Monday, December 31, 2012


I'm linking up with Farley for a little linky party fun to ring in the New Year!  Happy 2013 friends!  :)

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Resolutions for Downtime! :)

Sometimes I wonder what it would be like to have more free time.  Let's face it, as teachers, we don't really have typical 9-5 jobs.  It's more like 8-10... if you're lucky.  :)  With that said, this year, I want to make the most out of my free time and spend a little less time on the computer working on school stuff!  Since grad school is over... for now... I just might be able to accomplish everything I hope to check off of the proverbial list this year!  In 2013, I plan on making more time for ME... because as I said yesterday... balance is my biggest goal!  I want to enjoy the relationships I have and live life to the fullest!  Even though we have really fulfilling jobs, we can get really worn down if we don't take the time to recharge our batteries with hobbies, family, and friends!!!  This is my plan:

Now, it's your turn to share your plans!  Head on over to my sweet friend Amy's blog to link up!  :) 

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Professional Growth Resolutions Linky and a FLASH Giveaway!!!

I'm teaming up with some of my bloggy BFF's to share my professional growth resolutions!  Of course, this is a topic near and dear to my heart at this point in my life and my career.  I'm hoping this post will be therapeutic, because it is all I have been obsessing thinking about lately.  Here it goes! :)

As you all know, I just graduated a few weeks ago.  I now have a Masters in Literacy Curriculum and Instruction!  :)  I suppose you could say that Step 1 of my GRAND PLAN is complete, but because relaxation is against my nature, I'm already plotting the next step.  :)  If you know me in real life, you will not be surprised by that statement whatsoever.  Not one bit! Ha!

This is my confession:  I love teaching third grade, and my little kiddos make me smile on the regular.  I just don't know if the classroom is my final destination.  I have a few different ideas in mind.  I would LOVE to be a literacy professor at the graduate level.  That's my ultimate goal, but I also think I would really enjoy working in curriculum or as a literacy coach.  Now that I've graduated, I am excited to explore my options, although I don't see myself leaving the classroom anytime soon.  That being said, I do plan on carving out some time during my holiday break to update my resume.  I don't want to jinx myself, but let's just say that a door has potentially opened, and I may be able to get my feet wet as an adjunct to see if being a professor is really my cup of tea.  Nothing is guaranteed, of course, but this would be a wonderful opportunity for me.  If I am fortunate enough to land the job, it would help me decide whether to start looking at doctoral programs or to pursue other career paths.  I won't lie though.  Since I will be turning 29 this year, I am starting to think a lot more about how my career aspirations fit with my ticking biological clock.  We're still basically on a two year timeline, but I'm definitely starting to feel stressed out about balancing it all.  Timing is going to be a HUGE factor for this goal to reach fruition!  For now, I'm just going to take it one day at a time, beginning with the updated resume and letters of recommendation.  Of course, I'll eventually need to fill out another job application too!  :)  Fingers crossed!

While we're on the topic of paperwork, this year I also get to renew my five-year license again!  That's on the list too!  :)  Nothing else will matter if I'm not legal... and I'd rather not wait until July when my current license expires to check it off of the list!

I'm really hoping that 2013 affords more opportunities to work with teachers through workshops.  :)  I have been working with my county's educational service center for the past two years, and it's been a fabulous experience!  I have really started to enjoy presenting and sharing my passion for literacy with other teachers in the area.  I will be speaking about writing and modeling lessons for lead teachers at the end of January, and I'm definitely looking forward to it!  :)  Hopefully this is just the beginning of great things! 

Of course, because I am such a literacy nerd, I also want to find more time to read professional literature this year.  I have so many books on my MUST READ list... just waiting to be devoured on my bookshelf.  I buy them... and then they sit there collecting dust.  :)  It wasn't always that way, but once I got married and was consumed by grad school, a new job, and blogging, professional reading quickly slipped down my list of priorities.  In 2013, I am going to try to make it a bigger priority again!  :)  Okay, and this is where I'm going to look like a huge nerd again, because most of the books on my list are not regular professional development books.  They are textbooks!  Yes, I want to read textbooks for fun!  The kicker?  They were not textbooks that I bought for my coursework.  They were textbooks I picked up for FREE when my professor decided to clear off her bookshelves over the past few years.  Now that I am finally done with school, I just might actually have time to delve into the content!  My main focus: assessment!  It's an area that I want to learn a lot more about and improve in!  :)  This is a sampling of my MUST READ LIST!

