Thursday, July 26, 2012

Oh my poor neglected little blog...,a blog hop, and a FREEBIE!

I can't believe how long it's been since I've posted!  Well, I take that back, I can believe it, things have been crazy around here.  Silly me thinking that summer would arrive and I would have all the time in the world, especially for all of the reading I planned to do to prep for the upcoming school year.  My hubby keeps looking at the stacks of books that I "just had to have" yet are still sitting on the end table. So first, I have to apologize for not being more consistent over these past few weeks.  My older son has been playing on the Jimmy Fund All Stars team for the eleven year old division.  His team is not doing very well, but he personally is doing great, I'm so proud of him!  He's really starting to come into his own and I keep getting glimpses at the young adult he's going to be...<3
We recently returned from our vacation to Lake George, New York.  We had such a great time!  There are so many different things to see and do up there, we couldn't possibly fit it all in, but we definitely crammed what we could into our week stay.  Here are a few highlights:
Locked in the stocks at Fort William Henry...
Watching the ships in the harbor...
The amazing river view that we had right from our campsite...we were right along the peaceful!
 Check out this AMAZING VIEW from up at Fort Ticonderoga!
A view of the fort...
And here is where I wish I could  ;)  This was a cute little school house in Story Town at The Great Escape Six Flags in New York.  Talk about ideal class sizes right?  hee hee

I know I'm late getting in on this, but I wanted to join in the fun with Janis over at Grade Three is the Place for Me!
                                                               It's a Newbie Blog Hop!

So, here are my responses!
1.  I teach in central Massachusetts.
2.  I teach third grade and love it!
3.  I started teaching in 2006, and have wanted to be a teacher since I was in the second grade.
4.  I started blogging in March, and I am amazed at everything I have learned from all of you amazing educators in this short time!
5.  Blog Baby Blog was able to help me get rid of those nasty prove your not a robot code things lol.  I also plan to start using a blank calendar template to try to better organize my blog posts especially when school starts back up, summer insanity has shown me a need for this! ;) 

I have been working on trying to get some of the things on my to-do list crossed off so that I won't feel like there's a mad rush right before school starts back.  It's definitely been a slow process, but I will leave you with a sample of the pack I am working on finishing up right now.  I am creating a classroom library check out board for my classroom so I can keep better track of what books students are reading from the classroom library.  I am loving the black and white designed library card pockets that I purchased to make the board, and I've been working on creating the sign-out cards that will slip into them.  I designed them so I can print them back to back, and I just have to make up my mind about which design I want to use in my classroom this fall.

Click here for a sample for you to enjoy free! =)
I will do my best to get back to being regular with posts...I promise!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Sorry it's been a while, and a FREEBIE!

I feel bad that I haven't posted in a while.  Summer is definitely keeping our family busy!  On top of that we're prepping for our vacation next week, SUPER EXCITED!  We're going to be camping for a week near Lake George, New York, so blog posts next week are bound to be sparse as well.  So, to tie you over until then ;)  I'm posting this freebie!
Click on the picture to download your copy!
I've been spending a lot of time creating materials to go along with my new classroom color scheme, and wanted to share this with all of you.  Hopefully they will be of use to someone else as well! =)  I have also been working on organizing my reader's workshop binders, writer's workshop binders, classroom labels, etc. but I will post more about them in the future.  I hope everyone has a great rest of the week! =)  I'm off to get some new sandals for my son before our trip, and to do my best to resist all of the school supplies that are being put out already...cross your fingers and wish me luck!

Saturday, July 7, 2012

I love the weekend and a FREEBIE!

I have been keeping very busy lately.  Between the 4th of July and keeping my boys busy, I haven't had much computer time.  Here are a few pics from this past week:
 Sparklers on the 4th...
 Happy hikers taking a break near the waterfall we visited...
Our own little slice of beauty close to home.  This is in the next town over from us where I grew up, and it is one of my all time favorite places.  Isn't it beautiful???

