Friday, January 10, 2014

Five for Friday

This was the best week ever!! I danced in my kitchen, saying,  "I love my job!" at least three times this week! That said, it's hard to narrow it down to just five awesome things this week, but I think I have it!  Thank you Doodle Bugs Teaching for the linky.

Look at my little ninjas!  Aren't they stinkin' cute?  I tweaked an idea I got from Brandee of Creating Life Long Learners. She turned her students into ninjas for word work, so I thought, why not "passage attack ninjas"?  Let's face it.  Working on analyzing texts can be really boring, but it's a must do to create critical readers.  The kids and I tied a red ribbon around our heads, practiced our best ninja "Hiyas!", and went to the "dojo" to do some "passage attack" work.  We had more fun this week looking at short selections and poetry.  The vocabulary and "close reading" conversations that came out of our work was AMAZING. We also watched this video to get us excited- Passage Attack.  Too much fun!

This next picture is an example of product choice in my class this week.  The students needed to jog their memories of the history we have covered so far this year, so we created timelines.  The diversity in the products was great.  Here's a sample of three different types. Some of my students used Inspiration. Others created a powerpoint of the "big ideas" we've learned about so far.  A couple of students had a terrific time with just plain, old-fashioned paper and markers. This took the kids thirty minutes and gave me a very good idea of what has actually cemented in the "Texas History" brains.

Remember these? On Monday, when they came back from the break, my students were very slow moving, especially during transitions.  I remembered the chapter in Teach Like a Pirate about how transitions will kill you, so I needed a quick fix.  I pulled up a "Just Dance" brain break and BAM! The kids got their wiggles out, I was also re-energized (and out of breath), and at the end of the break, the students were seated, pencils in hand, ready to work again.  Never underestimate the power of the brain break!

She was in tears when she dashed into the bathroom, so I quickly followed her in.  One of my little lovelies was picked on in p.e. for being "non-athletic".  I acknowledged her feelings of disappointment, and then reminded her of all her strengths, listing all I could think of that was wonderful about her.  She brightened almost immediately and said, "Let's go learn!"  What?  She made my heart smile.  

The best part of my Friday was meeting with the "design team" at my school.  In our district, we constantly discuss levels of student engagement and designing student work that is worthy.  Today, we discussed how we could continue to spread the desire for teachers to design engaging work.  A couple of my teammates shared their passion about this and now, I'm ready to start a revolution-an engaging work revolution!  (We've been studying the Texas Revolution, so I got a bit carried away!)   Truly inspiring stuff!

Have a terrific weekend!


Saturday, January 4, 2014

January Currently

Hello folks! Happy New Year and all that jazz! I am so excited it's January.  Everything is a clean slate.

So here's my Currently!

Listening-Silence is really nice sometimes. Nuff said!

Loving-My kitchen space didn't seem very warm and cozy, so I added some pillows (okay seven) to my banquette and brought in some yellow and plants. It's much better.

Thinking- My fortune cookie said so, therefore, it must be true. I'm not exactly sure what that means, but it may have something to do with the blogging world.  I read a blog post the other day by a fella named Dave Mulder. He talked about blogging totally for one's personal growth.  I think I liked that idea very much, so I'll set my sets high and go for blogging with the intention of personal growth.

Wanting-If you don't know who those guys are, you really should check them out.  I love them! So smart!

Needing-I look forward to having a more peaceful January and making some weekend copies will help me do just that!

Favorite Traditions- We stayed in this New Year's Eve because of some sickies in my family.  I thought it would be sort of sad for my girls, so I cranked up the activities.  We had something every hour on the hour to do along with popping a balloon.  I even had the lady at the balloon shop put confetti in our final balloon, so we could have our own "ball drop".  The girls, the hubs, and I had so much fun!


Monday, December 2, 2013

December Currently

It's December 2nd and a little over 3 months since my last post. What happened you ask?  Work, children, training for a half marathon (which I finished-but suffered miserably from-i.e. cramping, dehydration, heat hives etc.), and self doubt.

