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Five for Friday Linky

Happy Friday Saturday everyone!  This week was a long one, but we made it.  This year has definitely been the most challenging of my 11 year teaching career (or I’ve blocked the other ones out of my memory lol!), and this week was no exception.  This has definitely become my motto:
Incase you’re wondering, the countdown is at 28 teaching days.  The last day for students is June 4th, and staff have a half day on June 5th…. but we have to be back June 9th to start working on next year, which is both exciting and exhausting at the same time.  Not to mention that in these next 28 days we all need to pack up our classrooms… completely.  There is a lot of construction happening in our building, and we’ve been told to be prepared to switch rooms.  We don’t usually need to pack up for the summer which I know is very fortunate.  I really like my classroom (it has TONS of storage), so I’m anxious to see where I might be going!  Here are a few other random things from my week 🙂
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Look who showed up Monday morning when I came to work!  We were very fortunate this year to get 4 butterflies.  We have really enjoyed watching them the past few days, and we swear that they like GoNoodle.  There is at least one that climbs on the side of the net and flaps its wings at us every time we do a dance!  While we’ve really enjoyed observing our new class pets, I’m glad that we will be doing Monarchs again next year instead of Painted Ladies.  We cannot release the Painted Ladies here, therefore we have to watch their demise 🙁  Which also means that I need to clean up their little butterfly bodies 🙁 🙁  Ick.
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It is difficult to see, but if you enlarge the picture you will see it… snow.  Cold, wet, whipping snow.  On April 22nd.  Not ok with me.  Nothing says April like a week of freezing temps and snow, but it is worse after an almost 80 degree weekend!  We go through this every spring here, but it doesn’t make it hurt any less.  It also doesn’t make students dress appropriately for recess.  We had many talks this week about how to look at the weather and decide what to wear/ bring to school, that t-shirts and sweatshirts were not ok when it is 35 degrees outside.  “Even though it is Spring, we sometimes still need to dress for Winter”.  Ugh.  Seriously though, it needs to knock it off and get springy around here- in two weeks I have a weekend getaway planned with the hubs to celebrate my graduation, our 5yr wedding anniversary, and Mother’s Day and the weather NEEDS to cooperate 🙂
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This week I started the 21 Day Fix from Beachbody.  While I already eat clean and watch how much I consume, I really liked the idea of the color coded portion cups ( I love color coding! lol).  It has really taken the guesswork out of “dieting”.  I will admit that I was a bit worried when I first saw the size of the cups, but as I started using them I was pleasantly surprised.  As long as I follow the timeline and don’t skip a meal or snack I am not ending up hungry or cranky.  I didn’t snap many pics of it this week, so above is a picture of one of my suppers that I sent to my brother.  He had just been looking at it online and was curious how much food you were actually allowed.  The amounts are based on your starting weight and your goal calorie range, so I am allowed the fewest amounts.  There are also 30 minute workout dvd’s that come with the program which definitely work you out!  I’m not gonna lie, I skipped a few of them this past week due to kid meltdowns combined with grad homework but since this coming week the hubs is off I plan to rock it!  I am on day 7 today and down about 4 pounds 🙂

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We started two digit addition this week and I have been blown away by their success.  Regrouping (as I suspected) was a little bit difficult for them though, so for one of my guided math rotations we did some more hands on practice.  They were a little concerned/ thrilled when I just dumped the tub of tens and ones on the floor haha!  I have piloted three math curriculums this year and I am math-exhausted.  We make our decision on May 1st, and I can’t wait to just dig into whichever one we decide on for next year.  I’m really curious- what math curriculums do you all use?!?
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As I was getting a few things ready at the end of the day Friday I thought I’d snap this pic before I bolted out the door.  As I mentioned last week (and many of you shared you “shove- aholic” support! Thank you!) during the year things typically just end up shoved in baskets until summer.  These tubs are one way that I have made that habit actually work out for me.  I purchased these tubs last year from The Dollar Tree, and chalkboard sticker labels from who knows where.  I use them to organize my materials for four weeks at a time.  For years I had tried to do a basket or something for each day of the week, and I just couldn’t keep up with it.  This way I only have to do all my sorting/ planning once a month!  If we don’t get to something one week, then I just stick it in the next weeks tub etc.
Here is a peek into next week’s tub:
I have some random things that need to be sent home, like their Scholastic book order, their high frequency words for the week, guided reading books, along with other miscellaneous copies.  If you’re struggling to organize your planning, and you love a good tub/ basket, then I highly suggest this method!  
I hope you all have a great week!  🙂

