Time for a Hike and a Giveaway!!

Get your hiking shoes out of the closet and canteens from your garage...we're going on an AdVeNturE!  Okay, leave your shoes in the closet but you may want to find a pair of slippers and a cup of tea...we ARE going on an adventure, but not one that will require much effort on your part.  Good news, right?  As teachers, we're busy enough...time to relax and get inspired!

So here's the deal,  a number of fellow intermediate teacher-bloggers have joined to provide you with blog-hopping fun this last week of January.  Perhaps snow covers the ground outside where you are reading this from (it certainly is in PA), making a real outdoor hike out of the question...so we thought we would offer you a trail to "hike along" from the comfort of your couch!  Join me as I introduce you to my friend Jennifer Runde and a little something that she has to offer for each of us!

This has truly been a year of "interaction" within our classrooms!  There are SO many great interactive notebooks for our students that at times it's a bit overwhelming.  Don't quote me on this, but I'm pretty sure that Runde's Room offered one of the first interactive math resources that TpT has to offer.  I'm sure that if you've visited TpT, you've seen this beautiful cover page!

Let me begin by saying that if you are teaching it in Math, you will find it in here!  This resource is 165 pages that cover a VAST amount of our math curriculum.  Jen provides a table of contents for easy finding, which I really appreciated.  It is extremely well-organized and she even provides detailed pictures, instructions, and examples for each lesson!  Wow!!  Be sure to read my post first and see all of the great pictures, but afterward, simply click on the picture above to get a better look at this fantastic product in her TpT store! 

Let's step into my classroom, shall we??
The pictures that you are about to see are from a lesson that concentrated on factors, multiples, composite, and prime numbers.  My students and I covered this material in class, so this was simply something that reinforced those skills.  (There is a lot of reinforcement these days with our PSSA exams approaching!)

Here's the cover of my journal.  The journal itself was SUPER cheap.  I believe that I purchased it for 50 cents at the start of the school year! 

I complete the journal page right along with my students so that they can stop and discuss the topic, as well as get step-by-step directions.  It works out much better this way in my classroom. :)

Here is what my table of contents looks like.  Simple and effective!

These are a few sample pages from my journal that my students and I have completed.

Here is what we were working on this week!

Print, cut, fold, glue...done!

Here are a few pictures of my kiddos working on this page. :)

I have a confession to make.  I'm IN LOVE with my Smart Board and my Hovercam!!!  Together, they make the perfect combination, allowing my students to see even the smallest things up close!

Here's a picture of my adorable students putting their journals back after an hour and a half of hard work!

So, what are the benefits of an interactive math journal? 
 Well, let's ask some of my students...

Me: "Class, I'm going to be writing about this math journal on my blog, so I'm curious what you like about it.  "

Student #1: "Mrs. Udovich, I like it because we don't have to stare at a book during Math class."

Student #2: "I like it because it helps me remember!"

Me: "Why do you think it helps you remember better than simply reading it and doing board work?"

Student #2: "Because we talk about it, practice it, and I think something happens when I think about it and write it down in my book.  It's like I'm making something with my hands, which helps me remember what it looks like."

Me: "You're right!  I have found that when I make something visual that it's much easier to remember in the future.  Do you think this should be something we should continue throughout the school year?"

Class: "YES!"

Thumbs up for our Interactive Math Journals!

Now, to help with your exercise for the day, here's what you need to know about our hike and giveaway!
Hiking Tips 
-Start anywhere along the trail!

-Along the way, stop by each blog and read about the resources swapped between bloggers.

-Enter to win the resource that is featured at each blog in the raffle below (the same raffle is at each blog, so you can just add to your entries as you go!). While you are at each blog, if you’re not a blog follower already, sign on to follow! (You can earn bonus entries for following all blogs once you unlock the additional entries.)

-The raffle is open until midnight on January 31, so feel free to take a break from your hike, rest up, and finish it later! 

One winner will receive the entire set of resources being featured by all 14 collaborating bloggers AND a $25 TpT gift certificate! 

Here’s the list of blogs to "hike" to: 
Swap Stop A

Swap Stop B 

Swap Stop C 

Swap Stop D 

Swap Stop E 

Swap Stop F 

Swap Stop G 
 Well, friends, settle in on your couch and grab the granola. It's time to get your hike on! :)

A look at our year...

I really can't believe that 2013 has come and gone!  I have been sitting at my computer for about an hour just looking through pictures and it was amazing to see just how much happened this year.  I wanted to share some of that with all of you and figured that the best way to do that was with a few pictures.

First of all, one of the biggest things to happen to me this year was opening my own store on Teachers pay Teachers.  I NEVER could have imagined just how much this would have changed my life.  I'll never forget the hours upon hours and late night after late night of working on products.  I was filled with hope and anticipation (well that really hasn't changed much...he he!)  with each new product that was posted.

My first paid product was my "Superhero Literacy Pack."  

