Currently July... and June

So I saw that the Currently July is up, and I haven't even done the June Currently! I decided to go ahead and do both of them... I have been so busy, it was hard to stay current. :-)  That pun wasn't actually intended, but it made me laugh, so it is staying!

Listening:  I love Friends.  It is one of my favorite shows.  It apparently is on here early in the morning on TBS, but I am never up to watch it.  It comes back on the west coast feed of TBS at like 10am on Sundays, so I often eat breakfast and watch Friends on Sunday mornings.  Works for me!

Loving:  I have worked SO HARD for this summer break, and I'm so thankful that it is here!  I had a whole lot of grad school homework and a research paper to finish up, so I spent the first few weeks doing that.  Now that it is finished, I am so excited to just sit around and I do what I want to do!  Crafty time, here I come!

Thinking:  I want to make something pretty.  I want to work in my yard, spray paint things, and sew.  I just have to decide what I want to do first!

Wanting:  My poor dog, Molly, has been so itchy for 3 weeks or so now.  I've tried giving her Benadryl, an oatmeal bath and a flea bath, fish oil, taking off her collar, mowing the grass, and everything else I can think of.  Nothing has helped.  She is still itchy.  So itchy, in fact, that she has a bald spot where her collar usually is, and a red spot on her belly.  I found another on the back of her leg yesterday.  I bought her some anti-itch spray to keep her from itching so much.  My poor baby!  She has an appointment at the vet on Tuesday, and I hope they can figure out what is wrong with her!

Needing:  This is probably more of a want, but I need more flowers in my life!  My yard is so awful looking. I haven't had any time to work on it lately, and it shows.  So I'm going to hit up Home Depot today and get some flowers to plant and make my yard look awesome!

Tips, Tricks, or Hints:  It is so easy to compare yourself to others.  How their blog looks, their writing style, their beautiful pictures, their awesome products.  It's so hard to just be yourself, but you need to be yourself!  I can only do what I can do, and I can't compare myself to others.  I need to let my own goofy self shine through on this blog.

Since I was way, way behind, I went ahead and did the Currently June.  I can't believe June is almost over! :-(   

Listening:  I love Spotify.  I can listen to music that I can't afford to purchase, and I can make playlists with songs I love.  I just wish I could log in at school, but it uses Facebook to log in, and that is blocked at work. :-(

Loving:  Who doesn't love summer vacation?

Thinking:  I was so stressed out at the beginning of June.  I had a permanent stomachache for like 3 weeks with all the work I had to do.  It was awful!  I am so glad all that stuff is over!

Wanting:  Go back to the permanent stomachache- I had so many things to do, and I never had enough time to get anything done.  Slowly but surely, though, I finished!

Needing:  I hadn't seen my best friend since like February, and I missed her!  She came to visit last weekend, and it was so nice seeing her.  I'm always so sad when she leaves, though.  But I am lucky I get to see her so often!

3 Vacay essentials:  What is vacation without friends?  I guess this could say friends and family for those of you who are married and/or have kids.  Flip flops are also an essential!  It gets HOT here in Kentucky!  And I need some sleep!  That is my favorite thing about summer vacation- I can sleep in as much as I want!

I hope that you are having a wonderful summer vacation!  Please don't forget to follow me on Bloglovin!  

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Talk Derby To Me!

For those of you who don't live in Louisville or the surrounding areas, you don't understand what a huge deal the Kentucky Derby is.  I lived in Northern Kentucky (basically south of Cincinnati for those of you not in the know) from the time I was 9 until I went to college, and it meant absolutely nothing to me or anybody I knew.  When I moved to Louisville, I didn't get it.  Why do the kids have Oaks Day off?  Why does everybody behave as if Derby is some massively huge undertaking, with events happening pretty much daily for the 2 weeks before the actual race?  A race that is only 2 minutes long?

Basically, Derby is a pretty big, important holiday around here.  The people around here make a HUGE DEAL about Derby.  I get it now, and I take the time to make it a HUGE DEAL in my classroom.  So for the 4 school days before the Kentucky Derby (and Oaks Day, which is the Friday before), we celebrate the Derby with all kinds of fun activities.  This year, though, I went all out, more than I have in the last 4 years.

