Tuesday, July 31, 2012


I've had my screen open to blog tonight for almost 20 minutes. I've just had my eyes glued to the television watching the women's gymnastic finals! Then, they did a little special on my girl Jordyn Wieber.. cue the water works. Sheesh! These Olympians have found the fast track to my heart. When the cameras pan to their families and their reactions after their race or competition, I feel a twinge of excitement as well. I'm practically the adopted sister these Olympians never had... Now, I'm getting ahead of myself. 

This morning, I woke up at the butt-crack of dawn (pardon me, but it was early) and was rip roaring and ready to go! I worked like a busy beaver in my classroom and left around 2:00. Around 2:30, I passed out on the couch like a sleepy cat. Apparently, I'm out of teacher-shape. 

One of the projects I completed today was a fancy way to display student work in the hallway. To start the project, I picked up a package of cheap black frames from Dollar General a few months ago. I spray painted them and coated each frame with a spray glitter to add a touch of sparkle. 

Today, I hot glued cork behind each frame and hot glued the frames to the wall outside my room. After all of that hot glue, I had strings of glue all over me. If I was on Craft Wars, they would have given me the boot. Because, as Tori Spelling often reminds contestants, "the judges hate glue strings." After I cleared away a fraction of the glue strings, I added the heading, "Frameworthy Work!"

I've saved a lot of money on classroom decoration by using my cricut. Instead of buying punch-out letters from the teacher store, I just cut them with my cricut.  

I wish I could apologize for the dinky cell phone picture, but my camera was accessible... it was just outside... in my car. Do you know how hot it is? Yes, it's 103 degrees. I thought for a nano second about walking outside, and decided against it. Quickly.

Now, the outside of my classroom is ready to hang stellar student work. I just need to transform the inside into a classroom again. Tomorrow, I'm back for round two!

Back in Action!

It's here! Today's the day that I get to head back into my classroom and begin the slow process of making it a fully functioning classroom again. Can you tell I'm excited? It's 6:57 AM. I've been awake since 6:30 with no alarm clock. I considered going back to sleep when I remembered that I get to open my purchase order package when I get to school. My heart skipped a beat and I was instantly wide awake. Yikes! I'm a nerd. 

I'm incredibly thankful to be walking into the same classroom for the second year in a row. Check out the mess I had on my hands last year after day one:

Empty cabinets and shelves and junk everywhere! This year, my cabinets are full and I even have a few bulletin boards done. My calendar is even set for August! It's a wonderful feeling not having to start from scratch.

I'm going to carry my excitement into the kitchen and make some breakfast, watch Olympics highlights, and dust off the 'ol school key.

Happy Tuesday!

Friday, July 27, 2012


Happy Friday, folks! My DVR is set to record the oh-so-amazing Opening Ceremony of the 2012 Olympics. I'll be watching it a few days late (oops), but still watching! I can't wait to spend the next 12 days decorating my classroom (YES!) and watching the Olympics simultaneously. Sounds heavenly if you ask me. Now, here's a little peak at what I've been up to the past week or two via Instagram. 

I caught up with two lovely ladies at Pi Pizza at the Loop in St. Louis. It was lovely chatting about Emylie's recent engagement, Amy's new home, and our new school years approaching. 

On Sunday afternoon, my bf and I went to Bailey's Range for lunch. It's a yummy burger joint in downtown St. Louis. I stuffed my face with a buffalo chicken sandwich, french fries, and pretzels. All homemade! 

For lunch, I made myself a little pizza bagel. I topped an everything bagel with pizza sauce, mozzarella cheese, and turkey pepperoni. I popped the bagel in the oven at 375 for about 10 minutes. It was delicious. 

Yesterday, I met a friend at a local cupcakery in town. I gorged myself in a red velvet cupcake. I will definitely be visiting Mad Hatter Cupcakes again. 

Chip has been spending a few days at mi casa. He kept me company while I enjoyed my morning bagel on the front porch. Then, it rained for 10 minutes then spiked to 95 degrees. Gotta love Missouri! 

I snagged this swell little stamp for $1.00 at Michaels! I plan on using it on practically everything this year.
How adorable is this guy? BDE sure knows how to relax on the job, doesn't it? I'm a lucky aunt!

P.S. Have you seen the new Target commercials about school supplies? I'm obsessed with all of them. I'm considering having these play on a constant loop at Meet the Teacher night. (Just kidding...)

life rearranged

Thursday, July 26, 2012

2012 Olympic Games!

I am so unbelievably excited for the Olympics. I have always loved the summer games. I have fond memories of sitting in my living room watching the gymnasts of my childhood rock the world. If I could have an Olympic themed party for the next 12 days, I would do so AND be in Olympic Heaven, right up there with Zeus! Haha, get it?

