9/28/14

Hometown Hidden Gems

About a month or so ago, my bloggy friend Melissa from A Teaspoon of Teaching referred me to Emma from Relay Rides to help campaign and write a post about my hometown hidden gems. I definitely did not want to pass up this opportunity to showcase and represent the city of Rancho Cucamonga, California. If you have never heard of Relay Rides before, it is a peer-to-peer car rental service throughout the country, which is perfect if you don't want to go the traditional car rental route while traveling. 




If you visit their Pinterest page, you can find different bloggers from the blogging community blog about their hometown hidden gems. And if you happen to travel or visit that place, you get another resource of places to go visit, eat, play, explore, etc... I think the part I like best is that it is all about discovering places or cities that people don't usually know much about....

... which is PERFECT because I wanted to introduce everyone to my hometown of Rancho Cucamonga. It is a suburban community in the Inland Empire. Though my family have lived here for the last 5 years, I just moved back to Rancho Cucamonga from the busy and hustling city of Los Angeles. Words cannot express how much calmer and more relaxed I feel living out of the city. Don't get me wrong, I love the city life, especially the mom and pop type stores and restaurants, but I do NOT miss one way streets, having to pay for parking everywhere I go, NOR the awful traffic!

Beautiful View


This is the street I drive down every morning on my way to work. During the summer and spring, I get to see beautiful trees full of green leaves along the San Gabriel Mountain background. In spring the trees actually have pink and white flowers which makes my morning drive so serene.


In the colder months, the mountain actually starts to get snow. I love seeing the mountains when it has snow. It tells me I am that much closer to my favorite holiday --- Christmas.

Secret Winery

I bet when you think of wine tasting that the last place you would visit is Rancho Cucamonga. BUT, if for some reason, your road trip brings you to Route 66 on Foothill Blvd., then it is worth stopping by Joseph Fillipi Winery. Not only do they have the typical wine tasting with charcuterie plates, but they also have a lunch and dinner menu. Or, if you are feeling extra fancy and special, they have special celebrations and desserts menu. Oh la la!


The sign you'll see when you drive on Baseline Rd. 


Where they actually grow their grapes.


More grapevines

Barbara's Victorian Teahouse & Boutique

NOW this one, is my absolute favorite spot. It is located by a residential area so it is THAT hidden that it is quite difficult to spot if you are just driving by. I love this place so much that I almost don't want to share it in fears that it'll be even more crowded than usual. The thing you have to know though, about Barbara's Victorian Teahouse & Boutique, is that you do have to make a reservation 24 hours in advance or they don't seat you. The boutique and shop is open throughout the week, but afternoon tea or special tea parties are by reservation only! So if you plan on coming by, make sure you call them in advance.


The barely there sign. If you drive on the opposite side of the road, you will totally miss it because you can only see the sign from one side. CRAZY!!!


What the teahouse looks like from the outside


Quiche Florentine...ummmm enough said!

(picture from Yelp)

Sandwich assortment and fruits covered in chocolate. Seriously...I am drooling!


The boutique sells everything from hats, scarves, tea pots, jewelries, and tea party clothes


One of the seating areas



The front porch towards the entrance to Barbara's Victorian Teahouse & Boutique


Close up view of the dining space

Biane Branch Public Library

Okay, so now you are probably wondering why a public library would be a hometown hidden gem. But, for those of you not familiar with this library, it is located in the ever popular Victoria Gardens outdoor mall. Most people come to the mall to shop, but I love coming to this library and checking out books and movies. Being a big book nerd myself, I will tell you that this library does a splendid job getting the newest books and keeping them in good shape too. If you ever move to Rancho Cucamonga, this is THE library for all your book checking. They even have a kid zone in a glass sound proof room so that it isn't disturbing anyone that wants to fall into a good book. I like coming here to check out picture books that I don't own to read to my class or use as a mentor text.


The oversized display of books by the side entrance of the library


The automatic check-in machine outside the library in case you come when the library is closed or if you aren't in the mood to deal with people that day


Entrance to the library


Beautiful display of kids artwork 

Victoria Gardens Cultural Center

Right next to my favorite library, is the Cultural Center. They have SO many events throughout the year. It is family friendly and entertaining for everyone! 



Front view of the entrance
Look! The Nutcraker is coming soon. Hooray!! The moving sign later shows The Three Little Pigs. I can't wait!


Side view of the entrance

(picture from Yelp because mine did not come out good)

Oh look, there's William Shakespeare holding a skull and some books. 

