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End of the year linky parties!

There are so many cute end of the year linky parties right now, I just couldn't resist. What a fun way to wrap up the year!

The first one is Resolutions from A Peach for the Teach.

Next up is the Thirteen in '13 linky from A Teeny Tiny Teacher.

It's been an interesting year for clothes for me. I am almost 5 months pregnant and growing like crazy, so pretty much anything that fits is my favorite article of clothing. :) That being said, I'm obsessed with these boots I got in London this past April. Seriously. They are adorable AND comfortable. That's practically the shoe jackpot! 

Okay, here is my dirty little secret: I am really boring. Hubby and I usually wait until movies are out on DVD and we can watch them on Netflix or HBO before we watch them. I know, seriously. We are so boring! But, this year, I did actually see a movie in the theater. As luck would have it, I LOVED it. In typical nerdy fashion, that movie is my all time favorite F. Scott Fitzgerald novel: The Great Gatsby. It was quirky and modernized, for sure, but that is part of why I loved it so much. Fantastic movie.

Without a doubt my favorite TV series of 2013 was Downtown Abbey. Fitting, too, since I am obsessed with all things British. Who doesn't love a good period drama set in the English countryside, complete with lords, ladies, war, and love? So good. 

This is a tiny little restaurant that only has one location- 3 hours away from me no less- but Oh. My. GOSH. It is so good! Hubby and I are both vegetarian, so the prospect of going to a restaurant where we can order anything on the menu is really exciting. It sounds silly, but it's a great feeling! We have plenty of vegetarian restaurants near us in the Boston area, but this little gem in Southern Maine is so worth the drive. We discovered it on a short trip to visit friends, and keep going back because it is SO good. 

I've always loved outdoor running, and a few years ago my hubby go me into mountain biking. Last year, we starting hiking. Well, this year, he decided he wanted to try mountain climbing. Seriously. We're talking, tiny little iron ladders, rickety wooden stairs, cracking hand-pulls, and 1,530 foot climbs. Check out the teeny tiny trees in that picture! We weren't even 3/4 of the way up, either. It was HARD, but it was a lot of fun. The feeling when I got to the top was fantastic.... until I realized I had to get down somehow. Seriously. Remember those tiny little hand-pulls, rickety stairs, and tiny iron ladders? They are even less fun going down with shaky legs. EEK! It was a blast, though. We are totally hooked. 

For our 3rd wedding anniversary, my husband got me this Forevermark necklace. I absolutely love it. :) It's beautiful, he picked it out, and the necklace length is adjustable so I can wear it with any neckline. I wear it all the time. 

Seriously. These cookies. Ridiculously good. No other words are needed.

This post about Class Dojo. Mostly because I still use it all the time, and LOVE it!

We bought our first home on September 30! It's a real fixer, and we still aren't living there... but we love it. We've been working hard nights and weekends to get it fixed up and ready to move in. There have been SO many set backs, delays, mistakes, and frustrations, but we are getting there. We hope to move in by the end of January... but we also hoped to move in by the end of November. :) Fingers crossed!

One of my favorite hobbies is photography. I love taking pictures! I am one of those weirdos who will stop in my tracks and take a picture at any random time. This picture of the Houses of Parliament isn't great technically, but the I will never forget the feeling when I took it. We were in the London Eye watching the sun set over London. Seriously- whenever I look at it I feel happy. :)

This one is a toss up. Either telling my husband that we are expecting our first baby, or seeing him on the ultrasound for the first time. I literally squeaked with happiness when I saw his heart beating. :)

1. Finish renovating our house and finally move in!
2. Organize my classroom files better. I hate having to search for things I made last year just because I did not file them smartly!

My word will definitely have to be change. We have a new house that we are looking to move into, a baby on the way, and my husband was recently promoted. The times, they are a-changin'... but in such a fantastic way.

Simply Kinder is hosting a fun little link up, for no reason other than to make new friends. :) 

So, check them out and link up. :) Happy New Year Friends!

Book Talks & "What Should I Read Next?"

