Sunday, June 30, 2013

Teaching Blog Burnout


I'm not sure why, but blogging is making me all anxious this summer.  I feel like there is so much to keep up with and it is taking up so much time. I always feel the pressure of time during the summer - there is so precious little of it!

I had all these great intentions to do several different book studies. I fell off that wagon pretty quickly. I guess I just want to enjoy summer without thinking about work and I can't concentrate on a professional book for anything! 

Lately my Bloglovin que is filled with Linkys (which I love - too much!) reminders about google reader and new products that I think I "really" need but just can afford right now. I have hundreds of posts to read! 

All of this and the feeling that I need to constantly grow my blog and TPT store is stressing me out big time and it's supposed to be summer! 

I think I might take a break from blogging, or at least blogging about school things for a while.  I am in shellshock from the year and in a professional funk. I think I need to distress and not think about work for a while so I don't add to the burn out.

I guess what I'm saying is that blogging is a lot of pressure. The are some many "rules", you're constantly competing with the number of blogs popping up everyday, and the need to keep up with commenting with everyone and writing posts is just too much some times. 

I might pop in now and then or post about something more life related, but I really just want to let go of the pressure for a while and get up from my computer/iPad and do something real!

How do you deal with the challenge of keeping up with the blogging world? 

Friday, June 28, 2013

Five For Friday and Teacher Dollar Days Linkys!


Ready for a little 5 for Friday with Doodle Bugs Teaching? I think I am!  I am feeling a little random, but beware!  I have been having an awful time with technology this week!

I have been done with school since last Friday and I’m not sure I am ready to do anything constructive yet.  I jumped into summer after moving my entire classroom  my myself. without boxes and then started to tackle long neglected projects at home.  Then I burned out!  It has been super muggy and humid here in NY and I just can’t stand it.  Today it is cooler and raining – which I actually love after all the humidity.  I have so many ideas and projects whirling my my mind that I don’t even know where to begin and I’m not sure I want to!

1. Linky Parties

There are so many linkies going on right now that my head is spinning! First, I'm joining with A Teacher Without a Class for a Dollar Days linky!

A Teacher without a Class

I am getting ready to begin a “no buy” summer, so I am not sure if I will be able to link up too often. (If you haven’t heard of a no buy month, it’s literally a month where you do not buy anything. Crazy, but I want to save up for tuition this fall!)

I stumbled across these adorable packages of wooden items and characters at Michaels a few weeks ago. There are 4 items in a package and they cost 99 cents a package.  They are in the wood section. Add on your 15% teacher discount and it is a pretty good deal for a new and motivating writing center! My students went crazy over them!  You would have thought they were scratch and sniff or something!  I put them is a

little tin and they were squirreling the cutouts away in their desks

I created a little writing page for the students to record the three items they choose with a describing word to include in their writing.  Pick it up at my TPT Store for free if you are interested.


imageimage image

Link up and share some great (and cheap) finds!

2. Posts App

A blogger (I’m sorry, but I don’t remember who – sorry!) talked recently about Posts, an app for iPad that allows you to post to your blog.  I have been trying it out and it is great!  I’m notable to do everything I can do on Live Writer, but it is really easy to use and has many features that are similar to other iPad apps.  I have been using it for the more simple posts. It is sooo much better for posting than the Blogger App. 

Check out Posts in the app store.


3. BlogLovin’ App

I am also loving the BlogLovin' App for iPad!  Again, it is very easy to use and very similar to the computer version, so that makes it easy to switch back and forth.  Don’t forget to follow on BlogLovin’!


Also – don’t forget to follow on Bloglovin’! Click below to follow!Follow on Bloglovin

4. Chobani Bandwagon

Yes, I finally bought Chobani.  I have resisted, thinking it was a fad, but my local grocery store had a great sale and I picked 10 containers up.  I think I am liking it!  I am not a big fan of the passion fruit flavor – I’m not sure I like chewing on seeds when eating yogurt.  There are some really great flavors and I love adding our honey to a container.  I’m just not sure I can justify the price. Plus, my husband’s dairy company now makes yogurt and  am feeling like I need to support the family business

5. Summer Shopping Spree!

As I had mentioned above, I am going to try very hard not to buy anything new in July and August. I had to have one last little shopping spree before shutting it down!  I justify this by saying that I just got rid of a ton of clothes at a consignment shop.  My style is changing and it has been easy to get rid of a bunch of things!

First, I had a bunch of really pretty a-line skirts, but I am loving the pencil skirt and maxi skirt tends. So, I bought 2 maxi skirts at JCPenny

DP0430201318215529Ca.n.a® Foldover Maxi Skirt

I have loved the sheer sleeveless blouse trend on fashion blogs.  I think I could wear these to work with a tank top underneath and they would look cute under a jackets.

I still love my heels, but have been into the flat trend lately and I can’t live without good pair of wedge sandals.  These are from Payless and have a nice amount of cushion. I’m still on the lookout for the perfect pair of mint colored flats, but I can’t seem to find a pair that is at my price limit.


