Tuesday, October 1, 2013


Yay! It's October My favorite month of the year! Fall foods, fall weather, Halloween, pumpkins, apples, leaves changing - I love it all.

Bummer that none of it really happens in Arizona. And let's be honest, drinking apple cider and munching on pumpkin muffins is not the same when it's still in the upper 90s. Plus it's kind of hard for leaves to change colors when I mostly see palm trees and cacti around.

And P.S., burning a leaf scented candle is not the same either.

But no matter, I still October. Plus my class is going on a field trip to a farm in a few weeks to go pumpkin picking. I'm hoping it'll be at least a bit cooler so I can pretend that it feels like fall. 

Anyways, with a new month brings a new Currently. I have missed the last few but no way would I miss October!

Listening: Full House may or may not be one of my favorite shows. And lucky me, it's on every night for a few hours. I still laugh quite frequently.

Loving: That Fall Break is so so so close! We have a full day of school tomorrow. On Thursday, the kids go home at 11:15, but we have parent-teacher conferences until 7:00! But it's all good since on Friday, we can leave at 11:15. Then it's hello Fall Break!

Thinking: Bedtime soon! We have been taking standardized testing today and yesterday and it is so exhausting. 

Wanting: Some new cute and comfy flats. I have plenty of sandals and lots of boots, but not too many flats that I can actually stand wearing all day.

Needing: A massage. That would feel oh so wonderful!

Trick or Treat! A Treat - I'd highly recommend Bath and Body Works candles. They are so great. And sometimes they have a deal two for twenty, which is a stellar deal since they are normally twenty dollars for one! I snagged two at the last sale =)

Your turn! Go link up! 
Oh Boy Fourth Grade 

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Guest Blogging

I am guest blogging today at Teacher Mom of 3 today!

Go check it out to hear about how I keep my kids' voices down during small groups!

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Some Things I'm Loving

There is no tired like beginning of the year teacher tired. And of course, one of my little germ monsters adorable firsties got me sick already!

At eight days in.

Immune system, where were you?! You let me down. I even gave you extra vitamins!

Luckily, I seem to getting better with each passing day. Just a pesky cough and runny nose left.

Today, (a bit late to the party I know...)  I'm linking up with Katie from Katie Did What for her weekly Things I'm Loving series.

Kitchen Accessory: These ceramic pots. 

Evan and I purchased these after our wedding with some of our Kohl's giftcards and let me tell you - they are the best ever!! Nothing (and I mean nothing) sticks to them. Not even scrambled eggs!! They have a ceramic coating on them so food literally just slides right off. And there is no Teflon either so you don't have to worry about eating gross flaked off bits. If you are in the market for new pans, I'd definitely recommend them!

Clothing: Since it is still a million degrees in Phoenix right now, I am looking for ways to stay cool. For some unknown reason, people just do not wear shorts here. Like ever. Unless you are a teenager, small child, or working out. Even though it frequently is over 100 degrees. So I am looking for other ways to stay cool yet look work appropriate. I got these adorable shirts yesterday from Kohl's and American Eagle. 

Kohl's was having an awesome sale on LC Lauren Conrad line (which I adore). 65% off most of the stuff!! Say whattt?
So I got the white lace one and the blue beaded one for like $14 each?? The white one with the flowers was more but it was so cute and so sophisticated and I loved it. 

The black and white stripe one is from American Eagle, who is also having an amazing sale - 40% off everything AND free shipping if you order online. Seriously these sales should be illegal. But I am excited to have some breezy shirts to wear to work now. 

Restaurant: PF Changs. I feel like PF Changs is a place that I'm almost embarrassed to say that I love it as much as I do since it's so Americanized, but it is just so good! Evan and I went there for lunch yesterday - lunch specials, yay! - and this happened:
I didn't take that picture. Who has time to take pictures when something looking like that arrives at your place. The Great Wall of Chocolate. So good. So heavenly. So Chocolaty. And so unhealthy too.

