Five For Friday! Many Celebrations!

Linking up to Five for Friday!

Complete confession: I have been in a total blogging slump, for well, a while. The only reason I post is because…of linky parties. Seriously would not be posting anything if not for them. For that reason (and many others!), I LOVE linky parties (Five for Friday and Farley I’m talking to you!), but at the same time, my original content posting has been…zilch. I took last Friday off because I was on my vacation and I wanted to truly relax. I’m sure I could have come up with something to post about, but I didn’t want to. I was done with just posting to post.


That said, the Boston Marathon was on Monday! I wish I could have actually been there (come on, Connecticut, Patriots Day should be a holiday for us too! ) but just reading about it, reading runners Tweets, and watching interviews and footage afterward was almost as good as being there (okay, not really but…)!

I was beyond excited to have Meb win first place. Although I love all runners from all countries, to have an American place first was just awesome especially in light of past events.

And my second personal favorite runner (my personal favorite is Kara Goucher but she was suffering from a butt injury) Shalane Flanagan placed 7th, but set the pace for the women’s field, and finished in 2:22:02. Seriously awesome.

Oh and did I mention that Kara Goucher favorited my sister’s tweet to Kara and Shalane? No? Well, she did and let’s just say my sister and I were beyond excited.

Okay enough running geeky-ness!


Speaking of Tweets, I am proud to say I finally created my Teaching Voracious Learners Twitter and Pinterest accounts! This is something I have been meaning to do for a long time but never got around to.

Link to them here:


and here:


As I promised in my Bring your stuffed animal to school day post, here is a picture of of the stuffed animals the students brought in:

That's right. Only one student brought in her stuffed animal. But the students did have many interesting and often touching stories about their stuffed animals, I just don't think they felt comfortable bringing it in to school...Hm. I wonder why?
Here is the first of my super exciting news: I had an interview this past week for a K-2 position. Ah! Yea!

I applied Monday morning and the secretary called me by noon to set up an appointment – woah that was fast! On the phone when setting up the interview, the secretary said it was a “screening.” Oh, okay.

Wait? What’s a screening?! He said it was a 10-15 minute interview that I didn’t have to bring anything with, more like a meet and greet. In two days.

Oh. Okay. Whew!

So of course I redid my whole portfolio to have it highlighting examples of work with the younger grades, instead of older grades that I had before. And of course I brought it with me.

The interview ended up being about 30 minutes with just the vice principal. All my past interviews have had from 3-6 people present so this was a little different: and I liked it! I always get SUPER nervous with a larger group but with just the vice principal, I immediately was relaxed. It helped that she was super nice and supportive! It was honestly the best interview experience I have ever had. I’ll know by today or later whether I’m going forward in the process or not. Very excited!

(Did you know that excitement and nervousness have the same effect on the body? It’s our attitude and our mind that decides whether we are excited or nervous! How cool is that? Whenever I think I’m nervous I always think, well, maybe I’m just excited! And I usually am!)

And here is the Thank you note I wrote (it might actually be a Thank you essay, but...):


And I saved the next BEST news for last! A couple weeks ago I entered a blog redesign contest over at The Hands On Teacher in First. When I read Barb’s email from Ruby Slipper Blog Designs saying I had won over vacation I was SO excited (Seriously – I think I finally understood Tom Cruise jumping on Oprah’s coach – it was that level of excitement!). Although I love the work I had put into my blog…there just seems to be something lacking…so I am BEYOND excited to have a professional come in and renovate it all! Keep your eyes peeled for the unveiling!

Happy Friday!


Bring Your Stuffed Animal To School Day...Middle School Style

I read and follow a lot of early elementary blogs (read grades K-2) and I LOVE reading about your pajama parties where students get to bring in their stuffed animals! It’s so cute and working in a middle school it’s not something I thought I would see…but I was wrong.

On Wednesday in my 8th grade reading class, the students had broken into the reading groups. We have one group of kids reading The Darkest Path and another group of kiddos reading They Cage the Animals At Night. If you haven’t read the second one, it’s a super sad, but powerful real life book about the childhood of Jennings Michael Burch (Fun fact: I actually met him and listen to him give a book talk in 6th grade after I read the book myself in my own reading class!).

One constant in Jennings life is a stuffed dog which he appropriately names Doggie. Doggie plays the role of confidant, best friend, and dependable source of comfort for Jennings in this book.

After we had read a chapter together, the students had a written response to complete. One of the students who wasn’t too enthusiastic wanted to draw. I said okay – but with one caveat – he had to draw about an important scene or person in the book and why he was so important to Jennings.

This boy drew the most absolutely adorable picture of Doggie, and labeled it. Hm, what else I pushed him? Why is Doggie SO important to Jennings?

We had just read the section in the book where Jennings finds out his one best friend Mark, who he meets in an orphanage and continues to reconnect with through the book, has died. We were all shocked and saddened.

The student wrote “Doggie will never die on Jennings. He will always be there for him.”

Woah. For some reason this struck me. It was so true and so insightful.

This insightful and sad moment somehow (how do these conversations happen anyways?) led to a discussion of our stuffed animals.

Thus was born Bring in your Stuffed Animal Day.

I’m not joking.

These are 8th GRADERS!

One girl made up an invitation on the computer, printed it and gave it to all 9 students in the class.

The academic caveat of course is that they have to write a paragraph about the importance of the stuffed animal and then present to the class.

We’re also going to make brownies.

I’ll be sure to share pictures on Friday of their stuffed animals in my Five for Friday post.

Right now, I’m off to figure out which one of my stuffed animals I’m going to bring in.

