Teachers Pay Teachers Cyber Sale!

It's time to get your holiday shopping done!  Head over to to Teachers Pay Teachers to save up to 28% on your favorite items this Monday and Tuesday!

Be sure to pick up your December Lunchbox Notes, Jokes, and Bottle Wraps to make your loved ones smile brightly this holiday season.  Simply print and cut!  I keep my stack in the kitchen ready to sneak into my little one's lunch, homework folder, or library book!  She LOVES sharing the jokes with her friends!!!

My #1 Best Seller will also be on sale...

And, finally...I've got a FREEBIE for you!!!  Woo Hoo!  As I was relaxing this past Thanksgiving break, I decided to get myself organized this December and whipped up a little something for myself...and you!  Click on my FREEBIES tab above to download this little 13-page lovey for yourself.

Happy Holidays!
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Goodbye October...Hello November!

I am happy to kiss {smooch smooch} October so long!  It was hot, hot, hot and I am thrilled beyond belief to finally have weather in the 60s and 70s.  I swear it's been over 90 degrees since July!

For our monthly Currently linky party, here is what I'm currently up to...

I love hearing my hubby react to watching is precious Oregon Ducks play football.  He's a die-hard fan, win or lose, and this week's game against Arizona State is going into triple overtime!!!  Fingers crossed for my honey who bleeds green and yellow.

As I mentioned last month, Periscope is blowing up for teachers.  I hear that little whistle so often now from teachers filling the airwaves with awesome PD tips and classroom advice.  I'm trying to work up the nerve to do my first one and I think I just need to go for it!  I hope to channel my inner Brooke Brown and just DO it!  :)  I think I'll force myself to jump in by posting an Instagram ad for my time and topic....impossible to chicken out then, huh?!  hahaha

I recently went whale watching and got SO seasick!  I do get motion sick on long, windy drives and really turbulent flights and this 2 hour boat excursion was no different.  BOO!  Luckily, misery loves company and the two other mommies on the trip were as nauseous as me.  Three families headed out bright-eyed and ocean ready to celebrate a little one's birthday, and thankfully only the mommies were feeling the yuckiness.  I'm happy to report I kept my lunch in place and made it back to land in one queasy piece.  No whales were spotted, but we saw a few pods of dolphins and sting rays and the trip ended on a fun note for everyone!

November for my district is when the grading window is open to post grades.  The window closes before Thanksgiving break, so we need to complete our assessments and get grades inputted in the next few weeks.  We hand report cards out at our conferences in early December.

And, yes, I am one of those pumpkin loving Pinterest gals pinning everything pumpkin right now.  I do admit that pumpkin ice cream is NOT the best tasting thing Dreyer's has ever made {I like my pumpkin warm and toasty}, but pumpkin bagels are my guilty carb pleasure....yum!

Happy November!

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I Love Donors Choose!

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If you're a teacher, you need to learn about Donors Choose.org!  Donors Choose is a tax deductible online charity that makes it so easy for other people to donate to you classroom for whatever your students need...from books to carpets to technology tools. Donors can choose to give any amount they want, from $1 up to fully funding your entire project.  Once you're funded, the items you requested will be shipped directly to you!  It's like Christmas, any time of the year!  Woo hoo!

Last year was my first time submitting a project on Donors Choose. The website walks you through the process and had lots of helpful tips to guide you in writing your project proposal. Luckily I was funded fully by Chevron, who is a HUGE supporter of public school teachers.  I wanted to test my luck and try again this year...and...voila!  Chevron once again came swooping in like Superman to save the day!  They fully funded my Technology and Tools for Readers Workshop project!

Here are some of the goodies my students will be receiving:

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5 Voice recorders to tape themselves reading books or their own creative stories.

A class set of double-sided write and wipe boards for all sorts of uses.  We LOVE these boards!
Tabletop white board for small group instruction
All we have to do in return is send Thank You notes, which we would want to do anyway for someone who donates to our class.  Last year, I included lots pictures of the students using the interactive whiteboard software that was donated.  This year, I cannot wait to share pictures and video of my lucky kiddos using the new voice recorders!