I used the activities from my Kentucky Derby unit, "Talk Derby to Me!"  The kids and I had an absolute ton of fun, and I can't wait to do it all again next year!

I am going to apologize ahead of time:  this post is very image heavy!  Beware!

I even dressed up my sock monkey, Max, for the occasion.  He is wearing a jockey hat.  Next year, maybe I'll make him a silk!

I hung up 10 horses of different sizes all around the room.  We used them in math to measure.  Guess what non-standard unit of measurement we used to measure our horses?  Our hands!  Does anybody know why we used our hands?  We talked about how each kid would get a different answer because our hands are all different sizes.

The kids loved this activity!  They all wanted to do it!

Here are a few of them playing "The Great Balloon Race".  Two of the Derby Festival events are the Balloon Glow and the Balloon Race. 

Two students are playing "Post Time", also from my Derby packet. 

And these students are playing Run for the Roses.

Here, the students are wearing their Derby hats and working on naming their Derby horses!

We also followed the recipe to make a "Fancy Derby Drink"- aka, my version of a kid-friendly mint julep.  It was SO GOOD.  Only one little girl didn't like it- the rest wanted more!  I actually had to make more.  Then I came home and made some for myself.  Seriously, it is that good.

I served the "Fancy Derby Drinks" in silver cups, so they would be more like the silver Derby cups that mint juleps are sometimes served in.  I couldn't afford the real cups! :-)  Even plastic versions!

Each student also got to make a Derby hat.  I let the kids have more control over their hats this year, with some boundaries of course, but they all turned out really cute!

All this hat making is a huge process!  The hats sitting on the table belong to 4 students who didn't quite finish on Wednesday, so we finished them as soon as we came in Thursday and wore them all day.  My poor table was unrecognizable!  It was covered in plastic horses, buttons, feathers, stickers, and fake flowers.  I asked parents for donations, and I had a few parents send in some red roses (which I specifically requested) and some horse stickers and stuff.  Thanks to all my awesome parents! 

The (almost) very last activity of the week was our Derby parade!  The kids were all asked to create a Derby float for our parade.  Each year, there is a parade as a part of the Derby Festival.  Every single kid in my class did their float, and they were all AWESOME.  Seriously, some of these kids and parents went all out!  I was the only class where every single kid turned in a float.  Then we invited the parents to come and watch as we paraded them around the school.  The other teachers also let their kids come out in the hallway and watch our kids parade around with their floats.

My book nook was completely taken over by floats the week of Derby!  They were everywhere!

Here we are, parading around the school!  We had UofL Cardinal floats, wrestling floats... 
 stuffed animal floats...
Derby floats, Thunder over Louisville floats, horse floats...  
"Run for the Roses" floats... 
and even floats with balloons!

The kids loved parading around the school with their floats!  It was so much fun!
Here are a few more of our floats.  We had one student who passed out candy, a student who used the balloon from his mother's 1st grade Derby float, and 2 who had awesome Thunder Over Louisville floats complete with fake fireworks!

Check this one out!  For the record, this was meant to be a Family project, not just a student project, so of course some of these look like the kids didn't do them on their own, and that is ok!

And for the record, my school is a Title 1 school with a high free/reduced lunch percentage and low parent involvement.  However, this just proves that, if you ask them to, the parents can and will step up and do whatever their kids need!  The Principal, the Reading Coach, and I discussed this, and I told them that all of my students did their projects.  They were impressed.  I am so thankful I had such a great class!

Of course, I had to get a picture of each of them in their beautiful Derby hats!  I gave them their photo on the last day of school, because I forgot to use them for Mothers Day!

A class photo!   

Of course, it isn't Derby without placing a "bet" on your favorite Derby horse!  I actually had a student who won this year for the first time, so I brought her a special prize for choosing the winning Derby horse!  Go Orb!

Overall, this was a GREAT week!  We had an absolute blast!  Thanks for joining us for our Derby fun!

Five for Friday... kind of

So I have missed like the last 4 Five for Fridays.  Oops.  I even missed the June "Currently" if that tells you ANYTHING about how CRAZY this month has been.  School ended on June 5th for the kids, and June 6th for me.  Then we had a few days of PD the week after school let out.  I even gave a PD to a few teachers at my school at the end of May.  We had to get report cards out, awards written for each student, and classrooms cleaned up.  I am just going to go ahead and put this out there, I am going to HATE myself in August.  Usually I sort through paperwork and put files away at the end of the year so everything is nice and neat.  Yeah... I didn't do that this year.  Sorry, August Erica.

