Thursday, January 30, 2014


Really? Y'all know the stories: the south shuts down from even the threat of snow. Everyone rushes the grocery stores, buying up all the milk and bread, shelves emptied in mere minutes! That was Tuesday. Half an inch of snow and two days later, we're still out of school, and going in late tomorrow. {CRAZY!}

While we've been "stranded" (not at all), I've made more cups of hot chocolate than I can count, watched my girls try to sled down a grassy, barely snowy hill (they had a blast), and tried like crazy to figure out how to combine the 100th Day of School and Chinese New Year in one school day, with a two-hour delay. I've had a diagnostic mammogram and ultrasound, while praying and thanking God for the all clear report. I've arranged and re-arranged flowers for my mom, taught her to make a deco-mesh heart wreath, and cooked, cleaned, and washed clothes. I've arranged furniture, on paper, in our new little rental house, visited the Goodwill and Miracle Hill looking for bathroom storage, and almost convinced my sixth grader that "old lady wisteria wallpaper" will be beautiful in her new room. (It's only a year, dear!)

I have had time to be a wife, mom and woman, and I have loved it!

I've also started working on a new unit about telling time, using a strategy one of my second graders taught me! I'm excited to finish it soon, and share it with you. Here's a sneak peek:

Wha? You'll have to wait to see what that whole yard mess is about, but trust me, I showed it to my third grader, and she caught on immediately!

It's been so long since I've posted that I have way more than Five for a Friday, but I'll show you a few tonight and link up officially tomorrow.

My 2013 Secret Resolution: fit in Miss Me jeans (done)!

Ran right into the car in front of mine, and rode in a Police Cruiser
to a corner market to stay warm. Haven't seen my car since!

Learned to use Solo cups to make jewelry!

Realized I LOVE clear Solo cup jewelry, and
realized it would make a great physical
changes in matter activity!

Submitted my very first Donors Choose Project Request! I can't wait to hear if it's approved for potential funding...I'll keep you posted.


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Monday, January 20, 2014

A Day Our Way & A Peek at Our Week

I'm linking up with Where the Wild Things Learn and Mrs. Wills' Kindergarten to share how a typical day is scheduled (you know, the way you plan for it to be, the way you want it to be, the way it needs to be in order to get through all the content, but not necessarily the way it IS), and my visual plans for the week.
So, in an ideal world, on an ideal day, my class and I would be able to stick to this schedule perfectly. Where was that world again? Really, we do a pretty good job of staying on track. We've recently begun the Daily Five, so introducing, setting expectations for, and practicing that has been a huge focus since Christmas Break. I'm required to teach reading through LLI (Leveled Literacy Intervention), because of the special class our district has funded for low-level second grade readers. All of the science and social studies is integrated throughout LLI, so all I teach (officially) is math and language arts each day. Of course, we all teach those magical moments when students bring up an amazing opportunity for us to go off the page, off the schedule, and bring enlightenment to our kiddos. They're kind of what we live for, right? I live and teach in The South, so I go with my class to lunch, and recess, and dismissal, and I have hall duties in the mornings and afternoons. No aides for all that down here! We're used to it, but we read about those of you who have lunch "breaks" and recess "breaks", and we're a teeny bit jealous. Did someone mention unions? They're illegal here! I actually like eating with my class. It gives us all a chance to interact in a much more social way, chatting about our interests outside of school, and really getting to know each other, all while teaching a little about table manners.
Now that you've seen the perfect day, here's a peek at my perfectly short week!
In math this week, we are continuing to study 2-digit subtraction. I'm backing away from the textbook for a bit to reteach the basics, using my own unit, Subtraction Animal Action. It includes every strategy I could come up with, mini-poster reminders of each, and examples and practice for each strategy, and I'm hoping it's what my kiddos need to lay a better foundation than jumping in with both feet. We tried that last week, and I ended up teaching math for TWO HOURS one day, getting through FOUR problems together, with my modeling base tens block representation on the Polyvision board, while students worked with partners, basically copying my every move and then writing the corresponding steps on paper. YIKES! Although it was long and laborious, no one seemed frustrated, so we just kept working as I thought they'd catch on to the algorithm of regrouping. They definitely understood the need, but I'm not so sure they could actually do any problems independently. You can click on the picture below to check out this unit on Teachers Pay Teachers.
My mom volunteers on our crazy Tuesdays - if you look closely, you'll see that I wouldn't be able to begin to teach anything until 12:55 on Tuesdays, which certainly doesn't give me time for my three LLI Levels, much less those and math, so I decided to let S.T.E.M. be our math and my mom be our language arts. The kids love her, and just about knock her down every week when they come in from recess and see her there! This week, I fell in love with Deanna Jump's Sneezy the Snowman ideas, but needed to bump them up a little from kindergarten to second grade, so I created my own, inspired by her. I just hope the book I ordered comes in time!

