I’ve been working a lot on my blog lately. I think I’ve mentioned it before, but I’m working on redesigning it right now. Something about the design process is exciting to me. Soon, I’ll need to find someone else who needs their blog redesigned to keep the excitement going.

Today, as I sat down and mentally prepared myself to get started – you all know how that goes, I’m sure… even exciting things can sometimes be daunting – I first decided to check out my Bloglovin feed. There were a number of updates and I sifted through them, marking several as read even though I didn’t even both to click on them. Then, I reached one from Lindsey at Thriving In Third, someone who I have actually met, that got me thinking.

Lindsey blogged this week about the heavy focus that bloggers place on product promotion. I couldn’t agree more. As I go through my feed each week, many of those that I automatically mark as read are teacher bloggers who I know are simply posting to sell products – ones that I know won’t apply to me because they are a different grade level.

As a result, I headed back to my Bloglovin feed and started to unfollow those blogs that, week after week, I mark as read without reading. There were only a handful actually. As I looked at the remaining blogs – about 60 – I realized that for many of those, I had no idea why I had begun following them in the first place. I ended up going through and unfollowing even more people who I didn't regularly visit their blog. I am now down to following 29 blogs. I still have a few that I think I should maybe unfollow, but I’ll let them stay for now.

As I continue as a blogger and a reader, I hope to remember Lindsey’s post. I hope that as  I create each new blog post, I emphasize  content – what happened in my room that week, what worked, what I need help with – rather than promoting products. I hope that as I visit new blogs, I remember to try to make a connection with that teacher through comments, rather than just being a silent reader. Will links to TPT products be posted? Perhaps. But I hope to remember that it should not be the focus of the blog post.

As I sit here writing this post, I’m reflecting on why I decided a few years ago to begin a blog and why I've continued doing so now. Like Lindsey, I was attracted by the idea of a community of teachers. As I consider what would make me feel successful in my blogging endeavors, I imagine having a tight group of blogging buddies like some others have come to find. 

What about you? What are you hoping to get out of blogging? Is your goal to make it as a blogger with thousands of followers or are you looking for the community? Of course, they don’t need to be mutually exclusive, but what is your main focus?

Reader Bookmarks

At our school, we have moved away from Guided Reading and now have daily Small Reading Groups. From what I understand of it, the ideas are somewhat similar, except that the Small Reading Groups are supposed to be entirely focused on the skills that we are learning during Whole Group rather than skills that we have determined that the students need to progress as readers.

During Small Reading Groups, our team flex groups, so in my room, I have our advanced readers. These readers generally have mastered the Whole Group skills and are ready to expand on them, or are in need of higher level instruction to push them further.

A large part of Small Reading Groups is Close Reads. Nicole from Teaching With Style! blogged this week about a note taking bookmark that she uses for Close Reads. I loved the idea of having dual purpose bookmarks that the students can use as they read.  This idea is also perfect for a lot of the reading strategies and skills that we use with our reading series.


Click on the images above to visit my TPT store and grab these bookmarks. I'll be adding more formats as I continue through the year so that my students can use these for all sorts of reading!

November Currently

I feel like if I at least put up the month's Currently, I'm still blogging. No matter how little blogging takes place outside of that!

So here it is!


Another quiet day here at the house. Silence is golden.


It's been a wonderful PJ type of morning. The husband is out hunting with friends, so me and the dog are enjoying the morning. It'll have to end soon though. Unfortunately, I can't spend all day sitting around.


I'm pretty sure that I'm going to be rolling out a new blog design soon - as in by the end of the year. I already made business cards for the new design which should be arriving in the mail shortly. I need to work on some of the odds and ends for the online design before I am ready to make it active. I'm excited for it though. It's a bit more cutesy that what I have now.


We'll be leaving soon for some good ol' family time. Nothing wrong with that, except that I've also spent Friday and Saturday with family, so I'm kind of all family'd out. I can't just make an excuse to get out of it though, so hopefully we won't need to be there all day.


Have you heard of or done NaNoWriMo? I believe that this is the seventh year that I have participated. I've never won. November is, at least for me, a terrible month to write a book because I am always so stinkin' busy. But I pretend that I will each year anyway. I expect another loss this year again, but I will keep trying anyway. I haven't even come up with an idea this year, though, so my expectations are pretty low.


