculously busy, I've also LEARNED a lot about myself by being mostly alone this week. Here's the scoop 
(& I'm cleverly linking this up with Five for Friday!):

1. I'm just not meant to work at home long-term! It kills me to admit this, because I DREAM of researching, blogging, and writing curriculum full-time most days. But it just takes a week to realize I may not be cut out for it. The upside? I've stayed very disciplined and focused on work. The downside? Oh my goodness, I swear I've eaten twice my weight every day! Maybe it's the extra time at the gym? Hope so, but doubtful.

2. Speaking of the gym, I've kept to my usual training schedule, plus popped into 4 (and counting) spin classes. One was an old favorite haunt I used to go to before my school changed hours and the rest were all new-to-me classes. So much fun! I'm heading back tonight for a Happy Hour hip-hop spin. 

A pal brought me Peeps this morning!

3. I finally found the trigger for my online shopping habit! 

School-related stress (duh)

Sound familiar? Since I've been out for a few days, I haven't even thought about purchasing from TPT (who's writing this post?!?). Did you happen to see the amazing stats from Teachers Pay Teachers? Sales from April 2014 were up 120% from last April. You're welcome - that was me! Not sales, but purchases. It was all stress shopping that I was justifying because it was "for the children." This is not to say that I haven't been shopping this week, but it's been at normal rates and "controlled." 

PS: I did just treat myself & signed up for Stitch Fix! I'm trying not to get my hopes up, but I am really excited for my first fix!

Speaking of style...I need to find some! I spend literally 55 hours at school every week and at least another 20 working on something for school at home. I do make it to the gym every day, but that's the only "me" time I'm having. I don't get out to shop too much, but know that I need to be doing (much) better. Glasses and a pony tail (with a cute headband) has been way too easy lately. I follow lindsey @ thepleatedpoppy on Bloglovin' and Instagram - super inspiring! I've also been intrigued by her weekly linky. I wonder if committing to this would be the motivation I need to spend a few extra minutes on myself! Does anyone have any other advice? It's a little tough when your days are in front of 6-7 year olds who love you (or not) regardless of what you look like and most weekend nights have been all about sleeping! But there's no excuse for turning into my mom (no offense Mom, I love you!). It's time for a little tough love to step it up a bit! If you have a source of inspiration to share that helps you, please let me know!

4. I've been plowing through projects this week! Last weekend I was in Philly for the outstanding CEC convention. I attended several "game-changer" sessions, including one on Autism. I loved it so much that I asked the presenters for the publishing information of their book. They were so gracious and shared that they were about to present on a follow-up topic. I attended and then WON the door prize - this book!

Next, I cleaned out the basement and scheduled a huge donation pick-up (whew!). Then I got busy on my presentation. I started it during all our snow days the past few months and I FINISHED it this week! It will still need to be tweaked and then I'll practice, practice, practice, but the PowerPoint and handouts are done! I'm presenting at this in July, but our first deadlines are this month! I can't share too much yet, but here's a sneak peek slide from my presentation (topic: Student Data Notebooks). 

I realize that doesn't provide too much info...please stop by later for the entire PPT!

I just finished it yesterday, so today I'm going to try my best to relax. I'm still all about Whole 30 and dug out this to reread and get my head back in the game. If you've read it & love it as much as I do, please leave a comment so we can chat! Thank you!

5. Lastly, I've barely given my blog a thought this week and my plans to completely organize my Dropbox (all that clipart!) failed. Hopefully a second wind will kick in soon and I'll get it all done! Until then, here's a few more pics from the past week:

I know it's not a great pic, but I ♥ Philadelphia! 2 colleagues and I were there last weekend for the convention and stayed right next to Reading Terminal Market (wow!) - such a great area of the city!

  I had to stop and snap a picture on my walk to dinner. 
I still cannot get over the scenery here!

This was my halfway point of my 1st long outdoor run of the season (ouch!). There was a Privateer Fest in Fells Point - a place that never fails for great people-watching!

I also snuck in some very reasonable shopping trips! The mint green shoes are at Target - go get them! I picked up the three chevron scarves to lighten up my mostly neutral wardrobe - they were only $10 apiece!

How did you spend your Spring Break? Please leave a comment - I'd love to hear from you! I'll be back soon with some new teaching ideas to share!

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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Spring Break Flash Freebie!

Happy Wednesday!

This post is a recap and apology all-in-one!

I hope you are having a wonderful week! 
My school is on Spring Break - woohoo!!!

I'm taking a much-needed staycation at home because I have a TON to catch up on, plus I booked my Florida get-away for the wrong week :(  

It turned out to be the BIGGEST blessing because 1) did I mention I have a ton of work? and 2) I rescheduled Florida for a 3-day weekend in May when it will be quieter (good-bye Spring Breakers!) and warmer! Win-Win!

