Sunday, January 24, 2016

One Little Word 2016

Admittedly I struggled with my "one little word" for this year.  I'm at a really pivotal point in a great deal of things going on in my life right now but I wanted it to be a word of true meaning and significance for me...a word that represents the excitement, fear, elation, frustration, and confidence that this year is for me.

At first I thought ringmaster seemed like a good enough word.  I was certainly juggling the many responsibilities I have while learning to find the most important balance...a balance to take care of myself.  I was becoming a ringmaster of my own life again.  (And I don't mean that in a spiritual sense because God guides my daily path.  I just mean that I was taking control back of the things that have spiraled beyond my control...mostly because of my desire to make others around me happy and to be a person who can't say "no.")  But I digress...

That still just didn't have the right nuance to it.  This year is about more than that for me.  In just under three months I turn 30!  I'm losing weight and becoming a new woman.  I'm re-prioritizing my own value in my life because I know my worth in God.  I am doing things for myself that I've put off for too long...exercise, National Boards, sleep, time with friends, maybe even dating again should the right guy present himself in my life.

I went to an awesome conference yesterday, and that's when it really solidified for me.  I had read this somewhere earlier in the week, and I wish I could give the proper person, article, site credit, but I truly cannot remember where I first encountered the concept behind this one little word.  But it's simultaneously about success and encompasses this dichotomy of emotions I'm feeling and, perhaps most importantly, the attitude that I want to pass on to my students as well.


A small word.

A function word.

It delivers no content.  No significant meaning, yet it changes the entire meaning of the sentence.

And that's my word.

You see, I have so many things that I want to do and am doing and will do that I'm not quite where I want to be...YET.  And that's okay.   I'm a thousand percent okay with that because I'm excited about this journey.

I'm not faithful, fervent, and consistent in my daily prayer and Bible study...YET.
I'm not married to a godly man who loves me the way Christ loves the church...YET.
I'm not a mother of beautiful adopted children who I have already given my heart to...YET.
I am not strong in my arms, abs, or back...YET.  
I haven't achieved my goal weight or dress size...YET.
I'm not an accomplished teacher...YET.
I'm not debt-free...YET.
I'm not the woman, the beast, the boss that I want and was born to be...YET.

But I'm getting there.   Day by day.  Step by step.  Poco a poco.  But it's getting closer.   I'm just not there...YET.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

#2getherwearebetter: 2016 Plans & Goals


Call me an overachiever.  Or just a lover of alliteration.  But I think my #16for16 is off to a great start.  I wanted to have something catchy for this big upcoming year, especially since last year's #focusedin15 worked so well for me.  When I met with a few of my best girlfriends on New Year's Eve to map out our plans and intentions for the coming year, I broke each of my big areas into three sub-goals.  I added one little overall goal to the bottom...and BAM!  There was my #16for16.

Everything is kind of self-explanatory in the bullets, but a few things may not be.  For example, PTP (Polishing the Pulpit) is a spiritual retreat week that my congregation hosts for churches of Christ from all around.  It originally started as an opportunity for preachers to connect, but then it grew into an amazing get-together of Christians from all around.  I'm hopeful that by going I will grow spiritually and that I might even meet my future husband there!  Surely there will be new people to meet there.  I know it will be a great investment of my time.

The "NB" that I talk about in my professional goals is my National Board Certification journey.  I've mentioned before that I'm working on that, and this year, I'm trying to tackle the first three components.  Now that the submission time is getting closer, it's gotta be nose to the grindstone time for me.

One thing I feel exceptionally proud of and feel like I'm taking advantage of is my physical goals.  I would probably already be overwhelmed by now if I were starting all these challenges in this first month of the new year.  However, I began this past November with my workouts, and I've had really exciting results.  I am already down 20 pounds and two dress sizes.  I still have a way to go, but I'm proud of myself for making exercise and healthier eating a lifestyle change for myself.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Currently: January 2016

So I've been MIA for the last part of 2015...I have been doing some serious work on myself, and it feels great.  But of course that comes at the sacrifice of time or hobbies elsewhere, and unfortunately, I often let blogging go to re-prioritize other things.  Now I'm back...with some exciting things to look forward to in this new year.  Here's a peek at what I'm currently up to!

Listening: As usual, if there's a Twilight marathon on, it's on in my house.  Just can't help myself.

Loving: My new work out clothes!  Since the beginning of November, I'm down 20 pounds and two dress sizes!  I invested in some new cropped compression pants and a couple of racer back tanks.  Now I feel like I'm really killin' it when I'm getting my work out on!

