Cyber Monday....and Random Thoughts

It is Cyber Monday tomorrow, so why not check out some great deals at TPT?  Everything in my store is 20% off.  Teacher's Notebook is also hosting a sale today through Wednesday, December 2nd.  Everything there is 20% off, as well!

It is so hard to believe that it is almost Christmas!  This school year is almost half gone!  WOW! Things have been moving at such a swift pace.  Has it been the same for you?  I can't seem to get my head around the fact that we are almost halfway done with this year.  For me, it seems like we have just started the year.

We are finishing up our Tree Kangaroo Unit next week, and will be heading into Grinch activities for review skills the last week before Christmas break. Does your district do Literacy units, or do you all have to create your own to teach the common core skills?  Our district wrote 6 units in Literacy.  We use the books Bud, Not Buddy, The Quest for the Tree Kangaroo, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, and What's the Big Idea, Ben Franklin.  The other 2 units are for getting ready for the year and teaching expectations for our workshops, and celebrating our successes in Literacy at the end of the year.  I have mixed feelings about having units written for us.  I understand the reasoning....we tend to share children that move between the 2 middle schools, so it is easier if the curriculum is the same.  However, it tends to limit us as teachers in our classrooms.  How do you all handle common core?  Do you create your own lessons, or does your district dictate what you teach?



Back to school will be upon us before we know it!  If you are like me, you are already preparing for the upcoming year.  Why not save money in the process?  All my products, as well as all TPT products will be on sale August 3-4.  My products are 20% off, but you can save up to 28% by using the Promo Code BTS15 at checkout!  Why not visit now and start making your list for Monday and Tuesday?  Beat the rush!


Ahead of Schedule! Yea, Me!!

Normally I wait until the first week of August to start setting up my room for the year.  However, this year we go back what seems a little early for me.  Our first day back is August 10th and students' first day is August 17th.  Our building retreat is August 4th and I have another PD on August 3rd, so I went ahead and headed over to school and worked in my room.  It really only took me about 6 hours total.  I went one afternoon when it was rainy, and last Saturday when the heat index was 120.  I could not spend anytime in the pool on either of those days, so I figured....why not?  I am so glad I did......I AM DONE!!!  My room is ready, now all I need are my students!  The first day, I just got my furniture unstacked and arranged:

That was a chore, but is sure felt good when it was done!  On Saturday, I got all of the stuff unloaded from my cabinets and put on shelves....(I have a TON of books!!!)  That took the longest....sorting them and grouping them for Lit Study groups.  I also re-organized my book boxes in my library:

I don't put a lot on the walls until the kids are there.  I use the wall space to put up anchor charts and posters that I use in my teaching.  I feel like the kids use them more as a resource if they are there when they go up.  It feels really GREAT to be completely done and ready for kids.....and it is not even the end of July!!!  When do you all start back?  When do your kids start back?    



I am linking up with Farley over at Oh'Boy 4th Grade for June Currently.  This is what I am doing.....Currently.....

Listening:  I am listening to the frogs and crickets.  I absolutely LOVE sitting out on the porch at night and listening to the night sounds!  Nothing like summer nights in the country!

Loving:  I am loving that I do not have to set my alarm....for June, July, and part of August.  Of course, I set it on Sundays for church, but not for work until August!  LOVE, LOVE, LOVE!!!

Thinking:  I am so tired, and have had a VERY busy month.  Is it bedtime yet?  I think I will crawl in and watch some mindless show until I fall asleep....won't take long!

Wanting:  My sister lives a state over and we don't get to see each other very often.  I want so badly for us to live closer....I miss her terribly!

Needing:  I really need to do a deep cleaning on my house.  We have 4 dogs, so we sweep and vacuum daily, but I need to spend some time doing a deep clean...don't WANT to, but NEED to!

Summer Love:  I cannot wait to spend time relaxing in the pool....time relaxing reading.....and time relaxing taking afternoon naps after getting out of the pool!  BRING.ON.SUMMER!

This is what I am doing currently....what are you doing?


Today.....even though it is my first full day of summer vacation.  And yes.....I still woke up around 6 am.  It takes me a few weeks to get out of that pattern.  Am I alone in this?  It has been a rocky year to say the least.  We had 2 deaths at our school....our Art teacher, and a fifth grader. Both left a hole in our school.  We were out for 7 days due to snow, so we had to add 5 days on at the end of our calendar.....which put us going through yesterday.  But, I know there are some of you still in school, so our's was not so bad....

