Hello! My bloggie buddy Jenny from Art with Jenny K. is holding a fun little linky about our store logos. Now there is no particular story about the actual digital image. I had tried designing my own, but it just wasn't all that great. I finally decided to have a professional blog designed for me, and this was the blog button that the designer came up (which I love!). (If you are interested in having a blog designed, I highly recommend Kimberlee from Digital Doodle Designs...she was fast, easy to work with, and affordable.)
As for my name "Smarticle Particles"...well, I got that from my son. When he was in middle school, his favorite teacher was his social studies teacher. He told me that one day she told him that he was such a "smarticle particle". I thought that was pretty cute, especially since he was in middle school and was still happy with the fact that his teacher complimented him. So, when I revamped my store/blog I decided to go with that. Unfortunately "Smarticle Particles" was already taken on TpT, so I added "little" to it since I teach younger students.

Well.....that's the story!

Want to share your logo story? Just link up below!

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Happy Tuesday! I'm linking up with Jessica from Second Grade Nest to share my thoughts on what I would like to accomplish in 2015. I've never been a serious resolution person because I always worry that I would try to take on so much big change that I end up being unrealistic. I'm trying to keep it simple, so here goes:

You know, I love teaching. I don't want to leave teaching and I certainly am not cut out for administration, but I'm beginning to feel a bit discouraged with some of the changes that I'm seeing. I've really been frustrated with the whole high stakes testing atmosphere that is so prevalent. In my district we spent the the last week before Christmas break administering final exams....to 3rd, 4th, and 5th grades. It was horrible. I just realized that I didn't state a goal, I just know that professionally something has got to change.
Make my TpT store more profitable, which means I really need to commit more time to blogging and creating products.
Use any profits from previous goal to help pay off some debt. I have a daughter graduating from high school this year, and a son soon to follow. 
Well, there are a lot of places I'd like to visit. I've been to quite a few places, but not with my kids. I grew up in Germany, and I would really like to take my kids there. I'd also like to take them to New York and Washington DC. One place I really, really, really want to visit is Monticello. I am fascinated with Thomas Jefferson and am dying to see his home and gardens.

Anyway, that's about all I've got. Be sure to visit Jessica's blog to check out the 2015 resolutions of other bloggers & to link up your own blog!
I hope you all have a wonderful and merry Christmas!
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I am way late for the link-up for this, but it's still a great idea. I hope nobody minds me jumping in and participating. Erica from Nitty Gritty Science is hosting a wonderful link-up called "Giving Back". Today, a good number of TpT sellers will be giving a portion of their sales to a charitable organization of their choice. I'm planning to donate 50% of my earnings today to Donor's Choose. I would like to choose a project that is actually posted by a teacher in the school district in which I teach. I haven't narrowed down my choice yet, but there are 241 projects listed for my district alone! I believe I'll find one. :). If you are interested in checking out the other participating sellers, you can start at Erica's blog by clicking on the link above!

Y'all have a great week!

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Happy Saturday! I'm joining up with Michelle at Fabulous in First for a fun Christmas linky party. Here goes:
1. When do you decorate?
Okay, I have to admit I'm really horrible about decorating. Here's why. Everyone wants me to do the decorating and the un-decorating. One year I left the dang tree up all year, just to call these people's bluff. I lost. Another year, my kids agreed to put the ornaments on the tree if I would set it up and put the lights on. Needless to say, we had a beautifully lit tree that year with no ornaments. Last year I thought I would make it super easy. I went to Wal-Mart and bought an itty-bitty tree and some plastic ornaments. Just a little something to make it festive in the house. Here is what happened: 
This poor little tree is now in my classroom and the jury is still out as to whether or not I'm going to decorate at home.
2. Elf or no Elf?
No Elf. My kids (the ones I birthed) are too old, and would probably kidnap it and send me ransom notes. Or, that sweet kitten in the above picture would eat it.
3. Christmas cookies or no baking for you?
You are probably thinking that I'm a bah-humbug and that I don't do cookies. But...I do! I especially love the old-fashioned kind that you have to make with a cookie press. 
My mom's cookie press is the best. She bought it back in the 60's or 70's and it's still chugging along. I bought myself an inexpensive plastic Wilton one at Wal-Mart a few years back and it cracked before I even finished the first batch. Last summer, I went to visit my mom, walked to one of her kitchen cabinets, removed her cookie press, and said "I want this." Why not, she doesn't use it anymore. Here it is:

4. Favorite Holiday Tradition?
When I was a kid, my favorite tradition was that my parents always let me open one present on Christmas Eve. Now, it would have to be Christmas dinner. I let my kids choose what they want, and that's what we have. One year they wanted bacon cheeseburgers. We made the burgers along with potato salad, baked beans and dessert. Really it's about having a fun time with my husband and kids.
5. Favorite Christmas Movie?
6. Snow or No Snow?
Since I live in Texas, snow is not the norm, which is just fine with me. I grew up in Germany and loved it there, but when it snowed, it stayed on the ground forever. Yuck!
7. Favorite Christmas Song?
Hmmm... Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree by Brenda Lee 
Santa Claus is Coming to Town (Bruce Springsteen version)
8. Favorite Gifts to Give and Get?
You know, the older I get, the less I want. We tend to focus Christmas on our kids. If we do get anything for ourselves, my husband usually buys for himself, and then I spend the same amount on something I want. Like this:
I do like to make things for people like cookies & jams. My step-dad loves my homemade jalapeno jelly, so I'll be whipping up a batch of that kind of stuff soon. My favorite all-time gift was a few years back when my mom gave me a Kindle Fire. I love that thing!!

Y'all have a great week!

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Does anyone else feel their chest tighten and their stomach begin to turn at the mention of data? This week it really hit me. In my district, we are really hitting the kids hard with testing. Even kindergarteners.  My third graders will be taking five benchmark type tests starting next week. Can you believe that? We're taking tests to practice for practice tests to practice for the real test. It's CRAZY!

I know that data has its place, but this is too much. Just today, one of my colleagues told me that her daughter is beginning to feel testing anxiety. She's is in first grade. How sad is that? I realize that I am singing to the choir, but not only is this taking the joy out of teaching, but it has to be taking the joy out of learning. Are all school districts doing this, and to this extent?

I'd love to hear from other teachers on this subject. How do you deal with this? How do you turn this into something positive in your classrooms? How do you help your students deal with testing? How do you still get meaningful teaching & learning going on in your room?

Let's play school! I'll pretend to be a teacher analyzing disaggregated student data, and you can pretend to be a student taking a standardized test!
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