Sunday, October 4, 2015

Currently in October...

Reading... Al Capone Does My Homework...still.  It's hard to find independent reading time when all the pets leave me alone.

Playing... a delightful game called how long can I procrastinate finishing grading before panic sets in.  I've got a few reading tests left, but I seem to seriously lack the motivation to finish them.  It's not even a long test, I just don't seem to want to focus.

Watching... Football.  It's Sunday.  This is what we do.

Trying... to be productive. I'm procrastinating work with other work, so that counts, right?

Cooking... salsa verde chicken in the crockpot for dinner.  Boneless, skinless chicken breasts, a bottle of Blue Moon, a jar of green salsa, and a dash of cumin.  Simmering on low for eight hours, then will be shredded for tacos for dinner. 

As a happy coincidence, October 4th is National Taco Day.

Eating... fruit for breakfast! 

Drinking... V8.  There's a strawberry lemonade version with low sugar and lots of nutrients, but it doesn't taste like vegetables in a glass. 

Calling... friends later.  It's been far too long.

Texting... my work wives. 

Pinning... wedding ideas.  I've got dress appointments in December and am fairly positive about what direction we're going with bridal party attire.

Tweeting... gosh, about nothing! It's been a while since I've been on instagram and twitter.

Going... to Arizona soon!

Loving... life.  Focusing on the amazing people in my life and trying not to be sad about friendships ending.  Some just naturally run their course. 

Hating... my allergies.  Crosswalk duty, playground duty, and walks with Waffles aren't helping!

Discovering... my life is an endless series of baby showers.  We just had one at work.  There is another one on Tuesday.  There will be another one in November.  All my friends are having babies...on purpose.  Welcome to adulthood.

Thinking... about a nap.  Goodness I love naps.

Feeling... sleepy!  It was a busy, busy weekend and I'm just catching my breath.  I'm so fortunate to have great friends.  Last night we went to Greek fest (Opa!) and a friend's birthday party.

Hoping (for)... cooler temperatures.  It's October. I'd like to shut off the AC and open the screen door. 

Listening (to)... Football. Obviously. 

Celebrating... my future FIL's (Father-in-law) birthday later.  

Smelling... nothing. Thank you allergies.

Thanking... my tribe.  You know who you are.

Considering... joining the nap party that's happening in the house.  Waffles is asleep at my feet and Crookshanks is on the counter.  

Starting... freak out about paying for the wedding.  Thank goodness we have help...but still.

Finishing... grading.  It's an endless, daunting task.  Then finishing lesson plans.  Sigh.

What are YOU up to currently?

Saturday, October 3, 2015

October Goals

As I {previously shared}, I got through about half of my {September} goals...and that's okay.

Let's do some goal setting for October!

1)  For the love of all things holy, I need to finish this dang book:

It's good, I'm just struggling to find time to read independently...without pets on my lap.

2) Purchase and start this highly anticipated book:

I thought it was Annabeth's brother, but alas, Magnus is her cousin.  It's in the newest Scholastic book flyers that I distributed, so I'll be buying myself one.  There were lots of other great books, so I might spend some of my points and stock up on new things for my students.  

3) Work on our wedding website.  We decided (okay, I decided) to make a free one to fill our out of state guests in on events.  I've started one on the knot, I just have to finish it.

4) Buy a new computer.  B's is....eight.  Yes, eight. It's a third grader.  It's time for a new one.  We're visiting my family at the end of the month, so it's a perfect time to get my brother's feedback (since he works for Microsoft) and get a new one.  It's not perfect timing (because it never is), but we've been putting this off for about a year.  He needs it for school and I need it for work.

5) Make the second {DEN ambassador meeting} even more awesome than the first!  I've already got a few more teachers interested in attending, which is great.

6) Attend a cultural event.  We're actually going to Greek Fest tonight, so this one will be easily accomplished!  One of the great things about Vegas is that there are lots of fun things like this.

7) Visit the {Bellagio gardens}.  We went over the summer and enjoyed their underwater display, but I guess they've changed it again for fall.  It's free to get in and there's a chocolate store nearby.  If B doesn't want to go (or has class), I'm sure I can talk some of my gals into going...right?

8) Make something with apples.  It might be an apple pie.  It might be apple cinnamon sangria.  Okay, it will probably be the sangria.  A friend just sent me a video of a new recipe and it looks fairly easy.

9) Have a girls day.  We're doing a Frankenstein Jamberry Wrap Swap on the 17th and playing with make up (always fun), but I want to do a happy hour with my bridesmaids (the ones that are here).  I also want to do a happy hour with some of my lovely coworkers.  Y'all down for that?

10) Catch up with old friends.  It's been far too long since I've talked with some of them on the phone.  There's been some childish antics with "friends" here, so I'm ready to cut my losses and focus on the amazing people that I do have in my life.  

11) Start Battle of the Books!  Mrs. H, the librarian, and I have been hyping this up to the fourth and fifth graders.  We're collecting permission slips and getting ready to start our after school book lounge.  We're offering the kids some guidance, but the Battle of the Books is totally up to them.  We wanted to give them extra reading time in the library after school and offer structure, but it's up to them.  

