Sunday, September 29, 2013

October Means TV Premieres

I love fall. I like the cooler weather, the jeans and sweatshirts, football, bright colors...yes, I'm a fan of fall.

But, perhaps my favorite part of October are the season premieres of some of my favorite shows.

Bring on Scandal, Once Upon a time, Revenge, and Dancing with the Stars. And Duck Dynasty of course. Oh and I watched the premiere of The Blacklist and WOW...I will definitely be watching again this week. 

Are your favorites back on?
What are you watching?
What else should I be watching?

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Redecorating for the Seasons

I'm a seasons girl. I like that here in Delaware we get a chance to experience all four. If you ask me which is my favorite I probably won't always tell you the same answer.

Right now, I would say fall is my favorite.
Which works out nicely since that is where we are headed!

Don't get me wrong, I love my summer. Especially in June when I'm itching to get out of school and put my toes in the sand. But, I confess by August I'm pretty much done with the heat, sun, and sweeping sand out of my house sixty-million times a day.

Yep. Fall is good.
The world explodes in colors, the air is cooler, I can wear my comfy jeans and sweatshirts, and my favorite color, orange, is everywhere. It's time to get lost in corn mazes, pick pumpkins, bake with apples, and enjoy some pumpkin spice coffee. The kids are back in school, I'm back to teaching, and routines are in full swing.
Yep. Fall is fabulous.

To celebrate fall, I figured I'd spruce up my blog design a little. You know by changing my colors and adding some fall to my header...nothing too crazy. What do you think?

Now if only decorating my house was so quick and easy!
Do you decorate for the seasons?
How do you feel about fall?

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

How did this happen?

It seems like every time I take time to write here I'm talking about how fast time has gone by. I'd hate to break my style so here I go again.

I blinked.

7th and 3rd grade. My babies. 

Yep, time is still flying.

Hard to believe my first post was my almost teenager going to Kindergarten! Wonder if this here blog will be around to see high school and college?

Monday, September 2, 2013

Happy Labor Day!

Good-bye summer vacation.

Good-bye four day weekend.

I guess celebrating Labor Day is the perfect way to end the lazy days of summer and start thinking about welcoming a new school year. Tomorrow it's back to school for the kiddos and me. Seventh and Third Grade here we come, ready or not.

I'm pretty excited. My 3rd grader? A little bit. My 7th grader...not so much!

To celebrate the start of learning here is some history on exactly why we celebrate Labor Day and how it came to be.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

September 1st? But it was just May!

Evidently I haven't posted since the end of May.
It's September 1st.
Summer anybody?

To be completely honest I haven't missed blogging that much.  I've kind of enjoyed living life without thinking I should be taking pictures of this to share or how something the kids said would make a great post.

But, on the flip side, I've often enjoyed reading my blog going back in time to encounter the memories I shared here. I regret that the last couple of years I didn't record some of our special adventures. I always said that my blog was my digital scrapbook and I love looking at all the pictures, reading the stories, and remembering the past.

This year I'm having my third graders blog to practice their writing skills. I thought the blog would give them an authentic reason to write. Since I was encouraging them to write, I thought it was time I got back to writing myself. I'm not promising daily updates and will not be creating a blogging calendar or going blog wild as in the olden days, but I will pop in now and again. I'm one of those teachers who truly believe that leading by example is the way to gain my student's respect and ultimately get the results that are desired.

So here we go...again.
What have I missed???
Does anybody even visit me anymore?

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Spring Decor

I know, I know, I haven't blogged since January. Where does the time go? 

This morning I had an urge to visit my blog and saw that it was still in winter mode with snowflakes and ice blue colors. Can't have that when we are celebrating Memorial Day. So now we are all ready for the summer with pink gerber daisy' favorite flower!

I hope you all enjoy the long weekend.

A little Memorial Day trivia...
Did you know that Memorial Day was originally called Decoration Day?
It was because the graves of soldiers were decorated with flowers.

I had no idea until I was planning a lesson on Memorial Day for my 3rd graders. One of my favorite things about being a teacher is that I learn something new every day too.

