Thursday, March 29, 2012

Award, Colts Blue, and Lunch Linky Party!

Since my husband was a guest blogger yesterday, I had put off thanking Marissa from Wild about First Grade for this Lovely Blog Award!  Holy Cow!  THANK YOU!!! I always see some of my idol bloggers who get these awards, and they totally deserve it, but when I get these things it just makes me appreciate everyone in the blogging world.  Thank you Marissa!

Today was our last day of school before Spring Break!  Praise.  The.  Lord.  Blue, the mascot from our good 'ole Indianapolis Colts came for an amazing program about Kickin' It Outside, in the classroom, and kicking out bullying.  We had a blast, and Blue is Hilarious.  However, I was chosen to participate in one of the activities.  Only after I got up there did I find out we would be judged based on our best Touch Down Dance!  Yikes!  I love to dance, but not in front of 400 students, all the staff, and without an adult-friendly beverage in hand!  Anyway, the day is over, my time in the spotlight is over, and my dance moves were definitely for the record books.  Maybe even legendary.  

Finally tonight is 4th Grade Frolics Lovely Lunchbox Linky party!!  And even better, she is doing a giveaway for getting close to 1,000 followers.  To top that she just made it to 1,000 tonight!!!  Way to go Tara!

So here is my lunchbox!  A Vera Bradley lunch bag.  I have 3 different ones in case I leave one in the car or at school, which always happens!  I worked at a Vera Bradley store part time, so I accumulated some "damaged" items while working there.  Now I get to forget my lunchbox and not have to brown bag it! 
My staple go-to lunch:
1.PBJ (yes, I am a child at heart, or at stomach)
3. String Cheese
and the best part....
4. my daily Dr. Pepper
(my students even know about my slight obsession, and I am known to get them as gifts from students...sad, very sad)

**Our school is WAY out in the country, so ordering lunch in or going to get it is not an option.  Making my lunch is a hated morning ritual, but much loved by the bank account since I can't eat out!**

Click on the link above to Link Up with Tara's wonderful blog and Linky Party!  

As for me...I'm off for Spring Break, but not going anywhere!  I'm looking forward to reading, organizing, guest blogging, and finishing up a unit or two.  Stay in touch!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

This Should Be Interesting...My husband is a guest blogger!

Here goes the Mr....

Some of you may wonder what I do since my wife’s life has been consumed by blogging and TPT. Some of you may not care… but either way, I shall tell you.

Generally, our evenings together start out relatively status quo (except for Thursday, It’s guy’s night at BWW.) I usually end up cooking dinner, and then Mrs. Riley complains about cleaning up; even though this has been a standing agreement since day one (this agreement only pertains to her when I cook. After dinner, we head to the family room where a very specific set of elite TV shows have been set to record. But, in my opinion, even if they are recorded, we MUST watch them in real time. The Mrs. usually agrees, but ALWAYS agrees when it comes to the Bachelor series. If that is on, I am banished to the upstairs, where I must watch my shows in real time, without rewind, pause or high definition. I know, I know, it is terrible.

During this time, she is usually blogging (unless it’s the bachelor.) She blogs, and checks TPT, then blogs, then checks TPT, then grades papers, then blogs. The pup and I are pretty much on our own during this time. I talk to him, he looks at me… This works though, because my TV shows are on, and she is distracted doing her thing. At some point, inevitably, she will say something about the show, the room temperature, ask me to read names and scores to her so she can enter them into the grade book, etc. This is the worst part of the night for me; why you might ask? Well, the reason is, it is ALWAYS in the middle of a crucial point in my shows, the one part of said show you cannot miss, or you will not understand what it going on. We usually laugh about it, I rewind, and off we are again without a hitch.

On a side note, one of my favorite things is when she says to me, “I can’t wait to blog about this;” or she will stop and take a picture so she can blog about it later. I work in IT, and I understand the importance of blogging for SEO (search engine optimization - added/edited by Mary Beth for thos non-IT people!)  purposes, but I do not understand blogging for fun; however, I know she enjoys it, and I am happy she has found her calling. I randomly get emails forwarded throughout the day of a confirmation email saying one of her products have been sold on TPT with the tag lines, “Boom,” “Money bags,” and “Booyah.” These crack me up every time.  I guess to become a teacher, it isn’t a job, it’s a passion and your life. I admire both of those things about her and can’t wait for her next blog entry. Until I blog again...

