Sunday, December 15, 2013

Monday Made-It Early!

Hello!  Happy Sunday-before-Christmas-break!! I know this is early, but I found some down time and I just HAD to post the actual Made-Its!! 

I hope this finds you well.  I am anticipating this time of year is as crazy for you as it is for me.  On top of that, all I have is Christmas on my mind... which makes school a difficult place to maintain focus!  I am sharing with you the finished version from last week's Monday (almost) Made It (this is the link to that post)!

My MMI this week is hand-made thank you cards.  They're nothing crazy fancy or super artsy, but I think it means way more to receive a card someone put thought into making.  I am super excited about how they turned out this year.    I love each and every one of them! So without further adieu...

Thanks for stopping in!  I hope you enjoyed my quick early post! :)

I hope you have a wonderful week! 

~Miss McDonald

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Christmas Questionaire!

HAPPY FRIDAY EVE!!!!  6 days until Winter Break!! WE CAN DO THIS!! :)  

As you may have noticed, I always aim to use this blog to share my teaching experiences, but this is a linky party I cannot resist.  For anyone who knows me, to say I love Christmas is an understatement.  I start listening to Christmas music as SOON as Thanksgiving is over.  I also start decorating our house on Black Friday.  I love the feeling of a house warmly lit with twinkly lights and candles. It's delightful!! :)  Tonight I'm linking up with Fabulous in First (for the first time ever.. woohoo!) to share with you some of my Christmas must- haves and traditions.  :)   Enjoy!

Hot Chocolate or Egg Nog?  

Hmm.. Hot Chocolate! Lake Champlain brand with Whipped Cream and Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Milk!

Does Santa wrap presents or just put them under the tree?

Santa always wraps.  We all even got our "own" wrapping paper style! :)

Colored Light or white?

WHITE! ALWAYS.  I love the warm twinkly glow. Plus, I think the neutral goes with more.. This is a long standing debate between my sister and I. She loves colored twinkly lights. :) 

When do you Decorate?


Real or Fake tree?

REAL! Born and raised.  It's tradition to venture out as a family and pick the "very best one"! And it smells so fresh! :)  Here is ours this year :) 

What tops your tree?

A bright red sparkly star. I LOVE IT.

Favorite Christmas memories or traditions?

Every year on Christmas eve we all (Mom, Dad, Morgan, and I) would curl up on the couch and put on The Polar Express book on tape and follow along as the narrator read aloud.  It is the most amazing story to be read aloud!  It still gives me goosebumps.. to this day! :) 

Favorite gift as a child?

 Hmm.. probably my American Girl doll, Felicity.

Gift giving or receiving?

Both!! I love to make others happy, but I don't mind being surprised and excited myself.

Favorite Christmas Song?

"When Love Came Down" by Point of Grace.  Reminds me of car rides to Grandma and Pop-pop's house singing it at the top of our lungs!  Looking back on it, my poor dad!!

Candy Canes?

I could take 'em or leave 'em.   Honest!

Favorite Christmas Movie?

Hmm.. A Christmas Story. This was the staple background noise for Christmas Days at my Grandma and Pop-pops house.. such memories.

Shop online or in stores?

Both!    Some of the things my loved ones wanted this year could only be purchased online! ;) hint..hint..

Photo cards, letters, or store bought cards?

None yet.. I won't do Christmas cards until Ryan puts a ring on it! Haha.. When it's our turn, def. a photo card.  I think it documents time  really nicely. :) 

I hope you enjoyed reading about my Christmas must-haves and traditions.. and I hope you and your loved ones have a joyous Christmas/Holiday season.  We as teachers have so much we can be thankful for! :)

~Miss McDonald

Monday, December 9, 2013

Monday Made It! (Mini..)

Well, hello!  I hope this post finds you cozy and warm in your home if you live in any area like ours... We had 4 inches of snow yesterday, a surprise snow day today, and possibly another storm hitting here tomorrow!  Good thing I got up off of my bum and got grocery shopping and Christmas shopping out of the way.. I'm being greedy and hoping we will be lucky enough to have at least a 2 hour delay tomorrow.. but I'm seriously doubting that...

While out Christmas shopping, I bought materials to make Thank You Christmas cards this year...  I am always so thankful for the thought and time put into gifts I receive from my students and their families.. 

My first year I used a "Thank You" template, but I didn't feel that was personal enough.. So, last year I made my own handmade (hand-stickered and stamped) cards and mailed them to each child (and family).  I felt like that showed my appreciation more, and I had many families and students thank me for their "special" card... So, I am doing it again this year! 

I am linking up with 4th Grade Frolics (for the first time since summer.. YAY!!!)  and sharing my pre-card materials with you. They are Monday Almost Made-Its... but I was feeling a post, and thought that would be close enough. :)

Here are the stickers I bought...

 And the blank cards...

I can't wait to use my festive Thank You stamps and stamp-pads,  and create these babies!  I will share a few finished versions next week with you.. :)

I hope you have a wonderful week!  9 school days until break!! We can do this!!

