Thursday, July 31, 2014

I'm Still Alive...I promise!

I hate that I have been MIA this week but I have been enjoying family vacay with my hubby's family. We went to this beautiful house in East Bernard, TX (also known as the Middle of Nowhere). Total we had 8 adults and 4 children under the age of 3. (If you want to take a moment and appreciate how brave we are, go ahead.) The kids kept us BUSY (apparently they don't know that vacation sleep-in is not 6:30...) but we had a blast swimming and hanging out together. Today we even ventured to the beach (Matagorda Bay) which was horrible draining great. ...Imagine 1000 degree sand and carrying small children, a canopy, towels, toys and food for everyone...then imagine walking at least 100 yards doing so. 

Anyway, while on vacay I was so sad to miss the last few days of the blogging challenge so I'm picking my fav prompt from the week and answering it :) 
Day 30: Create a Someday List

Professional Stuff:
-Create more fabulous TPT items
-Blog and make connections with other teacher bloggers 
-Present at more staff meetings (I don't love it, but I know its a prerequisite skill for the rest of my list)
-Get my Masters in Curriculum and Instruction
-Become an Academic Specialist 
-Possibly become a ELA or GT coordinator for my district

-Go back to Europe (this time taking my hubs and baby) 
-Lose the rest of the baby weight 
-Have another baby
-Coach club volleyball 

I love the idea of putting my someday list somewhere so that it holds me more accountable. I'm sure I have other things on my list but after the beach today, my brain (and skin) is fried. 

In other news: Teachers Pay Teachers is putting on their back to school sale and I can't wait to participate (as a seller and buyer!) 

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Blogging Challenge: My Mentor

Shopping Trip!
I have been blessed to have an AMAAAZING mentor right across the hallway from me. Her name is Danna Torrell and she is beautiful, sweet and happens to be the Literacy Queen. She is our Academic Specialist (sort of like the head literacy coach at our school). Also, she happens to be one of my nearest and dearest friends. 

Listen, Danna is amazing. As in, with her careful guidance, our 4th graders have consistently scored #1 in our district (out of 20) on the Writing STAAR (and before, TAKS) test. I can teach my kids writing and then they hear it from Ms. Torrell and it's like God himself spoke the words. Elliott students LOVE Danna. She is patient and genuinely cares about all of the 700+ students in our little school. 
This is us in Vegas with some other fabulous teacher friends.
And writing isn't her only specialty, she is an amazing reading teacher too! I wish I had known her when she was still in the classroom because I hear stories about how everyone in her class was always calm and quiet, writing poetry and discussing literature. And they were 3rd graders. I can't even imagine! 

Danna has taught me so much..not just about teaching or doing literature circles or analyzing data and tailoring instruction to student needs...Danna has taught me how to be positive and uplifting in the workplace (and in life!). I try to make my conversations with students more intentional and I love hearing Danna ask kids questions about things that matter. Anyway. I love my D! Danna, thank you for everything you have taught me and I value our friendship so much. Can't wait to face all the changes at Elliott this year because I know I have such a positive friend in a leadership role. DON'T EVER LEAVE US!! :) 

Link up to share about your mentors! 

My favorite thing about my career

Today's topic for the blogging challenge is to tell our favorite thing about our career. I could say its the large paychecks, awesome insurance, and wide-spread appreciation we receive..but we all know I'd be lying. :) 
I love my job. 
But the BEST part, is being that teacher for kids. The teacher who works tirelessly to find even one book they like (and then all of the sudden they are a voracious reader!), the teacher who tries 345632 methods to help them understand math, the teacher who has high expectations, dishes out consequences, offers praise and does so much for each kid that they start calling you "Mom". I love being that teacher. Yes, it's a ton of work. And yes, we don't get thanked often enough...but those kids know. 
I teach 5th grade. They stink, they are sarcastic and they are hormonal. And I love it. When my silly boys or ridiculous girls come and give me a hug or ask if they can come early to "hang out" with melts my heart. Just thinking about it [almost] has me willing to skip the last week or so of summer vacay so I can hurry back to my big babies. 

