Saturday, April 27, 2013

Peace, Hope, Love and Kindness

I have been wanting to share this idea for a while, and I saw this linky party and thought it was the perfect time. The linky party is called Peace, Hope, Love and Kindness. The idea is to share a "something good" that has happened, or that we've done. 

Last year, our librarian was rather insistent that we stay with our kids while they were at the library. I didn't have much to do but sit there, so I started writing what I call "Good on You" notes. {I haven't been as good at it this year - boo hiss.} My idea was to write 4 or 5 of these notes a week. They are quick and simple - and Target is so nice to have these perfect sized notepads in their $1 section. Here's a couple examples:

I try to notice something that one of my kiddos has done - for example, the first one, this little gal is such a hard worker at centers - and seems to love to write and write and write - so I wanted to acknowledge that. My second student - doesn't like to write. So for him to even get started {and not spend his whole writing time sharpening his pencil} is a victory! 

I keep track of students I've written notes to and when, so that I can make a real effort to get around to all my kids. Sometimes its a little hard to think of something for a specific student - but if I write their name down and try to watch them during the day, something pops up that is perfect. These are just for little things - maybe treating a friend nicely, sharing a pencil, encouraging a classmate, helping me with something and so on. 

But - here's the biggie - my students LOVE getting these! When I say I've got a Good on You note for so and so - they are up to my desk in a flash. Sometimes I see them still in a child's desk. Last year at parent teacher conferences, a parent told me her daughter had taped my note to the refrigerator and went back and read it occasionally. Wow! 

Anyway, this is just a little way that I show my students I like what they are doing. If you have a Something Good - why don't you share it at the Peace, Hope, Love and Kindness Linky Party. 


Saturday, April 20, 2013

Random Thoughts about my week - Five for Friday

{OK, I really, truly was writing this on Friday, but Firefox kept shutting down on me. I finally gave up when my daughter and a friend came home, but I was thinking about it and realized it was the way I was trying to add pictures. So here's try two, a day late.}

How was your week? How was your Friday?
My week seemed long. And my Friday started on a sad note. I was in a meeting this morning when I found out I didn't have the sub I had planned for so I could do DRA testing with my kids. {I don't have to tell you how much fun it is to make sub plans and then have no one come.} All through the day, my kids kept asking when the sub was coming. They just didn't understand why no one was coming. Crossing my fingers and hoping for Monday.

 But here are some good things:

1. Watercolor and Salt paintings - I wrote about this earlier, but now I have pictures! This project went along with our story Half Chicken. Half Chicken only has half of everything, that's why most of the chickens only have 1 leg. Anyway, we drew the chickens on one day, then watercolor painted the chickens on the next. After they had painted, the kids sprinkled some salt on their painting. Most of them didn't work out as well as I had hoped. I don't think their chickens were wet enough for the salt to suck up part of the liquid to make a textured look. Next year. The next day they added backgrounds. I let them do whatever they wanted on the colors because the illustrations in the book were pretty bold.

 2. Dinosaurs - I'm taking part of Deanna Jump's dinosaur unit and adding some of my own things and books that I have available. Of course my kids are enjoying this. And I've made some learning charts. I should say, we've made some learning charts. {This idea is from the Teaching with Intention book.} After almost everything we've done, I've had the kids write on a sticky note and we've added the sticky note to a chart. {As usual, pictures to come, I guess, since I didn't take any.}

3. Subtraction - I've used Math Coach's Corner's Regrouping unit and Hooray! in my low math group, almost everybody "gets" it! I think I'm down to 3 or 4, and quite frankly, that's 3 or 4 out of the whole 2nd grade (since we've grouped them by level). This is such a hard concept - I didn't realize until I started trying to teach it!

4.  I hope this isn't too silly - but I think the end of the year is getting to me. The behaviors - ack! Anyway, I've made a conscious decision to try to enjoy my students the last couple days. To laugh with them. To take a minute to notice something. To put a hand on a shoulder.

5. Happy Anniversary to us! I was thinking this morning, my hub-bub and I have made it through lots of thicks and lots of thins - and we still enjoy each other. To celebrate - a nice lunch out and the movie 42. Looking forward to spending the day with him.

I'm linking up at:


Have a great weekend - Sara

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Book - Teaching With Intention

I'm continuing to read Debbie Miller's book, "Teaching with Intention." This week is about environment, or the physical space, in our rooms.

