Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Teacher Tidbit Tuesday: What Makes You Happy?


My happy list, of course, starts with my family! I am incredibly blessed with three adorable children and a wonderful husband. 


I love having a job that allows me to be mom all summer long, but also do something that I love! 

Some of the other things that I love are:

Setting up my classroom each year for a fresh start. One of the best parts of being a teacher is that every school year is different. We get to know new kids and try new things. 

I love creating cozy, inviting spaces in my classroom.


The Fall! Fall is my favorite season of all. I love when the weather turns cooler and the leaves begin to change color. I love sweater weather, pumpkins, and apple picking!


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Reading. I love reading a book and escaping into a new world. Reading is one of my favorite ways to relax.

Enjoying a perfect summer day!

What are the things that make you most happy?
Share with me!

Thanks again for joining me in this week's edition of #teachertidbittuesday!

Melissa





Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Teacher Tidbit Tuesday: Top 10 Movies of All Time


We all know there are some movies that you can watch over and over again, and others you'll only watch once or twice. Here are my top 10 favorite movies of all time!

1. "I Am Sam" 

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Sean Penn's acting in this movie is amazing! When his daughter is taken away from him by child protective services because of his disability, Michelle Pfeiffer becomes his lawyer in order to help him fight to get her back. The message that "Love is All You Need" is incredibly powerful in this sweet movie.

2. "Beauty and the Beast" 

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Beauty and the Beast has always been my favorite Disney movie. When this version of the movie came out, I was so worried that it wouldn't live up to my expectations. However, I was pleasantly surprised. 

3. "Harry Potter" Series

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All of the Harry Potter movies were so fantastic to watch. I loved watching these characters (and actors) grow as the series continued. I can watch these movies over and over again. So magical!

4. "Sweet Home Alabama"

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I love a happy ending. This movie is one of those stories where you know exactly what is going to happen, but it's still so much fun to watch. And, who doesn't love a Reese Witherspoon movie? (If you haven't seen the alternate ending that could have ruined this movie, well, maybe just skip it! It would have been an awful way to end the movie!)

5. "Back to the Future" series

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The Back to the Future series was one of my favorites as a kid. I will always love this series. It is so much fun to go back and watch the movies now and see how much has changed since they were made. (And, how much is not exactly as predicted for the future!)

6. "Hope Floats"

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Sandra Bullock is another one of my favorite actresses of all time. I love so many of her movies, but Hope Floats is one of my top favorites. This another sappy, sweet movie that just makes you feel happy. The soundtrack to this movie is also one of my favorites!

7. "Mystic Pizza"

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This movie from Julia Roberts's early days of acting is another classic in my opinion. I love watching these girls and their romantic problems in this fun romatic comedy!

8. "10 Things I Hate About You"

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A young Heath Ledger is only one of the reasons I love this version of Shakespeare's "Taming of the Shrew." Julia Stiles character in this movie is so fun as an angst-filled teenager! 

9.  "Practical Magic" 

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Sandra Bullock and Nicole Kidman as witches! I loved this movie so much! This movie also has another soundtrack that is excellent as well.

10.  "13 Going On 30"

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The last movie in my top 10 list is another feel-good, happy ending movie. I love Jennifer Garner and her movies. This movie is such a fun one to watch, and a good reminder that we all need to add a little fun into our lives!

Were any of my top 10 movies your favorites too? What movies are your favorites? Share with me in the comments below! I'd love to hear from you!

Melissa



Thanks so much for joining me for another #teachertidbittuesday this week! 

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Teacher Tidbit Tuesday: How to Plan Out Your Classroom Design


I start my classroom design plan for the next school year at the end of each school year. We have to leave a floor plan layout for our custodial staff in the window of classrooms before leaving for summer break. I am so appreciative of our custodial staff for setting up all of the furniture in my classroom each year because this is a huge task! (I realize this is not how it works in every school! I'm a lucky girl!) 


