Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Why Summer is Great

Sure, summer is great for all the "usual" reasons.

But this summer is also great because...

I've had so MANY opportunities to visit with other great teachers. Tonight was absolutely perfect (minus a few teachers that could not make it). We gathered at a house. Shared ideas, journeys, caught up, and uplifted each other in a way that only caring and thoughtful teachers can do for one another. 

We get it. Times are hard, but each teacher in that room is committed to "doing right" by every student. Money is tight, but each teacher is excited to start another year and rock what we know to do. Expectations are high, and each teacher is ready to support one another so that those expectations can be met.

What an amazing group of teachers.

I hope every teacher, every where can find a group of teachers who will lift them up, encourage them and be the friend they need.

If you are a teacher and need a friend, please reach out. I am only an email away.

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Saturday, July 25, 2015

My Mind is Full

Ever have so much on your mind you just need to make a list?

Here's my list:

1. How will I create a classroom environment that is engaging? 

2. Do I need more planners (like a desk sized one for school) or more pen (for the students, of course) or more books?

3. How will I finish reading The Book Whisperer if I leave it on the shelf and forget to open it?

4. The world is getting smaller. Now I can see and hear my favorite teacher people on Periscope. Time to buy a composition notebook for all the notes I take with the Scopers give out their information. 

5. How will I teach mindfulness if I don't practice? I'll do better.

The list could go on, but I'm off to a wedding.

What's on your mind this weekend?

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Sunday, July 19, 2015

My Friends of Vacation

Vacations are a little different for our family now.

Now that I have a blog and blog friends...

As we were planning our vacation, and I realized where my sister now lives (after a cross-country move), I was super excited to think I may have a chance to meet some of my bloggy besties.

We are back now. And Michelle @ Big Time Literacy and the the challenge is to write a review. Perfect, I will review my time with my 3 bloggy buddies.

1. Patty. She is nice. Creative. Funny. And we love to eat hot pretzels and chat. We have been friends for many years (is 3 many?). We talked about our year, children and grandchildren (hers, not mine), and then we started talking about technology. My time with her encouraged me to step up what I do, so I have contacted someone she knows to help me out. I will keep you posted about what I learn...

Go visit Patty @ 2nd in Line and tell her I sent you.

2. Julie. She is the bomb dot com. Again with the creative, and funny. We talked (well, actually she talked and I listened) about her time in Vegas at the I Teach 1st conference. Don't get me wrong. She is not a conversation hog. She talked, I listened and asked questions and it was fantastic! She also introduced me to Matt Gomez. She went to his session about inquiry based learning in Vegas and got us both excited. I will be creating a terrarium and getting it ready for school (see his post about terrariums). I'm also going to get a fish tank up and running for another living station in my room. PLUS, I am super excited to incorporate Imagination Tubs into our day. 

See what I mean? I was with her for about 1.5 hours (I think) and I got all that. Plus we caught up on our lives a bit. My sister was with us and she also thinks that Julie is amazing.

Go visit Julie @ First Grade Critter Cafe and tell her I sent you. 

3. Em. It's a trifecta! Em is creative, sweet, caring and thoughtful. She met me (and my family) for lunch. We caught up, talked shop (school) and shared about our lives. Now that I'm home, I cannot wait to check out some bloggers that she told me about.

Go visit Em @ Curious Firsties and tell her I sent you.

There are several more Bloggy Friends that I hope to visit on future family vacation. And my teacher friends that live near me--they strive to be better, share what they have learned and celebrate successes. These teachers, far and near, are My Teaching Tribe. I am a fortunate teacher.

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Wednesday, July 15, 2015

MIndfulness, A Journey

Old Mindfulness.

My mind is so full. I focus on everything, give it equal weight, pass judgements and feel stressed out.

New Mindfulness.

I can learn to observe my experience and not be consumed by it. I can learn to choose what I focus on and how to receive it and not react to it.

