December 31, 2014

Organizing for the New Year

Twenty fifteen here I come! Can you believe another year has come and gone?! The older I get, the faster the years fly by and there's no stopping it.

I have always loved being organized-at school and at home. My classroom has a place for everything and everything in it's place. The kids know it, my fellow teachers know it, everyone knows it :) I'm also organized at home, but I like to come up with new organizational goodies all the time.

So just in time for the new year, I've made a Command Center. At first I thought it might be weird since I don't have kids or fifty-million schedules to keep track of, but then I thought, who cares. I like being organized and I like having a clear, visual representation of that. A few weeks ago I was browsing through my new fav blog I Heart Organizing, and came across her post for a command center, but it was from another blog...How to Nest for Less. She offers a cool calendar for free download. So I downloaded it, took it to Office Depot and they enlarged it to 22x28" for me. Then I bought the frame she linked to, and viola.

Here's the calendar you can download for free at her site:
Then, one you put it in the frame, you can use expo markers to write on it! So cool :)

I'm sure most of you already have this, or something like it, but I added the folder to the wall and love it :)

So here is my finished product:

I got the box I attached to the wall at Target, as well as the cool sticker labels that I put on the different sections of the box :)

I think being organized is a great way to start the year off stress-free. Good luck organizing!!! :)

Happy New Year!

December 21, 2014

14 in '14

As we head into the week of Christmas, this will be quite the week. I am leaving tomorrow for Christmas in Tennessee!!! Crazy :) I wanted to squeeze in one last blog entry before I leave, and this is the perfect one! I love link-ups and this is a good one :) So I'm linking up with A Teeny Tiny Teacher do participate in the 14 in 14 link up for the end of 2014.

14. Favorite Quote
I don't really have a favorite, but here's one that I've been ascribing to lately: Follow your arrow, wherever it may point.

13. Favorite Article of Clothing
I love boots and jackets and purses, oh my!! Right now my favorite item of clothing is my new "leather" jacket from H&M, a tan/caramel color :) I can't find it online anymore, but just know it's awesome :)

12. Favorite Movie You Watched [I'm assuming in 2014]
There's been some good's always so difficult to choose! I am, however, going to go with the 2nd Captain America movie-Winter Soldier. It has sentimental value too ;)

11. Favorite TV Series
I'm torn. I really like The Big Bang Theory, but I'm also liking two new shows: Madam Secretary and Scorpion. Watch them ;)

10. Favorite Restaurant
Teri's's our go-to place. Always great food and plenty of gluten-free options for me :)

9. Favorite New Thing That You Tried
Hmmmm.....Road-tripping. We've done 2 now and I'm really liking it...shocking.

8. Favorite Gift You Received
Sounds cheesy, but time off to visit with my nephew. He's growing up so fast and it's nice to have time to see him every now and then.

7. Favorite thing you've Pinned
My new hair color! Well, we're in transition to it now and it will rock!!!

Now if only mine will hurry up and get this long!

6. Favorite blog post
I recently stumbled onto a new blog called I heart Organizing, and I love it! I found a post about a Command Center with making a large calendar and putting it in a frame and using whiteboard markers and such...awesome! I have it all made and now all I have to do is put it up when I get back from my trip!

5. Favorite Accomplishment
I'd have to say getting my Teachers Pay Teachers store running well. I am very proud of all my items and units that I put up on my store. I've worked really hard on it for a little over a year now, and it's starting to pay off and I'm really proud of that!

4. Favorite Photo
Well I don't want to show his picture, but there's the one of me and my man at the Marine Corps ball...I love it!!!

3. Favorite Memory
My favorite memories have been the roadtrips we've taken this year. It's fun to have alone time and now worry about work [though he had to :/]. We drove to Arizona to see two football games; we drove to Berkley/San Fransisco/Sacramento [one trip] to see two football games and my sister, brother-in-law and nephew. FUN!!!!!!!

2. 2015 Goal
My goal for 2015 is simple: be in the moment. Don't worry about things I can't control.

1. One little word
My one little word, is one little phrase: Let it be

And there you go! My 14 in '14. Enjoy everyone!


December 14, 2014

Christmas Questionnaire

I love Christmas time :) So I'm joining up with Fabulous in First for this fun Christmas linky!

