Friday, January 27, 2012

Are you going??? I am!

I'm talking about the Kindergarten Expo! I am so excited being that I NEVER get to go to any kindergarten conferences. I've always wanted to go to a kindergarten conference and now I get too!! YEA... if you haven't gone over to register then RUN now... it's going to be great!! The goodie bag is well worth the ticket price, which is discounted today.

Here is the link: http://virtualteachingexpo.com/everythingk.php

I can't wait to hear what everyone has to say!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

news... I've got news...

I meet with an orthopedic dr today who specializes in sports medicine and KNEES! He read the MRI report... pushed, pulled, and twisted on my knee... took some new x rays and decided that he didn't want to do surgery (yet). We are going with complete rest and steroids to remove all the swelling. Then we will look at the next step... maybe brace with some intense PT and getting to go back to work. I so want to get back to work... I miss my school and my kids and everything.

So for the next few days I'm sitting and resting and waiting for the steroids to kick in and remove all swelling. I guess while I sit, I'm going to work on some new units to teach. Yea that's what I'll do. Rest, create some fun things for us to do when I get back and heal.Sounds like a plan right?

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

blessings and the search for answers

I really haven't shared much here about my knee. I've had two falls at school... one last year, which started the trouble, and then again right before Christmas break. Long story short... I've hurt my knee. The MRI shows a possible tear and a possible fracture. I use the word possible because that is what is written in the MRI report. I'm not a dr, although I give out band aids on a daily basis. I go Wednesday to see an orthopedic who specializes in sports medicine and knees. I'm scared. Part of me is scared that there is nothing wrong and the pain that I am feeling is in my head. The other part is scared that this something that will need surgery. I've cried off and on for the past few days... just not sure how to feel. I want answers. Real answers... the kind of answers that are definitive. I'll hopefully get those answers tomorrow at 1:40pm.

In all this I've realized some of the true blessings in my life, and you know they haven't come from expected places. These blessings have come out of the blue... from people I never expected. I'm blessed. I know that and it humbles me to the core. It gives me the drive to face this knee stuff and the desire to get back on my feet. If you pray... please thank God for the unexpected blessings in your life. He put them there just for you. and if you think about it... say a prayer for me. I truly want this knee healed, the kind of healed that will allow me to return to my weight loss goals.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Questions... lots of questions!

Morning bloggers!
I am in desperate help of having some questions answered. I KNOW that you can help me. First, I LOVE to teach by anchoring to a book or story. But I am struggling with the organization of the books and lessons. When we were a reading first school and had to do vocabulary driven read a louds, our literacy coach would create a folder system and we would check out the folder we needed and return it when finished. I guess that I am wishing that I had something like that now. But here is where the problem or potential problem comes in... if I pull and store those books in folders, then I don't have a copy in my classroom library. ugh! I guess the problem actually goes deeper... as I am adding wonderful resources from places like TPT, or through workshops, I am struggling to keep it all organized! If you have a blog post or can share how you keep your teaching books organized, or the bigger picture all the teaching themes organized... please share the link - I'm on my knees begging here.

Ok so now to problem number 2! I have torn the "stuff" that holds the knee cap in place and possibly broken something close to the tear. So I have been taken off work. I've cried, I've screamed, but the reality is that I get a few days of vacation until my case moves from the workers comp doctor over to the orthopedic doctor. I'll admit it, I'm a control freak! Not so much with people or the kids but it comes screaming to the surface when you start talking about the "stuff" in my room! My class this year is just not the group to keep things in order. They just don't care. I've tried to minimize the "stuff" that they will be using down to the "I don't care if it gets lost or broken" stuff. I guess it helps to know that each child had crayons with their name on them kept in a bag in the center of their table. These are now in my closet and the "group" work crayons are in the table buckets. I'm the kind of person who doesn't like my marker tips smooshed or my crayons broken. And some of my students are too, so we label everything! This really helps to teach responsibility, but I've got 3-4 that just could care less.

I'm faced with writing sub plans and creating centers that the sub can actually run. Mind you most of our subs have a high school diploma and really feel that they don't need or have to teach anything. The end of that is BIG because I need them teaching... but I can't write plans that are too long or they just stop reading and following them. So how do you handle subs in your room? And what if it's more than one day... say 2-3 weeks to recover from surgery?

