hold please...

Monday, July 30, 2012
Those can be the most annoying two words in the English language. I love when calling the dr or any other office that the sweet voice on the other end utters "hold please" and then click. Your on hold. With the wonderful opportunity to interview for not one but two dream jobs, I feel like my back to school plans are on hold. I mean really who wants to set up two classrooms, right?

So I feel antsy and jittery, because I know those precious minutes of set up are ticking away. So I've been working here at home trying desperately to get organized. Not working very well. And I need to add here that I am somewhat disappointed with what I have seen at Target so far! I so needed some more of the alphabet stamps and number stamps that they had last year. Maybe it's just my Target but I am surprised not to see many posts about the dollar spot either. But I am LOVING the Target back to school ads!! This one is my favorite:

I'm also waiting for a final grade on my last class to graduate. Funny how the class ended Friday (as in just past) and I graduate this Friday... ugh! I don't remember being this stressed at undergrad. Maybe the passing of years has wiped that memory away. LOL... I did find out that I walk either way. It's just one way I get my diploma Friday night, the other way I have to work some on the portfolio from hell some more.

So I'm hanging out is "hold please" land. Listening to awesome music on spotify, reading, and trying to organize.

when oppertunity knocks...

Friday, July 27, 2012
I am almost scared to share this but here goes...

As I have posted here, this past year was not a shining moment in my career. It really hit me hard and often I thought I was down for the count. It seems that something I did as a knee jerk reaction might bring changes to my life. I am part of a big district (over 20 elementary schools) and the way to change schools is to request the opportunity to transfer by sending paperwork to principals at the schools you would like to move too. Well after one particularly hard day I filled out 8 or so requests and sent them off. My current principal had to sign them and was very sad. Of course, she understood the reason why I just wanted to have the opportunity. See if you don't fill out this paperwork and send it, then you can not be interviewed for any open positions within that building. Three principals have contacted me this week about setting up interviews. One position was a first grade room, which I did not want in the least (sorry firstie friends!) But I interviewed anyway for two reasons, just because it is not something that i want doesn't mean that God doesn't have a different plan for me and two it's been 4 years since I had an interview!

But here is the exciting part... the school where my room was cut 2 years ago has a kindergarten opening!! I would die to get back there!! I am still really really close to some of the teachers there. Ahh it would be wonderful. And then I got a call saying that there is an opening at our Pre K center and would I be interested in interviewing for that spot... yes hello- people don't retire from there, they die there! (well you know what I mean). So here I am, I have a kinder spot (the grade I love, other than prek) and I have two interviews for WONDERFUL schools teaching the levels I love!!

The idea that I might have to pack up a room the week before teachers go back is a bit daunting but I could embrace it! I had to share with you guys... you were here for me in the bad, so I thought we could celebrate the potential together. Of course I am a bit scared that I wouldn't get either position. I've had that happen before too. Please say a prayer... I would love to change schools. It would do me good too.

Back to busy days of summer!

Monday, July 23, 2012
This week there is SO much going on in my little world. I have reached a point with PT that has caused more pain. I am told that it is nothing to worry about and that I should work through it. Ok.... not pleased but that is what I am going to do ;)

I also got my first chance to get back into my room. This summer we got new paint on the hallway walls and doors. And the floors were waxed... they are so shiny! The down side is that everything that was neatly organized and pushed against the wall is now unorganized and all over the place. I was a bit shocked... ok a LOT shocked. But I am also ready to get things found set up... I tried to look today for several things and gave up in the heat! So I came home to work on whisper phones, maracas, and book tubs. I got 10 whisper phones made... I can not wait to use these!! I am so tempted to make a class set.

I even started looking at the proposed schedule and how I would break that into my schedule. Since I make my lesson plans on the computer I wanted to have a working template ready to go before school started. I think I'm starting to get excited about school starting again. I know i feel more prepared.

On another note, I graduate from Grad school August 3. I've dreamed of this since I was pregnant with my daughter (who turns 13 this year). I can't believe that it's here!! I've finished my final reports and just waiting on a grade. (had an A before the final report was turned in.) I can not wait to get that diploma!! I AM going to hang it in my classroom!

I feel like I am back to the busy days of summer running kids to sports camps, trying to fit in rehab, and rest before the days of sleeping in are over. I love my busy little life! I am so blessed, in so many ways...

Writers notebooks in kindergarten...

Sunday, July 22, 2012
I am SOOO excited about using a writers notebook this year. I have a plan to start out with four tabs (ideas, works in progress, finished, and helps). In between the works in progress and finished section I have cut a two pocket folder down to 8.5 x 11. I am trying to move away from single page writing prompts in to something more authentic. In the book Already Ready, Katie Wood Ray and Matt Glover use a folded blank book to mirror picture books. This is where I want to start!

This is a journey... so I expect things will grow and change as the year moves on. Here is a picture of the tabs... I printed them with a picture to help us find the section we are looking for. Then I decided that at the beginning of the year, or as new students come in, that it might be easier to use colored tabs.

