Sunday, August 31, 2014

Good News!

I'm not sure if I have mentioned that this fall, a local university placed a teacher assistant with me. My school has always gotten them from my alma mater (convenient since it's 3 blocks from our school!) but over the last year there have been less candidates and we haven't gotten as many students placed with us as we did previously. This other university reached out and ta-da.

The only weird thing is, their TA program only has students in the classroom for 7 hours per week. The following semester they student teach. That doesn't seem like much time to prepare to me (my TA program was 5 days per week for a half day each day). Well fortunately, my TA also needed a TESOL placement and since I am certified in K-12 ESL, they agreed to let her just stay with me for that also. YAY!

So Miss TA will be with me all day Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. I couldn't be more delighted. She is very sweet and eager to learn. Plus, she will be student teaching at my school in 3rd grade with one of my colleagues (that's another weird thing, my university would never allow students to be in one building all year). I can't wait to help her grow in her teaching...and it'll be much easier to do that if she's with me more than 7 hours per week ;)

Thursday, August 28, 2014

There is no tired....

like Back-to-School tired! Wowza. I haven't even had a day of teaching yet and I am pooped!

Today we had our Open House. In all 9 years of my teaching, I have never had one before school started before, they have always been 2-3 weeks after the year started. Usually we don't get a really stellar turnout. This year, I had 9 students...and 4 were former ones! :) I suspect that part of the reason is that most of these kiddos know me and I know them and if parents are working or whatnot. I got a lot of love tonight though -- two of my former kiddos were upset that I wasn't teaching 5th grade because they wanted to have me again. One of the moms told me that her son cried when he saw that I had 4th again and not 5th. How cute is that?

I have two students who are new to my school and they both came tonight. One boy and one girl. Both were very sweet and I am super excited to have them this year. The young man has a very creative name. I'm not kidding. I can't pronounce it. I know if I try to, I am going to massively screw it up! Fortunately he has a nickname that is much, much easier for me to say. I don't want to have to call him "hey you" for the first few days while I practice my pronunciation! 

This year, I decided I am taking care of me. I am not doing all of the extra stuff I did before. No one really appreciates it when push comes to shove so I'm not doing it. I will keep my social committee but beyond that...I'm taking care of me and my class and that's that. I was chatting with a colleague about it today and she said when you realize that no one else really and truly sees and appreciates your worth, you do have to look inside and take care of you and only you.

Someone told me once that it's not possible to look out for number one (meaning yourself) and be a teacher. I disagree. I will collaborate, I will help someone who asks me, but mostly I am going to shut my door and teach my heart out. I am going to ensure that EVERY child in my classroom feels loved, respected and welcome. Even on the days when they are driving me insane, I still love them. And I want them to know it every single day. I will love you even when you're being a pistol. I will love you when you're doing your damn best as well. 

That's what they need after all. They need love. And this tired teacher is gonna rest up this weekend so I can give them all the love they need.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Weekend + Final Reveal 2014-2015

I spent a good amount of time in my classroom today after not being there since last Tuesday. We spent Wednesday night - Friday mid-morning at our cabin, then I had a not-so-awesome car issue when I got home and had to call in a big favor with a friend so I could still go down and see The Husband this weekend. 

It was sooooo quiet and lovely in Ann Arbor (and really funny since The Husband purposely wore an MSU hat around town and got a ton of dirty looks from the die-hard UofM fans haha). The Husband had to work still so all day Saturday I was pretty much on my own. It was peaceful and quiet and awesome. (I never realized how LOUD my world is until I got back home yesterday...holy moly.) 

The Husband spoiled me rotten while we were in AA together. He gave me money and told me to go to the mall while he was at work. Who was I to say no? :) Then we shopped some more that evening when he was done with work AND he took me out to dinner twice. That never happens at home. I have a nice, new wardrobe for this fall and almost everything I got was on sale which is even better. I took the girls shopping for back to school when I returned home yesterday and they did well also (and we came in under budget..woo hoo!).

Today The Oldest started at the local community college and thus, it meant I needed to take advantage of the fact that I am her ride and spend the day at work. Except for my library, my room is DONE. Yay! (Library literally consists of just resorting the books I brought from home into the existing books. It won't take long.) The Youngest came with me and despite her ADHD tendencies, she was actually quite helpful. I don't think I would have finished today if it wasn't for her help.

