Friday, June 29, 2012

Guided Math, Chapter 5

I've talked about Guided Math--the framework, Creating a Classroom Environment of Numeracy, Using Math Warm-ups, and Whole Class Instruction. Today I move on to Small Groups.

Small groups totally makes sense to me. We use guided reading in my district, so using guided math would follow along as well. And I love the Daily 5. Children learn to read by reading, and become mathematicians by doing math.

One item on my summer bucket list was to learn about differentiated math. Well, I think I've found a fabulous resource. Differentiated can be many things. I could adjust the content. Or the product. Or the process. Or the pace. My choice, depending on what the small group needs are. The groups can change as the content changes or the students change. Just keep track of it all in some way (not my strongest quality as a teacher, definitely something to work on).

I will be tabbing the pages about forming small groups, planning for small groups, and teaching a small group lesson.

As a math student, I loved following procedures. I could usually understand the concept, but I loved a formula. I could do that. Follow the steps. For those reasons, my teachers (and parents) thought I was a good math student. But as soon as I was done with high school math credits, I was done. No more. Then on to college. I needed a math credit. Great. So I signed up for the class recommended for El. Ed. majors, Intro to Math. (I can do that, right, it's an into class?) Wow, it was much more difficult than I anticipated, but lucky for me, there were still some formulas to save me.

Why the tangent? It helps me to accept this. Math is "not just about finding answers, but is really more about growing ideas" (page 170). I have to be able to reach the students and get them to a deep understanding of the ideas of math. Not just know that 1 + 1 = 2, but what does that represent? And one way to get there is to use small groups. 

Next task: what are the deep, conceptual ideas of first grade math? Will I find that in my math manual or the Common Core Standards?

Hop on over to Toad-ally Exceptional Learners and Pitner's Potpourri to see what others have to say about chapter 5!


Thanks to our wonderful hosts for hosting this book study:
Chapter 1: Primary Inspired

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Thursday, June 28, 2012


Sometimes I get wrapped up in my own drama and forget to see what's going on around me. This easily happens in the summer when I am reading 4 books, working on crafts and thinking about making healthy lifestyle changes (exercising). It also happens during the school year when I am working away from the home and trying to run the home at the same time. I guess it is a continuous struggle for me.

Reading almost anything from Becky Bailey helps me to reground myself into the here, the now, the important.

Last week younger son was off at camp. This week the older son is off at camp. A battle happens in my head. I can really make headway on all the "things" I want to get done this summer or I can make meaningful connections with each son separately. Everyday I have these choices to make.

A couple of weeks ago my younger son and I were having a "moment" and not a good one. He looked at me, very calmly, and stated "Aren't you supposed to see the best in me? You are the mom. Aren't you supposed to see the best in others?" {Has he actually been listening to me when I talk to my husband about my thoughts after reading Becky Bailey?}

I said, "Yes, I try to see the best in you and others."

He said, "Ok, what is it? What do you see in me?"

Me, "I'm thinking about it. I will have to get back to you."

Thirty minutes later (I was completely on to something else), he said, "Have you thought about it yet?"

Me, "What?"

Him, "The best in me."

Me, "Yes." But I did not tell him what it was. He went back to his book and hasn't brought it up again.


With this (and other conversations) in mind I decided to be "with" him yesterday. All by ourselves. Originally we were going to go see a baseball game, but with 106 degrees I talked him into waiting until later in the summer. We did get a bottle of water and headed out to the big city with Goodwills and Targets. Our two favorite store respectively.

He came with me while I shopped at Goodwill, Old Navy, Eddie Bauer and I went with him to Target. We both had opportunities to practice patience. He actually had money to spend, since he had a mini garage sale and did some cat sitting this summer. He hung out in the Lego aisle. I tried to be patient. My goal was to give him all the time he needed to choose something. When the 30 minute mark came and went I was getting restless. I gave myself a pep talk and waited some more.

Then he looked for laptops. And DVDs. And back to the Legos. Once I suggested putting the item he was considering into the cart and walking around a bit to think about it. "No, I'm already thinking about it."

Finally he said, I think I will save my money. And we walked away. We grabbed the few things on the rest of the list and checked out. As we headed for the Starbucks to get a drink he said that he was hungry and maybe we could go to Freddy's Frozen Custard to eat supper. Perfect, another opportunity to process what just happened.

