Thursday, June 27, 2013

I've Moved!! (and some future plans)

Okay.  So, I know that I've been the least productive blogger on the planet during the last semester of school (and the first month of summer, but there was a reason for the summer thing... I'll share later), but that all is about to change!

First, some housekeeping.  I've moved.  Not actually - I have thoroughly enjoyed my first year in Alaska (I know!  It's already been a year!  Crazy!), and I plan to stay here for a while.  I've only moved in cyberspace.  I'm now [here], so please go there and follow me.  It will be a far more productive blog than this one has been - honest!  Especially since I've got some big plans for the rest of summer in preparation for the upcoming school year!  But this will be the last post made to this blog.  I will be deleting the blog soon...

Let's talk about those plans, shall we?

First, I'm almost finished with the first two of my summer classes.  I'm taking a multicultural class and an Alaska history class.  These are required by the state in order to apply for a professional license in Alaska, but they turned out to be quite interesting.  Maybe I'll enlighten you one of these days; not today.  Sorry.  (I've got to make this post quick because I still have some homework to do.  "Almost" was the key word in having those summer classes finished.)  When the coursework for these two classes is complete and before I begin a set of two professional development courses at the end of July, I will be doing some research into improving my reading/language arts instruction.  You should be here for that!  I plan to reread The Daily 5 by Gail Boushey & Joan Moser ("The Sisters") and read The CAFE Book, also by The Sisters.


In addition to these, I have all of Debbie Diller's books and most of Lucy Calkins books.  I've got some work by Fountas & Pinnell as well as some other random authors that I honestly have never heard of.  I'm also a big fan of Words Their Way (this links you to the fifth edition, although I have been working with the fourth edition for the last couple of years and don't plan to spend the money on the fifth... unless someone tells me that it has some awesome information that the fourth can't hold a candle to).  My next post (as soon as this blasted homework gets finished) will be about all of the great things that I've learned from some of these books.  I can't wait to share it with you!  Grab a copy of one (or all) of them, and join me back here in a couple of days.  I'd love to hear what other teachers have to say about the topics!

I have to admit... I have these big plans because I did a HORRIBLE job last year implementing proper reading/language arts instruction to my firsties.  (My principal wouldn't agree with me, but we all know that the principal doesn't see everything that goes on "behind the scenes" in a classroom.)  Anyway.  This is just the beginning... I plan to do a ton of work revamping my reading instruction AND my language arts (especially writing) instruction.  

Stick around.  It's going to be a fun ride!  Soon, I'll share with you some of the resources that I've purchased to start my research into a better writer's workshop.

Are you reading anything on this topic?  What are some titles that you have?

Now.  Back to that darn homework...

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Reading Strategies Poster Giveaway Winners!

A big "congratulations" (and a bigger "Thank You") goes out to the winners of my Reading Strategies Posters!

The winners are:

Michelle J.
Hilary Philpott-Gard
(Sorry, Michelle and Hilary, that I didn't link to your blog... I just couldn't for the life of me find them!  Apparently, I'm a little more computer ILliterate than I'd like to admit! Haha!)

You lovely ladies should check your email!

If you would like to have these posters for your own classroom, you can find them at my TPT store here.  All profits from the sale of this item (as well as any other item in my store from now until March 31) will be going toward a materials request made by my students through DonorsChoose.  You can view their request here.

Well, I'm pretty excited about this giveaway.  It was my first, and I'm looking forward to many more!  For now, though, I've got to get some work done or go to bed.  Either way, playing on the Internet is unfortunately not on the menu anymore tonight. :)

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Spelling Tests

In your school or district, is spelling a requirement?  Do you have a specific program that you are required to use?

Over the last week, I have heard several teachers from various districts say that they are required NOT to give spelling tests.  That begs the question then, are you even required to TEACH spelling?

In the last district that I worked in, no one cared about spelling.  The theory behind it was that it didn't need to be a focus since we have spell check on so many of our devices these days.  Besides, it was only worth 20% of the overall ELA grade (grammar being the other 80%, and reading was a completely separate content on the report card).  I'll be honest, I eventually became guilty of the same thinking.  Then again, I became guilty of a lot of things at my last school - some of them that I would rather not admit to.  (It was a rough year last year.)

Anyway.  In my new district, there is an emphasis on spelling, but there is really no challenge with the program that is in place.  (We use the Houghton Mifflin Reading Series, and spelling in first grade doesn't begin until the second quarter according to HM... However, I'm required to give grades in spelling during the first quarter.)  I decided to go the route of a differentiated word study program with my first graders.  I would love to tell you all about it, but I am still working out the kinks in that one.  (Sad, I know, considering that we're already knee deep into the third quarter.)

Until I can get what my class does put into words, I am going to offer you [this little tidbit] (click it!) that I created a few weeks ago and FINALLY am satisfied with after a few changes to the format.  It's just the test format, but printing this for the kiddos sure does make grading their spelling tests easier!

