Sunday, November 16, 2014

5 for Funday?

Ok, I know I'm extremely tardy to the party BUT I have had a great week...(and I haven't often said that phrase this school year!) so I want to share some of the awesome stuff that's been happening :) 

We had our district assessments this week so I did a gallery walk for reviewing the steps of analyzing poetry.

Listen, if there is any "test strategy" I teach, it is the steps to reviewing and analyzing a poem. For the past 3 years they have proved worthwhile for helping students figure out what elements are in a poem, the author's message, etc. And because I like you people, I'll share my secret ;) 

 It is seriously that simple but we learn all the vocabulary and definitions of the various elements and poetry types early in the school year and then start analyzing by the second six weeks. I have my kids analyze lots of popular songs first because they find that a little more fun :) but then we move on to poems that are a little more "meaty". One tip: When identifying the speaker, I always tell my kids, don't write down the author's name...write down the type of person who would have authored this poem. 

I am a Texas girl. I love the unpredictability of Texas...this week it was 81 on Monday and all of our kids were in shorts and then Tuesday the high was 50..which in Texas means it's freezing so the next day they were all bundled up. I LOVE it. And now it's snowing...which means everyone is already crossing their fingers for no school tomorrow. ((Yea, yea, we know...Texans are winter wimps...but come talk to me in the summer when it's 110 and we're outside playing sports.)) :) 
Seriously. In November. In Texas. I am beside myself. I. LOVE. WINTER.
Fossil Ridge HS lost their playoff game on Friday which means football season is over and I have my hubs back!! :) I'm not a terrible person for being a little excited they lost, right? I mean, we all know they were never going to be state champs this year...
So remember how in #1 I told you we took our district assessments this week? Well I typically don't put a lot of emphasis on these tests (and I didn't this time either) because I'm not about to stress kids out over a little test. They have plenty of stress when it comes to the pass-or-repeat-5th grade STAAR test....
BUT...ya'll, I have 50 kids in my 2 gen. ed classes and I had a 90% passing rate!! I was stoked. They did such a good job analyzing those texts! :) 

 Ok, and now the most exciting part of my whole week. In our school district, the PTA (same as a PTO) always puts on a Jam The Gym Basketball tournament in the Spring and a Volleyball tournament in the Fall. If you know me AT ALL, you know I live and breathe volleyball. It is my happy place. But I don't get to play that much now that I'm teaching and a momma....but our school decided to put a team together with a few of us that like to play afterschool sometimes and WE.WON. We won the whole in we are the best (elementary teachers) volleyball team in Irving ISD. It was such a fun day spent with my Elliott family. We played hard but most importantly we played as a team. Shout out to my teammates: Rebekah, Jenn, Maria, Corinne, Mike, Warren, Jeremy, Tino and Fernando! In the words of Mr. Love, we GOT IT DONE!

Side note: Our final game was against Good Elementary which had an AWESOME team...and they also have awesome admin...they have BOTH of our old principals! :) It was almost like a family feud.
My cutie teaching partner Kristin stayed for most of the day--what a loyal fan! 

You guys have no idea how excited we were!! 

Check out the hardware! 

5 days until Thanksgiving Break. Let's do this, people! 

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Currently November

Listening: I love this new show. I don't even know why. I just do.
Loving: Volleyball. Me. It makes me super happy to be playing again...such a stress relief
Thinking: Need I say more?
Wanting: Also..yes, please. I wish I had one day (that wasn't on the weekend) to just work AT school. I could get so much accomplished. 
Needing: Football season is (sort of) winding down and I want a night with my man!
Reading: Listen, I read 3 books this weekend. 3. It was awesome. Now I'm reading the Geography of You and Me. I really like this author...because her books are sweet but also light hearted and sometimes that's just necessary! 

Yay me! It's the same week and I'm already linking up. I'm on top of things! (kind of..)
Head over to Farley's blog to see all the other amazing blogs! 

