Monday, December 30, 2013

Happy New Year: 2014

Me and Auntie's Baby ~ My Nephew JD
 Can you believe that the year is almost over? How will you be spending your New Year's Eve? I get to meet my student teacher tomorrow, I'm excited, I've never had one before and I hear she's awesome! Tomorrow night my husband and I will bring in the new year in church, thanking God for his grace and mercy.  

1. Financial- My husband and I took a class called Financial Peace University by Dave Ramsey and it was the best thing that's happened to me and my family! I look forward to incorporating what we've learned into our finances. I've even got my mother, sister and several other family members on board. If you're looking to be a good steward over what God has given you I suggest you check it out!
2. Spiritual- Spend at least an hour a day with God-whether I'm praying or reading my bible or just listening for God to speak to me. A friend gave me a couples devotional for Christmas and I've purchased a journal I intend to use as a prayer journal to keep track of everyone and everything I need to be praying for.
3. Physical- Last year this time I was 205lbs. and I vowed to lose weight. Well that didn't happen and in October I weighed 207lbs... I saw the doctor and he said I either diet and lose weight or go on diabetes meds. That's all  needed to hear! I've lost 13 pounds in 3 months... I would have lost more if it weren't for Thanksgiving and Christmas but I still have January to get back on track. I'm currently on the Atkins Diet and having success with it.
4. Mental- read more! I've read the Hunger Games Trilogy, twice and other books I'm interested in, I just love my Nook! 
5. Social- continue to maintain the relationships with friends and family and develop new friendships as well.


1. Survive! (this was my resolution for the last two years, I think I'll keep it!)

2. Stop crying over work. I've cried more in the last four months than I have in my entire teaching career. I'm all cried out! I refuse to continue to let myself get that upset over things that ultimately I have no control over!

3. Do the best I can do... I didn't birth these children and I can't take them home, but I can do the best that I know how!

4. Continue to encourage my coworkers... whether it's a card, treat or small token of appreciation, I want to show them that they are appreciated. This was my resolution last year, I enjoyed "filling my coworkers buckets" so I think I'll continue.
5. Listen to my body! Many days I find myself at school when I'm sick and sometimes just plain worn out. I will take days off when I am not at my best and I will not feel guilty about it!

What are your resolutions?
My nephew JD...isn't he just the cutest! I can eat them cheeks all day!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Currently December


Usually I'm on my way to work by now... but I find myself lingering around in the mornings... not being able to face the stressors of the day.

We only have 7 more days of school and I'm excited! Tomorrow my students make glass ball ornaments and my team has their annual Secret Santa Exchange next week which we'll end with a before school breakfast at a local cafĂ©. I can't wait to share all the gifts I got them. I had to order Christmas Cookies from my favorite Etsy Shop ACookieJar. I'll end the week with Pajama Party in my classroom and we'll have our annual Winter Luncheon. That's always a fun day.

Tonight I get to see my butterball JD... my six month old nephew from Pennsylvania. I'll have to post pics of him because he is the cutest, chubbiest baby and he loves his auntie! His parents are in town on business and my husband and I get to babysit.

Was up most of the night, I have the worst pelvic pain... who knew uterine fibroids could be so painful. Still holding out though... don't want another surgery. I've lost a total of 13 pounds but I'm putting the Atkins Diet back on hold until after school gets out next week. It's just too hard this time of year.

I've had more bad days than good lately, too much crying, not enough laughing, my poor husband doesn't know what to do with me... he's never seen me this emotional before. I'm just praying for better days. I refuse to believe that this is what teaching has transformed into... unrealistic demands, having to carry burden of those less competent, larger class sizes... because if it is... I won't teaching for much longer.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Weslandia Brochure Project

Now that school is over, Wesley needs a summer project. He’s learned that each civilization needs a staple food crop, so he decides to sow a garden and start his own - civilization, that is. He turns over a plot of earth, and plants begin to grow. They soon tower above him and bear a curious-looking fruit. As Wesley experiments, he finds that the plant will provide food, clothing, shelter, and even recreation. It isn’t long before his neighbors and classmates develop more than an idle curiosity about Wesley - and exactly how he is spending his summer vacation.

I use this book to introduce my unit on Ancient Civilizations. We teach about Ancient Greece, Ancient Rome and the Empire of Mali. After I read the book I introduce the project and give students time to brainstorm ideas for their civilization. Then I give each student a 12x18 inch sheet of white construction paper and students fold it into a large brochure. The project consists of students creating a brochure about the civilization that they created. Click Here to find the project.


