Thursday, October 2, 2014

October Currently... from the West Coast!!!

Wow.. It's been 2 months since I last posted.  Life has been insane!! We have officially relocated and begun our lives here on the West Coast.  California is beautiful... but there really is no place like home.  I am blessed to have a great school community where I am teaching now.  However, I definitely have my days where I miss my old school and my MD people.  Time heals all.. at least that's what my mom always says. :) Anyway, on to my Currently... 

Listening....  Ryan and I are watching Modern Family as I write this... we love this show!  Always a good laugh.  Lately, I have been needing that.  

Loving...  The cool nights and sunny days of California.  Our apartment is always open!  I love it.  However, the sunny days could be a bit cooler... if I'm going to be picky... I miss the feeling of fall days!  

Thinking...  I could do one of these with my students on our class blog!  Yep, that's right!  Authentic, engaging writing experiences are coming to our class.. starting Monday!!!!

Wanting... more hours, fall clothes, and TOMs.

Needing... more sleep, more exercise, and yoga.  Since we moved I have been less than my best about running and going to yoga!  I miss my running buddies in MD. :(

Trick or treat...  Treats please!  Lately I have been loving York peppermint patties!  Anything chocolate and nuts or chocolate and caramel.. Yum!

I hope you enjoyed catching up a bit on my life... I sure have missed this blogging world.  What's "current" in YOUR world?  

~Miss McDonald :)

Thursday, July 10, 2014

2014-2015 Goal Setting

One thing I would like to get better at is setting reasonable goals for myself.. both personally and in my professional life.  I am realizing that I don't exactly handle stress well and my go-to way to handle it is to get super intense and try to hammer everything out at once...  Instead of creating lots of sub-goals to achieve along the way, I try to do it all at once... While still effective at getting jobs done, it's definitely not best for my overall health!

So.. in an attempt to turn over a new school year leaf, I am linking up with....Simones Math Resources 
 to set my goals for this year. :) Here they are!

All self explanatory, and while they may seem simple, I really think achieving them will leave me feeling successful and satisfied at the end of this school year..

On another note, I am trying to spread the word about my blog.. If you, or a bloggy friend you know, are hosting a series of Guest-Bloggers, please let me know!  I'd love to participate!  After guest-blogging for...

4 The Love of Teaching

I realized what a great way it is to network and meet other bloggers.. I am actually considering hosting one myself!  Let me know if you'd be interested!!  

Have a great day!
~Miss McDonald :) 

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Guest Posting at For the Love of Teaching!

Good Morning!!

I will not be posting on my own personal blog today.. I popped over to Lana at For the Love of Teaching to share some of what has worked for me when it comes to creating a community of students who WANT TO READ!! Interested?  Click the picture below!

See you over there! :)

~Miss McDonald :)

Sunday, July 6, 2014

July Currently.. and a Guest Post!

Today I am linking up with Oh' Boy 4th Grade for her July Currently.  Things have been crazy here in MD for our little family.. can you guess why?  Read my Currently and see if you can find a common theme...!  :)

listening... to Robert Irvine kick some butt!
loving... the weather here... It has been beautiful!  Low humidity, mid-high 70's, sunny and blue skies.. I think Maryland is begging us to stay..
thinking... about how drastically my life is about to change.. we are moving our entire life across country.. I just freak out thinking about it. 
wanting... this move to be over so we can settle and get used to where we are living.. that includes meeting my new classroom! :)  It is killing me that I can't buy anything for it yet! 
needing... a pedicure.. which I am getting tomorrow with a great friend of mine. :)
4th plans...we ate, sipped wine, played cornhole, and enjoyed the company of our great friends (who I am really going to miss)!

So... did you find the theme?  Have you moved long distances before?  Do you have any tips you can offer me?  We are headed from Maryland to California... aaahhh!

