Monday, December 31, 2012

Currently...January is here!

Glad that Farley posted her monthly Currently early.  Otherwise, I don't think I would have time to get around to it.  My schedule is CRAZY busy over the next few weeks.  If you haven't participated with Farley of O'Boy Fourth Grade, make it a part of your New Year.

I'm currently....

Listening to the humming of our little heater.  We live in a house that was built in the 40s or 50s, so there is NO insulation.  It is set up for oil heat, but this girl is allergic to oil heat.  I'm talking about can't breathe, headaches, heart palpitations, etc.  Terrible!  So, for the last few years we have survived on electric heaters in each room and lots of blankets.  This year, my loving husband bought a ceramic heater that warms the ENTIRE house.  That hum is a sweet sound.

Loving my new Frye boots and Mountain Hardware jacket.  The hubs listened well this year.  I've had the Frye boots on my list for about 4 years now.  When we purchased them, a Christmas miracle occurred because I got them for under 200 bucks.  Cheney also got me a red Mountain Hardware synthetic down jacket that I LOVE.  It will be accompanying me on my runs because it is thin.  

Thinking about that stack of papers that have remained in my bag the entire break.  I haven't looked at my bag since I packed it up to go home for break.  I have ONE day left, so I guess I'll be pulling out the stacks tomorrow.  

Wanting just a few more days.  I can't believe my district is having us go back on the 2nd.  I won't be recovered from NYE yet!!  My nieces don't go back until Monday.  I'm JEALOUS!

Needing to be serious about my health and fitness this year.  I've had a difficult time balancing work and me for the last 2 years.  I have to do it for myself this year.  I headed to Fleet Feet this morning for a new pair of running shoes and some gear to get ready.  

One Little Word  BALANCE! I've got to do better.  My girl Amanda at Teaching Maddeness is planning on calling me out if I don't get out of the building before 6:00.  It may take a serious intervention.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

A New Year, A New Goal

I turned the computer off for an entire week and now I'm overwhelmed with everything that I have missed.  There are linky parties coming out of my ears.  However, in order to "balance" my life at this moment, I've chosen to ONLY participate in ONE linky party.  My friend Amanda from Teaching Maddeness gets that honor.  She is hosting a New Year's Resolution linky this year.

I'm a goal setter, but I have to be honest, I'm usually not a goal keeper.  I've had the same resolutions for the last 5 years, and I haven't met a single one of them. For shame! Those goals have been to eat better, workout more, etc.

Personal Goals
1.  Get back to running - I've never been super consistent, but since moving to a new school 2 years ago, I've completely slacked in the fitness department.  I work way too long and exercise way too less.  My school sits right on the Swamp Rabbit Trail, so theoretically, it should be easy to hit the pavement.  My goal is just to run 3-5 miles 3 times a week.  Should be doable.  I would love to be able to run the entire 5K distance.  I've completed 4 5K races, but I've had to walk in portions.

2.  Eat out less - Because my husband and I are extremely busy, it is so much easier to stop and get supper on the go.  I have to stop that immediately.  I will never be able to out exercise the food choices I make, so I need to be smarter.  Plan to utilize my crockpot more and my debit card less :)  If you have any ideas for simple meals, shoot them my way.

1.  Blogging - I've been hit or miss with sharing on my blog, but this year, I want to focus on sharing student work here.  I have LOADS of pictures that show what happens in my classroom, I just need to get them posted.

2.  Leave at a decent hour - I am guilty of staying until after 6:00 and then working ALL evening at home. I'm trying to focus on balance this year and I hope that I can leave earlier and put the computer away.  This was my goal at the beginning of the year with Amanda's first linky.  I was completely unsuccessful and NO ONE called me out other than my husband.  But, I have a student teacher this semester, so I'm hoping that I can work smarter.

Join Amanda for her New Year's Linky!
Teaching Maddeness

Monday, December 17, 2012

Thoughts on Tragedy

It's been awhile since I've been here.  Labor Day to be exact.  Throughout my life I've used words to express my feelings in times of victory, disappointment, surprise, and the mundane every day life.  But, I often feel more compelled to write when tragedy strikes.  In honor of the recent tragedy in Newton, Connecticut, my teacher blog will be silent for the next few days.  But, I feel like I could not go any longer without putting pen to paper, or fingerstrokes to keys.

