Tuesday, December 31, 2013

NYE Resolutions

I need a quick party. Brandi at A Peach for the Teach to the rescue!! She has a wonderful, sweet and easy-to-join linky party.

A Peach for the Teach: Behavior Supports & Multi-Age

Here are my NYE Resolutions...

Not to much to explain. Do you have resolutions? 
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Tuesday, December 24, 2013

13 in '13 Linky Party

This is a fun way to review the year. Share 13 of my favorites in 2013...

Let's get started--

13. Favorite new article of clothing...scarves. I made some from old t-shirts, got one from my sister, and bought a few. Now to learn how to wear them.

12. Favorite movie you watched...too many to choose from. I think I will choose a category. Superhero. 

My kids talked me into seeing The Avengers (and several more). Who would have guessed that I would like this genre?

11. Favorite TV series...Marvel Agents of Shield.

10. Favorite restaurant...I don't get to restaurants very much. The restaurant that I choose most often is Chipotle. It is relatively fast, and inexpensive. Both of which are a priority for me and my family.

9. Favorite new thing you tried...I've tried rubrics for drawing and writing.

8. Favorite gift you got...handwritten notes from a parent. This year I have a parent who has without a doubt given me the best notes. The notes make my day.

7. Favorite thing you secret board of presents for others.

6. Favorite blog post...the gift of a mouse.

5. Best fun with my school mates...painting parties.

4. Favorite picture...from our family summer vacation in IN/MI.

3. Favorite memory...our family trip to Florida for spring break. It was definitely a dream vacation. 

2. Goal for on a hobby that is not school. Perhaps sew something on my sewing machine?

1. One Little Word...last year my word was calm. I still don't feel it. But maybe I forgot to focus on calm. I think I will choose the same word for this year. Calm.

Those are my favorites for today. They may change tomorrow. What are your 13 favorites for 2013? 

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Friday, December 20, 2013

Five for Friday--School Party Style

Hello 10 pm on a Friday night. It sure has been a long time.

Here is my party day wrap-up, in the form of a Five for Friday courtesy of Kacey at 

1. Our class got a surprise from our Ohio pen pals today. They sent us a holiday video message via YouTube. I watched it before school and got teary. Then I teared up (again) when I showed the class first thing. I'm pretty sure my first graders were excited, because some immediately got paper and started another letter to their pen pal. Precious.

2. We had breakfast in our classroom this morning after watching the above video. I made muffins and cooked up some sausage links. We enjoyed a relaxed time together.

3. I taught the kids how to create "poke" pictures. As a parent, I say, "what in the world am I going to do with all of these pictures?" As a teacher I say, "engaging, fine-motor skills practice--YES."

4. The kids have done super duper behavior-wise this week. But we did have moments. While we finished watching The Polar Express today, these boys decided it is better to crowd around a laptop to watch, instead of viewing the projected version. Go figure!

5. Part of our party was to dress up a person as a snowman using all of the items in a bag that was given to you. Wow, the hardest part was for each group to decide who would get to be dressed up. There were tears, because someone did not want to give in and NOT be the dressed up person. It was fun, but stressful for the teacher (I may have trouble guiding the kids to a solution in situations like these).

So much more happened, but I will keep those memories for me to treasure. What I do know is that I love these kiddos and their parents. I was spoiled with gifts, kind words, and love this week.

Now my heart is full and I am ready to share that with my family.
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Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Sleep, A Dog, Calf Poop and A Cupcake

No matter what season it is, I love to sleep.

Not naps, good long nights. And now that it is cold outside (and inside) I love sleeping even more.

So, lately I've been sleeping instead of writing about what is going on at my school. Tonight I have to stay awake, because some really cool things happened, and I want to make sure I can remember this day.

My sister-in-law is awesome. She trains dogs to be therapy dogs. And she wants to use my classroom as part of her dog's training. Oh yeah, bring him in!!

Aunt Bev brought Harvey in this morning. First, she talked about when she got him, how she is training him, and then we got back to work.

During our working with words lesson, Bev and Harvey made the rounds in our room.

This group of students is also amazing. **Don't hate me when I say that I can not even tell that Christmas is coming, and I have no Elf watching out for good behavior to report.** They kept working, except when it was their turn to pet Harvey.

As I was cruising the room, I found this note. My kids love writing notes, and this one is going home, she wanted to remember what she wants to tell her mom at the end of the day. 

When we got done, we sat around, talking, petting and practicing kindness.

Harvey and Bev stayed until lunchtime. I had my kids writing for part of the time, and either they have grown as writers, I did an incredible job explaining the task, or Harvey created a wonderful environment for working, (maybe all of the above, including an outside recess), because I was not needed to give support during this time. I sat helpless beside Bev, wondering, "what am I supposed to do when these independent first graders are writing?"

Our second recess is near the animal pens. Mrs. Jones got the idea to grab some of her first graders, and scoop calf poop.