Also... I will be guest posting over at For the Love of Teaching on Wednesday all about READING!...  Make sure to stop over!  I will post the link into my post on Wednesday so you can stop by.
Happy Reading!
~Miss McDonald :)

Saturday, June 28, 2014

California Bloggy Meet-Up

Calling all California bloggers!  Do you live in the San Francisco Bay Area?  Or within driving distance of the Bay Area?  Would you like to get together and share great conversation and ideas with other teacher bloggers?

A blog meet-up.. possibly hosted by...



 Miss McDonald's Memoirs

The Traveling Teacher and I are considering getting a blog meet-up set up... but, finding Bay Area teachers would be the first task!  If you are interested, please comment below or email me at

I hope you have a fantastic Saturday!!! 

~Miss McDonald :) 

Friday, June 27, 2014

Five for Friday!

Today, I am linking up with Doodle Bugs Teaching for her Five for Friday Linky party!  This is the first time I have tried this... enjoy!!

For the past 4 days, I was in Kennett Square, PA attending a Responsive Classroom workshop.  I learned SO much about what it is, and that it is SO much more than behavior management!  When implemented, it is an integral part of the day.. even down to Teacher Language!  RC's main goal is to create students who are independent, self-aware, and self-monitoring.. without being paid to do so.  It's goal for the classroom is to create a joyful, caring, and positive community where students feel responsible for ensuring the environment stays positive, safe, and learning-filled. Having been at a school that used a PBIS system, I see huge differences and downfalls with PBIS in terms of creating independent learners who can self-monitor.  RC does not condone using rewards for students doing what they are supposed to do.. which is how I've felt for quite awhile!  I'm really excited to start it this year in my classroom.  For more information, visit their website:

What experience do you have with RC? I'd love to hear about it in the comments below!


I just started reading We Were Liars by E. Lockhart.  I am hoping it will be my next great read!

Ryan and I leave for the beach this Monday.. I am so excited to spend a few days just relaxing with my love!  We always have so much fun together.. Even when we're doing nothing! I'd say that's a sign of what's to come in our life! :)

Moving!  It hit me today that this will be our last month in Maryland before we take the big leap and relocate to California... When I really let it sink in, I feel anxious, excited, sad, nervous, happy, curious, etc!  It's a rush of emotions.. So much unknown.. but my motto for the past few months has been... YOLO

This is what I've been watching today.. nothing like a throw back to being 12 year old! ;)  Leo and Kate have some SERIOUS chemistry! 

What have you been up to?  I'd love to hear from you!  I am hoping to post a Responsive Classroom inspired freebie as soon as I reach 40 followers... Can you help? Have a great Friday!!!

~Miss McDonald :)

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Summer time and Lessons Learned

WAHOO!  After teaching almost the entire month of June, we are finally out for the summer!  Our last day of school was June 20... The end of the year was odd for me this year.. because not only was I never going to see those kiddos again, but I'd never be a teacher at the school again... :(

It has been great sleeping in the past 2 days.. but tomorrow I hit the ground running with a Responsive Classroom course that is 4 days long, 8:00am-3:30pm.  Does it ever end?  I'm beginning to believe that it really doesn't!  Does your school district/county use the Responsive Classroom?  I have never had any experience with it in the classroom.. but the district I am teaching in starting next year does... and I am excited to learn about it!

So, anyway.. the point of today's post is to share with you what I learned about myself and teaching after the hardest year of my career thus far..  Here goes!

1)  Remain steadfast in high expectations-  this year, the group of kiddos I had could be classified as challenging.. but what I saw happen as the year progressed, was their will to be challenged, held to, and praised for reaching the high expectations that were set for them.. In the end, many of them were able to set high learning outcomes and expectations for themselves! 

2)  Hugs can mean the world- this one's pretty straight can change the entire course of the day..I gave out A LOT of these this year..

3) Consistency, consistency, consistency!- I learned early on this year that the rules are the rules, and our behavior hierarchy is the same.. no matter if you are a first or fifth time offender.. simple things like wearing a hat, or calling out.. I had to stay consistent with the expectation, or I would lose my credibility!

