August 29, 2013

Easy Reference Schedule

Today was my first day of school as a teacher's aide. This is definitely a different feeling than teaching, but I'm generally very pleased with my decision. It was comforting to be back in a school where I've worked as a substitute. I was happy to see several familiar faces, it was nice to know my way around the building on day one. It definitely takes off some of the newbie stress.

I am really excited about working with my assigned team this year. I feel fortunate that they are allowing me to work in all content areas, so I have the opportunity to refresh my skills in areas I don't teach (and where I plan to earn further endorsements) as well as be a resource for my endorsement areas. I'm also excited that I work with so many different teachers so I can observe multiple management styles. 

The biggest change as a TA is that I don't have any planning periods, of course. I follow my students to what we call Encore classes, which, for me, includes two different groups of Strategic Reading (a skills-based class for our lowest readers) and one section of band. 

I asked all the teachers to utilize me to the fullest, as I'm just not the type of person to sit back and watch. I really want to help make their lives easier and support our SPED kiddos with small group instruction and other interventions they need. They seemed very excited to hear this! :)

When I was teaching, I always kept a list of my homeroom students on the back of my ID in case we ever had a fire drill and I wasn't in my room to grab my emergency clipboard. Since that's no longer my responsibility, I had the perfect spot to hold my new schedule. We don't use bells in our school, so it's necessary to watch the clock to make sure I'm at my next class on time. Between a late start schedule every Wednesday and being placed with teachers who float between classrooms, I know I'll be prone to forgetting when I'm supposed to be where.

To that end, I typed up my schedule and slid it into my badge holder for easy reference. I definitely think this is easier than pulling out my binder (which I'm hoping I can ditch once I learn all of my students' accommodations) to refer to the copy I was given by the office every 5 minutes!

August 28, 2013

Announcement Day

First of all, let me extend my thanks again for all of your support and advice in regards to my job opportunities. I feel so blessed to be a very small part of this network of education bloggers who have challenged, encouraged, and supported me along my journey. I can only hope that I provide the same level of support for others.

After days of deliberation (and consultation with many, many family, friends, and even my own former teachers), I've decided to go with the TA position. My reasoning is as follows:

  • Great potential for long-term subbing and/or being hired full-time in the district with the recommendation from the AP who hired me. 
  • The opportunity to observe fantastic teachers in their classrooms each day. I feel this is a luxury most of us don't have as classroom teachers because we're too busy to really spend that kind of time learning from others. I'm excited to pick up new management strategies and lesson plans from my team. (And yes, I will be sharing lots of ideas!)
  • I'm comfortable in the school. I know and like much of the staff and am excited to be a part of their team.
  • My day is complete at 3:00, and I can walk out of the building without worrying about grading, planning, parent calls, etc. This will be weird... in a good way.
  • The ability to take on tutoring or other extra-curricular activities without worrying that I won't have time to get everything done for the next day.
  • My parents are gracious enough to allow us to stay with them longer, meaning we don't have to worry as much about finances. Basically, I have the most supportive parents in the world. :)
I honestly feel like this was the hardest decision in my life. It wasn't the biggest (moving to Louisiana wins that award), but it was definitely the hardest. But I'm confident that I'm making the right choice for me at this point in my life. 

Before I go, I also want to announce the winner of my Quietest Classroom Pencil Sharpener Giveaway, Crystal S. Congratulations, Crystal, and thank you to all of you who entered my very first giveaway. I hope you all stay tuned because I have some more ideas mind for the future!

August 27, 2013

So... You Want Your Kids to Read?

Before I start today's Teacher Tip, I want to remind you all that today is the LAST DAY to enter my giveaway raffle. Get your entries submitted before midnight!

Whether you're a parent or teacher, it's likely that you've lamented that your child (or student, but for the post, I'm going with child) doesn't read as much as you'd like. We've all seen the statistics that correlate minutes reading to test scores, but even beyond those standardized tests, reading is the key to learning information about our world. And every child NEEDS to be doing it!