So, other than hiking and hanging out with two of my favorite little men, I've been reading my brains out (note to self, don't start more than one book at a time in the future...holy overload!) I've been creating away many different things for my classroom when we go back at the end of August.  I'd like to share one of them with you today.  (FREEBIE ALERT!!)  After seeing the amazing math boggle board on Pinterest by the amazing:
Live Laugh and Love to Learn in Second Grade
and reading Guided Math and deciding to implement and interactive calendar feature to my classroom this year (more coming on that in the near future, stay tuned!), I decided that I just had to have an interactive math "boggle" type board of my own.  Of course it had to be matchy-matchy (yes spell check, I know that's not a word, deal with it) with my new room color theme, so I made one of my own.  You can check out this freebie by clicking the picture below:

Enjoy! =)

Thursday, July 5, 2012

3AM Teacher, a FREEBIE, and finally starting Guided Math...

The FABULOUS Michelle aka the 3AM Teacher is celebrating 1,000 followers!!!  Congratulations to Michelle, and you can check out her awesome giveaway below:

I love Michelle's posts, and she is such a creative person.  I love using her frames and graphics in materials for my classroom.  Check out these adorable owls by Michelle that I used to create this cute little freebie:

I have also FINALLY started reading Guided Math by Laney Sammons.  I'm a little late getting into it, it's been sitting on my coffee table while I've been working on materials for my classroom.  Hopefully it will be a quick read, because from what I've been hearing around blog land is that there's definitely a lot to it.  Wish me luck! =) 
Have a great day!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Happy 4th of July!

Today's post will be a short one, have to get things going for our 4th of July cookout later.  It's going to be only a small gathering and very relaxing, I've pretty excited! =)
Photo: All Aubuchon Hardware stores are open tomorrow! We've got you covered for all your needs... flags, propane, beach chairs, coolers, umbrellas, bug spray, citronella candles, grill accessories, charcoal...etc. Happy Independence Day!
I also got to talk to my brother just the other day on the phone which made my day.  He's a Marine, and lives and is stationed in California, so we don't get to see him very often at all, and I miss my little brother!  Anyway, I hope that everyone has a happy, safe, and relaxing 4th of July.  It is a wonderful country we live in!
I'd also like to say a special thank you to Carolyn over at 

She was very sweet and awarded me:

Thank you so much!!!  If you haven't been by to see Carolyn yet, go check her out!  Now the challenge for me is going to be trying to find 15 new bloggers to receive this award, but I will definitely be on the lookout for new and deserving bloggers! =)  Have a great day!

Monday, July 2, 2012

30+ followers FREEBIE and my 1st Monday Made It!

So, first off, thanks again to all of you wonderful followers!  I wanted to make a freebie to share with you, so here it is!

Place Value Pirates!   Freebie! 
Click on the picture and it will take you to my TpT store so you can download your FREE copy!  It's a sorting game where students identify place value of digits through the 1000s.  Let me know what you think!  I hope you all like it.
I'm also jumping on board (finally) for 4th Grade Frolics Monday Made It.
A couple of weeks ago I had a fantastic girls' day out with my best friend.  We are talking a perfect day, Yankee Candle flagship store, Pier 1, Christmas Tree Shop, pedicures, etc. etc.  We had a great time just poking around and hanging out.  During our adventures I came across this little gem:
 As soon as I found this I was so excited!  Can we say awesome pencil holder???  =)  So then of course I had to take my time and just the right accessories for my wonderful find.  The other day I went to Michael's with my mother.  It took me over an hour in there, but I finally made up my mind.  Here is what I decided on:

 Here's a closer image of the ribbon I went with:

  and the accents that I decided to go with:

 When all was said and done it took me way longer to shop for the ribbon and flowers than it did to put the final product together.  Have to love when a project goes quickly! =)  Here it is:

 and one more view:

