Friday, July 11, 2014

Five for Friday

I am just finishing up my second week of summer vacation and man it has already gone by quickly! I am hoping it slows down some, but I feel like it is not likely since I have so much to accomplish before it is over. I was hoping to be back on a regular blogging schedule this week, but it didn't happen. So I thought I would link up with Doodle Bugs for Five for Friday, to get myself back on the blogging train :)

Here we go……..

One of my big projects for the summer is to plan for my maternity leave. I am due around October 6 and we go back to school on Sept. 3. I am hoping that means I will have at least 3 or 4 weeks with my kiddos to get our routine up and running, so things will go a little more smoothly while I am out. With that being said I know I need to plan for the fact that I may be out earlier than I am hoping for. Earlier this week I had a really hard time sleeping one night, so I decided to get started on my maternity leave binder. I have a sub binder that I currently use in my classroom, but I felt like I needed something with more detail. I feel like I am off to a good start, I got about 46 pages completed that night, but I am also worried that I am leaving things out. I would love to hear from others on what they have included in their long term sub plans or maternity plans. I hoping to get the bones of it completed in the next week and add to it as the summer goes. The hard piece is I am still waiting for a final class list, so it is making it hard to plan at the moment. 

I was running so errands this week that were baby related at Target and Ikea, but of course I came across some things for my classroom. My husband never seems surprised by this, I think he even expects it anymore. At Target they had started redoing the Dollar Spot for school. I was really excited to see it so early in the summer, but the other part of me was a little sad- we had only been out of school for like a week and half and already they were building the school supply section. I was impressed with myself that I only bought a few things, I found some erasers and foam shapes to use for manipulatives and that was about it. The one purchase I was excited about (and I posted about on Instagram today) was the teacher totes. They are in the $3 section, but much cheaper than I had seen at other teacher supply stores. I am really focused on organization this summer and I think it is because I know I will be on my leave at the start of the school year. My first thought was that I would use them to organize work for my Instructional Assistants to use to work with students. Everything in one place and they can just take it and go. So that is currently the plan for the two I bought, but I might be going back for more :)

At Ikea, I managed to find a handful of things for my room. I bought another set of their colored plastic cups and bowls for snack time ( I will be doing a post soon on our snack time and how we use them) and some of their kids organizing tubs. The purchase I was the most excited about was something I came across when I was searching online for some kids storage for the nursery. When I found it I was hoping it would be as perfect as it looked in person. It is a large trunk/suitcase looking like container. I have been looking for something to use as a treasure box for a long time now. They are either too small, too expensive, or fall apart too quickly. This guy is perfect! It is large and can fit different size items, but still has a look to it that makes it look like it is something special. My plan is to keep my students preferred choice activities/rewards in.

I had to drink this bad boy this week.

I was a little worried going into it. When they gave it to me a month ago they gave me a choice of flavors and I asked which one tasted the best and I was basically laughed at and told none of them do. I picked the orange and was little worried about it up until this week, especially after reading the instruction paper that came with it, stating that it could cause cramping or vomiting. I will report that it was not as bad as I was led to believe by everyone I talked to. It tasted like an orange soda and left me feeling like I had just eaten spoonfuls of sugar. I got lucky and got my results back yesterday and I passed! Thank goodness because I didn't want to have to do the three hour test!

We are having construction done at our school this summer, so we basically had to pack up our rooms and we won't be able to get back in until not too long before school starts back up. I spent a couple of days after school got out getting everything packed up in the room and packing up things I thought I might want to take home with me to work on over the summer since we don't know when we will be able to get back in. I left to go back home for a while for a baby shower and to see my family and my husband left all the stuff from my classroom in my car while I was gone and it got brought in this week. The pile use to be a little bigger and I managed to get some of it moved into my office, but I still have all of this to move and go through :/ 

I am going to be doing a little give away on both my Instagram and my Facebook page. I will pick a winner from each to win one of these cute cups (Instagram-teal/ Facebook-pink). 

Happy Friday! Have a great weekend!