Thinking: I have a giant "to do" list for this weekend.  Considering it's already Saturday night, it's probably best that I start knocking some stuff off the list.  Even though I didn't get much done from the list today, I still got a lot done.   (A 10K walk with a friend, reviewing my video and writing for National Boards, a quick nap, breakfast for dinner, and now blogging!)

Wanting: Now that I feel like I've got one video under my belt, I want to make sure the other video goes smoothly too.  And all that writing...I'm definitely in my feels about it.  I need to start dedicating more and more time to writing, and that's definitely going to mean some QT at the local Starbucks, I'm afraid.

Needing: I started a new 2016 cleaning schedule last week.  Monday and Tuesday were really strong, but I slacked starting Wednesday and coasted steadily downhill the rest of the week.  But I'm 6/7 days for actually making my bed this week, so I think that's admirable.

One Little Word: I've thought A LOT about what I want my OLW to be this year, and I've had trouble deciding.  But I think I've landed on RINGMASTER.  The last few years of my life were this whirlwind that I felt like I couldn't control and now I feel like I'm really finally putting the pieces back together.  I know that doesn't mean that bad things still won't happen, because that's life, but I feel like I'm taking back power over the things I CAN control.  Thus, I'm the ringmaster to this crazy three-ring circus of a life!  ;)

Hop back over to Farley's original post to see what my other teacher-blogger friends are up to in the new year.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Check Out These Top Picks for January at Educents

Lesson PlansDONE!

Whether you are a classroom teacher or a homeschool teacher, I'm sure that as December winds down you are already thinking about lesson plans for January.  Although I'm hoping you didn't, chances are you've been thinking about them for a while, even through the holiday season.  Well today, I would like to help you get those lesson plans done!

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Top Picks for January is bundle of 28 amazing educational resources all perfect for  January!  Each of these resources was hand-picked to help you teach language arts, math, science and social studies in a fun and meaningful way.  Your learners will focus on key skills while connecting to the fun and engaging themes that January has to offer.  What makes Top Picks for January even better - the price!  You could spend hours searching for just the right January resources like the folks at Educents did, and when all was said and done you'd have over $120 of educational resources in your shopping cart.  Or, you can take advantage of this limited time bundle that is 75% off.   For only $29.99, almost a $100 savings, you get 28 top quality resources that ready to use.  I know what my choice is!

So what exactly is in this amazing bundle?  Here's what you will receive in the Top Picks for January Bundle divided by subject area.  You will also find the recommended grade levels for each resource, however, many of them can be used with additional grade levels by providing a little more support or slightly modifying the final product.  Some of these resources will also help you in multiple content areas.  For example, work on reading skills while doing science or work on writing skills in social studies.


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This no-prep packet by Fantastic First Grade Froggies could easily have gone under Math too.  With 15 ready to use Language Arts activities and 15 ready to use Math activities you are well on your way to a fun, learning filled January.  Just a few of the concepts covered in these activities include sentence writing, phonics (r blends, silent e, digraphs), syllables, editing and punctuation.  Some of the math concepts include reading temperature, graphing, addition and subtraction, place value, telling time, comparing numbers and number lines.  Can you  see why this packet is a Top Pick?

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Snowmen at Night Reading and Writing Unit (2-3) This is a great resource that is designed to accompany a perfect January book - Snowmen at Night.  Clowning Around in Third Grade has provided you with everything you need to use this book to focus on key reading skills like comprehension and summarizing.  When you are done take your book study to the next level with a post-reading writing and craft activity.

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January Journal Prompts (2-5) Help your learners practice their writing with daily writing prompts by Clowning Around in Third Grade.  Each writing prompt is perfect for January and open-ended which allows your writers the freedom to explain their thoughts and expand their ideas.  These prompts are also a great way to check for understanding on previously taught concepts as students take the concept and include it in their writing.  Curious what the topics are like?  Here's a couple:  "What would it be like if you and your family had to hibernate during the winter?  Write about what you would need to do to prepare for such a long sleep."  "Imagine what it would be like if it started snowing in your town on January 2 and didn't stop until January 31!  Describe what life would be like in your town with this much snow."

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January Language Arts Grab and Go Centers (3-6) Teresa Kwant has provided you with 64 ready to go language arts centers and activities.  Everything you need to practice skills in Grammar, Reading, Writing, Spelling, Vocabulary and Word Structure is right here!  There are multiple activities for each of these areas.  In addition Teresa has provided you with optional activities that also involve the use of technology.  It's easy to see why this jam-packed resource was chased as a Top Pick!

