Thursday, June 30, 2011

Listening . . .

I look like I'm sitting here at the computer checking my e-mails, Facebook, Blogger, etc.  What I'm really doing is listening to Mr. M read to our oldest daughter Maddie.  They are totally engaged in this book.  I do not exist.  The fireworks that are being lit (early I might add) do not exist.  The world to them is our old red couch, a green blanket and a good book.  They are reading The Magician's Elephant by Kate DiCamillo.  Every time they finish a chapter Maddie BEGS for Mr. M to keep reading (and secretly I do too).  It makes me realize how lucky I am that Maddie has two parents who LOVE to read and who have read to her almost EVERY night since she was born.  It make me appreciate the quiet times when there is not a lot happening.  It make me see that there is no need for television or computer or a DS when you have a good book.  It also helps me see that I too can instill this love of reading into every young mind I meet, just by reading them a good book. It makes me happy to be a teacher.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Bad Teacher and a Top Ten "Bad" List

I just returned from the movies where a group of my fellow teachers and elementary school staff members (and some spouses) saw the movie Bad Teacher

I have not laughed that hard in a long time.  It was so wrong in so many ways, but in a strange way I found myself thinking "I know a teacher like that."  If you've seen the movie I bet you can think of someone you know who is like an Amy Squirrel or a Lynn Davies.  I think what I enjoyed the most was getting to see my teaching peeps again after we were apart for 1 1/2 weeks. Even though I claim to be in "summer mode" I do enjoy all the friends I work with and I appreciate that they all came out to watch a totally raunchy, hilarious movie.

So . . . now to my top ten list this week.  I was really struggling to come up with my top ten list for the week.  Mr. M was not being very helpful (he told me to write a top ten list of how awesome he was or the top ten things he can cook on the grill)  Then I was inspired by the movie and Justin Timberlake in particular (his music is a guilty pleasure of mine) and Mr. M suggested I do a list of my top ten guilty pleasure movies.  I've already done a movie list about teaching .  However one of the ways that I relax at night when I've had a long day is to watch a movie, especially what I refer to as guilty pleasure movies.  Here are my top ten favorite "bad" movies of all time.

1. Reign of Fire - I have this movie memorized I've watched it so many times.  It has everything I look for in a movie: dragons, Christian Bale & Gerard Butler!

2. Any movie on SyFy channel. Ice Spiders anyone?

3. Starship Troppers  (Wow, I cannot believe I'm admitting to watching that)

4. Anything with aliens (Close Encounters of the Third Kind for example or War of the Worlds)

5. Any of the Harry Potter movies (I've read ALL the books and you know how I feel about books being made into movies, but for some reason I love the Harry Potter movies)

6. 80's teen movies like Pretty in Pink, The Breakfast Club, Sixteen Candles, Weird Science, love them all!

7. West Side Story - When you're a jet, you're a jet all the way!

8. Grease 2 (Yes they made a second one with Michelle Pfeiffer, it's awesome!)
9. Satisfaction (enough said)
10. The Great Muppet Caper - it may be the worst of the Muppet movies but it has Charles Grodin!
I'm not saying that any of these are "bad" movies, they are just my go-to guilty pleasure movies. What guilty pleasure movies to you watch?

Friday, June 24, 2011

I'm Always on the Lookout . . .

I'm always on the lookout for a new blog to follow.  I really do get my best ideas from all of you out there.  I just discovered a new blog Kinder Kraziness.  This is great since I will be teaching kindergarten for the first time next year.  I also like her because all of her stuff is free.  If you go there now in fact you too can get a Miss Bindergarten unit FOR FREE! 

Wednesday, June 22, 2011


Thanks to all the new friends that began following our blogs and the old ones that already were following (Not that you're old, but you know what I mean).   Below is a list of all the winners.  The Sherman Four you are my winner!  Way to go!! I will contact you soon for how to collect your prize! Thanks again for entering!  Happy Summer.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Top Ten Things I HEART about Summer

Being the first day of summer, I had to make my top ten list about summer.  Being a teacher & a parent I adore summertime.  I think it is because I get to spend LOTS of time with my children. 

Here it goes!

1. Waking up on my own with out an alarm clock!

Instead I get to wake up to this every morning!!!

2. Being able to run in the morning and not have to take my shower until 11 am (like I did today!)

3. Spending the afternoons sitting on my back porch reading a good book.

4. Being able to spend oodles of time with my daughters!

Madzilla & Lola Bug playing together

5. Going camping!

Silver Falls - Our favorite family camping spot.

6. Going to the beach (every year we take a trip out to our fav beach spot on the Oregon coast!)

7. Eating strawberry shortcake with fresh strawberries from the farmer's market (especially if they are the Hood strawberries - you don't even have to add sugar!!)

8. Being able to go to the farmer's market on a Monday ( I love the one at Pioneer Courthouse Square in downtown Portland)

9. Staying up late (I rarely do, but every now and then I like to stay up and watch bad movies)

Reign of Fire - LOVE IT!
10. Finally getting some warm weather - which doesn't happen often in the Northwest!