While the food was cooking I asked if he felt rushed at Target, because my intention was to not rush him and give him all the time he needed. He felt rushed with my suggestion of putting the item in the cart. WOW, what I say and what he hears are so different. Neither is bad, but to be aware of this is HUGE.

As we were almost home, at a certain spot in town, he mentioned an incident from the day before. When I said I was going to get him. I was clearly (in my mind) teasing him the day before, but when he brought it up, I didn't get the feeling that he knew I was teasing and it had not felt like teasing to him.

Great, now I've scared my child.

Some of this I talked with my husband about after we got home. Later in the evening, the 3 of us talked about it. "Yes (with tears in his eye), I get scared when you say 'I'm going to get you'."

I apologize. He is quiet. I apologize again. Still quiet. Then with twinkling eyes, "Yes, I'll forgive you if you give me $100." I sure hope he's teasing.


Have I (re)learned a lot this summer. My younger son is tender hearted (I already knew that), and I really have to be thoughtful of what I say to him. My older son is entering a busy, emotional time in his life and I want to be available to him (not just when it's convenient for me). Saying yes to my family is way more fun than saying no (I already knew that also, but need to remind myself of that).

Connection is what this is all about. But I do not like that word; it triggers weird thoughts.  I like Bridge better.

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Wednesday, June 27, 2012

the daily 5, Chapter 3

What's the Difference? Key Materials, Concepts, and Routines for Launching the Daily Five

 I'm not sure exactly, because I only ever taught using daily 5, not the traditional centers.

Questions to ponder as given to us by Jana @ Thinking Out Loud

  1. Why is a gathering place important? The gathering space is important because it allows teacher and students to be close together. To learn together. The place can help the student and teacher shift between activities and thinking.
  2. How did your students progess with picking appropriate books?  What went well?  What had to be changed? As the year went on I did not keep up with book shopping, or giving the students opportunities to pick good-fit books. I have to dedicate time to that this year. It is a must.
  3. What rituals and routines do you need to teach for this structure to be successful? In order to be successful I need to teach routines for gathering, going to work, choosing books, and working at each choice.
  4. How did you adapt the rituals and routines introduced in this chapter to make them successful for your students? I basically taught the routines like to book described them.
  5. What is one statement that stood out above everything in this chapter? I love books. I love being in classrooms with lots of books. I loved my sons 4th grade teacher who had an awesome classroom library. So my favorite statement was on page 35, "Jim Trelease (2001) says that children in classrooms with the most books consistently outperform their peers who are in classrooms with little or no library." This statement reminds me of the power of having books around and encouraging children to read all the time.

What did I love about this chapter? The many practical routines, and materials needed for launching the D5.
**Next year I want to create an awesome gathering place. Last years was ok, but reading about what other teacher's have nearby is making me rethink what materials I want to have handy.
**School had been in session for 1 week last year when I started the daily 5, so reading about filling the book boxes before school was great. I can hardly wait to get back in my classroom and start filling the boxes in anticipation of the young ones that will be coming in August.
**We loved making anchor charts. But I did not keep them up all year. I had them on a ring to pull out as needed, but maybe I need to have a space for them. We made anchor charts (the I chart for independence) for project day and field trip days. I think they really helped us set the tone for whatever work we were about to do.
**I remember practicing soooo much to build our stamina. We celebrated big time when one day we increased our stamina by 5 minutes! WOW what a feeling. It might take more practice and patience this year with first grade. Maybe they will surprise me. In fact, I know they will.
**Modeling both correct behaviors and incorrect behaviors was instrumental in getting my challenging students to stay on task. Loved this. Took this idea to other parts of my day as well.

Hop on over to Mrs. Freshwater's Class and Thinking Out Loud to read what she and others have to say about chapter 3.

For earlier chapters visit:
Chapter 1: Mel D. from Seusstastic Classroom Inspirations
Chapter 2: Mel D. from Seusstastic Classroom Inspriations

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Monday, June 25, 2012


I love freebies. I found VistaPrint last summer from The Clutter Free Classroom and placed an order. Not as good of a deal as her, but I was happy.

When school got out and I had a bit of time, I created a large portfolio of items I would like to have. I didn't know about premium business cards versus the free ones, but oh well, I created away and just saved everything in my portfolio.

