Sunday, August 31, 2014

My classroom!

So last year I felt terribly unorganized and hated the way my class was running.  I knew I needed to organize my class differently.  I just struggled with kids being in my personal space, me not moving around my class very well, and the lack of a central place for students to go. 

I started this year focusing on really making my classroom work for me.  I'm still struggling with the table groups and kids focusing back on me, but my students have been LOVING my class and I know they are learning because the conversations I'm struggling to bring back in are on topic!!!  It's hard to cut them off when they are being rock stars. 

Here is the large view of my classroom.  I do not have a science classroom because we simply have more science teachers then we have classrooms for.  We do have giant laboratories that we all check out on lab days so it makes my life easier (plus the bathrooms are right next to my room).  The students are in table collaborative groups of four which works well for a flipped classroom.  Each table group has a number and eventually I will have the groups organized by test scores from their pre-tests.  Yes I have taped out rectangles on the floor (stayed from last year).  This is to make space for me to actually get through my classroom.  36 desks is tight in there.

I moved my turn "IN" box to the front after dealing with numerous kids grabbing other kids' papers to copy.  Also I have made my learning objectives, activities and homework very clear and student friendly.  I moved the table that used to be a place for me to lean on and teach from instead of moving around to the back of the room and placed the podium and have my little roller cart to move small lab items to and from my room. 

I added a behavior corner as well as a late policy.  I used this in previous years and loved it!  Basically they fill out a reflection sheet and then I email it home, there are more steps and it works great.  My late policy is adapted from my years at a rough school with tons of great ideas, implemented far too late. I forgot the photo but basically they fill out a paper as to why they are late and then I email it to their parents too! 

My students feel VERY comfortable in my classroom asking questions but many times this gets us off topic.  So just like we store all our things in the virtual cloud, I created this for students to put their thoughts when they don't necessarily fit in our classroom objective.

Student Central is my way of keeping students out of my space.  I used to have student supplies all over the classroom (organized of course) but then kids would congregate around me and it drove me insane.  Now they have their space and I have mine.  It's been fantastic!!!

I am working to incorporate even more technology into my classroom and just recently installed a Mimio (2000000x better then a smart board) and have been using that as well as the online support classroom; Schoology. 

I'll keep you posted, but so far it's been great! 

Friday, August 29, 2014

Friday Favorite 8/29/14

Camilla and I are back for another fantastic week of Friday Favorites.  Thank you to everyone who has been continuously supportive, sharing, linking and being such a beautiful group of positive bloggers.  I love that we are networking and that I am getting to read SO many varieties of blogs.   

Our awesome co-host Dina from Blueberries and Bokeh is back for her last week.  She has been amazing and so flexible with the both of us as Camilla and I have been transitioning into new jobs, new blog platforms and balancing life as usual. So this week she IS OUR FRIDAY FAVORITE!  Her blog is beautiful, her posts eloquent and she is just wonderful in and of herself.  We are so honored that she wanted to work with us. Thank you SO much Dina!

Please continue to spread the word about this blog hop and make sure to visit a few of the folks who link up this week.  We have been making a conscious effort to visit each of the posts you all link so thank you!  You all are some amazing loyal contributors and you all have NO clue how much we enjoy linking up with you.  We are looking for co-hosts for the upcoming months, so if you are interested, let myself or Camilla know!

Grab our button to the right folks!  We are getting famous over here :)


Thursday, August 28, 2014

Guest Post: How to Address Hard Topics With Your Kids

Heaven knows that my family has dealt with their fair share of hard topics and my children have attended more funerals and dealt with more serious illness then most at this point in their short lives. As parents it is difficult for us to really talk to our kids sometimes through grief and morning and tough life situations, so when I was contacted to share this guest post with you by Victoria Candlan, I was more then willing.  Please read on and educate yourself on how to really address those tough topics with your children. 

