Time is running out

A month long of writing has been quite the adventure.

I didn’t meet my goal of posting for each day of November,

but I have to say it was definitely worth participating in NaBloPoMo.

It pushed me to write, and pushed me to find thing to say.

I don’t really consider myself a real writer

and I don’t have aspirations of publishing anything someday,

but I will say it was a fun way to push myself to write more often.

I hope moving forward, it was an exercise that will

inspire me to write on a more frequent basis.

Of course I had every intention of blogging every day

and on some days, I even posted twice.

But of course, life gets in the way of your goals sometimes,

so you just pick up where you left off, and go with it.

This marks the 20th post of mine for November.

That’s success in my book.

Reasons why Pinterest saves me

Please tell me you’ve heard of Pinterest.

If you haven’t, I give you full permission to abandon

reading this blog and go spend some time there!

Though sometimes technology takes over our lives in a bad way,

I really have to say that Pinterest is a lifesaver sometimes.

Here are reasons I love this website:

1. Thousands of recipes on hand for nights I have no clue what to cook!

I’m sure you’ve seen some of the recipes I’ve posted

and all of them have come from somewhere on Pinterest.

Whether I’m looking for a fab dish to bring to a get-together

or something to quickly whip up for dinner after work,

it’s so nice to actually see a picture of what I’ll be making

rather than hoping the recipe will provide something mouth-watering.

This baked potato soup was healthy AND delicious!

2. Planning my weekly wardrobe just got easier.

Let me first start off by saying, I have no fashion sense.

Well, until I discovered all the fashion pins on Pinterest.

For years, I felt like I continuously had nothing to wear

though my closet was bursting with clothes and shoes.

It’s because I never really learned how to shop

in a way that make sense for putting my wardrobe together.

Kind of girly, but I now follow a few fashion blogs

that have seriously flipped my shopping sense upside down.

Before I buy anything now, I find myself thinking,

Do I have at least 2 other things that will go with this?

If not, it’s a no-go.

3. Fitness tips galore!

You may have noticed that I haven’t been blogging about running lately

because I’m trying to rid myself of a stupid injury called Runners Knee.

But in the meantime, I’ve been able to pin inspirational quotes

and other fitness tips to try while I’m not running.

Yesterday I found a great arm workout with dumbbells,

and after that a killer ab workout.

I don’t know about you, but I workout wayyyy more efficently

when someone else makes up the workout

and I can just follow the directions.

4. Teaching ideas from fellow amazing teachers!

One of my favorite parts about Pinterest is that it’s simply pictures of things.

So when I’m looking for an engaging lesson idea

I can search by a topic idea and then browse pictures of lesson ideas.

Anchor charts, art projects, games, workshop centers, and more!

It’s seriously a lifesaver sometimes,

especially when my creative brain has been fried and I need something new.

I used this poster in my class to teach about how to choose a book that is “Just Right” for each student.

I probably could add a few more reasons, but I’ll stop there for now.

This whole idea came to me today

when I was able to throw in a couple of chicken breasts, salsa, and taco seasoning

into the crockpot for a few hours while I did my Sunday errands.

Dinner tonight! Yum!

This shredded chicken recipe for tacos is so easy

and this is probably one of my favorite go-to meals when I need something quick.

I probably would never have tried this recipe in the first place

had the picture not looked so appealing!

Thank you, Pinterest, for being so darn amazing,

and making my life a little easier.

Baking Bliss

I like to savor every last moment of my “freedom.”

School breaks seem to come and go so quickly,

that I always get a little sad when they are about to end.

Baking while listening to some of my favorite Pandora stations

was the perfect itinerary for this lovely Saturday to cure my Back to School blues.

Cranberry Almond Biscotti, with a hint of orange zest

You will need:

1 3/4 cup all purpose flour

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

pinch of salt

3/4 cup slivered almonds

1/3 cup craisins

2 tbsp unsalted butter, softened

3/4 cup sugar

2 eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp orange zest

Here goes nothin’:

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Line baking sheet with parchment paper.

2. In medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt.

Add craisins and almonds and mix.

3.  In larger bowl, beat sugar and butter for about 1-2 minutes.

Add vanilla, then eggs, one at a time.

Lastly, add the orange zest.

4. Slowly add dry ingredients and mix until a smooth dough forms.

5. Remove dough and form 2 long flat logs about 1 1/2 inches wide

and about 11 inches long.  Add flour if the dough becomes too sticky to work with.

6. Bake for about 20-25 minutes.  Cool until able to handle.

7.  Using a serrated knife, carefully cut 1/2 inch slices at an angle.

Place each slice face up on the baking sheet.

8.  Bake for another 4 minutes, then flip each cookie to the other side.

Bake for another 4 minutes.  Let cool.

I have to admit, the few times I’ve made biscotti

I’ve been with my mom, and these just weren’t the same.

However, they are just as addicting!!!

I recommend bringing some to friends, family, neighbors, coworkers, whoever!

I will admit I’ve already had one too many today myself.

One more day of “freedom.”

Sigh, I promise I do love my job.

But these breaks from school really are pretty amazing.

I plan to enjoy every last second.

 Who knows what trouble I’ll get myself into tomorrow.

100!

Yowza!

