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Just Treats for Halloween!

I like to get treats on Halloween, and I always consider a sale to be a good treat!  I've put my whole TpT store {here} on sale for 20% off!  

Happy Halloween everyone!

My Truth - Creepy Things

I'm linking up with Denise from Sunny Days in Second Grade for her new Monday series, My Truth.  What an awesome idea and I'm so happy I can link up with her today to discuss creepy things.

Food: Seriously, mayo grosses me out.

Scary movies:  You will never, ever, ever catch me watching a scary movie.  I have a hard time even watching The Walking Dead and have to cover my eyes during the gory parts.

Creepy thing:  I am terrified of snakes to the point that I have nightmares about them.  I can't even look at ones on TV.  You won't catch me watching Animal Planet, because they always have commercials with snakes.  Another perk of living in Hawaii is that there are no snakes here!  Well, they do have on Hawaiian snake but it just looks like a black worm.  

Can you guys believe Halloween is almost here?

Blog Makeover and a Giveaway

First, I have to say how much I LOVE my blog makeover by Megan at A Bird in Hand Designs.  She was so great to work with and did a fabulous job. I'm so happy with my new look.  I highly recommend Megan if you're looking for a new look for your blog.

Now onto the giveaway!  Creative Teaching Press was kind enough to send me some of their awesome materials that are perfect for giving kids a visual schedule.

I really love how all of the cards are magnetic and can stick on your whiteboard (if it's magnetic).  If you don't have a magnetic board, you can always use the magnetic board included in the Every Day Starter Kit.  

There are 2 different packs for teachers.  One is geared more to PreK students {here} and the other is more appropriate for K and up {here}. 

The Getting Dressed and Bathroom Routine Add-on Pack is great if you have students who need a visual aide to help remind them of what to do while in the bathroom. 

My favorite add-on pack was the Chores & Special Times pack.  The triplets get SUPER distracted during chores.  Now that these are on the fridge, I just point to the chart to keep them on track.

Creative Teaching Press is graciously giving one of you awesome blog readers an Easy Daysies Every Day Starter Kit.  You can enter below, and I'll pick a winner on Wednesday.  :) 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Hard Decisions

I've been debating on whether or not I should make this post and discuss something so personal.  Since the beginning of the school year, I've had to make some tough decisions about what was best for my family and my career.  It seems like this is a year where a lot of teachers are struggling.  The demands seem to be increasing while the support and resources are decreasing.  I read a blog post yesterday from a sweet blogger {here} that touched my heart and encouraged me to tell you guys my story.

Many of you know my husband is a Marine, and we recently moved to Hawaii.  Being a Marine wife means we move pretty frequently.  It's part of the job description, but it can be super discouraging when I think about how it impacts my career.  Since we're moving so often, I can never reach tenure (if that's even available anymore) or have seniority.  I'm constantly starting over.  Just when I've hit my groove somewhere and made friends, we up and move again.

When we moved here last December, I did everything I could to find a job and find a job quick!  We landed here on Dec. 12th and on Dec. 26th I was offered a job that I accepted.  Unfortunately, there was a lot I didn't know about the school systems here in Hawaii.  I had said I would be willing to commute, but I didn't realize you have no transfer rights until you get tenure (at that time it took 4 semesters and 1 day to get tenure).  I wish I had known I was committing to commuting for 2 full years, because that would have been a huge factor in my decision.

Nevertheless, I accepted the job and gave it my best effort.  The situation wasn't ideal.  Picture a hoarders classroom with 2 teachers, 2 paras, and a Title 1 coordinator who had an office that took up about 1/4 of the classroom.   Take this picture and imagine it for an ENTIRE classroom.

That's what I walked into, and it was awful.  The clutter made my anxiety skyrocket and that was just by walking into the door. 

By the end of the school year, my husband and I spent hours and hours talking about whether I should resign.  However, resigning in Hawaii would mean I would have to do the ENTIRE hiring process over.  I would have had to resubmit all of my transcripts, references, licenses, etc. and go through the DOE initial interview over again.  Then they would release my name back out to the principals, and I'd hope for the best.  In Hawaii, you can't just apply to a school and no job openings are listed online.  

After a lot of discussion, thought, and pro/con lists, I made the decision to go back to my school for this school year.  I spent all summer stressing about it.  I was able to move into my own classroom, and I was hoping that would make a world of difference.