Monday, June 2, 2014

Currently for June

I don't know how it is possibly June! Where did the school year go? I am not going to lie at the same time I am ready for the summer to start, have a little time to get things done, and prep for next year. I am linking up with the amazing Farley over at Oh Boy Fourth Grade for the June Currently.

listening: My dog is laying with me on the couch as I type. I have the TV on, but all I can hear is his snoring. I never knew a dog could snore so loudly. He is lucky he is so cute :) 

loving: I am loving the beautiful weather we have been having in Seattle lately. I am excited for summer to come a little early and be able to get outside. It makes me excited for being off this summer.

thinking: I need to be making some lists to get myself organized. There is a lot I need to accomplish before the end of the school year. We also have to pack our rooms up, as we are having some construction done at our school this summer. I am wanting to put some end of year books together for my kiddos and I have yet to start. I have 13-14 school days left to get everything accomplished. We are also expecting a little one in October. I feel like there is a lot to organize for that and I am hoping to accomplish most of it over the summer. I don't want to miss anything or be running around at the end. Last, I just need to organize myself for the summer. I want to make sure I am using my time off effectively has I am actually going to have this summer off (no summer school or tutoring). I want to make sure I stay active and keep up with everything for school, while enjoying the time with my husband and family.

wanting: I feel like I get the itch to travel every year at least once. Last sumer I had wanted to take a trip down the west coast, but we just couldn't get it to work out. I am going home at the end of June to see my family and have a baby shower, but I am hoping we can travel to somewhere new. Even if it is for a weekend, I am hoping we can go have an adventure together. A massage also sounds amazing right now. I am getting into the part of my pregnancy that I just have a hard time always feeling comfortable at times and my body is feeling it.

needing: We are in full on baby prep. Over Memorial Day weekend we headed to the outlet mall to take advantages of some sales, since we had found out we are having a boy. I also had taken advantage of a sale Gap was having online. I have a huge pile of clothes that I need to start washing and put away. I feel like October is months from now, but I know it will come quicker than I think and I will feel better once I have it done. We also have furniture and other items showing up weekly. I need to start find homes for this stuff and organizing. I feel like it will be much easier once school is out to focus on this and have more time.

summer bucket list: I want to make sure I get out more this summer and enjoy the city and weather. Last summer I was so busy that I didn't feel like I had enough time. I also want to make sure I stay active, I have to watch what I do for exercise. I want to get everything prepped for next year and my leave. I feel like in a way it isn't a bucket list item but I want to make sure it is completed and I am not stressed and rushing. I want to go on some sort of adventure before the summer is over. I love to see new places and take a break. It will also be the last adventure before our little man comes. Again baby prep maybe isn't the best bucket list item but I want to get things done as early as possible and really enjoy this time. I don't want to be rushing or stressed about it.

I hope everyone has a great week! I am off to read everyones Currentlys and get ready for the rest of my week!

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Five for Friday on Sunday :)

Of course I am late to the game. I think my blogging in this last year would support that. My goal now that things have calmed down in life for a little bit, is to get back into the swing of things.  I didn't want to miss posting for this week and maybe do a little summary for my Five for Friday about what has been going on in my room this last week, but also what has been keeping me so absent over this last school year.

