Sunday, December 2, 2012

Finally! A classroom post!

Hey! Remember me?!

I don't blame you if you've forgotten all about my little blog. I've pretty much been the world's worst blogger the last few months.

But now that all of wedding festivities are done, I should be getting back into the normal swing of things. (I know, you've heard it all before.)


What's new with my class, you ask?

Well, that's a loaded question.

A few of my kiddos are, quite frankly, driving me a little crazy.

While a lot of my kids are settled in to the new school year, some of them are still acting like it's the first week of school. I mean, come on people, is it that hard to raise a hand?! And seriously, I know that you can hear me talking to someone-last I checked, that wasn't an invitation for you to talk over both of us!

On a happier note, my kids are really starting to L-O-V-E reading! Within the last week, I've finally won over one of my last two reluctant readers-thank you, Rick Riordan for writing The Red Pyramid.

Unintentional bonus: I've been reading more, too!

Confession: I was a HUGE reader as a kid, but once I hit high school, I just didn't have time anymore. (The irony? I worked in a library from my Jr. year of high school until I graduated college. Oops.)

And truthfully, I've really missed it! Not to mention, I can totally feel justified buying those new tween books when I know I can let my kids read them (after me, of course!).

My kids were SO excited when I told them that I found a new Lemony Snicket book at Target! We started reading The Bad Beginning as our first read aloud of the year back in August. When we finished reading it and the kids realized that it was a whole series, they BEGGED me to read the next book, after that, they BEGGED me to read the book after that. We're now about halfway through book 5 in the series. I'm going to really have to pick up the pace if we're going to finish the series by the end of the year!

After I read the new Lemony Snicket (and Wonder, The Name of This Book is Secret, Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life, and Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Third Wheel), my kiddos were dying to get their hands on them. Since I had technically purchased them for my collection, I didn't want to turn them loose in the library. And since SO many kids wanted to read them, I didn't want to hand them out, (especially knowing that I would forget who I promised the book to next) so I made some super-cute sign up sheets.

I didn't post the sign up sheets until I had read all of the books (I did buy them for me, after all!), but man, those kids were chomping at the bit! The day I was ready to put them up, I told the kids that morning that they would be posted some time during the day (you know, to avoid stampede). While they were at lunch, I posted them on the closet doors, and then opened the doors so that the sheets would be hidden. When they came back, I didn't say a word-I thought it would be more fun if they found them themselves. Half of the class was at glee club, so I didn't have many kids in the room. Most of them were helping me grade, or reading, or talking quietly. One of the girls came up to me and said, "So you didn't remember to put the sheets up while we were at lunch, did you?" (I can be a little forgetful, you see.) I looked at her, put a quizzical expression on my face and said, "Or did I?"

She bolted off to the closet with a pencil and went to work. Another kid saw her over there and figured it out. Then, they ALL rushed over to the closet. Now, normally I don't condone running in the classroom, but if there was ever a reason to let students run across the room, that would be it.

No joke, you guys.

My shortest waiting list had 7 kids signed up. The longest? 17.

I have 20 kids in my class.

I know. I was amazed, too.

(P.S. If you're interested, these are now in my TpT store along with a simile activity that my kids really enjoyed!

Another thing that they're super excited about?

Getting postcards from the Middle School Postcard Exchange. You would think that I was bringing them candy. They get SO excited about getting postcards! We've gotten cards from Japan, Germany, Kansas, and West Virginia (I think it was West Virginia) so far and they are ecstatic about finally getting to write their own postcards.

Their excitement about these postcards brought up something that I need your help with.

My kids would LOVE to have pen pals!

Because I have some my class, I was hesitant, but I had them write me persuasive letters to convince me that it's a good idea.

Well, it worked.

You try to tell them no.

Anyone interested in being pen pals? I have 20 kiddos in my class, so I'd like to partner with a class at least that big so that all of my kids have a pen pal, but I'm not opposed to doubling up.

As a side note, I'm trying to get some extra technology for my classroom, and would LOVE to be able to Skype, but there's no guarantee that I'll be able to Skype, so there's that.

If you're interested, let me know! My kids would be giddy!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Well, hello there.