I'm spending the week finishing this out-of-control super-exciting presentation! It's not until July, but my first deadlines are in April & May. I can't wait to share it with you once it's all complete. If you have a fantastic resource for student data notebooks and would love to be featured in front of hundreds (yikes!) of educators, please leave me a comment! I would like to display a variety of products for a mini-gallery walk at the end of the presentation. 

As an apology for being MIA most of this week, I'm offering a flash FREEBIE! My Sweet Treats Summer Packet will go back to the regular price of $3.50 at some point during today!

If you're looking for more summer practice for your K-2 students, I also have my Summer Splash Summer Practice Packet and Goin' Buggy Summer Practice Packet

I'd love to hear what you think!
Thanks in advance :)
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Friday, April 11, 2014

High Flying Freebie!

A quick post to share a freebie!

This is an old freebie that just received a new 'do!

The above preview is just a quick peek. 

Please click here to download the complete set!

I hope you can use them with your students :)

This post was linked up with:
Classroom Freebies Manic Monday

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Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Helping Henry Fundraiser

Happy Wednesday!

Today is my last day before Spring Break! 

On the schedule is a little party in Power Hour because it's our last class before we switch around groups. This party will include cookies, a few Easter treats, and playdough using my Sculpt It! Pack. This is my recurring party that I've thrown before (with different students). I'll be sure to post pictures on Instagram!

Here's a freebie sculpting "warm-up" page we'll be using:

Then I'll be teaching two phonics rotations (4 small groups), writing, a lunch team meeting, math, comprehension, after school meeting, leave by 7:00 (I hope!) and HOME! 

I'm getting picked up for early tomorrow morning to attend THIS for the next few days! I'll be sure to share all the amazing things I learn - I can hardly wait! I also just realized we'll be walking distance from Reading Market - what a lifesaver for inexpensive and healthy meal choices. 

Leaving two days early will be sad though because I'll be missing a lot of school fun. We had an anonymous donor provide 2 moonbounces (!!!) for our students after last week's events. It will be set up all day tomorrow and there will even be a teacher competition! Then Friday is a rescheduled Field Day (postponed previously for weather). I'm sad to miss all the fun and asked my co-teachers to take lots of pictures!

I wanted to share an amazing fundraiser I'm so happy to be participating in. Wait until you read all about this adorable boy and family! The fundraiser is called Helping Henry and is organized by Susan at First Grade Friendly Froggies. This is her first post in a series highlighting the 30 terrific products you can purchase as a bundle to support the family. Please be sure to bookmark her blog to see more - she's updating daily!

There's also a Facebook Page called Healing for Henry - this page helps you learn more about this precious boy...wait until you see the pictures :)

I donated my Write Me a Story Pack for the fundraiser. 
You can check out the entire bundle here!

Thank you for all your support!

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Monday, April 7, 2014

Spring Literacy Fun!

Happy Monday!

This is our last Monday before Spring Break!!! 

Our Spring Break starts with an early release (12:15) this Friday. Staff returns for Professional Development on Tuesday April 22nd, and students return the following day. I have so many school projects to tackle throughout the break...more on that later!

So last week was a bit different for our school than most and I think I was able to process it more over the weekend. We had gone back to school Friday with literally no time to rest or even think. I was doing pretty well on Friday evening and then started to get a bit emotional on Saturday (mixed with being waaayyy overtired). And then yesterday, I'm not sure what happened...Mr. D woke up with the stomach flu and I took care of him and things around the house. It was great to get my mind off of everything, but then next thing I knew it was 4:30 and I had fallen asleep. I slept more than 10 hours straight! Last time I've done that? Never! I average 7 hours if I'm lucky. I guess I really needed it!

I woke up this morning to a few emails from school. We'll have additional counseling supports returning this week for students, families, and staff. It also looks like we'll be having a moonbounce (?!?) at our school at the end of the week! I imagine some sweet soul has donated the use of it for our students! 

It's a short week for me because I'm leaving with two OUTSTANDING special educators to drive to Philly early Thursday morning to attend the Council for Exceptional Children Convention. I'm so excited!! Even the conversation (and laughs) on the 2-hour drive will count as professional development! We return Saturday evening and then Spring Break will officially begin!

Here's my jamicure in celebration of the conference!

This week, I will be concentrating on making things as normal as possible for students, plus wrap up ALL the learning we need to fit in before the break. I can't take a break for additional Spring and Easter activities, so I have to mix it in wherever it fits:

We'll be using my Spring Sentence Builders set.
My students ♥ these!

The preview above shows only a few pages from the packet!
Last week, we worked with the model sentences. This week, we'll be moving on to the Sentence Scramblers!

My reading intervention group will also be reviewing with this packet:

What will you be doing to celebrate spring with your students? 
Please leave a comment below! Thanks!

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