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Monday, December 1, 2014

December Currently

I know that it has been a while since I have blogged.  No excuses, just really busy.  I could give you a screen shot of my October and November calendar, but I think it would leave you hyperventilating into a paper bag (which is how I spent much of October and November)!

A nice way to ease back into blogging is to link up with Farley for December Currently.

I love this station the most on my Pandora!  It gives me Adele, the Pitch Perfect soundtrack, and my other eclectic music loves.

I don't care how busy I am, I am taking more time to read for pleasure!  I recently finished Mockingjay for the second time so I was all set for the movie.

A week off gave me lots of time to organize the next three weeks.  I really thought about how to plan out everything that I needed to do.  Okay, so I didn't do the one load of laundry, but I swear everything else got done!

I bought lights but they were the really bright LED lights.  I don't know about you, but they are blinding!  I like soft warm lights.  I exchanged them, but haven't put the new set on yet.

My youngest turns 8 on December 7th (a date which will live in infamy).  I get so caught up in planning for the holiday, that her birthday always sneaks up on me!

My oldest daughter has decided to give up birthday presents the last two years in favor of having her friends bring new pajamas which will be donated.  The girl has collected about 40-50 pairs of pj's.  She plans to donate them to The Pajama Program.  You can read about the organization here.  So proud of her!

Don't forget about the TpT Cyber Sale!  I finally broke down and bought the license for all of the KG fonts.  I plan on using the credits from that to pick up some other goodies!

Monday, September 15, 2014

New Look!

Okay, so raise your hand if you've ever had blog envy.
C'mon be honest.
Yeah, you there in the back - is your hand raised?

Well, I have!  I see these beautiful, simple yet well-designed blogs and I want one for myself!  However, I am not a big time blogger and I don't want to pay a designer to do it for me.  Some may call it cheap, I call it being thrifty!  So my big project this summer (and yes, it took most of the summer), was to design my own blog.  I took it step by step.

Here is the new and improved Reading Is Elementary!

My first step was to choose a color scheme.  I don't know if I have mentioned this before, but my favorite color is brown.  I knew that I wanted to have brown be the focus of color for the blog.  If you just type in color schemes into Pinterest, you will see so many choices, it will knock your socks off.  Here is a link to my Pinterest board on all of the color schemes I looked at.  Here was my winner:
This was the start.  I loved the combination of bright colors with the brown and stone colors.

Then I went and read my Bloglovin feed and perused through so many different blogs to get an idea of what I liked and what I didn't like.  I love the simplicity of some of the latest designs, so I knew that was the style that I was going for.

Next, Google became my best friend!  I would literally type into my search engine, "How do I bring my header down from the top of my blog?"  I would research every little thing I wanted step by step.  Then I would try it out on the test blog that I have that is not view-able to the public.  I wrote down every step that I did with links to websites and videos that I used.  I remember how the hubs teased me because I got so excited when I figured out how to round the corners of the top of my blog!  I believe his exact words were, "Whew, now I can sleep.  That was keeping me up nights!"  Mr. Comedian!

Then right before school started, I finished!  I have been so busy that I didn't have time to put the whole thing together in one sitting.  Then, I didn't care anymore and big, fat did it anyway!  I started on Saturday and then stopped to go to a softball game and then a football game.  Came home and finished up.

I still have some finishing touches.  For some reason, the same code that worked on my test blog for my signature post and post divider is not working on my real blog.  That has me stumped!  I will, however, persevere and not give up!  

All that hard work.  I think it is something to celebrate, don't you?  My store will be 20% off until Wednesday to celebrate!  I am excited and exhausted!  I am proud and a little ashamed that I know so much about HTML and CSS codes now!

Thanks for stopping by!

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Sunday Letters

I have been reading this gal's blog pretty much since the beginning, and I think she is wonderful.  I am linking up with Michelle at Big Time Literacy this week for the first time with this incredible creative linky.  It's called:

So let's get started!

Dear September,
In the past, you have always kind of hit me like a Mack Truck.  With all of the testing that is needed before I get my program up and running, to the hectic schedules that both of my daughters have, you always keep my struggling to catch up!  I feel like this year I am ready for you.  This has me a little concerned that you may have something else up your sleeve.  Please take it easy on me if you can.
Anxiously Awaiting,

Dear Fellow Cheer Coaches,
I have had so much fun with you all and our squad of 16 second graders so far this year.  I am by far convinced that we have the cutest batch of little "Bears" around!  Thanks for making this experience so much fun!
Let's go Bears!

