2013 Preview and a First to Guess it Giveaway!!

There have been so many linky parties going around that it almost feels like summer to me!  I love having this extra time to blog, blog hop, and basically snoop around in bloggy world!

I have gotten SO many more great ideas for 2013 goals from everyone who has already participated in my Resolution Solution Linky Party that I've decided to set even MORE goals!  I'm linking up with Michelle at Making it as a Middle School Teacher for her 13 in 2013 Linky!
So, here are my additional goals for the new year!
They're pretty self-explanatory, but here's a little more...

I read Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn at the beach this summer and loved it!  If you read thrillers, I highly recommend it AND it was just announced that Reese Witherspoon is going to produce and star in the movie version!  Woot!  Well, last week I read one of her other two books, Sharp Objects.  It was good, too....a little darker, but I like those thrillers!  So, her third book is also on my reading list...already downloaded on my Kindle - just have to find the time to read it now that it's time to get back into the grind!

Most of my professional goals have do do with Whole Brain Teaching.  I have loved EVERY aspect that I've implemented this year, so I just want to continue with this journey!

My classroom "must-have" is whiteboard paint.  I saw it at Lowe's this summer and thought "brilliant" - I think I may want to paint my tables in my room with it!  I know the kids can write directly on the tables with markers, but our tables are a bit dark and I'd like to give this a try!  This kind of ties in with desk nametags...I'm not sure why I'm still using these.  I've thought all along that just writing names directly to the desks is brilliant...just gotta do it!

This is a short post since the hubby is almost home and we're going to settle in for some college football, but I wanted to do a quick giveaway...related to football!

The Super Bowl is coming up and I LOVE setting aside one day to do football-themed activities - the boys eat this up and it's filled with fun, educational activities, too!

I'm giving TWO FOLLOWERS a chance to win the SUPERBOWL UNIT from Teacher's Clubhouse!!

To enter, you just need to do the following three things....

1. Follow my blog (hopefully you already do!)
2. Follow the Teacher's Clubhouse TpT shop
3. Guess my husband's favorite NFL team and/or my favorite NFL team

The first person to guess my husband's team wins the unit (his is super easy!)  The first person to guess my favorite NFL team wins the unit (mine is tougher since it changes quite often depending on the players).  Be sure to specify whose favorite team you think it is - you can take a guess on both!

Just leave a comment with your guesses!!  GOOD LUCK!!

You can preview the Super Bowl Unit by clicking here.  It contains 14 different activities to celebrate the Super Bowl across the curriculum!

*****UPDATE*****It's CURRENTLY TIME with Farley from Oh Boy, 4th Grade!


Sundays in the South: The End {of the Year} is Near

I hope y'all have enjoyed this beautiful Sunday as much as I have!  I'm so sad that my winter break is coming to an end...only two more days and then back to work.  Wah!  I'm soooo jealous of those of you who have this entire week off!  I seem to always need more days AFTER Christmas than before. 

For those of you new to my blog, I like to take Sundays "off" from teaching posts and go a little more personal with posts titled "Sundays in the South."  I know I LOVE when I get a glimpse into your personal lives....it makes me feel like we REALLY are friends...as in real-life instead of just cyber buds! :)

Sundays are my absolute favorite day of the week because it's usually the one and only day that the hubs and I have off of work at the same time.  {insert frowny face} 

Today has not been our usual lounge around the house, trip to Target kind of Sunday though.  Well, we did take a trip to Target, but we haven't been lounging at ALL!  Probably because my husband's Falcons weren't on television today, but I like to think that I inspired him to clean out and organize! {insert happy face because organization puts a BIG SMILE on this face!}

It all started yesterday when I decided to clean out my closet.  I'm not sure what it is about this time of year, but I always feel the urge to do this right after Christmas....probably because I need space to put all the clothes I'm dreaming about buying with giftcards.  :) 

I have a rule that if I buy something new, something old has to go.  Mostly this rule came about because a few years ago we changed ALL of the hangers in our closet to wooden hangers that all match {thanks for that great deal, Costco!}  I bought extra hangers at the time, but as time went on we used them all!  What to do???  I went back to Costco but they didn't have these same hangers and I just couldn't have them NOT match, so "THE RULE" was formed.  It's been a really good rule actually, I've been fairly good about sticking with it! 

