Tuesday, August 27, 2013


I am only two days into preservice week and I am EXHAUSTED!  Don't get me wrong, I love being back and even more, I love the learning taking place.  Today's learning was over the top!
A little background: this year the school I teach at is moving into our exploratory year of PYP (Primary Years Program).  This is the beginning piece of the IB program.  
Today, we jumped into an overview of what PYP is and started to become familiar with the language we will be working with. I left incredibly overwhelmed, yet pumped up.  Guess where I turned to for inspiration and ideas...Pinterest!

I of course have started a board and can't wait to add to it.

This was another great find!
I would love to hear if you teach at a PYP school, or have any knowledge of the program.  I can't wait to learn more!

Don't forget my Instagram Giveaway ends tomorrow, you can still enter!

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Planning Time to Blog

It pains me to say this, but I am already feeling the anxiety of the new school year and I haven't even had my first "real" day back.  I know that the next 2 weeks are going to be BANANAS, but I don't want to let this new project (this blog) fall to the wayside.
I first read about the UBC on Katie's blog, Teacher to the Core.  Katie had nothing but amazing things to say about the resource, so I knew I needed to learn more.  I was able to get a good view on TPT and finally snagged it during TPT's back to school sale.  What an awesome sale, by the way.  I was able to get so many items that have been on my wish list.
Click the picture to be taken to this product.
I quickly printed September through December, plus a few extras, and got to work.

Each month has a great overview that allows for easy tracking.  I love the quick checkbox for posts that you schedule.

Each month also has a planning guide.  I have used this page to spit ideas out for posts.  Now, I just need to write them. :)

There is also a giveaway page, which allows for easy planning and tracking each month.

I decided to add an extra component for my TPT planning and products.  Sarah Eager created these great planning guides.  I am finding them easy to jot down ideas as they come to me.

A bit of extra information: the UBC also includes note pages, a blogger friend form, and a statistics page.  Thank you, Gina for this amazing creation!  I am so excited for its continuous help in keeping me balanced.

What do you use to keep your blog planning organized?

Saturday, August 24, 2013

My First Giveaway Reminder

Click the image to enter the giveaway!

Don't forget to enter for your chance to win an Alex and Ani Feather Plume bangle and a set of math games from my TPT store.
This beautiful bangle could be yours!
Thank you again for all of your support!  I am so grateful for this community!

Friday, August 23, 2013

Planning For Balance

Even though PD starts next week, I have been preparing for my loss of time.  One thing that happens  when I constantly feel rushed is that my healthy eating habits suffer.  In an attempt to not let that happen, I have been reading up on easy lunch plans.
Last year, I feel in love with salads in a jar.  They were simple to prep and they kept for a few days in the fridge.  Even better was the variety of recipes I found.
Pinterest has a ridiculous amount of recipes!

This year, I wanted to switch it up with lunch "boxes."  I decided to peruse Pinterest (of course!) and found the jackpot of all healthy meal sites, 100 Days of Real Food.  This site is a mecca of healthy food ideas.  The only new purchase I made after reading this site was a set of divided rectangle contains, by Ziploc.

I love how easy it is to pack leftovers or prep new lunches.  The division allows for a balanced lunch with the ease of grab and go.  I can't ask for more!

What are your time saving lunch secrets?

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Rethinking Guided Reading Groups

Planning and running guided reading groups was rough last year.  I had 33 students with insanely different reading needs.  I worked so hard to schedule groups around Title interventions, ELD pull out, SMART, and who knows what else.  Even after insane amounts of planning, I still felt like I wasn't meeting with each of my kiddos enough.
The schedule allowed for me to meet with groups of students, but I never had enough time to individually conference with students.  I still feel bad about this and am determined to make this my professional goal this year.
This was my never-changing group planning page. Yikes!
Although the scheduling was crazy, prepping and assessing each week was tricky too.  It wasn't until  I made time to explore Reading A-Z's website and do some research (Pinterest and TPT) that I began to feel like I had a grip on my groups.  (Side note-last year was my first year teaching 1st grade)  My greatest discovery was a literature circle pack from Rulin' the Roost.
Click the image for TPT link.
I was able to use the pack with all of my groups, no matter their level.  This allowed for a more streamlined planning and a smoother transition between groups.  I know I will be using this pack again!
I am so excited to get planning on this year's groups.  I am so eager to get my class list and student files, but more than that, I can't wait to meet my kiddos!

I would love to hear about your guided reading recommendations.  Also, don't forget to check out my giveaway!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

My First Giveaway

You all are amazing!  I hit 300 Instagram followers!  I am so grateful for this incredible teacher community.  As a thank you, I am hosting my first giveaway!

Enter for your chance to win:

From my TPT store!
Alex and Ani Feather Plume in Russian Gold!

Be sure to enter for a chance to win these great items!  You can also participate in the Instagram giveaway for your chance to win any two items from my TPT store.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Monday Made It - Back to School Organization

Classroom creations are in full force!  I have been creating and posting like crazy!  Speaking of posting, have you gone through your TPT Wish Lists and purchased a ton of goodies?  I know I have!  The Back to School Sale is almost over, so don't forget to use code BTS13 for an additional discount.
Now, onto my new creations:
I made these adorable (if I don't say so myself) Sterilite drawer labels.
Click the image to grab a set!
I was able to cover this can with scrapbook paper.  I am going to store sight word pointers in it.  Be sure to check out my Instagram tomorrow to see it in my classroom.

What have you been working on in your classroom? 

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Back to School Sale

I am throwing my first sale!  Be sure to swing on over to my TeachersPayTeachers store for some new products.  I have been working hard this summer and can't wait to share my creations with you!

If you purchase from my store and take the time to leave positive feedback, be sure to include your email in the comments.  I will send you an additional product for taking the time to support my store.

