Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Goodbye 2014

Well, somewhere, and I can't find that where after 15-20 minutes of rereading some of my posts - I wrote that College Girl had a goal to read 100 books this year. And I thought, why don't I try to do 100 blog posts?
Well, College Girl is upstairs reading - she said she's close to her goal.
I'm down here typing blog post 94. Didn't make it to 100. But I came a lot closer than I really thought I would as we got closer to the end of the year.
I was looking at my stats - and I had a couple of real winners. Not sure why. My blog is a little one - I usually have 30-50 people read a post. I had a couple posts, though, that got into the triple digits - really not sure why and how, but...
This one I did on beginning of the year lesson plans was viewed by lots of folks - and ha, it tells about trying to write 100 posts! Too funny!
Another one that was viewed quite a bit was one I wrote about Scholastic's Book Wizard. I want to add that the scanning feature on this app is wonderful - when it works {I told you that in the original post!} But Scholastic's own books - that they publish!!!! - they usually don't give any information when you scan the bar code. But if you take the time to type in the title, then you can see grade level, DRA level, Lexile level.
The highlights of this year - well, that has to be my professional growth. I've finished up the course work for my ESOL endorsement - just need to take the Praxis for that - fun times are coming for sure. And I've really taken to reading some "teacher" books - in hopes of becoming a better teacher - and with that hope, I've tried hard to let the ideas I've read influence me as a teacher - not just reading and lip service, but acting on them.
Even the low points of this year, those times I just want to vent, well, I've been blessed by this community of readers who often chime in with an "I hear you," or "It will get better."
And finally, I want to wish you a
However you are celebrating tonight, please be safe. And I hope tomorrow is the start of a wonderful year for you!


Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Teaching Essentials

Little bit of a teacher nerd here - I've been waiting forever for this:
Unfortunately it came about the same time as College Girl did - so you know which one has gotten more attention :)
This is an author my bloggy friend Tammy at Forever in First has talked about often. After thinking and lurking and reading the sample pages at Amazon, I finally bit the bullet and bought this.
I'm afraid it's going to be one of those scary / exciting reads.
I have three little friends this year that are reading way below grade level. And they have progress monitoring every two weeks. And their graph looks like 
because they aren't consistent and they aren't moving up.
And yet, at the very first of her book, Routman says, "Once children enter the doors of our schools and classrooms, we have an obligation to ensure they reach their full potential."
So my goal for this next semester is to work toward that for all my students, especially my three little friends.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Last day

{Ack, no internet on my desktop, so I'm typing this on my iPad. Be careful for typos, because the only thing it seems to auto correct is the word iPads.} 

This must have been one tired teacher - I slept until 8:12 this morning, on my first day of winter break. That just never happens. 

Yesterday, our last day, went much better than I was fretting about. I didn't have any visitors - yay! We did district curriculum math problems, but I changed them up to candy canes and snowflakes - and we drew candy canes and snowflakes on our math papers to add some fun. 

We did reading centers - and I didn't do guided reading - shhh! I kept my door closed - so I could hear anybody come in - and my stuff ready if they did - but nobody did. It was fun to actually sit and listen to my little friends read books of their own choice - and sometimes question that choice with them. 

Then the afternoon - each of the four teachers planned a 20 minute fun segment. I just set out blocks and Legos and linking cubes and let them go at it. Another teacher had cookies for them to decorate and eat. One teacher planned some video segments about Christmas things - like blowing glass ornaments and how they make gingerbread cookies. And the last teacher just set out craft supplies and let them make things. It was fun. When we got done, I took them out to recess. Then we had 30 minutes in the room to just do whatever - and I gave out my traditional books - just laid them out on the table and let them pick. Some knew right away what they wanted and some just about couldn't decide. 

It wasn't near as bad as I was afraid it might be - and even the afternoon fun activities went well. It was a good last day - and now I'm ready to enjoy two weeks in my own home, hopefully sleeping late several more times!  

Friday, December 19, 2014


Happy Friday! It's our last day before break - yahoo!

And our administration - the district big wigs - seem bent on making it a big fat no fun day. We've been threatened with visits and told to teach the curriculum until 1 o'clock today. Sometimes I truly wonder how long it's been since some of these people have been in the classroom. 

