Dare to Dream {#tptsellerchallenge}

I'm posting a little late, but better late than never! This week has been crazy busy with blog designs! I never imagined how much attention my designs would get when I started posting premades on Instagram! Wow! I mean - I hoped I'd get more attention than I previously had, but I didn't expect to get 15 new blogs signed up in 2 weeks. That may be normal for some, but for me it's more than the total number of blogs I'd designed prior to posting my first premade! I'm excited to get the chance to help so many bloggers new and old build a fabulous new look!

Although this challenge is about TPT, I'm also keeping in mind my growing blog design business as it is currently bringing in more money than my TPT store is! We'll need to work on that.

I'm linking up again with the fabulous TPT Seller Challenge by sharing my big dreams for what I'd love to do if I hit it big on TPT.


I'd love to be able to spend more time with my current friends, but what I really mean by this one is that I'd love to get the chance to meet more and more friends. The teacher blogging and TPT world is full of so many amazing people, and as I continue on this journey I'm excited to meet new people. The bigger my store gets, the more people I'm able to interact with and the more new friends I'm able to meet!


This is probably the biggest one for me! My husband and I are able to travel from time to time, but who doesn't want to travel more?! We took our first trip out of the country together this year and now we're dreaming of the other big places we can go. Of course, we love visiting new places in the country too! With a little one on the way, it's going to be even more difficult to travel, so having additional funding would come in handy. I also would love a little extra money to attend more conferences and meetups around the country. This summer I am lucky enough to be traveling to Vegas like so many other bloggers, and I'm also heading up today to a conference in Milwaukee. Call me a teacher dork, but I love learning more about teaching and I love getting to interact with new and old friends!

Food and Shopping

I'm a major foodie. I'd eat out every day if I could afford to. Like seriously. My husband may not agree with me here, but he doesn't have to come with! Hah! Shopping is a love hate event for me, but it would still be great to have extra funds to be able to splurge on great pieces when I find them!


I don't know that I ever want to be a stay at home mom - I need to get out of my house as much as possible or I go stir crazy! I love working and teaching, but I'd love to be able to spend more time with my family, do more fun things with my family, and create a wonderful living space for my family to enjoy.

Thanks for stopping by!

Chicago Area Teacher Blogger Meetup

Are you from the Chicagoland area or anywhere else in Illinois? Are you someone who lives in a neighboring state who would be willing to drive to the Chicagoland area to meet other amazing teachers and bloggers?

Get ready for the Chicago Area Teacher Blogger Meetup! Feel free to grab the image below and share on social media to spread the word!

Be sure to RSVP so we know if you can join us and visit our Facebook page for future updates!

Daily 5 Book Study: Chapter 1

Hey all! I'm linking up with some fabulous bloggers for another book study. I'm reading a number of PD books right now, and I have to say that they are pairing together quite nicely! Today, I'm going to be sharing my thoughts about Chapter 1 of The Daily 5, 2nd Edition.

I was introduced to The Daily 5 at my interview for the school where I currently work. The principal mentioned that several teachers had recently read the book and were planning to implement it the next year, so as soon as I left the interview, I raced to the store, purchased the book, and started reading! I absolutely loved the ideas in The Daily 5 and knew that, come fall, I'd be implementing it in my classroom as well.

I'm so glad that I found this book study because I hadn't even realized that the sisters had released a second edition. Even in the first chapter, there is some very exciting stuff!

I love how the sisters begin with that ideal classroom. Due to district reading program changes, I haven't been able to use Daily 5 in my classroom for two years, and let me tell you, as a result, my room has not looked like that perfect classroom they describe. More like the 'before' mental picture they paint. Reading through that reminded me of a time when my classroom really did look and sound like the Daily 5 classroom they talk about. It helped me realize that I need to figure out a way to use the district reading program, but also incorporate as many aspects of Daily 5 as I can!

I love some of the changes that the sisters have made. I love that students are required to do Read to Self and Work on Writing every day. I love that they're going to help me figure out what to do with those barometer students, their term for kids who have more trouble adjusting to the system than others. I also love all the reminders, even in Chapter 1, about CAFE. I'll need to go pull that out soon because it complements Daily 5 so well. In their brief overview of CAFE in Chapter 1, they explained that during Daily 5 rounds, which typically last from 20-30 minutes, small group meetings should still only take 10 minutes or so, which is fabulous news for me since I will have 29 kids in my class next year!

