Sunday, June 30, 2013

Currently: JULY

How can it already be JULY? I have been out of school for SIX weeks already! Here is my CURRENTLY! 

Listening: I LOVE NPR's Wait Wait Don't Tell Me! The show cracks me up!

Loving: I found a wonderful cavas print at Hobby Lobby yesterday! I also had purchased these frames through Pick Your Plum a few months ago! FINALLY I was able to put it all together! I think I still need a couple more smaller frames to complete the look! 

THinking: I leave for China on THURSDAY (like in FOUR DAYS). I will be in China for SEVEN WEEKS. My house is a DISASTER. I need to defrost my freezer. Finish up laundry. Mop. Unplug everything. And the list goes on and on! Ugg...

Wanting: Oh yah, I have to PACK as well. Seriously I love traveling, but all of this packing and cleaning is FOR.THE.BIRDS! 

Needing:  A Circle Cutter! Kristen from Ladybug Teacher Files ALWAYS talks about her circle cutter. I for sure need one! 

Tips: I am heading out on a big adventure sometimes my expectations of what that big adventure should look like, feel like, sound like get in the way of the actual adventure. So my prayer for this coming adventure is to ENJOY each be PRESENT in every moment. This time in China will go SO FAST and sooner than I realize I will be heading on a plane BACK to the USA. I hope you will take the same advice in your summer break...ENJOY the JOURNEY! 

I hope you will check ou the wonderful Currently Posts at Oh' Boy 4th Grade! 

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Teach Like a Pirate Chapter 6:EN-THU-SI-ASM

Happy SUMMER weekend friends! I really don't think there is ANYTHING better than a summer Sunday: no lesson plans, no centers to cut out, no trips up to school! 

I love that summer allows all of us a chance to take a deep breath in and also allows for a long exhale as we rest, reconnect with family and friends, and more than likely work a little on plans for the new school year!

Summer is allowing me to do a much better job at blogging and I am thrilled to be hosting Chapter 6-Enthusiasm for the "Teach Like a Pirate" by David Burgess book study today!

Mr. Burgess starts off the chapter by saying, "I believe excellence as a teacher starts with having passion for what you do in life, and is driven home with your enthusiasm."

I so loved the chapter on passion, actually have loved every chapter, but since I was going to be writing about this chapter I decided to really dig into what the word "ENTHUSIASM" means!

 I love this definition! INTENSE and EAGER enjoyment! What does that mean in my classroom? As Mr. Burgess suggests it means that as a teacher I am ON 24/7 when I am with my students!

 err....really how do we do that?

 How can we do that, without burning out?

Well, Mr. Burgess said something that surprised me, he wrote, " Unlike passion, enthusiasm can be faked!" Ummm? Really? What? He went on to write, "Faking enthusiasm is so easy I can sum it up in two words: ACT enthusiastic" He goes on to say that while you are "acting enthusiastic" you will BECOME enthusiastic.


My first teaching job (15 years ago!) was teaching 9th Graders English Literature. The literature part was not a problem for me, I LOVE teaching literature! The GRAMMAR part was a problem for me! I HATE TEACHING GRAMMAR. Especially in the way the school required. The first few weeks I was a mess and of course my students were a mess during grammar class time.

One of my students came up to me one day and said, "Miss Carmen how come our literature lessons are so fun and you are so happy, but on grammar days you are sad and the lessons are boring?" I tried to blame it on the subject…GRAMMAR IS BORING, but I thanked her and told her I would TRY to make some changes.

The next week on Grammar Days I put a poster outside the classroom door that said "YEAH! It's Grammar Day!" The kids would walk in laughing about it. I would start off the lesson with a quote about why grammar is important or use a popular song to teach a lesson on prepositions.

I was TRYING to be enthusiastic. The kids were starting to become a bit more engaged. I remember thinking, "I hate teaching grammar, BUT if I am excited then THEY are excited."

I kept at it and true to Mr. Burgess words things changed for me and most importantly for my kids. "Grammar Day" lessons become important to me as a teacher, which means I started researching and truly lesson planning for them. I discovered a bit of a passion for teaching grammar (albeit a TINY bit).

