Sunday, June 30, 2013


Today I am participating in Farley's "Currently..." link up.
*Big Brother-  I spent many years watching this and the online content.  I have not watched it for a few years now, but am looking forward to watching it again as a summer guilty pleasure :-)

*Adam-  My husband has been taking excellant care of me.  This Friday my back went out again when we were at the parade.  He sat on a picnic bench with me forever as we waited for the parade to end so I had something to rest my back against. He waited up Friday night to make sure I was safe with the meds I needed to take and able to sleep.  Yesterday he took care of me all day and even got up at 5 in the morning to make sure I could make it to the bathroom safely and made me a small snack so I could take my meds.  He is AMAZING!  It is hard to believe that it was 15 years ago this weekend that we first met.

*2013-2104-  I am already getting set up for next year.  I am excited with many of my plans.  Hoping though things don't change drastically once I get back.

*my back-  My back has been bugging me for a month now.  I had it lock up completely twice now and the last time included spasms.  I had an MRI had had 2 disk protrusions.  I am now waiting to see neurology and trying to take it easy.  I did to much walking and sitting on Friday and ended up in pain again. Hoping to make a trip home to Ohio, but I need my back in shape again first.

*to get out- I am not a homebody and all the time I have been on bed rest is getting to me.  I missed being a part of the parade Friday, the musical yesterday, and now the Drum Corp show tonight, ugh!

*Find your passion-  Pick something you love and are passionate about and blogging will not be a chore.  Reflecting on your passion will also revitalize and spark your teaching.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Optimum Organization

It is Saturday, that mean's its time for Optimum Organization with and!

Being out of my classroom and moving into a new room it is hard to have many of my organization ideas, but I decided I could work on some digital/record keeping organization.

Teaching in MN we do not follow the Common Core Standards.  We are one of a few states who do not.  We have MN State Standards for all subject areas and we have used them to create school ELOs (essential learning outcomes) and Learning Targets.  Each grade level has broken up their ELOs by hex.  I teach a replaced reading and math class so I want to be able to work on those ELOs with my students but at their level.  I am often looking for ideas and decided that making a spreadsheet would allow me to keep track of my resources easier and have a place where I can monitor my students.  My goal is for my students to master as many of these as they can at their independent levels.  If they don't master an ELO this next school year my hope is that they have had ample exposure and practice.  They may not be at grade level with tasks, but they will be familiar with terms and vocabulary.  I will use texts at their reading level and be able to focus on these important targets along with their IEP goals.  Our IEP goals are now written based on state standards.

Here is the spread sheet I created for 5th Grade Language Arts.  I can't wait to go back and link to mentor text lessons and nonfiction passages from Read Works


Earlier this year I learned about Ideapaint.  I thought it was a great way to turn an old unused space or surface into something amazing!  I instantly thought it would be awesome to cover a table in, a cabinet door, and at least part of my walls.  I imagine my students using it for interactive bulletin board type situations, for brain storming when writing, and for scratch paper for math.  I have students who struggle or resist "pencil and paper" tasks and I think this would be a great motivator for them.  How awesome would it be for me to be able to write a word bank for students on my table as they take a classroom test and they could cross off answers and erase when they were done all without leaving the table.  While movement in the classroom is important, having to move a lot during a task for supplies can make it very hard for a student to refocus.

I am moving into a new classroom this year, well new to me, it is actually one of the last rooms in the school to get a make over since we moved into the old high school 8 or so years ago.  I love having a space that is inviting, innovative, and inspiring and that is what I am striving for as I design my new learning space.

Here are a few pictures of my room before I do anything to it:

Here is my room with desks still in it. They are all already gone. I use tables for small group work. In the back corner you can see the sink I now have. There is also a huge closet in that corner. Love that the cabinets are gray instead of the typical 70's colors in other parts of the building. I do need to find a rug to help the floor out.

Leftover brackets from the days of pulldown movie screens. These are already gone and the holes are patched thanks to the awesome custodians in my school building. Now this wall is begging for something awesome!

