Lazy Days of Christmas

I know that the song lyrics are talking about summer, but lazy is where it's at here in Krazy Town.

Teachers, you know what I mean. The last week before Christmas break really takes it out of you, doesn't it? All that excitement, culminating in a fun party! (Can you smell the sarcasm from where you are sitting, LOL!)

I tried to keep my sanity by keeping the kids focused on work until the last day of the week. It was a half day for us, so we "partied" all morning. First we finished up some work. Then we colored Christmas cards to send to a local nursing home. Next we watched a video - "The Muppets Christmas Carol", one of my favorites. Then we ate, and then we got ready to go home. As the kids left, I handed them their presents from my partner teacher and me - a Jingle Spirit Stick, a Smencil, a candy cane, and a handful of candy, all tied up in a favor bag. They were thrilled.

Our gift from the district was to leave an hour after kids were dismissed. However, I still had some paperwork (Yay! Paperwork!) to finish before I could depart, so 3 of us went to lunch (yummm, caldo  de pollo!) and then came back to work. I was finished and out of there by 3:00.

Then I got a haircut and went home and collapsed. I slept 10 hours Friday night and took a 3 hour nap on Saturday. Saturday was pajama day, hence the lazy as in the title of this post.

However, this week is shaping up to be busy - birthday dinner for my roommate's Mom last night, Christmas dinner at our house tomorrow, Game Night with dear friends Wednesday, blogger meet-up (!!) Thursday, and Friday morning I wing my way to Alabama for my nephew's wedding on New Year's Eve.

I am working on a post to show you a project the kids did for common and proper nouns, but I'm too lazy to scan in the student work for pictures in the post.

Maybe later. After a nap.

Merry Christmas to all of you in Blogland.

12 in '12

Miss Kindergarten and Teeny Tiny Teacher are hosting a fun linky party. We are supposed to tell you about 12 of our favorite things during the past year.

12. Favorite movie you watched:
True confession - I don't go to the movies much. During 2012, I saw Hunger Games and Skyfall. I loved the Hunger Games trilogy, but the movie? Not my vision of the book. As for "Skyfall," it was good, but Sean Connery will always be James Bond to me.

11. Favorite TV series:
Only one? That's tough. I don't know if I can pick between Castle, Amazing Race, The Good Wife, Project Runway, and Top Chef.

10. Favorite restaurant:
There are so many I like! I guess I will say P.F. Chang's. I always ask to go there for my birthday.

9. Favorite new thing you tried:
We finally got  a Trader Joes here and I tried the Speculoos Cookie Butter. Oh my heaven. Run and get you some!

7. Favorite thing you pinned:
This sideboard. Someday, I am doing the same thing to mine. Love it so much!

6. Favorite blog post:
This one about the Kray Kray in Hawaii. So much fun!

5. Best Accomplishment:
Changing jobs. Even though I loved teaching gifted students, I just couldn't deal with traveling between two schools.

4. Favorite picture:
This one, because it reminds me of our fabulous trip to Hawaii. This was taken from the balcony of our hotel room in Waikiki.

3. Favorite memory:
During our Hawaii trip, we took a tour to the top of Mauna Kea on the big island of Hawaii. With the wind chill, it was way below zero degrees at the summit. Mauna Kea is almost 14,000 feet above sea level. I took this picture there at sunset.

2. Goal for 2012:
Decide if I am really going to retire or not.

1. One Little Word:
Positive. It's been my word for three years, and I still haven't mastered it.

Make sure you check out all the other posts in the linky!


December Currently

It must be a new month because Farley has posted the new Currently!

Here is mine:

In case you haven't visited my blog before to read about them, I have 2 golden retrievers named Lucy and Desi. They are best friends and love nothing more than playing a rousing game of bitey face. They are good sports, though, and take turns being winner and loser. Wish my fourth graders could do the same!

EDIT: I realized after posting this that we have 3 weeks before Christmas break. It must be wishful thinking on my part to think it's only 2! I know I am not the only teacher in the blogosphere ready for Christmas break. Yes, I know I had a week off at Thanksgiving. But I need some more time to rest up for the rush to state testing. Plus, I get to go to Alabama and see my nephew get married on New Year's Eve!

I am behind in my RtI paperwork and I got a big list of everything that's missing from the files on my kids yesterday. On the bright side, my principal did say that she thinks our grade level is the only one doing RtI correctly right now. 

I haven't done a class Christmas party in a while (it has been 7 years since I've been in a regular elementary classroom). I need to figure it out this week! I will probably provide cheap stockings from Dollar Tree for each kid and have the students bring in stocking stuffers (candy, pencils, stickers, etc.) to put in them. Then we'll do a pizza lunch with kids bringing their own drinks. Throw on a movie and I think we'll be set. Thank goodness we have early dismissal that day!

I posted about needing new shoes last month. I still haven't found any. Sad face.

