Sunday, September 21, 2014

Falling for Fall

Today's prompt: Fall Favorites. What do you love most about this season?

For those hopping over from Brave Love, welcome!

This prompt is a tad tricky for me.  Being born and raised in Arizona, then moving up to Nevada, this whole seasons thing is a vague, hazy concept.  Seasons are dictated by the weather: is it triple digits outside or not?  Trees don't change color and there's no white powder snow on the ground.  This is year six of living in Nevada and we had one snow day.  One.  However, that doesn't mean I don't get ridiculously excited about decorating for the seasons...even when the weather isn't cooperating.

Since I moved and started packing up my house mid April, I missed decorating for a few holidays.  I was itching to make our new home cute, but had to be practical and get the every day stuff out first.

However, once Labor Day weekend hit, I couldn't stand it any longer.  I got out my storage bin of fall items and got to work.  I switched out the place mats and center piece to a pumpkin filled with flowers.  I put white ceramic pumpkins on the TV stand and moved regular decorations out of the way, making room for fall ones.  A few weeks later, they're still up (meaning my furry helpers haven't readjusted my decor, which is a huge success!)

I love decorating for any season, but there are some things I love about fall.

Fall means I can wear boots with fuzzy socks and not worry about the state of my pedicure.  I throw on boots and a cardigan with a dress and tada, fall appropriate.

Fall means I can layer and enjoy my cardigans. (As a teacher, I think the love for cardigans is somehow my love of post-its and Expo markers.) 

I love that fall means scarves on a nearly daily basis as an accessory piece or statement.

I love that fall means football.  Football means B helps me grade or cut out laminate on Sundays during commercials and half-time.

Fall means we can go for walks around the neighborhood in the evenings and eat dinner on the patio.

Fall means soups and grilled cheese sandwiches for dinner.  Fall means easy soups in the crockpot and coming home to a wonderful aroma.

Fall means warm, earthy tones like forest green and maroon, which look great with my Irish heritage.  Fall is my best season, colors wise.

Fall means the occasional thunder storm and cuddling up on the couch, watching a movie and listening to the rain.

Fall means the back to school craziness and meeting a new bunch of fifth graders.  Mine this year are amazing.  After the difficulty of last year, I couldn't be more pleased with 27 happy students and their supportive families.

Fall means changes and getting ready for the holidays, which means family time with those I love most.

What are your favorite parts about fall?

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Reading Rangers

As I've blogged about before, our school is pretty adament about Reading Rangers and the WIPR block.  It's my first year, but I like it.  My kids have great reading stamina coming into fifth grade and are self-motivated to read.

Last week, I had to convert a bulletin board from this:

To this:

To make space for their badges.

I also wanted to make a count down to graduation board to indicate how many books they needed to read (and pass an AR quiz on).  I looked at my other grade level members' ideas, but I wanted to put my own spin on it.  I wanted something that was portable that we could take with us to assemblies or to the pod.

So armed with a folding poster board, tape, and velcro dots, I set out to make our boards.  I color coded the count down cards and laminated them so hopefully they'll last a few years.  I can handle remaking the board each year, just not the cards.

Here is the end result:

I'm excited how it turned out. I conferenced with all my kiddos (that were here) to see how many books they had left.  Most of them were bumped up to a higher reading level after our beginning of the year conferences, so they started over.  I am fine with it (and they are fine with it) because it means more of a challenge.

I'm really pleased with how this year is going!

(But now it's time to plan math. Yes, it's six am on a Saturday. My team teacher and I are focused and too stubborn to give up our other weekend plans)

Happy Saturday!

Friday, September 19, 2014


For today's blogtember challenge, we are asked what advice we would give to a large group of people.

I'm going to hop on my teacher soap box for a moment:


Read daily.
Read to your children.  Read to them before they start kindergarten.  Read them bedtime stories.  Read with them all the way through elementary school.  Ask them what they're reading. Take them to the library.  Set aside family reading time. Make reading a positive, daily habit.  

While I can throw out every statistic in the world, from a teacher's stand point, it is really, really hard when a child starts school and has never seen a book.  It's really hard when a family doesn't support reading. It's hard when parents say they don't like to read. It's hard to get them interested in reading if they don't see reading at home.  Once they hit middle school, they probably won't learn to love reading if they don't have a strong foundation.