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Five for Friday Linky

Hello everyone!  I feel like I just did last weeks linky, I can’t believe that its already Friday again.  Spring has finally sprung where I’m located and boy does it feel good.  Now I need to dig everyones warm weather clothes out of storage and sort through closets. Yay.  I hope that you all had a great week, here are some random things about mine!
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Saturday was the little ladies final dance show of the season.  While she loves dance class, and we love watching her (she’s quite good!), by this time of the year we’re a little ready for it to be done.  Aside from her leaving her dance shoes in dads car (and he was out of town 2hrs away…) things went off without a hitch and we ended the season on a great note!
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I realized this week that I may have a problem with classroom decor.  I saw this cute water bottle at the dollar store the other day and knew I had to have it.  My first graders (especially the girls) got a huge kick of how it matches our classroom when they noticed it sitting on this ledge.  I think it means I may need a support group 🙂  I also just found out that there is a large possibility that we will be shifting rooms around next year and I’m a little nervous about wall color- hopefully it goes with teal!   Please don’t mind my mid year organizational methods aka shoving everything into baskets.  We just got a new language arts curriculum, new science, new social studies, and I am piloting 3 different math curriculums… my room is overwhelmed by materials and I don’t know what to do with all of it yet!
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Speaking of “organization” this cabinet makes us laugh every time I have to open it.  We receive a healthy fruit and vegetable grant for the students’ snacks.  It used to be some really tasty stuff, but since our cook has to spread funds a little thin we end up with a lot of carrots and ranch (which everyone knows 1st graders LOVE. . . .).  My students last year would’ve just drank ranch if I let them.  Clearly my students this year don’t share the same love for it.  I keep teasing them that I’m going to give it out as an end of the year gift 😉  
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This week we were wrapping up a unit on place value and our essential question for language arts was “how do things get built”, so for one of our math tubs we did “building with place value”.  The student had to choose a bag which had an assortment of base 10 blocks in it.  They then had to design a structure and record their “building materials” on the recording sheet (place value mat).  Not only did they love this, but it was one of those moments of zen where everything ties together!
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 Well, last but not least, I came home yesterday evening to find out that something spectacular came in the mail!  My cap and gown for graduation finally arrived!  You can tell by my daughters face that it was an exciting moment in our house 😉  Exactly 3 more weeks until graduation Hooray!!

Well, I am definitely ready for the weekend.  Going to start the 21 Day Fix this weekend to try and jumpstart my lackluster approach to fitness (it is not usually so lax, but since grad school started I just haven’t been able to commit).  My goal is to put forth a really good effort this summer and get out of the rut I have been in all year.  I hope you all enjoy the week ahead!

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Five for Friday Linky

How in the world is it April 10th already?!  I just can not believe how the time is flying by… and the talks about next year are amping up!
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So, speaking of April 10th… this was the view from my classroom window around 8am this morning.    Full on blizzard mode.  Gotta love spring in Minnesota!  It was 32 degrees when I arrived at school, and by the time I left it was sunny, the snow had melted away, and it was 60 degrees.  I hate when mother nature toys with my emotions! 😉
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Like many of you we started off this week by celebrating Easter Sunday.  I love to make holidays special for everyone involved and we have a lot of traditions that have carried on from my childhood.    A trail of eggs is one of my kids favorites (and mine too!)… it can be interesting when you wake up to help a crying toddler though!  This year the “Easter Bunny” was a little extra busy with graduate school and other things, so I was thrilled to see how much everyone enjoyed the special day.  Here is my youngest about to put the hurt on a some “Peeps on a stick” that his auntie sent him!  Love it! 🙂

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 Following our relaxing 3 day weekend was a long day of professional development.  I’ll spare you the details… you’ve all been there.  We were encouraged to take selfies and live Tweet about the day (quite honestly that could’ve gone a little awry!), so of course I couldn’t resist taking this snapshot of my kindergarten colleagues and tagging them in a Tweet 😉  Not gonna lie, I was a little jealous of their roomy balcony seats vs. my “packed in like sardines” seats.  One of them is also a blogger- you should definitely check her out over at Teacher Norman!  
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We have started our caterpillars unit!  This year we are trying Painted Ladies instead of Monarchs.  When I left last Thursday they had just arrived and were tiny little things.  When we came back on Tuesday I was shocked to see how big they had gotten and that one was already in it’s j formation!  When I left today we had two in their chrysalis and three more j’s.  This is quite the comparison from my experience with Monarchs last year.  On Monday I will be transferring them to their butterfly cage and we will patiently wait for them to reveal themselves!  You can check out a video of our little friends here
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Last but certainly not least, I ended the week with Miss Sassy Pants 😉  Have you ever heard of the book “The Day the Crayons Quit”? If you haven’t then you definitely are missing out, it is an adorable book.  Her 1st grade classes performed a rendition of it today… can you guess which color she was?  Beige!  She was rather pleased with the beige outfit that I managed to pull together for her (which was a feat in itself… not much beige in our house lol).  I wasn’t able to attend, but her school puts everything on their website which is super helpful!  They even live streamed her spring concert, which made grandma back in NY a very happy camper 😉
I wish you all a wonderful week ahead.  If you’re like most teachers I know this time of year can be very challenging for many different reasons.  One of those reasons is staffing assignments for next year.  In our district we always find out at the end of April what our placements are for the following year (or if we are getting the dreaded pink slip).  It is a much less stressful process when you’re tenured, but for reasons that I won’t go into right now there will be a tremendous amount of movement in my district.  We find out next Friday… I’m anxious and excited to find out who will be on my team next year!  
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You Oughta Know About…

Welcome to the April You Oughta Know blog hop!  

