2Gether We are Better: 2016 Plans and Goals!!!

Happy 2016!!!  I'm still a little in shock that we are already in the new year, but boy, am I excited!!  I feel like I have not talked with all of you in so so long!!!  So to kick off the new year in fashion, I'm linking up with 2 wonderful friends Ashley and Angie for their monthly linky...#2getherwearebetter series!!  Woohoo!!
This month is all about PLANS AND GOALS!  Confession...I am that person that WANTS to be able to PLAN things out, but I never end up following the PLAN!!!! [ahhhh]  Please, tell me you know what I mean?!?  I have bought so many planners in attempts to change my ways, but I just have not found my rhythm with it all YET!  So I already found a NEW planner ha :), but I actually LOVE it!  It's smaller so I can fit it in my purse which was one of the huge reasons why I never kept up with it before.  I also need to stop trying to be like everyone else who decorates theirs all cute with stickers and drawings!  FYI I am not good at writing with different font like shapes, AND I never got into scrapbooking SO WHY am I still trying?!? hah  Geesh!  Get a clue is what I say in my head!  So to go with what both Angie and Ashley always say is my first GOAL!!

Plan & Goal: be ME!

Since switching schools in my district this year along with moving to 5th grade for the first time, I have been learning a new curriculum and all about my wonderful 5th graders!  I truly love them! However, with this, I have not created as much or blogged.  Sometimes, I tend to get caught up with what everyone else is doing and start to think...gosh, everyone is going to forget me or am I really just not that great at creating anymore?  Here's the thing...for a split second, I lost the REAL reason WHY I do all of this!!  FOR THE KIDS!!!  Hope King helped remind me of this.  {THANK YOU Hope!}  Regardless of what grade you are in or where you are at, you are there FOR THE KIDS.  This one sentence basically snapped me out of my funk!!!  Since 2nd grade when I knew I wanted to be a teacher (at least that was what I thought as I taught my stuffed animals in the basement :), I have always had a passion to work with children. EVERY job I have had has had something to do with kids and/or teaching! DING DING DING!  My passion is teaching KIDS!!  So, I finally took a breath and looked at the big picture!  I cannot say enough of how much I have learned and grown so far in one semester!  I absolutely LOVE my 5th graders as well as my new team and school! I am RIGHT WHERE I BELONG!  I have also realized that I need to focus on what makes ME...ME. My PATH is UNIQUE to ME.  As I always tell my students...how boring would our world be if EVERY ONE was the SAME! 

Plan & Goal: Find my way back to BLOGGING and CREATING 

To go along with being ME, I want to find my way back to my blog and creating!  After reading Ron Clark's book, Move Your Bus, I realized that I needed to live by one of his quotes as much as I was teaching my students to live by it.
I need to STOP giving myself EXCUSES as to why I am not blogging or creating and FIND SOLUTIONS!!  I NEED to MAKE IT HAPPEN!  I proved to myself this past November that I could run a full marathon even while adjusting to all the changes!  WE CAN DO MORE THAN WE EVER DREAMED WE COULD if WE STOP GETTING IN OUR OWN WAY!!  I am going to try to plan a blog post every 2 weeks to start in January.  In February, I want to do a blog post 1 time a week.  I also want to make a brand for my products.  However, I am going to allow this process to flow instead of FORCING it. I don't work well when I try to force things anyway so might as well just LET IT HAPPEN!  

Plan & Goal: Find my voice on the Video Front

I have been wanting to do videos since last year, but I simply gave EXCUSES instead of SOLUTIONS on doing them.  This year, I want to start sharing ideas this way too.  I, personally, LOVE videos.  Sometimes, I don't have time to read, but I can easily listen and/or watch as I am folding laundry, grading papers (simple ones hah), etc.  I CAN'T wait to get started!  

Plan & Goal: Build My POSITIVE POSSE

I need to STOP allowing others to get me down.  I know not EVERYONE I work with is going to be as CRAZY as I am when it comes to finding new or out of the box ways to do things.  This fact is completely fine!  We ALL bring so much to our students and classrooms by being US!  However, sometimes, I ALLOW negative attitudes to infiltrate into my thoughts which is NOT ME.  I have CONTROL over HOW I FEEL.  So this year, I really want to build my POSITIVE POSSE even more!!  I want to be PROUD of the things that I DO BRING to the table and not get knocked down by people that may not agree.  When I visited the Ron Clark Academy last year, Ron Clark talked about how POSITIVITY pushes out NEGATIVITY!!!  It takes ONE PERSON to start the CHANGE!  I ALSO want to go back to RCA this year for a 2 day training!!  I get excited just thinking about it!

