What We're Reading Sunday

Sunday, October 18, 2015 No comments
Thank you checking out our (almost) weekly post, What We're Reading Sunday!

Keeping it real, friends. Want to know what I've been reading? Family Fun, All You, and Time. I have been in the mood for short and satisfying reads and I love it! I haven't had the time to commit to a long read and that's ok. I even told my class about it! I've stumbled upon a Halloween craft, a recipe that I saved but will likely never prepare, and a bed and breakfast in Savannah that I truly hope to visit one day! That is some mighty fine reading! 

As for T, we are reading a book in the Magic Bone series together. It is cracking him up and that makes his reader heart happy.
He is all about this Sports Illustrated Kids Puzzle book, too. He loves a good challenge!
He is also still obsessed with Who Would Win books and I don't blame him. I learn something new every time I read one! 
Baby M is reading whatever T reads. He sits and grabs the book, gnaws the edges, and hits T's knees. It is pretty sweet. 

What are YOU reading?

Franken Freebie!

Tuesday, October 13, 2015 No comments
I'm guest posting on The Primary Peach today! Come see and be sure to enter the $50 giveaway AND grab some awesome freebies!!
Happy almost Hump Day!

What We're Reading Sunday

Sunday, October 11, 2015 1 comment
Thank you for checking out our (almost) weekly post, What We're Reading Sunday!

Of all the teacher books I have read in the last, I'm going to say year, this one is the one I recommend most. In fact, I'm going to put it all out there and say that if you teach reading K-5, you should get this book. Right now. Like, don't wait. Meet The Reading Strategies Book Jennifer Serravallo.
I sat down to write out my lesson plans for small groups and felt so empowered flipping through the pages of the book. There are 3 chapters just on informational reading and the layout is the most teacher friendly I have EVER seen. It has everything you need to plan groups and even whole group lessons as needed. If the Units of Study are your body, you need this book as your legs! 

This book was written for me. It was written for teachers by someone who gets us-Jennifer Serravallo. I love her other books, too (see below) but this one is hands down my favorite. Maybe it is because this is filling a current void for me. Maybe it is the easy to use format. Maybe it is because I can use this book for years to come, no matter what grade I'm teaching! 
Come friends, see for yourself....
 Each section has strategy, genres, levels it is appropriate for, teacher language, and a visual. There are also tips, too. 
You can't borrow this one. You can't share it with your teacher bestie. You need your own. I just told a friend that she must buy it for her new teacher daughter.  We need this book. Our kids, our readers, need us to have this book. Our visual teacher brains need this book!

If you do pick up this $40ish treasure (worth every penny,) let me know what you think!

Substitute Bad Words

Friday, October 9, 2015 No comments
I am not a potty mouth. On occasion I might drop a naughty word or two, especially when I am a little fired up, but in general, I lean on the conservative side of foul language. 

There was this one time though, when T asked what a certain word meant I almost spit out my imaginary drink. Not knowing what to say, I went with the traditional, "where did you hear that word?" In my head, I was repeating over and over "please say Daddy, please say Daddy." He did not say that though. He said, "When we were driving the other day on that road with all the cars, that big truck came in front of you and you slammed on breaks and said, 'what the $#%^!' Then you pulled over and checked on me but I was fine." 
First of all, no parent wants to hear their child say that word. Second of all, no mommy wants to hear they are the background knowledge for such words. Third of all, well, it is what it is. (Pretty sure I need that on a shirt!) We had a talk about word choice, not the 6 Traits kind, and moved on with our lives.

After all these years of priding myself on saying things like, "Oh spaghettios!" or one I stole from my friend Aimee, "Frickity, frack!" Then there's "ding dang diggy" and my all time favorite, "banana yogurt!" Try saying that last one in a really aggravated tone. It is healing, I tell you. All for not, I learned though, all for not. They catch them all. Kids have little microphones with recording devices in their heads. The setting is set to "things you shouldn't hear" and the files are saved accordingly. 

This ended up being a great conversation with other friends who shared their substitute bad words, too. Some say oh ship! Others say things like what the frog and one clever friend says FOGGGG  on days that aren't so foggy. 

Do you have a substitute bad word? Come on, tell us, we won't record it and hold it against you later, I promise!

Disney's Good Dinosaur FREEBIES!

Monday, September 28, 2015 No comments
Disney Pixar's latest creation is The Good Dinosaur. It's not just another dinosaur movie though.....
If you have a little dinosaur lover, check out these freebies to print! Click the pictures to download!

Maybe I'll see you November 25th at the theater! 