First off I start out the school year in my position for from the year before. It was a mixed program were I was the resource room teacher and an autism inclusion teacher. It was a hard mix especially since we lost our half time teacher. I really enjoyed my job and had prepped for the whole summer. At the end of October a dream position and a dream school became available in another district (my home district- I had been making a very crazy and expensive commute). I applied because I felt like it was an opportunity I couldn't miss out on. It was a really hard decision for me, but after reading some amazing blog posts from some other bloggers about the challenges they faced in switching positions or leaving during the school year, I decided to apply and see how it unfolded. I felt horrible about possibly leaving my students during the school year, even though we had been in school for a month and half. I interviewed and received news that I got the job- they would like me to start as soon as possible. Then came the hard part….making the decision. I would be closer to home and not keeping crazy hours anymore- positive. It would be such a positive for my health and wellbeing as I was very run down at the time and my health not the best. It was more money and less of an expensive commute- positive, though not the most important. The job itself was really what excited me, a self contained/inclusion classroom for students with autism k-2, eight students. In the end I knew it was the best decision for me to take the job, even though I felt horrible leaving my students and families during the school year. I also felt like I was letting my school down. In the end I knew I needed to do what was best for me, as no one else was going to look out for me. And truly I believe that things happen for a reason. I had taken the position I was in, even though it seemed crazy at the time. I learned a lot from that job and had some great experiences. It was in a small district that really provided support for me to learn and grow as an educator. This position had come to me on a day where I really needed it and helped me make the change I needed. So to make a long story short my district released me in less than a week. I let my boss know on a Tuesday morning and my last day was Friday (Halloween none the less). It was a crazy transition and I started my new job that next Monday. The classroom I took over had not had a classroom teacher since Dec 2012 and had sub since then. I will just say it kept me very busy. There was a lot to get in place and not much time. So from there I spent all of time working on my new classroom. I could barely keep up reading my usual blogs. Instagram was about all I could handle as I could look at it quickly during a break or while I ate. I would take pictures of everyones amazing ideas so I could remember to go back and read about it.

Next big change that took place for me was mid to late January I found out I was pregnant. I recently post a picture on on Instagram of our little man. We just found out two weeks ago that we are having a boy. It has been a very exciting and kind of stressful experience. I had finally felt like I was back on my feet and ready to hope back into the teacher/blogger world. I had a number of products and activities I wanted to share and our little man came along and knocked me on my bottom. The first 11 weeks were hard. I spent our whole mid winter break on our couch, it was all I could do to feel like I wasn't going to die. We have moved passed all of that and I am feeling good now. I spent some time really enjoying the fact that we are having this little one and am ready to get back to the balance of everything. We also moved to a new house, which took up some time. I am hoping I can spend the summer blogging and prepping for next year and getting ready for baby. I am due in October, which made me a little nervous at first. I really didn't want to be leaving my kiddos in the middle of the year. But if anything I have learned that I don't have control and can't plan everything.

I am very excited to be back to blogging and having an amazing new blog design. I had gotten on the fabulous Megan's waiting list over at A Bird In Hand Designs at the start of the year. I though maybe having a new blog design would be a good motivator for me to keep this blog up to date. I was so excited when it was done and to see it during the process. She had so many wonderful designs, I just couldn't decide. I would highly recommend her services if you are looking for a new blog design. I am hoping to get everything updated and up and running in these next few weeks to make sure I am using all of the features of her beautiful design.

Now on to what we have been doing this last week. We have 14 days left of school (13 after Monday). This is exciting as I am ready for summer and I think my kiddos are too. At the same time I keep thinking it is just not enough time to get everything done that I would like. We are busy doing assessments for end of the year data, ESY, and what we need to work on for these last few weeks of school. It excites me to see their growing progress even over these last few weeks. One of my students is still having challenges with her letters, but I have found that even though she may not be able to verbally identify the letter, she can match the capital and lower case letter and knows the letter sounds. For her that is a huge accomplishment. I know I put a lot of pressure on myself to get my students where they needed to be after losing so much learning time. There are days that I feel like we haven't accomplished everything I was hoping for and that I really step back and reflect on all of the other things we have accomplished that are more important then their academic achievements. We sit at desks and are on task. We can participate in group learning. We are able to self calm. There are so many things that at times I take for granted because in a way I think as educators we have been forced to have such a focus on academics. And I know better then anyone else that my students really need to have a number of skills before they are going to be able to be successful with their academics. We have accomplished so much and even though we still have a long ways to go, I am so proud of us! :)