You Oughta Know is a monthly blog hop where teacher bloggers share their tips, advice, websites, ideas, apps or whatever else they think would be helpful in your classroom. I was honored to be contacted the other day and asked to participate!  I then spent the next several days thinking about what I was going to blog about.  I decided that you oughta know about…

Culturally Responsive Teaching

Over the course of my teaching career I have had the privilege of teaching in some very diverse settings.  Last summer I was asked to participate in some training with Dr. Sharroky Hollie, and thus my love for Culturally Responsive Teaching was born.  The strategies have taken my classroom to the next level and it has become the main focus of my graduate studies.  

Basically, the concept behind CRT is creating an environment that validates students’ home cultures and how they may differ from the “school culture”.  You then teach them how to effectively code switch to the norms of the “school culture”.  If you have had experience with Responsive Classroom practices, then CRT will make a lot of sense.  The two are very similar, but CRT adds in the cultural element.  I have had a lot of success the last two years in my classroom by incorporating the Culturally Responsive Teaching mindset.  My students are more engaged and willing to take the risks that I ask of them, and they are more respectful towards each other.  



What is CRT?
Geneva Gay defines Culturally Responsive Teaching (CRT) as using the cultural knowledge, prior experiences, and performance styles of diverse students to make learning more appropriate and effective for them; it teaches to and through the strengths of these students.   It changes the traditional understanding of the achievement gap by shifting focus away from the perceived student deficits and puts them towards school deficits.  Culturally Responsive Teaching requires teachers to respond to differences in students’ communication and learning styles by changing their own teaching techniques and classroom management methods. 

When using the term “culture” we are not referring to ethnicity.  It is the cultural norms that one subscribes to and is independent of race (think rapper Eminem).  Cultural norms can be influenced by race, age, socioeconomic status, location, gender, sexual orientation, etc. 
Why CRT?
If you take a look in the majority of schools across America it is obvious that our population is becoming more diverse.  This demographic shift is having a significant impact on our entire educational system as we have historically known it.  One of the most challenging aspects in regards to this change is that while our student demographics are becoming more diverse the teaching population is not.  “Eighty to ninety percent of the teaching population is White, heterosexual, middle class females, with little experiences with people from diverse backgrounds (Gunn 2010).”  Our educational system is geared towards educating individuals from a similar background as the majority of the teaching population, and it is not working anymore.  


In order for Culturally Responsive Teaching to be successful the following criteria is non negotiable.

  • You need to know who you are 
    • What is your cultural identity?
    • What biases to do hold?
    • Check your filter- where do you get your information about other cultures?
  • You need to know who your students (and families) are
    • What cultures do they subscribe to?
    • What are some characteristic behaviors of cultures that may be represented in your classroom?
    • Is it wrong or just culturally inappropriate?***
  • You need to know what and how you are teaching
    • Be mindful of your curriculum.  Can the students see themselves reflected within it?
  • An open mind and willingness to change
  • The belief that ALL students can learn
I could spend hours enthusiastically telling you all about Culturally Responsive Teaching, but instead I will let Dr. Hollie himself explain it to you in this interview.  

*** Wrong vs. Culturally Inappropriate
In one of my workshops Dr. Hollie used this example:  “A Southern Baptist is visiting in a Roman Catholic church.  He is moved during the worship and shouts out “AMEN!”  Heads turn and disapproving glances are shot his way.  The question is, was this individuals behavior actually wrong?”  The answer is no.  It was just inappropriate for the cultural setting he was in.  How many times does this happen in our classrooms?  Think of the student that has trouble excitedly blurting out answers, and how many times they’ve been reprimanded for it… were they actually doing something wrong?  I have found this to be the biggest mind shift change, and the one that causes the most resistance and struggle with my colleagues.  


I plan to go more in depth over the course of the next year on this blog so stay tuned!  In the meantime, if you want to learn more please check out the website for the Center for Culturally Responsive Teaching and Learning or any of these books:

Like I said, this is pretty much just a taste of Culturally Responsive Teaching.  I am more than willing to answer any questions that you may have, so please let me know!  Make sure you hop around to the other blogs and see what else you oughta know!