I treat myself to Starbucks every couple of weeks on those mornings when it is soooo hard to get out of bed. It's my reward for getting up. I keep a gift card reloaded just for that reason. When I go at dark thirty, there is usually no one else in line. On the rare occasion that there is, I treat the car behind me. Gives me a good feeling that carries through the whole day! 

Make sure you go to Farley's blog and read everyone else who linked up. And don't forget the Rule of 3!


Expository Text Structures

Our curriculum calls for us to teach the 5 text structures found in expository texts: description, chronological, cause-effect, problem-solution, and compare-contrast.

I was surfing the web looking for some new ideas on how to teach these structures when I remembered this blog -  In My Classroom: The Forest and the Trees.

Emily has had some wonderful posts with many great resources. I thought I remembered reading something about text structures there. Sure enough, Emily had a couple of freebies posted, including a great PowerPoint to introduce the structures.

Then I followed her link to her resources at her Teachers Pay Teachers Store.

Friends, if you have to teach these text structures, go right now to Emily's store and buy her units. Buy them all. They are fabulous! They contain a PowerPoint to introduce the structure, a number of passages that demonstrate the structure, lesson plans for teaching the unit, before, during, and after activities for the unit, comprehension questions for the passages, and information to help students write summaries of texts that use these structures.

I was blown away and bought every single one. I have wishlisted almost everything else in her store. This is high quality stuff that will save you so much time!

By the way, I don't know Emily and I am not getting anything from her in exchange for this review. I just wanted to share her blog and store with all my bloggy buddies.


Thanksgiving Recipe

I am linking up with First Grade and Fabulous for her Holiday Recipe linky.

For years and years, my family ate the cranberry sauce that came in a can every Thanksgiving meal. Nobody ever raved about it, but we ate it because it was tradition. I never thought about changing it until one of my friends shared her recipe for homemade cranberry sauce. Oh my goodness. Cranberry sauce was never so delicious!

This recipe is easy and fabulous. You can make it ahead of time and keep it in the fridge, but I have to warn you - you might want to eat the whole thing with a spoon before it ever gets to your Thanksgiving table!

Killer Cranberry Sauce

In a saucepan, combine 1bag of cranberries (washed and picked over), 1 and a half cups of sugar, the juice of 1 orange, the zest of that orange (use your cute microplane grater - works great) and 1 small knob of ginger (grate this with that microplaner, too). Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until berries pop. Refrigerate until needed.

Wishing you and yours a very Happy Thanksgiving!


Veteran's Day - Remembering Dad

One of the ways I define myself is as an Army brat, a description I am very proud to carry.

My father joined the Army right out of high school. Even though he wanted to go to college, there was no money for that. A child of the Depression, Dad worked for years to help support the family. Enlisting in the Army was his way out of a small town.

This is my dad shortly after he enlisted. He is standing with his younger brother, my Uncle Jim, who is also a veteran.

Dad was part of the Frozen Chosin in the Korean War. He also served in Vietnam.

He was my hero.

Dad passed away on November 2, 1998.

Happy Veteran's Day, Dad. I miss you like krazy.


November Currently

I just had to link up with Farley for her November Currently linky party.

  • Something has my dog Lucy all excited. She's been barking for about 5 minutes. If she doesn't quit soon, I'll have to go out and get her back in the house. I don't want her to be THAT DOG.
  • I had a rough day yesterday and really needed to sleep in. I had my official observation and right in the middle of it, one of my kiddos threw up. A lot. All over the floor. I grabbed the trash can and held it for him for round two, patting his back, and teaching on all through it. I better get Exceeds Expectations in everything after that! And then we had the Harvest Fest after school. Enough said.
  • I start tutoring after school once a week beginning Tuesday. I guess I really should get some plans together.
  • See above on rough day. Again, enough said.
  • New shoes aren't as easy as they sound. Without going into great detail, I have terrible feet and Birkenstocks are the only shoes that I can wear all day without killing me. I sure would like some cute ones, though.
  • I don't play music in my class. If you've been reading my blog, you've heard me complain about the talking (OMG the talking!!!!) my kids do. The last thing I want is more noise! But in the past, I've played a mixture of oldies, kid favorites, and seasonal music.

Now go check out all the other Currently entries and don't forget the rule of three!


More Poetry

As I mentioned in an earlier post, poetry has become even more important for Texas teachers. Our new STAAR test requires students in elementary grades to read, analyze, and comprehend poetry.

I am always looking for ways to integrate reading and writing. It just makes sense that kids write about the same things that they are reading. So I was incredibly excited when I came across this recent release.

This book has poems about famous people like Harriett Tubman and Neil Armstrong, written by many authors, including Nikki Grimes and Jane Yolen. Each poem is accompanied by a beautiful portrait.

I plan to share the poems -- except for the ones about people my students have selected to study. Then I'll ask the kids to use the information they have gathered to write their own biographical poems.

I think they'll have a lot of fun with this!

