Monday, July 13, 2015

Family Movie Nights

Awhile ago my husband and I realized that a lot of our 'tv' time was being used as a way to get our oldest to have some quiet time, and especially once we had our newest addition, it happened more than we wanted.

Being a fan of Pinterest (yep, some of you actually came here from there I bet), I was intrigued by the idea of movie nights. So, I set out a schedule where every Saturday evening for one month we would have a dedicated dinner and a movie together. The movies were, of course, kid friendly, and the food was too. I wanted this time to be something that we could all enjoy, but most importantly I wanted this time to be a moment of memory making for my daughter.

In the next few blog posts I'll be highlighting those movie nights. Trust me, we are a normal family, more often than not the expectations were not met, it wasn't always a peaceful happy dinner and the movie didn't always get finished, but we had fun and we were in it together.

A few things that I did to get started:

  • Pick the movies - Cars, Mulan, Princess and the Frog, Toy Story, and Cinderella to start
  • Find the food - seriously, don't reinvent the wheel, just look at Pinterest, there are a lot of great food ideas, I'll share mine for each move too!
  • Decorations - I like to decorate, but who has time, I usually just went to Amazon to pick up the 'table top' decorations, my kiddo loved them and now I have a stock of decorations for any theme I want to do
  • Expectations - let them go! Just do this for fun, not for a perfect evening. They are kids, the movie is after dinner, it's the weekend, just enjoy it!

Friday, June 27, 2014

Summer, school planning, and babies!

I feel like so much has happened in the last few months, none of which involved me blogging. Oh well! That's life. Now that summer break is officially here and I can settle into the groove of being at home and feeling organized I'll be back on her throughout the summer months with some revisions and new ideas to kick off the next year.

I always try to limit my school work over the summer, but I'm admittedly a little too type A for that. Once I see a great idea I have a hard time not following through with it until it's finished. My current project is making Morning Work for my students. Our daily schedule is changing this coming year and we are going from Homeroom that went from 8:10-8:40 to one that is going from 8:10-8:30. Those 10 fewer minutes really will make a difference in what I can do.

So here's my BIG idea for solving that problem, and dealing with that hectic homeroom time of day. Morning Work! It'll be great structure for the kiddos to know what to expect each day, plus I think some of these activities are pretty darn fun :) Basic template will be:

Math Monday
Writing Tuesday
Reading Wednesday
Science Thursday
Social Studies Friday

Work in progress but here are a few screenshots of what I'm working through. I'm using a lot of resources I already have, or ones gathered from Teachers Pay Teachers (love them!).
Example writing activity

Example reading activity

Example science activity

Example social studies activity

Example math activity
As I said, work in progress but I'm making myself a big binder with black lines so I can just run and copy them each week. The other main reason I'm working on this is because I want to have a structured activity for when I have to leave for maternity leave this winter. That's right folks, baby on the way! I'm due early December assuming all goes well. Another reason not to have blogged the end of the year, that first trimester nearly did me in. Thankfully I had an awesome intern who took over basically everything for me. I'm looking forward to getting the year organized early so I can enjoy the first few months with my students before leaving.

I'll be back soon with more info on Morning Work as well as how our new math planning is going. Hope you get to sit in the sun and relax today. Enjoy it, you earned it!

Monday, May 19, 2014

What is (in)courage?

Have you ever been completely surrounded by people but still feel alone? All of our social media connections should make us feel like we have a huge community around. But truthfully, if you're anything like me, it actually feels more isolating. Sitting in front your technology of choice, ninja stalking real life friends, is that really community? When did we lose the face to face interactions that once existed? Those connections that kept women sane, remembering that they...we...are not alone.

Almost two years ago I was yearning for community. As a teacher in a public school I am surrounded by students constantly, but I'm sorry..6th graders are not my community. My personal community was nearly non existent. Hubs and I moved here when we got married and all of my old friends were 2 hours away. Then I found (in)courage. My sister began working with them on some Facebook groups and so did another friend. I joined up with one of their groups for working moms just to see what it was like. I've been joining and/or leading a group ever since.