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Snowman Biography Book Report (K-8) Teaching in Bronco Country has put together this fun and engaging tool for teaching your readers about biographies and autobiographies.  Students use this snowman report as a way to show what they learned by reading a biography or autobiography.  You get everything you need including comprehension questions that can be used for any book, directions for the final project, a project checklist and a grading rubric.  Look at this final product by a student who studied Elizabeth Blackwell.

snowman biography
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Graphic Organizers Winter Theme (K-8) Sweet Integrations has put together this fabulous set of graphic organizers all with a winter feel.  You receive 20 different graphic organizers that your readers can use to reflect on their reading.  There are graphic organizers for sequencing, main idea, summary, cause and effect, connections, inferencing and more!  Here's a student working on a story map using one of these graphic organizers. 
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Stone Fox Novel Study (3-6) Looking for a great winter themed novel to study?  Well look no further than Stone Fox and this amazing resource by The Third Wheel.  This resource provides students with a fun and engaging way to practice key reading skills such as context clues, visualizing, sequencing, text analysis and more.  Students will use a foldable for each days reading to focus on a key reading skill.  You also receive a planning guide to help with planning the reading, vocabulary for each chapter and key vocabulary for mastering the reading skills.

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Jan Brett Winter Unit (K-2) I don't know about you but I love Jan Brett books and reading them to my students.  This is an amazing unit that will give you resources for 11 Jan Brett books!  Amy Labrasciano has provided you with 22 activities to support the books along with 5 anchor charts to help your readers as you study these wonderful books.  Another Top Pick that you can't go wrong with!

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January Interactive Poetry Notebook (1-3) Erin Waters of The Watering Hole has written original poems for Martin Luther King, Jr., New Year's Eve, Chinese New Year, Setting Goals, and Penguins in this amazing resource.  Each week as you introduce students to a new poem, support their learning with various activities that help with reflection, vocabulary development and more!  Perfect for independent work in a poetry journal, stations, small group work, or whole class instruction.  Here's a glimpse at a couple activities!

poetry poetry 3

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Finding the Main Idea with Non-Fiction Texts Winter Edition (2-5) For a Love of Teaching has put together this wonderful resource to help your students master the skill of finding the main idea.  This packet is filled with non-fiction texts all related to winter!  Your readers will love learning about snowflakes, frostbite, emperor penguins and shivering bees.  There are 16 additional topics included in this packet as well!  For each non-fiction article student will practice finding the main idea and supporting details.  They will also get practice summarizing text, another important reading skill.  In addition to the articles and practice pages, you also receive a color-coded answer key for each activity!  That definitely helps you save time as you review the work!

main idea 3 main idea answer keys

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Just Add Words for January (K-8) This versatile writing set from Teaching in Blue Jeans will help all your writers no matter their grade level of ability.  Perfect for reluctant writers too!  Give your writers a starting point with these January themed picture writing prompts.  All picture prompts come with primary writing lines and standard writing lines so they can be used for anyone K-8.  Use these pages for many different styles of writing too, including narrative, expository, persuasive and how-to writing.  These can easily be added to a writing center or done as independent writing activities.  They are also great students to show what they have learned about a topic from science or social studies!  Here are two examples of writers using this packet at different writing levels.

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The Snowman Sight Word Reader
The Snowman Emergent Reader (Pre-K - 1) Help your budding readers learn those all important sight word with this emergent reader by Teaching in Blue Jeans.  This emergent reader is all about a snowman and focuses on the sight words 'look' and 'said.'  The book also reviews the sight words 'at,' 'my,' and 'the.'  The text is written a predictable pattern to help early readers find words and success in reading!  Young readers will love reading this book over and over again and you're likely to hear "I can read!"  This book can be used individually, with small group instruction or whole group instruction.


Screen Shot 2015-12-23 at 7.00.57 PMSnowflake Geometry (2-5) Teaching in Bronco Country is helping you make math fun with these geometry lessons.  You receive three geometry lessons that use snowflakes as the inspiration.  After students finish the math they use a snowflake craft to reinforce those geometry skills!
snowflake geometry

Teacher's Take-Out has made it easy for your students to practice and review their math skills with these Winter Equations task cards.  In the Top Picks for January Bundle you will receive 3 different sets of math task cards from Teacher's Take-Out.  The first set focuses on Single Digit Addition and Subtraction (K-2).   The second set focuses on Two Digit Addition and Subtraction (1-3).  The third set focuses on Multiplication and Division (3-6).  In each set you receive 30 task cards that gets students working on the specific math facts in question.  But these task cards are more than just math fact flash cards, the missing number is not always the answer.  This requires students to work at a higher level in order to complete the equations.

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New Year's Resolutions Writing Craftivity (K-5) Are you ready to teach your kids about the importance of setting goals?  New Year's is the perfect time for a goal setting lesson!  This resource from Teaching in Blue Jeans helps your learners brainstorm possible goals, plan how they will work towards them and then write about them.   This packet can be used by writers of all ages because each section is provided in multiple formats that have been designed for different writing levels.  After students finish writing they can make the display craft and their writing can then be displayed on the adorable New Year's boy, girl or cat.


