Saturday, December 14, 2013

Multi-Tasking: Five for Friday, RACK, Christmas Questionnaire, Freebie Link

As the year progresses, I find myself wanting to do more but time disappears and I find my list of to-dos growing endlessly. There is a lot to do and one can only spread themselves so thin before they are wiped out. This is especially true when it comes to blogging.
I have tons of ideas running through my head, I write lots of posts in my head, but then other things pop up and I don't quite make it to the computer. So today, I am going to multi-task and write a post that will link up with several other blogs. You may want to grab your coffee or run to the bathroom, this is going to be a long one! 
Last night was family time, so my Five for Friday post is being completed early Saturday while my boys still saw some logs. 
During this time of year, the focus is on holidays and there is excitement blooming everywhere. I love the feelings of anticipation and joy.
As an educator, this time of year also brings up Sandy Hook and the tragedy that struck innocent children, fearless teachers, and the families of the community.

I was home recovering from surgery when it happened so I saw tons of coverage. I sobbed and sobbed each time I watched and read about it. I still tear up. 
I yearn for the days when we do not have to have staff meetings to discuss the safety of our school and having to tighten up our security system to protect our precious commodities. If necessary, we will, but I don't want to taint the innocence of our children with ideas and fear of people. 
I also yearn for the day when news media will not tell stories about shootings in schools. It was hard to hear that another shooting occurred in Colorado, and the shooter intended to kill a teacher. School is hard, pressure is intense; violence and guns are not the solution. As a country, we need to look closer to find a preventative solution. We need to work on helping those with anger, improve access to mental health, remove the stigmas associated with getting help if needed, and most importantly stop blaming teachers.
For those involved int he Colorado and Sandy Hook incidents, you are in my prayers and thoughts. 
I had some fun trying to bring some smiles to other people's faces yesterday with my RACK - random acts of Christmas kindness. I wrapped up 8 small gifts and distributed them to teachers and staff within my school. 
It turned out to be a crazier Friday than normal, so I did not get to talk to many people during the day, and did not hear the reactions of the recipients. I am hoping they were inspired by their gift and will continue to spread the cheer.     
 Because it was an incredibly hectic day, I did not get to take pictures of all of the wrapped gifts before sneaking them in classrooms and mailboxes. It was particularly fun to place 1 gift under the tree in a classroom. 

I used Oh Boy 4th Grade's RACK tags. I did not compile the gifts with my students. I figure if someone gives us a random gift it will be a perfect opportunity for us to jump in to action. If we are not the recipients of a RACK, then we can plan together as a class and surprise 8 more people. 

Speaking of RACK, I came across this neat party, What a Gift, hosted by Foxwell Forest. As part of the party, you select two of the blogs you follow, tell them how they inspire you, and offer them an opportunity to select a gift from your Teachers Pay Teachers store. Since I am learning a ton from other blogs and feel that I get a gift daily, I thought it might be fun to join in this party. 

One of the first blogs I started to follow, that inspired me to join the blogging world, is Fifth in the Middle. I actually followed her on TPT, and then found my way to her blog. I loved her products and ideas and was instantly drawn to her wit and wisdom.  

Fifth in the Middle
Being a fellow 5th grade teacher, it is wonderful to know that what I experience is similar to what others experience across the country. I have used many of her wonderful products, been inspired to create some of my own, and am excited to share. At Thanksgiving Diane gave one of my products a shout out which turned in to some downloads and positive feedback in my store. I was beyond touched by the kindness. Just when you think you are alone, you find that many are cheering you on! 
So, thank you Diane for your gifts of generosity and inspiring me to blog and create, and of course cheering me on to be the best teacher I can be. Pick out a gift from my store.  

For my second blog, I am going to give another shout out to another 5th grade blogger, Allison at Rockin' and Lovin' Learnin'

I followed Allison for a while and was always impressed with her posts. She works with gifted and talented 5th grades, but she is certainly just as gifted and talented! Allison shares her great ideas and amazing approach to teaching. I love reading her blog and seeing what she is stirring up with her crew. 
Not only do I love reading her blog, but I love reading her comments in response to my blog. I am in awe that people are following me, and Allison always comments, which probably until now, she did not know how much I appreciate and love her comments. 
The support that readers provide a blogger is priceless, without support and knowing someone is reading, might drive one to stop blogging. So thank you Allison for your support, you are a gift! Don't forget to pick a gift from my store. 