Kin of related - hopefully I'll be reading nothing. If I actually come up with an idea for writing, that will in theory take up all my time. I'll only have time to read grad school books and work emails.

That's where I am - in a nutshell. What's going on with you?

Sunday Scoop

Hey there! I'm here following the wonderful Midwest Blogger Meetup held by Jameson at Lessons with Coffee and Lindsey at Thriving in Third. Seriously, it was wonderful and it was great to meet some other bloggers from close and far! Pictures to come later this week, hopefully. I'm already excited for 2015 in Minneapolis! 

It's Sunday, though, and that means it's time for The Sunday Scoop! I love this link-up! It's super fun and easy! Visit the Teaching Trio by clicking the graphic below and you can link up too!

Need to Do

We had a School Improvement Day and one of the topics was creating daily outcomes. The way our reading series is set up, it focuses more on weekly outcomes. Our team worked really hard to figure out how to customize these on a daily level. Now I get the fantastic job of typing all 30 or so up so that we can post them each day.

Center activities have kind of been pushed to the back burner with all the other lovely things that need to be done each week. I need to make the kids activities for this week, but I also want to work to figure out how I can further customize them to meet the needs of my kiddos and keep them engaged because right now ... that's not always the case. I'm convinced some of them see it as busy work.

Last - today is the last day of my current grad school class. Tomorrow I'll start a new class which will be my last one before I graduate! I'm super excited that I'm almost finished!

Hope to Do

As I mentioned, we did a whole bunch of work on our lesson outcomes/objectives. My team does everything together, including writing our actual lesson plans. Our ideas about outcomes shifted as we continued through the week, and, as a result, my Monday plans look totally different (visually) than my Friday plans. Everything is there, but it's driving me a little nuts that they aren't all perfectly similar.

My family has seen some major changes this past year and we're still trying to figure out exactly how to function. Lately, my mom, sister, and one of my brothers have been getting together quite often for some good ol' family time. Last week we went shopping and had lunch. Yesterday we meet for lunch and dinner. Today we're supposed to be going to see a movie - if I can leave the house. It'll probably become a bit much at some point, but my husband is in the middle of finishing a basement and hunting season, so for now, it's fun to have something to do that isn't school!

Happy to Do

Unfortunately, this little linky is always on a Sunday and as a result, my Happy to Do is more often than not going to be watch Once Upon a Time! It's probably my favorite show that I watch all week!

What are you up to today? Is your Sunday all about school or do you have time to do other things?

The Sunday Scoop

I will get better at updating this - for myself at the very least! I'm back with another Sunday Scoop. I wish I had time to update on other things. I only have 2 1/2 more months of grad school, so at the very least, I hope to be back in January with regular updates!

Anywho - here's what's up with me this weekend.

Clearly, I have too much to do. It was a rough week last week, so I'm doing a little catch up. Luckily, I have some fantastic TV premieres tonight to motivate me to get everything done quickly. I almost put Once Upon A Time down in my MUST do because no matter what time I get everything else done, I will watch that show before I go to bed!

How's your fall lineup looking? Are you so thankful like I am that TV shows are back on?

Until next time!

The Sunday Scoop

I don't know about you, but linky parties really help me make sure that I am blogging. Without them, I don't know if I would ever post anything! I like to think that I would, but I haven't seen the evidence of that yet. Luckily there are so many fantastic link-ups to choose from.

Today, I'm connecting with Teaching Trio to fill everyone in on The Sunday Scoop! This link up seemed perfect since I have a whole bunch to do and am not quite motivated to start. I love to do lists, so this is right up my alley!

Perhaps you see a theme emerging? Lots of school stuff to do, but all I want to do is hang out with my cute puppy. He isn't making it easy either as he keeps falling asleep (and looking adorable) right next to me!

I suppose now that I have this to do list of sorts, though, I should try to resist the cuteness and actually get some work done! What's the scoop with you this weekend? Head on over and link up!

First Week Complete!

I can't believe that school has already started and we've already finished the first week of school! It's been such a whirlwind!

