Sunday, April 20, 2014

Hip Hop Hippity Freebies!

Happy Easter!

I'm off to church and our annual brunch here...yum!

But first I wanted to quickly share fun things going on around here! Here's a few cute freebies to use with festive gifts and/or as decor. We don't really do all the Easter candy and baskets around here. My basket is usually in the form of a shopping bag from Lululemon or Under Armour :)

Guess which one I used?!

I can't believe I hid this for over a week without caving.  And by hiding, I meant I just dropped the bag at the front door along with all my other teacher bags.  The basket is full of goodies from Philadelphia's Reading Terminal Market. There's coffee/mug, chocolate-covered espresso beans, dark chocolate malted milk balls, and a Cadbury egg. I did secretly want the mug, so it's kind of like a gift to myself. Besides the coffee, all the others are things I don't like. That's probably why it lasted a week in my house :)  I'm thankful I don't like Easter candy too much...however, Halloween is a completely different story!

Here's another quick & easy freebie I'll be using for Guided Reading this week:

I'll be using the color-coded vocabulary words the first day & then the colorful illustrations for sequencing/retelling during the follow-up lessons. Please click HERE to download this set.

Lastly, I'm so excited about sharing this! The Primary Gal is hosting a summer book study on a book that I've already purchased and dying to dig deeper into:

It's starts at the end of May! Please sign up so we can chat!

Have a wonderful holiday & week!

This blog is linked up with:
Classroom Freebies Manic Monday

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Friday, April 18, 2014

5 for Friday: Spring Break Ramblings

Happy Good Friday!

Hope everyone had a fantastic week!

It's Spring Break here - the most wonderful week of the year :)

Because my travel plans were a bust, I'm enjoying a staycation here in Baltimore. Probably a good idea because 1) there was a lot on my plate I needed to tackle and 2) our sunny spot in Florida wasn't too warm this week! I'm sure it will be perfect when I land in Tampa less than 3 weeks from now (woot!woot!)

Although I've been ridiculously busy, I've also LEARNED a lot about myself by being mostly alone this week. Here's the scoop 
(& I'm cleverly linking this up with Five for Friday!):

1. I'm just not meant to work at home long-term! It kills me to admit this, because I DREAM of researching, blogging, and writing curriculum full-time most days. But it just takes a week to realize I may not be cut out for it. The upside? I've stayed very disciplined and focused on work. The downside? Oh my goodness, I swear I've eaten twice my weight every day! Maybe it's the extra time at the gym? Hope so, but doubtful.

2. Speaking of the gym, I've kept to my usual training schedule, plus popped into 4 (and counting) spin classes. One was an old favorite haunt I used to go to before my school changed hours and the rest were all new-to-me classes. So much fun! I'm heading back tonight for a Happy Hour hip-hop spin. 

A pal brought me Peeps this morning!

3. I finally found the trigger for my online shopping habit! 

School-related stress (duh)

Sound familiar? Since I've been out for a few days, I haven't even thought about purchasing from TPT (who's writing this post?!?). Did you happen to see the amazing stats from Teachers Pay Teachers? Sales from April 2014 were up 120% from last April. You're welcome - that was me! Not sales, but purchases. It was all stress shopping that I was justifying because it was "for the children." This is not to say that I haven't been shopping this week, but it's been at normal rates and "controlled." 

PS: I did just treat myself & signed up for Stitch Fix! I'm trying not to get my hopes up, but I am really excited for my first fix!

Speaking of style...I need to find some! I spend literally 55 hours at school every week and at least another 20 working on something for school at home. I do make it to the gym every day, but that's the only "me" time I'm having. I don't get out to shop too much, but know that I need to be doing (much) better. Glasses and a pony tail (with a cute headband) has been way too easy lately. I follow lindsey @ thepleatedpoppy on Bloglovin' and Instagram - super inspiring! I've also been intrigued by her weekly linky. I wonder if committing to this would be the motivation I need to spend a few extra minutes on myself! Does anyone have any other advice? It's a little tough when your days are in front of 6-7 year olds who love you (or not) regardless of what you look like and most weekend nights have been all about sleeping! But there's no excuse for turning into my mom (no offense Mom, I love you!). It's time for a little tough love to step it up a bit! If you have a source of inspiration to share that helps you, please let me know!