Hotel Transylvania 2 Review!

Saturday, September 26, 2015 1 comment
We were lucky enough to preview this film in exchange for a review. All opinions are my own, as always!

When the first Hotel Transylvania came out, I was a little nervous. I wasn't so sure about the creepiness level. T was so excited though. We saw it at the theater and fell in love. The cast is AMAZING and I felt like they brought the movie to life! There was creepy too, but beyond the creepy was a love story-the young, forbidden love story and the story of father, daughter love. Needless to say, we have been anxiously awaiting Hotel Transylvania 2

Have you seen the trailer?

We went to a preview last weekend and were not disappointed! All of our favorites were in the sequel-Drac, Jonathon, Mavis, Frank, Invisible Man, and so on. The new arrival, Dennis, is the adorable vampire/human baby belonging to Mavis and Jonathon. He's just as cute as cute can be and he is what this movie is all about!
Dennis' fangs have not come in yet, so it is unclear whether he is a vampire or not. So should his parents pack up and move to sunny California where he can be more "normal?" AH! Just the thought of that throws Drac over the edge! You'll have to watch to see what happens, but I think you will like it! 
bleh, bleh, bleh!!
Five and up is the way to go with this one, though there were younger ones in the theater. T said he really liked Hotel Transylvania 2, but still not as much as the first one. I think I have to agree. 

Click here to follow HotelT2 on Instagram! It's in theaters this weekend, so go see it and let me know what you think!

The Primary Peach

Thursday, September 17, 2015 No comments
Hi guys! I'm guest blogging on The Primary Peach today with a sneak peek into my classroom. Check out my post, but then be sure to check out the other posts starring creative and beautiful classrooms across Georgia! 
Here is a sneak peek just for you!

What is your favorite part of YOUR classroom?

Susie Homemaker

Monday, September 7, 2015 2 comments
I was in need of a laugh last week and took a minute to relax and think through some of my all time most laughable moments. There have been many, but this one is a classic.

N and I had married maybe a couple of years. I came home from school tired and maybe even a little grumpy. Comfort food was on the menu so I decided to go with spaghetti. I ground the beef, boiled the noodles, and opened the cabinet to grab some sauce. Much to my surprise, there was no sauce. Ugh! I was too tired to go to the store. Then I remembered what I had seen on the Food Network over the weekend! Duh! I'll just make the sauce!

Ina Garten had made a delicious sauce and I was pretty sure I had all of the ingredients! I poured in the tomato sauce, worcestershire (googled the spelling of that!) a little brown sugar, a whole bunch of other stuff, and some spices....mmmm! The kitchen smelled delicious! It also smelled sweet, but who I am to judge Ina!?!

I was so excited and proud of myself! I could not wait to share this homemade sauce with my husband! I dipped a spoon into the pot and prepared for the taste of Italy! As the first drop hit my tastebuds, I was taken back to watching Ina and suddenly remembered she was not making spaghetti sauce. She was making barbecue sauce. Ah, that's right friends, we had BBQ spaghetti and I don't, I repeat don't recommend it. My apologies to Ina, and my sweet husband.

Any food mishaps in your past? 

Books and Memories

Friday, August 7, 2015 No comments
The last time we went home (home is Mobile,) we took like 12 suitcases, 6 reusable totes full of stuff, and 3 books. That's what traveling with a 6 year old and 6 month old looks like! 

Among those 3 books were an Elephant and Piggie, a World Record book, and this one.

A student in my class had given it to me at my school baby shower. I loved it immediately and knew I wanted my family to record themselves reading so M could hear their voices and keep them in his heart. 
On our last day, we met at Hardee's for a good ol' fashioned biscuit and everyone read a page-Oba, Pops, Peeper, A, T, Daddy, and me. It was kind of like herding cats to make it happen, but we did it! 

As soon as we arrived back home (home is Georgia,) I went to the bookshelf in T's room to find his book. We made one when he was a baby, too. I was climbing the bed thinking that the batteries were probably dead or maybe it was lost when the pipes froze. It wasn't pretty. You know that feeling when you are looking for something so special and instantly, even when you really haven't even looked yet, you feel like you won't find it and you start to panic? That's where I was. Panic! 30 seconds later, I pulled it off the shelf. 

I wiped my hand across the cover. I held it close to me. I sat on his bed and just looked at it. Then I turned straight to the Hickory Dickory Dock page. 
Tears, oh the tears. It was like finding a hidden treasure. The times I've thought to myself, if I could just hear her voice one more time. There it was. It will be there forever. It is there for T and M and me and Peeper and A. This is my pot of gold. This is my sunshine on a cloudy day. This is my Granny. Next month will be a year since she passed. It blows my mind that we can still have her tell us a bedtime story. 

