Saturday, June 27, 2015

3-2-1 Teaching Bio with the Weekend Warriors

Didn't Mom say--sharing is good.

Well, something like that.

Sharing about ourselves makes us seem more real. Alive. The same and unique.

As I share about myself, I learn about me and you get to learn about me as well.. Win, Win.

The Lovely Weekend Warriors are hosting. Read about me, then hop over and read about even more teachers. Maybe you'll make a new friend, or be inspired by someone (pretty sure I'll make a friend).

And here are the prompts:

I could put the answers on a cute slide like the cool teachers, but I don't have time for that! I could put in photos, no time for that either! Time is of the essence, I'm on vacation and cannot let a minute slip by. I need to cut up strawberries and a watermelon, read a book (the Husband's Secret) and catch up on blog reading (I haven't read blogs since last Monday--TOO LONG).

The Teacher Me:

1. I adore organized, coordinated, and simple classrooms. My goal is to not have clutter (that is a continuous battle), have a room that is kid-friendly and appealing to grown ups as well, and have every space be functional.

2. After college, I taught in a special ed room for 9 years. Then I had babies, and they were so cute and adorable that I quit my job and stayed home with them for 6 years. To get back into teaching (which I promised my husband I would not do) I subbed, then took a job in January in a special ed classroom. The next year I jumped into general education by teaching a 2nd/3rd combo class. (Yikes, I learned a lot!) And now, having completed 3 years in first grade, I feel like I am home. I love the way our room feels. I love the growth in students (social and academic). Firsties are magnificent!

3. Pens, pretty pens, erasable pens and sturdy pens. I love them all. Each type of pen has a purpose and reason for taking space in my pen cup. Once a teacher was in my room, he needed a pen, reached and got one from My Cup and used it. Mrs. Jones saw this happen and held her breath, wondering what might happen. Would I flip out and accost the teacher? Would I hold my breath? What would I do? The teacher is still alive, but does not use my pens. (And, I hide my pens when I know I am having a sub!!)

The Regular Me:

1. My hobby is teaching. I am not a scrapbooker, exercise junkie, or great housekeeper. I love teaching, researching teaching and planning teaching. It wears me out and fills me up at the same time. I wonder if I will find a hobby some day that is not teaching...

2. The people who live with me and my teaching obsession include my husband (for 20 years, how can that be? We are so young...), a high school son who is discovering his gifts and which activities fill his soul, and a middle school son who cares deeply about many issues and makes us laugh daily. It's a happy home.

An item on my bucket list:

Not much time is spent thinking about bucket lists, but this just came to me... I would love to meet my bloggy friends, see their schools, spend time with them. This means I will be traveling to Hawaii, and Maine, and all states in between. I even have some friends in Australia...

Now you can start your blog hop... Just start HERE and you will be fine. 

Happy weekend my fabulous friends!!!
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Thursday, June 18, 2015

Getting Ready for First Grade Readers

Books, books, and more books. 

I love books.

I've seen myself as a reader for as long as I can remember. Usually having a book to read. Or escape into the world of the book. I read Harry Potter, Year 7 in two days. (The baby's diaper did get changed, but I had little time for anything else.)

Several years ago I heard of The Book Whisperer, but never read it, because it seemed a little old for my first graders. But my friend this summer is posting about her book-a-day. I was intrigued and she gently nudged me to the book. 

So many interesting ideas and suggestions and steps to take. This book is geared toward kids that can read. I have a few that come to first grade reading, but have many more developing. And even a few that are already discouraged that they are not readers. 

What a tragedy. That a six-year-old already identifies himself/herself as not a reader.

That is going to change next year (I hope!).

My steps:
1. Amass copious amounts of books for beginning and developing readers that are meaningful and engaging.
2. Read all the kid books that I have this summer as a refresher. I have so many picture books, but they are not really for beginning/developing readers. Find books that are appropriate.
3. Get excited about genre and possible ways of guiding the kids to read A LOT (both in minutes and in books).
4. Be in touch with other primary teachers and pick their brains.

Here is where I will start...

And I will end (I hope) with students who read all the time!

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Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Summer Teacher PD

I love clean, organized spaces. I value them.

In those spaces I can breathe.

Just as summer was starting, I noticed that Mr. Greg was guiding a book study on Teaching with Intention by Debbie Miller. Liked the title, liked the author, and Mr. Greg approves, so time for me to get on board this train!

Some is easy to read, some makes me think.

Today I am over joyed! Because chapter 3 is all about The Environment of the classroom. I love that she suggests getting rid of the "stuff" that has been there since before you. (That is what I've been doing for three years, and I think I'm almost done.)

When we clean out the physical clutter, this can also help us clean out mental clutter. I can definitely feel that in my classroom. Packing up this year was so easy. Part of that was because my two bestie were in a meeting and could not interrupt me (and I could not take breaks interrupting them), and part of that was because I just have so much less stuff.

I do want to have an inviting space that will encourage my students and their families to breathe and learn, but I do not have to have it "Pinterest Ready" by the first day.

