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Sunday, December 30, 2012

New Year Resolutions and 300 Follower Giveaway Soon!!

Wow!!  I can't believe that I have 300 followers!  My little blog actually has people reading it!!  I have gained so much knowledge, support, and friendship from all the bloggers I follow.  Thank you everyone!  To celebrate, read about a giveaway I am planning at the end of this post:)

Speaking of celebrating, I am linking up with Jen at the Teacher's Cauldron for a couple New Year's Resolutions.  Maybe writing them out will hold me more accountable:)
Blogging Resolution
On the top of my list is to host a linky party but I always am afraid no one will link up!  Also, I need to do more professional reading and would like to share more about books on my blog...maybe even join a blog book talk or something.  I know it sounds like a no-brainer but before I read "Daily 5", "Cafe", "Notebook Know-How: Strategies for the Writer's Notebook", and "The Book Whisperer" this summer (all due to inspiration from the blogging world), I cannot remember the last time I read a professional book on my own accord without someone pushing it on me.  Isn't that awful?  That is why I love blogging.  It has helped me realize that the sky is the limit in how much I can continue to grow professionally.  The next book on my reading list is "Student Centered Mathematics".

Personal Resolution
My personal resolution would be to not take things so personally.  I am a worrier and if something goes wrong, I tend to dwell on it and take it personal.  If I force myself to stop, think, and pray about the situation, it is easier for me to see the big picture.  I am a pleaser by nature and this is often difficult to juggle in everyday life because it is impossible to please everyone.  I need to learn how to say "no" and not sweat the small stuff:)

To celebrate another hundred milestone, I would like to host a giveaway in about a week.  One item I would like to giveaway is a copy of the book, "Student Centered Mathematics" at the winner's choice of grade level.  It is about $37 on amazon, so that would be a great prize:)  
I am hoping many of my blogging friends would be interested in helping out with this giveaway too!!  If you are interested in helping out, please leave a comment or send me an email at lillycharlie2915@gmail.com.  Make sure I can reply back to you and it is not "noreplyblogger".  Thanks!  Cheers to a New Year!!

Friday, December 28, 2012

2012 Best and Brightest Linky:)

What a whirlwind 2012 has been!!  I have been blogging for six months and it seems like it has been years!  Seriously, I don't know how I ever taught 12 years without all of the inspiration and resources I have gained in the last six months from blogging.  I can only imagine what 2013 will bring!  I am linking up with the fabulous Christina at Bunting, Books, and Bainbridge for her 2012's Blog Best and Brightest linky:)  So fun!
The best career choice I made this year was to somehow stumble upon the blogging world last summer and then immediately start a blog (why not?).  It has been the best thing to happen in my career.  The ideas and inspiring thoughts have really transformed my teaching in so many ways.  The bloggers that have become my cyber space friends have uplifted my spirits countless times this year when the stress has been high due to CCSS and APPR changes.

Speaking of fellow bloggers, I have bragged about my blogging friends several times.  These blogs are amazing and are all written by super talented, amazing gals.  They have provided me more inspiration than I can ever thank them for!

The most popular post on my blog was a Monday Made It on Editable Schedule Cards and shared writing journals.  I posted about the editable schedule cards I made and they became a quick seller in my TPT store much to my surprise.  I think the blogging had something to do with it:)
I also posted here about the shared writing journals I mod podged using labels from other fabulous bloggers.  I blogged about my avery label idea for students to keep track of which journals they have used.  See post here.

I love the shared writing journals but one source of nagging in my head is that I never make the time (or have the time) to keep up with reading all the entries.  I just hope that they are allowing the students to write creatively and I tell myself that some writing should not be graded so closely.  During writing conferences, I look at their writing journals but the SWJ are often being used.  Also, I am lucky to get in 8 writing conferences a week out of 23, so I only see each student for their conference about once a month.  There is a little reflection on that...any comments on how you read or fit in your writing conferences?

I think the best freebie I shared this year was the Decorate Your Writing Journal Handout.  The students love this activity and every time I conference with them I immediately see something personal to them on their cover and can ask them about it.

Making some new, more substantial TPT products have been on my to-do list for a long time.  I FINALLY got around to making some Monster Math Fraction Centers and just posted them yesterday.  This is the TPT product I am most proud of and time will tell if it will be a good seller.  The adorable monster graphics are from Scrappin Doodles.  I know I can use them in my classroom.  

I am getting just a little stressed about the NYS test coming in April.  I know they will be tough this year.  We have been using the same math curriculum at my school for 10 years and I have been pulling resources from everywhere.  I feel like I cannot get a good handle on the new core and when I see the sample questions, I almost start hyperventilating! 

