Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2014 Will Be the Best Year Yet!

I absolutely believe that 2014 will be the best year yet!  I'm starting by putting my goals for the year in writing and linking up with Ashley over at Just Reed for this linky:

This linky party will be going on for 6 weeks.  Each week has a different focus.  This week the focus is our spiritual goals.  I recently took over the position of Director of Women's Ministries at my church, so this one is really near and dear to  my heart.  Here are my spiritual goals for 2014:

1.  Take more time each day to spend in God's Word and in prayer with Him.  I often let the day to day craziness take my quiet time.  I have found that when this happens, my day doesn't go quiet as well. 

2.  Let my words and actions be a witness to others.  I have to admit that one of the things I struggle with on a daily basis is a short temper. Usually, it comes out at the end of a long day toward my kids.  And, I hate to admit it, but sometimes, it even comes out in the classroom.  I have to remember that for some of my kids, I may be the only example of a godly adult they will see.  My goal for this year is to remember this fact and let God take control when things begin to upset me.

3.  Not be so afraid to witness and share God's good news with others.  I don't know why I sometimes let opportunities to share God's word just pass me by.  Satan uses fear to stop us.  This year, I want to take every opportunity to witness.

4.  Let the Holy Spirit guide me.  Too often, I try to take control of situations and solve them myself without praying and asking God to guide my decisions.  This year, I want to stop and take the time to seek God's will in every area of my life.

5.  Finally, I want to stop and give thanks to God for all His blessings.  In December of 2012, the Lord laid on my heart to start what I call a Thankfulness Challenge.  Each day of 2013, I posted on Facebook something that I was thankful for.  Some days, it was REALLY hard, others - REALLY easy!  But all in all, it helped me stop and see just how much God does for me on a daily basis.  I'm continuing this challenge again for 2014.  If you'd like to join with me, you can like my 365 Day Thankfulness Challenge page on Facebook by clicking the link above.

Thanks for taking the time to read these goals.  Hopefully, putting them in writing each week will help to keep me more accountable.  Jump over to Just Reed and link up.  I can't wait to see what your goals for 2014 are!

Monday, December 30, 2013

My New Year's Resolutions

I'm linking up with A Peach For the Teach to list my new year's resolutions for 2014.  Here goes:

My personal goals are the same as millions of other peoples'.  Don't we all want to be healthier?  My problem is that I have a sweet tooth the size of Texas (and no willpower).  I'm not following any new diet, just trying to eat more fruits and veggies and cut out some of the junk.  I usually try to change it all at once (and always fail), so this year, I thought I would just start by eating more healthy lunches and branch out from there.  Baby steps...

My professional goal sort of ties in with my last personal goal.  I'm hoping this year to keep work at work.  This includes lesson plans and grading.  I really don't want to bring this home with me anymore.  I'm at school every day from 7:30 to 5:00 because my daughter's junior high (which is right across the street from the elementary school) starts at 7:20 and she babysits another teacher's son until 4:30 every day to earn some extra money.  This should give me enough time to get things done (as long as I can quit going next door and across the hall to chit chat, lol)!

I really want to keep my classroom neat and organized.  The problem is, I am a setter-downer.  I'll be carrying something to put it away, get distracted by something else and just set that thing down without realizing it.  Before you know it, things have piled up!  I'm going to try to be more focused and carry through with putting things away.

I was really bad about blogging last year.  My goal is to blog at least once a week (even if it's only a Five for Friday post)!  I also want to be sure to leave a comment on each blog post that I read from other blogs.  I know how good it feels to get comments on mine, but I'm often very bad about leaving comments for others. 

Finally, my just for fun goal - I LOVE reading, but I never have the time.  I really want to try to read at least one chapter each night from a non-work related book.  Right now, I'm reading this one:

Illusion, by Frank Peretti Christian Book Reviews And Information

Head on over and link up.  I'd love to see your resolutions!

Monday, December 23, 2013

13 in 13

 I'm linking up with Hadar, Traci, and Kristin for the 13 in 13 party.

Link up here:
A Teeny Tiny Teacher


I just discovered these this year:
Seriously, y'all - if you have not tried these, you HAVE to!  They feel like sweatpants and look like jeans.  They are super stretchy and oh so comfortable.  I got mine at Kohl's for about $20.  I would so live in them  if I could.

