Thursday, June 28, 2012

A little late, just a thought, and family fun!!!

A little late, just a thought, and family fun!!!

I know that I am a little late on our D5 book study but I’ve been really busy this week.  I’ve been working on a picture collage for my cousin’s wedding.  It is taking a bit longer that I expected though because I can only work on it at certain times during the daynamely nap time for little C.  She is into everything lately, my sweet “T2” little girl. I am finally finished though and can concentrate on other things!!  

my cousin's collage-hard to see though

I love these sections of the book because we are finally into the “how”  of what is the idea of D5. Rereading this has really lit a fire within me.  I am so excited to get back into the classroom and get started.  We are on chapter 3:  What's the Difference?  Key Materials, Concepts, and Routines for Launching the Daily Five. 
          I’ve only done one year of D5 but I know that there are a few of these key concepts and routines that are imperative to making D5 work and that I must revisit in order to make D5 work within my classroom.  I think one of the most important is the modeling of correct and incorrect ways to perform a D5 skill.  I started strong with this when we began read to self.  The kids did enjoy modeling and watching the others model, especially when they did the incorrect way.  My read-to-self section worked really nicely in my class.  We worked hard on modeling for read-to-someone and again, success!!  So much so, that I really didn’t focus too much on modeling when it came to word work or writing.  I mean, hey!  They were getting it with the other areas, why waste that valuable time!!!  Let me tell you, I did waste timeMY OWN!!!  Those were the areas that were least successful the entire year especially at the end of the year when they started getting antsy and tired of being at school.  This year I will make sure to follow the modeling procedure correctly. Another area was picking a just right book.  I didn’t give up the power of picking appropriate books completely to my children.  We went over the IPICK strategy.  I even did a partial shoe lesson (using my kids shoes and me trying them onI have small feet).  Unfortunately this was another area I didn’t follow to a T and sure enough it showed.  Later in the year, as students’ reading progressed there were always kids who wanted to read what higher readers were reading.  Someone always wanted a Diary book or Harry Potter and they weren’t ready for it.  So back to the anchor chart we went.  This brings me to the another concept the sisters mention in short intervals of repeated practice (or building stamina)stop as soon as you see a student who isn’t following what is written on the anchor chart. “If kids practice an off task behavior they are practicing the wrong way and therefore training their muscle memory incorrectly” pg.38.  That is what happened in my room with book choice (and other areas too I admit!).  Definitely going to be working on that!!  Somewhere on a fantastic blog, someone wrote about how they let kids “shop” for just right books from the class library for 30 minutes at the end of every Friday so they will have books for the next week in their book boxes.  I have searched but can’t find the person who does this.  If you read this and you are that person or know that person, please let me know.  I need to give you props and I need to go back and reread how you do this!!!  I’m sorry for not writing your name and blog name down.  (Like I said before, I’m new)
A few things I want to mention:  A true gathering place really is important.  It does set the tone for successful learning and the children know that they are expected at this time to be ready to share and to listen.  They know they will learn from their friends about what just happened in that rotation and maybe what they can expect when they get there.  Also, you need a signal for this.  When they hear it they know what is about to happen and they need to get their brain and body ready for it.  I use a simple outdoor wind chime.  It’s cheap and easy.  Right now the one I am using is a gift from a student.  It has a frog on it which matches my room theme.  I hang it from the chalkboard tray and use either my pencil or my finger to strike the chimes.  A WHOOOOLLLEEE LOT cheaper than some of the signals out there in teacher land.  Also there are tons of IPICK book marks on TPT.  I use these in their book boxes so they always have a mini anchor chart for picking a just right book!!!
And finallyOne thing that stood out within this chapter to me was about how crucial establishing routines, defining expectations, practicing behaviors, and building stamina is in order to make Daily 5 work in the classroom.  If you be patient and stick with these things D5 will work for you!