Does anyone else ever find it hard to connect with their new group at the beginning of the school year? A lot of times, I think back to my previous class who already knew all the routines and I had trained to be super fabulous and thinking about getting my new class to that point is a bit overwhelming. Well, this year that is not the case! As of today, I have twenty-five super amazing little seven-year-olds in my class. My husband keeps rolling his eyes at me because I come home every day raving about how amazing these kiddos are! I'm so excited for this school year - I can't even stop saying it! 

There was one day this week where we were practicing independent reading for small group reading. We flex group during this time, so I had a mix of students from other classes as well. We had gotten to the point of practicing and they were so good at it and I was so excited that I ran over to my camera and started taking pictures of them just sitting there. It was amazing. Ahhh! This year is going to be so fabulous!

Anyway, I thought I'd check in here to give you a peek at my classroom. I did a lot of work over the summer to clean it up and give it a real polished look.

Here's the hallway display! I love, love displaying their work with clips. Especially since I don't have an actual bulletin board. It is seriously time consuming to have to display word on cinder blocks without clips!

This is my objectives board. Our team decided to call them learning targets. This was before school started and I ran out of mounting tabs, so I only put one objective up. Hopefully you get the idea!

Here are our classroom rules. I shared these a while ago, but they are up right now. I'm super excited about them, especially now that I've seen them in action. Rule #5 is probably my absolute favorite to see during the day. You can purchase my rules here!

This is the other side of my board. It's where I post my weekly posters, the sounds that we're learning about this week and our vocabulary words for the week. I'm still on the fence about whether I'm going to put math vocabulary in the math section or something else.

Here's a wide view of the front of our classroom. All of our classrooms were fitted with TeamBoards this summer which has been awesome. There's also a final board on the left that I can't find a close picture of. On that board, we record our test scores and make goals for future testing.

Next up - my updated word wall! I went through and recreated my word wall letters and words. I had to force myself to do it since I had spent quite a bit of time doing it last year also, but the kiddos just needed bigger words and letters so they were visible. Please excuse the fact that I have B words listed under E. I have no idea why I put them there!

Every year, we get a small budget to purchase new items for our classrooms. This year, I purchased these bins to give the area above our backpacks a more clean look. I love how it turned out. We store our community school supplies and student math manipulatives in the bins.

This was another fun summer project. This classroom wall used to be an exterior wall. Now it butts up to the office's conference room. For some reason, when they made the switch, they decided to simply paint what used to be a window. This summer, we added some cork board to make it more functional. Our school has a Pride Board that features outstanding work from one student in each class. I wanted to give the kids in my class more of an opportunity, so this is one just for our room.

This is my small group reading board to help me keep organized. I decided to laminate paper this year for listing the kids in each group instead of printing the group lists. I want my groups to be flexible, so this makes it much easier. I can just erase whenever I need to make a change.

I'm going to need to train a student to switch these each day because I'm so bad at remembering to, but I love how this looks! You can find the free, editable schedule cards here from Kelli! They come in a whole bunch of colors.

Here's a view of my reading table area. It was still a little messy when I took the picture.

Here's a view of my desks. Each student has their own cup to keep their everyday supplies. All their other supplies either go in their 'art box' (read: pencil box that I don't want them playing with all day) or in our community supply bins.

I got the idea of the numbers and letters from The Brown Bag Teacher. Her info probably describes it much better than I can, but I'll let you know some of the ways I plan to use this tool. I call helpers from each table all the time. Each of my tables as a number 1, 2, 3, and 4 to make it easier to get a volunteer from each table. It also lets me organize students if I want them to discuss with their group. If I want them to share their answer, I can tell them that number 2's get to share first. The As and Bs are the same idea, but they are for when students word with a single partner at their table. I can let them know that partner A gets to talk first or partner B.

Finally, here are two shots 'whole' classroom shots.

So that's my classroom this year! What do you think?

Meet the Teacher Blogger

Hey all! I'm so late linking up with Falling Into First, but I thought - better late than never! I've been working on this post for a few days now between setting my classroom up for the beginning of the school year. I didn't know what would be posted first - my meet the teacher blogger post or my classroom setup post! I'm very excited to post both (eventually).