~Miss McDonald :)

Friday, December 6, 2013

Flippin Friday! and December Currently!

Hello, wonderful world of ideas, bloggers, and readers!  It's hard for me to believe that my last post really was two months ago.  To be honest, I had to take a break from lots of things to get my teaching and personal life in order.  With all of the changes our school system is going through, I really had to set my gaze on what's important: my teaching, mental sanity, and personal life (Ryan and Family!).... There is something wrong that my brain thought of the important things in that order... Hmm..  Anyway,  if you are still reading this, THANK YOU for still showing my blog some love!

I was hoping to post a Tried it Tuesday, but I had a formal observation scheduled for Wednesday.. and there was nothing I could focus on other than writing my lesson plan, uploading artifacts, and trying not to have an anxiety attack.  I think announced formal observations will always make me anxious.  There's something about having a person watch and document your every move that really sets me on edge...  Can anyone shed light on this?  Does it get any better?? I hope so..

So, for my Tried It Tuesday (3 days late), I have implemented yet another positive behavior system in my room to help my kiddos self-monitor.  This idea came from a friend, but it really solved 2 problems I was having.  1) It speeds up transition times, and 2) It allows students who are always doing what they are supposed to be doing greater chances of receiving an awesome reward for that.  They are actually quite simple-  all it is is two pieces of chart paper hung on the board in the front of the room.  One says "Quietest Worker" and one says "Great Example".  Below each header, there is a list 1-10 with space for names to be written next to each number.  Throughout the day, if I see students working quietly or being a great example for others, I say their name and which chart to write their name on.  They choose the number.  A student can be on either chart multiple times, and sometimes, that happens!  Then, as the charts fill up, I pull a number 1-10 out of my jar.  The student whose name is next to the number that was pulled receives the reward.  So far rewards have been: special seat for a day, chew gum, and 5 tickets.  My students are SO motivated to have their names on that list!  Here is an example of what it looks like in action:  sorry for the quality of the photo and the appearance of the charts.  It was one of those ideas I had that never reached the "cute" phase.. there isn't much time for all of that this year... :)

 What do you do in your classroom to make sure the kiddos that are almost always doing what they are supposed to be doing receive recognition for it??

And I am also linking up with Oh' Boy Fourth Grade! for Currently... December!  This is a busy post!

Listening to: "Now That's What I Call Christmas!"  I have had the Christmas tunes on since the day after Thanskgiving! Wahoo!

Loving: Our house is completely decorated.. and Christmas break is 11 days away! (it was 12 when I made the Currently..LOL!)

Thinking: I needed to finish my students Reader Responses!  DONE!

Wanting: New jeans- mine are old and blah!
                To hit the lottery.. I think that one's pretty obvious why.. these paychecks aren't cutting it!
               A gingerbread coffee- I have a French Press now and I love to use the Trader Joe' flavored  coffees.  This is my most recent fave: 

Needing: More supplies!  To Christmas Shop, and SLEEEEEP.  All self-explanatory!

Favorite Tradition: My family always had an advent calendar and my sister and I loved to take turns opening the windows to find the surprise behind.  I have one for house this year, as a matter of fact!  Another tradition that I miss dearly is my sister, my dad, my mom, and me would make ourselves comfortable on the couch.  Then, we would put our Polar Express tape (I'm dating myself!) into the cassette player and follow along as the narrator read the story aloud beautifully.  It brings back such feelings of nostalgia, excitement, and gratefulness that I was able to share such a tradition with my family. 

I hope your week has been wonderful.  Happy Friday!

~Miss McDonald :)

Saturday, October 5, 2013

October Currently and a Check-In!

Well,  it appears a once-a-month blog entry has become the norm.  I am not pleased with it, but I can't seem to find time during the school week to post more than that.  And by the weekends, I don't remember or don't have the energy!  Oh, the life of a teacher...

I am linking up with Oh' Boy 4th Grade today for my October Currently.  When I originally completed my currently, the house was silent and Ryan was still sleeping.. Side note- it is 2:50 and no, he is not "still" sleeping, but happens to be napping ;)

listening... to the silence of my house. Ryan is asleep, the TV is off, and I'm getting my think time :)

loving.... this year has been the craziest, and most educational year of my career so far.  The group I have this year is teaching me so much about myself as a teacher and person.  I am seeing the value in patience, being loving, forgiving, and "sticking to my guns" when necessary.  I see the importance of consistency, and the idea that fair doesn't mean the same for everyone, it means what everyone needs to be successful.  I am confident that by the end of this year, I will have learned even more about myself and my teaching than I already have!

thinking...  about how tired I am from this week!  Yikes!

wanting... a new fall wardrobe.. namely, new jeans, scarves, and some fun flats!  My struggle: when to go to the mall???

needing...  more sleep, an early bed time may be in order tonight.. and to get my long run over with tomorrow!  I am running the Baltimore Half Marathon next weekend... wahoo!

trick or treat...  a Trick please, to help me help my students transition more quickly between groups, tasks, subjects, etc.  We have practiced, practiced, timed, practiced, counted down, practiced, inserted brain breaks, and our transition times are still not where I'd like them to be... so, either I need to let go- or try something new!  If you have any suggestions I'd love to hear them!

