December Favorites

Hey hey! Happy almost January to you.  This month has flown by.  Doesn’t it seem that way at the end of every month but most especially when there’s a holiday?  Today I’m sharing a few of my favorites from the past month with you.

Today I’m sharing a few of my favorites from the past month with you.

This Sawyer sweater from J. Crew Factory has become one of my favorites.  It’s warm but light weight, so I don’t feel like the Michelin man when I wear it.  I was super sad that I had only bought it in gray when I was at the outlet, but then I remembered you can order from J. Crew Factory online.  I ordered three more right away and a fourth that looks really similar to it.  In my defense, they were half off.  Prepare to see me in these all winter long.

J Crew Sawyer Sweater

There aren’t a ton of colors left, but this sassy pink is still in stock.  It would be a great way to chase a way the winter blues and a lot of fun for Valentine’s Day.

 I’ve been cheating on my Kendra Scott earrings with these Kate Spade studs pretty regularly.  I won’t be retiring my Kendra any time soon, but I love these chunky studs as a great alternative.

Kate Spade Studs

You can find them in a bunch of basic and fun colors online at Dillards and Nordstrom.  My local stores have them but they are usually pretty picked over.

In my never ending effort to vinyl all the things, I stepped up my gift wrapping game this year with some vinyl monograms.  And it was amazing.  Everyone should prepare to receive monogrammed gifts from me from now on.

Silhouette Cameo Monogram

I won a giveaway! Plum Paper is one of my favorite paper companies.  I entered one of their 12 days of Christmas giveaways and ended up winning Day 11! This never happens to me. I won a notebook and a $50 gift card.  Ironically, I had ordered a customized notebook from them the day before winning.  Such is my life.  I will somehow rise up and force myself to buy another Plum Paper product.  #hardship

Plum Paper Notebook

They have awesome planners, teacher planners, and notebooks.  I love how you can not only personalize the cover but also the “guts”.  You can add tabbed sections, choose from multiple layouts, pick your starting month for planners, and add on sections like blog planners or meal planning.

I gave myself a blog makeover, and I’m loving it.  I had switched over to a Blogger template from Georgia Lou Studios and was itching to give myself a little update.  I tweaked the colors a little, so they’re a little more fresh.
New Blog Design
I could not love these templates from Georgia Lou Studios more.  If you’re wanting a more streamlined look, these templates are perfect.  The real magic is the mobile view.  It’s about a million times better than the traditional blogger template.

Five on the Fifth {December}

It's the 5th of the month which means I'm here to share five great ideas from five great bloggers.

Want more Five on the Fifth ideas?  It even has it's own Pinterest board!
Mandy’s Tips for Teaching has some great tips for taking kids through nonfiction text features when teaching informational text.

Amelia from Where the Wild Things Learn has gone ALL OUT to create Harry Potter themed magic in her classroom.  Read all about it in the multi part series.

Jenn from Reading in Room 11 wrote how she supports her struggling readers.  I love the idea of giving them a strategy chart!

Get tons of great book ideas and lesson inspiration with this Winter Wonderland link up from the Reading Crew.  You can get started with Carla from Comprehension Connection.  

Stephanie from Teaching in Room 6 wrote about how she uses Nursery Rhymes to add detail to their writing.  Love how she used this simple nursery rhyme to S-T-R-E-T-C-H her students’ writing!

Hope you found some new ideas you love!

December Desktop Calendar

Happy December to you! I sharing a desktop calendar background over at Owl-Ways Be Inspired today.  Click here or on the image to hop on over and download it.

November Favorites

Happy almost December to you!

It's the end of the month, so I'm here to share a few of my favorite things from the past month with you.

So, let's talk about these Frye Melissa Button boots.  D.Y.I.N.G.

Frye boots are not an easy purchase.  There was a lot of angst involved.  I probably tried them on five times last winter.  Plus, there were the trips to just stroke them and stare longingly.  The sales people at Nordstrom hate me.  I have wonky feet, so comfortable boots that have ZERO break in time finally won me over.  I may need to wear them for the next ten years including summers to justify the expense, but they are extremely well made, so that might happen.

**Warning-You should NOT try these boots on in front of the sales person.  It was not a pretty sight.  I managed to wrangle one foot in, but apparently my left foot is a little bigger.  If the sales person had been with me instead of helping someone else, I would have given up from shame (or she would have snatched the boot from me.)  I still have a little bit of panic every time I try to put the left boot on.  So far so good, but turning that corner is not a process that should be witnessed by others.

I'm embarrassed to say how many puffy vests I own.  I HATE wearing a coat, but I live in Texas so that's not really a huge issue.  A puffy vest is usually all I need to run from the parking lot into school.
I love this one because it's light weight, and I don't feel quite so puffy.  It's pretty, I'm warm, life is good.

Moving on to sausage (smooth transition, right?), this dinner was amazing.  And easy.  And the whole family loved it.  What more do you need? You can find the recipe here.  The only think I did differently was bake the potatoes in the oven.  They're low maintenance that way, and I could start cooking the other stuff instead of waiting.
I did a round of Whole 30 in January and have tried to keep up with these habits as much as possible.  This is Whole 30 compliant and so good you won't even care.

Remember that Whole 30 thing? One of the most important things I learned was how gross a lot of foods are and what all those chemicals do to your body and how they make you feel.  This has made my love of Pumpkin Spice Lattes a little tricky to navigate.  Enter this pumpkin spice coconut milk.
Not exactly "healthy" but still light years better than my latte.  Plus, this stuff is strong.  I tried to do half of my normal coconut milk and half pumpkin spice the first time and almost gagged.  It's strong, so you won't need much.  All the pumpkin spice and hardly any guilt.

