Friday, April 26, 2013

Five for Friday:April 20-something

I can’t remember if it is the 25th or the 26th. It was that kind of week!


I love Hope King’s iPoetry set! I used some new clip art and our fancy giant printer to create a sign. We are still adding to out Poetry Playlists, but I couldn’t wait to put them up in the hallway!


I used my same clip art to create patterns for iPads and iPods. We paired with a former student teacher of mine-turned 4th grade teacher down the hall for the Earth Day Door Decorating Contest.

I’d planned to put a couple of empty soda cans at the top, but I couldn’t find any.
We had fun with it!

This is the poster we made for my student teacher on her last day.


We also made books for her. The first was teaching tips and a little message and picture. The second was a book of “Me Poems” they wrote about Ms. Smith.

I have books like these from my own student teaching days. They are treasures!

On an almost non-school related note, I am so excited to get my haircut in the morning! I am having a lesson taped next week. The thought of watching back the tape with my hair the way it is was too much for me! I’m just getting a trim, but I am really looking forward to it.
Enjoy your weekend!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Kindness from Strangers

I mentioned on Facebook earlier this week that my neighbor saved us $600 this weekend. I’d planned a different post for the Peace, Hope, Love, and Kindness Linky, but Jessica suggested this story and I can’t argue!

(I don’t have time to post today, but I can’t grade papers in the dark and I’m waiting for my daughter to fall asleep!)

Saturday morning I presented at a conference for pre-service teachers. In the middle of the first of three presentations I was doing I looked down at my phone. I saw ten text messages from my husband. I scanned the screen and the words “two inches of water” jumped out at me.

It was the water heater. We live in a two bedroom townhouse. We have no garage or attic. The closet under the stairs is our only real storage. It hold everything. Including the water heater.

My husband got everything out and managed to turn off the water and dry most of the water. When I got home we continued to try to clean up and started pricing water heaters.

We spent almost 24 hours waiting for a call back from one of the big home improvement stores. They wanted $1,000 to replace the water heater and said it would be Monday or Tuesday before they could have someone come for installation. We were so frustrated. Our AC needs to be replaced. We are still waiting for the hospital bills to come from my son’s 8-day pneumonia stay. It was a very expensive month.

The Irishman was on his way to the dump with some of the things ruined in the closet when our next door neighbor stopped him. We talk to the guy occasionally, but we weren’t even 100% sure of his name. He heard how much we were quoted for the water heater and he was appalled.

He said he and his buddy could do it for us in a couple of hours. They even drove my husband to the store to buy it because our car was too small to fit it. We learned his name and that he is an assistant principal at a local elementary school. His buddy is a high school teacher.

They had the whole thing done (including a second trip to the store to replace a part) and swapped out the outlet and all the lines in about two and a half hours.

The total cost? $400.

The man saved us $600 and two days of cold showers.  I was embarrassed on Tuesday evening when he stopped by to check to see if it was working okay. We have bought a couple of nice bottles of a nice manly liquor and gift cards that we will deliver this weekend as a thank you.

After a rough week, it was a wonderful act of kindness that means a lot!

Be sure to check out the other stories of Peace, Hope, Love, and Kindness!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Teachers for Boston

The last two weeks have chewed me up and spit me out. I am exhausted! I have an awesome Tech Tuesday planned. I have a review of the best pencil sharpener ever in the works.

However I also a pile of papers to grade. (I’m missing my student teacher already!) My formal observation is next week and there is going to be a camera crew present to film it and the pre/post observation conferences. That didn’t sound nearly as intimidating when I volunteered for this case study in the fall.

Right now I am sitting in a dark room waiting on a certain three-year-old little girl who should have been asleep an hour ago.

So, what I do have for you tonight is a link for a great opportunity to contribute to the One Fund to help the victims of the Boston Marathon bombing.

Teachers for Boston

There are a number of teachers who have donated their products. There is one pack of products for grades k-2.

Teachers for Boston K-2

There is also a pack products geared towards grades 3-6.

Teachers for Boston 3-6

Each pack is worth over $150 and is available for a $20 donation. I have donated two of my products. I tried to pick things that would work for the widest audience, so my “Who am I” and “Time is Golden” are in both packs.

Be sure to check it out!