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

A [very] Hot Tuesday

So today started off..sweaty. Our AC went out last night :( It was 86 in my house before the AC guy got here at 2...thank goodness it's been unusually "cool" this summer in Texas so it didn't hit 100 today or I would have been dying. Literally.dying. As it was, we spent 2 hours at the pool with one of my besties and her baby and then Jackson and I went shopping while my hubs waited on the repair man. I don't do the whole "no-AC" thing. It's not for me. {If you don't live in a state where AC is a requirement in order to survive, you're probably thinking I'm ridiculous..but spend a summer here and you will understand!} As my dad texted me today "AC is a must in TX. and sno cones". Words of wisdom from my pops. :) 

Anyway, today I'm reading my blog feed on Bloglovin' and guess what I see?! My own darling little UNT wreath on the Big Time Literacy blog. People...I got a shout out. This means I'm Big Time--right?! ;) 

Today's Big Time Blogging Challenge is to share a story from college. 
Listen. I LOVED college. I would go back in a heartbeat [although being married and having a baby would probably change things]. I loved my roommates. I loved school-duh. And I absolutely loved the city of Denton, TX. It is a hidden gem. So it's hard to think of one "story" from college but one of the first ones that popped into my head, is about my bestie, Allison. Allison and I have known each other since we were 2 years old, in daycare at church together. We went to elementary, middle, high school and lived 3 years together in college. Allison had started liking this boy we knew from church and we were all kind of friends. Unknown to Allison, he was totally interested in her too and they were both talking to be about it on AIM. {Flashback...gotta love AOL Instant Messenger!} Anyway, he told me he was going to call and ask her on a date...she was in her bedroom at our apt and I was in mine. I told him to give me 1 minute and I hid outside her bedroom and listened to her side of the phone call. The minute she hung up, she comes flying out of her room yelling "Caitlin!" and almost ran into me. Now...they are married. And are inner city missionaries in Los Angeles. :) Check them out here and here
[I know this is not like a career-altering moment of college...but it was so fun and such a girly bff moment. Sometimes I miss living with my girls!]

That's all I've got for today..I've been slaving away on TpT projects that also happen to be my beginning of the year stuff for myself. BUT, I did post this giant bundle of chalkboard themed stuff. All kinds of things to keep you super organized but also, way cute! Check it out! 
Ultimate Chalkboard Themed Classroom Bundle
Can't wait to link up tomorrow and tell you my favorite thing about my career. Spoiler: It's not summer vacation.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Happy Monday!

Hey ya'll! I can't believe it's already another Monday! I only have 2 more weeks before some of our PD starts, football starts (so I only see my hubs every once in while since he is a coach), and the "routine" gets back to some sort of "normal". You know what? I'm kind of looking forward to it! The new school year is such a fun time (yes, stressful) because you get to re-evaluate everything (from classroom decor to lessons). I love the fresh start! 

Since I am sneaking in one last vacation in between PDs, I have to have everything ready to go by the first week in August so that moving back into my class and unpacking/decorating/making copies/all that stuff can be done in 2-3 days. YIKEEEES! I guess the good part of that is that I have awesome new stuff for my TpT store :) 

Alright, this post was short and sweet--I'm off to hit that "to-do" list. :) 

Friday, July 18, 2014

Blogging Challenge: Day 18

Hey ya'll! If you are from Texas or know anyone in Texas, chances are, you have heard about how AMAZING our weather is today! It's 72 degrees. In July. That's a full 30 degrees cooler than we could expect normally. I am sooooo loving this! It has given me major fall fever...I want to pull out all of my pumpkins, light my fall candles and leave the windows up the rest of the day. Of course, that won't really happen until October probably but today, I am feeling the fall love! 

Todays BTBC prompt is: What are your teacher “must have” items you buy at the beginning of each school year?