Talking to your kids about hard topics can be awkward and even scary at times. How do you address your divorce, or your sister’s serious illness, or your recent bankruptcy in a way that they will understand? How do you deal with their emotions and questions afterward?
 Here are some tips for approaching those tough subjects in an appropriate manner for each age group.
 Serious Illness

 Little Kids (3-8): Don’t leave your young child in the dark with the intent of trying to protect him. He will feel the sadness weighing on the home and notice the loved one in bed or going to doctor’s appointments. By telling him what’s going on you allow him to work through his own feelings, feel able to help in his own way, feel included rather than isolated, and feel safe asking questions. Share pertinent information like the name of the illness, whether it’s contagious, and changes that may be made to the child’s environment, but avoid going into too much detail.
 Tweens (9-12): Tweens tend to be the most sensitive out of all the stages of youth. Prepare your tween in advance for hospital visits. Tell him what he will see, what will happen there, and what type of mood the loved one might be in (sleepy, confused, irritable). Teens (13-18): Your teen is able to understand difficult topics more and needs direct information. Tell him how the diagnosis and treatment of the illness will affect his own life. Will there be new financial burdens put upon the family? Will he have to forgo certain activities because of a lack of funds or transportation? Will he have more responsibilities around the house? Initiate this discussion in a clear way to help him relieve stress.
Little Kids (3-8): Your child is aware of death earlier than you realize. By talking to her about it, you may discover what she knows and what some of her misconceptions, fears, and worries are. She might expect you to be all-knowing, even about death. Tell her that you don’t have all the answers, but provide her with the needed information with understanding and comfort. Encourage her to talk about the death so she can sort through her feelings. If you believe in an afterlife, express to her your beliefs about where the deceased person is now.
 Tweens and Teens (9-18): The period from 9 to 13 is when kids begin to have a firmer grasp on death and its finality. If it’s an unexpected death or a death of a close loved one, your teen or tween might go through the stages of grief including denial, anger, sadness, and acceptance. Let him know he is allowed to cry as much and as often as he needs. Don’t tell him how to feel, rather simply say, “I am here for you.” Talk to both your tween and teen as if they are adults and be truthful about the facts.

Little Kids (3-8): You can provide your child with a simple reason as to why you and your spouse are getting a divorce such as “Mom and Dad don’t get along anymore.” Make sure to show restraint of emotions and respect for your spouse at this time. Address the changes in living situation immediately so she is prepared. She may be confused as to what divorce entails, so be patient for a few weeks.
 Tweens (9-12): It is essential to tell your tween “I love you” when breaking the news of the divorce. Be understanding of her sensitive emotions and reassure her that the divorce is not her fault. To promote her feelings of security while talking about the logistics of the divorce, say “live with” rather than “stay with”. This way she will feel that she is still living with both of her parents, just at separate times.
 Teens (13-18): You need to tell your teen the truth, yet leave out all of the bitter details. She needs the truth at this time more than any other stage. Chances are, she is already aware that your marriage is crumbling. Your teen may be angry and hurt, so acknowledge her feelings and let her express them openly.
 Bankruptcy Little Kids (3-8): Overhearing conversations or getting second hand information from others is worse for your child than telling him directly. However, hold the anxious conversations about your bankruptcy until after the kids are asleep or when you are away from home. Show him that saving money can be fun—have him participate in coupon cutting and free fun activities like hiking or playing at the park. Children at this stage adapt well to new circumstances, so he should adapt well to a different, more cost-friendly style of living. Tweens (9-12): Tweens will have a better idea about the family financial situation than little kids. He may start comparing his clothes, house, and cars to that of his peers and let peer pressure set in. Let him know it’s okay to feel disappointed that he doesn’t have the latest and greatest. Since the recession has affected a lot of people, talk to him about others who are struggling financially so he knows your family isn’t alone.
 Teens (13-18): Teens can be involved in some of the solutions and decision making, although he shouldn’t be included in every discussion. Invite him to help decide what places to cut back on in the budget. He may feel stressed at the possibility of not being able to do sports or fear that college is no longer an option. Help him prioritize and find a solution like making his own money or applying for a scholarship. There are great resources for talking to your kids about bankruptcy like this article.
 Talking to your kids about difficult matters is hard, but avoiding them is even harder. Using these key tactics, you will be able to talk to your children about sensitive issues with compassion and understanding.