This week was busy. 5th grade Chorus had their performance and I got to play along during 1 song. Our music teacher/chorus director always invites the teachers to join the teacher ensemble for 1 song along with the chorus. The kids love singing along with us and it is simply fun to participate. I have excitedly played along each year, and this year got to jam on the bongos. My students were excited and my son had the pleasure of watching me play during the performance yesterday. 
My teammate was observed during math class yesterday and I know she rocked her evaluation. She ran a math group using our mimio vote, and despite technology stomping on our plans it went well. I worked with a small group on modeling with unlike denominators and was so pleased to see some connections {finally} being made with the algorithm and the visual. While we worked with small groups, the rest of the kids worked on some decimal multiplication review task cards. I used this great set by Rockin' and Lovin' Learnin'
I also created some task cards to use this week and next week. At school, technology has been sticking its tongue out at me, which has added stress, but ha ha, I have not been defeated! For some odd reason, I cannot get the fractions to print off of my power point slides. The line prints, but not the numbers. Frustrating beyond belief! Even out tech guy is stumped. So, I created and printed some task cards at home. 
I have not completed the set, no recording sheet or answer key, so until I do, the set is free. There are  35 pages worth of task cards available for FREE! 
I have tons to do at home this weekend, so I will not get around to update the file for at least a few days. Once I do, it will be a paid product. If you download it and leave feedback, leave me a comment here and I will send you the updated packet. 
In an effort to keep things light, yet educational, during the days of distraction, I am relying on interactive notebooks, powerpoints, and brainpops to introduce earth science concepts. We will dig deeper, once things settle, but for now, building the background knowledge is the best plan of attack. 
This week we used some of the sheets from Nicole Shelby's Layers of the Earth Activity pack. The kids really enjoyed the layers of lollipops comparison to the layers of the earth. 
(He has a tootsie pop in his hand)
They had some great questions, and had to think through the scenario a little, plus got to enjoy a treat. 
Another great linky party floating around the web is the Christmas Questionnaire. I have really enjoyed reading everyone's responses. 
Hot Chocolate or Eggnog?  Hot chocolate all of the way! The idea of eggnog grosses me out, I think I had a sip once and that was enough. 

Does Santa wrap presents or just sit them underneath the tree? Oh, he wraps everything. If he has enough paper, he will wrap stocking stuffers too. Last year, he did not wrap the basketball hoop, but did tie big beautiful ribbons around it. What is Christmas morning, without cleaning up loads of ripped up paper.  
Colored lights or white? I love white lights. We usually put white lights outside, but have colored lights on our tree. 

When do you decorate? In December. I add more and more as Christmas gets closer. As a child, we never put our tree out until after my mom's December birthday. With hubs having a December birthday, we carried on that tradition until we had kids. The kids wish we had them up the day after Thanksgiving, but I just cannot do it. We will be decorating our tree this weekend.  

Real or Fake Tree? Growing up, it was always fake, so when we bought our house we went for a real tree. Our first Christmas we bought a tree that filled half of the dining room, with no furniture in the room it was perfect! When kids came along we switched to fake. With a child with asthma, we found that the real tree aggravated his breathing and it just wasn't worth it. 
What Tops your tree? An old-fashioned Santa. 
Favorite Christmas Memories or Traditions? Christmas Eve at my mom's. Fun, laughing, eating yummy appetizers and desserts, a few gifts, and the excitement of Santa's arrival. We also love to drive around looking at lights to lull the boys to sleep. 
Christmas morning, I get up early with the boys and make cinnamon rolls. To keep them content until Dad wakes up or until it is closer to 6 or 7 in the morning, I let them open their stockings. We also fill up the fireplace with a fire for the day and snuggle up in our jammies watching our favorite movies. It is such a laid-back fabulous day!
Do you remember your favorite gift as a child? I remember the year I got a red-headed Cabbage Patch doll. I also remember the year I got a ten-speed bike and it had been snowing and was icy out, but I rode that thing all over the sidewalks in our neighborhood. I fell a few times, but I was a happy girl!
Do you prefer giving or receiving? Giving. I try to think up the perfect gifts, and many times do a pretty good job. It makes my day, when someone surprises me with a touching gift that they put a lot of thought in to. Last year, hubs and the boys had me in tears with 2 beautiful necklaces. 
One of the pretty necklaces from my boys. 
What is your favorite Christmas song? Winter Wonderland
Candy Canes, Yum or Yuck? Yum, but I don't like to eat it all at once, I break off pieces. 
Favorite Christmas Movie? Love Actually and Elf 
Do you shop online or in stores? Well, since I don't get to sneak off to stores alone frequently, I rely on Amazon and will shop in stores here and there to fill stockings and find the things I don't want to order online. 
Photo Cards, Letter or Store-Bought? Photo card. Still working on it! Sometimes it makes it out a little late, just my way to extend the holiday. 

Whew, that was long! If you made it all the way here, thank you! Hope you have a fabulous weekend! 


  1. it's a Sunday morning, I'm still in my p.j.s. I finally get around to reading blogs from the whole weekend and I get to your blog and start reading and guess what...I'm crying...not just little tears of happiness, I'm snot-sobbing, Laura. What you wrote was so very sweet and kind! Thank you for really, THANK YOU! Love the picture of the tree decorating...with a huge smile and your beautiful necklace from the boys!
    Rockin' and Lovin' Learnin'

    1. Ok, so you now have me in tears! You are so welcome. I really mean it, having people following me and reading means more than anything. At one point, I almost stopped blogging and then wham I started to get these amazing messages letting me know someone was cheering me on! Thank you!

  2. My mom made cinnamon rolls for us, too. Such a nice way to start your Christmas.

    Happy Holidays!

    Michelle @ Teach123

    1. In my book, Christmas isn't the same without the rolls.

  3. So I finally get around to catching up on some blogs, and I'm so glad that I did! As stressed and crazy as I have been these past few weeks (and totally slacking on my own blog), your kind words really made my night!! Thank you so much! I had to show my husband what you wrote because sometimes he just doesn't get it. I mean, he's totally supportive, but he doesn't really understand the community that we're building online :) Hope the rest of your week is wonderful!

  4. Stopping by from the linky party! I just got linked up today. Your tree looks great!!! Merry Christmas to you and your family!

    Come by my blog for the party when you get a chance!
    Many Blessings,


I love to hear from my readers. Please leave your thoughts about the wonderful journey through teaching and life!