Thursday, December 7, 2017

Easy recycled/reused Christmas Decor

Do you ever get a Christmas card that is just too pretty to throw away? I mean cards in general now days are not always cheap. I have actually received cards other than Christmas (birthday, Easter, etc) that are beautiful and I try to keep what I can but let's be real, I don't like a lot of "stuff'" and try to purge as much as possible. However, for those extra special cards that are just too good to toss I decided to use as an easy DIY project.

I made this particular one for Christmas. But you could use any kind of card front depending on the theme or look you are wanting to achieve.

What you will need:
-front of a used card (I just pull off the back to keep the front)
-scrapbook paper
-frame of your own size and choosing

It really is as easy as it looks in the picture! Once you decide your size and if you will use matting or scrapbook paper all you do is put it together! Seriously, easy right? And you get to reuse/recycle those beautiful cards! I mean it could easily be a gift as well! Put your own spin on it!

Here are some other examples of fronts of cards I have saved and just waiting for the right moment to create something.
See? Too pretty to toss!

Have a BLESSED night!! 
"But the Lord watches over all who honor and trust his kindness." - Psalms 33:18

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Book Bites Episode 3-The Hallo-Wiener

Howdy ya'll! So I am a smidge behind on blogging so I am kind of doing a catch-up session here for Book Bites Episode 3.

If you are just now discovering my little blog and have no idea what Book Bites is then head over to the overview HERE to get a background of this little venture. You can also view the overview video HERE

Now onto Episode 3! 
The Hallo-Wiener  
by: Dav Pilkey 

** The video will have more detailed information about all these ideas below- this is just a quick sneak peek**

Overview: Oscar is short, like all dachshunds, and other dogs make fun of him. On Halloween he takes more ridicule than ever in his hot-dog costume, but one brave act makes him a hero.

Teaching points: (if you choose) bullying, character feelings 

Sticky notes: I do not have specific stopping points for this read aloud this time.I really wanted this seasonal one to be more of an enjoyment read with maybe some follow up fun activities.
Grab the Mini Integrated Unit HERE

Here's a peek at what is included: 

-Dog template to create craft

-Give Oscar a new costume

-2 Story element activities
-Book review
-Text to Self Connections
-DIY Word Family Sort
-Trick or Treat (true or false)
-Create your own Trick or Treat
-Verb practice
-Verb cards
-Story element cards
-2 Odd/Even sort
-Count by 5's cut/paste
-Count by 2's cut/paste
-On/off the decade practice
-Place Value

Here is an example of on of the activities! 

Access the full Episode 3 HERE

Want just the read aloud? Go listen and watch HERE

Don't forget to follow me on Facebook to get notifications of when new Book Bites Episodes are happening! You can also access all of them on my YouTube channel!

Have a BLESSED week!

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Scooping Up Reading Craftivity

Well hello there!
I feel like it has been awhile since I "for real" blogged. What's "for real" blogging? Well other than a quick check in on my Facebook blog page or Instagram and actually sitting down and typing a full post is "real blogging." I have SO many ideas I have written down to blog about but it truly is finding the time and sometimes the motivation to gather it all and focus to put it into words. But that's why I have my idea notebook! So I don't forget and hopefully will eventually get around to it! 

For tonight though this will be short and SWEET. Most importantly though, SWEET!! 
Do you like reading? 
Do you like ice cream?
Do you like a reason to throw a party?
Then this little FREEBIE is for YOU! Well for your kids, but you will reap the tasty benefits too! 

Here is the low down:
This little reflection craft can be used at the end of teaching different types of reading strategies. For example, we used this at the end of 2nd grade Lucy Calkins Reading Units of Study Unit 1 Session 4 “Readers Read in Longer Phrases Scooping Up Snap Words”. After teaching various ways and strategies that can be used while reading, second grade held a “Scooping up Reading” party. The kids reviewed the strategies that have been taught and created the ice cream craft. Then they got to celebrate with some ice cream scooping! (they also offered sorbet as an option for dairy              allergies)
This provides a fun way to wrap up or practice what they have been taught.

 Go grab the freebie HERE

Thank you so much to the 2nd grade ELA team for helping me bring this idea to life! Ya'll it's hard going from having your own classroom and babies to do these things with, to not having the direct opportunity to do so. Thankfully I work with some really awesome teachers throughout the grades that allow me to continue to still be ME and offer up ideas and create things for their little ones to do and try. We work hard and take our jobs building those minds seriously, but we also know how to have some fun!! 

