Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Whatcha Wearing - Back To School Teacher Style Linky

When Marie over at The Hands On Teacher in First asked who else was excited to pick out their back to school outfit, I was one of the first to say, "Me, me, me!!!"  Like I mentioned in a previous post a couple of weeks ago about the clothing goodies I found, having two little girls makes it hard for me to spend money on myself.  But every teacher needs a great outfit for the first day....right?

The fabulous dress I found and talked about in my previous post.

But, I'm not one to stop at just the outfit.  In addition to clothing, there is one accessory that is JUST AS IMPORTANT, IF NOT MORE SO.  And that my friends is shoes! You know what I'm talking about, right?!?!? We are standing on our feet close to 6+ hours a day.  At the end of just one hour my feet are killing me, yet alone an entire day. I'm one of those teachers who would start the first 30 minutes in heels and then kick them off under my desk (with the collection of other heels that were discarded) and slip on some more comfortable shoes.

However, it's important that the shoes I DO slip on are not only comfortable but also professional looking....  And let me tell you, I have found that shoe!  Well, to be more honest, a co-worker of mine, our amazing third grade teacher, found that shoe and shared it with all of us at work and within a few weeks, I would dare say almost every teacher on our staff was sporting a pair of these shoes.  And we were in LOVE.

At this point you must be asking yourself, "Well Katie, what shoes are they?"  Well let me show you.....they are these shoes. (I have the red pair!)

Picture from

They are called Tieks and never in my entire life, have I come across a ballet slipper that is so unbelievably comfortable that you almost forget you are wearing shoes.  And I'm not kidding.  These are not your typical ballet shoes.  They are designed in such a way, that you can literally fold them in half and throw them into your purse.  Now, I'm not going to lie.  They aren't cheap.  But my mom always told me, you get what you pay for and honestly when it comes to shoes, I DO BELIEVE THAT!  I've worn shoes that I've regretted spending even a single dime on but these are not one of them.

When you buy a pair of Tieks, you aren't just buying the shoe.  You are buying a complete package. Their attention to detail in even just the box they arrive in is beautiful.  And not only does Tieks offer comfortable shoes, but they offer them in a variety of colors and designs, which makes them so much more fun!  On top of all of that, they know what good customer service is all about.  I had ordered my mom a pair of these shoes for Mother's Day (she's a retired nurse so she appreciates a good comfortable shoe too) but I had ordered the wrong size.  When the shoe came in, my mom called Tieks and they told her to hold onto the shoe and they would send the correct size and to just mail the ones she was returning in the box they were sending with prepaid postage. Say what?!? Most places you have to pay to send things back. Plus, all the shoes come with these amazing bows - which I love to have my young daughter rock in her hair. haha

Kaidyn rocking the Tieks' bow from my shoe box. :-)

I could go on and on about how amazing these shoes are! But I really want to get to some even more exciting news - Tieks has so generously offered to give one of my readers a $100 gift card to their boutique!!!  When I contacted them, I was told that many of the staff members have parents who were teachers and really appreciated us and what we do.  How sweet!!  :-)

So now you have an opportunity to own a pair of these fabulous shoes yourself.  I'm so honored and excited to be teaming up with this fabulous company for this giveaway! So go ahead, check out their site at and pick out the shoe you want to get when you win this gift card. ;-)

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In addition to the $100 Tieks gift card, I am also giving away my Mega Poster Bundle from my TpT store.  Happy Back to School time!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, July 12, 2013

Literature Circles - Wiki Style

Literature Circles are a popular activity in many grades, including 5th.  While I, like many teachers, have all the literature circle reflection sheets, I knew I wanted to try something different.  After exploring wikis a bit for my thesis and during my masters program back in 2009, I had finally decided it was time to work with them more by implementing them into my classroom as a means to do a literature study. Now, I must admit, the idea for this wasn't something I picked up on my own but through the book called Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts and Other Powerful Web Tools for Classroom by Will Richardson. This is a wonderful book and I highly encourage you to get a copy when you can. Even though it was last updated in 2010, it still provides useful and relevant information even this day and age of changing technology.  He talked about his experience of using a wiki to do a literature study with his class.

This idea sounded great, as I knew my kids (and I) were tired of the same old worksheet driven literature circles and could use something new and fresh. Without much idea of how and what to put on my pages I began with trepidation into this new world. However, within a day it was easy to see how exciting and engaging this wiki was to my students. That year, we chose a book called Sixth-grade glommers, norks and me in which the main character Allie is entering middle school. This was a book that the students could relate well to, as they themselves would be entering middle school the following year.

