Tuesday, June 10, 2014

100 Minutes: Chapter 3

Thanks to An Apple for the Teacher for hosting this week! I am really enjoying this book, as well as then being able to participate in an online study!

My thoughts on chapter 3...

I feel like the past couple of years I have gotten away from reading aloud every single day. This has not been done intentionally, but simply has been a negative impact from things being piled (and piled and piled) onto our plates. When I began teaching it was something I loved doing each day, and while way back then, it wasn't always intentional, I knew the value in time spent sharing read alouds with my young students. I think that sometimes I get so caught up in ensuring that my lessons are 'mini' that I often felt that there wasn't time to dive into a read aloud along with each one. Reading this chapter has reaffirmed my belief in reading quality, carefully thought out, books to my students on a daily basis, and I will renew my goal of doing this every day.

I loved the section titled Does Whole-Class Mean Undifferentiated. I feel like this is sort of one of those pendulum swings that so often happen in education. Teaching used to be entirely while group instruction, and then there was a major swing away from whole-class teaching... almost making it a taboo thing! One of my favorite quote from the chapter was:
"Differentiated instruction means that each students strengths and needs are taken into consideration when the teacher is planning learning experiences, to ensure that each child is challenged and supported in that learning."
So true!

In addition, I really enjoyed Lisa's discussion about "accountable talk." I have long done 'turn and talk' and 'Think-Pair-Share' kinds of talk in my classroom. But this section reaffirmed the importance of these intentional, rich conversations.

Finally, I really liked the websites that Lisa shared. They seem like some really good suggestions! I have often toyed with the idea of having a class blog (or Facebook page, or Twitter, etc.) but have never taken the plunge... I may have to reconsider that this year!

Off to Chapter 4 I go!

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

100 Minutes: Chapter 2

I just love summer vacation for so many reasons. This week I spent Monday and Tuesday with my little love bug. We went to our first tumbling class, visited the library, played outside, and met daddy for lunch! Such wonderful things that we normally don't get to do. The rest of this week I am doing an independent study at school. Basically I'm earning credit for stuff I have to do anyway! It is fabulous!

Anyway, I spent a little bit of time today reading the next chapter in "100 Minutes: Making Every minute Count in the Literacy Block," and am now linking up for this great book study!

So this chapter was all about the Building Blocks. A lot in this chapter reminded me of the Daily 5, and what I am already doing. The main difference in Lisa's suggested literacy block is that reading and writing are intertwined throughout the 100 minutes. I do my best to integrate the two, because really you can't have one without the other... we obviously write during reading time, and read during writing time. However, I typically have a Reader's Workshop time, and a Writer's Workshop time and they each have their own focus. They tend to be separate workshop times in my schedule and I love the idea of intertwining them! Also, the intentionally sequenced tasks make perfect sense!

Finally, the section on choice really spoke to me. I know that research (both by the 'experts', and my own real life research) tells me that choice is imperative. This is something that I love about Daily 5. However, I often felt like students were choosing activities that had nothing to do with the mini-lesson I just taught, or the guided reading lesson they just participated in. I was never really sure how to remedy this. My favorite quote from the whole chapter was on page 23 where Lisa said, "the teacher chooses what the student is learning and the students choose how they are learning it." It helped me see that I can still incorporate choice, but that the students will "partner with the teacher" to make choices. 

While I love the idea of sandwiching the two whole group lessons around independent work time. I find it somewhat odd to have a writing lesson, and then just end the literacy block. Are the kids going to remember what I taught them the next day it they don't have time to immediately practice a taught skill?

I'm sure more will be explained as I continue on. After all, this is only chapter 2!

Head over to AppleSlices to read some more thoughts! 

Monday, June 2, 2014

100 Minutes: Chapter 1

Pardon me for a moment while I blow the dust off this old blog here!
Apparently I am just not going to be one of those regular bloggers. Especially during the school year! Last year I had said that I really wanted to keep up on my blogging... this year, I'm not even going to make that promise! However, it does feel good to be back in here sharing my thoughts with other teachers!

Today I am linking up for a book study. Yes, it is my first official day of summer vacation and I am already thinking/planning/preparing for next school year. But that is just the way we teacher are, isn't that right?!

Not that long ago I came across this book:

I honestly don't even remember where I first saw the title, but I jotted it down, and looked it up on Amazon. It sounded good, so I added it to my Wish List. Amazon had no reviews of the book and so I was having a hard time deciding if it would be worthwhile. I Googled the title, and came across a blog post by Beth at Thinking of Teaching! She was hosting a book study on this very book. I ordered it on the spot and am now ready to link up with Chapter 1!