Since it's not possible for me to host the longest party ever, I'll have to settle for making some fun Olympic-themed treats. Today, I made some FANCY gold medals to hand out this weekend while floating. 

I used the following two ingredients: Oreos (the golden ones!) & Fruit by the Foot (feet, plural)

 What's one thing I did not do while constructing my gold medals? Read the directions. Ugh, I have a little freshening up to do before school begins on the 21st.  Yes, there's a giant STOP sign. Did I STOP?


Now my oreos are going to get stale WAY TOO QUICKLY! Arg! #firstworldproblems

I went ahead and followed the directions and opened the package the appropriate way. Now my Oreos are exposed to the world in two different ways. So many Oreo problems, so little time.

I unscrewed the Oreos. I broke the 'feet in half and fashioned lanyard to fit with the Oreo/gold medal. I'm sure Michael Phelps would weep receiving one of these bad boys. 

This Olympic treat is so simple an infant could complete it. Okay, maybe not an infant. How about a toddler? 

Tonight, I'm going to attempt to make sugar cookies to resemble the Olympic rings. Wish me luck!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Conference Recap #3 - Blogging & Critical Literacy

Who else started cracking up you saw this little gem? I lost it last night. Not only have I been called Mom but Grandma as been slipped in there a few times too. The best part is the kid's reaction after it happens. Usually "Mom..er I mean Ms. Furnell" is followed by flushed cheeks.

This week, I've been blogging about my awesome literacy conference that I attended in St. Louis last week. Catch up on the conference fun with these links:

Today, I'm going to share the information I gained from the Critical Literacy and Blogging session. The presentation was done by educators from Georgia State University. First, they outlined what critical literacy was and how it was relevant to their research. I snagged this quote from their powerpoint, "Critical literacy is the use of language in powerful ways to get things down in the world, enhance life in school, and to question privilege and injustice."

After an in-depth look at what critical literacy actually is, one teacher-presenter shared how she used blogging the classroom. She used it as a tool to respond to deep questions after books. I was hooked! What a great idea. The teacher posed a question on the blog and students would respond through comments to one another and the teacher.

To begin this process, she started basic with paper and pencil. Then, moved to the bloggy world with a simple question about the holidays. After the kids became familiar with how the blog worked... they were rollin' with communcation.

I plan to utilize this strategy in my room next week. My question is this:

How do YOU use blogging with your students? Do they post? Respond? Please share! I would love to hear how my fellow teachers are using technology.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Feelin' Fancy Today!

Once upon a time, I was introduced to a lovely little lady named Aubrey. Over the years, I became quite close with Aubrey and eventually met her family and we even lived together during college! Aubrey's wonderful older sister has a delightful blog that you can find here. Now that you've found it, you should follow it too.

Every Tuesday she features a fellow blogger or friend and 10 random things about them. Today, she featured me!! It was like Christmas morning reading the blog post.

Read all about my Tuesday 10..umm 12, here! 
Thanks Ashley for making my Tuesday extra fancy! 

Monday, July 23, 2012

Conference Recap #2: Nonfiction Biographies

As some of you may (or may not) know, I attended a literacy conference this past weekend. You can catch up on another session I attended here

As a graduate student, I was required to participate in an action research project. My research revolved solely around the importance of nonfiction in the classroom. My goal was to encourage students to pick nonfiction on their own. I attempted several research-based strategies and found some success, but it was tricky to get all of my second graders to enjoy nonfiction. For example, we had nonfiction read alouds every Monday and spent an entire month writing our very own nonfiction books based on Gail Gibbons. 

The best part of the project (I can say this now that it's over) was finding research to support what I was doing in my classroom. I found oodles and oodles of articles written about the importance of nonfiction and how dominant fiction is overwhelmingly in the classroom. For me, personally, I was always reading fiction stories aloud because those are the ones I enjoyed the most. I, too, had a perception of nonfiction that it was boring and girls just wouldn't care for it. I was very wrong! Through my research I found several nonfiction titles about math, science, social studies that made perfect read alouds that were engaging for all of my students. Plus, these stories opened up doors of communication with my class. Maybe someday, I'll devote a blog post to my research project. It was a year full of blood, sweat, and tears. Trust me. 

Now, you're obviously aware that I think nonfiction is the bomb.com. At the conference, I attended a session presented by an educator from Eastern Kentucky University.  She is on the NCTE's Orbis Pictus nominating committee and introduced me to several fascinating titles. Her session was specifically about strategies to use with biographies. 

Biographies, huh? One genre of nonfiction books that I have skated around. I have a few in my classroom, but I have never used them in read alouds or suggested them to students. Here are a few of my favorites that she presented:

Lincoln Through the Lens by Martin W. Sandler

Hangin' with the Lincolns. 
Side note: I'm a big fan of Abe Lincoln. My bf and I even went to the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library & Museum in Springfield, Illinois. After reading Bill O'Reilly's book, "Killing Lincoln", it was the perfect field trip. 