I still do purge my closet each season.  What can I say?  I like to shop new clothes {I actually HATE the process of shopping, but my love of new clothes outweighs that!}  Anywho.....yesterday, I got the urge to purge!  Soooo, 66 items of clothes later (many were tank tops, workout pants, and PJs), my side of the closet was a little more organized!
I know the top stacks don't LOOK organized, but trust me, they are!  They're just not very NEAT.
I've thought about turning all of my hangers around backwards until I wear the item so that the next time I purge I can see which hangers are still turned around (meaning I haven't worn those items) and consider purging those items.  Has anyone else tried this??

I love that my husband put the shoe shelves at the back of our closet a few years ago and I think I seriously need to purge that next!  I did get rid of some tennis shoes, but I didn't go near the shoe shelves!
Yep, when there are shoes on top of shoes, I'm pretty sure a purge needs to happen.  Maybe tomorrow?  And how about boots?
{Please excuse the carpet...remember I was cleaning out and hadn't "cleaned up" at this point.}  Not sure about boot storage.  All of my boots and tennis shoes are on the floor.  I saw someone cut pool noodles to put inside of boots to keep them standing and I saw others hang them with pant hangers {ooohh...but those wouldn't match!}  How do you store your boots?  Boots and dresses are definitely a weakness of mine {especially together!!}, but I need boot help!!!

So, what does all of this have to do with my Sunday?!  Well, the hubs decided to clean out and organize HIS SIDE of the closet today!!!!!  I love when he does this!  I'll have to snap a pic tomorrow when he's at work.  His T-shirts will seriously look like he folded them with a folding board (yep, I used to work retail!)  PERFECTION!!  That is, until I do laundry and fold them and put them away! Ha!

Today was dedicated to taking down Christmas decor at our house.  Well, once we got home (from our Sunday Target trip, of course) I went to put something away in the {shiver} closet under our staircase and BOOM! the urge hit me again!  TOTALLY sidetracked.  I had to clean out and organize that closet!

And, I mean "THAT" closet.  You know, the one that houses your vacuum, wrapping paper, and anything that doesn't have a home.  Let's just say my car is packed {again} for a trip to Goodwill tomorrow!  I did some serious cleaning out.  Many summers ago (five years, at least?) I had my mom teach me to sew and I spent the entire summer making purses and bags.

It was fun.

It really was.

But by the end of that summer, I was OVER it.  I don't think I've used my sewing machine since then.  So the five-drawer cart that I had filled with fabrics, trims, etc. - OUT!!  The fabrics, the cart...it will all be at Goodwill tomorrow!

That makes it official.

My sewing life is over.  That felt really good to say!

This closet was seriously scary.  You open the door hoping nothing falls on you.  Or maybe you're hoping it does and then you don't have to worry about entering the closet. :)

Well, it's not perfect, but you can open the door without any worries now.
After THAT sidetrack (and that was a BIG one), we finally got all of the Christmas decor removed and back into the attic.  Well, all of the indoor decor. 

We decided it probably wasn't safe to climb on the roof in the dark to remove window wreaths outside.  It's not safe for ME to do that in the daylight.  Then again, it's not safe for ME to walk down the staircase, but I do that daily. ;)

That will have to wait until Tuesday!  That's right....Tuesday is New Year's Day so the hubs and I will have another rare day together!  Two in one week - whoop! whoop! 

I'm sure I'll have lots of work to do that day (since all of this organizing has cut into my lesson planning), but we'll definitely be watching COLLEGE FOOTBALL all day long!!!!!   Go COCKS!!  And, here's to hoping Cocky can win the Capital One Mascot Challenge!!!

Speaking of watching college football, that's why we went to Target.  Well, not really, we went to Target because it was Sunday - obviously!  But, since we were there, the hubs stocked up on his snacks for bowl games.  Oh yeah, he goes all out with the little weenies and all.  Since I don't eat THAT stuff, I decided to make my own little snack.