I also have a volunteer mom who comes on Wednesday afternoons. She's wonderful - flexible, willing to anything I need or ask, great with keeping the kids on task, showing them how to play new station games, etc.

On Thursday afternoons, I have a new volunteer grandmother who's a retired teacher! She wants to help with reading, especially focusing on Accelerated Reader. I'm excited, because I have computers on again, off again, depending on whether our laptop lab is being used for MAP testing. When it is, I have no computers in my room, and have to send my students to the library to take their A/R tests. While it is workable, I have no idea what really happens while they are gone, how long they're actually in the library vs. wandering the halls, how well they attend to the test, etc. Although I'll have four laptops again beginning this week, I know the accountability factor will go up about 500% with our new A/R volunteer! She can help with login problems, make sure the kids are really reading before attempting the tests, referee the kids' "hawking" over computers, and probably even keep other students on track with their Daily Five while I meet with small groups. BONUS!!!

So, there it is. A look at our day, our week, and my little dream-world of plans.
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Sunday, January 12, 2014

MLK,Jr., Day Five: Organization & Visual Plans

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s birthday is this Wednesday. Of course, it's celebrated next Monday, but I'll be focusing much of my teaching on MLK this week, so that my kiddos know why they are out of school next week!

As a Southern white girl, I really never learned about Dr. King in school. As a Southern white teacher, I began my career in a school populated by mostly poor, African American children, and I began to become very interested in Dr. King that first year of teaching. I found the coolest book that year - Letters to Dr. King - and I read it with such empathy that I shared it with my class. I've done so ever since. That book is one of letters written by children in the 1990's to Dr. King. Many talk about how things have changed, while others talk about how disappointed Dr. King would be if he could see the world today. Their messages are often as powerful as his!

Since that first year, I've discovered many MLK, Jr. books and resources. My favorite is Martin's Big Words. It tells the story of how young Martin grew up seeing, but not understanding, the prejudice in his world, and how he planned to change all that. Although I love the book, honestly, I love the youtube version {HERE} way more. The way the narrator reads, with the way the pages are panned, along with the music in the background just brings me to tears no matter how many times I watch it.

This year, I found the neatest way to show the differences in all of us are only skin deep using apples of all different colors and varieties. Everyone's seen the brown egg vs. white egg demonstration on Pinterest, and I love it, too, but this apple thing is really cool! It's totally NOT my idea! Nancy from First Grade Wow came up with the idea and has an entire unit based on the apples. You can get a free copy of that {HERE}.

I'm linking up with Mrs. Wills to share my plans for the week with you in a more compact format, too. 

We'll begin two-digit subtraction this week. My kids are beginning to see the light on regrouping in addition, and I really think subtraction will make the addition more concrete for them! Last week, I showed them a couple of videos from Khan University, and two kids' light bulbs turned right on! {LOVE} We'll start with base tens blocks, use Unifix cubes, and then go to pencil and paper pretty quickly this week (I hope). We're a little behind the pacing guide, but I'd rather have the children understand what they're doing than just sort-of learn an algorithm any day of the week! In fact, algorithms are about the last thing I teach...I'd rather the kids figure out what works for themselves. There's always somebody who just suddenly "discovers" regrouping.