Be sure to take the time to remember those who have served and are serving so that we can enjoy our freedom.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Celebrating Earth Day with my 3rd Graders

Yes, I realize that Earth Day was over a month ago. I was playing in my posts and realized I never finished this one. We had so much fun I didn't want to pass on sharing!
It's always fun to celebrate Earth Day in the classroom.

Usually there is such a diverse understanding of the day depending on my students background knowledge and family beliefs. Then again, that is just another day in a public education classroom. This year I hunted down some new ideas. Along with some reading, writing, and math activities, I decided we'd do some crafts too. Honestly, I find that many students don't get nearly enough opportunities to cut, glue, color, paint, and all those other crafty things. So anytime I can incorporate these types of projects, I do.

One of our projects this year was creating Earth sun catchers. This was a super simple project using contact paper, tissue, and small piece of red construction paper. Oh and a coloring page of earth to use as a template to keep the water and land somewhat in the right place.

  1. Place one piece of contact paper, sticky side up, on top of the coloring page template. 
  2. Stick green tissue on the land and blue tissue on the water. 
  3. Write an Earth Day pledge on a red construction paper heart and place it wherever you choose. 
  4. Place another piece of contact paper was then placed sticky side down to seal it closed.
  5. Use scissors to cut out the circle (leave a little space outside the circle to keep the paper sealed).
  6. Punch a hole in the top and hook on a suction cup to hang in the window.

Our other project was creating Earth Day bracelets. Another easy craft using a pipe cleaner and different color beads. Simply put the beads on the pipe cleaner, twist the ends, and voila...a bracelet!

 Each of the beads represented something so I printed the key on paper so they could share it with their family.

blue - water
clear - air
yellow - sun
brown - soil
green - plants
red - animals
heart - YOU!
black - pollution

The lesson from the bracelet was that WE are the only thing between the environment and pollution so it is our job to take care of our Earth.  The kids loved it!

Nothing like bringing fun into the classroom! 

Friday, January 25, 2013

Olympic Concerns

While the Olympics have been over and done with, I just stumbled across this draft I had started and I just can't let it go to waste. 
It has been an interesting Olympics this year especially when it comes to the swimming and gymnastics.  In previous years we would do the American thing and watch the nightly recaps cheering on the American's and their victories.  We were watching history happen. It was great. But, we were pretty removed from the action.

This year though, we were watching from a whole new perspective as we now have our own swimmer and gymnast in the house.  As I watch, I can almost imagine what those athletes parents are feeling. I can hear their thoughts...finally all that money I paid is paying off! I watch the strokes and the routines through new glasses. I sit at the edge of my seat as swimmers dive off the blocks and reach to cut off that last hundredth of a second that separates first and second. I hold my breath as the hands come off the bars and reach for it again and as that big breath is taken before the run across the beam for the final dismount. My own kid swims those strokes and does those routines (albeit at a slower pace and lower level), but we go to the pool and sit at the gym nevertheless.

Of course while watching the events, Dave and I joked with our kiddos about them being in the Olympics one day. Not that we aren't completely supportive but Olympic dreams aren't really on our horizon. We aren't those parents. We are realistic.

However, the other night we were all snuggled on the couch for our evening event watching when Zoe said she was worried. I asked what she was worried about and in a very concerned voice she said, "But mom what if Dylan has a swimming race at the same time I have a gymnastics routine when we are in the Olympics in a few years.  We won't be able to cheer for each other. Who will you and daddy watch"?

After a quick chuckle, I assured her that we would definitely find a way to work it out if the situation presented itself.  I also said that there was absolutely no reason to start worrying now about something that was so far down the road. She seemed content with that answer and went right back to watching the Olympics.

So who knows?
Maybe one day we will be watching those Olympics from the sidelines after all!


Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The Empty Dinner Table

I remember those days.

We'd come home from school and work, make dinner, and sit down as a family to enjoy dinner. We'd talk about the day, yell at the kids for not using their table manners, share our stories, yell at the kids for complaining about what they were eating, and basically just spend quality time checking in with each other. We connected.  I always swore that no matter what, we'd always make time for dinners. Together. At the table.

