Wednesday, July 17, 2013

What I'm Loving Wednesday

What I focus on I get more of. Thanks Becky Bailey and Conscious Discipline

Today I'm going to focus on the things that I love and link up with Covered in Glitter and Glue and share with my friends.

1. I love that I get to have dinner with my husband's family tonight.

2. I love that my teammate and I are slowly and surely getting next year planned, prepped, and ready to go.

3. I love that we have vision insurance and I can order new glasses for the third year in a row. That did not happen when I was an at-home mom. I wore the same glasses for 6 straight years.

4. I love that I have started up a new exercise routine.

5. I love my husband, and my kids. And all of my family (Yoders, Schrocks, Bartels, and those who don't share blood, but are family).

Wow, I can feel it. Focusing on that list is making me happy. Perhaps I will print it and keep it in my purse.
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Monday, July 15, 2013


My brain is hard wired to find patterns. 

Patterns in the world. At work. At home.

Patterns of thinking. Teaching. Living. Relating.

Patterns help me feel secure. Like I have some control over this unpredictable world.

Sometimes I have to let go of patterns. Occasionally I can recognize when to let go. Other times my friends tell me. It is hardly ever easy.

Now is the time for some new patterns. This is an exciting time. A growing time. A nervous time.

Here's to creating new patterns!

Do you like my new Blog Lovin' button over there on the right? I got it from Courtney at

 Hop on over and get one for yourself. She has 10 colors to choose from. Thanks Courtney!

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Sunday, July 14, 2013

A Little Bit of This and A Little Bit of That

Random. That is how I've been feeling lately.

Thank goodness I found Michelle at Fabulous in First, because she has this random, smorgasbord of a party. Now I can ramble and it is all okay.

I've been missing my routine. My teachers. My former students. My soon-to-be students. My school. As luck would have it, this afternoon I was able to think of a reason to go be at my school for a bit. I needed a book. Now there is no excuse to getting some papers prepped for the first 26 days of school.

Front entrance to my school.

Beautiful garden next to my school.

It felt very good to be in the building for 15 minutes. I looked around my classroom, made mental notes about the coming year, and reminisced this past year. Thankful that I am able to get into my room for moments like this.

Exactly one year ago today I tried to drive to my school to work in my new-to-me classroom. On the way, my van's transmission decided to stop working (I didn't know that was what was wrong until the next day). I limped the van to my in-law's house. What I knew was this: 1. my kids left that morning to spend a week with my parents (out of state), 2. my husband was 200 miles away taking pictures at someone's wedding, and 3. all manner of lights were flashing on my dashboard and I didn't understand any of it. 

Today's excursion to school was symbolic for me. My van is working, and I should trust that it will continue to work.

Right now I feel my most centered when I am creating plans for school. So, I'm glad that I have another work session with my teammate this week. We are rocking out lesson plans, quarter skills sheets to give to parents and year-long planning. We are hopeful that the work we are doing now will give us guidance through the year, keep us on track and ease our day by day, week by week lesson planning.

Feel free to leave your randomness in a comment below, or link back to Michelle. Can't wait to start my great week that I am about to have (positive thinking never hurts, right?)

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Saturday, July 13, 2013

Saturday Snapshots

I found a new linky party. It's not tough. It's fun. So I'm giving it a try.

Miss Nelson from Run! Miss Nelson's Got the Camera hosts this party, and we show our pictures. From the week, or earlier, and random stuff we didn't show before.

I have so many pictures on my phone and can't wait to show you some of them.

Waiting for Grandpa and Grandma to arrive from out of state.

Trying on a suit jacket. He's gonna have to wait four more years though, which makes him sad.

We took Grandpa and Grandma to the Kansas Cosmosphere. We loved looking at the rockets and reading the space travel information.

Movie time with my young 'un. We watched Mrs. Doubtfire last night and loved it.

Coffee and therapy with my bestie this afternoon.

I love what Miss Nelson says. "We do not remember days...we remember moments."

These are some of the moments I want to remember from this week.

Run Miss Nelsons got the Camera
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Saturday, July 6, 2013

ELA (English Language Arts)

Teaching children to read, comprehend, write, and spell is not an easy task.

Phonemic awareness. Alphabetic principle. Fluency with text. Vocabulary. Comprehension. (And Phonics.)

90 minute uninterrupted ELA block.

Common Core State Standards.


In an effort to keep all the elementary schools and teachers (in my district) on the same track, our ELA team has adopted The Four Blocks Literacy Model.

In March/April I read/skimmed through the overview book and liked the framework of the Four Blocks. Summer reading must include reading about each block.

Yesterday I read through the Writing Block book (at least the parts that gave me the overview, and specifically how to start the year).

What I liked most about reading is that this block fits right in with the writer's workshop unit I got last year. Deanna Jump's Writing Through the Year (units 1-4) hits it right on the head. 

Today I read through another block. Self-Selected Reading. I see so many connections with the Daily 5. In the way that independence is taught. How books are handled.

