Wednesday, July 30, 2014


Day 30 and The Challenge is ending strong!!

What is on my "someday" list?

Someday I want to travel to Europe with my husband.

Someday I want to be good at playing the guitar.

Someday I want see the Grand Canyon.

Someday I want to have a professional goal.

Do you have a "someday" list? What's on it??

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Tuesday, July 29, 2014

I'm Excited, and I'm Just Gonna Share It

Today I am reflecting on what I am most excited for in the upcoming school year (instead of my best day).

As I've mentioned before, my district adopted Wonders for ELA instruction. I am excited about it, because:
1. Someone has done the work to make a sequence, find stories that appropriate for that time in the year, and prepared some lessons for me to follow/enhance/make my own.
2. I will have a whole class set of books to do the whole class lesson. Each student will have a book to look at.
3. There will be way more "stuff" to teach than I will have time for. Now, instead of hunting for things to teach, I will spend my time weeding out what I want to keep and what to slide over.

So, I think the Wonders materials is top on my list, but there are a few more things I am excited about.

A. Second year of using Engage NY math lessons. I really liked them last year, and look forward to using it again this year.

B. Another year of teaching/collaborating with the wonderful Mrs. Jones.

C. Professional growth through the "evaluation" process. I must look at this positively.

D. Becoming a "Together Teacher." 

What are you excited about for the upcoming year? I would love to hear and celebrate with you!
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Monday, July 28, 2014

That F Word

Day 28 and Big Time Literacy Blogging Challenge is cruising to the end.

The F word.


Yah, sure I should be fit, but who has time for that?

Last April I started making time. At 4:45 am.

Jillian Michaels and I had about 30 minutes together. That continued until the end of June.

Now Leslie Sansone and I are walking together. It's been nice. 

I walk with Leslie and watch something DVRed or on Netflix at the same time. It just gets boring to only walk.

I really do hope to continue some early morning exercise when school starts, and maybe next April I will add eating better to my F word plan.

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Thursday, July 24, 2014

A Child Grows Up

Last night I looked out the window and saw my man-child 
walking away from our house. 
He was with a friend that he met this summer
during school-related fun runs.

He looked so confident.

In August he will enter high school as a freshman. It helps me to know that he has
already made friends with kids that are not in his grade. 

This is the boy who used to be shy (and can still be), but now he knows how
to interact appropriately with people of all ages without my assistance.

My heart swells.

Is this was parenting an older child is??
     --Wondering at where the time has gone.
     --Marveling at the person he is becoming.
     --Feeling joy that I have the opportunity to know this person.

Even as much as he is growing up, I still love
watching him play with his brother and dad. That keeps us both young.

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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

My Career

What is my favorite thing about my career?

Who can choose just one? Going with my top ten.

10. Summer vacation

9. Christmas vacation

8. Spring Break

7. Hugs from my first graders (present and past)

6. Creating reading comprehension units

5. Using colorful pens

4. A fancy planner

3. Friends (near and far) that share ideas, and their creations

2. Cards and letters written to me by my students

1. The first and last days of the school year

I love the first day of school for all the hopes and dreams and plans that I have. The promise of new things learned.

I love the last day of school for the memories and reflections and all things learned. 

What is your favorite thing about your career?

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Tuesday, July 22, 2014

My College Years

Share a story from my college years.

Well, let's see if I can remember a story from that long ago. It has been 20 years!! Where did that time go? Wedding. Two children. Four jobs for me. One job for my husband. Two houses.

Back to a story...

A funny story--I was an RA my sophomore year.  One activity that we had was a sleep over at our mod parent's house. We got bored with the movie, so we went back to the dorm, grabbed some toilet paper and TPed the boys dorm. I was the leader. I led my girls down this path. I felt very guilty about it. Now I feel better because I have confessed.

A scary story--as a junior I needed to drive 30 miles to another town to take some classes. My car was a bit old (and this was before car phones) and stranded me twice on the Interstate. Since I HAD to get to class, I accepted a ride from strangers on both occasions. They dropped me off at my class and I got a ride back with another person from my town. I do not recommend accepting a ride from strangers.

A sentimental story--I student taught in a first grade class. I loved those kids and pretended that I was the only teacher. On the last day, they made me a wonderful book (a shared reading and writing lesson with a BIG purpose). I cried a lot.

I may not remember all the details, but I do remember how I felt: guilty, scared and loved. 

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Saturday, July 19, 2014

Celebrations in My Room

Day Nineteen and the Big Time Blogging Challenge

What holiday do I enjoy most celebrating with my students?

These past three years have been challenging, rewarding and full of celebrations. Each year the celebrations were different. Only one was consistent.


