July 27, 2015

Summer is for Salsa & Guacamole

Even though I've been crazy busy making things for my classroom, I'm not sharing those things today because I'm still waiting on some final information before I can consider them complete.

School doors open in one week for classroom setup, so I'm planning to go on Monday to meet my principal (I hope) and hopefully some of my team members who can answer the list of questions I'm keeping. And hey... maybe I can even get my hands on the curriculum!

In the meantime, I'm going to share some YUMMY recipes for Monday Made It. I don't know about you, but on really hot days in the summer, I have ZERO desire to cook. Also, when I've been SO busy preparing for this next year, I find it hard to pull myself away from my work to make food.

It's just so much easier to graze.

So... I made some grazing foods this weekend. And they were all AMAZING, so of course, I have to share with my favorite Internet friends! Check out this goodness:
Nothing really compares to homemade salsa and guac, and these were divine! I couldn't possibly tell you which is my favorite because their flavors are so distinctly different. This was what we had for lunch yesterday. No... I'm not kidding.
 First up is Jeremy's Corn Salsa, which is a recipe that was shared by my dear friend Alison at Rockin' and Lovin' Learnin' last week. I don't really like tomatoes, so any salsa recipe that uses something else as it's base is good in my book (though I did use one tomato in this. As expected, it was DELISH! Thanks, Jeremy and Alison!

When Joel's mom comes over or one of us goes to see her, we never walk away empty-handed. This week, she gave us a bunch of delicious peaches, and I just knew they were going to go bad if I didn't do something with them. Since I'm not a big fan of peach desserts, I looked online for a peach salsa recipe. I found one from the Pioneer Woman and gave it my own twist. The result was AMAZING!



The guacamole the recipe from Chipotle, except I use three avocados instead of 2.

I hope you guys enjoy these recipes as much as we have!

July 20, 2015

Classroom Management Freebies

Happy Monday! I love that I can say that to teachers in the summer and MEAN IT! haha

We finally had a break in the rain this weekend, so Joel, his sister, and I headed downtown for some relaxation on the beach of Lake Michigan. We didn't hit much traffic until we arrived, when it took us 1.5 hours to find parking! I guess when the hottest day of the year (two years, actually) falls on a Saturday, EVERYONE heads to the beach!
Joel in his happy place
By the time we got situated in the sand, some ominous clouds started forming above. I swear we weren't even there an hour before it starting storming again!

Luckily, I have a great friend who lives nearby and invited us to dry off at her apartment. We ate some linner (that's what I call a late lunch/early dinner) and played a round of my current favorite board game, Ticket to Ride (Note: it's not actually called Ride the Train as I said previously. I miss that up EVERY time. I don't think it's hard to see why!).
Even when I lose, I still have fun
By the time we were cleaned up, the sun was shining again, so we headed back to the beach. It was much cooler, so we didn't get in the water, but we were DETERMINED to make the most of our beach day!

See all that water behind me? That's ON the beach!
OK... now for the stuff you're really here to see! I'm linking up with my girl, Tara at 4th Grade Frolicks, for Monday Made It, which is definitely my FAVORITE linky of the week because I'm stealing so many great ideas for my classroom!


I was pretty busy again this week, making things for my classroom. And the good news is that I have some freebies to share with YOU!


The first item I finished this week is a classroom management visual for my classroom. A couple years ago, I learned about CHAMPS, which is about setting clear expectations for every activity in the classroom. Students need to know, for each Activity, the expected Conversation level, how they should seek Help, what Movement is allowed (if any), and what is expected for Participation. As always, it's a good idea to display this in your classroom so students can refer to it as needed.

As you know, we can do MANY activities in an ELA block, so this can change multiple times per period. I've seen some teachers create HUGE posters that show all of the information for each type of activity, but I feel like it's too overwhelming to see all of that information at once. Instead, I created HEADINGS & TAGS for each section. Mine are printed and laminated, and I'm putting them on those loose leaf rings (which I will hang on a thumb tack) so I can flip to the correct tag for the current activity. I plan to make a student responsible for this (as we discuss the expectations for each activity) so I don't spend my whole day changing the tags!


I obviously made these to match my new classroom, but if you'd like a copy of my set, you can grab it, my first freebie, here!


Up next are two posters I created for my classroom. I adapted the SWAG posters I've seen all over Pinterest to meet my needs in the middle school classroom, and of course, I needed a THINK poster that would match my new decor. I still have to print and laminate these, but I have to go Kinko's for that so... it may be a while before that happens!