I saw this pin on Pinterest and it had my name written ALL over it!
I am definitely a nutty/salty girl, but I have a sweet tooth, too.  Caramel Mix?? Perfection!  The only problem is that the site (click on the pic for the original site) does not provide the ingredients (as far as I can find...or anyone else, it seems).  So, I headed to Publix and found stuff to create my own.  Can I say addicting???  Oh, my word!!
Here's what I found that I thought would work well together.  {Of course, I added a bit of chocolate because everything is better with chocolate, right??}
* Caramel Dulce Cheerios
* Honey Nut Chex
* Caramel Popcorn (Cracker Jacks)
* Caramel Bugles
* Cashews
* Chocolate Granola
* M&Ms

Seriously, I could eat this stuff for dinner.  Okay, I may have done that already.  I stored the mix in gallon-sized ziploc bags and it took THREE bags!  This would be awesome for a large party or if you have to take snacks for a faculty meeting.  It's so different from the "traditional" chex mix (which I'm NOT a fan of, by the way). 

Now you know what I'll be doing for the next couple of days - watching bowl games, eating my caramel mix, purging shoes, and finally tackling those lesson plans!  Hope you're enjoying your last few days {or week, if you're that lucky!} of relaxation.  We'll be back to the grind in a blink!

Right now, I'm off to read your New Year's resolutions...thanks so much to everyone who has linked up to the party!  I love reading your resolutions and find it very comforting that many of us have the same goals!  Let's strive to reach them together! 

Morning Work & Dictionary Practice

I've been working my fingers off trying to get a few new resources finished up for the classroom so that when I return things can be a little less hectic.  Does anyone else do this?  I'm notorious for spending my "breaks" working to get ahead.  I'm not sure if it helps since I still feel like I work non-stop when I return, but I can't imagine if I didn't??  Geez!

One of the things I've worked on this year (and just finished up the last two quarters) are my Morning Work PowerPoints.  I LOVE these because...

1) I can have them up on the board even before the kiddos walk in
2) They review a little bit of everything
3) There's nothing to be copied!!!!!  The kiddos just complete the tasks in a composition notebook.
4) They follow the same format so the kiddos know the routine and can complete them independently

Here's a little sneak peak of the format and what is included....
I'm telling you, these have literally saved my life this year!  Okay...maybe not my life, but my mornings!!  I don't have to worry about searching for an appropriate morning work task, making sure I have it copied, explaining the directions over and over and over as children filter in!  They are available at Teacher's Clubhouse, if you're interested.  But, keep in mind that our PowerPoints are PC Only!

I've also been working on a few Dictionary Activities since we're still practicing using dictionaries.  The kiddos have mastered ABC order to the millionth letter thanks to all the fun games and activities we've used, but they can still use a little more practice on Guide Words, so I created a practice/assessment and this fun little craftivity.
You can pick these up at the Clubhouse for $0.99!

Speaking of dictionaries, did you realize that common core states that students should be able to use digital dictionaries?  Just in case you aren't familiar with Little Explorers Picture Dictionary, let me show you a bit about it....it's an oldie, but a goodie! :)

Little Explorers is part of Enchanted Learning, but you don't need a membership to access it!Yippee!!  You will notice a rainbow stripe across the page that contains the alphabet.  Just click on the letter of the word you'd like to look up and it takes you to that page of the digital dictionary!
The screenshot above is from the "m" page.  Notice it is a PICTURE dictionary, so even if students don't know some of the words, they can use picture clues to figure them out - love it!  If students find what they're looking for, they can click on the word or image to go to a much more in-depth page about that topic.
Here they can even print out a diagram of the macaw!

Some of the letters with a ton of words (like "s") can be a little tricky for students at first!
Since there are so many words that begin with "s" this letter has multiple pages.  Notice at the top this page says "sa" and then there's a stripe underneath with other "s-" pages.  Students will need to put those abc order skills to test and navigate to the correct "s" page to find his/her word.

But here's my absolute favorite part about this site!  They have free QUIZZES that you can use with your kiddos!  Let's take a look back to that first page....

