Classroom Design Remix

Happy Saturday everyone!  I have been working in my classroom like crazy these last few days and I am finally starting to see all of my hard work pay off.  There have been a few {okay a lot} of panic-fueled moments during this set-up process.  But yesterday as I looked around my classroom, I realized something that I wanted to share here.

This is my first back to school season as a seller on Teachers Pay Teachers.  I have ALWAYS loved setting up my classroom for a new school year, but this year has just felt different.  As I looked around and admired my classroom, I realized that even though it wasn't perfect and it may not look exactly like the beautiful pictures I've seen on Pinterest, it was MINE.  

A little truth talk here, a few days this week I have been beating myself up over the fact that my "vision," or picture in my head,  has not been panning out like I thought it would.  I had a few fits where I freaked out about not having enough bins, or the perfect ribbon to back my labels with, or enough border to cover the faux bulletin board behind my ABC line.  Please tell me I'm not alone here!

I needed to take a step back and hit the reset button.  I had to stop to appreciate all the work that has been going into the different parts of my room.  The different parts that were beginning to come together to create a space where my new firsties would feel appreciated and excited.  Going from this:

just piles and piles of books!  To something that I could truly be proud of:

is no small feat.  Not only did I see that all of my hard work has finally started to come together, but I realized, "hey wait a minute! I made those labels!"  I wanted to create something for my own room and I did it successfully.  I saw a need for my classroom and I was able to fill it and share it with others.  That was a phenomenal realization and one that I needed desperately.

Once I realized this, I had less of a desire to throw my stapler out the window.  Less of a feeling might I add, not completely, but it's a start!  I started to look around my classroom and see all of the personal touches that I've added to it.

I saw the schedule cards that I had created to fit all of the changing moments to our day.  I found the focus wall headers that I had made to work with our ever-evolving curriculum.  And I saw my ABC posters that are now (finally) hanging around my SMART board.

{sorry for the blurry shot, I'll have better ones soon!}

I began to realize, that for the first year, this classroom had pieces of me everywhere I turned.  With the help of Teachers Pay Teachers and all of the lessons I've learned from bloggers and fellow sellers, my second home was becoming an extension of myself.   That in itself is something to be proud of.  Am I saying that every teacher needs to create their own things to feel proud?!  ABSOLUTELY NOT!  All I'm saying is that we need to take a step back, look at all of our hard work, and say hey I did that.  I created a place where I can be proud to teach my students in!

 I can't wait to share all of my hard work with my students in a space that I had a hand in designing.

Of course, I can't help but share my new quote that's finally hanging proudly above my closet.

I think this quote best symbolizes not only my feelings for back to school, to have courage in doing the things I know are right for my students.  But, also a great message to teach my kids and carry forward throughout the whole year!

So this back to school season, as stressful as it can be, I vow to pride myself on the things that I have created that I at one point wish existed and turned into reality.  I will not compare my classroom to others and I will be excited to share my new space with a fresh group of incoming first graders.

I hope we can all find pride in our little home away from home.  

Thanks so much for stopping by and reading my thoughts!  I can't wait to share my full classroom reveal with you once the stapler throwing, border ripping, and library leveling comes to an end.

Have a great weekend everyone!

Five for Friday-Let the Back to School Games Begin!

Happy Friday friends!  This month is going just too quickly for my taste.  I am still in need of some weekend trips to the beach and leisurely mornings with my coffee and pup.  But, as much as I love these summer days, I'm getting super excited for the new school year!  My classroom was officially cleaned on Monday and ready for the taking.  Armed with my new class list, I entered my room ready to point my magic wand and turn it into a beautiful space.  Well, I'm here to tell you that those dreams have quickly been dashed.  My classroom has not magically transformed into a Pinterest worthy photo shoot, but rather is still very much a construction zone even after 7 hours of organizing. 

After a quick trip away this weekend, I'll be back with renewed energy and ready to tackle the beasts that are my endless boxes and crooked alphabet posters!  Before signing off for the weekend, here is a quick snapshot of my week with Doodle Bugs Teaching's Five for Friday! 

