Sunday, January 19, 2014


June 8th is my birthday, which makes me - yes - a Gemini. Now as much as I read my horoscope and somehow convince myself the stars know my life, there is one thing they most definitely have on point. I am constantly and consistently an INDECISIVE human being. I am notorious for NOT being able to make a decision about pretty much anything. Enter: nails of the week. Yes, thank you Gemini status for giving me the curse of sometimes painting my nails 5 times in one day because I can't pick a color. Alright, it was only four three times today so I'm sharing my top two (anxiety semi-averted).
Tasmanian Devil Made Me Do It - OPI
I wanted to brighten things up a bit - and this polish did it. It is a hot red/orange which lasted about... hmm three hours on my nails. 

Then I went into Sephora - got a sample of their new Formula X polish I've been hearing loads about. That lasted about 10 minutes on my nails (not even enough for a picture - ouch). Just wasn't a fan of the color, soon I'll give it another go.

Take 3.

Koala Berry - OPI
It photographed a bit more purple than it is on the nail. It's the perfect pink/purple mix. Thank you OPI and the Australia collection! Here is where I shamelessly admit I may have picked this color because I saw Keith Urban (and all his GODLY Australian everything) in concert and am slightly fan-girling over him at the moment, so I gave him a nice tribute manicure. I feel like one of my sixth graders, oye. 

On the lower portion of the pic, you will find my bulletproof manicure must haves - just do it. 

So I am apologizing in advance for the lack of graphic evidence from my classroom this week. I had my second formal observation of the year on Thursday. My wheels were constantly spinning on what to do for my lesson and I just couldn't put my thumb (or all ten fingers) on a set of ideas/strategies/activities. Thank you Gemini tendencies. I am one of those people that has SO many things I want to do that I need to force myself to s i m p l i f y. I tend to just hold multiple brainstorming sessions on multiple sticky notes until something really stands out. I want to show off how amazing my students are, so I let their skill set guide my (forced) decision making. 

In the past we have ordered Scholastic News as a nonfiction resource, which I do love. This year our district offered an additional resource for nonfiction and we chose National Geographic magazine. LOVE LOVE LOVE. I'm a complete sucker for a good layout, accessible information, and AMAZING GRAPHICS. 

Behold: the glory of this informational text goldmine. 

This magazine also comes with some phenomenal resources. There is a wonderful website containing lessons. With the subscription you also have access to a digital version of the issue, an interactive whiteboard version, projectable edition, and teacher's guide. 

As much as I love Scholastic News, the Nat Geo magazine has three longer articles that contain a decent amount of depth for the students. 

Penguins happen to be my favorite animal, sooo there's that. I have penguins be-bopping all around my classroom so my 6th graders didn't expect anything less from their penguin-obsessed teacher.  I introduced the lesson with discussion about genre. I showed the following movie clips. 

March of the Penguins Trailer (ooh and ahh, then die of cuteness) 

Happy Feet Trailer (done!)

What I loved the most about the Happy Feet trailer is that the Spanish speaking penguins were featured. My Spanish speaking students LOVED it (well really, all of them loved it). It was a great opportunity for my second language learners to lead discussion with their classmates on what was said in the clip. Oh hey, awesome. 

We used my reciprocal teaching strategy called "Baseball Reading," for this lesson - which is hands down my FAVORITE way to have the kiddos reading and collaborating. My first year teaching my beyond fabulous teammate showed me her version called "Football Reading," and I knew it was a must. Baseball Reading will need it's own spotlight post, for sure. 

Happy MLK Day my fellow educators and polish enthusiasts!

Stay chip free and standards based!


Sunday, January 12, 2014

Penny TALK!

PHEW! Winter break is officially over. After a two day (miraculous) extension because of the frozen tundra that is Illinois, we are finally back into the swing of things. First and foremost - this busy week back I am teaching in Penny Talk by Essie. A metallic rose gold to die for. I had to let go of my darks for the sake of repetitive nail polish blogging... but I've got money on another dark nail next week, surprise surprise!

Yes, Disney World is the happiest place on Earth - but welcome to the SECOND happiest place on Earth...
Just bask in the glory of this picture please (because that is all I did for hours after putting this bad boy up, sorry I'm not sorry). My Essie polishes are just so HAPPY! Courtesy of my best friend (who clearly knows and fully supports my sickness) this frame is just perfect for those little loves! Over in the world of OPI...
They aren't my ugly step children I promise... I really do love my OPI. That's NEXT Saturday's  project :)

I also need to give a quick shout out to my most favorite new nail polish remover thingy-ma-jig. Compliments of my other bestie (God bless them for supporting my addiction.) You push the top of this and the nail polish remover comes right on out - MAGIC! Makes removing my polish not a complete chore.

Over to the classroom - Happy Place #3 (is there a limit to happy places you are allowed to have? Let's just go with no...)

We are focusing on collaboration and working together - positively. I won't go into a long yada-yada on my educational philosophy, but just know collaboration is HUGE in my classroom. Respectful collaboration is SO important - and happens to be a Common Core State Standard for my sixth graders - fancy that!                                                                                                             This is our CCSS "I Can" statement that talks about participating in group discussion (thank you tpt)! In a staff meeting once, we did a "yes, but - yes, and" activity. Saying "yes, and" to build on others during discussion is so important. Keeping things positive in the way you talk to others is such an important life skill. I showed the following YouTube clips to my students and we made anchor charts coinciding with the clips.

This was the perfect introduction to classroom collaboration. Not only did the students respond to the fantastic humor, I thought that they really tapped into the important messages in both video clips. It is so important to respect and rely on each other in our learning, and the students really got that. MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       As we came back to a fresh start in January, resolutions were a must. In an academic setting we rolled right into goals, SMART goals to be specific. We discussed how important it was to strategically set goals, and I absolutely LOVE the SMART goal model.  I let the students (semi) create their own new name tags.  Right smack-dab on their new tags is their SMART goal they developed. I told them how I frame my New Year's resolution each year in my bedroom to help motivate me to reach my goals, and HIP HIP HOORAY - goals on their name tags. Also slipped a little "yes, and" graphic in there for a constant reminder of POSITIVE collaboration.                                                                                  

They make me oh so happy!

Stay chip free and standards based!