Tuesday, December 3, 2013

December Currently

December? What? Really? NO WAY! Goodness I say that every month and I'll say it again in January! Wait and see...

Listening: I seem to always be traveling when I blog these days. It's the only time there isn't laundry to do, things to clean up, and the list continues. And of course, some good music from back in the day is good blogging background music.

Loving: Oh yes! I was home in Michigan for a few short hours! All my favorite restaurants! So much good food- and so little time!

Thinking: Goodness I'm tired! So tired! I see an early bedtime in my future.

Wanting: I was at home in Michigan and leaving town was sad. I was also at a conference on my MSU campus and I never had a chance to STEP FOOT on it. Thought I'd go out the back door at lunch and walk along the Red Cedar River... but that never happened.  Oh well- I came home with a new t-shirt and a new coffee mug from my alma mater.

Needing: For sure- only got five hours of sleep. It was H-A-R-D to get up the next day.

Favorite Tradition: I love decorating the Christmas tree- mostly because I love all of the individual Christmas tree ornaments that decorate it. I have been collecting them over the years from vacations and exchanging them with friends. I smile with every one I hang and text the friend or family members that are attached to each ornament.  I think every year the tree gets prettier and prettier and my memories make me happier and happier.


Thursday, November 14, 2013

Travel Brochure Menu

I know I am early... but this is a bit of a CELEBRATION! I currently have had 24,976 (make that 24,979 just while I was typing) visits to by blog! This is to CELEBRATE 25,000 (which I might get by the end of the week).

Now... 1,000 are probably from me. And 1,000 of them are probably from my best friend. But oh well- I am still going to CELEBRATE 25,000 visits with a FREEBIE! 

Think of a menu... lots of choices... lots of options... lots to eat. Using a menu in Literacy Centers (Work Stations if you are reading this in DC) is the same thing.  Lots of choices, options, and lots of things to do, which means YOU as the teacher can keep that activity in the Literacy Center (WORK STATION if you are reading this in DC) for a very, very, very long time! That to me says- go to HAPPY HOUR 'cause your work in centers (Stations-DC) is D-O-N-E, done!

Margarita anyone?

Menus can be used at any Center (DC- what are they called?) Think Reading Menu, Writing Menu, Word Work Menu etc. and click here if you don't already have mine.

Now I want to introduce you to another kind of menu that uses an authentic informational text- travel brochures! Who doesn't want to grab them when you see them in a hotel lobby or at a gas station? Well now you have reason to! Gather up all the brochures you can.  All you need is a stack of brochures and this menu- and voila!

Margarita anyone?  Cheers!


Wednesday, November 13, 2013

These Are a Few of My Favorite Things...

So I've got a few favorite things these days... and I thought I'd take a few minutes and share them with you! Maybe they will become your favorite things too!

Number 1:

PowToon! Have you seen this? It's so fun and so easy! And of course FREE- or I wouldn't like it. You can make fast and easy presentations/videos to jazz up your life! I am already thinking of some fun ones I want to make- they will be about Guided Reading, so that might not be as fun as I'd like to think-but still! Check it out! 

Number 2:

An APL (Assistant Principal of Literacy) in DCPS told me about this book this morning- and by 11:00 a.m. I was the proud owner. This book takes what we know about Balanced Literacy and good teaching and couples it with a fresh look at how we approach those things now in the light of the Common Core State Standards. Don't tell anyone, but it's gonna rock my world! I have already devoured the chapters on Guided Reading and my highlighter was put to work. Several of the quotes are already in my PowerPoint for use in January's PD Day in the District of Columbia. Woo hoo! Melissa is learning new things and gaining new ways to think about things I knew! 

Number 3:

Another book, yes, but a different topic! This book is a new take on Writer's Workshop. Well, not really a new take, but some reflection by teachers who have been doing it as long as I have! Literally- she is only a year older than me. So it is neat to see her take on things, her learning curve, her triumphs and trials.  My highlighter is at work again inside this text too! That feels good. It's been a while since I've had time to read professionally. It's a MUST if you ask me. So I'm going to see if I can finish these two by the end of November- worse case- by the New Year?! Wish me luck. 

