Sunday, November 25, 2012

Liebster Award!

Hey everyone! Anna from Simply Skilled in Second nominated me for a Liebster Award, given to up and coming bloggers (those with under 200 followers). That is clearly me, so thanks so much Anna!

Here are the rules:
1. You must post 11 random things about yourself.
2. Answer the questions that the nominator set for you.
3. Create 11 questions for the people you nominate.
4. Choose 11 other blogs with fewer than 200 followers to nominate and link them in your post.
5. You cannot “tag back” the other blog, but leave a comment on this post with the URL of your Liebster post so I can learn more about you & see who you nominate.

11 Random Things about ME
1.   I am a pretty good cook, but I’m a perfectionist about it. If it’s not from scratch, I don’t want to bother with it.
2.   I am obsessed with traveling. I’ve been to over 20 countries and don’t plan on stopping. I’ll be that little old lady on the Wall of China in a scooter.
3.   I love my city. My rent is absurd, I cannot go to a dinner for less than 30 dollars, and I get in rumbles over parking spaces. I don’t care. San Francisco is the most fun and beautiful city I can imagine. I actually take cable cars around. How can you beat that? ;)
4.   I am very VERY pale. I don’t even bother tanning. If I’m in the sun I am wearing SPF 50, a t-shirt, hat, and under an umbrella.
5.   Ellipticals are my best friend. I have ankle problems, so running is painful, but I love that I can still get a good cardio without pain. I am a much nicer teacher when I’ve gotten my exercise in.
6.   I’ve had to move classrooms every year I’ve taught. Four year, four times. My school is building a new campus, so that will be true next year as well.
7.   I think television shows these days are better than movies. Hollywood needs to get their act together and take a cue from TV.
8.   I am ¼ Jewish. I tried to apply for Birthright (a free trip to Israel for Jewish kids 18-25). I was rejected despite my Jewish last name. Oh well.
9.   I am a singer. I was in a competition choir growing up and traveled all over the world with it. At my singing height I was in 5 different choirs and was taking private voice lessons. Now I sing in the shower. Choir rehearsal goes too late for me.
10.  I lived in Los Angeles before San Francisco. Loved the weather and excellent sushi, hated the traffic. Seriously, it’s the worst.
11.  Despite going our separate ways for college, I am still good friends with girls I met in elementary school. I just went to the wedding of a friend who I have known since Kindergarten.

Questions from Simply Skilled in Second...
 1. Car, SUV, or Mini-Van?
I drive a Prius. I commute over an hour every day to get to work, so I need the gas mileage. Sigh, the sacrifice I make to live in the big city.
2.   Do you have any children?
No, I have to say I am glad that the only things I have to take of at this point are myself and my cat Figaro. That’s about all I can handle!

Isn't he adorable?
3.  What is the craziest thing you have ever done?
 Last summer I traveled through Ireland and Scandinavia by myself. I wasn’t meeting up with anyone and I traveled without any partner. I LOVED it!
4.  What is your favorite drink?
 Red wine. I wish I could say it was some fancy cocktail or Starbucks drink, but I do love my red wine.
5.   Health nut, couch potato or somewhere in between?
Is it possible to be both? I eat well and make it to the gym almost daily, but I love my relaxation time.
6.  What is your favorite animal?
 Cats. See the picture above and you can see why.
7.  Do you cry at movies?
 I cry at everything! When I’m happy, when I’m sad, when the music in a Best Buy commercial is particularly heart-warming it’s embarrassing.
8.   Who is your favorite celebrity and why?
George Clooney. I think he spends more time working for charity than he does making movies! I admire that he uses his money and influence to help those in need, whether its in Haiti, Darfur, or in the US. Plus he is very attractive
9.   What is one thing you could tell us about yourself that others would be shocked to know?
Despite being a blonde-haired, blue eyed Prius driver, I love Hip Hop. Give me some Wu-tang or Nas  and I am a happy girl
10.    If you could have only 3 electrical appliances in your house, what would they be and why?
The fridge because I always buy too much food and it would go bad otherwise. My computer because I live in the center of the internet bubble and could not function without it. My television because I NEED to watch the Walking Dead on AMC.

11.  Italian food or mexican food?
Italian Food and Mexican guacamole. Perfect dinner.

Blogs I am nominating:

Don’t forget to leave me a link to your blog when you’ve answered! I can’t wait to read more about you and I hope you enjoyed learning a little something about me. 

Questions for my new bloggy friends...
1.   If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go?
2.   What is your favorite food?
3.   What do you usually do on Sunday?
4.   What’s your favorite Holiday tradition?
5.   What would you do if you couldn’t teach?
6.   What is something you are afraid of?
7.   How would you describe your style?
8.   Would you prefer seasons or beautiful, sunny weather all year long?
9.   What made you decide to start a blog?
10.      What do you do to treat yourself?

Don’t forget to leave me a link to your blog when you’ve answered! I can’t wait to read more about you and I hope you enjoyed learning a little something about me. 

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Cyber Monday Sale on TeachersPayTeachers!

