Wednesday, July 31, 2013

{Back to School Linky}

I am linking up with Mrs. Just Reed's fabulous Back to School Linky!  Even though I'm not going into my very own classroom this year, like I have in the past, I am always super excited about the beginning of the school year.  It's my absolute most favorite time of the year!  And for so many great reasons.  It's all about community building and getting to really know your learners!  {AWESOME}!

So here are my top 10 Back to School Ideas & Pins!! (In no particular order)
10)  Inside my head.  I love this idea because it allows you to really get to know your kiddos!  And it's fun!
Thanks Milk & Cookies for this great idea!
9)  I believe very strongly in the power of having a goal.  And not just creating one.  Or saying one.  But writing it down.  And revisiting it.  Over and over again.  It's important to set goals on the first days of school.  You need to spend time setting expectations and learning your students.  But by setting goals you show them how important learning is to you.  And that they're expected to grow.  And once they meet a goal, they set another goal.  You can use my goal setting pages in my product Start the Year off Right to help with this!  I find these pages extremely helpful. 
C.S. Lewis says it better than I ever could.
8)  Live and die by a Writer's Notebook.  I love, love, LOVE all things Ralph Fletcher.  Including his book, A Writer's Notebook.  And I love spending writing time, outside, writing in the warm weather.  Especially at the beginning of the school year.  And if I were to be enjoying a classroom this year, I would be focusing on carrying around our writer's notebooks everywhere.  To the cafeteria.  To the playground.  Home.  Ev-ah-ree-where!  And capturing down bits and pieces of everything.  Conversations, feelings, colors, pictures, words.  Seriously... we'd be writing fiends.  And honestly friends, what better way to get to know your writers!  Am I "write"?  Bahhaa!

7)  I'm also enamored right now with these colorful tabs.  They're be great for letting student's separate their own writer's notebooks.  And that rolls right into number 6...

Happy place!
6)  Colorful pens!  Who doesn't love getting out a new and colorful pen and writing!?  If you are shaking your head "no" right now, you're obviously lying to yourself!!  There is nothing better than a fresh notebook (or an old/abused/treasured notebook) ready to be filled with writing.  And colored writing at that! 
5)  Stick it to Me (aka Parking Lot)-  What a great idea... especially for the first days of school when our poor kiddos are just nervous to even raise there hands. 

4) Time Capsule- I would L.O.V.E. to have my students create a time capsule during the first week of school and then open it on the last.  It would definitely help them see how much they grow over the course of a year.  Craziness!

3) Common Core Standards in the Back of Books- LOOOOOOVING this super great idea.  How convenient.  And super practical.  And all kinds of amazing... I will definitely be trying these out!

2)  Bursting with excitement-  Too cute!  And who doesn't love starburst?  I'll have to be sure to only buy a *few* extra.  Or I'll someone I know will end up eating them all.  Whoops!  :)

1)  Custom coloring pages-  Who doesn't love the comfort of coloring?  I LOVE these pages.  And they would be so cute to send home on the first day of school.  I know drawing always calms my nerves.  Maybe I should go do some coloring now...
There' sooo many adorable back to school pins going around right now that it was impossible to choose a top ten!  I probably could have added about twenty more.  But these are some of my favs for sure. 

Happy Hump day!!!

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Taking a break

Taking a much needed break to {shamelessly} reread The Hunger Games and enjoy a small picnic with my hubby! :)

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Back to School Activities

I remember my first year of teaching.  I was so excited.  Like, all types of giddy, excited!  I just wanted to start the year off where I had left student teaching.  And thus, I jumped right into my school year with little-to-no community building, expectation setting, or get-to-know you activities. (WhatintheworldwasIthinking

What little I did do, was not done enthusiastically.  I wanted to have a classroom of kiddos who were working in full workshop model.  I completely ignored my mentor's wise words of "Wait 6 weeks until you are in full swing. Spend time getting to know your learners".  While 6 weeks is SUCH a long time, it is crucial to your classroom community.  And holy batman did I learn that the hard way my first year of teaching.  I had kids barking under tables, temper tantrums thrown, and lots and lots of tears.  Mainly my own. 

My second year I did a little better but it really took until my third year of teaching to get this.  But seriously...

That doesn't mean don't start classroom routines.  But it does mean get to know your students.  It's not going to help you any if you start grouping kiddos before either of you are ready.  Meet with kiddos 1 on 1.  Work with them.  Build a community.  Play games.  Earn their trust.  Find out what they love.  Teach them about who you are.  This is the time in the year where pressure is low and you can do what you love.  This is where my new product, Start the Year off Right in Secondary, comes in!  It is chockfull of kid tested activities.  I promise they will all be a huge hit!  And you will be able to spend time building a community that respects one another.  A community that works as a team.  And most importantly, a community that you can grow and teach.  I am by no means an expert on this, but I am slowly learning.  And if anything, this is the most important advice I can give.  Spend a full six weeks getting to know your learners.  You won't be disappointed!