If you've stayed with me this long, you really deserve a prize. Unfortunately, there's not one...but I do have my final Blog Hoppin' Resolution figured out!
Organization is NOT my strong suit! That's why it has taken me five days to get to day five (ha!). My New Year's Organization Resolution is...well, I don't know what it is! I think I'd like to get rid of all my paper copies of stuff I keep in this file cabinet, IF I have electronic copies (some of the stuff in here is from when I student taught in 1995!). I think I'd like to organize all my computer files by subject, season, holiday, etc. A lot of that is done, but when I download something new, I don't always put it in the right place, or if it's, say subtraction, but Christmasy, I never know which file to put it in, both? I'd like to get my house, classroom, lesson plans, calendar(s), family, and brain in some kind of synced working order. I have no idea how to begin to do that! Maybe I need to resolve to organize my organization resolutions by putting them in order of importance, then making a schedule of when to tackle each organizational project. Hey! I think that's it! Goodness knows I have enough bins, boxes, trays, and other organizers to organize the entire world - it's just a matter of using them, labeling them, and putting the junk I get out BACK IN THEM!


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Saturday, January 4, 2014

New Years Bloghop: Teachin' Like a Genius?

Whoa! Blog Hoppin's Day Four came just at the right time for me! As I read my Bloglovin' feed this morning, I was TO-TAL-LY inspired by Anchored In 3rd Grade's Genius Post. I probably spent over an hour right then and there, at the bathroom sink, where I'd previously been brushing my teeth, browsing, researching, learning, and digging into Genius Hour. It's definitely my professional goal to implement this incredible program in 2014! If you've not heard about it, you can read more {HERE}, {HERE} and {HERE}. I think once you've read and watched, you'll be hooked, too!

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Friday, January 3, 2014

New Years Linky Party Girl

Well, maybe a day late and a dollar short, but never too late to join a party, I'm linking up with Diane from Fifth in the Middle and Bloghoppin to share some resolutions with you.

So, I started on Day 3, but I'll update on days 1 & 2, as well.
Fun & Family: Spend less time at school (or on school stuff at home) and spend WAY more time doing fun things with my family. We have weekly family meetings, which are kind of fun in and of themselves, but we plan fun things to do together during these meetings, and I love that time together! This is one new tradition I'm hanging on to!
Baking together!
Crafting & Creating: I finally joined the Silhouette bandwagon and bought myself a cameo for Christmas. I'm TO-TAL-LY in the learning stage, but I've made a pretty decal for my computer, and two phone case inserts per daughter so far. My goal is to learn how to use that thing better, and monogram everything that will stand still long enough! I'd also really, really, really like to catch up on the 5 years of scrapbooking that I'm behind on! Yikes! As for creating, I'm always trying to think of new things that will help my students, and I create as many as I can. I've enlisted the help of my ultra-creative 11 year old daughter on ideas, but she hasn't given me an answer yet...

Finally, Fitness: My goal this year is to lose an additional 60 pounds. I've already lost 90, but with 60 more I would be ROCKIN'! I've broken down and begun to exercise (blech!) with a kettleball (LOVE) and the treadmill (enh? it's not so bad). I'll keep up with my weight watchers group and quit eating after 8 p.m. Wish me luck!
90 lbs lighter

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Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Currently Happy New Year!

Happy, Happy New Year, Everybody! I'm so excited each January - it's the chance to begin again, re-establish priorities, and have a fresh, clean slate. I'm linking up with Farley for Currently to share some of my thoughts on this first day of 2014.

With that said, I've been addicted to Tobi Fairley's design blog lately, and I have some pics to share with you, from her, to get your new year off to the fresh start I'm feeling.

Okay, and confession: I am AH-MAZED to be in the first 100 link-ups on currently - that's a first for me!

Happy Hugs, XOXO,
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