For example, one rule in our classroom helps to ensure that our transition times are efficient..after giving a direction and beginning to count down to give them time to follow the direction, if I get to zero and kiddos aren't settled I start counting up.. and every second is a minute off recess. 

After counting down to zero one day, I had one boy say to me, "You said each second is a minute. I took less than a second to get to my seat."  to which I replied, "You took a half second, I'll see you for a half a minute of your recess."  I learned in that moment that these were smart little 4th graders who needed to know that there was no argument good enough to get them out of following the rules... even if it is "just a hat" or "just shut-up".. which leads me to my next..

4) Kids CAN go an entire year without saying suck, shut-up, or stupid-  my team and I met over the summer to prepare for these kiddos, and one of the things we felt strongly about was setting the bar high for the types of language they can use during the school day.  I started the year out by explaining to them that there are "3 S-words" we will never ever say in our classroom.. I told them I was going to say them this one time so we all know them, and then they would never be said again!  They got the message that if those are unacceptable, than anything worse MUST be unacceptable..

5) Tough love - that's my teaching style.. similar to the authoritative parenting style.. and I'm alright with it..!! Haven't met a kid yet that it doesn't work for.. :)

In a nutshell, I learned that your kids can do anything they set their minds to if they believe you truly care about them... REALLY!  Sometimes, it just takes some convincing and setting the bar high on our part... What did you learn this year?

~Miss McDonald :)

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

May Currently and Some News!!

Happy May!! This just so happens to be my favorite month... it's my birthday month! Actually, yesterday was my birthday!!! But.. who's counting?  I had a realization: I am closer to 30 than I am 20.  CRAZYYYY!  Things have been wild around here in Maryland.  Our teacher evaluations deadline just passed.... which meant artifacts and data galore to prove proficient or distinguished overall.  BLAH! Exhausting.  Does anyone else have to collect artifacts throughout the year to prove themselves as a teacher?  Oy vey..

Lots of exciting things have been happening amidst all of the teaching craziness.  My boyfriend of 6 years and I GOT ENGAGED!!!  He proposed May 10, 2014... It was the best day of my entire life thus far.. it felt like a dream! (My Marathon is a close second..)   Here's proof it actually happened!!!!

In addition to all of that, we are moving to beautiful California at the end of July.  It is the biggest life change I have ever made... I didn't even go to out of state college... Aahh!  YOLO.. isn't that what they say?

Anywho, here is my May Currently.. almost too late, but not!  :)

Listening... LOVE this show!  I especially love hearing Ryan cracking up laughing at it.. :)
Loving... this one's self explanatory based on my introduction.. ;)
Thinking... I need to stay focused... almost done!
Wanting... all of the details of our move to be worked out.. which is why summertime will be so wonderful.  I will have time to help Ryan handle it all!
Needing... class gift ideas.. I always like to do something that involves a picture.. ideas? Ready... go!
Surprise....! My favorite number is 11, so I chose #11 from Oh Boy 4th Grade's May Currently.. I LOVE her end of year Letter to My Teacher document.. and BONUS- it's FREE!  Show her some love in the form of.. downloads! :)  Here's her button.. go visit! :) 

I can't wait to hear your ideas for end of year gifts and any California bloggers, leave me some love! 
Happy Tuesday!
~Miss McDonald :)

Thursday, April 3, 2014

April Currently... What's been happening!

Happy April! In like a lion, out like a lamb.. Couldn't have been a more perfect description for the weather around here.. We had SO much snow so late!  But... warm weather is here, and I'm thinking it's going to last.. which leads me to my next thought.. SPRING BREAK!  1 week away!