Marlee Moment: It is no surprise that Mar Mar is mischievous. She has eaten too many things to count that dogs should not eat including palm berries, Legos, and socks to name a few. She also is sneaky. She will grab something and then trot away under the bed ever so stealthily. Evan and I were making breakfast and we emptied out an egg carton. I put it in our recycling and look who grabbed it out.
She was convinced it was for her! Her cuteness won of course and we ended up letting her play with it until she started to eat the cardboard. Then it mysteriously vanished, never to be seen again!

Back to School Activity: I love reading aloud to my kiddos. In fact, it was probably one of my most favorite things about teaching and here's why. Not only do I get to be overly dramatic when I read, I teach kids what is in our classroom library and that is how favorite books are found! I always read some Mo Willems and Pete the Cat books at the beginning of the year (crowd pleasers and teacher favorites). This year, I had my kids do an activity inspired by another blogger (if you know who, please let me know since I can't remember). We read Pete the Cat - I love my white shoes and then they got to color in a Pete the Cat and his shoes. Then we did a cut up sentence. The kids wrote the words and then I cut and mixed up the words. Then they glued them in the right order. They turned out so cute!! Plus a cut up sentence allows me to quickly assess students' writing/spelling abilities and their ability to reorder a mixed up sentence.

"I love my rainbow shoes."

"I love my purple shoes"
Seriously, how adorable!?!

Your turn! Go link up!

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Classroom 2013-2014!

I really though (and I mean REALLY thought) that setting up my classroom would be easier the second time around. Move a table here, put a bookcase there, bulletin borders up, school supplies away? Right?

WRONG! It took my forever to get my room just right. I think I spent four full work days slaving away - pushing furniture around, putting books away, stapling (and restapling) bulletin boards. However, I do love the layout a lot more than last year so that's a win right?

Anyways, here are some pictures!!
View from the front door - the listening center is off to the left and the whole group area is off to the right.

My classroom library. Right behind the library are the student computers - to avoid curious eyes from watching other students on the computers.

My small group area. I like being by the windows =)

Whole group area and Activboard (which is now working! Yay!)

School started on Wednesday and I love my kiddos already! I have a really great group of darlings, although I had forgotten how kindergarten-ish they still are! I'm used to my well-trained first grade-almost second graders and now I have to start all over again. But they really are sweet and pretty cute! And one of them is even from Milwaukee! I got pretty excited when I saw that on her paperwork! I currently have 26 kids on my roster but one hasn't shown. Even with a first grade position cut, I still started off with the same amount of little first grade friends as last year.

Here's to a happy and successful year!

Sunday, July 21, 2013

It's been awhile...

It's almost been a month since my last post!! But lots has happened since then...

1. I got married!!!
On July 6, I tied the knot with my wonderful new husband Evan. It was such a perfect day. Everything was so wonderful and I am sad that it's all over. We were blessed with great family and friends surrounding us that day as well as beautiful weather.

2. Honeymooning in Paris!!!
Evan and I spent a week in Paris on our honeymoon. It was truly a special, romantic, whirlwind honeymoon. I now understand why a lot of couples go to resorts where they can lay around all day and rest. But we had a blast! Especially since it was France's FĂȘte Nationale aka Bastille Days and this happened:
Amazing yes?

3. Back to Phoenix.
Boo on this one but I have SEI class next week and Evan has frogs to care for so it was kind of unavoidable.

4. Back to School...Soon.
School starts up on August 7 and I have a week of trainings and meetings and such beforehand. I'm excited to work in my room but not so much for hours of endless meetings. 

5. And I am now no longer a first year teacher! Woooo! Second year teacher over here! So in order to celebrate, I'm linking up with Latoya for her Let's Get Acquainted Linky Party!

So fresh from the mind of an old-new teacher, here we go!

Buy, beg, borrow and steal: Obviously, being a new teacher probably means that you don't have a lot of teacher things and supplies. But just because you don't have it, you don't necessarily have to buy it. Borrow it from someone who isn't using it/looking to give it a new home. Beg for things, "steal" ideas and make them yourselves. It's hard to look on Pinterest and see beautiful, perfectly matched classrooms with themes and coordinating library baskets. But that's ok. If I had been obsessed with matching things and making everything perfect, I probably wouldn't have had a paycheck for a month. My classroom definitely wasn't the cutest one on the block but it did its job.