To counter that, I have this! Krista Wallden makes the cutest clip art - I've said it before and I'll say it again! She's giving away some clip art that is seasonal, and requesting that we do a sELFless act. Well, two of them worked great for me. First was to make cookies - did it! We had a snack day yesterday and I took my favorite oatmeal chocolate chip cookies - with mini Christmas colored m&ms in place of the chocolate chips. 

{Well, I took a picture of my cookies, but I can't get them over here. You'll just have to trust me!}

Two of my teammates told me "yum," so I'm taking up one for each of them for lunch today. And that is another sELFless act that Krista suggests. 

I love doing fun, nice things for others.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

A Visit

This made my teacher's heart happy - and I just had to share.

Last Saturday, my hub-bub and I took our neighbors to this breakfast fundraiser deal for a local children's group. We ate and talked and blah, blah, blah. The guys went to go sign us up for some raffle things, and my neighbor and I were just visiting. And then this elf - really, he was dressed like an elf - came up and asked {those words I'm sure every teacher dreads}: do you know who I am?  At least I was quick thinking - I asked him: Tell me your name. And as soon as he did, I remembered. He was in my very first class of 2nd graders. He'd shot up a foot - I think literally. 

We talked about where he was going to school and what he was doing and so on - I sometimes feel a bit awkward with these situations, because I'm not sure what to say. I don't have a natural gift of gab :)

As we were driving home, my neighbor said: you sure could see the respect and {yes I think she said} love that boy has for you. 

I'm so glad she was there to put things in perspective for me. For one thing, my first year - for crying out loud - I can remember crazy and chaotic and this boy {and some others} were a little mischievous. 

This whole conversation helped with where I'm at today. I try hard to use a calm, quiet voice. I only raise my voice to say: hey when they get pretty loud and that does a pretty good job of quieting them. I try hard to see things from their point of view and to ask, and really mean, why did you do that? so I can grasp the situation.

So thank you little friend - you've encouraged me and I bet you didn't even know it!

As it's this wonderful season of Christmas, who can you take a moment to encourage?

Friday, December 5, 2014


I just love Krista Wallden's clip art - you can see it right up there on my header - and over on the side with that cute little frame I put around "Joy to the World."


And she is so sweet - she gives lots of clip art away. And for somebody that isn't selling products, it's just wonderful! 

She is doing E.L.F. this Christmas. Everybody Loves Freebies. 
And then she put a little twist on her freebie - she gives some selfless challenges. I admit I didn't do that good on week 1 - she had some ideas like send a real letter, send an encouraging post-it, and make something to share with others. Well, I made something for my class, and I thought I'd try to share it with you. Here's the hopeful share:

I had read an idea about giving each kid a card with a number on it - and then you call out a number and they try to find a partner to make that number. So I give the kids a card between 1 - 9, call out 10, and they try to find a partner to make 10 (or two partners!). We did it the other day before practice for the music concert, and they enjoyed it. 

So even if you can't get my Google Drive deal to work - you could just type up some numbers real quick and play.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Thank an Educator

The last full week before Thanksgiving was Educator Appreciation Week. My district plans a little something for each day. Some of it is a rip-off, like the day the board brought a basket of goodies to our lounge, and I didn't realize until the end of the day and there were only little bags of humongous goldfish graham crackers left.  Haha!

Well, moving on...
Our kids do these thank an educator card. And I had several from former students that said sort of the same thing - thanks for smiling at me; or waving at me; or saying hi to me in the hallway.

You know - that's such a little thing. But I try to notice when former students walk by and let them know. Maybe it's worth the effort. 

And the best was one I got today. It was from a former student that had moved to a different school. Yay, he's still around and working hard. I really appreciated hearing from him.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Food Drive

I have to add this before we get too far from Thanksgiving and it doesn't seem relevant. 

Our school had a canned food drive for a local shelter. One of our teachers made a really fun video where the principal challenged the students to help collect food. 

We even incorporated math - this is a graph of how many food items each class brought. See that tall black line that goes past the picture? That's not my class! 
But see the pretty tall black line right next to it?

That's us! We got 2nd place! I, quite frankly, was pretty excited because my class has never won anything before. We brought in 200 and some food items.

And to top it off, we got a popcorn party - which was yummy - and we watched a little Mayflower video while we munched.