This is by no means a "How to be mindful." Please seek a professional (or a book). It is, however, the aha I have had in the last 24 hours that excites me and creates in me an eagerness to try mindfulness out and see where it may lead me and my students.

This is the book that stumbled into my arms at the end of May. I began it yesterday and was immediately SOLD!

I am a passionate person. Celebrating is glorious. But I also feel deeply sad when I feel judged (by me or others, real or not). This has created a pit in my stomach that gets bigger with every passing year I spend in education.

Yes, this is me. It is my experience. It is how I perceive it. 

My new journey begins today. With daily practice in focused attention. (I was surprised how quickly 5 minutes passed. Tomorrow may be 6 minutes.) With a loving heart that forgives ME when I mess up. (I can recognize when I mess up, and then I'm embarrassed, and have a very hard time forgiving me.) With patience and grace to be non-judgemental. 

I wonder what the next 24 hours will bring...
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Saturday, July 11, 2015

Summer PD Plans

Aren't you tired of hearing about my summer PD?

It's all I write about...


1. In June I attended a 2-day PBL training with Aaron from BIE (Buck Institute of Education). It was good, but I may need a refresher before school starts--that was a LONG time ago.

2. All the first grade teachers from my district (11 of us, maybe?) gathered and planned, mapped out and did some stuff with math for a day. (Also a long time ago.)

3. A college course to get credits for relicensure. I took a course called "The Dehumanization of Students in Education" from a somewhat local university. I enjoyed the class, and I am glad to report that my teaching buddies and school do not have a problem with this.

4. Book studies. I started with none, and ending up with 3. # One is finished (Teaching with Intention). I was following with Mr. Greg, but I just couldn't stop reading. # Two starts in August -- Reading Strategies, it looked great all over Instagram. And then this morning I opened it for the first time and I'm a little nervous! 300 strategies, oh my. Hopefully Literacy Loving Gals can help me with this. # Three is "The Book Whisperer." I started it, then put it down to concentrate on Teaching with Intention. I'll get back to it in a week or so.

4. Bloggy Buddies/Teaching Fanatics Meet ups. There have been several, and several more are scheduled. The meetings, whether small or big, really fill up my heart with ideas, encouragement and love. All of which are important for me for a great beginning (and the whole) school year. 

What do you do to recharge your teaching juices? Share them if you can, because I'm always looking for more ideas! :)

Wonder what Michelle and our buddies have cooking this summer...

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Friday, July 10, 2015


Love a week with so much family time.

Let me recap with 5 happenings and link with Doodle Bugs Teaching and Big Time Literacy.

1. My family hiked for 2ish hours. Some was difficult and I wheezed (because I am an out-of-shape old lady), but the view was AMAZING!!!

2. We also toured a band instrument factory. Yes, we saw artisans creating clarinets from blocks of wood, and trumpets from a sheet of brass. Now I will never complain about the price of a trumpet or trombone, it takes many steps and people to make an instrument. I can't find the exact link to an online tour, but this is close. We read ahead that cameras were forbidden on the tour, so I left mine in the van. But, lo and behold, we get started and the tour guide says, "take lots of pictures!" Wish I had my camera. It was very cool.

3. Good food and drinks.

4. Bowling.

5. A chocolate factory tour...

And a bonus photo... I'm not in Las Vegas learning from SDE about being a better teacher. But I did have a great time with Patty. She is just the sweetest and such an encouragement to me (both online and in person). 

Now, be sure to check out more Five for Fridays (at Doodle Bugs Teaching) and some favorite lessons ( at Big Time Literacy).

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Thursday, July 9, 2015

Intentional Teaching

I love reading to learn. Almost more than reading for pleasure.

Summer brings countless opportunities to read to learn (aka, teacher PD on the side). I could have read The Daily Five (Second Edition), or Next Steps in Guided Reading or Guided Math and joined in the online book studies. I have read them all before (but the first edition of The Daily Five) and a refresher could have been nice, however, I was in the mood for something new. And there is ALWAYS something new, right?