So, tell me about your spelling program/instruction...

Oh, and don't forget about [my poster giveaway].  If you haven't entered the contest, [go now]!  Today is the last day!  (If you miss the giveaway, but still would like the posters, you can visit my [TPT store]!)

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Reading Strategies Poster Give-Away

Wow!  Things have been so crazy in my world lately!  It's been too long since my last blog post.  I've had to prioritize a lot, and unfortunately the blog didn't make it to the top of that list.  I was recently brought down out of the clouds when a teacher in my building came into my room at about 6:00 Thursday night with these words: "Carrie, go home.  You can't do it all."  My thoughts on that... In the words of Barney Stinson:  "Challenge accepted!"  Now, all I need is a really long piece of paper to write my to do list on. HAHA!!

Anyway.  In an effort to make things in my classroom more "kid-friendly," I created some reading strategies posters.  I plan to take them to Kinko's to enlarge them, but for now they'll do.

You can see the file at my TPT store - there is a preview file that includes all of the posters.

Now, for the give-away...

You can have the complete set of posters for FREE!  Yep, for free.  (I don't know a teacher out there that doesn't love free!)  There will be five winners, and they will be chosen on Monday, February 4.  The .pdf file of the posters will be emailed to the winners upon the closing of the contest, and the recipients will be announced on my blog.  Just complete these tasks for up to five contest entries:

Well, it's time for me to go enjoy some snow!  I'll be spending some time later in my classroom, but I've got to get these dogs outside before the sun goes down.  A 4:35pm sunset comes pretty early... Especially when the sun just came up a little before 10!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

O.M.G., it was NOT e.z.

So, have you ever had just one of those days?  My day started out like this:

Well, not exactly... These photos are about a month and a half old.  (They are from when I was super excited that I was FINALLY completely moved into my new classroom!)  I've done some rearranging, some purging, and some adding new stuff since then.

But needless to say, it was *clean*!!

Yeah.  Not anymore.

Today was just a terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad day!  (I think I'll use that one as our read-aloud tomorrow morning now that I think about it. Hmm...  There could be a good lesson to be pulled out of the end.  Something along the lines of how we can start fresh today since yesterday sucked so badly!  I'll work out the kinks in that lesson tonight. Ha!)

I don't know what side of the bed these kids woke up on today, but after lunch EVERYTHING just went downhill.  I honestly haven't felt this way since my first year teaching.  During our before-we-pack-up-to-go-home meeting today, we did some reflecting on our day... The kids were very receptive to our little discussion, but holy mother of days that I never want to repeat again in my life!

This is how my day ended:

And it's all still there... School ended 20 minutes ago. :(  I told the kids that I was so upset with today's overall behavior today that I didn't even want them to help me clean up.  I think that sealed the deal for them.  "Oh my gosh!  We must have messed up if she won't even let us clean up!" was the look on all of their faces.  Well, almost all of them.  There was that one kid who couldn't have cared less if I was lit on fire and burning to death.  But 17 out of 18 "I'm sorry" faces was better than I had hoped.

The worst part:  Two kids were absent today... one was my biggest trouble-maker.  I thought for sure that we were going to have less issues today.  It's funny how I actually missed him.  At least I know what to expect out of him all the time. Ha!Ha!

Here's to hoping that tomorrow actually IS a much better day!

How was your day?

Sunday, December 9, 2012

12 in '12 Linky

Well, here we are... almost to the end of 2012.  Time to think about all of the best parts of 2012 and hope for better things in 2013!  What better way to remember a few of my favorite things than to join in on this Linky party hosted by A Teeny Tiny Teacher and Miss Kindergarten?  I can't think of one. :)

So here are a few of my favorite things:

12.  Favorite movie you watched

I'm probably the worst movie-watcher on the planet!  Even when it's a movie that I like, I get distracted by anything (mostly my phone).  With that said, we recently moved.  We were without any kind of entertainment for WEEKS!!  No cable or Internet or phone service the entire time we were driving through Canada, so DVDs it was.  With all of the DVDs that I slept through sat through, I have to say that my most favorite movie this year was Wreck It Ralph, but that could just be that it was the most recent movie that I watched, therefore the only one that I remember. Ha!

11.  Favorite TV series 

This one has got to be Burn Notice.  Of course, it has changed since Season 1 (and I'm not really pleased with that), but I'm still obsessed with Michael Weston.  

10.  Favorite restaurant 

Since moving to Alaska, I think I'd have to say Boston's.  However, I have this app on my iPhone:  UrbanSpoon.  Armed with this app, I intend to include much more variety in my dining out experiences.