To that end, here are 6 Tips to Get Your Children to Read:

1. Make sure they have access to a well-stocked library full of high-interest books. It should be a constantly evolving selection as your children's interests and reading levels change. Is your child obsessed with sports? Grab all the Mike Lupica books you can find. Loves reality TV? Look for some biographies and autobiographies by celebrities your child likes (look at who they follow on Twitter and Facebook for inspiration). Boy-crazed? Introduce her to Sarah Dessen. There are books out there for EVERY child... you just have to pay attention!

Your library doesn't have to be massive, and the books don't have to be pristine. Go to thrift stores, take advantage of Scholastic warehouse sales, hit up a used book store, or even rent them from the public library. Just make sure they're on-hand at all times so there's no excuse of, "There's nothing good to read here!"

2. Read. Yes, you. One of the best ways we can instill a love of reading is to let our children see us modeling a love of reading. How can we get upset at that our children never pick up a book when they never see us do the same. Turn off the TV and step into a good story yourself. And hey... if it's good... share it!

3. Speaking of sharing books... help your child create a book club - even an informal one. The best part of reading a book is being able to share the experience with others. Suggest that your child and a friend read the same book so they can talk about it together. I know that when I was a teenager, I would have done practically anything my best friend did. Peer pressure can be positive too!

4. Non-fiction counts! If your child will only read magazines, that's okay! There is value in reading Seventeen and Sports Illustrated, assuming of course, they're not just glancing at the pictures. You should see an increase in the amount of non-fiction reading in and out of classrooms as your child ages... because thats the way most adults gather information.

5. Talk to your child about what he's reading. You can do this in informal ways, but by having authentic conversations about the text, you can help check for understanding and help your child consider alternative viewpoints. Ask them their opinions on things that happen in the text, and have them show you where in the book their ideas come from. It helps if you're reading the same book. My mom and I are constantly reading the same books and talk about them all the time. I can't tell you how many of my favorites have been her recommendations.

6. Share articles with your child on Facebook, Twitter, etc. Although it is not my ONLY news source, I do gather quite a few hot topics from reading what my friends (and Huffington Post) suggest on my news feed each day. Link the article with a quote or comment from you to hook them into the text. And it doesn't have to be about world news (unless that interests them). You can find articles on relationships, electronics, sports... it's all at your fingertips. A subtle, "This reminds me of what we were talking about the other day," is often the prefect nudge for them to read something they wouldn't have otherwise. They're learning without even realizing it!

August 26, 2013

Hear That Ticking? It's Decision Time!!

Thank you all for your words of advice regarding the TA position I blogged about last week. After the interview Friday, I was feeling really good about taking the position. The AP called me yesterday to inform me that he's just finishing contacting my references, but that he's "looking at" me. So, this should be great news BUT... a new wrench was thrown into the mix.

I received an email over the weekend inviting me to interview for a teaching position at another district. I had no idea what the position entailed (not even the subject as it was no longer posted), but I do know that people have a less-than-favorable opinion of this district. In fact, I've said myself that I would never work in or send my children to these schools (I lived in the district prior to moving to Louisiana). Joel's brother and sister grew up attending one of the other middle schools in the district and warned me that this school is where all the "badass" kids come from. They were full of stories about fights and weapons... great, huh? 

I immediately started having flashbacks to the beginning of school last year. If you don't recall, there were LOTS of tears and "I can't do this!" cries. I know this school is far from meeting AYP, and I'm okay with that. I can teach what my friend Elaine calls "Sweet and Low" students. But I have to be honest and tell you that I have NO desire to deal with the discipline issues I encountered last year. I don't want to be a warden; I want to TEACH! Add to this the fact that school had already begun, meaning I start the year at a disadvantage, and I was feeling anxious all weekend.

I met with the principal this morning, who is also new to the district, and I'm happy to say that I really liked her. I think because I wasn't worried about "impressing" her, I 100% honest about my beliefs about homework policies and other expectations, and I was pleasantly surprised to find out that she agreed with my opinions completely. 