I've been watching for a sale. There was a sale on premium business cards, so I put one of my designs in my cart and loaded it with other free items and sent it off. While I was in Colorado it arrived. Yippee!!

This is what came for me. (Unfortunately everything is the same size--small, it is difficult to see, I am super sorry. You can use your imagination.)

1. A Car Door Magnet (it is probably 8 1/2 x 11) I will use this for the kindness recorder to put tallies under during the day.
2. A refrigerator magnet to put in their welcome to school bags
3. A refrigerator magnet for Christmas

4. A rubber stamp (nothing special, other than it has my name on it)

5. A pen with my name on it
6. A bumper sticker to hang somewhere in the room.

7. 10 notecards

8. 250 business cards (to be used as a way of sharing how someone was helpful during the day)

9. 250 more business cards (same purpose)
10. A t shirt for me

That's it for now. I'm satisfied. Almost. I think the t shirt is too big, I want to order a smaller size. And I do not have a class set of the notecards (see #7 above), so I should order more. Today I created a few more projects. So now I am waiting to see if there will be another free premium business card sale, and maybe a free shipping also.

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Sunday, June 24, 2012

Guided Math Chapter 4

Ok, time for the next chapter of Guided Math. This chapter focused on when and how to use Whole-Class Instruction.

Ideas/concepts that I want to remember:
**whole-class instruction should be 10 minutes or less
**can be used for: mini-lessons, activating prior knowledge, using literature as a connection, setting the stage for math workshop, Math Huddle, or a practice or review session
**mini-lesson components: 1. connection to prior learning or life 2. teaching point 3. demonstrate and model 4. engagement (guided practice) 5. link to ongoing work

Review and Reflect:
1. How much whole class instruction do I use in math? Nearly all of my instruction was whole class. Why? Because I wasn't sure what else to do. (Sad admission, but true.)
2. What situations do I use whole-class most frequently? To introduce a new concept or review. It was effective, but it must be kept short or I would lose my student's attention.

Click on over to Sweet Seconds to see what Brittany and others are saying about chapter 4, and Once Upon A Teaching Blog for Katie's thoughts.
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Saturday, June 23, 2012

National Ag in the Classroom

Hold on, this may take a while.

Wow, what week. Tuesday at 12:30 pm five of my school buddies and I loaded a school van and made a flying trip to Loveland, Colorado. Actually we did not fly, nor did the van, the trip went (OK, just 8 hours of driving and 1 hour for supper, but still...) Good stories, good times, good laughs. And then we made it to the hotel.

I don't think I've ever stayed in an Embassy Suites before. A bedroom, sitting room, 2 tvs, bathroom (of course) all for me and Tise. I kinda wished I could have spent more time in the room, it was truly fabulous. Maybe I need to take more vacations?

Beds facing a tv.

Bathroom origami.

Sitting room. Couch facing tv.

Our first night there I spent my evening pouring over the agenda that was given to me in my registration packet, which happened to be a backpack and included another bag, because I am told we will end up with loads of great freebies (and I did--more later).

Wednesday started with the hotel's continental breakfast and then we went to the opening session. Absolutely loved the keynote address. Cat Urbigkit is a rancher and book author from Wyoming. She has sheep.  She told great stories about her life and her sheep. And stories about other Wyoming animals. If you want to know more about her, visit her sheep ranch or her town. Someone or some group paid for every teacher at that session to receive an autographed copy of her book Cattle Kids. Super exciting. The freebies had started, and started good!

There were opportunities for four workshops throughout the day. Most were good. Super ideas. Like how to incorporate agricultural literature into lessons, longs lists of ag literature that we will give our librarian to order if she has money, and issues on the rangelands (still not sure I understand all that, but at least I have a start).

At our banquet-type noon meal everyone had a book on their chair Who Grew My Soup? and we networked with our table-mates.

Our evening buffet was also fun, but I was so tired from the day that I just wanted to sit in my great hotel room and read my novel (Learning by Karen Kingsbury).

Thursday was field trip day. Two of my Walton Buddies and I chose the Animal Agriculture tour (the selling point for me was a visit to a sheep feedlot). We rode a charter bus, nice (I thought we would be on school buses, but everything about this conference was done well buses, food, snacks).

We started at the sheep feedlot. This hotel (that is what the owner/tour guide called it) had 60,000 head of sheep.