I plan on doing some crafts for my classroom this summer, and I will post them as I do them.  I feel a creative streak coming on......AFTER my "staycation"!  I plan on staying at home for at least a week and doing nothing but rest and read and be a couch potato....or recliner potato....or a pool potato.....LOL!  Any longer than that and I will start to go stir crazy!

I also plan on getting back into a routine with my blogging.  I had so many things that I could have and should have blogged about during the year, but "life" got in the way.  I hope to change that this year!

I hope everyone has a safe, fun, relaxing summer!  You WILL hear from me soon!


The Lions of Little Rock.....One School, One Book

I am in charge of our One School, One Book program at our school.  For our first book, we read Rules by Cynthia Lord.  The timing of it caught up with us very quickly, but we still managed to do a pretty good job with it.  For our second book, we chose The Lions of Little Rock by Kristin Levine. We were much more prepared for this one. We decorated our school to look like a zoo.

This is the media center and is the first thing you see when you come in the building.  It turned out really cute.  We used duct tape to make the "bars" on the windows  cages. We colored and cut out the animals and put them in with brown paper and made leaves.  

We put the lions in our counseling center windows, with the book title and a synopsis of the book.

I created a reading schedule for the school, and we do weekly activities in our advisory class.  I also do weekly trivia questions and the winners win candy, bookstore bucks, or popcorn.  We usually have about 18 winners each week.  BUT.....the coolest part was that I wrote to Kristin Levine to see if she might read a chapter for us since we bought about 1,000 copies of her book.  I figured all she could do was tell me no, right?  Well she did....sort of.  She said she would prefer to Skype with us!  It was so cool.  We had students submit questions, then we chose a question from each team.  The student who came up with the question was the one who got to Skype with Kristin Levine and ask her their question.  It was great for the kids!  Here is a picture....not great, but a picture none the less of me talking with Kristin Levine.
You can see my reflection in the computer screen, and the head in the screen is Kristin Levine.  I know....not the best shot, but it is better than nothing!!  LOL!!!  She is such a great, down to earth person, and the Skype visit was a blast!

We also wrote and received a grant to take our WHOLE school to Little Rock Central High School and museum.  What a great learning experience for our kids!  We had to schedule 9 days with 2 groups of 50 each day to get everyone, but it was done thanks to our assistant principal.  The kids had a great time, and it was so neat for them to see places talked about in the book, The Lions of Little Rock.  

We also have some speakers coming in who actually lived through "The Lost Year" in Little Rock.  
My mother in law lived through that year, so I have a lot of background knowledge about it.  

Have any of you read The Lions of Little Rock?  Do any of your schools do One School, One Book? I would love to hear from you if you do, and would love to hear how your program works!



Today, I am linking up with Elizabeth over at Fun in Room 4B for her Can't Live Without It Linky.

I have been really thinking about what exactly it is that I can't live without.....and my answer is my job chart.  I have my students sitting at tables of 4.  Each seat is numbered 1-4, and students are assigned a seat based on testing data.  My job chart has 4 jobs, also numbered 1-4:  notebook navigator, binder brigade, paper patrol, and cleaning captain.  Notebook navigators are responsible for getting/returning their table's notebooks for the day.  Binder brigades are responsible for getting/returning their table's binders for the day.  Paper patrols are responsible for gathering and handing out papers to their tables, and cleaning captains are in charge of making sure all things are cleaned up and put away before they leave my classroom for the day.  As students come into the classroom, they check the job chart to see what their job is for the day. (I change the jobs weekly, so students do the same job for a week at a time.) The job chart number matches their seat number. This makes it SO easy to get the kids in the room and ready to work. We are able to get in our classroom, write our assignments in our assignment notebooks, get our jobs done, and get our bell ringer done in about 5 minutes.  I do not have to remind students to get their things.  If someone at a table is not doing their job, the other students remind them to do it.  This system runs itself!  I CAN'T LIVE WITHOUT IT!!!

So.....what can't you live without?  I would love to hear about it!!!


March Currently

I am linking up with Farley over at Oh' Boy 4th Grade for her March Currently.  Here is mine:

LISTENING:  I am so ready for this snow and ice to be gone.  I want to see green grass and warmer weather.  I love the sound of all of this mess melting.  Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed my snow days....all 7 of them!!  I am just tired of being cold!!!  :)

LOVING:  I am ready to teach again.  I have had a student teacher for 8 weeks, and I am ready to be teaching again.  I love helping new teachers, but it sure makes for long days and weeks when I am not up and teaching!