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Five for Friday

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First off let me say that I am SO glad to be feeling better!  I don’t think that I’ve ever been this sick in my adult life.  While I am still not at 100%, each day gets significantly better.  The picture above was a text that I sent to my awesome teaching partner on day 4 of the flu, letting her know that I would be out yet again 😉  I can’t say enough how integral it is to have at least one person that knows you and your classroom well enough to keep things afloat if you have to be out unexpectedly.  It is much easier to rest and take care of yourself when you’re not worrying about what is going on in your classroom.  

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On Saturday my oldest and I participated in the annual Habitat for Humanities Seeds of Kindness ladies luncheon.  It is a wonderful fundraiser that raises a ton of money for our local Habitat homes.  This was my 3rd or 4th year as a table hostess rather than just a guest.  Each hostess comes up with a theme to decorate their table in, and I just love seeing what everyone comes up with year after year.  This year we decided to go with an “Alice in Wonderland” feel, which was a hit!  This is the second year that I have let my oldest come, and she just loves getting to act like a lady and bidding in the auctions.  This year she even won one of the silent auction items she bid on!  Her favorite part though is probably dressing up to match our table 😉  Here she is as “Alice”


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For those of you who don’t know, I am also a Young Living essential oils addict.  I love this stuff and have seen great success with their products.  It has been awhile since I ordered anything new, so I was due for a few.  I mainly use the oils that come in the Everyday Oils Collection, but I am continuously trying to branch out.  I got Vetiver and Citrus Fresh for my oldest child who tends to be a little hyper and emotional, and R.C. to help with my upper respiratory infection.  I am amazed by how the R.C. has helped with my bronchitis so far!  Usually when something settles into my chest it stays there for several weeks.  After two days of applying R.C. I hardly even have a cough anymore!

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This.  73 Degrees.  We had so much after school fun this week playing outside, riding bikes, and having dinner picnics on the deck (because mommy needs to wash the lawn furniture).  Now today we are back to 30 degrees 🙁  

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After a brief discussion about why we were all home today (with it being Good Friday),  she decided to grab one of her bibles and read about it.  Heart melted.  I love getting to experience the church through her eyes and the questions she asks.  She is so inquisitive and smart!

I hope that you all are able to enjoy your weekend, whether you are celebrating Easter or not.  I don’t know about you, but for me when we go back on Monday starts the long, vacationless stretch before the end of the school year!  If you’re like me, you’ve already started mentally planning for your room next year haha.  Enjoy your week!

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Sick days

How many of you dread having to take a sick day?  I think for most teachers it is one of the most avoided tasks under the sun.  The majority of educators that I know (myself included!) will suffer through just about anything because going to work is easier than planning for a sub.  Every time I try to explain this logic to my husband or another non teacher I just get confused looks.  Thats because our logic doesn’t make sense!  Most other jobs, you call in sick and go back to bed (or whatever)… but not teachers.  When you finally make the call there is usually at least an hours worth of work to be done in attempts to prevent complete and total chaos in your absence.  Such was my week last week.

While attempting to write up my 5 for Friday post two weeks ago I was feeling a bit under the weather, so I decided to put it off for the next morning.  Well, Saturday morning came, and I was sick.  The kind of sick where your kids and husband actually feel bad for you and cut you some slack.  I ended up with a fever of 102 and all the extras for 4 days.  Despite my best efforts to get up and head in to work, the fever beat me and I spent several hours in the wee morning typing up sub plans.  I thought I was good enough to head in on Wednesday morning (since my fever was gone), but boy was I wrong.  After sleeping for almost 4 days straight all the colors, sounds and movement of my 1st grade classroom just about put me over the edge.  Somehow I managed to make it through the day, though I don’t actually have any recollection of it!  It proved to be a bit too much too soon and I ended up pretty sick that night.  Thankfully I was able to copy off a bunch of busy work  extremely engaging and meaningful worksheets because Thursday morning I was back to typing sub plans!

I finally headed into the Dr.  and it ended up that I had a pretty nasty case of Bronchitis.  Let me just say- I am not a fan of Prednisone.  While it helped me breathe and made me feel better, that stuff is no joke!  So Friday was another day out of the classroom.

Finally, after a restful weekend, I was able to return to work this week.  My classroom was still in one piece, as well as all my students.  They were VERY happy to see me 🙂  I don’t think that I’ve taken a sick day (or at least more than one in a row) in almost 5 years, and I certainly don’t plan to take any more in the near future.  I am thankful for my excellent teaching partner who knows where I keep things/ what I do in my room- she was able to make a lot of copies and improvise when needed.  I also have a “sub tub” (I believe I got the idea from Pinterest) filled with survival info and filler activities for unplanned absences.  What are your best sick day strategies?