Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Tasty Tuesday:Comfort Food Edition

Today I am starting a brand new series: Tasty Tuesday: Easy Meals for the Busy Teacher! I am not sure I will do it EVERY Tuesday, but I will try to share as many recipes as I can!

My first recipe is one of my favorites to throw together when I want some good old comfort food without the work: meatloaf! Mmmmm!  And my husband said it is his favorite version of meatloaf, so double win!

I am so not a food photographer, so um, sorry about that.  You are going to see the "real deal!"

I got this recipe from Jill at Meet the Dubiens.  I can't take any credit for the actual recipe.  Fun side note: I am pretty sure that Jill is Jennifer Runde's sister from Runde's Room!  Small world, right?

So let's get to the nitty gritty. Let's talk about the upside and downside of this recipe.

Upside: It is a fix it and leave it meal.  As in, prepare it, put it in the oven, and then go and do your thing while it cooks.  You don't have to babysit it.  
Downside: Cooking time is an hour.  Boo.

Let's Get Started:

The Meatloaf
The ingredients are ridiculously easy.

•2 lb. (900 g) lean ground beef
•1 pkg. (120 g) Stove Top Stuffing Mix for Chicken
•1 cup water
•2 eggs, beaten
•1/2 cup Kraft Original BBQ Sauce, divided

1.) Basically, dump it all in a bowl and  mix it together.  I just use my hands. I took a picture, but raw meat is kinda yucky looking so I decided to save everybody the yuckiness. :D
2.) Press it into a dish- I use a loaf pan. And, well that is it.

Easy Sides:

Jill also suggested baking new potatoes and it is brilliantly easy.

•1 bag of baby potatoes
•olive oil
•salt, pepper and seasonings of your choice

1.) Cover a baking pan with tin foil and spray with Pam.
2.) Wash the new potatoes and slice in half.  
3.) Then, put all the potatoes in a gallon size bag.  Add about a tablespoon of olive oil and seasoning.  I used salt and the garlic spread in the picture.  I got it at Costco! Shake the potatoes in the bag.
4.) Pour the potatoes onto the baking pan.

Put both the meatloaf and the potatoes in the oven at 375 degrees for an hour. 

I usually put a can of peas or green beans in a saucepan on the top of the stove.  That way I can do the dishes and pick up the house while it all cooks at the SAME time.  

SO easy!  And yummy! Want a printable copy of this recipe?  Click below!

I hope this post gave you an easy recipe for your weeknight crazies!  If you would like more ideas from me, be sure to follow me on Teachers Pay Teachers, Pinterest, and Facebook to catch all the freebies and ideas and more!

Sunday, October 4, 2015

5 Tips for Making the Most of Your Read Aloud

I love, love, love reading aloud to kids. I miss it more than I would have imagined.  Now, I do get to pop into my preschooler’s classroom and be the mystery reader every so often.  That is pretty wonderful!

Schedules are so tight nowadays, and more and more is being crammed onto your plate.  How can you get the most out of this precious time?

1.)    Choose your book carefully.
I always tried to choose books that I could pull into another content area.  It was nice to tie in a bit of science or social studies.  For example, Flat Stanley is a great read aloud during your map unit.  Looking to expand kid’s vocabulary?  Check out My Father’s Dragon.  So fun and lots of words for kids to learn!

2.)    Choose your time carefully.
We all know that certain times of the day are like wasted, black holes.  Settling in from recess? Stinky, sweaty time suck.  Coming in from lunch? Noisy, loud and often drama filled in the upper grades. Packing up at the end of the day?  Book bag and paper chaos! Schedule your read aloud during these times to force students to settle down and listen carefully. This is a great “transition” activity for students.  It is also a motivator- most kids LOVE being read to will hurry to get to the next chapter. 

3.)    Model, model, model.
Reading aloud is the perfect time for modeling fluency and sneaking in a think aloud. Change your voice to match the characters, lower your voice during serious moments, and watch your kids get sucked in.

This is a perfect opportunity for students to discuss and debate with higher level text.  Many student’s listen comprehension is WELL above their own reading comprehension.  Capitalize on this! Have students explain their thinking and predict what they think will happen next.  I don’t know about you, but I love to talk about a good book with my girlfriends! Encourage your kids to do so, too!

4.)    Let it be the "gateway drug."
You know, a happy, not-illegal, gateway to fun times and learning. Find a fantastic series you know your kids would love?  Read the first one, and watch your kids get hooked! This is especially a great practice at the beginning of the year.  First of all, most students don’t have a long attention span. You will want to choose shorter books – and many of these they can read on their own. Secondly, it gives kids a “bank” of desirable books for their book boxes.

