Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Back to School and a Classroom Tour

All the kids went Back to School this week, and I barely managed to pull my room together in time. Honestly, I don't know where the time goes.

Pinterest is where I found the idea for the signs the girlies are holding. That ding dang website is giving me more ideas than I can ever hope to implement. It would be frustrating if it weren't so blinking inspiring. Now I have Inspiration Induced Frustration.

Just what I needed. Another condition to suffer from.

I found this idea on Pinterest too. It's my sort of hideous, but super fun Back to School manicure.

Some people couldn't tell what my nails are actually supposed to be, although I'm sure you know. I've received a lot of pained smiles with the question "Are those your school colors or something?" Humph. In the tone of voice which implies "I'm so sorry."

Okay, fine. They are supposed to be pencils. Get it? The tips of my fingers are the erasers. The silver is the clampy part that joins the eraser to the pencil.

I think my manicurist really outdid herself. I took my Pinterest picture in to her, and she very graciously humored me.

I've had quite a few requests to do a classroom tour post, and since I've been working on my classroom for the past two weeks, I figured it's only going to look worse as the year goes on, so I'd better take some pictures now. Ready or not.

These are the built-in cubbies as you walk into my room. The cubbies are great because the student desks don't have enough room for all their books and their stuff.

These cupboards and drawers are right next to the cubbies. I love all the storage I have in this classroom. Peanut Head loves it too, because that means the stuff isn't stored in our garage anymore.

More room for Christmas decorations, whoo hoo!

I'm sorry this picture is so dark. We can thank the windows for that. This is my classroom library. 

I've posted about this magnetic board before. It's where my students make their lunch choice every day by putting their number magnet in the box for their choice. Any numbers that are left on the grid represent absent students. This gives me the lunch count and the attendance all in one tool. I also post the students who have Hall Monitor duty and Peer Tutoring, and it serves as my behavior management tool as well. If a student receives a warning, they move their magnet into the yellow zone. If they get in trouble again, they move their magnet into the Red Zone of Consequences and then have to fill out a Pink Slip and take it home to be signed by a parent. I've been using this board for the past two years, and it is my absolute favorite classroom management tool.

The red rectangles sticking out of my bookcases are my new library guides. I love them now, but it was one of those projects that involved some trial and error. Okay, a lot of trial and a lot of error.

If you want to make some library guides like these, you can find the instructions and digi graphics here. I know a lot of teachers group their books by level and/or subject, but I group mine by author, so this works great for me.

I also have number images in the same style that I used for numbering my cupboards, and you can find those in the same post.

This is my desk area, and I have to say it's not at its tidiest here. I literally ran out of time and ended up taking some considerably large piles and shoving them under my desk. I have impressive problem solving skillz.

Oh looky. I see a pile oozing out of that corner on the floor too. Perhaps I'll tend to it over the Thanksgiving break. Or not. It's good to have goals even if they are unrealistic.

Janae, the Vinyl Magician did all my white board vinyl for me. It's a huge time saver to have that stuff on the board. I love it.

I have plenty of bulletin boards too. I'm not a big fan of changing my bulletin boards. I like them to be functional, and I don't like the time involved in changing them. Therefore, I tend to put them up and keep them up.

I did make some changes this year though, because they were starting to make me twitchy. That, and change is fun, isn't it?

I love monsters, so I had to add some new monster borders that I bought a year ago and never had the time to put up. Since I was changing the borders anyway, I decided to put up some Cookie Monster blue butcher paper too. Cookie is my favorite monster.

I've been wanting to do a math bulletin board for a long time. I'm always harping on the kids about their units, as Harrison so eloquently illustrated in his cartoon. I even put pictures above the bulletin board of the Mars Climate Orbiter and its intended trajectory as compared to its "Oops, my bad because my disagreeing units made me crash the gazillion dollar satellite" picture.

I just love beating dead horses like that.

