Wednesday, June 25, 2014


I have had an incredibly busy two weeks. My little family of four has made two trips to Tennessee, one to say good-by to a beloved family member, and another to enjoy a mini vacation in Chattanooga. The twins have not been to daycare, because I kinda like having them home with me, and so my house is a wreck. I also have not been able to spend time updating my classroom like I had originally planned. Oh well. Summer is for rest and for fun, and we've had plenty of the latter.

While scrolling through my Google+ today, I noticed a giveaway from Whimsy Workshop. Click on this link to enter the giveaway for a $50 graphics gift card! Just think of all the fun stuff you can create with that! Speaking of creating, I am working on a pennant banner for my classroom door. I bought the basic brights pack (see my previous posts) to make a teacher planner with, and I am using the entire collection for so many things! Thanks to this YouTube video, I have successfully created my first 3 triangles for my banner. Slowly, but surely y'all!

For some reason, the exact video I used will not upload, but below is another helpful link that discusses using colors as a background instead of graphics.

Here is what I have so far:

In case you can't read upside down or sideways, that says 5th. Ha! I have done a few things with backgrounds before, so just a few tips:

1. If you do a patterned background, use a solid or fairly solid and THICK font for your letters. Thin lettering and background patterns make my head hurt. 

2. I have absolutely no idea how to check my specific sizing for things, so when I insert a new graphic (my numbers/letters are not a font, but an image) I move the original off the page, and then size up my new letter to match the old one.

3. I did NOT create new triangles each time. I just moved my numbers off, then clicked on File and Place to find and insert my new image. 

4. I used Photoshop Elements. It is a reasonable price on Amazon.

5. In order to have both the working PDF and the one you are copying to open, you need to click on Window, then Images, then Tile. 

Photoshop is fun and handy, but it can also be a pain, so don't be discouraged if you don't get the hang of it right away. In fact, my husband was unsure of me purchasing it last year, but I have used it multiple times, and I even created our Christmas cards last year using the program, so the money we spent has not been wasted. 

What are you creating for your classroom this summer?

Happy Wednesday!

Friday, June 13, 2014

Creating a Teacher Planner (Part 2)

I have already begun work on my teacher planner, and I have had to refresh my memory on how to use Adobe Photoshop. I am LOVING the basic brights bundle I mentioned in my last post. For $20, I got a whole lot of images and clip art to work with. So far, I have created my cover and my lesson plans page. I am not sure exactly what all I will be including, but I know I will have a section for lesson plans, a calendar, student contact information, student health information, grades, and notes.  I would love to make my cover into something hard and durable, I just am not sure how to go about that. I am also not sure where to take my planner to get it bound. Lots of questions, but hopefully someone that is knowledgable will read this post and reply.

So far, I think these look great! Want to know the best part? You can download the lesson plans page for FREE at my TN store! And, as a special for blog readers, the first 75 downloads of my "Student of the Week" chart are free as well! See the links below.

I hope everyone is enjoying their summer. It's already the middle of June...can't believe it! I haven't spent a whole lot of time organizing my classroom, so I need to get there ASAP. When will you start getting things ready? Are you an early bird or do you work better under pressure?

Happy Friday! Have an excellent weekend!

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Creating a Teacher Planner (Part 1)

I am a sucker for anything office supply related. I love calendars (big or small), planners, pens, markers, decorative paper, etc. I could not believe how many ink pens and Sharpies I had when I recently went through my classroom supplies. It's a bit alarming, actually...but I know I can't be the only one, right?!? RIGHT?!?

Okay, on to the point of this post. I recently decided I must have a good planner for the fall. I have always kept a hard copy of a grade book (I know, so old-fashioned), and a separate copy of lesson plans, and a separate calendar. Last year, I had a binder that did not get opened ONCE. It was super cute, but pretty impractical, because it was too huge to carry around. I found several items that I could buy from Pinterest, but honestly, I can't afford to spend $30-$60 on a glorified notebook. If I had that kind of money, everything Erin Condren made would be owned by moi.

What to do, what. to. do? As stated before in a previous post, my classroom theme this year is candy-related, so I am looking mainly for bright colors, and I'll throw a few pops of candy around the room. I was looking through some favorite blogs of mine, and found a super cute product that had all the colors I wanted on Live. Love. Math. Her post directed me to this TPT store:

Basic Brights Bundle

(From: I teach. What's your super power? Blog link:

I repeat, I DID NOT MAKE THIS BUNDLE! I do not have the time, energy, or know-how. I scrolled through the blog and found some other great stuff, so if you have time, be sure to look through all of her items.

I am going to begin working on my planner, as soon as I get a few other things out of the way, and as soon as I get Microsoft re-uploaded to my computer. Remember that computer crash from April? Yeah, my husband and I have not sat down to install everything again. Maybe this will get me motivated. As I work on my planner, I will upload ideas and photos. I don't know which backgrounds from this mega pack I will be using, but you can be sure there will be quite a few in my planner!

Have you ever created your own planner? How long did it take you?

Happy Wednesday!