I hope you have a stupendous weekend!  I am hoping to post Tuesday to share a "Tried It Tuesday" that I am super excited about.. :)

~Miss McDonald :)

Monday, September 2, 2013

Better Late than Never!

So... I believe I'm a bit late to the "Currently" linky party over at Oh'Boy 4th Grade.. but I figured better late than never!  This is my first ever currently.. I'm excited!

I am currently...

Listening.. to NFL network and the magic bullet!  Football season is so close we can taste it around here!!  And our new Magic Bullet blender is so super fantastic.. we are in love.  I have a smoothie at least 4 times a week now-- what I love most is that I know what goes into it! ahem.. no added sugar, chemicals, etc. :)  

Loving.. that my boy came grocery shopping with me to Trader Joe's!  I normally go alone, so when he joins me its a good day!
Thinking.. that I am nuts for being excited to already get back to school!  I missed my 22 4th graders.. :)
Wanting... a Grande Iced Caramel Macchiato.. they are my favorite!!! 

Needing... to finish my to-do list by getting up off of my bum!.. and to find a reliable magnetic curtain rod.. any suggestions, friends?

Loving myself by...  running 3 days a week and taking spin class at least 1 other day, hitting the hay by 10:00 pm, and having NO MORE than one Diet Coke per week...!

How was your Monday off?  Who's with me in wearing white pants tomorrow?????? ;) 

Have a fantastic week! 
~Miss McDonald :)

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Food for Thought Saturday

Oh my goodness!  I have gained a whole new respect for all of you blogger-teachers who are so good about keeping up with your blogs!  As you may notice, the last time I posted was August 10- that is 20 whole days ago!!!  I can explain..... SCHOOL HAS STARTED!  Ok, not a good enough excuse, but I consider it a valid explanation at least..!  I promise to get better...

I had my first 2 weeks back (1 teacher week and 1 week with kiddos).  I can confidently say that this year may be the best year I've had yet.  My team is absolutely wonderfully fantastic- and my students, well they are even better than absolutely wonderfully fantastic!  It is funny to me all of the stories receiving teachers hear each year about groups of students moving up to that grade, and how many of those stories become an inaccurate description of those exact children.  I think that shows how important it is for us as educators to allow them to come into a new school year (school day, even!) with a clean slate-  we all make mistakes.  I think sometimes when we are in the throws of the school year it's easy to say that but not actually mean it.  We ALL really do make mistakes- even us teachers! :)

We spent the entire first week working on building our community, setting expectations, practicing reading stamina (my class read 28 minutes uninterrupted on Friday!!!!), and making our classroom our home for the year.  As part of our building a class community, we have had a Class Meeting each day at the end of the day where we Take Care of Business, and then play a Class Activity that is geared towards encouraging them to see that when we work as a team, we are so much more successful!  If you click this LINK, it will take you to my 4th grade Pinterest board, where you can find some of the activities we have done!

In addition to building a community, my students and I go through a 4 -day/step process to eventually agree on our class rules on day 5.  Here is the progression:

Day 1- Brainstorm things they loved about past teachers.
Day 2-  Brainstorm things they didn't love about past teachers. 
Day 3-  What should I expect of them as 4th graders?
Day 4-  What should they expect of me as their teacher?

It is absolutely amazing to me each year how beautifully they put the rules on day 5.  Here are the rules my 4th graders thought were important for this school year:

1. Follow the EES 3 (be safe, respectful, and responsible)
2.  Treat others the way you want to be treated, and they will do the same for you. 
3.  Be helpful and kind to each other.  

 I mean seriously!  I almost started crying.  These children already know the golden rule!!!!!!  If we all followed these rules a little more closely, this world would be such a better place..  

Just some food for thought from my amazing children.  

Happy Saturday,
~Miss McDonald :) 


Saturday, August 10, 2013

Short and Sweet Saturday

Today is day 2 of my attempt to begin something great!  Short and Sweet Saturday is upon us!! :)


 I am sharing with you a yummy Fall School Morning recipe I found online that I will be making every morning before school!  It is a "Clean Eating Pumpkin Spice" Recipe!  It's super simple to make, and tastes exactly like the Starbucks Pumpkin Latte.  Here is a link to the original recipe:

Here is the photo from her website.. which is exactly what it looks like... a real Latte!! 

Clean Eating Pumpkin Spice Latte
 (photo from: The Gracious Pantry)

I used:

2 cups pumpkin coffee (brewed with pumpkin spice if using a french press)
1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk or 1 cup Skim Milk
1 tbsp pure maple syrup
1/4 tsp vanilla extract

I hope you enjoy this as much as I have!!!  I can't wait to see who links up today... Have fun!