See that almost-hidden-so-much-you-could-almost-miss-it-link in the screenshot above?  Just click on that and it takes you to a TON of ready to use quizzes using this online picture dictionary!!
This screenshot is tough to see, but there are all kinds of categories from animals to science topics to geography!!  I love to pull these out during a unit...fore example, if we're studying mammals, we can hit that science topic and dictionary skills at once!  WIN-WIN!

There are different types of quizzes for multiple levels (Find-It vs. Look It Up!).

Happy Dictionary Digging!!

A Step-by-Step Guide to Student Produced PowerPoints

Today, I blogged over at Technology Tailgate to share how I have my 2nd graders produce their very first PowerPoints.  I gave my step-by-step process....head on over to read about it by clicking below.

Have you linked up to my Resolution Solution Linky Party yet?  If not, go ahead and link up today!  I think I need to add eating healthier to my goals.   I have eaten soooooo much chocolate in the last few days....darn stockings!!  But, I have ran a couple of miles each day since Christmas!  Yay, me!!  Unfortunately, that's not going to do enough to counteract the chocolate! lol

2013 Resolution Solution Linky Party

Here's to a wonderful 2013 for everyone!  As we look forward to ushering in the New Year, we're all setting those {dreaded} resolutions.  You may be one of those who says, "I never set resolutions." But, we all know you're setting them in your head....you're just not making them public.  How do I know this?  Well, I might just be one of those people.  Or was.  You see, if you remember back to the beginning of the school year, I hosted a New {School}Year Resolutions Linky.  My thoughts were that if I actually posted my resolutions on my blog where people would actually read them that my readers {yes, YOU} would hold me accountable for them.  Now, I know that you really didn't care if I was working past 7:00pm, but you see, in the back of my mind, I just thought one of you might call me out on it and therefore, I thought twice about it {or at least, I thought twice about leaving a trail of evidence that I was working past 7:00pm}.

So there.  I'm claiming to have found the SOLUTION to keeping those New Year's RESOLUTIONS - post them publicly on your blog so that your readers can hold you accountable....or at least put that fear in your head! ;)

If you linked up with my New {School} Year Resolutions Linky, you can follow up on those resolutions and let us know how you're doing, or you can set NEW resolutions - school related or personal!  If you didn't link up back in the fall, this is your chance to jump in with us!  Let's all hold each other accountable!

Just post the button below on your blog, linked back to this post so others can link up their resolutions, too!  I've made it easy for you...just copy and paste the code below the button!

Teaching Maddeness
My Resolutions:

For School:
I must say that I've done pretty well with my New {School} Year Resolutions.  I've been trying to remember to take more pictures, I've kept my desk fairly clean, I've said "no" to others to keep the focus on my students, and I've attempted to work smarter instead of harder.  I really think putting these resolutions into writing have helped!  So, here are my New Year Resolutions (on more of a personal level).

1. Stick to Running - As soon as I get on a roll with my running, something happens and I "take a break."  Often this is because my mom (my running buddy) has other commitments and can't hit the gym with me, but I need to make it happen!  Even if she can't go, that's not a reason for me to slack.  My goal (gulp...I can't believe I'm putting this into writing) is to be able to run a half-marathon by this summer!  Notice I didn't say actually RUN one...just that I could if I wanted to.....13.2 miles.  The farthest I've ran so far is 6.5 miles, and I'm sure I can't even do that at the moment, so I have some work to do!!

2. Be More Involved in Charitable Organizations - I donate monetarily, but I really would like to donate in other ways (such as time).  Even if it's just during the summer when I actually have a little time.  I would like to get my kiddos involved in helping charities, as well.  It really is important to take a moment to realize how blessed WE are and to help those who are in need. 

I've done pretty well posting 2-3 times per week, which was my goal since this is my first year as a blogger.  However, I have not been very good at READING and keeping up with others blogs.

1. Find a System for Reading Blogs that Works for Me!  - I usually use Feedler on my iPhone, but I follow hundreds of blogs so I become easily overwhelmed with reading all of them!  I'm one of those people who likes to see her inboxes cleaned out, so I usually get flustered and delete many of them before I even get to them.  I tried subscribing by email to some of my favorites so I could at least keep up with those on a regular basis, but I never received anything.  Maybe that email address blocked them?  I think I'll give this another shot with a different address.  I know I'm missing many great ideas!