Who Are You? (Not CSI Related)

We are studying biographies here in Krazy Town. Last week the kiddos spent time reading a wide variety of books about the lives of inspirational people. By Friday, each kid had settled on one person to research.

I ordered these cool Scholastic posters to use as a final project.

One section of the poster has a space for kids to write their own book about the person. Well, here in Texas, students have to do 2 different types of writing for the STAAR test. One is personal narrative and the other is expository-explanatory. So I decided to make a STAAR style prompt for the kids to use to write an essay about the subject of their biographies. They will attach their final draft to the space on the poster.

Click the link to get the prompt, if you'd like to use it. STAAR Expository Prompt

In other news, Blurt Boy had an almost perfect day Friday. Whoop!


This and That

I know, long time, no blog.

I have been swamped - as are many of you, I am sure. What with report cards, parent conferences, and RtI, I've been mucho busy. So here is a bulleted update followed by a little lesson sharing.
  • Other Kid moved. Mom got tired of being called in when he was removed from the classroom for being disruptive and sent him back to his dad. I am glad in one way that he is gone - makes teaching that class sooo much easier. And yet, I don't think he is going to get the help he needs. Poor kid.
  • Blurt Boy is still blurting. He disrupted CBA testing and had to be removed from my room 3 out of 5 days this past week. His mom says she is tired of being called, too, but we aren't seeing any differences in his behavior. It's only a matter of time before he ends up at alternative school.
  • I am teaching the Enrichment group during our RtI time and love it. I have 26 of our top kids, including the TAG students. It makes me miss my TAG job.
Now for the lesson.

One of our TEKS calls for us to compare and contrast a biography/autobiography to a literary non-fiction piece about the same person and analyze why the authors chose to include the information they did.

I am using these 2 books for the comparison and contrast.


The first book tells only about Lindbergh's famous transatlantic flight. The second is a true biography, with all the facts and events of his life.

We'll be comparing the characters, setting, problem/solution, events, pictures, text features, and organization. It should be fun.

Oh, yeah. I almost forgot - I ordered my costume for Book Character Day! Holy guacamole, I am muy in love with El Skippito!

Now if I can just manage to get home before 6:00 every day. Sigh.

Poetry Fridays

My district started a big reading/writing workshop push this year. I myself have used reading/writing workshop for over 15 years, so the approach is anything but new to me.

Anyway, one of the requirements in this "new" reading workshop is Poetry Friday. You see, our new state test  is more heavily into genres than our last one. And our kiddos did pretty poorly on the questions over poetry selections.

I am comfortable teaching poetry to my kids, but I'm always looking for something to help with my lessons. I found this:

This book has a poem a week for grades K-5. Many of the poets are famous - Jane Yolen, Kenn Nesbitt among them. Others are not familiar to me, but I like to meet new authors.

What I like about it is that it is aligned with the TEKS, our Texas standards. The authors give ideas for introducing each poem and provide suggestions for other poems that connect. I have used several of the poems so far, and the kids are really enjoying them.

This week we read some haiku about sports equipment. Then we wrote some haiku in writing workshop. Fun times.

And for the rest of you who follow Common Core Standards, there's a book for you, too.


Inferring with Tanny

Do you know this book? 

While I love me some Mosaic of Thought, I find the lessons Tanny McGregor provides for teaching Mosaic's comprehension strategies are so useful.

This week I used the schema connections lesson from Tanny's book. (I have never met Tanny, but I love her book and I know that if we ever met, we'd be first-naming each other, so I am just gonna do it. If you know her, tell her I love her.)

Tanny recommends using a song that most kids can make connections to. (I won't give out Tanny's whole lesson here. You gotta go buy her book!) 

After we listened, we used a 3 column chart labeled inference, schema, and text evidence.

Y'all, my kids were so insightful! We started with text connections, talked about feelings, and worked our way to the lyrics. My kiddos were able to generate some powerful inferences and had no problem supporting them with schema connections and text evidence.

At one point, they had a debate on whether the main character was happy as an adult. They disagreed with, piggy-backed on, and supported each other's ideas as if they had been doing it forever. (I happen to know that they haven't. This crew was raised on a diet of basal readers and TAKS passages. TAKS used to be our state assessment, for those of you who don't live in Texas.)

I wanted to cry. Out of happiness. And frankly, that hasn't happened all too much. (Remember Blurt Boy, Other Kid, and Attitude Girl? Yeah.)

Anyway, let your fingers fly to order Tanny's book. It's just that good!


September Currently

I am linking up to Farley for her monthly Currently linky party!

Don't you love having time to watch a marathon? It's usually NCIS around here, but today we happened across Rizzoli and Isles. I started reading those books (by Tess Gerritsen) and the show is nothing like the books. Really the only resemblance between the TV Jane and the book Jane is that they are both homicide detectives.

I hurt my knee during all this move to a new school and set up a classroom business. I had an MRI on it last week. Now I'm waiting to see the doctor to hear the results. Ice, Aleve, and a splint are helping me deal with the pain.