Self reflection-You know, it is funny what causes you to pause for self-reflection.  I don’t know about you, but self reflection is a huge part of my life.  A lesson learned the hard way but a valuable one none the less.  My principal called me last week and asked me to be part of an interviewing committee.  We have a couple of openings and she was ready to interview.  I started thinking about what I would want to ask if I were the principal.  I decided upon 3 questions; one about how they approached literacy instruction, one about classroom management, and one about the latest current educational technique they have learned about and applied in their classroom.  Pretty good questions I thought.  Then I get to the school and my P hands me a questions sheet.  I liked the questions on the survey.  Got me thinking about how I would answer them.  Questions like,  how do you approach math instructionyikesaren’t we all scared of math? students aren’t getting “it” you’ve retuaght but still no dice. Where do you go from there?  What does teamwork look like to you?   I think I’ve got a pretty good handle on most of these but the math one always throws me.  I am scared of math, I admit it!!  I can teach it and I think that I do an adequate job doing so.  But, I don’t want to be adequate.  The area I am really struggling with is fact fluency. I know that is my weak area and I need to work on it, but I need a math intervention in the biggest way.  My question to all of you is thislike it was asked in the interviewWhat is your approach to math instruction?  intertwined in that, How do you focus on specific areas and weakness in your students and what is an area of math instruction that you excell in teaching and how do you teach it?  And an area you need to grow in teaching?  I would love to hear from everyone. 

Now for the highlight of my week  every year my daughters and I go to a few concerts.  Everyone  gets to make choice and we all go.  I love listening to live music of just about any kind so Im always game!!  I go to lots of shows each year but some are specifically just for us girls!  This week was my choice and I knew they would love it COLDPLAY!!!  My oldest and I have seen them before but my younger didn’t want to go until after I’d already bought the tickets.  Tough lesson for her to learn.  So this year when I asked if she wanted to go she said yes right away.  We’ve been looking forward all summer to this and they did not dissapoint!  

IT WAS AWESOME!!!  Now, I am an old lady and I’ve been to hundreds of concertsthis one was one of the best.  They are so full of energy and have such a zeal for life!  They always are 100on!  Their show is so interactive, with hught bouncy balls and confettie cut outs but this year they really outdid theirselves.  They had these bracelet bands that lit up with the beat of the music.  They were called xlyo bands and it was just AMAZING!!!!  I am attaching pics and trying to attach a video so you can see what I mean.  I can't get the videos i took to attach here.  That's too bad because it is sooo cool to see them in action.  If you have a chance to see them you simply must.  It is such a fun night.  If you arent a fan, you will become one.  We had such a great night.  They are still talking about it today!)

xlyo bands off...

xylo bands on!!! How cool is this???
xylo bands in action

Here you can see the xylo bands and the confetti butterflies

look in the middle...see that platform?  That is Chris Martin!  In the middle of the crowd  in the middle section of the stadium.  They left the stage and went up to the middle section and into the crowd.  These guys are full of heart!

My favorite part of the coffee mug.  I'm enjoying my coffee as I type.  I had to take two shots so you could see the entire mug.  Now my favorite mug!!!

And to end it all, (literally) last night was the last night of cake class.  We learned to make the Wilton rosenot as easy as I thought it was going to be.  My icing was to stiff so my  roses didn’t have a smooth edge.  Needless to say, I was getting upset.  It ended up being ok and I am proud of my final creation but I am going to practice, practice, practice to improve on those flowers!!  ANDI think that I am going to sign up for the next class she is offering which is fondant.  Not sure yetWhat do ya think I should do?

I hope everyone has had a good week and is going to have an even better weekend!
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“you just want somebody listening to what you sayit doesn’t matter who you aaaarrrrreeeeee!!”

Monday, June 25, 2012

Make it Monday

So today I am going to attempt to join up with  4th grade Frolics for the “Make it Monday” linky party.  I am going to share two “make its”; one for school and one for home.  Many of you know that I’ve been going through my Pinterest boards and recording what I need to do/make/find from my pinnings.  I just got finished with my primary literacy board.  One of the things that I wanted to do was to make a few of the games I found there.  Over the year I’ve been saving empty Kool-Aid and French’s fried onion containers to use as game storage.  I think they are perfect because little hands will fit inside them without getting stuck. They are also a good height for objects like cards, Popsicle sticks, or anything that might be a part of a game.  I decided to make my version of Scoop and Spell that I pinned from pinterest and my take on the Scatergories game.  I call it Big Beginnings. I use the alpha die and timer from the Scatergories game and make up my own categories for the students to use. Unfortunately my printer is broken and I can't print out my categories that I put inside the container so there isn't a picture to show you.  When I can I'll re-post with a picture of the recording slips.  Maybe that will be my next Friday Freebie! For Big Beginnings, I put the dice and timer, a few golf pencils, and the recording slips in the container.  For Scoop and Spell, I put the tiles from old Scrabble games, golf pencils, and the recording slips for spelling words into the container.  All you need right inside and you are ready to go!!!  