What do you enjoy best about summer?

Writer's Workshop & Planning Guide

There have been many posts out there about the book No More I'm Done  by Jennifer Jacobson.  I heart this book.  I've used it now for 2 years?  Maybe 1 1/2? I can't remember.  I know I had it last summer and read it and used it with my second graders.   It's on my summer reading list again this year. All I know is that it's a wonderful resource for workshop lessons on how to build independent writers (even in kindergarten) and how to incorporate the writing traits into your workshop.  I wish I could remember who (I'm so sorry, my mind is slowing relaxing as it is now the first day of summer)  but someone posted on their blog that you can preview the book online here (if this was you let me know so I can credit you, and THANKS!)

When I first read the book I made myself a planning guide with all the lesson listed and the grade level they would be appropriate for, plus a learning goal and a focus question, which I use in every workshop focus or mini lesson.  The focus questions help guide student reflection and discourse at the end of the workshop.  I've been using writer's workshop for 5 years now and I can't imagine teaching writing a different way.  I began with Calkins (the WW guru) and them moved onto the Ralph Fletcher.  Then I discovered Jennifer Jacobson.


Here is the planning guide I first created.  It's pretty raw.  I think I may touch it up this summer and add what anchor charts I could use, but it gives you a strong idea of what type of lessons Jennifer has written in her book.

A Year of Mini Lesson for Growing Writers

Happy First Day of Summer to everyone!

If you have not entered our newbie contest then please head on over to Little Miss Kindergarten to enter!

Also stay tuned for my Tuesday Top Ten!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Monday Morning . . no alarm clock

This morning was my first Monday morning post end of school.  No alarm clock; except the one my 23 month daughter provides when she wakes up in the morning.  I'd much rather wake up to "Mommy, where are you?"  Then some loud beeping any day (even if it's early).

SO although I am now officially on summer vacation, I wish I could put my mind on summer vacation also.  I'm already thinking about next year. I will be teaching kindergarten for the first time EVER!  I'm very nervous, but also very excited.  I've started to create a year long plan for myself and a class schedule that will allow for a lot of breaks and short lessons.  I'm also teaching using the workshop model for reading, writing & math. I'm wondering what will that look like in kindergerten?  Once I get everything on paper, I will post it for feed back and suggestions from all you brilliant kindy teachers out there.  I also am planning a shopping trip to IKEA to get some organization for all the toys I've acquired for next year.  (Don't worry Mr. M, it's reimbursable by the district)  I would love to hear some advice/suggestions on how you organize your centers for free choice time.  I know how important it is to give young children that time to play/socialize/learn/problem solve.

Thanks to all my new followers. I hope you've enjoyed checking out all our blogs.  We've enjoyed getting to meet you!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

A Newbie Giveaway and a BIG proud momma moment!

Are you looking for some new, wonderful teaching blogs?  If so then stop, collaborate and listen.   Me and six other bloggers new to the blogging block are getting together to give YOU some wonderful prizes.  What a great way to start your summer! See below for how to enter.

In order to win one of these 7 great prizes - meet my new blogging buds:
and me
The Accidental Teacher, Mom, Runner . . .

Grabbing their buttons, following their TpT stores, adding us to your blog roll or blogging about the giveaway and leaving a link to the blog entry will get you more chances to win.
Please go to Little Miss Kindergarten to join in on the fun and begin entering the giveaway. ALL COMMENTS must be posted on Little Miss Kindergarten to be counted for the Giveaway although we all LOVE reading comments!!  Thank you to those of you that have already entered.  I hope you will find these blogs helpful.  I'm always learning and discovering new things from these wonderful teachers.

Now for my proud momma moment. (I had to include this in this post because it may be the only time I get to the computer today - this is a CRAZY day)

Today was my oldest daughters first guitar recital  She started taking lessons in March and managed to conquer her fear of stage fright and perform two beautiful songs (from memory, no sheet music needed)  Way to go Maddie, I can't wait to hear what you play next!!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Favorite Things on the Boob Tube (a Linky Party)

Beth over at Primary Connections is having a linky party about your top 5 favorite TV shows.  Anyone who follows my blog knows I'm a sucker for a list (I may have to make this one a top ten, it's so hard to choose just five!)

I take my TV watching very seriously.  My Top Five TV Favs are:

1. The Killing on AMC - it's like an updated version of Twin Peaks but not quite as bizarre.
2. The Office

3. Walking Dead on AMC - I'm a sucker for any sci-fi shows
4. Leverage on TNT (filmed in Portland &Vancouver, Wa!)
5. Modern Family

Now for the runner's up:

Falling Skies (which hasn't aired yet, but is about aliens so I'm already excited about it)
Dancing with the Stars
The Next Food Network Star (really anything on Food Network I will watch)
Law & Order SVU

Hope you join in! Head over to Primary Connections

Thursday, June 16, 2011

And the Winner is . . .

