Sunday, June 30, 2013

Back to School Mentor Texts

Already???  I can not believe I'm writing about back to school, even though it's been on my mind since I locked my classroom door June 8th.  We return on August 14th, and the girls at Collaboration Cuties have spoken, so I guess it really is time to decide which of my PILE of back to school books is my one and only favorite.

Man, every Sunday I struggle to pick just one...I know the first book I read every single year is Chrysanthemum, but is it my favorite?  Lemme tell you what we do while I think about that.
I read Chrysanthemum, which some of my students already know and begin to whine because I'm going to read them a book they've heard before...GASP!  Reread a favorite book?  Um, yep!  What they don't know is that whenever I read, I use character voices, and because the characters in this book just happen to be mice, well, my Miss Mouse voice comes out, and it's very high and very squeaky, and the kids are instantly engaged even if they've heard the story before (oh my!).  This is usually the first time we've sat on the rug in my classroom, and I go over the expectations for rug behavior, including how to listen, before I start.  I LOVE this quote, but have no idea whose it is, "We listen with our eyes and ears and hearts and minds."  I have a poster that illustrates it perfectly, too.

After reading, we each talk about our own names.  I get the ball rolling, because I have a slightly embarrassing, somewhat funny story or two about my name.  First, my first name isn't Brooke, it's Sherron (that's pronounced (share-en), pardon the limited phonemic coding capabilities of my computer, but I think you get it).  My parents spelled it that way because the in South, Sharon is often pronounced (Sha-run), long a sound very emphasized, and they didn't want that.  So, my first story is about that.  During my high school graduation, my name was announced as "ShA-RON (long a, emphasis on RON) Book (like a person would be named book!) Boling" (my maiden name), to which I had to march across the stage and accept my diploma, all while feeling like a professional basketball player and idiot mixed into one.  My other story goes back to middle school, where upon arriving on the first day, I realized that Sherron Brook Boling was enrolled as a BOY.  Yep, I was in boys' PE and wood-shop.  It was suggested that I might consider adding an e to my middle name, which I did, unofficially, on the spot.  The counselor took me out of boys' gym, but suggested that I might like wood-shop, especially given the fact that art, music, and drama were full.  I stayed in it, and planned and built the best damn ahem...darn Styrofoam house Mr. Murray had ever seen.  The boys were amazed.  My father, the architect-bashing electrical engineer, was proud.  My mother, the interior designer, was impressed.  I had a blast!
After my dumb stories, kids are warmed up and ready to talk about why they like or don't like their names.  Then we make their names for my word wall.  I have them already written out in my best "fattie" outlined handwriting, and let them decorate them to represent their personalities for homework that first night.  Of course, I weave in the intended purpose of the story, which is kindness and friendship, acceptance of others, and all the rest.  I really do love the story, and even my most reluctant listeners usually do, too, by the end of the lesson!
Okay, then, I guess that really is my favorite back to school book.  I love telling about my crazy childhood, and letting my students know that I was once a kid, too, and had to go to school, and that people made fun of me, and that, yes, teachers are...humans (GASP again)!

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Saturday, June 29, 2013

Not Currently July!

I know, but it's okay!  Farley started early, so I'm linking up early...hey, maybe within the first 100 people!

My house is so quiet right now that I can hear only the A/C running and an occasional yawn from LuLu (no, that's not my ugly plaid couch - it's at the lake, and it's already been recovered!).

I just discovered Pixel Paper Prints' store on Etsy.  Y'all, her work is too adorable!  She's also having a sale right now, buy three, get one free.  Here's some cutie-patootie examples.

Oh my!  My washer kind of broke Thursday, and wouldn't drain the water out or spin the clothes dry, but  it's fixed now, and I finally have almost everything dry, but absolutely nothing folded.  There are five loads of clothes in my kitchen awaiting me, yet here I sit! :)

I have to say, I have it pretty good.  I married the love of my life, we have two smart, sweet, beautiful daughters, we're all relatively healthy, live in a nice home, and have immaterial riches galore, including our families, friends, and Heavenly Father.  What more could a girl want?  When I think of how many people there are who live with so little, or who have illnesses, lack of support, or are just going through rough times, my heart nearly breaks!  It's so easy to complain about our little issues, but I, for one, need to remember the bigger picture.