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Two of My Favorite Things in One Day: Running and School!

Each year our school has a 5K/10K Walk and Run as well as a 1K Kids Fun Run.  Our PE teacher has a running club for the 3rd and 4th graders.  There were a total of 35 students who ran the 5K!  One of them was one of my 2nd graders!  Here's a picture of us before the run...still happy and motivated!
I'll tell you what. When your students know you have run a marathon, they sure do have high expectations for a 10K!!!  Haha.  The weather was a perfect 54 degrees with little wind.  We had a wonderful turn out, and the PTO made some great money for our school too.

This is definitely my favorite event at our school!  Fitness, fun, teacher friends, and students being active and learning about our selves outside of the classroom.

To top off the day, my sister ran her first 5K, and ROCKED it!  I am so proud of her!  Afterward she shared how glad she was to do it because it gave her the confidence to perform that way on her own.

What was your first race?  Were your thoughts as positive as my sister's? Leave a comment so we can all hear about our firsts (or the first one we plan on doing).

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Community Day, Synonyms, and Scout's Birthday!

As a part of our social studies curriculum we talk about community workers and how they contribute to the greater good of our community.  To jazz up the day, we decided to have the students dress up as community workers, and it was great!  My love of dogs has obviously poured out with 3 vets and a dog  trainer.  
Thanks to a great friend of my husband's I was able to talk about how military people serve our community even if they are far away through my outfit.  Now I also know why soldiers' legs are ripped!  Those boots are heavy after just one day!  I can't imagine wearing those in training!
 I loved that we had matching police officers, and they didn't even plan it.  We knew we would be safe today!  
The creativity of the community artist was great too!  They took an old shirt, slapped some paint on it, cut out a Pizza Hut pizza box, and made it into his paint tray.  

My teammates are awesome and came up with some fun activities to go with the day.  They had to fill out job applications, create a name badge, and interview each other.  It was really fun watching them try to be "professional" when asking each other questions!

Ahh!  Pinterest inspired synonyms!  With our CrAzY summer-like weather recently we felt like we were back tracking a bit on the first day of spring yesterday!  However, we celebrated the start of spring with a garden of synonyms.  I wrote a word in the middle of each flower.  Then I had a synonym of that word written in another flower (ie. strong and determined).  I passed out the flowers and the students had to find their partner.  With their partners, they found three more synonyms and drew pictures of these words. 

My favorite moment was when a student said that their pictures were all the same!  My reply, "That's how it should be!  They are synonyms!"

And finally...Happy 4th Birthday Scout!  I couldn't leave my running buddy out on his big day!  This was pure torture for this picture.  He had to stay, watching his little cupcake doggie cookie, while I snapped a photo.  Happy Birthday Big Guy!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Top o' the Morning To Ya!

(That's what slainte means in Irish!)
Scout and I would just like to wish you all a very happy St. Patrick's Day after our morning run!  Of course I had to wear green on my run, and throw on a sorority throwback shirt!  I hope you all have the same great weather we have here in Indy!

*Also, my Teacher's Notebook Store is all 30% off through the weekend!  Click the link on the sidebar to check it out!**

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Jumping Rope, Slavery, a Rainbow of Similes, and a LUCKY Sale!

I can't say how great the weather has been this week!  I'm sure like any other midwest teacher, getting outside without jackets in March is like a dream come true!  We've broken out the jump ropes and started singing "Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear turn around...".  I tried my go at it, and got to 50! Woohoo! I've retired (it is really TIRING) to being the holder/counter.  Whew!  
I have to admit that teaching history in the lower grades in not my most favorite subject, so we're always looking for ways to make it insightful, meaningful, and fun.  One of my favorite books to use for the teaching of slavery and civil rights is Henry's Freedom Box.  The premise of the book is that slave has his entire family taken from him by another owner, so he decides to mail himself in a box to freedom in Philadelphia. 
To get my kids to understand the feel of what it would be like to ship yourself in a box to freedom, and not be able to make a sound, I made them complete work under their desk for about 20 minutes.  THey had to move their desks away from anyone, couldn't talk, no questions, no nothing!  Honestly, I felt bad for a bit because they were complaining, but it got the point across!  