The other big point from this chapter is to choose what you focus on. Do you choose to focus on the negative experiences or on the positive experiences? I like how the author talks about our state of mind. We truly do control what goes in and what goes out! I think I spend... WASTE... SO MUCH emotional energy on silly things throughout my day. I sometimes care TOO much about what others think!

A few years ago I went through a REALLY tough time in my life. I started struggling with panic attacks, never had them in my life before, but here they came! All enthusiasm was SAPPED out of me. I found that my THOUGHT LIFE had SO MUCH to do with how bad the panic attacks got. I had to really learn how to focus my thoughts and how to release the negative self-talk that was truly in my head!

Some things I tried (and still do) were to have a lot of positive quotes around my classroom, around my house, EVERYWHERE. A great source for some great printable positive quotes is over at Sweet Blessings. I also created a play list of songs to help me out! I could just push play on that play list and breathe in and breathe out!

All this to say I had to...I HAVE to choose to focus on the positive! Our world is SO FULL of negativity...let's choose to not only focus on joy, happiness, and ENTHUSIASM  but to SHARE IT as well!

Enthusiasm is about SPIRIT!
Enthusiasm is about HELPING OTHERS!
Enthusiasm is about SHOWING UP!
Enthusiasm is about MAKING SOMEONE'S DAY!

This is one of my favorite quotes from this chapter! First of all who doesn't love Carols Santana! Secondly, this is all I be able to give JOY. I think that we can't just keep our enthusiasm to just our classroom! We have to spread it EVERYWHERE in the school building...especially the workroom and the teachers' lunchroom.

I have been very intrigued by the TED talks lately. I typed in "enthusiasm" in the search bar and I was introduced to this truly amazing man: Benjamin Zander. I hope you will watch this! It is worth every minute and truly shows us this chapter in action!


"Shiny Eyes!" ...our students will ONLY have shiny eyes if we are enthusiastic teachers! 

If you have a post to share or just want to read more ideas about this book check out the posts here!

I wish you the BEST in this summer and for the next school year! I hope it is filled with lots of "Teach Like a Pirate" moments and lots and lots of "shiny eyes!" 

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Optimum Organization & Monday Made It: Cards, Notes, Pictures, OH MY!

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I had SO much fun last Saturday exploring all of the fun Optimum Organization  and Monday Made it blog posts! I learned A LOT! I have already started putting my room together for the fall, so many of the ideas I am using RIGHT NOW.  

I am thrilled to be linking up one again with three of my favorite bloggers for there weekly summer party! 

Don't you just love the notes, cards, and art work you receive from your students? I have a file called "HEART WARMERS" and whenever I am having a bad day, I browse through that file and it reminds me WHY I LOVE TO TEACH. 

I never know where to put all of those special notes from my students. I think it is important that they see that I VALUE the picture they drew or the words they wrote. Most of the time I just stuffed everything in a file folder. UNTIL this past school year! 

I saw this picture on Pinterest. I would LOVE to tell you the blog post that it goes with, but the link is dead once you click out of Pinterest. I thought that I just might be able to use it for all of my special notes! 

That next Saturday I went out to the salvage yard in town and picked up my own shutter for $2.00! I got a can of dark orange spray paint for only $2.00 (If you know me you will know that it took me about FOUR hours to decide on the color orange!).  I ruffed it up a bit with some sand paper and then went to town with the spray paint.  I added a hook at the bottom and a couple of embellishments...just because I love embellishments! Here it is hanging up!  

So I had a place to put everything, but then at the end of the year I realized I STILL needed to know what I was going to do with all of these special treasures! SO I went back to Pinterest! 

Again, I would love to tell you where this is from, but this was also a dead link

BRILLIANT IDEA! I am so going to do this with my Christmas Cards this next year! I grouped up all of my notes, pictures, etc and organized them as best I could. I used a 2 in whole punch and a comb binding machine to put them all together. (Well, actually my MOM did it for me!) 

Now I have a lovely book of memories for this school year ALL ORGANIZED! 