P.S. More details about my product, Start the Year off Right in Secondary, will be coming soon!  So stay tuned :)

Friday, July 19, 2013

Classroom Economy - Checkbook Incentive Program

How many of you are stumped on classroom incentives?  I know I was forever.  Something that worked one year, wouldn't work the next.  My kiddos were just too different.  Like all classrooms, some were internally motivated.  Some were externally motivated.  Some worked really hard no matter what.  Others didn't work hard at all, for any reason.  That's just the way it is. 

Ideally I would LOVE to have a classroom where positive verbal reinforcement was enough.  And where I was good enough at it, that it worked and I didn't need another system.  But alas, I am not there yet.  I'll keep working on it though! 

But until then, I have come up with a system that I have used, altered, mastered, and come to love, y'all!  I am so excited to share it with you!  It's the Checkbook Incentive Program.   Check it out by clicking on the link!

Basically, students make their own checkbooks {everything they need is in the packet on TpT} and then get rewarded for good behavior and work, with checks from you.  Students keep their checks and their balance in their own checkbooks.  {LESS WORK FOR YOU, PTL!!!}  Then, they visit a "Banker" {which can be you or it can be a classroom job for your students- I recommend making it your students if they can be responsible and trustworthy} and "deposit" their checks in the bank.  For me, our bank is a binder with balance sheets.  Each student has their own balance sheet that looks an awful lot like this...

At the beginning of each year, I print my own checks and write on them.  I write different reasons I may pass out a check, like "Being a great listener", "Going above and beyond", or "Helping another classmate".  I then give all the checks different denominations.  I like to stick with $5-$15.00, but the price is completely up to you!  You can even make some checks crazy denominations, like $12.36 to force adding and subtracting different numbers.  Then, I laminate the checks and cut them out so they're ready to pass out at a moment's notice!  When I see a kiddo doing an exceptional job, I hand them a check and very specifically verbalize why they're receiving that check.  {That's an important part of this system!  Kiddos need to know what they did so well!}. 

At the beginning of the year we choose good times to balance our checkbooks, so that we don't have students balancing them during my math lesson!  So until it's the right time, students stick their check in their pocket or in their checkbook.  Then when they're able, they fill in their new check in their checkbook balance pages and find their new balance.  About once a week, students sign up to visit the banker and deposit their checks in our class bank.  {This is where laminated checks can be great because you can reuse them once they're turned in!}  Students keep track of their own balances in their checkbooks and just like a real checkbook- the correct balance is always the one at the bank. 

So what do students do with all this money?  What's the big deal?  Well, here's my favorite part!  When students go to the bank, they are also able to "purchase" an item by writing a check to me {they better fill it out correctly though!}.

The possibilities are completely endless and up to you, so this program can fit your own classroom! 

One thing I really love about this program is, twice a year we have a large auction where we ask families and local organizations to donate items for us to auction off to the students!  These auctions are a great way to discuss with students why it's important to save your money and it provides them with an incentive to work hard all year.  It's a win/win! 

Again, how you use this program is completely up to YOU and your class!  If you have any questions about this or any of my other products, feel free to e-mail me at

And for the next 4 days, I will have all my products marked down 20% to celebrate Summer and that we have about one month left to enjoy!  Also, it's mine and my hubby's 1 month anniversary. :)   I know it's a small one but you've just gotta celebrate every little bit of life, right?  So enjoy!

Happy Friday, everyone!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

25 Clever Classroom Tips

Y'all, I have to be honest.  I am in some seriously classroom withdrawal.  Like, what do you mean, "I don't have a classroom to set up this month?"  "What am I supposed to pin on Pinterest this time of year??"  {Teacher Problems}

My FAVORITE time of the year is the beginning.  There's so much hope, promise, and newly sharpened pencils.  Who doesn't love the beginning of the school year?  And with me not having a classroom nearby this year, what am I supposed to do?  Sure, I'll be teaching in Spain- and that surely helps right now- but I'm still seeing things that I'd love to try out this coming year.... and I can't!  So I thought I'd share these little bits with y'all and get my fix of 'classroom set up'!  Please let me live vicariously through you. 

On Facebook, I saw this great article with 25 clever tips for elementary teachers!  To be honest, they're great for all teachers!  Some are new to me and some I've tried... but they're still ingenious ideas. 

I'm really looking forward to trying (or hearing about from you!) the Hershey Kisses & Colored Dots to determine groups.

Who can complain when the get to eat chocolate!?  Kiddos who have the same color get grouped together. 
So stinkin' smart!

Why have I been using notecards?  These are free/cheap and are way cuter!

Let's hear it for all the teacher apps that are out there nowadays!  Woot woot!
Remind 101
Premade = AWESOME.  I always remember Rafe Esquith, author of Teach Like Your Hair's on Fire reminding teachers that often student's problems, like forgetting homework, are based off more than laziness.  This is a great, and kind, way to remind students that "Hey!  We're all human!  But it's time to take some responsibility and I'm here to help!"