I'm so excited to continue reading and relearning Daily 5 and figuring out how to incorporate it into my class this year!

Teaching With Intention Chapter 2 and Tell All Tuesday Reveal

Okay, so let's start out with the easy stuff!

My lie was #3, although some parts of it were true. My husband really is a do-it-yourself kind of guy, and I really am not big on home improvement projects. However, we have not worked on nearly as many things in our house as I mentioned. He really did finish our basement, and we've really painted several rooms, but that's about it. Right now, we are slowly working to redo the future kiddo's bathroom which previously housed a grey tub/toilet combo with laminate wood flooring and peach walls. Ew!

My #1 was true. I really did start as a non-education major. I made the switch to education one semester in, if not officially, at least in the classes that I was taking. Number 2 was also the truth. I've been to some fun places and I hope to visit many more!

Now, onto the book study which I have been avoiding for several days!

No joke, I've really been avoiding posting this since probably Thursday. This chapter was all about defining your beliefs about teaching and learning and I don't know how to explain how difficult this was for me.

I'm going to start with a quote from the book which probably is the root of all my struggles!

What if you have district mandates that run counter to your beliefs? Take the high road. Don't let them defeat you. Do what you have to do; in the end no one can mandate how you feel about children, the ways you interact with them throughout the day, and the things you say and do that reflect who you are and what you believe about teaching and learning.
 Yeah. This. It's difficult to define your beliefs when you teach in a school with many mandates. It's difficult to do what you have to do when you feel like you what you need to do is follow the directions given to you. I need to be better about taking the high road.

Below is a list of the belief statements that I came up with. They are rough. They are not as edited as I would like, and they do not encompass all of my beliefs, but it's a start. I hope that through this process and book study I am able to refine them into something better and all encompassing. I just needed to get something posted. I need to not let this chapter defeat me!

I'm good with the planned portion of this belief statement. I'm excellent at planning, although there's always room for improvement, of course! I've also gotten a lot better at the intentional aspect of this. What am I teaching? Why am I teaching it? How am I teaching it? What am I looking for? I've been working to build all of those questions into my planning process and it's helped a lot. Now, I need to work on the interesting part by hopefully bringing in more student choice, and the maximum student engagement part. Using a scripted program makes that difficult, but I need to remember my beliefs next year as I plan.

Generally, I feel like I am great at this. My classroom is a comfortable place for students to learn. I teach my students to be respectful and students feel safe. This year was a roller coaster, though, due to some different student situations. I never got to the same point this past year that I usually have in other years. I hope that next year, I don't have that same issue. I'll also be working on some more ideas over the summer that will help bring this belief statement to life.

Physical space organized? Check! (At least the parts people can see!) Routines established? Check! I'm pretty good here. I'd just like to tighten a few things up.

In some ways, this statement is similar to statement two. This year, I spent a lot more time trying to cultivate that sense of team, goal setting, and growth mindset. Some of it was due to mandates, and so it didn't quite play out the same way it would have if I had created the systems in a way that matches my beliefs. I think that's what I need to work on next year. Considering what I want to see in my classroom and putting systems in place to help my students see our class as a team because it is what I believe.

Yes, yes, yes! This is something we always need to be mindful of. It's so easy to lower expectations for one student and suddenly one becomes two and two becomes more and suddenly, everything is out of control! Keep those expectations high! They can do it. Every time I think of this belief, it reminds me of parents who have come into my classroom and seen student work and been amazed by the quality of work that their students have produced! Like.. "Wow! I didn't know my child could do that!" If we set our expectations high, amazing things can happen.

Another one that I feel I must remember more so than others. With scripted programs, it is very easy to rush, rush, rush to try to fit in all the activities for the day, but it is so much more important to take our time and model what we expect to see. Students will never have a student-directed book discussion if the teacher never models what that looks like first. Students will never clean the room up nicely if teachers don't model and share what the expectations are. Students will never transition from group to group if they don't first see significant modeling of what it looks like. I feel like I need to tattoo my hand with the phrase 'slow down' so I remember next year that I need to do what I believe and take my time to model for as long as is needed.

Phew! Another chapter done! Check back for next week's book study update!

Tell All Tuesday: Two Truths and a Lie!

I'm so excited to be linking up with Teach.Talk.Inspire and My Day in K for Tell All Tuesday! This week, we will be playing Two Truths and a Lie where I tell you three things about myself, but only two of them are true!