That said, my cell phone is AWFUL!!!  No one can understand a word I say, because of echoing static.  Verizon is aware of this issue with the phone model I have, but they can't fix it.  In fact, after taking out the battery, losing all my contacts, apps, calendar information, etc., they told me they could send me a used replacement, but that it would void my insurance because it would be the second replacement in 12 months.  Really???  So they know the phone is cruddy.  They know they have to replace them all the time.  They can't fix them.  My contract renews next month, but instead of upgrading early, they'd be happy to send me a "new" old phone (again) and void my insurance?  No thanks.

Back off the rant, if you're wondering who all your lovely new followers are on Bloglovin', but you can't view them, set your Bloglovin' account to send you a notification each time someone new follows you via e-mail.  Then you can keep up with who's following you, compare to your Google Reader followers, etc.  That's my big tip...hope someone can use it, and I'm not the last to figure it out! Oh, and one more can get this counter widget to see the number of followers you have.  Just go into the Buttons menu, and choose your color!
 Happy Fourth of July!
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Thursday, June 27, 2013

Gimme Some Bloglovin'!

Gimme some Lovin'!  I'm giving away a $20 gift certificate from my Teachers Pay Teachers store to one lucky follower!  Enter the Rafflecopter Giveaway below to have 25 chances to win!

I know you know by now that Google Reader is bye-bye July first - I've blogged about it here, and so have tons of other bloggers.  The thing is, I don't want to see you go bye-bye, so I'm hoping you'll follow Whooo's in Second on bloglovin'.

Changing is so hard that lots of us bloggers are linking up for a huge giveaway for all of our fabulous followers who make the change, and follow via bloglovin', but that's not all!  All of you who already follow Whooo's in Second on bloglovin' can enter to win, too!  If you haven't switched over yet, it's super-easy.  Just go to the right side of this blog, and click the Bloglovin' button.  From there, Bloglovin' will walk you through a very few very easy steps to set up your Bloglovin' account.  Be sure to leave your Bloglovin' username in the Rafflecopter entry below!

You can even use this link to move all the blogs you follow on Google over to Bloglovin'.  Otherwise, POOF!  They're gone on the first of the month, and you'll need to individually re-follow each one.

By the way, look who else is in on the HUGE giveaway...You can link up, too!

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Monday, June 24, 2013

Mentor Social Studies Text

I'm linking up with Collaboration Cuties for their weekly Mentor Text Linky.  This week's focus is on social studies books.  There are oh, so many I could talk about...a favorite for SC or American history is

The Man Who Loved the Flag by Idella Bodie, but since I don't really teach those subjects any longer, I'll just say that this short non-fiction chapter book, that reads like a novel, is about William Jasper during the American Revolutionary Battle at Fort Moultrie on Sullivan's Island.  He's a little-known hero, until you realize that Jasper County, and many other places in South Carolina are named for him.

Then, there is the almost endless list of Tomie dePaola books, so many possibilities there!

My absolute favorites are centered around Martin Luther King, Jr.  There are two:

I especially love Martin's Big Words, because it's written as though Martin is growing up throughout the book, and his famous quotes are woven throughout the text.  There is a version of this book being read aloud on United Streaming that I adore.  I linked the read-aloud to the picture of the book, but I'm not sure if you'll need a subscription to access the link.  If so, search the title with Scholastic Weston Woods on  There's a copy there, too, although I'm unsure if it's a licensed copy, so I won't attach the link.  The voice-over and the graphics of this particular reading are so moving I can not help but show it to my students!  They are almost moved to tears several times throughout this reading, and we stop the video often to talk about what's being said, what it means, and  what the effects of those particular words were.  After watching, my students write responses describing their feelings during listening.  Then they use these feelings to write about their own dreams for the future.  Click on the My Dream paper below to access your free copy of all three pages in Google Docs!