I stumbled upon three books that looked like a great fit for me. And I am so happy that I have completed one of them. Yay me!!! 

Debbie Miller is quite the straight talker in Teaching with Intention. She said what I should be doing. Gave examples of how she has done it. And then read my mind--"This is HARD, how am I going to do this? Maybe I'll just go back to the old way..." And responded by giving me the scaffolds/supports so that I then thought, "Maybe I can do this."

As I prepare for the coming year, I am convicted that I MUST do a better job of knowing the road ahead. It is not good enough to look at the teacher's manual and be ready to go. I must know the path, know the students and make smarter plans.

So glad that Miller told real stories and gave sound advise (like how to create a page for conferring) because that is what I need.

And about the time. Use it wisely. Got to give time to the students to read and let them share in the responsibility of learning. 

Ok. Time to get cracking on the "mapping the route"...

See ya over at Michelle's place, she is talking about the book Daring Greatly, and I'm not sure what the rest are talking about. Let's go find out!!!

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Wednesday, July 8, 2015

What I'm Loving

I seem to be making a lot of lists this summer.

Lists of fun stuff. Memories. Things to do. People to see.

Here's a list of what I love today... Without pictures, because I just don't have time today. 

1. Cool weather.

2. Bike rides.

3. Music factory tour.

4. Books.

5. Friends who share and share and share. Thanks Mrs. Jones!

I'm linking this tiny, but lovely, list to Michelle @ Big Time Literacy and her party.

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Monday, July 6, 2015

Fun Summer Plans

Summer. The time teachers relax, and be present with their families. Sometimes that includes scheduled plans, other times are spontaneous.

My plans:

A. Read ALL of the professional books that I don't have time to read between August and May. (Yah, probably not all of them, but at least a dent.)

B. Visit family. Good food, miniature golf, and card games.

C. Bike rides, long and short.

D. MLB game in Cincinnati.

E. Meet up with as many teachers in real life as possible.

What is making your summer spectacular?

Thanks, Michelle! Hop over and live vicariously through what others are doing...

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Sunday, July 5, 2015

Remember When...

The prompt is "Remember When."

Guess I can take that wherever I want...

Remember when we used an atlas to travel? I was a 4-Star navigator. Now I navigate with Google Maps. And I'm still a 4-Star navigator.

Remember when I went for a week with the church youth group? No phones, so no communication with the parentals, and we were all ok with it. Not so much now.

Remember when it was hot 20 years ago, but I got married outside anyway? I do.

Remember when it was a scandal that we went to the mall on a Sunday to do some shopping? We were relieved that we didn't see anyone we knew. Now we shop 24/7 at home or at a store.

Remember when we talked on the phone and said "Only 10 hours until bedtime." Now they go to bed on their own and that decade has slipped by in a blink.

Remember when I was obsessed with Major League Baseball? Oh well, I still am.

What are you remembering today?

See ya over at Michelle's place.

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Saturday, July 4, 2015

Saturday Skinny

What's the skinny? What's the gossip?

Truth...I have no idea.

Usually I am the last to know things. Unless it's happening to my husband or BFF/TBFF. 

Today I will be joining the world of Jacqueline (brown girl dreaming) between fits of laundry and cleaning. I would much rather stay on the chair and read, but, you know...

My mom's family will be getting together (I'm too far away to be there) to have a birthday party for my cousin. She's the only one who gets a birthday party. Well, maybe it's not really a birthday party but rather a family gathering that just happens to be on her birthday. But it happens every year. And I know she's getting a cake, my mom is taking one. Happy Birthday Erin!!

And tomorrow my older son comes back to us. He has been spreading his wings at a youth church convention: learning stuff, meeting people, making plans for his future. 

Not much to tell, right? You probably have better gossip than me...I'm heading over to Michelle's place and see what the skinny really is...