My room has great lower cabinets and tons of outlets, which is great! It has only one ugly bulletin board that must be covered ASAP. Luckily I have lots of ideas for it!

Leftover brackets from the days of pulldown movie screens. These are already gone and the holes are patched thanks to the awesome custodians in my school building. Now this wall is begging for something awesome!

 The outdated dinosaur tv left from the days of Channel 1 News. Can't get rid of it since it was given to us by Channel 1, quite possibly before I was born. Now to come up with something creative for it.
To remind you of what my room used to look like.  This is just one corner, but doesn't it feel warm, inviting, and welcoming?

Dear Ideapaint,
I need your help to help my new room!  I know this can transform my classroom while inspring other teachers in my building to transform their rooms! Help this teacher put inspiration into action!


Mrs. A.

Five for Friday (belated)

1.  It has been a rough week for my back this week.  I had an MRI done on Monday where somehow I survived holding still in that tiny tube.  I think my years of being around percussion and the marching band helped to handle all the banging. I have 2 protruding discs and am now waiting for an appointment with neurology.  I am hoping to get in sooner then they were able to schedule me.  I felt better a few days this week and now I am having a lot of muscle spasms on my right side.

2. Skyping!  This week my summer school had the chance to Skype another summer school class.  We had the chance to play mystery states with them.  My class had a blast, even if it took us all 10 clues to figure out their state with North Dakota, even if they are right next door to us state wise :-).
A big thanks to: @amybraddock

3. Field Trip Day!  On Friday this week we headed to a local park.  It has a zoo that has animals native to Minnesota!  Our favorite animals had to be the otters, bobcat, and porcupines.  We were able to see the bobcat fed.  He was having steak for lunch.

4. Rochesterfest!  This week is the big festival in town.  Last night was the parade that the band I work with marched in.  I unfortunately spent the night waiting back at camp due to being in back.leg pain.   I also missed out on competing at the Rochesterfest Tri last weekend.  I did have fun volunteering helping people transition from bike to run.  I also watched Adam complete another successful Tri.  

5.  I have been using Wonderopolis in my classroom the past 2 weeks.  My students love it!  It is great for reading comprehension, listening comprehension, vocabulary, and writing.  We signed up for Camp Woner-a-lot and I got a cool welcome kit in the mail for free!

Wonderopolis from NCFL on Vimeo.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013


I am so sad to lose Google Reader any day now.  I have used Google Reader to read my blogs for years now.  For the time being I have moved to  This seems to be an easy way to access and keep track off all of the blogs I read.

My blog can be found there at: <a href="">Follow my blog with Bloglovin</a>

Tori at Tori's Teacher Tips is hosting a bloglovin' blog hop!

I know when I add blogs I put them into categories.  I am already need to break them down more into things like middle school, book blogs, special ed, etc.

Visit her site to find more blogs to follow! :

Monday, June 24, 2013


I love to read and summer gives me more time to enjoy reading!  During the school year I probably read 4 or so books  month, but in the summer I can read 10 or more books a month.  I read a variety  professional development, middle grade novels,  young adult,  picture books, and of course a few beach worthy novels.

Through Twitter I have gotten to know (at least through following) some fellow book lovers.  These are people who are librarians and teachers by day.

The challenge for this group is to read over 2, 873 books in one month.  Everyone in the group will be working together to read more and more.

I am hoping this challenge gives me encouragement to get through my ever growing pile of to be read books (TBR Pile).  I was given new books right before school let our for my classroom library and I have at least 5 professional development books I would like to read.

If you want to know more head to Heise Reads to learn more or join us!

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Optimum Organization Saturday

Hosted by:  funin4b  and Ladybug Teacher Files
Things were pretty crazy at the end of school a year ago as usual.  It might have been slightly crazier due to my teaching partner of 6 years moving to a new classroom and a new teacher taking her spot in my room.  We are required to have everything off of our desks and most surfaces for the summer.  My room did not have a lot of built in storage so the closet was often jam packed.  I used this closet to keep all of my extra school supplies.  I love school supplies so my extras are quite the surplus.  I collect notebooks and folders anytime I can find them less than a quarter so I always have what I need on hand.

