Sunday, March 31, 2013

Happy Easter! Let's Get Acquainted and a Freebie

Happy Easter Everyone!  Christ the Lord is risen today and every day!

I am sad that I can't be home with my family today, but thankful that my wonderful friend and colleague Heather invited me to join her family for Easter dinner.

Now that I'm back and have the rest of the evening free, I am happy to be able to link up with Latoya for yet another fun Let's Get Acquainted party!

Just like Latoya, my birthday is in April, so what better way to start my favorite month than by sharing some of my favorites.

Favorite Place to Shop
I am not a huge fan of shopping, but Macy's has great quality clothes and lots of other products.  My favorite pieces in my teacher wardrobe are all from Macy's.  However, I almost never pay full price for anything though cause my mom and I tag team to find the deals.  We always get a thrill when we leave the store and realize how much we got for our money.  When I worked there and had an employee discount, the best shopping trip I had was $350 worth of clothes and kitchen supplies for about $80!!

Favorite TV Show

This is a tough one cause I am addicted to way too many TV shows, so I cheated and chose two from different genres.  I pretty much always get out of choosing one favorite by creating categories.  :-)

TBL is always so inspirational.  I didn't get that connected to this year's contestants, but I still love the show. Revolution is so INTENSE!!!  I love it!  I am so happy it's back on.  Is anyone else watching it?  

Favorite Sweet Treat
This one was easy peasy.  I have a major sweet tooth and love all kinds of desserts, but ice cream is by far my favorite dessert.  I literally eat it at least once every day all year long!  

Here's an addition equation of my favorite flavors.  It's a beautiful thing. 

Favorite Food

Since I already chose ice cream as my favorite sweet treat, I will choose something savory for my favorite food.  I LOVE baked beans, specifically Bush's Original.  They are the best when they are cold from the fridge.  Yummmmmmmmmmmm.

Favorite Restaurant
I think I blogged about this before, but Coda is still my favorite restaurant.  It has such a unique menu and it's one of the few places I have been where I have gotten something different every time and loved everything.  If you are ever in my area of NJ, be sure to check it out.

Well, those are my favorites.  I can't wait to see everyone else's when they link up.

Before I go, since April starts tomorrow, it's time for my monthly What I Learned Today freebie.  This is a great way for the students to reflect on what they learn each day.  This helps them leave with key concepts in their mind and prepares them to share with their families when they get home.  Click the pictures to get either a formatted PDF file or an editable Word document.

PDF Version
Word Version (different font)
Hope you enjoy!  Happy Easter everyone!

Thursday, March 28, 2013

March High/Low Linky and BHAGs

Happy Thursday everyone!

It's the weekend!  At least it is for me.  I hope that many of you can say the same thing.  It's so nice to have three day weekends, especially when they include Easter, the celebration of our savior's death and resurrection!

That being said, it's the PERFECT time to celebrate this month's Highs and to offer some encouragement to each other about the inevitable Lows.  I am happy to be linking up with Teacher to the Core for this reflective linky party.  

This month has been so full of high moments, that I am going to get my Low out of the way first, so I can end on a celebratory note.  

It's tough to think of too may specific one day lows, but I had several ongoing tough situations.  First of all, my seven month relationship ended mid-month.  It was a tough situation, but God has given me peace about it all.  Also, my class continues to be very challenging.  I leave every day feeling drained and like I did not do enough to meet the many,  many needs of my kiddos.  It's been hard for me to keep perspective this year because I tend to care so much about doing all I can for my kids that I take it personally when they are struggling.  Plus, I tend to beat myself up about my management of some super fidgety and disruptive kiddos.  I find myself getting frustrated and harsh with them too often and I have not yet found a long-term effective solution to the difficulties.  Fortunately, God is beginning to teach me to surrender my perfectionism to Him and to trust Him with all situations, rather than trying to control them myself.

Now, time for the good stuff.  This month's Highs!!!  There were many of them, but I will try to be concise.