Hello my name is Caitlin and I have a major school supply addiction. As in, I buy more school supplies than jewelry and shoes combined. [[that's a lot!]] My must-haves are like an entire shopping list so I am going to just talk about my top 5 :) 

1. These pens

They are amazing. They write so smoothly, don't smear (I'm a lefty and I have the true curse of smearing pens, markers, etc.) They are my favorite and pretty much the only pen I ever want to write with. 
Staples® OptiFlow™ Rollerball Pens, Fine Point, Assorted, 6/Pack
2. Crates. 
The bright colorful happy ones from Walmart or Target. I use them for EVERYTHING. Student journals, supplies, professional books, classroom library books (nonfiction, picture books, etc.). At last count I had like 20 crates in my room. Don't judge. 
Room Essentials™ Milk Crate - Brilliant CoralRoom Essentials™ Milk Crate - Turquoise

3. Renuzit Air Fresheners. 
I teach 5th grade. We have PE at the very beginning of the day. 5th graders smell. :/
We aren't "allowed" to have plug ins ---laaaame--so these bad boys do the trick. People say it makes my room smell like Skittles :)
Renuzit Fresh Picked Collection Gel Air Freshner Raspberry 7 oz

4. Sharpies. Because, duh. 
Sharpie® Fine Point Permanent Markers, Assorted Colors, 24/Pack

5. Golf Pencils
I don't know about you, but my students practically eat pencils. Or maybe they actually eat them. I don't know. What I DO know is that we blow through pencils almost as fast as Klennex. Solution: golf pencils. It's amazing how well they can keep track of these little guys...and at least I don't worry about them losing brand new pencils. :) 
Dixon® 3 1/2in. Pre-sharpened Golf Pencils, #2 Soft, 144/Box

There you have must haves! :) Can't wait to see what everyone else shares about their faves. 

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Womp Womp

I had aspirations of finishing my classroom jobs bundle for Tpt but that didn't happen. HOWEVER, this did: 

I finally finished my morning work set for the first six weeks! Whoo hoo! I realized that today that since we have Specials 15 minutes after the bell rings AND my kids in breakfast in the classroom AND there are always late arrivals AND I will have kids in Safety Patrol...this little gem will actually probably be used in stations when I am meeting with small groups. BUT, it's done and that's all that matters. :) 
And because I'm so nice :) I have decided that other hardworking teachers need their first six weeks of morning work/station work done too. So, check out what topics the first six weeks covers: 

There are 6 weeks worth of these bad boys :) As I add the other six weeks throughout the school year, I'll keep you updated AND of course, my fabulous friend, Mrs. D is going to translate it into Spanish so...your bilingual teaching friends won't want to miss that! [Especially if they teach 4-6 grade!]

Check it out! I promise I'll work on the Classroom Jobs stuff if some of you are interested in's just nice to be done with stuff, ya know?! :) Have a good night ya'll! 

Day 17: Classroom Management Strategy

Day 17 of the blogging challenge:
Share a great classroom management strategy

If there is one thing I think works well in my classroom, its my classroom jobs. Here's the deal...I don't do anything in my classroom that students can do for themselves. I give my students the responsibilities of "running" our class smoothly. I'm hoping to have my Classroom Jobs bundle up on TpT by this evening (when my little monster goes to bed!) but I thought I'd leave you with the list of things I have jobs for:

-cleaning up breakfast (we have breakfast in the classroom as part of a Title 1 grant) 
-passing out journals, folders, supplies, etc.
-picking up supplies
-checking if homework is completed
-collating papers in alphabetical order (ain't nobody got time for that!) 
-keeping the classroom library in order
-turning on/off lights
-opening doors
-checking for badges and uniform (we wear polos and khaki/navy bottoms in our district) 
-managing time and the calendar
-resetting the room between transitions
-cleaning the room
-"paying" people for their jobs 
-taking care of handouts and notes for absent students
-taking attendance
-"fixing" any minor technology issues 
-anything else I need :) 