Do you have a favorite thing? Don't keep it a secret! Tell me in a comment!

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Model Classroom... A Work In Progress

So some of you are wondering about the model classroom I mentioned I was setting up in a school in DC... the classroom is in Browne Education Campus.  Browne is a big school but they have an entire third floor that is unused space, so we asked for it! And our wish was granted.

We headed over there the week before school started to scope things out...  and this is what we found! They had an empty floor all right, but it was more or less storage space! We had a lot of cleaning to do! Dead bugs, old books, even a Christmas tree! I swear it smelled like a dead animal! It took DAYS just to get stuff either thrown out or put into the storage closets at the back of the room. 

I really never thought I'd see the day when it looked and felt like a classroom, but we did it.  I still wouldn't call it MODEL, but at least we have a space that my adult students can come into and learn. I have a classroom.  It even has a bulletin board! 

That's a picture of Sydney. She is my coordinator for Small Group Literacy schools in the District and she worked SO HARD in this classroom with me.  This work is NOT for the faint of heart!

We are ready for teachers! It still needs some work and I'll do a little every time I go, but I have a classroom again- I have no budget to set up this classroom- and I had to buy my own garbage can, but it is my classroom. 

Just being in a classroom again feels so good!   Best part of the whole thing- there are REAL LIVE KIDS right downstairs every day. So when teachers come to trainings in "my classroom" I can do demo lessons with students from the school!  REAL Guided Reading lessons- here we come! 

Not sure if you can tell, but this bulletin board says CAUTION: Teachers at Work! There is another side that will say LITERACY PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT.  Thanks to the DCPS interns, otherwise known as UELIPs (Urban Education Leadership Intern Program) for their artistic skills in this lonely space! Slowly but surely, this is going to be a great place to learn! We are DCPS- and we can DO THIS! 

Currently November

It's that time again... thanks Farley for your November Currently.  I love the idea of the contest for December. Can't wait to see the winner. I wonder how many entries she'll get!?

Listening: My boys are playing ball! And the scoreboard is a happy sight to see! 16-6!  It's too early to be confident we'll bring home a win, but I'm enjoying it now nonetheless. 

Loving: Driving home from work at night and I am just in awe- big huge trees- orange and red and yellow! It is stunning!  Today's weather was just perfect.  We could have been on the boat in fact, but Jeff had to work. Boo! 

Thinking: I know I say this every month, but really, where did October go? I bought two Christmas presents online today! That is just crazy! Thanksgiving may be one of my favorite holidays though. Christmas is always special because of all the family, but it is always so fast paced.  Thanksgiving is slow and easy. The Thursday holiday always makes for a long weekend and I look forward to relaxing.  Cooking, eating, resting, relaxing. Bring it on! 

Wanting: So many of you know that Jeff and I went on a vacation to the Bahamas in June.  It was amazing, but I've worked so incredibly hard since June and my body wants to escape to the islands again! I want to be on a beach- with a book- and a drink with a little umbrella. Maybe I need to schedule a vacation of my own. For reals! 

Needing: So my job involves some direct teaching of teachers in DCPS, but mostly it is my job to design and implement PD Days for the school year for almost 600 teachers.  Like every district, we have five of these days a year and I have already successfully pulled off two (August and October). The next one is January 6th- right after the holiday and I should really get working on it already.  I am kind of dragging my feet... 

A Yummy Pin:  Have y'all had Dirty Brownies? OH MY WORD! They are so good! So easy to make too! You can find my pin here... http://www.pinterest.com/pin/218424650646952034/ 

And believe it or not I actually COOKED a dinner- like a real dinner- not just heating something up in the oven! It was a big hit too. See what you think. You can find that pin here... http://www.pinterest.com/pin/218424650650937560/


Work Station Debriefing Cards

In DC Public Schools, I work with teachers to improve their Work Stations and their teaching at the Guided Reading table. 46 schools have chosen this focus area for the school year, called Small Group Literacy Instruction. We use the work of Debbie Diller and her book Literacy Work Stations. We use "I Can" Lists and we also make it a habit to debrief the work in stations.  Stations may begin with a mini-lesson and end with debriefing.