Dear Theo James (the actor),
I loved the way you played the character Four in Divergent, and I am looking forward to seeing the rest of the trilogy.  I now want to see pretty much everything you have ever acted in.  It also doesn't hurt that you are easy on the eyes.  You sing, dance, and have a great sense of humor.  My kind of guy!
Your stalker (but not in a bad way),

Dear Hubby,
Thank you for being understanding with this crazy fall schedule that we always seem to have.  Thank you for understanding when the dishes aren't done or I am behind on laundry (let's face it, that is all the time).  If we have a dirty house and happy family, I am okay with that!

Dear Lilah,
You have been with our family since December and I have since come to understand that I am your favorite person in the house.  I understand that you will follow me everywhere around the house, lay right outside the door when I am in the bathroom, and constantly try to sit in my lap.  I love you too, but you could sometimes love on someone else don't change a thing!
Your Mama

This is so fun!  Thanks Michelle for these great reflections on the week!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Blasting Off To a Great Year!

You made it!  This is the last stop for . . . . . . . . .
I know that you have all heard the saying, "A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words."  This can literally be true when you work with children.  One of my duties is to push into our kindergarten classrooms at the beginning of the year.  I help the teachers start to establish some of the elements of Daily 5.  

Right away, we talk about how reading is so important.  I speak for about 10 seconds before a little one blurts out kindly informs me that they don't know how to read.  Are you nodding your heads?  Has this happened to you?

If you are familiar with "The Sisters," they make a point of teaching these beginning readers that reading the words is only one way to read a book.  There are actually 3 ways to read a book:  Read the words, Read the pictures, Retell the story.  I am going to tell you about one book that I use to model READ THE PICTURES.

I first tell the students that I am going to show them how to read this book, but I am not going to read any words except for the title and author.  There is usually a little one who asks, "How will we know what's going on in the story?"  I usually say something profound like, "Wow, you're right!" or "Good thinking, I wonder that too!"  I end by saying, "Let's just look at the pictures in the story and see what is going on."

As I "read" the book, I basically give a commentary of what the pictures tell me.  I use the words, "I can read here that . . . . . . . ."  I deliberately use the word READ often so they get used to knowing that you can read pictures. 

Below, you can see some of the wonderful illustrations by Molly Bang that lend itself so well to talking about them.  It is very clear what is going on and how Sophie is feeling.

This is a page from the beginning.  You can see here what might have made Sophie angry.  I make sure that I stick with describing the picture.  Often the students are one step ahead of me (not shocking). Our conversations go something like this:
Student - She's mad!
Me - Why do you say that?
Student - Look at the way the word coming out of her mouth is written.  It's all pointy!
Me - Very good thinking!  It does look like it is written in an angry way.

And so on goes our conversation through the book.  The illustrations when she is mad are all outlined in red.  As she calms, the outlines turn to orange, then purple.  The pictures are so natural to read that the words are really not necessary to read this book.  Here are some other pictures from the book.

This is a great book to model READ THE PICTURES.  It is also a great book to use for older kids to work on inference skills.

There you have it!  Happy back to School!  I hope your year flies high!  And Remember:

Here is your link back to the beginning of our hop to Andrea at Reading Toward the Stars!  Thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Still Here!

Yes, it truly is me......blogging.  I kind of can't believe it myself!  When I looked at my last post, I was horrified to see that it was from late February.  I am thoroughly disgusted and ashamed of myself!  Well, kind of.  I was quite the busy beaver!

Anyhoo, I am here and back and ready to get back in the blogging realm.  As busy as I have been, I have truly missed my little life here in blogger land!

I am on summer vacation now.  We ended on June 10th.  This gives me more time.  Time to do what, I have no idea, but t-i-m-e people!  So excited!

I have been working on some new projects for TpT and my home and classroom.  I know that all of you probably have your summer bucket lists too.

Keeping it short today.  I just wanted to make sure that you knew I was still alive and kicking.  All's good (just really wet the last couple of days)!