My buddies Angela and Johanna.

Alpaca guard dogs-guard from four-legged and two-legged coyotes.

I tried some BBQ lamb ribs. I thought it was yummy. We saw some professional guys shearing (they were fast), and other sheep getting loaded to go get finished.

Wool baler.

My friend, a little lamb.

Next stop...meat packing plant. Very interesting. I took pictures, but think I will keep them to myself for now. There was only one part when I got concerned for my breakfast. That day they were finishing bison.

We wore lab coats and hair nets during the tour.

Lunch was supposed to be a sack lunch (at least I thought--field trip, right?), but we were treated to burgers at a country club. Not too fancy, but nice and we had time to relax and visit.

Now for seeing a cattle feedlot. I do not have any pictures, because we stayed on the bus, but I did catch a glimpse of one cowboy riding down an alley. There were something like 80,000 head of cattle at this hotel. It was really cool, and I would love to take my children to see it as well.

As we drove our bus tour guide pointed out every single field we passed and what was growing in it (carrots, sugar beets, corn, wheat, etc) and every single river or ditch and where it came from. We got a good ear-full of Colorado water issues, and that is confusing to this Kansas girl, but maybe I will need to learn more as water becomes more of an issue in Kansas as well.

Our group was fortunate to get back to the Embassy Suites by 4:15 (one group got back at 6:30) so we sat around in my buddies hotel room and shared our stories from the day. We opted to go to a local BBQ restaurant for supper and then a quiet evening back in our room.

I was totally looking forward to the Friday breakfast. It is the "state tables." That means that states can decorate their table with items from their top commodities and share goodies with people who sit with them. I was going to go to the Indiana table, but it was full. Next choice: Texas. I got a book, and a cowboy hat filled with Texas goodies (Texas-sized jelly beans and peanuts, for example).

After breakfast we loaded the van and started the trip back to Kansas. I was the mile marker tracker. I kept track of how many miles to the CO/KS border, then to Hays, Salina, and Hesston (with the help of my husband). I got a nap, and finished my book.

So many more stories to tell. So many ideas to try out next year. It's a good thing I am on summer vacation so that I can process some of what I learned this past week. 

Here is a peek at some of what I came home with...

Books, dvds, handouts, ag magazines, t shirts, a mousepad,  and even a teacher guide for plant nutrition lessons. And posters, I haven't even looked at them yet.

I would love to go to the 2013 National Conference. It is in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Will my buddies let me go with them? I think it is farther than Colorado.

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Wednesday, June 20, 2012

GM Chapter 3 and D5 Chapter 2

I loved this chapter of Guided Math. If you want previous chapters go here for chapter 1 (Brenda at Primary Inspired) and here for chapter 2 (Dana at 3rd Grade Gridiron).

Chapter 3 was about Math Warm-Ups, a great way to bridge the time from home to school. I really loved the ideas in this chapter and example chart on page 86 that suggests which warm-up to do on each day of the week. I like organization and being able to plug activities into a framework is super helpful to me.

We did some data collection last year, but we never analyzed it. I'm not sure how to lead a think-aloud for analysis, I need ideas.

I appreciated the ideas for number of the day, what's next, and _____ makes me think of...

As I plan for the daily Math Warm-up I need to remember that I teach first, keep it brief and independent, remember what standards I need to address and that I hope to prompt mathematical thinking and communication. Going to need to teach each warm up to the whole class before i can expect my firsties to do it independently.

Finding a way to connect current events and class-responsibilities will take more thinking.

I am loving that my principal bought me Mountain Math for first grade for next year. It is a wonderful way to review and preview numerous concepts weekly and added to my calendar routine, I think I will love that time of day. I learned about it from The Teacher Tipster. He has a video that shows how he uses it. I modified it and created my own questions for my second and third graders last year, so I know I will love using it with my first graders in the fall.

Review and Reflect:
1. I did not have a set activity for the beginning of the day last year. So much of the year was trial and error, fix it up and try again. With a math warm up in place, I think the students will get to class and have a meaningful start.
2. As students recognize the links between math and their own lives, they develop a reason for learning the math. Math becomes urgent. Students see their why and want to learn, and maybe want to learn more and deeper.

To see what other bloggers wrote on chapter 3 go see Michelle at Making it as a Middle School Teacher.

