Monday, July 21, 2014

Best. Summer. Ever! My Top 5 Vacation Memories from 2014

Today is my last day of summer vacation.  Sniff, sniff.  It's so hard to say goodbye.

I tried to savor every moment.


Recently, I have begun negotiating.

Dear Summer,

Denial has been my constant companion.



Alas, acceptance has come grudgingly.


But, between you and I, this will be me tomorrow.



Why am I having such a hard time letting go?  


Here are my top 5 summer memories.

1)  On the night of my last day of school, my husband surprised me (and I mean we've been married for 14 years, and he has never done this kind of stuff before…SURPRISED me) with a trip to Puerto Nuevo in Baja California.  I haven't been to Baja in over 9 years since all the scary news reports.  But, everyone said it was over exaggerated and that things have settled down.  So, I anxiously agreed to go. And you know what?  We had a great time!  



2) Doing WHATEVER I want - be it fun, lame, silly, pointless.  It didn't matter because it was what I wanted to do at the time.

Like hiking with my buddy Jack, for instance.  Isn't he cute?



Or, making homemade almond milk.  Why?  Because it's so good, and easy! (and because I paid an arm and a leg for that Vitamix)


I also tried new morning smoothie recipes. (Note to followers;  Watercress in your morning smoothie is NOT advisable.  Bleck!)



3)  We took a family vacation with my Mom, Dad, and sister's family.  We caravanned down to Puerto Penasco, Sonora, Mexico.  It was a loooooong drive at 9 hours, but it was so worth it.  

 A Shell Lover's Dream!



Can't beat spending time with my family.  

4)  I also attended the 1st Annual TPT Seller's Conference in Las Vegas.


I got to meet my Primary Chalkboard family.


Eat at 3 Michelin Star - Joel Robuchon's restaurant.




And spend some much needed alone time with my husband.



5)  Yesterday, I returned from my most recent memorable vacation adventure.  Our annual family campout and reunion in San Onofre, California.  Surfing, sun, laughing, dolphins, and just plain ole' relaxing with my extended family.  


Ok, so there you have it.  Now, you know why I feel like this!



And probably look like this.


You would too, if you had to go back to this tomorrow.  Ugh!


I will leave that story for another day.  Carry on, friends, and enjoy every minute!

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Currently - July!

July sure made its way here in a hurry.  Oh, slow down Mr. Summer!  

I'm linking up with Farley from Oh Boy 4th Grade to bring you this month's Currently.




Listening:  I just downloaded Coldplay's new album from iTunes and I LOVE it.  I love everything they do though.  "Magic" is definitely one of my favorite songs.


Loving:  I adore having nowhere to be, and nothing to do.  (Well that is a half-lie because I have a million things I SHOULD be doing.  But, the beauty of summer is that I can choose when to do them.)


Thinking:  See "Loving" 


Wanting:  Ok, I am heading to Las Vegas in about 10 days to meet up at the big TPT conference, and I wanted to drop 50 pounds a few pounds before I meet all those amazing bloggers. Well, I have been successful in the past with low carb diets, but hated having restrictions on fruits and vegetables.  I mean, duh...it's fruit and vegetables people.  They should be unlimited.  So, a few months back I switched to a Paleo-ish type diet.  It allows you to pretty much eat any nuts, seeds, vegetables and fruit that you like, skip out on the grains (ok) , dairy (not happening), sugar (had to, but went kicking and screaming)- and then you try to make sure you get enough protein.  I didn't realize until I tracked my eating habits that I was not getting enough protein everyday.  Ok, so 2 months into this I have figured out that I cannot have unlimited fruit because it makes me hungry (blood sugar spikes…grrr).  Bummer.  But, right now it is crunch time with T minus 10 days and counting, and just having that in the back of my head is making me want to eat massive quantities of bread with lots of butter.  I will try to fight the good fight because so far I have lost 18 pounds this year, and I never want to go back... Not even for bread and butter.


Needing:  I had laminate flooring put in when we moved into our new home in October of last year.  Well, long story short -  I have planks sliding around this way and that.  Home Depot and their contractor have agreed to redo my floor on their dime, and I have decided that I want a whole new floor.  This whole thing was actually a blessing in disguise because the flooring I choose was a nightmare.  It turned out "cherrier" than I wanted and it is shiny - which means that it. shows. every. little. thing.  It drives me crazy!  I want to get a hand scraped floor with a low shine finish, but need my mom (who is a retired interior decorator) to help me pick it out.  I don't trust myself with these types of big decisions.


