Saturday, June 27, 2015

Sequel Saturday

There is nothing like finishing a good book
& finding out it has a sequel! 
Even better if it's part of a series!
Sequel Saturday celebrates second place,
the books that come behind great books.
So grab a cup of coffee, cozy up on the couch,
& read on about your favorite book's younger siblings.
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Welcome to the first post in my Sequel Saturday series!

Today I want to share two sequels I'm currently reading and enjoying very much. The first in each of these series prompted a swift detour form my summer reading list and a rushed order from Barnes and Noble :)

The Variant Series by Robison Wells
I found Variant at the Scholastic Warehouse Sale back in May. It is a fast paced story about Benson Fisher, a boy who has spent his life bouncing from foster home to foster home, until he receives a scholarship to Maxfield Academy. Benson thinks this will be the point in his life when things finally start to turn around... boy was he wrong. Now he is trapped in a school determined to teach him nothing useful and monitor his every move. Maxfield Academy has no adults and the students have formed gangs in order to stay alive. Detention = death in this stunning debut novel. Feedback picks up right where Variant leaves off and proves to be equally riveting!

The Eighth Day Series by Dianne K. Salerni
I ordered the Eighth Day from my classroom Scholastic Reading Club flyer at the end of the school year. It's about 13-year old, and newly orphaned, Jax waking up one morning to a world without people. The following day everyone's back and Jax is left feeling crazy. But with the help of his guardian Jax learns that he is part of a select group of people who have the power to experience a magical Eighth Day, an extra 24 hours between Wednesday and Thursday. The story is exciting and rooted in Arthurian legend and magic! It was a big hit in my classroom and I'm sure the sequel will not disappoint!

Check back soon for full reviews on all books featured here!

What are you reading this summer?
Happy reading :)

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Taco Tuesday - Overnight Cold Oatmeal!

It's time once again for...
This week I want to share my favorite quick breakfast recipe. Mornings in my house are hectic... trying to get myself ready for work and 3 little boys dressed and off to school means that I don't have time for breakfast. Usually I end up grabbing something super unhealthy, smothered in chocolate, and loaded with carbs...

I found a recipe online somewhere for Overnight Cold Oats and over time I adapted it a little. It is now my go to breakfast every morning!

This is easy to prepare at night after the kids go to bed. It only takes me about 15 minutes and I  usually make 3 at a time. It's a simple recipe and just requires you to mix the ingredients together! The "magic" happens overnight in the refrigerator... The chia seeds soak up the liquid in the jar, making a thick, cold, creamy oatmeal!

Just start with a glass mason jar, add the ingredients, mixing along the way, then cover and refrigerate overnight! (I found the plastic screw-on lids for mason jars at Wal-Mart). The best part about this recipe is that you can change up the flavors however you want! I've used many different flavors of Greek yogurt and different combos of fresh fruit. I like to put a lot of fruit in mine (strawberries are the best)!

Check out the full recipe and some of the flavor combinations I have tried:

Have a great recipe you'd like to share? It could be an original recipe, an old family favorite, or a great Pinterest/cookbook find. Post about it on your blog and link it back here (Click HERE to download the Taco Tuesday Logo for your post)!

I can't wait to see what you're cooking up in the kitchen this week!

ENJOY, and thanks for linking up!

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

The First Taco Tuesday Linkup!

Summer for teachers means more time for blogging! Summer gives us time to spend with our families, reflect on our teaching, and RELAX. And I can't think of a better way to relax than with FOOD.
This summer I want to build upon my stash of recipes for the school year (planning weeknight meals is my kryptonite). 

SO, without further ado I welcome you to...
Since this is the first Taco Tuesday I felt it appropriate to begin with a taco/nacho recipe! (While Mexican food is amazing... Recipes do not have to be Mexican themed to share)

This is a basic nacho meat recipe that is quick and easy to prep and can be served multiple ways.  I like to make a batch on the weekend and serve it up several different ways during the week! I store the meat a tupperware container in the fridge for up to a week.
My favorite is with shredded cheese and tortilla chips!

I like my nachos spicy! When I make this I use HOT taco seasoning and HOT salsa. The best part is that you can customize the level of "hotness" to suit your tastebuds.

Have a great recipe you'd like to share? It could be an original recipe, an old family favorite, or a great Pinterest/cookbook find. Post about it on your blog and link it back here (Click HERE to download the Taco Tuesday Logo for your post)!

I can't wait to see what you're cooking up in the kitchen!

Thanks for linking up!

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Walking up the "Summer Slide" one book at a time...

We've all been there before... That daunting task of getting students to read over summer vacation. As teachers we know how important summer reading is to help combat the "summer slide" that takes place over the months of July and August. Reading during the summer helps improve and retain literacy and language skills. Studies show that students who don't read or read rarely over the summer experience a decline or stagnation in their reading skills when school starts in the fall.