So Hallmark, inventor of these books, thank you. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Engaging First Graders in Social Studies

Wednesday, July 29, 2015 No comments
I'm so excited to be sharing engaging social studies ideas with first grade teachers in my county tomorrow

Click the pictures below to download two of the activities I'll be sharing! I'll post details and slides soon.....eyes closing as I type! 

and the links....

Happy, happy Wednesday!

Back To School Bowling

Tuesday, July 28, 2015 2 comments
Today was my first official day of work for this school year. Our admin sent a very serious email telling us to be at school at 7:30. I was, of course, running about 3 minutes late so I was a little nervous! We arrived to bags with a pair of socks and a shirt that said, "This is how we roll." I should mention the shirt also had a bowling pen. Next thing you know, we were loading buses and heading to the bowling alley! 
While everyone was not exactly thrilled at first (only because they had so much to do,) that didn't last long! We met a neighboring school and had a blast! We had a yummy breakfast. We bowled and laughed and goofed off and took ridiculous pictures and didn't talk about school and, well you get the idea. Our already awesome team rekindled our love all over again. 

Our admin always plans something a little wacky-obstacle course, scavenger hunt, etc-but this was not just wacky, it was perfect. In fact, it was a perfect 10, a STRIKE if you will!

What a fantastic way to kickoff 2015-16! 

What We're Reading Sunday!

Sunday, July 19, 2015 No comments
Thank you for reading our (almost) weekly post-What We're Reading Sunday. 

T is reading a little something each day and just finished reading two gift books. These books are special because we received them in the mail a couple of weeks from my Aunt Abbie all the way from Texas. (We looked at that on the map, too!) Here I was thinking we had every brother book, but I was wrong! The books were such a nice surprise and T was thrilled to see Elephant and Piggie, too! He read both to M and almost finished them before M starting gnawing on the corners. :) 
I'm reading another professional read as part of a book study with some fab teachers from my school. 
Principles to Actions by NTCM authors describes and explains the eight essential teaching practices  needed for a high quality math education.  I would not call it a page turner, but it is an easy read. I'm learning and feeling validated and planning future questioning strategies in my head! Is it a must read? I'd say yes if you are not familiar with Common Core math standards and I say no if you are. In fact, I think maybe you should just spend time with your standards.

What are YOU reading?

ROCK Your First Year Teaching Linky!

Sunday, June 28, 2015 3 comments
I am thrilled to be partnering with Teaching with Curls and Crayons (fellow peachy pal) to host a linky all about supporting new teachers! We are presenting New Teacher Institute for our County and want to provide an amazing resource for these soon to be amazing educators! 

Thinking about my first year of teaching really took me back in time. I was teaching kindergarten in Mobile at a wonderful school. I was learning right along with my kids! I loved it! I kept a journal for part of my first year (it was hit or miss friends-the first year is all about survival!) That's where I came up with some of my advice!
There are a few I've learned along the way (that last one) but I think they are all pretty important.
1. No matter what the parent said, how badly the lesson bombed, how crooked your skirt was all day long--you must laugh it off. #truth
2. Plan with your team. Listen, take notes, make it your own--but plan with your team.
3. Share your own ideas! Don't be afraid to put yourself out there! Someone will appreciate it!
1. This is a biggy new teacher friends. You are new. Take it all in for a bit. Let the environment, your team, the setting and feel of the school wash over you. Not that you would or anything, but don't try to own the place on the first day. Seriously...not a good idea.
2. Don't be an island! A new school, new team, new job--AH! It is intimidating! Put yourself out there though! Introduce yourself to staff. Chat with the media specialist. Stop someone in the hallway and ask them a question. "Hey, I'm new here..." A friendship could be in the making!
I'm actually still a work in progress on this one! Give yourself a break. Data due? Back to back conferences? Have no idea what anyone is talking about during a staff meeting? Thinking about the 10,000 things you need to do between work and home? Give yourself a break. It is so easy to be really hard on ourselves. Stop and recharge. It will be ok! Walk away and breathe! Grab a Coke and smile. I even wrote it on my calendar this year in a fancy font, Give me a break Lyssa, give me a break.

I hope you will join our linky and share your great advice! If not, please leave your wisdom in a comment below! Let's introduce our new teachers to the blogger community with a bang! 

Thank you! Happy Summer!