The single, best technological trick I learned was the screenshot on my mac (command+shift+4).  I use it ALL the time and do not know how I went so long in the dark ages.  There is so much I still need to learn!

I am so excited for 2013 and know that I will feel more organized and ready when this September comes.  I had so many changes this year (blogging, Daily 5, CCSS, new APPR) and it won't be as difficult next year after going through it once.  Here is to a wonderful 2013!  Cheers!!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

R.A.C.K. Linky and Fraction Math Centers:)

I came across this linky from First Grade in Foxwell Forest!  Stop by and see her great blog:)

Here's how it works:
You choose 2 blogs that you follow {one newer blog that you recently began following and one blog that you have been following since you first began} and highlight them on your blog by explaining why you think they are such a gift! Then you give them a RACK by offering them one item 
as a gift from your TPT Store!

Here are the 2 blogs I am passing my RACK on to:

There are so many blogs that I am inspired by and have been reading since I entered this wonderful world last summer.  However, anyone who reads my blog, knows that I LOVE Tara at 4th Grade Frolics and she was the reason I started blogging.  
Everyone knows about her Monday Made-It linky and she is the sweetest gal who makes anyone who crosses her path feel special.  Since she has inspired me in so many ways, I had to choose her for the first RACK:) 
The second RACK is for a blog that I recently found.  This goes to Meg at Fourth Grade Studio.  I am not even sure how I came across her blog but she has a TON of amazing posts geared to...you got it! 4th Grade!!  It is amazing and her blog is fairly new.  I love her post today on using number lines.  She has a well-established TPT store that you have to check out too. 

I am excited to offer an item from my TPT store to these lovely ladies because I just added a new product!  My store is somewhat embarrassing compared to my fellow bloggers but I am so proud of this one!  I have worked like a dog (can you hear me panting? haha!) in any spare time I have had to get these math centers 
(my first ever!) posted to TPT.  

The common core in 4th and 5th grade is heavy on fractions and my kiddos are really struggling.  I made four fraction math centers for bigger kids and can't wait to use it in my classroom. 

I love the monster graphics from Scrappin Doodles and I would never have been able to make this product without the inspiration of so many from the blogging world.  

 If you think this is something you could use in the future, 
I would be so very grateful to have some PINS:)  
Thank you, friends!  

You have to check out Sue's HUGE giveaway at SOS Supply!  It has 4 rafflecopters and I am giving away two items from my TPT store in one of them:)  

Monday, December 24, 2012

The Children are Nestled All Snug in Their Beds...

Which is how I feel right now...all warm and fuzzy with my little ones asleep upstairs.
I am so blessed.

I am savoring these moments
because I know the magic of both my children
who believe in the magic of elves and Santa
will not last long.

I am remembering the true meaning of Christmas
and it brings tears to my eyes.

Bless all my blogging friends this Christmas
and may you cherish the time with all that you hold dear.

Here are my little elves:)

We did have "a real live elf in our house" this year (words of my daughter)!  
I took some pictures of our elf on the shelf and will share later.  
It was so fun!  
Merry Christmas <3

Friday, December 21, 2012

Winter Sale at TPT

The TPT winter sale is here!!
Thank you to Casey at Second Grade Maniac for hosting such a wonderful blog hop!
In between all of your holiday preparations, take the time to shop a sale in your comfy clothes:)
Merry Christmas everyone!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Tell Me Something Good (Easy Homemade Gift for Anyone!)

I came across this linky from the wonderful Rowdy in First Grade and knew that I needed to join in!  We all could use a little "Tell Me Something Good" after the terrible tragedy in Connecticut that is weighing heavily on everyone's hearts.  I found this weekend to be very difficult imagining what those families are going through.  It was also difficult to even think about it and pray for their loss around my own children who pick up on my mood.  Like any parent, I want to shield them from pain as much as I can.  This linky is "Tell Me Something Good, Christmas Edition:
Something Good at Home:  One activity I accomplished this weekend was making my annual peppermint bark.  I'm sure many of you have made this, but if you haven't, it is SO easy and just about everyone LOVES it!  With just 6 trays of bark, I made bags for 30 people.  I first got the idea when a student gave me homemade peppermint bark as a gift and I sat down and ate the whole bag (I have quite the sweet tooth!).

To begin, I start with some chocolate wafers like these 2 lb. bags (about $5 each):

I make six trays consisting of one tray of dark chocolate, one tray of milk chocolate, two trays of dark/white layered, and two trays of white/milk layered.  These bags are 2 lbs. of chocolate and I use 2 lbs. per cookie sheet (one pound white and one pound of dark/milk for the layered bark).  

