Wednesday, May 30, 2012

New look, new resource!

Ok, I know that I promised a freebie when I hit 50 followers, but, well, it took A LOT longer than I thought to finish it up.

And I mean A LOT longer.

And it certainly doesn't help that I'm a perfectionist and spent a insane amount of time moving text boxes around the page-and not big moves, mind you, teeny tiny, minuscule nudges around the page.

I know, I'm ridiculous.

Of course, it didn't help that halfway through my awesome resource (see how I'm building suspense?) I got momentarily distracted inspired and ended up redesigning my entire blog.

Oh yeah, I made this from scratch. By myself. Google helped out, too.

No more generic template for this girl-my blog now has a one-of-a-kind design. And I love it. (Can you tell?!?!)

Wouldn't you know, my freebie that I made just for you is pretty darn awesome, too! (Not that I'm going to tell you what it is yet. Suspense. Duh.)

Charlie and I had a lovely walk this morning-it was nice and cool, the birds were chirping, he barked at every dog in the neighborhood (and the nice old man that was just trying to say "Hello").

This afternoon while I was creating, Charlie took a nap. I'm pretty sure this dog should be named "Pretzel"-I really have no idea how he gets himself into some of his crazy positions. Stranger yet, he actually sleeps while contorted. Weirdo.

This position doesn't actually look all that weird at first. But then you realize that there's something crazy going on with those front paws. And the dangling leg. He's just too cute for his own good.

Anywho--I know you're just DYING to know what I've cooked up for my 50 Follower Freebie! So without further ado, may I present to you...

The Laura Ellison
Independent Reading Journal of Awesomeness!!!!!
(What? Too much?)

You get:
  • 4 color covers (with a super cute chevron background
  • 2 black and white covers (one with chevrons, one without)
  • A journal checklist
  • Book Fact Sheet
  • Daily reading log
  • Character Portrait
  • Setting Snapshot
  • Point of View Postcard
  • Book Review
  • Journal completion/scoring sheet
  • 2 Daily Journal pages (4 designs)

Basically, your kids can use this with any book that they're reading independently. Consider alternative book report. And, it's an easy way for you to hold them accountable for their independent reading. 

On the daily reading log, they can log how long they read and how many pages they read. After the finish reading, they fill out (half) a journal page. Because there are two entries on a page. In their journal entry, they write a short summary of what they read that day, and then make a connection to the text (which is GREAT practice for those pesky extended response questions!). 

There is a TON of fun stuff in this set! Seriously, I am in LOVE with it! 

Since you were one of my first 50 57 followers, you get it for free!!! Yay, you!!!

You better hurry and download it, because it won't be free forever! It'll be $3.00 in my TpT store starting Saturday, so spread the word! It's too late for this freebie, but you can still get buy it in my TpT store!

Enjoy your evening!

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Whew! Who turned up the heat?!?!

Ok. For starters, it is NOT supposed to be 98 with a heat index of 103 in May. Or ever, for that matter. But definitely not in May.

How am I supposed to keep my flowers alive if it's going to be this hot this soon?!?!

And how will I survive in my non-air-conditioned classroom in August if this craziness keeps up?!?!

Needless to say, very little of my day was spent in the great outdoors. Went to church, had some Panera for lunch (yum!), stalked caught up on a few blogs, took Charlie to PetSmart to get his talons claws trimmed, cooked out with Matthew's parents, parked back at my computer and listened to some tunes.

Pretty uneventful.

Except for Charlie's trip to PetSmart.

We got Charlie from the animal shelter a few years ago. We don't really know anything about his past (though we've heard a rumor that he lived on a farm for a while), but he's got some issues. Don't get me wrong, he's the sweetest dog ever. Super cuddler. (Is that a word? It should be.)

But yeah, issues.

When he meets someone new, he FREAKS out. Like howling, barking, cowering, you name it. And don't even THINK about trying to pet him--he'll pee on you. He's not agressive; I've never seen him even think about biting someone (Ok, there was that one time when he nipped at me, but in his defense, I was trying to put a sweater on him. And he wasn't going for blood. He just didn't want to wear that sweater.) Give him 20 minutes to get used to the idea of you, and he'll be curled up on your lap, sound asleep.

Needless to say, a trip to PetSmart is always interesting. First of all, I doubt that any dog enjoys getting his nails trimmed, add in Charlie's issues, and you're in for a wild ride.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

It's SUMMER!!! Woo hoo!!!


No seriously. Whoa.