Now on to the next book...
The Daily 5, Chapter 2.

1 .What goals do you have for your classroom as you work to implement the principles and foundations of the Daily 5 discussed in chapter 2? What support do you need to do this?

Last year I did not do all 5 choices. Writing, words, and listening need to happen this year. I need ideas for what to do with firsties and working with words. And I super hope my DonorsChoose proposal gets fully funded by the end of summer, that will help with listening to reading. I also want someone to pay for a classroom subscription to

2. What stands out as the most significant aspects of this chapter? 
 Again I am reminded about the urgency of the day (and year). This can apply to all areas of school. When I give the students a "Why" their motivation goes through the roof. I saw that last year. It was amazing.
3. How do the foundational principles of the Daily 5 structure (trust, choice, community, sense of urgency, and stamina), align with your beliefs that support your teaching strategies and the decisions that you make about student learning?

I know that I didn't think about this at all before reading D5 last fall, after using the foundations for a year it really impacts how I speak to the students. So I kind of took the principles, loved them, used them, and now they have become my beliefs as well.

A couple of thoughts that I want to remember: 
a. Trust + Explicit Instruction = Independent Learner
b. Purpose + Choice = Motivation
c. Our shared experiences and knowledge bind us together as a community. I strive to create a community of learners in my class.
d. After instruction, stay out of the way and watch the magic happen.

Head on over to Seusstastic Classroom Inspirations to see what Mel D and others are saying about the D5!

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Monday, June 18, 2012


Since I have been reading blogs I've seen several posts about teachers getting projects funded. How cool. Books, technology, art supplies, whatever the teacher needs.

Earlier this month Katie from Dirty Hands and Lesson Plans wrote a post with tips to get funded. That prompted me to really check out DonorsChoose.

Last week I spent 1 and 1/2 hours creating an account and then writing my proposal. I want 2 iPods for my class, so my first graders can listen to books on cd without the hassle of a cd or being restricted to what I want them to listen to.

I was so excited to post on Facebook that I had submitted a proposal, but then I had to wait to see if I did everything right and it would be accepted. Late Saturday I did get an email from DonorsChoose and yep, everything is a go. Now to find some donors.

Check it out. Digital Books for my Young Readers

Any more tips?
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Saturday, June 16, 2012

Art or Craft?

I have not really enjoyed art in my life. I felt like I couldn't do it right. As I get older, and with influence from amazing artists/friends I am taking some risks and trying new things.

Here is what I did this week.

This was a boring composition notebook that I have been collecting ideas in ever since I found out I was going to first grade in August. I love this notebook--the inside. But the outside was boring. Ideas from blogs are in it. My three book study notes are in it. My bucket list is in it. And many other things for first grade.

Sometimes I open it and read through the pages for fun.

(The very wonderful tabs at the top were created with painters tape.)

Yesterday I added scrapbook paper, stickers and contact paper. Now I love the outside as well as the inside.

I also created this.

Farley from Oh Boy 4th Grade showed this project on her blog. I fell in love as well. It was super helpful that she gave written and picture directions. Perhaps I will make a whole bunch this summer and save for Christmas presents. I know it won't go in a museum, but it makes me happy and I will enjoy having it in my classroom next year.

Is it art or craft? Does it matter if it is an expression of me at the moment?
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Friday, June 15, 2012

Guided Math and Bucket List Update

Time for chapter 2 of Guided Math. Hop on over to see Dana @ 3rd Grade Grid Iron to see what she and other have to say about this chapter.

These are my thoughts. Numeracy. What in the world is numeracy? It's like literacy, only with numerals and related concepts. So, as I plan my classroom to print-rich, I must also make it numeral-rich.

Here's how...
1. Don't skimp or skip calendar activities. And find a way to keep everyone involved.
2. Have manipulatives available for students to use (even without asking first). Students do not have to ask to get a book or dictionary, why should they ask for pattern blocks or rulers?
3. Problem of the day and week. Solve together and learn to communicate with each other. That is how we can learn multiple strategies, and acceptance of each other.
4. Keep math words/vocabulary visible. Should I have 3 word walls? Reading, Math, and Ag? or combine all into one gigantic word wall?
5. Use math journals to record new learnings and questions, and practice written communication.
6. Use graphic organizers.
7. Class Charts. Make them with the students with student participation. It's not about me making cute charts and signs--but a chart that will enhance the students' learning that day.
8. Keep tools for measuring available. And use regularly. 
9. Discover math-related literature and keep it handy. Read it, talk about it, use it.
10. Make math books together. Simple books. Like I do for reading.
11. Show repeatedly how math connects to other subjects. Math is not isolated, but useful in many areas of our day.