At the end of the school year after packing up my closet looked like this:  

This was bad!  There were supplies all over the place and varies things from around the room crammed in empty spots.  There was no rhyme or reason for the organization.  I just tried to shut the doors and forget about everything in there.

Last summer my husband and I took a great trip to Vegas with friends:
Vegas was not kind to me and I lost most of the small amount of money I was willing to lose playing penny slots and later video poker.  One of my favorite things in Vegas is the great food.  I especially love Max Brenner's, a restaurant that is all about chocolate.
While I was at Max Brenner's enjoying some yummy chocolatey goodies I checked my email.  There was an email from the Container Store.  I opened it and was surprised and amazed to find out that I had won a $1,000 gift card from their store for my classroom!  I had entered in their blog in the spring and was picked to be one of 10 teachers across the US who won!  I was so excited!  I love the Container Store so this was perfect!  Plus I knew my room was going to need lots of help and attention in the fall.

I spent a few hours right before school on a Container Store shopping spree. I knew I wanted to get things to fix the closet and a few other trouble spots in my room.  I also wanted to get things to share with my coworkers who work so hard day after day and are a part of my amazing team.  

After my shopping spree and a few hours of work I had my closet looking like a Container Store Ad, perfect and functional:
I was able to group all of my supplies together into baskets for easy use and it kept things that were often sliding all over like folders and notebooks all in one spot.  I used my label maker to label the baskets as well.

This year I am moving classrooms so I will have to make some changes due to a different sized closet in my room.  I am hoping to make the new set up just as organized though!

Be sure to stop by again on another organization blog hop to see other spots I organized in my classroom.

A huge thank you to the Container Store for their generosity!

Friday, June 21, 2013

5 for Friday

Brushing the dust off of this blog in hopes of maintaining it more this summer.  Thanks for sticking around or stopping by as a new reader.

It is hard to believe it is the first day of summer!  It is finally feeling like summer here.  We have had some warm days and a few storms.  We are under a storm watch currently.  I was inspired by summer to fix up my blog to reflect the fun days ahead.  I have not had much summer yet as I taught classes, prepared for summer school, and later taught summer school in my days off.

I have been busy reading and collecting titles to read.  I have always loved reading and summer gives me the time to finally read.  I can't wait to join up with The Nerdybook Club this Sunday for #titletalk.  I always add a ton of books to my wishlist. I am reading one of my favorites The One and Only Ivan with my summer school class this summer.

This year I packed up my classroom of 7 years to move to a new room in the building.  It is a room that has been used minimally over the years so it is pretty much a fresh slate and in need of some TLC.  I have grand plans and hope to get in to paint soon.  It will be strange setting this room up for one teacher from the beginning.  I shared my old classroom for 6 years.  I hope all of my furniture fits.  I had to wait to move any of the furniture in until the floors were waxed.  I am hoping to be able to figure out away to continue to use only lamps in my classroom, but with no window it may be tough in the new space.

This year was supposed to be the year to shine, but it has been pretty rough so far.  I am really trying to keep a positive outlook, but so much has gone wrong it seems.  This summer will hopefully be a time to recharge and get that positive spark back!

One of the concerns I have had this summer is with my back.  It started hurting Memorial Day Weekend while I was running the Med-City Half Marathon.  I have been in for x-rays and started on some physical therapy.  This week at summer school though it started to lock up and hurt very bad.  I went back into the doctor and she ordered an MRI to be done early next week. I am back on activity restrictions.  I have missed the past 3 days of summer school due to not being able to get out of bed or be steady on my feet.  It has been hard for me to be away and know that others are having to work harder because of my absence.  I hope to be back on Monday.  My back has also kept me from racing this summer. I will miss my second planned triathlon this weekend.  I do plan to volunteer and cheer on my husband this weekend though.