I've taught for 13 years now and my job has become increasingly more difficult each year.  The number of tasks that the typical teacher completes in any given day is astounding. From receipting field trip money, recording attendence, cleaning up vomit, calling the nurse, making sure a child has clean clothes, lunch money in a student account, one on one instruction, reteaching simple concepts until you can't teach them any longer, drying the tears of a child who has been physically hurt on the playground, or wrapping your arms around the ones who have been emotionally hurt by those they love.

There are many days where the thought of going to the bathroom doesn't even occur until after school and I sit for the very first time of the day.  Once my children arrive in the morning, it is almost like we have entered a time warp and the outside world disappears.  Our classroom becomes our world. 

Each year, I am BLESSED with a new crop in my classroom.  With that comes a new crop of parents, a new crop of personalities, challenges, victories, and love.   I haven't been blessed with children of my own, but I have been chosen to care for those of others.

Each morning, parents drop their children off at school thinking they are safe and will remain that way until those little faces return to the warmth of the car or the arms of a parent/grandparent/caretaker. Those children are given to me to nurture, care for, love, and educate.  A pretty tall order.

There are days where life isn't easy in our classroom.  Days where we need to a new start.  And then there are days that are beautiful symphonies of learning. 

I spend countless hours planning for learning in my classroom, but more than that, I spend countless hours investing in the future of my students.  I invest in their lives by attending sporting events, sharing their interests, writing them notes - pouring positivity into their little minds in the hopes that when life doesn't work out the way that they had planned in their future, they will remember that there was someone else in their lives who believed in them and LOVED them as if they were her own.

The teachers and staff of Sandy Hook Elementary did the very same thing.

When I stop to think of the innocent children that were hurt yesterday, I cannot help but to think of the 22 beautiful children that I see every day.  The 312 children that I have taught over the last 13 years.  The smiles, the dreams, the excitement of life, the opportunities that are waiting for each of them.  That was all stolen from those at Sandy Hook Elementary. 

I've tried to wrap my mind around what happened in Newton, but it is impossible.  I've experienced lockdown drills and mock shootings to "train" me for a reality that I hope I never face.  I hope I'm never faced with a situation where I am unable to protect the children in my care.  I hope I never have to find hiding places or calm students who are very aware of the nightmarish reality that is occurring. 

But, I would.  If it meant sacrificing my life for those of my students, there would be no decision to make.  I would make that decision for the children who have parents who love me.  I would make it for the children whose parents disagree with me.  I would make it for those children who misbehave and disrespect and love me.  I would make that decision for each child I've had the opportunity to teach this year and every year before - those in my classroom or outside of it.

There were heroes in yesterday's tragedy.  Those heroes were teachers.  The teachers who read Christmas stories to keep their students calm.  The teachers who held each child's hand.  The teachers who muffled the cries of those huddled in their midst.  The teachers who hid students and then lost their own lives. 

When you enter your child's school this week, remember those heroes in each classroom.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

A Day of Silence

In honor and memory of those who were lost in yesterday's tragic events at Sandy Hook Elementary.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

12 in 12

I've been MIA for quite some time.  Partially because life all of a sudden got insanely busy for me.  My inbox has been full for an entire month.  I have to delete every day because I can't send or receive emails any longer.  My after school schedule is booked all the way to February.  Christmas is coming and I don't have a tree, lights, or the first Christmas present purchased.

I have a catch-up post scheduled for this week to show all of the learning that has taken place in my classroom.

But, I discovered the 12 in 12 linky with Hadar and Kristen.  It was something that I could get on board with easily.  So, here it is.

12. Favorite movie you've watched:  It would have to be Lincoln hands down.  Even though I liked Hunger Games, Lincoln was spot on, and something I've looked forward to for quite some time.

