Friday, September 5, 2014

Close Reading is Cooler with Transparencies!!

This is just a quickie little post to show all of you who are in the same situation my grade level is in...well, our entire district really.  You see, this is the first year where we are FULLY implementing Common Core in our classrooms.  In my grade level team's case we were using some of the standards last year to get started despite having to also teach state standards for our district benchmark tests and our state's standardized test.  So, we already had a jumpstart...BUT, and this is a big but...we are really beginning to experiment with ways to stick to our district's adopted curriculum while holding strong to Close Reading.

We came up with the idea to make shrunken down copies of each of our basal stories...but our district's Print Shop had to start charging this year and we can't afford to do it. Waaaaah!  So...being teachers and all (AKA being used to figuring out how to be frugal and successful) we decided to order boxes of transparencies and use white board markers!!  Funny students seemed to think this was the bee's knees and were very enthusiastic.  They delved right in!

Today was the first day we tried this in our classroom.  We were working on finding interactions between concepts and ideas (a Common Core Standard we are all struggling with...but it seems very similar to cause and effect).  So they were trying to scope out some of those interactions between text events.  My kids are still learning how to annotate and so this in no way shows exactly how it should be done.  I am finding my kids are not used to citing evidence...le sigh...and so they are having a rough time annotating too much or not enough.  We will get there soon!

And just because...we used GoNoodle for the first time this school year.  It went so much more smoothly than last school year when our wifi was insanely bad and our videos would freeze a couple seconds in to the brain break.  My students are already HUGE fans and were pretty darn good at you can see in the photo.  Ha!

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Currently September

It's been awhile since I coveted Currently on my blog and now is about time!  With the coming of September, this means I have already been in school for a month...whaaaaaaa?!  We finished our 4th week of school this past Friday and it already feels overwhelming.  There are so many new things we have to do this year (when do we not have to take on 20 more things though) and most of them are truly going to make a difference in our it's exciting while stressful at the same time. But at the same time, I am trying to adjust and return back to normal in my personal life too and that is proving to be quite difficult.  After my rough year this past school year, I refused to have the same issues and so 90% of my energy has gone towards ensuring this school year doesn't turn sour...and that other 10% is having trouble finding its way back.  Slowly but surely.


We are settled in for the night after being out all day on our much needed date day.  So, this means one of our three kitties is sleeping soundly between the two of us on the couch.  The UFC fight was a PayPer View fight and we couldn't watch it till, both of us didn't really want to see it badly enough because the main card was changed when one of the fighters didn't make weight and had to drop out.  I may be speaking Japanese to some out there at this point...but we enjoy it!  :-)


I've said this a ton to so many friends and on Facebook in the last few weeks.  But it really is nice to be a teacher since we get to start all over each school year.  This means we can take the time to figure out what to change, improve on, or keep the same each summer.  I learned from situations last year (on my part and my environment's part) and so this school year is much much different because of that time I was able to reflect and regroup.


I posted this on Facebook yesterday...

Sure I could do some swimming or barbecuing tomorrow...but I have a HUGE to-do list of things I haven't been able to get done in the last couple weeks.  In fact, my hubby came to my classroom with me today (on a Sunday) to help me scan and put away about 50-60 new library books that have been sitting at the back of my classroom since the week before school started.  Sigh.  This is the life we lead.  


So speaking of which, wouldn't it be nice to have a 3-day weekend every week?  How many of us say this every time we have a 3-day weekend though.  


Only educators could really understand the enormity of how hard it is to readjust to life with a paycheck again.  The first couple months are always a time to play catch up.  That is all I really have to say about that.  Know what I mean?

3 Trips

I've been lucky to do a lot of traveling, when I was younger, so my list probably looks different than most.  On the other hand, it was really hard to pick just 3 places because I was bit by the travel bug a long long long time ago.  Out of the 10 countries I've visited in Europe, I'd love to go back to every single one of them.  But I didn't get to visit Spain on my two trips to Europe in my 20s, so that is a place I definitely want to go some day.  My hubby, the pitmaster, has been to Austin, Texas a couple times and there are so many cool places I want to be able to go...including several of the famous BBQ spots like Franklin's.  Enough said there.  I have been to France, but didn't really enjoy Paris at all. But I would absolutely love to go to the Riviera to hit up the awesome beaches and scenery.