Always remember why you chose teaching: So there were definitely many, many times where I would sit at my rainbow table, head in hands, asking out loud (to no one at all) what was I doing? Why did I pick this profession? It's too hard, annoying, difficult, time consuming, etc, etc. Then I would remember that I am a teacher because I want to help kids learn so they can go to college and be successful. And sometimes that would get me through the tough times (and when that didn't work, a martini or ice cream was a pretty good second option!). You can't forget why you are a teacher or else you'll get sucked into Doomsville USA.

Never stay too late: You've heard of some teachers being the first to arrive and the last to leave, but that's just not a feasible option. We're human. We need down time, time spent with family and friends and pets, time to rest, time to shop, time for you. And if you are always staying at school until 6:00 or 7:00, spend 30 minutes driving home, and then you have to make dinner and probably do more things for school, only to fall asleep at 9:00. I stayed at school late for the first few months or so of school, but once I got a better handle on things, I made it my goal to leave at 5:00. And then 4:30. And then 4:00. And I was much happier leaving at 4:00 than leaving at 6:00.

Find some great teacher friends: It's so important to develop a good support system at school. It's so much harder when you don't click with anyone. You have no one to cry to or talk to or snag ideas from. It can be hard to put yourself out there, but be friendly, polite, and kind to everyone! 

Make copies a week in advance: I used to make copies every morning. And every morning, there would be a line at the copiers. Especially since our copiers are very old and often one or both of them are broken. So I started making all my copies on Friday afternoon. Is it fun to be staying later on Fridays making copies? Nope.
But it makes the whole next week go so much smoother. Everything is all done and ready to go. 

Be true to yourself: Last year, I found myself and my opinions of things being easily swayed by other teachers. I felt that since they had so much more experience, education, years, etc. that they much have been right since I had just started off. But I finally realized that my education and my experiences were valid, worthwhile, and had truth to them. I remembered what I learned and what I felt was best for my kids and began to do things the way I felt would be best beneficial for my kids. I am still always open to new ideas and am willing to try new things, but I can also recognize when something just isn't me. 

Overall, your first year is hard. I can't even tell you how many people told me it'll get better next year. So here's hoping!

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Some Things I'm Lovinnnnnn'

Today I am linking up with Katie over at Katie Did What for her Saturday series linky party.
Fiesta Bridal Shower!

Sooooooo....some things I am loving:

Parties: Last weekend was my wonderful fiesta-themed bridal shower and today was a dear friend's graduation party. I love catching up with people that I haven't seen in awhile. 

TV Show: So it's probably super silly, but one of my favorite things to do on a day off is snuggle under a blanket and watch Price Is Right. Basically it's not a sick/holiday/vacation day unless you watch PIR. I am so bad at the games though but my sister is so good. When we were younger, it was the highlight of a sick day to watch PIR. So needless to say, I have watched it every day this week.

Store: Etsy. I have ordered/looked for inspiration from Etsy so much in the wedding planning process. I ordered our guest book, and the bridesmaids gifts from Etsy and I am so pleased at what I've got. It's all so adorable! PS I just made chiffon flowers to wear in my wedding, and I semi-contemplating quitting my job to open a full-time Etsy shop (and by semi-contemplating, I mean wishful thinking).

Food: So I have been to two parties from this past Saturday to today and I have eaten way too much delicious food. But one thing that is, of course, at all parties is sheet cake. Like the big cakes you get from grocery stores that are one layer. Now, I love sheet cake. Almost more than any other cake, even homemade cake. If my parents hadn't insisted, I totally would have gotten sheet cake for my wedding. Something about it is just different than other cakes. And I love it!

Drink: So even though it is summertime, I am obsessed with drinking hot tea every morning. It's almost my favorite thing about the morning. And my dad is a tea-making guru. Basically, he makes the best tea. And it's soooo good. It's this tea that we accidentally discover when we were in Alaska two summers ago. It has a distinct flavor that is both sweet and savory and really hard to describe. But it's the best tea ever. The end. 