11. Favorite TV Series - Easily, Duck Dynasty.  I know, ridiculous.  However, they are my people.  I am from Louisiana and I just love it.  It's also one of the only clean, family centered shows left on television.  Si is my favorite.  I know I've met Jase in college at some point.

10. Favorite Restaurant -If I went with where we eat most often, it would easily be Cracker Barrel.  But if I had to choose my favorite, it would be The Wreck in Mount Pleasant, SC.  I love local fare and this one is completely off the tourist path.  Favorite seafood of all time.  I'm from Louisiana so that says a lot.

9. Favorite New Thing You've Tried - Blogging - I've just started this little space this year and although I've blogged in my personal life, I've really enjoyed the professional side of it.  I've loved meeting everyone online and expanding my network as well.

8. Favorite Gift You've Received - Last Christmas my husband surprised me with a hot little red convertible!  Life without kids does have its benefits.  It was completely unexpected.  I LOVE it!

7. Favorite Thing You've Pinned: It just makes me smile.  This looks exactly like my baby who is currently curled up in my lap.

6. Favorite Blogpost: I have a lot of favorites, but this one is from my personal blog Scripted by Shasta

5. Favorite accomplishment: Happened this year - a month ago to be exact.  I was honored, humbled, surprised, overwhelmed to receive the Milken Educator Award for the state of South Carolina.  The award is a complete surprise to any recipient. There was a cover-up ceremony and everything.  I'm still reeling in the aftermath of it and it hasn't really hit me yet.

4. Favorite picture

3. Favorite memory:  See #5

2. Goal for 2013:  To balance my life better.  I spend way to much time doing school things and not enough doing family or me things.

1.  Word: Balance!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

December Currently

It's that time of the month again.  I look forward to the first of each month thanks to Farley at Oh Boy 4th Grade and her Currently link up.
Listening:  to New Girl - I don't even know what it is about, but it is what the cool kids watch.  Love Zooey Deschenal and her quirky self.  One day I aspire to be like her.

Loving:  Here in the Upstate, the weather has been amazing.  Cold in the morning, but by recess time, it is clear and perfect.  Hasn't really helped with my weather unit, but I love it for convertible weather.

Thinking:  I have a meeting with our state superintendent in a couple of weeks and want to make sure I have something nice to wear.  However, I don't really like suits.  But, it would be a good investment, right?  Maybe a pair of new shoes would make me feel better.

Wanting:  My Christmas list is small this year, but it has a big punch - a pair of Frye Harness boots and a new North Face down jacket.  

Needing:  Another entire weekend to do everything that I haven't even taken out of the car.  I hate that I wait until Sunday, but cannot bring myself to work on Friday or Saturday.  Did you see that spacing mistake up there?  Bothers the heck out of me, but I don't want to take the time to fix it.  That's what kind of day it is in the house.

RAK:  Most amazing day today bringing my students to perform RAKs in the community.  It was the most rewarding experience ever.  We went to a busy shopping center and hit the sidewalks.  My students brought roses to hand out to ladies that were shopping at Talbots and the Loft.  We placed candy canes on car doors, held doors for people, and picked up Legos in Barnes and Noble.  My favorite part was when we hid $1 bills in children's books and stashed crayons on bookshelves.

I was amazed at my kiddos.  However, some people were not receptive and just downright rude.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

A Thankful Teacher

With Thanksgiving right around the corner, it is very difficult to approach this holiday and not consider what I am thankful for within the 4 walls of my classroom.

I am thankful for...

1.  The opportunity to work with administrators that let me experiment, try, and fail in order to find what is best.

2.  The natural curiosity that lives within all students that help to make my job easier and exciting.

3.  The creativity that teaching allows on a daily basis.

4.  The loving support of parents and other teachers.  There is NO WAY that I could do this job without you.

5.  The lightbulb moments that happen every day.

6.  The privilege to help mold young minds into creative thinkers that break out of the box and blow me away.

7.  The small moments that I get to glimpse the future of my students. They may not be able to see the greatness yet, but I get small snapshots every now and then.