(in)courage is hard to explain, because it is still online. Still using social media to connect women. However, the difference, in my opinion, falls in the intent. There is purpose behind the conversations, purpose behind asking for prayer from these women, purpose in getting to know each other, purpose in encouraging and laughing and crying with each other. Yes, they may be from all around the country, but the group you join has something in common with you, and you meet there. You start at that small point, and you talk.

On May 19th (today if you are reading this on a Monday!) we are welcoming women who need community to experience these groups. Please, go to and watch my sister's beautiful video. Look through the groups, pray about which one is calling to you, and join. It's an easy commitment for the summer, and a great time to see what it's all about.

Some of our groups will be on Facebook and others will be on a trial site. My particular group (in)couraging educators will be using the test site because we understand that social media and teaching don't always feel comfortable. My awesome co-leader, Joesette (a homeschool mama), will be inviting all educator (definition is broad and all are welcome) to join us. We hope to talk crafts and share ideas (we might even fail and post funny pictures of messed up Pinterest projects..who knows)! Our prayer is that if you are an educator (young, teens, public school, stay at home, adults, college, anything), and you would like a place to come to, to tell your story, to be inspired, to be encouraged, to be heard, that you would find us and you would join us. We are praying for you already and can't wait to meet you.

If you are reading this and know me in real life, please join. You won't regret it.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

MS Walk

I work with some amazing people. Not only do they care about the students we teach but when someone needs support they are right there for them.

Today marks one of those days that I know will go down as a favorite memory. A beautiful co-worker of mine has a son who was recently diagnosed with MS. Upon reflection my husband and I were shocked to realize that we currently know 3 lovely people who are living with MS on a daily basis. Today we get to support them.

In just a little over an hour a group of us, some from work, some friends, some family, will be meeting up to participate in the MS Walk here in State College. It's gloomy, probably going to rain, and a bit chilly for May, but since MS doesn't take a day off neither will we. Today we will walk a little over 2.5 miles to show our love and support, because it really does take a village and no one should ever feel like they are going through this alone.

Check back later for pictures and updates. If you'd like more information, or a way to participate, it's not too late to donate.

Happy Sunday everyone!

Update: Team photo :)

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Reading on the Run

It's spring break around here for my school and I couldn't be happier. There is such a mental difference between having a last minute day off of school for a snow day, and a planned 4-day weekend. Yesterday was my intern's last day full time in the classroom for the next month, it's the beginning of Lent, PSSA's are coming...ah! I need this break, and I can imagine I'm not the only one.

To kick off my break I got out the running shoes bright and early this morning. It was a beautiful time outside. Still chilly, but not freezing. I don't think of myself as a runner, I'm not the person who can go forever without stopping, but I try to enjoy it. My problem however, lies in running with music. I don't enjoy hearing myself huff and puff so music helps, but then I try to keep up with the tempo of the music (I can't help it, I was in marching band!).

My solution? Audiobooks! I downloaded Audible and picked up a copy of Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library to listen to.

My amazing librarian also has hooked me up with Catalyst Digital, a service that our high school has accounts for. My run was fun because I was sucked into the book. Though it's hard to run and laugh when there are farting geese in the book (just read it, you'll understand). I'm looking forward to getting some more running time in this coming week!

Of course I'm a sucker for real books too. We just celebrated World Read Aloud Day on Wednesday with some amazing readers and stories.
My intern reading The Dirty Cowboy by Adam Rex

Our instructional coach reading the cutest book about a penguin, it was a close read, they loved it!
My principal reading Fox in Sox by Dr. Seuss 
My amazing librarian reading some potty books! She read Poopendous and The Butt Book to name a few.
 My class just finished our read aloud of True Talents by David Lubar yesterday, and I think we are going to do Flora and Ulysses next!The Well: Bequest by Polly Shulman (it's part of the Grimm series) and Fortunately, The Milk by Neil Gaiman. I'll be honest, Neil Gaiman's book will be read first, he makes me laugh!