This year, I also plan on officially becoming a member of a few professional organizations.  I have been kicking the idea around for a while, but now that I don't have to spend money on classes (at least for the time being), I would like to take that next step!  I plan on joining the International Reading Association and the National Council of Teachers of English.  No matter what I do with my career, more knowledge and more memberships can't hurt one bit! Maybe I'll join today and get an early start!  ;)

Of course, BIG goals are scary.  They take lots of time and planning and perspiration!  I'm definitely ready for whatever comes my way.  I realize that big risks yield big rewards, and I'll never know what's possible if I don't take the leap!  :)  I'm hoping that I will grow and deepen my understanding of teaching and literacy even more over the next year!  More than anything though, despite my lofty goals, I hope I can find BALANCE in the midst of all of it.  Teaching is all-consuming, and working towards larger goals can take even more out of you!  Even though I have my eyes focused on the prize... I don't want to forget about having a life outside of work.  I want to be able to go out with my friends and spend time with my husband.  I want to be able to go to to the park with my dog without feeling the stress of impending deadlines.  I want to live a FULL and EXCITING life!!! :)  Perhaps this is my greatest resolution this year!

For now, my ultimate game plan has seven steps.  Who knows how this will evolve over the course of 2013!  I just plan on taking everything one day at a time... one year at a time.  :)  You can BET that I will be plugging along... working towards larger goals in the meantime!

As a BIG thank you for celebrating another year with all of us, we are giving away the following resources to help start out your new year with a BANG!  This FLASH Giveaway will be over before you know it!  You have 24 hours to enter to win 17 fabulous lessons... :)

Open publication - Free publishing - More 1st grade Rafflecopter giveaway

If you like what you see above, check out the following blogs for more fabulous ideas!   Erica: Erica Bohrer's First Grade
  Lindsey: The Teacher Wife    
Michelle: Fab-u-lous in First
   Amy: Step Into Second Grade  
   Hope: Second Grade Shenanigans
Anna: Crazy for First Grade
Cheryl: Primary Graffiti 
Deanna: Mrs. Jump's Class
Deedee: Mrs. Wills Kindergarten 
Natalie and Rachelle: What the Teacher Wants
Sarah: First Grader At Last
Kim: Kinder Gals
Kathleen: Growing Kinders
Cara: The First Grade Parade
Abby: The Inspired Apple 

   So, what are your professional development goals for 2013?!  Don't forget to link up and share your goals with all of us!  You just might inspire someone else to check a similar goal off of their list! ;)

Saturday, December 22, 2012

The Grass is Greener Where You Water It...

I want to say a BIG THANK YOU to everyone who participated in my fundraiser!  Because of your product and monetary donations, I was able to write a big check to Compassion International to benefit their Water of Life  initiative.  Thank you so much for your generosity and compassion.This Christmas, we will be giving impoverished kiddos around the world the gift of water... and more importantly... the gift of hope.  :)  Happy Holidays, sweet friends!  May you be blessed!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

I Can Make an Inference... Dance Mix!!!! FREE MP3!!

As you might remember, I wrote a little ditty earlier this year to help my kiddos with inferencing!  :)  I couldn't resist making it into a dance mix... because my kiddos are all about brain breaks!  I thought I'd share... just in case your kiddos might enjoy it too!  This song is part of my Inferences Detective: Fun on the Farm bundle if you're interested in taking a looksie.

I created this recording a few weeks ago after recovering from a bout with laryngitis, so my apologies! I'm no Carrie Underwood! :)  I hope your kiddos enjoy it anyway!!!!

You can download the mp3 file below using the following link: 

Monday, December 17, 2012

Community Capers... and Christmas too! ;)

We are still smack dab in the middle of our communities unit.  Okay, maybe not smack dab in the "middle" per se, since it is almost the end of the nine-weeks, but it is certainly still in full-swing! :) I am actually having more fun with this unit than EVER... and I am sure it's going to continue to grow and evolve as I settle into it more and more!  So, I am happy to announce that I am finally done with my packet, and it has been uploaded to TpT!  It's 113 pages of Community Capers, and the kids are having a blast!  Here's a little sampling of some of the pages:

The good news is, I decided to throw a sale to celebrate my graduation!  The world is finally lifted off of my shoulders... or at least it feels that way right now!  Everything in my store is on sale through Wednesday, so this is the perfect time to snag the file at a discounted price!  :)

In other news, we've been busy doing holiday centers as we wrap up our core content before the holidays!  :)  The first center is definitely the class favorite, mainly because of the little reindeer shaker from The Dollar Tree and the holiday erasers we've been using for game markers!  Ha!