She told me straightforward that I present myself very well in an interview (something I already know about myself), and I know she's already started contacting my references. She just sent me an email saying she completed my paperwork and is sending it on to HR for final approval. And I still don't know what I'm going to do!

Take the salaried teaching position in a high-stress environment, or play it safe with the TA job that will be a stepping stone into a full-time position in a district I love?


August 23, 2013

What a Busy Week!

It's actually laughable that I can sit here and say TGIF when I'm not even back to school! ha! But it really has been a busy week, so I wanted to link up with Doodle Bugs Teaching today to share what's been keeping me so busy!

I got to spend Tuesday with my BFF, Ashley, helping her with her two beautiful girls, Elodie & Amelia. It was so great to be able to spend that quality time alone so we could catch up on all the girly things we can't discuss when our guys are around. AND I got to snuggle with her twins for hours on end. They are pretty much the cutest babies in the whole world, as evidenced by my photo below, and they are so easy-going. It's moments like this that remind me why I'm so grateful that we moved back to Illinois!

I spent Wednesday hanging out at the pool with my sister, who is currently in between semesters of grad school. It was the first day back to school here, which meant we were able to enjoy the luxury of an empty pool almost the whole time we were there. We read magazines, chatted about life, and then we treated ourselves to lunch like the Ladies of Leisure we were pretending to be. Again, it was great to spend time with her one-on-one!

Yesterday, I drove out to visit a childhood friend, whom I've recently reconnected with, and her children. It was fun to reminisce about the people we knew and things we did when we were kids. She was generous enough to send me home with a car FULL of baby stuff for Joel's sister, who is expecting a little girl in October... and this is just what would fit in my car!

I can't forget to mention the quality time I spent my my Quietest Classroom Pencil Sharpener this week. It's kinda ridiculous how excited I was to have this tool, but it really came in handy since I've been working hard to make my own Interactive Reading Notebook, using many of the lessons I got from Erin at I'm Lovin Lit. If you haven't already entered the drawing for my giveaway, there's still time!

Today, I had the interview for the teacher assistant position I mentioned earlier. The great news is that the AP said he would encourage his TAs to keep looking for teaching positions and would even recommend them for those jobs. That was awesome to hear, which relieves a lot of my anxiety about the position. The pay is still horrible... but something is better than nothing, right? He said he interviewed one other candidate today as well, so all I can do now is hope that I was the preferred candidate. Fingers crossed!

Whew! I told you that was a busy week! Tonight, Joel and I are going on a triple date with Ashley, her husband, and another one of my best friends from high school, John. I'm excited to meet John's girlfriend of one-year... I tell ya, you miss a lot when you move away!! It's going to be so good to hang out all together again. I can't wait!!

Throwback picture of the Three Amigos (I'm on the right)! :)

August 22, 2013

Please Share Your Advice!


You guys are always so good about offering advice... and I need to ask for some more.

As you know, I have not been able to find a teaching position since moving back to Illinois this summer. Of course, I'm super happy to be with family and friends again, but this has been a HUGE disappointment. 

Earlier this week, a friend of mine (who works in a district where I subbed prior to moving to Louisiana) recommended me to her administration when they asked if anyone knew anyone who might be interested in a teacher's aide position. I just got off the phone with the AP, and he already told me I'm more than qualified for the position... so it's basically a question of whether or not I want it.

And here's where I need help. Cuz I'm not sure if I do.

I've made a little Pro/Con list to help you know what I'm considering:

  • Steady employment = knowing what to expect on a paycheck
  • I like the school & staff at the school
  • Insurance benefits
  • Administration will know my name and skills
  • Not being able to take any long-term subbing or teaching opportunities 
  • Really bad pay 
  • 30-40 minute commute
The alternative, at this point, is that I will (hopefully) be added to the sub list. Obviously, subbing isn't consistent work, but the daily rate is higher than an aide (except no benefits). Long-term subs get paid VERY well in this district, and they're the group that's chosen to fill available positions. BUT... in the two years I worked there, I wasn't able to get hired for any of those positions and only did day-to-day subbing. 