When I was thinking of pages to create for the wiki, I used the book as a reference point.  Throughout the book, Allie creates new words to represent situations she is going through. So I thought that would be a great first page to create on our wiki to have the students create words that they made up.  As it stands today, on our "Dictionary" page we have over forty words created by my class of only six students from that year!!! However, because I wanted to have my students discuss with one another the book, I also created a "Chapter Summary" page. On that page we discussed our thoughts and feelings on each chapter and the events in it. The students were required to post one reflection per chapter and one response post in which they respond back to other classmates. Despite having only the requirements of two postings, each students ended up going way above and beyond that.  (You can view all of their discussions here - Discussion Page)

We also discussed book themes and so a new page was born.  The general book themes were listed and then the students were encouraged to again use the discussion tab as a way to communicate about what themes they thought were present in the book.  Some thoughts of themes that fitted really nicely that even I didn't think of!

Additionally, we also created a couple more pages in which we discussed the characters and their attributes and characteristics.  One of my students also came up with a new page called Questions for the Author.  As they were reading the book, they thought of things they would ask the author if they could.  I even sent the author a link to our wiki but sadly never heard back.  Regardless, the students still enjoyed listing what they could ask if given the opportunity.  

While our wiki was pretty basic, I found that my students were much more engaged than with the traditional reflection sheets.  Have you ever used a wiki?  What changes or comments do you have regarding ours?

You can visit our wiki here: Sixth-grade, glommers, norks, and me

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Shopping for Back to School Clothes....for Me!

I was at the mall today with my two girls, and just about every store I looked at were advertising a Back to School Sale. I wanted to run into each one and scream "NO - not yet!" but instead I just calmly walked on by - trying to convince myself that our August start date wasn't that close. That is until I came to The Limited. No where did they mention Back to School savings but instead had a big window display that showed clothing on sale as low as $6.00. Now that is my kind of sale!!!

When it comes to buying myself clothes, I don't do it as often as I once did. It seems like a very long time ago that I used to go out shopping all the time for clothes but now with two little girls any shopping I do for clothes is typically for them.  I'm all about buying Kenzie (who just celebrated her 2nd birthday on Monday!) and Kaidyn the most adorable outfits.....but for myself - not so much.  I'll let you all in on a little secret.  I'm very concious about my body now.  After giving birth to two beautiful and healthy baby girls, as recently as 3.5 months ago, my body is no longer what it once was.  I'm still working to lose the baby weight that I gained for my youngest.  I'm down to the last 8 lbs.  And when I say I'm "working" to lose it, what I really mean is I'm hoping it will just disappear.  I mean, who has time to work out?  I'm busy chasing a two year old and carrying around my 3 month old who weighs in the 95 percentile!  I mean come on!  Shouldn't that alone be enough to get the weight off?!?!

I know....I know. I have to work for it, if I want it to go.  I'm working up the motivation. I did buy the Post-Partum workout videos. I've "looked" at them.  But whenever I have time to do the workouts, I find other things to do.  Like nap. People always say, when the baby sleeps, you should sleep. I still follow that rule. :-)  But anyway I digress, my lack of working out is another conversation for another day....or not! ;-) What I want to talk about today is what I DID BUY FOR MYSELF!

My style is not really one of the latest fashions but more what looks cute and most importantly feels comfortable (and is easily cleaned since the chances of my little ones rubbing something disgusting on me is pretty darn good!).  I especially love stores like Banana Republic, The Limited, The Loft and NY and Company who offer teacher discounts!!!  Teacher discount is like music to my ears.

So I did go into The Limited today and found some really great stuff all for only $49.  They were having a 40% off sale on top of their already discounted clothing.  Plus I then got an additional 15% off of that (yes - they will give it to you even on sale items).

I don't typically like to put up pictures of myself but wanted to share my purchases. Just excuse the poor lighting, my super white legs and junky photography.  :-)
White V-Neck T

Black V-Neck T
Front of dress

Love this dress!
For work I like to get staples that I can dress up or down depending on the circumstance.  So stretchy V-neck T's are fabulous in my opinion.  So of course, I scooped up three of them today in black, gray, and white.  All for only $10 a piece.  Then I needed a dress because my little girl, Kaidyn, is getting Christened this Sunday so I found this awesome green dress for only $18 (originally $98!).  This dress will be prefect for Sunday but also for Back to School night too I think.

A week ago, I hit the Outlet stores in Arizona while I was visiting family. I got there of some great button up dress shirts from Banana Republic and a light weight white sweater there.  Also all of that for under $50 too.

Overall, I'm pretty happy with my finds!  Where do you shop for Back to School?  Any great stores that you know of that offer discounts for teachers?

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