When I walked into my classroom, it may have looked like a haphazard mess but I was so giddy and excited over my new math manipulatives, games, and school supplies to (really) notice.  There is NOTHING better than an unopened box of Mr. Sketch markers ready to work their magic on an anchor chart.  Not to mention, my adorable little dish towel with my favorite teaching quote.  My mom picked it up for me a few years ago from a garage sale and it hasn't left my guided reading table since.  I absolutely love it!

On Monday, my mom and I took our annual trip to the local teacher store, Becker's School Supplies, to stock up on new borders and supplies.  My mom is so supportive and helpful with my classroom.  Every year she comes to help me set up my classroom after we bring in my always large haul from the teacher store.  This year was no different, we had way too much fun mixing and matching these beautiful borders.  I can't wait to share how they all turned out!

I blame this photo on my sweet sweet friend Diana from My Day in K!  She told me that Target was selling Scotch laminators for $20 and how awesome they were.  I found myself at Target on Thursday (shockingly) and didn't mean to buy it but it was just there sitting on the shelf saying, "Jayme take me home with you!"  I couldn't ignore it.  I have already laminated my alphabet posters, leveled library labels, reading strategy posters, and word wall headers.  So, I think it's safe to say that it was a good purchase.  Thanks Diana!  If my dog's not careful, he might get caught up in the laminating whirlwind!

Speaking of bulletin boards, here's a sneak peek of one of my boards from today!  I LOVE LOVE LOVE how the borders came out and the banners with the letters.  I don't want to admit to how long it took me to do this first board (cough an hour and a half), so I'll just sit back and admire the finished product!  All of my bulletin board paper is put up with borders but there's not much else on my boards yet to show.  I'll be working on a classroom reveal post when it's all finished!

My cousin and his girlfriend use Blue Apron regularly.  They offered my husband and I a free week's trial and we couldn't pass up the chance to try it out!  Blue Apron is a meal delivery service that delivers fresh food to your doorstep with recipes to cook on your own.  I think it would be a great way to stay regimented with cooking during the school year.  There's enough food for 3 meals delivered to your door at a time.  All of the food delivered (produce, fish, and poultry) was unbelievably fresh and ripe.  The recipes were fairly easy to follow, with a little more prep needed than I would like, but not too difficult.  My husband loved the ginger chicken stir fry with coconut rice especially!  I'm usually a 90 second Uncle Ben's rice kind of girl, so this was a treat!  I will definitely be using it again in hopes to cure the exhaustion from the back to school craziness!

That's my week in a nutshell!  I hope you all have had a great week and are looking forward to relaxing this weekend!  For all of you that are back to school already, kick up your feet and pour yourself a glass of wine (or two).  For those going back next week, good luck!  I can't wait to hear about your first days back!

Have a great weekend everyone and as always thank you so much for stopping by!  

Launching the Writing Workshop Do's and Don'ts: The First Few Days

Hi everyone!  Well, it's just about that time.  There's fresh paper on the bulletin boards, the borders are secured, the names are almost all written on new labels, and the books are leveled in their bins.  Back to school season is officially upon us!  If you're like me, you still have a few more weeks before your new kiddos come.  But, for those of you who are already back to business, I hope your first few days have been fantastic!

I'm so grateful that you've been joining me for my blog series; The Do's and Don'ts of Launching the Writing Workshop.  So far, we've talked about setting up your writing center, the philosophy of the writing workshop, the mini-lesson, and essential routines of the writing workshop.  I've also touched upon materials to include in your writing toolkit and my top ten takeaways from the TC summer institute that I had the privilege of attending last week.  I hope you have learned some valuable tips and tricks and have been inspired to launch your writing workshop with a renewed sense of excitement.

Today, I want to focus on those absolutely essential first few days back in school.  How should you launch writing workshop?  How should you create an intimate environment where your students feel safe and excited to share out their ideas?  I hope I can answer some of your questions and provide you with some fresh tips and tricks to start your year off right!  Here are my top do's and don'ts for the first few days of your writing workshop!  Enjoy!