THINKING:  We only have 1 week of teaching left before our Spring PARCC test!!!!!  I have so much to do to make sure the kids are as successful as they can be.  The practice test made me VERY nervous!!!   I HATE testing....can I just say that????

WANTING:  I really, really, really, really, really want to take a nap, but I have so much to do that I don't see that in my future!

NEEDING:  We have been in school a total of 7 days since February 13th!  I keep having to shift plans, and that is driving me nuts!  I wish they would just plan themselves!!  :)

SPRING BREAK PLANS:  This is plans....HUGE.....I plan on sitting outside and soaking up some sun and warmth!  How's that for relaxing!!!   

I would love to hear what your are doing CURRENTLY!  Link up and share!


I have been so hit and miss with my blog....UGH!!!!  I am ready to get back into the swing of it.  It has been such a crazy year with so many ups and downs.  However, I have decided that I am not going to let that keep me from getting back into the game!

I have had a student teacher for the last 8 weeks, and have not been teaching much.  She is not with me anymore, so I will be teaching again.  I really miss teaching everyday.  Jessica did a great job, but it is really hard to watch someone else teach my kids!

I am transforming my classroom into literacy centers.  We have been given the green light from our administration to do this.  I have done centers for years, and I know they work.  I am excited to be able to do them with my 5th graders.  Centers are the easiest way to differentiate, and they make it so easy to meet with small groups every day.  I am working on some products for my store that will help with centers.  I hope to have them up in a few days.

Do any of you do centers with upper grades?  If so, how do you organize them?  How do you group your students?  I would love to hear from you about this.  I know how I ran centers in the early grades, and I am wanting them to look similar, but on a higher level.  Let me hear your ideas!


Long, Sad Week

It has been a while since I have blogged.  I have been working on getting my blood sugar under control, and it is finally there!

We have had a difficult week at work, even though we actually only went 2 days.  We were out for President's Day on Monday, snow day on Tuesday, 2 hour delay on Wednesday, in Thursday, and snow day on Friday.  During this time, we lost one of our fifth graders.  He had a brain aneurysm on Tuesday, and he passed away on Wednesday.  We had to talk with all of our students about this on Thursday and had tons of counselors in our building.  I cannot imagine what his family is going through.  It is difficult on all of us, even though he was not on our team.  

We have another fifth grader who got a serious sinus infection and has had 3 surgeries because it was causing swelling of his brain.  He is in intensive care, and we are praying for his recovery!

I have been teaching for 24 years, and during that time I never had to talk to my students about the death of a classmate or anyone else.  I have had to have a talk with them twice this year about a death at our school.  Our art teacher died in September.....that was EXTREMELY difficult on the kids. They loved her and loved going to her class each week.

I hope all of you have had a better year than ours.  It has been difficult, but it is easier to endure with the wonderful people I work with.  It is nice to have a work family that you love!


The Week Before Christmas Break

We are having a great week before break.  We are doing EVERYTHING GRINCH!  The kids are having a blast while reviewing needed skills.  They wrote a prequel for the Grinch, and they turned out FANTASTIC!!!  They really put a lot of thought into them.  Today, I had them write from the point of view of one of the Whos in Whoville, and they were very creative!  We have worked on characterization and how a character changes.  Great book to teach that lesson again!  We have also worked on theme.....and it seemed to really make sense to them.  Theme is such a hard concept for them to grasp.  We are working on figurative language and cause and effect tomorrow, and on Thursday we are working on plot and summary.  This unit has really kept them engaged, but has been a fun Christmas activity for them.  I will definitely do this one again next year.  What are you all working on before break?



I am having a sale in my TPT store on Monday and Tuesday, December 1st and 2nd.  All my products will be 20% off.  Come check it out!

I am working on some new products.  I have taken some time off from working with the way this school year started, but I am back to working and hope to have some new products uploaded soon.  

I have really enjoyed having this week off from work!  I feel like I got so much accomplished, plus....MY CHRISTMAS DECORATIONS ARE DONE!!  YEA!!!  We only have 3 more weeks of school before we are out for 2 weeks for Christmas.  WOW!  This year has flown by....we are almost half way done!  The next 3 weeks are going to be busy.