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Martin Luther King, Jr. Biography Unit (2-5) This unit by The Third Wheel will help you complete a biography book study on Martin Luther King, Jr. using the book Who Was Martin Luther King, Jr?  After reading the book and completing the tri-fold book activities, students can show what they learned about Martin Luther King, Jr. using the mini-book research report.

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Martin Luther King, Jr. Lapbook (K-5) Right Down the Middle with Andrea provides you with this great hands-on lapbook for learning about Martin Luther King, Jr.  Students will research Martin Luther King, Jr. and then compile what they learned in this lapbook that features a timeline, his education, his contributions to the Civil Rights Movement and more.  Students are also inspired to learn from Dr. King's example and think about their own dreams.  Students will use language arts skills as well as social studies skills.

MLK Lapbook Picture 1

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Chinese New Year Burrito Book (K-5) Inside Bell's Brain created his fun burrito book for learning about Chinese New Year.  This fun and engaging project will have your students not only learning about the holiday, but also practicing key reading skills using informational text.  You get everything you need to complete this lesson in both color and black and white options so you can choose how much ink you want to use.
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The Geometric Beauty of Snowflakes (3-8) NatureGlo's eScience has put together this Top Pick that will grab your learners attention.  This in-depth look at snowflakes is fascinating and educational.  Your students will learn about snow crystal development, famous snow physicists' work and the varieties of snowflakes and their geometry.  You will receive 2 PowerPoint presentations as well as a 19 page activity guide that will guide you through this unit study.  In addition, this unit study includes links to the full course MathArt class website loaded with great resources including video tutorials, project and activity guides and more web resources.

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Polar Bears (K-5) This unit study on Polar Bears by Sweet Integrations will give you everything you need to learn all about polar bears.  Additionally, you receive a Power Point game and some language arts and math center activities with a polar bear theme.  The activities in this study are provided so that they hit various grade levels.  Use this in a homeschooling environment with multiple students or use in the classroom to differentiate for the needs of your students.

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All About Penguins (K-3) Proud to be Primary created this amazing unit on Penguins and it is sure to capture the attention of your learners.  Who doesn't love those fluffy, little birds.  Well, there's a lot more to learn about those amazing creatures.  You will receive 165 pages of science, reading and expository writing activities in this amazing penguin unit.  Your learners will learn all about penguins, their life cycle, important vocabulary and more!  Another Top Pick that is sure to make January lots of fun!

Arctic and Antarctica (K-2) One Room Schoolhouse provides you with this 63 page unit study on the Arctic and Antarctica. Included in this unit study are 2 non-fiction reading passages, science experiments, math activities, language arts activities and art activities.  Just another Top Pick that helps you reach many teaching standards in one set of activities.

Sunflower Education has put together two wonderful packet based on Weather World Records.  The first packet, World's Coldest Place (3-8) will teach your learners all about Polyus Nedostupnosti, Antarctica.  The second packet, World's Windiest Place (3-8) will teacher learners all about Port Martin, Antarctica.  In both sets you will receive non-fiction reading passages and activity sheets that will not only engage your reader but also help them practice important reading skills.

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To close out this amazing January bundle, Meredith Anderson provides you with 2 STEM Challenges.  STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math and is a great way for students to apply skills they have learned in a hands-on project that gets them thinking outside the box!  STEM Design Challenge #1 - Design a Transport Device (K-8) will have your kids engineering a transport device.  Although this project is not specifically tailored to winter, you could easily add that element by asking that the transport device be something that can be used in the snow.  STEM Design Challenge #2 - Design a Transmission Tower (K-8) will have your students creating a transmission tower.  Put a winter twist on this STEM project by telling your students that there has been an avalanche and they are needed to design a transmission tower in order to get help.  Each STEM Challenge provides all the instructions and workbooks your students will need to work through the engineering design process as they learn to create.  All that you have to provide are common classroom or household items.  Here's a little peek at what some other students created using these amazing resources.

design a transport device and power transmission tower - 2 engineering design challenge design a transport device and power transmission tower - 1

front of belt transport

So as you can see, this is an AMAZING bundle of educational resources for January.  I am so excited to not only be part of it, but to be able to share it with you.  I have no doubt that you can finish those lesson plans up quick with the amazing resources in this bundle AND that this will be a January full of fun, engaging activities that your students won't soon forget!  You can't find this bundle anywhere else, and, it won't be there long! Grab it while you can, because this bundle is only available through January 10.  But why wait, don't waste 10 days of January when you could be using these awesome resources today!
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