  • Start your year by administering on-demand assessments.  If you follow Lucy Calkins' units of study, then you are familiar with what an on-demand is.  If you are not familiar, an on-demand is a a piece of writing done in one period to show what students already know about a genre of writing.  An on-demand gives teachers an idea of what needs to be taught for a pre-assessment and can also be used at the end of a unit for a post-assessment.  Some experts recommend having older students complete an on-demand assessment for narrative, information, and opinion writing all at the very start of the year.  For K and first grade, I would suggest doing an on-demand assessment before each new genre that you teach.
  • State your first on-demand as something like, " Writers!  I'm so excited to see what you already know about writing small moment stories.  Do you think you can write about one time when something happened to you?  Off you go!"  Just give them a three page booklet and see what they come back with.  
    • You can tell them that they should include:
      • a beginning for your story
      • show what happened, in order
      • use pictures and words to write your story
      • make an ending
  • Designate a meeting area for all of your mini-lessons.  From day one, teach students how to come to your meeting area.  Model, model, model, and then model some more!
  • Immerse your writers in mentor texts and stories that showcase the writing process and how writers write!  Here are some of my favorite titles to use when first launching writing workshop, Ralph Tells A Story is a personal favorite of mine!

  • Start on Day 1!  If you create an environment from the start where students are encouraged to share their thoughts and are made to feel like they have a story to tell; they'll believe you.  
  • Give students a three page booklet (a page for a beginning, a page for a middle, and a page for an ending) to get them started.  Giving students these booklets allows them to easily manipulate the booklet while planning for their stories.  
  • Teach children the steps they should take to write their stories from the beginning.  Even if your students have never had writing workshop before, one of the first mini-lessons should be about the writing process.  For kindergarten and first grade students this should be as simple as: 
    • writers create true stories by first thinking of an idea, planning it across their fingers, and then drawing and writing their stories.  
  • During the first few days, use your mini-lessons as time to teach routines and describe the structure of writing workshop.  Why not teach your kids one day all about what a conference is?  Show them what you're looking for as the teacher, what their responses should sound like, and why you do them.  This will make them MUCH more comfortable when you sit down next to them during independent writing time.  It will also cut down on the "deer in headlights" look when you ask, "What are you working on today as a writer Johnny?" You know it happens!
  • PRAISE, PRAISE, AND PRAISE SOME MORE!  Throughout your ENTIRE first week and beyond, constantly stop your writers and point out the smart choices that students are making.  "Oh Bobby, I love the way you capped your pen after you finished writing today."  "Susie, great job sketching your picture first."  "Writers!  Jeff wrote about a time when he caught a fish and had to have his dad pull it out of the water!  Wow!"  Constant praise and support will only encourage your writers to keep going.
  • Have fun!  Writing workshop is a time to truly listen to your students and encourage their individuality while still meeting standards and learning valuable life skills.  Celebrate their hard work, perseverance, and great ideas!  They will learn to love it.
  • Assume that every one of your incoming students are at the starting gate for writing.  By using an on-demand assessment you will see where your writers are.  You can judge this by using a learning progression or rubric to see what skills your students have and what they need.  This will give you an idea of how to conduct your unit.  Maybe your writers are much more competent than you expected.  This will give you the chance to modify your mini-lessons to lift their level of writing instead of continuing to go over the basics if they don't need it.  
  • Give them an on-demand assessment with no guidelines at all.  You're NOT out to get them. Use this pre-assessment as baseline data to show how much they have grown as writers as the year continues.  On-demands are great tools to have during conferences!
  • Don't panic if you don't have a large carpet or classroom library to hold mini-lessons in.  As long as you have a place in your classroom where students can gather comfortably and you can either write on an interactive white board or chart, you're good to go!
  • Don't feel like you only need to read mentor texts during writing workshop.  Share these titles to help launch writing workshop during read aloud, snack, or reading workshop.  Show your kids that all areas of literacy work together!
  • Don't say, there's no possible way to start on the first day!  Students should be made to feel like writing workshop is an important part of their routine.  They should know that it needs to be practiced and modeled just like lining up for lunch, packing up to go home, and taking turns.  If you practice from the start, it will become second nature for them.  
  • Don't just set out one type of paper for booklets.  Allow students to decide whether they're ready for a paper with lines or just a picture box.  If you give students the power to choose, they will feel more in charge of their own learning and motivated to do their best work. 
  • Don't forget to reiterate that every writer first has to think of an idea, plan it out, and then write it.  If you stress this process from the start, writers will be more inclined to do in naturally.  
  • Don't give up! Please don't!  It may not feel like your students are becoming as independent as quickly as you want them to be.  Don't give up on them.  If you continue to model and remain consistent and supportive, your writing workshop will run smoothly.  Like anything else that's worth the effort, it just takes time.
Wow!  I hope you have found these do's and don'ts helpful and feel more confident to launch your writing workshop successfully from the start.    Please feel free to ask questions in the comments below!  I will be back throughout the year to show you my writing folders and bring new ideas to implement in your writing workshop!