These two kids loved spending their time in the pen. And there were 3 kindergartner students hanging on the fence, just hoping that Mrs. Jones would let them come and scoop as well. Go figure!!

All smiles while comparing who has a bigger scoop of poop.

And I ended my day with a delicious birthday cupcake.

My school has a tasty tradition. The birthday kid almost always brings more than enough treats, so then, the birthday kid takes the extras around school to deliver to other grown-ups. I love this tradition. This cupcake was from a kindergartner. How does a kindergartner know the tradition?
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Thursday, December 12, 2013



Life is amazing. First graders are amazing. Friends are amazing.

Thanks Emily (from Curious Firsties) for giving me weekly reminders to focus on the good, the wonderful, the amazing, the moments that WOW me.

1. As the semester winds down, I gear up the assessing. I never feel like I teach "enough" to really get these first graders reading. But I have been surprised this week with the official growth since October. Go us!!

2. I have gotten some incredible comments from people that I trust. It made all the difference this week. They have confidence in me, and shared it with me until I felt it myself again.

3. Today my friend stopped by school. To deliver a yummy chai tea. We used to talk all.the.time. But now we both are in the public workforce and hardly talk. She helps me breath. I love her.

Did you have a WOW? I would love to hear about it...
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Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Sounds of Music

My most prominent memory from childhood is watching The Sound of Music with my mom and sister.

Back in the day before DVR, and VCR we had to watch it on the day it aired, during that time, and have bathroom breaks during the commercials. Very rough.

I could (and still can) quote most characters, sing the songs, and even dance the dances. Yes, I "know" the movie like the back of my hand.

Now I own it on a DVD and can watch it whenever I want (which isn't very often, sadly).

I was intrigued to learn of a Live presentation of The Sound of Music which aired last week. I started watching it, but the songs were wrong, the voices wrong, and I was having a difficult time accepting this new version.

Because of my acceptance issue, along with supper, homework and bed, I DVRed it.

Last night I watched it. And what do you know--I LIKED it.

Somehow I opened my heart to this new thing and really enjoyed it.

So, my life was filled with a new kind of music.

Imagine my surprise today... Inside recess, again. I was minding my own business while the children ran amuck in the room (not really, they were playing checkers and connect four). When what to my discerning ears did I hear?

A sweet little voice singing loud and clear. "When you know the notes to sing, you can sing most any thing!"

She sang over and over. Which gave me time to snap a photo.

They were creating illustrations for a story written earlier in the day, and she was singing and I was loving it.

These are a few of my favorite things.

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Saturday, December 7, 2013

Weekly Wrap Up

Good things happened yesterday. 

1. It started early.

This was the time I was driving my 8th grader to school for basketball practice. I'm glad he is committed to his team, but that was EARLY.

2. Candy Cane Nouns

I love this pack from Teacher to the Core. We reviewed nouns and decked our walls with some Christmas color.

3. Snowman

I got a present from a student earlier in the week. Her mom made a snowman from a fence piece. My school buddies are jealous. Let them be jealous, I am keeping all my kids and their parents.

4. My Closet

I have been working on making my storage closets more organized and useful to me. This picture is one section. I put themed books together in magazine holders, added a name tag and then put them in order, August-May. 

I love my closet. It makes me so happy.

Often Mrs. Jones comes into my room and finds me in my closet. She laughs and shakes her head.

Yesterday after school she and I were wasting time (before our girls night out) and she asked, "What are you doing (in a text)?" I told her, "playing in my closet."

When she came to see me, she found me with two closets open instead of one.

I don't care. Some people can only wish to have awesome closets. I am living the dream.

5. Girls Night Out

Nine of us from school hung out last night. First at Carlos O'Kelly's. Yummy chips and salsa. Then we headed to "Paint the Towne." We did that once before. 

This painting was more difficult than last time. But we had a different teacher. 

She used words to tell us what to do. Then she told us again. And again. And showed us on her canvas. And repeated the directions.

This was not bad or frustrating. It was sooooo good for me. I connected so much better with her.

Reminds me of when we sort kids for the next year. Thinking about which kids will fit with which teacher. 

I want last night's teacher for all my future painting projects.

Of course, the painting will head to school and be more than art. It will remind me of how I felt when the teacher worked with me where I was. Reassuring me that I could do it. Making space for questions, and practice. 

This post is linked with Kacey @ Doodle Bugs Teaching. And I am off to read what my friends are up to.

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Thursday, December 5, 2013

Thursday -- WOW

The cool thing about bloggy friends is that they like you, even when you are a day (or more) late to a party (which would be unacceptable in real life).

The rules are different in blog-land.

Emily from Curious Firsties is awesome that way. She hosts a party, hoping people show up. No RSVP needed. Come as you are and when you can.

So, here I am. 

1. The drawing/coloring rubric lesson from earlier in the week has impacted our class with gusto!! Yesterday a sweet friend brought me this paper.

(It is actually really small, as in a quarter sheet of copier paper.)