Have a BLESSED week!! 
"I am the Alpha and the Omega. The beginning and the end, says the Lord God." Revelations 1:8

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

No More "What's Due?" Manage the paper monster!

How do you manage your classroom work and objectives? I am sure if your classroom is anything in the form of a normal classroom you have a lot going on throughout the week. Things can start piling up if you do not have some kind of a system in place. Even if a majority of what you do is in Interactive Notebooks, Seesaw, etc you can still get bogged down with what needs to be checked. Well I have tried various different things over the years and finally have settled on my newest technique. I have tweaked it and have seen such good results. And I promise you even 1st graders can manage it! 

The To-Do board! 
I have posted in the past about my kids having the chance to earn Fun Friday. After they accomplish all of their goals for the week they can earn that extra time to just be a kid and have some fun. I mean we work so hard during the week! 

On my back wall I have two empty cabinet fronts (prime real estate ya know?). I made picture icons of the objectives they would typically be faced with throughout the week as well as icons for what to do with the assignments when complete. I mean who just craves hearing..."I'm done!" What do I do with this? Where do I put it?" Well I can tell you I do not haha...I really want to foster independence and problem solving skills within those 4 walls. 
(I would have offered the icons as a freebie but it is tailored to what we do specifically, you would need to take pictures for your own icons-sorry!) 

Now we had a lot rolling this week so it looks kind of overwhelming to the naked eye lol...but my little owls have been trained on this and can execute it pretty well now days.

I put any assignment we have started and needs to be finished by Friday on the left side. On the right side I put the picture icon for where or what they need to do with it so they do not have to ask. 

"Corner of desk"- this tells me non-verbally I am done and you can come check my work. Most of these assignments/work was done in their interactive notebooks or folders where we didn't have to have extra copies made and waste paper or bury them in worksheets. 

"File"- I have made a file system at the front of the room with all their numbers on a file folder. They can slip their finished work in their and on Thursday and Friday morning I will check it.

"Picture of Me" - they can hand deliver it or also put it out on desk so I can come snatch it at my convenience. I don't typically use this one often but will when it is something I want right away.

"Work folder"- everyone every week has to have this out before starting Fun Friday. I do have some try to slip through the cracks each week and "say" they are done ;) ya know what I mean Vern?

The numbers next to the assignment are the magic numbers for the kids whose items I have not checked or have turned in. Once it is done I get to erase it off the board. I can tell you they love seeing their number go away. This is also helpful for some of my friends who are still learning to read. They know their number by heart already and the picture icons are obviously super fast to see as well! 

Here are some up close looks:

I really can't tell you how efficient this has made our weeks, and I love being able to see them turn around without me having to really say anything and check the to-do board on their own and Get 'Er Done! 

 I hope it sparked your interest if you are looking to streamline paper/assignment management in your classroom! 

Have a BLESSED week!!!

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Book Bites Episode 2- Lost and Found

Guess what?! I have another full episode of Book Bites done! 

I also did a "Minisode" as well! You can catch that HERE! It was over the ADORABLE book, Nerdy Birdy Tweets. I also made the read loud version as well so you can still enjoy the book even if you don't have it yet! You can watch that HERE.

If you are just now discovering my little blog and have no idea what Book Bites is then head over to the overview HERE to get a background of this little venture. You can also view the overview video HERE

Now onto the main attraction: Episode 2! 
Lost and Found 
by: Oliver Jeffers

** The video will have more detailed information about all these ideas below- this is just a quick sneak peek**

 Lost and Found is a simple tale about a boy and a penguin and their growing friendship.

Teaching points:
Connections, Inferences, Main Idea

Sticky notes:
Here are the suggested stopping points for this book- remember you may want to do every one all at once. These are front loaded so you decide when and how to use them.
Grab them HERE
When you get to the link the "supporting document" is what you want to click under the video. 

Other ideas to incorporate this text: (all of these ideas are described more fully in the video)
-Do a book talk before reading to kids-this would be a little personal story you have in connection to the book. For example, I might tell them about the time I found our rescue dog. He just happened upon us one day as an orphan and we thought we needed to adopt him out. However, we decided to keep him and we love him so much! This just helps to really personalize it and model that for the kids.
-After reading you may want to have an accountable talk circle: What does it mean to be lonely? How can we help others not feel lonely?
-Integrate into writing: How did the penguin end up at the boy's door? Create a "Found Penguin" poster, What would you take on your journey to return the penguin?