12) Catch up on grading (almost done), finish the next two regions for social studies (the West Region is part way done), and maybe even get ahead in terms of planning (a girl can dream).

13)  Continue to be extra patient with my students.  Some of them have a lot going on at home and act out in school because they're having trouble coping.  This is totally understandable, it's just taking some additional patience on my end.  Patience that I quickly feel I'm running out of.  It's hard with 34 students.  It's hard when some of them are able to focus for thirty seconds at a time and constantly shout out.  It's hard to continue to be patient when I have ten different private hallway conversations with a student on a daily basis about class norms.'s necessary.  

14) Figure out my school costume.  We're doing a theme for fifth grade...and the theme is balls.  We're not the most appropriate ones, I know.  It's more of a joke for the adults.  I'm thinking of being a disco ball or a bowling ball.  Totally fine costume by itself, but then when the teachers realize that all of the fifth grade teachers have something to do with balls...hilarity will ensue.  The kids won't get it.  But it makes us giggle. 

So apparently my "top ten" got a little over zealous and I now have 14 goals for the month.  But...overplanning is how I live my life.

What will you accomplish this October?

Oh...hey October

I'm pretty sure I blinked at here we are in the beginning of October.  I glanced back at my {September Goals} and realized I didn't accomplish all of them.

Here's the recap:

1) Catch up on blogging
      This one is a work in progress!

2) Nail down a wedding date and venue.
      Check! November 11th, 2016 at a gorgeous venue.  Outdoor ceremony, indoor reception.

3) Finish Al Capone Does My Homework
      ...still working on it.

4) Put the house back together
      It's in it's normal state of relative cleanliness. 

5) Decorate for fall
     Done!  Now I need to get out my Halloween decorations!  Yes, I have fall ones and Halloween ones.  I'm not putting the fall ones away, just getting out more pumpkins...with faces.

6) Get Waffles to obedience school
     We've paid for it, we've just got to schedule it.  That's one of our weekend tasks

7) Long term social studies plans
     Yes...and no.  They're evolving as I'm getting more input from the rest of the grade level.  We finished the intermountain region and I got some feedback on things to revise for next year.  The format is way more consistent then last year's, so we're moving in the right direction.  However, there should be more information on why each state has it's specific nickname, what makes a mountain and canyon, and more explicit instruction on the Rocky Mountain range.  All totally valid ideas.

I'll need to tweak that and then re-upload the ppt {here}.  The great thing about TpT is that if I upload a revised product, previous purchasers are able to redownload it for free!

The next region is the West Region.  Ms. C is from California, so she was super eager to sit down and help me include lots of information on that state.  We also imbedded earth quakes (CA), tectonic plates, glaciers (AK), underwater volcanoes (HI), calderas (OR), and volcanoes into the unit, so it hits both our science and social studies standards.

8) Finish thank you cards.
      I need to give Katie hers tonight, but then I'm done!

9) Walking schedule.
     In progress. It's still in triple digits in October.  I've got a sinus infection, so being outside isn't pleasant.  We're working on the walking.

10) Adjust the budget. 
     Another work in progress.  I know feeling this financial crunch won't be forever.  His truck is almost paid off, the security door and dishwasher are almost paid off, and we don't have to make another big wedding payment until July (hallelujah!).  We are both working overtime on things and it's a nice feeling to have a partner who is also making sacrifices for our shared dreams.  I'm working overtime on {Jamberry} and {Younique} parties and online fundraisers, having one here, selling my prep whenever possible (to cover another class that doesn't have a sub), and developing more products for {TpT}.  He's working longer hours, on call for one weekend a month, and looking for grants to help pay for school.  We used up Target gift cards to cut down on expenses and are eating out less.  I didn't really buy any back to school clothes and luckily grading has me so busy that I don't have time to go shopping for fun.

So looking over September's goals, I accomplished about half...and I'm okay with that.  I got sick (curse you nature!). I had work commitments. Life got in the way.

Time to revisit my list and make some {October Goals}.

Friday, October 2, 2015

The DEN has landed

Last evening, I had the distinct pleasure of attending another DEN event.  I wasn't quite a presenter, but I wasn't quite a regular newbie either.  It was interesting to observe the DEN event from the perspective of a future presenter.

Read more on the DEN {here}.

I brought two teachers with me and there were a few dozen educators present.  We did some SOS ideas (Spotlight on Strategies) and watched the DEN video.  It's strange to see some of my friends in the video...definitely a fangirl moment!

There was lots of positive energy and that's my favorite part of the DEN.  Educators are sharing their ideas with one another and celebrating classroom successes.  They are open to new things and sharing their ideas with each other.  Being in the presence of the DEN is such a rejuvenating, energizing experience.

I already have a few other teachers ready to join our next session (Oct 22). 

In a district that is so bogged down by frustrations (seriously, a second insurance hike? A mandatory Saturday session on insurance or they'll drop all dependents? Not okay), it's nice to shake off the negativity and embrace the good things about teaching.

I have a great job.  I have great students.  Some are more challenging than others, but I've truly got the best job in the world.  Being around other teachers that feel the same way is such a fulfilling experience.