Happy Saturday!
~Miss McDonald

Friday, August 9, 2013

Fabulous Find Friday- A steal!!!

Happy Friday!! I can't believe this week is almost over!! Ryan and I have a CRAZY weekend coming up.. Tomorrow one of my great friends from my Master's Cohort is getting married.. About 3 hours from our house. We had originally planned on staying the night, but soon realized that would not be the best option given that Ryan needs to go into work Sunday, and I have to do everything I can here to make sure that when we get back from our week at the Cape (staring Monday!!!!), everything is ready to go back to school. That means today is full of cleaning and errands..

AH! So, in telling you all of that, I was trying to get to the point that I spent this morning running errands. On my way home, I could just feel the dollar store calling to me... So, I stopped in real quickly, and that is where I discovered my Fabulous Find!!! I have been wanting to buy spray paint to brighten up my wooden clothes pins, but after today, that won't be necessary! I found these little guys for $1.00 a pack (I got 2 packs)!!!

Talk about a find.. and a steal! I couldn't have bought 4 cans of spray paint and 2 packs of wooden clips for under $2.00! Wahoo! I love a good deal. :)

I can't wait to use these colorful guys on my Classroom Behavior Clipchart!  It looks a lot like this one.. Chevron Behavior Clipchart by Miss Shoes from TPT.  It works well with my theme this year because I am doing black and white, and then splashes of color!

What did you find on this Fabulous Friday?  What do you think about me making this a weekly thing where we can all link up and share things we have found throughout the week?  Leave a comment and let me know what you think!! :)

~Miss McDonald :) 

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

A Big Day!! and a Short Post.. :)

I had to get on here and celebrate because..... I HAVE REACHED 20 FOLLOWERS ON BLOGLOVIN'! Holy Cow!!!  It is amazing to me that 20 people find my blog interesting enough to follow and read every time I post an idea or ramble on about my teacher life! :)  I feel so blessed!  (20 may not sound like many to you veteran bloggers.. but to me, it is absolutely fantastic!). 

Here is the proof! 

And thanks to Molly Davis from the bookish advantage for being my #20!  :) You should go check out her page.. I started following her today.. she's got some great stuff on there!  Including her adorable "R E A D" wooden letter she made for this week's Monday Made It!! 

I hope your Tuesday is super fabulous... Mine has been super great! A Pedi with a great friend (whose baby is due any day now), lunch at Bertucci's, and some Five Below finds that I will share with you Friday!  And, my honey will be home early from work today!  Woo hoo!

Happy Tuesday!
~Miss McDonald :)

Monday, August 5, 2013

Monday Made It! and a Sneak Peek...

I can't believe it is already Monday... again! And time again for Monday Made It!  I am loving this blogging because it is motivating me to complete projects I have been wanting to do for a long time!  I am linking up again with 4th Grade Frolics!

 My first Monday Project is a revamped bookshelf for my classroom!  I have been wanting another bookshelf for my Reading Corner, but don't particularly like super tall, bulky shelves.  I prefer shorter, more petite book cases.  So today while perusing through Goodwill, I noticed this lonely, disheveled looking bookcase.. I immediately had an epiphany: spray paint fixes everything!  So I snatched that pitiful thing up, made my purchase, and headed over to Michael's (another terrible store for teachers!! $$$$$) where I purchased some Krylon Glossy White paint (my recent obsession), and materials for project #2. I'll get to that one next.  

Here is the original bookcase:

And here is the refinished version:

I can't wait to see it filled with colorful book baskets and all of the books I purchased at the Scholastic Warehouse Book Fair!! :) 

Onto Project #2.. I bought materials, sorted and put them all together, but am not ready to share the FINAL yet.. :)  I will, however, let you have a sneak peek.. I found this great idea on Pinterest to create a bulletin board using small bags for each month of the year, which will be designated Birthday Month Bags.  This will help make sure each child is recognized, while making sure I don't forget! :)  I bought tiny, bright gift bags from Michael's and fun stickers for each.  I used what we generally know and get excited about each month to buy themed stickers.. ex: April = Spring/Easter time, May = Flowers, June = Summertime, September = Back to School.. and so on.  I will eventually decorate each mini bag with the correct stickers, and create cute month name labels for each... Then, I will attach a decorative tag to each bag with the students names and actual date for each month.  

Here are my stickers (I am in love!)

And my mini bags..

Stay tuned for the final version!! 

What did you do today?  I can't wait to check out everyone else's Monday Made Its while I anxiously await the Bachelorette Finale! :)

Happy Monday,
~ Miss McDonald :)

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Short and Sweet Saturday- A Linky Party!!!

Today is one of those Saturdays where I am wishing it was Fall...  I miss the feeling of waking up to cool mornings, snuggled in bed, with a week of school under my belt yet again, followed by a nice long run, coffee and breakfast, and some sort of Pumpkin recipe or candle hunting.  There is something about being in the swing of the school year that brings me such a simple form of joy.  I feel like people look at me like I am CRAZY when I tell them I can't wait for school to start...  But I really can't!  I love that I have the opportunity to try and help make the world a better place, one little person at a time.  It's so motivating!!