I leave a basic drawing of where I want all of my big furniture items. This way all of my layout is set up when I return from summer break. (I sometimes decide to make a few changes after returning, but this is such a huge time-saver having it all set up!) 

Another thing that I do at the end of each school year is pack (and label) an open me first box for when I return. 



I pack all of the items that I know I'm going to need right away when I come in to set up my classroom into my "open me first" box. Glue gun, glue sticks, stapler, etc. This way I'm not spending an hour to try and find these items when I come in to set up! 

Another huge time-saver that helps me when I go in to set up my classroom is that I plan out each of my walls/bulletin boards before going to school. I used to waste all kinds of time at school trying to figure out what I wanted on each wall, which borders to use with which background. I found that if I planned it all ahead of time, it really helped me get more done while I was at school. 

I have 3 kids at home with me all summer, so I really only get to go into school for a couple of days to set up. Having a plan has really helped me to get everything done in a short amount of time! I also always enlist help to get my classroom set up. My husband takes off a day from work to come in and help with any big items (like putting together book shelves, etc.) I also have had help from just about every one of my family members (mom, dad, sister, cousins, grandma, aunt, niece, etc... if they're willing to help, I take it!) I've tried bringing my own children, but I've found they create more work than help...maybe in a few years! Former students also love to come in to help set up! 


I am also very careful when I pack my room at the end of the year. I pack my library in reverse alphabetical order and label each of the boxes with the order in which to open them. This way I don't have to spend hours re-organizing my library as I unpack it! 

Remember, it doesn't have to be perfect on that first day of school. You have all school year to make changes! Allowing your students to be a part of that design gives them some ownership of the classroom. So, I often leave blank bulletin boards (with just a background and border) so we can add to them together. 

Making our classroom into a cozy, inviting space for my students is one of my favorite things to do as a teacher. It can be very hard to get so much done in only a couple of days. I hope some of these tips can help you make your learning space into a space you love to share with your students. 

Melissa



Join us again next week for #teachertidbittuesday as we share our top 10 favorite movies of all time!

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Teacher Tidbit Tuesday: Favorite Instagrammers


Instagram has been an amazing source for teacher inspiration for me in the last few years. I love seeing what other teachers are doing in their classrooms, and then tweaking it to make it work for me. I think it is important to remember that teaching is all about collaboration and sharing, it is NOT a competition! We are all after the same goal: What is best for children. I hope that when teachers look at my IG page they find a source they can use to get some new ideas for their own classroom. I love the Teacher Instagram community, and I hope all teachers use it as a positive source for inspiration!

There are so many amazing teachers on Instagram, but here are a few (other than my blog co-hosts) that I love to follow!


Joanne from Head Over Heels for Teaching was one of the first teachers that I started following on Instagram. Joanne has more creative ideas than any teacher I have ever met! She loves to have fun in her classroom, and she is constantly sharing great ways to motivate students.   


One of my favorite ideas from Joanne is her theme board. After she shares a book with her class, she has her students discuss the book's theme. After they decide on a theme, she posts the cover of the book underneath the theme topic. This way they can refer back to the books they've shared together all year long. I started doing this with my students, and I love it! It makes an incredible difference in the students understanding of theme, and it gives us so many common texts to refer to during classroom discussions. 


Michelle from Apples and ABC's is another one of my favorite teachers to follow on IG. She co-teaches 4th grade with her teacher-friend, Layla. (What an amazing opportunity for any teacher-mom! I'd love it if my school district allowed that!) Her IG stories always make me smile, and I love following along with her on Instagram!


Michelle has an awesome eye for design. She makes some of the most adorable bulletin boards and classroom decor items that I've ever seen! I've used some of her bulletin boards in my classroom, and I always receive so many compliments on them! 


Josie from Maniacs in the Middle is just so much fun to follow on Instagram! She is always laughing and having fun while doing her job! Her young, fresh energy in the classroom is so contagious. You can tell she truly loves her job! 


Josie's playlists on Spotify have been my go-to for classroom use this year. I know she will have classroom appropriate songs that I can play for my students while they are working. I love that she has taken the time to make several different playlists that I can use for a variety of purposes. 