Said No Teacher Ever

In the spirit of Back to School, one of my friends posted this on Facebook today, and it was too good not to share with you guys!

Seriously... have any of you ever said ANY of these???


If you haven't entered my giveaway yet, make sure you get on that!

August 21, 2013

Giveaways Galore!

Today, I have two giveaways I want to share with you.

The first comes from Megan at I Teach. What's Your Superpower? who is giving away a Silhouette Portrait. I've never seen one of these babies in action, but I've read all about the fascinating things you guys do with them on your blogs. I'm crossing my fingers extra hard that I win this one because I really want to play with it! I have so many ideas for how I would use a Silhouette at school and home!

My second giveaway is courtesy of Classroom Friendly Supplies who is letting me give away one of The Quietest Classroom Pencil Sharpeners. The winner will be able to select from a blue, black, red, or green sharpener valued at $24.99! If you haven't read my review yesterday, I suggest that you check it out to see how much I recommend this product for your own classroom! (This giveaway is open to US residents only... apologies to my international followers... I still love you!)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

August 20, 2013

The Perfect Tip

It's Tuesday, and today, I have The Perfect Tip for you: get yourself The Quietest Classroom Pencil Sharperner!

I know many of you already have one because I've seen them featured on your blogs. I've only ever had an electric one in my classroom (the manual ones always seem to be broken), and I swear it's too much fun for the students to sit there and listen to their pencils whittle away to nothing. They work well, but they are sooo loud. I knew there had to be a better alternative.

Enter The Quietest Classroom Pencil Sharpener from Classroom Friendly Supplies. Mine came in Firehouse Red, and I had it assembled and clamped to my kitchen counter in about 2 minutes.

I'm fairly certain there are directions for using this sharpener on the website, but I was honestly able to figure it out myself without any issues.

I was even able to clean out the blade when the lead got caught (silly kids, dropping pencils all the time), which happened for me three times so far, without looking up the tutorial online. It's pretty user-friendly I'd say. I gave quick tutorials to my mom, brother, and Joel last night, making each of them try one pencil... and I'm not making it up when I say they were impressed.

As you can see from my photo, my pencils came in less-than great condition. Truth be told, these have been collected in a bin at the end of several years from my students to keep them from throwing them in the trash. I keep them in a container in my supply center so students have a fall back option when they forget their own pencils. Last year, when my students went through about 2000 pens in 2 months, I decided I wasn't buying anymore and sent them to the colored pencil bin when they didn't have a writing utensil. But.. since I refused to plug in my electric sharpener, they were all dull, making them annoying, if even possible, to use. This is where I found today's test pencils... just so you know how bad they really were!
But still... look at those tips! What a perfect sample! They probably wouldn't even be allowed through TSA... they're basically deadly weapons.

But in all seriousness, we don't use pencils (except for the colored variety) in my classroom except for during testing. But during tests, my students are soooo anal about having their pencils sharpened to the tiniest point. During the state test this year, I had to give several students upwards of 6 or 7 pencils because they kept telling me they were too dull to use. If only I had had this sharpener back then.. these points are ready to last!

August 19, 2013

IMWAYR: A Must Read

I'm very excited to be linking up with Teach Mentor Texts toady for IMWAYR because I'm LOVING the book I currently can't put down: The Storyteller by Jodi Picoult.

Let me start by saying that this is not the first Jodi Picoult book I've read, but it is the first that's actually captivated my attention from the very first chapter. I know there are a lot of die-hard Picoult fans out there that are in shock to hear this, but I really wasn't a fan until now.
This book, The Storyteller, is seriously going on my list of favorite books of all time. I should mention that I've always been fascinated with the Holocaust and pretty much devour any documentary, book, or lecture on the subject. Picoult did a fabulous job bringing the reader into the life of a Jewish girl, forced to live on the ghetto and later Auschwitz. She describes life in these miserable places with detail and emotion that make you feel like you're right there with her.

I will admit I was even interested in the backstories that went into this book. I felt empathy for Josef, the former SS Soldier seeking forgiveness for his past. And I could relate to Sage in ways that made me desperate for her to find peace within herself.