I have learned SOOO much since making my first product.  Note to new sellers...do NOT create your products in Word!  I create absolutely everything in PowerPoint now and would never create anything in Word again!  Just like anything else, you live and learn.  

It wasn't until the summer that I found great success on TpT.  I had always wanted a binder that held all of my important information in one place and decided to create something that would help me do just that.  I came up with several designs with that particular concept and after a short time...I realized that this was something that a LOT of teachers really needed!  I am posting this on my "timeline" of big events, because this product changed my life.  It's my series of "Ultimate Teaching Binders."  These made my summer something more than I could have ever imagined for my first year on TpT...so grateful.

Here are some highlights from my life with my family...

We found out that my girl has Celiac just like her momma. (Boo.)  However, having a gluten allergy myself, we make it work with a little bit of "know how" and persistence.  She's been such a trooper, but is a very picky eater...no amount of creativity will make her eat food off of her 5 food menu.  I keep trying, though. :)

This little one also started Kindergarten this year!  I can't believe it!  She's doing so well and is a phenomenal reader.  I get to take her to work with me every day, which is the best part.  Well, I take that back...the best part is watching her walk down the hallway to me at the end of some very long days. :)  My students love her and she loves them...it's been wonderful!

For any parent who has had a child addicted to that horrible "B" word, getting rid of it IS monumental!  Now that it's gone...she doesn't stop talking!  She is the complete opposite of her sister in many ways.  She is into everything, very active, and keeps us on our toes!  She does, however, make us laugh with every single step she takes.  What an absolute joy she is...  She'll be riding dirt bikes with my husband sooner than later, I'm sure!  Dear goodness...pray for us all!

In the spring, my husband had back surgery.  While healing, his K-9 Iccar was kept at the state kennels for liability reasons while my husband healed.  A few days before he went to get him, we got a horrible phone call that Iccar was found unresponsive in his kennel.  That was a Saturday morning.  Our hearts were absolutely broken.  He became a part of our family and a loyal partner to my husband.  I cried for days.

The week that followed was just as hard.  We had a VERY touching funeral for my husband's partner where K-9 handlers and their dogs came from across the state...one even from New Jersey.  I learned that day that these canines are much more than dogs...they are our family, our companions, and our friends.  We lost a very special part of our family that day and we will never forget him.

This is a picture of him nestled on my bed.  He would hug me for hours with his giant paws.  He couldn't get close enough...how I miss him.

With Iccar's passing, we were able to welcome our newest edition to our family. :)  He's as sweet as a button, but he's not the kind of dog to lie in bed with me, lol.  With a little work, he's become a great partner for my husband, which is the most important thing.  Welcome, Dio!

After his back surgery, my husband started racing his dirt bike...so we spent some time watching him!  He did SO well and I believe, brought home a plaque in all but one race!  He just got a brand new bike two days ago and can't wait to start racing again in February.

This is Kinley while we were out shopping for Daddy's dirt bike...yep, that suits her personality to a T!!

Here's a picture of Adison on the day she learned how to ride a bike without training wheels.  I am not lying when I say that she was riding on her own withing 5 minutes and has never had any major accidents!! It was so cool to watch her take off on her own for the first time!  It was the day BEFORE school started, so this was a big time in her life.  No training wheels AND starting Kindergarten!

I couldn't write this post without mentioning my sister.  For those of you who have been talking to me for the past year, you know that I tried helping my sister in the biggest way possible.  Things didn't work out for reasons unknown to me...but I pray for her daily, love her more than words can describe, and hope that God has an amazing plan that he will unfold for her in 2014.  She is the bravest woman that I have ever met and I admire her so much.  What I did for her was out of pure love...and I know that something miraculous is right around the corner.  I love you.

Going back to school in the fall is always a little scary.  You never know what type of kiddos will be walking into your room and you simply go in with great intentions and hope for the best.  Well, I hit the jackpot with this group!  I have had such a wonderful year so far with my students. I can't help but think that God helped me out after the summer that I had...what a great group of kids.

As you can see, 2013 was full of ups and downs...but it was a chapter in our lives that we will never forget.  There were times where we never thought how we would make it through, or that the pain would never end...but brighter days came and good times happened.  This year in pictures has shown me that there are times to laugh, there are times to cry, there are times to celebrate, there are times to press on, and there are times to be happier than you could have ever imagined.  We are so blessed and I am so grateful for every second of 2013.  I go into 2014 with great anticipation for good things to come.  

Here are my 2014 resolutions:
*To be healthier and more in shape than I have ever been in my life.
*Fight my back pain.
*Be the greatest teacher that I can be.
*Hit another milestone on TpT.
*To be a better blogger.
*Be the GREATEST mommy and wife that I can be.
*Be thankful for everything in my life...even on the days that I'm down.
*Never lose sight of what's most important.
*Get closer to God with each passing day.

I wish each of you a wonderful 2014...thank you for stopping by and be sure to come back!