Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Summer Reading Linky Party!

I love to read.  I read every night.  Like a crazy amount.  I will easily forgo sleep in order to finish a new book...which is fine until I have to wake up with my littles! LOL!

When I saw the link up at Lucky to Be in First, I knew I had to join in on the fun!
Here are a few of the books I have read recently and love!  These are my top picks! It was actually hard to choose!

  • Angel Fall by Susan Ee- SO good!  This is actually a trilogy and I read them all!
  • An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir- Wow!  This is a new book that will be a series.  I was hesitant to read it because the author is relatively unknown...but I am on pins and needles waiting for the next book now!
  • The Many Lives & Secret Sorrows of Josephine B. by Sandra Gulland - I am not a huge fan of historical fiction, or the French Revolution, or even Napoleon, but THIS book, ya'll!  Oh my word!  SO good. Josephine is fascinating in this book.  I had no idea how interesting she was.  You totally get sucked into her world.  The book is pricey, but worth every penny.
  • The Beautiful and The Cursed- By Page Morgan- This is another trilogy ( I am seeing a pattern here). I loved this book.  It is a little dark and Gothic, which normally does not interest me.  The story line was inventive though!  I totally pre-ordered the rest of the trilogy, which are now all available.
I don't generally keep  to read list, which is kinda of odd for someone who loves books as much as I do.  I guess I read too fast before moving on to the next book! Here are a few I do want to read!

  • House of Ivy and Sorrow interested me.  It was on my Amazon Recommends list and I liked the cover.  I am a magpie for interesting! LOL!
  • Guided Math by Laney Sammons- I think I may have read this book awhile back, but I am doing some presentations on Guided Math and wanted to brush up on the research for the framework.
  • The Last Great Dance on Earth- This is the last book in the Josephine trilogy from above.  I am in the middle of the second one right now and can't wait to see how her life plays out!

That is what I am reading right now!  Want to link up?  Go hop over to Lucky to Be in First and join in on the fun!


Monday, June 22, 2015

Favorite Pins of the Week!

I love browsing through Pinterest.  I wish a had a few more hours in the day to browse AND actually MAKE the stuff I pin! LOL!  I am beginning tot think that Pinterest is my "someday" board!

These pins really jumped out at me this week.

***Please do NOT pin these pins directly from my blog (since they aren't mine!).  Please click on the the picture and pin from there or the direct link.  Let's give credit where credit is due please :)!***

Whenever Miss DeCarbo speaks, I listen!  Her ideas are always so pretty AND practical!  Love her binder set up!  It is similar to my own, but I LOVE the groups page pictured above. So smart for flexible grouping!

This desk planner is brilliant!  However, I don't think I would laminate it.  I know I would smear it and cry!  Or even worse drag my hand over it and erase all my important meetings! LOL!  But it is all on one page, so printing one hard copy page a month wouldn't break the bank!

I love the book Ish.  I actually used it as a mentor text when we began writing workshop.  This post has some great ideas for all three of the books- and I didn't even know about the last book!  Love!

Isn't this hall display adorable?!?!? Love the quote!  AND it would be super easy to change out!

Love this word family map.  This would be really great when teaching kids to spell by generalizing at the beginning of the year!

This is a high school teacher, BUT any teacher could use items from this list.  A great basic, stock up list.  It would be perfect for a new teacher!

Last, but not least, this is actually a pin from MY blog!

This is actually one of my most popular posts ever!  It is all about cheap and easy bulletin boards!

Find anything good on Pinterest lately? Happy pinning!

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Teachers Prepping Teachers Workshop

Hello friends! I am so excited to share my next adventure with you!! 

I teased this little picture awhile back on Facebook!

Now it is time to spill the beans!

I am teaming up to prepare you for the best school year ever! Amanda from Collaboration Cuties, Jessica from Ideas by Jivey, and I have collaborated to bring you a day filled with three awesome sessions to enhance the core subjects in your classroom! We selected very current, high interest topics with LOTS of buzzwords to make you feel more comfy starting back to school!

This session will take place at Chattahoochee Tech in Marietta, Georgia. It will be a fun-filled, full-day session (9:00 AM-4:30 PM) with a lunch break. When you register, you can order a Firehouse boxed lunch for a few extra dollars, or you can bring your own lunch. It's your choice! Please buy your box lunch ticket by July 21 if you want the Firehouse lunch!
We will have some awesome swag for everyone who attends, fun giveaways, and of course, super-informative sessions that will get you in the perfect mind-set to get your school year started off on the right foot! There will also be discounts offered on our products the day of the workshop!

Ready to register?
Prices will go up July 5th,
so make sure to sign up to get the early bird discount!

Space is limited so make sure to register as soon as possible! 

We are so excited to get you prepared for your new school year! We hope to see you there!

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Make Over Madness: Week One Challenge

I am thrilled to be taking part in the TpT Seller's Challenge hosted by these awesome ladies!

What a creative way to  get myself focused and organized?!?!?!