I hope you have a great time exploring all of the awesome organization ideas at 

and for lots of ideas of things to make stuff by...

Thanks so much for stopping by! 

Wednesday, June 5, 2013


I enjoyed every minute of my first giveaway on my blog! It was so much fun to have so many of you stop by! 

I also loved using Rafflecopter for this giveaway! It was SO easy to set up and so easy to have Rafflecopter pick the winner! 

I am THRILLED to announce that the winner is   

#169- SONIA H 
Sonia teachers 1st grade

Sonia I sent you an email with the details! 

I am hoping to do more giveaways this summer including a few things from my trip to China! 

Monday, June 3, 2013

Made It Monday: MY LIVING ROOM!

I am VERY excited to link up for the FIRST time with MADE IT MONDAY! 

Last summer I moved into my new home! I was SO excited! It is my first time in my adult life living in a HOUSE not an apartment or a duplex! Makes such a difference for me! 

I had lots of projects I couldn't wait to start working on! Before I could do that I had to figure out what colors I wanted in my living room. This mom says is PAINFUL. I love colors, all colors, so deciding on three colors to use took me 4 trips to Sherwin Williams, 3 trips to Lowes, and 2 trips to Wal-mart. My mom stuck with me through most of those trips. 

I decided to go with a turquoise, magenta, and yellow! By the way don't you love paint color names: Surfer, Coffee Pot, Happiness, Barcelona Street. I want to have the job of naming paint colors! 

I love the photo collages that I have seen all over Pinterest, I knew that is something I wanted to do. I spent weeks finding photo frames at garage sales that I would be able to paint. 

It was the summer of painting! 

Here is the result

I added some decorated clothespins to each frame.  Here is what the space looks like all done! 

The other project I have been working on for my living room is an AWESOME hutch that I found at a garage sale. I paid $10.00 for it! I am in LOVE with how it turned out! I am still deciding on what color to paint the drawers (you will see they are hiding under the finished hutch in the picture). 

The project I am working on this week is to paint and actually HANG some frames for my bedroom! I can't wait! I found the frames on Pick Your Plum for only $16 for ALL FIVE of them! 

Well friends, I hope you have lots of fun organizing and creating this summer! Can't wait to check out all of your posts! 

Happy Day! 

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Optimum Organization Linky Party! (A Giveaway!)

I am thrilled with the weekly organization linky party from Ladybug's Teacher Files and  Fun in Room 4B! These gals are two of my favorite bloggers out there! I pretty much reread each of their posts two or three times to make sure I don't miss any details! 

I love teaching Guided Reading, but always struggled with how to stay organized with each of the groups I was teaching. I tried baskets for each group, I tried binders, I tried magazine storage boxes, but I would always end up with a mess of papers and books. 

In January I went to a Thirty-One party and my LIFE HAS CHANGED FOREVER! For those of you that don't know about Thirty-One you must RUN to check them out! They specialize in totes of all sizes and lots of organizational storage cubes and ideas.  

Here is what I saw in the catalog...

I started thinking...hmmm...maybe I could use this for Guided Reading. There are five pockets, I bet I could fit a guided reader folder and book in each pocket....hmm...let's try it! 

My hardest decision was what color to order it in!  I decided to go with black! I had them embroider it at the top with "G Reading." 

This is honestly the BEST organizational decision I have made in YEARS! 
It is hard to tell, but there are actually FIVE pockets! 

This organizer hangs right by my guided reading table and it is just heaven! My guided reading group sits at the table, I grab my lesson plans and book for that group and after we have finished I put it back in that pocket and grab the next group's items! 

The pockets are ROOMY! When I was switching books for a group, I actually had 5 copies of books in each of the pockets. Everything I need fits inside the pockets! 

I actually just ordered ANOTHER one of these organizers for Guided Math! I am so excited to get it and start using it in the fall! 

My awesome Thirty-One consultant has offered to raffle off a Family-Home Organizer (or Classroom Organizer)! 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Happy Organizing Friends! Make sure you check out all of the helpful posts at