This book definitely goes on the top of my recommendation list for adults, high school, and mature middle school students. Back when I was student teaching, I had a group of students who were obsessed with anything about the Holocaust, and I found myself thinking of how much they would enjoy this book... and hoping they will or have read it themselves!

I have my next book picked out, based on my mother's suggestion, and I honestly can't wait to get my hands on it.

...but you're going to have to check back next week to hear about it!!!

August 17, 2013

B2S Tip: Put on a Fresh Face Each Day

I've mentioned about a million times how much I am NOT a morning person. This was especially rough for me last year when my morning duties started at 6:45, meaning I was arriving at school at 6:15 to get myself situated for the day.

If you've followed my blog for a while, you know that I like to get myself as ready as possible the night before. I will pack a lunch (if Joel's not doing that for me in the morning), pick out my clothes, shower, flat iron my hair, and even put on my makeup BEFORE going to bed so I can be ready in a jiffy.

I know! I know! I shouldn't wear makeup to bed. I promise I don't wear that much makeup... but I know it's still bad. I'm working on this. But the alternative, if I'm honest, is that I just don't wear any. It's usually the first thing to go from my routine if I'm in a crunch for time. That and straightening my hair.

You can pretty much tell the kind of day I'm having by my face and hair. Erin on a good day = flat ironed hair and pretty makeup. Erin on a bad day = curly hair and not a drop of mascara.

I don't know about you, but I just feel better about myself and my day if I take the time to put myself together. Which means I'm in this constant battle with time. Do I allow myself to enjoy a few extra minutes of blissful slumber, or do I drag myself out of bed and take the time to make myself look presentable?

Well, the good news, I'm learning, is that it doesn't have to be such a battle. My beautiful friend, Tricia, who has spent her recent years as an expert Benebabe, shared her secrets for the perfect 5-minute face. And seriously, if I can look like her when I'm done, I'll set my alarm 5 minutes earlier.

I'm going to try really hard to make the commitment to this 5-minute face this school year so I can start each day with confidence.

We'll see how long this lasts! ;)

August 14, 2013

Life Lessons from Ashton Kutcher

Before you ask, I did NOT watch the Teen Choice awards, but this video has been posted several times to my Facebook wall by friends who have expressed astonishment at the value of this speech. I couldn't resist taking a look myself, and you know... I think it's a FABULOUS video to share with students when they need a little extra motivation.

Here's the CliffsNotes version for those who aren't yet sold:
1. Opportunity = Hard work
2. Being sexy = Being smart, thoughtful, and generous
3. Living life = Find opportunities to build your own

August 10, 2013

How I Structure Book Clubs

I've received many questions about how I structure book clubs in my classroom, so this post is a follow up to my original post where I suggested them as reading log alternatives.

When I start my book clubs, I devote A LOT of time to it, so my students can get into the routine. As stated in my earlier post, I allow my students to choose their own groups (typically 4 because that's how many copies I try to buy of my books) and select whatever books they want to read. I know this part is hard for a lot of teachers because you have to let go of control, but I really think it's one of the most motivating factors of book clubs. Students really appreciate having complete control over what they read. (Although... you have some say since you're the one, for the most part, providing the texts.)

My students set their own reading schedules, so they are able to read at a pace that works for them. Each group filled out a bookmark where they recorded their next meeting date and reading target (either page number or chapter everyone agreed to meet). Once again, I am more concerned with making sure every student is reading consistently and let go of the control over pacing. For the most part, this works itself out because students are anxious to get to their next book choice.

In the beginning, I give my students one period (about 40 minutes) to work on their book clubs each day. They typically spread out around my room (under desks, on top of desks, whatever… I don't care as long as they're reading. My only rule is that they should be able to put their arms out and turn in a circle without hitting anyone else (to keep chatting to a minimum). 

During this time, I typically meet with two groups (20 minutes each). Each student in the group was assigned a role, similar to literature circles. I gave them completion grades for these each time I met with the group because it was their accountability, but I didn't make them actually stick to their roles during discussion time because I wanted their discussions to be authentic. Still, I think having roles (especially for younger students) gives students a good starting point because it forces them to prepare something for the discussion. 