One of the first things they asked us to post was our stats.  I decided a long time ago that I would only focus on a few social media outlets.  Twitter and Instagram are great, but it is just too much for me to handle (when you toss in things like family and kids! LOL).

So, my Instagram and Twitter look super sad! I am okay with that.  I am just trying to build up the rest!  I have been blogging and TpT-ing for about 4 years now (I think), so it a slow and steady process.

When I saw the first challenge was a make over, I was thrilled.  I have SO MANY old products that make me cringe.  From cover design to font choices, some of my products needed some serious love!

I knew I had to work on my tic-tac-toe series.  They look so sad!

See, isn't it sad?  This was one of the first games I ever posted (and it shows). I even made the game in Word, rather than Power Point (on the horror!). The game uses word problem cards.  Students create a tic-tac-toe board using the cards and then solve the word problems to play.  It is a great idea, but  there were only 9 cards.  So, once the kids played the game...they answered all the questions and were done.  Boo for a game that can only be played once!

I updated the cover, cards, and fonts to match and be more stylish.  

I also added 9 more word problem cards to give students a chance to play the game more than once.  The game now has 18 word problems! Finally, I also included a recording sheet if students need to provide evidence during math centers. I even made the cards easier for the teacher to make!

I am SO glad I got this done!  I am now actually working on updating ALL the tic-tac-toe games in this series!  Area is almost ready to post!

Thank you so much, ladies for creating the TpT Sellers Challenge!  I am loving this!

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Getting Organized: Blog Edition

Even though I am no longer in the classroom, summer still seems to be my "catch up" season.  I have no idea why, truly.  But I am TOTALLY embracing it! One area I am working to improve is this poor little neglected blog. How am I getting it all organized? I have a plan!

I try to use a lot of graphics in my posts- even when I don't have photos. That is just a personal preference, really.  I am a highly visual person and I like text to be broken up with pretty pictures. Unless it is a trashy romance.  Then, I don't need any visuals, just the trashy words please! Because, um...

Yes. So ...moving on!

I like to get the stock photos that I use from Dollar Photo Club.  The images are actually $1 each, which is pretty cheap for stock photography.

There are tons of choices, too.  To make the actual buttons, I cheat :).  I just make them in power point.  Then, I save the entire file as a png and insert them in to the blog post as images!  Boom! #lazygirl

This is a snapshot of the images from this post when I was creating them in powerpoint.  Crazy right?

Hello!  Favorite teacher word!  FREE and it's cousin, FREEBIE!  When I blog I try to include freebies as much as possible.  I like them when I read, so I figure you might, too. The problem with freebies?  Ugh, keeping them organized.  

I have freebies that I would love to actually go back and use, BUT I CAN'T FIND THEM.  How sad is that?  My computer is so full of my junk that even using the search feature doesn't always cut it. 

So, to make sure I can find my stuff  I added a new folder.

You see it among all my thousands of other folders?  It is my "to blog about" folder.  If I have images I want to blog about, I can just go ahead and drop them in there so they don't get lost.  When I am short on ideas, I can also go look through the folder to see if there are any ideas I have't blogged about yet in there!

I create a folder on each blog topic. 

Then, any images, power point files, or freebies are saved in the file.  So, if i want to find a freebie that is about Christmas parties (like my parent letter), I can just find my Christmas party blog post folder and there it is!

I didn't start this until about a year ago, so many of my files from older posts are just a hot, hot mess.  I wish I had done this from the start!  SO much easier to find things!

Right now, my goal is to get better about planning ahead.  I want to start doing tasks in "batches." For example, sit down and knock out several blog posts, schedule Facebook posts, or create products.  Right now I just skip around like a crazy lady.  And it shows.  I have about 4 unfinished products right now and my Facebook posts (in my opinion) have been real hit or miss as far as getting things out. Did I mention that summer is my down time? LOL!

I created a blog and TpT planner to get myself organized.

I may be biased, but so far I am in love!

It has tons of stuff in it to keep me on track.

It has a separate file included with just a tour on how to use the planner and assemble it if you want to buy just the digital file.  

The planner  contains the following pages:

• A cover and back page
• log in/ passwords page
• monthly goals page
• notes and sketch page for each month

There is a 2 page spread for each month.

The left side of the spread has a place for linky party information, giveaway information, an area to record TpT product ideas, social media stats for the month, and a to do list.

The right side of the spread is a month calendar. The calendar has four check boxes per day to mark off scheduled Facebook posts, a check box for a blog post, and a place to record the number of pins pinned per day. The notes include any special holidays or school events, such as Red Ribbon Week, to help plan blog posts in advance.

You can see I am already breaking mine in above!  I am LOVING it!

I also included a bunch of extras! I have already referred to and used mine!

The extras include:

• 2 pages of ideas for possible blog posts
• A blank page to record blog post ideas
• 3 pages of possible ideas for a monthly newsletter
• 3 pages of a Teachers Pay Teachers Data at a Glance
• 2015 Reflections

You can snag your own digital copy for $6 here.  If you want yours to look like mine (pictured) I am also shipping them as a hard good for the first time ever! It costs only $18 and shipping is FREE! Click here to order one!  Please order soon- I only have a limited quantity!