4. I've been plowing through projects this week! Last weekend I was in Philly for the outstanding CEC convention. I attended several "game-changer" sessions, including one on Autism. I loved it so much that I asked the presenters for the publishing information of their book. They were so gracious and shared that they were about to present on a follow-up topic. I attended and then WON the door prize - this book!

Next, I cleaned out the basement and scheduled a huge donation pick-up (whew!). Then I got busy on my presentation. I started it during all our snow days the past few months and I FINISHED it this week! It will still need to be tweaked and then I'll practice, practice, practice, but the PowerPoint and handouts are done! I'm presenting at this in July, but our first deadlines are this month! I can't share too much yet, but here's a sneak peek slide from my presentation (topic: Student Data Notebooks). 

I realize that doesn't provide too much info...please stop by later for the entire PPT!

I just finished it yesterday, so today I'm going to try my best to relax. I'm still all about Whole 30 and dug out this to reread and get my head back in the game. If you've read it & love it as much as I do, please leave a comment so we can chat! Thank you!

5. Lastly, I've barely given my blog a thought this week and my plans to completely organize my Dropbox (all that clipart!) failed. Hopefully a second wind will kick in soon and I'll get it all done! Until then, here's a few more pics from the past week:

I know it's not a great pic, but I ♥ Philadelphia! 2 colleagues and I were there last weekend for the convention and stayed right next to Reading Terminal Market (wow!) - such a great area of the city!

  I had to stop and snap a picture on my walk to dinner. 
I still cannot get over the scenery here!

This was my halfway point of my 1st long outdoor run of the season (ouch!). There was a Privateer Fest in Fells Point - a place that never fails for great people-watching!

I also snuck in some very reasonable shopping trips! The mint green shoes are at Target - go get them! I picked up the three chevron scarves to lighten up my mostly neutral wardrobe - they were only $10 apiece!

How did you spend your Spring Break? Please leave a comment - I'd love to hear from you! I'll be back soon with some new teaching ideas to share!

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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Spring Break Flash Freebie!

Happy Wednesday!

This post is a recap and apology all-in-one!

I hope you are having a wonderful week! 
My school is on Spring Break - woohoo!!!

I'm taking a much-needed staycation at home because I have a TON to catch up on, plus I booked my Florida get-away for the wrong week :(  

It turned out to be the BIGGEST blessing because 1) did I mention I have a ton of work? and 2) I rescheduled Florida for a 3-day weekend in May when it will be quieter (good-bye Spring Breakers!) and warmer! Win-Win!

I'm spending the week finishing this out-of-control super-exciting presentation! It's not until July, but my first deadlines are in April & May. I can't wait to share it with you once it's all complete. If you have a fantastic resource for student data notebooks and would love to be featured in front of hundreds (yikes!) of educators, please leave me a comment! I would like to display a variety of products for a mini-gallery walk at the end of the presentation. 

As an apology for being MIA most of this week, I'm offering a flash FREEBIE! My Sweet Treats Summer Packet will go back to the regular price of $3.50 at some point during today!

If you're looking for more summer practice for your K-2 students, I also have my Summer Splash Summer Practice Packet and Goin' Buggy Summer Practice Packet

I'd love to hear what you think!
Thanks in advance :)
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Friday, April 11, 2014

High Flying Freebie!

A quick post to share a freebie!

This is an old freebie that just received a new 'do!

The above preview is just a quick peek. 

Please click here to download the complete set!

I hope you can use them with your students :)

This post was linked up with:
Classroom Freebies Manic Monday

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Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Helping Henry Fundraiser

Happy Wednesday!

