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Millions of Peaches

Hey Y'all! Welcome back. It's been forever. I know. But I'm so glad you're here. I have a new adventure to tell you all about. I'm so excited to join about 30 other Georgia bloggers and bring you an exclusive, brand new collaborative blog titled The Primary Peach. We've got lots of tips, tricks, fun, and freebies up our sleeves JUST for Georgia teachers and we really hope you'll join along for all of the things we have in store for you. 

For the first blog post we are doing a blog hop full of FREEBIES!  And not just any freebie, a freebie that is tailored for the end of the year.  Each blogger has created an exclusive, end of the year freebie, just for you! But first, allow me to introduce myself. 

I've taught at the same school for 5 years and I love it. It's tiring and each day brings a different challenge, but I am blessed with coworkers who make me laugh. I've taught 1st, 2nd, EIP (1st and 2nd) and recently came out of the classroom to do Math Intervention for grades 3-5. Next year I will be an instructional coach. I have my ESOL and Coaching endorsements and am working on my math endorsement. I love learning and creating. 

I've got a sweet treat for you today. I live for teacher appreciation - appreciating the other teachers I work with who come in and help with my students and just help me get by on a daily basis. What we do truly take a village. I've created a fun little gift tag for you to use for gifts. I made a gift basket for one of the most awesome coworkers the other day. The basket had: a bag of Starbursts, pens, a cute notebook, fun binder clips, colored Post-its, and a gift card to the Container Store. I personally think the little tag would be cute with just a gift card or just a basket containing items (however you choose to use the play on the word "contain" - have fun with it)! Click here to grab them

Want to meet the next Primary Peach blogger and collect another freebie?  You're in luck because Jivey has an awesome end of the year poem for y'all. Head on over to her blog to snag it. She's so creative!

Also, be sure to head over to The Primary Peach to enter our Rafflecopter. There are some good prizes. We will have 1 GRAND PRIZE $50 TPT Gift Certificate and 3 more lucky winners will each receive a $25 TPT Gift Certificate! Be sure to enter. 

Have fun Blog hopping with the rest of the sweet Georgia bloggers. 

May Your Wishes All Come True

We all have our rituals. Thursday nights have been longstanding nights of ritual for me. Whether I was in school (Friends led to E.R.), or college (Grey's Anatomy), or working (Parenthood) - I had made it through the day, heck even the week. I could stay up late to watch the full night of television because the next day was Friday and I just had to make it to the end of the day. 

The irony is I'm not a big TV watcher. I realize the previous paragraph might negate that entire statement.  Truth be told, I have about 3 shows on my DVR. And so, when one ends saying goodbye is hard. It not only leaves a hole in my Thursday night lineup, but also it's like friends/family are departing. 

For some reason when Parenthood premiered back in 2010 something told me I should set the 'ole TiVo. Then I watched. I was hooked. I don't know if it was Lauren Graham's line in the pilot episode as she moved back home "I'm out of money" - been there, done that (in fact, I literally was there - late 20s in my parents house) that helped seal the deal. 

Ultimately though, I think it was Erika Christensen's character Julia that brought me back each week. 
In the midst of an uncertain time for me, Julia's character was everything I wasn't - accomplished, married with child (who happens to have my name), a homeowner, and holding a lucrative job. 

Yet in the next breath she was everything I was - the youngest of her siblings, sassy, and someone who tells it like it is. 

Yep. Maybe it was those characteristics where I found common ground. As an educator, I may never have a lucrative job. But, I love my job, much like Julia's character loves hers. She knows how to communicate with people and she does so in a real, raw way. She's got some spit fire in her and I respect that. 


In the rubber-band ball episode I laughed on the inside with Julia as she fiercely tossed the ball up and down in front of the teacher's face as she frustratingly listened to the teacher tell her about Sydney's behavior and then said, "I can keep this, right?" As a teacher I've wanted to do that so many times in front of parents' faces, but in that moment I wanted to pelt the teacher. The following season I cried with her as she struggled to have a baby, as I also underwent my 2nd surgery for endometriosis. And well, let's not even get into when she breaks down on her kitchen floor. 




I'm pretty certain that one of the beauties of Parenthood was that in a way, there's a tad bit of each sibling to relate to - and if not in your own way then there is someone in your family. Every season has gotten better. And of course, my favorite, Julia, has gotten stronger. Much like in life. 

The seasons change. Jobs change. We grow. It's our family that remains. 

Tonight, my homework is complete (teacher's have homework, too), the takeout has been eaten, and season 6 is playing on repeat as I get ready to say goodbye to Parenthood. I love this show. It's been fun. Thanks for the journey. 