Being in my own room was helpful, but there were a lot of other issues.  My case load was pretty intense with some very high needs students.  There were a couple of students who were physically aggressive, and I felt like I was getting beat up everyday.

I felt like I was getting beat up, because I was.  There was hitting, kicking, spitting, and biting like this bite up above.  It was mentally draining and exhausting.  My admin provided support and were aware of what was going on with the high needs students.  They were present and did a great job of giving me aides to help.  More bodies in the room didn't fix the problem though.  Maybe another teacher could have done better than me, but I honestly feel like the real issue was whether some of the students were in the right placement.

However, I can say it wasn't enough for me.  All of my energy, (physically, emotionally, and mentally) was being sucked out of me everyday.  On Friday evenings, I was dreading going back to work on Monday.  I wasn't able to be here for my own kids and be a good mom to them due to everything I was dealing with at work.  My marriage was suffering, too.

Since my husband is a Marine, he has a lot of expectations for his job (deployments, training, overnight duties, long hours, etc.).  With my commute and long hours, he was picking up a lot of slack with the kids.  Honestly, my job was keeping him from being the best Marine he can be.  And that's just not right.  Not that my job isn't important, but in the scheme of our family, his job is the most important.  

My husband and I had a long talk and realized that I just couldn't do it anymore.  He needs to be able to  fulfill all of his job responsibilities without my job interfering.  I need to be present and available for my own kids.  I need to take of me, too.  In the spirit of honesty, I'll say that the situation in that classroom was not allowing me to be the best teacher I can be.  I have never wanted to be THAT teacher.  The teacher who doesn't enjoy her students.  The teacher who hates going to work.  The teacher who feels like she accomplishes nothing.  But I was feeling like THAT teacher.

I ended up taking a leave of absence for the rest of the year.  Ultimately, it was just impossible to take care of my family and work in that school.  My husband could no longer take the kids to school, pick them up from school, do their homework, pick them up when they were sick, etc., etc. due to his job.  But more importantly, I couldn't emotionally or mentally do it anymore.  

During all of our decision making, I read this awesome article {here} that really made an impression on me.  One of the quotes states, 

"A teacher who thrives in one particular situation might not thrive in another. Teachers are most successful and happy when they work in the subject, school, context, and communities that best fit them."

I wasn't thriving this year and no way could my students thrive in that situation.  I wasn't sure whether I should post this or not.  But I wanted other teachers in these same shoes to know, it's ok to put yourself and your family first.  As a teacher, it's my nature to give everything I have to my students.  Being a perfectionist doesn't help either.  It was incredibly hard for me to say that this isn't working and I have to put my family first.  It was also nice to know that others had made the same decision.  You can read another teacher's story {here}. 

Looking back, I know without a shadow of a doubt that this was the right decision.  My family is back on track.  My husband doesn't want to divorce me anymore.  ;)  My kids are happy.  And even better, I just started a part-time intervention teaching position for 3rd graders!  I'm still able to teach, but it's in a way that's feasible for my family.

For those teachers that are struggling, my heart goes out to you.  I know I'm fortunate, because I was able to take a leave of absence and many other do not have that option.  I hope those of you that are struggling are able to find a support system for you.  Maybe that support system isn't going to be in your school, but I hope you have one.  Know that you are a good teacher.  Maybe this isn't the best teaching situation for you at this exact moment, but it doesn't define you.  

Updated Fall Freebie

Hi everyone!  I hope the majority are off today.  We're finishing up fall break here in Hawaii, and I've really enjoyed my time off with my family.  :)

Sometimes I look back at things I made a year ago or even longer and think, "It really could be much better!"  A lot of my earlier stuff is on my revamp to-do list.  There's always something to be said for practice and time improving the things we do.

I decided to update my Fall for Odd and Even Numbers freebie.  You can download it by clicking on the picture below. 

I'd love to hear your feedback after downloading.  

TpT 100,000 Flash Sale

Can you believe Teachers Pay Teachers' Facebook page has reached over 100,000 likes?  I'm so grateful for being part of the TpT and blogging community.  The resources, networking, and ideas I've received from TpT and bloggers have greatly influenced my teaching for the better.

TpT is throwing an impromptu sale in honor of their achievement!

Make sure you use the code FB100K to get 10% off the whole site.  I've also placed my store on sale for 20%.  That gives you a savings of 28% off!

This is a great time to stock up on some of those things on your wish list.