I swear, I had a good excuse!  Ha!  Well, I did, kind of.  I was busy finishing up my LAST TWO MASTERS CLASSES EVER. Yes, I had to write that in all caps.
I have been:
- finishing up my practicum binder
- finishing up a SPA assessment, which is all about being a leader.  I am getting a Masters in Reading, so I had to do a Reading Practicum in my own classroom this year.  Getting that all together was a lot of work!  - -research for Graduate Research project
-writing up 27 pages of findings
-writing another short paper needed to graduate
-renewing my teaching certification
-hanging out with my best friend when she was in town
-cleaning my house house
- and a million other things that kept me from doing anything that I wanted to do.

Long story short... as soon as I receive confirmation that my two papers were accepted, I will be finished with my Masters Degree!  My actual degree won't post until August, but I'll be finished!

So now that I have filled you in on all of that, I'm going to move on to Five for Friday.  Which is going to be more like Ten for Friday.  I'm going to quickly catch you up on my life before July starts!  I'll try to keep it short and sweet!

1.  Turned in the hard copy of my Graduate Research project.  27 pages.  And I did it in 6 weeks instead of 6 months!  I am anxious to get my results!

2.  I went with a friend to the SoFo Hop here in Louisville. One of the stores had this fun free project outside.  This is my version of the string Kentucky!  It was so much fun!

3.  While I was at the free project/SoFo Hop, the ladies doing the project invited me to a Louisville blogger event that was happening the next week. So I went, even though I didn't really know anybody.  I met some really nice new people, ate some tasty food, and hung out in a really cool local store called The Hanger  owned by a sweet seamstress named Amanda.  I'm really glad I went!

4. I also went to the Kentucky Highland Renaissance Faire a few weekends ago.  Steampunk weekend is my favorite weekend to go.  I love making a costume to wear for this event!  It's always fun to see the fun stuff people come up with!

5.  My best friend Shanon was in town last weekend from Virginia.  She stayed at my house, and while she was here, we did a lot of fun things.  One of them was to go paint!  We went to a place called Uptown Art where a teacher directs you to create your own version of a painting.  My friends Shanon and Laura went with me.  It was a ton of fun!  It helped that there were free wine samples!
 Here are our completed paintings!

6.  While she was here, we went to the drive in theater to see Monsters University with our friend Andrew. It was Dog Days, so my dog Molly got to come with us.  We had a ton of fun.  I love Monsters Inc., so I was super excited to see Monsters U!  When I saw these fun dog toys at Walgreens, I decided Molly needed to have them. :-)

7.   Thursday night was Alumni Night at the Louisville Bats game.  I went with a friend, and I saw a few people at the game that I hadn't seen in awhile!  Plus, the Bats won, and we got free ice cream and a t-shirt, so I was pretty happy I went!

8.  On Wednesday, I went rock climbing with some friends for the first time.  Not on real rocks, but at an indoor gym.  It was a lot of fun, but I was so sore the day afterwards!  Actually, I am STILL a little sore. I'm sure carrying around a baby all day and mowing the grass did nothing to help me!  (Sorry, no pictures of this! ) 

9. My sisters and I went to Kings Island with my dad for Fathers Day.  My mom had to work, so she didn't get to go.  We didn't stay very long, though.  It was supposed to storm (it didn't), and the place was totally packed, so we left.  Not like we haven't been there before.  I grew up about 20 minutes from there, so we used to go all the time.  

10.  Molly and I have been babysitting this little cutie!  This is my friend's little girl.  She is 2 months old now, and she is adorable!  I've been babysitting her when her parents are at work.  :-)  
 I'm sorry, I mean Molly and I have...

The baby was asleep in her crib, and Molly was laying by her crib, waiting for her.  Then she sat up and waited for her.  I also have a picture of Molly and the baby in my lap.  Molly lays with her and tries to give her kisses.  It is adorable.  Glad to know she likes babies! :-)

So that is a quick catch up of what has been going on in my life the past month or so!  Hope it was quick and painless!  I hope you all have a wonderful weekend!