Staples Designed By Students

Saturday, June 27, 2015 1 comment
Staples is the sponsor of this post. All opinions and all of the fun I had at The Ron Clark Academy are my own. :)

Who should you ask for help when designing supplies for kids? Staples figured that was easy and asked the kids! The results are pretty impressive!

Staples worked with two middle schools, one being The Ron Clark Academy right here in Atlanta and the other, MS88 in Brooklyn. Students and teachers were presented a curriculum encouraging creative thinking, design, problem solving, and so much more. They were asked to design items for students to REALLY sell in stores. They made prototypes, adapted as needed, figured costs, etc. They more than met this challenge! Students were invested in this year long projects because it was relevant. I love that! What an amazing partnership! Staples spoke highly of the students and teachers (which was awesome) AND donated $50,000 to each of the schools. 
"Our students' collaboration with Staples has been one of the most innovative and engaging projects I have seen during my time in education" said Ron Clark, co-founder of The Ron Clark Academy. "By listening to the opinions and needs of our youth, Staples has been able to create products that speak to the desires and tastes of the new generation; and therefore, as always Staples is completely in tune with the demands of the market."

So what did these student innovators design?
*The Big Pen~It's all in one writing device!
*Big Props Pencil Case~Holds your pencil and your tech!
*Super Folder~It's an all in one!
*Portable Desk~Cozy bottom, spot for headphones!
*Tray Desk~Even has a dry erase board!
*The Bag~It's a washable, silicon lunchbag. I'm buying this one!
*Accordion Bag~Backpack with file space-yes, please!
*Back2Back School Bag~More space, lighter, space for water bottle and tech!
*Floating Locker Shelves~Decorate, rearrange and look great doing it!

Head to Staples and see them for yourself!! Items go on sale June 28th AND teachers can submit their information to learn more about the program and other opportunities on Staples.com! Needless to say, I'll be signing up!

Hmmm....how would you redesign a needed school item? I'm thinking a coffee holder on my desk chair! Hear that Staples? :) :) :) 

The Special Dads in My Life

Sunday, June 21, 2015 No comments
Happy Father's Day!

my sweet husband, now father of TWO!
my loving dad
my father in law who we deeply miss

How I Messed Up Imaginary Play

Saturday, June 20, 2015 1 comment
We love using our imaginations around here. T had an imaginary friend for years and we actually miss that guy (and his siblings.) His name was Monjer and he had a brother named John Ponjer. He also had 9 other siblings who lived near and far. Monjer had special abilities and went everywhere we went. My favorite memories of Monjer were the car rides.  T would narrate their many adventures and my heart would smile. It was imaginative and creative and in what seemed like a blink, Monjer left. (He had to go to China, you understand.)

While Monjer has moved on, T's imagination stays strong. He runs a secret service agency now and I occasionally get to help on missions. The agency is top secret by the way. Just yesterday we were rescuing animals. I pushed the button to put on my gear and starting walking carefully around the ocean floor. I was feeling quite proud of my performance, even adding a few moves to show I was being careful around the coral. 

That's when T said, "Ok, good news, I see the blue whale (side eye and voice change) and I see you think we are walking on the moon and not on the ocean floor, that's ok though."

I lost it. I got so tickled and started laughing so hard and then he started laughing so hard. I explained my walk and my extra moves and he put his hand on my shoulder and said, "It's ok mommy. Let's just rescue that whale." 
I thought I had blown it. I thought that whale would never be rescued. I thought this was my last mission. But imagination won. T's imagination won. Just like that, we were back on track and that blue whale is safe and sound. 

Now, I really just hope I'll be invited on another mission.....maybe into space. :)

They Say Its Your Birthday!

Saturday, June 6, 2015 No comments
Today is my birthday! Woo hoo! I'm one of those people who enjoys a good birthday. I like receiving cards in the mail (which I never open until the actual day) and the always sweet handmade card T creates. I like birthday lunch and a sweet birthday treat, too. I guess you could say I'm a birthday loving girl!
I haven't always been this way. In fact, my birthday used to be just a birthday. As I get older though and began that slow climb to 40, I find myself getting a little fiesty. Maybe it's the old age talking, but I feel like I'm rocking my late 30's! 

At the conference I attended last week, I sat with a group of young, young, young teachers. They were a fun group. One of them asked me how long I had been teaching and there was a loud gasp. "Wow! I don't know if I'll make it that long." They had between 1-3 years experience and none were over 25. That's right, 25 years old. That's when I let out a loud internal gasp! 