Did You Ever Look So Nice? (Classroom Reveal, Part One)

The long awaited reveal has finally come. Truth be told, my pictures aren't perfect, but if I were to wait for perfection, you may never get a reveal, you just get me packing it all up at the end of the year. I hope I don't sound presumptuous when I say "packing" but it's my fifth year at this school and I have moved every year. 

And so, before we begin, a quick recap: 
My first year I was in a trailer and started in October, so we got that thing together pretty quickly. The following year I did not have my own classroom because I did Early Intervention and pushed into classrooms. 

Above: 2012-2013 school year, back in the building in my classroom. 

Above: 2013-2014 another part of the building

2014-2015, back outside in a trailer. No cute hallway bulletin board to take care of. I have the same amount of students (26, with 16 boys). Here we go:

It all started with me having come off of a very difficult year. I have never quite been able to pinpoint what it was. Was I worn out? Was it the makeup of my class? Was it all the changes? I may never know. But I knew I wanted this year to be calmer. I was never keen on moving back out to the trailers - more so for my health than anything else. Lo and behold, I've already spent two very sick weeks of school this year. So calm - right. Well one day my mom and I were in Hobby Lobby and she and I saw this fabric: 

I don't know what about it screamed calm to me, but it did. My mom agreed to sew a skirt out of it for my kidney table and the desk that I keep my printer on. I knew if I used it anywhere else it really would be too busy, but as a skirt it looks awesome! She did a great job. 

From there I decided to keep the colors just black and white with gold touches. Then there would just be pops of color in any posters and the baskets I already owned. Also to help with the clutter, I got rid of the desks. My kids last year could never keep them organized no matter how hard I tried to enforce it and I was tired of looking their messes, so we have tables this year. They were already in my trailer since it wasn't used as a classroom last year, so it worked out just fine. My trailer cottage also only has one long bulletin board across the back. I did the background black. I used a party tablecloth as I had seen on pinterest. In the past I had had the same denim fabric for the previous three rooms. I was getting tired of moving it, so I left in the last room since I knew the person moving in. I knew I wanted to make flowers for the corners of the bulletin board. Not just any flowers though. 

These flowers are made out of maps - GA state maps. I got this idea when my mom and I were walking around the mall one night. Either Anthropologie or J.Crew had flowers kind of like these in their window display but it might have been with magazine pages or book pages. Maybe it was actually maps. Yes, maybe it was maps, because it was summer and people were traveling. So I thought, Ah-ha, I can do that. 

The gold center is a white styrofoam ball cut in half and painted gold. The "glasses" are little kid-sized glasses without lenses from the party section at Target.

The posters on my reading board are a freebie from Life in First Grade.
The supply bin and labels are the amazing Kristen at Ladybug's Teacher Files (I adore everything she creates). 

The banner on my writing board is a chalkboard banner that you can write on (my mom's handwriting in the best) again, from the party section at Target. The pencil is a freebie from Lindsey at The Teacher Wife that I have had for years. The alphabet strip above the board is also from Ladybug's Teacher Files. 

I had to have this mouse pad from Mulberry Press Co. and my gold polka-dotted Kate Spade planner. 

My class pictures, some favorite quotes, and a hand-me down lamp from a dear teacher friend. 

I didn't have enough coat hooks for students, so I used them to put my word wall ribbons there, they rest quite nicely right on the hooks - no glue at all. 

If you've been around Pinterest you may have seen my rocking chair before. My mom painted it for me when I finally got hired for a teaching job. I had the white rocker on my patio. I had gotten at the end of one summer from Lowe's. When I got hired my mom asked if I wanted her to paint it. 

This is where we fill one another's buckets. Have you heard of filling one another's buckets? I am a big promoter of this. I believe in positive discipline. You can see I have a larger bucket filled with pom-poms, I call them fuzzies. We read the book, Have You Filled a Bucket Today? and discuss how you can fill someone's bucket and how you can dip from someone's bucket. If you do something kind or help a friend, you get to put a fuzzy in your bucket. 