In the beginning, my students needed more guidance from me about how to keep a conversation going for a full 20 minutes, but after a couple weeks, I was able to sit completely back and just listen to them. It was very easy to see who was reading (and by FAR, most of them were), and I only had to chime in when they weren't digging deep enough. 

We did a lot of work with the types of questions we were asking and how to thoughtfully respond to each other's ideas instead of just throwing out new questions after one person responds. For each group, we set goals together related to their reading and discussion skills, and I took annecdotal notes during their discussion days to record the progress. 

I will admit that I was concerned, at first, about how this would work with varying reading abilities, but it actually worked out well. I think they were more motivated to push themselves because they had so much choice and wanted to read what their peers were reading. I wasn't so much worried about the levels of the books (although they were all reading books from my library, so I knew the range was appropriate) because I was more interested in making sure they were invested in reading.

My students LOVED book clubs. We did it consistently for 2 months (while I used my other period to focus on writing prompts) and then had to take a break to do a district-required novel study. They were SO mad and begged to bring it back after the novel study. At Family Math Night one year, a mom asked me what I did to her son because she couldn't believe that she found him in his room reading for pleasure. It was music to my ears!!

For the sake of time, I tried to continue the book clubs without having the groups meet with me (I would teach a small group during this time instead), but I don't think the investment was there. They wanted to be able to share with me all the things they were thinking about their reading. Although I never tried it, you certainly could have all your groups meet on the same day (so you don't have to worry about distractions from the conversations) and monitor the rest of the students as you would during a reading workshop.

Speaking of reading workshop, you may want to consider adding book clubs as an option during this time. If students prefer to read independently, allow them to keep doing so, but maybe you can offer this to those who may benefit from the positive peer-pressure of a book club. They really are a really great way to motivate my reluctant readers AND my reluctant talkers. In groups of four, no one can hide in the background, and they all felt more willing to share their ideas since they were among friends.

As always, if you have further questions, please don't hesitate to leave me a comment. I always try to respond via email to open up that method of communication for when you have follow-up questions or comments as well. 

August 7, 2013

Providing Leveled Short Stories

First of all, I have to send a huge thank you to all of you who offered suggestions to my anchor chart question. I was able to get concrete advice from a number of commenters, and I definitely feel like I have a better grasp on how I can use anchor charts in my classroom. And, I must admit, I felt relieved to know that I was not alone in my confusion. Thank you to those who echoed my sentiments as well!

Today, I have a new question I want to pose... (I'm thinking this may need to be a series... maybe even a linky series (but there are already SO many of them)...because I honestly found it to helpful to ask you all share your expertise!)

Differentiation was the big buzz word when I was getting my teaching certificate. It's always on the forefront of my mind. How can I modify this for X group or student?

One of the most obvious ways I do this in my classroom is by providing leveled texts. And I don't just mean novels for independent reading or book clubs. I use short stories and articles all the time in my classroom. They are useful for guided reading, Articles of the Week, and other skills-based practice we do in the classroom because we can finish them and check for understanding during one class period.

It's easy to choose novels that are at the right levels for my students because there are websites all over that have done that work for me. I know news media is supposedly written at a seventh grade level, but that doesn't take into account the content (although, neither do Lexile levels, which is why I don't like them).

I'm really good (in my humble opinion) at providing high-interest texts, but I need a way to determine if the structure and language are appropriate for my readers.

Is there a magical formula I can use??

How do you approach this in your classroom?

August 6, 2013

Teacher Tip Tuesday - Stop Raising Your Hand!

Last weekend, Joel and I got to go to see two improv shows at the local Comedy Shrine. My sweet friend, Kristin, is one of the actors, and this was her last weekend performing before having her baby, so we had to show her some love.

On each table at the comedy club, they have one of these little (5 inches) fiber optic centerpieces that can light up with the flick of a switch. This is how you alert the wait staff that you need another drink in the middle of the show without disrupting any other guests.