4th Plans:  Friends, family, food, and fireworks!  Can't wait.



Hope everyone is having a great summer.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Wrapping Up a Great Year and Wordle Bookmarks!

My last day of school was on Tuesday, and I have to say that I just had my best year of teaching ever.  I LOVED my 1st/2nd grade combo class.  Over the course of the year, I saw kids become readers, and kids who came in as "readers" become true thinkers of text.  Our class discussions were rich and meaningful, and because my students were chosen for their ability to work independently, I was able to differentiate my instruction more than ever, and saw amazing growth in my students.  It was teaching Nirvana.  So, it was with a heavy heart, but with a smile on my face, that I said goodbye to my little darlings on Tuesday.  Sigh.

We spent our last few days celebrating all of our hard work.  This year I used the balloon popping idea, and my students really loved it.  We popped one balloon every day for the last 7 days of school.  It really built up a good amount of anticipation, and kept everyone's behavior on track.  Click on the pic below to get some idea of how to put your own balloon countdown together from my friend Jessica, over at First Grade Nest.



We also worked on our End of the Year Memory Books.  These came out beautifully, and kept my students content and busy for the last two weeks of school.  My students took a lot of pride in their books, and were so proud to carry their little suitcases out of the door on the last day of school.

I did something a little bit different this year, and put a Wordle cloud in their book.  I had never made one of these for my students before, and they just loved it, and kept thanking me.  It was so sweet.  The week before, the kids played SCOOT and left one adjective describing each person on that person's paper. (Amber Polk at The Adventures of a Polka-Dotted Teacher has a form that you could use to gather words for each student - SCOOT style!)  I used those papers (and added a word or two of my own) to make each child's cloud.  Then, I just printed it out on some white card stock. It was super easy, and didn't take as much time as I had feared. Here are some pics of their finished books.





I loved all the labels this student used in her writing.



Brag Alert! My heart burst with pride when I read this from the book pictured below, " I loved that Mrs. Rios made all of us thinking readers." Mission accomplished!


Selfishly, the "My Teacher" is my favorite page.  I love to read what the kids say about our year together. 





Ok, I know this post is already running long.  But, it is about to get even longer.  As I was putting the Wordle clouds together.  I had an epiphany.  I purchased chapter books for all of my students as an end of the year gift, and I thought, how great would it be if they had a Wordle bookmark?  So, I set off to see if I could do it, and it was super easy!  I don't have a template, but here is how I put them together.













The strategically placed heart above is to spare you from having to look at my broken thumbnail.  I swear I broke every nail on my hands the last week of school.  End of the Year is Brutal!











Whew!  That's it! I hope everyone who is already on vacation is enjoying some well-deserved rest.  For  those of you who are still teaching, hang in there!




Saturday, May 17, 2014

Bright Ideas - Unit Resources Organization

Bright Idea Time!  Ohhhh, I honestly get giddy with excitement!

Now I do love and aspire to being organized. But, I am definitely a work in progress.

So, because I need all the help I can get, I make my own "always-at-the-ready" reference books.  All I do is copy all of the songs, mini anchor charts, reference materials etc… that I typically use during the course of a unit, and stick them in plastic page-protectors, and then join them together with a ring clip (I know these have a different name, but for the life of me, I can't remember it right now.)  


I keep each unit resource book in the front of each unit box in my storage closet.  When I start a unit, I take the whole pack and hang it on a thumbtack near my docucam.  Anytime I find a new resource, I just make an extra copy for the "book" before I file it away.  


I really love this idea because I'm always ready now.  Bring it on teachable moment!  

In fact, I love it so much that I keep an ELA and Math set at my small group/intervention table.  If I need to refer to a study page or song to refresh a student's memory, it's right there.  Coins?  Got it!  Counting by 5's?  Hundred Chart is at-the-ready! I've got it all covered.  

I hope this simple idea, can helps you organize your next unit. If you enjoyed visiting, please consider following me on Facebook, Pinterest, or here on my blog.

Ready for more Bright Ideas? Take a look below.

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