By the time students are in 3rd grade and older, they can and need some actual responsibilities in the classroom. I "pay" my kids every other week [I've previously used tickets but I'm considering Beth Newingham's flipbook with tally marks]. If you want the whole "treasure box", go for it but I have students use their tickets for pencils (do they EAT those things?!), extra trips to their locker (for who knows what...), misbehaving, not being in uniform, etc. OR if they want to spend their tickets on awesome stuff like pencil erasers, lunch in the classroom with the best teacher ever, extra time on the computer, stuff like that, they can! Many other teachers always comment on how my classroom is like a well-oiled machine and that's because I don't do anything but TEACH :) ok, and all that other stuff we have to do...but when the kids are there, I shouldn't be wasting my time passing out papers and running to hold doors open for them. Here's the key to my jobs...I only {sometimes} change them at the semester mark. Yep, the kids have the jobs for 4-5 months. Let's be honest, in the real world, do we change jobs every week? Hopefully why would you do it in your classroom? Many times, by the semester the kids like their jobs and know them so well, they decide as a class to keep their same jobs. It's awesome!  So that's my advice/management strategy: Get some GOOD classroom jobs and stick with them! 
Check my TpT store [later]: Confessions of a Texas Teachaholic for the job bundle if you want me to do the hard work for you! (Job list with explanation for subs, you and your students, powerpoint to introduce students to the jobs, and job "labels" if you want to display the job list in your room!) 

Don't forget to follow me on Bloglovin! I finally reached double digit followers :) [Stop laughing at me!]

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

2 for Tuesday: 1/2 off of 2 of my TpT items!

I'm linking up for my first 2 for Tuesday! I am putting 2 of my new (ok, all my products are new) products on sale! 
My newest newest is my Reading Workshop Journal--specifically for Launching the Reading Workshop! 
Balanced Literacy Reading Notebook-Launching the Workshop

The other product(s) are my classroom library labels and classroom supply labels in the chalkboard theme! Super cute and perfect for the organization-loving teach :) Yes it's 2 separate products but they are too cute to not put for sale together! 

Classroom Library Labels-Chalkboard ThemeBack-to-School: Classroom Supply Labels-Chalkboard Theme

Day 15: I'm going rogue

I have been slacking on the blogging challenge because many of my previous posts were scheduled (I was on vacation) and now I have to find time to blog! (It's not like it's a chore but I do have a 10 month old who demands my time). Anyway, my child is taking a [rare] nap right now so I thought I'd write. 

Today I went up to my school to grab a few boxes of decorations I am giving to my hubs for his classroom. 

Let me explain: My school is a part of a program called No Excuses University..perhaps you've heard of it? One of the focuses is that we encourage our kids to go to college by introducing them to a variety of schools. Each classroom "represents" a different college. For the first 4 years of teaching, I had Wheaton College. (My own alma mater, North Texas, was represented by another teacher and you can have duplicates.) Listen. I loved Wheaton. Their admissions office was awesome and always sent my kids stuff and sent us cute decorations for our classroom. The football coach sent me jerseys and wrote a note to my students. BUT, this was because my hubby went to Wheaton for 2 years and played football there before a back injury ended his football  playing days. HOWEVER, if you have read my blog for at least a week, you know my true love is the University of North Texas. Well, the teacher who previous had the UNT room is moving schools so guess who snatched it up?! MEEEEEEEE! I'm so stinkin excited to have my North Texas Mean Green room. Once I get into my classroom (not until after August 11th..sigh.) and get it set up, I'll definitely post pics! 

Anyway, back to the original story in this post, we went to my school to grab the boxes of Wheaton stuff so we can make my hubby's room look awesome and I got to meet my new principal! Y'all, it's scary stuff to get new admin. They don't know our school and we don't know it's scary/exciting. A fresh start can be a good thing... {at least that's what I keep telling myself}. 

OMG I almost forgot to show ya'll my newest purchase.
I got my own Melonhead! Isn't she adorable. :) If you have been living under a rock and haven't discovered Melonheadz Illustrating then you MUST stop everything and go look at Nikki's cuteness. 

Ok, that's it for today, see ya soon! 

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Blogging Challenge Day 13: Travel Adventures!

