Saturday, November 23, 2013

Pencil Sharpener Giveaway!!!

You guys.

You know I love my pencil sharpener from Classroom Friendly Supplies. (If not, see my previous post)

Well, lucky for you guys, Troy, from Classroom Friendly Supplies is letting me give away a pencil
sharpener to one do my readers! How awesome is that?!

The giveaway will run for two weeks, and at the end a winner will be chosen via Rafflecopter. What's in it for you? If you win, you'll get a sharpener in the color of your choice (green, blue, red, black, or pink). If it were me, I'd totally go with the pink.

Oh, and if you're outside of the U.S., you'll have to sit this one out-maybe I'll do a TpT product giveaway sometime soon that you guys can participate in!

And if you can't wait to win one, because you realize that your classroom is incomplete without it, you can order your very own at www.classroomfriendlysupplies.com!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, November 11, 2013

Best Pencil Sharpener Ever.

Yeah, I know, I completely disappeared again.

Maybe someday I'll become a consistent blogger again. Sigh.

Quick school year update: Things are starting to look up. Minus Friday. Friday wasn't a great day. Here's to hoping it was a fluke.

Overall, my class is starting to finally settle down and it has been incredibly welcome.

In other news, my photography business is really taking off and I have some incredibly exciting stuff headed my way. I'm beyond giddy!

But more on that later.

On to the real point of this post-The Best Pencil Sharpener Ever.



Ok, I'm sure by now you've heard all about the awesome pencil sharpeners over at Classroom Friendly Supplies. And let's be honest, if you're anything like me, you're a little skeptical about it.

I mean, how great can a pencil sharpener be, right? It's a pencil sharpener.

First of all, I just checked out the website, and it now comes in pink. Hello, classroom decor coordination!

So I've had my sharpener for about a year now (and because I'm a terrible blogger, I'm just now getting around to reviewing it), and I love it. No joke, I think our custodian just about fell over when I asked him to take the old, crappy pencil sharpener off of the wall (apparently no one ever asks to get rid of a pencil sharpener...except me).

Things I love most about this sharpener:

-It's quite. Enough said.

-The kids can't stand there and sharpen their pencils until they turn into little nubs because they're stalling and trying to avoid work. You know what I'm talking about.

-If we sharpen 20 pencils in a row, it doesn't smell like melting plastic. I'm talking to you, Mr. Fancy Electric Pencil Sharpener.

No joke. This bad boy is so amazing that one of my coworkers (who thought I was nuts switching to a manual pencil sharpener from an electric one) came to my room to try it and was so amazed that she went to her computer, ordered one for herself, and threw away her electric sharpener the second this one arrived.

It is that good.

Trust me on this one, if you don't have one of these already, go order one. In fact, order two. You won't regret it.

Here's the link: http://www.classroomfriendlysupplies.com/

Monday, July 29, 2013

Well, hello there.

Now that I've had a little "me" time to recuperate from the 2012-2013, I'm a whopping TWO WEEKS from the new school year! Umm, I don't know what your thoughts are on this, but I'm not ok with it. The first day back for teachers is August 12th, our Open House is the 13th (which completely blows my mind!), and the kids start on the 14th.

So I'm sure that if you've been a long time reader of my blog, you're probably thinking that I've already been working on new supplies, and that I've probably already spent hours in my classroom. I mean, come on, who doesn't love getting back in there and setting up for a new year?!

Yeah, not me. I haven't set foot in our building since the last day of school.

Don't get me wrong, I am excited about a new school year. My mind is trying to forget the troubles from last year and is trying to convince me that this year will be the best yet. And, you know, it might be. But after last year...well...let's just say I'm a little guarded.

I did finally start back-to-school shopping today. FYI-Amazon credit cards are pretty much the best thing ever. You see, my hubby and I use our credit card for pretty much everything, and then we simply pay it off at the end of the month. And you get credit on Amazon. So this girl just got $128 worth of supplies for the school year, and I only paid a whopping $19 out of pocket. Bam.

And then, since I was so financially responsible in getting supplies for free, I got to buy fun stuff with my back-to-school budget. Two new bungee chairs from Target, a new fuzzy body pillow, a bean bag, and a 3-piece zebra print rug set. Hello, comfy reading spots.