THANK YOU FROM THE BOTTOM OF MY HEART for all of the SUPPORT and LOVE you have all given me through this AMAZING JOURNEY!  You have truly made me BETTER!!

To find and/or link up for more PLANS & GOALS with the #2getherwearebetter series, click below!!!  These bloggers are WONDERFUL!!  


An InLinkz Link-up

I'm back!!! Currently June 2015!!

I'm back!!!!!!! 

Hey everyone!! I didn't even realize that I haven't blogged since March!! March?!? That was when all of our testing started and continued intermittently through to May! :( Yikes! It was my first year in a testing grade (3rd). I was in 2nd for 10 years so didn't have to deal with that kind of testing anyway! I have LOVED 3rd grade, but I definitely did not enjoy all of the testing! My kids did great, though, so I couldn't be more proud of them for pushing through! 

Ok, so let's get to JUNE!! 

LISTENING: Have you seen McFarland, USA????? If you haven't, it's in Redbox now!!! It's so good and based on a true story!! I'm a sucker for any inspirational sports PLUS education movies!! OHH, and I'm listening to my neighbor mow! hah True sounds of summer! :)

LOVING: As much as I LOVE teaching and my students, I am SO EXCITED for a break!! The year has been great, but I'm exhausted!!! I guess I see it as a good thing that I'm exhausted because that means I put everything into it as I'm sure all of you did too! So we've all earned a little R & R!

THINKING: I'm so excited to be facilitating 2 or 3 professional development workshops this summer in my district!! I get to present on technology with iPads and my 90 minute reading block which I LOVE!!! So, I need to get going on the planning of those!!!!!! 

WANTING: How long does it take you to be able to sleep passed the time your alarm normally goes off during the school year?? Well, I haven't slept passed it yet! haha However, it's only the 2nd weekday of summer break so I guess I should give it a few days! :) By the time it happens, we will be getting ready to go back to school!! 

NEEDING: Who's going to the TpT Conference in VEGAS this summer??? I can't wait!! I loved last summer's conference, and I know this year's is going to be even bigger!! SO, I need to start saving the fun money!!! 

SUMMER LOVIN': There are so many things about summer that I'm excited about! I get to see my 2 nephews, brother, and sister-in-law who live in Wyoming next month!!!! My nephews are 5 and 7, and I just love them so much!!! Of course, I can't wait for the TpT Conference!!!! AND I'm looking forward to relaxing and rejuvenating myself so that I can be refreshed and ready for the new year!!!!

Hope everyone's school years have gone wonderfully!!!!! If you're still in school, keep pushing!! You're almost there!!!! 

Thanks so much for stopping by!!!!!!! 

Found the Gold Freebie Hop!

Hi everyone!!! Thanks for hopping over!! Did you just LOVE Angie's freebie over at Lucky Little Learners?!? Thanks, Angie, for sending over all of these awesome educators!! 

Well, today is your LUCKY day!! All of us over at A Spark of Inspiration wanted to share the "gold" with you before the leprechaun takes it back!! :) So, below you will find one of my favorite freebies in my TPT store!
Author's Purpose Response Sheets

Click on either of the pictures to download them!  These response sheets have been such a help for my students!!!  I hope you and your students enjoy them too!!! :)

Thank you so much for stopping by to grab my freebie!!! Next, you are hopping over to Tanja at Journey of a Substitute Teacher!!!  Make sure to hop all the way through because you won't want to miss ANY of these "golden" freebies!!! :)

EDexpo 2015 Top 10 Blogger Picks!!!

Hey there!!  If you follow me on Instagram and/or Facebook, I'm sure you saw tons of pictures of my amazing weekend a week ago at the EDexpo 2015!!!  I was given the fantastic opportunity, along with 50 more teacher bloggers, to go to the EDexpo 2015, check out all of the amazing products, and then rate my Top 10.  Uhh, teacher heaven, anyone??  
It was such a neat experience to be able to talk with developers, stores, and other teachers about what we think would be the best resources for classrooms around the world!!  Once everyone turned in their Top 10s, they compiled an overall Top 10!  Below, you will find the Top 10 products.  Click on the images to go to their websites and check them out!!  There were so many awesome resources that it was really difficult to pick among them.  

Let's take a look!!

