Sunday, February 24, 2013

A Winner and a Poll

It's time to announce the winner of the give away that included ALL THIS GOOD STUFF!
As I went to select the winner, I realized I have to get more techie at these give aways.  I printed out all the comments and numbered them in order.  I wish blogger would number them as they are posted!  There were 37 comments total but only 36 were entries.  I plugged the numbers into's True Random Number Generator and number 29 was picked.  So, who has the 29th comment/entry? 
The winner is
NIKKI B.!!!!
Nikki, email with your full name and mailing address and I will get your goodies out to you. I've been having some email trouble, but it should be fixed now.  If your email is bounced back to you for some reason, just leave a comment on this post and let me know.  I promise, one way or another,  you will get your winnings! :-)  Thanks to everyone who entered.


One of the things I asked was for you to tell what your favorite subject is to teacher. Of the 36 entries, 35 of you shared what subject you love teaching. Some of you included more than one answer.  Teachers love teaching! I am showing the results of my extraordinarily unscientific poll in two ways.  Since some gave more than one answer, I first counted just the first response given.  Then, I counted all responses.  Here are the results.

Your Favorite Subjects To Teach Are:

Subject                              First Responses          All Responses
Reading/Lang. Arts                   15                               15
Math                                           10                               11
Science                                         5                                 6
Social Studies                              4                                 8
ELA                                              1                                 1
Writing                                        0                                 1

I was really surprised that writing wasn't a stronger contender.  I actually really love to teach writing.  It's one of the things I really miss this year because I am always doing either guided reading or math.  I wasn't surprised that math was so popular.  I consider myself a literacy person, but I also love math.  I think that reading can be so ambiguous.  Progress is usually shown over time.  Not the case in math as much. In most cases, we can show a friend two or three different ways to understand a math concept and most of the time they are able to do it.  Love when you see that light bulb go on!  In reading, it is more like a fluorescent bulb.  The lights eventually go on, but they need a little warm up time to get to full strength!

And on that note, it is Sunday night so of course I will be grading some papers as I watch the Oscars with time taken out for some Walking Dead! Talk to you soon!

Dr. Seuss Door - Quick & Easy!

So, next week is the big Seuss Week.  My school is celebrating in a big way with many activities planned for every day.  One of the activities we are doing again this year is the door decorating contest.  If you've been around, you might remember the My Many Colored Days door decoration and activity that my friends did last year.  It involved a poem activity and was a lot of fun.

This year, I don't have a homeroom to decorate a door.  My room is pretty much my office, but I still wanted to decorate my door.  This is why I called the post "Dr. Seuss Door - Quick & Easy." This was going to be quick.  I actually did it all in one day, start to finish!

Since I didn't have students to complete an activity, I decided to Google a Dr. Seuss poem.  Here's the final creation.
Now, you should know there's not an original thought going on here!  I totally copied this from an image I found on Google.  And, I would love to give credit to someone for it but there doesn't seem to be anyone to be found.  This is the original image that gave me the idea for the door.
Cute, right?  However, in looking for the original site or creator to give credit I ran into a dead end.  Here's the link for the Google search.  And, here's a link to it on Pinterest.  However, nothing seems to link to anything else.  So, if you are the hat maker. . . Thanks for the idea!  And, leave a comment so I can happily credit you.
UPDATE:  I knew someone would know where this came from!  Thanks to Mrs. Parker from the blog Learning with Mrs. Parker for knowing the source.  Before I get to that, check out Mrs. Parker's blog.  The link will take you to a great linky party she did for Read Across America.  Tons of great ideas!   The hat poem is from Mrs. Krull's blog Of Primary Importance.  She is using it for a shared reading lesson.  Here's the best part.  She has the entire poem available for download on her site!  The link for her blog will take you to that post.  So, thanks to both Mrs. Parker and Mrs. Krull!
To make the door hat, I just taped a bunch of red and white construction paper together and used an overhead projector to project the poem.  I copied it with some black Sharpies and was done.  The various book characters you see around it are just more image searches that I printed out.  A quick and easy Seuss door!  You can't go wrong with anything that encourages reading, reading, and more reading!
I was going to do a post with lots of fun links related to Dr. Seuss, but honestly there is just so much out there a quick Google search will give you plenty.  The one thing I did think I would share is where you can download a "Dr. Seuss" type font.  It would be great to have for creating signs or activities for you classroom that look Seuss-y, if that's even a word!
The font is called DOCTOR SOOS and can be found at  That link will take you directly to the Doctor Soos font.  It is free for personal use, so download and create!  Here's a quick screen shot from the site to show you what the font looks like.