8.  The relationships with families that continue years after students leave my room.

9.  The students who have challenged my thinking, questioned my solutions, and pushed me to be better.

10.  The students who have fought me tooth and nail, but in the end have made amazing things happen in their lives and the lives of others.

11.  The opportunity to do what I love every single day.

It's not always easy to be a teacher, and it may not always be fun, but it is truly the best decision I've made in my life.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Back in Time...

This past week was a CRAZY busy week in my classroom.  Monday brought the Mock Election, Tuesday was a day off, and Wednesday was full blown Colonial Day.  Needless to say, by the end of the week, I was flat out EXHAUSTED.

For Colonial Day, we decided as a team that instead of doing it all ourselves, we would hire it out.  Best decision of my life!  If you are in South Carolina, North Carolina, or Georgia, check out Captain Sadler's Living History Camp.  This outfit brings EVERYTHING needed for a successful day.  Teachers get to choose the activities that take place and the group provides all of the materials.

Unfortunately, it rained on our day, so we had to forego the game of Rounders and dipping candles for activities that could be completed inside.

 Students played with traditional Colonial Games - Graces, 9 pins, Hoops and Sticks, Jacob's Ladder, Ball and Cup, Bilbo Catcher, Tops, and Yo-Yos.

 Captain Sadler also provided costumes for the kids to dress up in for photographs.  Most students chose the Native American costumes.

 We made Native American necklaces after we bartered for beads.

And we had Colonial School! Kids thought it was extremely fun to be on the Dunce Stool.  The day was fabulous, but exhausting!  We enjoyed everything about it.

*The opinions expressed in this post are my own.  Captain Sadler's Living History Camp did not ask me to write this.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Get out and vote!

We had our mock election today. Students were so excited to cast their vote at the polls. We spent most of our time discussing the privilege of voting and the importance of it. I think all of my kids understood how important it was. I knew the lesson hit the mark when one kiddo said, "We want you to get out of that bed, put on your clothes, even if you have to put on pajamas and fuzzy slippers, and go to the voting polls and vote." That was my favorite quote of the day.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

November Currently...

     Farley at Oh Boy 4th Grade has her November Currently posted.  I look forward to it each month.  I especially enjoy reading everyone else's responses.  I cannot believe that it is November already!  This year is flying by.  We might as well pull out the Christmas decor and get busy shopping.  This month is CRAZY busy for me.  This week we have our school wide election of which I am in charge, Tuesday Election Day (don't forget to vote) so there is no school, Wednesday Colonial Day, Awards Day is in there too.  Then the next week is a field trip, and we slide into Thanksgiving holidays.  Like I said, crazy busy!
     Well, anyway, here is my November Currently....

Listening - I'm a Days of Our Lives girl. Have been since I was in high school.  I don't think I even watch the show completely, but the noise is comforting to me.  I watched it with my great grandmother Addie when I was in college and we would talk all about Bo and Hope.  I feel sure she would be able to catch up quickly if she was alive today.  The show hasn't changed much since then.

Loving - my lesson plans for the week.  This summer I spent a week at Colonial Williamsburg and we have hit that topic in social studies.  I can't wait to teach this week.  We have focused on Jamestown and are moving into colonial America.  This week has Colonial Day (costumes, yes!), indentured servitude simulations, election day, and so much more.  I cannot wait!

Wanting:  I'm always wanting new shoes, but I've been in the market for a new pair of flats for over a year now.  I can't find the right pair.  Boots - finally found a pair of Frye boots that fit my "athletic" calves. (According to the boot guy, I have dancer's calves.  I laughed out loud at that one).  

Needing:  I am so overbooked in every aspect of my life.  I have to find some balance.  My goal for the new year was to leave the school before 5:00 every day.  It has happened twice - and only because I had meetings off campus.  I'm opening the school at 6:30 and closing it down at 7:00.  The past two weeks have been insane with after school meetings.  I don't think I've seen my husband in the day light in the last month.  

