Sunday, July 9, 2017


I'm a naturally curious person.

Some days my family answers my questions willingly, and some days they do not. They tolerate my curiosity, but when I get that look or frustrated sound, I know it is time to put my questions away.

How does your trumpet work?

What is 32 times 2 plus 18 plus 14?

Why did Wonder Woman do that?

What was the Pacific Ocean like? Who were you with? How cold was it?

I'm not trying to annoy anyone, just looking for answers to questions that pop into my head. I don't really remember my students asking many questions. (Let's hope it's because I'm too far away from school and I can't remember any more.) 

5 year olds should be asking LOTS of questions. 

What can I do to promote questions in my classroom?

How can I structure lessons so that kids are asking more questions?

How will I support the students in finding the answers to their questions?

It seems to me that the more questions I ask, the more questions I have...

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Saturday, July 8, 2017

My Neck of the Woods

Here's what's happening in my neck of the woods...

An 8 mile morning bike ride to help me feel strong.

Blogs and books to grow my brain.

My sewing machine to practice a hobby.

A nap to remind myself that it is summer (and I stayed up way too late last night).

Water to hydrate my brain.

An oreo, just because.

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Friday, July 7, 2017

Worried No More

I have many friends (some don't know it... blogland...), and several really good friends. 

One friend has worried about my obsession dedication to my teaching job. She is concerned that when I retire (in 20 YEARS) I will have nothing left, have a heart attack and ...

Thankfully, I have proven myself this summer to her. She has seen my renewed obsession dedication to my sewing projects and yesterday let me know that she is no longer concerned for my future well-being.

This makes me smile, laugh, and be thankful for friends who care for me.

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Thursday, July 6, 2017

2016-2017 Year End Reflection

Reflection: noun serious thought or consideration.

One of my favorite things to do is reflect. It is in those moments that ideas spring to life, a bridge to a challenge is built, and feelings of accomplishment fill me.

I reflected with my principal on the last work day. What a humbling experience. I do it by myself a lot, and with my BTPSM and teaching partners, but not often with my supervisor.

It was easy to talk about good things in ELA, and so many ways I want to improve math for next year, but to whittle it down to a manageable task? She really needed to guide me in that. 

That document is somewhere in Google Doc land, to be found at some later date. I wonder how close it will match to what I write here...

What went well:
1. Intense, systematic instruction (also multi-sensory) in letters (names and sounds)
2. Strong, whole-class phonemic awareness instruction
3. Recess--we had great recesses, some were messy (sand, water, broken bone), some were mediating arguments, all were full of smiles and fun

What do I want to improve:
1. Small group time? I did a LOT of whole group instruction, and not a lot of small group instruction, but when we studied the data, the kids made huge gains. So, change what worked and hope it is even a bigger gain or leave it?
2. Better plan for kid-play. They are 5 years old. Find ways to incorporate more play into our day.
3. Collaborate with the science teacher. We have already been talking and I am excited for what we might create together, and what the kids might learn from us integrating the science into our reading, writing and math. 

There is more. But focusing on one (or three) thing(s) is enough, and maybe I can have a big feeling of accomplishment next summer.

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Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Technology for Teachers

I took 2 classes this summer. The first I already wrote about, here is the second.

Technology is good. Technology is changing. Is there ever enough technology?

I've heard a little about tech. SAMR. And by a little, I mean, A Little. Just enough that I felt bad for not incorporating tech more. I can problem solve a few things with my laptop and SmartBoard. I can create some SmartBoard lessons. 

For me, tech has been a substitute or a way to do the lesson/worksheet with tech. That is not what I want. I want the tech to teach the lesson, be the creative outlet for the kids. Not a cute game that is basically a worksheet on the iPad. 

And the question I come back to is: How do I do this for 5 and 6 year olds? They already play games on their parents phones/tablets. How do I use tech in ways that is different from what they do away from school?

