September 1, 2014

September Currently!

I am linking up with Oh Boy 4th Grade for her monthly Currently linky party {this is my first!}. I've always wanted to participate but for some reason I couldn't get it up in time but today I can! So here's my currently...

Listening: The joys of Netflix and Hulu Plus is the fact that one could spend hours binge watching their favorite TV shows and for the hubs and I that's many hours of Law & Order: SVU. We can seriously watch this show all day...and we just might ;)

Loving: Today is my husband's birthday and I just love the heck out of that man. He's been my rock and I am reminded each day how much he means to me and I can't wait to celebrate with him tonight! Also...I can't forget to mention how in love I am with our newest member of the Daniel family...Murphy!

I mean, who can't love these two? I'm one lucky lady ;)

Thinking: Currently I am thinking about how the hubs and I can spend today celebrating him. He's not one for wanting to do very much especially since we have this big move coming up and Murphy just arrived. However, this man does so much for us {and me!} that I want him to feel appreciated, especially today! I think we'll do dinner at one of his favorite French restaurants tonight :)

Wanting: Something that I know I've written about A LOT lately is our big move across the country coming up in just a couple weeks. Moving is always so stressful and the fact that we're not just moving down the street is a lot for me. Especially considering this is the first time I'm moving away from my family. So, one thing that I'm wanting is for our packing and actual move to go as smoothly as possible...even with our puppy!

Needing: Iced. Coffee. At this point I'd be ok with an IV hooked up to me because there's something to be said about a nice cold iced coffee to get you through your morning....afternoon...or heck, even evening. Now, I know I have a problem and I hear that's the first step...however, I'm ok with my little addiction and I'm not ready to quit, haha. It's a necessity for me because I'm definitely not a morning person and this...

3 Trips: After our move we actually have some trips lined up...and I'm hoping the hubs will be able to get time off to come with me. First, it's our trip to CA then I know around Christmas we'd like to get back to Texas {where he's from and his family lives}. Each year we love getting back home to TX because it's just so relaxing to have family around and get to see his Goddaughter. And finally we will be headed back to the DC area next month for weddings. Lots of moving and needless to say I will be happy to stay put in one place for a little while :)

August 29, 2014

Five for Friday {Aug 29}

1. Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn

 This week I've finished reading Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn. After reading Gone Girl this summer during my honeymoon Gillian Flynn has quickly become one of my newest favorite authors. I quickly looked up her other novels to add to my Nook and after a recommendation from someone who commented on one of my previous posts I had to download her other books! Now that I've finished I'm beginning to read Dark Places, her second novel before Gone Girl.

If you have any other book recommendations please share! I'd love to download other books since I have a long trek across the country to California coming up!!

2. Hello, Pumpkin Spice Lattes!
This week an amazing thing happened....I was able to drink my very first PSL of the season! It was quite a joyous occasion since Starbucks has decided to release it early this year (I still don't know why). Although the PSL is as delicious as always there is something to be said to waiting a little longer for the season to change and it to get about 20 degrees cooler outside.

Pro of California: I can still order my PSL there
Con of California: No fall season (my favorite!)

3. Living Social + Melting Pot = Goodness
Living Social every once and a while has a much coveted deal that seems to sell out almost immediately and this week I was finally able to snag the deal {again!} for a two-course fondue dinner at The Melting Pot. I don't know what it is about that deal and how quickly it goes but I was very happy to treat my honey to some good food :)

If you haven't gotten yours yet be sure to check it out {here}

4. ALS Ice Bucket Challenge
So, this past week my best friend nominated me for the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge and of course I completed it within the 24 hours. I have to say that when I saw all the videos of my friends doing it, it didn't look that bad. I mean, it definitely looked cold and a bit uncomfortable but nonetheless do-able. Well, from someone who filled their bucket with (apparently a lot) of ice and water that challenge is no. freakin'. joke! I swore I was going to slap my husband for pouring it so slowly!

5. Puppy!
It's been a long few weeks but our gorgeous new mini daschund puppy arrives today and we are beyond excited!! I don't have any photos yet but please believe you'll be in puppy overload soon ;)

I hope everyone enj
oys their Friday and has a wonderful 3-day Labor Day weekend!!

August 28, 2014

BTS: Launching Guided Reading & a FREEBIE

Guided Reading is a vital and necessary portion of your language arts instruction no matter what grade you teach. It's a dedicated time for teachers to meet with the little readers in their classroom, which always span multiple reading levels. The purpose of this time is to model and instruct students on specific reading strategies and skills while giving students time to safely practice these skills and learn to become better readers.