Happy Thanksgiving Everybody! I hope everyone has had a wonderful and restful Thanksgiving Day. And for those of you who were doing most of the cooking, thank you for making it a restful day for the rest of us ;)

Anyway, I am announcing that I am participating in TeacherPayTeacher's Cyber Monday sale! All of my items are on sale for 28% off! The sale is for 24 hours starting on Monday 11/26.  I just posted two new Holiday Literacy Centers, but most of my things are for the Fall, so you can stock up for next year.

By the way, check out my two newest literacy centers:

Happy Holidays and Cyber Monday shopping!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Product Review: Thanksgiving Comprehension Activities

Hello All!

I know that many of you are enjoying a week off and be sure that I am completely envious. Although we get a half day on Wednesday, I am less than excited to be heading to the airport the evening before Thanksgiving. But I'm sure my bitterness will be all forgotten when I am eating pumpkin cheesecake on Thursday :)

Anyway, I bought a unit on TPT the beginning of this month and I am really loving it! I felt that Jessica Tobin from Second Grade Nest deserved a shout out!

Her unit comes with 5 Thanksgiving short stories with corresponding comprehension worksheets and they are fantastic! I've been using them for my Reading Comprehension center and I love that they correspond to my November Thanksgiving Theme. I saw that she just posted a Christmas unit as well, so I will absolutely purchase again. *Hint Jessica, if you do this for every month of the year, you have at least one loyal customer*

Click here to check it out!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Guided Reading: Reading A-Z

Although I've always worked at a school with a basal reading program (either Houghton-Mifflin or Open Court) I have never been a fan in the "one-size-fits-all" approach of the reading materials provided. Students who are not right in the middle or either bored or overwhelmed by the texts, depending on their ability level. 

This is why I love guided reading. Once students are leveled, I can give students books that are just challenging enough for their level and keep all students engaged. Unfortunately, I've found that plentiful guided reading libraries are rare in the low-income, inner city schools I've worked in. 

Luckily, there is a website for guided reading books that I've been using for the last few years. Reading A-Z is a website that allows (paying) members to download leveled books for printing and copying. The website has a correlation chart for both DRA and Fountas and Pinnel leveling systems and print the correlation on each book.

The website

You do have to make the books yourself by folding and stapling which takes time, but its a much lower up-front cost for schools. (About 70 dollars a year). One could argue that with the cost of ink and paper it might even out with the cost of a traditional guided reading library, but I haven't found that argument to work with cash-strapped schools. I think it's a great resource for those who don't have access to a full guided reading library. Anyone else have tips on acquiring a guided reading library?

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Thanksgiving Literacy Centers

Now that its November it's time for Thanksgiving Literacy Centers! I feel like we're barely in school in November with Veterans Day and Thanksgiving Break, but I've still been creating activities for the students when we ARE in school.

I've created 3 so far.

Punctuation Sort: Students sort sentences into statements, exclamatory phrases, or questions

Long U Vowel Sort: Students sort long U words by the long u phonics rule

A & E Vowel Sort: Students sort words into either Long A, Short A, Long E, or Short E.

Check them out on TeachersPayTeachers:

Thanksgiving Punctuation Sort

Thanksgiving Long U Sort

Thanksgiving Vowel Sort (A & E)

Linked up to 4th grade frolics Made it Monday November Edition:

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Currently November

Linking up with Oh' Boy 4th Grade's Novemeber Currently. Check it out to link up too!

Listening to election coverage needs to stop. The media hoopla is too much at this point. I should watch more of The Walking Dead. WAY more enjoyable.

I'm sure all of you agree that we need more hours in the day. Or eliminate the biological need for sleep. Either/or.

Happy November!

Parent Conferences: Talking About Reading Levels

I cannot believe it is already the 8th of November! Time is moving so fast. Last week I was preparing for parent conferences like a mad woman, mostly because I was going out of town over the weekend and wouldn't have time to do any preparation.

I generally enjoy parent conferences. I'm a pretty open communicator from day one, so most parents who have children who are struggling, either behaviorally or academically, are aware of the situation before they come in. And for those parents who have students who are right on track, it is wonderful to validate all their hard work and effort.

One goal I have had for this year is making reading levels more comprehensible to parents. This year I have started by putting the independent levels and a description on their report cards on the comments section, so it might say

Reading Level N: Slightly above end-of-the-year second grade level

Obviously parents whose are below grade level get very worried when they see the levels written this way, but I reassure those parents whose kids are only slightly below that being one level behind in second grade isn't going to cause their child to be held back. It just means they need to practice and build up their confidence. Of course the parents of students who are many levels behind need to be aware of how far behind their child is so they aren't shocked at the end of the year. It may be upsetting, but it is much better to know now and start working towards improvement than to be in the dark!

In addition to giving parents information about their child's reading level, I've given parents a list of books at their child's independent and instructional level that I got from Scholastic's Book Wizard. I type in the level and get a huge list of books at that level.

Parents can take the list to the library or the book store so they are empowered to find books that help their child at their own level. I've often found parents want their kids to read book too high or low at home, and this helps eliminate that problem! I also gave parents the link to the book wizard so they can access the site at home. 

So far this seems to be a great resource for parents. Anyone else have good suggestions for parent conferences?

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