I went up to school to work in my room today (re the needing to file message up above.) I couldn't get anything done because the lights in my room wouldn't come on and I don't have a window. It was pitch black in there. I used my iPhone as a flashlight and grabbed some files (re the thinking message above) and came on back home. Oh, well, the air conditioning wasn't on so there was no way I'd last too long anyway. (I texted my principal - seems it is some kind of energy saver thing. She had them take the control off so it wouldn't happen again. I think they should have had the control on the rooms with windows - one of my colleagues was there and her lights were working and she has a window!)

Good thing I love my dogs - they have been barking up a storm today. The neighbors are having people over. They always park in front of my house, so I let the dogs bark at them. Does that make me a bad person?

We are grilling steaks for Labor Day. Yum yum!

Make sure you go check out the other Currentlys - and don't forget Farley's Rule of Three!


Bribery Works

The bane of most teachers' existence is collecting all the forms that go home at the beginning of the year to be completed and returned. This year, rather than hound and nag, I resorted to bribery.

My school is using Spirit Monkey products as incentives this year. Go check it out. I'll wait.

Glad you are back. Now, I knew over the summer that my school was purchasing items from Spirit Monkey, so I emailed Lisa, the owner, to see if I could purchase a few items of my own. She said I absolutely could, so I looked through her pictures and picked out a few generic encouraging spirit sticks that I felt might come in handy.

Like this one.

My students received these customized spirit rings Friday

and I gave out the JAWSome spirit sticks to all the students who had returned all those stinkin' forms - 19/23 students got one. They were super excited! And I have only a few kids to nag and hound now. Win win situation!


Room Reveal - Finally!

I am finally finished (well, as finished as it is going to get for now!) with my room. Here are some pictures.

This is the door to the room. Each of my teammates is posting the pennant from the college she attended. My fourth graders should graduate from high school in 2021!

This is the view from the doorway. The cubbies on the wall are the only built in storage. I was slightly (ok, majorly!) freaked out about the lack of shelving. My school provided 3 tall metal bookshelves and 1 smaller one. One of my dear friends came through with the library shelving you see here. Thanks again, Raquel and Ted! This corner houses my classroom library - still a work in progress, but the kids will help with that.

This picture shows the view of the front of the room. You can see my attempts to tone down the orange with turquoise. I love the Paisley on Turquoise line from Creative Teaching Press. The turquoise fabric is sheets from J.C. Penney.

View from the front of the room looking back. There are desks for 26 students - I currently have 25 on my roster. I am trying to pretend the desks are all the same color. (That's not working so well.)

My teacher corner. My desk and document camera are housed here. The black paper on the bulletin board will house the daily objectives.

My small group table. The stools are from Ikea. The alphabet is from Ladybug's Teacher Files. Our class rules and some hand signals are posted on the bulletin board. Hanging next to it is the clip chart. I am teaching language arts to 2 classes and my partner teacher will teach math and science. We made our clip charts out of yardsticks covered with duct tape so they will be portable and can go back and forth between our classes.

Another view of the desk area. The drawer units hold extra supplies.

The large sheet will house my word wall. I am lucky enough to have a mounted lcd projector (how did I teach without that and a document camera?) and 4 student computers in the room.

I hope you enjoyed the classroom tour. Thanks for visiting!


Sneak Peek

I have been spending lots of time at school, with not much to show for it. My team met one day and then my teaching partner and I met another. The custodians still need to remove some furniture and bring in desks and chairs (I have second grade size chairs and not enough of those.) I hope to bring in books and work on the classroom library tomorrow.

But here is a brief glimpse of the decor in the room. More pics to follow.


August Currently

I am linking up with my friend Farley for her August Currently linky. These are so much fun to read and I get awesome ideas from all the other bloggers! Go check it out (after you finish here, of course!)

I love watching the Olympics. The gymnastics, women's basketball, and swimming are my favorites. 

I had lunch with 2 good friends today and had some wonderful onion rings. They are so bad for me, but I love them. That leads to the thinking that I need to start a healthy eating plan. 

I am wanting to meet up with the person I will be teaming with this year (I'll teach ELA to our 2 classes; she'll teach the Math/Science.) We need to talk schedule, rules, procedures, etc. I want us to be as much on the same page as possible.

I put the fabric and borders on my boards in my room, but haven't done anything else. I am hoping to get all moved in and organized this week.

My back to school must haves? Everyone needs a Tervis Tumber to keep their water cold. These things are amazing - they don't sweat and the water stays cold a long time. I also love this Thermos travel mug for my coffee. I make it just before I leave home at 6:30 a.m. and it stays hot for hours. Sometimes I don't get a chance to drink it until lunch and it is still warm! And who doesn't need cute room decor. I'm going with Dots on Turquoise to counteract all that orange in my room. I promise to post pictures just as soon as I am finished!

Now go visit Farley and check out some other Currentlys!