Music:  I've bought specific songs on Itunes for my classroom to help kids with transition times this year.  My kiddos are VERY musical!  Their favorite, and mine too, is the theme song from The Muppet Show.  It is exactly one minute long and we use it ALL day!  The other one we have used this week is the Ron Clark Academy's song, "You Can Vote However You Like."  We have learned it, danced it, and performed it all week!

Link up with Farley at Oh Boy 4th Grade and check out everyone's November Currently!

Monday, October 29, 2012

A Week of Firsts....

Since presenting at the SC EdTech 2012 Conference on Friday, I've just been stepping out of my box all over the place!  I have FINALLY uploaded product to my Teachers Pay Teachers store.  It's not a biggie, but it's something that I do with my kiddos every year at the end of the quarter. 

My classroom is focused on REFLECTION, REFLECTION, REFLECTION.  We reflect in ALL areas - socially, academically, manners, etc.  Students write learning reflections after difficult lessons, we reflect on weekly grades by setting goals and making action plans to move us forward.  So, it is only natural that at the end of the quarter I require my students to reflect on their performance over the entire 9 weeks.

I started doing this consistently after completing my National Board Certification in 2010.  I saw so much value in it myself, that I couldn't help but carry it over to my students.  Now, my students really are held accountable to their performance in more ways than a standardized test.

If you want to check out this product and show me some love click the image below.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Flipped Over Screencasting

Today I had the opportunity to share at the South Carolina EdTech Conference.  What a fabulous experience!  This was my FIRST experience presenting by myself in such a large forum.  I naively thought - small classrooms, a few people.  Well, when I found my room, I think there was room for 200 people in the session.  I immediately became sick to my stomach.  My stomach hit the floor and I became dizzy as I sat and watched the previous session.  The entire time I was terrified - my speakers were too small, will the tech work, can I fake an injury and leave early without anyone knowing, can I pay someone to do it for me.  The session before me was amazing and I felt stupid for even signing up to present.  I was going through that whole poor pitiful me routine that I've become pretty good at over the years.

Well, cue 9:45 - my session time.  I looked out among the faces and found a few familiar ones who came to hear what I had to say - me a little classroom teacher who doesn't know diddly about iOs operating systems, or app writing.  Me who was just sharing her story about a group of kiddos and a teacher stepping into unknown waters. 

Things went smoothly, there were lots of positive comments, great questions, and smiling faces.  I had a blast and felt completely validated about the things that I do every day in my classroom.

So, here is the presentation that I used.  I know there are some things that need more explaining.  So, if you have questions, let me know.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

First Steps Make Me Nervous...

There's this little shop that I like to frequent, maybe you've heard of it...TeachersPayTeachers.

I have a shop.  It has nothing in it.  I've been a member for a few years, but I haven't taken the time to fill my shop with the amazing cuteness that everyone else has.

I'm not the cutsey teacher that the top sellers are.  I don't create things with lots of fun graphics and borders.  My students create their own graphic organizers on notebook paper or white paper.  My copies are limited, so I don't spend my time creating stuff that I can't copy.

My Promethean flipcharts take hours to build, but I haven't uploaded any of them.  What kind of people would buy them?  Would I get negative feedback because I've embedded videos that require an account to places?

How do I determine the price for what I do?  How do you put a price on the time that you spend developing something for your kids?

I'm a nervous nellie when it comes to putting something out there for others.  I'm nervous because I don't want someone to tell me it's crap.

I have things in the works, but I haven't submitted yet.  They are sitting in my TPT file.  Waiting.  Waiting for the right moment.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

The Perfect Motivation

There are moments in every teacher's career that are easily remembered.  There are moments that are just as easily forgotten, and then there are moments that regardless of what you do, they will never, ever come close to being matched because they were that phenomenal.

I wrote earlier this week about a dream coming true for me.  Ron Clark was coming to town and I was going to be his personal host.  I have spent the last few days in an euphoric cloud of dreamland trying to figure out what I would say - would I stumble on my words, make a fool out of myself, etc.  I spent hours picking out the right outfit that looked perfectly professional, but not to over the top.  It was like preparing for prom or a first date, really.

For years I've read everything I could get my hands on about Ron Clark, watched every YouTube video, taped every episode of a talk show that came on, just to get a glimpse into his classroom.