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Goodreads Goal

You may remember that I am a member and a lover of the website Goodreads.  You can read about that post here.  You may also remember that I told you that Goodreads has a yearly challenge where you can pledge to read a certain number of books.  You may also also remember that I failed to meet my goal of 52 books in the year 2013 (seriously think I had half, either way, I've blocked it out of my memory already).

I doesn't seem that I am a very fast learner, because here I am again this year with the same goal.  I am even going to put the Goodreads widget back on my sidebar (shame made me take it down before).  It may help keep me on track!

If you are a Goodreads member, look me up and be my Goodreads friend!  I don't belong to many groups, and have never written a review yet, but I love to look at the feeds and see what everyone is reading.

Wish me luck!

Monday, February 24, 2014

Sahara Special

I love this new linky I just found from another blog I stalk read.  The linky is called Must-Read Monday from Amanda's blog Teaching Madness.

I know that I have shared with you that I really love books on tape.  I borrow them from my local library and then download through my phone through a wonderful app called Overdrive.  Many of your local libraries use some sort of media console for their audio and e-books.  

So, the book that I finished recently was called Sahara Special by Esme Raji Codell.  It was a Rebeca Caudill Nominee here in Illinois in 2006.

It is a wonderful book about a teacher who has made a huge difference in an inner city girl's life as she is going through the separation/divorce of her parents.  It is a very touching book that has you rooting for the main character Sahara every step of the way.  There are a few choice words in the book, so you would want to read it with mature upper elementary or middle school students.  I think that this would be a great book for character study.  The characters, major and minor, behave in some unexpected ways that would be great for analyzing the motivations behind their actions.

Thanks Amanda for providing us book lovers with ways to talk about what we are reading!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

February Currently

I know what you are thinking, "What is she doing?  She is going to be the very last person to link up for 'Currently' this month.  What's the point?"  I know that this is assuring myself a spot in the Slacker Hall of Fame, but late is better than never.  Who knows, maybe I wanted to be the last person to link up (can't say I don't have goals).

I like listening to books on tape, CD, playaway or whatever.  Let's face it, it doesn't matter what age we are, we still love to be read to.  I have always been a fan of Dean Koontz.  Lightning was one of my absolute favorites by him.  I download most of the books on my phone from the local library and listen to them on my commute or while up in my new office (more on that).

We have a 4 bedroom house.  Each of the girls have their own room, our room, and then a guest room.  The guest room used to have a queen size bed in it.  It was always my hot spot for dumping things.  More and more, anyone who visits us is a singleton, so why the need for the double bed?  Enter my wonderful mom who suggested I put in a day bed and make the rest of the room my office.  She. Is. Brilliant!  I don't have any before pictures, but here are some afters.  I am not done (walls need more color), but you get the idea.

We have 2 more weeks of our school wide Fountas and Pinnell testing.  I feel like I am drowning in a good way.

Don't think I need to comment!

Love having Lilah around.  She is really starting to settle in, she's getting used to her crate, and knock on wood, we have not had an accident in the house in a month.  HOWEVER, I am having a problem with all of the dog hair on my dress clothes.  I use the little rolls of tape on a handle (don't know what they are called), but it is not good enough.  Her hair is short and coarse, so it really grabs a hold of my dress clothes and won't let go.  Any ideas are welcome!

2 Truths and a Fib
Yes, I could do the limbo on roller skates. I am not sure what the current world record is, but my best was
8 inches.  I looked a lot like this:

I do have an aunt named Betty Crocker!

The last is the fib.  I did enter the Miss Macomb pageant while in college.  Most embarrassing moment of my life was when they called my contestant number as the winner, but someone else's name.  For a whole 2 minutes I shared the title with the other girls until the judges confirmed it was not me who won, it was her.  I like to think of those moments as character building.  I built A LOT of character that day! :)

Thanks for reading!

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinner!

Thanks for all who helped me to celebrate my birthday!  The raffle ended late last night, and we have a winner!  Drum roll please................

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Check your email Megan, and enjoy!

I also have another winner for Wendy.  I asked for anyone to comment on the best or most unique birthday present that they had received.  I would say a trip to Mexico qualifies as pretty good! (Plus, she was the only one who commented with a birthday present!  She pretty much had it wrapped up!) :)  Look for an email to come from me today for your choice of an item from my store.