Thanks for helping....

Sunday, January 15, 2012

3 in 30 week 2... otherwise known "as the end of the world as I know it"

WOW what a week. I've probably started and deleted this post 20 times. This week was not a good one. And I really don't know how to pull much positive from it... so I apologize now for this.

Let's start with challenge 1- no Dr pepper after 3pm. This has been a struggle for me this week... and I have to admit that on 3 different occasions I was still drinking dr pepper after 3. The first was a staff meeting where we were told the laundry list of things that we are not doing right and needed to be fixed before the state department of ed does their first of two walk throughs - starting on Jan 23. now this isn't so bad until you realize that a lot of what they want require me to stand in a chair and hang exemplars or anchor charts on my walls...and I am currently on crutches! That afternoon, I had to walk out of the meeting (ok crutch out) to the coke machine and get a dr pepper. Sorry body but my brain was melting down. I guess technically the second and third times really happened on the same day.. and that was the day that the world I know ended. I'll explain that in a minute. So as I left PT I got a route 44 (it was 2:50 and the news from PT wasn't good), and then headed back to school for an emergency staff meeting. I really thought it was another list of things I needed to do. SHOCK of shocks.. it wasn't (I promise to get to that part in a minute... just stay with me). So that route 44 ended up being nursed until almost 7pm.

And my table... well it's mostly clean. I'm going in Monday to work on it. I have been able to hold reading groups at the table AND I had a sped meeting that we sat around my table.

And now I present REM singing "it's the end of the world as we know it" and I'm trying to "feel fine", but honestly I don't. So my Friday started off with a trip to the dr and PT. Not the best news, my range of motion sucks in my hurt knee. I really struggle to do the exercises they want me to do and it HURTS! So while being forced to preform actions that made my knee hurt I get a text saying "emergency staff meeting, come quick". So I got back to school as quick as I could, but still walked in 5 minutes late and thinking that we were about to be hit with another to do list. Man was I wrong. My principal, someone I respect and am fortunate to call friend, meet me at the door. She told me that the woman speaking to the group was our new principal and that she had resigned. I feel like I have lost SO much. She was someone I took pride in teaching for and I knew where I stood with her. I feel like I've been sucker punched. and just in time for state walk throughs and audits. I've been crying off and on all weekend. Other teachers in my building have said "roll with the punches" and I will, but this hurts. And I guess it will for awhile... and it was the reason for the biggest breakdown in my dr pepper fight. I did decide on Saturday to cut it off at 2, and I've done the same today.

Just writing this hurts but I know I need to move past and get ready for a new chapter to start on Tuesday (oh and my MRI on Tuesday afternoon). I am truly hopeful that the new week is better when it comes to my goals. I also pray that they find the source of my knee issue and get it fixed.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Be my Valentine Exchange

I am SOOO excited to be part of the Be my Valentine exchange. Click on the link to find out how you can join.


Be My Valentine

Saturday, January 7, 2012

3in30 week 1 update

Happy Saturday all!! I can't believe that the first week of January is gone. WOW! I really never came up with a third goal and honestly I am ok with that. I am working hard on my two goals and I think that might be enough for now.

Ok... the Dr pepper goal- going well. I really only had one day where I REALLY wanted a Dr Pepper after 3pm. That was the day were the dr told me that I'm most likely headed for knee surgery. I can explain that whole mess later- just know that any goals of exercising are out of the question right now- I'm on crutches. So that night I really wanted a BIG HONKIN glass of Dr Pepper. But I didn't... no really. I didn't. I took a pain pill instead.Needed the pain pill, didn't need the soda. So that little goal is working well for me. I did wonder if my soda intake would increase in the morning because I knew the "cut off" was coming, but it hasn't. I am still doing the same things... route 44 on the way to school... then sip on it all day. 3pm rolls around and no more soda. Kind of cool, if I do say so myself.

Now the table goal... um...does have a table count? Really it's better but it's only week 1. Here is what is happening now. No longer do the children "turn in" anything on my table. We use a turn in bucket (which is near my table). I have enough room on my table to hold a small group without having to "dump" stuff everywhere. So imagin half of this table being covered... and the other half clear.
I know not perfect but it's a start right?For the coming week, I plan to work on organizing the area that has "stuff" on it. I will be throwing away magazines/catalogs and "mail" that I do not need. Papers that have a hanging clipboard will go on that clipboard. 