Hope your Dr. Seuss activities and celebrations are amazing this week!
I'll be back later today to post the winner of the give away.
Have a great Sunday!

Saturday, February 16, 2013

It's A Give Away!

Update 2/22/13: The give away is officially closed!  Thanks to all that entered.  The winner will be posted this weekend, probably Sunday night.  Best of luck to you all!

So, I mentioned that I  wanted to do a give away for a very special reason. 

Today is the day! 

After all, it is the weekend.  What better way to start the weekend?

I know!  I was going to wait a bit so that I could work on the stinky spam problem.  But, it seems that just adding a word verification has solved the problem (she whispered under her breath in fear of tempting the evil spam trolls.)  Before we get to the goodies, let me tell you why I'm so happy to be doing this.  During my hit or miss posting the past few months it seems my little blog hit over 1,000 followers!  I was stunned when I saw that.  Now, I know in blog land 1,000+ followers is not such a big deal.  But, for me it is H U G E!  I was stunned to see that, despite the fact I haven't been posting regularly, you have all stuck around and even a few more joined out little party.  It brought a huge smile to my face and was a major factor in motivating me to get back to blogging.  And, thanks so much to everyone who had such nice comments about losing my teaching mojo.  Your kind words are very much appreciated. 

It is that restored motivation for which I can't thank you enough.  Many of you have commented in the past that you come to my blog for ideas and motivation.  Well, it is your coming here that motivates me and has been just what I needed this school year.  To thank you all for what you give to me, I have a little something to give to you.  I've collected some things that make me smile in hopes they will make you smile!

Before we go on, I should mention that I am limiting this give away to followers of my blog only.  I've never done that with a give away, but it seems fair this time since it is a thank you to them (you!) for bringing me to over 1,000 followers and sticking around during my funk. However, if you want in on the loot just become a follower and join the fun!

The give away includes the goodies
shown in the two pictures below!

Good stuff, right? :-)  Let me tell you why they make me smile.

Mini Stamper Markers - I know these are great for things like having your friends make rebus stories, but I use them in a totally different way.  These markers usually make their appearance during math.  When working on a whole class lesson, I will walk around and look over my friends' shoulders while they work.  If things are going well, I simply lean over, give a quick verbal compliment, stamp the math problem, and move on.   I also switch off on markers so they get different stamps as we are working.  They honestly get so motivated by this you would think I was throwing money at them!    The markers are washable and non-toxic, so sometimes I will stamp the back of their hands instead of the papers.  They love that!  If I have a friend who is struggling a bit, after we work it out together I will give them a bunch of stamps for working so hard and not giving up.  Those are the best smiles ever.

Tri Write Pencils - I order a bunch of these with my school order each year for a very special group of friends.  These are the perfect pencils for my friends who have organization issues, ADD, or just tend to be those kids who are always knocking things off their desks.  Take a look at the picture below, and see if you can figure out why I like them so much.  I might have even highlighted it for you. :-)
Yup!  These pencils are triangular shaped.  They are the same size as normal number two Ticonderoga pencils, but they have flat sides.  These pencils stay where you put them!  They don't roll off the desk or under a paper.  I can't tell you how a simple change to this type of pencil has saved the time lost searching under the desk or  under papers several times a day.  It may seem like a little thing, but it is so helpful to my aforementioned friends.  These pencils are also great for your friends who are having trouble with their grip.  The three sides help with finger placement without the need for a pencil grip.

Sparkle Heart Accents - Who says hearts are only for Valentine's Day?  I included these hearts because they are the exact hearts I used to make a game called Heart Breakers.  I posted about it in THIS POST.  Heart Breakers is a fun review game that your friends will love and you can play anytime of the year.  My previous post will tell you exactly how to set up the cards and play the game.  It will take you just a few minutes to make the hearts, and then you have the game forever.  It's a great review game for all grade levels, seriously K-12 can play this!

Bulletin Board Letters - I like easy.  I like colorful.  I like pre-made, colorful bulletin board letters! These letters are just fun.  Check out the back of the package.
TPT Gift Certificate - And finally, what I consider to be the best part of the whole give away. . . a $20 gift certificate to TEACHERS PAY TEACHERS.

If you haven't visited this site, you need to go there now!  Teachers create materials from all curriculum areas and post them for sale on this site.  Honestly, you can find pretty much anything you need there.  I like the site because it is a great way to support our colleagues, and it is full of great stuff!  Once you buy something, you can download it immediately.  Also, most everything is so reasonably price you can really get a lot for $20.  I have been toying with the idea of starting a store there myself, but haven't worked up to it.