I will also use some short little acronyms in the stickys as well. You will decide when and where to actually stop reading and have your kids discuss so I give options.
T&T- turn and talk (incorporate Teach/Okay for Whole Brain)
TO-think out loud (more so for the teacher to do)

Access the full Episode 2  VIDEO 

Want just the read aloud? Go listen and watch HERE

Don't forget to follow me on Facebook to get notifications of when new Book Bites Episodes are happening! You can also access all of them on my YouTube channel!

Stay tuned for the next full episode or even "minisode" where I will feature another fun book!

Have a BLESSED Week!! 

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Book Bites-Intro to Book Bites and Episode 1

Welcome to Book Bites! I am so glad you stopped by to read or stumbled across the video on FB! My wish is that you find something positive and useful each time you visit Book Bites.

Why Book Bites?
A love of books of course! All books! Math, ELA, Science, SS, Professional, etc! Teaching can be overwhelming, especially all the possible literature available to be able to use in the classroom. I want to be able to share titles of books (specifically read alouds) that are well known but also maybe titles you have never heard of or used. 

What will you get with Book Bites?
During this series I am hoping to be able to provide a nice little sampling, a taste, of sorts, to all things literature. Hence the name, Book Bites!
I am hoping to give any of the following:
-overview of the book
-sticky notes for teaching
-ideas for teaching points
-maybe even some extra resources, craft-tivity, etc

I will also feature books across content areas-math, language, science, ss!

I may have suggestions for which grade levels for the books, but ultimately it will be up to you to decide if it will work for you and your group!
Some times I might just pop in with a recommendation of a new book without allll the extras, but just to give you a taste of the book so you can decide if it would be of interest for you! That is what I would call a "minisode" where I will probably do a quick video over on FB or Instagram, so hopefully you follow me there! Just search The Blessed OCDiva! 

When will Book Bites happen?
I am striving for at least once a month at first for the big videos and resource uploads. This is time consuming so I have to prepare everything for ya'll and get it uploaded. If time permits I may pop in more frequently. Some Book Bites may happen LIVE on FB or pre-recorded. So keep your eyes peeled over on my FB page for frequent updates! 

If you are familiar with workshop, you know read alouds are very important within reading time. There are many benefits to reading aloud to your students.
-Intro students to engaging, entertaining, and though provoking literature
-Model expressive and fluent reading 
-Lead student discussion through accountable talk
-Builds literacy skills:vocabulary, phonics, storytelling, and comprehension

There are also many benefits of implementing accountable talk:
-stimulates higher order thinking
-reflecting on learning
-communicates learning and understanding with others not just the teacher

A few years into teaching I realized how important preparing for the read aloud and being familiar with how you were going to implement it throughout the week was for not only the students but for me to use time strategically and effectively. 
One thing I did do with my team during planning times was to go through the read aloud we were using together and make notes on stickys of where we wanted to stop and talk, turn and talk, how to model, teaching point, etc. This is very beneficial for new teachers, however, 10 years later for me I love still doing this and it again helps keep me accountable. We all know how quickly the day can go and how precious the time is during workshop.

Another thing to note, when I give suggestions for stickys , I may give multiple and some may not be appropriate for certain grades at certain times of the year. I am just kind of brain dumping so I can squeeze as many different lessons out for ya'll to chose from. When you sticky note, you can skip some I suggest or tweak until they work for you. You won't ever have time to stop at every sticky when it is overloaded, you need to be focused and particular on what is the objective you are trying to hit home and hone in on that. 

Another tip I have realized is that you do not have to have a million books to be effective on read aloud (although having a million books isn't a bad thing haha, I am quite the book hoarder myself). But if you do not have the resources or financial ability to hoard books, only having a few very effective books can still get the job done. I have been sitting in planning looking at a book and I find SO many teaching points and places for accountable talk that would not be possible to address in one mini lesson. So what do I do? I go ahead and make those notes so I don't forget and then I have it ready when I want to pull that book back out to teach a different point.