I am between units right now, so I am planning on doing some fun Christmas/Winter activities with my students.  It will give them a break from our units, but will still allow me to work on needed skills.  I am excited about that!  I am doing some fun activities with some of my favorite Christmas picture books in Reading, and I am doing a poetry unit in Writing.  I am going to have time to review some much needed skills such as theme, figurative language, and character traits.

When does your winter break begin?  What fun activities are you doing....I would love to hear about them!!


MIA For a Month.....or more...

Wow!  What a start to a school year!!  Things have been really crazy around here!  We have so many new things we are implementing this year, it is hard to keep up with it all.  I think I have finally gotten things under control.  I have really missed blogging....but something had to move to the side, and this was what got pushed out of the way!

I am currently reading and implementing the book, Notebook Know-How:  Strategies for the Writer's Notebook by Aimee Buckner.  I have been using many of the ideas for several years now, but I am digging deeper.  This week I am working on Leads.  I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE her ideas.  On Monday, we made an anchor chart of great leads for fiction.  The kids read the first line of self-selected books, and wrote the leads that jumped out at them on a sticky note.  We added them to our chart.  On Tuesday, we did the same thing for nonfiction leads.  The kids were pretty picky about what grabbed their attention and what didn't!  Today, we spent the day writing leads for a given topic.  The topic was Chocolate.  They had to decide if they would write an informational article or a fictional essay using this topic.  We then used the Try Ten in our writer's notebooks.  They were AMAZING!

Leads seem to be really hard for this age.  They want to use the, "Do you about.....?  Well, I do."  opener!  UGH!!  That drives me CRAZY!!!  They use either that or My name is.... and I am going to tell you about....AAAAAHHHHH!!!!  I am having them focus only on leads....they are not actually writing the story to go with it at this point.  I am hoping this helps and transfers to our next writing piece.  They will have a self-created reference page to use on our next I am hopeful!

We are working on Poetry in Reading, so for the next two days, I am doing poetry in writing as well.  I am going to try the Pass The Poem activity from the book.  I am anxious to see how it works out.

What new things are you all trying in your classroom this year?  I would love to hear some new ideas.  I have always said that if I ever get to the point that I don't want to try something new, I don't need to be teaching SHARE AWAY!!


Wild Ride

What a crazy start to the year!  I have been so out of pocket, it is not even funny.  I have been sick, as I talked about in an earlier post, but did not mention that while I was sick, I also found out that my blood sugar is averaging about 300 as opposed to being 100 which is normal.  That really threw me for a loop!  So, I have cut all carbs, except for those naturally occurring in veggies and meat.  My sugar is running pretty near normal now, so that's great!  But, because my sugar has been so high, I am sick AGAIN!!  This time, I have a sinus infection, so I am back on antibiotics, AGAIN!  I am starting to feel better, though.  I am getting back into the swing of things, and I actually finished my latest product today.  WOOO HOOO!!!!  This product is on Text Structure.  I had fun working on this one, though it was trying at times.  Here is a sample:

This seems to be a hard concept for my kiddos to grasp, so I am hoping that the posters and activities are going to help this year.  Some of the other posters that I have done seem to really be helping.  I think the colorfulness (is that even a word?  HA!) helps remind students to use them as opposed to regular anchor charts which I have used in the past.  I still use anchor charts, but not for some of the things that I used to use them for.  I have many of the posters on my walls, but I have also made another set for my mini-chart stand.  I am able to use them in small groups, and that really helps.  I hope your year has not gotten off to a rocky start like mine!  I hope you all are having a great year!  


Getting My Groove

I finally feel like I am getting my groove back!  Being sick the second week with kids tends to send me backwards.  I feel like I have been trying to play catch-up.....and I am CAUGHT UP!!  I have grades entered in our new....FREE, BUT NOT USER grade book.  I have lesson plans done and copies made!  I ALSO have completed my latest TPT product....Text Features. I am glad to have this one complete.

I have been working on this one on and off for a month between starting school and being sick. It changed several times as I was working on it, but I am happy with how it turned out.  I am close to finishing my next one.  I am finally getting a schedule of working on school things, TPT things, and blogging.  I have been focusing most of my time on getting back to work.  We have MANY changes this year, and it took a while to acclimate to them.  We are required to do lesson plans online this year.  Since I am a 2 man team, I have 3 subjects to do each week.  The format of the document makes it take longer than normal, so that has been a pain.  But we do what we are required to do, right?  I hope your year is off to a wonderful start.  I would love to hear about it!     