Friday, April 19, 2013

Friday for Friday: April 19th

I managed not to blog at all this week. Between what was going on in the world, testing, and late nights working on projects, it was not top priority.

I happy to be linking up again, though!



My maternal grandmother passed away several years ago. Grandma Jo loved her shoes. I happen to wear the same size, so I acquired a few of her favorite pairs. These particular shoes are extremely comfortable. I always wear them for the first day of state testing or any other big days at work. There is something reassuring about wearing her shoes on days I feel like I need just a little extra comforting.



Speaking of testing, I had fun with my kids this morning. Yesterday was our last day of testing, but when the bell rang I met them at the door. I told them they needed to leave their bags in the hall and line up to enter the room. There were confused by the fact that I was requesting testing protocol on a non-testing day.

They lined up and entered the room. I’d spread the desks apart in testing position. I told them that they had one more test to take. They were confused and bordering on concern.

I started the script and they all started laughing. It was fantastic!



After testing this week we started Hope King’s iPoetry.


We’ve already read Love that Dog, so they were familiar with concrete/shape poems. It was the perfect activity for after testing.

This morning they wrote Sensory Poems that gave me goose bumps. I can’t wait to share the finished product!


I’ve taught Because of Winn Dixie for years. Last week I was looking on TpT and I came across Kathy’s Because of Winn Dixie Literature Resource Kit. After using her book clubs I decided to give it a try. I am SO glad I did. I love it!


I already had vocabulary lists and quizzes, so I decided to use an organizer from Jen Jones’ Vocabulary Rubrics,Templates & Graphs for Common Core Instruction to teach it. I love it!
I usually set up a folder with brads, but I copied these two resources into two stapled booklets instead. I printed the cover of an online activity guide in color and laminated two pocket folders to hold everything.

I’ve taught this for years, but I am excited to add these new twists!


My little guy was back at day care this week. My grandmother bought a little picnic table for the great grandkids a couple of weeks ago, but they had not been well enough to enjoy it.  Thursday afternoon she invited us to stop by for a snack after school.


My grandparents’ backyard is one of my favorite places in the world, so it was a nice Thursday afternoon treat!

Thank you so much for the kind e-mails. My son got a good report at the specialist, so it looks like we are all getting back to normal!


I am presenting at a conference for pre-service teachers tomorrow. I am preparing two presentations about using technology in the classroom that I will share on my blog next week. Though if I don’t get back to work now they may never get done…

Enjoy your weekend!

Friday, April 12, 2013

Five for Friday–April 12th

What a week! My student teacher had been teaching at 100% right up until spring break. I should have started taking over last week, but my son was in the hospital so I was not at school. It was fantastic to do some teaching again, but I am worn out! Thankfully it is Friday, so that means…


Now that I am taking back over from my student teacher, I’ve given her a few jobs. I’d read seen these newspaper seed cups and decided to have her try them out.


She ended up using them as part of her final observed lesson. Our flowers are planted, but I forgot to take a picture of that. Oops! Hopefully we will have something to show by Mother’s Day.


In preparation for our state test next week, we did a lot of math this week. I pulled out one of my favorite activities from Mailbox.


Centimeters are more fun with frog rulers!


In reading, we were working on reading strategies. I used these cards (a great freebie) and picked out the strategies that were most appropriate for third graders. I printed passages from and gave each pair of students a strategy card and a passage. They used post it notes and created a poster to show what it would look like to apply that strategy. Each group shared their strategy with the class.


My mom was going to send me her old beanie babies, but she couldn’t get to them in time. Maybe next year!
I was happy with how they came out and I saw a few light bulbs later in the week when they found opportunities to apply the strategies.


Speaking of testing, I came across this post this morning before school. It made my day! My class is going to eat doughnuts FCAT-style on Friday. After four days of testing I think they will get the joke!


Update on my son: The little guy has had a week of Daddy Day Care. The Irishman has been off for the week to care for him. He is doing much better! We see the pulmonary specialist next week. After 8 days in the hospital and a week of breathing treatments, it may be diaper rash that brings us to the pediatrician tomorrow. Go figure!


Enjoy your weekend!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Dealing with Test Anxiety

I grew up in Texas and remember taking standardized tests as far back as third grade. I was always a good test taker, and I didn’t really give it much thought.