It is also important to remember sometimes it is okay and beneficial to do a read aloud just for enjoyment the first day then revisit it for the particular modeling, stop and talk,etc. Every book you read does not need a whole lesson made around it or talked to death. Sometimes kids just need to hear the story and enjoy it. You as the teacher professional have to decide when, where, how, which, and why you are choosing a book for a read aloud for workshop. 

If I provide the notes/info for Book Bites sometimes it may look overwhelming at first glance, however, they are meant to front load you all at once and then you can go in and choose what you need and when you need it based on your teaching schedule. Hope that makes sense. Using whole brain with these as well work wonderfully (Teach, Ok- gestures, etc) 

I think that is a basic run down of Book Bites! 

Another tip: when I was sticky noting books this year for my teachers one of my first grade teachers came up with a wonderful hack! 
Not every book's pages are numbered. *wamp waa* and if they are not your personal copy then you may not be able to number them in yourself. So when typing or writing the sticky notes if they get misplaced or you need to remember where it belongs when teaching all you do it write the first few words from the page at the top of the sticky note.Genius right?!

Okay so onto the first Book Bites! If you want to see and hear along with reading go watch it HERE over on FB. (I am debating loading it to my YouTube channel as well)

In the spirit of back to school I am featuring this adorable book! 

How Rocket Learned to Read stars an irresistible dog named Rocket and his teacher, a little yellow bird. Follow along as Rocket masters the alphabet, sounds out words, and finally… learns to read all on his own!

Teaching points:
Back to School, Learning to Read, Connections, Vocabulary, Verbs, Character changes
This book lends itself to multiple teaching points. Again, you would not address them all at the same time. But go ahead and make notes so you could always refer back to it. You could use it for B2S and then pull it back out when teaching verbs to showcase those pages.

Sticky notes:
Here are the suggested stopping points for this book- remember you will not want to do everyone all at once. These are front loaded so you decide when and how to use them. Grab them HERE.

Other ideas to incorporate this text:
-Do a book talk before reading to kids-this would be a little personal story you have in connection to the book. For example, you might tell about a teacher you had that made learning to read fun and not too scary. This just helps to really personalize it and model that for the kids.
-After reading-ask more questions (included on sticky notes), integrate into writing and make a class book "How ________ Learned to Read"

I will also use some short little acronyms in the stickys as well. You will decide when and where to actually stop reading and have your kids discuss so I give options.
T&T- turn and talk (incorporate Teach/Okay for Whole Brain)
TO-think out loud (more so for the teacher to do)

If you have any other questions please go watch the video to help get more of a visual!!

Stay tuned for the next full episode or even "minisode" where I will feature another fun book!

Have a BLESSED Weekend!! 

Monday, July 24, 2017

Subitizing DIY

Do your kids struggle with subitizing numbers? Subi-say what?! I know quite the mouth full huh? Honestly I was not familiar with this term in my early years of teaching. I think this definition pretty much sums (no math pun intended;) ) it up for us! 

Subitizing is the ability to 'see' a small amount of objects and know how many there are without counting. Subitizing is what tells you what number you roll on a six sided dice – most adults no longer have to count the pips after playing board games for a while.

Having the ability to do this at the primary grades really is so important for numeracy. It does transition over as well in the intermediate grades with higher order mathematics. 

According to The National Council of Teachers and Mathematics, one key part of effective subitizing is developing pattern recognition. Moreover, this mathematical skill allows students to gain a grasp of numbers and advance to higher levels of addition. As an activity, the NCTM suggests taking “snapshots”. Taking snapshots means showing an image of a collection of objects to the student for just a second, then asking him or her to take a mental “snapshot” in order to identify how many objects are included in the image. (

Some benefits of subitizing:

*Saves Time-not having to count each individual member of the group

*Precursor for more complex number ideas-Students who can Subitize small groups of numbers are able to develop their counting skills by beginning their counting after the subitized group, or by using subitizing to count forwards or backwards by twos, threes, or even larger groups later when they are exposed to more complex multiplication tables. (Reys, et al., 2012) This type of subitizing falls into the category of conceptual subitizing which occurs with larger number sets, and involves  breaking the group into smaller parts (Clements, 1999). 

*Lends itself to learning addition and subtraction easier- it means that they are better equipped to handle addition and subtraction concepts, as they do not have to count each small group to be added or removed when learning operations with manipulatives (Reys, et al., 2012). 

