Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Spirals from Dad

My Dad was always very proud of the fact that my niece and I both became teachers.  He would often introduce me as his "schoolteacher daughter".  Each summer, when the back-to-school sales started, he would buy my niece and me each a massive box of spiral notebooks and boxes and boxes and boxes of crayons.  It was his thing.  I was always thrilled to have the crayons, but I never had any idea what to do with the spirals!

My Dad
When I started reading teaching blogs, I came across Step Into Second Grade with Mrs. Lemons. She posted about how she uses spirals during math.  I loved the idea, so that's what I started doing too.

Now that Dad is gone, I've made it a tradition to buy new spirals every year. He'd be happy to know that, I think!

My spirals are simple.  We don't have a table of contents or bookmarks.  I knew if I made the spirals too complicated, it would stress me out and I wouldn't want to use them.

I do model how I want each activity to look so that the spirals end up being a neat, helpful resource that students can refer to.

Last year, one of my students kept asking if he could take his spiral home for the weekend to look at. He earnestly promised to return it on Monday!

Sometimes, I just have the students take notes.  Other times we do interactive notebook activities. Blair Turner's activities are definitely my favorites!

Here are a few photos of activities we've done in our spirals.

I'm sure I'm not tapping the full potential of the spiral notebook. Any suggestions? Do you use interactive notebooks during math or language arts?  Leave me a note in the comments. I'd love to hear about it. Thanks for stopping by. 

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Inspiring Teacher Flicks!

As August nears, I sometimes feel the need for just a bit of motivation!  I have a few favorite "Inspiring Teacher Flicks" that always encourage me. Yes, I know they're just a little bit melodramatic (most movies are) but you'll enjoy them. 

Edward James Olmos portrays Jaime Escalante, a real-life Los Angeles high school teacher. He refused to accept that his students were not capable and set high expectations for them. This movie has been a favorite of mine since long before I started teaching.  For more details about the life and career of Jaime Escalante, click here

Kevin James and Henry Winkler star in this one!  [Henry Winkler--aka "the Fonz".  Please tell me that I'm not the only one who's old enough to be a fan of The Fonz from Happy Days.]  In this movie, Kevin James's character starts competing in mixed martial arts competitions to raise money for the school where he teaches and prevent programs from being cut.  

This one doesn't take place in the classroom, but it DOES have an inspiring teacher (and an inspiring student as well).  An English professor played by Laurence Fishburne agrees to coach Akeelah Anderson (portrayed by Keke Palmer).  Akeelah competes in the National Spelling Bee.

Meryl Streep stars as a violin teacher named Roberta Guaspari, who created a violin program in East Harlem.  This one is also based on a true story.  To read an article about Roberta Guaspari, click here.

Two of my favorite quotes from the movie:
  • "Who's plucking? Who's plucking my violin?"
  • "But if you don't listen to me, you're gonna sound so bad your own parents will get sick when they hear you. They might even throw up. I'm serious."
How do you get motivated for the school year? Do you have any favorite "teacher" movies or books?  Leave me a comment!

Monday, July 27, 2015

BTS In a Flash: Just for the Teacher FAVES

Heading back to the classroom after summer break is exciting, and we all look forward to it.  But let's be honest. It's also the start of a go-go-go routine and lots of stress!  I'm sharing a few favorite things that are just for me. They're things that make the school year a bit more balanced. Join in and participate in the back to school photo collage event with Layla from Fancy Free in 4th, Jamie from Diary of a Not So Wimpy Teacher, and Courtney from Ramona Recommends. Head over to their blogs to learn more.

A refillable water bottle with a straw...  I drink more water when I have a straw. I don't know why.  A bunch of teachers chip in to pay for bottled water at our school.  I refill my cup at least twice per day. I also like to bring flavored seltzer with my lunch sometimes.  Otherwise, I'm tempted to buy soda from the vending machine in the teachers' lounge. 

My Keurig and Green Mountain Breakfast Blend coffee...  I like to make a cup for the road.

Audiobooks...  I have a 40 minute commute.  I listen to music sometimes, but what I really love is listening to books. I've purchased some of my own  My library has a decent collection, too.  I avoid talk radio at all costs, because it stresses me out! Starting the day stressed is never a great idea.

Bars...  Our favorites are Larabars and Bear Naked Bars.  Sometimes, I'll make a smoothie or have cereal.  If I'm in a rush, these bars are good for breakfast.  

Fancy-schmancy binder clips...  Do binder clips need to be pretty? Of course they don't. But pretty binder clips are just fun.  I'm always tempted to buy more when I see them.

Thanks for stopping by!

Sunday, July 19, 2015


Today is my one-year BLOGIVERSARY!  There will be a celebratory freebie at the end of this post, but first I'm linking up with Kristen, Juliet, and Cassie at The Teaching Trio for Sunday Scoop!