Sure the first three kept me from blogging, but they were mostly just the excuses I used when the real culprit for lack of blogging came from self doubt.  It was easy to blog in the summer when I was all "ideas" and no reality.  Tonight, I toss away the excuses and come back, remembering why I started this in the first place-to connect with other fabulous educators, to stay motivated and inspired, and to "toot my own horn" every once and a while because we all need to be our own biggest fans!

So here's my Currently!

Listening-There's this great TED Talk by Brenee Brown, author of Daring Greatly a friend told me about a week or so ago.  When I listened to this talk, I realized how much in common I have with this lady-not the totally hilarious, very witty parts, but the parts about how much I think of vulnerability as a weakness and therefore, refuse to be vulnerable thereby making my life less abundant, refusing to take the risks needed for growth.

It's the same reason I didn't cry at my parents' funerals (yes both died within six weeks of one another). 

Weak people cry.  Weak people let others know they feel like a failure when they can't get that gifted student motivated or get the help another student needs to be successful.  Weak people struggle as mothers when their daughters have other ideas about school and life than straight A's on report cards.  Brenee Brown reminded me that weak people take risks, and I've realized I'd rather be weak and a risk taker than "strong" and closed off.

Loving-I have enjoyed these two books so much.  They have been a positive, uplifting, personality-changing influence in my life over the last month.  These two books have opened my mind to new possibilities.

Thinking- I work with really smart folks.  Today, at our faculty meeting, thirteen different groups had to present a chapter from Teach Like a Pirate by Dave Burgess. Let me just tell you there was some clever, very techy, very high energy stuff going on there, and I was inspired! I could feel the earth move under my feet!

Wanting-My essential oils from DoTerra to arrive.  It's a new all natural healthcare regime.  I've already tried the company's "tension blend", and I love it.  I use this every morning when I start to get anxious about the day, and I am immediately calmed down.  I'm so excited to have found something like this.  

Needing-to decorate for Christmas! Gasp!  I've been married for fourteen years, and every year I've had that tree decorated the Friday after Thanksgiving.  This year something happened...I decided to enjoy time with my girls, my husband, and friends instead of worrying about decorations.  Of course, my six year old wanted to decorate that tree tonight, but that will have to wait until tomorrow because tonight I'm blogging! :-)

Favorite Traditions- Some of my favorite traditions are baking cookies with my sisters and our children.   Every year, my sisters and I bake cookies together.  One of our all time favorite recipes is the chocolate crinkle cookie.  They are amazing!  We are totally corny while we bake cookies and of course, we play Christmas music.

We've been wearing jammies on Christmas morning to my sister's house for fourteen years now.  Of course, this means you have to have new jammies each year-a perk that comes with the tradition.

Lastly, one of my favorite traditions is the three present rule.  Each one of my children receive one book that I carefully select based off of their current interests, and two presents that they have asked for.  My husband and I will always carry this tradition because it makes our girls think about what they really want, and it keeps them remembering that Christmas isn't all about presents.

That's a rap..get it? December Currently, presents, a rap?  Being corny makes me happy and vulnerable, so there you have it.  May you all find December to be the month for taking risks!


Monday, August 19, 2013

Classroom Reveal

I missed all the cool link-ups for classroom reveals, so I'll have to just go this round on my own. 

This is a view of the front of my room. To the left is my job chart and to the right is our character education program where Ron Clark's Essential 55 meet the 8 Keys of Excellence. If you look really hard, you can see my Author's chair.  I just recently bought iron on letters and added the letters to my chair-it looks pretty fancy.

This is a view of the back of the room. See those table signs above the tables?  On one side it says its respective table number, but on the other side it has one of the four regions of Texas. I'm determined to teach this little guys even through classroom decor!