The last couple of weeks we have been watching our caterpillars eat, make the journey to the top of the cup, and go into their cocoons. It had been a while since I had done this with my students, like 3 years or so I would guess. I don't remember it being as stressful of an experience as this has been. It took forever for the caterpillars to come. I was worried we weren't going to have enough time or that they were not going to come at all. Of course the day they came was one of the hottest days so far in Seattle and they had been baking in the 80 plus degree sun on my porch for a number of hours. When my husband text me to say they had come and he opened them I was relieved. Until the next text came that he didn't think any of them were alive and they hadn't been moving. One of my students had been crying daily because the hadn't arrived and now I was going to have to tell them they were dead. Not something I was looking forward to. Luckily after being in cooler temperatures they began moving again. Thursday before Memorial Day they started to form their cocoons and before I left on Friday I made the switch into the horrible butterfly net (that is a whole other story). Two of them had sprung into butterflies by lunch time on Friday. I have never seen my students so excited. They were very serious about getting the home together for them and showing them to anyone they could find in the hall. In the end I am so glad it all worked out. I am just hoping they have made it over the weekend. They will be so sad if not. We are going to have to let them go this next week and I think they are going to have a very hard time with that. They just want to keep them around forever.

I hope everyone is having a wonderful weekend! For those on summer break, I am jealous! For those in school still I hope you have a great week! I am off to get ready to see our last Broadway Across America musical for the season- Once :)

Sunday, August 11, 2013

I am back.....

Yikes! I really thought I had blogged since this month's currently. In the last ten days I have been busy getting projects done in the classroom and at home. Now that summer school and my tutoring are over I have had more time to focus on classroom projects. If you follow me on Instagram you have seen a few of the projects I have been working on in the new addition to my classroom. It is coming along slowly and even though I have got a few additional projects done, I really need to pick up the pace in the next week and half. I will have to do a better job taking pictures to share as I go. I feel like the last couple of times I have been to school I have had to run out the door so quickly that taking pictures doesn't even cross my mind (my classroom is such a time warp- I am sure many of you can relate).

Any way I thought I would pop on my little blog today and share a freebie and a new product that I just got put up on my TPT store (which I also finally finished setting up). First up is my Special Education Communication Log Packet. The packet includes six different communication logs that I have found to be useful as a Special Education Teacher.

Last year I had a Parent Communication Form that I found and used. I kept them in my IEP binder and filed them with each students IEP. Every time I communicate with parents I would keep track of it on the form. I found that the form didn't document everything I wanted it to and the boxes were so little that I didn't have much space to write. I found it helpful to have a written log when I needed to go back and reference things. I decided to create my own sheet that would include everything I wanted to document and left me with more than enough room. I have included my Parent Communication Form as a freebie in my TPT store.

The other communication logs in the packet are a teacher, school psych, principal, team, and an other provider (outside providers the student may have). I found that I didn't always do a great job of documenting my communication with all of these people. I would have notes in different places, emails, posts with information on them and I would have to dig to find them. This year I wanted to make sure I had a better system going and was documenting everything in one place. There are so many important conversations that take place and I want to make sure on my end that I have everything documented in case I ever need it for any reason. I would love to hear about how others document their communication with all the professionals they are in contact with! I originally thought about doing it digitally, but there are times that I don't have access to a computer/ipad/iphone and I can write something down. I hate having to do the work twice and I don't want to forget to transfer things from one to another. I figure I will give this a try and re-evaluate after to see if it was a system that works for me. I would also love some feedback on the packet so I am going to give away a free packet to the first two people to leave me a comment (make sure to leave your email address). The packet will also be on sale until Tuesday :)

I am off to watch some Sunday night TV with my husband and get some projects done. I will be back this week with some more freebies and a back to school giveaway!

Happy Sunday!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

August Currently

Some months seem to go by really quickly, while others seem to last forever! Summer months always seem to go by super quickly. I have been teaching ESY for the last three weeks (today was my last day) and it seemed to fly by. As I was driving home I was thinking to myself that I have another month until school starts, but when I really started to think about it we report back the last week of August and I am sure it will be here in a blink of an eye. This leaves me three weeks to get things done and I know those weeks will get cut down by meetings and early open house for my kiddos. I don't even want to think about how much I have left to do, even though I have been working on things pretty steadily this summer. I just don't know how it is August already (I am sure I am not the only one), with that being said I am linking up with Farley from Oh' Boy 4th Grade's August Currently.