What could be taught in a mini-lesson for Work Stations?
How to use a new material.
How to solve a common problem.
How to work with others.
How to do anything better in Work Stations.

The teacher will then let students do their work in Work Stations and teach Guided Reading, but not being out there with students during Work Stations is hard.  The only way to get the information you need from students work in Stations is to ask them! We do this using debriefing cards as a routine part of our Work Station routine.

Teachers will meet with the group and ask one or two questions from the cards.  This gives teachers a chance to get valuable information from students and helps students be metacognitive about the work! It's a win-win for all involved!

You can get your cards in my TpT store! FREE!
Happy Work Stations!


Monday, October 14, 2013

Share Stations

Goodness I sure do love learning something new! I think once we stop learning- we should stop being teachers. So today, in a training in Texas I learned something new from a teacher.


It's an idea for student accountability- otherwise known as- "You better be doing what I told you to do" during Work Stations.

There is an identified share station each week- or I assume it could be a different one each day. It may be designated on the Work Board by a special S sticker or some kind of cute clip art on the rotation chart.  This just indicates to students that they will be SHARING their work at that Station with the class. Sharing means showing what they created/made/did etc. and perhaps being the students that also answer questions during the debrief; what did you like doing at your station? What did you learn while working at your station etc.

I love this idea for allowing kids to show and share their work. You can imagine students take their work more seriously when they know they are (or could be) at a SHARE Station in the week.

Thanks for the great idea Megan!

How do you hold students accountable for their work during Stations? Post your idea in a comment.


Top 100 Books! What's Your Number?

A friend of mine posted this on Facebook recently. It is a post fro the New York Public Library for the TOP 100 Children's books.

I scrolled through and added up how many I had read personally. I am kind of ashamed to say I'm only 45! Really?

Oh well. Scroll though yourself. What's your number?


In addition to your number, which ones were you most happy to see on this list?

I personally don't think this list would have been complete without:



Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Creativity in Schools! We need MORE of it!

Y'all I am just amazed at this! I believe this child is smart for sure- but there is so much of this creativity in all kids. Like a diamond just needing to be polished. How can we encourage more of this in our schools? I want to find out!


October Currently

It's that time again. Time to link up with Farley for her October Currently. I'm number 290. Yikes! I've been 2 before... and probably 90.. but not 290!  It kind of snuck up on me this month. It's already the 9th... but what do they say? Better late than never.
So here goes.

Listening: Planes are so loud! It hurts your ears after a while. I'm headed to one of my favorite places... Texas! Going back to my old stomping ground at Region 12! I'm their keynote speaker in the morning. Big Lessons from Little Learners.

Loving: It is FALL in Virginia! Seriously! It's amazing! My favorite season and I am in jeans, boots, long sleeves. The windows can be rolled down. The leaves are starting to turn! Woo Hoo!

Thinking: I'm so late doing this. Oh well. If nothing else it is a chance for ME to be reflective right? A few moments of writing. It's worth it. Really cute design this month eh?

Wanting:  I'm so excited for this weekend. Now- don't make fun of me- but I am a scrapbooker. I can't paint- I can't draw- but I am a creative person and I get my creative on by cutting paper! I love to journal in my scrapbooks too and it is my guilty creative pleasure in life. So... what does any of that have to do with Friday night? On Friday night I will be at a retreat for scrapbookers- Friday night 9pm ish until Sunday afternoon! Yep! Me! I can't wait. The luggage was a little extra heavy this trip. Had to bring all my "stuff" for the retreat!

Needing: I really need to be a better blogger. I just have no time. I thought if I set a certain time for it, but that didn't work. I've been through the writer's block thing- that's not it. I have tons of stuff I want to write and share- I'm just too tired- or I'd rather catch up on DVR. Oh- and reading blogs? Haven't done that in I don't even KNOW how long! Poo.

Trick or Treat? It really is going to be a TREAT to be back at R12! I'm excited.


Saturday, September 14, 2013

Check It Out

In my procrastination of PowerPoint today, I was on the Internet and look what I found:

Positive Behavioral Interventions and Support: www.pbis.org

Some of you may know of this body of work, but it was brand new to me. My favorite part was the link under SCHOOL then PRIMARY LEVEL and BEHAVIOR EXPECTATION EXAMPLES
You can get right to it by clicking here. There are some great ideas and things to print and use in your own classroom.  I hope you'll click around and check it out!