I always encourage my students to take books home during breaks, plus with PSSAs coming up in two weeks they will need some enjoyable reading materials for after the test as well. Being the good role model that I am (and a sucker for any good cover!) I picked up two while we were in the library as well. In between cleaning, grading, and a Wednesday inservice I hope to read The Wells Bequest (part of the Grimm series) and Neil Gaiman's book Fortunately, the Milk.
His books crack me up, I'm looking forward to a little humor!
So there you have it, a few good books and some sunshine. It may not be the 'traveling to Cancun' type of spring break but it sounds amazing to me. If you've read any of these books or have other suggestions I would love to hear them!

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Close Reading & Tessellations

This week was...odd. We had school Monday, snow days on Tuesday and Wednesday, then school again on Thursday and Friday. It honestly felt like a week of Monday's. Between rescheduling and moving around lessons, communicating parent conference information (oops just realized as I typed that sentence that I forgot to respond to a parent request) and getting my intern back in the loop about what's going on in sixth grade, I'm glad I made it to the weekend!

Every year I like to do an activity with my math students about tessellations. We don't go as specific as say, M.C. Esher or anything, but they have fun. Here are some examples of the work that they did. Ignore horrible shadows, I'm a bad photograph and it was late when I took these :)

They were required to use 3 shapes and the shapes had to colored in a pattern. We had fun sharing using the document camera (I use an IPEVO) and explaining our work. 

In study Ancient China I thought it would be a good idea to take a break from the 'ancient' and teach them a little modern history so they could get an idea of what more recent life has been like. My intern and I found a challenging article using Britannica and made handouts for each student. We then had them do a close read. They read it once to get a general sense of the article, then they partnered up and went through it more closely, marking new vocabulary words, important points (we call them VIPs), and questions. They discussed it together. Finally they worked independently to create a 3-2-1 worksheet where they listed 3 of their VIPs, 2 new vocabulary words, and 1 wondering. We then had the students sit in a group and share out their thinking.

They loved the strategy! They felt like it was a meaningful way to work through the reading and by seeing it twice they were able to understand it better (this coming from some of our struggling readers!). Success at the end of a hectic week! Woot!

To wrap up the week I have some students who are going to perform on Monday. Yes that's right, perform. They have a made up group called 'California Cows' and they are going to sing and dance. My class makes me laugh, I can't wait to see what they are going to do. Have a wonderful weekend, around here it's a bit busy because at PSU it's Thon weekend (FTK!). If you want to check it out here is the live stream. Pretty amazing stuff happening. 

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Encouraging educators & Flocabulary

What a crazy morning! It was a frozen wasteland as soon as school was to start (which also happened to be when my dear husband left for work and to take the kiddo to daycare), and now it's gorgeous and the snow is melting. 
a little taste of spring
In order to deal with all of this week's changing schedules I thought it would be a good idea to sit and write a bit. To start, let's talk about the newest session of (in)courage groups. If you were able to sign up for one I hope that you are enjoying it. Participation is a huge way to get the most out of the wonderful leadership in each group. Our group, the (in)couraging Teachers group, is going really well. I have such a heart for these ladies and I think that we are getting into our groove. My favorite thing is checking in and seeing one of the ladies post a link or write a post about what's going on.

This session has been about having a routine. Our routine, which I love, is Monday Prayer/Praise, What Works Wednesday, and Fun Friday. In between we comment on each other's posts and pray as needed. I hope the ladies are enjoying it just as much as I am.

In school related events we recently celebrated Valentine's Day by having an Affirmation Party. Students come in prepared with kind sayings for each of their classmates and we write them on large paper hearts that we hang in the room. There is, of course, also food! 

Finally, during a teacher training I was introduce to the website Can I just tell you how addicted I am? I think my kids are going to be sorry I found this. Everything is made into a rap. Yep, a rap. Maybe I love it so much because  my writing abilities stop at making semi complete sentences, but it's really fun. The students are engaged and the work is meaningful. Check it out if you have a moment (I know, right). In the meantime, stay safe and warm. Spring will be here soon (I hope!).