Did I tell you about the time I was teaching fourth grade, got really mad at my principal, and left the school to teach 7th grade English?

It was almost like teaching 4th graders, except the kids were taller and talked more (I know! Can you 4th grade teachers even believe that is possible? Trust me, it is!)

I had a super-duper teacher next door who took me under her wing and taught me all about middle school. (She did laugh at me once in a while. Like when I asked about walking kids to the cafeteria for lunch. And when I asked about escorting them to the gym and sitting them all together for the pep really. At my middle school, kids did that all by themselves! Wow!)

Anyway, in Texas, 7th graders (and 4th graders) take the state writing test. Ms. Next Door Teacher and I analyzed the results from our practice test and noticed the same thing I had noticed with my 4th graders.

Hold onto your hats, because it is a shocker.

They blew the revising part of the test.

And that was mostly because they didn't know the difference between a fragment and a complete sentence!

Exactly the same thing that was happening with my fourth graders! What a surprise, right?

So we came up with a great little thing we called SOS or Save Our Sentences. We did it in place of CUPS on Fridays.

In the beginning, we showed kids 3 "sentences." One was a fragment, one was a run-on, and one was a complete sentence. None of them had capital letters at the beginning or ending punctuation. Here's an example:

1. to the cafeteria for lunch
2. he ordered spaghetti he drank some milk
3. he put his tray away when he was through

Students had to Fix Fragments, Repair Run-Ons, and State Sentences.

In other words, they changed any fragment into a complete sentence by adding the missing subject or predicate. They got to make up what went there (gave them ownership and interest.) They had to repair run-ons by either combining them correctly or separating them into 2 complete sentences. Finally, if the sentence was already a complete sentence, they only had to state that it was.

Students did this work in their CUPS spirals, and then we had share time.

Y'all, the sentences they made up were so stinkin' funny! It became a contest to have the one that made the whole class laugh. Instead of complaining about grammar practice, they enjoyed it. They started noticing fragments and run-ons in their own writing (I know!) and fixed them!

Over time, we mixed it up - we would have 2 fragments and 1 run-on or all 3 would be fragments, but different kinds of fragments.

My 4th grade teacher friends have also used this with great success. I think you could adapt it for any grade!

Try it out and let me know how it works for you!

P.S. We got great scores in revising on that stinkin' test!


CUPS (Warning! Super Long Post)

I want to talk to you about DOL. For my friends who are not teachers reading this blog, it stands for Daily Oral Language. In traditional DOL, the teacher shows students some predetermined sentences that contain errors in grammar and conventions (spelling and punctuation). The students and teacher work to correct the mistakes orally.

Y'all, DOL doesn't work. Maybe the kids can identify some of the errors in those sentences, but they never transfer over that knowledge into their own writing. Correct a sentence from DOL one morning and you will still find students making the same errors over and over in their own work five minutes later.

So what to do? Students do need to be able to write with correct grammar and conventions. How do we teach them to do so without resorting to DOL?

We teach them in the context of their own writing. I use a system I call CUPS. I didn't invent it. I read about the idea about a gazillion years ago and have adapted it to work for me. The other teachers I have worked with who have implemented it also will tell you that it works.

Here's how it goes:

CUPS stands for Capitalization, Usage, Punctuation, and Spelling. Each student has a journal/ composition book/spiral titled CUPS. Each morning (in my class), the students come in and write a few sentences on any topic they choose. How many? I required 3 from my third graders and 4 from my fourth graders. They needed to write good sentences, not just I like my ____. When students approached me to tell me stories about what happened the night before or what they were excited about, I told them to write about it in CUPS. They need to skip lines as they wrote (this allows for editing.)

After they have their sentences written, students check them over for CUPS. This requires the student to evaluate each sentence for capital letters at the beginning and for any proper nouns; subject/verb agreement and other grammar issues (more on that later); correct punctuation at the ends of sentences and in contractions, possessive nouns, etc.; and correct spelling of grade-level appropriate words. (I encourage them to take risks by using interesting words and correct misspellings of those words without counting off.)

After they are sure they have corrected any errors, they meet with a partner. This part of CUPS is incredibly important to teach and reinforce. They must peer-edit. This is not trade-and-correct someone else's work. They must look together at one partner's work, checking for errors. If a student's partner finds an error, the partner must explain what is wrong and help the student correct it. Then the partner writes "Checked by" and signs his/her name at the bottom of the page.

After the partners check one student's work, they repeat with the other student's.

Then each child brings their work to me. I check for any errors and deduct one point for each one. Checking individually takes only a minute and affords me the opportunity to conduct a quick mini-lesson on an error. The child has an opportunity to earn 25 points each day, for a weekly total of 100. (We don't do CUPS on Friday.) It becomes a game to them to try to bring me a 100% correct entry each day.

I promised to tell you a little more about the usage part of CUPS. As I introduce grammar concepts in writing workshop, I require students to use them the following days/weeks in CUPS. For example, after we have learned about compound sentences, I tell them they must include one compound sentence in their CUPS. I also make them draw a star beside the compound sentence - just a way to double check that they included one.