(picture from Yelp)

Here's a picture of the set of To Kill a Mockingbird

North Etiwanda Preserve

Just a mile from my house, is the North Etiwanda Preserve. So if you are feeling outdoorsy and need to get away from your car or your couped up hotel, this is a place worth hiking and exploring nature.



Pond after hiking up the trail


Excuse my grumpy self, but I woke up extremely early for this hike! 


Tiny pool area


Small waterfall

 I hope everyone enjoyed learning and reading about my hometown of Rancho Cucamonga! It is a beautiful and safe place with an outstanding school district. I would definitely want to have my future kids grow up here and be a part of this community. It's not the crazy & fun city life, but it has a lot of history and hidden gems!

9/26/14

Five For Friday: Number Bonds & Bar Models

Hooray! Fall is here ... the leaves are falling, pumpkin lattes are plenty, and soon I can stuff my face with some cornbread stuffing (such a good comfort food that is way MORE than just a side dish). Oh, and let us not forget that it is F-R-I-D-A-Y (happy dance time)!!!

I am linking up with Kacey from Doodle Bugs Teaching for some Five for Friday Fun!



Today, my entire district had Pupil Free Day for our new Math curriculum: Math in Focus by Singapore Math. Talk about some rigorous Math right here! Everything Singapore Math has you do is always thinking outside of the box. It makes you step out of your comfort zone and seriously put your brain into overdrive. 

There are 4 non-negotiables in Math in Focus. Today we focused on non-negotiable #2: Visualization. Singapore Math starts students with something concrete, like a manipulative to allow students to grasp the concept of the standard and skill you are teaching. Then, they make you visualize the math in your head and sketch out your visualization so that you are able to explain your thinking and process. (Again, there is no right or wrong way in Math of "getting the answer" as we all think differently.)


 BUT ... Singapore Math does introduce some aids to help us better organize and understand a concept. Today, we revisited number bonds (which originally we all thought was torture but now that our kids have learned and mastered these babies, we all love it!) & bar models. My notes look messy, but there is some good stuff behind this crazy madness! You are constantly applying learned skill and adding to it on the following lessons. 

Bar Models for multiple step problems

Visualization 1: Rounding Roller Coaster by my awesome grade level leader. 
You make a visualization for students to think of rounding like a roller coaster. Digits with 1-4 "roll back down" to its original number because it can't propel forward. Digits 5-9 "roll forward" to the following number. I then shared my "Rounding Rap" from Project GLAD with my team to reinforce the rounding rules.

Visualization 2: Modified Circle Map for a Word Problem.
Another great idea by another one of my teammates! My table totally rocked at today's training... just sayin'! Students will be asked to "chunk" the word problem like we do when we learn to read new words, but they will use bar models for visualizing what they are being asked to do.

Visualization 3: Number bonds to find the missing digits. I should've color coded this so it was easier to see what I did. Oops!

Visualization 4: using a piece of string or ribbon for number lines. 
You hang a piece of ribbon on the whiteboard or wall space. Then you give students different post-its by starting with a midpoint, starting point, and end point. Then you hand students different numbers on a post-it so they can visually see where each number would go on the number line and if it's closer to the starting point or end point.


(Found this on Pinterest ... I am sorry I can't find the source to give credit to!)

Mental Math by decomposing numbers in number bonds. Chapter 2 (8 lessons total) in Math in Focus is all about mental math. Students are decomposing numbers with number bonds left and right to get their answers. The traditional way of computing numbers and solving them isn't even introduced until Chapter 3 (adding multiple digits with regrouping) and Chapter 4 (subtracting multiple digits with regrouping).

I'm not gonna lie, I didn't understand the point behind this mental math chapter or why it was SO long. But after today's training, I see how much time the students will save in Chapters 3 and 4 being able to conceptualize and mentally add without using their fingers ALL the time. Again, there is a method to this crazy madness I tell ya!!!


I finally got my business cards! Aren't they "LoveLi"? I asked my super awesome blog designer, Becca from Jumping Jax Designs to make me some business cards with my classroom website, school e-mail, and Remind 101 # for parents to have handy. I included a magnetic clothespin (washi taped in blue and white stripes, of course) for parents to hang on their refrigerator so they had the information when they need it.



Originally, I wanted to hand these out at Back to School night. BUT, because we don't live in a perfect world, I was not able to do that. I wanted to wait to see if I would remain a 2/3 Combo teacher or become a regular 3rd grade teacher before I put some information on the card and handed them out to parents that later I would no longer see. 