listening- I normally either have the TV or music on as background noise when I work or am at home. If How I Met Your Mother or Big Bang Theory are on that normally is my first go to. If not it is a random assortment of other bad TV.

loving- I had a really good time teaching ESY this summer. It was great to be able to work with a couple of my kids and get to meet some new ones. They were a great group and everything went really smoothly. It did take up a good chunk of time in my day and I was still tutoring afterward. It didn't leave me much time to work on things in my room (if I was lucky it would be an hour or two) or to work on things at home. I had Fridays off which I found myself often running round to stores to buy things that I needed. So I am excited to have a little more free time to get things checked off my list and prep for this school year. I also am not going to miss waking up super early, I would like a couple more days to sleep in a little before I have to be up by 5 am everyday during the school year.

thinking- Like I said before I don't know where the time has gone. I have been consistently working on stuff since we got out in mid June. I do feel like I have accomplished a lot, but I need to get moving on things. We have a number of new teachers to our school this year and they all have a handful of my kids, so I am feeling like I need to start prepping for them. I don't want to take up too much of their time before school starts- we all have a million things to do, but I want them to feel prepared and not overwhelmed.

wanting- I would love to be going on a vacation some where, anywhere. We just really haven't been able to make it pan out this summer. It makes me so jealous to see everyones' vacation pictures on their blogs and on instagram. Being somewhere tropical on a beach relaxing sounds pretty good right now. The weather here has been amazing up until recently, but it is just not the same. I am hoping maybe it will still happen and we can at least take a weekend trip, but I am not sure it will.

needing- My hair needs some love. It grows pretty quickly and it has been a while since my last hair cut/color. I just looked at my calendar and it was April (yikes!). It has gotten bad though, I may have cut my bangs myself a few weeks ago, and not well I may add. I had lighter brown highlights put in my hair last time and they are now a weird blonde color and it is not looking pretty. Sadly neither ladies that I see have any availability any time soon and I am having to wait until Sept. 7 to get in. I am really tempted to try some where else out, because I am not wanting to start school looking like a hot mess or having to cut my bangs again myself. I haven't had great luck with the other places I have tried in the area over the last few years until I found these ladies, so the other part of me is wanting to hold out- I at least know that after Sept. 7 my hair will look good.

b2s must haves- This was a hard one for me, but I feel like these are three of my top ones.

First off would be Scentos/Smelly Markers. I found Scentos last summer and bought a few (they are kind of pricey at a dollar a pop). My plan was to use them for things like making anchor charts and for special activities with my kiddos. My kids loved them and they became a must have in our daily work. We could get anything done as long as we had them. I have developed a large collection of them. I started finding them on clearance back in April and have continued to stock up over the summer. I mean how can you pass them up for .39? I am also loving these Mr. Sketch Stix Markers. I ordered a couple of packages a couple of weeks ago for myself and a give away I am going to be doing. I was on amazon looking for something else when I saw the price had been dropped to $2.71, so I bought two more boxes of them. It is an addiction and I know I have a problem, but I am pretty ok with it :)

Next up is staples pens. These are my favorite regular use pens (I have a small addiction to color pens also). I love the way they write and the feel of them. They come in a pack of 50 assorted (blue, black, and red), so they last me a while.

Last up is post its. They have always been one of my favorite things. I have two have different sizes of them and I love the lined ones. I was super excited when they came out with the giant ones this year and had to buy all three sizes.

I am excited to read what everyone else's must haves are! I am off to watch some Project Runway and make my to-do list for tomorrow.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Monday Made It

I did not do a very good job blogging this week. I have a number of posts I started, but never seemed to get around to finishing or posting. ESY, tutoring, and working in my room between those two things has kept me pretty busy this last week. However, I couldn't miss one of my favorite linkys, 4th Grade Frolics's Monday Made It.