That's it.  I'm only adding a couple to my list so that I can realistically achieve them!  I'm counting on you to keep me accountable.  When you post a comment on one of my posts, add, "How far did you run today?"

Link up so I can stalk and annoy you about your resolutions, too!! :)


Budding Bloggers Showcase: Joy in the Journey

 Of course, I've already lost track of the days...anyone else never know the day of the week when school is out?  I hope y'all had a very Merry Christmas and are enjoying a bit of relaxing time with your families.  My husband had to go back to work today, but he has tomorrow off so I'm looking forward to a rare day of fun together!

Speaking of FUN...take a look at the blog I'm showcasing today!  Jessica is a 5th grade teacher who started blogging this year.  She has lots of ideas to share and would love for you to drop by her blog and say hello!  I must admit I'm very jealous of her "pajama planning parties"!!! ;)

Name: Jessica Lawler
Blog: Joy in the Journey
Joy in the Journey
Personal info (state/family/pets/interests):
I am married to my best friend, Jonathan, and we currently live in northern New Jersey so that he can commute into New York City for grad school at NYU. We've been married for a year and a half and are still completely smitten! We love trekking around NYC, reading (our apartment is going to collapse under the weight of our bookshelves!), hiking, watching movies, visiting family, camping, and traveling.
Grade You Teach: I have the extreme privilege of teaching 31 zany fifth graders!
How long have you taught? This is my second year of teaching. I know, I'm a noobie - and am loving every second of it!
What is your favorite subject to teach? Reading! I believe that reading opens up the world to a kid and I love to see their imaginations flourish when books transport them through space and time.
What would we likely see if we popped into your classroom unannounced? My principal calls it "loud learning" :) My students do a lot of partner and group work, as well as move around the classroom for various activities and scavenger hunts. I believe that students learn the most when they take ownership of their learning and work with classmates.
What gets you through one of “those” days?: my fifth grade partner, Rose! She is always there with a listening ear, helpful advice, and a "vitamin" (a piece of chocolate!) She lives nearby and we have weekly Pajama Planning Parties where we relax, plan, and bounce ideas off of one another.
What is one “can’t live without” teaching resource?: Popsicle sticks! I use them to draw random partners, choose volunteers, draw "Mystery Soldiers" (a management system I use for walking in the hallway), etc. I love them!
Give us a glimpse of your teaching style by sharing a brief summary of a favorite classroom activity/project. To accompany a discussion of characters, their traits, and the changes they go through during a story, the class created characters and filled out "bio sheets" for them, answering questions about physicality, personality, and preferences. Then they used brown paper lunch bags, construction paper, and other craft supplies to create a puppet of their character. Once all of the puppets were completed, I interviewed each one on our classroom television talk show, "Lawler Live!" The kids love it and it causes them to think critically about the characters we read.

What is one of your blogging goals for this year? I just started blogging this fall and want to build my followers base, post consistently at least twice a week, and work on creating more original ideas to share with my fellow bloggers!


Welcome Winter Sale & Friday Flashback Linky!

I am joining up with the Welcome Winter Sale so everything at the Teacher's Clubhouse TpT store (primary) and Lightbulb Minds TpT store (intermediate) will be 20% off now through Sunday!  Stock up on some units you'll need soon, like the "Super Bowl Unit" or "Halfway Day Unit." 

This was a short week for us at school...and the last day was filled with Holiday Fun, so I'm just going to take this time to share our {finally} finished informational books!  You can see their progress through my other Friday Flashbacks. 

Students worked on adding special type to their books.  They bolded important words that could be found in their indexes and highlighted important words that could be found in their glossaries.
Then, students designed their covers and I bound them into books!  They were so proud of their final creations. ;)  I must say that this process was soooooo much easier having my own personal laminator and binder in the classroom!  In the past, I've always glued their covers to construction paper and laminated with the school laminator.  Yep, glued, laminated, cut out.....ugh!  This year, I just laminated their covers with my personal laminator - no need for construction paper since the lamination is so much thicker and no need to cut out since the sleeves are paper-sized!  L-O-V-E-it's the little things that save us time! ;)

We started on biographies before we left, but I forgot to take a pic of our affinity diagram!  I'll share that when we return to school.