I am pretty disappointed about our Open House being the day before school starts. On one hand, I love the idea. I think it's pretty great that we'll have the chance to meet parents before school starts. But, on the other hand, I have a lot to get done in addition to planning for an Open House.

Plus, I had this brilliant idea at the end of the school year. You see, last year's class was...a handful. There was very little that they responded to in terms of rewards or consequences and it made my job super difficult. I even went as far as to tear down my classroom. Twice. They lost all of the fun stuff. Not that it mattered to them.

So my plan for this year was to start with a bare-bones classroom and then let them earn all of the fun extras. The chairs, the pillows, the lamps, etc. You know, thinking that if they had to earn it, maybe they would take more ownership.

But come on. There is no way that I'm going to have parents attending an Open House and not have my room set up. So there goes that brilliant idea. Drat.



I'll keep you posted(ish) on that whole "classroom setup" thing. Fingers crossed.

Other life updates:

-My photography business has really been picking up speed. It has been super exciting this summer, and I feel like I've learned more in the last 2 months than I did in the first 4 years.

-I've discovered maxi dresses. Where have you been all my life?!

-The Mr. and I went to Gatlinburg over the 4th of July for vacation. I was an idiot and wore flip flops in the rain. And fell on a sidewalk in front of a bunch of people. And then I fell again about an hour later. Down a flight of stairs. And broke my elbow. And spent most of the 4th of July in the emergency room. Oops.

-In case you missed my last post, I'm teaching 5th grade this year. I was holding out hope that our 6th grade numbers would increase over the summer, but no such luck. On the upside, it looks like I'm going to have a pretty small class.

-I found out over the summer that our amazing technology coach managed to pull a few strings for the coming year. My (now former) grade level partner and I will each have a set of 20 1st-generation iPads to use in our classrooms. I must say that I'm pretty excited about that.

-Probably one of the most important moments of the summer was when we found this bad boy. We finally have a trash can that Charlie can't get into. I can't tell you how awesome it is to not have to hide our trash can in the bathroom every time we leave the house. The refrigerator is another story. We're still resorting to a bungee cord and baby gate for that one.

And lastly, thank you to all of you who left encouraging comments on my last post. I may not have replied, but know that I truly appreciated the support and words of encouragement. I still stand by the fact that I have learned so much more from the blogging community and my own teaching experience than I ever learned in college. I am amazed at the fact that despite my completely sporadic posts over the course of the last year, that my list of followers has continued to grow.

You guys are awesome.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

An update...

Ok, so here's the deal.

I haven't blogged in forever.

And to be honest, that's kind of been the trend this school year.

I'll be the first to admit, this school year has been a tough one. There have been countless rough days, nights when I've come home in tears-wondering if I can keep doing this, and some unexpected changes along the way. Blogging was something that I loved doing-and I'm sure that part of me still does, but this year has been different. I've really struggled with this class. I've had a ton of behavior issues this year and unfortunately, my class doesn't respond to much of anything, let alone appreciate anything extra that I do for them. Needless to say, it's been an incredibly trying year for me. It used to be that I found myself so inspired to try new things with my kids partly just because I was dying to share new ideas with you. But honestly, I have been so uninspired this year, that it just hasn't been something that I've been able to make myself do.

Throughout all of this craziness, the one thing that I have been really able to get excited about is my photography, so I've kind of clung to it lately. Don't get me wrong, it's not like this will be my last year teaching, but I've been really inspired to work on building my photography business lately. As some of you know, I've been doing photography for several years, but it's been more of a 'couple sessions a year' kind of thing. As of right now, I've shot three sessions this year, have 3 more scheduled for this month, one confirmed for next month, and one that's still tentative. This is huge in my book. My hubby upgraded my camera for Christmas, and ever since, I've been devouring anything I can get my hands on regarding marketing, sales strategies, technical skills, editing skills, you name it. And I love it.

So, I wish that I was providing you with all of these awesome ideas-I really do.

But for the time being, I've just really needed to take a few steps back and focus on separating myself from school when I get home.

That's not to say that I won't blog anymore this year, it's quite possible that I will. Heck, I just went to the Daily 5 conference yesterday, and it was amazing! And that pencil sharpener that everyone and their cat is talking about--I've been using it since the beginning of the year, and let me tell you, it lives up to the hype.