Last night, I didn't sleep.  AT ALL!  I was hyped up like it was Christmas Eve and I was waiting for Santa to arrive.  The last time I couldn't sleep like this was the night before I got married.  I woke up every hour thinking about today. 

At 5:00, I woke up and brewed a pot of coffee and then began to get ready.  I realized that it was still before 6:00 and there was no way that I could leave that early.  If I had, I'm sure I'd have been sitting in a dark parking lot.  At 6:20, I decided that if I arrived at 7:00, that would be perfect.  Then I could help where needed. 

I pulled into the parking lot right at 7, and headed into the door.  It was empty, but bustling with energy.  We hung signs, set out books, found microphones, arranged the lobby.  All in an effort to provide other teachers with a phenomenal experience.

As the lobby began to fill up, my heart began to race.  At 8:15 on the nose, Ron arrived and we headed to the green room.  There were no normal introductions with Ron, he greeted everyone with a hug and a huge smile.  As we sat in the green room waiting for the news to arrive, we talked about the greatest challenges as teachers.  It was hard to narrow things down to one, but I responded with time - time to teach all of the standards to all the kids, time to take care of myself and my family, time to do everything that is expected and more. He was fantastic.  He asked about my kids, what my favorite subject to teach was, what I enjoy in my spare time.  I thought it would be me asking all of the questions, but he genuinely wanted to get to know me. 

If you have never had the experience of seeing Ron speak, you really are missing out on great entertainment.  He interacted with the audience, climbed on the back of pews, danced, rapped his way through algebra, taught us how to have a good handshake, and more.

The most profound thought out of the entire day was this, ...we have to stop teaching to the middle and to the kids who struggle.  Teach to the highest kid in the room.  Engage them, make them work for it.  If your lowest kid only achieves half, it is way more than if you would have slowed down. (completely paraphrased)  He stated multiple times that if our challenge/gifted students don't have to work for it, they create a poor work ethic and that does more harm to our country than anything.  I wanted to stand up on my pew and shout a hearty, "Amen!"    I learned that Finland, China, and India put 90% of their educational funding into gifted/challenge programs and they are the top educational systems world wide.  The US, well, we don't do that. 

After he spoke, I spent the next hour and a half manning the book signing table.  Ron took the time to talk to EVERY single one about what they taught, where they taught, what they thought the biggest challenge was, etc. 

The day was perfect.  It was exactly what I needed.  I'm ready to plan for next week and plan to knock their socks off each day.  Not in EVERY single moment, but something small every day - working a math problem on a balloon, teaching with sunglasses, etc. 

The day challenged me as a 13 year teacher to make it new.  What worked one day, may not work the next.  Keep adding to the bag of tricks.  Get to know your kids - This is my favorite part.  Visit their houses, show up at their ball games, serve their favorite foods.  Building relationships will go much further when there is a problem that needs to be dealt with. 

Yes, these are things I know and do, but it doesn't hurt to hear them again. 

If we make it fun for the kids, it will also be fun for us.  I LOVE what I do, but I find that I love it more when I've taken the time to make it fun.  I challenge you to read Ron's books and choose one idea to work into your room this week.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

A Dream Coming True

When I first started teaching, I stumbled upon a little book that really set things in motion for me.  Many of you may have read it.  It's title:  The Essential 55 by Ron Clark.

  I remember very clearly the year that I started reading the book.  It was my first year of teaching in a real school :)  I had 20 4th graders in my class and I was trying to teach them manners.  I was from the south and was living in the northwest.  Manners and northwest aren't as natural as they are in the south. There were many days when I just wanted them to say "Yes ma'am," but that was so culturally different for them.  Somehow this little book landed in my lap.  I latched on and began to implement many of the rules - not all.

Over the years, I've read his other books, watched the movies, etc.  I have been mesmerized by the impact that he has had on the field of education and on students.

I don't think that he does anything extraordinary, or anything that is necessarily unique.  But what I do know is he does something to build relationships with his kids and his parents.  Through my career, that has been my goal.