So, there we go!  A great big THANK YOU give away to those who have been nice enough to follow my little blog and bring a smile to my face.  I think I love give aways so much because, well. . . who doesn't like getting a surprise?  I still send cards and notes via snail mail for the same reason.  How nice is it to get an unexpected something in the mail that isn't a bill?!

Here's the info you need to enter:

1. Leave a comment!  That's your entry.   One comment/entry per a person, please.  I usually like to ask a question for a comment entry, so how about this:  What subject do you most enjoy teaching?  I'll post the total responses for you all after the give away closes.  Or, you can leave any old comment you like!

2. Be a follower of Teaching My Friends. I don't want to exclude anyone, but this is a give away to thank those who have helped my little blog have over 1,000+ followers.  Of course, everyone is welcome to follow and enter.  There's a "Follow" button down a bit on the right side of the page. 
The give-away closes on Friday, February 22, 2013, at 8:00 P.M. eastern time. I will randomly pick a winner from the comments and post the winner that weekend. 
Good Luck!
Disclaimer: Nothing in this give away is sponsored in any way. 
It's all fun stuff purchased out of my own pocket to thank you!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Writing Conferences in Small Groups

Friends Don't Let Friends Conference Alone!         
A while back, I wrote a post about how I have my friends find peer editors during writer's workshop.  I always like my friends to meet with each other and get a peer's perspective.  It benefits both.  However, as the teacher we also conference with our friends.  For a long time, I did this one on one.  I would call a friend who was ready to meet with me to conference on their current writing piece.  Invariably, this would lead to a group of children waiting to meet with me before they could go on.  It just wasn't an effective system.  I had to come up with a better plan. 
I started to think about my friends and the different strengths they had.  Friend A was really good at starting with a good hook but would lack details in their writing.  Friend B may be good at adding details, but struggled with a closing.  Friend C had trouble understanding how the order of events of a story was confused but was good at adding details.  I realized I had to get these friends together for conferencing.  Something more than paired peer conferencing.  Something that involved me so that I could identify the area most in need of help and guide a conference in that direction.  That's when I began round table conferencing. 
When I am ready to conference with a student, there are usually a few ready to meet with me at the same time.  I call them all to the table and explain that we are going to meet together to help each other make our writing even better.  Usually there are about 4 or 5 students at the table.  I tell them 5 great brains working together will think of ways to make each others papers even more amazing! 
We begin with the student sitting to one side of me.  I quickly read over the paper and find the teaching point I want to work on.  I will then ask the author for their input on it.  Then, we turn it over to the group.  Here's an example of how a typical round table conference might go:
Me:  John, I read here where the boys went to the park to play soccer.  I'm really having trouble forming a mental image of the setting.  How do you think we can add to your piece to help the reader make a mental image of the park?
John:  Ummmmm. . . (Now, this is a fairly easy one but often the author of the piece doesn't know how to fix the teaching point you've picked.  If they do, they will quickly tell you and you can move on.  But, I find that they are usually at a loss and this is how the group helps.  Rather than me telling or heavily hinting at how to fix it, I turn to the group.)
Me:  Okay, guys.  John has a great piece here about some boys going to the park, but I'm having some trouble getting a mental image of the park. (Sometimes the author will read aloud the part he/she is having trouble with.)  How can we help John create those mental images of the park in his writing?
Friend 1:  He can tell what he park looks like.
Friend 2:  He can have the boy talk about the park.
Me:  Great ideas.  What would that sound like if I read it?  (At this point, they will start to create sentences that tell what the park looks like.  As they speak, I will quickly jot down key words that they use.  I don't write out exactly what they have said, just key words and/or phrases.  That's important!  Also, once the conversation starts, the author (John) will sometimes have heard enough to be able to also contribute to the conversation.
Me: Wow, that was really great thinking.  John, did you hear anything that you liked and think you could include in your paper?  (99% of the time you will get an enthusiastic yes.)
At this point I have the author thank the group for their help, and send the student off to revise their paper.  But, they don't go empty handed!  I give them the paper of key words/phrases that I jotted down during the conference to take with them.  Having the key words prompts them in what they need to write.  I haven't given them a transcript of what was said, so they still have to create their own sentences and determine how to fit it in the piece.  But, they have just enough on the paper to support that independent writing back at their desk or writing spot. 
Once that author goes back to their desk, everyone shifts over one chair and we go on to the next author. If another student comes up ready to conference with me, they take the empty seat and we keep going.  It may sound silly to have everyone rotate one seat, but it provides enough controlled movement to keep your most itchy-got-to-move kids interested.  It also signals to the class that a seat is open.  You would be shocked at how they will race to get to that seat.  Despite how it may sound, this whole process is fairly quick.  We just don't have forever to spend with each student. I keep these conferences moving.