The classroom is an organic space. It can move and grow as those of us in it move and grow. 

My goal for next year--let the room show evidence of student growth and learning. 

The evidence of my growth and learning can be in a very cute binder, with dividers and labels.

This chapter is being hosted by Surfin' Through SecondThe Learning Chambers, and Savvy, Savvy, Simple Teaching. I wonder what their thoughts are... Heading that way now...

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Monday, June 15, 2015

Monday Made It

Several summers ago I was BIG into the Monday Made It scene. Not so much last summer.

But, here I am, ready to share some stuff I made. 

I made dinner! This is quite something, because I'd rather eat than cook. But, I roasted a chicken in the crockpot all day (while I was at yet another school meeting), and transformed it when I got home into chicken salad. The result--it was good. Not, "OH SOOO GOOD", but "thanks for making dinner, I was hungry and this filled me up."

Now I have my own set of alphabet jewels. My plan is to have them on my file cabinet for the kids to use, but maybe I will just keep them and give them away as presents (like to my friends). Decisions, decisions...

Yesterday I found a very helpful vlog on how to create multiple inboxes in an email account. I was loving her colors and labels. So I just had to do it! Follow this link to Laugh Eat Learn and you, too, could have a happy email inbox.

I showed it at my meeting today and found my two people who have already done this. I think they should be my friends.

Now that you have peeked into my kitchen and my "made its," jump on over to Tara's place @ 4th Grade Frolics and get more ideas of how you can spend your many hours in the next 8 weeks. Time for me to head that way to see what will be on my list for next Monday.

And... What are you creating, crafting, making? I want MORE ideas!!!

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Friday, June 12, 2015

Friday's Rock!!

It's Friday, so I'm going to Kacey's party. You can go to, if you want, everyone is invited! You can hang out on the wall (read) or get in the middle of it (post your own blog).

Which ever you choose, it's fun, so let's go!!!

My randomness...

1. I went shopping with my boys this afternoon. Needed some summer staples (shorts and swimming suit for the boys). But also found our way to the bookstore. I started reading about mindfulness because of an IG post yesterday (my research began here) and found a book today that I cannot wait to read. 

I know, another professional book. This makes 3 books officially and I have 3 more that I want to give a go at. Good thing I have 8 weeks left of summer!!

2. I happened to get a couple of books that will fit my classroom theme (camping) and be engaging to get the kids wanting to read (The Book Whisperer).

3. Doesn't it happen? Go shopping, and end up eating out... We went to our current favorite... Chipotle. No pictures. I was too busy shoving food into my mouth.

4. We have had crazy weather this summer. So much rain, two days of heat this week. But I do try to keep my toes relatively pretty, just in case it is sandal weather. Time to update...

5. Watching my current favorite baseball team (KC Royals) play my very first favorite baseball team (St. Louis Cardinals). It's a little weird to be cheering for both teams. I confuse myself!!!

How did you spend your Friday??

Now, it's time to hang out with my virtual friends at the Party!!

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Thursday, June 11, 2015

Pants, Books, and Stools

It's Thursday and I'm wearing Saturday pants.

Seriously, that's what they are called. I bought them from Old Navy a year and a half ago. Their name makes me smile, and they are so comfy! They are perfect for wearing while I read, watch tv, you name it.

Last week I mentioned a book I was reading. It is The Book Whisperer by Donalyn Miller. Amazing read! And today I finished chapter 2. But I'm also reading Teaching with Intention by Debbie Miller (finished chapter 2 yesterday). And I spent two days early this week getting training in Project Based Learning by Aaron from The Buck Institute for Education

So, the books, conversations and studying have mushed up in my brain and I have lots of synthesizing to do.

Here is what I know today:

1. To be a learner, a student has to be a problem solver and a believer in his abilities.

2. To have a classroom that is "just right" for learning, I must create that environment (books everywhere, high expectations for reading, authentic and good literature for kids to read for enjoyment and to practice skills taught, authentic reasons for reading--and not just to become a better reader).

3. Authentic literature for first grade looks different than at fifth grade. I must reach out to my primary teacher friends and begin to create a library that is organized and covers the entire classroom. 


And my selfish plug... Time is running out on my Donor's Choose project for Hokki Stools. Please pass the word, all donations are tax deductible. Just follow the link to my project page


I leave you with this question...

Do you believe that reading is worth learning how to do well? Why?
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Wednesday, June 10, 2015

What I'm Loving Wednesday

Summer, school, lazy days.

Three great things and I love them all.

My friend, Michelle @ Big Time Literacy has a fun party all about love. And I love spreading love.

1. Dinner with my family and mother-in-law. Celebrating her birthday. Yum.

2. A good, close look at the first three weeks of first grade in ELA. 

Which leads to a plan. Cannot wait to show this to my partner in first and adjust and get going!

3. Summer baseball with my son on a hot day.

What are you loving today?

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Sunday, June 7, 2015

Girls Just Wanna Have Fun!

What an amazing way to start June...

A road trip with two friends.

A KC Royals baseball game that came with an infinity scarf.

