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.