 Sometimes I print things from the computer to make labels and signs for my games/stations but today I was in the mood for scrapping (and my printer is on the blink).  It’s because of another project I am working on as a gift for another cousin’s wedding present.  But that will be another post…
First, I measured the containers and cut scrapbook paper to match the size of the containers.
Next, it was time to put the papers together to make a label.  To fancy it up a bit, I cut some smaller papers and layered them upon one another.  I used roller tape to adhere the papers to each other. 
Then, I used scrapbook alphabet stickers to spell the title and attached it to the front of the papers. 

Finally, I put the finished label onto the container using scrapbook roller tape.  There you go!!!!!  Games to go in the word work section!!  Soo0o easy, literally it only took me 20 minutes for each game! 

I am enjoying my cake decorating class so much that I decided to share the recipe for buttercream icing that I use to decorate my cakes/cupcakes. It isn’t anything I’ve made up.  It is like everything else I do, search the Internet and blogs, try it the way I read it, then tweak it to meet my own needs.  So the original recipe I found called for shortening only.  But hello…it’s BUTTERCREAM ICING… not shortening icing!!  So I decided to mix both.  I mean, the icing has to have butter in it (like Paula Dean says…use your best PD voice, ”ya’ll everything is better with butter!”)  Anywho~here is the recipe:
1 cup (stick) of butter – has to be real butter
1/2 stick of shortening – I used Crisco
1t vanilla (I use the clear so the icing comes out whiter, however, regular     vanilla doesn’t really make the icing dark)
4 c confectioners (powdered) sugar
2 TBL milk or water
*** one pinch (really just a pinch) of salt to cut sweetness
 Blend butter and shortening together until very creamy (about 3-4 minutes).  Add vanilla and mix one more minute.  Then add sugar, one cup at a time.  You’ll need to scrap the sides and bottom between each cup.  After you mix in all 4 cups add the milk one TBL at a time until you get the consistency you desire.  ***If you want to cut the sweetness, add a pinch of sugar.  BUT, blend really well (at least another minute) so you can’t taste the salt. If you are using it to ice the cake only, I’d use both tablespoons of milk.  If you are going to decorate using tips, I might only use 1 tablespoon because you will want a stiff consistency.  

To make it chocolate (like the one I am posting) 

You’ll need ¾ cup of cocoa or 3 squares melted.  NOTE:  You will need to double the amount of milk you add.  What I do is add the cocoa to the bowl and after I add the one cup of milk I add a TBL of milk too.  For some reason the cocoa makes the mixture sooooooooo stiff.  If you are using a hand mixer get ready for a workout!!  It’s times like this that a stand mixer is pretty awesome! Well stand mixers are pretty awesome all the time.  No question there… The icing is really great.  Don’t forget the pinch of salt if you want to curb the super sweet taste.  

I hope you all enjoy these shares and hop on over to 4th grade frolics to check out more!!!

4th grade Frolics

PS... I just saw that Tonya at Tonya's Treats for Teachers is having a fun give away to celebrate her 200th follower.  She is sooo talented and funny.  Please stop by and enter!  I've followed for quite sometime ever since she started her first website.  She is a part of the pro-teacher community and that's how I learned of her.  You won't be disappointed!!! Treats for Teachers

Have a great day!
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"Lift me up LOVE from the bottom up onto the top LOVE, everyday"

Friday, June 22, 2012

Freebie Friday

I hope this isn't too late but I wanted to try to post a freebie for everyone each Friday.  I had such wonderful intentions of doing this much earlier in the day however my babies didn't want that to happen.  As I posted last week, everyone is sick here.  Most are feeling much better but my 9 week old isn't feeling up to par yet.  I took her back to the doctor today to have her looked at (for my own piece of mind really).  That took up most of the afternoon.  And she has been so fussy that I've been unable to do much of anything else except hold her.  This makes the 2 year old very cranky too. She is very gifted at being 2...she even knows how to cry, suck a pacifier (which she has NEVER EVER taken), and crawl on the floor.  I lucky am I??? Anywho, this is the first time I've had to sit down and do this.

My Friday Freebie is a spelling activity that I've used for years.  It isn't my complete original thought.  I found a couple of great things out there on the WWW and I tweaked it and made it my own.  Isn't that what we all do...sweet thieves we are!!!  I call it super speller's choice.

