14 in '14 {memories}

As I reflect upon this past year, it was truly the year of babies and weddings sprinkled with a new job and a bit of heartache during my dad's illness (thankfully, he is better).  Life continued to move at a steady pace still with its fair share of changes.  I think looking back is the greatest way to prepare to move forward.  Here we go : )
First wedding: My cousin Paul who I am very close to.  He is almost like the brother I never had.  Paul married his bride, Kendall (also a teacher) in Roswell, Georgia on a very cold Southern weekend.  Luckily, the warmth of family and friends was abundant.

My bestest friend since 2nd grade, Lauren, had a beautiful baby boy in May.  He is so special. I am enjoying being an "aunt" to this precious boy and watching him grow.

Just a few days later, after a very complicated pregnancy, we welcomed our first nephew, Landis into the world.  My sister-in-law is a champ--so patiently waiting 45 days of hospital bed rest for this miracle to arrive.  Ever more than I love being an aunt, I am so loving watching Jon as an uncle.  Landis is the first grandbaby and is spoiled with love and affection : )

Atlantic City to celebrate one of my best friend's bachelorette party!  That's all I can say about that ; )

Dewey Beach, Delaware with my mom and our friends. We try to take a trip annually and the beach has been our spot the past two years.  Always a fun time!
V and K's wedding was such a perfect day celebrating two amazing people. V and I have been friends since we were 13--through thick and thin.  It was so awesome to watch her marry the man of her dreams.


The very next weekend, my other guy cousin, Pete, married his lovely bride, Laura.  Their wedding was at a beautiful old barn set on 100 acres of land.  It felt almost like a family reunion with all of the outdoor games and good times.  The night ended with a professional fireworks display--the perfect end to a perfect day.
A last minute trip to Baltimore with friends meant a visit to the aquarium.  It was such a fun day followed by lots of walking, food and drinks!
I started the school year in my favorite grade--2nd.  While it only lasted a little over a month, it was one of my favorite classes I have ever taught.  The journey as a substitute was long and hard but I wouldn't trade it.  My experiences were beyond what I could have ever learned in one classroom alone.  This job led me to my new permanent position as a Kindergarten teacher at a cyber school.  While it wasn't what I thought I wanted, it is what I needed.
Here's some of the kindergarten team at our Christmas party.  I have only been there about 2 months but they have made me feel part of the family already.  And for that I am grateful.
Our good friends invited us back to Baltimore a few weeks ago to go to the Ravens game.  It was a fabulous time and a great last trip before the holidays!!
I can't wait to read about everyone else's year-in-review.  I am off to lunch and a movie with my parents on this chilly Tuesday.  I only have two more days of break before I am back at work on Friday : (  But at least it is the weekend again right after : )


Christmas Convo

Happy Holidays, all!
             Today I am linkin' up with Abby over at The Inspired Apple to talk, talk, talk type, type, type about everything Christmas! Click on the button below to join the convo!

I really love Christmas Eve just as much as Christmas Day.  Last year we added a new tradition of roasting a pig with my best friend and her in-laws who are from Croatia.  I almost let it spoil my fondue dinner which I look forward to ALL YEAR.  (I refuse to ever go to the Melting Pot).

I can't wait to read about your Christmas favs!

Merry Chrismahannukwanzikah Friends!!


Merry Christmas to ME!

I am linkin' up with the ladies at Blog Hoppin' to show off what I bought during the BIG sale!  I had a hard time restraining myself from making these purchases until midnight on Sunday.  I started a new set of centers which equals needing wanting a TON of new clipart.  So clipart is what I bought!

Digital Mojo {I stinkin' LOVE this name}
With all this amazing talent, I was able to whip together some Holiday themed centers.  Just leave a comment and I will pick a winner tomorrow!



**Side note** To be honest, I didn't buy anything for the classroom because...

I no longer have one : (  Well, truthfully, I never really had my own classroom--just borrowed ; ) It's bittersweet but I started teaching at a cyber school about a month ago. It is definitely different and it wasn't in my grand plan.  But, like the Rolling Stones once said: You can't always get what you want.  I tried by darndest.  And I got what I need.  Which is stability and a job. For which I am thankful.

I exerted self-control and saved some bucks.  I hope you did, too! I can't wait to head back to the linky party and see what everyone else got! I mean, it's ONLY 10pm.