I'm not sure I really got those answers, but I do have more resources to go to. 

Early on I got onto Atomic Learning. I had to go through my university and use passwords and stuff, so I'm not sure how long I will have this resource. But it was amazing. 

I watched tutorials, and got lost in the website, and watched more tutorials. Some I had to watch, some I chose to watch. One tutorial completely changed my view on Powerpoint presentations. I gave a presentation last February (snoozeville) and am giving a version of is in August. I totally changed the visual of the presentation and am so excited to try it out.

Also, I've been a little (maybe a lot) more observant in the few presentations I've been in lately, and wonder if I could point the presenter toward Atomic Learning and let that presentation WOW the audience.

Here's what I learned about presentations:

1. Plan the presentation in Word first
2. In the powerpoint, use a photo instead of a title
3. Use text sparingly (don't put everything I'm going to say on the slide! the audience won't be able to read it anyway--it's too small), 24 point minimum, 48 point and larger is prefered
4. Tell the story:
     a. Define the problem
     b. Solve the problem
     c. What's next, or how to get started
5. Every added element should support the Big Idea
6. If you use a video, use it at the beginning or around breaks
7. At the end, give a handout that enhances the presentation

I was telling my younger son about what I learned and he just gave me a "duh" look. Apparently he has learned this already from one of his teachers. Great job Mrs. McGuire!

Now, to change some of my alphabet lessons into wowsville...

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Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Gratitude Lately

Thankful for a summer break full of activities that fill my soul.

Thankful for my sewing machine and awesome projects.

Thankful for friends and time to see them.

Thankful for technology and being in touch with those who live far away.

Thankful for ice cream and new ice cream shops.

What are you thankful for?

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Monday, July 3, 2017

Teacher Leadership

Taking classes (real classes, not workshops) this summer has stretched me. It's been good and rewarding.

The first class was (yep, it's over already) "Teacher Leadership."

Looking back at the class I see how it moved smoothly from topic to topic. But some of the time I was thinking HUH? I wonder if that was due to the fact that I could only see my next step, and not the whole road that was in front of me.

Reading articles about leadership characteristics was fascinating. Discovering the skills that I have, the skills I want to cultivate, and the parts that just are not going to change gave me lots to think about.

Want to read some about leadership?

My final grade has not been posted, but I'm hoping for a good one. (We celebrated a potential good grade last night with ice cream.)

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Sunday, July 2, 2017


This is totally how I feel most summers. But this summer is different.

This summer I have not read teacher books (except the one I skimmed the week after school was out, that doesn't count any more). Have not spent hours and hours, days and days reading blogs, taking notes, planning like a crazy woman. 

The last time I really took the summer off was 2010, and that was before I went back into teaching.

I've filled my time with sewing, coffee dates with my friends, grad school classes (very different form of learning from previous summers), and general hanging around my family with no agenda other than to be near each other.

I hear some teachers talking about how quickly the summer is going. I can honestly say that I do not feel the same. It has been a glorious mix of days. And we still have ALL (except one day) of July left, and some of August. So much time!

Teacher friends--hope your summer is as wonderful as mine.

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Saturday, July 1, 2017

I'm Sorry

I said those words to my husband last night.

"I'm sorry for how I've behaved the past 7 weeks, and for how I most likely will act in the next 11 months."

Starting a Master of Education in Teaching and Learning program sounded great. It still does. But it also is reminding me of how I am as a student.

It's a roller coaster event!

When things are going well, assignments are clicking along, everything makes sense, then the sun is shining. 

When I hit a technological snag, or have difficulty with an assignment, then the storm is fierce.

Perhaps I do not need to change this roller coaster, but let my family freely ride it with me (they kinda already are). 

My hope is that my sons can watch me struggle. Watch me win. Watch me question. Watch me celebrate. And in this roller coaster event, they can learn about the resilience we all have inside of us. The power and drive to tackle every challenge and figure out a way to the other side. 

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