SO, in an attempt to help YOU get excited for the school year, I am starting my own Linky Party!  It will be every Saturday.  The goal will be to help keep you excited and motivated during the school year, and to remind us why we do what we do.  :)

This Link-Up will be called "Short and Sweet Saturday" and you can share anything you want!  A funny story from the week, a product you created and want to share, a creative idea you discovered or came up with, and so on.. The only rule is you may NOT link to a product on TPT or Teacher's Notebook that costs money!  The idea is for it to be "Short and Sweet".. and there's nothing sweet about forking over some cash-ola.. :)  I want us to have fun with it!

So, join me in my first ever linky party!  Today I am sharing my Two Stars and a Wish Writing Revision Post-It template.  2 Stars are things they "loved" about their partner's writing, and a "Wish" is something they "wish" was included.  My students loved the idea of anything being "printed" on post-its.  I hope your students will find them just as motivating!  I suggest that you have a parent volunteer or kiddos help you stick post-its onto papers so it can be quick and easy for you.    Here is the link to the Two Stars and a Wish document.  :)  This is a sneak peek at what they look like... :)

If you would like the blank word document with just the empty text boxes, leave a comment and I will get in touch with you! Enjoy!!

I can't wait to see where this goes, and who links up!!  Happy Saturday!!
~Miss McDonald :)

Link Up!! :)



Monday, July 29, 2013

Monday Made It (partial) and a Freebie!

I'd like to start off by apologizing for not posting in over a week... but, I can promise you I have something you're really going to like! :) 

Ryan and I spent a week in Williamsburg, and I made a vow to myself that I would not spend time posting on my blog during our vacation.  Because he works so much, it is really important that when I have him away from work, I seize that time and make the most of it!  We went to Colonial Williamsburg for 2 days, and we did Busch Gardens 1 day.. We had SO much fun!  He took me out for 2 "fancy" and romantic dinners... I felt like a queen! :) 

Here is a picture of my honey and I dining in 1770's style.. :) 

And in front of the fire place after our wine pairing dinner at the resort!

Then came the time to come home.. and here we are.. back to the daily grind.   Except for one thing.. I started a week-long camp this week called Camp Invention.  It is basically a full day of modules where students are challenged to problem solve, be inventors, scientists, and more!  I forgot how exhausting it is to teach a full day... PHEW!  We must build stamina during the school year, because I don't remember every day feeling this exhausting!  

Next comes my Monday Made It!!   I am linking up with Fourth Grade Frolics again... 

You may remember my last post (Fabulous Find Friday) where I raved about this broken frame I found at Target.

So far, I have spray painted it.  I am in the process of finding a colorful bow/ribbon that I can use to spruce it up, but I think I will wait until my school year starts to add that so I can be sure it works well with my color theme. 

I used Krylon Colormaster Semi-Gloss paint (shown below)

 and sprayed in layers.  I did a total of 5 layers, about 15/20 minutes between each layer to make sure it dried smooth.. Here is the final project! 

I am thinking I will use it for a Weekly Inspirational Quote instead of an Objectives board. .  it is way too small to clearly write the objectives for our day for all to see.. That will have to be another day's project!  :)

The last thing I am going to talk your ear off about is the Freebie I promised if I reached 10 followers on Bloglovin'.... Well I am thrilled to say I have reached 15!  I created "Brain Break" Cards for you to print, laminate, and randomly draw during the school days when you are noticing your kids are getting a little antsy.  I have used things like this in the past during our 2 hour LA Block in particular, but they could be used at any point during the day!   Visit my Teachers Pay Teachers store and download your free copy of these cute and colorful Brain Break cards!  If there is something you'd like to be added to them that isn't there, leave a comment and I will add it and re-upload a newer version!! 

As always, thanks so much for reading!  I am so excited to have been able to chat at you again.. :) 

Happy Monday,
~Miss McDonald :)

Friday, July 19, 2013

Fabulous Find Friday!

So today I went to Target.... again.. with a few teacher friends.  Target + More than 1 teacher= NOT GOOD!  Luckily, today was pay day AND I stayed under my budget. :)  I am super excited though because I have been wanting to make an "objectives" board for quite some time.  Our county is adopting Common Core Standards 100% this year, and I think it would be nice to involve the kids in the awareness of what we are doing, and that everything we do has purpose.  SO, I found this neat frame on the clearance rack for 7.00.  It is a little damaged, but that's nothing some spray paint and a big old bow/flower/embellishment can't fix!  I am hoping to have it ready by Monday to share for Made It Monday!

Here is the Fabulous Find before refurbishment....   

I can't wait to refinish and make it pretty!  Stay tuned for the final product!