Can you guess which one is the lie?
It took me forever to decide what I wanted to do! Like many kids, my future dreams changed all the time. I wanted to be everything from a lawyer to an architect to an author. Even as I got older and neared college, I still didn't have a plan. I think part of it was fear of the future and part of it was that I was super shy and didn't want to share with my family what I wanted to do. Even once I got into college, the craziness continued!

Before I was an education major, I studied Hospitality and Tourism Management. I really wanted to become an event planner. Or maybe a wedding planner. Who doesn't, right? Even after switching majors, I was on Purdue University's Memorial Union Board which planned free events for students. I still really enjoy planning events, including events for school and hopefully soon a Chicago area blogger meetup!

I ended up changing majors because as much as I loved planning events, I really missed working with kids. I'd been a camp director for several years and rather than doing my coursework, I'd end up planning events and activities for my campers to do over the summer. I realized that even though I enjoyed event planning, education might be better suited to what I wanted to do.
Despite my anxiety regarding travel, I absolutely love going to new places. Growing up, I went to Disney a few times with my family. We also took a handful of cruises which allowed me to visit amazing places like The Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, the Bahamas, and Jamaica. We also went on several trips in the U.S. including (many) trips to Wisconsin, New York, Indiana, Michigan, and Ohio. We also went on a house boat trip although I have absolutely no idea where we went for that. Somewhere on the Mississippi River.

In high school, I was fortunate enough to go on several trips with different groups as well. I went with a group of Shakespeare enthusiasts to Stratford, Ontario in Canada. We stayed in bed and breakfasts sans supervisors all over the city and were responsible for our own meals and getting to all the plays on time. I also traveled to England and Italy with my high school choir to compete in international festivals. The plane ride over the Alps was incredibly scary! It was the smallest plane I've ever been in and we experienced turbulence nearly the entire time!

Since getting married, my husband and I have also visited California, New York, Ohio, Texas, South Carolina, and Mexico.We're hoping we'll still get to travel from time to time even though Baby #1 is on the way!
My husband is the type of guy who likes to do housework on his own - or with the help of his dad or friends. I, on the other hand, am quite lazy and would, without a doubt, rather hire someone out to do the work. Since moving into our house nearly four years ago, we have worked on nearly every room in the house - and we've done quite a bit of work on the outside too! Yes, that's right - we. I've learned to help along the way.

We started by redoing our tiny kitchen. It was the first to go, and thank goodness! It's still pretty tiny, but at least the cabinets aren't from the 80's anymore. I especially love our back splash now! The hubs  also decided that he wanted a deck in the backyard. My uncle is a carpenter and was able to help us significantly. The last major project has been our basement which was totally unfinished when we moved in. It is now a half-finished basement, complete with a wet bar, and a custom built-in entertainment center. Aside from the major(ly time consuming) projects, we've also re-tiled, painted and changed the vanities in all three bathrooms, painted all the rooms and bedrooms, and done significant gardening work! 

Whew! I'm seriously hoping that once that baby comes, some of these home projects will be put on the back burner so that we can spend more time together as a family.

So, what do you think? Can you figure out which one is a lie? Don't forget to link up and share your Two Truths and a Lie, too!

See you Friday with the answer!

Teaching With Intention: Chapter One

Hey there! I'm here to link up with all the amazing bloggers who are currently participating in Kindergarten Smorgasboard's book study of Teaching with Intention by Debbie Miller. This week is all about Chapter 1 and is hosted by Primary Possibilities, Mrs. Plemons' Kindergarten, and Enchanted Kinder Garden.

Chapter 1 was all about your idea classroom, and the your is key. The first section of the book is about figuring out what your idea of teaching is so that you can later explore how to make intentional decisions to make that vision become a reality.

Our three hosts provided us with some great questions to get started envisioning what ideal looks like to us.
My ideal classroom would be open and inviting. It would be a space where students come in ready and eager to learn. It would a space that the students stay throughout the day, not wanting to leave. The classroom d├ęcor would be warm and friendly and colorful but relaxing. It would be a fun space that kids want to be in.

In my ideal classroom, I would have open seating to encourage discussion and collaboration. Tables would vary in height to accommodate those who like to stand, sit or use a comfy pillow. There would also be plenty of room on the floor for students to spread out as well, whether they want an independent space or a spot for a group. My ideal space would be filled with pillows, cushions, mats, and other sorts of – as my students call them now – special seats to help make students comfortable as they learn. It would have a reading table for me to use, when needed, for meeting with small groups or just for students to sit at.