We usually crack open those two eggs at about this point (you know, the white egg and the brown egg, with the same exact thing inside) to talk about how the outside of something, or someone, doesn't make a whit, a bit of difference.  Thank you, Pinterest!  I show the eggs whole, first, then crack them into two identical bowls to show the inside, and finally swap the bowls around several times, like some kind of carnival-coin-under-the-cup trick, and ask if the kids know which egg came from the brown shell.  Of course they never can, which just proves my point!

Next, I pull out my old, beat-up copy of:

Dear Dr. King is the perfect book for tying in reading response, letter writing, and MLK, Jr. Day.  I have had this book for years, and have read selected letters from children of different ages to my classes each year.  Their letters are amazing, insightful, and inspirational.  Students throughout my teaching years have loved this book so much that it's almost as "real" as that certain bunny from The Velveteen Rabbit!  I have never owned a book that students want to get their hands on more.  My students then write their own letters to Dr. King, to talk about their lives, their experiences with prejudice, and their beliefs about equality.
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Sunday, June 23, 2013

Teachin' Like a Pirate!

I know it's not time for this chapter yet, but there's just something I simply can't wait to share about Dave Burgess'  Long Live the Arts chapter from his book Teach Like a Pirate.  It's "The Picasso Hook"... I absolutely believe with all the passion my inner pirate can muster (is that more of a cowboy word?), that kids benefit from learning with and through the arts!  So, when I asked for some advice at the end of this year on further improving test scores, and was told to stop doing creative projects, I was astounded!
  • First, my class more than doubled test goals in all areas.
  • Second, I had eleven of 22 students (yep, that's half) qualify for the gifted program at our school (I must be doing something right, right?  That's not to mention that from the entire grade, there were 23 students who qualified, meaning again that almost half were my students!).
  • Third, this advice came from a former teacher of the arts.

I thank goodness that I teach in a school with a phenomenal related arts team, with whom I truly feel a sense of collaboration!  Our art teacher and I always talk about how what the two of us are doing can compliment each curriculum, from history and art history relevant to the social studies unit I may be teaching, to science and illustrating animals, habitats, or even changes in states of matter.  Our PE teachers are awesome, allowing me to use equipment like hula hoops to create mini-ecosystems, Frisbees and balls to measure real world distances thrown, kicked, rolled, etc., and figure stats and percentages, or probability.  Our music teacher is wonderful, bringing in songs and instruments from around the world, celebrating cultures and holidays to help students understand that our little town really isn't the center of the universe.  She helps me with recording my students singing, helps me write lyrics to pop music to help them remember key information, and loans me anything I've ever asked for to help teach through the power of music.

I am so very thankful to Mr. Burgess for validating what I do, for permission to integrate the arts into learning, and, mostly, for reigniting my passion for teaching, learning, and continuing to do what I know is right for my students.  Without passion, we have mediocrity, which, as Mr. Burgess points out, never taught anyone anything!  You might notice, Teach Like a Pirate is on my short list of Amazon Recommendations at the bottom of this page.  Having read the entire book in a day and a half, it is the reason I signed up for the Amazon program, giving me the ability to share with you the best books I know.  If it's the only thing you read this summer, be sure you don't miss this must-read!

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Saturday, June 22, 2013

Five for Friday and ME on Facebook?

I'm linking up with Doodle Bugs Teaching for Five for Friday, and it's still Friday, as I write!  That's a first, y'all!

First, I've gone and done it now!  I finally set up a Facebook page for Whooo's in can follow me there, or better yet, Like me.  I love being liked!

Second, I've been at the beach all week, so I was able to actually take time to read something fun...Dorthea Benton "Dottie" Frank's newest book, The Last Original Wife.
Y'all, I love her books, and always have, but last week, I got the chance to go see her in person, listen to her talk about writing and her life, and being from South Carolina, and she is hysterical!  I couldn't wait to get here and start that book, but I  did save it for sitting in the tide pool, which is no small miracle, let me tell you.