I am taking tomorrow off so I can get ahead on my graduate school work since my new classes started yesterday. Wednesday is our official first day back with a full day of PD, Thursday is a building-wide staff meeting and then time in our classrooms for the afternoon, followed by our Open House. This is the first time in all 9 years I have taught that we've had our Open House before school. I think it's a great idea and I'm excited to meet my kiddos before the first day.

My 4th Grade Classroom 2014-2015 
(Final Version)

Starting from the hallway and then going clockwise in the classroom
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That's my recycle bin you see at the bottom (yes its a laundry basket!)

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I decided to just put up all the words to start the year since we don't really emphasize the monthly words.

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I LOVE this space! That black organizer is from Thirty-One. It is being retired (*sad face*) and I had a spare that I used in my display. I wasn't sure what to do with it. But it makes a great math manipulative station!

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This is where my desk was last year. But since I do sometimes like kiddos to use the ELMO, this seemed like a good solution.

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Mr. Principal found this rug no one else was using and said I could use it :D

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I think I might actually be in love with this view.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Lazy {The Last Hurrah of Summer}

The girls and I decided to spend mid to end of our week at our cabin. With The Husband out of town for work and The Oldest actually having two days off in a row from her job, it seemed like a good idea. I have not nearly been up here as much this summer as I would have liked but life has been busy!

I have been incredibly lazy all day today. I can't tell you the last time I had the luxury.  I did bring my Reading Street stuff with the plan to start creating my Choice Menus...but lazy won.

Tomorrow I will take the girls home, The Oldest will go to work and then I'll unpack and repack to head down to see The Husband for the weekend. Monday really starts the crazy-busy. 

I feel kind of bad for being so lazy today because I haven't been able to all summer but I know once I board the crazy back-to-school train next week I'll be glad I let myself have this one day.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014


I am SO GLAD that we got all of our specials schedules early this year. I don't think in all 9 years I have taught that I've ever had my entire schedule ready this far out before the year begins. It's really kind of nice! I'm not sure what made Mr. Principal decide to do it like this for this year but I am so glad that he did. 

Of course, certain things won't start yet (like library and computer lab because of MAP testing the first few weeks of the year) but knowing already when they will be is awesome. I don't have to worry later about trying to figure out where to put them in a schedule I've been working with for three weeks. 

I had been told that the upcoming group of 4th graders are a) really low academically and b) have many students with behavior issues. Behavior issue kiddos don't bother be honest, they often tend to become my favorite kids. I firmly believe they act the way they do because something is missing in their little life and they aren't developed enough to know/understand what it is and if they DO know, they don't know how to ask for it. I think you really have to get to the heart of the matter and think about the whole child with classes like this.

That said, since I finally finished my work for my doctoral classes, I had a chance to really sit down and analyze the spring data I have on my new kiddos. I was told there was a huge achievement gap...and there is...but it isn't any worse than I've had in the last 5 years. I have some friends who are on a K-2 level and some that are 3rd-5th level. The majority in both reading and math are on 3rd grade level or higher. Of course this doesn't account for the inevitable summer slide but it's much more encouraging than I was expecting!!

The 4th and 5th graders tend to take the MAP test starting the first week of school. This is both good and bad: it's good because you get data right away showing where the students are coming in at but it can be bad in that it often takes a ton of time to administer. I am going to cross my fingers and make initial groups based upon where they were in the spring (because that data shows me they WERE at that level and have the potential to get back there quickly) and then will adjust once I get my new data. I doubt the groupings will change that much this first time though. 

It makes me very, very glad that I made one of my goals for this year to be Choice Menus. I have kiddos who are so behind in math they are going to stare at me like I've got three heads when I'm teaching math -- it's just going to be too far above their head to start with. But I am going to take a closer look at my data once I get the new stuff and really think about what it is vital for my kiddos to know how to do and that is how I will balance my Choice Menus. I have a couple of friends who left 3rd grade performing on a 5th or 6th grade level so I definitely have to make sure they are challenged so they don't get bored. 