>Click here:  super speller's choice

 Just some thoughts and ideas on how I use this in my classroom.  
This is my take on trying to make spelling homework fun.  I always hated spelling as a child because I am mildly dyslexic and it was torture writing spelling 5 times each much less take a practice spelling test and the real test too.  When I moved to second grade I noticed spelling was a huge area that needed attention.  Along with word work, we practice super spelling!  I try to incorporate different word work in my Daily 5 working with words area but kids also use spelling task cards that I got from unseen001 on pro-teacher.  I found that they really like doing these task cards so I decided to use them for their homework.  I searched the Internet and found the spelling contract and speller’s choice activities and thought it would be a perfect way for me to combine the task cards and homework.  I change the activities each 9 weeks (or more often if I think it needs to be).  Now, unfortunately I don’t remember who I originally saw speller’s choice from.  Since that first time, I know that many people do speller’s choice.  If you are that person, comment and let me know so I can give you your props!!
We get a new spelling list every Monday.  I teach a mini lesson on the spelling TEKS for that list then we practice writing them in our spelling spiral (just a plain 15c spiral).  The speller’s choice page gets stapled onto the front cover so students (and parents) have a reminder of what to do.  They work on an activity each night and the entire notebook gets turned in for a homework grade on Friday morning.  Spelling tests are later in the day on Friday.
Enjoy!  I hope you can use this somehow in your class!

Have a wonderful weekend everyone!

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"Could I have been anyone other than me?"  

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

A cool find, Daily 5-Ch. 2 and cake class

So I was at Wal-mart yesterday grabbing a few things for my cake decorating class and found these cool things that will help me to cross off a pinterest inspired classroom management item.  One of my class helper jobs is the clean up crew.  There is a pin that uses these raggedy type gloves to polish furniture, dust etc. I found finger ones!!!  I'm going to have my clean up crew use these to clean my dry erase boards which are always so hard to clean.  I think these will do the trick!!!  Fuzzy fingers, only $1.97...score!!!

Daily 5 Chapter 2
I have to laugh at myself.  As I begin this chapter of the study, I was noticing my “highlighting” of the important aspects of this chapter from my previous reads.  Haha!   More than half of the chapter appears to be highlighted (and there is an embarrassing amount of coffee/diet coke stains in this book…am I really that messy??!!!)!  I was touched, however, at the first comment in this chapter.  “What beliefs influence the decisions you make in your classroom?  Are there foundational principles you cling to that support your teaching strategies and learning for all students?” (pg. 18 of the Daily 5 book).  You know for me, self-reflection is so important in my journey as a teacher.  I feel it to be the tool that I use to guide myself to become a responsible and independent learner, therefore a better teacher.  Like my students, I have the need to grow and become better and self-reflection is one way I do that.  I am so glad to have reread that statement.  With some help from Mel D. at Seusstastic Classroom Inspirations and her study questions, this is how I decided to answer that question.  I know that the questions are out of numerical order but I wanted to answer question 3 first.  Yes…I know… but I’ve been known to color outside of the lines at times  ;)

Questions to Ponder
3. How do the foundational principles of the Daily 5 structure (trust, choice, community, sense of urgency, and stamina), align with your beliefs that support your teaching strategies and the decisions that you make about student learning?  I’ve always believed that in order to teach a child you must first have their heart and their trust (yep, we do CKHs).  How can I expect a child to believe in me and do what I ask of them if I don’t have a relationship with them or if they don’t trust me?  If those two things are in place then 3/4ths of the battle is done.  Most everything else comes naturally.  So when I read D5, I felt like this was invented just for me.  I believe that all children come to school wanting to be the best, do their best and to succeed.  My job is to make sure that happens. The strategies I use to assure that all 22 kiddos get what they need are very similar to those in D5 especially the community and sense of urgency aspects.  I’ve always tried to teach “the why”.  If they understand why what they are doing now is important down the road, they always seemed to try harder and to accomplish more.  I’ve also tried very hard to establish a strong class community.  Students learn more when they have relationships with their classmates.  I mean, how many times have you looked up to find a table of kids discussing their learning instead of coming to you?  That happens all the time, why not USE that, I say. 