 One reason our writing conferencing moves along pretty well is that I am generally focusing on one thing the student needs to revise in some way.  And truthfully, that's about all they should be focused on at that time.  When you overload them with too many fixes, nothing sticks.  They become overwhelmed by all the fixes and just see that their paper isn't good enough.  When you focus on one or two points, it becomes more of a learning experience. 

This probably comes down to what your philosophy is when it comes to writing.  I don't see the value in trying to make each piece of writing a perfect piece each time.  I prefer to hit one or two major issues and use them as teaching points.  Of course, students are expected to edit and peer edit the whole paper to the best of their ability and it has to make sense when we read it, but perfection is not expected by me.  I find that over time, the teaching points we focus on each time carry over to the next writing piece and their writing shows real improvement as we move along the school year.  I'm looking for that progress over time.  So, back to round table writing conferences. . .
Here's why I find this type of teacher-student writing conferencing to work so well:
  • Our learning time is so precious we can't have students waiting around to conference with the teacher or doing busy work while they wait.  Having this type of group conference keeps more students actively involved and thinking.
  • As the teacher, I can pick the teaching point that needs to be addressed.  Although we are conferencing in a group, it is still very much a teacher led conference.
  • It highlights the strengths of our students. The students who are good at certain things, such as thinking of good hooks, will speak up loud and clear when you go to the group for help.  Each child has a chance to showcase their strengths. 
  • In turn, it supports those students who have an area of need.  The children get to hear their peers come up with ideas that are helpful to them. It means so much more to them when it comes from a peer.  Teachers are always teaching, but when another student does the teaching they listen!
  • If you are taking anecdotal records for writing, this is a great time to get them for a number of students at the same time.  From their responses and contributions to the conversation, you are able to get a lot of informatin on their thinking about the writing craft and how it is done. It's a window for the teacher. Many times I have been delightfully surprised at a contribution given by a student during the group conference. However, I've also been surprised at students that I thought were on the mark with something, but their comments during the conference showed me differently.  Even if you aren't taking notes, it's valuable information to be aware of.
  • It's a great way to teach the writing trait voice in a meaningful way.  My friends have the opportunity to hear their peers writing many, many times.  After a while, I can read a piece aloud and many can tell me who wrote it.  They really get to know each other's writing voices.
  • It will greatly improve your students peer editing, that time where your students meet one-on-one with each other.  Just by sitting in on the group conferencing, they are learning how to peer edit.  They are learning what an editor looks for when reading a piece.  Think about it.  In your round table conferencing you are modeling editing and revising for them over and over and over again.
  • I have heard students refer to other students in very positive ways.  I've heard unsolicited compliments given on writing pieces.  I have heard students direct each other to students for specific help saying, "Oh, go ask Anya.  She's really good at . . . "  They know this from our conferencing. 
If you plan to try this type of writing conference, I would have one word of caution.  You really must establish a climate of camaraderie.  That table, that class has to be a safe place to share your writing.  The goal of everyone at the table is to make each other's writing EVEN BETTER.  We are there to help, to critique but not criticise.  Establishing a feeling of teamwork is one of the reasons I have every author thank the table when they leave.  
The first few times you do round table conferencing, your friends may be a bit cautious in what they say.  Once they have done it a couple of times and see it is okay to share their writing and to offer ideas and suggestions, I promise it will take off! 

Also, know that this doesn't mean I never conference one-on-one with my friends.  Sometimes they do need to hear just that one knowledgeable voice of the teacher.  But, more often than not I find round table writing conferencing to be the ticket.
By the way,

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Losing My Teaching Mojo

“Mojo” as defined by Marshall Goldsmith:

“that positive spirit toward what we are doing now that starts on the inside and radiates to the outside.”