A Fresh Start :)

Man, what a better way to turn over a new leaf, than to be nominated for a Liebster Award?! I was nominated by Julie at Kindergarten to the Core...thanks, Julie! (PS. I'm totally jealous because she's a teacher in Hawaii...lucky!) 

1. Why and how long ago did you start blogging?
I'm pretty sure I've been blog-stalking for a while now. I think one of my very first blogs I found and returned repeatedly to was Farley's Oh Boy! Fourth Grade. She's awesome. I could spend days reading everything she's done...but I just started my own blog in February of this year..

2. What one word sums up the heart of your blog and whyWow. Tough question! I feel like the best word right now is perseverance. My blog was sort of started because I wanted an outlet to write down all the fun stuff that was going on in my room but I'm not always as consistent as I'd like to be. Perseverance applies to my bloggy life, my classroom philosophy and life in general :) 

3. Is there something you learned late in your blog journey you wished you knew before?I've only been blogging for like 8 months and 1/2 of that was summer and I haven't exactly been consistent lately so I'd have to say, the lesson I'm learning is that blogging is sort of therapeutic for me. I feel like it's a great release, so even when I'm's not necessarily another item on the To-Do list but more on the "Want-To-Do" list. 

4. What is your favorite past time other than blogging?reading, shopping, playing volleyball 

5. How many hours per week do you dedicate to your blog?...can I plead this 5th this month? 

6. What category of blog posts do you enjoy the most?
I love me some ELAR blogs...anything Farley does, Michelle at BigTimeLiteracy was so inspirational to me this summer with her blogging challenge, and my fav non-teacher blog to follow is Mix and Match Momma. Shay Shull is the bomb.

7. Where does your blog inspiration come from
Gosh, I guess the blogs I already mentioned...those girls seem to write like they talk, and I'm all about that..I also am a fan of Kristin at My Carolina Classroom

8. Which post that you've written are you most proud of?
Gosh... probably my Reading Review folder, my Wizard of Oz in the classroom or maybe just the consistency of my posts for the blogging challenge this summer!

9. Is there any post you have been planning to do, but have postponing it for a while now? I would eventually like to do a blog post about my anchor charts or my students' reading journals which I feel like I have FINALLY (this year) utilized the way I always envisioned them being used. But I want to see how the rest of the semester works out...stay tuned! 

10. What is your favorite aspect of blogging?
Meeting other educators and sharing ideas. ((I totally agree Julie!)) 

11. Which recipe, project, or idea on my blog would you be most likely to try yourself?
Well I am a 5th grade teacher so alot of the Kinder stuff doesn't directly apply BUT I have a bestie who is a kinder teacher so I'm always looking for links to send her way :)

Ok, my nominees: 
Heather @ the Meek Moose (she was my first SLANT Box buddy)
Colleen @ Literacy Loving Gals
Carrie @ #HashtagFifth
Kayla @ Texas Teaching Fanatic
Angela @ Southern Fried Teachin
Nicole @ Going Places in Fourth Grade
*Ok, I can't find 11 at the moment and I really want to put blogs on here that I actually follow :)

Now that you've been nominated, here are the "official" rules for accepting:
1. In your post, link back to the blogger who nominated you as a thank you and "shout out."
2. Answer the 11 questions given to you (the ones I answered above).
3. Nominate 11 blogs of your choice that each have less than 200 followers. Provide them with 11 questions to answer or have them answer the questions above.
4. Let your nominees know that they've been nominated and provide them with a link to your post so that they can accept.
5. Send your nominator a link to your post so that s/he can learn more about you as well! (You can just put your post link in the comments below!)

PS. This week is already better. I have awesome people that I work with. Truly amazing teachers and encouraging people from Kinder to 5th. Shout out to Gabby Lopez for being an encouragement (even when you may not have even realized it!) last week. :) 
Also, 13 school days until Thanksgiving. just sayin... 

