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December Desktop Calendar

Happy December to you! It's the first of the month which means it's time for a new background.  It's actually gotten cold, and I'm ready to play winter (even if this is probably as close as I'm going to get to snow.)

December 2016 Desktop Calendar Free Download

The graphics from White Heart Design are incredible.  I can't get over how detailed all the images are.  They're just beautiful.  You can click here to download the background, or click on the image below.

December 2016 Desktop Calendar Free Download

I hope you have a wonderful month!


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November Favorites

Well, November has flown by which means it's almost the end of the year.  Unbelievable!  I'm here to share some of my favorites from the month of November.
A time saving new flat iron, a new winter soup favorite, and more favorites from November.

Here's what I've been loving this month.

This flat iron brush is NO JOKE.  I saw an advertisement for it on Facebook and thought maybe it was too good to be true.  I watched a couple of videos (God bless YouTube), and it seemed pretty legit.

And it is.
I mainly use a big barrel curling iron, but there are times you just want a flat iron.  Plus, we have flat iron trauma in our house.  Earlier this year, my younger daughter asked me to flat iron her hair for picture day.  Mid flat iron, she locked her knees for a little too long and went down like a stone.  Passed out cold and scared me to death.

This flat iron is way faster and does an awesome job.  And has been trauma free so far.  Like all good things, it's available on Amazon Prime.  Here's one of the videos I watched if you want to learn more:

This is my new favorite soup! It's delicious and is healthy AND easy to make.  This one is definitely staying in the winter rotation.

These YA books were recommended to me by a parent.  I read them over the Thanksgiving break, and loved both of them.

TSA Precheck is my new favorite travel accessory.  I think I love it even more than my enormous purse that basically doubles as a second carryon suitcase.  Faster line and less hassle? Heck yes.
Not funny at the time story-I didn't have the correct documentation for our marriage certificate which led to us thinking for about an hour that we had never legally validated our seventeen year marriage.  Turns out we're good.

I was very surprised how quickly we were able to get an appointment.  I had visions of waiting for months, but we got an appointment in just a few days.  Totally worth the $85 to breeze through security for the next five years.

Not a new movie, but we finally got around to watching The Heat this month.  If you're a Jenny McCarthy fan, you'll love it.  She's hilarious as always in this one!  {If language makes you clutch your pearls, you may want to skip this one.

Hope you had a great November!


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Meaningful Instruction with Mentor Sentences


Here's a little secret for you: I used a daily oral language type instruction for conventions for years.  AND I LOVED IT.  I loved it 100%.  I hugged it tight to my little teacher heart.  I loved it because it had a rhythm, it was ready to go, and I could know with certainty that I had taught all of the concepts I was supposed to teach.

Except it wasn't sticking.  I was teaching my heart out and the kids were working their little hearts out, but there was no transfer to their writing.
Make conventions instruction meaningful with mentor sentences--an authentic way to teach students grammar, punctuation, and craft without making them hate editing.
Several years ago, the district I was in at the time encouraged us to start using mentor sentences.  Let's clarify what encourage meant.  We were told:

•Mentor sentences are a more authentic way to teach grammar and punctuation.

•The concept is from Jeff Anderson's book, Everyday Editing.

•It works really well.

The end.

Anyway, with all that amazing support, I decided to give it a shot (crazy, right?)  Even though I had no clue what I was doing, I jumped in after doing a little reading on the Internet.  Sounds like the basis for a great start.   Incredibly, even though I had almost no idea what I was doing, I did see gains in my students.  They enjoyed it, and I saw a payoff in both their conventions and craft.

And then I quit.


Why on earth would I quit?  It was exhausting.  I sure there are wonderful teachers out there that can juggle those balls, but for me it ended up being a really awesome thing that I didn't have time to create every week.  I wish that wasn't true, but that was my testing overload, meeting filled, documentation all day everyday reality.

Another fact for you (this one a little embarrassing), I am TERRIBLE at parts of speech.  I'm still not sure what a gerund is.  So, we headed back to DOL.  While I whole heartedly embraced the belief behind mentor sentences and saw the positive impacts of it, I simply wasn't able to make it work with the reality of my limited lesson prep time.

Flash forward a few years, and my only problem with mentor sentences was solved.  Ideas by Jivey took care of the trickiest part of teaching-reality.  With this in hand, I took the time over the summer to read Jeff Anderson's Everyday Editing.  It was helped me understand why, despite my very best effort, my instruction wasn't sticking.  Here are a few quotes from the book:





If you are looking for a change that sticks in your conventions instruction, I strongly recommend reading Everyday Editing.  While it is entirely possible to do the work yourself, I definitely think getting started with the units from Ideas by Jivey is a much more sane way to go.  Once you get the hang of it, you may feel more comfortable with creating your own lessons to go along with a book your class is reading.

Make conventions instruction meaningful with mentor sentences--an authentic way to teach students grammar, punctuation, and craft without making them hate editing.

Want to learn more?  You can check out Jeff Anderson's book, Everyday Editing, on Amazon.  At 160 pages, it's a pretty easy read especially since over 100 of those pages are him walking you through 10 lessons.
{affiliate link}

Jivey has an AWESOME Facebook group with tons of videos of lessons that will help you get jumped started.  I'm a visual person, so it really helped me to see these lessons in action.  You can click here to join.

Visit Ideas by Jivey's Teachers Pay Teachers store to see her mentor sentences resources.  Read more about mentor sentences on her blog.

Make conventions instruction meaningful with mentor sentences--an authentic way to teach students grammar, punctuation, and craft without making them hate editing.