Thanks all!  Now off to an elementary girls basketball game.  Seriously the best part (and best chuckle) of my day!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Birthday Celebration!

I posted a few days back about my belated Birthday celebration that I am having.  I promised something fun everyday this week.  Then our Internet provider decided it was a good day to work on the lines near our house last night.  So, no fun celebration yesterday!

I am making up for it today!  Today until Thursday, my TpT shop will be 20% off.  Stop by and pick up some of those items you have on your wish list!

Secondly, comment on this post about the most unique or best birthday present you have ever received.  One comment will be chosen to pick an item of choice from my store ($10.00 or less) for free.  Please don't forget to give your email in the comment, so I can get back to you.

If you haven't entered the birthday raffle, here it is!  Enter now for a chance to win a $25.00 TpT gift certificate.  Raffle ends on Valentine's Day!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Five For Sunterday? And A Giveaway!!

I have been so involved in watching the Olympics that I kind of forgot about anything else (grooming, eating).  So, I'm a little late in doing this week's Five for Friday, but I have a lot of fun things coming up.

1.  This weekend I spent about an hour and a half loading up Girl Scout Cookies for our local division.  This was my first experience with this, and it is amazing how the leaders have this fine-tuned!  So, there are about 45-50 troops in our division who took part in cookie selling.  Troops come in 15 minutes intervals.  They check in and then drive up to the first stop:  Thin Mints.  They are first because they are the most popular so it is easier to fit them into the cars.  Some troops needed 3 cars to pick up all of their cookies!  When our volunteering was done, we picked up our cookies.  Here is our troop leader, our cookie mom, and me (brown coat, gray boots) with our haul.

2.  Yesterday was our park district's annual Daddy Daughter Dance.  The hubs took both of our little ladies out for the evening.  Dinner, dancing, and fun with friends.  The girls came home exhausted, but had a great time (the hubs too)!

I know I'm biased, but seriously, how cute are they?

This one has me concerned about what she will be like in college!

Little does anyone know that she has on her bright orange and gray tennis shoes on (no joke)!

3.  I am in the process of updating some of my products.  I know that I don't have that many yet, and not a lot of variety in them yet.  However, after having used them with students, there are some changes I have felt that they needed.  If it is anything major, I am letting all my followers know.  I am also trying to update graphics.  I mean, come on, those Melonheadz graphics just make everything cuter (especially the ones with the missing front teeth)!

Old Cover ........

New Cover!

4.  We are in the process of Benchmarking (using the Fountas and Pinnell Benchmark Systems) every student in our building.  I know what you are thinking, "Yeah, big deal, we do that too!"  The big deal for us is that teachers are doing most of the testing themselves.  They received training from our district and now they are trying it in their rooms.  Each grade level has a week to test and I "shadow" them the first day to make sure that they have the hang of it.  It is a big change for some of our teachers, and I have to say, they are taking it on and doing fabulous.  Not only that, but many have said that they are very intrigued by the results that they are getting.  I love that they are seeing the value of it, but I am drowning in data!!

5.  Today (February 9th) is my forty something mumble, mumble, grumble birthday.  As much as a I hate getting a year older, I love being a year wiser.  The experiences from this past year, have taught me a lot.  So, in celebration, I am having a giveaway for all of my new and old (just like me) followers.  Enter the raffle below for your chance to win a $25.00 Teachers Pay Teachers Gift Certificate.  Raffle will end at midnight on Friday, February 14th.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Because I fully believe that a birthday should be a week (if not longer) celebration, I am continuing the celebration all week long.  Everyday will be something different, from Flash Freebies to Comment Winners.  It will help if you follow me on TPT, Bloglovin', and Facebook!


Well, time to get ready to tackle the work week!

Friday, January 31, 2014

Loving Literacy Blog Hop - Stop #17

Welcome to...

Valentine's Day is fast approaching!  So sorry if I was the first one to tell you that, but it's true!  So The Reading Crew got together again and decided to share that lovey-dovey stuff with our followers.  Each specialist has picked a book that is either their one of their favorites, or may be a wonderful timely book for this time of year.  In addition, they are sharing with you, our readers, some 

I have always been a reader.  I frequently tell the students I see, "So many books, so little time."  I have favorite authors, books, genres, and I always know what I am going to read next after I have finished a book.  Funny thing about me:  I can stay up until 2:00 in the morning reading a book, once a finish it, I have to read at least 10 pages into another book before I can go to sleep.  I think it is because I must always be reading something.  Heaven forbid, I be between books!  GASP!