On another school related note, today was the last day of summer school. :(  I must admit- I got a little teary-eyed after one of the kiddos I have been working with boarded the bus and rolled out.  At the time it felt silly, but as I  thought more about it,  I came to realize why the end of this summer school was so emotional for me.  Being a Special Education teacher for the summer, I had the opportunity to work closely with a few students.    It is even more amazing to me that I had actually at one point before signing up to teach summer school, decided I didn't want  to, and that I "needed the summer off to recuperate."  (What a joke! I can't believe I actually thought sitting at home all day would be relaxing for my ADD personality- not a chance!)   An administrator at our school spoke with me about the opportunity to do ESY when it was time to fill positions, and I couldn't turn it down- and am I ever glad I didn't!  God sure does work in mysterious ways. :)  This summer, my working with that child reminded me why I chose to do what I do every day.  He truly inspired me.  His light, his smile, his positive attitude, patience, kindness, and joyfulness are beyond anything you could imagine.  I think we all need that reminder sometimes.  Something tells me this reminder will last a long, long time.

How has your Friday been?

~Miss McDonald :) 

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Thursday Thoughts

So today ended up being another very busy and crazy day filled with early sunrise boot-camp, summer school, errands, and..... Target... my arch budget-nemesis.  It is impossible to go into that store and not spend over $20.00!!!!  Their marketing scheme is amazing.. maybe I should get them to help me advertise my blog! ;)

I am excited, though, because the "Teacher section" has surfaced in preparation for the school year!  They had magnets, dry erase boards, fun write-on decals, clipboards, cute post-its, bulletin board borders.. I could go on and on!  The impulsive side of me wanted to purchase all of it, but I decided to wait and make sure I know what my classroom colors will be before I start going crazy with all of that.  I have a new room this year, and I haven't had a chance to scope it out yet... My room the past two years has been on the simple but colorful side, and I really loved it- I am just afraid that all of the fabric I purchased won't fit the new bulletin boards.. sigh..  Until then, I will be Pinterest-ing and dreaming up something bright, colorful, and clean. 

On a different note,  I am THRILLED to have 7 followers on BlogLovin'!  That doesn't seem like a lot, but it means a WHOLE lot to me as such a new blogger!  I am thinking I will do something special when that "Followers" number reaches 10...! :)    Who will be the 3 sweethearts to help me do that?  I can't wait to see!

I hope your Thursday was as awesome as you are!
~Miss McDonald :) 

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Wednesday Wrote It!

I had this great idea the other day to start making my own names for the days of the week, similar to "Monday Made It".  Right now I am trying out "Wednesday Wrote It"- but we will see how that one goes.. :)  I also have an idea for Tues, Thurs, Fri, Sat, and Sun... but you will have to come back on those days to see what it is!

As Summer School winds down for HCPSS, I am beginning to shift my thinking towards next school year and all of the things I want to do.  One book I have been reading (and LOVING) is "The Book Whisperer" by Donalyn Miller.

I am so inspired and excited to get back to school and start implementing my revamped Reader's Workshop!  I love the emphasis she puts on how important it is for kids to just read and that spending so much time in interventions means nothing if they have no time to apply it! This seems so intuitive, but why haven't we embraced it yet?  We try so hard to fill our reading blocks with seat work and centers and accountability sheets, when in reality our focus should be creating life long readers.  She suggests we do this by helping guide our students to books that contain the things they enjoy, that spark their interest, or that resonate with them- be it personally, socially, etc.  By doing this, the hope is that we create this tiny flame that grows over time as they discover the joys, adventures, sorrows, happiness, etc. of books they read. 

On top of that inspiration, I went to a meeting with my new and amazing Fourth Grade team.  HOLY COW!  Talk about a group of passionate, motivated individuals who are just as excited about teaching as I am!  I love it.  It is so energizing to be around people like that!  I can only hope I do the same for them.

As a cherry on top of this wonderful day, I am including for you a FREE copy of my "Who Are You" Reading interest survey.  Just click this link to my TPT store, and download it!!

Fellow bloggers- I have one question for you.  How do I link a certain phrase, image, etc to the actual document?  I couldn't find any way to include the document in here.  I could only create a link to my TPT store.  Any help would be greatly appreciated!!

I hope you have enjoyed your Wednesday, and Happy "Wednesday Wrote It!"

~Miss McDonald :)

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Liebster Award!

Yesterday I received a nomination for the Liebster award from Mrs. H at A Primary Girl... THANK YOU!  What a great way to be welcomed into the blogging community.  It is crazy to me how the networking on these blogging sites works- that people can even find me (and do!) and maybe even come back. :)  I am so honored!
So here are the rules for the award... 