Also, my ideal classroom would have tons of wall space. Space for anchor charts. Space for student work. Space for smiling faces to be posted on the walls. Space to display learning. Space to pose questions. Space to inspire. Space to remember.

In this room, I would have dedicated areas for the things students need – for organizational purposes mostly. There would be a space for writing materials, a library, a space for office materials. We’d have room for extra materials and for organizing the materials we do use. Students would be free to use these materials whenever they needed and would be free to move about the room with them as needed.

My classroom would sound different all throughout the day. It might be filled with quiet whispers as students discuss a book they are reading. It might be filled with excited chatter as students work together to solve a problem. It may sound like absolute silence as students concentrate fully on a special task or assessment. Overall, it would sound like the students are engaged in whatever they are doing, engaged in the learning. 

In my ideal classroom, the teacher would serve mainly as a facilitator, but also as a model – demonstrating to students what a successful learner looks and sounds like. In this classroom, the teacher may sometimes be hard to find as she blends in with a group of students. She would move about the classroom, working with different students, sometimes one-on-one, other times in small groups, and at times whole group. These meetings would be short and to the point, allowing the students as much time as possible to dig into the learning on their own. The teacher would be taking notes as she meets with different students, noting their successes and their needs.

The students would be learning! They’d be focused on the story they’re reading, the task at hand, or developing the skill of the day. They’d know what they’re working on – based on their knowledge of the goals they have set with their teacher’s guidance. They’d be glued to their spot because they knew what they were discussing was important. Not because the teacher tells them so, but because they understand themselves that learning is crucial and knowledge is power. They’d be engaged in what they were doing, whether it was journaling their thinking as they read, discussing their thoughts with a group of students, or breaking down a math problem using their brains and the tools available to them. They’d know how to participate in student-led small group and whole group discussions.

They’d solve their own classroom problems – like broken pencils, powered-off computers, or seating issues – or know how to have a friend help rather than going to the teacher. They’d understand that the time a teacher spends with a student is sacred and not to be interrupted.

I’m not a new teacher, but in some ways I still feel like I am because I often feel like I have a long way to go in terms of reaching this ideal classroom. Looking back on the things I mentioned, I found five different areas that I feel I need to work on in order to get closer to what I’d like.

One – Seating Options
This includes both tables and chairs. My current room has desks that are arranged in table groups. They are all the same height. There isn’t a lot of option. I also have a reading table and a circle table. I’ve been meaning (for about a year) to adjust the height of the circle table to lower it, but it hasn’t happened yet. New goal for the summer. I also have a variety of seating in my classroom including traditional chairs, Hokki stools, pillows, beanbags, and crate seats, but between the various items I have (traditional chairs excluded) I don’t quite have enough for the amount of students who want to use them which seems to create arguments. Part of this is management, but part of this is that I need more seats.

Two – Space for Anchor Charts, Student Work, etc.
I am incredibly fortunate in that my classroom has A TON of storage space! So much. Perhaps too much. Of my four walls, wall #1 is filled entirely with student cubbies with teacher storage on top. There is about 3 feet of open wall above the storage that can only be accessed (awkwardly) by a ladder. Wall #2 is taken up by my bathroom, sink, more storage, a 6-foot white board and a 3-foot bulletin board. I’ve used that 9-foot space for my reading table so that I have space to write/model. Again, there are 3 feet of open wall near the ceiling. Wall #3 has one floor to ceiling bulletin board that is about 3 ½ feet wide. The rest of the wall is entirely storage. No wall space at all. Finally, wall #4 is made up almost entirely of a white board. The white board is probably 16 feet long with an interactive white board in the middle. On either side, there is another 3-foot bulletin board. Again, there are 3 feet of wall space near the ceiling.

I don’t like using the ceiling space because it is way too high for the students to see. I want to post their work in a space where they and others can look at it and be proud. Plus, as I mentioned, it is incredibly difficult and time consuming to get out a ladder and climb up there to change things out often. Any suggestions would be amazing!

Three – Room Arrangement
I actually like how my room is arranged. It pretty much is idea. I need to work a little bit on making a more dedicated space for writing materials, but other than that, it is good. The big issue is that next year, I will be going from 24 to 29 students which is going to require a major room overhaul if I don’t want to lose any of the room components that I currently have.

