Currently... October!

Fall is in the air, October has arrived, and that means it's time for this month's Currently!

Listening: I've been feeling a bit nostalgic these past few days. Maybe it's the change of seasons, or that I'm still trying to settle into a routine with my students, but I've really been enjoying some old Friends episodes.

Loving: I'm loving the cool weather, and yesterday it actually rained. It was a brief shower, but the students had their first indoor recess of the school year. It was cloudy all day and I went home right after school, put on some comfy clothes, poured a glass of wine, and turned to some old Friends (see above).

Thinking: Normally I don't dress up for Halloween (I know, I know, EVERYONE dresses up for Halloween except me). But this year I think I'll go all out. There are a few costume shops nearby, so I'm going to check them out to get some ideas.

Wanting: I want to plan a weekend getaway. I have a week off this month, so I'm trying to choose a destination... Somewhere outside California... Somewhere I've never been... Maybe Denver?

Needing: I had to think about this one for a while. I think the only thing I'm missing right now is some time with friends. I have friends scattered around the world after living abroad for so long, so it's hard to see them regularly... much less get everyone together at the same time.

Boo-tiful: I love travel. I mean, I wish I could just quit my job and travel the world. I can always find the beauty in other places, and there's so much of it to see in the world. If you could go anywhere, where would it be?

Dolores Park, San Francisco
(As much as I like to get away, I know how lucky I am to call this beautiful place my home.)

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Five for Friday! {September 25, 2015}

I'm happy that I'm finally getting back into the school routine again! I'm waking up a few minutes later and leaving school a few minutes earlier than I was at the beginning of the year.

I'm really happy with my new bulletin board. I laminated the speech bubbles so I could leave it up for the entire year and update them according to the most recent reading and writing lessons!

We've been learning all about how to express ourselves by referring to these posters (available HERE in my TpT store). I've made them 2 per page so they take up less space, and I love adding these to students' notebooks so they can refer to them during reading or writing time. They make conversation about characters much more interesting! Plus, I always get so thrilled when parents come to me with stories about how their children are using words like "elated" or "distraught" at home. ;)

This week I saw the need for a little discussion about how to choose books from the school library. It can be quite overwhelming for these young kiddos to select a few books from thousands! I made my own selections and then talked with students about what I look for in a good book. (Of course I had to make a little mini anchor chart. ;))

I started the week with my favorite treat: Chocolate Chip Cookies. The original, homemade version from Toll House is the best I've found. And I've tried a LOT of cookies. ;) Dunk these babies in your morning coffee, and the day is off to a sweet start!
Favorite Chocolate Chip Cookies

I stumbled upon a book that is just perfect for bringing science into our morning meeting discussions. It answers scientific questions in a very kid-friendly, straightforward way and includes fun illustrations too!


What about you? Do you have any fun morning meeting routines?

The Homework Myth

As a teacher of many different age levels through the years, I've always struggled with homework. Not just giving it, but also grading it, keeping track of it, differentiating, and assigning relevant work to do after school hours. After reading Alfie Kohn's book The Homework Myth, I felt vindicated, relieved, and more than a little frustrated with the homework situation in most schools (and certainly in my own).

I've struggled for years with the homework dilemma. Most parents think it's a necessary "tool" to ensure their child is keeping up with a certain workload, or even helping that child get ahead. From kindergarten through grade 5, I have heard many arguments for homework, but not one of them has changed my mind into believing it's healthy and important for our children to do school work outside of the classroom at such a young age. I don't blame parents for not being familiar with the research, but it's a delicate subject that deserves attention and more than just anecdotal justification.

Since we all know the arguments for homework, I will list three arguments against it. (These are relevant for elementary-age students.) You can read more about the following arguments in Alfie Kohn's book.

1. Homework provides "practice" that is either too easy or too difficult. If it's easy enough for students to breeze through, why do they need to practice that skill? They already know it. If it's too difficult, why are they being asked to do it outside the classroom, where they are more likely to struggle on their own or to begin practicing incorrectly? Not to mention the feeling of dread that ensues from the school work being too difficult.

2. Homework doesn't foster independence or responsibility. It fosters obedience, maybe, but not responsibility. Responsibility means students have a choice... in what they're doing, when, and how. Let's face it, most homework assignments don't offer any of these options. Not to mention, if homework truly helped students develop independence, we would see fewer incomplete, forgotten, misplaced, or mangled homework as the year progressed... right?

3. Students spend the entire day at school, for the most part doing as they're told and following the instructions of someone else. When they leave the building, they should be doing the things they choose. After all, why am I so presumptuous as a teacher to tell anyone what they should be doing outside of school with their family and friends? We all need down time.

Having said these things, I do acknowledge that some practice outside of school can be beneficial... and even necessary. For example, reading outside the classroom has a positive impact on fluency, accuracy, expression, and comprehension. Although I encourage a love of reading throughout the school day, I also provide books for students to take home and read. Reading is similar to playing the piano or practicing a sport--the more often you do it, the better you get.

I know homework is a very controversial topic, and we're constantly striving to meet the needs of all of our students. I'm only suggesting that we take a close look at our practices and have discussions about the types of homework we assign (if we must). I would love to hear your thoughts!

Five for Friday!