Monday, June 9, 2014

Blank Slate

Ah! The sights, sounds, and smells of a new classroom. I might have mentioned before that my school closed in May. While I totally hate that I will not see my middle schoolers and co-workers in the fall, I am excited that I will be back in 5th grade, and I am even more excited that I get to redecorate a classroom! I know some teachers moan and groan about having to move rooms or redecorate. I rejoice! My husband might tell you that I like spending money (which is probably true), but aside from that, I like seeing what I already have and organizing my things. More importantly, I enjoy revisiting what arrangements and layouts worked best for my students during the school year. I believe if you look at the "redo" process as an opportunity instead of a hassle, it makes things much easier.

This year I will be moving into a classroom that has plenty of storage. Not only do I have a fairly large closet in the back of the room, I also have book shelves under my big window, one large double-door cabinet, multiple smaller cabinets, and built-in shelves. I even have a small closet in the front of my room with built-in shelves that are the perfect size for paper storage! Let me tell ya, after four years of struggling to find space, I am equipped with more than enough this year!

Now, my job is just to turn this blank slate into a masterpiece. Our 4th and 5th grades have decided on a joint candy theme for our hall. My plan is to use bright colors throughout my classroom that can be re-used next year. That way big items like curtains, chair covers, etc., can stay the same, while smaller pieces can be swapped out. I will have candy-ish things on my bulletin boards and doors, but my main colors will be versatile enough to last through theme changes to come. Pinterest has so many ideas that my head and my pin boards are full. I have added a few pictures for you to see the beginning stages. I will be updating throughout on my organization and wall decor, so come back soon!

Do you change themes every year or keep a theme for multiple years? What kind of decorations do you keep in your classroom?

Happy Monday!

Sunday, June 1, 2014

The Fault in Our Stars (And Other Books That Got Cut!)

I might get bashed for this, and maybe I should, but I am on the fence as to whether The Fault in Our Stars by John Green was the incredible read it was made out to be. Now, I'm not saying that it wasn't a good read, but it certainly will not end up on my classroom bookshelf. Why? LANGUAGE!!! I am not naive enough to believe that my students have never heard cursing, and I am also not naive enough to believe that they don't let a few (or several) slip now and then. I honestly have no problem with a word drop here or there (Shiloh, Harry Potter, Percy Jackson), and some books (like Maniac Magee and To Kill A Mockingbird) even have racial slurs that are meant to show just how demeaning the English language can be.

No, my problem with this book was that I am meant to believe that the main characters are two very intelligent teenagers, who have such a propensity for language that I even had to look up a word or two, yet resort to cursing (and I'm not talking about h*** or d***) when they are frustrated. I'm sorry, but this doesn't make any sense to me. I also have an issue with being a teacher of vocabulary and placing books on the shelf that use the same four-letter words REPEATEDLY. What am I teaching my students if I put this book in my classroom???

I rarely take books off my shelf, but lately, I've been doing so more and more. What's made the cut? The Mortal Instruments, The Fault in Our Stars, Pretty Little Liars, Witch and Wizard and Legend.
I have read all these books. With the exception of PLL, they are all decent, and most are excellent reads..for me. I'm 29. I teach 5th grade now, so Legend was pulled only for that reason. I wasn't sure if the graphic depiction of a bullet to the head would fly with parents, or my new principal! WW and TMI were pulled because of the utter sexual fascination the main characters have with each other and the demonic/sorcery elements. I can't explain why W&W was different than HP for me, it just was, and I go with my gut! Why was PLL pulled? Complete and total filth. For real. I need some meat to my literature y'all. TFIOS was pulled only for the language. It was otherwise a good book. It made me laugh, then cry, then laugh some more, then question my sanity for ever beginning to read it in the first place.

Before I end this post, I would like to repeat that I read these books. I'm not making fly-by judgements. I honestly really like TMI, TFIOS (apart from the language!!!!) and Legend, and I am on pins and needles to get the next book in the TMI series. In all honestly, I believe that kids need to make their own choices in life, and I know literature is a great way to guide them and teach them about worlds different from their own. Kids who read more have larger vocabulary, make higher scores on standardized testing, and have greater imaginations. They also are never lonely because a book is a friend! I do not want you to read this post and assume that I am out to get books. I assure you, that is the last thing I want to do. I just want you, whether you are a parent or a teacher, to read what you're putting on your shelf. Decide if it feels right to you. If you think it's okay, but you aren't sure, make a section in your classroom library that requires teacher AND parent permission to check out a book. Let parents know what is on your shelf, and let them know what's in the book you are questioning. I've done it before, and the parents are always appreciative.

I know some will read this and say that my fascination with Harry Potter or Percy Jackson tells students that I am a believer in witchcraft or polytheism. They'll say that having a Muslim version of Cinderella promotes a belief in Allah, or that books about cooking and cleaning tell girls that they have no other options that being a homemaker. If that is your opinion, it's perfectly fine. I am allowed to have mine too, right?

Have you ever had to pull a book from your shelf? What was it? Why was it pulled?