1 .What goals do you have for your classroom as you work to implement the principles and foundations of the Daily 5 discussed in chapter 2? What support do you need to do this?  I know that I need to work/improve upon a few areas for next year. I also know that I tend to set too many goals and I don’t accomplish them fully.  So I am going to focus on 3 areas: Choice, Staying out of their way, and trust.  I think I did an ok job of this the last time I taught 2nd grade but there are things I need to address in each area. 
·         My students had no trouble with making choices at first but toward the end of the year I noticed that they were choosing what their friends were choosing or whatever was the easiest to do.  They didn’t make a choice based on their own needs.  I am going to focus on having the students refocus on their individual goals and make their choices accordingly.  The sisters talk about questions that students need to ask themselves to assure that they are working best for themselves.  I want to make sure to teach those questions and how to focus on goals.  Hopefully that will curb the lack of motivation I saw.
·         I need to learn to stay out of their way in the sense that I do sometimes comment on what their work habits look like in each round.  I also find myself over sensitive to if they have really done what they are supposed to be doing in each place.  I know that their classmates are supposed to help with this (the whole community thing) but sometimes they are the one that is their partner in crime.  Plus it’s hard to let go of that teacher control.  “What if they aren’t doing what they are supposed to”! “What if my principal comes in and sees them not engaged!!!”  What if, what if…..  you know what I mean?
·         That leads to my other focus area of trusting the students to DO WHAT THEY ARE SUPPOSED TO BE DOING!!!!!! That is such a hard thing for me.  I think though that if I really clearly set forth the expectations, model what each area is supposed to look like and practice enough like the book suggests things will be better this year.  My kids will be able to manage themselves, build independent behaviors and will be trusted to do what they are supposed to be doing each round.  I will be there for guidance like I’m supposed to be!  SUPPORT?  I think that as long as my principal buys into what I'm doing I'll have the support I need.  Of course, parents are also going to have to jump on board.  I feel pretty secure in saying that I think I have all the materials and space I need for this.

2. What stands out as the most significant aspects of this chapter?  To me the most significant thing that I’ve taken away from this chapter is that I have the chance to help develop life-long learners that are independent, self-sufficient, and motivated.  All I have to do is follow the VERY SIMPLY PLANNED structure of the daily 5.  It is this structure built around trust, choice, community, sense of urgency and stamina that will also allow me to reach the ultimate goal of seeing all my students either is a small instructional group or a one on one situation.  So simple, yet so complex…

Finally,  I started taking a cake decorating class with my Momma and it is so much fun!  I only have one class left :(  I'm thinking I'm gonna take the next class because I'm having so much fun with it.  Tonight was cupcake night.  And making flowers night. I happen to have a thing for cupcakes and I want to learn how to make those really great cupcakes like on Cupcake Wars!!   It was the most challenging class so far and I am going to have to practice for sure to get those little flowers just right!  I'll post a few pics that show the final products.  Enjoy!!!

making chocolate buttercream for something new instead of white

getting ready to begin
my Momma trying to make drop flowers (they were hard!!)

our finished products
This is the one I chose to eat tonight as I worked on my blog ;0)  YUMMY!!!!

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"Sweet like candy to my soul"

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Ain't it funny how time slips away

Well this weekend it has been one thing after another at my house and all of them have decreased my ability to (1) sleep, (2) focus and (3) GET ON MY COMPUTER!!!  First of all, everyone (including me) is sick at my house.  I have no idea how it happened.  All the kids are home with me not at daycare!!! Can't blame that.  I had to take E (my 8 week old) and little C (the 2 year old) to the doctor, yuck!  The older C and D are sick but didn't require doctors visits because I knew by the earlier visit this was a viral sickness.  Then, worst of all, my hubby came home with it.  Now, I don't know about you all but my hubs having a sickness is way worse than all 4 kids combined practically.  He is the worse kinda sick person.  He heaves and hoes and complains and so on... Needless to say I'm exhausted and that didn't include the wedding, 2 birthday celebrations and Fathers Day!!!!  So all that to say I am sorry for not posting over the weekend. I'm still going to use the "I'm new to blogging" card to get me out of some things I do wrong!  hee hee :)  Plus, my cousin got married on Saturday and we went to that wedding.  It was nice.  An outdoor wedding underneath a beautiful, sprawling tree beside the San Jacinto Monument...until the only rain storm we will probably have this month hit!!!  Sad, but funny in a way.  They had a great sense of humor about it!  Her hubs is Scottish and he just assured her this was true Scottish weather.  Also, my Daddy and my FIL had birthday's within 3 days of each other so yesterday we had a double celebration for their birthdays and for Father's Day!  Busy, busy, busy while sick, sick, sick.  Oh well, you know how it is........

