Monday, August 3, 2015

Books, Books, I Love Books!

Am I a life-long reader? Are you?

Today is the day that Lit Loving Gals is starting the book study on the cool book I have (The Reading Strategies Book), but I just can't start that one until I finish another...

I've had The Book Whisperer on my table, in my bag, in my hands since June 1 and still have a chapter to go. Each time I read some of it I get ALL FIRED UP AGAIN.

Today I feel confused. I want life-long readers to leave my class, but I have to create them, they are not born. I have to create the environment and space for the reading, get rid of the stuff that inhibits the love of reading, and still do all that is expected of me, as a teacher.

Life-long readers do not take an assessment at the end of each chapter or book. They do not read for minuscule details that will be on the test. They read for fun. They recommend books to their friends. If they miss a detail, they can read the book again, or not, it's their choice. 

But how will I know they are reading and comprehending if I do not give a test?

1. Talk with them about the books they read. And keep notes.
2. Give time to read DAILY in class.
3. Make reading an expectation.
4. Teach how to read, build stamina, share books, read aloud, talk about books they will love, be infectious.

So as I begin this last week of summer vacation I have but one wish for the school year. Please, oh please, let reading be reading, and do not ever let "school" get in the way of becoming a life-long reader. 

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Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Why Summer is Great

Sure, summer is great for all the "usual" reasons.

But this summer is also great because...

I've had so MANY opportunities to visit with other great teachers. Tonight was absolutely perfect (minus a few teachers that could not make it). We gathered at a house. Shared ideas, journeys, caught up, and uplifted each other in a way that only caring and thoughtful teachers can do for one another. 

We get it. Times are hard, but each teacher in that room is committed to "doing right" by every student. Money is tight, but each teacher is excited to start another year and rock what we know to do. Expectations are high, and each teacher is ready to support one another so that those expectations can be met.

What an amazing group of teachers.

I hope every teacher, every where can find a group of teachers who will lift them up, encourage them and be the friend they need.

If you are a teacher and need a friend, please reach out. I am only an email away.

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Saturday, July 25, 2015

My Mind is Full

Ever have so much on your mind you just need to make a list?

Here's my list:

1. How will I create a classroom environment that is engaging? 

2. Do I need more planners (like a desk sized one for school) or more pen (for the students, of course) or more books?

3. How will I finish reading The Book Whisperer if I leave it on the shelf and forget to open it?

4. The world is getting smaller. Now I can see and hear my favorite teacher people on Periscope. Time to buy a composition notebook for all the notes I take with the Scopers give out their information. 

5. How will I teach mindfulness if I don't practice? I'll do better.

The list could go on, but I'm off to a wedding.

What's on your mind this weekend?

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Sunday, July 19, 2015

My Friends of Vacation

Vacations are a little different for our family now.

Now that I have a blog and blog friends...

As we were planning our vacation, and I realized where my sister now lives (after a cross-country move), I was super excited to think I may have a chance to meet some of my bloggy besties.

We are back now. And Michelle @ Big Time Literacy and the the challenge is to write a review. Perfect, I will review my time with my 3 bloggy buddies.

1. Patty. She is nice. Creative. Funny. And we love to eat hot pretzels and chat. We have been friends for many years (is 3 many?). We talked about our year, children and grandchildren (hers, not mine), and then we started talking about technology. My time with her encouraged me to step up what I do, so I have contacted someone she knows to help me out. I will keep you posted about what I learn...

Go visit Patty @ 2nd in Line and tell her I sent you.

2. Julie. She is the bomb dot com. Again with the creative, and funny. We talked (well, actually she talked and I listened) about her time in Vegas at the I Teach 1st conference. Don't get me wrong. She is not a conversation hog. She talked, I listened and asked questions and it was fantastic! She also introduced me to Matt Gomez. She went to his session about inquiry based learning in Vegas and got us both excited. I will be creating a terrarium and getting it ready for school (see his post about terrariums). I'm also going to get a fish tank up and running for another living station in my room. PLUS, I am super excited to incorporate Imagination Tubs into our day. 

See what I mean? I was with her for about 1.5 hours (I think) and I got all that. Plus we caught up on our lives a bit. My sister was with us and she also thinks that Julie is amazing.

Go visit Julie @ First Grade Critter Cafe and tell her I sent you. 