The only movie we went to see this year was:
The kids loved it and I have to admit, it was pretty good!

Yep, got totally sucked into this show this year, but this is probably why:
I mean, who wouldn't want to spend a Monday night looking at that?


If you've never eaten at BJ's Brewhouse, you so have to go!  I've been about 10 different times and have gotten something different each time and still have not found one item on their menu I didn't like.  The best part, however is their dessert - the famous Pizookie:

It's a big cookie that they put through their pizza oven to get it nice and hot and then serve it with two scoops of ice cream on top!  YUMMY!

We tried departmentalizing in first grade this year.  I am only teaching math and science/social studies and my partner is teaching reading/language arts.  I wasn't sure about it at the beginning, but now I'm loving it.  I'm able to really spend my time focusing on just math/science and even though I have double the number of students (a morning and an afternoon class), I feel like I really know where each child is in their math progress.  After the first 9 weeks, the other first grade teachers decided to go back to having only their homerooms, but we decided to stick it out for the year.  I'm glad we did and we are already talking about doing it again next year!

My favorite gift this year is my early Christmas present from my Mom.  She came from Kentucky to Florida for Thanksgiving and went ahead and let me pick out my Christmas present.  What is it, you ask?

Yep, it's a new Ipad Air!  This is my first Ipad and I am loving it.  I debated whether or not to take it into school (for about 2 seconds) and then decided, nope, this one is just for me!

Since I am definitely a Pinterest addict, I really can't pick just one.  I could MAYBE pick a favorite from each board, but that would be...yeah, let's just say they're all my favorites!

I hate to say this, but I've been sooooo bad this year about blogging, I just don't have enough to choose from.  I'm hoping that this year will be better.  Forgive me?

I'd have to say that my best accomplishment this year has really been making more time for me.  I've gone from spending weekends at work to taking Friday nights and Saturdays as no work times.  I still end up doing some grading/planning on Sundays, but I'm hoping to change that in 2014.  

This picture has special meaning for me for many reasons: 
1.  This is our first real family vacation.  
2.  We visited Biltmore Estate to celebrate our 15th wedding anniversary.  This is where we went on our honeymoon and we thought it would be neat to take the kids back to see it. 
3.  This summer was when my hubby and I really started to reconnect.  We have been together for 18 years, married for 15 and for the last 6 or 7 years or so, we had been really struggling.  We had grown so far apart over the years that we were only months away from calling it quits.  We both decided that we needed to re-evaluate our marriage and just put God first.  I really believe that that is what made all the difference.  We are happier now than we have ever been.  

My favorite memory this year is from Halloween.  

We were on our way back home from trick-or-treating.  We live out in the country, so we actually drive the kids from house to house.  We were almost home and decided to stop at one last house around the corner from us that had their light on.  The woman had a table set up in her yard from which she was handing out candy.  When the kids got out of the truck and ran up to her, she told them that she had gone in to use the bathroom a few minutes before and someone had come by and taken all of her candy.  They started to run back to the truck and then my son turned around and ran back.  I couldn't figure out what he was doing.  When he got back to the truck, he told me that he had run back and had given her some of his candy out of his bag so that she could pass it out to any other kids who came along.  I was so proud of him!

My goal for 2014 is really to back off from school.  I need to really spend more time focusing on my family  and strengthening my walk with the Lord.  He has blessed me so much this year, and I often get so busy and wrapped up in day to day stuff that I don't give Him or my family the time they really deserve.  

My one little word for 2014 is: PRIORITIES.  I need to really take a good look at what I have in the past set as a priority and make sure that my priorities are in order. 

I can't wait to see your 13 in '13.  Hurry and link up!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Elf Love!

I cannot believe that it has been almost 2 months since I blogged!!! Oh my goodness. I'm trying to get back on track with the whole blogging thing. This is the first year I have had an elf in the classroom and I think I'm having more fun than the kiddos. They love coming in each day and seeing what Crystal has been up to and I have so enjoyed seeing their surprise at all of the antics. Here are some of the things Crystal has done so far:

 She was found reading a book to some of our other stuffed animals

 She set up our Christmas tree

One day she got into the candy

We found out she likes to color

One day she even went next door and had a snowball fight with the elf next door!

She has also left us a picture of her house at the north pole and brought ornaments that we can make for our parents.  Today we found her playing Connect Four with a bunny friend. 