Oh my goodness. Another day of the blogging challenge where I could write a book.
Travel: past adventures or future excursions

I have been to 29 states and 9 countries so far which means I have ALOT of traveling I still want to do! After my senior year of high school, I went with my German club to visit Europe. We ventured to Germany, Italy, Switzerland, Austria, and France. It was amazing and I am determined to take my family over there some day. {I don't have pictures for this post because it was 8 years ago so the pics are probably on a CD with my scrapbook somewhere}

My favorite way to travel, is by cruise ship. If you haven't done it, you are seriously missing out. The food, the sun, the water...I mean, it's the BEST way to travel. 
I took this picture with a water camera while parasailing in Key West. Isn't it gorgeous?!
On a private island in the Bahamas..aka heaven.
I love love love cruising. Since we live in Texas, we can drive a few short hours (ok, 6...) to Galveston and hop on a boat there without paying airfare. But I have cruised out of Florida too. You've gotta do it. 

Future adventures: Myrtle Beach, SC in a month and then my hubs and I want to go to Washington DC (he's never been but I have and loved it), NYC, Vegas (he hasn't been there either--too many people he says BUT I will convince him to take me!) and of course, another cruise..or 2. Or one every summer. Whatevs. 

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Big Time Blogging Challenge: Days 11 & 12

Hey ya'll! I'm back from my vacay in Oklahoma and we had a blast! It was nice to get away, although the lack of WiFi made me realize how "plugged in" I am and so it was nice to take a step back and relax! I missed a few days, but I definitely wanted to answer Day 11's prompt:
How would your students describe you? 
I can honestly say, I KNOW they would say "sarcastic". But {most} of them LOVE the sarcasm because they are 5th graders and they don't know how to speak without sarcasm. I think I have a pretty good relationship with my kids...they know I love them, we play and joke around, but they know when I mean business. My kids from last school year called me "mom" (although, for the record, I am not old enough to be their mother)...and they thought it was hilarious. I give them all ridiculous nicknames "Lanciepoo", "Sayrah", "De-Nice" and we just loved each other. I will miss those crazy kids. 

Ok, day 12: Share about your most important friendships. 
I don't have time (and no one would read a post THAT long) about all the amazing friendships I have in my life. I am so blessed to have MANY close friends. So I will categorize my friendships :) 
1. My school besties
There is nothing better than getting up to do a job you love, with people you love even more. My school has a really really great staff. 
There is a group of girls I hang out with (plus one long-lost bestie in Arizona who is a part of this group!) and love sharing life with. This is my group I'm going to South Carolina with in a month! 
I can't imagine teaching somewhere without these amazing girls who happen to also be some of the BEST teachers I know. 

2. My ABAC besties

These are my college roommates. We lived together for 2 years (well, Allison-the girl in the middle with me-and I lived together our freshman year too)...and one of our friends named our apartment "the ABAC" (Anna, Brooke, Allison and Caitlin) and it stuck. Almost ALL of my college memories involve these girls. seriously. We met freshman year in September and never looked back. 2 mission trips, 4 weddings, 1 baby and countless "family dinners" later, they are still some of my most amazing friends. I wish we saw each other more but we are scattered around the DFW area and Allison lives in LA as a inner city missionary. Still, I love them.

So there is a peak at some of my wonderful friendships...can't wait to read other people's posts about their besties! 

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Big Time Blogging Challenge: Day 9

Another quick post since we are still at a cabin in Davis, OK. 
Share about your special furry family members: your pets!

I have 2 fur babies. Ike and Abe...well, Eisenhower and Abraham technically. [Yes, they are named after presidents. And totally by coincidence, our child is Jackson Andrews--or on rolls in school one day, Andrews, Jackson. --that was totally a funny coincidence. We are not obsessed with presidents.] We wanted our pets to have "strong" names (not "fluffy") so we went with the pres theme. 
Big Boy Ike
Baby Ike 
Here is Ike...
We got him from my cousin's farm in Clarksville. He is MY baby. He sleeps in his bed right beside my bed and follows me everywhere.
 This is Abe:

Don't be deceived by the cute face. This cat is a terror. I mean, we love him but he is into EVERYTHING! He is polydactyl which means he has lots of toes! He has 7 on his front 2 paws! 