My Bundled Fluency Task Cards are super helpful when working with students on fluency either in small groups, RTI, or as a center.  I've also included them in color and black & white to help save you ink!

My Prefix and Suffix Anchor Charts are great for those kids that need a visual to help them remember and retain material.

My I Can Find....Short Vowels, Digraphs, and Blends are an easy to implement print and go center.  Since students use books on their independent reading level to complete this activity, it's easy to differentiate for all of your students.

Happy shopping!  I'm off to fill up my cart now.  :)

Confusing Grammar Anchor Posters (freebie)

I'll admit it....sometimes I read Facebook posts of my friends and family and just cringe.  Other teachers feel this way, too.......right?

In others' defense, some words are just dang tricky.  Honestly, I always screw up when to use affect and effect.  I wanted to give my kiddos a visual to help them with some of these tricky words such as:

to, two, too
where, wear
we're, were
it's, its
you're, your
they're, there, their

I know my kiddos can't be the only ones struggling with when to use these words, so I made these Confusing Grammar Posters a freebie!  Just click on the picture to download them.  And I would so appreciate it if you left some feedback!  Us sellers love to hear your feedback on items.

Do you have any tricks up your sleeve for helping students remember which word to use?

What's for Dinner Wednesday #3

Hi everyone!  It's time for my favorite weekly post now that I'm back from the pool.  :)  I will say our schedule got all kinds of screwed up this past week.  Things I had planned on making didn't get made and there were a few nights that we ate leftovers or frozen pizza.  So this week's post doesn't have as many meals as I like.

This first meal of BBQ Comfort Meatballs by The Pioneer Woman was so delicious!  If you've never checked out her recipes, you should.  They are super easy, and I love her pictures giving you step-by-step directions.  These meatballs make a great weekend meal or if you're home on a break (like me!), because they are a little time consuming.  

This Angel Chicken by Mix n' Match Mama was a BIG hit with the kids.  The triplets even took the leftovers in a thermos for their lunch at school.   You know it's a hit if it's worthy enough for school lunch!

If you haven't noticed, I love slow cooker meals.  Even on weekends, they're great, because we can go do family stuff and come home to a good meal.  These Slow Cooker Fajitas by Six Sisters' Stuff are perfect for any day of the week.

My daughter turned 15 yesterday.  How in the world is that even possible?  To celebrate her birthday, we had a BBQ with all of her friends and our neighbors.  My husband grilled burgers, brats, and hotdogs.  While I made my favorite mac 'n cheese ever {read about that recipe here} and baked beans.  I looked at some recipes online and came up with this, which was super yummy!  Click on the picture to download your own recipe.

We had some bananas that they kids hadn't eaten, and they were getting too ripe.  I hardly ever have bananas get that too ripe in this house.  When it does happen, I make banana bread {here}.  It's sooo yummy when it's warm right out of the oven.
Anyone try anything new this week?  Since I had to move my menu around, I should be back next week with some great new recipes to review.

Quick Check In!

I  just wanted to pop in real quick here.  My family's about to head down to Waikiki for a pool day since we're on fall break here in Hawaii.

Just a reminder that you still have time to get this awesome deal on some great 2nd grade products for only $29.99!  You can check it out {here}.

I've included my Thanksgiving Differentiated Math Centers as part of the bundle.

For those of you that are looking for new recipes, I'm halfway done with my What's for Dinner Wednesday post.  Right now, my kids are chomping at the bit to get to the pool, so I'll be back later to finish it.

Hope you guys are having a great day!

Daily 5 & CAFE ~ Thoughts for Special Education

Last week, I mentioned that I had the opportunity to see The Sisters speak about using CAFE in the classroom.  You can read about that {here}.  It was really great getting to visit with my Hawaiian blogger friends and listening to The Sisters talk about teaching reading.  It was really motivating and got me thinking about how I've taught reading in the past.

There were a couple of points that made me really think about how Daily 5 and CAFE apply to special education.

Idea #1:  Small groups should be 2-3 students. 

When I heard that I was like WHAT?!?!  2-3 students???  Since I've always taught special ed (except for a half year gig of teaching PreK), I've mostly done all small group instruction.   Although, I don't think I've ever had groups as small as 2 or 3 students.  My groups have typically ran 7-8 students at a time.