1. Link back to the blog that nominated you
2. Nominate  blogs with fewer than 200 followers
(to be done!)
3. Answer the questions posted for you by your nominator
4. Share 11 random facts about yourself

5. Create 11 questions for your nominees

6. Contact your nominees and let them know you nominated them
2. Nominate blogs with fewer than 200 followers
 Lisa at Fluent in Fourth

" 3. Answer the questions posted for you by your nominator"

1. What is your all time favorite song? 
2. iPhone / Droid/ Galaxy? iphone
3. Why did you name your blog what you did?  Alliteration, and I wanted my blog to be memories and short stories of my teaching career and experience- memoir was the perfect word!
4. How often do you blog?  I am only 1 week in, but I am trying to make it a daily thing!
5. How many products do you have on your TPT page? 4 products
6. Do you designate time to blog or fit it in where you can? Try to blog in the morning
7. How long do you have off for summer? June 16-Aug 26
8. What teacher supply can you NOT live without? Inkjoy Pens!!!
9. Do you have any pets? One cat
10. Do you have any children? Nope!
11. If you have pets/children - how do you balance it all? What relaxes you?  I’d like to think that sharing the load with my boyfriend (hopefully that's changing to Fiance soon!), and making time for myself and date nights!

4. Share 11 random facts about yourself
1.  I don't listen to music when I drive.
2.  I ran the Baltimore Marathon in October.
3.  My Bachelor's degree has nothing to do with education- I am a post-grad degree teacher! (MCert)
4. I am still driving the first car I ever owned! (A '99 Toyota Camry!)
5. I can't stand fake green apple flavor, but I love real apples!
6. I could drink iced coffee all day long. (Iced skim caramel macchiato with 1 extra shot of espresso, please!)
7. I have only been blogging for 1 week.
8. I prefer "Miss McDonald" over "Ms. McDonald."
9.  I'd really like to teach 1st or 2nd grade someday.
10. I love American History
11. I don't like to swim in the ocean.

5. 11 questions for my nominees: 
1.  What grade do you teach? For how long?
2.  How long have you been blogging?
3.  Why do you blog?
4.  Are you male or female?
5.  Have you read the Book Whisperer? (If your answer is no, GO READ IT!) :)
6.  What is your favorite organizational tool?
7.  What is your favorite classroom management strategy?
8.  What is your Alma Mater (college)?
9.  Do you make TPT products?
10.  What is your favorite game to play?
11. What do you do for fun when you aren't at school?
Thanks for reading!!  

~Miss McDonald :)

Monday, July 15, 2013

My First Monday Made It!

So today I decided to "link up" with 4th Grade Frolics, and share my first ever Monday Made It!!!! I am one of her followers, but I don't even know if she knows it!! ;)

I am still trying to figure out all of this blog stuff.. my biggest challenge so far is I don't know how to connect with other bloggers!  I am finding other people's blogs and commenting, but I don't know If there's a better way to communicate... Either way, I am sure I'll figure it out!

Today I am sharing Schedule cards for this year.  I am going to have them Laminated at Kinko's because the laminator at school is sub-par.  Then, I will stick magnets to the back of each one, and use that as our daily schedule.  I will add labels as events arise, but for now I stuck with the basics! Enjoy! :)

The chevron border are from: Graphics From the Pond
The adorable font is from: Teaches Third in Georgia

I hope you have a great Monday!!  I'm off to Summer School!!!

~Miss McDonald :)

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Another Freebie (!!!) and a Few Quick Thoughts

So yesterday was a looong day for Ryan and I.  We spent the entire day riding roller coasters at King's Dominion courtesy of his company!

I, however, have this problem where I can't stop thinking about school and teaching- no matter where I am!  I found myself thinking about getting back to school and decorating, what product I am going to make next, and what my kids next year will be like.  I get excited about planning the first few weeks back, my teacher binder (what sections I should include and how it will look), desk arrangements, room layout.... It is an obsession!  Maybe I should change my blog name to "Miss McDonald's Obsession"....... Anyway,  today's post will be short.  I am sharing with you Literature Circle Role Cards that I have used the past 2 years with my 5th graders.  They are the perfect balance of Miss McDonald and Kiddos.  They are enough of a reminder of what being on task looks like, while allowing them to be in charge of their learning and group work.  My students LOVE them!  They especially like that they can use dry erase/wet erase to write on the back!!  (ooh... aah...)  I made them so that you can have up to 6 different groups with 5 students in each group.  Each group set is color coded and has 1 of each role: Clever Connector, Wacky Word Wizard, Super Story Teller, Super Story Illustrator, and Discussion Director. 

What do you do to help your kids stay on task while allowing them the freedom to be in charge of their own learning?

I hope you have a great Sunday!

~Miss McDonald :)

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Today's Task: Partner Matching Cards Freebie!

So today was quite an adventure packed day!  I woke up before the sun for a "Sunrise Boot Camp" where I proceeded to have my butt kicked by an extremely ripped and in-shape instructor!  (She is pretty awesome and motivating, though...)  Anyway, then I was off to Academic Intervention a.k.a Summer School for HCPSS, where I have the opportunity to work closely with two students in our Special Education program.  I absolutely adore them!  It is so wonderful for me to watch them be included in the General Education setting.  It is amazing what these learners can achieve when we give them the space to spread their wings!!!   As Paula Kluth would put it, "BURN THE CHAIR!!!".  This link will take you to an amazing blog about the 7 Tenets for Presuming Competence- a blog about HCPSS adopting Paula Kluth's way of thinking about students with Special Needs within our classrooms.  Click HERE! (but only after you read the rest of this.. freebie to follow...)