First things first...I started going through my pinterest boards to better organize all the wonderful ideas, charts, lessons, projects etc. that I want to get ready for summer and for next school year. Remember the binder from above?  It was such a great idea...I thought.  "I know" I said, "Put those ideas in a binder and you'll be ready to start those projects!!!!"

WEEEELLLLLLL...word to the wiser than me - be strong and stay focused to only work on what is on YOUR boards.  I started strong and was quite proud of myself.  But I'd find that I couldn't quite remember what the pin was about so I started clicking on links and going to other's boards.  They had new pins and I began pinning away and ended up wasting 2 hours on NEW PINNING!!!  So I am going to tackle it again this time with resolve to only look at my boards!!!!!  Or else I'll never get my ideas down.  One of the things I am working on though is my Teacher Binder for the year.  Very inspired from pinterest and blogs I follow.  I'll post as soon as I am finished.  I am trying something new which is to combine my teacher important information and student important information in one binder.  I usually keep this information in 3 separate binders.  One includes all my stuff, one for girls and one for boys information.  In the student binder I keep everything for that student under their tab.  Their information, scores on assessments, anecdotal and behavior notes, parent calls...everything.  So I don't know about going all in one book.  I think it'll work though because I am going to do something a little different with anecdotal notes this year.  I'm following Daily 5 and C.A.F.E strictly this year so I'm attempting a pensive.

Speaking of D5, remember that the daily 5 book study is still going on.  check out Mel D's blog Seusstastic Classroom Inspirations to get the schedule for 1st and 3rd grade.  The following is who I follow for 2nd grade.  Check out teaching with style.  She will do the second chapter too then we fill hop over to someone new the following week!!

One of the people I follow on pinterest is Tonya from tonya's treats for teachers3.html.  She has the most incredible ideas.  I've followed her on pro-teacher, when she started her website, and now in blogland and on pinterest.  You must go over and check her out! Plus she has a super cute scratch off give away! And that just so happens to be on my classroom management board from pinterest! hopping is good for you!!!  Come on over to our side....we have cookies...or in my case...cake!  

I thought I'd share with you my newest hobby...cake decorating.  I bought my Mom a decorating course for Mother's day and I decided to take it with her.  Best. Decision. Ever!!!  I am not really creative in the crafty sense.  I can't design, sew, do crafty things, etc.  But I really enjoy scrapbooking and now cake decorating!!!  I might not be good at it but I really enjoy it.  The cake decorating was soooo  much fun.  I guess the whole idea of completing something that makes others happy is what makes it so much fun for me.  Anywho...I hope you enjoy the pictures.  My class is on Wednesday night so I'll post my new pictures from class on Thursday.  It's cupcake day!! :)  My favorite!!!  YUM! 
First cake we made.  Little C wanted the fish!
Funny about this... In order to make the fish cake, I had to cut off the tops of the two cake pieces.  I have trouble throwing anything away so, yes, I put the two tops together and made the backpack cake for Little C.  (crazy, I should see me with scrapbook paper scraps)

This is the cake I made for my Daddy and FIL's birthdays.  

Have a super day!
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Friday, June 15, 2012