As many of you know, this has been a school year of big change for me.  I went from being a homeroom teacher to a push-in basic skills teacher.  HUGE CHANGE!  It wasn't something I asked for or wanted but something I was assigned.  So, come September I went into this new position with a positive attitude and hopes for the best.
It is now February and in those few months I must be honest and say it has been a bit of a roller coaster ride for me.  Going into this new position I really had no idea what to expect.  I have spent the past decade or so in a self-contained classroom working with high ability children.  I now travel from room to room working with children who are at the other end of that spectrum.  Sometime around mid-November, I realized that I had lost my enthusiasm for what I do.  I truly felt that what had once been a career that I loved had become a job that I do.

But, let me tell you what didn't cause that.  It wasn't the children.  When you work with high ability students as I did for many year past, you see that they rarely believe there is something they don’t know.  And when they do run into the unknown they don’t hesitate to tackle it with the belief that they will achieve.  Those are not my kids this year.

Working with students who have limited success in literacy has been a challenge and a treasure.  In fact, working with those children is what has kept me going.  I love teaching these children.  I love helping them realize they are readers, that they can answer those tough questions, that they do have a lot to say about what they are reading.    I spend so much time thinking of different ways to teach them that skill that just doesn't seem to be clear.  I love finding new ways to show them that they can do this.  I love the look on their face when they understand that I ask for more from them because I believe in them.  I believe that they can do more, and if they can’t I will do everything in my power to help them.  I love when they start to believe in themselves and see themselves as capable learners.  Working with my new friends this year is the best part of every day and I continue to give 100% of myself in teaching these children.

So, if I love working with my new friends so much, 
how did I lose my teaching mojo?

This new position has been a huge adjustment for me.  A change I thought I would manage with no problem.  After all, I have always been one to embrace change.  Change brings growth.  I was prepared to happily grow in my new position.  It didn't quite happen that way.  Below are a few of the issues that became personal obstacles I didn't expect to impact me as they did.  Some are silly while some are more substantial.  There are a few other more complex issues that I've chosen not to write about for privacy reasons, but I think those below are enough to make my point.

Not having a Home:  I travel to several different classrooms in the course of a day.  I pull along a cart everywhere I go with the supplies I need for each class.  Of course, it never has all I need.  When working with a friend, I may suddenly think of another way to teach the skill but not have the manipulatives or chart I need with me. So frustrating! I do still have my old classroom, but only get there on my prep period. Other than that, I'm in other classrooms.

Multiple Teachers = Multiple Lessons:  I teach across two grade levels in two subjects.  Some days I am repeating the same lesson in different classrooms and some days I am doing a different lesson in every class.  I think the issue is that I travel from a literacy class in one grade to a literacy class in another grade and from a math class to another math class in the same grade. It’s rare that my classes are doing the same thing on the same day.  There is very little time between the classes, and it makes it difficult to switch gears so quickly.

Meshing Teaching Styles:  I work with teachers who couldn’t be more different in their teaching styles.  I tend to be more organized and like to have clear expectations of my students.  I also like to joke around with my students to a degree.  But, every teacher is different.  Some teachers are much more relaxed and embrace a degree of chaos while others are very structured and don’t allow for a lot of “embrace the moment” within the classrooms.  My teachers tend to fall all over this spectrum!  It’s challenging to travel from room to room where the expectations and atmosphere are so different.  To be clear, I am not saying good or bad.  One teaching style is not better or worse than the other.  It’s just different and as a teacher traveling from room to room, I feel I have to constantly adjust how I behave in each room so that I mesh with my teachers. 

Extra Strength to Mild:  I like having a core of students, one homeroom class, that I can work with all day.  When you have a class for the whole day, your teaching doesn't stop.  You are not just teaching a subject, you are molding a child.  It comes from being with them all day, connecting on a deeper level, and having the ability to guide and teach in all aspects of the day. It’s like your students get the “extra strength” version of you.   Now, I sometimes feel as if the impact I could have has been diluted by seeing my students only a period or two a day rather than being with them all day.  Does that make any sense? 

Not Being the Decision Maker:  I can offer suggestions, but ultimately what happens in the classroom is up to that homeroom teacher.  I can think one way to teach something will be (in my opinion) more effective for our students, but if the homeroom teacher doesn’t agree it isn’t going to happen.  If I were co-teaching with one teacher all day long, I am sure this would not be a problem.  In those situations, it is your (plural!) class.  You are truly co-teaching.   However, when you are in a classroom for a period here and there each day you just don’t have the say.  And, I get that!  It’s not my classroom.  I come and I go.  My teachers are great at doing all they can to make me feel welcome and a part of the classroom, but ultimately it is their classroom and I respect that.  Nevertheless, it can be frustrating at times. I would even say that the overall loss of control of what I do has been the hardest of all for me.