Disclosure:  This is a guest post, not written by me.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Eclipse Sunshades #Review

A couple years ago I was driving with a friend and we parked and she pulled this amazing accordion windshield sun shade from the side of her window and I was in love without knowing a darn thing about it.  My friend and I do not get to hang out as often as I would like and typically I have to drive to meet them because my little ones and their car seats make it difficult to ride with anyone, so although it was love at first sight, my mommy brain forgot all about the sun shade.  Fast forward to the present and a wonderful summer of playdates with the friend where I remembered the beautiful wonderful car sun shade, and I just HAD TO HAVE ONE!

Eclipse Sunshade
Side note: my car is actually clean, I have NO clue what is reflecting in the paint :/
Do you see how beautiful this shade is?  This is the Eclipse Sunshade and is literally one of the best inventions ever.  It is by far one of my favorite items I have ever reviewed and I could not be any more excited to share everything I know about it with you!

First of all the windshield sun shades are custom fit to your vehicle within 1 inch depending on a few things:
1. Make and model of vehicle
2. Do you have a windshield rain sensor?
3. Do you rock the carpeted dashboard?
Ordering is simple and the customer service is fast, friendly and thorough.  I let them know that I needed to replace my windshield as well and they even sent me extra mounting brackets.  I mean I did not even ask, they just were awesome and sent those!  Oh and there is also a 1 year warranty should anything arise and the fantastic company is great about replacing parts as needed even past the warranty!

Installation was literally a snap and was easily done with one hand while I fumbled with my phone camera and made a general fool of myself.  You do not need ANY tools and it was so insanely easy to follow the directions and install this amazing car sun shade.

The sun shade itself is durable, made of quality materials and even after a few rough episodes with Eyan thinking they would be really cool light-sabers while I pumped gas, the sun shades work and spring back as if I have not been using them 10x a day and showing them off to everyone I see!  I may have even stopped a couple at King Soopers the other day that were complaining about how hot their seats were and showed them my Eclipse Sunshade.

The Eclipse Sun Shade attaches directly to your windshield using 3M adhesive mounting brackets and easily snaps on and off of those brackets.  They stay out of the way of your line of vision very well and if they do bother you, the fact that you can just take them off and put them back on within a couple seconds is great.  You hardly notice them on the vehicle until they are closed.  I love that I do not have to store those huge, ugly and sometimes slightly dangerous sunshades in my vehicle.  These are compact, they retract on their own and do a fantastic job of shading my car and keeping it cool.

They are super simple to close and open as well!  Also the sound on the video makes the sound paper-esque and loud.  They really are not either of those and when my back in not in crazy pain, opening and closing them goes much faster and easier.

I would rate this product a 10/10 for convenience, durability, usage, style, customer service and really everything.  Please check Eclipse Sunshades out on their website and Facebook.  They are a truly wonderful company and I was so happy they were willing to work with me!  Thank you!


Eclipse Sunshades provided me with a product for free for the purpose of review.  All thoughts, ideas, opinions and virtual property here are my own and were not influenced!

Monday, August 25, 2014

Hurt Back?

It feels like the entire summer I have been dealing with the most painful lower back/hip pain I have ever had.  I told Jason I would rather go through labor again without the epidurals with hard back labor again, then ever have my back feel this way again.  I still stand by that statement.

This weekend again my back became inflamed and of course nothing I needed to get accomplished got done.  I have literally tried everything and worked with our network of doctors to hopefully get a handle on this.  It is so difficult to chase around 2 kids and keep up on the house and actually get work done in relation to both this blog and my real job as a teacher.  It is painful to sit, it is painful to stand, and some laying positions are also painful.  I am not getting very good sleep because my back is always in pain.  It has been a rough go here.

This week I am hoping to get in with my primary care physician and ask for an MRI because with all of this pain and every thing that I have tried and the fact that I just feel generally awful, it is time to see if something worse is going on.

I guess I am asking for prayers of healing and answers here.



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