Liebster Award Take 2

I can't believe that I got another Liebster Award nomination!
So what is a Liebster Award?  It is an award given to new bloggers with less than 200 followers.  
Here are the rules:
1.  Link back to the blog(s) that nominated you.
2.  Nominate 5-11 blogs with less than 200 followers.
3.  Answer the questions posted by the nominator(s).
4.  Share 11 random facts about yourself.
5.  Create 11 questions for your nominees.
6.  Contact your nominees by commenting on their blog or sending them an e-mail to inform them of their nomination.

Thank you, Brittany for the nomination.
Easing Into Room 101 

Here are Brittany's questions:

1. How did you come up with your blog name? I have been "searching for balance" throughout my personal and professional life forever.  My blog was created as a way to share ideas and experiences, while "searching for balance."
2. How many days this summer did you think about school for the upcoming year? Too many!
3. How many students is your ideal number? 24 
4. What new and upcoming styles do you love/hate? I love the floral prints and am not a fan of thigh-high boots.
5. What's the last movie you saw in theaters? Rate it! Pacific Rim- 3.5 stars (it was entertaining, but crumby writing)
6. If you could teach anywhere in the world, where would you teach and why? (Rome- I LOVE Italy!  My husband proposed on our vacation there 3 years ago.)
7. How did becoming a teacher change your life? Teaching has allowed me to love everyday of my career.  I am so grateful that I get to wake up each morning excited to go to "work."
8. Did you have a student who impacted your life? If so, how? I have lost count of my unforgettable students.  Each year, there are any number of kiddos that change my view on the world.
9. What is the worst/best part of the school day for you? I have a hard time getting myself moving in the morning, but it is all worth it once I walk into school each day.
10. When do you start school??? Teachers start August 26th; Students start September 3rd

11 Random Facts about me:
1. I am left-handed.
2. I have a younger sister.
3. My favorite color is green.
4. I HATE squash.
5. I loathe scary movies.
6. I refuse to wear plain white socks.  If I can't wear sandals then my socks need to be snazzy.
7. I have a dream of visiting all 50 states.
8. I love Kettle Salt and Vinegar chips.
9. Once upon a time, I was a nanny.
10. If I could be any fictional character, I would be Mary Poppins.
11. My sister and I have matching tattoos.
It is an enso.  It signifies our journey of sisterhood.
I have nominated the following blogs:
Elizabeth of Seconds at the Beach (check out her post
Becky from First Grade Friend-zee!
Heather from Ms. Moon's Kindergarten (check out her post
Marie from Beach Lovin' Teach
I am still searching for more blogs to nominate.  If you have a new blog and haven't received a nomination, leave your blog name in a comment below; I would love to check it out.

Here are my questions:
1. What college did you attend?
2. If you were not a teacher, what would you be doing?
3. Do you have any pets? If so what?
4. Who is your favorite children's author?
5. If you could have any superpower what would it be?
6. What is your favorite subject to teach? Why?
7. What is your favorite color to write with?
8. Why did you start blogging?
9. Mr. Sketch markers or Scentos?
10. What is your favorite movie?
11. How do you balance blogging, teaching, living, etc.?

Thanks again, Brittany! 

Thursday, August 15, 2013

What I Am Loving Thursday

This week has been crazy busy, but FABULOUS at the same time!  I am having a blast with the incoming kinders, they are so excited to be at school.  I must be feeding off of their excitement, because I am pumped (yes, "pumped") for a great year.
Even though my mind is getting into school-mode, I am holding on to bits of my summer.
I am loving these remaining pieces of summer...
Lavender picking- an annual adventure with my sister.
Tomatoes from my 1st garden!
Dalias- my favorite!
Rocking in Central Oregon!  We seriously dug for rocks.  It was a neat way to spend a day outdoors.
My two newest loves have to be...
Best sparkling water ever! 
This picture is perfection!  I want to get it for my house and my classroom!
What are you still loving about summer?

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Beginning of the Year Read Alouds

Like so many of you, read alouds are my favorite part of the day.  I love sharing new literature with my students.  What I love even more is when they connect to the story.  Two read alouds that I use every year are Goldie Socks and the Three Libearians and The Best Story.

I use Goldie Socks and the Three Libearians, by Jackie Mims Hopkins to teach and practice finding a "just right" book.  The author does a wonderful job of following the Goldilocks format while explaining how to find the "right" book.  Once we have read the book, I allow students to explore our classroom library, searching for a "just right" book.  I also provide each student with a Just Right Bookmark.
Click on the image to grab a copy of this bookmark.
Each time I conference with students, on their reading, I make sure that they have their bookmark handy, and can demonstrate how one of their books is "just right."

I have blogged about The Best Story before.  I love using this book to launch Writers' Workshop.  Once I have read it to my kiddos, we create our "what we love" project.  I give each student their journal for the first time, with a blank heart glued to the back cover.  Students then draw pictures and label items and events they love.  They can then refer to their hearts for writing inspiration, and add to it throughout the year.  

What books do you use to launch Readers' and Writers' Workshop?

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Back to School Blogger Exchange

I am so excited to have participated in the Back to School Blogger Exchange.

Not only did my buddy send me the most adorable package, but I made a new blogger buddy.
Polka Dot Kinders

Check out the goodies that Sara, sent me:
I squealed when I saw the moose bookmarks!  Sara sent me all my favorites: washi tape, peanut butter M&Ms, peanut butter cups, a Starbucks card, a chevron container, and dry erase markers, all in an adorable green basket.  Thank you, Sara!

Sara reached 400 followers and is having a Fabulous Giveaway.  Be sure to check it out; not only is she giving away products from her TPT store, but there are a plethora of bloggers (including myself) participating in the giveaway.