Hey guys!

Long time no see.


How's it going?

Apparently it's been about a month since my last post.

I can explain.

You see, I got MARRIED on October 7th.

See? Proof.

After that? 

We may or may not have spent a week in the Dominican Republic.

And there was that trip to the pumpkin patch with some friends.

Top that off with report cards and parent-teacher conferences, AND moving-I've been swamped!

Somewhere in there I squeezed in a shoot for a pretty awesome senior and her senior pictures.

Charlie says hi.

To sum up, I plan to get back on track. But, married life is pretty great, and I just haven't been horribly motivated to sit in front of my computer lately. I do have stuff to share. Especially about the wedding. 

Rain check?

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Product Swap! (And a Super-Quick Update)

Oh my goodness you guys. I haven't even read a blog post in over a week. It hurts me inside.

I miss you.

But all this wedding business has been keeping my crazy busy-but more on that later.

The real reason I'm writing this post is because a few months ago, when I wasn't crazy busy, I signed up for Jessica's product swap!

I was paired up with Ann Marie from Innovative Connections, and got to try out her Reading Adventures Pack from her Teachers Pay Teachers store!

Let me start off by saying that with all of the craziness this week, I wasn't able to find time to use these with my students. However, writing prompts of any kind are ALWAYS helpful-especially since I'm trying out Daily 5 this year! Especially with some students in particular, extra ideas are incredibly helpful!

Obviously, Step 1 was printing. Again, due to constrictions on time (and ink budget) I wasn't able to print out the whole file, because this puppy is HUGE! The pack that Ann Marie sent me was a combo pack that includes Part 1 and Part 2 of her individual writing task cards, and no joke, this thing is 62 pages long! That's a lot of writing. And printing. But mostly writing. :)

So anyway, I only ended up printing Part 1 for the time being, but that still gave me 36 task cards! (And there are a total of 72 cards in the full set!)

Not too shabby.

Next up was laminating. You know as much as I do how awesome these little laminators are. I just love that little guy.

So I loaded all of my sheets into pouches, fired up the ol' laminator, and got to work!

I must say, I was getting a little sleepy at this point in the evening, so I was heavily tempted to take a nap while my pages ran through.

Once the pages were all laminated, it was on to the cutting stage. I must say, I seriously enjoy cutting stuff. It's almost therapeutic for me. I know, I'm weird. No, I won't do all of your cutting for you.

And that's it! All cut out and ready to go- easy peasy.

Even better, I also found that Ann Marie included full page-sized versions of the first 36 cards. Why? So that you can display the writing prompts on your interactive whiteboards! Pretty smart, right?

And, to top it all off,  she included two different response sheets: one that's unlined with a border that matches the task cards, and one that's a bit more ink-friendly that's also lined. Both response sheets have a place for students to write their name, the task card number, the writing prompt, and their own writing.

This ought to keep my kiddos occupied for a LONG time! I plan on hole punching the corner of each card and putting them on a ring somewhere in the room so that they can easily access them if they need them. Or, I could split up the cards into smaller groups, put them on rings, and place the groups around the room...

Decisions, decisions.

Make sure you check out Ann Marie's TpT store-she has a TON of ELA resources for all grade levels!

And don't forget to follow her blog (click her blog button at the top to check it out)!

In other news, I've been running around like a chicken with its head cut off this week trying to get everything ready for the wedding Sunday. Biggest stressor? Preparing a week's worth of sub plans.

I've spent SO many hours standing at the copy machine this week. Yuck.

But, everything is ready to go, I've met with my sub, and Walter has a temporary weekend home thanks  to Teri.


As I'm writing is (at 9:40 on a Friday night) I have about half a bajillion things left to get done. Tomorrow (Saturday) we're setting up for the reception from 10-2, have the rehearsal at 5, and the rehearsal dinner at 6.

Um, I'm getting married-SUNDAY!


And did I mention that our ridiculously hot summer has now turned into a ridiculously cool fall?

A high in the 50s isn't exactly ideal for an outdoor wedding. Grr.

Anyway, I have a honeymoon to go pack for, and wedding details to finish up, so I'm going to call it a night! Hopefully once all of this madness has died down, I'll be back more regularly!