So, if you haven't checked out Donors Choose, head over there to get some much needed love for your classroom!

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Reading Response Homework Logs

We have all seen the data and know how important it is for our students to read outside of the classroom on a daily basis.  Almost every teacher and school district I know requires at-home reading during the week. 

But, do we really want to know what page they started and stopped on?  Do we just want our kids to write down the number of minutes we told them to read?  For my own daughter's nightly reading, the school-wide system is to have the parents initial a box on a calendar {see photo below}.  Really?  That's it?!  Where's the thinking?  Why not practice important reading strategies and skills they are working on in class?  Why not bring more meaning and substance to their nightly reading?  

So, I decided to create Reading Response Homework Logs for my class.  Instead of students charting page numbers and minutes, they will answer just ONE Common Core reading strategy prompt based on their at-home reading that day.  

Every Monday, send home the one-sided sheet with the directions, daily reading tasks, and response space.  My kiddos turn in their Reading Response Homework Log on Fridays. There are 10 different response logs to choose from (in color and black/white) that can be completed with any fiction bookYou could use one format each month, rotate each week, or pick and choose based on your classroom focus and student needs.  I like to change them up each week for more variety.  Each log has cute, simple graphics for easy copying that are NOT month specific, perfect for anytime of the year.  And, no two reading tasks are exactly identical, so our kids are thinking about new strategies and concepts each night!  Woo hoo!

These fiction reading logs were such a hit with my students and parents.  So much more worthwhile and useful than my traditional reading logs!  Of course I had to take full advantage of this enthusiasm and make Non-Fiction Reading Response Logs for when we are teaching skills and strategies related to informational texts.  

The Informational Reading Logs were a more effective than I thought.  Rarely do kids choose to reading informational texts at home.  But, this was the first time I actually guided my students and gave them the supporting tools to read these kinds of texts at home.  I can't believe I didn't think of it sooner!!

If you'd like to take a peek, click here to head to my TpT store.  I'm in the process of making the logs editable so teachers can alter them any way they see fit.

BUT...I'd love to know what YOU do in your classroom!  Do you monitor nightly reading?  Use a calendar?  Something different?  Nothing at all?  I'd love for you to comment below about what you or your school uses to support and encourage nightly reading!

Happy Reading!
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Currently October

The start of a new month means it's time to join Farley's CURRENTLY linky party! Woo hoo!

Listening:  The hubby and I balance out the Barbie and My Little Pony dolls with plenty of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) activities for our two little girls.  They are just a few feet away from me building a bridge with their KEVA blocks to carry Twilight Sparkle to Ponyville. :)

Loving:  I officially dove head first into social media a few weeks ago.  Yikes!  I'm really too old for that, but I'm SO glad I did.  I signed up for Instagram and Twitter and they led me to the whole new world of Periscope and Blab!  You've GOT to check out our awesome #teachertribe colleagues sharing all that they know while they live stream on these apps.  Be sure to watch Jen @hellojenjones, Brooke Brown @BrookeBrownTpT, Ashley @MsIdealistic, Megan at @MegBoxofCrayons, Amy @amyadapts, and Sheila Jane Teaching @sheilajteaching.  These ladies are true #teacherpreneurs and have SO much to share, it's ridiculous.  Getting to comment and ask questions as they live stream is amazing.

Thinking: I love the fall...the cooler weather {well, not yet this year} leads to sweaters and jeans and cuddles on the couch.  Fall marks the start of the holiday season and the boxes of decorations come out of the attic.  Pumpkin spice is everywhere and smells delicious.  It's just a 'homey' season...super comfy!

Wanting: For fall weather to read the calendar and hurry up and get here already.  Yes, I love the beach, but I am not a fan of temperatures over 85 degrees unless I'm actually in the water with a cocktail in hand.  Knee deep in 7 year olds listening to my read aloud huddled together on my classroom carpet?  No way, without air conditioning.  TOO HOT!  

