Saturday, October 31, 2015

Five for Friday..Halloween Style

Happy Halloween!

It's been a week full of excitement, sugar, costumes, sugar, full moons, sugar, parties...did I mention sugar?  Sugar was definitely involved and LOTS of it.  Of course the sugar came from the Halloween party and because we don't want to violate TOO many rules we politely packed it ALL up and sent it home with our students for the weekend =).

Seriously though, it was a fun week.

 Can you tell what my costume is?? It's so disappointing because most of the time none of my students can figure out my costume.  If you can't tell by my enormous red collar, I'm a vampire.  I did have some vampire teeth that one of my teacher friends gave me but those things were painful and I had a very hard time talking so I had to take them out.  My students really don't care what my costume is they just love to see me dressed up.  My teaching assistant came as a deer hunter and it was so adorable.  In all of the excitement we forgot to take a picture so you'll just have to suffer through the one of me.  I had black heels on but I had to swap them out for the parade.
I decided this year I was going to buy a individual laminating machine.  I'm a laminating fool as are most elementary teachers, especially those in primary grades.  I use our school laminating machine most of the time but I usually try to save up a big job and then do it at all once.  There are still times when I have just a couple of things that I really need to laminate and use ASAP so I bought one.

I have two words people....GOOD GRACIOUS!  This thing is amazing.  I used it for the first time this week.  My neighbor teacher helped me figure it out and then laughed hysterically at my amazement of this tiny machine of wonder.  I'm telling you it's FANTASTIC.  This one was about $40 from Staples which I thought was great because most mini laminators I've seen are around $100.  If you don't have one..GET ONE!  
We had a visit from the Fire Department this week to talk to our Kindergarten classes about fire safety.  Our students really enjoyed them.  I have to say I was really impressed by their program.  They read our classes a story, showed them all of the fire fighting suits and equipment, and gave them a tour of the fire truck.  They were also very patient because 5 year olds ask A LOT of questions.  

Of course Friday was our Halloween party/parade day.  It's always a crazy day but our students had so much fun and had a lot of goodies.  My favorite part of the day is our parade.  There is a nursing home located down the street from our school and every year we walk to the nursing home and make a loop through the building.  It's usually around lunch time and many of the residents are in the front lobby and the dinning room and are able to see our kids all dressed up in their costumes.  Sometimes our kids are a little shy but they give them treat bags and candy and they enjoy that.  The residents really love to see them all dressed up.  I can tell how happy it makes them and I love sharing that experience with my students.  

Today ends the month of October and the end of breast cancer awareness month.  However I will be incredibly aware of breast cancer for at least the next 6 months as my mom continues through her treatments and I want to share our experiences with others.  

A friend of mine from school recommended this book to me.  It came in the mail yesterday and I'm really excited to start reading it.  I'll let you know how it goes but I wanted to share it because it might be a good resource for someone else as well.  

So that's a wrap for Halloween week 2015.  Tonight is trick or treating for most of the neighborhoods around here so watch out for all of the little witches, princesses, ninjas, minions, and superheros as they gather their last tons of candy! 

Have a great Halloween! 

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Five for Friday..Think Pink style

Happy weekend!

I want to start by saying I've always enjoyed my weekends but I've enjoyed my weekends even MORE once I started teaching.  It's been a tough week at school and I'm especially grateful for this weekend.  I'm looking forward to a break, some football, and hopefully finding my Halloween costume!  October is breast cancer awareness month so I hope this post also helps you become a little more aware of all the amazing things going on the breast cancer world.  Here's what's been going on.

We've been mastering the art of math centers.  My reading class has a heavy focus on center rotations and up until this year I thought there was no way I could balance math centers AND reading centers in the same day.  A lot of my students spent last year in preschool so they like moving around and doing different activities and it's really worked for them.  I love when I look around and see such intense focus and learning.

The breast cancer center where my mom is being treated hosted a Survivors Luncheon this past Sunday and I took my mom.  It was a really nice afternoon.  I think they said around 200 women who are currently being treated or are celebrating being cancer free were in attendance.  After both surgeons briefly spoke we were introduce to the special guest speaker Betty Puskar, a cancer survivor and the driving force behind building the breast cancer facility.  They had a question and answer session with surgeons, oncologist, plastic surgeon, and a few other doctors and nurses.  The program concluded with some door prizes and recognition of the most recent survivor as well as the longest survivor in attendance. The most recent survivor is my mom.  We weren't expecting that but I love their attitude towards "surivorship".  It doesn't matter where you are in breast cancer journey, if you're living you're surviving.  What a great motto!  I can't say enough wonderful things about this place.

 I posted earlier this week about my mini reader dilemmas and how I solved my own problem by making my own mini readers.  I was so excited about my success I decided to open a teachers pay teachers store and share it with others. You can read about my dilemmas and excitements HERE.  If you do happen to check it out I would love some feedback.  I'm new to this which means I'm basically clueless.
Wednesday, October 21st was not only Back to the Future day but also national BRA Day.  BRA stands for Breast Reconstruction Awareness.  Many breast cancer patients undergo major surgery as part of their cancer treatment and there is a HUGE movement concerning breast reconstruction and helping women look and feel like their normal selves once their treatments have concluded.