Who has time to decipher hand writing?  Although we all do it....
I'm ALWAYS losing those box tops... seriously...
Magnetic Spice Jars collect Box Tops
WHAT!!??  Absolutely brilliant... great for some quick word work and quick responses.  I'm loving this idea. 
Use Vinyl Cutouts on your horseshoe table and they can be written on with dry erase markers
Now, there is plenty more brilliantness, so go check out the article, 25 Clever Classroom Tips For Elementary School Teacher by Peggy Wang!
Enjoy and definitely let me know what you use and love!

Monday, July 15, 2013

Bring on the rain

Afternoon showers mean reading time for this little lady!! Who has some great (non-teacher!) book recommendations?

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Location:Gray Ghost Ln,Skidaway Island,United States

Sunday, July 7, 2013


Enjoying some coffee out of one of our wedding gifts :)

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Location:Gray Ghost Ln,Skidaway Island,United States

Monday, July 1, 2013


Just claiming my blog on Bloglovin' :)

<a href="">Follow my blog with Bloglovin</a>

July Currently

I'm linking up with Farley at Oh Boy 4th Grade for her July Currently!  GASP!  I cannot believe it is already JULY! 

Listening to the Tour de France.... My hubby is a huge cycling fan as well as a cyclist himself.  So we enjoy watching the Tour together.  We've even travelled together to see parts of it!  I've learned so much from him the past few years and love sharing this with him :)
Loving Using the word "Hubby" or "Husband" or "Groom" or "Wife" ... See the post below for more, but we JUST GOT MARRIED!!  Last week :)  If you check out the picture in my last post, you'll see how excited I am about this!
Thinking Pool... I love swimming, laying by the pool, reading paperbacks by the pool, enjoying a drink by the pool, and everything POOL.  In Colorado we didn't have a nice pool near us so we rarely enjoyed quiet pool time.  But here in Savannah there are TONS of pools and two right by our house.  Decisions, decisions....
Wanting some fresh fruit... Mom and I stopped by a local fruit stand and picked up the most delicious, scrumptuos, and amazing cherries the other day.  We devoured them in two days and I am dying for some more.  I may have to scout out more fresh, local fruit.  YUM!
Needing a good workout... Post wedding has been rough on the body and I'm ready for a cleanse/detox/new body. 
Tips/ Tricks/ Hints: Enjoy Summer, the school year comes all too quickly... I LOVE teaching and everything that comes with it (excpet grading, sometimes).  But Summer is important.  Summer is needed.  Don't forget to stop.  To enjoy.  To smell the roses.  The planner will fill up soon enough.  The piles of paper will stack before too long.  Slow down and love where you are right now.   I don't live in the moment nearly enough.  Let's all strive to enjoy.
It's July!!  Enjoy your yummy July 4th treats... burgers, chips, watermelon... and thank the Lord for the goodness around us. 



Wow is pretty much all I can say about my life these past two months.  WOW in a good way.  An amazing way.  A PTL way.  I have been through so many amazing and exciting life changes these past two months.  The Lord is good.  Life is good. 

About two years ago, my boyfriend and I made a goal to live abroad in Europe in two years.  So last summer, my FIANCE and I put that goal into motion.  We signed up for a TEFL class and began to plan as much as we could.  This past January we applied for a position through the Spanish government and on June 5, 2013 we found out we had been accepted to teach on the Balearic Islands this coming school year!  Then, on June 21, 2013 (just a week ago!) we GOT MARRIED!!! 

So, my husband (EEEEK!!!) and I have been going though these exciting life changes and have been welcoming each and every one of them.

While these changes have been exciting and are life goals for both of us, it's so hard to leave a perfect and awesome teaching job, like the one I had.  I love my principal, I love my school, and I LOVE my teaching partner, Mrs. Cahill.  I feel ridiculous for leaving such a great job while so many amazing teachers are looking for jobs such as mine.  Telling my principal I was leaving was a very challenging conversation.  I may have definitely cried.  But I know this is something WE want to do.  And I am still young.  And we have no kids.  And what perfect way to spend our first year of marriage!? 

So in June we packed up the car, drove away from Colorado, and drove across the country to Savannah, GA where my parents live and where we were getting married. 


Now, we're living in my parent's house and passing time visiting family and enjoying life together.  This September we'll fly on over to Spain and begin our teaching careers on Mallorca- an island off the coast of Barcelona!! 

We're excited, nervous, anxious, thrilled, scared, and ecstatic all at the same time... if that's even possible.

But that's why I've been MIA on here.  But now that life is calming down (ha!) and we have some "quiet" time, I will be posting on here about the end of our 2012-2013 school year.  And as we cross over into our new European life, I will be keeping y'all up to date about teaching over there, changing jobs, and any new products that are coming your way.  So please don't give up on MRS. Kelly Anne.  I am grateful for those of you who read my blog and am looking forward to sharing this crazy exciting new adventure with you amazing teachers.