Nelson Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom by Chris Van Wyk

Manfish: A Story of Jacques Cousteau 

Those were my favorites from the list. Then, I started searching for biographies on my own. Here's a few that I think sound pretty interesting!

The Watcher: Jane Goodall's Life With Chimps

Balloons Over Broadway: The True Story of the Puppeteer of Macy's Parade by Melissa Sweet

Harry Houdini: The Legend of the World's Greatest Escape Artist by Janice Weaver

Me...Jane. by Patrick McDonnell

One of the keynote speakers rattled off several authors that she was a fan of. I quickly jotted them down and here are the nonfiction authors she recommends.

Nic Bishop (several titles by him)

Sneed Collard III

Do you love nonfiction as much as I do? What nonfiction books do you use in your classroom?

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Conference Recap #1: Strong Female Characters

Happy Sunday, friends! As I mentioned here, I attended a jam packed literacy conference this past week/weekend. It was hosted by the National Council of Teachers of English and held right here in the great state of Missouri. I was surrounded by educators from all over the country. Several traveled from Georgia, New York, Iowa and so on.

Over the next couple of days, I'll be sharing the AWESOME information and ideas I took away from the conference. I had to pick between 5 (give or take) sessions each time slot. Sometimes it was a tough choice. A real coin flipper!

First, I'll talk about the session titled "Strong Girls Read Strong Books: The Jennifer Project" This was presented by an excellent group of educators from the University of Iowa. In this session, the Iowa educators presented their research on females in stories. In their home districts, book clubs were created outside of school with females to promote a love of literacy. In addition to listening to their fascinating research, we were given a reference list of oodles of great books to read.

To begin the session, we were asked the question, "What is a strong girl?" Followed by, "What is a strong female character?" Is there a difference? What strong female characters can you think of? Immediately, we all thought of Katniss from The Hunger Games. Any Hunger Games fans can agree that Katniss is one strong and independent soul. I jotted down this note in my journal, "A strong character doesn't mean she is loud or assertive. She can be quiet but strong willed and determined." Sometimes, strong characters can even be those females who we can all relate to.

Don't we all wish that we had an infinite bank of money to purchase books with? My classroom library consists of many books because of garage sales, scholastic bonus points, and generous donors. I'm always searching for powerful books to include in my library and boy-oh-boy... I've got some great titles for you. Click on the title and I've linked it to Amazon for quick purchase. Now, I just need to win an Amazon giftcard for $1,000.

Amber was Brave, Essie was Smart by Vera B. Williams

Night Flight: Amelia Earhart Crosses the Atlantic by Robert Burleigh

Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhha Lai

The Firefly Letters by Margarita Engle

The Higher Power of Lucky by Susan Patron

Dyamonde Daniel series by Nikki Grimes (a speaker at the conference!)

Ninth Ward by Jewell Parker Rhodes

My Mother's Voice by Joanne Ryder

Call me Hope by Gretchen Olsen

Mockingbird by Katherine Erskine

Do you have any titles that you would like to share? Please post them in a comment. I would love to hear about rich literature that you're using in your classroom.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Time For Professional Development!

Goiiiin' to the Hilton and we're...
Gonna get professionallydeveloped (say it quickly)
Goiiiin' to the Hilton and we're...
Gonna get professionallydeveloped
Geeeee.. I'm really lucky and I'm...
gonna get professionallydeveloped 

Sing that to the tune of "Going to the Chapel" and it makes perfect sense. I've been singing it all week. Good luck getting that little tune out of your head.

My song was accurate.. in a couple of hours I'm headed to the Ballpark Hilton by the St. Louis Arch to attend the WLU Summer Institute. The next three days are jam packed with literacy infused activities and professional development sessions. The conference is sponsored by the National Council of Teachers of English. I've jotted down which sessions I want to attend and I will get to see three of my professors from college!! I'm also excited about that. Let's face it, I'm just excited for everything. Although, this means I can't sleep in until 10:00 for the next couple of days.

What kind of professional development are your participating in this summer? this year? Do share!
Does Pinterest count? :)

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

What I'm Reading Wednesday

Have you ever listened to an audio book? During my student teaching year, I began listening to audio books during my commute to school everyday. I listened to several James Patterson thrillers. Sometimes, I would camp out in my car in the morning because I couldn't turn the car off!! My trips to and from school would fly by because I became so involved in my books. 

My latest audio book was "Bossypants" by the one and only Tina Fey. The great part about this audio book is that it was read by Tina Fey. I was literally laughing out loud while I was driving. It only took me 2 trips to finish it! (I travel a lot!) It was a great investment. 

This month, my book club selected The Kite Runner. I'm about 70 pages in right now and it's pretty good so far. I am having trouble keeping all of the characters straight. I'll figure it out!

What books are you reading/listening to this week?

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