I love celebrating birthdays! My birthday, the people in my family, my friends, my students.

Growing old is not a right. It is a privilege that not everyone gets and needs to be celebrated.

And at least once a year I want to feel like the sun really does revolve around me (and maybe some other grown ups and kids do also), so having a birthday celebration is a MUST.

Here's what we did last year (it has evolved a bit):

**We all joined at the front of the class, with the birthday child sitting in the middle on a chair.

**In our best singing voices we sing a sweet birthday song called On the Day You Were Born by Red Grammer, from the album Hello World! The song seriously brings tears to my eyes.

**The kids head to their seats and work on birthday cards. I use this fun printable from Christina Bainbridge. Birthday Book While they work I play the whole Hello World! album. They love singing along and they sound so lovely! 

**The birthday child passes out the treats.

**After every one has been served, the birthday kid has the first bite, and then we can all enjoy the treat.

**When all the birthday cards are written and colored, I put them into a keepsake book for the birthday child to take home. (A really fun cover comes with the PDF from Mrs. Bainbridge.)

That's it! A fun 1/2 hour. Now, I'm off to read what other celebrations my friends have written about.

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Friday, July 18, 2014

My Must-Haves

Day Eighteen and another prompt from Michelle with the Big Time Blogging Challenge. What are my teaching must-haves that I buy before the school year begins?

I love this! School supplies make me so happy. If I had a different salary, I would buy A LOT of school supplies. For me at home and for at school. 

What do I love: binders, page protectors, pens, markers, paper, laminating sheets. There's more, but that is enough for now. 

What do I make sure to have before school?

1. New pens. Last summer I learned about Frixion pens (great for writing in my plan book) and Papermate Profile pens (such a smooth writing instrument, great for everyday writing).

2. Specially decorated composition notebook that holds notes from book studies or fancy meetings (not faculty meetings), plans, ideas, thoughts, etc. I make sure to put contact paper over it to make it really nice. 

3. A plan book. Last summer I got an Erin Condren Teacher Planner and LOVED it. What I used (besides the weekly planning boxes) were the checklists at the back (great for getting ready for report cards and recording who brought back their reading homework), graph paper to put on seating charts, the year-at-a-glance planning pages. Even Mrs. Jones got one. We loved it so much, that we got another one for this coming year. I figure, I could buy a cute one from TpT, but then I have to print it (in color) and have it bound, so this is cost (and time) effective to me.

What teacher necessities do you make sure are at the ready when school begins? What am I leaving out?

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Thursday, July 17, 2014

Classroom Management and Tuesday

Day Seventeen and The Big Time Blogging Challenge. Today is Classroom Management Strategy.

I have two things to say about classroom management: 1. create a safe, and loving environment; 2. build relationships with ALL of the students and continue throughout the entire year.

Since I don't have much to say about classroom management, I am going to share some photos from Tuesday.

My friends and I agreed that we would go out to eat sometime this summer and maybe shop afterward. Usually that means a 30 mile drive to Wichita.

But we ended up road tripping all the way to Oklahoma City (180 miles south). Wonder why? Because there was a cool restaurant that we wanted to try out.

It is called Kitchen no. 324 and is a farm to plate concept.

I drove. Even downtown. And parked downtown. Not a big deal to some, but to me it was.

I really wanted to take photos in the restaurant, but it was too fancy and the people around us were so professional. I kind of felt like an imposter. What was a first grade teacher from rural Kansas doing in this place???

Two professional ladies with a company credit card on one side and two art guys on the other.

My salmon was delicious, and I tried brussel sprouts for the first time. Yummy.

Know what a cronut is? We got this restaurant's version. A Joenut. 

Apparently Mrs. Jones thought it was funny how I was eating this Joenut.

Next stop... A Lakeshore store! I wasn't that impressed when we walked in (and I might have said so), but by the time I had gone 1/4 through the store, I had changed my tune.

My focus was to find a pocket chart 100 chart. I have big plans for number sense and this is a necessary item. Found it. And a few other very important items.

4 posters,  an alphabet line, a new calendar set, 2 magna doodle type "toys," and a abacus (or Rekenrek).

Next time we go back we think we will stay overnight. And hopefully I can meet some of my Oklahoma bloggy friends. 

If you want more classroom management ideas, head over to Michelle's blog, Big Time Literacy and see what my friends have to say.

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Wednesday, July 16, 2014

More Favorites

Day 16 of the Big Time Literacy Blogging Challenge. The topic today is favorite movies or tv shows.

This can change as quickly as the weather. So, currently...