Ignorance is bliss they say.

Time passed.
The kids grew..
Gymnastics started.
Swim practice began.
Homework commenced.
I started teaching a night class at college.

Now our dinners at home around the table are few and far between. One or two and sometimes if we are lucky, 3 of the 4 of us are able to eat together now and then. Our dinners have become whatever is easiest to grab and warm up, or pick up from the pre-made section at the grocery store, and yes, may even be a bowl of cereal. 

I miss those days where we would gather around the dinner table.
I want them back.

How do you manage dinner along with sports, music, after school activities, and the rest of life?

Monday, January 21, 2013

Did His Dream Come True?

Every year, I spend a day or two sharing the story of Martin Luther King, Jr. around his holiday. Considering that students get this day off school every year you would think that most know a bit about him, but I still find that there is always more to share about his story.

I usually read a picture book, show an excerpt of the actual speech, and have the students complete some activity related to MLK.

Of course, his dream is shared throughout the lessons.

"I say to you today, my friends, that in spite of the difficulties and frustrations of the moment, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.
I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal."
I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at a table of brotherhood.
I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a desert state, sweltering with the heat of injustice and oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice
I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.
I have a dream that one day the state of Alabama, whose governor's lips are presently dripping with the words of interposition and nullification, will be transformed into a situation where little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls and walk together as sisters and brothers.
I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.
This is our hope. This is the faith with which I return to the South. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.
This will be the day when all of God's children will be able to sing with a new meaning, "My country, 'tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrim's pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring."
                                                                                                             ~Martin Luther King, Jr.

I always end our mini unit with this question,
"If Martin Luther King, Jr. was still alive today, do you believe he would say his dream came true?"

Students must then write a paragraph answering the question with support.  The responses are always as diverse as my class.  The examples that they provide to support their opinion are sometimes very eye-opening.  They become my teachers, allowing me to see the world from the eyes of a child.

As for me, some days  I do believe we are close to seeing one man's dream come true, but then some days I feel we still have a long way to go. But, have we made progress? Absolutely.

What about you?
Do you believe that Martin Luther King, Jr.'s dream has come true?

Friday, January 18, 2013

What are you Watching?

One of my favorite things about January is that new shows are back on tv.  Nothing like spending a winter evening caught up in the drama, reality, or humor.

Some of my favorites.
Scandal, Revenge, and Modern Family.

We will see about Biggest Loser, American Idol, and The Bachelor. Sometimes I find myself sucked in and sometimes I miss the whole season.  Haven't watched yet.

Starting to get curious about this Downtown Abbey show. Lots of twitter and facebook chatter about it. I heard it was on Netflix so thinking it deserves a watch or two.

What about you?
What are your winter favorites?

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Electronic Planbook

I think I kept a paper-pencil planbook for exactly one year before I made the switch to electronic planning.

I created a basic excel template where I plugged in my schedule annually and then planned the days away. It was very convenient when I taught the same grade for consecutive years because I could just copy, paste, and add my upgrades to the lessons.  It worked for me for the past 7 years.

Then, recently after a conversation with a colleague, I bought a planbook app.  My new school district supplies every teacher with a Mac Notebook so I figured I may as well try out the app.  I have it set up and planned for the week.

But, I'm not so sure I'm hooked on it yet.

How do you plan?
Paper-pencil? Spreadsheet? App?

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Chocolate Chip Cookie Rocks

If you can't tell from the title of my blog, I have a thing for chocolate. Or anything sweet really.  Even my students know this. So they loved when I kicked off our Earth Materials investigations on Rocks and Minerals with a project of observing a chocolate chip cookie.  

The thing about rocks is that they are made of ingredients so in order to identify a rock, geologists must determine the minerals that make up the rocks.  We put on our geologists caps the other day to determine the "minerals" that make up chocolate chip cookie "rocks".