Oh, how I love Maurice's!  I find I am wearing so many things I bought there!  I bought white jeggings and a plaid button-down on the clearance rack. I have really jumped into he skinny jeans trend after a few years  I think these jeans will be good for cooler days and the plaid shirt will work in summer if I roll up the sleeves.  I also found a great statement necklace and earrings on sale.

imageBlack Gem Statement Necklace - maurices.comFiligree Drop Earrings -

I know it seems like a lot of items, but I think I spent around $150 dollars and I think they are all versatile items. And, yes, this is how I have spent my summer vacay so far!  Hopefully I can get myself going after resting a bit more this weekend!

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Books, Books, Books: Read to Self and Book Organization

I am thrilled to link up with Cara at The First Grade Parade for a Throwback Thursday Linky Party!

This is a post from December 2011!  It focuses on how I organize Read to Self.

I recently changed out my student book boxes because they were taking up sooo much room. I am trying to open up the room a bit and to consolidate some materials.  I went back to my old magazine file boxes.  My kiddos last year actually preferred them to the plastic baskets. I labeled the back with “Book Box” and put their names on the front.  I ordered them from an educational catalog, but can’t remember which one.  The fronts look similar to the second picture.  I have had this set for 5 years and they have held up pretty well.  They will probably be retired after this year.  I wish I live near an IKEA to pick up some of their beautiful boxes.  They would be cheap enough for the students to get their own to decorate. 


A teacher I worked with had the kids bring in a cereal box to decorate and use for a book boxes.  I am just way to OCD about how things look and want the boxes to be all neat and the same size.

In their boxes they have 5 just right (leveled books) and 2 library books.  They change them out as part of their read to self center every Monday.  They also have their journals, school magazines, and when I did poetry journals, they put those in here too. 



Click on the picture above to find out more about my leveled books.

My students take book bags home every night with their reading log, sight word ring (when I get around to doing them), spelling notebook, and a nightly book from their guided reading group.  When the kids come in, they store their book bags in the baskets on the shelf.  The baskets are labeled with the group colors.  When it is time for a group, the kids grab their bags and come to the table.

P1010111 P1010133P1010110

This is the shelf behind my reading table (on my beautiful contact papered counter!).  The basket on the top shelf is for the extra books from the guided reading sets.  When the students bring their bags back, they hand in their old book and I fish out the set from the basket.  They are rubber banded together and put in a basket by the door for a helper to return to the library.  Our library has a pretty amazing book room and our sets are checked out and returned there.  I check out about a week’s worth of books at a time.  Usually I check out on Friday – I know most people just want to go home, but it is when I get jazzed up about the next week.

The barrel holds my reading buddies.  They are mini beanie babies that I bought in a lot on Ebay.  For a few bucks, my kids have a buddy to do a second reading with.  I rarely have complaints about rereading a book because of these little guys. 

The chimes signal a switch in centers. The four containers hold the books for the groups to read. 

P1010096 P1010095

I have an acrylic sign frame thingy next to them that I   use as a table-top easel during groups.  On the end of the bottom shelf, is my running record binder. I keep track of students conferences and pieces of assessment in there, including sight words. It is a system that has worked pretty well for me. The blue boxy thing next to the white shelf is where I keep any response sheets or game that I want to use in groups that week.

On another note, I am dying to make two purchases for my classroom.  I just need to really justify them to myself!  I saw these on two  blogs and decided they needed to be in my classroom!  Merry Christmas to me!

Product Details

(I bought these two items!  The Talk Spots were soooo worth it!  The story cubes are okay.  I actually created some story dice that my students enjoy way more – they are cute and colorful.  Visit my TPT to check them out!)medium-643297-1Story Dice Center

Building Mathematical Comprehension–Chapter 4

Chapter 4

Increasing Comprehension By Asking Questions

I am one of the bloggers hosting! So excited!

I guess this post is more of a reflection on the specific topics/concepts the author develops.  Since I am moving to a new grade, I am rethinking how I teach math and how to apply some of these ideas in second grade.

I was really interested in this chapter because my district advocates for an Inquiry Based Teaching Method.  However, I am finding, at least at this point with the CORE Standards and a new math series, we are not as focused on inquiry .  In the last year we have really implemented the CORE full time and the focus was overwhelmingly on building basic fact fluency and content skills. In the long run, I think my students struggled with applying content to problem solving requirements on the state test.  I know that I want to work more on applying the content next year.

We \split our students across the grad level into more heterogeneous classes fro math and we have 55 minutes a day.  It has drastically changed the way I teach because I only have these students for 55 minutes and most of them are not in my homeroom. It puts a lot of pressure on to use the time wisely and efficiently.  It does not promote inquiry based teaching and that is really disappointing to me. I think some of the ideas in this book will really help me to make math more connected to the rest of the day for the kids, despite the fact that we form different classes for this subject.

Here are the concepts presented and my reflections:

Math as a Social Process

On page 119, Laney Sammons refers to math as a “social process”.  I guess I have never seen math as a social process. I think I do need to have my students interact with each other more frequently during math.  Maybe next year, since I  will not be in a testing grade, I will be able to have a little bit of freedom to mix it up.