He wanted to know if it was a 3 or a 4 on the scale. We walked right over to where the rubric hangs on our wall and compared it to each paper. Starting with 1 and moving up to 4. We decided that it should be a four. "Because it is snowing, that is why there is so much white, that is the setting," he told me.

Can you see my jumping around? I was pretty excited and still am.

2. Have you heard? There is cold weather around these parts (and most likely yours, too). That means, no homeroom walking, head to the gym/cafeteria to dance.

We have our list of songs and dances that we know, and wherever the spirit leads, that is the song that is played.

Today our last song started. The Sid Shuffle.

We've done this dance a lot, so the kids are very familiar with it. But this is what was different today.

150 kids and grown ups dancing. 100+ kids singing along with the words. It was music to my ears. I grinned a lot.

3. Our class got pen pals this week.

Last week at a training my buddy, Mrs. Jones, and I tossed around the idea of pen pals. I joked that maybe I could write letters to my good friend from Ohio (First Grade Critter Cafe's Julie Marciniak).

I didn't really want to do it, because, well, what if her kids are better than mine, or my kids don't show well?

But somehow, Ms. Marciniak got wind of this wack-a-mole idea and loved it.

Ok, I will pull out my best writing instruction of writing a letter and give it a go. We did it today. The lesson went great and I was feeling pretty good about their end products.

Then I looked at them an hour later, and started thinking--how in the world can I send these to Ohio? Oh, why oh why did I agree to this????

Just now I looked at them, with a rubric in hand. Gave some scores. Then compared to what they did in October. And bless my soul, these kiddos have improved!!!

So now I am excited to mail these letters tomorrow, because no matter what we get in return, I know that my kiddos are not stagnating. They are making progress. 

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Monday, December 2, 2013

Christmas and A Rubric

It's the beginning of the month and you know what that means...a Currently from Farley

But I don't have one for you today. Maybe tomorrow.

Today was amazing and I want to tell about it.

My school is in a little town and that little town puts up a big Christmas tree in the town square every year. Our school children bring ornaments to hang on the tree.

Today was the day. We hung the ornaments (in the cold morning sunshine). Then we sang three carols around the tree. All the kids and teachers. 170 and 25. It was nice.

We were also honored that Santa was a sub in our building today.

After the tree, we headed back to school where the PTO had hot cocoa for us to drink.

Don't they look like they are having fun? We did.

The next cool thing happened just before lunch.

We started the process of understanding rubrics. Last week I read Kimberley's blog post about unpacking rubrics and got inspired to do a similar lesson with my kids.

It was magic! Each table group had four pictures to order from least detailed to most detailed. I loved hearing the conversations as the kids worked through their task.

In the end we posted the pictures, and they had time to draw a picture that would be a four on the rubric.

That was the quietest the class was all day!

I can't wait to to practice this more, and then do a similar lesson with writing.

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Friday, November 29, 2013

Discovery Time

Friday's are such wonderful days.

Especially when I have planned ahead and have five photos to share at Doodle Bugs Teaching's party. But I have no photos or lessons from this week.

What I have is a discovery. Today I made some connections. Let me explain.

I love being at school. When it's empty, full of students and teachers, or just a few.

I love looking through my resources and books.

I love planning and creating.

I love having time to make lessons better.

I love organizing.

Today, instead of spending money on Black Friday sales, I went to school. I planned. And planned. And planned some more. I organized books, files and binders. I rearranged the student's desks.

It was then that I made my discovery. I love being at school because I can organize, create and read my books.

Pretty nice that my occupation is also my hobby, and that my family is old enough to have hobbies of their own. 
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Sunday, November 24, 2013

Our Feast

Friday was a huge day. The kindergarten and first grade classes prepared and ate a Thanksgiving meal together.

The teachers were so tired at the end of the day. I slept long on Friday night, had a nap Saturday afternoon, and slept long on Saturday night. I think I am rested enough to tell you about our fabulous day.

Four classes divided up the meal. The students in each class brought the ingredients for the meal, and everyone helped prepare on Friday morning. And thankfully we had two handfuls of parents volunteer to help.

One class brought ingredients for the hamburger/vegetable soup, another brought for zwiebach (bread), another brought for cheesecake (individually made in muffin tins), and my class brought for fruit salad.

The parents cut the fruit into pieces, and then the kids cut the pieces into bite sizes.

I am so thankful to have my nephew at my school. I love having regular interactions with him.

Isn't this bread delicious looking? It was!!

80 kids, parents, and teachers eating in the basement of a local church. So thankful that the church was available to us. We prepared the food at the church in 5 rotations and then set the tables to eat.

Soup, fruit salad, bread, cheesecake, and a cornucopia filled with trail mix.

When the feast was over we headed back to school for some R & R, and then specials time.

Our students don't have school this week. But the teachers have meetings on Monday and Tuesday. Hopefully our time will be full of ideas, excitement, and validation. 

Happy week off!
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