Melt the chocolate over a double boiler:

Add 1 to 2 cups crushed peppermint to the melted chocolate.  I just started buying the peppermint crushed in bulk but my husband and I used to buy candy canes, unwrap them, and grind them in years past (what was I thinking!?!).  This is SO easy!

I spread the chocolate in a cookie sheet lined with foil.  Be sure to wipe the water off the bottom of the double boiler before pouring in the pan.  Water mixing with your chocolate = potential disaster.

When layering the milk/dark with white, spread the first layer and then melt the white chocolate.  Be sure to spread the white chocolate quickly or it will start to melt the first layer and mix together.
Next, sprinkle extra peppermint on the top layer right after spreading.

I place the pan in the freezer for about 15 minutes and then break into triangles.  The chocolate peels right off the foil.  Here is the dark chocolate bark:

Here is the white chocolate/dark chocolate layered bark:

I bought these cute bags from the Martha Stewart line this year.

Here it is all packaged up:)

Something good at school:  We received our second round of pen pal letters from Indianapolis!  It was perfect timing because this will be a fun activity in the days leading up to Christmas break.  I will be posting about the travel brochures they mailed us and what we plan to send them in January.  We also received a huge box of Scholastic books today.  I was so blessed to have used a lot of bonus points saved from last year and $3 online order coupons to get new books for our library.  I told the students that I would introduce new books into the library each day this week as a little countdown to Christmas.  They loved this and were already trying to guess what might be the new books tomorrow:)

I hope everyone has a wonderful week and continues to just "Do What You Do Best."  Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Monday Made It, Literacy Centers, APPR binder:)

I am linking up with my blogging idol, Tara, from 4th Grade Frolics for Monday-Made It!

I am absolutely loving all the products I have recently bought or got as freebies on TPT!  Cyber Monday Sale, I love you!  Finding time to sort, print, and laminate has been a challenge but I cannot wait to use so many items.

One item I bought, printed, and laminated are the Folktales Sorting Cards from TPT here.  I am going to use these for a literacy station to practice the subgenres of folktales (legends, fairytales, fables, and tall tales).  The cards also included Porquoi and Trickster Tales.

I made this worksheet to go with the folktales sorting card station.  You can get it here on google docs.  This is my first time linking a google doc, so please let me know if it doesn't work!

One of my favorite sellers on TPT is Rachel Lynette!  I purchased this Folktales: Fairytales, Fables, Tall Tales, Legends, and Myths pack and it really streamlined my materials.

I also love the December Literacy Centers for Big Kids that I purchased from the amazing Miss Klohn (Adventures of a 6th Grade Teacher).  Here is the Fact and Opinion Sort laminating (have I mentioned how much I LOVE this laminator?!?).

Here is the "Snowmen Sentences Fix-Up" laminated and cut from the same package.  Love it!

I also love all these literacy centers for grammar work from the TPT's Winter Holiday EBook!
"Santa's Prickly Punctuation Problem" is FREE From the Dragons Den and can be found here at TPT.  I laminated the answer keys for a literacy center and love that there is extra practice on commas, quotation marks, and a friendly letter. There is a little for everyone in this 28 page packet with pages for 1st to 5th grade!

 This is the "Great Gift Mix Up" laminated for a FREE math center from Lindsay Perro.

These are a great FREE math center on "Snowman Word Problems" from Time for Teaching.

After posting my APPR binder dividers for the Danielson Model of Teacher Evaluation here on TPT, I received a request to create APPR binder dividers for the standards and elements of the TED (Teacher Evaluation Development) model.  

Here are the Danielson Model binder dividers for each domain and component at TPT:

Here are the APPR binder dividers for the standards and elements of the TED (Teacher Evaluation Development) model on TPT:

Finally, for my home Made-It, I have the wreath that I spruced up for my new fireplace:)  I have never, ever modified a wreath before and I really like how it turned out.  I don't consider myself very crafty (the curtains in my classroom were made with a hot-glue gun and my teacher stool was made using scrapbook paper!), so when I can buy things and make it into something somewhat crafty, I am feeling pretty good!  hehe!  

Wreath before sprucing up:

Wreath after sprucing up:

My hubby figured out how to hang this 36" wreath on the fireplace using a hook in the ceiling.  It is barely noticeable and is tied to fishing line.  I have heard of people doing this before but never actually tried it.  Genius!  Can you see the hook in the ceiling here?

Two more weeks to go and so much to get done!  It always seems to get done somehow though, right? Have a wonderful week everyone:)

If you haven't heard of this new blog, Collaboration Cuties, you have to check it out.  They have an awesome, well-established TPT store and just started this blog!  This weekend only they are giving away a product from their store ($5 and under) to anyone who comments:)