Any Blindspot fans out there?  This show sounded interesting when I first saw the previews, but let's be honest-most of them aren't as good as they look.  I love this show, though, and don't miss an episode.  I'm loving the twists and turns.

I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving and have a magical holiday season!  Can't wait to share next months favorites with you!

Sites and Apps Reading Teachers Love: Audio Books

Hey hey! If you’ve been here a few times you know I love technology.  Audio books are hugely important but also represent a black hole in many classrooms.

Let’s be honest, audio books are a pain.
Hit the easy button with online audio books.  These are perfect for Daily 5 Listen to Self!

I'm going to age myself as a teacher.  I cannot tell you the number of times in my years as a teacher that  I looked over and saw tape SPEWING out of a cassette player attended by children with looks of total shock and fear in their eyes.  We have CDs and iTunes now, but still.  They’re expensive to acquire and a pain to make available and organize.  Online books give us the opportunity to offer children hundreds of books with little or no effort on our part.  That’s a win.

Why audio books? Kids need to hear books.  And more books.  And then some more.  This is how they develop the concept of story, fluency, and develop vocabulary.  Auditory books are even more important for your struggling readers.  It gives them the opportunity to independently access books that are on their interest level even if they are not their reading level.  Struggling to read should not exclude a child from loving books.

I’ll get off my soapbox now and start sharing the resources.
First up, an oldie but goodie: Tumblebooks.

TumbleBooks features an incredible amount of high quality books.  They’ve got the good stuff:
Hit the easy button with online audio books from Tumblebooks.  These are perfect for Daily 5 Listen to Self!

I LOVE that the text is highlighted while it’s read aloud.
Hit the easy button with online audio books from Tumblebooks.  These are perfect for Daily 5 Listen to Self!

There are a lot of books on the site.  A lot.  Hundreds.  There are also games, some chapter books, puzzles, etc., but the strength of this site is the large number of quality children’s literature.  If you’re looking for a solution for a Listen to Reading station, Tumblebooks is it.

But . . .

It’s expensive.  Like, really, really expensive.  $600-800 dollars a year for a school subscription.  We are very lucky that our local library subscribes to TumbleBooks, so we are able to access it through their website for free.  It’s definitely worth checking with your local library to see if they have a subscription.

The second site I wanted to share with you is one I just found out about recently.  I feel like it’s the perfect companion for Tumblebooks.  It’s called Epic!, and, well, it’s pretty epic.  Take a look:

Hit the easy button with online audio books from Epic.  These are perfect for Daily 5 Listen to Self!

Can you see the super tiny and super important text that says Epic! is free for educators.  Can we just stop and take a moment to say thank you to the guys and gals over at Epic?

Epic is set up a little differently than Tumblebooks.  It’s still full of books, but not all of them are read aloud.  There are a number of high quality text on there for kids to just read.  When you narrow your selection down to Read Alouds, this is where Epic! becomes an extremely valuable resource for your classroom.

Hit the easy button with online audio books from Epic.  These are perfect for Daily 5 Listen to Self!

Look at all that nonfiction.  Nonfiction for days.  It goes on and on and on.  If you limit kids' access to just fiction, you are losing a chunk of your population.  Think of all the reluctant readers that would just eat up these nonfiction audio books.

Here’s a peek inside of an Epic! nonfiction book.
Hit the easy button with online audio books from Epic.  These are perfect for Daily 5 Listen to Self!
It doesn’t highlight the text as it reads, but it DOES read the nonfiction text features which is great because for some reason kids think they don’t need to read those since they’re not in paragraph form.  Why???  Please make it stop.  (P.S. I’m pretty sure the monkey doesn’t make it.  Sadsville.)

You can do all sorts of other things like make profiles and bookshelves, track who’s reading what, how long they’re reading, but to be honest, I’m not really worried about those features.  What makes Epic! such a fantastic resource is the large number of nonfiction texts available to readers.

What are your favorite audio book resources for teachers?  I’m always looking for more!

Five on the Fifth {November}

It's the 5th of the month which means I'm here to share five great ideas from five great bloggers.

Want more Five on the Fifth ideas?  It even has it's own Pinterest board!

Introducing choice can be so hard with Daily 5-especially with those younger kiddos.  Catherine from The Brown Bag Teacher does a great job of taking you through introducing the element of choice into Daily 5.  It's such a key component in creating student engagement.  It's definitely worth the effort to bring into your classroom!

Dogs and Cats.  Main idea and details.  Dana from Prepping the Primary Gridiron shares a great post on bringing these together (as usual!!)

Starting guided reading can be overwhelming! While there are a number of wonderful professional reading books that get into the guts of guided reading (like I wrote about here), Melissa from Inspire Me ASAP! does an awesome job of breaking it down in a way that helps you see what you need to do to get started and the path to follow.

So, this is a cheater post because it's from the end of September, but it's a good one and totally worth breaking the rules for!  Amber from Peppy Zesty Teacherista takes you through the bane of a third grade teacher's existence-summaries.

Because the same thing over and over can get B-O-R-I-N-G, Molly from Lucky to Be in First shares a few ideas to perk up your word work. (Keep digging around to find her post on writing.  I love her Weekend Report!)

I loved reading Ashley from Shroeder Shenanigans' post on her visit to Ron Clark Academy.  I'd love to visit this school one day and see these amazing educators in action.  Hope over to her blog to read about her experience and get inspired.

Any blog posts from the past month that you loved?