I found the paragraph on page 41 about having conversations very helpful. Especially "students must be taught that purposeful talk means that they must say something meaningful, listen with intent, and keep the lines of thinking alive." WOW. Great for math discussions, but every other time we have conversations. (I see an anchor chart in our future.)

Guided Math and Guided Reading have many commonalities. I get the foundations of both. Having guidance of how to store/organize manipulatives and what to include in the math block and ideas for implementation are helpful to me as I plan away and get ready for first grade in August.

How's my Summer Bucket List coming? 1. Haven't worked any more on the year-at-a-glance since that day at school. 2. Math differentiation: book study. Learning a lot. 3. Thinking I'm not going to do a clip behavior chart after all. With my head back into CD, I don't think I want that in my classroom. 4. Trying to find a way to get to part of the retreat. 5. Trip to IN coming up. We will go to Cedar Point, maybe a zoo, tie-dye t shirts and watch movies. 6. Finished the first book in the Bailey Flanigan series by Karen Kingsbury on Wednesday. I got the next book yesterday. Time to lose myself in someone else's drama. 7. I went to one baseball game on Tuesday, another last night, and two basketball games last night as well.

I am pleased with my bucket list progress.
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Wednesday, June 13, 2012

The Daily Five, Chapter 1: Introduction

Crazy to read the introduction to this book.

It seems to go along so well with Guided Math. Yesterday was about math, today is about reading.

18 months ago I saw The Daily 5 book while I was subbing in a kindergarten classroom. I loved it. When I got my own classroom in August 2011 I bought the book and started launching the five in my classroom. Kids loved it. It was meaningful. I loved that the students knew my favorite part of the day: reading. They wrote me notes about reading. We talked about why we read. The assistant who came into my room loved the time as well. When I would start to get annoyed about the noise, she would smile and remind me that the students were talking about books, reading books, and writing. Then I would calm down again.

Now, heading into first grade it is time to review and get pumped again. So, what did I take away from this introduction?

**Am I making sure that childrens' activities are furthering their literate lives?
**Do I manage the day? Or put out fires? (Definitely need to work on that next year, too many fires got to me while I was teaching.)
**Will I have meaningful conversations with each child every day, so that I have a specific comment for them as they walk out the door?
**Cannot wait to have focus lessons between each daily. That did not happen this past year.
**Students will be assuming responsibility as they learn. Just like in Guided Math.

I may have to pace myself as I continue to read this book. Hard to put it down again.

Hop on over to Seusstastic Classroom Inspirations

and see what everyone else is saying about The Daily 5.

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Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Guided Math Chapter 1

I got my book yesterday and read chapter 1 just now. I am giddy with excitement.

Last year I was scared to death to teach math, so I convinced a fabulous teacher to let me teacher her students reading, and she could teach mine math. Our principal said ok. We did it. It worked, but I did miss my kiddos.

Next year I do not have the option for her to teach my students (since I am moving to first grade and she is at third). Nervousness and concern set it. I had not taught math for a while. Could I do it? Did I do it good enough when I was doing it? Reading blogs this spring I came across the term "differentiating" math instruction. That intrigued me. I put investigating it on my summer bucket list. Last week came across a blog (Brenda @ Primary Inspired) that is having a book study on Guided Math.

Yippee! Chapter 1 is an overview of the book and I cannot wait to read the rest. My math teaching confidence has already gone up and I haven't really started planning it yet!

The charts and sample schedule for a week (on page 30) were helpful. But the lesson I learned today is not about how to teach, but why to teach. I need to make sure that I provide multiple opportunities for my students to increase their conceptual understanding of math. Go beyond the facts. Make meaning. Connect to real-world experiences. Gradually let go, let the students take responsibility for their learning and understanding. To let them take responsibility does not mean that I get to sit back and enjoy my time, but I have to be ready with lessons, games, stations, centers, extensions, re-teach, and assessments so that I can be sure that these first graders have a great start, a framework, to move on to second grade (and beyond) so that they can continue to "get it" during their math time.