It also did not escape my notice that several of my friends who were identified as having behavior issues are VERY low academically. It makes me wonder what accommodations were made to help them feel successful and not totally lost in class, which is usually when the negative behaviors begin. Another reason to ensure the Choice Menus are leveled and at each kiddos working level so they can ALL be successful. 

Pending any unforeseen schedule changes (which I don't think will happen unless the district adds interventionists late this year like they did last year), I have planned 90 minutes per day each for math workshop and reading workshop. I don't plan to teach in set small groups on a daily basis but rather see where the kids are and go from there, sort of like the conferring tracker from the Daily 5. This way if I need to spend 5-10 minutes with my higher kids to help them get started on a challenge task, I can but then I can still give time to my lower level learners so they can find success. 

I think it's going to be a lot of work up front to create these Choice Menus the way I want to make them....but honestly if it helps my kids make gains, I think it will be worth it. And once I make them, I have them and won't have to create them again. 

Should be interesting to see how it all works out.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Progress {+ Pics}

Whew! What a day yesterday! 

I had huge plans to finish all of my graduate work (namely an abstract and a 3-page reflection) Sunday...but The Husband told me on Friday that he was going to Ann Arbor for two weeks (the next two weeks!) for work and there was so much to do and time to be spent together that I didn't do anything graduate-school-related on our last day together. I finished my abstract yesterday evening and will do the reflection tonight and then I'll enjoy my whopping 6 days off before my next course begins :)

Yesterday was busy from the word go.

First up, I had to get the kids up to send off their dad. Then The Youngest and I had to head to the ENT for a follow up after her adenotonsillectomy in July. (Dr and intern were impressed that we had ZERO issues. Wish all my surgeries/recoveries had been so easy!) After that, we headed to Starbucks to meet with a teacher I used to work with (she got a new job in another district). I asked her before school got out last year (before she had gotten the new job) to help me with how I'm teaching Text Talk vocabulary because my kiddos are just NOT getting it and the 3rd grade vocab was so much higher on MAP than for us. Since she got a new job, we met to go over it instead. It's really funny because I do not drink coffee. Ever. I can't even stand the smell most of the time. But we met at Starbucks :) (Thankfully those sorts of places have other options too!) The Youngest was super patient while we talked shop and I let her get a cake pop even though it was only 10 am! haha

After that, we zipped over to Dollar Tree for a couple of things, grabbed lunch through the drive-thru and FINALLY got to my school. Whew! It was nearly noon by the time we finally got there. The Youngest was a great helper and we got a lot done so I definitely feel like progress is being made. It was really rainy and yucky this morning so I went in for about 3 hours by myself too. Once I felt like I was no longer being productive, I left. No point in sticking around if nothing is really being accomplished.

4th Grade 2014-2015

This sign hangs on my door so anyone who might come looking for us knows where we are. I lost the arrow that would point to each topic so I stuck a pom pom into a paperclip and stuck it on haha (you can see it on the bottom at "Home").

  Last spring, I found this set on TpT. It says "What's the SCOOP in 4th Grade?" and the kids wrote memories and things they learned on the ice creams. :) I thought it made a cute little back to school display.

The door. You won't be able to see through the glass when I'm all done because I will either put paper or something else up. It majorly cuts down on distractions not having the glass visible for the students.

  This is my back counter (this was yesterday -- it does not look like this anymore, it's got a lot less clutter!). I covered the shelving with this super cute fabric because a) no one needs to see the curriculum stuff on those shelves and b) it's just super cute! That opening spot underneath the counter will have a small rug and a bean bag. For whatever reason the kids L-O-V-E to sit under there during SSR.

  This is my desk area. (It's to the left of the picture above.) This is also as of yesterday so it has changed a bit. I decided this year to separate my teacher area from my tech area and so far, I'm really glad I have. I love having my own space.

  Right now (knock on wood), I am slated for a small class, only 21 kiddos! So I had enough room to leave this HUGE space up front for a meeting area. I wish I had a big rug but I don't :(

  Across the way is the teacher tech area. I used a spare student desk and my ELMO and desktop computer stuff will be there. This way students can use the space as well without me worrying about my own stuff being in their way. It's hard to see but behind the tech area is another table that students will be able to use during partner work. The big wall in the back will have charts and whatnot on it.