Enjoy your weekend!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Week 5

"I can't believe that we're already 4 weeks into the school year!

And tomorrow's Thursday! How the heck did that happen?!"

Ha! That's all that I managed to write when I started this post LAST THURSDAY. I mean, come on-it's not like any of us are busy around here!

4 weeks and 2 days into the new school year, and I've made some very important revelations:

1. This is exhausting. But you already knew that.

2. I am LOVING my new 'recommend a book' bulletin board! L-O-V-E it! I already have some very devoted contributors!

I love how this looks at the back of my room-totally makes me smile when I see it! (You can get the kit that I use from my TpT store)

3. I am IN LOVE with The Daily 5-and so are my kids! Seriously, I have kids come up to me EVERY morning and ask when we're going to do Read to Self. EVERY morning! And the kids that are asking aren't strong readers, but they're learning to love their reading time. It's amazing.

One Friday afternoon, we decided that we were going to shoot for our goal of 45 minutes of Read to Self. Previously, our record had been about 30 or so. The kids were so excited to try for 45.

So. Excited.

Check it out.

 And the only reason it wasn't longer, was because we had to go to lunch.

Today, I remembered that I have a bunch of whole class and small group sets of books sitting on my bookshelves, not being used. I pulled a copy of each book off of the shelves and showed them to the kids. We've done Read to Someone a couple of times, but the results haven't been the greatest. (When we read with our 2nd grade buddies once a week however, they are FABULOUS!) I've been really hesitant to do Read to Someone because I was really worried about off-task behaviors and general goofing off.


When I told them that they could pick out a book to read with a partner, you would have thought that I had told them that they had just won a $1000 shopping spree! They were SO excited to pick their books and get started!

I was convinced that it would all fall apart the minute they started to "read."

No joke, guys-it was one of the best, nope, probably THE best moment of my teaching career.

EVERY group was engaged and focused on their books-and these weren't easy books. I've got kids reading I Am Number FourThe Lightning ThiefInkheartWanted! (by Caroline Cooney), and several others.

One pair of girls had chosen Let the Circle Be Unbroken; they flagged me down as I observed the groups. "Ms. Ellison! This book is SO hard to read because the author uses words like 'ain't'-NOW I understand what you meant yesterday when you told us not to write the way we talk! It's SO hard to read!" "Yeah!" the other girl chimed in,"The author spelled 'nothing' n-u-t-h-i-n!"

Cue the hallelujah chorus.

Another pair was reading Zach's Lie and called me over. "At first Jack was talking about being on a plane, and now he's talking about something completely different! What's going on?!" I then explained to them that the italicized text was what Jack had written in his journal. "Oh! I get it!"

Another pair was reading a Dear America book about a girl on the Titanic. "What does 'consideration' mean?" I gave it to them in a sentence and asked what they thought it meant. "To think about something?" Got it!

I was so excited that I emailed my principal and had her come down and see-even she was impressed!

It was like Christmas!

Seriously AMAZING stuff here! I was so proud I could pop!

Check these out (Even Walter got in on the action!):

How awesome is that?!

I had only planned on having them read with a partner for 10-15 minutes (if you noticed, our record was less than 10), but they were doing such a PHENOMENAL job, that they read to someone for 27 minutes! It was glorious!

4. Class Dojo is awesome. But you already knew that.

5. Charlie is quite cute when bathed. Also, he seriously LOVES peas. Yeah, the little, green, round guys.

I know he's weird.

6. Only 19 more days until the wedding! Eek! I went to pick up my dress from the seamstress last Friday...and tried it on...and the zipper only went up halfway. Uh...not good. Thankfully, I didn't gain 20 pounds, she had just taken in the sides too far. Whew. The sides are being let out and I'm picking it up (again) on Friday.

Also, my awesome co-workers threw a shower for me and our secretary (who got married last weekend) last Monday! Check out the adorable new sign that Teri made for me-she knew I was going to have to replace the one that I made 2 summers ago and saved me the trouble of doing it myself!