I had no idea that my last post marked number 100!

It’s been only a few years since I started blogging,

but I am pretty proud of myself that I’ve found enough to say to keep it active.

One of my 30 before 30 items

was to maintain this blog on a frequent basis,

and with this 101st post, I’d say that this item has definitely been completed!

I have no plans of writing a book anytime in the future,

but it’s definitely fun to document all the happenings in this life.

Here’s to more stories of how I ‘run my life.’

Cheers!

Joy Factor

I often talk about something called the Joy Factor

when it comes to getting students engaged and excited about learning.

Well about a month ago, I definitely added a new layer to this idea.

One of my team teachers and I decided to do something a little out of the ordinary

to bring the Joy Factor to our students.

I’d like to call this episode of Joy Factor “Class Swap”

because we did just that.  We swapped classes.

Olivia is a writer as well as a teacher

and she’s currently in the midst of getting her first novel published.

My class was finishing up writing personal narratives,

and to give them a little bit more enthusiasm,

Olivia came and taught them a lesson on the editing process.

Meanwhile, I visited her class to bring an art lesson

that accompanied her science unit on the water cycle.

It was a fun experience to step into a new class

and I have to say the kids were definitely into the swap idea.

This experiment could have easily been a bust on either end,

but I think both classes enjoyed a surprise lesson with a new teacher.

 Water Conservation Lesson – 5th grade Science

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This lesson was focused on the fact that only 1%

of water on Earth is usable by humans.

After brainstorming ways we as a community could save water,

I introduced the students task at hand –

to create a persuasive poster to encourage others to conserve water.

Each student was provided with a “must haves” checklist –

-provide four ideas to encourage water conservation

-use pictures, symbols, or words to persuade the viewer

-include two vertical lines and one horizontal line to divide the poster

-98% of the poster should be covered with color

-markers should only be used for outlining

I was impressed with the ideas the students came up with

and the ways they decided to articulate them on their posters.

I’m telling you – save the arts in our classrooms!

our students today are definitely motivated by creative projects!

Though the students were not able to finish in the 45 minute swap,

I assured them that their teacher would make time for them later.

I’m pretty proud of their work and can’t wait to hang them up in our front hallway!

To you teachers out there – how do you bring the Joy Factor to your classroom?

Sewing Adventures

 

This break has been a little on the boring side.

Granted, I am mighty thankful for the week off from school

but my school break are usually filled with all kinds of plans.

This one, for some reason, has fallen a little short.

Today I forced myself to make things a little more exciting

by taking a trip to the fabric store and sewing at Abuela’s.

I figured a little sewing inspiration might do the trick

of bringing this break a little sparkle of fun.

                   Kwik Sew Pattern 3513

I seriously have had this style of skirt in mind for weeks now

but I’ve left the fabric store empty handed a few times now.

Whether it be that I couldn’t find a pattern idea

or a knit fabric that I liked,

I wasn’t having too much success with this vision.

Today must have been my lucky day though,

because I found both my dream pattern and a cute fabric to go with.

Another sewing project all by myself goes in the books.

Abuela will be proud.

(She’s been out of town for a month now,

luckily I have the keys to the house just to use the sewing machine!)

Sorry I’m not including directions today,

but here’s a little slideshow of my sewing adventure.

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A lesson about money

I feel like I taught a very powerful lesson today.

A lesson on managing money.

In my classroom,

my students can earn, spend, and owe money.

Students can earn money for all sorts of things:

great behavior, sportsmanship, a great attitude,

helping without being asked, academically sound responses in class,

the list goes on and on!

They can earn “debt” for a few things too:

forgetting to write their name on an assignment,

consequences on our behavior chart, extra bathroom passes

or forgetting to push in their chair.

There are others, but that should just give you a little taste.

They can also spend their hard earned dollars in our class store

to buy things like prizes, school supplies, lunch with a friend,

homework passes, and more.

And then, to cumulate the trimester, I host an auction

with larger, more enticing prizes.

Well, today was the last day of the trimester,

which meant we had our very first auction.

Ha!  What a reality check this was for some students.

You can call me a mean teacher if you want,

but some students had hardly any money to spend,

which meant they left the auction with nothing.

I watched them as they looked around and realized

that their peers had managed their money a little smarter than they had.

Wasting it on bathroom passes just to get out of class,

or visiting the class store one too many times.

Or better yet, earning way too many behavior consequences.

Maybe this will change their outlook on the new trimester.

Who knows?  Or maybe I’m just mean…

Others had merged their money with a friend,

and learned a hard lesson about sharing finances with another person.

For if one person wanted a prize, both parties had to agree

on spending the bid on the table, and if not

they were forced to sit down and miss out.

Maybe next trimester, they’ll have to decide whether

they should have separate accounts or keep the partnership.

And then finally, the ones who hit the jackpot!

It was fun to watch the ones with the big bucks

bid higher and higher for different items.

I loved watching them teeter back and forth if they should bid higher

just before I stated “last call” and upped the price.

The best was over a “one week of no homework pass.”

Two girls bid back and forth, back and forth,

until finally it was sold – for 80 dollars!

The class hooped and hollered,

some surprised and some jealous.

It was good times all around.

Another example of a lesson that wasn’t planned

but was a powerful one.