Courtney from Ramona Recommends is a fifth grade teacher that loves using picture books in her classroom. She has an incredible collection of picture books that would make any reading teacher jealous! I think picture books are such amazing resources for upper grade teachers. Picture books allow us to share an entire story in a single lesson. They can be used in so many ways for instruction. 


Courtney is always sharing new book recommendations, and ways to use the books in your classroom. Whenever I need an idea for a picture book to use in my classroom, I turn to Courtney's Instagram page for inspiration! 


Jill from Hello Fifth is another fifth grade teacher that I love following along with on Instagram. She has so many great ideas for classroom instruction. I love when she shares something she's been doing in her classroom that I can turn around and implement in my own classroom. She's adorable, fun, and full of great teaching ideas!


I love this board that Jill created in her classroom for interactive sentence studies! This is sitting in my TpT cart right now just waiting for the BTS sale. Students love getting out of their seats and being an active part of their learning! I think this board will be such an incredible resource to have in my classroom. 

I thank these girls and all the other Teacher Instagrammers out there for always sharing your ideas with us. I'm so happy to have this community as a resource for my classroom. 

Melissa

Don't forget to join us for #teachertidbittuesday again next week as we discuss how to plan out your classroom design!




Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Teacher Tidbit Tuesday: What's Your Summer Routine?


My summer is anything but routine, and that's what I love most about it! During the school year we are so busy from the time we wake up until the time we go to sleep at night, our days often become a bit monotonous. So when summer comes around, I am ready to drop all of those routines and just let our days plan themselves. 

I have three children that are all in an activity or two, so we do have some soccer and swimming lessons pre-planned for us each week, but I don't make them follow a schedule every day. 

I LOVE being able to sleep in during the summer, so our days start out a few hours later than they do during the school year. I also prefer to stay up later in the summer (after my children are in bed) to read, check out Instagram or Pinterest, or watch something other than Disney Junior on television. 

This summer we took our first two weeks off to take a Florida vacation. This was the best choice I've made in a long time! I really needed to get away after the end of a long school year. It was great to get away with my family and not think about anything school related for 2 whole weeks! Sometimes taking a little time off the grid is the best medicine for yourself! 

A trip to the beach was exactly what we needed!

I finally made it to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter!
As we enter July, I will try to schedule some time each week to take a look at some of that teaching curriculum material that I brought home. There's also a large stack of books that I'm working my way through this summer. But, I really do try to focus on my family during the summer. I have all school year long to worry about that work stuff!


I missed last week's TTT on my teaching history, but here's the shortened version!

I have been incredibly lucky to work in a wonderful district with amazing people and great kids for the last 17 years. I was given this job on my 2nd interview after college, and I've never left. (Why leave a good thing?) I have been teaching 5th grade for my entire career, and I still love it just as much (if not more) than when I first started. 

This year I am starting out on a bit of a new adventure, as our 5th grade begins to departmentalize. I will be teaching Reading/ELA/SS to 2 sections of students each day. I will have one group that is our G/T group, so I am excited to change up my routine a little bit. I absolutely love Reading and Social Studies, so I'm really looking forward to being able to focus on what I love. 



Be sure to join us again next week for #teachertidbittuesday as we share some of our favorite Instagrammers! You won't want to miss these #mustfollow accounts!

Don't forget to follow me on Bloglovin!

Thanks,
Melissa

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Teacher Tidbit Tuesday: My Top 10 Favorite Picture Books



 There are so many amazing picture books available to us, and I think picture books are an incredible resource for teachers at all grade levels! Picture books are short enough to share in a single seating, and can be used to teach all different types of reading skills and strategies. Choosing my top 10 favorite picture books is an impossible task; however, here are 10 of my favorites.

Piggie Pie! by Margie Palatini

1. Piggie Pie! by Margie Palatini is one of my favorite picture books of all time. In the story, Gritch the Witch is looking to make herself a piggie pie, but she must first find all the piggies she needs for the recipe. She has a little trouble in her search, since all the piggies on Old MacDonald's farm found themselves disguises before she arrived. The story is full of allusions, which I teach each year during our Figurative Language unit. 