Monday, October 27, 2014

An Honest and Transparent a defeated teacher

It has been 22 days since my last blogpost. Over 3 weeks. This year is an absolute beating. I can't even pinpoint anything specific but my year includes the most difficult group of students I've ever seen come through my school (that's in my 5 years as a teacher and 3 years prior to that as a sub) upper admin who has a policy of "push, push, and push harder" and then there's my #1 priority: my fam. 
I'll be the first to admit that having a child has changed me. I mean, it's absolutely wonderful but I no longer can (not that I really want to) stay after school until 7pm. I want to be home with my baby. He will only be this little for a blink of an eye. 

ANYWAY...I have been having a r.o.u.g.h. year. I'm feeling very uninspired and I am so NOT used to this feeling. :( But...before this turns into a total pity party...let me tell you an "a-ha" I had this weekend. 

1. My job is to love (and maybe even teach) the "lost causes". So many of my kids [unfortunately] know that they have been passed from grade to grade simply because no one wants to teach them "again". They are low low low and don't care because they always "pass". Not this year. We have work to do and we will get it done. 

2. I refuse to be drained in my 5th year of teaching. Granted, I have picked up my bad Dr. Pepper habit again and I am eating junk food like nobody's business...but I. will. not. let these kids take away the love I have for my job. 

So, its a daily struggle. As in, those people who hashtag #thestruggleisreal have NO IDEA what struggle is until they step into my 2nd period class. But. I will not let them win. 

Also, to be clear, I have like 60% of my students who are wonderful...the other 40% will learn to be wonderful. 

Thanks for letting me vent and I promise to try to blog ((more positive things)) more often in November! 

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Currently...yes, I am a blogging failure

Y'all. I am having one of those years. I feel like I am never "caught up" and unfortunately that means my poor ole blog suffers. But I promise I haven't been a sucky teacher...look, I'll kind of prove it! ;) 

Recognize anyone on there?! I am thrilled to be (one of) the Teachers of the Month at my school. It's even sweeter to share the title with my beautiful friend, Esther! [You may recognize her from my vacation pics--I told you I work and PLAY with awesome people.]

Anyway, sorry for my total slackage on the blog but I am trying my best to figure out the best way to balance my 78 10 year olds, my one year old and the rest of my life :) 
\PS. This pic totally speaks to me right now...

Football season. You gotta love it. and it's ok to hate it sometimes. ;) [[However I will say, the hubs has totally rocked at trying to balance football life and home life...we are just spoiled since we all spent 24/7 with each other this summer.]]

Ok, on to my Currently! I'm tardy for the party but better late than never! 

Listening: It's Sunday. I'm married to a coach. I live in Texas. #footballislife
Loving: We lost power in a storm on Thursday afternoon and it didn't come back on until Friday afternoon. And it's still 85+ in Texas.
Thinking: I'm typically not a countdown kind of teacher. I love my job. But this year has been...challenging. and Mama needs a break. 
Wanting: I mean, like I said...challenging year. I am fairly certain a pedicure, massage and shopping spree would make me feel better. Pretty sure. 
Needing: I can't catch up. I need longer days or just a good solid work day. 
Trick or Treat: TREAT!! The English AND Spanish versions of my Reading Review folder are on sale for the next week :) Enjoy!! 

Alright, that's all I got! 

Sunday, September 14, 2014

A Peek at My Week 9.14.2014

Man. I have been working steadily (with a few interruptions by an adorable one year old) since about 5 on STUFF. My To-Do list is already out of control and it's not even Monday. {sigh} 

Now, you may be thinking "What in the world is a bathroom reader?!" Well this summer, while participating in "Pedicures and Planning"--my favorite way to vertical team, btw--we decided our students LOVE to spend time in the bathroom. TMI I know, but it's the truth. So we are pulling articles, poems, and stories and posting them in the bathroom for our darlings who like to camp out in the bathroom. What else do they have to do in there?! ;) 