We don't want all the hard work done over the course of a school year to unravel at the beach or by the pool. We need to keep kids engaged in learning opportunities throughout the summer. Sounds simple enough, but how can we compete with the attraction of the great outdoors, sports, video games, and trips to the beach?

The answer is to keep reading FUN! We need to make reading as exciting as a pool party or the latest video game. Here are some tips for keeping reading fun and fresh throughout the summer:

  1. Use technology to your advantage! Most families I know have an iPad or tablet and kids love to use them. There are some awesome interactive ebooks out there that will keep kid's attention. LeapFrog has some great ebooks for younger kids to use with their LeapPads. There are also some great sites out there that will help keep students engaged in literacy and language activities. RAZ Kids provides students with leveled texts that they can read themselves, have read to them, and even record themselves reading. They also complete quizzes after each book to earn points used to dress up their avatar. Storyline Online is a video database of favorite children's books read to you by celebrities. One of my favorites is Thank You Mr. Faulkner, by Patricia Polacco. It may be a picture book, but it's a good story perfect for 4th-5th graders. This book has a strong message about bullying and acceptance. Check out the Storyline video for this great book below:
  2. Find new and interesting books! There is nothing more detrimental to a struggling reader than a boring book! To keep kids engaged you need to find out what they are interested in. Then search around to find books that are just the right fit. Throughout my 9 years teaching I've come across two very reluctant readers. Each one was considered a "troublemaker", did not care about their school work, and did not have any support at home. Instead of writing them off I guided them to read My Side of the Mountain, by Jeanne Craighead George (I based this on their love of the outdoors). The results were magical! Instead of being a distraction to the class with their usual shenanigans they had their noses in that book 24/7. Their classwork started to improve, homework was getting done, and their overall outlook on school changed. They were all the proof I needed that the right book in the right hands can be a game changer. Here are some great books, old and new, that might help grab the attention of your reluctant reader:
  3. Create a climate for reading! Students need to see you read! Simple as that. We all have busy lives and often think "Who has time to read for pleasure?" But how can we expect our children and students to read when we don't? Kids need to know that their teachers and parents read for fun. Seeing adults read creates positive role models for students and helps create a community of readers in your school (or home). I know it's tempting to sit and correct papers or wash the dishes while your students/children read independently but fight that urge! I bring in a book from home and read while my students do. They often ask me about what I'm reading and we'll have impromptu discussions about our books. Here's what I'm looking forward to this summer...
  4. Celebrate reading accomplishments! Every year our students in CT are asked to complete the Governor's Summer Reading Challenge. Mostly it's a pamphlet where students list all the books they read over the summer. It's cute, but alone it does not provide any incentive for students to read. At our school students get 1 inch of duct tape for ever book they read. Then, the use their duct tape to tape a teacher to the wall during lunch. It's fun, but it's not a huge motivator. I know a lot of schools that have great reading celebrations when school starts in the fall and I'm hoping that our school will soon too. This year I created a points system for summer reading that I will have my incoming students use. They get points for reading in various setting and for reading various types of text. During the first week of school they will count up their points and trade them in for a reward or celebration (I'm still working out what that will be...) Click on the image below to get this activity for your classroom: 

Good luck to teachers and parents everywhere as we battle to defeat the "summer slide"!
I'd love to hear how you keep your students engaged in summer reading. Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Have a GREAT summer!

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Currently June

I seriously can't believe it's June already! We're in the home stretch! School's out for us June 17th!
So, I guess it's time to start thinking about summer with Farley and this month's Currently:

LOVING... my new "Teacherpreneur" Planner! I recently purchased some clipart from The 3AM Teacher on Etsy and she sent me a free gift, the complete HELLO Planner! I picked the pages I wanted, printed them off, and took them over to Staples to be spiral bound (only cost me $4.97)!!
The end result is a super cute and very functional planner for all my blogging and TpT-ing adventures.

I had no idea Staples could bind books for you so quickly and cheaply! I've made my own lesson planning pages for years now and have always hated carting around a clunky binder. I will definitely be getting it spiral bound in the fall!!

Click on the image below to head on over the The 3AM Teacher's shop on Etsy.

THINKING... about a Disney trip this fall. Possibly without the kids to celebrate our 10 year anniversary (wow time has flown by!)! My husband and I have never been on a solo vacation and the idea is soooooo tempting. However I would feel so guilty going to Disney without the boys... DILEMMA!

WANTING... my nose to feel better. My adorable, sweet, loving toddler head-butted me over the weekend. Waiting to hear back from the doctor to see if there is a fracture... LOL, the joys of parenthood!

NEEDING... more time! Like always!

SUMMER LOVIN... time to plan and prep for another grade level next year! We got our teaching assignments today and it looks like I'm moving... again! 5th move in 10 years (all in the same little school). Back to 5th grade I go!

I hope you all have a great end to your school years!!