Sounds daunting right now. However, the rest of this book is going to be great with details, and examples and I will be pumped and ready in August.
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Monday, June 11, 2012

Three Book Studies

I love reading and learning from books. How excited I was when Heather posted that she was going to organize a book study on Dr. Becky Bailey's book for teachers called Conscious Discipline. I already had that book and think that would be a great way to get myself ready for the next year. I will talk more about that later.

Last week I ran across a new to me blog that said a guided math book study was getting ready to start. Well, that would go right along with one of my summer to do lists (learn about differentiated math). I am super excited to learn along with Brenda at Primary Inspired. More on that in a different post.

And the third book I want to study this summer is The Daily 5. Hosted by Mel D. (and a few others) at Seusstastic Classroom Inspirations. I think I will be busy. I will be ready when school starts.

This isn't a book study, but going to Ag in the Classroom in Colorado later will be a wonderful way to get ready as well.

Now, back to Conscious Discipline (CD). Heather suggested reading the Introduction as a way of starting and gave us some questions to answer. The questions had straight-forward answers, so I won't go into that. I will share about what it meant to me to read and ask myself those questions again.

**Conflict is an essential part of life. But I do not like conflict. I want it to go away QUICKLY. I do not  want an opportunity to learn or teach. I have been trying to shift my thinking about conflict, but old habits die hard. It gets easier, however, especially when I have invested time into a relationship.

**Self-control is essential for being able to teach and learn during conflict. What do I do to foster my own self-control on a daily or weekly basis? What do I do to encourage my own inner peace? Definitely need to start something with this during the summer break.

**It is easy for me to show respect in calm times--what about times of stress?

**As a teacher there is so much curriculum to teach during the day and year. In the moments that I find it difficult to be empathetic can I step back long enough to know that something is not going my way? To realize that addition facts may need to take a back seat to the social skills and life values that are being modeled and taught indirectly?

**I get super excited when the unexpected "teachable moments" happen. Usually it has something to do with science or reading. Can I find a way to recognize the teachable moments with social skills and life values and get super excited about that as well?

Just reading my notes gets me energized and back to my consciousness. Chapter 1, Composure, is coming next.

I think this will be a great day for me and my family.
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Sunday, June 10, 2012

Consciousness Journey Continues

When my kids were young I stayed home with them and practiced Conscious Discipline (CD) with them. OK, it was me that had to change, so that's what I did. Gradual, baby steps. One thing at a time.

19 months ago I went back to teaching. In a resource room setting. CD was helpful. But when I see the kids for 30 minutes a day it was tricky to build the relationship that CD takes. We did the best we could.

13 months ago I scored a general education class for the following year. I was beyond excited. That is what I went to college to do. I got side-tracked being a resource teacher (but I loved my time there and could have happily stayed if this gen ed job hadn't opened up).

Throughout last summer I tried to get ready for this awesome opportunity coming up. I needed books to read and prepare myself. My CD friends talked about this book.

So, I got my hands on it and of course loved it. Baby steps again as I set up my very first classroom. My two favorites that I used last year was the birthday celebrations and class jobs.

(It says "Good Morning and may you have an amazing day" written by the morning message writer. And you can see the kindness tallies we had so far that day.)

My school social worker boosted my confidence and I continued to grow my school family. Some days  were very rewarding. Some days were very emotionally draining. Overall, I loved the family that we created. The students started calling each other "school family." That made my heart sing for sure.

So many good things from last year. And now I will re-read

and work through the book study with Heather at Heather's Heart and give myself a good old pep-talk. Last night I read the introduction and fell in love with CD all over again. I will share those thoughts next time.

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Saturday, June 9, 2012

My Journey With Consciousness, the beginning

I have been a teacher for a long time. Officially for 18 years. Unofficially a lot longer. (As a middle schooler every child I babysat got to learn what I was learning in school. Solar system to the Thomas girls for example.) I have been an aunt for a while also. So, when I became a parent 12 and 1/2 years ago I had all the answers and knew exactly how my children would act and how I would respond. Naive.

Most of the time parenting went according to my plan. Add another child. Family dynamics change. I read every parenting book I could get my hands on in every library I had access. I love to read and learn. Changed a few things, but mostly parenting was the same.