(Come on! Admit it! We all keep stuffed animals from when we were kids! Right ... wait, right??)


Five for Friday: Playing with the Harlem Wizards and other Goodies!

Linking up to Five for Friday after a very busy and chaotic week!
First exciting news from this week:

I had the amazing opportunity this week to play in a fundraiser for our local football team with the Harlem Wizards. Fifteen of us staff and teachers versus about 7 of them….and we lost of course. It was so much fun though! Between the songs, the impromptu dance party on the floor during the fourth quarter, the selfies, and the great team mates and crowd, it was the absolutely best time I have ever had playing a sport that I am truly horrid at.

In the midst of testing, I had my vice principal buy me lunch on Monday (A delicious veggie wrap with hummus) and my math boss buy me lunch on Wednesday (hello, vegetable spring rolls!). I am truly blessed.

Next week I FINALLY have spring break! After reading about everyone elses spring breaks for the last month or so I finally have mine! Whoot!!!! Although I am not going any where I am beyond excited to just be able to relax, catch up on sleep, and...


For my spring break I stocked up on lots o' books to read:

Hopefully I'll get a chance and time to blog about my favorites in this stack.
I was supposed to have a freebie ready for everyone but I have not had the chance to make the asnwer key! My apologies!! I hope everyone enjoys their weekend and I'll be enjoying my vacation!


Five For Friday: My Favorite Pins This Week

Happy April! This week as something slightly different I decided to highlight five of my latest favorite (teacher related) pins on Pinterest.

This first one is an Our Writing Goals Poster. I like how it breaks down writing into specific attributes which they can concretely work on. Although usually I am not a fan of items that publically show where students are compared to others, I feel like this poster is slightly different. As we all know, students don’t always follow an identical linear progression in writing, so you might have some students who have mastered using finger spaces but not capitalization, and another student who is great at capitalizing but struggles to make it fun to read. There’s less a focus on who’s where and more on where there headed.

My second favorite pin lately is Math Problem Cards. These are great cards that can be used in a diverse amount of ways: Morning work, math warm-ups, as an intervention activity. I don’t know about you, but I love activities and tools that can be used in a myriad of ways.

You know how you have files in your files? And they become really hard to find (and maybe you don’t have the space to alternate length, then width)? This idea is brilliant in my mind. Using binder clips to group items together within the files, then labeling the binder clips makes it so much easier to find items and keeps papers neatly in place.

This is a homework turn in system that is so simple, but so smart. Next to the bin for each assignment area (ELA, Math, Science, Social Studies) is small container with a labeled clothespin for each student (I think clothes pins are secretly bought mainly by teachers for their labeling needs!). When the students hand in each assignment, they clip it onto their paper, making it really easy to see which students have and have not handed in their work, which gives you a chance to easily remind students during morning work to hand in homework. It also makes it easy to see who hasn’t done their homework. No more shuffling through stacks papers to check off names or grade!

The Desk Fairy is one of those ideas where you wonder, are students that gullible? Then you think about how many sixth grade students secretly really do believe in Santa. The Desk Fairy is a self-motivator for students (in mainly younger grades) to keep their desks clean. The teacher (only every once in a while to keep up the suspense and so they can enjoy the unexpected reward!) leaves a note from the “Desk Fairy” complimenting their neat and organized desk while students are at specials or lunch. Students can then choose a reward from the classroom reward binder. Brilliant!

Happy Friday! :)


Currently! April

This Currently! totally snuck up on me! It seems like March was just last week. Phew! Time flies!

Listening: I said nothing, but technically I can hear the heat on in the background. Although the days are warmer it gets chilly at night!

Loving: It was gorgeous today! I went for a long run and by the end I was covered in sweat and it was dripping painfully into my eyes. It felt great… and yes I am a running geek! But to give you a better idea why being sweaty makes me that happy: The picture on the left was taken March 31st…and less than twenty-four hours later is April on the right. Amazing, huh?

Thinking: I need to organize my To Do list for tomorrow so I can figure out what I need to do now to get ready for tomorrow. Very circuitous.

Wanting: It was brought to my attention that I my follower bar wasn’t working. Grr. I can’t figure out how to fix it. I removed it, but then I couldn’t find it again to replace it! I’m thinking I need to switch completely over to Google + or Bloglovin’ but Google+ seems like I’m abandoning the essence of me and I couldn’t figure out how to get the button from Bloglovin’ last time I tried. Hopefully this will get worked out, but if anyone has any advice, please share!

Needing: My headache to go away please! I usually don’t get headaches that often but I got one last night and tonight so I’m wondering if it’s something I’m eating or doing that’s giving me headaches.

Advice: After I graduated from college (a very intense period), I came to the conclusion that Life is for having fun! Okay, I know, we also have to work hard. But honestly when you have all work and you never take time to relish life as it is and enjoy the moment, the work ends up feeling … pointless. Like I’m working so hard and really? In the end? It doesn’t matter… You need to take time for yourself. I came to this realization mainly after a History Awards ceremony in the spring of my senior year. I had received an Outstanding History Major Award for being a top history major. And it seemed so…passing, fleeting, unimportant. Big whoop. I was one of 10 other people to get an award for various majors that year. The next year there would be another group. And another. I remember staring out the car window on my way home thinking: it’s over and it doesn’t matter. I was just another good student to my professors. Yes it made their life easier to have a good student, but did I really even enjoy being a good student? No! I was stressed all the time. So just remember to take time and have fun, and enjoy what you are doing, even when you are working super hard.

All that said, Happy Spring and Happy April! Spring is our lovely reward for sticking out the winter.


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