So there it is... my week in review. I feel good about the way I'm going...

Friday, January 6, 2012

WOW what a week!!

with as bad as this week started for me, I have to say that this afternoon was A-M-A-Z-I-N-G!!! I am going to stop right here for not having pictures! I know bad bad blogger. But I will take some on Monday. Ok back to amazing... we used this week to really practice our behavior and procedures. One thing that I decided to change with my class is how I do stations. My kids are not independent enough to complete more than one rotation at a time. So now we "play" my turn your turn. I should mention that our school embraces walk to read. Our kinders are "leveled" according to DIBLES the first nine weeks and a combination of DRA and DiBLES in the second semester. Teacher observations are mainly what would move a child between the two groups. So I have the lower group of children. I love my kids but I really wish that they were a little more independent.  My stations now work like this... 15 minute opening/ whole group lesson on phonemic awareness. Then 10 minutes at a station (I pull a small group). Then 10 minute whole group  phonics (sound/ symbol) or spelling lesson. Next, 10 minutes at a station. 10 minute lesson on sight words and "reading". back to stations for 10 minutes. 10 minute whole group lesson- sounding out/ blending or writing. One more round of stations for 10 minutes. and lastly, read to self time. We are not up to 10 minutes yet (we just started after thanksgiving). We have reached 5 minutes.

This schedule is harder on me but it is SO much better!! Here is something else, if you don't quickly come to the carpet, you sit out of some of your next station time. This is REALLY cutting down on kids not cleaning quickly. I set a timer and even if I don't say a word, the second you hear the timer (and it's LOUD) you start cleaning up. Then I count down from 10 (either slowly if everyone is doing the right thing or quickly if children are playing). I do include 0 in my count down. When the kids here 0 they may circles around their eyes and say "Eyes on Mrs. Day". Then I start my lesson.

Here are a few pictures of my letter activities that I have at Teachers Notebook.

This is the snowman letter naming activity.  You can grab it at Teachers Notebook by clicking on the picture. 
Look at how hard this sweet baby is working!! LOVE these!! There will be a LOT more of them to come. In lots of different versions (think math, beginning sounds, ending sounds etc)
These babies are working with the monkey letter naming. The day I introduced this station, 3 of our 5 stations had versions of this activity. The second day 2 of the 5 had this activity and then the third day we were ready for this to be a single station. I like the reinforcing of having multiple stations with the new activity.



Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Can I call a do over?

UGH! Can I please get a do over? Please... I really want to do today over, but without my room being broken into over break, and glass everywhere and plywood over the windows. Please, I'm really not asking a lot!! I don't know if I've mentioned it here, but I work at a very low income school. I love my babies but sometimes I want to move them out of the environment that they are growing up in.

In the last 5 weeks (including 2 weeks of vacation) we have had 3 break ins! All the classrooms had smartboard and projectors installed. They were up all last year and not a single break in. This year, not the same story. Almost all of the projectors have been removed by those breaking in the school. You know... I just don't get it. Back when I started teaching, an education was thought of as a way out and families wanted their kids to have better than what they had. It doesn't feel that way now. Now it feels like no one cares if children are educated or if our schools have what tools we need to educate those children. Sorry to vent... it just really is frustrating. And my babies are MY babies... I want them to grow and learn and be productive citizens one day.

Ok venting over... I LOVE my job! I have some BIG challenges  but today I got to look a chance to do some mid year assessments. I was blow away from their growth!! Yep we are STILL big time not were we are supposed to be but OH HOW WE HAVE GROWN! The majority of my kids knew no numbers. They could count to 5 or so, but they couldn't write them or identify them. Today all but 1 child could identify the numbers 0-10!! (Oh that one child was absent ;) ) They can write the numbers 1-10 and can make sets!! GO babies GO!! I am so proud of them!! Now lets get really excited 'cause my babies can add and subtract!!