Lady Pancake and Sir French Toast by Josh Funk
2. Lady Pancake & Sir French Toast by Josh Funk is an adorable picture book told in quatrain poems. The characters are at odds with one another when they find out the fridge is almost out of syrup. They race through Broccoli Forest and Potato Mash Mountain to try and get to the last tasty bit, but discover in the end it is best to be friends (and share.) The clever characters, use of vivid verbs, and juicy adjectives make this book a must for any writing unit.

George vs. George by Rosalyn Schanzer

3. George vs. George by Rosalyn Schanzer tells the story of the American Revolution from both sides. I love using picture books to integrate in our social studies curriculum, and this book is perfect during our study of the Revolutionary War. The book has lots of good factual information about the lives of King George III and George Washington before, during, and after the war. The book is excellent for focusing on looking at multiple perspectives of an event in history. 

Train to Somewhere by Eve Bunting

4. Train to Somewhere by Eve Bunting is another historical fiction picture book. This book gives us a small glimpse into life of a young girl that traveled on an Orphan Train. During the late 1800's and early 1900's thousands of children were sent from New York City to the Midwest to small towns and farms. I like to share this book with my students to expose them to this part of our American history that isn't often talked about in our history books.

Stellaluna by Janell Cannon
5. Stellaluna by Janell Cannon is another one of my absolute favorite picture books. This is story of a bat that is separated from her mother at a very young age and is "adopted" by a family of birds. She learns that not all friends look and act the same all the time. It is a sweet story with a wonderful message. 

 
The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt
6. The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt is such a clever picture book! The story is told from the perspective of the crayons. Each crayon writes a letter to Duncan (the owner of the crayons) to share his/her feelings. It is a great story to teach perspective. I've read it before, and then had the students write from the perspective of other objects (school supplies) of their choice. 

The Junkyard Wonders by Patricia Polacco
7. The Junkyard Wonders by Patricia Palacco is such a special book. This book tells the story of a young girl that moves to a new school and joins a class that is like no other. The students come together after losing one of their classmates to work on special project. This heart-warming story helps to show that everyone is a wonder in their own way. This book is great for discussing theme with students. 

Bad Boys by Margie Palatini
8. Bad Boys by Margie Palatini is a fun story to share with students of all ages. These big, bad wolves are always up to no good. They need to find a place to lay low for a while after causing some trouble. The boys decide to hide out for a while as a couple of wolves in sheep's clothing, but don't worry these bad boys will still get what they deserve! Margie Palatini's story telling is so clever, she's one of my favorite picture book authors. 

Peanut Butter & Cupcake by Terry Border
9. Peanut Butter & Cupcake by Terry Border has adorable photographs to go along with the sweet story. Peanut Butter has trouble going out to make a new friend. He tries out several different combinations before finding his best fit in Jelly. My students loved this story. I used it in one of my book baskets while we were working on identifying theme. Several of them read it more than once. 

The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs! by Jon Scieszka
10. The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs! by Jon Scieszka has been a long-time favorite of mine in the classroom. In this story, the wolf is given a chance to tell his side of the story. I use this book to begin our Fairy Tale Unit on comparing/contrasting stories told in multiple perspectives. We read this book together (I have a class set of this book thanks to Scholastic!) and carefully look at the similarities and differences in how the story unfolds as it is told from each of the different perspectives. We discuss point of view vs. perspective, character development, and write a compare/contrast essay.  After we have done this together, I have the students read other fractured fairy tale to analyze as well on their own or with a partner. 


I'm always on the lookout for new children's literature that I can use in my classroom. I think picture books are one of the best ways that we can teach students new skills & strategies. 

Don't forget to join us again next week for Teacher Tidbit Tuesday! Join us by adding the hashtag #teachertidbittuesday so we can find your posts! 

Melissa