Crappy lighting, sorry! My Double E desk setup. Love it! 

  The blue pocket charts in the back corner are around the library area. Not quite sure what is going in those charts quite yet.

  Word wall and small group table. The table on the left (with the green crate underneath) is another spare table I had since I had more kids last year. There are recess games and clipboards underneath the table and on top of the table will be literacy stations and partner games.

  It's not all finished yet but I'm getting there. Mostly I have a lot of little things to sort and put away. I found a huge stock of Literacy Centers in my barn that I forgot I owned. They will be great during small group/Choice Menu time (more about that soon!). 

I know I won't get into my room again until Monday as we're going up north tomorrow-Friday and then I'm going to Ann Arbor to see The Husband Friday night - Sunday morning. Then my second doctoral class begins and I go back to work. Busy busy!

Saturday, August 16, 2014


I spent my Saturday at a vendor event hawkin my Thirty-One wares :) I didn't sell a ton but I did sell a cash and carry item and get a pre-sale for the September special. I also booked a party for a young lady who is getting married and wants matching bags for her bridesmaids. I told her what the total would be and her mom said, "You should just do a party, this nice lady will help you get free stuff. " It was cute (and I definitely will help her get free stuff!).

After I got home it was time to hunker down and finish my huge 150 point paper. It's a compilation of 5 essays we did and some other learning. I'm sure it's fine but man....every time I turn in one of these assignments, I feel like I'm going to throw up. I'm so worried I messed up or forgot something. I always do fine but the nerves are bad!

I hate that I doubt myself. It's not like I don't do my best. I guess it is because, at this point, it's totally for real. This is what will help me accomplish my goals and I worry because I don't want to mess it up.

But I could do without feeling like I'm going to be sick every Saturday when I submit the paper for that week! :)

I have to do my practice abstract for my mini writing course and a final reflection and then these classes are over. Crazy! If I finish them both tomorrow (which is the plan), I will have a whole week off and then my next classes begin. And I go back to work. And my hubby will be out of town for two weeks. At back to school time! Serenity now! haha

Thursday, August 14, 2014

DENIAL! + Classroom Sneak Peek

I am totally in denial. Totally.

I am not ready to go back to school. Not at all. It isn't because I haven't had enough summer and time to relax. It isn't because I don't like my students, school or colleagues (if I didn't like them, I wouldn't stay there). 

I just don't feel ready. This may be because I've been so focused this summer on "doctor school" as The Husband calls it rather than the upcoming school year that I don't feel prepared. It may just be that I want to hold on to these last few weeks. 
All summer, I have seen people making, creating, building, printing. laminating for their classrooms. It gives me a headache. Yes teaching is my life's work. But you know what? There is a reason why we have summers isn't to bust our tails as hard as we do during the school year. I know there are so many teachers who relish in that and I'm glad it works for them. I don't think I will ever be one of them though :)

As such, I did go into school today. We were allowed in starting this past Monday but I am in DENIAL so I didn't go (plus I was up north to celebrate my birthday). I only went in today because my kids were at my mom's house and I was avoiding graduate work haha

Here's what I walked into:

You can see my Thirty-One fabulocity that helped me get all of my stuff back to school this year. The custodians, bless their hearts, always set up the tables in rows because its easier for them to do that when they are done cleaning the floors. In my ideal world, they would read my mind and set it up how I want it done so I don't have to move all of the furniture myself :)

I didn't get as much done as I would have liked to, partly because I didn't really know where to begin and partly because one of my colleagues showed up and of course, we haven't seen each other all summer so we chit-chatted longer than we should have! I got my desks arranged and hung my fabric. Messed with my technology set-up and I think that will be good to go once we're officially back and I have a little more time to play with it. 