Needing:  A nice cold beverage to chill me out in this hot weather!

I feel Boo-tiful when my little friends, from this year and previous years, seek me out for hugs throughout the day.  The mom in me can't help but show a little love to my friends that need it the most.

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CGI Math Strategies & Freebie

I am linking up with Angie from Lucky Little Learners and Ashley from Schroeder Shenanigans in Second.  This month we are talking about math strategies, math games, and math FREEBIES. Woo Hoo!

My district has been going nuts over Cognitively Guided Instruction (CGI) for teaching our math common core standards.  CGI has been around for over 30 years, but now with common core, it's more important than ever to be listening to how our kids think about math and to be having conversations about their thinking.

Instead of diving into our curriculum in the first weeks of school, we instead take some time to explore what our students already know about math.  We pose real-world math situations and use manipulatives to see what our second graders can tell us.  It is so valuable to have them show and verbally express their math thinking...not only for themselves, but for their classmates.  Hearing the 5 different ways their friends solved the problem promotes valuable classroom discussions and sparks new connections!

One of my students' absolute FAVORITE activities for this exploration is Counting Collections.  We simply have gathered various small materials (coins, beads, Q-tips) in plastic baggies for the children to count.  Then, we find a spot on the floor and get to counting.  Counting?   Yep, that's it.  Simple.  But, very informative.

They count their items with a partner.  It takes some time, but it's amazing to watch what they do.  How many items do we put in the bag?  I try for between 50 - 100 items, but it doesn't really matter.  Getting to the exact number of items is not what's important.  It's HOW they counted that matters.  Are they grouping them by 2s?  Groups of 10?  Counting every single bead one by one?  Need a basket to hold your groups of 10?  No problem!  

Understanding how children think mathematically is so much more important to my classroom instruction that trying to simply give them the way to think.  We give them paper to show how they organized their items and record their thinking.

During these weeks of exploration, we summarize our thinking and learning by discussing the common strategies we used to solve our math problems.  Did Emma count on?  Did Abigail organize her items in an array?  Why did Graham use tally marks?  We post our strategies on our bulletin board.

We have created this mini poster of our common strategies for students to use in class and for parents at home.  It has really helped many parents with the new language of common core!  We send home the black and white version and also give our students a smaller half- or quarter-sheet version for easy reference.

If you'd like a copy of my Math Strategies Posters for your class {click here} to snag a FREE copy this month.  

Happy exploring!
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Happy Fall & Pumpkin Investigation Time!

I just LOVE fall!  Yes, the summer is the best time for heading to the beach and re-energizing for the upcoming school year, but fall is special.  The apples & pumpkins, back to school sales, newly laminated posters, the slightly cooler weather {well, not THIS year...it's still in the high 80s here in So Cal!  Gulp!}...it's just my favorite season!  It means the holidays are right around the corner.

I love my job and heading back to school is fun and exciting for me.  All of those fresh little second grade faces bright-eyed and ready to absorb whatever I say, is a feeling like no other.  Simply the best!

As soon as October hits the calendar wall, I like to trade my shiny apples for plump pumpkins!  I have a few Halloween decorations up and activities planned, like Hope King's Spooktacular Halloween Math Centers.  But, overall I like to stick with the general theme of fall.

One of my students' favorite activities is our Pumpkin Investigation!  We bring in small or large pumpkins to practice several language, math, and science skills.  We've done these activities spread out over the course of the season OR, jam-packed them all into one day, our celebratory Pumpkin Day!  Some years we do the activities whole class, and other years we divide up into table groups with a parent at each table leading the charge.  Either way works for our class.  Here's a little preview...

I like this set because it's very appropriate for my advanced learners as well as my other students...just depends on how much scaffolding I give to each group.  You can do what works best for your students!  If you'd like to check this out, it's on sale now in my TeachersPayTeachers Store.  {CLICK HERE} to take a peek.

Here's to fall...pumpkin spiced candles and all!
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The First Day of Preschool!