There you have fur fam :) 

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Big Time Blogging Challenge: Day 8

This post is going to be pretty brief because the cabin we are staying in doesn't have WiFi (gasp!) 
How did you end up in education? Who or what inspired you to teach? 

I had some amazing teachers growing up. Like, probably 95% of my teachers were incredible. The other 5% taught me what I don't want to do :) 

But the most inspirational, life-altering teacher I had was my 2nd grade teacher, Mrs. Smiley. After the first day of school, (I had to sign the book because I was a bit talkative...), I proclaimed that I hated her and wanted to switch classes. Fast forward a few months and Mrs. Smiley was diagnosed with breast cancer. We had a series of subs as she underwent chemo and radiation. It was the first time I remember knowing that cancer was dangerous (although I'm not sure if I realized it was sometimes deadly). My mom (who is super nice and the best with encouragement) made me write notes to Mrs. Smiley, telling her we were praying for her and thinking about her. At that point, she was my teacher, but not really much more. During her absence, Mrs. Smiley and I kind of became "pen pals". When she was able to return from school, everything was different. I think I respected her and viewed her differently. 
Fast forward to today and Mrs. Smiley is like another grandparent to me. She sat with my grandparents at my wedding :). She moved to Utah when I was in 4th grade so I don't get to see her as often as I would like but when she comes to Dallas for checkup appointments, we always get together. She even called me on my first day of teaching (remember, I teach at my old elementary school) to see how it went. She is the best.
So thanks, Mrs. Smiley. You have inspired me more than you know. I hope one day to be that teacher for one of my students. Love you <3

Monday, July 7, 2014

Big Time Blogging Challenge: Day 7 AND Made it Monday

Hey ya'll! I'm being a good girl and continuing with the blogging challenge AND posting my very first Monday Made It. Whoo hoo! 
Ok, for Day 7 Michelle has asked about our favorite books as a child or as an adult. 

Man, that is a tough one! I was (and still am) a WILD READER. (Shout out, Donalyn Miller! :)) I LOVE to read and can be totally engrossed in whatever I'm reading, no matter what is going on around me. 

As a kid, I loved the Babysitter's Club books and most realistic fiction. However, my 3 most favorite books I ever read were probably The Giver, The Phantom Tollbooth and The Twenty One Balloons...all fantasy. Go figure. 
I loved these books. (Still do) I read The Phantom Tollbooth to my students EVERY SINGLE YEAR and I love when they fall in love with it too. It is also one of those perfect examples of "don't judge a book by it's cover" because, let's be honest, that is not the most engaging cover for a 5th grader. I love the play on words and the "smart" is a MUST READ. Seriously. Add it to your list of books right now. And before I leave my soapbox, let me put in a plug for the necessity of teachers who read. Not 'Reading Teachers', but all teachers who read. We can't expect our students to read if we have zero knowledge of books ourselves. 

And now I'll step off my soapbox to show you my...

I have been in love with the mesh wreaths for a while. And I'm pretty crafty, but I hadn't tried these little guys out yet and I finally made one! This one is for my classroom, which will be UNT themed next year.

  I am itching to make my own wreath for my house for Fall...and Winter...and Valentines Day...and St. Patricks. I mean, I'm obsessed now. 

And then, I did some "re-lovin'" on this trunk my aunt bought. I don't know if the rest of the country is as obsessed with "distressing" furniture as we are in the south, but the old antique-y look is totally in down here :) 
After :) 
 Ok, before I wrap up this now super long post, I am going to advertise a few more Monday Made Its--items in my TpT store! My Reading Review folder in English and Spanish is finally up! AND I also created a Literature Circles bundle for anyone wanting to dive into Lit Circles. :) 

Reading Review Folder-English AND SpanishLiterature Circles Bundle

Or if you are looking for some cute organization for your classroom supplies check out my chalkboard themed labels: 
Classroom Supply Labels-Chalkboard Theme

Library labels coming soon! :) 

Thanks for stopping by, especially if you are still reading after this marathon post! Have a happy Monday!