1. When do you decorate?
I decorate the day after Thanksgiving, or the the weekend after. I think it's important to enjoy one holiday at a time :) 
This is the first year I've done a ribbon on the tree. 

2. Elf or no Elf?
Well, I don't have my own kids, and I teach high no elf. But I fully plan on having one when I have my own kiddos! :)

3. Christmas Cookies or No Baking for You?
I LOVE baking!!!! I am both gluten and dairy free, so I'm always looking for good recipes. I want to try this new gluten free/dairy free gingerbread loaf...yummy!!!

4. Favorite Holiday Tradition?
My family used to always make banana bread for the neighbors for Christmas. Once I got back from college, I forced my mom to do it again ;) And then I carried it on myself. I plan to do that for as long as I can!

5. Favorite Christmas Movie?
Uhhhh, duh! Elf!!! "He's an angry elf!" hahahahahahahahaa

6. Snow or no Snow?
I live in San Diego......barely rain, let alone snow. However, this year I will be celebrating Christmas in maybe snow!!!!!!!! I'm meeting the parents for Christmas and am hoping it snows :)

7. Favorite Christmas Song?
I have always loved Christmas music. I love Mary Did You Know, and even sang it once at church for Christmas Eve Service. But I just ran across this new version and I am OBSESSED!!!!

8. Favorite Gifts to Give and Get?
Honestly, unless I REALLY want something, I love gift cards to places like Target, MAC [make-up], and Sprouts [like Whole Foods], and of course, Starbucks. This year at a gift exchange I got some movie tickets so that was really cool! So we'll be going to the movies over Christmas break I think ;)

Have fun and join up with the linky too!! It's nice to get some ideas too ;) Merry Christmas!

December 13, 2014

Renaissance Faire...come rain or shine!

Every semester we have our Renaissance Faire to prepare for the Shakespeare unit. The students do research, dress up, make/play games, bake, and have fun. I've done this for a few years now, Fall Semester and then again Spring Semester with my new set of kids-never once has it rained. So we have the faire outside and there's room and it's fun.

This year, it rained. It only rained one day in like 2 weeks, and it was on the day of the faire. So like any teacher, I adapted. I emptied out my classroom and that became the space for our faire. [The rec room was being used for our Holiday concert assembly, so I couldn't reserve it :/]

Anyway, it was still fun...smelly and hot, but still fun :) And 3 or 4 teachers each period brought their students over to be faire-goers, so that was really cool for the my students because they had lots of people to play their games, eat their food, and so on.

I only had time to take a few pics this year:
Teaching students how to play Quoits. My students are the ones dressed up ;)

Drinks at the far end, meats and cheeses, desserts, and Hot Cross Buns! :)

We all had a good time, and in the end, the rain didn't stop us!

If you're interested in holding a Renaissance Faire for your kids, head on over to my TPT Store and download the Renaissance Faire Unit and enjoy!

December 6, 2014

Winter Wonderland Mad Lib-FREEBIE

Can you tell I love Mad Libs?!?! I think I have a problem :) But they're so fun and easy to use in the classroom. I gave my 10th graders the Thanksgiving Mad Lib I made right before we left for Thanksgiving break, and the LOVED it! Seriously...they said it was the "funnest" thing we'd done. [That shocks me, but ok]

So I've come up with a Winer-themed Mad Lib for you all, and it's FREE! This Mad Lib is not related to a specific holiday, so it's friendly to all and VERY school appropriate :)


December 4, 2014

December Currently...a few days late

December snuck right up on me! This also explains why I'm a few days behind. I had so much to do the week of Thanksgiving and the weekend after, that Monday, December 1st came too quickly! But I LOVE Farley's Currently every month, so I'm still doing it, just a few days late :)

So here we go...the last Currently of 2014!

Giving: I will be giving my TAs Christmas gifts before break. They do the work for credit, but I think it's nice to let them know that I appreciate the work too. 

Happy December everyone!

November 29, 2014

Cyber Monday Sale!

Well, Thanksgiving has come and gone. That means it is officially the Christmas season. TPT is throwing a HUGE Cyber Sale on December 1st and 2nd...and I'm participating of course! My store will be 20% off on Monday and Tuesday, plus, if you use the code, there's more discounts!!!

