Thursday, May 26, 2016

New versus Update

I thought I wanted a new blog design to go with my new job. But as I started talking to my blog designer friend Barb (find her website HERE), I realized that I was not quite ready to let go of the old blog design. 

I love the colors, and the fonts. How in the world am I going to find something else that I love?

So, instead of working at trying to get an idea for a new blog design, and looking at pre-made designs, I was grateful when Barb said, "I can do that update." And she was soooo quick!

I love it!

Similar to the old, but ready for the new.

Need a blog design? I highly recommend Barb! Thanks Barb!!! You have made me very happy today. 

Grade Onederful Designs

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Thursday, May 19, 2016

My Big News

I'm moving schools and grades.

I couldn't be happier! Don't get me wrong...I love my old school. I grew up there. I had my undergrad teacher training there (I was there for 5 years). That school, the families, the teachers and staff, the community will always be my home.

Change is good. It challenges me. Change allows me to grow in ways that I didn't see coming. I'm looking forward to this change. 

Change is also scary. A new building, new families, new teachers and staff. Lots of new to learn.

Yesterday I visited my new room. A KINDERGARTEN classroom, in a school that is closer to my home. It is lovely! And HUGE. And the teacher is retiring, so she is basically leaving me everything. Including the mandated rocking chair. She is so sweet.

Today I finished packing my old room and moved most of it home or to my new room.

Then I went back to my old school. Looked through my closet one more time, grabbed my fish and plants, turned off the lights, locked the door, and left. 

Tomorrow I will turn in my key.

It will be a couple of months until I can get into my new space, so in the meantime, I have gathered some books and I'm ready to make some Kindergarten plans.

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Thursday, May 12, 2016

Summer Break, Phase One

I'm not on Summer Break. But Phase One is in full swing.

It is time for me to let go. But it is so hard.

These kids. My kids. We have learned together, laughed together, and cried together.

I look at each one and remember a time, a note, or a lesson. My eyes fill with tears. Soon these first graders will be second graders and have a different teacher. I will no longer be the one to accept their hugs and smiles.

I think about all the things I would want the next teacher to know: this one needs lots of hugs; this one is quiet, be patient and consistent, soon you will see her shine; this one does not want to try unless he knows he is correct, again, be patient, he will soon trust you to try, to make mistakes, to thrive; this one wants to know that you are close; this one is a true multi-tasker, watch and see; this one is insecure, water the seeds that were planted and watch out.

But I also know that next year is a new year and the next teacher will discover all this and more. 

So what is Phase One? It is me being really quiet. Soaking in every last bit of firstie goodness that I can. And trusting that everyone (the little ones and I) will be ok.

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Thursday, May 5, 2016

The Final CURRENTLY, May 2016

I know I'm late to this party. I've been late before. Nobody minds if you are late. They accept you as you are.

This linky party is a special one to me. It was one of the first I joined. I made so many friends here. They have taught me so much!!! That is why I am making sure to join. One. Last. Time.

Not much else to say. Thanks Farley for a great party to start all kinds of collaboration and professional growth!

Oh Boy It's Farley

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Thursday, April 28, 2016


As a student, teacher, or user of math a person can either love it or tolerate it.

I loved it when I was in school, because I was good at memorizing algorithms and spitting that back out on a test.

But then in college it got more real life and I had to solve problems and this thing called a Venn Diagram nearly gave me a panic attack. Thank goodness for a friend who taught me about those circles and what they meant, and how to figure interest (compounded, because that is apparently what interest can do).

As a teacher I tolerated math. Tried to figure out how to get kids to memorize those math facts and spit them out quickly again. Tried to teach how to solve kid sized problems (that might have seemed like interest to them). And tried. 

But it could be going better.

I've had the good fortune to attend some PD this year related to math.

Clearly I am part of a "shift" generation. We are teaching for understanding, not algorithms. But how? Why? With what?

It sort of seems that I need to go back. I need to understand how and why of the most basic concepts.

Today I sat in on four math PD sessions. The first two were all about number sense. Right up a primary teacher's alley.

My favorite quote of the day: "What teachers know impacts what they teach."

Here are a few more ideas that I want to remember from today:

1. 80% of math class is "getting to the answer." Even at first grade, I have to make this happen.

2. Ask how/why all the time. Get the kids used to defending their answer, so that they do not think the question means they are wrong.

3. A spiral curriculum means that it builds on what was previously taught. Not that the kids have another time to master. Must master first, then we will move deeper into the understanding.

4. As a homework or warm up activity, provide two problems. Have the kids work the first until I say move to the next. For each problem, solve in as many ways as possible. Probably after I have taught several. LOVE THIS SO MUCH and it will sooooooo work in first grade.

This year my good friend has taught me a phrase. She says it all the time, especially when I get down on myself for not doing something "right."

"When I knew better, I did better." (The credit for this saying is from a local administrator, next time I see her I will tell her thank you.)

So, for the last of this year I will do better and I am pumped to do better next year!

Coming up: more math PD tomorrow, and a good, long look at the 8 mathematical practices during the summer. 

Looks like I'm gonna need a new notebook.

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Wednesday, April 13, 2016


I've never doubted that consistency is important.

For me.

For my students.

Our class schedule hangs prominently on the wall. Updated daily and referred to frequently.

But today I was given a gentle reminder of how important consistency really is...

I, like many teachers do not like to be absent from school. Not just because of the sub planning and laying out of materials, but also--I LOVE my job and the students and want to be with them. Every day.

Sometimes meetings happen and I have to be gone. That was today. I needed to leave in the middle of the day. About 15 minutes before I left I started to prepare the children for this transition. (In my head not a big deal--the sub is a regular worker in our room, she knows them and they know her. And I know she will do great, the kids will do great.)

Pretty quick I had a friend standing next to me. For ten minutes he was holing onto my jacket, moving as I moved. Then he left. wrote something on a paper and brought it back to me.

It was a picture of him.

He really filled my bucket by letting me know that I am important to him.

I hope he also knows how important he is to me.

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Monday, March 28, 2016

The Things They Say

Not sure of the context, or what lead up to it. But it sure made me smile on a Monday morning.

Student to grown up who was working with the student: "Maybe next time you could go with me, if the Great Bartel approves."

So, even grown ups (me) will live into the words they hear.

Today I want to be Great for my students. 

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