Congratulations to . . .

True Random Number Generator 3 Powered by RANDOM.ORG
Julie (I'm still figuring out how to import pictures and things onto my blog) who said . . .

Julie said...
I love reading your blog Jen! I've added some of your professional summer readings to my list...I'm a follower! :)
Julie, contact me to choose your prize.  Thanks for following!
Stay tuned for another giveaway coming from my fellow teacher bloggers and me!  It's a pretty sweet way to start out your summer!

And then there was silence . . .

Today was the final day of school and although I am very much looking forward to summer and spending time with my family, sleeping in (as much as you can with a 2 year old) and relaxing in general, I will very much miss teaching.  My friend whom I mentioned in an earlier blog post wrote a beautiful poem with her class that sums up what every teacher feels at the end of a school year.  Thank you Debbie for letting me share this with the world.

At the End of the School Year

By Mrs. Nagelmann

Hurry!  Just a few more days to learn,
to clean, to pack, to sort and put away.
Just another day to hand out papers
 and put report cards together,
Just another hour to give the last hug,
the last smile, the last wave.
Hurry!  The buses are here to begin summer.

It’s quiet now,
The room is empty,
Posters down, chairs stacked, books put away.
The silence feels heavy as if the quiet
          Is sitting on top of the energy now gone.

The late afternoon sunlight filters in between the
          almost closed shades.
Memories of laughing, learning, working, growing linger.
What is coming with the next dawn?
What new memories will surface with the daybreaks
          of a new life at the end of a school year.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011


That's right, down to ONE day left. One more day of seeing these sweet children everyday.  I know I will see them next year, but not everyday. This morning we had our second to last community circle and we had a jeopardy style game to see who is ready for second grade.  (they are all ready of course)  One more day greeting them lined up and ready for lunch, recess and going home at the end of the day. One more day of sweaty bodies that come in from recess because they've run their little hearts out.  One more day . . .

Here are some pictures from our game day celebration yesterday and our first annual Otter pop kickball challenge from today!

Playing a game of go fish.

Nothing like some Sponge Bob Operation!

Playing a game of Sorry Sliders.
Just stole third!

Waiting to kick the ball

Enjoying an ice cold snow cone after our kickball game.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011


I'll keep this one short since I had a long top ten this week.  I'm up to only two more days of school. Two more days of parents visiting my classroom (which I love), two more days of repeating directions for the umpteenth time and they're still not being followed.  Two more days of laughter and winks and smiles.  Two more days to spend with the most brilliant children (aren't they all?)

Today we had our game day and end of the year celebration.  I will post some pictures tomorrow.  Although there was some arguing, overall it went very well.  They were engaged, playing together, taking turns and learning something along the way.  Even my special friend got to join in and had a wonderful time.  It's hard to believe I only get two more days with these kiddos.  Two more days . . .

It's Tuesday! You know what that means . . .

My top ten this week was inspired by Beth over at Primary Connections and her post about IKEA. If you haven't checked out her blog, please do.  So Beth had "The IKEA Experience" and it got me thinking about all the wonderful ways I use IKEA in my classroom.  I was lucky enough to grow up with Ikea when I lived in Brussels.  My entire bedroom came from Ikea and we still have the wardrobe units we used in my sister's room.  Ikea is really a teacher's best friend.  It's affordable, durable and very fun! 

Here are are top ten favorite items from Ikea that I use in my classroom.

1. Samla small box - these are my FAVORITE!  I use them to house all my math manipulatives, art supplies, books, etc.  They're see through and fit perfectly into the cabinet space in my classroom.  AND they are only $1.50!

2. The Samla rectangular box is also wonderful.  I use this box at my publishing table to house colored pencils, and markers when my students are ready to publish their writing.  I also use it for magnetic letters and other phonics materials at my guided reading table.

3. The Lingo magazine file.  PERFECT for storing books for reader's workshop, folders for writing & math workshop & everything in between!

4. Any of the playmats & rugs from the children's department are fun and really durable.  My daughter's had one in her room for years and it still looks great!  Plus at $15 you can get 2!

5. The Mammut children's chair or stool is wonderful for any reading corner or nook in your classroom.

6. I use these Sagosten chair pillows at my guided reading table and in my reading nook!
7. The Mala easel is a bargin at $15 and what primary classroom wouldn't be complete without an easel?

8. The Glis box with lids are great for holding small manipulatives or crayons.  PLus they are dishwahser safe so when they get a little groody you can tak ethem home, stick them in teh dioshwasher and have clean boxes!

9. The Kusiner wall pockets are great for housing books you want to highlight or challenge work for those students that need it or stuff!

10. What classroom wouldn't be complete with soft lighting.  Ikea has MANY different types of floor and table lamps in all different colors and shapes!

Doesn't this make you want to go shopping?  Only a few days left for me and I can go get ready for my kindergarten classroom next year!

Need a new book for your classroom or maybe something fun for the summer?  I'm having a little giveaway for my followers.  Just click HERE!