3. Em. It's a trifecta! Em is creative, sweet, caring and thoughtful. She met me (and my family) for lunch. We caught up, talked shop (school) and shared about our lives. Now that I'm home, I cannot wait to check out some bloggers that she told me about.

Go visit Em @ Curious Firsties and tell her I sent you.

There are several more Bloggy Friends that I hope to visit on future family vacation. And my teacher friends that live near me--they strive to be better, share what they have learned and celebrate successes. These teachers, far and near, are My Teaching Tribe. I am a fortunate teacher.

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Wednesday, July 15, 2015

MIndfulness, A Journey

Old Mindfulness.

My mind is so full. I focus on everything, give it equal weight, pass judgements and feel stressed out.

New Mindfulness.

I can learn to observe my experience and not be consumed by it. I can learn to choose what I focus on and how to receive it and not react to it.

This is by no means a "How to be mindful." Please seek a professional (or a book). It is, however, the aha I have had in the last 24 hours that excites me and creates in me an eagerness to try mindfulness out and see where it may lead me and my students.

This is the book that stumbled into my arms at the end of May. I began it yesterday and was immediately SOLD!

I am a passionate person. Celebrating is glorious. But I also feel deeply sad when I feel judged (by me or others, real or not). This has created a pit in my stomach that gets bigger with every passing year I spend in education.

Yes, this is me. It is my experience. It is how I perceive it. 

My new journey begins today. With daily practice in focused attention. (I was surprised how quickly 5 minutes passed. Tomorrow may be 6 minutes.) With a loving heart that forgives ME when I mess up. (I can recognize when I mess up, and then I'm embarrassed, and have a very hard time forgiving me.) With patience and grace to be non-judgemental. 

I wonder what the next 24 hours will bring...
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Saturday, July 11, 2015

Summer PD Plans

Aren't you tired of hearing about my summer PD?

It's all I write about...


1. In June I attended a 2-day PBL training with Aaron from BIE (Buck Institute of Education). It was good, but I may need a refresher before school starts--that was a LONG time ago.

2. All the first grade teachers from my district (11 of us, maybe?) gathered and planned, mapped out and did some stuff with math for a day. (Also a long time ago.)

3. A college course to get credits for relicensure. I took a course called "The Dehumanization of Students in Education" from a somewhat local university. I enjoyed the class, and I am glad to report that my teaching buddies and school do not have a problem with this.

4. Book studies. I started with none, and ending up with 3. # One is finished (Teaching with Intention). I was following with Mr. Greg, but I just couldn't stop reading. # Two starts in August -- Reading Strategies, it looked great all over Instagram. And then this morning I opened it for the first time and I'm a little nervous! 300 strategies, oh my. Hopefully Literacy Loving Gals can help me with this. # Three is "The Book Whisperer." I started it, then put it down to concentrate on Teaching with Intention. I'll get back to it in a week or so.

4. Bloggy Buddies/Teaching Fanatics Meet ups. There have been several, and several more are scheduled. The meetings, whether small or big, really fill up my heart with ideas, encouragement and love. All of which are important for me for a great beginning (and the whole) school year. 

What do you do to recharge your teaching juices? Share them if you can, because I'm always looking for more ideas! :)

Wonder what Michelle and our buddies have cooking this summer...

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Friday, July 10, 2015


Love a week with so much family time.

Let me recap with 5 happenings and link with Doodle Bugs Teaching and Big Time Literacy.

1. My family hiked for 2ish hours. Some was difficult and I wheezed (because I am an out-of-shape old lady), but the view was AMAZING!!!

2. We also toured a band instrument factory. Yes, we saw artisans creating clarinets from blocks of wood, and trumpets from a sheet of brass. Now I will never complain about the price of a trumpet or trombone, it takes many steps and people to make an instrument. I can't find the exact link to an online tour, but this is close. We read ahead that cameras were forbidden on the tour, so I left mine in the van. But, lo and behold, we get started and the tour guide says, "take lots of pictures!" Wish I had my camera. It was very cool.

3. Good food and drinks.

4. Bowling.

5. A chocolate factory tour...

And a bonus photo... I'm not in Las Vegas learning from SDE about being a better teacher. But I did have a great time with Patty. She is just the sweetest and such an encouragement to me (both online and in person). 

Now, be sure to check out more Five for Fridays (at Doodle Bugs Teaching) and some favorite lessons ( at Big Time Literacy).

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