Courtney at Ramona Recommends asked about this board. This is my job board. Everything for it came from Michael's, but maybe not everything -  (oh except the pushpins and clothespins, I wanted to keep with the silver and gold and so the pushpins are from the Nate Berkus line at Target; the clothespins were in the scrapbooking aisle at Target). I used a cork board, black and white twine, black and white chevron & polka dotted paper "treat bags".  We spaced it out (when I say we, I mean my mom - so um yeah, if you're catching on by now, my mom sent a LOT of hours at school with me setting up - I have the vision, buy the materials and then tell her - she makes a lot of it happen). Right so we spaced it out, we let the extra twine come over the pushpins far enough so we could wrap it around the pins before pushing them down tightly to hold it in place, then we just hung the bags in place with the mini-glittered clothespins. 
I made these little titles with some clipart and a favorite KG font on my computer. I laminated them and attached them with glue fonts. Then we cut colored cardstock large enough to fit in the bags and stick up enough that you can see their names. Final picture to come in the next post with all of the organization. 

I hope you like what you've seen so far. Let me know if there is something specific you'd like to see or know. :)

Have You Fallen in Love With Close Reading?

Well friends we've reached the end. Our time has come to a close. Summer is ending, or if you are like me, it has ended. My summer ended three weeks ago. I've already had 2 full weeks back of with my students. Wow.

And so let's dig in to the last chapter. (no pun intended - get it? close reading - dig in/dig deep. No one. Just me being super cheesy on a Saturday night? Okay, well hopefully someone will humor me. ;)

As with anything in education, we are working towards a goal. Close reading, like many other things in the classroom these days, is that we equip students with the skills needed to 'engage deeply in a text, to admire an author's work, and to critical and passionate readers' (Lehman and Roberts, 119). Hopefully, when done correctly our students will not nee us to direct them through this process. 

I'm not going to go on and on. The chapter is short. It's a recap. Remember to look through lenses, find patterns. Talk less, read more. Enjoy the bad ideas as well as the good. Also, remember that if you are a lower grades teacher you might want to start small. Pick one idea and go from there. 

I also have a 'close reading' pinterest board. There are some anchor charts, printables, and other great ideas there. 

I'm a 2nd grade teacher an this takes time. As I enter the third week of school this is not something I have started. I have yet to assess their levels. We are still building our workshop. I will implement it however. I did last year and I loved it. Please be sure to look at all the other posts in this series that are labeled 'close reading' and 'falling in love with close reading'. Be sure to check out everyone else's posts and also enter for a chance to win a gift card to all of our TpT stores as well as a copy of the book!

Falling in Love with Comparing Different Texts

I may have missed last week's chapter 5, but I am back for this week's chapter 6 with Dianna at Sassy, Savvy, Simple Teaching's book study on Falling in Love with Close Reading. Have y'all been enjoying it? I have! In fact, last week was my first full week back with my students and I was constantly thinking about all the great things I have learned and how I will implement them with my students. 

1. In reading chapters 5 and 6 about points of view and comparing texts I found myself thinking a lot about how I teach about Author's Purpose (P.I.E.) but I kept wanting to move beyond that. After all, close reading is about digging deep and the PIE method seems so surface level to me. 

What I found interesting in chapter 6 is that when talking about comparing texts it really goes into actually comparing the pieces of texts. For example, We might compare a specific character trait of  two different character traits from two different novels. The example of the character of Ivan's bravery (from The One and Only Ivan) to that of Auggie's (Wonder). You may take two novels by the same author and compare their use of poetry in each. 

Again, you will use the same skills of reading through a lens (characters, subjects, themes, ideas, settings, authors), looking for a pattern (text evidence, word choice, structure, point of view), and using that pattern to develop of new understanding. 

The book recommends using sitcoms to engage students in this lesson. Show a clip, having them watch each clip through a lens (are they watching about friends, family? You provide the lens). Here's my thing - while I think this is an AWESOME idea - do kids watch sitcoms anymore? Are there sitcoms? When I was growing up it would have been The Cosby Show all the way or maybe Full House. But are there shows like that around? Do I need to go Nick Jr. and The Disney Family route? I suppose that is also a sign of the times, huh? They suggest shows like Modern Family and Malcolm in the Middle. I bet for older grades those are perfect. 

Also, in order for this to work, it is important that your students read a lot of books so that they have a lot of background to pull information from. 

2. While I know we have been sharing what we have learned from this book and from the bloggers in this book study, I would be remiss if I did not mention a few other close reading resources:
Please be sure to also check out the book Notice and Note. I was given it at a professional development session last year and we dug into that book. It was my first work with close reading. I use the signposts in my classroom. 

Also, in addition to many of the freebies found along this book study by the bloggers participating, Lyndsay's blog and resources are great and a wonderful starting point. 

Go see everyone else's post. Don't forget to enter the raffle. Come back next week for our final week and giveaway!