 The orange pocket is to hold our books, those we are working on and those that have been shared.
The plan is to start working on books on the first day of school but I am not introducing the notebooks until later in the week or the second week. I want to spend a lot of time building the idea of story telling with a partner. I really think that the first week is going to be crazy full with procedures and activities so this will be a nice break!

How do you...

Wednesday, July 18, 2012
I am thinking about centers for the coming year. I seem to always struggle at the VERY beginning when we don't know enough centers. I have been blog hopping and looking at different center ideas. One thing that I keep seeing is to practice, practice, practice. Which is leading me to the question how exactly do you practice?? How do you practice when you might not have materials for every child?

I think that I tend to struggle with practice early on because I am not sure what to do with those who don't have materials. Maybe I am missing something but I would love to hear how you start teaching center, and how you practice them. If you have this posted somewhere please link it for me. Thank you!

Sharing something that I wrote....

Monday, July 16, 2012

This is a little piece that I wrote thinking about teaching. It's not long, nor is it finished... but I wanted to share it in its rough state.

Teaching is a dream job. I dream alongside children as they begin a journey to become productive. I dream the “what if’s” and the “I want to’s”. I dream of a better tomorrow because small children are given the chance to grow and learn and not be held down because of race, religion, or gender. I am a dream weaver as I open new doors and share with children what tomorrow can hold. I nurture dreams that have taken sprout. I watch them grow. I have been given the gift of being able to love children where they are, not because of what they can do, or where they came from, but just because God placed them into my path. Some days are the stuff of dreams, fluffy, cheerful, and bright; and others are nightmares. But the dreams are big, and often we don’t quite reach them. I like to tell my dreamers that if you aim for the sun, even if you miss, you are among the stars. Star light, star bright, first star I see tonight, I wish I may, I wish I might guide a dreamer among the stars tonight.


Starting to get excited....

Sunday, July 15, 2012
I am so grateful to the blogging teachers out there! The advice I was given was so heartfelt and honest. I believe that your words were what I needed, and the ideas were wonderful too!! I loved how I wasn't alone, and how so many shared their feelings, or struggles and how they moved on. I am very happy to report that I am starting to move on. I've done several things that were suggested along with Target and Walmart putting out school supplies. I'm a nerd but I LOVE new school supplies. And I am so happy to hear so many other teachers are too!

First let me share what I did to help me get the past behind me (to quote Pumba). I decided to create new labels, organize and re-label work folders. It was the re-labeling process that was  the best for me. This idea came from The Peterson Family. Her K team meets at the end of the year to complete folders. The team uses this time as a way to heal or just get off their chest the year, venting if need be, laughing or crying too. Once the process is over, then so is the year. I really loved this but my folders were long gone. In stead, I sat in our tiny "office"/ computer den and went through each child's work folder. I'm sure that the neighbors would have thought I had finally lost my mind if they were watching. I talked out loud about EVERY child. I had one student who's mom was in the military. Being a single parent she had brought the child to our school because he would be living with grandmother. He was only will me late August to November but that baby was so sweet. I cried over not being able to be his year long teacher. Then I came upon a triple D folder. I cried, I yelled and I put to bed that child. He or she is no longer my responsibility. I have done all that I could for them and they are moving on. I feel much better now that I have celebrated each child.

In this process I thought of something they do on Survivor, well I hope they still do I haven't watched it in a while. When it came down to the final 3 they would take a remembering journey. Along the way the came upon the torches of those who were voted out. Each person would speak about the fallen castaway. In the end the torches were burned. This cleaning out process felt much like that... a remembering and moving on.

Then I noticed that more and more people were starting to see items from Target or Walmart on their blogs. So I finished my healing with some retail therapy. I don't have pictures of everything but here are some things I got a Walmart... all 88 cents!
 I thought these would be cute to mail home! The welcome would go out the first week of school- yea I know I am going to be EXHAUSTED! But I think that it will be one way to reach my kids and start my parent communication. The ones with the bus say " a note from your teacher". I really want to write my parents each week. I want them to get a note that talks about their child's success or a celebration.
These are some letter stickers that I am going to use for Chicka Chicka Boom Boom name activities. There are 6 sheets in the pack for 88 cents! And the little owl ones were too cute to pass up!
Then they had these little stamp pads. I didn't like the ones from Target last year. I know alot of people had success with them, but I didn't. Again just 88 cents!

So between the clean out and the shopping I am starting to get excited about school starting back! I plan to hit Target too... my kids have writing camp this week so I'll have two hours to kill while they are at camp. :)


Needing some advice ...

Sunday, July 8, 2012
I don't really vent much but I need, I mean really need some help! This past year was not the best. I had a trio of students that made the year difficult, and add to that our principal left mid year... and then my knee issue and it was probably the worst year of my teaching career. I really don't want to put to much out on my blog but I need help. I can't seem to let go of it. Every wonderful new idea that I am learning in Summer Institute is slammed back by memories of the triple D (the 3 students who were difficult). Or by thoughts of well I won't have any support for this idea. I'm really struggling.... more than I ever have. I need to shake off last year and start getting excited about next year. I'm stuck....how do I shake off the old... not let it bother me... how do I move forward with the baggage from the year before! Please share... I need it!