I have been SUPER sick lately from my kiddos coming to school with their colds. I even lost my voice and sounded like I chain smoke all day on Wednesday. So, what do I find Thursday in my teacher mailbox? A handmade card from ALL of my students! They got together during recess and instead of playing, they sat under our school's tree and made me cards. I am SO touched by their gentle souls!!!


Here are 2 that made me laugh out loud because it was SO cute! 

Card #1: " I am the BEAST tehar in the wrod" + a Hello Kitty. My heart melted! I gotta make sure this sweet boy learns his sight words before he leaves my class. LOL!

Card # 2: "Ms. Li, the best teacher in the wrold"
This one made me laugh because this boy writes how he's lucky to have me as his teacher, "even though I am a Giants fan".  Double LOL! We can't be perfect, right?!?


HP Envy 4500. 

Being a BIG tech geek myself, I have read on other fellow teachers' blogs about the HP Envy 4500 printer. I have been wanting it for a while, but I seriously just bought a printer in June. It was also an HP printer, but it WASN'T wireless & it DIDN'T have insta-ink.


Then ... (harps playing) thanks to my awesome Target Cartwheel app, I saw it on discount for half the price. I think I got it for $49.99 + 5% off with Target card. Seriously? It is amazing!

It not only is sleek in size and design, but it is quietER (not quiet, quietER) than most printers. I think my favorite part however, is that it is wireless. I can print from my upstairs living room, my own room, the kitchen, or even from my phone as long as it is connected to my wireless network. It is seriously so convenient! To make things better, it even "senses" when you are running out of ink and allows you to sign up for insta-ink. It is NOT based on the amount of ink you use, but rather the number of pages you print. I enrolled in the 300 pages service for $9.99 per month. They don't charge you for your first pack until you install it. Any unused pages, roll over to the following month. It's pretty nifty! The amount of ink you get, depends on the service (number of paper pages) you select. No more running to Office Depot or CVS for late night last minute ink shopping. 


Leyla headphones: Bauble Bar edition by Frends

I went to Seattle with my mother this past weekend and decided to splurge on some headphones to watch movies and listen music to. I was tired of the ones that come with my iPhone where you stick it in your ear. It was always way too big and bulky and it never fit my ear. 

I was going to get the Beats by Dre until I did some research and found the Frends headphone. I didn't want anything bulky, so I got the smaller Leyla one.


Nordstrom is where I purchased mine. They are the Bauble Bar edition. For those of you not familiar with Bauble Bar, they make some great jewelry and this limited edition version came with a pair of earrings by Bauble Bar. I am SO in love with the white with the rose gold. It matches my iPhone perfectly! 




The best part about these headphones? The earbuds portion are interchangeable. No more sticking to one design or pattern. In fact, on their website, they claim that they want you to think of their headphones as another accessory; thus allowing you to coordinate it with your outfit and mood. 


For an indecisive person like myself, this is the solution to my problem! Aren't the rose gold/mother of pearl finish so beautiful? I got so many compliments in the airplane and airport about my headphones. 

Oh, did I mention that they also have noise reduction where when you listen to music or play a movie it eliminates outside noise? (My momma did not like that, as she wanted me to have conversations with her during our 2 hours plane ride).


Wow ... what a long Five for Friday! Can you believe that it is only 3 months until Christmas and even less for Winter Break? I get 3 weeks this year. My countdown is on! Happy weekend ya'll!


9/17/14

A Bad Case of Stripes

Anyone that knows my teacher self, knows that I absolutely LOVE using picture books as anchor texts for lessons in EVERY content area I teach. Well, one of my absolute favorite books is A Bad Case of Stripes by David Shannon.


The boys in my class were so excited to read another David Shannon book.

Oh lookie here, I even dressed up as Camilla Cream for my school's Book Character Parade (totally won some brownie points with my kiddos...hahaha):
Well, an absolutely amazing thing happened yesterday while I was browsing Instagram. I think fate allowed me to stumble upon The Third And Goal's freebie on Cause and Effect using A Bad Case of Stripes. I kid you not, cause and effect is the exact comprehension skill that I was supposed to teach with my curriculum's selection story for this week. Using my favorite picture book to help teach and reinforce this skill was not only fun for me, but I'd like to say my students had fun too; especially because I was able to find an old Scholastic read aloud video read by none other than Sean Astin who played Sam, Frodo's loyal friend, from Lord of the Rings.




End result...a super fun cause and effect page in my student's ELA Interactive Notebook:

The left page was colored by a male student and the right page by a female student. They both did such an awesome job representing Camilla's different stages in the story. I LOVE it!!!