CUPS works because it is editing the child's own writing. The students have a purpose for correcting errors. And the knowledge transfers over to those editing passages we have on our state tests in Texas. And one added bonus is that you will learn so much about your students from what they choose to write.

I am sure that this post is not as crystal-clear to you as it is to me, so please ask any questions you may have and I will gladly answer them.

To Do's and Ta Da's

Oh, my goodness! I have so much to do to get my room set up! I am moving to a new school and all my school stuff is in either my garage or a rented storeroom.

I have accomplished a few things - here are my Ta Da's:

  1. Decide on color scheme for bulletin boards (Paisley from Dots on Turquoise)
  2. Buy sheets that match said color scheme to use as fabric backing
  3. Buy borders and other materials for decorating
  4. Buy bins for classroom library
  5. Buy velcro, magnetic tape, Command adhesive strips ( I use these to hang everything! The poster size will hold all but the heaviest decorations.)
  6. Order teacher binder from Zazzle (I made it to match one of the papers from my blog design kit - I bought the kit so I could use the graphics in my classroom)

That is a great start. Now here are the To Do's:
  1. Make job chart and laminate
  2. Take all materials to school (a huge job!)
  3. Put everything away
  4. Arrange room
  5. Decorate
  6. Print and laminate labels for classroom library bins
  7. Sort books and place in bins
  8. Set up teacher binder - design and print dividers
Whew, what a list! And I know I have left a lot of things off - this is the priority list right now.

I'm linking up with Fabulous Fourth Grade Froggies' linky party. Go check everyone else's lists!

Fabulous 4th Grade Froggies


Classroom Before

I went by my new room to do some measuring today. While I was there, I took some before pictures.

This first picture is taken from the doorway looking across to the opposite wall. The orange things you see fastened to the wall are the student cubbies. I am not thrilled with the orange sponge-painted look. The black rectangle is a bulletin board.

This is taken from the front of the room looking back at the orange cubbies.

This picture is taken from the doorway and shows the front of the room. This is the only whiteboard and the projector is aimed this way, too. There are two bulletin boards flanking the whiteboard. The teacher desk goes in the right corner as you face the front - all the hookups for the computer and Elmo are in that corner. Lovely orange, isn't it? I do have 4 student computers, so yay for that!

The final picture is from the teacher desk area looking back towards the door.

It is a decent sized room, but there is one problem. There is no built-in storage besides the cubbies. 

Right now, there is some furniture missing. I am supposed to have 2 large cabinets on wheels and some more bookcases. The rectangular tables will be swapped out for desks. (I would rather have tables, but they are very difficult to work with during the state testing we do.)

I did some shopping for decorating materials and I have a trip to Ikea planned. More updates to follow!


Another Grammar Rant

Y'all, I am seeing this one more and more (and from teachers!)

I know, I know. It's two short words; why not combine them, right?

But it's wrong! Wrong, I tell you!

Alot is not one word!

You wouldn't write alittle, would you? No, it needs that space between the words.

A lot.

As in a parking lot.

That space is your friend. Using it will help to make me just alittle bit less kray kray.

Thanks for your cooperation.

Advice For New Teachers

Granted, it has been forever since I was a first-year teacher. In fact, we were still writing on stone tablets lo, those many years ago. (Just kidding! But we did use those purple ditto machines!) 

My first year of teaching was as a fourth grade teacher - in fact, I was THE fourth grade teacher at my small school. I had 34 students and taught every subject except music. (We had a teacher that came to our campus every other week so our kids could have music. Thank goodness - have you heard me sing?) I had no team mates to plan with and no clue what to do. I desperately needed a mentor.

That's why I'm linking up with Fabulously First's linky: A Teacher's Wisdom.

New teachers, hopefully you will be assigned a mentor who will be awesome. But if you aren't, find a teacher who you want to emulate. Tell him or her that you would like to "pick his/her brain." And do it! Don't be afraid to ask for help.

Get your classroom management under control. That is extremely important. There are all sorts of tools out there to help you and wonderful books full of advice. Find the system that works for you. Mine is a combination of things I've picked up from many books and teachers over the years. 

Finally, the advice I give to all first year teachers: Get through the year and want to come back. Everything else is gravy!


July Currently

I'm linking up to Farley's July Currently. Make sure you go read all the other posts!

I am anxious to get in my room and get it set up. It's the first time in 6 years I will be a regular classroom teacher, so I'm getting a bit nervous.

My favorite read-aloud is Charlotte's Web. I cry every time I read about Charlotte's death. And what a great lead, right? "Where's Papa going with that ax?" Love it!

My professional read is by Dr. Joyce Armstrong Carroll and Eddie Wilson, the project directors for Abydos Learning International, formerly known as New Jersey Writing Project in Texas. I am a gold level trainer for Abydos and this book is our bible.