A couple of pictures of what I did accomplish:

I decided to try something different with my teacher area -- it will be separate from the tech area where my ELMO is. I didn't take a picture of that because it's not all set up. I always had my own desk and such over there but this year decided to have my own teacher space, along with my filing cabinet across the room. (See my pink purse? That's my desk.) I hung this fabric on the shelves to hide them because they are really ugly and no one wants or need to see all of my junk up there. Yes, its organized but I hate looking at it. This is much cuter! (Sorry its hard to see -- it has alphabet letters on the black and then a ruler deign and kiddos on the bottom. Super cute!)
A few years ago, on some blog, I saw that someone made curtains out of pillow cases. So I did that too. But I bought this chevron fabric originally to cover my shelves (see above) but it made me dizzy to stare across the room at it haha So I decided to use some on the window instead. The long piece wasn't quite long enough so I overlapped a second shorter piece. It's not the most perfect looking thing but I love the little pizazz it adds to my room.

That's pretty much what I accomplished. Lame, right? :) I forgot to take a picture of my desk setup (I will definitely do that in my final "reveal"). As of the spring, I am only slated to have 20-21 students this year so I had some extra tables to figure out what to do with. I really want to be better at using individual learning and choice menus this year so that I can do a lot more focus group work with my kiddos and less whole group stuff (very important this year as I have been told our kiddos coming up are either really high achieving or really low achieving). I *think* I have set up my room in a way that will foster that. I hope so.

I am finishing up my first doctoral class this weekend (woo hoo!) and next week will spend quite a bit of time prepping for the school year since I haven't really done anything all summer. I don't plan to go back to school until the 25th because I plan to do a lot at home to help myself prepare for the upcoming year.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Meet the Teacher {Linky}

After seeing this all over my blogfeed, I had to do it too. (So I'm a follower lol :)

 I'm Raye and of course, I blog right here at The Caffeinated Teacher. I just turned 36 (nope, not afraid to admit it!) and will be starting my 9th year of teaching in September.  I have taught 2nd, 4th and 5th grade (including a 4th/5th split twice) and have done a lot of grade level shufflin' and classroom movin' (not always by choice). I'm really glad to have landed right back in 4th grade this year. It's the best grade! I have spent my entire career in my district, including my student teaching, but I have been in several buildings. This year will be my 5th year in the same building.

I have been married for almost 14 years to the best man I know, Jeff herein referred to as "The Husband". We have three daughters, Emily aka The Oldest (19), Bree aka Middle Child (12) and Jill aka The Youngest (11). They keep me on my toes for sure. We also have 2 dogs, Morgan and Hershey and 2 cats, Landry and Sparta. (No pictures, sorry...they don't need to be splashed all over the internet. Just my preference.)

This summer I have done a lot of studying as I started my doctorate in June. I haven't done anything for my classroom except buy fabric for my shelves and buy school supplies. Eeek!

 These are a few of my favorite things:
* Diet Coke (you're shocked, right?) *
* InkJoy pens * 
* Twist-Erase 0.9 mechanical pencils *
*Mr. Goodbar * Cute paper journals *
*Snow days * Michigan Summers *

If you weren't a teacher, what would you want to be?:
Tough one. I can't imagine not being a teacher. I'd love to be a professional writer. If I really had to pick a different career, I think I would be a therapist so I could help people with the bumps in their journey.

Three Little Words that Describe You:
Loud, Faithful, Passionate

Finish the sentence: "____________," said no teacher ever.
"I'd love to do meaningless paperwork instead of teach my students!" said no teacher ever.

Q: It's your birthday and you can invite anyone {dead or alive} to the party, who are you inviting?
Robin Williams, Maya Angelou, my grandpa and Harry, Ron and Hermione!

Q: If someone wrote a book about your life, what would be the title?
Someone did write a book about my life (that would be me of course). It's called The Phoenix Rising: A Survivor's Story because no matter the utter crap tossed at me by the universe, I have continued to get up, stand up and persevere. (It's full of profanity so if that bothers you, don't bother to look it up.)

Q: You get to pick one superpower, what is it?
I would want the power to stop time. Then I could truly accomplish everything I needed to get done in a day without skimping on any important part of my life. (Or I'd just get a Time Turner like Hermione.)

Q: What's your favorite quote or saying?
He who angers you, controls you ~ Anonymous
(Very important quote for me because I tend to be a hot head and I have to remind myself that I can't let the idiots who make me mad control me.)