This week I also have All Day Planning which is just as amazing as it sounds. Once a six weeks, we get the whole day to plan with our grade level. We analyze data, create or tweak unit plans for the next six weeks, create lesson plans, write assessments, etc. My grade level ALWAYS gets a ton done on these days. Yes, it stinks to have to be out of the classroom but the amount of work accomplished is 100000% worth it. Tonight, in order to expedite our time together on Thursday, I worked on Reading Unit Plans for our gen ed and GT classes.
If you haven't figured out a way to unit plan, hit me up. I have it down to a science, thanks to my fabulous friend and resident Academic Specialist, Danna. After a few years of cranking out these babies, I am almost an expert. I list out all the standards first (TEKS in Texas...) so I know what I have to teach in the six weeks, then I bundle as necessary and use one of those cheap lesson plan books from Target or a teacher store to plan out the six weeks. Later this week, my bilingual counterpart, Mrs. D and I will sit down and crank out some {{hopefully}} awesome lessons for our 5th graders. 

Alright, what else is on the menu this week? Parent Info Night in Tuesday...all the parents come and get the info about expectations, conferences, tutoring, field trips, and everything else they ever wanted to know. Also, I'm so happy to be getting into the "real" schedule of things (mini-lesson, guided groups, etc.). We are starting literary texts this week so you loyal readers know what book I'll be busting out::: the WIZARD OF OZ!! Cant. Wait. It's always my fav thing to teach!! 

OH! AAAND I am SOOO looking forward to next Saturday. My little fam has been invited to the NICU reunion at the hospital J was born. Although our time in the NICU was short (12 days) compared to many families, when you have to leave your little one in the hands of someone else, they immediately become family. I can't wait to see J's nurses that took such good care of him when mommy and daddy had to go home at night. {{Just the thought of it has me almost in tears again..}} 

Alright, that's it. Have a wonderful week, ya'll! See ya soon :) 
Love, Caitlin

Friday, September 12, 2014

PTL it's Friday! 9.12.2014

Ya'll. It's only the 3rd week of school and I'm ready for Christmas break. But seriously. 

That is SOOO not like me.

I love school and usually it's the end of October before I'm feeling the necessity of a break...but this year is kicking my tail! My to-do list is forever long and even when I mark stuff off, I don't feel like I'm getting stuff "done". Am I the only one?! So here it goes...

  I have some amazing students this year...but I have some others who love to test me and my partner teachers. Any bloggers out there have tips or articles on defiant children? I'm needing some help here, peeps! 

 This week I went to INOVA training. It is a data organization system (I mean, its really more than that but I spent a whole day at a training on statistics and the math behind using data to anticipate student achievement on state testing...) ANYWAY, it was very interesting and I can't wait to spend time getting to know the program better. {I'm not even being sarcastic here...I love analyzing data} 

#truth. It's FINALLY feeling like Fall in Texas! Today it was in the dropped over 30 degrees in the last 24 hours and some of you would crack up at the attire of Texans. We totally broke out the scarves and sweatshirts. Don't judge...

I am desperately wanting a full week to teach. Are ya'll with me? Between trainings, picture day, Labor Day, beginning of year testing, library days, etc. I have YET to teach a full 5 days in a week. It's hard to get into a routine when we always have "stuff". This week I did manage to finish our genre studies using the book Genre Connections. Ya'll, I am in love with this book. Teaching the genres with concrete objects is so easy and the kids seem to actually get it! We also reviewed poetry types v. elements and had a gallery walk where students worked in partners to analyze poems to determine their type and the elements (rhyme, rhythm, rhyme scheme, number of stanzas, meter, etc.) I guess even with hectic schedules, we ARE still learning :) 

Today is my baby's birthday!! I officially have a one year old! :) 

Friday, September 5, 2014

5 for Friday and Classroom Reveal

Is it just me or is the 2nd week of school the worst?! I mean, you are not exactly in the routine yet, it's a 4 day week and the novelty of the new school year has worn off. Also, by the 2nd week of school, I'm officially behind on the zillions of things on my to-do list. Such as "blogging". :( Anyway, I didn't want to miss one of my favorite linky parties! So I'm combining some things :) 

Today I got my first SLANT Box! My new friend Ashley from CANADA sent me all kinds of  cute stuff...I didn't get a pic of the contents but she basically got all my favs...candy, supplies, magnets, pens, and a subtle invite to Canada during the summer. [[Any more 100+ degree days and I may be making my way sooner rather than later!]]