It's a shame that my passion and excitement upon leaving DEN events is such a stark contrast to how I feel about a majority of the other professional development situations. 

When was the last time you felt passionate and excited about your career?

Friday, September 25, 2015

Revamping Regions

As I {previously shared}, I'm in charge of social studies long range plans.

I thought I'd just be able to reuse what I made last year, but after I looked at it again with fresh eyes, I decided that I needed to just start over. 

I wanted to focus more on the landforms of each state so students could see how regions were geographically similar.  I wanted to include vocabulary that they'd hear in the FOSS Landforms Kit (which is being taught in humanities).  I wanted to be more consistent with each state including the same information (images of state flag, state quarter, state seal) and the same basic layout.

This, unfortunately, is a massive undertaking but all the fifth grade classes are not only using it, but enjoying it as well. 

Last night, many, many hours after my contract time ended, I finished the introduction and Intermountain region powerpoint.  Coming in at 119 slides, it took quite a while to upload to Dropbox and TpT.  I designed it to be a ten day unit, with the first being an overview of what defines a region and how they're created.  The next eight days focus on the eight states in the Intermountain region, with one day at the end for a test.  I zoomed in on Yellowstone National Park, so that could be a day within itself.   

You can snag it {here}.

I designed the lessons to be about 15-20 minutes per day, since that's all we seem able to squeeze into our schedules.

This weekend I'll jump into the West Region with an additional topics on volcanoes, the Northern Lights, and tectonic plates.  From there, I think the Great Plains and the Midwest will be the next two regions, followed by the South, New England, and Mid Atlantic.  After all the states are covered, we'll be working on Native American Indians, Exploration, Plymouth, Colonial Times, the American Revolution, and the foundation of our government.  The year will end with a civics and government unit.

Hopefully this year (lucky #7) will feel like the last year that I have to keep reinventing the wheel and working so hard to create curriculum for my students.  There will always be tweaks and trying new things, but I feel like a first year teacher all over again.  It's a little rough this year.  But at least it's Friday!

Is it October 6th yet?

My dear friend Rick is releasing his newest book, Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard (book 1, The Sword of Summer) on October 6th and I'm even being close to patient about it.

I'm not quite at this level, but close...

Captain A is with me!

(Disclaimer one: I don't actually know Rick Riordan, but I have nothing but the highest respect for the man.  I love his books and he's easily my second favorite author, ever.  Sorry Rick, no one tops JK Rowling, ever.)

In the spirit of my excitement, I'm pleased to announce I'm having a:

All 39 of my products that are related to any of Rick's books are 15% off from October 5-7th!  That's right, anything related to Percabeth (Percy & Annabeth), Jason, or the Kane siblings will be on sale to celebrate the newest book's release.

Stock up {here}!

Monday, September 21, 2015

The DEN visits Vegas

In the fall of 2012, I was sent to yet another professional development training.  I prepped for a sub and showed up at Chaparral High School, looking very much like a high school student.  Even though I proudly displayed my school district badge, I was still questioned multiple times about which class I should be in.  I know, someday I'll appreciate looking much younger than I really am, it's just not that day.

I arrived in the room marked Discovery Education and found a seat near the back.  The room was decorated with a race car theme and the leader's bubbly personality was infectious. 

Throughout the course of the day, we learned all about resources on Discovery Education that extend far beyond assessment.  One of the most pivotal things we learned about was becoming a STAR educator, which allows access to even more resources.

So I applied and was accepted. 

Then we learned about the Discovery Educator Network Summer Institute, which would be held in Burlington, Vermont that upcoming summer.  Impulsively and on the provided lunch break, I decided to film my application video.  Mrs. B, who was my fellow colleague, filmed it on one take on her phone and I submitted the application before leaving the training.

I returned to my school excited to share what I'd learned, but put the application in the back of my mind.  Why would they pick me, a newbie, who had been a DEN STAR for all of twenty minutes before applying?

Well...they did pick me.  I attended the summer institute and it was amazing.  Catch up {here}.

Upon returning, I participated in the ambassador program and shared the DEN with my colleagues.  I then switched schools, moved, and skipped applying to DENSI 2014.

Once the dust of major life changes settled, I decided to apply for DENSI 2015, which I was blessed to attend.  Each year they pick a different location and it's always amazing.  Catch up more on my adventures in Washington DC {here}.

This year, we're gearing up to make the DEN even bigger in Clark County.  For the past two DENSIs, I was the sole representative for not only my district, but the entire state.  

Nevada, we can do better.  Vegas, we can definitely do better.

So, fellow teachers in CCSD, I invite you to join me for the Fall Ambassador Program, starting October 1st.  Yummy food will be provided, you'll get to hang out with me and the DE staff (always a blast!) and most importantly, you'll learn strategies you can take right back into your classroom and meet fellow passionate teachers.

Register on Pathlore!

For me, attending one of these sessions opened the door to meeting my tribe, to re-igniting my passion for teaching, and for making some lasting connections with educators in other states.

(After School Update: See above flyers! I had a colleague already sign up, hooray!)

How will the DEN change you?