What I liked about today's reading is the direction that is given for the read-alouds at the beginning of SSR (not sustained silent reading). Depending on when I am in the school year (more read-aloud in the beginning, more student reading later on) I could read a portion of a chapter book, a non-fiction book, and a predictable book. And one day a week or two I could spend the time "blessing" a whole bag full of wonderful books in a variety of genres.

Both books gave wonderful information about conferencing with individual students (once the class has developed stamina to work independently for 12-15 minutes). So, 4-6 weeks will be spent teaching expectations and practicing, so that for the rest of the year I can meet with individuals or small groups. That is the hardest part for me. I want to get to it right away.

But I will remember the words of my sons' piano teacher... "Practice slowly in order to really learn the piece."

I am so excited to incorporate these ideas into my lesson plans, and to read the other two block books (as soon as I get them).
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Thursday, July 4, 2013

School Dreams

Most of my school dreams are more like nightmares.

Skimpy or non-existent lesson plans. Forgetting schedules. 

They start in August as I plan and get my classroom ready. 

I've had them every year I've been a teacher. I even had one in June (so much Mosaic reading was the instigator I think).

But this afternoon I took a lazy summer day nap and had a different sort of school dream. It was lovely. I want to go back.

I was in a school (one I do not recognize, but in the dream I was ok with it). It was before school organization and set up time. I was not alone in the school working. All of the teachers with me were my bloggy friends that I have never met in real life.

We worked a bit and then went to lunch together. It felt normal.

And then I woke up. Smiling.

That is a dream I want to have again. 
Perhaps the next dream will feature different bloggy friends.

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Wednesday, July 3, 2013

I Like to Win

Who doesn't?

In Minneapolis last week there was a drawing. All classroom teachers were automatically entered.

Four winners. Each got an iPad Mini.

Every time a name was drawn and read, I just KNEW it would be my name.

In the end, I was not a winner.

Boy, you should have heard my temper tantrum later that night. (But I'm glad you didn't!)

Any way, I tried to get over it. I mean, I am a grown up and all.

And then on Monday my blog friend Ms. C from

Just Wild About Teaching

wrote about her new Fun with Apples Unit. I took a look. It was awesome. And she was having a contest/giveaway. All I had to do was follow and leave a comment. Already a follower, and I love leaving comments. Win-win.

And tonight A BIG WIN! 36 folks entered. 3 won. And I was a winner.

Now I do not feel so bad about that iPad Mini.

Seriously, there are 106 pages of apple goodness. Go and check it out!

I cannot wait to add that to my September lesson plans. Thank you Ms. C!

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Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Time to Pause

I tried, I really did.

I got out my Mosaic of Thought book, my fancy pens and flashy notebook. Opened to chapter 6 and got ready to read about inferring.

After 2 pages I could tell that I wasn't feeling it. I was reading the words, but didn't care about them. I highlighted a few sentences, but only because I thought I should.

So, I have made a grown up decision. I am putting this book away for a while. I learned some great concepts and made some personal discoveries. But right now I cannot do this book justice.

I'm sure I will come back to it. My buddy got her book in the mail and is eager to read it. Perhaps talking about it with her will get me back in the spirit.

What will I do now?

1. Make a list of pinterest inspired ideas and get my craft on.

2. Write lesson plans for the first 20 days of school (I have two days complete so far).

3. Vacation at the end of the month to the state of my birth (Indiana).

4. Hot dog roast with my cousins that I don't see very often.

5. Watch HGTV and Bizarre Foods (I saw Andrew Zimmern in MN last Friday, he is fascinating).

It sure feels good to give myself permission to not finish a book and not feel guilty about it.

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Monday, July 1, 2013

July Currrently

Currently is one of my favorite linky parties to join. I wait eagerly for Farley to put it up. And this month she was a bit early. I was still in Minneapolis when I started reading my friends' Currently's. No problem, today is July 1, so here is my Currently...

Listening: It is not very common to have windows open on July 1 in Kansas. So it is pretty special to hear the breeze and birds. This whole week is supposed to be mid-80s. What a great week to come.

Loving: Last week I spent an incredible week learning about teaching agriculture across curriculum in classrooms at the National Ag in the Classroom conference. We laughed. We cried. We learned. We made memories. Perhaps I will share later this week about the real stuff (hotels, transportation, and poop).

Thinking: My family did a good job having the kitchen clean when I got home late Saturday night, but then there was Sunday. Time to clean up again, and make some plans for eating this week. I may even be able to use the oven.

Wanting: Nothing really. The stuff I thought of, I have no control over, so why want it? I'm letting it go.

Needing: I need to finish Mosaic of Thought, because I have some school books (given to me by our curriculum people) on Four Blocks to read.

Tip: It's ok to ask for help, bloggers love to share and help everyone do their best.

If you are new to Currently, remember that Farley asks you to comment (something nice/meaningful) on 3 blogs ahead and behind your link.

Hop on over to Farley's blog to read some, link some, comment some. Happy July all!

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