First of all, God has blessed me with so many AMAZING friends.  I have had so many fun and meaningful times with both individuals and groups of friends this month including potlucks, Panera dinners, Bible studies, concerts, and a game night (tonight).  It is so great to have friends who support, challenge, and encourage me to grow closer to Christ and who are just plain fun to hang out with!  If I didn't have them, my Lows would be much lower.

My next high was actually something that I found out about in February, but really started getting excited about this month.  I wasn't sure when to share the big news at first, but now seems like the perfect time.

Drum roll please

This summer...

I am....

GOING TO UGANDA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

On July 10 I will be traveling with a Journey117 team to Uganda, one of Africa's poorest states that unfortunately has a very high orphan population as a result of its economy, high illiteracy rates and the prevalence of HIV/AIDS. Our team will serve alongside Ugandan believers as we minister to orphans in various care settings, including institutional orphanages, orphan homes, and church-based homes. Our team will conduct recreational programs, assist with feeding programs, teach in local schools, visit homes of at-risk families, and share the gospel of Jesus Christ with those we come in contact with throughout our time there. By experiencing this culture first-hand and learning more about the various models of orphan care and rescue, I will walk away with a better understanding of how I can be an advocate on behalf of the fatherless. Taking this Journey is my first step in discovering what it means to live out Isaiah 1:17 in a relevant way.

Journey 117 is a branch of World Orphans.  The organization exists to encourage, educate, and empower individuals to be lifelong orphan advocates in response to God's command in Isaiah 1:17 to defend the oppressed and to take up the cause of the fatherless.

That blurb was from an official support letter, but it explains things very well.  As a Compassion advocate, I am so excited about how well Journey 117's mission aligns with Compassion's.  I cannot wait to go and serve the orphans in Uganda and to come back empowered to advocate for them for the rest of my life!

I am especially pumped because God has made it so clear to me that He has called me to go on this trip.  Right after I found out I was accepted to be a team member, a friend of mine loaned me this INCREDIBLE book called Kisses from Katie about a 22 year old girl whose life was very similar to mine until she felt called to serve in Uganda.  Once there, God rocked her world and led her to adopt 14 young girls and to commit to living her life there to love and serve those living in utter poverty.  This is a clip that tells more about the book and Katie's story.  I could not recommend this book more highly.

Last, but certainly not least, I have to share about the results of the One Meal, One Day campaign.  As most of you probably know, I have been promoting this campaign for over a month and yesterday was the big day, the day of the fast, when people skipped a meal to raise awareness and money for hungry children in Ethiopia.  Here are the results:

Compassionate Teacher's Total Funds Raised:  $635!!!!!!!!!!

One Meal, One Day Campaign Total: $8,660!!!!!

Words cannot express how blown away I am by everyone's generosity and God's abundant provision.  When I first started the campaign, I purposefully set what Liberty University students call a Big Hairy Audacious Goal (B.H.A.G.) of $500 to see what God could do.  As the campaign went on and the total was only around $100, I began to accept that my goal was "too lofty," but that whatever funds were raised would help.  Well, this week, I learned my lesson about thinking that anything is "too lofty" for God!  

On Tuesday night, an anonymous donor gave $500!!!!! 

I teared up when I got the e-mail notification.  God is so amazing!  He came through in a last minute, unexpected, miraculous way!!!

Then, I was more amazed on Wednesday when tons of people encouraged me and joined me in fasting and more people donated to the campaign.  

I cannot thank all of you enough for your support of and donations to the campaign.  I was so blessed by everyone's encouragement and involvement.  More importantly children in Ethiopia will blessed as the money is used to help them have enough food to eat and to show them that they are loved.

So, I know I was long-winded as usual, but I just had to share some of the blessings that God has poured out on me lately.  I also hope to encourage all of you that God is good and He can meet and blow away even the Biggest, Hairiest, most Audacious Goals if we are bold enough to ask Him for them!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Workshop Wednesday: Mentor Texts!!

It's Wednesday again and time for another fun Workshop Wednesday linky hosted by Jivey from Ideas by Jivey.

The theme this week is...MENTOR TEXTS!!!!

If you couldn't tell already, I'm pretty excited about it.  Asking a teacher to talk about books is like asking a gecco to talk about car insurance!  Hahaha.  I cracked myself up.