300 × 250
So dash on over to my TPT Store and enjoy all the savings! Why not start the new year with great new lesson plans and activities, right?!
Happy holiday season everyone!!

November 19, 2014

Classroom Thanksgiving FREEBIE

Where has the time gone?! First of all, can't believe I've only done two posts in November so far...that was not the plan :/ Things have been a bit crazy, but I'm here to remind you all of one of my freebies.

Thanksgiving Mad Lib!!! How fun is this? I'm going to give it to my 10th graders this Friday before break...they love getting to do fun little things like this.

So have a wonderful last week before Thanksgiving break, and enjoy this little freebie to hand out to your kids as a little treat :)

November 9, 2014

Veteran's Day

Veteran's Day is the day to stop and remember all those that serve and have served our country. My grandfather fought in WWII for the Army, and my boyfriend currently serves in the Corps. With so much senseless violence out there, we should thank those that protect our freedoms daily.

On Friday at school, we had our annual Veteran's Day assembly. We always have a guest speaker that is either in, or has been in, the military. We play the National Anthem and then we also play all the medleys for the different branches. If the students know someone in the military [relative usually] we ask them to stand during that branch's medley. It's pretty cool to see how the military reaches all of us in some way. We then end with the playing of Taps, and the students leave the assembly quietly. It's a nice assembly.

I'm not sure where the tradition started with having a sale...I'm hoping it was to give Veterans a break as a 'thank you'.  So since that's what I'm hoping it's for...I'm throwing a Veteran's Day sale as well on my TPT Store. All paid products will be 15% off :) The sale will run Monday the 10th [the Marine Corps' 239th birthday] and Tuesday the 11th [Veteran's Day]. 

Enjoy and thank someone in the military!

November 2, 2014

November Currently

It is officially the Holiday Season!! I love that the leaves are finally starting to turn colors, it actually rained Friday night and some of Saturday, and the weather is even a little cooler. I love it!

Saturday afternoon/night we went to the 239th USMC Birthday Ball on the USS Midway. It was very nice and we only got sprinkled on for a few minutes and then the rain cloud passed :) All day Saturday I was busy getting ready before it started at 3pm, hence the Currently being a day late :/

And then today was spent going to a movie [Fury] and decorating for Thanksgiving...LOVE fall decorations!

And without further ado, here is my November Currently that Farley provides :)

 Have a wonderful week!

October 30, 2014

No's a Treat!

Here's a treat this Halloween.... A Halloween Sale going on right now at my TPT Store! Head on over for some treats at 10% off. I've got a cute FREE Halloween Mad Lib, and a bunch of other treats to help you get through the next few months until Christmas break ;)

Here's the link to the Halloween Mad Lib too! :)

Happy Halloween everyone! 

October 23, 2014

Facebook Profile FREEBIE

This freebie stems from the Animal Farm Facebook profiles I created a while back. I used to have them up as a Word doc so that people could edit them, but then the formatting was all messed up, so I made them a PDF. Then I had people emailing and asking for the Word version anyway. So I've spent a lot of time emailing out the Word version.

Well now, by popular demand, I've made a blank template! Yay! It's still a PDF, but it would be easy to drop in a picture or add text :)

So head on over to my TPT Store and download this FREE Facebook Profile Template!

October 21, 2014

Parent Conferences-FREEBIE

The Quarter is ending this week, and so that means next Monday is Parent/Teacher Conference day. My school doesn't require conferences, but we do suggest them for parents whose students are earning a C or lower. I'll also get a few honors parents who want to meet just to see how great their child is ;)

I created this Parent/Teacher conference sheet last year because it helped keep me on track [and mostly the parents] and helped me stay within the 15 minute time slot. Sometimes parents just want to talk and talk, and tell you their life story, or sometimes even cry about how they can't control their kid. That's great and I'm happy to listen, but I only have 15 minutes, so this organizer helped me stay on track :)

Parent/Teacher Conferences sheet, FREE on my TPT Store:

 Even if it's not officially conference time, this would be a great aid during any parent discussion. Hope you find it useful! :)

October 17, 2014

Live Grading Success

Any English teacher knows that grading essays is time-consuming, mentally exhausting, and frustrating. It also takes up your home life time...what little of that you have...because you have to take the essays home to grade because there's no way you can do it at school AND grade the homework too!