Makeup: Part of my favorite thing about not working is not wearing makeup. It's nice to let my face be free, especially since the wedding seems to be causing major breakouts. But one thing I must do is wear nail polish on my toes since I almost always wear sandals in the summer. And I love my signature color of neon pink. It's by Sinful Collections, it's like $3, and I think it's called 24/7. It's so bright, and it's a big pop of color for drab and dreary days. It's basically my fav and the only color I wear on my toes.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Friday Letters

So one of my new favorite bloggers Katie over at Katie Did What does something called Friday Letters. So I'm taking a page from the book of Katie today.

Friday Letters

Dear Jillian Michaels, You are a beast. The 30 Day Shred is no joke. But you make me laugh with the things you say during the workouts.
My favorite?: 
JM: The neck is not invited to the party - just the abs!

Dear Wedding Planning, Yikes you are exhausting and are too...something for someone like me. But we only have 15 days left of our relationship and then you and I are done.

Dear Wisconsin Weather, So in case you missed it, Phoenix is almost always sunny and cozy. So all of this chilly weather and rain and clouds and doom and gloom? No thank you. You better shape up for July 6. 

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

June Happenings

A lot has happened since my last post at then beginning of June.

Summer School
I taught a week of summer school for second graders going into third grade that focused solely on math, specifically mental math and math strategies. Which is hard for me since upon teaching summer school, I realized I don't have many mental math strategies. I always do the standard algorithm in my head and I just assumed that everyone did that. 
Hardly anyone does that. 
News to me.

Everyone has these super clever strategies that involve rounding, compensating, estimating, etc. 

I still like the standard algorithm though and will probably continue with it because I tried to use other strategies. Really tried. But I always got stuck somewhere in my head when using a clever strategy. 

But anyways, it was hard for me to teach mental math because I don't really do it the way we're supposed to be teaching kids. But we started off doing a mental math problem every day to get the kids' brains working. They would solve the problem in their head and then talk about how they solved it/the strategies they used with a friend. 
These two girls are discussing the strategies they used to solve the problem. Which sounds tricky. But the kids actually did a great job explaining what they did in their heads to get the answer. Obviously, first graders would need a lot more scaffolding to be able to successfully share. Because my kids' favorite strategy was "I did it in my head."

Then we would make a list with the strategies they used, starting with the most basic and going to the most sophisticated. The kiddos would then record their thinking in their math journals.

Next was a minilesson where we taught the kiddos some more strategies they could use besides counting on, which was by far the most popular (but least sophisticated) strategy. We taught them about making tens, doubles, and tens frames. The students would have time to practice the new strategies with the teacher, with partners, and independently.
Here we are working with part-part-whole mats and manipulating the cubes to make groups of tens.

We also made posters that we hung up around the room for the kids to look back to whenever they needed.

Last, we ended the day with centers that reinforced these skills. The kids loved centers since they were playing games and having fun.

All of that happened in the mornings. In the afternoons, the teachers had PD about how to teach math so it was more meaningful for students. We then took our new learnings and planned for the following day. I learned a lot from teaching summer school and I am super excited to take a lot so much of it back to first grade. Things that I definitely am going to incorporate are math journals, mental math time, and a math strategies/vocab wall. 

Phoenix --> Milwaukee
I also returned to Milwaukee on a red eye flight. Which was, of course, delayed. It wouldn't have been too bad except with the time change, I didn't arrive until 1:30 or something? Thankfully, I have wonderful parents who came to get me even though it was super late at night. Plus I feel bad about leaving Evan and Marlee. But with less than a month to go before wedding day, someone has to get this planning going. 

Thankfully, Pinterest and Etsy have been amazing resources. What would I do without them? Here are some of my ideas/inspiration.
From Pinterest: Here

From Pinterest: Here

Etsy: Here

Ampersand: TJ Maxx

From Pinterest: Here

Busy days for sure! 

Saturday, June 1, 2013

June Already?!