Anyways, these are some of the mentor texts I use in my classroom.

Based on the district curriculum and Lucy Calkins's recommendations, I use a lot of Angela Johnson books.  They are good examples of small and many moment stories that include features like ellipses and comeback lines.
Product Details

One thing I don't like about these books though is that are kind of basic and the kids don't get too excited about them.  That's why I supplement with some other super fun books by Mo Willems and Jonathon London.  These books include features like ellipses, sound effects, dialogue, speech bubbles, split panels, bold and colorful font etc.  Plus, the kids love the stories and the crazy characters!
All the Froggy books are great!
Great for dialogue,speech bubbles,
 thought bubbles, ellipses, split panels etc.
Those are the main books I use to teach the features, but once they have been taught, I encourage the kids to point them out wherever they see them.  It's amazing how many books do include ellipses, dialogue, and many other features once you take the time to look for them.

That being said, if you have any great ideas for what mentor texts to use to teach author's craft, please comment and let me know.  Then, be sure to link up with Workshop Wednesday to share with everyone!  I can't wait to get some new ideas!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

One More Day!!

Just wanted to pop in quickly to remind you all that tomorrow is One Meal, One Day!

If you are someone who reads my blog regularly and are tired of hearing about it, be excited that the end is in sight.  ;-)  If you are a new follower or reader and not sure what I'm talking about, here's the short version.

One Meal One Day is an annual event that unites thousands of people to skip a meal, experience hunger and give funds so that children in poverty can receive the help they desperately need.

This year Compassion International is channeling its efforts to Ethiopia, a place where drought and poverty are so extreme, many children registered in Compassion programs require extraordinary food interventions in addition to Compassion's core health and nutrition services.

Here's how you can get involved:

1. Skip a meal tomorrow and donate what you would have spent to the campaign.  Be sure to tell people why you are going hungry.

2. Donate Now to help hungry children.

Anyone who donates $10 or more gets some great thank you gifts from some fellow bloggers.

Want more information?  Click the button below.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Let's Get Acquainted and Great Giveaways

It's been a week, so it's time to reveal my lie from last week's Let's Get Acquainted Linky Party.

So, here are 3 things about me.  Since so many of my favorite memories and adventures happened  on my high school Europe Trip, I will make the three things European themed.  See if you can spot the lie.

Bombed bus photgraphed from the front, showing destroyed roof and side.
1. I was in London during a terrorist attack- TRUTH.  I was in London during the 2005 metro and bus bombings.  London was the last stop on my high school Europe Trip.  The day of the bombings was my group's last day in Europe and a free day, which meant that all 92 of us were free to to go and do whatever we pleased.  Most people chose to stay in the hotel to be safe, but my two good friends and I decided to carry on with our plans.  We ended up walking close to 7 miles around the city to see Buckingham Palace, Harrod's, and the British Museum.  We even came across a MURDER CRIME SCENE, but that didn't stop us!  It was a very sad and tragic day, but we did not want to let the terrorists win by giving up on the day.
Wrecked interior of bombed Piccadilly line train. Picture: ABC News
2. I climbed and rode to the top of the Eiffel Tower at night- LIE- Although I would love to do this, I have not had the chance to yet.  I have only seen the Eiffel Tower far in the distance as our group drove through Paris on our way to Normandy.  

3. I flooded a 5 star hotel room in Italy- TRUTH- This is by far one of the craziest things that I have ever done in my life.  It was totally by accident of course, but still...  Here's the Cliff Notes version of what happened.  It was a free day on our trip.  We were in Montecatini, Italy, a small town not too far from Florence.  After spending the morning walking around town and shopping, I decided to take a nice, relaxing shower.  I also decided to shave my legs.  Being a brilliant teenager who was used to American hotels having full tubs, I decided to try to turn the shower into a bath tub by plugging the drain.  I thought a little extra water would not hurt.  When my roommate started banging on the bathroom door and yelling that the room was flooded, I quickly realized that I was WRONG.  Apparently, the office had called our room because there was water POURING off the balcony.  My roommate got up to check it out and discovered that there was tons of water flowing from under the bathroom door!!!!!