After school, I went to hang with some awesome teacher friends, where we ate pizza, chatted about too many random topics- including the silly things our students say such as, "I am going to marry the most beautiful woman in the world- Katy Perry" and exciting (?) stories about the kiddos coming into our grade this year.

After I got home, I hopped around reading some other fantastic teacher blogs, and decided I am going to give you all a Freebie to take with you today!  But only if you promise to come back again.. :)  I am calling these "No Tears Partner Cards" because I think they will make the process of assigning pairs for partner work easy, fun, silly, and painless!  All you have to do is print, laminate, and cut the cards out- voila! you have a tool you can keep for years to come to help you fairly assign partners. Click this link to my Teachers Pay Teachers store to download them!  Please leave me a comment or rating (or both!!) letting me know what you think! 

What do YOU do in your classroom to make sure you are assigning pairs fairly and differently each time? 

The crazy "chair burning teacher",
Miss McDonald   :)

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Back to School Read Alouds :)

Are you a Read Aloud loving teacher?  I am... and one thing I am super excited about doing more of this year is MORE Read Alouds with my students.  

I have found a few books I am looking forward to reading with my kiddos to build community, communicate the idea of tough love in a way they can understand, and show them how excited I am that they are back.

Drum roll please..........!!!

"Oh, the Places You'll Go!" by Dr. Seuss

Oh, the Places You'll Go!

I love this one (I do it every year) because I compare it to our school year and that it will be an adventure, and that sometimes it will be challenging, sometimes it will be fun, etc. and that if we persevere and always do our best, we will look back on it fondly! 

"You're Finally Here!"  by Melanie Watt


 I can't wait to read this to them the first day of school.  It is a silly story about this rabbit who has been waiting "forever" for them!  I want them to know that I am SO excited and glad that they are there!  

 "Have You Filled a Bucket Today?" by Carl McCloud

 This sounds like a great read to encourage them to lift each other up and not tear each other down!  (It's a lesson everyone of us can benefit from...)  

"No, David!" by David Shannon


I have a colleague who reads this every year to her students.  She uses it as a way to remind them that sometimes she will have to be tough on them, but that at the end of the day she loves them and wants the best for them!!  It's silly and the pictures are bright and funny looking, so I know they will love this one.  :)

What do YOU do to start the year off with?  What Read Alouds do you have to share?

~ Miss McDonald

Day 1, Post 2- Library Revamp part 1 and a new obsession!

Aside from becoming recently obsessed with the idea of blogging and meeting fantastic teachers from all around the country and the world, I am excited to share my current "change" to my Classroom Library with you!!

For the past 2 years, I have been struggling with how to know which of our books are checked out, and furthermore, what my students are reading, while making the library experience authentic and exciting for my kiddos.  I remember as a kid loving authentic-feeling experiences like playing office, or Secretary.  The things that made these role playing experiences so exciting were things like multi-line (unplugged) phones, old "Memo" sheets, and computer keyboards to make real typing sounds!  :) 

So this got me thinking.. what about using those old-fashioned library pockets in our Classroom Library books as a way to make this experience for them a bit different?  I found these awesome self-sticking manila pockets on  I was hoping to include the link, but the site is disabled for maintenance until the school year starts.  (I will add that later!) I put a pocket in the back of each book with a index card sized recording sheet for students to write "Borrowed" date and "Returned" date.

I also made these tiny labels so I didn't have to write my name in EVERY book! Plus, they are less sloppy than my handwriting. :)

What do you use to keep your library in order?

P.S.  How do I become more connected with other teacher bloggers?

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Day 1- Buffalo Chicken Ranch Burgers

So today is day one of my blogging life..... It is definitely something I am going to have to get used to!  It is weird having to remember to take pictures and document everything I am going to do... Just in case I want to "blog" about it!  Ryan, my boyfriend, works a good distance away so on the nights he works late, I tend to have to make dinner all alone.  Tonight's entree was Buffalo Chicken Burgers.  They were so easy and very tasty!  This makes 6 servings. Here is the recipe!

Buffalo Chicken Ranch Burgers

1 1/2 pounds extra lean ground chicken
1 tbsp. Hidden Valley Ranch dressing powder mix
3 tbsp. Frank's Red Hot Sauce
1/8 tsp salt
1/8 tsp fresh ground pepper

1. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl.  Mix until just combined.  Divide the mixture into 6 patties. (Each patty should weigh approximately 4oz.)

2 . Spray both sides of each patty with PAM.

 3. Grill 8-10 minutes until cooked through.   


 ENJOY!  If you follow Weight Watchers, I calculated these to be 3 points plus each.