One text that EVERY teacher should own or somehow get their hands on is Jan Richardson's The Next Step In Guided Reading as it is the current bible on guided reading instruction. If not every district, most districts use this textbook and teachers model their instruction after her practices. So if you are unfamiliar or have yet to read it, it's my #1 first recommendation. She does a great job explaining step-by-step how to implement each section and includes examples for Pre-A-Fluent reading levels.

The next step after familiarizing yourself with Jan Richardson is to begin organizing your binders and materials for your groups. At the beginning of the year you receive your class list and current independent reading levels based on assessments (typically DRAs) from the spring the year prior. Use that data to help begin setting up your groups or dedicate some time at the beginning of the year to assess your students as they are at the beginning of the school year. Every teacher is different so find what works for you and what your school district requires.

I typically like to have about 5 or 6 groups made up of no more than 6 students per group. More than 5 even can begin to be too much of a hassle, but again, go with what is comfortable for you and accommodates your class. Give your groups a theme! I used Dr. Seuss characters when I was teaching kindergarten and it stuck even in second grade. I used these characters to create my reading center board and listed the students in each group so they always knew what group they were in and what centers they'd be doing that day. You can kinda see the poster I made on the bulletin board near the table.

{sorry for the old picture!}
Setting up your reading table is another organizational hurdle you're going to have to jump. My guided reading area consists of:
1. kidney table
2. student chairs
3. plush rolley chair 
(your buns will thank you!)
4. magazine holders for each group
5. caddy or plastic drawers 
with guided reading materials
6. strategy posters and room 
for anchor charts

This photo depicts what my classroom looked like at the beginning of last year. Of course, things changed and I moved things around once the students arrive...but always be open to adapting and changing your environment to fit your and your students' needs!

Assessments are another necessary evil and can be quite overwhelming, at least I thought when I was in my first year teaching. Your assessments, whether they're anecdotal notes or running records and DRAs, they're all wonderful data points that all teachers need to collect throughout the year. There are a million different ways to collect and record your data so this is another time where I recommend you find what's comfortable and will work for you.

I keep two binders for my guided reading table. First is my main binder where I have dividers labeled with each of my groups, lesson plan copies for that group and day, and multiple pages for anecdotal notes and assessments. This helps me keep everything together and easily accessible. However, it would be a recommendation to keep all assessments in it's own binder so you have all your data in one place for each child. Just a thought ;)

My second binder is my lesson plan binder. Here, I keep all copies of my lesson plans for each book at different levels for throughout the year. I write a basic template that will never change (such as the introduction of the book, vocab words, etc.). That way I all I have to do is make copies of that original and input the info for a specific lesson for that day, for that group, and with that particular focus. It helps me save time so I don't have to constantly write out the same lesson over and over again. Plus it's a way to save all your lessons and use them again in the next years.

Lesson Plans:
So how do you plan for your groups? Well, thanks to Jan Richardson she provides you with the template for each reading level: Pre-A & Emergent, Early, Transitional, and Fluent. These lesson plans will carry you throughout the year as your students continue to make progress and move up in their reading levels. Allllso lucky for you I have taken all of her plans and put them in easy to use templates that I have used every year. Here are the previews:

Breathe and remember to have fun with your lessons! After all, that's why we're teachers! Be rest assured that all of your students WILL make progress and even if it's your first or thirtieth year teaching, there's always going to be ways to improve. Don't fret when lessons don't go exactly the way you planned it...just remember...

{Pick up my Guided Reading Resource Pack FREEBIE
that was featured in this post here!}

August 23, 2014

Baby Got Class!

I'm not sure if you've heard of this fun family who did a hilarious video about their 'Christmas Jammies' but I fell in love with them immediately. they are again with their Baby Got Class video for back to school. I don't have kids yet but I can imagine the excitement parents feel once school starts again.

So, for all my teacher friends and families who have kids going back here you go!

August 22, 2014

Five for Friday {Aug 22nd}

What a week and it's Friday again! Be sure to link up your blog with Doodle Bugs Teaching and share your five randoms! Here's mine from this week!!

1. California Dreamin'
Number one this week is our recent news of moving to three weeks! OMG. See my post {here} about the full story, but it came as quite a shock, but a bittersweet one. My husband separated from the Air Force back in April and since then he had difficulty finding a job so you can imagine that after a few months of not working it starts to wear you down. I was also in a position where I was having trouble finding a teaching position anywhere so needless to say the both of us weren't anticipating our sudden unemployment. However, God pulls through and we BOTH get job offers within days of each other...but after a long discussion we concluded that him taking the job in California was the best decision for us. So, we're sad to say goodbye to my family and our dear friends here in the DC area but very excited at the same time for our new adventure.