Sick Bug Already Hitting

UGH!  It is only our second week with kids and the sick bug has already hit!  We have had kids sick to their stomachs, coughing and sneezing with bad headaches, and missing school for sickness!  It seems a little early this year.  The bug has hit me, too!  I had to be out yesterday and today with a viral infection and running a fever, as well as having bacterial bronchitis!  I hate missing class, but it is especially hard at the beginning of the year when you are trying to establish routines and get procedures in place.  We have worked hard getting our classes to learn and follow these routines and procedures, and I fear that I will have to do some "reteaching" when I get back on Tuesday.

It is really hard getting sub plans together this early in the year.  I am still in the process of testing my kids to see what level they are on in reading.  It is hard to find easy yet challenging material that all the students will be able to do without me. At least it is Friday, and we are out for the next 3 days, so hopefully I will be back in the game on Tuesday!  How is your year going so far?  Are you all seeing this sickness filtering through your classrooms as well?  I hope not!  It is not fun! 


First Week Acomplished

Yeah....that's me....but not just after the first day....ALL WEEK!!!

We completed our first week with kids, and what a week!  I have 28 fantastic students and it is going to be a great year.  The first day went very smoothly....until dismissal.  They did some road work near the high school....they put in a round about.  It was supposed to help with traffic flow....notice I said supposed?  Yeah....we were still waiting on buses at 4:00 that afternoon!  We were ALL exhausted!  The next day was a little faster, and they were actually all dismissed at the correct time today.  Here's hoping that next week goes as smoothly at dismissal as today did!  Some of my kids did not get home until almost 5:00 that first day!  Poor babies....I know they were wiped out!  
We pretty much have our routines, procedures, and rules down.  I was able to let them do some independent reading while I began testing.  We use the San Diego Quick Assessment and the W.R.A.P. (Writing and Reading Assessment Profile).  What do you all use?  I like doing the SDQA first to get a good starting place for testing using W.R.A.P.  I will begin assessing my students next week with W.R.A.P.
It has been a long but wonderful week....but I am ready for the weekend to rest and get ready for week 2!
How was your first week with kids?  I would love to hear about your week!


I'm Having a Sale!

Are you like me and missed out on some great deals at the Back to School Sale on TPT? is your chance to grab up those items!

Some of my items that will be on sale are my best seller Character Traits Study.

This unit includes 10 Posters, Student activities, Group activities, 2 assessments, Independent Reading organizers, Guided practice pages, character traits lists, and picture book lists. 

Another item that is a great deal is my Kind of Sentences study.

It includes posters, a game, independent practice, interactive notebook page, and assessment.
To go along with this, check out my Types of Sentences study.

All of my items are 20% off, so check out my store:

Are you having a sale?  I would love to know about it so I can check it out!


I'm Back

I have been absent for a little while trying to get everything up and running for heading back to work.  I officially went back to work on Monday, August 11th and let me tell you....WHAT A DAY!!!  Not only was it our first day back to work, it was Open House!  Now, I love Open House....but come on.....the first day back.....REALLY!!!  It made for a VERY long day....13 hours to be exact!!!  I have to say it was worth it though.  I have 27 students on my roll and 25 of them showed up!  This is my 24th Open House, and I have NEVER had that many......EVER!!!  I am super excited about this year!  It is going to be great, and I have some great kids!  Not only that, but I had a parent bring me the nicest surprise:

She handed this to me and said, "This is to get your year started."  It is filled with tissue, hand sanitizer, candles, candy, post it notes, paper clips, Lysol spray, Lysol wipes, foaming hand soap, and regular hand soap!  I can honestly say that this has NEVER happened before!  It blew me away.....and made those 13 hours all worth it!!!  Not only that, this student's grandmother is going to come once a week and run copies for me!  What a great start to a year!

I hope everyone is having a great year!  When do you all have your Open House? 


Only 2 Days Left

There are only 2 days left to enter our HUGE GIVEAWAY!  We have 7 prize packages from over 100 TPT stores and Etsy stores.  You can get extra entries by following blogs, TPT stores, FB pages, and by sharing our giveaway on your blog, FB, etc.  Hurry and check it out!  YOU REALLY DON'T WANT TO MISS THIS ONE!  You can enter here.  Here are the prize packages you can win:

There are some FANTASTIC prizes!!  Enter before time runs out!  I would LOVE for you to win!