The Sisters showed us some videos of them working with a group of 4 students.  And guess what?  Even The Sisters only got to interact and teach with 3 of those 4 students.  I really got to thinking about how I've conducted my lessons, and they are right.  Four or more students in a group is really too many.  I know I could get a lot more quality instruction with a group of 2-3 students.

How many students do you typically have in your small groups?  Do you think 2-3 is feasible?

Idea #2: Students should be reading their own books during small group instead of all reading the same book.

This thought was another one that I really had to think over.  I have always done guided reading where students are all reading the same book.  I "try" to listen to each student read their book aloud, while the other students whisper read to themselves at their own pace.  Honestly, I wouldn't get to all of the students or my groups would be way too long since I had too many students in each group.

The Sisters mentioned that if all students are reading the same book the lowest readers will piggy back off the stronger readers.  So true!  I've witnessed that so many times with my students.  If students have different books on their independent reading level, none of them can piggy back off each other.  Brilliant!

Idea #3: Everyone who teaches the child should be informed of what the other teachers are doing.

The Sisters discussed how often students who are receiving services are pulled from the room and none of the teachers know what the other teacher did.  I admit I've been guilty of that as the special education teacher.  I pull students into my room, I teach them, and I send them back.  The gen ed teacher has no idea what I've done or not done.

Really, that can't be in the students best interest.  One suggestion was to have a folder or notebook for the child and each teacher jot down the date they saw the student and what skill they worked on.  If all teachers are teaching from the same thing (such as using the CAFE system), everyone can easily look at what was done by the previous teacher.

Idea #4: Students should receive interventions in the classroom.

The Sisters really emphasized that students should receive their interventions right there in the classroom.  The students who are receiving these interventions are typically the lowest performing students.  By pulling these students out, we are expecting them to remember bits of information from different teachers who are often teaching different curriculum or materials.  Is it really fair to expect our lowest performing students to retain all of this information and apply it?

I've never taught inclusion before, so I don't feel like I can make a valid judgement on how I feel about inclusion.  The Sisters made some sound arguments that made me wonder if inclusion is the best method for reaching all of our students.  I feel like this model could really work if teachers are providing a lot of small group and individual conferencing to give those lower performing students more support and guidance.

Idea #5: All of the teachers working with a student should meet weekly to discuss what's been going on and decide on the next steps.

Of course, when they said this I'm thinking, "Sure in a perfect world all of the teachers would have a time to meet weekly but no way is that happening."  Right?  I mean we're all so overwhelmed with teaching and planning and assessing and now you want us to meet weekly?

They actually had a great idea to make this possible and doable on a weekly idea.  Once a week, the teachers who work with the student (i.e. SPED, ELL, aides, etc.), meet together during a Daily 5 rotation right in the classroom.  Instead of pulling a small group during that rotation, the teachers would meet and the students would complete their Daily 5 rotation.  Wow, another brilliant idea!

I know what you're thinking, "My admin would never agree to this!"  But that kind of collaboration could make a world of difference in helping meet students' needs.  I've always struggled with finding time to meet with the gen ed teachers and really discuss the student.

So there you go!  Do you think any of these ideas could be implemented in your school with your students?  Do you have any great ideas for how to best support our special education students?

A Winner and Everything Pumpkin! Math Centers! for

My Pin It to Win It giveaway is over, and we have a winner!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thanks to all that have entered!  Erin, please check your email and think about what item of mine you would like from my TpT store.

I've been working really hard on my latest math centers.  I know a lot of classrooms can't use things that are Halloween related due to school policies or students who are not allowed to participate in those types of activities.  I created this Everything Pumpkin! Common Core Aligned Math Centers unit.

These math centers showcase pumpkins (but not jack-o-lanterns), pumpkin pie, and pumpkin patches but nothing Halloween related.  It's 119 pages and perfect for 1st or 2nd grade students.  You can easily differentiate for your higher and lower students, and it's Common Core aligned.  

I've discounted them for half off today only.  You can get them from my TpT store for $3.00 {here}.

I'm on fall break right now, so I'm off to enjoy some beaches and do some hiking! 

Time is Running Out (giveaway and a sale!)

Before I get to the important stuff (ya know the sale!), there's 2 things that running out of time quick!

First, have you check out this awesome Educents Bundle?

There's only 3 days left, and you can get some AWESOME stuff for only $29.99.  You don't want to miss out on this deal, because you'll be saving some serious money with this great price.  Click {here} to check it out.

Second, my Pin It to Win It giveaway is almost over!  You only have today to enter and then you can win any item you want from my store!  So click {here} to enter.