There's a huge product that I've been intending to create for months.  I put it off until summer so that I could give it my FULL attention! It HASN'T had my full attention.  I finally made some progress, and now I'm having fun with it.  I will finish this week or next.   

My son takes excellent care of his glasses, but it's time for new ones.  We usually go to Walmart and have had no problems.  

Our school recently adopted new social studies and science standards.  Time to teach content is limited, so I need to create a pacing guide to help me figure out how I'll get to everything.  Then, I can actually start to work on lesson plans.  

Last year, I blogged about working on my nieces' scrapbooks. Well, they still aren't finished!  I'm going to need to work on those this week.  I'm also hoping for a beach day, but I might be trying to plan too much for one week!

Now for the freebie!  I've had a lot of fun keeping this blog, and I wanted to create a little gift for those of you who take the time to visit!  Thank you!  This packet is comparable to the math and literacy activities that I sell in  my Teachers Pay Teachers store, but it's FREE!  Just click here or on the image to download the activities.  

Thanks for stopping by!  Head over to The Teaching Trio for more Sunday Scoops!

Friday, July 17, 2015

Five for Friday

My son and I just finished cleaning the kitchen. My daughter is tucked into bed.  Now I finally have time to link up with Kacey at Doodle Bugs Teaching for Five for Friday.  

On Sunday, we went berry picking.  We picked a bunch of blueberries and raspberries. It brought back memories of going berry picking with my dad.  In the bottom photo you'll see my father and Seth.  That photo was taken seven years ago. Wasn't Seth a cutie?

My friend invited Seth, Gabrielle, and I to join her and her family for the day.  We met at a used bookstore and shopped.  Then, we spent the rest of the afternoon having lunch. floating in the heated pool, and walking down to the water. Oh, how I love summer!

When we weren't out and about, I spent a lot of time reading.  In the top two photos, Sunshine was curled up near my foot and Herbie was on my lap while I read.  In the bottom photo, the cats were just hanging out.  Prior to that, they were licking each others' heads. After I took this photo, Herbie decided to pounce on Sunshine and start a wrestling match.

I went to school for a few hours this week.  Here are my functional, organized, and not-very-cute supply bins.  I used sticky notes and contact paper to label them.  Not Pinterest-worthy, but effective! I've decided to tell myself that my lack of creativity will make someone else feel less guilty about something in their room that isn't quite as cute as it could be.

This lovely lady has been volunteering in my classroom for about seven years. I had her granddaughter in my class, so she started volunteering.  She's been coming in to help me ever since then. She's a retired teacher and has great stories to tell. I respect her wisdom about teaching and life, and I'm so thankful that she's willing to be part of our lives.  She is a tremendous blessing.  We have a tradition of meeting for lunch each summer. 

Thanks for stopping by! Have a great weekend.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

What's in YOUR trunk?

It's time for another Wordless Wednesday linky with Miss DeCarbo at Sugar and Spice.  My question for you this week?  What do you have in your car?  If you're a teacher, my hunch is that you have your car stuffed with things that you plan to take to school.  

Here's a list of the items in my car:
  • Plastic shoeboxes which I'll be using for book bins
  • Books from my friend's daughter (Junie B. Jones)
  • Books from The Book Barn
  • Books from Goodwill
  • Erasers for my back to school bags
  • Stickers because you can never have enough
  • A beach chair and a new sand shovel
  • Plastic utensils and paper plates for the picnic we're going to on Saturday
  • Snow pants and a coat that I'll be passing along to my sister-in-law for my niece
Yep! This is a fairly typical carload for me during the summer. I'm hoping to get to my classroom tomorrow, and I'll be unloading the school stuff at least. So, what's in YOUR car?  Leave a comment and let me know!

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Sunday Scoop

Happy Sunday.  I'm linking up with Kristen, Juliet, and Cassie at The Teaching Trio for another Sunday Scoop.

We're completely out of milk!  We need salad fixings.  The only thing left in the freezer is ground turkey, frozen fruit, ice cubes, and edamame.  It's time to shop for groceries!  

I revised some products this summer and created a freebie using nonsense words from The BFG, but I haven't made any other new products.  I need to get busy!

The lack of routine in the summer has thrown my eating off a bit.  We've had ice cream a couple of times, and it's easier to snack during the day when I'm not teaching a roomful of 3rd graders.  I need to be more diligent about tracking calories, and I need to start exercising.  I know I'll learn to like it if I can just get into the habit of it.

Have you read Bringing Words to Life?  I plan to start it today. I need some fresh ideas for vocabulary instruction.  I actually started the book last August but ran out of summer!  Once school started, I just couldn't find the time to read it.  

Our old sprinkler broke. A sprinkler for the front yard has to be one of the best things to have.  The kids will play out there for an hour. I've been known to stand in the spray too from time to time!

My friend just texted me and invited me to join her tomorrow for a trip to a cool used bookstore and then swimming. She's pool-sitting apparently.  I haven't told my children yet. They're going to be extremely excited.  

What are you up to?