Also, I would love it if you would follow me on Blog Lovin!  Sorry, I don't have a cute little picture for you to click on.  But I hope you will take the time to follow me anyway.

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*Cries a few tears for Google Reader*

Who's afraid of the Big Bad Wolf?

First of all, I would like to apologize for being MIA for the past month or so.  I posted one post about my Graduate Research project, but otherwise... nada.  I have been SO BUSY with that project (and the paper, which took me several days to write!) and my Practicum binder and project, plus the end of the school year, that I have barely had time to do anything else.  Seriously.  I think my grass is up to my knees right now.  (I'm sure that has something to do with the rain we've been getting, and I'm just going to blame it on that!)

So anyway, now that I am on my summer break, I'd like to fill you in on some of the fun activities we did in my classroom in the last month and a half.  I have a post about some writing we did, our Derby activities, and some other end-of-year fun stuff.  If I really have some time, I might fill you in on some stuff we did throughout the year that I never got to write about.  Whew!  Plus, I have some other great stuff planned to do this summer!

The first thing I want to tell you about is a fun, week long reading activity we did with our shared reading.

If your school uses the Rigby Literacy Program (and Literacy By Design, I believe), then you might be familiar with this book:

In this story, the Wolf tells side of the story and tries to prove his innocence.  However, his "witnesses" are such shady characters as the Evil Queen from Snow White, Pinocchio, and the Troll who keeps the Billy Goats from crossing the bridge.  So last year, I thought it would be fun to read this story and have the kids decide if the wolf was guilty or not.  Of course, there was a slight problem with this:  the students were unfamiliar with some of the stories!  You'd think they would know Snow White or Pinocchio, but they didn't!  They really had a hard time thinking about those characters and making a decision on whether or not the wolf was guilty or innocent.  So this year, I came up with a plan to get the students to think about the other characters and decide if the wolf was as innocent as he said he was.

Enter:  The Evidence Files.

In order to get the students to really think about these unsavory characters, I created a packet that each student could use to write down their observations about each character and make judgments about that character based on their actions.  We wrote down 3 actions of each character, determined some character traits for each character, and decided on which character trait we thought best described each character.  At the end of the week, we decided if the wolf was guilty or innocent, and wrote our opinion and reasons why before voting as a class.

The kids LOVED IT.

I put up some signs around the room to build up some anticipation.  They were very intrigued to find out why all these things were hanging around the room.  But I wouldn't tell them until it was time for reading!

They were so excited when I explained that we were going to help solve a horrible crime.  I handed each of them their packets and we began by reading The Wolf's Story.  Then we read original Three Little Pigs story and collected evidence about the pigs.  The kids were surprised to read about some of the "bad" things the pigs did.  Then, each day, we read a different book about each character in the book, and collected our "evidence".  We also chose character traits for the character and listed them on a chart.  The kids also added some new words to our chart, but they had to be able to tell why the character demonstrated that character trait.  We started out with a few words I wrote down to get started, and doubled the words on the chart by the end of the unit!  So cool!

 Here they are, collecting their evidence.   (I had a few Kinder friends in here this day, so they didn't have a packet.  They just followed along.)  I love how each of my first graders was engaged in their work!  

Here is an example of a few of the sheets from the book.  There were 2 pages for each character.  They could write down 3 things about each character on the first page, and then list some descriptions for that character and choose 1 major character trait for that character on the second page.  I wanted them to really think about the characters before deciding on their verdict.

On the last day, we took one last look at our "evidence", which I hung on my word wall board.  

And then the students decided if the wolf was guilty or innocent. 

After we wrote our verdict, we voted.

So... was the wolf guilty?


This was SUCH a fun activity.  The kids had a great time, and so did I.  I can't wait to do it again next year.  I have some great ideas to make it even more fun. :-)

Does anybody else teach Rigby or Literacy by Design and absolutely love this book?  I think it is such a fun way to get kids to think about characters, and I really love fractured fairy tales anyway, so it's perfect for me!  

What is your favorite thing to teach during shared reading?  This is probably up there as one of my favorite shared reading books, and I had so much fun.  Anything that gets my kids engaged is fun to me! :-)

Hope you all are having a great summer!