This was a good find on Saturday morning. Does this mean I need to get back to PowerPoint now?


Tuesday, September 3, 2013

September Curently

Yep! It's that time! September already. Where did August go? Where did the entire summer go? It will be Christmas again before we know it! Good grief- time flies when you are busy!

I'm hooking up with Farley for her Currently.

Listening:  I am "Up North" in Michigan right now. Spending time with my parents and going to a wedding this weekend. It's so quiet here and peaceful.

Loving:  Living in a different state than my family is so HARD! I hate that I miss so many things. Mom is making dinner right now and we are just hanging out.

Thinking: I really don't have days of doing nothing! I just don't! I wish I did. I should make time for it- but there is always something to do.  Being in Michigan allows me to find some time to DO NOTHING.  I took a nap! I read a book! I started this blog post. It was relaxing. I needed it.

Wanting: My phone is on its last leg! It doesn't hold a charge. It doesn't turn off. I need a new one, but I am going to get every last second from the one I have first.

Needing:  My job is out of control. I love it- don't get me wrong- but it is the hardest work I have every done.  I need more days to get the work done or someone to split the workload with me. Any takers?

Heart Happy Goals: Oh I love reading! It is a simple pleasure and a gift every time I can do it. I set a summer reading goal of 10 books- only made it to 6. I need to read more in the month of September. Period.  I also need to take more time for ME at the gym.  When I'm at the gym, I am focusing on myself. Not the laundry, not the dog hair on the floor, not the dishes in the sink. I am focused on me and I am worth an hour a day to do that! Not to mention I am not fitting into clothes the way I used to! So... September will be a good month of reading and the gym. Oh- and I'm going to make some things! You know all those things I've pinned? I'm going to FINALLY make something of those boards! :)


Saturday, August 31, 2013

Parent-Teacher Communication Logs

If you are reading this, you survived your first week! Some of you are in love and celebrating what might be the best group of students to date. Others of you are confident some of your students are going to kill you before the year is through.  To all of you- I say congratulations in completing your first week!  

It was usually over this long weekend that I would regroup. I would shuffle my lesson plans. I would rearrange my room. (Why does it always look bigger until the kids get in it?) And I would start my Home/School communication sheets.  

Many teachers use Friday Folders. I was one of those teachers. Every Friday, my students would take home their folder with a School/Home Communication sheet inside. Which means every Friday, I had a chance to send a personal message to every child’s family.  It also meant that to start every Monday I got a personal message back.  

We don’t get accolades often as teachers, but these School/Home communication sheets were mine. Parents would often thank me for things. They would tell me how excited their child was about things we were learning.  These sheets made me smile. They helped me build the partnership that is so vital for a successful school year. If you want to try it- my School/Home Communication sheet is available for free in my TpT Store.


Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Up, Up, Up

Just a reminder to all of you out there praying for the end of the first week of school.

It is tough!

It is tiring!

Your feet hurt!

Your voice is fading.

You aren't getting enough sleep because you are dreaming about school.

This is the hardest week of them all!

My first year of teaching Kindergarten (after having taught 3rd grade the year before),  I had to get a theme song. In order to walk down the hall to GET my students from the cafeteria in the morning I had to play myself a song. And the song was: Up by Shania Twain.

Up, up, up. Can only go UP from here!

When the day is long and hard- just remember- Up, up, up! Can only go UP from here!


Monday, August 26, 2013

First Day of School Lesson Plans

Just a walk down memory lane! I dug these up last night to remember the FIRST day of school.  So much just about rules and routines! Spent the morning in a DC elementary school and it things have not changed. Rules, rules, rules.  Happy first day of school everyone! 

 It’s the first day of KINDERGARTEN!