The only reason the calendar ended up where it is, is because I didn't want to go to the trouble of moving the Six Traits of Good Writing board over a few feet.

You can't even tell that I cheated on that one, can you?

If you can, please just lie. I choose denial.

The yellow bulletin board says "Fancy Words," and it was lifted right off of Pinterest.

I mean it was inspired by Pinterest.

Janae has been cutting a lot of vinyl for me lately, and this one is my favorite. I'll do another post to show you the rest, but I haven't gotten it all put up yet. If you want this one, Janae can hook you up with it for $21.50 here.

By the way, this idea came from Pinterest too.

My name is Jill and I'm a Pintaholic.

Do you remember these hall passes I made last year? Well duh, I didn't think to make a general hall pass for the times when a student needs to go to the office. Or another classroom, or whatever.

So I had to make another little bonus hall pass.

This one is a little sign that the kids get to wear around their necks.

It was inspired by this cartoon.

Believe or not, it is the most popular hall pass. Students choose to wear it instead of take one of the other cutesy passes, because they like the attention they get when they wear it. It's not the Potty Prancers, but we like it just fine.

UPDATE: I have posted an updated version in an obnoxious size here, complete with a link where you can order one for yourself.

I also have my 2012 Classroom tour up here. I'm now teaching 7th and 8th grade math in a middle school.

2013 tour is up here.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Death in the Family

Now don't start freaking out about my post title, a person in my family did not die. However, I did want to share a little . . . hmmmm, let's just call it an unfortunate event that took place while the girls and I were in California, and Peanut Head was left behind to hold down the fort. Well, that, and work. Someone has to bring home the bacon around here.

Glad it's not me.

Anyway, a couple days into our trip, I received this little e-mail message from Peanut Head.


I'm going to go grocery shopping tonight. Is there any money for allowance around here, or should I get some at the store?

On a sadder note, probably shouldn't let on to the girls just yet. We've had an issue . . . well . . . with one of the animals.

Nothing much can be done now.

But I don't think you should show the following to Zoe and Annie.

Before I show the picture to you, I need to explain something. I know you are distracted by it already, because I am distracted by it. The "allowance" that Peanut Head is referring to, well, I just want you to know that I don't monitor everything he spends or anything like that.

Well, actually I do, but what I feel I should explain is that since we got married twenty years ago, we have always had a weekly allowance of $20 to spend on whatever we want. That's what he is referring to.

So, back to our regularly scheduled execution, I mean loss . . .

I scrolled down and down and down and down to this picture. This picture that made me smile.

On the other hand, it was a nice day at the range today.

Write back soon. :)

Peanut Head is so naughty. Of course I immediately read the e-mail to the girls and showed them the picture. Then I told them to call their Daddy chop, chop, and give him a piece of their minds.

Which they did.

And it was very high pitched with lots of squealing, and overall, very entertaining to listen to. 

We're making memories here. Little nuggets of life that I can relive again and again when I'm in the old folks home.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

It's Really Over

It's really over. Summer, that is. Tomorrow I can get into my classroom to start setting up, and I'm going to be spending every spare minute getting ready for the new school year.

That's tomorrow though. I made a little deal with myself that I have to get this post up before I disappear into the abyss of classroom prep. Let's just call it my little end of summer recap.

The picture above is Zoe Bug wearing her new, wearing on my nerves, attitude. I believe I snapped this picture and grumble-whisper-scolded her, "You give me a smile or there will be no ice cream."

Correct me if I'm wrong here, but isn't 10 a little young to enter the grouchiness of puberty? I'm always getting eye rolls from Girlfriend here, and if she chicken necks me one more time, I'm going to turn her into a Bobble Head and put her on my dashboard. At the very least, I'm going to get a crick in my own neck from exaggeratedly mimicking her.

In this picture, we were at the San Diego Zoo, having a good time. It would be nice if you could tell that we were having a good time, Zoe Bug.

