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Brainy Apples: June 2013
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Let's Get Aqcuainted Linky Party!

I love participating in linky parties, and I am really excited about this one because I am getting to know some of my bloggy friends better! Latoya from Flying into First is hosting a Let's Get Acquainted linky. I would love it if you would join in the fun!

What you do is choose 3 of the boxes from the board above, but they have to make a line either horizontally, vertically, or diagonally. We are choosing our 3 boxes from the right column.

Dream Vacation
My family loves to travel, so it is hard to choose one destination for our dream vacation, so I will have to cheat a little bit :) We would go on a summer long trip to Europe and visit many countries. We would love to visit Germany and see the castles, Switzerland and see the Alps, southern Italy, the Czech Republic, and Greece to name a few. Our favorite places we have visited so far is Dominica and St. John in the USVI.
Trunk Bay in St. John, USVI
Needless to say, with our love of traveling, Andy and I may look into finding teaching jobs abroad for the 2014-15 school year. We think it would be a great opportunity and experience for us and our children.

Books I am Reading

Right now I am in the midst of a book study with some of my ATUE blogger buddies, but I am a little behind on the reading! Oops :( That book is called "Teaching with the Common Core Standards for English Language Arts: Grades 3-5" by Morrow, Wixson, and Shanahan.
I am also reading "Notice and Note- Strategies for Close Reading" by Beers and Probst because I want to learn more about Close Reads because I have a lot of Close Read products in the works, but I want to make sure they are of the highest quality!

I am not reading anything right now for fun besides magazines, but I will be getting a copy of "Game of Thrones" because all of my friends are talking about the mini-series that was on TV and I think it would be a great read! Have any of you read the book? Did you like it? Is it worth my time, or should I
just watch it on TV?


Well, before my back surgery I loved to exercise (although I maybe didn't do it as often as I should have!), especially hiking. Right now all forms of exercise besides walking has been put on hold until my post-op on July 24, but I will still list outdoor activities as one of my hobbies. And having 3 kids kind of puts any personal hobbies on the back burner because we are so busy making sure they get to where they need to be! If I had enough time in my day, my other hobbies would include: painting (or any other crafty kind of me some Michael's and Hobby Lobby!), DIY house & outdoor/garden projects, watching/going to sporting events especially football, and baking. I can't cook very well, but I can bake and make a delish creme brûlée!

There are my squares from the Tic-Tac-Toe board. I can't wait to read all of yours!

Follow on Bloglovin

Show Us Some Bloglovin' Giveaway!

Many of you have probably heard that Google Reader is going away July 1st. While Google Reader may be leaving us, we don't want YOU to leave us! We hope that you will consider following The Orchard through Bloglovin'! We know change is we thought we would sweeten it up for you a little bit!

Several bloggers have decided to join efforts in creating a giveaway linky for all our fab followers that take the leap and switch over to Bloglovin'. If you already follow us through Bloglovin', YAY! If you don't, just click on the icon on the right sidebar that says "Follow this blog using "Bloglovin'". Then make sure you click the button that says "Follow".  You do have to have an account set up with Bloglovin' to follow blogs, but it is well worth it! When you enter using the Rafflecopter below, be sure to enter using your Bloglovin' username :)

You can click here to move all the blogs you follow over to Bloglovin' so you don't miss any important posts! But please be sure to go to our Bloglovin' link and make sure that you are following us through Bloglovin'. The blue button at the top of our Bloglovin' page should be gray with the word following...if it is blue, please click to follow.

Now, the sweet part for you! Scroll down to enter using the Rafflecopter. PLEASE "like" this post on Bloglovin' after you become a follower. I can't see my followers yet, but I can see who liked the post, so that will be the way I can verify the winners :) There will be 2 winners, and winners get a $20 credit to our TpT store.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Be sure to check out all of these bloggers who are also doing a Bloglovin' giveaway at their blog! You have a chance to win at each blog! If you would like to do your own giveaway, grab our button for your post, link up, and then get the inlinkz code to insert into your post so that the link ups will be visible on your blog. Easy smeasy! :0)
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Free Audio & eBooks!

I wasn't planning on writing a blog post today, so apologies that this isn't very long :) I was surfing around the other day when I made 2 cool discoveries! Two sites that offer free audio and ebook downloads! I wanted to let you all know about these 2 sites because if you are like me, you use some of the summer months to browse for resources you can use next school year. Or you may use some of the summer to read for pleasure. There are so many different books on both of these sites to choose from, depending on your purpose. One of the sites is Books Should Be Free and the other site is The Gutenberg Project.

Books Should Be Free has over 3,000 audio books that you can download in a variety of languages. Pretty cool! From what I have seen, most of the books are classics, which is fine by me because I LOVE reading classic books to my students as well as having them read them themselves. There is something unique about classics that some of today's books lack. And this site is very easy to navigate.
The Gutenberg Project has over 42,000 free ebooks. Also easy to navigate and has a HUGE library of available books to download or simply read on-line.