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Friday, July 3, 2015

Social Media and Me

How DID we do it years ago without the internet and connections that we have now?

I remember.

My first teaching job started in 1994. (Some of my favorite teachers were not born yet, or were in primary school! GASP!) In order to get ideas (and we were always looking for some) I had to subscribe to magazines (The Mailbox), or go a teacher store (can't even remember the name). The store was small, but a good start. There really wasn't collaboration for me then. I did in my room, they did in their rooms, and we got along.

Now, in 2015, I have blog friends, Instagram friends, and friends IRL. I'm not a hashtagger, but I can link. 

I started reading blogs in 2010. They led me to places and ideas I never dreamed about. One dream was to enter a giveaway. But you had to have a blog. So in 2012 I started a blog. And won that first giveaway I ever entered.

It's been fun to go back and read early posts. My how I've changed as a writer. Originally my blog was about sharing what was going on in my room. Now it is for that and a place for me to reflect. The friends I have made are so caring and sharing. They give ideas and creations, and just want the best for me (and probably everyone). I call my blog friends by their given names and my husband knows who I am talking about and maybe even what state they are in. Family trips may be planned around who I can visit (Toledo, Cincinnati, Shipshewana) or who I hope to visit (Chicago, Kansas City, Oklahoma City). 

My blog is a source of encouragement and the best form of collaboration and I cannot imagine leaving it for very long.

Instagram started for me in 2013, and I use it for both school and family photo sharing. I thought about having a private account, but that was just too much work for me.

I've used Remind in the past, but not every family signed up, so it felt wrong to send out some information when not everyone was going to get it. 

My school has a FB page and I can post there, but what if I had a separate class page? That is more that I have to research this summer.

MIchelle @ Big Time Literacy has me intrigued about using Twitter more. (I have an account, but rarely get on, I just don't "get" it.) 

So, in review...

1. Social media is great. For collaboration and inspiration. 

2. There is always more that could be done, shared, created. Use what works for you. When you feel brave, try something new.

Thanks to Michelle for an inspiring month of blogging. Head over her way and see how she and other friends use social media (or write with a different prompt--no rules, except to WRITE).

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Thursday, July 2, 2015

Summer Time

I'm on Summer Time.

Summer Time means that I can write a post or not and it's no big deal. It means that if I am a week late to the party, oh well, I can show up anyway.

Summer Time means I get to sleep late, watch tv, and this summer I added reading for pleasure.

Summer Time means I get to share my thoughts on Teaching with Intention and not be worried that I have missed the link up. 

Summer Time means that I will share about chapters 4, 5, and 6 and be ok with it. 

Reflection #1: I have to do a better job of "thinking out loud." I do not like "canned" thinking from basals, they don't sound like me. But I HAVE to think out loud. That is the only way some of the kids will learn to do what I am trying to teach them. It is an effective teaching strategy.  I love that Debbie Miller has given me guidance and support and encouragement to make "thinking out loud" an authentic method of teaching.

Reflection #2: Every time I teach a concept (like use chunks to read unknown words, or reread to clarify), I want to use engaging content (like an awesome science or social studies unit). Luckily for me Debbie Miller spent a whole chapter on how she plans (more extensive in the beginning) and it looks like I could do it.

Reflection #3: Each time I teach a lesson, I need to know "what's the focus, and why is it important?" Knowing where I'm going will make it easier to create a map to get there.

Now that I know where I'm going, time for me to set the path...


So my friend, Michelle @ Big Time Literacy, is hosting a blogging challenge this July. I completed it last July, and it was a great time of writing and reading and making new friends. Let's see what this challenge brings.

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Wednesday, July 1, 2015

It's Currently July

It's a monthly gathering of fabulous teachers who share what they are "currently" doing. 

I'm currently...

Farley is the hostess of the gathering. Hop on over and read her currently, and the few hundred others that have also linked up.

And if you have a good idea for the shoes, please, let me know. Thanks!

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