Do you teach Ancient Civilizations? If so what activities do you do? I also do this project specific to Greece/Rome/Mali from my website.  

Sunday, November 17, 2013

VA American Indians Lapbook Materials

In July I posted about a American Indian Lapbook. I've finally condensed the files into one document.
Below are pictures of the example. All the files below are located in my Google Docs except the Native American Map, I purchased that for $.99 on Teachers Clubhouse.

Below are pictures from the original post.

American Indians Homes Flipbook and Occupation Flipbook
American Indians Transportation Flip Book, Contributions and American Indians Today
American Indian Geography with mini flap books about each region.
American Indian Vocabulary

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Currently November
Well in less than a month I will celebrate 1 year of marriage! Where did the time go, seems like we just got married yesterday. We're 9 weeks into the school year and things seem to be headed in an upward spiral. I've discovered that I'm a stress eater and since I can't eat what I want I was starting to internalize stress. Two weeks ago I started having heart palpitations and that's when I knew I needed a change. Luckily my blood pressure has been normal and the palpitations are beginning to subside so I just need to remind myself daily to do the best I can and as long as I've done that, then I'm okay with myself.  
So this is my fourth week on the Atkins Diet and I've lost a total of 11 pounds. My goal is 37 pounds by the end of January. I think I can do it!
So here in Richmond we have Pearl's Cupcakes and these are the best cupcakes around, they're legendary! A couple of weeks ago I went and got a dozen for my teammates and oh my goodness... that was the best thing I ever ate. Vanilla cupcake with Vanilla Buttercream Frosting and Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting. Hmmmmm... yumm yumm! Can't wait for the new year so I can eat another one:)
Before my diet I always made recipes I found on pinterest... this was my first and a favorite of my husband.
Parmesan Crusted Shrimp Quesadillas
  • 1 lb. shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1 Tbsp. cumin
  • sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper
  • 3 Tbsp. olive oil, divided
  • 1 white or yellow onion, finely diced
  • 1 jalapeno, stemmed, seeded and finely diced (I didn't use)
  • 6-8 medium tortillas
  • 1 avocado, peeled, pitted and diced (I didn't use)
  • 1 cup sun-dried tomatoes (I didn't use)
  • 3 cups shredded Monterrey Jack cheese
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
    I hope to get back to educational blogging soon. I haven't taken any photos of our activities but I do want to blog about the interactive note taking I'm doing this year, updated photos of my classroom and a design brief that I'm working on for the book Weslandia (topic: Ancient Civilizations)

    Saturday, October 12, 2013

    What a Difference!

    What a difference a week makes! Thanks for all the prayers and positive messages I actually had a pretty good week for the most part. See that headlight on my head... we got these on Friday, in case of emergency... we put these on. We were psyched! I'm definitely wearing this during the next fire drill on the strobe setting!

    Received my 27th student on Monday so that was stressful but the week did get better and unfortunately I've had to give up some control over some things. I can't be all things to all people and as much as I want to give and support everyone I just can't do it. I have to put myself and family first, then my students and anything left...I can give to others.

    But my heart was truly touched by the end of the week. I work with some pretty amazing people... Thursday night some coworkers took me out to dinner to help relieve some of the stress I've been under, then Friday morning the car in front of me at Chick-fil-a paid for my breakfast...ended up being a resource teacher at my school, then Friday afternoon my husband sent me an Edible Arrangement! This morning my momma showed up from NC and took me grocery shopping so I can jump start this weight loss. The doctor is giving me 90 days to lose weight and get my A1C levels down or I'm going to have to go on medicine to control my blood sugar.

    Saturday, October 5, 2013

    Currently October

    I can't believe it's October already, this year has truly flown by! Only 3 more months until the end of the year.

    I don't know about you but I have never been so stressed out in my life, and trust me, I've been through some things. Tuesday I visited my doctor blood pressure follow-up care. They had to DOUBLE the dosage of my medication... what, how in the world does that have to happen! Then they tell me that my last blood work showed signs of high blood sugar. So they took more blood to send off for testing telling me it's a strong possibility that I'm pre-diabetic or may have transitioned over to full blown diabetes! That is not what I needed to hear.