Tomorrow, we're meeting with our photographer to go over the schedule for the day of the wedding as well as picking up our disc with the engagement pictures and copyright release. (Of course I'll be sharing more of them!)

Last Friday we also met with our DJ (which we only decided to book a week and a half ago-talk about waiting until the last minute!)! I have banned The Chicken Dance from the reception. Call me crazy, but I just don't feel like flapping and shaking my butt in my wedding dress. Also, country music has been limited to requests only. If you know me, you know I HATE country music with a burning passion. Yuck.

7. I. Love. Fall. So much.

Anyway, I'm going to TRY to start posting more regularly (I know I've said that about 5 times already this year), but it may not happen until after the wedding. All of this school, wedding, and moving stuff are a bit of a handful to balance!

Thanks for sticking in there with me!

Sunday, September 9, 2012


First off, only 28 days left until the wedding! Eek!

Last Thursday was my school's Open House. Me being me, I used Farley's Tags for Appreciation Gifts to make these cute bottles of Coke to sit out on my kiddos' desks. (Thanks to Matthew running to the school with the bottles and ribbon 20 minutes before the Open House started!)

LOVE them!

The classroom was all spruced up (thanks to a 30 minute divide-and-conquer cleaning spree by my students!), and Walter was ready to go!

I spent a few hours Wednesday night (while Matt and his dad played game after game of chess, and then watched the Democratic convention-did I mention that I'm not a big fan of politics?) creating these awesome sign up sheets that I had sitting out on my back table (and which are also available in my TpT store).

This post is going to be pretty photo-centric (since we just rented "The Five Year Engagement" and I should probably be watching it instead!).

I attempted a pumpkin muffin recipe today, but found them to be a little bland (if you know a good recipe, let me know!)

I'm also working on uploading a file to TpT with some button inserts that I made to go with those awesome buttons from the Dollar Spot at Target (since I FINALLY found some!), but TpT seems to be having some issues right now. :(

So without further ado, here are some more pictures of my room, muffins, and new buttons!

Have a happy Monday!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Bachelorette Party/Bridal Shower #1

The weekend before school started, my fantastic Maid of Honor organized a Bachelorette/Bridal Shower weekend.

The Matt and the guys took off to Chicago for the weekend to ride roller coasters at Six Flags, while the girls and I hung out here.

Ok, so this may come as a complete and total shock to you, but (brace yourself), I am in no way a partier.

Whew. Glad to get that one off my chest.

But seriously, I'm a bit of a homebody.

I'd rather be hanging around the house than doing much else.

So the typical bachelorette party that involves drinking and other wild festivities-not up my alley at all.

Well, my MOH took this into consideration and planned a PERFECT bachelorette party.

No, seriously.

For starters, the evening kicked off in sweat pants.

Oh yeah. Be jealous.

Then, we all got 30 minute private massages from a masseuse that came to the house.

Uh huh. It was awesome.

Then, she had someone drop off a meal that she had catered.

White chicken lasagna, garlic mashed potatoes, steamed broccoli, a delicious salad, and some fluffy rolls.

"Dessert?" you ask.

No big deal. It was just a delightfully gooey s'more concoction with some Nutella spiked chocolate milk.


It was wonderful.

(And I may have been in bed by 10:30)


Then for breakfast, we had a french toast bake ready to pop in the oven.


Following breakfast, were last minute preparations/ set-up for the shower.

My mom make an awesome pumpkin dip
 (which just so happened to be the perfect partner to Grandma's ginger snaps
Courtney did a fantastic job. She sent out recipe cards with the invitations, and asked people to bring the dish and the recipe card. We had a delicious assortment of goodies.

And the decorations matched the look of our wedding beautifully.
How cute is this?! She bought us Jenga and then had everyone write us messages on the blocks!

And my sister, being the baker that she is, created this delicious cupcake dress. Half of the cupcakes were pumpkin and the other were half butter pecan. Did I mention that she's making our wedding cake and the cupcakes for the wedding?

And of course, we opened presents. They spoiled us.

Oh, and the favors? They were bags of caramel marshmallow popcorn. And check out our wedding invitation? Adorable, right?

Not a bad way to spend the last weekend before the start of school, if you ask me!