But wait, I'm not done just yet!

In order to make your transition back to school easier, I have also created a workshop teacher planner to help keep all of your lessons in one place.  As a workshop teacher, there are so many elements to our literacy block that I want to make sure I'm teaching.  I haven't yet found a lesson planner that had all of the components I was looking for.  So, I made one myself!  

Inside my workshop teacher planner,  you will find planning templates for reading workshop, writing workshop, and word study.  I have included templates to plan weekly lessons for shared reading, interactive read-alouds, reading workshop mini-lessons, conference notes, and small group plans.  For writing workshop, you will find templates for shared writing plans, interactive writing plans, conference notes, writing workshop mini-lesson templates, and small group plans.  

I'm so excited about this new product that I'm going to be giving one away to a lucky reader! All you have to do is enter your name in the rafflecopter below!  This giveaway will run until Thursday, August 14th at midnight.  If you want to check it out before then, you can visit my TpT store here!

I hope you find it useful!  As always, thank you SO much for stopping by and reading through my series.   I hope you'll remember to keep calm and write on!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Top Takeaways From The TC Writing Summer Institute

Hello everyone! It's the morning after my last day at the TC summer writing institute and since walking out the doors of Columbia University, my brain has not been able to turn off.  I have been looking forward to this week of learning for a year now (since finishing up my first institute last August) and this year was beyond all expectation.  The amount of knowledge that I have gained about being a workshop teacher has been so beneficial and inspiring that I can't wait to put them into practice the moment my students walk through my classroom door.  I found myself throughout the week continuing to ask myself, "Is it September 8th yet?!"  I never thought I would wish my summer away, and even though I plan on enjoying these next few lazy days of summer, I have a renewed sense of purpose and determination for the beginning of the school year.

As much as I have enjoyed this week of learning, I kept thinking about how I was going to share all of these strategies and new ideas with all of you and with the other staff members at my school who were unable to go.  I was in a little bit of a panic.  Could I do it justice?  Would I be able to write these things in a way that would inspire others who couldn't be there firsthand?  Because of this, I decided that even though I will continue to write a few more installments of my, Launching the Writing Workshop Do's and Don'ts series, I realized that I needed to share my reflections on my experience with you all first.  My hope is that through these top takeaways from the institute will provide us with a springboard to talk more about workshop teaching but also inspire you to decide what goals you want to set for yourself at the beginning of the year.

With that being said, I hope I can share some of the magic from the institute with you below with my top ten takeaways!  Here goes nothing!  

Lucy Calkins did not waste anytime in her keynote speech on the first day of the institute.  Her speech really resonated with me and many others, especially when it came to this idea.  She spoke about how important it is as teachers to share the strategies of composition with our students.  But, the only way to create an intimate setting where students feel safe and confident is how we respond to them when they're sharing their ideas.  She quoted Don Murray who states that, "Listening is essential to writing."  This quote and how Lucy spoke about active listening really hit home for me.  

We all have those students who upon first glance or during our first few minutes in a conference, appear to have nothing to say.  In that moment, when we can so easily panic and say "Oh no!" is when teachers can evoke the most response and either lift our writers up or squash them.  If we act as though Susie's story about going to get ice cream with her dad is the most amazing thing we've ever heard, she will too.  Lucy said to respond with enthusiasm and ask for ALL of the details!  If you are excited about their story, they will be too and encouraged to tell you all of the tiny moments that make up Susie's trip to get ice cream with her dad.

This idea kept popping up throughout the entire week with several different staff developers and I have to admit, it's a weakness of mine.  I have been motivated from the start with the writing workshop but not all of my other colleagues have been.  I have actively pursued professional development opportunities to learn as much as I can about this kind of teaching and I have struggled to find the time to always share with other staff members.  You all know what happens, our to-do lists become too long and our schedules quickly become jam-packed.  The time to share and just talk gets smaller and smaller.