On Wednesday evening my cousin Kaitlyn and I went to the Lakehouse for dinner and to celebrate BRA day. Several restaurants in the area where donating proceeds that night to help women who can not afford breast reconstruction.  It just so happened that the breast cancer center was also at the Lakehouse.  They had a huge party in the back and many of them had on black t-shirts with a pink bra on the front.  I can't tell you how encouraging it was to be there and to see my moms surgeon walking around in her pink bra t-shirt.  Kaitlyn and I also met our friend Jordan, her mom, and their friend Valarie who is also a breast cancer survivor.  We had a really great time.

(from left to right Jordan's mom Jennifer, myself, Kaitlyn, Jordan, and Valarie)
This has been a tough week for me at school.  Trying your absolute hardest to do the right thing for 22 Kindergartens can be a difficult and draining task.  My mom got me a little "pick me up" present for my long week and it was the most perfect gift ever. 
Do you recognize that little girl?  She's Virginia from Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.  I will admit I'm one of those people who refuses to celebrate one holiday before another one begins or ends but I'm so excited to read this book to my class and to have Virginia there with us.  Thanks mom!

Wow! What a week! So many things going on, so much awareness, and I'm so grateful to share what I'm learning with my mom with all of you.  Before my mom was diagnosed I personally was very unfamiliar with breast cancer.  I've learned so much and if I can leave you with one piece of advice I would say please don't avoid your yearly screening, ask tons of questions, and check to make sure your doctors office has advanced, updated equipment.  The biggest advantage we have over cancer of any kind is early detection.  The latest technology and equipment at the breast cancer centers are helping to detect cancer causing cells EARLIER THAN EVER.  I'll also be sharing more as we continue through this process so if you have any questions please don't hesitate to ask me.  I don't have all of the answers and everyone's case is different but I will certainly do my best to point you in the right direction.

That was my week, how was yours?  

Monday, October 19, 2015

Dilemmas, Dilemmas, Dilemmas

Believe it or not, last week was pretty eventful.  I spent all weekend trying to slowly throw together my Five For Friday post.  It basically went like this.  Five for Friday...Five for Friday Saturday Style...Five for Friday on Sunday..Five for Forget it.  I'm trying so hard to learn that when it's not meant to be it's not meant to be but the perfectionist in me just hates to let it go.

So that was dilemma number 1.  Being too distracted to finish my favorite weekly post.  I had good reason though.  My brother was visiting from out of town and my mom had her first dose chemotherapy on Friday.  I've mentioned before that she was diagnosed at the beginning of the school year with breast cancer.  We are a family of educators so the beginning of the school year is absolute insanity for everyone.  Throw in a cancer diagnosis on top of that and you have insanity on speed.  I have a picture us at her treatment on Friday.  My mom has the best attitude.  We have vowed to make this horrible experience as fun as we possible can so we are finding ways to laugh to have fun in the face of cancer.  This is picture of us at her treatment on Friday.
They've given her an excellent prognosis.  It's amazing how far cancer treatment has come just in the last few years, especially breast cancer.  If you don't know much about it you should really find out.  And of course I'm becoming an expert myself so I will be your friendly guide.  Stay tuned!

Next dilemma.

We have a new reading series this year.  Before our district was voted on which program to adopt last year I took a look at some of the samples that each company delivered.  I really liked the series that the county chose to adopt because it had a lot of resources and I recognized a couple of the names of researchers who had contributed to it.  What I didn't realize at the time was that the Kindergarten set was missing one very important element. 

In the last couple of years our old reading series came with small paper readers.  We used them to help students practice their sight words and as the year went on the books expanded from sight words to sight and cvc words so they could practice their sounds as well.  We would practice the books at school in small group and then we would send them home to read.  It was a great system.

This year...not so much.  No mini readers....I repeat...NO. MINI. READERS.  What?!?! I had a slight panic attack when I realized we were without readers...FOR THE NEXT SEVEN YEARS and I had no clue what I was going to do.  So I decided to make my own.  I've made of my own resources in the past but I actually thought this one was pretty good AND my students love it because we are still in the "beginning of the year" and they insisted to me when I first showed them the books that they couldn't read and what do you know in about 5 minutes...they could!  Forgive me..this is probably the first successful thing I've done in..well..I'm not really sure how long..maybe forever?  Who knows.  All I'm saying is that we had a problem and I'm pretty sure I solved it.  It's such a victory in a world where you can solve so little problems.  

SO.  Now that I'm beaming with success from my whopping ONE teaching item, I decided to share it on teachers pay teachers.  Why? Well I was asking myself that same thing as I was trying to load it on the site and reading all of the checklists and promising that I was indeed NOT just giving away someone else's idea.  Then I thought to I?  I hope not.  This is something that worked for me and I thought maybe there was someone else out there like me that it would work for too.  So check it out and let me know.'s FREE.  It's a win, win for everyone.  Here is my page The Very Unlikely Teacher.  

I hope the results of my mini reader dilemma helps you solve a little dilemma in your classroom.  
Happy Monday!