I love making lists of my favorite authors and what books they have written.  I have a notebook that I keep all of that in.  I would take a picture of it, but I am afraid you would lose respect and think I was too geeky to continue following my blog.  I love buying books.  I love going to the library and checking out books (I absolutely love the smell that ALL library books seem to have)!  However, I am not a very fast reader.  And especially when it comes to non-fiction, I really have to slow down.  My friends seem to breeze through books at a rate that leaves me breathless.  I continue to plod along at my slow pace.  I don't have a slow reading rate or anything, I just take a long time digesting what I read.

Enter student teaching.  I loved all the prep classes in reading in my undergrad from good ole' Western Illinois University (when I went every elementary education major graduated with 18 hours of reading), but the idea of teaching reading scared the bologna out of me.  I am a math-minded person.  There is right, there is wrong, show your work.  That's easy!  Reading is so loosey-goosey, too much gray area, yuck!  Someone up there (thank you) heard my cries and felt my trepidation, because they gave me about the best cooperating teacher for reading (and pretty much every thing else) a beginning teacher could have.  It was clear that teaching reading was her passion, and the students quickly saw that and became passionate about reading too.  She was getting her Reading Specialist degree at the time I student taught.  I remember thinking, "I could never do that, or even want to do that."  I got a job teaching third grade the very next year, and two years after that, I went back to school for my Reading Specialist certificate.

I've always had a love for literacy and reading, but I feel like my student teaching experience gave me the love for teaching literacy!

Enough about me, onto the book I chose.  I grabbed this book off of the rack at a Scholastic Book Fair sale the one year I was a school librarian.  I picked it up for our school, but I stashed one away to buy for my oldest daughter.

It's a cute story about a young child going to bed, and the monster that is usually under their bed went fishing for the night.  The child realizes that they can't fall asleep without the monster, so other monsters try to substitute for missing monster.  It was wonderful illustrations with a vocabulary that would be best for a read aloud from grades 2-5.

The book is fantastic for teaching the reading strategy of visualizing.  Normally, I show the pictures to the students as I read to them.  For this book, I do not.  I purposely wait until we have talked about the monsters and what we think they should look like, and what clues the author put there to help us with those mental pictures.

The lesson starts with a 2 page Interactive Read Aloud Lesson Plan.  The lesson plan tells you where to stop in the story and what to talk about with the students.

The next part of the product has the students creating their own monster.  Then they have to write a piece about their monster describing what it looks like.  When the students are done, it is so fun trying to match up each writing piece to the correct monster.  You can even make it a game.  Some students are very straight-forward in their writing.  They describe the physical traits of their monster.  Some try to make their piece a little trickier by not stating outright, but using clues that the reader must figure out.  All in all, when the students are done, they have had a monstrous good time (pun intended)!

I hope you enjoy the freebie and leave feedback, especially after you have tried it with your students.  You can also spread the love by following me on Bloglovin'.  Thanks so much for stopping by!

This item was free only for the Loving Literacy Blog Hop Weekend.  It is now a paid item in my store.  Thanks again for stopping by!

You are now ready to.......

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Upcoming Blog Hop

So, my New Year's guidelines about blogging at least once a week went south real quick didn't it?!  That is why I call them guidelines and not resolutions.  I have been able to follow some of my other New Year's Guidelines, but blogging once a week is soooo tricky!

However, I do have a couple of big things coming up.  February is my birthday month.  My actual birthday is on the 9th.  I believe with my whole heart that you should celebrate your birthday for an entire month, and not just one day.  I plan to celebrate with my blogging friends and followers, so look for some fun and freebies early in February.

Secondly, I am fortunate enough to participate in another blog hop starting tomorrow!  Here are all the details.

Each blogger will share why they love literacy so much and share a favorite book of theirs with a freebie.  You can start your hop at:

From there, you get to hop from one blog to the next collecting great teaching techniques and some fabulous freebies.

See you all soon!