Using the chocolate chip cookie, the students practiced using properties such as shape, color, texture, etc to describe their rock. They also learned how to accurately measure the diameter, circumference, and depth along with mass.

They seemed to enjoy it, but I think they may have enjoyed eating a "rock" at the end while we read the book "If You Find a Rock."

If you teach rocks and minerals or want a fun way for students to practice making observations with properties or taking accurate measurements check out my Chocolate Chip Cookie Rock printable.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Weekend Wrap-Up

The weekend came.
And the weekend went.

Why is it the weeks can take so long and the weekends are over before they seem to begin?

It was a good weekend though. Kicked it off with a date night Friday night with some friends we haven't seen in way too long. It was nice to have an adult night out.  Although I barely said two words to my husband as I caught up with my girlfriend. Good times!

Saturday started bright and early with a swim meet that was an hour away and started at 8am. Not fun. Thankfully Zoe spent a night with a friend on Friday so only Dylan and I had to get up and get out. The swim meet was a success as Dylan knocked off time on all of his swims.  He swam his first IM of the season where he has to swim 25meters of each stroke.  I was able to video this race which was the first I've gotten this season.

He ended up shaving over 6 seconds off his seed time and came in 4th out of 6.  His butterfly is his hardest swim and it was funny because you can see on the video he streamlines for quite a bit before coming up. His strategy? If he stayed under water for as long as possible he would have to do less strokes!  Guess it worked for him.

Then it was back downstate to the gym to pick up my gymnast. I also had a meeting there until 3pm for our big home meet. We finally made it back home around 3:30.

We ordered pizza and settled in for some Ravens action. Boy, they did not disappoint. I think it was the most exciting game I've watched. Maybe ever. Back and forth went the touchdowns. Up and Down went the excitement level in our house. Crazy! But, they did it. Thanks to that Tucker!  Awesome job by all and can't wait to watch the Championships next week.

So after that full Saturday, I decided I was not leaving the house on Sunday. Dave took Dylan to lacrosse practice and Zoe and I just vegged out at home. I did some school planning, added some lessons to TpT, checked out Facebook, Twittered a bit, and even got some blog posts scheduled.  Lest you think I was lazy, I did catch up our laundry and dishes too!

All in all, a good weekend.
Now for a four day week ahead, well at least with students. I have a half day professional development day on Friday.  Parent conferences Tuesday night and college class on Wednesday though. Hopefully there won't be any surprises!!

Here's to a great week for all of us!
How was your weekend?!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Teacher Website

One of my goals for this year at my new school was to keep an up-to-date webpage that would contain information for my parents and students, but also share the learning that was taking place in school.

I think it is important for families to realize what their child is learning in school so they can talk to them about it and perhaps assist them if they are struggling with some concepts.

This is my teacher webpage. I'd love to hear some feedback about what you think. Is there something I'm missing? Something I should do to make it better for my parents/students?

I'd love to hear about your experiences with teacher websites as well.
Parents -
  • Does your teacher have a website? 
    • If so, do you find yourself utilizing it? 
    • If not, do you think you would use it if they did?
  • What do you believe are important features that teachers should include on their website?
Teachers -
  • Do you have a website?
    • Is it required in your district?
  • Who is your targeted audience?
  • What are the most important features that should be included on a teacher website?

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Forget the 12...let's go for 13!