I'm happy to say that at least this put a smile on Zoe's face. Isn't it the cutest little paw you ever did see?

It belongs to Mr. Taking a Nap Polar Bear. I just wanted to climb in there and snuggle up with him. Except that he would probably eat me for lunch.

The glare of the glass makes it look like he's holding a water bottle, but I promise that is not the case.

As I mentioned a couple posts ago, I went to BlogHer '11 while in San Diego. This is an Ivory soap sculpture from the conference. I think that means Ivory was one of the sponsors. There were a lot of sponsors, and let me tell you, they treated us well.

They were feeding us every time we turned around, and it was good food. I think I gained eight pounds in two days.

I'm talented like that.

This is my new BFF, Erin, at the Dove chocolate booth. 

The only reason I remembered her name is because she's wearing a name tag, and I was able to zoom in on it when I was editing these pictures. I guess that means that technically I didn't remember her name.

I love her though. She fresh dipped a Dove bar just for me. 

I've always had a special place in my heart for Dove chocolate.

And special padding elsewhere that is always happy to rent space. I don't love that part.

After eating lunch and the Dove bar, I stumbled into this Hershey's S'more Bar. I was in a sugar stupor.

Then I came across these Truffles on a stick at the Red Envelope booth. Seriously. I am a chocolate junkie, and I was surrounded by pushers. Since I was already hopped up on chocolate, I was able to leave the convention center with the entire truffle completely intact. I had plans to bestow it upon my prepubescent offspring.

I got all the way back to my mom's house with it too, and as I was pulling it out of my bag to bestow the gift, I snarfed it down.

I have no idea what came over me, it was an involuntary reaction to the raising of the truffle next to my head.

The next day I went back and got another one, and I'm happy to say that I delivered it to my babies untouched.

All of this stuff, and then some, was free. Apparently it's called swag. Swhat? I know. That's what I said. I had to Google it. It stands for Stuff We All Get. Please tell me I'm not the only one that has never heard this term.

I mean I've heard of swagger. Kesha's got it, and I think I have it. The Minivan Swagger anyway. But swag? I must live under a rock.

Guess. What. This. Is. You won't believe it. Of course it's Lady Liberty, but can you believe that she is made entirely out of Twizzlers?!!!!

Get. Out.

Seriously, who has this kind of time?

Somebody needs a more productive, useful hobby because they even made the Space Needle.

It looks kind of creepy up close, doesn't it?

Try not to think about it. Just try to appreciate the art for what it is.

A waste of some dang good Twizzlers if you ask me, but nobody cares about my opinion here.

I never got to see the Pioneer Woman because she left before I even got there. That was messed up. I did, however, get to attend a session by these two fabulous bloggers. That's the Nap Warden on the left and Scary Mommy on the right.

I learned about a lot of things that I didn't even know I didn't know. Does that make any sense? It's like my ignorance is so . . . ignorant. That's the only way I can think to describe it.

One of the many things I learned is that my sidebar was a train wreck. Did you notice that I cleaned it up? It was too distracting and cluttered. Not at all the image I wanted to project.

Also, I have been loading my pictures way too large. I always edit my photos and save them in Photo Shop at the maximum resolution, when all this time I should have been selecting medium, or 72 dpi. Apparently the pictures don't look any better on the web at the higher resolution, but they make my page load slower than a snail excreting concrete.

That's S-L-O-W. So I apologize for wasting your precious time with my lethargic page loads. From here on out my pictures will always be 72 dpi, and hopefully my pages will start loading faster as I make the transition.

I am not going back and reloading all of my pictures though. Life is too short for that mess.

And guess who this is?

Bob Harper from The Biggest Loser.

My favorite show on the planet.

The show that I plan my life around.

And no, before you ask because I know you will, he was not at the conference as a blogger.

Quaker, another sponsor, brought him in to do a group workout, eat breakfast with a group of bloggers, and sign autographs and take pictures with us. 