These will eventually be a part of my Classroom Poster Set, but you can click on the pictures below to download these flash freebies! Grab them before the set goes live on TPT and the freebie ends!





I also threw together this Classroom Behavior Log, which I plan to use for tracking purposes. I have four boxes for each day because, as an ELA teacher, I want to track their behavior in 4 instances:

  • First period of the block - Teacher Instruction
  • First period of the block - Workshop Time
  • Second period of the block - Teacher Instruction
  • Second period of the block - Workshop Time
As you can see, I plan on doing a reading and writing workshop in my classroom this year, and I want to be able to track WHEN students are off-task as much as HOW OFTEN. I have some simple codes for things like no pencil or no book that I want to record for conferences.

Click on the image below do download your copy!



Finally, I made a little somethin' for me. While we were at the beach, we saw vendors selling big chunks of DELICIOUS-looking melons, and it gave me a serious craving for some fruit. I made Joel go with me to the store yesterday and purposely selected some fruits we don't normally buy.

When I got home, everything sounded so good that I couldn't decide. So... I made GIANT fruit salad with kiwi, pineapple, nectarines, honeydew, and watermelon. OH MY YUM!


OK, folks! That's all for this week, but don't worry because I'm already hard at work on next week's items to share!

July 17, 2015

Happy & Healthy Breakfast Recipe

If you've read my blog for a while, you're probably well aware of the fact that I LOATE mornings. I've always been more of a night owl, which is proven by the fact that I'm usually commenting on posts at 1:00 AM over my breaks!


With my new job, though, and the EXTRA long commute (1 hour without traffic, 2 during rush hour), I know I need to start thinking about my sleeping habits now. When school starts, my plan is to leave at 6:00 to beat the morning rush - actually, I'm PRAYING that's early enough because this 5:30 alarm is a whole hour earlier than normal for me, and I just can't fathom waking up any earlier!

As you can imagine, 30 minutes doesn't leave me a whole lot of time for morning preparations. For this reason, I try to do as much as possible the night before. Before I go to bed, I always do the following:
  • Shower, blow dry, and straighten my hair (only minor touch ups needed in the AM)
  • Apply makeup (I only wear eye makeup, and I've never had any issues with this)
  • Lay out my clothes for the next day
  • Pack myself a lunch & snacks for the following day
  • Prepare whatever is necessary for the next night's dinner (thawing meat, chopping veggies) so i can throw it together when I'm hungry and tired after school
  • Set my travel mug next to the hot water dispenser with a bag of tea waiting inside
  • Pack my school bag and set it waiting by the door
When I'm in a rush, the easiest thing for me to neglect is breakfast. Now, don't get me wrong! I LOVE a good leisurely breakfast; it's one of the things I enjoy most about school breaks! It's just that my desire to sleep usually wins out over my desire to eat.

Herein lies my problem: grab and go breakfast items are ALWAYS super carb-heavy and often full of sugars. They also typically lack the protein I need to stay full throughout my morning (because when you eat breakfast before 6:00 AM, lunch never comes soon enough).

I did protein shakes pretty religiously for a few years, and I got pretty burnt out on them. I was good about changing up the flavor all the time so I didn't get sick of the taste, but I've learned that I'm just not always in the mood for a cold drink in the morning - especially during a Chicago winter!

My best solution so far as been overnight crock pot options, which are hot and ready when I wake up in the morning. I like that they're easily customizable, which helps us to not feel like we're stuck in rut, eating the same meal every morning. I switch up the veggies and use breakfast sausage or bacon to change the flavors each week.


Obviously, this recipe includes carbs, but it also includes a ton of protein and vegetables, so I don't feel so guilty about it. It's not one I can eat easily in the car, but I can scarf it down before I walk out the door or heat it up once I get to school in the morning. 

Joel actually threw one together last night after he found some sausage in the fridge that was dangerously close to its expiration date! Below shows you what it looks like after 8 hours on low. I have to be careful with that because my crock pot will burn everything past that 8 hour mark, even on "keep war," so I have to turn it off as soon as we wake up. This feeds us both some pretty hearty portions for 4 days.


Do you have a easy breakfast recipe to share? If so, come link up with Mentoring in the Middle and Stuck in the Middle so we can all add to our repertoire!