I feel this way about my own stuff...haha

2. Story Elements Pack!

At the beginning of the year in second grade at my old school we would begin introducing and reviewing key story elements with the kids beginning with characters. After students became familiar with identifying the characters from a story we would then discuss how author's describe their characters using both inside and outside traits. We had a lot of fun using the story Charlie and the Chocolate Factory {all time favorite author AND loved reading every.single.year}. I would venture to say that ALL Roald Dahl stories do a fantastic job of engaging the students meanwhile making those character traits easy to spot.

Anyways, the product I'd like to share today is a pack that I made which includes all the important teaching materials for those story elements: character, setting, problem, solution, important events, and summaries. This pack also includes fun posters for your classroom and key vocabulary from the unit such as 'dialogue'. I also made fun companion handouts that can be used in your own lessons or even for centers.

Even'll be 20% off today only at my TpT shop!!

3. New Puppy Arriving!
Why would timing ever work out perfectly for us?!? It's become a joke at this point that timing for Philip and I haven't been the greatest, especially within the last few months, haha. But I'm SOOOOOOO excited to finally meet our little guy exactly one week from today!! We contacted a breeder before we knew we'd be moving so it'll be quite an interesting journey for us now that we'll have a new puppy joining us on our trek to California. But, nonetheless, we are very excited to become parents to this little fur ball :)

4. Becoming and Auntie {again!}
Some exciting news came from my brother this past week and not only are him and his wife moving back to her home state of Oklahoma BUT they're also expecting! It's still a bit early but I am beyond happy for them! It's crazy when you're siblings start having children themselves....I'm sorry, but my brothers and sisters to me will always be those teenagers in my mind from when I was just the 'annoying baby sister', haha. 

Another exciting thing about us moving too is that my sister, her husband, and my baby nephew also living in California so I'm very much looking forward to seeing them and getting to see my little nephew :)

5. Fogo de Chao
In celebration of my hubs getting his job (and a great one at that!) I wanted to take him out and treat him to a nice dinner where, not to mention, he could get his fill on every type of meat humanly possible (sorry for any vegetarians reading!). He's been before but I had never been myself and what the experience it was! I personally loved the salad bar choices but I can't get past the bacon wrapped filet mignon! Put anything wrapped in bacon in front of me and I'll eat it! It was just a nice evening spent with my love :)

On that note...

Have a wonderful weekend!!

August 21, 2014

As life would have it...

We all know that saying, "God works in mysterious ways...", well, He sure does! As much as I would like to always think that things happen for a reason and that although I may not always know the plan or be prepared for it, I have to be willing to accept that life happens, most of the time when we're not expecting it.

As life would have it, my husband and I are both blessed but of course these blessings sometimes come with decisions that have to be made and faith that everything will work out how it needs to. Just as I was offered a teaching job with Fairfax County Public Schools, commuting only 15 minutes from home, and having the sweetest and most supportive administration husband is offered a job that is too great of an opportunity to turn down. As blessed as we are to both have found work, especially after a difficult summer with both of us leaving our previous jobs (him the Air Force and me my last school), these jobs happen to be on two different coasts. 

Yesterday we got the fantastic news that my husband will be accepting a California. We spent about a week discussing both choices and he, of course being the amazing person he is, told me that he doesn't have to accept it because he knows how excited I was about my new school. I told him that although it would be very hard for me to turn it down it would be even harder for us to miss this opportunity. It's a great job, in a great location, with a great salary and benefits. Unfortunately a teacher's salary doesn't compare. However, it means a lot that he understands the position I'm put in and how this affects me. He's always said that he respects what teachers do a million times more because he knows now what goes into it - seeing me day in and out busting my butt! 

At the end of the day we are both very excited to begin this new adventure- especially the drive across the country. But, in the same breath it'll be something very new for me as I've never lived away from Northern Virginia let alone another state. It's all so new, exciting, scary, and all these other emotions. I know we're going to have a great time and it just adds to our life experiences together.

Like before, I may not be in the classroom this year but I plan to continue blogging and sharing ideas and activities that may benefit those teaching this year :) I also want to say THANK YOU to all of my blogger friends and supporters as you've been so kind since I started this little blog. I look forward to continuing to share my adventures with you all...and like always, keep your eyes and hearts open...ALWAYS as God does indeed work in mysterious ways.

August 19, 2014

Teachers Pay Teachers Sale!

TpT always has fabulous back to school sales and they're doing it again! Due to the success of their BTS sale earlier this month they're hosting yet ANOTHER sale...but it's only during August 20th only! My store will be participating with 20% off my ENTIRE STORE! So, if you didn't get your shopping on the first time you'll have another chance tomorrow!