Oh-and did I mention that I'll be teaching 5th grade next year. Yup. That's happening.

So.

Don't completely count me out yet.

I'll be back...eventually.


Sunday, December 2, 2012

Finally! A classroom post!

Hey! Remember me?!

I don't blame you if you've forgotten all about my little blog. I've pretty much been the world's worst blogger the last few months.

But now that all of wedding festivities are done, I should be getting back into the normal swing of things. (I know, you've heard it all before.)

So.

What's new with my class, you ask?

Well, that's a loaded question.

A few of my kiddos are, quite frankly, driving me a little crazy.

While a lot of my kids are settled in to the new school year, some of them are still acting like it's the first week of school. I mean, come on people, is it that hard to raise a hand?! And seriously, I know that you can hear me talking to someone-last I checked, that wasn't an invitation for you to talk over both of us!

On a happier note, my kids are really starting to L-O-V-E reading! Within the last week, I've finally won over one of my last two reluctant readers-thank you, Rick Riordan for writing The Red Pyramid.

Unintentional bonus: I've been reading more, too!

Confession: I was a HUGE reader as a kid, but once I hit high school, I just didn't have time anymore. (The irony? I worked in a library from my Jr. year of high school until I graduated college. Oops.)

And truthfully, I've really missed it! Not to mention, I can totally feel justified buying those new tween books when I know I can let my kids read them (after me, of course!).

My kids were SO excited when I told them that I found a new Lemony Snicket book at Target! We started reading The Bad Beginning as our first read aloud of the year back in August. When we finished reading it and the kids realized that it was a whole series, they BEGGED me to read the next book, after that, they BEGGED me to read the book after that. We're now about halfway through book 5 in the series. I'm going to really have to pick up the pace if we're going to finish the series by the end of the year!

After I read the new Lemony Snicket (and Wonder, The Name of This Book is Secret, Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life, and Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Third Wheel), my kiddos were dying to get their hands on them. Since I had technically purchased them for my collection, I didn't want to turn them loose in the library. And since SO many kids wanted to read them, I didn't want to hand them out, (especially knowing that I would forget who I promised the book to next) so I made some super-cute sign up sheets.

I didn't post the sign up sheets until I had read all of the books (I did buy them for me, after all!), but man, those kids were chomping at the bit! The day I was ready to put them up, I told the kids that morning that they would be posted some time during the day (you know, to avoid stampede). While they were at lunch, I posted them on the closet doors, and then opened the doors so that the sheets would be hidden. When they came back, I didn't say a word-I thought it would be more fun if they found them themselves. Half of the class was at glee club, so I didn't have many kids in the room. Most of them were helping me grade, or reading, or talking quietly. One of the girls came up to me and said, "So you didn't remember to put the sheets up while we were at lunch, did you?" (I can be a little forgetful, you see.) I looked at her, put a quizzical expression on my face and said, "Or did I?"

She bolted off to the closet with a pencil and went to work. Another kid saw her over there and figured it out. Then, they ALL rushed over to the closet. Now, normally I don't condone running in the classroom, but if there was ever a reason to let students run across the room, that would be it.

No joke, you guys.

My shortest waiting list had 7 kids signed up. The longest? 17.

I have 20 kids in my class.

I know. I was amazed, too.

(P.S. If you're interested, these are now in my TpT store along with a simile activity that my kids really enjoyed!

Another thing that they're super excited about?

Getting postcards from the Middle School Postcard Exchange. You would think that I was bringing them candy. They get SO excited about getting postcards! We've gotten cards from Japan, Germany, Kansas, and West Virginia (I think it was West Virginia) so far and they are ecstatic about finally getting to write their own postcards.

Their excitement about these postcards brought up something that I need your help with.

My kids would LOVE to have pen pals!

Because I have some behavior...issues...in my class, I was hesitant, but I had them write me persuasive letters to convince me that it's a good idea.

Well, it worked.






























You try to tell them no.

Anyone interested in being pen pals? I have 20 kiddos in my class, so I'd like to partner with a class at least that big so that all of my kids have a pen pal, but I'm not opposed to doubling up.

As a side note, I'm trying to get some extra technology for my classroom, and would LOVE to be able to Skype, but there's no guarantee that I'll be able to Skype, so there's that.

If you're interested, let me know! My kids would be giddy!








Monday, November 5, 2012

Well, hello there.