December Currently

It's the most wonderful time of the year!  December 1st brings feelings of joy, gratitude, giving AND sharing....what's up with you right now? I can't wait to read about it! Link up with Farley and take part in the fun!
I have a sale to get to so I am going to make this QUICK!
If you aren't down with Modern Family, I am not sure I want to be friends. (jk) No, but seriously.  I know I am like 5 years behind but I.LOVE.THIS.SHOW!
We got a LIVE tree and it is awesome! First one for us ever.  I grew up with a HUGE live tree every year (my parents' house has 17 ft ceilings!!).  Now they switched to fake so it's just not the same.  I had a void that needed filled.  It was super fun to pick it out and bring it home (strapped on the roof, Christmas Vacation style).  Only a few profanities slipped during the transportation and setting up process so all around a SUCCESS!
I don't want to brag but we have off tomorrow! Why, you ask? Because it's the first day of hunting season, duh!! *insert sarcasm*  Not a hunter myself but I can get behind any reason for an extra day off!
I have THE MOST difficult parents to buy for.  Mostly, my dad.  Gift suggestions are welcome, encouraged, please. help.
I started going to the gym. {pats self on back}.  See, I got this new job--still in education-- and well, I have more time and energy to go.  AND get this, they reimburse gym memberships.  Well, hello? It was a no brainer. 
My lack of productivity=your gain
Here is my unfinished 2nd grade Print and Go Math for Winter.  **FREE** Enjoy : )
Click the button below to join the party!!


The 4 P's of Differentiating

Differentiating is one of those major buzzwords that has surfaced in the past few years of teaching.  It is something we probably always did.  I can't imagine one room school house teachers didn't differentiate just a little bit to reach the wide range of ages in that room.  However, differentiating has changed a lot over the years. (Trust me, I have been around for 4 years : )

As someone who has felt like a full time interviewer lately, I try to tweak and improve my answers each time.  "How do you differentiate?" has always been one of those kickers.  I know what I do.  But how does it look? And how do you put it into words what you do so it sounds somewhat coherent?  Because we all do it all the time all day, most of us without thinking about it.

The other night while I was trying to sleep I was thinking about all the ways you can differentiate. (Really exciting, right?)  I came up with the 4 Ps and I furiously wrote it down so it wouldn't become a fleeting thought.  I figured I would share on here.  Not because I am some expert or this is anything new to anyone.  Just so I could document what I felt was helpful for me at the time--to put it into words--all the ways I see it.

It's how you...

Present the Information: How are you actually teaching this stuff so it reaches the various learners? Chunking information, rephrasing, proximity to students (on the carpet, at their desks?), what visuals you use, incorporating movement, song, manipulatives....whatever works to get their mental juices flowing. Some of these will help all students.  Some will help...some.  I see this as the first step in differentiating your instruction---incorporating specific strategies to reach those individual learning needs.

Provide multiple Processes: (There is actually 2 P's there, maybe I should call it the 5 P's?)  You can't always do this one but I like to use math as an example.  Giving students various strategies to choose from in order to reach the goal.  This is the "how-to" for the students.  Providing multiple methods reaches the majority of learners and then they can use what works best for them.  Take even and odd for example: this year I taught what felt like 100 ways to figure out if a number was even or odd.  Using your hands to share the number, referring to your math notebook to look at the even/odd chart, counting by 2s, using manipulatives, drawing a picture, meeny meeny miny mo (just kidding).

Practice: If I had to pick, this is my favorite. What opportunities are you providing for students to use the skill?  Centers? Independent work? Small groups?  How they practice it can be differentiated based on their readiness level.  This was my most proud development in my last long term position. I established math center time at the end of class.  I was able to create centers with varied levels of difficulty and I matched my students by skill level.  After everything was up and running, students worked independently so I could visit a few groups each day or work with a small group to reteach.  Sometimes the practice is a worksheet---but you can vary the level of the worksheet through the types of problems, number of problems or simply adding an extra "challenge".

adapt the Product: What is any good lesson without assessment?  Change the rubric, requirements or tweak the test to make it fit.  Testing accommodations would also fall under this category. Is the student reading aloud or independently? 4 choices or 2?  You make it appropriately challenging but ensure it still evaluates the skill and, of course, aligns with the standard.

 Remembering the 4Ps will certainly help me give a logical answer next time.  I hope, maybe, it fit your needs too. : )


OoooH! It's October

I don't have to explain to you that September was rough.  When I say rough, I mean that in the best way possible.  An absolute whirlwind.  I am welcoming October with open arms and an open heart. (Oh jeez, I sound like Jane Seymour from the Kay Jeweler's commercial.)