No, Ron Clark is not the reason I became a teacher, but he does have a lot to do with the reason that I remain in the classroom.

This week, I finally get to meet one of my educational heroes.  My school is hosting him for the day.  I feel like a kid on Christmas Eve.  But, the BEST part is...I get to be his personal host.  Ya'll, this is big time.  Yes, me - a 4th grade teacher who is exhausted, stressed, and wondering just how much longer I can put in 14 hour days.  

I'll be posting afterward to let you know how things turn out.  Stay tuned for  lots of pics.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

October Currently

Listening:  It's the evening soundtrack in my house.  Hubs loves to play some Black Ops.  The constant rat-a-tat-tat of the machine guns is a bit taxing, but it could be so much worse!

Loving:  This past weekend, it was cool.  Long sleeves cool.  Loved it!  Now, it's back to humid and hot.  Wanting fall to arrive in full force - sweaters, boots, socks!  Bring it on!

Thinking:  Went to the doc this week - well the minute clinic - and was prescribed 10 hours of sleep a night and 10 glasses of water a day.  I laughed!  Out loud!  Is anyone on the planet aware of what teachers do?

Wanting:  Every year I go through the same thing - coveting every pair of boots that I see.  Alas, my short calves make it impossible to find a pair that zips.  Looks like I'm destined to wear cowboy boots.

Needing:  SLEEP, someone else to grade all of the papers!  They are piling up and I always wait until Sunday to start.  Think I'd learn after 13 years.  Also need more people to sign up for our Williamsburg trip.

Book:  Hands Down:  Wanda's First Day and Halloweiner!  LOVE them both!  Wanda isn't really about Halloween, but it has witches and fairies and the illustrations are just too cute.  And, if I had a dachshund, you better believe I would dress him up as a hot dog!  I would name him Andouille Sausage Link and call him Dewie or Link!

Linking up with Farley at O, Boy 4th Grade!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Some Days...

Some days, teaching is easy - and by easy, I mean things click.  You hum at a great pace and everything gets checked off of the lesson plan.  Your kids are on task, there are no disruptions, and learning is at the forefront of everyone's mind.

Some days, teaching is HARD - yes, that is with all capitals.  Hard as in your day starts off bad - pouring down rain, sick, forgot computer at home.  Nothing is clicking, Stella has lost her groove and then some, and to top it all off, you get observed.

After 13 years, I've had both.  I'd like to believe that I've had more "easy" days than "HARD" days.

Today was one of those easy days.  My kids were in sync with me from the moment they arrived.  I'm thinking it had to do with the way I was dressed.

When my students arrived this morning, I was dressed as a Southeastern Native American Indian.  Why, you say?  Well, that's the way I teach.  My students learned all about the daily life of Southeastern Native Americans first by what I had on.  Students had to infer the materials that the clothing was made of, observe the turkey feathers that I had in my hair, discuss the possible process for making the arrowheads that I had in my basket, create meals based on the three sisters (corn, squash, and beans), and then create a rope with their team.

These are the days that I LOVE.  I finally feel like I am back where I belong in the upper grades.  The Social Studies is fascinating, and I have to admit, this round of 4th grade, I find myself enjoying it more.

**I know this is normally a Tech on Tuesday feature, but I don't have any fabulous tech right now.  I have been working with the website  to help my kids navigate websites.  You simply input your websites and it gives you a shortened url for students to visit.

Once students arrive on that page, the websites are shown as picture icons.

 I haven't used it yet, but I have it in my plans for next week.  It sure beats having kids type the entire address, hyperlinking on my webpage, or creating a word document.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Need a Support Group?

Sometimes, I feel like I need a support group for things in my classroom.  For things like technology, especially.  There are days where the technology is glitch free and works beautifully, and then there are days where I think it is all possessed.  On days like that, it throws my groove off and my kids feel it too. 