Asking questions before, during, and after working with a math problem. 

Of course I think of this in reading, but not in math.  It refines what I had been trying to do with my students this year and will help me support my students in developing thinking skills in math with more consistency. 

Asking Questions Before Working to:

  • Activate Prior Knowledge
  • Develop problem solving strategies

Asking Questions During Working to:

  • Determining missing information

Asking Questions After Working:

  • Determining if an answer makes sense
  • If the problem has been solved

Reasons to Ask Questions in Math

I like the idea of brainstorming reasons for asking questions during math – page121-124. This would be a great chart to kick of the year in math next year.


I also love the QAR reference! I think this would be really helpful to teach students for supporting problem solving, especially when approaching word problems.

Right There:

  • Conceptual Questions - Using resources
  • Problem-solving Questions - Information from the problem

Think and Search

  • Reasons for using/learning concept
  • Gathering information to solve the problem.

On my own

  • How to use in real life
  • Determining strategies and if a solution works

Thick an Thin Questions

Quick answer versus “Why” questions - I think teaching students the difference between computation type questions and more concept based questions would be really helpful.  This would also help students to make more connections between what they are learning and to reflect on their thinking when problem solving.

Strategy Sessions

The idea of teaching small groups was a goal of my last year, but I never felt like I had the time. This will be a goal for me next year.

Wonder Walls

I use this idea in the other content areas, but need to open up my thinking to use it in math.  I can see having a wonder wall and giving my students post-its to add as class ends.

"What’s the Question"

Again, another great idea!  I think that teaching students how to create questions given a specific set of ideas or perimeters would really support test-taking skills.  If they learn to be in control of creating questions to answer, the kids may better understand how to approach a question on an assessment.

I created a little freebie with 2 general posters, 2 strategy posters, and student bookmarks.  I think they will be helpful for my students next year.  Leap on over to my Teachers Pay Teachers site for your download!



Check out my co-hosts at these lovely blogs!

Curls and a Smile

Also – don’t forget to follow on Bloglovin’! Click below to follow!Follow on Bloglovin

Monday, June 24, 2013

Most Wishlisted Product

Classroom Confections is having a Most Wishlisted Linky! My most wishlisted item is my poetry cards for centers. 

I am a big believer in centers that run themselves.  I used to spend hours every weekend revamping and setting up my centers and then I realized I was putting my energy into things that were not as necessary as planning for strong instruction. 

So, given the new CORE standards for ELA, I created this poetry pack for an easy center.  Simply print, laminate, and tuck in a pocket chart or a quick but meaningful center that requires less than a minute to change up every week!

(I know it has the name and address of my old blog on it, but after my disastrous incident with my jump drive, I can’t update it right now.  Don’t let it fool you!)

Click on the image for 10% off of this item and everything else in my store! 


Here are some of the comments:

“Such a great way to incorporate poetry into the classroom daily! Thanks!”

“I used this successfully for my poetry unit.”

“These were so helpful for getting my kiddo's thinking. Being colorful and easy to read made it not even seem like work!”

Picture Book Linky Party

Oh how I love books!  I use them to kick of everything I teach.  I have many back to school favorites!  First Grade and Fabulous is hosting a linky all about books we use at the beginning of the year.

We read a lot of character ed. books this year and I found a new favorite author!  Her name is Julia Cook.  She writes the funniest books that address real classroom issues that we all deal with.  My kids responded really well to her books and started using some of the lingo to politely tell other kids what was an issue. Here are a few we really loved!


“My Mouth is a Volcano” and “Personal Space Camp” were particularly helpful this year. I also really liked:

Here are my favorite books for the beginning of the year!

I like using the Black Lagoon series to break the ice and talk about the jitters we all have.  Plus, the teacher and I have the same name, so I went through the book and colored her hair brown!  (Shh! Don’t tell!) First Day Jitters is a favorite from first grade!

Miss Nelson is the perfect book for brainstorming rules.  I stop at the point when the kids are wild and have the kids brainstorm rules to help in the class in small groups.  Then we come back and finish the book.  We make a giant list of all the rules and I color code them as we brainstorm. The color code follows my classroom rules: Be Respectful, Be Responsible, Be Kind and Be Safe – all of the kids rules fit somewhere in these four! I plan to make my banners inspired by The Inspired Apple with my class this year.


These books are great for talking about listening rules.

Great books for beginning a discussion about what we like to read and introducing the classroom library.

Great books for introducing book nooks and reading workshop/Daily 5

I love reading the Library Dragon to talk about how to treat books and behave during reading workshop.

Love this book for talking about being ourselves!


I discovered these books last year when I read about them on a few blogs.  I like using them to talk about bullying and how we are going to treat each other in class.

And, of course, the Bucket books are great for beginning the year. I am going to add The Seven Habits of Happy Kids this year.

Well, those are just a “few” of my favroites1\. I can’t wait to find more!