EDexpo 2015 Top 10 Blogger Picks

There you have it!!!  AMAZING, right?!?  Well, don't forget to stop by their websites to learn all about each one!!  If you see something that you would like to purchase from above, make sure to stop by the Edmarket page to find a local or online retailer.  You can also click on the image below to take you there too!!  Happy shopping!!! :)
A HUGE shoutout to Sherron Washington for allowing all of us bloggers the opportunity to work so closely with vendors and creators!!!  I had a wonderful time, and if you ever have the chance to attend the EDexpo, I would highly recommend it!!! :)

Testing Mood Swings!! PLUS a Testing Encouragement FREEBIE!!!

Ready or not, it's here!!!

Hi everyone!! I'm stopping in really quickly so I can share something I created today for my students!! We are starting the dreaded state testing tomorrow! This is my 12th year of teaching, BUT my first year having to be a part of state testing!! Our testing starts in 3rd grade so being in 2nd for 10 and Spanish teacher for 1, I haven't had to deal with them. It was glorious! haha :) Now, I feel like I'm having Testing Mood Swings all the time!!
I've never been a teacher to teach to a test.  Now, I follow the scope and sequence with the standards, but I try to do this in a creative way.  I love taking the standard and content my kids need to know and creating something engaging and effective.  I always think doing what's best for my kids should be priority in my book.  So I shut the door and teach.  This does bring some anxiety to me being in a testing grade.  The "what ifs" and "should haves" start creeping into my head.

What if my kids don't do as well as others who don't veer far from the line since I tend to test the waters? :) (staying close to the line is not a bad thing either, just a different style :)
What if people think that I'm not a good teacher because of my kids' test scores?
What if my kids do AWESOME?
Is what I'm doing working?

It's like one minute I'm not nervous at all, and the next, my stomach is in knots!  If you know anything about Indiana right now, we are taking a brand new test this year since we opted out of the Common Core Standard (even though, they are almost identical, just saying!).  So after finding out that kids were going to be tested for an eternity, they decided to cut the test by 3 hours a week before we could start.  I'm not going to go much further into this because I don't like the politics, but needless to say, it's a little stressful.

SOOO, once we take this test over the next 2 weeks, my 3rd graders have the big IREAD-3 test that determines if they move onto 4th grade or not.  I'm way more nervous about this test than the first.  I've been having discussions with my kids about how they feel about the tests coming up, and how this should be a celebration of what they know.

I know that kids need to be accountable, and if we're doing our jobs, we should be holding them accountable all the time in normal, everyday school activities and at life, in general.  I want to help a child grow into a wonderful person inside and out.  Creating relationships and a sense of family is EVERYTHING.  As I learned from visiting the Ron Clark Academy (post coming soon :), if we, as educators, go above and beyond for our kids, they will, in turn, go above and beyond for us.  If we nurture our relationships with ALL of our students, then they will give us their all!

I just don't think, at the age of 8 and 9, that my kids need to be stressed out and anxious about testing.  They have PLENTY of years of that coming up in their lives.  I do talk about how they want to feel proud when they turn their tests in knowing that they did their absolute bests.  We reflect on how that should feel and how they can tell when they haven't given their best.  This, however, is connected to everything that goes in life.  NOT JUST A TEST!  I had to step back for a second and think about this.  I can't control what they go home to or what they carry with them to school, but I can control how I make them feel.

I was that kid that was sooooooo nervous to take a standardized test!!
I was just like this child except my face was probably on the verge of tears!! hah
I didn't want to mess up!  I still have that problem some because I equate it to I'm not good enough.  We watched a video about the importance of not rewarding intelligence, but rewarding effort.  All through school and sports, I always felt like if I wasn't the smartest or the best, I wasn't enough.  I graduated in the top 10% of 641 kids in high school and with honors in college so it wasn't that I wasn't a great student.  I put WAY too much pressure on myself to be perfect.  I don't remember being told that I showed great effort.  I was scared to make a mistake on the basketball court just as I was in the classroom.  I knew I held back a bit in basketball because I didn't want that pressure.  When I became a teacher, I vowed to myself to try to not let that happen to my students in my room.  We celebrate the process!!!  I don't want them to be like me and still struggle with this now as an adult.  I'm way better, thank goodness haha, but it's no fun!  I want my students to feel like they are more than ENOUGH!!!

Okay, so jumping off my soap box (PHEW! :), tomorrow is our first day of testing!  Each day we test, I want to give some sort of encouragement for my students!