If your darling little students are anything like mine, they have a really hard time making book choices. I use Classroom Organizer (a digital library tracker- TOTALLY love it- check out my review of it here!) so I can easily see what books are checked out to what students, and for how long. Too often, a student has no book checked out or a history of books being checked out for just a couple days. We all know that most students don't read entire books in just a couple days (although there are a few out there that do!), so it leads me to believe that they are starting books and giving up on them. The ones with nothing checked out are even more troubling! You'd think my library looked like this:

Seriously. Isn't it frustrating when they say "I can't find anything to read" as they stand in your library full of hundreds of books? Well, a few things have worked for my fifth graders. First, for those kids who just don't have a book checked out, it's all about hyping something up. Make it cool. How do you make it cool? Well, for this age, just make it out to be the book that all fifth graders will want to read. I do this with a book talk for my class. I gather up some books from my library, put them in a basket, and call my kids down to the carpet. Before I chose the books to bring down to the library, I make sure I know the "hook" for each one. What will get them psyched for it? Once I've got them down on the carpet, I talk about the books one by one. I read the blurb on the back or a few pages from the first chapter. I talk it up, and ask for students to volunteer their thoughts about it. After I do this for 5 or 6 books, and then leave them up at the front of the classroom to be checked out. Every time, without fail, the basket is empty by the end of the day. Win! I start book talks right when we get back to school. Now that my kids are used to the routine, I have them signed up to give book talks to the class. I still talk about one or two books, but I have a few students talk about a book they recently read, too! I ask them to make sure that it is a book that is available from our library, and they do have to hand in a few sentences ahead of time to show that they are prepared. Here are the guideline I give them:
  • Make sure you pick a book that is REALLY good. One you want to rave about!
  • Prepare ahead of time! Know what you are going to say. Limit yourself to 1 - 2 minutes of talking.
  • Talk about the reasons you liked the book. How did it make you feel? What were you thinking? What scenes or characters were memorable? 
  • Don't give away the whole story!
I make sure that all the students will get a chance to do a book talk over the course of the term by asking them to sign up ahead of time. This also gives them plenty of time to prepare!

So, what about the kids that just don't know what to read now? Maybe they have one book that they absolutely loved, but can't find anything else like it. I am loving the website What Should I Read Next for kids like this!

It's so easy to use- and so far the results have been great. Ask your student what was the last book that they read that they really enjoyed. Then, go to the website and type in the name of the book.

Hit "enter" and watch the results line up!

In this case, the student ended up reading The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle, and she really enjoyed it. The only caveat with this comes with students who are stuck in a genre rut. You know- our friends who exclusively read Diary of a Wimpy Kid. These books are great for reluctant readers, but getting them to branch out into other types of books is the ultimate challenge! 

So, what works for these types of readers in your classroom?

Where is she now?

Seriously, people, I have been off the grid for a while. With everything I have going on, I couldn't keep up with blogging! What's new you ask? Well, you saw before that we bought a house. Yay! However, this house is a project. Although the structure and layout are fantastic, it was seriously outdated. We're talking wood paneling, mustard yellow appliances, baby pink bathroom tile, and dirty old shag carpets. Yuck! We have been hard at work for three months and it's coming along really well. In fact, we may be able to move in soon after the new year! I'll post pictures when it's done. Seriously, you won't even recognize it.

I have also been taking a state sponsored ELL course. This course will give me Sheltered English Immersion (SEI) endorsement on my teaching license. Although this course was "optional" for now, we have been told we would not be able to renew our licenses when the time came if we did not take it. I have learned SO much, but it has been so crazy time consuming! We meet every Wednesday for 3 - 3.5 hours, have a 2 hour online session each week between in person classes, and have LOTS of homework. Seriously, it's been like a part time job!

Well, the biggest news of all is.... hubby and I are having our first baby! I am due May 30.

In the picture on the left, I can totally hide the fact that I am expecting. Scarves work wonders! Once I turn to the side, though, it's all over. The secret is out! I wasn't planning on telling my kids for a while, but a few asked me if I was having a baby. I kept avoiding the question until one of them raised his hand in the middle of class and asked me again. I looked at him with a straight face and said "Why, do I look like I had too many cookies?" I couldn't keep the straight face for long though, and started laughing. I did end up telling the class that I was expecting. It was sweet to see how excited they were! I totally was not prepared for how exhausting pregnancy is, thought. Oh my goodness! I can barely make it through the school day, never mind the planning, grading, tutoring, duty, and SEI class. I'm starting to get some energy back, though, so I'm happy about that.

So, my fellow bloggy friends, that's what I've been up to for the past few months. Can't wait to catch up with all of you!
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