Summer is here....uggh

Summer is finally setting in at mi casa. What I mean is that my two teenage kids are staying up until all hours of the night and sleeping till the afternoon, then waking up eating me out of house and home, then complaining of being bored.  Aaahhh yes, SUMMER IS HERE.  I offer the normal suggestions of things they can do and all of them are lame I guess because I get the eye roll or the "well maybe".  I'm thinking that maybe I'll revert to their childhood and bring back the "I'm bored" jar.  You know the one...where you as the parent put ideas of things to do in the jar for them to choose from when they are bored.  My ideas are ones like - clean the bathrooms, rearrange your drawers, prepare dinner, all the fun stuff in a household.  It usually didn't take very long for them to find other things that occupied their time.  Maybe it will work again!  All kidding aside, I'd love to be able to go and blow all day but it isn't possible right now. Hey!  I have my hands full with them, a 2 year old and an 8 week old.  I can only go and blow on a specific schedule! 
I started thinking about my girls and their views/ideas of summer and thought "funny how different we view summer"?  I mean hey, we both view summer in some of the same wonderful ways.  Sleeping late (yes!), hanging in pjs all day if need be (yes!yes!), time to catch up on things like reading, computer, music(yes! yes! yes!) but the difference comes in with this:  their idea of summer is to hang out, eat alot, and do something different every night.  I wish I could be like this too.  And I try! Boy do I try to do this.  I'm pretty successful the first weeks of summer.   I do just that-lay around, eat everything, hit the computer (notice no cleaning, organizing, or repairs make the list.  It never does.  That is a big problem of mine ;) ) then the teaching brain hits me.  I can't help it.  I guess it's because of the above mentioned computer time.  I love looking at everyone's blogs and pinterest to get caught up on what I've missed and to get great ideas then it just hits.  I can't help myself.  I have to "work".  :/ Even if it's just pinning, blogging, or website stalking I have to do it.  And this year it is WORSE!  I had a baby 8 weeks ago.  Unfortunately I had high blood pressure to such an extent that I was put on complete bed rest 3 weeks before she was born.  Then she was born 3 weeks premature so was off on maternity leave for the last two months of school.  I haven't worked since the end of March.!!!!!  So in my brain I feel like it is really the end of July since I was away from school for so long. I feel like I need to be doing something to get ready for school! OH NO!!!  It's just around the corner!!  better get moving!!  Need to start making things, printing things, AAAHHHHHH!!!!!  Then I take a breath and realize I am acting kind of like a lunatic!  I thought "what can I do to help curb this obsessive behavior??"  I decided blogging would help...writing one, not stalking them heehee!  Another was to fix up a binder to record all the things I found on these computer quests of mine.  I'll put what I want to do for next year in it.  I will use my computer spurts to be productive and get work done at the same time!!  So what I'll do is blog about my binder projects.  Maybe ya'll will get some cool ideas and hopefully share any thoughts or ideas you might have with me! it goes!!!  I started with pinterest and used my education boards as the tabs in the binders.  I am going to go through each board and write in the labeled section that matches, what I want to make, read, research, etc.  Pinterest is awesome and I am kinda addicted to it BUUUTTTT I never follow through with the things I pin.  Anyone else have this problem?  I am hoping the binder will help me.  Actually it already has!  I made these really cute cupcakes for my cousins couple wedding shower and it was from pinterest!  If you are interested in following my pinterest boards here's the link   Now I must warn you, there might be some pins that, while I find them extremely funny, you might find them offensive.  Sorry in advance.  My philosophy is don't look!  Hopefully not though!!    
So see...binder = a good thing!  
I am also going to write the ideas I get from blogging in the binder too.  Hopefully it will be a win-win for all who want to look at it!!!  I'm still in the process of recording ideas from pinterest and that might take a while as I have lots of pins.  I'll post pics as I get projects complete.  Any comments are encouraged!  These are of the binder itself...
 It's hard to see but the page has a tab on the side and it says primary literacy and Daily5/CAFE.  I used some scrapbooking items that I am trying to get rid of because I don't use them in my scrapbooks (another obsession of mine)!!  Have a great day everyone!

Oh by the way! Tonya at is having her first give away!  Go check out her blog.  It is awesome too!

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"Celebrate we will, cuz life is short but sweet for certain"

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Let's get this party started...or try to at least! and Daily 5 book study

Today is the day that I enter the world that I have stalked for so long...blogging!  I stalk certain blogs DAILY and love everything I see.  I have learned so many things and gotten such great ideas from all of you in bloggerville. Now that school is out and I've a little (not a lot) time, I've been catching up on all the blogs I enjoy visiting.  As luck would have it, there is a Daily 5 book study going on hosted by Mel D at seusstastic classroom inspirations and many other people and I really wanted to be a part of it.  But, you have to have a blog to respond in a meaningful way. Leaving a comment wasn't what I wanted to do.

It was just the push I needed to get me started.  I've wanted to write my own blog but was scared to tell the truth.  I have no idea what I am doing!  I'm sure there is some sort of blog "code" that I am not aware of and I am sure I'll break a bunch of rules as I start.  I'll go ahead and apologize now and ask that you leave me a comment and let me know the way it's supposed to be done :)

Daily 5 book study

If you haven't read the Daily 5 by the wonderful "two sisters" Gail Boushey and Joan Moser you might consider adding it to your summer reads list.  It is THE resource I use for teaching literacy in my room.  The book is a guide to creating in your students independence as readers and writers.  They are immersed in reading, and take their literacy learning into their own hands and this offers a powerful opportunity for success in students' educational journey, in my opinion.  Mel D posed these questions to get our creative juices flowing and here is my response to these questions!