I don't have a solution, but I have a different approach. A few months ago at a department meeting, we were talking about grading and how feedback is important, etc. I don't remember who brought up the idea or if they had done it, but the great idea of live feedback entered the discussion.

The only way this will work though, is if you can trust your students to do independent work for a whole week. I had rearranged by units this year, and somehow ended up with an extra week...still don't understand. So this provided the perfect opportunity to do live grading, and still have the grades turned in in time for the grading period [Quarter 1 ends next week].

So while I am pulling students over one at a time and grading their essay in front of them, the kids are analyzing articles using a worksheet I adapted regarding the Four Fundamental Ways We Relate to Text. The texts I am having them analyze are from the Common Core Appendix B exemplars.
Here's the's double sided.

The live grading has gone surprisingly VERY well. The kids are seeing what it's like for me to grade their essays and see EVERY little mistake they make. I've had so many kids notice the errors before I mark's awesome! This is also a plus for me because they can't just look at the grade and be upset--they logically understand their grade. I've had no complaints, no arguments about the grade, and kids have been telling me it's "really cool" and "really helpful".

Unfortunately, I don't have time to do this with their next essay, but I think doing it with this first one will help make sure their next paper is done correctly. They were engaged in the grading process and I truly believe this will transfer over to their next writing assignment.

Hope this helps everyone! Have a great weekend!

October 10, 2014

Balancing Work Life and Personal Life

Well this is a hard topic for a lot of us. I know that I struggle with it for sure. I used to spend A TON of time doing school related activities/assignments.

I used to coach the cheer 11 month commitment, which included practices, traveling to games, camps, and then creating dances and cheers on my "off" time.

Then I was also on two committees for work, and at one point, taught 5/4 sections. CRAZY!!! I never had time for myself....especially with having to grade essays...forget about it!

But this year, this year is different. I'm not gonna lie, it's because I'm actually in a relationship. I am being forced to have a personal life ;) But this has been the best thing for me. We should not be spending 100% of our time doing school-related activities. Yes, I still have to grade essays and stuff...but I've been really trying to get as much graded at school as possible.

This year I've utilized my TAs to the fullest. They grade quizzes and tests [multiple choice and/or fill in the blank, and I grade the written portion]; they grade little homework assignments; they enter grades into my paper gradebook and then I put them in the computer gradebook. This has really helped save me some time.

So this weekend, I am headed to Arizona with my hunny and we are going to see the U of A game, and then Sunday we'll see the Cardinals game. This is the first time in my teaching career that I've done a weekend "vacation" during the school week/year. Usually I would wait til Summer, or Thanksgiving, or Christmas break to take a little trip. So this is good for me! I may have to grade a tiny teeny bit in the car ride there...but then I'll be 100% focused on us :)

So this is sort of a friendly reminder to make time for yourself. Don't let school overwhelm your life...just don't let it. It's a conscious decision we have to make every day. I still struggle with it every day, but I try my best to balance my life better now :)

Have a great weekend everyone!

October 6, 2014

Halloween FREEBIE!

Happy October! I hadn't done a little, fun activity in a while, so I thought I'd make a cute Mad Lib for Halloween!

This Mad Lib uses Nouns, Verbs, and Adjectives. I will be using this with my 10th graders as just a fun warm up on Halloween :) You'd be surprised how many 10th graders do not know the difference between Verbs and Adjectives :/

Click here to download your FREE Halloween Mad Lib!

Have a great day everyone!

October 2, 2014

October Currently

It's October! Woo Hoo! Pumpkin everything! The Pumpkin Spice Latte is back, I love making pumpkin bread, and the decorations! I love the beginning of the holiday season.

Mmmmmmmmm :) 
[Of course mine is with soy 'cus of the whole dairy-free thing]

And I'm linking up with Farley once again for my monthly Currently!

I love decorating for the holiday seasons! So here is my fireplace all decorated for Halloween :)

And here is my "trick" for your classroom:
Have a come-in song. By the time the song is over, their warm up needs to be completed. Once you do this for a week, they know right away what to do when that song is playing. I don't even have to ask them to do their warm up now; song comes on, they get to work. Saves you a bunch of hassle!