 Here is a collage of my turn in basket, supply station #1, library, and computer center. A little ribbon goes a long way, and by a little, I mean 8 rolls of ribbon.

 Here is cozy central.  I teach language arts/social studies, and I love watching my kiddos sprawl out all over the place as they read and write.  Rarely are the students in their assigned seats.  Behind the chairs is our library and the bins I use to keep a folder for each student.  This folder houses their writing pieces regardless of the stage in the process.  I also keep each student's behavior reflections in these folders.

These three pics are of some of the other bulletin boards in my room.  The top frame is the CAFE menu.  Notice there are no pre-printed strategy cards.  The students make these.  I attended the sisters' workshop in Houston this year, and they even visited my classroom!  Like all other anchor charts, when the students create the anchor chart,  it gives meaning to the students.  I have to fight my inner self because it isn't always super neat, but it's about the learning not the neatness.

The second frame is a row of anchor chart frames. I added clothespins to a frame created out of poster board and decorative tape.  I use the clothespins because right after we create the anchor chart together, we can just clip it right up.  Super fast!  I created labels for each one of the six areas I'll be creating anchor charts for all year: mentor sentences, featured reading skill, featured writing skill, social studies skill, Reading Talk Show (this could be a poem we are analyzing, a featured book, or a student's book review), and finally Word Collection.

The bottom frame is where I'll post student work.  It reads, "Our Work Soars."  There's a hidden message there.  I wanted to embed something in my room that reminded me to not only teach my students but to continually push them to their own personal best.  There are two places in my room where I have hot air balloons.  Those balloons remind me that learning should "reach high" and be an adventure!

 In this collage, I have my second supply center, my check-in system, reading/writing conference center, my work station, my tweet board to be used for exit/entrance slips, cleaning supplies, and our pack up list.  See, I did add the ribbon like I said I would. :-) See this post for explanation.

And finally, this is located near the door of my classroom.  My chains for behavior/reading incentive beads--thank you Miss Nelson, my birthday board, "no name" board, the filing cabinet I covered with laminated scrapbook paper (on top of the cabinet is a bathroom log, hand sanitizer for both the boys and the girls-they place it on their desk when they leave for the potty, a mystery walker container, and the "whisper bell"-see post), and finally on the door, there they are again, the hot air balloons, reminding us all that learning is magical!

So long!


Friday, August 9, 2013

Five for Friday

Five random things from my week, you say?  If you knew me personally, you'd know I can SO do RANDOM!! Random describes me well, very well.  So, here comes my randomness. Thank you Doodle Bugs Teaching for the linky.

I created "Fame Frames" this week. I got this idea from Teacher Tipster. Watch the video provided in this link for the rationale.

The second item is another great idea from Teacher Tipster called the Whisper Bell. Watch the video provided in this link for the rationale. I love this idea.  It has a certain mystery about it I think the kids will love and I love tapping that bell kinda like Si from Duck Dynasty (I threw that out there just to prove my point about how random I can be. If you'd like a good laugh, click here.)

This idea came from a teacher in a GT workshop I attended.  You know the child who can't stop bouncing his or her leg up and down?  This is a fidget that will work for them.  You take a noodle and cut it in half and then in half again.  The child can then roll the noodle under his/her feet.  It doesn't make any noise and satisfies the need for movement.

I made my little tweet board to be used "exit slip" style.  I kinda like it!

Loving this book!  I think it's a great text to use at the beginning of the year to check geography skills similar to the way my friend Charlotte over at Fabulous Fifth Grade fun does in this post.

Two more weeks a my new kiddos and I will be off and running using all this stuff!

Have a terrific weekend!


Thursday, August 1, 2013

August Currently

It's August 1st. No way!!! Summer is over for me which is bittersweet.  I'm looking forward to applying all that I've learned this summer, but I'm going to miss all the time I've spent with my children! Cute little buggers!

So here's my Currently!