I may not post consistently but I am all about one thing every month and that is linkin' up with
Farley over at Oh Boy 4th Grade
Because every month deserves it's own little BIG celebration!
Oh' Boy 4th Grade
1) Bravo could be the only channel on TV and that would be a-o-k with me! The hubs, not so much.  So while he is away I am getting my fill.
 I love me some Housewives and all of the other wonderful reality show concepts they come up with {I may have watched 5 episodes of Below Deck last night}. 
Currently,(see what I did there?) they don't have multiple housewives going on at once because Andy Cohen must know us teachers have been really busy with school and don't have near as much time to keep up with 3 cities at once like we did this summer (or is that just me?)

2)  Wow.  This is huge! I started my store one year ago and I am so so so so grateful for what TPT has provided for my life.  Not just financially, but as an outlet for creativity and the support of a wonderful community.  Nuff said.  GIVEAWAY to CELEBRATE! Win my All Things Autumn: Print and Go Math.  I will give away 4 since I am at 104 followers and there is a 4 in the ones place. (Anyone else been teaching place value non-stop?!)
3) Self explanatory.  Do you get a Fall break?
Actually, don't even answer that or I won't like you anymore.
(just kidding)
4) I never want to go to the movies.  I always prefer waiting for it to come out On Demand and watching it in my pajamas at home on my couch {with wine}. 
But I do have the urge to go see Annabelle. Why? You ask.
 I kind of have a thing about scary dolls.  Child's Play was the first scary movie I ever saw when I was wayyy too young to see it and it scarred me for life.  So why not put an end to the Chucky fear and replace it with Annabelle? Yep, that sounds good!
5) Story of my life: always waiting for some news.  Where will I go next? What will I teach? If you have the answers to these questions, I'd love to know ; )
(and I won't even be mad if you get a Fall break!)
Here's a TREAT for you : ) Just click the pic to go to my FB page for a freebie : )
Happy October, all!


Five for Fraturday

My heart is happy.  This week we finally got over the beginning of the year bump.  Back to School night is over {thank goodness}, MOST assessments have been administered and we are finally into some good ole fashioned learning! {or maybe it's new fashioned?}

Linkin' up for my favorite party with Doodle Bugs!
Here is an abbreviated overview of the past 3 weeks of school--EEKK!

Do you Daily Five?  I have tried incorporating a few aspects of it--without reading the book-- which I am sure is so wrong on so many levels. 

So when I went to teach about reading with a partner, I told them to read like this. 

And I explained the acronym EEKK by saying how our elbows and knees are parallel.   Because parallel makes a lot of sense to 7 year olds.  Anyway, I kind of decided that I like them to read their anthology books like this since they are so big (the books, note the kids).  I guess I will do a follow up lesson next week about reading the SAME book and sharing and sitting next to each other and all that that and I promise I will get it right the second time.  : )

When I saw this picture on Pinterest,
I knew even with 100 other things on my (mental) to do list, it had to be done.
{Unfortunately, I cannot find the original source.  The picture doesn't lead to anywhere and I even did a google search, so I apologize if this is yours!! Please let me know and I will give credit : )}
I put my own spin on it and included a pencil craft the kids made with a bunch of scrapbooking paper I had sitting around my house just looking pretty.  I put it up in time for Back to School night and then realized my door would be open while parents walked by my room so they probably wouldn't even see it : /  Oh well! I still love it!

We dove into math centers this week after I prepped for two weeks and changed my mind 5,000 times about how I wanted it to be set up and who should be partners with who and what time of math we should do them and all those other logistics.  We did them 3x so far and it made me SOO happy to see them working together and having fun while practicing necessary skills : )

 Glad I took this picture so I could see some of my friends need some more practice ; )

This happened on Thursday night.  How does this happen?! 
I don't have a clue but it makes me SOOOO excited!!!

I made these.  It only took two weekends, four trips to different stores, a stop at my parents and my husband's help but I finished them and they are in my classroom and there are 5 of them and I shouldn't sit on them because they are not designed for full grown people to use 'em but they look perrrrty and that's all that matters, right?
Have a great weekend!!!! It feels like a cool, autumn day here in Pennsylvania.  We have a 4 mile walk for Out of the Darkness: Suicide prevent later today. 
If you are feeling generous and want to donate, click here : )