Are you already out for winter break?  Are you in school the entire week?  Link up and share a snapshot from your week!


SNOW Much Fun!

I am a girl who loves a themed party, so our classroom party is no different!  This year we had a "Snow" theme.  My fabulous room mother planned a little snowman ice cream snack to kick it off!  Each child went through a buffet of toppings to fill a bowl with the goodies they loved.  Then, a parent scooped them each two scoops of ice cream.  They then used their toppings to decorate the scoops to make the snowman of their dreams!
There were snowmen of all shapes and sizes, but the one thing they all had in common were that they were delicious! :)

After eating the snacks, we played some fabulously FUN yet simple minute-to-win-it style games with a snow theme.  My favorite part of these were that there were few supplies needed (mini-marshmallows) and minimal mess!!  Yet the students were engaged, having fun, and concentrating so hard to accomplish the tasks!  My room mom (who is also the room mom for her first-grader) noted that our room was SO MUCH less chaotic than other classes {that was the plan!} ;)

I must say that I got these ideas from another blog post...check it out here.

I began by lining my tables up in rows so that each child could sit across from a partner.  Then each child got a bag of 30 mini-marshmallows.

Game #1:  Snowmen Stacker

Students had one-minute to stack marshmallows three-high to create snowmen!  This was harder than it looked....nobody was able to stack all 10 snowmen, but they sure had fun trying!!

Game #2:  Shovel the Snow
For this game, students needed straws and a cup.  They placed 30 "snowballs" (marshmallows) on the table and worked with a partner to use the straws to pick up the marshmallows and place them in a cup.  The goal was to shovel all of the snow in the cup in one-minute!  Several pairs were able to accomplish this task! 

Game #3:  Snowball Toss
One partner tried to toss all 30 snowballs into a cup being held by their partner.  After one-minute, partners switched roles.  This turned out to be the easiest task of them all for most pairs.

Game #4:  Build a Snowman
Partners decided who would be the snowman and who would be the builder.  The goal was for the builder to wrap ALL of his/her toilet paper around the snowman.  We didn't time this game, we just announced that the first duo who finished would be the winners!
This was our winning snowman!  All she needs is a top hat and a carrot nose! ;)

The snow games were a HUGE success and took up the entire party time (1 hour after the snack)!  If time had allowed, I also planned to let the kiddos have the traditional "snowball fight" (with wadded up paper snowballs) to end the party.  Unfortunately, we ran out of time....maybe next year!

Of course, the kids also received their gifts...
A "Santa Cup" filled with goodies that included a couple of books, candy canes, crazy straw, eraser,  pencil, and "Snowman Soup."  They also each received a wrapped gift (isn't unwrapping the best part!?)
A "Favorites Collage" - a collage with their name, my name, our school, grade, LOTS of their favorite things and some of my favorite things about them.  Sometimes I create these as end of the year gifts for my students, but this year I was inspired to let them know how special they are right now.  I used www.wordle.com to create the collage using shades of the student's favorite color(s).  I gave them a little survey a few days before to collect information regarding their "favorites" that I might not know off the top of my head.  On the back of the frame, I placed a label that said "A Favorites Collage - Just a few of your favorite things mixed with some of your best qualities to remind you why you're one of my favorite students!  Love, Mrs. Madden - 2012"  I hope it will be something that they will cherish and can always look back on to remember 2nd grade...the year when they had "snow" much fun!  :)

Budding Bloggers Showcase: Fifth in the Middle

Whew!  Can I say how happy I am to now be on Christmas vacay?!?  We had an awesome last day and a super fun party...I'll post about that tomorrow!  I'm too exhausted today!!!!  I did wanted to mention that I turned my 26 Random Acts of Kindness post into a linky.  If you are interested in doing your own 26 Random Acts of Kindness in honor of the victims of Sandy Hook, I would love for you to link up and share your list!  I was super surprised to log onto my computer yesterday and see that the 26 RAK wasn't an original idea (little did I know!), but that Ann Curry also had this idea and it went viral!  There's even a Facebook page of everyone sharing their ideas!  How GREAT is that? Can you imagine all of the kindness being spread!? 