Afterward we talked about our feelings, why Henry would go to such great lengths to be free, and why we are lucky to that times have changed and people before us made decisions to make all people free.

Lastly, as a part of our poetry unit, I wanted to introduce similes so they might attempt to use them in their poems.  I saw this idea from a blog or Pinterest (if it's yours, let me know!) and I knew I had to incorporate it into all of my St. Patty's Day Stuff!  They turned out great, and the kids did a wonderful job.

I love the descriptive words this student used, even if he reused some of the colors in the comparison.  I made the rainbow with a a circle cutter that I own (one of my FAV and most used tools), and then cut the circles in half.
Click on the image to get the title page and writing paper that I used!  

Feeling Lucky?  You should!
I'm having a sale at my Teacher's Notebook Store!

In honor of St. Patrick's Day, loving the weather and looking forward to my Spring Break starting on March 30th my Teacher's Notebook store is all 30% off!!!
Visit my TN STORE for your lucky deals (including my St. Patty's Palooza Unit)!

**May the Luck 'O the Irish be with you for the rest of the week!**

Monday, March 12, 2012

Too Many Exciting Things NOT to Post Tonight

1. The Bachelor Finale is on tonight...uber excited!  This is keeping my mind off the fact that my report cards are due on Wednesday and aren't done yet.

2. A Blogger Award!

Erin at First with Franklin nominate me for a Top 10 Blog! !!!! Love this!! I also love meeting new people and bloggers through these awards!  Thanks Erin for your sweet words.  She's also doing her first 5 mile race in St. Louis this weekend!  Head over to her blog to wish her luck!

To pay it forward I have chosen the blogs below to receive this great award!
Some of my FAVS

3. A Linky Part for K-2 Teachers...Afterall, we are the BEST (okay, okay, I know I used to teach 3rd)!
Link up with Kindergarten Lifestyle by clicking on the Linky Party below and find tons of other K-2 teachers. 

4. Did I mention the Bachelor season finale?  Okay, time to go watch, and probably be disappointed! 

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Prepping for the Week, Pinerly, and Teachers Helping Teachers!

On this beautiful Sunday afternoon in the Indy area, I'm working on lesson plans and report cards...wah wah! :(

Lesson Plans
The only exciting thing about it is using a lot of the things from my St. Patty's Palooza Unit on TpT in my lesson plans and having the sun shine come in through the windows!  Click on the picture for more details

A large portion of it is connected to Tomie DePaola's Jamie O'Rourke and the Big Potato.  Don't have a copy?  It's on YouTube in a video format (not great quality, but it works).  Some of the things I'm excited to do, and some quick and easy resources you can use last minute, are below.

Along with cause and effect, a character comparison double bubble, and graphing our favorite potatoes, a student favorite is creating their own potato characters and writing a story about them.  You can do it with partners, and focus on adjectives, have individual stories focusing on a problem and solution, or put it at your writing center

 Quick and easy resources with little prep:
- finding the word that doesn't fit the pattern
- lucky word ladder
- making words
- a place value mat to use with number cards.

One thing I am really excited about is the newest update for Pinterest called Pinerly!  It makes it easier to use, easier to find people with similar interests, and keeps you organized!  Check it out before it's public by clicking on the picture!

Teachers Taking Care of Teachers
Crystal over at Kreative in Kinder has started an awesome linky party to offer assistance to the teachers who have been impacted by the tornado.  Click the heart to see how you can help!

Have a great week this week!  I'll be back later in the week for updates on things we've been doing for St. Patty's Day and my next Parent Involvement Tip!  

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Parent Involvement Part #2 - Monthly Videos!

Last week I posted about Mystery Readers and utilizing Skype to bring the classroom to parents and families who might not be able to come in.

This week I'm going to share about my monthly videos!  At the start of the school year, I took a ton of pictures, and decided to create a video to send to parents after a few weeks to show them how we were starting our school year.