Also having a strong base in doubles, number combinations, as well as making ten really creates the ability to subitize and group numbers together when in sets higher than 10. 

Having taught first grade the concept of subitizing was essential in our math journey. There are many activities you can do with kids to scaffold and teach them how to subitize. One quick and easy DIY I am listing below! 

We did this activity as a math warm up daily and it took us less than 5 minutes. Gosh, make it a race for them, bettering their time each time. This can be done whole group or small group. You can now get subitizing cards all over TPT,etc, but these little guys are cheap and require no ink! We made these with our math coach (Hey Jackie!) one year and I have been pulling them back out for my tutoring. All you do is flash the plate! 

Prompting some questioning while doing this as well really gives the kids a chance to express their math thinking and also gives you as the teacher a chance to hear if they really understand. 
Some examples of questions you can ask after flashing a plate/card: 
-how did you get that number?
-how do you know?
-what did you see?
-how did you group?

You could also hold up a plate and ask:
-what is one more/less than this number?
-what is ___more/less than this number?
-is this odd or even?

Some responses I have heard from kids might be:
-it is 8 because I see 4 here and 4 here and 4 and 4 make 8
-it is 6 because I grouped 4 and 2
-the number is 9 because I see 4 and 4 and one more make 9
This also lends itself to eventually add three numbers as well because of how they are grouping combinations. 
I have also heard kids say "Well I visualized that dot moved down to make a row of 5 then added the extra dots" *mind blown teacher* right?! When you can get your mathematicians talking and discussing like that it is amazing!!! 

It is also VERY important to point out and let the kids discover there may be more than 1 way to subitize and get to their answer. I often have kids say one of the responses above and another kid say a different way they saw it but still are able to produce the same number as their answer. 
I have also seen firsthand how quickly they get better at recognizing numbers, building that number sense, and utilizing strategies to make the combinations faster (make ten, doubles, etc)

So onto the DIY:
Materials needed: paper plates (we used the small ones and the cheapest ones)
                             sticker dots (two different colors)
Then add the dots in different configurations on the plates! 
Use my plates as an example.

Also, what if you put subitizing configurations in a math station and some extra plates, index cards, scrap paper, sentence strip pieces, etc. and they create their own subitizing cards with dots, paint, bingo dotters?! EEK how fun right?

Some other ways to incorporate subitizing into your daily schedule:
-put subitizing dots on your stations instead of the actual number
-subitize as an entrance ticket in the morning on their way through the door
-display your number line with dots under each number

Kids can subitize things other than dots:
-tally marks

A few minutes a day will make a difference! 

Have a Blessed Day!

"Be Good to People"

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Keto on the Go!

Today's post is slightly off the teaching subject, in a way. I guess I will still be teaching, but just about another one of my favorite things....FOOD!
The hubs and I have recently (5 weeks ago) started eating Ketogenic-ly. I am not an expert so if you'd like to read more "information" about it please visit this site. Today's goal is to share a bit about our journey and how we maintained it while traveling recently.

Disclaimer: I have not done a ton of research on all of this and I am not a certified nutritionist so I am only speaking from what I have seen in passing, what my hubby tells me, and what has seemed to work for us. 

A few weeks before starting Keto I had decided to get off dairy too cold turkey. I had been having some crazy bloating and stomach issues for a few months. Which was weird because I have eaten dairy my whole life and never had any issues, but just goes to show you how things can change. So I started just doing lactose free milk and it didn't get much better, so then I just stopped. No milk, no cheese, no dairy, only almond milk. You guys, the bloating stopped, my stomach felt soooo much better and my face cleared up! I have been going to the dermatologist since middle school and now I literally don't think I have to be on meds anymore! It was that good of a turn around!

So back to keto. We looked up keto recipes, made lists, went to the store, and spent the whole Sunday meal prepping for the week. Now I am not a chef or a baker by any means, in fact, I'd rather not, but it was actually fun to methodically think through what we were going to eat and how healthy it all was. Now some say Keto is not something you can maintain forever, some opinions differ. I am not getting into all of that. Our goal was to mainly try it for 6 weeks and see what the results were. I mean it wasn't night and day from how we were eating, it just made us more mindful of what we bought (like chips,bread for toast, eating out, etc). 
We stocked up on eggs (no shocker there for us), bacon (uncured-no nitrates/nitrites), spinach (just be careful how much you can get kidney stones), broccoli, salmon, meat, pork rinds, etc. Here is a graphic for the types of foods they suggest.