My kids LOVE smelly (scented) markers as much as I do!!
I get these at Target for $1.99 for a set of 4.  There are 4 themed scent packs! 
We use Crayola Pip Squeaks scented markers during literature circles when we do our Whole Brain Teaching Super Speed Reading!  They just can't get enough of them!! So, since I failed at the task of getting the correct markers for them for Christmas (I couldn't believe they weren't the smelly ones!!!), I decided to surprise each of them with one tomorrow!!!  I whipped up this little tag to go with it!!  Click on the picture below to download them for yourself!! :)
Credits: KG Fonts, Dollar Photo Club
I will add on the others I do as the week drags goes on!! Thanks so much for stopping by!!  If you are testing, I wish you all the best of luck! :)  I'm going to remember to JUST BREATHE!

A Spark of Inspiration Blog Hop

Hi everyone!! How are you all? Well, I'm so glad you're here today!! Thanks Angie (Lucky Little Learners) for sending all of you my way!! :) Welcome to A Spark of Inspiration's Blog Hop!!!
Today, we're celebrating a new start on one of my collaborative blogs, A Spark of Inspiration!! Here's how this blog hop works!! Stop by each blog to grab an awesome FREEBIE!! THEN, enter to win some awesome prizes before you hop over to the next blog!!! Simple, right?!? Well, let's get it started in here! 

Here is my FREEBIE!!!
We work a lot with point of view in reading AND writing so this freebie looks at the writing side a bit more in a fun, engaging way!! :) Hope you and your kiddos enjoy it!!

Thanks so much for stopping by!! Now, click on the button below to hop on over to your next FREEBIE stop at Journey of a Substitute Teacher!! Don't forget to enter the giveaway below!!! 

THE Ron Clark Academy & EDexpo 2015!!!!!!

Happy Sunday everyone!!! I am so excited and giddy for this week that I had to share it with all of you!!! If you have been following me on Instagram, you may have seen me posting pictures of 2 things: THE Ron Clark Academy & the EDexpo 2015 in Atlanta!!! Well, let's dive into each one of these!!!
THE Ron Clark Academy!!!

First, I get to meet Ron Clark and Kim Bearden FRIDAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I still remember when I first learned about Ron Clark with the Lifetime movie, The Ron Clark Story! As you all know, I'm a Lifetime and Hallmark channels fanatic so of course I watch EVERY GOOD teacher movie that comes their way! His story inspired me, moved me to tears, and showed me the potential that we all have!!!

I learned more about Kim Bearden while reading her INCREDIBLE book, Crash Course, as well as some interviews she's been in. Her truth and experiences are so relatable and inspiring!! Her book completely motivates you to go outside your comfort zone. It also makes you reflect on your own experiences which, in turn, makes you a better educator and person!

So...to say I'm excited is a complete UNDERSTATEMENT!!! I have wanted to go the Educator Training since I learned of it so for me to be able to go is a dream come true!!! AND I get to see one of the first bloggers I ever followed, Hope King, in action!!!! She is definitely the real deal!! I had the privilege of meeting and talking with Hope at the TpT Conference in Vegas last year! She is amazing!! So I cannot wait to see her teach!
This is one of my favorite pictures from Vegas with Hope King and Ashley Schroeder!! 

I will definitely be back next week to share ALL about The Ron Clark Academy!!! I can't wait to be "Slide Certified!" 
How can this video NOT make you smile and want to get up and get changing things!!! AHHHHH I'm at Panera, or I would totally start jumping up and down screaming...I'm going to RCA!!! I'm going to RCA!!!!! 

NOW, let's look at the 2ND AMAZING event going on this week!!! 

EDexpo 2015!!!!!!!
You all, I never thought in my wildest dreams that I would be getting opportunities to travel, meet-up with other teacher bloggers/FRIENDS, and share with all of you!!! Pinch me now!! So next weekend, I'm attending the EDexpo 2015 in Atlanta as well!!! This expo is going to have ALL the latest and greatest in teacher and classroom materials!! OH.MY.WORD!!! Teach heaven anyone?!? I mean, you all know the feeling you get when you walk into a teacher store! Well, this is going to be like that times 100!!! I'm getting to go around to all the vendors, testing out materials, talking, and deciding which ones I think would be the most useful in classrooms!!! HERE is the list of all the teacher bloggers that will be there too!!

If you're in the area this coming weekend, definitely check it out!!! 


The cherry on top...I get to hangout with some of my favorites all weekend!!! We're even going to the Georgia Blogger Meetup as well!!! Holy cow! Can we get this week started already!! I can't wait to share EVERYTHING with you!!! Make sure to check back throughout the week and next week to get caught up on all of the fun!!!