Hey guys!

Long time no see.

So.

How's it going?

Apparently it's been about a month since my last post.

I can explain.

You see, I got MARRIED on October 7th.

See? Proof.

After that? 

We may or may not have spent a week in the Dominican Republic.

And there was that trip to the pumpkin patch with some friends.

Top that off with report cards and parent-teacher conferences, AND moving-I've been swamped!

Somewhere in there I squeezed in a shoot for a pretty awesome senior and her senior pictures.

Charlie says hi.


To sum up, I plan to get back on track. But, married life is pretty great, and I just haven't been horribly motivated to sit in front of my computer lately. I do have stuff to share. Especially about the wedding. 

Rain check?







Saturday, October 6, 2012

Product Swap! (And a Super-Quick Update)

Oh my goodness you guys. I haven't even read a blog post in over a week. It hurts me inside.

I miss you.

But all this wedding business has been keeping my crazy busy-but more on that later.

The real reason I'm writing this post is because a few months ago, when I wasn't crazy busy, I signed up for Jessica's product swap!


I was paired up with Ann Marie from Innovative Connections, and got to try out her Reading Adventures Pack from her Teachers Pay Teachers store!

Let me start off by saying that with all of the craziness this week, I wasn't able to find time to use these with my students. However, writing prompts of any kind are ALWAYS helpful-especially since I'm trying out Daily 5 this year! Especially with some students in particular, extra ideas are incredibly helpful!

Obviously, Step 1 was printing. Again, due to constrictions on time (and ink budget) I wasn't able to print out the whole file, because this puppy is HUGE! The pack that Ann Marie sent me was a combo pack that includes Part 1 and Part 2 of her individual writing task cards, and no joke, this thing is 62 pages long! That's a lot of writing. And printing. But mostly writing. :)

So anyway, I only ended up printing Part 1 for the time being, but that still gave me 36 task cards! (And there are a total of 72 cards in the full set!)

Not too shabby.

Next up was laminating. You know as much as I do how awesome these little laminators are. I just love that little guy.

So I loaded all of my sheets into pouches, fired up the ol' laminator, and got to work!

I must say, I was getting a little sleepy at this point in the evening, so I was heavily tempted to take a nap while my pages ran through.

Once the pages were all laminated, it was on to the cutting stage. I must say, I seriously enjoy cutting stuff. It's almost therapeutic for me. I know, I'm weird. No, I won't do all of your cutting for you.

And that's it! All cut out and ready to go- easy peasy.

Even better, I also found that Ann Marie included full page-sized versions of the first 36 cards. Why? So that you can display the writing prompts on your interactive whiteboards! Pretty smart, right?

And, to top it all off,  she included two different response sheets: one that's unlined with a border that matches the task cards, and one that's a bit more ink-friendly that's also lined. Both response sheets have a place for students to write their name, the task card number, the writing prompt, and their own writing.

This ought to keep my kiddos occupied for a LONG time! I plan on hole punching the corner of each card and putting them on a ring somewhere in the room so that they can easily access them if they need them. Or, I could split up the cards into smaller groups, put them on rings, and place the groups around the room...

Decisions, decisions.

Make sure you check out Ann Marie's TpT store-she has a TON of ELA resources for all grade levels!

And don't forget to follow her blog (click her blog button at the top to check it out)!

In other news, I've been running around like a chicken with its head cut off this week trying to get everything ready for the wedding Sunday. Biggest stressor? Preparing a week's worth of sub plans.

I've spent SO many hours standing at the copy machine this week. Yuck.

But, everything is ready to go, I've met with my sub, and Walter has a temporary weekend home thanks  to Teri.

Whew.

As I'm writing is (at 9:40 on a Friday night) I have about half a bajillion things left to get done. Tomorrow (Saturday) we're setting up for the reception from 10-2, have the rehearsal at 5, and the rehearsal dinner at 6.

Um, I'm getting married-SUNDAY!

Eeek!

And did I mention that our ridiculously hot summer has now turned into a ridiculously cool fall?

A high in the 50s isn't exactly ideal for an outdoor wedding. Grr.

Anyway, I have a honeymoon to go pack for, and wedding details to finish up, so I'm going to call it a night! Hopefully once all of this madness has died down, I'll be back more regularly!

Enjoy your weekend!