Once the first week was over it was not so hard. I didn't lock myself in the room in the dark and rock back and forth screaming for cakes and bread, I only had one carb dream ;) haha jk. It really just ended up becoming a habit for us. I was able to learn new recipes, especially some sweets to cure the sweet tooth cravings. Now depending on who you talk to as well as with any eating regime it can be taken extreme or you can fall off the wagon day 1...we are more of the sitting in the wagon type of people. We are going to take it seriously and try to meet our goals but not dissect every little tiny thing. When we would eat out we did take our time to decide where it would be and if they had anything we could turn into Keto friendly food. For the most part it was rather easy. Which brings me to the whole point for today's post. How to be on the go with Keto. Again, I am not going in depth about the origins of Keto, or research, etc. This is mainly for anyone who has started and needs to travel and how you can possibly still stay true to the course even while traveling, where your diet could be sacrificed. Also, these are just ideas, they may not work for you. That's okay! Just merely suggestions.

We were traveling to Colorado. So our first leg of the trip would be about 8 hours. The second day about 5 hours. We had a large cooler and bought ice for the first half of the trip. We made sure our first hotel room had a fridge and microwave in it as well.

The night before we spent time preparing. We prepared: egg salad, Mcgriddle, and cookies.

Grab the egg salad recipe here

Grab the Mcgriddle recipe here (we used bacon instead of sausage)

Grab the cookie recipe here (we left out the chocolate chips)

For snacks between meals we packed: almonds, protein bars (keto friendly), sunflower seeds, almond butter spread, pork rinds, and beef jerky.

We mainly snacked on the road and ate some of the cookies (mainly b/c I accidentally used salted butter for the cookies and it actually came out like little corn bread cookies haha-keto friendly of course)

We did stop at Mcdonalds for a quick lunch and had the burger without the bun, no ketchup, and add mayo.

Once we arrived at the first hotel we had the egg salad to snack on and we were able to eat the Mcgriddle that morning since the hotel had a microwave.

Once we arrived in CO, we were staying with his gma so making food was much easier! We still had leftover egg salad to munch on as well! For meals throughout the week we stayed the course!
Breakfast: eggs and bacon
Lunch: egg salad, rotisserie, burger no bun
Dinner: pot roast, raw broccoli and ranch, avocado, salad, radishes (this lasted two days or so from leftovers)

We snacked throughout the day on some of the items we had brought with us from above!

On the way home we didn't have the ability to home make as we did on the way to CO. We still had leftover snacks but we did have to stop and get fast-food once on our first leg on the way back. We just did what we had before-hamburger but no bun!

When we got to the hotel for the way home we were able to eat a fresh salad with veggies and hamburger meat with bacon and a fried egg on top!

We were fortunate to be able to stay with his gma and us be able to cook with her. However, we were so happy we decided to cook items before we left for the trip to be able to really watch our intake on the road, especially when it can be very tempting to not pay much attention to your eating.

Now I will divulge on our way home we stopped at Ihop for eggs and bacon, but once we got there we saw the new cupcake pancakes and decided to go for it. At first I was hesitant because, I mean we went to all this work all week to stick to our plan and now the last few hours of the trip we were going to ruin it?! But, no, it was not ruining it for us it was a moment of "live your life". We had made it 5 weeks AND a major road trip on our plan! We limited ourselves to 2 and we went right back to keto for the rest of the day/week! We just have developed the habits of choosing our food so the pancakes were not something that threw us over the edge like a wild animal that gets a taste of fresh meat.
Oh and yes they were worth it for a little cheat meal,no calories wasted there! :)

I am still not completely sold on high fat the true way Keto calls for it for long periods of time, but I also need to do more reading on it. Like I said above we aren't driving the Keto bus but merely just some passengers enjoying a new way of eating and if anything it is teaching us to think more clearly about our choices and when it is okay to indulge.

I will say I have enjoyed my face clearing up and I have also noticed I have had much more energy naturally and not so zombie like after eating!

Even if you aren't doing Keto, maybe you found some new recipes to try out and enjoy something different!

Have a BLESSED week!

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Looking for some organization and fun new products

Attention all Instructional Coaches!!!