After I turned off the shower and threw some clothes on, my roommate and I spent an HOUR using towels to dry the floor.  Then, we spent some more time using hand soap to scrub red and blue dye out of the white hotel towels because our cheap beach towels had bled all over them.  What a disaster!  

Thankfully, the floor was tile, so nothing was permanently damaged and our trip leader, a hardcore former Marine, never found out what happened!   

Now it's time for this week's party!  Thanks to Latoya for hosting.

The Noun Game!
Here are my favorite nouns:

1. Person- It's hard to choose because God has blessed me with such an amazing family and awesome friends.  If I have to choose one person though, it would be my mom.  I love her so much.  In the past few years, she has become one of my best friends.  We have so much fun baking together, taking walks, shopping, and many other things.  She is my main source of support and has great biblical wisdom.  I am so thankful for her.

2. Place: This is another tough one.  I can't decide between two choices, so I will break the rule and say both.  One is Florence, Italy.  I LOVE that city!  The architecture and art are beautiful, the scenery is majestic, the history is interesting, and the gelato is delicious!!  The other is Seneca Hills Bible Camp where I served as a summer camp counselor for two years.  Although the scenery there is beautiful too, it's really the people that make it my favorite place.  All of the staff was so supportive and caring.  I made so many amazing friends, learned and grew spiritually from wise leaders, and felt so blessed as I ministered to campers.  If you are looking for a place to send your kids to camp, I could not recommend Seneca more highly!

I'm somewhere in the midst of the craziness.
3. Thing- Although it feels weird calling it a "thing," I choose my Bible as my favorite thing.  It amazes my that God, the Creator of the universe, would allow us to know Him personally.  Reading His word grounds me, encourages me, strengthens me, convicts me, and blesses me daily.

That's it for my Nouns.  Before I go, here are TONS of great giveaways you should know about and enter!  

These bloggers are fabulous and are offering some great prizes, so be sure to stop by their pages to enter!

Also, it's only four days until the One Meal, One Day Fast!!  On March 27, people across the country will be skipping a meal and donating the money they would have spent to help starving children in Ethiopia.  Even if you can't skip a meal, you can help out by donating now.  As a thank you for donating $10 or more, you will receive some great prizes from some generous bloggers.  We are currently at $100 out of our $500 goal.  Please consider helping us reach our goal of helping hungry children.  Thanks!

Donate Now!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Character Study Graphic Organizers (Freebies)

It's SPRING!!!!!

Even though the weather hasn't caught on to that fact, the kids sure have.  It seemed like the whole class was super antsy and chatty today.  Still, we got a lot done and had some fun while doing it.

In fact, this whole week has been quite exciting for both me and the kiddos.  We started new units in math, reading, and writing, with the Character Study and Persuasive Writing units being brand new to the teachers too.

That being said, I am linking up with Jessica from Ideas by Jivey for Workshop Wednesday and Teaching Blog Addict for Freebie Friday.  This week the theme is reading graphic organizers, so I will share some of the cool Character Study resources that I have tracked down and made for our new unit.

To start off, I am in LOVE with these adorable character profile pages from Sarah Kirby at Permanently Primary.  Stop by her blog to get them for free. has some great free lesson plans and resources for all grades K-6.  For the first grade unit, the lessons focus on David Shannon's No David! books.  I'm also using some of the second grade lessons which use some great Kevin Henkes books.

I plan to use this prediction thought bubble with my class on Friday.

Now, here's a little something I made for my students to use to record character actions throughout the story.  Click the picture to download it.

Also, since a big focus of our unit is to encourage our students to be "Character Detectives," who pay attention to the character's actions, I made these graphic organizers for the students to use to record what they notice and what it tells them about the character.  Click the pictures to download.

So, now I have a question for you all.  What books would you recommend to use for character study?  I have used and plan to use more David Shannon and Kevin Henkes books, but I would love other recommendations.  Please leave me a comment with your ideas!  I look forward to reading them.

P.S. It's exactly one week until the One Meal, One Day campaign ends.  That means you have only one week left to get some great freebies for donating $10 or more to help starving children.  Click the button to learn more!