 Teaching with Intention

Its hard not to think the grass is greener. When I student taught, my mentor teacher had three huge built in cabinets, and a long row of bookshelves, also built in. My current school doesn't have that - and I've just got to make it work :) {As a former co-worker liked to say, "It is what it is." Too true.}

Miller gives an idea - "Step outside your classroom door and look back in, as if for the first time. What do you see? Do you want to go back inside?" 

Ack! I say. I can think of pictures I've taken of my kids, and yuck, there in the background is a brown box, or a stack of books, or.... You name it.

But, tomorrow, I plan to take this step. I'm going to go in my room tomorrow morning, put up my coat and bag, and step back out of my room and back in. What catches my eye - in a good way or a bad way? And for me, some photos might help me as I think through this summer how I want my space to be. 

I'm also thinking of really being brave and asking a couple of my sweet students what they think about our room.

This is an awful time for me to be reading about physical space. I have WAY too many things that I just haven't taken the time to put back after I've used them. Or that need to leave my room :) But I've also been able to find a few pockets of time lately to do a little something - for example, my closet - the part that looks straight at me when I open the door. 

Anyway, wondering about you - when you really take time to look and see - what do you see? Do you want to go back in? Do you care to share?? 

Tomorrow's Friday and I'm testing. Hoping to get it all done! Have a good one - Sara   

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Pinterest Linky Party

Well, Diving into Learning is having a Pinterest Linky Party.

I have to admit that I haven't been a consistent Pinterest pinner - does that make sense? I'll go in spurts and pin a bunch of stuff, and then not for a while. I often forget what I've pinned and then when I go back, I say to myself, man, that's a great idea. But Diving into Learning had a couple ideas on her blog that I repinned. 

The linky party gave me an excuse to look at my pins again, and you guessed it, I found a couple good ones. 

I'm going to use the poster below in my some of my Guided Reading groups. I'm hoping that my higher groups can start talking to each other without me as the middle man :)

book talks


I like these ideas - I'm thinking I want to give my Guided Reading groups sticky notes and have them do a couple of these ideas below.

Stop, Think,Jot

I "borrowed" this from Diving into Learning. What a great idea for a quick number line! I'm going to try to use it next week for some of my sweeties that seem to be still clueless in 2nd grade! I have tons of baggies (they are on our school supply list) and hopefully some of them have that zip thing at the top.
Saddle up for Second Grade Number line idea, made from a Baggie

If you are interested in seeing my other pins - you can go to my Pinterest Boards.

Ha, ha on me - I see now that this linky party is called:

Happy Pinning to you! Sara

Friday, April 12, 2013

Five for Friday - 4/12

Yahoo, it's 5 for Friday time - I'm linking up - ON Friday! Wow!! 

If you want to "play" - link up with Doodle Bugs Teaching.


1. It's Friday! Yeah. Friday's are my recess day, and even as I put on my (brown colored so they don't look too much like sneakers) New Balances, I knew my feet were going to hurt today. Does anybody else have this problem? What do you do? I'm thinking of investing in some thick socks. I looked on (where I buy a lot of my shoes) and there are some socks for $80!!!! I really want to met the person who buys $80 socks. 

Anyway, what I'm trying to say is that I'm very happy it's Friday and I can rest my tootsies. Well, really the bottoms of my feet are what hurt, but anyway. 

2. Mega support from a parent. Sometimes I've been afraid to contact a parent because I'm afraid it won't do any good. I have a kiddo that's having some difficulties, and Dad has emailed me two days in a row, wanting to know specifics. Thank You!  

3. I did running records this past week. My school is really focusing on fluency and wpm this year. I have 13 kids reading at 92 wpm, where they are supposed to be by the end of the year, with another 3 or 4 that are just a bit short of that. So that's a yahoo and yeah!

4. I finally got to do my Salt Paintings. {This is a year after I found the idea, but OK.} And pooh, forgot a picture. Maybe Monday - I need to put a note on my phone reminder. Anyway, they turned out pretty cool looking, and it always surprises me how much the kids enjoy art projects. This is the example picture. Wait til you see some of mine :)

5.  My daughter and I were home alone last night, so we splurged and had Applebee's - steaks for each of us, and watched "Hart of Dixie on Netflix. It's such a fun show. And I love watching without having to go through commercials.