It has been a very busy few weeks! With how tired I am, it feels like we've been back in school for months already. But the kiddos are still learning many of the routines... and we're practicing A LOT.

But here we are, brainstorming our writing ideas and beginning to draft our first personal narrative after recently launching the writing workshop. Each student uses his own personal mini-dictionary, which I LOVE! It's similar to an individual word wall, but in dictionary form. If a student isn't sure how to spell something, he underlines the word and keeps writing. Then at the end of the class I add those words to their dictionaries.  


I'm always looking for an quick, healthy breakfast that will keep me going until lunch time. I love overnight oats for their ease and versatility... There are tons of delicious combinations and toppings you can use! I keep it simple with a little bit of brown sugar and fresh fruit.

Overnight Oats from Our Best Bites

Students have been learning how to ask questions while they read, then discuss their ideas with reading buddies. This year I'm using the lined Post-Its because last year my students' handwriting on Post-Its was horrendous. So far they're working out much better!

Those of you who take public transportation can relate to the utter annoyance I'm feeling these days. There has been some sort of drama every day this week, from a homeless man yelling at all the passengers, to my train breaking down on the first rainy day since who knows when... you get the picture. Anyway, I'm thinking VERY seriously about getting one of these!

We had a great Back to School Night tonight! All of the info can be overwhelming, especially when you teach multiple classes, but everyone seemed to enjoy getting to know the teachers and other parents.
I am SO ready for the weekend! I have a few fun plans that I'm going to post about very soon. What are your plans for the weekend? Happy Friday!

Five for Friday: Back to School Edition!

Another school year has begun! And somehow I managed to link up with Doodle Bugs Teaching for the weekly linky... It has been a great week!

Preparing four classrooms is extremely time consuming. Luckily, I was able to use my Back to School resource that I created two summers ago so that I could focus on the other million little details of getting ready for my students. One favorite activity from the pack is the talking monsters. Some of the dialogue that students created was pretty hilarious!

Click on the product pic for more details!

There's something so therapeutic about visiting the book store before the school year begins. I found several great ones to add to my collection, and I used these two for the first day. I LOVE Scaredy Squirrel, and the students BEG me to read the other books throughout the year. A few years ago my 4th graders took it upon themselves to begin an adventure journal with Scaredy as the main character, and they took turns adding stories to it throughout the year. It was adorable. They even threw him a birthday party at some point! You just never know how much a single book might change a kid's life.

I seriously don't know what I would do without my part-time teaching assistant, especially at the beginning of the school year. She spent countless hours helping me label and organize my four classrooms. I would be sleeping at school without her. There just aren't enough hours in the day!

I know I'm the last woman in the world to discover Gossip Girl, but I did about 6 months ago. It's so addictive... Not to mention a great distraction from work stress. ;)

This week I discovered a morning treat that allows me to hold onto the summer for just a little. Bit. Longer. Check out these strawberry lemonade smoothies! They are SO delicious (and easy to make).

I'm curious, what are your guilty Netflix pleasures? (I'm looking for suggestions. ;))
Happy weekend!

Why Le Tote is Better Than Stitch Fix

Last year I discovered Stitch Fix (along with thousands of other teachers!) and in the beginning I thought it could be a great way to try some new styles I wouldn't normally attempt. I subscribed to the service and received five "fixes" over the course of many months before calling it quits. Overall, it's a great idea. But the frustrations seem to far outweigh the benefits. No matter how many times I told my Stitch Fix stylist the kinds of clothes I wanted to receive, it never really happened.

I tried creating a Pinterest board to show her what I liked, but nothing resembling that style would appear in my next shipment.

I would specifically tell her what not to send ("No neon patterns, please!"), but somehow that's exactly what I would receive the next time.

Eventually, I gave up and cancelled my subscription. That's when I stumbled upon Le Tote. It makes so much more sense to create an online closet with clothes they will actually send you! As in, you choose what you want to receive! Then you get to keep the clothes--and WEAR them!--for as long as you'd like before sending back whatever you don't want to purchase. Which means you could wear something new almost every day if you wanted to! How great is that?

Here's a handy dandy comparison sheet:

What do you think? Have you had success with Stitch Fix? Have you tried Le Tote?
If you're interested, please feel free to use this code on the Le Tote website to get started! :)

Quick & Easy Summer Cocktails

Happy weekend, everyone! It has been one HOT summer, and I've been trying everything imaginable to stay cool. Spending time with friends has certainly helped get my mind off the heat. And this summer more than any other, I've discovered a plethora of delicious cocktails. Many of them are very easy to make, and are so refreshing on a hot day. Here are a few that will help you forget about the weather... at least temporarily.

{Click on any of the photos below to be taken to the drink recipes}

Mango Margaritas
Mango Margaritas from foodiecrush

Raspberry Lemoncello Prosecco
Raspberry Lemoncello Prosecco from Damn Delicious

Maple Whiskey Sour
Maple Whiskey Sour from Gimme Some Oven

Blue Lagoon Shots
Blue Lagoon Shots from Hairspray & Highheels

Pineapple Coolers
Pineapple Coolers from Pizzazzerie

Peach Sangria
Peach Sangria from

You can also find more of my favorites on my Pinterest board HERE.

What about you? How have you been staying cool this summer? Do you have any favorite cocktails to share? :)