    I'm having a really hard time this school year. Have you ever felt like you're being punished for being an effective teacher? Well this year I truly feel that way. It's not the students, it's never the kids for me. Although there are 26 of them this year and there was only 22 of the last year. I've always had the LD cluster and lumped with them were the students they "thought" might qualify. But in the past my LD students were pulled out. This year they're using the collab model and I truly feel I'm in this alone. I would go into detail but that wouldn't be professional.

    But basically I cry everyday on the way to work and have even had a couple of panic attacks. The thought of having to go to work and basically try to meet the diverse needs of all 26 of my students alone is very overwhelming. I requested a break from this cluster this year but it didn't happen. Basically I get told "you're too good, those kids need someone like you." But someone else can be just as good if given the chance.

    It also doesn't help that I'm team leader this year, I sit on the schools school improvement team and we're in a school improvement year, I'm a mentor to a new teacher on my team and in the spring I'll be training to be apart of VCU's Clinical Faculty (basically they train me to train their student teachers in my classroom).

    And to top it off, lesson plan week is coming. What is lesson plan week you ask? Well if you've been working at my school for less than three years you have to write lesson plans like a student teacher and turn them in for that week. My first year we had four of them. Last year we had three of them. This year we only have two of them, THANK GOD! And it's my last year doing this. So even though my summative evaluation from last year states that I am beyond proficient, I'm an exemplary educator and this is my 10th year teaching...because this is only my 3rd year at this school I still have to turn in plans like I'm a probationary teacher.

    So on top of everything I got going on in my life right now, I have to add writing 4 hours worth of lesson plans to the list. Hopefully you're having a better year than me and I stand on God's word that he won't put more on me than I can bear but I am truly being pushed to the limit and it can't be good for my health right now.  

    Thursday, September 26, 2013

    I Was Born to Make a Difference

    At my school we have faculty meetings every month. Each team leader is responsible for the "inspirational message" at a meeting. I saw this TED Talk this summer and knew it would be perfect for my message so I asked for the month of September. I am thoroughly exhausted, cried all the way to work last Friday, had a panic attack after I got to work last Friday, have watched several colleagues break down in tears and I myself am on the edge of a nervous breakdown! But I am reminded, from Dr. Rita Pierson, that I am an educator and I was born to make a difference!

    Sunday, September 22, 2013

    VA Geography Lapbook Materials

    In July I posted about a Geography Lapbook. I've finally condensed the files into one document.

    Below are pictures of the example. I'm gearing up to do lapbooks for the first time with my 3rd graders. I've already put the file folders together. The example shows 3 folders inside each other tied with a ribbon. For students I did 2 file folders stapled and cut out the following sections: classroom map, Virginia map skills, Egypt and China Geography. Changed my mind about those.

    All the files below are located in my Google Docs except the Native American Map, I purchased that for $.99 on Teachers Clubhouse.

    Below are pictures from the original post.

    Cover of 3rd Grade Atlas Lapbook (yes I see the mistake!)
    Left: Classroom Map - Right: Comparing and Contrasting Maps and Globes
    Left: Virginia Map Skills - Right: United States Geography
    Left: Native American Regions - Right: World Geography
    Egypt and China
    Left: Hemispheres - Vocabulary (you lift the flap to see definition)

    Sunday, September 8, 2013

    Celebrity of the Week

    I haven't done "Celebrity of the Week" in a couple of years. I need to start back up because I always had positive feedback from parents about the program. Someone emailed about it since is now retired so I figured I'd blog about it.
    Celebrity Poster- The Wednesday before their week, two students will get a poster to complete over the weekend. On Monday morning they will share their poster during morning meeting with the class.
    Celebrity Book Pick- On Tuesday our celebrities will share their favorite picture book with the class during morning meeting.
    Celebrity Share- On Wednesday our celebrities will bring in 3 special items from home to share during morning meeting. Examples include photographs, favorite books, favorite movie or anything else that is important to them. 
    Fan Mail- On Thursday the class will present our celebrities with a homemade book made of letters that they have written to their classmate.
    VIP Treatment- On Friday our celebrities will be our line leader and helper for the day. They will also get to sit anywhere they choose during the school day.
    I've uploaded the documents onto Google Docs at this link

    Monday, September 2, 2013

    Favorite Free Items (gathered from Pinterest)

    There's a lot of great ideas on Pinterest...some free and some paid. I've found some great things for my classroom for FREE. Here is a couple of my favorites...
    Can't wait to use this resource when I teach the Scientific Method.
    Great Bucket Filling Packet!

    Scientific Method Posters

    Daily 5 Posters and Resources, will work with any reading workshop model though.
    Great Math Station
    Great for morning meeting, printing them out right now so I can laminate them before school tomorrow!