Go check out Farley's blog and link up!



My sister arrives tomorrow! Then Wednesday, we (sister, roomie, and I) set off for Hawaii!

We are flying to the Big Island first, where we will spend 3 nights in Volcano Village in a little cottage there. I am hoping we will see lava flowing, but it isn't likely. We will be able to see a glow from the caldera and hike the lava tubes.

Then we will move to a condo on the Kona coast for 4 nights. During this part of the trip, we are taking a tour to the summit of Mauna Kea, almost 14,000 feet above sea level. We will be stargazing - can't wait!

After that, we travel to Waikiki and are staying in a hotel right on the beach. While there, we will be taking a very special tour of Pearl Harbor and the Arizona Memorial. We are also visiting the Polynesian Cultural Center, where we will attend a luau and show.

I'll be back with a trip report in about 2 weeks!


June Currently

I love the beginning of each month when Farley posts her Currently linky party. I love seeing the graphics she chooses. I love figuring out what I am going to post for each prompt!

  • I am not a huge Spurs fan, though I love me some women's basketball. But you'd have to be blind and deaf not to know our city's team is in the playoffs. Too bad they are snatching defeat from the jaws of victory!
  • Why is it that I can't sleep past 8:00 when school is out?
  • Going on a trip and changing schools/subjects is exciting and worrying!
  • I would love a blog design that reflects me. Any designers out there do Krazy?
  • My sister is going to stay in my room when she comes here before we go on our trip. Nuff said!
  • I would love to visit Tahiti some day. We went to Alaska last summer (would totally go again!) and Hawaii is next week!
Link up with Farley here!   Oh Boy


No Words

We leave soon for our trip to Hawaii. People who know me in real life will not be surprised to learn that I have spent a little time (ok, a lot of time) planning out our adventure. 

One of the resources I used is the Trip Advisors Hawaii forum. There are some really helpful locals who post there, as well as travelers sharing their experiences in the islands after they return home.

And then there are a few of the clueless.

Sigh. Really? Other islands within driving range? . . . No words.


Warning - Pity Party

So the school year is finished. I packed up 2 classrooms and moved my materials to a storage room until I am able to get into my new school.

Now for some back story.

I loved working with my TAG kids. I appreciate their geekiness and was so excited to have the chance to help them use their powers for good instead of evil. When I took the job, I worked full-time at one campus. Due to cuts in state funding, my district slashed the TAG budget. Some of the TAG teachers retired, others were put back in the classroom, and most of the remaining TAG teachers were assigned to work at 2 campuses. I got to remain at my home campus and picked up another one. I spent 2 days a week at my home campus and the other 3 days at the new campus.

It was miserable. I am going to go all drama here and let it out now that the situation is over. Look away if you don't want to join my pity party.

I felt so left out of everything at both campuses. I was left out of emails about those things that keep a faculty in touch. There were showers I never knew about. I wasn't invited to "choir practices." Teachers had jewelry/candle/purse parties I wasn't invited to. All those things made me feel incredibly isolated. Especially when they were talked about right in front of me. Someone is having a candle party and showing off her new house. The invitation was waved around in front of me. Yet I was never invited.


My feelings are hurt.

If there is a person on your campus who has to travel, please make sure they are included. I promise they would rather get 2 emails about something than to not get any. Make sure they don't find out about the school carnival the week it is happening. Let them know about schedule changes that affect their classes in advance instead of having it be a surprise the day of.

On the traveling teacher's behalf, thank you.

Orange You Glad

I am super excited by my move to fourth grade language arts. I looooove to teach writing and one of my most favoritest things to do is find that one book that changes a non-reader into a reader.

Yesterday I got to go visit my new school and get a peek into what will be my classroom.


The room is orange.


What most of you don't know is I am a redhead. I just don't do orange. I do lime green and turquoise. This is orange. Not neon, not UT burnt orange, but orange. Think UTSA Roadrunner orange. 

This is a crisis, folks!!

What am I going to do? There is one whole wall that is orange. That is the wall with the whiteboard and projector. The cubbies are orange, too.

I asked if I could paint. Nope, not allowed.

My vision of lime green, turquoise, and black went swirling down the toilet.

So I did what any good teacher does - I hit up my friend Google.

And I found this.

Perfect, right? I will use white fabric for the backing for my boards and I can keep my lime green and turquoise accents.

Crisis Averted. Life is good.



It's about to get a whole lot krayzier here in Krazytown. I have a new job for next year - fourth grade language arts at a new-to-me campus.

I love my TAG kiddos and the teachers at the two schools to which I am assigned, but I absolutely do not like traveling between campuses. Despite people's best efforts, I constantly feel out of the loop. 

I am excited about the change, yet sad to leave my TAG kids and my friends. 

I've been blog-stalking some fab fourth grade bloggers and making some purchases. I hope to post more now that the change is official.

May Currently

Farley has posted her May Currently linky party. Here's mine!

Go to Farley's blog to link up!