Ahhhh, the sweet sounds of summer vacation! I have officially been on break for one week, and it is glorious. Short lived though since I am doing summer school next week and then heading back to Wisconsin where the real work will began aka getting this wedding all set.

But since it is June, that means Currently!

Listening: When Monk was still making new episodes, my family and I would watch them together. Brings back some good memories...

Loving: That I am on summer vacation. Although I still feel like I should be doing something school-related. So much so that I started making library labels for my books. It's a big job since Microsoft Word doesn't seem to like cooperating with me and the label template. But I'm making it work.

Thinking: We have a busy day tomorrow. We are going to look at (and hopefully purchase) Evan's wedding ring tomorrow. I already have mine since it came as a set, but he needs one. And since we are getting married in 35 days, we better get a move on with that. And we have to go to Target to get a few things too and this apartment won't clean itself which leads into...

Wanting: I really don't know how so much dust accumulates in one apartment. And I hate dusting. And since it's so much hotter now (it reached 108 today!), we have so much more laundry!

Needing: I feel like I say this every time, but this time I mean it! I really need a massage. My neck and back are killing me beyond belief. And I have to get a move on wedding planning. Luckily, a lot of the big things are done, it's just the little details left.

Vacay Essentials: My parents love to travel and they took my sister and me on wonderful trips. And usually beach lounging was not on the agenda. So my essentials are items that are more for the journey and city trips. First, gotta have a good book to get through long plane rides. And ideally, I take a book that I don't want to bring home so I can leave it somewhere for someone else to read. Then I feel less guilty buying new ones! Second is a travel buddy. When I studied abroad in Australia, I didn't know anyone very well so I spent a lot of time traveling and exploring the city alone. And although I enjoyed parts of that (doing exactly what I wanted), it definitely got lonely at times. So traveling with friends/family/someone is an essential for me! And lastly, a cross body bag. I hate carrying purses and I find them cumbersome when shopping or taking the subway.

Happy Weekend!

Monday, May 27, 2013

Next School Year...

So I have officially survived my first year of teaching!! And I didn't jump out of a window or drive off the Grand Canyon! 


But is it sad that I am already thinking about next year?? I can't help it. I mean, this year went really well overall, but there are some things I definitely want to change for next year. Lucky for me, Kim at Finding Joy in 6th Grade is having the perfect linky party - What Will You Do Differently?

I was definitely too sweet with my kids at the beginning of the year. Luckily, I had an amazing class so it wasn't too detrimental, but I might not be as lucky next time. So I need to toughen up right away and let them know that there are consequences to sad choices.

I still can't get over how much paper accumulates over the course of a day. So. Much. Paper. All. The. Time. Before school ended, I tried to get my filing cabinet somewhat organized and I have gotten a ton of plastic paper trays to help combat the paper monster. I also need to recycle things that I don't need right away too instead of stacking it up somewhere in case I "might" need it later.

Fluency is a big deal in Arizona. In fact, a new law was recently passed that if a 3rd grade student is falling far below for fluency/RCBM, that student will automatically be retained. Just like that. Parents and teachers have no control over it. So it's really important that my students make their fluency goals so they have an easier time reaching fluency goals in the later grades. Fluency at my school is a struggle for kids. Only 8 of my 21 students achieved their fluency goals and I had the most growth in first grade!! Not too hot at all.
So right away, fluency is going to be a huge focus of mine. I've got some ideas mulling in my head so hopefully it will help out my kiddos!

I was a lot better with math journals in the beginning of the year, but as the year continued on, we did them less and less until never using them. Next year, I want to do them (ideally) daily, but at least a few times per week. I've got some great resources from TPT that I am planning on putting to use.

What will you do differently next year?!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Classroom Library Organization {Part 1}

I have a confession. I, Liz, am a children's book-aholic. I don't really know how it happened. Well actually I do.

Ever since I got into the School of Education and saw my first practicum teacher's beautiful book collection, I knew that I had to start finding and collecting quality books for my future students' library.

So I began to scour library book sales, my old books, thrift stores, and basically anywhere else to start finding awesome books. I never paid more than $1 per book (unless it was a truly special/favorite book of mine) and my collection began to grow and grow.