This pic is from the first day of school. The kids in my 3rd class of the day begged for independent reading time. I NEVER deny independent reading time! 

My little Jacksie Bear is going to be ONE in one week. We had an early birthday with his great grandparents last week and my talented cousin made this adorable rubber ducky cake. It is too darn cute. Jackson wasn't actually interested in the feeding-himself part but he loved the icing and cake.   

Welcome to my University of North Texas themed classroom! We are MEAN GREEN'd out and I am so proud. :) Listen, I LOVED college. LOVE Denton, TX and LOVE UNT. I am thrilled to represent UNT. [[Our school is part of the No Excuses University network, so every classroom is a university and no repeats are allowed---I have been another university of 4 years but finally I get to be my alma mater!]]  

 This is the view from the door. It has been said that my classroom looks like a bag of Skittles exploded. I'm okay with that. I am all about color :) The bulletin board above the library area is for book recommendations but I am still trying to figure out how I want to do that because I want the recommendations to come from the kids but I also want to be able to provide them too. I'll get to it...eventually. 

 The bulletin boards over the computers are where my anchor charts for the unit will be housed. Right now we are "Launching Reading Workshop" [Fountas and Pinnell style + Comprehension Connections style!] so I have my Reading Is Thinking up as well as my Reading Salad anchor chart. 

If you can't read the "title" of the boards, it says "Read like a Writer, Write like a Reader". We usually talk about what that means and why Mrs. Andrews would want to put that up on the wall. :) Anyway, hopefully this will be filled with anchor charts galore in the coming weeks as we start our study of literary texts (my favorite!) 

So the top picture of my classroom library area is dark because I took it in the afternoon when the sun was shining through my big window. I LOVE having a giant window and I do all my whole group teaching on the floor while I sit in BIG JOE (the green chair--available at Walmart!). The only drawback to the window is that we don't actually have blinds, and we aren't supposed to have curtains unless they are flame-retardant SOOO I don't have curtains....And when other classes go to recess, we sometimes get distracted.
And I have a Christmas tree. In September. But it's really a UNT tree so it doesn't count as Christmas decor and even if it did, I love it and my kids love reading by the tree. :) 
Picture books, myths and biographies on this shelf
Fiction books :) ..don't know why I didn't snap a pic of my nonfiction shelf but that collection isn't as extensive. 

This is "my" area. I have files I need on a daily basis, teacher materials, supplies, my phone, laptop, etc. and on the tall black bookshelf, I keep my guided reading/literature circle materials for all 3 classes (79 students!). 

There you have it, room 410. Where we get down to the business of reading! 

I've shown you my room but I have to share these other cutie rooms from teachers on my campus. The first one is our 2nd grade Gifted/Talented classroom, Ms. Hamilton's class! Leta is like the queen of cute. Her shabby chic classroom is adorable. I want to be her student and read in the library area with the clouds! How cute is this?! 

Right inside the door (She was still decorating)

Leta's teacher desk area
I totally stole this pic from Leta's FB but how cute is she?! Are you at all surprised by the cuteness of her room when you see how adorable she is? Bonus: She is the sweetest too. Glad you're at Elliott, Leta! 

Next classroom: one of my besties, Emily! We have been friends since 2nd grade when we went to Elliott together. (We are teaching at our old school!) She teaches Kinder and it has to be the cleanest, most organized kindergarten class in the world. And it even smells good. I'm not sure what kind of crazy magic she does every afternoon, but it ALWAYS looks this clean before she leaves. 
View from the door!
Library and supplies area plus the word wall
Calendar/Whole Group Area
 This is Emily. Isn't she cute too? I love having one of my longest and most wonderful friends on my campus but since we teach completely OPPOSITE groups (she's Kinder, I'm 5th) we hardly ever see each other during the day! 

Alright, thanks for sticking with the longest 5forFriday EVER. Check out the linky party for first/second week stories and other fun stuff! 
Hope you have a wonderful weekend :)