I don't want that to be the case anymore.  We need to work collaboratively with our grade level teams to plan, decide, and assess writing together.  Annie Tortono, a staff developer at the project, said that we shouldn't "wonder about how writing is going in our school, we should know."  One of the ways we can "know" how writing is going is by creating norming meetings three times a year with our grade levels.  Bring examples of student writing and as scary as this may sound, trade with our team members and assess each other's student writing. This will open everyone up to a dicussion about what truly constitutes benchmark writing or below benchmark writing and what we can do as teachers to move our writers along the progression.  

Real talk, this is a challenge for me!  I have spoken before about using timers during mini-lessons to make sure we keep mini-lessons mini.  But, I also need to be careful of this during my small group work and my conferences.  Amanda Hartman, a lead staff developer who I had the pleasure of being with in one of her sessions, talked A LOT about keeping teacher talk "lean and purposeful."  When you're in small groups or conferences, keep YOUR talk to two minutes and then put it onto the student.  Coach them and guide them to what they need to change or add but do not over-talk.  Small group work should be about the teacher coaching and the students exploring and practicing what they have already learned.

Okay, this one I used to think I needed to hide behind my computer screen for, but now I am going to shout it loud and proud.  So many teachers worry about not fitting in the teaching of grammar, mechanics, and conventions inside the writing workshop.  No, there are no workbook pages on nouns, verbs, or adjectives.  You're right.  Because......well.....wait for it....I'm getting the courage to type.....this should all be taught organically and authentically throughout all aspects of balanced literacy.  

There are several mini-lessons outlined in the units of study that focus solely on the use of mechanics (stretching out words, using the word wall, thinking of what we already know about words to spell), conventions (punctuation and capitalization), and grammar (syntax) that are taught to your students.  These standards ARE taught in the writing workshop but it is taught as PART of the process, not in isolation.  There are several opportunities to focus on these standards in writing workshop. 

 You can pull small groups solely on adding punctuation and capitalization.  You can do an interactive writing lesson to show where writers put capitals and where we use end punctuation.  You can do interactive editing with small groups or your entire class to show how to edit a drafted piece of writing. Or you can even create a day every week for a mini-lesson that is called "Attention to Conventions." (thank Monique Knight for that idea!) The possibilities are endless but it's more about responsive teaching.  Which means you are teaching your students the mechanics, conventions, and grammar that they need at THAT moment after you study their writing and see what they're using but confusing.

I heard this from several staff developers and almost all keynote speakers throughout the week like Mary Ehrensworth, Sarah Weeks, and Lester Laminack.  They continued to stress the importance of showing vulnerability to your students.  Lester Laminack spoke at great lengths about the importance  of teachers showing students that being wrong will cost them NOTHING.  In order for our students to write and feel confident sharing their ideas we need to first show them that WE make mistakes, that WE put ourselves out there for critiques, and that WE deserve their trust and respect.  

A way we can do that as workshop teachers is to share our own writing with them and ask for feedback.  We can tell them about a time when we had to fix something because we didn't get it right the first time.  Lester Laminack said that, "everything we ask our kids to do in writing, we should have an example of our own."  This shows them that we're taking risks as well and it's ok for them to do it the same.  

This quote goes hand in hand to what I said in the previous point.  In order for our students to write and feel confident, they need to have trust.  Lester Laminack asked us to think about how we gain trust or think of others as trusworthy.  What we as adults need to trust someone is time, history, and showing vulnerability.  Our students need that as well.  We can't automatically assume that they trust us from the moment they walk through our doors.  We need to gain their trust and then gain their respect.  Once we have this, they will be more willing to take risks in their writing and all other areas of the school day.

This takeaway was truly eyeopening.  I heard this from Mary Ehrensworth but from several other staff developers at the project as well.  The importance of oral rehearsal, the act of kids storytelling with teachers or with partners, is so unbelievably important.  Especially at the beginning of kindergarten and even still at the beginning of first grade, some students are not able yet to put words onto paper. Students need the time and guidance to understand first how a story should sound and then practice, practice, practice telling their own stories in a storyteller manner.  This focus on oral storytelling and oral rehearsal will help encourage our writers and unlock their writing in ways we could never do if we rushed them to put pen to paper before they're even ready.  