Listening- There's a rustling happening under my desk. It's my pants rubbing against the chair.  I put my hand on top of my shaking leg, trying to get my leg to stop its bouncing.  It works while my hand stays on top of my leg, but as soon as I move my hand, there it goes again.  Off and shaking like a leaf!  Okay, so here's what I'm nervous about.  There are still twenty nine items on my to do list and some of them will take a very long time to complete!  I will be recruiting the help of my children soon. I'll pay/bribe them.  Is that wrong? :-)

Loving-I spent the day with eight team members (we have ten in total) designing a behavior plan.  I'm excited that everyone is on board and genuinely seems excited about what we've come up with.  We have our system in place and today we even started generating lessons! It was a great day!

Thinking- I really do need to tackle the curriculum items on my "to do" list.  I've waited because I wanted to plan with my team members, but I just can't wait any longer.  I'm one of those "I have to know specifically what I'm going to teach at least three weeks out" people.  Of course my plans change twenty-two million times, but hey, I know where I'm headed.  How far in advance do you plan?

Wanting-I really wish I had a time machine.  I've learned so much, but I get super impatient waiting for certain learning curves to take place for me.  You know it will come, but you also know you'll be a far better teacher when you just have that missing component figured out!!! Why do we have to wait for the synapses to connect?  Sometimes, I visualize them connecting in my brain, hoping that will speed the process.  GRRR!!

Needing-to participate in I Heart Recess's Monthly Goals. This year I want to "Flip" my classroom, apply whole brain teaching, integrate social studies seamlessly with reading and writing, make every lesson highly engaging, incorporate an effective morning meeting, use augmented reality and QR codes in my classroom, teach my students to blog, and help my team create a highly effective RTI plan.  I know, I know. Settle down HOT ROD!!! Rome wasn't built in a day, but there is a teacher out there somewhere who has already built the "Rome" I'm referring to above.  I've done the research, I've taken notes, but the application is just too much to tackle all at once!

B2 School Must Have's-Can you hear the frustration in my writing?  I have the cure.  It's called Retail Therapy, darlin', which brings me to my back to school must have's.  Each picture has a link to the source.  I shopped while blogging for the first two, and the last item allows me to focus on how I can make my students feel loved, which always puts me at ease. I feel much better. Ahhh.....

Friday, July 26, 2013

Favorite Pins Friday

I'm linking up with Cara from The First Grade Parade for Favorite Pins Friday. 

1. This first pin comes from Notes From the Patch. 
How many of us teachers have dingy, but functional milk crates floating around our room.  I just used this tutorial and made two crate covers, only I didn't sew the covers.  I used stitchery, and it worked pretty well!  The covers turned out really cute! I will post pics when the crates are in my classroom.

2. The second pin is a link to a website of a cool dude named Cybraryman. There are some really terrific ed tech tips here as well as some great back to school ideas.  I love this site!

3. The third pin is something I think is amazing! It's a link to instructions on how to make your own clip art from your very own artwork! Say what?? I didn't even know that was possible.  I don't know where I thought all that clip art came from. A magic fairy? A stork? The grocery store? You've got to check it's pretty simple sounding.

4. If you want to try to make your own clip art, you're going to need your own scanner.  (Kinda reminds me of If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, You're Going to Have to Give Him a Glass of Milk. I apologize, I had birthday cake today.  My big sister turned a very special age today! :-)) This pin takes you to a link that allows you to use your IPAD as a scanner.  Again, AMAZING!  I heard about this at an Edcamp I went to a couple of weeks ago and did some digging.

5. And finally, the fifth pin.  I spent the beginning of my week at GT training.  I was reminded of how important creativity is for our students and how sometimes we stifle their growth.  This pin speaks perfectly as to the way we should teach.

I've got a fun-filled weekend ahead-family luncheon tomorrow and taking my big girls to camp on Sunday.  Maybe I'll have time to do some more pinning on the long drive up to camp!  Have a terrific weekend, all!