This video then evolved into a monthly video that I send to my parents and families with the pictures of things we are doing.  You may be wondering if I'm CrAzY at this point, but I promise I'm not!

It is so easy with Animoto! Animoto lets you upload pictures, pick a design, and pick a song from their selection or upload one from your own song list.  Then they put it all together with transitions for you!  You can email the movie link to your parents or put it on your website!

Steps to make it easy for you:

1. Take pictures during the month.  Don't worry about getting all of the kids, just make sure you take a few group pictures of each table group and a class picture of some special day during the month and you are assured to get them all at least once or twice.

2.  Upload them and store in a monthly folder.  ie.  a folder for January, February, March, etc.  This makes it easier when you go to upload pictures to Animoto later.

3. Register at under the educator setting which will give you unlimited videos (or just click on the link above).

4. Start a project, and pick a theme.

5. Upload all of your pictures from your folder (they'll already be grouped with things similar to them based on when they were taken, so you won't have to do much rearranging later).

6. Pick a song or upload your own.

7. Add text slides if you want to tell about pictures.

8. Let animoto do the rest!  I promise - it really is that easy!

The parents enjoy LOVE the monthly videos and I get great feedback.  It's also a wonderful way to share POSITIVE news and events with parents.  I often highlight students who have met their reading goals, received character awards, or our mystery readers who visit or skype with us.

Although parents aren't coming in or sharing their expertise with this part, the videos open up the classroom and make them seem more attainable.  Parents love to actually see what their child is doing during the day.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

It's that Time Again...Farley's March Currently!

Check out Farley's March Currently and join in on the fun!  I love seeing what everyone else is up to.

Thanks Farley for all of your creativity and designs.  I love the 3 Words with the first letter of our last name.  If you need a blog to make you feel better about your day or life...Farley is the trick!  

Can you see a theme in my comments?  Clearly we were watching a GREAT IU win tonight! 

Saturday, March 3, 2012

A Group Run and Parent Involvement Step #1: Mystery Readers

Good afternoon!  I was sharing earlier this week about my major guilt for not running in the 5K last week, so when my friend (right) said she'd be in town this morning and wanted to run, I knew I had to do it!  The PE teacher at my school (left) is training for a half marathon, so she joined us for our 6 mile trek.  I hadn't done that distance in a while, but was so glad I had some friends to make it easier!  We joined a group from a local church, and it was a really nice change of pace.

Our post-run picture with a gloved finger creeping in at the top.  Having friends makes the 20-something degrees feel a bit better too!  

Parent Involvement Step #1: Mystery Readers!
As far as school goes, one of my motivations as a teacher is knowing that families are involved in their child's education.  Although this doesn't happen all the time I wanted to find some avenues to help them stay involved or informed about our class.  I have one student who has a dad in Afghanistan, and many with grandparents who live far away, or live in a split home where mom or dad lives somewhere else.  

My sister-in-law came in and shared The Giving Tree!
I know many of you have done Mystery Readers in the past, and I jumped on board this year for the first time.  It has been a favorite of the students, and they love practicing their "inferencing" skills when I give them 3 clues about our mystery reader in the morning.  Throughout the year, we have had 10 readers, which is 10 more people than I had before.  Here are some of the documents I use at the beginning of the year at Meet the Teacher Night.  

However, this system only works for parents who work close (which is typically not the case, since my school is WAAAAAAAAAY out in the country) or stay at home.  To allow for even more people, I asked to have Skype installed on my computer.  The technology guru decided it might be better if we had a traveling cart with a computer and a webcam that could go into all rooms!  Even better!   

After waiting nearly the entire first semester to get the webcam ordered and installed, we finally go to Skype in a mystery reader this week!!  The kids loved it, and one of my students' grandma got to read to us from two hours away! 

What I love about Skype is that a parent could do it on their lunch hour, or while on duty in Afghanistan, or grandmas and grandpas can share their love of books from wherever they may be.  

We now have a cord ordered that will connect the computer to our projector screen so that it can be bigger, but for now we are enjoying books from afar!

What else do you do to get parents involved in your room?  

My Part 2 will be next week with another way to connect with parents!