 The ICD for the OCD
Instructional Coach Detailer for the OCD is all updated for the 2017-2018 school year! 

Let's face it, the IC job is multitasking at its finest! You don't have time to be scattered in your thoughts! Use the ICD to help you be OCD! 
This Instructional Coach Detailer is the perfect planner to help you balance all of your plans, notes, and to-do's!

What is included?
-Two different versions: ELA & Math/Science-Monthly overviews August - July (free updates each year!)-To-Do checklists with each month-Space to put sticky notes so they are never far away-Positive quotes to keep you going- Team planning overviews- Notes for meetings-Pages of team minute notes for team plannings-Teacher Checklists-to keep information of teachers easy

Print this in color or even just black and white!You can print as is, or rearrange pages in a spiral bound form or binder. Need more of a certain page? Print just what you need!Put it all together or make separate smaller books.Add in your school calendar, etc! 

If you'd like a custom cover I am happy to do that! Just email me! Email is listed in TPT product description page!

Suggestion: Print cover in color on card stock and print the other pages on regular paper (helps with printing cost)

***FREE updates each year!! 

Click HERE for ELA
Click HERE for Math/Science

Need more inserts? Check out my IC Quick Sheets to add to your planner and keep track of your coaching with teachers! (under the organization tab) or link: 

I also just added some A La Carte pieces you can add to ANY planner!

Check them out HERE (they are free for now so grab them while you can!)

Last thing for today! I just finally got around to posting my newest edition of Monthly Jam- where I showcase my favorite 5 items in under 5 minutes!  I would love anyone who would like to participate to join me! You can see the original post HERE if you'd like to know the "guidelines". 

So I posted this one over on my YouTube is just up and going so please be gentle :) I'd love it if you'd subscribe while there too! 
Click HERE to watch! 

Have a Blessed week!!! 
"If we say we are HIS, we must follow the example of Christ."
1 John 2:6

Monday, June 5, 2017

Confessions of a First Year Teacher

Teaching is: fun, rewarding, exciting, inspiring, empowering....but let's be real too...Teaching is: exhausting, demanding, intensive, diverse...hard..teaching is hard ya'll. Do you remember your first year of teaching? Do you remember feeling all of those descriptions above plus many more? Wait, who am I kidding I still feel all that almost 10 years later! HA! Well that first year is so many emotions rolled into one year! Every teachers first year varies, so you can't base your experience or experience to come off of someone else's. I am also fully aware there are a million and infinity pieces to this puzzle called teaching and we could add to the list all day long, but in order for you not to fall asleep on me I have narrowed it down! Keep reading for some of those common threads that weave and spin the many layers of teaching!
*Thank you to two amazing first year teachers for volunteering themselves as tribute for my blogging adventures!"

We all have gotten that call right? The "Would you accept ______ position for the upcoming year?" No matter how it happened for you, we all start somewhere. Thank goodness for admin that will take a chance on a new teacher right?! I asked my two gracious interviewees the question, "What was the first thought you had when you got that call?"
Ms. Skillern: " Wow, that was easier than I thought! I was excited and nervous at the same time. I was preparing myself for it to take awhile. Then I thought, oh my gosh what am I going to do in first grade?!"

Ms. Szydlowski: "I was so excited! I had been waiting. I will finally have a class of my own! I was ready to get things prepared!"

I'm not going to lie, homegirl here was a hot mess when I got offered the job. The tears came and I gave hugs, hoping they wouldn't retract their decision once the emotions started flowing haha. I just couldn't believe they wanted to take a chance on little 'ol me. Fresh outta college, small town, new to the big city, country! I was sure grateful they did! I have actually followed one of them around too these past 10 years, so I guess my pronunciation of "cray-on" as "crown" hasn't scared her off.  

What are some things you have come to realize now that your first year is complete?

Ms. Szydlowski "All the behind the scenes work. Grading, paperwork, data, referrals, all the little things you may not get taught or exposed to beforehand."

Ms. Skillern: "How important a to-do list is! Also how stressful it can be. You really need to be a planner and be organized with all the things you have to accomplish and be responsible for."

Let me add:
I have come to realize all of those things too! Also how flexible you need to be. You can't be a stubborn mule as a teacher, things change too much! I have also learned how sharing is always caring!!! Oh and most importantly, building a community that respects and supports each other-kids and with your coworkers. Oh and teaching is not a competition! 