Chapter 1

Let me start by saying that I love how there is space in the margins of this book! I read books like this with a highlighter and pen in hand, so having a little space to jot down ideas was fabulous! 

So a little background: I LOVE Daily 5. I have been doing D5 in my classroom for about 7 years now. Reading the Daily 5 revolutionized my teaching. Before reading it, I felt a little like Lisa Donohue in her confessions at the beginning. I really didn't know what I was doing and wasn't sure how to fix it. Daily 5 gave me the framework to really fix my literacy block and do some serious differentiating. So I was a little hesitant to dive into a book that may change my Daily 5 views. However, I will admit that over the last 2 years I've started to feel like I could be doing more with my literacy block. Like Lisa discusses, there are so many new things piled onto our teaching plates all the time, finding ways to fit it all in can be challenging! Beth links to Linda Donohue's own blog where she has a post about Daily 5 and 100 Minutes... I will definitely be looking at that while I read this book! I'm excited for something new to complement what I'm already doing! 

I really liked how Lisa Donohue talks about adding dimension to familiar routines. This is where I feel Daily 5 can sometimes get us in a rut. I like the idea of having a structure, but adding layers to it in order to facilitate more and more learning! The way she breaks the literacy block into 3 chunks of time makes perfect sense to me, but also throws me a little because it seems that there is more whole group time than I have now. With my D5 structure, I typically teach 2 or 3 whole group mini-lessons and the majority of the block is spent in small group and independent activities. I'm curious to keep reading and see what this might look. 

In addition to the restructuring I mentioned above, I'm really curious to learn how the AWARD time functions. I wrote some questions in my margin about stamina building and accountability during this time. I'm hoping that she gets into the real 'nuts and bolts' of how to achieve what was described in the 100 Minutes in Action part. 

In short, I'm really intrigued and excited to keep reading and learning! 

Monday, August 12, 2013

Blogger Exchange!

I was so super excited to participate in this Blogger Exchange hosted by Covered in Glitter and Glue! I mean who doesn't love getting fun mail!

My buddy was Tamra from First Grade Buddies! Here are a few pictures of what she sent:

I got a lovely note, a pack of Post-Its, some super cute binder clips, a Starbucks gift card (yay!) and a really neat little notebook. 

I love this thing! At first I thought it was just a pretty little notebook, but then I opened it up and it has 3 sections: To Buy, Remember, and To Do. You can write on each section and then pull it off! I will totally be using this as I am SUCH a list maker. I'm constantly writing myself sitcky notes! Now I can be even more organized in my list making!

Thank you Tamra!

Friday, August 2, 2013

I am now a TPT Seller! ... or I guess a TPT Freebie-Giver for now!

I just posted my first product to Teachers Pay Teachers! I'm so excited, but a little nervous as well! I'm not 100% convinced that I'm cut out to be a TPT seller. There are so many fabulous blogger/seller teachers out there that I pretty much think of as teacher celebrities (like I'd probably get nervous if I saw them on the street!) and I have a hard time seeing myself potentially as one of them! My wonderful husband actually encouraged me to do this. I've mentioned it before, but never thought I would have the time or creativity, and what if I (gasp) use a copyrighted font or clipart!! Sooo... this first freebie item is actually a test. We'll see how it goes over, if people actually like this and download it and give me feedback... maybe, just maybe, I'll keep going.

Anyway, on to my FREEBIE! I've only used QR codes a time or two in the past, but have really gotten into them recently. Plus, my school just got a whole mobile cart of iPad Minis and I am beyond excited to get my hands on those babies! My freebie is a packet of audio sight word QR codes for my students to listen to. I will likely use these during Daily 5 as word work, but they could be placed around the room as a scavenger hunt type activity as well. There is one set of cards with just the QR code, and one set with a blank spot. The students can scan the code, listen to the word, and then record the word on the card (with a dry erase marker if laminated, or build it with letter tiles, etc.) or they can write it on one of the recording sheets provided.

I am super excited to use these in my own classroom, and hope that you can use them as well. If you like the product, and find it useful, I'd LOVE some positive feedback. If you have any questions, concerns, or suggestions for improvement please let me know here in the comments, or by emailing me at

Follow my store... just in case I create more! :-)

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Sunday Smorgasbord

Wow, look at me... another post, and another linky! Really hoping to keep up on my blogging this year! Anyway, I thought this would be a good one to join because I always have random in my week!

First, I have really been doing my best to enjoy every moment of my summer with my little Bug. I was so fortunate to be able to work part time last year, but will be going back full time next month (gasp) and it makes this mama all kinds of sad! Today we went to the local discovery museum. I'm not sure if Bug or dad had more fun!