We can raise the level of kids talk during playtime (yes, they talked about the importance of play as well), during read aloud, and during writing conferences.  It is a major goal of mine this year to have my students orally rehearse their stories before putting pen to paper to have them fully grasp the concept of what a story should sound like.   I want to get them away from listing in their stories like "This is my dog.  This is a cloud. This is my mom."  If we give students the opportunity to orally rehearse and coach them to recognize how a story should sound, they will be more apt to do it when we give them the pen and paper.

Yes, yes yes!  Just because we tell students what a small moment is, that does not mean we're teaching them to fully understand and apply that.  We have to show them, model it, let them practice it, and then coach them and encourage them to keep going.  

I thought this was such a beautiful sentiment that Lucy Calkins shared in her keynote speech.  Teaching writing is a matter of faith.   Faith that our students have stories to share, faith that they trust us enough to share them, and faith that we can coach our writers into sharing more and more.  I choose this year to have more faith in my students.  

My biggest takeaway from this entire experience is that I have so much more to learn and so much more room to grow as a teacher.  Just when I think I have a handle on being a workshop teacher, there are so many more strategies that I can try to help my students grow more.  I never want to stop learning from others and growing into the teacher that I know now I want to be.  I want to be a teacher who is vulnerable, who makes mistakes, who celebrates my students at whatever level they might be at, and who inspires others to do the same.  Lofty goals but thanks to TC, I know I have the time and energy to try and reach them.

I hope you will stick around in the days to come to read more about how I plan to launch writing workshop in my classroom!  Thanks as ALWAYS for stopping by!

Keep calm and write on!

Tell All Tuesday!

Happy Tuesday sweet friends!  I can't actually believe I'm saying this but today marks our very LAST Tell All Tuesday linky party for the summer!  Whaaaaattttt??!!  How is this possible?!  How have these last few months gone by so quickly?!  I unfortunately don't have the answer to that, but I do know that my friend Diana from My Day in K and I have LOVED every bit of our summer linky party.  It has been such a great way for us to connect and get to know each and every one of you.  I am so thankful that you chose to link up with us each Tuesday and come read our posts!

In honor of our last link up of the summer, we're ending with a bang!  Our final Tell All Tuesday theme is drumroll............A Wish, A Goal, and A Dream for the school year.

It's that time for most of us when we get our hands dirty setting up our second homes and sit and wonder about the students coming into our classrooms.  For me, August is always full of "what-ifs" and "maybe I'll do this!" Questions like, "Will my kids be excited to be in school?"  "Will they want to go home the first day?"  "Will I remember how much my first graders need me in the beginning of the year?"  "Will I be a teacher worth remembering?"  These are all the questions that run through my head as August arrives.  

Even though I'm not ready to let go of my lazy mornings with coffee in hand, there is something about the promise of newly sharpened pencils and pristine bulletin boards that make my heart go pitter-patter.   I am ready to set myself up for a successful year by thinking positive thoughts and wishing upon a few stars.  So, here is my goal, my wish, and my dream for this coming school year in hopes that some will come true.

A Goal: To Explore with Curriculum and NOT be afraid to fail.
My district is revamping our entire ELA curriculum this year with a lot of changes.  For some, that may seem daunting but I am genuinely excited for it.  I can't wait to implement word study and be able to meet the needs of all of my learners with a more reading workshop approach.  However, I'd be crazy if I thought that everything was going to run smoothly right from the start.  My goal is to explore with the curriculum, take risks, be vulnerable, and not be afraid to fail!  If a lesson doesn't go well, there's always tomorrow.  As long as I'm doing what's right by my students, that's what matters.

A Wish: For Better Work-Life Balance.
I know, I know, how cliche is this answer.  But, really truly it is a wish of mine.  I know for a fact that there are so many teachers out there who take piles of work home with them each night.  Not only are we grading papers, but we're returning emails, revamping lesson plans, creating new activities that we just thought of that minute.  These are all things that I absolutely love about this profession, but it can take a toll on the most seasoned professional.  I need to allow myself some time to unplug and connect with my family and friends too.  I REALLY hope I can fulfill this wish.