Roughly 7 1/2 years ago at my local public library I spotted a book in the new acquisitions section. It caught my eye. Easy to Love, Difficult to Discipline by Dr. Becky Bailey. I was immediately turned off and did not check out that book. Over the next 6 months I kept seeing that book.

In April that year I finally checked it out. As I started to read (and take notes) I felt my stomach churning. Many of my foundational beliefs were being challenged. I would read a section. Process. Put it away for a few days. Then pick up the book again.

My three weeks were over, but I had not finished the book. I renewed the book a total of three times. That is just how long it took me to read and process the book. But I loved every page I read. Yes, I felt sick a lot, but embraced the love in the book and the idea that I needed to change me, not my children.

I changed some of the ways I parented and found joy in the conscious way I responded to my kids. But this type of parenting is so time consuming and emotionally draining that I still went back to my former ways.

Fortunately I have a couple of friends who were knowledgable and eagerly shared their Becky Bailey wisdom with me. What a journey the next year was.

I took a Becky Bailey parenting class, acquired two copies of Easy to Love, Difficult to Discipline, and continued to mess up more than I got it right.

My biggest obstacle? Clearly it was self-control in the midst of a storm. When days would not go my way I would become frustrated and had difficulty expressing my feelings and what I wanted. After the incidents I would look back and see it clearly, but not in the moment. I also began to see my children handling their upset in the same way I was modeling for them.

The next years brought ups and downs. Read parts of the book again. Talk with my friends a lot. Try ideas out on my kids. I was changing and found many great moments with my family. My beliefs were changing and I was liking it.

More to come...
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Friday, June 8, 2012

Ag Camp Wrap-Up

Wheww. Yesterday and today did not have much structure at the good ole ag camp. But we all survived and I heard some "I want to come back again next year" comments. From students and workers. That is a good sign.

Yesterday's special guest got held up in Denver and did not make it, so the amazing staff improvised and we did our best to find activities for the kiddos. Bagging produce and a lot of free time in the out of doors (my favorite aspect of summer--be bored enough to get creative).

Today was the Farmer's Market.

It was so busy the first hour as our customers arrived to get the best. Breads, granola, jams, and plants.

The adults and students wore the tie-dyes t shirts that were created on Monday. Mine is so cool. I didn't make it, so thanks to Mrs. Black and her helpers for getting me decked out in the best Walton Rural Life Center duds around.

While we weren't at the market, kids ate popsicles and played tag games.

By 11:30 kids and adults just wanted to go home to take a nap. Maybe the nap is only for the adults. I wish I could have had one, but I had to go to the dentist.

Today the dentist told me I have pretty teeth. And the hygienist said she loves the color of my teeth. No one has ever told me that before. I suppose I do not have to bleach my teeth this summer as was my plan.

When we got back home my town was in full swing Garage Sale Weekend mode. I saw 4 sales on my street. So I parked the van at home, left my wallet (so I wouldn't be tempted to buy something) and headed out to see what my neighbors are trying to rid themselves of. First stop. Found a first grade set of Brain Quest cards and a Discovery Toys game. 50 cents and 25 cents. I humbly went to my fourth grade neighbor and asked him to hold those items while I go home to get some money. He was nice about it and gladly took my money when I got back.

Not tempted at sale 2, skipped over sale 3, and at sale 4 I found nothing that required me to leave any of my money.

I am definitely going to need to find something to occupy me tomorrow or I may be finding myself heading out to the sales.

Perhaps going through my "stuff" that occupies space in my crowded basement and sending it off to Et. Cetera.
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Wednesday, June 6, 2012

What I'm Loving Wednesday!

What a great way to spend a bit of time on a Wednesday afternoon. Thinking about what I'm loving...

Jamie is having a fun linky. Here's what I'm loving.

I'm Loving that day three of felt magnet making is complete.

I'm Loving time spent with Wil repotting the geranium he gave me for Mother's Day.

(The pot was made by Sam for a different Mother's Day.)

I'm Loving good news from friends.

I'm Loving that the whole afternoon and evening are free and we can do whatever we want with it.

I'm Loving my husband and the dedication he has to his second job that keeps him super busy during my super unbusy summer.

I'm Loving that I kept my cool once this afternoon during a crisis parenting moment.

What are you loving today?
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