I am really proud of my classroom library, Suzy, especially being a first year teacher. I can thank my cooperating teacher for showing me the huge importance of having an extensive classroom library. She was on the committee for picking the Charlotte Zolotow (I think that was the one...?) award winner and she got heaps of books to review. I learned a lot about high quality lit from her.

Now the problem with having an extensive library is how to organize it. Suzy didn't really organize her books for the kids. She just had assorted books in various tubs and each kid would take one tub and be able to read a huge assortment. Books that were not out for looking at were alphabetized by author in a cabinet. I knew that I wanted some more organization, mainly so I could find books quickly when I needed them.

This year, I did book colors. Each book had some colored dots on the black that matched a genre tub. Yeah, didn't really work well. It was difficult for the kids to put away and books were often not in the appropriate bins. So yesterday, we scraped (and by we I mean my kids) off all the dots.

Next year, I want to do sticker labels that I've seem on other teachers' blogs. It seems like it's a much better way to find and categorize books plus it seems easier for kids match the sticker label with a picture and words to the right bin than a color. 

Look how sad my room looks! It is getting so empty! I haven't gotten that far yet, but I did sort and box up my books by category. Basically, my room was a hot mess after school since I wanted to create more categories for my books. For example, instead of having an animals bin, I want to have more specific animal bins. Like dogs, cats, bears, etc. Instead of having a blanket non-fiction bin, I broke that up and matched by category so students will find mixtures of fiction and non-fiction in the bin about dogs. 

 Yikes, it was such a chore. Thankfully, all the books (with the exception of the books that fell in the sad box called Random Books) now have a home and a new category and have been neatly put away in the closet for the summer since my room is getting painted (and the LAST thing I want is for my books to get all painty!!)

I will also need to get more bins and baskets too but I'll cross that bridge when I get there. Plus all the labeling and stickering of the books. Yikes, I am tired just thinking about it. It truly is a labor of love, but so worth it. I love seeing my kids get excited to read books that I read to them already or see them, especially my lower friends, reading books for fun that they picked.. When we were picking off the color labels and sorting together, kids kept coming saying "Remember when we read this book?!" or "I loved this book!", Music to a teacher's ears. 

But I only have two more days of school (both of them being short days too!!) until summer. Then I start summer school in a week and then head home to get everything in order for the wedding!

Happy last days of school!

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Weekend - Scholastic Warehouse Sale

I don't know about anyone else, but did this past week seem to drag on and on forever??? Needless to say, I am so glad it is Saturday! 

Evan is away on a conference near Boston until Wednesday (he left this past Wednesday at the crack of dawn) so it's just me and this cute face until then.

We have spent a lot of quality time cuddling and spending time at the dog park. We both love the dog park. Marlee loves it because she gets to run and play with lots of other dogs. I love it because it wears her out and I get more sleep. 

Corina at Surfin through Second blogged about the Scholastic Warehouse sale that she went to last weekend and that's where I went too!!

From what I gathered, the book sale happens a few times a year and I noticed that almost all of the products I had seen earlier at our school book fair (which I think was two weeks ago but I don't really remember...?). Anyways, everything was 50-80%, which was awesome! It was really difficult to not throw everything into my bag. Especially YA fiction. Even though I'm too (technically) too adult for YA fiction, I think I will always love it. I didn't get any though.

There are aisles and aisles of books - all sorted - plus they had some novelty school supplies and adult books too. 

I tried to really limit myself with the fiction books, but I got a few of my favorites plus some non-fiction books and three adult books for me. Marlee, of course, was oh so interested in them. Actually, after I restacked them, she proceeded to lay down on them. Silly dog!

And I was super pumped to see that What does the X-Ray say book was written by second graders at Longfellow Elementary School in West Allis, Wisconsin, which is super close to my house! So of course I had to get that one!!

Tomorrow is just housework and cleaning and some school stuff. I was able to get report cards finished today and my awards for the awards ceremony on Monday. Hopefully I remember to take pictures of that!!

Happy Weekend!