Have a great weekend everyone!!

New Classroom! Finally!

Sorry I haven't posted in a while; I've been waiting to post until things were pretty set in my new room. It's still not 100%, but it's good enough to share 'cus I'm so excited!

There's not going to be much substance to this post, just a lot of pics and some small explanations :) Enjoy!

They had set up the desks in the room...but not how I wanted, obviously :)

A wall of windows....halla!

The back wall view from the front of the classroom...

Back wall corner...

Front corner by the windows :)

And lots of boxes!!!!!

Side wall opposite the window wall...this has a whiteboard with the classwork and homework for each prep. There's a hanging file folder with extra handouts, and next to it, an MLA formatting poster.

View of the front wall, from the back of the room. The SUPER white board is for the projector, so I will not be writing there. I'll be writing on the whiteboard to the left of it.

My desk is in the back corner. They will install a bulletin board where the orange paper is :) 

My desk is to the left of the cabinets there. I painted the "Follow Your Arrow" quote after I saw that my neighboring teacher had painted a cool quote on her wall :) 

That's pretty much it for now. I'm hoping to get some more decorations up in the next week or two! 

And here are last week's outfits:
I'm actually shocked that I haven't worn the same outfit in 5.5 weeks....maybe I have too many clothes? hahahahahaha.....yeah right ;)

Hope ya'll have had a great week!

September 21, 2014

SmashBook Success!

It's been a week since I blogged because I was hustlin to get the kids' Novel Study SmashBooks graded! I would say about 90% of them turned out really well...and then there's that 10% of kids that did the minimum requirements [as usual]. So I am very happy with how this project turned out!

A few helpful hints for those attempting this project:

-I did take my example [the Power Point] off my wiki because I noticed kids were straight up copying my work.
-I had to constantly explain that they were supposed to be filling this out as they read. This is why it's a good thing I had those check in days to make sure they were doing that. I finally explained it like this: You're taking notes as you read, like annotating or close reading; you're just doing it on a different sheet of paper for different topics.
-Themes page: Kids were writing LONG paragraphs explaining their themes. I told them they just needed to put several quotes under each theme, and that would tell me if they understood the theme or not.

So here's a few GREAT examples for your viewing pleasure!
She made her own cover look like a newspaper review of her book!!

This is one student's Historical Background page

A student's THEME page

A correctly done Connections page :)

And finally, an overachiever's VOCAB page. They only needed to find & define 12 new words for an A...I think she has like 20!! LOL

So overall, this was a great project and the kids said they liked it :) I hope you enjoyed seeing the kids' work!

Now, as usual, here are my Week 4 outfits :) It was BLAZING hot this week...literally in the I wore a few dresses/skirts:
Hope you all have a great upcoming week!

September 12, 2014

Argument Writing & Week 3 Happenings

We've made it through 3 weeks now! Kids are officially back in the groove of school and are already "forgetting" to do their homework. Ahhhhh teenagers ;)

I tried a new unit this year, my argument writing unit. I usually start off the year with Animal Farm, but then the end of the unit essay was awful because these kids just struggle so much with writing. So this year, I created a three-week argument writing unit to teach kids the elements of argument writing; what is a claim? What is evidence? What is rhetorical writing?

All of the kids have improved in their writing skills in these past three weeks, which is very exciting. I'm hoping that when we roll around the the AF essay next unit, the writing will be where it should be, grade level wise.

We've been doing some "treasure hunt" type worksheets to see if they can identify claims and evidence and rhetoric, and then we've been making our own as well; a nice balance I think.

For the assignment below, they read the article and highlighted claim in yellow, evidence in blue, and rhetoric in green, and then had to write which type of rhetoric it was. Then they filled out the chart with what worked and what needed improving in each article.
She missed a few pieces of evidence, but this was our first try :)

And the completed chart.

Yesterday and today they're working on their end of the unit argument paper in which they are taking a stand on a controversial issue. We will peer edit rough drafts on Tuesday :)

And then here are my outfits for the week :)
The pants on day two are green but the lighting in my room made it hard to tell :/ Today is Friday so jeans and a school shirt...but check out the American Flag shoes!!!

Have a great weekend everyone!!