9/16/14

Tried it Tuesday: Vocabulary "Headbandz"

Hola on this scorching So. Cal evening to all of you out there! Originally, I was just going to put a post up on my vocabulary game I did with my class. But..I saw a linky party for Tuesday and I think linky parties are SO fun! So I am linking up with Fourth Grade Flipper for her Tried it Tuesday!



Has anyone out there ever heard of a super fun and entertaining family game called "Headbandz" by Hasbro? I was introduced to this fun game by my good friend, Megan, a while back. She told me this was by far the best thing for rainy days/indoor recess times. I decided to give it a try a couple of years ago and every now and then I even find myself playing with my students during those indoor recess days (especially now because they have a Disney extravaganza edition)!

Then, about 2 weeks ago, I saw my kids playing it on a Friday and thought to myself, "Hmm...wouldn't this be a fun game to incorporate during instruction too?" I came home, took sentence strips and wrote that week's vocabulary words on it...nothing fancy. I struggled to think of how kids would walk around to guess their own word. And then, this baby happened (apologize for the banner not showing up, I am still struggling on minimizing my images and having it shown up correctly):

I have my timer and gong ready. I have kids walk around the room so they aren't constantly leaning to work with their BFFs. Once I hit my gong, students freeze and partner up with the closest person to them. They get 2 minutes to exchange one of the elements on their worksheet in hopes for good and useful clues. Once my gong hits, they walk around again until they hear another gong to look for a new partner. And, repeat the process until it's over. NOW...the tricky part I had to teach my students: Even if the person guesses their words correctly, they are NOT to let that person know because they will take off their headbands at the end of the game and check for themselves, then fill out a reflection on it.

Here's a snapshot of my end result during the game:


Overall, my students loved the game! They definitely liked it way more than Vocabulary Pictionary day. My heart melted when my students asked me if they could keep their sentence strips! One wore it the whole day, which I kind of had to convince her not when she was outdoors because her vocabulary word was "guilty" (Our story for the week was "The Trial of Cardigan Jones). I didn't want other adults and staff members thinking I am giving her the Scarlett letter. YIKES...that would've been bad!




9/11/14

Positive Thinking Thursday: Perseverance

Today, not only did my students learn about the significance of 9/11 and how we unite together on this day as a country to remember the innocent lives of heroes and civilians we have lost, but we learned about the word PERSEVERANCE.

Perseverance is not only applicable to individuals when they are facing difficulties, but it is shown as a nation when we unite together as one to OVERCOME obstacles that life brings.

I asked students to create a K-W-L chart on 9/11. Then, we drew a line underneath our K-W-L charts because I wanted students to see what they knew and wanted to know about the word "perseverance" and how they thought this would relate to 9/11.

It is teachable moments like today that brings chills to every being in my body because I see my students make text-to-self and text-to-world connections on a lesson that is not part of our content standards nor part of our curriculum: being human, having compassion, being empathetic to people's differences, being kind to one another, and treating people with respect. I'm not here to preach...I PROMISE! I just happened to see Mrs. Laffin's Laughings link party on positive thinking Thursday and thought how appropriate this was today was for me and my students.  Today, my students were able to see a bigger picture and apply not only what it means to NOT give up in the classroom when lessons and concepts become difficult, but they were able to understand HOW a country rebuilds itself and how our presidents NEVER gave up their search for the terrorist group that did this to our country. They understood the sacrifice our soldiers, nurses, policemen, mothers, fathers, daughters, sons made to bring justice and peace to our country.

At the end of my mini Project GLAD unit on 9/11 and the word perseverance, I left students with the following quote that I made from my Rhonda app on my iPhone:


And so I leave you with the same quote and thought. Sometimes that arrow pulling us back is someone else, or an obstacle, but sometimes our biggest enemy is ourselves. I asked my students to imagine if our President and soldiers gave up their search for Al Qaeda and Bin Laden and to predict what they thought would happen if as a nation we just did nothing. "You don't defeat your enemies" or "You don't move forward" were some of their responses. 

These were all coming from my little 8 year olds. Sometimes, I think I'm a teacher so that I, TOO, am still learning from my little kiddos with BIG hearts and souls what it's like to be HUMAN. 


9/7/14

Sunday Scoop

Good (very late) Evening, there! Why am I blogging so late at night you might ask? Easy peasy like mac n' cheesy I say! I'm here to bring you my Sunday Scoop! I am linking up with the Teaching Trio to bring you my 3 Hopes, 2 Haves, and 1 Happy:



And there you have it...my Sunday Scoop! It's pretty self-explanatory so don't forget to link up with the Teaching Trio for your Sunday Scoop too!