5.)    Use it to maximize your reading mini lesson.
Consider using your reading aloud time to read aloud the mentor text for your reading mini lesson.  This can keep your mini lessons, well, mini while still using authentic text. This can be especially effective strategy if you are “between” chapter book for your read aloud, and aren’t ready to start a new one.

Looking for some suggestions for read alouds?  Check these out!

Does that sound about right?  How do you get the most out of your read aloud?

I hope this post gave you some awesome new pages to follow!  If you would like more ideas from me, be sure to follow me on Teachers Pay Teachers, Pinterest, and Facebook to catch all the freebies and ideas and more!

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

6 Tips for Leaving School Earlier

Some of my past coworkers reading this are going to do a double take.  Say what?  Mandy Gregory, Queen of Working Late, is writing a post about leaving school early?  Who is writing this post and where have they taken our Mandy?

Well, I am still here.

I figured the reason I could write this post is because there were a few days I left early...although mostly I did leave late.  Like, almost always, truthfully. I am blogging about what I did DIFFERENTLY on the days I left early. Make sense? Here we go!

1.) Set a timer.

I had a magnetic oven timer that I used for a variety of things.  It was usually next to my guided reading table or on the whiteboard. I found one for really cheap at WalMart.  If I had to be somewhere, but had a few things to finish up first, I used the oven timer.  It made me more aware of time and more accountable to myself for how I used my time.  No more just hanging out eating M&M's and popcorn and cutting lamination. Not that I have ever done that.  FYI: Peanut M&M's and popcorn are to die for! LOL!

2.) Keep a running lists.
Sometimes I flew by the seat of my pants after school.  I kept a "mental list" of what needed to be done.  I hated it.  When I did this, I usually wasted time on menial tasks, rather than the biggies.  When I kept an-up-to-date-written-down-list of all the important to do's, I was much more effective.  It made it easier to figure out what was a priority and had to be finished first. Writing the list down helped me remember what needed to be done.  Besides, marking things off is such a nerdy high I loved!

This goes hand in hand with keeping an accurate calendar. I was good about writing most things on my school calendar  I kept.   However, if I didn't have it with me, I tending to forget to write things down.  Always take your calendar to EVERY meeting (from IEP, to RTI, to staff meetings) and keep only ONE master calendar for yourself at school.   If my calendar was current, it usually helped to guide my to do list for when specific paperwork was due.

3.) Shut your door.
Got a chatty co-worker?  Or a few? Do they like to come "hang out and chat" for a bit after school? Yeah, this can be a problem.  My problem was that I was the chatty co-worker! LOL! Oopsie! I found if I shut my door, it forced me focus on JUST my classroom and what needed to get done...rather than running things to the office, copy room, see what Heather was doing (love ya, girl) etc. 

Sometimes your chatty co-workers ( I may have done this a time or two) will be obvious and barge right through your closed door.  That is when you go to a Code Red: Lock your door, turn off the lights, and get busy.

4.) Errand box/ area
I was a *bit* distractible after school.  I would run around like a chicken with my head cut off dropping things off, but would invetiable forgot SOMETHING.  Copy paper?  Oops.  Pen?  Opps. Papers that needed to go to the office?  Oopsie Daisy!

I have blogged about this area before. It was a huge help- when I used it of course! LOL!  This set of stackers was RIGHT beside the door of the classroom.  Anything that needed to be returned (paperwork, library books, etc) went in the top basket, copies to be made went in the bottom basket and anything else in the middle basket.  I tried to check it whenever I left the room.

A friend of mine kept a tub.  Anytime she needed a copy of something, she slipped the amster into the tub.  She put any construction paper, items that needed lamination, and anything that needed to be done all in one place.  She made copies once a week and took the entire tub with her.  It was very smart.

5.) Keep it clean!
I didn't really work at my desk.  It actually tended to hold my laptop.  I generally worked at my guided reading table.  I tried to make a habit of cleaning of my guided reading table at the end of the day.  It was always overwhelming to walk in the next day with a cluttered table.  Things tend to get lost in piles, so make a habit of clearing it off each day.  You can do this as the kids are packing up at the end of the day or while they are playing magic trash.

6.) Use some child labor!
I am not talking about opening a sweatshop or anything crazy like that.   I am just saying, use your resources.  You have happy helpers are around you!  Use them!  Students used to file papers for me to send home in Friday Folders. This was a "treat" for students that finished morning work early.  Every Friday, a responsible fifth grader that was a previous student would come down and stuff all the Friday Folders for us. I even had kids that were mature enough to handle "big" scissors cut out lamination for me.

Have you guys seen Blair Turner Paper?  Her stuff is GORGEOUS! She has some of the BEST notepads for getting organized!!!!

To help you get out the door a little faster each afternoon, I am giving away a $25 gift certificate to Blair Turner Paper! Yahoo!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Did I miss any tips? Are you able to leave school at a reasonable time?