Join up with Farley and a ton of other teachers for a Currently linky party here.

The Obsession Continues...Fabletics is Here to Stay!

It has been a busy busy summer and couple months as I got back into the swing of work/school. So, I have a ton of outfits and pics to share that I haven't been able to blog about...but I'm slowly getting back to my little ol' blog here.  I would blush out of embarrassment, but there's no need!  I'm still motivated to head to the gym and there's no doubt it's because of my Fabletics obsession.

Back in May and June, I posted all about Fabletics!  Well, the obsession is still going strong and I have ordered something (sometimes more than one outfit) every single month since then.  Going to the gym now feels effortless and I seriously still love putting different pieces together from different outfits...just like I do with every thing else in my everyday and work wear parts of my closet.  Oh and I've now become one of THOSE people who wear my gym gear outside of workouts!  I never ever thought I'd be that person, but it is hard not to leave everything on because it is so dang comfortable and flattering.  I catch people giving me side glances or double-takes and looking when I walk in the gym and even fellow class-goers have complimented many of the pieces (including my Pilates instructor).  In fact, I've now changed a flat tire and worked in my sweaty humid classroom over the summer in my Fabletics.  Ha!

In case you aren't familiar with's a quick rundown for ya.

  • Monthly VIP membership for VIP prices or just purchase as a regular customer at a regular low cost.
  • Your first 2-piece outfit is only $29.95...50% off the regular price!  Here's mine in case you'd like to see an example of what you get to buy as an intro to such an awesome brand.
  • Complete 2-piece outfits for $49.95 and a customized boutique for you - take a stylized quiz for the types of workouts you love and your needs too
  • Skip if you don't want to purchase by the 5th of the month or you can choose to get charged and earn yourself a credit for another month or a time when you'd like to purchase.
  • New collections and items are released the first of every month!
  • Competitive quality and fit with companies like Lululemon and Nike but with much more affordable prices!
  • Accessories like headbands, socks, hats, yoga mats, and gym bags are also available!  (I own the headbands, a gym bag, and a pair of the yoga socks...and I seriously love them too!)
I've been hoarding these photos on my phone (and Instagram) for a couple months now and figured it's about time I put a blog post together.  So...bring on the overload of "I am obsessed with Fabletics" photos!

Part of my June Outfit:
(only XXL is left but they have the gray version in all sizes)
Not Seen - Miri Tank in Black and the Sevan Bra in Purple

July's Outfit:
Seen on me below...
Pardon my, "People are staring, and I can't seem to take this random selfie in the middle of the studio" look on my face in this shot.  LOLOLOL

And then...even more exciting?!  I got to host a Fabletics event for some of my friends in July!  We had a great time doing some yoga together and checking out my obsession.  I was seriously excited to introduce my friends to something I'm so in love with and several of them already tried their first outfits too...and they love them just as much!  There's something about helping others feel great when they are working out that I can't get enough of.  We ladies deserve to feel goooooood!!

Sporting my Gaviota Capris, a new Embra Tank in White Mesh, and a Sevan bra in black above...the white mesh is seriously perfect for sweaty workouts!!  It has the most awesome cutout in the back and it kept me cool. I'm obsessed with tops that have cutouts because of it.

And my latest outfit from August!...notice the shorts?  I am so not a shorts-during-my-workout kind of girl.  But I really wanted to try them out and I am definitely a fan.  Plus?  Look at those colors!
And I've already grabbed up the Twist Tee in Mulberry (a sort of light magenta color) because these are the best for yoga and pilates.  

Tomorrow is the first day of September...which means a whole new collection!  I've already decided on what I want.  Fabletics puts up sneak peeks a couple days before the end of the month on their Facebook fan page and Instagram.

If you don't want to buy anything at the start of a new month, all you have to do is pass by the 5th. They send out reminders via email, Facebook, and Twitter.  I myself put a reminder in my iPhone calendar just in case.  You can earn your reward points by passing on the love of Fabletics, so I'd love for you to try it out for your first outfit at $29.95 by clicking my referral link.  And please share what you get, because I'd love to know!  So what are you waiting for?!