As Far As They See They Can Offer No Explanation

A month ago I was able to choose the July selection for Ramona Recommend's Book Club. The main book for the primary grades I chose was Wonder. Ever since the announcement I have received emails, comments on my blog, seen products made on TpT, seen boards on Pinterest, and seen comments all over Instagram about the book Wonder - about why people loved the book, about how the book has inspired, about what from the book resonated with them.

However, I have yet to share my reasons. Our month of this book club selection came to a close this past week. However, I didn't feel I could let it end without saying anything at all. And so, without further ado:


It was the end of my sophomore year of high school. There I sat with my mom in the principal's office. I was not in trouble. I was returning from having been away from school for three weeks. I had been out of the country, with my principal's permission but prior to returning to class she wanted to see me. Except, returning to class wasn't as easy as we thought it would be. And so there we sat, with me in tears. I didn't want to be there. I was 16 years old and I had just spent weeks traveling through concentration camps in Poland with a youth group (I'm pretty sure that was a learning experience that I would not have gained sitting in a classroom). I had been to Majdanek, Treblinka, Auschwitz, and Birkenau to name a few. During the Holocaust the march from Auschwitz to Birkenau had been the March to Death. On my trip it had been our March of the Living. Myself, along with 7,000 other Jewish teenagers from all over the world came together on Holocaust Remembrance Day and made this walk. The entire trip I was on was called The March of the Living and it truly was a once in a lifetime experience. 

This walk, this day, this trip is something that I will never forget - that's the point, to never forget what had come before, so we don't repeat it. It was 16 years ago and I remember everything - some specific pieces - so very vividly.  I remember having visited one spot in Poland one day and it being fine, then when we returned the next day a red swastika had been spray painted there. I remember being surprised that intolerance still existed. I remember being saddened that some of the concentration camps could have been up and running again within 48 hours if someone wanted them to be. 

I experienced and felt all of this at the age of 16 and then I was supposed to just come home and sit in a classroom for four more weeks of school. It was hard. I didn't really care about the friendship cliques that existed in high school upon my return. If you wanted to be nice to me, fine. If you didn't, fine. 

And then, with one week left of school, another tragedy happened in our community. Two friends (teenagers, juniors at my school) were waiting outside the dog groomer for their dog to be ready. While they were waiting, they were car-jacked. They were driven 45 minutes away and taken out of the car. One boy, who was white, was told to start walking. Then he was shot. He was 17 years old and had just taken his SATs that day. His name was Louis. The other boy was then told to start walking. Instead of walking, Dakarai started running, when they shot at him, they only got his arm. With a shot in his arm and knowing his friend was gone, he just kept running. He ran until he found another road. He ran until he found help. He, too, had just taken his SATs that morning. I was in my parents room that night when I heard the news. Louis would not be in my chemistry class the next morning. And sure enough, where once there was a messy desk, Louis' seat had been left nice and neat for him. No one said anything. 

Within that final month of my sophomore year of high school, I had witnessed what it was like when people in my religion were treated and harmed because of who they were, I had witnessed what it was like to be treated differently because of my religion, and I had witnessed what it was like to have a person in my community killed because of who he was and the kind of car he drove. 

My life changed that spring. I grew up - perhaps before others around me were ready to. 

To me it does not matter who you are or where you come from, you do not treat people differently. You treat people with respect. 

One of the biggest rules I have and have enforced since the moment I set foot into a classroom involves the word 'hate'. We do not say it - at all! It does not matter to me if you are saying you hate a person or you hate a food, you may not use the word hate. There are other ways to say you don't like something. It is as simple as that - I don't like this, I do not care for that, etc. These conversations can be had with even the youngest of children. I explain it simply, the word hate hurts feelings. When you have older students, you can explain it a tad more in depth, hate has caused a lot of problems. As the teacher, you decide how far you want to take it. 

However, I decided from the moment I had power in a classroom that would be a change I made - even the smallest amount of hate can cause the smallest of problems. In just a month of my life look how much 'hate' impacted my life - there were people who hated a religion, people who had so much hate they felt the need to kill, and while I wasn't hurt directly, it did directly impact me. My life was impacted. My life was touched in some way. 

Then I read Wonder. I had no idea what it was about. But here's the bottom line - Treat people with kindness. Don't treat people differently, no matter who they are, no matter where they are from, no matter what they look like. 

Ah, this was the same message I had learned 16 years ago. Only now, an incredible author had put that message into a book that students can understand. Please. Read it. Read it with your students, your children, yourself. Then go spread the message. The message is simple. It's kindness. 

So many great links to other blogs have been shared with me. I am linking them below. I hope you will share. Thanks for reading my story.  

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