P.S. Farley, I love the colors in this month's currently!



This may or may not be an accurate rendition of what happens when scores come in. 

Join me in laughter. Ironic laughter, but laughter just the same.

Short But Sweet

Kiddo: Do we have TAG next week?
Me: No. Remember, I told you I am testing new kids.
Kiddo: Yay!
Me: ?
Kiddo: I'm going to the doctor - I'll only miss regular class, not TAG!
Me: (smile)

Fur Kids

My two golden fur kids just got through with a rousing round of bitey face, so I thought I would take the time to introduce them to you.

I don't have any skin kids (that's children to those of you who have them), so my dogs are my pride and joy (and sometimes shame!)

This is Lucy. She is a golden retriever and I have had her since she was 10 weeks old. She was the last puppy left in the litter and she was just the right one for me. She is super smart and if I hadn't quit taking her to classes, she could be an obedience champion. I had hopes of doing therapy work with her, but when I took a job at district office 6 years ago, my free time to train with her went kaput. Lucy is sweet and smart and the boss of the 2 goldens.

This is Desi. She came to me at age almost 3, a rescue of sorts. The trainer where Lucy and I were taking classes asked me one day if I knew of anyone who was looking for a golden. Seems her owner dropped her off for boarding and never picked her up. She had been there in a kennel for almost 9 months while the facility went to court to get legal rights to adopt her out. I had been thinking about getting a companion for Lucy (I am too old to have a puppy and she proved it!) but said no when I saw she had hip issues. (Hip dysplasia is a problem in golden retrievers.) An older couple took her but brought her back because she jumped and wouldn't stay outside. I got a call saying she was available and I leaped at taking her. It was just meant to be. Desi is not the brightest crayon in the box, but she is loving and loyal. She has some separation anxiety - she hates it when we leave and will lay down in front of the door in hopes that we won't go. She also goes in my bedroom if she thinks I am leaving and refuses to come out (we keep the bedroom doors closed when we leave; they are the only rooms with carpet). She also has severe thunderstorm anxiety, so the Thundershirt and melatonin come out when when it storms.

Then there's Hannah. Hannah was my mother's miniature schnauzer. When Mom passed away almost 3 years ago, I got custody of Hannah. She is almost 15 and is a brat. She barks at everything. She is jealous of Lucy and tries to boss her around. Lucy just wants to play with her, but Hannah rarely wants any part of that. She has an elaborate medication schedule due to being allergic to the world, having a history of bladder stones, and high triglycerides. However, my mother loved her and my roommate loves her now, so she gets to stay.

It's never dull, having 3 dogs around the house. The critters have it good here at Kasa Krazy, but I wouldn't have it any other way.


One of my most favoritest things to do is to visit blogs. Does anyone else click on links in the blogrolls of your favorite bloggers just to see what blogs they like? (That's a fearsome sentence, but I'm too lazy to go back and rewrite it. It's Saturday, for Pete's sake. BTW, who the heck is Pete?)

I clicked on a link from one of my favorite blogs and got all excited about the latest post on this new-to-me blog. Writer's notebooks - oooooh! So I got to looking at some pictures and . . . .


What I saw . . .

"What writer's do" (sic)

This is one of my biggest pet peeves. Here I am reading along happily and someone mistakes a plural for a possessive. My heart starts pounding and not in a good way.

Here's the rule:

If you are taking about more than one, YOU DON'T USE AN APOSTROPHE!!!!!!

Sorry for the shouting. Some of my closest friends might understand the irony of the caps and all the exclamation points.

Save the apostrophes for contractions (he is = he's) and possessives (belonging to friend = friend's).

There's nothing worse than seeing post's with random act's of apostrophe's. And for Pete's sake (there's that Pete fellow again!), please make sure that materials you make for your classroom don't have this error or we'll never get rid of it!

P.S. I emailed the blogger to alert her to the error. No, I'm not telling you who it is. I don't cringe and tell.


The Book is Always Better

I hardly ever go to the movies. They cost too much, there are too many people, and the people in the theaters annoy me with their talking during the movie.

Gosh, I sound old.

Hey, kid, get off my lawn!

Anyway, I trekked to the theater with my besties EG and DH to go see The Hunger Games. I read the series when the books first came out and decided to take a chance on watching the flick.

I am super critical when I see a movie based on a book I have read. The movie in my mind is always so much better than the one on the screen. Occasionally, I am satisfied with the product the theater puts forth. Usually not.

This time . . . meh.

I know they can't do a literal translation of the book into the movie, but I sure missed being in Katniss's head. I think the movie-makers also took a little license with the behind-the-scenes action surrounding the game playing. And what's up with the way Katniss got the mockingjay pin?

The book is always better.

P.S. We went to Alamo Drafthouse to watch the movie. Wowza! There's a good chance I'll be back at the movies sooner than I thought!

April Currently

I am linking up with Farley for the April Currently!

Have you linked up? Check it out here!

Back to Top