Tuesday August 28

7:35 Pick up students and say hello to each one  
(remember some of them will have parents with them and you'll need to determine how they will get home)

7:45-8:30 Students take things to their seat and start to color and cut K.P Bears
** Go to student tables one at a time and help them unpack and show them what to do in the morning. PUT THINGS AWAY, LUNCH TALLY, ANNOUNCEMENTS, PIN ON NAME TAGS
AIDE- Go around and write names on their bear and help by taking PICTURES of each student outside by Chicka Tree  

8:30-8:45 Morning Group/What We Will Do Today
 ** Teach sitting in lines for morning group, talk about how we sit at the carpet.  Say good morning to each student by name. As you say good morning, glue their bear on butcher paper.  

8:45-9:00 Read Aloud the Kissing Hand and discuss feelings about going to Kindergarten today. Give HEARTS to students that want one. Send students back to seats.  Cut out brown hands and draw a heart to glue on a poem for Mom and Dad.       

9:00-9:15 RECESS 
** RULES- Rocks stay on the ground
                  Dirt Stays on the ground
                  Play where your teacher can see you
                  Play without touching each other
                 ** Listen for me to call you to line up- RUN **
9:15-9:25 Bathroom Break in Hall   
** Teach QUIET hall behavior.
One push of soap and three pulls of paper

9:25-9:35 Snack  
** Teach talking quietly at table about the playground

9:35-9:55 Shared Writing Chart - _________ likes the monkey bars etc.
** Teach sitting in rows at carpet with tape
Rules: sit still with legs crossed
Look at teacher
Keep hands in lap
Sit in your row
Raise hand to share
When we get to the carpet we stay at the carpet together

9:55-10:05 Introduce Fine Motor Center: Play dough
** Teach/Show how to use it and how to clean it up **

10:05-10:25 Play dough

10:25-10:45 Word Study- Phonics ELC1 p. 71 Making a Name Chart with Pocket Chart and Cards       

10:45-10:55 Get Ready For Lunch 
Whisper when in cafeteria line
 Remember your manners
 Raise your hand ONLY for help
 Have all the things you need help with READY
 Who Is In Charge

10:55-11:25 Lunch **ABC ORDER** 
(Remember you will have to stay with them for a little bit to help them)

11:25- Recess 
** Remind them of the recess rules before they play

11:45 Bathroom and Drink Break 
** Teach/Remind about hall behavior and bathroom behavior

12:00-12:10 Calendar Carpet 
** Review carpet behavior

12:10-12:20 Read Aloud Chicka Chicka Boom Boom Big Book

12:20-1:00 Introduce Pattern Blocks and let students explore at table with the math manipulatives and foam pads

1:00-1:20 Introduce Suzy Circle
                  Use a Circle to do a Bubble Map of MATH and NUMBERS

1:20-1:30 Pack Up and Pass out First Day Newsletter


2:50 Closing Group and Dismissal  
**Teach them to stay by me out in the car pickup outside **
    Teach them to say goodbye!


Sunday, August 25, 2013

A Back-to-School Prayer

It's that time of year again! Some of my readers have already started this school year, but most begin tomorrow. I am praying for you! I am praying for your students. I am praying for this wonderful and worrisome time of year we all call Back-to-School.

May God cover you, your families, your students, your classroom, your books and even your crayons with His peace and wisdom.

A Teacher's Prayer

Dear God,

A new school year is about to begin
and my classroom door will soon open. 
Right now, I am worried and a little anxious.  
I toss and turn at night thinking of the waves in the distance 
called the “First Day of School”.
I know that every student name on my list 
you have assigned to my care. 
You have known from the beginning that we would meet.
Open my mind and heart to each of your precious children 
and especially to the ones who will challenge me the most...
Help me remember, Lord, how young my students are:
give me patience to help them grow 
and insight to know the help they need...
may I be clear in the things I say and do,
and in how I say and do them… 
knowing every day that I am doing your work for these children.
Send your Spirit to fill me with your gifts; 
knowledge and understanding, counsel and wisdom.
Lord, open my mind and heart to my students' parents 
and their heart to me. 
Let them know that I am good and true 
and working hard for their child every day.
Help me to teach as you would, Lord
Help me to be patient until the last bell rings…

A new school year is about to begin, Lord, 
and I am ready to do your work.
Thank you in advance for this time in our lives that you have crafted 
called the 2103-2014 school year.