I kicked the whole resolution setting to the curb last year and instead made my 12 in 2012 listI decided to go back and see how I did with meeting my 12.
  1. Stay in touch better with my family and friends. Hmmm. This is a bit divided.  I had a wonderful visit with my grandfather over the summer, my cousin came for a short visit for the first time, and we had multiple friends come to stay, and had a great summer hanging out with friends at the beach. However, school rolled around and with the new job things got busy. I struggled staying connected once again.
  2. Read more. Perhaps one of the things I did the best. I read, read, and read some more. I found our library's app and have been downloading and reading away. I love reading!
  3. Paint every room in our house. So we got the downstairs kitchen, living room, dining room, and bathroom finished. Then it stopped. Maybe this summer...
  4. Run a 10K. Didn't happen. Enough said.
  5. Lose 10 pounds and then do it three more times. see #4
  6. Blog more. 44 posts last year. Well it was something, right?
  7. Take more pictures. While I admit to not taking pictures with my point-and-shoot I did take a lot of pictures with my camera. Guess I need to add something about sharing my pictures on my 13 list.
  8. Visit one state I have never visited before. Nope.
  9. Take a getaway with my husband. Didn't happen.
  10. Play more. I'm not sure we "played" more, but we sure were busy together!
  11. Relax and take risks. I will say I think I did relatively well with this one. I made a conscious effort to let some things go. While I still have a ways to go I'm making progress. My big risk was saying goodbye to the school district where I started my career and worked for 8 years. It was a big step, but I am SO HAPPY I did. I found my passion for teaching once again, my coworkers are wonderful, and I've had the opportunity to challenge myself with new things.
  12. Social Media Adventures. As my blogging faded so did my social media adventures. I have shut down all my other blogs and I feel great! I felt like I was trying to spread myself way to thin on something that was giving very little return. At the beginning of the year I believe I was searching for a change. Taking a new teaching position filled this for me.
So there you have it.  Was I successful in 2012?  Maybe not according to this list, but I'm pretty happy with 2012. Here's to an even better 2013!

Monday, January 7, 2013

New Year. New Blog Focus?

You may think that the tile would be prelude to a New Years resolution post, but not so fast. I won't be sharing any resolutions, just a focus change I'm contemplating making on my blog.

If you've been around awhile you are sure to have noticed my lack of blogging.  Somewhere along the line I just lost my bloggin' fever.  After almost 8 years, I guess it's no surprise. Actually blogging is probably the longest "hobby" I've every stuck with!  I sometimes miss those good ol' days of blogging my life away, sharing our family adventures.  Don't worry, we are still having adventures, but they just aren't making their way here. It just seemed with a middle schooler and 8 year old the postings may just not be as cute as the stories from when they were little guys.  While they never said anything about me talking about them here (usually they would say, "Mom, you can put that on your blog."), it just seemed time to phase out some of the stories. Not to mention with a middle schooler and eight years old's social calendar, this mom didn't seem to have much time to be able to sit and type the stories either!

At the beginning of this school year, I made the move to a new school district and a change in grades and discovered my passion for teaching again. The job change has really helped get my teaching career back in focus. I LOVE teaching. I enjoy planning lessons, especially with my SMARTboard, that include engaging activities that make learning FUN for my students.

I recently began sharing some of my lessons at my Teachers-Pay-Teacher store and have met some fabulous teachers from other states through the forums there. I've discovered that just like mommybloggers, teacher-bloggers are out there taking over the education world too!

So that new focus I was talking about?
I've been missing writing on my blog so I'm thinking of combining my teaching more with melsboxofchocolates.  I'm not going total teacher-blog, but am hoping to share some stories from my classroom and my teaching experiences. 

Hopefully you will stick around!!

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Bringing it Back in 2013

WOW! I only posted 44 times last year. 
That's kind of sad considering the year before I had posted triple that amount.

Guess that's what happens when...
  • You have a middle schooler and 8 year old, who are a gymnast, swimmer, and lacrosse player that needs to be driven to practice, meets, and games.
  • You are teaching elementary school full time in a new school district and in a new grade level.
  • You are also teaching two face-to-face classes for two different colleges, plus one distance learning class online.
  • You spend the last summer re-painting the downstairs of your house and it takes three coats of paint!
  • You are wife, mom, maid, taxi driver, accountant, and master scheduler among many other job descriptions.
While I wouldn't change a thing about any of that (well, maybe if I had the money I would hire a painter) unfortunately my blogging was the thing that got shuffled to the bottom of my priority list. And there it sat. Pretty much being untouched.

But now it's a New Year!  I miss writing. Blogging. I miss other bloggers.
While I know I can't go back and blog nearly as much as I did in those good ol' days I would like to make a small come back.

What about you?
Is there something you have let slip away in the past year that you are hoping to bring back in 2013?
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