A stop at Lakeshore and IKEA.

Great stories and memories along the way.

Cannot wait to do it again next summer!!

And remember Ag Camp from last week? It ended on Friday with a farmer's market where everyone wore their tie dyed shirts that they made. Aren't they amazing??

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Thursday, June 4, 2015

What Am I Reading?

Summer is the best season for reading.

And this summer I have 3 professional books going and 1 fiction book.

Ag camp today was finishing up the pig pictures (no photos) and then scooping poop in the calf pen. No pictures of that either, because I was actually working! Mrs. Jones went with me later to check and she said I did a good job! YES! Mostly I supervised the kids, but that meant that I could not snap photos. 

And since I have no photos I thought I'd share a bit of my aha from this afternoon's reading.

Here are some points that I put into my special notebook...

1. I am the best reader and writer in my room and I have to be a source of knowledge for the kids, not be on a power trip or a control freak.

2. Reading is a journey. I'm going to teach how to read (read and comprehend), and what to do if the reader gets lost (doesn't know what to do).

3. I'm not going to teach "books." I'm going to teach comprehension strategies, literary elements, and phonics patterns. The kids will practice by reading books.

I'm super excited about this book.

Have you guessed what book it is? Comment below the title of the book I'm reading, and your email address, and I will reward some correct answers.

Also, what book are you reading? Maybe I need to get a few more...

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Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Ag Camp, Day 3

Today the paint came out.

Yesterday I led the kids through a pig directed drawing. The idea came from Art Projects for Kids.  I love that site for ideas. After the drawing of the pig the kids had an opportunity to add to the background. Some added a horizon line, or birds and wheat. It was super fun to see their individual styles come out.

And today, their styles came out even more. I did not specify what color to use, or where to use it. I had about 10 colors available and let them go. Fun!

I've been super fortunate to have another teacher helping me with my art rotation at Ag Camp. She gives the kids tips on painting and helps keep everyone working.

She has even cleaned up each day as I am dismissing the kids. Wonderful, right?

As I was thanking her today for the clean up she did, she said--"wouldn't it be great to have an aide that cleans up while you teach and work with kids?" Uuuummmm, YES!!

So, now I am on the look out for a full-time volunteer to help me with the little stuff, so I can focus on the other stuff.  Any takers? Just let me know...

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Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Ag Camp, Day 2 and June Currently

Well, Ag Camp was awesome and we did stuff, but I have nothing to show for it today.

That never happens during the school year, right?

So, that makes it easy for me to link up with Farley and attend her fabulous linky party.

One of the best things about summer is sitting on the couch and dreaming about how to renovate my house. HGTV helps a lot. I asked my husband the other day for $40,000 to rehab the kitchen. He laughed at me. So, I will keep dreaming.

Been on summer for 9 days and I'm settling in great. 

I've had plenty of time to peruse Pinterest and plan my classroom makeover...

Hopefully my Donor's Choose Project for Hokki Stools will be funded soon. Know anyone who wants to donate? Send them my way, please!!

It is summer vacation, but the weather has been cool and rainy. I want warm and sunny. 

Love summer for the trips and time to dream.

Want to meet some new friends? Head over to Farley's blog and say hello. :)

What are you loving this summer?

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Monday, June 1, 2015

Ag Camp, Day 1

Isn't it great to do "school" when the rules change, the atmosphere is looser, and the FUN stuff comes out?

For a number of years (I'm not sure exactly how many) my school sponsors an Ag Camp. It is usually a week or so after school has ended, and the activities are as varied as the grown ups that run it.

This is a smallish year, but mighty in the fun factor. Here are our five groups for this week-long camp:
1. Archery (in the gym, with our very qualified PE teacher and principal)
2. Cooking (in the kitchen, with our head and sous chef, today they made dog biscuits and strawberry jam)
3. Garden/painting (out back, with our teacher/gardener and art teacher, today they worked the garden--perhaps harvesting, I'm not sure--and painting fence posts)
4. More gardening (out front, with a couple of teachers that researched garden beds and know stuff, today they started getting the beds ready for planting)
5. Art (in my room, with me who is trying to find her artistic self and another teacher, today we made oil pastel drawings of a wheat field)

Fun, right?

Each group lasted about 20ish minutes, then they rotated. At some point, we gave the kids some grapes and a cheese stick snack. And I had the BEST conversation with a couple of boys about The Avengers, Age of Ultron during our snack time. So glad to be able to talk with knowledge about that movie. And maybe I tacked on a couple of "she's cool" points... But we never really got in to the girly stuff...

Each year the response we get is, "It is so much FUN."

To be at school, where the school rules still apply, but it's relaxed, and FUN.

The materials and teacher stipends are paid for by the camper's fees, and our local Farm Bureau even offers scholarships. Cool, right?

We will work all week to beautify our school, harvest produce, make baked goods and paintings and then sell it all on Friday at our "Farmer's Market" to cover more costs and have a little left over to do more ag-related projects next school year. 

Here's a sneak peak at today's artwork...

Come back tomorrow to see what we create with our time...

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