Today is my last day before Spring Break! 

On the schedule is a little party in Power Hour because it's our last class before we switch around groups. This party will include cookies, a few Easter treats, and playdough using my Sculpt It! Pack. This is my recurring party that I've thrown before (with different students). I'll be sure to post pictures on Instagram!

Here's a freebie sculpting "warm-up" page we'll be using:

Then I'll be teaching two phonics rotations (4 small groups), writing, a lunch team meeting, math, comprehension, after school meeting, leave by 7:00 (I hope!) and HOME! 

I'm getting picked up for early tomorrow morning to attend THIS for the next few days! I'll be sure to share all the amazing things I learn - I can hardly wait! I also just realized we'll be walking distance from Reading Market - what a lifesaver for inexpensive and healthy meal choices. 

Leaving two days early will be sad though because I'll be missing a lot of school fun. We had an anonymous donor provide 2 moonbounces (!!!) for our students after last week's events. It will be set up all day tomorrow and there will even be a teacher competition! Then Friday is a rescheduled Field Day (postponed previously for weather). I'm sad to miss all the fun and asked my co-teachers to take lots of pictures!

I wanted to share an amazing fundraiser I'm so happy to be participating in. Wait until you read all about this adorable boy and family! The fundraiser is called Helping Henry and is organized by Susan at First Grade Friendly Froggies. This is her first post in a series highlighting the 30 terrific products you can purchase as a bundle to support the family. Please be sure to bookmark her blog to see more - she's updating daily!

There's also a Facebook Page called Healing for Henry - this page helps you learn more about this precious boy...wait until you see the pictures :)

I donated my Write Me a Story Pack for the fundraiser. 
You can check out the entire bundle here!

Thank you for all your support!

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Monday, April 7, 2014

Spring Literacy Fun!

Happy Monday!

This is our last Monday before Spring Break!!! 

Our Spring Break starts with an early release (12:15) this Friday. Staff returns for Professional Development on Tuesday April 22nd, and students return the following day. I have so many school projects to tackle throughout the break...more on that later!

So last week was a bit different for our school than most and I think I was able to process it more over the weekend. We had gone back to school Friday with literally no time to rest or even think. I was doing pretty well on Friday evening and then started to get a bit emotional on Saturday (mixed with being waaayyy overtired). And then yesterday, I'm not sure what happened...Mr. D woke up with the stomach flu and I took care of him and things around the house. It was great to get my mind off of everything, but then next thing I knew it was 4:30 and I had fallen asleep. I slept more than 10 hours straight! Last time I've done that? Never! I average 7 hours if I'm lucky. I guess I really needed it!

I woke up this morning to a few emails from school. We'll have additional counseling supports returning this week for students, families, and staff. It also looks like we'll be having a moonbounce (?!?) at our school at the end of the week! I imagine some sweet soul has donated the use of it for our students! 

It's a short week for me because I'm leaving with two OUTSTANDING special educators to drive to Philly early Thursday morning to attend the Council for Exceptional Children Convention. I'm so excited!! Even the conversation (and laughs) on the 2-hour drive will count as professional development! We return Saturday evening and then Spring Break will officially begin!

Here's my jamicure in celebration of the conference!

This week, I will be concentrating on making things as normal as possible for students, plus wrap up ALL the learning we need to fit in before the break. I can't take a break for additional Spring and Easter activities, so I have to mix it in wherever it fits:

We'll be using my Spring Sentence Builders set.
My students ♥ these!

The preview above shows only a few pages from the packet!
Last week, we worked with the model sentences. This week, we'll be moving on to the Sentence Scramblers!

My reading intervention group will also be reviewing with this packet:

What will you be doing to celebrate spring with your students? 
Please leave a comment below! Thanks!

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Saturday, April 5, 2014

A Special Thank You Freebie

Happy Saturday! I hope everyone had a great week!