About ten years ago I got my first job teaching third grade in Florida. I worked at a charter school, and I remember handing out a practice test early in the school year. I’ll never forget watching little girl put her head down her desk and just bawl as soon as I put the test on her desk.

This little girl knew about the mandatory retention in third grade. We hadn’t event talked about the test as a class yet, but the pressure from home was more than she could take. It was heart breaking.
I realized pretty quickly that I had to address the test anxiety. I’ve come up with an activity that I use with my kids each year.


I start by telling my kids that worry takes up room in their head. We talk about what it means to worry. I provide each student with a sheet of construction paper. They write on the paper any and all worries they may have about the test.

To get rid of these worries, we rip up the worry paper and turn it into the confetti. The confetti is bagged and put aside for later.

I tell my students that the confetti will be used for a confetti party after the test. For the party, I use tape to block off a square on the floor. The class sits around the edge of the square. I call a few students at a time to throw around the confetti in the square. Those on the edge have the job of putting any confetti that falls outside the designated area back in the square.

Last year we surprised the principal. We invited her to come in on the last day of school. She sat in the middle of the circle and we threw confetti at her. She loved it! (She also requested that this year I get a picture of that to share. She is a good sport!)


Tuesday morning I was late to school. My son was fighting his breathing treatment and I had to drop my daughter off at day care. On the way in we listened to a Dora CD from the library. Next thing I knew the song “Three Little Birds” came on. It was just what I needed to hear! I decided to play the song for my class as they wrote their worries later that day. It was a big hit!

Third grade is the first year for my kiddos to take the big state test. I’ve found this activity as a quick way to address their concerns and to celebrate their successes at the end of the year.

 I'm linking up with Joanne. Go check it out!

Monday, April 8, 2013

Made it Monday: Polka Dot Cabinet

I’ve wanted to link up for a Made it Monday for months now. With everything that happened last week, I am going to cheat. I’m going to finally post my Made it Monday from August. I’ve written this post in my head each month since then. Better late than never!

We have a practice in my school of putting furniture we no longer want in the hallway for others to claim before it is hauled off. It is nick-named the garage sale. While things show up throughout the year, the end-of-year and beginning-of-year garage sales are the best.

Last summer I came across this beauty.


It is a solid piece and is probably older than I am. The teacher who had it originally retired 5 years ago. I’d been on Pinterest though and I decided that this would be my big project.

This scrapbook paper was my inspiration in the classroom redecoration of 2012. I made my inexpensive seat sacks to match.


Armed with an idea, I took off the doors and started spray painting. Somehow I didn’t take any pictures of the painting process so you will have to take my word for it. I did a lot of spray painting last summer. This is a filing cabinet I also picked up in the hallway garage sale.


(More on the filing cabinet another time…)

I knew I was going to cover the cabinet doors with polka dots, so I didn’t worry about making them perfect. There were some spots where the years of paint and poster tape and who-knows-what left a bump. I just made sure to cover it up in step two.

When I came back from maternity leave last year I discovered that they’d purchased this machine I can only describe as an industrial sized Cricut or Silhouette. It is fantastic! You can cut out words, phrases, shapes, and more. I pulled out construction paper in the colors I wanted and cut out several hundred circles in all difference sizes. I love that thing!


A couple of layers of Mod Podge later and I was feeling good about the whole project! I had to get help putting the doors back on. They are solid wood and HEAVY.


I love the finished product. It now houses all my science materials and other assorted supplies. It is also the background for any pictures I take of my students.


Every once in a while I just stop and look at it. That cabinet makes me smile!


The only downside was the size. I’d measured the height before I took it in, but it was a bit of a “can’t get it here from there” situation. I had to change where I’d planned to put it, but after all that work I didn’t mind too much!


(This picture above is from the first day of school and shows those seat sacks I made from Home Depot aprons. I’ve also used the polka dot theme to paint paper boxes for storage. I’ve got a lot of polka dots going on this year!)

Hopefully next month I’ll have a new, non cheating Made it Monday!

Sunday, April 7, 2013

You and Me Fighting EB

I wanted to share information about a wonderful fundraiser that I am happy to be a part of right now.