**This is not a sponsored post.**

Monday, August 18, 2014

It's a Book Frenzy!!

Soooooooooo...we have been back in school for 8 days now.  After going through last year and learning from my mistakes with a group that was completely different than one I have ever had in my previous 8 years before them, I came into this school year ready to model and rehearse procedures like a crazy person.  So, I've had zero chance to take pictures of some of the lessons we've been doing just because I'm staying on top of my students.  They are adjusting well and 90% of the time follow all of our procedures very well.  I hope things settle down soon and we can begin enjoying the fruits of our labor knee deep in rigorous lessons.  I can already tell this year will be better than last and that's all from laying the groundwork from the first moment of us meeting each other.  Yeah!

With that being said, I HAD to take pictures on the first day of school during the book frenzy in our classroom library.  After reading Reading in the Wild and being a part of the book study (see all of those posts HERE), I was ready to implement wild reading in my classroom alongside the procedures.

I gave a couple of book talks and also gave what will now be my annual "I love reading," speech a la Colby Sharp's inspirational speech.  I wish I would have had a student film it...but maybe next year. Since I was wearing a dress and heels...I refrained from jumping on tables.  But I really really really wanted to.  My kids were cracking up and very much into it.  I had so much more fun presenting my true passion for reading this way instead of just sort of talking about it like I did in years prior.  The impact was HUGE.

Once I laid the groundwork and my students gained an understanding into just how much reading was going to become part of their 5th grade was time to let them loose.  Oh, and because I gave a couple book talks from the nonfiction section of my library, so many of my kids went in that direction!!!  If I knew it was going to be that easy to get kids on that side of our library, I would have done it a long time ago.  So many new things were learned from this year's book frenzy, I love it!!!

Notice all the kids on the left side?  That's the nonfiction section!

Many of them selected books a lot faster than I've ever seen before.  This makes me nervous though as they may have just grabbed the first book they saw.  But only a handful of them have abandoned them since that first day.  The vibe in the room was also completely more positive and electric versus other years.  I even felt different watching my new group discovering how much fun they were going to have.  Wild readers are in my room already! it's a matter of showing them they can do it without me.

It also looks like I have quite a few World War II I am going to try to get my hands on as many fiction and nonfiction books as possible to provide for them.  I can't wait to share my interest in WWII with them as well!

This fellow has had this Pearl Harbor book since the first day and is still deep into it 8 days later.

This is what I saw after only telling them once to sit down and start enjoying their first book.  

All in all, this year's book frenzy was a success.  My students clearly have a love for reading already, at least most of them.  So, we can focus more on getting books they love in their hands and teaching them how to become wilder readers throughout the school year and beyond.

Did you have a book frenzy this year?  How did it go?  Let me know!

Sunday, August 17, 2014

A Dress Made Just For Me by eShakti!

I was recently contacted by eShakti to browse their store and choose a dress I would like to try out and show to my lovely blog readers!  Another blogger friend of mine had chosen a dress a little ways back and I was really itching to try it out for myself.  In case you've never heard about them yourself, eShakti makes both custom and regularly sized dresses, skirts, and tops.  If you want a customized dress, all you have to do is send in your measurements and from there they create a well-fitting garment!  They have a ton of very retro-inspired dresses to boot, along with trendy fashions.  For someone like me who is pear shaped and has to be careful about styles or cuts of dresses, I was really excited to pick out a form-fitting dress to see just how well the customized fit would work out.

So, I went searching through pages and pages of different dresses, skirts, and tops and finally came to this one...completely out of my realm:

Before I ordered, I took all my own measurements.  I must admit, this was a mistake.  But my husband was at work and they had already sold out of several styles I was going to try.  So, I measured my shoulder span as best as I could (they even recommend you have someone else do this part) and all the other spots like the length of my arm, bust, under bust, waist, etc.  I also had the chance to change the length of the sleeves (no thanks) and the length of the hem (I picked at the knee for work).  Surprisingly so, the dress itself was made in record speed and arrived one day after it shipped.  I'm not sure if their shipping is always this fast...but that was definitely a plus!