And I'm still upset, but I didn't even know that he was going to be there. 

I didn't get the memo, it was not in the program, there were no announcements, and blah, blah, blah, I am disgruntled.

The only reason I saw him is because I just happened to walk in on the breakfast in progress.

Yep, I crashed the party and stumbled around trying to get a picture in the horrid lighting of the conference room. None of the pictures turned out, but later he was in the Quaker booth which had glorious natural light streaming in from above. I couldn't get him to look at me because he was doing an interview, and I was a chicken butt, so I settled on this one. I was too impatient to wait 20 minutes for his interview to finish so I could get a proper picture with him.

But I was close enough to see the dangly unraveling thread on his shorts. That's pretty cool, eh?

So that was BlogHer. I don't know if I'd ever do it again, but it was a good experience.

While in San Diego, we went to the beach a few times. That's always fun, except that somewhere along the way I've lost my ability to catch a wave on a Boogie Board. My Internet Friend, Anne, very snarkily asked me "Can't you just flag one down?" As if it's a taxi or something. Hardy, har, har, Anne.

The girls and I fell in love with this German Shepard my mom is fostering. Her name is Stella, but we like to call her Stellaluna and Stella Bella. She's scary smart, she loves kids (obviously), and she has a very gentle nature.

So if you are in Oceanside, CA, and you want this dog, I can hook you up. I almost kidnapped Stellaluna myself. The only thing that kept me from snatching her is the knowledge that two dogs equal way too much poop, and the extra floaties of dog hair poufs around the house would cause me to jump off a bridge.

I took Stellaluna on several runs while I was visiting, and she is an amazing running partner. She was always right next to me and never pulled on the leash, so it felt like I was running with an invisible dog. Now, I realize that I'm not exactly built for speed, so she didn't have to exert herself while running with me, but my point is really that she didn't drag me or make me drag her.

There was one point where we were running up a hill, and I was huffing and puffing with exertion. It was kind of like one of those nightmares where you are running as fast as you can to get away from the monster, but really that is only slow motion like the Bionic Man, but without the hot bod. Then I looked to my right and Stella Bella was walking in a very untaxed manner. It was difficult not to be offended, but at least she had the people skills to roll her tongue out at the end of the run and flop it around like a tired insole.

Stella likes to play with my mom's dog, Cleo, aka Naomi Campbell, on account of her popping eyes and fabulous bone structure. Cleopatra, however, is a bit of a box of rocks. She and Stellaluna play tug-o-war, and Cleo gets all agitated and growly. Stella Bella keeps her cool and just waits for the mistake.

The mistake comes when Cleo fumbles with her end of the rope, and Stella doesn't miss a beat when she casually drops a paw on Cleo's rope end and then "Game Over, Sister Girl."

Cleo then becomes discombobulated and wants to know "Where did it all go wrong?!"

It's a comedy, I tell you.

This is my little brother, Pickle.

He never cooperates for pictures, so I write mean things about him to exact my revenge.

This is Uncle Billy Flop giving Zoe a ride on a Boogie Board. I just this very minute bestowed that name upon him. His name is Billy and he does belly flops in the pool so it shall be known.

I know he's going to love it.

I didn't include any belly flop pictures because there was some crackage showing, and this is a family blog.

And crack is illegal.

Uncle Billy Flop is a big kid and the girls looooooooove him.

That was our trip to San Diego in a nutshell.

This picture has nothing to do with our trip, but I need to tell you about it anyway. We went to Yellowstone with Zoe's Girl Scout troop last weekend, and this bison statue was on the lawn outside the Visitor's Center. Peanut Head walked Gunny over to it and our little Bunnery Sergeant went berserk. He started stalking the statue and growling real low in his throat. He dang near wet himself, he was so intimidated by this obvious statue. Doy.

That Gunny Bunny, he has the brain cells to maintain life support and we're not sure what else.

His pretty face, I guess.