Tamera at My Heart Belongs in First is holding a special fundraiser in honor of a little boy at her church who suffers from EB (Epidermolysis Bullosa). It is a very rare genetic condition in which the skin and internal body linings blister at the slightest knock or rub, causing painful, open wounds.

Tamara has gathered a group of bloggers to help the cause. For a small donation of $10, you will get over $85 worth of products!
To learn more, please visit My Heart Belongs in First. I hope that you will join me in helping. After spending a week in the pediatric ward of the hospital with my son I want to do anything I can to help a sick kid!

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Pass the Torch

Get Ready for Bloggy Olympics!!!

Photobucket Photobucket

Join The 3AM Teacher, the Reading Olympians, and over 80 SUPREME education bloggers as we take you through a tour of the Reading Olympians Root Study Program!!

I first came across Reading Olympians this summer while teaching summer school. I realized that I needed more resources for teaching prefixes and suffixes. My first stop was TpT, and I downloaded the Nike bookmarks. I also made a mental note to go back and look at the program another time.

When I saw this Linky, I remembered looking at it over the summer and was thrilled to sign up! I printed the entire packets right away and told my student teacher that we would set up folders and plan it out on the teacher work day after spring break.

If you’ve read my blog, you know that my son was hospitalized with pneumonia for the last 8 days. We were finally sent home today. Instead of planning with my student teacher on the work day, I was in the hospital with my sick toddler.

I was really disappointed not to teach these lessons. My student teacher was able to look at the packet I’d left on my desk and carry on without me. I pestered her with text messages while my son napped in the hospital, so she sent me some pictures, too.

I requested that they use purple folders to hold all their Reading Olympian materials because my old Latin book from high school was purple. Silly, I know.

Key Ring
I love the key rings and the graphic organizers. There are so many resources to reinforce the roots. The ESE teacher who works with my kids said they really knew the roots.

Prefixes, suffixes, and Greek/Latin roots are big in third grade common core. I love the way this program is organized. The focus is not on a list of words with the same prefix or suffix, but rather learning the meaning of the word part. The sets or units are chunked to make them manageable. 

I should be back at school on Monday and am looking forward to starting the next set with my class!

Discover the program IN ACTION in more K-6th grade classrooms as you Pass the Torch!! Get ideas, discover the progression of the program, and enter the Raffle for a chance to win ONE of the three prizes listed below!!

First Place Winner : Gold Medal

  Prizes: Complete Reading Olympians Program
            $50.00 Amazon Gift Card
            50% off Discount Code for a 1-Day shopping spree at The 3AM Teacher's Etsy store!

Second Place Winner: Silver Medal

   Prizes: $25.00 Amazon Gift Card
              40% off Discount Code for a 1-Day shopping spree at The 3AM Teacher's Etsy store!

Third Place Winner: Bronze Medal

    Prizes: 30% off Discount Code for a 1-Day shopping spree at The 3AM Teacher's Etsy store!

Pass the Torch!!!
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Grade 1 & 2

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Thursday, April 4, 2013

An Update

They tried taking my son off the oxygen last night, but his stats kept dropping so they turned it back on. I was really discouraged this morning.

My husband spent the day with the little guy at the hospital.  I went home this afternoon to take a shower, enter the last grades into the online grade book before the midnight deadline, and fold laundry in my PJs while watching TV. It was only a few hours, but it was a much needed break!

Thankfully he has had the oxygen tube turned off all day. On the way to pick up my daughter and head back to the hospital I got a text from one of the teachers at school. A few of them wanted to buy us dinner and take it to the hospital.

photo 10

Spaghetti anyone? They loved it! It was worth the mess I had to clean up. The linens needed to be changed anyway!

It was the first time we’d brought my daughter into the hospital. It was the first time in a week we'd been together as a family of four. The kids loved seeing each other! His face lit up when she walked in the door.


Unfortunately she did not want to leave to go home. She wailed for mommy all the way from our room on the 4th floor to the car. My poor husband had to carry her out in the rain, kicking and screaming. We have talked via Facetime twice since then. Even as the healthy one, this is a lot for a three-year-old to deal with.

All in all though it was a good day. The patient is now sleeping soundly and his stats are good. My husband and I are watching Grey’s Anatomy together – sort of. We might be in different places, but it works!

I’m praying that the night will go well and we will be home soon. Thank you so much for your kind words and prayers. It means a lot to us!