Favorite movie from childhood (and I still love it) is The Sound of Music. I could play any part. I can sing all the songs. My sister, mom and watched it a lot. And then when DVDs came out--now we can watch it any time we want.

Favorite movies recently are Safe Haven, Breaking Dawn and Thor 2.

Not quite sure what these movies say about me, but I'm sure someone could figure that out.

As for tv. I will just list what I currently like to watch/DVR: Scandal (binged on this series in June, so much that I felt like I was living it), HGTV (shows that are home related--renovation or buying), and  Friends.

There are a few more, but I'm not sure I want to divulge that information here. Maybe if we meet in person...

So, Thanks again Michelle for hosting this challenge. See you all tomorrow!!

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Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Memorable Students

Day Fifteen and The Month Long Blogging Challenge hosted by Michelle. 

Do I have a memorable student? Share a story (or two).

Uum. Yes. I have memorable students from every year I have taught.

My very first year (sped teacher)--it started to rain in the afternoon, I needed to go shut my car windows, a first grader said, "If you are going, I'm going with you." I think he was surprised I let him. We sat in my car for a minute. It was nice.

Two years ago, a first grader wore his cowboy boots nearly every day. He had a goofy grin. He reminded me of Woody from Toy Story.

This past year... A high-energy boy (seriously, which first graders are not?) stole my heart. He needed his shoes tied a lot. At the beginning of the year, I was tying his shoe, he reached out, and ruffled my hair, just like you would a dog. At first I was shocked--but then I laughed! We had many more memorable moments, and quite a few selfies. If I could keep that ball of energy for one more year I would, but he is moving on. I will miss him a lot.

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Monday, July 14, 2014

More Books

Day Fourteen and the Big Time Literacy Blogging Challenge. What are my favorite picture books or novels to teach with?

My first thought to this prompt was--I'm not doing it, I don't teach with books.

But I guess I do, even if it's not always an intentional lesson.

So, let me list some of the books I like to read aloud... (not in order of use or in order of favorites, this is the order that popped into my head, and I'm sure I will leave some out.)

1. The Shubert books by Becky Bailey -- Check them out at the Conscious Discipline website.

2. The Doll People

3. The Recess Queen, Spaghetti in a Hot Dog Bun, Chrysanthemum

4. The Boxcar Children

5. Roxie and the Hooligans

I'll bet that if I was at school, I'd have a much longer list, because my books are at school and I'm relying on my brain (and it is on vacation right now).

Hop on over to Big Time Literacy and see what my friends have written for today..

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Sunday, July 13, 2014


Day Thirteen and here we go with another challenge from Big Time Literacy. A past travel experience...

A couple of years ago I told my husband that I really wanted to take a trip to Florida with our sons and be theme park tourists.

For their Christmas present in 2012 we gave that present. To be opened during spring break 2013.

We were gone Saturday to Saturday and saw Epcot, Disney's Hollywood Studios, Universal Islands of Adventure, Disney World Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, Universal Studios and a Magic vs. Thunder NBA game. It was fantastic!

The boys decided they like most roller coasters, especially The Hulk. We learned what simulated coasters are (not as much fun, but some were ok). We had a great time on the Scare Floor at Magic Kingdom. I dragged them on It's a Small World. Walking and eating out. And one day just chillin' by the motel pool.

I really liked Hogwarts Castle and Hogsmeade. 

We talk of another trip. Washington D.C. some day...

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Saturday, July 12, 2014

Saturday Snapshots (7-12-14)

Day Twelve of the Big Time Blogging Challenge. How about a link up with Miss Nelson? Time for some Saturday Snapshots.

Pictures from around my yard...

Pieces of a wood fence that was dismantled by my sons.

I've been watching these flowers come and go since May. Love seeing them out my window.

The picnic table that my dad built as a wedding present for us. It could use a little love right now.

This trough used to hold flowers at my husband's grandma's house.

This is The Vehicle. My mom bought it when we were on a vacation with her in Iowa. My boys were 3 and not even 1. It has seen a lot of use and now sits in the bushes with trees and bushes coming up around it. But we can't get rid of it.

And from my kitchen table:

I've been putting this book off, because sometimes I just don't want to read PD books. However, this morning I was in the mood to check it out and WOW! I read the prologue, introduction and part of chapter 1 and all I can say is "WOW!" These are some of the questions that I now have to answer:

1. What are my beliefs about student learning?
2. Do my beliefs align with my practices?
3. Do my beliefs and practices put children first?

I love this stuff--reflecting. Now to find some friends who are also reflecting so that we can talk about this book!!

If you have some Saturday Snapshots you can link up with Miss Nelson. 

Run Miss Nelsons got the Camera

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