If you have never had an elf in your classroom, you REALLY need to ask Santa to send you one for next year!  Sooo much fun!

On a different note, my daughter started jr. high this year and I had to come up with some inexpensive gift ideas for her 6 teachers.  So...we found out their favorite candy bars and made some candy wreaths.  They turned out pretty well and what teacher doesn't like candy (ok, so she did have one that doesn't eat candy, but we gave him coffee and cookies, so...)?  Here's a photo:
Quick and easy!  So, I'm wondering - what do you give your children's teachers for Christmas?

Monday, October 21, 2013

Busy, Busy October

Man, is it just me or is October really busy?  I just realized I never shared my kiddos work from our 12 Ways to Get to 11 project.  As a quick recap, we read the book and the kids broke up into groups to create their own pages based on the format of the book.  I have to say that the kids did a great job.  Many of their pictures were creative and their number sentences gave me the opportunity to teach them how to "chunk" numbers when adding more than 2 digits.  Here are a few of their pages:
 "One bat, 1 princess, 3 trees, and 2 pieces of candy"
 "There are 6 eyeballs and 1 broomstick"
"There are 3 clouds, 1 sun, and 1 rooster."

Each group had a different sum to make.  I let each group decide what they wanted the theme of their book to be.  Most groups chose Halloween (of course), but I did have a group choose a farm theme (you see one of their pages above) and one group chose a Christmas theme. 

Last week, we studied owls.  The kids had a great time and found out that some of the things they thought they knew about owls were actually misconceptions (like all owls are nocturnal or they all live in trees).  I wanted to share a fun activity we did.  When I started going through my owl stuff, I found these old paper bag puppets:

Now, I don't know how it is in your school, but we don't really have time to just make paper bag puppets unless there is some Common Core learning involved!  So, instead of just making puppets, we turned these into fact holders.  We had each child write 4 or more facts on paper squares.
Then, we stapled the top of the bag shut and cut a slit where the bottom of the bag folds.  The kids then were able to put their facts into the owl to take them home and share their learning with their families!
The kids had a blast with this and we were still able to incorporate some fun art into our day!

Sunday, October 13, 2013

21st Century Anchor Charts

    I can't believe it's October already!  I don't know about you, but I love Fall!!!!  Cooler weather (which here in Florida means the low 80's), Halloween, pumpkins, football...what's not to love?  As some of you know, we are departmentalizing this year which means I now have a  morning class and an afternoon class.  It's taken a lot of getting used to, but now that we're getting in the swing of things, I'm starting to like it.  It really gives me the chance to focus solely on math/science.

    One of the things I've had to get used to is making anchor charts.  The first time I started making one this year with my morning class, I got about halfway through it when I realized that I would need to do it again with my afternoon class, which meant using another piece of chart paper.  Now, I don't about y'all, but we are SERIOUSLY limited on funds, which means we have to be really careful about what we use.  So I got to thinking about how I could continue to make anchor charts for both classes and save paper.  I did see a cool post about using post-it notes to make anchor charts for each class.  I was going to put the link here, but I can't remember where I saw it.  If you know who posted this, let me know so I can put the link.  So I got all excited about that until I started to think about how many sticky notes I might have to get.  Sticky notes = money.

    Hmmmm....how to make 2 sets of anchor charts without spending a lot of $$$.  Enter the anchor charts of the 21st century:

Here is an example of a KWL we made on pumpkins.  The first two show my morning class - what they know and what they wonder.  After reading some books about pumpkins, we then added what we learned.  I added a small yellow star each time we answered one of their "I wonder..." questions.  The second 2 show my afternoon class.  As you can see, we hadn't written about what we learned yet.  We can then pull up each chart when needed, or you can print them out if you want them to be hung up for the kids to access anytime.

After doing these, I did have another thought.  You could also create one large chart after both classes have created their individual ones by combining the ideas of both classes.  I'm thinking about doing this with our owl unit next week.

I'll leave you with a smile.  I don't think I posted this back in September when we did it (but if I did, hey - I'm gettin' old and forgetful).  We read Officer Buckle and Gloria and then the kids had to write out a safety tip which we then bound into a class book.  Here is one of my favorites:
It says, "Don't wear high heels to school!"  Gotta love my girlie girls!