It made me think about being 25. I loved 25. I was dating N. I was teaching kindergarten. I was goofing off, hanging out, traveling. Then I thought about 30. I had gotten married. I was teaching first grade. We'd bought a home in Atlanta. We traveled. Then I thought about 35. I had become a mommy. We packed up our little guy and kept on traveling.  Here I am looking at 38. I have an almost first grader and super cute 4 month old. I'm teaching and still loving it and we are packing our bags for California. 

That walk down memory lane should have made me feel old. I've been alive a long time....like 3 decades and quite a few singles. It didn't make me sad though. It made me happy. On birthdays, happy should always outweigh the sad, good should always win over evil, cake should be full of sugar and void of calories, and old should be thought of as the new young!

Brain Fried (in a good way!)

Friday, June 5, 2015 No comments
I have spent the last week in some very intense training--like really, really intense. My brain is fried. It's mush. It's cooked. It's baked with a side of potato!!! Brain=Done!

It has also been an amazing training. No, amazing is not the word. It has been a beneficial, necessary, where have you been all my life training. It has been an "I'm sorry former students, I just didn't know" training. It has been a validating training. It has been an overall thought provoking experience. 

I am a lover of words. I love to read them and write them and hear them and sometimes sing them. The training I attended is Orton Gillingham. Thanks to a local non-profit, REAP, myself and 30 or so other teachers received this training at no cost. Eek! That's big news because it is well, super expensive. So what is it?

Orton Gillingham (OG) is an approach to reading instruction that is language-based, multisensory (visual, auditory, kinesthetic,) structured, sequential, cumulative, cognitive and flexible. OG has proven to be quite effective with dyslexic students. It has also proven to be quite effective with not struggling students. It helps with reading and spelling and stresses the two be taught together. I love it. I just love it.

I'll be writing more about my experience soon, but would like to share at least one rule with you right this minute!
Yes, I knew how to spell these words before but I did not know why or why not. Now I do. Boom world! Boom!

Is there a word or spelling rule you are curious about? Leave it in a comment and I will absolutely NOT be able to explain it but I will find the answer in my binder and let you know!! Word Nerds Unite!

Summer Lovin' Wednesday

Wednesday, June 3, 2015 No comments

"Hey M, check out these ribbons from my first ever swim meet!" 

"Mmmm, yummy!"

Inside Out Printables

Monday, June 1, 2015 No comments
Today is the first day of June so that means only 18 more days until Disney Pixar's Inside Out hits theaters!! We can't wait!!! 

While I feel certain you've seen the previews, here is the trailer just in case!
T and I are really looking forward to seeing this movie and we already love the Joy, Sadness, and Anger characters! Not sure what that says about us!

If you are looking for something to pass the time until the big debut, here are some FREE printable activities! Click the pics to download!

I'm off to print a thing or two! Have a great week! 

What We're Reading Sunday

Sunday, May 31, 2015 1 comment
Thank you for reading our (almost weekly) series, What We're Reading Sunday! 

I'm feeling like Olaf friends! It's summerrrrrrrrr! 
Summer means even more reading than ever! Wait....I just remembered I have a 4 month old. Ha!! To maintain sanity, I will read! I.must.read. 
I've just finished Zero to Five by Tracy Cutchlow and by finished I mean read through the parts that are relevant to me right now. That's how the book is designed and I really like it. Tracy has taken all of this scientific data and made it super (tired) mom friendly. I'm currently spending a bit of time in the "Guard Your Sleep" section. No reason. :)

I'm also in love with the sections about reading with your child (fist bump Tracy) AND building a growth mindset (see page 58!) It's not just for babies either! The sections on behavior are enlightening, too! This book truly is a resource book!
Zero to Five also features a page from my friend and fellow LTYM cast member, Katherine Stone
The layout of the spiral book is easy. There are little color codes on the side letting you know which age groups the information is directed toward. It's like my phonics manual at school and I love it. This book has moved to the top of "get this for new mommies" list. It's right up there with What To Read When by Pam Allyn. 

I've put Brain Rules for Babies on hold for a minute because I have a <GASP> required reading. I'm part of our County's Leadership team and we've been asked to read Student Voice by Russell Quaglia and Michael Corso. I generally do not get too excited about required readings (who does?) but I have a lot of hope for this one since it is something I am so passion about-listening to our students. I'll let you know! 
Now what about T? Here's what is on his list!
See a theme here? I'm thinking N and I should buy stock in National Geographic! 

As for M, he is reading eating a few board book favorites including this one
Now for the BIG question! What are you reading?


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