 I ended up alternating between the two flower colors around the outer edge because I couldn't decided which I liked better.  I love it, and cannot wait to use it on my desk in my classroom.  (I'm also secretly hoping to find another pot just like this one so I can make the exact same thing because it matches my house perfectly!)
So there you have it, my first project completed.  Now if only the rest of them were that easy! =)  That definitely was nothing like my deck job I tackled at home.  Our house is eight years old, and the  wood was never sealed, it was pressure treated but never sealed.  So this is what it all looked like on the decks:
 It was definitely all gray/brown/green dingy and I HATED it.  So, after two full days of scrubbing and pressure washing we were starting to make some real progress:
 Once it was all clean (finally) we sealed it with a cedar tinted deck stain.  Had we known how much of a process this was going to be, we would have gone with the Thompson's clear finish that we initially were going to go with.  We then saw the cedar color in another brand, but we didn't realize how it would drip and coat unevenly.  Add to that the temperature was 90 degrees and it was soaking in so quickly because it had never been sealed before, and we had a long, hot, never ending task in front of us.  In the end it came out pretty well, and seeing as this is our first home, we're learning as we go along. =)

Not too bad right? =)
Have a great day!

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Notebook Connections...and HOLY COW 30 FOLLOWERS!!

Good morning!  I recently finished reading Notebook Connections by Aimee Buckner.  What a good read!  Last year was my first experience teaching reading through readers' workshop.  We had a full day training, and then pretty much hit the ground running.  Most of our follow up support was focused on making sure that everyone had a good understanding of the flow of a focus lesson, from the modeled practice, to the guided practice and gradual release into independent practice.  I felt comfortable enough in teaching my focus lessons, and got to the point where I was comfortable picking and choosing lessons from different sources/materials.  I really used Fountas & Pinells' Guiding Readers and Writers.  I loved their version of the reader's notebooks.  I went out and purchased a class set of binders, dividers, you name it, I got it.  I put my notebooks together and was all set to implement them in the classroom.  In theory it was a good idea, but when it came to really using them I found myself lacking.  I couldn't put my finger on what it was about them that wasn't working for me, I just knew I wasn't getting what I'd hoped for from them.  When students were writing responses to me I really felt like they were just retelling the story.  Many even just wrote exactly what happened in the story word for word, even though I'd modeled writing a thoughtful response many times.  I couldn't figure out where I went wrong with them, so I abandoned them.  After having read Notebook Connections, I'm now so much more confident in using readers' notebooks in my classroom.  I was able to figure out what wasn't working for me.  I wasn't getting carry over of the strategies I was teaching in class, and I struggled to have their responses be meaningful and taking their thinking deeper.  What I love most about Notebook Connections is that Aimee includes not only descriptions of the strategies she teaches her students, but also student samples, and snippets of actual classroom dialogue.  For me this was a huge turning point.  I am a very explicit learner, I need to read it, hear it, and see it to get it, and this book did just that.  Among some of my favorite strategies that Aimee introduces to students are:
*Finding a Spark:  We use so many sticky notes in readers' workshop, and then what do we do with them?  I've given students places in their notebooks to place them, sort of a sticky note parking lot.  But I felt that's all they were, parked, abandoned, and what then's the point?  Aimee's Finding a Spark strategy teaches students to go back to their thoughts tracked on sticky notes and to look at their thinking.  Students are looking for thinking that went deeper, or created a "spark" of thinking so to speak.  I absolutely LOVE this idea.  It was exactly what I was looking for.  I now have another tool to push my students' thinking deeper.  Who doesn't love that?
*Leaning In:  This strategy is all about enhancing students' inferences by "leaning in" to the story more to look more closely and see those details that the author may have not come right out and told us about, and to make more meaning of what's read.  What I love about this strategy is that it presents different layers to the visualization strategy that we all use.  Using these different layers students will also have another way to communicate whether they are reading just right level books based on the types of images they are seeing.  This will be extremely valuable for me.   If I have a student telling me that they are only seeing "still pictures" like photographs I can infer that they are struggling to really comprehend the text that they are reading, and I can use this information in my conferences with students to help better direct them to just right level books.

I can't say enough about this book,  I finally feel like I will be able to help my students make meaningful connections between what they are reading, the thinking that they are tracking, and their readers' notebooks.  I finally feel like our thinking there will not just be "parked", it will be referred to, and revisited to continue helping students make more meaning of what they've read.

P.S.  I just realized that I've hit 30 followers!  That's amazing!  I know that some people have hundreds and thousands, but I'm honored that all of you tune in to read my thoughts and ideas.  Stay tuned for a freebie coming soon just for all of you as a thank you!  =)