I did wash it first because it was quite wrinkled from the trip over to me and I didn't want to have to iron it. Heh heh.  For a sheath dress, this one first very well and the draping is quite flattering as well. Where else can you get a sheath dress that fits well?  (as long as you have someone else measure you that is)  So, by no mistake of eShakti's, the first thing you'll notice is that it is too big around my upper back. The only thing I can think of is because I did this measurement myself, but it is off by at least an inch as there is quite a lot of extra fabric there (see above is quite fitted in that area). I do plan to take this to a seamstress myself and get it fixed so I can enjoy the dress.

I've never had a form-fitting dress fit me well in the waist AND the hips.

What do you think?  It fits pretty well every where else except my upper back! 

I do wish it wasn't so long, since I thought by picking the hem at the knee would mean right above the knee.  I'm not sure if I will get the seamstress to fix it though.

All in all, the dress is good quality and the fabric is nice and thick.  Since it is cotton, I know it will breathe really well in the horrible heat here in Arizona.  I would really like to try out another dress, possibly a skirt since skirts tend to fit me in the hips but not the waist.  My hubby already said he likes it and even said it's so different than what my other dresses.  So that's a plus!  As I was putting together this post, I noticed their site is having a buy one get one sale!!!

So, here are a few other dresses I have my eye on for possible customizations.

1 /  2 / 34 / 56

Want a customized eShakti dress of your own?  If you go on now, not only can you take advantage of their BOGO sale, you get $25 off when you register.  I really think number 4 and 5 need to become part of my wardrobe...they are totally not my normal style either!!  Make sure you have someone else take your measurements.

So...what dress or piece are you eyeballing?

Please note:  This dress was sent to me by the company, but all opinions expressed are my own.  

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Reading in the Wild: Making Reading Plans

It's time for a new chapter!! the book study with The Brownbag Teacher that is.  Make sure you check out the other blogs in this book study series at the bottom of this blog post.  If you missed my other posts in the previous weeks, you can click through them below:

As I was reading this chapter and now typing this post, all I can think about is how I have less than a week before I have to return to work.  Nooooooooooo!!!!  I am having a hard time wrapping my mind around a 2 month summer already coming to a close.  Seriously!  Where does it always go?  Every year, on that last day of school after the students are gone, I'm ecstatic to see my summer all splayed out in front of me.  Then, I get to this part and can't seem to fathom how it is all gone.  Soooooo...sorry aheaad of time for a dry post...but as soon as I'm done typing this up, I have to head out to my classroom to get major to-do list items crossed off.

I digress!  So, of course as I get ready to return to work, I start thinking of how I am going to teach, model, and help my students build reading plans when they are completely unaccustomed to doing so. My population of students rarely read at home, unless it is a school mandate, and most don't own their own books or visit the public library over break.  This part of the Wild Reading plan can be the most trickiest for me because it takes the most work.  But I am super glad Donalyn went into a little more detail in this book, so I feel a bit more confident going into it.

I admitted on one of those past blog posts above that I had got away from helping my students make reading plans, as I was dealing with a lot of different factors (you'll have to check out one of the posts to find out a little more)...but it did also include a lack of working technology.  So, I'll share how I used to do it in my classroom using Goodreads.  This year, I do plan to use Edmodo and I'll have to do a blog post or two on that once its up and running successfully.

Each of my former students used a school email they had to sign-up.  I spent time showing them how I used Goodreads and talked about why I had my shelves arranged the way I did.  A lot went into explaining and modeling all of this.  I had the site bookmarked on our computers in our classroom and whenever they had a spare moment, they were allowed to go on and update their status, add books, read reviews, write reviews, etc.  It was nice for me to be able to check in and see what they were reading via the site too.  Once the year was over, I only had a handful of students continue to use it though...which is why I am loving Reading in the Wild!  I'll throw in some screenshots of how it sort of looked to give you an idea of how you could possibly use it in your classroom...or for yourself!

After reading The Book Whisperer, I did have a class group page going too.  But that dwindled out once my students stopped using Goodreads when they left my classroom.  This is why I'm excited for Edmodo!!