Q: If you had one song to sing on American Idol, what would it be?
I would spare your ears and NOT sing in public. The only singing I do is in my car when I'm alone! :)

Q: Are you a morning person or a night owl?
Oh gosh, neither anymore. I have never been a morning person. Ever. It'll never happen. I use to be that person who could stay up until 2-3 am and that's when I was most productive, especially in August. But the closer I creep toward's no longer true. I don't like to get up early but I don't usually sleep much past 8 anymore (when you're used to getting up at 5:30, that is sleeping in) and most of the time I can barely keep my eyes open past 11 or 11:30. A sign of age I guess lol 

Q: What's your favorite resource that you've created in your TpT shop?
Hmm. Well there isn't a ton there because I don't have time (nor the inclination) to make tons of creations but I think my favorite is my Total Participation Task Cards. They were a life-saver last year.

Q: Share something we might not know about you.
Well I'm pretty open but you probably don't know that Jeff and I got married 6 months and 18 days after we met. We met on June 10, 2000 and were married on December 28, 2000. I guess when you know, you know :)

Go and link up :)

The Caffeinated Teacher

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Words Their Way (2014 Edition)

Back in July 2011, I wrote a post about using Words Their Way as my spelling assessment. It never ceases to amaze me how, three years later, I still get comments and inquiries on that post. It's kind of unbelievable.

It is, by far, my most viewed post. Check this out:
This is the page views for August 6 as of 4:44 pm EST. 67 page views in ONE day...3 years after the post was written!

This is the page views for all time, since the post was written. Crazy, right?

I am not a Words Their Way expert by ANY means. In fact, I haven't even used it in the last three years. It isn't because I don't like it, it is because we got a new reading program and it was just EASIER to use the spelling patterns that came with the program. Alas, I can tell you right now, that was a VERY stupid decision for me to make.

Over the past two years, as I have worked primarily with 4th grade again, I have noticed my students' spelling stinks. It is really horrible. They still can not spell sight words correctly, they don't bother to use the word wall, etc. No matter how much we practice and drill, they just don't get it. Why would this be?

Because I am not meeting my students where they are. I am not screening them as I did with WTW and able to group them based upon the place they are with their word knowledge. If you read that post and look at all 55 comments left over the years, you will see some people HATE WTW with a passion and think it is the devil and others want to know how I used it, want more information on it and want to hear what I think about how they will implement it. It's flattering for sure.

Again, I am not an expert by any stretch of the imagination. But I know that it works when you do it with fidelity. I did not use all of the games and things because I didn't have the time within my day to do that. But we always did the sorts, always. The two years I used the program from the beginning of the year, my students' word knowledge growth was immense. They understood the patterns and thus were able to spell even more difficult words because they had internalized the pattern.

Most of the negative comments on that post discuss how students aren't learning to spell. I will just go ahead and say this (even if it offends):


There. I said it. Sorry if you are offended but it is very likely that if your students aren't getting it, you have lost a step in the process, most likely a very meaningful one.

Let me remind you...I work with English Language Learners. Most years, as the ESL teacher in my grade, I get the lowest students because they are the ELLs and are still grasping English in school when they mostly speak only Spanish at home. Usually there are several non-ESL students whom I take because they fit into a group with my lower ELL students. I also work with a population that, unfortunately, do not read at home as much as I would like. (You always get the few who, no matter what, will pick up a book because they love it -- not a surprise they are the best readers in the class too.)  High poverty, inner city, you name it and it probably describes my district.

And I have had success with this program. I think people who don't are skimping on it. I'm not blaming them, just pointing out my opinion. You have to do the sorts and you have to do them teacher-led in a small group so you can model it. That is ESSENTIAL. I truly know how hard it is when you have 4,982 things to do but only 6 hours to do them in. I get it. Believe me, I do.

Alas, if you want success with this program, you have to follow the program. You definitely do not need to own all of the books that include the sorts but they sure are helpful because the sorts are already there and made for you. Once you have given the screener and make your groups, you can literally just start within whatever color book they are and go from there.

This year, as I finally begin to prepare myself for back-to-school, I will be using Words Their Way again. It may get me into some hot water with my district (a few people in my district found my blog and read it *waves to district people*) but I will stand by my decision as I know darn well that my students have ceased to make growth in spelling once I stopped using this program. 

What I plan to do this year, which I haven't done before when using it, is color-code each group and make copies to keep at school and copies to send home so the children can practice. It will be part of their homework every night Monday-Thursday along with their math homework. 