Let's change this.  Be excited about your children's books.  Take advantage of scholastic book orders (because seriously, it's way cheaper than a store).  Go to the library. Read to them, read with them, daily.


They'll be better off for it.


Monday, September 15, 2014

Blogtember Challenge: Mood Collage

Today's blogtember challenge:

Make a mood board. Are you brainstorming a room re-do, or are you dreaming of glamping with gal pals? Share a collage of any kind!

We just moved and are slowly unpacking the last little bits.  We have a three bedroom, 3 bathroom, single story home for us and our two fur babies.  One bedroom is obviously the master, which we just painted a slate blue with a gray accent wall.  There are white and silver accents with gray ombre silk curtains.  Eventually we'll upgrade to a king-sized bed with a matching bedroom set, but that's not a high priority.

One bedroom is currently a box fort, but will eventually be a nursery (in three to five years).  I don't really like the guest bath that's closest to the box fort, but that's also not in our budget right now.

I do love my den. I've got a fuzzy shag carpet (that won't show snags from my fur babies) and a big window. I've got lots of bookcases in there and hope to soon put in an oversized lounge chair.

So with that dream space in mind, I made my polyvore mood collage:

Now, I'm a realistic person.  White is the worst possible furniture choice, especially with seating.  Not only would I get it dirty very quickly, B would or the kittens would do something to it.  Plus I want to be a mom some day and white furniture screams canvas! 

I do like the tranquil feel of this den. I like a decorative rug, but worry about spending so much money on something that will quickly be outdated.  I am trying to steer away from trendy pieces, rather focusing on timeless investments.  I love pillows, blankets, and book shelves.  Amongst the chaos of back to school, I think I'm seeking a calm, peaceful place to escape.  For me, that's usually books and a blanket.

I think I need to carve out some me time soon to just nest and read.. 

Um...what did you say?

Fifth graders say the weirdest things sometimes.

They're researching Native American Indians in reading/writing and learning how to create multimedia presentations.  Today we were working in the classroom and in the pod (on the computers) when one group of (rather giggly) girls called me over.

This same group had confused "Pablo" with "Pueblo" last week, so I was concerned about their question.

I was asked "what's a butt skin?"

Yes, butt skin.

Struggling to keep a straight face, I racked my brain to figure out what on earth they were talking about.  Luckily, it dawned on me: buck skin.

So, I asked if she meant buck skin.

She said yes because that's what she'd said.  I went on to clarify that buck and butt are two different words and that a buck is an animal.  That seemed to please her but I had to struggle to keep a straight face.

Naturally, I immediately told the rest of my grade level.  There are no butt skins during our project.

Oh fifth graders.

Today's (Work) Challenge

My school follows WIPR and is part of the Reading Rangers program.  This is my first year teaching with it, so I don't have enough evidence to make a sound judgment either way.

I do know that my kids have awesome reading stamina from years of following this program. I know they want to read. That in itself makes me very happy.

Today I had to do some classroom revisions.  Since I don't have any more bulletin boards, I shrunk the size of my "vibrant vocabulary" board.  Instead of an outdated word wall, this is where students take ownership over the interesting words, phrases, and vocabulary that they're encountering in their reading.

I dedicated the other portion of the board to Reading Rangers.  

(On a side note, I'm highly irritated that I'm short blue border! Off to Target I must go!)

I gave them paper plates to decorate as their badges.  Every time they pass a quiz (with 90 or 100%), they get a neon star to add to their plates.

I'm also in the process of making a count down to graduation board, which will be up soon!

Saturday, September 13, 2014


I have a lot of changes I'm adjusting to at my new school.  I spend my mornings remembering to collect lunch money and fill out agendas together before we leave at the end of the day.  I don't have to check for standard student attire and have an off prep period once every six days.  I have no classroom computers, but 28 in the pod right outside. I have five iPads in my classroom. My students want to read.  I have one or two stinkers and a few I'm worried about academically, but my students are great.  My coworkers are supportive. My school supports students' entire wellness, not just academic success.  There's a daily "moovin' in the morning" session that the PE teacher leads.  Walking out to the playground to see several hundred students playing kickball or doing zumba just warms my heart. The stress I'm feeling is from the beginning of the year adjustments.

But most importantly, I just feel happier when I'm there.

(This is the view from outside my pod's door.  How can you not be happy with that view?)