Ah, my dear reader friend - Happy Friday to you! I hope you have a terrific weekend!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Book - Teaching with Intention

I'm continuing my personal study of Debbie Miller's book Teaching with Intention.  I looked at chapter 2 this week. {If you are interested in my take on Chapter 1, go here.}
 Teaching with Intention

This chapter starts out by talking about a specific classroom as an example, and Debbie Miller says this teacher had a vision of what she wanted for her kids, "and she made conscious decisions and taken deliberate actions to get them there." 

Miller then talks about how she came to define her own beliefs and she says she wishes this for us, the reader also. She asks to ask ourselves, "what do I value?"

Miller suggests that taking time to do some writing about our practices helps us figure out what we value. I did some of this when I first started skimming this book, but I feel I need to continue this practice.

I think it is very easy to feel tired at the end of the day, and writing about what's gone on just seems like another huge task. I certainly feel this way today. But I also know I enjoy writing and I really enjoy looking back over what I've written. And I want to be a reflective teacher.

So, I'm asking you, like Debbie Miller asks in her book, what do you value in your classroom?  

Sunday, April 7, 2013

5 for Friday - 4/5 (sort of)

Yes, today is Sunday - but I really wanted to do Five for Friday from Doodle Bugs Teaching. It helps me remember the good things. I knew I probably wouldn't be able to post on Friday - my teenage daughter usually hogs the computer if she isn't out with friends, and that's exactly what happened. So, I thought it would be clever to do 6 for Saturday - since I was late. Ha! We met with our tax guy, ate breakfast, ran errands, and it was prom night. No can do. I would attempt 7 for Sunday, but I just don't think that's going to happen.  Anyway, on to the 5 {at least!}
1 - It was prom night Saturday and my daughter looked so special. She got her hair done and she had this gorgeous red dress that came about mid thigh and silver high heels that showed off her long legs. Her group of friends ate dinner over at one girl's house, and then they went to prom together and then other places until 5:30am. The most wonderful thing is, we just don't worry about her. She's a good kid. And she said she had a good time, right before she headed to bed.

2. My little math friends - Oh, my goodness, we are working on fractions. We cut rectangles into halves and fourths and even tried thirds.  We drew circles and rectangles and partitioned them. I brought in 3 different shaped pasta, and we wrote fractions based on what we had. We're getting there, but I'm surprised at how hard it is. 

3. Basal Reader - Because we had a short week, I did something a little different. Our story this week was called "Half Chicken." Usually I read (or have the online book read) and then stop about every page for questions. This time, I read straight through. The next day, we went back and I had the students reread a particular page to find the answer to a question. I kind of liked doing it this way. I may do it again. 

4. I've been working on lesson plans all weekend and I have at least an outline for each week until the end of the year. It's a great feeling! 

5. We're getting a refund! Yah! Doesn't always happen, so this is good news!

Happy Sunday to you. It's supposed to be a beautiful day here; I hope it is for you, too. 

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Book - Teaching with Intention

 I have soooo many books that I want to read. They clutter the floor beside my bed. And I have a bookshelf in the empty bedroom in our basement that is starting to overflow. 

So... I decide to take Monday evenings and do some actual reading. I started with this:

I had already read the first chapter and skimmed through most of the rest of it, but I've got my own copy now, so I went in with yellow highlighter - wowza! {I was also looking on my nightstand for a pencil but couldn't find one. I was thinking of really going crazy, and writing notes in the margins. What next!}

The first part is called Defining Beliefs and Aligning Practices. The first chapter is called Picture Perfect: How Does Your Ideal Classroom Look, Sound and Feel? And I highlighted the very first sentence: "If I were to ask you to close your eyes and envision the perfect classroom scene, what would you see? What would you hear and smell and feel?"

And then, Debbie Miller says, "Once you take the time to envision exactly what it is you want for you and the children you teach, you can set about taking action and bringing your vision to life."

Personally, I think this is the perfect time to start thinking about this. It's getting close to the end of the year. I can think about things I think aren't working, and what is working {yes, please Sara, do this! (because I seem to be a pessimist)}  And what do I want to do differently.

I need to make notes. I need to think about what's important to me. Like, I want my class to be enjoyable. I want, for the most part, for my classroom to be somewhere my kids want to be. 

So, what else do I want? I also want to plan more fun, memorable ideas. I often feel that our time together is so structure, that my students and I don't have much time to do some of the creative things I'd like to try. But maybe I need to do a better job in planning those times.

Just this tip of the iceberg has gotten me thinking. What about you, what would your perfect classroom look like? This is like my own personal book study, but I'd love to hear from you, if you have a thought or idea to add. 

Thanks, Sara