Third, I went out in the surf on a sandbar today with a little tiny net and a Solo cup.  I caught a HUGE assortment of sea life and shells galore!  It was like having my own little tide pool habitat for a couple of hours.  Honestly, I just sat and watched all the hermit crabs, mole crabs, sea cucumbers, onion anemones, sea lettuce and so many more unidentifiable plants and animals, that I felt like a little kid again.  I grew up going to Sunset Beach, NC, and still do, but never since I was about eight, can I remember finding the sorts of things I found today!

onion anemone - first I've ever seen!

this is how it looked when it opened
mole crab - I've been catching these
for days, but had to google them to
figure out what they were!
sea cucumber - an eight year old girl had to remind me
what this weird thing was!

Fourth, I finally took out my camera tonight and took some amazing photos of the full moon and the sunset on Sunset!  Both were beautiful, and I'll download those pictures soon to add to this post.

Fifth, I really did start writing this post on Friday, even though it's one a.m. Saturday now, and that, my friends, is a first!

So, it's off to bed - I still have to pack it up for home in the husband may kill me when he realizes how late I've stayed up!
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Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Follow on Bloglovin!

So, Google Reader's going 12 days.  Here's how to keep following my little blog:

Follow my blog with Bloglovin
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Tried it Tuesday...I'm WILD About Animal Print Decor!

Our new theme for next year is PAWS-itively WILD About Learning (super-cute, Teri, and so versatile!), so I've been pinning away all the adorable classrooms I've seen with jungle, zoo, circus, animal, and other WILD decor.  I absolutely L-O-V-E-D (!) my classroom this past year, with its bright polka dots, chevron, and stripes all mixed together with owls, so I decided I just could not start completely over with all new.  I went right out to Wal-Mart to look at fabric in animal prints that would blend with what I already have.  I found the cutest baby-pink zebra flannel, magenta cheetah cotton, and bubble-gum-pink snakeskin print cotton!  They are perfect with my other fabrics, and they even had giraffe ribbon, zebra ribbon, and cheetah ribbon to bring in my lime, yellow, red, and orange.  All-in-all, I think my new WILD decor will go  perfectly...I just have to decide what exactly to make out of the new fabrics!

For my link-up with Fourth Grade Flipper's Tried it Tuesday, I started working on some cute-ness to TRY to get organized for next year.  Click on the icons below to pick up your copies of all I've made so far, including new word wall alphabet headers, leveled library letters, numbers for baskets, tables, supplies, cubbies, or whatever, a welcome banner, blank banner flags, and even labels for THE teacher toolbox everybody's pinned lately.

 Having a WILD Summer,
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Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Mighty Dollar Keeps Me Mighty Organized!

I feel like the luckiest girl ever!  A Mighty Dollar store just opened in our city.  This is no ordinary dollar store.  It's no Dollar Tree, Dollar General, or Just $1.  This store may change my's 20,000 square feet of merchandise at the amazing $1 price point.  No, they're not paying me to write this.  I walked in last week, and my chin hit the floor.  I know I looked like an idiot gawking at all they sold.  I asked three different people if everything was a dollar!  Honestly, I wondered if they'd knocked over a truck to get some of the stuff they have in there!  There's even an entire row of teacher supplies.

I'm linking up with
to tell you how the Mighty Dollar is all about optimum organization!

I spent $40.  Then I went back a few days later and spent another $40, but I have EIGHTY amazing things!

I bought one for every desk in my room.  Now everyone can have a "drawer" to keep his or her pencil box, journal, and Early Birds workbook in, like in K.Mo's Flamingo Fabulous in Second Grade room...only these aren't paper.  They're plastic, and sturdy, and...wait for it...silver!

Really???  This book was marked $14.99!  It rocks, but it rocks hard for a dollar!  Now I know just what to have each and every volunteer do, whether at home, or at school, and that's pretty organized!

Every scrap booking sticker ever made (I think) is there, too, all just a buck a pack...forget the hubby's label-maker...I'm organizing cute this year!

One dollar per basket - I can set up my supplies like Teach Junkie' the picture to read more about her organization - she's amazing!

And, of course, I've run right out and bought one of the teacher toolboxes from Lowe's, and already made my labels.  It's already set up, in fact, with some help from my girls.  So, even though summer's only three days old for me, I'm already organizing my plan for next year!

Getting Mighty Organized,
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