And I know a bunch of you are lesson planning and planning activities for the month of October.  I put all of Halloween themed items on sale for HALF off just for today!  Click on any of the pictures to check them out.  

What's for Dinner Wednesday #2

Hi everyone!  This is starting to be my favorite post of the week.  I love sharing with you guys recipes that I've made and my family enjoyed.

This week's sandwich meal were these yummy Cajun Chicken Caesar Sandwiches.  If you're worried about it being too spicy for the kiddos, you can just lightly season the chicken you use for their sandwiches. 
 You can download this recipe by clicking on the picture below.  The day I made these sandwiches I was out of Romano cheese, so I used Parmesan.  It was still just as good.

I may have mentioned before that there is no Olive Garden in Hawaii.  Serious sad face.  :(  I really miss Olive Garden.  When I stumbled across this recipe from Key Ingredient.  I knew I had to try their Pasta Fagioli {here}.  Now this makes A LOT.  You could put this in your slow cooker or just cook on your stove on low all day.  That's what I did.

My quest for replicating Olive Garden got me super motivated and I tried these delicious breadsticks {here} from Full Bellies, Happy Kids.  Making homemade bread is a little bit of a learning process, but you don't need to be scared of doing it.  It's so worth the trying!

Tuesdays are a crazy night in our house, because we have sports practice.  On those nights, I need super easy meals like these Crockpot Chicken Tacos {here} by Chocolate Therapy.  You could also use the chicken for burritos, nachos, etc.

I guess last week I was on a Cajun kick, because I also made jambalaya.  This Slow Cooker Jambalaya {here} from Mix and Match Mama was super tasty.  Her recipe does recommend adding the rice to the slow cooker and letting it cook in the jambalaya.  I will admit mine got a little mushy, because I overcooked it.  Next time I make this, I'll cook my rice separately just to be on the safe side.

I have a horrible sweet tooth and was craving something delicious this weekend.  I love peach cobbler, and this recipe {here} is easy to make with ingredients I usually have on hand.

There you go!  Did you try any good recipes this week?

October Currently

I'm finally on top of things, so I can participate in Oh' Boy 4th Grade's October Currently.

Listening: I don't actually watch Sons of Anarchy but my husband does.  Even though, I've kinda gotten sucked in this year.  Anyone else watch this show?

Loving:  Fall Break is next week.  I'm super excited to spend our days sitting on the beach and hiking with the kiddos.

Thinking:  I've really got to start exercising.  Ugh.  

Wanting: JR Ward (one of my favorite author's) just released her newest book today, Possession.  Come on Fall Break so I can sit on the beach and read!

Needing:  Oh my word, do I need a haircut!!!  I have an appointment on Friday and can't wait!!  I'm trying a new place, and I'm super nervous.  I sure hope they're good.

Trick or Treat:  I just love all the ghost poop pictures I've been seeing on Pinterest.  I really wanted to make these this year, so I set off to find a freebie tag for the bag.  I was in luck, because Mighty Delighty has a super cute one {here}.  How adorable is this??

Happy October everyone!  I can't believe it's fall and the holidays will be here soon!

Circle Maps, Colors, and a Fall Freebie!

I love using Circle Maps with my students.  It's a great way to document what we know about a certain topic or how to describe a topic.  When I taught colors to my Kindergarten students earlier this year, I focused on a new color each day.  Since my students had all received 1-2 years of special ed preK, they all knew their colors.  What they struggled with was applying this knowledge to something broader.

If you've ever taught students with disabilities, you've probably noticed that language and vocabulary can be difficult topics for them.  I could show my students a picture and they could tell me what color was on the picture.  But they struggled if I asked them to tell me things that are orange, blue, purple, etc.

So everyday, I would start our morning chit chat off with a color book, a blank circle map, and my Color Word Polka Dot Posters.

I try to give my kiddos lots of examples before I ask them to give me examples on their own.

*Please disregard my drawings and lopsided circles!  

I love my Color Word Polka Dot posters {found here and here}, because they provide real-world examples that are familiar to my students.  

Not only have we worked on identifying colors and reading color words, we've also worked on the sight word "is".  I made this little fall book about apples to help us practice, and it's a FREEBIE for you!  Just click on the picture to get your free copy!

Right now, I have Pin It to Win It giveaway going on.  Have you entered?  If not, stop by {here} before time runs out!