(in no particular order-except the first one. That helps aid in doing the other ones haha)
-take time for yourself
-be prepared
-gather plenty of mentor texts
-love the whole child
-utilize the mentors around you
-prioritize things
-make time to love on the kids not just academically, but emotionally
-Ask questions (so important not to feel embarrassed or unsure-you will have people around you willing to answer them)

-don't overwork yourself
-don't have a fixed mindset
-waste energy on things that may not have an effect in the long run

Let me add:
 DO find yourself a teaching tribe, people who will love, support, encourage, and not judge you. Take/read Professional Development and observe other teachers to further your craft and learn from others.
Oh yea, DO drink some caffeine-liquid manna from Jesus ya'll. 

DON'T-spend time worrying about what others think of you or your teaching-just give it all of your heart and work with a passion. Make the best decisions you can to better your kids, yourself, and those around you. The rest will take care of itself.

I'm just going to etc, etc, etc this whole section because teaching each year brings new revelations and solidifies many truths. You can ALWAYS GROW! 

This is kind of an extension of the "DO THIS" section above.
Here are some helpful tips these two fabulous ladies offered up in their conversation:
-find what motivates your kids
-have pockets charts
-build a class library ASAP (I will post more about that below)
-get organized with buckets and bins (Can I get a Hallelujah?!)
-take deep breathes and get in the best mindset before the day begins
-spend some time (not too much-remember the whole "recharge yourself?") gathering ideas and looking through resources
-try to not have any preconceived notions- be open
-put yourself out there, build relationships early
-be prepared for "down time"-so have ideas and options ready
-use Donor's Choose
-flexible seating is so great for the kids-offers choice and builds responsibility

**How can you build a class library without breaking the bank?
-Visit your local Half Price books- you can also tell them you are a first year teacher and needing book donations. They more than likely will donate boxes of books they don't end up selling. I got like 8 huge boxes donated my first year. Granted I had to sort through and find the best ones but hey they were FREE!

-Know a retiring teacher? 

-Visit local resale shops and garage sales

-Do a Donor's Choose- takes a little work but totally worth it when funded

-Christmas or B-day coming up? If people want to gift you something ask for books or giftcards to buy books.

Just a few ideas!

-Flair pens (Amazon or local office supply store)
-Pocket charts (Really Good Stuff, Amazon, Lakeshore, Oriental Trading)
-Class library books and mentor texts 
-Containers, organizers, and more containers!!! 

Something I didn't add to  that picture above is professional development books. There are SO many out there I would run out of space! 
However, some great ones are:

Add to that picture:
-Teach Like a Pirate (Dave Burgess)
-Teach Outside the Box (LouAnne Johnson)
-Mathmatical Mindsets (Jo Boaler)
-Guided Math (Laney Sammons)
-Whole Brain Teaching for Kids (Chris Biffle)
-A Mindset for Learning (Kristine Mraz)

I know I am missing a ton but that's a good list to start with! 


This brings me to the last portion- where does a new teacher go after they have survived their first year? PAR-TAY! And I'm talking the "get in your pj's, grab a celebratory treat, and watch your favorite shows" partying because you deserve it! 
After you do all that, it's time to set new goals! 
Here are some ideas from my two Ms. S's!

-Do more with what I have learned
-Learn more and dive more into small groups
-Re-do my room setup

I will also chime in with REFLECT! I advise doing reflection throughout the year. Take notes, take pictures, write down goals, ways to improve, etc. Either way, reflection is the key to bettering yourself. Also remember, you don't have to be perfect! You don't have to be the best or known for teaching fame, you just need to DO your best and be able to say you gave it your all with a passion. 

Well, if you are a new teacher reading this and you have survived your first year then I say CONGRATS to you! Be proud of yourself. I won't say it get's a lot easier, but it does become more manageable. If you stay the course and take advice and listen to your heart then it won't be WORK it will be your HOBBY. 

If you are a new teacher about to embark on your first year, I'll "Dionne Warwick" it and "Say a little prayer for you" (did I just date myself?) I am not that old but I do like the classics ;) 
For real though, I hope these tips will  help you enter your classroom a little more confident. You were made for this and this is what you have been prepared for. Love those kids and teach with a fire! 

Have a BLESSED week!