Being Tied to a Strict Schedule:  Since I travel to different rooms, I have a schedule that would make airports jealous!  The only difference is my flight always leaves and arrives on time!  I have a schedule that demands I am in each room for a certain amount of time and then move along to the next class.  There’s no extending a lesson because we are having a teachable moment. I have about five minutes between classes and have to get there. I can only plan lessons that can be done in a certain amount of time.  I miss having some flexibility in my schedule. 

Not Teaching All Subjects:  One of the things I loved about being an elementary teacher was the variety in our day.  I enjoyed teaching all subjects.  Okay, let's be honest.  Maybe not science so much!  But, I loved the variety.  I now have limited variety within my day.  I'm teaching either reading or math.  I love teaching reading and would love to do it all day long if I had more control over how I do it.  Nevertheless, I was surprised at how much I miss teaching all the subjects in the course of the day. One of the things I miss is being able to integrate subjects and do cross curricular projects.

I Miss Special Projects:  I don’t get to do the fun stuff anymore.  If the school is making cards for the soldiers or we want to do something fun for a holiday, I’m not in the room.  I visit two of my classrooms for just a guided reading period.  That time is used for that.  If something fun happens, it happens at some other point in the day.  Understandably, the teachers want to take advantage of having two of us in the room and don’t schedule those kinds of things while I’m there.  I miss that!

I Want to Decorate A Classroom:  I told you some of my issues were silly.  But, I really do miss decorating a classroom.  I was in a local teacher store this past weekend picking up some things for the giveaway coming up, and I was dying to buy some new borders and posters. But, I just have no need for them now.

So, how did I get my teaching mojo back?

It was easier than I knew.  I simply realized that I had to focus on what I can control,  what I can do, and what is going well.  My work with my new friends continues to be the best part of my day despite all the constraints.  I am lucky to work with great teachers who do all they can to make me feel welcome and a part of the class.  I've gotten back into blogging.  When I lost my teaching mojo, I also lost my teacher blogging mojo. If I wasn't excited about what was happening during my school day, how could I come here and be excited to share?  Once I decided that I needed to turn things around, coming back and seeing that many of you stuck with me despite my irregular blogging was a major bright spot!  

So, in the end maybe I found my teaching mojo by putting an end to the pity party and realizing it was up to me to make the best of a new situation, to make the best of each day. And once that decision was made, I've happily been rediscovering “that positive spirit toward what we are doing now that starts on the inside and radiates to the outside.” 
                                                                                                    picture source
On a total aside, is it terrible and tacky that I want to limit the upcoming giveaway to followers of my blog? Is that a blogging no-no?  I just want to do something to thank those that were here even when I wasn't.  By the way, adding word verification to my comments seems to have solved my spam problem!  This means I will probably have the give away up sooner rather than later. :-)

Sunday, February 10, 2013


Okay, as you can tell I've been absent from blogging for a bit.  There's a long story behind it that I want to share.  I also have new posts ready to go and a fun give-away planned for a very special reason. 

However. . . I need the help of experienced bloggers out there!

I am getting killed with spam comments.  There are tons of them daily!!! Has this happened to you?

I am deleting them every day, but I am wondering if anyone has any tips on how to stop them.  I am going to go ahead with new posts, but I can't do a give-away where you leave a comment to enter when my comments are being so terribly spammed!  It makes me so angry!  Don't these people have anything better to do?  I know it's probably some evil program that just blasts them, but someone had to come up with that!

Sadly, I have added word verification to my comments now because of it.   I didn't want to do word verification because I know I hate it when a blog makes me jump through hoops just to leave a comment.  This looks fairly simple, so I hope nobody gets too annoyed!   I'm also really hoping that will do the trick, but when it comes to all this spam . . .
I would really appreciate any ideas or tips you have out there.

So, on Tuesday I am planning to post a little explanation of why I've been sort of MIA for a while.  After that, I have a couple of posts planned regarding a couple of fun purchases I made, a post regarding a leveled-reading teacher resource book I've been using, and some center activities I've made.  I also have a Valentine's Day printable I would like to get up before Thursday, but it still  needs some tweaking so no promises on that one. :-)

Last but not least is the give-away!  I'm really excited about why I'm doing it and I think you are going to love what I want to give a lucky winner, but I just can't do it until I get this spam thing under control.  Hopefully, I will be able to post the give away by next weekend. 

So, thanks to those of you still coming back despite my hit or miss posting of late.  Hopefully, I can get this spam thing under control and we can resume normal activities!