Every morning we do Calendar Math that Counts. Way back I started working with 10 frames and wanted a way to create a number daily. Now that 10 frame will have 2 colors or shapes filling the squares. I call it the "How many game". I start by asking the kids how many. I literally say.. Ok who can tell me how many. While waving my hand in front of the ten frame. We write down the number. Some kids can look at the ten frame and just know the number. Some know that the top line being filled up means that there are 5 and they count the rest from 5. And some need to count every dot (or square, heart, snowflake etc). Since there are 2 different shapes or colors we can see how to make a number out of it's parts. We then talk about what would happen if Mrs. Day gave away all the red dots. We then write a math sentence for both the addition and subtraction.I'll try to remember to take some pictures tomorrow.

Thank you for letting me be human and vent about this... I needed it! (and I feel SO much better too)

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Word work and teachers notebook


I have been working on some ideas to add to my word work station. This is a simple matching game where the kids match the upper case and lower letters. Then they record the upper and lower case pair on the recording sheet. I added them to my Teacher's Notebook store. There are three different themes monkeys, snowmen, and zoo animals. Click on the pictures below to go to my Teacher's Notebook store.




Welcome 2012....

It's hard to believe that we are just 12 hours into the new year. Where did 2011 go? Yesterday I really didn't take time to reflect on 2011 or the happenings of the past, as Timon and Pumba say "you've got to put your past behind you". What wise words... my friends. If you think about it, you can't change the past but you can let it inspire your future.

Recently I was introduced to a challenge, well maybe a way to change your life in manageable chunks. It's called 3 in 30. Basically you look at the things you want to do and take them a step at a time. Kind of cool. And if you think about your goals as measurable then you know when you have met the goal. The other thing is that your goals need to be realistic. So I've been thinking about what I want to work on. I came up with some big categories: organization (downsizing); bad habits (soda pop and sweets) and work/home balance. So those aren't really goals... you can't measure them nor do they seem realistic. I am thinking of 3 in 30 as baby steps. In June I read an article that talked about aspartame being responsible for several illnesses. (google it, there is a lot out there) It kind of hit me hard. I was a HUGE diet coke drinker. Think almost 2L a day. And if I were really honest, I was over that most days. It was the calming item in my life. Stress eating me away... drink a diet coke. In a teacher training I was talking to a gal who had recently given up all soda because of migraines. Her doctor had read some of the same information that I had and was concerned that migraines might be linked to aspartame.

Light bulb moment for me... I noticed a pattern in my migraines... lots of stress equaled an attack. So to the dr I went. And he said "it can't hurt and probably would be the healthy choice to stop drinking diet coke." Knowing me he suggested that I use baby steps and set a goal of being soda free by July 1,2012. First step, be completely off diet coke- not craving it or missing it by Jan 1. Guess what- here I am diet coke free, only having one migraine attack since mid June, and I don't miss diet coke. But I still drink soda... Dr Pepper to be exact. Now comes the task of removing it from my life, and this is where the 3 in 30 is going to make this a reality. Step 1- (January item #1) no Dr Pepper after 3 pm!  Step 2- (Feb item) No Dr Pepper after noon. I hope that this is as easy as it would seem. This goal falls under the bad habits section of my big categories.

The next item that I want to tackle is my classroom. Well one area at a time (big category- organization). I am starting with my teaching table. I don't have a teacher desk because it would be covered in JUNK! But what happens is through out the day I tell the children to "put it on my table". Then the end of the day arrives and guess what... my table is covered! And I usually just make stacks and set them aside until later...well later never seems to come. So goal 2 is to spend 10-15 min each day keeping my table clean. This is going to happen in 2 steps. Step 1 is to check the table at lunch time, if there are stacks of student work, clip them and get them into the grade me bucket or into the paper passers bucket. 5 minutes at lunch should remove everything from the morning. Then at dismissal when the kids are checking their mailboxes, I need to check my table. This will give me an idea of what has accumulated during the afternoon. I really need to figure out where the problem starts so that I can stop it.

The home school balance is big, but I don't have it broken down into goals yet. I finish grad school this summer and I know that will be a HUGE help in the balance of things. But until then I need to start thinking about what I can do to bring balance to my life.

So short version of my goals:
1. no dr pepper after 3pm.
2. teaching table checked 2 a day for "piles"
3.don't have one yet... hope to by Friday.