Journals/ notebooks in Kinder

Saturday, July 7, 2012
I am really excited about sharing this... I love the math journal that I used this year. We started off every, yes EVERY, math session with our journals. We did ALL kinds of things with this journal. I used prompts on some days, other days I would tell a story problem, and on even other days we would practice writing numbers or number words. So when I saw a place called kindergarten blog talking about the journals she uses... I was SOO EXCITED!! yep I'm yelling ;) If you have not checked out Mrs. Bell's blog hop over there now!


Have your heard...

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

This week I was introduced to a piece of, well a , um it's kind of a framework of sorts. Actually it's called a framework. It's a collaborative effort by the National Writing Project (NWP), Council of Writing Program Administrators (WPA), and the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE). The document (I'm still not sure what to call this) is titled Framework for success in  post-secondary writing. I know what you are thinking... it's probably the EXACT same thing I thought when the first slide hit the screen.... I teach kinder so why am I thinking about this. Well the answer came very quickly as Sherry (the presenter) drilled down this document to the simplest of terms. In the post-secondary world students need to be able to write and not just transcribe ideas but write well. Since we know that writing development (not transcription development but more of what Katie Wood Ray calls compositional development) takes place over time with increased opportunities to write in classes across the curriculum, teachers of the very young need to understand and possibly embrace the ideas in this Framework for Success in writing. Yep I left out the post secondary part, mainly as I think that these are outcomes for that age but I think the frameworks themselves are vital to all students.

So I started to get really excited about this framework but more specifically the habits of mind that it lays out for us. First let me define what I mean by habit of mind... a habit of mind refers to ways of approaching learning that are both intellectual and practical and that will support student's success in a variety of fields and disciplines. Ok stop and think for a minute.... approaches to learning that are both intellectual and practical... um... isn't that what we are all doing? is it important for our (little kinders) to be successful in a variety of fields and disciplines? So if it is expected of our little people to be able to have these habits of mind when they are big college people, wouldn't it be important for us to know about them? us being the teachers in elementary and secondary???

So after I got over my moment of anger in knowing all about the CCSS(common core) but knowing nothing about this document, I started asking where this document came from... as in how old is it, not who wrote it (that part I already knew). Sherry calmly explained that this is new and only introduced this January and will be rolled out at different conferences throughout the year. With my anger gone, I dove into the habits of mind. Let me list them: curiosity, openness, engagement, creativity, persistence, responsibility, metacognition. I won't define each of these but instead give you a link to check them out: Habits of mind

Here is where I got excited... the habits of mind are something that can be used in my classroom. They foster things like critical thinking. How cool... right? I also started thinking about Katie Wood Ray and Matt Glover in the book Already Ready. They talk about composition being a habit of mind. And I think that this idea is supported through the Frameworks list of habits of mind. For a child to compose (create) they need/use curiosity, openess (to look at new ideas or ways of doing things), the engagement is very high when they are allowed to be creative, they learn to be persistence, take ownership and are responsible for their work. WOW folks!! Talk about college bound kinders!

I'm really getting excited about teaching writing this year. I get a little worried that I might over do it and forget about the other subjects ;)

Ripping off bandaids... LRWP workshop

Tuesday, July 3, 2012
Today was an emotional day for me in writing camp (AC and Jax have started calling the Summer Institute that and I like it!) Our first workshop was presented around the idea of writing letters. The kick was that Caleb, the teacher presenter, was really interested in the idea of letter writing as a means to heal. And boy did I rip off a band-aid and let the healing start! I think I cried more this morning than I have in a long time about the subject that I wrote about. (sorry to personal to share here and it doesn't really speak to what I wanted to share about the workshop). We meet daily in writing groups and today ours was more a therapy group. Such a close bond is happening through writing. WOW... anyway this idea of writing letters got me really excited about using letters in my classroom. Now thinking about little people land and the lack of transcription skills at the beginning of the year, I am working to come up with a way to use pictures or illustrations to "write" to someone... or maybe starting as a group project that is used to create the what we want to know about section of a KWL chart. I see it working with my author and illustrator studies. It almost makes me want to teach older children, so that we could really explore this idea of writing letters.

I got kind of excited about the idea of researching a person and then writing letters to them. For example, writing to Rosa Parks about her not giving up her seat on the bus but in bigger terms how she found the courage to stand up against the norm. Or writing to the president to ask about policy and how it effects the future of the students. Of course the idea is not to mail the letter but to have students learn enough about a person to ask questions that would then drive them to find the answers. (see how cool this could be???)

I am working to complete the readings that I want to be finished with by the end of next week- when writing camp ends...sad. I have so much that I want to read and not enough time to complete it, or at least it seems that way! LOL... If you have not looked in the National Writing Project (NWP) and your local chapter then you simply MUST!! NWP was created for teachers to lead teachers into best practices in writing... and to create a community of writers. I never saw myself as a writer... not sure if I still do but I know that I am loving exploring the writer side of me. I know as a blogger I should feel like a writer but I had never thought of myself that way. As I work through what is my new position on writing in my classroom, I'll post snip it's here and see if you guys have ideas or thoughts on what I want to bring back to my classroom.
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