Four – Engagement/Focus
My school uses a scripted reading program which makes it difficult to fully engage the students. I don’t know the answer to this one. It’s like the million dollar question at our school. How do we use the required materials but get our students super engaged? If anyone has the answer, please fill me in!

Five - Shift of Control
I’m good at this some years, and it’s difficult other years. This year, I had many students who wanted to be self-sufficient, but because of that, they ran the class amok. It came back, in many ways, to the engagement issue. They knew they needed a sharp pencil, so they’d walk over and get one. Great! Except that it happened while I was in the middle of doing a mini-lesson. And for them, that seemed okay because they weren’t engaged, so it didn’t seem like it was a critical time. No matter how often I discussed appropriate times to do that sort of thing, there were just certain students that it never clicked with and it happened to be those who I had trouble getting engaged. I need to work on shifting the control from myself to the students in a way that they take ownership of the classroom and their learning.

I feel like a terrible teacher for having so many areas I need to work on. Ugh!

Although I want more, I do have a variety of seating options including tables and chairs. I also have the room mostly organized - or at least I did - so that there were different organizational areas around the room for different purposes and materials. All student materials are easily accessible and easy for students to find. The room is comfortable, relaxing and fun and the students love being in it. Students, at times and depending on the year, are encouraging to each other and have a base knowledge for how to work in groups or partners.

Ah! It feels like I have so many changes to make now. I'm excited to keep reading the book and hopefully make some good plans for next year that will help my students and I have a successful year.

June Currently

Just quickly linking up with Farley for this month's Currently! Check out what I'm up to and head on over to Oh' Boy 4th Grade to share what's going on with you.

How the Nutshell Began {+ Summer Goals}

Have you heard of the A-M-A-Z-I-N-G link-up that Miss Monica of I Heart Grade 3 is having this summer? If you haven't you should seriously check it out! It's week 2, but you can jump on board at any time!
Since I missed week 1 (even though I don't need to), I'm going to try to squeeze in the topics from both weeks because - why not?!

How It All Began

Why I Started Blogging

Our story begins when I graduated from college in 2010. You see, I was an out-of-state graduate, which for many majors is no big deal, but in teaching - it's a pain in the butt. It took me months to get my paperwork through the system in my home state so that I would be able to teach and another few months for me to get off my lazy bum and decide to register to teach ENL students as well. That following school year, I was without a teaching job, but I still wanted to learn more about being in the classroom. I headed online to learn more about what to expect and there I found the holy grail!

Teacher blogs! More specifically, one teacher blog (which for the life I me, I can't remember the name of and I am so embarrassed!)

Anywho, this wonderful teaching blog was an anonymous blog full of funny classroom stories, wacky colleagues with fabulous nicknames, and general quirkiness. I'm pretty sure I wanted to be just like this teacher - although I certainly did not want to work with some of the folks she had to work with.

From there, the idea, for me, of teaching blogs and finding teacher resources online caught fire. Once I finally got a job the following school year, I learned about the amazing ideas on Pinterest, how to harness the power of Donors Choose to bring great materials to my classroom, and eventually, how to find absolutely anything I need on Teachers Pay Teachers. I am seriously unsure how I didn't learn about TPT sooner!

Right before my second year of teaching, Teaching In A Nutshell was born.

A stroll down memory lane!

My Summer Goals

I also want to quickly share these since I missed last week!

#1: Prepare for Baby!
I have a craft room in need of a serious makeover! I've already started sorting and organizing things into brand new containers (yay!), but now the hard work begins of transferring it all to the basement. Yes, I'm lazy. I'm really excited to paint the room, start getting some adorable baby furniture, and - fingers crossed - tackle some sweet baby Pinterest projects!

#2: Build Teachers Pay Teachers Store
My TPT store is Teaching In A Nutshell. I only have 13 items in my store and only 8 followers. Pretty lame. I have a calendar full of projects to complete so that I can amp up my store and hopefully make it more successful. I've mostly focused on tools I can use in my own classroom so far, but we use a district mandated program, so what I need is somewhat limited. This summer, I'm going to focus on creating things that I know will be useful for teachers and students whether I am able to use it in my room or not.

#3: Vegas Success
I'm headed to Vegas this summer and I have all my cool things ready to bring with me! I kind of teeter between being outgoing and being a wallflower, so my goal is to make sure that I put myself out there so that I can meet as many amazing teachers as I can!

That's it for me!

Head on over and link up with Monica, too!