A Dream: To Reach All Of My Students
Wouldn't this be absolutely amazing?  Personally as I know so many other teachers do, I try without fail to reach each and every one of my kiddos.  I try to learn about them both inside and outside of school, what they're interests are, their strengths and weaknesses, and what makes them tick.  But, sometimes I just don't excite all of my learners.  It would be a dream come true if I was able to not only inspire all of my students academically but emotionally as well.

After this, I'm feeling more and more excited to meet my new group of firsties!  It won't be long now!

Will you join us for our last link up this summer?  Just grab the image below, open it in PowerPoint, add your text to the image, and add it to your blog post.  I can't wait to read your hopes for the new school year!  Are any of them similar to mine?  I'd love to hear from you in the comments below! 


This may by good bye for now but don't worry, you won't be without Diana and I for long!  We've had too much fun with this to abandon our linky party completely.  Make sure to follow our blogs and stay tuned for a monthly linky party set to debut soon!

I wish you nothing but a school year full of smiles, laughter, happiness, and lots and lots of success!  

Thanks as always for stopping by!

August Currently

 I know it must sound repetitive, but I really can't believe it's August!  Everyone always jokes that summer's over after July 4th and it's sad but oh so true.  This summer is FLYING by and I need to take the next few weeks to truly appreciate the dog days of summer.  But before I do that, it's time to link up with Farley over at Oh Boy 4th Grade for her fantastic Currently linky party!

Each month during the year I look forward to this linky party.  The promise of a new and exciting month is on the horizon and there's always fun things to share.  This month is a bittersweet one for most teachers.  Thankfully, I don't go back into my classroom with my kiddos until September so I have a few more "carefree" aka b2s prep weeks ahead of me BUT it will go too quickly!  It's time to sit back and enjoy the little things!  Here's what I'm currently up to:

Listening: I am such a sucker for this movie!  The concept always fascinated me growing up and I would often think, what if my life was a television show?!  It would be a pretty boring one, as I was QUITE the goody-two-shoes growing up but I still day-dreamed.  Every time this movie's on TV I have to watch it!  

Loving:  Is there anything better than a lazy Sunday morning with coffee and a comfortable chair?!  I think not!  I am going to sit back and sip and sip today without the Monday morning scaries looming over my head.

Thinking: Yesterday was my husband's 30th birthday.  I have been planning a surprise party for him for a few months now and I was SO nervous about it!  We had family and friends coming from out of town, so the logistics of it all was difficult to handle.  I am NOT a planner, that job in both daily life and business goes to my hubby so this was out of my element!  Thankfully, everyone came and had a wonderful time!  There was lots of bowling, food, laughs, and good times!

I even got to sneak in a special ice cream bar for my hubby and ordered these Pittsburgh Pirates baseball hats for the sundaes.  My husband is a HUGE, MASSIVE, INSANE Pittsburgh sports fan and he couldn't get over these sundae caps.  I knew it would bring him back to birthdays that he spent at PNC park watching his team play.  I needed to bring a little bit of his home to NYC for him!  It was a hit!

Wanting:  Remember how I said I didn't go back to school until September?  Well, that doesn't mean I want to wait until then to get back into my classroom!  My room, being one of the few with air conditioning (I know I know) is used for the extended school year program over the summer.  It just ended so now hopefully it's getting cleaned and I'll be able to get into it starting next week!  I am ITCHING to start organizing and decorating!  Everyone's blog posts and IG pictures are giving me major Back to School FOMO (if that's even a real thing!)

Needing: Tomorrow I start the weeklong Summer Writing Institute at Teacher's College.  I am so excited to be going back and learning from so many experts in the field.  I went last year for the first time and was completely consumed by all of the information I learned.  With that, I "NEED," school supplies for my classes.  I have a feeling a cute notebook and new flair pens are on my Must-Buy list for today!  I can't wait to share everything I learn with all of you!

B2S RAK:  If I haven't mentioned it already, I LOVE coffee.  And as the saying goes, Americans and THIS Teacher runs on Dunkin.  I plan on bringing my team some back to school caffeine boosts the first week of school. It always adds an extra pep in my step!

Thank you all so much for stopping by!  I hope you all have a wonderful day!

Make sure you head back to Farley's blog to check out more Currently posts!