Tips on How to Use these Awesome Sites

If I were teaching next year, I would use Books Should Be Free to download audio books for my listening center/Listen to Someone Read center; and The Gutenberg Project to download ebooks for my students to read in our small reading groups, Read with Someone center, or independent/free choice reading center. Our school is a Bring Your Own Technology school. My students would be able to download the ebooks at home and bring their technology loaded and ready to go for reading groups. And no worries about students leaving my books at their house :) Or I could download these audio books or ebooks onto our school laptops or desktops and students could use those instead. If you have a class set of iPads or Kindles, you could do the same. Unfortunately you do have to have access to technology in order to fully utilize these resources in your classroom, but even if you don't you can still pull from these sites. You could easily print a portion of a chosen book to use during a Close Read lesson.

I hope you are able to spend some time navigating these sites and finding some audio or ebooks to use in your classroom next year, or even find some summer reading for yourself!
Be sure to leave a comment if you already use these sites, or how you are planning on using these sites so we can learn from each other.

Until Next Time!

P.S. Clip art created by Graphics From the Pond; Dreamlike Magic; and 3 AM Teacher.
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Summer Book Club Fun!

It always seems that during the school year I hear or find out about so many new and exciting things I would like to try in my classroom...problem is, I just don't EVER have enough time to really sit down and thoughtfully sort through all the ideas to figure out which ones I should give my time to and which ones could go by the way side. I do love to spend my summers relaxing by the pool, sleeping in, staying up late sitting next to a fire listening to the sounds of the woods (and sniffing the immense amount of bug spray on my little fam), and sitting on our screened porch during a rain shower. BUT, I also like to use summer to jump in and figure out what I want to do for the next year- i.e. FINALLY sort through all those wonderful ideas I caught wind of during the school year!

We just finished our first year of Common Core implementation. And no matter how much I tried to prepare myself last summer, you always always always find out WAY more when you start doing something that when you were trying to prepare yourself for it! Last summer I tried to get a teeny tiny grip on what the Common Core meant in my classroom. This summer, after a year of experience under my belt, I want to reflect back on what worked, what didn't work, and how I can become a better teacher of the Common Core.

Needless to say, I was SUPER excited when my buddy Mr. Hughes over at An Educator's Life and fellow collaborator at All Things Upper Elementary decided to fearlessly lead a summer book club. Yay! Another person to learn with this summer :)  And even better, the book is Teaching with the Common Core Standards (Grades 3-5) (yeah, the picture over at Amazon says Grades K-2 on the cover, but rest assured it's the right one!). So, know I am able to reflect on how the Common Core worked (and didn't work in my classroom) and how to make next year even more successful by reading a great book with fellow educators. I actually purchased my copy from Barnes and Nobel because I received a LOT of B&N gift cards from my students this year :) Thanks, kiddos!

I haven't received my book yet (it's supposed to be here today), but Mr. Hughes has already began reading and has said wonderful things about it. As soon as it gets here today, I am jumping in feet first!

We would now like to extend the invitation to YOU all to join us! If you don't want to buy the book, but want to know what it's all about, no biggie! You can still follow our blog posts and participate in our discussions!

So here is how it's going to work. We hosts will be leading a discussion on a particular chapter on our own blog. Mr. Hughes will direct you to our blog each week (Monday will be the day!). On our own blogs you will read our thoughts and insights on that chapter and throw in your two cents, too! We want this to become a HUGE summer book club for the digital age :)

Here's the schedule, with next Monday being our kick-off!

And here are the links to each host's blog:

An Educator's Life
Chapter 1 Host

Teaching to Inspire in 5th
Chapter 2 Host

 Right Down the Middle” style=
Chapter 3 Host

Little Red Schoolhouse
Chapter 4 Host

Teaching to Inspire in 5th
Chapter 5 Host

An Educator's Life
Chapter 6 Host

Chapter 7 Host

Little Red Schoolhouse
Chapter 8 Host

Chapter 9 Host

Out of This World Literacy
Chapter 10 Host
So, I think that's it! We really hope you decide to join us, with or without the book, although WITH the book you will definitely get more out of our book club, but we would love to see you regardless! Be sure to leave a comment to let us know if you are penciling us in on your summer calendar!

Currently June

I was hoping I would have had another blog post done before my Currently June edition, but with a ruptured disc since April 10, I have not accomplished as much as I wanted. It's taking longer to heal than I had thought/hoped. Oh well! Surgery is scheduled for June 11, and I am SO ready to be back to normal!

Here is my Currently June edition! Want to join in on the fun? Leave a comment here, head over to the linky hosted by the ever fab Farley at Oh' Boy 4th Grade to grab the photo, then post on your blog. Easy smeasy!