We have one more school week to go before Spring Break!

This past week started with spring fever and X's on the calendar counting the days to the much-needed break. However, it ended very differently. This week is hopefully the most memorable week I will ever experience in my teaching career.

On Thursday morning, I was meeting with my reading intervention group. The block runs from 8:30-9:15 with our first graders moving from their homerooms to meet with their "Power Hour" teachers. I have 15 students, including students with IEP goals/objectives, 504s, and other students who are currently performing below-grade level.

At 8:55 am, as we had just rotated small Guided Reading groups, we heard the signal for a lockdown. We practice our drill often and immediately moved to our positions: huddled under a table in the corner, silent, and lights off. It was a bit different than our drills because the students were not with their homeroom teacher, but they still knew exactly what to do.

My thoughts...ugh, the 2nd group is going to miss their reading! However, after being in lockdown for over 15 minutes, I began to realize this was a bit different. Then 15 minutes passed, then another 15. Then I heard sirens. Then helicopters. More sirens.

There was no communication from the administration, so I checked my phone to see what I could find out. That was such a TERRIBLE idea! Facebook was full of posts relaying all sorts of conflicting information...there was an intruder, a gunman, a student held hostage. Luckily, none of this ended up being true.

I began googling and seeing breaking news headlines about our school. I was able to see media clips of the news showing police activity and growing crowds of parents. I was reading all of this while huddled in the dark with 15 first graders! What would you do? I continued to compliment how well they were doing and taking this practice so seriously. A couple students were scared and crying, but most of them were just getting a little antsy and a bit chatty. 

The entire lockdown lasted 4.5 hours.

 We had 2 accidents (can't believe only 2!) and a few temper tantrums. But for the most part, I was incredibly impressed. The only times I truly felt worried was when you could hear noises in the hall (slamming doors) and then at the 2 hour mark, a police officer unlocked my door and yelled "everyone okay?" and then locked us back in with no explanation.

The police decided to evacuate the 1200 students (we are a combined elementary/middle school) room by room using the SWAT team. It felt like forever, but eventually we heard our door being unlocked. In stepped the most humongous man we'd ever seen wearing head-to-toe SWAT gear! He had 3 rifles! My students and I were speechless. He gave us directions to line up and led us out of the room. We passed dozens of SWAT team members while we were escorted to a bus. Then we were led by police escort to a nearby school. We spent the next five hours at the school trying to dismiss 1200 students literally one-by-one. Police had to clear each child and make sure they were reunited with the right person. You can just imagine how the parents felt. It had been over 9 hours since they were reading all the awful news reports and social media (misleading) information. The police had difficulty handling the rowdy crowds!

The whole situation ended up being a complete misunderstanding and there was not a gunman or any danger.  I can't provide any more details, but I'm sure google can :)

Every child was home safe and sound by 6:00 pm. We had school the following day (about half of the students showed up) and the mayor and police commissioner were on hand to celebrate our students and all the courage they showed throughout the process.

Here's what I learned throughout this ordeal:

* My school was completely ready for the emergency - I had my room locked down in under 15 seconds and knew exactly what to do. I'm so grateful for all the practices we've had!

* My students are total rockstars! I was so proud of them!

* I'm feeling a bit overwhelmed with the responsibility we have over these little lives. I teach in a generally unsafe area and always knew that there's a chance that I will be put in a position to protect my students. However, it really hit me on Thursday how true that is! These parents trust their children to us and I had no way of communicating to them that their child was safe. 
It just didn't feel right.

Friday was more about celebrating than academics. We scrapped many of our lesson plan activities because attendance was so low. We had our first graders write thank you letters to the SWAT team, mayor, and members of the community who helped out (there were so many good souls who pitched in!).  
I created this to support the writing activity:

Included: 2 letter writing formats (portrait and landscape), plus a quarter-page word bank. I hope you never have to use this!

Enjoy your weekend!

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