First up is my classroom welcome sign. I had been toying around with what I wanted to do for a welcome sign for my classroom for the last week. Last year the sign was tossed together and wasn't really what I had been thinking, but it was the lowest priority at the time. I loved all the bunting I have been seeing and I started to make one on my computer, but I wasn't loving what I had come up with, so I put it on hold. Then I had gone to the craft store to get some more border (which they did not have- shopping fail!). I ended up walking around the store in search of something else (I am not really sure what, I am sure it was important, and I am pretty sure I did not leave with it) and ended up in the scrapbook section. I found a few other items I wanted for personal use, but knew I needed to walk away. Before leaving the area I came across exactly what I was looking for, this fabulous scrapbook paper that has been made into different types of bunting. Not only did it save me from having to cut out and design the bunting, but the paper was perfect and I loved all of the colors in it. I grabbed it and headed home to create some letters to put on it. I quickly made some chalkboard letters on the computer, cut them out, and glued them on the bunting and my project was complete. I had some bakers twine laying around from our wedding and used it to string it together. I am thinking about laminating it so it lasts a little longer, but I am worried it will make it too stiff.

My next project was something I toss together while I was up working in my room today. I was looking for the scotch tape when I came across some cork squares that I had bought and had up for a short period of time last year. I was thinking about putting them up on the side of my desk (the wall has some serious war wounds that need to be fixed or covered up), but I didn't like the way it looked. I had some left over fabric and I was thinking I could cover each square, when I decided to see if I could get it to work covering all four squares at once. I didn't really think about how tall it was, but I am thinking about putting my kiddos art work on display up top. I didn't really love it with just the fabric, so I added some border to it and it looked much better.

I am off to go check out all of the wonderful projects that have been posted today and get ready for making ice cream with my kiddos at ESY tomorrow. Head on over to 4th Grade Frolics to get some inspiration and link up.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Monday Made It

I have been working on a few projects here and there over the last week. Starting ESY/Summer School really cut down on my work time. I am finally able to get back into my room today and while I was packing up all the things that have been living in our dining room, I came across a few random projects that needed to be finished up so they could go with the first load to school. Monday Made It with 4th Grade Frolics came at a perfect time. Here are a couple of projects I have been working on the last few days.

I decided that my classroom needed a "teacher toolbox" to organize all of the things in our room. We have a million of random buckets and holders around the room holding different materials. With all of the people that use the supplies in the room, my paras and I can never find anything. I figured it would put everything in one place and hopefully reduce the amount of clutter on the shelves in my room. My classroom is split into a couple of different rooms, so I ended up making two of them to have in two of the spaces. I had a hard time deciding on the drawer numbers and ended up deciding on an 18 drawer chest that I got at Lowe's. The hardest step for me was making the labels, it took me some time to decide what 18 things I wanted to store in it. I figured if the 18 I picked didn't work for me I could always change it. I was a little bummed when I printed out my labels that the dark blue and the teal did not turn out how they looked on my computer. They look almost exactly the same, but I think it still looks pretty cute.

My other project came to me a couple of weeks ago when I was in Target. Everything in the "Dollar Spot" was on clearance for 50-70% off and I came across little clear plastic frames for .30 cents. I wasn't really sure what I would use them for and I kept looking at the bins. It came to me as I was shopping that I could use the frames as mini wipe boards in my groups. I like to play different games with my students that require them to write down their answer to the question on wipe boards and we share our answers at once. I figured these would be perfect for that. Students would be able to move the frames around and position them so they could hide their answers from others. I also like the idea of them being small, because there isn't extra room for them to draw and it doesn't take up a lot of the room when we are all at the table. It is also nice because I am able to fit them all in a small basket with erasers (make-up pads from the dollar store- they work perfect)and markers.

When I first started this project my plan was to just cut out paper for the background to make sure the marker would be easy to see and read. Once I started thinking about it, I was a little worried that my students would pull the paper out. I had bought some colored masking tape at Office Max and wasn't sure what I was going to do with it. I thought this would be the perfect project to use it for. I taped up the two sides of the frame so the paper could not be pulled out and it looked a little unfinished, so I taped all for sides. I am really happy with how they turned out and am excited to try them out with my kiddos.

Head over to 4th Grade Frolics to check out this weeks projects. There are so many great ideas being posted and I keep finding more and more things to make :)

Happy Monday!