I am thrilled to be linking up with Meghan over at Keeping Up with Mrs. Harris for Plan with Me Sunday! Hop on over to check it out!

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Organizing Paper Work

 I don't know about you, but I was always so on top of my paper work. Every paper was neatly filed and I could put my hands on anything and everything in two seconds.

Or not.

Let's go with not.

I put a lot of effort into being organized, but most of the time I felt like this:

Cough, cough, sniff, sniff.  I must be sick :).

So, it may seem ironic that I am sharing organization tips on the dreaded paperwork.  However, did find a few handy tricks over the years. I am also THRILLED to be linking up at the FIRST EVER linky party over at the Primary Peach.  Make sure to go link up, too!

I know that some people love having a desk and others loathe it. I have tried it both ways ( I am a wild and crazy girl).  I even blogged about it here.  Ultimately, I decided I needed desk space, if nothing else to hold my laptop away from the wee' tots.

It was mostly organized, minus the large stack on the left side.  See that?  Pretend that is not there.  Truthfully, it was ALWAYS there.  It is hard to totally rehabilitate a piler like me!

I love these stackers.  I used them all the time for just about everything.  I collected them over the years and had tons. They aren't cheap to start with, but I also "inherited" some over the years as teachers retired.

Personally, I preferred to organize my papers by subject area.  That way, if something happened (and let's face it, something ALWAYS happens) If didn't have to shift any of the stuff until the next day. Since it was still a reading activity, it stayed in the reading slot. Much easier for this lazy girl :).

I used these plastic drawers for frequently used papers.  If there were copies we didn't end up using, I filed them in the drawer by subject area.  These were VERY handy if I needed something (like unexpected sub plans for a neighbor) fast.

They are pricey on Amazon, but I always found them much cheaper at Big Lots or Wal-Mart.

My last tip is my favorite.

Another set of my beloved stackers.

These were so helpful when it came to returning paper work or making copies for the week.  It kept it all in one place and was easy to check as I walked out the door!

Do you have any helpful organization tips?  We would love for you to link up! Check out more ideas and link up here!

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

The Summer Balance

I love summer.  I always have and hope I always will.  I was born in June and we have tons of birthdays in my family during the summer.  In my mind, it is just a time full of relaxing and celebrating.

However, I loved teaching, too, and sometimes balancing my love of both was difficult! Crazy, right?

Does your mind race with new and fresh teaching ideas now that you are off?  Do you want to get into your classroom and TOTALLY reorganized...something? Yeah, well.  That was me!

So, how can you embrace your freedom and summer and time to renew with your desire to improve?

First things first.  This technically IS your "vacation." Your time to renew yourself.  Embrace it.

My definition of relaxing before kids and after kids during the summer time is a *bit* different.  A potty break all by myself now?  Heaven! But take time to do the things you love.  I love reading. I read all year long, but I reallllly read in the summer! 

Here are a few of my favorites- in no particular order.   I am terrible at deciding favorites!

I tend to like YA books with a paranormal twist.  I read other stuff, too I promise!

Whatever you do, take the time to do what you love. There is no better time than today.

After you got all that relaxing in, take some time to reflect. What do you want to do differently next year?  There are a MILLION and one ways to improve and change your teaching each year.  I NEVER did things exactly the same each year.  I don't think it was even possible to do it the same with my DNA make up!  I thrive on change and improvement. What are some things you could try next year?

Whole Brain Teaching
Interactive Notebooks
Reading Workshop
Literature Circles
Social Studies Simulations
New Science Experiments
Reorganize the Classroom Library
Mentor Texts
Genius Hour

The list goes on and on.  Where do you want to get better?

I am a list maker.  It helps me to dump everything in my brain on paper.  It helps me sleep at night, honestly!

Theresa from True Life I'm a Teacher shared these awesome to do lists when we started out collaborative blog.

They are perfect for a summer "brain dump." Click on the picture to download them from her blog FREE!!  Yahoo!

Sit down and write all of the things your would like to tackle for the next year. Scribble down all the stuff you want to accomplish this summer.  I remember years when my lists was pages long.  For real.  Some of it was little things like check out a book from the library and others were huge.  Like reorganize the classroom library.  Eek!

Look at your list and pick out your top three.  Yeah.  Just trying to keep it real.  I never accomplished more than three big projects over the summer- and that was before kids!

I always felt that the things you could do that impacted your day to day life in the classroom were the ones to choose.

Like creating a teacher binder, reorganizing the classroom library,  or creating long range plans.

Amanda Madden at Teaching Maddeness did an amazing series on writing unit lesson plans that included long range planning.  I love her approach.  It is a must read in my book!

After figuring out your top three things you want to work on, create a plan on want you will need to do to achieve them.  Create labels or materials?  Read professional books and blogs? Physically go into the classroom and work?

If you keep a realistic list of your goals, then completing them is so much sweeter (says the girl who always had an unfinished list that was two miles long!).

What do you do during the summer? All work?  All play? Or a bit of both?