I'm pushing myself to really create iPad opportunities each day in my room, but I've got to be honest, sometimes it is really hard.  I know the potential that the device has, but I can't wrap my mind around how this whole turning in work, going paperless, sending grades world fits in with the iPad.  We've been using Evernote (hate it, by the way) as a note taking tool, Skitch to annotate on graphic organizers, but I don't have a word processing app to type finished writing assignments or something to generate work to put on display in the hallway. 

Don't get me wrong, I LOVE my iPads!  But, some days, I need help.  So, I decided to create a group on Edmodo (another piece of technology that I'm forcing myself to become fluent in) for others like me that may need a little help or some great ideas.  If you want to join, sign in to Edmodo.  

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Steal the Bacon...iPad Style

Growing up I remember playing "Steal the Bacon" during rainy day recess.  It was one of my favorite games as a child.  There was nothing special about it, other than the simple fact that we were allowed to run in the classroom.  Desks were pushed to the edges of the room and the floor was made clear of obstacles.  The teacher would divide the class into 4 groups and assign us a corner.  Then 4 erasers were placed in the center of the room.  The task was for each team to send a representative to retrieve the eraser, return to the line to hand it off to the next person who would leave it in the center, the next would retrieve, etc. until all members of the team had made their run and the entire team was seated.  The team seated first was declared the champion.

Well, this past week I took full advantage of a large room, energetic kids, and our iPads.  We modified "Steal the Bacon" and made it a learning opportunity.  I used my ActivInspire software for my Promethean board to create a self-paced quiz using the Math generator.  50 basic facts were entered into the flipchart.  4 iPads were chosen to serve as our "bacon."  The kids were divided into 4 teams and the fun began.

Each team raced to the center of the room to answer a multiplication fact, hit the send button, and tag the next person.  The team with the most correct answers was declared the winner.

*I made sure that students understood the value of the iPad before the game began.
*I focused on the correctness, not the time.
*Students began talking about what the answers were if it was one that was difficult.
*Students showed a 50% improvement on the multiplication math quiz we did the next day.

The idea was not mine originally.  I watched a video from The Ron Clark Academy this week and stole it from him.  You can watch the video here:   The Ron Clark Academy ActivClassroom: Top 10 Ways 

**Updated to add video of the game.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Carolina Girls Really Are the Best

Yesterday I made the trek down to Columbia, SC - not in South America - to meet up with a group of fantabulous teacher bloggers.  I had a great time getting to know everyone and hearing stories of classrooms all over the place.  It was great talking with a group of people that understood the frustrations of the classroom, got the simple aha! moments, and appreciated all of the time and effort that it takes to be successful on a daily basis.  I love talking with other teachers.  I'm sure my husband appreciates me doing that too.

Thank you to Hope  for organizing the whole shindig, Ginger for driving us down, and Lacie and Rachel for much needed laughter and sarcasm! 

In attendance {make sure you follow their blogs for fabulous ideas--no matter what grade it is!}: from left to right- sort of! Autumn, Ashley, and Tammy from Fanatical in First Grade
Kim (starting her blog soon, right Kim?!?)
Ginger from Gingersnaps Treats for Teachers
Elizabeth from Fun in 4B
Gretchen from Always a Lesson
Hope from 2nd Grade Shenanigans
Dana from 3rd Grade Gridiron
Shasta from The Loop
Heather and Juli from Simple In Second
Amanda from Teaching Maddeness
Amber from Adventures of a Third Grade Teacher
Rachel from The Tattooed Teacher
Elisabeth from Twins, Teaching and Tacos
Rebecca from Landing in K
Natalie from Teachery Tidbits
Lacie from Polka Dots & Pencils

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Tech on Tuesday

Another great little app that we've been using in class is Popplet Lite. This is a graphic organizer app that is easy peasy for kids and teachers to master quickly.

This week we have used it to make inferences and observations about primary source documents in social studies, create character maps, and story maps for our novel study.

Things I love:
1. You can import pictures directly into the app from your camera roll or take them within the app.

2. Students can export the file using email in one tap.

3. You can type or write with your finger or a stylus.

4. It is FREE!

I Don't Have the Answers...

It's taken me all weekend to begin to process what happened in Parkland, Florida.  I put it aside and compartmentalized it until I...