Are you as overwhelmed and ready for Spring Break as I am?  Let's be honest... We all love our kiddos, but sometimes you just have to accept that you need a break... and I'm not ashamed to say it!  This year has been a huge year of change for our county... New evaluations, a new grade for me, new curriculum (Math and Reading), very little professional development that's actually helpful, a new Principal in January... the list could go on! So much change in so little time!  With that change has come extreme exhaustion, and a teacher that's very ready for Spring Break!  Ryan and I are going to SAN FRANCISCO!!! I can't wait!  We are going to do lots of things while we are there.. Including visiting wine country, Alcatraz, and more!  I am SO excited!

I am excited to share a few things with you.... first being my April Reading Challenge... I love it, and my kids love it!  I set the bar pretty high this time around, but I am confident my readers can reach it with a little hard work and dedication!Their task is to read for 15 minutes 25 nights.  Each raindrop is worth 15 minutes, and each raindrop must be initialed in order to count!  Once they have raindrops initialed, they can cut and glue them onto their clouds page... Next month will have something to do with April Showers bring May.... Can you guess it? ;)

Next is my April Currently.. I am linking up with Farley from Oh' Boy 4th Grade

Listening... to Modern Family.  I love it!  It is the only show (other than The Bachelor/Bachelorette, and Downton Abbey) that I watch every week!  Cam and Phil are my favorites.. I laugh out loud multiple times every time I watch it... It's true.. laughter is the best medicine! (mixed with a little glass of wine!!)

Loving... that tomorrow is Friday!  This weekend my book club is getting together.  I am so excited!  We have so much fun together.. Full of ridiculous school stories and laughter!  

Thinking... I need to grade this dang stack of papers!  Pretty self-explanatory.. 

Wanting...  a new Spring wardrobe!  My clothing budget just isn't large enough.. and on top of that, I haven't had any time to shop!  I am also in need of some new TOM's... they are my go to school/work shoe!  Comfortable, fashionable and they really go with just about anything.. minus a skirt/dress! (unless they're the crocheted ones..!)

Needing... more time.. The snow days this year really screwed me up!  I feel like we just can't catch up!  Which leads me to...

Hours and last day... our school year has been extended to end June 20.. AH!  Talk about going way into the summer months!  Although, I will be thankful for the extra instructional time.  

How is your pre-spring break time going?  What are you doing to keep yourself  from losing it?  I'd love to hear it!!  

~Miss McDonald

Monday, March 17, 2014

March- In like a lion, out like a.... Reading Challenge?

As March ticks by here in Maryland, I believe we have experienced all 4 seasons without having to travel anywhere!  It went from 60 degrees on Saturday to cool on Sunday to 7 inches of snow today!  Which means today is a... snow day! AHH another one!  At this rate, we will be in school through July 1st! 

As you probably noticed, the last time I blogged was December 15, 2013... exactly 3 months ago.  I think I have been subconsciously avoiding my blog because I am embarrassed at how quickly I lost steam with it..  But I decided today to woman up and get back on the blogging horse!  I love the community it brings, and there's something so exciting about being a part of the action.

I have found that this school year, due to being such a difficult one filled with SO much change, it is easy to make excuses for things.  I am making an effort to stop doing that!  I love  teaching.. that is what my heart's passion is.

 Today I am sharing with you a fun Made-It that involves motivating my students to read!  I call them "Reading Challenges", and each month has a new theme.  Some months there is a reward for completing the challenge, and others is bragging rights.  I am trying to help them learn to read for enjoyment and not for a Pizza Hut certificate, prize, etc. 

Each night, they are to read 15 minutes and have a parent initial.  Each token on their pot of gold is worth 15 minutes of reading time. 

 My kiddos love getting their reading challenge at the beginning of each month.  For April, I am thinking rain drops and umbrellas, sunshine... Do you have any ideas?

Next on my list for today is these delicious Chocolate Chocolate Chip Banana Muffins from Skinnytaste.. but I think I will make it in a loaf form instead of muffins.. And Omit the sugary glaze..  YUM! Click the picture to be taken to the Recipe!

I hope you have a great week. Thanks for staying loyal!  I promise I am going to work on being a better blog-girl! :)

Miss McDonald :)