On a sad note, we had to make the very difficult decision to put our Suzy dog down this week. She started having kidney issues and despite everything we did, she just wasn't getting any better. It was so hard, but we are relieved that she isn't suffering anymore. We're doing our best to adjust, our remaining dog seemed confused and out of sorts at first, but is starting to come around as well. 

I've always enjoyed a bargain and done my best to use coupons and shop sales etc. However, now with an enormous vet bill hanging over our heads, it is even more essential! So I cut coupons, looked at sales, got mobile coupons, and got everything pictured below for only $7.80 at Target! AND I didn't buy anything at the dollar spot! Phew, all these back to school sales are going to kill me!

When driving home from the above mentioned trip to Target (on Friday night, how cool am I?) I just had to pull over to take a picture of this sunset!

Thanks for reading! Feel free to follow me on Instagram and Bloglovin!

Friday, July 19, 2013

An award... for me??

Wow, I was so surprised to see that Mary from Fit to be Fourth had nominated me for a Liebster Award! At first I thought it must be a mistake! My little blog is nothing special, and a far cry from the majority of the blogs I follow. However, after looking into the award, I realized it is an award for someone just like me! A Liebster Award is given to up and coming bloggers who have less than 200 followers. Yep, definitely me. The meaning: Liebster is German and means sweetest, kindest, nicest, dearest, beloved, lovely, kind, pleasant, valued, cute, endearing, and welcome. Actually, after looking into what it was, it reminded me of those chain letters I did as a child... remember those!?
Anyway, here are the rules:
1. Link back to the blog that nominated you.
2. Nominate 5-11 blogs with fewer than 200 followers.
3. Answer the questions posted for you by your nominator.
4. Share 11 random facts about yourself.
5. Create 11 questions for your nominees.
6. Contact your nominees and let them know you nominated them.

Here are my questions from Mary:
1.  How did you come up with your blog name?
     I was given this book early on in my teaching career and the name came back to me when I was trying to come up with a blog name. I wanted something that wouldn't tie me to a specific grade. 
2.  What type of music do you like?
     I typically like just about all kinds of music!

3.  What is your favorite sport to watch/play?

     I am not much of a sports player. I run, but not competitively anymore. However, I enjoy watching football (Go Broncos!) and baseball (Go Rockies!).

4.  How many siblings do you have?

     I have one sister.

5.  What is your favorite restaurant?

     Oh there is no way I could pick just one! 

6.  What do you enjoy doing most when you are on vacation?

     I actually have not been on an actual vacation in quite some time. Pretty much all of our trips lately have been to visit family in various locations. Not that family trips aren't fun, it just isn't a relaxing 'vacation'! Hopefully we'll go on a true vacation some year soon... and then I will look forward to eating great food and sleeping!

7.  What do you enjoy most about teaching?

     Working with kids who are starting out behind, who are struggling with the basics, and those who need lots of extra help. I love working with the 'under dogs'! :-)

8.  What are your hobbies?

     I enjoy reading, cooking (when I have time), and outdoor activities such as hiking, biking, running, etc. 

9.  What is your favorite children's book?

     Again, don't think there is any way I could pick just one!

10.  What do you enjoy most about having a blog?

     I love being able to share ideas... granted, I'm still working on my blog, but I love the collaboration and sharing that is possible through blogging!

11.  What do you like best about where you live?

     My family is here! We moved away for about 4 years, and being away from my family was difficult! Glad to be back!

11 random facts about me:

1. I would rather be 20 minutes early, than 20 seconds late. 
2. I have run a marathon, and two half marathons. 
3. I use exclamation points when I type! A lot!
4. I can't stand humidity... glad to be living where there really isn't any!
5. I may or may not have called my husband home from work to kill bugs.
6. I love race cars and racing, and wish I could be a professional race car driver. 
7. I have never seen the movie Goonies. 
8. I could watch House Hunters on HGTV all. day. long. 
9. I love spicy food, and in fact I almost killed my husband (then boyfriend) the first time I made him my spicy chili!
10. My husband and I spent more time apart (in different countries and states) than we spent together before getting married. 
11. I got married in Las Vegas... and would recommend it to anyone!

My questions for my nominees:
1. What is your greatest accomplishment?
2. How long is your commute to work?
3. If you weren't a teacher, what job would you want to do?
4. What is your drink of choice?
5. What is your favorite ice cream?
6. What is your favorite season, and why?
7. If you could learn to do anything, what would it be?
8. What talents do you have?
9. What was the last movie you saw? Would you recommend it?
10. Where was the most interesting place you've traveled?
11. What is the last book you read?

Blogs I am nominating are:

The East Coast Teach

Okay, okay, I know I'm supposed to nominate more blogs but this is all I had time to find and my little one is waking up! I will look for more and update this post!!