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November Desktop Calendar

Happy November to you!  Even if it still feels like summer.  One day we'll break out the boots and puffy vests in Houston, but it won't be anytime soon.
November 2016 Desktop Calendar Free Download

The graphics from Create the Cut for this month's desktop are simply dreamy.  I may just switch out the November dates to December dates next month because I don't think I'll get tired of this one anytime soon! (Just kidding, but seriously?? Gorgeous!)

 November 2016 Desktop Calendar Free Download

I hope you have a wonderful November!


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October Favorites


Hey hey! October has flown by!  I love decorating for fall and Halloween, I can pretend the weather is going to cool off, and both of my girlies have their birthdays.  It's been an incredibly busy, fun, and exhausting month.

You can't pour from an empty cup free printable as well as some of my favorites from this month.

Here are a few of my favorites (and a freebie) from this month.

We finally got a BIG project finished that's been on my new house to do list since we bought it.  For some inexplicable reason, the builder chose to leave the areas next to the fireplace empty.

Um, okay.

The perfect fall coat from Loft.

Well, we finally got our built-ins put in this month, and I could not love it more.  They finish off the room and give us a ton of extra storage.  Can I tell you how happy I am that those cabinets are empty except for the electronic nonsense?  Best household luxury ever.
Shake Shack, y'all!  I'm embarrassed to say that Shake Shack was in my top three for must do's when I took a weekend trip to New York City this month for an unconfernece at the Teachers Pay Teachers offices.  Thankfully, I was with like minded people, and we were able to squeeze in a visit to my beloved Shake Shack.

Here's a philosophical question for you-Can it be a favorites post without something from Loft?  I am in love with this jacket.  I feel like Goldilocks when it comes to winter coats.  Everything is either too light or too heavy.  I live in Houston, y'all.  I need a heavy winter coat maybe five times a year.  This coat from Loft is that just right in between.  This photo doesn't actually show the color well.  It's more of an army green.

I got a new phone this month which meant time for a new case.  I fell hard for the matching portable charger because who can say no to a matching ensemble?  Apparently, not me.  I picked this up at Nordstrom, but you can see all the cases on the Sonix website.
The cutest matching iphone case and portable charger from Sonix.

And here's a hard lesson I'm finally starting to learn.  This teacher/wife/momma life is hard.  We end up giving, giving, giving, and there's nothing left.  Once you've given everything, you're no good to anyone.  Make sure you're filling your cup.  Here's a print to remind you to make space in your life to take care of yourself.  Click here or below to download the image.

You can't pour from an empty cup free printable as well as some of my favorites from this month.

Here's to an awesome November!


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Four Ways to Dig Deeper with The Reading Strategies Book


If you've been on my blog before, you may have noticed that I'm a HUGE Jennifer Serravallo fan.  I'm pretty much trying to live my reading teacher life as the gospel according to Jen.

The Reading Strategies Book (affiliate link) is one of the best resources out there for reading teachers.  I love how easy it is to use.  It's 300+ pages but each page is a single teaching strategy lesson.  You can read more about it here and here.
Take your love of The Reading Strategies book to the next level with four great ways to get more out of this resource.

If you already have The Reading Strategies Book, here are four ways to get more out of your book:

1.  Get it Spiral Bound

I have seen this on Instagram, but I've been scared to take my precious book to Office Max for potential butchering.  I won an extra copy at a workshop and figured it would make the perfect guinea pig.
Take your love of The Reading Strategies book to the next level with four great ways to get more out of this resource.
This is a book you'll turn to over and over.  Being able to open it to a specific strategy lesson and having it lay flat and stay on that page is a major bonus.  Maybe Heinemann should try this out for future releases? (Hint, hint!)

2.  Join the Facebook Group
Heinemann started a Facebook group, The Reading Strategies Book Community.  So many teachers have come together to support each other and discuss how they are using it.  Jennifer Serravallo shares tips and answers questions in Facebook Live videos.  You can join the group here.

3.  Online Resources
Heinemann has a The Reading Strategies Book page.  It's kind of buried on their site, and I didn't know about it until it was shared at the workshop.  There are several resources on the site-a book study guide, how to use it with a basal reader, blog posts, etc.  My favorite one is this reading inventory to use with goal setting.  I think this is hands down one of the best reading inventories I've seen.
Take your love of The Reading Strategies book to the next level with four great ways to get more out of this resource.

4.  YouTube Videos
I love being able to see teaching in action.  Hop on over to YouTube and search The Reading Strategies book (or just click here) to see videos about the book and of Jennifer Serravallo conferring with students.

How else do you get more out of your The Reading Strategies Book?


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Differentiation in a Snap with Newsela


Differentiation.  We all understand how it valuable it is for our students' learning but finding high quality and high interest materials to actually use is a whole different story.  A mythical rainbows and unicorn type story.

I feel like I'm late to the Newsela party, but this site is amazing. What's not to love about a free site with high interest, quality non-fiction articles WITH ADJUSTABLE READABILITY LEVELS in English and Spanish?

Differentiation is easy with Newsela.  One click changes the readability level of the high interest articles on this free site.

I love how easy it is to change the readability level.  Click the Lexile level buttons on the side to select the text difficulty.  The grade level recommendation and word count is shown for each level.  Quizzes and writing prompts are included for each article.


There are two sites you can visit: Newsela and Newsela Elementary.  Both sites have overlapping content articles, but Newsela also inlcudes more current event type articles for middle and high school students.  Each site also has curated text sets on different topics like hurricanes, recycling, and monsters.

Newsela is free for students and teachers.  If you do want to take it to the next level with Newsela Pro, you can click here to see a chart that shows the difference between a free and paid Pro account.  The Pro account allows you to have more tracking and student/teacher interaction.

I'd love to hear how you're using Newsela in your classroom!



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