Hey there, everyone! I'm Kristin. I'm heading into my fourth year of teaching. This will be my third year of teaching second grade. I'm a 26 year old teacher blogger from Illinois. I'm so excited to finally be staying in the same room and grade for a second year! It was wonderful this summer not having to fully pack everything up and set up again, but it was still a lot of work getting ready for the year. I'm so excited to welcome my new students into the room, especially the ones I had in summer school who know what it looked like before I got it fully into working order.

This is me and the Mister hanging out at Citi Field on our vacation to New York last year. We've been married for just under three years now. It's crazy how time flies by! Our puppy Murphy completes our family. He's just the right amount of obedient, stubborn, quirky, and lovable.


Decorative journals, colored pens, new clothes, chocolate croissants, Camelback water bottles, Google Play Radio, Jimmy Fallon Lip-sync Battles, laminating sleeves, organization systems, eggs in a basket, to do lists, freshly threaded eyebrows, and 2048.

There are so many things that I am interested in! I originally started school for Hospitality. I wanted to be an event planner. Sometimes, I enjoy doing graphic design which is why I opened my own design blog That Fancy Blog Boutique. Other times, I like to pretend I could make it big if I ever auditioned for a show like American Idol. I think I might be a little delusional. OH WAIT! I really want to be an author! That's it!!

Excitable. Storyteller. Nosy.


"Sure, we can do birthday cupcakes at 8:30 a.m."


I'm a HP fan (well, moreso in HS than now), so probably a cast member or two. I wouldn't even care which ones! I'd need to invite my HS bestie also because we both were HP super fans in HS.


Teaching in a Nutshell

It's kind of a toss up between teleportation and telekinesis. Both are very tempting.


"If you cannot teach me to fly, teach me to sing."


I've almost auditioned before but couldn't decide what song to sing. I had my wristband and everything, but ended up not going the day of. My #1 song contender was Love Song by Sara Bareilles.


It really just depends. I'm more of a late afternoon/early evening person.


I have the most fabulous dreams. In HS, one of my friends and I used to share our strange dreams every time we had one. I've ridden a bounce house like a magic carpet, escaped from invading soldiers, spent an entire day hanging out at the library with my teaching friends, and been chased by a purple and green spotted Jaba the Hut like monster who wanted me to lay an egg. I recently started sharing my strange dreams with a teacher friend. She is super amused.

Have you linked up yet? If you're late to the party like me, there's still time. Head on over and link up!

Holy Wow!

All I can say is Oh My Goodness!

Yesterday when I saw that it was time for the August Currently, I was surprised that it was August already (even though I have been looking at the calendar all week and knew perfectly well that August began yesterday). Today, I've had another surprise due to my lack of attentiveness.

My Teacher Institute days start a week from Thursday! That means I'll only have one week to flip my classroom between the end of summer school and the beginning of our teacher work days. I've been banking on two this whole summer. I guess maybe I don't know how to read a calendar. Oh dear!

All my plans for beginning the transformation post-summer school have been squashed so now I'm speedily trying to craft all of the new goodies that I planned on creating for the upcoming school year. I wonder how many I can cram into this weekend. I've already called in the troops (my grandma and mother-in-law) to help me start getting everything put in place.

Because I can't actually sit and do sustained activities all day long - especially ones that require my immediate attention - I've decided to take a break to post my progress here. What do you all think?

A New Year - New Rules

Click here for purchase!
I do, of course, have rules like no running in the classroom and don't get up out of your seat whenever you want, but I wanted to focus more on rules that will help us improve as learners and create a positive atmosphere rather than ones that were solely focused on improving sometimes naughty behaviors. While some of them seem like they still may be focused on behaviors, each of them is explained in a way that ties directly back to how it will help us learn. This isn't exactly how they will be explained to the students, but it is the gist of it.

Rule 1: We do this so that we hear what our friends say so that we may add on our own comments after to give extra details.
Rule 2: This one is more focused on the fact that we NEED to participate. It also goes along with rule 4 kind of. We want all our friends to be successful and if the same students are shouting out the answers, then our other friends (who know better than to shout) will not get a turn to participate.
Rule 3: If we take too long to follow the directions, we lose out on important learning time!
Rule 4: This relates to both helping friends who do not understand something - if we understand, we can help them too - and to helping others stay on task. This is a big thing at our school. The kids are supposed to take charge of the classroom including academics and behavior.
Rule 5: Some students are nervous to participate. We want to help everyone feel comfortable answering questions. When a student gets an answer wrong, we should focus on positive things - like the fact that they were participating at all. This rule went over really well last year. We had friends giving high-fives when they got an answer right and whispering "yesss" when they shared the same answer as another friend who was called on for the correct answer.