Speaking of great, I have a GREAT blog to showcase today!  Diane has been linking up with many of my "Friday Flashback" linky parties and let me just say that she has some FABULOUS ideas!  She may teach 5th grade, but I've been inspired by many of her posts....she even makes teaching 5th grade look appealing to me - that means she MUST be amazing! ;P  Keep reading to find out a little about Diane and then be sure to drop by her blog, click the follow button, and spend a little time snooping around!

I am so excited that Amanda agreed to feature me on her blog! My name is Diane Roethler, and my blog is Fifth in the Middle.
I live in Iowa with my husband of ten years and our two young daughters. My interests include the Iowa Hawkeyes (woo!), all things technology (especially Apple products), and crafting (if I ever get the time). And organizing. I should probably mention that I have some OCD tendencies. Like I've used the same mechanical pencil since my first year teaching, which is why I can't understand students who lose their pencils after one day. And everything must have a proper tab or label. And that I only use my three-hole punch when putting things in binders. All of the papers have to be even, right?! I have an electric three-hole punch on my Christmas list. *fingers crossed*

Anyway, this is my fourteenth year of teaching fifth grade. But this is my first year of teaching fifth grade in the middle school (hence the name of my blog). My district moved my entire grade to the brand-new middle school to address our crowding issues at the two elementaries. Although what I'm teaching isn't much different (I dropped math and picked up another social studies section), the whole transition has been somewhat stressful. The dynamics of the middle school are totally different than at the intermediate school, and that has taken some adjusting.

So now I'm teaching one section of literacy and three sections of social studies, so I guess that makes it my favorite class to teach. And I actually do enjoy the fifth grade social studies curriculum quite a bit. I had my choice of teaching three section of social studies or three sections of math. Although I do enjoy teaching math, it is much harder to address the difference in abilities. Social studies just lends itself to so many stories, and that is what I really enjoy about it. And the fact that the history of the United States from Native Americans to the American Revolution doesn't change from year to year, it really allows me to become somewhat of an expert!

If you popped into my room unannounced, you would probably see lots of hands-on activities and group work. At least in social studies. I'm not sure what you would see in literacy, since this year I have the task of condensing my eighty-minute block of time from last year into a fifty-minute block. I STILL have not had time to meet with small groups, and my brand-new kidney table is sad from its lack of use :( Also, my class will need a LOT of direct instruction on how to work independently while I'm with a small group. That is definitely not one of their strengths.

Caffeine is my friend. Especially Diet Mountain Dew. And chocolate. I love this sign and I have it posted in my classroom.
 It is what gets me through the day. I cheer when I see the Pepsi truck pull up in the bus loading zone. And if the machine is out, we have a Walgreen's a half-block from the school!

There are a few teaching resources that I cannot live without. I know that Amanda asked for one, but I can't really limit it to one. Pinterest is an obvious choice. You can follow me {here}. It plays nicely with my organizing obsession and has been a source for some really great teaching ideas! The other thing that I cannot live without is my document camera. Last year I had an overhead, and my document camera is my new best friend. Oh, and my laminator. Every OCD girl must have her own laminator! In fact, I blogged about it and a few other things {here}.

This year, the other social studies teacher and I bought a candy bar election unit from TpT and ran with it! We developed a wonderful experience for the kids, including the Oompa and Loompa parties, caucuses (which is famous in Iowa), conventions, and the intricacies of the electoral college. We were really quite proud of it, and we received many compliments from other teachers and administration. Although it wasn't as structured as I normally like to have my lessons, the kids had a blast! You can read the details {here}. And just so you don't die of suspense, Kit Kat won by a landslide!

My blogging goals for the year are to continue to talk about the good things going on in my class. Since I take so many great ideas from the blogging community, I really want to give some of those good ideas back. I would also like to reach 100 followers and host my own giveaway! And maybe down the road, I could even host my own linky! I have had a blast during my first five months, and I can't wait to see what happens next!
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