Thanks to Lindsay at My Life as a Fifth Grade Teacher for giving my blog a shout out in her last post! My followers have more than TRIPLED in the last couple of days! SO EXCITING!!!

And, it's SUMMER!

Ahhhh. I feel more relaxed already.

So it's been about 5 6 days since my last post, and I've missed you! (Yes, you!)

Man, the last few days of school were a big ol' bowl of craziness.

Let's start with Monday.

Sunday, May 20, 2012


Am I the only one who can't focus without music? I've been planning on blogging all afternoon, but until I get some music playing, I'm so distracted! I check Facebook, I check Pinterest, Yahoo, read blogs, check Facebook and Pinterest again; I am in no way productive. Heck, I tried listening to music on my computer and it was distracting me. Ok, I have a record on now. I should be able to focus now.

 (Yeah, I said a record. I have a record collection because I'm cool like that. Charlie, however, decided that he wanted to try one out as a snack the other night. Not cool. )

I feel like I need to make an outline for this post, I have so much that I want to talk about!

Laura's Blog Post Outline

  1. End of the year motivators
  2. Memory books/advice to next year's class
  3. Character trait word clouds
  4. Update on classroom organization
  5. Preparing for next year (already!)
  6. A really awesome website (for next year)

Whew! That's quite the list--let's get this started!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Can it be? Only 6 more days!

Since my last post was long and rambling, I'm going to do my best to keep this short.

I'll try.

But I can't make any promises.

Once I get going, it's hard to stop.

As our last class novel of the year, we've been reading Zach's Lie (which the kids LOVE). In the book, the main character is put into the Witness Protection Program because his dad got caught up in a drug cartel. One of the key elements of the story is the journals that the main character keeps.

After the back to school sales in the fall, I managed to pick up some cheap composition notebooks for $0.15/each. Really good deal. I love clearance. I had no idea what I was going to use them for at the time, but the deal was too good to pass up, and I bought about 30.

When we started reading Zach's Lie, it occurred to me that journaling would be a great extension activity for the book (and would get some use out of those notebooks I had sitting on a shelf). So I made cute labels with each kid's name, and handed them out. The only condition that I put on the journals was that they had to write one page per day. I don't care what they write about and they can request that I not read their entries and just glance to make sure that they did it.

Monday, May 14, 2012

A totally scatter-brained post

Let me apologize ahead of time in case this post is slightly incoherent. I'm watching the Lakers/Thunder game, and the Lakers are getting destroyed. Not cool. Fingers crossed that things start turning around soon.

Anyway, I thought that my post today would be photo-centric. I mean, who doesn't like pictures. I like pictures. Surely you must like pictures. So, my dear 5 followers, today you get pictures to look at.

So, I don't know about your kids, my mine are getting a serious case of summervacationitis. It's a highly contagious infection that quickly spreads through your classroom, causing bouts of daydreaming, frustration, agitation, and desk drumming. The only remedy I've found so far has been a small dose of extra recess at the end of the day. I write "Extra Recess" on the back board, and erase a letter each time the class is too loud or off task. If they have any letters left at the end of the day, we go outside. If the letters are all gone, we stay in.

Me being me, and having the need to make things pretty...well, I might get a little carried away.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Only *8* more days!!!

I can't believe that we only have 8 more student days left in the school year (plus an extra day for report cards, but I don't have to write lesson plans for that)! This year has just flown by. I remember thinking in August, "This is going to be the first school year, in the history of schools, that will actually never end." Now here we are in May, and there is an end in sight--crazy!

One of my goals for next year is to (finally) get organized. In my defense, I'm doing way better than last year. (I actually forgot to turn in my kiddos' spring picture money because my desk ate it. And, I didn't realize it until the orders came in, and my students wanted to know where their pictures were. I then panicked and fled to the office, hoping that by some miracle, the photographer would be able to still get them their prints. Not my finest moment. But, the kids did get their pictures. And I did not lose the picture money this year. Lesson learned). Despite the fact that I'm doing better and can typically see my desk at least once a week, I have a long way to go. For example, this is what my desk looked like around 3:00 on Friday:

Yeah, not good.

I did at least uncover a small area before I left.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Urgh. Can't we just go with the program?!

So I had a sub yesterday while I took a required observation day for our district's mentoring program.

I hate having subs.

Don't get me wrong, we have some amazing subs in our building, but the fact of the matter is that our students don't tend to be the most...what's the unfamiliar authority figures. In fact, they can be downright awful to subs. Because of that, we only have a couple of really good subs, and then we get subs that think it's a quick and easy way to make a buck--not because they have any interest in teaching.