1. On pages 4-6, the authors present two different pictures of their classrooms. In thinking about and reflecting on your own practice, how would you characterize your literacy block? Does it look more like the first or second scenario, or is it somewhere in between? How will you change it?
Before I started daily 5 I think I would say my room was somewhere in between.  I used workstations with activities I selected.  I tried to use the games/activities we had used during lessons that were literacy based but still "fluff work" was there too. Now, with the d5 choices my students are engaged the entire time but with meaningful, literacy building activities.   My role as teacher has changed too.  Before everything was dependent on me.  Now I am merely a guide, helping when needed (and that is rare) and I am able to focus all my attention to groups which is what I wanted all along!  Another change that I love is the fact that my room flows so peacefully!  I know that sounds crazy...22 second graders, choosing and reading around the room on their own peaceful???!!!  Well, it is.  They take this very seriously.  They know the expectation and what the outcome will be at the end of the year and they are all over it!!! They feel grown up and look forward to d5 time each day.

2. The typical teacher is very busy having students do lots of different activities. How is what you are having students do now in your classroom creating quality readers and writers? 
BD5 I did work stations.  I had such a diverse group, with levels that ranged from very low to very high, that I had 7 small reading groups.  Small group instruction=workstation time in my room.  Those stations included just about anything that I thought were worthy of time for the kids. I tried to include some kind of reading at every station but there might be math or science or art as well.   It usually always included some kind of product because if they weren't busy they (a) weren't working/learning, (b) weren't going to do what was expected of them at that station and (c) their behavior was out of control and I'd have to stop my groups to get them back on task again! At first I was gung-ho in taking all their "products" and looking at them, sharing them, etc. then the first couple of weeks ended and "real school" got going.  Product check quickly went out the door. Like the sisters, I was exhausted and out of time because I was making more work for myself and for the kids. two words - busy work - that's what my kids got.  D5 is the complete opposite.  Now, after D5,  I am teaching my mini lessons and the kids are getting to practice using their choice of focus area. I know that during my literacy block that is exactly what is happening...literacy!  Reading in every area of my room.  They get what they need and lots of it!  My kids actually look forward to reading instruction everyday.  No more groans when I say "come to the carpet".  It is AAAAAMAZING!!!!!

What sets the Daily 5 structure apart from what you are doing in your classroom?
D5 components take literacy components we must focus on and teach the kids how to use that component to become independent in their learning.  I thought I was doing that.  I really had good intentions of making workstations a place where they could practice our mini lessons but it was easier to just put "fun stuff" there so I could have all my attention devoted to my groups.  But my kids were doing just that "fun stuff" and their behavior and progress showed it!  I knew that I was spinning wheels but I had always taught using centers, then workstations with me in control because I knew best!!!  I didn't know what else to do.  One sleepless night (insomnia happens frequently with me) I ran across the sisters while surfing the net.  I was blown away and how SIMPLE, SIMPLE, SIMPLE it all sounded. And successful too! I wouldn't have to get anything together for the next day?  I wouldn't have to have a "product" for every stations? I would be able to see my kids working and enjoying reading/writing?  sign me up!!!  I bought the book the next day and read the entire thing!  The d5 is different from what I was doing because it took what I was trying to do which was build strong readers and had them do just that 'READ'-not do worksheets, not do games, not do things that would waste their time as learners.  Every minute spent in d5 is spent on practicing and building their literary focus making them stronger, self-sufficient students!  That was a huge difference because I, on the other hand, was doing the opposite for them.  Wasting their precious time and making them dependent on me and my choice for what was best for them.  All that rambling to say this...this is meaningful learning at its finest. Every student will see success because they have ownership in the steps.  They choose what they need and how to achieve what is expected during each round.  They are accountable and they meet expectations because of that.  
Daily 5 has changed the way I teach.  It allows me and my students to flourish.  We are all happy and enjoy what we do at school and isn't that what we want for our little ones and for ourselves???  I think y e s!!  I won't ever teach literacy any other way not after seeing how powerful this really is!!  You have to give it a try!  Hop on over and visit Mel D at seusstastic classroom inspirations.

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