I really want to keep my rules to a minimum, but I feel like I'm missing something important. It may just be because they fall into our general school rules of "Be Respectful, Be Responsible, and Be Safe." Can you think of any good rules in the style of what I have so far that I'm missing?

Word Wall

I'm not sure if I've ever posted a picture of my word wall here. Every time I look at classroom pictures on Blogger, I get jealous of the amazing classrooms that some of you all have! My room is pretty much less than ideal because although there is a lot of storage, there is very very little wall space.

This picture is a pretty terrible one. It was taken after I packed my room up and there are a ton of things that aren't usually there, but you can see the word wall hanging from the curtains above our cubbies.

It was my first year in the room and I needed to throw something up there. Unfortunately, the words and letters that I used are pretty difficult for second graders to see when it is that high up. I'm working on creating a larger option to go in the same place - since I really don't have an alternative spot for my word wall.


I only have the alphabet done so far, so now I need to get started on words.

Hanging Signs

I also finished table number and center signs, although I saved most of them as PDFs so I don't have a preview.

What do you think? All I have left are the word wall words, math number words, shapes, school supply storage labels, and teacher organization labels. I'll eventually (soon) need to create some library labels, but since my summer school students messed up my library again - I reorganized it at the beginning of the summer - I don't know what exactly I'm going to do.

And this is just organization/decor stuff. I don't even want to think of all the learning prep work there is to do. Why didn't someone warn me sooner that the school year was coming up?

I'll keep everyone updated!

August Currently

It's the first! That means I'm linking up with Farley at Oh Boy Fourth Grade for this month's Currently!


Last year, our district threw together a teacher choir for the district wide 'Back to School' pep assembly that all the teachers go to on the first teacher training day. They sang Don't Stop Believin and I was tempted to join, but I am sometimes lazy and thought it might be ... eh. This year, they're doing it again, but I decided to join in even though I already know some of my teacher friends will be laughing at me. Anywho, we'll be singing Everything Is Awesome from The Lego Movie. I'm pretty excited. I've been practicing the rap in the middle of the song in case I decide to volunteer for a solo - and endure additional laughing from my teacher friends.


My weekdays have been incredibly busy with summer school, but my weekends have also been jam packed with life. This is the third weekend this entire summer that I have not been completely over-scheduled... which means I can get stuff done at school. I'm a bit late to the party, but I just signed up for an Instagram account. Follow me @teachinginanutshell to see what's going on tomorrow as I makeover my classroom!


One of those fabulous friends who will be laughing at me as I rap my heart out in a few weeks laughed at me today when she walked in my classroom. She knows that I've been having a hard time getting started prepping my room for the school year because of summer school. When she walked in, I was making a list on one of my white boards to go with the other four lists on other white boards around the room. She just rolled her eyes and told me I should stop making lists. I guess I see her point but what teacher doesn't love a good list (or 10)?


I'll be joining several local teacher bloggers for brunch on Sunday morning. I am super excited and a bit nervous! It's my very first blogger meetup and these ladies all sound so fabulous. I've been putting off getting my haircut for a few months now since I'm trying to grow it out a bit and getting a pedi because I've just been so darn busy! I thought this would be a perfect excuse to go out and get one. But no - my hair stylist was all booked until Tuesday! Oh well. Maybe I can still do a pedi.


Did I mention that I made three more lists after my friend came in the room? Luckily, I have a few things in the works with my new design blog to keep me distracted!

School Starts

I suppose the dates I wrote down are a little misleading seeing as I am already teaching summer school and am already at school every single day! However, those are our official start dates for the regular school year. Even though I have so much to do, I'm getting excited. We had thirteen teachers change classrooms this year, so now they're all coming in early to get their rooms set up. It's like a party at school every day! Plus, two of my teacher besties moved into my hallway which should make for a promising year.

I'm excited to see what everyone else is up to this August! Be sure to check out Farley's blog for a list of all the other teachers participating!