     What free items have you found on Pinterest?


    So I've been spending the last weekend of summer vacation relaxing around the house! I did venture out for some shopping and meals but that's it! I did not go into school this weekend like most of my coworkers...I just couldn't do it, I felt if I did I'd later regret the fact that I didn't rest when I had the chance. So I will finish some things up when I get there tomorrow. Teachers don't have to report until 8:45am but I'm usually there by 7:30am... I like to work when no one is there and it's quiet.

    Open House was Friday and I met 20 of my 26 third graders. They seem like a fun bunch and their parents seem really supportive.

    Usually I finish my lesson plans a week at a time but looking back at past plans, I include all these activities and then don't get to them, so maybe if I take it day by day this week I'll get all the activities I really want to do finished this week.

    As far as what I would LOVE to accomplish this month...
    1- During the first month of school I usually work a lot of late nights, well this is my first back to school as a married woman so I have to find a balance and come home on time!

    2- Date nights were easy this summer but like I said earlier, I can get crazy busy with school stuff so I need to remember to have date nights with my husband at least 3-4 times a month.

    3- Love on purpose, it's a phase we use at church. The bible commands us to love one another and I need to remember that always!

    Sunday, August 11, 2013

    Team Gifts

    I still have 15 more days until teachers report back to school. My classroom is finished, my long range plans completed and steady marking things off my to-do list in preparation for a new school year! Thursday is our first team meeting. Very informal, held at someone's house. We'll have a pot luck lunch and discuss school items, we have two new teachers to our team/school so I wanted to meet so they could get some of their questions answered and talk about things such as field trips and homework and what committees we're going to serve on.

    I'm excited to share my team gifts with you! I ordered t-shirts from this company and as always I had to order some cookies from my favorite shop on Etsy Her shop is on vacation at the moment but you can look at her feedback and sales to see pictures of her work. I've ordered Valentine Owls, Hungry Caterpillar, Apples and now "Candy" themed cookies with a "3" for 3rd grade! I will be ordering again, probably for Christmas. Trust me, it's worth every penny, these are the best cookies you will eat, plus they have disco dust on them to make them sparkle!

    The gift tag says "It's a treat to have you on the 3rd grade team!" and I added some Chevron tissue paper since that's my new obsession. Okay, now for some pics... would love your feedback!


    Tuesday, August 6, 2013

    Team Building

    First, I have to share a deco mesh wreath I made for my classroom door. Look at my classroom tour to see the spiral deco mesh wreath I created!

    Apple Deco Mesh Wreath for my classroom door

    Leadership must be my "theme" this year. I'm team leader, a mentor to a beginning teacher and I've been accepted into the VCU Clinical Faculty Program (VCU will train me to mentor their student teachers in my classroom).

    I haven't been team lead in years, 6 years. Now I'm at a different school, on a different grade level, working with different teachers. I really want to focus on building team morale. We're having our first team meeting next Thursday and I'm very excited. I purchased some team gifts and we're going to have a pot luck lunch and talk about some basics before teacher work week begins August 26th. Basically we don't get to work in our rooms until Wednesday afternoon of that week and Meet & Greet is Friday morning, good thing I'm finished!

    In the past we've pulled names and that person was responsible for purchasing a birthday cake for the name they pulled. Then at Christmas we do a Secret Santa all week and do a breakfast reveal that Friday. This year I'm thinking of doing more.

    First of all we're going to fill out these sheets. Then I'm thinking we'll pull names and that's going to be your "Secret Pal" for the year. Then we'll give gifts/treats at...

    -Halloween (1 day)
    -Christmas (1 week)
    -Spring (1 day)
    -Teacher Appreciation Week (1 day)
    -End of the Year (1 day)

    Click the link above if you would like to download the sheet. What do you/ have you done on your team to build team morale?

    Friday, August 2, 2013

    Classroom Tour

    I am so happy to report that my classroom is finished! I can now enjoy the rest of my summer vacation...all 24 days left of it!

    view from the door

    math workshop area: Mountain Math, Math it Up

    classroom library

    content vocabulary word wall


    spiral deco mesh wreath

    my desk

    my name sign

    guided reading materials

    guided reading area

    nonfiction text features

    reading strategies

    reference resources and puncuation

    writing area

    view from guided reading area

    view from corner

    view from sink

    side view of my spiral deco mesh wreath... can you tell I love my wreath!