Hello everyone!  As my very first post, I thought I'd truly embrace the essence of this blog...teaching and motherhood.  So, let me recount my older daughter's traumatic first day of preschool.  Traumatic for me........not her!  

It has been a few years since then, so I can now look back on the situation with humor.  I was 7 1/2 months preggers with Baby #2 at the time and was really excited to enroll my first little angel in preschool 2 mornings a week to have some special time when the new baby arrived.  E was almost 3 years old and eager to start school and make new friends!

It was E's first day of school and it was just an Open House to meet the teacher from 9 to 10 am, with her first full day of school being the next day.  Or, so I thought!  

We arrived at 9am, after a 10 min stroller ride from our house (good for mommy to get some exercise!).  We met her teacher, Mrs. Lance, and her 11 classmates while sitting on the rug.  I snapped a few pictures and before I knew it, Mrs. Lance was telling the kiddos to wave good-bye to Mommy and Daddy.  What?  Huh?  She told us to return at 11:55 to pick them up.  What??

Well, I guess it was E's first REAL day of preschool.  I had no idea what happened to the "meet the teacher" at Open House.  I gave kisses and hugs as E put on a brave face while 2 other kids went into hysterics.  I followed another mom out the door and asked her about the supposed Open House.  She didn't know what I was talking about...I was dumb-founded!

I pushed the empty stroller home, tears streaming down my face.  I was SO not prepared to just drop her off with complete strangers in a new environment.  I had her dressed for a cute, short visit, not the first day of school.  No sunblock, wearing a skirt that ties in the front (troublesome as we just did potty training), hair down with just a bow in it, nothing to put in her little white cubby...my mind was racing.  I didn't get to chat with the teacher or check out the potty facilities in that specific classroom or check on the daily snack they provided that day.  Nothing. NOTHING.

How could I have been so wrong?  Where did I get that Open House idea from?  From the SCHOOL, that's where.  So, I waddle in the house with my tear-stained face and my dear hubby J listens to my story while grinning (he decided to work from home on her first day of school...such a good daddy!).  He's sympathetic, but knows E is just fine, it's her mommy that is a wreck.

I was hell-bent on finding the paperwork that discussed the Open House.  I'm not crazy!  I knew I had JUST tossed it out, as school was starting this week.  I had also written it on our calendar.  I looked in her 'school' file.  Nothing.  I searched all of our trash and recycle bins in the house.  Nothing.  As my luck would have it, it's trash day.  I don my bright yellow and unused dishwashing gloves and head to the street.  The neighbors must have thought I was crazy to pull out bag after bag from our huge bins.  The recycle bin wasn't so bad...it was the trash bin that was terrible.   Oh my....when you have two big dogs that poop as much as ours, diving in the trash bin is a horrific experience (I don't plan on doing it EVER again until E loses a $300 retainer...).  Gasping for fresh air and feeling frustrated...I gave up.  What was the point anyway.  She's there and probably having a great time, while I'm elbow deep in dog poop.  Time to move on.

I spent the remaining hour and a half of my 'free time' cleaning, doing dishes (without the gloves, of course), going through paperwork, etc.  And, when 11:50 rolled around, I hopped on J's bike (it has E's bike seat on it), and meandered my way the four blocks to her school.  I must have been quite a sight, as two parents commented about what a great way to pick her up, as parking is a bit difficult.  I think they were really wondering how I was going to keep my balance on such a large bike with E in tow and my huge pregnant belly sticking out!

I was thrilled to see E as happy as can be on her little spot on the rug.  She had a GREAT day and even went potty twice without much skirt difficulty (we always wear little shorts or capris at home, but will practice with skirts now).  We biked home while she babbled about the apple artwork she had sponge painted that day and was gripping tightly on our journey home.  Daddy had lunch waiting for us and a nice, cold 7-up for stressed out Mommy.  E showed us the new ouchy on her knee (dang skirt!), and said that it was okay now.

She was okay....and finally, so was I.
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