I love my kiddos, I really do, but I dread leaving them with a sub. It's a total Jekyll and Hyde transformation. They're fine with me and a couple of our regular subs, but if they have someone that they don't know, look out. This goes way beyond tricking the sub into letting you go to recess a couple minutes early--they're loud, running around the room, defiant, and disrespectful--some students apparently even refused to tell the sub their names, so she couldn't write referrals.

I knew ahead of time that I was going to be gone, so I had prepared my students for a week in advance. We went over and over what would be appropriate behavior, how I knew they could do an awesome job, how I wanted them to make me proud, etc. On Tuesday, we created a list of goals to make sure that we had an awesome end of the school year (which I posted on my last post), I bribed, I threatened consequences, you name it.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Free end of the year poster!

I told Matthew that I was just going to finish uploading a file to TpT and then I would get off of the computer, but I really wanted to share my newest resource with you! It's free for now, but will be $1 in a couple of days.


Sunday, May 6, 2012

So. Many. Freebies.

I set aside some time tonight to attack the big Teacher Appreciation Jackpot that a bunch of teachers are participating in. I knew there would be some awesome freebies, but seriously, I've spent the last 2-3 hours downloading like a crazy person. No, seriously, I've downloaded 136 files onto my poor MacBook tonight, and the only reason that number isn't higher is because I had to cut myself off (so I could blog, and because I missed the entire Lakers game because I was too busy downloading--they won, so it's ok). If you haven't taken advantage of these freebies--DO IT!

In other news, Matthew and I had planned to continue on in our yard work adventures today, but it was just  too hot! Temperatures in the 90s in early May is not ok in my book. So instead, we went and saw The Avengers, in a nice, air-conditioned theater (because his air conditioning is currently not working-boo). Even though we didn't really make any additional progress today, I did remember to take those "after" pictures that I promised yesterday. Hopefully we'll be able to finish up tackling the backyard this week (and the air conditioning gets fixed-I'm breaking a sweat just typing!).

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Spring Planting

Today Matthew and I decided to tackle some long overdue yard work. Around 2:00, we went to Walmart to pick up plants and then hit Rural King to grab some potting soil (since I completely forgot it while at Walmart) and a couple bushes.

So here's the deal. I love planting flowers. Each year I load up my cart full of bright and colorful plants and set off to make the house beautiful. Which it is for a few weeks. The problem is, I never really developed a green thumb. Mine is probably closer to...brown. I am awful when it comes to actually watering and trimming plants. And so, after a few weeks, they're all brown and shriveled up.

But not this year. I have every intention of having my plants actually survive the summer. Matthew and I spent the entire afternoon mulching leaves, pulling weeks, planting flowers, and laying mulch. Oh, and I made a super cute planter. More on that tomorrow.

Granted, every year I say that I'll do better, but this year I think I might really mean it! As Matthew pointed out on the way back from Rural King, "You have the summer off. It's not like you really have anything to do, other than keep the plants alive." So, that is my goal. Keep the plants alive.

Friday, May 4, 2012

I survived...

Yesterday was the long awaited 6th grade class trip to St. Louis to the Cardinals game!

A couple tidbits to put this into context:

  • I am a night owl, not an early bird.
  • Baseball is far to slow-paced to keep my attention.
So the plan was for the (charter) bus to pull out bright and early at 6:00. Yup, 6:00 AM. Remember, I am so not a morning person. But obviously, that didn't mean that I had to be at the school at 6:00, that's when the bus was pulling out. So my trusty alarms (my iPhone and iPad) were set for 4:30 and 4:45, respectively. Let me start out by saying, I'm a big time snoozer, so I set my iPhone for 4:30 so that I could get those precious snooze minutes that make me feel like I'm getting to sleep later. And because I'm incredibly paranoid that my dear technology will fail to wake me, I always have a backup alarm, just in case. 

Wednesday, May 2, 2012


Michelle over at The 3AM Teacher is having a giveaway-she has some great graphics (and lots of freebies) for you to use in your classroom!


Keeping it Short and Sweet

I don't know about you, but I only have 16 school days left before summer vacation! As we all know, things are crazy this time of year. For example, yesterday I found out after school that I was going to get a new student today. Yup, that's right, a new student with 17 school days left in the year. So I scurried around my room yesterday afternoon, trying to figure out which group I could add my new student to so as to not disturb the careful balance that I had established with my seating arrangement.