Once I can get into my building, I will be picking these materials up (they are in my classroom) and bringing them home so I can begin to plan for implementing the sorts into my classroom this year. It may well look different than it has in years past but I am certain that my spelling scores will go back up with this program compared to the same old rote memorize and forget lists that we have with Reading Street.

The Caffeinated Teacher

Wednesday, August 6, 2014


Correct me if I'm wrong here, but it is August 6th, right? We got out of school just under 2 months ago. I've been hanging out, doing graduate work and NOT thinking about school. 

Would you believe me if I told you that we just got (as in today) our calendar for the 2014-2015 school year?? Yep. We did.

The State of Michigan changed some legislation that made changes to how many days/hours of instruction students must have. Due to other issues, our calendar was just finally finalized. Craziness.

The good news is...looks like we have lots of 1/2 days with PD in the afternoon. That is good because I detest 6 hours of PD. I can't sit still that long (who can?). We also now get 6 personal days instead of only 4. That's awesome. A week's vacation anyone? lol Just kidding.

According to this calendar, we are also allowed access to our buildings MONDAY. As in August 11. That is unusual. We're supposed to have that access but usually we don't get it that early. I guess this was something our union really pushed for since we have a day of PD on the 27th, then 3 hours to set up our rooms on the 28th. We aren't allowed in on the 29th because the district is closed for the Labor Day weekend. So we need those extra few weeks to be able to get into our rooms and set up.

I am SO not going in on the 11th. No. It's my birthday this weekend (so you'll donate to my fundraiser right? :) Sorry, had to sneak it in somehow!) and I am going to be at my cabin for the first time since the 4th of July! July was a crazy busy month and there has been so much going on that we didn't get to our cabin again. It's my happy place and I can't think of a better place to be on my birthday. We are also taking out our new (used) pontoon. I'm excited for that. A whole day on the water, which will be super easy with all of my fabulous Thirty-One thermals :)

The Caffeinated Teacher

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Back to School & Give Back

Well I did say I would wait until August to do anything school related...and I did. Yesterday The Oldest and I went to Big Lots and Meijer and spent about $100 on back-to-school stuff. That $100 actually covered 120 folders, 8 packages of loose-leaf paper, 72 spiral notebooks (!), and 27 clear pencil pouches for my classroom. It also covered 2 big binders, 2 sets of binder tabs, 60 pencils, erasers, a 3 hole punch and 2 sets of colored pencils for my own 2 middle schoolers. Not bad at all. Especially since The Husband said "wow, you got all that for $100?" Yes, yes I did :) 

I know Teachers Pay Teachers is having a huge Back-to-School Sale starting tomorrow. I have discounted my entire store (not that there is much there but..... :) ) My Total Participation Task Cards are my best seller. They will be a steal with this sale!
120 × 125

While you are shopping until you drop, please consider helping me Give Back by donating $21 to my Ronald McDonald House fundraiser. It's not a gimmick or a trick. I will never see your card info at all. I feel compelled to push forth with this fundraiser but I need your help to make it a success. You can see how to help by visiting this page.

The Caffeinated Teacher

Friday, August 1, 2014

August Currently!

Seriously, how is it August?! But you know what that means....Currently time!

Listening: It's summer so I let my girls stay up late (until 11) every night since they don't have to get up early. They are watching Swindle. Personally, I like the book better.

Loving: Summer! Nuff said! :)

Thinking: I have done ZIP for the upcoming school year. I said I would wait until August....well it is August. I really am kind of in denial now :)

Wanting: I mentioned that I am doing a fundraiser for Ronald McDonald House Charities and it would be AH-MAY-ZING if people would donate to this awesome cause. (Read about that here!)

Needing: We have a paper due every Saturday in my online class and I am procrastinating working on the one due tomorrow. I have gotten an A on all of them....just having trouble finding my motivation at 10:18 on a Friday night lol

1st Day - I honestly am not sure of my official first day, it hasn't been announced (crazy right??). It will be the week of August 25, I just don't know what day. I will go in that Monday to set up my room anyway. In Michigan, with few exceptions, kids start the day after Labor Day.

The Caffeinated Teacher