I hope this post gave some tips and tricks!  If you would like more ideas from me, be sure to follow me on Teachers Pay Teachers, Pinterest, and Facebook to catch all the freebies and ideas and more!

Monday, September 28, 2015

Magic Die: Simple Math Trick

Today I am over at the Primary Peach sharing about one of my most favorite math tricks!

It is quick, easy, and only takes one die! Your kids will LOVE it- and practice mental math as a bonus!

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Sharing Sunday: October Goodies and Freebies

Ya'll.  I just CANNOT believe October is around the corner!  This is so crazy to me!  October is a busy time at our house- the usual ramping up for the holidays and my beautiful first born will turn FIVE.  Where has the time gone?!

I could just eat her up.

So, with October around the corner, you are probably looking for some MORE fabulous fun freebies and resources!  I have searched all afternoon and found some goodies for you!

Lucky for you, this is part of a series and even MORE people are participating.  Make sure you check the bottom of this post for even more resources and freebies!  Yahoo for goodies on a Sunday!

It is going to be good.

Okay, maybe not so good that your lessons write themselves.  But, still pretty good! LOL!

Let's get this party started! Make sure to click on the pictures to get your freebies!  It will take you to another pdf file, click again on the pictures to get your stuff!


October is a great time to move into informational text! You can read about all kinds of creepy crawlies and celebrate the season, without being to overtly in Halloween stuff. Gail Gibbons also has a moon and an owl book, which would be appropriate for this time of year, too! The book I Need My Monster is a MUST read! I have an entire reading and writing unit all about this precious book.  I am going to try to share it soon!


It was always addition time in my classroom around October.  Make  sure to click on the picture to get your freebies.  The kids always loved making the "spooky" fact family houses.  It was a great review before diving into  double digit addition.

We also did a little monster measurement!  You can read about that here!

Centers and Printables
There are two, never been shared before freebies above! Eek!  Enjoy!

Make sure to head back to the Primary Peach for MORE October fun and freebies!

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

10 Must Follow Upper Grades Teachers on Facebook

A few days ago I shared my 10 Must Follow Primary Teachers.  Today I am going to share my 10 Must Follow Upper Grade Teachers!  AND I am going to include a little bonus, too!

I have to confess- I recently read a blog post by Emily at Education to the Core.  She highlighted 15 amazing teachers to follow on Facebook!  I thought it was a fantastic idea!

Most of the pages she highlighted were very young primary grades (PreK -1st).  I thought I would do a similar post, focusing on the upper grades!  Make sure to check out Emily's blog- it is amazing!

Here are all the Facebook pages, in no particular order!

Now, for a little BONUS!  I love these two pages!  Most of the information on these pages applies to SEVERAL grades, so I had a hard time figuring where they "fit." So I am just adding them in as  awesome BONUS PAGES!  LOL!


I hope this post gave you some awesome new pages to follow!  If you would like more ideas from me, be sure to follow me on Teachers Pay Teachers, Pinterest, and Facebook to catch all the freebies and ideas and more!

Monday, September 21, 2015

Apple Round Up!

Johnny Appleseed's birthday is Saturday, September 26th! Wouldn't it be great to do a "special day" focused all around Mr. Chapman and apples?

Here are a bunch of resources to get you started!

Check out these awesome books all about apples and Johnny Appleseed.

Reading and Writing

 Read about the life of Johnny Appleseed and use it is an opportunity to practice asking and answering questions. 

These apples with questions are a part of my Johnny Appleseed reading and writing lesson and craft.

Students can then create this cute little peek over craft after writing about Johnny Appleseed.  here are some super sweet examples C is for Cookies, Cakes, Children, Classroom and Crafts shared on her blog.

I also have this freebie for reading.  

Students create a pocket and mini book about Johnny Appleseed and then answer questions from the story.

Apples lend themselves perfectly to graphing!

I have this FREE apple graphing unit available.

Students create an apple glyph and then graph the information from the glyph. This is a great introduction to bar graphs!

These photos are super sad- it was a busy day, but you can get the idea! LOL! #teachingintherealworld #sorrynotsorry

My cross-curricular Johnny Appleseed Interactive Notebook also has several math pages for addition, telling time, and more graphing practice.

Johnny Appleseed is a perfect time to tie in the seasons and life cycles.  We created this anchor chart to show what we already know about the seasons.

Then we added on to show what we wanted to know and what we learned after reading the Gail Gibbons book, Seasons of Arnold's Apple Tree and the Brainpop Jr. video.

We also made this stand up cutie craft to illustrate the four seasons.

You can get a free copy of it here!

I hope this post gave you some new resources and ideas!  If you would like more ideas from me, be sure to follow me on Teachers Pay Teachers, Pinterest, and Facebook to catch all the freebies and ideas and more!