The whole time we were there I kept thinking about how much fun would it be to have these in my classroom! I could use them during independent practice when students often have to wait a little bit for me to get around to them. Instead of endlessly raising their hands, they could simply turn on the light and continue working (isn't that a novel concept?!) until I make my way to their desks.

Genius! I love it!

The only downside is that they're kinda pricey. They're on Amazon for about $5 each... but you wouldn't need to have that many. Maybe one per group?

If you're fortunate enough to have some co-workers who want to go in on a set with you, you can get great prices at Light God when you buy in bulk. And, of course, I should mention that they come in a multitude of colors and designs... surely there is something that fits your classroom decor!

August 3, 2013

Seeking Anchor Chart Suggestions

I have a confession to make: I don't do anchor charts. At least not like the rest of you do, according to Pinterest.

I have seen some super creative and super helpful anchor charts since, and it makes me want to take the plunge. But... I have a few questions/concerns with which I need your help first!

First of all, the OCD in me has a lot of anxiety about making and displaying charts without carefully planning out the use of space, wording, and images. I know that you're supposed to create these with your students, but I know myself enough to know that it will drive me crazy to see crooked lettering, awkward use of space, redundant wording, etc.

Also, what do you middle school teachers do about the fact that you have multiple classes with which you need to make the same(ish) chart? Do you seriously create a different chart with each class? I know you're not supposed to re-use an old chart because you want the students to have ownership of that information... but I'm supposed to do that 3 times a day? That seems like a waste of expensive chart paper!

Finally, how do you display the ever-growing library of anchor charts in your classroom? If it's important enough to make into an anchor chart (as opposed to simply putting it in our Interactive Notebooks), I'm assuming this is stuff we're going to use for more than just a week or two. I imagine my walls can get very cluttered very fast, and this also gives me anxiety.

The best solution I can come up with is to create digital anchor charts with each of my classes separately on the SMARTboard (assuming, of course, that I will have one in my next classroom), and then I can consolidate and transfer the information to chart paper at the end of the day. Is that insane?

I need your advice!

How do you, especially you middle school teachers, tackle anchor charts?

August 2, 2013

Currently... Late!

Note to self: the ONE day you don't check the computer will be the day Currently posts, leaving you far behind the curve... again! Good thing I was early with my submission last month!

Listening - I'm listening to the book Wonder by RJ Palico on Audbile. It's one of my favorite things to do while I clean, drive, or play on the computer. I just can't start reading anything... cuz I can't think while I listen without losing the story. So far... I have to be honest, I'm not in love with this book like everyone else. It's just okay. I definitely see how it would be beneficial for teaching empathy and point of view. Maybe I need to just keep listening?

Loving - I've been able to spend some quality time with some of my girls in the past week, and I have LOVED every second of it. It reminds me how great it is to be back home with people who care about me. Twice now, I've gone to a friend's house in the morning and stayed until past dinner! It's so great to be able to catch up!

Thinking - Today is my beautiful grandma's birthday. I miss her more than I can say. I wear her ring                                                                      every day and think of her every time I catch of glimpse of it on my finger. My mom and sister are planning a baking day in her honor.

Wanting - Oh, these grey hairs needs to be colored... desperately! I haven't had my hair done since March... and I was getting so good about being consistent about it. Part of my problem is that I miss my stylist in Baton Rouge. He was the best!! I'm vowing to make an appointment today!

Needing - I still haven't found a job. Cross your fingers AND toes that something comes up before the school year starts! Cuz I still have no clue what else I'll do.

Back 2 School Must Haves:
1. Interactive Notebooks (and this FABULOUS resource from Erin at I'm Lovin' Lit. And even though I don't have this one yet, I'm POSITIVE it's equally as awesome! Seriously... if you haven't grabbed these yet... do it... now!)
2. Flair pens are my favorite!
3. Iced coffee. I don't care where it comes from... Dunkin' Donuts, McDonald's, International Delight... whatever. I just know I will need that caffeine to wake me up before dawn once school starts!