9.  Favorite new thing you tried 

As lame as this sounds, my favorite new thing is TeachersPayTeachers.  I have only recently gotten up the courage to create something to post, and I have to say that I was super excited to see that people liked my creations enough to download them!  Of course, I do have a ton of ideas for things that I still need to finish up and upload to my store, but all in due time.

8.  Favorite gift you got 

Oh. My. Gosh!! I love, love, LOVE my remote start!  It was put in my Pathfinder last weekend (my Christmas present from my other half this year), and let me tell you: a remote start makes -4 degrees SO much more manageable!!

7.  Favorite thing you pinned

Hmmm... Do I have to choose?  Let's see...  I'm a regular pinner, but I only have enough time to complete so many things at once.  Unfortunately, my pins aren't really high on the to-do list right now.  Anyway.  I just spent some time looking through my pins (and there are a ton) to find one in particular. I have no clue which board I pinned it to.  It was a really awesome idea for turning an ugly old coffee table into a fancy-pants dog bed!  It was pretty amazing, and I can't wait until I have some time to get it done... and until I can find a yard sale or something where I might find two identical coffee tables.  Can't have one dog bed fancier than the other. Ha!  Anyway.  In the spirit of the season, I like this pin a lot for some pretty easy DIY holiday decorations. (I'm cheap.  I like to DIMyself when I can.)

6.  Favorite blog post

Well, I've only been at this for a month, so I don't actually have a "favorite" right now.  If I had to choose, though, it would probably be "A Giant Headache and a Bit of Relief".  It was my first real attempt at sharing my work with teachers out there in cyberworld. :)

5.  Best accomplishment

I have to admit, I'm pretty excited about setting out on this blogging adventure and actually sticking to it!  I love that I can share my thoughts and my work with other teachers.  This brings PLCs to a whole different level!

4.  Favorite picture 

I have to admit, I have two.  I can't even tell you what makes these my favorite as far as the pictures themselves, but this was my first encounter with the "real" outdoors!  I was so excited to see the bears that I literally walked right up to them to take the pictures.  [I know, I know - stupid.  But I couldn't control myself!  When you're in the heat of the moment like this, it's like all common sense just goes out the window! Ha!]

I have to admit that this one comes in a close second because the mountains, lakes, and rivers on the way to Alaska were just amazing!

3.  Favorite memory

My favorite memory of 2012 is the 4,700ish-mile road trip between Fort Polk, Louisiana and Anchorage, Alaska (with a few stops in between, of course).  Although the trip itself was a nightmare (everything that could have gone wrong during a cross-continent move DID), it was probably the most fun I've had in a while.  Of course, I would love to only have to drive one vehicle on our next road trip so I could actually spend less time focusing on the driving and more time enjoying the trip.

2.  Goal for 2013 

I'm going to be better about exercising!  (I'm glad that this will be my goal for 2013... Right now, my motivation is nonexistent since the sun comes up and goes back down all in a matter of 4 hours. Haha!)

1.  One little word

I'm only human and can't actually do it all (at least, not while I'm not wearing my Super Girl cape)!  I will make it through this year - it's already almost over - and next year will be way easier! :)

So... If you're still reading this long-winded post, you should head on over to A Teeny Tiny Teacher or Miss Kindergarten and get in on this linky if you haven't already! :)

Saturday, December 8, 2012

The Miracles of Technology

I really do love all of the great finds that I've come across on TPT and other websites because it makes life in my classroom so much easier!  I also like that I can share my work with you all via this blog and my TPT Store.  I've also found a ton of things on my iPhone that have become quite useful in lesson planning and just filling time at random places throughout the day.

One of these amazing finds came from the App Store on my iPhone.  I was looking for an app to make Scholastic Book Clubs more convenient, and then Bam!  There it was...

Scholastic Classroom Ideas to Go!

I have decided, after playing with this app for the last week, that I absolutely love it!  I think I paid $0.99 for it, but a website that I found today says that it costs $1.99.  If I did only pay a dollar, I would have gladly paid two (and that's saying something because I'm cheap)!  The app is so organized and so easy to use.  I'm hooked!  Especially for themed and seasonal activities.

There are so many great lesson ideas available through this app.  You can filter your search by grade band, content area, and the type of activity that you're looking for.  I love the save feature because I typically browse the app at night while I'm laying in bed not sleeping (when, of course, I should be).  The search feature is pretty good, but I think you can only search based on the name of the activity rather than the skill.  I'm not sure, though, so don't quote me on that.  The app also has a "share" button so you can email the activity to whomever you'd like.  I typically just email the activities to myself at my school email address so I can remember to look at it when I'm actually in my classroom. Ha!  You can check out all of the details on this app at this website, this one, this one, and I'm sure a ton more.  They all say pretty much the same thing (and I'm paraphrasing here):  This. App. Is. Amazing!

I can't wait to see some of the other apps that Scholastic (and its affiliates) have to offer!  What technology resources have you stumbled upon lately?