Oh my goodness, and since we've been doing a fast and furious review of digraphs, it was really fun to let my kiddos go on a digraph hunt in "William's House".  :)  As you can see, the story was overflowing with words! (The tags are from The Teacher Wife's All About Digraphs Unit... I just had to create a few extra tags for ng and tch, and we were ready to rock and roll!)  Since kids generally know digraphs pretty well by the time they get to me, this was a nice way to extend our spelling lists, and review patterns that they have already encountered in school.  Quick, easy, and painless! :)

Lastly, I want to share a QUICK holiday behavior management idea.  Unfortunately, I won't be able to share the file, because it contains a green character who tries to steal Christmas.  Maybe you will be able to recreate it for your own kiddos though... or adapt it at the very least! :)

I had a BIG talk with my kiddos about a week ago about behavior.  As you know, the closer you get to the holidays, the more impatient and impulsive your students can become.  So, I explained that the duration of 2012 could go one of two ways... I could be " jolly like Santa" or "Gr--nchy like the Gr-nch."  (If you are new to the blogging world and you are wondering why I am leaving out letters, suffice it to say that certain words are "dirty words" on the Worldwide Web, and this is one of them.)  To make a long story short, I created a sign with Santa and a sign with that green guy.  If my kiddos are doing a great job, the sign says "JOLLY".  If my students start displaying less-desirable behaviors as a whole, I put the other sign on top, and they receive a tally mark as a warning.  I told them that if we get to three tally marks, they will unfortunately have to owe me five minutes of recess, but as you may have guessed, both of my classes have managed to magically get it together after two tallies.  Of course, in all honesty, my students are pretty good on the whole, but this extra layer has significantly cut back on Christmas craziness.  :) 

Today, more than ever, I felt so thankful for this wonderful opportunity to work with children.  What a great responsibility and honor it is to teach, nurture, and protect our little ones.  Today I realized what a blessing it is to be a teacher... more than ever.  I realized how much each and every student means to me... past and present.  I also realized that the "innocence" of elementary is gone.  I will never look at my job or my classroom the same again, and I will never forget the sweet babies who lost their lives in CT.  My heart goes out to those affected by this terrible tragedy.  God Bless...

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Bucket Filling Fundraiser: Water For Life...and Lesson Plans Too!

As elementary teachers, we all know what it means to be a "bucket filler", but what if you could LITERALLY fill someone's bucket for their WHOLE LIFE?  What is this person was a child in a developing country with NO access to clean water?!  What if your contribution could fill that child's bucket with water... AND HOPE?!  What if it could SAVE that child's life?!  What would YOU do? 

This past Sunday, during a wonderful sermon about quenching our spiritual thirst, our pastor prompted us to "take the blinders off"... to really think about the world outside of the United States... to think beyond ourselves.  We were told about an amazing initiative by Compassion International to provide water filtration systems in developing countries.  Essentially the system is a bucket with a filter that is able to filter one million gallons of water... and could quench the thirst of a family of THIRTEEN... for their ENTIRE LIVES.  After hearing about this wonderful initiative, Mr. Wonderful and I decided to make a contribution.  Of course that was after I sobbed throughout the entire service!  :)  The idea that we could have such a HUGE impact on a child's life prompted us to make a donation that brought even more tears to my eyes.  Even still, I felt this intense tugging on my heart as we headed home.  I knew there had to be a way to make a bigger impact and help more kiddos.

So, I asked a few bloggy buddies if they would be interested in donating items for a fundraiser, and because teacher-bloggers are so compassionate, they obliged.  I am happy to offer you a HUGE bundle of teaching resources in exchange for your donation to "Water of Life".  For only $25.00, you will receive every item mentioned in this blog post, which is an AMAZING deal!  All profits will go towards filtration systems in Africa, Asia, or Latin America. If you can only give a few dollars, or if you feel compelled to give more, please know that every penny will make a profound difference in the life of a child.

“Whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst.” (John 4:14)
Before, I get into the nitty gritty details, I want to spend a few minutes sharing some information that was obtained from a little pamphlet:

Why do children living in poverty need access to safe drinking water?  
Every day, over 4,000 children are dying of water-related diseases such as cholera and typhoid that are easily preventable.   Many more are suffering from sickness, diarrhea, and acute stomach pains... illnesses that stop children from going to school and growing up into healthy adults.  When you give to Compassion Water of Life, you are not only giving safe drinking water, you are protecting a child from life-threatening diseases and allowing that child to go to school, to dream, and to reach their full potential.

What does $79.00 provide?
For $79.00, a family will receive one Compassion Water of Life system, which filters one million gallons of water.  It also provides education for improving hygiene and sanitation and support for improving community water sources when needed.  

How can you help?
Your donation (no matter how big or how small) could potentially SAVE LIVES... and it will literally fill someone's bucket with hope and clean water!  If you make a contribution of at least $25.00, you will receive a HUGE bundle of teaching materials to improve your own students' lives as well!  Simply click the button below to donate!  Once I receive an email notification, I will email the bundled file at my earliest convenience! :)  This fundraiser will run until Saturday.  After that point in time, I will transfer funds into my checking, and I will write a BIG check to Compassion International to turn in this Saturday!  I will also pop back in to tell you how many water filtration systems we were able to purchase for families in need.  What a great way to give back this holiday season! :)  Click on any of the pictures below to check out the files that are available as a BIG bundle!


Sometimes we get so caught up living our lives with our blinders on that we forget how truly fortunate we are.  This holiday season and always... MAY YOU BE BLESSED!!!  :)