Goodreads is how I make my reading plans.  My bookshelves are HERE, if you'd like to check them out or add me on the site.  I don't even pick up a book at the store, library, or from friends if I don't check Goodreads first.  Through reading so many books I love, enjoy, or disilike, I have figured out a sort of formula for finding books I'll devour or at least enjoy enough to pick them up.  These are all things I share with my students when I talk about how the site is very useful for forming reading plans.  If you love reading and social media, you should definitely check it out.  Goodreads is in fact my favorite social media site over Facebook (Instagram is a close 2nd).

Head over to The Brownbag Teacher's post this week HERE, because she posted freebies of her 40 Book Challenge and reflection forms.  Just a quick Google search on "The 40 Book Challenge" also wielded some great results on other people's blogs, including Donalyn's.  It is one of the "easiest" ways I have been able to get my reluctant readers and students to begin forming plans...since it does add the element of a good challenge.  Do you know any 5th graders who don't love a challenge?!

"Reading challenges must allow wild readers as much autonomy and free will as possible...wild readers want opportunities to choose their own goals unencumbered by others' expectations or limits." pg. 145

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Reading in the Wild: Sharing Books and Reading Together

This week's chapter is hosted by the lovely ladies at Teaching to Inspire in 5th, Miss V's Busy Bees, and Teaching in the Fast Lane.  Make sure you click on over to their blog posts and several others at the bottom of this post or link up with all of us using the linky.  In case you missed any of the previous are some quick links for you:

I have to admit, at the start of this chapter I decided this was my least favorite.  But then, I reached the list of books Donalyn suggest reading at the beginning of the year for read-alouds.  It was the perfect way to get me motivated to transition into the new school year and begin thinking about where I want to go with my students.  So for this week's, I wanted to share the books (with links, so you can access them as well) I plan to add to my year's read-alouds list.

"The most effective reading teachers are teachers who read." (pg. 106)

Fostering School and Home Reading Communities

While Donalyn listed quite a few ways to do this, there were a couple that I could easily see implementing since I don't know how easy it would be to get my admin and entire school on board for this school year.  But I can sure try for next year!  You'll have to read this chapter to see what I'm leaving out.  :-)  

Here's what I AM going to include this year (pgs. 92-93):
  • Reading recommendations and home reading tips whenever I communicate with parents in newsletters or on my class blog
  • Add a weekly student book recommendation to my e-mail signature
  • "I am currently reading..." sign outside of my classroom door
  • Pass out books during parent conferences and PTA/PTO meetings
  • Teach parents simple ways to incorporate more reading into family routines
The first year I successfully used ideas from The Book Whisperer was a fantastic one.  I had parents who told me they saw a change in their students (see the picture below from a district parent survey) and then, the kicker, their 6th grade teachers also told me during some vertical articulation work that they truly appreciated the way my students came to them loving reading.  They found they were able to jump right in with them!  It was music to my ears!  I got away from it a little bit the year after that as it was the year I was working towards my National Board Certification and that was my HUGE focus.  And if you have been reading my blog the last couple months, you also know this school year that just ended was my roughest one yet and so I had to focus on management and catching up instead of building my reading community...that makes me really sad, but I've now got a renewed sense of what I want to do this year!

Books that Build Communities

Like I mentioned above, this part was my favorite section of this chapter.  Several of the recommended books are those I already use in my classroom, so I didn't include them I definitely order you to read this chapter to see the rest.  ;-)  I mean that in the nicest and most helpful way of course.  Which books do you already read for your read-alouds?  Do you see any below that you want to try out?

Communities that Read and Write

Ask Me by Antje Damm and BookSpeak! Poems About Books by Laura Purdie Salas

Communities That Value All Members

Hound Dog by Linda Urban and The Strange Case of Origami Yoda by Tom Angleberger
(2 years ago my class and I got to Skype Tom and we loved his books, I never thought to use it as a real-aloud though, but I totally will this year!)

Communities That Have Fun

Interrupting Chicken by David Ezra Stein and I Want My Hat Back by Jon Klassen

The Wonder Book by Amy Krouse Rosenthal

Communities That Care about the World

A Bus Called Heaven by Bob Graham and 14 Cows for America by Carmen Agra Deedy

Laundry Day by Maurie J. Manning